John Emery Abbot.

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ess of Isaac R. «»tt«.


The present publication has been undertaken
by two of the friends of the lamented author, not
simply with a view of preserving some memorial
of a man singularly beloved, but yet more with
the hope of advancing the cause of virtue and
rehgion by a volume calculated to aid and instruct
serious inquirers after duty and God. At a period
like the present, when the taste for what is stirring
and exciting has become so prevalent, it is not
improbable that the tone of this volume may ap-
pear to many too calm and unimpassioned ; but it
is not doubted that there are also many, who will
give it the heartier welcome because it breathes
only of " the gentleness of Christ," and is so far
removed from the violent and exaggerated lan-
guage, which has too much crept into the theol-
ogy as well as the literature of the day. At any
rate, the Editor cannot persuade himself, that such


a volume as this can be otherwise than most ac-
ceptable to those who are engaged in the culti-
vation of the religious character, and solicitous
for the means of advancing themselves in the
peculiar temper of the gospel. It is not offered
to critical readers, who are seeking an intellectual
refreshment, but to those who will keep it in their
closets as the companion of their holier hours,
and the aid of their devout aspirations.

It will be perceived, that only a portion of the
volume is constituted of complete discourses, and
that the remainder consists of select passages
from sermons of which it was not advisable to
print the whole. By this means a greater variety
of topics has been introduced, and the volume, it
is thought, rendered more valuable.

The Memoir was originally written for the
Christian Disciple, and is now republished with
additions. These are principally extracts from
letters, and from a journal kept at Havana.

Boston, March 10, 1829.


PI ox.

Memoir, . ix

Seriousness, ....... 9


The Love of God, 25


Religious Sincerity, ...... 38


Religious Improvement, 51


The Piety of our Saviour, . . . .61


The Saviour tried as we are, . . . .76


The Ascension of Christ, 88


The Golden Rule, 100




Obligation and Opportunities to do Good, . . 114


Causing others to offend, 130

Religious Education, 143

Resignation, 160


Judging of Characters by the Manner of Death, . 172


Knowledge of one another in a Future State, . 189


Difficulties of the Ministry, .... 203


Duties of a People, 219


A Worldly Temper unfavorable to the Cul

Piety, ....

Dangers of a Life of Business, .
Necessity of Spiritual Affections,
Devotion, . . . .

Private Prayer,

vation ol





Private Prayer a Preparation for Social Worship

Practical Influence of Prayer,

The proper Objects of Prayer, .

The Manner in which Prayer should be performed

Answers to Prayer, ....

The Lord's Supper,

Observance of the Lord's Supper,

Interest of Christians in each other,

True and False Zeal. ...

False and True Humility,


Dangers from Within to be guarded against

Danger of habitual Indulgence in one Sin,

Encouragement in Religious Weakness,

The Bondage of Sin,

The Pleasures of Sin,

Government of the Temper,

Evil Speaking, ....

Profaneness, .....

Excuses for Profaneness, .

Early Religious Instruction. — To Parents,

Religion designed for Another Life,

Sanctions of Religion,

Insensibility to a Future State, . .

Preparation for Heaven, .

The Happiness of Heaven,


Calu on the bosom of thy God,

Fair spirit I rest thee now !
E%n while with ours thy footsteps trod,

His seal was on thy brow.

Dust, to its narrow house beneath !

SouJ, to its place on high !
They that have seen thy look in death

No more may fear to die. Mes Uemans.

" Among practical books, there are perhaps none which
are so interesting, or of which the influence is more power-
ful and salutary, than those which give the lives and char-
acters of pious men. We are excited to emulate and
imitate them ; we sympathise in their feelings of devotion,
and their hopes of immortality ; and thus gain some strength
to our own. By their failures, we learn our dangers ; by
their struggles with temptation, we are taught how to resist
our own. We cannot but feel animated while we trace
the gradual advances of a servant of God, frail and tempted
like ourselves, in piety and virtue ; when we see him
striving, feebly indeed, but patiently and successfully,
against the power of sin, and at last leaving this world of
trial with joy and entering into glory. Their characters
encourage us in the christian course, and we cannot turn
from them without feeling much within, that prompts us to
go and do likewise."

