Leland, Aaron

Leland, Aaron a Baptist minister, sixth in descent from Henry Leland, the Puritan ancestor of all the Lelands in America, but in a different line from his more noted contemporary, Rev. John Leland, was born in Holliston, Mass., May 28,1761. Of a naturally vigorous and inquisitive mind, he grew up with a larger measure of intelligence than his limited means of early culture would have indicated as probable. He united in 1785 with the Baptist Church in Bellingham, by which Church he was licensed to preach, and subsequently ordained. He soon after removed to Chester, Vt., where he gathered a small Church, which in thirteen years had become five — in Chester, Andover, Grafton, Wethersfield, and Cavendish. From Chester he visited Jamaica, in the same county, guided through the wilderness by marked trees: these visits resulted in the formation of several churches in that vicinity. He was not only an active and successful minister, but had important civil trusts committed to him by the suffrages of his fellow- citizens. He sat in the state Legislature several years; three years he was speaker of the House; four years a member of the council; five years successively lieutenant governor; and nothing but his own conviction of its incompatibility with the duties of his higher calling prevented his election to the governorship of the state. He refused to permit any civil engagements to hinder his usefulness and success as a Christian minister, and he continued to fulfill his calling with great energy, zeal, and success, until worn out with toil. He died August 25, 1833. He was a popular and effective preacher. His commanding form and countenance; his musical and sonorous voice; his ready and fervid, often impassioned utterance; his vigorous intellect and great tenderness of spirit, gave him unusual power over congregations. He was often sought as an orator on public occasions, and called to give counsel in ecclesiastical questions. His zeal was enlisted in the temperance cause, insisting on total abstinence from intoxicating beverages, and in promoting ministerial education and all liberal culture. He was in the board of fellows of Middlebury College from the year 1800 till his death. (L. E. S.)

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