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great freedom and enlargement, ardently longing for more of his spirit to sanctify and quicken me. I devoted myself to God in my various relations, with warm resolutions for his service, and laid all my views and comforts at his feet. What was most particular in the exercises of this day was, that upon reviewing some accounts of the temper of my mind many years ago, I observed and reflected upon the sad inconstant state in which it was for some time in my youth. I confessed those particular sins and all my sins, with very low and abasing thoughts of myself. I did in some measure abhor myself and repent, as in dust and ashes. And being filled with shame and confusion of face on account. of them, I took some time to humble myself more solemnly before God for them; intreating his mercy to pardon what is past, and the sanctifying influences of his grace more fully to renew my soul; beseeching the Lord, not to blast my labours on account of them, as I have deserved; praying that I may bear them in remembrance, while I live in every future circumstance of life. I was much affected to think, that, notwithstanding them, God should honour me as an instrument of so much usefulness. Among other mercies, I thankfully acknowledged divine goodness, that I had been enabled so faithfully to execute that part of my scheme, of visiting families and conversing with them on religious subjects, and prayed for every family and person I had visited with this view, as their circumstances required. I then formed some purposes for serving God and promoting his glory, which I turned into prayers, asking of him prudence and resolution to fulfil them. I particularly asked for myself more of the spirit of prayer, and a heart more devoted to God than ever. I was so delighted with my nearness to God that I was loth to break off. I was comforted in the review of my work, that my prayers had been solemn, sincere and deliberate; though not attended with such a fervour of spirit, through the whole exercise, as I have sometimes felt at these seasons. I left the place with a chearful persuasion, that my prayers were heard, and that I shall see the outgoings of my God and my King in his sanctuary. Adored be the condescending God, who gave me such a meeting in them! Oh, when shall I come and appear before him again?" I will only add another specimen ; which may be serviceable to the devout and lively christian, by shewing him, that such delightful, intercourse with heaven is not always to be expected, even when the greatest care is taken to secure it; but that necessary worldly business, bodily disorders, or growing infirmities may interrupt or lessen it.
* June 1, 1751. Having had more than ordinary work some past days, and being extremely low, my devotions were this day strangely mingled, and sadly interrupted; and upon the whole, it was the most uncomfortable day of this kind, that I ever spent: So that in reflecting upon it, I was tempted to think, that my time would have been more profitably employed in the usual business of the family and the academy, than in this retirement. I was fearful that my deadness this day might be owing to the divine displeasure against me, for having been more dissipated and negligent than usual, in my devotion and conduct. Truly secret devotion hath suffered a great deal, amidst the many cares and hurries, the unseasonable hours, the visits and company of late days. It seemed just in God to disappoint my expectations from this day, that I may learn caution for the future, especially in the scenes through which I am going to pass in my intended journey. My thoughts were more distracted and wandering than I ever before experienced on these days. I had many mercies to ask for myself, and for others, particularly for my pupils, who are going out into the church : Yet I felt a barrenness and deadness of heart, as if all these things were nothing to me. My thanksgivings and intercessions were really so unlike those I have sometimes offered, with all my heart and all my soul, that I hardly know how to call them prayers. I hope and believe upon the whole, that this was chiefly owing to the weakness of my frame and the dejection of my spirits. Nevertheless I thought it my duty to lament my indisposition for devotion and to struggle with it, which I did for a long time; and at length the duties of this retirement concluded with a bright hour, when committing my family, academy and church to God, and interceding for my friends and the public. My prayers were warm and lively, and they will not be vain. Having reviewed the memoranda of several of these seasons for the last year, I find, upon the whole, so much cause for thankfulness, that I purpose by divine grace to continue this practice, as long as I have life, health and ability."
Such pains did Dr. Doddridge take to keep up an habitual sense of God, to maintain and increase the ardour of religion in his heart; and to furnish himself, by these devout exercises, with spirit and resolution to go through the important and arduous labours of his station, which otherwise he could not have done! It is probable that some may treat such exercises as these with contempt, and think his time was very ill employed in them. I lament the stupidity and wretchedness of such persons; and could wish, by
any thing that hath been here said, to awaken those, who cast off fear and restrain prayer before God. Others, who do not entirely neglect devotion, may think so much time spent in it unnecessary, and that such exercises are burdensome and uncomfortable. But he found them delightful and animating; and I am persuaded every serious christian, who hath made the experiment, and taken due pains to engage the heart, hath found them so too. Besides his reflections upon them, mentioned above, I will add his public testimony to the pleasure of them. "The experience of many years of my life hath established me in a persuasion, that one day spent in a devout, religious manner, is preferable to whole years of sensuality and the neglect of religion. The most considerable enjoyments, which I expect or desire, in the remaining days of my pilgrimage on earth, are such, as I have directed you to seek in religion. Such love to God, such constant activity in his service, such pleasurable views of what lies beyond the grave, appear to me, God is my witness, a felicity infinitely beyond any thing else, which can offer itself to our affections and pursuits: And I would not, for ten thousand worlds, resign my share in them, or consent even to the suspension of the delights, which they afford, during the remainder of my abode here.*"
There is nothing I more desire by this work, and especially by the view which hath been given of Dr. Doddridge's piety, than to excite in the hearts of my readers, and especially ministers, a more diligent application to devotional exercises, and greater life and fervency in them; and with this view will recommend to their attention the following passage from the judicious Dr. Duchal's sermons. After observing, that prayer and other exercises of devotion are required, not on account of any advantages God can be supposed to receive from them, but to excite in us worthy and good affections, he adds; "Now, though this is indeed very true, yet consequences have been drawn from it, that are very false; particularly, that the whole of religion, that is, of real worth, consists in probity of mind, in good dispositions and behaviour towards our neighbour; and that where these are found, religious exercises are very little, if at all, useful; and that a constant and serious application to them is really superstitious. As the natural effect of this way of thinking, a very wide difference may be discerned between our taste and way,
*Rise and Progress, ch. 30. § 1.
