Cherokee Phoenix


Published August, 26, 1829

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In the last number of the Religious Intelligencer we find the following extract of a letter to the editor of that paper from the Rev. Loring S. Williams, one of the missionaries of the American Board among the Choctaws. It describes a scene 'more interesting' as Mr. W. says, 'than has ever been witnessed among the aborigines of our country since the days of Brainerd.'

The cloud of mercy that seemed to hang over us for a time, which at first was no larger than a man's hand, has at length begun to pour down a most refreshing sower. It is indeed a rain of righteousness; and this hither to very dry and barren waste begins to 'bud and blossom as the rose.' It is all of God, and we would give him all the glory; and we hope our Christian friends will join us in rendering thanksgiving and praise to him who is worthy;for his mercy endureth forever. Two weeks ago a general meeting was held in the woods, about 15 miles from May Hew, which continue three days. It was attended by brethren from different stations, and by some clergy men and Christian friends from Mississippi and Alabama. I suppose there were not more than 200 Choctaws present; yet, of this number, 18 adults entered into solemn covenant with God's people, and enjoyed for the first time the sealing ordinance of the Gospel. Col. Folsom, the principal chief of this district,with three of his brothers, were of this number. Two white men, hired laborers in the mission, also united with the church at that time. These persons dated their convictions principally from impressions received at a meeting similar to this some months ago. We have had an intimate acquaintance with them all, and could not hesitate in receiving them into the bosom of the church, as most hopeful subjects of renewing grace. But I must add, what calls for devout ' incessant thanksgiving to God, that about eighty others of this people were awakened to a sense of their sins and danger, and took the 'anxious seat,' besides three or four white men and as many blacks. There was a shaking among the dry bones, and the ground was bedewed with tears of repentance. Some trembled like a leaf shaken by the wind; many wept and sobbed with groaning that cannot be uttered. All were solemn. All the clergymen and Christian friends who witnessed the scene, felt that it was the Lord by his Holy Spirit. There was an overpowering, an irresistible evidence of this. Here were seen very aged Indians of both sexes-(one woman a hundred years old,) middle-aged, youth, and children, flocking, as clouds, and doves to their windows, to the place appointed for those who wished to be on the Lord's side. It was at several times during the meeting that they came forward; sometimes an individual, then another, or perhaps two or three, and more at a time. Among these were three or four 'captains' or petty chiefs. One very aged chief who was awakened last winter, found peace with God at this time; as did some others who had been serious for some time. Others since the meeting, after a season of great distress, have been filled with comfort-a new song has been put into their mouths, even praise to our God. The preaching at this meeting was partly through interpreters (one of whom was hopefully converted ere the meeting closed) partly by some brethren who could preach in Choctaw without an interpreter,but chiefly by converted Indians themselves. Yes; verily the Lord Jesus is raising up a people here to show forth his praise. the king was apparently filled with the Spirit, and eminently assisted in dispensing those truths which have become so sweet to his own soul. Most of the new members exhorted and prayed with much feeling. Oh such a wrestling in prayer, such a yearning over sinners,such floods of tears, I myself never witnessed in any land; and I suppose that a scene more interesting on the whole, has never been witnessed among the Aborigines of our country, since the days of Brainerd. I am permitted also through abounding grace, to add, that since the meeting I have been trying to describe, another in some respects more deeply interesting, has been held at the station called Hebron, when nearly 40 more persons took the anxious seats. This number constituted quite a majority of these present, who had not been previously awakened. The chief of this place has been, until very recently exceedingly hardened; spending his Sabbaths in gambling with his people, within half a mile of the Gospel. We hope he is now decidedly pious. He prays, and weeps, and pleads, as a dying man, with his people; and it is not in vain. Great indeed is the moral change among this people. Behold what hath God wrought. The station named Ai-ik-hunnah where I reside, has been highly favored since early in the winter. Several of the Indians who joined two weeks since were from that settlement. Several others near the station, are we hope not far from the kingdom of God. The converts, and awakened persons are scattered over a considerable extent of country, under the jurisdiction of Col. Folsom. But we are made glad also with the prospects before our brethren in the South part of the nation. The word dispensed has not been in vain. Our brethren there have long sown in tears, but they are now beginning to reap in joy. Some few individuals have been recently awakened, and may now be called a praying people. their chief also, is at least friendly, if not (as it is hoped he is) really seeking the salvation of his soul. So that the three kings or principal chiefs of this nation are standing in defence of the Gospel.

The letter concludes with the earnest entreaty that Christians of every denomination would pray for the missionaries that they may be humble, prudent and faithful, and for the Indians,many thousands of whom are still groping in Heathen darkness.