The Great Awakening
Thousands Of Native Hawaiians
Touched By God
Note: These are all quotes from the letters, journals and writings of those involved in the Christian mission to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1800's. It is good to know and remember that there was great preparation by both the Holy Spirit in and by the missionaries. They had spent over 15 years laboring among the people prior to this. All Transportation on the islands was by foot. They suffered the loss of most creature comforts they had in New England. They had learned and developed a written language. The first bibles had been printed. When we pray for revival, we should pray far more for God to prepare the way in us and around us than for revival itself. All page references below are from the original editions.
Early in 1838 Mr. Coan went through Puna, holding protracted meetings at different points, and under almost every sermon fearfulness took hold on sinners. Again he writes:
"January 29. - "At the first village the Holy Ghost fell on many that heard the word, and they left all and followed from place to place, weeping as they went. I should hardly dare tell my brethren generally what I saw in Puna. Some would call it Methodism, some fanaticism, wildfire, etc. I call it the power, of God unto salvation, for I felt it in my soul before it fell upon my congregation. And it fell upon them under the most bold and searching and simple truth which I could present to their minds, and as the most unequivocal answer to prayer."
- Titus Coan, Hilo - "Titus Coan A Memorial" pg 44
"The scene was such as I had never before witnessed. I stood dumb in the midst of this weeping, wailing, praying multitude, not being able to make myself heard for about twenty minutes."
- Titus Coan, Hilo - "Life In Hawaii" pg 50
"Time swept on; the work deepened and widened, Thousands on thousands thronged the courts of the Lord. All eastern and southern Hawaii was like a sea in motion. Waimea, Hamakua, Kohala, Kona, and the other islands of the group, were moved...."
- Titus Coan, Hilo - "Life In Hawaii" pg 48
July 3, 1838. - "Sabbath was a glorious day here. I baptised and received seventeen hundred and five to this church. Yesterday I spent the afternoon in baptizing the children of the church, several hundreds in number. Sinners are coming in from Kau and all parts of Hilo and Puna, and hardened rebels are constantly breaking down."
- Titus Coan, Hilo - "Titus Coan A Memorial" pg 46
"Until wicked and infidel foreigners came among them, a Hawaiian could hardly be found who would deny the existence and character of the true God, or the truth of the Bible revelation."
- Titus Coan, Hilo - "Life In Hawaii" pg 253
Some of the congregations were immense. That at Ewa was about four thousand in number. Honolulu had two congregatious, one of two thousand five hundred, the other between three thousand and four thousand. At Wailuku the congregation was one thousand eight hundred; at Lahaina, it was generally two thousand; and at Hilo, it was estimated to number at times more than five thousand.
- Rufus Anderson "History of the Mission" pg 144
"The missionaries at all the stations, standing, as it were, between the living and the dead, with the scenes of eternity before them, and seeing many thousands of the people ready to hear and inquire, insisted largely on the cardinal points, the ruined condition of the sinner and his exposure to everlasting death; the utter inexcusableness of his continuing his rebellion against God; his need of justification through the righteousness of Christ; the freeness and fullness of redemption through his blood; the duty of immediate repentance and faith as the condition of pardon; the necessity of the aid of the Spirit of God in the work of regeneration and sanctification; and the importance of immediate submission to his guidance, teaching, and commands. The gracious visitations of the Spirit of God from on high, which at this period were joyfully hailed at all the stations, as wonderful and glorious, as the expected answer to united prayer, the expected blessing on the means which the Lord of the harvest had most specifically and peremptorily enjoined, led, we believe, unusual thousands to crowd the doors of the sanctuaries, where they were addressed with unusual earnestness, and where the united cry of many ascended to heaven. With thousands the missionaries held personal conversation, endeavoring to know their thoughts and their state, and to lead them to Christ or to confirm them in faith and hope. Examining great numbers, and selecting such as appeared to be born of God, they propounded them for admission to the church, and after some probation, usually two or three months, baptized those who in the judgment of charity were the true disciples of Christ. In midsummer, it was found that the aggregate additions to the churches were equal to the three thousand added at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and the two thousand immediately after, and that 2400 more had also been propounded for admission."
