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Right honourable, nursing father,
Boston, June, 21, 1683.
OUR hungry alumni do still cry unto your honour for the milk of the word in the whole book of God, and for the bread of life which they have fed upon in the whole bible, and are very thankful for what they have, and importunately desirous to enjoy the whole book of God. It is the greatest charity in the world to provide for their souls. Should your honour please but to change the object of your bountiful charity from their bodies to their souls, here is enough already sent over to accomplish the work; they only stay for that word from your honour's fiat. My age makes me importunate. I shall depart joyfully, may I but leave the bible among them, for it is the word of life; and there be some godly souls among them, that live thereby. The work is under great incumberments and discouragements. My heart hath much ado to hold up my head; but doth daily drive me to Christ; and I tell the Lord, that it is his word, and your hearts are in his hand. I do therefore commit the whole to the Lord, and leave both it and myself to the Lord, who hath not left me wholly destitute. But I shall give your honour at present no farther trouble, for I am surprised with this opportunity of writing therefor, committing your honour to the Lord, I rest,
Your honour's to serve you
in the Lord,
Roxbury, November 27, 1683.
Right honourable, right charitable, and indefatigable, nursing father, LTHOUGH my hasty venturing to begin the impression of the old testament, before I had your honour's fiat, may have moved (as some intimate) some disgust, yet I see that your love, bounty, and charity, doth still breathe out encouragement unto the work, by supplies of four hundred and sixty pounds unto the work, for which I do humble thankfulness to your honour, and take boldness to entreat favour for two requests.
First, I pray, that you would please to accept an apology for my haste. I am deep in years, and sundry say, if I do not procure it printed while I live, it is not within the prospect of human reason, whether ever, or when, or how, it may be accomplished. It is Christ's work, and for the good of souls, which is my charge to attend, and run adventures to accomplish, especially when, divine providence brought into my hand some small encouragement to begin. But if this apolo gy be short (though capable of much enlargement) yet then,
My second humble request is, that you would please to draw a curtain of love over all my failures, because love will cover a multitude of transgressions. The work goeth on now with more comfort, though we have had many impediments, partly by sickness of the workmen, for it is a very sickly and mortal time with us, as also the rigour of the winter doth now obstruct us. The work goeth on, I praise God; the sabbath is sanctified in many places, and they have still fragments of their old bibles, which they make constant use of.
I desire to take boldness to propose a request. A vessel carried away a great number of our surprised Indians, in the time of our wars, to sell them for slaves; but the nations, whither they went, would not buy them. Finally, she left them at Tangier; there they be, so many as live, or are born there. An Englishman, a mason, came thence to Boston he told me, they desired I would use some means for their return home. I know not what to do in it; but now it is in my heart to move your honour, so to meditate, that they may have leave to get home, either from thence hither, or from thence to England, and so to get home. If the Lord shall please to move your charitable heart herein, I shall be obliged in great thankfulness, and am persuaded, that Christ will, at the great day, reckon it among your deeds of charity done unto them, for his name's sake. But I shall give your honour no farther trouble at present. I humbly request your prayers for me. So, commending you to the Lord, and to the word of his grace, I rest, Your honour's to serve you
in our Lord Jesus,
Roxbury, April 22, 1684.
Right honourable and indefatigable benefactors,
HIS last gift of four hundred pounds for the reimpression of the Indian bible doth set a diadem of beauty upon all your former acts of pious charity, and commandeth us to return unto your honours all thankful acknowledgments, according to our abilities. It pleased the worshipful Mr. Stoughton to give me an intimation, that your honours desired to know the particular present estate of the praying Indians; and also, when Moses's Pentateuch is printed, to have some copies sent over, to evidence the real and good progress of the work.
Your honour's intimation hath the force of a command upon me, and therefore I shall briefly relate the religious walking and ways of the praying Indians. They do diligently observe and keep the sabbath, in all the places of their publick meetings to wor ship God. The example of the English churches, and the author
ity of the English laws, which major Gookin doth declare unto them, together with such mulcts, as are inflicted upon transgressors; as also and especially, the clear and express command of God, which they and their children learn and rehearse daily in their catechisms; these all together have fully possessed and convinced them of their duty, to keep holy the sabbath day. So that the sanctifying of the sabbath is a great and eminent part of their religion. And though some of the vain and carnal sort among them are not so girt to it, as were to be desired, yet the grave and religious sort do constantly worship God, every sabbath day, hoth morning and evening, as the English do.
The acts of worship, which they perform in their publick meetings, are as followeth.
The officer beginneth with prayer, and prayeth for all men, rulers, ministers, people, young, old, sick, well, English or Indians, &c. according to that word, 1 Tim. ii. 12. I will that first of all prayers be made, &c. I say, the officer beginneth with prayer, viz. where they have an officer ordained, as it is almost in all the churches. But we have more publick assemblies, that meet every Lord's day, to worship God, than we have churches. There is not yet a church gathered in every place, where they meet to worship God and keep the sabbath; but where it is so, they choose some able godly man (the best they can) to manage the worship among them: him they call their teacher, and he beginneth with prayer, &c. When prayer is ended, they call forth such as are to answer the catechism; and though this is sometimes omitted in some places, yet that is the way they walk in, and it is often practised. When catechism is ended, a chapter is read, sometimes in the old testament, and sometimes in the new; and sundry of the young men are trained up, and called forth to this Service, sometimes one, sometimes another.
