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, he admired, the Archbishops Leighton and Mr. Baxter and Dr. Watts. "I confess (saith dese when a party spirit runs high among the wex of religion, or the different divisions of man
most amiable virtue of moderation is called by Ox names of indifference, lukewarmness or trimsi at sustains a world of reproaches from both the Moderation, though it is the blessed 4g Parties. sope when awakens and assists men to become peace ve at the same time, when it enters into the battle contenders, it receives an unkind stroke from
Pr. Doddridge endeavoured to act up to that wh his affectionate friend and fellow-sufferer Ni in the same discourse. "When any sect of
xxx to be carried away with the furious torrent walling notions, or some unnecessary practices; y al superstition, or a contentious spirit, the motries to shew, how much of truth and goodness Asad among each party, where all agree to hold
, the head; though he dares not renounce a grain a necessary duty for the sake of peace, and he wo.. Angie nd earnestly, where providence calls him, for the articles of faith, which were once delivered to the Ne" He saw and lamented the sad deviation of Maisters from, what he thought, important truths of
* Ays & Works, v. vii, p. 206.
controversies, it will not appear
m~ grable virtue of moderation should be
ans, eace not to run the lengths of any n. to the resentment and censure posite. "He found by dear expresseth it) that he lived in an gnal to be moderate.*” Some oo loose in his sentiments; others The high Calvinists (to use his e, and some of the friends of liberty a strange catachresis they call themcensured him.
ented by the bigots on both sides as a vie dealer. So have many of the greatest som, holiness and zeal been represented; take comfort in this, that he was no worse these four excellent divines, whose writings,
+ Watts's Sermons, v. i. s. 28.
the gospel; insisting upon them much less, than they shouldhave done; or in such a manner, as if they were making concessions to an adversary, rather than opening their hearts to their hearers upon a favourite subject. He saw persons refining upon a plain gospel, till it was almost evaporated and lost; and therefore he was the more strenuous in the support of its vital truths. "I hope, (saith he, in a sermon before an assembly of ministers) we shall never practise so dangerous a complaisance to the unbelievers of the present age, as to wave the gospel, that we may accommodate ourselves to their taste; which if we do, we may indeed preserve the name of virtue, but I fear we shall destroy the thing itself; lose it in our congregations, and probably in our hearts too: for I confess it seems to me much more probable, that the doctrines of natural religion alone should be blessed, as the means of reforming heathens, who never heard of christianity, than that they should have much effect upon those, who, under the profession of it, slight its most glorious peculiarities; as if the religion of Jesus were a mere incumbrance, which, while we own it to be true, we might nevertheless forget, without great danger or much inconvenience."
In a letter to one of his younger brethren, he thus expresseth himself upon this subject; "Indeed the gospel is a great thing, or it is nothing. I am more and more convinced of the importance of keeping to the good old evangelical and experimental way of preaching; and look upon most of the new-fashioned divinity, of which some persons, in different extremes, are so fond, as a kind of quackery, which bodes ill to the health of the soul, and of the church in general. You know how cautious I am of troubling the church of Christ with disputes; but my faith in the doctrines I preach, is more and more confirmed by studying the scriptures, by experience and observation. What I have wrote concerning them proceeds not from any sourness of temper, or any want of charity for, or love to, persons of a different opinion; though some of them have, as you well know, laid me under strong temptations to it, by exercising as little charity towards me, as if there had been no common bond of christianity or even humanity to unite us."-For such a regard to the peculiar doctrines of the gospel in his preaching and writings he was much censured; and neither his moderation and other personal virtues, nor all his zeal for the service of the common cause of chrisT
tians, protestants or dissenters, could shelter him from the affected contempt and severe reproaches of some angry people, who, amidst all their professions of the most unbounded charity, thought his an excepted case, or chose rather to be injurious to him, than consistent with themselves.*” instances in which he was treated in this manner might be Many mentioned: but as I know he forgave them, I hope his friends, who were acquainted with them, have done the It will be more for the reader's edification, to see how he expressed himself on these occasions, both as to the foundation of the censures passed upon him, and the frame of his spirit under them, in some letters to his intimate friends, and in his own private reflections, of which I will give him a faithful extract.
