David Avery, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1771 June 6

ms-number771356

abstractAvery writes about his upcoming ordination and possible mission. He relates news of Occom and David Fowler, with brief excerpts of a letter from Fowler.

handwritingHandwriting is formal, clear and legible.

paperFour large sheets of paper have each been folded in half to make four pages. The address is on a separate, single sheet. The paper is in good condition, with mostly light creasing, staining and wear.

inkDark-brown.

Modernized Version Deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

  Rev. and honoured Sir, 
About three weeks past I received  Doctor Wheelock's letter, dated 22 of april; for  which I return a grateful tribute of Thanks. —  This was very timely, and gave me to  understand a little, though not fully, the Doctor's's  mind and pleasure respecting my Des‐ tiny. His other Letter, referred to in this  which I have, is yet on the way. —  It gave me the most sensible sorrow  to hear that all of my letters to Dartmouth  have fell short. — What is the mean‐ ‐ing 
‐ing of Providence in this I can't tell. — Have  wrote again and again, representing the State  of affairs in these parts, giving an account  of God's work in a particular Parish, and expressing  the earnest desire of that poor, needy, desti‐ ‐tute People that I tarry with them a  little while longer, that I may know what  my Rev. Patron would advise and direct to. —  I have been, and am still, exceeding loath to  do any the least thing contrary to his Pleasure  to whom am under the most inviolable  obligations, next to Almighty God. —  The Rev. Mr. Buell being in New England  I could not consult him 'til this week. Now 
I have laid before him my affairs and  taken his Advice in this case, which is,  That I tarry about two months on the  Island and then return to New Hampshire.  This advice I have concluded to follow.  Mr. Buell informs me he saw Rev. Mr.  Patten and Mr. Woodward, whom he  discoursed on the point, and they were  of opinion that it would not, likely, be  displeasing to the Rev. Doctor if I  should tarry for such reasons as he  gave them — (viz) My not being in a con‐ firmed state of health sufficient to go  upon an Indian mission in the 
heat of summer. — And the late happy  revival of Religion in Ketehebonack, which  appears to be a particular Call to labor  with them a little longer. —
(Blessed be God the Work still goes on  and there is a prospect of ingathering of souls.)  If I should go to Dartmouth now, by what I can  learn, my ordination could not conveni‐ ‐ently be attended before Commencement,  and without that I should not be prevailed  upon to take a mission.— Perhaps it may  be thought best this ordinance should be so‐ lemnized at that time when the Corporati ‐on shall be together; which I most earnestly  request  1 
1  request may be done; for I am much ex‐ ‐ercised about preaching barely by virtue  of a Licence.
With respect to my going under  Boston Board, I know not what to say—  I should, by all means, choose to con‐ ‐sult the Corporation on the head.—  As it is a very delicate point, so I shall  endeavour to manage it.— That Letter  not having come to hand in which  the Proposal was made, Rev. Mr. Buell  did not know what advice to give.  If by going under that Board I must in the  least break connections with him, whom  it is my honor to call my Rev. and Worthy Patron 
I could not endure the thought of it— but if  it shall be thought best, on the whole, to an‐ swer the general Design in view — it is likely  I shall be willing to comply with the propo‐ sal.— It has given me much of the heart‐ ache that some things are as they are,— but  God's Government is over all, according to In ‐finite Wisdom — the issue therefore must,  and can't but, be for his Glory; yea, for a  greater Display of Divine Glory than other ‐wise there would be if it were not for some  dark Scenes.. This consideration bears my  Spirits up, or it seems, I could not, at times, sub‐ ‐sist — Let Zion and her Sons, rejoice in their  King/ — The Rev. Doctor mentioned a pro‐ ‐posal 
‐posal lately made to him of my taking  a tour to Saint John's River this summer,—  and asked me what I think of it? —  If I knew what prospects there are of  doing good , — the situation  of the Indians — the air — accommoda‐ tions, etc. I should be better able to form  a judgment.— But as my health is  but low, being attended with a constant  Fever, much exposed to take Cold,  and unable to undergo much hard ser‐ ‐vice by reason of a weakening Disorder  which has long affected me— And  also as I have no companion to go as  a preacher with me, as I know of, or 
could likely be obtained this season, it does  not appear Duty for me to undertake the  journey at present.— My heart says 'Lord,  what wilt thou have me to do'?— Wherever  Providence gives the Lead, I am willing to  follow — but, alas! I know so little, or no‐ thing, how to read divine Providences or get  an answer to prayer that am afraid, many  times, I am not in the way of Duty —  It appears to me I should be the happiest  of many mortals if I only knew what God's Plea‐ ‐sure is respecting my situation and Destiny  in the world.— At present He is laying out  a great variety of work for me, the least of all  his servants, is it not Duty to perform it?  2 
