« PreviousContinue »
gance are happily united; but it might have been more extensively useful, if no doctrine of a disputable nature had been introduced*.
Dr. Doddridge was active in the scheme for erecting a county infirmary at Northampton. He published, in 1743, a Sermon in favour of that benevolent design ; and the success of it was greatly owing to his exertions.
In the same year, Dr. Doddridge became a member of a Philosophical Society at Northampton. In the course of their meetings in 1744, he exhibited a paper on the doctrine of pendulums, and another on the laws of the communication of motion, as well in elastic as in non-elastic bodies. The most material propositions relating to both were set in a very plain light in these papers. He likewise wrote and communicated to the Royal Society three papers, which evince the extraordinary activity of his mind.
In 1745, he published "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,' illustrated in a course of serious addresses, suited to persons of every character and circumstance, with a devout meditation or prayer added to each chapter. This was one of the most popular and useful of his practical works. It met with the warmest applause, not only from the Dissenters, but from several persons of rank, learning, and piety, both clergy and laity, in the established church. A person of distinguished literature and goodness always carried the work with him ; declaring that it was every thing on the subject of serious and practical devotiont
In 1747, Dr. Doddridge published Some remarkable Passages in the Life of the Hon. Col. James Gardiner.' His design was not merely to perform a tribute of gratitude to the memory of an invaluade friend, but of duty to God and his fellow-creatures; as he had a cheerful hope that the narrative would, under the divine blessing, be the means of spreading a warm and lively sense of religion. I
* There is some reason to believe, that they were made use of in the education of the royal children. See Letters to and from the Rev. Philip Doddridge, D. D. p. 89. ?
† There are some strictures on this performance, that deserve attention, in a Letter to the Doctor, written by one of his best friends, and inserted in Dr. Kippis' Life, page 91–95.
7. Among the Doctor's literary correspondents, who thought highly of this performance, was the learned Warburton, who expressed the most unqualified 'approbation of the whole work. I had the favour,' says this eminent writer,
of your letter, and along with it colonel Gardiner's Life, which I have just read through with very great pleasure. Nothing can be better or more judicious than the writing part. Many considerations made the subject of great importance and expediency: The celebration of worthy men, who sacrificed themselves for the service of their county; the tribute paid to private friendship; the example, particularly to the soldiery, of so much virtue and piety, as well as courage and patriotism; the service done to the survivors of their families, are such important considerations as equally concern thic writer and the public. I had a thousand things to remark in it which gave me pleasure. But I have room but for two or three. The distinction you ecttle between piety and enthusiasm in the 78th page, is highly just anci important, and, very necessary for these times, when men are apt to fall into the opposite extremes. Nor am I less pleased with your observations on the mutilated form of Chrisiimity, in the 130th page: we see the terrible eficcts of it. The same plcaIn 1748, appeared the third volume of the Family Expositor, con taining the Acts of the Apostles, with additional Notes on the Harmony of the Evangelists ;' and • Two Dissertations, 1. On sir Isaac Newton's System of the Harmony. 2. On the New Testament.' This volume is a very valuable part of Dr. Doddridge's great work. In the dissertation on sir Isaac Newton's scheme for reducing the several histories contained in the Evangelists to their proper order, Dr. Doddridge successfully combats sir Isaac's hypothesis. But, at the same time, he pays him a very fine compliment. 'I cannot,' says the doctor, • set myself to this task, without feeling the fatigue of it sensibly allayed, by the pleasure with which I reflect on the firm persuasion which a person of his unequalled sagacity must have entertained of the truth of Christianity, in order to his being engaged to take such pains in illustrating the sacred oracles : a
sure your 162d and 163d pages afforded me. Your hymns are truly pious and poetical. The note at the bottom of page 176 is fine. I entirely agree with your sentiments concerning the extraordinary circumstance of the good man's conversion. On the whole the book will do you honour ; or, what you like better, will be a blessing to you by its becoming an instrument of pub
The chief observation that Mr. Orton makes on the work is, that the author had the pleasure to hear of some instances in which it had answered his desires and hopes; though many thought, and perhaps justly, that he too much indulged the emotions of private friendship and affection in the composition.' • In the truth of this remark,' says Dr. Kippis, 'I entirely concur. Colonel Gardiner was indeed a man of a most excellent character, but that character was tinctured with enthusiasm and religious bigotry. His virtues were of the awful kind. I remember well that his aspect was the aspect of dignity ; but this dignity was mixed with an austerity of appearance and manner, which was not prepossessing to the minds of the students belonging to the academy at Northampton. The affection of his eldest son to his father, had, I know, more of fear united with it than is usually desirable in a child toward a parent. Dr. Doddridge undoubtedly went too far, when, in his funeral sermon for colonel Gardiner, he deliberately declared, that it was hard for him to say where, but in the book of God the colonel found his example, or where he had left his equal. The doctor was himself a superior character. Let it, however, be remembered, that if our author was somewhat extravagant in the praises of his friend, he said nothing, of the truth of which he was not fully persuaded.
