The refugees in Eimeo invited to return to Tahiti—Voyage of the king and his adherents—Opposition to their landing—Public worship on the Sabbath disturbed by the idolatrous army—Courage of the king—Circumstances of the battle of BunaauïUa—Death of the idolatrous chieftain—Victory of the Christians—Clemency of the king and chiefs—Destruction of the image, temple, and altars of Oro—Total subversion of paganism—General reception of Christianity—Consequent alteration in the circumstances of the people—Pomare's prayer—Tidings of the victory conveyed to Eimeo—Visits to Tahiti.
In the commencement of the year 1815, the affairs of Tahiti and Eimeo, in reference to the supremacy of Christianity or idolatry, were evidently tending to a crisis; and although the converts had carefully avoided all interference in the late wars which had desolated the larger island, they were convinced that the time was not very remote, when their faith and principles must rise pre-eminent above the power and influence of that system of delusion and crime, of which they had so long been the slaves, or plunge them in the deepest distress, and perhaps inevitable ruin. To maintain the Christian faith, and enjoy a continuance of their present peace and comfort, they foresaw would be impossible. Under the influence of these impressions, the 14th of July, 1815, was set apart page 145 as a day of solemn fasting and prayer to God, whose guidance and protection was implored. A chastened and dependent frame of mind was very generally experienced at this period by the Christians, which led them to be prepared for whatever in the course of Divine providence might transpire.
Soon after this event, the pagan chiefs of Tahiti sent messengers to the refugees in Eimeo, inviting them to return, and re-occupy the lands they had deserted. This invitation they accepted; and, as the presence of the king was necessary in several of the usages and ceremonies observed on such occasions, Pomare went over about the same time, formally to reinstate them in their hereditary possessions. A large number of Pomare's adherents, who were professors of Christianity, and inhabitants of Huahine, Raiatea, Borabora, and Eimeo, with Pomare-vahine and Mahine, the chief of Eimeo and Huahine, accompanied the king and the refugees to Tahiti. When they approached the shores of this island, the idolatrous party appeared in considerable force on the beach, assumed a hostile attitude, prohibited their landing, and repeatedly fired upon the king's party. Instead of returning the fire, the king sent a flag of truce and a proposal of peace. Several messages were exchanged, and the negociations appeared to terminate in confidence and friendship. The king and his followers were allowed to land, and several of the people returned unmolested to their respective districts and plantations. Negociations for the adjustment of the differences that had existed between the king and his friends, and the idolatours chiefs, were for a time carried on, and at length arranged, apparently to the satisfaction page 146 of the respective parties. The king, and those attached to his interest, were not however without suspicion, that it was only an apparent satisfaction; and they were not mistaken. The idolaters had indeed joined with them in binding the wreath of amity and peace, while they were at the same time secretly and actively concerting measures for their destruction.
The 12th of November, 1815, was the most eventful day that had yet occurred in the history of Tahiti. It was the Sabbath. In the forenoon, Pomare, and the people who had come over from Eimeo, probably about eight hundred, assembled for public worship at a place called Narii, near the village of Bunaauïa, in the district of Atehuru. At distant points of the district, they stationed piquets; and when divine service was about to commence, and the individual who was to officiate stood up to read the first hymn, a firing of muskets was heard; and, looking out of the building in which they were assembled, a large body of armed men, preceded and attended by the flag of the gods, and the varied emblems of idolatry, were seen marching round a distant point of land, and advancing towards the place where they were assembled. It is war ! It is war ! was the cry which re-echoed through the place; as the approaching army were seen from different parts of the building. Many, agreeably to the precautions of the Missionaries, had met for worship under arms; others, who had not, were preparing to return to their tents, and arm for the battle. Some degree of confusion consequently prevailed. Pomare arose, and requested them all to remain quietly in their places; stating, that they were under the special protection of Jehovah, and had page 147 met together for his worship, which was not to be forsaken or disturbed even by the approach of an enemy. Auna, formerly an Areoi and a warrior, now a Christian teacher, who was my informant on these points, then read the hymn, and the congregation sang it. A portion of scripture was read, a prayer offered to the Almighty, and the service closed. Those who were unarmed, now repaired to their tents, and procured their weapons.
