[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
No XVII .
Rev. Sir, Hitchin, July 15, 1749
I pray you to permit me, an unworthy, but well-meaning fellow-labourer in the great vineyard of our common Lord, though an entire stranger to your person, to address you, with my sincerest acknowledgement of the pleasure and profit, which the produce of your head and heart has afforded me.
The satisfaction and comfort of hearing of the success of your excellent labours, even from those of much more consequence and distinction than myself, may, I think, be very consistent with that modesty and humility with which I am persuaded, you are eminently endued *. But, were you never so liable to vanity, you are in no danger of being tempted to it by the applause or approbation of so inconsiderable a bestower of it, as is the author of this epistle ; who is no more than a little country vicar, though the charge which has for many years been committed to him is, indeed, large and important.
The genuine piety which shines in every page of your writings, cannot fail to warm the heart of every reader, of what sort or denomination soever, who is not proof against all impression of any religion. And I think myself happy, in not being under the dominion of prejudices, too often found in people of far greater abilities than I can pretend to, against reading books published by such, as chance to differ from them in some points of doctrine, or modes of worship.
The first performance of yours, good Sir, that fell into my hands, I think was a small piece upon Education: wherein the affectionate manner with which you recommend the instilling early notions of Christianity into the minds of youth pleased me so much, as to induce me to place it in some families ; and, I hope, with good effect.
A neighbour of mine, of our order, has lately favoured me with the perusal of your Exposition, &c. for which I think myself much indebted to him; and that 'tis my duty to pay my tribute of thanks to the worthy author: On whose precious time, for the sake of the publick good, I shall not further trespass or intrude, than to desire the Titles of whatsoever Dr. Doddridge has published ; and, if it of too much for a stranger to ask, what he is about to publish and that he will do me the favour to transmit the same by the post, to be left for me at the Rose-Tree, in Bedford-street. Convent-Garden, London.
I am, with the deepest: sense of your signal services to religion, Sir, your much obliged, though to you unknown, reader,
P.S. Oct. 8. 1 have been, for some months, in suspense, whether I should take the freedom of giving you this trouble, or not; being apprehensive how liable you must be to interruptions of this sort. However, on concluding the third volume of your Exposition this morning, I came to resolution to make this trial of your candour, in the notice you shall vouchsafe to take of one so unworthy of your correspondence.
* How much these two good men thought alike upon this delicate subject, appears from Dr. Doddridge's own words. He deemed the love of popular applause a meanness, which a philosophy far inferior to that of our divine master might teach men to conquer : " But," adds he, " to be esteemed by eminently great and good men, to whom we are intimately known, is not only one of the more solid attestations of some real worth ; but, next to the approbation of. God, and our own consciences, one of its most valuable rewards.' See his Dedication to the Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul; p iv,.