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His Early Years
Titus Coan was born in Killington, Conn., February 1, 1801.
He grew up in a home "so beautifully ordered by pious parents, that obedience, truthfulness, and filial and fraternal affection were the characteristics of the eight children reared there."
The influence of such a childhood was never lost. Vigorous youthful sports, and severer toils upon his father's farm, developed and strengthened his sturdy frame. Self-reliance and quiet dignity were the outgrowth of responsibilities early assumed at the teacher's desk of the village school.
After seven winters passed in teaching in the neighboring towns, he accepted a situation at Riga, N. Y., where his brother George was settled as pastor. Here he was led to the companionship of ministers by whose example and conversation his own soul was quickened in all its higher impulses. Here, too, he met with her who was to be his peerless helper. Thoughtful and sober, as he had been for years, he had as yet come to no fixed determination to enlist on the Lord's side.
When, at last, this resolve was made, it was one, he says, in which he was greatly helped, comforted and established, so that "duty done for Christ was a sweet and joyous pleasure.''
But how could he best serve the Master? Of the professions only the ministry attracted him, and for this he felt entirely unfit and unworthy. His choice, therefore, was for a business career, following which he meant to be an active and devoted layman. And for such a career, doubtless, his talents fitted him. His perfect integrity, his abhorrence of debt, which led to an early formed and conscientiously practiced rule of his life never to owe a farthing which he had not means to pay, his sound judgment, unflagging energy and uniform urbanity of manner, would have secured for him a leading place in business circles, and guaranteed pecuniary success. But when he had planned for this the Lord revealed another way.
God's providences, the advice of thoughtful friends, and the convictions which sprang from his own religious vitality, led him to reconsider his decision, and to fix upon the ministry. In June, 1831, he entered the middle class of Auburn Theological Seminary. He is remembered by those who knew him then as "unostentatious, devotedly pious, and possessed of a very sweet spirit."
The following extracts will be mostly from his letters:
"Auburn, July, 1831. 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."
"January, 1832. 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."
"March, 1832. 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 disquisitions, 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.''
"December, 1832. 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.''
"January, 1833. God blesses me abundantly. My soul is calm and serene. My cup runs over. I sometimes seem to bathe in an ocean of tenderness, and love, and bliss. I have not yet offered myself formally to the Board. Dr. Richards says he can cheerfully recommend me to them. The Lord will direct. I know He will. I don't feel the least anxiety about my future path. Only to be holy"
Early Ministry Efforts
On the 17th of April, 1833, the Presbytery of Cayuga county, meeting in Auburn, N. Y., licensed Titus Coan to preach, and he spent his next vacation at Rochester, where he supplied a vacant pulpit. From this place he writes:
May 18th, 1833. "Beloved Father—I joyfully embrace the opportunity to send you a line by Heman, who has called on me to-day, on his way to Conn. Hitherto the Lord has blessed me beyond my fondest hopes. I have had health and have succeeded in my studies, and have been brought into the holy ministry under circumstances and prospects which impose peculiar obligations, and call for peculiar gratitude and undivided consecration to the work of the Lord. Ever since I tasted the love of God my heart has been turned towards the benighted heathen, although once I did not suffer myself to indulge a distant hope of laboring among them. I feel poorly qualified and very unworthy to become a missionary of the Cross, but the heathen are perishing by millions every year, and the command of Christ ‘Go ye into all the world,' has been rolling down through 1800 years upon the dull ears of a worldly, unbelieving Church, and somebody must go; therefore, if those who are best qualified will not break away from the endearments of home, and obey the command, others who are willing must take the field against the dark empire of Satan in heathen lands. To me it appears an unspeakable privilege to spend my days in leading the wandering and benighted pagan to the Lamb of God, in pointing him to that bright Morning Star which gilds the sacred page with such glory, and sheds such effulgence on the grave and on the land beyond the flood. Will my dear father pray for me that I may have humility and faith, and be an instrument of honoring my Master in the conversion of souls?"
He resumed his course of study at Auburn, and soon after "came the call to embark in the hazardous Patagonian enterprise."
