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Journal Excerpts Part 1

By David Brainerd

      CROSSWEEKSUNG, in New Jersey, June, 1745.

      June 19. Having spent most of my time for more than a year past amongst the Indians in the Forks of Delaware in Pennsylvania; and having in that time made two journeys to Susquehannah river, far back in that province, in order to treat with the Indians there, respecting Christianity; and not having had any considerable appearance of special success in either of those places, which damped my spirits, and was not a little discouraging to me: upon hearing that there was a number of Indians in and about a place called (by the Indians) Crossweeksung in New Jersey, near fourscore miles south-eastward from the Forks of Delaware, I determined to make them a visit, and see what might be done towards the christianizing of them; and accordingly arrived among them this day.

      I found very few persons at the place I visited, and perceived the Indians in these parts were very much scattered, there being not more than two or three families in a place, and these small settlements six, ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty miles, and some more, from the place I was then at. However, I preached to those few I found, who appeared well disposed, and not inclined to object and cavil, as the Indians had frequently done elsewhere.

      When I had concluded my discourse, I informed them (there being none but a few women and children) that I would willingly visit them again the next day. Whereupon they readily set out, and travelled ten or fifteen miles, in order to give notice to some of their friends at that distance. These women, like the woman of Samaria, seemed desirous that others might "see the man that told them what they had done" in their lives past, and the misery that attended their idolatrous ways.

      June 20. Visited and preached to the Indians again as I proposed. Numbers more were gathered at the invitations of their friends, who heard me the day before. These also appeared as attentive, orderly, and well disposed as the others. And none made any objection, as Indians in other places have usually done.

      June 22. Preached to the Indians again. Their number, which at first consisted of about seven or eight persons, was now increased to near thirty. There was not only a solemn attention among them, but some considerable impressions, it was apparent, were made upon their minds by divine truths. Some began to feel their misery and perishing state, and appeared concerned for a deliverance from it.

      Lord's day, June 23. Preached to the Indians, and spent the day with them. - Their number still increased; and all with one consent seemed to rejoice in my coming among them. Not a word of opposition was heard from any of them against Christianity, although in times past they had been as opposite to any thing of that nature, as any Indians whatsoever. And some of them not many months before, were enraged with my interpreter, because he attempted to teach them something of Christianity.

      June 24. Preached to the Indians at their desire, and upon their own motion. To see poor pagans desirous of hearing the gospel of Christ, animated me to discourse to them, although I was now very weakly, and my spirits much exhausted. They attended with the greatest seriousness and diligence; and there was some concern for their souls' salvation apparent among them.

      June 27. Visited and preached to the Indians again. Their number now amounted to about forty persons. Their solemnity and attention still continued; and a considerable concern for their souls became very apparent among sundry of them.

      June 28. The Indians being now gathered, a considerable number of them, from their several and distant habitations, requested me to preach twice a day to them, being desirous to hear as much as they possibly could while I was with them. I cheerfully complied with their motion, and could not but admire the goodness of God, who, I was persuaded, had inclined them thus to inquire after the way of salvation.

      June 29. Preached again twice to the Indians. Saw, as I thought, the hand of God very evidently, and in a manner somewhat remarkable, making provision for their subsistence together, in order to their being instructed in divine things. For this day and the day before, with only walking a little way from the place of our daily meeting, they killed three deer, which were a seasonable supply for their wants, and without which, it seems, they could not have subsisted together in order to attend the means of grace.

      Lord's day, June 30. Preached twice this day also. Observed yet more concern and affection among the poor heathens than ever; so that they even constrained me to tarry yet longer with them; although my constitution was exceedingly worn out, and my health much impaired by my late fatigues and labours, and especially by my late journey to Susquehannah in May last, in which lodged on the ground for several weeks together.

      July 1. Preached again twice to a very serious and attentive assembly of Indians, they having now learned to attend the worship of God with christian decency in all respects. - There were now between forty and fifty persons of them present, old and young. - I spent some considerable time in discoursing with them in a more private way, inquiring of them what they remembered of the great truths that had been taught them from day to day; and may justly say, it was amazing to see how they had received and retained the instructions given them, and what a measure of knowledge some of them had acquired in a few days.

      July 2. Was obliged to leave these Indians at Crossweeksung, thinking it my duty, as soon as health would admit, again to visit those at the Forks of Delaware. When I came to take leave of them, and spoke something particularly to each of them, they all earnestly inquired when I would come again, and expressed a great desire of being further instructed. And of their own accord agreed, that when I should come again, they would all meet and live together during my continuance with them; and that they would do their utmost endeavours to gather all the Indians in these parts that were yet further remote. And when I parted, one told me with many tears, "She wished God would change her heart:" another, that "she wanted to find Christ:" and an old man that had been one of their chiefs, wept bitterly with concern for his soul. I then promised them to return as speedily as my health and business elsewhere would admit, and felt not a little concerned at parting, lest the good impressions then apparent upon numbers of them, might decline and wear off, when the means came to cease; and yet could not but hope that he who, I trusted, had begun a good work among them, and who I knew did not stand in need of means to carry it on, would maintain and promote it. At the same time I must confess, that I had often seen encouraging appearances among the Indians elsewhere prove wholly abortive; and it appeared the favour would be so great, if God should now, after I had passed through so considerable a series of almost fruitless labours and fatigues, and after my rising hopes had been so often frustrated among these poor pagans, give me any special success in my labours with them. I could not believe, and scarce dared to hope, that the event would be so happy, and scarce ever found myself more suspended between hope and fear, in any affair, or at any time, than this.

      This encouraging disposition and readiness to receive instruction, now apparent among these Indians, seems to have been the happy effect of the conviction that one or two of them met with some time since at the Forks of Delaware, who have since endeavoured to show their friends the evil of idolatry, &c. And although the other Indians seemed but little to regard, but rather to deride them, yet this, perhaps, has put them into a thinking posture of mind, or at least, given them some thoughts about Christianity, and excited in some of them a curiosity to hear, and so made way for the present encouraging attention. An apprehension that this might be the case here, has given me encouragement that God may in such a manner bless the means I have used with Indians in other places, where there is as yet no appearance of it. If so, may his name have the glory of it; for I have learned by experience that he only can open the ear, engage the attention, and incline the heart of poor benighted, prejudiced pagans to receive instruction.

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