Bishop Chase Visits Oneida and Mohawk Tribes
Bishop Chase Visits Oneida and Mohawk Tribes
In the (London) Missionary Register for December we find a letter from Bishop Chase to his friend Timothy Wiggin, esq. giving an account of a visit he had made to some Indians settled on the Sandusky River. The letter was written in October, from Worthington, Ohio. We select from it the following passages:
"A most interesting scene took place in my visitation of the Oneida and, Mohawk Indians on the Sandusky River. They are the remnant, or rather a branch of those once-famous tribes, which, in moving back from their former residence, accepted of an invitation from the Senecas to settle on the lands reserved by Congress for the Senecas about the Sandusky River, in this diocese. I had heard of them as being attached to the Church of England; but never could go and see them till this summer. I found them in their peaceftul retreat, engaged in the duties of husbandry—raising corn and cultivating their gardens.
"My friend and guide who conducted me through the devious foot-paths in the wilderness, in the rain, for nearly a whole day's journey, introduced me to this most interesting people. Decent and dignified in their manners, they received me with great respect; and when I told them that I came among them to do them good and not harm, to pray with them, and to preach the Gospel to them in the name of Jesus Christ our common Saviour, they fully comprehended my meaning, and gave me a hearty welcome.
To show the medium of our mutual good understanding, they produced their Common Prayerbook, being that which was translated Into the Indian language, with very little alteration, from the English Liturgy, together with, the Gospel of St. Mark, A. a 1787, and printed in London. What news was this to me ! "And have you read this?" said I. — "Constantly, every Sunday, in morning and evening prayer with the poor scattered members of our tribe, providentially sojourning on this river," said they by their interpreter. I inquired then if they understood and felt the great importance of the truths which they uttered with theirmouths. They replied, that they hoped they did; but that maay of their people were inclined to run astray into the wickednesses of the tribes that surrounded them, notwithstanding all that the old men could do: "Poor, blessed, people!" thought I, while suppressing my tears: "God give me grace to be found worthy of serving you!"
"During the remainder of the evening, intelligence was spread throughout the woods, that on the morrow divine service would be performed, and a sermeat preached at eight o'clock; while, Wearied with the exercise of the day, I reposed myself on the hard bed of an Indian cabin, and slept sweetly till morning.
"The appointed hour came; and though it rained most abundantly, a large number both of male and female satires assembled. How interesting the sight of so many devout worshippers, and how great the comfort of joining with them in those prayers and praises which had been the vehicle of the piety tif all whom I held dear through thirty years of Christian ministration in holy things, I leave you to conceive.
"By proceeding with all the prayers as the church has directed, the whole congregation, through an aged reader, could join in repeating and offering tip the same petitions and prayers with myself—they in the Indian language, and I in English. And when we sang the metre psalms and hymns, their version being in the same measure with the English, I could join with them in this also: with voices uncommonly sweet and full, they sang tunes With which I was well acquainted; and never did I witness more order, yet plainer indications of true devotion. Though many of them could speak a little English, yet the sermon was interpreted to them in their own language. They have used lay baptism, they say out of necessity; yet would be much' rejoiced if they could have an authorized ministry.
"My mind was most favourably impressed toward these poor people; arid my attachment to our primitive liturgy mightily strengthened Without this instance of its great utility. Without such a help, how much of the missionary's labour is lost; like oil spilt upon the ground, without a vessel to contain and perpetuate it. Had it not been for this Prayer Book, the worship of God would, to all human view, never, have been perpetuated to the salvation of these now interesting people."