Summary: The life of Samuel Marsden Apostle to New Zealand is an inspiration to us to preach the gospel again.

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On Christmas day 1814 the gospel was first preached in New Zealand at Oihi bay in Northland. God had a plan for the salvation of the nation then, and He has a plan now, I have included a bit of history about the Rev Samuel Marsden, which I hope will inspire many to take up the challenge afresh. Come on New Zealand Christians, those who have gone before gave up much to preach the gospel in this land, it is time to stir ourselves again, lets get preaching again.

The Rev Samuel Marsden went to Australia to accept the position as assistant chaplain to Richard Johnson. He went with a mission for the country, and with a heart for the nations of the South Pacific. “By education and persuasion Marsden belonged to the same evangelical wing in the church of England as Rev Richard Johnson. Before completing his degree, God appeared to be opening the way for Marsden to carry the gospel of His son to distant lands” (Page 159 Vol 1 Manning Clark “A History of Australia”)

According to his autobiographer S.M. Johnstone, Samuel Marsden was a “Strong willed, courageous personality, a born organiser with a passion for work, devotion to duty, a leader of men and a grand old man.”

But Marsden was also a man with a divine calling to evangelise the indigenous people of Australia New Zealand and the South Seas. He was also a man of Gods word. “But he tells us of the source of consolation: meditating on the Scriptures, and a study of the life of David Brainerd, the evangelist of the Indians of Pennsylvania.” ( Brainerd was a powerful minister of the gospel who saw the miracles of God in his ministry)

“Marsden was a man of faith, on the long voyage to Australia the ship was struck by a violent storm, during which time Marsden’s wife gave birth to a daughter. Despite the ferocity of the storm and the fact that his family were all drenched by the huge seas, with their very lives in danger, he knelt down in prayer and gave thanks to his Lord for their deliverance. He wrote: ‘In the midst of all difficulties, God has always blessed my basket and my store, and prospered me in all that I have set my hand unto’ (A History of Australia, page 253, vol 1)

On his arrival in Sydney in March 1794 he was appalled by the vice and depravity of the convicts: “He was shocked to find the convicts condemned to death were greatly alarmed, and had no idea of a God of grace, nor was any one teaching them of His grace and mercy” (Page 139 vol 1 A History of Australia)

But the man was a visionary. He saw the hand of God, and in a sermon to the church at Botany bay he reminded them that although Britain had chosen Botany bay as a receptacle for criminals, He who governed the universe had another object in view: because the time had come for the heathen nations of the South Pacific to be favoured with the knowledge of divine revelation.

He also said “It is my opinion that God will ere long visit New south wales with His heavenly grace. Out of these stones he will raise up children unto Abraham. There has not yet been shaking among the dry bones, but the Son of Man is commanding a shaking, and I hope by and by, the Lord will command the wind to blow. Stir up thy strength O Lord and come among us.” (From Samuel Marsden Biogrophy by S.M. Johnstone) (New Zealand was part of New south wales at the time)

Marsden sailed to New Zealand in obedience to what he believed was the calling of the Lord. “He knew that they (the Maoris) were a savage people, full of superstition, and wholly under the power of darkness. There was, as he saw it, only one remedy which could effectually free them from their cruel spiritual bondage and misery, and that was the gospel of a crucified saviour.”

Professor Manning Clark in his History of Australia records the scene at Oihi beach in the Bay of Islands on Christmas day 1814 as follows:

“Surrounded by savages who had massacred his countrymen, Marsden wondered much at the mysteries of Gods grace, He began the service by singing the old hundredth psalm and a very solemn silence prevailed. Marsden preached to them, taking his text the tenth verse of the second chapter of St Luke’s gospel ‘behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy’ He said as part of his message, “Every night I go down on my knees to ask the father of mercies to crown my feeble efforts in New Zealand for the evangelization of the Maoris”, adding with fervor his hope that all Christian societies might unite in love and in one body against the prince of darkness.”

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