John Elliot: Apostle to the Indians

Americanist History, 1624-1655, William J. Jackman

The Puritans had long desired to carry the gospel to the Indians. John Eliot, the devout and benevolent pastor of the church in Roxbury, in addition to his pastoral labors, gave them regular instruction in Christianity. He learned their language that he might preach to them; he translated the Bible, and taught them to read in their own tongue its precious truths. This translation, which cost him years of labor, is now valued only as a literary curiosity; it is a sealed book, no living man can read it. The language has passed away with the people who spoke it.

This kind instructor induced them to cease from roving, and to settle in villages; he taught the men to cultivate the soil, and the women to spin and weave cloth, to supply their wants. He mingled with them as a brother; and though he met with much opposition from their priests and chiefs, he led many of them in the right path. His disciples loved him; his gentleness and goodness won their hearts.

As he lived, so he died, laboring for the good of others. In his last days, when borne down by years and infirmities, he said, “My memory, my utterance fails me, but I thank God my charity holds out still.” Even up to the day of his death, which took place when he was eighty-six years of age, he continued to teach some poor negroes and a little blind boy. To Minister Walton, who came to see him, he said, “Brother, you are welcome, but retire to your study, and pray that I may be gone.” Soon after, without a fear or a pang, the spirit of this good “Apostle” passed away; his last words were “Welcome joy!”

Source: Jackman, William J. “History of the American Nation,” Vol.1, Chp. 11 Colony of Massachusetts Bay, p.176 – p.177, Chicago, 1911.

Americanist History is a project of Self-Educated American. Compiled and edited (with occasional commentary) by Self-Educated American, editor in chief, Steve Farrell.

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