(c) Copyright 2000-2021
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
This webpage gathers information about Henry Opukaha'ia and his role in persuading American missionaries to come to Hawai'i. It is a remarkable story. Christians call it miraculous and cite it as evidence of God's divine intervention in giving grace, salvation, and civilization to native Hawaiians.
The reason for including this page in a website on Hawaiian sovereignty is to provide evidence that people with no native blood (the missionaries in this case) were full partners in Hawai'i; that they came to Hawai'i expressly at the invitation of native Hawaiians; and that they brought moral and religious values which native Hawaiians eagerly embraced and incorporated as essential ingredients in their hearts and minds. Today's Hawaiian sovereignty activists like to complain about the alleged colonization of Hawai'i's society and economy, and the alleged suppression of their language and culture. They even complain about the "colonization of the mind" which robs them of the ability to understand the full scope of their colonization. But that is nonsense, as the story of Opukaha'ia, and his own writings, make clear.
For a general discussion of the concept that non-natives were full partners in the nation of Hawai'i, see:
Here's a quick biography of Opukahaia:
Major list of resources about Opukahaia, including full text of his
memoirs, and a collection of published accounts from the 19th
century describing Opukaha'ia's influence on the American
Protestant missionary movement
"NATIVE OF OWHYHEE" FEATURE FILM ON 'OLELO TV. The film is available "on demand" to anyone throughout the world, and will be broadcast at least 4 times on TV in Honolulu during October and November 2011. The film describes how Hawaiian natives at Yale invited the missionaries who came in 1820, and the cooperative blending of cultures which resulted. The following webpage provides details about the film, the broadcast schedule, and how to view it "on demand."
This present webpage about Henry Opukaha'ia is extremely lengthy. The reason for that Is the inclusion of the entire book "THE MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH" because it includes details of the pre-Christian culture he left behind in Hawai'i, and the process of his conversion to Christianity. Since that book is so lengthy, and might not be of much interest to the casual reader, other short items of more general interest are presented first.
Here is the order of appearance:
(0) Descriptions by a historian of the old religion and the Hawaiian culture of human sacrifice at the same place and time when Opukaha'ia was growing up and being trained to be a priest.
(1) A newspaper article briefly describing a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the return of Opukaha'ia's remains to Hawai'i, and why that event is significant; and a newspaper article describing a church celebration of the 189th anniversary of his death on Sunday February 18, 2007
(2) Two newspaper articles in Hawaiian language, describing the life of 'Opukaha'ia. These articles were published in 1865, in a Hawaiian-language newspaper; and reprinted in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in May 2006 in its weekly Hawaiian-language column. The articles are significant not only because they describe his life, but also because the publication of them several decades after his death and again 150 years after his death shows enduring great love and respect for him.
(3) News report in Kaua'i newspaper, May 15, 2015 describing new biography about Opukaha'ia by Kaua'i author Chris Cook, "The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah" published by Paa Studios of Waimea, Kauai.
(4) Feature story by Chris Cook in Honolulu Star-Advertiser on November 15, 2015 entitled "In the footsteps of Opukahaia -- Retracing a young Hawaiian exile's path, a Kauai writer discovers new details about the student who inspired the first missionaries to come to the islands."
(5) Portions of a spiritual history of Hawai'i, consisting of excerpts from Daniel I. Kikawa's book PERPETUATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
(6) An essay by C. Scott Berg, entitled THE GREAT HAWAII MIRACLE
(7) THE MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH with Introduction by C. Scott Berg
Nothing below here was written by Kenneth Conklin, except for section (0) where readers will find notes made by Conklin to summarize a book by historian James L. Haley. The authorship and source of each item is provided in each section of this webpage.
(0) Descriptions by a historian of the old religion and the Hawaiian culture of human sacrifice at the same place and time when Opukaha'ia was growing up and being trained to be a priest.
Here are some facts about the society in which Opukaha'ia lived, and his personal background. These are notes written by Ken Conklin to summarize the first part of Chapter 3 "The Suicide of Kapu" in Conklin's book review of James L. Haley, CAPTIVE PARADISE: A history of Hawaii (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1st ed., November 2014), at
The story of Kanawai Mamalahoe (Law of the Splintered Paddle) -- Probably 1783, Kamehameha in canoe with crew goes on pillaging expedition along shore in Laupahoehoe lava fields north of Hilo; sees a couple of fishermen and pursued them; Kamehameha's foot gets stuck in lava crevice; one fisherman turns and attacks Kamehameha, hitting him on head with paddle which shatters; fisherman does not kill Kamehameha but runs away; Kamehameha realizes his own behavior was wrong and proclaims a kapu that henceforth elderly, women and children may lie down to sleep by the roadside without fear of harm. Later, when the fisherman was brought before him to be punished, Kamehameha pardoned him. "It was the first crack in a social system that, for the kanakas since time immemorial, had been rooted in terror. Word of the protective kapu spread, but also the knowledge that it was virtually unenforceable. It was ancient to Hawaiian culture that in their ubiquitous warfare, if an enemy force was defeated, they would fall upon their families, hacking and pillaging to the point of gory surfeit ..." (pg 35)
Author Haley then makes a smooth transition illustrating that point by describing the story of Opukaha'ia. When Kamehameha's warriors overran a village in Ka'u, the 12-year-old escaped with his parents and baby brother, hid in a cave. When they came out for water, some soldiers chased them, caught the boy and baby, and began torturing them in order to get the father to surrender. Father and mother were cut in pieces. Boy put baby on his back and ran; warrior threw spear which ran through the baby and into the boy's back. Boy's injuries not deadly, boy old enough to be useful, so the warrior who had killed his family adopted the boy. Later it was discovered that the boy, Opukaha'ia, was the nephew of a priest of Lono, and the priest demanded possession of the now-14-year-old boy and took him to Lono's Hikiau Heiau at Kealakekua Bay to be trained to become a kahuna, memorizing chants and protocol of human sacrifices. "In 1809, while visiting his one surviving aunt, he hid in terror as men invaded the dwelling and dragged her away. She was accused of violating a kapu and thrown from a cliff to her death." (pg 36) Now about 16 years old, Opukaha'ia decided to escape, and swam out to an American trading ship from New Haven, Connecticut, and pleaded with the captain. The captain was afraid to cause trouble and sent the boy back to the priest to ask permission. The priest "locked the boy in his room" but since it was a grass hut the boy was able to escape back to the ship. The ship captain sent a pig to the priest as a gift for the boy. Already on the boat was another native boy, Hopu, serving as cabin boy. Hopu's mother had wanted to kill him on the day he was born because she despaired over incessant raiding and terror; sister realized mom's intention and stole baby Hopu to raise him with her husband; returned Hopu to parents when he was 4. When he was 8 raiders took everything the family owned, parents ran away to Kealakekua Bay to start over. A year later mother died and boy Hopu joined the ship's crew as cabin boy.
Eventually the ship returned to New Haven with both boys on board, after sailing to the U.S. west coast for furs, then to Hawaii, then to China, etc. At one point Hopu fell overboard and the ship's crew turned the ship around and rescued him a couple hours later, which impressed Hopu that they valued human life, even the life of a cabin boy. The ship stopped in New York, where the boys saw women for the first time and were shocked that women and men were eating together. In New Haven Opukaha'ia lived with the ship captain's family; Hopu lived with a medical doctor but soon became a sailor. Hopu was gone for several years, got shipwrecked more than once, served on an American ship in the War of 1812, was captured and imprisoned, but made it back to New Haven.
The well-known story is told that one day Opukaha'ia was sitting on the steps of a building at Yale University weeping. A passing student asked him what was wrong, and he said "No one will give me learning." The passerby turned out to be Edwin Dwight, nephew of the college president. And so Opukaha'ia got instruction, expressed horror at the lifestyle in Hawaii, became a fervent Christian. He spent time with a student studying for a doctorate in Divinity. Opukaha'ia pleaded with him to go to Hawaii and preach. He was finally taken in by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions [Congregationalist Church], studied theology, learned to read the Bible in Hebrew, and translated Genesis directly from Hebrew into Hawaiian.
Hopu was already becoming a Christian, and approached Opukaha'ia to clarify his knowledge and asked that they pray together in their native language, which they did for the first time ever. Hopu and Opukaha'ia then discovered that Crown Prince George Kaumuali'i was in the area, living with John Honoli'i who had joined a ship's crew and came to Connecticut. And they met with William Kanui, whose father was one of the few O'ahu chiefs to survive the Battle of Nu'uanu Pali and who escaped to Kaua'i to become a servant of Kaumuali'i. The five Hawaiians were enrolled in a religious school in Lichfield until spring 1817, and then the new ABCFM missionary school in Cornwall.
In 1818 Opukaha'ia caught typhus, and six weeks later died on February 17 after the other 4 Hawaiians pledged to him to return to Hawaii to put an end to the old religion. Opukaha'ia's strong faith and death galvanized the churches throughout New England in supporting the effort to send missionaries to Hawaii. On October 19, 1819, the brig Thaddeus sailed with Rev. Hiram Bingham (age 30) in charge, accompanied by Rev. Asa Thurston, Rev. Samuel Ruggles, the wives of the reverends, teacher and printer Elisha Loomis, medical doctor Thomas Holman, farmer Daniel Chamberlain with his five children, Samuel Whitney, plus the wives of all the white men; plus the four Hawaiian natives; and of course the ship's crew.
** Additional comments by Ken Conklin: As mentioned above, Opukaha'ia grew up near Kealakekua Bay, where he was a nephew of a priest of Lono and was trained to be a kahuna of the old religion, living in the temple complex at the human sacrifice Hikiau Heiau at Kealakekua Bay. This was the same location where Captain Cook arrived about 30 years earlier, and had been given ceremonial treatment as the god Lono at that same heiau. It was also within easy walking distance of the great place of refuge Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, where there was a very large mausoleum (Hale o Keawe) containing the sacred bones of many generations of kings and high chiefs, many of which were later moved to a cave and then to Mauna Ala, today's Royal Mausoleum in Nu'uanu O'ahu.
Keeping in mind that Opukaha'ia was about nine years younger than Kapi'olani, so they shared the same culture in the same place: Here are notes from Chapter 4 of Haley's book:
As a small child living with her aunt near Kealakekua Bay, and while learning the rules of kapu, Kapi'olani wondered why bananas should be forbidden to women, and ate some. She was niece of Kalaniopu'u, and her mother had been a wife of Kamehameha. Because she was only a small child and because of her high status, her life was spared; but her favorite servant boy who had brought the bananas to her was sacrificed at the heiau Pu'uhonua o Honaunau to appease the gods. "Ironically for Mau [the servant boy], this temple was among those few designated as a City of Refuge; had he escaped and made it there on his own, he could have claimed sanctuary, been purified, and departed in safety." (pg 60) ... Kapi'olani was baptized. But she still respected her obligations as guardian of her culture, as shown by her conduct in 1829 in caring for the bones from the Hale o Keawe at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau.
The bones of the kings had been placed there during about 200 years, guarded by very scary wooden idols outside. At every stage of building it (every post, every rafter) there were human sacrifices. At every stage when more bones were prepared, and also at every nee interment of bones, there were more human sacrifices. [note #9 to Alexander, 'The Hale o Keawe at Honaunau', 159-61.] In 1825 Ka'ahumanu had allowed ship's officers to remove many of the ferocious idols and take them to England for display; and thereafter the Hale o Keawe fell into disrepair.
In 1829 Kapi'olani and her husband heard about the building's condition. Kapi'olani and Mrs. Laura Judd were the first women ever allowed to enter inside. Seeing the bad conditions, Kapi'olani wept. After consulting Ka'ahumanu, she rescued the bones. Eleven sets of remains went into one coffin and twelve into another; and they were hidden in a cave and rocked over, as in ancient times. Then the mausoleum was pulled down without a trace remaining. (pgs 63-64)
"Some years after her conversion she [Kapi'olani] was visiting with Laura Judd, who asked her how, specifically, her servant Mau, who had procured bananas for her during her childhood, met his end. Kapi'olani did not know, but sent for the kahuna, who was still alive, to further explain the incident. When he arrived he answered that the boy was taken into the heiau at Honaunau and strangled at the altar. That was the traditional mode of dispatch for sacrificial victims. 'Those were the dark days,' he further admitted to Mrs. Judd and the high chiefess, 'though we priests knew better all the time. It was power we sought over the minds of the people to influence and control them.' [note # 11 to Judd, "Honolulu Sketches", 76-77] Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, temple and City of Refuge, was one of the most important heiaus of the Big Island. For one of its kahunas to admit that the whole regimen of kapu was nothing more than a con to manipulate the people was a shattering admission, and a powerful weapon to hand the missionaries." (pg 64)
(1) A newspaper article briefly describing a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the return of Opukaha'ia's remains to Hawai'i, and why that event is significant; and a newspaper article describing a church celebration of the 189th anniversary of his death on Sunday February 18, 2007
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 21, 2003
Henry Opukaha'ia: He inspired New Englanders to send missionaries to Hawaii
Missionary's grave to get historical ornament
By Rod Thompson
NAPOOPOO, Hawaii >> Henry Opukaha'ia has been home on the Big Island for 10 years now. It's what he wanted.
On Aug. 16, the man who changed Hawaiian history by inspiring early 19th-century New Englanders to send missionaries to Hawaii will be given renewed recognition by the placement of a historical plaque at his grave near Kealakekua Bay in South Kona.
The plaque quotes Opukaha'ia's words when found weeping on the steps of Yale University at age 17 in 1809: "No one gives me learning." The president of Yale, Dr. Timothy Dwight, took Opukaha'ia into his home and tutored him.
During his nine years in New England, Opukaha'ia became a Christian and began preparing to return to Hawaii as a missionary. But typhus ended his life at the age of 26 in 1818, and he was buried in Cornwall, Conn. After his death, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent New Englanders as missionaries to Hawaii.
When family members from Hawaii came to bring him home in 1993, Connecticut people were reluctant to let him go, said seventh generation cousin Deborah Lee.
The young man from Hawaii had long been praised to Connecticut schoolchildren as a person eager for knowledge.
But Lee had awoken one night with a powerful spiritual experience. Her mind on Opukaha'ia, she felt the words, "He wants to come home."
On his deathbed, Opukaha'ia had said: "Oh, how I want to see Hawaii. But I think I never shall. God will do right. He knows what is best."
On Aug. 15, 1993, Opukaha'ia's remains were laid in a vault facing the sea at Kahikolu Church near Napoopoo. It was the third church established in Hawaii by missionaries inspired by Opukaha'ia.
The current church building, erected in 1852, stands a half-mile from Hikiau Heiau at Kealakekua Bay where young Opukaha'ia had trained to be a kahuna after being orphaned in Kamehameha's wars of unification. He later went to sea, eventually reaching New England.
Kahikolu pastor Wendell Davis says the church's steeple now draws visitors to discover Opukaha'ia's resting place. Schools send groups of children to visit the grave.
When Opukaha'ia was returned to Hawaii 10 years ago, 700 people attended the event, Lee said.
Davis expects 300 to 400 to come on Aug. 16. "I think the word is out: 'Let's go to the Big Island. Let's go see Henry's grave,'" he said.
The above content from:
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 21, 2003
By Rod Thompson
Hawaii Herald-Tribune (Hilo), Friday, February 16, 2007
Church to honor first Hawaiian Christian convert
The public is invited to attend the 189th anniversary of the death of Henry 'Opukaha'ia's, to be marked at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Kahikolu Congregational Church in Kepulu, Napoopoo, above Kealakekua Bay.
Special speakers include Garland Thomen of Brooklyn, Conn., Carolyn Machado of Captain Cook and Uncle Billy Paris of Lanikila Congregational Church in Kainali'u.
Kahu Wendell Davis, pastor at Kahikolu, will deliver the message "Living By Faith on Difficult Times" in honor of Henry O's anniversary.
The youth and members of the church will provide special music.
'Opukaha'ia is well known throughout the world as the first Hawaiian Christian convert and scholar, and the man responsible for bringing missionaries to the islands.
'Opukaha'ia accepted the Christian faith after he jumped into Kealakekua Bay and swam to a merchant ship. From there, he traveled to Cornwall, Conn., where he became a student at Yale College.
Before his death from typhoid fever, 'Opukaha'ia sat on the steps at the famous school and pleaded with his fellow classmates to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ back to his countrymen.
"My poor countrymen," he told them. "(They are) without knowledge of the true God, and ignorant of the future world, have no Bible to read, no Sabbath."
After he died, many of his friends took his yearning to heart and came to the Hawaiian Islands.
Many believe 'Opukaha'ia's desire to know God for his people was a turning point in the history of the Hawaiian people, as the missionaries also brought Christian habits of living, education through a written language and hope to people who would one day, face a cultural shift by foreign influences.
For more information, contact Deborah Lee at 443-1268,
(2) Two newspaper articles in Hawaiian language, describing the life of 'Opukaha'ia. These articles were published in 1865, in a Hawaiian-language newspaper; and reprinted in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in May 2006 in its weekly Hawaiian-language column. The articles are significant not only because they describe his life, but also because the publication of them several decades after his death and again 150 years after his death shows enduring great love and respect for him.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, May 21, 2006
Mo'olelo no 'Opukaha'ia
Synopsis: A short biography about 'Opukaha'ia.
Aloha mai e na makamaka heluhelu, eia mai kahi mo'olelo pokole e pili ana ia 'Opukaha'ia. Ua pa'i 'ia keia mo'olelo nei ma kahi nupepa o ke au i hala.
'O Keau ka makuakane, 'o Kamohoula ka makuahine. Hanau maila na laua keia keiki 'o 'Opukaha'ia, a me kekahi keiki 'e iho kona muli mai, ('a'ole i loa'a ka inoa o ia keiki). Ua hanau 'o 'Opukaha'ia ma mua a'e o ke kaua 'ana o Kamehameha me Namakeha ma Ka'u. A ma Ka'u no ho'i i Ninole kahi i hanau ai 'o 'Opukaha'ia. Ua kapa 'ia na'e kona inoa ma muli o ke kaha 'ia 'ana o ka 'opu o kekahi ali'i, no laila i kapa 'ia ai 'o 'Opukaha'ia.
A hiki maila ka wa o ke kaua 'ana o Kamehameha me Namakeha a laila, pepehi 'ia ihola na makua o 'Opukaha'ia. I ka make 'ana na'e o na makua o ua 'o 'Opukaha'ia, ha'alele ihola 'o ia ia Ka'u, ku a'ela 'o ia a hele akula i Kohala.
Ia 'Opukaha'ia na'e e noho ana ma Kohala, loa'a ihola 'o ia ia Pahua, ke kaikunane o kona makuahine, a ho'iho'i 'ia mai i Kona nei, a noho pu ihola me Pahua ma, a me Hina ma ma Napo'opo'o nei, Kona Hema, Hawai'i.
I ia wa na'e a 'Opukaha'ia e noho ana ma Napo'opo'o nei, i kona wa i ho'iho'i 'ia mai ai mai Kohala mai, ua kanaka makua no 'o ia i ia wa. A ia ia na'e i noho ai ma 'ane'i, a'o 'ia ihola 'o ia i ka 'oihana kahuna o ka wa kahiko. He keiki ho'olohe 'o 'Opukaha'ia, 'a'ole na'e he mahi'ai, a me ka lawai'a, 'a'ole no ho'i 'o ia i a'o nui 'ia ma ia mau hana. 'O ke a'o kahuna wale no kona makemake nui, a ua lilo ia he puni nana e malama mau ai, i na po kapu o ka Hainapule. 'O kona mea nana i a'o i ka 'oihana kahuna 'o Pahua no. He kahuna akamai keia i a'o 'ia e Hewahewa, e ke Kahuna Nui o ka Heiau 'o Hikiau.
A loa'a ia 'Opukaha'ia ka 'ike i na mea o ka 'oihana kahuna, a laila, kukulu ihola 'o ia i kona wahi Heiau pohaku ma loko o Helehelekalani; a kukulu no ho'i i hale ma luna iho o kona wahi heiau, me ka malama 'ana i keia mau akua 'ekolu. 1. 'O Lono, 2. Kuka'ohi'alaka, 3. Kuka'ilimoku.
He pinepine loa no ho'i kona ho'oikaika 'ana ma ia 'oihana, a hiki wale i kona holo 'ana i 'Amelika.
I ka wa na'e i ku mai ai kahi moku Kalepa 'Amelika ma Kealakekua nei, a laila, koi 'ia ihola 'o ia e kekahi haole o luna o ua moku nei, 'o Mika Alani kona inoa, he aikane na Hewahewa, a 'o kona holo no ia, a ha'alele ihola i ka 'oihana ana i a'o ai.
A ma keia wahi Heiau ana i kukulu ai, ua kanu ihola no 'o ia he mau niu 'ekolu, a ke ulu nei lakou a ke hua nei. E 'ike no ka po'e maka'ika'i i ka pao a keia keiki 'Opukaha'ia. Ke ola nei no kona 'ohana ma Kona Hema nei, 'o Hina kona inoa, ua hele na'e a kuakea ke po'o i ka hina, a ua palupalu no ho'i ia e noho nei.
'O ia ihola no kahi mo'o'olelo pokole no ua 'o 'Opukaha'ia i lohe 'ia. Me ka mahalo. S. W. Papaula.
Napo'opo'o, S. Kona,
Oct. 10, 1865.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, May 28, 2006
Synopsis: A biography about 'Opukaha'ia's life after leaving Hawai'i.
'Ano'ai e na hoa puni heluhelu nupepa. Eia mai kekahi mo'olelo e pili ana ia 'Opukaha'ia. I kela Lapule aku nei ma ke kino o Kauakukalahale nei, pa'i 'ia aku kahi mo'olelo pOkole no kona hanau 'ana a hiki i kona wa i ha'alele mai ai ia Hawai'i nei. E hO'ike mai ana ua mo'olelo pOkole la, he kanaka ia i a'o 'ia i ka 'oihana kahuna. I keia la, e heluhelu ana i ka mo'olelo no ka wa ma hope o kona ha'alele 'ana mai ia Hawai'i nei. Ua pa'i 'ia keia mo'olelo ma kekahi o na nupepa o ke au i hala. Penei ia:
He misionari ia mai Hawai'i aku nei, a 'Amerika. Ua hanau 'o 'Opukaha'ia ma NapO'opo'o, i Hawai'i, i ka wa 'aikapu. Ua make kona makuakane i loko o ke kaua 'ana o na ali'i me Kamehameha I, a lilo ia i keiki makua 'ole. Makahiki 1808, i kona wa 'Opiopio, holo aku ia ma luna o kekahi moku kalepa 'Amerika, a pae ma Bosetona. I kona noho malihini 'ana i laila, aloha mai 'o Mr. Samuela Mills ia ia, a a'o aku ia ia i ka 'Olelo haole a me ka heluhelu buke haole. Ua ho'onoho ia ma loko o kekahi kula ho'ona'auao i na kanaka mai na 'aina 'e, e noho ana i laila. I kona noho kula 'ana, huli kona na'au i ke Akua, i ka mana'o'i'o ia Iesu. A laila, ulu kona aloha nui i na kanaka na'aupO o Hawai'i, e noho ho'omanaki'i ana, a e pepehi kanaka ana i loko o na kaua. Ka'ahele ho'i ia i kauwahi o kela 'aina, e ho'olaha i na buke li'ili'i a me na pepa hO'ike i ka 'Olelo a ke Akua. Launa pu ia me ka po'e kOkua misionari a me na luna o ka 'Ahahui misionari.
