Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History

Academics

1861

Reverend Lyman Whiting, Commencement speaker

The Reverend Lyman Whiting, D.D., pastor of the High Street Congregational Church in Providence, Rhode Island, gave the Commencement address.

Born in North Brookfield, Massachusetts on 28 Apr. 1817, Whiting attended common schools and worked on his father's farm until he was fifteen. He studied one year at Amherst Academy, studied Greek in 1835, and entered Amherst College in the same year. Intense application to study injured his health, and he returned to his father's farm at the middle of his second year. He taught during the winter at Centre School, then took private tuition and teaching in Cambridge, bypassing college, to begin theological study. Whiting graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1842, married in 1843, and became an assistant pastor in Brookfield.

Whiting never remained in a pastorate for very long. He became pastor of the First Congregational Church in Lawrence, MA in 1847.  He moved to Reading, MA in 1851, but within a few months his health failed and his congregation sent him to Europe to recover.  He wrote a popular lecture on the Great Exposition of London, and its repetition funded the expenses of the European tour. Upon returning, he took a position in Portsmouth, NH, but remained only three years before accepting a call to Brooklyn, NY.  After only a few months, he was called to the High Street Congregational Church in Providence in December 1859. After five years, Whiting was called to Dubuque, Iowa, to a church "struggling under a discouraging debt", but he pulled them out of debt and doubled the membership. While in Dubuque, Whiting performed the marriage ceremony for three of his daughters at the same time. From there, he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin,, where he remained with his congregation for four years. After three years in a Congregational church in Philadelphia, Whiting moved to Charlestown, West Virginia, but after a few years moved to South Williamstown.

In addition to holding parishes, Whiting published and edited a number of articles and journals, including the Congregational and Presbyterian Reviews. He published "The Old Testament in the New" in the American Theological Review, Vol. 3, No. X, April 1861, pp. 283-290. He edited an eight-page monthly, and also gave numerous lectures and addresses. He received an honorary A.M. from Amherst College in 1844, and D.D. at Iowa College in 1868.  He was widely recognized as "a laborious student, an original thinker, a terse and striking writer, an impressive preacher, and a sound and able theologian, true to his convictions, and faithful in his utterance of the truth."  He died in 1906, and his extensive papers (15.5 linear ft.) may be found at the University of Iowa.

At the 28 February 1862 meeting of the R.I. Institute of Instruction, Whiting gave an evening lecture on "The Comforts and Pleasures of School Keeping", in which he presented an "idealization of the teacher's work, of rare insight and beauty" in the form of "a charming literary feast, enriched by pertinent counsel and enlivened by poetic beauties. It is seldom that an audience is regaled by the presentation of fresh and sparkling thoughts so exquisitely adorned by all the graces of style that a cultivated imagination can impart." Among the comforts Whiting identified were, "The continuance of personal youthfulness to the teacher,...the positive beauty of childhood,...the pleasing incidents of the schoolroom,...and the realm of Hope which surrounds every child's existence." Seeing in children "a glance toward the eternal future", Whiting asked if teaching could "be other than a perennial joy and refreshing pleasure to all engaging in it?" [reported in The R.I. Schoolmaster, Vol. 8, No. 3, March 1862, p. 84-86]

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