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NUMEROUS GODS.

73

therefore they were extremely fond of lookingglasses, and when they could not get them, they would sit on the bank of a clear stream to dress their hair.

They bathed three times a day, and thus kept themselves very clean, and improved their health. They were continually going into the sea; many babies could swim before they could walk, so that there was no danger their being drowned, except when they were at a great distance from land. They always bathed in a stream after they had been in the sea, as they did not like the salt water as well as fresh.

of

IDOLS.

You already know that the Tahitians worshipped idols. Some were made of stone, but most were made of wood, or of a kind of string called cinnet. Some kinds of sharks and of birds were worshipped, and were not suffered to be killed. Altogether there were more than a hundred gods worshipped in Tahiti. The people thought that the spirit of the gods dwelt in the idols. As they fancied that they were as cruel and as covetous as themselves, they tried to please them by giving them things.

I will give you an instance of the manner in which they treated them. They kept live hogs and chickens in the maraes, and called

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MANNER OF SPEAKING TO IDOLS.

these animals sacred. Once a traveller wanted to buy some sacred fowls, as there were no others to be had. The priest of the marae at first did not like to sell them, but when he saw what nice looking-glasses and knives he could get for them, he went to the idol and said, “O my god, here are some beautiful things-knives, scissors, looking-glasses-perhaps I may sell some of the fowls belonging to us two for them; they will be good property for us two." He then waited a few moments, while he pretended he was listening to the god's answer; then he said that the god had consented; and some boys and dogs hunted the fowls, and caught them for the traveller.

They never thought that their gods would be angry at sin, but fancied they could always be coaxed and made to like those people who gave presents to them. When they prayed they used to kneel upon one knee, and to repeat their prayers in a sort of singing tone, saying something of this kind : “See, I have brought you pigs and fruit; so be kind to me, and do not let me be drowned; and let me conquer my enemies.”

How different is our God from their gods ! He cannot bear sin, and he cares for nothing we can give him. He never would have listened to our prayers, if Jesus had not borne the punishment of our sins: neither will he lis

HUMAN SACRIFICES.

75

ten to us now, unless we come before him in the name of Jesus, asking for mercy for his sake. Therefore David said, “I will wash my hands in innocency, and so will I compass thine altar, O God.” And John says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous : and he is the propitiation (or sacrifice) for our sins."

But the most horrible deed done in these temples was the offering up of human sacrifices. The people thought that Oro, the god of war, liked these better than any other; so, when they were going to do anything important, they used to kill men. Perhaps you will inquire what men they killed. When the priest wanted a human sacrifice, he generally sent word to the king; and then the king sent a small stone to one of his chiefs, as a sign that he must procure one.

If the chief kept the stone, the king knew that he would do as he wished. And whom did the chief fix on as a sacrifice? Sometimes on the guest who was eating beneath his roof. In one moment the unfortunate man was killed by a blow on the head, and carried to the temple in a basket of cocoa-nut leaves. Before he was offered

up

to the god, the priest scooped out one of his eyes, and placing the eye in a leaf, offered it to the king, who opened his mouth, as if he were going to eat it, and then returned it to the priest.

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TERRORS OF THE NATIVES.

The body was afterwards hung upon a tree near the temple; when the flesh was quite consumed, the bones were buried in the sacred court, which was a sort of Golgotha, a place of a skull, and most horrible in the eyes of our holy God.

If one man of a family had been offered up, the other men in it were in great danger of sharing his fate : for the people of the same family were usually chosen until the whole was destroyed.

When at midnight the sacred drum was beaten, as a sign that a human sacrifice was required, many poor creatures would escape to the mountains, and hide themselves in the dens and caves of the earth.

It is not surprising that some men quite forsook the company of their cruel fellow-creatures, wandered alone among the mountains, and became almost as fierce and as senseless as the beasts of the forest.

Death was very terrible to the Tahitians, for they had no bright hopes beyond the grave. They thought that at death their spirits went to their cruel gods, who ate them three times over, and that afterwards their spirits went into the body of a beast or bird, or man, and lived upon the earth again.

Sometimes poor creatures, when they have been dying, have looked towards the end of the

LAMENTATIONS FOR THE DEAD.

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mat on which they have been lying, and have cried out, “ Othere are the spirits waiting for my spirit-o guard my spirit when it leaves my body–O preserve it from them !"

How different were these cries from those of some dying christian children in England, who have exclaimed with sweet smiles, “I see the angels coming to fetch me; O Lord Jesus, I come, I come !"

After a man was dead, his friends used to begin to cut themselves with sharks' teeth till they were covered with blood, and sometimes even to fight together with clubs and stones for two or three days, till some were killed. It was dreadful to behold one of these fights, and to hear the furious howlings of those who fought.

When a Christian loses his pious relations, he can sing,

Why do we mourn departing friends,

Or shake at death’s alarms ?
'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends

To call them to his arms.

CHARACTER OF THE TAHITIANS.

You have already heard enough of the people to perceive that they were liars, covetous, thieves, and murderers.

They were indeed pleasant in their manners,

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