« EdellinenJatka »
expectations, which many of my friends have entertained of me. Considering the work before me, I would set myself with peculiar diligence to maintain and increase the life of religion in my own soul, and a constant sense of the divine presence and love. For I find, when this is maintained, nothing gives me any considerable disquiet, and I have vigour and resolution of spirit to carry me through my labours. When I am conscious of the want of this, and any inconsistency of behaviour towards the divine being, it throws a damp upon my vigour and resolution; yea upon all the other pleasures of life. In order to maintain this habitual delightful sense of God, I would frequently renew my dedication to him, in that covenant, on which all my hopes depend, and my resolutions for universal, zealous obedience. I will study redeeming love more, and habitually resign myself and all my concerns to the divine disposal. I am going to express and seal these resolutions at the Lord's table: And may this be the happy period, from which shall commence better days of religion and usefulness, than I have ever yet known!"
He now reviewed his plan of academical studies, with Dr. Watts's remarks, and corresponded with him upon the subject. He read every valuable book on the education of youth, which he could meet with, and made such extracts as he thought might be serviceable in carrying on his design. Besides which, I find he wrote many letters to ministers of different denominations, with whom he was acquainted, desiring their advice in this great undertaking; particularly the Reverend Dr. Samuel Wright, of London, who favoured him with his sentiments at large, especially on the subject of divinity lectures.* He thought it his wisdom to make trial first in a more private way, with two or three pupils, declining to receive others, that offered.
Accordingly, at Midsummer, 1729, he opened his academy. His first lecture to his pupils was of the religious kind; shewing the nature, reasonableness and advantages of acknowledging God in their studies. The next contained directions for their behaviour to him, to one another, to the family and all about them; with proper motives to excite their attention to them: Then he proceeded to common lectures.--The wise observers of providence will see the loving kindness of God to the church, in thus leading him into an office, which he discharged in so honourable and useful a manner. What hath been observed
* Mr. Clark communicated to him various transcripts from the lectures of Mr. Jones, who had been a tutor of distinguished ability and learning, at Tewksbury in Gloucestershire.-K.
likewise shews the great caution with which he undertook this charge, and the deep sense he had of its weight and importance; and for these reasons I have been so particular in relating the progress of this affair.
His Settlement at Northampton,
MR. DODDRIDGE had been employed as a tutor but a
few months, when providence directed him to a station of greater ministerial usefulness. The dissenting congregation at Castlehill, in Northampton, being vacant by the removal of their pastor, Mr. Tingey, to London, he preached occasionally to them, with other neighbouring ministers. His services were so acceptable to the people, that they invited and strongly urged him, to accept the pastoral charge of them. Some of his brethren, particularly Mr. Some, advised his continuance at Harborough; as he would, by his connection with Mr. Some, have more time to apply to his work as a tutor, than if he had the sole care of a large congregation; and there was another minister, who, they thought, would supply the vacancy at Northampton, though not equally to the satisfaction of the congregation. I find, in his papers, the arguments for and against his settlement there, stated at large, and his own thoughts upon them; which shew with how much caution he proceeded in this affair. The arguments urged by his friends abovementioned and their opinion, had so much weight with him, that he resolved to continue at Harborough. But the supreme disposer determined otherwise. Mr. Some, in pursuance of his view of the case, went to Northampton to persuade the people to wave their application. But instead of this, when he saw their affection and zeal in the affair, and heard the motives on which they acted, and the circumstances in which they were, he was, as he expressed it, like Saul among the prophets, and immediately wrote to Mr. Doddridge to press his acceptance of the invitation. Dr. Clark strongly urged him to it. He was nevertheless, on many accounts, averse to it; but was willing to shew so much respect to that congregation, as to give them his reasons for declining it in person.-As this was his last settlement in life, his own account of the manner in which he was conducted to it, will, I hope, be agreeable and instructive; parti
cularly to his friends. While I was pleasing myself with the view of a continuance at Harborough, I little thought how few days would lead me to a determination to remove from it. But providence had its own secret designs, at that time invisible to me. I went to Northampton the last Lord's day in November, 1729, to take leave of my good friends there, as gently as I could; and preached a sermon, to dispose them to submit to the will of God, in events which might be most contrary to their views and inclinations, from Acts xxi. 14. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done. On the morning of that day an incident happened, which affected me greatly. Having been much urged on Saturday evening, and much impressed with the tender intreaties of my friends, I had, in my secret devotion, been spreading the affair before God, though as a thing almost determined in the negative; appealing to him, that my chief reason for declining the call, was the apprehension of engaging in more business, than I was capable of performing, considering my age, the largeness of the congregation, and that I had no prospect of an assistant. As soon as ever this address was ended, I passed through a room of the house in which I lodged, where a child was reading to his mother, and the only words I heard distinctly were these, and as thy days, so shall thy strength be. Though these words were strongly impressed upon my mind, and remained there with great force and sweetness, yet I persisted in my refusal. But that very evening, happening to be in company