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Josiah Priest (1788-1851)
Wonders of Nature...
(1st ed.: Albany, 1825, 2nd printing 1826)

  • Title Page
  • page 047  Kingdom of Mexico
  • page 134  Queen of Sheba
  • page 136  a "colony of Jews"
  • page 157  "fires and vapours"
  • page 372  Ethan Smith quotations
  • page 376  a God-given Indian book
  • page 394  another Indian book
  • page 428  crucifixion darkness
  • page 531  Shakespeare quote

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • View of the Expected Millennium (1828)  |  American Antiquities (1833)


    W O N D E R S:
    Hearken -- stand still and consider the wonderous works of God.




    [ ii ]


    BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the second day of June in the forty-eight year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1824, Josiah Priest of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book the right {L. S.} whereof he claims as author in the words following to wit:

    "The Wonders of Nature and Providence displayed: compiled from authentic sources both Ancient and Modern, giving an account of various and strange Phenomena existing in nature, and of travels, adventures, singular providence, &c. Hearken, stand still and consider the wonderous works of God. -- Job. By Josiah Priest."

    In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned;" and also, to the act entitled "An act supplementary to an act entitled 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engraving and Etching historical and other prints."

    R. R. LANSING, Clerk      
    of the Northern District of N. York.   


    [ iii ]


    GREAT are the works of the Lord, sought out of them that fear him. The heavens, with all their brilliant hosts, declare his glorious majesty -- the earth is full of the demonstrations of his goodness. He openeth his hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing. Nature and Providence are one vast volume in which God's wonderous works are displayed: it is written in characters which may be read of all nations under the whole heavens, in their own language. It consists not of words, but of things, which admirably point out the Divine perfections.

    The firmament and the great expanse of infinity, are probably garnished every where with the bright monuments of his power. The sun, robed in the mantle of his own fires, sits as a king in the midst of his shining courtiers. Myriads of other suns burn on their flaming axles, and from the centre of their systems, pour the ocean of their light all over the bosom of unbounded space, lighting up, in undescribed splendour, the great palace of the Universe. And around them move in mazy dance, the obsequious planets; whole armies of constellations keep watch while they travel in the great circuit of other heavens, and with their tissues of primeval majesty, express the matchless power of the Creator.

    Behold the great energies of nature are under his control! In his fist are gathered the roaring winds; the mighty storm sleeps there as the lion in the caves of the mountains. By his hand the red lightnings are held at bay, but at his word they fly and out speed the careering winds. By their flesh the great concave of heaven is lighted up, from the tops of Pagan hills in the east, to where the fires of the sun plunge the western main. At his beck, the furious tornado is hushed to a zephyr, the thunders that ride upon the watery clouds are awed to silence; the cloud cap't billows of the deep, bow at his presence, and point their flashing summits to the gulphs below. The snow, the rain, and the hoar frost descend from the middle regions, by his providence; lo these are but parts of his ways. Anon he stoops from the highest heaven -- from the clear hyaline where he stood and lo his way is seen among the sons of men.

    Now he treads upon the mountains -- they smoke and tremble to their base -- a fiery flame ascends to the midst of heaven, like a mighty furnace, and his voice is like the sound of many waters.

    Earth groans to her centre -- thunder and storm rage along their courses -- earthquakes and volcanoes roar from the tops of the mountains -- the ocean boils like a pot, and spouts from the


    iv                     PREFACE.                   

    depths beneath, pyramids of fire. The fearful whirlwind plunges from the convulsed clouds, sweeps across the earth, dashing in heaps of ruin the fairest works of man. Tall forests bend beneath its force, taring the strongest oaks from their rooted base, and on its whirling bosom bares them aloft to the wondering skies. Mountains tremble beneath the dreadful pressure, and from their benched cliffs, tumble the loosened rocks to the vales beneath: these are the ministers of his providence and power,

    The infinite variety of creatures that inhabit the earth, the ocean, and the air, show his amazing skill; the teeming shower, the sunshine and the yellow sheaf, show his bounteous goodness.

    The contemplation of a Divine Providence is consoling and profitable: we feel ourselves drawn from the creature to the Creator.

    The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice! the reigns of government are in the hands of him who needs no counsellor. Though the fool has said in his heart there is no God, yet both His word and providence declare to the ends of the earth, saying, verily there is a God, who hath set his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom reigneth over all. Shall we not say providence is God in motion, is God teaching by facts, is God fulfilling and explaining his word in his own way however inscrutable to the ken of men or angels?

    Though clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

    No pains have been spared in the completion of this book, to collect from rare and valuable publications, both of Europe and America, (which are but little known by reason of their magnitude and scarcity,) such accounts as show the way of the Lord in his works and providence. There can be no doubt, that to be indifferent to these, whether it be a nation or an individual, is highly sinful.

    The eyes of all ought to wait upon him, whose wonders fill heaven, earth and hell. How vast the amplitude of his power! the ocean of illimitable space is the field of his operations.

    The accounts given respecting the Roman Catholic hierarchy, are a record of facts which show that a spirit of persecution was not only an ancient mark of that overgrown superstition, but that it retains all its virulence to the present day.

    It affords much pleasure to reflect, that so large a work is gathered from those who have recorded, from age to age, the wonderful works and providences of the Most. High.

    JOSIAH PRIEST.      

    Albany, August 17, 1825.


    [ iii ]


    003   PREFACE.
    009   Accounts of serpents of various kinds.
    018   Of the Cerastes and similar serpents,
    026   Of the Horn Nosed Snake of Africa,
    027   Of the Anaconda of the East Indies,
    032   Of the Halcydrus-Pontoppidani a serpent of the ocean,
    035   Of the Scorpion abd its dreadful properties,
    035   Of apparitions in general, with several curious relations,
    045   An account of apparations by Josephus the historian,
    047   An account of the commencement of the kingdom of Mexico, and of eleven of its kings, and of supernatural presages of its overthrow by the Spaniards,
    061   A remarkable dream and its fulfilment,
    063   A curious memorandum upon the subject of giants,
    070   A remarkable account of a sea captain,
    075   An account of the fearful Simoon of Arabia,
    080   The travels of Bruce in various parts of the southern hemisphere,
    081   his account of the wild beasts of these countries -- he accompanies a hunting party,
    083   of the sagacity of a young elephant,
    087   his journey across the deseret of Thebaid, and a description of the Arab houses,
    089   the Turks opinion of the origin of the English,
    090   of the marble quarries of the deseret,
    092   of red and green granite marble,
    093   of the beautiful appearance of the marble mountains,
    097   his account of a singular custom of the people of the red sea for the preservation of christians,
    098   Bruces travels continued,
    099   his account and opinion, and the evidence he urges to prove that the Israelites did cross the red sea on dry ground,
    102   a tradition of the Troglodytes, of the passage of the Hebrews through the red sea,


    vi                     CONTENTS.                   

    103   Bruce continued,
    103   his travels in Abyssinia and desert of Nubia,
    104   his terror at sight of an army of fiery sand pillars,
    108   he takes an Arab and wife prisoners,
    114   their trials for life, their sentences,
    116   a description of the Simoon,
    124   his sufferings on the desert, and his joy at the sight of three kites,
    127   he swooned at the scent of food,
    131   abused in the streets of Grand Cairo,
    134   Bruce continued,
    his account of the visit of the queen of Sheba to Jerusalem in the days of king Solomon,

    136   the queen of Sheba's son by Solomon, educated at Jerusalem
    138   A horrible account of the eating of live flesh by the Abyssinians,
    143   An account of a Rattle Snake,
    146   An account of the reptile named Salamander both of land and water,
    149   An account of the Tarantula,
    150   of the fossil asbestos,
    151   Singular adventure of a Stork,
    152   Of the wonderful properties of the Polypus,
    157   Of the phenomena of meteors and other fires,
    161   Of the Ignis Fatuus,
    164   Of the phenomena of whurl-winds, and water spouts,
    166   Of the wonderful properties of Lobsters, and of sea and land Crabs,
    171   Of the aniimal Flower of Barbadoes,
    172   Of two remarkable Echoes,
    172   Remarkable accounts of Hair,
    173   Strange customs of the Mexicans,
    187   Singular accounts of Iron,
    188   A singular Providence,
    190   Memoirs of the Martyr Polycarp,
    202   Remarkable account of David Sands,
    204   A Deist confuted,


                        CONTENTS.                   vii

    214   A prisober among savages,
    223   Singular fulfilment of a strange prophecy,
    227   Singular deliverance from two monsters,
    229   Wonderful visions in various ages,
    244   An account of the subterranean galleries of the dead,
    250   A tremendous thunder storm,
    251   An adventure in the mines of Idra,
    253   Idol worship of the Mexicans,
    261   Bartram's researches in the woods of America,
    274   Sufferings of a black slave,
    275   Accounts of famous Infidels,
    288   An apparition seen by an Infidel,
    289   Death of Thomas Paine,
    291   An account of the Roman Catholic Inquisition at Goa in the East Indies,
    302   Of the inquisition in Spain,
    308   Of the inquisition in Italy,
    323   Of persecutions of Christians,
    331   A Soldier delivered from the jaws of a tyger,
    334   Of the phenomena of fire in general and of earth quakes,
    372   Proofs that the Indians of North America are descended from the ancient Hebrews,
    408   Phenomenon of stone being thrown from the moon,
    412   Mr. Howard's account of the phenomena of stones falling from the heavens,
    420   Supernatural phenomena,
    427   Observations on comets,
    428   Supernatural phenomena,
    431   On the phenomenon of light,
    435   The sufferings of Thecla, and an account of St. Paul's person,
    442   On the diamond mines in Hindustan,
    447   The providence of God asserted,
    450   A strange providence,
    452   Of the local situation of the garden of Eden,
    455   The works of God displayed,
    458   A man possessed of the devil,


    viii                     CONTENTS.                   

    465   Narrative of two Roman scholars,
    468   Of a poison tree and its effects,
    471   An account of the fountain tree,
    472   Travels and adventures among savages,
    534   A traveller taken and confined by robbers,
    546   Natural history of the earth and effects of the deluge,
    554   An account of God's providence towards a poor glider,
    556   A wonderful providence,
    557   Strange detection, and just punishment of a murderer of seven small children,
    559   Remarkable account of two Quakers who escaped from robbers,
    562   A wonderful providence, or a supernatural interference,
    563   Of a man who had a view of heaven and hell,
    565   A strange account of a beautiful lady's death,
    566   A very remarkable dream,
    568   A description of a wonderful clock,
    570   An attempt to describe the day of Judgment,
    580   The infidels chemical mistake detected,
    581   An account of the identical Rock which was smitten by Moses at Horeb,
    583   A wonderful account of a man restored to life after being hanged,
    592   An interesting account of the manner the ancients used to embalm their dead,
    596   An account of the Asiatic locust,
    598   An awful providence,
    599   Works of God displayed,


    009   I. ....... Great Lybia Constrictor.
    046   II. ..... Montezuma.
    173   III. .... Mexican Sacrifice.
    262   IV. .... Mexican Gladiators.
    308   V. ..... Catholic Torture.
    322   VI. .... Heathen Torture.
    330   VII. ... Catholic Burning of a Lady.
    408   VIII. . Joshua Commands the Sun.
    435   IX. .... Thecla in the Arena.
    570   X. ..... Second Coming of Christ.

    Pages 8 to 46 have not yet been transcribed.

    [ facing page 46 ]


                        Nature and Providence.                   47

    against the bridegrooms and the brides -- a voice against the whole people!" These words he continued to exclaim through the streets of Jerusalem by day and by night, with no cessation (unless what was needed for the support of nature) for seven years! He commenced in the year 63, while the city was in peace and prosperity, and terminated his exclamations only in his death, amidst the horrors of the siege in the year 70. This strange thing, when it commenced, soon excited great attention: and this Jesus was brought before Albinus, the Roman governor, who interrogated him, but could obtain no answer except the continuation of his woes. He commanded him to be scourged, but to no effect. During times of festivals, this cry of his was peculiarly loud and urgent. After the commencement of the siege, he ascended the walls, and in a voice still more tremendous than ever, he exclaimed, Wo, wo to this city, this temple, and this people!" And he then added, (for the first time for the seven years,) "Wo, wo to myself!" The words were no sooner uttered than a stone from a Roman machine without the walls, struck him dead on the spot!

    Such were the signs in the heavens and in the earth, which just preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. Several of them are recorded by Tacitus as well as by Josephus. The veracity of Josephus as a historian is probably allowed by all. Scaliger affirms that he deserves more credit as a writer, than all the Greek and Roman historians put together.

    An Account of the commencement of the kingdom of Mexico, and by whom; of remarkable incidents attendant on their journeyings, until their establishment as such. Also, some account of Montezuma the II, and ninth king of Mexico. Of the supernatural phenomenon, or presages of the overthrow and revolution of his kingdom, by the Spaniards.

    THAT region of country in South America, now called New-Mexico, and more particularly the city, is the place at which several northern tribes of Indians arrived after wandering forty years, and who came from a region of wilderness north of the gulf of California. The cause of their separation, and departure from their own people and country, arose very likely from some dispute or disaffection among their tribes. But they allege as a reason, something widely different from this, which we gather from their tradition of this affair, as recorded in their history.

    There was, say they, amongst us at the time of our departure

    48                     The Wonders of                   

    (from the Aztecas (this was their former name) a person of great authority called Huitziton, to whose opinion all paid great deference. This person exerted himself, though it is not known for what reason, to persuade his countrymen to change their country, and while he was meditating on his purpose, he heard once, by accident, a little bird singing on the branches of a tree, whose notes imitated the Mexican word Tihui, which means, let us go. This appeared a favourable opportunity to obtain his wish of his countrymen. Taking, therefore, another respectable person with him, he conducted him to that tree where the little bird used to sing, and thus addressed him: "Do you not attend my friend Tecpaltzin, to what this little bird says, Tihui, Tihui, which it repeats every moment to us; what can it mean, but that we must leave this country and find ourselves another? Without doubt, it is the warning of some secret divinity who watches over our welfare: let us obey, therefore, his voice, and not draw his anger upon us by a refusal." Tecpaltzin gave full assent to this interpretation, either from his opinion of the wisdom of Huitziton or because he was likewise prepossessed with the same desire. Two persons, so respectable, having agreed in sentiment; they were not long in drawing the body of the nation over to their party.

    Although we do not give credit to such an account, it does not however, appear altogether improbable; as it is not difficult for a person who is reputed wise, to persuade an ignorant and a superstitious people, through motives of religion, to whatever he pleases.

    Although we are far enough from believing that there was any supernatural communication through the voice of the bird, yet no doubt there was a bird whose voice in its chipperings, might resemble the Mexican word Tihui, and upon this the artful savage built his scheme of enterprise. Immediately departing at the voice of the bird to seek for themselves a kingdom in remoter forests. And accordingly after wandering many years, and passing over a tract of forest of more than one thousand miles, at length arrived at the vale of Mexico. Tochpanecatl, lord of this city, received them with singular humanity, and not contenting himself with granting them commodious dwellings, and regaling them plentifully; but becoming attached to them from long and familiar intercourse, he demanded from the chiefs of the nation, some noble virgin for a wife to his son Ilhiitcatl. The Mexicans obliged by such proofs of regard presented Tlacapautzin to him, who was soon after married to that illustrious youth; and from them the Mexican kings descended.

    At this place the King whose name was Xolotl reviewed these

                        Nature and Providence.                   49

    tribes, and was pleased with their chiefs, and soon became united by reciprocal marriages; and nobly gave permission that they might locate themselves where they could. And accordingly they sought their dwellings amongst those native philanthropists of the woods. Not many years, however, had elapsed, before they began to manifest their native character of enterprise, by depredations upon some of the neighbouring chiefs. This raised against them many enemies, and drove them for a shelter and place of defence, to a mountain situated on the western shore of that lake, two miles distant from the site of the city of Mexico. Here they suffered for the space of seventeen years, a rigorous persecution, which drove them again for a more secure asylum to several islands in the southern end of the lake. Here they subsisted fifty years in perfect wretchedness, living upon roots, berries, fish, and whatever they could find within those narrow limits of the Islands. Covering themselves with a kind of large leaf, which grows plentifully in the lake, and living in huts made of reeds and rushes.

    But from this place also they were driven, and enslaved by one of the petty kings, or chiefs of the country. After some years slavery, a war arose between two nations of that country, and the nation to whom the unfortunate Aztecas were prisoners, were worsted in their engagement, and forced to call to their assistance the aid of their slaves. At which time, the fugitives Aztecas proposed among themselves the following stratagem, in order to endeavour to please their lords by every effort of bravery. Accordingly they armed themselves with long stout staves, the points of which they hardened in the fire, not only to be used against the enemy, but to assist them in leaping from one bush to another if it should prove necessary, as, in fact, they had to combat in the water. They made themselves knives of itzli, and targets or shields of reeds wove together. It was agreed among them, that they were not to employ themselves as it was usual in making prisoners, but to content themselves with cutting of an ear, and leaving the enemy without further hurt. With this disposition they went out to battle, and while the Colhuas and Xochimilcas, were engaged, either by land on the borders of the lake, or by water in their boats, the Mexicans rushed furiously on the enemy, assisted by their staves in the water; cut off the ears of those whom they encountered, and put them in baskets which they carried for that purpose; but when they could not effect this from the struggles of the enemy, they killed them. By the assistance of the Mexicans, the Colhuas obtained so complete a victory that the Xochimilcas not only abandoned the field, but afraid even to remain in their city, they took refuge in the mountains.

    50                     The Wonders of                   

    This action having ended with so much glory, according to the custom of those nations, the soldiers of the Colhuas presented themselves with their prisoners before their general; as the bravery of the soldiers was not estimated by the number of enemies which were left dead on the field, but of those who were made prisoners alive, and shewn to the general.

    The Mexicans were likewise called upon to make the shew of their prisoners; but not having a single one to present, as the only four which they had taken were kept concealed for a particular purpose; they were reproached as a cowardly race by the general, and the soldiers of the Colhuas. Then the Mexicans holding out their baskets full of ears, said, "Behold from the number of ears which we present, you may judge of the number of prisoners we might have brought if we had inclined, but we were unwilling to lose time in binding them that we might accelerate your victory." The Colhuas remained awed and abashed, and began to conceive apprehensions from the prudence as well as from the courage of their slaves.

    The Mexicans or Aztecas, as they were then called, returned to their place of residence, and there erected an altar to their tutelary god; but being desirous at the dedication of it to make an offering of something precious, they demanded something of their lord for that purpose. He sent them in disdain, in a dirty rag of coarse cloth; a vile dead bird, with certain filth about it, which was carried by the priest of the Colhuas, who having laid it upon the altar without any salutation, retired. Whatever indignation the Mexicans felt from so unworthy an insult, reserving their revenge for another occasion, instead of such filth they placed upon the altar a knife of itzli, and an odoriferous herb. The day of consecration being arrived, the petty king of Colhua, and his nobility failed not to be present, not to do honour to the festival, but to make a mockery of his slaves. The Mexicans began this function with a solemn dance, in which they appeared in their best garments, and while the bystanders were most fixed in attention, they brought out the four Xochimilca prisoners, whom they had till then kept concealed, and after having made them dance a little, they sacrificed them upon a stone, breaking their breast with the knife of itzli, and tearing out their heart, which, whilst yet warm and beating, they offered to their god.

