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Saturday, February 3, 1821.
For the Christian Herald. BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. DAVID ZEISBERGER, Sen. For sixty-two years a faithful Missionary among the North Ameria
(Continued from p. 653.) The indians on the Ohio began their murderous enterprises again in the spring of 1763, and the missionary plan was thereby thwarted; before, however, these commotions had obtained a general spread, Zeisberger paid two visits to the Indians at Machwihilusing, which proved a great blessing to them. There he convinced the singular Indian teacher, Papunhank, of his errors in doctrine, and won him to the faith in Jesus. The happy stir which was occasioned by Zeisberger's discourses in this place, was universal. Many wept day and night for the forgive ness of their sins. The heads of families at last agreed solemnly to request the brethren at Bethlehem to send them a teacher, who should live with them and preach the gospel to them. With this commission Zeisberger returned delighted to Bethlehem with his companion, where, after mature consideration, it was thought most advisable that he should again repair to Machwihilusing, and for the present, reside there as a missionary. He soon set out upon his journey, with joy.
One day, when he was going to fasten his hut for the night, he cut his foot, and fainted away. An Indian assistant who accompanied him, immediately procured an herb, well known to him, applied it to the wound, and Zeisberger not only recovered from the swoon, but the wound itself healed with an inconceive able rapidity. After a tedious journey, amid rain and snow, thundergusts and storms, through swamps and swollen rivulets, through almost impenetrable forests, they arrived safely at Machwihilusing--were heartily welcomed by Papunhank and the rest, and Zeisberger found the people still hungering as much for that word which declares the love of God, as when he had left them. In a short time, the word of the cross reached Papunhank's heart in such a powerful manner, that he humbly and urgently begged to be baptized. Zeisberger baptized these first fruits of Machwihilusing with the tenderest emotions of his heart, and under such an overpowering sense of the presence of God, that the whole assembly were quite overcome by it. But he could not
long continue his labours here. Every where the peaceable Indians were oppressed by those of their countrymen who had sided with the enemies of the British government, and therefore were compelled to look for an asylum among the white people. But among the latter there were many who, from a blind zeal against the Indian nations in general, were so resolutely bent upon their destruction, that government had to take effective measures for their safety. Thus it happened that almost the whole Indian congregation was under the protection of government for two years, upon an island in the Delaware, and afterwards in the barracks at Philadelphia. Under these circumstances Zeisberger every where lent them his most faithful assistance.
The peace with the Indians being again restored, and Zeisberger having at that time no regular vocation, he moved with the Indian congregation and their labourer to the Susquehannah, where the town of Friedenshûtten (peace-cabins) was begun. The tediousness of this journey may be gathered from the following circumstances. Full five weeks were required to travel that route, which in later years could be done in four days; for frequently they had to cut their way through the woods a great distance; in a swampy forest they found the water two feet deep, and on the hills lay a snow eighteen inches in depth. Trees were cut down in order to erect a temporary bridge across high water creeks, and that often at several places, in hopes of succeeding at one or the other. The strong current, however, carried the trees along with it, and at last the travellers were compelled to work a canoe out of a large tree, by means of which the people, horses, and baggage, were by degrees, with much ado, got over. Frequently, after a troublesome day's journey, there was not a sufficient stock of provisions left, and some of the brethren had first to try and procure some game.
Shortly after their arrival at their new station, Zeisberger went on two different expeditions on business, for the Indian congrega. tion. The great council of the Six Nations did not like to see the establishment of the Christian Indians at Friedenshûtten, but intended to draw them to Cayuga Lake, having all the while the dissolution of the Indian congregation in view. The first journey he undertook to Cayuga in April, and the second in October 1766, to Onondago. They both had a successful termination, and brother Zeisberger's remonstrances had such a good effect, that the brethren obtained lawful permission to preach the gospel in what is properly called the Indian country. During the same year, Zeisberger had the happiness to baptize the first fruits of the Nanticoke nation, at Friedenshütten. In the autumn of the following year, he undertook a journey to the Ohio in the neighbourhood of which, Indians that were anxious to hear the gospel, were reported to be living. On this journey he had to cross, with his companions, long prairies, which were overgrown with grass and weeds, higher than the head of a rider. Whenever this happened to be wet with the rain or dew, our travellers were completely drenched; and of such prairies they met a great number. They also came into such parts, where, according to the asserlions of the Indians, no white man had ever been seen. The farther they proceeded, the more dreary they found the wilderness, through which they dragged themselves with incredible labour, and after a march of four days through such a country, they found the first hut in the woods, in which they took up their night's lodging; for, so far, they had always slept in the open air, wrapped themselves up in their blankets, and suffered a great deal from almost incessant rains.
* See Loskiel's History of the Missions of the United Brethren in North America. 1763-66.
Hereupon entering a Seneca village, the appearance of a white man, to which the inhabitants had been unaccustomed before, created much surprise. A Seneca man immediately mounted his horse and gallopped off into the next largest village, about 30 miles distant, in order to apprize the chief there of the news. Zeisberger accordingly expected a singular reception there ; and, indeed, upon his arrival at the village, he was received by the chief rather in a surly manner. His friendly behaviour, however, prevailed so far, that the chief led him into his house and gave him something to eat. A conversation of two hours then ensus ed, in which the chief testified his surprize at his arrival, as no white man had ever come that way, and would precisely learn the object of his journey. The missionary embraced the favourable opportunity to preach the gospel to him ; but the chief strenuously maintained that such a word of God did not suit at all for the Indians. To that Zeisberger made such an emphatic reply, that the chief at last gave way, became quite sociable, and confessed that he had taken him to be a spy of the white people, and for that reason had at first spoken so harshly; but now, be. ing convinced of the rectitude of his intentions, he would not hinder the further prosecution of his journey to Goshgoshûnk, but cautioned him rather anxiously, not to trust the inhabitants of that place, since they were reported not to have their equals in iniquity and murderous devices. Zeisberger declared to him that these people, if such were their case, had the greater need of hearing ihe word of their Redeemer; and that, at all events, he feared them not, because without the will of God they could do him no harm.
