MR. BRAINERD’S JOURNAL:
CONTAINING HIS GENERAL REMARKS ON THE DOCTRINES PREACHED,
THEIR EXTRAORDINARY EFFECTS, &c.
The doctrine preached to the Indians.
BEFORE I conclude the present Journal, I would make a few general remarks upon what to me appears worthy of notice, relating to the continued work of grace among my people. And, first, I cannot but take notice, that I have, in the general, ever since my first coming among these Indians in New Jersey, been favoured with that assistance, which to me is uncommon, in preaching Christ crucified, and making him the centre and mark to which all my discourses among them were directed.
It was the principal scope and drift of all my discourses to this people, for several months together, (after having taught them something of the being and perfections of God, his creation of man in a state of rectitude and happiness, and the obligations mankind were thence under to love and honour him,) to lead them into an acquaintance with their deplorable state by nature, as fallen creatures: their inability to extricate and deliver themselves from it: the utter insufficiency of any external reformations and amendments of life, or of any religious performances, they were capable of, while in this state, to bring them into the favour of God, and interest them in his eternal mercy. And thence to show them their absolute need of Christ to redeem and save them from the misery of their fallen state.--To open his all-sufficiency and willingness to save the chief of sinners.--The freeness and riches of divine grace, proposed “without money, and without price,” to all that will accept the offer.--And thereupon to them without delay, to betake themselves to him, under a sense of their misery and undone state, for relief and everlasting salvation.--And to show them the abundant encouragement the gospel proposes to needy, perishing, and helpless sinners, in order to engage them so to do. These things I repeatedly and largely insisted upon from time to time.
And I have oftentimes remarked with admiration, that whatever subject I have been treating upon, after having spent time sufficient to explain and illustrate the truths contained therein, I have been naturally and easily led to CHRIST as the substance of every subject. If I treated on the being and glorious perfections of God, I was thence naturally led to discourse of Christ as the only “way to the Father.”--If I attempted to open the deplorable misery of our fallen state, it was natural from thence to show the necessity of Christ to undertake for us, to atone for our sins, and to redeem us from the power of them. If I taught the commands of God, and showed our violation of them, this brought me in the most easy and natural way, to speak of and recommend the Lord Jesus Christ, as one who had “magnified the law” we had broken, and who was “become the end of it for righteousness, to every one that believes.” And never did I find so much freedom and assistance in making all the various lines of my discourses meet together, and centre in Christ, as I have frequently done among these Indians.
Sometimes when I have had thoughts of offering but a few words upon some particular subject, and saw no occasion, nor indeed much room, for any considerable enlargement, there has at unawares appeared such a fountain of gospel-grace shining forth in, or naturally resulting from, a just explication of it, and Christ has seemed in such a manner to be pointed out as the substance of what I was considering and explaining, that I have been drawn in a way not only easy and natural, proper and pertinent, but almost unavoidable, to discourse of him, either in regard of his undertaking, incarnation, satisfaction, admirable fitness for the work of man’s redemption, or the infinite need that sinners stand in of an interest in him; which has opened the way for a continual strain of gospel-invitation to perishing souls, to come empty and naked, weary and heavy laden, and cast themselves upon them.
And as I have been remarkably influenced and assisted to dwell upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, in the general current of my discourses here, and have been at times surprisingly furnished with pertinent matter relating to him, and the design of his incarnation; so I have been no less assisted oftentimes in regard of an advantageous manner of opening the mysteries of divine grace, and representing the infinite excellencies and “unsearchable riches of Christ,” as well as of recommending him to the acceptance of perishing sinners. I have frequently been enabled to represent the divine glory, the infinite preciousness and transcendent loveliness of the great Redeemer; the suitableness of his person and purchase to supply the wants, and answer the utmost desires, of immortal souls:--to open the infinite riches of his grace, and the wonderful encouragement proposed in the gospel to unworthy, helpless sinners:--to call, invite, and beseech them to come and give up themselves to him, and be reconciled to God through him:--to expostulate with them respecting their neglect of one so infinitely lovely, and freely offered:--and this in such a manner, with such freedom, pertinency, pathos, and application to the conscience, as, I am sure, I never could have made myself master of by the most assiduous application of mind. And frequently at such seasons I have been surprisingly helped in adapting my discourses to the capacities of my people, and bringing them down into such easy and familiar methods of expression, as has rendered them intelligible even to pagans.
I do not mention these things as a recommendation of my own performances; for I am sure I found, from time to time, that I had no skill or wisdom for my great work; and knew not how “to choose out acceptable words” proper to address poor benighted pagans with. But thus God was pleased to help me, “not to know any thing among them, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Thus I was enabled to show them their misery without him, and to represent his complete fitness to redeem and save them.
And this was the preaching God made use of for the awakening of sinners, and the propagation of this “work of grace among the Indians.”--And it was remarkable,
SECT. II. MORAL EFFECTS OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES. 417
from time to time, that when I was favoured with any special freedom, in discoursing of the “ability and willingness of Christ to save sinners,” and “the need they stood in of such a Saviour,” there was then the greatest appearance of divine power in awakening numbers of secure souls, promoting convictions begun, and comforting the distressed.
I have sometimes formerly, in reading the apostle’s discourse to Cornelius, (Acts x.) wondered to see him so quickly introduce the Lord Jesus Christ into his sermon, and so entirely dwell upon him through the whole of it, observing him in this point very widely to differ from many of our modern preachers: but latterly this has not seemed strange, since Christ has appeared to be the substance of the gospel, and the centre in which the several lines of divine revelation meet. Although I am still sensible there are many things necessary to be spoken to persons under pagan darkness, in order to make way for a proper introduction of the name of Christ, and his undertaking in behalf of fallen man.
Morality, sobriety, and external duties, promoted by preaching Christ crucified.
IT is worthy of remark, secondly, that numbers of these people are brought to a strict compliance with the rules of morality and sobriety, and to a conscientious performance of the external duties of Christianity, by the internal power and influence of divine truths--the peculiar doctrines of grace--upon their minds; without their having these moral duties frequently repeated and inculcated upon them, and the contrary vices particularly exposed and spoken against. What has been the general strain and drift of my preaching among these Indians; what were the truths I principally insisted upon, and how I was influenced and enabled to dwell from time to time upon the peculiar doctrines of grace; I have already observed in the preceding remarks. Those doctrines, which had the most direct tendency to humble the fallen creature, to show him the misery of his natural state, to bring him down to the foot of sovereign mercy, and to exalt the great Redeemer--discover his transcendent excellency and infinite preciousness, and so to recommend him to the sinner’s acceptance--were the subject-matter of what was delivered in public and private to them, and from time to time repeated and inculcated upon them.
And God was pleased to give these divine truths such a powerful influence upon the minds of these people, and so to bless them for the effectual awakening of numbers of them, that their lives were quickly reformed, without my insisting upon the precepts of morality, and spending time in repeated harangues upon external duties. There was indeed no room for any kind of discourses but those that respected the essentials of religion, and the experimental knowledge of divine things, whilst there were so many inquiring daily--not how they should regulate their external conduct, for that persons, who are honestly disposed to comply with duty, when known, may, in ordinary cases, be easily satisfied about, but--how they should escape from the wrath they feared, and felt a desert of,--obtain an effectual change of heart,--get an interest in Christ,--and come to the enjoyment of eternal blessedness? So that my great work still was to lead them into a further view of their utter undoneness in themselves, the total depravity and corruption of their hearts; that there was no manner of goodness in them; no good dispositions nor desires; no love to God, nor delight in his commands: but, on the contrary, hatred, enmity, and all manner of wickedness reigning in them:--and at the same time to open to them the glorious and complete remedy provided in Christ for helpless, perishing sinners, and offered freely to those who have no goodness of their own, no “works of righteousness which they have done,” to recommend them to God.
This was the continued strain of my preaching; this my great concern and constant endeavour, so to enlighten the mind, as thereby duly to affect the heart, and, as far as possible, give persons a sense and feeling of these precious and important doctrines of grace, at least, so far as means might conduce to it. And these were the doctrines,--this the method of preaching, which were blessed of God for the awakening, and, I trust, the saving conversion of numbers of souls,--and which were made the means of producing a remarkable reformation among the hearers in general.
When these truths were felt at heart, there was now no vice unreformed,--no external duty neglected.--Drunkenness, the darling vice, was broken off from, and scarce an instance of it known among my hearers for months together. The abusive practice of husbands and wives in putting away each other, and taking others in their stead, was quickly reformed; so that there are three or four couple who have voluntarily dismissed those they had wrongfully taken, and now live together again in love and peace. The same might be said of all other vicious practices.--The reformation was general; and all springing from the internal influence of divine truths upon their hearts; and not from any external restraints, or because they had heard these vice particularly exposed, and repeatedly spoken against. Some of them I never so much as mentioned; particularly, that of the parting of men and their wives, till some, having their conscience awakened by God’s word, came, and of their own accord confessed themselves guilty in that respect. And when I did at any time mention their wicked practices, and the sins they were guilty of contrary to the light of nature, it was not with design, nor indeed with any hope, of working an effectual reformation in their external manners by this means, for I knew, that while the tree remained corrupt, the fruit would naturally be so; but with design to lead them, by observing the wickedness of their lives, to a view of the corruption of their hearts, and so to convince them of the necessity of a renovation of nature, and to excite them with utmost diligence to seek after that great change, which, if once obtained, I was sensible, would of course produce a reformation of external manners in every respect.
And as all vice was reformed upon their feeling the power of these truth upon their hearts, so the external duties of Christianity were complied with, and conscientiously performed, from the same internal influence; family prayer set up, and constantly maintained, unless among some few more lately come, who had felt little of this divine influence. This duty was constantly performed, even in some families where there were none but females, and scarce a prayerless person to be found among near a hundred of them. The Lord’s day was seriously and religiously observed, and care taken by parents to keep their children orderly upon that sacred day, &c. And this, not because I had driven them to the performance of these duties by a frequent inculcating of them, but because they had felt the power of God’s word upon their hearts,--were made sensible of their sin and misery, and thence could not but pray, and comply with every thing they knew was duty, from what they felt within themselves. When their hearts were touched with a sense of their eternal concerns, they could pray with great freedom, as well as fervency, without being at the trouble first to learn set forms for that purpose. And some of them who were suddenly awakened at their first coming among us, were brought to pray and cry for mercy with utmost importunity, without ever being instructed in the duty of prayer, or so much as once directed to a performance of it.
The happy effects of these peculiar doctrines of grace, which I have so much insisted upon with this people, plainly discover, even to demonstration, that instead of their opening a door to licentiousness, as many vainly imagine, and slanderously insinuate, they have a direct contrary tendency: so that a close application, a sense and feeling of them, will have the most powerful influence toward the renovation, and effectual reformation, both of heart and life.
And happy experience, as well as the word of God, and the example of Christ and his apostles, has taught me, that the very method of preaching which is best suited to awaken in mankind a sense and lively apprehension of their depravity and misery in a fallen state,--to excite them earnestly to seek after a change of heart, and to
418 BRAINERD’S JOURNAL. APPEND. I.
fly for refuge to free and sovereign grace in Christ, as the only hope set before them, is like to be most successful toward the reformation of their external conduct.--I have found that close addresses, and solemn applications of divine truth to the conscience, tend directly to strike death to the root of all vice; while smooth and plausible harangues upon moral virtues and external duties, at best are like to do no more than lop off the branches of corruption, while the root of all vice remains still untouched.
A view of the blessed effect of honest endeavours to bring home divine truths to the conscience, and duly to affect the heart with them, has often minded me of those words of our Lord, (which I have thought might be a proper exhortation for ministers in respect of their treating with others, as well as for persons in general with regard to themselves,) “Cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside may be clean also.” Cleanse, says he, the inside, that the outside may be clean. As if he had said, The only effectual way to have the outside clean, is to begin with what is within; and if the fountain be purified, the streams will naturally be pure. And most certain it is, if we can awaken in sinners a lively sense of their inward pollution and depravity--their need of a change of heart--and so engage them to seek after inward cleansing, their external defilement will naturally be cleansed, their vicious ways of course be reformed, and their conversation and behaviour become regular.
Now, although I cannot pretend that the reformation among my people does, in every instance, spring from a saving change of heart; yet I may truly say, it flows from some heart-affecting view and sense of divine truths that all have had in a greater or less degree.--I do not intend, by what I have observed here, to represent the preaching of morality, and pressing persons to the external performance of duty, to be altogether unnecessary and useless at any time; and especially at times when there is less of divine power attending the means of grace;--when, for want of internal influences, there is need of external restraints. It is doubtless among the things that “ought to be done,” while “others are not to be left undone.”--But what I principally designed by this remark, was to discover plain matter of fact, viz. That the reformation, the sobriety, and external compliance with the rules and duties of Christianity, appearing among my people are not the effect of any mere doctrinal instruction, or merely rational view of the beauty of morality, but from the internal power and influence that divine truths (the soul-humbling doctrines of grace) have had upon their hearts.
Continuance, renewal, and quickness of the work.
IT is remarkable, thirdly, that God has so continued and renewed showers of his grace here:--so quickly set up his visible kingdom among these people; and so smiled upon them in relation to their acquirement of knowledge, both divine and human. It is now near a year since the beginning of this gracious outpouring of the divine Spirit among them: and although it has often seemed to decline and abate for some short space of time--as may be observed by several passages of my Journal, where I have endeavoured to note things just as they appeared to me--yet the shower has seemed to be renewed, and the work of grace revived again. So that a divine influence seems still apparently to attend the means of grace, in a greater or less degree, in most of our meetings for religious exercises: whereby religious persons are refreshed, strengthened, and established,--convictions revived and promoted in many instances,--and some few persons newly awakened from time to time. Although it must be acknowledged, that for some time past, there has, in the general, appeared a more manifest decline of this work, and the divine Spirit has seemed, in a considerable measure, withdrawn, especially in regard of his awakening influence--so that the strangers who come latterly, are not seized with concern as formerly; and some few, who have been much affected with divine truths in time past, now appear less concerned.--Yet, blessed be God, there is still an appearance of divine power and grace, a desirable degree of tenderness, religious affection, and devotion in our assemblies.