He had been unanimously appointed by the Prudential Committee as a missionary of the American Board, and selected as one of two to go to Patagonia [Patagonia is the southernmost portion of South America], and explore it, in order to ascertain whether it could be wisely entered as a mission field. ,
He sought the advice of his preceptors, and the venerable Dr. Richards, speaking for the faculty, assured Mr. Coan of their approval of the proposed mission; that he should be honorably released from the further duties of the Seminary, and that their prayers should go with him. He hastened to Rochester that he might confer with his espoused [Fidelia Church]. They had parted but a little while before in the hope of an early reunion, and a nuptial day that should consummate their long-pledged vows. But this reunion was unexpected. The letter of the secretary was put into Miss Church's hand in silence. As she read her emotions deepened, her tears flowed. What a change of situation! What an uprooting of long-cherished hopes! The struggle was intense, Soon, however, faith gained the victory. And the memorable answer was given:—"My dear, you must go."
This was in accordance with his own decision, and there was no longer a doubt to deter him. Brief visits were made in Western New York to bid brothers and friends farewell, and then his face turned eastward for ordination and embarkation.
His book published in 1880, entitled "Adventures in Patagonia," is a thrilling narrative of the experiences of the two young men among the wild natives of that inhospitable land. Taking passage in a vessel from New York, August 16, 1833, they were put off in Eastern Patagonia, and left to share for months the lot of the wandering tribes which took them under their care.
Titus Coan had adopted from firm conviction the principles of peace, and declined to take any weapon for defence. The first act of the natives on finding them was to search their clothing thoroughly, and on finding no weapons, they spared them and treated them with confidence. An expedition from England had been previously sent on the same errand for which they went, but taking weapons they fell a prey to the savages. When they had spent sufficient time to acquaint themselves with the country and people, Titus Coan and his companion found an opportunity to get on board a passing vessel, and after nine months' absence returned in safety.
To the Sandwich Island Mission
He was soon after appointed to the Sandwich Island Mission [Hawaiian Islands]—the field of his choice. On the 3d of January, 1834, he was united in marriage to Fidelia Church, and soon after wrote from Boston:
"Dec. 3, 1834. We have now been here nearly two weeks waiting for the ship to be ready. We hope to go tomorrow. Twelve missionaries sailed to-day for South eastern Africa. There are eight of our number, making twenty in all who met in this city at the same time. We received our instructions together on Sunday evening, the 23d of November in Park St. Church. The meeting was crowded, solemn and impressive. The people of Boston take a deep interest in the cause of missions, and are very hospitable to missionaries."
A picture of their voyage is given in the following letter to his brother:
"Ship Hellespont. At Sea, Jan. 27, 1835.
"We have been almost two months on the great and wide sea, on which are things innumerable, and yet we have hardly seen a living thing beneath, around, or above us since our embarkation. . . You have learned that we left Boston on the 5th of December. It was a day of deep interest. A large company of friends collected on the wharf to witness our embarkation, and to unite in one last prayer and one final song of praise with us, until we bow around the throne of our Common Father and mingle our voices with the great multitude, whose notes are like 'many waters and like mighty thunderings.' As the sails of our gallant ship were unfurled to the breeze, and we glided down the smooth bay, and as we exchanged the last signals of adieus with weeping friends, and gazed upon the city, the temples, and hills of the Pilgrims as they faded in the distance, we thought and felt and wept. But we were not sad. Oh, no! though our emotions were tender and strong, they were joyful. Our Master left a better country for our sake, and his example and the pledges of his presence and fellowship were enough to cheer us. Our ship is 128 feet long, 28 feet wide and 18 feet deep. We missionaries have four temporary rooms, 6 feet by 5 feet, built directly in front of the steerage, and into these rooms we entered 'two and two.' Our rooms are lighted only by one solid piece of glass, 6 inches by 2 inches, set in the deck over our heads. We have two chests, four trunks, a medicine chest, and writing-desk, several bags, bundles, boxes, etc.; a looking-glass, some bookshelves, a chair, a lamp, a pitcher suspended in a cot like a swallow's nest, a berth, garments hung around the walls, etc. What a little creature man is! and what an insignificant space in God's universe he needs to put himself in. I had forgotten to tell