It is a matter of regret, that so few specimens of Elder Leland’s style of preaching can be offered to the public. Of the thousands of sermons which he preached, a very small number only have been preserved, and some, even of these, it has been impossible to obtain. The following syllabus of that preached in Philadelphia, on the evening of the 17th of April, 1814, (referred to on page – of the Autobiography,) was communicated, by one of the hearers, for the Memorial, from which it is here extracted. The author of the communication remarks: –
“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 spoke 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 which do not reach the heart of the sinner.’”
The text was in Isaiah, x., 27, last clause: “And the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” He proceeded as follows:
Without any introduction, I shall attempt to show 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 shall 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 n 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 Bela, defending themselves against the encroachments of the four kings, Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer and Fidal, as early as the days of Abraham. There were the five kings who confederated against Gibeon, whom Joshua pursued, and they fled into a cave – whom he caused to be 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 side Jordan, on the west. And the three score and ten kings, which Adoni-bezek had caused to have their thumbs and great toes cut off, and who 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 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 like their neighbors around them. Samuel was directed to anoint Saul, the son of Cia, to be 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, Rehoboam, in whose reign ten tribes revolted, and the kingdom was divided, and Judah had twenty kings, and Israel had eighteen, until they were carried captives to Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar. The whole period, from Saul down, being about five hundred 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 of 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 a 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 thraldom, 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 in the text – “the anointing” – “and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s Anointed One, 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 Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of the Medes; so that he was Medo-Persian, parta-king, part of both. So Christ possessed a divine nature, and partook also of the human nature. In Cyrus, the kingdoms of Media and Persia became united in one; so, by Christ, the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jew and Gentiles, 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 persons. 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 by 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 on the white horse of the gospels. Cyrus effected a miraculous deliverance for the captives in Babylon; 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.” 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; Christ was announced to proclaim liberty to the captives, and invited the laboring and heavy laden to come to him, and find rest for their souls.
Some of the Jews were contended 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, etc.
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 merit 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 much power, would to God they would employ it to purpose. That if a man would not repent, he should pay five pound; if he would not believe the gospel, he 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 in the state prison for life.
The power of the gospel consists in the authority with which its author 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, sinners are converted, and turn to the Lord. Great things have been achieved by the gospel, through the power of Christ. Witness its effects 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 endeavoring 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,” says the writer, “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, of 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.”
The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Pages 376 – 379