Apostolic worship

Daily Reading for September 22 • Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852

August 17. Some time ago I had heard of the scattered remnants of the Oneida and Mohawk Tribes who still retained the use of our Liturgy, once taught them by the British Missionaries when they resided under that government. It was my most anxious wish to see and converse with them. This wish it pleased God most graciously to gratify. I paid them a visit, setting off from Mr. Woodward’s after divine service and a sermon. We lodged at Mr. Coles’s, the last house in the white settlements.

August 18. The morning of the 18th of August gave some hopes of a fair and pleasant day, but it proved otherwise. The sky was soon overcast, and a dark gloom hung over the forest, already dark and gloomy by the thickness of the deep green foliage. Our way was nearly west, towards the Sandusky river, and lay through a pathless desert, with hardly a trace to guide our steps; but confident in the goodness of our cause, and the protection and blessing of the common father of men and nations, we set forward. The beauty of an open Oakland scenery for a time cheered us; but it soon changed to a thick dark underleafed forest, in which, having missed our path, we travelled in the rain, it was judged, five-and-twenty miles, before we reached the huts of the Indians we were seeking.

To us, wet, hungry and waysore, these little shelters from the storm appeared like the abodes of comfort. Some aged men and women of the Mohawks, fit emblems of their tribe, once vigorous, now in decay, met us at their lowly cabin doors. My worthy friend and guide, the Rev. Mr. Coe, who had seen and known these interesting people before, now told them my name and errand. I passed around their little settlement, and the evening and the morning were spent in trying to do them good. I found them not like heathens. They had known Jesus their Creator and Saviour, from their youth, and the liturgy and formularies of the Church of England, with part of the book of Genesis, and the Gospel of St. Mark, translated into their language, A.D., 1787, had been the blessed means by which this faith has been taught and handed down from their forefathers.

What a comment this, on the great utility of accompanying the translation of the scriptures, with the formularies of primitive devotion! And what an overpowering refutation is this of the ungodly objections made to the Christianizing of the heathen, by diffusing the light of the Holy Bible among them! From this instance of God’s blessing on the means, let Christians take courage. Their bread being cast by faith on the waters of God’s providence, shall return blessed after many days; and though now through much persecution, from the hosts of infidelity, they go on their way weeping; yet if they persevere, the whole world will, like a ripe field of corn, come to the Christian faith with joy, and bring their sheaves of holy fruit with them.

August 19. Divine service was performed with these Indians, on the morning of this day; though it rained incessantly, they came in goodly numbers, and seemed with one heart and voice to join in the responses, as the prayers were read by myself, and repeated by an elderly person in their language. By their apparent simplicity and godly sincerity, I was reminded of the accounts given us of the Apostolic worship.

From Reminiscences of Bishop Chase, numbers 5 and 6 (New York: R. Craighead, 1843).

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