NATHANIEL WILLIS PROPRIETOR AND PUBLISHER, CONGRESS-STREET, BOSTON, MASS.
No. 23- Vol. VI. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1821.
Biography of Rev. D. Zeisberger,
For sixty-two years a faithful Missionary
among the North American Indians.
Translated from the German.
[David Zeisberger, Sen. was born April 11, 1721,at Zauchtenthal in Moravia. He received his education at Hernhuth, and was taken by Count Zinzendorf to Holland in 1736. Not satisfied with his situation there, he passed over to England, and thence under the patronage of Gen. Oglethorpe, to Georgia, where he found his parents, brethren, and sisters. In 1740, it seems his attention was more than before turned to the subject of religion, though he had ever been circumspect and conscientious.-We give the remainder of his history entire from the Christian Herald.]
In 1743, Count Zinzendorf being on the eve of his departure from America to Europe, this was thought to be the most suita- ble opportunity for Z. to return to his native country. Contrary to his inclination, and out of mere obedience, he complied, and went with the Count's suite to New-York, in order to sail from thence. All things were in readiness, and the cable was just about to be loosed, when brother David Nitechman asked him “whether he went to Europe willingly.” Replying to this question in the negitive, & alleging, as the reason for it, that his conversion was his first concern, brother Nitschman said to him- “If I were in your place, I would immediately return to Bethlehem.” -He instantly left the ship and went back to Bethlehem. Soon after, the friendly address of brother Gottlob Buttner,a missionary among the lndians, proved a great blessing to him.; and again, that verse which was sung as a prayer at meals-
“Whom dost theu love ?-
Sinners the vilest race !
Whom dost thou bless ?
Children who scorn'd thy grace !”
Made such a deep impression on his heart, that he burst out into tears. and pondered on it, weeping and praying all that afternoon. His determination to de- vote himself to the Savior was now fulfilled, and he found what he sought with Him-a friendly reception, and a comforting assurance of the forgiveness of his sins. He likewise soon felt an impulse to serve Him, and his particular wish was, to be accounted worthy to labor for the extension of the kingdom of Jesus, among the heathen nations of North America. At that time brother Pyrlaeus instructed several young men in the Maquay, or Mohawk language; Zeisberger left his fellow scholars far behind him, and on every occasion endeavoured to turn what he had learned to account. He also sought to have intercourse with the Iroquios, who visited or travelled through Bethlehem, that he might learn their language. too. It soon became customary for the Indians that repaired to Bethlehem, to go in quest of him, and if they were still strangers to - him they were introduced to him. By. this means he soon became such a master of the Iroquois tongue, that he was able to serve the government, as an interpreter of Indian languages, in the. following years.
In 1745 he travelled with brother Spangenberg, for the first time, to Onondago, the seat of the great council of the Iroquois, or the so called Six Nations; and altho' this journey was the most troublesome of all that he afterwards undertook, (for he and his companions often suffered great want of the necessaries of life,) yet it was very agreeable to him. One circumstance which happened at that time, left a lasting impression on his and his companion Schebosch's mind. On their return from Onondago, their stock of provisions once failed them. A green grass platt afforded them a comfortable resting place, but nothing to satisfy the cravings hunger. Having oft eyed each other with pitiful looks, brother Spangenberg arose, and in, a friendly tone said to Zeisberger, “come David, make haste and get your fishing tackle ready, and catch us a mess of fish.” He replied, “I would- readily go and fish, if there was the least prospect of catching any; in such shallow clear water as we have here along side of us, the fish do not stay, particularly at this season of the year -at present they are all in deep water." Schebosch confirmed this assertion. However brother Spangenberg replied, “But if, notwithstanding, I say, David, go and fish! you will this time comply from mere obedience.” “Well, I'll do it,” was his answer. Spangenberg then said, " Go a little further out into the water, that I may have the pleasure of seeing, from my coach, how expert you are at fishing." While Zeisberger and Schebosch were going to the water, they said to each other “Our dear brother knows little about fishing; however that is something foreign to his line too.” Filled with surprise, they were soon ready to retract their declaration, for Schebosch had enough to do, merely to watch the large fish that Zeisberger caught. Being returned to their resting place, brother Spangenberg, smiling, observed, “Ah! my brethren! have we not a kind Heavenly Father! Not only were they enabled for the present to satisfy the cravings of hunger, but thy also had some left, which according to the Indian mode, they dried at the fire and took along with them, to serve them on their further journey. On this occasion, Zeisberger received such a powerful impression of the gracious providence of God; and his faith in the same was strengthened to such a degree, that afterwards, during the whole of his ministry, he ventured every thing upon the help and assistance of his Lord, and never suffered himself to be dissuaded from his purpose. On another occasion, when they were nearly starved, because their provisions had been consumed for several days already, they found a bear's quarter, which an Indian, it being out of his power to take it along, had suspended at the road's side, that such as might hap. pen to travel that way might use it.
The same year, (1745) when Zeisberger and Christian Frederick Post were Going to travel by way of Albany into the Indian country, in order to learn the Maquay language, they were taken up at this place as suspicious characters, who instigated the Indians to hostile measures; and were confined in the prison at N. York. But after repeated trials, being found innocent of all the charges preferred against them, they were again set at large, after a captivity of seven weeks and then returned to Bethlehem.
