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The New Zealand Evangelist

Local Religious Intelligence

page 91

Local Religious Intelligence.

Sabbath Notes At Otago

March 26.—Our first Sabbath on the shores of New Zealand. Public worship on board ship at Port Chalmers. Our thanks giving to Almighty God for his many mercies, his abounding loving kindness shewn toward unworthy us during our prosperous voyage. What cause for gratitude to the giver of all good—all whom our good ship John Wickliff had borne far from home and hearth, were spared to see the long wished for Haven. We cannot sum up the mercies of the voyage—and what the amount of gratitude in return? Let the future tell, and mark the Ebenezers.

April 9.—The Sabbath at Dunedin. Preached, in the forenoon, at the emigration barracks, from Acts iv. 12,—and again, in the afternoon, on the small mount adjoining the “Wickliff Pier,” or landing place, from Psalms cxix, 9. The first Presbyterian Minister to proclaim my master's message on the shores of this beautiful Bay. The elements were at rest—the air was mild and genial—the waters were without a wave—and could scarcely mutter the slightest murmur. The expansive firmament, above and around as, was our great Temple of praise. What a scene for a Hollowed Sabbath! Dunedin may it be said of thee,—“Thy tabernacles are amiable—thy Sabbaths smile with heavenly loveliness—thy present day is a day of small things, when shall we hear of the great things?” The answer to this will depend upon the remembrance of thy day of Grace.

April 16.—The Sabbath at Port Chalmers, Preached to the people on board the Philip Laing, (the Clyde emigrant ship which arrived only yesterday.) Mr. Burns had gone up to Dunedin to preach there. My congregation was a large one, something like a congregation in the country at home. Old and young assembled themselves to worship the God of their fathers in a strange land, and to rear their first altar of gratitude on the shores of their adopted home. The Lord make every heart a temple of gratitude and praise, and by a loving obedience may they ever show that they are living in the constant remembrance of Him who has led them hitherto. My auditors were most attentive and seemed all alive to the sanctuary services. The songs sung were the songs of our Zion, and they were all the sweeter in a foreign land, so far away from the beloved sanctuaries of our fatherland.

“They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty sheer.”

Port Chalmers—Sabbath the 23rd day of April, was a lovely day on these shores, and a day to be remembered by me and mine. Our dear son was this day dedicated, by Baptism, to his father in Heaven. The Rev. Thomas Burns preached on board the John Wickliff, and baptised. The services were solemn and interesting, the Church in the ship, and on the calm waters of the peaceful page 92 Bay. O Lord, I trust that thy Free Spirit was poured out on the occasion. To Thee, O my Father, I look for the blessing!

Auckland.—From the April number of The Foreign Missionary Record for the Free Church of Scotland, we learn that the Rev. Mr. Panton, late of Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh, has been appointed to the Church of Auckland. Of that edifice little except the scaffold poles are yet visible, and should the Minister speedily arrive, he will certainly find a congregation eager to receive him, but unless greater diligence be used, a Kirk only in distant perspective. We congratulate the Presbyterians of Auckland that their spiritual wants are likely so soon to be relieved. We trust their Pastor will prove a steadfast and shining light.—New Zealander.

Port Nicholson Total Abstinence Society.

The Annual Meeting of this Society was held in the Rev. Mr. Green's Chapel, on the 4th ultimo. The annual report was read, addresses were delivered, and the office bearers chosen for the ensuing year, viz: Bev. John Inglis, president; Mr. C. Hinchcliff, Secretary; Mr. J. Stoddart, Treasure; and Rev. H. Green, Messrs, Bould, Harding, Bradshaw, Booth, Vaughan, Wyeth, and Paterson, Members of Committee. The following statements were made in the report:—

“A Total Abstinence Society has existed in this place since shortly after the commencement of the colony, but in consequence of a considerable increase in the number of members, it was deemed proper, about fourteen months ago, to re-organize the Society, and alter, not its principles, but some of its regulations. Since the organization of the present society, four public meetings have been held in Wellington, and two tea meetings. Deputations of the Committee have held or assisted at two public meetings at the Hutt, and one at Karori. The number of Members at present on the list is above 100; about 20 of these were either occasional or confirmed drunkards. The number of Members does not convey any correct idea of the strength and extent of the temperance principle in this settlement, as many act on the principle who have not signed the pledge. A Society was also formed in the Hutt district, which was very efficient for some time, but from the fewness of public meetings, has of late been in a languid condition.

The want of a suitable place for holding public and other meetings of the Society has always been much felt. Twelve months ago a considerable effort was made for the erection of a “Temperance Hall.” A deputation of members was appointed to solicit subscriptions for this object, His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor headed the list with £5: the sum of £59 was subscribed, and £5, the proceeds of a tea meeting, were appropriated for the same purpose. The paid subscriptions, and other sums, have all been deposited in the Savings Bank. The amount deposited in the Bank is £24 5s. IId. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining a suitable site for the building, the raising of funds has not been proceeded page 93 with; but it is hoped that the Society will soon be in a condition to proceed with this undertaking. There is the likelihood of a site being obtained, and every prospect that sufficient funds can be raised for the completion of the structure contemplated.

