The New Zealand Evangelist
Local Religious Intelligence
Local Religious Intelligence.
The Natives.—A Communion.
Sept. 7. After a quiet and pensive journey on the Mission horse, on the 25th ult., I arrived at Katotauru. Men, women, children,** (and dogs,) were all collected together on a lawn, and the people of the place brought them food with great ceromony. This consisted of whole and cut up pigs, potatoes, flour baked into large flat cakes, as hard as a brickbat, with other food, which was distributed to the different parties, and all set to and made a substantial meal. In the evening the people all assembled in the Chapel, and I addressed them from the 8th Psalm. On Lord's day morning, as soon as the light appeared, they were all in motion. The first thing was the prayer meeting; then their food; then the School; this was a most interesting service, catechizing, &c. The subject was the institution and design of the Lord's Supper. After the usual questions and answers, one of the Teachers addressed them on its obligation, in a feeling and eloquent style. After school, the public service; the Chapel was crowded to excess. I spoke from 1 Peter, 1 c. 16 v. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” After preaching, I baptized a child. He was four days old. The mother was not present. She actually went out two days after her confinement, and assisted to get food for her friends. This threw her page 172 back, and she remained in her house ill. Such cases are very common among the natives. In the after part of the day, I administered the Sacrament to the members. Several were kept back by the leaders for uttering improper words, family quarrels, &c. This is always a solemn and interesting season. They have clear and correct views of the atonement, and are most scrupulous in keeping back any one from partaking who may have walked disorderly, or in any way defiled the conscience. Not a sound was heard during the service, and all separated in peace. But I was most interested between the services with the conversation of two of our native teachers, Thomas and Reuben. It was an argument on the doctrines of the resurrection and the immortality of the soul. Job and Paul were adduced, especially Paul's masterly argument in the xv. of 1 Cor. The new body was represented as being like the butterfly escaped from its prison in the earth; before its change an unsightly worm. I was greatly delighted with what I heard, which brought to mind the beautiful lines of the poet:—
“Arrayed in glorious Grace,
Shall these vile bodies shine;
And every shape and every face
Look heavenly and divine.”
On the evening of Monday, the 25th September, a Tea-Meeting was held in the Chapel at Karori, to commemorate the opening of that place of worship. As usual, the meeting was numerously and respectably attended. After tea, the Rev. James Watkin was called to the chair. The Secretary read the Report; from which it appeared that in consequence of the greatly increased attendance upon public worship at the time of the earthquakes, it had been found necessary to enlarge page 173 the Chapel; and that nearly £50 had been expended during the past year in the enlarging and improving of the building. Nearly the whole of this sum had been raised by subscriptions and other voluntary contributions, so that the Chapel is still almost free from debt. It was gratifying to learn that several persons who had rarely if ever attended the public worship of God before the earthquakes, have been among the most regular worshippers there ever since; and some of them have become communicants with the different denominations that from time to time administer the Lord's Supper. It appears that only two deaths, and these bath infants, have occured in this district during the past year; and only six since the commencement of the settlement. Addresses were delivered by the Chairman, and by the Rev. Messrs. Green and Inglis, in which the importance of attending more to the education of the young, than appears to be done at present, was strongly pressed; the duty of opposing by every legitimate means the opening of a house for the sale of intoxicating drinks, which has been threatened, and other topics were forcibly illustrated, and listened to with interest and attention.
Wesleyan Tea Meeting.—
On Monday the 1st ult., a Tea Meeting was held in the Wesleyan School Room, Manners-street. The object of the Tea Meeting was to aid the funds for building the New Chapel. The Meeting was numerously attended. After tea the Rev. James Watkin, was called to the Chair. Interesting and animated addresses were delivered by the Chairman and the Ministers present. During the evening several pieces of sacred music were sung with great taste, spirit, and effect by the choir. The collection, and sums promised in aid of the Chapel fund, amounted to the handsome sum of £26.