In 1747 Zeisberger again visited the Indians living on Long Island and Great island, in the western branch of the Susquehannah, in brother Martin Macks' company. They found many sick there, but dared not venture to give them any of their medicines; for if such patients had died, even a great while afterwards, the Indians would certainly have charged the brethren with the cause of their death. The great distress of these poor people, who were sunk into all manner of heathenish abominations, and now visited by famine *and disease, deeply affected the brethren. They sought to recommend to them the love of Jesus, for the salvation of their souls; but they- found the ears of very few among them opened. They therefore returned home dejected, after they had again been several times in danger of losing their lives on this troublesome pilgrimage, from some intoxicated Indians.
In 1750, Zeisberger once more had the pleasure of taking a journey to Onondago, in company with Bishop Cammerhof. The account he used to give of this journey was delightful. Both the brethren lived in cordial love and familiarity, and shared each others weal and wee. So much the more trying it was for Zeisberger, that in the following year his intimate friend was called home by our Lord. He ever cherished a grateful remembrance of the advantages he had reaped from the society of the brethren Spangenberg and Cammerhof
In regard to his journey with the latter, the following circumstances are deserving of notice. They performed their journey to Tiaogu, about 160 miles, among many difficulties, by water up the Susquehannnah, laying by in the evening and building a hut of bark for themselves. From Tiangu they proceeded by land, and had to encounter fresh obstacles almost daily. After a journey of five weeks, they reached Onondago, the capital of the Iroquois, which lay in a most pleasant and fertile country, and consisted of five small towns or -villages. The object of this . journey was to pay that visit to the great council of the Iroquois, which had been promised to them at Philadelphia in 1749, and at the same time to ask leave for several brethren to live in the Iroquois territory, in order to learn the language of this nation, and then to preach the gospel among them. Cammerhof addressed the great council in English, and Zeisberger acted the part of an interpreter. Their request was granted, and the assurance given them, that the Iroquois would consider the brethren on this side of the great water, and on the other, as their brethren ; and that the covenant with them should never be dissolved nor torn asunder. Filled with joy and gratitude for the assistance of the Lord which they had experienced, the brethren immediately set out upon their journey homewards, and again reached Bethlehem in safety, having travelled upwards of 1500 miles among none but Indians.
Towards the close of this year, (1750) Zeisberger went on a visit to Europe, with brother Nathaniel Seidel, and in October of the following year, they arrived again at Bethlehem. At Herrnhuth Count Zinzendorf had a long conversation with them concerning their labors among the Indians; and with Zeisberger, whom he acknowledged to be a chosen vessel of God for the good of this nation, he absolutely spoke of nothing else. He confirmed his call to this station, and with this view, recommended him in a particular manner to the divine blessing. Thus having his province marked out before him-on his return to America he was enabled to resume his favorite labors with the greatest confidence.
In the summer of 1752, Zeisberger journeyed once more, in company with the brethren Martin Mack and Godfrey Rundt, to Onongago, where they intended to reside for some time. But before they arrived there, they were met by a company of about 20 chiefs of the Oneidas, who also belong to the Iroquois tribe. These violently opposed the further prosecution of their journey; the brethren however, would not be deterred from their purpose, but requested them to call a council meeting. In this meeting, Zeisberger addressed them in so convincing a manner, that they changed their minds, and readily suffered them to prosecute their journey. At Onondago they were quartered into the but of a chief, and enjoyed so much love, assistance, and so many favors from them, as quite surprised them. Brother Mack being returned to Bethlelem, the brethren Zeisberger and Randt, visited the Tuscatoras and Cajugas; but they could not obtain a proper conference with the chiefs of the latter, nor stay more than one day among them, because a white rum trader would on no account suffer them to be in the village, for fear their negociations with the Indians would ruin his trade. This man at first endeavoured to drive brother Zeisherger of by invectives and curses; but finding this unavailing, he flew into such a rage, that he struck him with a stick, then with a firebrand-kicked him with his feet, & even made an attempt to stab him. The Indians, indeed checked his rage by force; still the brethren found it most advisable to withdraw. On their return to Onondago, they found that the men were preparing for the winter chase, & that few, except the women, would remain at home; they therefore concluded to terminate their stay in this place for the present, and to return to 13ethlehem,where they arrived on the 15th of December. In April of the year following, (1753) Zeisberger again went to Onondago, and this time took with him as a companion, brother Henry Frey. Both these brethren again enjoyed universal love and friendship, and likewise the most cordial hospitality, so long as the poor Indians themselves had any thing left. Nothing disturbed them here, except the war betwixt the English and the French ; when the great council advised them, in case the seat of war should be transferred into their neighborhood, no longer to remain at Onondago. Zeisberger having this time, also, embraced every opportunity to publish Jesus, and his salvation, besides acquiring a further knowledge of the language, after a half year's stay among them returned to Bethlehem with his fellow laborer.
