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William Williams Journal Extract

1841, September 26 – October 17

(digitized on Trove) Images 281-286, transcribed by Merv Duffy, September 2022 Documents on Trove Website

The page with Oct 13

[September 26 Sunday]
Congregation about 1000 in the morning. Preached from Ephesians 3:17-18. At the Lords Supper there were 161 natives which is within 50 of the whole number of professed Christians. Congregation in the afternoon about 600.
Bible Class 14. Candidates from Ngaitaioiri(?) 96.
Bible class from Toanga(?) 25. Candidates 150
Occupied with natives teachers in deliberating about a provision for the natives of Ahuriri and concluded that Paul Matenga shall go thither. Went afterwards to visit sick natives.
Conversed with 20 candidates from Table Cape and supplied them with a supply share of the Testaments. The natives of that quarter have heard that the Papish priests and coming this way, but I am thankful to find that many who had professed to join them are now coming over to us. They return much pleased with the acquisition of books they have made.
[Oct 3.]
Sunday Service morning and afternoon with the natives. At English service with Europeans.
Packing up for journey to Wairoa with my nephew and my son Leonard.
Set out from Turanga on our journey to Wairoa. At Packawakawa we found a large number of natives who much wished us to stay for the night that I might converse with them but the plan of our journey required that we should proceed further.
Slept at Tarewa on the top of a range of hills in the morning we found the ground covered with snow which is so far a novelty that Leonard saw it for the first time. The natives were not disposed to move till the snow was all melted, so that it was late before we reached Nuwaka(?)
Examined 50 native candidates for Baptism of whom 34 passed.
Examined 23 candidates and passed 18. In the afternoon took down the names of the candidates and addressed them.
[10. Sunday.]
At morning service the congregation consisted of about 200. When 52 adults were admitted to the rite of Baptism, and in the afternoon 25 of their young children. It is a grateful proof of the steady advance of Christianity that the solitary wilderness so far from home should produce fruit so largely, for the work seems to advance as surely here as elsewhere. The native teacher Marsden(?) is a steady consistent native, and is enough(?) looked up to by the people, among whom indeed he is a principal chief.
[Oct 11.]
Set out for Nukutaurua on Table Cape which we reached early in the afternoon. A Popish Priest has been here about a fortnight[1] and is living very near to the village where our teacher resides. He finds however that a large majority of the people are close attendants upon our instructions but still there is a party attracted to him who have altogether kept aloof from us. Held evening service in a chapel 54 feet by 40 and had a congregation of about 500 persons. I am told that the Priest has expressed his readiness to meet me and discuss the difference between us and the Church of Rome before the natives.
[Oct 12.]
Wrote to the Priest and received his answer that tomorrow he will be glad to meet me. Engaged in conversing with natives generally and examined 20 candidates for baptism all of whom passed.
Went accompanied by a large body of native to the village where the Priest is living, and after a brief interchange of salutation we commenced our discussion. He asked me to open the proceedings. I therefore stated that the natives had told me of certain things in which they say that we Protestants are in error. First that our Church has been in existence only 300 years. 2 that our scriptures are stolen from theirs and thirdly that the clergy of our Church are adulterers because they marry. The priest then drew a diagram on the ground shewing the position of different countries of Europe and also of lesser Asia, Judea, Egypt and the North of Africa. He then stated that the Xtianity had its first rise in Judea, that the Apostles went in different directions to preach the Gospel and came also to Rome. That Peter and Paul both died there, and that Peter having been appointed as chief of the Apostles by Christ, established the Chief seat of the Church at Rome and that his successors were consequently the heads of that Church that all countries looked up to this head until Henry 8th in England wishing to get rid of his wife, was opposed by the Pope than that Henry on this account broke from the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome therefore is the true Church and ours is an innovation.
The same diagram served my purpose. I begged the natives to remember that the Xtian religion had its rise in Judea, and not at Rome, that Xt when about to ascend into heaven gave a commission to his apostles to go and teach all nations, that they accordingly went over the world that we heard of two of them travelling in the direction of Rome but no more, but that the rest travelled to Egypt, North of Africa and to the east of Judea … that hence Churches were established in those directions altogether independent of the Church of Rome .. that those Churches mentioned in the testament of Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Macedonia, Ephesus, Antioch etc. never belonged to the Church of Rome and that to this day they are distinct under the name of the Greek Church. – that there was the Church also of Armenia. And the Church in Egypt branches of the same, distinct from the Church of Rome. – That Christianity had continued in a great measure until about six hundred years after Xt, though errors had then been gradually rising up in that the Chief part of Europe came under the dominion of the Ch. of Rome until after a lapse of time like a man recovering from the effects of intoxication the English and Germans under the blessing of God upon the preaching of Wickliff and Luther came to their senses and threw off the yoke of Rome and that thus the Church in theirs countries returned to the its primitive simplicity . Upon the subject of Peter’s superiority over the rest of the apostles he quoted their favourite passages “thou art Peter and upon this rock etc. and John 21 feed my sheep feed my lambs and which he said that the lambs meant the flock and this sheep the keeping of the flock which Peter was to feed. To this I gave a contrary interpretation and shewed further that Peter was the only one of the Apostles of whom a series of errors were recorded. The which expression to Christ which led to the rebuke get thee behind me Satan. The denial of Christ, And the cause he gave to Christ Paul to rebuke him openly. Upon the second point that our scriptures are stolen from them the priest said their being the only true Church consequently the scriptures were committed to their keeping. To this I explained that the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek that the originals we had and translated from them and not from books belonging to the Papists. That if a man takes water from the cask of another man without his permission he may be said to steal it but if he goes to the river & fills his own vessel such a charge is not bought home to him.. that is what we have done in our translations of the Scriptures.
