CHAP. II. Hope of the Natives conversion.
SAint Paul enforced himselfe to preach the Gospell where Christ was not yet named, Rom. 15. 20. such is the condition of that forlorne Nation, a good subject to worke upon, and if so good an end be pro∣pounded, the successe by divine blessing will be answe∣rable: and though the Countrey hath been knowne more than a Century of yeeres to Christians, yet those that came first among them, minded nothing lesse than to make them such. Benzoa relates abundantly how the Spaniards laid the foundation of their endea∣vours in bloud, their Fryers and religious persons at first instigating them thereto. That Christian King indeed gave them leave to subdue the Caniballs, but Page 60 they destinate all the Nations to bitter bondage, pro∣ceeding therein with so much rigour and severity, that the Dominicans are constrained at length to complaine thereof to the Pope Paul the third, imploring from him a Bull for the reinfranchisement of the Indians, which they obtained, and brought into Spaine, and presented it to Charles the fifth, who made them free to the griefe and losse of some of the Grandees, whose wealth and grandour consisted most in slaves; they were most pro∣digiously libidinous b also, contracting upon them∣selves most foule and pernicious diseases, that loath∣some lust first brought into this world, the filthy and infectious contagion, now so much spoken of. Their covetousnesse was notorious also, the Indians scorned them for it, and for their sakes abominated the name of Christianity; and when they tooke any c of the Spaniards, they would bind their hands, cast them up∣on their backs, and poure gold into their mouths, say∣ing, Eate, O Christians, eate this gold: Yea their lives were generally so odious, and opposite to godli∣nesse, that the same writer professeth, their scandalous conversation deterred the Americans from the Gospell; they did indeed teach some children of their Kings and Nobles, to read, and write, and understand the princi∣ples of Christianity, which they acknowledged to be good, and wondered that the Christians themselves so little practised them; and thus one of them bespake a d Spaniard, O Christian thy God forbids thee to take his name in vaine, and yet thou swearest upon eve∣ry light occasion, and forswearest; your God saith, you shall not beare false witnesse, and you doe nothing else almost but slander, and curse one another; your God commands you to love your neighbour as your selfe, Page 61 but how are the poore injured by you? how doe you cast them into prison, and fetters, that are not able to pay their debts? and you are so farre from relieving needy Christians, that you send them to our cottages for almes, spending your meanes and time in dice, thefts, contentions, and adulteries: He tells also of an Indian Prince, that was very apt and ingenious, he attained to a very good measure of learning and knowledge in reli∣gion, and was hopefull above others in both; but a∣bout the thirtieth yeere of his age, he deceived the ex∣pectation of friends, and became extremely debauched and impious, and being blamed for his bad change, his excuse was, since I became a Christian I have learned all this, to sweare by the name of God, to blaspheme the holy Gospell, to lie, to play at dice; I have gotten a sword also to quarrell, and that I may be a right Chri∣stian indeed, I want nothing but a concubine, which I intend also shortly to bring home to my house; And Benzo further addes, when himselfe reprehended an In∣dian for dicing and blaspemy e, hee was presently answered, I learned this of you Christians, &c. And if it be said, Benzo was an Italian, and laies the more load upon the Spaniards, as no friend to that Nation, Bar∣tholomeus de las Casasf one of their owne, and a Bishop also, is as liberall in telling their faults, as hath been in part mentioned already; the Natives indeed are capable and docible, but these other tooke no care to lead them unto godlinesse, either by word or example; but this, saith that Spanish Bishop, was the manner of their gospelizing them; In the night they published their edict, saying, Oyee Caciques and Indians of this place, which they named, wee let you all know, that there is one God, one Pope, one King of Castile, who is Page 62 the Lord of these lands, come forth therefore presently and doe your homage, and shew your obedience to him; so in the fourth watch of the night the poore Indians dreaming of no such matter, men women and children were burnt in their houses together: He affirmeth a∣gaine, they regarded no more to preach the