These are the words of Mr Abbot in one of his sermons,
and they form a suitable preface to the following notice of
his life and character.


John Ewery Abbot was the son of Benjamin Abbot,
L L. D., Principal of the Phillips Academy in Exeter,
N. H., and was born in that on the sixth day of Au-
gust, 1793. He seems to have been destined to the
ministry from his very ])irth. His mother, whom he is
said to have greatly resembled, and who lived bjt a few
months after his birth, solemnly dedicated him to God be-
fore her- death. The knowledge of this circumstance
made an impression on his mind, and he seems never to
have lost sight of his destination. His religious character
commenced early ; he probably never knew the time when
he was destitute of religious impressions. The same amia-
bleness of disposition and gentleness of demeanor marked
his childhood, which characterized him when a man, and
made him then, as he was always, an object of more than
ordinary interest to those who knew him. "While in the
Academy," says one of his schoolmates, '* no one regarded
him as capable of doing wrong ; we looked on him as a
purer being than others around him."

He completed his classical education at Bowdoin Col-
lege, in Brunswick, Maine, and was graduated with repu-
tation in 1810, at the early age of seventeen. His college
life appears to have been of a piece with his whole exist-
ence, unassuming and exemplary. At times, however, his
diffidence and self-distrust oppressed him with the idea,
that he should disappoint the wishes of his friends, and be-
come a useless being. He has since told a friend, that so
great at one period was his despondency, that he would
willingly have exchanged all his future hopes and prospects
for the certainty of a living as a schoolmaster in some re-
mole village ; the office of a clergyman, although from his
earliest recollection the object of his most ardent desires,
appearing to him a situation of too much dignity for him to
aspire to.

After leaving college, he soon commenced his prepara-
tion for the holy work to which his heart was devoted, and
pursued his theological studies partly at the University


in Cambridge, and partly under the direction of the
Rev. William E. Channing, in Boston. This term of
preparatory discipline passed with great diligence and
fidelity. Religious truth was dear to his mind, and he
entered with interes into those inquiries which are neces-
sary to ascertain and define it, and without which the mind
of a theologian is unfurnished. But there was one part of
the ministerial preparation to which he attached supreme
importance, and to which consequently his principal atten-
tion was directed. He thought the religious character of
infinitely greater moment than all other qualifications of
talents or acquirements. He had an extraordinary reve-
rence for the sacred office, and dreaded above all things a
diminution of that personal interest in religion, which alone
can fit one for it, or make him useful in it. He believed,
that the knowledge of human nature and of the modes of
addressing and moving the conscience, which might be
gained from the habitual study and discipline of his own
heart, would be far more important to himself and to his
flock, than laborious researches into some subjects connected
with theology, which might make him more learned, but
would be in danger of making him cold. And therefore,
upon the principle that the afl^ections are worth everything
to a religious man, and especially to a minister, it was his
favorite aim and object to keep them alive. His wish was
to be a good and useful, and never to be a great man ; to
this single object he bent his fine powers, and girded him-
self, like his master, to go about doing good. There was
no selfish ambition in any of his plans ; they all centered in
the supreme desire to become a good minister. How much
he had this at heart, and what his favorite views of the pro- .
fession were, may be seen from the following extract of a
letter, written just before he began to preach.

