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Early Education in the Colonies

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Early Education in the Colonies

 

One of the first educational institution in our country was Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Miss Rosalie Slater in her works tells us that, not only did the Pilgrims provide for their own children but two of them worked for the conversion and education of the Algonquin Indians.  Below are excerpts from Miss Slater’s booklet, "Come Over and Help Us", as well as from her book, "Teaching and Learning America's Christian History" (T&L), wherein she tells about the Pilgrims and of their relationship with the natives of this land, the Algonquins.

 

From "New England's First Fruits", 1643, found in T&L, we read:

Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ at the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

 

Then, from the same source (page vi), we read:

The oldest extant document which, in type, clearly recognizes the existence of Harvard College is a precious pamphlet with this title, "New England's First Fruits" in respect to the Progress of Learning in the College at Cambridge, in Massachusetts Bay.... It was published in London in 1643, the year following the graduation of our first class of nine members... Rev. George E. Ellis, 1884, (the text from page vii T&L reads:)

"Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ at the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning." 

 

Again, we read, in regard to the work of Eliot and another missionary, Daniel Gookin:

This message was the impetus and life work of two remarkable American Christians of the seventeenth century. John Eliot; known as the "Apostle to the Indians" and Daniel Gookin, civil magistrate, military commander, and superintendent of the Indians, who worked for more than forty years to evangelize and civilize the Algonquin Indians of Massachusetts.!

 

Miss Slater adds to this report, from the prologue of her booklet, “Come Over and Help Us”:

"Until the last years of his life... (Eliot) preached and taught the Indians in their own language (and translated the Bible into, and wrote a catechism, in their language. Because he recognized the necessity of discipleship to help the American Indian separate himself from the life of the pagan Indian, he set up fourteen Praying Towns in Massachusetts. Thus the Christian Indians became self-governing and self-supporting... Twenty-four Indians became preachers and teachers of the Gospel to their own people. Many hundreds of Indians attended schools, some attended Harvard College."

 

Does this report from hundreds of years ago tell us something about what God expects of his children? It certainly challenges me!

 

"And though thy beginnings be small, thy latter end shall greatly increase;" Job 8:7

 


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