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able. In cases of separation, I think it the wisdom and duty of my brethren, to treat any minister, whom a church separated from theirs shall chuse, with whatever degree of kindness and respect his temper and conduct might entitle him to in any other situation; without imputing to him any thing, that might seem matter of complaint in that body of men, from whom he received the invitation. It is most for the peace of ministers and the churches over which they preside, that those, who are discontented under their ministry, should have a place to receive them, rather than continue where they were on uneasy terms. God knows, I have no part in dividing counsels, though I have been charged with it, or any thing that should alienate the hearts of good men from each other."
Upon these maxims he acted himself, and found the comfort of it. There was a congregation in Northampton, which chiefly consisted of those, who had separated from his before he settled there: Nevertheless he lived upon the most friendly terms with them, as he believed they acted agreeably to the convictions of their own consciences. He rejoiced when they had a worthy minister of moderate principles, treated him in a brotherly manner and did him all the service in his power: particularly, he procured for him an annual allowance towards his better support, by the favourable representation he made of his temper and character, and by assuring those, who were concerned in the allowance, that he should take it as no offence to himself. He was desirous to turn the zeal of his brethren into a right channel, to persuade them to suspend at least their debates upon smaller matters, that they might with united efforts concur in prosecuting that great design, for which the gospel was revealed, the spirit given, and their office instituted." Since it is so evident, saith he, that irreligion hath gained ground upon us, while we have been attending to other, and, to be sure, lesser matters, let us, by a plain, serious, zealous way of preaching the most vital truths of christianity, joined with a diligent inspection of the souls committed to our care, try what can be done to prevent the progress of this growing apostacy, and recover the ground we have lost. Ignorant and prejudiced men may perhaps accuse us of bigotry or enthusiasm; but let us do our best to convince them of their error, by the candour of our temper and the prudence of our con..duct*."
Sermons on Regeneration, Pref,
While he was thus candid and moderate towards his protestant brethren, he had a just abhorrence of the tenets of popery, and especially its persecuting spirit; as he hath shewn in his comments on those passages of the New Testament, which refer to this great apostacy, and in his much admired sermon, on "The Absurdity and Iniquity of Persecution for Conscience Sake in all its Kinds and Degrees." How he considered and estimated the difference between the churches of England and Rome, will be seen in the following passage from one of his sermons against popery, (mentioned above) page 52, shewing how reasonable and necessary the reformation was, and how justifiable our continued separation from the Romish church is. "My brethren, pardon the freedom of my speech. I should have thought it my duty to have separated from the church of Rome, had she pretended only to determine those things, which Christ has left indifferent: How much more, when she requires a compliance with those, which he hath expressly forbid? When she has the insolence to say, You shall not only confine yourself to a prescribed form of werds, but you shall worship in an unknown tongue: You shall not only bow at the venerable name of our common Lord, but you shall worship an image: You shall not only kneel at the communion, but kneel in adoration of a piece of bread: You shall not only pronounce, or at least appear to pronounce, those accursed, who do not believe what is acknowledged to be incomprehensible, but those who do not believe what is most contrary to our reason and senses. When these are the terms of our continued communion, the Lord judge between us and them! Had nothing but indifferent things been in dispute, we should have done, as we do by our brethren of the church of England, taken our leave of them with decency and respect: We would have loved them as our brethren, while we could not have owned them as our lords. But when they require us to purchase our peace, by violating our consciences and endangering our souls, it is no wonder that we escape as for our lives: retiring, not as in the former case, from an inconvenient lodging, where we are straitened for want of room, but from a ruinous house, where we are in danger of being crushed to pieces; or rather, we retire with indignation and horror, as from a den of thieves, where we must be either the associates or the sacrifices of their wickedness. And to all their terrors and threatnings, we oppose the awful voice of God, Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers
of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities; Rev. xviii. 4, 5.
His Benevolence, Affability, public Spirit, and Liberality.
