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Titus Coan
Quotations

“From this consecrated spot I sometimes attempt to survey the vast whitening harvest field as it spreads around me to the east and west, the north and south. My eye affects my heart, and I exclaim: 'Lord, send me where Thou wilt, only go with me: lay on me what Thou wilt, only sustain me; cut any cord but the one which binds to Thy cause, to Thy heart." (Spoken while he was at Auburn Theological Seminary)

"I am pent up here amid the venerable lore of ages, and hurried from field to field of metaphysical, ethical and theological research. After examining the various and contending theories, the magisterial dogmas, the abstruse and subtle disqu...isitions, the vain and unsatisfying speculations, the grave and confident conclusions of numerous theological disputants, I gain relief from their perplexing speculations by taking my precious Bible and stealing away close to the feet of Jesus. He has told me, when I want anything, to ask Him, and His promise never fails, He never upbraids. He does not, indeed, answer all my irreverent inquiries, but He teaches me not to dive beyond my depth, nor soar amid brightness too dazzling. With Jesus for my teacher, I can sit and quiet myself as a wearied child.’’

“My good works need covering, my prayers need praying for, my repentance needs repenting of. I ask not to be pardoned in my sin, but to be delivered from it.

"I have now another class in the prison. Most of them I hope are converted. 'Tis truly affecting to hear some of them confess their former sins, and with bursting hearts tell of the love of Jesus. I love to go into that prison, because Jesus loves to go there. I often feel as if I wanted to wash the feet of those who are Christ's freemen there, for it seems as if my Master would do it."

“It is but a little time since I found my sins an oppressive load. My Saviour hid His face for a moment. I sought Him at twilight, at midnight. I inquired of the watchmen. I looked, I listened, I fainted. My Beloved spake, my soul melted; I bathed His feet with my tears. I would not let Him go till He pardoned and smiled. Do you ask where I found Him? In Jer. iii. 19. At first His voice was indistinct, but it arrested my attention. I listened, and He spake again. ‘Is this,' said I, ‘the voice of my Father?’ Again the notes became more distinct, and tender, and earnest. He was inquiring how He should put me among His children. He stated the conditions: 'Thou shalt call me, my Father, and thou shalt not turn away from me.' My heart responded, 'My Father, my Father, Thou art the guide of my youth.' I had read these words before, but I never found and ate them with such relish as now. The condition—'Thou shalt not turn away from me'—seemed equally precious as the privilege of adoption. I thought I made or renewed an unreserved, unconditional, cheerful, eternal surrender of myself to God . . . . I have not only been willing for years to go on a mission, but more than willing. I have been anxious. The Lord may not count me worthy of the privilege. Let God reign.''

"I drink nothing but water. In preaching the Gospel to this poor dying people, I climb mountains and precipices, cross deep and dangerous ravines, ford or swim rapid rivers, travel from morning till night in drenching rains, endure the melting power of a tropical sun, endure weariness and painfulness. Thus I often travel from week to week, preaching four and five, and even eight times a day, and at night I lie down to sleep on the ground, more weary than the mower and the reaper return at night from the sultry harvest field. But my sleep is sweet, my heart is peaceful and my meditations are joyous. In the morning I rise refreshed and pursue my way among the poor fainting people, who are as sheep without a shepherd. With a simple diet, and with nothing but cold water for drink, I have not enjoyed better health for ten years than at present. We now live in a good frame house. The fruits of the land are abundant. The natural scenery of Hilo is the most beautiful I ever saw. The interior of this and all the islands is little less than a vast pile of mountains. The shores and valleys are usually the most fertile, and very few of the natives live more than a mile from the sea. The island on which we live is the largest of the group. Hilo and Puna extend a hundred miles along the Eastern and Southern shores, and contain a population of fifteen thousand souls. All that is done for this multitude as to schools and their eternal welfare, must be done by us and our associates, at this station. The whole extended coast can be traversed only on foot, and that with incredible fatigue. In passing through the district North of us we are obliged to cross more than 60 deep ravines and as many rapid streams.

"I have never had any misgivings as to my duty to labor and die for this people.

"I would not exchange my humble toil among them for the throne of England.

"At one place where I preached, there was an old and hardened Chief, who neither feared God nor regarded man. I preached to him fearlessly, personally, pointedly, calling him by name, and in the presence of his people I charged home his guilt upon him, and in the name of the Lord urged him to immediate repentance. He was much moved, and promised repentance the first day, but I was not satisfied that his proud heart was broken. On the second day I renewed the charge. He stood the siege for awhile, but at length his feelings became insuppressible, and all on a sudden he broke forth in a cry that almost rent the heavens. The sword of the Spirit was in his veins. He submitted on the spot, and appears like a newborn babe. The effect of this scene on the congregation was overwhelming. The place was shaken. Multitudes cried out for mercy, and multitudes turned to the Lord. I could tell you of many similar facts. God has done great things for us. I feel like lying in the dust and adoring His grace.

