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that the chief had some individual on his premises, whom he intended to devote to this horrid purpose. When, therefore, such a request was made, he would notify, by a motion of the hand or head, the individual to be taken. The only weapon with which these procurers of sacrifices were armed was a small round stone concealed in the hollow of their hand, With this they would strike their victim a stunning blow upon the back of the head, when others, who were in readiness, would rush in and complete the horrid work. The body was then carried amid songs, and shouts of savage triumphs, to the marae, there to be offered to the gods. At other times, the king's gang of desperadoes would arm themselves with spears, surround the house of their victim, and enjoy the sport of spearing him through the apertures between the poles which encircled the house. In these circumstances, the object of their savage amusement, frenzied with pain and dread, would rush from one part of the house to the other; but wherever he ran he found the spear entering his body, and at length, perceiving no possibility of escape, he would cover himself with his cloth, throw himself upon the floor, and wait until a spear-should pierce his heart. There were various other occasions, besides these I have named, on which victims were presented; and the same system prevailed with but little diversity in all the Hervey Islands. At Raratonga, two human victims were invariably offered at the birth of the son of a principal chief.
Another circumstance which rendered this practice still more dreadful was, that as soon as one of the family had been selected, all the other male members of it were looked upon as devoted to the same horrid purpose. It would avail them nothing if they removed to another island, for the reason of their removal would soon be known there ; and whenever a sacrifice was required, it would be sought amongst them. I had in my own service an individual who was the last of his family, of which every other male member had been offered in sacrifice, and he had been eight times hunted in the mountains with dogs; but being an extraordinary runner, he had eluded his pursuers, until the inhabitants of his island embraced the gospel, and the “gods were famished out of the land.”
These very people, who a few years ago were addicted to all these horrid practices, now sit by thousands in places of Christian worship, erected by themselves, clothed, and in their right mind, and listen with intense interest to the truths of the gospel. A spectacle more truly sublime it is scarcely possible for the human mind to contemplate.
Rev. John WILLIAMS.
From Rev. J. Burton, of Bahamas. I HAVE received your very liberal supply of books for sale, and am very thankful for them. I beg also to present my best thanks for your kind gift of tracts, &c. for gratuitous distribution. Both the tracts and the books for sale
are being circulated through the town; and if I can soon send you a part of the amount, it will afford me very great pleasure. I am sorry to say that, at present, I have by me a large portion of the Spanish tracts and small books which you
sent some time since. Occasionally I am applied to for a few by the Cuba sailors. Two or three months since a small book, called * The Happy Negro," was given or sold to a Spaniard, who took it with him to Cuba for his children. When the vessel arrived at the port, and the trunks of the passengers were opened that the Custom-house officers might examine what was brought, this “Happy Negro” was observed. The officer asked if he might borrow it for the day, for the sake of reading it; and without the least hesitation he was allowed to take it ashore. The next day the owner of this little book was seized by the constables, and conducted to the magistrates, before whom he underwent a most rigid examination. One report that I heard stated that he was imprisoned, and most heavily fined. Another report said that, by the strong interference of respectable friends, he was just saved from a sort of life-imprisonment, and the vessel just saved from being seized by the government. But men may as well attempt to prevent the diffusion of light as the diffusion of knowledge. The Spaniard, who was captain of the vessel at this critical period, and who brought the intelligence to Nassau when he made his next voyage, as soon as possible, after coming to anchor, sent to me for a dozen copies of this “ Happy Negro.” The anxiety which the principal people there show to keep out the truth, is, perhaps, an indication that Satan knows he has only a short time to reign.
The cause of our blessed Lord is prospering, I trust, in the Bahamas; though there has been more hinderance and less prosperity during the last few months, than I have previously witnessed. For some time, in several departments of labour, I have been almost alone. In the Tract Society I am secretary, and committee, and depositary, and salesman too, now, as it res cts all the work. I trust, however, the Lord will bless the books. I know he is blessing them; and while I am thankful for being allowed, in this way, to serve the Saviour a little, I am confident that if I should be removed, he will raise up some other person to do whatever may be required.
Sailors. From a Correspondent. A SHORT time since, I took a tour, as an invalid, through the southern counties, furnished with a ten shilling bundle of tracts. I could relate many interesting incidents attending my distribution of these useful monitors, in the cottages of the poor, through a cluster of villages in that romantic part of the county of Hants, between Petersfield and Alton, where I spent a few days, but I must omit them all, to give an account of my journey.
