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The New Zealand Evangelist

The late Murders

The late Murders.

Most of our readers have already heard of the murder of John Branks and his three children on the night of the 22nd ult., in his own house on the Porirua Road, and that scarcely a doubt remains that the murders were perpetrated by a native named Maroro, of the Ngatikahunu tribe. The chain of circumstantial evidence against this native seems to be quite conclusive. Branks appears to have been sitting by the fire reading his bible, and his three children in bed. He must have been attacked completely at unawares, and knocked down with the blow of a hatchet; for being a powerful and vigorous man, he would to a certainty have defended himself successfully against any ordinary assailant, had he been apprized of his danger. It is extremely difficult to understand what motives could influence the murderer to commit such an act. Branks was a peaceable, inoffensive, well conducted man, not at all likely to be involved in any quarrel. The prospect of plunder was small, as from various causes there was little either of money or valuable property in the house. A more cold-hearted, barbarous, and unprovoked murder we have seldom heard of.

In the mysterious but all-wise dispensations of God's providence, the history of this family has been singularly distressing. About eighteen months ago, Mr. and Mrs. Branks, and their three children, the eldest in his eighth year, presented the appearance of one of the most healthy, vigorous and promising families in the colony. At that time Mrs. Branks had both her legs broken by the branch of a falling tree; she was brought to the colonial hospital, lock-jaw ensued, and she died in a fortnight; and now, in a still more melaneholy and shocking manner, the entire family have been cut off at a single blow. But the Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices were not sinners above all the Galileans. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and the wicked.

God has repeatedly spoken to us by terrible things in righteousness, and he is now calling us again to join trembling with our mirth. We have received another striking lesson of the extreme uncertainty of human life, and the necessity of habitual and actual preparation for being called away to the eternal world.

No doubt many of those who live in retired situations in the page 239 country have felt alarmed for their safety. Most happily, however, while we deeply deplore what has occurred, and while it must shake to some extent that feeling of confidence that was so fast growing up towards the natives,—there does appear no ground for serious apprehensions as to the future. The murderer has been taken. There is no reason to believe that any ill-feeling is en tertained by the natives towards the Europeans. It was evidently the act of a solitary individual, not stirred up or employed by any other natives. He is an outcast from his tribe for bad conduct. His punishment, while it will strike terror, will call forth no sympathy from the natives. It is right for those, in solitary localities especially, to take all nccesary precautions for safety, to fasten their doors firmly after nightfall, and to avoid exposing themselves unnecessarily; but having done this, believing that neither Satan nor any of his emissaries can do anything against either soul or body, farther than they are permitted by God,—committing their persons and property to the care of the watchful Shepherd of Israel, they may dismiss all over-anxiety for their future safety, and attend to their ordinary avocations and every day duties without any foreboding fears of future calamity; but ever remembering that “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”