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Extracts from the Report of the Directors of the Missionary Society, to their eleventh General Meeting, held in London, on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of May,
In the course of the last year, we have received the journals of the missionaries at Otaheite, from October, 1802, to April, 1803. The civil war in that island, which had placed our brethren in a critical situation, having been happily brought to a close, they were enabled to pursue the object of their mission without any molestation. The brethren Jefferson and Nott, afterwards the brethren Bicknell and Wilson, made a preaching tour through different parts of the island, and published the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ to the natives, some of whom gave them an attentive hearing, but the greater part treated their message with levity and disregard. The brethren first mentioned had an opportunity, in the course of their journey, to address nearly four thousand adult persons, which is probably more than half the total inhabitants of the island, for by the ravages of war and disease, the missionaries had reason to conclude that the inhabitants are reduced to the number of six or seven thousand souls. Their increased acquaintance with the people has discovered a dreadful degree of moral turpitude, generally prevailing among them, which has, no doubt, been much aggravated by the intercourse of wicked Europeans among them. Their principal desire has been by every means in their power to procure firearms and ammunition, which they employ every opportunity that occurs for accumulating; a circumstance by no means favourable to the missionaries, who, however, consoled themselves with this glorious truth, that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."*
The missionaries express their deep regret that human sacrifices were still frequently offered by the chief, to render his god propitious; and that the cruel practice of murdering infants was also continued, which, with the causes before assigned, contributed to the speedy depopulation of the country.
An event took place on the 3d of September, 1803, the consequences of which the missionaries were unable to foresee. The Dart, an English brig, employed in the seal-skin trade, touched at the island, in consequence of some disappointment in the object of her voyage; by which circumstance, our brethren received a small supply of necessary articles. When the Dart was about to leave the island, and was plying in and out of the bay, waiting for some provision which had been promised, the chief (Pomarre, father of the reigning prince Otoo) was proceeding in a canoe to the vessel with two of his people, but being suddenly attacked by a violent pain, he dropped the paddle from his hand, fell down on his face in the canoe, and never uttered another word. The canoe returned to the shore, and Pomarre shortly expired.
This chief having long been the powerful friend and protector of our missionary brethren, it was natural for them to feel some apprehensions on his sudden removal. They therefore prudently requested the captain of the Dart to defer his sailing till the next day, that they might have an opportunity of ascertaining whether they might indulge the hope of continued safety under the successors of Pomarre. The result of such inquiries as a few hours admitted of their making, was, "they trusted they might rely on the assurances of Otoo and Edea, that they should remain unmolested in the exercise of their mission, whatever changes might take place in the government." The missionaries appear to have been generally treated with civility, and sometimes with kindness, in the tours they made; and, though the greater part of the persons who heard them preach the gospel, were
The directors enjoyed the satisfaction of conversing with a gentleman who had resided some months on the island, and whose account of the state of things there, corresponded with the journals and letters of our missionaries. He confirmed the information above mentioned, concerning the avidity with which the natives procured fire arms, and said he believed they might possess about 120 VOL. II. M
musquets. He observed that the missionaries seemed to be satisfied as to their own personal safety, and thought there was no occasion for their friends to entertain any painful apprehensions concerning them.
careless and inattentive, yet a few listened with becoming regard, asked questions, and wished for further information. "On the whole," says our brethren, "although we can give no flattering hopes of the success of the gospel, yet we believe the means are not used in vain. The names of Jehovah, and Jesus Christ, are universally known, and several truths respecting them; and, as God has appointed the preaching of the word for the salvation of sinners, we hope in due time, that blessed end will be answered in Otaheite."
The directors regret that they have received no communications from Otaheite, of a later date than September 3, 1803; and it was no small addition to their concern, to be informed by the Rev. Mr. Marsden, of Port Jackson, in New South Wales, in a letter dated 10th August, 1804, that the supplies requested by the missionaries and sent out in the ships Albion and Cato in 1802, and which had been forwarded by the Alexander, captain Rhodes, had not been landed at Otaheite; for the captain, hearing of the renew al of the war with France, relinquished his design of going to Otaheite, and after having been at sea some months, returned to Port Jackson; in consequence of which, the goods were re-landed, and were found to be much damaged. A further supply of necessary and useful articles for the mission was sent out in November last, by the Argo, captain Baden, but of their arrival at New South Wales, in order to their conveyance to Otaheite, the directors have not yet been informed.
