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give lectures which would be at once entertaining and edifying on those rarities, printed and manuscript, of which they are the favored guardians, but of which their shelves are in the fair way to become, not the dormitory alone, but the sepulchre ?
'Nor was it to the mere intellectual culture of his pupils that Dr. Doddridge directed his labors. His academy was a church within a church; and not content with the ministrations which its members shared in common with his stated congregation, this indefatigable man took the pains to prepare and preach many occasional sermons to the students. These, and his formal addresses, as well as his personal interviews, had such an effect, that out of the two hundred young men who came under his instructions, seventy made their first public profession of Christianity during their sojourn at Northampton."
FROM the commencement of his career as a student, to the end of his active and useful life, Doddridge was distinguished by great diligence and eagerness in the pursuit of knowledge, and great aptitude in the communication of it. His resolution and perseverance in whatever he undertook, secured for him a large measure of success. Joining great quickness of apprehension to uncommon strength of memory, and judicious and constant habits of study, he made large and valuable accumulations of knowledge-of those branches of knowledge particularly which he conceived would be most to his advantage as a pastor, and an instructor. With books he gained an extensive acquaintance. On the general topics of literature, there were few works of any great value which he had not read and digested; for he read with great attention, noting in the margin the passages which he thought of special value, sometimes writing hints, making references and reflections concerning the sentiments of the authors read. He often reminded his students that the true purpose of reading was not to treasure up other men's thoughts, but to furnish the mind with materials to exercise its own powers. Adopting in his own practice this judicious maxim, his mind became a storehouse of varied intellectual resources, upon which he could rely, to supply his lectures, scientific and religious, his discourses in the pulpit, and his conversation, which was always instructive as well as entertaining.
In the earlier years of his ministry, he gratified his taste in a liberal study of English literature, and with great benefit to his then future authorship. He was sufficiently versed in the Latin and Greek classics to read them with facility and pleasure. While yet a student, he read Homer with great delight, and made critical annotations of sufficient extent to form a considerable volume, as we have already noticed. The philosophers and orators of antiquity occupied many of his leisure hours, Demosthenes being a particular favorite. He carefully studied the Latin and Greek fathers, those especially of the first three centuries. He was skilled in the Hebrew language also, and some time before his death had nearly completed a new translation of the minor prophets, which is said to display great critical acumen. He indicated in some of his lectures a decided taste for philosophical and scientific investigations. He had not only rendered himself quite familiar with civil and ecclesiastical history, but had turned it to good account by the observations and reflections which he made upon it, illustrative of human nature, of the dealings of Providence, and of the pages of the sacred volume.
But his force and application of mind were chiefly given to theological investigations and writing. While he studied carefully the works of master minds in this field of inquiry, and was able to speak with discrimination of their peculiar shades of opinion, he drew up his own system, chiefly from the sacred Scriptures, which he regarded as his only standard. As he was no slave to the authority of others, so he did not affect to distirguish himself by any of those peculiarities of opinion which learned men are often fond of, and which, in most instances, are rather injurious than solid. His “Lectures on Divinity” were published after his death, and are regarded as a noble monument of learning well digested, though exhibited in a method perhaps too technical and formal.
“Upon the whole,” says Orton, “it may, I think, with great justice be said of Doddridge, that, though others might exceed him in their acquaintance with antiquity or their skill in the languages, yet, in the extent of his learning and the variety of useful and important knowledge he had acquired, he was surpassed by few."
Having acquired, as we have said, large stores of varied knowledge, he had learned also the art of communicating his thoughts with great clearness, propriety, order, and persuasive power. He possessed a remarkable command of language, and had formed his style on the best of English models. It was lucid, but inclined to be diffuse. Fine writing was no part of his effort, for he studied invariably to adapt himself to the apprehension and improvement of plain readers. He endeavored, both in preaching and in writing, to adapt himself to the popular mind of the age, and to promote the enlightenment and the piety of the masses. He might have attained the highest reputation as a literary man, and an elegant writer; but, for the sake of a higher usefulness, he deliberately sacrificed all the fame of this sort which was with
in his grasp, and, as we have seen, he inculcated upon his theological students the exercise of a similar selfdenial.
Such were the endowments and views qualifying Dr. Doddridge for his distinguished career as an author. Some notice will now be taken of the principal works which he has furnished to the world.
About the year 1730, the Dissenters' interest in England had sustained an evident decline, as compared with former periods, and an anonymous work attracted public attention under the title of "An Inquiry into the Causes of the Decay of the Dissenting Interest." The writer failed to discern and exhibit the most important causes of such decay; assigning as causes, the bigotry of the orthodox party, the unreasonable length of sermons, the undue brevity of the prayers, and the neglect of the rising generation. The grand remedy which he proposed for such a decline, was the cultivation, on the part of the dissenting ministers, of polite and gentlemanly habits. This treatise, falling into the hands of Mr. Doddridge, induced him to write and to publish a reply, which he entitled "Free Thoughts on the Best Means of Reviving the Dissenting Interest," one of the first of his publications. He therein shows that the dissenting interest had declined in consequence of a declension in godliness among dissenters, and that the best method of advancing that interest was to take effectual measures for the revival of practical religion. For this purpose he suggested that a change was required in the general style of preaching; that instead of being