The New Zealand Evangelist
Sunday School Union.—
Those of our readers who have taken interest enough in Sunday Schools here, to visit them during the hours of instruction, can scarcely have failed to observe how well all are supplied with elementary books, and generally with Sunday School requisites. For this the Schools are mainly indebted to the liberality of the Sunday School Union of London, which by a grant of books in the year 1845, and subsequent consignments for sale, has not only kept the Schools well supplied, but has caused a considerable stock to accumulate in the depository for future demands.
It would be superfluous now to point out the suitable character of the books of this Society, but it must be mentioned that by the supplies which were placed at the disposal of the Sunday School Union here, the Schools at Karori, the Hutt, and Porirua were greatly assisted at their commencement, and it may be doubted whether in the absence of such supplies one or two of these would have been opened at the time they were.
To the Christian mind it must afford pleasure when the religion he professes and enjoys seems to be flourishing; whether among his own race, or among people of a different hue, and of “strange speech.” It is pleasing to observe any progress made in civilization; it is more pleasing when there is progress perceived in religion;—that religion which inculcates love to God and love to our neighbour. Such pleasure is afforded by a contemplation of the native race, at least to some extent. The adoption of European clothing and of European habits is pretty general among them. There are but few of the aborigines who have not whole suits, or parts of suits. Some of the young men especially, are to be seen on Sabbath days completely equipped, from beaver hat to Wellington boots, not forgetting the gloves and handkerchief. The figure they make is undeniable; few of our imported dandies would bear a comparison, the air they assume would not disgrace a new made ensign of any regiment. The belles are not behind, the beaux as to finery, or the appearance they make. Muslin and silk sit finely upon them without the aid of stays to make the appearance fashionable. But civilization does not consist in dressing well merely; if gentility makes that its test, something more is requisite. Cleanliness in the person, house and culinary preparations enters into the composition of this desirable thing. Do any of the natives attend to these things? There are some who do. The national repudiation of ablutions is giving way. Water, and its useful ally soap are being put into requisition. There will be a demand for washhand bowls in time; now they may be seen occasionally, with other requisites of the toilet, brashes, hair oil and Eau de Cologne! Tables are in some instances superseding the ground, knives and forks contending for the place of the fingers, and plates, and cups and saucers displacing kit, calabash, and ironpot! page 72 Many more proof of a progressive civilization might be mentioned, to content those who make that thing all that is desirable, or the first thing desirable. We advocate Christianity as the great, as the sole promoter of true civilization; and are glad to notice the connexion. The natives remarkable for civilization, are also remarkable for their knowledge of Christianity, aye, and their reverence for it too. They are diligent readers of the Scriptures, diligent observers of religious duties, and not remarkable for an ability to swear in broken English, or the American Indian capacity for swallowing ardent spirits.
The religious progress of the natives may receive our notice on a future occasion.
On August 8th, at Porirua there were seventeen persons baptized by the Rev. J. Watkin, Wesleyan Minister, This number embraced both old and young, and some of each sex. The attention of the congregation was good; the professions of faith was made in a serious manner by the catchumens, and it is hoped that the vows made will be observed.
This settlement, from the latest accounts, appears to be quiet and prosperous; and, according to our ideas of things, the people are using the best means to remain so permanently. We are informed that subscriptions are being raised for the erection of a place of worship, and the inhabitants are contributing liberally, Our old friend Captain Taylor, of the Governor Grey, and his partner, Mr. Watt, are the Treasurers of the fund. The chapel is now in course of erection, and will soon be opened for the preaching of the everlasting Gospel of Salvation. May the very praiseworthy intentions of the projectors meet with their reward! May the great end of the building be answered!
“And in the great decisive day
“When God the nations shall survey,
“May it before the world appear
“That crowds were born to glory there!”
It is understood that arrangements are in progress for the residence of a Wesleyan Minister in that neighbourhood. And the sooner the better, say we; because, in addition to the benefit that those of his persuasion in the Town of Petre would derive from his services, there are several congregations of Natives both on the river, and north and south of it, that greatly need the religious instructions and pastoral oversight of a Minister.
A public meeting of Presbyterians and others was held here, on July 15, for the purpose of devising means for the erection of a Presbyterian place of worship, and so heartily was the object entered into, that £150 was subscribed at the meeting, and within the week the sum subscribed amounted to £200.
They shall prosper that love Thee.”