When the chapter is read, a psalm is sung, which service sundry are able to manage well.
That finished, the preacher first prayeth, then preacheth, and then prayeth again. If it be the day for the Lord's supper to be cele brated, the church address themselves unto it, and the minister doth exactly perform it, according to the scriptures. When that service is done, they sing a psalm, according to the pattern of Christ; then he blesseth the church, and so finisheth the morning
In the afternoon they meet again, and perform all the parts of worship, as they did in the morning; which done, if there be any infant to be baptised, they perform that service according to the scriptures; which done, the deacon calleth for contributions; which done, if there be any act of publick discipline (as divers times there is, there being many failures among us) then the offender is called forth (being with care and diligence prepared) and is exhorted to give glory to God, and confess his sin; which being penitent, they gladly accept him, forgive him, and receive
him. If it be not a satisfactory confession, they shew him his defect, they admonish and exhort him to a more full confession ; and so he is left to some other time. This finished, he blesseth the church, and so dismisseth the assembly.
Moreover, Major Gookin hath dedicated his eldest son, Mr. Daniel Gookin, unto this service of Christ; he is a pious and learned young man, about thirty-three years old, hath been eight years a fellow of the college; he hath taught and trained up two classes of our young scholars unto their commencement; he is a man, whose abilities are bove exception, though not above envy. His father, with his inclination, advised him to Sherburne, a small village near Natick, whose meetinghouse is about three miles, more or less, from Natick meeting-house. Mr. Gookin holdeth a lecture in Natick meeting-house once a month; which lecture, many English, especially of Sherburne, do frequent. He first preacheth in English, to the English audience, and then the same matter is delivered to the Indians, by an interpreter, whom, with much pains, Mr. Gookin hath fore-prepared. We apprehend, that this will (by God's blessing) be a means to enable the Indians to understand religion preached in the English tongue, and will much further Mr. Gookin in learning the Indian tongue. Likewise Major Gookin holdeth and manageth his courts in the English tongue; which doth greatly further the Indians in learning law and government in the English tongue; which is a point of wisdom in civilizing them, that your honours have manifested your desires, that it might be attended.
The places, where the Indians meet to worship God, and sanctify the sabbath, are many; the most are stated places, others are occasional. The stated places, in the Massachusetts, since the wars, are contracted into four, Natick, Ponkipog, Wameset, and Chachaubunkkakowok* The occasional meetings are at places of fishing, hunting, gathering chesnuts, in their seasons. Also since the wars, the Mauquaoys, making incursions upon the praying Indians, did cause them to make divers forts, to live safely in, and then they did there meet to worship God, and keep the sabbath.
In Plymouth Patent, there are about ten places, where they meet to worship God.
An intelligent person, of Martyn's Vineyard, reckoned up unto me ten places, where God is worshipped every Lord's day in that island. At Nantucket there be about five places of prayer and keeping sabbaths.
The reason of this dispersion of places of publick meeting to worship God, is this; there is but here and there a spot of good land, fit for planting corn, with accommodation of fishing; these spots of good land lie at a great distance from each other; some four or five miles, some eight or nine miles: some ten or twelve miles, so that it is impossible for them, especially with women and children, to meet at one place;
* Or Chabanakongkomun. See Coll. of Hist. Soc. vol. 1. p. 199. VOL. III.
therefore all, that live together at one place, meet to worship God on the sabbath day.
Thus I have briefly represented before you, right honourable, at your command, the present estate of the praying Indians, in respect of their religion. And what I have here expressed, for the substance of the things, I know them to be true, and I have often so practised among them.
By this it appeareth, that they are, in some good measure, able (by the light of the scriptures, and by the example of the churches of Christ, and by such instruction as they have had) to practise and manage the whole instituted publick worship of God among themselves, without the presence or inspection of any English among them, which is no small addition and advancement to the kingdom of Christ; and I doubt not but it shall add much comfort and joy to your souls here, and shall add much weight of glory to your souls hereafter, who have been so diligent, liberal, and constant in your supplies for the encouragement of this work of Christ.
And it is no small comfort to me, whom divine providence and grace hath made one of the poor instruments, to instruct and manage them unto this estate in Christ Jesus, whereunto they have attained.
As for the sending any numbers of Moses's Pentateuch, I beseech your honours to spare us in that; because so many as we send, so many bibles are maimed, and made incomplete, because they want the five books of Moses. We present your honours with one book, so far as we have gone in the work, and humbly beseech, that it may be acceptable, until the whole be finished; and then the whole impression (which is two thousand) is at your honours command. Our slow progress needeth an apology. We have been much hindered by the sickness this year. Our workmen have been all sick, and we have but few hands, one Englishman, and a boy, and one Indian; and many interruptions and diversions do befal us; and we could do but little this very hard winter. But I shall give your honours no further trouble at this time, only requesting the continuance of your prayers and protection. So I remain,
Your honour's to serve you
in our Lord Jesus,
The people of Natick have procured some friend of Sherburne, to draw up a letter to me, which I make bold to present to your honours view, being here enclosed. If I have been over bold herein, I beseech your honours to pardon me.