Cleaveland, John. Sermons

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the John Cleaveland papers, 1741-1810, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Rev. John Cleaveland (1722-1799) was an early leader in the "Separatist" Christian movement, an evangelical revival born out of the First Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s. His career can be traced to a conflict with the administration of Yale College, at which he was a student. Refusing to repent for attending a Separatist meeting, he was expelled from the college in 1745. Subsequently he served at a newly established Separatist church in the Chebacco precinct of Ipswich, also known as the Fourth Church in Ipswich, at which he was ordained in 1747.

During his ministry, a merger was effected between the Separatist Fourth Church and the orthodox Congregational "Chebacco church" from which it had divided; in 1774 both churches voted to reunite as the Second Parish Church in Ipswich (colloquialy: Chebacco Church), with Rev. Cleaveland as their pastor. Following a township redistricting in 1819 this church became the First Congregational Church of Essex.

Rev. Cleaveland also served as a military chaplain in 1758-59 at Ticonderoga and Louisburg during the French and Indian War, and later with American forces during the Revolutionary War. He passed away in 1799, having pastored the Chebacco Church for 52 years.

This collection consists of two volumes of sermons preached by Rev. Cleaveland during 1752-1799, delivered for the most part at his home parish of Chebacco, but occassionally preached as a guest of neighboring churches, and while encamped during military service. These sermons were typically preached multiple times, with various locations and dates recorded in each header.

The original manuscripts in this collection are owned by our project partners, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. Further information about the collection can be found in the Phillips Library's catalogue.


Digital Materials

Sermons 1752-1799, vol. 1

These loose papers (originally a bound notebook) detail sermons delivered by Rev. Cleaveland in the latter half of the 18th century. Most were preached multiple times, with dates and locations specified in the headers. While many were preached locally at Chebacco, some were delivered to neighboring parishes, and also during Cleaveland's service as military chaplain during the French and Indian War.

  • Galatians 1:4 – "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world…"
      first preached at Ipswich, 13 February 1777

  • Matthew 5:8 – "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 3 August 1766 

  • Hosea 13:9 – "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 5 June 1763 

  • Luke 18:13 – "God be merciful to me, a sinner…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 14 September 1788 

  • Colossians 1:19 – "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 26 February 1764 

  • Acts 20:21 – "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 16 September 1792 

  • Psalms 63:1 – "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 13 May 1764 

  • Philippians 4:8 – "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are…"
      first preached at Lake George 30 July 1758  

  • Ezekiel 5:8 – "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 17 August 1788 

  • Proverbs 3:17 – "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace…"
      first preached at Louisburg, 30 September 1759 

  • John 16:8 – "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 11 May 1788  

  • Ephesians 6:18 – "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 2 July 1786  

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 1 June 1788 

  • Philippians 4:11 – "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 20 March 1752 

  • Psalms 130:5 – "I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 1 October 1760 

  • Romans 5:11 – "By whom we have now received the atonement…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 2 October 1785 

  • Matthew 3:10 – "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth…"
      first preached at Prospect Hill, 15 October 1775 

  • Hebrews 4:1 – "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 30 March 1788 

  • Romans 5:11 – "By whom we have now received the atonement…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 2 October 1785 


Sermons 1752-1799, vol. 2

Similar in scope to the above, these papers comprise detailed notes for sermons preached by Rev. Cleaveland at Chebacco Church and other locations.

  • Matthew 22:5 – "But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise…"
      first preached at Cape Ann Harbour, 20 November 1763 

  • John 15:22 – "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 17 May 1789 

  • Matthew 6:19 – "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 3 September 1780 

  • Psalms 97:1 – "The Lord reigneth…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 28 June 1761 

  • Malachi 1:6 – "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 11 July 1756 

  • 1 Corinthians 1:21 – "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 13 November 1768 

  • 1 Peter 3:18 – "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 4 September 1767 

  • 1 Timothy 2:5 – "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 2 September 1792 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:11 – "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 18 February 1759 

  • Matthew 7:13 – "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 21 January 1759 

  • Daniel 7:27 – "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the…"
      first preached at Manhattan, 8 August 1781

  • 1 Corinthians 10:14 – "…my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 21 June 1752

  • Isaiah 42:7 - "To bring out the prisoners from the prison…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 13 March 1752

  • Acts 15:11 – "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 24 August 1766

  • Deuteronomy 30:19 – "Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 30 May 1787

  • Romans 4:5 – "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 27 April 1774

  • John 10:27 – "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 30 March 1774 

  • 1 Corinthians 10:14 – "…my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry…"
      first preached at Chebacco, 21 June 1752 


Related Materials

Cleaveland, John. Papers, 1752-1799

Essex, Mass. First Congregational Church, 1681-1879


Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.