Doddridge, Philip

, an eminent dissenting divine, great-grand-nephew to the preceding, was the son of the nonconformist rector of Shepperton in Middlesex, and was born in London, June 26th, 1702. At his birth he was so weakly that he was regarded as dead; but by attention and care he recovered some degree of strength. His constitution, however, was always feeble, and probably rendered more so by the assiduity with which he prosecuted his studies and public services. To his pious parents he was indebted for early instruction in religion, and for those salutary impressions which were never erased from his mind. His classical education commenced in London, but being left an orphan in his thirteenth year, he was removed to a private school at St. Alban’s, where he had the happiness of commencing an acquaintance with Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Samuel Clark, the dissenting minister of the place; and having lost his whole patrimony after his father’s death, the protection of this friend enabled him to pursue the course of his studies. In 1715 he left St. Alban’s, and retired to the house of his sister, the wife of Mr. John Nettleton, a dissenting minister at Ongar, in Essex, and while deliberating on the course of life which he should | pursue, he received offers of encouragement and support from the duchess of Bedford, if he chose to be educated in one of the universities for the church of England; but could not conscientiously comply with the terms of conformity. Others advised him to devote himself to the profession of the law; but before he had finally determined, he received a letter from Mr. Clark, with generous offers of assistance, if he chose the ministry among the dissenters. These offers he thankfully accepted; and after continuing for some months at St. Alban’s in the house of his benefactor, he was placed, in October 1719, under the tuition of the reverend John Jennings, who kept an academy for the education of nonconformist ministers at Kibworth in Leicestershire. Here he paid particular attention to classical literature, and cultivated an acquaintance with the Greek writers, and also with the best authors of his own country. In 1722, having obtained an ample testimonial from a committee of ministers, by whom he was examined, he became a preacher at Kibworth, which he preferred, because it was an obscure village, and the congregation was small, so that he could pursue his studies with little interruption. During his residence at this place, from June 1723 to October 1725, he is said to have excelled as a preacher. At first he paid particular attention to his compositions, and thus acquired a habit of delivering his sentiments usually with judgment, and always with ease and freedom of language, when he was afterwards, by a multiplicity of engagements, reduced to the necessity of extempore speaking. In 1725, he removed to Market-Harborough, to enjoy the conversation and advice of Mr. Some, the pastor of the congregation in that place and after the year 1727, when he was chosen assistant to Mr. Some, he preached alternately at Kibworth and MarketHarborough. He received several invitations from congregations much more numerous than these; but he determined to adhere to the plan, which he had adopted, of pursuing his schemes of improvement in a more private residence. When he left the academy, his tutor, Mr. Jennings, not long before his death, which happened in 1723, advised him to keep in view the improvement of the course of lectures on which he had attended; and this advice he assiduously regarded during his retirement at Kibworth. Mr. Jennings foresaw, that, in case of his own death, Mr. Doddridge was the most likely of any of his pupils to | complete the schemes which he had formed, and to undertake the conduct of a theological academy. Mr. Doddridge’s qualifications for the office of tutor were generally known and approved, in consequence of a plan for conducting the preparatory studies of young persons intended for the ministry, which he had drawn up at the desire of a friend, whose death prevented his carrying it into effect. This plan was shewn to Dr. Watts, who had then no personal acquaintance with the author; but he was so much pleased with it, that he concurred with others in the opinion, that the person who had drawn it up was best qualified for executing it. Accordingly he was unanimously solicited to undertake the arduous office; and after some hesitation, and with a very great degree of diffidence, he consented to undertake it. Availing himself of all the information and assistance which he could obtain from conversation and correspondence with his numerous friends, he opened his academy at Midsummer, in 1729, at Market- Harborongh. Having continued in this situation for a few months, he was invited by a congregation at Northampton; and he removed thither in December 1729; and in March of the following year, he was ordained according to the mode usually practised among dissenters. In this place he engaged, in a very high degree, the love and attachment of his congregation; and he observes, in his last will, “that he had spent the most delightful hours of his life in assisting the devotions of as seuious, as grateful, and as deserving a people, as perhaps any minister had ever the happiness to serve.