- Bingham (Oahu) - "Residence of Twenty-One Years" pg 521
From letter by A. Bishop, Oahu 1838:
"Our congregation has increased to about four times its former number. About one thousand was the former number of regular hearers. We have now, perhaps, four thousand on the Sabbath morning, but not that full amount in the evening service. We have laid aside the use of our chapel, and built a large lanai, or shelter, where we meet in fair weather which is with us the greater part of the year. The lanai is one hundred and sixty-five feet long and seventy-two feet wide and is filled by the crowd who mostly sit upon the ground in a compact mass."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 161
From letter by Mr. R. Armstrong, Wailuku, August 4, 1838:
"My public labors during the past year have been more abundant than they have any previous year of my missionary life. From last January till May first I attended more than twelve meetings a week, besides almost constant conversation with individuals in private. Indeed, many days, I have been so pressed from daylight in the morning till late at night as scarcely to allow me time to eat, or spend half an hour with my family."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 163
From letter by W. P. Alexander, Waioli, Kauai, August 25, 1838:
"The showers of blessings which have been refreshing the garden of the Lord in these islands of the sea, have not been withheld from our field. I have never before witnessed among the people so earnest an attention to the means of grace and so deep concern for the salvation of the soul."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 164
From letter by D. Baldwin, Lahaina, August 17, 1838:
"I will attempt to give you a brief account of what God has been doing for us, though I feel that neither tongue nor pen can tell what our eyes have seen and our hearts have felt. Such scenes were never intended to be fully described here on earth. It will be enough that they will be fully and perfectly unfolded at the great day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest and we shall be prepared to unite with angels in joy unspeakable and in giving all the glory to God. Our protracted meeting commenced March 7th. The interest we had observed among the people previous to the meeting now became more general, and the cases of decided conviction or awakening began to multiply. Indeed the little cloud had already spread till it seemed to rest over the whole population. There seemed to be an awe over the whole. During the week of the meeting all business was, as if by instinct, suspended. Even the work of preparing their food, to which hunger prompts, was not attended to. It was observed that no fires for cooking were kindled in all the place, a change which positive orders from their chiefs would hardly have effected at any other time. The whole population seemed, during the week, to view the time as a Sabbath and, to our view, even the hardest seemed to have some sense that God was near. Those were days of awful solemnity to us. We had heard of His pouring down the Spirit on parts of Hawaii, and now we saw Him advancing in majesty toward us. We bowed down in earnest before Him, entreating Him not to pass by without giving us a shower of blessing. Our congregations had increased in size before the protracted meeting. The house was almost always crowded to excess. Probably two thousand were generally present, while many went away who could not gain admittance, and more deep solemnity, stillness, and fixed attention could never be found in any part of the world. All classes crowded to the place of worship. The children thrust themselves in where they could find a little vacancy. Old hardened transgressors, who had scarcely been to the house of God for the whole fifteen years that the Gospel had been preached at this place, were now seen there in tears, melting down under the power of omnipotent truth."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 165
From letter of H. B. Hitchcock, Kaluaaha, Molokai, November, 1838:
"Several of the native brethren were sent out to the outstations to converse with the people and they were astonished to find that the Lord had preceded them and had inclined the hearts of many to attend to His word. They were absent one week and returned little less surprised at the power and goodness of God, than were the disciples when they exclaimed: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name!" This visit of these brethren to the distant places of the island had a very beneficial result. Besides the protracted meeting at the station I have held two others, one at Halawa, an outpost twelve miles northeast of Kaluaaha, the other at Kalamaula twenty miles west. Both were solemn sessions and the Holy Spirit was present at Halawa in a most evident manner. From the commencement the people seemed prepared to believe the word and every successive sermon seemed to increase the fears of sinners and to make them the more earnest in inquiring for salvation. No means but the naked sword of the spirit were resorted to on this occasion and yet there seemed to be scarcely an unconverted sinner in the assembly, which averaged during the meeting between four and five hundred. Never did I witness a more fixed and anxious attention to the word of God."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 169
Lahaina, January 7, 1839. Rev. D. Baldwin writes:
"The meeting house on the Sabbath for two months past has been excessively crowded. We reckon that above two thousand may find room in the house. During November we were in the midst of shipping season, and yet that was the time when our congregations became more thronged, which was a matter of astonishment to the people. Not less than twenty ships were at anchor most of that month and yet a pious stranger remarked to me that the market was the solitary place, and the temple of God the crowded place, a thing which had never before been so seen in Lahaina."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 169
From letter by H, Bingham, Honolulu, April 26, 1838:
"The Spirit of God is showered down upon the whole extent of the Sandwich Islands and those of us who have seemed to think the Gospel could hardly gain a lodgment in the heart of this people because of their alleged stupidity, or ignorance, or want of conscience, are now constrained to admit that they can be as readily affected by the Spirit of God as any class of men with whom we have been acquainted. The protracted meeting here about the time of Nahienaena's funeral appears to have been crowned with many fruits."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 171
From letter by Titus Coan, June 6, 1839:
"Since July last the pastor has made five separate tours through Hilo and Puna, holding numerous protracted meetings and preaching from twenty to thirty times a week. These labors have been prosecuted from village to village and from house to house by night and by day. I suppose the great numbers added to our church is what staggers the faith of many. A beloved missionary sister in writing to us on this subject says: "If there were only a few hundreds we could believe, but there are so many it spoils it all." That was a frank and honest confession. The fact is that the church is not prepared to see great things in the conversion of the heathen. Missionaries themselves are not prepared for it. At Kohala I spent one week in company with Brother Lyons and Brother Bliss in attending a series of meetings. A large and solemn concourse of people assembled from day to day and in increasing numbers to the last. God was there. His spirit breathed upon the slain. There was a shaking among the dry bones. The presence of the spirit was indicated by the fixed eye, the gushing tear, the quivering lip, the deep sigh, and the heavy groan, God was there and the people were moved at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. God was there. His power was felt. His arm was seen. His voice was heard. His thunders shook the hosts of hell. He was there and none but a sleeper could fail to see it - none but an infidel could deny it. Pipes like the "books of those who used curious arts," were brought in great numbers and burnt, and most of the plantations of tobacco in Kohala were destroyed."
