THE DUTIES OF CHRISTIANS TOWARDS THE ABORIGINES OF THIS COUNTRY
Certain measures recently adopted by our General government, disclose a policy that is replete with danger to the interests of religion among the aborigines of this country, and a cloud is thus thrown over a fair prospect of the ultimate civilization and conversion of nearly 500,000 souls. With such consequences before our eyes, there is no exaggeration in saying that it is the solemn duty of our country to make united, earnest and immediate effort to avert the dangers which are thickening around the Indian population, within our borders. Is the inquiry made, what shall Christians do? What efforts can they make? The answer is obvious. Let correct views of this subject be diffused over the length and breath of the whole land. Let ten thousand 'winged messengers' of the press be sent forth. Something in this way has already been done and well done. The able numbers of Wm. Penn, now publishing, meet with a wide circulation. Circulate them still more widely. Let addresses also be made to assembled multitudes in those halls which first echoed to the accents of liberty. Let the pulpit speak. It never spake in a holier cause. When every city, town, village, house and heart is formed and aroused, and the whole population of the land becomes penetrated with a sense of duty, and fully determined to do justice to the Indians, let a memorial to our national legislature be draughted, stating in strong, firm, and respectful language, the views and feelings of every American Christian and philanthropist.
While these exertions are made, it may not be forgotten that missionaries and converts are in the field whose hands need our aid and whose hearts need our sympathies and our encouragement. They shall secure our aid, our sympathies, and our hearty encouragement. We will bid them behold examples of those Apostles of the Indians, whose footsteps they are pursuing. We will tell them to persevere, and soon they will reap a like reward.
Another duty which devolves upon Christians in this country, is fervent intercession. There is One who will listen to the prayer of the most unworthy individual, and will He not bow down his ear to the united supplication of American Christians when their hands are raised in earnest entreaty for wretched Indians? Every Christian in American (sic) is called, when he kneels in his closet, and when he mingles in the hallowed devotions of the monthly concert, to pray for that much injured race; and let no one refrain from supplication till the almighty appear clothed with deliverance.
If any one objects that this is doing too much for a few Indians, I ask, is it then too much to be done for 500,000 souls? Is there any touch of nature in us? Have we any sympathy for suffering humanity? And shall we not feel and act and pray when we see the wretched condition of so many immortal beings? Do not the wrongs which have been heaped on the Indians for 200 years call in notes of thunder for reparation? Or is it so, that we have never taken unjust possession of their lands? never corrupted them with our vices? never plunged them by thousands in the burning lake of intemperance? never been grossly unfaithful to their immortal souls? Oh my country, would that thou were not crimsoned with this guilt! But my country is guilty; her garments are stained with blood, and unless accumulating wrath be averted, there will be a day of retribution.
Another view of this subject is, that in reference to aborigines of this country, a crisis has arrived. In a few months the halls of congress will become and arena on which will be agitated one of the most momentous questions that ever came before a national council. Shall the Cherokees be removed from their lands? A question that ultimately affects not one alone, but every tribe within our limits. On the one side, there is wealth, power, interest, talent, and an unyielding determination to effect its object. On the other there is Justice. But will the Indian find an advocate? Christians, he extends his imploring hands to you; he says, 'Remove us from our cultivated lands and we shall again roam the desert. Seperate (sic) us from the place where we have learned heavenly wisdom, and our children will live and die ignorant of the blessings of Christianity. Let us remain in this land of our fathers with our schools and our beloved missionaries.' Tell me, Christians, shall the Indian find an Advocate? Do to him as you would wish him to do to you. Do as Mayhew, as Elliot, as Brainerd would do. Remove the Indians now, and how long will it be ere another wave of population sweep them to the Rocky Mountains? How long ere successive removals extinguish the light of Christianity, that now shines among them? How long ere the whole race become extinct? The ancient churches which once flourished among them are not; and of the 2,000,000 which once lived within our limits 1,500,000, and many intermediate generations, have perished in the pit which civilized man has dug for them. Those who now remain are melting away like snow flakes that fall into the waters of the Mississippi. If Christians do not make immediate efforts to save them, their days will soon be numbered. Their last family will soon take refuge in the declivities of the Rocky Mountains! One by one will that family perish. The last survivor, standing on those mountains and looking down on millions then beneath him, will say, 'Woe to the government of this country! for the violation of its faith, pledged in solemn treaties. Woe to the inhabitants of this land, of their lust of dominion, and fraud and oppression! Woe, to the Christians of this country, for their neglect of the souls of Indians!'
Jour. of Humanity.