you that our little room contained as happy a husband and wife as ever shone in a palace, and besides we often get parents' and brothers and sisters and multitudes of dear ones with us, and there is room enough for them all; and sometimes our hearts grow and enlarge, and we feel that we could entertain all the Church militant and the Church triumphant, with our Elder Brother, in this little apartment. . . . Capt. Henry is very kind, and does all he can to make us comfortable. She is a temperance ship. The Captain allows preaching on the Sabbath, and the distribution of tracts, but no personal conversation with the sailors. In the mission family we have prayers morning and evening, and a Bible class exercise twice a week. The first two or three weeks of our voyage were dreadfully boisterous—a violent storm raged almost without intermission. The wind howled and the sea roared and foamed, and rolled its angry billows to the clouds. Our ship is heavily laden, and every wave seemed to sweep over her like a log. She labored and creaked and groaned as if in the agonies of dissolution. But what was worse than this, we found that her decks leaked, and during the whole storm the cabin and all our rooms were constantly drenched,—even our beds were insecure; but we were obliged to sleep in them wet, with the water dripping in our faces. There was no remedy; to calk was impossible, and every seaman was at his wits' end to manage the ship and keep her above water. For two or three days all our company were sea-sick and unable to rise or to help one another. But out of all these troubles the Lord delivered us, and we are now in good health and pursuing our voyage prosperously." After a voyage of six months he writes:
"Honolulu, June 26th, 1835 My eyes at last behold these 'Isles afar off,’ and my feet tread on these long-desired shores. But I would here first record the goodness of God in guiding us through all the perils of the deep, and in bringing us to the field of our labors. On the morning of the 5th inst., just six months from the time we lost sight of our native land, we first descried the island of Hawaii, at the distance of 60 or 70 miles. On the morning of the 6th we made this island (Oahu), and at 10 A. M. dropped anchor in the harbor. All the missionaries in the islands, except two, with their wives and little ones, were assembled in general meeting at this place, according to their annual custom. On hearing of our arrival Messrs. Bingham, Chamberlain and Armstrong came to the ship in a boat to welcome and to take us on shore. When we landed we found the band of brethren and sisters at the sea-side awaiting our arrival and ready to embrace us. Every heart seemed to feel more than it could utter. What first struck me with peculiar force was the plain attire and simple manners of the missionaries, but above all the wasting inroads which climate and toil had evidently made on the constitutions of this beloved band of disciples. From the shore we walked up through the town one mile to the mission houses, where all joined in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God, and then united in prayer. At half past four P.M. I went with Bro. Bingham to the chapel. After services Mr. B. introduced me to the governess, and some of the high chiefs, who expressed much joy at the arrival of more teachers on their shores. When we turned from our interview with the chiefs, the common people pressed around me in crowds, each one striving to grasp my hand and express his warm welcome. For a long time I stood and received the hands of individuals in rapid succession, each one expressing 'Aloha' (love to you). As a great many were unable to get near me in the chapel they arranged themselves by the wayside the whole distance from the church to Mr. B.'s house, and held out their hands as I passed. On the Sabbath we attended church with some 1500. The chapel is 180 feet long and 60 wide. Its framework is of posts and poles, and it is thatched all over with long grass. The chiefs and people are poorly clad and sit upon mats spread on the ground. . . I long to go into the work. I think this is my proper field of labor, and I would not go back for the world, unless I knew it to be the will of God. Our location will be Hilo, on Hawaii. Our associate is to be Rev. Mr. Lyman. We shall probably be 250 miles from medical aid and can expect none. We have only to trust in God."
The American Journal of Arts and Sciences long ago spoke of T. C. as a "prince of pen painters." Of their Hilo home, which was named the "Emerald Bower," and which was at first “a picture of loveliness" he wrote, forty years later, the charming description which follows:
"The ecstatic romance with which I first saw the Emerald Isles has not abated by familiarity or by age. The picture is photographed in unfading tints upon my heart, and it has become to me the romance of reality. Where can you find within so small a space such a collecting, such massing, such blending of the bland, the beautiful, the exquisite, the gorgeous, the grand and terrific as on Hawaii?
