A Conversation on Religious Subjects with the Governor…

During the forenoon, Mr. Harwood made an auger, to aid the well-diggers in boring the rocks. I walked with Mr. Thurston to see what progress they had made, and to encourage them to persevere. The rocks they said were hard, and their progress slow, yet they were not discouraged, but hoped to find the work easier as they descended. After dinner, the governor entered freely into conversation on religious subjects, particularly respecting the resurrection of the body, the destruction of the heavens and the earth at the last day, and the final judgment. After listening attentively to what was said upon these subjects, he inquired about the locality of heaven and hell. He was told that we did not know where the one or the other was situated, as none had ever returned from either, to tell mankind about them; and we only know, that there is a place called heaven, where God makes glorious manifestations of his perfections, and where all good men are perfectly happy; and that there is a place where wicked men are shut up in darkness, and endure endless misery. He then said, “How do you know these things?” I asked for his bible, and translated the passages which inculcate the doctrine of the resurrection, and told him it was from that book we obtained all our knowledge of these things; and that it was the contents of that book which we had come to teach the people of Hawaii. He then asked if all the people in our native countries were acquainted with the bible. I answered, that from the abundant means of instruction enjoyed there, the greater portion of the people had either read the book, or had in some other way become acquainted with its principal contents. He then said, How is it that such numbers of them swear, get intoxicated, and do so many things prohibited in that book? He was told, that there was a vast difference between knowing the word of God, and obeying it; and that it was most likely, those persons knew their conduct was displeasing to God, yet persisted in it, because agreeable to their corrupt inclinations. He asked if God would not be angry with us for troubling him so frequently with our prayers? If he was like man, he said, he was sure he would. I replied, that God was always “waiting to be gracious,” more ready to hear than we were to pray; that indeed he was not like man, or his patience would have been exhausted long ago by the wickedness of men; but that he continued exercising long-suffering and forbearance towards sinners, that they might turn from their wickedness and live.

We supped with the governor as usual, and, after family worship with his household, prepared our baggage for our journey, some of which we left to be forwarded by the Ainoa to Waiakea, a district on the eastern side of the island. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

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