Gospell of Christ to the Americans, than if they had bin dogs, and their soules to perish with their bodies; he tells further of one Colmenero, who had the soule-care of a great City, being asked what he taught the Indians committed to his charge, his answer was, he cursed them to the Devill; and it was sufficient if he said to them, per signin santin cruces, by the signe of the holy crosse. The Spanish instruction then, it is evident, was the Natives destruction, and not so much a plantation as a supplantation, not a consciencious teaching, but a Li∣on-like rather devouring of soules; their errors may warne and rectifie us, yea and sharpen our edge, seeing these poore Indians be not indocible, and shall be con∣verted; and be they Jewes or Gentiles, as there is much rudenesse and incivility among them, so many hope∣full things have bin observed of them; and as Ari∣stotle said of the humane soule at its first immission, it was a new planed table, The Americans in like man∣ner saith P. Martyrg, are capable, and docible, mindelesse of their owne ancient rites, readily believing and rehearsing what they be taught concerning our faith; Acostah declares them not onely to be teachable, but in many things excelling many other men, and that they have among them some politique principles admi∣red by our wisest statists; their naturall parts and abi∣lities were visible in that their whale-catching and con∣quest mentioned i already, yea they are saith Ben∣zoPage 63k, very apt to imitate the fashion of the Christi∣ans; if wee kneele at our devotion, they will kneele also; if wee reverently lift up our hands or eyes at prayer, they will do the like: Leriusl writeth severall observa∣ble things, of their aptnesse and capacity, that they be quickely sensible of their owne blindnesse, easily deter∣red from lying and stealing; they told us, m saith he, that very long agoe, they could not tell how many Moones since, one came among them cloathed and bear∣ded like unto us, endeavouring to perswade us unto ano∣ther kinde of Religion, but our Ancestors would not then heare; and if wee should now forsake our old usa∣ges, all our neighbours would scorne and deride us; hee found them of tenacious memories, if they heare but * once one of our names, they forget them no more: and as hee walked in the woods upon a time with three of those Brasilians, his heart was stirred up to praise God for his workes, it was in the spring of the yeere, and bee sang the hundred and fourth Psalme, one of them desi∣red to know the reason of his joy, which when he had mentioned, with the meaning also of the Prophet, the Indian replyed, Oh Mayr, so they call the French, how happy are you that understand so many secret things, that are hidden from us! And when the Natives of Virginiao heard Mr Harriot speake of the glory of the great God, shewing them his booke, the Bible, many of them touched it with gladnesse, kissed, and embraced it, held it to their breasts, and heads, and stroaked their bodies all over with it, and in pGuiana they desired Captaine Leigh to send into England for instructors, and one of them was so well taught, that he professed at his death, he died a Christian, a Christian of England. But the q Sunne-rising of the Gospel with the Indi∣ans Page 64 in New England, with the breaking forth of further light among them, and their enquity after the know∣ledge of the worlds Saviour, &c. hath been abundant∣ly discovered by our Brethren there of late, to our very great rejoycing, and for the encouragement of them and others. To what hath been said, let me adde what some r suppose they read foretold concerning the A∣mericans accesse to Christ, out of Philip. 2. 10. At the name of Iesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things on earth, and things under the earth, i. e. Heaven∣ly things, Saints already converted, earthly, such of the knowne world as the Apostles were then labouring to Gospellize, under the earth, that is, the Americans which are as under us, and as Antipodes to us, and live as it were under, beneath, in the lower parts of the world; for it is not like hee should speake of the cor∣porally dead, their bodies not being under, but rather in the earth, & inferi, infernus, doe not alwaies meane Hell, and the place of the damned, but the regions as under us sometimes, that be opposite to us, as that E∣pistle, said to be brought by a winde from the upper to the nether world, had those words first, Superi inferis salutem, wee above the earth wish health to them under it; and thus the captive Indians s told the English Planters: Wee therefore seeke your destruction, be∣cause wee heare you are a people come under the world to take our world from us. Others finde their conver∣sion praefigured in that threat, Mat. 25. 