« PrécédentContinuer »
ILLUSTRATIVE AND ORNAMENTAL WOOD ENGRAVINGS,
DIFFUSION OF USEFUL KNOWLEDGE,
MORAL AND RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES.
SIXTEEN LARGE OCTAVO PAGES, WEEKLY.
EDITED BY THEODORE DWIGHT.
AUTHOR OF A TOUR IN ITALY, THE FATHER'S BOOK, NORTHERN TRAVELLER,
No. 112 BROADWAY.
THE NATIVES OF RAROTONGA,
This scene is described with much force by some of the spectators; and extracts from similar accounts will be found below.
To an intelligent mind, and especially to a sensitive Christian heart, the spectacle, so well represented by a skillful artist, is replete with interesting and affecting considera ons. How can a human being, a member of that race which was created " in the image of God," a brother of our own family, have been sunk so low in knowl ledge, judgment and taste, so like to "the
brutes which perish," to "the horse and the mule, which have no understanding," so far below "the ox which knoweth his owner," as to adopt a block of wood as an object of adoration instead of our common Father and Creator, benefactor and proprietor, the Lord God Almighty, the source and centre of all love and perfection?
Yet the melancholy fact is before us; and here is presented to our view sad evidence of the truth, that, although in all ages "the heavens declare the glory of
God," and all are without excuse who say there is no God, "yet the human race have generally chosen "not to re ain God in their knowledge," and have been "given. over to a reprobate mind, changing the truth of God into a lie, and worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator."
We have before spoken at some length of the obligations under which the Protestant missionaries of modern days have laid us all, by the accurate and well-timed information they have collected and furnished us with, in different departments of knowl edge. We owe them still more, however, for the important moral lessons they have taught us, by displaying to our view the effects of heathenism, and the triumphs of Gospel truth faithfully preached and exhibited in practice. Their labors and sacrifices have in this way produced great good upon many of those whom they have left behind, scarcely less perhaps than those conferred on the objects of their benevol
The contrast between the moral state of the Sandwich, Friendly and other Islands in the Pacific, and the sublime or beautiful scenery, the benignant climate and the luxuriant vegetation, was of a melancholy nature. Many superficial persons have imagined idolatry to be harmless, and not a few writers have praised some of its features, as humane and refining. The nearer and more accurate views, which our missionaries have enabled us to take of it, in its various forms, have discountenanced such groundless representations, and given us reason to contemplate false religions with horror, and their unhappy victims with the deepest compassion.
Idolatry is a religion of forms, and therefore, from its very nature, embraces the spirit of persecution. History teaches us that it has ever been so, and the cause is easily explained: for it demands conformity, and that can be secured by compulsion. Nebuchadnezzar endeavored to convert the prophet Daniel by means of a fiery furnace and a den of lions, and all sorts of punishments and tortures have been resorted to by other zealots. A religion of the mind and heart, on the contrary, aims at unity of opinion and feeling; and this can be gained only by convincing the judg ment and influencing the affections. This no force can accomplish; and no man who acts on the principles of Christianity will ever resort to compulsion in his efforts to propagate it. The Sandwich Islanders, having gradually lost much confidence in
their idols, from an intercourse with foreigners of about forty years' duration, although in other respects they generally derived much evil and little good from their visitors, overthrew the system of superstition before the first missionaries landed on their shores. This was not accomplished, however, without a violent struggle; and the heathen party continued for several years to resist the propagation of Christianity. By degrees, however, rulers, people, and even priests, yielded to truth and conscience, and a reformation took place which may well be regarded with wonder, gratitude and encouragement.
Idolatry is also cruel. Its priests require sacrifices of various kinds, under the pretence of propitiating their divinities, but really for the purpose of gaining power or honor for themselves. In some of the Islands, oppression, cruelty and murder, especially infanticide, prevailed in a shocking degree. A priest, at some of their ceremonies, had only to point at any person present, to have him despatched in an instant, his heart torn out and laid at his feet.
The Areoi Society was a strange and detestable association, formed on the most immoral principles, and for the perpetration of the greatest crimes. It had existed from time immemorial, embraced a large portion of the people, and exerted a most baneful influence. It seems indeed wonderful that any remains of decency could have subsisted in a nation where so degrading and subversive an institution had a footing. In some of its principal features the Areoi may be compared with customs known among many of the tribes of Western Africa, and in some other parts of the world, as well as with the Bacchanals of the Romans. Strange as it may seem, however, even that profligate institution soon began to succumb before the influence of the Gospel, and was finally annihilated.
