Abbildungen der Seite

uneasy, when their bodies are in perfect health. I then observe 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 shewing 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 Bature 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 allsufficiency 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 Joss 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 shew them, the necessity of an almighty Saviour to deliver us from this 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 tbeir 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 Heathen: to illustrate them by easy and natural similitudes : to obviate or answer the objections they are disposed to make against tbe 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 inethod 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, figlit 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


and sinful. And the children having never learned these things, they must have beea 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 cbildren 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 tbem 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 deprarity 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 niade, 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 difficultv; 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 then) — 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 beha-* viour 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 theun 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


3 M

« ZurückWeiter »