« PreviousContinue »
FOR THE CONNECTICUT EVAN- | rica; and as the Parliament, the
Attempts to Chriftianize the Indians
in New-England, &c.
[Contin. from Vol. III. p. 448.]
ruling power, for a feason, after Firft, incorporated a fociety for the death of King Charles the this excellent purpose, and encouraged contributions through the kingdom for a permanent fund; juftice requires, that in fuch an hiftorical effay as the prefent, fome tranfactions; and particularly that account fhould be given of these
an honorable mention fhould be made of the fociety, who were
ed all the pecuniary aid in their Power to enable the New-English miffionaries to go on with the
Some account of the Society in Eng-, land for propagating the Gospel in New-England, and parts adjacent in America-Of the fettle-faithful to their truft, and renderment of the Indians at Natick, and forming themfelves into a body politic, under the direction of Mr. Eliot-They defire to be formed into a church; elders and brethren of neighboring churches convene upon the occafion, and examine their qualifications-The relation and confeffion of an Indian at this meeting-Rev. Richard Mather's remarks upon the appearance of the Indians at the time the council met to examine them.
work they had begun among the heathen, and were encouraged to profecute by confiderable fuccefs which appeared at an early period.
I do not yet learn who first made the propofal for collections for this good work; nor who first made application to the Parliament for incorporating a fociety, to whofe management the monies that might be collectS many good people in Eng-ed, fhould be entrufted. land were very attentive to the benevolent defign of propagating the gofpel in New-England, and parts adjacent in Ame
Mr. Hutchinfon* informs, that "befides Mr. Edward Winflow of
Hift. Maffa. v. i. p. 163.
Plymouth, (who was in London agent for the Maffachusetts) Mr. Pelham and others forwarded the collections in England: And July 27, 1649,* the Parliament paffed an act, or ordinance, for the advancement of this good work, the following breviate whereof was printed.
with that expedition as is defired, unless fit inftruments be encour aged and maintained to purfue it, fchools and clothing be provided, and many other neceffaries.
"Be it therefore enacted by the prefent Parliament, that for the furthering fo good a work, there fhall be a corporation in England, confifting of fixteen, viz. prefident, treafurer, and fourteen affiftants; and that William Steel, Efq. Herbert Pelham, Efq. James Sherley, Abraham Babington, Re bert Houghton, Richard Hutch infon, George Dun, Robert Tomfon, William Mullins, John Hodg fon, Edward Parks, Edward Clud, Richard Lloyd, Thomas Aires, John Stone, and Edward Winflow, citizens of London, be the firft fixteen perfons, out of whom the faid fixteen perfons, or the greater number of them fhall choose one of the faid fixteen to be prefident, another to be treas
"WHEREAS the Commons of England, affembled in Parliament, have received certain intelligence from divers godly minifters, and others in New-England, that divers of the heathen natives, thro' the pious care of fome godly Eng. lifh, who preach the. gofpel to them in their own Indian language, not only of barbarous, are become civil, but many of them forfake their accustomed charms and forceries, and other fatanical delufions, do now call of the Lord, and give good teftimony of the power of God draw. ing them from death and darkness to the life and light of the glori-urer.-They, or any nine of them ous gofpel of Jefus Chrift, which to appoint a common feal. appears by their lamenting with tears their mifpent lives; teaching their children what they are in structed themselves; being careful to place them in godly families, and English schools; betaking themselves to one wife, putting away the reft; and by their conftant prayers to almighty God, morning and evening in their families, expreffed, in all appearance, with much devotion and zeal of heart.
All which confidered, we cannot, but in behalf of the nation we reprefent, rejoice, and give glory to God for the beginning of fo glorious a propagation of the gospel among thefe poor heathen, which cannot be profecuted
*Morton's Memorial under A. D. 1649.
"And be it enacted, that a general collection be made, for the purposes aforefaid, thro' all England and Wales; and that the minifters read this act, and exhort the people to a cheerful contribution to fo pious a work. HEN. SCOBELL,
Cleric. Parlia." By act of Parliament, this corporation was called by the name of The Prefident and Society for the propagation of the Gospel in New-England: They were em powered to receive fuch fums of money as from time to time fhould be collected, or raised by the libe ral contributions of fuch, whofe hearts God fhould incline to fo glorious a work. It was by the.
