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Obituary of Charles Renatus Hicks

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Date: 1827 to 1827
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Surname/tag: Hicks
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The United Brethren's Missionary Intelligencer and Religious Miscellany

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Biography of our late brother Charles Renatus Hicks, Second principal chief of the Cherokee nation, who departed this life, January 20th, 1827, at Fortville, in the Cherokee country.

Our late Brother was born, December 23, 1767, at Thamaatly, on the Hiwassee river. His father was a white trader in the nation, and his mother a half Indian. In his youth, in consequence of a cold, an abcess formed in his leg, which induced him to go to South Carolina to be cured, where, under the blessing of God, he was happily restored. In the house of his host he acquired some knowledge of the first rudiments of science, which provided afterwards of essential service to him, when called to public offices in the nation. At that period already, as he often testified, he felt, when reading the bible, good impressions on his heart, which were never obliterated. In process of time he married, and lived very happily with his wife, the surviving widow, our Sister Ann Felicitas. Their union was blessed by God with five sons and three daughters, all of whom, together with nine grandchildren, are yet living. Being an upright man, possessed of a good understanding, and well acquainted with the English language, he was early employed in transacting national concerns. Thirty years ago he served in the capacity of an interpreter in the negotiation carried on between the Cherokees and the United States' government. Many years he filled the office of Secretary in the nation. In the year 1817, he was chosen second principal chief, and conducted the most important affairs of the nation with great fidelity and perserverance, assisted by the first principal chief, Pathkiller, who, thirteen days before him was also removed by death. The first acquaintence of the Brethren with him was formed on a visit, undertaken by the Brethren Abraham Steiner and Frederick Christian von Schweinitz from Salem, North Carolina, to the Cherokee country. Brother Steiner he ever after loved and esteemed as a friend. After the mission in Spring-Place had been commenced in the year 1801, he visited the missionaries from time to time, and proved himself to be their faithful friend. The gospel truths, as they were taught there, chiefly by Brother Gambold and his late wife, whom he always valued as his spiritual parents, and the instruments in the hands of God for his conversion, found entrance into his heart, and in him confirmed the truth that they are the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth. The word of the cross became precious to his soul, and in August, 1812, he made known to Brother Gambold his desire to be baptised. His wish was granted, April the 8th of the following year, when said Brother had the gratification to administer to him this sacred ordinance. September 7, 1814, having previously been confirmed in his baptismal covenant, he partook of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for the first time. Since his conversion he was deeply concerned for the salvation of his countrymen, and earnestly prayed for them at the throne of grace. The missionary establishments in the nation, were objects of his highest regard, and it was his delight to be of service to them. At the same time he did not forbear, as opportunities offered, to bear his own testimony concerning the atonement, and to direct his brethren to the Savior for the remission of their sins, and his testimony has not been without effect.

When he observed that civilization and christianity, that is, genuine faith in Christ Jesus and him crucified, and a consequent change of heart, went hand in hand, and progressed, he was highly delighted, and never was he happier than when he heard of the success of the gospel in the nation. But of this truth he was perfectly convinced, that civilization without true christianity, is of little moment.

He was endowed with a sound and correct judgement, and by means of his public offices, and much reading, he had acquired an usual fund of practical knowledge. The doctrines of Salvation, contained in the word of God, he understood well, and knew how to apply them to his own heart. He discharged the duties of his station as second principal chief with uncommon faithfulness and assiduity, even at the risk of his, at all times, feeble constitution. In all deliberations he investigated the subject thoroughly, was not hasty in his conclusions, and generally gave a correct decision. In important cases his advise was almost universally sought. The services which he has rendered to to his nation, will always be remembered, and long will the Cherokees speak of him as of a great and good man. About eight years ago national affairs caused him to go to Washington, the seat of government of the United States, and his exertions there were crowned with success. But on this journey, through a cold which he took, the abcess on his leg again appeared, and from that time forward he enjoyed few days of health. During the last six years of his life he could visit but twice here in Spring-Place; the first time on the occasion of the funeral of his beloved niece, our late sister Margaret Ann Crutchfield, October 22, 1820, and again, August the 12th of last year, when three persons received holy baptism. We visited him as often as circumstances permitted, in Fortville, and administered to him the holy communion on such occasions, which always refreshed him, and drew from him the most feeling expressions of gratitude.

Last autumn he attended the council in Newtown for the last time. On his way home he was obliged to encamp a night in the woods, when he took fresh cold, after which his strength decreased daily, and his complaint assumed the character of a dropsy. He at length was confined to his bed altogether, and suffered very severe pain. Two days before his death, being visited by our Cherokee Brother Samuel, after he had saluted him, he addressed him as follows: "Brother, I am glad to see you once more; my time, it appears, is expired and I must depart; I am not afraid to die, for I know that my Redeemer livith, I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. I trust in Jesus' merits and his blood, I am his, and he will receive me, a poor sinner; we must all die, we have all to travel the same road, dust we are, and to dust we must return, this is God's appointment; if we believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, who came into the world to save sinners, and ask of him the forgiveness of our sins, our souls after death come to him, and we inherit eternal life. The time is approaching when our mortal bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body, &c." After this our late Brother grew weaker, till he gently fell asleep, January 20th, at 2 o'clock in the morning, in the 60th year of his age. According to his particular request his body was brought to Spring-Place on the 22d, and having been set down before the church, Major Ridge delivered an impressive exhortation to those assembled, concluding with the wish, that all present would follow the foot steps of this good man, who is now with God. Brother Smith then spoke a discourse in the church, upon the doctrinal text of the day of our Brother's departure, the 20th, being John xvii. 2, in connexion with Luke x. 42.

After the Sermon we accompanied the corpse to our burying ground, where it was interred in the manner usual in the Brethren's church. Our prayer to the Saviour was, that he would grant us grace, to remain in close communion with him, and to live in reliance upon his merits, till our work here below be completed, and he call us from this vail of tears to his heavenly kingdom.

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