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The following refers to the labours of Christian teachers on the Island of Vate:—
"They have also been the means of saving the lives of infants which heathen custom was wont to bury alive. One child was actually buried, and dug up again by its parents, and is now alive. Three aged women would have been buried alive, Dut for the remonstrances of the teachers. This custom is awfully prevalent here. It is even considered a disgrace to the family of an aged chief if he is not buried alive. And when the poor old heathen feels sick and infirm, he will tell those around to bury him. The grave is then dug, and the old man's •tying groans are drowned amid the weeping and wailing of his family and friends."—pp. 241, 242.
The following painful statement shews the peril which attends the attempts made to evangelize these savages. In 1853, two Christian teachers, with their wives, from Samoa, were left at this same Island of Vate, where the natives gave them an enthusiastic reception. In October, 1854, the Island was visited by Messrs. Hardie and Sunderland, who
"Were horrified to find, that the teachers and their wives, who had been so recently left in such promising circumstances, had all been murdered, and devoured by the wretched people who had welcomed them with every demonstration of cordiality and joy. A more striking and painful illustration of the extreme fickleness of man can scarcely be conceived. Only nineteen days intervened between the landing of the teachers, and their murder. One of the teachers had a son, a little boy, who also shared the fate of the parents. Thus the whole party, five in number, were cut off."—p. 256.
Our readers will probably think these extracts afford sufficient testimony to the character of these savages. What must have been the strength of those principles which impelled Christian missionaries from Europe, and the Christian natives of other islands, who well knew the perils to which the undertaking exposed them, to attempt to introduce the Gospel among them? Mr. Murray's volume is principally occupied with the narrative of the successive efforts to accomplish this object. It was on the 19th of November, 1839, that John Williams commenced the work, by placing Christian teachers on the Island of Tanna. On the following day, he proceeded on a similar mission to Eramanga, and was there suddenly called to lay down his life. But this sad event did not discourage his brethren, who still sought to carry out his design, nor does it appear that there ever was any difficulty in finding Christian natives to occupy the post of danger. Thus, when in 1858, Messrs. StaUworthy, of Samoa, and Gill, of Earatonga, visited these islands, and were approaching Vate, where the teachers and their wives had been murdered and eaten, they called a meeting of the Raratonga teachers they had on board,—
"And asked them if they had any desire to be stationed on Vate. Several of them replied that that was the land of their choice. After getting the news from the snore, we again consulted with them, and it was agreed that three of them should be landed, namely: Tcamaru, Tcantou, and Toma. We committed them by prayer to God; their supplies were lowered into the boats, and we accompanied them to the shore with their wives and children."—p. 259.
A very natural enquiry will present itself to the mind: what has been the result of these efforts to introduce the Gospel amongst the islands constituting the New Hebrides group? Here a fact meets us well worthy of observation,—the work of evangelisation has been carried on, not by European missionaries, but by Christian teachers from Raratonga, and the Samoan group. Visits have been paid occasionally by the former, and, in some oases, a missionary Las been located with tho teachers; bat, in some
cases, these native teachers have been left to their own resources, and, in all,
the work has mainly rested upon them. Our space will not allow us to go into
detail as to the success with which it has pleased God to bless these labours.
The volume itself must be perused, and it will be found filled with motives
for the grateful exclamation, " what hath God wrought I"
We cannot, however, refrain from giving somo extracts. The following
refers to the Mand of Mare. Two Samoan teachers were located there on
the 9th April, 1841, but it was somo years before success attended their
labours. Mr. Murray, with a brother missionary, the Rev. J. P. Sunderland,
visited the island in 1852; reaching it on Saturday, June 5th, and spending
tho Sabbath at Waeko, one of tho stations,—
"We went on shore at the very spot where eleven years before we landed the teachers. What a change since then! Instead of a rude, disorderly rabbi? of naked savages, we found a company of people—six or seven hundred—all seated in a circle; all more or less clothed; all quiet, mild, and kind. We proceeded to the chapel. The scone there, and the emotions to which it gave rise, baffle description. The chapel is 72 feet long, and 24 broad. It was densely crowded with evidently deeply interested worshippers. There is a Sabbath school at noon, attended by about 200, who apply themselves to learning to read with the utmost vigour. Another general service is held in tho afternoon. There are 31 good readers, 200 members of a select Bible class, and 51 candidates for baptism, and the Lord's supper. The state of things at Guahma, one other station on this island, is rather in advance of what it is here. Guahma is the principal station. It is tho centre whence the astonishing movement now in progress took its rise. There is a chapel there 120 feet by 30, which the teachers say is filled every Sabbath."—pp. 805, 806.
