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New-York Missionary Magazine,
Repository of Religious Intelligence.
To the Publisher of the New-York Miffionary Magazine.
SIR, I send you for publication, a short account of Mr. Eliot,
who, for his extraordinary and successful labours in propagating the gospel among the American Indians has been called their Apostle. A complete history of Indian Miffions, from Eliot's time to the present, would be highly interesting and useful; it would be useful to those particularly who are engaged as Indian Missionaries. By shewing them the conduct and success of others, by teaching them from what sources they may expect opposition, and by giving them a knowledge
of the manner of the Indians, it would enable them to give a proper direction to their conduct; and, above all, by Mhewing the active labours of their predecessors, it would animate their own zeal, and prompt them to persevering
activity in their important work. Many pious and judicious men have despaired of any great
success from attempts to christianize the Indians. But, "Sir, we know not what extraordinary effects might (with the blesing of God) be produced from the labours of Misionaries pollelled of the talents, the piety, the flaming zeal, the industry, the prudence, perseverance, and bravery of an Eliot. Yours, &c.
HAMLET. New-Fersey, March 6, 1801. Vol. II. No. 3.
A short Account of the Rev. John Eliot, the Apostle of
came to New-England in the month of November, 1631, accompanied by a number of puritans, wlio Aed from the persecutions of their native country, and braved the dangers of the Atlantic, and the horrors of the howling wilds of America, that they might here attend to, and maintain unmolefted, all the pure inftitutions of the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon after Mr. Eliot's arrival in New England, he took the pastoral care of a select number of his pious friends, who, about this time, came from England, and settled themselves in the town of Roxbury, near Boston,
Mr. Eliot was eminent for his piety, zeal, and charity. As a minister he was laborious and faithful; his manner of preaching was plain and powerful, accompanied with gracefulness and energy. He would found the trumpets of God against all vice, with a most penetrating liveliness, and make his pulpit another mount Sinai, where thunderings and lightnings were displayed agaiost the breaches of God's holy law. There was a peculiar feryour in the rebukes he bestowed upon carnality, in the professors of religion; he was then a Boanerges, and spake as many thunderbolts as words.* There was usually in his fermons much of Chrift; he would inention that name in his discourfes, with a frequency like that with which St. Paul uses it in his epistles, and he could say with the apostle, I determined to know nothing but Jelas Chrift.
As a christian and a minister Eliot phone with peçu. liar luftre; but it is by the memorable titles of Evangelist, and the Apostle of the American Indians, that he has chiefly been signalized. In the discharge of thele offices, the energy and benevolence of his comprehensive mind had
* Quot verba, tot fulmina.
a wide field for their exertion; at once to civilize and christianize a race of men over whom the prince of darknels had an absolute empire, who were fierce and favage, who were grossly ignorant, and strongly attached to their superstitious customs, was a work of no small magnitude, and argued more than common sentiments in the undertaker ; but the faith of an Eliot could encounter it. It appears that no other beside the holy Spirit of God first moved him to the blessed work of evangelizing these perishing Indians ; but when the work was begun, he received considerable encouragement ; good men applauded the undertaking; the ininisters especially encourged him, and those in the neighbourhood of Roxbury supplied his pulpit, in part, during his absence. There was also a liberal contribution made in England, for the promoting of this pious work,-What appears, besides, to have encouraged Mr, Eliot in his undertaking, was the prosibility of the American Indians being the posterity of the dispersed and rejected Israelites, concerning wbom our God has promised, that they fhall yet be saved, by the deliverer coming to turn away ungodliness from them.* Not unwilling to believe this, the Indians were more beloved by Eliot for their supposed father's fake ; and the fatigues of his travels went on the more cheerfully becaule of fuch poffibilities.
The first step which he judged necessary to be taken was, to learn the Indian language, which he did, by hiring a native to teach bim, and, with laborious care and skill, he reduced the language to a grammar, which he afterwards published. Having acquired a knowledge of the language, he began, in the year 1646, to preach the
* He saw the Indians using many parables in their discourses, much given to the anointing of their heads, much delighted in dancing, especially after their victories, computing their time by nights and months, giving dowries for wives, and causing their women to dwell by themselves at certain seasons, and accustoming themselves to grievous mournings for the dead; all which were usual among the Israelites. He saw also the judgments denounced against the Israelites strangely fulfilled on the Indians, &c. &c.
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to these desolate outcasts. His firft discourses to them were well received; it was his wisdom that he began with them upon such principles, as they themselves had already fome notion of, such as an heaven for good, and a hell for bad people when they died. It broke his gracious heart within him, to see what floods of tears fell from the eyes of several among these degenerate savages, at the first addresses he made to them. Having begun this great work of teaching the Indians, incredible were the hardships he endured, in the prosecution of it. His own words, in a letter addressed to a friend, are, “'I have not been dry, night nor day, from the third day of the week, unto the sixth, but fo travelled, and, at night, pull off my boots, wring miy stockings, and on with
them again, and fo continue, but God steps in and helps. I have considered the word of God, in 2 Tim. ii. 3. *“ Endure hardships as a good soldier of Christ.”
It was one of his chief cares to bring the illiterate Indians into the use of schools and books. He quickly procured the benefit of schools for them, where many of them learned to read and write. Several of them received a liberal education, in the college, and one or two took their degree with the graduates. It was his chief desire, that the sacred scripture might not be hidden from them. He, therefore, with valt labour, translated the Holy Bible into the Indian language. The Bible being justly made the leader of all the rest, a little Indian library quickly followed. Primers, Grammars, the Practice of Piety, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, fome. of Shepard's works, with such Catechisms as there was occasion for, were printed in the Indian language.
The Indians, who had felt the impressions of Eliot's ministry, were distinguished by the names of praying Indians, and they were quickly desirous of a more settled way of living conforınable to the manners of the English. At several places they combined and lettled; the place
* This Bible was printed at Cambridge, and was the first that was ever printed in America.
of greatest note among them was Natick. Here, in the year 1651, they compacted themselves into a town, and first applied themselves to the forming of their civil government. In this Mr. Eliot affifted them, and on a solemn fast made a public vow, “that seeing these Indians were not prepoffeffed with any form of goverment, he would instruct them into such a form as we had written in the word of God, that so they might be a people, in all things, ruled by the Lord.” Accordingly he expound, ed to them the 18th chapter of Exodus, and then they chose rulers of hundreds, of fifties, of tens, and entered into a covenant to give themselves and their children unto God to be his people. On this occasion Mr. Eliot expressed himself in the following manner: “ God will bring nations into distress and perplexity, that so they may be forced unto the scriptures; all governments will be shaken, that men may be forced at length to pitch upon that firm foundation, the word of God."*
After the Indians had settled in their towns, they abandoned that polygamy which had been common among them. They made severe laws against fornication, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, and other immoralities. They were then desirous of having the.establishment of a church order among them, with the feveral ordinances and privileges of a church communion. This was granted, and Mr. Eliot administered baptism and the holy fupper among them.
Although Mr. Eliot had abundant success in his labours, yet he frequently laboured under much oppofition and hindrance in his work. The principal oppofition was from the Sachems or Indian princes. These, generally, did all they could to hinder their subjects from receiving the gospel. Mr, Eliot would say, “ Such Indians are naught, and the reason they are bad is, be
* This prophecy (if it may be called one), appears to be fulfilling, as far as it respects the perplexity of nations, and shaking all governments. The shock is felt in a greater or less degree in every quarter of the globe. Whether this will drive men to that firm foundation, the word of God, is yet to be known.