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thorities, but as helps to the student. The legitimate use of our standard theological writers is no more to supersede the study of the Bible, than the same use of a system of chemistry, or botany, or astronomy, or intellectual philosophy, is to excuse the student from investigating the laws and phenomena either of matter or mind. In religion, our ultimate appeal is to the word of God, just as in physical science it is to his works. To say nothing of the infinite hazard of relying implicitly upon the expositions of men, it is just as unphilosophical, as it would be to close the book of nature, and take it for granted that the system, or text book before us, contains all that is known, or ever can be found out, by the most diligent investigation. The man who attempts to reduce every revealed truth to what he conceives to be its
appropriate place in his system, will be likely to meet with the same difficulties, as if he were to attempt a perfectly scientific classification of all the objects in nature. He can only approximate towards perfection in either case; and in both, this is found to be sufficient for all practical purposes.
But on the other hand, nothing can be more unreasonable than the indiscriminate censure which has been lavished upon creeds and systems. They are adapted to aid the biblical student, by bringing kindred doctrines together, and giving him a connected view of their harmonious relations, just as the student of nature is assisted by the classifications of Linnæus, and other distinguished philosophical writers. If the former is liable to place too much reliance upon his favorite system, so is the latter. The mind may, in either case, be fettered, or misled, by fallible authority ; bụt it is now quite too late to sustain the sentence of condemnation against a good thing,' on
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 mindan 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 genuine 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 reverence. 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 culprit's 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