In assuming the posture of defence, the king's friends formed themselves into two or three columns, one on the sea-beach, and the other at a short distance towards the mountains. Attached to Pomare's camp, was a number of refugees, who had, during the late commotions in Tahiti, taken shelter under his protection, but had not embraced Christianity; on these the king and his adherents placed no reliance, but stationed them in the centre, or the rear. The Bure Atua requested to form the viro or front line, advanced guard; and the apoa viri, or cheek of their forces; while the people of Eimeo, immediately in the rear, formed what they called the tapono, or shoulder, of their army. In the front of the line, Auna, Upaparu, Hitote, and others equally distinguished for their steady adherence to the system they had adopted, took their station on this occasion, and shewed their readiness to lay down their lives rather than relinquish the Christian faith, and the privileges it conferred. Mahine, the king of Huahine, and Pomare-vahine, the heroic daughter of the king of Raiatea, with those of their people who had professed Christianity, arranged themselves in battle-array immediately behind the people of Eimeo, forming the main body of page 148 the army. Mahine on this occasion wore a curious helmet, covered on the outside with plates of the beautifully spotted cowrie, or tiger shell, so abundant in the islands; and ornamented with a plume of the tropic, or man-of-war bird's feathers. The queen's sister, like a daughter of Pallas, tall, and rather masculine in her stature and features, walked and fought by Mahine's side; clothed in a kind of armour, or defence, made with strongly twisted cords of romaha, or native flax, and armed with a musket and a spear. She was supported on one side by Farefau, her steady and courageous friend, who acted as her squire or champion; while Mahine was supported on the other by Patini, a fine, tall, manly chief, a relative of Mahine's family; and one who, with his wife and two children, has long enjoyed the parental and domestic happiness resulting from Christianity,—but whose wife, prior to their renunciation of idolatry, had murdered twelve or fourteen children.
Pomare took his station in a canoe with a number of musketeers, and annoyed the flank of his enemy nearest the sea. A swivel mounted in the stern of another canoe, which was commanded by an Englishman, called Joe by the natives, and who came up from Raiatea, did considerable execution during the engagement.
Before the king's friends had properly formed themselves for regular defence, the idolatrous army arrived, and the battle commenced. The impetuous attack of the idolaters, attended with all the fury, imprecations, and boasting shouts practised by the savage when rushing to the onset, produced by its shock a temporary confusion in the advanced guard of the Christian army: some were slain, others wounded, and Upaparu, one of Pomare's page 149 leading men, saved his life only by rushing into the sea, and leaving part of his dress in the hands of the antagonist∗ with whom he had grappled. Notwithstanding this, the assailants met with steady and determined resistance.
∗This man was afterwards an inmate of my family, and, in conversation on the subject, has often declared that he did not go to battle to support idolatry, about which he was indifferent; but from the allegiance he owed to his chief, in whose cause he felt bound to fight, and who was leader of the idolatrous army.
Overpowered, however, by numbers, the viro or front ranks were obliged to give way. A kind of running fight commenced, and the parties intermingled in all the confusion of barbarous warfare.
“Here might the hideous face of war be seen,
Stript of all pomp, adornment, and disguise.”
The ground on which they now fought, excepting that near the sea-beach, was partially covered with trees and bushes; which at times separated the contending parties, and intercepted their view of each other. Under these circumstances it was, that the Christians, when not actually engaged with their enemies, often kneeled down on the grass, either singly or two or three together, and offered up an ejaculatory prayer to God—that he would cover their heads in the day of battle, and, if agreeable to his will, preserve them, but especially prepare them for the results of the day, whether victory or defeat, life or death.
The battle continued to rage with fierceness; several were killed on both sides; the idolaters still pursued their way, and victory seemed to attend their desolating march, until they came to the position occupied by Mahine, Pomare-vahine, and their companions in arms. The advanced ranks page 150 of these united bands met, and arrested the progress of the hitherto victorious idolaters. One of Mahine's men, Raveae,∗ pierced the body of Upufara, the chief of Papara, and the commander-in-chief of the idolatrous forces. The wounded warrior fell, and shortly afterwards expired. As he sat gasping on the sand, his friends gathered round, and endeavoured to stop the bleeding of the wound, and afford every assistance his circumstances appeared to require. “Leave me,” said the dying warrior; “mark yonder man, in front of Mahine's ranks; he inflicted this wound; on him revenge my death.” Two or three athletic men instantly set off for that purpose. Raveae was retiring towards the main body of Mahine's men, when one of the idolaters, who had outrun his companions, sparang upon him before he was aware of his approach. Unable to throw him on the sand, he cast his arms around his neck, and en deavoured to strangle, or at least to secure his prey, until some of his companions should arrive, and despatch him. Raveae was armed with a short musket, which he had reloaded since wounding the chief; of this, it is supposed, the man who held him was unconscious. Extending his arms forward, Raveae passed the muzzle of his musket under his own arm, suddenly turned his body on one side, and, pulling the trigger of his piece at the same instant, shot his antagonist through the body, who immediately lost hold of his prey, and fell dying to the ground.