* Morton's Memorial under the year 1649.
fame Parliament enacted, that the commiffioners for the united colonies of New-England, for the time being, by themselves, or fuch
as they fhould appoint, fhould have power and authority to receive and difpofe of the faid monies brought in, and paid to the faid treasurer for the time being; or any other monies, goods, or commodities, acquired and deliv. ered by the care of the faid cor
* As fome readers of this Magazine may not be acquainted with the hiftory of the union of the New-England colonies, and of the defign of the appoint-poration at any time; whofe re
ment of commiffioners and of the bufi
nefs affigned them, I fhall give fome brief account of the origin and defign
of this confederation.
The dangers to which the colonies in New-England were expofed from numerous favage tribes, as well as foreign enemies, firft induced them to think of an alliance and confederacy for their mutual defence and fafety: And they were prompted to complete the union feafonably upon having fatisfying evidence that the Narraganfets, a numerous tribe, were inimical to them, were plotting against them, and fecretly ufing
ceipt or receipts of fuch perfon or persons, fo authorized by them
The commiffioners were empowered "to hear, examine, weigh and determine all affairs of war, or peace, leagues, aids, charges, and numbers of men for war-and all things of like nature, which are the proper concomitants or confequences of fuch a confederation for amity, offence and defence, not intermeddling with the government of any of the jurifdictions, which, by a particular article, is reserved entirely to themfelves."
their endeavors with other tribes to form a general confederacy to extirpate the English. And the local fituation They that would fee a more particuof the planters in the colonies evidently lar account of this confederation may required such an union, as they were confult Mr. Neal's Hift. of N. England, fcattered over a large tract of country. vol. i. p. 223, &c.-Governor HutchinThe General Affemblies therefore of fon's Hiftory of the Maffachusetts, v. i. the four New-England colonies, viz. p. 124, &c.—and Dr. Trumbull's HifMaffachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, tory of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 125, &c. and New-Haven, by their commiffion--A brief account is contained in Secers, convened at Bofton, entered into a retary Morton's memorial, under the confederation for mutual aid and de- year 1643. fence against their enemies, and for promoting the general interest of the whole, both civil and religious. Accordingly articles of union were agreed upon by all the commiffioners, and figned by the commiffioners from three of the colonies, May 19, 1643. The commiffioners from Plymouth omitted figning them at that time, as their authority did not extend fo far. But being foon empowered by their Court, figned them at the meeting of the commiffioners in September following,
Two commiffioners were chofen [annually I conclude] by each of the united colonies: They had occafional, as well as ftated meetings. The union fubfifted, with fome alterations, until the year 1686, when all the charters were, in effect, vacated by a commiffion from King James II.-This confederation was of eminent service to the colonies in various refpects.
Thefe commiffioners of the united colonies were appointed correspondents and almoners to the corporation for the propagation of the gofpel among the Indians in New-England. They were to attend to the expenditure of the monies which the fociety fhould remit to them from time to time, to be employed in fupporting miffionaries; and to tranfact any bufinefs confided to them, relative to evangelizing the heathen: And after the grant of a new charter by King Charles the Second, the fame powers and traft were continued: This truft was held by them, till the charter of the Massachusetts was vacated. After that, commiffioners were specially appointed by the corpo ration, confifting of fome principal gentlemen of the civil order, and of the clergy in New-England; and vacancies by death, or otherwife, have from time to time been filled up.
fhould be a fufficient discharge to the faid corporation and treasurer. The first prefident of this corporation was William Steel, Efq. and the first treasurer Mr. Henry Afhurft. The prefident continued in office till the restoration.
By the authority of this act of Parliament, a collection was made in all the parishes in England. Letters at the fame time were published from the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge, calling upon the minifters of England and Wales to ftir up their congregations to a liberal contribution, for the promotion of fo glorious an undertaking.
*Great oppofition was made to the collection in England: and the converfion of the Indians was represented by fome as a mere pretence to draw money from men of pious minds. Such prejudices and mifreprefentations have been too common in the Chriftian world. The work of collecting went on fo flowly, that an attempt was made to raise a fum out of the army. Hugh Peters was one of the collectors: But the corporation wrote to the commiffioners, that he not only refufed to pay a penny himfelf, but difcouraged others, becaufe, as they fuppofed, he had no hand in laying the plan. [A cafe not unfrequent among high-minded men.] However fuch favorable accounts were, from time to time, published, that such a fum was produced by the collectors, as enabled the fociety to purchase an eftate in land of between five and fix hundred pounds a year.
