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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 twentyfive 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 seri ous 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 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 Susquahannah-river where they belonged.
While I was preaching, they appeared sober, and attentive; and where 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 Susquahannah, 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 Susquahannah. 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 Susquahannah-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 scems 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 shewn 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 powwows, who are supposed to have a power of inchanting, 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 inchanted, 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.
1 am, Sir,
Your obedient, humble Servant,
From the Forks of Delaware, in
P. S. It should have been observed in the preceding account, that although the number of Indians in the place I visited on Susquahannah-river, in October last, is but small, yet their numbers in the adjacent places 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, then 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.