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Letters from New Zealand 1857-1911


page 129


Hokitika, July 10th, 1868.

My dear St. John,

As I expected, my journey to Christchurch to attend the Diocesan Synod was difficult. Heavy snow in the mountain ranges had extended well down the coast, followed by hard frost and clear skies. I secured the box seat on the coach, and we started at an early hour, six passengers in all, well provided, as we thought, for cold weather. The first fifty miles on hard frozen snow was comparatively easy going, but at the foot of the Otira Pass, where horses are changed, and dinner provided, we met with a check. The roadmen in charge of the pass reported very deep drifts, too soft for wheels, and negotiable, if at all, only on horseback. Accordingly, such rough accommodation as the small shanty of an hotel could give us, but with plenty of food and firewood, was our portion for the night. In the morning horses were forthcoming, and, at a foot's pace, in single file, we began the ascent of the pass. Its western side rises nearly two thousand feet in a few miles, a zig-zag road, shut in by mountains covered to a considerable height with trees, snow draped; the track in places hard frozen, and again so soft that the horses sank below their knees; lovely sunshine, and, fortunately, page 130 no wind. After reaching the western summit, the pass extends about eight miles to its eastern descent, through very broken country, strewn with boulders and rocks, the débris of an old glacier moraine, freely intersected by streams; on either side towering precipices rising some eight thousand feet, with crevices full of ice, topped by perpetual snow.

This high plateau presents much attraction to a botanist in fine weather, though, as we saw it, it was only a mass of hummocks of snow. In amongst the rocks are numerous varieties of veronica and alpine plants, notably the ranunculus, known as the Mt. Cook Lily, with large, plate-shaped leaves, and white starry blossom. It is also the haunt of the New Zealand crow, a shapely bird, purple, shot with black, and reddish yellow rings under the eyes, very tame, scarcely moving out of your way. Also the New Zealand mountain parrot, the Kea, with its curious hooked beak, likewise tame and impudent, swooping close to our heads, as a protest against intrusion into its solitary haunts. In places a stunted mountain birch grows freely, and a curious Dracena, or dragon tree, with a seed that resembles a pineapple, of deep red colour.

Slowly we made our way down the eastern side of the pass, through the long valley of the Bealey river to the point where it joins the Waimakariri, usually forded with some difficulty, as the riverbed is three-quarters of a mile in width, intersected by many streams, but on this occasion one level surface of snow, as the whole river was frozen up, so that we crossed easily and found a welcome at a small hotel, where the coach stops for fresh horses, and dinner.

"Gentlemen," said the landlord, "I didn't expect page break
Otira Gorge.

Otira Gorge.

page 131you; how did you manage the pass? Everything here is frozen solid, even the meat, but we've managed an Irish stew, and you're just in time for it." Then a council of war; could we accomplish the next twelve miles without being benighted, and reach the half-way house? It was impossible to follow the coach road, which on the mountain sides was quite obliterated with snow drifts, our only path lay down the river, on its frozen surface. It was past two, and in the mountains the winter darkness comes on soon after four. We determined to start, and for a time made fair progress, but in intense cold, a travelling thermometer, which one of the party had, showing only a few degrees above zero, so cold that unless one constantly kicked one's foot out of the stirrup the boot froze to the iron. We were all well clothed, save one, a French cook, a delicate man who ought not to have attempted such a journey. We rode in single file, the driver first, on the look-out for dangerous places in the ice. Presently we came into a zone of frozen fog, in which it was impossible to see more than a few yards ahead; it grew dark, and, convinced that we were wandering at large, I ranged up by the driver's side, and he owned that he had lost the way; "but don't tell the other chaps; we must somehow try to make the bank of the river, and follow it down." Just then came a rift in the fog, and I caught sight of Jupiter, the Evening Star, and being a star-gazer, I recognized its position and, steering by it, we soon reached the river bank. Then we crept along under it till we found the place where the coach road comes down to the level of the river, and were certain of the right course to the half-way house. Meanwhile the Frenchman was in bad case, page 132groaning with cold, and refusing any consolation, certain that we should never reach our destination. It was nearly nine o'clock when the driver shouted, "There it is, that's the hotel light!" but from the despairing cook came a cry, "No, no! it is only a star!"

