Hewit Nathaniel, Dd

Hewit. Nathaniel, D.D.

a Presbyterian minister was born in New London, Conn., August 28,1788. He graduated A.B. at Yale College in 1808. He commenced the study of law, but soon became satisfied of his call to the ministry, and devoted himself to theology, under the tuition of Dr. Joel Benedict, of Plainfield, Conn. In 1811 he was licensed to preach by the New-London Congregational Association, and, after preaching for a while in Vermont, went to the new theological seminary at Andover to gain still further preparation for his work. In 1815 he was installed as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Plattsburg, N. Y. After some years of very successful labor there, he was called to the Congregational Church at Fairfield, Conn. Here he became known as one of "the most eloquent and powerful preachers in the country, and here it was that his pulpit from Sabbath to Sabbath sounded out that clarion blast of God's truth against intemperance, which, with a similar and equally powerful series of sermons at the same time from Dr. Lyman Beecher at Litchfield, soon aroused the whole Church and ministry of the land." He and Dr. Beecher were apostles of the American Temperance Reformation. In 1828 he resigned his charge at Fairfield to become agent of the American Temperance Society, then newly formed. "He addressed himself to this work with the spirit alike of a hero and a martyr, and prosecuted it with amazing ability and success. Far and wide, as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, with invincible logic, with bold earnestness, with fearless fidelity, with torrents — often cataracts — of burning eloquence, he moved, and fired, and electrified the people. The reform made rapid headway. It enlisted the great majority of the moral and Christian portion of society, the aged and the young, reclaiming many and guarding multitudes against intemperance. Of the astounding eloquence and effects of these discourses I have often heard, in forms and from quarters so various as to leave little doubt that what Luther was to the Reformation, Whitefield to the Revival of 1740, Wesley to primitive Methodism, that was Nathaniel Hewit to the early Temperance Reformation" (Atwater, Memorial Discourse). In 1830 he became pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Bridgeport, Conn. In 1831 he went to England in behalf of the cause of temperance, and his great powers of eloquence were never more signally displayed than on this visit. In power of logical argument and impassioned delivery few orators of the time exceeded Dr. Hewit. Returning home, he resumed his labors at Bridgeport, where he served until 1853, when he resigned this charge, and assumed that of a new Presbyterian Church formed by members of his old parish. He had always been an adherent to the doctrines of the Westminster Confession. The East Windsor (now Hartford) Theological Seminary owed its existence and maintenance largely to him. In 1862 he was compelled by growing infirmity to withdraw from active duty, and an associate pastor was appointed. He died at Bridgeport February 3, 1867.

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