Abbildungen der Seite

Pr Quaker, or a Methodist. Were this to be the case with the treatises chy only which are expressly written for the temporary purposes of dis

The pute, the evil would not be so extensive or great as it is; but unfortuK nately a polemical spirit too often intrudes itself into religious ex works, which should be entirely free from any thing of the kind ;

and instead of being able to refer to many controversial essays which I might be admired for their worth, independent of the controversy,

we have even very few practical treatises, the value of which is E' not greatly lessened by the intermixture of harsh and virulent senti

ments, with others of a purer character. On this account, Doctor Doddridge afforded an excellent example to his brethren, and one which, if scrupulously followed, would tend greatly to the improvement of practical divinity. It would render that universally useful which is otherwise only partially so, and by removing a few sentences, which can only gratify the small number of persons who may coincide with the author, adapt the work of a powerful writer to the use and acceptance of all men.

The early life of Doctor Doddridge was exposed to frequent danger, from the delicacy of his constitution, and it was not till after he had attained the age of manhood, that he was finally designated for the ministry. He was descended from a family of great respectability, and numbered among his ancestors Sir John Doddridge, one of the Justices of the King's Bench. Before he had quite finished his education, his guardian failed, and he lost a considerable part of the property which had been left him by his father. While suffering under the distress produced by this unfortunate occurrence, and undecided as to what course he ought to pursue, the Duchess of Bedford heard of his situation, and hav. ing become acquainted with his talents, offered to supply him with the means for completing his education at one of the Universities, providing he were willing to become a minister of the established church. Scruples of conscience, however, as to subscription of the Articles, prevented his acceptance of this generous proposal, and he turned his views towards the Dissenters; but even among them difficulties appeared to exist, to his entering the ministry, which would compel him to embrace another profession. Shortly after forming the determination to apply to the Dissenters, Í waited,' says he, upon Doctor Edmund Calamy, to beg his advice and assistance, that I might be brought up a minister, which has always been my great desire. He gave me no encouragement in it, but advised me to turn my thoughts to something else. It was with great concern that I received such advice, but I desire to follow Providence, and not to force. The Lord give me grace to glorify him in whatever station he sets me: then, here am I, let him do with me what seemeth good in his sight.' The reason alleged for Doctor Calamy's conduct on this occasion, was the extreme delicacy of Mr. Doddridge's health, which appeared to be threatened by consumption.

With equal good sense and regret, however, he yielded to the suggestions of his adviser, and turned his attention to the legal profession, as less likely to be hurtful to his constitution. A celebrated conveyancer, who was well acquainted with his ability and worth, immediately employed his interest in obtaining him a situation, which might be likely to assist him in his future exertions. But the mind of Doddridge had been so long fixed on a different course of life, that he hesitated in embracing a pursuit, to which his disposition, as well as general habits of thinking, were strongly opposed. It was with the greatest pleasure, therefore, that he received, while considering what measure it would be right for him to pursue, a letter from his friend Mr. Clarke, in which that gentleman told him that he had heard of his difficulties, and offered to take him under his care, if he chose the ministry upon Christian principles? 'and there was no other,' says Mr. Doddridge, that in those circumstances could invite me to such a choice. Mr. Clarke was a respectable non-conformist preacher, and being settled at St. Alban's, had become acquainted with his young friend, while the latter was studying there. On receiving the letter abovementioned, he returned to that place, and remained for some inonths under the tutorage of his benefactor, after which he was sent to an Academy established by the Dissenters at Kibworth, in Leicestershire, and which was conducted by a Mr. Jennings, a man esteemed by the community to which he belonged, for his learning and piety.