30. Cast the unprofitable servant into utter darknesse, those tenebrae ex∣teriores, outward darknesses t are regiones exterae, the outer and forraigne nations in the judgement of Remi∣gius; and some conceive the same to be fore-signified by the Prophet Obadiah, ver. 20. The captivity of Ierusalem Page 65 shall possesse the Cities of the South. i. e. of America, so situate, or, the dry cities, that Countrey being much un∣der the Torrid Zone; Acostau confidently applyeth thus this text, as some others doe that of Esa. 66. 19. Fredericus Lumniusw in his booke Devicinitate extre∣mijudicii, findes or makes divers other Scriptures look this way, upon that ground, three sorts of people should be in the Church of Christ at severall times, Jewes formerly, Christians now, and these Indians af∣terwards; he citeth Hilary thus understanding that pa∣rable of the talents, the possessor of five is the Jew, hee that had two talents is the Gentile, then knowne, hee that received one, a people all carnall and stupid; and according to this triple time of the Church, and or∣der of believers, hee expoundeth other Scriptures, Zach. 13. 8. Mat. 13. 3. and the three Watches, Luk. 12. 38. and craving pardon of his rashnesse, or rather fidei nescientis mensuram suam, of his faith not know∣ing its owne measure, hee further allegorizeth the for∣mer parable, The Jewes had one Talent, the ancient and present Christians two, Law and Gospell, and the servant to whom five Talents were given, by which hee gained other five, is the Indian and American nation, last in time converted, and called after others into the vine∣yard; but it shall be more abundant in obeying the Gospell, more fervent in charity, more zealous of good workes, and therefore Malvendax will have those to be the dry Cities before mentioned out of Obad. ver. 20. Because they shall so much thirst after the Gospell; for that younger sister of the foure, saith y one of her friends in this England, is now growne marriageable, and daily hopes to get Christ to her husband by the preaching of the Gospel. Cominesz said of the Eng∣lish Page 66 that they were much addicted to, and taken with Prophecies and predictions, I believe that is incident to all Nations, Some even among these have foretold of the mutation of their rites, and religion, as hath b••… mentioned, and in reference to their Gospelizing a a divine and propheticall Poet hath printed his thoughts hereof in severall particulars.
Page 67 Here is a sad prognosticke for this England, but a joyfull calculation for America, longing, thirsting A∣merica; and if such be their ripenesse and desire, wee should also make haste to satisfie them, The harvest there is great, and the Regions are already white thereto; the laborours indeed are few, tis more then time that the Lord of the harvest were more earnestly intreated to send, to thrust forth labourers into this Harvest: they that have gone into those parts have not all had a care of this, the harvest of soules: It was indeed the profession of Villa∣gagno, and the purpose surely of Peter Richiers, and Will. Charter Pastors, and others from Geneva, Anno, one thousand five hundred fifty six, to publish the Gos∣pel there, and they were very serious therein, yea and Lerius,b one of them, believes they had bin successe∣full also, if that Apostate Governour had not become a most cruell persecutor of the Reformed Religion in that strange land, where he most barbarously murthe∣red three of those his owne Countrey men, and the a∣foresaid Lerius piously took care that their Martyrdom should be commemorated by Io. Crispin in his History; and though these were not so happy in that holy attempt, others have not been, will not be discouraged in such a worke; a worke worthy of the choicest diligence of those that professe the glorious Gospel in sincerity, who have had also many and manifold experiments of divine favour in their severall preservations, directions, and accommodations; and because their friends (with praise to God, and thanks to them for what is done and declared already) desire to know more of those their pious and blessed endeavours, Let me adde a third con∣sideration, Wishes of furtherance and direction in such great and gracious employments, which shall Page 68 be, I hope, and pray, as a spurre to more able ad∣visers to bring in every one somewhat or other to∣wards the erecting of a Tabernacle for our God in A∣merica.