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the low coralline islands, and live by fishing,) eaten by sharks, which would sometimes be caught and eaten by the inhabitants of distant islands.
After urging these, and corresponding inquiries which had exercised their minds, they would ask, After all these processes of new combination, will the original parts of every human body be reunited at the resurection? &c. On such occasions, the truth of the doctrine of the resurrection was exhibited, as demonstrated by the resurrection of Lazarus and of Christ; the identity of our Lord's body, by his subsequent intercourse with the disciples, especially with Thomas; and the certainty of the general resurrection presented, as deduced from the numerous and explicit declarations of Scripture, and the reasoning of the inspired writers. The identity of the body was stated as being consistent with the character and moral government of God, which appeared to require that the same body which had suffered for or in his cause on earth, should be glorified in heaven; and that the same body which in union with the soul had been employed in rebellion and vice, should suffer the just consequences in a future state. The declarations of Scripture on this momentous point, always appeared to be satisfactory; and although the circumstances of the resurrection, and the manner by which parts of the same body would be united, &c. were inquiries pursued with deepest interest, we generally found them terminate in expressions of desire that they might be prepared, rise with glorified bodies, and come forth from their graves "to the resurrection of life."
In connexion with this subject, and others of a similar kind, the most important referred to what
might be called their Christian experience the effect of texts of Scripture committed to memory, in stimulating to duty, and restraining from sin. Often they would ask, "How can we attain true repentance, and a change of heart? How may we know that we are not deceiving ourselves? How can we be preserved from forsaking God and committing sin? We desire genuine faith; where can we obtain it? Once they observed-Adam fell in Paradise, and angels fell even in heaven itself; how then can we be preserved from sinning against God? Tell us how we may be safe from Satan?-how we may be safe for heaven, and secure of admission there?" I refrain from comments on the numerous inquiries brought forward at these meetings, which have been proved essentially serviceable to the nation-stimulating inquiry, giving a proper direction to their researches after truth, expanding the mind and strengthening the intellect, yet restraining them within the limitations of revelation. Their inquiries shew, if evidence were wanting, that their mental capabilities are not contemptible, and demonstrate the influence of the highest order of Christian principles upon the exercise of the mind and the affections of the heart.
Mr. Orsmond having removed to Raiatea in the close of 1816, and Mr. Nott to Tahiti in the summer of 1819, those of us who remained at Huahine endeavoured to engage as extensively as possible in the instruction of the people. We therefore went to several of the remote villages to preach to the people on the Sabbath, and frequently visited the district of Maeva, situated on the margin of an extensive lake, surrounded by most rich and varied scenery.
Among the singularly beautiful and diversified vegetable productions that adorn the banks of the lake, the sacred aoa deserves particular attention; it stands near the large temple of Tane, at Tamapua, and is one of the most ancient and extensive that I have met with in the islands. In its growth, the aoa resembles the banian tree of the East, and is probably a variety of the species. The bark has a light tinge and shining appearance, the leaf lance-shaped and small, of a beautiful pea-green colour. It is an evergreen, and is propagated by slips or branches, which readily take root. When the stem of the young tree is about two or three inches in diameter, the bark, immediately below the branches, which generally spread from the trunk, about six feet above the ground, begins to open near the lower part of the limbs. A number of fine yellow pointed roots protrude, and increase in size and length every year. The branches grow horizontally, and rather bending than otherwise: from different parts of these, fibres shoot forth through the bursting bark, and hang like fine dark-brown threads. The habits of growth in these pendulous roots are singular. Sometimes they appear like a single line, or rope, reaching from the highest branches nearly to the ground, where they terminate in a bunch of spreading fibres, not unlike a tassel. At other times, while there is one principal fibre, a number of others branch off from this at unequal distances, from its insertion in the bough above, and terminate in a cluster of small fibres. The different threads are sometimes separate from each other for a considerable distance, and, near the bottom, unite in one single root.
As soon as these depending fibres reach the ground, they take root, and, in the course of a number of years,
become solid stems, covered with a bark resembling that of the original tree, and forming so many natural pillars to the progressively extending branches above.
By this singular process, the aoa, at Tamapua, appears more like a clump or grove than a single tree. The original stem was joined by one or two, of such dimensions, that it was not easy to distinguish the parent from the offspring, and the fibres that had united with the ground, and thus became so many trunks or stems of the tree, covered a space many yards in circumference. The lateral branches continue to extend, and tendrils of every length and size are seen in all directions depending from them, appearing as if in time it would cover the face of the country with a forest, which yet should be but one
The most remarkable appearance, however, which the aoa presents, is when it grows near some of the high mountain precipices that often occur in the islands. A short distance from Buaoa, where the rocks are exceedingly steep, and almost perpendicular for a hundred feet, or more, an aoa appears to have been planted near the foot of the rocky pile, and the tender fibres protruded from the branches being nearer the rocks at the side than the ground below, have been attracted towards the precipice. From this, fresh nourishment has been derived, the tree has continued to ascend and throw out new fibres still higher, till it has reached the top. Here a branching tree has flourished, exhibiting all the peculiarities of the aoa; while the root, and that part growing along the face of the rock, resembles a strong interwoven hedge, extending from the base to the summit of the precipice.
The account of the origin of this tree is one of the
most fabulous of native legends: it states that the moon is diversified with hill and valley like our earth, that it is adorned with trees, and among these the aoa, the shadow of whose spreading branches, the Polynesians suppose, occasions the dark parts in her surface. ancient times, they state that a bird flew to the moon, and plucked the berries of the aoa; these are smaller than grapes; the bird readily carried them, and flying over the islands, dropped some of the seeds, which, germinating in the soil, produced the aoa tree. It was considered sacred, and frequently planted in the neighbourhood or precincts of the marae. The large one at Tamapua was supposed to be a frequent resort of the god; and the human sacrifices offered in the temple beneath, were usually suspended among its branches. A common imprecation was, E tau oe i te amaa toro i momona ; "You will hang in the branch stretching towards Momona," a spot beneath one of the principal branches.
The cottage erected for my lodging, when visiting the district of Maeva, was within a few yards of this tree, and the chapel stood within the precincts of the ancient idol temple. I have often conversed with the people respecting it, and they have said that the most appalling horrors filled their minds, if they approached the tree or the pile after dark; that when they have pushed their light canoe along the adjacent lake, they have, as an act of reverence, uncovered the upper part of their persons, and almost trembled with fear till they had safely passed. Considering the dark and gloomy appearance of the temple, the wide extent, dense shade, fantastic shape, and grotesque appearance of the tortuous fibrous roots or trunks of the aoa, it is not surprising that the superstitious natives should be under the influence of those