When the state of this mission was maturely considered at a special meeting of the directors, September 24, 1804, it was unanimously resolved, "That a competent supply of necessaries and conveniences for the missionaries be annually provided, and forwarded to Otaheite, either by a direct conveyance, or through the medium of the Rev. Mr. Marsden, New South Wales; and also, that a credit to the amount of 3007. be lodged with him, to be applied discretionally by him to such exigencies as may occasionally occur.' In pursuance of the former resolution, the supply last mentioned was
The directors feel a painful concern for their brethren at Otaheite, whose patient continuance in well-doing, amidst so many dangers and discouragements, entitles them to every exertion in their behalf that can with propriety be made. It is much to be regretted, that the
means of intercourse with them are so rare and so difficult; nor can the direc tors conceive of any practicable mode of communication, but by encouraging some mercantile persons in New South Wales, by a suitable bounty, to fit out a vessel from thence, to be employed in the sealskin trade, or some other commercial engagement suited to the country, and who may thus be induced to visit Otaheite, and convey to them the needful supplies, and thus open a channel of communication with the society, provided that the missionaries find it their duty to persist in their labours on that island, or to make an attempt to evangelize some other of the Society Islands. This important measure is now under the most serious consideration.
[To be continued.]
British and Foreign Bible Society. Extracts from the Appendix to the Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
THE first is an extract of a letter from the Rev. Dr. Dalrymple, one of the ministers of Ayr.
"I give you joy, and would take some small share of it myself, that we have lived to the day of a British and Foreign Bible Society. In the 82d year of my age, and 59th of r f my ministry; next to both deaf and blind; it is little that I can do in an active way to assist in so glorious a design: but that little shall not be wanting. This evening I intend to overture our synod for a collection, after the good example of the presbytery of Glasgow, and I hope to succeed." (p. 34.)
Mr. Kiesling a respectable merchant in Nuremberg thus writes.
"Your letter afforded me such joy that I could not contain myself, but im mediately went to the Rev. John Godfried Schoener, one of the most respectable ministers of our city, in order to communicate to him the joyful news from a far country. He was no less affected than myself; and we agreed to appoint a meeting of christians friends on Ascension-day, at which we unanimously resolved to unite for the formation of a Bible Society, and by a printed letter, to invite our christian friends throughout Germany and Switzerland, to assist us in so noble an undertaking.
"When sometimes I am privileged to give away a Bible or New Testament, father and mother, son and daughter, are running after me, thanking me a hundred, and a thousand times, kissing my hand and my coat, shedding tears of
joy, and loudly exclaiming; May God bless you may the Lord Jesus bless you in time and to all eternity.' Really I felt sometimes a foretaste of heavenly joy, so that I could not sufficiently bless God, for having entrusted me with the honourable commission of steward of the kind benefactions of others. But the more I disperse, the more the petitions both of ministers and schoolmasters increase, not only from Austria, but likewise from Stiria, Carinthia, and Hungary, insomuch, that I am afraid to present their petitions." (p. 36.)
The address circulated by the Nuremberg Bible Society throughout Germany closes with the following appeal.
"We confidently hope for the success of our undertaking. If in England, according to the latest accounts, even hard working artisans have contributed their mite towards the support of the Bible Society, can we suppose that less zeal for the good cause will be displayed by our German and Swiss reverers of the sacred writings?
"The inherent value of the book, the religious wants of the people, the critical circumstances of the times, the present tranquillity of the States; all these, be sides many other urgent reasons, loudly call for attention to this important undertaking.
"O ye, who know and revere the Bible, which yet remains the Bible of all religious parties, lend your aid in promoting it. Ye, who, on the brink of the grave, can dispose of your property at pleasure, think on the words of the just Judge of the world, I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. If the blessing be already so great for him who ministers to the bodily wants of his fellow creatures, how much greater will it be for those, who, constrained by the love of Christ, provide for satisfying the hungry after the living word of God, and lead thirsty souls to the pure wells of salvation!" (p. 41.)
From the letter of a Roman catholic priest, in Swabia, we gladly extract a few passages.
