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injurious to their health and dispositions. They are exceedingly averse to discipline and restraint; and have, therefore, generally given over the pursuit, before they had finished a regular course of education. The discrimination between them and others, consists essentially in habits and dispositions, rather than original genius. No greater difference in genius, between them and others exists, than what is generally observable, between children of the same or different families.
The journals of Doctor Wheelock's missionaries, and others, would furnish volumes to prove the good abilities of Indians. Some of the principal persons in this country have been called repeatedly to meet in council with them on national concerns. They have always borne testimony to the deep penetration, manly sentiments, and forcible eloquence of their leading men. King Hendric, formerly Sachem of the Mohawks, was, in the opinion of the best judges, a man of uncommonly bright genius and sound judgment. He undoubtedly possessed a degree of wisdom and sublimity of thought beyond the common lot of men. Good Peter, of Oneida, was known and universally respected as a man of superior powers of mind, and goodness of heart.* Other instances might be mentioned of Indians distinguished for various talents. In the early settlement of New England, under the instruction of the venerable Eliot, the Mahews, and others, several Indians became judicious and eminent preachers of the gospel. Several causes have operated to impede their progress in learning, and to counteract the efforts to civilize them. A love of ease, an aversion to those mental and bodily labors, which are the price of civilization,
A good likeness of this worthy Chief may be seen in Mr. Stuard's Museum, Hartford,
is a powerful obstacle to their improvement. Hunger and revenge are with them, the most powerful springs of action. In addition to their indolence, their country seems to invite them to a vagrant, savage life. The widely extended forests, lakes, and rivers of this continent, at some seasons, afford them a plentiful supply of food, procured by the pleasing amusements of fishing and hunting. Of the same tendency is their ignorance of individual property, their unbounded love of liberty, their ardent passion for war, which opens to them the only door of honor or distinction in their tribe; their jealousy of the whites, that they secretly design to subdue their spirits and enslave them by every apparent attempt for their civilization; their pride of spirit, which disdains the toils of the English, and feels superior to us in wisdom, fortitude, and felicity. They of course appear to feel no emotions of envy, witnessing our advantages. Nearly all these obstacles to their civilization, impede their conversion to christianity. To these we may add their constitutional and ungovernable thirst for ardent spirits; the profane and heathenish lives of nominal christians, who traffic with them or live on their borders, and what is more than all the rest, the amazing opposition of the natural heart to the holy doctrines and duties of the christian religion. Formidable as these hinderances are, the power of divine grace has in many instances overcome them. Many of them have enlisted under the banner of the cross, and proved themselves the faithful friends of Jesus. Christ.
Those attempts to civilize them have been most successful, which have been accompanied with charitable aids, particularly bread and clothing, to render them comfortable. About the
year 1793, the government of the United States adopted the humane plan of conciliating the friendship of the Indians on our borders, by pursuing this mode. They furnished different tribes with some of the most necessary implements of husbandry and domestic manufactures. They employed skilful men to instruct them in their use, and to labor for them at the expence of government. Individual states have adopted a similar plan respecting the tribes, which inhabit their borders; annual pensions have been allowed them by some of the States. The consequences have been happy. Peace has reigned in all our new and distant settlements; the Indians begin to realize the advantages of social life, and of their alliance with us. How happy would it have been, if according to the spirit of the gospel, the money, which has been expended in war for their destruction, had been employed to render them wiser and better. These good beginnings seem to be preparing the gospel to be introduced among numerous tribes. At the southard, the Rev. Gideon Blackburn of Maryville, Tennessee, has had very considerable success among the Cherokees. In a letter to President Wheelock he writes, that the prospect of christianizing the nation is encouraging; that difficulties formerly in the way are in a great measure removed; that a pretty strong desire to practise the customs, and learn the language of our people, prevails among the Chiefs of the nation. He has established two schools among them; the children make laudable progress, the adults are friendly and attentive; the pious and charitable have contributed large sums to carry on the work; the friends of Zion rejoice in the pleasing prospect. The agents of government among the Indians confirm these things in their
official reports. They also certify that they are satisfied with their donations; that they have already made some progress in agriculture and inferior manufactures.
The vast country of Louisiana opens a boundless field of labor for the conversion of the heathen. All the tribes from the Mississippi to the Pacific are friendly to us. Some of their chiets have visited our principal towns, and are satisfied with their treatment. Seldom has the christian world seen a more animating prospect of extending the light of the gospel among pagans, than is here presented.
As it is the will of God that Kings and Presidents should be the nursing fathers of his church; as the most renowned conquerors and rulers of the earth, Alexander the Great, Cyrus, Constantine, Theodosius, and many others, have rendered immense services to the church of God; so is it the prayer and hope of the religious public, that our general government, may furnish means for the instruction of Indian youth, by establishing schools in all their principal villages, under the care of pious teachers; and may societies for the propagation of the gospel send faithful missionaries to lead them in the way to eternal life.
Although missionary and other charitable soeties, have not, in times past, met with all that success which they expected; yet it is a consolation that great benefits have accrued to the new formed settlements of white people, by means of their faithful missionaries. Numerous churches have been gathered and organized, the ordinances administered, the gospel preached with success, destitute settlements united and established in religious order. But the good effects of this christian philanthropy are not confined to the
borders of the United States. The society in Scotland for propagating christian knowledge, have been wonderfully successful in conveying the knowledge of the gospel to the rude and unenlightened tribes, who reside in the distant Highlands and Islands of that country. The education of the rising generation, in the principles of religion and the useful sciences is the chief object of that respectable society. About sixteen thousand children and youth are now instructed gratis by the masters whom they employ, and thirteen of their missionaries itinerate to preach the everlasting gospel to those poor destitute people. As it pleases God to bless the means for perpetuating the knowledge of the gospel among the descendents of his own covenant people, it is no doubt our duty to persevere in the same work among the heathen. The precious fruit may hereafter appear. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withoid not thy hand, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper either this or that. Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days." It would be important to introduce civilization and religion among the Indians, were no other advantage to result, than making them peaceable neighbors; but when we look forward to the eternal world we are lost in calculating the importance of the event; we are assured that the conversion of one soul is of infinite moment; it causes joy in heaven among the angels of God.
The conversion of the pagan world is established by the irreversible decrees of heaven; the time and the means are equally determined. Without doubt those means are the faithful labors of christian missionaries, accompanied with the prayers of the church. Though the season of their receiving the gospel is with God, yet is