Samson Occom (1723-1792)
By Robert J. Morgan in One Hundred Bible Verses That Made America, 2020, pages 56-58.
In 1723, a Native American boy was born in a wigwam in the village of Mohegan in Connecticut. He was named Occom. He later wrote, “My parents lived a wandering life, as did all the Indians at Mohegan. They chiefly depended upon hunting, fishing, and fowling for their living.”
Occom was a teenager at the time of the Great Awakening, and his heart was opened to the gospel. He committed his life to Christ and sought to learn to read the Bible. Hearing about a school (later named Dartmouth) started by Rev. Eleazer Wheelock, a Congregational pastor, Occom enrolled. Wheelock taught the boy to read, mentored him, and prepared him to serve Christ.
On August 29,1759, Samson Occom was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry. He labored among Native Americans, and in 1765, at the suggestion of George Whitefield, sailed to England to raise money for a charity school. John Hancock helped pay his fare. Occom took England by storm, with large crowds gathering for his sermons. Everyone, including the king, wanted to meet him. Occom returned to America a celebrity.
His best known moment came when a fellow Mohegan, Moses Paul, asked Occom to preach his execution sermon. Paul had been convicted of murder, and in those days it was customary to have a sermon before the hanging. On September 2, 1771, a crowd gathered at the First Church of New Haven as Moses Paul was escorted by guards and Occom stood in the pulpit. (Here are just a few lines of what was a very long sermon):
It is an unwelcome task for me to speak upon such an occasion, but since it is the desire of the poor man himself, who is to die a shameful death this day, in conscience I cannot deny him… The sacred words I have chosen to speak from, upon this undesirable occasion, are found in Romans 6:23: ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Death is called the king of terrors, and it ought to be the subject of every man and woman’s thoughts daily… We all come to it, how soon we cannot tell… Sin has made man proud though he has nothing to be proud of… Sin is the cause of all the miseries that attend poor sinful man, which will finally bring him to death– death temporal and eternal… But heaven and happiness is a free gift; it comes by favor… this life is given in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. It could not be given in any other way, but in and through our Lord Jesus Christ; Christ Himself is the gift… O poor Moses, see what you have done! And now repent, repent… O fly, fly, to the blood of the Lamb of God for the pardon of all your aggravated sins… O Moses! This is good news for you on this last day of your life. Here is a crucified Savior at hand for your sins… O, poor Moses, now believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and you shall be saved eternally.
The demand for copies of Samson Occom’s sermon resulted in it being printed, the first publication of a North American Indian in English. It spread over the colonies, appearing in multiple editions, and became the unexpected means of bringing many to faith in Christ.
To this day, debates rage about whether Moses Paul received a fair trial, but no one doubts the eloquence of Samson Occom. He went on to publish many more sermons and hymns. He was the country’s first Native American writer, preacher, and hymnist. His text that day, Romans 6:23, was the core message of his life because it’s at the heart of the gospel message: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ezekiel 33:11 — Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
Luke 23:39-43 — (at another execution) One of the criminals who hung there (on the cross) hurled insults at Jesus: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, remember me.
Here is a longer version of the sermon that Samson Occom preached at the execution of Moses Paul. Even this is not the entire sermon. It is shortened by about twenty percent, but it is still almost 8,000 words long. It is a good example of the preaching of the day– what we would now call ‘fire and brimstone.’ The style and tone may strike us as harsh, but there is nothing false in it, and it is not inconsistent with the whole judgment and Gospel message of the Bible.
A sermon, preached at the execution of Moses Paul, an Indian; who was executed at New-Haven, on September 2, 1772; for the murder of Mr. Moses Cook, late of Waterbury, on December 7, 1771. Preached at the desire of said Paul by Samson Occom (from the published and widely distributed pamphlet).
The world is already full of books; and the people of God are abundantly furnished with excellent books upon divine subjects; and they have much, yea, enough and more than enough. And when I come to consider these things, I am ready to say with myself, “What folly and madness is it in me to suffer any thing of mine to appear in print, and to expose my ignorance to the world.”