"Along the summits of our lofty mountains the God of glory thundereth, while the overhanging clouds send down the rattling hail, and drop the fleecy snow. There telluric fires find vent and send up columns of melted rocks to the heavens, spreading out in baleful glare like a burning firmament. The crashing thunder, the vivid lightning, the rending earthquake and the bursting volcano we have in the near proximity of the peaceful village, the grassy landscape, the sweet flower-garden, the cultivated field, the babbling brooks, the tropical fruits and ferns, the waving palm, the golden sunshine, the stellar vault above, and the surrounding ocean whose swelling bosom moves with the zephyr and the tempest, while her white foam girdles with glory our rock-bound shores."
It was in the summer of 1835 that T. C. was settled in Hilo as an associate missionary with David B. Lyman. In the following year, 1836, Daniel Wheeler visited the Sandwich Islands, and among other points, his vessel, the " Henry Freeling," touched at Hilo. We have in his Journal an interesting incident connected with this visit. When he had taken the two missionaries on board his vessel, to give them a passage to the General Meeting at Honolulu, they were detained some time for want of wind. This gave an opportunity for a couple of natives, who wished to be married before the departure of the missionaries, to come off in a canoe to the vessel and have it accomplished. The beautiful letter received by Daniel and Charles Wheeler from the General Meeting that year has appended to it a long list of names venerable in the Sandwich Island Mission, and among them are those of David B. Lyman and Titus Coan.
The Largest Church in the World
In their associated work at Hilo, D. B. Lyman was assigned to the charge of a Boarding School, and T. C. to the work of the Ministry and Pastoral Oversight. For nearly 50 years they labored side by side, each with eminent success in his department. In the N. Y. Independent a few weeks ago, we had the tidings of the death of David B. Lyman, and a brief and beautiful sketch of his remarkable life and work. Titus Coan's charge extended over the two large districts of Hilo and Puna, where he was instrumental in gathering nearly 15.000 from heathenism, and for a long time was said to have under his care the largest church in the world.
A thrilling narrative of his early labors was published under the title of "Four memorable years at Hilo," and reissued in tract form several years ago, by a "Tract Association" of Wilmington, Del. In the autumn of 1837 a protracted meeting of eight days was held at the Station, of which T. Coan wrote: ''God wrought for us. I opened the meeting with a sermon from the text, 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord.' Great effect was produced. On the second day of the meeting God came in terror. The sea rose suddenly to the perpendicular height of 15 or 20 feet, and fell in one mountain wave upon the shore, sweeping away nearly 100 houses with all their tenants. All was sudden as a peal of thunder. No premonitions were given. None had time to flee. The scene was awful. Hundreds were engulfed in a moment. To the people the event was as the voice of God speaking to them from out of heaven, 'Be ye also ready.'
"Time swept on. The work deepened and widened. Thousands on thousands thronged the courts of the Lord. Everywhere the trumpet of jubilee sounded loud and long, and as clouds, and as doves to their windows, so ransomed sinners flocked to Christ."
A Letter of Titus Coan to L. Lyons
Fellow students at Auburn in 1831, Lorenzo Lyons and Titus Coan had often conversed together concerning the Kingdom of Christ, and together prayed for its advancement. Afterwards they were co-laborers in the same mission, dwelling upon the same island for almost 50 years. A wearisome road of 70 miles separated the two friends and made visits rare, but letters were frequent, and were as glowing coals from their consecrated hearts.
"In reviewing these letters," L. Lyons writes, "the tears have flowed, and I could not refrain from crying aloud. I stood before the picture of my sainted brother, and it seemed to me as if I could almost hear him speaking in his soul-inspiring strains. We were in deep sympathy, and unbosomed our hearts, our joys, our longings to each other."
"Nov. 24, 1837. We have a glorious work of Grace here. Hundreds think they are converted. How many will bring forth fruits meet for repentance remains to be seen. That very many are born of God is to my mind as sure as that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. If I can judge of my own feelings, I never took hold of the work of pulling sinners out of the fire with more faith and more unshaken confidence of success than at this time, and I never saw God's work more manifest.
