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... 319–350

A Serinon delivered at Boston before the Massachusetts Convention

of Congregational Ministers.




A Sermon delivered at Portland before the Maine Bible Society.

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A Sermon delivered at Portland before the Peace Society of Maine.

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IN a sketch of the character of President Appleton, prefixed to his Addresses, there is a reference to the sermon, delivered at his interment,* which “bad already been published at the request of the Trustees and Overseers of Bowdoin College, and would shortly issue from the press in connexion with his theological works.” It has not been thought best to insert in this volume the whole of that discourse. Extracts will be given from it, with some alterations and additions.


Jesse APPLETON was born November 17, 1772, at New Ipswich, New Hampshire. The genealogy of his father's family has been traced to John Appleton Esq. of Waldingfield in Suffolk (Eng.) who died in 1436. Samuel, a descendant from Jobn, of the eighth generation, came to America in 1635. A grandson of Major Isaac Appleton, grandson to Samuel, was Francis, the father of the subject of this memoir. He was esteemed a truly excellent man, pious from early childhood, of vigorous intellect, and of a remarkably calm, sober disposition. He died in January 1816, aged 83. A brother of Francis was a clergyman, of some distinction, in Brookfield, Mass. * Rev. Benjamin Tappan of Augusta, author of this Memoir


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It does not appear, that the early years of President Appleton were distinguished by any striking indications of intellectual excellence. He was much beloved, as an “ amiable, pleasant": youth ; but the impression was not received by those around him, that he possessed extraordinary powers, or was destined to future eminence.

He became a member of Dartmouth College in 1788. While at that Institution, he was “ diligont in his studies, amiable in his manners, and blameless in his deporlment” The year before he entered College, the attention of the students had been directed, in an unusual degree, to their spiritual interests; and the effects were still apparent in the solemnity and zeal, evinced at their religious meetings The mind of Appleton, already by parental counsels and example, imbued with a respect for christianity was now more deeply affected by its truths and obligations. · At what time he was made a subject of renewing grace, is a question, respecting which it is believed, he was not himself decided. He was not, indeed, accustomed, at any period of life, to be very confident of his own piety. The only evidence, on which he thought it safe to rely, was derived from “the perception in himself of those qualities, which the Gospel requires;" and when he compared his own attainments with the high demands of the Gospel, he could not readily convince himself, that he had passed froin death upto life."

On leaving College, he spent two years in the instruction of youth at Dover and Amherst. His situation, during this period, was not peculiarly favorable to spiritual improvement; and, though he was deservedly much esteemed by his pupils and associates, yet there was a want of constant devotion to God and religion, on which he afterwards reflected with deep regret.

Having completed a preparatory course of theological study under the direction of the late venerable Dr. Lathrop, of West Springfield, he began to preach in the summer of 1795; and such was the opinion, then entertained of his talents and piety, that some clergymen in Massachusetts, who did not consider bim, as according fully in sentiment with themselves, strongly recommended him to certain vacant parishes, as a candidate for settlement. After preaching about two years as a candidate, he was


invited to preach in the town of Hampton N. H. where in February, 1797, he was ordained to the pastoral care of a church and parish.

In this new and important situation, he proved a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. Much of his time was devoted to study: to study, not in name, but in reality. For "he bad that first requisite of all true and durable greatness, the habit of patient, long continued attention." Nor was his industry rendered fruitless by the want of system. He knew the advantages of method, and he conscientiously availed himself of thein. There was an order, a regularity in his various pursuits, that beautifully corresponded with the stricture of his mind, and the symmetry of his character. As the result of his inquiries he adopted religious opinions, differing considerably from those, which he at first entertained. At the time of his settlement his yiews were in accordance with the system of Armenius. Those, which he afterwards cherished, the attentive reader will find developed in this volume. The change was not hastily made, nor was it owing to any undue influence of the opinions of oth

" For authorities without proofs he had but little reverence.” He thought for himself and sought after truth with the most careful, laborious research ; always accompanied, as there

i is good reason to believe, with fervent prayer for Divine illumination.

His sermons, though free from all elaborate display of learning, were written with uncommon care and accuracy. Established in a country village, he found it necessary, if he would be understood, to use great plainness of speech. Superior to a foolish pedantry, and solicitous to be useful, he uniformly studied simplicity and perspicuity of expression. But his simplicity never degenerated into vulgarism. At an early period of his ministry, his discourses were distinguished by richness of sentiment, by strength and purity of style. It was his practice to write but one sermon a week, and to finish that before Saturday.

He was very attentive to his people, visited them often, and " always, as a minister.” Frequently when visiting his parishioners, and when visited by them, he spent a portion of the time, in reading some religious book; such as Doddridge's Rise and Progress.


It does pot appear, that his ministry was uncommonly successful. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. That he felt very deeply the importance of the trust committed to him, and assiduously and ably performed its duties, was doubted by no one that knew him. In all his intercourse with his people he was prudent, faithful and affectionate. Whether he ministered in the sanctuary, or taught from house to house, or dispensed instruction to children (a service, in which he peculiarly delighted) or conversed and prayed with the sick and afflicted, they were convinced, that he loved them, and earnestly desired their temporal and eternal welfare. They were not wanting in affection to him. Of this they gave abundant proof, while he dwelt among them; and after his removal, when he visited the place, they gathered round him, like children round a father. His coming occasioned universal joy: and they wept at every new parting. It has been said, that some of them were scarcely able to speak of him without tears.

He was much beloved by his brethren in the ministry; and was active in every effort to promote ministerial fidelity and improvement. At his suggestion, several clergymen in the vicinity were accustomed, quarterly to meet at each other's houses, for the purposes, of private fasting and prayer, and of free conversa. tion upon theological inquiries and official duties. At his suggestion also, a periodical work was published, entitled the Piscataqua Evangelical Magazine, to which he contributed several valuable essays, under the signature of Leighton.

He was regarded with peculiar respect by all the churches and congregations in the neighborhood; and, though at the time of his settlement, and during the continuance of his ministry, there was much unbappy division and animosity between the two societies then existing in Hampton, yet in view of both parties Mr. Appleton was constantly rising in estimation.

It has been remarked by one, who was with bim on several ecclesiastical councils, and on some occasions, when the cases, under deliberation, were unusually difficult, that “his discernment, discretion, and decision were always conspicuous." By these qualities, indeed, he was uniformly distinguished. A superficial observer might not always bave thought him very quick of ap


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