"October 15, 1839. The work has been excellent and glorious. In its awakening and overruling power it has far exceeded anything I have ever witnessed in America. I look to the life, to the conversation, to the actions for proof of the regenerating work of the Spirit, and such evidence I find in the peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, of thousands who were once hateful and hating one another. About 7000 have been baptized and received to the church. This fruit from among the Gentiles, these children, these sheaves, these crowns of rejoicing, while they cause cares and anxieties, they swell the heart with gratitude and hope and joy. And now to fit my people for the Church triumphant, and to meet them there; this is my solemn work."

"Why is it that all the professed disciples of the God of peace and love do not more freely exercise and more fully enjoy this heavenly gift? To dwell in God is to dwell in love, for God is love."

My heart is in eternal sympathy and full accord with the doctrine and the fact of the essential, vital unity of all believers, as also of the broad and boundless and eternal variety, in form and expression of spiritual life, in its inception, development, continuous growth and everlasting range, and all in sweet and beauteous harmony. Ah, how glorious the vision, when the material and mortal mirrors which now reflect the light of eternal love in shadows shall be removed, and all the redeemed shall see with open face the glory of God and reflect that image without the shadow of a cloud. This vision, though it now tarry, will come, nor will it tarry long.'

"At the first village the Holy Ghost fell on many that heard the word, and they left all and followed from place to place, weeping as they went. I should hardly dare tell my brethren generally what I saw in Puna. Some would call it Methodism, some fanaticism, wildfire, etc. I call it the power of God unto salvation, for I felt it in my soul before it fell upon my congregation. And it fell upon them under the most bold and searching and simple truth which I could present to their minds, and as the most unequivocal answer to prayer. . . . On the subject of receiving converts soon into the church, you and I probably agree. There is neither Scripture nor philosophy, nor prudence, in the opposite practice. I mean when we get good evidence of conversion. I avail myself of every help to learn the life of every one of the candidates, inquiring into the private and domestic habits of each individual, receiving no man simply on his own profession of love to Christ. I show the lists to Brother Lyman. If he knows anything good or bad of any one, he tells it. After this I call all these candidates, together and examine them individually in my own house. If they appear well I invite them to the church meeting, and there they are again examined before the whole church."

"It is late and I have just dismissed one hundred natives from my house whom I have been pointing to the Lamb of God. My body is all weak and trembling with weariness, but my heart is full of love, joyful in God our Savior. What tidings from Kohala? Do the banners of salvation wave in glory there? Are the devil's towers down? Are his bulwarks fallen? Tell me, Brother Watchman, tell me, for my soul is in expectation."

July 3. . . . "Sabbath was a glorious day here. I baptized and received seventeen hundred and five to this church. Yesterday I spent the afternoon in baptizing the children of the church, several hundreds in number. Sinners are coming in from Kau and all parts of Hilo and Puna, and hardened rebels are constantly breaking down. Some fall, but God's work does not fall to the ground."

August 28. . . . "I should have written sooner but have been absent touring two weeks. Have returned with arms full of sheaves. Heaven shouts it home. The Gospel was all triumphant. The prayers of some were wonderful—heaven-moving, heaven-opening. Jesus rode all glorious, all mighty to save. God girded a worm for the fight and the slain of the Lord were many.

December 23.—"I have been absent on a tour of eighteen days in Puna. I have returned weary, lame and sore, but rejoicing. I was much cheered by the steadfastness of the church; nearly all appear well. Out of two thousand church members in that district only ten are wandering. May the Good Shepherd preserve them into his heavenly kingdom. This field, my dear brother, is all battle ground. It belongs to Jesus. Satan disputes the title, contends for every inch of the ground, and fights hard on the retreat. If you find any of my sheep scattered and wandering in your field, you will do me a great favor to look after them. I shall ever esteem it a privilege to do the same by the sheep and lambs of your fold who may chance to wander, or to feed in this field. ... I have many joyful feelings, and many which are solemn and almost overpowering. For some of my little children I travail in birth again and again until Christ be formed in them. So it is with you. Let us hold on, my brother, for we shall reap if we faint not. There is glory in the prospect. The crown of life! O! I see it, all glittering, all glorious."

