Leland, Elder John (1754-1841), a native of Grafton, Mass., was brought under conviction for sin and also concerned in regard to the ministry in his eighteenth year, experienced a hope in Christ and was baptized and began to exercise in public in his twentieth year, was married in his twenty-second year, and, during the sixty-seven years of his ministry labored with his own hands, never soliciting money for himself, went forth entirely undirected and unsupported by missionary societies or funds, preached from four to fourteen times a week, from Massachusetts to South Carolina, traveling more than a thousand miles, sometimes on foot, but mostly on horseback, baptized 1,525 persons on a creditable profession of faith, only one or two of whom ever attended Sunday schools, faithfully preached the word unmixed with the doctrines and commandments of men, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, zealously opposed Sunday schools, theological seminaries, a salaried ministry and moneyed religious institutions endured great and numerous persecutions, was an earnest advocate of civil and religious liberty, wrote about thirty pamphlets and many hymns, and, it is said could never preach without getting into the third chapter of John and declaring the necessity of being born again. He preached in four hundred and thirty-six meeting-houses, thirty-seven court houses, several capitals, academies and school houses, barns, tobacco houses, dwelling houses and many hundreds of times on stages in the open air. In 1835, after the division with the New School Baptists, he wrote "I have been preaching sixty years to convince men that human powers were too degenerate to effect a change of heart by selfexertion, and all the revivals of religion that I have seen have substantially accorded with that sentiment." In 1832 he wrote to the Signs of the Times: "In these days of novelty, we are frequently addressed from the pulpit as follows: ‘Professors of religion, you stand in the way of God and sinners, give up your old hope and come now into the work God cannot convert sinners while you are stumbling blocks in the way. Sinners are stumbling over you into hell. Profane sinners, I call upon you to flee from the wrath, to come, come this minute and give your heart to God, or you will seal your damnation. God has given you the power and will damn you if you do not use it. God has done all He can, and will do no more. Look not for a change of heart; a change of purpose is all that is necessary. "Now," says Leland, "I have not so learned Christ. I do not understand the scriptures in that light It is not the voice of my beloved. It sounds like the voice of a stranger and I dare not follow it. The missionary establishment, in its various departments, is a stupendous institution. Literary and theological schools, Bible and tract societies, foreign and domestic missions, general, state county and district conventions, Sunday School unions, etc., are all included in it. To keep it in motion, missionary boards presidents, treasurers, corresponding secretaries, agents, printers, binders, teachers, runners, collectors, mendicants, etc.., are all in requisition. This machinery is propelled by steam (money) and is not run by the wind of Heaven. Sunday schools are very fashionable and are considered by many as the great lock-link which unites nature and grace. ‘‘In 1836 he wrote: "Would not a new translation of some passages in the New Testament, according to our present dialect and customs, be acceptable? In Matt., x, 7, read thus, ‘And as ye go preach to the people, your money is essential to the salvation of sinners and therefore, form into societies, and use all devisable means collect money for the Lord's treasury; for the millennium is at hand. In mark X:16 read, He that has attended Sunday schools, had his mind informed by tracts, contributed to support missions, and joined in societies to support benevolent institutions, shall be saved; the rest shall be damned.' I cannot in my brief space, mention but a few incidents in this great man's life, and call attention to but a little of his writing, but hope enough is given for the reader to clearly see where he stood in the division in 1832. The New School Baptists claim him, but their claims are entirely without foundation. The reader is referred to Hassell's History pages 622-628, and to the history of his life by Miss L. F. Green, if he should wish to further pursue the study of Elder Leland's history.
Taken from BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers edited by Eld. R. H. Pittman.