The little hotel was banked up with fully three feet of snow; dogs barked; the door opened, its welcome fire-light streaming out. We dismounted, our clothes frozen stiff, and the poor Frenchman so frozen we had to lift him out of the saddle, and drop him, in a sitting position, into a chair. Entering by a small bar room, behold! shelves of bottled beer, glass broken, the beer, frozen, standing alone! In the inner room were several belated shepherds, and a mounted constable, who at once took charge of us. No one was allowed close to the fire till we got accustomed to the temperature; then we had hot tea with a dash of whisky in it, and it was strange to find, with the thermometer at zero, that boiling water seemed scarcely more than lukewarm. Then came a good meal, but the cook was so frost-bitten, that he had to be rubbed with snow, till he roared with pain, and was quite unfit for further travel.

A brilliant sun, no wind, keen frost, made our journey pleasant the next day, but very slow. This part of the mountain country, which is a high plateau between the western and eastern ranges that form the backbone of the South Island, stretches for fifty miles devoid of timber, with several extensive lakes; good sheep country in summer, but rather dangerous in winter. As we rode, every now and then we noticed rounded hummocks of snow grouped together; places where sheep had been snowed up without any sort page break
Otira Gorge.

Otira Gorge.

page 133of outlet. Merino and half-bred sheep accustomed to the mountains will live through several weeks under snow, kept warm by the proximity of each other, and to some extent finding a little rough pasture. If they survive they are weak, and the growth of wool is injured; in any case there is much loss, for in such a country it is impossible to dig them up, as is done in the North of England; shepherds can only wait until a thaw sets in. Cold as it was, so that when we took out our flasks at lunch time water dropping on waterproofs instantly froze, yet we were lost in admiration of the magnificent panorama of snow on every side, lit up with a flood of glorious sunshine. Passing under great precipices of drifted snow against the hill-sides, we met large caverns full of that heavenly blue which is seen in glacier caves, due, I believe, to the sunshine as it penetrates the porous roof of snow or ice. Towards evening we made the house where horses are changed, and the next day, finding that the snow had thinned out, were able to utilize the coach, and reached Christchurch, after four days' travel. Taking farewell of each other, one of my fellow passengers exclaimed, "Oh, that I were a competent ink-slinger, what a yarn I could write of our adventures!"

Diocesan Synod. Let me explain very briefly the position of the Church in New Zealand. It has never been what is known as an Established Church. In the early thirties, after Marsden's missionary enterprise amongst the Maories, the Church began her work in the extreme Northern part of the North Island, under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society, which sent out a band of devoted men, who did great work in the conversion of the natives; risking life, living in the simplest style, busy with the trans-page 134lation of Bible and Prayerbook into the Maori tongue, and in so doing, in fact, creating the Maori written language and establishing its grammar. I may just mention the honoured names of Williams and Maunsell, amongst others, who were pioneers of Christianity in New Zealand. In 1842 Bishop George Augustus Selwyn arrived; New Zealand had been formally recognized by the Home Government as a British Colony; a Governor was resident in Auckland, which was rapidly becoming a place of importance. The Bishop came with Royal Letters Patent, constituting him Bishop of New Zealand; his income partly contributed by the Church Missionary Society and partly by the British Government. So far there was a semblance of Church Establishment for a short time, so long as New Zealand was a Crown Colony but this state of things was soon superseded by the granting of a Constitutional Government to the Colony, with its own Houses of Legislature. This, in effect, did away with the legal relationship between Church and State, such as it had been, and despite the Letters Patent, the Church became simply a religious body in the country, responsible to itself for its own good government. This state of things was realized even in those early days by such a far-seeing man as Selwyn, who set himself to meet the altered circumstances of the Church. With the aid of trained legal minds, such as Chief Justice Sir William Martin, Mr. Swainson, and others, he drafted a form of Constitution for Church Government. It explicitly declared, on the part of the Church in New Zealand, its adherence to the doctrines and Sacraments of the Church of England and Ireland, whilst it made provision for self-government. This was laid before a Convention of Church people, page 135and by them ratified; its basis of authority being that of mutual compact, by which Church people, and especially all office bearers, agree to obey the Constitution and abide by the decisions of its Courts. The Bishop and his advisers saw, what is, as yet, being slowly recognized by many, that the Church in New Zealand has no legal status in the Ecclesiastical Courts at Home, and. must needs look to its own household, and maintain its due order.