It seems altogether unlikely that my performance will do any manner of service in the world, since the most excellent writings of worthy and learned men are disregarded. But there are two or three considerations that have induced me to be willing to allow my broken hints to appear in the world. One is, that the books that are in the world are written in very high and refined language, and the sermons that are delivered every Sabbath in general, are in a very high and lofty style, so that the common people understand but little of them. But I think they can’t help understanding my common, plain, every-day talk. Little children may understand me; and poor Negroes fully understand my meaning, and it may be of service to them; and it may in a particular manner be serviceable to my poor kindred, the Indians. Further, as it comes from an uncommon quarter, it may induce people to read it, because it is from an Indian. Lastly, God works where and when he so chooses and by what instruments he sees fit, and he can and has used weak and unlikely instruments to bring about his great work.
By the melancholy providence of God, and at the earnest desire and invitation of the poor condemned criminal, I am here before this great concourse of people at this time, to give the last discourse to the poor miserable object who is to be executed this day before your eyes, for the due reward of his folly and madness, and enormous wickedness. It is an unwelcome task to me to speak upon such an occasion; but since it is the desire of the poor man himself, who is to die a shameful death this day, in conscience I cannot deny him; I must endeavor to do the great work the dying man requests.
I conclude that this great concourse of people have come together to see the execution of justice upon this poor Indian; and I suppose the biggest part of you look upon yourselves as Christians, and as such I hope you will demean yourselves; and that you will have suitable commiseration towards this poor object. Though you can’t in justice pray for his life to be continued in this world, yet you can pray earnestly for the salvation of his poor soul, consistently with the mind of God. Let this be therefore, the fervent exercise of our souls: for this is the last day we have to pray for him. As for you that don’t regard religion, it cannot be expected that you will put up one petition for this miserable creature: yet I would entreat you seriously to consider the frailty of corrupt nature, and behave yourselves as becomes rational creatures.
And in a word, let us all be suitably affected with the melancholy occasion of the day, knowing that we are all dying creatures, and accountable unto God. Though this poor condemned criminal will in a few minutes know more than all of us, either in unutterable joy, or in inconceivable woe, yet we shall certainly know as much as he, in a few days.
The sacred words that I have chosen to speak from upon this undesirable occasion, are found written in the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
DEATH is called the King of Terrors, and it ought to be the subject of every man and woman’s thoughts daily; because it is that unto which they are liable every moment of their lives: and therefore, it cannot be unseasonable to think, speak and hear of it at any time, and especially on this mournful occasion; for we must all come to it, how soon we cannot tell; whether we are prepared or not prepared, whether death is welcome or not welcome, we must feel the force of it: whether we concern ourselves with death or not, it will concern itself with us. Seeing that this is the case with every one of us, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness; how ought men to exert themselves in preparation for death continually; for they know not what a day or an hour may bring forth, with respect to them.
But, according to the appearance of mankind in general, death is the least thought of. They go on from day to day, as if they were to live here forever, as if this was the only life. They contrive, rack their inventions, disturb their rest, and even hazard their lives in all manner of dangers, both by sea and land; yea they leave no stone unturned that they may live in the world, and at the same time have little or no contrivance to die well: God and their souls are neglected, and heaven and eternal happiness are disregarded; Christ and his religion are despised—yet most of these very men intend to be happy when they come to die, not considering that there must be great preparation in order to die well. Yea there is none so fit to live as those that are fit to die; those that are not fit to die are not fit to live. Life & death are nearly connected; we generally own that it is a great and solemn thing to die. If this be true, then it is a great and solemn thing to live; for as we live, so we shall die. But I say again, how little do mankind realize these things? They are busy about the things of this world as if there was no death before them. Dr. Watts pictures them in one his poems:
See the vain race of mortals move
Like shadows o’er the plain,
They rage and strive, desire and love,
But all the noise is vain.
Some walk in honor’s gaudy show,
Some dig for golden ore,
They toil for heirs they know not who,
And soon are seen no more.
