BLTC Press Titles

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Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Nettleton and his labours

by Bennet Tyler


Asahel Nettleton was born in North Killingworth, Connecticut, April 21, 1783. He was the eldest son, and second child, of a family of six children, consisting of three sons and three daughters. His parents, though but little known to the world, were esteemed and respected by their neighbours. His father was a farmer, in moderate, but comfortable circumstances; and in this employment Asahel was mostly engaged until he entered college, in 1805.

His childhood and youth, so far as is known to the writer, were characterized by nothing very peculiar. His early advantages of education were only such as are furnished by the common district school. That he made a good use of these advantages, we may infer from the thirst for knowledge which he evinced at a later period, and from the fact that, while a young man, he was employed, several winters, in the capacity of a school teacher.

His parents, according to the custom which prevailed at that period in some parts of New England, were professors of religion, on what was called the half-way covenant plan,—that is, they were not admitted to full communion, but having publicly assented to the covenant of the Church, they were permitted to offer their children in baptism.* Asahel was, of course, baptized in his infancy; and, while a child, received some religious instruction from his parents. He was, in particular, required to commit to memory the Assembly's Catechism, which, as he often remarked, was of great use to him when his attention was awakened to the concerns of his soul. His morals were also strictly guarded by his parents; and they had the satisfaction to know, that, during the period of youth, he was not addicted to any vicious habits, but sustained, in the eyes of the world, an unblemished moral character.

While a child, he was occasionally the subject of religious impressions. At one time, in particular, while alone in the field, and looking at the setting sun, he was powerfully impressed with the thought,

• This custom, according to Dr. Bellamy, was first introduced by the recommendation of a synod which met in Boston, 1662. Many ministers and churches zealously opposed it at the time; and although it gained extensive prevalence, it was never universally adopted. It began to be discontinued in the days of Edwards and Bellamy; for the latter remarks: "Of late a considerable number of churches which had adopted the practice, have laid it aside." The revivals at the beginning of the present century, put a period to it in most of the churches, and, at present, it is scarcely known in any part of New England. It is the very state of things still prevailing in many parts of our Scottish Highlands ; and nothing but an outpouring of the Spirit, such as was vouchsafed to these congregations in America, is likely to remedy it.

that he and all men must die. He was so affected by this thought, that he stood for some time and wept aloud. But these feelings were transitory, and he seems to have had no permanent religious impressions till the autumn of 1800, when he was in the eighteenth year of his age. This was at the period so memorable in the history of American churches as a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. For half a century the influences of the divine Spirit had been, in a great measure, withdrawn from the churches. Eevivals were few. But during a period of four or five years, commencing with 1798, not less than one hundred and fifty churches in New England were favoured with the special effusions of the Holy Spirit; and thousands of souls, in the judgment of charity, were translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son.

In the blessings of this general outpouring of the Spirit, North Killingworth shared. A narrative of the revival of religion in this town was published in the fourth and fifth volumes of the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine. A few individuals, whose conversion was considered particularly interesting, were requested by their pastor to give him, in writing, an account of their religious exercises. Mr. Nettleton was one of the number; and his account, with that of two or three others, is incorporated in the printed narrative, and is as follows:—

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