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DRIVING HOME TRUTH.
brought before the mind, it must be made to penetrate it. It is not enough to lay the wedge on the log you would rive, it must be driven into it. The heavy swinging beetle is as necessary as the wedge. We cannot doubt that if all ministers in this best sense would drive more, their labors would become more effective.
Such was the character of the preaching of Dr. Woodbridge, and such the vital themes discussed and enforced. If the power of the pulpit is THE POWER OF THE TRUTHS OF WHICH IT BECOMES THE EXPONENT, it cannot be surprising that the pulpit of Hadley became a power diffusive throughout the town, elevating as well intellectually as morally.
We will here subjoin the opinions of his pulpit powers entertained by gentlemen, most of whom had sat for a longer or shorter period under his roinistry.
Rev. IIenry Seymour writes :
"I was born under the ministry of Dr. Woodbridge. The sacred seal of the covenant was put upon me by his hand; and I grew up under his ministrations to the age of fourteen, when he was called to New York. My opinion of Dr. Woodbridge was exalted. He was indeed a man of great eloquence and power. His voice was one of unwonted compass and melody; his person was noble and commanding; his whole soul was engaged; and seldom have I listened to a speaker who moved and electrified his audience as he was accustomed to do during his first pastorate in Hadley."
H. K. Edson writes :
“Of his vivid realization and deep, experimental knowledge of the great doctrines he preached, I had some opportunity to judge. With regard to the excellence of his preaching there is little danger of overstatement. He dwelt much upon the deeper themes of revelation the sovereignty and decrees of God, and the atonement, and all the distinguishing doctrines of grace. He displayed a loftiness of thought and experience, and earnestness of nanner, truly becoming these elevated subjects, and which will never be forgotten by those who were privileged to hear him, and could not fail to go away from his preaching with the feeling that God is a great and glorious Being."
Dr. Lewis Sabin writes : “ I attended the Academy at Hadley several terms in my preparation
for college. I could not trust my judgment then as to the character of his preaching. This I can say: Dr. Woodbridge's preaching made a deep impression on my mind. There was a clearness, force, and hearty earnestness in his thoughts, style and expression, and manner of delivery, which made him seem to me like a giant, grand, mighty, and fearless of
He grasped and handled with ease the great God-exalting truths of revelation, under which most ministers would stagger and show signs of weakness. Yet few preachers showed more depth and tenderness of feeling than he was wont to manifest in portraying the wonderful love of God, the compassion of Christ, or the wretched condition of Christless sinners. Often, in exhibiting such themes, his eyes were
a fountain of tears,' and his utterance was choked by his gushing emotions. Whether he addressed the young or the old, it was with point and power, and very pertinent application of scriptural proofs and illustrations. Some might dislike his doctrine and cavil at his propositions, but they could not question his sincerity, his benevolence, and his fidelity to his conscience.”
The following is from Rev. S. H. Riddel :
“I have had a good deal of knowledge of Dr. Woodbridge, and considerable intercourse with him in my day. I was present, when a boy of ten years old, at his ordination in Hadley as colleague with my grandfather, and afterwards sat under his preaching for some two years while fitting for college. His preaching made a deep impression upon me at that time, though I did not regard myself as a Christian. I used to hear his sermons with so much interest, that I was in the habit of returning to my room after the services, and writing out from recollection a full outline of the whole plan and train of thought. The impression of his preaching upon the whole auditory was always strong, often powerful, sometimes overwhelming. I remember — and it was not a rare thing to have seen strong men moved to tears, under the force of truths presented from his lips. It seemed to be the power of the truth, as he brought it to bear upon the conscience or the heart, rather than the preacher's power, that every one felt. His sermons were largely doctrinal – dealing with those scriptural truths which search the hearts and try the souls of men. In presenting them, his statement was lucid and discriminating, his argument clear and cogent, and his application close. In his appeal to the feelings he was vehement or tender, forcible or persuasive, as the subject and occasion specially required. If eloquence is logic set on fire,' Dr. Woodbridge was, in those days, an eloquent preacher. His action, in the delivery of his sermons, was uncommonly animated, - the forcible rather than the graceful predominating, though in the latter there was no deficiency. It was in keeping with his character. His whole person preached."
“Dorchester, Nov. 15, 1871. "Rev. S. D. CLARK.
“Dear Sir: I am devoutly thankful that you are engaged in the preparation of a biography of Rev. Dr. Woodbridge, whom I knew personally, though not intimately, but whom I highly esteemed. I was first introduced to him when a youth in Amherst College, by Rev. Heman Humphry, D. D., then president of that institution. He had come over from Hadley to preach in the chapel, and gave us a sermon of great power on the sovereignty of God; which, I well remember, produced a very serious and deep impression, and which was soon followed by a revival that brought into the church Lyman, Hibbard, and others, who subsequently became faithful missionaries and ministers of Christ.
“ He was then in manhood's prime; and it was my privilege frequently to see him and to hear him preach or lecture. His style was natural and flowing, always clear and perspicuous, and at times terse and elegant; his personal appearance was dignified and commanding, and his delivery easy, graceful, earnest, and impressive. His arguments were logic on fire. He excelled as a preacher, always seeking to exalt the Creator and to humble the creature. We may say of him, as Dr. Bellamy's servant said of his master : he made. God appear so big, so very big, and man so little.'