    This human sacrifice, the first of the kind which we know to have been made in that country, excited such horror in the Colhuas, that having returned instantly to Colhuacan, they determined to dismiss slaves who were so cruel, and might in future become destructive to the state; on which Coxcox, so was the petty king named, sent orders to them to depart immediately

                        Nature and Providence.                   51

    out of that district, and go wherever they might be most inclined. The Mexicans willingly accepted their discharge from slavery, and directing their course towards the north, came to Acatzitziatlan, a place situated between two lakes, named afterwards Mexicaltzinco, which name is almost the same with that of Mexico.

    As soon as the Mexicans took possession of that place, they erected a temple for their god Huitzilopochtli. The consecration of that sanctuary, although miserable, was not made without the effusion of human blood; for a daring Mexican having gone out in quest of some animal for a sacrifice, he encountered with a Colhuan named Xomimitl; after a few words, the feelings of national enmity, excited them to blows; the Mexican was victor, and having bound his enemy carried him to his countrymen who sacrificed him immediately, and with great jubilee presented his heart torn from his breast on the altar, exercising such cruelty not more for the blood, worship of that false divinity, than the gratification of their revenge upon the Colhuas. Around the sanctuary they began to build their wretched huts of reeds and rushes, being destitute at the time of other materials. Such was the beginning of the city of Tenochtitlan, which in future times was to become the court of a great empire, and the largest and most beautiful city of the new world.

    We will now give some account of Montezuma the II. but ninth king of the Mexicans; also the names of the kings before him, and those who followed after him. History informs us, there were eleven kings of Mexico in succession. Their names were as follows: first,

    Acamapitzin,   I. King of Mexico
    Huitzilihuitl,   II.
    Chimalpapoca, III.
    Itzcoatl,   IV.
    Montezuma, V.
    Axayacatl, Vl.
    Tizoc,   VII.
    Ahuitzolt, VIII.
    Montezuma, IX.
    Cuitlahuatzin, X.
    Quauhtemotzin, XI.
    This last king was put to death by the soldiers of Cortez, by broiling him upon red hot coals of fire, endeavouring thereby extort from him some further account of treasures, hidden, they imagined, by the poor suffering monarch. But he persisted in his silence upon that subject, and died as a sacrifice upon

    52                     The Wonders of                   

    the bloody altar of avarice. At the time of the elevation of Montezuma, to the throne of Mexico, there was no heir to succeed the deceased monarch Ahuitzatl. Therefore the nobles proceeded to the election of one of the grandsons of the royal house, and that election fell on Montezuma Xocoyatzin.

    Besides the bravery which he had displayed in several battles, in which he held the post of general, he was likewise a priest, and much revered for his gravity, his circumspection, and religion. He was a man of a taciturn temper, extremely deliberate, not only in words, but also in his actions; and whenever he spoke in the royal council, of which he was a member, he was listened to with respect. Notice of the election being sent to the two allied kings, they repaired instantly to the court to pay their compliments. Montezuma, being apprized of it, also retired to the temple, appearing to think himself unworthy of so much honour. The nobility went there to acquaint him with his being elected, and found him sweeping the pavement of the temple. He was conducted by a numerous attendance to the palace, where the electors, with due solemnity, intimated the election had fallen on him as the fittest person to fill the throne of Mexico. From thence he returned to the temple to perform the usual ceremonies, and as soon as they were finished he received on the throne the homage of the nobility, and heard the congratulatory harangues of the orators.

    Who then like the silly sycophants of courts more refined, poured forth their congratulatory speeches, both to their king and country. To the former, for his royal majesty, wisdom, and benignity; and to the latter for its singular happiness in having so glorious a prince for its ruler.

    Montezuma heard these harangues with much attention, and was so greatly affected that he attempted three times to answer them; but could not from the interruption of the tears which the secret pleasure he felt produced, and gave him the appearance of much humility; but, at last after checking his emotions, he replied in few words, declaring himself unworthy of the station to which he was exalted, and returning thanks to the orators for the praises which they bestowed on him; and then returned to the temple to keep fast for four days, at the end of which he was re-conducted with great state to the royal palace.

    But contrary to the hopes and natural expectations of his subjects, he proved to be a proud, cruel, libidinous, and luxurious king. All the servants of his palace consisted of persons of rank. Besides those who constantly lived in it, every morning six hundred feudatory lords and nobles came to pay court to him. They passed the whole day in the anti-chamber, where none of their servants were permitted to enter, conversing in a

                        Nature and Providence.                   53

    low voice, and waiting the orders of their sovereign. The servants who accompanied those lords, were so numerous as to occupy three small courts of the palace, and many waited in the streets. The women about the court were not less in number, including those of rank, servants, and slaves. All this numerous female tribe, lived shut up in a kind of seraglio, under the care of some noble matrons, who watched over their conduct; as these kings were extremely jealous, and every piece of misconduct which happened in the palace, however slight, was severely punished. Of these women the king retained those who pleased him; the others he gave away, as a recompense for the services of his vassals. All the feudatories of the crown were obliged to reside for some months of the year, at the court; and at their return to the states, to leave their sons or brothers behind them, as hostages, which the king demanded as a security for their fidelity; on which account they required to keep houses in Mexico.

    The forms and ceremonials introduced at court, were another effect of the despotism of Montezuma. No one could enter the palace, either to serve the king, or to confer with him on any business, without pulling off his shoes and stockings at the gate. No person was allowed to appear before the king in any pompous dress, as it was deemed a want of respect to majesty; consequently the greatest lords, excepting the nearest relations of the king, stripped themselves of the rich dress which they wore, or least covered it with one more ordinary, to shew their humility before him. All persons on entering the hall of audience, and before sneaking to the king, made three bows, saying at the first, lord, at the second, my lord; and at the third, great lord. * They spoke low, and with the head inclined, and received the answer which the king gave them by means of his secretaries, as attentively and humbly as if it had been the voice of an oracle. In taking leave, no person ever turned his back upon the throne.

    The audience hall served also for his dining room. The table was a large pillow, and his seat a low chair. The table cloth, napkins; and towels were of cotton, but very fine, white, and always perfectly clean. The kitchen utensils were of the earthen ware of Cholula; but none of these things ever served him more than once, as immediately after he gave them to one of his nobles. The cups in which they prepared his chocolate, and other drinks of the cocoa, were of gold, or some beautiful sea-shell, or naturally formed vessels curiously varnished. He had gold plate, but it was used only on certain festivals, in the temple. The

    * The Mexican words are, Tlatonai, lord; Notlatocalxin, my lord; and Huitlatoani, great lord.

    54                     The Wonders of                   

    number, and variety of dishes at his, table amazed the Spaniards who saw them. The conqueror Cortez says, that they covered the floor of a great hall and that there were dishes of every kind of game, fish, fruit, and herbs of that country. Three or four hundred noble youths carried this dinner in form; presented it as soon as the king sat down to table, and immediately retired; and that it might not grow cold, every dish was accompanied with its chafing-dish. The king marked with a rod, which he had in his hand, the meats which he chose, and the rest were distributed among the nobles who were in the anti-chamber. Before he sat down, four of the most beautiful women of his seraglio, presented water to him to wash his hands, and continued standing all the time of his dinner, together with six of his principal ministers, and his carver.

    As soon as the king sat down to table, the carver shut the door of the hall, that none of the other nobles might see him eat. The ministers stood at a distance, and kept a profound silence, unless when they made answer to what the king said. The carver and the four women served the dishes to him, besides two others who brought him bread made of maize baked with eggs. He frequently heard music, during the time of his meal; and was entertained with the humorous sayings of some deformed men whom he kept out of mere state. He shewed much satisfaction in hearing them, and observed that amongst their jests, they frequently pronounced some important truth. When his dinner was over he took tobacco mixed with liquid amber, in a pipe, or reed beautifully varnished, and with the smoke of it put himself to sleep.

    After having slept a little, upon the same low chair he gave audience, and listened attentively to all that was communicated to him; encouraged those who, from embarrassment, were unable to speak to him, and answered every one by his ministers or secretaries. After giving audience, he was entertained with music, being much delighted with hearing the glorious actions of his ancestors sung. At other times he amused himself with seeing various games played.

    When he went abroad, he was carried on the shoulders of the nobles in a litter covered with a rich canopy, attended by a numerous retinue of courtiers; and wherever he passed, every person stopped with their eyes shut, as if they feared to be dazzled with the splendour of majesty. When he alighted from the litter to walk on foot, they spread carpets, that he might not touch the earth with his feet.

    The graudeur and magnificence of his palaces, houses of pleasure, woods, and gardens, were correspondent to this majesty. The palace of his usual residence was a vast edifice of stone

                        Nature and Providence.                   55

    and lime, which had twenty doors to the public square and streets; three great courts, in one of which was a beautiful fountain, several halls, and more than a hundred chambers. Some of the apartments had walls of marble and other valuable kinds of stone. The beams were of cedar, cypress and other excellent woods, well finished and carved. Among the halls there was one so large, that, according to the testimony of an eye-witness of veracity, it could contain three thousand people. Besides this palace, he had others, both within and without the capital. In Mexico, besides the seraglio for his wives, there was lodging for all his ministers and counselors, and all the officers of his household and court; and also accommodation for foreign lords who arrived there, and particularly for the two allied kings.

    Two houses in Mexico he appropriated to animals, the one for birds, which did not live by prey: the other for those of prey, quadrupeds, and reptiles. There were several chambers belonging to the first, and galleries supported on pillars of marble, all of one piece. These galleries looked towards a garden, where, in the midst of some: shrubbery, ten fish-ponds were formed, some of them of fresh water for the aquatic birds of rivers, and others of salt water for those of the sea.

    In other parts of the house were all sorts of birds, in such number and variety, as to strike the Spaniards with wonder, who could not believe there was any species in the world wanting to the collection. They were supplied with the same food which they fed upon while they enjoyed their liberty, whether seeds, fruits, or insects. For those birds which lived on fish, only, the daily consumption was ten Castilian pesos of fish, (according to the testimony of the conqueror Cortez, in his letters to Charles V.) which is more than three hundred Roman pounds. Three hundred men, says Cortez, were employed to take care of those birds, besides their physicians who observed their distempers, and applied timely remedies to them. Of those three hundred men, some procured them their food, others distributed it, others took care of their eggs at the time of their incubation, and others picked their plumage at certain seasons the year; for, besides the pleasure which the king took in seeing so great a multitude of animals collected together, he was principally careful of their feathers, not less for the sake of the famous Mosaic images, than of the other works which were made of them. The halls and chambers of those houses, were so many in number, as the conqueror above mentioned attests, that they could have accommodated two great princes with all their retinue. This celebrated house was situated in

    56                     The Wonders of                   

    the place where, at present, the great convent of St. Francis stands.

    The other house appropriated to the wild animals, had a large and handsome court, with a chequered pavement, and was divided into various apartments. One of them contained all the birds of prey, from the royal eagle to the kestrel, and many individuals. of every species. These birds were distributed, according to their species, in various subterraneous chambers, which were more than seven feet deep, and upwards of seventeen feet in length; and breadth. The half of every chamber was covered with flat stones and stakes were fixed in the wall, on which they might sleep and be defended from rain. The other half of the chamber was only covered with a lattice, through which they enjoyed the light of the sun. For the support of these birds, were killed, daily, near five hundred turkeys. In the same house were many low halls filled with a great number of strong wooden cages, in which lions, tigers, wolves, coyotoo, and wild cats were confined, and all other kinds of wild beasts, which were fed upon deer, rabbits, hares, techichis, and other animals, and the intestines of human sacrifices.

    The king of Mexico not only kept all the species of animals which other princes do for state, but likewise such as by nature seemed exempted from slavery, namely, crocodiles, and serpents. The serpents were kept in large casks or vessels; the crocodiles in ponds, which were walled round. There were also, various ponds, for fish, two of which, that are remaining and still beautiful, we have seen in the palace of Chapoltepec, two miles from Mexico.

    Montezuma, who was not satisfied with having every sort of animal in his palace, also collected there all irregularly formed men, who either from the colour of their hair, or of their skin, or some other deformity in their persons, were oddities of their species. A humour this, however, not unattended with beneficial consequences, as it gave maintenance to a number of miserable objects, and delivered them from the inhuman insults of their other fellow creatures.

    All his palaces were surrounded with beautiful gardens, where there was every kind of beautiful flower, odoriferous herb, and medicinal plant. He had, likewise, woods, inclosed with walls, and furnished with variety of game, in which he frequently sported. One of those woods was upon an island in the lake, known at present, among the Spaniards, by the name of Pinon.

    Montezuma, after occupying the greater part of his reign in wars and expeditions against the surrounding nations, in which he acquired great strength, celebrity, and riches, came nevertheless,

                        Nature and Providence.                   57

    to be the subject of sorrows. Fears and apprehensions of evil to come upon his kingdom, occasioned by unusual phenomenas, presages, &c. of its dissolution. In an expedition in the latter part of his reign against the distant province of Atamala, on his march, which lay over a very lofty mountain, they were attacked by a furious north wind, accompanied with snow, which made great havoc in the army, as some of them who were accustomed to a mild climate, and travelled almost without clothing perished with cold, and others were beat down by the trees which were rooted up by the wind. Of the remainder of the army, which continued their journey but feebly to Atamala, the greater part died in battle.

    These and other calamities together with the appearance of a comet at that time, threw all the princes of Anahuac into the utmost consternation. Montezuma, who was too observing to look with indifference on so uncommon a phenomenon, consulted his astrologers upon it; but they being unable to divine its meaning applied to the king of Acolhuacan, who was reputed able in astrology, and in the art of divination. These kings although they were related to, and perpetual allies of, each other, did not live in much harmony together, the king of Acolhuacan having put to death his son Huexotzincatzin, paying no regard to the prayers of Montezuma, who, as the uncle of that prince, had interfered in his behalf. For a long time past they had neither met with their usual frequency, nor confidence; but on this occasion the mysterious dread which seized the mind of Montezuma incited him to profit by the knowledge of the king Nezahualpilli, for which reason he intreated him to come to Mexico to consult with him upon an event which appeared equally to concern them both. Nezahualpilli went, and after having conferred, at length, with Montezuma, was of opinion, according to the account of historians, that the comet predicted the future disasters of those kingdoms, by the arrival of a new people. This interpretation, however, being unsatisfactory to Montezuma, Nezahualpilli challenged him at the game of foot ball, which was frequently played at even by those kings themselves; and it was agreed between them that if the king of Mexico gained the party, the king of Acolhuacon should renounce his interpretation, adjudging it to be false; but if Nezahualpilli came off victor, Montezuma should acknowledge and admit it to be true; a folly though truly ridiculous in the men, to believe the truth of a prediction could depend on the player, or the fortune of the game; but less pernicious, however than that of the ancient Europeans, who decided on truth, innocence, and honour, by a barbarous duel and the fortune of arms. Nezahualpilli, remained victor in the

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    game, and Montezuma disconsolate at the loss and the confirmation of so fatal a prognostic; he was willing, however, to try other methods, hoping to find some more favourable interpretation which might counterbalance that of the king of Acolhuacan, and the disgrace he had suffered at play: he consulted therefore a very famous astrologer who was much versed in the art of divination by which he had rendered his name so celebrated in that land, and acquired so great a respect, that without ever stirring abroad from his house he was considered and consulted by the kings themselves as an oracle. He knowing, without doubt, what had happened between the two kings, instead of returning a propitious answer to his sovereign, or at least one which was equivocal, as such prognosticators generally do, confirmed the fatal prophecy of the Tezcucan. Montezuma was so enraged at the answer that in return he made his house be pulled to pieces, leaving the unhappy diviner buried amidst the ruins of his sanctuary.

    These an other similar presages of the fall of that empire appear represented in the paintings of the Americans, and are related in the histories of the Spaniards. We are far from thinking that all which has been written on this subject is deserving of credit; but neither can we doubt of the tradition which prevailed among the Americans, that a new people totally different from the native inhabitants, were to arrive at that kingdom and make themselves masters of that country. There has not been in the country of Anahuac any nation more or less polished which has not confirmed this tradition either by verbal testimony or their own histories.

    It is impossible to guess at the origin of a tradition so universal as this; but the event which I am going to relate, is said to have been public, and to have made a considerable noise; to have happened also in the presence of the two kings and the Mexican nobility. It is represented in some of the paintings of those nations, and a legal attestation of it even was sent to the court of Madrid. * Though in compliance with the duty of a historian, we give a place to many of the memorable traditions of those nations; on these, however, we leave our readers to form their own judgment and comments.

    Papantzin, a Mexican princess, and sister of Montezuma, was married to the governor of Tlatelolco, and after his death lived in his palace until the year 1509, when she likewise died of old age. Her funeral was celebrated with magnificence suitable to her exalted birth, the king her brother, and all the nobility of Mexico and Tlatelolco being present. Her body was buried

    * See Torquemada, lib ii. cap. 51, and Betencourt, Part iii. Trat. i. cap. 8.

                        Nature and Providence.                   59

    in a subterraneous cavern, in the garden of the same palace. near to a fountain where she had used to bathe, and the mouth of the cave was shut with a stone. The day following, a child of five or six years of age happened to pass from her mother's apartment to that of the major-domo of the deceased princess, which was on the other side of the garden; and in passing saw the princess sitting upon the steps of the fountain, and heard herself called by her, by The word Cocoton, * which is a word of tenderness used to children. The little child not being capable, on account of its age, of reflecting on the death of the princess, and thinking that she was going to bathe as usual, approached without fear, upon which she sent the child to call the wife of her major-domo; the child went to call her, but the woman smiling and caressing her, told her, "My little girl, Papantzin is dead, and was buried yesterday; but as the child insisted, and pulled her by her gown, she, more to please, than from belief of what was told her, followed her; but hardly come in sight of the princess, when she was seized with such horror that she fell fainting to the earth. The little girl ran to acquaint her mother, who, with two other companions came out to give assistance; but on seeing the princess they were so affected with fear that they would have swooned away if the princess herself had not endeavoured to comfort them, assuring them she was still alive. She made them call her major-domo, and charged him to go and bear the new; to the king her brother; but he durst not undertake it, as he dreaded that the king would consider the account as a fable, and would punish him with his usual severity for being a liar, without examination into the matter. Go then to Tezcaco, said the princess, and entreat the king Nezahualpilli, in my name, to come here and see me. The major-domo obeyed, and the king having received the information, set out immediately for Tlatelolco When he arrived there, the princess was in a chamber of the palace; though full of astonishment, the king saluted her, when she requested him to go to Mexico, to tell the king her brother that she was alive, and had occasion to see him, to communicate some things to him of the utmost importance; The king set out for Mexico to execute her commission; but Montezuma would hardly give credit to what was told him. However, that he might not do injustice to so respectable an ambassador, he went along with him, and many of the Mexican nobility to Tlatelolco, and having entered the hall where the princess was, he demanded of her if she was his sister. "I am, indeed, sir," answered the princess, "your sister Papanizin, whom you

    * Cocoton means little girl, only that it is an expression of more tenderness.


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    buried yesterday; I am truly alive, and wish to relate to you what I have seen, as it deeply concerns you." Upon this the two kings sat down, while all the other nobles continued standing full of admiration at what they saw.