In 1730, Mr. Doddridge entered into the matrimonial relation, with a lady who possessed every qualification that could conduce to his happiness, and who survived him. many years. At the first removal of the academy to Northampton, the number of students was small; but it increased every year; so that, in 1734, it became necessary to have a stated assistant, to whom the care of some of the junior pupils was committed. The number of students was, one year with another, thirty-four. The system of education being liberal, many received instruction in his academy, who were members of the established church. And in the course of the twenty years, during which Mr. Doddridg presided over it, he acquired high reputation both as a preacher, tutor, and author. Of his detached works, consisting of tracts and sermons, it would be unnecessary ta | give a particular list, as they are now published in a collection of his works. The most popular of them was his “Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,” which has gone through numerous editions, and been translated into the Dutch, German, Danish, and French languages; and the most useful is his “Family Expositor,” in 6 vols. 4to, which has lately risen in reputation, and been often reprinted in 6 vols. 8vo. His “Course of Lectures,” published after his death by the rev. Samuel Clark, 1763, 4to, is also a work of great utility, and was republished in 1794, 2 vols. 8vo, by Dr. Kippis, with very extensive and valuable additions. Dr. Dodd ridge also wrote some hymns, and though inferior to those of Dr. Watts, he gave at least one evidence of his poetical taste and powers, in the excellent lines which he wrote on the motto to the arms of his family, ll dum vivimus vivamus," which are highly commended by Dr. Johnson, and represented as containing one of the finest epigrams in the English language.

Live, while you live,” the epicure would say,

And seize the pleasures of the present day.

Live, while you live,” the sacred preacher cries,

And give to God each moment as it flies

Lord, in my views let both united be,

I live in pleasure, when I live to thee.

