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only one who might have said "I am in hell! I am in hell!" He and Young were men of education, the rest were of the rough sailor class of those days. Oaths and curses were now to be heard, where hitherto only the song of birds, the harp-like music of the trees, the sighing of the wind, and the roar of the ocean, had mingled their various sounds. The new tenants of the gem-like island were the very reverse of peaceful and happy; they were, indeed, "hateful, and hating one another." Besides this, they had deceived the Tahitians, who now found they had been enticed from their country to be slaves, and the men burned with revenge against their tyrants. Fletcher, who acted the part of a chief, built a house for himself in the middle of the island, which he fortified against attack; but the Tahitians watched their opportunity, and killed him and four of the white men who came to his assistance. Revenge produced revenge, and in the sort of civil war which ensued, all the Tahitian men were slain, so that, besides the native women, only four men were left.
But Satan's reign was not over even now. One of the men discovered the means of making intoxicating liquor from the root of a plant growing on the island, and one day, when one of them had drank too freely, he wandered about as one out of his mind, fell over the edge of a precipice and broke his neck. Another was killed in a dispute with the other two, and in 1800 one of them, Edward Young the midshipman, died of asthma. Adams alone remained of all the fifteen men who had landed from the "Bounty," every one of whom, with the exception of Young, had died a violent death. Their sin found them out . The men of blood and deceit and violence did not live out their days. Evil overtook them all, one only being reserved as a proof of God's long-suffering mercy, and as a trophy of His sovereign saving grace. That one was Adams.
When a boy Adams lived in London, gaining a scanty subsistence by going errands. He had no education, but he had a capacity for learning. While going his errands he often noticed the signboards with their big letters. These were his primer. By asking one and another the meaning of the characters, he acquired his alphabet, and then soon learned to spell and read a little. This acquirement he did not lose, and we shall presently see how it was the means of great good to himself and many others thirty or forty years afterwards.
Among the stores which were unshipped from the "Bounty" were a few books. They were little heeded at the time, and were thrown aside and forgotten. Some ten years or so after the scenes of murder and bloodshed narrated above, Adams was one day turning over his stores, and came upon a dusty old book. It was a Bible, and, being alone, he opened it to read. His heart was heavy, and he felt very wretched in the memory of all the misery he had passed through, and his own share in all the wickedness which had been perpetrated. Two dreams which he had recently had, also cast a sickening shadow over his spirit. In one of these dreams he thought he saw a grim and awful being approach him, with a dart in his hand, as if ready to strike through him. In the other dream the horrors of the place of torment were displayed before his eyes, to a degree which alarmed him greatly. His longsleeping conscience was awakened, and when he found the Bible it was a welcome discovery. He began to read it diligently. Presently he came upon the passage, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"1 This mingling of gracious declaration with solemn asseveration, weighty admonition with tender appeal, touched his heart. He began to weep. He read again, and he found the place where it is written, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." l He read on, and the Holy Spirit, who had given him grace to weep over his base wickedness and desperate ungodliness, enabled him to believe the gracious promise of a loving God. At the feet of Jesus he found forgiveness, and he was enabled to rejoice in "redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." 2 Thus the wicked old sailor became a new creature in Christ Jesus. It was a new world in which he now lived, though on the same little island. A new sense of responsibility pressed upon him; a new path of duty opened before him. There was a good number of children growing up in the island; hitherto they had had no care bestowed upon them, no instruction given them. They were of a mild, susceptible temperament, and they had had no example before them but one of crime and blood, and there seemed only the prospect that in them would be united the vices of their European fathers, with the heathenish degradation of their Tahitian mothers. Adams looked around upon the young people with compassion, and resolved that, as he was in a measure responsible for their ignorance, he would do what he could to remove it, especially by trying to teach them the value of the book which had brought light and liberty to his soul.
1 Ezek. xxxiii. II.
He began by prayer, praying for them and for himself hree times a day. One morning, as he was sitting with the old Bible on his knees, pondering how to commence the work of instruction among the young, two youths appeared to receive orders for work. He directed them to dig and plant a certain piece of ground, promising them a reward. Presently one of them said, "You promise us a reward for our work, may we choose what it shall be?" Adams assented. "Then," said he, "we see you constantly reading in that book, and you talk much of the good that is in it, will you teach us to read it too?" Thus was the way opened, in answer to his prayer, and in a few days the 1 Isa. i. 18. 2 Eph. i. 7.
whole community were learning to read. The Bible was the one lesson-book, and there was awakened an increasing thirst for knowledge.
It was not long before things assumed a new appearance in the island. Public worship was established; Adams, by the aid of an old prayer-book he had found, conducting the service as best he could. The Sabbath was carefully observed, the tone of morals was raised; order and cleanliness prevailed; the houses were improved, and the land brought into better cultivation.
In 1829 Adams died, beloved and honoured by all. A year before this event, a young man named George Nobbs, every way well fitted to take up the work Adams had begun, reached the island. In 1852 he came to England for ordination, and returned to minister to and direct the interests of his flock, which then numbered about one hundred and seventy persons.
Surely it may be said, in admiration of the results of the conversion and efforts of Adams, " What hath God wrought!" Divine grace prevailed over all the aboundings of sin. God's right hand and His glorious arm obtained the victory, and the wrath of man was made to praise Him. Had the change in Adams been only from profanity to formalism, such results could not have been secured. Education might have done much, but it could not have given him "a new heart," nor have transformed the howling wilderness into a peaceful garden of the Lord. It is real conversion, vital faith in Christ, and the renewal and devotion of His redeemed powers, that man everywhere and all the nations of the earth need. The silvering over of the base metal, the superficial overlaying with formalism, the mere veneer of religion, will not do; it is powerless against ungodliness, pride, and the rule of the god of this world. The kingdom of God is within. The tyranny of sin can be overthrown only by the power of sovereign grace. The "strong man armed" can be cast out of the heart only by Him who is "mighty to save."
And may we not, with all reverence, adapt the words of our Lord to many in this land and elsewhere, who, with a profusion of gospel ordinances, spiritual privileges, and golden opportunities of making their calling and election sure, remain fruitless cumberers of the ground, alienated from the life of God, and still among those who obey not the gospel; while sinners, such as Adams was, and people ignorant as all the Pitcairn Islanders were, press into the kingdom and "lay hold on eternal life."
Once again, therefore, we repeat the appeal of the loving Father, who waits that He may be gracious. "Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and .... rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness ;" 1 lest otherwise, when you seek admittance into the heavenly kingdom, the door shall be for ever shut against you. R. S.
|harlie says we had better not think too much
about his getting an extra week's holiday, mamma
dear, for old Mr. Harrington is very unlikely to
"Mean old man !" exclaimed Mrs. Hudson emphatically.
"What a shame it is when the boy only comes home once
a year! a fortnight is gone almost before I have had time
to realise that he is here."
"Yes, I wish he could get three weeks," said Nellie Hudson; "but I suppose if he bad a longer holiday all the other clerks would be jealous."
"Perhaps they are not so far from home as he is, and can run down from Saturday to Monday sometimes," replied Mrs. Hudson. "Wretched, mean old man!" she added, her eyes filling with tears.
1 Joel ii. 12, 13.