abstract: Chamberlin writes of his religious epiphany.
handwriting: Handwriting is relatively clear, yet letter case (especially with regard to S and D) is often difficult to decipher. There are also many deletions and additions.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear.
signature: Signature is abbreviated.
noteworthy: The book that Chamberlain mentions on one recto is: Theron and Aspasio: or, A Series of Dialogues and Letters upon the Most Important and Interesting Subjects, in three volumes by James Hervey, London, 1755.
you wt I was latly mentioning of my Ex
periences since I left you laſt fall. I shall
uſe all poſible Brevity, and ye utmoſt
openeſs, in expreſsing ye Real Sentiments
of my mind, in ye Time of theſe Experiences.
to read [illegible], ⇑ye Letters on Theron & Aſpaſio wc servd me no other Purpoſe
yn to give me an invetrate Prejudice againſt
againſt ye Author of ym. when I was down laſt fall
I began to read him again with ye diſadvantage
of ye Same Prejud[illegible]ice I had before imbibed. I had
Time to read but a Smal part of his firſt Volume
before I began my Journey in Proſecution of my miſion
[illegible] among ye Natives, to ye Weſtward.
on his difinition of Faith. before I reached Albany it
once, and yt for ye firſt Time, came into my mind yt
ye faith yr Diſcribed, might be ye faith of Gods Elect.
I See yt in Caſe it was so, a Train of Conſequences wld
folow wh were Extreamly Diſagreable to me, yet in
some meaſure aprihend⇑ing ye Importance of my Knowing
the Truth, with regard to ye Nature of faith, I determined
[illegible] as Soon as my Buiſeneſs would permit to Examine
the Scripture thorowly on yt head. wn I got as far
as Kanajoharry I was obliged to waite about three Weeks for
a Road and Company to Onoida. Moſt of ye Leaſure I
had here, I Spent in Reading the Scripture with an
Intent to find out wt ⇑ye faith somuch Inſiſted on In Script
ture and by Divines, truly contains. Wn I come to
read ye Goſple of John, and other Parts of ye New Teſtament,
and to look Back to ye faith of ye Antiensts Quoated from
ye Old Teſtament, I became fully convincd yt the Word
moſt plain and commone Senſe; and yt [illegible] ⇑ye faith
uſed as a Synonimy with Believe; and So frequently
connected with eternal[illegible] Life, is a Plain, every-day-Belief,
of [illegible][guess: ye] Truths Record in ye Word of God. Having Got thus
far, I began to be greatly Exerciſed about wt, would be
my finale Exit, and eternal State in ye World of Spirits.
Life, to every one who believes ym. My firſt thought
was yt ye neceſary Truths muſt undoubtedly be revealed in
ye Word of G. in plain and intelegible Terms; but yn it
turnd in my mind yt ye Bible itſelf might be a fiction
me in belief of divine Revelation, and found ym Suf
ficent to Support me Still in believing, yt ye Bible is
in truth and reality ye Word of God. I now read the
Goſple of Luke; [illegible] I read it with Attention
and Eagerneſs, hoping to lite on Some Truth wh wld
Set me free, from yt Concern [illegible] & Anxiety reſpecting
my future Exiſtance wh was Such an Exerciſe to
my mind. I attended to ye coming of ye son of God into
ye World, his conduct in ye World, ye doctrines he preachd
, ye oppoſion of ye World to him on account of his con
duct, and Doctrines, and his finaly Suffering even un
to Death. my next concern was to determine certainly
and preciſly, wt it was he Sufferd for. I read ye Book
of Isaiah; the Law given at Mount Sinai; took per
ticuliar Notice of ye Curſes pronounced againſt every
offence, and turnd yn to every Paſage I could find
in ye New Testament wh gave any account of wt
Chriſt died for. at length, I came to this concluſion
yt Chriſt Sufferd ye whole length and Breadth of yt
Suffering wh ye Law threatend, for every offence
yt will finaly be forgiven. This concluſion im
mediately preſented to my view a Character of God
wh was at once amiable and awfull. amiable in
ys, yt he is so infinitly kind & compaſionate ⇑to his creatures, yt he
entertains thoughts of Pardon and happineſs for ym
[illegible] wn deſerving to ye laſt degree the tokens of his
eternal Anger and Indignation; and never puniſhes
ym for want of Benevolence. and awfull in yt
he never will forgive an Offence againſt his own
Law till ye Sentance of ye Law againſt yt offence
is [illegible][guess: forgiven] inflicted to ye full; and yt though his own
son is accountable for offences, he muſt for every offence bare
⇑[right]the full puniſhment
its own meaſures and never a Single [illegible] Creature
more is made miſerable, yn wt ye Law abſoloutly
Required in order yt God ye giver of it might remain
[illegible][guess: a god] a God of truth, and [illegible][guess: So Support his moral gvt]
So Support his moral government in ye univerſe.
I got now effectualy convincd yt nothing could be
more abſurd yn for me to uſe ye leaſt indeavour[illegible][guess: s]
to bring myſelf to procure the favour of god, or to
gain Acceptance to Salvation. I now realy believd
or I knew yt if God should puniſh me with eternal
miſery for every offence, to his Law, I ever had com
mited, And [illegible][guess: In] [illegible] [illegible][guess: Criſis,] nothing kept me from [illegible]
[illegible] it would proceede
from no other Diſpoſion ⇑contrary to that [illegible] he commands in ye
Law, viz, thou shalt Love they Neighbour as thy
self. In this Criſis, I found no other Reaſon to hope
for Salvation, yn barly this yt God diſignd to save
some Creatures of my own Character. nor did this
foundation, appear smal or inconſiderable, for
I knew, yt nothing but gods sovereignt had laid
this foundation, and yt ⇑nither I nor any of my Character
had ye leaſt Deſert in us of even this foundation
of hope. Here I hoped, and Still hope with trem
bling, and it is my glory and Joy yt a door of hope
is here Let open to me wh no man can shut.
yt I have crouded theſe things, [illegible]So much togeather
, yt some confuſion is created. If you read it and
can underſtand my meaning my End is anſwerd.
To Rd E Wheelock
April 26.th — 1766.
Rvd Mr Wheelock
Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.
Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.