[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
To Dr. DODDRIDGE,*
Rev. Sir, June 1750
The same reason that suspended my first address, which I had long since intended to have taken the liberty of making to you, has protracted also the acknowledgements due for your kind favour of the 12th of October, 1749; viz, my unwillingness to intrude upon your attention, .
which is always so much better engaged than it can be by any thing I have in my power to offer you ; not that I can wholly acquit myself of culpable neglect, when I consider your kind invitation and encouragement to write to you again. But, indeed, Sir, I can by no means allow myself to think that I am worthy of such a correspondent as Dr. Doddridge, even is he had more time to below upon me than he has. I have, it is true, the honour of being distinguished by a very high and important trust, in the care of a large flock ; which, not by any personal merit, or favour, but by lot, in the rotation of vacancies of the college livings, I was removed to, from my fellowship, about twenty years since; yet, how unequal to it, alas! when
I consider, I am afraid and ashamed to say. All my comfort is, that as, in general estimation, the temporal emolument is too disproportionate to the extent of the spiritual charge, a person of greater abilities would probably scarce have consented-I had like to have said submitted-to the undertaking.
I must beg leave to attribute your compliment, for such I must call your writing me " the ingenious," of which you never could have received any evidence,--to that habitually-courteous and civil manner of treating all mankind, for which I have, heard you a-re remarkable. It is enough for me, Sir, that I admire and relish your writings, as I sincerely do, for their genuine and judicious piety: at the same time, I am as ready as you to give the chief glory, where it is due ; to the great Author and Fountain of all that is wise and good. For though, when at every turn we praise the brightness, or rejoice in the genial warmth of the sun, we chance not, in so many words, as often to mention Him who made it what it is ; yet the connection, or implication, always accompanies the mind, that is used to contemplate the works of the ALMIGHTY.
As GOD has been pleased to, make you an instrument or' much good, all who are the better for you will, I dare say, never fail of being thankful to HIM Who has raised you up ; and I do, among many more, pray for the continuance of your life and health, so far a. is consistent with divine wisdom to prolong them : and then I think the rest will follow, that you will continue to do good, and be a most useful member of Christian Society.
I am heartily ashamed of, and beg pardon for the trouble I gave you, in desiring an account from you, of what you had published; which I might so readily have obtained from your bookseller . and what you had in design was, surely, a still more impertinent and inexcusable question, from a perfect stranger ! However, it has produced a further proof of your great and obliging condescension, for which I abundantly thank you.
I am not insensitive of the number of worthy and significant correspondents you must needs have, which still enhances the favour of your writing so long a letter to so obscure and little a man as I am ; who have no sort of title to any notice, from any part of the literary world.
In the great building of the church of Christ all the constituent materials are not fitted alike for pillars, or chief corner-stones ; nor are all, who are appointed to direct and oversee the work, equally qualified to be master-builders, or principal agents. But, as every one, according to his place and appointment, may be more or less proper and necessary ; so, I trust, by a diligent application of my moderate talents, though I be fit only to carry mortar for the head workmen, I may, in some respects, be usefully employed; and, through the abundant mercy and favour of the infinitely-gracious proprietor, receive my proportion of wages at the great day of reckoning 1
I am extremely obliged to you, dear Sir, to your ardent prayers for the success of my ministry. The large share of prudence and discretion, as well as of courage and piety, requisite for so important a trust and employment as I am engaged in, I scarcely ever think on but with aweful fear : But, insufficient as I am of myself, I know that the divine master, whose I am, and whom I serve, and who has hitherto wonderfully supported me under, and carried me through the burden and difficulties of my station, is ever able and willing to help and assist all, who are zealous to advance his kingdom and glory.
I must not forget to acknowledge the favour of your kind invitation to call on you, in case I should come your way. I shall think it a particular honour and satisfaction, once in nay life, to take Dr. Doddridge by the hand ; and should be glad to find myself so fortunate as to be in London when he is there ; which, I believe, will be the most likely and favourable opportunity for our meeting. I used heretofore to visit some friends at Coventry, and consequently to go through Northampton ; but the fatigue of long journies is more than. I am now equal to.