No kona paipai 'ana ia lakou e ho'ouna i po'e misionari ma Hawai'i, ka holo 'ana o ko lakou mana'o e ho'ouna mai ia Binamu a me Tatina ma i ka makahiki 1819. Aka, 'a'ole i holo pu mai 'o 'Opukaha'ia. He hana 'oko'a nO kana, a laila ma'i ihola ia, a ua lawe 'ia aku kona 'uhane i ke ola ma luna.
'A'ole na'e ia i make, a lohe 'e kela, e holo mai ana na kumu e a'o mai i na kanaka Hawai'i. 'O ia lohe nO ka mea hau'oli no 'Opukaha'ia i loko o kona make 'ana.
No laila, i kapa 'ia 'o 'Opukaha'ia, "Ka Misionari mua o Hawai'i."
['O ia ihola ka mo'olelo no ua 'Opukaha'ia nei i lohe 'oukou.
A pehea, ua pu'iwa paha ka no'ono'o i ka heluhelu 'ana mai nei a 'ike aku i ka 'Olelo 'ana e na kahi Hawai'i i paipai e ho'ouna 'ia na mikionali i Hawai'i. Pu'iwa pu me ko 'oukou mea kakau. He 'oia'i'o paha keia, a he mea wale nO paha keia mo'olelo e pau ai ke kapilipili 'ana i na mikionali, na lakou nO lakou i hele mai no ka ho'olaha 'ana a'e i ka 'Olelo a ko lakou Akua. A he mea paha ua mo'olelo nei e hO'ike ai e ua kono 'ia, ua noi 'ia, ua paipai 'ia e hele mai i Hawai'i nei no ke a'o 'ana mai i na "pegana," a 'a'ole i hele wale mai e maha'oi e like me ka mea mau ia lakou mikionali. 'O ia mo'olelo ma luna a'e nei, he keu ia a ka 'alapahi.
(3) News report in Kaua'i newspaper, May 15, 2015 describing new biography about Opukaha'ia by Kaua'i author Chris Cook, "The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah" published by Paa Studios of Waimea, Kauai.
The Garden Island, Friday May 15, 2015
Fresh look at history
Kauai author revisits 200-year-old accounts of Obookiah, missionaries
Kauai author Chris Cook is unveiling his fresh non-fiction account of the life of Opukahaia, the Native Hawaiian scholar whose life and death (1787-1818) sent American missionaries to Hawaii.
New England sailors anglicized the youth's name to Henry Obookiah.
"The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah" published by Paa Studios of Waimea, Kauai is being released today.
To celebrate the book, the Friends of Lihue Library is hosting a book talk by Cook at the Lihue Public Library at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. After a short presentation on his research, Cook will be available to answer questions and to sign copies of his new book.
The Friends of the Lihue Library will make the book available for purchase at the program. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the library.
Opukahaia served as an apprentice kahuna at Kealakekua until 1808 when he hired on as a sailor with Cpt. Caleb Brintnall of New Haven. Henry rose from sailor to scholar to Christian celebrity.
Obookiah died of typhus fever in Cornwall, Connecticut shortly before he was to co-lead a mission to Hawaii sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions.
Cook's new history expands on the slim memoirs of Henry Obookiah and unveils new accounts and details tied to the life and impacts of Obookiah. Included are Obookiah's influences on Kauai historical figures Kaumualii, Humehume, and Samuel and Mercy Whitney, who founded the first mission station at Waimea in 1820.
Cook is the author of the best-selling Kauai Movie Book and former editor of The Garden Island newspaper.
The author is also appearing at the The Bookstore in Hanapepe during Art Night from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday evening, May 22. And at Hui O Laka's Banana Poka Festival at the Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow near the Kokee Museum on Sunday, May 24 at 12:30 pm.
Go to http://obookiah.com/
for more information on The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah.
(4) Feature story by Chris Cook in Honolulu Star-Advertiser on November 15, 2015 entitled "In the footsteps of Opukahaia -- Retracing a young Hawaiian exile's path, a Kauai writer discovers new details about the student who inspired the first missionaries to come to the islands."
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, November 15, 2015
In the footsteps of Opukahaia
Retracing a young Hawaiian exile's path, a Kauai writer discovers new details about the student who inspired the first missionaries to come to the islands
By Chris Cook / Special to the Star-Advertiser
** Photo caption
In this illustration from "The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah," Thomas Patoo, a Marquesan, left, and fellow Foreign Mission School students gather at the grave of Henry Obookiah in Cornwall, Conn., circa 1820.
** Photo caption
COURTESY DAVID COOK
Author Chris Cook at the grave of Opukahaia in Cornwall, Conn.
While undertaking a casual tour of New England one leafy summer day in 1983, I drove through a barn-red covered bridge and rolled up to a historic hillside cemetery in the village of Cornwall, Conn.
As I walked among the headstones, reading the inscriptions, I happened upon the grave of Henry Obookiah, a young Native Hawaiian who had died of typhus fever, 5,000 miles from home, in February 1818. A student at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Obookiah was homesick and never got used to the cold. He stuck it out to realize his goal of returning to introduce the Christian gospel to his people.
He never saw his island home again. Although his life and dreams were cut short at 26, Obookiah became famous for having inspired the first American missionaries to come to Hawaii; they set sail in 1819 on a voyage that was to have included him.
Most of what is known about Opukahaia, Henry's proper Hawaiian name, is recorded in the 1818 "Memoirs of Henry Obookiah, a Native of Owhyee," a slim, hand-size volume authored by Edwin W. Dwight, who had found Obookiah weeping in despair on the grounds of Yale University and later became his teacher at the Cornwall school.
I wanted to know much more about Obookiah than I could find in a book or online. I resolved to shadow him posthumously, traveling to the places where he had lived and breathed, employing a research technique called "footstepping" by Richard Holmes, author of "Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer." Little did I know then my research would take me on a 30-year journey that continues to this day.
Standing on that grassy burial ground on a sunny morning, I seemed to hear Hawaii call out to me. At 32 I had spent the previous 12 years in Hawaii getting a bachelor's degree in English, working for a military contractor and, mostly, surfing. I had thought it was time to get serious and find a career in New York City, where I grew up. But now I'd found a companion, a Hawaiian stranded a long way from home.
Forget New York. I was going back.
I found work as a journalist on Kauai, married and started a family, and, in 1993, heard that Opukahaia was finally coming home, too. I was there as his remains were brought ashore at Kealakekua Bay to be buried in the yard of Kahikolu Church in Napoopoo. At the reinterment services I met Deborah Liikapeka Lee, a lateral descendant of Opukahaia who, with her parents, had worked long for his return.
The Lees further inspired my book, "The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah," which I published this year after making several research trips, including three to New England between 2005 and 2011. My itinerary included every church, school and town in Obookiah's 1809-1818 odyssey.
Everyone I approached in New England graciously offered their help: Mention Hawaii and doors open.
Opukahaia was born in Kau on the Big Island in the late 18th century. As a boy he witnessed the killing of his parents and baby brother by Kamehameha's warriors. He was taken captive and later released into the custody of his uncle, a kahuna, but was nearly slain when enemies returned to kill his aunt.
Deciding to run away and see the world, he signed on as a seaman on the merchant ship Triumph for voyages to China and Chile in the fur seal trade. In 1808, at the invitation of the ship's captain, Caleb Brintnall, he sailed on to New York. For a time he and another young Hawaiian, Thomas Hopu (Hopoo), lived in New Haven, Conn., with the Brintnall family; in 1819 Hopu would sail to Hawaii with the missionaries.
In 2010 I met Peter Brintnall Cooper, a descendant of Caleb Brintnall, at his law office in New Haven. We drove to his home, where his yellow Labrador retrievers, Caleb and Henry, kept an eye on us as he showed me paintings of Canton harbor that the sea captain had brought home from the China voyage with Obookiah.
In nearby Mystic, Conn., another discovery slipped out of a ragged journal in the archives of Mystic Seaport. Scrawls on a hand-drawn map by Brintnall told of the murder of his officer Elihu Mix, who died aboard the Triumph in Honolulu Harbor after allegedly eating a poisoned fish dinner sent to the ship.
An 1886 memoir by Mix's grandson Edward Mix fingers the poisoner as "the Queen of the Islands," motivated by Brintnall's offer to carry a Hawaiian prince back to New England for an education. The ailing King Kamehameha wanted his heirs to learn Western ways, but if Prince Liholiho went his guardian, Queen Kaahamanu, might have lost power. (Mix's accusation is not part of historical records.)
Luckily for Brintnall, he was ashore and missed the dinner. He sailed on to Kealakekua, where he met Obookiah and recruited him for his crew.
Further finds came from another branch of the Brintnall family in 2012, when a friend in the Bay Area found the address of a family who owned an 1840s portrait of Caleb Brintnall, painted by Thomas Rossiter.
I sent a letter. A week later Jim Dodds called me. A direct descendant of Capt. Brintnall, he had the original painting.
When I visited him at his condo in Stockton, Calif., Dodds, who was suffering from a disabling illness, welcomed me and laid out a treasure trove of unpublished Brintnall material, much of it related to his voyages to Hawaii.
I sensed that, when healthy, Dodds had been as adventurous as his ancestor. He related tales of cruising aboard a sailboat to the Line Islands, where a cape on Fanning Island was named for Brintnall in the late 1700s.
Dodds' mother had gathered items from the family's collection and organized them in a loose-leaf folder. One passage from a journal told of Obookiah swimming long distances in New Haven Harbor, a feat that amazed onlookers.
Dodds had a copy of the first edition of Obookiah's "Memoirs" inscribed with Brintnall's signature, written in neat script.
I put him in touch with Peter Cooper, and these two lines of the Brintnall family, separated for generations, were linked before Dodds died in 2013.
In new haven I also visited Yale University, where brick-walled Connecticut Hall, built in the mid-1700s, still stands. Here Dwight found Obookiah in tears and took him under his wing. Eager to learn to read and understand the Bible, Obookiah became a servant in the home of Timothy Dwight, the president of Yale, and made friends with students.
I saw the Yale dormitory where, in 1809, Obookiah met Samuel Mills, the student leader who launched the foreign missions movement in America. The Mills family welcomed Henry as a hanai son. In nearby Torringford I stopped off to see their parsonage home, where he lived and paid his board by scything hay.
In Andover, N.H., Sally Holm, then director of publications at Phillips Academy, where Samuel had been a student, took me to an 18th-century brick building to see a room where Obookiah bunked and studied with Mills.
In 1818, while returning from a trip to Africa for the American Colonization Society to scout lands that later became part of Liberia, Samuel Mills died of consumption. Among his last words, according to a friend who sat by his bedside, was the wish to go with Obookiah to the Sandwich Islands. Unbeknownst to Mills, Obookiah had died three months earlier.
Driving northwest of Andover, along the Merrimack River, I arrived in the village of Hollis, N.H., where church historian Sarah Cushman greeted me at a Sunday morning service in the Hollis Congregational Church and afterward hosted me at a Yankee lunch. Here, in 1812, a pastor and his deacons nursed Henry back to health from a near-fatal illness. Their care led Obookiah to commit to a Christian life; his portrait hangs on the church's history wall.
On another trip I discovered that Obookiah had known young New Englanders who, as adults, led the anti-slavery movement. As a student in Cornwall, he dined often with the family of Harriet Beecher Stowe, when the future author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a child. Her younger brother, Henry Ward Beecher, became a preacher.
In an 1887 sermon, he said, "I am what I am because Henry Obookiah, from the Sandwich Islands … in my boyhood came down to my father's house and produced an impression on me which has undulated, and propagated, and gone on influencing me."
Alongside a friendly, knowledgeable Cornwall Historical Society docent, Ann Schillinger, I strolled past the room in the home where Obookiah died. In exploring historical sites, my goal was to sense the "now" of Obookiah's time; just a glance at his death site brought that feeling of immediacy.
I'm eager to discover more. Since that sunny day I chanced upon Henry's grave, my pilgrimage continues to roll on, my destiny changed by the life of this humble and accomplished young Hawaiian.
Chris Cook is a freelance writer on Kauai and former editor of The Garden Island newspaper.
(5) Portions of a spiritual history of Hawai'i, consisting of excerpts from Daniel I. Kikawa's book PERPETUATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Introduced by C. Scott Berg.
From the ancient Polynesian legends the author traces the history of the Hawaiian people from the beginning of time to the present; documenting their belief in the One Supreme God who created the heavens and the earth; and the first man, Atea, the Kumuhonua. Formed on the sixth day of creation out of the red clay, Atea became a living soul when the Supreme God breathed into his nose. Atea's wife Owa, Keolakuhonua, was created from his rib.
The legends tell of the One Supreme God's ongoing battle for the souls of the Hawaiian people, against Ilioha, the giant mo'o (dragon). From the enticement in the garden to the present time, this mo'o continues to use power, greed and selfishness to turn mankind away from the One Supreme God and His only Son, Iesu Kristo.
Painstakingly researched and documented from beginning to end, this is a history book that no one should miss!
SPIRITUAL HISTORY OF HAWAII
The Following Is From Daniel I. Kikawa's Book PERPETUATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. With the permission of the author the following consists of excerpts from Mr. Kikawa's book. For brevity, we have omitted the references as cited in his book.
The author (Daniel Kikawa) was privileged to have an interview with "Auntie" Malia Craver. Auntie Malia spoke Hawaiian as a first language and learned many things from her kupuna (elders). Her mentor was the most respected Hawaiian authority of modern times, Mary Kawena Pukui. Antie Malia told the author that although her kupuna worshipped the Supreme Being, 'Io, daily and taught her to do the same, they rarely mentioned their belief in 'Io to those outside of the 'ohana (family). Until this day, Auntie Malia does not speak of 'Io unless asked specifically about him and only if she can see that the person will not belittle her God. She said that when Christianity came to Hawai'i, there was confusion in the 'ohana because they already had a Supreme Being. In an interview in the 'Iolani Newspaper, Malia related that her ancestors said, "Let us go to this church and listen to their minister. If it is good and they are right in their teaching about their powerful God of the universe, then we will keep that same God. The reason that we have a God like theirs. If they are exaggerating that their God is better than our God, then they are wrong. We Hawaiians have had a powerful and all-knowing God from the beginning and until today." Her kupuna accepted Jehovah but never told the missionaries about 'Io because they knew that their God would be ridiculed and called the devil by the missionaries. However, she would hear her kupuna say while praying, Jehovah you are 'Io."
THE INVADER PA'AO AND HIS CRUEL FOREIGN GODS
Historically, religions and truths have often been twisted and changed by unscrupulous leaders to gain personal power and control over people. Throughout history, new "gods" and new doctrines have popped up concocted by minds bent on the domination and control of others. This was no different in Hawai'i.
Although every society has its problems, the evidence shows that the Hawaiians remembered the One Supreme God and worshiped him in relative peace until the priest pa'ao came. Fornander writes of this period that "… the kapus were few and the ceremonials easy; that human sacrifices were not practiced' and cannibalism unknown; and that government was more of a patriarchal than of a regal nature." The historian Rudy Mitchell, writes that Pa'ao was a kahuna nui (high priest), ali'i nui (high royalty), famous navigator and a sorcerer of great power. He was an ali'i nui of the sacred and powerful royal family of Ra'iatea. Pa'ao was from Vavau (Bora Bora). In ancient times, the royal house of Vavau conquered the other islands of western Tahiti and established themselves at Ra'iatea. Although this family knew of 'lo, they established a new oppressive religious system with its chief place at Taputaputea.
This royal family conquered with great numbers of warriors dedicated to naval tactics. They had a large fleet of war canoes built for speed and silence. They are said to also have designed paddles and paddling techniques to be swift and silent. It was with this technique and their special canoes that they surprised and conquered the other islands of western Tahiti. They were given the name Porapora i te nuu ta rua (first born of the fleet that strikes both ways). Malia Craver was told by her elders that Pa'ao brought many warrior with him. He probably conquered the Hawaiian Islands in the same way his family did in Tahiti, with stealth and skilled warriors.
Most historians estimate that Pa'ao came from Havai'i around A.D. 1300. He arrived with his warriors, priests (kahunas) and new rulers (ali'i). Havai'i was the ancient name Ra'iatea of the Society Group. This group of islands is more commonly known by the main island of the group, Tahiti. (The author has elected to call these islands Tahiti in this book.) It seems that the earlier voyagers from Tahiti integrated more peacefully with the Menehune. Apparently, there was intermarriage with the Menehune inhabitants and the diminishing of class distinction between the Tahitian ali'i and the commoners.
The legends say that when Pa'ao arrived, he regarded the high chief of Hawai'i, kapawa, a degenerate. The priests and ali'i were not performing the rituals they had formerly performed in Tahiti to retain mana (divine power). They did not build the necessary heiaus (temples), performing the necessary human sacrifices, or wear the red feather malo (loincloth-the symbol of royalty in Ra'iatea) of kings.
Pa'ao saw islands ripe for conquer. There was no powerful royal house or warriors trained for conquest. He returned to Ra'iatea to bring a new line of ali'i with untainted mana. Pa'ao returned to Hawai'i not only with a great many of warriors but with the ali'i, Pili. Through conquest and intermarriage with the older lines, Pili became powerful in the islands.
Pa'ao, as the high priest of the new royalty also became powerful. To consolidate his power, pa'ao instituted human sacrifices and changed the Hawaiians' religious rituals. He built the first laukini (human sacrifice) heiau (temple) on the Big Island (Hawai'i) at Waha'ula. Fornander wrote that " . . . there was a time before that, when human sacrifices were not only not of common occurrence, and an established rule, but were absolutely prohibited. Kapu ke kanaka na Kane, 'sacred is the man to Kane' . . . "
Pa'ao instituted the oppressive kapu (tapu or taboo) system and the worship of elemental spirit gods such as Pele. Fornander says that Pele worship in Hawai'i is only subsequent to this migratory period. The Pele cult was unknown to the purer faith of the older inhabitants and her name does not even appear in the creation accounts.
Pa'ao also changed the benign god, Ku, into a vengeful and bloodthirsty god of war. He also brought the Kanaloa (Tangaloa) Cult from Tahiti, elevating Kanaloa to a major creation god. The class separation between the Ali'i with their mana and the common Hawaiian again became a huge gulf.
Fornander wrote, "In the polity of government initiated during this period, and strengthened as ages rolled on, may be noted the hardening and confirming the divisions of society, the exaltation of the nobles and the increase of their prerogatives, the separation and immunity of the priestly order, and the systematic setting down, if not actual debasement of the commoners, the Maka'ainana."
What most people today regard as the religious system of the old Hawaiian people, was not their true religion --- it was a foreign religion introduced by the invader Pa'ao.
Pa'ao's voyages from Tahiti were the last from other Polynesian islands. The 19th century Tahitian scholar, Teuira Henry, wrote that there formerly was an alliance of Polynesian nations which ended around 600 years ago. This alliance ended because of a dispute at an international meeting of navigators. He said that at the great marae (temple) of taputapuatea in Raiates, a Maori was murdered and a curse was put on the marae by one of their priests. Navigators from the different Polynesian nations never met again. By the time Captain Cook arrived, voyaging canoes were only a dim and distant memory.
THE KAPU SYSTEM
The ali'i convinced the common people that they had inherited divine power (mana) and were divinely chosen by the gods to rule. The kapu system was structured around the concept of protecting the mana. Complex kapus (laws) had to be kept to keep the mana intact and maintain its balance in nature for the land to be fruitful. Every aspect of Hawaiian life was controlled by strict requirements to maintain the balance and harmony of the mana. While there were many laws that encouraged the wise use of resources, and so forth, the social/political aspects of the kapu system provided an open door for abuse. Although ali'i usually kept the kapus, they did this because the belief in mana and the kapus was what kept them in power. High ali'i were never put to death for breaking kapus, although commoners were sometimes sacrificed to correct the "imbalance in the mana" caused by an ali'i's sin.
The Hawaiian people endured much suffering and bondage under this new religious system. The ali'i and kahuna had total power in this system and the common people had no control or say about who came to power. It was very rare indeed for the common people to overthrow an ali'i, and only another ali'i could take his place. Although there were exemptions, the majority of the ali'i and kahunas used their power for personal gain and not for the good of the people. The kapu system was used to keep control and wealth within the select ali'i/kahuna group. Laws strictly controlled every aspect of life.
For instance, kapus dictated that men and women had to eat separately and were restricted to only certain foods. Common women faced death for eating bananas, coconuts and other foods. Common men also faced death for eating certain fish and other foods. If a commoner stepped on an ali'i's land (even if the boundary was not well marked), or if an ali'i's shadow fell on him, he was also put to death.
An ali'i could take commoners who committed any of these "sins" and use them for human sacrifice or even bait for shark hunting. There were ovens for burning humans at Punchbowl and Waikiki. Commoners were drowned at Kewalo Basin (Honolulu) for breaking kapus. Human heads, of those offered in sacrifice, were put on stakes that lined the Pakaka temple at the foot of Fort Street (Downtown Honolulu). At the heiau located at the foot of Diamond Head, men had their limbs broken with clubs, their eyes scooped out, and then were left bleeding and maimed for three days. They were later clubbed to death with blows to the shoulders rather than to the head, thus prolonging the suffering before death.
The common people owned no land under the new religious system, in fact, they had no rights and nothing they could call their own. An ali'i could take anything he wanted from a commoner: his food, his belongings, his favorite pig, his children, or even his wife. The ali'i could "tax" most of a commoner's food away and force him to work on his building projects. It is estimated that two-thirds of what the common people produced was taken by high ali'i, chiefs and kahunas. In fact, the common people were so maltreated that when the first anthropologists arrived, they thought that the Hawaiians were comprised of two different races - the huge ali'i and the scrawny common people!