    The princess then began to speak as follows: "After I was dead, or if you will not believe that I have been dead, after I remained bereft of motion and of sense, I found myself suddenly placed upon an extensive plain, to which there appeared no boundaries. In the middle of it I observed a road which I afterwards saw was divided into a variety of paths, and on one side ran a great river whose waters made a frightful noise. As I was going to throw myself into the river to swim to the opposite bank, I saw before me a beautiful youth of handsome stature, clothed in a long habit, white as snow, and dazzling like the sun; he had wings of beautiful feathers, and upon his forehead this mark," (in saying this the princess made the sign of the cross with her two fore fingers, "and laying bold of my hand, said to me, Stop, for it is not yet time to pass this river. God loves thee, though thou knowest it not. He then led me along by the river-side, upon the borders of which I saw a great number of human skulls and bones, and heard most lamentable groans that waked my utmost pity. Turning my eyes afterwards upon the river, I saw some large vessels upon it filled with men of a complexion and dress quite different from ours. They were fair and bearded, and carried standards in their hands, and helmets on their heads. The youth then said to me, It is the will of God that thou shalt live to be a witness of the revolutions which are to happen to these kingdoms. The groans which thou hast heard among these bones are from the souls of your ancestors, which are ever and will be tormented for their crimes. The men whom you see coming in these vessels, are those who by their arms will make themselves masters of all these kingdoms, and with them will be introduced the knowledge of the true God, the creator of heaven and earth. As soon as the war shall be at an end, and the bath published and made known which will wash away sin, be thou the first to receive it, and guide by thy example the natives of thy country. Having spoke this the youth disappeared, and I found myself recalled to life; I rose from the place where I lay, raised up the stone of my sepulchre, and came out to the garden where I was found by my domestics."

    Montezuma was struck with astonishment at the recital of so strange an adventure, and feeling his mind distracted with a variety of apprehensions, rose and retired to one of his palaces which was destined for occasions of grief, without taking leave of his sister, the king of Tacuba or any one of those who accompanied

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    him, although some of his flatterers, in order to console him, endeavoured to persuade him that the illness which the princess had suffered, had turned her brain. He avoided for ever after returning to see her, that he might not again hear the melancholy presages of the ruins of his empire. The princess, it is said, lived many years in great retirement and abstinence. She was the first who in the year 1524, received the sacred baptism in Tlatelolco, and was called from that time, Donna Maria Papantzin.

    Among the memorable events, in 1510, there happened without any apparent. cause, a sudden and furious burning of the turrets of the greater temple of Mexico, in a calm, serene night; and in the succeeding year, so violent and extraordinary an agitation of the waters of the lake, that many houses of the city were destroyed, there being at the same time no wind, earthquake, nor any other natural cause to which the accident could be ascribed. It is said also, that in 1511, the figures of armed men appeared in the air, who fought and slew each other. These and other similar phenomena, recounted by Acosta; Torquemada and others, are found very exactly described in the Mexican and Acolhuan histories.

    That God in his providence, has, in former ages, afforded to the nations of the earth at various periods, as it pleased him, supernatural tokens or presages of future events, disastrous to the affairs of men, is evident. To believe this, requires no superstitious stretch of credulity, since history of the best authority, abundantly testify the facts. But to disbelieve it, requires a stretch of skepticism, bordering hard upon infidelity. There are many persons, who, notwithstanding their belief in supernatural existences, yet are slow to subscribe to the idea of supernatural communications to men. Let such remember, God is an omniscient spirit, and also controls all the beings of the natural and supernatural state. And that it is perfectly consistent with his general providence, goodness and power, to give to poor grovelling man, frequent tokens of his presence, as well to his mind, as sight and hearing. For further communications upon this subject, see pages 38, 46, 384, 546, 547, and 572, of this work.

    A remarkable dream, its interpretation and fulfilment taken from the journal of Tho. Chalkley an eminent quaker minister, a native of London, but spent the greater part of his life in America who relates the following as being an eye witness of the fact. I give the account verbatim.

    This great and good man being on his homeward bound passage from America to England, relates the following of the

    Pages 62 to 133 have not yet been transcribed.

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    boat. I am not however a needy man, or one that is distressed for money; that being the case, and as you have already my prayers for your charity, I would not deprive you of those of the widow and the orphan, whom that money may very materially relieve. Julian and Rosa, the first house in Cairo, will furnish me with what rnoney I require; besides, I am in the service of the greatest king in Europe, who would not fail to supply me abundantly if my necessities required it, as I am traveling for his service."

    (In the subsequent conversation between the Bey and Mr. Bruce, he so far fained the esteem of the Prince, by his manly and genuine behaviour, tlrat he obiained a Firmun, permitting the captains English vessels belonging to Bombay and Bengal, to bring their ships and merchandise to Suez; a place far preferable, in all respects, to Jidda, to which they were formerly confined. Of this permission, which no European nation could ever before acquire, many English vessels have already availed themselves; and it has proved peculiarly useful both in public and private despatches. The Bey ordered Mr. Brnce to be clothed with a caftaan, which is a loose garment like a night-gown, and is a gift of ceremony, and a mark of favour. Upon withdrawing from the presence of the Bey, he was received with great respect by the bye-standers. He acknowledges, indeed, " That the man was the same, but it was the caftan that made the difference." The soldiers conducted him to his lodgings with great despatch, on a mule finely caparisoned, but free from the salutations of the quarter-staff. The scale of politeness was now turned in his favour, and to show their respect, they knocked down every person they overtook in the streets, giving him first a blow with the quarter-staff, and then asked, him, why he did not get out of the way? After some stay at Cairo, Mr. Bruce embarked at Alexandria, for Marseilles, where he happily arrived and which finishes the account of his travels.

    (see also supplementary references at Queen of Sheba web-site)


    An account of the Visit of the Queen of Sheba * to Jerusalem. and the consequences of that visit, viz. the foundation of an Ethiopian monarchy, and the continuation of the Sceptre in the Tribe of Judah, down to this day.

    We are not to wonder, if the prodigious hurry and flow of business, and the immensely valuable transactions they had with each other, had greatly familiariscd the Tyrians and Jews, with their correspondents the Cushites and Shepherds on the coast of Africa. This had gone so far, as very naturally to have created a desire in the queen of Sheba, the sovereign of that country, to go herself and see the application of such immense treasures that had been exported from her country for a series of

    * It should properly be Saba, Azab, Azaba, all signifying South


                        Nature and Providence.                   135

    years, and the prince who so magnificently employed them. -- There can be no doubt of this expedition, as Pagan, Arab, Moor, Abyssinian, and all the countries round, voueh it pretty much in theterms of scripture.

    Many * have thought this queen was an Arab. But Saba was a separate state, and the Sabeans a disliact people from the Ethiopians and the Arabs, and have continued so till very lately. We know, from history, that it was a custom among these Sabeans, to have women for their sovereigns in preference to men, a custom which still subsists among their descendents.

    Her name, the Arabs say, was Belkis; the Abyssinians, Maqueda. Our Saviour calls her Queen of the South, without mentioning any other name, but gives his sanction to the truth of the voyage. " The Queen of the South, shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of c Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." Matt xii. 42, Luke xi. 31. It is not probale our Saviour would say she came from the uttermost parts of the earth, if she had been an Arab,:and had near fifty degrees of the continent behind her. The gold, the myrrh, cassia, and franincense, were all the produce of her own country; and the many reasons Pineda** gives to shew she was an Arab, more than convince me that she was an Ethiopian or Cushite shepherd.

    A strong objection to her being an Arab; is, that the Sabean Arabs, or Homerites, the people that lived opposite to Azab on the Arabian shore, had kings instead of queens, which latter the Shepherds had, and still have. Moreover, the kings of the Homerites were never seen abroad, and were stoned to death if they appeared in public; subjects of this stamp would not very readily suffer their queen to go to Jerusalem, even supposing they had a queen, which they had not.

    Whether she was a Jewess or a Pagan is uncertain; Sabaism was the religion of all the East. it was the constant attendant and stumbling-block of the Jews; but considering the multitude of that people then trading from Jerusalem, and the long time it contioued, it is not improbable she was a Jewess. "And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions." *** Our Saviour, moreover, speaks of her with praise, pointing her out as an example to the Jews. **** And, in her thanksgiving before Solomon, she alludes to God's blessing on

    * Such as Justin, Cyprian, Epiphanius, Cyril
    ** Pin. de reb, Solonton, lib iv. cap. 4th;
        -- Josephus thinks she was an Ethiopian, so do Origen, Augustin, and St. Anselm.
    *** 1 Kings x. 1, 2 Chron ix. 1.
    **** Matt. xii. 43. Luke xi. 31.


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    the seed of Israel for ever. * which is by no means the language of a Pagan, but of a person skilled in the ancient history of the Jews.

    She likewise appears to have been a person of learning, and that sort of learning which was then almost perculiar to Palestine, not to Ethiopia. For we see that one of the reasons of her coming, was to examine whether Solomon was really the learned man he was said to be. She came to try him in allegories, or parables, in which Nathan had instructed Solomon.

    The learning of the East, and of the neighboring kings that correspond with each other, especially in Palestine and Syria, consisted chiefly in these: "And Joash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the Cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trod down the thistle." -- "Thou sayest, Lo, thou hast smitten the Edomites, and thine heart lifteth there up to boast: abide now at home, why shouldest thou meddle to thine hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?" 2 Chron. xxv. 18, 19. 

    The annals of Abyssinia, being very full upon this point, have taken a middle opinion, and by no means an improbable one. They say she was a Pagan when she left Azab, but being full of admiration in the sight of Solomon's works, she was converted to Judaism in Jerusalem, and bore him a son, whom she called Menilek, and who was their first king. However strongly they assert this, and however dangerous it would be to doubt it in Abyssinia, I will not here aver it for truth, nor much less still will I positively contradict it, as scripture has said nothing about it.

    To Saba, or Azab, then, she returned with her son Menilek, whom, after keeping him some years, she sent back to his father to be instructed. Solomon did not neglect his charge, and he was anointed and crowned king of Ethiopia, in the temple of Jerusalem, and at his inauguration took the name of David. After he returned to Azab, and brought with him a colony of Jews, among whom were many doctors of the law of Moses, particularly one of each tribe, to make judges in his kingdom, from whom the present Umbares (or Supreme Judges, three of whom always attend the king) are said and believed to be descended. With these came also Azarias, the son of Zadock the priest, and brought with him a Hebrew transcript of the law, which was delivered into his custody, as he bore the title of Nebeit, or High Priest; and this charge, though the book itself

    * 2 Kings x. 9. 2 Chron. ix. 3.


                        Nature and Providence.                   137

    was burnt with the church of Axum in the Moorish war of Adel, is still continued, as it is said, in the linage of Azarias, who are Nebrits, or keepers of the church of Axum, at this day. All Abyssinia was thereupon converted, and the government of the church and state modelled according to what was then in use at Jerusalem.

    By the last act of the queen of Sheba's reign, she settled the mode of succession in her country for the future. First, she enacted, that the crown should be hereditary in the family of Solomon for ever. Secondly, that after her, no woman should be capable of wearing that crown or being queen, but that it should descend to the heir male, however distant, in exclusion of all heirs female whatever, however near; and that these two articles should be considered as the fundamental laws of the kingdom, never to be altered or abolished. And, lastly, That the heirs male of the royal house, should always be sent prisoners to a high mountain, where they were to continue till their death, or till the succession should open to them.

    What was the reason of this last regulation is not known, it being peculiar to Abyssinia; but the custom of having women for sovereigns, which was a very old one, pervailed among the neighbouring shepherds in the last century, and, for what we know, prevails to this day. It obtained in Nubia till Augustus's time, when Petreius, his lieutenant in Egypt, subdued the country, and took the queen Candace prisoner. It endured also after Tiberius, as we learn from St. Philip's baptising the ebuuch, * servant of queen Candace, who must have been successor to the former; for she when taken prisoner by Petreius, is represented as an infirm woman, having but one eye. Candace indeed was the name of all the sovereigns, in the same manner Caesar was of the Roman emperors. As for the last severe part, the punishment of the princes, it is probably intended to prevent some disorders among the princes of her house, that she had observed frequently to happen in the house of David ** at Jerusalem.

    The queen of Sheba having made these laws irrevocable to all her posterity, died, after a long reign of forty years, in 986 before Christ, placing her son Menilek upon the throne, whose posterity, the annals of Abyssinia would teach us to believe, have ever since reigned. So far we must indeed bear witness to them, that this is no new doctrine, but has been steadfastly and uniformly maintained from their earliest account of time; first, when Jews, then in later days after they had embraced christianity. We may further add, that the testimony off all the neighbouring

    * Acts viii. 27, 38.
    ** 2 Sam. xvi. 32. -- 1 JKings ii. 13.


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    nations is with them upon this subject, whether they be friends or enemies. They only differ in the name of the queen or in giving her two names.

    This difference, at such a distance of time, should not break scores, especially as we shall see that the queens in the present day have sometimes three or four names, and all the kings three, whence has arisen a very great confusion in their history. And as for her being an Arab, the objection is still easier got over. -- For all the inhabitants of Arabia Felix, expecially those of the coast opposite to Saba, were reputed Abyssinians, and their country part of Abyssinia, from the earliest ages, to the Mahometan conquest and after. They were her subjects; first, Sabean Pagans like herself, then converted (as the tradition says,) to Judaism, during the time of the building of the temple, and continuing Jews from that time to the year 622 after Christ, when they became Mahometans. The bearing of the kings of Abyssinia is a lion passant, proper upon a field gules, and their motto, "Mo Anbast am Niziles Solomon am Negade Jude;" which signifies, 'the lion of the race of Solomon and tribe of Judah hath overcome.'

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    An account of the phenomena of Meteors and other fires, which arise from minerals in the earth, such as caverns, wells, and deep cellars.

    (Methodist Magazine -- England)

    Among fiery meteors are reckoned thunders, lightning, ignis fatui, lambent flames, and what are called falling stars. Unless we account for these (as indeed it is easy to do) upon the principles of electricity, we must suppose they are owing to sulphureous or bituminous particles, floating in the air, which when collected in sufficient quantities, take fire by various means. If a large quantity of inflammable vapour takes fire at once, the flame tears the cloud with incredible force, as well as an immense noise. But the light moving quicker than the sound, is seen before that is heard. Sometimes an exhalation of a milder kind takes fire, and produces lightning without thunder. When it thunders and lightens, it commonly rains too, the same shock driving together and condensing the clouds. And the wisdom of God appoints it so, for the preservation of his creatures. For if lightning falls on one who is thoroughly wet, it does him no harm at all. Not that the water quenches or resists the fire; but it conveys it into the ground.

    High places are most frequently struck with lightning if they have sharp points, as spires of churchs, or tops of trees, which as it were, attract the fire. It sometimes burns the clothes without hurting the body; sometimes breaks the bones without scorching the skin. It melts the sword in the scabbard, or money in the pocket, while the scabbard or pocket remains as it was. In general, it passes innocently through those things that make little or no resistence; but tear those in pieces with impetuous force which resist its passage.

    One very particular effect of lightning, is what the vulgar call fairy circles. These are of two kinds. One kind is a round, bare path, about a foot broad, with green grass in the middle, and is frequently seven or eight yards in diameter. The other is a circle of the same breadth, is very green grass, much fresher than that in the middle. These are generally observed after storms of thunder and lightning. And it is no wonder, that lightning, like other fires, move circularly, and burns more at the extremity than in the middle. The second kind of circles, without a doubt, spring originally from the first: the grass, which was burnt by the lightning, growing afterward more fresh and green.

    But of what kind was that meteor which appeared March 21, 1676? Two hours after sunset, it came over the Adriatic sea,


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    from E. N. E. to W. S. W. and crossed over all Italy, being nearly vertical at Rimini on the one side, and Leghorn on the other. It was at least thirty-eight miles high. In all places near its course, it made a hissing noise like a sky rocket. Having passed Leghorn, it gave a sound like that of a large cannon, and quickly after like a cart, running over stones. It was computed to move one hundred and sixty miles in a minute, which is about ten times as swift as the diurnal motion of the earth. Its smallest diameter was judged to be above half a mile. No wonder, then, that so large a body, moving with such incredible swiftness through the air, though so much rarified, should cause that hissing noise. It is much harder to conceive, how such an impetus could be impressed upon it: how this impetus should be determined, in a direction so nearly parallel to the horizon! And what sort of substance it must be, that could be so impelled and ignited at the same time! Whatever it was, it sunk, and was extinguished in the Tyrrhene sea, to the W. S. W. of Leghorn. The great noise was heard, on its immersion into the water, and the rattling around upon its quenching.

    On Thursday, March 19, 1718, there appeared at London, about eight at night, a sudden great light, moving after the manner, but more slowly than a falling star, in a direct line, a little beyond and with all below Orion's Belt, then in the south west. In its way, it turned tapering upward, and at last spherical, near as big as the full moon. It was whitish, with an eye of blue, as bright as the sun in a clear day. It seemed in half a minute to move twenty degrees, and to go out as much above the horizon. There remained after it, for more than a minute, a track of reddish colour, such as that of red hot iron; and sparks seemed to issue from it, such as come from red hot iron, beaten upon an anvil.

    Within doors the candels gave no light; and without, not only stars disappeared, but the moon, nine days old, though the sky was clear, and she was then near the meridian: so that for some seconds, we had perfect day. Its height was seventy-three miles and a half. Hence it might be seen in all places, which were not distant from it more than two hundred and twenty leagues. Accordingly, it was seen, at the same instant over Spain, France, Great Britian, Ireland, Holland, and the hither parts of Germany.

    Another appearance, which resembles lightning, in the aurora borealis, commonly called northern lights. This is usually of a reddish colour, inclining to yellow, and sends out coruscations of bright light, which seem to rise from the horizon in a pyramidical form, and shoot with great velocity into the zenith.


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    It appears frequently in the form of an arch, rises far above the region of the clouds, yet never approaches near the equator, but always nearer the poles.

    Vapours of the same kind, that give rise to lightnings in the air, occasion damps in the earth. The damps usual in mines are of four sorts. The approach of the first and most common is known by the flame of the candle lessening till it goes out: as also by the men's difficulty of breathing. Those who escape swooning are not much hurt by this: but those who swoon away, are commonly on their recovery seized with strong convulsions. The second is the peasbloom damp, so called because of its smell. This comes only in summer, and is common in the Peak of Derbyshire. They who have seen the third sort of damp, describe it thus: in the highest part of the roof of those passages in a mine, which branch out from the main grove, a round thing hangs about as big as a football, covered with a thin skin. If this be broken, the damp immediately spreads, and suffocates all that are near. But sometimes they contrive to break it at a distance; after which they purify the place with fire. The fourth is the fire damp: a vapour, which if touched by the flame of a candle, takes fire, and goes off like gunpowder. And yet some who have had all their clothes burnt off by one of these, and their flesh torn off their bones, at the very time felt no heat at all, but as it were a cool air.

    Sir James Lowther, having collected some of the air in a bladder, brought it up to London. Being let out of the orifice through a tobacco-pipe, it would take fire at the flame of a candle. And even this is emitable by art. Most metals emit sulphureous vapours, while they are dissolving in their several menstruums. Iron, for instance, while it dissolves in oil of vitrol, emits much sulphureous vapour. If this be received into a bladder, and afterwards let out in a small stream, it takes fire just in the same manner as the natural vapour.