∗In 1818 this individual accompanied us to Huahine, where he died a short time before I left the islands.
The idolatrous army continued to fight with obstinate fury, but were unable to advance, or make any impression on Mahine and Pomarevahine's page 151 forces. These not only maintained their ground, but forced their adversaries back; and the scale of victory now appeared to hang in doubtful suspense over the contending parties. Tino, the idolatrous priest, and his companions, had, in the name of Oro, promised their adherents a certain and an easy triumph. This inspired, them for the conflict, and made them more confident and obstinate in battle than they would otherwise have been; but the tide of conquest, which had rolled with them in the onset, and during the early part of the engagement, was already turned against them, and as the tidings of their leader's death became more extensively known, they spread a panic through the ranks he had commanded. The pagan army now gave way before their opponents, and soon fled precipitately from the field, seeking shelter in their pari's, strong-holds, or hiding-places, in the mountains; leaving Pomare, Mahine, and the princess from Raiatea, in undisputed possession of the field.
Flushed with success, in the moment of victory, the king's warriors were, according to former usage, preparing to pursue the flying enemy. Pomare approached, and exclaimed, Atira ! It is enough ! —and strictly prohibited any of his warriors from pursuing those who had fled from the field of battle; forbidding them also to repair to the villages of the vanquished, to plunder their property, or murder their helpless wives and children.
While, however, the king refused to allow his men to pursue their conquered enemies, or to take the spoils of victory, he called a chosen band, among which was Farefau, who had offered up the public thanksgiving at the festival in Eimeo and Patini, a near relative of Mahine, who had been page 152 his champion on that day, and sent them to Tautia, where the temple stood in which the great national idol, Oro, was deposited. He gave them orders to destroy the temple, altars, and idols with every appendage of idolatry they might find.
In the evening of the day, when the confusion of battle had in some degree subsided, Pomare and the chiefs invited the Christians to assemble, probably in the place in which they had been during the morning disturbed—there to render thanks to God, for the protection he had, on that eventful day, so mercifully afforded. Their feelings on this occasion must have been of no common order. From the peaceful exercise of sacred worship, they had been that morning hurried into all the confusion and turnoil of murderous conflict with enemies, whose numbers, equipment, implacable hatred, and superstitious infatuation from the prediction of their prophets, had rendered them unusually formidable in appearance, and terrible in combat. Defeat and death had, as several of them have more than once declared, appeared, during several periods of the engagement, almost certain; and, in connexion with the anticipated extirpation of the Christian faith in their country, the captivity of those who might be allowed to live, the momentous realities of eternity, upon which, ere the close of the day, it appeared to themselves by no means improbable they would enter; had combined to produce a state of agitation, unknown in the ordinary course of human affairs, and seldom perhaps experienced even in the field of battle. They now celebrated the subversion of idolatry, under circumstances that, but a few hours before, had threatened their own extermination, with the overthrow of the religion they had espoused, and on page 153 account of which their destruction had been sought. The Lord of hosts had been with them, the God of Jacob was their helper, and to him they rendered the glory and the praise for the protection he had bestowed, and the victory they had obtained. In this sacred act they were joined by numbers, who heretofore had worshipped only the idols of their country, but who now desired to acknowledge Jehovah as God alone.
The noble magnanimity of the king and chiefs in the hour of conquest, when under all the intoxicating influence of recent victory and conscious power, were no less honourable to the principles which they professed, and the best feelings of their hearts, than conducive to the cause of Christianity. This generous temper did not terminate with the command issued on the field of contest, but it was a prominent feature in all their subsequent conduct.
