Oliver N Bacon.

A history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 6 of 22)
Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 22)
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or fifty communicants. In 1721, when Mr. Pcabody came to town,
there were no traces of it to be found. In the records of his church
is the following note from his pen : " It must be observed that, after
the most dihgent search and inquiry, I can find no records of any-
thint^ referring to the former church in Natick, nor who were the
members of it, or baptized, till my coming to town." The history,
then, of this first church, cannot be of greater than sixty-five years
in extent.

Although very few incidents relating to the church have come
down to us, still, from a knowledge of the times and circumstances in
which it had its being, we may know very well the principal events
attending it.

We know the anxious care Eliot bestowed upon it. We know
that, for forty years after its formation, he lived within fifteen miles
of its location, and ever considered it his principal and most interest-
ing church.

We can hear his fearless reply to the sachems who opposed him :
" I am about the work of the great God ; and my God is with me, so
that I fear neither you nor all the sachems in the country. I will
go on, and do you touch me if you dare." We can see him each
successive fortnight wending his way on horseback to his church, and
hear the welcome that greeted his coming.

We know that when King Philip's war broke out in 1675, and the
praying Indians were generally viewed with jealousy, Mr. Eliot was
their steadfast friend. We see him intercepting the captive Indians
at " the Pines," in Watertown, when they were on their way to their
island prison, and consoling them. He repeatedly petitioned the
General Court for their relief in matters pertaining to their lands,
and we have reason to believe that not until a number of years after
his death were the members of his church dispersed.

Mr. Eliot was often assisted in his labors by his son. His imme-
diate successor was Daniel Takawampait, whose gravestone is still
at South Natick, and who, by the testimony of Daniel Gookin, was
" a person of good knowledge."

Oliver Peabody was the first settled minister of Natick. He was
born in the town of Boxford, Essex county. Commonwealth of Mas-
sachusetts, in the year 1698. At the age of two years he was be-
reaved of his father, and the care of his early education devolved on


his pious mother, ^\'ho was not inattentive to the importance of her
charge. The youth was early made sensible that religion was the one
thing needful. The deep interest he felt in the cause of the Re-
deemer led him to seek an education that would best prepare him for
future usefulness, and accordingly he entered Harvard College in
1717, and was graduated in 1721, in the twenty-third year of his
age. He delivered his first sermon atNatick, August 6, 1721.

Immediately after he was graduated, the committee of the Board
of Commissioners for Propagating the Gospel in New England re-
quested him to be ordained as an evangelist, and to carry the news
of salvation to the heathen. This committee consisted of Honorable
Adam Winthrop, Edward Hutchinson, Esquire, and another from the
corporation of Harvard College.

This was the time when the French were active in stimulating the
Indians to commence hostilities against the English, and for this pur-
pose furnished them with provisions and Vv'arlike implements. The
consequent apprehensions of an Indian war led many candidates, it
is said not less than eleven, to whom the commissioners had made ap-
plication, to decline the offer. But such was Mr. Peabody's zeal in
the cause of his Master, that he did not hesitate to enter on a mis-
sion, though he was subject to the will of his employers and knew not
the place of his destination, but expected to be sent to a remote dis-
tance into the wilderness.

As the commissioners concluded to send him to Natick, a place
surrounded with settled ministers, and in the vicinity of the society
that employed him, they did not immediately ordain him, but sent
him to perform missionary service till circumstances should render
his ordination expedient. At that time there were but two white
families in town, though several other families soon removed thither.
Thomas Sawin, who lived where his descendants now reside, was the
first white family. David Morse, who built where Mrs. Gannett's
house now stands, was the second, Jonathan Carver built on the
island to the right of Dover street, for the third, and the fourth is
supposed to be a house on the site of the house now owned and occu-
pied by Mr. Luther H. Gleason, whose wife is a descendant of the
then owner, Mr. Eben Eelch, Mr, Peabody preached constantly at
Natick till the close of the year 1729, when a committee from the
Board of Commissioners and from Harvard College were sent to Na-
tick to consider the expediency of settling a minister and embodying


a cliurch. The result was that it would be best to embody a church
partly of English and partly of Indians, and set Mr. P. over them in
the Lord.

The 3d of December was set apart as a day of fasting and prayer,
when Mr. Baxter, of Medfield, preached, and embodied a church,
consisting of three Indians and five white persons. On the 19th of
the same month Mr. P. was ordained at Cambridge a missionary to
take the pastoral care of the church and people at Natick.

About two years after Mr. Peabody came to Natick, he married
Miss Hannah Baxter, daughter of Rev. Joseph Baxter, of Medfield,
a lady distinguished by her piety and good sense, by whom he had
twelve children, eight of whom lived to years of discretion. The
oldest son bore his father's name, and was ordained pastor over the
First Church in Roxbury (then Newton), in November, 1750, and
died in May, 1752. .The other two sons died when they were about
thirty, but the five daughters all lived to a good old age.

