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Power of the gospel on savages.
In less than one year, her sister, the intimate friend whom we mentioned, and her lover, who afterwards became her husband, were all seen kneeling, weeping suppliants at the feet of Jesus. Like her they became decided and devoted followers of Christ, and to this day they ascribe their first religious impressions to the change so strikingly observable in her character.
I might fill volumes with similar facts. Taking up a work just at hand, containing - Historical Sketches of the Missions of the United Brethren," I find innumerable facts of conversion among the heathen equally in point. The same gospel, preached to the natives of South America and Labrador, to the Hottentots and Greenlanders, to the South Sea Islanders and the savages that roam our Western wilds, produces precisely the same effect.
We see the rudest and most ferocious of the Aborigines of South America, who were indeed tigers in human shape, tamed by the word of the cross, and made as meek and gentle as the lamb. One of those barbarians, after the gospel had been a while proclaimed among them, bore this testimony :
“ Having arrived at manhood, I spent many years without any knowledge of my Saviour. When I afterwards became desirous to experience what I heard, it was granted
Jesus has cleansed me in his blood, and delivered me from my disobedience. This truth, that he died and shed his blood for me, hath conquered and captivated my heart: this I can never forget; and therefore will I love him with all my soul, and daily give my whole heart to him. I fervently pray that he will keep me and never suffer me to stray from him, or lose the impression of his death and sufferings. His love to me is astonishingly great, therefore hath he drawn me to himself.” And another speaks in this manner :
66 I love
Creator with my whole heart, and I rejoice that when I leave this earth I shall go to him, and worship at his feet, who hath
deemed me from my sins in his own blood. He gives me eternal life. He knows my heart. I had gone astray from him ; but he appeared and took away my polluted, evil, and Alinty heart, and gave me a heart of flesh; for his blood hath purified and softened it. It remains indelibly impressed upon my mind that he hath shed his blood for
John, the Hottentot.
me, and hath granted me the grace that I can leave this world in assured hope, and full of joy go to him, and behold him as he is.”
The conduct and conversation of these converted pagans were every way consistent with their Christian profession; and they at last died in peace and full of joy.
Take another instance in South Africa. Among the wildest and rudest Hottentots was an old man, by the name of John, who came and heard the word of God. He did not long sit under the sound of the gospel before he began to cry aloud under a powerful sense of his sins. “ He had indeed been a notorious offender. He compared his transgressions for number to the sands of the desert, and for some time mourned bitterly on account of them. At length the love of Christ became his darling theme, and so entirely was his heart filled with the things of God, that he could scarcely speak of any thing else, while his eyes streamed with love and gratitude. When worldly business was introduced, he would say, 0, I have spoken too much about the world, let me now speak of Christ ;' and his walk and conversation were such as became his profession. After a short but lively course of five or six months, he was laid upon a sick bed, from which he never rose; but he insisted upon being carried to the place of worship, saying, “as long as he could hear, he would endeavour to catch some of the words of life.'”
Two days before his death he was troubled by doubts about his acceptance with Christ ; but on the day of his departure he joyfully burst out, when the missionary called" 0, sir, I now see that the Lord Jesus loves me with an everlasting love ; that he has accepted of me; that he will be my portion for ever; and now, though the vilest sinner on earth, I will die and go to Christ, and there I will wait for you.
I might transcribe similar accounts of conversions amid the polar regions of the north, where for many years the hearts of the inhabitants seemed as cold as the frozen soil on which they trod; but which, after a while, melted beneath the sound of Christ crucified for perishing sinners.
I will not, however, prolong this statement by adducing any more instances, save one which occurred much nearer home. The subject of divine grace to whom I allude was
History of Onim.
an Indian, by the name of Onim, living at Monsy town, who from his earliest youth had been a pagan, and an avowed enemy to Christianity. While yet a lad, he wore a tomahawk in his girdle, and when questioned what he intended to do with it, replied,
“ Cleave the missionaries' skulls for deceiving the Indians."
This hostility to the missionaries who were in his neighbourhood, he manifested on all occasions. He set himself up as a preacher of paganism, to dissuade his countrymen from embracing the Christian doctrines. He advocated all the heathen abominations, and especially that of sorcery, which he professed to practise. He ridiculed and opposed the gospel doctrine of the remission of sins, declaring that those who live according to the will of the great good Spirit would after this life go to him, but those who act differently would be banished to the haunts of the evil spirit.
