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is, that God has commanded us to love him with all the heart, and all the soul, and all the strength, and all the mind, and our neighbors as ourselves. If we obey this command, I do not see how it is possible that we can do more in building up the kingdom of Christ, or in promoting the spiritual welfare of our neighbor, than our duty to God and man requires. The other is, that as these labors have received in a most signal manner, the blessing of God, it is perfectly safe, it is a duty which we cannot neglect with impunity, to persevere in our efforts. Let us follow the plain path pointed out by the providence of God. Let us work as long as the Divine Spirit will bless our labors—let us imitate our departed brother in his activity, in his zeal, in his faith, in his love to the kingdom of Christ and to the souls of men; and then at the last day, we may have confidence, that with him we shall stand on the right hand of the Judge, and receive the sentence, “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.”” ?
The last revival which Mr. Dwight was permitted to witness, (that in the Chapel St. Church in 1842–43,) resembled the revival of 1820-21 in its general features, though it was much more limited in extent and duration. Early in the winter, a few brethren met with their pastor for consultation and prayer respecting the state of the church, and were deeply affected by the interview. Similar meetings were held for several weeks in succession at the house of Mr. Dwight, till the number who attended them increased from ten or twelve to between thirty and forty; all male members of the church. At these meetings the brethren communicated their own feelings freely to each other, with whatever was known of the spiritual condition of the church at large; they agreed to visit all the families of the church, to sustain religious conferences in various sections of the city, and to secure, as far as possible, the attendance of their impenitent friends and neighbors at the inquiry meetings appointed by their pastor. Gradually the opportunities of religious instruction were multiplied, and many of the congregation became deeply concerned for the welfare of their souls. In the progress of the revival, very judicious and timely aid was rendered to the pastor by Rev. E. Beecher, D. D., whose labors will long be remembered with gratitude. One blessed effect of those labors was the elevation of the tone of piety in the church, so that the work of grace was little affected by the departure of Dr. B.; but the various meetings were sustained with unabated interest for several weeks after he was gone. In this revival, Mr. Dwight was particularly active, and did much by exhortation and example to animate his brethren in the performance of their duty. It was evidently a hallowed season to his own soul.
I have dwelt at considerable length upon the vari. ous methods of promoting revivals of religion, because the views of such an intelligent and experien
ced friend of revivals as the subject of this memoir was every where known to be, must be of value to all who love the prosperity of Zion. If these pages have thus far exhibited the marks of the essayist rather than the biographer, I count it one of the chief merits of my subject that his life was a series of sober and useful essays rather than of entertaining incidents.
But let us now resume our survey of the character of Mr. Dwight. His activity in the service of the Redeemer has been sufficiently exhibited in connection with the several works of grace which have now been described. Let it not be supposed, however, that his religious activity was confined to seasons of revival. True, at such times, his love would be more ardent, his faith more clear and strong, his prayers more fervent, his efforts more zealous than in a less excited state of feeling in the community on the subject of religion. Such, we believe, is the experience of every Christian. But Mr. Dwight was far from being a periodical Christian. Though he thought much, perhaps too much, of "special" efforts for the conversion of men, there was great uniformity and consistency in his own piety. He was susceptible of deep religious feeling; yet religion with him was evidently a practical matter and a matter of principle. It governed him in all the transactions of life. He endeavored to conduct his business according to the rules of the Gospel, and gained an enviable reputation for scrupulous integrity.
He was regular in his attendance on the stated meetings of the church. His seat was never vacant in the sanctuary or the lecture-room, unless he was absent from the city or detained at home by ill health; and until within a few weeks before his death, he walked every Thursday evening the distance of a mile or more to conduct a conference in the eastern or southern section of the city. He could always be depended upon by his pastor and Christian brethren, to carry forward any plan of usefulness in the church.
He was a man of great stability and decision of character. His manner of expressing his opinion had, to a stranger, the appearance of sternness. But this was a fault in manner only; for he had the same decided way of speaking, upon trivial as upon weighty subjects. It was a habit formed under the example of his father, and was in keeping with the position of that distinguished instructor of youth, though it sometimes appeared out of place in the ordinary transactions of life. Mr. Dwight was sensible, in his later years, that this peculiarity had somewhat impaired his influence, and both regretted and endeavored to correct it. He once said to me of his own accord, “ My way of speaking leads some to suppose that I wish to dictate; but I have no such desire; and if I had, it would be sinful.”
Mr. Dwight was indeed impatient of contradiction when he had made up his mind as he supposed in accordance with reason and truth. Quackery and im
posture commonly met with a merited rebuke in his presence; but he was always willing to investigate the truth, and was open to conviction by fair argument. He could usually assign some good reason for differing from others, and he respected their rights too much to censure them for differing from him. In a church or society meeting, after a frank expression of his own views, he would always acquiesce in the decision of the majority. He might think that decision unwise, he might not hesitate to call it so; but if it was an expression of the will of the body, he would respect it and abide by it. Would that every Congregationalist understood his duty as well!
His frankness of expression was often pleasing to those who were too much accustomed to it to take offence when it bore hard upon themselves. I recolleet once being in company with him and Mr. C***, when Homepathy was the subject of conversation. I soon perceived that Mr. C. was an advocate of the system, and was therefore cautious in stating my objections to it, not to wound his sensibilities even in an infinitesimal degree. But Mr. Dwight, having little patience with what he looked upon as downright quackery, said bluntly, “Do you suppose, now, Mr. C. that any man of common sense can believe in such a system ?”
“I do not claim,” said Mr. C. “to have any large measure of common sense, yet I must confess that I both believe in it, and practice according to it.”