But on the other hand, life is the most precious thing and ought to be the most desired by all rational creatures. It ought to be prized above all things; yet there is nothing so abused and despised as life, and nothing so neglected: whereas eternal life is shamefully disregarded by men in general, and eternal death is chosen rather than life. This is the general complaint of the Bible from the beginning to the end. As long as Christ is neglected, life is refused, and as long as sin is cherished, death is chosen; and this seems to be the woeful case of mankind of all nations, according to their appearance in these days; for it is too plain to be denied, that vice and immorality, and floods of iniquity are abounding everywhere amongst all nations, and all orders and ranks of men, and in every sect of people. Yea, all nations, and from the highest to the lowest to practice sin and iniquity; and the pure religion of Jesus Christ is turned out of doors, and is dying without; or, in other words, the Lord Jesus Christ is turned out of doors by men in general, and even by his professed people. “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” But the devil is admitted, he has free access to the houses and hearts of the children of men: Thus life is refused and death is chosen. But in further speaking upon our text, I shall consider these two general propositions:
- That sin is the cause of all the miseries that befall the children of men, both as to their bodies and souls, for time and eternity.
- That eternal life and happiness is the free gift of God, throough Jesus Christ our Lord.
In speaking to the first proposition I shall first consider the nature of sin; and secondly shall consider the consequences of sin, or the wages of sin, which is death.
First then, we are to describe the nature of sin.
Sin is the transgression of the law; this is the scripture definition of sin. Now the law of God being holy, just and good; sin must be altogether unholy, unjust and evil. If I was define sin, I should call it a contrariety to GOD; and as such must be the vilest thing in the world; it is full of all evil; it is the evil of evils; in which dwells no good thing; and is most destructive to God’s creation, where ever it takes effect. It was sin that transformed the very angels in heaven, into devils; and it was sin that caused hell to be made. If it had not been for sin, there never would have been such a thing as hell, death, or misery.
Sin is full of deadly poison; it is full of malignity and hatred against God, against all his divine perfections and attributes, against his wisdom, against his power, against his holiness and goodness against his mercy and justice, against his written law and gospel; yea, against his very being and existence.
When Christ the Son of the Most High, came down from the glorious world above, into this wretched world of sin and sorrow, to seek and to save that which was lost, sin, or sinners rose up against him, as soon as he entered our world, and pursued him with hellish malice, night and day, for above thirty years together, till they killed him.
- I shall endeavor to shew the sad consequences or effects of sin upon the children of men.
Sin has poisoned them, and made them distracted or fools. The Psalmist says, ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.’ And Solomon, throughout his Proverbs, calls ungodly sinners fools; and their sin he calls their folly, and foolishness. And according to the prophet Isaiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” And Christ Jesus said in John 3:19- 20: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doth evil hated the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Sin has stupefied mankind, they are now ignorant of God their maker; neither do they enquire after him. And they are ignorant of themselves, they know not what is good for them, neither do they understand their danger; and they have no fear of God before their eyes.
Further, sin has blinded their eyes, so that they can’t discern spiritual things; neither do they see the way that they should go, and they are deaf so that they cannot hear the joyful sound of the gospel that brings glad tidings of peace and pardon to sinners of mankind. Not only so, but sin has made man proud, though he has nothing to be proud of; for he has lost all his excellency, his beauty and happiness; he is a bankrupt, and is excommunicated from God; he was turned out of paradise by God himself, and become a vagabond in God’s world, and as such he has no right nor title to the least crumb of mercy in the world: yet he is proud, he is haughty, and exalts himself above God, though he is wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked. He glories in his shame. Sin has made him beastly and devilish; yea he is sunk beneath the beasts, and is worse than the ravenous beasts of the wilderness. He is become ill-natured, cruel and murderous; he is contentious and quarrelsome. I said he is worse than the ravenous beasts, for wolves and bears don’t devour their own kind, but man does.
Sin has made men dishonest and deceitful, so that he goes about cheating and defrauding and deceiving his fellow men in the world: yea, he is become a cheat himself, he goes about in a vain show; we don’t know where to find man. Sometimes we find as an angel of God; and at other times we find as a devil, even one and the same man. Sin has made man a liar even from the womb; so that there is no believing nor trusting him. He had a pure and holy language in his innocence, to adore and praise God his maker. He now curses, swears, and profanes the holy name of God, and curses and damns his fellow-creatures. In a word, man is a most unruly and ungovernable creature, and is harder to tame than any of God’s creatures in this world. In short, man is worse than all creatures in this lower world in his propensity is to evil.
We have given some few hints of the nature of sin, and the effects of sin on mankind. We shall in the next place consider the wages or the reward of sin, which is death. Sin is the cause of all the miseries that attend poor sinful man, which will finally bring him to death, temporal and eternal. I shall first consider his temporal death.