Now to explain the practical operation of our Constitution. There are at present five Dioceses in New Zealand, with the missionary diocese of Melanesia. Auckland, with its Bishop, G. A. Selwyn; Waiapu with its Bishop, W. Williams; Wellington, with its Bishop, C. J. Abraham; Nelson, with its Bishop, A. P. Suter; Christchurch, with its Bishop, H. J. C. Harper; Melanesia, with its Bishop, C. J. Patteson. Once in three years a General Synod meets in each diocese, in rotation, consisting of the Bishops, three clergymen, and four laymen chosen by each diocese, the Primate presiding. All business is conducted in accordance with Parliamentary usage, but the voting is by orders; Bishops, Clergy, and Laity voting separately; a majority of votes being necessary in each order to affirm any Bill or Resolution. This method ensures an amount of unanimity in any decision, which could not be obtained in any other way. I give an illustration: a Bill is introduced, read a first and second time, considered in Committee, and finally brought up for its third reading and passing. At each stage of the debate, supposing there are six Bishops, eighteen Clergy, and twenty-four Laity, in order to carry the Bill there must be a majority of four Bishops, ten Clergy, and thirteen Laity; equality page 136in any order negatives the Bill. This plan undoubtedly makes for thorough consideration of any measure, as it is easier to negative than to affirm. Voting is by ballot in certain cases only, when so ordered.

General Synod deals with legislation that governs the whole Church, whilst each Diocese, in its Synod which meets annually, legislates for itself, but always within the lines of General Synod enactment.

In the Diocesan Synods, every Licensed Clergyman is entitled to attend and vote, together with Lay representatives from each parish and district; the Bishop presides, and voting is by orders, the Bishop's vote being seldom exercised, as it is in his power to negative any proposed legislation. Everything here also is strictly in accordance with Parliamentary usage; synods are not debating societies, or mere meetings for conference.

You are aware, of course, that at Home many high authorities dispute the right of the Laity to meet in Synod with an equal vote with the Clergy, on the ground that it was not the custom in the Primitive Church. So far as I understand the question, I feel convinced that the Church in New Zealand follows the precedent and practice which appears in the Acts of the Apostles and in the earliest records of Church History. Certainly it alone provides the practical solution of Church Government where of necessity it must be autonomous, and nothing tends so effectually to enlist the active sympathy of the Laity.

There is one result of great importance that emerges in our experience. The Laity have the responsibility of Church Finance. With the exception of very small endowments here and there, all Church work, including the maintenance of the Ministry, is supported by the page 137offerings of the Laity. Give the Laity this responsibility, and the result follows that they realize their duty and privilege as Churchmen. There is also another important result which our experience proves. The Laity are essentially conservative; not only in business matters, but in their share of Church legislation which may affect doctrine or practice. Their conservatism steadies and controls the desire of change or innovation, and yet, with this, there is no trenching on the proper privilege of the clergy, or attempt to dictate in matters doctrinal. Perhaps this is in some measure due to the great advantage New Zealand enjoys in the quality and character of all her early settlers. Few Colonies, if any, have had such an excellent start; and this is true of every class of settler and of the men and women who have ventured to the ends of the earth to build up their homes in the southernmost Islands of the sea.

Synod lasted in Christchurch nearly three weeks; it is represented during its recess by the Standing Committee of six Clergy and six Laity, who form the Executive of the Diocese, meeting, with the Bishop, every month to consider Church affairs. This Committee brings up to Synod its annual report of the Diocese, together with many minor reports of special work, upon which decision and necessary legislation follow.

We are, of course, in the day of small things, but they may be, for all that, an object lesson of things desirable in Church government. The Diocese is very large, but the number of Clergy comparatively small, yet Synod brings nearly all of them together once a year, to enjoy the kindly hospitality of Christchurch, and to meet in friendly intercourse; above page 138all, it enables the Bishop to be to his Clergy especially, as well as the Laity, a true Father in God. There is a certain sense of family brotherhood in this way brought about by our Synodical system. It may, perhaps, in the course of years, as population increases, begin to wane, but at present it seems to represent what should be the normal condition of Diocesan life and Church work.