    This experiment explains one cause of earthquakes and volcanos; since, it appears hence, that nothing more is necessary to form them, than iron mixed with vitriolic acid and water. Now iron is generally found accompanied with sulphur: and sulphur consists of an inflammable oil, and an acid like oil of vitriol.

    This acid in the bowels of the earth, being diluted with a little water, becomes a menstruum to iron, with a violent effervescence and an intense heat. The air coming from this mixture is extremely rarefied, and the more of it is compressed by the incumbent earth, so much the more its impeteus will be increased to an unlimited degree. Nor does there need fire to set these vapours to work. The air in the bladder, if it be much heated,


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    will of itself take fire, as soon as it is brought into contact with the external air.

    Other damps are sometimes as mortal as those in mines. In the year 1701, a mason being at work in the city of Rennes, near the brink of a well, let his hammer fall into it. A labourer who was sent down for it, was suffocated before he reached the water, A second sent to draw him up, met the same fate. So did a third. At last a fourth, half drunk, was let down with a charge to call out immediately, if he felt any inconvenience. He did call, as soon as he came near the water, and was drawn up instantly. Yet he died in three days, crying out, he felt a heat, which scorched his entrails. Yet the three carcases being drawn up with hooks, and opened, there appeared no cause of their death.

    The same historians relate, that a baker of Chartres, having carried seven or eight bushels of brands out of his oven, into a celler thirty-six stairs deep, his son, a strong young fellow, going with more, his candle went out on the middle of the stairs. Having lighted it afresh, he no sooner got into the cellar, than he cried for help, and they heard no more of him. His brother, an able youth, ran down, cried, "I am dead," and was heard no more. He was followed by his wife, and she by a maid, and still it was the same. Yet a hardy fellow resolved to go and help them: he cried too, and was seen to more. A sixth man desired a hook to draw some of them out. He drew up the maid, who fetched a sigh and died. Next day one undertook to draw up the rest, and was let down on a wooden horse with ropes, to be drawn up whenever he should call. He soon called, but the rope breaking, he fell back again, and was awhile after drawn up dead. Upon opening him, the membranes of the brain were extremely stretched, his lungs spotted with blood, his intestines swelled as big as one's arm, and red as blood, and all the muscles of his arms, thighs and legs, torn and separated from their bones.

    Whence this strange difference should arise, that the vapours of some mines catch fire with a spark, and others only with a flame, is a question that we must content to leave in on=bscurity, till we know more of the nature both of mineral vapour and fire. This only we may observe, that gunpowder will fire with a spark, but not with the flame of a candle: on the other hand, spirits of wine will flame like a candle but not with a spark. But even here the cause of this difference remains a secret,

    A like instance of the fatal nature of foul air, happened at Boston, in New England. Mr. Adams and his servant being employed to repair a pump, uncovered the well, and Mr. Adams


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    went down by a rope; but he had not gone six feet before he dropt suddenly without speaking a word, to the upper part of the joint of the pump, where being supported about a minute, and breathing very short, he then fell to the bottom, without any sign of life. His servant hastily went down to help his master; but at the same distance from the top, was struck, and without discovering any signs of distress, fell to the bottom. The workmen prepared a third, with a tackle about the waist. On his descent, he was quickly speechless and senseless. Though he made no sign, they drew him up. He was the very picture of death, but by the use of proper means recovered. He remembered nothing of what had passed. The other bodies when taken up, had all the marks of a violent death.

    An account of the Phenomenon of Ignis Fatuus, vulgarly called,
    will-with-the-wisp, or the Jack-o-lantern.

    (Methodist Magazine -- England)

    Ignis Fatuus, vulgarly called will-with-the-wisp, is chiefly seen in dark nights, irregularly moving over meadows, marshes, and other moist places. It seems to be a viscous exhalation, which being kindled in the air, reflects a kind of thin flame in the dark, though without any sensible heat. It is often found to sly along rivers or hedges, probably because it there meets with a stream of air to direct it. In Italy there are luminous appearances, nearly resembling these, which on a close inspection, have been found to be no other than swarms of shining flies.

    In all the territories of Bologna, these fiery appearances are common. There are some places where one may be almost sure of them every dark night, as near the Bridge Della Salearata, and in the fields of Bagnara; these are large: sometimes equal to the light of a faggot, rarely less than that of a link. -- That at Bagnara not long since kept a gentleman company for a mile, moving just before him, and casting a stronger light on the road than the link he had with him.

    All of them resemble a flame, and are continually in motion, but the motion is various and uncertain. In winter, when the ground is covered with snow, they are most frequent of all. Nor does rain hinder them: nay, in wet weather they give the strongest light; wind also does not disturb them. As they are not hindered by wet, and set nothing on fire, though ever so combustible, may it not reasonably be supposed, that they have


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    some resemblance to that kind of phosphorus, which shines indeed in the dark, yet does not burn like common fire?

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    with a glowing fire without flame. The neighbours coming in at her cries, found the trunk of the body in a manner burnt to ashes. It then appeared like a heap of charcoal, covered with white ashes, the head, arms, legs, and thighs were also nuch burnt. A child's clothes, on one side of her, and a paper skreen on the other, were untouched. The deal floor also on which her legs lay, was neither singed or discoloured.


    Proofs that the Indians of North America were lineally descended
    from the ancient Hebrews.

    Extracted from the Rev. E. Smith's View of the Hebrews, with some additional remarks.

    In the following remarks proofs are adduced which are thought sufficiently to identify the Aborigines of our country as the descendants of the ancient ten tribes of Israel who were carried into captivity 2500 years ago. This branch of the Hebrew family have long been "outcasts" out of sight; or unknown as Hebrews. The questions arise, are they in existence, as a distinct people? If so, who, or where are they? These are queries of great moment, at this period, when the time of their restoration is drawing near.

    1. It has been clearly ascertained in the preceding chapter, that the ten tribes, as the Israel of God, are in the last days to be recovered, and restored with the Jews. The valley of dry bones, and the two sticks becoming one in the prophet's hand, have been seen clearly to ascertain this: See Ezek. xxxix. as well as the many other passages noted in that chapter. But as this fact is essential to our enquiring after the ten tribes with confidence of their existence; I shall here note several additional predictions of the event, found in the prophets; and not[e] some passages, which distinguish between the dispersed state of the Jews, and the outcast state of the ten tribes; which distinction will afford some light in our inquiries.

    When the restoration of the Hebrews is predicted, in Isaiah xi. that God will in the last days set up an ensign for the nations; it is to "assemble the outcasts of Israel; and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Mark the distinction; the Jews are "dispersed;" scattered over the nations as Jews, as they have long been known to be; but Israel are "outcast;" cast out from the nations; from society; from the social world; from the knowledge of men, as being Hebrews.


                        Nature and Providence.                   373

    This distinction is repeatedly found in the prophets. The dispersed state of the Jews, as Jews, is a most notable idea in the prophetic scriptures. But of Israel, the following language is used; as Isaiah. lvi. 8; "The Lord God who gathereth the outcasts of Israel, saith." &c. Accordingly, when Israel are recovered, and united with the Jews at last, the Jews express their astonishment, and inquire where they had been! They had utterly lost them, as is the fact. See Isaiah. xlix. 18--22. The Jews here, while "removing to and fro" through the nations, in their dispersed state, had been "left alone," i.e. of the ten tribes. The latter being now restored to the bosom of the mother church, the Jews inquire, "Who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?" Here we learn that the ten tribes had, during the long dispersion of the Jews, been utterly out of their sight and knowledge, as their brethren. -- This implies the long out cast state of the ten tribes.

    Several additional passages will be noted, to show that both the branches of that ancient people are to be restored. In Isaiah xi. after the promise that the dispersed Jews, and outcast Israel shall be restored; the prophet adds, verse 13; "The envy also of Ephraim shall depart; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." Here the mutual jealousies between the two branches of the house of Israel, which before the expulsion of the ten tribes kept them in almost perpetual war, shall never again be revived; which passage assures us of the restoration of Israel as Israel.

    In Jer. iii. those two branches are distinguished by "backsliding Israel, and her treacherous sister Judah." Israel was already put away for her spiritual adulteries, (having then been rejected for nearly one hundred years.) But the same backsliding Israel is there again recovered in the last days. God calls after them; "Return, thou backsliding Israel; for I am married unto you, saith the Lord. And I will take you, one of a city and two of a family; and will bring you to Zion." "In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel; and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given to your fathers." This has never yet had even a partial accomplishment. Its event is manifestly future.

    The entail of the covenant must as surely recover the ten tribes, as the Jews. Paul shows in Romans xi. the consistency of the rejection of the Jews, with the entail of the covenant with Abraham. And he makes their final restoration in the last days essential to this consistency. But this inspired argument as forcibly attaches itself to the ten tribes, to ensure their recovery, as to the Jews. He accordingly there says, "and so all Israel shall be saved;" or both branches of the Hebrews shall


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    be recovered. This same point is most positively decided in Jeremiah, 30th and 31st chapters, as has appeared in the preceding chapter.

    2. It inevitably follows, that the ten tribes of Israel must now have, somewhere on earth, a distinct existence in an outcast state. And we justly infer, that God would in his holy providence provide some suitable place for their safe keeping, as his outcast tribes, though long unknown to men as such. There is no avoiding this conclusion. If God will restore them at last as his Israel, and as having been "outcast" from the nations of the civilized world for 2500 years; he surely must have provided a place for their safe keeping, as a distinct people, in some part of the world, during that long period. They must, during that period, having been unknown to the Jews as Israelites; and consequently unknown to the world as such; or the Jews would not at last (on their being united to them) inquire, "These, where had they been?" Isaiah. xlix. 21.

    3. We have an account of the ten tribes, after their captivity, which accords with the ideas just stated. We receive not the books of the apocrypha as given by Inspiration; but much credit has been given to historical facts recorded in it; as in the wars of the Maccabees, and other places. In 2 Esdras xiii. 40, and on, we read; "Those are the ten tribes which were carried away prisoners out of their own land, in this time of Osea, the king, whom Salmanezer, the king of Assyria, led away captive; and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land." Here is the planting of them over the Euphrates, in Media. The writer adds; "But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never man dwelt; that they might there keep their statutes which they never kept (i.e. uniformly as they ought,) in their own land. There was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half." The writer proceeds to speak of the name of the region being called Asareth, or Ararat. He must allude here to the region to which they directed their course to go this year and a half's journey. This place where no man dwelt, must of course have been unknown by any name. But Ararat, or Armeni[a], lay north of the place where the ten tribes were planted when carried from Palestine. Their journey, then, was to the north, or northeast. -- This writer says, "They entered into the Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river." He must mean, they repassed this river in its upper regions, or small streams, away toward Georgia; and hence must have taken their course between the Black and Caspian seas. This set them off northeast of the Ararat, which he mentions. Though this chapter in Esdras be a kind


                        Nature and Providence.                   375

    of prophecy, in which we place no confidence; yet the allusion to facts learned by the author, no doubt may be correct. And this seems just such an event as might be expected, had God indeed determined to separate them from the rest of the idolatrous world, and banish them by themselves, into a land where no man dwelt since the flood.

    4. Let several suppositions now be made. Suppose an extensive continent had lately been discovered, away north-east from Media, and at the distance of "a year and a half's journey;" a place probably destitute of inhabitants, since the flood, till the time of the "casting out" of Israel. Suppose a people to have been lately discovered in that sequestered region, appearing as we should rationally expect the nation of Israel to appear at this period, had the account given by the writer in Esdras been a fact. Suppose them to be found in tribes, with heads of tribes; but destitute of letters, and in a savage state. Suppose among different tribes the following traditionary fragments are by credible witnesses picked up; some particulars among one region of them, and some among another; while all appear evidently to be of the same family. Suppose them to have escaped the polytheism of the pagan world; and to acknowledge one, and only one God; the Great Spirit, who created all things seen and unseen. Suppose the name retained by many of them for this Great Spirit, to be Ale, the old Hebrew name of God; and Yohewah, whereas the Hebrew name for Lord was Jehovah; also they call the Great First Cause, Yah; the Hebrew name being Jah. Suppose you find most of them professing great reverence for this great Yohewah; calling him "the great beneficent supreme holy spirit," and the only object of worship. -- Suppose the most intelligent of them to be elated with the idea that this God has ever been the head of their community; that their fathers were once in covenant with him; and the rest of the world were "the accursed people," as out of covenant with God. Suppose you find them, on certain occasions, singing in religious dance, "Hallelujah," or praise to Jah; also singing Yohewah, Shilu Yohewah, and making use of many names and phrases evidently Hebrew. You find them counting their time as did ancient Israel, and in a manner different from all other nations, They keep a variety of religious feasts, which much resemble those kept in ancient Israel. You find an evening feast among them, in which a bone of the animal must not be broken; if the provision be more than one family can eat, a neighbor must be called in to help eat it, and if any of it be still left, it must be burned before the next rising sun. You find them eating bitter vegetables, to cleanse themselves from sin. You find they never eat the hollow of the thigh of any animal.


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    They inform that their fathers practised circumcision. Some of them have been in the habit of keeping a Jubilee. They have their places answering to the cities of refuge, in ancient Israel. In these no blood is ever shed by any avenger. You find them with their temples, (such as they be,) their holy of holies in their temple, into which it is utterly prohibited for a common person to enter. They have their high priests, who officiate in their temples, and make their yearly atonement there in a singular pontifical dress, which they fancy to be in the likeness of one worn by their predecessors in ancient times; with their breast-plate, and various holy ornaments. The high priest, when addressing to his people what they call "the old divine speech," calls them "the beloved and holy people," and urges them to imitate their virtuous ancestors; and tells them of their "beloved land flowing with milk and honey." They tell you that Yohewah once chose their nation from all the rest of mankind, to be his peculiar people. That a book which God gave, was once theirs; and then things went well with them. But other people got it from them, and then they fell under the displeasure of the Great Spirit; but that they shall at some time regain it. They inform you, some of their fathers once had a spirit to foretel future events, and to work miracles. Suppose they have their imitation of the ark of the covenant, where were deposited their most sacred things; into which it is the greatest crime for any common people to look. All their males must appear at the temple at three noted feasts in a year. They inform you of the ancient flood; of the preservation of one family in a vessel; of this man in the ark sending out first a great bird, and then a little one, to see if the waters were gone. That the great one returned no more; but the little one returned with a branch. They tell you of the confusion of languages once when people were building a great high place; and of the longevity of the ancients; that they "lived till their feet were worn out with walking, and their throats with eating."  

    You find them with their traditional history that their ancient fathers once lived where people were dreadfully wicked, and that nine tenths of their fathers took counsel and left that wicked place, being led by the Great Spirit into this country; that they came through a region where it was always winter, snow and frozen. That they came to a great water, and their way hither was thus obstructed, till God dried up that water; (probably it froze between the islands in Beering's Straits.) You find them keeping an annual feast, at the time their ears of corn become fit for use; and none of their corn is eaten, till a part of it is brought to this feast, and certain religious ceremonies performed. You find them keeping an annual feast, in which


                        Nature and Providence.                   377

    twelve men must cut twelve saplin poles, to make a booth. -- Here (on an altar made of twelve stones, on which no tool may pass) they must sacrifice. You find them with the custom of washing and anointing their dead. And when in deep affliction, laying their hand on their mouth, and their mouth in the dust.

    Suppose you should find things like those among such a people, without books or letters, but wholly in a savage state, in a region of the world lately discovered, away in the direction stated by the aforenoted writer in the apocrypha; and having been ever secluded from the knowledge of the civilized world; would you hesitate to say you had found the ten tribes of Israel? and that God sent them to that sequestered region of the earth, to keep them there a distinct people, during an "outcast" state of at least 2500 years? Would you not say, we have just such kind of evidence, as must at last bring that people to light among the nations? And would you not say, here is much more evidence of this kind, of their being the people of Israel, than could rationally have been expected, after the lapse of 2500 years in a savage state? Methinks I hear every person whisper his full assent, that upon the suppositions made, we have found the most essential pile of the prophet Ezekiel's valley of dry bones!

    5. These things are more than mere supposition. It is believed they are capable of being ascertained as facts, with substantial evidence. Good authorities from men, who have been eye and ear witnesses, assure us that these things are facts. But you enquire, where or who are the people thus described? They are the aborigines of our continent! Their place, their language, their traditions, amount to all that has been hinted. These evidences are not all found among any one tribe of Indians. Nor may all the Indians in any tribe, where various of these evidences are found, be able to exhibit them. It is enough, if what they call their beloved aged men, in one tribe, have clearly exhibited some of them; and others exhibited others of them; and if among their various tribes, the whole have been, by various of their beloved or wise men, exhibited. This, it is stated, has been the fact. Men have been gradually perceiving this evidence for more than a half a century; and a new light has been, from time to time, shed on the subject, as will appear.

    The North American Reviewers, in reviewing a sermon of Doct. Jarvis, on this subject, delivered before the New-York Historical Society, (in which he attempts to induce much evidence to show that the natives of this continent are the tribes of Israel,) remark thus; "The history and character of the Indian tribes of North America, which have for some time been a subject


    378                     The Wonders of                   

    of no inconsiderable curiosity and interest with the learned in Europe, have not till lately attracted much notice among ourselves. But as the Indian nations are now fast vanishing, and the individuals of them come less frequently under our observation; we also, as well as our European brethren, are beginning to take a more lively interest than ever, in the study of their character and history."

    In the course of their remarks they add; "To the testimonies here adduced by Doctor Jarvis, (i.e. that the Indians are the ten tribes of Israel,) might have been added several of our New England historians, from the first settlement of the country." Some they proceed to mention; and then add, that the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Sewall, fellow of Harvard College, and Samuel Willard, vice president of the same, were of opinion, that "the Indians are the descendants of Israel." Doct. Jarvis notes this as an hypothesis, which has been a favorite topic with European writers; and as a subject, to which it is hoped the Americans may be said to be waking up at last.

    Manasses Ben Israel, in a work entitled "The Hope of Israel," has written to show that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel. But as we have access to his authors, we may consult them for ourselves. The main pillar of his evidence is James Adair, Esq. Mr. Adair was a man of established character, as appears from good authority. He lived a trader among the Indians, in the south of North America, for forty years. -- He left them and returned to England in 1774, and there published his "History of the American Indians;" and his reasons for being persuaded that they are the ten tribes of Israel. Remarking on their descent and origin, he concludes thus; "From the most accurate observations I could make, in the long time I traded among the Indian Americans, I was forced to believe them lineally descended from the Israelites. Had the nine tribes and a half of Israel, that was carried off by Shalmanezer, and settled in Media, continued there long, it is very probable by intermarrying with the natives, and from their natural fickleness and proneness to idolatry, and also from the force of example, that they would have adopted and bowed before the gods of Media and Assyria; and would have carried them along with them. But there is not a trace of this idolatry among the Indians." Mr. Adair gives his opinion, that the ten tribes, soon after their banishment from the land of Israel, left Media, and reached this continent from the north-west, probably before the carrying away of the Jews of Babylon.