When the king despatched a select band to demolish the idol temple, he said, “God not to the little island, where the women and children have been left for security; turn not aside to the villages or plantations; neither enter into the houses, nor destroy any of the property you may see; but go straight along the high road, through all your late enemy's districts.” His directions were attended to; no individual was injured, no fence broken down, no house burned, no article of property taken. The bodies of the slain were not wantonly mangled, nor left exposed to the elements, or to be devoured by the wild dogs from the mountains, and the swine that formerly would have fed upon them; but were all decently buried by the victors, and the body of the fallen chief, Upufara, was conveyed to his own page 154 district, to be interred among the tombs of his forefathers.
Upufara, the late chief of Papara, was an intelligent and interesting man; his death was deeply regretted by Tati, his near relative, and successor in the government of the district. His mind had been for a long time wavering, and he was, almost to the morning of the battle, undetermined whether he should renounce the idols, or still continue their votary. One of his intimate companions informed me, that a short time before his death, he had a dream which somewhat alarmed him. He thought he saw an immense oven (such as that used in preparing opio) intensely heated, and in the midst of the fire a large fish writhing in apparent agony, unable to get out, and yet unconsumed, living and suffering in the midst of the fire. An impression at this time fixed itself on his mind, that perhaps this suffering was designed to shew the intensity of the torments which the wicked would endure in the place of punishment. He awoke in a state of great agitation of mind, with profuse perspiration covering his body, and was so affected, that he could not sleep again that night. The same individual who resided with Upufara stated also, that only a day or two before the battle, he said to some one, with whom he was conversing, “Perhaps we are wrong: let us send a message to the king and Tati, and ask for peace; and also for books, that we may know what this new word, or this new religion, is.” But the priests resisted his proposal, and assured the chiefs, that Oro would deliver the Bure Atua into their hands, and the hau and mana, government and power, would be with the gods of Tahiti. In addition to this, and any latent conviction that still might linger in his mind, of page 155 the power of Oro, and the result of his anger should he draw back, he stood pledged to the cause of the gods, and probably might feel a degree of pride influencing his adherence to their interest, lest he should be charged with cowardice in wishing to avoid the war, on which the chiefs, who were united to suppress Christianity, had determined.
The party sent by the king to the national temple at Tautira, in Taiarabu, proceeded directly to their place of destination. It was apprehended that, notwithstanding what had befallen the adherents of idolatry in battle, the inhabitants of Taiarabu, who were at that time more zealous for the idols than those of any other part of the island, who considered it an honour to be entrusted with the custody of Oro, and also regarded his presence among them as the palladium of their safety, might, perhaps, rise en masse, to protect his person from insults, and his temple from spoliation. No attempt of this kind, however, was made. The soldiers of Pomare, soon after reaching the district, proceeded to the temple, acquainted the inhabitants of the place, and keepers of the temple, with the events of the war, and the purpose of their visit. No remonstrance was made, no opposition offered— they entered the depository of Tahiti's former god; the priests and people stood round in silent expectation; even the soldiers paused a moment; and a scene was exhibited, probably strikingly analogous to that which was witnessed in the temple of Serapis in Alexandria, when the tutelar deity of that city was destroyed by the Roman soldiers. At length they brought out the idol, stripped him of his sacred coverings and highly-valued ornaments and threw his body contemptuously on the ground. page 156 It was a rude, uncarved log of aito wood, casuarina equisatifolia, about six feet long. The altars were then broken down, the temples demolished, and the sacred houses of the gods, together with their covering, ornaments, and all the appendages of their worship, committed to the flames. The temples, altars, and idols, all round Tahiti, were shortly after destroyed in the same way. The log of wood, called by the natives the body of Oro, into which they imagined the god at times entered, and through which his influence was exerted, Pomare's party bore away on their shoulders, and, on returning to the camp, laid in triumph at their sovereign's feet. It was subsequently fixed up as a post in the king's kitchen, and used in a most contemptuous manner, by having baskets of food suspended from it; and, finally, it was riven up for fuel. This was the end of the principal idol of the Tahitians, on whom they had long been so deluded as to suppose their destinies depended; whose favour, kings, and chiefs, and warriors, had sought; whose anger all had deprecated; and who had been the occasion of more bloody and desolating wars, for the preceding thirty years, than all other causes combined. Their most zealous devotees were in general now convinced of their delusion, and the people united in declaring that the gods had deceived them, were unworthy of their confidence, and should no longer be objects of respect or trust.