There is talk of changing the date of our sessions to the spring, as winter travelling is inconvenient. Certainly, in this diocese, I had a taste of this in my return journey also. Thaw had set in, and I started very early by coach, reaching the half-way house in fair time. Bad weather came on during the night, and the next day, after only accomplishing the stage to the river Bealey, where the coach dines at noon, snow was falling. Roadmen from the Otira Pass said that it would be difficult to get the coach across it. I was anxious to be at Hokitika for Sunday, and the driver wanted to get his mails through, so, as the other passengers declined to venture, he and I started on horseback, my horse leading, then the pack-horses, and the driver bringing up the rear. I was well-clad, with a Scotch plaid over head and ears and descending to the saddle, but soon the heavy flakes turned me into a sort of snow man. We travelled slowly, darkness came on, and it was a matter of trusting one's horse to find the way. Descending the Otira Pass, I came to the long shelf-like rock cuttings which follow down the gorge, and overhang the glacial stream below at a great depth. I lost touch with the horses following; dismounting, I shouted again and again, with no response; it was pitch dark and, moving a little, not knowing how close I was to the edge, over I went, page 139slithering down a steep snow bank which, fortunately, lay deep on the rough cliff side, grabbing fruitlessly at shrubs on the way, which broke in my grasp, until I was brought up all standing on a huge boulder, on which the thick snow broke my fall. Below me the torrent was roaring over its rocky bed; what was to be done? Up I climbed, digging knees and hands into the snow, slipping back, winning a little way, until I reached the top, to find my faithful nag just where I left him, standing stock-still. Not daring in the darkness to risk another slip of, perhaps, horse as well as man, I led him, sticking close to the cliff sides, for nearly two miles, to the foot of the pass, where I saw the welcome light of the little shanty which serves as a place for change of horses. It was quite late; men went up the pass road with lanterns in search of the driver, and at last brought him back. He had had trouble with the horses in the darkness. Next day we completed the journey with a coach to Hokitika, without further incident. The drivers have a hard and perilous time of it in winter, with snow, and with floods in summer. They are well paid, and must needs be skilful and bold whips, for no others could safely negotiate such a dangerous journey. Certainly the horses are mostly bred in the hills, and would almost lie down rather than go over a precipice, but there is always the chance of broken tackle, brakes failing, wheels collapsing; whilst it is scarcely too much to say that, good as the road is, generally, underfoot, there is scarcely ten miles of it, once you are inside the mountain ranges, which is not dangerous. Moreover, these men run an almost certain risk of rheumatism and ill health, having to face all weathers. It says much for them that, as yet, whilst horses have page 140been drowned, there has not been one serious accident to any passenger. This is the only road from East to West across the Southern Alps, in many ways, I imagine, as difficult, and as remarkable in its grandeur, as the St. Gothard Pass.

Now for an incident which illustrates the chivalrous character of the Maori race. Some time ago, I saw from my study window three Maories approaching the house on horseback. They proved to be a sort of deputation from the tribe at Arahura. Inviting them to enter, I waited for their communication, with due regard to Maori etiquette, which deals with any matter of grave importance with the utmost deliberation. One of them was their Chief, Ihaia Tainui, a man of recognized birth, and also of personal influence, as their representative in the Legislature, and Trustee for the moneys due to them from the rental of their reserves, appointed by Government; a specially fine specimen of a Maori, able to talk English, and the chief Lay-reader in the Church at Arahura. After due preliminaries, I came to the point by asking Tainui the purpose of their visit. He stood up and replied, the others watching him with much attention, and silently assenting to all his statements.