At Goshgoshûnk, a Delaware town, much to his surprise, he and his companions were welcomed in an affectionate manner, and hospitably entertained by a relation of the national assistant, John Papunhank, who was one of the party. Zeisberger now got the inhabitants of the town, which consisted of three villages, to assemble together, because he had to tell them "some words.?'
Being assembled, Zeisberger witnessed an evangelical testimony to the truth, before them, which made such an impression upon them, that they passed the resolution in their great council
, to request the brethren to send a stated preacher among them. With this petition Zeisberger returned to Friedenshûtten.
The expectation being thus raised, that something might be effected in the Saviour's cause in this part of the country, the Directors at Bethlehem resolved, that the brethren, Zeisberger and Gottlob Senseman, together with some Indian families, should move from Friedenshûtten to Goshgoshûnk, in order to begin a missionary establishment there. In pursuance of this resolution, the two above mentioned brethren entered upon the journey in April, 1768, and the brethren Ettwein, Heckwelder and a third anonymous person travelled in their company, and partly for their assistance, to Wajomick, where the Indian families were to join them. This company were in great danger of losing their lives, together with their landlord, in a shocking manner, the first night of their stay at Wajomick. This event is related by the afore-mentioned brother Heckwelder,* as follows :-" The only white man at Wajomick, a trader by the name of Ogden, entertained us hospitably, and did what he could to make our stay with him as agreeable as possible, particularly so, as the Indians who were expected from Friedenshûtten had not yet arrived. The dwelling of this man consisted of two small buildings adjoining each other. In the one his goods were stored for sale ; in the other several kegs of powder were deposited. He slept in the storeroom, from which a door opened into the powder magazine; another opened into it from the outside. A change of weather threatening to come on, he prepared a couch of dry straw, or hay, for us in his powder magazine, requesting us, in the most friendly terms, on no account to smoke tobacco in the apartment, not only because some grains of powder might lie scattered upon the floor, but chiefly because some of the kegs were opened. It being bed time, Mr. Ogden placed a lighted candle in his store, in such a direction that it could throw sufficient light through the middle door, left open for that purpose, till we should have retired to rest. The above-mentioned anonymous person, however, wished to have the candle placed nearer to him, in order to inspect and bind up his lacerated feet. The landlord, and the rest of us, represented to him the danger to which he would expose himself and us; but he ceased not to plead for it, promising neither to bring the candle in contact with the straw nor to blow it out, but to leave it standing on the doorsill, and then to extinguish it on the outside of the house. Mr.
* Rev. John Heckwelder, of Bethlehem, who has published “A Narrative of the Mission of the United Brethren among the Delaware and Mohigan Indians, &c." to which is prefixed a striking likeness of the venerable missionary David Zeisberger, and to whom the Translator is indebted for the greater part of this biograpby.
Ogden at last gave way to his request, and then shut the middle door. We now lay down, after having once more earnestly charged this brother to be careful with the light. We soon fell asleep, and he too was overpowered by sleep, before he had extinguished the light.
Next morning brother Zeisberger awaked me, and took me alone with him into the woods. He there drew the candle out of his pocket, and imparted to me, in confidence, what he would reveal to no soul besides, saying—If in the preceding night we had not had an invisible watchman with us, we should all have been blown to atoms, and no soul could have known how it happened! I was fast asleep, for I was tired, and in my first doze: suddenly I felt a shock, as though somebody was forcibly rousing me. I jumped up, and lo! the candle was burnt down on one side, and just on the point of dropping in a blaze on the straw. To prevent which accident there was but one moment left. From that instant I could sleep no longer; for one chill after the other thrilled through my veins ! Thanks be to our Lord for this extraordinary preservation of our lives !!"
Although their journey lasted almost 5 weeks, still it terminated successfully. At Goshgoshûnk the new comers were receiv. ed with almost universal joy. Zeisberger preached often, in, stituted daily morning and evening worship, and sang such hymns with them as had been translated into the Delaware language, , and were a novelty to his hearers there. Soon, however, a spirit inimical to the gospel, began to manifest itself among some of them; and the brethren at that time (according to their expression) felt as though they had to breathe a dense and oppressive air; for they saw themselves surrounded by men who obviously plotted their ruin. One evening they had a very unwelcome visit frem some sayages, whom a murderous spirit had propelled thither, but who yet did not venture to execute their evil design. The brethren would not quit their post on account of these commotions; nor did they discontinue the preaching of the gospel : Zeisberger, in particular, remained resolutely determined boldly to preach the word of life, notwithstanding the excessive rage of the enemy, and leave the preservation of his life to that Lord whose servant he was.
In October of the same year, (1768) he took a journey of three weeks with brother Senseman to Zoneshio, to the hostile Seneca chief, in order to give him and his council a correct idea concerning their living, and their labours among the Indians on the Ohio. But the council at Zoneshio only replying to the message, and the hostile chief, upon whose verdict in this case the business mostly depended, not being at home, the affair was still left undecided, and the journey of the brethren, connected with so many hardships, proved fruitless.
In 1769 the powers of darkness rose up against them with re