"Dec. 25. This is God's work, and it will go on. Our meetings are more and more crowded. I preach and talk to multitudes every day. One hundred will probably be added to this church on the first Sabbath in January. Let 1838 be a year of jubilee to these islands. God help you, my brother. Be strong, go on, do valiantly. Fear nothing but sin. Look up. Listen to the voice that says, ‘Lo, I am with you always.' Preach boldly, plainly, in living faith, in burning love, and in high and holy expectation of success."
The Revival Spread
For two years following the date of the last extracts, 1838 and 1839, the great revival which spread over the Islands, continued, and T. C. writes after a tour through Hilo:
"August 2, 1839. The whole mass of the people was moved as by one mighty impulse, and the wave of salvation seemed to roll broader and deeper through all the course till I reached the station. Scarcely a careless sinner was left unarrested. Crowds followed me from place to place, weeping and inquiring the way to Zion. I worked incessantly from morning to night, and sometimes until midnight. I reached home rather way-worn and exhausted in body, but my heart is exceedingly strengthened in the Lord; my soul is lifted up, and my spirit triumphs in my Redeemer.''
The following extracts from a letter to his sister, give a little glimpse of the toil of these years, and of his habits of life:
"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."
Hardly had the four memorable years passed by when there were those trials of faith, and fans to winnow the church, that led him to write:
"I see much that might frighten and chase a faint-hearted soldier. Powerful causes have been operating to quench the Spirit and to turn off the attention of the people from the great concerns of eternity. But still," he adds, "my soul exults in hope. Can God give His heritage to reproach? Shame on us if we despond. Confusion on us if we flee or fear."
In 1840 occurred the first great eruption from Kilauea which had taken place since 1823. Since then there have been six great eruptions of Mauna Loa, besides many lesser eruptions, earthquakes and volcanic waves, all of which phenomena were observed and reported by Titus Coan.
These graphic descriptions have been published years ago, and received as very valuable contributions to geological science. Says Prof. W. D. Alexander: '' No history of the two volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea can be written which will not be largely based on Mr. Coan's writings." This fact will be evident to any one who will read "Dana's Geology," or Brigham's " Monograph on Hawaiian Volcanoes."
A Return Visit to the Mainland
It was after an absence of more than thirty-five years that Titus and Fidelia Coan revisited their native land. An almost playful prophecy on the part of the latter when about to leave the United States in 1834, that they would return when a railroad across the continent should be completed, had its fulfillment in the spring of 1870.
Dr. Field, in his Introduction to "Adventures in Patagonia," thus writes of their return: "When they came back they found another world than that which they had left. They made their outward voyage in a small sailing vessel. They returned in a steamship. When they landed in San Francisco, they had scarcely seen a railroad. Now they were whirled in fire-drawn cars up the mountains and over the plains, across the whole breadth of the continent. The fame of the missionary had gone before him, and wherever he came among the churches he was welcomed with an enthusiasm such as had not been manifested since the heroic Judson came back from Burma years before."
They were absent from Hawaii eleven months, and visited twenty States and Territories. They will be remembered by Friends who saw and heard them at West Branch, Iowa, in Philadelphia and elsewhere. They held the Society of Friends in high esteem, and largely appreciated its principles and spiritual views. When they enjoyed the privilege they had long desired of attending a meeting for worship with Friends,—one which was favored with an impressive solemnity from the sensible presence of the Lord, F. C. remarked that "she had expected much, but she could say, in reference to the preciousness of such spiritual worship and communion, as the Queen of Sheba said after her visit to Solomon, 'the half had not been told her.'"
In a letter, written during this visit to the States, T. Coan writes:
"Feb. 18, 1871. . . . Nothing short of the full-orbed glory of Jesus, and the completed fruition of heaven affords so much joy and satisfaction, as the true communion of saints on earth.
"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."
