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them, are generally of the most irreligious and vicious sort ; and the conduct of one or two persons, however exemplary, is not sufficient to counterbalance the vicious behaviour of so many of the same denomination, and so to recommend Christianity to Pagans.
Another thing that serves to make them more averse to Christianity is, a fear of being enslaved. They are perhaps some of the most jealous people living, and extremely averse to a state of servitude; hence they are always afraid of some design forming against them. Besides, they seem to have no sentiments of generosity, benevolence and goodness ; so that if any thing be proposed to them for their good, they are ready rather to suspect that there is at bottom some design forming against them, than that such proposals flow from goodwill to them, and a desire of their welfare. Hence, when I have attempt ed to recommend Christianity to their acceptance, they have sometimes objected that the white people have come among them, have cheated them out of their lands, driven them back to the mountains, from the pleasant places they used to enjoy by the sea-side ; that therefore they have no reason to think the white people are now seeking their welfare ; but rather that they have sent me out to draw them together, under a pretence of kindness to them, that they may have an opportunity to make slaves of them, as they do of the poor negroes, or else to ship them on board their vessels, and make them fight with their enemies, &c. Thus they have oftentimes construed all the kindness I could shew them, and the hardships I have endured in order to treat with them about Christianity. “ He never would (say they) take all this pains to do us good; he must have some wicked design to hurt us some way or other.'
To give them assurance of the contrary is not an easy matter, while there are so many, who ac cording to their apprehension are only “ seeking their own,” not the good of others.
To remove this difficulty I inform them, that I am not sent out by those persons in these provinces, who they suppose have cheated them out of their lands; but by pious people at a great distance, who never had an inch
of their lands, nor ever thought of doing them any hurt; but here will arise so many frivolous and impertinent questions, that it would tire one's patience, and wear out one's spirits to hear them. They would say, “ But why did not these good people send you to teach us before, while we had our lands down by the sea-side. If they had sent you then, we should likely have heard you, and become Christians.”
The poor creatures still imagining that I should be much beholden to them, in case they would hearken to Christianity ; and insinuating that this was a favour they could not now be so good as to shew me, seeing they had received so many injuries from the white people.
Another spring of aversion to Christianity in the Indians is, their strong attachment to their own religious notions, if they may be called religious, and the early prejudices they have imbibed in favour of their own frantic and ridiculous kind of worship. What their notions of God are in their Pagan state, it is difficult precisely to determine. I have taken much pains to inquire of my Christian people, whether before their acquaintance with Christianity, they imagined there was a plurality of great invisible powers, or whether they supposed but one such being, and worshipped him in a variety of forms and shapes; but I cannot learn any thing of them so as to be fully satisfied upon the point. Their notions in thạt state were so prodigiously dark and confused, that they seemed not to know what they thought themselves. But so far as I can learn, they had a notion of a plurality of invisible deities, and paid some kind of homage to them promiscuously, under a great variety of forms and shapes. It is certain that those who yet remain Pagans pay some kind of superstitious reverence to beasts, birds, fishes, and even reptiles; that is, some to one kind of animal, and some to another. They do not indeed suppose a divine power essential to, or inhering in these creatures, but that some invisible beings, not distinguished from each other by certain names, but only notionally, communicate to these animals a great power, either one or other of them, just as it happens, or perhaps sometimes all of them, and so make these creatures the immediate authors of good to certain
persons. Hence such a creature becomes -sacred to the persons to whom he is supposed to be the immediate author of good, and through him they must worship the invisible powers, though to others he is no more than another creature. Another animal perhaps is looked upon to be the immediate author of good to another person, and consequently he must worship the invisible powers in that animal.
And I have known a Pagan burn fine tobacco for incense, in order to appease the anger of that invisible power which he supposed presided over rattle-snakes, because one of these animals was killed by another Indian near his house.