with one of the deacons of that congregation, he engaged me to promise to preach his father's funeral sermon, from a particular text, on timely notice of his death; which it was imagined would be in a few weeks. It pleased God to remove him that night, which kept me there till Wednesday. Going in the interval to some houses, where I had been a stranger, and receiving visits from persons of the congregation, whom I had not so much as beard of, I was convinced, beyond all doubt, of the earnest desire of my friends there to have me settled among them. I saw those appearances of a serious spirit, which were very affecting to me. Several attended the funeral, who were not stated hearers there, and expressed much satisfaction in my labours. Before I went away, the young persons came to me in a body, earnestly entreated my coming among them and promised to submit to all such methods of instruction, as I should think proper." This last circumstance he acknowledgeth, in his dedication of his Sermons to young people, was the consideration, which turned the scales for his going to Northampton, after they had long
hovered in uncertainty. "Upon the whole, I was persuaded it was my duty to accept the invitation. It was indeed with great reluctance; as I had gone contrary to the advice of some friends, for whom I had a high regard, and it was breaking my very agreeable connections at Harborough. Ithought there was a prospect of doing good at Northampton, equal to what I could ever hope to have as a minister; and was much afraid, if I declined the invitation, the congregation would be greatly injured. There were some steps in the leadings of providence, which seemed to me exceedingly remarkable; and though some of my friends have much blamed and discouraged me, I could not refuse, without offering the most apparent injury to my own conscience." Some of his friends here referred to, quickly saw reason to approve his conduct, and adore the wisdom of providence in disposing him to settle there.
December 24, 1729. He removed to Northampton; and about three weeks after entered upon house-keeping. Being desirous to begin his new relation, as a head of a family, with God, he engaged several of his friends to spend an evening in prayer with him, for the presence and blessing of God in his new habitation. On that occasion he expounded Psalm ci, and testified before God and them what were his purposes and resolutions as to family-government. Upon examining into the state of his own mind, he soon found that religion had been declining in it, through his anxiety about this new settlement, his concern to leave his Harborough friends, and the hurries attending his removal and furnishing his house. As soon, therefore, as he was fixed in it, he set himself to revive religion in his heart; and, among other methods, he determined to set apart one whole day for fasting, humiliation and prayer, to animate his own soul, and engage the divine blessing on his family, studies and labours. It may not be unprofitable to insert the scheme he pursued on such days, in his own words. "The Saturday, immediately preceding the Lord's day, on which the Lord's supper is to be administered, I propose to spend as a day of extraordinary devotion. I will endeavour to have dispatched all my business, and whatever is necessary to my preparation for such a day, on Friday-night; particularly I will look over my diary and other memorandums, which may be of use to me in the fast itself. I will rise early; endeavour, while rising, to fix upon my mind a sense of God and my own unworthiness, and will then solemnly address myself to God for his assistance in all the particular services of the day, of which I will form a more particular plan than this. I will then read, and afterwards.
expound in the family, some portion of scripture, peculiarly suitable to such an occasion, and will make a collection of such lessons. After family worship I will retire and pray over the portion of scripture I have been explaining. I will then set myself, as seriously as I can, to revive the memory of my past conduct; especially since the last season of this kind. I will put such questions as these to myself,--What care have I taken in the exercises of devotion? What regard have I maintained to God in the intervals of it? What diligence have I used in regarding providence and redeeming time? What command have I exercised over my appetites and passions? What concern have I had to discharge relative duties? How have I relished the peculiar doctrines of the gospel? And upon the whole, how am I advancing in my journey to a better world ?—I will then record my sins with their peculiar aggravations, that I may humble myself before God for them; and my mercies, with the circumstances that set them off, that I may return fervent thanks for them. Having made a catalogue of hints upon both these subjects, I will spend some time in meditation upon them; and having read some Psalms or Hymns, which speak the language of godly sorrow, I will go into the presence of God, particularly confessing my sins and the demerit of them, solemnly renouncing them, and renewing my covenant against them. I will then consider, what methods are proper to be taken, that I may avoid them for the future. A devotional lecture to my pupils will be an important part of the work of this day. I will after that spend some time in prayer for them, my family and people. The remainder of my work shall be praise, with which I think I ought to conclude even days of humiliation; though sometimes a larger or smaller space of time shall be allotted to this work, as peculiar circumstances require. After a little refreshment, I will converse with some of my pupils privately about inward religion; which I may do with some peculiar advantage, after having been lecturing to them on such a subject, and so particularly praying for them. I would spend the evening in grave conversation with some pious friends, with whom I can use great freedom as to the state of their souls: And at night review the whole, and conclude the day with some religious exercises, suited to the work in which I have been engaged, and the frame of my own soul; and will keep an account of what passeth at these seasons. My God, assist me in this important duty. Make it so comfortable and useful to me, that I may have reason to praise thee, that my thoughts were directed, and my resolutions determined to it." With