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to Europe, he passed into the service of the East India Company, and sailed to Bengal as mate of one of the Company's ships. His reputation was already high as a brave man and a skilful mariner ; and, immediately on his arrival in the East, it procured him friends and promotion. He was sent to the Nicobar islands as the bearer of important despatches, and might have easily obtained such a permanent quiet post as would have secured him a fair income, had he not preferred to fight his way to higher favor through arduous service, and a bold defiance of imminent dangers. The British troops, under Sir Eyre Coote, being in hazard of starvation, their supplies being cut off by a French squadron at sea, and by the army of Hyder Ali on land, the governor of Madras offered Mr. Wilson four hundred pagodas if he would undertake to carry some ships, with provisions, past the enemy's fleet for their relief. Mr. Wilson accomplished the feat, earning by it about a thousand pounds in money, and a vast increase of the sort of fame which was likely to lead to great wealth.
Captain Wilson, after making this very lucrative adventure, felt satisfied that he could not do better than play the same game as many times over as possible. He accordingly availed himself of his reputation, to procure constant employment in conveying provisions or military stores through such passages as were watched or guarded by the enemy. Often did he elude danger, but eventually fell into the hands of the French, and was carried prisoner Cuddalore. He, however, effected his escape, was retaken, and carried to Seringapatam, where he was treated with merciless severity. His imprisonment here lasted twenty-two months, and was brought to an end through the victories of Sir Eyre Coote.
Captain Wilson, as soon as his enfeebled strength would admit of his removal, joined some of his countrymen, and proceeded to Madras.
As before, his whole ambition was to acquire wealth, reckless of any danger to which it might expose him; and for eighteen months he continued to stake his life on successive casts for gain, and was always a winner, his health and safety passing almost, or altogether, with impunity. He was adroit as well as daring. Having become both sharer and commander of a ship, he, on one occasion, took advantage of a sudden shift of the wind to get a long start of a fleet of merchantmen bound for the same port as himself; and, arriving at his destination without a competitor, the market before him empty, and the demand brisk for the goods with which he was cargoed, he sold his stock at vastly high prices, and by one speculation realized, in a few days, what many a man would have pronounced a handsome fortune. Even he himself began to think that he had at last secured as much wealth as would procure him all the possible comforts of life; and, being now in full possession of what he esteemed the chief good, he resolved to leave India, and embarked, in the year 1794, as a passenger for England.
His conversion appears to have been effected chiefly by the instrumentality of the Rev. J. Griffin, of Portsea, of whose church he became a member in 1796. He, immediately after, took part in the formation and early operations of the London Missionary Society; and, in August of the same year, he sailed, as we have just stated, from the river Thames, as commander of the Society's ship Duff, to plant Missionary settlements in Tahiti and other islands of the South Seas. From this engagement he was released in 1798, and died on the 12th August, 1814.
The subsequent history of this Mission is so well known, that we do not think it necessary to recapitulate it. But as the claim of our nation to Tahiti has been of late the subject of much interest, we cannot withhold Captain Wilson's account of the cession of Mattavai to our Missionaries on the 16th of March, 1797.
“ This being the day appointed by Pomarre for ceding in form the district of Mattavai to the English, the captain landed on Point Venus, was there received by the chief, and conducted near to the missionary house. Most of the brethren from the ship, and all on shore, were present at the ceremony. Peter the Swede, took, as usual, the office of interpreter. The scene was laid before the door of the missionary house (see the cut); at some distance from which, a rope was stretched to keep off the crowd ; Pomarre, Iddeah, Otoo, his wife, and brothers, went also without the ropes. Manne Manne, who alone acted the part of conveyancer, remained within with the captain and brethren. He then desired Peter to tell the captain all that he should say, and began by prefacing his oration with towa ! towa! (hear!)
in order to attract general attention; then went on enumerating all the eatooas of Otaheite, Eimeo, and the Society Isles ; next the districts and their chiefs in regular order ; and lastly, the ships and their commanders, from Wallis, Bougainville and Cook, down to the Duff and her captain ; concluding with the formal surrender of the district of Mattavai ; observing that we might take what houses, trees, fruits, hogs, &c. we thought proper. This strange speech was delivered very deliberately by the old priest, who, while he spoke, sat in an odd posture, half bent upon his heels, holding with one hand the rope, and frequently scratching his head and rubbing his eyes with the other. These peculiarities were caught by his mimicking countrymen, who afterwards turned them into humourous pantomime."
THE BIBLE, AN OLD BOOK.
(Being a popular attempt to shew the antiquity of Scripture, in a letter from a father to his son.)