    A summary will be given of the arguments of Mr, Adair, and of a number of other writers on this subject. As the evidence given by Mr. Adair appears in some respects the most momentous


                        Nature and Providence.                   379

    and conclusive, I shall adduce a testimonial in his behalf. In the "Star in the West," published by the Hon. Elias Bondinot,LL. D. upon this subject, that venerable man says; "The writer of these sheets has made a free use of Mr. Adair's history of the Indians; which renders it necessary that something further should be said of him. Sometime about the year 1774, Mr. Adair came to Elizabethtown, (where the writer lived.) with his manuscript, and applied to Mr. Livingston, (afterward governor of New-Jersey -- a correct scholar,) requesting him to correct his manuscript. He brought ample recommendations, and gave a good account of himself. Our political troubles with Great Britain then increasing, (it being the year before the Commencement of the revolutionary war.) Mr. Adair, who was on his way to Great Britain, was advised not to risk being detained from his voyage, till the work could be critically examined; but to set off as soon as possible. He accordingly took passage in the first vessel bound to England. As soon as the war was over,(Mr. Bondinot adds of himself.) the writer sent to London to obtain a copy of this work. After reading it with care, he strictly examined a gentleman, then a member with him in congress, and of excellent character, who had acted as our agent among the Indians to the southward, during the war, relative to the points of fact stated by Mr. Adair, without letting him know the design, and from him found all the leading facts mentioned in Mr. Adair's history, fully confirmed from his own personal knowledge."

    Here are the evidences of two great and good men most artlessly uniting in the leading facts stated by Mr. Adair. The character of Mr. Boudinot (who was for some time President of the American Bible Society,) is well known. He was satisfied with the truth of Mr. Adair's history, and that the natives of our land are Hebrews, the ten tribes. And he hence published his "Star in the West" on this subject; which is most worthy of the perusal of all men.

    From various authors and travellers among the Indians, the fact that the American Indians are the ten tribes of Israel, will be attempted to be proved by the following arguments:

    1. The American natives have one origin.
    2. Their language appears to have been Hebrew.
    3. They have their imitation of the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel.
    4. They have been in practice of circumcision.
    5. They have acknowledged one and only one God.
    6. Their variety of traditions, historical and religious, go to evince that they are the ten tribes of Israel.


    380                     The Wonders of                   

    7. The celebrated William Penn gives account of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point.
    8. Their having a tribe, answering in various respects, to the tribe of Levi, sheds further light on this subject.
    9. Several prophetic traits of character given to the Hebrews, do accurately apply to the Aborigines of America.
    10. The Indians being in tribes, with the heads and names of tribes, affords further light upon this subject.
    11. Their having an imtimation of the ancient city of refuge, evinces the truth of our subject: and
    12. Other Indian rites, and various other considerations, go to evince the fact, that this people are the ten tribes of Israel.

    l. The American natives have one origin. Their language has a variety of dialects; but all are believed by some good judges to be the same radical language. Various noted authors agree in this. Charlevois, in his history of Canada, says; "the Algonquin and the Huron languages, (which he says are as really the same, as the French and old Norman are the same,) have between them the language of all the savage nations we are acquainted with. Whoever should well understand both of these, might travel without an interpreter more than fifteen hundred leagues of country, and make himself understood by an hundred different nations, who have each their peculiar tongue;" meaning dialect. The Algonquin was the dialect of the Wolf tribe, or the Mohegan; and most of the native tribes of New England and of Virginia.

    Doctor Jonathan Edwards, son of president Edwards, lived in his youth among the Indians; as his father was a missionary among them, before he was called to Princeton College; and he became as familiar with the Mohegan dialect, as with his mother tongue. He had also a good knowledge of the Mohawk dialect. He pronounced the Mohegan the most extensive of all the Indian dialects of North America. He names not less than sixteen trives, besides the original tribes of New England, as agreeing with the Mohegan. Herein the doctor agrees with the testimony of Charlevoix just noted. Here we find a cogent argument in favour of the Indians of north America, at least as being of one origin. And arguments will be furnished that the Indians of south America are probably of the same origin.

    Doctor Boudinot (who for more than forty years was of opinion that the Indians are the ten tribes, and who sought and obtained much evidence on this subject,) assures us, that the syllables which compose the word Yohewah, (Jehovah) and Yah, (Jah) are the roots of a great number of Indian words, through different tribes. They make great use of these words, and of


                        Nature and Providence.                   381

    the syllables which compose the names of God; also which form the word Hallelujah, through their nations for thousands of miles; especially in their religious songs and dances. With beating and an exact keeping of time, they begin a religious dance thus; Hal, hal, hal; then le, le, le; next lu, lu, lu; and then close yah, yah, yah. This is their traditional song of praise to the Great Spirit. This, it is asserted, is sung in South, as well as North America. And this author says; "Two Indians, who belong to far distant nations, may without the knowledge of each other's language, except from the general idiom of all their tribes, converse with each other, and make contracts without an interpreter." This shews them to have been of one origin.

    Du Pratz says in his history of Louisiania, "The nations of North America derived their origin from the same country, since at bottom they all have the same manners and usages, and the same manner of speaking and thinking." It is ascertained that no objection arises against this, from the different shades of complexion found among different tribes of Indians. "The colour of the Indians generally, (says Doct. Boudinot, is red, brown, or copper, according to the climate, and the high or low ground." Mr. Adair expresses the same opinion; and the Indians have their tradition, that in the nation from which they originally came, all were one colour. According to all accounts given of the Indians, there are certain things which all agree. This appears in the journals of Mr. Giddings, of his exploring tour. The most distant and barbarious Indians agree in a variety of things with all other tribes. They have their Great Spirit; their high priests; their sacrificing, when going to or returning from war; their religious dance; and their sacred little enclosure, containing their most sacred things, though it be but a sack, instead of an ark. Messrs. Lack and Escarbotus both assert that they have often heard the Indians of South America sing "Hallelujah." For thousands of miles the North American Indians have been abundant in this.

    Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont says; "In whatever manner this part of the earth was peopled, the Indians appear to have been the most ancient, or the original men of America. They had spread over the whole continent, from the fiftieth degree of north latitude, to the southern extremity of Cape Horn. And these men every where appeared to be the same race or kind of people. In every part of the continent, the Indians marked with a similarity of colour, features, and every circumstance of external appearance. Pedro de Cicca de Leon, one of the conquerors of Peru, and who had travelled through many provinces of America, says of the Indians: --


    382                     The Wonders of                   

    "The people, men and women, although there are such a multitude of tribes or nations, in such diversities of climates, appear nevertheless like the children of one father and mother."

    Ulloa (quoted by Doct. Williams,) had a great acquaintance with the Indians of South America, and some parts of North America. Speaking of the Indians of Cape Breton in the latter, he declared them to be "the same people with the Indians in Peru. "If we have seen one American, (said he) we may be said to have seen them all." These remarks do not apply to all the people in the northern extremities of America. The Esquimaux natives appear to be a different race of men. This race are found in Labrador, in Greenland, and round Hudson's Bay. All these appear evidently the same with the Laplanders, Zemblams, Samoyeds and Tartars in the east. They probably migrated to the western hemisphere at periods subsequent to the migration of the Indians. They, or some of them, might have come from the north of Europe; from Norway to Iceland, then to Greenland, and thence to the coasts of Labrador, and farther west. But the consideration of those different people, does not affect our subject.

    2. Their language appears clearly to be Hebrew. In this, Doctor Edwards, Mr. Adair, and others were agreed. -- Doctor Edwards, after having a good acquaintance with their language, gave his reasons for believing it to have been originally Hebrew. Both, he remarks, are found without prepositions, and are formed with prefixes and suffixes; a thing probably known to no other language. And he shows, that not only the words, but the construction of phrases, in both, have been the same. Their pronouns, as well as their nouns, doctor Edwards remarks, are manifestly from the Hebrew. Mr. Adair is confident of the fact, that their language is Hebrew. And their laconic, bold and commanding figures of speech, he notes as exactly agreeing with the genius of the Hebrew language. He says, that after living forty years among them, he obtained such knowledge of the Hebrew idiom of their language, that he viewed the event of their having for more than two millenaries, and without the aid of literature, preserved their Hebrew language so pure, to be but little short of a miracle.

    Relative to the Hebraism of their figures, Mr. Adair gives the following instance, from an address of a captain to his warriors, going to battle. "I know that your guns are burning in your hands; your tomahawks are thirsting to drink the blood of your enemies; your trusty arrows are impatient to be upon the wing; and lest delay should burn your hearts any longer, I give you the cool refreshing word; join the holy ark; and away to cut off the devoted army!"


                        Nature and Providence.                   383

    A table of words and phrases is furnished by Doct. Boudinot, from Edwards, Adair, and others, to show how clearly the Indian language is from the Hebrew. Some of these Indian words are taken from one tribe, and some from another. In a long savage state, destitute of all aid from letters, a language must roll and change. It is strange that after a lapse of 2500 years, a single word should, among such a people, be preserved the same. But the hand of Providence is strikingly seen in this, to bring that people to light.

    The following may afford a specimen of the evidence on this part of the subject.

    His Wife
    This man
    Roof of a house
    To pray
    Hind part
    To blow
    Rushing wind
    Ararat, or high mount
    Ish, Ishte
    Ale, Aleim
    Eweh, Eve

    Very hot
    Praise to the First Cause
    Give me food
    Go thy way
    Good be to you
    My necklace
    I am sick
    Heru hara or hala
    Natoni boman
    Bayou boorkaa
    Halea tibou
    Yene kali
    Nane guaete
    Hara hara
    Natoui bamen
    Boua bouak
    Ye hali ettouboa
    Nance heti


    384                     The Wonders of                   

    Who can doubt but the above Indian words and phrases were from their corresponding Hebrew? To be otherwise, their adoption by savages must be miraculous. And if they be from the Hebrew, surely these Indians must be the very ten tribes of Israel.

    Governor Hutchinson observed, that "many people (at the time of the first settlement of New England,) pleased themselves with the conjecture that the Indians in America are the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel." Something was discovered so early, which excited this pleasing sentiment. This has been noted as having been the sentiment of Rev. Samuel Sewall, of vice president Willard, and others. Governor Hutchinson expresses his doubt upon the subject, on account of the dissimilarity of the language of the natives of Massachusetts, to the Hebrew. Any language in a savage state, must, in the course of 2500 years, have rolled and varied exceedingly. This is shown to be the case in the different dialects, and many new words introduced among those tribes, which are acknowledged to have their language radically the same.

    The following facts are enough to answer every objection on this ground. The Indians had no written language. Hence the English scholar could not see the spelling or the root of any Indian word. And the guttural pronunciation of the natives was such as to make even the Hebrew word, that still might be retained, appear a different word; especially to those who were looking for no Hebrew language among them. And the following noted idiom of the Indian Language was calculated to hide the fact in perfect obscurity, even had it been originally Hebrew, viz; the Indian language consists of a multitude of monosyllables added together. Every property or circumstance of a must be noted by a new monosyllable added to its name. Hence it was that the simple word our loves, must be expressed by the following long Indian word, Noowomantammoonkanunonnash. Mr. Colden, in his history of the five nations, observes, "They have a few radical words. But they compound their words without end. The words expressive of things lately come to their knowledge (he says) are all compounds. And sometimes one word among them includes an entire definition of the thing." * These things, considered of a language among savages, 2500 years after their expulsion from Canaan, must answer every objection arising from the fact, that the Indian language appears very different from the Hebrew. And they must render it little less than miraculous (as Mr. Adair says it is) that after a lapse of so long

    * See the Connecticut Magazine, Vol. III. p. 367.


                        Nature and Providence.                   385

    a period among savages, without a book or letters, a word or phrase properly Hebrew should still be found among them. Yet such words and phrases are found. And many more may yet be found in the compounds of Indian words. I have just now observed, in dropping my eye on a Connecticut Magazine for 1803, a writer on the Indians in Massachusetts, in its earliest days, informs, that the name of a being they worshipped was Abamocko. Here, without any perception of the fact, he furnishes a Hebrew word in compound. Abba-mocko; father-mocho. As a tribe of Indians in the south call God, Abba-min-go ishto; Father chief man. In the latter, we have two Hebrew words; Abba, father, and Ish, man. Could we make proper allowance for Pagan pronunciation, and find how the syllables in their words ought to be spelled, we might probably find many more of the Hebrew root in their language.

    3. The Indians have had their imitation of the ark of the covenant in ancient Israel. Different travellers, and from different regions unite in this. Mr. Adair is full in his account of it. It is a small square box, made convenient to carry on the back. They never set it on the ground, but on logs in low ground where stones are not to be had; and on stones where they are to be found. This author gives the following account of it. "It is worthy of notice, (he says) that they never place the ark on the ground, nor sit it on the bare earth when they are carrying it against an enemy. On hilly ground, where stones are plenty, they place it on them. But in level land, upon short logs, always resting themselves (i.e. the carriers of the ark) on the same materials. They have also as strong a faith of the power and holiness of their ark, as ever the Israelites retained of theirs. The Indian ark is deemed so sacred and dangerous to touch, either by their own sanctified warriors, or the spoiling enemy, that neither of them dare meddle with it on any account. It is not to be handled by any except the chieftian and his waiter, under penalty of incurring great evil; nor would the most inveterate enemy dare to touch it. The leader virtually acts the part of a priest of war, pro tempore, in imitation of the Israelites fighting under the divine military banner."

    Doct. Boudinot says of this ark, "It may be called the ark of covenant imitated." In time of peace it is the charge of their high priests. In their wars they make great account of it. The leader,(acting as high priest on that occasion,) and his darling waiter, carry it in turns. They deposit in the ark some of their most consecrated articles. The two carriers of this sacred symbol, before setting off with it for the war, purify themselves longer than do the rest of the warriors. The waiter bears their ark during a battle. It is strictly forbidden for any one,


    386                     The Wonders of                   

    but the proper officer, to look into it. An enemy, if they capture it, treat it with the same reverence.

    Doctor Boudinot says, that a gentleman, who was at Ohio, in 1756, informed him that while he was there, he saw among the Indians a stranger who appeared very desirous to look into the ark of that tribe. The ark was then standing on a block of wood, covered with a dressed deer skin. A sentinel was guarding it, armed with a bow and arrow. The sentinel finding the intruder pressing on, to look into the ark, drew his arrow at his head, and would have dropped him on the spot; but the stranger perceiving his danger, fled. Who can doubt the origin of this Indian custom? And who can resist the evidence it furnishes, that here are the tribes of Israel? See Num. x. 35, 36, and xiv. 44.

    4. The American Indians have practised circumcision. Doct. Beaty, in his journal of a visit to the Indians in Ohio, between fifty and sixty years ago, says that "an old Indian informed him, that an old uncle of his, who died about the year 1728, related to him several customs of former times among the Indians, and among the rest, that circumcision was long ago practised among them, but that their young men made a mock of it, and it fell into disrepute and was discontinued." Mr. M'Kenzie informs that in his travels among the Indians, he was led to believe the same fact, of a tribe far to the north west; as stated in the "Star in the West." Doctor Boudinot assures that the eastern Indians inform of its having been practised among them in times past; but that latterly, not being able to give any account of so strange a rite, their young men had opposed it, and it was discontinued. Immanuel de Moraez, in his history of Brazil, says it was practised among the native Brazilians. What savage nation could ever have conceived of such a rite, had they not descended from Israel?

    5. The native Americans have acknowledged one and only one God; and they have generally views concerning the one Great Spirit, of which no account can be given, but that they derived them from ancient revelation in Israel. Other nations destitute of revelation, have had their many gods. But little short of three hundred thousand gods have existed in the bewildered imaginations of the pagan world. Every thing, almost, has been defied by the heathen. Not liking to retain God in their knowledge, and professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; and they changed the glory of the one living God, into images of beasts, birds, reptiles, and creeping things. There has been the most astonishing inclination in the world of mankind to do thus. But here is a new world of savages, chiefly, if not wholly free from such wild idolatry. Doctor Boudinot


                        Nature and Providence.                   387

    (being assured by many good witnesses,) says of the Indians who had been known in his day; "They were never known (whatever mercenary Spanish writers may have written to the contrary) to pay the least adoration to images or dead persons, to celestial luminaries, to evil spirits, or to any created beings whatever." Mr. Adair says the same, and assures that "none of the numerous tribes and nations, from Hudson's Bay to the Mississippi have ever been known to attempt the formation of any image of God." Du Pratz was very intimate with the chief of those Indians called "the Guardians of the Temple," near the Mississippi. He inquired of them the nature of their worship. The chief informed him that they worshipped the great and most perfect Spirit; and said, "He is so great and powerful, that in comparison with him all others are nothing. He made all things that we see, and all things that we cannot see." The chief went on to speak of God as having made little spirits, called free servants, who always stand before the Great Spirit ready to do his will. That "the air is filled with spirits; some good, some bad; and that the bad have a chief who is more wicked than the rest." Here it seems is their traditional notion of good and bad angels; and of Beelzebub, the chief of the latter. This chief being asked how God made man, replied, that "God kneaded some clay, made it into a little man, and finding it was well formed, he blew on his work, and the man had life and grew up!" Being asked of the creation of the woman, he said, "their ancient speech made no mention of any difference, only that the man was made first." Moses' account of the formation of the woman, it seems, had been lost.

    Mr. Adair is very full in this, that the Indians have but one God, the Great Yohewah, whom they call the great beneficent, supreme, and holy Spirit, who dwells above the clouds, and who dwells with good people, and is the only object of worship." So different are they from all the idolatrous heathen upon earth. He assures that they hold this great divine Spirit as the immediate head of their community; which opinion he conceives they must have derived from the ancient theocracy in Israel. He assures that the Indians are intoxicated with religious pride, and call all other people the accursed people; and have time out of mind been accustomed to hold them in great contempt. Their ancestors they boast to have been under the immediate governments of Yohewah, who was with them, and directed them by his prophets, while the rest of the world were outlaws, and strangers to the covenant of Yohewah. The Indians thus please themselves (Mr. Adair assures us) with the idea that God has chosen them from the rest of mankind as his peculiar people.


    388                     The Wonders of                   

    This, he says, has been the occasion of their hating other people; and of viewing themselves hated by all men. These things show that they acknowledge but one God.

    The Peruvians have been spoken of as paying adoration to the sun; and as receiving their race of Incas, as children of the sun, in their succession of twelve monarchies. The Indians have had much of an apprehension that their on Great Spirit had a great affinity to fire. And the Peruvians, it seems, went so far as to embody him in the sun. Here seems a shred of mixture of the Persian idolatry, with the theocracy of Israel. As the more ancient Israelites caught a degree of idolatrous distemper of Egypt, as appears in their golden calf; so the ten tribes of the time they resided in Media, and before they set off for America, may have blended some idea of fire with their one God. But the veneration the Peruvians had for the Incas, as children of the Most High, seems but a shred of ancient tradition from Israel, that their kings were divinely anointed; and is so far from being an argument against their being of Israel, that it operates rather in favour of the fact.

    Doctor Boudinot informs of the southern Indians of North America, that they had a name for God, which signifies, "the great, the beloved, holy cause." And one of their names of God, is Mingo Ishto Abba; --Great Chief Father. He speaks of a preacher's being among the Indians at the south, before the American revolution, and beginning to inform them that there is a God who created all things. Upon which they indignantly replied, "Go about your business, you fool, do not we know there is a God, as well as you?

    In their sacred dances, these authors assure us the Indians sing "Halleluyah Yohewah;" -- praise to Jah Jehovah. When they return victorious from their wars, they sing, Yo-he-wah; having been by tradition taught to ascribe the praise to God.

