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ing the proper duties of life; and when I find myself refreshed rather than fatigued with these attempts of service, I cannot think myself fairly discharged from continuing them.” another friend he thus writes; "I am indeed subject to a little cough, but I never preached with more freedom and pleasure. I am generally employed, with very short intervals, from morning to night, and have seldom more than six hours in bed; yet such is the goodness of God to me, that I seldom know what it is to be weary. I hope my labours are not in vain. There are those, who drink in the word with great eagerness; and I hope it will be found, that it is not merely as the barren sand drinks in the rain, but rather that it falls on ground, which divine grace will make prolific. This animates me to my labours." In short, he lived much in a little time; and thought it was better to wear himself out in his Master's service, than rust in literary indolence, or drag on a longer life, when his vivacity and activity might be so much diminished, as in the course of nature they generally are.-The motto of his family arms was, Dum vivimus vivamus; under which he wrote the following lines, very expressive of his general temper:
"Live, while you live," the epicure would say,
His Attempts to do Good, and to promote and encourage the Zeal of others, beyond the Limits of his own Congregation and Family.
WE have seen what uncommon and almost unparalleled diligence Dr. Doddridge exercised, and with what care he applied himself to the duties of his station, as a pastor, and a tutor.
* 1 Cor. xv. 32.
† Eccl. ix. x.
Dr. Johnson's opinion of these lines was, that they constituted one of the finest epigrams in the English language.
Mr. Doddridge had a talent at satirical epigrams; an instance of which is the following, written on one of his pupils, a weak young man who thought that he had invented a method of flying to the moon.
"And will Volatio leave this world so soon,
But that zeal for God and pious concern for the salvation of men, which glowed in his breast and led him to this diligence, carried him yet further; and excited him to embrace every opportunity of doing good to the souls of his fellow-creatures. He often conversed with strangers, whom he accidentally met with, about their religious concerns in a prudent and friendly manner. There are some instances of this kind mentioned in his papers, where he had reason to hope, that a serious lasting impression was made upon their hearts by such conversation.He generally attended the condemned malefactors at Northampton, with a compassionate view to promote their salvation. Besides conversing and praying with them, he expounded and preached to them; and once he expounded the fifty-first psalm to several, who were to suffer together, with which they seemed to be much affected. Moreover, he laboured to quicken all, to whom he had access, to pious and benevolent services, and to assist and encourage those, who were employing their time and abilities in them. He thought a prudent active zeal for the interest of religion, one of the best evidences of a pious heart. Thus writing to a friend, he saith, "I am just returned from visiting your relation. I find her in a peaceable and happy state, amidst almost total blindness, deafness and other infirmities of age. She is not indeed favoured with such sensible supports and manifestations of the divine love, as she could wish: but hath, what I think yet more desirable, a most affectionate zeal for the glory of God and good of men, and talks with such a hearty concern for the interest of real religion, as revived my heart."
He greatly lamented the indolence of many christian ministers; even some that were most distinguished for their philosophical and critical learning. While he saw no evidence that was applied to the grand ends of the ministry, he looked upon it as little better than laborious trifling. One of his brethren of great abilities was so fond of retirement and study, that he was averse to settling with a congregation and to any public services: To him he thus addressed in 1724; "I am sorry that you think of spending your life in a hermitage, in this learned and polite luxury. God hath endowed you with capacities, which are not always to be buried in retirement. So bright a lamp was not lighted up to consume in a sepulchre, but to be fixed on an eminence, where its rays may be diffused with public advantage, and conduct many through this gloomy desart to the regions of eternal glory.
I hope therefore and believe, it is your constant care to make all your studies subservient to the views of such services. When providence calls you to a more public appearance, I hope you will be willing to quit your cell, charming as it is, that you may enter upon employments at least more important, if not more delicate, than those, which you now pursue. This is a piece of self-denial, which duty requires us to submit to; and which will be acceptable to God in proportion to our fondness for those elegancies, which we are contented to interrupt and postpone, that we may attend to the advancement of his kingdom and interest. We know the applause of our heavenly master will be an abundant recompence for all the pleasures we have given up for his sake; and before we receive that public remuneration, we shall find such entertainment in the exercise of benevolence to our fellow-creatures, and the hope of promoting their everlasting felicity, as we shall never find in conversing with Virgil or Tully, Pliny or Addison, or any of the favourite attendants of our solitude."When he saw any of his pupils or younger brethren indolent, or not applying their time and talents to the care of souls, he would freely expostulate with them; and if ever his zeal was excessive, it was here. When he saw, how much was needful to be done for Christ and souls, and how little really was done, by many persons of great abilities and religious characters, his spirit was moved within him. He took occasion, therefore, when he preached before his brethren, to urge every consideration and motive, that was likely to increase their activity. His discourse on "The Evil and Danger of Neglecting the Souls of Men," contains many forcible arguments on this head, sufficient to rouse the spirit of every minister, that is not sunk into stupidity.
