Here are some poems and books written in America by my great grandfather, Reverend John Wilson. Moses made me aware John was a Missionary in a strange land full of non-white people. He was a compatriot of John Eliot.
John ‘The Nazarite’
A song of deliverance for the lasting remembrance of Gods wonderful works never to be forgotten. Containing in it the wonderful defeat of the Spanish-Armado, anno, 1588. the woful plague, anno, 1603. soon upon the entrance of King James of famous memory, unto the Crown of England. : With the discovery of the Povvder Plot, anno, 1605. and the downfall of Black Fryers, when an hellish crew of papists met to hear Drury a popish priest, anno 1623. Also the grievous plague anno, 1625. with poems both Latin and English, and the verses of that learned Theodore Beza.
COnsidering how excedingly pretious the remem|brance of this heavenly man of God is (whose Poems these are) unto all that knew him, yea, and the thoughts of that sacred ashes locked up within his Tomb, the thoughts of whom is enough to cause Fountains to run over, and to trickle down mine Eyes, and the Eyes of all tender hearts that loved him, this emboldneth me to present unto you this heavenly Song. Endited by him, or rather the holy Spirit of God unto him many years agoe, hoping they will find acceptanec with you, os he had a fluent strain in Poetry, so how ex|cellent was the matter contained in the same, being full of Direction, Correction, and Consolation, suiting much unto spiritual Edification. What Volums hath he penned for the help of others in their several changes of condition, which if they were all compiled together, would questionless make a large Folio. How was his heart full of good matter? He was another sweet sing|er of Israel, whoss heavenly Verses passed like to the handkerchief carryed from Paul to help and uphold dis|consolate ones, and to heal their wracked Souls, by the effectual prisence of Gods holy Spirit. Seeing those are not so visible unto the World, he pleased to peruse these, redivived by this present Impression, wherein we may obs•rve what were Gods former mercyes towards his People in great Brittain, his wonderful mercy to King, Peers, and People, and unto our Fathers; when the Spanish Popish Plot was dashed in pieces, and the half Moon of their Navy, (whose horns stood seven Page [unnumbered] mile asunder) was shattred into Confusion. Gods Judgements also in the two dreadful plagues (which are mentioned in this Book) and Gods healing hand. The discovery also, and defeating the hellish Powder Plot. The woful downfall at Black Friers, where Drury with many of his Attendants breathed their last breath. What sayth Asaph, Psal. 78.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. I will open my mouth in a Parable, I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard, and known, and our Fathers have told us, we will not hide them from their Children, which should be born, who should arise, and declare them unto their Chil|dren, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God: but keep his Commandments: And what can be 〈◊〉 suitable to read over, then what is here presented. Considering (as h•retofore) the Devil with his Instruments have contrived to swallow up that famous Kingdome, and the Church of Christ in it, so now, are not all the Devils of Hell, with such whom they employ, busying themselves to batter down the walls of Zion, and to make breaches at the gates thereof, that so they might exe|cute the utmost Butcheries that can be invented, thereby to over|throw the Kingdome of Christ here on Earth in every place? but that God who hath been the refuge of his People hitherto, that over|threw the Egyptians at the red Sea, that destroyed Sisera with his Army, he can save his People now in all places. Only let us thankefully remember Gods former mercyes shewed to his people in both Eng|lands, really and unfeignedly repent of whatsoever we have provo|ked him with; Call and cry earnestly to him, and trust in the only Rock of Jesus Christ, who is our hope and Salvation for ever. Take in good part what is here presented to you from the Son of him who is 〈◊〉, so pretious a Father, who heartily wisheth your welfare, and the peace of all Gods Israel.
Yours to serve in Christ Jesus John Wilson.
John Eliot (missionary)
Widford, Hertfordshire, England
|Died||21 May 1690(1690-05-21) (aged 85–86)|
|Occupation||Puritan missionary to Native Americans|
John Eliot (c. 1604 – 21 May 1690) was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians who some called “the apostle to the Indians” and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645.
John Eliot was born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England and lived at Nazeing as a boy. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge. After college, he became assistant to Thomas Hooker at a private school in Little Baddow, Essex. After Hooker was forced to flee to Holland, Eliot emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, arranging passage as chaplain on the ship Lyon and arriving on November 3, 1631. Eliot became minister and “teaching elder” at the First Church in Roxbury.
From 1637 to 1638 Eliot participated in both the civil and church trials of Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy. Eliot disapproved of Hutchinson’s views and actions, and was one of the two ministers representing Roxbury in the proceedings which led to her excommunication and exile. In 1645, Eliot founded the Roxbury Latin School. He and fellow ministers Thomas Weld (also of Roxbury), Thomas Mayhew of Martha’s Vineyard, and Richard Mather of Dorchester, are credited with editing the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in the British North American colonies (1640). From 1649 to 1674, Samuel Danforth assisted Eliot in his Roxbury ministry.
Roxbury and Dorchester, Massachusetts
There are many connections between the towns of Roxbury and Dorchester and John Eliot. After working for a short time as pastor in Boston as the temporary replacement for Mr. John Wilson at Boston’s first church society, John Eliot settled in Roxbury with other Puritans from Essex, England. He was the teacher at The First Church in Roxbury for sixty years and was their sole pastor for forty years.
For the first forty years in Roxbury, Eliot preached in the 20′ by 30 ‘foot meetinghouse with thatched roof and plastered walls that stood on Meetinghouse Hill. Eliot founded the Roxbury Grammar School and he worked hard to keep it prosperous and relevant. Eliot also preached at times in the Dorchester church, he was given land by Dorchester for use in his missionary efforts. And in 1649 he gave half of a donation he received from a man in London to the schoolmaster of Dorchester.