Sometimes the kapus were bent to show "mercy", if one could call it that. A five year old girl who ate a banana was treated "mercifully" by the kahunas; they didn't kill her but only scooped out one of her eyes. When the high ali'i, Kapi'olani, was a young girl, she ate a banana. Because she was a high ali'i, they did not put her to death. Instead, the kahuna took her favorite servant, a child, and strangled him on the altar of the heiau instead. Many years later, Kapi'olani asked the kahuna who had strangled her young friend why he had done this. The kahuna replied, "Those were dark days, though we priests knew better all the time." The kahuna continued, "It was power we sought over the minds of the people, to influence and control them." Kapi'olani cried out, "Oh why did not the Christians come sooner and teach us better things!' She then hid her face in her hands and wept.
One of the most shocking revelations to this author has been that Pa'ao, and his Tahitian kahuna and ali'i, knew about 'Io! Considering this, the words of the Kapi'olani's kahuna spoke are even more grievous --- ". . . we priests knew better all the time. It was power we sought over the minds of the people, to influence and control them."
Even after Western contact, the common people were forced to harvest sandalwood like slaves until their bodies became deformed from carrying the heavy logs. A famine arose when thousands of commoners, forced by the ali'i to harvest sandalwood, could not tend their farms.
THE GOD KU
Not only were these harsh requirements put on the common people but they were constantly drafted into armies to fight when the ali'i wanted more power. Captured commoners were used as slaves or for sacrifice. The Hawaiian people were also decimated by these wars. By the time of Kamehameha, there had been some 300 years of nearly constant warfare.
John Young, Kamehameha's trusted foreign advisor, said in 1826 of the conditions he had observed during his forty-nine years in Hawaii, "I have known thousands of defenseless human beings cruelly massacred in their exterminating wars. I have seen multitudes . . . offered in sacrifice to their idol gods . . . "
The god Ku, and the new system, had severely oppressed the Hawaiian people. Through all this oppression, the common people, the maka'ainana, retained great Aloha in their hearts. Their time of freedom from this oppressive system and cruel gods was soon to come.
A young warrior named Kamehameha rose from the ranks of the ali'i. He used the technology of the white man to conquer and unify the islands of Hawai'i. By unifying the Hawaiian Islands, King Kamehameha played a vital role in the maka'ainanas' coming freedom from the kapu system.
THE BONDAGE OF THE CRUEL GODS IS BROKEN
Finally, on October 3, 1819, six months after the death of Kamehameha the Great, the bondage of the kapu system was broken. This day was the first kapu day announcing the coming Makahiki, the sacred days of Lono, the God of Peace. Two brave women, wives of Kamehameha the Great, Ka'ahumanu and Ke'opuolani, and the new king, Liholiho (Kamehameha II), openly broke the kapu by eating together at a formal state occasion.
The Hawaiian people were in a state of shock! This was an undeniable public act of defiance. It sent an unmistakable message; the kapu system was no longer honored by the king and the highest ali'i in the land.
These three highest ali'i were supported by Kamehameha's prime minister, Kalaimoku, and also the highest kahuna in the land, Hewahewa, who was a direct descendant of Pa'ao. Hewahewa was the first one to set torch to a heiau! Hewahewa also stated, "I knew the wooden images of deities, carved by our own hands, could not supply our wants, but worshipped them because it was a custom of our fathers . . . My thought has always been, there is one only great God, dwelling in the heavens." Ke'opu'olani, the highest ali'i in the land said, "Our gods have done us no good, they are cruel."
Liholiho sent messengers to all the districts of Hawai'i ordering the heiaus desecrated and the images of the gods overthrown.
Contrary to popular belief, the missionaries did not force the Hawaiian people to desecrate their heiaus and destroy the images of their gods. The Hawaiian people, following the lead of the ali'i, rose up and broke the bondage of that evil system on their own.! The overthrow of the kapu system happened six month before the missionaries arrived!
The One True God, whom the Hawaiian people had worshiped before the coming of Pa'ao and the kapu system, was sovereignly preparing his people to return to Him!
In 1809, ten years before the overthrow of the kapu system, an orphan from the wars of Kamehameha was offered passage to the United States by an American sea captain. He signed on as a crew member of this ship and was given the English name of Henry by the American sea captain. This orphan's Hawaiian name was Opukaha'ia.
Six years earlier, when he was just a boy of ten, Opukaha'ia had seen his mother and father murdered in front of him. As he was trying to flee with his baby brother on his back, a warrior threw a spear at them that killed his baby brother. Opukaha'ia wanted to flee the horrors he experienced in the Hawai'i of his day and to learn about the big and wonderful world beyond the sea.
Even though he was still a boy, Opukaha'ia knew the Hawaiian gods well. He had been apprenticed to his uncle who was the high kahuna of the island of Hawai'i. He had learned the rituals of the kahuna in his uncle's luakini heiau on Kealakekua Bay, the same bay Captain Cook had landed at nearly thirty years earlier.
Later, when Henry was introduced to the One True God, he came to realize the absurdity of his old gods. He said, "Hawai'i gods! They wood, burn. Me go home, put 'em in a fire, burn 'em up. The no see, no hear, no anything. We make them, Our God, (looking up.) He make us." Opukaha'ia accepted Jesus Christ with a glad heart. Opukaha'ia had found the One True God who was kind and merciful, who loved him, and who even sent His son Jesus to die for him.
Eventually ending up in Connecticut, Henry was found weeping on the steps of Yale college because he desired so much to learn. He was taken in by Timothy Dwight, the president of Yale college, and began his western education. Henry's rigorous training for memorizing chants and genealogies at the heiau, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. His sharpened mind learned quickly and the Americans were greatly impressed. Within a few years Henry became quite a scholar, acquiring the equivalent of a Ph. D. degree today.
His great love for God and for his people gave Henry a burning desire to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with his people. He desired to set them free from the oppressive gods and system he had known so well. Henry went to Foreign Mission School to become a missionary to his people. He also traveled throughout New England giving impassioned pleas for churches to send missionaries to Hawai'i.
Opukaha'ia translated the Book of Genesis into Hawaiian directly from the Hebrew. He found that the Hebrew language was similar to his own and, therefore, easier to translate into Hawaiian than the English. He had begun work on Hawaiian grammar, dictionary and spelling books when he fell fatally ill.
Opukaha'ia died praying and weeping for his people, but also with the peace that comes from knowing the abiding love of his God. However, Henry's life was not in vain, God would answer his prayer, his people would hear the gospel of Iesu Kristo.
Henry's Memoirs, published in 1819, became the best selling book in New England. It greatly inspired and helped to finance and staff the first Mission Board to native peoples. Up until that time, many people in New England believed that the "heathen" could not be educated and therefore could not accept Christ. By proving to be an exemplary scholar and Christian, this young man shattered both of these misconceptions.
Henry's life not only opened up missions to the Hawaiian people, but to Native Americans and other ethnic groups as well! The first mission to Hawai'i departed Boston in October of 1819; the same time that the Hawaiian people on the other side of the globe were overthrowing their old gods! How wondrously the One True God works!
THE MISSION BEGINS
On October 23, 1819, the day before the Makahiki began and just twenty days after the Hawaiian people broke the bondage of the kapu system, the missionaries set sail from Boston Harbor. With them were four Hawaiians from the mission school. They sailed from the other side of the world, leaving their comfortable homes and pleasant and secure lifestyle. They had given up their pleasant lives and their families to spend five months and 18,000 miles in cramped quarters on the brig Thaddeus. They did all this to minister to the Hawaiian people, a people they did not even know.
In late March of 1820, the missionaries arrived. Although full of human faults, all the historians agree that the missionaries had come to Hawai'i with the good of the Hawaiian people in their hearts. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "With all their deficiency of candor, humor, and common sense, the missionaries are the best and most useful whites in the Pacific." In fact, the Hawaiian people were not so much won over by the teachings of the Love of God or the fear of damnation as they were by the goodness of the missionaries who sacrificed themselves daily to serve the needs of the people.
With the later group of missionaries came another group of Tahitians. This group of Tahitians did not come to rule or to bring death but to serve the Hawaiian people as missionaries of Jesus Christ. Tahitians, being introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ before the Hawaiians, were brought to help spread the gospel. This was because their language was so similar to Hawaiian. This new group of Tahitians came with the knowledge and power to destroy the evil religion of Pa'ao who had come centuries before them.
The above material taken from: Portions of a spiritual history of Hawai'i, consisting of excerpts from Daniel I. Kikawa's book PERPETUATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Introduced by C. Scott Berg.
(6) An essay by C. Scott Berg, entitled THE GREAT HAWAII MIRACLE
THE GREAT HAWAII MIRACLE
By C. Scott Berg
Isolated by time and space, alone and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles in all directions lies Hawaii, the outermost part of the world. Captain James Cook did not discover Hawaii until January 18th, 1778, 286 years after the discovery of America. Cook took a year exploring the Islands laying in provisions and making ships repairs. Unfortunately, Cook and his crew wore out their welcome and on February 14th in a skirmish at Kealakekua Bay Cook was killed. Captain Clerke the second in command of the mission wanted to smooth things over with the Hawaiian's and make peace with the chiefs. A few more skirmishes occurred but on the 21st of February 1779 the Hawaiians returned some of Captain Cook's bones and there was peace. No other ships came to Hawaii until 1786.
The fur traders and merchant ships heading to China realized they could economically barter for provisions in Hawaii. For instance any type of iron, a common nail, chisel, or knife, could fetch far more fresh fruit meat and water than a large sum of money would in any other port. The Hawaiian alii (royalty) and chiefs were eager to obtain modern weapons and rewarded those captains who supplied them handsomely. The captains of these ships not only sought food and supplies, but manpower. As it was a frequent occurrence for sailors to die or desert on these voyages good willing sailors were hard to find. The strong adventurous Hawaiians were more than up to the task of sailing on these tall ships.
Five of these adventurous Hawaiian sailors Henry Obookiah, Thomas Hopu, William Kanui, John Honolii, and George Tamoree made it to New England were they became Christians. These young men leading very exciting and adventurous lives separately all found The Lord Jesus in there own unique way. Their desire was to return to Hawaii as missionaries. They came from Hawaii were The Kapu religious system demanded human sacrifice for the breaking of a tabu. If men and women ate together, the penalty was death. If a woman ate pork or certain fish or fruits the penalty was death. If the shadow of a commoner fell on an alii or chief the penalty was death. The Hawaiian gods were hard taskmasters demanding all manner of sacrifice and offerings. The Kapu system was enforced by the alii who gave authority to high chiefs and the high chiefs gave power to their various sub-chiefs and at the bottom of the system was the common Hawaiian. All of the commoners were slaves to the chiefs and the chiefs were slaves to the alii. You owned nothing except by the graces of your superior.
The chiefs and alii were constantly fighting for power. From these warring chiefs arose Kamehameha The Great. Through intelligence, strength and some help from the English and their guns, conquered and united all of the Islands (Kauai was not conquered but did submit to Kamehameha's rule) to became their King.
In one of these battles for power between two warring chiefs, Henry Obookiah at the age of about twelve helplessly watched his parents being butchered before his eyes. Henry escaped with his infant brother, but as he was running with his brother slung over his back the child was struck with a spear and died. Henry was then forced to live with the man who killed his mother and father. After that, it appeared he would be sacrificed to a god for the other prisoner with him had just been thrown over a cliff as a sacrifice. Being alert to the peril he took a chance and escaped. Shortly after an uncle rescued him.
Life in Hawaii had not been good to Henry and when he saw that tall ship, the Triumph in Kealakekua Bay he swam out to it, with all the hopes and desires of leaving Hawaii for a better life. Captain Caleb Brintnall through interpreters realized Henry wanted to leave Hawaii on his ship. Henry now about fifteen years old was signed on as a cabin boy. Henry met Thomas Hopu another Hawaiian boy in search of adventure on the ship. Both Henry and Thomas would become original members of the American Board Mission to Hawaii; though only one would return to Hawaii. As fate would have it at the age of 26 in Cornwall Connecticut, Henry would succumb to the typhus fever on February 17th, 1818. Henry's testimony was published and became a best seller. The profits of the book "Memoirs of Henry Obookiah" were used to finance the missionary journeys to Hawaii and other lands.
Inspired and encouraged by the dramatic testimony and conversion of Henry Obookiah the first missionaries sailed for Hawaii, on October 23rd, 1819 aboard the Thaddeus. The Missionaries sold all that they possessed, farms, homes, and their future in America. They made a solemn commitment to God and each other to spend the rest of their lives serving the Hawaiian people. Yet, they knew all to well that they needed the approval of King Kamehameha and that the Kapu Priests would not welcome their presence. On the morning of March 30th, 1820 the missionaries saw Hawaii for the first time. The Thaddeus cruised along the Kohala coast on a southwest course nearing Kawaihae. The wind and water became calm so Captain Blanchard sent a small rowboat with James Hunnewell a ships officer, Thomas Hopu and John Honolii two of the Hawaiian Missionaries ashore. Their task was to find out the whereabouts of King Kamehameha and the state of his Kingdom. One disapproving word from the King and the mission would be over before it had begun. Minutes passed like hours as they watched for the boats return. Finally three hours, an eternity, later the boat returned. Thomas and John were so excited they could only speak in Hawaiian, then James Hunnewell spoke up with these incredible words:
"Kamehameha is dead; his son Liholiho is king; the tabus and kapus are abolished; the images are burned; the temples are destroyed. There has been war. Now there is peace."
It was obvious to the missionaries that God had prepared the way for them. The great Hawaiian miracle had taken place all of the obstacles that could have prevented the Gospel from being preached had been removed. Even Hewahewa the highest kahuna (priest) and direct descendant of Paau, the original Kahuna from Tahiti, was the first to set fire to a heiau (temple). He declared:
"I knew the wooden images of deities, carved by our own hands, could not supply our wants, but worshiped them because it was a custom of our fathers. My thoughts has always been, there is only one great God, dwelling in the heavens." Hewahewa also prophesied that a new God was coming and he went to Kawaihae to wait for the new God, at the very spot were the missionaries first landed.
King Kamehameh died five months before the missionaries sailed but they had no knowledge of his death before their departure. In less than the span of one year from his death, and as the missionaries were at sea, the Kapu system had been dissolved, and a civil war had taken place. Only the creator of the universe, Jehovah, could have scripted these timely events. In the midst of this chaos, the stage is divinely set for the entrance of the missionaries with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The missionaries brought a message of peace, tranquility, and Aloha…
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands. Isaiah 42:8-12
The Following Is From Daniel I. Kikawa's Book
PERPETUATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
With the permission of the author
the following consists of excerpts from Mr. Kikawa's book. For brevity, we have omitted the references as cited in his book.
THE MAKAHIKI SYMBOL
The tradition of the ships with white wings may have been the progenitor of the Hawaiians' symbol for Lono during the Makahiki. The Makahiki heralded the time of Lono, the God of Peace. The Makahiki symbol carried during this time was called Father Lono and looked like a square sail. The Polynesians' canoes did not use square sails but triangular sails.
When Captain Cook arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, his ship was resplendent with the symbol of Lono. Cook's ship had sailed around the islands in a clockwise direction, the same direction the symbol of Lono was carried through the islands during the Makahiki. Cook then sailed into Kealakekua (short for Keala ke Akua, meaning The Way of God ) Bay, an area considered sacred to Lono. No wonder the Hawaiians believed him to be Lono! They had always expected Lono, The God of Peace, to arrive during the Makahiki season as the stars had foretold. When the Hawaiians eventually realized that Cook was not Lono, he was killed.
Forty years later, after the death of Kamehameha the Great, Hewahewa, the highest kahuna in Hawai'i and a direct descendent of Pa'ao, became the first to set torch to a heiau and destroy it. When the old evil system was overthrown on the first kapu day announcing the coming Makahiki, Hewahewa, being the high priest, knew the Prince of Peace was on his way.
Hewahewa knew the prophesy given by Kalaikuahulu a generation before. This prophesy said that a communication would be made from heaven (the residence of Ke Akua Mooli, the God of the Hawaiians) by the real God. This communication would be entirely different from anything they had known. The prophecy also said that the kapus of the country would be overthrown. Hewahewa also knew the prophesy of the prophet Kapihe, who announced near the end of Kamehameha's conquests, "The islands will be united, the kapu of the gods will be brought low, and those of the earth (the common people) will be raised up." Kamehameha had already unified the islands, therefore, when the kapus were overthrown, Hewahewa knew a communication from God was imminent.
After the overthrow of the kapu system, Hewahewa retired to Kawaihae, to wait confidently for the coming of a "new and greater God."
With so many ships with white sails coming to Hawaii at that time, how would he know which ship would bring the knowledge of the true God of Peace? He could not have known that, although the missionaries set sail on October 23rd, one day before the Makahiki began, they would take six months to arrive. Therefore, it was quite prophetic that, when he saw the missionaries' ship off in the distance, he announced "The new God is coming." One must wonder how Hewahewa knew that this was the ship.
Hewahewa departed for Kailua Bay (formally Kaiakeakua—Seaside of God) ahead of the missionaries to await their arrival with the King. After Hewahewa's departure, the missionaries' ship entered Kawaihae. Hewahewa's household told the Hawaiians accompanying the missionaries the astounding news that the kapus had been overthrown! The missionaries ship was then directed to Kailua Bay were the King was in residence.
At Kailua, Hewahewa gave an even more astounding prophecy, he pointed to a rock on the shore and said to the new king, "O king, here the true God will come." When the missionaries arrived at Kailua, they landed their skiff on that very rock! This rock is commonly known as the "Plymouth Rock of Hawai'i.
Hewahewa later retired to Waimea, O'ahu and became one of the first members of the church established there. This church is now located in Haleiwa and is called the Lili'uokalani Protestant Church.
Another prophecy was fulfilled by the coming of the missionaries. At the close of one symbolic Makahiki ceremonies, as the god Lono was placed in a canoe and sent back to Kahiki, a prophecy was given. The Hawaiians had a tradition that one day the real Lono, of whom this was a symbol, would return. The prophecy was that the real Lono god would depart but would return in a small black box. It also said that the people would not know him or recognize the language he spoke. When the missionaries were allowed to land at the "Plymouth Rock of Hawai'i", the first thing they brought ashore was a black bible box. Upon opening the box, no Hawaiian could understand the writing. The Hawaiian priests declared that the prophecy had been fulfilled. Lono, the God of Peace, had finally returned in his new form.
(7) THE MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH with Introduction by C. Scott Berg
THE MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH
by C. Scott Berg
The purpose of this introduction is to give you some background information and insight into how the Memoirs came about. In the eighteen-hundreds few Christian movements or endeavors brought more people to Christ than "The Memoirs of Henry Obookiah".
The Memoirs changed the way the white man thought about the dark man, and the way the dark man thought about God. Civilized people thought the "heathen" could not learn or understand the God of the Bible. But then they met Henry Obookiah, a brown man from a "heathen" land, who could out-think, out-spell, and out-read most of the civilized folks he met.
Henry Obookiah was not a proud man but humble and always presenting himself as a Christian. He was the first Hawaiian to become a Christian. His actual name in Hawai'ian is Opukaha'ia which means "stomach split open." We can only speculate as to the reason for such a name. Perhaps a chief's wife had a child born by Caeserean section and Opukaha'ia was given that name to commemorate the event.
The ship captain probably gave him the name of Henry. It was a practice to give Hawai'ians English names, as they were easier for the white people to pronounce and remember. The New Englanders gave Henry the name Obookiah as it was the way his original name sounded to them. In his letters and other documents, he signed his name as Henry Obookiah.
After he arrived in New England, Henry was found by Edwin Dwight weeping while sitting on the steps of Yale college. He was crying because he had no one to teach him. Edwin was so moved by Henry that he began teaching him how to read and write. Later he introduced him to his father Timothy Dwight who was the president of Yale collage. And so Henry's education began on the steps of Yale. Henry was an exceptional scholar. He translated the Book of Genesis from Hebrew into Hawai'ian, and was also working on a Hawai'ian dictionary, grammar, and spelling book shortly before his death.
Henry was a powerful evangelist in the New England area. He inspired and touched hundreds of individuals. He awakened them to the need of sending missionaries to Hawai'i. Large sums of money were donated for the Hawai'ian mission because of Henry's speeches and sermons. It is safe to say that the Foreign Mission Society received much of it's funding because of Henry's anointed sermons.
Everyone assumed that Henry was chosen to be the one to bring the Kingdom of Hawai'i to Christianity. But alas on February 17th,1818 at the age of 26 Henry died and so did the hope of evangelizing Hawai'i. At Henry's funeral, Lyman Beecher said in his sermon:
"We thought surely this is he who shall comfort Owhyhee (Hawai'i) …We bury with his dust in the grave all our high raised hopes of his future activity in the cause of Christ."
The Christian community was so devastated by this Hawai'ian man's death . . . one who they loved so dearly . . . that they deeply etched these words into his tombstone:
a native of
His arrival in this country gave rise
to the Foreign mission school,
of which he was a worthy member.
he was once an Idolater, and was
designed for a Pegan Priest: but by
the grace of God and by the prayers
and instructions of pious friends,
he became a Christian.
He was eminent for piety and
missionary Zeal. When almost prepared
to return to his native Isle to preach the
Gospel, God took to himself. In his last
sickness, he wept and prayed for Owhyhee,
but was submissive. He died without fear
with a heavenly smile on his
countenance and glory in his soul.
Feb, 17, 1818;
As the voice of Abel's blood cried to God from the earth, so was the death of Obookiah crying to God for Hawai'i. Shortly after Henry's death, Edwin Dwight, Henry's friend and teacher was now to become his biographer. He began by collecting letters that Henry had written and other biographical information from Henry's many friends. Just a few months after his death, the "Memoirs of Henry Obookiah" was published.
The book was a best seller that touched the heart of a nation. Farms were sold and the money donated to the Foreign Mission School which would not have existed if not for Henry. This large influx of funding to the Mission School was able to send missionaries to many nations. The Memoirs were eventually published in three languages. Woman and men solicited for marriage so that they may be considered to be sent as missionaries to Hawai'i and other lands. All of the first company of missionaries to Hawai'i were inspired to leave their comfortable lives in New England for a life in Hawai'i. And so the dream, the cry, of Henry Obookiah became the dream of thousands.