I hope you enjoy as good a frame and constitution of body, as you do of soul 2. I think you must needs possess the former, or you could never be able to exert and exercise the latter so copiously, and incessantly, as you do.
For my part, I am tender and weakly, and disqualified for much labour, either of body or mind : and although, GOD be thanked ! not hitherto subject to severe illness, or acute distempers, so as to be much interrupted in the discharge of my duty; yet, a few years since, I was unaccountably deprived of the use of my voice for six weeks ; which, by rest, and proper applications for a nervous weakness, to which the skilful of the profession attributed it, it pleased GOD to restore to me .gain. And, abating that interval, I do not remember that I have been incapacitated for performing publick duty above one Sunday in twenty years.
And now, good Sir, is it possible for your candour to be equal to such a degree of impertinence, as I am sensible I must appear to you to be guilty of, in saying so much of myself; especially when I had to much better a subject before me ; I mean, yourself, and your writings ?
It is now high time to release you; which, without farther apology, I shall do, by subscribing myself, worthy Sir,
Your greatly obliged Friend and Servant, MARK HILDESLEY.
P. S. Two lines only, certifying me of your forgiveness of the freedom I have taken with YOU, will probably find me at my lodgings, at the Wheat-Sheaf, in Bedford-street., Covent Garden, London, in the second week of next month, and will be extremely, agreeable. but suffer me not, I beseech you, to rob the publick of your precious time."
* The above is transcribed from a very valuable collection of "Letters to and from Dr. Doddridge," published by the Rev. Thomas Stedman, 8vo,1790. Printed by J. and W. Eddowes, Shrewsbury
1 Little did the worthy writer at this time conceive, in how few years his humility was to be exalted, his endowments fully called forth, and a numerous people blessed, through his inflrumentality, in the service of their best spiritual interests!
[quote in greek]
This sentence of Epictetus, Mr. Hooke, the Roman Historian, without thinking of it at the time, has pretty closely translated, in a letter to lord Oxford, dated Oct, 17, 1722, and inferred in Nichols's Anecdotes of Bowyer, P. 393" I have been taught, my lord, that neither a man's natural pride, nor his self-love, is an equal judge of what is fit for him: and I shall endeavour to remember, that it is not the short part we act, but the manner of our performance, which gains or loses us the applause of Him, who is finally to decide of all human actions.
2 * See JOHN, Ep. III. verse 2.
This very excellent man was born in London, June 26, 1702, and, as his numerous writings shew, lived much in a little time ; thinking it better to wear himself out in his Maker's service, than to rust in literary indolence. His learning, piety, and politeness, recommended him. to the esteem and friendship of several of high rank and distinguished learning, both among the clergy and laiety ; with whom he kept up a correspondence, expressing in strong terms the regard they had for his works, and the benefit they had found from them. The esteem of such persons, for one in his station, was an simple testimony to his great merit ; as nothing but his personal qualifications could recommend him to their notice. His spirit was truly catholick, and replete with liberality and candour. He always spoke in the most respectable terms of the worthy clergy of the established church : " My growing acquaintance," said he, "with many excellent persons, some of them of great eminence in the establishment, increases those candid, respectful sentiments of that body of Christians, which I had long entertained 3 .
The motto of his family arms was Dum vivimus,vivamus "while we live, let us live" :Under which he wrote the following lines, very expressive of his general temper ; and which, in the opinion of our celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson, form one of the finest epigrams in the English language 4
" Live, while you live," the Epicure would say,
" And seize the pleasures of the present day 5:"
" Live, while you live," the sacred Preacher cries;
" And give to GOD each moment, as it flies 6."
Lord ! in my views let both united be ;
I live in Pleasure, when I live to thee.
