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Monday, August 8, 2016

Missions to the Western Indians by "Melville" - No. 6 of 6


From the Christian Watchman [Boston, Massachusetts] Friday, July 13, 1838; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank

For the Watchman.
Missions to the Western Indians.— No. 6.

We have now taken a brief survey of the location and general condition of the principal tribes. We have also looked across the Mississippi to the country which has been assigned to the Indians as their future home, where it is proposed to collect the forlorn remnants of these once powerful bands, with the professed hope that under more auspicious circumstances they may not only preserve an existence, but advance in temporal and moral prosperity. Let the Christian church see to it that wherever shall be their location they shall be affectionately proffered the hopes and blessings of the gospel.

And now, my dear reader, suffer me to press home to your heart and conscience the inquiry, what can you do for the unfortunate Indians? Your red brethren are immortal creatures, subject to the same moral laws, and amenable to the same tribunal with yourself. You are bound to do all in your power to give the gospel to all men. The Indian is your neighbor and your brother. He has been expelled from this country to make room for you in common with others,—from that country which now seems to deny him a place in which to rest his weary head. Will you not, then, be entreated to do your utmost, in person, or through the assisted agency of others, to point the wronged and unhappy outcast to a heavenly home, purchased by the atonement of the divine Saviour, whither the wounded and weary spirit may remove from the storms and calamities of life, and enter to go no more out forever?

There is one way, at least, in which you can enjoy the satisfaction of laboring for this people. It is by supplicating the throne of divine grace in their behalf. The thought of calling down a blessing on them by praying to Him who controls all human destinies and events, and who has therefore complete ability to grant our requests, is one which should inspire joy and gratitude in every pious heart. When, therefore, you are knelt before the altar of devotion to pray for yourself and your friends, let the case of the poor Indian find a place in your remembrance and your supplications.

If you feel a genuine interest for the welfare of this people, and if the providence of God may have favored you with the necessary means, you will scarcely need to be reminded of the duty of contributing to sustain the missionary operations of this department. Your assistance, in this sort, is needed, and your donations, if made from a right motive, may be an occasion of the triple benefit of spiritual comfort to yourself, lasting good to those whose welfare you contemplate, and honor to the cause of the Redeemer. How much you are to bestow in this department of Christian benevolence is not for me to say. I have always thought it an extremely delicate business for a second person to pronounce a decision on a case of this character. If you remember that you are but the steward of God, and under an obligation to honor him with your substance, you will, perhaps, after prayerful consideration, be your own best judge respecting your duty upon this subject. Be sure, however, to do what you can; and never allow yourself to be deterred from this by a vain regret that you can do no more.

Your influence over others may also be made to tell for the spiritual good of the Indians. By conversation, and other means, you may awaken an interest in some minds which have heretofore been indifferent to the subject; and some persons, aroused by your influence may hereafter be missionaries to the aboriginal tribes, or may render efficient aid to the cause in some other way. Be discreet, but diligent, in the use of this influence. Do your utmost to form in the church a sentiment which shall say to the missionaries, “Be encouraged to persevere, and to press forward in your efforts. Be assured that whatever aid is in our power to bestow shall be promptly and cheerfully rendered.— Trust in an omnipotent and gracious Providence; and do not relax your benevolent exertions.” But perhaps the Spirit and providence of God are calling you to engage personally in the work of the evangelization of the native tribes. If so, I trust you will not disregard the divine admonitions. Manifest your gratitude to God, and your love of his creatures by implicit obedience to his evident will. If you can be the instrument of spiritual good to the neglected Indian, your destiny is more to be envied than if you were the recipient of all the wealth, the honor, and the pleasures, which this deceitful world has to bestow; and you may be sure of finding the path of duty to be the path of happiness. Seriously inquire whether you have not a duty to perform in relation to this subject; and then act in view of your high obligations to your heavenly Father, and of the awards of eternity.

MELVILLE.
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