University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT)

 - Class of 1896

Page 9 of 263

 

University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT) online yearbook collection, 1896 Edition, Page 9 of 263
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University of Vermont - Ariel Yearbook (Burlington, VT) online yearbook collection, 1896 Edition, Page 8
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Page 9 text:

Doctrine " in two volumes. He was too sagacious not to foresee and forestall the criticism which his work would encounter in that " it be- tokens subjective qualities unduly for a historical production." Under the same impression, the reviewer, with caustic twang, says the work is not so exactly Dr. Shedd's History of Doctrine as the " History of Dr. Shedd's Doctrine." The remark may be meant for stigma, it may be taken as compliment, for, if a sincere man set out to compose an ac- count of the Christian Doctrine, excluding in his preface " the latitudi- narian drift of thoughtf' what could he exhibit but that which he believed to be true ? Great was the surprise when the successful Andover professor accepted a call to the pulpit of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York city in the throes of the Civil War, the year 1862. The pastorate was as brief as that earlier service in the quiet Vermont village, yet it was help- ful to his advancement. With the opening of the academic year, 1863, Dr. Shedd took the chair of New Testament Greek in Union Theological Seminary. Still was he often in the pulpits of New York, and whenever he was announced, a bevy of eager students and other thoughtful folk might be found in attendance. And after sermon we would stroll in the parks or up and down the avenues,-talking about Dr. Sheddl Nor was our great scholar even yet in his place, we felt and said. But eleven years of Biblical Exegesis would enhance his already various qualifications. To edit the volume on the Gospel of Mark for Lange's Commentary was an incident of the period: his own Commentary on Romans is a better exponent. Then the volume of " Sermons to the Natural Man," 1871, greeted those who had hung so fondly on the grave but stirring and kindling preaching of their revered teacher. Dr. Shedcl assumed the chair of Systematic Theology in Union Sem- inary in 1874. At last he was in his appropriate sphere. All his fore- going studies, from the day when he sat down to read and teach English Literature in Burlington in 1845, through nearly thirty years, had been contributing to his Htness for the position of commanding influence. The materials of his subject were already tto use one of his expressionsj "fused in his own mind." He appears to have written his course of lectures currently and orderly as a regulated stream out of a copious fountain. One will notice upon comparison, the correspondence be- tween the plan of his Systematic Theology and the arrangement of the n 8

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Living at one of the choicest sites in Burlington, amid scenes of in- comparable natural beauty , absorbed in the books of his mother tongue which he fervently believed to contain the most vigorous and healthful literature in the modern languages, contemplating at the same time the writings and examples of the classical ages, Prof. Shedd was also in a keen atmosphere of philosophy. The spirit of Pres. Nlarsh Cfwhose premature deceasej' says he, " is the greatest loss American philosophy has yet been called to meet,"D still prevailed in the University and was honored widely in the country. Coleridge was the vogue, and Kant was a name with which to divine. The professor of English Literature revelled in this field of high thinking. He surely was no slavish follower of Coleridge, for he saw clearly that the aphoristic style was fatal to the construction of a system, albeit wondrously stimulating. He regarded Coleridge as useful rather for suggestion and enterprise in speculation. 'f No one,'t says he, " who has once mastered this author can possibly stop with him, but is urged on to the study of the greatest and choicest philosophical systems themselves." The occupations of Prof. Shedd's mind, when at the age of thirty-two he was required to leave Burlington for a career in theology, may be inferred from the productions of his pen about 1851-52. There is the Amherst address on the " True Nature of the Beautiful and its Relation to Culture " 3 the introduction on " Coleridge as a Philosopher and Theologian "5 an essay on " Original Sin " in the Christian Review, and the inaugural at Auburn on the "Characteristics and importance of a Natural Rhetoric." The professorship at Auburn Seminary lasted scarcely two years. The lectures prepared for his department of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology were "thrown aside," he says, when he went to Andover in another capacity, yet when he was persuaded to gather them up for a book ten years later, they constituted the most popular of his many volumes. Prof. Shedd took the chair of Ecclesiastical History in Andover Sem- inary in 1854. It cannot be claimed that he was a specialist. He was rather a theologian traversingthe domain of history. He was effective, however, and fruitful. He sent to the press Guericke's Church History, "translated or rather transfused into English," as Dr. Schaff said. He brought before the public Augustine's Confessions in new dress 5 and he wound up his ten years in the department with the " History of Christian i 7



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History of Christian Doctrine. Now reappears his preference for the ancients over the men of the hour, still more Hrmly grounded on the " conviction that there were some minds in the former ages of Chris- tianity who were called by Providence to do a work that will never be outgrown and left behind by the Christian Churchf' He goes to Athanasius for theology proper, to Augustine for anthropology, and to Anselm 'for soteriology. To a mind like that of Dr. Shedd there must have been deep congeniality in the learned Alexandrian so often exiled in the West, in the Latin rhetorician converted and raised to be Bishop of Hippo, and in the Abbot of Bec exalted to the archbishopric of Canter- bury. lt would be difhcult to name three souls in the Christian era to whom he would be more likely to fasten through aflinity than Athanasius ponderingthe problem of the Trinity, Augustine sounding the dark depths of Sin, and Anselm answering the question, " Cur Deus Homo ? " Dr. Shedd lectured on Systematic Theology from 1874 till 1890, and put forth as his Magnum Opus the volumes hearing the title, " Dogmatic Theology? He became Professor emeritus and spent his last years in studious retirement revising his latest works. A volume of "Theological Essayst' had appeared in 18775 " Literary Essays " in 1878 5 "Sermons to the Spiritual Man " in 1884, and a treatise on " Eternal Punishment " in 1886. It is noticeable that when a 10th edition of his " Homiletics " was called for in 1891, he t' seized the opportunity to add an appendix in order to illustrate the rhetorical theory which pervades the work, namely, that eloquence in its essential nature is ethical, not aesthetic," re- curring to the thought that inspired the outset of his career. A third volume supplementary to the " Dogmatic Theology 4' went to the press shortly before his death. He died at his home in New York city, Nov. 17, 1894. It is not necessary to coincide with Dr. Shedd in all regards in order to admire his splendid attainrnents and masterly ability. "These are my views," he would say, and there was an end of urging. But there was in him a certain quality to fertilize other minds, a voice to awake slumbering intellect, through calm lectures or through printed books, a certain vision and expression which went to the degree of mental fasci- nation or magnetism. He had limits in one direction and another. He himself recognized the fact that non omnia posszmzzifs omizes. But in his own way he rose alongside his comrades in learning and attained an alti- 91

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