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ELIOT'S BRIEF NARRATIVE'
(1670) [John Eliot (1604-1690), “The Apostle to the Indians," came to New England in 1631, and began his ministrations to the Indians in their own language in 1646. His great work, the translation of the Bible into the tongue of the Massachusetts Indians, was finished in 1658 and published 1661-63. He wrote a number of reports on the progress of Christianity among the Indians, of which the Brief Narrative was the last. This pamphlet gives an interesting picture of the conditions of evangelisation among the natives at the end of the first generation of intercourse with the colonists. The movement which was so vigorously started by Eliot was checked before his death by King Philip's war, 1675-6.]
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFUL THE COMMISSIONERS UNDER HIS
MAJESTIES' GREAT-SEAL, FOR PROPAGATION OF THE Gos
PEL AMONGST THE POOR BLIND INDIANS IN NEW-ENGLAND. Right WORSHIPFUL AND CHRISTIAN GENTLEMEN: NHAT brief Tract of the present state of the Indian
Work in my hand, which I did the last year on the - sudden present you with when you call'd for such a thing; That falling short of its end, and you calling for a renewal thereof, with opportunity of more time, I shall begin with our last great motion in that Work done this Summer, because that will lead me to begin with the state of the Indians under the hands of my Brethren Mr. Mahew and Mr. Bourn.
Upon the 17th day of the 6th month, 1670, there was a Meeting at Maktapog near Sandwich in Plimouth-Pattent, to gather a Church among the Indians: There were present 1 The full title of this tract_was as follows:
A Brief Narrative of the Progress of the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England, in the Year 1670, given in by the Reverend Mr. John ELLIOT, Minister of the Gospel there, in a LETTER by him directed to the Right Worshipfull the COMMISSIONERS under his Majesties Great-Seal for Propagation of the Gospel amongst the poor blind Natives in those United Colonies. LONDON, Printed for John Allen, formerly living in Little-Britain at the Rising Sun, and now in Wentworth street near Bell-Lane, 1671.
six of the Magistrates, and many Elders, (all of them Mes. sengers of the Churches within that Jurisdiction) in whose presence, in a day of Fasting and Prayer, they making confession of the Truth and Grace of Jesus Christ, did in that solemn Assembly enter into Covenant, to walk together in the Faith and Order of the Gospel; and were accepted and declared to be a Church of Jesus Christ. These Indians being of kin to our Massachuset-Indians who first prayed unto God, conversed with them, and received amongst them the light and love of the Truth; they desired me to write to Mr. Leveredge to teach them: He accepted the Motion : and performed the Work with good success; but afterwards he left that place, and went to Long-Island, and there a godly Brother, named Richard Bourne (who purposed to remove with Mr. Leveredge, but hindered by Divine Providence) undertook the teaching of those Indians, and hath continued in the work with good success to this day; him we ordained Pastor: and one of the Indians, named Jude, should have been ordained Ruling-Elder, but being sick at that time, advice was given that he should be ordained with the first opportunity, as also a Deacon to manage the present Sabbath-day Collections, and other  parts of that Office in their season. The same day also were they, and such of their Children as were present, baptized.
From them we passed over to the Vineyard, where many were added to the Church both men and women, and were baptized all of them, and their Children also with them; we had the Sacrament of the Lords Supper celebrated in the Indian-Church, and many of the English-Church gladly joyned with them; for which cause it was celebrated in both languages. On a day of Fasting and Prayer, Elders were ordained, two Teaching-Elders, the one to be a Preacher of the Gospel, to do the Office of a Pastor and Teacher; the other to be a Preacher of the Gospel, to do the Office of a Teacher and Pastor, as the Lord should give them ability and opportunity; Also two Ruling-Elders, with advice to ordain Deacons also, for the Service of Christ in the Church. Things were so ordered by the Lord's guidance, that a Foundation is laid for two Churches more; for first, these of the Vineyard dwelling at too great a distance to
enjoy with comfort their Sabbath-communion in one place, Advice was given them, that after some experience of walking together in the Order and Ordinances of the Gospel, they should issue forth into another Church; and the Officers are so chosen, that when they shall do so, both Places are furnished with a Teaching and Ruling-Elder.
Also the Teacher of the Praying Indians of Nantuket, with a Brother of his were received here, who made good Confessions of Jesus Christ; and being asked, did make report unto us that there be about ninety Families who pray unto God in that Island, so effectual is the Light of the Gospel among them. Advice was given, that some of the chief Godly People should joyn to this Church, (for they frequently converse together, though the Islands be seven leagues asunder) and after some experience of walking in the Order of the Gospel, they should issue forth into Church-estate among themselves, and have Officers ordained amongst them.