• It is not my design, continues Dr. Kippis, 'to enter specifically into the story of colonel Gardiner's extraordinary conversion. That the impression made
upon his mind was in a dream, is sufficiently intimated to be the opinion of Dr. Doddridge, though the colonel himself believed to be a miraculous vision. As a dream it may very rationally be accounted for, from the predisposing circumstances. He had received a strictly pious education ; he had never rejected the principles, though he had departed from the practice of Christianity ; he often fest the anguish of his course of life; he was alone, in the solemn stillness of the night; a religious book happened to be opened by him ; the dreadful crime in which he was going to engage flashed upon his conscience. Falling asleep in this agitation of his spirits, a dream followed, accommodated to his waking reflections. Nor was he, on this account, the less indebted to the goodness of Divine Providence for the happy and effectual change that was produced in his disposition and conduct. The events which are derived through a succession of intermediate causes, are not less the result of the administration of the Supreme Being than more immediate interpositions. There cannot be a surer dictate of reason, than it is of scripture, that every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights.'
pleasure, which I doubt not every good reader will share with me ; especially as (according to the best information, whether public or private, I could ever get) his firm faith in the divine revelation discovered itself in the most genuine fruits of substantial virtue and piety; and consequently gives us the justest reason to conclude, that he is now rejoicing in the happy effects of it infinitely more than in all the applause which his philosophical works have procured him ; though they have commanded a fame lasting as the world, the true theory of which he had discovered, and (in spite of all the vain efforts of ignorance, pride, and their offspring bigotry) have arrayed him as it were in the beams of the sun, and inscribed his name among the constellations of heaven.'
In 1749, Dr. Doddridge published" A plain and serious Address to a Master of a Family on the important Subject of Family Religion. This was accompanied with two prayers ; one to be used as an introduction to a stated course of family-prayer, where it had formerly been neglected ; and the other a prayer for a family, to be used ei. ther morning or evening. The doctor, though a dissenter, and ex. celling in the copiousness of extemporaneous adorations, was not, we see, averse to forms of prayer on proper occasions.
On the 16th of December 1750, Dr. Doddridge performed the last tribute to the memory of his excellent friend and father, Dr. Clark, who died on the 4th of that month, by preaching his funeral sermon at St. Alban's. The journey which he took for this purpose laid the foundation of his own death; for he contracted a cold, that hung upon him the remainder of the winter. When the spring advanced, the disorder considerably abated ; but in the summer it returned with violence. In this state of his health, he was advised to lay aside his public work for a time, and to apply himself to the use of proper medicines and exercise. With the former part of this advice he could not be prevailed upon to comply; for, in his estimation, to be useless was worse than death. While he apprehended that there was no immediate danger, he could not be induced to lessen the sacred employments in which he so much delighted. The nearer he approached to his dissolution, the more plainly was observed his continual improvement in a heavenly temper. He seemed to have gotten above the world, and to be daily breathing after immortality. This disposition of his mind was ardently expressed in several of his letters, and is manifest from his will, which was made at this time, and is prefaced in the following language : "Whereas it is customary on these occasions to begin with commending the soul into the hands of God through Christ, I do it; not in mere form, but with sincerity and joy ; esteer ing it my greatest happiness, that I am taught and encouraged to do it, by that glorious gospel, which; having most assuredly believed, I have spent my life in preaching to others; and which I esteem an infinitely greater treasure than all my
little worldly store, or possessions ten thousand times greater than mine.'
