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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 60/144 -


all my characteristic and peculiar habits of mind will remain unchanged by what will only change my office and not myself. So that where I am indolent now I shall be indolent henceforth, unless I seek to get rid of indolence; and I shall not be at all better, wiser, or more consistent as Bishop than I am now by reason simply of being a Bishop.

'You know my meaning. Now I apply what I write to prove that any strong excitement now would be no evidence of a healthy state of mind. I feel now like myself, and that is not at all like what I wish to be. And so I thank God that as before any solemn season special inducements to earnest repentance are put into our minds, so I now feel a special call upon me to seek by His grace to make a more faithful use of the means of usefulness which He gives me, that I may be wholly and entirely turned to Him, and so be enabled to do His will in Melanesia. You know, my dearest Father, that I do not indeed undervalue the grace of Ordination; only I mean that the right use of any great event in one's life, as I take it, is not to concentrate feeling so much on it as earnestness of purpose, prayer for grace, and for increase of simplicity and honesty and purity of heart. Perhaps other matters affect me more than my supposed state of feeling, so that my present calmness may be attributed to circumstances of which I am partially ignorant; and, indeed, I do wonder that I am calm when one moment's look at the map, or thought of the countless islands, almost overwhelms me. How to get at them? Where to begin? How to find men and means? How to decide upon the best method of teaching, &c.? But I must try to be patient, and to be content with very small beginnings--and endings, too, perhaps.

'Sunday, Feb. 24, St. Matthias, 10 A.M.--The day is come, my dearest Father, and finds me, I thank God, very calm. Yesterday, at 6 P.M., in the little chapel at Taurama, the three Bishops, the dear Judge, Lady Martin, Mrs. Abraham, Mr. Lloyd and I met together for special prayer. How we missed Mrs. Selwyn, dear dear Mrs. Selwyn, from among us, and how my thoughts passed on to you! Evening hymn, Exhortation in Consecration Service, Litany from the St. Augustine's Missionary Manual, with the questions in Consecration Service turned into petitions, Psalm cxxxii., cxxxi., li.; Lesson i Tim. iii.; special prayer for the Elect Bishop among the heathen, for the conversion of the heathen; and the Gloria in Excelsis.

'Then the dear Bishop walked across to me, and taking my hand in both of his, looking at me with that smile of love and deep deep thought, so seldom seen, and so deeply prized. "I can't tell you what I feel," he said, with a low and broken voice. "You know it--my heart is too full! "

'Ah! the memory of six years with that great and noble servant of God was in my heart too, and so we stood, tears in our eyes, and I unable to speak.

'At night again, when, after arranging finally the service, I was left with him alone, he spoke calmly and hopefully. Much he said of you, and we are all thinking much of you. Then he said: "I feel no misgiving in my heart; I think all has been done as it should be. Many days we three have discussed the matter. By prayer and Holy Communion we have sought light from above, and it is, I believe, God's will." Then once more taking both hands, he kissed my forehead: "God bless you, my dear Coley. I can't say more words, and you don't desiderate them."

'"No," said I; "my heart, as yours, is too full for words. I have lived six years with you to little purpose, if I do not know you full well now!"

'And then I walked, in the perfect peace of a still cloudless night-- the moon within two days of full--the quarter of a mile to St. Stephen's schools, where I slept last night. On the way I met the Bishop of Wellington and Mrs. Abraham, coming up from St. Stephen's to the Bishop's house.

J. C. P.--What a night of peace! the harbour like a silver mirror!

'B. of W.--Dominus tecum.

'Mrs. A.--I trust you will sleep.

'J. C. P.--I thank you; I think so. I feel calm.

'Sunday Night, 10 P.M. (Feniton, Sunday, 10.40 A.M.)--It is over--a most solemn blessed service. Glorious day. Church crowded--many not able to find admittance; but orderly. More than two hundred communicants. More to-morrow (D.V.). All day you have been in our minds. The Bishop spoke of you in his sermon with faltering voice, and I broke down; yet at the moment of the Veni Creator being sung over me, and the Imposition of Hands, I was very calm. The Bible presented is the same that you gave me on my fifth birthday with your love and blessing. Oh! my dear dear Father, God will bless you for all your love to me, and your love to Him in giving me to His service. May His heavenly blessing be with you--all your dear ones for ever!

'Your most loving and dutiful Son,

'J. C. PATTESON, Missionary Bishop.

