This is the day that … Timothy Dwight was born in Massachusetts, in 1752.
He is remembered for his hymn …
I love Thy Kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
with His own precious blood.
I love Thy Church, O God!
Her walls before Thee stand
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
and graven on Thy hand.
But Timothy Dwight was more than a hymn writer. He was one of the theological giants of the 18th century. His grandfather was Jonathan Edwards, whose ministry sparked off America’s first Great Awakening.
Young Timothy entered Yale University at the age of 13 and studied so much by candlelight that he permanently injured his eyesight. In later life he could not read more than 15 minutes a day without “intense pain”.
Despite this he became pastor of a Congregational church in Connecticut (1783), and was eventually elected President of Yale University in 1795. Here he inspired the godless students by his piety and chaplaincy work. A revival ensued in 1802 resulting in a third of the student body being converted.
He lectured on “ethics, metaphysics, logic, theology, literature and oratory,” revised the Psalmody of Isaac Watts, and added 33 of his own hymns.
He was a personal friend of George Washington, and he wrote four volumes of travels in New England and New York.
“He was,” writes Albert Bailey, “one of the outstanding men of colonial America … and without question the best known and most influential in his day on education, theology and literature!” (The Gospel in Hymns, pages 478-9).
Timothy Dwight died in Connecticut on 11 January, 1817.
Note: Much has been said of the special grace seen on the descendents of Jonathan Edwards. Timothy Dwight, as a grandson to that great evangelist, is a clear example of the quality found in that family line.