He esteemed it a fault in some worthy ministers, that they were backward to engage in public services, at the stated assemblies of ministers, and on occasional days of prayer or thanksgiving. The multiplicity of his business and the importance of his domestic engagements, might have been a reasonable apology for his absence from such meetings, or for being generally excused from performing any part of the service; yet he was seldom absent, except hindered by sickness, and made no difficulty of complying with the desire of his brethren to take a share of the work. He thought, that for ministers to decline, or to need much entreaty, to engage on such occasions, was disrespectful to their brethren, and was setting a bad example before their young associates; while it seemed to furnish their
hearers with something of a plausible pretence for refusing to engage in social prayer, or even to pray in their own families: on this principle he was determined to act, though he might be, as he sometimes was, charged with vanity and love of applause for so doing. In order to make the meetings of ministers turn to a better account, than he feared they had generally done, he endeavoured to promote more regular associations; that the hands of each other might be strengthened by united consultation and prayer, and that they might concur in some schemes for the revival of religion. What he attempted of this kind, may be seen in the preface to the sermon above mentioned; and the attentive reader of it will perceive, how well it was adapted to pomote piety, zeal and love among ministers and their congregations.
He was solicitous, that something more might be done among the dissenting churches, towards the propagation of christianity abroad, and spreading it in some of the darker parts of our own land. His scheme for this purpose may be seen in the same preface: It would too much swell this work to insert either of the plans in it. I mention them in this connection, as evidences of his fervent zeal to serve the cause of christianity and vital religion; and it is hoped the publication of them bath tended to inspire a like zeal into others. With the same views, he generously contributed towards publishing some practical books in the Welch language. He was a hearty friend to the success of a society in Scotland, for propagating christian knowledge, especially in North America, of which he was a corresponding member. He lamented that there were so few missionaries among the Indians near our settlements there; and was very desirous to train up some serious youths of good health and resolution to be employed in that capacity. Two of his pupils were educated with this view, and would cheerfully have gone upon the service; but their nearest relations would not permit them. "Such, saith he, is the weakness of their faith and love! I hope I can truly say, that, if God would put it into the heart of my only Son to go under this character, I could willingly part with him, though I were to see him no more. What are the views of a family and a name, when compared with a regard to extending my Redeemer's kingdom and gaining souls to Christ?"
He was desirous to countenance and encourage all those, who appeared to have the interest of religion much at heart, and to be zealous to instruct and save souls, though they were of different sentiments and persuasions from himself. He at first entertained a good opinion of Count Zinzendorf, and his
associates, from the accounts he had received of them, as a late Archbishop of Canterbury, and many other wise and pious men had done; and he spoke of them in honourable terms. But what he observed of his crude notions of religion, in an interview he had with him; and what he read of them in his sermons and hymns, convinced him, that, whatever the Count's private views were, his manner of representing some doctrines of the gospel, and particularly his disrelish for all of them, but those which relate to the Lamb, as his followers generally call our blessed Lord, did Christ very little honour and tended little to christian edification. He was cautious of entering into any intimacy with his associates: "For, saith he, I would remember, that it is a supposable, yea a probable case, that ill designing men may endeavour to promote enthusiasm and divide churches, merely with a view to enrich and exalt themselves, as heads of a party." But when he heard that some of the Count's followers despised prayer, made light of holiness, and run into other pernicious errors, he concluded that they were bad men, preaching with mean and interested views. He was preparing a letter to Count Zinzendorf, containing a serious Address to him and Expostulation with him; and warning others against the errors and enormities into which his followers had run, and which had filled so many serious minds, who once thought well of them, with wonder and horror.
He had a favourable opinion of some of those clergymen of the church of England, who went under the name of methodists. By the conversation he had with some of them, and what he had read of their discourses, he was led to hope and believe, that they honestly intended the advancement of religion. He thought it some justification of their itinerant preaching, that they went principally, at least at first, among the most ignorant, rude and profane persons, who scarce ever attended any place of worship; that the state of religion was low and melancholy, and there was too little seriousness, zeal, and a care to insist upon the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, among ministers. He had seen some good effects of their labours in his own neighbourhood; he had heard of more, from sufficient authority; and this left him no room to doubt but God had owned them. "I cannot but think, saith he, that by the success of some of these despised men, God is rebuking the madness of those, who think themselves the only wise men, and in a remarkable manner making bare his mighty arm." He was very sensible of their errors and defects; but had observed, in the history of former times, that many persons of great piety, zeal and benevolence had been led, partly by their