The New Zealand Evangelist
Local Religious Intelligence
Local Religious Intelligence.
In this settlement we are happy to record the quiet and steady growth of all things which tend to make the prosperity of a Colony permanent. There is but little excitement, little to vary the proceedings of the settlers; but all appear to be happy, contented, and well-doing.
The Total Abstinence cause progresses. Most of its members and advocates are connected with Christian Churches, and are active in the propagation of true religion, as well as abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. There are some of this society who have been reclaimed from the lowest degrees of drunkenness, and their conduct gives evidence not only of an outward reformation from that degrading sin, but of that inward, vital change without which we “cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” A pleasing circumstance in connection with the society deserves record. Conscious that, without the blessing of God, all their efforts to reclaim the drunkard will be fruitless, the Committee have established a Monthly Prayer Meeting, and they have many indications of God's approval of their motives anendeavours.
In the Education of their youth, the settlers of Nelson rank deservedly high. There are not only good and efficient Day and Sabbath Schools in connexion with the Episcopalian and Wesleyan congregations, but a number of excellent private Schools, formed on the broad basis of the British and Foreign School Society, in the town, and in most of the country villages of the-settlement. They owe their existence page 355 and efficiency mainly to the exemplary diligence and self-denial of Mr. Campbell, whose name is worthy of all honour. No one but himself knows the sacrifice of time, labour, and money, that he has made in their establishment and support.
The day after Christmas day is one of great pleasurable excitement in the District. It is the Annual gathering of all the Schools in town and country. The writer will not soon forget his happy emotions on the last occasion of the kind. About 10 a. m., he saw about a dozen bullock-drays coming in from the country, one at the heels of another, all adorned with garlands and festoons of flowers:—the drays were literally crammed with a living freight of teachers and scholars, all arrayed in their best apparel, with joyous, happy faces singing as they came; some inviting the bystanders to
“Come to that happy land,
Far, far away,
others again were lustily joining in the chorus
“Canaan, bright Canaan,”
As soon as could be managed, all the scholars were ranged in a semicircle on the green, to the number of 500 or 600, where several pieces were sung, concluding with the National Anthem. They were then marshalled in procession order, each school headed by its officers, and were marched along the principal streets of the town up to a large booth erected for the occasion, near Mr. Campbell's School, Bridge street, where they were liberally provided with refreshments, and, nothing loth, all, old and young did ample justice to the good cheer.
The coup d'œil at this period was magnificent. Various flags and banners, and festoons of flowers and shrubs were tastefully arrayed around the booth, and over head, shading the guests from the powerful rays of the bright sun, while a pleasant breeze, playing around and among them, kept the place delightfully cool. Perhaps, the principal attraction to the observer was the appropriate passage “Suffer little children to come unto me,” done in large letters; page 356 the letters formed of ripe cherries pinned upon a white ground, stretched from side to side across the booth.
The children sung several pieces delightfully — some people said like little angels—and recitations, catechisms, examinations in scripture, reading, &c., passed off with credit to all concerned.
Several New Churches have been erected during the year, of the opening of which notices have already appeared in the Evangelist. At present the Episcopalians are busily engaged in getting up a Churck for their accommodation in the town. Up to this time they have worshipped in one of the original Emigration houses, which was not very suitable for the purpose, nor was it at all ornamental to the town. May God prosper them in their undertakings.
