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THESE Letters which have already appeared before the Public in the very interesting account of New Zealand by the Rev. W. Yate, are now published in the present form by his permission, and with the sanction of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society. It is hoped that by the blessing of God, they may be the means of creating among the English poor, an interest in behalf of heathen nations; and also of exciting in their minds an anxiety to improve those religious privileges which so largely abound in their own favoured land. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." (Luke xii. 48.)
The profits (if any) will be given to the Church Missionary Society.
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THE people of England have a great many blessings of various kinds, of which they do not know the value, because, they have never known the want of them. It too often happens that men do not understand their "blessing's worth, till time has stolen away the slighted good." When it is gone, they wake up as it were from a dream, and say, "What a fool I was, not to make a better use of the blessing when I had it." This is true of things in general, but it is, particularly so of the blessings of the Gospel. The word Gospel means, glad tidings; it brings to sinful man the good news that there is a way, by which his guilt may be pardoned, and his naturally sinful soul, be presented faultless before the presence of God in glory with exceeding joy, (see Jude xxiv.) But there are thousands, tens of thousands,
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to whom it is no good news at all, for they pay no manner of heed to it; but when the angel shall stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, and shall lift up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, that there shall be time no longer, (see Rev. x. 5, 6,) then, when it is too late, they will understand the value of that message of mercy to which throughout their lives they turned a deaf ear! Oh this is an awful thought! Would to God that English people would but think of those superior blessings and privileges which they possess in comparison with other nations, where the Gospel has not been preached; and that they might be aroused to consider how they shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to answer for the neglect of such a weight of mercy: Alas! we must believe that there are many who shall come from the east, and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, while numbers of this favoured land shall be cast out.
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New Zealand is a country situated exactly on the opposite side of the globe to Old England; and none of the inhabitants of it, ever heard of God or a Saviour until about twenty years ago. Having no Bible, and nothing to guide them to the knowledge of the truth, the people of that country like all other heathens, are in a most deplorable condition; their minds are full of many strange and horrible notions. They however, all agree in thinking that their souls will not die with their bodies; and many think that they shall all go to a place of torment. They have no belief in any good and merciful God; but are fully persuaded in the existence of evil spirits. Thus amidst all the sorrows of life, and terrors of death, they have not one comfortable idea to turn to.
Besides this, where there is no knowledge of religion, the heart of man, which is naturally so corrupt, produces wickedness, and misery, much greater than is ever known in Christian countries. In England, if a man
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does not love God, he has some fear of the laws of men. A thief, or a murderer, is not here, suffered to live; but in those wretched countries, where the sound of the Gospel has not been heard, every crime is committed without control, and even horrors, which make the blood run cold, are gloried in. We may imagine what must be the misery of the people when we learn that in New Zealand, the following ceremony takes place whenever an infant receives a name, the Priest thrusts down the child's throat several small pebbles about the size of a large pin's head, in order to make it's heart hard and incapable of pity; and then he mutters over it a prayer addressed to the evil spirit, in which he prays, that the child may be influenced by this bad spirit, and may become cruel, brave, warlike, troublesome, a murderer, an adulterer, a liar, a thief, a disobedient person, and in a word may be guilty of every crime.
From the benevolent desire of instructing
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these unhappy people in the knowledge of the true religion, which alone, can give any real happiness, Mr. Yate and several other gentlemen, left their homes and country, and crossed the mighty ocean to visit the other side of the world. They knew the value of the Gospel, and they were willing at any sacrifice to carry the glad tidings to those distant shores, where sin and misery reign.
The following letters which were written by some New Zealanders after they were converted to Christianity cannot possibly be read without interest; nor without profit either, if the reader will but compare his own feelings with those which are therein expressed; for they are the feelings which naturally follow when religion takes its proper hold upon the heart. As soon as these New Zealanders were rightly instructed in the way of salvation made known in the Bible, they felt the true value of it; and rejoiced in it, as being to them such good news as they had never before had an idea of. So eager are
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they now to be taught, that the few places of worship, which have been built are crowded to such a degree that the men actually sit upon one another's shoulders; and they crowd round the doors and windows, that they may but catch the sound of Gospel truth. Alas! we see but little of such zeal for religion in our own more highly-favoured land. It was for the purpose of interesting the people of England in behalf of the New Zealanders, that Mr. Yate lately visited his native country, and after having collected money for the purpose of building churches, and maintaining more missionaries to instruct this ignorant people; he returned to live and die amongst them. Whoever feels that the knowledge of a Saviour is precious, will naturally desire to give that knowledge to others; nobody who is really travelling the road to heaven, but longs to take others with him. When we know the value of our own souls, then we begin immediately to care for the souls of others. Where this is not the case, it is a
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bad sign. Every one, however lowly his condition, may do something towards promoting the spiritual interests of those around him; and it is also right, that we should feel an interest in the happiness of our most distant fellow creatures.
In case any one who reads these letters should feel a desire to do something in behalf of the poor Heathen, but fancy that the trifle he could give would be of no use; it may be well to state that large sums of money have been collected in different parts of this country, by persons giving only one penny a week. And let it be remembered that our Saviour, while watching those who cast gifts into the treasury, saw a widow cast in two mites, which make a farthing; and said, that she had cast in more than they all, for while they had cast in of their abundance, she had cast in of her penury.
God looks at the heart, He considers not what we give, but why we give; He will despise and condemn the largest offering
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which can be made, if it does not come from a right motive; but the hard earned penny, which is given from a real love to souls, and from a deep feeling of gratitude to our Saviour, will in no wise lose its reward.