"Arikona, this is the matter on which we have come. Last week some Maories arrived at Arahura, having ridden over the hills from Kaiapoi for a visit to our tribe; at night it was bright moonlight, and as I have a paddock of oats nearly ripe, enclosed by a rough fence, and I was afraid that their horses, if loose, might break in and do damage, I warned them to be careful to tether their animals. A noise awoke me in the night, and, looking out, I saw three horses in my oats. In my anger I seized the first thing that page 141came to hand, a tomahawk, and, rushing out, tried to drive them out by the gate, which they had pushed open. After much trouble they made a bolt, and I was so angry that I flung the tomahawk at the last animal, and happening to strike it on the hind-leg, hamstrung it, and, of course, in that state it had to be destroyed."

"Yes, and what then?"

"Well, you know the Government allows us to hold courts of our own for certain cases, and to inflict fines up to a certain extent. A court was held, I pleaded guilty, and was fined the value of the horse."

"Yes, and I suppose that was the end of the matter?" but I knew well that such was not the case, for had it been they would not have come to see me.

"Do you think so?" said lhaia, and he repeated the question to the two natives, who were sitting there with all the dignity of Assessors in Court. They shook their heads, but said nothing. "Do you think so? It is this: I am the Chief of my tribe; I pride myself on my blood and birth; I am the native representative in Parliament. The Bishop has made me their chief Lay-Reader. I stand up in Church every Sunday to conduct the services. Do you think it is enough that I have paid the legal fine, and given the price of the horse to the owner? I have disgraced myself in the eyes of my people; it is not a question of so much money; I have given way to anger, and shown myself unworthy of my position. What am I to do?"

As he stood there and spoke, it was impossible to withhold one's admiration of such a character, and, after a few minutes' thought, I replied, "Ihaia Tainui, page 142you have done well in coming, like this, to own your fault, and you wish to know what I think you ought to do, to make some public reparation for it to your people, and for your own conscience sake. I am now going to write out a statement, I shall write it in English, but as Mr. Greenwood, the Maori Commissioner, is in Hokitika, and you know him as one who speaks Maori well, I will get him to translate it into Maori. Next Sunday morning you must go to the Church as usual, in your cassock and surplice, but, instead of beginning the service, stand at the Lectern, together with these two Chiefs who are with you, and read out the statement, which confesses your fault. Then, taking off cassock and surplice, go and sit down on the furthermost seat in Church, and let Horomona and Arapata conduct the service. You must wait a whole month; meanwhile I will write to the Bishop, and, if he sees fit, he will commission me to reinstate you as Lay Reader."

Accordingly, I wrote out the document, and read it to them, as they understood English, and I made it a complete and almost humiliating confession of wrong-doing, and of his sincere desire for the forgiveness of his people.

Next week they came again to report that all had been duly done. This Rangitira, Chief of his tribe, who as a boy must have known his father, before his conversion to Christianity, as a fierce warrior who would have scorned to humble himself before his people, and would have struck down with his tomahawk anyone who dared to suggest such a thing, stood before his tribe and made confession of his fault with the simple sincerity of a true Christian, and what is far more, he did so with the full approval of his page 143people. With all their defects, these are the sort of men that we, who pride ourselves on the superiority of our race, may well stand before, cap in hand.

In a month's time the Bishop's formal letter of reinstatement arrived, and, going to Arahura, I held a service, and restored Tainui to his old position in the Church. This was followed by a little feast and general rejoicing, for Tainui is really beloved by his people.