It should be observed that although the number of native teachers had been increased to 4, yet they had only the very occasional visits of European missionaries, and it was not until 1854, thirteen years after the commencement of the mission, that the desires of the people were realized by the residence among them of Messrs. Jones and Creagh. The last visit of the " John Williams" to the island was in 1800, when it appeared that about 4,000 peoplo on the other side of the island still cleave obstinately to their heathenism, but that all in the districts occupied by the missionaries, amounting to 3,000, were professing Christians. The church members amounted to 234, and 240 were candidates for church fellowship.
The perusal of this most interesting narrative will draw forth feelings of gratitude to God, for the blessing which has been bestowed on the labours of Ids servants in these islands of tho seas, and will lead to earnest prayer, that similar tokens of the divine favour may rest on all portions of the mission field. We therefore trust that it may be largely read.
Little CnowKs, And How To Win Them. By the Rev. Joseph CoHier
London: James Nisbct tt Co. pp. 160.
This little volumo contains nine short sermons preached at a childrens service, held in Mr. Collier's own church, and which are printed, because he hoped that ho might thus preach them to a still larger congregation. They are well adapted to interest the young, and to suggest the suitable manner of addressing young persons. The style in which the book is got
up, and its pictorial illustrations render it a most appropriate gift book. We regret that some expressions in page 97 will render it objectionable to those who think infant baptism unscriptural; and for the general usefulness of the work it would be desirable they should be omitted. It is a reprint from America, and it would be well that the allusions which would be interesting and intelligible to American children, should bo changed for others more familiar to the little ones of our own country. It rather amused us to find an American preacher making kings and crowns so prominent. The illustration harmonizes very well with our ideas, but does not seem so suitable in a republic. In page 65 there is a misprint, "we are all" instead of "are we all," which entirely alters the sense, and should therefore be altered in another edition. We have mentioned these defects because the book is one which deserves to have every imperfection which might hinder its usefulness removed.
A Trap To Catch A Sunbeam. By the Author of Old Jolliffe. London: Lockwood d Co.
This is a cheap edition of a well known and interesting little work. It is sold only in packets of twelve at Is. Gd.; and if any of our readers have not read the tale, we recommend them to buy a packet, and after their own curiosity is satisfied, to circulate the copies amongst their neighbours, none of whom will be the worse for the perusal.
GLEANINGS AMONG THE SHEAVES; OR Handfuls LET FALL ON PURPOSE FOR
The Poor. By the Rev. Jonah Viney. London: Book Society, pp. llo.
The object of this little work is to furnish a short, pleasant, and useful reading for the Sabbath afternoon. It is intended for the working classes, and aims to improve passing circumstances, and to portray Scripture scenes. We shall rejoico at its finding its way largely into the families which it is especially designed to interest and instruct. We select the following passage from the article on maternal influence, entitled "My Mother":—
"Only let your life correspond with your prayers. Artless, but very beautiful, was the answer of a Sunday school child to his teacher, who, when the class was asked, in illustration of human depravity, 'if they knew any one who was uhcayt good,' promptly replied,' Yes, Sir, I know one—my mother.'"
Oub Villaoe Gibls. By Hetty Bowman. London: The Book Society, pp. 104.
This is an account of some of the members of Miss Weston's " Grown tip Class" in the Sunday school. It may afford useful hints to those who have the charge of similar classes, and is a very suitable book to put into the hands of young women in our senior and adult classes.
Dear Sib,—As you have kindly given insertion to the expression of my convictions upon the suhject of Sunday school treats, I am emholdened to trouble you with a few remarks upon "C. B.'s" letter respecting anniversary and other public services in connexion with our Sunday schools.
In my former letter the-true aim of the teacher was incidentally set forth as being nothing less than the leading of children to the Saviour in their earliest years. I have no fear whatever of being contradicted on this point, and shall therefore proceed, without devoting any words to its demonstration.
To settle the question of the utility of anniversary services, it is only necessary to apply this test: do they directly or indirectly tend to the realization of our aim?
To me it seems quite impossible that they should do so. What are the facts respecting them? The following are two: that in many cases the direct work of the school is to a greater or less degree set aside in favour of the getting up of tunes or of recitations for the annual display; and that in the effort to remember words and tunes, the constant repetition takes away all thought, and the whole proceeding becomes lifeless and mechanical, so that through the hymns sung, and the pieces learnt, there is no likolihood even of an indirect influence for good resulting.