C. Scott Berg
MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH
By Edwin Dwight
Edited by Edith Wolfe
History before reaching America
HENRY OBOOKIAH was a native of Hawaii, the most important and populous of the Sandwich Islands. He was born about the year 1792. His parents ranked with the common people; but his mother was related to the family of the king. Her name was Kummóoólah. The name of his father is unknown. When Obookiah was at the age of ten or twelve, both his parents were slain before his eyes, "in a war," to use his own language, "made after the old king died, to see who should be the greatest among them." The only surviving member of the family, besides himself, was an infant brother two or three months old. This little brother he hoped to save from the destruction that befell his parents, and took him upon his back to flee from the enemy; but was overtaken, and the child cruelly destroyed. The circumstances of this interesting scene are described in a "Narrative of Heathen Youth," by Rev. Joseph Harvey, as taken from the relation of Obookiah.
"Two parties were contending for the dominion of the island. The warriors met and a dreadful slaughter ensued. The party to which the father of Obookiah belonged was overpowered. The conquerors, having driven their antagonists from the field, next turned their rage upon the villages and families of the vanquished. The alarm was given of their approach. The father, taking his wife and two children, fled to the mountains. There he concealed himself for several days with his family in a cave. But, at length, being driven by thirst to leave their retreat, they went in quest of water to a neighboring spring. Here they were surprised by a party of the enemy while in the act of quenching their thirst. The father, obeying the first impulse of nature, fled, but the cries of his wife and children soon brought him back again for their protection. But seeing the enemy near, again he fled. The enemy seeing the affection of the father for his family, having seized his wife and children, put them to torture, in order to decoy him from his retreat. The artifice succeeded. Unable to bear the piercing cries of his family, again he appeared, and fell into their hands, and, with his wife, was cut in pieces. While this was going on, Obookiah being then a lad of about twelve years, took his infant brother upon his back and attempted to make his escape. But he was pursued, and his little brother pierced through with a Pahooa, or spear, while on his back. He himself was saved alive, because he was not young enough to give them trouble, nor old enough to excite their fears."
Obookiah, being now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, was taken home to the house of the very man who murdered his parents. With him he remained until he was found by an uncle, who having obtained the consent of his keeper, took him into his own family and treated him as his child. This uncle was a priest, and had the rank of high priest of the island. It was his design to educate Obookiah for the same service. In pursuance of this purpose, he taught him long prayers, and trained him to the task of repeating them daily in the temple of the idol. This ceremony he sometimes commenced before sunrise in the morning, and at other times was employed in it during the whole of the greater part of the night. Parts of these prayers he often repeated to gratify the curiosity of his friends, after he came to this country. They regarded the weather, the general prosperity of the island, its defence from enemies, and especially the life and happiness of the king.
He continued with his uncle, and in this employment, until he took his departure form his native country, to go in quest of another, where he hoped to find the happiness which the death of his parents had taken from him, and which nothing now to be found in his own country could supply.
His feelings on this subject, with some account of his situation while he remained upon the island, of his departure for America, and his reception in this country, are found in a history of his past life written by himself several years before his death. As this, to all the readers of these memoirs, will doubtless be interesting, considered as the production of a heathen youth, the greater part of it will be inserted, with but few slight alteration. His own ideas, and, in general, his own language will be preserved. The history commences at the time of his parents' death.
"The same man," says he, "which killed my father and mother took me home to his own house. His wife was an amiable woman, and very kind, and her husband also; yet, on account of his killing my parents, I did not feel contented. After I lived with this man about a year or two, I found one of my uncles, who was a priest among them; but he knew not what I was-(for I was quite small when he saw me at home with my parents.) He inquired the name of my parents-I told him. As soon as he heard the name of my parents, tears burst out and he wept bitterly. He wished me not to go back and live with that man which killed my father and mother, but live with him as long as I live. I told him I must go back and see that man whether he was willing to give me a release. This was done. I went home, and told the man all what my uncle had told me.
But the saying seemed to him very unpleasing. As soon as he had heard all what I said to him, he was very tormented with anger, as if he would look me in pieces that moment. He would not let me go, not till he die, or else he take my life away. Not long after this I went and told my uncle what the man had told me, and he would no more let me go back to the man's house, until the man come after me, then he would converse with him on this subject. After I had lived with my uncle to or three days, the man came to his house to take me home. But my uncle told him that I was his own child-that he would not let me go back and live with him; else if he take me, he should take both of us. Yet the man did say but little, because my uncle was a priest. But he told my uncle that if I should live with him, he must take kind care of me, as he himself had done. He told him he would by all means. When all this was done, I lived with my uncle a number of years."
It was probably during this period, and before peace was entirely restored to the Island, that an event occurred in which the hand of Providence was strikingly visible in rescuing Obookiah from a second exposure to a violent and untimely death. Let the reader mark the goodness of God, and the kind designs, as in the case of Joseph, which he had to accomplish in behalf of Henry's kindred and countrymen, as well as himself, in sparing his life. He, with an aunt, the only surviving sister of his father, had fallen into the hands of the enemy. On a certain day it came to his knowledge that his aunt, and perhaps himself, was to be put to death. The first opportunity he could find he attempted to make his escape. And by creeping through a hole into a cellar, and going out on the opposite side, he got away unobserved, and wandered off at a considerable distance from the house in which he had been kept. But it was not long before his aunt was brought out by a number of the enemy, and taken to a precipice, from which she was thrown and destroyed. He saw this-and now feeling himself more than ever alone, as soon as the enemy had retired he ran toward the fatal spot, resolved to throw himself over and die with this friend, whom perhaps he now considered as the last individual of his kindred. But he was discovered by one of the chiefs or head-men of the party, who ordered two men to pursue him and bring him back. He was overtaken just before he reached the precipice, carried back to the quarters of the enemy, and mercifully saved for purposes which will appear in the subsequent history.
"At the death of my parents," he says, "I was with them; I saw them killed with a bayonet-and with them my little brother, not more that two or three months old. So that I was left alone without father and mother in this wilderness world. Poor boy, thought I within myself, after they were gone, are there any father or mother of mine at home, that I may go and find them at home? No, poor boy am I. And while I was at play with other children-after we had made an end of playing, they return to their parents-but I returned into tears;-for I have no home, neither father nor mother. I was now brought away from my home to a strange place, and I thought of nothing more but want of father or mother, and to cry day and night.
"While I was with my uncle, for some time I began to think about leaving that country to got to some other part of the world. I did not care where I shall go to. I thought to myself that if I should get away, and go to some other country, probably I may find some comfort, more than to live there without father and mother. I thought it will be better for me to go than to stay. About this time there was a ship come from New-York-Captain Brintnall, master. As soon as it got into the harbor, in the very place where I lived, I thought no more but to take the best chance I had, and if the captain have no objection, to take me as one of his own servants, and to obey his word. As soon as the ship anchored I went on board. The captain soon inquired whose boy I was. Yet I know not what he says to me, for I could not speak the English language. But there was a young man who could speak English, and he told the captain that I was the minister's nephew-(the minister of that place.) The captain wished me to stay on board the ship that night, and the next day go home. This very much satisfied me, and I consented to stay. At evening the captain invited me to eat supper with him. And there sat another boy with us who was to be my fellow-traveler, by name Thomas Hopoo-Thomas, a name given him by the super-cargo of the ship. After supper the Captain made some inquiry to see if we were willing to come to America; and soon I made a motion with my head that I was willing to go. This man was very agreeable, and his kindness much delighted my heart, as if I was his own son, and he was my own father. Thus I still continue thankful for his kindness toward me.
"The next morning the captain wished me to go on shore and see my uncle whether he was willing to let me go with him or not. I then got into a canoe and went on shore and found my uncle. He was at home. He asked me where was I been through all that night before. I told him that I was on board the ship, and staid there all the night. And I told him what my object was, and all what the captain invite me to. As soon as my uncle heard that I was going to leave him, he shut me up in a room, for he was not willing to let me go. While I was in the room, my old grandmother coming in asked me what was my notion of leaving them, and go with people whom I know not. I told her it is better for me to go than to stay there. She said if I should leave them I shall not see them any more. I told her that I shall come back in a few months, if I live. Her eyes were filled with tears. She said that I was very foolish boy. This was all she said, and she went out from the room. As soon as she went out, I looked around, expecting to find a hole that I might escape out of the house. And as soon as I saw a little hole in the side of the house, I got through it and went on board the ship. When my uncle heard that I was on board the ship, he got into his canoe and came board the ship inquiring after me. No sooner had he made some inquiry but I was there discovered by one of our countrymen who hand the care of the ship, and was brought forth, and come to my uncle's house. He would not let me go unless I pay him a hog for his god: (for I was taken under his care, to be made for a minister.)"
Here there is an interruption in the history, and it does not appear whether the exacted price was paid or not for his discharge and permission to come to America. Permission, however, was soon obtained.
"My uncle," he says, "would now delay me no longer, and I took my leave of them and bid them farewell. My parting with them was disagreeable to them and to me, but I was willing to leave all my relations, friends and acquaintance; expected to see them no more in this world. We set out on our journey towards the Seal-Islands, on the N. W. part of America. On these islands the captain left about twenty or thirty men for sealing-business on his way to Hawaii. We found them safe. Among these men I found a very desirable young man, by name Russel Hubbard, a son of Gen. Hubbard, of New-Haven. This Mr. Hubbard was a member of Yale College. He was a friend of Christ. Christ was with him when I saw him, but I knew it not. 'Happy is the man that put his trust in God!' Mr. Hubbard was very kind to me on our passage, and taught me the letters in English spelling-book."
How remarkable that he should have fallen immediately into the hands of one who sought his improvement, and felt concerned for his spiritual welfare.
"We continued on these islands during six months, then took our course towards Hawaii. Two of my countrymen were with me in the ship. One of them concluded to stay at Hawaii, and the other to proceed on the voyage. The ship delayed no longer than a few days, and we set out for China on our course to America. On our way towards China, my poor friend Thomas fell overboard. He was so careless, not knowing what he was about, he went outside of the ship and drew salt-water to wash plates with (for he was a cabin's boy.) When the ship rolled he got in the water. The captain calls all hands upon the deck, and ordered to have all the sails pull down in order to let about. While we were working upon our sails, my friend Thomas was out of sight. While he was in the water he pulls all off his clothes in order to be lighter. We turned our ship and went back after him. We found him almost dead. He was in the water two and a half hours. O how glad was I then to see him-for I thought he was already gone.
"We took our direct course from hence as it was before. Soon we landed at an island belonging to that part of China, and in the evening after the sundown we anchored. On the next morning we fired one of our cannon for a pilot. When we had fired once or twice, there was another ship of war belonging to the British, which stood about four or five miles apart from us. As soon as they heard our cannon they sent one of their brigs. We were then taken by it for a while. They took our captain and he went on board the ship of war. He was there for a number of days. After this the Englishmen agreed to let us go. We therefore leave that place, called Mocow (Macao) and direct our course to the city of Canton. We were there until we sold out all our seal-skins and loaded our ship with other sort of goods, such as tea, cinnamon, nankeens, and silk. At the end of six months we steered a direct course to America.
"At the Cape of Good Hope, or before it, our sailors on board the ship began to terrify us. They said that there was a man named Neptune who lived in that place, and his abiding-place was in the sea. In the evening the sailors begun the act. One of them took an old great coat and put on him, and with a speaking-trumpet in his hand, and his head was covered with a sheep-skin; and he went forward of the ship and making a great noise. About this time friend Thomas and myself were on the quarter-deck, hearing some of them telling about Neptune's coming with an iron canoe and iron paddle. Friend Thomas questioned whether the iron canoe will not sink down in the water. 'No,' said some of them, 'he will make it light, for he is a god.' While we were talking, the first we heard the sound of trumpet as follows:
" 'Ship hail! From whence came you?'
" 'The captain immediately giving an answer in this manner: 'From Canton.'
" 'Have you got my boys,' said the old Neptune.
" 'Yes,' answered the captain.
" 'How many boys have you?' added the old Neptune.
" 'Two,' said the captain, (that is myself and friend Thomas.)
"As soon as we both heard the captain says 'two,' we both scared almost to death, and wished that we were at home. The old Neptune wished to see us, but we dare not come near at it. He continued calling us to come to him, or else he would take both of us to be as his servants. We therefore went up immediately and shook or hands with him in friendly manner. I thought that he was quite an old age, by seeing his long beards and his head covered with gray hairs; for his head was covered with a sheep-skin. After our conversation with him he wished for drink. So that I went and filled two pails full of salt-water, (as the sailors had told us,) and I set them before him. Then he took his speaking-trumpet and put it in my mouth for tunnel, in order to make me drink that salt-water which I brought. But while he stoops down to reach the pail of water, I took hold of the speaking-trumpet and hold it on one side of my cheek, so that I may not drink a drop of salt-water: did not anybody knew it, for it was dark. But friend Thomas he was so full of scare, he took down the whole pail of salt-water. On the next morning he was taken sick, and puked from the morning until the evening.
"About this time our provision was almost out. We had no bread, meat and water, save only one biscuit a day, and one pint of water only when the cook put in our tea. We were looking out for a vessel for a long time. Within a few days we come close to a schooner going to the West Indies, sailed from Boston. We fired at her in order to stop her. She did so. We got from them as much provision as we wished, and this lasted till we arrived at New-York."
Residence at New-Haven and Torringford
"We landed at New-York," continues Obookiah's narrative, "in the year 1809" remained there a few weeks, and after the captain sold out all the goods that are in the ship, we then parted with all our sailors-everyone to go to their own home. But friend Thomas and myself continued with the captain. One evening two gentlemen called on board the ship to see us. After our conversation was made with them, they wished us to go with them into a play-house, to show the curiosity. We then went with them into the play-house and saw a great number of people, as I ever saw before. We staid during the fore part of the evening, then went on board the ship. The next morning the same two gentlemen called again and invited us to come to their house that fore-noon. So that we both went. I thought while in the house of these two gentlemen how strange to see females eat with men."
It is well for the young to understand that in the Sandwich Islands, as in all heathen countries, females were degraded, and made the servants and drudges of men. The Gospel raises them from this servitude and makes them their equals and companions.
"Within a few days we left our ship and went home with Captain Brintnall to New-Haven, the place where he lived. There I lived with him for some time. In this place I become acquainted with many students belonging to the college. By these pious students I was told more about God than what I had heard before; but I was so ignorant that I could not see into it whether it was so. Many times I wish to hear more about God, but find nobody to interpret it to me. I attended many meetings on the Sabbath, but find difficulty to understand the minister. I could understand or speak but very little English language. Friend Thomas went to school to one of the students in the college before I thought of going to school. I heard that a ship was ready to sail from New-York within a few days for Hawaii. The captain was willing that I might take leave of this country and go home, if I wish. But this was disagreeable to my mind. I wished to continue in this country a little longer. I staid another week-saw Mr. E. W. Dwight, who first taught me to read and write. The first time I saw him, he inquired whether I was one who come over with Thomas, (for Thomas was known among many scholars in college.) I told him I was one who come over with Thomas. He then asked me if I wished to learn to read and write. I told him that I was. He wished me to come to his room that night and begin to learn. So that I went in the evening and began to read in the spelling-book. Mr. Dwight wished me to come to his room at any time when it is agreeable to the captain with whom I then lived. I went home that night, and the next morning I mentioned all this matter to the captain. He was pleased, and he wished me to go to school to Mr. Dwight. Thus I continued in school with him for several months."
When Obookiah was first discovered at New-Haven, his appearance was unpromising. He was clothed in a rough sailor's suit, was of a clumsy form, and his countenance dull and heavy. His friend had almost determined to pass him by, as one whom it would be in vain to notice and attempt to instruct. But when the question was put to him, "Do you wish to learn?" his countenance began to brighten. And when the proposal was made that he should come the next day to the college for that purpose, he seized it with great eagerness.
It was not long after he began to study, and had obtained some further knowledge of the English language, that he gave evidence that the dullness, which was thought to be indicated by its countenance, formed no part of his character. It soon appeared that his eyes were open to every thing that was passing around him, and that he had an unusual degree of discernment with regard to persons and things of every description that came within his notice. The first exhibition that was made of this trait in his character, and indeed the first decisive evidence he furnished that his mind was less inactive than had been supposed, was in the following incident:
When he began to read in words of one or two syllables in the spelling-book, there were certain sounds which he found it very difficult to articulate. This was true especially of syllables that contained the letter R - a letter which occasioned him more trouble than all others. In pronouncing it, he uniformly gave it the sound of L. At every different reading an attempt was made to correct the pronunciation. The language generally used on such occasions was, "Try, Obookiah, it is very easy." This was often repeated. But it was soon perceived that whenever these words were used they excited a smile. And as his patience began to be tried by many unsuccessful attempts, and the words to be used more in earnest, he was observed to turn away his face for the purpose of concealment, and seemed much diverted. As he was unable to express his thoughts except by acts, no explanation was made or demanded. The reason was scarcely perceived. But as attempts to correct the error were at last successful, the circumstance was soon forgotten.
A short time after this, long enough for Obookiah to have made some improvement in speaking the English, his instructor was spending an evening pleasantly with him, in making inquiries concerning some of the habits and practices of his own country. Among other things, he mentioned the manner in which his countrymen drank from a spring, when out upon their hunting excursions. The cup which they used was their hands. It was made by clasping them together, and so adjusting the thumbs, and bending the hands, as to form a vessel which would contain a considerable quantity. Of this he gave an example; and after preparing his hands, was able, from the pliableness of his arms, to raise them entirely to his mouth, without turning them at all from their horizontal position. The experiment was attempted by his instructor; but he found that before his hands were raised half the distance to his mouth, they were so much inverted that their contents would have been principally lost. He repeated the trial until he began to be discouraged; when Obookiah, who had been much amused with his efforts, with a very expressive countenance said to him, "Try, Mr. Dwight, it is very easy." The former mystery was now unraveled, and an important lesson taught as to the ease or difficulty with which things are done by us that are or are not natural to us, or to which we have or have not, from early life, been accustomed.
About this time it was discovered that Obookiah noticed with uncommon acuteness and interest every singularity in the speech and manners of those around him; and in the midst of his own awkwardness, to the surprise of all, he suddenly began to show himself dexterous as a mimic. He one day placed himself upon the floor, drew up his sleeves half way to the elbow, walked across the room with a peculiar air; and said, "Who dis?" The person intended was instantly known by all that were present. He then put himself in a different position, changed his gait, and said again, "Well, who dis?" This imitation also was so accurate, of another of the members of the college, that no one doubted as to the original. The extent of his own awkwardness at this time may be learned from the effect that an exhibition of it produced upon himself. After he had completed his own efforts at mimicry, his friend said to him, "Well, Obookiah, should you like to know how you walk?" He seemed much pleased, and the imitation was attempted. He was greatly diverted, though almost incredulous, and said with earnestness - several times repeating the question - "Me walk so?" After being assured that it was a reality, he burst into a roar of laughter and fell upon the floor, where he indulged his mirth until his strength was exhausted.
The same trait of character was discoverable in the manner in which he was affected with respect to the idols of the heathen, upon the first instruction given him concerning the true God. He was at once very sensibly impressed with the ludicrous nature of idol worship. Smiling at its absurdity, he said "Hawaii gods! they wood, burn. Me go home, put 'em in a fire, burn 'em up. They no see, no hear, no anything" - then added, "We make them - Our God, (looking up,) he make us."
The history proceeds: "Now I wished no more to live with captain any longer, but rather wished to live some where else, where I could have an opportunity to learn to write and read. I went to my friend Mr. Dwight who was to be my best and kind friend; I made known to him all my desire. I told him that I wished to live where I could have an opportunity to get in some school, and work a part of the time. He then wished me to live with President Dwight. This satisfied me; I went with him to Dr. Dwight's house. I lived with this pious and good family for some time, and went to school to the same man as before. While I lived with these good people I have more time to attend to my book than I ever did before. Here was the first time I meet with praying family morning and evening. It was difficult for me to understand what was said in prayer, but I doubt not this good people were praying for me while I was with them - seeing that I was ignorant of God and of my Savior. I heard of God as often as I lived with this family, and I believed but little. Whilst I lived at Dr. Dwight's, I went up to my school-room one evening and saw Mr. Samuel J. Mills, a son of Rev. Samuel J. Mills, of Torringford, sitting with Mr. Dwight my instructor. Mr. Dwight wished me to make acquaintance with Mr. Mills. So did I - and shook hands with him. Mr. Mills continued in New-Haven for several months. During this time he wished me to go home with him; he says he has a good father, mother, brother, and sister. This requesting was very pleasing to me, so that I consented. I them left New-Haven and went home with Mr. Mills. I lived with this family in the year 1810. These people were the most judicious and kindest people. I was treated by them in the most affectionate manner - (yet not knowing who brought me there, for I was very ignorant of Him who gave me so many good friends in this country.) It seemed to me as my own home. It was. And I have made my home there frequently. I could say much of them, but what more can I do but to remember their kindness toward me? While I was with them I continued my study in spelling, reading, and writing to Mr. Jeremiah Mills, a brother of Mr. Mills whom I was acquainted with at the first. Here I learned some sort of farming-business: cutting wood, pulling flax, mowing, &c. - only to look at the other and learn from them."
As Obookiah was to obtain, in part, his support at Mr. Mills' by his labor, he was immediately set about most kinds of business that pertain to a farm. And though this was a new employment to him, he was found to excel in every thing to which he turned his hand. One glance at others for an example was all the instruction that he required before he was ready to undertake, and to perform skillfully, every kind of labor.
The following extract of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Mills sufficiently illustrates this part of his character.
"There was something unusual in regard to Obookiah. His attention to what passed before him, and his talent at imitation, were singular. He had never mown a clip until he came to live with me. My son furnished him with a scythe. He stood and looked on to see the use he made of it, and at once followed, to the surprise of those who saw him. A number of hands also engaged in reaping. We furnished him with a sickle. He stood and looked, and followed on. It was afterwards observed by a person who was in the field, that there were not two reapers there who excelled him.
"In these respects and others he was truly a remarkable youth."
While Obookiah remained in the family of Mr. Mills "every possible attention was paid to the improvement of his mind, and his progress was such as to convince those who instructed him that their labor was not in vain. He soon acquired a knowledge of the spelling-book, and in a few months was able to read in the Testament. By this time be had also made considerable proficiency in writing. It was observed that he learned to talk English just as fast as he learned to read it. When he became able to communicate his ideas in a broken manner, he would express a very tender concern for his countrymen."
Henry now made his first essay at letter-writing. His first letter was written to his friend Thomas at New-Haven, and the second to his former instructor. The last has been preserved, and for reasons that will be obvious, is here inserted. The following is an exact copy:
"Torringford, March 2, 1810.
