« PrejšnjaNaprej »
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 NewJersey, 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 shew 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 press them without delay, to betake themselves to him, under a sense of their misery and undone state, for relief and everlasting salvation.— And to shew 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 shew 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 shewed 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 continued strain of gospelinvitation to perishing souls, to come empty and naked, weary and heavy laden, and cast themselves upon him.
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 expostu late 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 inyself 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 shew 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, 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 dis-. course 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 VOL. III, 3 G
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 graceupon 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 shew 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 vices 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,