The last time that Dr. Doddridge administered the Lord's Supper to his congregation at Northampton, was on the 2d of Junc, 1751. in the previous sermon, which was from Hebrews xii. 23, he dropped some hints of his approaching decease, and spoke with great tendere ness and affection to his people on the prospect of their final separation, In July, he preached to his congregation, what proved to be his farewell sermon, from Rom xiv. 8 ; and the last public service in which he was engaged, was on the 18th of the same month, at the ordination of the Rev. Mr. Adams, at Bewdly. After this he resided, some weeks, at the house of his friend, the Rev. Mr. Orton, at Shrewsbury, In August, he went to the Hot wells, at Bristol ; but his health still declining, he was advised, as the last resort, to repair to Lisbon. As the doctor was not in affluent circumstances, the great expense of this voyage became a very serious objection to it. But this was obviated by a very liberal subscription among his friends, set on foot by a worthy clergyman to whom the doctor had undesignedły dropped a hint of his situation. He left Bristol on the 17th of September, and embarked on board the packet at Falmouth on the 30th. Upon the sailing of the vessel, the new scene which opened upon him, and the soft air and fresh breezes of the sea, had the most pleasing effect on his spirits. He generally sat the greatest part of the day, in an easy chair, in the captain's cabin ; and his mind was admirably sustained by delightful views of the heavenly world. Such sacred gratitude and joy appeared in his countenance, as often brought to the remembrance of Mrs. Doddridge, the following lines in one of his hymns :
When Death o'er Nature shall prevail,
And mean the thanks I cannot speak. In the bay of Biscay the vessel was becalmed for some days; and the weather proved so intensely hot, that Dr. Doddridge's colliquative sweats returned, attended with a faintness that threatened his speedy dissolution. But when the ship came to the desired haven, and was waiting for the usual ceremonies of entrance, the fineness of the day, the softness of the air, and the delightful prospects by which he was surrounded, gave him a fresh flow of strength and spirits. He deria ved from it such a sensible degree of refreshment, as to raise even a flattering hope of his recovery. On the 13th of October, he landed. The next day he wrote to his assistant at Northampton, giving him a short account of his voyage. Aftei mentioning his great weakness and danger, he added, “Nevertheless, I bless God, the most undisturs bed serenity continues in my mind, and my strength holds proportion to my day. I still hope and trust in God, and joyfully acquiesce in all may
do with me. When you see my dear friends of the congregation, inform them of my circumstances, and assure them, that I cheerfully submit myself to God. If I desire life may be restored, it is chiefly that it may be employed in serving Christ an ong them; and that I'am enabled by faith to look upon death as an enemy that shall be destroyed ; and can cheerfully leave my dear Mrs. Doddridge a widow in a strange land, if such be the appointment of our heavenly father. I hope I have done my duty, and the Lord do as seemeth good in his sight.'
At Lisbon, Dr. Doddridge was treated with all the kindness and respect that the most amiable and exalted character could claim. But the change of climate produced no favourable effect. On the 24th of
October, he was seized with a colliquative diarrhea, which soon exhausted his little strength. Nevertheless, during the succeeding night, he preserved the same calmness, vigour, and joy of mind, which he had felt and expressed through the whole of his illness. The only pain he had in the thought of dying, was the fear of that grief and distress which Mrs. Doddridge would suffer from his removal. To his children, his congregation, and his friends, he desired to be remembered in the most affectionate manner. Many devout sentiments and aspirations were uttered by him ; but Mrs. Doddridge's heart was too much affected with his approaching change, to be able to recollect them distinctly. On the following day he lay in a gentle doze, in which he continued till an hour before his death. At the last struggle he appeared restless, and fetched several deep sighs, soon after which he obtained his release, on the 26th of October, old style, about three in the morning.
Dr. Doddridge had frequently expressed a wish to be interred in the meeting-house at Northampton, where his children, and so many of his congregation and friends were deposited. During his illness, however, he spoke of this as a matter quite indifferent to him ; and, to avoid increasing the distress of his afflicted wife, he was desirous of being buried wherever he should die. It was found, upon inquiry, that the removal of the body to England would be attended with a great expense ; and it was, therefore, judged most prudent to decline it. Accordingly, his remains were conveyed to the burying-ground belonging to the British factory, at Lisbon, with as much decency and respect as circumstances and the place would admit, the greater part of the gentlemen of the factory attending his funeral.
Though Dr. Doddridge's congregation had not the melancholy satisfaction of having him interred at his own meeting-house, they erected in it a handsome monument to his memory, and made a generous present to his widow after her return. The inscription, which was drawn up by the doctor's ingenious friend, Gilbert West, esq. (author of an excellent treatise on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ) was as follows ;
To the memory of
PHILIP DODDRIDGE, D. D.
Director of a flourishing Academy,
Will far better be made known,
And perpetuated much longer,
The humble monument, not of his praise,
But of their esteem, affection, and regret,
In this Inscription,