"I had the pleasure to learn, from a copy of your letter, addressed by Mr. Tobias Kiesling, of Nuremberg, the great number of zealous friends of the Bible in London, who are filled with a noble desire to send out the pure word of God, as the best preacher, into the world. This account excited in my breast the most heart-felt joy and gratitude towards that God, who is the only Giver of every good and perfect gift; but I felt also
lively emotions of unfeigned love and affection for you, and for all the members of that venerable Bible Society, for whom I wish a thousand blessings. May the Lord Jesus, through whom all blessings are communicated to us, be the beginning and end of their praiseworthy undertaking! and may his name be glorified for it to all eternity!
"What particularly induced me to write, was your question, whether the Bible was still prohibited to the catholics? Being convinced thereby, that you was mindful even of the poor catholics I was particularly moved and edified; for indeed, nothing is more affecting than that love which embraces all, without the least distinction; "for God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." I felt myself, therefore, constrained to thank you, in the name of all honest and well disposed catholics, for these your fraternal sentiments.
"In answer to your question, I observe, properly speaking, the Bible has never been prohibited to the catholics. The council of Trent only states, Indiscri minata lectio Sacræ Scripturæ interdicta est. Well informed catholics took this always in that sense only: that not all books of the Bible, promiscuously, should be put into the hands of the common people, refering chiefly to some books of the Old Testament. Besides, this prohibition of the council of Trent has never been admitted as binding by the whole body of the Roman catholic clergy in Germany; but so much is true, that all blind bigots of our church have always spread the opinion, that it was entirely forbidden for all laymen to read the Bible; and this prejudice, is, alas! still deeply prevalent among the greater part of the people. There are, however, at present, many of our clergymen, both in Swabia and Bavaria, who strongly recommended the reading of the Bible, chiefly of the New Testament; and do every thing in their power to promote it. I have, for my own part, distributed many New Testaments, and some Bibles, among better enlightened catholics; and several of my dear brethren in Christ do the same. We are, however, not able to satisfy all the demands for Bibles.” (p. 43, 44.)
"I am sure we could dispose of a good number of Bibles and New Testaments. The people seem to get more and more desirous of the Bible; and the number of clergymen is increasing, who not only would tolerate but commend the reading of it.
"I feel a very great desire to witness
the formation of a similar Bible Society amongst the Roman catholics; & indeed, I will make some attempts, though I foresee many difficulties; and can hardly suppose that so many active and benevolent friends of the Bible are to be found amongst the Roman catholics, as would be requisite for such an undertaking. Your question, however, respecting the catholics, inspires me with the hope, that your society is desirous to extend its beneficial influence likewise to the catholics, wishing only to know, whether a dispersion of Bibles amongst them would be practicable: and, indeed, it would not only be practicable, but desirable in the highest degree.” (p. 44.)
"I cannot express, in terms sufficiently strong, the fervency of my joy, and love towards all who, throughout England, heartily believe in Jesus Christ as their only Saviour, and zealously endeavour to extend the Redeemer's kingdom. I embrace them all as the beloved and elect of God, as friends and brethren in Christ, let them be of whatever name, or belonging to whatever church or denomination. The more distant the countries, and the more different the outward forms and establishments are, the more I rejoice, if I am privileged to hear, that our ever-faithful Lord and Saviour is gathering from amongst them a flock of believing people. Truly, God has a numerous Army of Reserve in England, who do not bow before the Baal of the age, nor sacrifice to the god of the times. Let all who know his name, glorify him for this mercy! May the peace of God, and the all-sufficient grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!" (p. 45.)
We add one more extract. It is taken from a letter dated in North Wales, Feb. 22, 1805.
"There are none of our poor people willing to live and die without contributing their mites towards forwarding so glorious a design. Their zeal and eager. ness in the good cause, surpasses every thing I have ever before witnessed. On
several occasions we have been obliged to check their liberality, and take half what they offered, and what we thought they ought to give. In very many instances, servants have given one-third of their wages for the year. In one instance, a poor servant-maid put down one guinea on the plate, being one-third of her wages: that it might not be perceived what she put down, she covered the guinea with a halfpenny. One little boy had with much trouble, reared a brood of chickens; when the collection came to be made, he sold them all, and gave every farthing he got for them towards it; and this was his whole stock, and all the living that he had. Innumerable instances of a similar nature might be mentioned. Great joy prevails universally at the thought that poor heathens are likely soon to be in possession of a Bible; and you will never hear a prayer put up, without a petition for the Bible Society and heathen nations." (p. 60.)