We have been able to build another small church in the Waimea Valley, about twelve miles from Hokitika. It is essentially a digger's Church, as, with one or two storekeepers, they form the whole congregation. We have now six churches altogether, of which I serve four, as they are within reach of Hokitika, but this means on Sundays a very full day, and many week-day evening services. The track to Waimea runs through the township of Stafford, much of it in the thick forest, through which a narrow wooden tram-line has been laid. The going is by no means favourable on this for pace, but with a good horse, and making pace wherever the road is good, I managed the twelve miles on a Sunday afternoon, returning for an evening service at seven. The opening service at Waimea was a considerable occasion. It is the last settlement in the heart of the forest, its neighbourhood consisting of deep wooded ravines and high terraces, where you find parties of men at work in the most secluded places. I spend many a day on foot in and amongst these diggings, visiting all I can reach; some of the men being, in mining phraseology, "Hatters," i.e. men who live and work by themselves, often old sailors and much travelled men, content with the solitude of well-kept huts, a few books, page 144hard work, their dog as companion, perhaps some poultry, and a weekly visit on Saturdays to the townships to sell their gold and see friends. Whence the term "hatter" I have never discovered; maybe because such solitaries are regarded as "mad as a hatter." Many of these men attend church, and seem to delight in the change the Sunday brings to their lonely week-day toil. The church was quite full, great satisfaction being felt at the completion of the building, a mere wooden shell, entirely by means of their own contributions. The choir and singing deserve special mention, as something quite of its own kind, though unmistakably hearty and congregagational. There is a good brass band in the township, but no one in the least accustomed to a harmonium, which, however, did not daunt them, as the leading cornet, with much more zeal than knowledge, became organist, vamping the chants and hymn tunes in marvellous fashion, but somehow managing to begin and end correctly. Meanwhile the congregation, with lusty voices, went their own way, a musical chaos of sound which seemed to elicit general approval. The offertory was most liberal, one "hatter" bringing a small packet of gold dust, and another several small nuggets. During the week, a "soirée" was arranged, with a substantial tea, in the biggest public room of the place, attached to a so-called hotel. The company, of which three parts were men, were so numerous that the tea could only be managed by relays of guests, and when the tables were cleared away, the hall was crammed; some songs were given, and then I lectured. A Lecture in these regions is quite a different matter to one which would suit a rustic population at Home. You may give them of your best. On this page 145occasion I took as my subject, "Old Folklore and Superstition," illustrating it by reference to the old country. Audible comments from the crowd of men showed their intelligent interest, and, somehow, instead of disconcerting, added stimulus to my speech. Quoting a most interesting note to one of Walter Scott's novels, with regard to an apparition in Scotland which led to the discovery of a foul murder of two women, an apparition which manifested itself many times before the discovery was made, and the only one I ever heard of which satisfies Swift's critical objection to such appearances: "Give me evidence of the apparition having been seen by more than one person at the same time, and I will believe it "; I ended with the commonplace remark, "and so the old word came true, 'Murder will out,'" whereupon a deep voice came from the crowd, "Aye, that it will," and all turned to look at the speaker. He explained afterwards what he was thinking of. In New South Wales, in the early days of the gold fields, men used to camp by a waterhole which lay on a lonely track far from any habitation. The waterhole had a steep bank on one side, with a rough fence placed there to prevent accidents. On several occasions men had reported that in the moonlight they had seen the figure of a man sitting on the fence, and pointing with his right hand down to the water, but that when they went near somehow he had disappeared. Moreover, several times he had been seen by two persons at once. After a time a search was made, the waterhole dragged, and the body of a man found who had evidently met with foul play, and had been murdered; the skull being smashed. This was, no doubt, the work of some of the bushrangers who roamed the page 146country in those days, and on further inquiry it was found that a man, with a considerable amount of gold on him, had been known in that district as missing, and was supposed to have been lost in the bush.

In a country so new that it is completely devoid of any historical associations in the past, it is well nigh impossible to imagine any sort of ghost. Often as I have found myself in places never before trodden by man's foot, I have wondered what the general effect will be on the rising generation here, of a country without a past. Scenery there is, much of it splendid in its grandeur; forests primæval, in which for centuries trees have flourished, perished, untouched by saw or axe; mountain peaks, snow fields, great stretches of glacier, extensive plains, streams, lake and rivers, but, until the last few years, absolute solitude so far as any association with man is concerned. In the North Island there are certain associations with Maori history, but not extending over more than some two hundred years, and of a very slight legendary character. In the South Island scarcely any of this, beyond names given to places by wandering natives. It seems to me that the rising genertion will miss much. The Historic imagination, in their case, will have next to nothing to feed on. Life will be intensely practical, in the healthiest conditions of climate, but prosaic. Literature there will be, of course, for all who make use of it, which, as far as books can go, will teach the history of the old country. But imagine the gradual effect of a life spent in a country where you never see relics of past history which take you back to the beginning of the Christian era; ruins, castles, churches, cathedrals, tombs, the handiwork of Celt and Saxon, Angle, Dane and Norman, page 147who have made us what we are, and whose far-reaching influence sends us all over the world, making the ocean our pathway to new Homes which we establish, as our forefathers did, even in the uttermost parts of the earth. At present nearly all here are Colonists, transplanted, but their affections deeply rooted in the old Home life they have left. In a few years their children will be Colonials, loyal, no doubt, to the idea of their old Mother Country, and to some extent interested in what they hear or read about it. But there must be, I fancy, much wanting. I am tempted to quote the old Horatian maxim:

"Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures, Quam quae sunt subjecta oculis."