"Mr. E. D. - Sir
"I here now - this place, Torringford - I glad see you very much. I laugh Tom Hoboo - he says - "Obooki write me that? Me no write." I want you tell tom, Mr. S. Mills say if we be good boys we shall have friends. One morning you know I come into your room in college, and you tell me - read- you say, what c.a.p. spell? Them I say c.a.p. pig. I spell four syllables now, and I say what is the chief end of man. I like you much. I like your brother, and your friend Mr. Dean. I wear this great-coat you gave me to meeting every Sunday. I wish you would write me a letter and tell me what Tom do.
"Mrs. Mills, the wife of the Rev. Mr. Mills," continues Obookiah, "was a very amiable woman, and I was treated by her as her own child. She used me kindly and learned me to say the Catechism.
"Many ministers called on the Rev. Mr. Mills, and I was known by a great number of ministers. But on account of my ignorance of the true God, I do not wish to hear them when they talk to me. I would not wish to be in the room where they were; neither did I wish to come near a minister, for the reason that he should talk to me about God, whom I hated to hear. I was told by them about heaven and hell, but I did not pay any attention to what they say; for I thought that I was just as happy as the other people, as those who do know about God much more than I do. But this thought, as I see it now, was the most great and dangerous mistake."
Here let us not fail to notice, as illustrating divine truth, the natural aversion of the human heart to God. Notwithstanding the amiable character of this youth, and his eagerness to receive instruction on every other subject, he was unwilling to be talked to about God, whom he hated to hear. Let others see themselves as in a glass, and seek that happy change which Obookiah early sought and found.
Residence at Andover and Vicinity
"At the close of the year 1810," he says, "I left Torringford and went to Andover. I continued there for some time. Here my wicked heart began to see a little about the divine things; but the more I see to it, the more it appear to be impenetrability. I took much satisfaction in conversing with many students in the institution. I spent a little time with some of them and in going to one room and to another to recite to them, for I was taken under their care. Whenever I got a lesson I had a right to go to any room in college to recite. While I was there, for a long time, my friend Mr. Mills was there; one of my kindest friends that I had, who took me away from his father's house. This young Mr. Mills was studying divinity at the college when I was instructed by the students."
It was at this time, and with the friend who has been mentioned, that Obookiah made his first attempt to pray in the presence of another. His friend, having knelt down and prayed, turning to him before they rose, said, "You may pray." When he expressed himself substantially in the following terms.
"Great and eternal God-make heaven-make earth-make everything-have mercy on me-make me understand the Bible-make me good-great God have mercy on Thomas-make him good-make Thomas and me go back Hawaii-tell folks in Hawaii no more pray to stone god-make some good man go with me to Hawaii, tell folks in Hawaii about heaven-about hell-God make all people good every where-great God have mercy on college-make all good-make Mr. Samuel good-have mercy on Mr. Samuel's father, mother, sister, brother." 'Our father which art in heaven; Hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.'"
My friend Mr. Mills now thought it would be well for me to leave Andover and go to some school where I may improve my time much more than I could there. He said if I should go he would try to find some good people who would be willing to support me. This was a most kind offer, which I cannot feel any more than to be thankful for all this kindness to me. Mr. Mills now sent me to Bradford Academy; and there I continued for some time at school. The people where I boarded at the house of Deacon Hasseltine, (the family of Mrs. Judson, Missionary to Burmah,) were a most pious family. But while I was here in the school my serious feelings, which I had before, I lost all; and become very ignorant of religion by being among some unserious company, talking many foolish subjects. I thought now I shall never have any more such feelings as I had before-I thought that I must always be miserable here and hereafter. I become prayerless and thoughtless-no hope for mercy-never attempted to be alone as I had done before. I sit and walked about all day-took no opportunity to be at the throne of grace, but rather to be stupid-from the morning until evening never thought of Him who kept me alive, neither when I lay down upon my bed, nor when I rose up. I was in this situation for a long time while I was at school. At the close of the school I went back to Andover. Mr. Mills was not there. It was vacation. I staid until he returned. When he returned he inquired how I have been, and how I was pleased with the school. I answered, well. But I did not let him know what was my situation, and what trouble I had met with while I was there, but kept all these things in my own mind.
"In the spring season of the year 1811, I hired myself out for a month or two, on account of my health, with Mr. F. who lived about five miles from the college. Mr. F. one day sent me into the woods not far from the house to work. I took an axe and went and worked there till towards noon. But here O, I come to myself again! many thought come into my mind that I was in a dangerous situation. I thought if I should then die I must certainly be cast off for ever. While I was working it appeared as it was a voice saying "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground.' I worked no longer-but dropped my axe, and walked a few steps from the place (for the people in the house would soon send a lad after me, for it was noon.) I fell upon my knees and looked up to the Almighty Jehovah for help. I was not but an undone and hell-deserving sinner. I felt that it would be just that God should cast me off whithersoever he would-that he should do with my poor soul as it seemed to him fit. I spent some time here until I heard a boy calling for me-and I went. The people in the house asked of my sadness-to which I give but little answer. In the night my sleep was taken away from me. I kept awake almost the whole night. Many of my feelings and thoughts in past time came into remembrance-and how I treated the mercy of God while I was at Bradford Academy. The next morning I rose up before the rest, and went to a place where I was alone by myself. Here I went both morning, night, and noon. At this place I find some comfort. And when I go there I enjoy myself better all the day.
" At the end of two months I returned to Andover. Many times Mr. Miles asked me about my feelings, and I was neither willing to answer much, nor could I on account of my unfruitfulness and wickedness.
"I continued here a few days and then hired myself out again, and went to labor for Mr. A. a farmer, in haying time. Mr. A. was a good man, and it was a religious family. I had here the same seriousness in my mind as before, but never did meet with real change of heart yet."
During Obookiah's residence at Andover he lived two years in the family of Mr. Abbot, the steward of the Theological Institution. This family bears very favorable testimony to the excellence of his character. They speak of him with tears. Said Mrs. Abbot to a friend, "He was always pleasant. I never saw him angry. He used to come into my chamber and kneel down by me and pray. Mr. Mills did not think he was a Christian at that time, but he appeared to be thinking of nothing else but religion. He afterwards told me that there was a time when he wanted to get religion into his head more than into his heart."
In an absence of a month or two from the family, he wrote a letter to Mrs. Abbot, from which the following is an extract.
"I sometimes think about my poor soul, and that which God hath done. I will cry unto God-'What shall I do to be saved?' I know that God is able to take away blind eyes and wicked heart, we must be born again and have a new spirit before we die. As soon as we shall be dead, all we must stand before the judgement-seat of Christ. Friend, perhaps you have not done any thing wicked, so that God can punish you. I hope you have not. But if we are not his friends and followers he will cast us into hell, and we shall be there for ever and ever. I hope you will think upon all these things. Friend to you, HENRY OBOOKIAH."
Whilst at Andover Obookiah heard that one of his countrymen resided in the vicinity. He hastened to him and spent a part of a day with him, and a night, in which they did not sleep. When he returned, a friend said to him, "Well, Henry, what news from Hawaii?" He replied, "I did not think of Hawaii, I had so much to say about Jesus Christ."
Henry had now become diligent in studying the Scriptures, and made rapid progress in religious knowledge. The following fact is a specimen of what he had attained.
He was asked, "How many miracles are recorded of our Savior?" He began with the first, that of making water wine, and mentioned them all. Can others of his age do this, who have had opportunity to know the Savior's history much longer, and been better able to read it?
In a letter from Andover communicating the preceding facts, it is observed, Mr. Abbot, the steward, say, "Henry was very inquisitive, and could never be satisfied until he saw the whole of a subject. It was peculiarly observable during an eclipse of the sun, concerning which he asked many troublesome questions; and also with regard to many kinds of public business; particularly the mode of levying, collecting and appropriating taxes."
"He was seen one morning very early with a rule measuring the college buildings and fences. He was asked why he did it. He smiled and said, 'So that I shall know how to build when I go back to Hawaii.' "When he heard a word," said Mr. Abbot, "which he did not understand or could not speak, it was his constant habit to ask me, 'How you spell? how you spell?' When I told him he never forgot."
The same letter observes, "Henry's playfulness and ingenuity have ever been to me a most interesting trait in his character. He went into the steward's kitchen one evening and tied, secretly, a thread to one of the posts of a chair in which a person sat, and then seated himself in a back part of the room. He said to the family sitting about the fire, "Look, look." In the middle of the floor were seen two little gentlemen dancing-shaking their feet and fists and at last fighting. In the contest one fell, then the other. At last they got up in very good nature and jumped into Henry's pocket.
"He had seen such an exhibition at some stopping-place on his voyage to America."
Henry now began to maintain a correspondence with his absent friends: -a practice in which he seemed to take unusual pleasure through the whole of his future life.
The two following letters, written at Andover, were exactly copied from the original, with a few corrections in the punctuation.
Andover, Dec. 15, 1812.
"Dear Christian Friend,
"I improve this opportunity to write to you. And I saw your beloved book which you sent by Mr. G. and that I very much thank you for it. I am great joy to God to give me such a good friend in this land where we hear the words of God-God is kind to us and to the other-that is to every body else God will carry through his work for us.
"I do not know what will God do with my poor soul. I shall go before God and also both Christ.
"We must all try to get forward where God wish us to do. God is able to save sinners if we have some feeling in him. Is very great thing to have hope in him, and do all the christian graces. I hope the Lord will send the Gospel to the Heathen land where the words of the Savior never yet had been. Poor people worship the wood, and stone, and shark, and almost every thing their gods; the Bible is not there, and heaven and hell they do not know about it. I yet in this country and no father and no mother. But God is friend if I will do his will, and not my own will."
The following letter was written to the Rev. Mr. Mills, of Torringford.
"Andover, Jan. 27, 1813.
"Very dear Christian Friend,
"I improve this opportunity to write to you a letter. I received your two letters, and I had broken the seals of both of them, and I have read those sweet words that make my poor and wicked heart feel cold, as like cold water. O Lord, how long shall I continue in my own sins? Lord, wilt thou hear my secret prayer?
"Dear sir, I hope your prayer for the poor and blind immortal souls will be heard. I thank you to pray for me beside my own prayer. Pray to God that he might pour down his Holy Spirit upon all our souls. I do not know what will become of my poor soul when my time is full come hereafter. But in my own feeling I wish his will, and I am willing that God do what he please for my poor soul. What are sweet things in this world, sinner like better than their own souls which are going down to the bottomless pit. O how wicked and sinful are we. How shall we go the path of life and of his truth, and to be with him in heaven? No way at all; only we must give away ourselves to him and leave all our sins behind. Some think they know not how to pray; but they ought to know, for Christ hath taught us. I went to Tyngsbury last week to see a boy who came from Hawaii. He arrived last June-(this is not Thomas that came with me.) As the distance from this place was small, I went to visit him. I hope the Lord will have mercy upon his poor soul. He knew nothing of the Savior before I told him. I first mentioned to him Genesis I. &c. telling him that God made the world by his own power; then he said, 'O how foolish we are to worship wood and stone gods; we give them hogs, and cocoa nuts, and banana, but they cannot eat.' Yes, said I, it is foolish. Then he asked me where that man was that made every thing. I told him he was every where with us. Does he hear when you and I talk? says he. I told him yes, and you must believe in him if you would be his friend. He said he did believe what I told him. He has not learned to understand English, but I spoke in Hawaii. I took him with me to the minister's house on Sabbath evening, so I told him in Hawaii what Mr. Allen the minister said. He had been before, but could not understand what was said. I told him what God did for him in keeping him alive, and bringing him to this country. He said he liked that man very much, (meaning God.) He asked me many questions again and again about God, which I answered. After we went to bed he said he never would forget what I had told him. He said when he eat he would remember who gave him food. The people where he lived said he might stay there as he would; and when he had learned English a little, he might go to school. He did cry when I left him."
In the spring of the year 1812, Mr. Mills, the particular patron of Obookiah at this period, was appointed by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to take a missionary tour through the Western and Southern States. Soon after his departure Obookiah went to spend several months at Hollis, in New-Hampshire. "Here," he says, "I lived with two good men, Dea. E. and Dea. B. and with the Rev. Mr. S. While I was in this place I became more thoughtful about myself. I attended many of the young people's meetings, and I was quite happy. But I was now taken sick of a fever at the house of Dea. B. I was very weak, and was not able to answer to the questions of those who come to visit me. Then thought I, where shall I go for a physician, but unto thee! Death had but a little fear. I continued sick for five weeks. The whole family of Dea. B. were very kind. I was treated with the most affectionate care during the whole of my sickness. Doctor C. was a very kind and friendly man. He was a pious and good Christian. Many times he prayed with me while I was upon my sick bed.
"One day Mrs. B. asked me whether I was willing to die and leave this world of sin and go to the better. To which I replied that I should have no objection if God should do with me as it seemed to him fit. She added, 'Do you remember the goodness and the kindness of God towards you?' I answered yes-for I have neither a father nor a mother, nor a brother nor a sister in this strange country but he. But O! am I fit to call him my Father? 'Whosoever doeth his will, the same is a child of God.' No longer after my complaint was over I began to experience hope in religion. I thought often concerning the happiness of another world and eternal realities. But my mind and my heart of wickedness would often turn back to this world, (if I do not think about the serious things.) Many times I meet with dark hour. But the greatest part of the time I took much comfort and happiness, both in my secret prayer and in serious conversation with others. I thought now with myself that I have met with a change of heart. It was so, if I mistake not. For the Lord Jesus did appear as chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; and his mercy appeared to be welcome to a sinner as I."
It was during this residence at Hollis, in all probability, and perhaps in this season of sickness, that Henry's heart was renewed by the Holy Spirit. He had not in his own view obtained mercy previously to this; but now he began "to experience hope in religion," and to give evidence of spiritual and heavenly mind.
Now the decisive proof of true conversion began to appear:-a supreme regard for the Savior-an apprehension of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and of his perfect and wonderful adaptedness to the wants of "a poor sinner."
If the young convert would think less of himself and far more of Christ, and dwell upon his loveliness, glory and sufficiency, and consecrate the whole soul immediately to him for ever, serving no cherished sins, there would be few "fears and doubts;" and if this were made the test of true conversion as it should be, there would be little danger of false and delusive hopes of heaven.
In the fall, Henry left Hollis and returned to Andover, where he remained until the succeeding spring; when he took his final leave of the place and went "home" to the house of the Rev. Mr. Mills, in Torringford.
Public profession of Christ-devotion to the Missionary Work
During this residence at Mr. Mills' he occasionally visited Litchfield, to see the person who had been his early friend at New-Haven. As this was but a short period after his hopeful conversion, his friend was anxious to ascertain what knowledge he possessed of experimental religion. To the questions that were asked him, he gave answers which clearly evinced that on this subject he had thought and felt for himself; and furnished much reason to hope that he had been savingly instructed by the Holy Spirit. "How does your own heart appear to you?" was a question put to him. To which he replied, "O black, very black." "But you hope you have a new heart, how did it appear to you before it was changed?" "Mud," he said, "all mud."
His conversation was at this time much upon the subject of religion, and he seemed, for so young a Christian, to be in an uncommon degree heavenly minded. He said, "When I at home-Torringford-out in the field, I can't help think about heaven. I go in a meadow-work at the hay-my hands-but my thought-no there. In heaven-all the time-then I very happy."
He had already acquired a very considerable knowledge of the Scriptures. He quoted passages appropriate to almost every subject of conversation. It was evident that his mind dwelt upon the truths of the Bible, and that he found much of his habitual pleasure in searching out the less obvious treasures which it contained. He manifested great inquisitiveness with regard to passages of Scripture, the meaning of which he did not entirely comprehend. Many passages were the subject of inquiry. "What our Savior mean," said he, "when he say, 'In my Father's house are many mansion-I go prepare a place for you.' What he mean, 'I go prepare a place?'"
The readiness and propriety with which he quoted passages of Scripture on every occasion were particularly noticed by all who conversed with him. In one of his visits he asked his friend, who was now in the study of divinity, to go aside with him, as if he had something of importance which he wished to reveal. But it appeared that it was his object to converse with him upon the subject of accompanying him to the Sandwich Islands. He plead with great earnestness that he would go and preach the Gospel to his poor countrymen. Not receiving so much encouragement as he desired, he suspected that his friend might be influenced by the fear of the consequences of attempting to introduce a new religion amongst the heathen. Upon which, though he had now just begun to lisp the language of the Scriptures, he said, "You fraid? You know our Savior say, 'He that will save his life shall lose it; and he that will lose his life for my sake, same shall save it.'"
His own fearlessness and zeal on this subject he exhibited about the same time to an aged minister, who asked him why he wished to return. He replied-"To preach the Gospel to my countrymen." He was asked what he would say to them about their wooden gods. He answered, "Nothing." "But," said the clergyman, "suppose your countrymen should tell you that preaching Jesus Christ was blaspheming their gods, and should put you to death?" To this he replied with great emphasis, "If that be the will of God, I am ready, I am ready."
In the fall of 1813 Henry was invited by James Morris, Esq. Of Litchfield, to spend the winter in his family and attend the public grammar school, of which for many years he had been preceptor. Here Henry commenced the study of English grammar, geography and arithmetic, in which he made during the winter very considerable progress. In the spring of 1814 he returned to Mr. Mills' and spent the summer principally in laboring on the farm. At the annual meeting of the North Consociation of Litchfield County, in the fall of 1814, Henry, by the advice of his friends, applied to that body to take him under their care, and give him counsel and direction as to his studies and other concerns. The Consociation voted to comply with his request, and appointed a board, consisting of three persons, to superintend his education, and report to the Consociation annually.
After Obookiah was taken under the care of the Consociation he pursued his studies under the direction of their committee, so far as the charity of his Christian friends furnished him with the means. He was obliged to labor a part of the time for his own support, and to change from time to time his place of residence. The evidences of his Christian character, in the view of those who had most opportunity to observe him, were continually brightening. He discovered a strong relish for the Bible, was constant in reading it, and seldom would any object or circumstances prevent his reading daily some portion of the Scriptures. Occasionally, when requested, he has prayed and spoken in social religious meetings; and always performed those services to the acceptance, and, it is believed, to the edification of those present.
The summer of 1814 Henry spent at Torringford. "In the beginning of summer," he says, "my friend Mr. Mills, whom I loved, returned from his Missionary tour. I received him with joyful salutation. Several times he asked me how my wicked heart get along while I was hoeing corn. But I was still fearful to tell whether my heart was changed or not.
"At this time Mr. Mills wished me to go and live with the Rev. Mr. Harvey, of Goshen. This was pleasing to me, and I went to live with him and studied geography and mathematics; and a part of the time was trying to translate a few verses of the Scriptures into my own language, and in making a kind of spelling-book, taking the English alphabet and giving different names and different sounds-(for this language was not written language.) I spent some time in making a kind of spelling-book, dictionary, grammar.
"While I was in this place with Rev. Mr. Harvey I took more happiness upon my knees than I ever did before, having a good room to study and being alone the greatest part of the time. Many happy and serious thoughts were coming into my mind while I was upon my bed in the night. Every thing appeared to be very clear to my own view. Many times the Lord Jesus appeared in my mind to be the most great and glorious. O what happy hours that I had in the night season! I thought sometimes before, that religion was a hard thing to get it-making many excuses for pray hour, and kept putting off from time to time, and thought that it would become easier some time at hand. But this kind of feeling led me far beyond all happiness. Many times I lived as a man that travels up to a hill and then down. But it was nothing that hindered me but my own wicked heart, and because I did not repent for my sin.
"I seeked for the Lord Jesus for a long time, but found him not. It was because I did not seek him in a right manner. But still I do think that I have found him upon my knees. The Lord was not in the wind, neither in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in still small voice.
"About this time I thought with myself to join with some church. I wished to give every thing up for the glory of God, to give up my whole soul to him, to do with me as he pleaseth. I made known these things to the Rev. Mr. Harvey, and he thought it would be better for me to make a profession of religion. He wished me to go and see the Rev. Mr. Mills and the people whom I have been acquainted with, and talk the matter over with them; for I longed to be. I therefore went and conversed with my good friend and father Mills concerning my case. All the matter seemed to him well. He wished me to come over on the next Sabbath and attend my examination. I staid at Goshen until the approaching of the Sabbath which was appointed, and then went over to Torringford. I thought while I was travelling, that I was going home to New Jerusalem-to the welcome gate. As I walked along I repeated these words, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.' I was received into the church of Christ in Torringford, on the ninth day of April, in the year 1815. The following is the text which the Rev. Mr. Mills preached from: 'I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known.'"
Previously to the time appointed for the admission of Obookiah into the church, he requested Mr. Mills to give him an opportunity, if he thought it proper, at the time of his admission, "to speak a few words to the people." Mr. Mills readily consented-but from some particular circumstances, he did not recollect, at the proper time, Henry's request, and it was neglected. After the public services were closed and Mr. Mills had retired to his study, Henry went to him with a broken heart, and said, "You no let me speak, sir-I sorry." Mr. Mills was much affected, but there was no remedy. But, said he, "What did you wish to say, Henry?" He replied, "I want to ask the people what they all waiting for? -they live in Gospel land-hear all about salvation-God ready, Christ ready-all ready-Why they don't come to follow Christ?"
Although Henry became a member of the church at Torringford, he still continued his residence with the Rev. Mr. Harvey at Goshen. "Here," he says, "I lived a little more than a year, and was treated with the most affectionate and kindest treatment. I was now taken under the care of the board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, with a view to my future employment to be as a Missionary to my poor countrymen-who are yet living in region and shadow of death-without knowledge of the true God and ignorant of the future world-have no Bible to read-no Sabbath-and all these things are unknown to them. With them I feel, and expected to spend the remaining part of my days in the service of our glorious Redeemer, if the Almighty should spare my life. I often feel for them in the night season concerning the loss of their souls, and wish many times to be among them before I am fit to come to them-for I long to see them. O that the Lord would pluck them from the everlasting burning! And that the Lord may be their God, and may they be his people-and be made 'partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.' O what a happy time I have now, while my poor friends and relations at home are perishing with hunger, and thirsty, wanting of Divine mercy and water out of the well of salvation. May the Lord Jesus dwell in my heart and prepare me to go and spend the remaining part of my life with them. But not my will, O Lord, but thy will be done. May I live with them as a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth as long as I live; and spend and be spent in the service of the Redeemer. May the Lord teach me to live in his fear, to do his will, and to live devoted to his service."
Letters and Diary
While residing at Goshen, he thus wrote to a friend, April 24, 1815:
"-----, I knew not what was my business when at first time I set out from home-only a boy's notion. Because I have no father and no mother, I therefore thought of it, I must go and see the world, and see what I can find. I never heard any thing about Jesus, and heaven, and hell. Well, after I heard about these things, I heard that Jesus was the Son of God, and that he has come into the world to save sinners; the evil spirit then coming into my mind, and said that there was none, neither heaven or hell. I could not believe it. Sometimes, when some good people talked with me on this subject, I was but just hate to hear it.