" How soon J shall be presented for approval, I know
not exactly. As I draw nearer the close of my course, I
feel a greater importance to be thrown into the little time
which remains before its termination. And the more I


reflect, the more solemn appears the oflice of a shepherd of
the christian flock. To enlighten the ignorant with truth,
to guide the wandering and the doubting, to give hope to
the penitent and consolation to the sorrowing, and to arouse
the sleep of the sinner, is indeed a blessed, but a most
responsible oflice ; and it seems the more solemn when we
think that it is committed to ' earthen vessels ' — who them-
selves are ignorant and wandering, surrounded with tempta-
tions, darkened by error, and polluted with sin. It is a
most animating thought, that he, who promised to his apos-
tles, ' Lo, I am ever with you,' forsakes not their feeble

His sentiments and feelings in regard to his profession
are yet more fully discovered in a letter written just after
he began to preach. " I am, as you may suppose, now in
a state of feeling and views, to which life has never before
called me. I look to tlie profession which God has now
permitted me to assume, with a kind of solemn delight,
when I think of the magnitude of its object, the weakness
of its instrument, and the promised aid from above. There
is a thought which often affects me, when I remember that
all my life, all the labors, and opportunities, and powers
I have received, are now to be devoted and consecrated to
him who gave and has continued them. There is a sort of
elevation which considerations like this sometimes create,
which if I could bear with me to the world, I should be
most happy. Tlie evil is, that feeling often is kindled and
expires in the closet, and when we go forth to the world,
we must act only from the cold principles which reason has
matured, and the habitual dispositions which time has freed
from all enlliusiasm. — It has always seemed to me a most
wise provision with regard to our constitution, that we gra-
dually and imperceptibly become conformed to circum-
stances, and when called to a new situation, the way is pre-
pared to it by slow degrees. I expected a sort of over-
powering feeling, in first commencing the sacred duties, but
when [ first entered the desk I felt composed and calm."


In another letter he writes thus. " By these active
duties I hope to acquire a habit of more energy, and to
gain something of practical wisdom, and to become a better
member of society, and minister of the hopes and comforts

of the gospel to the poor and sorrowing. My dear ,

what a holy and glorious profession has God permitted me
to assume ! I feel that it is a blessing for which I can never
be grateful enough. Its duties seem to be those of the
good spirits who are messengers of mercy and love to us ;
bearing consolation to the afflicted, and hope to the de-
sponding, and warning to the wanderer, and animation and
peace to the humble and penitent. I often feel that my
earlier anticipations of the happiness of the profession are
indeed surpassed."

With such views of the profession in which he was to
labor, he entered upon its duties. With his talents, prepa-
rations, and earnestness, he could not fail to be acceptable,
and he won many hearts and left deep impressions in the
several places to which he was called to preach. There
was no parade of oratory, no effort for effect, nothing done
for display ; but his simple, unaffected, and serious style of
preaching, with the uncommon purity and solemnity of his
devotional exercises, excited the best sort of interest, while
his exemplariness as a man, and devotedness to duty gave
the promise of usefulness to the people with whom he should
be united. When the pulpit of the North Church in Salem
became vacant, by the death of the venerable Dr Barnard,
the eyes of his people turned at once to Mr Abbot as his
successor. He preached to them, became acquainted with
them, and was ordained as their minister on the 20th of
April, 1815.

The trials of a clergyman's life are never small to a con-
scientious man, and in the place to which Mr Abbot was
called, they were on some accounts peculiarly great. He
succeeded an aged and experienced minister, who had
gained the full confidence and affection of his flock by his
intimacy and fidelity in pastoral ,duty. Mr Abbot's own


inclinations and views were such us would lead him
also to pay peculiar attention, and devote a large share of
lime, to this, the most trying and difficult part of ministe-
rial labor. He had come to a large parish when not twen-
tytwo years of age, v.'ith but little experience, and oppressed
with a sense of responsibility. But he showed himself to
be equal to the charge. " Young as he was," says one
who knew him well, " he discovered at once the wisdom
and prudence, which we should suppose could be the result
of experience only." He seemed to an uncommon degree
the respect and attachment of his people, and his love for
his calling soon amounted, as he himself expressed it,
almost to a passion. As far as was practicable he made
himself personally known to every individual, interested
himself as a friend in their welfare, was by their side in
perplexity and sorrow, and ready to make any sacrifices of
personal ease for the sake of their good. At the same time
he pursued his studies with diligence, and made especially
the preparation of his sermons for the pulpit an object of
chief attention. These were distinguislied for the judg-
ment with which the most impressive thoughts were selected
and arranged, for great afFectionateness and earnestness of
address, and for a style of uniform neatness, purity, and
beauty. He wrote much besides them to assist himself in
the course of his religious inquiries, but not with a view to
publication, and engaged but little in studies not connected
with his profession, though he was a good classical scholar,
and always fond of elegant literature.

