Titus Coan - QUOTES I

Last Updated: April 28, 2015


The Hawaiian People
The Great Awakening
Christian Unity
Missions and the Church
Volcanic Accounts
Final Years

   From The Books
   From Other Sources
   Quotes About Him

(Unless otherwise noted, quotes below are from Coan's autobiography "Life In Hawaii.")

The Hawaiian People:
  • [Initially] "The people were all slaves to their chiefs, and no man but a chief owned a foot of land, a tree, a pig, a fowl, his wife, children, or himself. All belonged to his chief and could be taken at will, if anger or covetousness or lust called for them. I have seen families by the score turned out of their dwellings, all their effects seized, and they sent off wailing, to seek shelter and food where they could. 'On the side of the oppressor there was power, but the poor man had no comforter.'”

  • "Tradition and history alike tell us of Kamehameha I., the Caesar of Hawaii, the iron framed warrior, the first legislator, and the first law giver of the Hawaiian race. We are told how he warred and conquered, and how he united all the islands and all the petty principalities under one chief."

  • "They are naturally generous and hospitable. Of old, they welcomed the weary and hungry traveler to their huts, sheltered and fed him to the best of their ability, and without charge. And this generous hospitality was extended to all without respect to nationality, color, wealth, or rank."

  • Quote from Titus Coan to Lord George after the short-lived British take over of the Hawaiian Kingdom (1843): "Well, sir, we choose to be under the Hawaiian [Flag] ... we desire that this weak and small people should be free and independent. It is a right which should not be taken from them without just cause.”

The Great Awakening:
  • On preaching and the Gospel: "These days and years I never rose to address a native audience without feeling an assurance that a Divine power rested upon me, and that 'Death and Hell' could not withstand the Word of God, but that it was the 'sword of the Spirit, quick and powerful;' that it was the 'fire and hammer,' and the gleaming battleaxe of Jehovah, ordained to conquer Satan and sin; and that it is in deed and truth, 'the power of salvation' to all who believe, whether speaker or hearer." - Letter to Rev. S. Bishop

  • "Only let us preach the gospel in living faith, and under the awful pressure of the world to come, and I defy this people... to sleep. Why they might as well sleep under a cataract of fire." - November 24, 1837 letter to Lorenzo Lyons, missionary in the Waimea area of the Big Island

  • "Often have I seen a whole assembly moved to tears and tenderness by the prayers and wrestlings of one man. They plead the promises with no apparent shadow of a doubt, and the answer often came speedily. Is it not recorded for the assurance of faith that 'Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear?' They were praying with melting fervor for the Spirit, and He came, sometimes like the dew of Hermon or the gentle rain, and sometimes 'like a rushing mighty wind,' filling the house with sobbing and with outcries for mercy."

  • "On some occasions there were physical demonstrations which commanded attention. Among the serious and anxious inquirers who came to our house by day and by night. there were individuals who, while listening to a very plain and kind conversation, would begin to tremble and soon fall helpless to the floor."

  • "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."

  • "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...."

  • "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."

Christian Unity:
  • "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."

  • "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."

Missions And The Church:
  • "It was my habit to get all the help that could be obtained from converts, and this was much. As the company of disciples increased, “they went everywhere preaching the word.” The Lord ordained them, not man. In every hamlet and village there were found some who were moved by the Holy Ghost, and to whom the Spirit gave utterance."

  • "And this is the wail over all the earth, — want of laborers to gather the harvest, and want of material means to give strength, courage, and due success to the weary toilers in the field. Our three missionaries in the Marquesas are doing what they can..."

  • Patagonia: (S. Chile - Argentina) "On returning from Patagonia I landed in New London, Conn., May 7, 1834.... the perils of the sea and of the howling wilderness of savages were now past, and I was in the land of liberty, of light, and of Christian love."

