RECENT INTELLIGENCE. New-Zealand Mission.
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In a Letter received from Mr. George Clarke, dated Waimate, Nov. 17, 1848, the following remarks occur--
The lives of your first Missionaries have been wonderfully preserved in this land. Three of them, who first commenced the Mission in 1814 and 1819, are still living, and labouring amongst the Natives; beside several others who have been here more than a quarter of a century. They have witnessed all the changes which have taken place in the Mission, and they have been made to feel their entire dependence upon God, not only for first successes, but for continued successes. Their first trials were with Heathenism in its most savage form. After many years' labour they saw the triumphs of the Gospel, and very largely its ameliorating effects, even where it failed in vitality. Many thought the work more general, deep, and genuine in most of their converts than it proved to be. Deeply, therefore, were they afflicted when they found what a large mixture of nominal Christianity was amongst their people. They were prepared in a measure, before they left home, for trials among the Heathen, as well as perils; but, I think, not so well prepared for the severer trials of cold formality, where once appeared activity and life. The disgraceful irregularities of a Corinthian Church, under apostolic superintendence and ministration, had often been read by your Missionaries; but not so thoroughly understood as when they found they had to do with the same description of professors, and bitterly to lament to each other, and to their Congregations, as the Great Apostle to the Gentiles had, when writing to his beloved Philippian Church-- "Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping," &c. &c. Mingled, therefore, with gratitude for what has been done, and for manifold mercies to our families, there is deep cause for humiliation before God on account of many of the Native Congregations, as well as on our own account.
But the last eight years have, I think, been the most trying through which the Mission has had to pass since its first establishment.
That the aspect of the Mission has much changed since the commencement of colonization, and that many have disappointed us from whom we expected better things, are humiliating facts which we remember with deep sorrow. The almost universal desire for Christian instruction, which some years back rejoiced our hearts, has been arrested; and although the work of evangelization has never ceased, yet it has been painfully broken in upon and interrupted. The profession of Christianity is general amongst the Natives, yet it is held amidst much of cold formality and indifference to its sanctifying power. What has caused the alteration? There has been war, and all its concurrent evils and bad excitement; and the newly-awakened desire after Christianity has been for a season overpowered in the minds of many, by the adverse circumstances to which it was exposed.
But there is one pre-eminent cause of evil, in comparison with which, every other is inferior--the bad example of many of those professing Christians, who, carried thither from other lands, by that current of colonization, which for a period set in so strongly in the direction of the once cannibal islands of New Zealand, have settled on their shores.
To this new element of evil, continued reference is made in the Journals of our Missionaries.
Archdeacon Brown, in his Journal of April 1848, thus writes--
April 1--At Maungatautari, where I was occupied examining the Candidates for Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Addressed them at Evening Service.
April 2: Lord's-day--Held Divine Service morning and evening, baptizing, at the former, seven adults who have been on the list of Ca-
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techumens for several years, and, at the latter, four children. There were more than 200 at Service, but only 50 attended School in the afternoon. Their continual visits to Auckland are evidently exercising a baneful influence on their spiritual interests.
April 3--After addressing the Natives again at Morning Service, I proceeded to the neighbouring Pa, Wareturere. In the afternoon cards were brought out, and some of the Natives commenced playing, but desisted on my remonstrance. It is to be lamented that you cannot reprove a Native for any sin at the present day, without his being able to point to the Europeans at Auckland as affording an example of the same kind, whether it be card-playing, drunkenness, desecration of the Sabbath, or any other "works of darkness." This transition state of the Natives, from comparative barbarism to miscalled civilization, is most dangerous to their spiritual state. It proves that they were too young in grace for the full tide of colonization to rush in upon them, and raises the question whether their civilized barbarism was not preferable to their present barbarized civilization.
The Rev. W. Colenso, in his Journal of April 12, bears a similar testimony.
Causing the bell to be rung, I held Service, preaching from James iv. 8. Congregation, 150. Spent night till a late hour talking with Native Teachers: was grieved to hear of the falling away of three fine young Chiefs, Andrew, Maunsell, and Daniel, all from my first class, and all Communicants. And for this I am indebted to those vaunted fruits of civilization and Christian rejoicing, mule and horse-racing, card-playing, rum-drinking, &c, at the annual fetes at Wellington.
Yet amidst all this, there are two circumstances from which we may derive encouragement, and which ought to stimulate us to increased efforts on behalf of New Zealand.
The first arises from a consideration of the past as contrasted with the present. Because we have not as yet done all we might have wished, we must not be forgetful of what has been actually accomplished. Amidst all our drawbacks and disappointments, it is impossible to take a comprehensive view of the whole history of this important Mission, without being fully convinced of the immense improvement which has taken place in the general condition of the New-Zealand Aborigines, since the period when the first Missionaries reached their shores.
An extract from Archdeacon Brown's Journal bears strongly on this point.