Thus was idolatry abolished in Tahiti and Eimeo; the idols hurled from the thrones they had for ages occupied; and the remnant of the people liberated from the slavery and delusion in which, by the cunningly devised fables of the priests, and the “doctrines of devils,” they had been for ages page 157 held as in fetters of iron. It is impossible to contemplate the mighty deliverance thus effected, without exclaiming, “What hath God wrought!” and desiring, with regard to other parts of the world, the arrival of that promised and auspicious era, when “the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens,”∗ “and the idols he shall utterly abolish.”†
∗Jer. x. 11.
†Isa. ii. 18.
The total overthrow of idolatry, splendid and important as it appeared, was but the beginning of the amazing work that has since advanced progressively in those islands. It resembled the dismantling of some dark and gloomy fortress, or the razing to its very foundation of some horrid prison of despotism and cruelty, with the materials of which, when cut and polished and adorned, a fair and noble structure was, on its very ruins, to be erected, rising in grandeur, symmetry, and beauty, to the honour of its proprietor, and the admiration of every beholder. The work was but commenced, and the abolition of idolatry was but one of the great preliminaries in those designs of mercy which were daily unfolded, with increasing interest and importance, in their influence on the destiny of the people.
The conduct of the victors, on the memorable 12th of November, had an astonishing effect on the minds of the vanquished, who had sought shelter in the mountains. Under cover of the darkness of night, they sent spies from the retreats to their habitations, and to the places of security in which they had left their aged and helpless relatives, their children, and their wives. These found all remaining as they had been left on the morning page 158 of the battle, and were informed, by the wives and relatives of the defeated warriors, that Pomare and the chiefs had, without any exception, sent assurances of security to all who had fled. This intelligence, when conveyed to those who had taken refuge in the mountains, appeared to them incredible. After waiting, however, some days in their hiding-places, they ventured forth, and singly, or in small parties, returned to their dwellings; and when they found their plantations uninjured, their property secure, their wives and children safe, they were astonished. From the king they received assurances of pardon, and were not backward in unitedly tendering submission to his authority, and imploring his forgiveness for having appeared in arms against him.
Pomare was now, by the unanimous will of the people, reinstated on the throne of his father, and raised to the supreme authority in his dominions. His clemency in the late victory still continued to be matter of surprise to all the parties who had been his opponents. “Where,” said they, “can the king and the Bure Atua have imbibed these new principles of humanity and forbearance? We have done every thing in our power, by treachery, stratagem, and open force, to destroy him and his adherents; and yet, when the power was placed in his hand, victory on his side, we at his mercy, and his feet upon our necks, he has not only spared our lives, and the lives of our families, but has respected our houses and our property!” While making these inquiries, many of them, doubtless, recollected the conduct of his father, in sending one night, when the warriors of Atehuru had gone over to Tautira, a body of men, who at midnight fell upon their defenceless victims, the aged relations, page 159 wives, and children of the Atehuruans, and in cold blood cruelly murdered upwards of one hundred helpless individuals; and this probably made the conduct of Pomare II. appear more remarkable. At length, they concluded that it must be from the new religion, as they termed Christianity; and hence they unanimously declared their determination to embrace it, and to place themselves and their families under the direction of its precepts.
The family and district temples and altars, as well as those that were national, were demolished, the idols destroyed by the very individuals who had but recently been so zealous for their preservation, and in a very short time there was not one professed idolater remaining. Messengers were sent by those who had hitherto been pagans, to the king and chiefs, requesting that some of their men might be sent to teach them to read, and to instruct them concerning the true God, and the order of his worship. Those who sent them expressed at the same time their determination to renounce every evil practice connected with their former idolatrous life, and their desire to become altogether a Christian people. Schools were built, and places for public worship erected; the Sabbath was observed; divine service performed; child-murder, and the gross abominations of idolatry, were discontinued.
What an astonishing and happy change must have taken place in the views, feelings, and pursuits of the inhabitants of Tahiti, in the course of a few weeks, from the battle of Narii, or Bunaauïa! A flood of light, like the rays of the morning, had broken in upon the intellectual and spiritual night, which, like a funeral pall, had long been spread page 160 over the inhabitants of the valleys and hills of Tahiti, and had rendered their abodes, though naturally verdant and lovely as the bowers of Eden, yet morally cheerless and desolate as the region of the shadow of death!
