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THEOLOGICAL WRITINGS OF DR. DWIGHT.
PRESIDENT Dwight was a great and good man. In saying this, we utter no common-place eulogy. We merely speak the general sentiment of those who knew bim best -merely re-iterate the deliberate and recorded judgment of distinguished theological and literary tribunals, on both sides of the Atlantic. We call that a great mind, which in its original constitution is well balanced, vigorous, discursive, and penetrating; which is capable of excelling in any department of science or literature, to which it may be directed; and which exults in the exercise and developement of its noble powers.
We do not mean to say that all these qualities are essential to intellectual greatness ; for a man may be an eminent astronomer, metaphysician, orator, poet, jurist, or statesman, without the power of excelling at once in every branch of severe induction, or polite literature. Much less do we intend to say, that Dr. Dwight had no superior in intellectual endowment : or that he was equally successful in every branch of study to which, at different periods, he applied himself. Undoubtedly, he was more of a philosopher, than a poet—was more nearly related to Locke, than to Milton. And he certainly triumphed more gloriously in his defence of revelation, than in his • Conquesi of Canaan.' But if extraordinary facility in acquiring knowledge—if a memory remarkably retentive of philosophic relations, analogies, and general principles— if the power of grasping and analyzing a great and difficult question--if a vast fund of useful information on a great variety of subjects-if severe and successful mental discipline—if untiring energy of investigation, and a passionate love of truth—if strong native good sense, a discursive fancy, and a rich imagination—if a noble and transparent frankness of character, which despises everything like trick and artifice-if a dignified mien, commanding elocution, and unrivalled powers of conversation-if almost unexampled success as a teacher and a disciplinarian, during the space of nearly fifty years; and above all, if exalted moral principle-if a glowing Christian philanthropy—if sublime and worthy conceptions of the divine character and government-if a long life spent in doing good, upon a scale commensurate with great opportunities, and with a personal influence which but few men ever enjoy :—if these, and such as these, are the prominent features and attributes of intellectual and moral greatness, then, we repeat it, was Dr. Dwight truly a great man. We knew him long, and knew him well. It was our privilege to sit for years under his luminous and impressive ministry. His power, too, in the recitation room, we shall never forget ; and though we loved and revered him as a father, and consequently may be supposed to feel a bias in his favor, we confidently appeal to his writings, to the good which he accomplished, and to thousands of living witnesses, scattered all over the land, for the general correctness of the preceeding outline.
Dr. Dwight's works, (besides the Conquest of Canaan, a poem entitled Greenfield Hill, and many occasional sermons and periodical essays,) are comprised in eleven thick and closely printed octavo volumes: viz. A System of Theology, in five volumes; Travels in New England and New York, in four volumes; and the Sermons just published in two volumes. When, and how, all these were written, by a man at the head of a great literary institution, discharging the duties of four offices,'* during nearly the whole term of his presidency, and suffering all the while under extreme weakness of sight, will not easily be conceived, by those who were unacquainted with the vigor of his mind, the versatility of his talents, and the methodical arrangement of his time. If such words as cannot, impossible, insuperable, and the like, were contained in Dr. Dwight's vocabulary, he seems never to have used them. Day dreams and brown study were among the few things, with which he was entirely unacquainted. He was refreshed rather than fatigued, by mental effort. Under such perfect discipline had he brought his powerful and elastic mind, that he found no difficulty in carrying on two trains of thought at the same time. He could dictate to his amanuensis, while engaged in conversation with his friends; and could, with equal apparent ease, when occasion required, indite two letters at once on different subjects, faster than his thoughts could ordinarily be committed to paper. Since he never permitted his intellectual machinery to run down and stop, as is the case with most men, no time, of course, was lost in winding it up. While ordinary writers were trying to begin, he would finish the first half sheet; and before they had fairly commenced a subject, he would be ready
* See Memoir of his Life p. 26.
for some new discussion. Having accustomed himself, moreover, from a very early period, to a methodical arrangement of his thoughts, on every topic, however trifling, and to express them in select, and even elegant language, his sermons and other writings needed very little correction, to prepare them for the public eye. What will not such a mind and such habits accomplish ? And how deeply is it to be lamented, that so few men improve their talents with equal diligence and advantage. The human mind is capable of much great and useful exertion; and that it ordinarily brings so little to pass, even with the advantages of a liberal course of study, is owing incomparably more to irresolution and want of method, than to the limited nature of its faculties.
Though, as we have already hinted, the friends of Dr. Dwight should not rest his fame upon the Conquest of Canaan,' it is, we believe, the least esteemed by those, who know little or nothing of its merits. Many a sentence of condemnation has it received, without the privilege of being heard ; and by men, too, as much inferior to the author in poetic talent, as in good taste and critical
Our design permits us merely to glance at the Travels of Dr. Dwight in New England and New York, which received an early and flattering notice, from one of the most distinguished Journals in Great Britain. Some would probably say, that these Travels should have been condensed by the author into one volume, or at most into two; and there is certainly a particularity of detail, which must be tiresome to the general reader. But this minuteness, so far from being an objection to the work, is in our judgment one of its most valuable characteristics. Nothing is worth so much as facts, especially in the early