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Breckinridge, Rev. John

Posted by MarthaCrossSargent 
Breckinridge, Rev. John
February 25, 2007 08:04PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY, by Lewis Collins, and J.A. & U.P. James, published
1847. Reprinted by Henry Clay Press, Lexington, Ky., 1968, pp. 138-139
[Unknown county].

The Rev. JOHN BRECKINRIDGE, D. D., was the sixth of nine children of the
Hon. John Breckinridge, (of whose life a sketch will be found under the
head of Breckinridge county). He was born at Cabell's-Dale, on North
Elkhorn, on the 4th day of July, 1797; and died at the same place on the
4th day of August, 1841, having just completed his 44th year. Some
account has been given of his paternal ancestors, in the notice of his
father; and of his maternal, in that of his elder brother, Joseph Cabell
Breckinridge. His father died when he was nine years old; and from that
time, he was reared under the care of his widowed mother, and brother
Cabell, who was his guardian. His education as conducted at the best
schools which Kentucky afforded, and completed at Princeton college,
N. J., where he spent about three years as a pupil, and graduated with
great distinction in the autumn of 1818, having just completed his 21st
year. He was destined by his family for the profession of the law.
During his residence in Princeton college, he became a subject of divine
grace, and united himself with the Presbyterian church, to which his
paternal ancestors had been attached from the period of the reformation
of the sixteenth century, in Scotland; and determined, against the
earnest wishes of all of his immediate family - not one of whom was at
that time a professor of religion - to devote imself to the gospel
ministry, and, as it is believed, to the work of foreign missions. The
providential dealings of God constantly frustrated this latter
intention, but the former was carried into effect; and after spending
several years more in Princeton, as a student of the theological
seminary there, and part of the time as a tutor in the college, he was
licensed and ordained a minister of Jesus Christ, in the Presbyterian
church of the United States.
In 1822, he was chaplain of the House of Representatives of the
Congress of the United States. In 1823, he settled in Lexington, Ky.,
as pastor of the McChord church of that place. In 1826, he removed to
the city of Baltimore, as co-pastor of the late Rev. Dr. Glendy; and
afterwards, as sole pastor of the second Presbyterian church in that
city. In 1831, he removed to the city of Philadelphia, as secretary and
general agent of the board of education of the Presbyterian church. In
1836, the general assembly of that church elected him to a professor in
the theological seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, to which place he
then removed. Upon the organization of the board of foreign missions by
the Presbyterian church, he was elected its secretary and general agent,
and continued at the head of the operations of that board from about
1838 to 1840. At the period of his death, he was the pastor elect of
the Presbyterian church in the city of New Orleans, and president elect
of the university of Oglethorpe, in Georgia.
He was a man of extraordinary gifts. To great gentleness and
refinement of manners and feelings, he added remarkable correctness and
vigor of purpose and force of will. Ardent and intrepid, as every man
was, he was also patient of labor, calm and wary in the formation of his
designs, and indomitable in the resolution with which he pursued his
objects. His success in life was, of necessity, striking and universal;
and at the period of his death, though he had scarcely attained the
meridian of life, he was probably as universally known, and as
universally admired and loved, as any minister of the gospel in America
had ever been. A more generous, disinterested and benevolent man, never
lived. His talents were of a high order; and in the midst of a life of
incessant activity, he acquired very extensive learning in his immediate
profession, and was justly and highly distinguished for the compass and
elegance of his general attainments. As a public speaker, and
especially as a pulpit orator, few of his generation equalled him - and
taken for all in all, hardly one excelled him. So greatly was he
admired and loved, and so high was the public confidence in him, that
calls and invitations to churches, colleges, and every sort of public
employment, suitable to his calling as a christian minister, were
continually pressed upon him from every section of the United States.
His connection with the great movements and controversies of his age, so
far as they bore a moral or religious aspect, was close and constant. A
few hours before his death, and almost as his last words, he uttered
these sublime words: "I am a poor sinner, who have [sic] worked hard,
and had constantly before my mind one great object - THE CONVERSION OF
THE WORLD." It was a true and an honest synopsis of his life and
One of the most extraordinary and scandalous events that ever
occurred, was the attempt made five years after the death of this good
and great man, by certain Roman Catholics of St. Louis and elsewhere, to
prove that he had died a convert to their religion - a religion which he
spent many years of his life in the most ardent efforts to confute and
expose - and in regard to which, the evidence was perfectly conclusive
that, to the end of his life, he thought the worse of it, as he more and
more examined it.
In personal appearance, he was a man of the middle stature -
lightly, but finely and elegantly made - and possessed of great strength
and activity. His features wore a habitual aspect of mingled
gentleness, sadness, and almost severity. His eyes and hair were light
hazle [sic]. He was twice married - the first time, to a daughter of
the Rev. Dr. Miller, of New Jersey; the second time, to a daughter of
Colonel Babcock, of Connecticut. His second wife, with three children by
the first, and one by the second marriage, survive him.

Breckinridge McChord Glendy Miller Babcock
NJ Scotland Lexington-Fayette-KY MD PA LA GA St._Louis-St._Louis-MO CT
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