In 1754 he again repaired to his post among the Iroquois, taking brother Charles Friederich with him. He staid nearly a year among them. The Brethren gained their livelihood by hewing wood, grinding hatchets, and particularly by building small huts for others, If, notwithstanding these precautions, they were in want of provisions, they followed the chase, or looked for roots in the woods, to satisfy their hunger. The Indians were oft not a little surprised that the brethren, who might live so comfortably at home, should, out of mere love to them, take up with coarse fare, or even suffer hunger.
The year 1755 was a very memorable and troublesome time. In June and July the brethren, Zeisberger and Christian Seidel once more visited Wajomick, and the circumjacent country on the Susquehannah; and neither of them would suffer dangers of hardships to deter them from recommending the grace of Jesus so much the more urgently to the Indians, who just then were suffering from a severe famine.
In the fall of this year, a cruel war broke out among the savages, in consequence of the war between the English & the French, and threw many parts of the . country, particularly Pennsylvania, into the utmost consternation and confusion. During this period the brethren were more exposed to danger than other white people; for the French tried to gain the Indians over to their side, and persuaded those most readily that cherished a hostile disposition against the brethren on account of their doctrine : these, therefore, were more capable of doing mischief, and executing their murderous devices, because the brethren permitted them to have a free access to them when they paid visits to their friends among the believing Indians. The directors of the society at Bethlehem kept up a lively correspondence with the Missionaries at Gnadenhutten, on this side of the Lehigh, as well as with the brethren and sisters on the Mahony Creek, half a mile on the other side of this river.
On the 24th of November, the same day that the house of the brethren on the Mahony was attacked and burnt, and 11 brethren and sisters were murdered by hostile Indians, brother Zeisberger was sent as a messenger, with letters to both places, which he was to deliver that same evening. Being arrived at Gnadenhutten, at the dwelling of the missionaries Mack and Grube, these did not think it advisable for him to cross the Mahony the same evening, particularly as hostile Indians were known to be lurking about the neighborhood. But he would by no means be dissuaded from executing the commissions he had received; he bade the missionaries good night, mounted his horse and rode off. Brother Mack being seized with anxious forebodings concerning his fate, ran after him and earnestly begged him to return ; but he rode on. He had hardly got into the middle of the Lehigh,
when brother Mack distinctly heard the firing on the Mahony, and called to him to return. Zeisberger not hearing the report of the fire arms, on account of the rushing of the water, rode quite across the Lehigh; but finally he suffered himself to be prevailed upon to ride back again. As soon as he had reached brother Mack, who waited for him on this side of the river, they saw the country, in that direction, illuminated by fire; from which circumstance they concluded that the buildings of the brethren on the Mahony were in flames. Nearly at the same instant, a youth, Joseph Sturgis by name, who had escaped from the murderers, arrived. Zeisburger then hastened back to Bethlehem, where he arrived in the morning, at 3 o'clock. With regard to this gracious preservation, he often expressed himself to this effect:--“ Had I come sooner or a little later, to the brethren and sisters on the Mahony, I should have run right into the hands of the enemy; but that was not the Saviour's will, I was yet longer to serve him.”
The door that opened into the Indian country being in a manner closed upon the brethren, by reason of the troubles occasioned by the war, which lasted f or several years, Zeisberger was called to serve in different capacities in the congregations. In the mean time he composed a grammar and a dictionary of the Iroquois language, and translated the harmony of the four gospels into the same. At the same time he had a great deal of intercourse with the Indians who came to Easton alternately, to converse and negociate with government; for such among them as knew him, would always have him with them. But of all his labors, these were the most disagreeable to him.
At last, after the lapse of a period of 6 years, which proved quite unfruitful with respect to the propagation of the gospel among the Indians, in 1762, according to Zeisberger's expression, the sky brightened somewhat again, and now he was seen very busy at Wajomick, particularly in visiting the sick Indians. He had the pleasure of comforting several in their last moments, and seeing them fall asleep in the faith of Jesus.
The lndians on the Ohio began their murderous enterprises again in the spring of 1763, and the missionary plan was thereby thwarted;, before, however, these commotions had obtained a general spread, Zeisburger paid two visits to the Indians at Machwihilusing, which proved a great, blessing to them. There he convinced the singular Indian teacher, Papunhank, of his errors in doctrine, and won him to the faith of Jesus. The happy stir which was occasioned by Zeisberger's discourses in this place, was universal. Many wept day and night for the forgiveness of their sins. The heads of families at last agreed solemnly to request the brethren at Bethlehem to send them a teacher, who should live with them and preach the gospel to them. With this commission Zeisberger returned delighted to Bethlehem with his companion, where, after mature consideration, it was thought most advisable that he should again repair to Machwihilusing, and for the present, reside there as a missionary. He soon set out upon his journey, with joy.