And as God has continued and renewed the showers of his grace among this people for some time; so he has with uncommon quickness set up his visible kingdom, and gathered himself a church in the midst of them. I have now baptized, since the conclusion of my last Journal, (or the First Part,) thirty persons, fifteen adults and fifteen children. Which added to the number there mentioned, makes seventy-seven persons; whereof thirty-eight are adults, and thirty-nine children; and all within the space of eleven months past.--And it must be noted, that I have baptized no adults, but such as appeared to have a work of special grace wrought in their hearts; I mean such who have had the experience not only of the awakening and humbling, but, in a judgment of charity, of the renewing and comforting, influences of the divine Spirit. There are many others under solemn concern for their souls, who (I apprehend) are persons of sufficient knowledge, and visible seriousness, at present, to render them proper subjects of the ordinance of baptism. Yet, since they give no comfortable evidences of having as yet passed a saving change, but only appear under convictions of their sin and misery, and having no principle of spiritual life wrought in them, they are liable to lose the impressions of religion they are now under. Considering also, the great propensity there is in this people naturally to abuse themselves with strong drink, and fearing lest some, who at present appear serious and concerned for their souls, might lose their concern, and return to this sin, and so, if baptized, prove a scandal to their profession, I have therefore thought proper hitherto to omit the baptism of any but such who give some hopeful evidences of a saving change, although I do not pretend to determine positively respecting the states of any.
I likewise administered the Lord’s supper to a number of persons, who I have abundant reason to think (as I elsewhere observed) were proper subjects of that ordinance, within the space of ten months and ten days after my first coming among these Indians in New Jersey. And from the time that, I am informed, some of them were attending an idolatrous feast and sacrifice in honour to devils, to the time they sat down at the Lord’s table, (I trust,) to the honour of God, was not more than a full year. Surely Christ’s little flock here, so suddenly gathered from among pagans, may justly say, in the language of the church of old, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
Much of the goodness of God has also appeared in relation to their acquirement of knowledge, both in religion and in the affairs of common life. There has been a wonderful thirst after christian knowledge prevailing among them in general, and an eager desire of being instructed in christian doctrines and manners. This has prompted them to ask many pertinent as well as important questions; the answers to which have tended much to enlighten their minds, and promote their knowledge in divine things. Many of the doctrines I have delivered, they have queried with me about, in order to gain further light and insight into them; particularly the doctrine of predestination: and have from time to time manifested a good understanding of them, by their answers to the questions proposed to them in my catechetical lectures.
They have likewise queried with me, respecting a proper method as well as proper matter of prayer, and expressions suitable to be used in that religious exercise; and have taken pains in order to the performance of this duty with understanding.--They have likewise taken pains, and appeared remarkably apt, in learning to sing psalm tunes, and are now able to sing with a good degree of decency in the worship of God.--They have also acquired a considerable degree of useful knowledge in the affairs of common life: so that they now appear like rational creatures, fit for human society, free of that savage roughness and brutish stupidity, which rendered them very disagreeable in their pagan state.
They seem ambitious of a thorough acquaintance with the English language, and for that end frequently speak it among themselves; and many of them have made good
SECT IV. CONTINUANCE, &c. OF THE WORK. 419
proficiency in their acquirement of it, since my coming among them; so that most of them can understand a considerable part, and some the substance of my discourses, without an interpreter, (being used to my low and vulgar methods of expression,) though they could not well understand other ministers.
And as they are desirous of instruction, and surprisingly apt in the reception of it, so Divine Providence has smiled upon them in regard of proper means in order to it.--The attempts made for the procurement of a school among them have been succeeded, and a kind Providence has sent them a schoolmaster of whom I may justly say, I know of “no man like minded, who will naturally care for their state.”--He has generally thirty or thirty-five children in his school: and when he kept an evening school (as he did while the length of the evenings would admit of it) he had fifteen or twenty people, married and single.
The children learn with surprising readiness; so that their master tells me, he never had an English school that learned, in general, comparably so fast. There were not above two in thirty, although some of them were very small, but what learned to know all the letters in the alphabet distinctly, within three days after his entrance upon his business; and divers in that space of time learned to spell considerably: and some of them, since the beginning of February last,* (at which time the school was set up,) have learned so much, that they are able to read in a Psalter or Testament, without spelling.
They are instructed twice a week in the Reverend Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, viz. on Wednesday and Saturday. Some of them, since the latter end of February, (at which time they began,) have learned to say it pretty distinctly by heart considerably more than half through; and most of them have made some proficiency in it.
They are likewise instructed in the duty of secret prayer, and most of them constantly attend it night and morning, and are very careful to inform their master if they apprehend any of their little school-mates neglect that religious exercise.
But little appearance of false religion.
IT is worthy to be noted, fourthly, to the praise of sovereign grace, that amidst so great a work of conviction--so much concern and religious affection--there has been no prevalency, nor indeed any considerable appearance of false religion, if I may term it, or heats of imagination, intemperate zeal, and spiritual pride; which corrupt mixtures to often attend the revival and powerful propagation of religion; and that there have been so very few instances of irregular and scandalous behaviour among those who have appeared serious. I may justly repeat what I observed in a remark at the conclusion of my last Journal,† viz. That there has been no appearance of “bodily agonies, convulsions, frightful screaming, swoonings,” and the like: and may now further add, that there has been no prevalency of visions, trances, and imaginations of any kind; although there has been some appearance of something of that nature since the conclusion of that Journal. An instance of which I have given an account of in my Journal of December 26.
But this work of grace has, in the main, been carried on with a surprising degree of purity, and freedom from trash and corrupt mixture. The religious concern that persons have been under, has generally been rational and just; arising from a sense of their sins, and exposedness to the divine displeasure on the account of them; as well as their utter inability to deliver themselves from the misery they felt and feared. And if there has been, in any instances, an appearance of irrational concern and perturbation of mind, when the subjects of it knew not why, yet there has been no prevalency of any such thing; and indeed I scarce know of any instance of that nature at all.--And it is very remarkable, that although the concern of many persons under convictions of their perishing state has been very great and pressing, yet I have never seen any thing like desperation attending it in any one instance. They have had the most lively sense of their undoneness in themselves; have been brought to give up all hopes of deliverance from themselves; and their spiritual exercises leading hereto, have been attended with great distress and anguish of soul: and yet in the seasons of the greatest extremity, there has been no appearance of despair in any of them,--nothing that has discouraged, or in any wise hindered, them from the most diligent use of all proper means for their conversion and salvation; whence it is apparent there is not that danger of persons being driven into despair under spiritual trouble, (unless in cases of deep and habitual melancholy,) that the world in general is ready to imagine.
The comfort that persons have obtained after their distresses, has likewise in general appeared solid, well grounded, and scriptural; arising from a spiritual and supernatural illumination of mind,--a view of divine things in a measure as they are,--a complacency of soul in the divine perfections,--and a peculiar satisfaction in the way of salvation by free sovereign grace in the great Redeemer.
Their joys have seemed to rise from a variety of views and considerations of divine things, although for substance the same. Some, who under conviction seemed to have the hardest struggles and heart-risings against divine sovereignty, have seemed, at the first dawn of their comfort, to rejoice in a peculiar manner in that divine perfection,--have been delighted to think that themselves, and all things else, were in the hand of God, and that he would dispose of them “just as he pleased.”
Others, who just before their reception of comfort, have been remarkably oppressed with a sense of their undoneness and poverty, who have seen themselves, as it were, falling down into remediless perdition, have been at first more peculiarly delighted with a view of the freeness and riches of divine grace, and the offer of salvation made to perishing sinners “without money, and without price.”
Some have at first appeared to rejoice especially in the wisdom of God, discovered in the way of salvation by Christ; it then appearing to them “a new and living way,” a way they had never thought, nor had any just conception of, until opened to them by the special influence of the divine Spirit. And some of them, upon a lively spiritual view of this way of salvation, have wondered at their past folly in seeking salvation other ways, and have admired that they never saw this way of salvation before, which now appeared so plain and easy, as well as excellent to them.
Others again have had a more general view of the beauty and excellency of Christ, and have had their souls delighted with an apprehension of his divine glory, as unspeakably exceeding all they had ever conceived of before; yet without singling out any one of the divine perfections in particular; so that although their comforts have seemed to arise from a variety of views and considerations of divine glories, still they were spiritual and supernatural views of them, and not groundless fancies, that were the spring of their joys and comforts.
Yet it must be acknowledged, that when this work became so universal and prevalent, and gained such general credit and esteem among the Indians, that Satan seemed to have little advantage of working against it in his own proper garb; he then transformed himself “into an angel of light,” and made some vigorous attempts to introduce turbulent commotions of the passions in the room of genuine convictions of sin; imaginary and fanciful notions of Christ, as appearing to the mental eye in a human shape, and being in some particular postures, &c. in the room of spiritual and supernatural discoveries of his divine glory and excellency; as well as divers other delusions. And I have reason to think, that if these things had met with countenance and encouragement, there would have been a very considerable harvest of this kind of converts here.
Spiritual pride also discovered itself in various instances. Some persons who had been under great affections, seemed very desirous from thence of being thought truly gracious; who when I could not but express to them my
* In less than five mouths, viz. from Feb. 1, to June 19.
† That is, the First Part of the Journal.
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fears respecting their spiritual states, discovered their resentments to a considerable degree upon that occasion. There also appeared in one or two of them an unbecoming ambition of being teachers of others. So that Satan has been a busy adversary here, as well as elsewhere. But blessed be God, though something of this nature has appeared, yet nothing of it has prevailed, nor indeed made any considerable progress at all. My people are now apprised of these things, are made acquainted that Satan in such a manner “transformed himself into an angel of light,” in the first season of the great outpouring of the divine Spirit in the days of the apostles; and that something of this nature, in a greater or less degree, has attended almost every revival and remarkable propagation of true religion ever since. And they have learned so to distinguish between the gold and dross, that the credit of the latter “is trodden down like the mire of the streets:” and it being natural for this kind of stuff to die with its credit, there is now scarce any appearance of it among them.
And as there has been no prevalency of irregular heats, imaginary notions, spiritual pride, and satanical delusions among my people; so there has been very few instances of scandalous and irregular behaviour among those who have made a profession or even an appearance of seriousness. I do not know of more than three or four such persons that have been guilty of any open misconduct since their first acquaintance with Christianity, and not one that persists in any thing of that nature. And perhaps the remarkable purity of this work in the latter respect, its freedom from frequent instances of scandal, is very much owing to its purity in the former respect, its freedom from corrupt mixtures of spiritual pride, wild-fire, and delusion, which naturally lay a foundation for scandalous practices.
“May this blessed work in the power and purity of it prevail among the poor Indians here, as well as spread elsewhere, till their remotest tribes shall see the salvation of God! Amen.”*
MR. BRAINERD’S JOURNAL:
CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF HIS
METHOD OF LEARNING THE INDIAN LANGUAGE, AND OF INSTRUCTING THE INDIANS;
WITH THE DIFFICULTIES WHICH LIE IN THE WAY OF THEIR CONVERSION.
I SHOULD have concluded what I had at present to offer, upon the affairs respecting my mission, with the preceding account of the money collected and expended for the religious interests of the Indians, but that I have not long since received from the reverend president of the correspondents, the copy of a letter directed to him from the Honourable Society for propagating Christian Knowledge, dated at Edinburgh, March 21, 1745. Wherein I find it is expressly enjoined upon their missionaries, “That they give an exact account of the methods they make use of for instructing themselves in the Indians’ language, and what progress they have already made in it. What methods they are now taking to instruct the Indians in the principles of our holy religion. And particularly that they set forth in their Journals what difficulties they have already met with, and the methods they make use of for surmounting the same.”
As to the two former of these particulars, I trust that what I have already noted in my Journals from time to time, might have been in a good measure satisfactory to the Honourable Society, had these Journals arrived safely
* Money collected and expended for the Indians.--As mention has been made in the preceding Journal, of an English school erected and continued among these Indians, dependent entirely upon charity; and as collections have already been made in divers places for the support of it, as well as for defraying other charges that have necessarily arisen in the promotion of the religious interests of the Indians, it may be satisfactory, and perhaps will be thought by some but a piece of justice to the world, that an exact account be here given of the money already received by way of collection for the benefit of the Indians, and the manner in which it has been expended.
The following is therefore a just account of this matter:--
Money received since October last, by way of public collection, for promoting the religious interests of the Indians in New Jersey, viz.
£ s. d.
From New York . . . . 23 10 2
Jamaica on Long Island . . . 3 0 0
Elizabeth-town . . . . 7 5 0
Elizabeth-town farms . . . . 1 18 9
Newark . . . . . 4 5 7
Woodbridge . . . . . 2 18 2
Morris-town . . . . . . 1 5 3
Freehold . . . . . 12 11 0
Freehold Dutch congregation . . 4 14 3
Shrewsbury and Shark river . . 3 5 0
Middle-town Dutch congregation . . 2 0 0
Carried forward . . . £66 13 2
£ s. d.
Brought forward . . . £66 13 2
The Dutch congregation in and about New
Brunswick . . . 3 5 0
King’s-town . . . 5 11 0
Neshaminy, and places adjacent in Pennsylvania 14 5 10
Abington and New Providence, by the hand of
the Reverend Mr. Treat . . . 10 5 0
The whole amounting to . . £100 0 0
Money paid out since October last for promoting the religious interests of the Indians in New Jersey, viz.
