CHAP. III. Directions towards the conversion of the Natives.
SOme give violent counsell here, presuming they find it in that parable, Luk. 14. 23. compell them to come in; but judicious aAustin calls this A∣moris, non timoris tractum, not a force of feare, but of love, producing the example of a sheepe following the shepherd holding a green bough in his hand; and tis the sentence of a serious Historian b among the Gen∣tiles, such are worthy of pitty not hatred, that erre from the truth, for they doe it not willingly, but being mistaken in judgement, they adhere to their first recei∣ved opinions; and the Saints in the first times never thought outward compulsion a fit meane to draw on in∣ward assent. The Evangelicall Prophet foretold this, They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountaine saith the Lord, Esa. 65 last. And our most deare Lord him∣selfe saith, The sonne of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them, Luk. 9. 56. Saint Iames derives the pedigree of that wisdome which hath bitter envying and strife, though it be but in heart, though it may rejoyce and thinke highly of it selfe, yet its parentage is from that Cerberus of iniquity, the world, the flesh, and the Page 69 devill, Jam. 3. 15. But regenerated Saints delight surely in that wisdome which is from above, and that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated, full of mercy, &c. Jam. 3. 17. Full of mercy, no roome ther∣fore for violence and cruelty; and the holy men of the next ages were children of this wisdome. 'Tis not Re∣ligion, saith Tertullianc, to compell Religion, which ought to be introduced by perswasion, not force; for even sacrifices of old were expostulated from willing mindes; our Church hath nothing to doe with murther, and bonds. dAthanasius never committed any man to a Goaler, saith hee himselfe in his Apology; and againe, the truth is not to be preached with swords, and darts, and Armies, but by reason and Arguments, which finde no place among them whose contradiction is re∣quited with suffering, banishment, and death: the An∣cient Christians abound with mentionings of this kind; It is said indeed of eCharles the great, that conquering the Saxons, he commanded them to embrace Christia∣nity, and that he dealt in such a manner with the Hunga∣rians, and some others; yea and though there be that speake the like of Constantine, yet Eusebiusf writeth confidently, he wished all, commanded no man to be a Christian, and for this Orosiusg commends him, that he shut up the Pagan Temples, but offer'd no violence to mens persons. The Devill indeed, because he is no friend to truth, comes with axes and hatchets, but our Saviour is gentle, and with a sweet voice saith, Open unto me my sister, my love, &c. Cant. 5. 2, 5. and if they open, he enters, if not, he departeth, saith Athanasius in the fore-cited place.
Foure things did especially assist in the first cover∣ting of people to Christ, besides those miraculous Page 70 helps; and if they be now conscienciously practised, God will shew himselfe mervellous in his blessing. 1. Language, the necessity thereof was visible in those cloven tongues as of fire, the history whereof wee read Act. 2. 1. &c. Men must learne the speech of the Na∣tives, that dealing by Interpreters must needs be diffi∣cult, tedious, and not so successefull; Meinardush of old first gained the tongue of the Livonians, and then became an happy instrument of their conversion; and iChrysostome did the like with the Scythians; and the French Colony k propounded and promised the same course at their first planting in America, as they certi∣fied Mr Calvin in their letters; and the English in lVir∣ginia labouring to bring the Natives to Christianity, were woefully impeded therein by the ignorance of their language, which defect in themselves they did both acknowledge and bewaile. 2. Labouring in the word was required and practised, Mat. 28. Act. 20. 18. and passim Preachers should be appointed with all dili∣gence to instruct the Indians; for men are begotten to Christ by the word of truth, Jam. 1. 18. The Iberians m received the first inckling of the gospell by a Chri∣stian maid-servant that was a captive among them; and they sent afterwards unto Constantine the Emperour for Preachers; the old Indian told the Spanish priest n complaining of their aversenesse to the Gospell, The lawes of Christ wee confesse are better than ours, but wee cannot learne them for want of teachers, wherein he spake the truth, the very truth saith Acosta, to our very shame and confusion. 3. The piety and holinesse of those Apostolicall Christians was exceeding and exem∣plary, by which as well as by their preaching they woo'd and wonne Kingdomes and people to Christianity; Page 71 their enemies could find no other fault in them, but that that they were Christians: our deare Masters generall command was universally practised, the light of their holy lives did shine to Gods glory, and the benefit of o∣thers; thus Victor Vticensiso sheweth that Caprapicta was converted as well by the piety and godlinesse, as by the preaching of the Africans; as on the other side the impiety of the Spaniards deterred the Americans from the Gospell. 4. Blessing was fetched downe from heaven by prayer, this was their 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, their only worke in a manner, prayer and ministration of the word, Act. 6. 4. Thus pSocrates reporteth, that after seven daies fasting and supplication the Burgundians were Christi∣anized; so Crantziusq tells of those northern Nati∣ons that by prayer and preaching they prevailed to bring many other people to Christ: If men doe now worke with these tooles, the building will goe up apace, the foundation being laid in the honour of God by the conversion of those that yet remaine in the shadow of death.; in all which some furtherance might be found, by knowing and observing the dispositions, fashions, and customes of the Natives, which would also in a good measure be understood by serious converses with them, and by severall bookes that from severall places upon se∣verall occasions have been written of them; and to all let be added studious industry, that some Indian children be taught Christianity, and trained up to such abilities that they may have skill to instruct their own Countrey men.
It was Gregories counsell to further the conversion of * our Countreymen here, they should buy English chil∣dren and youths of seventeen or eighteen yeeres, that might be educated in Gods service, and helpful this way. Page 72 The Franciscan that had been so many yeeres among them, and learned two of their languages, and used much diligence in this worke in his way, told Benzor, that of necessity such a course must be taken to Gospel∣lize them, all other endeavours would be fruitlesse and labour in vaine; and that writer s sheweth how those of Peru were well contented to deliver their young ones to be taught in Christianity; and surely their Fathers and Countrey-men would sooner listen unto them than unto strangers. And in all these the good counsell of the holy Apostle must be remembred, walke wisely toward them which are without, Colos. 4. 5. not onely in watchfulnesse and care to prevent all dangers from them, but in the most pious wisdome of winning soules, Prov. 11. 30. by setting before them in practise also the ex∣amples of every grace and vertue, with the perfect ha∣tred of all vice and ungodlinesse; and let me have favour here to commend 3 or 4 cautions.