The Wesleyan Congregation have been now a full page 174 twelvemonth without a Chapel, and during that period they have had only the limited accommodation of a School-room. This must have had an unfavourable influence upon the general interests of the congregation. But the New Chapel is now covered in, and in a short time will be ready for being opened. It will be at once a commodious, substantial, and elegant building. When once opened, may the eyes of the Lord rest upon it, and upon every synagogue in the Land!
Services Commemorative of the Earthquakes.—
The 16th of October being the day on which the first of the severe shocks of earthquake was felt last year; on the 16th ult., the Ministers of the Evangelical Alliance in Wellington, held three united services, commemorative of these alarming events; in the forenoon in the Wesleyan Chapel, in the afternoon in the Primitive Methodist Chapel, and in the evening in the Scotch Church. The services were numerously attended, greatly more so than was anticipated; and all who were present engaged in the various exercises with the deepest interest and the most marked attention. Similiar services were held in the Hutt.
Most of our readers are aware that there exists in this settlement, as there does in many other places, the scanty remains of a very old religious, or rather non-religious, sect. Antiquarian writers have traced its existence to a very early period. One old ecclesiastical historian has shown, that it was numerous and powerful among the antediluvians. Some infer that Cain was its founder. A very ancient Jewish or Arabian poet, who flourished long before either Homer or Hesiod, has preserved what appears to be one of the leading articles of their creed; possibly it may be a fragment of one of their hymns:—
“They said unto God, depart from us:
What can the Almighty do to us?
What profit should we have if we pray to him?”
It is certain from the remains of Egyptian history that have come down to us, that the Pharaoh who was drowned in the Red Sea, was a leading member of this sect. One of the best known writers of the first century speaks of them, as familiarly known in his day, by the name of Scoffers; and a contemporary writer calls them by the name of Mockers. It is possible that these names may have been given them by their enemies, as nicknames, like Puritan and Methodist; but certain it is they have been long and extensively known by these and other synonymous appellations. They have been sometimes more, sometimes less prosperous, but they have never been extinct; and the Church of Rome herself has not been more distinguished for unity of sentiment and uniformity of practice.
One of the most marked heresies that ever sprung up among this fraternity, in this part of the world, was in October 1848. During the continuance of the earth quakes, from being Scoffers or Mockers they became, all at once, literally Quakers. We have not heard that they wore broad hats, but it is well known that they assumed very grave looks and put on very long faces, and that as often as the earth shook they quaked. But the times are changed and they are changed with the times. A few of them persevered in their heresy and finally joined the Bible sect; but their numbers were comparatively small. The cause of that change was from the earth, and like every thing terrestial it was passing. They continued to look down and not up—to earth and not to heaven, and when the earth became stable they stood firm, and when she smiled they again laughed. They are now heartily ashamed of their short-lived heresy, and most devoutly zealous to convince the world, that although to err sometimes, is human; yet they are as orthodox in sentiment, and as consistent in practice, as any of their forefathers ever were, since the times of primeval antiquity.
It is needless to say, that the members of the Evangelical Alliance have no sympathies in common page 176 with this sect. We are no alarmists. It was from no wish to excite alarm—from no special fear of an immediate return of such a catastrophe, that we observed the 16th of October, partly as a day of humiliation for sins, and partly as a day of thanksgiving for mercies. It is not that we regarded the observance of that day as of positive divine appointment; but that as the return of the year brought naturally a vivid recollection of the scenes through which we had passed, it appeared to be a fitting time, to revive the salutary impressions produced by these events, and to revise the important lesson that God had taught us then by the voice of his providence.