February 25, 1839.—"You say there will be noise where there is fighting and conquering. This is true, and there will be much noise before the world is converted to God. But I have little fear of the noise of praying Christians and wailing sinners, if so be the wailing is confined to time. In eternity it will roll up fearful and augmenting notes forever and ever. The most dangerous noise in a revival springs up, not, perhaps, from the devil, nor from scoffers and open opposers, but from false or timid, or dictatorial friends. I feel sure of this fact, and the whole history of the church presents an array of proof to this position."

March 10.—"It is Sabbath evening and I am weary. What I most fear is that the devil is not effectually dislodged from my own heart. There he effects an entrance, sometimes by open assault, sometimes in disguise. I shall conquer, for Jesus has bought me with a price. We do not run uncertainly; we do not fight as one that beateth the air. 'Lo! I am with you,' there my heart rests. On that rock I stand and bid the ocean rage and dash beneath; clasping that pillar of the eternal throne, I bid earth roll and tempests howl. ... I think I shall go to the General Meeting, though I feel deeply pained at the thought of leaving my people; I fear they will wander. But I want to see my Brethren, I want to engage in the deliberations of the Mission, as there will be important questions before us. I wish to represent this part of the field in person, and I need relaxation, as I have not rested one day for two years. Still I will not leave unless I hear the voice of my beloved Captain saying, 'Turn aside and rest awhile.'"

Regarding writing letters; "There is no earthly luxury more sweet to us than a good liberal bundle of (letters). Could I increase my time and my power of writing as much as I can expand my heart with love, you would all have speedy and full answers. But you have no idea how little my time is at my command. Let me say, in a word, that quick as I am, I am the only physician for a thousand bodily maladies, and am liable to be called at any moment by the cry of distress. Then I am the pastor for thousands of church members with their children. I must be arbiter or judge to settle their little difficulties which come up, as they did before Moses, from morning till night. Then funerals, sometimes two or three daily, besides almost daily preaching, with frequent tours and nameless cares. I have written this letter inch by inch; it is more than a week since I commenced it. Am often called from my study before I have written half a sentence, and as often kept out of it for days together. . . . Tell us of those events which would form the subject of inquiry and conversation were we to meet. This brings Home right before us, with its bright fireside, its endearing circle and all its cherished scenes. All the precious things about which the memory loves to linger, will be sealed up in everlasting oblivion to the distant missionary unless his private friends will, by their letters, fill this aching void, unless they will satisfy these natural and longing desires. My heart swells while I write, and melts while I think of you. But stronger cords, yes, stronger than death, bind me to the Savior and to the brethren for whom he died."

To his sister he wrote: October 16, 1837. . . "Your two kind letters of August and September, 1836, reached us the 21st of April, 1837. If you could see and know how much letters cheer and refresh us, you would never regret the labor in costs to write. I was happy that you wrote so many facts. Don't think that I shall not be interested to hear how many cows and sheep father keeps, how much hay he makes, and how much corn and rye he raises. All things which relate to the temporal as well as the eternal happiness of my beloved parents are none the less interesting to me because eighteen thousand miles of ocean roll between us. I care not how little cider is made from father's orchard; the less the better, to my mind, because I am very sure that cider clouds the mind, sours the temper and injures the health. I feel very certain that it has done much evil among the farmers of New England. I drink nothing but water. It is the pure nectar of heaven. It comes to us limpid and fresh and free from the hand of our heavenly Father. Those who are fond of stimulating drink may say that cold water will do for me as they suppose that my labor is light. But this is a great mistake. In preaching the Gospel to this poor, dying people, I climb mountains and precipices, cross deep and dangerous ravines, ford or swim rapid rivers, travel from morning till night in drenching rain, endure the melting power of a tropical sun, endure weariness and painfulness. Thus I often travel from week to week preaching four and five, and even eight times a day, and at night I lie down to sleep on the ground more weary than the mower and the reaper return at night from the sultry harvest field. But my sleep is sweet, my heart is peaceful and my meditations are joyous. In the morning I rise refreshed and pursue my way among the poor, fainting people, who are as sheep without a shepherd. With a simple diet and with nothing but cold water for drink, I have not enjoyed better health for ten years than at present.”

Regarding his calling: "I rejoice that dear father and mother were so well when you wrote. Do all you can, Mary, to make them happy. It would give me great pleasure to be near them and to cheer them in old age, did I not feel a most solemn assurance that God has called me to preach the Gospel to the heathen. Could the dearest friend I have on earth see the wretched and forlorn condition of the dying thousands around me, he could never wish to call me from my work of leading them to the Lamb of God, while one particle of the love of Jesus burnt in his bosom. I have never had any misgivings as to my duty to labor and die for this people. I could not leave them without violating the most solemn convictions of conscience. I would not exchange my humble toil among them for the throne of England."