His temporal death then begins as soon as he is born. Though it seems to us that he is just beginning to live, yet in fact he is just entered into a state of death. From the beginning man is surrounded with ten thousand instruments of death, and is liable to death every moment of his life; a thousand diseases await him on every side continually; the sentence of death is past upon them as soon as they are born: yea they are struck with death as soon as they breathe. And it seems all the enjoyments of men in this world are also poisoned with sin: for GOD said to Adam after he had sinned, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” Thus death and destruction is in all the enjoyments of men in this life, every enjoyment in this world is liable to misfortune in a thousand ways, both by sea and land.
The fruits of the earth are liable to many judgments. And the dearest and nearest enjoyments of men are generally balanced with equal sorrow and grief. A man and his wife who have lived together in happiness for many years; that have comforted each other in various changes of life, must at last be separated; one or the other must be taken away first by death, and then the poor survivor is drowned in tears, in sorrow, mourning and grief. And when a dear child or children are taken away by death the bereaved parents are bowed down with sorrow and deep mourning. And so when tender parents are taken away by death, the children are left comfortless. All this is the sad effect of sin. These are the wages of sin.
And secondly, we are to consider man’s spiritual death, while he is here in this world. We find it thus written in the word of God. ‘And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge, of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die.’ And yet he did eat of it, and so he and all his posterity, are but dead men. And St. Paul to the Ephesians said, ‘You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. All those who are in their sins, are dead in sins; yea, in trespasses and sins; which may signify all sorts of sins, habitual and actual; sins of heart and life. Sin is the death of the soul. Wherever that prevails, there is a privation of all spiritual life. Sinners are dead in state, being destitute of the principles and powers of spiritual life; and cut off from God, the fountain of life.
Let us consider further. God is a living God, he is all life, the fountain of life; and a sinner is a dead soul; there is nothing but death in him. As sinners are dead to God, as such, they have no delight in God, and godliness; they have no taste for the religion of Jesus Christ; they have no pleasure in the holy exercises of religion. Prayer is no pleasant work with them; or if they have any pleasure in it, it is not out of love to God, but out of self-love. Indeed they are dead to all the duties that God requires of them; they are dead to the Holy Bible; to all the laws, commands, and precepts thereof; and to the ordinances of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When they read the book of God, it is like an old almanac to them, a dead book. But it is because they are dead, and as such, all their services are against God, even their best services are an abomination unto God; yea, a sinner is so dead in sin, that the threatenings of God don’t move them. All the curses in the bible, they are cursing them to their faces, and to their very eyes; yet they are unconcerned, and go on in sin without fear. And lastly here, sin has so stupefied the sinner that he will not believe his own senses; he won’t believe his own eyes, nor his own ears; he reads the book of God, but he does not believe what he reads. And he hears of God, and heaven, and eternal happiness, and of hell and eternal misery; but he believes none of these things; he goes on, as if there were no God, nor heaven and happiness; neither has he any fear of hell and eternal torments. He sees his fellow men dropping away daily on every side, yet he goes on carelessly in sin, as if he never was to die. And if he at any time thinks of dying, he hardly believes his own thoughts. Death is at great distance, so far off, that he don’t concern himself about it, so as to prepare for it. God mournfully complains of his people, that they don’t consider; ‘O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.’
The next thing I shall consider, is the actual death of the body, or separation between soul and body. At the cessation of natural life, there is an end of all the enjoyments of this life; there is no more joy nor sorrow; no more hope nor fear, as to the body; no more contrivance and carrying on any business; no more merchandizing and trading; no more farming; no more buying and selling; no more building of any kind, no more contrivance at all to live in the world; no more flatteries nor frowns from the world; no more honor nor reproach; no more praise; no more good report, nor evil report; no more learning of any trades, arts or sciences in the world; no more sinful pleasures, they are all at an end; recreations, visiting, tavern haunting, music and dancing, chambering and carousing, playing at dice and cards, or any game whatsoever; cursing and swearing, and profaning the holy name of God, drunkenness, fighting, debauchery, lying and cheating, in this world, must cease forever. Not only so, but they must bid an eternal farewell to all the world; bid farewell to all their beloved sins and pleasures; and the places and possessions, that knew them once, shall know them no more forever. And further, they must bid adieu to all sacred and divine things. They are obliged to leave the Bible, and all the ordinances thereof; and to bid farewell to all opportunities to worship; yea, an eternal farewell to all mercy, and all hope; an eternal farewell to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and adieu to heaven and all happiness, to saints and all the inhabitants of the upper world.