We are extremely gratified with the fact, that so many Bibles have been purchased in this settlement during the past twelve months. We rejoice that the efforts of the Bible Society, and private individuals, to supply a known and felt desideratum, and to introduce in larger quantities the “Word of Life,” have been so fully appreciated. We are delighted to see that so many heads of families have done honour to themselves and to their dwellings, by the introduction of an elegant Family Bible,—that so many of our young men and young women are seen carrying beautiful copies of the Scriptures to the House of God—and that so many children are supplied with plain but good copies of that book, which is able to make even them wise unto salvation. We earnestly pray that this state of things may continue and increase, till there shall not be in this community a family, calling itself Christian, without a Family Bible, in perfect keeping with the best of their household furniture,—not a young man or a young woman entering page 357 the house of God without a copy of the Scriptures, in every respect in keeping with the most elegant portion of their dress,—and not a child who is able to read, or willing to learn to read the Scriptures, who does not possess a copy of the Word of God. This is the age of cheap and beautiful Bibles. O let them have universal circulation! Fourteen centuries and a half ago, the celebrated Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, who rejoiced to witness the translation and circulation of the holy oracles, especially among the Gothic tribes, finished a climax exultingly by saying, “Britain possesses the Word of Life!” He earnestly exhorted his hearers to possess the Bible. No one in his opinion was excused from reading the Bible. The business of the forum, or the market, and the cares of a family, were no apology for neglect. “The Bible is a plain book,” said he, “the artizan, slave, and widow may understand it, yea, the earnest reader will profit by it, although no one be near to expound it.”*
We beg also to acquaint our Scotch friends that Mr. Lyon has lately received a supply of their venerable and fondly cherished version of the Book of Psalms. This version which was intended to supercede that of Sternhold and Hopkins, was first executed by Francis Rous, an eminent member of the Long Parliament; it was afterwards revised and sanctioned by the West minster Assembly of Divines, by whom the Shorter Catechism and the other Presbyterian Standards were composed; and it received the imprimatur of the English House of Commons, if not also of the House of Lords. It was subsequently examined by the General Assembly and Presbyteries of the Scottish Church, who made some emendations; it was authorised by the Commission of the Assembly, confirmed by an order of the Committee of Estates, and finally, on the 19th of May, 1650, this version was set forth in its present form, and “allowed by page 358 the General Assemby of the Kirk of Scotland, and appointed to be sung in Congregations and Families;” as being a translation “more plain, smooth, and agreeable to the text than any heretofore.” This character, which in a few years will have stood, as if stereotyped on the title page, for two full centuries, may be of more questionable accuracy now than when it first appeared; but it has been recently declared by a high authority, that “this version, notwithstanding numerous minor faults, may be affirmed to convey in general, with the most scrupulous exactness, the meaning, and frequently to retain no small portion of the energy and simplicity of the divine original.”
The first edition of the Scotch Paraphrases was published in 1745, and after undergoing various emendations and additions, they were sanctioned by the General Asembly in their present form in 1781.
In will not now be for lack of Psalm Books, if the words of the “sweet singer of Israel” are not extensively true, among those who use this version,
“In dwellings of the righteous
Is heard the melody
Of joy and health—”
or if the loveliest domestic picture ever drawn by their national bard, is not universally copied by the descendants of those who are thus beautifully pourtrayed,—
“He wales a portion with judicious care;
And ‘Let us worship God!’ he says, with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps Dundee's wild warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heavenward flame,
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays.”
Mr. Lyon, has now also on hand an extensive well-selected stock of books on religious subjects, history, biography, and general literature; so that by a very moderate expenditure, every one who has any taste for books may supply himself with abundance of pleasant and profitable page 359 reading. No one need now allow his mind to rust in idleness, or permit his time to hang heavy on his hand, or resort for enjoyment to gambling and dissipation. If he will only avail himself of the stores of interesting, useful, and edifying knowledge at his command—if he will only improve aright his Sabbaths, his wet days, and his winter evenings; he may every week of his life become a wiser, better, and happier man.
Primitive Methodist Sabbath School.—
On Sabbath the 24th ult., the Rev. Mr. Long, from Adelaide, preached two excellent sermons, in the Rev Mr. Green's Chapel, Thorndon, at which collections were made in behalf of the Sabbath School kept in the Chapel. The attendance was good, and the collection liberal, on both occasions.
Mr. Long is proceeding to Taranaki, where he is to be stationed in room of the Rev. Mr. Ward, who is about to proceed to Auckland, to be stationed there.
When so many of the heralds of the cross are running to and fro, our earnest prayer is, that the saving knowlege of God may be increased.
* Journal Sac. Lit, vol. I. p. 219.