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The Rev. James Manning, D.D.
Providence, August 6, 1791
By John Rippon, D.D

      On Friday morning the 29th ult. at four o’clock, departed this life, at his house in this town, the Rev. James Manning, D.D. President of Rhode Island College, in the 53d year of his age.

      He was born in New Jersey, and educated at Nassau Hall. Soon after he left College, he was called to the work of the ministry, by the Baptist church at the Scotch Plains, near Elizabeth Town.

      After making tours to each extreme of the United States (then colonies) and preaching to different destitute churches in sundry places, he removed with his family to Warren in this state, preached to the church there, and opened a Latin school. In the year 1765, he obtained a charter of incorporation for Rhode Island College, of which he was chosen president, in the year 1770, the College was removed here, and he came with it of course, where he has since presided, and till of late years preached statedly to the Baptist church in this town.

      In his youth he was remarkable for his dexterity in athletic exercises, for the symmetry of his body, and gracefulness of his person. His countenance was stately and majestic, full of dignity, goodness, and gravity; and the temper of his mind was a counterpart of it. He was formed

for enterprize, his address was pleasing, his manners enchanting, his voice harmonious, & his eloquence irresistible.

      Having deeply imbibed the spirit of truth himself, as a preacher of the gospel, he was faithful, in declaring the whole counsel of God. He studied plainness of speech, and to be useful more than to be celebrated. The good order, learning, and respectability, of the Baptist churches in the eastern states, are much owing to his assiduous attention to their welfare. The credit of his name, and his personal influence among them, perhaps have never been exceeded by any other character.

      Of the College he must be considered as the founder. He presided with the singular advantage of a superior personal appearance, added to all his shining talents for governing and instructing youth. From the first beginning of his Latin school at Warren, through many discouragements, he has by constant care and labour raised this seat of learning to notice, to credit, and to respectability in the United States. Perhaps the history of no other College will disclose a more rapid progress, or greater maturity in the course of about 25 years.

      Although he seemed to be consigned to a sedentary life, yet he was capable of more active scenes. He had paid much attention to the government of his country, and had been honoured by this state with a seat in the old Congress. In state affairs he discovered an uncommon degree of sagacity, and might have made a figure as a politician.

      In classical learning he was fully competent to the business of his station. He devoted less time than some others, to the study of the more abstruse sciences, but nature seemed to have furnished him so completely, that little remained for art to accomplish. The resources of his genius, were great. In conversation he was at times pleasant and entertaining. He had as many friends as acquaintance, and took no less pains to serve his friends than acquire them.

      His death is a loss not to the College or Church only, but to the world. He is lamented by the youth under his care, by the churches, by his fellow-citizens, and, whereever his name has been heard, in whatever quarter of the civilized earth, the friends of science, of virtue and humanity, will drop a tender tear on the news of his death.

      His amiable lady, the wife of his youth, and the boast of her sex, with all her fortitude of mind, which is great, must have sunk under the distressing loss, were she not sustained by Divine Grace. May heaven continue to support

her for earth must have lost its charms. Few persons ever enjoyed a more excellent constitution, or better health formerly, than the Doctor; but increasing corpulence gave him some complaints of ill health, of late years.

      At the last annual meeting of the Corporation of the College, he requested them to look out for a successor in his place. On the last Sabbath in April, he preached his farewell Sermon to the Baptist church in Providence; and on Lord’s-day morning, July 24th, as he was at prayer in his family, he was seized with a fit of the apoplexy, in which he remained mostly insensible, till Friday the 29th, about four o’clock in the morning, when he died.

      On Saturday his remains were carried in the College Hall, where his funeral was attended, and a prayer by the Rev. Dr. Hitchcock, and afterwards deposited in the north burial place in this town.

Order of the Procession.


      The funeral is thought to have been the most numerous and respectable ever attended in the town of Providence.

      The next day (Lord’s day, July 31) the Rev. Jonathan Maxcy, A. M. now one of the professors in the college, delivered a sermon on the mournful occasion, from I Corinthians xv.26. 'The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death.' The discourse closes in the following pathetic manner.

      "Will not this consideration afford us consolation for the loss of our worthy friend, whose death we this day lament? Him the last week lodged in the house of death. But though he is dead, yet shall he live. For his enemy, his last enemy shall be destroyed.

      To the mourning widow, the loss of Dr. Manning must he deeply affecting. The kind, the indulgent husband,

snatched unexpectedly from the midst of life, and health, and usefulness; torn from her bosom ; — he, her other half, the partner of her joys, the reliever of her sorrows, is now wrapped in the cold ground. Farewell, my friend : But must thou go? — O, my God, to thee, to thee, I yield! “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night.— The last enemy shall be destroyed.” Cease to weep. “Behold the upright, for his end his peace.

      The absent relatives will sensibly feel the loss of their friend and brother. In both these capacities, he sustained an amiable character. As a brother, he was loving and affectionate; as a friend, he was constant and sincere. But his kind offices will no more be experienced. Cold, silent, he lodges in dust. His enemy is now victorious. — But, “thank’s be to God who will give man the victory.”