On the other hand, the poor departed soul must take up its lodging in sorrow, woe and misery, in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched; where a multitude of frightful deformed devils dwell; where darkness, horror and despair reigns, where hope never comes, and where poor guilty naked souls will be tormented with exquisite torments, even the wrath of the Almighty poured out-upon their damned souls; the smoke of their torments ascending up forever and ever; their mouths and nostrils streaming forth with living fire; and hellish groans, howlings, cries and shrieks all round them, and merciless devils upbraiding them for their folly and madness, and tormenting them incessantly. And there they must endure the most unsatiable, fruitless desire, and the most overwhelming shame and confusion, and the most horrible fear, and the most doleful sorrow, and the most racking despair. When they cast their flaming eyes to heaven, they behold an angry and frowning God, whose eyes are as a flaming fire, and they are struck with ten thousand darts of pain; and the sight of the happiness of the saints above, adds to their pains and aggravates their misery. And when they reflect upon their past folly and madness in neglecting the great salvation in their day, it will pierce them with ten thousand inconceivable torments; it will as it were enkindle their hell afresh; and it will cause them to curse themselves bitterly, and curse the day in which they were born. This is what is called the second death, and it is the last death, and an eternal death to a guilty soul.
And O eternity, eternity, eternity! Who can measure it? Who can count the years thereof? Arithmetic must fail, the thoughts of men and angels are drowned in it; how shall we describe eternity? To what shall we compare it? Were it possible to employ a fly to carry off this globe by the small particles thereof, and to carry them to such a distance that it should return once in ten thousand years for another particle, and so continue till it has carried off all this globe, and framed them together in some unknown space, till it has made just such a world as this is: after all eternity would remain the same unexhausted duration. This must be the unavoidable portion of all impenitent sinners, let them be who they will, great or small, honorable or ignoble, rich or poor, bond or free. Negroes, Indians, English, or of whatsoever nations, all that die in their sins, must go to hell together, for the wages of sin is death.
The next thing that I was to consider is this: That eternal life and happiness is the free gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Under this proposition I shall endeavor to shew what this life and happiness is.
The life that is mentioned in our text is a spiritual life: it is the life of the soul, a restoration of soul from sin, to holiness, from darkness to light, a translation from the kingdom and dominion of Satan, to the kingdom of God’s grace. In other words, it is being restored to the image of God, and delivered from the image of Satan. And this life consists of the union of the soul to God; a real participation of the divine nature, or in the apostle’s words, it is Christ formed within us; I live, says he, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. And the apostle John said, God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. This is the life of the soul. It is called emphatically life, because it is a life that shall never have a period, a stable, permanent, and unchangeable life, called in the scriptures, everlasting life, or life eternal. And the happiness of this life consists in communion with God, or in the spiritual enjoyment of God. As much as a soul enjoys of God in this life, just so much of life and happiness he enjoys or possesses; yea, just so much of heaven he enjoys. A true Christian, desires no other heaven, but the enjoyment of God, a full and perfect enjoyment of God, is a full and perfect heaven and happiness to a gracious soul. So alive is he now to God, that it is his meat and drink to do the will of his heavenly Father. It is his delight, his happiness and pleasure to serve God. He does not drag himself to his duties now, but he does them out of choice, and with alacrity of soul. Yea, so alive is he to God, that he gives up himself and all that he has entirely to God, to be for him and none other; his whole aim is to glorify God in all things, whether by life or death, all the same to him.
Thus it was with Daniel and Paul; they went through fire and water, as the common saying is, because they had eternal life in their souls in eminent manner; and they regarded not this life, for the cause and glory of God. And thus it has been in all ages with true Christians. Many of the fore-fathers of the English in this country, had this life, and are gone the same way, that the holy prophets and apostles went. Many of them went through all manner of sufferings for God; and a great number of them are gone home to heaven, in chariots of fire. I have seen the place in London, called Smithfield, where numbers were burnt to death for the religion of Jesus Christ. And there is the same life in true Christians now in these days; and if there should persecutions arise in our day, I verily believe, true Christians would suffer with the same spirit and temper of mind, as those did, who suffered in days past. This is the life which our text speaks of.
