Westbrook, Cornelius D, Dd
Westbrook, Cornelius D., D.D.
an early and distinguished minister of the Reformed (Dutch) Church, was a descendant of both Puritan and Huguenot stock. His father was a Revolutionary soldier; his mother died in his infancy. He was born at Rochester, Ulster Co., N. Y., in 1782; graduated at Union College in 1801; studied theology with Dr. Theodoric Romeyn, and was licensed in 1804 by the Classis of Albany. He was settled at Fishkill, N. Y., twenty-four years (1806- 30). Then for three years he was the first editor of the Christian Intelligencer, which had just been established as a weekly paper in place of the old Monthly, the "Magazine of the Reformed Dutch Church." After this he became rector of the grammar school of Rutgers College in 1833; but returned to the pastorate in 1836 at Cortlandtown, N. Y., where he remained fourteen years (1836-50), and then retired from active service to Kingston, N.Y., where he died in 1858. Dr. Westbrook was in every respect a man sui generis. He was original in thought, speech, writing, and action. He stereotyped nothing, for he could never be anything but himself. He was learned and scholarly in his tastes, but could never endure rigid system, nor follow in the tracks of others. His mind was quick, intuitively springing to conclusions which others reached only by slow reasonings. His intellect and heart and will all acted impulsively, and often at a white heat. He studied topics, not treatises and systems. His preaching was molded in the same way, by generous and noble impulses, by large views of truth, by intense and fervid conceptions, and by the genius, which often shone in his illustrations and peculiar modes of expression, as well as by the piety, which warmed his childlike heart. In prayer also he was himself, natural, trustful in God, reverential, and devout. At the grave of Washington among the veterans of the War of 1812, whose chaplain he was, he prayed so that no eye was dry in that assembly of gray-haired heroes. His social qualities were unique and attractive. He was a Nathanael in whom there was no guile, but he was also as cheerful and happy and exuberant as a boy. His heart never grew old. "He was always a boy." His pupils, parishioners, and friends loved him just because he was Dr. Westbrook, unlike any one else, and always genial, gentle, great-hearted, honest, simple-minded, single-eyed, and unselfish, full of sympathy for the weak and suffering, full of generosity and labors for the cause of Christ. His very frailties grew out of the simplicity of his large nature, and doubtless they added much to his experiences of the grace of God. See Corwin, Manual of the Ref. Church, p. 264,265. (W. J. R. T.)