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it our duty constantly to employ the means apparently necessary to produce the glorious event.
The celebrated Apostle Eliot, and other good men, have been stimulated to great zeal in spreading the gospel among the Indians, from a belief or hope, that they are the descendents of Abram. Several plausible reasons encourage such an opinion.
"As the people of Israel were separated from all others, and the tribes kept distinct; so is it with the American Indians. Each nation has its symbol, or each tribe its badge, by which it is denominated. The Mohawks, for example, were divided into three tribes, denominated the bear, the tortoise and the wolf. Each of these tribes bore the animal for which it was called, as a coat of arms, in its banner. When Cortes and a part of his troops entered Llascala, a city of South America, the inhabitants came out to meet them, "each tribe distinct and separate; of these there were four." "The priests came with their pots of incense in loose white garments." This naturally reminds us, that when Alexander and his soldiers entered Jerusalem, two thousand years before, that the people and priests came out "to meet him, dressed in white garments."
The Indians, like the Israelites, reckon time by sleeps and moons, or lunar months and days. The Indians have their high priest and prophets. In every tribe is a high priest, and several, who are subordinate. In some tribes their dress is not unlike that of the Hebrew priests. They wear a white ephod, and a breastplate, which is formed from a conchshell. The highest council of the nation does not determine upon war, without the advice and consent of the high priest. They believe he has intercourse with God.
In the council house of certain tribes is a sacred place, resembling the holy of holies among the Jews. Here are deposited their sacred things. It is death for any to enter this holy place, except the chief warrior and high priest.
Going to war, or suffering any calamity, the Indians, like the Israelites, observe seasons of fasting and prayer. These seasons are sometimes continued seven or eight days.
In some of the tribes is kept a sacred ark, like that of Israel, in which are preserved various holy vessels. None but the chieftain of the tribe, who is the priest of war, and his servant, dare touch this sacred chest. Their enemies dare not approach it.†
As among the tribes of Israel, when a person is murdered, the nearest relation is the manslayer; but the guilty may fly to the "white towns," which are certain places of refuge, where blood is never shed.
Like the young men of Israel, the Indians give dowries for their wives. They purchase them of their fathers, sometimes they labor for them a stipulated time.
The mourning and lamentations of the Indians for their dead resemble those of Israel.
Their laws respecting females entirely resemble those of Israel; they are quite as scrupulous
Several of their traditions are evidently derived from the history of the Jewish scriptures. That they are the same people, or that they have had intercourse with them, is an opinion of intelligent missionaries.
In their discourses, like the Jews, they use many parables.
The ark in Otaheite has precisely the dimensions of that described in the Bible.'
History of America.
Like the Israelites, as their circumstances or characters change, they assume new names. Massasoit the first ally of the English in New England, was afterwards called Wosamaquen.
Some suppose they have discovered traces of the three principal Jewish festivals; the passover, the day of atonement, which commenced on the 10th of the month, and the feast of tabernacles, which began five days after. The Israelites were commanded to "make atonement for their sins once in a year, when they were to afflict their souls, and make an offering to the Lord by fire." Afterwards, having gathered in the first " fruits of the land, they kept a joyful feast unto the Lord for seven days."*
The day of atonement was a period of mortification and fasting. Then they put an end to all differences, and become reconciled to one another. In the passover no leavened bread was to be in their houses, and the Jews to this day search all corners of their houses, to see that they have none. They cleanse their houses, and furnish them with new kitchen and table furniture. They burn their leavened bread, and those moveables, which are made of metal, are put in the fire and polished.†
So our Indians, when their corn is ripe," celebrate a great festival, which continues a number of days. Having cleansed and swept their houses and streets, and furnished themselves with new clothes and new furniture, they collect their old clothes and furniture, their old corn and provision into a pile and consume them with fire. They then observe a fast of three days, denying themselves the indulgence of every appetite, and extinguishing all their fires. A general amnesty is proclaimed; criminals return home; crimes are
Levit. 23d. chap. † Leo of Modena.
absolved, and an universal reconciliation takes place. The next day after the fast is closed, the high priest kindles a new fire by rubbing dry wood together, from which every dwelling is supplied with the pure flame. The scene now changes; hilarity and pleasure reign. New corn and fruits are brought from their fields, and three days are spent in feasting, music and dancing. After this, four days are devoted to social visits among those, who had sacrificed and prepared themselves for this annual solemnity.*
From the natural application of several prophecies, to both people, some persons have supposed they were the same.
It was said to Israel, "they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; the land of your enemies shall eat you upt.'
Do not the Indians of America pine away before civilized men? Though they were millions when we were but a handful; though they were sturdy warriors; yet they continue to pine away, and the age may not be remote, when nothing but their bones may remain as proofs of their existence. It was also prophecied of Israel, that they should in Egypt be offered for sale, and few or none should buy them. This was literally verified in the early wars of New England with the savages. The prisoners were frequently sent up the Mediterranean to be sold for slaves, yet few were disposed to purchase them.
The resemblance of the Indian language to the Hebrew has been thought to identify the people. There is not only a remarkable analogy between many Indian and Hebrew words, but the Indi
ans, like the Hebrews, express their pronouns by prefixes, and suffixes.*
How far some of these circumstances are common to all nations, who approximate to the same state of society, or how far they may be characteristics of the same people, I presume not to offer an opinion. The subject is curious, and deserves further investigation."+ ¶
Many tribes on the Amazon practise circumcision.
Doctor Wheelock had enemies, who opposed his measures, who contemned his plans, and seemed envious at the splendor of his fame. By them he was severely reproached, if any thing appeared amiss in his arrangements. Conscious of his integrity and sincere desire to promote the good of mankind; strong in the general approbation of the public, he met opposition with some impatience. Those enemies sometimes felt the severity of his rebukes. To the friends of his benevolent plans he was ardently attached as to the friends of truth and goodness. So strong were his convictions that the cause in which he was engaged was the cause of God, that he could not help considering all opposers as the enemies of God and religion. So confident was he of success that he cheerfully devoted his whole life to the single object of instructing the heathen.
Possessing strong passions he was most cordial in his friendship, and unwearied in assisting those of whose piety he had a favorable opinion. Of an open and frank disposition, he was unsuspicious, and in some instances was imposed on by the artful. Though sometimes severe in his resentment toward those, who were vicious or re
* Dr. Edwards.
Mather, Megapolensis, a Dutch missionary, Adair, Roger Williams, Eliot, &c. &c.
¶ Dr. Parish's Modern Geography.