The Church of the Vineyard were desirous to have chosen Mr. Mahew to be their Pastor: but he declined it, conceiving that in his present capacity he lieth under greater advantage to stand their Friend, and do them good, to save them from the hands of such as would bereave them of their Lands, &c., but they shall alwayes have his counsel, instruction and management in all their Church-affairs, as hitherto they have had; he will die in this service of Jesus Christ. The Praying-Indians of both these islands depend on him, as God's Instrument for their good.  Advice also was given for the setling of Schools; every Child capable of learning, equally paying, whether he make use of it or no: Yet if any should sinfully neglect Schooling their Youth, it is a transgression liable to censure under both Orders, Civil and Ecclesiastical, the offence being against both. So we walk at Natick.
In as much as now we have ordained Indian Officers unto the Ministry of the Gospel, it is needful to add a word or two of Apology: I find it hopeless to expect English Officers in our Indian Churches; the work is full of hardship, hard labour, and chargeable also, and the Indians not yet capable to give considerable support and maintenance; and Men have bodies, and must live of the Gospel: And what comes from England is liable to hazard and uncertainties. On such grounds as these partly, but especially from the secret wise governance of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Harvest, there is no appearance of hope for their souls feeding in that way: they must be trained up to be able to live of themselves in the ways of the Gospel of Christ; and through the riches of God's Grace and Love, sundry of themselves who are expert in the Scriptures, are able to teach each other: An English young man raw in that language, coming to teach among our Christian-Indians, would be much to their loss; there be of themselves such as be more able, especially being advantaged that he speaketh his own language, and knoweth their manners. Such English as shall hereafter teach them, must begin with a People that begin to pray unto God, (and such opportunities we have many) and then as they grow in knowledge, he will grow (if he be diligent) in ability of speech to communicate the knowledge of Christ unto them. And seeing they must have Teachers amongst themselves, they must also be taught to be Teachers: for which cause I have begun to teach them the Art of Teaching, and I find some of them very capable. And while I live, my purpose is, (by the grace of Christ assisting) to make it one of my chief cares and labours to teach them some of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the way how to analize, and lay out into particulars both the Works and Word of God; and how to communicate knowledge to others methodically and skilfully, and especially the method of Divinity. There be sundry Ministers who live in an opportunity of beginning with a People, and for time to come I shall cease my importuning of others, and onely fall to perswade such unto this service of Jesus Christ, it being one part of our Ministerial Charge to preach to the World in the Name of Jesus, and from amongst them to gather Subjects to his holy Kingdom. The Bible, and the Catechism drawn  out of the Bible, are general helps to all parts and places about us, and are the ground-work of Community amongst all our Indian-Churches and Christians.
I find a blessing, when our Church of Natick doth send forth fit Persons unto some remoter places, to teach them the fear of the Lord. But we want maintenance for that Service; it is a chargeable matter to send a Man from his Family: The Labourer is worthy of his Hire: And when they go only to the High-wayes and Hedges, it is not to be expected that they should reward them: If they believe and obey their Message, it is enough. We are determined to send forth some (if the Lord will, and that we live) this Autumn, sundry ways. I see the best way is, up and be doing: In all labour there is profit; Seek and ye shall find. We have Christ's Example, his Promise, his Presence, his Spirit to assist; and I trust that the Lord will find a way for your encouragement.
Natick is our chief Town, where most and chief of our Rulers, and most of the Church dwells; here most of our chief Courts are kept; and the Sacraments in the Church are for the most part here administred: It is (by the Divine Providence) seated well near in the center of all our praying Indians, though Westward the Cords of Christ's Tents are more enlarged. Here we began Civil Government in the year 1650. And here usually are kept the General-Trainings, which seven years ago looked so big that we never had one since till this year, and it was at this time but a small appearance. Here we have two Teachers, John Speen and Anthony; we have betwixt forty and fifty Communicants at the Lord's Table, when they all appear, but now, some are dead, and some decriped with age; and one under Censure, yet making towards a recovery; one died here the last Winter of the Stone, a temperate, sober, godly man, the first Indian that ever was known to have that disease; but now another hath the same disease: Sundry more are proposed, and in way of preparation to joyn unto the Church.
Ponkipog, or Pakeunit, is our second Town, where the Sachems of the Bloud (as they term their Chief Royal-Line) had their Residence and Rights, which are mostly Alienated to the English Towns: The last Chief Man, of that Line, was last year slain by the Mauquzogs, against whom he rashly (without due Attendants and Assistance, and against Counsel) went; yet all, yea, his Enemies say, He died valiantly; they were more afraid to kill him, than he was to die; yet being de-  serted by all (some knowingly say