and that of our predecessors. A great part of their religious business lay in the labours of the closet and in a solicitous attendance upon other religious services; whereas we have learned to be very indifferent as to these things, and easy in the neglect of them. But if we will think justly on this subject, we shall find an extreme defect on our side. Do but consider how natural it is to pay the utmost veneration to the divine being, and to take all proper occasions of expressing it. Is not this what we owe him? Is it not at least as just and equal as to pay regard to distinguished worth in our fellow creatures? And will not that sense of worth, and that affection, which determines us to this, as naturally determine us to pay the utmost regard to that being, whose worth and excellencies are quite peerless, and to do him the utmost honour? &c.*."
But Dr. Doddridge's devotion and piety was not confined to his secret retirements; it was manifested through every day, and appeared in his intercourse with men. Besides having his hours and plan for devout retirement, to which he kept as strictly and steadily as possible, he endeavoured to carry a devout temper with him into the world; and was lifting up his heart to God in those little vacancies of time, which often hang on the hands of the busiest of mankind, but might this way be profitably employed. In his daily converse there was a savour of religion. In his lectures of philosophy, history, anatomy, &c. he took occasion to graft some religious instructions on what he had been illustrating, that he might raise the minds of his pupils to God and heaven. The christian friend and minister appeared in his visits. He took care to drop some useful hints of reproof, advice or encouragement, suited to particular cases, where the conversation did not turn on subjects directly religious. He had resolution to reprove in a gentle but effectual manner, profane or licentious words spoken by persons of rank and fortune, and had the happy art of complimenting them upon some good quality they possessed, while he reproved their irregularities; and by this means prevented their shewing any resentment. He knew how by an angry countenance to drive away a backbiting tongue, when he could not, from personal knowledge, confute the slander.
He often concluded his common visits to his friends with prayer. This was comfortable and advantageous to them; directed them how to suit their prayers to the particular circumstances of their respective families, and gave him an opportunity
of suggesting, in a powerful but inoffensive manner, some reflections, which it might be needful for them to attend to, according to their particular conditions and characters. When he went with a more direct intention to converse with families upon their religious concerns, he considered how he might most easily and naturally introduce the subject; how public occurrences, which were the topic of general conversation, might furnish him with an opportunity of leading their thoughts to God and religion. I find in his papers, many hints of the manner in which he would address particular persons; and lists of those, to whom such and such particular addresses should be made. So much prudence and caution was mingled with his pious concern for their benefit, that his end might not be defeated, nor his good evil spoken of! The same pious spirit appeared in his correspondence with his friends. In short letters upon business, he often inserted something that might lead their thoughts inward, impress them with some religious sentiment and increase their zeal. He thought no opportunity was to be lost of attempting this, and his large correspondence furnished him with many. He unbosomed his soul to his particular friends with great freedom and copiousness; and I am persuaded, they esteem his letters a most valuable treasure: In order that they may be more generally useful, I have made so many extracts from those, to which I could have access.
The following letter to one of his friends in 1728 appears deserving of notice, as a specimen of the method which he took to promote religion in their hearts; and as a hint to my readers, how they may improve their correspondence to the best purposes. His friend had complained of his neglect of writing; to which he answers; "My negligence in writing was certainly a fault; but, to speak very freely to a friend from whom I affect to conceal nothing, doth not a fault of a like nature prevail in us both, with regard to other instances of much greater importance? We feel a very sensible concern, when we have failed in any expressions of respect to a human friend: But is there not an invisible friend, who deserves infinitely better of us both, than we of each other, or than others of us? And yet him of all others we are most ready to forget. Is not he, every day and every moment, reminding us of his affection and care by a rich variety of favours, which surround us? And yet hath he not reason to complain, that our hearts are estranged from him? Believe me, my friend, when I think of my propensity to forget and offend God, all the instances of negligence, which others can charge me with, are as nothing; and I am almost ashamed