Cherokee Phoenix

Meetings among the Osages

Published January, 25, 1834

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Meetings among the Osages

From the Creeks we went to the Osages. We visited and held meetings in all 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 more 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 from that of last 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 convinced 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 very clearly expressed by some of the most intelligent and influential men among them. I will give you a few instances. Wau-soh-shy, the principle chief of one of the villages, is an instance. He was absent at the time of our arrival at his village, but we put up at his lodge. About an hour after our arrival, he came home. As soon as he got his supper, he told us that he was very glad to see us, and that he wished to have a great deal of talk with us about our religion. He immediately began, and in a most interesting manner. He held up six quills in his hand. One of these he placed alone. The other five he held up together. 'These five,' said he, 'are the Osage gods, the sun, the moon, the earth, thunder or the air, and the bird. Now you say these are no gods, but all of them the creatures of your God. I believe it. The Osages have worshipped these gods a long time, and they have never made us happy, they have never done us good. We have always been poor and miserable. I believe it is foolish and wicked to worship these things. I now cast away these gods.' And he flung away his five quills. He then held up the one quill and said, 'This is one God. This is your God. Now tell me who is he.' The perfections of God, as manifested in creation and providence, and as revealed in his word, were stated with particular minuteness, especially those attributes developed in the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ. 'All this,' said he, 'I understand, and it is all interesting. I believe it, but who is your God?' Another brother went over the same ground in another view, if possible, to make it more plain and more interesting. He also dwelt fully on the unity of God and the great sin of idolatry. He explained the meaning of the various names of God. When he closed, the same question, with greater earnestness was the reply of the chief, 'Who is he? Has anyone seen him?' He was answered, 'No man hath seen God. He is a Spirit, invisible to mortal eyes. His existence and his perfections are manifested by their effects, and more clearly revealed in his word. That it was unreasonable to require a sight of him before we would believe. That we all believed many things that were not obvious to our senses, that their effects fully satisfied us of their existence, and that they possessed the qualities indicated by the effects, which we beheld.' To all this, his answer was as before, 'Who is he? Has anyone seen him?' To this it was answered, 'Yes. He became flesh and dwelt among us.' A history was then given of God manifest in the flesh. 'Now,' said he, 'I am satisfied. God has been seen. When anyone asks me if the true God has ever been seen, I will tell him, yes.'