MEMOIRS OF MRS. HANNAH HODGE.
[Concluded from page 46.]
IN 1745, as nearly as can be ascertained, the subject of this narrative was married to Mr. Hugh Hodge. He too was one to whom the labours of Mr. White. field had been remarkably blest; and
was chosen one of the first deacons of the church which, as we have already scen, was formed by an association of the particular friends and adherents of that eminent preacher. Mr. Hodge "used the office of a deacon well;" sustaining it with great fidelity and reputation to
the day of his death. On his side, as well as on that of his wife, a regard to religious comfort and improvement had a governing influence in the choice which they made of each other as partners for life; and experience fully demonstrated, that on both sides a wise and happy choice had been formed. Seldom has religion appeared to more advantage in the conjugal relation, than in that which subsisted between Mr. and Mrs. Hodge. For nearly forty years they were emphatically helps-mete" to each other in christian duty, and in their journey to the heavenly rest. "They walked before the Lord in all his ordinances and commandments," with a blamelessness of which the examples are rare.
Coming together with a very small portion of worldly property between them, they had to provide for their subsistence by their own efforts. These efforts were mutual, strenuous, and constant; and by the smiles of Providence, such was their success in business, that they were able not only to live in a comfortable and reputable manner; but to show a most amiable example of hospitality, to perform numerous acts of charity and liberality, to be among the foremost in the support of the gospel, and, after all, to remain possessed of a handsome capital.
This pious couple had two children, son and a daughter. The daughter died in infancy; but the son lived to grow up, to receive a liberal education, to study physic, and to give promise of future usefulness to the world, and of comfort to his parents. But these expectations were soon blasted. During the revolutionary war, he went to sea, on a voyage of enterprize, with a number of other promising youth of the city of Philadelphia, and no certain information was ever received afterwards, either of them, or the vessel in which they sailed. The probability is that all were buried together in the bosom of the ocean. The anxiety which Mr. and Mrs. Hodge experienced through a long period of time, during which there was some hope that their son might be alive, and the grief which they suffered when they were at last obliged to consider it as a melancholy fact that their only child was no more, can better be supposed than described. It is of more importance to remark, that their distress, great as it was, never sunk them into dejection or despondence, never brought from them any unavailing or unchristian complaints, but was borne with a resignation truly christian, and a fortitude truly exemplary. Mrs. Hodge, who had
both hopes and fears, in regard to the real piety of her son, told the writer of these memoirs that she had passed many an hour in musing on what was probably his eternal state. " After all," said she, "it must be left entirely with a sovereign and holy God; but I may, must, and do hope, if I get to heaven, to find him there."
The death of her daughter, who was her first child, she has been heard to affirm, gave her very little disturbance. "I had been married eleven years," said she to an intimate friend," and had no child. Nor was I very anxious on the subject, till on a certain occasion, I was much interested in seeing an infant devoted to God in baptism, in our church. I was then forcibly struck with the thought, that a christian parent possesses an unspeakable privilege, who gives birth to an immortal being, and is permitted to give it away to God, in this his instituted ordinance. On the spot I fervently prayed for this privilege, if it should be consistent with God's will to grant it; and I solemnly vowed that if it should be granted, I would, by his grace assisting me, unreservedly devote to him the child which he should give me. My prayer was answered, my vow was performed, and my child was taken to God, all within a year."
During the life of deacon Hodge, his house was constantly open for the reception of all evangelical clergymen who visited the city. The cordial welcome which always met them there, and the pleasure which they both gave and received, made them love to resort to this happy dwelling. To many of them it was, for several years, a home, to which they went with as much freedom as they would have felt in going to a house of their own. Such, indeed, was the deep interest which both Mr. and Mrs. Hodge took in every thing that related to the church, such their eminent piety, and such the influence of their opinion upon others, that their sentiments on many interesting subjects, were asked by their clerical visitors, and are well known to have had weight in several important public concerns.
The house of deacon Hodge was also remarkable as a place in which religious associations, and assemblies of various kinds, were frequently held. Pious conferences, prayer meetings, and the exhortations of the ministers of the gospel to as many as the house and yard could contain, were here always welcome, often witnessed, and in many instances eminently blessed.