Upon the occasion mentioned in my Journal
of January 28 . . . 82 5 0
For the building a School-house . . 3 5 0
To the schoolmaster as a part of his reward
for his present year’s service . 17 10 0
For books for the children to learn in 3 0 0
The whole amounting to . . £106 0 0
SECT. I. METHOD OF LEARNING THE INDIAN LANGUAGE. 121
and seasonably, which I am sensible they have not in general done, by reason of their falling into the hands of the enemy, although I have been at the pains of sending two copies of every Journal, for more than two years past, lest one might miscarry in the passage. But with relation to the latter of these particulars, I have purposely omitted saying any thing considerable, and that for these two reasons. First, because I could not oftentimes give any tolerable account of the difficulties I met with in my work, without speaking somewhat particularly of the causes of them, and the circumstances conducing to them, which would necessarily have rendered my Journals very tedious. Besides, some of the causes of my difficulties I thought more fit to be concealed than divulged. And, secondly, because I thought a frequent mentioning of the difficulties attending my work, might appear as an unbecoming complaint under my burden; or as if I would rather be thought to be endowed with a singular measure of self-denial, constancy, and holy resolution, to meet and confront so many difficulties, and yet to hold on and go forward amidst them all. But since the Honourable Society are pleased to require a more exact and particular account of these thing, I shall cheerfully endeavour something for their satisfaction in relation to each of these particulars: although in regard of the latter I am ready to say, Infandum--jubes renovare dolorem.
Method of learning the Indian language.
THE most successful method I have taken for instructing myself in any of the Indian languages, is, to translate English discourses by the help of an interpreter or two, into their language as near verbatim as the sense will admit of, and to observe strictly how they use words, and what construction they will bear in various cases; and thus to gain some acquaintance with the root from whence particular words proceed, and to see how they are thence varied and diversified. But here occurs a very great difficulty; for the interpreters being unlearned, and unacquainted with the rules of language, it is impossible sometimes to know by them what part of speech some particular word is of, whether noun, verb, or participle; for they seem to use participles sometimes where we should use nouns, and sometimes where we should use verbs in the English language.
But I have, notwithstanding many difficulties, gained some acquaintance with the grounds of the Delaware language, and have learned most of the defects in it; so that I know what English words can, and what cannot, be translated into it. I have also gained some acquaintance with the particular phraseologies, as well as peculiarities of their language, one of which I cannot but mention. Their language does not admit of their speaking any word denoting relation, such as, father, son, &c. absolutely; that is, without prefixing a pronoun-passive to it, such as my, thy, his, &c. Hence they cannot be baptized in their own language in the name of the Father, and the Son, &c.; but they may be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and his Father, &c. I have gained so much knowledge of their language, that I can understand a considerable part of what they say, when they discourse upon divine things, and am frequently able to correct my interpreter, if he mistakes my sense. But I can do nothing to any purpose at speaking the language myself.
And as an apology for this defect, I must renew, or rather enlarge, my former complaint, viz. That “while so much of my time is necessarily consumed in journeying,” while I am obliged to ride four thousand miles a year, (as I have done in the year past,) “I can have little left for any of my necessary studies, and consequently for the study of the Indian languages.” And this, I may venture to say, is the great, if not the only, reason why the Delaware language is not familiar to me before this time. And it is impossible I should ever be able to speak it without close application, which, at present, I see no prospect of having time for. To preach and catechise frequently; to converse privately with persons that need so much instruction and direction as these poor Indians do; to take care of all their secular affairs, as if they were a company of children; to ride abroad frequently in order to procure collections for the support of the school, and for their help and benefit in other respects; to hear and decide all the petty differences that arise among any of them; and to have the constant oversight and management of all their affairs of every kind, must needs engross most of my time, and leave me little for application to the study of the Indian languages. And when I add to this, the time that is necessarily consumed upon in my Journals, I must say I have little to spare for other business. I have not (as was observed before) sent to the Honourable Society less than two copies of every Journal, for more than two years past; most of which, I suppose, have been taken by the French in their passage. And a third copy I have constantly kept by me, lest the others should miscarry. This has caused me not a little labour, and so straitened me for time, when I have been at liberty from other business, and had opportunity to sit down to write, which is but rare, that I have been obliged to write twelve and thirteen hours in a day; till my spirits have been extremely wasted, and my life almost spent, to get these writings accomplished. And after all; after diligent application to the various parts of my work, and after the most industrious improvement of time I am capable of, both early and late, I cannot oftentimes possibly gain two hours in a week for reading or any other studies, unless just for what appears of absolute necessity for the present. And frequently when I attempt to redeem time, by sparing it out of my sleeping hours, I am by that means thrown under bodily indisposition, and rendered fit for nothing.--This is truly my present state, and is like to be so, for aught I can see, unless I could procure an assistant in my work, or quit my present business.
But although I have not made that proficiency I could wish to have done, in learning the Indian languages; yet I have used all endeavours to instruct them in English tongue, which perhaps will be more advantageous to the christian interest among them, than if I should preach in their own language; for that is very defective, (as I shall hereafter observe,) so that many things cannot be communicated to them without introducing English terms. Besides, they can have no books translated into their language, without great difficulty and expense; and if still accustomed to their own language only, they would have no advantage of hearing other ministers occasionally, or in my absence. So that my having a perfect acquaintance with the Indian language would be of no great importance with regard to this congregation of Indians in New Jersey, although it might be of great service to me in treating with the Indians elsewhere.
Method of instructing the Indians.
THE method I am taking to instruct the Indians in the principles of our holy religion, are, to preach, or open and improve some particular points of doctrine; to expound particular paragraphs, or sometimes whole chapters, of God’s word to them; to give historical relations from Scripture of the most material and remarkable occurrences relating to the church of God from the beginning; and frequency to catechise them upon the principles of Christianity. The latter of these methods of instructing I manage in a twofold manner. I sometimes catechise systematically, proposing questions agreeable to the Reverend Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. This I have carried to a considerable length. At other times I catechise upon any important subject that I think difficult to them. Sometimes when I have discoursed upon some particular point, and made it as plain and familiar to them as I can, I then catechise them upon the most material branches of my discourse, to see whether they had a thorough understanding of it. But as I have catechised chiefly in a systematical form, I shall here give some specimen of the method I make use of in it, as well as of the propriety and justness of my people’s answers to the questions proposed to them.
422 BRAINERD’S JOURNAL. APPEND. II.
Questions upon the benefits believers receive from Christ at death.
Q. I have shown you, that the children of God receive a great many good things from Christ while they live, now have they any more to receive when they come to die?--A. Yes.
Q. Are the children of God then made perfectly free from sin?--Yes.
Q. Do you think they will never more be troubled with vain, foolish, and wicked thoughts?--A. No, never at all.
Q. Will not they then be like the good angels I have so often told you of?--A. Yes.
Q. And do you call this a great mercy to be freed from all sin?--A. Yes.
Q. Do all God’s children count it so?--A. Yes, all of them.
Q. Do you think this is what they would ask for above all things, if God should say to them, Ask what you will, and it shall be done for you?--A. O yes, be sure, this is what they want.
Q. You say the souls of God’s people at death are made perfectly free from sin, where do they go then?--A. They go and live with Jesus Christ.
Q. Does Christ show them more respect and honour, and make them more happy* than we can possibly think of in this world?-A. Yes.
Q. Do they go immediately to live with Christ in heaven, as soon as their bodies are dead? or do they tarry somewhere else a while?--A. They go immediately to Christ.
Q. Does Christ take any care of the bodies of his people when they are dead, and their souls gone to heaven, or does he forget them?--A. He takes care of them.
These questions were all answered with surprising readiness, and without once missing, as I remember. And in answering several of them which respected deliverance from sin, they were much affected, and melted with the hopes of that happy state.
Questions upon the benefits believers receive from Christ at the resurrection.
Q. You see I have already shown you what good things Christ gives his good people while they live, and when they come to die; now, will he raise their bodies, and the bodies of others, to life again at the last day?--A. Yes, they shall all be raised.
Q. Shall they then have the same bodies they now have?-A. Yes.
Q. Will their bodies then be weak, will they feel cold, hunger, thirst, and weariness, as they now do?--A. No, none of these things.
Q. Will their bodies ever die any more after they are raised to life?--A. No.
Q. Will their souls and bodies be joined together again?--A. Yes.
Q. Will God’s people be more happy then, than they were while their bodies were asleep?--A. Yes.
Q. Will Christ then own these to be his people before all the world?--A. Yes.
Q. But God’s people find so much sin in themselves, that they are often ashamed of themselves, and will not Christ be ashamed to own such for his friends at that day?--A. No, he never will be ashamed of them.
Q. Will Christ then show all the world, that he has put away these people’s sins,† and that he looks upon them as if they had never sinned at all?--A. Yes.
Q. Will he look upon them as if they had never sinned, for the sake of any good things they have done themselves, or for the sake of his righteousness accounted to them as if it was theirs?--A. For the sake of his righteousness counted to them, not for their own goodness.
Q. Will God’s children then be as happy as they can desire to be?--Yes.
Q. The children of God while in this world, can but now and then draw near to him, and they are ready to think they can never have enough of God and Christ, but will they have enough there, as much as they can desire?--A. O yes, enough, enough.
Q. Will the children of God love him then as much as they desire, will they find nothing to hinder their love from going to him?--A. Nothing at all, they shall love him as much as they desire.
Q. Will they never be weary of God and Christ, and the pleasures of heaven, so as we are weary of our friends and enjoyments here, after we have been pleased with them awhile?--A. No, never.
Q. Could God’s people be happy if they knew God loved them, and yet felt at the same time that they could not love and honour him?--A. No, no.
Q. Will this then make God’s people perfectly happy, to love God above all, to honour him continually, and to feel his love to them?--A. Yes.
Q. And will this happiness last for ever?--A. Yes, for ever, for ever.
These questions, like the former, were answered without hesitation or missing, as I remember, in any one instance.
Questions upon the duty which God requires of men.
Q. Has God let us know any thing of his will, or what he would have us to do to please him?--A. Yes.
Q. And does he require us to do his will, and to please him?--A. Yes.
Q. Is it right that God should require this of us, has he any business to command us as a father does his children?--A. Yes.
Q. Why is it right that God should command us to do what he pleases?--A. Because he made us, and gives us all our good things.
Q. Does God require us to do any thing that will hurt us, and take away our comfort and happiness?--A. No.
Q. But God requires sinners to repent and be sorry for their sins, and to have their hearts broken; now, does not this hurt them, and take away their comfort, to be made sorry, and to have their hearts broken?--A. No, it does them good.
Q. Did God teach man his will at first by writing it down in a book, or did he put it into his heart, and teach him without a book what was right?--A. He put it into his heart, and made him know what he should do.
Q. Has God since that time writ down his will in a book?--A. Yes.
Q. Has God written his whole will in his book; has he there told us all that he would have us believe and do?--A. Yes.
Q. What need was there of this book, if God at first put his will into the heart of man, and made him feel what he should do?--A. There was need of it, because we have sinned, and made our hearts blind.
Q. And has God writ down the same things in his book, that he at first put into the heart of man?--A. Yes.
In this manner I endeavour to adapt my instructions to the capacities of my people; although they may perhaps seem strange to others who have never experienced the difficulty of the work. And these I have given an account of, are the methods I am from time to time pursuing, in order to instruct them in the principles of Christianity. And I think I may say, it is my great concern that these instructions be given them in such a manner, that they may not only be doctrinally taught, but duly affected thereby, that divine truths may come to them, “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost,” and be received “not as the word of man.”
* The only way I have to express their “entering into glory,” or being glorified; there being no word in the Indian language answering to that general term.
† The only way I have to express their being openly-acquitted. In like manner, when I speak of justification, I have no other way but to call it God’s looking upon us as good creatures.
SECT. III AVERSION OF THE INDIANS TO CHRISTIANITY. 423
Difficulties attending the christianizing of the Indians--First difficulty, the rooted aversion to Christianity that generally prevails among them.
I SHALL now attempt something with relation to the last particular required by the Honourable Society in their letter, viz. To give some account of the “difficulties I have already met with in my work, and the methods I make use of for surmounting the same.” And, in the first instance, first, I have met with great difficulty in my work among these Indians, “from the rooted aversion to Christianity that generally prevails among them.” They are not only brutishly stupid and ignorant of divine things, but many of them are obstinately set against Christianity, and seem to abhor even the christian name.
This aversion to Christianity arises partly from a view of the “immorality and vicious behaviour of many who are called Christians.” They observe that horrid wickedness in nominal Christians, which the light of nature condemns in themselves: and not having distinguishing views of things, are ready to look upon all the white people alike, and to condemn them alike, for the abominable practices of some.--Hence when I have attempted to treat with them about Christianity, they have frequently objected the scandalous practices of Christians. They have observed to me, that the white people lie, defraud, steal, and drink worse than the Indians; that they have taught the Indians these things, especially the latter of them; who before the coming of the English, knew of no such thing as strong drink: that the English have, by these means, made them quarrel and kill one another; and, in a word, brought them to the practice of all those vices that now prevail among them. So that they are now vastly more vicious, as well as much more miserable, than they were before the coming of the white people into the country.--These, and such like objections, they frequently make against Christianity, which are not easily answered to their satisfaction; many of them being facts too notoriously true.
The only way I have to take in order to surmount this difficulty, is to distinguish between nominal and real Christians; and to show them, that the ill conduct of many of the former proceeds not from their being Christians, but from their being Christians only in name, not in heart, &c. To which it has sometimes been objected, that if all those who will cheat the Indians are Christians only in name, there are but few left in the country to be Christians in heart. This, and many other of the remarks they pass upon the white people, and their miscarriages, I am forced to own, and cannot but grant, that many nominal Christians are more abominably wicked than the Indians. But then I attempt to show them, that there are some who feel the power of Christianity, and that these are not so. I ask them, when they ever saw me guilty of the vices they complain of, and charge Christians in general with? But still the great difficulty is, that the people who live back in the country nearest to them, and the traders that go among them, are generally of the most irreligious and vicious sort; and the conduct of one or two persons, be it never so exemplary, is not sufficient to counterbalance the vicious behaviour of so many of the same denomination, and so to recommend Christianity to pagans.