His life was vicious in the extreme. He had grown old in dissipation and debauchery. On the 10th of March, 1816, having been taken ill in the neighbourhood of New Fairfield, a missionary station, he sent for a Christian Indian, who was an assistant at that mission. As he had been in this neighbourhood some time, the Christian Indians had frequently spoken to him about his immortal soul. Indeed, he had enjoyed opportunities all his life of hearing the gospel. But he had uniformly opposed, and tried to dissuade all from embracing it.
The Indian missionary, according to the request, went to his cabin, and sat down by the side of him, when Onim remarked, “A word lately spoken by one of your Christian Indians, has laid hold of my soul. I begin to be troubled in my soul, and to grow doubtful concerning my spiritual state. My constant cry is, oh for some one to show me the right way. I am in darkness and doubt. I have brought terror on my mind in being so wicked." He poke more to the same effect.
The Indian missionary thus replied : “ Thou hast now told me a great deal. I will tell thee something too. Listen to me, Onim. I well remember, ever since I was a little child, thou hast often been with the congregation of Christian Indians, always going from and coming again to us.
History of Onim.
For many years thou hast heard the gospel which we believe. But till now thou hast despised and ridiculed it, saying, “I have another way to be saved according to my creation.' But now, when thou art here in a miserable situation, lying on hard boards ; unable to help thyself ; thy little property spent in drinking ; nobody taking care of thee ; and death seeming to be at hand ; now dost thou say at last, • I have brought terror on my mind, because I have been so wicked!' that these words were but true. Would to God that thou didst but feel real anxiety about thy condition, for then thy soul might yet be saved! In the days of thy health thou hast despised and mocked at the word of God; thou hast dissuaded and prevented others who were disposed to believe; and thou hast tried to entice those away who joined the congregation. Thou hast made thy jest of the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. But know thou, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of heaven and earth, became a man : this is the truth. He suffered, was tormented to death, and shed his precious blood for the remission of sins : this is also the truth. And unless thou obtain pardon of thy many and great sins through faith in his blood, and thy heart be cleansed therewith, believe me, thou shalt after death go straightway to hell, into everlasting perdition. And there thou wilt find cause to accuse no one, neither men nor God, who made thee, but thyself, thyself alone.”.
The next day the missionary Dencke visited him, and spoke to him in the same earnest and faithful manner. He acknowledged that the sorcery which he had attempted to practise was nought but a deceit of the devil. With many tears he lamented his past wicked life, and made so affecting a confession of his faith in Jesus, that all present were melted to tears. The work of grace wrought in his heart was now most strikingly manifest. He was told that the mere rite of baptism, which he desired, could avail him nothing, unless he experienced in his heart, through faith, the purifying power of the blood of Christ. To this he replied : “ I believe, I believe! Do ye also have pity on me.'
His repentance appearing truly sincere, and his earnest request for baptism, to proceed from an ardent desire of receiving this rite as a seal of the forgiveness of his sins,
Transforming power of Christianity.
and of acceptance with God through the sacrifice of Jesus, he was baptized in the name of the holy Trinity, and called Leonard. All his former doubts and fears now vanished. He truly enjoyed the peace of God in his soul, and continued in prayer day and night, almost till he drew his last breath, exalting the mercy of his Redeemer, and inviting all to come unto him, that they might obtain pardon and remission of sin. Addressing his countrymen, he said—"Formerly I spoke evil words to you when you showed any desire to be converted, trying to dissuade you from it. Forgive me for so doing, and follow my dying advice, which is, to forsake your wicked ways, or else you will be lost. Turn to your Saviour, and experience what I now feel, and you shall live.”
What was it, I ask, that produced this wonderful change in this hardened heathen, who had gloried in persecuting and opposing Christianity. Was it the fear of death? Who ever heard of an Indian's shrinking from his fate on account of the fear of death? It is a notorious fact that in the hour of suffering and death, he will summon to his aid such iron sternness of purpose, as to allow every inch of flesh to be hewed from his bones without scarcely moving a muscle. And Onim, too, was the head and leader of a party. All his native pride was concerned in holding out against that gospel which he had opposed through life. Every native passion of his heart was arrayed against it. What could have produced this revolution in his views and feelings, and transformed the brute barbarian into a gentle, subdued, believing disciple of Christ? I answer, nothing but the power of Omnipotence.
In every one of these instances that I have mentioned, the gospel was the instrument, in the hands of God, of producing these astonishing transformations. These changes can be accounted for upon no human principles. They are occurring around us every day. And God is saying by every instance of real conversion, with just as much distinctness as though he spoke in an audible voice from hea
The religion of Jesus Christ is the religion of truth, and the allotments of every man for eternity shall be settled according to its terms.”
In this lecture I have been more diffuse and discursive than I intended, but upon the whole I do not regret that I