"I hope that you and I may meet, though at present unknown to each other, in the eternal world; where many come from the east and form the west, and from the north and from the south, and sit down together in the kingdom of Christ. But I do sometimes think often that I shall never see that holy and happy world. I am very afraid, because I was a great enemy to God, and have fought against his grace and his loving-kindness towards me.
"O! my dear friend, do not forget to pray for me before our heavenly Father when you are alone. Pray for me, and for my poor countrymen, and for others, that we may escape from the wrath to come. Those that have been faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, the same shall be saved; and those that have done evil shall come to the resurrection of damnation.
"There is no great consequence wherever we may be called, if we only keep our hearts right before God. We are under peculiar obligation to consecrate ourselves wholly to the glory of God. But we know that our deceitful hearts are apt to run down, even as a clock or watch is. A good clock will keep good time by winding it up; but if we don't, it certainly will run down. For 'this people,' said our Savior, 'draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' My wicked heart has been just as those clocks which run down very often. But I hope I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I am willing to give up every thing, both my soul and body, for time and eternity. God can do all this. 'I can do all things,' said the apostle, 'through Christ,' &c.
"My dear friend, do not forget to pray for William, pray that he may ever have joy in the holy presence of God, and may he be made a good soldier of the cross of Christ. There is reason to hope that his heart will be changed, for God will have mercy on whom he will. I wish that he could live with me, so that I could do all what I can for him. God in his holy providence has brought him and me from the heathen land. Because of the weakness of our faith and our selfishness, the gold and silver are tempting to the soul. O! can sinners expect to walk the golden streets without a perfect heart; or how shall we live with him without being born again.
"There is no way I can see for sinners but to go to Christ. 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but my me,' said the Savior. 'At that day shall ye know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you.' The Lord Jesus is all ready and waiting for sinners, and inviting them to come to him immediately without delay.
"May the Lord direct you, and make you a faithful laborer in the Lord's vineyard."
The following extracts are from a letter written to the Rev. Eleazer T. Fitch, at New-Haven, dated,
"Goshen, June 4, 1815.
"Me dear Friend,
"I received your kind letter, which came into my hand this day, with great pleasure. You desire me to let you know the present state of my feelings. I have no objection, but I have not much to say on this subject. You know when I was a Andover, there I was in full concern about my soul, and knew then that I was but a dying worm of the dust, and I knew I was poor sinner. And now I hope that the Lord Jesus will be my eternal portion, and direct me evermore. I have nothing to do but to be thankful for all the privileges and blessings which I enjoy. I know that God will have mercy on whom he will-and with such promise, our souls must rest in God.
"O my dear friend, do not cease to pry for me, and for Tennooe, and for the poor ignorant people at Hawaii: and pray for the poor people in this country as well as the heathen, for their hearts are not with God, and their ears are much deafer than that of the heathen-when they hear the word of God on every Sabbath, and can read the Holy Scriptures. O may the Lord bless us all with an increase of his grace. I hope you will never forget to write to me when you can, and tell me what religious experience you know I am ignorant of.
"I want to see you about our Grammar: I want to get through with it. I have been translating a few chapters of the Bible into the Hawaiian language. I found I could do it very correctly.
"I hope that the great God will be gracious to you, and make you a faithful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 'Walk by faith, and not my sight.'"
Extracts from a letter to Mr. Samuel B. Ingersoll, a member of Yale College.
"Goshen, June 9, 1815.
"My dear Friend,
"I improve this opportunity to write to you a few lines. When you was up here last, you know that I was quite unwell then. On that account I could not talk much with you when you was speaking on the religious subjects.
"O my friend, what is our rule? Is not the word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament? Certainly it is. But we are apt to hate to put away sins, for they are sweeter than the grace of God.
"O my dear friend, let us continue in the hope of the glory of our Redeemer, with true hearts in full assurance of Faith. Cease not to pry for the fatherless, as I am. O what a wonderful thing it is that the hand of the Divine Providence has brought me here from that heathenish darkness where the light of divine truth never had been. And here have I found the name of the Lord Jesus in the Holy Scriptures, and have read that his blood was shed for many; and I remember his own words which he said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'
"Do not forget to mention me and Tennooe before our Heavenly Father when you are alone by yourself, that we may not enter into temptation, and that our souls may have rest in God. I hope to hear from you before long. When you write to me, if agreeable to you, I wish you to give me some information of religious experience, &c. and how a Christian feels, &c. &c. I hope that the Lord will be with you; and may your journey through this vale of tears be sweetened by the precious religion of the blessed Savior. May he who is rich in mercy, and abundant in grace and goodness, bless you with an increase of his mercy, and make you a faithful soldier of the cross of Christ."
In another letter to one of his countrymen residing at Boston, he says:
"I doubt not that you have seen some people in this country, as much as 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years of age, still neglecting religion from year to year; and adding sin to sin as long as they live. This will not do, for God hath said, 'My Spirit shall not always strive with man.' But alas, sin is a lovely friend to a sinner. He will not get away from his sins for a thousand worlds. 'O' sinner, 'taste and see that the Lord is good.'
"Do write me a long letter without delay, and tell me how God did appear to you at first, and tell me what is your first object if you should return home, &c."
The letter which follows was written to a young gentleman in Middlebury:
"Goshen, Sept. 25, 1814.
"It is long since I saw you when you had kept Mr. B.'s store at Torringford: you are by no means forgotten. I conclude that you are probably in the best place. I am contented. Undoubtedly your present situation affords the best opportunity to pursue your studies; and is hoped that you have also good religious instructions and cautions. I hope you remember that the true friends of God may have pleasure wherever they are, if they make it their chief concern to glorify, love, and please him; but those who do not, have no right to expect pleasure any where. In whatever place we are, we have much that we can and ought to do for God. Our first care should be to keep our own thoughts right. We should think much on that great and holy Being that formed us; on his holiness and abhorrence of every sin; on our constant dependence upon him; how many blessings he is conferring upon us, and how little we deserve them, and how undone and unthankful we are for them: or our deserving evil instead of good, and how abominable we are in his sight whenever we do evil. We should think often on death and our appearing before the eternal Savior in judgment. We ought not only to read the Bible often, but to pray often, that we may know of the salvation, and understand and be assisted to live according to it; and this would aid us very much in keeping our thoughts. If we exercise sufficient care over our thoughts, our outward conduct also will be good. But if we employ our minds one moment on foolish or useless things, we shall not only offend God by that, but we shall be liable to fall into outward sins, and so endanger our own souls, and encourage others in the same evil; and their wickedness will encourage others, and so on. We cannot conceive the dreadful consequences of one sin, and we are very apt to forget how prone we are to fall into sin. We are very apt likewise to satisfy ourselves with what we intend to do hereafter, and to forget our present duty. The truth is, all our time is made up of present time, and all we need to care is, that we may all the time do the best we can for our great Creator this present minute. All that we can possibly do is but a little; for all we have and all we are is God's, and we can never atone for one of all our sins, but we must trust altogether in the merits of Christ. But now, my dear friend, I hope you will strive to improve all your time well, and that God will be gracious to you, and make you faithful and useful as long as you llive here in the world.
"I wish you wold write to me as you can. I concluded to be here with Mr. Harvey this winter; and whenever you come this way, I should be glad to see you here. Mr. and Mrs. Harvey, they are very agreeable and kind; I was very much pleased with them. I saw your father at Torringford some time ago; he wished me to write to you when I could; I told him I would.
"One thing I must mention to you, that is, we must always continue in our prayers before our heavenly Father, that we may all become followers of those who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises. But now I must close this subject.
"Your affectionate friend, "HENRY OBOOKIAH."
In October, 1815, Obookiah left Goshen, and went to reside in the family of the Rev. Mr. Prentice, of Canaan. At this period his history of his past life terminates. He commenced writing it soon after he removed to Canaan, at the request of his instructor, as a daily exercise. It was completed in the beginning of the succeeding year. In March he commenced a Diary, which he continued till the close of the summer; when he changed again his place of residence, went to South Farms, and soon afterward to Amherst, in Massachusetts. From this time his situation and the nature of his employment were such that the Diary was either suspended or continued only at intervals, and not preserved.
The following are extracts from the Diary.
March 5, 1816. This evening I attended a conference at the house of Dea. B. It was a very solemn time. Many appeared to be very serious and attentive; thought I was in fear it was not so in the heart. Rev. Mr. Prentice made some observations from these words, 'Why sit we here until we die?' By hearing these words my mind was much concerned, and I felt as though I was still in my own sin. 'What shall I do?' said I to myself. The answer was, work faithfully with your own heart. With these thoughts coming into my mind, I found peace and joy. O that I might understand the work of my own heart.
"6. I have just now been thinking of the prophet Elijah: how he prayed to his God when he went up to the top of the Mount Carmel, and how he put his face between his knees and prayed to the God of heaven. O, how much better it is to spend time now in such a way of praying, than to wait until the time of prayer may be over. What should hinder the heart from being busy in prayer to God secretly, while the hands are full of any business whatever?
"8. This day is very dark. My mind has been quite down by reason of my barrenness. But Christ has appeared as 'chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.' In Christ have I found the light of comfort and joy. Whatever joy and comfort I receive from God, my heart is bound up with thanks; but at the other time I become forgetful, as if I was carrying away by my own sin, as far as where it was not to be remembered what God had done for my soul.
"9. I have had this morning a solemn visit from two young gentlemen, (unknown before;) who were of the most pious and amiable character. Their conversation was sweet to my soul. They continued with me in my room during the space of two hours; then we prayed together. Soon they bid me farewell and went. I then returned into my retirement and offered up thanks to God for such serious and solemn conversation. I prayed with a free and thankful heart. O what a glorious time it was! I never prayed to God with so full view of God's goodness as I did then. It seemed as if God was teaching my wicked heart how to pray. I felt so easy that I could not help crying, Lord, Lord, increase my faith. I continued thus for several days, then that dark hour came on-though not very dark, for I had a little spark of light-and that spark of light was given for an answer to such secret prayer as I offered up to God in my heart. O that I might continually watch in my heart that I may not enter into temptation and snare of the devil.
"10. To-day I rejoiced greatly to hear many glorious news from almost every quarter and town in the state, that many sinners were brought to bow to Jesus, and that many were inquiring what they should do to be saved.
"19. I attended this evening a very solemn meeting as ever I attended. A sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Harvey from these words, 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,' &c. Many appeared with a thoughtful and serious look. But O may they not be as those hearers who hear the words, and after all hide them from their hearts, as I do fear there are many.
"No doubt but many young people attend frequently such meetings, for the purpose of seeing others: their looks, dress, &c. -by these their minds are drawn away. O how many thoughtless and careless are there in the world!
'You live devoid of peace,
'A thousand stings within your breast
'Deprive your souls of ease.'
"23. This morning my friend Thomas come to me with a sad countenance, and wished that we might pray together in our own language. I told him that I had no objection-that I would willingly do it. We then prayed to that Almighty God who was able to help us: and I believe that our prayers were graciously answered. We offered up two prayers in our tongue-the first time that we ever prayed in this manner. And the Lord was with us.
"April 1. This evening my friend Thomas and myself conversed about what we would do first, at our return to our own country, and how we should begin to teach our poor brethren about the religion of Jesus Christ, &c. and many other kinds of conversation that we thought of. And we both thought that we must first go to the king; or else we must keep a school to educate the children and get them to have some knowledge of the Scriptures, and then we must give to them some idea of God. But these thoughts seemed to be blind on some accounts-not knowing how to do better without God's direction. The most thought that come to my mind, was to leave all in the hand of the Almighty God; as he seeth fit. The means may easily be done by us, and all other duties which God commands, but to make others believe in the reality of religion, no one could do it, to open blind eyes of sinners, but God only. He is able 'to bring the blind by a way that they know not, and he will lead them in paths which they have not known.'
"2. As I was just rising up this morning and looked out of by bed-room window, I saw the sun rising in the east, (Sabbath) and I wondered that my life should be kept so safely during the night past, and that I was brought to see another day of the Son of man. As soon as I went to bed my eyes were wide open during the whole night. I thought how many unready lives were taken before the morning comes. This made my heart cry, Lord, prepare me, prepare me for death. I spent the greater part of the night in secret prayers in my bed, and found sweet communion with my God. 'Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.' O that the grace of God may be sufficient for me! Lord, fill my hungry soul with spiritual food.
"3. This day I set apart for secret prayer, and the Lord was graciously with me, and has given me some spirit to pray. It seemed as if I could not enjoy myself better in any worldly conversations than I did in prayer. I can say, as I trust, that the Spirit of God has been with me this day. God appeared to be gracious and lovely. Holy thou art, O Lord God of hosts! O Lord, look down with a pitying eye upon this thy servant, whom thou hast brought from a heathen land! Be gracious to all the rest of my heathen brethren who are now in this country. Do now, O Lord, hear my call. Let not the Lord remember former sins which were known to thee.
"7. This afternoon I attended the funeral of an aged person. Many people attended, and many tears were shed upon almost every cheek for the loss of their friend. But, O weepers, weep for yourselves, (he was a friend of Christ it is hoped,) for he has gone in peace.
"I thought with great astonishment how little idea we have of death and eternity. Who can stop the approaching of death? May the Lord teach me to know the number of my days! O that the everlasting arm may raise my soul from deepest hell, and direct my step toward the peaceful shore of blessed eternity!
"9. To-day is my first year since I made a profession of religion. I set apart this day for prayer, and returned thanks to God for his wonderful grace and kindness towards me as a lost sinner. Though how little have I done towards him! How little have I done for his glory! Shall I live to see the end of another year? Lord, increase my faith.
"12. To-day the Lord turned me to look into my heart, to see whether there be any holiness in me. But I found nothing but 'wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.' I saw my sins were very great, and never were known before. I had seen my own sin before, but the Lord never show me so much, as I recollect, to make the soul sink in deep sorrow for sin, as he did this day. But it was my own blindness too. When I considered my former life, and looked into it, nothing but a heavy burden of sin was upon me. I pray the Lord that he may not remember my past sin. O may not the God of Isaac and Jacob hide from the tears of such dying sinner as I!
"I enjoyed myself much this day in fasting, prayer, and supplication.
"I have been thinking this day to know what is the state of man; whether they are pure from all sin:-for last evening I had a dispute with a young man. He asked me whether I do believe that we sin by words, thoughts, and deeds. I answered him yes. Certainly we do, unless we take heed to our ways-as David speaks for himself in Ps. 39. 'O mortal man,' says he, 'do we then always sin?' Yes, I answered. The Apostle speaks, 'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.' How many ways that a creature can be deceived!
"15. I attended a prayer-meeting this afternoon, and a number have been examined to be brought forward to the church. I have thought a great deal this day about my unfaithfulness and barrenness since I made a profession of religion: -how my wicked heart has turned away from God in a most evil and unkind manner. But when I considered that I sin against my Maker, I always feel sorry; and all sins which I commit raise my tears from my eyes: -as I have this afternoon been weeping very deeply because of my sins. Many times I am apt to fall into sin; but if God hears my crying for forgiveness, I shall still live devoted to him. Is there any thing that we may be cleansed by from our sins but the blood of the Lamb of God? No, in no wise.
"21. O what a solemn meeting to-day at the house of Dea. B. It was a serious and joyful time. It seemed to me that the Lord was with us. I took notice that almost every person in the room appeared very joyful. Many persons kept their heads downwards with tears on their faces. We had then neither sermon nor any discourse delivered, but many prayers were offered up for those who were rolling sin as a sweet morsel under their tongue. A number of pious men tried to speak, but they could not; for the fear of the Lord had fell upon them, that they could not finish their discourse, but to weep. O how myself felt then. I saw that it was the Lord's work, who hath power to make sinners feel, and to show himself that he is God alone. O that the Lord may carry on his work!
"May 5. This day I have attended the sacrament of the Lord's supper. I felt guilty of my unfruitfulness, and had but little faith in Him whose blood is drink indeed, and whose flesh is meat indeed. I could not help weeping whilst the minister addressed those who were to be admitted into the church-warning them to be faithful. On account of this warning I could not put a stop to my weeping eye, for I felt that I had had a stupid and cold heart, wanting of divine grace.
"8 I have been reading this morning the history of pious women, and I was very much pleased to see and to know how Christians feel. Their employment every day was to address their heavenly Father in secret, and to read some portion of the Holy Scriptures.
"15. This day I took a walk for exercise at the distance of two or three miles. On my way home I met an aged man, unknown before, who I judged to be about sixty years of age. He was traveling on the same way that I was, and I thought in myself that I would take this opportunity to converse with him upon religious subjects: as it was my duty, (and as I have done with many other unacquainted persons before.) As we were walking, 'What bad going is this!' said he, 'I have never known such time as this.' With this observation I spoke thus-'Ought we not to be thankful to our Maker for such season as this, as well as we do for the finest weather?' 'O yes, sir, I think we ought to,' says he, 'though I do not feel thankful as I ought.' With this saying, I then asked him to know whether he was one that was born again of the Holy Spirit. To which he replied, 'O I hope so; though I was one of the sheep that was almost gone, for ever lost, yet I hope that I am found.' I asked him whether he ever met with any difficulty or troubled in his mind. He answered, 'O yes, great deal; but when I meet with any trouble, I wish to be alone, and pray to God, and ask him for such comfort as I need. Before I was brought into light I thought many times that the religion of Jesus was hard thing to seek for-but it was nothing else but my own wicked heart. When I come to it in my own heart, I found no holiness at all but all manner of evils are lodged in it.' Soon we parted from each other, and we both wished to be remembered in our prayers.
"June 1. This morning I have been walking out for some secret duty. As I walked through the field atone, lo! I heard the sweet songs of many birds singing among the branches; for it was a beautiful Sabbath morning. While I thus hearked, this part of a Psalm come into my soul very sweetly,
"Sweet is the mem'ry of thy grace,
My God, my heavenly King;
Let age to age they righteousness
In sounds of glory sing,' &c.
"I thought of Christians as soon as I heard these birds tuning their joyful songs around the tree. Christians as soon as they leave their fleshly songs with their bodies in the silent tomb, will be at rest beyond all pain, death, sorrow, and trouble; and come around their King of glory, and tune their golden harps to Immanuel's praise. And then say one to another,
'Come let our voices join to raise
A sacred song of solemn praise,' &c.
"16. This evening I attended some serious exercises of prayer with a few young men of pious character. Five pious young men came to our room for this purpose. They appeared to be very much engaged in the cause of the great Redeemer. We spent our time in solemn prayer for two or three hours. I found comfort myself easy in every duty which I was commanded by my God to do.
"23. I was visited this morning by a pious and good Rev. Mr. H. of L. who instructed me in a most affectionate and tender manner; and has given me some of the clearest views of Christian character, such as I needed.
"I was entreated by this friend of Christ concerning my future happiness, and was warned to live above this world, with humble and tender heart. But O, who can know my own unfruitfulness and vileness, but he who 'searcheth the heart and trieth the reins of the children of men.' I felt in my own heart that I needed the teaching of all the people of God. Many times I have thought of myself being deceived, because many evil thoughts come into my mind and put me out of the right way; but in my secret prayers I have always found happy rest to my poor and immortal soul, as if I was in the right path. O that the Lord Jesus, who doth 'bring the blind by a way that they know not,' may be the director such blind as I.
"24. We have heard to-day much good news from every quarter of the country. A work of grace has been begun in many places, and there are hundreds of hopeful converts, or newly born by the influence of the Holy Spirit. O how great and how wonderful is the arm of the Lord! Reaching forth his hand toward sinners, and kindly taking them in his bosom of love. But are there not many sinners yet in the gall of bitterness and in bonds of iniquity, rejecting the free offer of salvation? Are not many opposers yet set against the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? O when shall these never-dying souls find rest! It is very strange to me that so many careless and stupid sinners never think or have any concern for the worth of their immortal souls. O Lard, I entreat thee to look down with compassion upon such dying sinners as are here in this land of the Gospel light! O save them, O Lord God of hosts, save them! Glorify the riches of thy free grace in making them the heirs of thy holy kingdom. O glorious Jesus, thou Son of the Most High, have mercy on the never-dying souls of men. Thou canst do the helpless sinner good; for all homage, honor, glory, and worship are due to thee, the true promised Messiah and Redeemer of the world. Thou canst work among sinners and none can hinder thee. O Lord, save us, or we perish. I am a sinner as well as others; I feel myself an unfruitful creature; and yet I choose the Lord Jesus for my everlasting portion. I have nothing of my own to recommend myself to his holy favor. All the present that I can make unto Jesus is myself. He seeks not mine, but me only.
"25. Last evening I attended a prayer-meeting, and enjoyed great comfort to my soul. I thought how Christians all agree in their feeling toward each other in a lovely manner. I once thought while we were in the room, in such a little circle, and enjoyed ourselves in conversing here in this world, how much happiness will be found at the great court of the Almighty, when all the children of God are gathered together from the east and the west, and are set down in the kingdom of heaven. What a happy time will it be for Christians!
"July 3. My health being weak, I set out to walk, and at the place to which I came I found a sick woman lying upon a sick bed. She had been in that case for eight years. When she heard of my being in the house, she wished to see me. I conversed with her concerning her case; and though she was weak in her body and mind, she could answer whatever question I put to her. I asked her whether she was willing to leave this world of sin, and to be present with her lovely Jesus. She replied, 'O yes, O yes; I hope I shall reach that peaceful shore, where I shall have neither sickness nor pain, as I have now.' Before I was about to leave her she wished me to pray with her, and this was done. She took hold of my hand and begged me to remember her, thus-'O my friend, do not forget me in your prayers; and if I do not see you again in this life, I shall in better life than this.'
"17. I have just returned from a visit to my friends. As I was walking through the woods I came to a house which stood at some distance from the town. As soon as I was come near the house, I found an old grey-headed man, next to the road, hoeing corn. I saw he was very aged man, and I thought it was my duty to converse with him. I stood by the fence and asked him how he did. He answered, 'Well.' I asked him whether he was well within also. But he did not understand what I mean. (This old man was about ninety years of age, and had been living without hope and without God in the world.) Immediately I went to the old man, and spoke to him in a friendly manner, thus-'My friend,' said I to him, 'you are a stranger to me, and I unto you; and I see that your head is full of grey hairs, and no doubt your days will soon be over.' 'I know that,' said the aged man; 'so every one has got to be as I am.' 'Well,' said I, 'what do you think of the great day of judgement? Are you ready for that day?' 'O, I don't know,' said he, 'I do sometimes think that I am too far off for that day.' 'Why do you not now begin to make your peace with God, before death overtake you?' said I to the old man; 'repent and believe in the Son of God.' But the old man seemed to be very careless and stupid. I talked to him, but he kept hoeing his corn; and I followed him to the end of the field, pursuing my discourse; but he seemed to be unwilling to hear me any further, and I returned thanks to the Almighty God for the opportunity which I had with this poor old man, and bid him farewell.
