Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/128

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

rally warriors in time of war, is sufficiently piercing to rouse the dead.

The crown and the bracelet worn by King Saul in battle seem most natural adornments to these chiefs, whose bracelets and crowns of nautilus shell attracted our admiration at their council of war. As our Lord spoke of unclean spirits walking through dry places, seeking rest, so these islanders believe that unquiet spirits roam at large in the forest, and they propitiate them by offerings of food.

In the New Hebrides, Dr Turner met with a curious illustration of that strange history of Elisha giving his staff to Gehazi, and bidding him lay it on the face of the sick child. The staff of the New Hebrides was a polished stick of black iron-wood, which was the representative of a god, whose ministering priest was one of the disease-makers. When summoned to attend a case of sickness, this sacred staff was carried to the sick man's room, and the priest, leaning upon it, pronounced certain charmed words, after which recovery was considered certain.

In Samoa and other groups, all disease was supposed to be the work of malignant wizards, therefore to them the friends of the sick applied for healing, or at least for counsel, even as Ahaziah sent his messengers to the priests of the god of Ekron to learn whether he would recover of his sickness.

For the healing of the sick, as well as conferring honour and personal comfort, "anointing with oil" was as familiar in Judea as in Samoa. "Thou anointest my head with oil," might be said by any honoured guest in these isles; while "oil to make him of a cheerful countenance" was equally requisite. St James's directions for the healing of the sick by the prayers of the Church elders, and anointing with oil, literally describe the course pursued in various parts of the Pacific—as, for instance, in the Tokelau isles, where the friends of a sick man send for the priest of the disease-making god, who comes, and dipping his hand in oil, passes it gently over the sufferer, offering prayers for his recovery. An important part of the ceremony, however, not prescribed by St James, is the offering of fine mats to the priest.

These are but a few of the multitude of illustrations collected