      The death of our friend has intimately affected the interests of the College in this place. It has drawn the veil of sorrow over her windows, and hung her walls with sable weeds. A melancholy silence reigns through all her mansions, save when the plaintive voice of woe is heard at midnight; when the pale moon, obscured with clouds saddens the sky, and scatters her faint beams on the leafless oak of the mountain. — THAT SEAT OF LEARNING WAS the CHILD OF OUR DEPARTED FRIEND. IT LAY NEAR HIS HEART. His friends, the corporation, most sincerely lament their loss. God has of late called to you; once and again — and again.* Thrice has the pale foot of death stepped down among your number; thrice has his voice penetrated your ears: “Be ye also ready.” Though you suffer loss, yet ascribe thanks to him, “that was dead, and is alive, and lives for ever.”

      The immediate officers of instruction disburden their grief, and drop the friendly tear. Their faithful assistant in the labours of science is no more. But though he is a prisoner of the tomb, yet he shall be brought into the “liberty of the children of God. For the last enemy shall be destroyed.”

      The students perhaps at present suffer the heaviest loss. To you death has come near in his late approach. He has taken away your literary guide and parent. Will not the love you bore him stamp his memory on your hearts? Will not the recollection of his friendship gush the tear of affectionate
* Referring to the death of John Jenckes, and Nicholas Brown, Efquires, which preceded Dr. Manning’s.

sorrow, and sprinkle it on his tomb? Call to mind his anxious solicitude for your welfare; call to mind his readiness to accelerate your progress in the paths of science. Treasure up his wise instructions. As he was once young like yourselves, as he had trod the paths before you, he was qualified to give the best advice. Experience had taught him the difficulties you have to encounter, and the dangers to which you are exposed. Often did. he, with all the affection of a parent, recommend an unwearied application to your literary pursuits. Often did he dissuade you from vice. How earnestly did he beg you to fly from it, as from a most deadly enemy? How often did he urge you to maintain a fair moral character? How frequently did his fervent soul, for your prosperity, rise on the wings of prayer to the throne of mercy? If you will do justice to yourselves, if you will do justice to the kind endeavours of your parents, you will regard the advice of your worthy president. Let it sink deep into, your hearts, let it regulate your future conduct. The present, with you, is an important period. Your characters are now forming for future life. You know that vice and indolence will make you miserable; that virtue and industry will make you happy. Your usefulness and respectability in future life depend very much on your personal exertions. Lose not one of your golden moments. But amidst all your acquisitions “get understanding. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” Religion and virtue will add the lustre to all your literary acquirements. “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near while he comes near to you by the solemn voice of death. Improve this mournful scene of mortality to your own advantage. Be wise, be happy.

      The attentive gravity of this church and congregation, evinces that they sensibly feel the stroke of that enemy that has laid their friend in dust. He has been a “light to your feet” he has been a “lamp to your path.” To you he has been a guide in the road of life. Often did he come to you “in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” Oft did his tongue announce to you of glad tidings of great joy.” But alas! it is now silent for ever. Those of you who have been brought to the knowledge of the truth, under his ministry, must, on the present mournful occasion, be deeply affected. You have lost a father indeed. In his last affectionate address to you from this

place, when he bade you farewell, when he expressed the improbability of his ever preaching to you again, you could not restrain your tears. Sorrow, indeed, must now fill your hearts, because his face will no more be seen in the land of the living. Remember that God gave, and that God took away. Hear his voice — “Be still, and know that I am GOD.”

      The loss of this worthy man will be felt by the community at large. He moved in an extensive sphere. He was equally known in the religious, the political, and literary world. As his connexions were extensive and important, his loss must be proportionately great. As a man, he was kind, humane, and benevolent. As he was sociable, as he was communicative, he seemed rather designed for the theatre of action than for the shades of retirement. Nature had given him distinguished abilities. His life was a scene of anxious labour for the benefit of others. His piety and fervent zeal in preaching the gospel of Christ, evinced his love to his God and to his fellow men. His eloquence was forcible and spontaneous. To every one who heard him, under the peculiar circumstances in which he appeared in this place, it was evident that the resources of his mind were exceedingly great. The amiableness of his disposition was recommended by a dignified and majestic appearance. His address was manly, familiar, and engaging. His manners were easy without negligence, and polite Without affectation. In the College over which he presided, his government was mild and peaceful; conducted by that persuasive authority, which secures obedience while it conciliates esteem. As he lived much beloved, he died much lamented. Well may we say that “a great man is fallen.” O how is the amiable, the worthy, the benevolent, fallen! Though fallen, yet shall he rise; for his “last enemy shall be destroyed. The Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise.” Then shall the man be delivered from the “bondage of corruption,” to “shine like the sun in the firmament.” Cease then to mourn, dry up your tears; submit to Him “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty;” submit to Him who is “the first begotten of the dead, the Prince of the kings of the earth, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood;” to him let us ascribe “glory and dominion for ever and ever.” Amen.

[From John Rippon, D.D, The Baptist Annual Register, 1792, pp. 241-246; via Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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