Page images

spect to some religious opinions, there will always be much difference of sentiment among even the true followers of our Lord; but all who have a fair claim to that character will feel themselves under great obligations to Mr. Milner for the boldness and ability with which he has asserted and vindicated the evangelical doctrines of original sin, salvation by grace through faith in a crucified Redeemer, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit. He loses indeed no opportunity of illustrating these grand truths, and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith, of which he never speaks but with a manifest impression of its importance. Should any of his readers conceive, that he lays too much stress on the single point of the necessity of faith in the atonement and grace of Christ, let them reflect, that in the view of Mr. Milner, and as we conceive in that of the inspired writers, it is a point most intimately and inseparably connected with every branch of Christian verity, lying indeed at the root of all true religion; and that with him as with them, it is always a practical truth, producing necessarily, when rightly and cordially received, holiness of heart and life.

Perhaps there is no excellence so predominant in Mr. Milner's work, as the genuine piety which appears in every page. The author does not speculate respecting Christianity with the cold, philosophical spirit, so congenial to the taste of the present age; but feeling all his own present happiness and future hopes to be centered in the gospel, he commends it with honest warmth to the affections of his


readers. His heart seems to glow with love to the Redeemer of mankind, whose glory he labours to exalt. He appears also deeply interested in the we!fare of his fellow creatures, and shews a constant solicitude to promote their salvation. And while the luminous piety of his own mind beams forth upon his readers, and kindles their devout affections, his writings are eminently calculated to enlighten and instruct them. We rise from the perusal of this history with far other impressions of the value and excellence of Christianity, than are produced by almost any other historical work: our faith is strengthened, our hope elevated, and our souls animated with a desire to be followers of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. Defects may undoubtedly be pointed out, but they are chiefly the defects of a vigorous mind grasping at great objects, and indifferent to those smaller points which might distract the attention. Much allowance must also be made, when, as in the present case, a work of such magnitude and difficulty is executed in the short intervals of leisure redeemed from numer: ous and laborious employments, and amid the interruptions occasioned by frequent attacks of sickness.

On the whole, we do not hesi tate confidently and earnestly to recommend this history as a valu able addition to the library of every Christian; as a work in which instruction is happily blend, ed ed with interesting narrative, which the young may be allured to read for the entertainment it affords, and which the advanced

Christian will prize for the ediǹcation he may derive from it. We are greatly mistaken if it will not prove highly useful in imparting just views of the nature of true religion, and in leading many to feel the supremely important obligations of Christianity. The pious author has al

ready entered into his rest, and is enjoying the fruit of his labours in a better world; but though dead, he yet speaketh, and we have no doubt will long continue to speak to the improvement, comfort and everlasting benefit of thousands.

Religious Intelligence.


An Account of the origin and progress of the mission to the Cherokee Indians, in a series of Letters from the Rev. Gideon Blackburn to the Rev. Dr. Morse.


Maryville, Feb. 8, 1808.

REV. SIR, SUFFER me to interrupt the course of my narrative by filling this sheet with a description of one of the dances of our Indians, called the Eagle-tail dance. I am persuaded that it was once a religious ceremony; that it originated in the East; and is enigmatical. Though it has passed through the lapse of ages, it still wears a strong appearance of the mysticism of the ancient mythology. But as religion was then used as a machine of state policy, this might have been used in that way.

The occasion of the dance is the killing of an eagle. Immediately on this joyful event, the town to which the person belongs, with some other towns in the vicinity, send word to some town or towns at a distance, that on a certain day, they will bring them the tail of an eagle. Before the day appointed, the party, who are to bring the tail, carefully select from the woods a stick having many limbs, which they cut off two or three inches from the stem, and on the top they spread the tail and bind it fast with ligatures, and also carry with them most of the feathers of the eagle, bound in little bundles: while the

party, who are to receive them, provide a block of wood, carved in the figure of a man's head, fasten it to a pole, and set it in the ground in the spot designed for the place of meeting. This done, all assemble in the town-house, and wait the approach of their friends, who come carrying the tail in triumph, attended by the sound of the drum and other music. Having arrived at a convenient place, and sufficiently near to be distinctly heard by those in the town-house, they are formed into order by their principal chief, who distributes the bunches of feathers among the chiefs and warriors of his party. They then raise the war whoop, which is three times repeated, and as often answered by those within. They march forward about 100 yards; halt, and whoop once; are distinctly answered; so a second and third time. At the third of these single shouts, those within march out, directing their course towards the figure of the man as the central point. When arrived within ten steps of each other they halt. The head meu of each party distin guish themselves in front. After a moment's pause, the chief of the town company draws his sword, vapors astonishingly, and, at length,

with menacing brow and horrid threats, he draws towards this figure, (a feigned enemy) and gives it a fatal blow, lays it prostrate, then leaps, brandishes his sword, and exerts every nerve, as if in the severest contest. He then exultingly passes to the chief of the opposite party, waves his sword over his head and the heads of the other chiefs, dancing before them, and singing of his warlike exploits. As soon as this scene is over, one of the chiefs gives him a bunch of the feathers, with which he returns in extatic triumph, and gives it to one of his men. A second chief goes through the same ceremony, is treated the same way, and returns with his prize, and so on, till all the bunches of feathers are transferred to the town party. Then the head man of the advancing party bears the tail in triumph, and presents it to the chief who first drew his sword; he receives it with dignity, and bears it, with solemn and majestic step, to the place where the supposed slaugh. tered enemy lies. He sticks it in the ground, and each one brings his bunch of feathers, and hangs it on the cut branches of the pole. The companies then unite, and one, expert in the mystery of the dance, leads them through mysterious evolutions to the townhouse. After many maneuvres they enter and march round it, as if surveying a field of battle, until a signal is given, and the ceremony ceases till after dark, when a new and interesting scene commences. A fire is kindled in the centre of the townhouse, and a band of music, consisting of drums, cane whistles, gourds, and shells, filled with pebbles or shot, with a monotonous vocal sound, are placed on one side at a distance from the fire, and at one end of the band a man is seated on a deerskin spread on the ground. The music proceeds nearly half an hour before any other exercises. At length a headman rises, holding some warlike instrument, which he brandishes over the heads of the musicians, who instantly cease, though the drum is still lightly beaten. He then proceeds to tell some exploit or warlike action of his life, accompanying the narrative with all the gestures, which

might have been supposed to attend it. At the conclusion he gives a whoop, which is answered by the band of music; the rest in solemn silence. He then begins to sing and dance with all the motions of a triumphant warrior. This continues about the space of a minute; the music in the mean time proceeding, until he again waves his instrument over their heads, at which they stop, and he proceeds, as before, to tell some other feat, and so on, till all his achievements are recited. At the close of the whole, he passes by the man seated on the deerskin, and throws him something, either money or clothing. He then sits down, and another rises, goes through the same ceremony, and retires; and so they proceed, until all the chiefs and warriors are fully satisfied. At the close, the collection, thus made, is divided; a large dividend is given to the person, who killed the eagle, and the remainder distributed to the band of music. As soon as this is done the males all partake of a meal in the townhouse, in which the females are not permitted to join. Supper being ended they mingle promiscuously, and spend the remainder of the night in their usual scenes of merriment.

This ceremony is so much degenerated, that very few of the younger ones know how to lead it, and none, even of the oldest, (as they themselves say) understand it so well as their fathers; nor indeed do they any of their dances or ceremonies. If we reflect on the usages of the Egyptians and yet see their bieroglyphics, as well as some other of the eastern nations, we may conjecture the origin of our Indians, and may probably infer the mode of their pas sage to America. Many of their ceremonies are evidently Jewish. If they are not descended from that nation, they must have descended from those sufficiently near to have learn ed their customs and mode of worship.

I shall remark more fully on this point in a future letter. I am, dear Sir, yours in the gospel of Jesus Christ,




From let

On the state of civilization of the Rus-
sian people, in relation to religion
and religious instruction.
ters written in March and April,
1806, by a cell informed German,
who has long resided in Russia.

THE multitude among the Russians is, in regard to mental culture, in the lowest degree of degradation; the labourer, the peasant, the mechanic, the soldier, can neither read nor write.

It would be too favourable if we calculated that one in a thousand of these classes could read. Catharine II. indeed, founded schools for the people in the several metropol itan cities, where reading and writing are taught gratis: but very few par ticipated in these advantages, and those only town-people. In Moscow, (Moskwa, in the Russian orthogra phy) where the population is 400,000, these schools had only 1000 scholars. The scholastic establishments which have been instituted in this reign are not properly calculated for the lower classes; and probably not only this generation, but several succeeding generations will pass away ere the Russian peasant will be in such a sit uation, that ability to read will become necessary for his children.

attend church regularly, but not by all. A translation in the common dialect of the country is much to be desired. But this would not only meet with many difficulties on the part of the translator, in relation to the language itself, but still greater and more essential on the part of the lower classes of the people. The necessary revision of the many orthographical errors, in the MSS. used in the 17th century, which were so gross as completely to pervert the meaning, although their use had been appointed by the patriarch Nicon, occasioned, as is well known, a schism which issued in the sect of Separatists, called Raskolniki, (Schismatics) or, as they call themselves, Staroviertzy, (old believers) which to the present moment is troublesome to the church, and to the state. To avoid such breaches in future, a law has been passed, by which no Bible or any part of a Bible, and especially no book used in the church, is allowed to be printed, except under the immediate inspection of the highest spiritual tribunal, the holy directing synod, and at their press; with ecclesiastical letters, in imitation of manuscript.

No Greek Bibles are found in Russia, because among a hundred clergymen not one understands Greek. The few Greek testaments which are used in some schools are procured from Leipzig. In the 16th century a Russian Bible was printed in Poland, which however has never been ac knowledged as canonical in that country. Copies of this work are now great rarities. In the middle of the 18th century, a superb edition of the Bible appeared in folio; of which a copy cost 51. Towards the close of that century, two editions of it appeared at Kiew (one in 3 octavo volumes, price 2. another in 3 folio volumes.) These editions might amount to 5 or 6,000 copies. Now, as it is supposed that Russia contains 40 millions of inhabitants, it may hence appear how scarce Bibles must be among them. Tracts of 100 wersts and more are known where a copy is considered as a rarity. In a peasant's family none is found; and very seldom in that of a nobleman or merchant. Even among the clergy there is a great want of this sacred book; and no desire is Zzz

The Greek church, however, has provided that her members shall not remain wholly unacquainted with the Bible. In the daily church service, which lasts many hours, besides the liturgies, which are read, lectures are delivered on various parts of the Old and New Testament, especially on the psalms, the gospels, and epistles, so that these three divisions of holy writ are read through more than once in a year, and therefore the constant attendants at church are sufficiently, and often astonishingly well acquainted with them. Nevertheless, the number of these constant attendants at church is but small. The church translation which has been introduced, is in the Sclavonian tongue, but not in the proper dialect of the country. On account of its so frequent use in the church service, this language is understood by niost who Vol. III. No. 12.

expressed to possess it. Those who cannot read, call themselves, and often with lamentation, blind. Others satisfy themselves with hearing the extracts from the Bible read daily, or on feast days. But in general little religious inclination is found in Russia, owing to the total want of religious education. No one, from the noble to the peasant, receives any other religious instruction, than the abovementioned hearing of the liturgy and lectures in the churches. And it would be very difficult to remove this inconvenience.

Ten years ago a very important religious society undertook the distribution of religious writings, and as they could not interfere with the books used in the church, they attempted to circulate edifying tracts gratis. But the society was suppressed, as suspected of political views, Besides these editions of the Bible, there are books of psalms, gospels, and epistles, in different editions, of all sizes, and at different and very low prices; intended chiefly for the use of the church. But those who desire it may provide themselves with Bibles, in Petersburg, Kiew, Moskwa, (although not at all times) at regular fixed prices, from the book warehouses of the synod. It is easiest to procure psalm books, they being the

most current.

Since the year 1766, German colonies have been established in the government of Saratow on the Wolga. There are thirteen Protestant parishes, at which are stationed Lutheran and Calvinistic ministers, who have been sent from Germany and Switzerland. From the present high price of the necessaries of life, they have much difficulty to maintain their families. The Unitas Fratrum (Moravians) provide Bibles printed at Halle, for their establishment in Sarepta. They receive from Germany, yearly, 100 Bibles, as many Testaments, about 50 Psalters, together with 250 or 300 books of other kinds. They have no printing press, and the expense of printing in Moskwa (which is the nearest printing place in the country) or at Petersburgh, is greater than that of procuring the books in Leipzig. The expense of paper and printing in the former pla

ces is very high; for example, an edi. tion of the feast psalms of the Moravians published in Moskwa, of 5 to 600 copies, cost in Sarepta, 18 to 20 roubles; each copy being 2 octavo leaves. Among the colonies on the Wolga, there are many Protestant families who have no Bible, but most have a New Testament. The great distance at which the German colonists are from their country, greatly increases the difficulty of procuring books of all kinds. The expenses of carriage, packages, commissions, and tolls, double the original cost at Leipzig on each book. For example: a Bible printed in Halle, which costs in letter press 12 groschen, (18 pence) and as much for binding, costs, at the colonies on the Wolga, about 3 roubles, (a rouble about 2s. 6d.) and from 3 to 20 copies according to the binding; which will only be of common leather, coloured, black, or marbled, with red edges: but in black cordovan, with gold edges and lettered, the same Bible in large octavo costs 5 roubles: and if bound in Sarepta, still more; therefore, they are generally ordered bound. The Moravians in Sarepta have made many attempts to spread the Christian relig. ion among the neighbouring Cal mucks; but hitherto without much effect. A translation has likewise been made of several extracts from the Bible into the Calmuck language, which has not been printed.

The empire of Russia is so extensive that many things may be true of some parts, which cannot properly be applied to others. Near the great towns, for instance, a love of reading may prevail by very much more than it did twenty years ago, yet letters and books may not have reached the county districts.-Can the Bible Society assist? [Panorama.


CARDINAL Cassoni, Secretary of State to his holiness the Pope, has published the following note:

ROME, FEB. 2, 1808. "His holiness, Pius VII. being unable to conform to all the demands made on him by the French government, and to the extent required of him, as it is contrary to his sacred

« PreviousContinue »