The New Zealand Evangelist
For some months past the weather has been very inclement, as matters go with us; the wind has blown from the south-east, and there has been more frost and snow than has been seen for several years. Upon the young, the aged, and the delicate in health, the cold, freezing, paralyzing hand of Winter has pressed with more than usual severity. Sickness has been prevailing to a considerable extent. Death has been going his rounds, especially among the natives. The average mortality has been greater than for several months. But when we compare the average of sickness and mortality here, with the average of the corresponding period in Britain and Ireland, we have abundant cause for gratitude and thankfulness. Owing to the heavy storms, several of the small coasting vessels have been wrecked, and we regret to say, that in some cases all on board have perished.
The remaining ravages of the earthquakes are fast disappearing. The foundation of the Wesleyan Chapel has been laid, and the frame of the building has been erected. It will be an elegant and commodious building, an ornament to the town and a benefit to the community, as well as an honour and advantage to the Wesleyan Society. We are glad to learn that the spirit of liberality has been so fully displayed, both by their own members page 106 and the religious public. Our earnest hope is that it may be opened free of debt.
It is extremely satisfactory to think that, while in other places, dazzling dreams and glittering visions of Californian gold have been heating the brains, and turning the heads of multitudes, scarcely a person in this settlement has been in the slightest degree affected, by all the glowing descriptions of the precious dust, and massive ingots of this El Dorado; scarcely one has been attracted to a land, where a few will find fortunes, but where many will find a grave. Instead of risking life and property in gambling speculations about the golden sands of this modern Pactolus—the golden apples of this modern Hesperides—or the golden wedge of this modern Ophir, the adventurers here have evinced sound sense and far-seeing wisdom, by applying themselves, with painstaking perseverance, to the rearing of a goose, to use the language of Æsop, that will continue to lay golden eggs, and be a perennial source of wealth, long after the placers of California have been exhausted of their treasures, and are furnishing nothing but barren sands, and worthless dross. It has long been obvious that the Phormium Tenax, peculiar to these islands, will sooner or later be one of the staple, and most valuable exports of this country. But hitherto there was one great drawback; the slow and difficult, and hence expensive process, required to separate the gummy matter from the fibre. This obstacle, however, appears now to be removed. It is now apparently established that a simple, speedy, and consequently cheap, process of accomplishing this has been discovered. For some weeks past this question has been the all-engrossing topic of public interest; almost every person has been experimenting on flax, and several important principles have evidently been established. For years past, experiments have been tried again and again, but with little success, arising, as appears now, from a source of error deeply inherent in hupage 107man nature; a disposition to overlook the simple and easy, and admire the mysterious and obscure.— It seems to have been thought, that the separating of the gummy matter from the fibre of the flax, being a new process, must necessarily be something extremely recondite, mysterious, and difficult; and hence every easy plan, and every simple agency, were either eschewed or overlooked. This is the Scientific age, and Chemistry is one of our Dii majores, one of our great Gods. Invoke her, and she will reveal the mystery: the philosopher's stone, the talisman that will convert flax into gold, must be some chemical substance; an acid or an alkali, an oxide or a chloride; the sulphate of this, the phosphate of that, or the carbonate of something else; something bearing one of the cabalistic names; by which the modern magic astounds the ears, and captivates the imagination of childlike simplicity, and unsophisticated ignorance. But, strange! to all the invocations of her votaries, Chemistry is as mute as the image of Baal, and silent as the long forgotten oracle of Delphos. Necessity is the mother of invention; when complex and mysterious plans failed, simple ones were tried. Hope dawned, discoveries were made, and success, more or less complete, has followed. A few weeks ago it was announced, that the mysterious bond between gum and fibre could be dissolved by means of alum. In a few days after, it was ascertained that simpler and cheaper agents—sea-weed and sea-water were equally efficacious. And in a few days more, that fresh-water was as good as salt water for this purpose, and that steeping is nearly as good as boiling. Great, good, universal, beneficial to all men, are the works and gifts of Heaven. Simplicity is the first thing with God, but the last and highest attainment of man. Man tries every liquor to allay his thirst, and finds at last that water being the simplest is the best of all. He exhausts the Pharmacopcea for a cure to disease, and finds that no panacea is better than water. In the present case, the simplest and cheapest agent is pro-page 108ductive of the best results. How much better God is to us than we would be to ourselves! And the higher the interest involved, the more clearly is this seen. To one seeking deliverance from the most inveterate of maladies, the prophet said, “Go wash in Jordan seven times;” but the premier of Syria, thinking himself mocked, turned away in a rage. A wise servant mildly said, “My Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing wouldst thou not have done it?” He hearkens, dips seven times in Jordan, and leaves his leprosy behind him. “Good master,” said an anxious youth, “what good thing must I do?” “Men and brethren,“said a conscience-stricken multitude, “what must we do?” “Sirs,” said the trembling jailor, “what must I do to be saved?” “Do! poor sinner,” says the voice from Heaven,“what could you do if you were willing? Do you not see the flaming sword, at the gate of Paradise, keeping the doer out? Do you not see the Law in characters of fire, and hear it with voice of trumpet, declaring, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them?’ and does not the same authority say, ‘He that offends in one point is guilty of all?’ In these hopeless circumstances what can you do? But the plan of salvation like all God's works is simple in the extreme. The work has been done to your hand. The blessed Jesus has done all that is to be done. You have nothing to do; unless you call believing a promise, and receiving a gift by the name of doing.”
Printed at the Office of the "Wellington Independent," Corner of Willis-street and Lambton Quay.
“O how unlike the complex works of man,
Heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan!
Inscribed above the portal from afar
Conspicuous, as the brightness of a star,
Legible only by the light they give,
Stand the soul-quickening words—Believe and live.”