Regarding good books and spiritual health: “Oh Mary, take care of your heart. Don't let the world ensnare you. Remember you have a soul to provide for and an eternity of bliss or woe before you. Read the Bible much. Read good books. Read with a dictionary and with thought. Draw books from the library; borrow, buy. Be more anxious to get a good library and a good store of knowledge than to get raiment and money.”

October 15, 1839.—"I have from time to time written to my friends of the progress of the work of grace among this poor people. The work has been excellent and glorious. In its awakening and overruling power it has far exceeded anything of the kind I ever witnessed in America. I look to the life, to the conversation, to the actions for proof of the regenerating work of the spirit, and such evidence I find in the peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, of thousands who were once hateful and hating one another. The mass of the people, old and young, in my parish profess to have been converted. About seven thousand have been baptized and received to the church. I am pressed above measure with watchings and preaching, and with cares and toils, which cannot be told. But the grace of God is sufficient and he sustains me wonderfully. I am preaching almost incessantly, and in my narrow sphere I am determined, through the grace of God, fully to preach the Gospel of Christ. Much of the time I am absent on tours, traveling over burning lava, fording and swimming rapid and dangerous rivers, climbing rugged and slippery precipices, and preaching in doors and out of doors, in wind and rain, sunshine and shade, as the circumstances may be. I am often unavoidably exposed by rains, wet garments, etc. But I am sure that labor, and sometimes hardship even, is the best physic for man. I need not tell you that I am exceeding joyful in all these labors. This fruit from among the Gentiles, these children, these sheaves, these crowns of rejoicing, while they cause cares and anxieties, they swell the heart with gratitude and hope and joy. And now to fit my people for the church triumphant, and to meet them there. This is my solemn work."

On the onslaughts of the enemy: January 20, 1841.—"Romanism is using all the efforts which flattery, subtlety, malice, bigotry and terror can command to overthrow the faith of the people and to supplant the religion of the Bible on these shores. Eight or ten Popish priests are said to be already here, and fifteen more are expected soon. They will soon plant themselves at all our important posts. As yet they have not gained a large number of proselytes, but their old leaven is diffusing and poisoning the minds of many. But one of our greatest evils is that the government has signed a treaty to admit ardent spirits into the land, and this has rolled back the flood of intemperance upon the nation from which they had but just escaped, and now the chiefs can make no laws to protect their people from the burning scourge without being branded by the French consul, and others of his stamp, with a breach of treaty and threatened with a war of swift retribution. So drunkenness has returned with bloated visage and fiery eyeballs, and seating himself on his magazines of death, deals out his vials of burning wrath. . . . The Vincennes [a ship], with the commander of the squadron, is now here, and has been lying at anchor for fifty days directly in front of our house. I suppose the expenses of this single ship, in full view from my study window, have been more during her stay at these islands, than those of this mission with all its operations for a year, and I have no doubt that more is annually expended by this little exploring squadron, than by the whole American church in the propagation of the Gospel among the heathen. When will as much zeal be displayed in exploring and subduing the world to Jesus, as in subduing and subjugating its resources and its glories to earthly princes?" The influences of this expedition were such upon the natives, that for years; as Mr. Coan says in his book, "the moral tone of the church and community could not be fully restored to its cheerful and normal state."

On the volcanoes that were erupting: "In the spring of 1839, we had a beautiful eruption in the old crater on the summit of Mauna Loa at the very spot where Wilkes encamped. The crater is deep and ample, and the fusion exhausted itself without overflowing the rim. At the distance of Hilo it was a pretty, not a terrific sight. A beautiful cloud pillar stood on the mountain summit by day, and this was converted into a pillar of fire by night. It was a beacon light. It was heaven's high monument, whose apex pierced the clouds, and whose pedestal was the everlasting hills. Thus it stood a lofty column shining in its solitary height for about two months, when the breath that kindled, extinguished it. I longed to visit it but could not. To have stood upon the verge of the deep caldron and looked down upon the fiery billows raging in the abyss below must have filled one with awe. Old Kilauea has had no freaks of horrid sport since you were here. The great boiling lake which you saw is now dammed over with a solid roof of hot lava, the apex of which is some seven hundred or eight hundred feet higher than was the surface of the fire lake in 1840. Steam and gases are constantly issuing from a thousand holes and fissures over the crater, but scarcely a spark of fire is to be seen by day or night. In fact Mother Pele has buried her fires, stopped her forges, extinguished her lamps and retired within the deep recesses of her infernal caverns. Is she dead? Does she sleep? or has she only closed her adamantine doors, and with Pluto and Vulcan descended to the fiery bowels of the earth to prepare with deeper secrecy her magazines of wrath which shall one day burst forth with more desolating terror? To us it is a lonely idea that the volcano should become extinct; for we confess that her mutterings, her thunderings, her flashings, the smoke of her nostrils and the shaking of her rocky ribs are music, beauty, sublimity and grandeur to us. They seem so like the voice of Almighty God, so like the footsteps of Deity.”