One day, when he was going to fasten his he for the night, he cut his foot, and fainted away. An Indian assistant who accompanied him, immediately procured an herb, well known to him, applied it to the wound, and Zeisberger not only recovered from the swoon, but the wound itself healed with an inconceivable rapidity. After a tedious journey, amid rain and snow, thundergusts & storms, thro' swamps & swollen rivulets, through almost impenetrable forests, they arrived safely at Machwihilusing -were heartily welcomed by Papanhank and the rest, and Zeisberger found the people still hungering as much for that word which declares the love of God, as when he had left them. In a short time, the word of the cross reached Papunhank's heart in such a powerful manner, that he humbly and urgently begged to be baptised. Zeisberger baptised these first fruits of Machwihilusing with the tenderest emotions of his heart, and under such an overpowering sense of the presence of God, that the whole assembly were quite overcome by it. But he could pot long continue his labors here. Every where the peaceable Indians were oppressed by those of their countrymen who had sided with the enemies of the British government, and therefore were compelled to look for an asylum among the white people. But among the latter there were many who, from a blind zed against the Indian nations in general, were so resolutely bent upon their destruction, that government had to take effective measures for their safety. Thus it happened that almost the whole Indian congregation was under the protection of government for two years, upon an Island in the Delaware, and afterwards in the barracks at Philadelphia. Under these circumstances Zeisberger every where tent them his most faithful assistance.*
*See Loshiel's History of the Missions of the United Brethren in North America. 1763-65.
The peace with the Indians being again restored, and Zeisberger having at that time no regular vocation, he moved with the Indian congregation & their laborer to the Susquehannah, where the town of Friedenshutten, (peace-cabins) was begun.
Shortly after their arrival, Zeisberger went on two different expeditions on business, for the Indian congregation. The great council of the Six Nations did not like to see the establishment of the Christian Indians at Friedenshutten, but intended to draw them to Cayuga Lake, having all the while the dissolution of the Indian congregation in view. The first journey he undertook at Cayuga in April, and the second in October 1766, to Onondago. They both had a successful termination, and brother Zeisberger's remonstrances had such a good effect. that the brethren obtained lawful permission to preach the gospel in what is properly called the Indian country. During the same year, Zeisberger had the happiness to baptize the first fruits of the Nanticoke nation, a Friedenshutten. In the autumn of the following year, he undertook a journey to the Ohio, in the neighborhood of which, Indians that were anxious to hear the gospel, were reported to be living. On this journey he had to cross, with his companions, long prairies, which were overgrown with grass and weeds, higher than the head of a rider. Whenever this happened to be wet with the rain or dew, our travellers were completely drenched; and of such prairies they met a great number. They also came into such parts, where, according to the assertions of the Indians, no white man had ever been seen. The farther they proceeded, the more dreary they found the wilderness, through which they dragged themselves with incredible labor, and after a march of four days through such a country, they found the first hot in the woods, in which they took up their night's lodging; for, so far, they had always slept in the open air, wrapped themselves up in their blankets, and suffered a great deal from almost incessant rains.
Hereupon entering a Seneca village, the appearance of a white man, to which the inhabitants had been unaccustomed before, created much surprise. A Seneca man immediately mounted his horse and gallopped off into the next largest village, about 30 miles distant, in order to apprize the chief there of the news. Zeisberger accordingly expected a singular reception there; and, indeed, upon his arrival at the village, he was received by the chief rather in a surly manner. His friendly behaviour, however, prevailed so far, that the chief led him into his house and gave him something to eat. A conversation of two hours then ensued, in which the chief testified his surprise at his arrival, as no white man had ever come that way, and would precisely learn the object of his journey. The missionary embraced the favorable opportunity to preach the gospel to him; but the chief strenuously maintained that such a word of God did not suit at all for the Indians. To that Zeisberger made such an emphatic reply, that the chief at last gave way, became quite sociable, and confessed that he had taken him to be a spy of the white people, and for that reason had at first spoken so harshly; but now, being convinced of the rectitude of his intentions, he would not hinder the further prosecution of his journey to Goshgoshunk, but cautioned him rather anxiously, not to trust the inhabitants of that place, since they were reported not to have their equals in iniquity and murderous devices. Zeisberger declared to him that these people, if such were their case, had the greater need of hearing the word of their Redeemer; and that, at all events, he feared them not, because without the will of God they could do him no harm.
At Goshgoshunk, a Delaware town, much to his surprise, he and his companions were welcomed in an affectionate manner, and hospitably entertained by a relation of the national assistant, John Papunhank, who was one of the party. Zeisburger now got the inhabitants of the town, which consisted of three villages, to assemble together, because he had to tell them “some words.” Being assembled, Zeisberger witnessed an evangelical testimony to the truth, before them, which made such an impression upon them, that they passed the resolution in their great council, to request the brethren to send a stated preacher among them. With this petition Zeisberger returned to Friedenshutten.
The expectation being thus raised, that something might be effected in the Saviour's cause in this part of the country, the Directors at Bethlehem resolved, that the brethren, Zeisberger and Gottlob Senseman, together with some Indian families, should move from Friedenshutten to Goshgoshunk, in order to begin a missionary establishment there. In pursuance of this resolution, the two above mentioned brethren entered upon the journey in April, 1768, and the brethren Ettwein, Heckwelder and a third anonymous person travelled in their company, and partly for their assistance, to Wajomick, where the Indian families were to join them.