Use of the Massachusett language
The chief barrier to preaching to the American Indians was language. Gestures and pidgin English were used for trade but could not be used to convey a sermon. John Eliot began to study the Massachusett or Wampanoag language, which was the language of the local Indians. To help him with this task, Eliot relied on a young Indian named “Cockenoe“. Cockenoe had been captured in the Pequot War of 1637 and became a servant of an Englishman named Richard Collicott. John Eliot said, “he was the first that I made use of to teach me words, and to be my interpreter.” Cockenoe could not write but he could speak Massachusett and English. With his help, Eliot was able to translate the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and other scriptures and prayers.
The first time Eliot attempted to preach to Indians (led by Cutshamekin) in 1646 at Dorchester Mills, he failed and said that they, “gave no heed unto it, but were weary and despised what I said.” The second time he preached to the Indians was at the wigwam of Waban near Watertown Mill which was later called Nonantum, now Newton, MA. John Eliot was not the first Puritan missionary to try to convert the Indians to Christianity but he was the first to produce printed publications for the Algonquian Indians in their own language.
This was important because the settlements of “praying Indians” could be provided with other preachers and teachers to continue the work John Eliot started. By translating sermons to the Massachusett language, John Eliot brought the Indians an understanding of Christianity but also an understanding of written language. They did not have an equivalent written “alphabet” of their own and relied mainly on spoken language and pictorial language.
An important part of Eliot’s ministry focused on the conversion of Massachusett and other Algonquian Indians. Accordingly, Eliot translated the Bible into the Massachusett language and published it in 1663 as Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God. It was the first complete Bible printed in the Western hemisphere; Stephen Daye printed 1,000 copies on the first printing press in the American colonies.
In 1666, Eliot published “The Indian Grammar Begun”, again concerning the Massachusett language. As a missionary, Eliot strove to consolidate the Algonquian Indians in planned towns, thereby encouraging them to recreate a Christian society. At one point, there were 14 towns of so-called “Praying Indians“, the best documented being at Natick, Massachusetts. Other praying Indian towns included: Littleton (Nashoba), Lowell (Wamesit, initially incorporated as part of Chelmsford), Grafton (Hassanamessit), Marlborough (Okommakamesit), a portion of Hopkinton that is now in the Town of Ashland (Makunkokoag), Canton (Punkapoag), and Mendon-Uxbridge (Wacentug).
In 1662, Eliot witnessed the signing of the deed for Mendon with Nipmuck Indians for “Squinshepauk Plantation”. Eliot’s better intentions can be seen in his involvement in the legal case, The Town of Dedham v. The Indians of Natick, which concerned a boundary dispute. Besides answering Dedham’s complaint point by point, Eliot stated that the colony’s purpose was to benefit the Algonquian people.
Praying Indian towns were also established by other missionaries, including the Presbyterian Samson Occom, himself of Mohegan descent. All praying Indian towns suffered disruption during King Philip’s War (1675), and for the most part lost their special status as Indian self-governing communities in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, in some cases being paid to move to Wisconsin and other areas further West.
Eliot also wrote The Christian Commonwealth: or, The Civil Policy Of The Rising Kingdom of Jesus Christ, considered the first book on politics written by an American, as well as the first book to be banned by a North American governmental unit. Written in the late 1640s, and published in England in 1659, it proposed a new model of civil government based on the system Eliot instituted among the converted Indians, which was based in turn on the government Moses instituted among the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 18).
Eliot asserted that “Christ is the only right Heir of the Crown of England,” and called for an elected theocracy in England and throughout the world. The accession to the throne of Charles II of England made the book an embarrassment to the Massachusetts colony. In 1661 the General Court forced Eliot to issue a public retraction and apology, banned the book and ordered all copies destroyed.
In 1709 a special edition of the Massachusett Bible was co-authored by Experience Mayhew and Thomas Prince with the Indian words in one column and the English words in the opposite column. The 1709 Massachusett Bible text book is also referred to as the Massachusett Psalter. This 1709 edition is based on the Geneva Bible, like the Eliot Indian Bible.
John Eliot married Hanna Mumford. They had six children, five sons and one daughter. Their daughter Hannah Eliot married Habbakuk Glover . Their son, John Eliot, Jr., was the first pastor of the First Church of Christ in Newton, Another son, Joseph Eliot, became a pastor in Guilford, Connecticut, and later fathered Jared Eliot, a noted agricultural writer and pastor. John Eliot’s sister, Mary Eliot, married Edward Payson, founder of the Payson family in America, and great-great grandfather of the Rev. Edward Payson.
Eliot died in 1690, aged 85, his last words being “welcome joy!” His descendants became one branch of a Boston Brahmin family.
Natick remembers him with a monument on the grounds of the Bacon Free Library. The John Eliot Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts, founded in 1956, is named after him. The liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) remembers Eliot with a feast day on May 21. Puritan “remembrancer” Cotton Mather called his missionary career the epitome of the ideals of New England Puritanism. William Carey considered Eliot alongside the Apostle Paul and David Brainerd (1718–47) as “canonized heroes” and “enkindlers” in his groundbreaking An Enquiry Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen (1792).
In 1689, he donated 75 acres (30 ha) of land to support the Eliot School in what was then Roxbury’s Jamaica Plain district and now is a historic Boston neighborhood. Two other Puritans had donated land on which to build the school in 1676, but boarding students especially required support. Eliot’s donation required the school (renamed in his honor) to accept both Negroes and Indians without prejudice, very unusual at the time. The school continues near its original location today, with continued admissions of all ethnicities, but now includes lifelong learning.
The town of Eliot, Maine which was in Massachusetts during its incorporation was named after John.