DR. DODDRIDGE was very much of the gentleman, understood the decorum of behaviour, and was solicitous to treat others with those forms of civility and complaisance, which are usual among well-bred people. "I know, saith he, that these things are mere trifles in themselves, but they are the outguards of humanity and friendship, and effectually prevent many a rude attack; which, taking its rise from some little circumstance, may nevertheless be attended with fatal consequences." The waspishness of some learned and good men, and the acrimony, with which they treat others whom they think their inferiors in knowledge and science, or who differ from them in sentiments, were very disagreeable to him. He had contracted nothing of that moroseness and distance, which persons of great reading, and those who are engaged in a constant hurry of business, are apt to discover in their converse, especially with their inferiors. There was nothing uncivil or forbidding in his behaviour; nothing overbearing or harsh in his language. He was easy of access to the poorest, when they came to him about their afflictions or religious concerns, and would leave his most favourite studies to hear their complaints, to counsel, comfort and pray with them; he treated them with tenderness, yet lessened not himself by unbecoming familiarity. He thought such a deportment peculiarly incumbent on the ministers of the gospel and the instructors of youth; out of regard to their general character, the influence of their example, and from a concern to lead all with whom they conversed, especially those under their care, to entertain a favourable opinion of their humility and readiness to serve them. In consequence of such an opinion, they will be more free in their conversation with them, especially in communicating their spiritual concerns, than they would be, if they saw them difficult of access or austere in their manner of conversing,
His temper was unsuspicious, mild and sweet; and in his tongue was the law of kindness. This, it must be owned, was sometimes carried to an excess; especially in younger life. His candour led him to think more favourably of some
persons than they deserved; particularly those who possessed some shining talents or qualities, especially if they appeared to be active for the advancement of religion. At the same time the openness of his temper, and a kind of natural complaisance, led him to say civil and obliging things of their characters and views: But in some instances he afterwards saw reason to alter his judgment of them, and be upon the reserve in his behaviour to them. This produced some inconveniences; for a few who did not know him, suspected his sincerity; and the persons in question thought themselves injured, by his declining an intimacy with them, or a recommendation of them, from which they expected some advantage. While those who were most intimately acquainted with his real character, and the motives on which he acted, knew him to be incapable of that dissimulation or inconsistency, with which he was charged. I mention this the rather, that it may serve as a caution to the good-natured reader, to restrain the excesses of civility and compliment; agree.. ably to the advice of a noble writer, "Be cautious in all declarations of friendship; as the very common forms of civility are too often explained into undesigned engagements*.
But the benevolence of the Doctor's temper was not shewn in word and tongue only, but in deed and in truth; and the effects of it were substantial, lovely and extensive. His zeal to do good to the souls of men, arising in part from this benevolent principle, hath already been mentioned. I am now to add, that his heart was touched with the miseries of the poor, and this led him to devise liberal things. No man was more free from a covetous spirit. He never sought great things for himself and his family, nor was ambitious to leave them rich in this world. He often quoted that saying of his Master, as a true and precious monument of apostolic tradition: It is more blessed to give than to receive. He enquired after and relieved distressed objects; pleaded the cause of the poor and needy in his sermons and private discourses, and used all his interest with his friends to induce them to do good and to communicate. But he never laid any burden of this kind upon others (if perhaps they might think it so) without bearing more of it himself, than, some may think, in justice to his family, he ought to have done. He exhorted others, agreeably to the directions of the New Testament, to appropriate some certain part and proportion of their estate and revenues to charitable uses; with a provisional increase, as God should prosper them in any ex
• Lord Orrery's Life of Swift, p. 224.
traordinary instances. By this means they would always have a fund at hand; and probably communicate, when they looked upon what was so deposited, as not in any sense their own; but as already given away to such uses, though not yet affixed to particular objects. He exhorted christians to make a trial for one year, on such terms, as they thought in their consciences would be most pleasing to God; and by their observation on that, to fix their proportion for the next. He exhorted them to spare, to retrench superfluities, and deny themselves some of the elegancies of life; not that they might have more to hoard up, but have more to give*. And upon these maxims he acted himself.
In one of his annual reflections upon the providences of God to him, his views, resolutions, &c. he writes; "I have this day in secret devotion, made a vow, that I would consecrate a tenth part of my estate and income to charitable uses, and an eighth part of all that shall this year come in from my books to occasional contributions; unless any circumstances arise, which lead me to believe, that it will be injurious to others to do it." At the beginning of the following year he thus writes; "Having fully discharged the charitable account last year, I renew the like resolution for this; and desire to observe how God prospers me, that I may do in proportion to it." His ac, counts shew, how punctually he fulfilled this engagement, and that he often exceeded them: So that, considering his family, and the precariousness of most of his income, his liberality will appear very remarkable. He often lamented, that in his youth he had not been sufficiently frugal, so as to leave room for contributing more to relieve the necessities of others; though while he was at school and the academy, as he hath sometimes informed his pupils, he never contracted any debts, nor spent money in unnecessary articles. This he reckoned a piece of justice to his benefactors, and a preparatory discipline for appearing reputably, and maintaining good economy, when he entered upon public life; and though his income was small, he had always a little cash in hand at the close of every year. Yet he afterwards thought, he might have been more frugal, and thereby have had more to have done good with.
Besides the proportion he devoted to charitable uses, he was a lover of hospitality, entertained his brethren and friends with great respect and kindness, and supplied many necessitous persons and families. After a considerable legacy to the poor in his will, he
Rise and Progress, ch. 23. § 10.