"Sabbath afternoon, August 5. To-day I felt more anxious for prayer than I ever did. After I returned from meeting I entered in my retirement, where I always find comfort and joy in my secret prayer and supplication before the great Jehovah. I now wished to see my friend Thomas, who lived a mile apart from me, and I set out to go and meet together in prayer for our own good. I went and found him reading the Bible. I urged him to go up to his room with me and be there a little while; and we took a Bible and went up. We spent some time together in prayer, till the sun was down. 'O how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.' We both united in prayers, two of each. We cried to God for help, in the language of good old David, 'Search us, O God, and know our hearts, try us, and know our thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting.' May the Lord be pleased to lead us both in the right way, and not in the 'way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.' We cried to God further, that he would teach us his way, in order to walk in his truth; and to unite our heart both to fear his holy name.
"I told my friend Thomas how I felt that day, and how much I longed to be with him together in prayer for our poor countrymen as well as for ourselves. We both wished to have our little meeting kept up until we should be separated far from each other. We wished to have no one know it, but to look to God whenever we both come together."
The Diary of Obookiah may not have been discontinued here. A considerable part of what has been transcribed was found upon detached pieces of paper; and other similar pieces may have been mislaid. The whole he had begun to copy, but had not completed it.
For this record however of his experience of Divine grace, and of his Christian faithfulness, we would not fail to express our sincerest gratitude to Almighty God. Here may be seen much of the spirit of that great pattern of missionaries-the devoted Brainerd; and while we praise the Lord that he was pleased to impart so much of his grace to this heathen youth, and dispose him to do so much for the good of others, we would implore him to incline other Christians to follow his worthy examples; and especially that his habit of conversing freely upon religious subjects, as opportunities presented, even 'with unacquainted persons" may be imitated by all who desire the salvation of men. His letters bear the same marks of deep solicitude for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
Letters-Tour for the Missionary cause
The following extracts are from his letters written while residing at Canaan. The first was addressed to Deacon H. of Danby, in the state of New-York; an elderly gentleman, who had taken a very deep interest in the welfare of Obookiah, and had written to him a letter of advice soon after he made a profession of religion.
"Canaan, Dec. 1815.
"My dear Friend,
"Your letter I have received, dated the tenth of September. It was with great pleasure. I shall take your advice in the all-important things which belong to me to attend to as a professor of religion. I know that the eyes of the Lord are upon me day and night, and beholding all my wicked actions and motions in every thing which I do. O that the Lord would be my help! Am I yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity? I neither do justly nor love mercy as much as I ought, nor walk humbly with my God.
"The work of grace in the town of S. is still going on very powerfully. By the last account which I have heard, about one hundred and forty are in a hopeful state. They are now rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. And many others are inquiring the way to Zion, crying, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' In this place also many are in deepest concern about their souls. O where have sinners been so long since they had discovered the name of the Savior who was crucified upon the cross, and yet they have not come to him until now? They have known their Master's will but they have not done it. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. O wretched sinners, will you come to the foot of the cross at this very moment, and ask forgiveness of sins? Hark and hear the voice of him that knocketh at the door of every sinner's heart! 'Behold I stand at the door and knock.' Christ, the Savior, is knocking, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, for my head is filled with dew, and my licks with the drops of the night.' I cannot help weeping. My tears are running down for joy to hear and see sinners flocking to the Almighty Jehovah. O that all sinners may come to Christ!
'Stop, poor sinners, stop and think,
Before you farther go!
Will you sport upon the brink
Of everlasting wo?'
"O that we may stop and think where we are, and upon what ground we are standing, whether it be holy or whether it be unholy, or whether it be our duty to do the will of God or not. We now live here upon this earth, and how long we shall live we know not. Death will soon overtake us, for we are not far from it. My dear friend, I entreat you to be much engaged in prayer for thoughtless and stupid sinners in this country as well as in others.
"I would thank you to present my humble respects to all your family. I hope I shall see them, though at present unknown to each other, in the eternal world; if I do not in this present world. May God be gracious to you all. Remember me in your sweet sacrifice of prayer before our heavenly Father.
"Your affectionate friend."
To Mr. Ephraim Burge, Jun. Of the State of New York, he wrote as follows:
"Canaan, May, 1816.
"Having received your most kind and affectionate letter a few days ago, it much satisfied me. Notwithstanding you are so far from me, yet I expect to meet you at the bar of God. O how glad am I to hear from you, Ephraim. I am glad to hear that your mind has been more engaged in regard to the subject of religion than when we lived together. If it is so, my friend, that you have such thoughts in your mind, I urge you to be careful, for it is an awful thing to be deceived. Set your heart toward Christ, and in him you may find help. Our sins are very great and reach over our heads, and there is nothing which can make them smaller or stop them but the precious blood of the Lamb of God, who has all power to take away sin from the world. The Lord Jesus expressed himself thus-'I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.'
"You mentioned in your letter that the religion of Jesus Christ is glorious privilege. O my friend, it is so. We can say or think that his religion is a very important thing, if any one should have it, but we are not willing to seek for it. If the Lord has been pleased to operate on your mind by the influences of his Holy Spirit, as you trust he has, I hope the Lord will still continue his work in you through life. But let me entreat you to put your whole trust in God; make him sure as your own friend, and above all, give yourself entirely into the hands of your Savior, who came to seek and to save that which was lost. When you write to me, let me know all about your feelings. I long to see you, my friend, and all your father's family. I remember all your father's and mother's kindness while I was with them; though I am in fear that I do not feel thankful enough to God for it.
"If you should ever come to Connecticut, do take some pains to find me where I am, for I long to see you with brotherly love.
"I would desire your solemn prayer before your heavenly Father for
"Your affectionate friend."
TO MR. E. W. OF TORRINGFORD
August 5, 1816.
"My dear Friend,
"I hope you will not think it strange that such an one as I should write to you; for I am full of concern for the souls of others. O that the Lord would direct you in the right path. May the Lord teach me what I ought to write this day. I have heard that your sickness is still continuing. But O how is it with you now? Look now, my dear Elijah, and see whether you are prepared or unprepared, or whether you are fit to die or unfit-whether you are the Lord's or not. O my friend, consider how many are there who have been wheeled down to endless torments in the chariots of earthly pleasures, while others have been whipped to heaven by the rod of affliction. O how good had it been for some of them if they had never known the way of life by the crucified Savior. We have great reason to tremble when the Holy Scripture teaches us that few shall be saved-much more when it tells us, that of that rank of which we are, but few shall be saved; for it is written, 'Many are called, but few chosen.' I often think of you, my dear friend Elijah, since I heard of your sickness. You perhaps sometimes think about dying-and what must be your end-and how you have misimproved your best opportunities, &c. O what a dreadful thing it is to die in a sinful state! My friend, how do you expect to find joy and peace in heaven if you should die in your sin? How have you neglected the free offer of salvation, which is offered to you 'without money and without price!' Haste, O my poor friend and get up out of your sleep of sin and death, and the Lord Jesus Christ will give you life, comfort, health and strength-for there is none but Christ can do a helpless sinner good. Now, therefore, my friend, haste to look to Christ with faith, and ask for mercy and forgiveness of your sin. I feel for you, my dear friend-for the worth of your poor and never-dying soul. O don't refuse this lovely and welcome Savior any longer: -the more you reject him, the more you grow worse; the more you hate him, the greater will be your condemnation. O poor Elijah, choose the meek and lowly Jesus for your everlasting portion. Consider the danger in which you now live upon the brink of everlasting wo. Your sickness, I fear, will take you away from the world into a solemn and silent grave. O Elijah, Elijah W. where are you? Are you willing to leave this world of sin and death and be at rest? Are you willing to die now? In time of sickness we ought to keep our hearts right towards God, in order to be cheerfully willing to die. For 'death is harmless to the people of God.'-'The righteous hath hope in his death,' but 'the wicked is driven away in his wickedness.' Follow not, my dear friend, after the example of mankind, but after Christ's-make no kind of excuse, turn unto God and live. Be not offended because I have taken this opportunity to write to you in such a manner. Let all be taken into serious consideration. It cannot hurt you, my earthly friend. And it may keep your heart from shrinking back, to consider that death is necessary to fit you for the full enjoyment of God. Whether you are willing to die or not, there certainly is no other way to complete the happiness of your soul. The happiness of the eternal world of heaven commences immediately after death. Now can you, my dear Elijah, say, 'I will arise and go to my Father, and say, Father, I have sinned,' &c. O why are you so unwilling to accept the free offer of mercy? And why will you still shut Christ out of the door of your heart; when he still is knocking, and saying, 'Open to me, my sister, my love,' &c. O poor friend of mine! I do not speak of your being poor in body, but your soul is poor-wanting the bread of life. This is why I need to speak of your being poor; for without the love of God in the heart of a man, that man is poor.
"If you are a friend of Christ, be not afraid of death and eternity; for death cannot hurt you, nor your soul. Why then are you afraid that your sickness is unto death? If you were to die in sin-if death were to reign over you 'as a tyrant-to feed upon you as a lion doth upon his prey'-if death were to you to be the prison of hell, then you might reasonably startle and shrink back from it with horror and dismay. But if your sin has been blotted out of the book of God's remembrance; or if the Savior has begun his good work in you, why should you be afraid of being taken away from the world? And why not bid welcome to the king of terrors? My dear Elijah, our lives are short, and, like the smoke of the fire, are hastening away.
'Well, if our days must fly, We'll keep their end in sight.
"Remember, my dear Elijah, that I am not the teacher of the heart, nor the judge of it. The Lord Jesus is your teacher-he can make you feel. He can make the blind to see-and the lame to walk-and the sick to be healed-and above all, he can make you and I happy or miserable in eternity. All that I have said to you, my friend, will be remembered in the day of God's wrath. You and I shall both render our account to that God who has made us, at the day of judgement, for what deeds we have done in the body-whether we have done every thing right in the sight of Jehovah, or whether we have not. May the Lord God of hosts bless you. May Jesus make you faithful unto death, and that you may have at last the crown of life in the eternal world of glory.
"You, O parents of Elijah, you have the means of doing good to your own souls-to improve your time in the service of God. Where then shall you be after the returning of your bodies to the dust-when your bodies shall become food for the worms of the earth?
"Brothers and sisters of the sick man-your days will soon be over; and the road upon which you are all riding towards eternity soon will be ended. Remember, O my friends, that the eyes of the Lord are upon you all, beholding the evil and the good. Your souls are worth a thousand and million times more than such a world as this. Be careful lest they be lost in the snares and temptations of Satan, for they are many and ready to carry away your souls into darkness and despair. O that the Lord would smile upon you in pity and compassion, and save you from eternal death. Look up now, my friends, to Christ-which is your life."
The following letter was written to Mr. W. C. a member of Yale College,
"Canaan, Sept. 7, 1816
"My dear Friend,
"Our interview yesterday was but short, and our short conversation with each other was sweet to my soul. You requested me to write to you, for which I am now taking my pen to begin our correspondence; not because I am destitute of companions here, but for our everlasting good. There is one of the best friends who is above all earthly friends, even Christ Jesus the Lord. But we are all by nature the greatest and strong enemies to him. 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.' We are naturally opposers to God, and to the holiness of his nature, and unable to accept of his mercy which is offered to us 'without money and without price.'
"I have reason to bless Jesus Christ, that he has wonderfully turned my feet from the path that leadeth down to endless wo. There is nothing more that I can do for him, for his great and wonderful work in the soul of such an one as I, than to be thankful for all which I now enjoy. But this is not all-'Give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.' I hope that the God of all grace has been gracious to you, as he has to me. O that we both may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory here and hereafter. The religion of Jesus which we now have embraced (as we hope we are passed from death unto life) is a strong helper to the soul, to help us on to the peaceful shore.
"I wish I could express my weak feelings to you, but alas, I cannot. It is a difficult thing to tell you that I love my Maker more than I do any thing else. Truly I do not love him enough. I have faith in him but a little-but I am sure I wish to love him more and serve him better than I now do. O what a stupid wretch and hardhearted sinner am I! Why should I have been spared so long, while many of my fellow-mortals are gone over the other side of the gloomy grave, and I am yet on this side of eternity. O where are those now who have gone before me? Remember, my dear friend, that we shall soon return to the dust, and leave this world of perplexity and trouble, and all the useless pleasures in it, and be for ever miserable or happy in the presence of the King of glory. O how happy it will be for Christian souls to meet together and uniting their hearts in love at that time.
'When shall I reach that happy place,
And be fore ever blest?
When shall I see my Father's face,
And in his bosom rest?'
"It is no matter how long or short the lives of Christians are, if their best moments are well improved, in order to meet their lovely Jesus in peace whenever they are called for. Let us live, my dear friend, as strangers and pilgrims on earth-let us feel lively in the faith of the Son of God-let us both seek for a better country than this-let us be faithful and humble believers of Jesus. I think I can truly say to my Lord, Lord, my body and soul are in thine hands, do with them according to thy holy will. Thy will be done, and not mine. The happiness of this world is nothing but a dream. It will soon pass away as the wind that bloweth. We must give up all for heaven, lest we perish at the presence of the Judge. The best present that we ought to make to Christ, is to give our whole hearts to him-and not 'gold and frankincense and myrrh.' As wise men of the East did.
"Do remember, my friend, those that are around you whose sins are unpardoned. Do pray for them. Remember my poor countrymen, who know not the way of life by a Redeemer. Do not forget to pray for your affectionate friend,
Toward the close of the year 1816 Henry went to Amherst, Massachusetts, for the purpose of accompanying the Rev. Mr. Perkins, an agent of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in a tour through that section of the country, to solicit donations for the benefit of the Foreign Mission School. The success for the solicitations was greatly promoted by the presence of Obookiah. Contributions were highly liberal, and often drawn from sources not before accustomed to yield any aid to purposes of charity.
The interest which he had excited towards himself personally is expressed in a letter from Rev. Mr. Perkins, written soon after his death. "He was much beloved," he says, "by all who knew him in this region. He had awakened a lively interest in his welfare among them; and his death has cast a gloom over them which will not soon be dispelled. His recall to the world of spirits is one of those deep things of Providence which we cannot fathom."
A letter since received from the same respected source, contains several facts and observations which illustrate his character and evince the peculiar acceptableness and influence of his visit in that quarter.
"I have rarely, if ever," says Mr. Perkins, "seen a person who seemed to set so high a value on time as Obookiah. What others would call leisure hours, would be busy hours with him. When alone, he was diligent in his literary studies. When in company, improvement was his object-and if the conversation was not immediately interesting to him, he would take his Pocket Testament and read, or repair to his study and his books.
"At a little circle of friends one evening, he said to me in a whisper, 'Time is precious, here are a few souls going to eternity, 'tis a good opportunity to improve.' Just as we were about to retire at the close of the evening, he addressed two youth in the room for a few minutes on the subject of religion, with great apparent effect. Whether the alarm of conscience, which he was instrumental of exciting, proved lasting or not, I have never known. So valuable was time in his estimation, that if he had passed a day or an hour unprofitably, he would speak of it with deep regret.
"His humility deserves our notice. In visiting different towns, it was my practice to gratify the people by calling on Obookiah to address them on the subject of Christianity. He was always appropriate, solemn, and interesting. Many flattering remarks were frequently made to him on that account. But though this was calculated to foster pride and inspire him with unbecoming confidence, yet it actually produced the opposite-humility and self-distrust. A circumstance took place which justifies this observation.
"At a village of considerable magnitude, after the missionary service had been performed, the pastor of the church appointed an evening meeting. Just before the meeting, it was observed to Obookiah that some remarks would be expected from him. He modestly declined. The subject was urged. He said, 'I'm a poor heathen, I don't know enough to teach people who live in Christian land.' Being under my care, he applied to me to excuse him from the service. I replied to him, that I believed it to be his duty. The people had contributed generously. They were anxious to hear him speak on the subject of religion. You have always succeeded well; and what you shall say may prove a savor of life to some soul. Soon after, as we were passing to the meeting house, observing his extreme reluctance, I asked the Rev. Mr. B. to urge and encourage him. Many things were said to persuade him, but his reluctance appeared to be invincible. As we arrived at the door, he again fled to me for refuge. Said he, 'Do excuse me-I can't say any thing. You can preach-it will do more good.' I told him I could not, as the people would be greatly disappointed. But when I said this, such had been his anxiety, and such his manner of expressing his feelings, that tears instantly started in his eyes, and gladly would I have preached for his relief. When the proper time came, he was called upon to address the meeting. He deliberately rose and addressed the people with his usual propriety and seriousness. At the close of the service I passed by his pew and invited him to walk with me. He was bathed in tears. I did not hesitate about the cause. I tried much to soothe his feelings, but it was to no purpose. Mr. B. perceiving them, made an attempt to pacify him, but was unsuccessful; his soul seemed to refuse comfort. This was on our way to our lodgings. When we arrived at the house, I mentioned his feelings to the kind family where we were to lodge. Every expedient was tried to restore him to his wonted cheerfulness; but all our efforts were unavailing. After about an hour, one of the family took a seat near him, with a view to divert his mind. This attempt was successful-and the first sentence he uttered was, 'I'm a poor unworthy sinner-I feel as though I was lost.' His customary cheerfulness soon returned, and many in the little circle, who sat a long time sorrowing had their sorrow turned into joy.
"The Bible was his best and constant companion. He always carried in his pocket a Testament, which was presented to him by a friend who is now a missionary to the heathen. At a certain time he went about 10 miles to visit one of his countrymen. In changing his clothes, he left his Pocket Testament. On his return, he pleasantly said to me, 'Blind man don't walk very safely without his staff.'
"Obookiah's visit to this part of the country was of essential service to the cause of Foreign Missions. It has silenced the weak but common objection against attempting to enlighten the heathen, that they are too ignorant to be taught. This sentiment has prevented much exertion. It had a wicked origin. We have first enslaved our fellow-beings, then degraded them by every menial service, deprived them of the means of mental improvement, and almost of human intercourse; and because, under this circumstances, people of color are devoid of knowledge, we have hastened to the irrational conclusion that all the heathen are a race of idiots. Adopting this conclusion, multitudes are utterly opposed to making any attempt to turn them from darkness to light. Influenced by this opinion, groundless as it is, no reasonings, or arguments, or motives which can be offered, are of any avail. But the appearance of Obookiah has done much in this region to wipe off this disgrace thrown upon the heathen, and to remove the objection so often made. The proof he gave of talents as well as of piety, carried conviction to many that the heathen had souls as well as we, and were as capable of being enlightened and christianized. Acknowledgments to this effect have frequently been made to me; and now in the circle of his travels, there is no occasion to combat this objection.
"Another effect produced by his visit to this region is, that it has roused the slumbering energies of those who have hitherto done nothing in the Missionary cause. Many have become interested for the benighted heathen, and satisfied that the conversion of them to Christianity is practicable. And though they have never before lifted a finger or contributed a mite, have now been prevailed on to do something. In several instances dollars were handed me by persons who confessed that they had never done any thing before. This is an effect produced which probably will not be transient, but permanent. A feeling in the cause of Missions has been excited which will not soon subside.
"His visit has moreover enkindled a spirit of prayer and benevolence in the bosoms of God's children, which was very much needed. Coldness and a circumscribed charity were too apparent. Especially were these visible with respect to the heathen. But now there is evidently an increase of fervency and holy wrestling in the addresses of Christians to the throne of grace. They intercede for the unevangelized nations as though it was their hearts' desire that they might be saved. Their benevolent efforts are more numerous and more liberal. They not only exert themselves in this glorious cause, but they use their influence to induce others to come and do likewise. They refer them to Obookiah as an instance of the propriety and practicability of missionary exertion. While this instance encourages their own efforts, it greatly emboldens them in urging upon others the necessity and expediency of constant exertion in the cause of the heathen.
"Such have been the effects of Obookiah's tour in this region. And since such are the effects, and such was his character, it is not surprising that his death is so much lamented. Many flattering hopes were excited in the breasts of his friends here. A righteous Providence has seen fit to blast them. But we have a foundation for our hopes that cannot be shaken. On this we may rest the heathen cause and feel secure, while human means and promising agents are swept away."
The following letter was written by Obookiah, while at Amherst, to his companions at South Farms in Litchfield.
"Amherst, Jan. 1, 1817.
"My dear Brethren,
"I long to see you all. You may perhaps be glad to hear from me, and to know how I am. I hope you are doing well, both in your studies and your religious exercises of the morning and the evening, which is the duty of prayer.
"I have seen one of our own countrymen at Enfield, about nine miles from this place. He has been in that place for ten years, and two years at Boston. Thus he continued in this country just twelve years. He came from Hawaii, and his native place was Koihi, (well known such place.) From that place Capt. John took him on board the ship, and brought him over here, when he was not but fourteen years of age. His native name was Nahlemah-hownah. Since I saw him I could converse with him but little, for he has lost the greatest part of our language; but he could recollect the names of many things, as far as he was able to describe them to me. While I was with him he could not keep away his eyes from me, for wonder and gladness to see such an one who came from his own country. I staid with him two days at Enfield not long since. I spent the whole of my time with him while I was there. The first that I did, I took him by side side, to converse with him upon the serious subjects. By his own words I judged him to be as one who was willing to accept of the free offer of mercy, though I fear he may in a time of temptation fall away, and all that which is sown in the heart. O my dear brethren and friends, he needs your prayers! Pray for him, that he may be brought to see the goodness of the Lord, and that he may be faithful to his own soul. Do not delay your prayers to the Almighty God for such an one that is very dear to you. He now feels as though he was one of the greatest sinners that ever lived. Do you not all feel anxious for the soul of your own countryman here now in this country? O that he may devote himself to the service of his Creator! I observed many times while I prayed with him, he would deeply cry, with such a dismal gloom as if the wrath of the Almighty was upon him. I have heard last Sabbath noon, by a man who was well known to him, that this young man becomes more thoughtful ever since I come away. If this be the case, I would humbly beg at the mercy-seat for your prayers, that they may not be hindered. I shall see him again before a long time. He longs to see you.
"May God be with you all."
