Images de page

is not yet among them that fine sense of decency, which is so powerful a safeguard to virtue; and, besides this, the circumstances of the families are far from being the most pleasing.

In only two of the islands is there more than one Missionary; and only at the Academy, where Mr. Blossom is associated with Mr. Orsmond, is there more than one family at a station. The duties of each settlement, from the partially organized state of society, and the multitude of objects demanding his attention, are such, that the Missionary cannot devote the necessary time to the education of his own children, without neglecting public duties; hence he experiences a constant and painful struggle between the dictates of parental affection and the claims of pastoral care. To afford relief, as far as possible, from this embarrassment, the South Sea Academy was established by the deputation from the Society, and the Missionaries in the islands, in March, 1824.

In compliance with the earnest recommendation of the deputation, and the solicitation of his brethren, Mr. Orsmond removed from Borabora, to take charge of the institution, over which he has continued to preside, to the satisfaction of the parents, and the benefit of the pupils. The first annual meeting was held in March, 1825; the children had not only been taught to read the scriptures, and to commit the most approved catechisms to memory, but had also been instructed in writing, grammar, history, &c. During the examination, portions of scripture were read and recited, copy-books examined, problems in geometry worked, and parts of catechisms on geography, astronomy, and chronology, repeated. The whole of the proceedings gave satisfaction to all

present, and left an impression on each mind, that great attention must have been paid by Mr. and Mrs. Orsmond to the pupils, during the short period they had been in the school. Subsequent examinations have been equally satisfactory.

The institution is under the management of a committee, and its primary design was to furnish a suitable, and, so far as circumstances would admit, a liberal education to the children of the Missionaries, "such an education as is calculated to prepare them to fill useful situations in future life." Native children of piety and talent have access to its advantages, and it is designed as preparatory to a seminary, for training native pastors to fill different stations in the South Sea Islands. It is an important institution, and will, it is hoped, exert no ordinary influence on the future character of the nation at large, as well as prove highly advantageous to the individuals who become its inmates. It merits the countenance of the friends of Missions. Several individuals have kindly enriched its library with suitable elementary books, philosophical apparatus, &c. but these are still very inadequate to the accomplishment of the design contemplated.

But while the establishment of this institution is a just occasion of gratitude to the Missionaries, it does not remove anxiety from their minds with regard to the future prospects of their families. The nature of their station, and the spirit and principles of their office as ministers of Christ, prevent the parents from making any provision for their families. The proper settlement of their children is an object of most anxious solicitude to Christian parents at home-to foreign Missionaries it is peculiarly so. Their remote and

isolated situation precludes their embracing those openings in Divine Providence for placing their children in suitable circumstances, of which they might avail themselves in Christian and civilized society. The prospects of filling comfortable stations there, are all uncertain; professions there are none; commerce is in its infancy, as will appear from the fact of its being still carried on by exchange or barter. The circulation of money is very limited, and its use known to but few.

The fondest hope of every Missionary is, that his children may grow up in the fear of God, be made partakers of his grace, and, under the constraining influence of the love of Christ in their hearts, imbibe their parent's spirit, select his office, spend their lives in supplying his lack of service, and carrying on that work which he has been honoured to commence. In prosecuting this, they will have advantages their parents never possessed; they will have been identified with the people among whom they labour, and will not appear in language and idiom as foreigners; but they will labour under more than counteracting disadvantages, if they never visit the land of their fathers, and must necessarily be far less efficient teachers of the truths of Christianity than their predecessors in the work.

There are a thousand things known to an indidual who has received or finished his education and passed his early days in England, which can only be known under corresponding circumstances, and which a Missionary can never, in such situations as the South Sea Islands, teach his child. Those born there may indeed have access to English literature; but many books, however familiar and perspicuous to an ordinary English

reader, will, in many perhaps important parts, appear enigmatical to those who have never seen any other society than such as that now under consideration. It has always appeared to me, in reference to an uncivilized, illiterate people, who are to be raised from ignorance, barbarism, and idolatry, to a state of intelligence, enjoyment, and piety-where their character, habits, taste, and opinions, have to be formed principally, if not entirely, by the Missionarythat for some generations, at least, every Missionary's child, trained for the Missionary work even by a father's hand, and blessed with the grace of God, ought to finish his education in the land of his parents, prior to entering upon the work to which his life is devoted.

Many a Missionary spends the greater part of his life without being able to produce any powerful or favourable impression upon the people among whom he has laboured; others expire in a field, on which they have bestowed fervent prayer, tears, and toil, but from which no fruit has been gathered; the second generation have to commence their labours under circumstances corresponding with those under which their predecessors began. When success attends their efforts, and a change takes place decisive and extensive as that which has occurred in the South Sea Islands; yet so mighty is the work, so deep the prejudices, so difficult to be overcome are evil habits, and so slow the process of improvement upon a broad scale, even under the most favourable circumstances, that the ordinary period of a Missionary's life in actual service, is too short to raise them from their wretchedness, to a standard in morals, habits, intelligence, and stability in religion, at which

those who were instrumental in originating their emancipation, would desire to leave them. They never can be expected to advance beyond those who are their models, their preceptors, and their guides; and if the successors of the first Missionaries be in any respect inferior to their predecessors, the progress of the nation must, in regard to improvement, be retrograde-unless this deficiency be supplied from some other source.

On this account, it does appear exceedingly desirable that the successors to the first Missionaries among an uncivilized people, who may even renounce idolatry, should be in every respect equally qualified for this office with those by whom they were preceded, and that even the children of the Missionaries should be able to carry on, to a greater degree of perfection, that work which their parents were privileged to commence.

I am aware that the expense attending a measure of this kind will probably prevent its adoption in those Institutions by whom the first Missionaries are sent out; but this does not render the measure less desirable or important in its immediate or remote and permanent influence upon the converted nations. The same difficulties occur with regard to the promotion of civilization, and the culture of the mechanic arts, among the barbarous nations. The primary design of all Missionary contributions is the communication of Christianity to the heathen; and it is to be regretted that the smallest portion of the pecuniary means furnished by Christian liberality for this purpose, should be appropriated to any other purpose than the direct promulgation of the gospel.

The difficulties already alluded to, connected with the Missionary stations, are not the only ones

« PrécédentContinuer »