The subject of this memoir was now about seventeen, and he entered upon his studies with an ardour and devotion which might have been expected from the character of his mind. But before proceeding to the correspondence which he shortly after commenced with the most eminent men among the Dissenters of the time, we shall extract the interesting account which the Editor has given of the Dissenting Academies of the period :

• In the year 1719, when Dr. Doddridge commenced his studies at Kibworth, under the care of the Rev. John Jennings, the situation of the Dissenters was, both with regard to themselves and the estimation in which they were held by the country at large, highly respectable. The virulent and unconstitutional persecution which disgraced the last four years of the reign of Anne, when, as Rapin observes, “ all Protestants abroad, as well as those at home, who differed from the establishment, were marked with infamy; and a loud noise for the Church filled all places, and prevented all attention to the calamity and destruction preparing for the state," had happily passed away. The memory of those times was still, however, sufficiently green to render the sufferers cautious; and they could not but bear in mind, that the men were still living around them, who, when armed with authority, had conspired, by that iniquitous device, the Schism Bill, to deprive them of the natural privilege of educating their children. The penalties of this measure would indeed have fallen upon them, had they not been opportunély rescued by the death of the queen, which palsied the arm of oppression at the very instant that it was raised to strike! her

decease occurring on the day from which the operation of the act was dated.

* The accession of George the First not only disconcerted the machinations of their enemies, but appeared to establish those principles of civil and religious freedom with which their well being was identified, on a new and permanent foundation. The wishful eye of partiality cast on the pretensions of the house of Stuart by the High Church party of the day, was a fact not only natural in itself, but too notorious to be doubted ; so that a sort of impotence existed in the mystical union of Church and State, which rendered the Executive glad to avail itself of that support from the Nonconformists, which was at once sincere and without rivalry; for the Dissenters rejoiced in the ascendancy of the Brunswick Dynasty, not only as a security for their own toleration, but as a rampart against the then insidious projects of the Church of Rome, although they were debarred from participating in the emoluments and honours of official station. .

• It may perhaps be remarked that the terms Non-conformist and Dis. senter have in these pages been employed in a way which would infer a distinction, although every dissenter must necessarily be a non-conformist. This fact is of course admitted ; but those ministers of the Church of England who suffered deprivation under the act of uniformity, and their congregational followers, having been emphatically designated Non-conformists, and being upon the whole superior to the mass of other dissenters in point of education and liberality of sentiment, a distinction not only existed, but should be inferred.

· Thus the Academies of that period, unconnected with the establishment, were, on the other hand, far from being the sectarian schools of an exclusive and peculiar denomination; but being conducted on the broad basis of pon-subscription alone, that is, without a direct or indirect imposition of formulas of faith, remained open to men of all parties. Thus it frequently happened that the clergy and lay members of the national church, to whom the expense of the Universities was an object of difficulty, availed themselves of these Academies with advantage, and without any fear that an undue influence would be exercised upon the minds of their children. These seminaries were also useful in furnishing Chaplains and private Tutors to families of distinction, persons then considered as indispensable in every opulent establishment.

It may be proper to add, that the Non-conformists and the more liberal Presbyterians gradually became amalgamated, so as to constitute that moderate body of Christiaus known by the term English Presbyterians, although rather improperly, as their church government assumes the simple congregational form.

i of this denomination was the Rev. John Jennings, and the Academy over which he presided was conducted upon the catholic plan before ex. plained; so that a youth at his admission was merely called upon to show ihat his moral character was unobjectionable, and his preparative studies sufficiently advanced.'—vol. i. pp. 29–32.

The earlier portion of the correspondence published in these volumes, though serving to show what were the temper and feelings of the celebrated writer, in his youth, are not of a nature to interest many readers. Of those which the Editor seems to admire for the sportiveness of their character, we confess we have seen scarcely one which is not altogether common-place, and utterly wanting in the humour which could please a reader not bent on venerating whatever has the name of Doddridge appended to it. This amiable man was no wit, and though we may admire the good nature which breathes in the lighter part of his correspondence, we cannot help wishing all the time, that some of the letters now published, had never escaped from the hands of the friends to whom they were written. The only passages, indeed, which have furnished is with any amusement in the first half of the first volume, are those which contain some account of the studies he pursued at Kibworth, and of the method generally followed in that Academy. Thus, in a letter to Mr. Clarke, he says :

I ought to have told you, that the greatest part of our logic is built upon it, and particularly the third book, which is wholly practical, in which we have continual references to his work on the Conduct of the Understanding. In the beginning of pneumatology, we had frequent occasion to consult him, and it was by my tutor's advice that I deferred reading him entirely over till this half year.

