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Continuance, renewal, and quickness of the work.
IT is remarkable, thirdly, that God has so continued and renewed showers of his grace here: so quickly set up his visible kingdom among these people; and so smiled upon them in relation to their acquirement of knowledge, both divine and human. It is now near a year since the beginning of this gracious outpouring of the divine Spirit among them: and although it has often seemed to decline and abate for some short space of time as may be observed by several passages of my Journal, where I have endeavoured to note things just as they appeared to me yet the shower has seemed to be renewed, and the work of grace revived again. So that a divine influence seems still apparently to attend the means of grace, in a greater or less degree, in most of our meetings for religious exercises; whereby religious persons are refreshed, strengthened, and established, convictions revived and promoted in many instances, and some few persons newly awakened from time to time. Although it must be acknowledged, that for some time past, there has, in the general, appeared a more manifest decline of this work, and the divine Spirit has seemed, in a considerable measure, withdrawn, especially in regard of his awakening influence so that the strangers who come latterly, are not seized with concern as formerly; and some few who have been much affected with divine truths in time past, now appear less concerned. Yet, blessed be God, there is still an appearance of divine power and grace, a desirable degree of tenderness, religious affection, and devotion in our assemblies.
And as God has continued and renewed the showers of his grace among this people for some time; so he has with uncommon quickness set up his visible kingdom, and gathered himself a church in the midst of them. I have now baptized, since the conclusion of my last Journal, (or the First Part,) thirty persons, fifteen adults and fifteen children. Which added to the number there mentioned, makes seventy-seven persons; whereof thirty-eight are adults, and thirty-nine children; and all within the space of eleven months past. And it must be noted, that I have baptized no adults, but such as appeared to have a work of special grace wrought in their hearts; I mean such who have had the experience not only of the awakening and humbling, but, in a judgment of charity, of the renewing and comforting, influences of the divine Spirit. There are many others under solemn concern for their souls, who (I apprehend) are persons of sufficient knowledge, and visible seriousness, at present, to render them proper subjects of the ordinance of baptism. Yet, since they give no comfortable evidences of having as yet passed a saving change, but only appear under convictions of their sin and misery, and having no principle of spiritual life wrought in them, they are liable to lose the impressions of religion they are now under. Considering also, the great propensity there is in this people naturally to abuse themselves with strong drink, and fearing lest some, who at present appear serious and concerned for their souls, might lose their concern, and return to this sin, and so, if baptized, prove a scandal to their profession, I have therefore thought proper hitherto to omit the baptism of any but such who give some hopeful evidences of a saving change, although I do not pretend to determine positively respecting the states of any.
I likewise administered the Lord’s supper to a number of persons, who I have abundant reason to think (as I elsewhere observed) were proper subjects of that ordinance, within the space of ten months and ten days after my first coming among these Indians in New Jersey. And from the time that, I am informed, some of them were attending an idolatrous feast and sacrifice in honour to devils, to the time they sat down at the Lord’s table, (I trust,) to the honour of God, was not more than a full year. Surely Christ’s little flock here, so suddenly gathered from among pagans, may justly say, in the language of the church of old, “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
Much of the goodness of God has also appeared in relation to their acquirement of knowledge, both in religion and in the affairs of common life. There has been a wonderful thirst after Christian knowledge prevailing among them in general, and an eager desire of being instructed in christian doctrine and manners. This has prompted them to ask many pertinent as well as important questions; the answers to which have tended much to enlighten their minds, and promote their knowledge in divine things. Many of the doctrine I have delivered, they have queried with me about, in order to gain further light and insight into them; particularly the doctrine of predestination: and have from time to time manifested a good understanding of them, by their answers to the questions proposed to them in my catechetical lectures.
They have likewise queried with me, respecting a proper method as well as proper matter of prayer, and expressions suitable to be used in that religious exercise; and have taken pains in order to the performance of this duty with understanding. They have likewise taken pains, and appeared remarkably apt, in learning to sing psalm tunes, and are now able to sing with a good degree of decency in the worship of God. They have also acquired a considerable degree of useful knowledge in the affairs of common life: so that they now appear like rational creatures, fit for human society, free of that savage roughness and brutish stupidity, which rendered them very disagreeable in their pagan state.
They seem ambitious of a thorough acquaintance with the English language, and for that end frequently speak it among themselves; and many of them have made good 419proficiency in their acquirement of it, since my coming among them; so that most of them can understand a considerable part, and some the substance of my discourses, without an interpreter, (being used to my low and vulgar methods of expression,) though they could not well understand other ministers.
And as they are desirous of instruction, and surprisingly apt in the reception of it, so Divine Providence has smiled upon them in regard of proper means in order to it. The attempts made for the procurement of a school among them have been succeeded, and a kind Providence has sent them a schoolmaster of whom I may justly say, I know of “no man like minded, who will naturally care for their state.” He has generally thirty or thirty-five children in his school: and when he kept an evening school (as he did while the length of the evenings would admit of it) he had fifteen or twenty people, married and single.
The children learn with surprising readiness; so that their master tells me, he never had an English school that learned, in general, comparably so fast. There were not above two in thirty, although some of them were very small, but what learned to know all the letters in the alphabet distinctly, within three days after his entrance upon his business; and divers in that space of time learned to spell considerably: and some of them, since the beginning of February last, 425425 In less than five months, viz. from Feb. 1, to June 19. (at which time the school was set up,) have learned so much, that they are able to read in a Psalter or Testament, without spelling.
They are instructed twice a week in the Reverend Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, viz. on Wednesday and Saturday. Some of them, since the latter end of February, (at which time they began,) have learned to say it pretty distinctly by heart considerably more than half through; and mast of them have made some proficiency in it.
They are likewise instructed in the duty of secret prayer, and most of them constantly attend it night and morning, and are very careful to inform their master if they apprehend any of their little school-mates neglect that religious exercise.
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