« PrejšnjaNaprej »
portance; 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 shew 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 beart, strength, and mind;" shew them the reasonableness of loving him who has made, preserved, and dealt bountifully with us: and then labour to shew 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 shew 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 suf ferings, arising from the dignity and excellency of his person, than to shew 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 might properly be added here: but what has VOL. III.
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 smoak and cinders, as well as unspeakably filthy; which has many times thrown me into violent sick head-achs.
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 Crosweeksung, in New-Jersey. And the Indians in the latter of these provinces, with whom I have latterly 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.