We know perfectly well that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, thunder storms, cholera, fevers, and all these terrific phenomena, are the effects of natural causes. We can discover more or less distinctly the operation of the physical laws on which they depend. But we know also, that there is mind as well as matter—that mind is immeasurably superior to matter—that there is a system of laws for the regulation of mind, as well as for the regulation of matter, —that the governor of the universe is an intelligent Being—that the last link of the chain of both physical and moral causes terminates with him,—that God secures submission to his physical or natural laws by preventing disobedience, and to his moral laws by punishing disobedience—that as matter is made subservient to mind, so when the laws of matter traverse the laws of mind, the less must yield to the greater. We can see the lower links of the chain of both moral and natural causes, but not the higher. We know that prayer is an important link in the chain of moral causes. Neither prayer nor any secondary moral causes, affect the secondary natural causes; but prayer affects the Great First Cause, and he affects the secondary natural causes. Prayer does not effect the electric fluid, or the metallic bases, and hence we do not pray to the lightning or the earthquakes; but prayer, as a moral cause, by divine appointment, affects Jehovah; He controls electricity page 177 and other agents, and, in this way, prayer tells indirectly but no less powerfully upon earthquakes and all the phenomena of nature.
We know from the Bible that God employs all these agencies, as he sees meet, for the punishment of sin. (see 1 Kings, viii, 33, &c.) We are distinctly assured that the flood, brought about by purely natural causes, was occasioned by the heinous sins of that depraved and wicked generation. Ten righteous men would have saved Sodom, although the fires of heaven above it required only a spark to ignite them; but as there was only one righteous man, his righteousness saved only himself and the least guilty part of his family.
We believe in the Bible; we have unlimited confidence in prayer. We know that believing prayer,—prayer in the name of Christ—honest, earnest, persevering supplication, will either avert evils; or protect life and property amidst divinely sent judgments; or cause the most terrific calamities to work together for good—for securing the eternal salvation of the supplicants; so that temporal loss will become to them spiritual gain.
It would be not only unscriptural, as the merest child knows, but highly unphilosophical not to pray,—as unphilosophical here not to pray for preservation from earthquakes, as to neglect the most obvious principles of architecture in the construction of our buildings. The one is a protection against earthquakes only, the other is a protection against evil of every kind. God has many and mighty agencies at his command, with which to punish a guilty community,—but prayer and piety are invincible, because divinely appointed means of preservation.—“In six troubles he will deliver thee; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.”
Phenomena Of The Month.
October, 1848, will long be remembered in this settlement. Earthquakes are not like the storms of page 178 winter, annual visitations, and hence beyond some very slight vibrations, we have felt no return of these awful phenomena. We have had, however, some severe storms of wind and rain, followed in some localities by very high floods. In the Hutt, these floods threaten to be more destructive than all the earthquakes they have experienced. Many of the houses were filled a foot deep with water. One or two more such floods, it is said, would sweep away the new bridge, endanger the Wesleyan Chapel, and render Mr. Swainson's house uninhabitable. These evils, we are informed, have been either caused, or greatly aggravated, by the settlers filling up the natural water-courses with fallen trees and brushwood. It is not our province to discuss the clearing of land, or the principles of drainage; but our religion inculcates such principles as “Not slothful in business.” “Be thou careful to know the state, &c.” “Wisdom is profitable to direct.” “He will guide his affairs with discretion.” And looking at the fearful devastation which the river has produced, if the causes assigned are the true ones, it occurred to us, that both the settlers and the authorities might ponder with advantage the reflections of the Hebrew sage, (Pro. xxiv. 30—34.) as he went by the field of the slothful, and the vineyard of the man void of understanding.
For three long months the Tararua range of mountains has been constantly covered with a mantle white as wool; but now Spring, breathing soft gales from the warm sunny north, has dissolved the snows, and the mountains are lifting their green heads to the sky. Life, vegetable and animal, is strong in forests, fields, and gardens. The husbandman is committing precious seeds of every kind to the bosom of the earth, in the confident hope, with God's blessing, of a plentiful return, when the winds of autumn shall breathe over the fields; and he will hardly be disappointed.
Young readers! remember, this is the spring time of your existence, the most important period of your page 179 life; if you lose it in idleness, or spend it sowing the seeds of sin and folly, no future diligence will fully compensate your losses. Of all other seasons of life,—
“This is the season fair of living well,
The path of glory, or the path of hell.”
