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space which ordinary sermons are not permitted to occupy. Such is the wisdom of God, in the diversity of gifts which he bestows upon his ministers, for the edification of the church.
Duly to estimate the value of these discourses, we must bear in mind that they were written, not for a common, but for a literary audience, with a view to be preached in the College Chapel at New Haven. Required by the statutes of the Seminary to appear in panoply every sabbath morning, Dr. Dwight could hardly be expected or desired to lay it wholly aside in the afternoon: but if he did not ordinarily put it off with the occasion, he was seldom or never incumbered with it. As in the theological chair, we always found the able logician and divine, so in every other department of the sacred office, we meet with the same earnest, faithful, and warmhearted pastor.
To offer anything like a fair abstract, or even the framework of more than sixty sermons, occupying nearly eleven hundred closely printed pages, would be impossible within our limits. A richer table of contents we have rarely met with.
The first two hundred pages are devoted chiefly to the necessity of a special revelation, such as the Bible contains, to mankind acquainted with all those great truths on which their eternal well-being depends. And here, we know not which to admire most, the strong grasp of the author upon a great and difficult subject—the cogency, variety, and freshness of his arguments—his familiar acquaintance with the writings and opinions of heathen philosophers--or his masterly exposure of their absurdities and contradictions. of the same general character are the two celebrated
sermons, On the Nature and Danger of Infidel Philosophy, preached to the candidates for the Baccalaureate, in 1797, and soon after republished in England. These, we think, are the most elaborate and, upon the whole, the most finished and powerful of Dr. Dwight's discourses. Such a synopsis of infidel opinions as they contain had never been given, we believe, by any writer; and if Hobbes, and Tyndal, and Herbert, and Shaftesbury, and Hume, have ever been summoned to answer for their unhallowed assaults upon the Christian system, by an abler indictment, we know not where to find it. Roused to a holy jealously for the Lord of Hosis, Dr. Dwight comes down upon these vaunting Philistines, like some indignant spirit from a higher sphere; and they quail and tremble under his rebukes. Awful is the majesty of truth! If the author of these two discourses had never done anything else for his country and the church, he would have been entitled to the gratitude of the age in which he lived.
The last twelve discourses of the first volume, including the two already mentioned on the nature and danger of infidel philosophy, were delivered to as many successive classes, at the end of their collegiate course. To say that they were listened to with great interest, would bé common praise. They are of that class of occasional sermons, which will bear to be read as well as heard ; nay, which will richly reward a frequent perusal. They embody the results of long experience—the accumulated practical wisdom of no common mind. As specimens of classical taste and pulpit eloquence they are unequal, and several of them, perhaps, are in these respects surpassed by some other valedictory addresses. But in compass and richness of thought; in minuteness of obser
vation; in comprehension and philosophic views of human nature, and of mere earthly glory; in lofty moral principle; in earnest and pious exhortation ; and in overflowing paternal yearnings; we know not where to find anything superior to these baccalaureate discourses. We regret that we have no room for extracts; and that we are compelled to pass over, in silence, so much more that is excellent, in order to find room for the remarks which we intended to make, upon the talents and character of Dr. Dwight as a religious and literary teacher; upon the influence which he exerted while living; and the enduring good which will result from his instruction, example, and writings.
In selecting his topics, and preparing his discourses, Dr. Dwight never drew a bow at a venture.' He had an aim, and he never lost sight of it. So accustomed was he to invention, and to the arrangement of his thoughts under their proper heads, that to have written a sermon after the manner of some preachers, without any proper beginning, middle, or end, would have been impossible. Discussion was his life and breath. Order was the first law of his mind, which, as it advanced from step to step, would always create for itself a solid substratum. It had an instinctive fondness for hard labor; but it would not work at all, except by rule. Every sermon must have a skeleton, to be clothed with flesh and skin, and the articulations and processes must be sufficiently prominent for the muscles and tendons. This is observable in all his discourses, whether doctrinal or practical. They are fenced with bones and sinews ;' and the effect depends, not so much upon a single feature, as upon the compactness and goodly proportions of the whole frame. Dr. Dwight, like every other distinguish
ed preacher, made his own plans. The deep and broad current of his thoughts could never flow in common channels. Whenever a passage was to be cut through the solid rock, he chose to hew it out for himself; and he would as soon have gone to England for the materials of his table talk,' as to Simeon, or any one else, for helps !
In his manner of delivery, Dr. Dwight was graceful, dignified, solemn, and animated. In his voice were united fullness, strength, flexibility, and melody. His articulation was remarkably distinct, though at times considerably rapid ; and it was always forcible. In whatever great and crowded house he was called to speak, he filled it with perfect ease, never failing to reach the remotest of the audience. We have seldom known a speaker, who could, especially on great occasions, hold an enlightened assembly in more fixed attention. The volume of his elocution, though always full and clear, and strong, was, for the most part, quite uniform. But there were times, under special excitement, when it burst forth like a torrent; and then, if it did not hurry you down the cataract, it inevitably swept you away from your moorings. That he was not acting a part, but pouring out the treasures of his own understanding and feelings, was manifest on all occasions; but when warmed by some favorite and inspiring subject, his whole soul was in his eye; and his logic itself was all on fire.
But much as Dr. Dwight excelled and was admired in the pulpit, he appeared with still greater advantage in another sphere. The remark will no doubt be thought extravagant, if not invidious, by some of our readers, but it is our sober judgment, that no other man in this country ever possessed so many rare qualifications, physical, intellectual, and moral, for the presidency of a great literary
institution; and all these combined with so much knowledge and experience. With the happiest talent for winning confidence and communicating instruction, teaching was his great business and bis delight for almost fifty years; and during the last half of this period, we do not believe that any distinguished instructer, who knew him, ever considered it a disparagement to be placed below him. Having been so long conversant with youthful intellect, in its strength and its weakness; in its loftiest aspirations, and its deepest dwelling-places; and having made bimself master of all the avenues by which it can be approached, he was seldom at a loss for expedients, even in the most discouraging cases. If a student had any talent, any capacity for improvement, Dr. Dwight was sure to find where it lay, and to make the most of it. His maxim was, that nothing is impossible to application and perseverance; and cheered by his smiles, many a youth was nurtured up to respectability and usefulness, who would have come out a mere cypher from under the hand of an ordinary instructer. He was constantly exhorting his pupils to set their mark high, to think, to reason, to be thorough in every study, to fix their thoughts upon great and worthy objects, and to attempt great things for their country, for the church, and the world. There was nothing which he more heartily pitied and despised, than one who was content that his soul should revolve forever in an acorn shell; and no man ever knew better than he did how to make such an one feel his contemptibleness.
Always cheerful and animated himself, his example contributed powerfully to spread the same sunshine, even over minds predisposed to despondency. At all times accessible, courteous, and sensible, he entered at once into the feelings of such as applied to him for advice,