• I am extremely pleased to find that you are so well satisfied as to my care in managing my expenses. I acknowledge, Sir, that you have always been very indulgent to me upon that head; and I think myself so much the more obliged to study frugality, lest I should seem to abuse your good ness and the confidence which you have in me. Besides, I know how difficult it is to obtain supplies, and am heartily concerned to think of the trouble you are at on my account: and yet, notwithstanding all my precaution, I find my stock decreases apace.

"As for my studies, you may perhaps remember, Sir, that in my last I gave you a general account of them. We have almost finished pneumatology and ethics, and proceeded a good way in critics. These critics are an abridgment from a considerable book by Mr. Jones, which treats of such subjects as the antiquity of the Hebrew language, its points, the Massora, Talmud, and Cabbala. We have several Latin, French, and English versions of the Bible, and have continually large references to Prideaux, Buxtorf, &c. These I think the least entertaining part of our studies; but, as I hope they may have their use, I force myself to attend to them. Our ethics are drawn up by Mr. Jennings, and collected chiefly from Puffendorf and Grotius; and we are referred to both of thein under almost every section. I admire our system very much, not upon the account of any new discoveries, but because it lays a very good foundation, and comprises a vast deal of matter in a very little room. Once a week we have a pneumatological disputation, and consequently each of us makes in turn a thesis in a month. We have the liberty of choosing our own subjects; and mine have been, the seat of the soul, polygamy, and God's prescience of contingencies; and I am now preparing one in defence of the soul's immortality.'-vol. i. pp. 41, 42.

And in one written shortly after to his brother-in-law:

• Our course this last half year has been as follows: Monday, pneumatology and ethics—Tuesday, pneumatological disputations-Wednesday,

pneumatology and ethics—Thursday, pneumatology and ethics, and Saturday, critics.

• The materials of our pneumatology were collected by Mr. Jennings out of a great number of authors, and digested into a very regular method, with references under each head. There is nothing very remarkable in it, and so I need not enlarge in giving you an account of it. If there be any thing particular in it, you will see it the next time I come to town. There are indeed some propositions I should be glad to discourse with you about, for I could never clearly get over them.

Our ethics are interwoven with pneumatology, and make a very considerable part of it. They are mostly collected from Puffendorf and Grotius, and contain no very surprising discoveries, but seein to be built on a very rational foundation, and comprise a great deal in a few words. Ethics and pneumatology we have just finished. Our critics are an abridgment by Mr. Jennings, and treat of such subjects as the antiquity of the Hebrew language and its points, the Massora, Cabbala, Talmud, the Septuagint, and other versions of the Bible; we have continually large references to Buxtorf, Prideaux, and other authors of great note. I think it the least entertaining part of our studies, but I hope it may be of some use to us, and so rub through it as well as I can.

• We have but little time for private study, because the references are long, and the subjects frequently require much thought, and we hare the trouble of writing out five or six lectures a week. As for the classics, I do not entirely neglect them, but have not so much time for them as I could wish. I have lately read Horace and Terence, with Dacier's notes. For Greek authors, I have read Zenophon, Epictetus, Isocrates, and Lucian. I made an attempt upon Pindar, but quickly found I could make little out; for as yet, as you know, I am but a poor Grecian.

In practical divinity, Tillotson is my principal favourite, and next to him Barrow and Scott. We have some of Goodwin's works in the library, and some of the great Dr. Owen's, but you know I am not very fond of such mysterious men. As to the theoretical part of divinity, I refer it to the remaining part of my course, and shall study it in the order' my tutor directs. As for the Scriptures, I read the New Testament in Greek, without any commentator ; but am more often employed in Patrick's Conmentary on the Old.'--pp. 43—45.

Another interesting and more amusing part of the correspondence is that which arose from the Doctor's love affairs. He was, both according to his own account and that of his friends, a most ardent admirer of the fair sex, and his first thoughts on concluding his studies, were engaged in seeking for a fair and accomplished mistress. An object in every way suited to his wishes, presented herself, in the person of Miss Catherine Freeman. She was, if we are to believe the Doctor's account of the matter, very handsome, very intelligent, and not wanting in other endowments which might render her acceptable to a needy bachelor. But Mr, Doddridge, though willing to perform all the duties of a most devoted lover, could not conceive the idea that he must deny himself the pleasure of conversing with other pretty ladies, as he terms those who

« ZurückWeiter »