The diary of David Cargill – Part 29

Reverend David Cargill. Picture: SUPPLIED

UILIAMI Lajike, a Tongan chief, returns from Somosomo with the wonderful news that the Tui Cakau is waiting for the new missionary assigned to Taveuni to preach the gospel to the people of Cakaudrove. The Tui Cakau sends a message to the Tui Nayau to give up heathenism. Reverend David Cargill welcomes his fifth child. This is the account of the late Reverend David Cargill from the book The Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843, edited by Albert J Schütz and published by the Australian National University.

Tuesday, July 17, 1838

This forenoon Uiliami Lajike returned from Somosomo where he has been on a visit to Tuithakau (Tui Cakau) and his two sons Tuikilakila and Ratubithi (Tui Kilakila and Ratu Bici)59 — the chiefs who so earnestly requested a missionary in January 1837. Our friend Uiliami has brought us most interesting and encouraging intelligence from Somosomo. Tui Kilakila was so sincere in his entreaties for a missionary, and so anxious to promote his comfort, that immediately after his return to Somosomo, he selected a plot of ground for mission premises near the principal fortification on the island, and ordered his people to cut bamboo for a fence and timber for a house for the missionary. When conversing with him in January of 1837, I told him that missionaries preferred an airy situation, and the place which he has selected as the site of a mission house is on a beautiful eminence. He has prevented his people from cultivating it so that it may be ready for immediate occupancy when a missionary shall arrive in Somosomo. When expressing his disappointment and regret that a missionary had not yet been sent to him, he said with considerable ardour, “Look! the bamboo and the timber have been so long cut, that they are almost rotten and yet no missionary has come to me!” The same chief has sent a friendly message or rather a powerful appeal to Tui Nayau. As coming from the lips of the heathen, it may be considered a curiosity. The following is a verbatim translation of it. “Tui Nayau, why do you not turn and worship the true God? Of what use are the Feejeean gods to you? Religion — like the sun — (The Feejeeans were of opinion that Tonga was the eastern — and Feejee the western boundary of the world: and that the sun rose at Tonga and sunk into the sea at Feejee) — has come from Tonga to you, and will then come to us. Why do you attempt to stop it? When you stop the sun from coming from Tonga to Feejee, then you may prevent religion from coming to us. You cannot stand at the bottom of a hill, and arrest the progress of a heavy weight which has been hurled down from the summit of that hill. You are foolish in attempting to do so. “Religion is a heavy weight which the God of the foreigners has hurled down upon you from Tonga: you cannot hurl it up again; you cannot stop it: be wise, and let yourself be borne away by it, and let it come to us.” This is the logic of the heathen, the sensibility of a renowned warrior, the reasoning of a chief whose people are the most notorious cannibals in all Feejee, whose people are accused of kidnapping children, and ransacking the graves to gratify their propensity for human flesh. O that we had missionaries to send him and his people! May the Head of the Church who knows his circumstances and desires raise up men to come to Feejee ‘to the help of the Lord against the mighty.’

Friday, July 20, 1838

About two o’clock this morning our fifth child — a stout girl — was born. We have had none but natives to assist us at this critical juncture, but the Lord has been better to us than all our fears. Our native female servant has been very attentive and kind on this occasion. Mrs Cargill is much better than we could have expected her to be. May she and I have grace to dedicate ourselves afresh to the service of God.

Monday, July 23, 1838
This forenoon our people under the direction of Uiliami Lajike began to build a new chapel. We held divine service at the erecting of the posts which are to support the building. The scene was very interesting and I trust profitable to the souls of many. A large congregation was present, and many tears of joy were shed. The Feejeeans and the Tonguese seem to be desirous of outstripping one another in this labour of love. All have engaged
in the undertaking with great alacrity and goodwill. Several heathens have volunteered their services in rearing this Christian temple. Lua — the quondam persecutor of the Christians — has very kindly presented us with several large skeins of cynet, and has tendered his assistance in the preparation of the various materials for the house of prayer. Soroangkali – the king’s brother has presented the Chief of the Christian party with a large
roll of sinnet (magimagi) made from coconut fibre). The chapel when finished will probably hold between 500 and 600 persons. May it be the birthplace of many immortal souls.

Wednesday, August 1, 1838At the leaders’ meeting this afternoon we appointed Uiliami Lajike to the care of a class. He is a Tonga chief of the highest rank, and has more influence in Feejee than any other Tongan chief. But what is of more importance he seems very desirous of saving his soul, and of being instrumental in the salvation of the souls of others. If faithful and humble, he will be a great blessing to the cause of God in this and other parts of Feejee!!

Friday, August 3, 1838
This afternoon Joeli Bulu61 went to reside at Narothake for the instruction of the few Feejeeans who worship God at that place. He is one of the six local preachers who were lately sent from Vavau to assist us in Feejee, and is very assiduous and earnest in his endeavours to acquire the language.

Tuesday, August 7, 1838
Visited Narothake and preached to our little flock at this place. The members of society there are very thankful for a teacher to reside among them, and treat him and his wife with great kindness. Several of the heathen promise to turn to God in a short time. I hope to see good days even in Lakemba. The Christians on this island are more in earnest than they have ever been, and many of the heathen are beginning to enquire if they are really in danger of everlasting misery. All the people declare with one voice, “We wish to turn to God, but are afraid of the king.”

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