Another thing that serves to make them more averse to Christianity, is a “fear of being enslaved.” They are, perhaps, some of the most jealous people living, and extremely averse to a state of servitude, and hence are always afraid of some design forming against them. Besides, they seem to have no sentiments of generosity, benevolence, and goodness; that if any thing be proposed to them, as being for their good, they am ready rather to suspect, that there is at bottom some design forming against them, than that such proposals flow from good-will to them, and a desire of their welfare. And hence, when I have attempted to recommend Christianity to their acceptance, they have sometimes objected, that the white people have come among them, have cheated them out of their lands, driven them back to the mountains, from the pleasant places they used to enjoy by the sea-side &c.; that therefore they have no reason to think the white people are now seeking their welfare; but rather that they have sent me out to draw them together, under a pretence of kindness to them, that they may have an opportunity to make slaves of them, as they do of the poor negroes, or else to ship them on board their vessels, and make them fight with their enemies, &c. Thus they have oftentimes construed all the kindness I could show them, and the hardships I have endured in order to treat with them about Christianity. “He never would (say they) take all this pains to do us good, he must have some wicked design to hurt us some way or other.” And to give them assurance of the contrary, is not an easy matter, while there are so many who (agreeable to their apprehension) are only “seeking their own,” not the good of others.
To remove this difficulty I inform them, that I am not sent out among them by those persons in these provinces, who they suppose have cheated them out of their lands; but by pious people at a great distance, who never had an inch of their lands, nor ever thought of doing them any hurt, &c.
But here will arise so many frivolous and impertinent questions, that it would tire one’s patience, and wear out one’s spirits to hear them; such as, “But why did not these good people send you to teach us before, while we had our lands own by the sea-side, &c. If they had sent you then, we should likely have heard you, and turned Christians.” The poor creatures still imagining, that I should be much beholden to them, in case they would hearken to Christianity; and insinuating, that this was a favour they could not now be so good as to show me, seeing they had received so many injuries from the white people.
Another spring of aversion to Christianity in the Indians, is, “their strong attachment to their own religious notions, (if they may be called religious,) and the early prejudices they have imbibed in favour of their own frantic and ridiculous kind of worship.” What their notions of God are, in their pagan state, is hard precisely to determine. I have taken much pains to inquire of my christian people, whether they, before their acquaintance with Christianity, imagined there was a plurality of great invisible powers, or whether they supposed but one such being, and worshipped him in a variety of forms and shapes: but cannot learn any thing of them so distinct as to be fully satisfying upon the point. Their notions in that state were so prodigiously dark and confused, that they seemed not to know what they thought themselves. But so far as I can learn, they had a notion of a plurality of invisible deities, and paid some kind of homage to them promiscuously, under a great variety of forms and shapes. And it is certain, that those who yet remain pagans pay some kind of superstitious reverence to beasts, birds, fishes, and even reptiles; that is, some to one kind of animal, and some to another. They do not indeed suppose a divine power essential to, or inhering in, these creatures, but that some invisible beings--I cannot learn that it is always one such being only, but divers; not distinguished from each other by certain names, but only notionally--communicate to those animals a great power (either one or other of them, just as it happens, or perhaps sometimes all of them,) and so make these creatures the immediate authors of good to certain persons. Whence such a creature becomes sacred to the persons to whom he is supposed to be the immediate author of good, and through him they must worship the invisible powers, though to others he is no more than another creature. And perhaps another animal is looked upon to be the immediate author of good to another, and consequently he must worship the invisible powers in that animal. And I have known a pagan burn fine tobacco for incense, in order to appease the anger of that invisible power which he supposed presided over rattle-snakes, because one of these animals was killed by an other Indian near his house.
But after the strictest inquiry respecting their notions of the Deity, I find, that in ancient times, before the coming of the white people, some supposed there were four invisible powers, who presided over the four corners of the earth. Others imagined the sun to be the only deity, and that all things were made by him. Others, at the same
424 BRAINERD’S JOURNAL. APPEND. II.
time, have a confused notion of a certain body or fountain of deity, somewhat like the anima mundi, so frequently mentioned by the more learned ancient heathens, diffusing itself to various animals, and even to inanimate things, making them the immediate authors of good to certain persons, as before observed, with respect to various supposed deities. But after the coming of the white people, they seemed to suppose there were three deities, and three only, because they saw people of three different kinds of complexion, viz. English, Negroes, and themselves.
It is a notion pretty generally prevailing among them, that it was not the same God made them, who made us; but that they were made after the white people: which further shows, that they imagine a plurality of divine powers. And I fancy they suppose their god gained some special skill by seeing the white people made, and so made them better: for it is certain they look upon themselves, and their methods of living, (which, they say, their god expressly prescribed for them,) vastly preferable to the white people, and their methods. And hence will frequently sit and laugh at them, as being good for nothing else but to plough and fatigue themselves with hard labour; while they enjoy the satisfaction of stretching themselves on the ground, and sleeping as much as they please; and have no other trouble but now and then to chase the deer, which is often attended with pleasure rather than pain. Hence, by the way, many of them look upon it as disgraceful for them to become Christians, as it would be esteemed among Christians for any to become pagans. And now although they suppose our religion will do well enough for us, because prescribed by our God, yet it is no ways proper for them, because not of the same make and original. This they have sometimes offered as a reason why they did not incline to hearken to Christianity.
They seem to have some confused notion about a future state of existence, and many of them imagine that the chichung, (i.e. the shadow,) or what survives the body, will at death go southward, and in an unknown but curious place, will enjoy some kind of happiness, such as, hunting, feasting, dancing, and the like. And what they suppose will contribute much to their happiness in that state, is that they shall never be weary of those entertainments. It seems by this notion of their going southward to obtain happiness, as if they had their course into these parts of the world from some very cold climate, and found the further they went southward the more comfortable they were; and thence concluded, that perfect felicity was to be found further towards the same point.
They seem to have some faint and glimmering notion about rewards and punishments, or at least happiness and misery, in a future state, that is, some that I have conversed with, though others seem to know of no such thing. Those that suppose this, seem to imagine that most will be happy, and that those who are not so, will be punished only with privation, being only excluded the walls of that good world where happy souls shall dwell.
These rewards and punishments they suppose to depend entirely upon their conduct with relation to the duties of the second table, i.e. their behaviour towards mankind, and seem, so far as I can see, not to imagine that they have any reference to their religious notions or practices, or any thing that relates to the worship of God. I remember I once consulted a very ancient but intelligent Indian upon this point, for my own satisfaction; and asked him whether the Indians of old times had supposed there was any thing of the man that would survive the body? He replied, Yes. I asked him, where they supposed its abode would be? He replied, “It would go southward.” I asked him further, whether it would be happy there? He answered, after a considerable pause, “that the souls of good folks would be happy, and the souls of bad folks miserable.” I then asked him, who he called bad folks? His answer (as I remember) was, “Those who lie, steal, quarrel with their neighbours, are unkind to their friends, and especially to aged parents, and, in a word, such as are a plague to mankind.” These were his bad folks; but not a word was said about their neglect of divine worship, and their badness in that respect.
They have indeed some kind of religious worship, are frequently offering sacrifices to some supposed invisible powers, and are very ready to impute their calamities in the present world, to the neglect of these sacrifices; but there is no appearance of reverence and devotion in the homage they pay them; and what they do of this nature, seems to be one only to appease the supposed anger of their deities, to engage them to be placable to themselves, and do them no hurt, or at most, only to invite these powers to succeed them in those enterprises they are engaged in respecting the present life. So that in offering these sacrifices, they seem to have no reference to a future state, but only to present comfort. And this is the account my interpreter always gives me of this matter. “They sacrifice (says he) that they may have success in hunting and other affairs, and that sickness and other calamities may not befall them, which they fear in the present world, in case of neglect; but they do not suppose God will ever punish them in the coming world for neglecting to sacrifice,” &c. And indeed they seem to imagine, that those whom they call bad folks, are excluded from the company of good people in that state, not so much because God remembers, and is determined to punish them for their sins of any kind, either immediately against himself or their neighbour, as because they would be a plague to society, and would render others unhappy if admitted to dwell with them. So that they are excluded rather of necessity, than by God acting as a righteous judge.
They give much heed to dreams, because they suppose these invisible powers give them directions at such times about certain affairs, and sometimes inform them what animal they would choose to be worshipped in. They are likewise much attached to the traditions and fabulous notions of their fathers, who have informed them of divers miracles that were anciently wrought among the Indians, which they firmly believe, and thence look upon their ancestors to have been the best of men. They also mention some wonderful things which, they say, have happened since the memory of some who are now living. One I remember affirmed to me, that himself had once been dead four days, that most of his friends in that time were gathered together to his funeral, and that he should have been buried, but that some of his relations at a great distance, who were sent for upon that occasion, were not arrived, before whose coming he came to life again. In this time, he says, he went to the place where the sun rises, (imagining the earth to be plain,) and directly over that place, at a great height in the air, he was admitted, he says, into a great house, which he supposes was several miles in length, and saw many wonderful things, too tedious as well as ridiculous to mention. Another person, a woman, whom I have not seen, but been credibly informed of by the Indians, declares, that she was dead several days, that her soul went southward, and feasted and danced with the happy spirits, and that she found all things exactly agreeable to the Indian notions of a future state.
These superstitious notions and traditions, and this kind of ridiculous worship I have mentioned, they are extremely attached to, and the prejudice they have imbibed in favour of these things, renders them not a little averse to the doctrines of Christianity. Some of them have told me, when I have endeavoured to instruct them, “that their fathers had taught them already, and that they did not want to learn now.”
It will be too tedious to give any considerable account of the methods I make use of for surmounting this difficulty. I will just say, I endeavour, as much as possible, to show them the inconsistency of their own notions, and so to confound them out of their own mouths. But I must also say, I have sometimes been almost nonplussed with them, and scarce knew what to answer them: but never have been more perplexed with them, than when they have pretended to yield to me as knowing more than they, and consequently have asked me numbers of impertinent, and yet difficult questions, as, “How the Indians came first into this part of the world, away from all the white people, if what I said was true,” viz. that the same God made them who made us? “How the Indians became black, if they had the same original parents with the white people?” And numbers more of the like nature.--These things, I must say, have been not a little difficult and discouraging, especially when withal some of the
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Indians have appeared angry and malicious against Christianity.
What further contributes to their aversion to Christianity is, the influence that their powows (conjurers or diviners) have upon them. These are a sort of persons who are supposed to have a power of foretelling future events, or recovering the sick, at least oftentimes, and of charming, enchanting, or poisoning persons to death by their magic divinations. And their spirit, in its various operations, seems to be a Satanical imitation of the spirit of prophecy that the church in early ages was favoured with. Some of these diviners are endowed with the spirit in infancy;--others in adult age.--It seems not to depend upon their own will, nor to be acquired by any endeavours of the person who is the subject of it, although it is supposed to be given to children sometimes in consequence of some means the parents use with them for that purpose; one of which is to make the child swallow a small living frog, after having performed some superstitious rites and ceremonies upon it. They are not under the influence of this spirit always alike,--but it comes upon them at times. And those who are endowed with it, are accounted singularly favoured.
I have laboured to gain some acquaintance with this affair of their conjuration, and have for that end consulted and queried with the man mentioned in my Journal of May 9, who, since his conversion to Christianity, has endeavoured to give me the best intelligence he could of this matter. But it seems to be such a mystery of iniquity, that I cannot well understand it, and do not know oftentimes what ideas to affix to the terms he makes use of; and, so far as I can learn, he himself has not any clear notions of the thing, now his spirit of divination is gone from him. However, the manner in which he says he obtained this spirit of divination was this; he was admitted into the presence of a great man, who informed him, that he loved, pitied, and desired to do him good. It was not in this world that he saw the great man, but in a world above at a vast distance from this. The great man, he says, was clothed with the day; yea, with the brightest day he ever saw; a day of many years, yea, of everlasting continuance! this whole world, he says, was drawn upon him, so that in him, the earth, and all things in it, might be seen. I asked him, if rocks, mountains, and seas were drawn upon, or appeared in him? He replied, that every thing that was beautiful and lovely in the earth was upon him, and might be seen by looking on him, as well as if one was on the earth to take a view of them there. By the side of the great man, he says, stood his shadow or spirit; for he used (chichung) the word they commonly use to express that of the man which survives the body, which word properly signifies a shadow. This shadow, he says, was as lovely as the man himself, and filled all places, and was most agreeable as well as wonderful to him.--Here, he says, he tarried some time, and was unspeakably entertained and delighted with a view of the great man, of his shadow or spirit, and of all things in him. And what is most of all astonishing, he imagines all this to have passed before he was born. He never had been, he says, in this world at that time. And what confirms him in the belief of this, is, that the great man told him, that he must come down to earth, be born of such a woman, meet with such and such things, and in particular, that he should once in his life be guilty of murder. At this he was displeased, and told the great man, he would never murder. But the great man replied, “I have said it, and it shall be so.” Which has accordingly happened. At this time, he says, the great man asked him what he would choose in life. He replied, First to be a hunter, and afterwards to be a powow or diviner. Whereupon the great man told him, he should have what he desired, and that his shadow should go along with him down to earth, and be with him for ever. There was, he says, all this time no words spoken between them. The conference was not carried on by any human language, but they had a kind of mental intelligence of each other’s thoughts, dispositions, and proposals. After this, he says, he saw the great man no more; but supposes he now came down to earth to be born, but the spirit or shadow of the great man still attended him, and ever after continued to appear to him in dreams and other ways, until he felt the power of God’s word upon his heart; since which it has entirely left him.
This spirit, he says, used sometimes to direct him in dreams to go to such a place and hunt, assuring him he should there meet with success, which accordingly proved so. And when he had been there some time, the spirit would order him to another place. So that he had success in hunting, according to the great man’s promise made to him at the time of his choosing this employment.
