The Life of John Papoonung – Part 6

The governor had, as usual on such occasions, prepared presents for the Indians, and Friends wished Papoonung to take a share with the rest for himself and his people. Papoonung consulted his bosom friend Tougachena, and then replied, he had nothing to do with public business, and therefore he did not intend to take any part of the public presents, unless the Mingoes, who had invited him there, should out of their own share offer him a part. If they did, he thought he should accept that.

Papoonung sent most of his people home a day or two after the conclusion of the treaty, which ended on the 12th, and he himself, with a few, proceeded to Philadelphia. Here they remained about two weeks, behaving in a very orderly and becoming manner. They generally attended Friends’ meetings for worship, and had many conferences with individual members in their private houses. On one occasion many Friends were collected together, and all falling into silence, Papoonung appeared by way of exhortation to his people. He reminded them of the kindness of the Almighty, particularly in disposing the hearts of Friends so kindly towards them. He exhorted them to be careful to make suitable returns for the favors received. After this he offered thanksgiving to the Almighty for the love he had revealed in their hearts, and supplicated that it might be continued and increased, not only in their hearts, but also in the hearts of their brethren, the Friends, whereby they would jointly know, in the end, a place of rest, where love would prevail and have dominion. A Friend then appeared in testimony, which the interpreter repeated in the Indian language, and the meeting concluded.

At the house of another Friend, Papoonung spake with much freedom, and appeared in great tenderness of spirit. He expressed that it was matter of much sorrow to him that men should make so bad a use of the breath of life, which God had breathed into them, and which ought to be continually improved to his honor, and the benefit of man. It is not good to speak of things relative to the Almighty, only from the root of the tongue, for such words, to do good, they must proceed from the good principle in the heart. For many years he had felt the Good Spirit in his heart, but wanting to try and prove it, in order to come to certainty, he was kept in an unsettled state. About four years ago he received an assurance that love was good, and he needed no further inquiry about it, having no doubt but that it was the right way. In that way he had endeavored since that time steadily to walk. This spirit was a spirit of love, and it was his daily prayer to his Maker, that it might continually abide with him. When he felt it prevalent in his heart he was directed so as to speak that which was right, and prevented from saying that which was wrong. That by men not keeping to this love which our Maker has given in the heart, the evil spirit gets possession there, and destroys all that is good in them. This is the reason men dislike one another, grow angry with one another, and endeavor to kill one another. When we follow the leadings of the Good Spirit, it causes our hearts to be tender, to love one another, and to look on all mankind as one family. He added, when at any time a thought arose in his mind that he knew more than other people, a fear would also spring up lest this should cause him to fall backward in his religious progress, —which made him often pray to his Maker to keep out such thoughts, and that he might be preserved in love and affection to all men; that he might never slight or undervalue the poor, or the mean, nor set up the great ones; but be kept in that love which preserves the heart lowly, humble, and in a respectful regard to all our fellow-creatures.

(To bo continued.)

“Relics of the Past No. 39 – Life of John Papoonung” from The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal Printed by Joseph & William Kite Vol. XVIII No.6 Nov. 2, 1844 Philadelphia. Biography is based on original documents from 1744-1758