Speaking of Bishop Willis, 1893.


The Diocesan Magazine is a purely religious publication—not like the Christian Union in New York, or our own Friend, partially secular in its character. It is, therefore, with some surprise, that one finds half the March issue given over to a rabid attack on the Government, the Revolution, and indeed upon almost everything civilized, progressive and Christian in sight. Those who are acquainted with the career of the present head of the Anglican Church in Hawaii, will find nothing unexpected in his sentiments, but will be surprised only at the manner and occasion of their expression.

In the spectacle of a Bishop rushing with flying coat-tails into politics there is of itself nothing to criticise, except from an aesthetic standpoint. We are earnest advocates of the right and duty of Christians to interest themselves actively in the work of reform everywhere. But it should be to aid the moral forces of the world in their combat against evil, not to ally himself with retrogression, despotism and heathenism that the clergyman should climb down from his pulpit, and the rule, we take it, applies as well to Bishops as well as to men of lesser degree.

The actual contents of the article in the Diocesan Magazine demand very little attention. The Bishop arrays himself for modern warfare in the arms of the middle ages, and his rusty panoply of outworn analogy and Scripture text remind one of the good knight Don Quixote and his crazy Rosinante. it is not with these weapons that the battles of modern politics are won. Mediævalism is out of date in society, in politics, in religion and in warfare, and the mediævalist in modern controversy simply courts destruction. We are reluctantly compelled to conclude that the man who argues that we ought not to have resisted Liliuokalani because the Christians of the second century did not resist the Emperors of Rome, belongs in the century whence he draws his analogies. We want none of his old bottles for our new wine.

As a sample of the arguments with which this article is garnished, we may cite the contention that the revolution may put back the cause of Christianity for fifty years at leas. The missionaries of China, Japan and Madagascar will be persecuted. It appears even that the inhabitants of Antananarivo—wherever that may be—have an eye cocked on Hawaii. They will say, says the Diocesan, that the missionaries are selling the independence of this country in order to build up a trade in guava jelly. To avert a like fate from overtaking the jelly tumblers of Antananarivo, they will immediately expel all the missionaries from their borders.

It is not to be disputed that the Bishop has scored a good point in alluding to this threatening attitude of the Antananarivorians, and if it had been properly placed before the public before, everything might have been different. Common prudence would have dictated the sending of an embassy, at the very least, to the watchful inhabitants of this important city before proceeding with our little revolution. However, there is no use in crying over spilled milk. The mischief is done now and it is vexatious to have its evil consequences alluded to. We are provoked into suggesting that after all it is not so much the revolution that will do the mischief, as the Diocesan Magazine itself, which by its attitude lends color to the preposterous falsehood that the Hawaiian revolution is the work of Christian missionaries. Fortunately the inhabitants of Antananarivo are not likely ever to hear of the Diocesan Magazine.

The magazine contends further that it is a want of taste as well as well as Christian charity to expose the vices of monarchy. Possibly. But not to do so is toadyism. It is a truckling to worldly power, a thing base enough in anyone, but inexcusable in religion, which should level all ranks before the Almighty. The Anglican Bishop quotes Scripture as much and to as little purpose, as his new ally, C. W. Ashford. We would commend to his attention the following citation, “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted them of low degree.”

We have the highest respect for the Anglican Church. It is an old and honored establishment counting millions of adherents in various quarters of the globe. It has a beautiful and truly religious service, exerts, and has for centuries exerted, a wide influence for good. The army of its clergy has been adorned with many men distinguished not alone by their piety, but by their learning, eloquence, liberality and genius. It is therefore with the greater regret that we see the head of the Anglican Church in these islands compromise the credit of that body by making himself champion of the forces which militate not alone against the interests of civil and political liberty, stability and progress in Hawaii, but against the cause of Christianity itself.

(PCA, 3/18/1893, p. 2)


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XVII, Number 3331, Page 2. March 18, 1893.

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