The coach by which I left London, was, on the outside, entirely occupied by sailors, who were proceeding to join their ship at Portsmouth; one place only, which had been previously engaged, being reserved for me. I could not avoid expecting to have a very disagreeable journey, and the first quarter of an hour fully confirmed my apprehensions. No sooner was I seated, than their boisterous mirth and their loose conversation, intermixed with dreadful oaths, met my ear, and pained my heart. But here was a sphere of usefulness presented to me, and I reflected that it would be woe to me, unless it should be faithfully occupied. I looked up to the sovereign, wise, and gracious Disposer of all events and circumstances, and resolved, by the aid of his Holy Spirit, to use my utmost endeavours to awaken these thoughtless beings to the solemnities of death, judgment, and eternity.
It was one of the finest days of September. The air was soft and balmy. The sun shone brilliantly in a cloudless sky. The fields had been just cleared from the produce of an abundant harvest, and nature, both animate and inanimate, appeared to enjoy repose. Autumnal tints had already begun to diversify the beautiful foliage of the woods, while the meadows presented to the eye the rich luxuriance of spring, An ardent admirer of the beauties of nature, and always enjoying an autumn tour, I confess that I at this time felt no bias towards self-gratification. My whole soul was engrossed with the ignorant but interesting charge, which appeared for that day cast upon me for instruction. I felt that I had just such company as I should desire, if I partook of the spirit of Him who went among publicans and sinners to do them good. It was necessary to proceed with caution, toexcite the curiosity, and to fix the attention of my travelling companions. Accordingly I took from my pocket a tract, and threw it down to a gipsey woman, and soon after two or three more, as suitable objects presented themselves on the road. This had the effect I desired; for one of the sailors addressed me in his truly characteristic manner, “ Will your honour give one to a jack tar." I replied, “Yes, with pleasure," and handed him “ James Covey. He read it, and gave it to one of his shipmates, saying, “ Tom, read this, it's a precious good thing, and mind ye, give it back to me again.” I then took occasion to say that I knew Covey well. I spoke of his former life when he was a headstrong, swearing sinner, and how the sovereign grace of God changed his nature, and turned the lion into the Jamb. Then I showed how his renewed heart overflowed with ardent love to the Saviour, and how anxiously he uttered his dying request, that his minister would present this precious Saviour in all his beauty and loveliness, in all his suitability, to poor sailors, living in sin, as heonce did.
From this history I was able to recommend a crucified Saviour, to the faith and the affections of guilty, helpless men. I told them they could not possibly be happy without Jesus Christ, but with him they might and must be happy, every where and in every circumstance. While I discoursed in this manner, not a word was spoken; attention was fixed, and a tear might occasionally be seen in the eyes of these hardy sons of the ocean. I never preached so long a sermon, nor had a more attentive and affected audience. When I had fatigued 'myself with speaking, I gave each a tract of a different kind, which they all began to read, and then interchanged with each other. But one tract to each did not satisfy them. All begged one of every variety I had, saying they should have many shipmates, to whom they would be glad to lend them. Very numerous were the little civilities they showed me on the journey, each vying with the others who could be most attentive ; and very sincere appeared to be their regret that I was to leave them at Petersfield. My conversation had embraced the topics of drinking, swearing, and other sins to which sailors are particularly exposed. After I had engaged their attention, I did not hear a profane word, nor do I believe a drop of spirits was drunk by any one during the day. They even asked my permission to have a pint of beer among three of them.
In this unexpected opportunity of usefulness, I experienced the greatest alleviation I have known since my isl state of health has unfitted me for the public ministry of the gospel. My own mind was deeply impressed and solemnized by the reflection, how many opportunities of usefulness I had met with in the course of my life, and allowed to pass unimproved. The Lord grant that the seed sown that day may produce an abundant harvest to his glory in the salvation of immortal souls,
SOLOMON'S DEFECTION AND REHOBOAM'S REIGN. THERE can be no safety to that soul, where there is not a strait curb on our desires; if our lusts be not held under as slaves, they will rule as tyrants. Nothing can prevent our falling into sin, but early and strong denials of our lusts. Solomon's younger years were studious and virtuous, his over-hastened age was licentious and misgoverned ; “ For, when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods.” If any age can secure us from the danger of a spiritual fall, it is our last; and if any man's old age might secure him, it was Solomon's, the beloved of God, the oracle, the miracle of wisdom. Who would have expected, but that the blossoms of so hopeful a spring should have yielded a goodly and pleasant fruit in the autumn of age? Yet, behold, even Solomon's old age is vicious. There is no time wherein we can be safe, while we carry this body of sin about us : youth is impetuous, middle age stubborn, old age weak; all dangerous.
We must not presume on time, or means, or strength. How many have begun and proceeded well, who yet have shamed themselves in their last stage! If God uphold us not, we cannot stand: if God uphold us, we cannot fall. When we are the strongest, it is the best to be weak in ourselves; and when at our weakest, we may be strong in Him, in whom we can do all things.
So did Solomon dote on the women about him, that he TRACT MAGAZINE, NO. 52. APRIL, 1838.