From the course of Dr. Doddridge’s life, and the multiplicity of his labours, his application must have been incessant, and with little time for exercise and recreation. His constitution was always feeble, and his friends deprecated the injurious effects of his unintermitting assiduity and exertion. By degrees, however, his delicate frame was so impaired, that it could not bear the attack of disease. In December 1750, he went to St. Alban’s to preach the funeral sermon of his friend Dr. Clark, and in the course of his journey he caught a cold, which brought on a pulmonary complaint, that resisted every remedy. But notwithstanding the advice and remonstrances of those who apprehended his death, and wished to prolong his usefulness, he would not decline or diminish the employments in the academy, and with his congregation, in which he* took great delight. At length he was obliged to submit; and to withdraw from all public services to the house of his friend Mr. Orton, at Shrewsbury. Notwithstanding some relief which his recess from business afforded him, his disorder gained ground; and his medical friends | advised him to make trial of the Bristol waters. The physicians of this place afforded him little hope of lasting benefit; and he received their report of his case with Christian fortitude and resignation. As the last resort in his case, he was advised to pass the winter in a warmer climate; and at length he was prevailed upon to go to Lisbon, where he met with every attention which friendship and medical skill could afford him. But his case was hopeless. Arriving at Lisbon on the 13th of October, the rainy season came on, and prevented his deriving any benefit from air and exercise, and in a few days he was seized with a colliquative diarrhoea, which rapidly exhausted his remaining strength. He preserved, however, to the last the same calmness, vigour, and joy of mind, which he had felt and expressed through the whole of his disease. The only anxiety he seemed to feel was occasioned by the situation in which Mrs. Doddridge would be left upon his removal. To his children, his congregation, and his friends in general, he desired to be remembered in the most affectionate manner; nor did he forget a single person, not even his servant, in the effusions of his benevolence. Many devout sentiments and aspirations were uttered by him on the last day but one preceding that of his death. At length, his release took place on the 26th of October, O. S. about 3 o’clock in the morning; and though he died in a foreign land, and in a certain sense among strangers, his decease was embalmed with many tears, nor was he molested, in his last moments, by the officious zeal of any of the priests of the church of Rome. His body was opened, and his lungs were found to be in a very ulcerated state. His remains were deposited in the most respectful manner in the burying-ground belonging to the British factory at Lisbon. His congregation erected in his meeting-house a handsome monument to his memory, on which is an inscription drawn up by his much esteemed and ingenious friend, Gilbert West, esq. Dr. Doddridge left four children, one son and three daughters, and his widow survived him more than forty years. His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Orton from I Cor. xv. 54; and it was extensively circulated under the title of “The Christian’s triumph over death.” His character stands high among the dissenters, no man with equal powers and equal popularity having appeared among them in the course of last century, Dr. Watts excepied. Dr. Doddridge was | an indefatigable student, and his mind was furnished with a rich stock of various learning. His acquaintance with books, ancient and modern, was very extensive and if not a profound scholar, he was sufficiently acquainted with the learned languages to make a considerable figure as a critic and commentator. To history, ecclesiastical as well as civil, he had paid no small degree of attention; and while from his disposition he was led to cultivate a taste for polite literature in general, more than for the abstruser parts of science, he was far from being a stranger to mathematical and philosophical studies. But the favourite object of his pursuit, and that in which his chief excellence lay, was divinity, taking that word in its largest sense. As a preacher. Dr. Doddridge was much esteemed and very popular. But his biographers have had some difficulty in vindicating him from the charge of being what is called a trimmer^ that is, accommodating his discourses to congregations of different sentiments nor do we think they have succeeded in proving him exempt from the appearance at least of inconsistency, or obsequious timidity. We are informed, however, that his piety was ardent, unaffected, and cheerful, and particularly displayed in the resignation and serenity with which he bore his affliction. His moral conduct was not only irreproachable, but in every respect exemplary. To his piety he joined the warmest benevolence towards his fellow- creatures, which was manifested in the most active exertions for their welfare within the compass of his abilities or influence. His private manners were polite, affable, and engaging; which rendered him the delight of those who had the happii. of his acquaintance. No man exercised more candour and moderation towards those who differed from him in religious opinions. Of these qualities there are abundant proofs in the extensive correspondence he carried on with many eminent divines in the establishment, and of other persuasions.

His reputation was such, and the respect of persons of all parties and denominations for his various excellent qualities was so great, that in the close of his life, and in the scene of his last decline, all seemed to vie in testifying their solicitude for his recovery, and their wishes for his obtaining every accommodation that would render his mind and his circumstances easy. During his stay at Bristol, previously to his voyage to Lisbon, he received very | particular expressions of regard from a clergyman of the established church. When Dr. Doddridge undesignedly threw out a hint of the principal reason which caused him to demur about the voyage, and that was the expence of it, this gentleman was both generous and active in promoting a subscription to defray the charges of his voyage. Nathaniel Neal, esq. an eminent Solicitor in London, was also very zealous in the management of this business, which he conducted with such success as to be able to inform the doctor, that instead of selling what our author had in the funds, he should be able through the benevolence of friends, to add something to it, after the expence of the voyage was defrayed. As Mrs. Doddridge forfeited a considerable annuity, to which as a widow she would have been entitled, by her husband’s dying abroad, a subscription was opened for her, chiefly in London, and in a great measure under the direction of Mr. Neal, by means of which a sum was raised, which was more than equal to the annuity that had been forfeited.1


Life by Kippis, in the Biog. Brit, a most prolix and disproportioned article, judiciously abridged in the Cyclopædia. Much information may be derived from Orion’s Life. Letters to and from Dr. Doddridge, 1790, 8vo. Orion’s Letters, 2 vols. 12mo. Palmer’s Letters to Dissenting Ministers, 2 vols. &c.