Although their journey lasted almost 5 weeks. still it terminated successfully. At Goshgoshunk the new comers were received with almost universal joy. Zeisberger preached often, instituted daily morning and evening worship, and sang such hymns with them as had been translated into the Delaware language, and were a novelty to his hearers there. Soon however, a spirit inimical to the gospel, began to manifest itself among some of hem; and the brethren at that time (according to their expression) hit as though they had to breathe a dense and oppressive air; for they saw themselves surrounded by men who obviously plotted their ruin. One evening they had a very unwelcome visit from some savages, whom a murderous spirit had propelled thither, but who yet did not venture to execute their evil design. The brethren would not quit their post on account of these commotions, nor did they discontinue the preaching of the gospel; Zeisberger, in particular, remained resolutely determined boldly to preach the word of life, notwithstanding the excessive rage of the enemy, and Beave the preservation of his life tot hat Lord whose servant he was.
(To be continued.)
Biography of Rev. D. Zeisberger,
among the North American Indians.
(Concluded from page 90.)
In 1759 the powers of darkness -rose up against them with renewed rage, and notwithstanding their own, and the national assistants' remonstrances, the traffic in ram and other distilled liquors, ruinous in a high degree to the morals of the Indians, was declared to be lawful. The brethren and the Christian Indians regarded this as an intimation from the Lord, that they should no longer reside there, and began to build boats for their departure. But while they were thus engaged, a Seneca chief, with two others, came to Goshgoshunk, and forbid the missionary, in the most positive terms, by a black string of wampum, (which always has an evil signification) to decamp , till he should receive further injunctions from Onandago, But Zeisberger awarded this unreasonable declared with great frankness, and boldly declared that the Christian Indians would not suffer themselves to be detained at Goshgoshunk, but would remove to the other side of the Ohio. This, accordingly took place soon after. The brethren there selected a suitable though dreary spot, where they built a town in which they might preach the gospel unmolested, and live secluded, with the believing Indians and others who would forsake paganism.
In 1770 the Indian congregation were so much harassed at their new place, by the frequent visits of warriors that they were compelled to resolve upon another pilgrimage. They sailed up the Ohio past Pittsburg to the south of Beaver Creek, which empties into the former, and after a perilous voyage, of a fortnight's duration, they reached a spot apparently chosen for their purpose. The town which they laid out there was called Friedenstadt.
In 1771 Zeisberger was called to Bethlehem, that he might have an interview with the brethren, Christian Gregor and John Loretz, who had been deputed from Europe by the Directors of the Brethren's Unity, on a visitation to the society's congregations in North America, in order to confer with them on the existing state of the mission, and to take their advice about various concerns. At that time there were three missionary stations among the Indians; two of them, however, were exposed to disturbances from the white people, and the third, where Zeisberger labored, to the baneful influence of the savages. These circumstances occasioned a removal of all the Indian congregations from the different places where they had hitherto resided, to the river Muskingum, whither they had been invited to come by the chiefs living thereabout. Accordingly, in the spring of 1772, Zeisberger began the building of Schonbrunn, on the Muskingum with several Indian families. During the great revival which took place in 1774 at Schonbrunn, as well as at Gnadenhutten, the second missionary establishment on the Muskingum, our late brother was fully engaged. His heart leapt for joy when he was an eye witness to the powerful effect which the word preached by himself and his fellow-laborers had upon the hearts of the hearers. No strange Indian came into the town (and almost daily one or more were there on a visit,) but heard the gospel; numbers did not as much as leave the place again, but immediately asked permission to remain: a spark had fallen into the hearts of others, which afterwards brought them thither likewise. These happy times he ever after had in grateful remembrance. When, in latter years he would grieve about the state of the Indian congregation, it was still his comfort that our Saviour might, in his own due time, cause a fresh revival to take place, and he trusted also that such a thing would happen. During the period of this gracious visitaion he was diligent in translating a number of hymns from the brethren's hymn book; revised those, in part, that had been translated, and besides composed a school book for children.
At the building of Lichtenau, the third missionary establishment on the Muskingum, in 1776, which was chiefly undertaken at the desire of Netawatwees, a Delaware chief he was likewise busily engaged, and our Savior did not suffer his expectations of seeing another revival among the Indian at this place, to be frustrated. In the same year, however, the Indian congregation was involved in very critical circumstances, during the progress of the revolutionary war, in which most of the Indian nations took an active part. A melancholly schism arose at Schonbrunn, which induced the, faithful part of the congregation to remove from thence to Gnadenhutten and Lichtenau. The year following the prospects wore a still more dismal aspect-the total subversion of the missionary cause appeared unavoidable; but none could decide which was most to be dreaded, the white people or the savage Indians.
In 1779 he removed, with a part of the congregation, which for a time had lived together at Lichtenau, into the neighborhood of Schonbrunn, where a new town was built. Acting at the same time the part of an overseer and that of a workman, he undertook the task with delight, and never was he heard to complain of having too much work to do. At the same time he inhabitants of Gnadenhutten returned again and an agreeable intercourse was kept up between the three stations.
In the spring of 1781, brother Zeisberger was called to Bethlehem, and there joined in holy matrimony to Susan Lekron, a single sister, from Litiz. It was not long after his return to the Muskingum with his wife, that black clouds gathered over the heads of the Indian congregation and the missionaries. The half-king of the Hurons had undertaken the charge imposed upon him by the British government at Detroit to suspend both. On the morning of the 3d of September, a national assistant entered the mission house at Gnadenhutten, where the brethren, Zeisberger, Edwards, Senseman, and Heckwelder were assembled, and with tears in his eyes brought the intelligence, that they would be attacked that same day by the savages; but that the latter were not yet agreed among themselves, whether they would lead them away captive, or murder and scalp them.