It may be said that these displays are necessary to rouse the attention of outsiders to the work, and to induce in them sufficient liberality to secure a supply of funds for the purposes of tho school; I believe that many, who would scarcely admit it to themselves, look upon anniversary services in this light.
But I would say to them, trust less to man and more to God for your support. He will take care that a quiet, earnest work for His glory shall not fail for lack of means. The assistance of people who require the excitement of special services to make them help you, is, even in the form of money, of little worth, and it will be nobler for you not to stay your labours in the least degree in order to secure it; time is precious; we cannot spare it for the thankless work of soliciting their gifts.
An appeal may be made to the worth of the sermons preached upon these occasions; to the people these may be of worth, but as regards the scholars they are generally thrown away. They are never intended for the children, bnt for the special congregation the services are supposed to draw together.
So far, then, they are worthless, but injurious only in the sense that they take up the time which would be used in positive instruction resulting in spiritual good. But when these anniversaries are characterized by competitions in recitation, singing, &c., they become productive of evil in the way "C. B." has shewn.
I am not sure, however, that he has not exaggerated their ill effects, as emulation, while it may often cause serious harm, is a principle of our nature, and wisely guided may be made as powerful for good. It is necessary to bear in mind the real nature of children; like ourselves, they are not, and cannot be, wholly influenced by pure ethereal motives. We must open our eyes to look at facts, not shut them, and meditate, admire, and guide ourselves by theories, however beautiful. Would " C. B." state that the hope of escaping hell and reaching heaven had no place in his religious motives? That is unquestionablyji selfish motive, but it may lead, and does often lead, as no doubt it has done in "C. B." himself, to motives of a higher, holier character.
I do not see that competition can be nseful in any way in leading to something better, though as I have before intimated, I believe the danger to be apprehended from it is considerably overestimated. But as to the giving of prizes, which also comes in for "C. B.'s " condemnation, that is a proceeding with which I cordially agree. To illustrate my feelings upon this question, I will suppose a case, somewhat extreme, but nevertheless not so extreme as to be inapplicable.
An untaught child comes to the Sunday school, not from any love of learning, but from curiosity; not having been taught, it cannot act from the highest motives there; you must instil those highest motives—but how is it to be done? The child will not act properly, listen attentively, nor receive earnestly; it has not beeu accustomed to these things, it knows but little of their propriety. Restless, inattentive, careless, as it naturally is, if by the prospect of a prize it can be induced to subdue in some measure these inclinations, whicli stand in the way of its tuition, an indirect good, as clearing the way for direct and spiritual influences to he brought to bear upon it, will be secured. In this case the end justifies the means, as surely no one will hold that the means, the reward system, is evil in itself.
The operation of low, though not improper, motives, is thus made to secure the opportunity for the teaching of higher motives, and therefore such lower motives ought to be received and used gladly, instead of being condemned because they are not of the highest character. In this way the giving of prizes acts, and therefore I defend it.
Sib,—A hand-bill, containing an advertisement and explanation of the Mimpriss System of Instruction, was given to me a few days ago, and as, in addition to a recommendation of Mr. Mimpriss's publications, it contains some incorrect statements with reference to those of the Sunday School Union, it appears desirable to call attention to and correct observations which are calculated to convey a very erroneous impression as to the cost of the Society's Publications.
The hand-bill in question, affirms that "The fifty-two lessons for the year, issued by the London Sunday School Union, 56, Old Bailey, are Id. per quarter or £1. 12s. per annum, for 100 children;— the Monthly Notes for Teachers, Id. each, or for ten teachers, 10s. per annum, £2. 2s., less 25 percent, discount — nett £1. lis. 6d. per annum. Mimpriss's fifty-two lessons for 100 scholars are 18s.; ten Manuals for the Teachers at 6d. each, 5s., £1. 3s.; less 25 per cent, discount, 17s. 3d."
The cost for lessons for 100 children for one year is thus given as £1 lis. 6d. against 17s. 3d.
Singularly enough, however, we are further informed that the cost of Mimpriss's apparatus "for 200 children for two years" would be £6. 10s. 5d., "not more in extra costliness than 2s. 1 Jd. per annum for that supplied by the London Sunday School Union." This intimation naturally excites curiosity as to whether the cost would be increased in proportion, if the system should survive for four consecutive years in any Sunday school; but without pressing this enquiry too closely, I would remark on the foregoing Btate ments:—
Firstly. That the Scripture lessons for elementary classes, published by the Sunday School Union, contain 104 lessonB, not 52 only; and that consequently the question of price assumes a very different appearance.