Page images
PDF
EPUB

PREPARATIONS FOR THE SABBATH.

313

the natives wept, and trembled so much, when they first were admitted to the table of the Lord, that they could hardly lift the cup to their lips.

As all the people preferred hearing the missionaries preach, to hearing the natives, they came from a great distance to the chapels where missionaries preached. Therefore there was service no longer in the little chapels, which were suffered either to fall into decay, or used as school-houses. Many natives came and lived near the different stations of the brethren, and those who had lands at a distance, and could not live near them, assembled on Saturday afternoon in their canoes, and set up their tents on the beach.

It was delightful to see the people preparing their food on the Saturday, which was called “food-day,” in consequence. They lighted fires, at which they boiled their puddings of bananas, and bread-fruit, and cocoa-nut milk. Men might be seen coming from the stream with vessels of water in their hands, for washing their hands on the Sunday, and women with bundles of bread-tree leaves for plates. In each house little baskets of food were hung up, on the pegs of the great posts, and the best clothes were put out, ready to wear.

The natives spent Saturday evening in singing, reading, and praying in their houses.

314

THE SABBATH MORNING.

On the sabbath day no tree was climbed, and no fire was lighted : but the day was devoted to the care of the soul. At sunrise, the people prayed alone, as usual, either among the bushes, or in the little prayer-houses, or in some retired corner of their own. At seven they assembled in the chapel for prayer and reading, though the ministers did not come so early. From eight to nine the schools for boys and girls met in the school-houses. The natives themselves instructed the children in the knowledge of God, and heard them repeat their hymns and catechism.

At a quarter before nine, a sound was heard: sometimes it was the sound of a shell, that a man carried round the village, and blew like a trumpet; in other places it was the sound of a stone striking against a bar of iron hung on a tree, and in others, it was the sound of a little bell; but whatever was the kind of sound, the meaning was the same, “Come ye to the house of the Lord." Then the teachers led their classes to the chapel. The girls walked first, two and two, and hand in hand, most of them wearing frocks like English children, and bonnets made of platted grass or bark.

Each car ried in her hand a little basket, containing her hymn-book, catechism, and the scriptures. The boys came afterwards, dressed in native garments, a little mat of bark round their waists,

THE SABBATH EVENING.

315

and a little red or yellow shawl thrown over their shoulders, a hat of platted grass, and no shoes on their feet. Some of their parents were often watching to see the children pass by. Many a mother then blessed God, as she looked on her darling child, for sending the missionaries, who showed her the sin of burying it in the earth.

The children sat in their appointed places at chapel. The people were all ready before service began, for though they had scarcely any clocks or watches, they were obedient to the sound of the trumpet-shell.

At half-past ten, or eleven, service was over. The children walked back in order to their school-houses, and were then dismissed by their teachers. After dinner the children assembled in school again, but as it was very hot at that hour, each teacher often took a class to sit under the shade of some thick tree, and there asked them to repeat what they had heard of the morning sermon, and talked to them of a Saviour's love for little children.

Afternoon service began about four. By sunset the people were all returned to their dwellings, to spend the evening in reading, singing, and prayer. Sometimes a few families met together, and sometimes the father of each family taught his own children and servants.

In this manner the converted natives of the

316

UNGRATEFUL SPEECH.

South Seas passed their sabbaths: they called them“ a delight, honourable, and did honour God; not doing their own ways, nor finding their own pleasure, nor speaking their own words, but delighting themselves in the Lord.” Isaiah lviii. 13.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

1819.

THE NEW CUSTOMS OF TAHITI.

ALTHOUGH I have given so pleasing an account of the people of Tahiti, you must not suppose that all the people were converted in heart. It is to be feared that only a few were really born again, although the behaviour of most was changed. Sometimes, even those who, the missionaries hoped, were converted, grieved them by their conduct.

On the very day that a chief, named Upaparu had been baptized, he said to Mr. Bourne, in a proud manner, “What are you teaching us? Why do you not instruct us in English and other things besides religion ?"

This ungrateful speech hurt Mr. Bourne's feelings very much, but he did not make an angry reply.

UNWILLING GIVER.

317

In a few days, the chief came to him, and said, he had been reading the words of Christ, “ He that despiseth you, despiseth me,” and had been so troubled on account of his bad behaviour, that he had neither been able to eat nor sleep, till he had confessed his sin.

I have told you also that the people gave their property willingly to the Missionary Society: yet this was not always the case.

One day a man came to Pomare with five bamboos of oil, and said, angrily, “ Take them for your society.”

“No," said Pomare, “I will not mix your angry bamboos with the missionary oil; take them away.”

The man returned with his bamboos, much mortified at the disgrace of being refused, but I do not know whether he was sensible of his sin,

The preaching of the word was, however, often much blessed to the consciences of the people. Once Mr. Nott preached a sermon on the words, “ Let him that stole, steal no more.” In the sermon he said, it was a duty to return things, that had formerly been stolen.

The next morning when he opened his door, he saw a number of natives, sitting on the ground, around his dwelling. He was surprised to see them there so early, and asked them the reason of their coming. They replied, “We have not been able to sleep all night; we were at chapel

« PreviousContinue »