  • Hawaii (1835-1881): "The field in which I was called to labor is a belt of land extending by the coast line 100 miles on the north east, east, and south east shore of Hawaii, including the districts of Hilo and Puna, and a part of Kau. For many years after our arrival there were no roads, no bridges, and no horses in Hilo, and all my tours were made on foot. These were three or four annually through Hilo, and as many in Puna; the time occupied in making them was usually ten to twenty days for each trip."

    • N. Hilo: "The path was a simple trail, winding in a serpentine line, going down and up precipices, some of which could only be descended and ascended by grasping the shrubs and grasses;"

    • Puna: "Throughout its length it is marked with ancient lava streams, coming down from Kilauea and entering the sea at different points along the coast. These lava streams vary in width from half a mile to two or three miles."

  • Marquesas (1860): "They are more bold, independent, fierce, and bloodthirsty than most of their neighbors, and they have always been cannibals of the most savage kind."

Volcanic Experiences:
  • "No history of the two volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea can be written which will not be largely based on Mr. Coan's writings." - W. D. Alexander in Memorial Volume, 43. [Kilauea is actually on the flanks of Mauna Loa]

  • 1843 Mauna Loa: "...we came directly abreast of a stream of liquid fire half a mile wide, and bending its course toward Hilo."

  • 1852 Mauna Loa: "There were unutterable sounds as the fierce fountain sent up the seething fusion to its utmost height; it came down in parabolic curves, crashing like a storm of fiery hail in conflict with the continuous ascending volume, a thousand tons of the descending mass falling back into the burning throat of the crater..."

  • 1855-56 Mauna Loa: "Still the eruption made steady progress toward the town, felling the forest, filling up ravines and depressions, and licking up the streams and basins of water in its way. It reached the banks of the Wailuku, and lateral arms were thrown out into the river."

  • 1868 Kilauea: "But the larger portion of the igneous river, or its main trunk, moved in a nearly straight line toward the shore, pouring over the upper end of the precipice upon the plain below, and dividing into two streams which ran parallel to each other, some hundred feet apart, until they plunged into the sea."

  • 1880-81 Mauna Loa: "The flood came on until all agreed that in two or three days more it would be pouring into our beautiful bay. On the 10th of August it was but one mile from the sea, and half a mile from Hilo town. On that day, nine months and five days from the outbursting of the great eruption, when hope had perished in nearly every heart, the action began to abate."

Final Years:
  • "I do not now regret a sojourn in 'that great and howling wilderness' of Patagonia [Now Chile - Argentina], or my perils on the sea and in the rivers; my painful travels on foot over thousands of miles, or my hungerings and thirstings in cold and heat, nor any suffering that the Lord has laid upon me in His service. They all seem light and momentary now, and there is full compensation in the joy the Master has granted me."

  • Upon first wife, Fidelia Coan's death in 1872: "The dear one was an extensive and eclectic reader, a clear and logical thinker. Her mind and heart were well prepared to take an active part in the literary and religious discussions and activities of the age, but she freely chose the life of a missionary to the heathen. To me she was a peerless helper. Her self denial was marvelous. The same self abnegation which led her to say to me, in answer to the question, 'Shall I go to Patagonia?' 'My dear, you must go!' controlled her whole life. She never objected to my going on my most severe or perilous expeditions along the shores or on the mountains of Hawaii; or held me back when duty called me to the Marquesas Islands."

  • On second Marriage: "It is time to bring these imperfect sketches to a close. The foregoing pages have been written among interruptions and anxieties, but they make some partial record of a life preserved by its Giver in many scenes of danger and crowned with many blessings. And among its chief blessings I would recognize God’s goodness in granting me precious partners in my life work. My second marriage, October 13, 1873, was to Miss Lydia Bingham, daughter of the Rev. Hiram Bingham. This faithful helpmeet is the strength and support of my age. But for her suggestions, and her patient labors in copying the manuscript of this volume, I should not have undertaken, at my time of life, the task of writing it."

  • He selected what would be written on his tombstone [except for date of death]
February 1st, 1801.
December 1st, 1882

Believest thou this?
- John 11:26

[Memorial Volume, 248.]