WHAT reader is there who has not read with avidity stories of the American Indians? Even to burning the midnight lamp when the rest of the family were asleep, then finding himself unable to sleep at the thought of the rushing horses, wild whoops, flashing spears, scalping, and other tragedies and atrocities.
Among the many different tribes, the most famous were the "Cree Indians" and "Black Feet Indians." Among all the notorious chiefs, none excelled Maskeptoon, or Crooked Arm, of the Cree tribe, so named because his arm had been so cut and smashed in warfare that it had become "crooked." Yet his lust of blood and battle was not diminished and he fought on.
To this Cree tribe, as to several others, there arrived a white man bearing a white Message of Peace from the Great Spirit. He had a wonderful Book with him, and read them portions telling how the Great Spirit, GOD, had loved them, and gave His Son, Jesus, to die for them, so that the Message of Peace and Goodwill might be brought to them. Maskeptoon and his chiefs listened with wonder, some of the men "believed" and were made glad, but Crooked Arm remained unmoved.
One day, however, as he stood with his warrior cloak wrapped around him, the missionary read the marvelous account of the death of Christ as detailed in Luke 23:25-46, (read it). When he came to the cry of the Saviour: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," verse 34, the Spirit of God carried the words home to the heart of the cruel warrior.
The reader pressed home the word by quoting the Saviour's own words: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15). Crooked Arm was completely broken down, went home to his hut, and had dealings with God, "who seeth in secret," (Matthew 6:4), confessed his many, many sins and sought and found forgiveness "for Christ's sake."
Next day a great muster of the tribe had been called to avenge the cruel death of the son of Maskeptoon. Months before he had sent his son, in charge of one of his most trusted warriors, to bring some horses from a distance. The vile man killed the son at a lonely place on the mountains, sold the horses, and returned with the tale that the son had fallen over some cliffs and been killed, and the horses had stampeded, so he had to return alone. Shady as the story seemed, the tribe had to accept it, till further evidence was forthcoming and the truth was known. The murderer having fled and gathered a band of wild men around him was known to be in the district, hence the opportunity for this day of revenge.
The missionary accompanied the warrior band, and as the two forces were about to meet, saw Crooked Arm draw his tomahawk from his belt, and with all eyes faced upon him, and all minds sure of a terrible scene of blood, he approached the murderer of his boy. But instead of striking the deathblow, as in former days, he declared: "You killed my son, and by all the laws of Indian tribes, I ought to have buried my tomahawk in your brains at this moment. But as the Great Spirit forgave me, and gave His Son to die for me, so I freely forgive you. But go away from me and from my people, and seek forgiveness for your treachery, murder, and lies from the Great Spirit himself."
After uttering these remarkable words his voice failed, his frame was bowed in grief, tears flowed freely, but his heart knew something of "peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:1).
He lived to manifest how true had been his conversion to God, and was killed whilst seeking to make known the Grace of God to fellow Indians of the Black Feet. So ended a life marred by sin, changed by grace, and terminating in the Glory of God.
Whether you are classed as one of the number on the Continent of America, Europe , Asia , Africa , or Australia , rest not till, like this noble chief, you know your sins forgiven and are sure of Heaven. Both are possible, and possible now, through simple faith in the Christ who loved you, died for you, and is waiting in grace for you to accept him as your own personal Saviour.
By Hy. Pickering