("Things heard stir the imagination far less than things seen.")

How will this affect us in our Church work here? Even the uneducated rustic at home, familiar with his old Parish Church is probably more aware of the history of bygone centuries than is possible for those to whom the only visible symbol of the past is a decent wooden tabernacle in a wilderness.

Occupied as everyone on a Goldfield is, with the business of making money, there is nevertheless no lack of theological discussion. Here is an instance: A few nights ago, a Plymouth brother, one of a small but proselytising community, called on me, with the view of converting me from the error of my ways; a travelling hawker of wares for miners in remote places, a man of imperfect education, but with a soul above tapes, buttons, and the draper's business. After some remarks from myself, he said, "But I could not worship in All Saints, because I could not be sure that those who are there are Christians."

page 148

"And are you sure of all who worship with you in your place of meeting?" "Quite sure." "How do you know that?" "Because they are all saved." "But what certainty have you of that?" "Why, if a man is saved, he knows it, and tells you so." "Then, your belief is that no one is a Christian until he feels he is saved?" "Of course." "And you hold that, once saved, a man cannot fall away?" "Of course, that is the teaching of the Bible."

"Would you take this Bible, and give me your authority for it?" "Yes, here it is,—Acts ii, 47,—'The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.'"

"But that, as it stands in our English Version of the Bible is not the exact meaning of the text; the original Greek in which the Acts were written means this: 'The Lord added to the Church such as were being saved,' which is just what is stated in the Catechism: 'I thank our Heavenly Father that He hath called me to this state of Salvation.' Our state of salvation may be compared to a state of health; we may fall out of health, as a Christian may fall away from a state of salvation; this is the real meaning of the words."

"Oh," said he, "I don't believe that."

"Well, I can assure you it is the meaning of the text; it has been my business to study Greek closely, and what I tell you is not only on my own authority, but that of the best scholars, to whom the original Greek of the New Testament is as familiar to them as the English version of it in our Bible." "I don't care for your Greek, my Bible is enough for me," was his answer.

"Well," said I, "let us take another passage from page 149what you call your Bible: you believe in St. Paul?" "Of course I do." "Well, then, what do you make of this, in Cor. ix, 27, 'I therefore so run … lest that by any means, when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway.' You see St. Paul himself allows that he may be a castaway."

"He never meant that; it doesn't mean that."

"But you must allow that that is the plain meaning of the English words, and if you will let me, I will tell you what the Greek words which St. Paul used meant; nothing can be plainer or stronger. He is speaking of the Christian life in terms of the contests in the arena of public sports which all Greeks were so fond of. In all those sports no competitor could enter unless he had passed the examination of certain persons appointed to test the competitor's qualifications; then, if he won he had to go before a second committee of judges, who were to decide whether he had run or competed fairly, in accordance with the rules of the arena. If he was 'cast,' that is adjudged to have competed unfairly, or trangressed rules, he was rejected; he lost his prize; he became a 'cast-away'; now, what can be clearer than that?"

"I don't believe it," he said, "once a saved Christian, always a Christian; what else can 'saved' mean?"

"Well, tell me, then, about your brethren here in Hokitika. I know some of them, and good men they are; how many do you number?" "Twenty," he replied. "And are you quite certain none of them will ever fall away? I have heard of communities of Brethren like yours which somehow dwindle in number, and I'm told that they have been cast out of the Community; how do you account for that? I don't want to predict, but if we are both here a page 150couple of years hence, will you come again and tell me whether you have lost any? and perhaps some day you will come back to your Mother Church, which you have deserted."

"Oh," said he, "I see it's no use talking to you; you're all wrong. I'm sorry for you; I must be going. Good night."

I am,
Yours ever,

H. W. H.