The missionaries, notwithstanding, had the bell tolled at the usual hour in the morning, to assemble the Indians for divine service ; and as a great number of warriors came along with the Christian Indians, the spacious hall was not only crowded with people, but many stood outside of the doors. Several verses having been sung, brother Zeisberger read the text appointed for the day- “In n little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” Isa.liv. 8. From these words he spoke with such power and undauntedness, that nearly all those present, and even many of the warriors, melted into tears. All those members of the congregation who were faithfully disposed, were on this occasion united together in one spirit, and look up the resolution, willingly and patiently to submit to every thing that God should suffer to befall them; others, however, whose conversation was root sincere, were brought to consider their state, and at least to be ashamed of their double-mindedness, But another matter of the greatest importance, the prevention of a terrible slaughter, was, by the mercy of God, the based consequence of this memorable meeting. We knew that many of our Indian brethren would not remain indifferent spectators to the scene, if their teachers were assaulted and abused; and it was likewise known that many of the warriors loved us, and would in connexion with their relations among the believing Indians, fight for us. For this reason the war council, who were apprized of this, had devised ways and means for assassinating us. Now brother Zeisberger had publicly, and in the name of all the missionaries, declared that he would willingly, and without murmuring, submit to the continued care of' God's providence; yea, that we would, as was the duty of every believer, pray for our enemies, and for all the warriors that had encamped around us; and this he had done himself, at the conclusion of his discourse. This tended to quiet the minds of our Indian brethren and sisters respecting us; and the warriors who had attended the meeting could now give information to the council, that they would meet with no resistance here. This also was the reason why but three or four Indians laid bands on us, notwithstanding above 300 warriors were on the spot, and even they, contrary to their custom, in such cases, treated us with comparative lenity. At noon of said day, the brethren, Zeisberger, Senseman, and Heckwelder, standing together, a captain of the Monseys came running up to them and asked the former, whether he alone would acknowledge himself as belonging to the nation of the Monseys (a Delaware tribe) and as their only teacher? Scarcely had the answer been given, “Where one stays there we all stay,” when we three were seized and led into the camp of the Hurons.
After a captivity of four days, at the intercession of the national assistants, the savages allowed the missionaries more liberty, but now required them to encourage the believing Indians to get themselves ready for their decampment. They did so, with the best success, and the whole hotly broke up. But never before had the Indians left a spot with so much regret at this, since they were compelled to forsake the three comparitively beautiful towns of Gnadenhutten, Salem, and Schonbrunn, together with a great part of their effects. Upwards of 200 head of cattle, and more than 400 hogs, they had already lost at an earlier date.
Their external loss only, according to a moderate calculation, amounted to more than $12,000. But the total stop put to the instruction of their youth, grieved them more than any thing else. Their books and documents were burnt. With that they saw nothing but misery and danger before them. However the Lord was with them. They felt this - and this kept their courage alive.
One party of the savages, together with some English officers, moved on with them and surrounded the Indian congregation in such a manner that they were completely encircled. On the 11th of October they had proceeded 125 miles in this manner, and were now come to the river Sandusky. Here the half-king of the Hurons left our company and went home, without leaving word what those should do that were left behind. They at last resolved to spend the winter in Upper Sandusky, and quickly built small log houses to secure themselves against the cold; for the savages had even robbed them of their bedding and blankets, The scarcity of provisions in these part was so great, that many of the Indians had to travel back to the desolate towns, in order to bring corn from thence. Shortly after their arrival, our late brother, together with the three missionaries and four national assistants had to repair to Fort Detroit, at this request of the English governor there, because many complaints had been lodged against them, as though they had kept up a correspondence with the Americans prejudicial to the British government. At a judicial examination, however, their innocence was proved and acknowledged. Upon this desirable issue of the affair, they were treated in a kindly manner by the governor, and thereupon returned to Sandusky. At the commencement of the year 1782. the Indian congregation and their teachers had to suffer exceedingly from hunger and cold. It likewise became more and more apparent, that the design of the brethrens' enemies was forcibly to put a stop to the preaching of the gospel in the Indian country, and to disperse the united Indian congregations. The governor at Detroit found it impracticable to make good the promise 'he had made the missionaries, that they should be enabled in prosecute their labors among the Indians without molestation, since the enemies of the brethren continually besieged him. In March the missionaries were informed that they were to be brought us prisoners of war to Detroit. The separation from his dear flock grieved brother Zeisberger inexpressibly, and he exhorted them, at parting, with paternal tenderness, now their teachers were taken from them, to cleave the more firmly to their Saviour. On their way to Detroit, the missionaries received the heart-rending news of the melancholly occurrence on the Muskingum, when 98 Christian Indians. (62 adults and 31 children) who were gone from Sandusky to Salem and Gnadenhutten, to fetch corn from thence, had been cruelly murdered by a band of Americans.