His frame was too feeble to support this various load of
cares. He had never been robust ; and the duties which
he pursued with so much ardor, insensibly diverted his at-
tention from the care of himself. In the spring of 1817,
his health was evidently impaired ; and a little cough, which
seemed alarming to some of his friends, but too slight to
attract his own attention, followed him through the summer.
In October he took a little journey to the south, which
injured instead of benefiling him. He felt it his duty,


feeble as he was, to preach in the Unitarian church at
Philadelphia. On his return, the weather was cold and
stormy ; he took a severe cold which settled upon his lungs
with a violent cough, and was accompanied with bleeding.
Fearing lest he should become too weak to reach home, he
pressed on with injudicious rapidity. On the day after his
arrival in Salem, the first Sabbath in November, he preached
to his people. The weather was tempestuous. His utter-
ance was interrupted by a perpetual cough ; and the ser-
vice of the holy communion, which he administered for the
last time, was a season of distress to his church, and full of
the saddest forebodings. He was too ill to attend worship
in the afternoon, and from that time appeared to be in a
settled decline. During the winter he was confined to his
chamber, and principally to his bed; his weakness was ex-
treme ; his voice only a whisper ; and he believed himself
to be a dying man. But there was nothing in him of dis-
tress, agitation, or gloom ; he was the same tranquil and
cheerful man that he had been in health. His unwilling-
.ness to speak of himself, and his aversion to talking much
of what was passing within him, which was always a promi-
nent trait in his modest character, prevented his conversing
much, or to many persons, of his feelings and prospects.
He knew that religion did not consist in being forward to
tell the secrets of the soul. He did not conceal, however,
from those who had a right to know his thoughts, that
he thought his days were numbered. To a friend, who
often watched with him, he spake frequently without reserve ;
dwelt upon the thought of dying, with perfect calmness;
expressed with energy the satisfaction and peace which he
derived from the views of religion which he had imbibed
and preached ; and especially from those affectionate and
confiding sentiments respecting the essential goodness of
God, which had always laid at the foundation of his piety
and hope.

On the approach of spring, appearances were more fa-
vorable, and he removed to Exeter. There he spent the


summer with his parents, and his strength was so far restored
that he contemplated a return to his ministerial labors in the
autumn. A letter, which he wrote in July to an intimate
friend, presents a beautiful exemplification of his habitual
piety. " I think," he says, " that I gain strength, and now
cannot but rejoice in the hope, which for so long a time I
felt it necessary to check as it rose, of being again permit-
ted to minister the gospel to my beloved people. In this
restoration, 1 see the direct agency of Him, who first
breathed into me the breath of life ; the skill of man and
the powers of medicine seemed all in vain ; it was his air,
the warmth of his sun, the bright and cheering prospect of
the earth which his goodness quickened and beautified,
which thus far have dispelled the damps of disease, and
enkindled the feeble and dying flame within me. I sup-
pose that every person, when restored from sickness, flatters
himself that the feelings of piety, which deliverance awakens,
will not decay. God grant that mine may be as permanent
and influential as they ought to be ! "

In another letter he speaks of his attendance on public
worship, which he was just able to renew. " I could not
help my mind from wandering much away, and being filled
with recollections of the past years of my own life ; for 1
had not been present at the ordinance since that distressful
day, when I last met our own church at the altar. I think
there is no time when the heart more expands towards all
present or distant, vvhon> God has made dear to it, than
when commemorating that greater friend, whose love was
stronger than deatii."

