(By Dr. C. H. Laws, Fellow of Trinity Methodist Theological College, Auckland)
It is an especial pleasure to commend this interesting Booklet to the Methodist people, and indeed to' a larger circle of readers. There has long been a complaint among us that the story of our early missionaries and of the pioneers who laid the foundations of our European work is not available, in brief and inexpensive form, for wide circulation, especially among the younger people of the Church. But here we begin to remedy the defect.
The Booklet makes no pretension to biographical completeness. It is no more than a sketch of the life of a devoted man, who in his day was a powerful influence in New Zealand Methodism, and of an equally devoted woman, who through long years was his constant help-meet. The writer as an act of devotion to their memory, cast into form, with much care, the story of their lives for perusal by their descendants. She had no thought of other readers. It was only at the request of the Publications Committee of the Church who were impressed by the value of her work and by the service its wider circulation might render, that the authoress consented to its publication in its present form. Every reader will be grateful that this consent was given.
The Booklet tells its own story, and makes its own impression. The attentive reader soon begins to build up in his mind a picture of Thomas Buddle as he was known to his contemporaries. He was one of a circle of able men, which included Walter Lawry, John Hobbs, James Buller, Joseph H. FIetcher, Alexander Reid, William Morley and others, and among these he held no secondary place. His grasp of affairs, his sagacity and foresight, his organising and directing capacity, and, not least his intense loyalty to Methodism and its traditions, made him a trusted counsellor and leader. From the day that he stepped on board the Triton, until long years afterwards he "ceased at once to work and live," he was numbered among the men of Issachar who "had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do." He won the respect and confidence of the Maori people and held it unbroken through troublous years; high officials of State sought his advice and were influenced by it; the pioneers of European settlement found in him a friend and spiritual adviser; his own church accorded him the highest places of distinction and trust.
There is an element of challenge in such a story. It reminds us of far-off days when hardship and sacrifice were the common lot. It recalls the large and gracious heritage which is ours through the toil of other men. It reveals the spirit that made Methodism a remarkable force in the first important years of the country's development. And it demands of us that we, who have entered into the labours of good men and women, shall treasure their example and enlarge our heritage as we pass it on to those who follow us.
For the forms of Methodism may change, but its true spirit never can. It is always true that the whole world of reachable men is our parish; always true that, in the essential meaning of the words, we "have nothing to do but to save souls"; always true, as John Wesley himself said, that "if we could bring all our preachers, itinerant and local, uniformly and steadfastly to insist on these two points - Christ dying for us and Christ living in us - we should shake the trembling gates of hell."
Dr. C. H. Laws , Auckland, Nov., 1940.