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in a vessel of water, which Mr. Barff or myself held by his side, and then holding his hand over the crown or forehead of the chief, while the water from his hand flowed or fell upon Mahine's head, Mr. Davies pronounced aloud, with distinctness and solemnity, Mahine e tapape du vau ia oe i te ioa o te Medua, e o te Tamaidi, e o te Varua maitai: "Mahine, I apply water to you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Repeating the same words, and applying the water in the same manner, to every individual, he proceeded to baptize the whole number, who kept their seats during the ceremony.
Mahine was not baptized first because he was the king of the island, but because he was one of the earliest converts, and had been most diligent in his attention, and consistent in deportment. We were careful to avoid giving any preference to rank and station, simply as such; and, on the present occasion, we beheld Hautia, the governor of the island, and others of high rank, sitting by the side of the humblest peasants of the land. In reference to civil or political station, we always inculcated the requirements of the gospel, that all should render honour to whom honour is due, invariably presenting a suitable example of the most respectful behaviour to individuals of rank or distinction. But in the church of God, and in the participation of the privileges of Christianity, we as invariably taught that all were brethren, that there was no precedence derived from worldly exaltation, that one only was our Lord and King, the Saviour himself. This principle we were happy to see recognized by themselves on this occasion, as some of the principal chiefs sat at the lowest end.
The word tapape, used in the first instance, was that which appeared the most suitable, as we were anxious to divest the rite of every thing extraordinary or mysterious. The signification of the word is to apply water, without expressing the precise mode of application. They have no word answering to the term baptize, as now understood in the English language, though they have distinct words for sprinkling, pouring, bathing, plunging, &c., but we considered the simple application of water to approach nearer to the original word baptisto, than either of these; and it seemed so appropriate, as to render it unnecessary to introduce any other. Subsequently, however, our opinions changed, and we adopted the original word, which in Tahitian, is written ba-pa-ti-zo, and used only to signify this sacred rite. We have thus left it as we found it, leaving the scripture to speak its own language, without limiting it to what we suppose its peculiar signification.
The water was not sprinkled on the face with force; the sign of the cross was not made, nor was water poured on the head from any vessel; but, taking one hand from the vessel containing the water, and holding it over the individual, we allowed so much water as was held in or attached to the hand, to fall upon the crown or forehead of the baptized, pronouncing, at the same time, the name, and the words prescribed in the Gospels.
Some difficulty was experienced with regard to the names, as many of the natives, especially the chiefs, have a number; some of office, others hereditary, and not a few intimately connected with their former idolatry, or its abominable institutions. It was not thought desirable that they should assume a new name on receiving baptism, or that
it should interfere with any name of office, station, or hereditary title, that might appertain unto them. But every blasphemous, idolatrous, or impure name, (and those of some of the Areois and priests were so to a most affecting degree,) we recommended should be discontinued, that they should select those names, by which, in future, they would wish to be designated. A few of the adults chose foreign, and in general scriptural names, for themselves or their children.
This produced a considerable change in their language. Formerly, all names were descriptive of some event or quality-as Fanauao, day-born, Fanaupo, night-born, Mataara, wakeful or brighteyed, Matamoe, sleepful or heavy-eyed, Paari, wise, or Matauore, fearless, &c. A number of terms were now introduced, as Adamu Adam, Noa Noah, Davida David, Ieremia Jeremiah, Hezekia Hezekiah, Iacoba James, Ioane John, Petero Peter, &c. with no other signification than being the names of the persons.
With regard to infants, we only baptized those whose parents, one or both, were themselves baptized, and who desired thus to dedicate their children to God, and engaged to train them in the principles of Christianity; and then we only baptized infants, unless the children of more advanced years understood the nature of the ordinance, and themselves desired to make, by this act, a public profession of their discipleship to Christ, and their wishes to be instructed in his word.
Sometimes the infant was held in the arms of its parent, who stood up while the rite was administered; at other times, and I believe invariably during subsequent years, we have taken the child in the left arm, and baptized it with the right
hand. Whenever any of our own children have been baptized, we have brought them to the chapel, and have performed the ceremony at the same time and in the same way as with the natives; that they might perceive that in this respect there was no difference between us.
The baptism of infants has certainly been among our most interesting religious exercises. It was generally performed after morning service on the Sabbath. We usually addressed a short and affectionate exhortation to the parents, enforcing their responsibility, and duty towards the dear children they were thus offering; not indeed as an innocent child was formerly offered in sacrifice to senseless idols, or to a cruel imaginary deity, but to be trained up in the nurture and admonition of that Divine Parent, who has said, "I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me."
I have been sometimes almost overwhelmed on beholding the intensity of mingled feeling, with which three or four smiling infants have been brought by their respective parents to the rustic baptismal font. I have fancied, in the strongly expressive countenances of the parents, the emotions of gratitude, and the ray of hope and anticipated joy in the future progress of the child, when it should exhibit the effects of that inward change, of which this was the outward sign.
In strong and distressing contrast with sensations of this hallowed and delightful kind, I have supposed the memory of far different acts, in which, as parents, many of them had been engaged, has remained; I have supposed that recollection has presented the winning look of conscious
innocence, which some dear babe has cast upor them, or the plaintive cry which from its lisping tongue first broke upon their ears, but which was unheeded, and they monstrously committed cool, inhuman murder-when they should have cherished the tenderest and softest sensibilities of the human bosom : I believe this has not been in my imagination only. The feeling depicted in the humane and Christian parent's countenance, suffused with tears, has often been an index of no common inward agitation. Subsequent conversation has confirmed the fact; and many have brought their children to present them unto God in baptism, who, while idolaters, had more than once or twice been guilty of the barbarous crime of infant murder. This practice is abolished; and, instead of shameless murder, or pagan sacrifice, the parents now delight to bring their infants to the Christian sanctuary, and thus dedicate them to God.
I have been often rather agreeably surprised at the anxiety of the parents to have their children baptized. Without inquiring into the origin of this solicitude, I believe it is not confined to the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, and is certainly not unpleasant to behold. I recollect at one time the parents of three children came with considerable earnestness, and requested me to baptize their infants, rather earlier than I thought it should be done. It was not at Huahine, and the Missionary, under whose care the station was more particularly placed, was absent; I therefore proposed to defer it till his arrival. They pressed me not to decline; and one of them stated as a reason, that her child had been ill, and she was afraid it would die before it had been baptized. "Suppose," I replied, "that it should, you know that