    The same authors assure us, the Indians make use of the initials of the mysterious name of God, like the tetragrammaton of the ancient Hebrews; or like four radical letters which form the name of Jehovah; as the Indians pronounce thus, Y-O-He-wah. That like the ancient Hebrews, they are cautious of mentioning these together, or at once. They sing and repeat the syllables of this name in their sacred dances thus; Yo-yo, or ho-ho-he-he-wah-wah. Mr. Adair upon the same, says; "After this they begin again; Hal-hal-le-le-lu-lu- yah-yah. And frequently the whole train strike up, hallelu-hallelu-halleluyah-halleluyah." They frequently sing the name of Shilu (Shilo, Christ) with the syllables of the name of God added; thus, "Shilu-yo-Shilu-yo-Shilu-he-Shilu-he-Shilu-wah-Shilu-wah." Thus adding to the name of Shilu, the name of


                        Nature and Providence.                   389

    Jehovah by its sacred syllables. Things like these have been found among Indians of different regions of America. Syllables and letters of the name of God have been so transposed in different ways; and so strange and guttural has been the Indian pronunciation, that it seems it took a long time to perceive that these savages were by tradition pronouncing the names of the God of Israel. Often have people been informed, and smiled at the fact, that an Indian, hurt of frightened, usually cries out wah! This is a part of his traditional religion; O Jah! or O Lord!

    Doctor Williams upon the Indians' belief of the being of God, observes; "They denominate the deity the great spirit; the Great Man above; and seem to have some general ideas of his government and providence, universal power and dominion. The immortality of the soul was every where admitted among the Indian tribes."

    The Rev. Ithamar Hebard, formerly minister of this place, related the following: That about fifty years ago a number of men were sent from New England by the government of Britain into the region of the Mississippi, to form some treaty with the Indians. That while these commissioners were there, having tarried for some time, an Indian chief came from the distance of what he calls several moons to the westward. Having heard that white men were there, he came to enquire of them where the Great Being dwelt, who made all things. And being informed, through an interpreter, of the divine omnipresence; he raised his eyes and hands to heaven with great awe and ecstacy, and looking round, and leaping, he seemed to express the greatest reverence and delight. The head man of these commissioners had been a profane man; but this incident cured him, so that he was not heard to utter another profane word on his tour. This was related to Mr. Hebard by one Elijah Wood, who was an eye witness of the scene, and who was afterward a preacher of the gospel. The son of Mr. Hebard, a settled minister, gives this relation.

    Let this fact of the Indians generally adhering to one, and only one God, be contrasted with the polytheism of the world of pagans, and heathen besides; with the idle and ridiculous notions of heathen gods and goddesses; and who can doubt of the true origin of the natives of our continent? They are fatally destitute of proper views of God and religion. But they have brought down by tradition from their remote ancestors, the notion of there being but one great and true God; which affords a most substantial argument in favour of their being the ancient Israel.


    390                     The Wonders of                   

    It is agreed that within about eighty years, a great change has been produced among the Indians. They have in this period much degenerated as to their traditional religion. Their connexions with the most degenerate part of the white people, trading among them; and their knowledge and use of ardent spirits, have produced the most deleterious effects. They have felt less zeal to maintain their own religion, such as it was; and to transmit their own traditions. Remarkable indeed it is, that they did so diligently propagate and transmit them, till so competent a number of good testimonies should be furnished to the civilized and religious world, relative to their origin. This must have been the great object of divine Providence in causing them so remarkably to transmit their traditions through such numbers of ages. And when the end is answered, the cause leading to it may be expected to cease.

    This may account for the degeneracy of some Indians far to the west, reported in the journals of Mr. Giddings, in his exploring tour. He informs, "They differ greatly in their ideas of the Great Spirit; one supposes that he dwells in a buffalo, another in a wolf, another in a bear. another in a bird, another in a rattlesnake. On great occasions, such as when they go to war, and when they return, (he adds) they sacrifice a dog, and have a dance. On these occasions they formerly sacrificed a prisoner taken in the war; but through the benevolent exertions of a trader among them, they have abandoned the practice of human sacrifice. There is always one who officiates as high priest. He practices the most rigid abstinence. He pretends to a kind of inspiration, or witchcraft; and his directions are obeyed.

    "They all believe (he adds) in future rewards and punishments; but their heaven is sensual. They differ much in their ideas of goodness. One of their chiefs told him, he did not know what constituted a good man; that their wise men in this, did not agree.

    "Their chiefs, and most of their warriors, have a war sack, which contains generally, the skin of a bird, which has a green plumage; or some other object, which they imagine to have some secret virtue."

    Here we learn that those far distant savages have (as have all other tribes) their Great Spirit, "who made every thing," though in their bewildered opinion he dwells in certain animals. On going to war, or returning, they must sacrifice; and for victory obtained, must have their religious dance. They must have their high priest, who must practice great abstinence, and pretend to inspiration; and hence must be obeyed. They have brought down their traditional notions of these things;


                        Nature and Providence.                   391

    and of future rewards and punishments. The ark of their warlike chieftains, it seems, has degenerated into a sack! but this (like the ark of the other tribes) must contain their most sacred things; "green plumage, or some other objects which they imagine to have some secret virtue." Here these Indians furnish their quota of evidence, in these more broken traditions, of their descent from Israel.

    These tribes in the west are more savage, and know less of the old Indian traditions. Mr. Giddings says, "As you ascend the Missouri and proceed to the west, the nearer to the state of nature the savages approach, and the more savage they appear." This may account for their ark's degenerating into a sack; and for their verging nearer to idolatry in their views of the Great Spirit, viewing man as embodied in certain animals.

    It is probable that while most of the natives of our land had their one Great Spirit, some of this wretched people talked of their different gods. Among the natives on Martha's Vineyard, in the beginning of Mayhew's mission among them, we find Mioxo, in his conversation with the converted native, Hiaccomes, speaking of his thirty-seven gods; and finally concluding to throw them all away, to serve the one true God. We know not what this insulated native could mean by his thirty-seven gods. But it seems evident from all quarters, that such were not the sentiments of the body of the natives of America.

    The ancient natives on Long-Island talked of their different subordinate gods. Sampson Occum, the noted Indian preacher, says; "the Indians on Long-Island imagined a great number of gods." But he says "they had ( at the same time) a notion of one great and good God, who was over all the rest." Here doubtless, was their tradition of the holy angels which they had become accustomed to call gods under the one great God. The North American Reviewers speak of the fact, that the natives of our land acknowledged one supreme God. They inquire, "If the Indians in general have not some settled opinion of a Supreme Being; how has it happened that in all the conferences or talks of the white people with them, they have constantly spoken of the Great Spirit; as they denominate the Ruler of the universe?"

    Lewis and Clark inform us of the Mandans, (a tribe far toward the Pacific) thus; "The whole religion of the Mandans consists in a belief of one Great Spirit presiding over their destinies. To propitiate whom, every attention is lavished, and every personal consideration is sacrificed." One Mandan informed that lately he had eight horses; but that he had offered them all up to the Great Spirit. His mode of doing it was this; he took them into the plains, and turned them all loose;


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    committing them to the Great Spirit, he abandoned them forever. The horses, less devout than their master, no doubt took care of themselves.

    Heckewelder (a venerable missionary among the Indians 40 years, noted in Doct. Jarvis' discourse, before the New York Historical Society, and who had a great acquaintance with the wide spread dialect of the Delaware language,) says; "Habitual devotion to the Great First Cause, and a strong feeling of gratitude for the benefits he confers, is one of the prominent traits which characterize the mind of the untutored Indian. He believes it to be his duty to adore and worship his Creator and benefactor."

    Gookin, a writer in New England in 1674, says of the natives; "generally they acknowledge one great Supreme doer of good." Roger Williams, one of the first settlers of New England, says; "He that questions whether God made the world, the Indians will teach him. I must acknowledge (he adds) I have in my concourse with them, received many confirmations of these two great points; -- 1. that God is; 2. that He is a rewarder of all that diligently seek him. If they receive any good in hunting, fishing or harvesting, they acknowledge God in it."

    Surely then, the natives of the deserts of America must have been a people who once knew the God of Israel! They maintained for more than two millenaries, the tradition of Him in many respects correct. What possible account can be given of this, but that they were descendants of Israel, and that the God of Israel has had his merciful eye upon them, with a view in his own time to bring them to light, and effect their restoration?

    6. Their variety of traditions, historical and religious, go to evince that they are the ten tribes of Israel. Being destitute of books and letters, the Indians have transmitted their traditions in the following manner. Their most sedate and promising young men are some of them selected by what they call their beloved men, or wise men, who in their turn had been thus selected. To these they deliver their traditions, which are carefully retained. These are instead of historic pages and religious books.

    Some of these Indian traditions, as furnished from good authorities, shall be given. Different writers agree that the natives have their historic traditions of the reason and manner of their fathers coming into this country, which agree with the account given in Esdras, of their leaving the land of Media, and going to a land to the north east, to the distance of a year and a half's journey. M'Kenzie gives the following account of the


                        Nature and Providence.                   393

    Chepewyan Indians, far to the south-west. He says; "They have also a tradition among them, that they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had traversed a great lake, which was in one place narrow, shallow, and full of islands, where they had suffered great misery; it being always winter, with ice, and deep snows. At the Copper Mine River, where they made the first land, the ground was covered with copper, over which a body of earth has since been collected to the depth of a man's height." Doctor Boudinot speaks of this tradition among the Indians. -- Some of them call that obstructing water a river, and some a lake. Some give account of their getting over it; others not. What a striking description is here found of the passing of the natives of this continent, over from the north-east of Asia, to the north-west of America, at Beering's Straits. These straits all agree, are less than forty miles wide, at this period; and no doubt they have been continually widening. Doctor Williams, in his history of Vermont, says they are but eighteen miles wide. Probably they were not half that width 2500 years ago. And they were full of islands, the Indian tradition assures us. Many of those islands may have been washed away; as the Indian tradition says, "the sea is eating them up;" as in Dr. Boudinot.

    Other tribes assures us that their remote fathers, on their way to this country, "came to a great river which they could not pass; when God dried up the river that they might pass over." Here is a traditionary notion among the Indians of God's anciently drying up rivers before their ancestors. Their fathers in some way got over Beering's Straits. And having a tradition of rivers being dried up before the fathers, they applied it to this event. Those straits, after Israel had been detained for a time there, might have been frozen over, in the narrows between the islands; or they might have been passed by canoes, or other craft. The natives of this land, be they who they may, did in fact arrive in this continent; and they probably must have come over those straits. And this might have been done by Israel, as well as by any other people.

    Relative to their tradition of coming where was abundance of copper; it is a fact, that at, or near Beering's Straits, there is a place called Copper Island, from the vast quantities of this metal there found. In Grieve's history we are informed that copper there covers the shore in abundance; so that ships might easily be loaded with it. The Gazetteer speaks of this, and that an attempt was made in 1770 to obtain this copper, but that the ice even in July, was so abundant, and other difficulties such, that the object was relinquished. Here, then, those natives


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    made their way to this land; and brought down the knowledge of this event in their tradition.

    Doctor Boudinot gives it as from good authority, that the Indians have a tradition "that the book which the white people have was once theirs. That while they had this book things went well with them; they prospered exceedingly; but that other people got it from them; that the Indians lost their credit; offended the Great Spirit, and suffered exceedingly from the neighboring nations; and that the Great Spirit then took pity on them, and directed them to this country." There can be no doubt that God did, by his special providence, direct them to some sequestered region of the world, for the reasons which have been already given. *

    M'Kenzie adds the following accounts of the Chepewyan nation; "They believe also that in ancient times, their ancestors lived till their feet were worn out with walking, and their throats with eating. They describe a deluge, when the waters spread over the whole earth, except the highest mountains; on the tops of which they preserved themselves." This tradition of longevity of the ancients, and of the flood, must have been from the word of God in ancient Israel.

    Abbe Clavigero assures us, that the natives of Mexico had the tradition, that "there once was a great deluge; and Tepzi, in order to save himself from being drowned, embarked in a ship, with his wife and children, and many animals. That as the waters abated, he sent out a bird, which remained eating

    * We have a orediction relative to the ten tribes, which fully accords with the things exhibited of them, and of the natives of our land. In Amos viii. 11, 12, we read, "Before the days came, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water; but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." This prophecy did relate to the ten tribes. Amos was a prophet to them: he lived not long before their expulsion, from which they have never yet returned. He in the context predicted in this expulsion, as then just at hand -- See v. 1, 2, 14. The famine here predicted, was to be fulfilled while they were in their outcast state. This is clearly evident from the whole connection.

    The prediction implies, they should know they had been blessed with the word of God, but had wickedly lost it; as a man in a famine knows he has had bread or food, but now has it not. It implies, they shall feel something what they have lost, and shall wander. They shall rove from sea to sea, from the north even to the east. They shall set off a north course, and thence east; or be led to wander in a north-east direction as far as they can wander; from the Mediterranean, whence they set out, to the extremest sea in the opposite direction north-east; to the Frozen Ocean; over its straits to the pacific; and to the Atlantic. They shall run to and fro, over all the vast regions, the dreary wilds, which lie between those extreme seas. They shall retain some general correct idea of God, but they shall find they have lost his word. This they shall not regain,


                        Nature and Providence.                   395

    dead bodies. He then sent out a little bird, which returned with a small branch."

    Doctor Beatty says that an Indian in Ohio informed, that one of their traditions was; "Once the waters had overflowed all the land, and drowned all the people then living, except a few, who made a great canoe and were saved."

    The Indian added, to Dr. Beatty, that "a long time ago the people went to build a high place; that while they were building, they lost their language, and could not understand each other."

    Doctor Boudinot assures us that two ministers of his acquaintance informed him, that they being among the Indians away toward the Mississippi, the Indians there (who never before saw a white man.) informed him that one of their traditions was, -- a great while ago they had a common father, who had the other people under him. That he had twelve sons by whom he administered his government; but the sons behaving illy, they lost this government over the other people. This the two ministers conceived to be a pretty evident traditionary notion concerning Jacob and his twelve sons.

    Various traditions of the Indians strikingly denote their Hebrew extraction. Dr. Beatty (mentioned by Mr. Boudinot) informs of their feast, called the hunter's feast; answering, he thinks, to the Pentecost in ancient Israel. He describes it as follows:

    They choose twelve men, who provide twelve deer. Each

    till their long famine shall close in the last days. How exactly does this prophecy accord with the account noted in Esdras, and with the Indian tradition, which meets it; of their fathers being led into this country! They have indeed wandered north-east, and from north to east, and south; from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. They have run to and fro in a famine of the word; retaining some general view of God, and of their ancient blessings under him. But their famine and savage state have still continued. From their savage high priests, they have sought the word of the Lord, and from their vague traditions; but they have not found it.

    But the following chapter in Amos, engages they shall find again the holy oracles -- ix. 13-15. "Behold the days come saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper; and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountain shall drop sweet wine; and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel; and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land, which I have given them, saith the Lord God." Here are the rapid scenes, the melting missionary events of our day. Here is the succeeding recovery of the tribesof Israel. Here is the planting of them in their own land; and their permanent residence there to the end of the world. Never has this restoration had even a primary accomplishment.


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    of the twelve men cuts a saplin; with these they form a tent, covered with blankets. They then choose twelve stones for an altar of sacrifice. Some tribes, he observes, choose but ten men, ten poles, and ten stones. Here seems an evident allusion to the twelve tribes; and also to some idea of the ten separate tribes of Israel. Upon the stones of their altar they suffered no tool to pass. No tool might pass upon a certain altar in Israel. The middle point of the thigh of their game, Doctor Beatty informs, the Indians refuse to eat. Thus did ancient Israel, after the angel had touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank: Gen. xxxii 25, 31, 32. "In short, (says Dr. Beatty,) I was astonished to find so many of the Jewish customs prevailing among them; and began to conclude there was some affinity between them and the Jews."

    Col. Smith, in his history of New Jersey, says of another region of Indians, "They never eat of the hollow of the thigh of any thing they kill." Charlevoix, speaking of the Indians still further to the north, says, he met with people who could not help thinking that the Indians were descended from the Hebrews, and found in every thing some affinity between them. Some things he states; as on certain meals, neglecting the use of knives; not breaking a bone of the animal they eat; never eating the part under the lower joint of the thigh; but throwing it away. Such are their traditions from their ancient fathers. Other travellers among them speak of their peculiar evening feast, in which no bone or their sacrifice may be broken, No bone might be broken of the ancient paschal lamb of Israel, which was eaten in the evening.

    Different men who had been eye witnesses, speak of this, and other feasts, resembling the feasts in Israel; and tell us relative to this peculiar evening feast, that if one family cannot eat all they have prepared, a neighbouring family is invited to partake with them; and if any of it be still left, it must be burned before the next rising sun. None who read the law of the passover can doubt the origin of this.

    A christian friend of mine informs me, that he some time since read in a book which he now cannot name, the account of a man taken at Quebec, in Montgomery's defeat; as he being carried far to the north-west by Indians; and of a feast which they kept, in which each had his portion in a bowl; that he was charged to be very careful not to injure a bone of it; that each must eat all his bowl full, or must burn what was left on a fire, burning in the midst for this purpose. The object of the feast he knew not

    The Indians have their feasts of first ripe fruits, or of green corn; and will eat none of their own corn till a part is thus given to


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    God. The celebrated Penn, Mr. Adair, and Col. Smith, with others, unite in these testimonies. In these Indian feasts they have their sacred songs and dances; singing Halleluyah, Yohewah, in the syllables which compose the words. What other nation, besides the Hebrew and Indians ever in this manner attempted the worship of Jehovah? The author of the "Star in the West" says;"May we not suppose that these Indians formerly understood the psalms and divine hymns? -- Otherwise, how came it to pass that some of all the inhabitants of the extensive regions of North and South America have, and retain, these very expressive Hebrew words, and repeat them so distinctly; using them after the manner of the Hebrews, in their religious acclamations?"

    The Indian feast of harvest, and annual expiation of sin, is described by these writers; and in a way which enforces the conviction that they derived them from ancient Israel. Details are given in the Star in the West. My limits will permit only to hint at them. The detailed accounts are worth perusing.

    An Indian daily sacrifice is described. They throw a small piece of the fattest of their meat into the fire, before they eat. They draw their newly killed venison through the fire. The blood they often burn. It is with them a horrid abomination to eat the blood of their game. This was a Hebrew law.

    A particular or two of their feasts shall be noted. Doctor Beatty gives an account of what he saw among the Indians north-west of the Ohio. He says; "Before they make use of any of the first fruits of the ground, twelve of their old men meet; when a deer and some of the first fruits are provided. The deer is divided into twelve parts; and the corn beaten in a mortar, and prepared for use by boiling or baking under the ashes, and of course unleavened. This also is divided into twelve parts. Then these (twelve) men hold up the venison and fruits, and pray, with their faces to the east, acknowledging (as is supposed) the bounty of God to them. It is then eaten. After this they freely enjoy the fruits of the earth. On the evening of the same day, (the Doctor adds) they have another public feast which looks like the passover. A great quantity of venison is provided, with other things dressed in their usual way, and distributed to all the guests; of which they eat freely that evening. But that which is left is thrown into the fire and burned; as none of it must remain till sun rise the next day; nor must a bone of the venison be broken."

