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TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
AMONG the most signal of the moral changes characterizing the present day, are those which have recently taken place in the islands of the Pacific. Ecclesiastical history describes nothing more remarkable, since the apostolic age. The facts proving the marvellous nature of these changes have come to us through so many channels, and from so many sources, that they can no longer be reasonably denied. From the most polluted and savage barbarism and the grossest paganism, whole communities have been elevated to an intelligent profession of Christianity, and to comparative civilization, purity, and comfort. And what renders the fact of this change more interesting and valuable is, that it affords conclusive proof of the efficacy of modern missions, although they have not the miraculous powers with which the first missionaries of the Christian church were endowed. The transformation is wholly the result of the
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
divine blessing upon modern missions. Until ministers of the gospel visited the Pacific, the progress of society, in all the islands which have since been evangelized, was downward, and with a rapidity which commerce did but accelerate. Indeed, there is nothing in the history of Polynesian missions to countenance the maxim, so often quoted by theoretical men, that barbarians must be civilized before they can be Christianized. Such a process of melioration certainly was not practicable in those islands. The gospel was the only power that could reach the degradation of the inhabitants; and the gospel did reach it, and created a taste and desire in the people, which nothing else could, for the arts and conveniences of civilized life.
Authentic accounts of the progress of this work have been given to the world, from time to time, during the fifteen years past, in the journals and letters of missionaries, and in the official documents of missionary societies. The several histories of modern missions, also, which have been written within this period, contain summary views, particularly those of Lord, Winslow, and Jones.
To satisfy the religious community, however, and exert the highest and best influence on public sentiment, there was needed a continuous and comprehensive description of this whole field of triumphant missionary enterprise, from eyewitnesses competent to judge and testify and such we
now have, in the volumes of Mr. Stewart on the Sandwich Islands, the Polynesian Researches of Mr. Ellis, and the Voyages and Travels of Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet.
The work last named has been stereotyped by the publishers of the American edition—so great is their confidence that it will come into extensive demand. Never did travellers have such opportunities and facilities, as were enjoyed by Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, for investigating the state and prospects of missions in so many heathen countries. Never was there such a various mass of original testimony respecting missions, and fields for missionary enterprise, embodied in a single work, as there is in this. The whole seven years' travels of these excellent men were performed, also, as they were commenced, in the exercise of a spirit truly benevolent; and this trait of their characters appears to have continually increased in disinterestedness and ardor. And how conducive is such a spirit to candor and impartiality, to faithfulness and truth! The candid reader will perceive so much evidence of conscientious integrity running through these pages, that he will seldom be tempted to incredulity.
The claims of science and taste were not forgotten. The journals of these intelligent travellers abound in notices of animals, birds, and fishes, in topographical delin
PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
eations, and descriptions of natural scenery. But MAN is the grand subject of their inquiries, as he ought to be— in his various habitations, pursuits, relations, and prospects; and not a little of what is related concerning him is in the attractive form of anecdote.
This work is specially commended to the attention of parents and guardians, as a valuable auxiliary in their exertions to cultivate a taste for profitable reading in the youth committed to their care. Nothing less than a circumnavigation of heaven-born charity is described in these volumes; and the accomplished Author has executed his task so well, that the most cultivated minds will find pleasure and advantage in their perusal.
Boston, November, 1831.
THE Missionary Society,* founded on the Catholic principle of union among Christians of various denominations, was established in the autumn of 1795. The first undertaking of its founders and patrons was to send the gospel to the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Accordingly, in the year following, the ship Duff, commanded by Captain Wilson, sailed with twenty-nine missionaries (of whom several were married, and had their wives and children with them) on board, and arrived, in March 1797, at Tahiti, then, and still, by some reputable writers, miscalled Otaheite, where the greater part of the company took up their residence. Others were settled at St. Christina and Tongatabu. For nearly seventeen years, under many adverse ́and discouraging circumstances, the work (thus begun) was continued with apparently little success. It afterwards pleased God, in his own good time and way, to display his power and glory among the people who there sat in darkness and the shadow of death; nor hath his word, since
*Now known by the name of the London Missionary Society, to distinguish it from similar institutions of later date, and which are confined principally to the particular bodies of Christians to which they are respectively attached.