Baptist History Homepage

Syllabus of a Sermon by Elder John Leland
The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, 1842

     Messes. Editors - In the May (1842) number of the Memorial, I find a short sketch of the life of the venerable and eccentric Leland; and
[p. 377]
it is there observed that in December, 1813, he took a journey to Virginia, and was absent from home five or six months. He returned through Philadelphia, the following spring, and in the evening of the 17th of April, he preached in the Baptist Meeting-house, in Sanson-street. I arrived in the city that evening, in order to attend the First Baptist Missionary Convention, which was to convene the day following. Hearing that he was to preach there, I went to hear him; as I had heard much about him, I expected, of course, to hear something a little out of the common track of preaching. There were a large assemblage of people and a number of ministering brethren, who had repaired to the city for the same purpose with myself.

     After singing, he engaged in prayer, which was devout, interspersed with some phrases, that I had not been accustomed to hear. One was — while adoring Jehovah for his divine perfections, and admiring his condescension to sinful, mortal worms, in bowing his ear to their supplications, he spake of the privilege, importance and efficacy of fervent, humble prayer, and added, "It is a long prayer that reaches heaven, and a long sermon that reaches the heart of the sinner, and all prayers are too short which do not reach heaven, and all sermons are too short if they do not reach the heart of the sinner."

     He named his text. Isaiah x, 27, last clause, "And the yoke shall be destroyed, because of the anointing." He then proceeded as follows: —

     Without any introduction, I shall attempt to shew what we are to understand by the yoke - by whom it was imposed — upon whom laid, and lastly, how it was destroyed. After which I will put an evangelical culture upon it.

     By the yoke, several things in scripture are represented - the yoke of legal ceremonies - the yoke of afflictions — the yoke of chastisement for sin — the yoke of profession, but that which is particularly intended in the text, is the yoke of bondage or slavery. In every age the tragedy is upon record, that the fortune of war, has laid one party tributary to the other; the weaker to the stronger. As the world advanced in age, it advanced in pride and wickedness, and men were disposed to assume power and authority over man. Ever since the days of Nimrod, the mighty hunter, who is supposed to be the first to set up a separate kingdom, there have been kings on the earth, ruling with a rod of iron, and swaying their sceptres over an enslaved people, and putting the yoke on their necks. Kings multiplied, and soon became very numerous; for we read of the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Bella, defending themselves against the encroachments of the four kings, Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer and Tidal, as early as the days of Abraham. These were the five kings who confederated against Gibeon, whom Joshua pursued, and they fled into a cave, whom he caused to he brought out, and all the men of Israel were commanded to put their feet upon their necks, after which he slew them. And also, of the thirty and one kings which Joshua and the people of Israel smote on this Jordan on the West. And the threescore and ten kings which Adonihezek had caused to have their thumbs and their great toes cut off, and gathered their meat under his table. And while the nations of the earth had their kings and nobles and mighty men of valor, the tribes of Israel thought they must be like the nations around them; they wanted a king to rule over them, and although Samuel expostulated with them, and described the manner of a king they might expect, yet they insisted upon having a king: very like the people now-a-days, they form societies and they must have a president and two or three vice-presidents, to be like their neighbors around them. Samuel was directed to anoint Saul, the son of Cis, to he their king, who was head and shoulders higher than any of the people. After him, the stripling David, who was a man after God's own heart: then his son Solomon, renowned for wisdom, who was succeeded by his son Rehohoam, and in whose reign ten tribes revolted and the kingdom was divided, and Judah had twenty kings, and Israel eighteen, until they were carried captives to Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar. The whole period from Saul down, being about 500 years, during which time there were two and forty kings, besides an interregnum of ten or eleven years, and Queen Athaliah, who reigned six years. The period of their captivity was seventy years, according to Jeremiah's prediction; so that the Jews were put under the yoke to Nebuchadnezzar and other kings of Babylon and Chaldea.

     We come now to show how the yoke was destroyed, because of the anointing. Cyrus was foretold by this same prophet, upwards of an hundred years before he was born, that he should be the deliverer of the Jews out of their captivity, and at the time specified, he opened the two leaved gates and entered the city, the same night in which Belshazzar was feasting with his princes, his wives and his concubines, where the hand appeared writing upon the wall, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin," and in that same night was Belshazzar slain, and the deliverance of the Jews was effected and the yoke destroyed.