Though it was his grand object to bring the Indians by divine
grace, to the knowledge, service and enjoyment of God, yet he found
it an object worthy of great attention to induce them to abandon their
savage mode of living, and to make advances in husbandry and civiliza-
tion ; and so great a change was effected in their pursuits and man-
ners, that he lived to see many of the Indian families enjoyin"- com-
fortable habitations, cultivated fields, flourishing orchards, and their
manners greatly improved.

He embraced the religious principles of our Puritanic fathers, and
left abundant testimony in his publications and manuscripts, that he
had not so learned Christ as to make the precepts of the Gospel bend
to suit the vices of men. He was bold and zealous in the cause of
truth, but his zeal was not that of an enthusiast. It was an ardent
desire to promote the glory of God and the best good of his fellow
men. By his exertions many of them were taught to read and write,
as well as understand, the English language.

To such a pitch of refinement had some of them arrived, that when
Mr. Moody, from York, Maine, preached to them in Natick, and
used low expressions for the sake of being understood by them, they
observed that if Mr. Peabody should preach in such low language
they should think him crazy and leave the meeting-house.

The Indians, at the time of Mr. Peabody's coming to reside amono-
them, were much addicted to intemperance ; and he took great pains


to suppress this ruinous vice, and not without success. Guardians
were placed over them, and they became more peaceable, industrious,
and attentive to religious order.

Twenty-two persons were added to the church the first year after
his ordination, a number of whom were Indians.

In a letter to a convention of ministers in 1743, he observes: —
" Among my people (I would mention it to the glory of the rich
grace and the blessed Spirit of God), there have been very apparent
strivings and operations of the Holy Ghost among English and In-
dians, young and old, male and female. There have been added to
our church, of such as I hope shall be saved, about fifty persons, whose
lives, in'general, witness to the sincerity of their professions." Dur-
ing his ministry 191 Indians and 422 English were baptized. During
the same period 35 Indians' and 130 white persons were admitted
into his church ; 256 Indians died, one of whom arrived at the age
of 110 years. Though naturally of a slender and delicate constitu-
tion, he consented to go on a mission to the Mohegan tribe of In-
dians, but the fatigues he endured in the undertaking so impaired
his health that it never was perfectly restored. He lived several
years after, but at length fell into a decline, in which he lingered till
Lord's day, February 2, 1752, in t'le fifty-fourth year of his age.
He died with Christian triumph immediately after uttering the words
of the heroic apostle, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me
a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will
give me in that day."

In his last sickness the Indians expressed great anxiety for his
health and happiness, and tendered him every service in their power.
At his death they mourned as for a parent. His widow was after-
wards married to Deacon Eliot, of Boston,

Two printed sermons of Mr. Peabody's are extant, viz. : An Ar-
tillery Election Sermon, and one entitled, " The Foundations, Eflfects,
and distinguishing Properties of a good and bad hope of Salvation,
with Motives to excite all to labor and pray, that they may obtain a
well-grounded Hope, and some Directions how to obtain it. Consid-
ered in a sermon, the substance of which was delivered at the evening
lecture at the new North Church in Boston, on Tuesday, June 8,

A few introductory passages from this sermon will exhibit a fair
specimen of the author's style :


" Psalm 119 : 116. ' Let me not be ashamed of my hope.' As
hope and fear are the Uyo governing passions of the soul which ex-
cite us to action, so it is of concern to us to know how to improve
them so as to promote our happiness ; and as we should improve our
fears of the wrath of God and eternal torment so as to quicken us
to flee from the wrath to come, and to fly to the refuge to lay
hold on the hope set before us in Christ Jesus, so we should use our
hope with a view to this great end.

It is greatly to be feared that many have such a slender and
sandy foundation for their hope, that when they shall expect that
they are just entering into the possession and enjoyment of what
they hoped for, they shall find themselves mistaken and disappointed ;
which is what the Psalmist deprecates in our text.

Although he may in this have some reference to his hopes of out-
ward good things agreeably to the promise of God to him, yet it ap-
pears to me that he has respect especially to future and eternal things
in this pathetic prayer, — ' Let me not be ashamed of my hope.' "

Although no mention is made of the dissolution of Mr. Peabody's
church, yet it is evident that it was dissolved, as will appear as we
proceed in the history. In a communication to the Massachusetts
Historical Society, Mr. Badger, who was, for forty-five years suc-
ceeding that on which Mr. Peabody died, the minister of Natick,
says : " Immediately previous to my settlement in this place a church
was gathered, which consisted partly of English and partly of Indians."

Stephen Badger was born in Charlestown, A. D. 1725, of humble
parentage, as is indicated by his name being placed last in this class
in the college catalogues, at a time when the scholars were arranged
according to the real or supposed dignity of the parents.

He was graduated at Harvard College in 1749. On the 27th
of March, 1753, he was ordained by the Commissioners for Prop-
agating the Gospel in New England, as a missionary over the
Indians at Natick. The English inhabitants united with the Indians
and added to his salary

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Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 22)