If the spirits of departed prophets, from their seats of bliss, look down upon our globe; how must Judah's royal bard have bent with rapture, to behold the accomplishment of triumphs, which, while he swept the hallowed harp of prophecy, he had foretold—the multitude of the isles made glad∗ under Jehovah's reign, and the kings of the isles bringing presents† to his Son!
∗Paslm xcvii. 1.
†Psalm lxxii. 10.
With equal transport, and with greater sympathy, those happy disembodied spirits of just men made perfect, who have more recently entered on their everlasting rest, if they have a knowledge of what passes on earth, must have viewed the change! And if angels, who have none of those sympathies which the redeemed must feel, experience an addition to their joy, in every sinner that by penitence returns to God, it seems an inference not unwarranted by revelation, that the spirits of departed believers may have a knowledge of events and moral changes, which transpire in our world, especially with those relating to the progress of the Messiah's reign among mankind. Then with what augmented joy must that honoured and distinguished saint,‡ in strict obedience to whose last bequest and dying charge the South Sea Mission was attempted, with those holy and devoted men who first matured, and subsequently aided so nobly, the plan of sending the page 161 gospel to Tahiti, have viewed the pleasing change. Those patient labourers also, who had toiled in the field, but had been called away before the first waive-sheaf was gathered in, must have felt their joy increased, as the enlarged spiritual perceptions which they possess enabled them to look not only on the outward change in circumstances and in conduct, but on that more delightful transformation of character, which every day unfolded some new and lovely features. And with what ecstatic songs of gratitude and praise, must they have welcomed, to the realms of happiness, the first arrivals from those clustering isles, of redeemed and purified spirits, who had been made partakers of the grace of life, and heirs with them of immortality.
‡The late Countess of Huntingdon.
The knowledge of the spiritual nature of Christianity, possessed by many of the new converts, was doubtless but imperfect, their acquaintance with the will of God but partial, and probably on many points of first erroneous, but still there was a warmth of feeling, and undisguised sincerity, and an ardour of desire, (in scripture called “the first-love,”) that has never been exceeded. Aged chiefs, and priests, and warriors, with their spelling-books in their hands, might be seen sitting, on the benches in the schools, by the side, perhaps, of some smiling little boy or girl, by whom they were now taught the use of letters. Others might be often seen employed in pulling down the houses of their idols, and erecting temples for the worship of the Prince of peace, working in companionship and harmony with those whom they had met so recently upon the field of battle.
Their Sabbaths must have presented spectacles on which angels might look down with joy. page 162 Crowds, who never had before attended any worship but that of their demon gods, might now be seen repairing to the rustic and lowly temple erected for Jehovah's praise; amidst their throng, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, who never were before allowed to join the other sex in any acts of worship. Few remained behind; all the inhabitants of the district or village, who were able, attended public worship. It is true, there was no Missionary to preach the gospel to them, or to lead their public service, yet it was performed with earnestness, propriety, and devotional feeling.
The more intelligent among the natives, who had been longest under instruction at Eimeo, usually presided. They sung a hymn; a portion of their scripture history, which was entirely composed of scripture extracts, was read; and prayer, in simplicity of language but sincerity of heart, was offered up to God. Those who had not printed books, wrote out portions of scripture for these occasions, and sometimes the prayers they used. these were often remarkably simple, expressive, and appropriate: I have one of Pomare's by me, in his own hand-writing, furnished by Mr. Nott. There is no date affixed to it, but from the evident frequency with which it has been used, and the portion of scripture written on the preceding pages of the same sheet of paper, I am inclined to think it was written about this period. The prayer is excellent, and the translation, which I also received from Mr. Nott, will require from the Christian reader no apology for its insertion, as a specimen of the style and sentiments employed by the natives of Tahiti in their devotional services. It is as follows:—page 163
“Jehovah, thou God of our salvation, hear our prayers, pardon thou our sins, and save our souls. Our sins are great, and more in number than the fishes∗ in the sea, and our obstinacy has been very great, and without parallel. Turn thou us to thyself, and enable us to cast off every evil way. Lead us to Jesus Christ, and let our sins be cleansed in his blood. Grant us thy good Spirit to be our sanctifier. Save us from hypocrisy. Suffer us not to come to thine house with carelessness, and return to our own houses and commit sin. Unless thou have mercy upon us, we perish. Unless thou save us, unless we are prepared and made meet for thy habitation in heaven, we are banished to the fire, we die; but let us not be banished to that unknown world of fire. Save thou us through Jesus Christ, thy Son, the prince of life; yea, let us obtain salvation through him. Bless all the inhabitants of these islands, all the families thereof; let every one stretch out his hands unto God, and say, Lord, save me, Lord, save me. Let all these islands, Tahiti with all the people of Moorea, and of Huahine, and of Raiatea, and of the little islands around, partake of thy salvation. Blees Britain, and every country in the world. Let thy word grow with speed in the world, so as to exceed the progress of evil. Be merciful to us and bless us, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
∗This is, perhaps, the most natural and expressive figure, or comparison, an Islander could make. There is no idea of multitude more familiar to his mind than that of a shoal of fishes, by which the shores he inhabits are occasionally or periodically visited.