There were some times when this spirit came upon him in a special manner, and he was full of what he saw in the great man; and then, he says, he was all light, and not only light himself, but it was light all around him, so that he could see through men, and knew the thoughts of their hearts, &c. These depths of Satan I leave to others to fathom or to dive into as they please, and do not pretend, for my own part, to know what ideas to affix to such terms, and cannot well guess what conceptions of things these creatures have at these times when they call themselves all light. But my interpreter tells me, that he heard one of them tell a certain Indian the secret thoughts of his heart, which he had never divulged. The case was this, the Indian was bitten with a snake, and was in extreme pain with the bite. Whereupon the diviner (who was applied to for his recovery) told him, that at such a time he had promised, that the next deer he killed, he would sacrifice it to some great power, but had broken his promise. And now, said he, that great power has ordered this snake to bite you for your neglect. The Indian confessed it was so, but said he had never told any body of it. But as Satan, no doubt, excited the Indian to make that promise, it was no wonder he should be able to communicate the matter to the conjurer.
These things serve to fix them down in their idolatry, and to make them believe there is no safety to be expected, but by their continuing to offer such sacrifices. And the influence that these powows have upon them, either through the esteem or fear they have of them, is no small hinderance to their embracing Christianity.
To remove this difficulty, have laboured to show the Indians, that these diviners have no power to recover the sick, when the God whom Christians serve, has determined them for death; and that the supposed great power who influences these diviners has himself no power in this case: and that if they seem to recover any by their magic charms, they are only such as the God I preached to them, had determined should recover, and who would have recovered without their conjurations, &c. And when I have apprehended them afraid of embracing Christianity, lest they should be enchanted and poisoned, I have endeavoured to relieve their minds of this fear, by asking them, Why their powows did not enchant and poison me, seeing they had as much reason to hate me for preaching to and desiring them to become Christians, as they could have to hate them in case they should actually become such? And that they might have an evidence of the power and goodness of God engaged for the protection of Christians, I ventured to bid a challenge to all their powows and great powers to do their worst on me first of all, and thus laboured to tread down their influence.
Many things further might be offered upon this head, but thus much may suffice for a representation of their aversion to and prejudice against Christianity, the springs of it, and the difficulties thence arising.
Second difficulty in converting the Indians, viz. To convey divine truths to their understanding, and to gain their assent.
ANOTHER great difficulty I have met with in my attempts to christianize the Indians, has been to “convey divine truths to their understandings, and to gain their assent to them as such.”
In the first place, I laboured under a very great disadvantage for want of an interpreter, who had a good degree of doctrinal as well as experimental knowledge of divine things: in both which respects my present interpreter was
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very defective when I first employed him, as I noted in the account I before gave of him. And it was sometimes extremely discouraging to me, when I could not make him understand what I designed to communicate; when truths of the last importance appeared foolishness to him for want of a spiritual understanding and relish of them; and when he addressed the Indians in a lifeless indifferent manner, without any heart-engagement or fervency; and especially when he appeared heartless and irresolute about making attempts for the conversion of the Indians to Christianity, as he frequently did. For although he had a desire that they should conform to christian manners, (as I elsewhere observed,) yet being abundantly acquainted with their strong attachments to their own superstitious notions, and the difficulty of bringing them off, and having no sense of divine power and grace, nor dependence upon an Almighty arm for the accomplishment of this work, he used to be discouraged, and tell me, “It signifies nothing for us to try, they will never turn,” &c. So that he was a distressing weight and burden to me. And here I should have sunk, scores of times, but that God in a remarkable manner supported me; sometimes by giving me full satisfaction that he himself had called me to this work, and thence a secret hope that sometime or other I might meet with success in it; or if not, that “my judgment should notwithstanding be with the Lord, and my work with my God.” Sometimes by giving me a sense of his almighty power, and that “his hand was not shortened.” Sometimes by affording me a fresh and lively view of some remarkable freedom and assistance I had been repeatedly favoured with in prayer for the ingathering of these heathens some years before, even before I was a missionary, and a refreshing sense of the stability and faithfulness of the divine promises, and that the prayer of faith should not fail. Thus I was supported under these trials, and the method God was pleased to take for the removal of this difficulty, (respecting my interpreter,) I have sufficiently represented elsewhere.
Another thing that rendered it very difficult to convey divine truths to the understandings of the Indians, was the defect of their language, the want of terms to express and convey ideas of spiritual things. There are no words in the Indian language to answer our English words, “Lord, Saviour, salvation, sinner, justice, condemnation, faith, repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, grace, glory, heaven,” with scores of the like importance.
The only methods I can make use of for surmounting this difficulty, are, either to describe the things at large designed by these terms, as, if I was speaking of regeneration, to call it the “heart’s being changed” by God’s Spirit, or the “heart’s being made good.” Or else I must introduce the English terms into their language, and fix the precise meaning of them, that they may know what I intend whenever I use them.
But what renders it much more difficult to convey divine truths to the understandings of these Indians, is, that “there seems to be no foundation in their minds to begin upon;” I mean no truths that may be taken for granted, as being already known, while I am attempting to instil others. And divine truths having such a necessary connexion with, and dependence upon, each other, I find it extremely difficult in my first addresses to pagans to begin and discourse of them in their proper order and connexion, without having reference to truths not yet known,--without taking for granted such things as need first to be taught and proved. There is no point of christian doctrine but what they are either wholly ignorant of, or extremely confused in their notion about. And therefore it is necessary they should be instructed in every truth, even in those that are the most easy and obvious to the understanding, and which a person educated under gospel-light would be ready to pass over in silence, as not imagining that any rational creature could be ignorant of.
The method I have usually taken in my first addresses to pagans, has been to introduce myself by saying, that I was come among them with a desire and design of teaching them some things which I presumed they did not know, and which I trusted would be for their comfort and, happiness if known; desiring they would give their attention, and hoping they might meet with satisfaction in my discourse. And thence have proceeded to observe, that there are two things belonging to every man, which I call the soul and body. These I endeavour to distinguish from each other, by observing to them, that there is something in them that is capable of joy and pleasure, when their bodies are sick and much pained: and, on the contrary, that they find something within them that is fearful, sorrowful, ashamed, &c. and consequently very uneasy, when their bodies are in perfect health. I then observed to them, that this which rejoices in them (perhaps at the sight of some friend who has been long absent) when their bodies are sick and in pain,--this which is sorrowful, frighted, ashamed, &c. and consequently uneasy, when their bodies are perfectly at ease,--this I call the soul. And although it cannot be seen like the other part of the man, viz. the body, yet it is as real as their thoughts, desires, &c. which are likewise things that cannot be seen.
I then further observe, that this part of the man which thinks, rejoices, grieves, &c. will live after the body is dead. For the proof of this, I produce the opinion of their fathers, who (as I am told by very aged Indians now living) always supposed there was something of the man that would survive the body. And if I can, for the proof of any thing I assert, say, as St. Paul to the Athenians, “As certain also of your own sages have said,” it is sufficient. And having established this point, I next observe, that what I have to say to them, respects the conscious part of the man; and that with relation to its state after the death of the body; and that I am not come to treat with them about the things that concern the present world.
This method I am obliged to take, because they will otherwise entirely mistake the design of my preaching, and suppose the business I am upon, is something that relates to the present world, having never been called together by the white people upon any other occasion, but only to be treated with about the sale of lands, or some other secular business. And I find it almost impossible to prevent their imagining that I am engaged in the same, or such like affairs, and to beat it into them, that my concern is to treat with them about their invisible part, and that with relation to its future state.
But having thus opened the way, by distinguishing between soul and body, and showing the immortality of the former, and that my business is to treat with them in order to their happiness in a future state; I proceed to discourse of the being and perfections of God, particularly of his “eternity, unity, self-sufficiency, infinite wisdom, and almighty power.” It is necessary, in the first place, to teach them, that God is from everlasting, and so distinguished from all creatures; though it is very difficult to communicate any thing of that nature to them, they having no terms in their language to signify an eternity a parte ante. It is likewise necessary to discourse of the divine unity, in order to confute the notions they seem to have of a plurality of gods. The divine all-sufficiency must also necessarily be mentioned, in order to prevent their imagining that God was unhappy while alone, before the formation of his creatures. And something respecting the divine wisdom and power seems necessary to be insisted upon, in order to make way for discoursing of God’s works.
Having offered some things upon the divine perfections mentioned, I proceed to open the work of creation in general, and in particular God’s creation of man in a state of uprightness and happiness, placing them in a garden of pleasure; the means and manner of their apostacy from that state, and loss of that happiness. But before I can give a relation of their fall from God, I am obliged to make a large digression, in order to give an account of the original and circumstances of their tempter, his capacity of assuming the shape of a serpent, from his being a spirit without a body, &c. Whence I go on to show, the ruins of our fallen state, the mental blindness and vicious dispositions our first parents then contracted to themselves, and propagated to all their posterity; the numerous calamities brought upon them and theirs by this apostacy from God, and the exposedness of the whole human race to eternal perdition. And thence labour to show them the necessity of an almighty Saviour to deliver us from this
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deplorable state, as well as of a divine revelation to instruct us in, and direct us agreeable to, the will of God.
And thus the way, by such an introductory discourse, is prepared for opening the gospel-scheme of salvation through the great Redeemer, and for treating of those doctrines that immediately relate to the soul’s renovation by the divine Spirit, and preparation for a state of everlasting blessedness.
In giving such a relation of things to pagans, it is not a little difficult, as observed before, to deliver truths in their proper order, without interfering, and without taking for granted things not as yet known; to discourse of them in a familiar manner suited to the capacities of heathens; to illustrate them by easy and natural similitudes; to obviate or answer the objections they are disposed to make against the several particulars of it, as well as to take notice of and confute their contrary notions.
What has sometimes been very discouraging in my first discourses to them, is, that when I have distinguished between the present and future state, and shown them that it was my business to treat of those things that concern the life to come, they have mocked, and looked upon these things of no importance; have scarce had a curiosity to hear, and perhaps walked off before I had half done my discourse. And in such a case no impressions can be made upon their minds to gain their attention. They are not awed by hearing of the anger of God engaged against sinners, of everlasting punishment as the portion of gospel-neglecters. They are not allured by hearing of the blessedness of those who embrace and obey the gospel. So that to gain their attention to my discourses, has often been as difficult as to give them a just notion of the design of them, or to open truths in their proper order.
Another difficulty naturally falling under the head I am now upon, is, that “it is next to impossible to bring them to a rational conviction that they are sinners by nature, and that their hearts are corrupt and sinful,” unless one could charge them with some gross acts of immorality, such as the light of nature condemns. If they can be charged with behaviour contrary to the commands of the second table,--with manifest abuses of their neighbour, they will generally own such actions to be wrong; but then they seem as if they thought only the actions were sinful, and not their hearts. But if they cannot be charged with such scandalous actions, they seem to have no consciousness of sin and guilt at all, as I had occasion to observe in my Journal of March 24. So that it is very difficult to convince them rationally of that which is readily acknowledged (though, alas! rarely felt) in the christian world, viz. “That we are all sinners.”
The method I take to convince them “we are sinners by nature,” is, to lead them to an observation of their little children, how they will appear in a rage, fight and strike their mothers, before they are able to speak or walk, while they are so young that it is plain they are incapable of learning such practices. And the light of nature in the Indians condemning such behaviour in children towards their parents, they must own these tempers and actions to be wrong and sinful. And the children having never learned these things, they must have been in their natures, and consequently they must be allowed to be “by nature the children of wrath.” The same I observe to them with respect to the sin of lying, which their children seem much inclined to. They tell lies without being taught so to do, from their own natural inclination, as well as against restraints, and after corrections for that vice, which proves them sinners by nature, &c.
And further, in order to show them their hearts are all corrupted and sinful, I observe to them, that this may be the case, and they not be sensible of it through the blindness of their minds. That it is no evidence they are not sinful, because they do not know and feel it. I then mention all the vices I know the Indians to be guilty of, and so make use of these sinful streams to convince them the fountain is corrupt. And this is the end for which I mention their wicked practices to them, not because I expect to bring them to an effectual reformation merely by inveighing against their immoralities; but hoping they may hereby be convinced of the corruption of their hearts, and awakened to a sense of the depravity and misery of their fallen state.
And for the same purpose, viz. “to convince them they are sinners,” I sometimes open to them the great command of “loving God with all the heart, strength, and mind;” show them the reasonableness of loving him who has made, preserved, and dealt bountifully with us: and then labour to show them their utter neglect in this regard, and that they have been so far from loving God in this manner, that, on the contrary, he has not been “in all their thoughts.”
These, and such like, are the means I have made use of in order to remove this difficulty; but if it be asked after all, “How it was surmounted?” I must answer, God himself was pleased to do it with regard to a number of these Indians, by taking his work into his own hand, and making them feel at heart, that they were both sinful and miserable. And in the day of God’s power, whatever was spoken to them from God’s word, served to convince them they were sinners, (even the most melting invitations of the gospel,) and to fill them with solicitude to obtain a deliverance from that deplorable state.
Further, it is extremely difficult to give them any just notion of the undertaking of Christ in behalf of sinners; of his obeying and suffering in their room and stead, in order to atone for their sins, and procure their salvation; and of their being justified by his righteousness imputed to them.--They are in general wholly unacquainted with civil laws and proceedings, and know of no such thing as one person being substituted as a surety in the room of another, nor have any kind of notion of civil judicatures, of persons being arraigned, tried, judged, condemned, or acquitted. And hence it is very difficult to treat with them upon any thing of this nature, or that bears any relation to legal procedures. And although they cannot but have some dealings with the white people, in order to procure clothing and other necessaries of life, yet it is scarce ever known that any one pays a penny for another, but each one stands for himself. Yet this is a thing that may be supposed, though seldom practised among them, and they may be made to understand, that if a friend of theirs pay a debt for them, it is right that upon that consideration they themselves should be discharged.