The governor of Detroit thought to render a service to the missionaries if he had them safely conducted to Bethlehem. Brother Zeisberger, however, gave him full information concerning the instructions he and his assistants had received in reference to their calling, and at the same time represented, that if even any of the missionaries were prevented from laboring among the Indians, the directors of the brethrens’ church would not on that account neglect the missionary cause, since it was a divine injunction to preach the gospel to the heathen. In process of time this noble-minded gentleman, by his intercession, prevailed on the Chippewas to permit the christian Indians to settle on their territory on the river Huron, about 25 miles from Detroit. At this new missionary station, (New-Gnadenhutten,) brother Zeisberger and several other missionaries removed, until the spring of 1786, when the unfriendly disposition of the Chippewas compelled the inhabitants to seek another place of abode. Peace having been concluded between England and the United States, it was proposed that the Indian congregation should once more return to their former dwelling places on the Muskingum. In this year, however, they could not proceed further than Cajabaga. Hard labor, and want of provisions, occasioned many distempers, and our late brother too was affected by them. In this trying situation, a letter from his old acquaintance, Bishop John De Watteville, who had arrived at Bethlehem on a visitation of the North American congregations, greatly revived his spirits.
In the spring of 1787, the travelling congregation was expected to arrive at their place of destination; but another war threatening to break out between the savages and the United States, they received a forewarning of its approach from both parties. Hereupon, Zeisberger, with his assistants, collected a flourishing congregation at Pettquotting, in about 4 years, which proved a great encouragement to him. But various outrages being committed in the mean time, by each of the above parties against the other, which more and more damped the expectation of a general peace, the hostile Indians at last unanimously resolved to associate together in one body, and thus to measure their strength with that of the United States. First, however, all those Indies that refused to go to war were to be drawn together, and brought to a certain spot on the river Miami, there to be under the protection of the belligerent nations. Zeisberger, who was well aware that ash a measure was intended to compel the Christian Indians to participate in the conflict, could not consent to it. He therefore sent brother Edwards in March. 1791, with some Indian brethren to Detroit, to look out for a place of security for the Indian congregation, till the storm should be over. They found the same in 1792, near the outlet of the river Detroit. Here brother Zeisberger and his wife met with a remarkable preservation, having very nigh found a watery grave. In the following year the Indian congregation were permitted to settle on the river Retrench, afterwards called Thames, in the British territory. This new nation was called Fairfield, and there Zeisberger staid till in the full of 1798, when he moved with a part of this congregation, and his assistant, brother Benjamin Mortimer, to the Muskingum, where he began the missionary station at Goshen. This was the 13th Christian Indian town that he laid out, and here he spent the last ten years of his life, without any malestation from without and in a continued state of activity. Still he was not wanting in a variety of afflictions, and most of all he was grieved by those moral defects in the Indian congregation which appeared from time to time, and which, probably, for the greater part, arose from the long protracted Indian wars. This often caused him to sigh, and daily he lifted up his heart in prayer to that Savior from whom alone he expected help. Whenever the conversation turned upon the former happy state of the Indian congregation he seemed to be quite revived, and expressed the joyful hope that the Savior would, in his own due time, graciously visit and revive them. As for his character, he was naturally of a sedate turn of mind; and by reason of his travelling and residing so much and so long without company, this disposition took a still deeper root: for this reason, also, the converse with his invisible Friend was quite a habit with him. He weighed every consideration most maturely; never would be overhurried, and never gave his opinion till, as he used to say, he was quite clear in the matter. Experience, also, invariably confirmed the correctness of his judgement. His firmness, and the assurence with which he looked into futurity, made him courageous and undaunted. And as all his fellow- laborers, as well as all the members of the congregation, placed a high degree of confidence in him, they had a particular regard to his decisions, and among all perplexities, they were content if he encouraged and condoled with them. But then he much regretted it when the times compelled him to drop the correspondence with his superiors at Bethlehem; and when, in intricate cases, he had to advise exclusively with himself. He was always much edified by the perusal of the church accounts and printed works of the brethren. He also took a lively share in the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, both at home and abroad.
To the foregoing narritive, brother Benjamin Mortimer, his junior assistant, subjoined the following remarks.
Our late brother Zeisberger was sure of his divine calling to preach the gospel among the heathen ; to this he sacrificed every convenience and comfort in the world, persevered in the work to which he was appointed, in humble faith and dependence on the blessing and assistance of that Lord whom he served with cheerfulness and constancy amidst reproach and shame, menaces and difficulties, hunger and dangers of almost every description, and accomplished this work in spite of all opposition, lit was never happier than when he had reason to believe that the gospel which he had preached, had taken effect; when he saw how sinners, who had been laboring under a religious concern, had obtained grace and peace, and that now they were enabled cordially to rejoice in their Savior. Then he would participate in their joy, as though he had himself obtained the summit of has wishes. Neither can that joy be described which pervaded his breast when a lost sinner bewailed his miserable state, nod returned to the good Shepherd of souls. He seemed never to forget, throughout his ministry, that he had to combat that prince who worketh in the children of disobedience - that God, however, was on his side, who would give him a constant victory. And he truly overcome Satan, in a signal manner, by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony.
In other respects too, he was a distinguished servant of God. No one, during the last century; bad preached the gospel among the Indians for so long a series of years, and among such a multiplicity of trials as he did. He labored among them a words of 60 years. During the last 40 years, he was not, altogether, absent six months from his Indian congregation ; and during all this time he was but three times on a visit to the American mother congregations.