    Mr. Boudinot says, "It is fresh in the memory of the old traders, (among the Indians) as we are assured by those who


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    have long lived among them, that formerly none of the numerous nations of Indians would eat, or even handle any part of the new harvest, till some of it had been offered up at the yearly festival by the beloved man (high priest) or those of his appointment at the plantation; even though the light harvest of the past year should almost have forced them to give their women and children of the ripening fruits to sustain life." Who that reads the laws of Moses, can doubt the origin of these Indian traditions?

    The Hebrews were commanded to eat their passover with bitter herbs; Exod. xii. 8. The Indians have a notable custom of purifying themselves with bitter herbs and roots. Describing one of their feasts, the writer says, "At the end of the notable dance, the old beloved women return home to hasten the feast. In the mean time every one at the temple drinks plentifully of the Cussena, and other bitter liquids, to cleanse their sinful bodies, as they suppose."

    The Indians have their traditionary notion clearly alluding to the death of Abel, by the murderous hand of Cain; as well as one alluding to the longevity of the ancients.

    More full accounts are given by some of these authors, of the Archi-magus of the Indians -- their high priest. As the high priest in Israel was inducted into office by various ceremonies, and by anointing; so is the Indian high priest by purification, and by anointing. Which the holy garments are put upon him, bear's oil is poured on his head. And it is stated that the high priest have their resemblances of the various ornaments worn by the ancient high priests; and even a resemblance of the breast-plate. These men have been called by the white people, ignorant of Indian customs, jugglers. But they are now ascertained by good witnesses, as a manifest though corrupt succession of the high priesthood in ancient Israel. Bartram says, those, with inferior priests and prophets, have been maintained in most if not all the tribes.

    The Indian high priest makes his yearly atonement for sin. He appears at their temple, (such as it is) arrayed in his white deer skin garments, seeming to answer to the ancient ephod. Entering on his duty, the waiter spreads a white seat with a white dressed buckskin, close by the holiest apartment of their temple; and puts on his white beads offered by the people. A variety of curious things are described in this dress, by Mr. Adair, as pretty evidently designed imitations of the parts of ancient pontifical dress, which it would exceed my limits to describe. This dress is left in the holy place of their temple, till the high priest comes to officiate again. His breastplate is made of a white conch shell, through which two straps of otter


                        Nature and Providence.                   399

    skin pass in two perforations; whole white buttons of buck's horn are superadded, as though in immitation of the precious stones on the ancient breast-plate. A swan skin wreath adorns his head, instead of the ancient plate of gold, and for the ancient tiara, the Archi-magus has his tuft of white feathers. His holy fire he obtains by rubbing two sticks together; and his golden bells and pomegranates are formed of the dried spurs of wild turkies, strung so as to rattle on his fine mocasins.

    Mr. Adair assures us, when the Indian Archi-magus (high priest) is addressing his people, and enforcing "the divine speech," that he calls them "the beloved and holy people," according to the language concerning ancient Israel, He urges them "to imitate their virtuous ancestors," and "flourishes upon their beloved land, flowing with milk and honey."

    Mr. Adair describes the Indian feasts, and speaks of them as bearing a very near resemblance of the stated feasts in ancient Israel. He gives account that when the Indians are about to engage in war, they have their preparatory sacrifices, purifications, and fastings. He speaks of their daily sacrifice, their ablutions, marriages, divorces, burials, mournings for the dead, separations of women, and punishment of various crimes, as being in his opinion manifestly of Hebrew origin.

    Their reckonings of time, Mr. Adair viewed as evidently Hebrew. They begin their year, as did Israel, at the first appearance of new moon after the vernal equinox. They reckon by the four seasons, and by the sub-divisions of the moons.

    Bartram says, the Indians believe their high priests have intimate communion with the world of spirits; and that no great design is formed by the Indians without his counsel.

    Within about eighty years, men inform, that these rites of the high priests have been more neglected. The Indians inform, that in 1747, the high priest in the Natchez was struck dead by lightning, while using his invocation for rain. They suppose the Great Spirit to have been angry with him for some impurity; and with the "darting fire and threatening voice," took him away; and forbid them to renew the like attempt.

    Bartram gives a description of a Southern Indian temple. It is a square of small buildings in the centre of their Indian town. The small buildings of one story covers perhaps half acre,


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    more or less, according to the strength of the tribe. In one of these buildings they hold their councils. A part of this building is shut up as a holy of holies; and it is inadmissible for any but the high priest to enter it. Here they deposit their most sacred things; as the physic-pot, rattles, chaplets, eagle's tail, and pipe of peace.

    To this temple "the males (is ancient Israel) are obliged to assemble three times a year: viz. at the feast of the first ripe fruits; at the feast for the success of hunting, about the time of the ancient pentecost; and the great feast for the expiation of sins, about the tune of ripe corn." No account could be given of these things, without a complicated miracle, unless the Indians have descended from the tribes of Israel.

    Mr. Boudinot informs, that "when any of their beloved people die, they soften the thought of death by saying, "he is gone to sleep with his beloved fathers." The ancient pious Hebrews dying, "fell asleep, and was gathered to his people."

    The Indians when one dies, wash and anoint the body. The Hebrews did the same.

    Some of the southern Indians hire mourners to bewail and magnify the merits of the dead. Thus did the Hebrews: Jer. ix. 17. And the Indians, as did the Hebrews, have their solemn songs on such occasions. A religious procession moves round the corpse, singing, Yah, (Jah.) Ho, is then sung by the procession. The leader then says, He; -- all follow. Then Wah is sung by all. Thus they sing the syllables which compose Jah, Jehovah. The corpse is then buried with the face to the east.

    Lewis and Clark, in their tour to the Pacific, inform that they found among the natives, in those remote regions, receptacles for the dead, always lying east and west; the door of the tomb to the east, and the bodies in the tombs lying with the face to the east.

    The Indians often bury with the corpse a variety of furniture; and their best things, if the dead be a first character. The Hebrews did the same. Josephus informs that Hyrcanus, a Maccabee, when Jerusalem was besieged by the Syrain tyrant, and money was wanted, took from king David's sepulchre 3000 talents, which had 1300 years before been buried with him.

    Another noted Hebrew custom the Indians have. Doctor Boudinot informs, that a worthy minister informed him, that as he was preaching with some Indians, between the exercises, tidings were brought to an Indian woman present, that her son was suddenly drowned. In deep distress she retired to a little distance, and sat on the ground. Female friends followed, and sat around her. After sitting a season in solemn silence, the


                        Nature and Providence.                   401

    mourning mother put her hand upon her mouth, and then fell forward with her face in the dust. The rest all followed the example. The men went by themselves, and did the same. It is well known that laying the hand on the mouth, and the mouth in the dust, is a distinguished Hebraism. See Micah vii. 16; Lam. iii. 29; Prov. xxx. 32.

    Thus the reader is presented with a view of the historical and religioustraditions of the native Americans; and will judge for himself whether they do not exhibit satisfactory evidence that these natives are the very tribes of Israel?

    So important an argument is furnished on this subject from the Indian's place of refuge from the avenger of blood, that a particular head shall be reserved for it, in a succeeding page.

    Among what other people on earth can such a traditional evidence be found of their being the descendants of the ten tribes? It is believed no other nations exhibits such evidence. Whence came the natives of one continent, if they be not the tribes of Israel? and where are those tribes to be found? They are to be found, and come to light, as Israelites; and this too, about the present period. This results from the prophetic scriptures, and the signs of the times. The descendants of Abraham are now soon to be recovered. When shall this branch of them be found as having been providentially preserved, now for 2500 years, if not in this sequestered land? The tribes of Israel might have found their way hither, as well as any other people. Some people did find they way hither, and have brought down all these Hebraisms and traditions, which it seems could not be furnished from any other quarter, than from the commonwealth of Israel.

    7. The celebrated William Penn * gives accounts of the natives of Pennsylvania, which go to corroborate the same point. Mr Penn saw the Indians of Pennsylvania, before they had been affected with the rude treatment of the white people. And in a letter to a friend in England he thus writes of those natives; "I found them with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them, that a man would think himself in Duke's place, or Barry street in London, when he sees them." Here, without the least previous idea of these natives being Israelites, that shrewd man was struck with their perfect resemblance of them; and with other things which will be noted. He speaks of their dress and trinkets, as notable, like those of ancient Israel; their ear rings, nose jewels, bracelets on their arms and legs, rings (such as they were) on their fingers, necklaces made of polished shells found in their

    * Quoted by Dr. Boudinot.


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    rivers, and on their coast; bands, shells and feathers ornamenting the heads of females, and various strings of beads adorning several parts of the body.

    Mr. Penn adds to his friend, "that he considered this people as under a dark night; yet they believed in God and immortality, without the help of metaphysics. For he says they informed him that there was a great king, who made them -- that the souls of the good shall go to him." He adds; "Their worship consists in two parts, sacrifice and cantieo, (songs.) The first is with their first fruits; and the first buck they kill goes to the fire." Mr. Penn proceeds to describe their splendid feast of the first fruits, one of which he attended. He informs; "All that go to this feast must take a piece of money, which is made of bone and a fish." -- "None shall appear before me empty." He speaks of the agreement of their rites with those of the Hebrews. He adds; "They reckon by moons; they offer their first ripe fruits; they have a kind of feast of tabernacles; they are said to lay their altars with twelve stones; they mourn a year; they have their separations of women; with many other things that do not now occur." Here is a most artless testimony, given by that notable man, drawn from his own observations, and accounts given by him; while the thought of this people's being actually Hebrew, probably was most distant from his mind.

    8. Their having a tribe, answering in various respects to the tribe of Levi, sheds further light on this subject. The thought naturally occurs, that if these are the ten tribes, and they have preserved so many of their religious traditions; should we not be likely to find among them some tradition of a tribe answering to the tribe of Levi? If we should find something of this, the evidence of their being the tribes of Israel would indeed be more striking. Possibly this is furnished. The Mohawk tribe were held by the other tribes in great reverence; and the other tribes round about them had been accustomed to pay them an annual tribute. Mr. Boudinot gives the following account of them. "Mr. Colden says, he had been told by old men (Indians) in New England, that when their Indians were at war formerly with the Mohawks, as soon as one (a Mohawk) appeared, the Indians would raise a cry, from hill to hill, a Mohawk! a Mohawk! upon which all would flee as sheep before a wolf, without attempting to make the least resistance. And that all the nations around them have for many years entirely submitted to their advice, and paid them a yearly tribute. And the tributary nations dared not to make war or peace, without the consent of the Mohawks," Mr. Colden goes on to state an instance of their speech to the governor of Virginia, in which it


                        Nature and Providence.                   403

    appears the Mohawks were the correctors of the misdoings of the other tribes.

    Now, could any thing be found in their name, which might have an allusion to the superiority of the tribe of Levi, we should think the evidence very considerable, that here are indeed the descendants of the part of that tribe which clave to the house of Israel. And here too evidence seems not wholly wanting. The Hebrew word Mhhokek, signifies an interpreter of the law superior. We have, then, a new view of the possible origin of the Mohawks!

    8. Several prophetic traits of character given of the Hebrews, do accurately apply to the aborigines of America. Intemperance may be first noted. Isaiah, writing about the time of the expulsion of Israel from Canaan, and about to predict their restoration, says; Isai. xxviii. 1 -- "Wo to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim; (Ephraim was a noted name of the ten tribes of Israel.) The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet. For all tables shall be full of vomit and filthiness; so that there is no place clean."

    In the course of the descriptions of their drunkenness, that of their rejection and restoration is blended; that the Lord by a mighty one would cast them down to the earth; and their glorious beauty should be like that of a rich flower in a fertile valley, which droops, withers and dies. But in time God would revive it. "In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of this people." None who know the character of the Indians in relation to intemperance, need to be informed that this picture does most singularly apply to them.

    Doctor Williams in his history of Vermont, on this trait of Indian character, says; "No sooner had the Indians tasted of the spirituous liquors brought by Europeans, than they contracted a new appetite, which they were wholly unable to govern. The old and the young, the sachem, the warrior, and the women, whenever they can obtain liquors, indulge themselves without moderation and without decency, till universal drunkenness takes place. All the tribes appear to be under the dominion of this appetite, and unable to govern it."

    A writer in the Connecticut Magazine assures us of the Indians in Massachusetts, when our fathers first arrived there; "As soon as they had a taste of ardent spirits, they discovered a strong appetite for them; and their thirst soon became insatiable."

    Another trait of Hebrew character which singularly applies to the Indians, is found in Isai. iii. "The bravery of their tinkling ornaments, about their feet; their cauls, and round tires


    404                     The Wonders of                   

    like the moon; their chains, bracelets, mufflers, bonnets, ornaments of the legs; head bands, tablets, ear-rings, rings, and nose-jewels; the mantles, the wimples; and the crisping pins." One would imagine the prophet was here indeed describing the natives of America in their full dress! No other people on earth probably bear a resemblance to such a degree.

    This description was given just before the expulsion of Israel. And nothing would be more likely than that their taste for these flashy ornaments should descend to posterity. For these make the earliest and deepest impressions on the rising generation.

    10. The Indians being in tribes, with their heads and names of tribes, affords further light upon this subject. The Hebrews not only had their tribes, and heads of tribes, as have the Indians: but they had their animal emblems of their tribes. Dan's emblem was a serpent; Issachar's and ass; Benjamin's a wolf; and Judah's a lion. And this trait of character is not wanting among the natives of this land. They have their wolf tribe; their tiger tribe; panther tribe; buffalo tribe; bear tribe; deer tribe; raccoon tribe; eagle tribe; and many others. What other nation on earth bears any resemblance to this? Here, no doubt, is Hebrew tradition.

    Various of the emblems given in Jacob's last blessing, have been strikingly fulfilled in the American Indian. "Dan shall be a serpent by the way; an adder in the path, that biteth the horse-heels, so that the rider shall fall backwards. Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey; and at night he shall divide the spoil." Had the prophetic eye rested on the American Aborigines, it seems as though no picture could have been more accurate.

    11. Their having an imitation of the ancient city of refuge, evinces the truth of our subject. Their city of refuge has been hinted from Mr. Adair. But as this is so convincing an argument, (no nation on earth having any thing of the kind, but the ancient Hebrews and the Indians.) the reader shall be more particularly instructed on this article. Of one of these places of refuge, Mr. Boudinot says; "The town of refuge called Choate is on a large stream of the Mississippi, five miles above where Fort London formerly stood. Here, some years ago, a brave Englishman was protected, after killing an Indian warrior in defence of his property. He told Mr. Adair, that after some months stay in this place of refuge, he intended to return to his house in the neighborhood; but the chiefs told him it would prove fatal to him. So that he was obliged to continue there till he pacified the friends of the deceased by presents to their satisfaction. In the upper country of Muskagee, (says Dr.


                        Nature and Providence.                   405

    Boudinot) was an old beloved town, called Koosah -- which is a place of safety for those who kill undesignedly.

    "In almost every Indian nation (he adds) there are several peaceable towns, which are called old beloved,holy, or white towns. It is not within the memory of the oldest people that blood was ever shed in them; although they often force persons from them, and put them elsewhere to death." Who can read this, and not be satisfied of the origin of this Indian tradition.

    The well known trait of Indian character, that they will pursue one who has killed any of their friends, ever so far, and ever so long, as an avenger of the blood shed, thus lies clearly open to view. It originated in the permission given to the avenger of blood in the commonwealth of Israel; and is found in such a degree probably in no other nation.

    12. Other Indian rites, and various other considerations, go to evince the fact, that this pople are the ten tribes of Israel. Further details are given, and might be enlarged upon; as religious separations of Indian females, almost exactly answering to the law in ancient Israel; their beginning the year as did Israel, with the new moon after the vernal equinox; their special attention paid to new moons, as was paid in Israel; their green corn moon, the most lovely of all, even as Israel had their beloved month Abib, which signifies an ear of green cornl their Jubilee declared to have been observed by some of the natives: "Melvenda and Acasta both affirm that the natives keep a Jubilee according to the usage in Israel." The testimony of Edwards, in his "West Indies," that the striking uniformity of the prejudices and customs of the Caribbee Indians to the practice of the Jews, had not escaped the notice of historians, -- as Gumella, Du Tertre, and others;" and the various predictions of the final restoration of Israel, bringing them from the ends of the earth, from the west, and (as one translates it) "from the going down of the sun." These things open fruitful sources of evidence.

    But I have more than equalled my designed limits. It is again asked, is it possible to find another people on earth exhibiting an equal degree of evidence of their being the ten tribes of Israel? Can another people on earth be found exhibiting one sixth part of the evidence adduced in favour of the American natives? We expect no new revelation, nor miracles wrought, to inform who are the ten tribes of Israel. Here is just such evidence as we should rationally look for; but six times as much of it, as we should dare to have expected, after a lapse of 2,500 years, with a people without letters. Our aborigines are essentially distinguished from all other pagans on earth, in


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    the uniform belief of most of them of one God; and their freedom from false gods; as well as in many other striking things, which appear in their history.

    How prone have been mankind, in all ages, to idolatry. -- Hundreds of thousands of false gods, of every description, have existed in the bewildered imaginations of men destitute of revelation. But the knowledge of the true God was renounced. "As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them up," to almost every description of idolatry. How early did the world (in several centuries after the flood) go off in gross idolatry, even under the instructions of the patriarchs, and so soon after the terrible admonitions of the flood! The natives of one of the greatest islands of the eastern ocean are so depraved, that it has not been known that they had the least idea of any Supreme Being. How prone were the Jews and Israel, in ancient times, even under all their rich advantages, to unite in the idolatries of their heathen neighbors.

    But the 70 years captivity of the Jews in Babylon, cured them utterly of idolatry, from that day to this. While they have been dispersed, and been infidels relative to JesusChrist; they have been firm believers in the Old Testament, and in the one God of Abraham. It is analogous with this to expect, that the ten tribes (whatever they are) would be cured, as well as the Jews. of their gross idolatry, and would be kept during their long outcast state, in a situation somewhat resembling that of the Jews, in their speculation concerning God. Such has been the case with the natives of this continent, at least to as great a degree as could be without a bible or letters; and such has been the case with no other people on earth! Nothing but the very special powewr and mercy of God, could have kept these natives in this traditional habit of acknowledging the one only living and true God, as they have done. While they have been dead to the life of religion, as a valley of dry bones; yet they have strangely been kept from acknowledging any other God but Jehovah, the Great Spirit, who made them and all things.

    And light, in these last days of wonders, (when the time for the restoration of Israel and Judah is drawing near) has been breaking out and accumulating on this subject, to exhibit this origin of the American natives. It is ascertained in the "Star in the West," that Spaniards, Portuguese, French, English, Jews, and Christians, men of learning, and the illiterate, and sea-faring men; all have united in the statements of facts, which go to indicate that these Indians are the descendants of Israel! Mr. M'Kenzie has travelled from the Atlantic very far to the north-west; and some of his statements of facts go to the same point. Various of the European visitants to this continent,


                        Nature and Providence.                   407

    early after it was known to the civilized world, expressed their surprise on finding among the natives things which bore such a resemblance to the history of ancient Israel. What account can be given of all this, but that here are the very ten tribes, -- These tribes must be somewhere on earth. Where are they? How can they be known> Whence came our native Americans? What other account can be given of their traditions, their language, Hebrew words, and phrases, (the radical language of their tribes) and the broken fragments of the ancient economy of Israel running through so many of them? It would be far wilder and more difficult to account for these things on any other principle, than to say we have evidence that is satisfactory, of having found at last, the very valley of the dry bones of the house of Israel! The facts stated of them, must on every other principle, appear most unaccountable, not to say miraculous.