After the strictest inquiry respecting their notions of the Deity, I find that in ancient times, before the coming of the white people, some supposed there were four invisible powers who presided over the four corners of the earth. Others imagined the sun to be the only deity, and that all things were made by him: others at the same time having a confused notion of a certain body or fountain of deity, somewhat like the anima mundi, so frequently mentioned by the more learned ancient heathens, diffusing itself to various animals, and even to inanimate things, making them the immediate authors of good to certain persons, as was before observed, with respect to various supposed deities. But after the coming of the white people, they seemed to suppose there were three deities, and three only, because they saw people of three different kinds of complexion, viz. English, Negroes, and themselves.
It is a notion pretty generally prevailing among them, that it was not the same God made them, who made us; but that they were made after the white people; which further shews, that they imagine a plurality of divine powers. And I fancy they suppose their God gained some special skill by seeing the white people made, and so inade them better : for it is certain they look upon themselves, and their methods of living, which they say their God expressly prescribed for them, as greatly preferable to the white people, and their methods. Hence they will frequently sit and laugh at them, as being good for nothing else but to plough and fatigue themselves with hard labour ; while they enjoy the satisfaction of stretching themselves on the ground, and sleeping as much as they please; and have no other trouble but now and then to chase the deer, which is often attended with pleasure rather than pain. Hence also many of them look upon it as disgraceful for them to become Christians, as it would be esteemed among Christians for any to become Pagans. But though they suppose our religion will do well enough for us, because prescribed by our God, yet it is no ways proper for them, because not of the same make and original. This they have sometimes offered as a reason why they did not incline to hearken to Christianity.
They seem to have some confused notion about a fu. ture state of existence, and many of them imagine that the chichung, i. e. the shadow, or what survives the body, will at death go southward, and in an unknown but curious place, will enjoy some kind of happiness, such as hunting, feasting, dancing, and the like. And what they suppose will contribute much to their happiness in that state is, that they shall never be weary of those entertainments. It seems by this notion of their going southward to obtain happiness, as if they had their course into these parts of the world from some very cold climate, and found the further they went southward the more comfortable they were ; and thence concluded, that perfect felicity was to be found further towards the same point.
They appear to entertain some faint and glimmering notion about rewards and punishments, or at least happiness and misery in a future state, that is, some that I have conversed with, though others seem to know of no such thing. Those who suppose this, seem to imagine that most will be happy, and that those who are not so will be punished: only with privation, being only excluded the walls of that good world where happy souls shall dwell. These rewards and punishments they suppose to depend entirely upon their conduct, as to the duties of the second table, i. e. their behaviour towards mankind, and seem, so far as I can see, not to imagine, that they have any reference to their religious notions or practices, or any
thing that relates to the worship of God. I remember I once consulted a very ancient but intelligent Indian upon this point, for my own satisfaction. I asked him whether the Indians of old times supposed there was any thing of the man that would survive the body ? He replied, Yes. I asked him where they supposed its abode would be ? He replied, “ It would go southward." I asked him fur. ther, whether it would be happy there? He answered, after a considerable pause, “ that the souls of good folks would be happy, and the souls of bad folks miserable.' I then asked him, who he called bad folks ? His answer was, “ Those who lie, steal, quarrel with their neighbours, are unkind to their friends, and especially to aged parents, and, in a word, such as are a plague to mankind." These were his “ bad folks;" but not a word was said about their neglect of divine worship, and their badness in that respect.
They have indeed some kind of religious worship, are frequently offering sacrifices to some supposed invisible powers, and are very ready to impute their calamities in the present world to the neglect of these sacrifices; but there is no appearance of reverence or devotion in the homage they pay them; and what they do of this nature, seems to be done only to appease the supposed anger of their deities, to engage them to be placable to themselves, and do them no hurt; or at most, only to invite these powers to succeed them in those enterprises they are engaged in respecting the present life. In offering these sacrifices they seem to have no reference to a future state, but only to present comfort; and this is the account my Interpreter always gives me of this matter. “ They sacrifice,” says he, “ that they may have success in hunting and other affairs, and that sickness and other calamities may not befal them, which they fear in the present world, in case of neglect; but ey do not suppose God will ever punish them in the coming world for neglecting to sacrifice.” Indeed they seem to imagine that those whom they call « bad folks” are excluded from the company of good people in that state, not so much because God remembers and is determined to punish them for sin of any kind,