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the ground that it is liable to be abused. What book, we ask, has ever been subjected to more unwarrantable liberties than the Bible itself—by the mortal enemies too, of all theological systems—but their own ? And yet, the value of the Bible is not at all depreciated, by its having been so often misused.
If the views which we have expressed in regard to the utility of able and judicious summaries of Christian doctrine, and of the injury which may result from the publication of crude and erroneous systems, be correct, then the work of preparing a system of theology is one of extreme responsibility, and requires a rare assemblage of high qualifications. Among these we may mention, a comprehensive, vigorous, and perspicacious mind-an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures, and of the true principles of interpretation-deep and ardent piety, connected with the highest reverence for Divine authority, and a childlike docility, in sitting at the feet of Jesus' -an extensive acquaintance with the opinions of the most distinguished commentators and theological writers, both ancient and modern—the constant exercise of gen, uine Christian liberality towards opposite religious sentiments—a holy indifference, alike to human censure and human applause-persevering, humble, and fervent prayer to God for the illumination of his Spirit; and a settled determination to follow wherever the inspired penmen lead.
Such, in our judgment, are the requisite qualifications, for the great and difficult work, of preparing a system of divinity; and few men, we believe, have been more richly and variously endowed, in these respects, than was Dr. Dwight. His inquisitive and independent mind would never consent to wear the shackles of sectarian vassallage. The Bible, with him, was the only legitimate au
thority, and to this he always bowed with solemn rever-, ence. He respected and loved good men, who differed from him in some of their religious opinions, as much for aught that appeared, as if they had embraced every article of his own creed ; and this he thought perfectly consistent with contending earnestly for the faith, once delivered to the saints. Without discarding the mint, anise, and cummin,' Dr. Dwight looked chiefly at the 'weightier matters of the law.' No favorite doctrine ever occupied the whole field of his vision, to the exclusion of others equally important; but he loved to contemplate them all together, in their extended bearings and harmonious proportions. He was not a man to examine one side of a question merely, nor to confine himself to one corner of the great field of Christian knowledge, nor to dogmatize where the best of men have differed, nor to plunge into depths which cannot be sounded, nor to affirm that there is no bottom because he could not reach it.
On the contrary, considering how sanguine he was in his natural temperament, and how much better entitled than most other men to speak ex Cathedra, the cautious and qualified terms in which he was wont to express his opinions, always struck us as one of the most remarkable traits of his character. Those who enjoyed the high privilege of being his pupils, will never forget how often he cautioned them against an implicit reliance upon the strength of his arguments, or the correctness of his conclusions. He always left room for any one to differ from him, without the least fear of being counted weak or incorrigible. This, young gentlemen, is my opinion,' was his usual closing remark; but I wish you to examine. and think for yourselves.' This trait, which character
ized all his decisions in the recitation-room, is conspicuous in the most polemic of his systematical discourses. Reasons and deductions greatly abound; but for bold and unsupported theories and assertions, the reader will search in vain. While he was always in earnest, and honestly believed everything that he taught, he never lost sight of his own liability to err, nor expected that all intelligent Christians would think exactly as he did. In the warfare to which his sacred profession sometimes called him, he scorned to take any advantage of an adversary; and he discomfited the enemies of revelation, not by decoys, or ambuscades, but by the death-dealing visitation of a battery, which needed no masking, because it was always more than sufficient to ensure the victory. The triumph which he gained, immediately after his accession to the presidency of Yale College, will long be remembered, not by the vanquished only, but by all who witnessed the unequal combat. It was then, that certain admirers of Hume and Voltaire, waxing bold by long sufferance, unwittingly encountered him. It was a total rout, and they met him not again.
In reading the works of some learned apologists for the Bible, the sincere Christian is disappointed and grieved to find, that while they mightily repel every attack upon the outworks, they have no conimon sympathies with the sacramental host of God's elect' within the fortress. They manfully defend the towers of Zion, not that the church may dwell safely within the walls, but that the walls themselves may stand, the empty monuments of their own prowess. They effectually guard the holy sepulchre against the approach of the scoffing infidel, but when the Christian draws near, he finds it empty-for they have taken away his Lord, and he knows
not where they have laid him.' In a word, it is but too obvious, that some of the ablest advocates of the divine origin of the Scriptures have been strangers to their lifegiving power; and it is hard to tell, whether the church has more reason to be thankful for their aid, than to mourn over their avowed hostility to the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel.
But a very different champion did she find in Dr. Dwight, who was always ready, at a moment's warning, to step forth in her defence while he lived, and who at his death, bequeathed her his well burnished armor, and the trophies of his many victories. His system of divinity is more full and complete than any other with which we are acquainted. It begins with the being and perfections of God, and ends with the happiness and glory of heaven, after the general judgment. In the filling up of this great plan, Dr. Dwight arraigns the dark spirits of infidelity at the bar of reason and common sense; and leaves us in doubt, after trial, whether most to marvel at the puerility of the culprits objections, or at the malignity of his efforts to subvert the foundations of social order and of man's immortal hopes. As the author advances, he descants, with great clearness and ability, upon the unchangeable purposes, the incontrollable sovereignty, the wonderful works, and the all-wise providence of God --upon the existence, rank, attributes, and employments of angels—the primitive and lapsed condition of manhis fall, and the way of his recovery through the atonement, righteousness, and mediation of Christ--the gift of the Holy Spirit, and his divine work in convincing men of sin, renewing their hearts, and preparing them for heaven. He then places in a strong and convincing light, the nature and necessity of faith, repentance, jus
tification, and new obedience. As he advances, he gives a lucid and searching exposition of the ten commandments ; insists with great earnestness on the importance of the means of grace; speaks with no common ability of the constitution, officers, and special ordinances of the Christian church ; anxiously follows both the righteous and the wicked to their dying beds, to the judgment bar, and thence to their eternal reward :-shuddering as he looks down into the bottomless abyss, and exulting as he looks upward to the throne of God and the Lamb.'
How vast and solemn the range of such a system ! How momentous all the leading subjects of discussion ! Jehovah in his infinite majesty and dominion! Good and bad angels; man in his innocence and his, shame; Jesus in his agony and his triumph; Sinai, Calvary, the last trump, a burning world, the great white throne, the descending Judge, the final sentence, hell with its undy. ing horrors, and heaven with its eternal glories! This is a mere glance at Dr. Dwight's system ; and no one, we are sure, can give it an attentive and candid perusal, without being struck with the extent and variety of his theological attainments, the originality and freshness of his conceptions, the force of his reasoning, and the benevolence of his heart.
It is hardly necessary to add, that in his religious views, Dr. Dwight was a Calvinist. By this we do not mean to say, that he adopted all the opinions of the great and much abused Genevan reformer ;-for he certainly did not. But whoever will look into their respective systems, will find a substantial agreement on all the important points, which distinguish them from the school of Arminius. Dr. Dwight, however, called no man master. He went up to the fountain head, and drew water directly