2  Through Divine Favor, my health is in some  measure recovered — am able to preach  every sabbath and several Lectures.—  The awakenings in Ketehebonack  still continue in several instances,  though perhaps not so great as some time  past.... As I presume the Doctor has  before this time received my Letters  I need give no farther account of God's  Work in these parts, save that there  is, of late, a very great revival in  Southold‐Town, under Rev. Mr. Storrs'  ministry.— I expect to go there next  week, God willing— I find it a very great 
advantage to me to live here in this Day of  the Outpouring of God's blessed Spirit. —  When People's Ears are open it is easy  Preaching to them. — It has rejoiced  the hearts of many that God has revived  his work in the College last Winter— O,  what an happy omen for good! —
After I received the Doctor's Letter, I  sent a line to David Fowler with a Desire that  he would give me an honest, faithful account  of the late State and Character of Mr. Occom  and he wrote me the following —  —"I can't tell you any bad thing of him. —  He is, as it were, crying out to Sinners in a 
private manner — he don't preach  as yet, but I hope he will. He seems  to enjoy a newness of life again.—  He goes from one Place to another ex‐ ‐horting the People, that is, among  the Indians. — He has entirely aban‐ ‐doned spirituous liquors — he uses  none, nor keeps any in the house.=  I shall likely give you a better Nar‐ ‐rative of his Character at my return  from the main shore."
I know nothing, Sir, but what  this account is entirely just — But  nothing has been done to wash 
away his Stain in these parts, or in any other  that we have heard of.— Rev. Mr. Buell  heard little if anything about him   on the main. — Perhaps Mr. Woodward is  able to give a more particular account of  Mr. Occom than I can, and better able to  judge whether it will be for the Good and  honor of the Cause to improve him as a  missionary — it seems to be a very great  frown of heaven that his usefulness has  been prevented.—
David Fowler appears much as usual—  with respect to his being deeply humbled etc. I  am not able to say — he manifests a very  great regard for the Indian Cause — and has  some bitter reflections on his rash conduct  in  3 
3  in the wilderness.— I have not said much  to him about his conduct, because am  very ignorant of what the Foundation  or pretended foundation of it was. If  he was to see and converse the Rev.  Doctor, am quite inclined to think he  would make gospel satisfaction.—  His natural Temper is well known to be  violent and sometimes his passion  blinds his reason. — respecting him‐ self he writes me,
"If I can pay off my Creditors this  year I design to go off this Island next  year, either to Mohegan or the wil‐ derness: I don't think of going any  where this year."
East-Hampton judge he is very un‐ steady and fickle, roving and wandering 
But by converse with David, am of opinion his  unsteadiness was much owing to his too small  salary and the Indians living a good deal upon  him. — He does not keep the School at Montauk;  he thinks,"if he did, it would be to none effect —  The Indians seem to be cursed — they don't ad‐ ‐mire anything that would be beneficial  to them, either temporal or spiritual."—
Imagine if he should visit the Doctor it might  answer some valuable Purpose — accordingly  shall recommend it to him.— I can't  but think he means to act honestly — He is  now somewhat involved in Debt; but he  follows Fishery and hopes to raise something  on the land to defray his charges this sea‐ ‐son.— Thus, Sir, I have given the best account  respecting him am able to do.— 
If it shall be judged best to ordain me at  Commencement, would not the Doctor  think proper to appoint some of the  Rev. Corporation the ordination ser‐ ‐mon? — Would it please him to  pitch upon the Rev. Mr. Pomeroy?  But I mean not to dictate — shall be  perfectly well suited with Doctor Whee‐ lock's appointments.— If this Plan  should be agreeable to him, it would  lay me under farther obligations of  Gratitude, if by any means, I might  have intelligence of it — but am  afraid these Letters will suffer the same  misfortune as the other.—  It gives me unspeakable Joy to hear Mr. Ripley  is hopefully religious! If this is the case,  What extensive service may the Man of his  rare abilities do for God, if God goes with him! 
We hear the work of God is powerful in several  Places upon the Continent...
People are liberal and very kind to me in these  parts — O, how good is the Lord to the evil and  unthankful! — Oh! for an humble heart!  a meek and lowly spirit!— the Benevolence,  the Love, the Pity and compassion of Jesus Christ to‐ ‐wards dying men! — my Soul burns with  ardor to do something for my Maker and  Redeemer.—
The Reverend Mr. Brown gives very kind  and affectionate Salutations to the Reverend  Doctor Wheelock — He is a Father to me —  Please, Sir, present Duty to Honored Madam,  and continue daily to pray for,  Rev. and honoured Sir, 
  Your very dutiful  and most obedient  humble servant   David Avery 
Rev. Dr. Wheelock 
From Mr. David Avery  June 6. 1771. 
To The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock D:D.  President of Dartmouth College  In  Hanover
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