     I proceed now to put an evangelical culture upon it. Man, though made upright, was deceived by the subtle serpent, and enslaved, and brought under the yoke, and is in bondage to sin, Satan and the law, and consequently left in a wretched, forlorn condition, and without any power to deliver himself from that state of thraldrom, but must forever lie under the curse of God's righteous law which he had violated, had not God of his mercy and grace provided a deliverer, which is described

[p. 378]
in the text, "the anointing," "and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." The Lord Jesus Christ is God's anointed one, and whose coming was foretold, hundreds of years before his nativity, as that of Cyrus was told many years before he was born. Cyrus's father was Cambyses, king of Persia; and his mother was Astyages, king of Media, so that he was a Medio-Persian, partaking part of both. So Christ possessed a divine nature, anil partook also of the human nature. In Cyrus the kingdoms of Media and Persia hpcame united in one, so by Christ the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jew and Gentile; and believers of all nations are united in one kingdom and under one head, even Jesus. Many marvellous things are said to have been foretold concerning Cyrus, whether true or fabulous. I leave; but many very wonderful things were foretold concerning Jesus Christ, which really came to pass. It is said that Cyrus was much exposed in his infancy - so Christ was much exposed in his infancy. Cyrus was foretold as God's anointed - so Christ was emphatically the Lord's anointed. Cyrus was called by his name by the prophet - so Christ, the true Messiah, was designated by many glorious names and titles which meet in no other person. Cyrus was a great commander — so Christ is given to be a leader and commander of the people; he is wise in his counsels, and commands with authority. Cyrus, it is said, knew all his soldiers hy name — so Christ knows all his people, and calleth them by name. Cyrus is called God's shepherd — Christ is God's shepherd, and is called the great shepherd and bishop of souls. It is said that Cyrus rode on a white horse — so Christ rides ün the white horse of the Gospel. Cyrus effected a miraculous deliverance for the captives in Baylon. The Lord Jesus Christ effected a much greater deliverance for his people, and in the most wonderful manner, "He, through death, conquered him that had the power of death," &c. Cyrus made proclamation to the Jews, that deliverance was wrought, and they were at liberty to return to their own land and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, &c. Christ was anointed to proclaim liberty to the captives, and invites the laboring and heavy laden to come to him and find rest for their souls.

     Some of the Jews were contented in Chaldea, and did not choose to regard the proclamation to return. So many poor sinners are contented in their bondage, and disregard the proclamation of the Gospel, &c.

     I come now to show more particularly how the yoke is destroyed, "because of the anointing." Christ delivers by power as well as by price. There is no intrinsic power in the Gospel, in and of itself, to convert sinners, but by the power of the Spirit accompanying the word. Men sometimes profess to have great power; they will make laws to fine and imprison people if they will not have their children christened, or if they will not pay towards building meeting-houses or the support of the ministry, or if they refuse attending a place of worship. If they possess so mucli power, would to God they would employ it to a purpose. That if a man would not repent, he should pay five pounds — if he would not believe the Gospel, be should pay ten — if he would not love the Lord Jesus Christ, with all his heart, might, soul and strength, he should pay fifteen — and if he would not deny himself, take up his cross and follow the Saviour, he should be put into States prison for life. The power of the Gospel consists in the authority with which its anihor is invested, who said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth." Christ promised to be with his faithful servants unto the end of the world. When he sent out his disciples by two and two, he sent them into the towns, cities and villages, whither he himself would come. So he sends his Holy Spirit with his word to convince of sin, to discover the glories and fulness of Christ, to apply the blood of sprinkling to the wounded conscience, to lead the soul to Christ and to his precious promises. He is also a spirit of prayer and of supplication, as well as a spirit of grace to sanctify and prepare his people for glory. God is always as good as his word, and his promises never fail: his word that goeth forth out of his mouth, shall prosper in the thing whereto it is sent. So when the Gospel is preached in its purity, these sinners are converted and turn to the Lord. Great things have been achieved by the Gospel, through the power of Christ. Witness its effect on the day of Pentecost, and during the apostolic age, and in subsequent periods down to the present time. There is still the same promise and the same power, and Christ is riding forth majestically in the Gospel chariot, from conquering to conquer. I have been endeavouring to recommend this Gospel for nearly forty years, and have not grown weary in the service, and I have witnessed the truth of God's word in the conversion of many precious souls to the obedience of faith, to God be all the glory, amen.


     The foregoing is but a sketch of the discourse which occupied nearly an hour in the delivery, in a few places I have employed words to fill up the skeleton that the thread may not be broken, but by far the greater part, the language is verbatim as delivered, and the sentiments and train are Leland's, particularly in the history of the kings. — Joseph Mathias


[From The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, December, 1842, pp. 376-378. Document from Google Books. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More on John Leland
Baptist History Homepage