Upon the third point the marriage of the clergy, he supported their practice rather on the ground of their church deeming it expedient than upon scripture authority, though he referred to 1Cor. 7 In answer to this the strong injunctions of Paul to Timothy and Titus together with the fact of Peter being a married man were sufficient to show the natives that scripture is against them.
Having disposed of these subjects I then proposed three others as being most palpable to the understanding of the natives. 1. Why they exalt the Virgin Mary in the place of God making her an object of worship. 2. Why they invoke the saints in their religious worship. 3. Why they worship images.
To the first of these points he said we do not worship the Virgin but Christ is exalted on high & Mary is a little below (and he held two sticks one below the other to show his meaning) and we are down the bottom. We therefore entreat Mary to unite her supplications with ours, just as people in the world are accustomed to get another to intercede on their behalf. To this I replied that in the first place, in the mention made of the Virgin Mary in the Testament there is nothing to sanction any superior respect being paid to her as in Luke 2:48-49[2] and Luke 8:20-21[3] that secondly the name of Mary does not occur after the period of our Lord’s ascension neither is there any allusion to such practices, and that it was not till after very many years had passed away that such a practice was begun by the Papists. That thirdly the bible tells us that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus that Xt ever liveth to make intercession for his people Heb 7:25[4] and that fourthly true xtians need no intermediate communication for that wherever two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ there he is in the midst of them.
In behalf of the invocation of the saints he had nothing more to advance that what he had said in behalf of the same practice to the Virgin. Against all which declaration of Peter in Acts 10: 25 & 26[5] and of the angel in Rev. 19:10 & 22:8-9[6] are sufficiently explicit. The worship of images he denied saying that they used them only as Protestants used pictures of their departed friends but that they do not worship them.
I replied that it was a fact which the natives have witnessed frequently that their images are arranged with lighted candles at their sides and that they kneel before them and call upon them in prayer. The priest then appealed to a native chief who had brought him from the Bay of Islands as to what he had seen at Kororareka. The man at first denied that they worship but then said “all I saw there was that they bow before them.” “Listen” said I “to that all he saw was that they bow before them. Now God has said thou shalt not make any graven image, thou shalt not bow down to them.” He then produced a book of pictures of sacred subjects and asked mw whether I saw anything objectionable in them. I said “No the pictures are very good to look at but I hold up this book & kneel before it and call upon persons here represented I commit idolatry and sin because God has said thou shalt not. He then spoke of the Cherubim made by the command of God for the Tabernacle and also of the brazen serpent. I replied the Cherubim were not made to be worshipped neither is there any intimation that they were so. That the brazen serpent was made for a specific object , but not to be worshipped, but that when after a number of years it became an object of worship King Hezekiah had it broken to pieces and destroyed. Our discussion had now lasted 4 ½ hours and enough had been brought forward to satisfy me that the natives who were disposed to pay deference to scripture would be favourably impressed in the behalf of Protestantism and after a brief recapitulation of the chief points I presented the priest with the native testament I had used on the occasion and took my departure. In the evening I addressed the natives on the subject of the intercession of Christ.
[Oct 14.]
Examine 50 candidate of whom 41 passed. The natives told me that when our part had left the priest yesterday he made an exhibition of his images to his own people no doubt telling them that he had them only to look at but not to worship. Addressed the natives on the value of the Scriptures in the evening.
[Oct 15.]
Examined 50 candidates and passed 35. A native came this morning who says that he with others watched the priest this morning through the chink of the door of his house, and that what said on Wednesday about not worshipping images was false, they said he first put on his (“kakahu karakia”) vestments and then took his images out of a box. That he put some clothes on them and duly arranged them with lighted candles by their side that he then bowed before them and prayed.
[Oct 16.]
Examined 20 candidates of whom 15 passed. In the afternoon arranged the names of the candidates and addressed them. The natives teti(?) one(?) was(?) Hawaikirangi the chief supporter of the Papists is anxious that I should baptize his daughter who has been under instruction of our native teacher but has not been presented to me.
[Oct 17. Sunday.]
Examined Hawaiki’s daughter a girl about 12 years of age. She is tolerably well informed and under the circumstances I think it desirable to comply with the father’s wishes.


  1. Father Claude-André Baty SM see doc 114
  2. Luke 2: 48-49 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
  3. Luke 8: 20-21 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
  4. Hebrews 7: 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
  5. Acts 10: 25-26 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
  6. Revelation 19:10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” […] Revelation 22: 8-9 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”