White - Charles - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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White - Charles

Source: H. W. Beckwith, 1881 History of Montgomery County, Indiana (Chicago: HH Hill)

The following extracts taken from a number of the "Wabash Magazine," published December 1861, will be read with pleasure by everyone. We regret that our space will not permit the use of the whole article. Editor: "Rev. Charles White, D.D., died of apoplexy, on Tuesday evening, October 29, 1861. In usual health, he had attended all his college duties during the day, and had spent the evening in writing a sermon on faith, closing his evening in labor with this sentence: "Faith sees the blessed Savior at the death bedside, with attendant angels to soothe and sustain, and bear up the spirit to heaven." After completing his preparations for retiring to rest for the night, he fell across the bed and expired. At half-past nine in the evening he was found by his son, the body still warm and flexible, but life extinct. The countenance, mild and placid in death, as it had ever been in life, indicated that the well poised shaft of death had sped instantly to the seat of life, and that without a struggle or a groan "the spirit was loosened clean and clear from earth," and bouyant and exultant mounted to heaven. The dark valley of the shadow of death was mercifully narrowed to a line, and the loved and honored one on earth passed instantly to the bright regions of heavenly glory, to be carried to the Savior's bosom by those other loved ones of earth who had gone before.

Dr. White was born at Randolph, Massachusetts, December 28, 1795, of pious parents. The family traced their lineage directly to the family of Whites that came over in the Mayflower. Dr. White often referred with pleasure to his pilgrim ancestors. His father dying when he was two years old, he was left to the sole care of a mother of great vigor of intellect and unusual excellence of character. He fitted for college in Randolph, Vermont, under the eminent classical scholar, Rev. Rufus Nutting. He became a member of Dartmouth College in 1817, and graduated with the first honors of his class in 1821. He immediately received the appointment of tutor in his Alma Mater, but declined, and entered the Theological Seminary at Andover, Massachusetts. Interrupted for a time in his theological studies by sickness he spent a year at St. Johns, South Carolina, but afterward returned to Andover and continued his studies until 1824. January 1, 1825, he was settled over a Congregational Church in Thetford, Vermont, as colleague pastor, with his stepfather, Rev. Dr. Burton. After four years at that place, he was called to succeed Rev. Dr. Brown, as minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cazenovia, New York. At that place, and subsequently at Oswego, New York, he fulfilled the duties of pastor with marked success for thirteen years. During the period of his ministry a number of extensive revivals occurred. He received the honorary degree of D.D. from Union College, New York, in 1840. In 1841 he received and accepted an invitation to the Presidency of Wabash College, which position he occupied until removed by death. Dr. White was married to Miss Martha Carter, March 8, 1825. Their family consisted of ten children, five of whom still survive, four sons and one daughter. Mrs. White died December 18, 1860. Dr. White was most widely known in the west as the president of Wabash College. After fourteen years of rich experience as a minister of the gospel, he entered, in the full vigor of his riper years, upon the duties of the presidency of this institution. Possessed of a fine literary taste, he sought to establish a high literary standard. As a teacher he was accurate and industrious. As a presiding officer he was strict, but kind, seeking rather to win than command obedience. Students always highly prized his teaching, and never had occasion to complain of severity in his discipline. His daily morning prayers in the college chapel, his weekly sermons in the pulpit, so full of holy unction and power, his everyday walk and influence, oh, how sadly will we miss them! Dr. White's character can be summed up in these few words: he was of the highest style a Christian scholar. Dr. White's intellect was massive, his conception clear, his idiom largely pure saxon, his style carefully ornate and polished, his ratiocination perfectly logical, his argumentation always cumulative, and his conclusions irresistible. As a thinker he was profound, and as a writer, eminently successful. Never trusting to extemporaneous power, he spoke ever with effect. The acted maxim of his life was, if you wish others to think, you must think yourself. Welling up from the innermost depths of a large heart, and flowing forth in streams at all times pure and sometimes sparkling, his writings possess an interest and excellence which will give them a place above the ordinary productions of the day, with the standard Christian literature of our age. His sentences were always so carefully formed that from their very smoothness they sometimes failed to attract, as they would have done had they been less finished. The human mind is so constructed, or, perhaps, rather warped and weakened by sin, that it grasps more readily and retains more completely the imperfect, the defective. It rejoices not over the ninety-nine as over the one returned from wandering. Thus, also, the least faulty composition is not the most attractive. Dr. White's periods are full and round, wanting the rough edge that we may grasp and retain, or use with power, yet growing more and more in beauty, symmetry and excellence, as we carefully dwell upon and study them. Examples like this might be multiplied indefinitely, but we forbear. Dr. White has published addresses made before the Bible, the Home Missionary, and the temperance societies; also, sermons at the death of President Harrison. and at the internment of Hon. T. A. Howard. He furnished four discourses for the "National Preacher." Other publications of his are a lecture, delivered before the American Institute, in Massachusetts, a number of articles for the "Bibliotheca," at Andover, and many papers for the La Fayette Journal," and New York "Evangelist." His most important work is a volume of essays on literature and ethics, of 471 pages, on the following subjects: Religion an Essential Part of all Education; Independence of Mind; Goodness Indispensable to True Greatness; A Pure and Sound Literature; Political Rectitude; Western Colleges; Contributions of Intellect to Religion; The Practical Element in Christianity; The Conservative Element in Christianity; Protestant Christianity adapted to be the Re1igion of the world; Characteristics of the Present Age; Literary Responsibilities of Teachers. The high literary character of this volume alone would give the author a prominent place among the contributors to a pure and sound literature. The elegant steel engraving found elsewhere in this work represents Dr. White a few years younger than he was at his decease. A very excellent portrait in oil, life size, of President White, adorns the hall of the Lyceum of Wabash College. This valuable painting is a present to the society, by her alumni and friends. Many peculiarly interesting circumstances cluster about the death of Dr. White. While we deeply mourn his loss to his family, to the Church, and especially to the college, we have it not in heart to wish him back again, since death to him is such infinite gain. Less than one year before, while attending the death-bed of his sainted wife; in reply to her expressed regrets at leaving him, he replied: "Not long, I will soon come." How soon is the promise fulfilled, and how kind that Providence which, after so brief a separation, has reunited in Paradise two who loved so long and so well on earth.

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