Beginning, for several years past, to feel the complaints of old age creeping on apace, he was eagerly bent on finishing his works in the Delaware language. He composed that printed hymn book which is still in use. Moreover, he translated the harmony of the four gospels, besides several small tracts, which have in part been published, and partly are reserved in manuscript. He published a second, enlarged editions of his Delaware Spelling Book, which had been printed about 30 years before. He has besides left a valuable Delaware grammar behind him.
This faithful servant of the Lord, seeing his end approaching, surveyed all the circumstances connected with it, with a serenity and presence of mind peculiar to himself. About three weeks previous to his departure, (in October, 1808,) he testified that he was easy, and comforted about all his concerns, the religious course of the Indian brethren and sisters excepted Being apprized of this, they all came to him separately, asked his forgiveness concerning all about which they had grieved him and promised anew (some of them with tears) to surrender their hearts entirely to the Savior, and live solely to him. He received them in the most affectionate manner, with tenderness and love, which in his conversation with them, he all along no well knew how to combine; he testified unto them his tender concern for their welfare, and seriously cautioned them against indulging their propensity to drunkenness, a sin which they are but too prone to commit. Finally, he exhorted them to love & to obey brother Mortimer, their surviving teacher. Thus to his end, he evinced an exemplary fidality in the discharge of his ministry.
On the fifth of November, he expressed himself to brother Mortimer in the following terms: “My strength is daily decreasing, I believe that our Savior intends to make this sickness the occasion of my dissolution. I have pondered on the whole of my past life before Him, and found abundant reason to crave his forgivenness. I rely upon His blood to cleanse me from all sin; I know that I am His, and that He, with all his merits, is mine. Some. brethren and sisters leave this world in triumph, but that is not my case. I go home with the feelings of a poor sinner. My spirit the Savior will take to himself; my sinful part I leave behind!”
For a considerable time past, he had frequently testified his longing desire to rest from all labor, and be at home with the Lord. If then we would assure him thus we should be very happy; if the Lord should please to spare him a few years more to us, and restore his health to him, he would generally make this reply. :-“ What do I here? I am no longer of any service.” The more his strength wasted away, the more did his desire to depart increase. On the 12th of November (five days previous to his departure,) he was so week that he could no longer sit up. On that day, the cholic, from which he had sustained frequent attacks before, returned with great violence, and weakened him to such a degree, that it plainly appeared this would hasten his dissolution. On the following day, he took an affectionate leave of his wife, thanking her most cordially for all the kindness she had shown to him. He next took leave of brother Mortimer's family, and gave to each member of the same his paternal blessing. He likewise remembered in cordial affection, many of his absent friends. Towards midnight his end appeared to be approaching, and he desired that the last blessing might be conferred upon him. This favor was bestowed upon him by brother Mortimer, who, in a fervent prayer, thanked our dear Lord for the grace, election, and blessed ministry of this His Faithful servant; and further intreated Him to cause that Spirit which had rested upon him to be imparted unto us. Nothing did so effectually comfort and quiet the patient, in the height of his suffering, as the singing of hymns at, his bed-side and those in particular which he had composed for the dying Indians. Our Indian brethren and sisters therefore, when they visited him, or sat up with him at night, frequently entertained him with singing. Often was he found engaged in secret prayer. Some times he bloke out into this audible ejaculation: “Lord Jesus, I pray thee come and receive my spirit!” At one time, being in great pain, he prayed with fervency- “'Thou never yet didst forsake me in any distress whatsoever, neither wilt I on forsake me now” and soon after he exclaimed, as though he were sure that his prayer us heard -“The Saviour is near; perhaps he will soon come and take me home!” Although he so ardently desired to be divested of this earthly tabernacle still he evinced not the least sign of impatience, but remained wholly resigned to the will of the Lord. That childlike faith, and that firm reliance upon the Saviour, whereby his life was so eminently distinguished, & which carried him safely thro’ every trial and difficulty; even now when death was approaching, bore away the palm of victory; and the enjoyment of the peace of God, which passeth all understanding kept his heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
On the 17th, as noon, brother Heckwelder and some other brethren from the neighborhood, once more visited him Being no longer able to express his thoughts in words, he testified his joy unto them by friendly looks. Soon after these brethren had returned home, a change was observed in him, whereupon all our Indians, by degrees, assembled in he room. Every now and then they sang verses for him, and nearly till his last moment he testified by signs, that it was very agreeable to him. About half past two o'clock, he breathed his last. very quietly and without a groan. Brother Mortimer immediately knelt down with the company present, and thanked our dear Lord for the peaceful consummation of this brother, whom He had employed as a blessed instrument for the conversion of so many heathen; in like manner for the blessing with which has faithful ministry in this place had been crowned, and concluded with this petition--that his departure might have a blessed impression on all present, and excite them to follow after his faith. He entered the mansions of eternal rest at the age of 87 yrs. 7 mo. & 6 ds.*
*In this narrative, the time of the ordination of Mr. Zeisberger, it appears, has not been noticed, It took place, I am assured, in early life.
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