One of his friends had informed him that he had been charged with insincerity; especially in using some particular phrases in his writings, in a sense different from that in which he himself understood them, in order to please a party. To this he answereth; "My conscience doth not tell me, that I am at all to blame on the head you mention. I write for the public (as I would also do in every private correspondence) as in the presence of God, and in the views. of his judgment. I would not purchase that phantom, popularity, which is often owing to the very worst part of a man's character or performances, by any compliances beneath the dignity of a christian minister; an office, of which I think so highly, as to be deeply sensible how unworthy I am to bear it. On the other hand, I do indeed desire to give as little offence, as I honestly can; and I have high authorities for it: and though I am, and always declare that I am, in my judgment, greatly against the imposition of human phrases, yet, as some can hardly be avoided on one hand or the other, I chuse to adopt and use some that are ambiguous, in what I take to be a fair sense, though not the only sense they might bear; and by declaring it, to endeavour to fix a good idea to them, rather than absolutely to declare against, or even totally to disuse them. Others, wider by far in their sentiments than I, are indulged in this, and even applauded for it: I have the misfortune (I cannot use the word more properly) to be condemned.- -I do indeed believe, that it is generally thought by that part of the world, which some in jest, and some in sober sadness,
* Sermons and Tracts.
are ready to charge with heretical pravity, that I approach much nearer to their sentiments, than I really do: and perhaps three causes have concurred to lead them into that apprehension. A general conceit, that their notions are so self-evident, that none but an extremely weak or ignorant man (which they pay me the compliment of supposing that I am not, though they afterwards fully balance the account) can possibly be of a different opinion. Some hints, which I may perhaps have dropped between the years 1723 and 1730 or thereabouts, when I was really more inclined to some of their sentiments than I now am; and-my hearing them assert some of them patiently in a mixed company, when I have not been in a humour to dispute.
"The friendly manner in which I have conversed with, and spoken of, some of those obnoxious gentlemen, and the honour I have done publicly and privately to those writings, in which I think they have deserved well of christianity in general, though I may have thought them allayed with some considerable mixture of error, may have conduced further to lead them to a conclusion, that I was much more of their mind, in some disputable cases, than I really am. My great care not to judge others and my using at different times, different phrases, which have appeared to me perfectly consistent, though others may have apprehended the contrary, may also have contributed to produce the same effect. But on the whole, I know assuredly, that I have not on any occasion belied the real sentiments of my heart; and that by my necessary caution on this head, I have lost many friends, whom I could easily have kept, and whom I speculatively knew the way of cementing to me, much to my own secular advantage; though I could not go to the price of it, when that price was only a few ambiguous words. This, Sir, may give you a general view of the matter; but if it occurs to you to mention any particular phrases and modes of expression, charged with the evils, of which this condescension is said to be productive, I shall open my heart about them with the utmost freedom; as I know nothing in my purposes or views, which I would not wish you thoroughly to understand; and if I cannot vindicate such phrases, I will for the future lay them aside. I speak upon this head, without any reserve or any regret, as a man that is inwardly easy, and being sound, can bear handling; and you are perfectly welcome to shew this letter to whom you please.”
To another friend, who had informed him of some reports he had heard to the disadvantage of his character, he thus writes; "I wish every one, whose friendship is worth preserving, would
give me such an opportunity as you have done, of explaining myself freely, with regard to those things, which have been so unjustly aggravated. My righteousness is in it; and I am fully persuaded, that what I have done in the various circumstances, in which my conduct hath been arraigned, would be found at least the pardonable infirmities of an honest man, who fears God and loves all mankind; and who meant heartily well to the persons, who thought themselves most injured by him, in what he did, or did not do, in relation to them. It is a great comfort, that innocence can make its appeal to God, as St. Paul so often doth, when malice, or prejudice, or mistake, which last I believe more frequently to have been the case with regard to me, lays to its charge things, which he would not deliberately do to save his life. The reflections which have been thrown upon me, as a double-dealer and an inconsistent man, have often put me upon looking inward, and upon submitting myself to the scrutiny of the all-searching eye, in my most serious and solemn moments. I have, I thank God, a constant sense of the general uprightness of my heart before him; and can say, with that good man, of whose afflictions God hath caused me in this instance to partake, Thou knowest that I am not wicked.
"Religion is with me an inward thing; and if it were not, it could not have supported me, as it hath done, in the nearest views of the divine tribunal. Were my wordly interest the principle upon which I acted, I should have conformed long since and should do it immediately; and you are no stranger to some offers that have been made me. You know the warmth and tenderness of my temper, and how liable it is to strong impressions. You also know the great multiplicity of my affairs: the haste with which I am frequently obliged to write, without taking copies of my letters: and when these things come to be laid together, I cannot pretend to say, that I have always acted with that perfect consistency, which I could have wished. Perhaps few men can say it. My views of the same person, and of the same things, may also have altered. But upon the whole, so far as I can judge and recollect, I have generally given but very little cause for the reflections, which have been cast upon me; nor have I ever, in any instance, that I know of, acted a part, which my conscience hath condemned as insincere, or that it should afterwards on reflection upbraid me with, as dishonest. But I may, through an excessive tenderness of displeasing, have left men of different opinions more room to think me in their sentiments, by my not opposing them,