“ His preaching was doctrino-practical; that is, having discussed in the forepart of a sermon an important subject of evangelical faith, in the latter part he made a pungent application of it. At that period, few ministers appeared in the chapel-pulpit whom we students were so happy to hear; for he was master of his subject, “a scribe well instructed in the oracles of God,' profoundly experienced in personal religion, and burning with desire to instruct and save those to whom he ministered. I sincerely hope that your book may present him just as he was,-sound in doctrine, in manners uncorrupt, earnest, grave and faithful, a good minister of Jesus Christ. May God aid and succeed your endeavors is the sincere prayer of your friend,
A. R. BAKER."
“WILLIAMSTOWN, Dec. 4, 1871. " Rev. SERENO D. CLARK.
My Dear Sir: You request me to furnish you with any reminiscences of the late Dr. John Woodbridge which I may be able to recall. And you make this request on the ground that I studied theology with hinı; and must have some facts and incidents in mind respecting him which will be of service to you in that sketch of his life which you are now preparing for publication.
“Your letter has been before me for days — I may say weeks, while I have been summoning courage to undertake to comply with your request. But whenever I make the attempt my heart almost fails me.
I venerated and loved Dr. Woodbridge for his many excellences and high attainments. My hesitation, therefore, about complying with your request, arises wholly from my inability to do anything like full justice to his character and worth. Besides, it is now forty-five years since I was under his tuition. You can readily imagine, then, it will be extremely difficult for me, at this late day, to convey to others an adequate impression of what he was in my estimation at that time. Understand, then, I cannot do justice to my own views of the character, attainments, and usefulness of Dr. Woodbridge. In a word, a worthy idea of him I cannot give.
“The first time I ever saw Dr. Woodbridge was on the third day of September, 1823, when he pronounced in Williamstown the first oration ever delivered before our Society of Alumni. It was a great occasion. The congregation was large; the spacious church was densely filled. There was something so attractive in his personal appearance; his voice was so full, clear, and sonorous; his style was so lucid and finished; his whole manner was so eloquent and earnest; that the deep impression made on my mind on that occasion has never been effaced from my recollection. With the single exception of Dr. Griffin, I then considered him the most eloquent pulpit orator I had ever heard.
“ Some of his closing remarks were so tender, touching, and appropriate, that I can almost recall them without referring to the discourse. • Beloved friends,' said he, we gather around our Alma Mater to-day with affectionate gratitude, and invoke the richest blessings on her head. Long may she live and flourish; and when we shall be no more, may other generations behold her, venerable in all the lustre of learning and of sanctity, and happy in the virtues, the honors, and the respectful kindnesses of lier sons. May the union of science and religion here ever remain inviolable; may the Muses invited to these retreats be those that dwelt with the sage of Horeb, and the inspiration of genius be enkindled by the breath of Him
'Who touched Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire!'
“ In general, it may be said he was lucid and forcible in his exposi. tions of gospel truth; and with uncommon power were his discourses inade to bear on the conscience and heart of his hearers. He was both logical and rhetorical, and at times truly eloquent; perhaps some would say, vehement. His preaching was instructive, discriminating, and searching; but perhaps not always popular with the multitude. His voice was strong and clear. His enunciation was distinct. His bodily presence in the pulpit was dignified and solemn; and he always showed himself to be in earnest. As he arose to address his audience, he seemed to say, 'I have a message from God to thee.'
"In his religious sentiments, Dr. Woodbridge was truly evangelical.
HE ENCOURAGED SOCIAL PRAYER.
His sentiments were those which were embraced and maintained by our Puritan ancestors; and have been recognized in the confessions of faith of most Protestant churches. He belonged to the old school of New England theology. He was a great admirer of Edwards, and was familiar with his writings. He always spoke approvingly of the writings of Dr. Samuel Hopkins, and probably did not differ from him on many points. Without calling any man ‘master,' he was willing to be known as a Calvinist. He heartily adopted the Westminster Catechism. The doctrines of grace,' as the phrase has been generally understood, were in his view essential to Christianity; and he considered a denial of these doctrines a sufficient ground for withholding Christian fellowship, even when the external conduct was fair.
" It is hardly possible but that the preaching of such a man should prove an unspeakable blessing to those who enjoyed his stated ministrations. And so it was. Dr. Woodbridge was wise to win souls to Christ. His first pastorate at Hadley was from 1810 to 1830. During these twenty years his preaching was with power; not unfrequently amid the wonderful effusions of the Holy Ghost. He was favored with repeated revivals. Yours truly,
Calvin DURFEE.” Says another :
“ Dr. Woodbridge was a clear, bold, effective preacher, dwelling much on evangelical doctrines, and always stating his views of truth with great simplicity and directness. His address, in earlier years, was remarkably impressive, and left a vivid remembrance upon his auditors. Argumentative and forcible, his sermons breathed the Spirit of Christ. Powerful revivals of religion accompanied his ministry, and his influence was widely diffused throughout the Church."
HIS GENERAL PAROCHIAL LABORS, COMBINED WITH CERTAIN
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS AND HIS REFORMATORY SPIRIT
Dr. Woodbridge early inculcated on his people not merely the duty and habit of prayer, but the duty and habit of social prayer.
He would have his church as a body open, and keep open, a channel of communication with the exhaustless Source of all good. As moved by one mighty inpulse