The following is a description of one of the numerous and interesting scenes which occurred during the early days of Christi anity in the Islands.
"In one of the visits which Mr. Nott made to the residence of Taaroarii, for the purpose of preaching to his people, he was followed by Patii, the priest of the temple of Papetoai, the district in which the missionaries resided. This individual appeared to listen most attentively to what was said; and, after the conclusion of the service, he and Mr. Nott proceeded together along the beach towards the settlement. As they walked, Patii disclosed the feel
ings of his mind to Mr. Nott, and assured him that on the morrow, at a certain hour, he would bring up the ido's under his care, and publicly burn them.
This declaration was astounding, it was too decisive and important in its nature, and promised results almost too momentous, to be true. Mr. Nott, repli d: "I fear you are jesting with me, and stating what you think we wish, rather than what you intend. I can scarcely allow myself to believe what you say."
"Don't be unbelieving," replied Patii; “wait till to-morrow and you shall see."
The religion o Jesus Christ was the topic of conversation until they reached the settlement. The arrival of the evening of the following day was awaited with an unusual agi. tation and excitement of feeling. The public adherents of Christianity were few (less than fifty) and surrounded by jealous and cruel idolaters, who already began to wonder whereunto this thing might grow. Patii, however, was faithfnl to his word. He, with his friends, had collected a quantity of fuel near the sea-beach; and, in the afternoon, the wood was split, and piled on a point of land in the western part of Papetoai, near the large national marae, or temple, in which he had officiated. The report of his intention had spread among he people of the district, and multitudes assembled to witness this daring act of impiety, or the sudden vengeance which they thought would fall upon the sacrilegious criminal. The missionaries and their friends also attended.
"A short time before sunset, Patii appeared, and ordered his attendants to apply fire to the pile. This being done, he hastened to the sacred depository of his gods, brought them out, not as he had been on some occasions accustomed to do, that they might receive the blind homage of the waiting populace, but to convince the deluded multitude of the impotency and the variety of the objects of their adoration aud their dread. When he approached the burning pile he laid them. down on the ground. They were small, carved wooden images, and imitations of the human figure, or shapeless logs of wood, covered with finely braided and curiously wrought cinet, of cocoa nut fibres, and ornamented with red feathers.
Patii tore off the sacred cloth in which they were enveloped, to be safe from the gaze of
vulgar eyes, stripped them of their ornaments, which he cast into the fire; and then, one by one, threw the idols themselves into the crackling flames, sometimes pronouncing the name and pedigree of the idol, and expressing his own regret at having worshipped it, at others, calling upon the spectators to witness their inability even to help themselves. Thus were the idols which Patii who was a powerful priest in Eimeo, had worshipped, publicly destroyed. The flames became extinct, and the sun cast his last beams, as he sank behind the western wave, upon the expiring embers of that fire, which had already mingled with the earth over which it had been kindled, the ashes of some of the once obeyed and dreaded gods of Eimeo. Patii was not on this occasion prompted by a spirit of daring bravado, but by the conviction of truth deeply impressed upon his heart, and a desire to undeceive his deluded countrymen ; probably considering that, as his conduct and instruction had heretofore done much to extend and propagate the influence of idolatry, so his thus publicly abandoning it, and exposing himself to all the consequences of their dreaded ire, would most effectually weaken their confidence in the gods and lead them to desire instruction concerning tha: Being who, he was convinced, was the only living and true God.
PRUSSIA. Berlin.-It is said that a suspicious Catholic association, called the "Order of Roses," has been discovered in Berlin.— This confederacy seems to be organized as a lodge of various degrees and sections. It is headed by a Popish priest .and it is supposed that the society was organized for the spread of Popery amongst the lower orders. The affair was discovered by a Protestant servant girl.
The Weser Gazette states that, in the evening of the 26th ult., an estafette arrived at Posen, with accounts that an insurrection had taken place in the small town of Samter, during which an attack was made upon the magazine, in which the arios of the Landwehr are deposited. It is also rumored that a mine had been discovered at Posen, which had very nearly reached the powder magazine.
A Berlin letter of the 9th, after alluding to the revelation to the King by a private soldier of some conspiracy, and stating that he had been largely rewarded by his Majesty, adds, that at Posen, amongst the persons recently arrested are Count B., one of the most wealthy landholders of the province, and all his stewards and agents.
It is stated that the provincial Statss of Prussia will certainly be transformed into a States General.