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THE Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of Dr. Doddridge, presented in this volume, have been drawn from the five volumes of his Correspondence and diary, copied from his own manuscripts, and first published in London in 1831; from his life as written by Orton and by Kippis, two of his endeared students; from the Centenary Memorial prepared by the Rev. John Stoughton, and partly delivered before the Congregational Union from Doddridge's own pulpit in 1852; from a splendid article of the Rev. Dr. Hamilton in the North British Review, and from other sources.
The wide-spread and deserved reputation of Dr. Doddridge as a writer and as a Christian, especially by means of his "Family Expositor," and his “Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul," naturally awakens a desire to become more acquainted with him through his Correspondence, in which, not only in the letters he wrote, but in those addressed to him, we discover those admirable qualities of mind and heart, those high attainments and benevolent activities, which made him so generally respected in life, so extensively honored at death, and now so gratefully remembered, even after the lapse of a century.
The Letters found in this volume will compare favorably, in point of style, with those of Pope, Gray, and others of about the same period, while in sentiment they commend themselves with surpassing interest to the pious and thoughtful mind. They are given as choice selections from the mass of Doddridge's Correspondence, which constitutes the greater part of the five large volumes above noticed, edited by his great-grandson John Doddridge Humphreys, Esq., and they are here inserted in such connections as render them illustrative and commemorative of the public and private life, opinions, and character of the distinguished and excellent author. Among his correspondents were several gentlemen of high rank in social, literary, and theological circles, and some talented and estimable ladies, whose letters will be read with great satisfaction.
The view which this Correspondence gives of the Christian household, as illustrated in the home of Doddridge, is calculated to elevate the aims, purify the life, and promote the happiness of those who would enjoy the highest blessings of the family circle; the light which it throws upon his professional character as a theological instructor, and as a pastor, must interest those fulfilling the duties of these stations, or who have them in prospect; while the happy illustrations of religious character and experience are adapted to profit all classes of persons: to comfort the afflicted, to guide the perplexed, to animate the negligent or desponding, and assist all in fulfilling the responsibilities of life, and preparing for the heavenly state. The letters of sympathy addressed to Dr. Doddridge and his lady in the trying season preceding his death, when extreme anxiety pervaded the hearts of God's people in city and country, are among the most touching to be found in the annals of friendship.
The influence of Dr. Doddridge, like that of Dr. Watts, in promoting the great revival of the work of God towards the middle of the last century, in which Whitefield and others bore so conspicuous a part, will here be seen to have been great and salutary, in the calm evangelical light which, in a period of profound spiritual darkness, God enabled him to spread far and wide by his publications, his theological instructions, his correspondence, his personal influence as a pastor and counsellor, and his bright and holy example.
It is a curious fact that of almost all his Correspondence, he kept an accurate copy in shorthand,