And this is the only way I can take in order to give them a proper notion of the undertaking and satisfaction of Christ in behalf of sinners. But here naturally arise two questions. First, “What need there was of Christ’s obeying and suffering for us; why God would not look upon us to be good creatures (to use my common phrase for justification) on account of our own good deeds?” In answer to which I sometimes observe, that a child being never so orderly and obedient to its parents to-day, does by no means satisfy for its contrary behaviour yesterday; and that if it be loving and obedient at some times only, and at other times cross and disobedient, it never can be looked upon a good child for its own doings, since it ought to have behaved in an obedient manner always. This simile strikes their minds in an easy and forcible manner, and serves, in a measure, to illustrate the point. For the light of nature, as before hinted, teaches them, that their children ought to be obedient to them, and that at all times; and some of them are very severe with them for the contrary behaviour. This I apply in the plainest manner to our behaviour towards God; and so show them, that it is impossible for us, since we have sinned against God, to be justified before him by our own doings, since present and future goodness, although perfect and constant, could never satisfy for past misconduct.
A second question, is, “If our debt was so great, and if we all deserved to suffer, how one person’s suffering was sufficient to answer for the whole?” Here I have no better way to illustrate the infinite value of Christ’s obedience and sufferings, arising from the dignity and excellency of his person, than to show them the superior value of gold to that of baser metals, and that a small quantity of this will discharge a greater debt, than a vast quantity of the common copper pence. But after all, it is extremely difficult to treat with them upon this great doctrine of “justification by imputed righteousness.” I scarce know how to conclude this head, so many things occurring that
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might properly be added here; but what has been mentioned, may serve for a specimen of the difficulty of conveying divine truths to the understandings of these Indians, and of gaining their assent to them as such.
A third difficulty in converting the Indians, viz. Their inconvenient situations, savage manners, and unhappy method of living.
THEIR “inconvenient situations, savage manners, and unhappy method of living,” have been an unspeakable difficulty and discouragement to me in my work.--They generally live in the wilderness, and some that I have visited, at great distances from the English settlements. This has obliged me to travel much, oftentimes over hideous rocks, mountains, and swamps, and frequently to lie out in the open woods, which deprived me of the common comforts of life, and greatly impaired my health.
When I have got among them in the wilderness, I have often met with great difficulty in my attempts to discourse to them.--I have sometimes spent hours with them in attempting to answer their objections, and remove their jealousies, before I could prevail upon them to give me a hearing upon Christianity. I have been often obliged to preach in their houses in cold and windy weather, when they have been full of smoke and cinders, as well as unspeakably filthy; which has many times thrown me into violent sick head-aches.
While I have been preaching, their children have frequently cried to such a degree, that I could scarcely be heard, and their pagan mothers would take no manner of care to quiet them. At the same time, perhaps, some have been laughing and mocking at divine truths. Others playing with their dogs, whittleing sticks, and the like. And this, in many of them, not from spite and prejudice, but for want of better manners.
A view of these things has been not a little sinking and discouraging to me. It has sometimes so far prevailed upon me as to render me entirely dispirited and wholly unable to go on with my work; and given me such a melancholy turn of mind, that I have many times thought I could never more address an Indian upon religious matters.
The solitary manner in which I have generally been obliged to live, on account of their inconvenient situation, has been not a little pressing. I have spent the greater part of my time, for more than three years past, entirely alone, as to any agreeable society; and a very considerable part of it in houses by myself, without having the company of any human creature. Sometimes I have scarcely seen an Englishman for a month or six weeks together; and have had my spirits so depressed with melancholy views of the tempers and conduct of pagans, when I have been for some time confined with them, that I have felt as if banished from all the people of God.
I have likewise been wholly alone in my work, there being no other missionary among the Indians in either of these provinces. And other ministers neither knowing the peculiar difficulties, nor most advantageous methods of performing my work, have been capable to afford me little assistance or support in any respect.--A feeling of the great disadvantages of being alone in this work, has discovered to me the wisdom and goodness of the great Head of the church, in sending forth his disciples two and two, in order to proclaim the sacred mysteries of his kingdom; and has made me long for a colleague to be a partner of my cares, hopes, and fears, as well as labours amongst the Indians; and excited to use some means in order to procure such an assistant, although I have not as yet been so happy as to meet with success in that respect.
I have not only met with great difficulty in travelling to, and for some time residing among, the Indians far remote in the wilderness, but also in living with them, in one place and another, more statedly. I have been obliged to remove my residence from place to place; having procured, and after some poor fashion, furnished, three houses for living among them, in the space of about three years past. One at Kaunaumeek, about twenty miles distant from the city of Albany; one at the Forks of Delaware, in Pennsylvania; and one at Crossweeksung, in New Jersey. And the Indians in the latter of these provinces, with whom I have lately spent most of my time, being not long since removed from the place where they lived last winter, (the reason of which I mentioned in my Journal of March 24, and May 4,) I have now no house at all of my own, but am obliged to lodge with an English family at a considerable distance from them, to the great disadvantage of my work among them; they being like children that continually need advice and direction, as well as incitement to their worldly business.--The houses I have formerly lived in are at great distances from each other; the two nearest of them being more than seventy miles apart, and neither of them within fifteen miles of the place where the Indians now live.
The Indians are a very poor and indigent people, and so destitute of the comforts of life, at some seasons of the year especially, that it is impossible for a person who has any pity to them, and concern for the christian interest, to live among them without considerable expense, especially in time of sickness. If any thing be bestowed on one, (as in some cases it is peculiarly necessary, in order to remove their pagan jealousies, and engage their friendship to Christianity,) others, be there never so many of them, expect the same treatment. And while they retain their pagan tempers, they discover little gratitude, amidst all the kindnesses they receive. If they make any presents, they expect double satisfaction. And Christianity itself does not at once cure them of these ungrateful tempers.
They are in general unspeakably indolent and slothful. They have been bred up in idleness, and know little about cultivating land, or indeed of engaging vigorously in any other business. So that I am obliged to instruct them in, as well as press them to, the performance of their work, and take the oversight of all their secular business. They have little or no ambition or resolution. Not one in a thousand of them has the spirit of a man. And it is next to impossible to make them sensible of the duty and importance of being active, diligent, and industrious in the management of their worldly business; and to excite in them any spirit and promptitude of that nature. When I have laboured to the utmost of my ability to show them of what importance it would be to the Christian interest among them, as well as to their worldly comfort, for them to be laborious and prudent in their business, and to furnish themselves with the comforts of life; how this would incline the pagans to come among them, and so put them under the means of salvation--how it would encourage religious persons of the white people to help them, as well as stop the mouths of others that were disposed to cavil against them; how they might by this means pay others their just dues, and so prevent trouble from coming upon themselves, and reproach upon their christian profession--they have indeed assented to all I said, but been little moved, and consequently have acted like themselves, or at least too much so. Though it must be acknowledged, that those who appear to have a sense of divine things, are considerably amended in this respect, and it is to be hoped, that time will make a yet greater alteration upon them for the better.
The concern I have had for the settling of these Indians in New Jersey in a compact form, in order to their being a christian congregation, in a capacity of enjoying the means of grace; the care of managing their worldly business in order to this end, and to their having a comfortable livelihood; have been more pressing to my mind, and cost me more labour and fatigue, for several months past, than all my other work among them.
Their “wandering to and fro in order to procure the necessaries of life,” is another difficulty that attends my work. This has often deprived me of opportunities to discourse to them; and it has thrown them in the way of temptation; either among pagans further remote where they have gone to hunt, who have laughed at them for hearkening to Christianity; or, among white people more horribly wicked, who have often made them drunk, and then got their commodities--such as skins, baskets, brooms, shovels, and the like, with which they designed to have
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bought corn, and other necessaries of life, for themselves and families--for, it may be, nothing but a little strong liquor, and then sent them home empty. So that for the labour perhaps of several weeks, they have got nothing but the satisfaction of being drunk once; and have not only lost their labour, but, which is infinitely worse, the impressions of some divine subjects that were made upon their minds before.--But I forbear enlarging upon this head. The few hints I have given may be sufficient to give thinking persons some apprehensions of the difficulties attending my work, on account of the inconvenient situations and savage manners of the Indians, as well as of their unhappy method of living.
Fourth difficulty in converting the Indians, viz. The designs of evil-minded persons to hinder the work.
THE last difficulty I shall mention, as having attended my work, is “what has proceeded from the attempts that some ill-minded persons have designedly made, to hinder the propagation of the gospel, and a work of divine grace, among the Indians.”--The Indians are not only of themselves prejudiced against Christianity, on the various accounts I have already mentioned, but, as if this was not enough, there are some in all parts of the country where I have preached to them, who have taken pains industriously to bind them down in pagan darkness; “neglecting to enter into the kingdom of God themselves, and labouring to hinder others.”
After the beginning of the religious concern among the Indians in New Jersey, some endeavoured to prejudice them against me and the truths I taught them, by the most sneaking, unmanly, and false suggestions of things that had no manner of foundation but in their own brains. Some particulars of this kind I formerly took notice of in one of the remarks made upon my Journal concluded the 20th of November last; and might have added more, and of another nature, had not modesty forbidden me to mention what was too obscene. But, through the mercy of God, they were never able, by all their abominable insinuations, flouting jeers, and downright lies, to create in the Indians those jealousies they desired to possess them with, and so were never suffered to hinder the work of grace among them.--But when they saw they could not prejudice the Indians against me, nor hinder them from receiving the gospel, they then noised it through the country, that I was undoubtedly a Roman catholic, and that I was gathering together, and training up, the Indians in order to serve a popish interest, that I should quickly head them, and cut people’s throats.
What they pretended gave them reason for this opinion, was, that they understood I had a commission from Scotland. Whereupon they could with great assurance say, “All Scotland is turned to the Pretender, and this is but a popish plot to make a party for him here,” &c. And some, I am informed, actually went to the civil authority with complaints against me, but only laboured under this unhappiness, that when they came, they had nothing to complain of, and could give no colour of reason why they attempted any such thing, or desired the civil authority to take cognizance of me, having not a word to allege against my preaching or practice, only they surmised that because the Indians appeared so very loving and orderly, they had a design of imposing upon people by that means, and so of getting a better advantage to cut their throats. And what temper they would have had the Indians appear with, in order to have given no occasion, nor have left any room for such a suspicion, I cannot tell. I presume if they had appeared with the contrary temper, it would quickly have been observed of them, that “they were now grown surly,” and in all probability were preparing to “cut people’s throats.”--From a view of these things, I have had occasion to admire the wisdom and goodness of God in providing so full and authentic a commission for the undertaking and carrying on of this work, without which, notwithstanding the charitableness of the design, it had probably met with molestation.
The Indians who have been my hearers in New Jersey, have likewise been sued for debt, and threatened with imprisonment, more since I came among them, as they inform me, than in seven years before. The reason of this, I suppose, was, they left frequenting those tippling houses where they used to consume most of what they gained by hunting and other means. And these persons, seeing that the hope of future gain was lost, were resolved to make sure of what they could. And perhaps some of them put the Indians to trouble, purely out of spite at their embracing Christianity.
This conduct of theirs has been very distressing to me; for I was sensible, that if they did imprison any one that embraced or hearkened to Christianity, the news of it would quickly spread among the pagans, hundreds of miles distant, who would immediately conclude I had involved them in this difficulty; and thence be filled with prejudice against Christianity, and strengthened in their jealousy, that the whole of my design among them, was to insnare and enslave them. And I knew that some of the Indians upon Susquehannah had made this objection against hearing me preach, viz. That they understood a number of Indians in Maryland, some hundreds of miles distant, who had been uncommonly free with the English, were after a while put in jail, sold, &c. Whereupon they concluded, it was best for them to keep at a distance, and have nothing to do with Christians.--The method I took in order to remove this difficulty, was, to press the Indians with all possible speed to pay their debts, and to exhort those of them that had skins or money, and were themselves in a good measure free of debt, to help others that were oppressed. And frequently upon such occasions I have paid money out of my own pocket, which I have not as yet received again.
These are some of the difficulties I have met with from the conduct of those who, notwithstanding their actions so much tend to hinder the propagation of Christianity would, I suppose, be loth to be reputed pagans. Thus I have endeavoured to answer the demands of the Honourable Society in relation to each of the particulars mentioned in their letter.--If what I have written may be in any measure agreeable and satisfactory to them, and serve to excite in them, or any of God’s people, a spirit of prayer and supplication for the furtherance of a work of grace among the Indians here, and the propagation of it to their distant tribes, I shall have abundant reason to rejoice, and bless God in this, as well as in other respects.
June 20, 1746.
P.S. Since the conclusion of the preceding Journal--which was designed to represent the operations of one year only, from the first time of my preaching to the Indians in New Jersey--I administered the sacrament of the Lord’s supper a second time in my congregation, viz. on the 13th of July. At which time there were more than thirty communicants of the Indians, although divers were absent who should have communicated: so considerably has God enlarged our number since the former solemnity of this kind, described somewhat particularly in my Journal. This appeared to be a season of divine power and grace, not unlike the former; a season of refreshing to God’s people in general, and of awakening to some others, although the divine influence manifestly attending the several services of the solemnity, seemed not so great and powerful as at the former season.
Attestations of divine grace displayed among the Indians.
SINCE my dear and reverend brother Brainerd has at length consented to the publication of his Journal, I gladly embrace this opportunity of testifying, that our al-
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together glorious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has given such a display of his almighty power and sovereign grace, not only in the external reformation, but (in a judgment of charity) the saving conversion of a considerable number of Indians, that it is really wonderful to all beholders! though some, alas! notwithstanding sufficient grounds of conviction to the contrary, do join with the devil, that avowed enemy of God and man, in endeavouring to prevent this glorious work, by such ways and means as are mentioned in the aforesaid Journal, to which I must refer the reader for a faithful, though very brief, account of the time when, the place where, the means by which, and manner how, this wished-for work has been begun and carried on, by the great Head of the church.--And this I can more confidently do, not only because I am intimately acquainted with the author of the Journal, but on account of my own personal knowledge of the matters of fact recorded in it respecting the work itself.--As I live not far from the Indians, I have been much conversant with them, both at their own place, and in my own parish, where they generally convene for public worship in Mr. Brainerd’s absence; and I think it my duty to acknowledge, that their conversation hath often, under God, refreshed my soul.