Upon the restoration of king Charles II. in May 1660, the corporation confidered their charter as, in effect, vacated, being
Hutchinson's hift. v. 1. p. 165.
derived from the establishment of the Parliament. And another thing that embarrassed them very much was, that Col. Beddingfield a Roman catholic officer in the king's army, of whom a confiderable part of the land was purchased, seized it for his own ufe ; pretending he had fold it under the value, in hopes of recovering it upon the king's return.
The fociety met to confider what was proper to be done in this cafe; and agreed, in the first place, to folicit the king for a new charter, which they obtained by the intereft of fome good men; in particular, Lord Chancellor Hyde, Hon. Robert Boyle, Rev. Richard Baxter, and Mr. Afhurft. The charter bears date Feb. 7th, in the fourteenth year of his majefty's reign, A. D. 1661; and declares, conftitutes, and ordains, that there be forever hereafter, within the kingdom of England, a Society, or Company for propagation of the Gospel in New-England, and the parts adjacent in America; and accordingly appoints eight noblemen, and a confiderable number of gentlemen and citizens, to be the first members, and perfons, whereof the faid company fhould confift.†
The members of this fociety were not to exceed forty-five : thofe mentioned in the charter, and their fucceffors, to be chofen by the fociety, are conftituted forever one body corporate in deed, and name; and are to have continuance forever, with feveral powers, and privileges as ufual in fuch cafes: A power is likewise given them to appoint commifLioners in New England to tranfact all affairs relating to faid work in the colonies fpecified, or virtu
Neal, v. 1. p. 279.
ally included: And by the faid letters patents, the Hon. Robert Boyle, Efq. that ornament to true philofophy, and to Chriftianity, was appointed the first governor of the faid fociety.* This gentleman prefented three hundred pounds to the corporation, for the pious end of the institution.
The corporation being thus established by law, refolved to attempt the recovery of their lands. Col. Beddingfield, being favored by the attorney general, and fome other great men, put the fociety to no fmall charge and trouble, by prolonging the fuit; but at laft, it was determined in the court of chancery, in favor of the corporation, the chancellor declaring it as his opinion, that Beddingfield had not fo much as the fhadow of a title to the land, having fold it for a valuable confideration; and that, if there was a forfeiture in the cafe, it was into the hands of the king, who had fignified his royal pleafare, that it fhould be restored to the corporation, and applied to thofe good purposes, for which it was originally defigned.
on his decease in 1692, Robert Thompfon, Efq. was elected as his fucceffor; and after his decease, Sir Wm. Afhurst, Knight, and alderman of the city of London, was chofen to fucceed. Ín 1726, William Thompson, Efq. was governor. I have not feen a catalogue of his fucceffors.
The fund of this corporation was not large. Mr. Hutchinfon, when he wrote his history, which was published in 1764, eftimates the annual proceeds at fix, or feven hundred pounds fterling. Doctor Douglas, who wrote his Summary Hiftorical, &c. twelve or fifteen years before, obferves, "The whole revenue of the corporation is £500 to £600 fterling per annum.' Mr. Neal, in his hiftory, which was published in 1720, informs, that he was af fured, from the beft hands, that the whole revenue of the corporation had never then exceeded between five and fix hundred pounds per annum.
From good authority it may be afferted, that the revenue was expended with fidelity, and good judgment by the corporation, and their commiffioners. Dr. C. Mather‡ highly commends the fociety for their care and faithfulness :
The powers of this fociety were limited to New England, and the adjacent borders. Here they formerly maintained many miffion-"The estate and income was enaries, part English, and part In- trufted in the hands of an honoradian, to preach the gofpel to the ble corporation, by whom it is at tribes. They erected fchools in this day, very carefully employed proper places; and furnished the in the Christian service, which it children with catechifms, primers, was defigned for." Dr. Doug pfalters, books of devotion in the las,f a gentleman of information, Indian language; and with pens, afferts," At prefent, they [the ink and paper; and fometimes corporation] exhibit small, but with clothes. well placed falaries, to feveral mif
Mr. Boylet was for a long time
governor of the corporation: Up-churchman; and most of the inembers
were diffenters, or favorers of the cause.
Neal's history of New England, p. Hutchinson, vol. 1. p. 363.
Mr. Boyle was a very moderate VOL. IV. No. 1.