We proceed in the next place to shew, that this life, which we have described, is the free gift of God, thro’ Jesus Christ our Lord.
Heaven and happiness is a free gift; and all merit is excluded: and especially if we consider that we are fallen sinful creatures, and there is nothing in us that can recommend us to the favor of God; and we can do nothing that is agreeable and acceptable to God; and the mercies we enjoy in this life are altogether from the pure mercy of God; we are unequal to them. We have nothing to give unto God, if we give all the service that we are capable of, we should give him nothing but what was his own, and when we give up ourselves unto God, both soul and body, we give him nothing; for we were his before. If we are thus unequal and unworthy of the least mercy in this life, how much more are we unworthy of eternal life? Yet God can find it in his heart to give it. And it is altogether unmerited; it is a free gift; it is altogether of God’s sovereign good pleasure to give it. It is of free grace and sovereign mercy, and from the unbounded goodness of God. And it is said that this life is given in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. It could not be given in any other way, but in and through the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ; Christ himself is the gift, and he is the Christian’s life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The word says further, “For by grace ye are saved, thro’ faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
I have now gone through what I proposed from my text. And I shall now make some application of the whole.
First to the criminal in particular; and then to the rest in general.
My poor unhappy brother Moses:
As it was your own desire that I should preach to you this last discourse, so I shall speak plainly to you. You are the bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. You are an Indian, a despised creature; but you have despised yourself; yea you have despised God even more; you have trodden under foot his authority; you have despised his commands and precepts: and now, as God says, be sure your sins will find you out. And now, poor Moses, your sins have found you out, and they have overtaken you this day; the day of your death is now come; the king of terrors is at hand; you have but a very few moments to breathe in this world. The just laws of man, and the holy law of Jehovah, call aloud for the destruction of your mortal life; God says, “Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” This is the ancient decree of heaven, and it is to be executed by man; nor have you the least gleam of hope of escape, for the unalterable sentence is past; the terrible day of execution is come; the unwelcome guard is about you; and the fatal instruments of death are now made ready; your coffin and your grave, your last lodging, are open ready to receive you.
Alas! poor Moses, now you know, by sad woeful experience, the living truth of our text, that the wages of sin is death. You have been already dead; yea twice dead: by nature spiritually dead. And since the awful sentence of death has been past upon you, you have been dead to all the pleasures of this life; and all the pleasures have been dead to you: And death, which is the wages of sin, is standing even on this side of your grave ready to put a final period to your mortal life; and just beyond the grave, eternal death awaits your poor soul, and the devils are ready to drag your miserable soul down to their bottomless den, where everlasting woe and horror reigns; the place is filled with doleful shrieks, howls and groans of the damned. Oh! to what a miserable, forlorn, and wretched condition have your extravagant folly and wickedness brought you, if you die in your sins. And O! what manner of repentance ought you to manifest! How ought your heart to bleed for what you have done! How ought you to prostrate your soul before a bleeding God! And under self-condemnation, cry out, ‘Ah Lord, ah Lord, what have I done!’ Whatever partiality, injustice and error there may be among the judges of the earth, remember that you have deserved a thousand deaths, and a thousand hells, by reason of your sins, at the hands of a holy God. Should God come out against you in strict justice, what could you say for yourself? for you have been brought up under the bright sun-shine, and plain, and loud sound of the gospel; and you have had a good education; you can read and write well; and God has given you a good natural understanding: and therefore your sins are so much more aggravated. You have not sinned in such an ignorant manner as others have done; but you have sinned with both your eyes open as it were, under the light, even the glorious light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have sinned against the light of your own conscience, against your knowledge and understanding; you have sinned against the pure and holy laws of God, and the just laws of men; you have sinned against heaven and earth; you have sinned against all the mercies and goodness of God; you have sinned against the blood of Christ, which is the blood of the everlasting covenant.
