Communication from Mr. Washburn,
dated May 18, 1832
RELIGIOUS MEETINGS AT DWIGHT.
This mission has presented many facts of common interest for more than a year past, as will be seen by recurring to p. 220 of the last volume, p. 182 of the present year, 'c.
I returned on the 5th inst. from an useful tour amongst the Cherokees, Creeks, and Osages. I shall in this communication give you some account of our meeting with these Indians, and the prospect of spiritual good among them. The first meeting was held here. It began Friday and continued till Sabbath evening. Mr. Dodge from Boudinot, Messrs. Vaill and Montgomery from Union, Mr. Palmer from Fairfield, and Mr. Newton from Forks of Illinois were present, and all took in the public exercises of the meeting. A large congregation for this place were present. A prayer meeting was held each morning at sunrise. The regular public exercises commenced at 10 o'clock A.M.. Two sermons were preached and interpreted in the forenoon and two in the afternoon. About half of the prayers ' singing were in the Cherokee language. In the evening a meeting for prayer and extortion was held. On the Sabbath the Lord's supper was administered. Before the meeting commenced it was evident that many in our family and in the neighborhood around us, were under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This indeed has been the case for more than a year. At the very opening of the meeting there was a feeling in almost every heart that God was in the midst of us.- Christians were more humble in their confession of sin, more deeply penetrated with a sense of their unworthiness, and of the presence of a holy God, were more affected with the guilt and anger of sinners, and felt stronger desires for their salvation, and rested with a simpler and stronger faith on the divine promises.- We trust they prayed in faith. Several, who before had indulged a tremendous and doubting hope, were brought to a fuller submission to God, to a single and entire trust in Christ, and of course, to a clearer and more joyful hope. The awakened were brought to a clearer sense of their guilt and felt the duty of repentance. Whether any, if any, how many yielded their hearts to Christ, I cannot say. Of some, we hope they did.-- Those who came to the meeting careless could not avoid a solemn sense of the realities of religion, and we hope some such will indeed henceforward, 'seek first the kingdom of God.'-- More than forty persons came to the anxious seats requesting the prayers of God's people. Of some of these we indulged hope previous to this meeting, and several more gave us reason to hope before its close. The day of judgment alone will disclose the results of this meeting; but we doubt not its influence will be long felt in this nation.
Meeting at the Forks of Illinois.-- From Dwight. Mr. Dodge and myself accompanied Mr. Newton to the Forks of Illinois. We spent one day in the neighborhood and on Bayon Menard, near Cantonment Gibson. The day was devoted to family visiting. At sunrise we went to the house of one of the female members of our church, whose husband has been a long time serious. The family, with the servants and a few neighbors, who were occasionally there, made up a little congregation . A hymn was sung and prayer was offered. The presence of the Holy Spirit was very obvious. Not a soul was indifferent. After two prayers and three exhortations, another hymn was given out before the closing prayer. The hymn was 'the successful resolve,' beginning, 'Come, humble sinner.' Before reading the hymn it was proposed that every one present who did then make the resolution expressed in the hymn, should stand while singing. The hymn was then read. When the reader came to the stanza beginning, 'Perhaps he will admit my plea.' the husband before alluded to, whose emotions during all the exercises had been very deep arose, and when the hymn was sung, every soul present arose, and at the close every one dropped upon their knees while one lead in prayer, expressive of our application to Christ as our only refuge, and of our determination to trust only in him. I trust every Christian did go to Jesus and surrender himself wholly to him. That anxious husband we hope was one of them.-- Since then his hope in Christ has been constant; clear and joyful. Impressions were then made on several that we trust will be permanent. Three other meetings were held in the course of the day, similar to the preceding. In all of them, there was deep and solemn feeling, and from that time a revival has been manifestly in progress in that neighborhood. Several of the full Cherokees have expressed a hope of salvation, and others are anxiously enquiring. Mr. Newton's prospects of usefulness are very encouraging.- We spent the night on Bayon Menard with a hospitable family, with whom we had religious exercises, singing exhortations and prayer. In the morning we rode to the garrison. At 10 o'clock a meeting was holden at that place. Most of the officers, with their ladies and all the privates who were off duty, attended. I have never witnessed a more respectful attention to the word of God. If the army were furnished with chaplains of the right character, there is reason to hope that great good might be done. If a healthful, moral influence could proceed from the military post in the Indian country, these posts would become important auxiliaries to missionary efforts for the improvement of the aborigines. Such as influence, it is reasonable to expect, might be secured, if the army were supplied with pious, faithful and laborious chaplains.
Meeting among the Creek Indians.- In the evening after the meeting at the garrison, all our party met at Dr. Weed's in the Creek country. During the three following days, the last of which was the Sabbath,we held religious meetings among the Creeks. The meetings were held in a grove, where a rude kind of pulpit had been erected and logs placed in the form a square served the congregation for seats. The number of persons collected, especially on the Sabbath, was very considerable.--Great seriousness and good attention were manifested. The work of God was steadily advanced during the last year. Nearly forty persons came forward to the anxious seats. The number of communicants on the Sabbath was about sixty. The religious prospects of the Creeks are very encouraging. A revival has been steadily in progress for more than two years, and there is no apparent abatement of the work at this time. They have however suffered for want of a resident missionary. The brethren of Union Mission have done what they could, but this has, of necessity been little, in comparison with the wants of the people.
One great error in Indian missions has been to go over too much ground at once __e the number of missionaries has been so small, that in order to extend their labors to the whole tribe,none have been instructed with that minuteness and to that extent which is necessary to the formation of the Christian character in all its symmetry and perfection .
Meeting among the Osages.- From the Creeks we went to the Osages. We visited and held meetings in their villages except two. We also held meetings at Union. At Hopefield we had a promiscuous congregation of males and females, old and young, at the other villages we had separate meetings. One congregation was composed exclusively of men, another of women and girls, and a third of boys. In general there was much willingness to attend meeting, and much better attention to preaching than last year. There is a considerably extensive conviction on the minds of the Osages, that their old superstitions and religious ceremonies are useless, foolish, and wicked.--This conviction added to the interested attentions given by many to preaching, satisfied us that, if they could be steadily assailed by divine truth, there is as much encouragement to labor for them as for any other people.
The different reception given to us this year, the access granted us to different classes, and the greater interest manifested in the truths of the gospel, are all the effects of divine truth. It is true we found no one convicted fully of sin, no one anxiously inquiring after the way of salvation, but we did find several that expressed a conviction that their system of idolatry and superstition was sinful, that it provoked God, and was the cause of their poverty and misery, that they never would be happy and prosperous till they embraced the true religion. This was clearly expressed by some of the most intelligent and influential men among them.--Miss. Her.