    Further Remarks on the foregoing Subject.

    IF any are still disposed to doubt the doctrine advanced in the preceding remarks, on account of the dark complexion of the savages, will do well to recollect, that a majority of mankind are dark in complexion. The Asiatic nations are invariably such. Abraham, the head, and prince of the Jewish nation, was an Assyrian. The Jews in that country are of the olive colour -- in France and Turkey they are brown -- in Spain and Portugal swarthy. They are tawny in Egypt and Arabia -- in Abyssinia they are as dark as the native Indians. Buchannan, in his researches in Asia, tells us, in that country he found several thousands of Jews whom he calls black Jews. Another objection is, their having no beard on their faces, as have the Jews. Of this it is said of the Ibdians, that they have a method of removing it, either by plucking it, or in some other way. Be this as it may, it is proved by Mr. John R. Jewett, who was taken prisoner by the Indians, at Nootka Sound in 1803, and remained among them three years. He had been a blacksmith ar armourer on board the ship Boston, but at Nootka Sound, himself and a Mr. Thompson, were the only persons who survived the slaughter of the whole crew by king Maquinna's savages. The ship was bound to China, and had come to anchor at Nootka Bay for wood, but being deceived by the artifice of Maquinna, fell a sacrifice to savage revenge, for some injuries received from some other adventurers, on the north-west coast of America, some time before. Mr. Jewett while


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    among them says, many tribes visited Nootka, and among others, there came a tribe far from the north, who had very long and heavy beards, who were more savage and moross than any he had ever seen. These facts, it is believed, are sufficient to remove all doubts arising from the circumstance of the natives being swarthy, and prepares the mind to recognize the wandering tribes of the Western, Northern and Southern regions, as lineally descended from the royal house of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

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    The darkness at our Saviour's crucifixion, supernatural.

    (Clarke's Commentary)

    From the account given of the nature of eclipses, it plainly appears that the sun can never be eclipsed in a natural way, but at the time of new moon, nor the moon, but when she is


                        Nature and Providence.                   429

    full; and that when the sun is totally eclipsed, the darkness can never continue above five minutes at any place of the earth

    But the three Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St, Luke, mention a darkness that continued three hours, at the time of our Saviour's Crucifixion. If their account of that darkness had been false, it would have have been contradicted by many who were then present; especially as they were great enemies both to Christ and his few disciples, as well as to the doctrine he taught. But as none of the Jews have contradicted the Evangelists' account of this most extraordinary phenomenon, it is plain, that their account of it is true. Besides, the Evangelists must have known full well, that it could not be their interest to palm such a lie upon mankind; which, when detected, must have gone a great way towards destroying the credibility of all the rest of the account they gave of the Life, Actions, and Doctrine of their Master: And instead of forwarding the belief of Christianity, it would have been a blow at the very root thereof. We do not find that they have bestowed any panegyric on the life and actions of Christ, or thrown out an invective against his cruel persecutors; but, in the most plain, simple, and artless manner, have told us what their senses convinced them were matters of fact: So that we have as good reason to believe that there was such darkness, as we have to believe that Christ was then upon earth; and that he was, has never been contradicted even by the Jews themselves.

    But there are other accounts of Christ, besides those which the Evangelists have left us. It is expressly affirmed by the Roman historians, Tacitus and Suetonius, that there was a general expectation spread all over the Eastern nations, that out of Judea should arise a person who should be governor of the world. That there lived in Judea, at the time which the gospel relates, such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, is acknowledged by all authors both Jewish and Pagan, who have written since that time. The star that appeared at his birth, and the journey of the Chaldean wise men, is mentioned by Chalcidius the Platonist. Herod's causing the children in Bethlehem to be slain, and a reflection upon him, on that occasion, by the emperor Augustus, is reflected by Macrobius. Many of the miracles that Jesus wrought, particularly his healing the lame, and curing the blind, and casting out devils, are owned by these inveterate and implacable enemies of Christianity, Celsus and Julian, and the authors of the Jewish Talmud. That the power of the heathen gods ceased after the coming of Christ, is acknowledged by Porphyry, who attributed it to their being angry at the setting up of the Christian religion, which he calls


    430                     The Wonders of                   

    impious and profane. The crucifixion of Christ under Pontius Pilate, is related by Tacitus, and the earthquake and miraculous darkness attending it, were recorded in the public Roman Registers, commonly appealed to by the first Christian writers, as what could not be denied by the adversaries themselves; and are in a particular manner, attested by Phlegon, the freed man of Adrian.

    Some people have said, that the above-monded darkness might have been occasioned by a natural eclipse of the sun; and consequently, that there was nothing miraculous in it. If this had been the case, it is plain that our Savour must have been crucified at the time of new moon. But then in a natural way, the darkness could not possibly have continued for more than five minutes; whereas, to have made it continue for three hours, the moon's motion in her orbit must have been stopped for three hours, and the earth's motion on its axis must have been stopped as long too. And then, if the power of gravitation had not been suspended during all that time, the moon would have fallen a great way towards the earth. So that nothing less than a triple miracle must have been wrought to have caused such a long continued darkness by the interposition of the moon between the sun and any part of the earth: which shews that they who make such a supposition, are entirely ignorant of the nature of eclipses. But there could be no natural or regular eclipse of the sun on the day of Christ's crucifixion; as the moon was full on that day, and consequently in the side of the heavens opposite to the sun. And therefore, the darkness at the time of his crucifixion was quite supernatural.

    The Israelites reckoned their months by the course of the moon, and their years, (after they left Egypt,) by the revolution of the sun, computed from the equal day and night in Spring to the like time again. For we find they were told by the almighty, (Exod. xii. 2,) that the month Abib (or Nisan,) should be to them the first month of the year. This was the month in which they were delivered from their Egyptian bondage, and includes part of March, and part of April in our way of reckoning.

    In several places of the Old Testament, we find that the Israelites were strictly commanded to kill the Paschal Lamb in the evening, (or as it is in the Hebrew, between the evenings) of the fourteenth day of the first month; and Josephus expressly says, "The passover was kept on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, according to the moon, when the sun was in Aries." And the sun always enters the sign Aries, when the day and night are equal in the spring season.


                        Nature and Providence.                   431

    They began each month on the first day of the moon's being visible, which could not be in less than twenty-four hours after the time of her change; and the moon is full on the fifteenth day reckoned from the time of change. Hence, the fourteenth day of the month, according to the Israelites' way of reckoning, was the day of full moon, which makes it plain that the passover was always kept on a full moon day; and at the time of the full moon next after the equal day and night in the spring; or when the sun was in Aries.

    All the four Evangelists assure us, that our Saviour was crucified at the time of the passover; And hence it is plain, that the curcifixion was at the time of full moon, when it was impossible that the moon could hide the sun from any part of the earth. St. John tells us, that Christ was crucified on the day that the passover was to be eaten; and we likewise find, that some remonstrated against his being crucified "on the feast-day, lest it should cause an uproar among the people."

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    My feelings cannot be described when this information was communicated to me; but it was grateful to me to see that the greater part of the Indians, particularly the females, were much affected at the severity of the sentence; indeed I had conducted nyself with such strict propriety, and made the natives such a number of little presents that there was not one who had any ill will towards me.

    I requested to see Edom, and he was conducted towards me. When the poor fellow understood I was to be shot, he could scarce keep within the bounds of reason; he tore his hair, threw himself upon the ground, and it was some time before I could induce him to hearken to me; at last he became more calm. I told him he must endeavor to get back to New-Orleans, on my account, as I wanted him to carry information to my friends; I told him that after my death he must collect such articles as were allowed him of mine, particularly my papers, and deliver them to Dr. Fludcar; he promised me he would. I then re quested him to leave me, as my time was short, and I had some


                        Nature and Providence.                   531

    preparation to make before I went hence to "that bourne from whence no traveller returns."

    He now left me, and I turned my attention to that Being in whose hands are the "issues of life and death." Although I had by no means been faithful to the divine commands, and had, in common with all mankind gone far from the path which is marked out by strict rectitude and propriety, I nevertheless knew he was a God who cast none off in the hour that they approached his footstool, and humbly asked forgiveness of their transgressions; for who was to set bounds to Infinite Mercy?

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    Transcriber's Comments:
    Josiah Priest's Wonder of Nature

    Editorial Notes:

    Josiah Priest copyrighted the title-page of this book in 1824 with Mr. R. R, Lansing, the same "Clerk of the Northern District of New York" who registered Joseph Smith, Jr.'s copyright for the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon on June 11, 1829. For additional information on James Bruce's accounts of the Queen of Sheba, her son Menilek, Prince Menilek's "colony of Jews," etc., see his 1790 book: Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile... For Parley P. Pratt's probable conflation of Ethan Smith passages partly reprinted in Priest's 1826 book, see Pratt's 1838 pamphlet: Mormonism Unveiled.

    Date and Place of Publication:

    Josiah Priest's Wonder of Nature and Providence Displayed... was first published by Rev. Priest himself at Albany, NY at the beginning of 1825. In his 1999 Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith, (on page 98) author Robert D. Anderson cites an 1824 edition of Priest's book, printed in "Rochester, NY." This is a spurious citation, probably derived from Anderson's non-critical reliance upon the reporting of Clark Braden and Brigham H. Roberts (see below). The New York Public Library lists the 1825 edition as having been printed "c. 1824," but in "Albany." This oddity of citation perhaps arises from the fact that Priest copyrighted the title-page of his book in the office of the U. S. Circuit Court of Northern District of N. York (at Uttica) in mid-1824. All published first printings of the book (there were at least two such press runs, with differing pagination) bear the date "1825," however.

    Priest published a second printing of his book in Albany in 1826. The text from this rare and obscure volume is used throughout this web-document, as being the final word of Priest on the subject. Although the 1826 pagination differs from the 1825 edition(s), the basic text of the two different volumes appears to be practically identical.

    Means of Sale and Promotion:

    It appears that Josiah Priest relied primarily upon door-to-door salesmen to gather subscriptions for his book. Then, after a sufficient number of such pre-payments (or promises to pay upon delivery) had been collected, he published the volume and sent out copies to his customers. This method must have involved a certain amount of sales hyperbole and evidently resulted in some dissatisfied buyers. See the Aug. 30, 1826 issue of the Lyons Advertiser for one report of subscribers refusing to accept such a "compilation of unauthenticated narrations of incredible events, and extravagant absurdities." It is not beyond reasonable possibility, to speculate that the "pedestrian pedlar" Oliver Cowdery (whose family members then lived near Lyons, New York) was one of the sales agents for Priest's book mentioned in this 1826 news item.

    Book of Mormon Parallels

    "From Whence No Traveller Returns":
    (1825 eds. p. 464 or 469, and 1826 ed, p. 432)

    Writers as early as Rev. Clark Braden (in his 1884 book) have attempted to demonstrate some tie between the 1825 Priest volume and early Mormonism. Without exactly saying that Priest's writings were copied into the Book of Mormon, Braden says "It was from Priest's book that Rigdon and the Pratt stole their arguments. ...not only did Rigdon steal the book, but Mormons stole their arguments from Priest."

    Jerald and Sandra Tanner (perhaps taking some early hints from RLDS Elder James Wardle) renewed Braden's claims in their 1964 Mormonism, Shadow of Reality. On page 84 (of their fifth edition), the Tanners say:
    "Another book which Joseph Smith may have read before "translating" the Book of Mormon was written by Josiah Priest. It was entitled The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed... Among other points brought up by the Tanners, they match a Book of Mormon passage to one of Priest's, saying: "This is a statement made by Lehi almost 600 years before Christ: "...FROM whence NO TRAVELER can RETURN;..." (2 Nephi 1:14) Notice how similar this is to the words of Shakespeare: "...FROM whose bourn NO TRAVELLER RETURNS..." (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1...) ...we now have a much better idea of where Joseph Smith might have found these words. In examining Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed, we found a story which quotes the words of Shakespeare. In quoting these words, however, they are in the wrong order, and this makes the end of the quotation almost identical to that in the Book of Mormon.
    Book of Mormon

    "...from whence no traveler can return;..." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 1:14)
    Wonders of Nature

    "...from whence no traveller returns." (The Wonders of Nature...1825, page 469)

    In recent years writer David Persuitte has picked up this same argument -- see his Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon, (2nd ed. 2000) page 159. Both the Tanners and Persuitte, however, fail to mention that Priest himself reproduced the text from an 1816 book entitled Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of Mr. Ker... (i.e. Henry Ker's "Travels through the Western Interior of the United States...") If a Book of Mormon writer somehow stole the "traveler" phrase from a book, he may have just as easily taken it from Ker's 1816 "narrative" as from Priest's 1825 book.

    The portent of Priest's text as a supposedly unique source for Mormon borrowing in this matter is diminished by the fact that versions of the phrase appear in still other 19th century writings. For example, Charles Dickens, in Chapter 30 of his 1838-39 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, writes: "He was a --. Well, no matter. He is gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns." The "whence" common to Dickens, 2 Nephi, and Priest is lacking from the Shakespeare original. As a matter of fact, Henry Ker's rendition of the phrase matches exactly Benjamin Silliman's use of the phrase in the "Kew Gardens" section of his 1806 Journal of Travels: "gone to that 'bourne from whence no traveller returns...'" On the other hand, the famous preacher C. H. Spurgeon more closely echoes the wording of 2 Nephi in his 1856 "Sermon No. 81" in Spurgeon's Sermons: "...very near that bourne from which no traveller can return..." (cf. the Mormon text's "...in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveller can return." The Mormons' own Times and Seasons newspaper favored the version which says: "gone to that "bourne from whence no traveler returns'" (" Death of Col. Robert B. Thompson.," Vol. 2. No. 21. -- Sept. 1st 1841). Indeed, the Times and Seasons quote duplicates the 1806 words of Benjamin Silliman and it may well be that Silliman's paraphrase of Shakespeare is the source of all the variations in wording used by later writers. At any rate, it would be illogical to attribute the 2 Nephi phrase to nothing more than a simple plagiarism of Josiah Priest.

    Supernatural Darkness During the Exodus and the Crucifixion:
    (1825 edition page 524)

    Following their treatment of the "traveler" textual parallel, the Tanners continue to list more Book of Mormon -- Josiah Priest parallels on page 84 of their book:

    On page 524 of Priest's Wonders of Nature, we find material concerning the plague of darkness which came upon the Egyptians (see Exodus 10:21-23). This was reprinted from Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 1, pp. 343-344. We find the following parallels between this material and a story found in the Book of Mormon.

    1. Both Priest's book and the Book of Mormon mention that there was darkness which could be felt. "...the inhabitants...could feel the vapor of darkness;" (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 8:20)

    "Darkness which may be felt." (The Wonders of Nature, page 524)

    2. Both accounts speak of a vapor or vapors, and this is very interesting since the book of Exodus says nothing about a vapor being involved. "...vapor of darkness;..." (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 8:20)

    "Probably this was occasioned by a superabundance of aqueous vapours..." (The Wonders of Nature..., p. 524)

    3. Both accounts speak of a mist. The Bible story says nothing about a mist. "there was thick darkness And there was not any light seen,.so great were the mists of darkness." (Books of Mormon, 3 Nephi8:20 and 22)

    "...aqueous vapours...were so thick as to prevent the rays of the sun from penetrating through them: an extraordinary thick mist,..." (The Wonders of Nature..., p. 524)

    4. In both cases artificial light could not be used. "And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so there could not be any light at all;" (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 8:21)

    "...no artificial light could be procured, as the thick clammy vapours would prevent lamps, &c. from burning;..." (The Wonders of Nature..., page 524)

    5. In both cases the darkness lasted three days. "...it did last for the space of three days..." (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 8:23)

    "...the darkness with its attendant horrors, lasted for three days" (The Wonders of Nature..., p. 524)
    Although the textul parallels noted above may have passed from the pages of Josiah Priest's 1825 book into the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, a more direct borrowing of phraseology could have just as easily come directly from the popular Clarke's Commentary. The relevant passages available to Book of Mormon writers from "Commentary on Exodus X" (in Clarke's Vol. 1) are:
    "The Ninth Plague - Thick Darkness:
    Verse 21.
    Darkness which may be felt. Probably this was occasioned by a superabundance of aqueous vapors floating in the atmosphere, which were so thick as to prevent the rays of the sun from penetrating through them; an extraordinarily thick mist supernaturally, i.e., miraculously, brought on. An awful emblem of the darkened state of the Egyptians and their king.

    Verse 23.
    They saw not one another] So deep was the obscurity, and probably such was its nature, that no artificial light could be procured; as the thick clammy vapors would prevent lamps, &c., from burning, or if they even could be ignited, the light through the palpable obscurity, could diffuse itself to no distance from the burning body. The author of the book of Wisdom, chap. xvii. 2-19, gives a fearful description of this plague. He says, "The Egyptians were shut up in their houses, the prisoners of darkness: and were fettered with the bonds of a long night. They were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly astonished and troubled with strange apparitions; for neither might the corner that held them keep them from fear; but noises as of waters falling down sounded about them; and sad visions appeared unto them with heavy countenances.

    No power of the fire could give them light-only there appeared unto them a fire kindled of itself very dreadful; for being much terrified, they thought the things which they saw to be worse than the sight they saw not. For though no terrible thing did scare them, yet being scared with beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents, they died for fear: for whether he were husbandman, or shepherd, or a labourer in the field, he was overtaken; for they were all bound with one chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or a terrible sound of stones cast down, or a running that could not be seen of tripping beasts, or a roaring voice of most savage wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountains, these things made them to swoon for fear." See Psalm lxxviii. 49.

    To this description nothing need be added except this circumstance, that the darkness, with its attendant horrors, lasted for three days.
    The origin of the ideas and phraseology utilized in the 3 Nephi account of the "vapor of darkness" probably was the text of Clarke's Commentary, coupled with reports on the 1780 "Day of Darkness" published in contemporary newspapers and journals (see Ezra Stiles' Literary Diary vol. 2, p. 424., 1901). The inexplicable, frightening darkness of May 19, 1780 in New England was likened unto the ninth Egyptian plague and the darkness at the crucifixion by some observers. The phenomenon was, no doubt, witnessed by people like the Rev. Ethan Smith and Solomon Spalding. Thus, there is no logical reason to attribute the 3 Nephi phraseology to nothing more than a simple plagiarism of Josiah Priest.

    Other Interesting Phraseology in Josiah Priest's Book:
    Textual parallels enthusiasts who seek to link the 1825-26 Wonders of Nature to the 1830 Book of Mormon and early Mormon beliefs or practices may wish to also examine the following passages from Priest's 1826 edition:

    "Danites" (p. 25)
    "Deism" (pp. 204 ff.)
    "no law - no sin" (p. 210)
    "pre-incarnation Jesus" (p. 229)
    "Jehovah-Jesus" (p. 234)
    "Gospel preached in OT times" (p. 234)
    "profound silence" (p. 407)
    "earth stops revolving" (pp. 420 ff.)
    "fatigue of the day" (p. 474)
    "victory or death" (p. 475)
    "pre-Columbian voyages to America" (pp. 520 ff.)
    "ignominius death" (p. 588)
    "narrow neck of land" (pp. 548 & 553)

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    last revised Jan. 12, 2006