Notes On Gardening.
November, the most bleak and dreary of all months in the northern hemisphere, is, in ours, the most genial and joyous of the year. It is now that spring merges into young summer. The cold and often blighting Equinoxial gales have past, the air assumes a soft, genial warmth, and vegetation, steeped often in “tepid showers,” seems to take a fresh start, and assumes an almost tropical luxuriance. From all our Fruit trees, save the Vine and the Passion flowers, (Passifloræ), the blossoms have past, and the incipient fruit begins to swell. Towards the end of October, Gooseberries, in sheltered situations, are ready to pick for tarts, and Peaches, with other stone fruits, should be thinned of their exuberant produce.
The summer pruning of all Fruit trees had better now be commenced: This consists in pinching off all superfluous shoots, such as disturb the symmetry of the older branches, or are likely to shade the expected crop of fruit too much. By commencing thus early, considerable trouble in the winter pruning is saved; and the sap, by being thrown into such branches or shoots as are wanted for future bearing, increases their growth proportionately. If gooseberry and currant bushes are well managed, their heads, or centre, will be always hollow, for the purpose of letting in sun and air, and thus render the fruit large and well flavoured. But as strong shoots will now begin to rise from the hollow crown, they should be immediately pinched off, or they will counteract the object of this mode of training. The innumerable suckers which spring up between the rows of raspberries should be cut off by the common hoe, a few inches below the surface; and this should be repeated every two or three weeks, when necessary; but if the spade is used, the roots of the bearing branches (or canes) are very likely to be injured, and the crop of fruit much diminished.
Plantations of Cape Gooseberries may now be made, so as to provide a crop of fruit for the autumn. The situation should be very sheltered from the prevalent cold winds, and yet open to the morning and mid-day sun. When this plant grows luxuriantly, page 180 it covers a large surface, and requires its lowermost branches to be supported; they would otherwise trail on the ground, and be much injured by slugs, I find seven feet between the rows, and four between each plant, is sometimes barely sufficient to admit of the fruit being gathered easily. The plants generally last from three to four years, and come into bearing the first.
In regard to Vegetables, pumpkins, melons, gourds, &c., may be safely planted in the open air, and young asparagus, raised from seed, should be planted out on a showery day, in the beds where they are to remain. Peas and beans may be sown all this month, at intervals of two or three weeks, as well as all the cabbage tribe.
This is a charming month for flowers. Although the Jonquill, and some of the early spring favourites, as the Primrose, Daffodil, and Cowslip have passed away, the double white Narcissus, very rare in this settlement, comes into flower early in November; its snow white blossoms form a beautiful contrast, or rather combination with the azure blue of the Borage, (Borago officinalis) long since introduced from the mother country, an infusion or sailad of which, in olden times, was considered a sovereign remedy for a sorrowful heart. Hence old Gerard, in his “Herbal,” extols it thus:—
Bring alway courage.”
I may here remark, that like some other introduced plants, it has escaped from the gardens, and may now be seen, growing in profusion, on the bank, going from the beach up to Wade's Town. I have also scattered its seeds in the Upper Hutt Valley.
Nearly all the Tulips will be in flower, this year, until the first week of November, when the numerous species of Iris, Iria, Sparaxis, Tritonia, and other bulbs open their blossoms in rapid succession, and render this the most flowery month of the year.
Strawberries, in the Hutt, generally ripen on or about the 17th, but this year I expect they will be somewhat later with us.
The Anemonies pass out of flower, just as the sweet briar opens its buds. The white lily usually comes into blossom the last week in this month, together with the Iris Xyphium, the most beautiful of all the bulbous flags.
While writing this, 19th October, I observe that a row of hawthorns, planted in a hedge, will probaby come into flower, for the first time, early in November.
** From the settlements in the neighbourhood. Not a hui Maori.