Our great desire should be to do and to suffer all the will of God, and to be prepared to enter into the rest which remaineth for His people. My friends must not grieve too much if I say to them as Paul did to his friends, that they shall see my face no more. I have a great work to do, a high commission to fulfill, and no money, no attachment to country, no recollections of childhood and youth, no fond longings to revisit home scenes, no tender ties of kindred, and no earthly motive can persuade me to leave this blessed calling. Not that I love parents and brothers less, but that I love Christ and his work more. Since my first enlistment in the warfare, I have never doubted, never regretted, never looked back, never sighed for objects left behind, never wished a discharge. And God has granted signal success to our weak and worthless labors. Through his grace I have been permitted to baptize and receive to his table more than ten thousand souls from among this heathen people. Of these spiritual children I have buried more than four thousand three hundred, and they have gone before their final judge. For these my cares and toils have ended. But nearly six thousand remain, and these call for more love and faith and patience than man can obtain from himself. Nothing but the grace of Christ in them and in their pastor, will ever secure their perseverance in the truth and their final victory over the world. There are yet those out of the ark, blinded, besotted, hardened in sin. These call for constant prayer and teaching, and from among these the Lord is adding to the church. . . . Should your Titus, the boy who often grieved your heart, be permitted through divine grace to meet you in heaven with a few thousands of blood-washed Hawaiians, you will not, surely, regret our short separation, or feel that a want of filial love led me to forsake my father's house to toil and die in this land of strangers and among the tawny sons of the Pacific. We believe the Lord led us here, and to Him we yield our all."

Speaking of the challenges of ministry: August 25, 1857. . . . "You are charmed with the physical and the spiritual works of God. You gaze, you wonder, you adore. And these are my feelings, deepened and intensified by a residence of more than twenty-two years. Should man withhold his praise for the grace here displayed, these mountains and these rocks would cry out. If we admire and adore with enthusiasm it is not without cause. Your estimate of the character of this people is, I think, correct. Like other parts of Christendom, we have first a class of humble, spiritual and steadfast disciples; these are numerous, and they are 'our joy and our crown.' Second, an impulsive class, now blazing like a comet, and anon lost like a comet in the distance—“Seesaw” Christians. A third class are never cold or hot—mere negatives, lead. Another class are disturbing forces, calling for constant watching; under discipline most of the time—sinning, confessing, promising, relapsing. A fifth class run with us a short way, and apostatize— wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Another class have made no efforts on the subject of Christianity from the beginning. They are entrenched in the blindness and hardness of heathenism. . . . You need not ask if I love the natives. To me they seem like brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends. Twenty times, perhaps, since we have sojourned here I have dreamed of being in America, looking and longing for a vessel to take me back to my dear islet and my loved flock, and on wakening from such anxious dreams my soul was filled with joy and thankful praise to find myself here in my Eden and with my people. We feel humbled in reading your commendations of our toils and successes. God knows our manifold sins and our utter demerits. Alas! our leanness. I tremble in view of unfaithfulness, and I do think I abhor my own righteousness. Mercy, grace—for these I plead. All my labors and prayers seem so defiled with sin that they stare on me appallingly. I dare not mention them before God. I dare not meet them at his tribunal. I want a better righteousness."

On Supporting God’s Work: "The Hawaiians are poor, and yet as to their percentage of giving, there is no comparison between our native churches and the wealthy members of your churches in the United States. They give a thousand per cent, more than your rich men. And they often do it with shining faces and jubilant hearts. But all do not give. We have the stingy and the scoffer. I usually preach a missionary sermon, or something connected with generosity, on the first Sabbath of every month, giving my people such facts as keep them informed on what God and his children are doing to evangelize the nations. Three words embrace our whole commission to the heathen, viz: Pray! Give! Go! And how can a man pray 'Thy kingdom come,' while he gives nothing, or nothing worthy of a man, to help the conquests and enlargements of this kingdom? How can the ambassadors of the Lord go without means of support? or preach to the heathen unless they be sent? What must we think of pastors and churches who are often chanting 'The Lord's Prayer,' without giving or going? Will not their very prayers condemn them before the final judge?

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