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“ NORTHAMPTON, Dec. 8, 1742. "DEAR SIR JOHN-Permit me frankly to speak my mind to you on a head on which I fear to be silent, lest I should fail in gratitude to a gentleman to whom I think myself much obliged, and whom I would gladly serve to the best of my ability.
"Be not angry when I tell you I was heartily grieved at the liberties you took last night in using the venerable name of the ever blessed God in so light a manner; and in the needless appeals which you made to Him as to matters which would have been believed on much less evidence than the word of Sir John R
"I have not for some years heard so much language of that kind, except when passing by people of low education in the streets; whether it be owing to the complaisance with which gentlemen commonly treat our profession, or, as I rather hope, to a sense of what is in itself reasonable and decent.
"I am sure, sir, that your knowledge of men and things is capable of making conversation pleasant and improving, without those dreadful expletives; for dreadful I must call them, when considered in a view to that strict account which must so certainly and so quickly be rendered up to God, for all our words as well as our actions.
"I was the more solicitous, sir, to mention the affair to you, in consideration of your office as a magistrate; the dignity of which would certainly be most effectually supported by avoiding whatever it might require you to punish in others. In this view, permit me to entreat you to join your efforts with those of all other wise and good men to discountenance, and, if possible, to drive out of the world this unprofitable enormity of swearing in common conversation; concerning the evil of which I am sure it is not necessary to enlarge, when addressing myself to a gentleman of your understanding.
“I conclude, sir, with my most affectionate good wishes and prayers for you, that the whole of your conduct, in every circumstance of life, may be such as will yield the most pleasing reflections in the awful hour of death, and the most comfortable account before that divine tribunal to which we are all hastening; and in the serious expectation of which, I have presumed to give you this trouble, hoping that you will esteem it, as it undoubtedly is, a proof that I am, with great sincerity, "Your most faithful and obedient servant,
* PHILIP DODDRIDGE."
Dr. Doddridge's diary contains the following entry in reference to the above letter: "I thought it more respectful to write to Sir John R
n on this occasion, than to speak to him before the company; but it is a law I lay down to myself to do the one or the other, lest I should seem too indifferent to the honor of God, and the good of my friends, and of the world about them."
HIS MINISTRY AT NORTHAMPTON.
DR. JAMES HAMILTON has well said, that“ to English non-conformity Northampton is, or ought to be, a sort of Mecca. Three hundred years ago it gave birth to Robert Brown, the father of English congregationalism; and within the last generations, Northampton and its neighborhood have been a chief stronghold of the English Baptists. It was here that the Rylands ministered: the elder, in his orthodox vehemence a Boanerges, in his tender feelings a 'beloved disciple;' the younger famous for his microscopic eyes, and who ought to have been famous for his telescopic heart; for never was there spirit more catholic, or one who could espy goodness at a greater distance. It was in the adjacent town of Kettering that Andrew Fuller labored for thirty years; in a noisy study, for it was withal a populous nursery, composing those volumes which have gone so far to give the right tone and attempering to modern Calvinism; a deep digger in the Bible mine, and whose rich, though clumsy ingots supply to the present day the mint of many a sermon-coiner. Himself too homely to be a popular preacher, and too unambitious to regret it, he was in contrivance resourceful, and in counsel sagacious; the main-spring of each denominational movement, and one of the purest philanthropists, but blunt and ungainly withal. And in Northampton and its surrounding villages a poor cobbler used to ply his craft--for Northampton is the Selkirk of the Southits citizens are sutors: and leaving at home his broken-hearted wife, poor cobbler Carey would hawk from door to door his shoes of supererogation to pay the funeral charges of his child. Under ague and rain, and the unsalable sackful, he was revolving that eastern mission of which he was soon to be the father and founder, and from borrowed grammars acquiring those elements of polyglottal power which shortly developed in the Briareus of oriental translation.
“But our pilgrimage to Northampton was mainly impelled by veneration for another worthy, PHILIP DODDRIDGE. We went to see the spot ennobled by the saintliest name in last century's dissenting ministry. We went to see the house where 'The Rise and Progress' was written. We visited the old chapel, with its square windows and sombre walls, where so many fervent exhortations were once poured forth, and so much enduring good accomplished. We entered the pulpit where Doddridge used to preach, and the pew where Colonel Gardiner worshipped. We sat in the old arm-chair beside the vestry fire, and flanking the little table on which so many pages of that affecting diary were written. And with a view of a supposed original likeness in the study of our host-a minister of the same school with Doddridge—we finished our Northampton pilgrimage.”
The first object of Dr. Doddridge's pursuit as a pastor, was to possess himself of an acquaintance with the families of his congregation. These being scattered in several neighboring villages, he held frequent interviews with his deacons and others, ay means of whom he learned the names, places of abode, character, and circumstances of his church-members and stated hearers. All information of this kind he recorded in a book, which he often consulted as a means of guiding him in his public and private addresses, so as to render them most appropriate and useful. Even the names and character of the servants in the different families were not omitted ; and a minute was made of the exhortations he had given them and others, of the reception he had met with, of the promises they had made, and of their wants as to religious books, or of the supplies he had furnished. Thus he provided himself with materials for a historical register of his congregation, and was enabled better to pray and to preach in adaptation to the particular wants of all the members of his congregation.
"Previous to his coming to Northampton, when his congregations were small, and retired, he had expended a large amount of time and care in the composition of his sermons, and in the study of the Scriptures; but now the demands of a large and scattered congregation, added to the exhausting labors of a theological instructor, obliged him to be less exact and elaborate in his pulpit preparations. Sometimes he wrote nothing more than the heads and principal thoughts of his sermons, and the texts of Scripture to be introduced; but so well furnished was his mind, so warm and devotional his temper of heart, and so ready his command of language and of thought, that even with this small amount of written preparation