My Dear WILBERFORCE,—You tell me that it has lately been
your misfortune to hear the validity of the Holy Scriptures assailed, without being able to offer what you considered any good arguments in refutation of the charges brought against them. I perfectly understand the nature of the insinuations to which you refer, from my having been in a similar manner beset by the enemies of revelation, when on a visit to that part of the country to which you refer. If I may conjecture what you
have not very fully expressed, I should suppose, from your letter, that the opponents of the Bible have been bringing forward various illustrations of its symbols, rites, facts, and doctrines, from what they call “heathen antiquity;" and then, assuming that the inspired writers borrowed these things from paganism, have denounced all religions, as alike founded in priestcraft and delusion.
In attempting, my dear boy, to arm you for the warfare in which it is likely you may be engaged, I might say much about the folly of supposing for a moment that the pure and perfect word of God could be in any way borrowed from the silly, incon
sistent, contradictory, obscene fables of heathenism: but I would rather, for the present, allow the question to turn solely upon the point of superior antiquity; for you will see at once that if I succeed in shewing the Bible to be many centuries older than the oldest of these profane traditions, it will be quite evident that it cannot be borrowed from them.
We know that the heathens have their fragments of pretended revelations at the present day, but when they came into being, we are not informed at all. Nothing approaching to proof that they are even a thousand years old has ever been adduced, and until this can be done, you have no reason to fear any ill consequences to Christianity. I trust that you are grateful (as I am anxious to be) that we who profess the gospel are differently situated. We have not followed cunningly devised fables. All that I think you need ask at present of your infidel assailants, is that they would give you as connected a chain of evidence for the antiquity of their dogmas, as you will find can be brought forward in favor of the Bible; you will not expect that it should be perfect, especially as my time and space are limited, but such as it is, I am much mistaken if it be not infinitely more complete than anything they can adduce in behalf of their statements.
The evidence, my dear Wilberforce, to which I shall direct your attention is of two kinds-outward and inward. You know what is meant by outward evidence; it is evidence collected from extraneous and independent sources to the truth of any particular document or testimony. When a will, for instance, is proved, the witnesses to the signing of that will, attest it to be a genuine document, signed, sealed, and delivered by the testator. When the character of any individual is implicated in an action at law, witnesses are called to state all they know about it, and prove whether or not the assumption is correct. This is outward evidence—it is one man's testimony to another, or to some deed or instrument which he has uttered. The question then is, have we any evidence of this kind relative to the Bible? Decidedly we have; though owing to the great antiquity of the Old Testament, this part of our testimony is less satisfactory than the other. Infidels are very ready to throw down the gauntlet, and say, “ Bring up your heathen writers who confirm the Bible, and we will listen to them!" But this they know to be a cowardly and disingenuous taunt, for we have no heathen writers, except mythologists and poets, (whose very business it was to propagate falsehood,) until the time of Herodotus, just as the lamp of Old Testament prophecy was flashing in the socket, preparatory to its utter extinction in the days of Malachi. And yet we are not left altogether without witness to the truth of the early Scriptures, since the existing monuments of Egypt and other countries supply a variety of illustrations to the minute fidelity of the inspired writings.
We have, moreover, a cloud of witnesses—hostile, heathen, and Jewish, to say nothing of Christian writers, (whom your opponents will of course charge with partiality,) proving the existence of the New Testament, and the actual occurrence of many of the events it records, cotemporary with, and immediately following the apostolic times; the Jewish Talmuds speak of the birth, miracles, and cruel death of Christ, and Josephus, in a passage which has been questioned for no other reason than its plainness, refers to “ the Christ” by name. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says that the Christians were so named from Christus, who in the reign of Tiberius was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate. Suetonius, Martial, Juvenal, Pliny the younger, the emperor Hadrian, and others, speak of the persecutions and sufferings of the Christians. Celsus, in the second; Porphyry, in the third; and the emperor Julian, in the fourth centuries, set themselves to refute the books of the Christians, by which it is incontrovertibly evident from the quotations cited, and the doctrines held up to ridicule, they meant the New Testament; and as Chrysostom shrewdly remarks of the first, -"it is presumed they did not oppose writings that were published since their times.”
Now the New Testament so repeatedly and unequivocally recognizes not only the existence of the Old, but its divine authority, that the external proofs which apply to the former, conduce indirectly to establish the claims of the latter.
Let us now, my dear Wilberforce, turn our attention to the inward evidence to the antiquity of the Scriptures. If you
look at the title page of your Bible, (it was the gift of your dear mother !) you may read as follows,