DWIGHT, TIMOTHY – Sermons and Biblical Studies


(May 14, 1752–January 11, 1817), was an American educator and author. He was the president of Yale, 1795–1817. He was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, the New England minister and president of Princeton University. Timothy Dwight’s grandson, also named Timothy Dwight, was president of Yale from 1886 to 1898.

During his presidency at Yale, Timothy Dwight, Sr. was instrumental in fostering a powerful revival which ensued at the New Haven campus. A large percentage of the class were not only professing Christ, but entering the ministry. On July 4th, 1798, in New Haven, President Timothy Dwight delivered an address entitled, The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis, Illustrated in a Discourse, in which stated:

About the year 1728, Voltaire, so celebrated for his wit and brilliancy and not less distinguished for his hatred of Christianity and his abandonment of principle, formed a systematical design to destroy Christianity and to introduce in its stead a general diffusion of irreligion and atheism. For this purpose he associated with himself Frederick the II, king of Prussia, and Mess. D’Alembert and Diderot, the principal compilers of the Encyclopedie, all men of talents, atheists, and in the like manner abandoned.

The principle parts of this system were:

1. The compilation of the Encyclopedie: in which with great art and insidiousness the doctrines of natural as well as Christian theology were rendered absurd and ridiculous; and the mind of the reader was insensibly steeled against conviction and duty.

2. The overthrow of the religious orders in Catholic countries, a step essentially necessary to the destruction of the religion professed in those countries.

3. The establishment of a sect of philosophists to serve, it is presumed as a conclave, a rallying point, for all their followers.

4. The appropriation to themselves, and their disciples, of the places and honors of members of the French Academy, the most respectable literary society in France, and always considered as containing none but men of prime learning and talents. In this way they designed to hold out themselves and their friends as the only persons of great literary and intellectual distinction in that country, and to dictate all literary opinions to the nation.

5. The fabrication of books of all kinds against Christianity, especially such as excite doubt and generate contempt and derision. Of these they issued by themselves and their friends who early became numerous, an immense number; so printed as to be purchased for little or nothing, and so written as to catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every class of men.

6. The formation of a secret Academy, of which Voltaire was the standing president, and in which book were formed, altered, forged, imputed as posthumous to deceased writers of reputation, and sent abroad with the weight of their names. These were printed and circulated at the lowest price through all classes of men in an uninterrupted succession, and through every part of the kingdom. …

While these measures were advancing the great design with a regular and rapid progress, Doctor Adam Weishaupt, professor of the canon law in the University of Ingolstadt, a city of Bavaria (in Germany), formed, about the year 1777, the order of Illuminati. This order is professedly a high order of Masons, originated by himself, and grafted on ancient Masonic institutions. …

In societies of Illuminati, doctrines were taught which strike at the root of all human happiness and virtue; and every such doctrine was either expressly or implicitly involved in their system. The being of God was denied and ridiculed. … The possession of property was pronounced robbery. Chastity and natural affection were declared to be nothing more than groundless prejudices. Adultery, assassination, poisoning, and other crimes of the like infernal nature, were taught as lawful and even as virtuous actions. To crown such a system of falsehood and horror, all means were declared to be lawful, provided the end was good. …

The great and good ends proposed by the Illuminati as the ultimate objects of their union are the overthrow of religion, government, and human society, civil and domestic. These they pronounce to be so good that murder, butchery, and war, however extended and dreadful, are declared by them to be completely justifiable if necessary for these great purposes. With such an example in view, it will be in vain to hunt for ends, which can be evil. Correspondent with this summary was the whole system. No villainy, no impiety, no cruelty can be named which was not vindicated; and no virtue which was not covered with contempt.

The means by which this society was enlarged and its doctrines spread were of every promising kind. With unremitted ardor and diligence the members insinuated themselves into every place of power and trust, and into every literary, political, and friendly society; engrossed as much as possible the education of youth, especially of distinction; became licensers of the press and directors of every literary journal; waylaid every foolish prince, every unprincipled civil officer, and every abandoned clergyman; entered boldly into the desk, and with unhallowed hands and satanic lips polluted the pages of God; enlisted in their service almost all the booksellers and of course the printers of Germany; inundated the country with book replete with infidelity, irreligion, immorality, and obscenity; prohibited the printing and prevented the sale of books of the contrary character; decried and ridiculed them when published in spite of their efforts; panegyrized and trumpeted those of themselves and their coadjutors; and in a word made more numerous, more diversified, and more strenuous exertions than an active imagination would have preconceived. …

Where religion prevails, Illumination cannot make disciples, a French directory cannot govern, a nation cannot be made slaves, nor villains, nor atheists, nor beasts. To destroy us therefore, in this dreadful sense, our enemies must first destroy our Sabbath and seduce us from the house of God. Religion and liberty are the two great objects of defensive war. Conjoined, they united all the feelings and call forth all the energies of man. …

Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic. Withdraw one of them and in languishes, consumes, and dies. If indifference to either, at any time, becomes the prevailing character of a people, one half of their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased. Here, eminently, they are inseparable.

Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves, but not the freedom of New England. If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it and nothing would be left which would be worth defending.1433

Timothy Dwight stated:

Where there is no religion, there is no morality. … With the loss of religion … the ultimate foundation of confidence is blown up; and the security of life, liberty and property are buried in ruins.1434

The Bible is a window in this prison of hope, through which we look into eternity.1435

Perhaps no one who has persisted in his efforts to gain eternal life was ever finally deserted by the Spirit of grace.1436

In a 1777 sermon, Timothy Dwight explained:

Nothing obstructs the deliverance of America but the crimes of its inhabitants …

Independence and happiness [are] fixed upon the most lasting foundations, and that Kingdom of the Redeemer … [is] highly exalted and durably established on the ruins

In a sermon Yale President Timothy Dwight communicated:

God brought His little flock hither and placed it in this wilderness, for the great purpose of establishing permanently the church of Christ in these vast regions of idolatry and sin, and commencing here the glorious work of salvation. This great continent is soon to be filled with the praise of the Millennium. But here is the seed, from which this vast harvest is to spring.1437