While these delightful changes were advancing in Tahiti, the king and his friends were not unmindful page 164 of those who had been left behind in a state of painful uncertainty at Eimeo. As soon as possible after the battle, a canoe was despatched by Mahine, king of Eimeo and Huahine, with the tidings of its result. Matapuupuu, or, as he is now called, Taua, was the bearer of the gladdening intelligence, and was a very suitable person to be sent on such an errand. He was a native of Huahine, where he had been chief priest since the death of his elder brother, who had sustained that office before him. He came up from Huahine to Pomare's assistance in 1811; early in the year 1813, he had made a profession of Christianity, and was among the first whose names were written down at Eimeo. He was not only a priest, but an Areoi, and a warrior of no ordinary prowess. When his canoe approached the shore of Eimeo, the teachers and their pupils hastened to the beach, under the conflicting emotions of hope and fear. The warrior was seen standing on the prow of his light skiff, that seemed impatiently dashing through the spray, and rushing along the tops of the waves towards the shore, which its keel scarcely touched, when, with his light mat around his loins, his scarf hanging loosely over his shoulder, and his spear in his hand, he leaped upon the sandy beach. Before they had time to ask a single question, he exclaimed, “Ua pau! Ua pau! i te bure anae;” Vanquished ! vanquished ! by prayer alone ! His words at first seemed but as words of irony or jest; but the earnestness of his manner, the details he gave, and the intelligence he brought from the king and some of the chiefs, confirmed the declaration.
The Missionaries were almost overcome with surprise, and hastened to render their acknowledgment page 165 of grateful praise to the Most High, under feelings that it would be impossible to describe. It was, indeed, a joy unspeakable, the joy of harvest. In that one year they reaped the harvest of sixteen laborious seed-times, sixteen dreary and anxious winters, and sixteen unproductive summers. They now enjoyed the unexpected but exhilarating satisfaction resulting from the pleasure of the Lord prospering in their hands, in a degree and under circumstances that few are priviledged to experience.
As soon as possible, Mr. Nott was despatched by his companions to Tahiti. On reaching the shores of this island, from which five years before he had been obliged to flee for his life, he found it was all true that had been told them, that the people were in that interesting state described by the prophet, when, enraptured by the visions of Messiah's future glories, he exclaimed, “The isles shall wait for his law.” In this delightful situation, as he travelled round the islands, he literally found them not merely willing to be instructed, but anxious to hear; meeting together of their own accord, and often spending the hours of night in conversation and inquiry on the important matters connected with the religion of Jesus Christ. When he returned, Mr. Bicknell went over on the same errand; and observed every where the most encouraging attention, on the part of the people, to the instructions he communicated. The school at Papetoai was greatly increased; and hundreds, who had been early scholars there, were now stationed as teachers among the adjacent islands, imparting to others the knowledge they had received.
Not fewer than three thousand persons at this page 166 time possessed a knowledge of the books in their native language, which were in daily use. Besides eight hundred copies of the Abridgment of Scripture, and many copies of part of the Gospel of St. Luke in manuscript, about two thousand seven hundred spelling-books had already been distributed among the pupils at Eimeo, or sent over to Tahiti; still they were unable to meet the daily increasing demands of the people.