To conclude; it is my opinion, that the change wrought in those savages, namely, from the darkness of paganism, to the knowledge of the pure gospel of Christ; from sacrificing to devils, to “present themselves, body and soul, a living sacrifice to God,” and that not only from the persuasion of their minister, but from a clear heart-affecting sense of its being their reasonable service: this change, I say, is so great, that none could effect it but he “who worketh all things after the good pleasure of his own will.” And I would humbly hope, that this is only the first-fruits of a much greater harvest to be brought in from among the Indians, by him, who has promised to give his Son “the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost of the earth for his possession;”--who hath also declared, “That the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.--Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen and Amen.”
I am, courteous reader,
thy soul’s well-wisher,
August 16, 1746.
As it must needs afford a sacred pleasure to such as cordially desire the prosperity and advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom and interest in the world, to hear, that our merciful and gracious God is in very deed fulfilling such precious promises as relate to the poor heathen, by sending his everlasting gospel among them, which, with concurrence of his Holy Spirit, is removing that worse than Egyptian darkness, whereby the God of this world has long held them in willing subjection; so this narrative will perhaps be more acceptable to the world, when it is confirmed by the testimony of such as were either eye-witness of this glorious dawn of gospel-light among the benighted pagans, or personally acquainted with those of them, in whom, in a judgment of charity, a gracious change has been wrought. Therefore I the more willingly join with my brethren, Mr. Wm. Tennent and Mr. Brainerd, in affixing my attestation to the foregoing narrative; and look upon myself as concerned in point of duty both to God and his people to do so, by reason that I live contiguous to their settlement, and have had frequent opportunities of being present at their religious meetings, where I have, with pleasing wonder, beheld what I am strongly inclined to believe were the effects of God’s almighty power accompanying his own truths; more especially on the 8th day of August, 1745. While the word of God was preached by Mr. Brainerd, there appeared an uncommon solemnity among the Indians in general; but I am wholly unable to give a full representation of the surprising effects of God’s almighty power that appeared among them when public service was over. While Mr. Brainerd urged upon some of them the absolute necessity of a speedy closure with Christ, the Holy Spirit seemed to be poured out upon them in a plenteous measure, insomuch as the Indians present in the wigwam seemed to be brought to the jailer’s case, Acts xvi. 30. utterly unable to conceal the distress and perplexity of their souls; this prompted the pious among them to bring the dispersed congregation together, who soon seemed to be in the greatest extremity. Some were earnestly begging for mercy, under a solemn sense of their perishing condition, while others were unable to arise from the earth, to the great wonder of those white people that were present, one of whom is by this means, I trust, savingly brought to Christ since. Nay, so very extraordinary was the concern that appeared among the poor Indians in general, that I am ready to conclude, it might have been sufficient to have convinced an atheist, that the Lord was indeed in the place. I am, for my part, fully persuaded, that this glorious work is true and genuine, whilst with satisfaction I behold several of these Indians discovering all the symptoms of inward holiness in their lives and conversation. I have had the satisfaction of joining with them in their service on the 11th of August, 1746, which was a day set apart for imploring the divine blessing on the labours of their minister among other tribes of the Indians at Susquehannah, in all which they conducted themselves with a very decent and becoming gravity; and, as far as I am capable of judging, they may be proposed as examples of piety and godliness to all the white people around them, which indeed is justly “marvellous in our eyes,” especially considering what they lately had been.--O may the glorious God shortly bring about that desirable time, when our exalted Immanuel shall have “the heathen given for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession!”
August 29, 1746.
WE whose names are underwritten, being elders and deacons of the presbyterian church in Freehold, do hereby testify, that in our humble opinion, God, even our Saviour, has brought a considerable number of the Indians in these parts to a saving union with himself.--This we are persuaded of, from a personal acquaintance with them, whom we not only hear speak of the great doctrines of the gospel with humility, affection, and understanding, but we see them walk, as far as man can judge, soberly, righteously, and godly. We have joined with them at the Lord’s supper, and do from our hearts esteem them as our brethren in Jesus. For “these who were not God’s people, may now be called the children of the living God: it is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” O that he may go on “conquering and to conquer,” until he has subdued all things to himself! This is and shall be the unfeigned desires and prayers of
JOHN HENDERSON, Elders.
SAMUEL KER, Deacons.
Freehold, Aug. 16, 1746.
MR. BRAINERD’S JOURNAL:
BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE ENDEAVOURS USED BY THE MISSIONARIES
SOCIETY IN SCOTLAND FOR PROPAGATING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,
TO INTRODUCE THE GOSPEL AMONG THE INDIANS ON THE BORDERS OF NEW YORK, &c.
THE deplorable, perishing state of the Indians in these parts of America, being by several ministers here represented to the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge; the said Society charitably and cheerfully came into the proposal of maintaining two missionaries among these miserable pagans, to endeavour their conversion “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God;” and sent their commission to some ministers and other gentlemen here, to act as their correspondents, in providing, directing, and inspecting the said mission.
As soon as the correspondents were authorized by the Society’s commission, they immediately looked out for two candidates of the evangelical ministry, whose zeal for the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and whose compassion for poor perishing souls, would prompt them to such an exceeding difficult and self-denying undertaking. They first prevailed with Mr. Azariah Horton to relinquish a call to an encouraging parish, and to devote himself to the Indian service. He was directed to Long Island, in August 1741, at the east end whereof there are two small towns of the Indians, and from the east to the west end of the island, lesser companies settled at a few miles’ distance from one another, for the length of above a hundred miles.--At his first coming among these, he was well received by the most, and heartily welcomed by some of them. They at the east end of the island, especially, gave diligent and serious attention to his instructions, and many of them put upon solemn inquiries about “what they should do to be saved.” A general reformation of manners was soon observable among the most of these Indians. They were careful to attend, and serious and solemn in attendance, upon both public and private instructions. A number of them were under very deep convictions of their miserable perishing state; and about twenty of them give lasting evidences of their saving conversion to God. Mr. Horton has baptized thirty-five adults, and forty-four children. He took pains with them to teach them to read; and some of them have made considerable proficiency. But the extensiveness of his charge, and the necessity of his travelling from place to place, makes him incapable of giving so constant attendance to their instruction in reading as is needful. In his last letter to the correspondents, he heavily complains of a great defection of some of them, from their first reformation and care of their souls; occasioned by strong drink being brought among them, and their being thereby allured to a relapse into their darling vice of drunkenness. This is a vice to which the Indians are every where so greatly addicted, and so vehemently disposed, that nothing but the power of divine grace can restrain that impetuous lust, when they have opportunity to gratify it. He likewise complains, that some of them are grown more careless and remiss in the duties of religious worship, than they were when first acquainted with the great things of their eternal peace. But as a number retain their first impressions, and as they generally attend with reverence upon his ministry, he goes on in his work, with encouraging hopes of the presence and blessing of God with him in his difficult undertaking.
This is a general view of the state of the mission upon Long Island, collected from several of Mr. Horton’s letters; which is all that could now be offered, we not having as yet a particular account from Mr. Horton himself.--It was some time after Mr. Horton was employed in the Indian service, before the correspondents could obtain another qualified candidate for this self-denying mission. At length they prevailed with Mr. David Brainerd, to refuse several invitations unto places where he had a promising prospect of a comfortable settlement among the English, to encounter the fatigues and perils that must attend his carrying the gospel of Christ to these poor miserable savages. A general representation of whose conduct and success in that undertaking is contained in a letter we lately received from himself, which is as follows:
TO THE REV. MR. EBENEZER PEMBERTON.
SINCE you are pleased to require of me some brief and general account of my conduct in the affair of my mission amongst the Indians; the pains and endeavours I have used to propagate christian knowledge among them; the difficulties I have met with in pursuance of that great work; and the hopeful and encouraging appearances I have observed in any of them; I shall now endeavour to answer your demands, by giving a brief and faithful account of the most material things relating to that important affair, with which I have been and am still concerned. And this I shall do with more freedom and cheerfulness, both because I apprehend it will be a likely means to give pious persons, who are concerned for the kingdom of Christ, some just apprehension of the many and great difficulties that attend the propagation of it amongst the poor pagans, and consequently, it is hoped, will engage their more frequent and fervent prayers to God, that those may be succeeded who are employed in this arduous work. Beside, I persuade myself, that the tidings of the gospel spreading among the poor heathen, will be, to those who are waiting for the accomplishment of the “glorious things spoken of the city of our God,” as “good news from a far country;” and that these will be so far from “despising the day of small things,” that, on the contrary, the least dawn of encouragement and hope, in this important affair, will rather inspire their pious breasts with more generous and warm
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desires, that “the kingdoms of this world may speedily become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.”--I shall therefore immediately proceed to the business before me, and briefly touch upon the most important matters that have concerned my mission, from the beginning to this present time.
On March 15, 1743, I waited on the correspondents for the Indian mission at New York; and the week following, attended their meeting at Woodbridge in New Jersey, and was speedily dismissed by them with orders to attempt the instruction of a number of Indians in a place some miles distant from the city of Albany. And on the first day of April following, I arrived among the Indians, at a place called by them Kaunaumeek, in the county of Albany, near about twenty miles distant from the city eastward.
The place, as to its situation, was sufficiently lonesome and unpleasant, being encompassed with mountains and woods; twenty miles distant from any English inhabitants; six or seven from any Dutch; and more than two from a family that came, some time since, from the Highlands of Scotland, and had then lived, as I remember, about two years in this wilderness. In this family I lodged about the space of three months, the master of it being the only person with whom I could readily converse in those parts, except my interpreter; others understanding very little English.
After I had spent about three months in this situation, I found my distance from the Indians a very great disadvantage to my work among them, and very burdensome to myself; as I was obliged to travel forward and backward almost daily on foot, having no pasture in which I could keep my horse for that purpose. And after all my pains, could not be with the Indians in the evening and morning, which were usually the best hours to find them at home, and when they could best attend my instructions.--I therefore resolved to remove, and live with or near the Indians, that I might watch all opportunities, when they were generally at home, and take the advantage of such seasons for their instruction.
Accordingly I removed soon after; and, for a time, lived with them in one of their wigwams; and, not long after, built me a small house, where I spent the remainder of that year entirely alone; my interpreter, who was an Indian, choosing rather to live in a wigwam among his own countrymen.--This way of living I found attended with many difficulties, and uncomfortable circumstances, in a place where I could get none of the necessaries and common comforts of life, (no, not so much as a morsel of bread,) but what I brought from places fifteen and twenty miles distant, and oftentimes was obliged, for some time together, to content myself without, for want of an opportunity to procure the things I needed.
But although the difficulties of this solitary way of living are not the least, or most inconsiderable, (and doubtless are in fact many more and greater to those who experience, than they can readily appear to those, who only view them at a distance,) yet I can truly say, that the burden I felt respecting my great work among the poor Indians, the fear and concern that continually hung upon my spirits, lest they should be prejudiced against Christianity, and their minds imbittered against me, and my labours among them, by means of the insinuations of some who, although they are called christians, seem to have no concern for Christ’s kingdom, but had rather (as their conduct plainly discovers) that the Indians should remain heathens, that they may with the more ease cheat, and so enrich themselves by them,--were much more pressing to me, than all the difficulties that attended the circumstances of my living.
As to the state or temper of mind, in which I found these Indians, at my first coming among them, I may justly say, it was much more desirable and encouraging than what appears among those who are altogether uncultivated. Their heathenish jealousies and suspicion, and their prejudices against Christianity, were in a great measure removed by the long-continued labours of the Reverend Mr. Sargeant among a number of the same tribe, in a place little more than twenty miles distant. Hence these were, in some good degree, prepared to entertain the truths of Christianity, instead of objecting against them, and appearing almost entirely untractable, as is common with them at first, and as perhaps these appeared a few years ago. Some of them, at least, appeared very well disposed toward religion, and seemed much pleased with my coming among them.
In my labours with them, in order “to turn them from darkness to light,” I studied what was most plain and easy, and best suited to their capacities; and endeavoured to set before them from time to time, as they were able to receive them, the most important and necessary truths of Christianity; such as most immediately concerned their speedy conversion to God, and such as I judged had the greatest tendency, as means, to effect that glorious change in them. But especially I made it the scope and drift of all my labours, to lead them into a thorough acquaintance with these two things.--First, The sinfulness and misery of the estate they were naturally in; the evil of their hearts, the pollution of their natures; the heavy guilt they were under, and their exposedness to everlasting punishment; as also their utter inability to save themselves, either from their sins, or from those miseries which are the just punishment of them; and their unworthiness of any mercy at the hand of God, on account of any thing they themselves could do to procure his favour, and consequently their extreme need of Christ to save them.--And, secondly, I frequently endeavoured to open to them the fulness, all-sufficiency, and freeness of that redemption, which the Son of God has wrought out by his obedience and sufferings, for perishing sinners: how this provision he had made, was suited to all their wants; and how he called and invited them to accept of everlasting life freely, notwithstanding all their sinfulness, inability, unworthiness, &c.
After I had been with the Indians several months, I composed sundry forms of prayer, adapted to their circumstances and capacities; which, with the help of my interpreter, I translated into the Indian language; and soon learned to pronounce their words, so as to pray with them in their own tongue. I also translated sundry psalms into their language, and soon after we were able to sing in the worship of God.
When my people had gained some acquaintance with many of the truths of Christianity, so that they were capable of receiving and understanding many others, which at first could not be taught them, by reason of their ignorance of those that were necessary to be previously known, and upon which others depended; I then gave them an historical account of God’s dealings with his ancient professing people the Jews; some of the rites and ceremonies they were obliged to observe, as their sacrifices, &c.; and what these were designed to represent to them: as also some of the surprising miracles God wrought for their salvation, while they trusted in him, and the sore punishments he sometimes brought upon them, when they forsook and sinned against him. Afterwards I proceeded to give them a relation of the birth, life, miracles, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ; as well as his ascension, and the wonderful effusion of the Holy Spirit consequent thereupon.