O poor Moses, see what you have done! Now repent, repent, I say again repent; see how the blood you shed cries against you, and the Avenger of Blood is at your heels. O fly, fly to the Blood of the Lamb of God for the pardon of all your aggravated sins.
But let us now turn to a more pleasant theme. Though you have been a great sinner; yet hark and hear the joyful sound from heaven, even from the King of kings; that the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is a free gift, and offered to the greatest sinners, and upon their true repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall be welcome to the life, which we have spoken of; it is offered upon free terms. He that hath no money may come; he that hath no righteousness, no goodness, may come; the call is to poor undone sinners; the call is not to the righteous, but sinners, calling them to repentance. Hear the voice of the Son of the most high God, Come unto me, all yea that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. This is a call, a gracious call to you, poor Moses, under your present burdens and distresses. And Christ alone has a right to call sinners to himself. If it were possible for you to apply to all God’s creatures, they would with one voice tell you, that it was not in them to help you. Go to all the means of grace, they would prove miserable helps, without Christ himself. Yea, apply to all the ministers of the gospel in the world, they would all say, that it was not in them, but would only prove as indexes, to point out to you, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only savior of sinners of mankind. You see, poor Moses, that there is none in heaven, or on the earth, that can help you, but Christ; he alone has power to save, and to give life.—God the eternal hath appointed him, chose him, authorized, and fully commissioned him to save sinners. He came down from heaven, into this lower world, and became as one of us, and stood in our room. As he became sin for us, he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; all our stripes were laid upon him; yea, he was finally condemned, because we were under condemnation; and at last was executed and put to death, for our sins; was lifted up between the heaven and the earth, and was crucified on the accursed tree; his blessed hands and feet were fastened there;—there he died a shameful and ignominious death and finished the great work of our redemption.
O Moses! this is good news to you, in this last day of your life; here is a crucified Savior at hand for your sins; his blessed hands are out-stretched, all in a gore of blood for you. This is the only Savior, an almighty Savior, just such as you stand in infinite and perishing need of. O, poor Moses! hear the dying prayer of a gracious Savior on the accursed tree, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ This was a prayer for his enemies and murderers; and it is for you, if you would only repent and believe in him. O why will you die eternally, poor Moses, since Christ has died for sinners? Why will you go to hell from beneath the bleeding Savior as it were? This is the day of your execution, it is the accepted time, it is the day of salvation if you will now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Must Christ follow you into the prison by his servants, and there entreat you to accept of eternal life, and will you refuse it? Shall you regard him not? O, poor Moses, now believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, and thou shalt be saved eternally. Come just as you are, with all your sins and abominations, with all your filthiness, with all your blood-guiltiness, with all your condemnation, and lay hold of the hope set before you this day. This is the last day of salvation with your soul; you will be beyond the bounds of mercy in a few minutes more. O, what a joyful day would it be if you would now openly believe in and receive the Lord Jesus Christ; it would be the beginning of heavenly days; instead of a melancholy day. All sorrow and fear will forever fly away, and tears be wiped from your face; and there shall you forever admire the astonishing and amazing and infinite mercy of God in Christ Jesus, in pardoning such a monstrous sinner as you have been; there you will claim the highest note of praise, for the riches of free grace in Christ Jesus. But if you will not accept of a Savior so freely offered to you in this last day of your life, you must this very day bid farewell to God, to heaven and all the saints and angels that are there, and you must bid all the saints in this lower world an eternal farewell, and even the whole world. And so I must leave you in the hands of God.
Now, to all:
We may plainly see, from what we have heard, and from the miserable object before us, into what a doleful condition sin has brought mankind, even into a state of death and misery. We are by nature as certainly under sentence of death from God, as this miserable man is, by the just determination of man; and we are all dying creatures, and we are, or ought to be, sensible of it; and this is the dreadful fruit of sin. O! let us then fly from all appearance of sin; let us fight against it with all our might; let us repent and turn to our God, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may live forever; let us all prepare for death, for we know not how soon, nor how suddenly we may be called out of the world.