'February 25th.--I am spending to-day and to-morrow here--i.e., sleeping at the Judge's, dining and living half at his house, and half at the Bishop's--quiet and calm it is, and I prize it. The music yesterday was very good; organ well played. The choirs of the three town churches, and many of the choral society people, filled the gallery--some eighty voices perhaps. The Veni Creator the only part that was not good, well sung, but too much like an anthem.

'Tagalana, half-sitting, half-kneeling behind me, held the book for the Primate to read from at the Imposition of Hands--a striking group, I am told.'

Here ends the letter, to which a little must be added from other pens; and, first, from Mrs. Abraham's letter for the benefit of Eton friends:--

'The Consecration was at St. Paul's Church, in default of a Cathedral. Built before the Bishop arrived, St. Paul's has no chancel: and the Clergy, including a Maori Deacon, were rather crowded within the rail. Mr. Patteson was seated in a chair in front, ten of his island boys close to him, and several working men of the rougher sort were brought into the benches near. We were rather glad of the teaching that none were excluded. The service was all in harmony with the occasion; and the sermon gave expression to all the individual and concentrated feeling of the moment, as well as pointing the Lesson and its teaching.

'The sermon was on the thought of the Festival: "And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen." (Acts i. 24.) After speaking of the special import and need of the prayers of those gathered to offer up their prayers at the Holy Communion, for those who were to exercise the office of apostles in their choice, he spoke in words that visibly almost overpowered their subject:--

'"In this work of God, belonging to all eternity, and to the Holy Catholic Church, are we influenced by any private feelings, any personal regard? The charge which St. Paul gives to Timothy, in words of awful solemnity, 'to lay hands suddenly on no man,' may well cause much searching of heart. 'I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things, without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.' Does our own partial love deceive us in this choice? We were all trained in the same place of education, united in the same circle of friends; in boyhood, youth, manhood, we have shared the same services, and joys, and hopes, and fears. I received this, my son in the ministry of Christ Jesus, from the hands of a father, of whose old age he was the comfort. He sent him forth without a murmur, nay, rather with joy and thankfulness, to these distant parts of the earth. He never asked even to see him again, but gave him up without reserve to the Lord's work. Pray, dear brethren, for your Bishops, that our partial love may not deceive us in this choice, for we cannot so strive against natural affection as to be quite impartial."

'And again, as the Primate, addressing more especially his beloved son in the ministry, exclaimed, "May Christ be with you when you go forth in His name, and for His sake, to those poor and needy people," and his eye went along the dusky countenances of his ten boys, Coleridge Patteson could hardly restrain his intensity of feeling.'

Another letter from the same lady to the sisters adds further details to the scene, after describing the figures in the church:--

'Lady Martin, who had never seen the dress (the cassock and rochet) before, said that Coley reminded her of the figures of some young knight watching his armour, as he stood in his calm stedfastness, and answered the questions put to him by the Primate.

'The whole service was very nicely ordered, and the special Psalm well chanted. With one exception (which was, alas! the Veni Creator), the music was good, and Coley says was a special help to him; the pleasure of it, and the external hold that it gave, helping him out of himself, as it were, and sustaining him.'

Lady Martin adds her touch to the picture; and it may perhaps be recorded for those who may in after times read the history of the first Bishop of the Melanesian Church, that whatever might be wanting in the beauty of St. Paul's, Auckland, never were there three Bishops who outwardly as well as inwardly more answered to the dignity of their office than the three who stood over the kneeling Coleridge Patteson.

'I shall never forget the expression of his face as he knelt in the quaint rochet. It was meek and holy and calm, as though all conflict was over and he was resting in the Divine strength. It was altogether a wonderful scene: the three consecrating Bishops, all such noble-looking men, the goodly company of clergy and Hohua's fine intelligent brown face among them, and then the long line of island boys, and of St. Stephen's native teachers and their wives, were living testimonies of Mission work. Coley had told us in the morning of a consecration he had seen at Rome, where a young Greek deacon had held a large illuminated book for the Pope to read the words of Consecration. We had no such gorgeous dresses as they, but nothing could have been more simply beautiful and touching than the sight of Tagalana's young face as he did the same good office. There was nothing artistic about it; the boy came forward with a wondering yet bright look on his pleasant face, just dressed in his simple grey blouse.


Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 60/144

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