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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 100/144 -
'I walked up to our place. It is, indeed, a beautiful spot. Palmer has worked with a will. I was surprised to see what was done. Some three and a half acres of fine kumaras, maize, yams, growing well; a yam of ten pounds weight, smooth and altogether Melanesian, just taken up, not quite ripe, so the boys say they will grow much bigger. Abundant supply of water, though the summer has been dry.
'Much of the timber has been carted up, more has been stacked at the top of the hill. This was carried by the boys, and will be carted along the pine avenue; a good deal is still near the pines, but properly stacked. I see nothing anywhere thrown about, even here not a chip to be seen, all buried or burnt, and the place quite neat though unfinished.
'1. House, on the plan of my old house just taken down by Gray, but much larger.
'2. Kitchen of good size.
'3. Two raupo outhouses.
'I find it quite assumed here that the question is settled about our property here; but I have not thought it desirable to talk expressly about it. They talk about school, doctor, and other public arrangements as usual.
'It seems that it was on St. Barnabas Day that, after Holy Communion, we walked up here last year and chose the site of the house. The people have of their own accord taken to call the place St. Barnabas; and as this suits the Eton feeling also, and you and others never liked St. Andrew's, don't you think we may adopt the new name? Miss Yonge won't mind, I am sure.
'I could not resist telling the people that you and Mrs. Selwyn might come for a short time in September next to see them, and they are really delighted; and so shall we be, I can tell you indeed....
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The time for the island voyage was fully come; and, after a very brief stay in the new abode, the Bishop sailed again for Mota, where the old house was found (May 8) in a very dilapidated condition; and vigorous mending with branches was needed before a corner could be patched up for him to sleep on his table during a pouring wet night, having first supped on a cup of tea and a hot yam, the latter brought from the club-house by one of his faithful adherents; after which an hour and a half's reading of Lightfoot on the Epistle to the Galatians made him forget every discomfort.
There had, however, been a renewal of fighting of late; and at a village called Tasmate, a man named Natungoe had ten days previously been shot in the breast with a poisoned arrow, and was beginning to show those first deadly symptoms of tetanus. He had been a well- conducted fellow, though he had hitherto shown indifference to the new teaching; and it had not been in a private quarrel that he was wounded, but in a sudden attack on his village by some enemies, when a feast was going on.
On that first evening when the Bishop went to see him it was plain that far more of the recent instruction had taken root in him than had been supposed. 'He showed himself thoroughly ready to listen, and manifested a good deal of simple faith. He said he had no resentment against the person who had shot him, and that he did wish to know and think about the world to come. He accepted at once the story of God's love, shown in sending Jesus to die for us, and he seemed to have some apprehension of what God must be, and of what we are--how unlike Him, how unable to make ourselves fit to be with Him. He certainly spoke of Jesus as of a living Person close by him, willing and able to help him. He of his own accord made a little prayer to Him, "Help me, wake me, make my heart light, take away the darkness. I wish for you, I want to go to you, I don't want to think about this world."'
Early the next morning the Bishop went again, taking George Sarawia with him. The man said, 'I have been thinking of what you said. I have been calling on the Saviour (i Vaesu) all night.' The Bishop spoke long to him, and left Sarawia with him, speaking and praying quietly and earnestly.
Meanwhile continues the diary:--
'I went to the men in the village, and spoke at length to them: "Yes, God will not cast out those who turn to Him when they are called, but you must not suppose that it is told us anywhere that He will save those who care nothing about Him through their years of health, and only think about Him and the world to come when this world is already passing away."
'How utterly unable one feels to say or do the right thing, and the words fall so flat and dull upon careless ears!'
Every day for ten days the poor sufferer Natungoe was visited, and he listened with evident faith and comprehension. On May 15 the entry is:--
'I was so satisfied with his expressions of faith in the Saviour, of his hope of living with Him; he spoke so clearly of his belief in Jesus having been sent from the Great Creator and Father of all to lead us back to Him, and to cleanse us from sin, which had kept us from our Father, by His Death for us; he was so evidently convinced of the truth of our Lord's Resurrection and of the resurrection of us all at the last day--that I felt that I ought to baptize him. I had already spoken to him of Baptism, and he seemed to understand that, first, he must believe that the water is the sign of an inward cleansing, and that it has no magical efficacy, but that all depended on his having faith in the promise and power of God; and second, that Jesus had commanded those who wished to believe and love Him to be baptized.
'The expression Nan ive Maroo i Vaesu, "I wish for the Saviour," had been frequently used by him; and I baptized him by the name of Maroovaesu, a name instantly substituted for his old name Natungoe by those present.
'I have seen him again to-day; he cannot recover, and at times the tetanus spasms are severe, but it is nothing like dear Fisher's case. He can still eat and speak; women sit around holding him, and a few people sit or lie about in the hut. It looks all misery and degradation of the lowest kind, but there is a blessed change, as I trust, for him.'
On Sunday the 19th the last agony had come. He lay on a mat on the ground, in the middle of the village, terribly racked by convulsions, but still able in the intervals to speak intelligibly, and to express his full hope that he was going to his Saviour, and that his pain would soon be over, and he would be at rest with Him, listening earnestly to the Bishop's prayers. He died that night.
In the meantime, the Bishop had not neglected the attacking party. Of them, one had been killed outright, and two more were recovering from their wounds, and it was necessary to act as pacificator.
'Meanwhile, I think how very little religion has to do directly with keeping things quiet; in England (for example) men would avenge themselves, and steal and kill, were it not for the law, which is, indeed, an indirect result of religion; but religion simply does not produce the effect, i.e. men are not generally religious in England or Mota. I have Maine's Book of "Ancient Law" among the half-dozen books I have brought on shore, and it is extremely interesting to read here.'
How he read, wrote, or did anything is the marvel, with the hut constantly crowded by men who had nothing to do but gather round, in suffocating numbers, to stare at his pen travelling over the paper. 'They have done so a hundred times before,' he writes, actually under the oppression, 'but anything to pass an hour lazily. It is useless to talk about it, and one must humour them, or they will think I am vexed with them.'
The scholars, neatly clothed, with orderly and industrious habits, were no small contrast: 'But I miss as yet the link between them and the resident heathen people. I trust and pray that George and others may, ere long, supply it.
'But it is very difficult to know how to help them to change their mode of life. Very much, even if they did accept Christianity, must go on as before. Their daily occupations include work in the small gardens, cooking, &c., and this need not be changed.
'Then as to clothing. I must be very careful lest they should think that wearing clothes is Christianity. Yet certain domestic changes are necessary, for a Christian life seems to need certain material arrangements for decency and propriety. There ought to be partition screens in the hut, for example, and some clothing is desirable no doubt. A resident missionary now could do a good deal towards showing the people why certain customs, &c., are incompatible with a Christian life. His daily teaching would show how Christ acted and taught, and how inconsistent such and such practices must be with the profession of faith in Him. But regulations imposed from without I rather dread, they produce so often an unreasoning obedience for a little while only.
The rules for the new life should be very few and very simple, and carefully explained. "Love to God and man," explained and illustrated as the consequence of some elementary knowledge of God's love to us, shown of course prominently in the giving His own Son to us. There is no lack of power to understand simple teaching, a fair proportion of adults take it in very fairly. I was rather surprised on Friday evening (some sixty or seventy being present) to find that a few men answered really rather well questions which brought out the meaning of some of our Saviour's names.
'"The saving His people."
'"Not all men? And why not all men? And from what poverty, sickness, &c., here below?"
'"From their sins."
'"What is sin?"
'"All that God has forbidden."
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