I shall now address myself particularly to the Indians, my brethren and kindred according to the flesh. My poor kindred;
You see the woeful consequences of sin, by seeing this our poor miserable country-man now before us, who is to die this day for his sins and great wickedness. And it was the sin of drunkenness that has brought this destruction and untimely death upon him. There is a dreadful woe denounced from the Almighty against drunkards, and it is this sin, this abominable, this beastly and accursed sin of drunkenness, that has stripped us of every desirable comfort in this life; by this we are poor, miserable and wretched; by this sin we have no name nor credit in the world among polite nations; for this sin we are despised in the world, and it is all right and just, for we despise ourselves more; and if we don’t regard ourselves, who will regard us? And it is for our sins, and especially for that accursed, that most devilish sin of drunkenness that we suffer every day. For the love of strong drink we spend all that we have, and everything we can get. By this sin we can’t have comfortable houses, nor any thing comfortable in our houses; neither food nor raiment, nor decent utensils. We are obliged to put up any sort of shelter just to screen us from the severity of the weather; and we go about with very mean, ragged and dirty clothes, almost naked. And we are half starved, for most of the time obliged to pick up anything to eat. And our poor children are suffering every day for want of the necessaries of life; they are very often crying for want of food, and we have nothing to give them; and in the cold weather they are shivering and crying, being pinched with cold. All this is for the love of strong drink. And this is not all the misery and evil we bring on ourselves in this world; but when we are intoxicated with strong drink, we drown our rational powers, by which we are distinguished from the brutal creation; we unman ourselves, and bring ourselves not only level with the beasts of the field, but seven degrees beneath them; yea we bring ourselves level with the devils; I don’t know but we make ourselves worse than the devils, for I never heard of drunken devils.
My poor kindred, do consider what a dreadful abominable sin drunkenness is. God made us men, and we choose to be beasts and devils; God made us rational creatures, and we choose to be fools. Do consider further, and behold a drunkard, and see how he looks, when he has drowned as reason; how deformed and shameful does he appear? He disfigures every part of him, both soul and body, which was made after the image of God. If he attempts to speak he cannot bring out his words distinct, so as to be understood; if he walks he reals and staggers to and fro, and tumbles down. And see how he behaves, he is now laughing, and then he is crying; he is singing and the next minute he is mourning; and is all love to everyone, and then he is raging, and fighting all before him, even the nearest and the dearest relations and friends: Yea nothing is too bad for a drunken man to do.
Further, when a person is drunk, he is just good for nothing in the world; he is of no service to himself, to his family, to his neighbors, or his country; and how much more unfit is he in serve God: yet he is just fit for the service of the devil.
Again, a man in drunkenness is in all manner of danger he may be killed by his fellow-men, by wild beasts; he may fall into the fire, into the water, or into a ditch; or he may fall down as he walks along, and break his bones or his neck; he may cut himself with tools. Further, if he has any money or anything valuable, he may lose it all, or may be robbed, or he may make a foolish bargain, and be cheated out of all he has.
I believe you know the truth of what I have just now said, many of you, by sad experience; yet you will go on still in your drunkenness. Though you have been cheated over and over again, and you have lost your substance by drunkenness, yet you will venture to go on in this most destructive sin. O fools when will ye be wise? We all know the truth of what I have been saying, by what we have seen and heard of drunken deaths. How many have been d drowned in our rivers, and how many frozen to death in the winter seasons! Yet drunkards go on without fear and consideration: alas, alas! What will become of all such drunkards? Without doubt they must all go to hell, except they truly repent and turn to God. Drunkenness is so common amongst us, that even our young men and young women are not ashamed to get drunk. Our young men will get drunk as readily as they will eat when they are hungry.
And to conclude, consider my poor kindred, you that are drunkards, into what a miserable condition you have brought yourselves. There is a dreadful woe thundering against you every day, and the Lord says, “That drunk shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
And now let me exhort you all to break off from your drunkenness, by a gospel repentance, and believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved. Take warning by this doleful sight before us, and by all the dreadful judgments that have befallen poor drunkards. O let us all reform our lives, and live as becomes dying creatures, in time to come. Let us be persuaded that we are accountable creatures to God, and we must be called to an account in a few days. You that have been careless all your days, now awake to righteousness, and be concerned for your poor and never dying soul. Fight against all sins, and especially the sin that easily besets you, and behave in time to come as becomes rational creatures.
And above all things, receive and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall have eternal life; and when you come today your souls will be received into heaven, there to be with the Lord Jesus in eternal happiness, with all the saints in glory; which, God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.