Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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, wbo, 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 2 world above at a vast distance from this. The great man, be says, was clothed with the day; yea, with the brightest day he ever saw; a day of many years, yea, of ererlasting 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 was 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, be 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 bis 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 mur. der. At this he was displeased, and told the great man, he would never murder. But the great man replied, “I hare 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 pow wow 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 others 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 chusing 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, be 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 Vol. Ill.

3 L

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 powwows have upon them, either through the esteem or fear they have of them, is no small hindrance to their embracing Christianity.

To remove this difficulty, I have laboured to shew 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 inchanted and poisoned, I have endeavoured to relieve their minds of this fear, by asking them, Why their powwows did not inchant 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 powwows 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 arersion to, and prejudice against Christianity, the springs of it, and táe difficulties thence arising.

SECT. IV.

Second difficulty in converting the Indians, viz. To contey

divine truths to their understanding, and to guin their

assent.

Another great difficulty I have met with în my attempts to Christianize the Indians, has been to “ convey divine truths to their understandings, and to gain their assent to them as such.”

[ocr errors]

In the first placé, I laboured under a very great disadvantage for waht 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 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 im. portance 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 ferrency; 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 attachment 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, beaven," 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 connection 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 connection, 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 notions 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, tiat 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

« ZurückWeiter »