The youth here mentioned was afterwards a member of the Foreign Mission School, and exhibited hopeful evidence of piety. The impressions made by the conversation of Obookiah were never lost. His English name is George Sandwich.
Connection with Foreign Mission School-Character-Sickness-Death
Henry returned from Amherst, in April, to South Farms. Here he remained with his countrymen until the first of May, when the Foreign Mission School was removed to Cornwall.
He now had his mind bent upon becoming prepared, as soon as practicable, to preach the Gospel. He paid particular attention to preaching, and made many remarks upon the subjects of sermons and the manner of delivering them.
Some observations upon a common defect in preaching are well recollected. He complained of the practice of those ministers who used such language in their sermons as was unintelligible to most of their hearers. Ministers, he said, preached to persons of every description; almost all were ignorant, very few had learning, and if they preach to all the people, they ought to preach so that all can understand. They ought to use plain language. If not, he said, "as well might preach in unknown tongue." Every word, he thought, should be plain, for "people," said he, "can't carry dictionary to meeting."
As Obookiah, at the time of his entrance into the school at Cornwall, had arrived at an age of considerable maturity, it may be proper that a more particular description should now be given of his person and character.
He was considerably above the ordinary size; but little less than six feet in height, and in his limbs and body proportionably large. His form, which at sixteen was awkward and unshapen, had become erect, graceful, and dignified. His countenance had lost every mark of dullness; and was, in an unusual degree, sprightly and intelligent. His features were strongly marked. They were expressive of a sound and penetrating mind. He had a piercing eye, a prominent Roman nose, and a chin considerably projected.
His complexion was olive, differing equally from the blackness of the African and the redness of the Indian. His hair was black, worn short, and dressed after the manner of the Americans.
In his disposition he was amiable and affectionate. His temper was mild. Passion was not easily excited, nor long retained. Revenge, or resentment, it is presumed, was never known to be cherished in his heart.
He loved his friends, and was grateful for the favors which he received from them. In his journal and letters are found frequent expressions of affection and gratitude to those who had been his benefactors. To families in which he had lived, or to individuals who had been his particular patrons, he felt an ardent attachment. One of the latter, his early friend at New-Haven, who had been separated from him for a considerable time, he met with great delight; and after the first customary salutations, said to him, "I want to see you great while: you don't know how you seem to me: you seem like father, mother, brother, all."
In his understanding, Obookiah excelled ordinary young men. His mind was not of a common cast. It was such that, with proper culture, it might have become a mind of the first order. Its distinguishing traits were sound common sense, keen discernment, and an inquisitiveness or enterprise which disposed him to look as far as his mind could reach into every subject that was presented to his attention.
By his good sense he was accustomed to view subjects of every kind in their proper light; to see things as they are. He seldom misconceived or misjudged. By his companions his counsel was sought, and regarded as decisive. He had that clear sense of propriety, with regard to his own conduct and the conduct of others, which always commands the respect or excites the fear of those who behold it. Had he been disposed to cultivate a talent for this purpose, he would have become one of the severest of critics upon the manners and conduct of those around him.
Few persons have a deeper insight into the characters of men, or have the power of forming a more just estimate of them, by their words and actions, than he had. Few are more capable of perceiving the exact import of language, or are less liable to be deceived, as to its real meaning, by a designed ambiguity of terms.
His inquisitiveness existed in relation to all subjects of interest, and disposed him to make himself acquainted with everything that was known by others, and to discover whatever was within his reach.
His inquisitive mind was not satisfied with pursuing the usual round of study, but he was disposed to understand critically every branch of knowledge to which be attended. For this reason his progress in his studies was not rapid-but, as a scholar, he was industrious, ingenious, and thorough. His mind was also inventive. After having acquired some slight knowledge of the English language in its grammatical construction, he entered upon the project of reducing to system his own native tongue. As it was not a written language, but lay in its chaotic state, every thing was to be done. With some assistance he had made considerable progress towards completing a Grammar, a Dictionary, and a Spelling-book.
He had also translated into his native tongue the whole of the Book of Genesis.
These specimens of his industry and ingenuity, when seen, administer severe reproof to the sloth and dullness of most persons of much greater age and of advantages far superior to his own.
When Obookiah became a member of the Foreign Mission School, he had attended to all the common branches of English education. In reading, writing, and spelling, he was perhaps as perfect as most young men of our own country, of the same age and with common opportunities. He wrote a legible manly hand, and had acquired the habit of writing with considerable rapidity. He had at this time studied the English Grammar so far as to be able to parse most sentences with readiness. He understood the important rules in common Arithmetic, and had obtained considerable knowledge of Geography. He had studied also one book of Euclid's Elements of Geometry, and of his own accord, without a regular instructor, had acquired such knowledge of the Hebrew, that he had been able to read several chapters in the Hebrew Bible, and had translated a few passages into his native language. He had a peculiar relish for the Hebrew language, and from its resemblance to his own, acquired it with great facility; and found it much less difficult to translate the Hebrew than the English into his native tongue.
The winter before he came to the school he commenced the study of Latin. This he pursued principally after he became a member of the Institution.
In his manners, Obookiah was habitually grave and reserved. In the presence of his friends, however, his conversation was often sprightly, and rendered particularly entertaining by a fondness for humor, for which he was distinguished. This he oftener exhibited by a quick perception and relish of it in others, than by actually displaying it in him self. Yet he sometimes gave evidence in his own remarks of possessing no small degree of genuine wit. When conversing with his companions in their native language, he frequently afforded them much amusement by the pleasant and humorous cast of his conversation.
The customary deportment of Obookiah, however, was serious, and dignity strikingly characterized his manners. Few young men, it is presumed, command so much respect from persons of every age and character. Notwithstanding the familiarity which he used with his companions, he maintained an influence over them becoming the relation of an elder brother, or even that of a respected parent. In his intercourse with them the dignity of his character was peculiarly visible. A motion of his head often made known to them his will, and obtained the compliance which he desired.
His manners had become in a considerable degree refined. A gentleman of respectability who visited Cornwall, and had a particular interview with him, observed that he had met with but few persons of any country more gentlemanly in their manners, or intelligent and interesting in their conversation.
Obookiah was a decided and consistent Christian. His conduct was habitually under the influence of principles of piety. He manifested a strong interest in the general prosperity of religion, and expressed, in his conversation as well as his letters and diary, ardent desires for the salvation of his fellow-men; and especially of his countrymen, for whom he fervently prayed, and in whose behalf he often requested the earnest prayers of his friends.
In his writings satisfactory evidence is furnished of his own personal experience of the power of divine grace. In these may be seen his convictions concerning the character of his unrenewed heart; his views of the grace and glory of the Savior; his entire reliance upon the merits of Christ for justification, and the employments and duties in which he found his only happiness through the whole course of his Christian life.
Beside this evidence, and that which was furnished by his exemplary conduct, the following facts will afford additional proof of his ardent piety.
While a member of the Institution at Cornwall, he was in the habit of attending a weekly meeting with his companions on Saturday evening; in which, in addition to the usual exercises of a religious meeting, he questioned them individually concerning the state of their minds, and addressed to them such observations as the particular situation of each seemed to demand. Others in a few instances have been present, and have been greatly surprised both at the ability which he possessed of eliciting the feelings of his companions, and at the pertinency and wisdom of his remarks.
He once observed to a friend, whilst in health, "I have many times so much enjoyment in the night, I cannot sleep."
At another time, "When I have done wrong I am always sorry-I am so sorry!"
He excelled and delighted in prayer. In a letter from the Rev. Mr. Perkins, who often witnessed his performance of this duty in public assemblies, and had also a favorable opportunity of becoming acquainted with his secret devotions, it is observed, "Prayer seemed to be his daily and nightly business. In this duty he not only appeared to take great delight, but he was pertinent, copious, and fervent. It was almost impossible to hear him pray and not be drawn into a devotional frame. I have repeatedly witnessed great numbers in a meeting melted into weeping, and in one instance the greater part of the assembly, and several sobbing, while he stood before the throne of God, filling his mouth with arguments and pleading for christian and heathen nations.
"He remarked to me one morning as we were journeying, that the night previous he had spent chiefly in prayer for a youth who resided in the family where we had been kindly entertained."
He was once requested by a clergyman to attend a religious meeting with him, and make such observations as he thought proper to the people. Previously to the hour appointed for the meeting he proposed to the minister that they should retire and spend a short time in supplicating the blessing of God upon the duties they were about to perform.
Obookiah considered it his duty, and made it his habitual practice to converse as he had opportunity, with persons whom he supposed to be destitute of grace, and urge upon them the necessity of immediate repentance. In several instances his conversation has made impressions which have terminated in an apparent conversion of the soul to God.
After Henry's return from Massachusetts, he maintained a correspondence with several persons of respectability residing in the different parts of the country which he had visited. A very few only of his letters have been obtained; and parts of these are of so local and private a nature as to prevent their being inserted with propriety in this volume.
Extracts from two of them will follow. The first was addressed to S. W. Esq. of Greenfield, Massachusetts.
"Cornwall, June 16, 1817.
"My dear Sir,
"Again I take my pen to embrace this opportunity in writing. Indeed, on this very day I received a most affectionate letter; and when I came to unseal it, lo! it was from my dear beloved friend Mr. S. W.! How, or what answer can I give for it? My dear friend, I received your letter with a thankful heart. I rejoice to hear that you have still a lively thought concerning the great things of eternity. O that our thoughts and hearts may be united together in the fear of God, and in love of the Lord Jesus-whom you spoke well of. Indeed, my dearest friend, we are in a great debt, both to God and to his Son Jesus Christ. We owe them ten thousands of talents! And alas! how would we repay for all? Notwithstanding the greatness of our due to God, for all his goodness and kindness towards us, yet we can repay it, by giving up ourselves to him: for he does not wish for ours, but us-for thus it is written, 'My son, Give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.' Your observations which you made in this your letter, are just as the thoughts of a true and humble believer in God-and as one that fears God. Surely it is as you say, that the supreme love and affection must we give to him, who is the Lord over all, and blessed for ever. Pray that these thoughts may not be mislaid in our hearts.
"Since I received your letter, my companions had the curiosity to know the person from whom the letter was sent. I told them from one of my friends at the place where I was kindly treated. They were very much pleased with the letter-supposed that you was a friend of Christ, and a true believer in God, by what you spoke, both of Christ and his character. To whom I answered that I had a strong love for you, and hope that you may be a fellow-traveler through the journey of this wilderness. O that we both may meet in the presence of God in the eternal world above-where sin will never enter. Let us not neglect the duty which we owe to God to love him with our hearts, souls, and strength-and let us pray without ceasing.
"With this I must leave you, my dear friend, in the hand of God. Look to him to receive instruction and to know his holy character."
The following letter was written to A. S. Esq. of Amherst, dated
"Cornwall, August 15, 1817.
"My dear Friend,
"Your letter of late gave me great satisfaction; and since I have received it I do now think that I was in fault for not giving you an answer for it sooner; but be so kind as excuse me. You know not what joy and pleasure I have had since I received your letter. O what happy news! It gives me great joy to hear that the Lord has visited Amherst once more with the influences of his Holy spirit, and that he has already plucked as brands from the burning some of those who once had been destitute of the grace of God, and are now bowing down to the scepter of King Jesus. O that the professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus may be more and more lively in this most glorious work of our blessed Redeemer. Let every Christian be more and more deeply sensible that the glory of every good work here below must come from God; as we read that he is the Giver of every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above. We cannot expect to see a single soul coming out of the kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of Christ, unless we see one or more faithful and humble Christians running forward in spirit without any doubt, and failing not to do whatever duty God requires of them. O let us all entreat of the Lord that he would show unto us of his holy character and perfections, that we may be able to love and to serve him more and far better than we now do. Let us have a more realizing sense of our ingratitude and unfruitfulness in the eyes of the all-seeing God; let us be faithful in our duty, and may the great grace of God be sufficient for us all.
"I have not heard any news since I came away from Amherst. The only information that I can give is the present situation of this Institution under which we are placed. Our school is going on very regularly, and the scholars are making some progress in their studies. One of our members is become new born in Christ since he has been here, and I trust there is no small degree of happiness. He is now rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. O that the Lord would be pleased to bless this school. I humbly beg your prayers for this school, that each member of it may become a member of the household of God. Please remember me to Mr. and Mrs. P. and family. Tell Mr. P. that I shall write to him as soon as I can, but I dare not make any promise, or set a time when.
"Yours, H. OBOOKIAH."
About the commencement of the year 1818, Obookiah became seriously indisposed, and was obliged wholly to abandon his studies. A physician was called and speedy attention paid to his complaints. It was soon found that his disease was the typhus fever; and a thorough course of medicine was commenced, which after one or two weeks appeared to check the progress of the disorder, and confident expectations were entertained of his recovery. Hope continued to be cherished until it became evident that his strength was wasting, and that his constitution, naturally strong, was giving way to the violence of the disease, which had taken fast hold of him, and had not been essentially removed. Notwithstanding the unremitted care and the skill of his attending physician, (Dr. Calhoun,) and the counsel of others called to consult with him, the kindest and most judicious attentions of the family into which he had fallen, and the universal solicitude of his surrounding friends, he continued to decline until the night of the 17th of February, when his happy spirit was released, and his joyful anticipations realized, that he should soon reach his Heavenly Father's house.
He was confined during his sickness, and came to his peaceful end in the family of Rev. Timothy Stone, then the minister of the South Parish in Cornwall. To the kindness, Christian counsels, and good examples of this family, Obookiah and his associates were greatly indebted. The writer of this little memoir has not ceased to remember now, at the date of this edition, and he trusts will not, to the end of life, the uniform interest manifested by this family in the Foreign Mission School; and their great kindness, especially in sickness, to him and his pupils.
In this last lingering sickness, the Christian character of Obookiah was advantageously exhibited. His patience, cheerfulness, resignation to the will of God, gratitude for the kindness of his friends, and benevolence, were particular subjects of notice and conversation to those who attended him during this interesting period. His physician said of him that "he was the first patient whom he had ever attended through a long course of fever, that had not in some instances manifested a greater or less degree of peevishness and impatience."
Mrs. Stone, who devoted her attention exclusively to the care of this beloved youth, while his flesh and strength were wasting under the violence of his disease, observed that "this had been one of the happiest and most profitable periods of her life-that she had been more than rewarded for her cares and watchings by day and night, in being permitted to witness his excellent example, and to hear his godly conversation."
By this friend a part of his observations and answers, particularly within a few of the last days of his sickness, were committed to writing, and are as follows:
To one of his countrymen, as he entered the room in the morning, after he had passed a night of suffering, he said, "I almost died last night. It is a good thing to be sick, Sandwich-we must all die-and 'tis no matter where we are." Being asked by another, "Are you afraid to die?" he answered, "No, I am not." A friend said to him, "I am sorry to find you so very sick"-he replied, "Let God do as he pleases."
Mrs. Stone frequently inquired of him if he would hear a few verses in the Bible; "O yes!" was his answer, "'tis good," -and after hearing, he would turn his eyes to heaven, apparently in prayer. After a season of great distress, he broke out in an audible voice, and said, "If we put our trust in God, we need not fear." Frequently, when free from pain, he inquired for some one to pray with him; but often before he could be gratified his pains returned, and he forgot his request. The person whom he most frequently called upon for this purpose was his friend Thomas. They often prayed together, along: -as they had done for years. In the language of his female friend, "Their souls appeared to be knit together like those of David and Jonathan. Henry always appeared composed and apparently very happy after a season of prayer with Thomas. In a season of fainting I left the room for a moment to get some water, returned and found them weeping in great distress, supposing the time of separation had now come." Upon his inquiring for the doctor, to whom he appeared greatly attached, Mrs. Stone said to him, "Henry, do you depend on your physician?" "Oh! you don't know," said he, "how much I depend on the great physician of the soul." He inquired, "Does the doctor say I shall get well?" It was answered, "He thinks it is uncertain," -to which he said, "God will do what is right-God will take care of me." He observed to Mrs. Stone, "It is a fine pleasant morning." She said to him, "You are glad to see the light of the morning, after a dark distressing night." He replied, "Oh! some light in the night-some light of God."
"After a season of distress for two hours, he appeared perfectly happy-he looked out of the window-his eyes appeared fixed on some delightful object. I inquired of him, "Of what are you thinking, Henry?" "Oh! I can't tell you all," said he, -"Of Jesus Christ."
After sleeping for some time, he prayed very fervently, in these words, "O Lord, have mercy on my soul-Thou knowest all my secret sins-Save me for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior-Amen."
He said to one of his countrymen, who had been a faithful nurse to him, "I must eat or I can't live," -and then inquired of him with anxiety, "Have you eat breakfast, William? How thankful you ought to be that you have strength, and can eat!" Soon he raised his hands and said, "Oh! how I want to see Hawaii! But I think I never shall-God will do right-he knows what is best" -and burst into a flood of tears. "William, if you live to go home, remember me to my uncle."
To dear H. he said, "I am thinking most of the time how good God is-how kind to me." His companions were mentioned. He said, "They are all very good; they have done a great deal for me. But they must be good for themselves too."
"He appeared very affectionate to all, especially his countrymen. He insisted on some one of them being with him continually; would call very earnestly for them if they were out of his sight; and would be satisfied only with this, that they were gone to eat or to rest." To one of them he said, "W--, I thank you for all you have done for me; you have done a great deal; but you will not have to wait on me much more-I shall not live." To another, "My dear friend S--, you have been very kind to me; I think of you often; I thank you; but I must die, G--, and so must you. Think of God, G--; never fail." To another, "You must stay; perhaps I finish off this forenoon. How much God has done for me and for you!"
The day before he died, "after a distressing night and a bewildered state of mind, he appeared to have his reason perfectly, and requested that his countrymen might be called." After they came in he inquired several times for one of them who was absent, and for whom he had no hope; and said, "I have not seen him much-I shan't see him-I want to talk to him." When the rest had seated themselves around his bed, he addressed them most feelingly in his native language, as long as his strength would permit. As much of the address as could be recollected was afterwards written in English by one of his countrymen; and was essentially as follows:
"My dear countrymen, I wish to say something to you all-you have been very kind to me- I feel my obligation to you-I thank you. And now, my dear friends, I must beseech you to remember that you will follow me. Above all things, make your peace with God-you must make Christ your friend-you are in a strange land-you have no father-no mother to take care of you when you are sick-but God will be your friend if you put your trust in him-he has raised up friends here for you and for me-I have strong faith in God-I am willing to die when the voice of my Savior call me hence-I am willing, if God design to take me. But I cannot leave you without calling upon the mercy of God to sanctify your souls and fit you for heaven. When we meet there we shall part no more. Remember, my friends, that you are poor-it is by the mercy of God that you have comfortable clothes, and that you are so kindly supported. You must love God-I want to have you make your peace with God. Can't you see how good God is to you? God has done great deal for you and for me. Remember that you must love God, or else you perish for ever. God has given his Son to die for you-I want to have you love God very much. I want to talk with you by and by-my strength fails-I can't now-I want to say more"--
This is probably but a part of what was spoken, and that imperfectly translated. The address, under the circumstances in which it was made, was affecting beyond description. The weakness of Obookiah, which was such that it was with difficulty that he could utter an audible sound; the peculiarly affectionate and earnest tones of his voice, faltering in death-his companions sitting around him with broken hearts-some of them almost unable to support their grief-the address being continued until his strength was entirely exhausted-rendered the scene literally overwhelming-loud sobbing was heard throughout the room; and from persons little accustomed to weep.
After Henry had ceased to speak, one of his countrymen, at his request, communicated in English to those of his companions who were not able to understand the Hawaiian language, such things as Henry had previously committed to him for that purpose.
An hour or two after this, when Obookiah had obtained a little rest, his countryman George Tamoree, who had been absent during the address, coming in, he said to him "Sit down, George, I have been talking with the other boys. They have been very kind to me-I can't pay them-but the Lord Jesus has enough and to spare-not money nor wine-he will reward them. You, George, as well as I, are a poor boy-you have no father nor mother here-God has given us good friends, and you must love him and serve him, George; and when we have departed here we may praise God for ever. We must all die. Doctor C. cannot save us when we are sick unto death. You and I are sinners. May the Lord Jesus have mercy on our poor souls. I must rest."
To a son of Rev. Mr. Stone, who came to his bedside, and after looking at him, was about to withdraw, he said, "Wait-wait-I wish to speak to you. R--, you have become a great boy-you have been to school a great deal. Remember you will be examined at the day of judgment for your improvement."
To a friend he said, "My faith holds out." To another, "How soon shall I be taken away?" It was answered, "Pretty soon." He was asked, "If you could have your choice, would you choose to live or to die?" He replied, "I do not know; I wish to live to do good; if it were not for this, I do not wish to live another moment." And added, with much apparent grief, "I've lost my time-I've lost my time."
To another friend he said, "I have no desire to live, if I can enjoy the presence of God, and go where Christ is."
Looking down at his feet, which bore evident marks of approaching death, he cried out, "Oh, mortality!"
His physician requested him to take some medicine which was disagreeable to him; he said, "Wait, wait, sir, till to-morrow;" but soon consented, and said, "perhaps there will be no to-morrow." The evening before his death the Rev. Mr. Mills, whom he always called "Father Mills," came into see him. He looked at him very wishfully, and said, "Will you pray, sir, before we part?" He listened to the prayer with fixed attention, and when it was closed, said, as he had done in every instance before, "I thank you, sir"-and this with a sweetness of voice and an expression of countenance which none can conceive but those who witnessed them.
As death seemed to approach, Mrs. Stone said to him, "Henry, do you think you are dying?" He answered, "Yes, ma'am"-and then said, "Mrs. Stone, I thank you for your kindness." She said, "I wish we might meet hereafter." He replied, "I hope we shall," -and taking her hand, affectionately bade her farewell. Another friend taking his hand, told him that he "must die soon." He heard it without emotion, and with a heavenly smile bade him his last adieu.
He shook hands with all his companions present, and with perfect composure addressed to them the parting salutation of his native language, "Alloah o e." -My love be with you.
But a few minutes before he breathed his last, his physician said to him, "How do you feel now, Henry?" He answered, "Very well-I am not sick-I have no pain-I feel well." The expression of his countenance was that of perfect peace. He now seemed a little revived, and lay in a composed and quiet state for several minutes. Most of those who were present, not apprehending an immediate change, had seated themselves by the fire. No alarm was given, until one of his countrymen, who was standing by his bed-side, exclaimed, "Obookiah's gone." All sprang to the bed. The spirit had departed-but a smile, such as none present had ever beheld-an expression of the final triumph of his soul, remained upon his countenance.
THE MEMOIRS OF HENRY OBOOKIAH
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