Speaking of the blessings of peace that will attend the greater coming of Christ's kingdom, he wrote: "All this must come to pass, and its coming will be hastened just in proportion as Christians one by one come out of cruel and bloody Babylon, and by word and deed, and by patient suffering if called to it, bear witness against the heathenish and the brutal customs of war. War will never be abolished by the timid, the conservative, and the wise men of this world, who call peace men and peace societies foolish and fanatical; who say 'you must take the world as you find it,' 'you cannot stop war, and all your theories on the subject of peace are Utopian, because impracticable, and you may as well let the matter take care of itself But war will cease in spite of these reasons, and it would cease at once all over Christendom if every professor of the Christian religion would arise and shake himself from the blinding dust of the war system, and resolve to have no more to do with the bloody code, but to obey the Royal law, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Such a united and decided testimony from the church, headed by her cloven-tongued ministry, and her thunder-toned presses, would silence all the batteries of our enemies, and stanch the red blood that flows in broad waves over the world."
"June 26, 1875. . . . 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.''
The following passage is from a letter, written to his children on his 80th birthday, February1, 1881:
"God gave me a happy childhood, a cheerful youth, a vigorous manhood and now a calm old age; and my heart is still young, and in sweet sympathy with all the radiant beauties of nature and in harmony with the diapason of the illimitable universe. I am not old, I cannot be old, for I am in early childhood,—in the first dawn of my being,—and I am now studying the alphabet of immortality. Ah the illimitable, the immeasurable, the boundless, the Infinite that spreads around and rises above me, without horizon and without zenith.''
His Final Days
For those who would read more of the work and words of this gifted and saintly Christian missionary, the book itself will be desired. These extracts will close with a few selections from the account of his death:
On the morning of the 15th of September, 1882, feeling the pressure of his work somewhat lifted after the sessions of the East Hawaii Association had just closed at Hilo, he resolved to "break out," saying, "I will go among the people today to find a little exercise and recreation." At family worship that morning the Psalm in course was the 103d. He read it with deep feeling, pausing a little to talk about the Lord's putting our sins from us "as far as the East is from the West," and about the precious thought of the Heavenly Father's pity for His children. A tender pathos was in his voice while he read, "As for man his days are as grass," &c. Yet he knew not, as he laid down the Bible, that he should never again read from its sacred pages, and that the place at which he knelt to pray would know him no more. After walking, and writing a letter to a nephew, he once more dipped his pen and wrote to his "ever dear brother Lyons," but the letter was never finished. Reading and sweet discourse filled the evening hours of that day.
On the following morning a messenger came, bearing' summons from the Master. He called him a "beautiful messenger," and told us he had come to bid him away. He said he believed it was his time to go, and with solemn earnestness repeated Paul's memorable words, "The time of my departure is at hand," &c. His bodily powers failed rapidly, but his soul triumphed and testified of his faith and love in such exultant strains, it seemed as if he were improvising some "psalm of life," of which the frequent refrain was, "Glory! glory! hallelujah!" Then exhausted, he slept. When roused by direction of the doctor to take medicine, he said, "O, why did you call me back? I was almost home in my Father's house.'' Having somewhat revived, he said to his wife, "If I do not go today it will be a disappointment to me; but if you say I must stay, and your prayers prevail, I am willing to remain. Let His will be done entirety."
The "abundant entrance” was not to be at once. Afterwards, as wearisome days and nights were appointed him, he bore witness to the presence of the Comforter. "I know it is of the Lord,'' he would say, "and what He does is best. I bow to His will entirely, entirely." For two and a half months he lingered on this border land, reviving so as to receive visits from his friends and his people.
There were many touching scenes through all these days. Aged men, who in their prime had been the companions of the beloved missionary in his tours, came long distances to speak once more with their revered teacher. Leaving their shoes at an outer door, they stepped softly into the room where he lay, and with tears coursing down their cheeks, pressed the hand that had so often been extended to them. Then, kneeling by the bedside, they would pour out their grief in tender prayer to God.
A writer of one of the testimonials concerning him, says: "The last 76 days of his earthly life are to me the most interesting 76 days of his career beneath the sun, in that his previously hidden little child life in Christ Jesus from that time forth blossomed out so that those who beheld him saw almost nothing else."
The final summons came suddenly on the 1st of December, 1882. A pallor and look of pain passed over his face. He said, "I am going.'' Three words of "Farewell," spoken calmly, slowly; the name of Jesus whispered with the latest breath, and then he stood before the King,
"Faultless in His glory's presence, Faultless in that dazzling light." J. B.
Taken from the Friends' Review, Volume 38, edited by Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis