A Meeting of Minds
The most important part of Mahican history in relation to the Moravian missions and Tschoop occupies much of the first chapters of PART II of Loskiel’s 3 volume publication. The section begins with “CHAPTER I. Establishment of a Mission among the Indians in North America by the Brethren.” Following a 6 page essay on the history and purpose of the Moravian missions, Loskiel begins his review of the Shekomeko experience.
It is important to note that when reviewing these writings, evidence for cultural bias appears throughout this book. It was fairly commonplace for the time for such versions of history to be told and published. Reinterpreting history was no doubt one of the most important skills of a successful writer during these times. This style of writing appears in two of the most noted versions told of Shekomeko history, Philip’s Smith version of this story in his history of NewYork writings and Loskiel’s book on the missions. Loskiel is essentially reprinting Smith’s version, slightly modifying it to meet the needs of his authorities as well as his readers.
In Loskiel’s text, one story appears in its entirety, reviewing just how agent Rauch first came to learn about, introduce himself, and then finally get to know the Mahican people. Decades earlier, in Philip Smith’s rendering of this same story, we are told that Rauch was at first rejected by the leaders Tschoop and Shabash, with Rauch referring to these two Indians, not necessary tribal leaders, as two drunkards who were too busy to be bothered by any Christian words of wisdom. According to Loskiel, however, this behavior was not as troubling, and in spite of it, Rauch was able to follow the tribe back to its settlement, where he then began his lengthy period of convincing them about his “truths”.
In Loskiel’s version of Smith’s story about Rauch, the following was penned:
“He arrived in Shekomeko August 16th, and was received in the Indian manner with much kindness. He immediately addressed them concerning the aim of his visit, nearly to the following effect : “I come hither from beyond the great ocean, to bring unto you the glad tidings, that God, our Creator, so loved us that He became a man, lived thirty years in this world, went about doing good to all men, and at last for our sins was nailed to the cross, on which he shed his precious blood and died for us, that we might be delivered from sin, saved by his merits, and become heirs of everlasting life. On the third day he rose again from the dead; ascended into Heaven, where lie sits upon his throne of glory, but yet is always present with us, though we fee him not with our bodily eyes; and his only desire is, to show his love unto us, &c.”
“They heard this unexpected address with great attention, and, to appearances, not without impression. But on the next day, when he began to speak with them on the same subject, he perceived with sorrow, that his words excited derision, and at last they openly laughed him to scorn. Not discouraged even by this behaviour, he was indefatigable in visiting the Indians daily in their huts, representing to them the total depravity of their hearts, and their blindness as to spiritual things, extolling the grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus, and the full atonement made by him, as the only way by which they might be saved from perdition.”
Not all of the untamed nature of Mahican behavior was lost through this retelling. Loskiel was sure to include this part of his message, but only afterwards, through the paragraphs that followed his initial introduction, i.e.
“For drunkenness and every other vice prevailed among the Indians in the most shocking degree, and robberies and murders were nothing uncommon. Nor would they listen to one word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but mocked and laughed, whenever his name was mentioned. These were Mahikander Indians ; but the Iroquois were no better, though some of them, having been baptized by Romish priests, wore beads and crucifixes, which they considered merely as additions to their Indian finery.”
Almost all missionary events are told as stories, each with its own series of lessons. Often phrased as parables,we sometimes read these accounts and have a hard time differentiating fact from fiction. Such was the case for Jesus’ writings, according to most missionaries. Such was the case for their own. With Loskiel’s version of Rauch and Tschoop’s story, such melodramaticism holds its own. This is not so much a retelling of history as much as it is a retelling of the missionary’s own experience, in missionary terms.
“On this occasion the missionary not only suffered in his mind, but had also to struggle with outward distress and famine.’ In travelling from one Indian town to the other, he suffered excessive heat and fatigue in the woods, having neither the means to keep on horse, nor money to hire a boat. Nor would any one receive him into his house; so that, according to his own expression, he was as one always seeking, and never finding. But he soon forgot this and every other grievance, when he discovered, that the word of the cross began to be the power of God unto salvation. Tschoop, the greatest drunkard amongst them, was the first, whose heart was powerfully awakened through the grace of Jesus Christ. He asked the missionary, what effects the blood of the Son of God, slain on the cross, could produce in the heart of man. Had the missionary received the most valuable present sent, it would not have afforded him a pleasure in the least degree equal to what he felt in hearing this question from a soul who fought salvation. His heart burned within him, whilst he testified to this poor heathen of the power of the blood of Jesus. Soon after this, Shabasch was also awakened, and the labor of the Holy Spirit became remarkably evident in the hearts of these two savages. Their eyes overflowed with tears, whenever Brother Rauch described to them the sufferings and death of our Redeemer. They often lamented their former blindness in worshipping idols, and their ignorance of their God and Savior, who had loved them so much, that he died to save them.”
So the same story is retold again by Loskiel, with a different emphasis. He tells us that Rauch was immediately convinced that these two Mahicans were “reborn” (to apply another period in this terminology) and that this meant he could cover the remaining members of this uncanny group.
To better understand Tschoop’s decision to hear what Rauch had to say, Tschoop later tells his people and converted followers his own version of this story in his own words. Resting in his tipi, living with the crippling effect of his condition, Tschoop retells his part of this story thusly:
“Brethren, I have been an heathen, and have grown old amongst the heathen ; therefore I know how heathen think. Once a preacher came and began to explain to us that there was a God. We answered— “Dost thou think us so ignorant as not to know that? Go back to the place from whence thou comest.’ Then again another preacher came and began to teach us, and to say— ‘You must not steal, nor lie, nor get drunk, &c.’—We answered—’ Thou fool, dost thou think that we don’t know that ?’ Learn first thyself, and then teach the people to whom thou belongest, to leave off these things. For who steals, or lies, or who is more drunken than thine own people ?’ And thus we dismissed him. After some time, Brother Christian Henry Rauch came into my hut, and sat down by me. He spoke to me nearly as follows:—‘I come to you in the name of the Lord of heaven and earth. He sends to let you know, that he will make you happy, and deliver you from the misery, in which you lie at present. To this end he became a man, gave his life as ransom for man, and shed his blood for him, &c. When he had finished his discourse, he lay down upon a board, fatigued by the journey, and fell into a sound fleep. I then thought: What kind of man is this ? There he lies and and sleeps. I might kill him, and throw him out into the wood, and who would regard it? But this gives him no concern. However, I could not forget his words. They constantly recurred to my mind. Even when I was asleep, I dreamt of that blood which Christ shed for us. I found this to be something different from what I had ever heard, and I interpreted Christian Henry’s words to the other Indians. Thus, through the grace of God, an awakening took place amongst us. I say therefore, Brethren, preach Christ our Savior and his sufferings and death, if you would have your words to gain entrance amongst the heathen.”
Months later, having heard about the successful encounters missionaries had with the Mahicans, the Count of the Moravians, Count Zinzendorf, decided it was time to visit these converts. After staying with the Shekomeko Indians for several days, during which he performed several baptisms, he prepared to take leave on September the 4th back for Bethlehem. But before taking his affectionate leave of these “worthy people”, he was surrounded by a large number of them, and ultimately watched as they sung him a hymn of thanksgiving to him in the Dutch language. He and his company then set out for Bethlehem, accompanied by some unbaptized Indians as guides. Along the way, two of them, having answered several questions he put to them in presence of the whole congregation in Bethlehem, the crowd’s cheerfulness and emotion led the Count to subsequently baptize them as well, whom he called David and Joshua. The Count had just made an important point with the leaders of this church of Moravian missions. This was the first baptism of Indians that took place in Bethlehem, preceded by more of the same within the unmodified wilderness setting of Shekomeko. The conversion process for ultimately the entire group of Mahicans was now underway.
From Bear to Lamb
On the 16th of April, in the same year the first sacramental transaction was performed in Shekomeko, Brother Rauch administered holy baptism to Tschoop, whom he called John. Tschoop, who formerly looked more like a wild bear than a human creature, had been transformed into a lamb. Those who knew him before this event took place were amazed by its outcome, which they took to be proof of many of the claims made by the Moravians. The effects these events had on the minds of the witnesses of Mahican decent was completely unexpected. Four more Mahicans were then baptised, after which a letter dictated by John to the Congregation in Bethlehem was sent from Shekomeko:
” My dear Brethren and Sisters,
“I love you much. The sensations of my heart I cannot describe. I feel that I love my Savior; but I see that much is still wanting. Formerly I did not know what it was to be a truly humble sinner, but now I find, that the poorer in spirit I am, the more happiness I enjoy. I perceive plainly, that there is no true pleasure but in communion with our Savior, nor will I have any, but in him. I cannot be humble enough, when I consider what he has done for me; for I was a very bad man, cold as a piece of ice, and dead as a stone. His blood has softened and warmed me. This is all I can say to my friends, the heathen Indians, for I always think, that when they feel – the power of our Savior’s blood in their hearts, they will be better in one hour, than I have been in two years: they know already, that all this is truth, for they now perceive that all those that continue in sin, do not believe on the great Son of God. Nothing is so important to me, as to hear of the blood of my Savior. I also perceive that it is the only thing which can melt the hearts of men. I am now like a piece of wood in his hands, and he may form me according to his good pleasure. I am ready to do every thing that is written in the Bible, with a willing heart. And I find it true, that I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I also believe that all what my teachers say, is really contained in the Bible, and the experience of my heart tells me, that it is. For my heart is also a book. I find in it every thing that I must tell and preach to my friends. I am also convinced, that it is very needful for us to form such a congregation, as the Bible describes, and to follow the rules contained therein. I long for it much, for we are a very wild people, but our Savior can make us tame and tractable. If we only become his good and willing children, then every thing will be easy, and may he grant us this grace for his blood’s sake. I salute all the Brethren and Sisters most cordially, being your poor sinner,
“John from amongst the Heathen”
Having a great desire to see the missionary Christian Henry Rauch at Shekomeko, the Count left Bethlehem in August with his daughter Benigna and Brother Anthony Seyffart. They passed over the Blue Mountains to Menistlng and Sopus, where they were joined by another party of Brethren coming from New York, and arrived on the 27th in Shekomeko, after passing through dreadful wildernesses, woods, and swamps, in which they suffered much hardship. The missionary received them into his hut with inexpressible joy, and the day following lodged them in a cottage of bark, erected for them. Count Zinzendorf afterwards declared this to have been the most agreeable dwelling he had ever inhabited. The joy he felt at seeing what the Lord had done in this place was very great, and his heart was filled with the most pleasing hopes for futurity. His chief and indeed most agreeable employment was to converse with the four baptized Indians. In a letter written at that time, he mentions, that his joy over them increased every day. It happened that a clergyman passing through Shekomeko, called on the Count, and entered into a dispute with him concerning the person of the Son of God. The Indian John lay ill on the floor, and began to pray that Jesus Christ would reveal himself to the clergyman. When he was gone, John exclaimed, ” O how will this man be once ashamed, when he learns to know the Lord Jesus !”
Fom Shekomeko to Bohemia and Back
According to Loskiel, Shekomeko was sufficiently supplied with missionaries. In Pachgatgoch, there was another medicine man yet to be converted. With the success of the mission at Shekomeko readily apparent, Brother Martin Mack and his wife decided to remove to Pachgatgoch where they built themselves a home resembling an Indian hut of bark. The Pachgatgoch setting was as innocent and serene as that of Shekomeko. Totally surrounded by hills and rocks, we are reminded of the Moravian interpetation of this natural setting. Its appearances reminded Brother Mack of a song commonly sung by the ancient Bohemian Brethren:
” The rugged rocks, the dreary wilderness,
” Mountains and woods, are our appointed place.
‘Midst storms and waves, on heathen shores unknown,
We have our temple, and serve God alone.”
West of Moravia, and north of Austria, Bohemia would later be a part of what is today called the Czech Republic. The edge of Bohemia was marked by mountains. There was one landmark mountain that captured the attention of Old Testament enthusiasts–Mount Tabor. The rolling hills of the Shekomeko area did not compare with this famous mountain in the Bible. Mountains located just to the west and immediately to the east of Shekomeko, did appear to possess some of these Biblical topographic features. To Moravians, local mountain tops like Hendrysen’s Mountain, Stissing Mountain, K’takanatschan (“the big mountain”, one of the highest points in the Taconics range) and other members of the Taghkanic or Taughannock (Taconic) Mountain range played an important role in their sense of place. It is possible that what we today call Stissing Mountain, served as their Mount Tabor, and the mountain in the distance, Mount Ararat.
Shekomeko and Pachgatgoch had appearances that were quite different from Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. The more crowded setting of the Bethlehem area made this area the center where many of the international visits by leaders in Moravia and the rest of Europe began their inland migrations to view the success of the missions on heathens surviving in these wilderness settings. For this reason it is not much of a surprise that nearly all of the documentation that survives on these missions in North America may be found in Bethlehem. From these letters we learn more about what role Shekomeko and the Shekomeko Mahican played in the National history of the Moravian fellowship. Many observations and comments are made in these documents about the prayer group meetings that were held when Shekomeko converts like John made their way down to Bethlehem in order to express their own experiences with the missions and the Moravian teachings.
Some of the most revealing notes about the religious experience the Mahicans had are detailed in a diary still in possession of the Moravain Library in Bethlehem, PA. These diary entries provide us detail about what events the Christian Indians engaged in as converts. These notes also provide us with insights into the types of activities that took place in Shekomeko as well, sometimes with direct reference to the Shekomeko religious experience.
The following notes on this part of Shekomeko history, quoted extensively from the Bethlehem diary, provide important insights into the details of the Moravian Missionary experience.
Sunday, January 19
Bryzelius conducted the Bible study. Döling preached in Maguntshe. At four o’clock in the morning, Br. Huber rode on horseback to Nazareth to report to the congregation about the accident at that place. Br. Pyrlaeus preached about the lowliness of the noble boy, Jesus. There were quite a number of strangers present. Br. Nitschmann returned from his visit to the country. Here and there, especially in the Oley mountains and at Heidelberg, he had met many souls who had had no knowledge of us and who had listened eagerly to his testimony about Jesus. He considered it most essential for the Wheel to search out these souls everywhere and to bring them peace. He also had had many requests for schoolmasters. Speaking was held for the brethren and sisters in preparation for Communion. Pyrlaeus conducted it for the Indian brethren who arrived today from Shecomeko. Gideon, Lucas, Josua, Mary, and our Thomas ate and drank the body and precious blood of Jesus with us. Andreas and Benjamin, who had not partaken of it as yet, witnessed it with glowing hearts. At five o’clock the lovefeast began, which consisted of bread and water. The congregation remembered our dear Br. Ludwig’s departure [from Bethlehem], which had taken place just a year ago, and what a small number we then were as we went to the Meal of the Lamb. Now, however, we are more than 160, even though the Savior has been very severe, and has not permitted some twenty or more to participate. We rejoiced at the growing number of believers and wished they would increase so much that our folds and stalls would be too small. In contrast to its joy, the congregation was sorrowful because of Br. Georg Kremser’s departure in such a way and the home-going of Sr. Bruker in Saint Thomas, when there is so great a shortage of female Workers there. Soon after the Footwashing and the Laying on of Hands, which took place with indescribable emotion on the part of the congregation, the Meal of Jesus’ Warriors was held in memory of His death and for new strength in spirit, soul, and body. Pyrlaeus served those who were sick. Eight on this side of the river and six on the other could not join us because they were not feeling well. Following the tender Kiss of Love, due to the lack of room we knelt in worship of the Lamb, and the Te Christum laudamus was sung, the Choirs taking successive parts. The address prior to Communion was exceptional; it was on the watchword for today regarding the Savior’s presence in His congregation and our abiding near His wounds and among His people. Br. Ludw. Hübner and Sr. Christina Krafft partook of Communion with the congregation for the first time to the abiding blessing of their hearts. We dispersed after one o’clock at night, and we all commended ourselves to the shrine of the wound hole.
Wednesday, July 15
Br. Schaw arrived from Schecomeko with letters from [New] York, Georgia, St. Thomas, and Checomeko. They reported to us that the people round about them were in mortal terror concerning the Indians from Canada. And on one occasion, when someone’s gun went off unexpectedly, the people who heard it thought that the enemy was already at hand and seized their weapons and also spread the alarm to the other neighboring towns. They promptly seized their weapons and took off to look for the Indians. Finally, however, they saw that they had been deceived, and there were various tales of that sort. They accused the brethren in Checomeko of siding with their enemies, and it was reported throughout the whole region that many hundred Canadian Indians lay around Checomeko and were being supplied by the Brethren with powder and lead. These reports caused the justices themselves to come and see that these were lies. Our adversaries, especially the doctor in Dover, charge that we are Roman Catholic; this is to be determined in court, and the Brethren have had to pledge that they will appear. They also are expected to join with those fighting the war, and Br. Almers, because he was unwilling, had to pay a fine of nineteen shillings. Even though the Enemy [Satan] seeks our harm, yet, because our Lord is seated on the right hand [of God], our Brethren are protected nonetheless. A school teacher named Sierrel from Hopwell [sic] in the Jerseys was here to visit Br. Bruce. He belongs to the P. [Presbyterian?] Church. He reported that the minister of their church at that place was an exceptionally bad fellow, a fornicator, skinflint, drunkard, and this openly. But he himself had a dead heart, and his visit here was for no good purpose. Early today Selikes left Bethlehem for Menissing and his friends because of restlessness of heart. For he is said to have heard a brother say on some occasion that whoever has an evil heart is out of place in Bethlehem.
Tuesday, October 20
The wagon left again for the city this morning to get shingles and other items. Caske went with it. This evening Br. Almers came from Staten Island and brought letters from New York, in which Br. Gambold reported that the Assembly at that place finally had agreed to prepare an act directed against us. It was approved by the members on September 13/24 and confirmed and signed by the Governor on September 21/October 2. A copy of it came along. Br. Boehler was invited by most of our New York people to come there, to baptize Br. Noble’s little son, born on October 12th, and to visit them.
Okely came from Philadelphia and brought the same news, together with other letters.
Bruce returned from Menissing. He had also visited the Irish along the Delaware yesterday.
Saturday, January 9
It [the watchword] read: Take these words with you and be converted to the Lord and sa to Him, “Forgive us all our sins and y be good to us. Then we will offer You the calves [i.e., sacrifices; see Hosea 14:2] of our lips. ” You poor children of grace, who have the fame of sinners more than one thousand others and have your good King, to Whom no mite is too small, endowed with nothing that is yours. With this watchword the Indian Br. Jonathan of Checomeco arrived with letters from Br. Büttner, in which he could not adequately describe his joy concerning the two Indian brethren, Jonathan and Jonas, who had lost their way, had been wept over with many tears, and had now come to themselves again. They reported, further, that they had received orders from the governor either to go away from Checomeco or be severely punished, and that unless they were willing to swear allegiance to the king they should not continue to be active as teachers in public or in private. These circumstances were at once commended to the members of the Helpers’ Conference for prayer. Br. and Sr. Utley arrived in Bethlehem from Philadelphia happy and in good health.
Tuesday, January 19
Following a lovefeast, we let Jonathan return to Checomeco in good spirits and in peace. We had a lovefeast with our heads of families and master craftsmen to establish a number of general principles. Payne is to keep an account of everything, and each master is to provide him with information and an account of the branch of which he is in charge. When brethren or sisters want to have something made, they are to report this to the House Conference on a slip of paper, and there it is to be countersigned either by Payne or Joseph and thereafter attended to. The Indian Br. Jonas arrived from Checomeco with letters and the diary. Büttner wrote: “It is reported that they are going to take everything away from us; if that is done, all right, then we shall have just as much as our Savior possessed on earth. In any case we have no wagons or horses with which to remove our things.” Br. Pyrläus’s little Johanna went to her Creator and Redeemer, her mother being entirely content therewith. In the afternoon Marie conducted a separate service for the Married Sisters; this takes place each Tuesday with special blessing.
Friday, February 26
Husbands, love your wives. Eph. 5:25. Anoint with your oil, Lamb, all our duties to the souls of our sisters. Br. Reincke went to Nazareth to bury Br. Schaaf’s little son, Thomas Adolph. We think it is best that these things should be done in our congregations by an ordained brother, even though we have the freedom to do it otherwise. The three brethren from Checomeko who had arrived in Nazareth yesterday came to Bethlehem today. The poor Indian, whose child had died at the house of our Thomas and his wife, was very grieved; he was given the choice to bury it somewhere around here or to bring it to Nazareth. He chose Bethlehem. Sr. Reincke washed and dressed it, Br. Christian dug the grave, Br. Bischof brought a casket for it, the Checomeko brethren decorated the grave, and the child’s mother sacrificed and burned all the clothing of the child. We had an Elders’ Conference and agreed to meet every day from ten o’clock to eleven. Br. Isaac brought a letter from Br. Jonathan to the congregation at Bethlehem. He wrote that he had caused the congregation much pain and had lost much blessing, but he hoped it would now be different because the Savior had so mercifully visited him anew. His wife’s condition was also very good now and she was thankful that the Savior was so near to her again. Sarah wrote also that she could rejoice about the miracles of Jesus and felt in her heart a willingness to give herself totally to the Savior. Br. Mack wrote quite cordially and simply about himself and his wife and the congregation at Checomeko. He was especially glad because the Indians could now sing some of the nicest hymns in their own language, which Br. Büttner had translated for them. Br. Meynung reported that he had begun his work at Oley with much blessing. Br. Abraham also wrote from Checomeko to the Bethlehem congregation in a cordial, sincere, and elder-like manner. He thanks the congregation for sending people to them who brought them to Jesus Christ, whom they did not know before.
Friday, March 5
You have made difficulties for me. Is. 43:24. It is no secret. I am Your soul, my Immanuel. All people were amazed that Sr. Okely got better, even though she is not yet out of danger. Br. Bömper visited the brethren imprisoned in New York and told them that his visit in Bethlehem had been a great blessing to him. Our brethren and sisters returned from Gnaden-Thal, all of them happy and healthy. With our girls everything is going quite well. We have a plan for the children. We will keep the little lambkins, girls as well as boys, under our eyes in Bethlehem, so that the parents do not have to worry about them. They are here now and the parents want it that way until their children are taken into the school. Today, the synodal brethren and sisters were divided into ten groups. Each group has a Diener who not only knows the way, but also can go before the others with grace. Thomas recovered from his sickness and was very happy. The Sayings of the Savior have fit our circumstances very nicely, especially for the imprisonment of our brethren. On February 26 the Saying was: You are the salt of the earth. On the twenty-seventh: You are the light of the world. On the twenty-eighth: One does not light a lamp, etc. On March 1: Let what you say be simply Yes or No (they were asked to swear). On the second: Love your enemy. On the third: Bless those who curse you. On the fourth: Do good to those who hate you. On the fifth Pray for those who offend and persecute you. Br. Mack and his company were arrested at Sopus in a very rude manner. A justice ordered him to halt, otherwise he would apprehend him. He had to stand in a crowd of people, in the middle of the street with two small infants and a pregnant wife, in very wet and cold weather and with loaded horses, until several justices and a judge assembled. But when Colonel Löbenstein finally came, he publicly reprimanded the justice for treating them in such a manner and let them continue on their way. However, before they could reach their night quarters, they were again so unmannerly attacked and with such shouting and insults that one can hardly imagine it. Meanwhile, they got through it. Johannes of Checomeko told Br. Haagen that he had spoken with Abraham because our brethren had been forced to leave them and Br. Post and Zeisberger were in prison. So they wanted to present a supplication to the governor, with a belt of wampum attached, and let him know that they, the Brethren, had been robbed and that people also wanted to take away their land from them. The King of England had presented himself as a father. Yet a father would not cause pain to his children. The Nazareth Married People’s Conference had a lovefeast. Br. Neisser made these verses for it among others [translated in prose]: All-powerful blood of God, show your wonders. Pour down, you highest good, on the humble souls and the consecrated cave where they are assembled and rejoice in you. Unite us further, through the power of Your blood, as we perform our service, into one heart and mind Let us, whatever we do, feel Your support, and may our band of unity remain in Your care.
Sunday, March 7
Lord Christ, light of my life, let the light of Your wounds illuminate my every step. Ps. 119:105; Rev. 3:10. Quite a large number of Indians were present in the early meeting. They sat in a row on a bench. They are respectful at the meetings and listen with great attention. The imprisoned brethren at New York had many visitors and could quite heartily bear witness to their Savior. At noon, both the Bluhmes ate with us. We spoke with them in general about his awakening and marriage. Unexpectedly, a little child was born to Anton Albrecht. He asked the congregation to baptize it. The columns came one after the other to Br. Joseph, each one with its Diener. It was recommended to them to think upon the synod without thinking. All were pleased and happy. Yesterday Oberhölzer, a Baptist, arrived in Bethlehem for a visit. Br. Schnell and Kohn waited upon him. Br. Schnell preached at Maguntschy and also taught catechism to the children. Jos. and Marie had a lovefeast with the workers who will remain here during the synod. They told them how they wanted things done during their absence. Ludwig Kloz and his wife brought their child, who had been baptized by us, into the congregation. It and the father and mother were blessed most sincerely with prayer and supplication. Today our congregation council was very nice. We reminded everyone that they should not ask curious questions of the Indians who come to visit us and also not get into religious discourses with them. We do not want to begin with them from doctrine. First they must get a different concept of Christ and His people from our behavior. Relative to some brethren and sisters staying awake late, no definite rule was established. This much was said, that it would be a blessing if one went to bed after the hourly intercession with the Savior on one’s mind, in order to get up again for the morning blessing. All the visiting Indians gathered in the house of Thomas. He gave them a friendly evening meal in love. Isaac, Josua, and Nathanael were also present. Nineteen of them were there together. They all sat on the ground. Benjamin Sommer wrote to Jos[eph] and Mary and asked for baptism and for our intercession. Br. Seydel asked Isaac, Nathanael, and Josua about their impression of Prostration with the congregation lying face down at the feet of Jesus. They had witnessed it eight days ago but had not participated in it. They told him with tears how important this matter was for them, that they also had had it after Communion in Checomeko, but oh, how great it would be for them if they would be allowed to participate in the congregation here. So they were allowed to do this, as was our Br. Benjamin. The children’s quarter-of-an-hour services in Nazareth, which were begun eight days ago, continue to be held with blessing. After his sermon at Moden Creek, Br. Lischy held a heartfelt and brotherly discussion with about seven men; one of his enemies asked for forgiveness, and he embraced him with tender love. At Heydelberg, the brethren and sisters had a very cordial lovefeast. They felt the presence of the Lamb among them with grace and blessing.
Monday, March 29
God ascends with shouting and the Lord with bright trumpets. Ps. 47:6 [47:5]. You rapid wagons of fire, you who carried the great son of the king to glory. We join together in harmony. You make your sounds up above, we do it here. Br. and Sr. Franck, who were very happy among us, went back to their children at Nazareth. The single brethren who had been working at Nazareth went back to work there. Br. Joseph Müller made a very nice little poem for our Schreiber Collegium. Everything becomes a blessing for the children. They are doing well; all of them are healthy. Sr. Brocksch came to [take care of] the little children. At the congregation council the brethren and sisters were reminded again of the reason for our living together. It is not only that we can make a living for ourselves and eat our own bread, but also that we also can promote the cause of the Savior. It has brought real blessing to us. We had a lovefeast with all the masters of the trades, a worthy company; more than thirty brethren and sisters [Brüder u. Schw.] were there. Sr. Okely suffered very much in her body, but she was peaceful at heart. The Brethren at Checomecko made a fence today around their God’s Acre. Today, Sr. Mayer bled her husband, with good results. It was the first time that she tried it, and we decided it would be good if she could be used among the sisters. Through the sheriff, the imprisoned brethren in New York conveyed a petition to the governor along with Cunr. Weiser’s affidavit. On the other side of the Susquehanna Br. Lischy married two couples, baptized six children, and preached in Hanns Christ’s house. Abr. Müller went farther and crossed the Susquehanna, his watchword being: Lamb, wherever there is a soul belonging to Your payment [on the cross] who sits and sweats in unjust fetters, let him soon realize that by trusting in the blood and wounds he can venture forth and go to his true Husband
Sunday, April 25
Go, bear his beautiful shame. Perhaps you will pull these hearts after you. Phil. 1: 14. This watchword harmonizes incomparably with today’s Saying of the Savior: Behold, I send you out as sheep among the wolves. Therefore you should be clever as snakes and as harmless as doves. Matt. 10: 16. One learns from this how far one should go in suffering Satan’s envy intelligently, and when one must avoid it. The preachers who are going to address the congregation today were sincerely spoken to in preparation. The congregation council resolved that we would observe the festival days according to the old style calendar, except in Singstunden, at lovefeasts and the hourly intercession, and on the same occasions we would observe the festival days according to the new style calendar for the sake of fellowship with our brethren and sisters in Europe. However, our unique congregation festivals, e.g., November 13 and December 16, new style, we will observe on the same day as our European brethren and sisters. It was also resolved to have a doctrinal conference so that we all learn to use the same way of thinking and the same way of speaking because we come from so many sects and have had so many incorrect ideas. According to the Saying of the Savior it was pointed out how one often must try to avoid suffering, if one is absolutely sure that neither the Savior nor people are served by it. So He Himself acted. At other times, one can confidently approach suffering if one knows that it is the Savior’s will. The Savior also did this when the time came which the Father had determined for Him to suffer. Because He also said, “When they persecute you in one city, flee to another one,” no witness can choose a permanent residence. He is like a bird. When it is scared away from one tree, it flies to another tree and it sings again. We had an Indian conference; present were Br. and Sr. Christ. Rauch, Br. and Sr. Martin Mack, Br. and Sr. Friedrich Post, Br. and Sr. Spangenberg, Br. and Sr. Johannes Huber, Br. and Sr. Dav. Bischoff, Sr. Büttner, Sr. Sensemann, Sr. Shaw, Thomas and his wife, Nath. Seidel, Gottl. Bezold, Dav. Zeisberger, Matth. Reuz, and Christ. Frölich. It was resolved that because the Delaware Indians who live near us are seeking baptism, we should speak further with them about it. Regarding Debora it was resolved that we would keep her here because she gives evidence that it is going well for her in Bethlehem. And concerning the Indians who are strangers and pass through here, it was mentioned that they are our brethren and we are in covenant with the Five Nations. If they just are hungry and suffer want we will give them food, not under the condition that they should become Christians, but because they are hungry. If they seek something for their souls we will also care for them. We met together in love and grace. Br. Benezet and Sam. Powel came from Philadelphia. We received the news that Sr. Noble, having recognized her own wretchedness as well as the unmerited grace of the Lamb, had finally been blessed with a peaceful death. Very many people were here to visit and stayed the whole day. Each one was admitted to his respective choir quarter-of-an-hour service. It was made clear to the husbands that they had entered into marriage in order that they might be prepared for the marriage of the Lamb and also to be helpful to their wives in this regard. It was pointed out to the Single Brethren how they would become clean in Christ and had no reason to get involved with sin, but they should lock the door against it. We had a lovefeast with Br. Schnell and Sr. Braun and with Br. Oerter and Sr. Boelen in the presence of the Married People’s helpers. It was very pleasant and sincere. In the evening, during the hourly intercession, their marriages were announced. We also held a workers’ lovefeast since all of us are – God be praised – of one heart and one soul. We sang Brethren and sisters, we give one another hearts and hands, etc. The Single Brethren also had a lovefeast and selected by vote several new choir workers. At Heidelberg Br. and Sr. Wagner held the choir quarter-of-an-hour services for their people in such a deep sense of blessing that they could thank the little Lamb with many tears for it. At Earlingtown Br. Lishy shy held the meal of remembrance of the Lord with about thirty persons, and Br. Brandmüller preached at Lorenz Hoff ‘s The workers at Checomeko had a blessed lovefeast, and they also had many visitors there. On [St.] Thomas the Moors had a prayer day. Br. Abraham spoke with blessing about bloody grace. Moab and Manasse were excluded from the congregation and two children were blessed. Br. Brucker held choir quarter-of-an-hour services and they closed with Prostration. Today at Racoon Br. Reinke preached in the field since there was no church or house large enough. He spoke first in German, then in Swedish, and finally in English to very many people, and grace was powerfully at work.
The above notes detailing the Bethlehem-Shekomeko experience from the Bethlehem Diary are available for reading online, and can be accessed at http://bdhp.moravian.edu/community_records/bethlehem_diary/bdiary.html
· June 23, 1742
· June 24, 1742
· June 25, 1742
· July 1, 1742
· July 3, 1742
· July 11, 1742
· August 7, 1742
· September 3, 1742
· September 9, 1742
· September 10, 1742
· September 21, 1742
· November 11, 1742
· Feburary 10, 1743
· June 3, 1743
· June 8, 1743
· January 2, 1744
· January 19, 1744
· January 29, 1744
· January 31, 1744
· February 2, 1744
· April 19, 1744
· May 26, 1744
· July 1, 1744
· July 2, 1744
· July 15, 1744
· October 20, 1744
· January 6, 1745
· January 9, 1745
· January 12, 1745
· January 19, 1745
· February 26, 1745
· March 5, 1745
· March 7, 1745
· March 29, 1745
· April 12, 1745
· April 25, 1745
1764 Daily Text book hymnal citation: 1817, 4. The conversation with the Man of Pain, etc.
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