But the approach of autumn proved these flattering ex-
pectations to be delusive. His cough, which had never left
him, became again alarming, and it was thought expedient
that he shDuld spend the winter in a warmer climate. He
acquiesced in the measure, but did not greatly desire it.
"Life for its own sake," he said, " was scarcely worth pre-
serving at such a price ; but he was not his own ; and he
felt it to be a duty to use every means which presented a

MEMOm. xvu

hope that he might be restored to his people." On the
eighth of November, he sailed for Havana, to spend the
winter with a friend in that place. But all hope of benefit
from this step was disappointed. His voyage was rough
and fatiguing ; and although, as he very gratefully acknow-
ledges in his journal, every possible attention was paid to his
accommodation and comfort, he yet suffered much. '• Up-
on the whole," he writes after his arrival, " I have been
disappointed in regard to the voyage. My cough is some-
what increased, and my strength lessened." His residence
upon the island was not more salutary. The kindest atten-
tions of devoted friends were vain. It was found hazardous
for him to remain within the walls of the city, and he quitted
the hospitable dwelling of the old friend with whom he at
first resided, for a lodging among strangers in the country.
He felt ihat nothing had been gained, and he sometimes
said so ; but no complaint escaped his lips, no look of dis-
content overspread his countenance. And when it was
mentioned as a subject of regret that he had quitted his
country, he said, " By no means ; he considered it the
peculiar appointment of Providence, and, whatever might
be the event, he would not alter a single circumstance if be

During his residence in Cuba, there was not a day, says
the friend who accompanied him, that he was not a subject
for home and a nurse ; yet his mind was tranquil and active
as when in health. He commenced a journal upon leaving
home, which he continued until increasing weakness com-
pelled him to relinquish it thirteen days after his arrival.
From this a few passages are appended to the Memoir.
What he wrote is minute in its descriptions of scenes and
events, and shows that he was alive to all around him, and
could observe and reflect as he always did. His remarks
upon the character and influence of the Roman Catholic
superstitions ; upon the state of morals ; and upon the evils
which result from making the Sabbath a day of amusement;
are highly creditable, and almost wonderful, when it is con-


sidered that be was so feeble as to be entirely exhausted by
the effort required to write a few pages. But he was one
who never would suffer the opportunity of improving his
mind or heart to pnss by. He formed an acquaintance with
several Friars of distinction, with whom he conversed in
Latin by means of a pencil ; one of whom, of superior rank
and fortune, became greatly attached to him, and daily ex-
changed visits. Through him he was received with hospi-
tality at the convent of which he was a member, obtained
access to the library, with liberty to borrow books, and was
requested to visit freely at all times. He visited the prison,
the slave-market, and the burial place of Americans, where
he attended the funeral of a young man, a fellow passenger,
and other similar places of suffering. When the fatigue
attendant on such exertions was named to him, he replied,
that it was the duty of a clergyman to make himself familiar
with such scenes, as they fitted him for the better discharge
of his duty. So much had he at heart the one object of
being a useful minister.

But the increasing heat of the weather soon rendered it
impossible for him to take the necessary exercise, and his
strength homly decayed ; when, in one of those sudden
changes to which the climate is subject, but against which
man has made insufficient provision, he took a severe cold
which threatened a speedy termination to his sufferings. As
soon as he was a little relieved, he embarked for Charleston,
S. C. The sea breeze in some degree restored his appetite
and strength ; and when he arrived, the sensation, which
every one feels on treading again his native shore, gave a
stimulus to his exhausted frame, which he mistook for re-
turning health. He immediately found kind and devoted
friends, though he came to them a stranger, and received
every comfort which the most affectionate and tender sym-
pathy could bestow. But he soon found that his feelings
Lad deceived him, and l)is spirits sunk for a moment under
the pressure of disease, and disappointed hope, and the delay
in returning home, occasioned by the lateness of the New

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