And having thus endeavoured to prepare the way by such a general account of things, I next proceeded to read and expound to them the Gospel of St. Matthew (at least the substance of it) in course, wherein they had a more distinct and particular view of what they had before some general notion.--These expositions I attended almost every evening, when there was any considerable number of them at home; except when I was obliged to be absent myself, in order to learn the Indian language with the Rev. Mr. Sargeant.--Besides these means of instruction, there was likewise an English school constantly kept by my interpreter among the Indians; which I used frequently to visit, in order to give the children and young people some proper instructions, and serious exhortations suited to their age.
The degree of knowledge to which some of them attained, was considerable. Many of the truths of Christianity seemed fixed in their minds, especially in some instances, so that they would speak to me of them, and ask such questions about them, as were necessary to render them more plain and clear to their understandings.--The
A SHORT ACCOUNT OF MISSIONS. 433
children, also, and young people, who attended the school, made considerable proficiency (at least some of them) in their learning; so that had they understood the English language well, they would have been able to read somewhat readily in a psalter.
But that which was most of all desirable, and gave me the greatest encouragement amidst many difficulties and disconsolate hours, was, that the truths of God’s word seemed, at times, to be attended with some power upon the hearts and consciences of the Indians. And especially this appeared evident in a few instances, who were awakened to some sense of their miserable estate by nature, and appeared solicitous for deliverance from it. Several of them came, of their own accord, to discourse with me about their souls’ concerns; and some with tears, inquired “what they should do to be saved?” and whether the God that Christians served, would be merciful to those that had been frequently drunk? &c.
And although I cannot say that I have satisfactory evidences of their being “renewed in the spirit of their mind,” and savingly converted to God; yet the Spirit of God did, I apprehend, in such a manner attend the means of grace, and so operate upon their minds thereby, as might justly afford matter of encouragement to hope, that God designed good to them, and that he was preparing his way into their souls.
There likewise appeared a reformation in the lives and manners of the Indians.--Their idolatrous sacrifices (of which there was but one or two, that I know of, after my coming among them) were wholly laid aside. And their heathenish custom of dancing, hallooing, &c. they seemed in a considerable measure to have abandoned. And I could not but hope, that they were reformed in some measure from the sin of drunkenness. They likewise manifested a regard to the Lord’s day; and not only behaved soberly themselves, but took care also to keep their children in order.
Yet, after all, I must confess, that as there were many hopeful appearances among them, so there were some things more discouraging. And while I rejoiced to observe any seriousness and concern among them about the affairs of their souls, still I was not without continual fear and concern, lest such encouraging appearances might prove “like a morning-cloud, that passeth away.”
When I had spent near a year with the Indians, I informed them that I expected to leave them in the spring then approaching, and to be sent to another tribe of Indians, at a great distance from them. On hearing this, they appeared very sorrowful, and some of them endeavoured to persuade me to continue with them; urging that they had now heard so much about their souls’ concerns, that they could never more be willing to live as they had done, without a minister, and further instructions in the way to heaven, &c. Whereupon I told them, they ought to be willing that others also should hear about their souls’ concerns, seeing those needed it as much as themselves. Yet further to dissuade me from going, they added, that those Indians, to whom I had thoughts of going, (as they had heard,) were not willing to become Christians as they were, and therefore urged me to tarry with them. I then told them, that they might receive further instructions without me; but the Indians, to whom I expected to be sent, could not, there being no minister near to teach them. And hereupon I advised them, in case I should leave them, and be sent elsewhere, to remove to Stockbridge, where they might be supplied with land, and conveniencies of living, and be under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Sargeant: with which advice and proposal they seemed disposed to comply.
On April 6, 1744, I was ordered and directed by the correspondents for the Indian mission, to take leave of the people, with whom I had then spent a full year, and to go, as soon as conveniently I could, to a tribe of Indians on Delaware river in Pennsylvania.
These orders I soon attended, and on April 29th took leave of my people, who were mostly removed to Stockbridge under the care of the Rev. Mr. Sargeant. I then set out on my journey toward Delaware; and on May 10th met with a number of Indians in a place called Minnissinks, about a hundred and forty miles from Kaunaumeek, (the place where I spent the last year,) and directly in my way to Delaware river. With these Indians I spent some time, and first addressed their king in a friendly manner; and after some discourse, and attempts to contract a friendship with him, I told him I had a desire (for his benefit and happiness) to instruct them in Christianity. At which he laughed, turned his back upon me, and went away. I then addressed another principal man in the same manner, who said he was willing to hear me. After some time, I followed the king into his house, and renewed my discourse to him: but he declined talking, and left the affair to another, who appeared to be a rational man. He began, and talked very warmly near a quarter of an hour together: he inquired why I desired the Indians to become Christians, seeing the Christians were so much worse than the Indians are in their present state. The Christians, he said, would lie, steal, and drink, worse than the Indians. It was they first taught the Indians to be drunk: and they stole from one another, to that degree, that their rulers were obliged to hang them for it, and that was not sufficient to deter others from the like practice. But the Indians, he added, were none of them ever hanged for stealing, and yet they did not steal half so much; and he supposed that if the Indians should become Christians, they would then be as bad as these. And hereupon he said, they would live as their fathers lived, and go where their fathers were when they died. I then freely owned, lamented, and joined with him in condemning, the ill conduct of some who are called Christians: told him, these were not Christians in heart; that I hated such wicked practices, and did not desire the Indians to become such as these.--And when he appeared calmer, I asked him if he was willing that I should come and see them again? He replied, he should be willing to see me again, as a friend, if I would not desire them to become Christians.--I then bid them farewell, and prosecuted my journey toward Delaware. And May 13th I arrived at a place called by the Indians Sakhauwotung, within the Forks of Delaware in Pennsylvania.
Here also, when I came to the Indians, I saluted their king, and others, in a manner I thought most engaging. And soon after informed the king of my desire to instruct them in the christian religion. After he had consulted a few minutes with two or three old men, he told me he was willing to hear. I then preached to those few that were present; who appeared very attentive, and well disposed. And the king in particular seemed both to wonder, and at the same time to be well pleased with what I taught them, respecting the Divine Being, &c. And since that time he has ever shown himself friendly to me, giving me free liberty to preach in his house, whenever I think fit.--Here therefore I have spent the greater part of the summer past, preaching usually in the king’s house.
The number of Indians in this place is but small; most of those that formerly belonged here, are dispersed, and removed to places farther back in the country. There are not more than ten houses hereabouts, that continue to be inhabited; and some of these are several miles distant from others, which makes it difficult for the Indians to meet together so frequently as could be desired.
When I first began to preach here, the number of my hearers was very small; often not exceeding twenty or twenty-five persons: but towards the latter part of the summer, their number increased, so that I have frequently had forty persons, or more, at once; and oftentimes most belonging to those parts came together to hear me preach.
The effects which the truths of God’s word have had upon some of the Indians, in this place, are somewhat encouraging. Sundry of them are brought to renounce idolatry, and to decline partaking of those feasts which they used to offer in sacrifice to certain supposed unknown powers. And some few among them have, for a considerable time, manifested a serious concern for their souls’ eternal welfare, and still continue to “inquire the way to Zion,” with such diligence, affection, and becoming solicitude, as gives me reason to hope, that “God, who, I trust, has begun this work in them,” will carry it on, until it shall issue in their saving conversion to himself. These not only detest their old idolatrous notions, but strive also to bring their friends off from them. And as they are
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seeking salvation for their own souls, so they seem desirous, and some of them take pains, that others might be excited to do the like.
In July last I heard of a number of Indians residing at a place called Kauksesauchung, more than thirty miles westward from the place where I usually preach. I visited them, found about thirty persons, and proposed my desire of preaching to them; they readily complied, and I preached to them only twice, they being just then removing from this place, where they only lived for the present, to Susquehannah river where they belonged.
While I was preaching they appeared sober and attentive; and were somewhat surprised, having never before heard of these things. There were two or three who suspected that I had some ill design upon them; and urged, that the white people had abused them, and taken their lands from them, and therefore they had no reason to think that they were now concerned for their happiness; but, on the contrary, that they designed to make them slaves, or get them on board their vessels, and make them fight with the people over the water, (as they expressed it,) meaning the French and Spaniards. However, the most of them appeared very friendly, and told me, they were then going directly home to Susquehannah, and desired I would make them a visit there, and manifested a considerable desire of farther instruction.--This invitation gave me some encouragement in my great work; and made me hope, that God designed to “open an effectual door to me” for spreading the gospel among the poor heathen farther westward.
In the beginning of October last, with the advice and direction of the correspondents for the Indian mission, I undertook a journey to Susquehannah. And after three days’ tedious travel, two of them through a wilderness almost unpassable, by reason of mountains and rocks, and two nights lodging in the open wilderness, I came to an Indian settlement on the side of Susquehannah-river, called Opeholhaupung; where were twelve Indian houses, and (as nigh as I could learn) about seventy souls, old and young, belonging to them.
Here also, soon after my arrival, I visited the king, addressing him with expressions of kindness; and after a few words of friendship, informed him of my desire to teach them the knowledge of Christianity. He hesitated not long before he told me, that he was willing to hear. I then preached; and continued there several days, preaching every day, as long as the Indians were at home. And they, in order to hear me, deferred the design of their general hunting (which they were just then entering upon) for the space of three or four days.
The men, I think universally (except one) attended my preaching. Only the women, supposing the affair we were upon was of a public nature, belonging only to the men, and not what every individual person should concern himself with, could not readily be persuaded to come and hear: but, after much pains used with them for that purpose, some few ventured to come, and stand at a distance.
When I had preached to the Indians several times, some of them very frankly proposed what they had to object against Christianity; and so gave me a fair opportunity for using my best endeavours to remove from their minds those scruples and jealousies they laboured under: and when I had endeavoured to answer their objections, some appeared much satisfied. I then asked the king if he was willing I should visit and preach to them again, if I should live to the next spring? ?He replied, he should be heartily willing for his own part, and added, he wished the young people would learn, &c. I then put the same question to the rest: some answered, they should be very glad, and none manifested any dislike to it.
There were sundry other things in their behaviour, which appeared with a comfortable and encouraging aspect; that, upon the whole, I could not but rejoice I had taken that journey among them, although it was attended with many difficulties and hardships. The method I used with them, and the instructions I gave them, I am persuaded were means, in some measure, to remove their heathenish jealousies, and prejudices against Christianity; and I could not but hope, the God of all grace was preparing their minds to receive “the truth as it is in Jesus.” If this may be the happy consequence, I shall not only rejoice in my past labours and fatigues; but shall, I trust, also “be willing to spend and be spent,” if I may thereby be instrumental “to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.”
Thus, Sir, I have given you a faithful account of what has been most considerable respecting my mission among the Indians; in which I have studied all convenient brevity. I shall only now take leave to add a word or two respecting the difficulties that attend the christianizing of these poor pagans.
In the first place, their minds are filled with prejudices against Christianity, on account of the vicious lives and unchristian behaviour of some that are called Christians. These not only set before them the worst examples, but some of them take pains, expressly in words, to dissuade them from becoming Christians; foreseeing, that if these should be converted to God, “the hope of their unlawful gain” would thereby be lost.
Again, these poor heathens are extremely attached to the customs, traditions, and fabulous notions of their fathers. And this one seems to be the foundation of all their other notions, viz. that “it was not the same God made them who made the white people,” but another, who commanded them to live by hunting, &c. and not conform to the customs of the white people.--Hence when they are desired to become Christians, they frequently reply, that “they will live as their fathers lived, and go to their fathers when they die.” And if the miracles of Christ and his apostles be mentioned, to prove the truth of Christianity; they also mention sundry miracles, which their fathers have told them were anciently wrought among the Indians, and which Satan makes them believe were so. They are much attached to idolatry; frequently making feasts, which they eat in honour to some unknown beings, who, they suppose, speak to them in dreams; promising them success in hunting, and other affairs, in case they will sacrifice to them. They oftentimes also offer their sacrifices to the spirits of the dead; who, they suppose, stand in need of favours from the living, and yet are in such a state as that they can well reward all the offices of kindness that are shown them. And they impute all their calamities to the neglect of these sacrifices.
Furthermore, they are much awed by those among themselves, who are called powows, who are supposed to have a power of enchanting, or poisoning them to death, or at least in a very distressing manner. And they apprehend it would be their sad fate to be thus enchanted, in case they should become Christians.
Lastly, The manner of their living is likewise a great disadvantage to the design of their being christianized. They are almost continually roving from place to place; and it is but rare that an opportunity can be had with some of them for their instruction. There is scarce any time of the year, wherein the men can be found generally at home, except about six weeks before, and in, the season of planting their corn, and about two months in the latter part of summer, from the time they begin to roast their corn, until it is fit to gather in.
As to the hardships that necessarily attend a mission among them, the fatigues of frequent journeying in the wilderness, the unpleasantness of a mean and hard way of living, and the great difficulty of addressing “a people of a strange language,” these I shall, at present, pass over in silence; designing what I have already said of difficulties attending this work, not for the discouragement of any, but rather for the incitement of all, who “love the appearing and kingdom of Christ,” to frequent the throne of grace with earnest supplications, that the heathen, who were anciently promised to Christ “for his inheritance,” may now actually and speedily be brought into his kingdom of grace, and made heirs of immortal glory.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient, humble servant,
From the Forks of Delaware, in
Pennsylvania, Nov. 5, 1744.
P.S. It should have been observed in the preceding account, that although the number of Indians in the place I visited on Susquehannah river, in October last, is but
A SHORT ACCOUNT OF MISSIONS. 435
small, yet their numbers in the adjacent are very considerable; who, it is hoped, might be brought to embrace Christianity by the example of others. But being at present somewhat more savage, and unacquainted with the English, than these I visited, I thought it not best to make my first attempts among them; hoping I might hereafter be better introduced among them by means of these.--Sundry of the neighbouring settlements are much larger than this: so that there are, probably, several hundreds of the Indians not many miles distant. D.B.
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