March 28, 1848--After Morning Service, left for the woods. We passed over ground which brought vividly to my remembrance scenes that were fearfully distinguished in the southern war by murder and cannibalism. We mourn sometimes at the little progress made by the Natives in the religion of the heart. We long to see more "living stones" inserted in the temple of the Lord, and its walls rising so as shortly to receive the top stone amidst shoutings of Grace, grace unto it! But if the work does not keep pace with our most sanguine expectations, enough has been vouchsafed to excite gratitude for the past, and hope for the future. Infanticide, murder, suicide, cannibalism--the common occurrences of past years--have nearly passed away. Superstition and priestcraft are crumbling to ruins. The Sabbath is observed, not only as a day of rest from labour, but many, we trust, "rejoice and are glad" in engaging in its spiritual Services. And the Natives, instead of being huddled together in filthy Pas, and living in continual dread of attacks from their enemies, are now scattered in small parties over the face of the country, enjoying peace and its attendant blessings. Surely, then, our language ought to be, "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
The second encouragement is this--that amidst all the adverse circumstances with which it has had to contend, Christianity has never surrendered the conflict; that it is still energetically striving with the abounding evil that is around; that in the soul of many an individual, in the bosom of many a Christian New-Zealand family, and in many a cherished locality where an earnest Missionary is at work, it is still dispensing light and shedding abroad its ameliorating influences; and that we have reasonable grounds for hoping, that, if the efforts put forth by Christian England, at this memorable crisis in the history of the New-Zealand Aborigines, be only in some degree commensurate with the necessities of the case, the grace of God, in plenteous showers, will not be withheld to crown the work, until they that dwell under the shadow of our Missions in New Zealand shall "revive as the corn and grow as the vine."
We present some few of these encou-
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raging facts, as they lie, by no means thinly scattered, over the Journals of our Missionaries.
The following extracts are from the Journal of Archdeacon Brown--
March 30, 1848--At Te Toa I found an interesting assemblage of Natives from the surrounding hamlets. Public Worship, and the examination of the Candidates for Baptism and the Lord's Supper, occupied me throughout the day; and in the evening we held a Committee, settling ritengas for the government of their little communities.
March 31--Sleep was nearly banished from the Pa throughout last night, and as soon as the morn arose they commenced heating the ovens and preparing food: 250 sat down to breakfast soon after sunrise. They were divided into five classes, or rather Churches, belonging to different villages, and were amply supplied with kumera, eels, and other native delicacies. Their meal finished, and thanks being returned by a Native Teacher, perched for the occasion on the top of the Pa fence so that all might hear, they filed off quite in military order to the Chapel, where, at Divine Service, I again addressed them. I had the pleasure, also, of baptizing fourteen adults, and four children, and administering the Lord's Supper to twelve Communicants. After Service we assembled in the compound for School, and it was pleasing to find the large majority of the Natives capable of reading that blessed Volume, which, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, can make them wise unto salvation. In the afternoon we resumed our journey toward Maungatautari.
April 6--Went on to Otokai, a small village near Matamata. Here I received the key of Matamata Chapel, and was informed that there was not a solitary Native left in the Pa. A number of them are at Pakarau, waiting for a party from the Thames, to whom they are going to give a feast, the pledge of peace after a long existing war. Eighty Natives assembled at Evening Service; and at night, around a blazing fire, I had a Bible Class--a pleasure we are not so much accustomed to as we were before the Natives became civilized.
April 7--Sent a message to Pakarau, determining to spend another day with this tribe, a branch of those who have left Matamata. Addressed them at Morning and Evening Services, and at night assembled a party at my tent. The wind was too high to allow us to kindle a fire in the open air; so that instead of reading a chapter, as we did last night, they brought forward, in rotation and from memory, any passages of Scripture they had any difficulty in understanding, that I might explain their meaning.
Baptism of Two Chiefs.
April 30: Lord's-day -- At Otumoetai Pa, baptized Tupaia and two of his children, and Margaret's child, with Tini Poaka, and two of his children. A crowded Congregation of 400 Natives, some of them belonging to the heathen party, assembled to witness Tupaia's public admission to the Church. Preached from Philippians ii. 9--11. In the course of the address I referred to a conversation which I held in that Pa many years since on the same text, when the idea of Priests and Chiefs bowing the knee at the name of Jesus Christ, and confessing Him as Lord, was ridiculed. Women and children and slaves they thought might be induced to believe; but no one else. The time, however, had now arrived when I could appeal to their own experience, that "the word of the Lord standeth sure;" for their principal Chief had now declared himself on the Lord's side, and their principal Priest (Old Matthew) had for years been their Teacher, adorning, by a humble walk and consistent conversation, the glorious Gospel of the ever-blessed God. After Service we held School, the newly-baptized Chiefs taking their places in the class.
The Rev. W. Colenso, in a Letter dated Waitangi, Hawkes' Bay, Sept. 14, 1848, bears similar testimony.
There is a great change taking place, I may almost dare to say, an alteration for the better, among the tribes immediately about us. Two out of the four principal Chiefs of this district, Tareha and Kurupou, have lately embraced the faith, with all their followers, many of whom are now Candidates for Baptism; and of the other two Chiefs--Te Hapuku and Puhara--the eldest son of Te Hapuku, has also become a Candidate for Baptism; and the younger brother of Puhara, and several of his relations, are also professing the faith. This last year has been a harvesting one to the visible Church in New Zealand. Many Chiefs of note throughout the district have been baptized; many have learned to read; the number of Communicants is everywhere increasing; and the Papists, too, are casting their follies away for the truth as it is in Jesus.
And, lastly, the Rev. Richard Taylor, in a Letter dated Wanganui, Oct. 17, 1848, confirms the cheering prospects of improvement which the reports of the two preceding Missionaries open to us.
I am thankful to say the spiritual state of
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my district was never so prosperous as it is at this time, as far as I am capable of judging from increased attendance on the Means of Grace, and consistent living. I have never had so many applications for baptism, or so many Chiefs who have come forward to confess Christ. I have now in my book near 300 names of Candidates; and at the last Sacrament which was administered at Hikurangi, on the 1st of October, 440 attended the Lord's Table, and upward of 2000 were present from every part of my wide district, even as far as Taupo. I receive most satisfactory assurances that the great cause of truth is progressing: "The harvest is truly plenteous, but the labourers are few."