- "Pilgrims Of Hawaii" pg 172
"Here a great multitude just recovered from the darkest heathenism, a multitude, such as Christ once fed by his miraculous power, having heard his glorious Gospel, often unite in commemorating the dying love of Him who made and who has redeemed the world."
"In coming to the close of twenty-one years from the abrogation of the ancient tabus, and the 21st year of the mission, we are called to notice what the Lord had done for the nation in respect to government, education, morals, and religion. The constitution and laws, the production of a people so recently barbarous, whose first lessons in their own language had been printed but eighteen years, may be referred to as a monumental record of advancement. The Bible entire, printed in two editions of 10,000 copies each, and welcomed by the nation, as another: six boarding-schools, 12 station schools and 357 common-schools, embracing 18,000 scholars, as another; and as another still, the establishment and enlargement of eighteen churches to be the light and glory of the land. How wonderfully does the grace of God rear his spiritual temple in the Sandwich Islands, by the influences of his Spirit copiously shed down on the nation, and thus through the divine Word bring into his visible kingdom and to his ordinances so large a proportion of the population during the last four years of the history of the nation and of the mission. Not less than 20,000 were, in this period, added to our churches, all of whom, at the time of their admission, were regarded by the missionaries and their native Christian friends, as hopeful converts and disciples of Christ. Should we suppose that through haste or error one-fifth of the whole had entered the church unworthily, it may be added that three or four thousand more not then baptized, considered themselves as converts, and were subsequently admitted."
"Though the American missionaries entered on their work at the islands more than forty years subsequently to the discovery by Capt. Cook and the death of that navigator, numbers of the Hawaiian people who were contemporary with him, lived on amid the ravages of war and pestilence, to hear of the great salvation from the lips of the missionaries, and some even to see the great revival of 1837 - 1840. Bending with age, with locks silvered or whitened for the grave; those who saw the wars of Kalaniopuu, Kahekili, and Kamehameha, and the slaughter of human victims on the altars of superstition, and were surrounded by those by whom multitudes of helpless infants suffered a violent death, now came to the altar and temple of the living God, and though their eyes were growing dim with the dust of years, and the days of their probation about to close for ever, they now, with wonder, saw a glorious light, as they were taught to look up to the Lamb of God. As they looked around on the state of society to mark the contrast with that of their early days, they beheld thousands of children now connected with Sabbath and other schools, provided by missionary, parental, and governmental care, and groups of them here and there singing "Hosanna" in the temple. The age of darkness, of wars, of infanticide, and of human sacrifices, had passed away, and the age of schools, of wholesome laws, of Bibles, of spiritual sacrifices, and revivals, had come."
- Bingham's "Twenty-One Years In The Sandwich Islands" pg 576-78
The following table will show the additions to the churches during the four years ending June, 1837-1840.
"Controversies among Christians always sadden me. Our warfare is against sin and Satan; and Heaven’s 'sacramental host' should never fall out by the way, or spend an hour in their conflict with Hell in fighting with one another."
"Grasping and defending vital truths, and allowing kind and courteous discussions of outward forms, the whole Church of Christ should clasp hands and march shoulder to shoulder against the common foe. The many and different church organizations, with their external rites, rules, and preferences, never offend me where there is 'the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.' All Christians are bound by the supreme law of heaven to love one another, not to bite and devour nor to indulge in 'envy and strife.' "
"We wish to be liberal and to labor in loving harmony with all who love our Lord and Saviour, and who pray heartily for His coming and kingdom, but we pity all who are exclusive, and who vainly set themselves up as the only true Church."
- "Life In Hawaii" pg 90
"Our Hawaiian churches are not called Episcopal, Presbyterian, or Congregational, or by any other name than that of the Great Head, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls. We call them Christian churches."
- "Life In Hawaii" pg 139