“The attention of the public is earnestly called to some startling and painful facts connected with drinking and intemperance. The quantity of spirits that was entered and paid duty for home consumption in Wellington during the first six months of the present year was, in round numbers, 15,000 gallons; wines, 9000 gallons; ale, beer, and porter, 9000 gallons; making a total of 33,000 gals. for the six months; this is exclusive of all the beer manufactured in the colony. If we take the price of the imported liquors to the public to be 10s. per gallon, we have the enormous sum of £16,500 as the price of our intoxicating drinks for six months. This quantity, however, includes all that is used by the military as well as the civilians. The population of this settlement is 4500. If we include the troops, Wanganui, and the other places on the coast supplied from Wellington, and the Natives who use intoxicating drinks, the whole will not, it is believed, be more than 6000. It is said also, that there is at present a glut in the liguor market; but admitting this, admitting that there has been one-third more imported during these six months than has been consumed, it will present 46,000 gallons of imported liquors as our annual consumption, and an expenditure of £24,000 on an article that, in nineteen cases out of twenty, is not only useless but injurious. It is at the rate of eight gallons of intoxicating drink, and at an expense of £4 for every man, woman, and child in the colony! These calculations may not be correct, but they are at least an approximation to a startling and alarming fact.”

It is matter of sincere regret that intemperance is increasing among the natives; still it is gratifying to observe their general and marked sobriety as a whole. While there have been 25 convictions of Europeans for drunkenness before the Resident Magistrate's Court, for the last two quarters, not a single native has been brought up for any similar charge. Within the last six or eight months, three men have been burnt to death while in a state of intoxication, and three others have been drowned, according to a current report, from the same cause. Several instances of temporary and permanent insanity, have within a recent period been produced by intemperance.

“The cost of intemperance is a serious and important question for the political economist and reformer; the frightful accidents and intense suffering caused by the use of these liquors, ought to arouse every friend of humanity; and the effects of these drinking customs and habits upon morals and religion, call loudly for the energetic and united efforts of all the office bearers and members of the Church of Christ.

“Can nothing be done to avert and overcome this gigantic evil? It is suggested that public meetings be more frequently held for exciting attention and diffusing information on this subject. That members of the Society ought to exert themselves more diligently page 94 in their respective spheres of influence to procure signatures. Might not female influence be brought to bear more systematically and energetically on this cause? Might not the youth be enlisted more extensively? The one half of our population are under 14 years of age: these must nearly all be temperate, and could they be kept so the evil would soon die. Has the pulpit in every case given forth a distinct sound, as frequently and as faithfully as the greatness of the evil demands? Would not a series of discourses upon this subject be attended with good effect? Might not a greater number of members be obtained if Congregational Societies were formed? Family Societies have in many cases been attended with happy results. Might not employers be urged to change their pay night from Saturday to an earlier day in the week? Signing the pledge is one, but it is only one of the many means that may, and ought to be employed to diminish intemperance. In fine let there be more zeal, more activity, and more fervent prayer for that Spirit, one of whose fruits is temperance, and the hearts of all who engage in this work, will be cheered by seeing the cause of God and humanity prospering in their hands.

Wesleyan Methodist Annual District Meeting, Southern Section.

The Wesleyan Ministers of the Province of New Munster have just concluded their Annual District Meeting. Throughout its, sittings the greatest unanimity prevailed, The business of the Meeting embraced the operations of the past, and arrangements and plans for the ensuing year. Both a review of the former, and the prospects of the latter, in both the English and Native Departments of the gre at Missionary work, awakened the liveliest feelings of gratitude. The labours of the Ministers among both races have been crowned with success. They can point to many and say” the seals of” our” Apostleship are ye in the Lord.” The year about to be entered upon affords encouraging prospects. Several chapels, for the benefit of both Natives and Europeans, are about to be erected—aid from the Local Government, for educational purposes is shortly to be afforded. These things, with the peaceful and lively state of our Societies, lead us to anticipate a deepening and an extension of the work of God.

There are few places in this Province in a more encouraging state than the Hutt, in the Wellington Circuit. The settlers in this beautiful valley have left no means untried to obtain a Resident Minister. They have been strong and urgent in their request; and as a proof of their sincerity have promised to raise the annual sum of £100 towards a minister's stipend. The meeting constrained by their importunity, and encouraged by the promise of such pecuniary aid, has decided that they shall have a Minister. Arrangements have accordingly been made; and by God's will, the settlers will soon have granted unto them the desire of their page 95 heart. And while the earnestness, exertions, and liberality of those immediately connected with the Society were pleasurably and thankfully dwelt upon, the meeting was highly gratified by the friendliness of others, not directly in communion with the Wesleyan Church. The kindness and Christian spirit of William Swainson, Eb., F.R.S., were referred to, and called forth great admiration. It was observed by the Ministers present, that such kindness had not been of a doubtful and of an inconstant nature, but most unequivocal, uniform, and of long duration. While such conduct in any age, and in any place, merits the approval of every pious man, yet in these days and scenes of bigotry and exclusivism, it spams to be entitled to special admiration.

In this Province there are eight regular Ministers—eight English Chapels—and 16 other English preaching places. There are about 311 European Communicants, 379 Sunday and Day Scholars, and about 1510 inclusive of Scholars who attend Wesleyan Services. Adding these to the Native Congregations, there are 5221 under the care of the Missionaries of this Province.

Wellington, September 21, 1848.

New Episcopal, Church, Te Aro.

This Church was opened for public worship on Sabbath, the 10th ultimo, by the Rev. R. Cole, A.M. It is an elegant and substantial building, capable of containing from 200 to 300 people. It will furnish to the members and adherents of the Church of England, in that locality, a great facility in attending upon public worship. This is the eleventh Protestant place of worship in the Wellington settlement. Every additional erection of this kind is another public witness in behalf of the Christian Religion, and against infidelity, ungodliness, and immorality; tending to diminish the number of open Sabbath breakers, to increase the number of the church-going population, and to strengthen the hands of the professed worshippers of Jehovah. They are all places where God's word is read and expounded, where His praises are sung, where Divine ordinances are dispensed, where blessings are implored, and where judgments are deprecated. The thousand Churches in London have been happily represented as so many lightening conductors, by which the wrath of God is averted from a guilty community.