How he lived, we are well informed by his pious friend, Mr.Orton, who has admirably given the Memoirs of his life, charmer, and writings, in an octavo volume, pp. 36 r, sold by Buckland, 1766. They were abridged very soon after, by the editor of the present work, and are inserted in the " Christian's Magazine" for that year. " In confirmation," says his biographer, of what I have said of Dr. Doddridge's literary character, I shall here subjoin a latter from Dr. Watts to Mr. David Longueville, minister of the English Church at Amsterdam. Such an hononrable testimony to merit, from so distinguished a person as Dr. Watts, especially written, as it was, without the knowledge of his friend, may very properly have a place in this work." The editor of the present volume cordially joins in his idea.
" Rev. Sir,
It is a very agreeable employment to which you call me, and a very sensible honour you put upon me, when you desire me to give you my sentiments of that reverend and learned writer, Dr. Doddridge, to be prefixed to a translation of his works into the Dutch tongue. I have well known him many years, and have enjoyed a conflant intimacy and friendship with him, ever since the Providence of GOD called him to be a professor of human sciences, and a teacher of sacred theology to young men amongst us, who are trained up for the ministry of the Gospel. I have no need to give you a large account of his knowledge in the sciences, in which I confess him to be greatly my superior ; and as to the doctrines of divinity, and the Gospel of Christ, I know not any man of greater skill than himself, or hardly sufficient to be his second. As lie hash a most exact acquaintance with the things of GOD and our holy Religion, so far as we are let into the knowledge of them by the light of nature, and the revelations of Scripture, so he hath a most happy manner of teaching those who are younger. He hath a most skilful and condescending way of instruction ; nor is there any person of my acquaintance, with whom I am more entirely agreed in all the sentiments of the doctrine of Christ. He is a most hearty believer of the great articles and important principles of the reformed church ; a most affectionate preacher, and pathetic writer on the practical parts of religion : and, in one word, since I am now advanced in age, beyond my seventieth year, if there were any man, to whom Providence would permit me to commit a second part of my life and usefulness in the Church of Christ, Dr. Doddridge should be the man. If you have read that excellent performance of his, " The Rise and Progress, &c." you will be of my mind: his Dedication, to me, is the only thing in that book I could hardly permit myself to approve. Besides all this, he possesseth a spirit of so much charity, love, and goodness, towards his fellow Christians, who may fall into some lesser differences of opinion, as becometh a follower of the blessed Jesus, his master and mine. In the practical part of his labours and his ministry, he hath insufficiently shewn himself most happily furnished with all proper gifts and talents, to lead persons of all ranks and ages into serious piety and strict religion,
" I esteem it, Sir, a considerable honour whit" the Providence of Goes hath done me, when it makes use of me, as an instrument in his hands, to promote the usefulness of this great man, in, any part of the world: and it is my hearty prayer, that our Lord Jesus, the head of the church, may bless all his labours with most glorious success, either read or heard, in my native language, or in any other tongue. I am, Reverend Sir, with much sincerity, your faithful humble servant, and affectionate brother, in the Gospel of our common Lord,
Dr. Doddridge was very much of the gentleman; having imbibed none of that waspish moroseness and distance, which persons of great reading, and engaged in a hurry of business, are too apt unintentionally to contract. He had a natural gaiety and sprightliness of temper, especially in younger life *. There was nothing uncivil in his deportment ; nothing in his language harsh or over-bearing. He was easy of access to the poorest, when they came to him about their afflictive or their religious concerns ; and, as perhaps the strongest evidence of Christian suavity, he would leave his most favourite studies, to hear their complaints, to comfort, to counsel, and to pray with them `.
His uncommon diligence, activity, and resolution in the dispatch of business, formed the most striking part of his temporal character ; and must be visible to any one, who reads the preceding letter to Mr. Hildesley, or is at all acquainted with his writings, or considers his varied and arduous relations, as pastor to a numerous congregation, and an instructor of youth intended for the ministry. He reckoned the smallest portions of time precious, and was eager on all occasions to seize every moment of them. He thought with Erasmus on this head : Qui literis addicti fumus, animi lassitudinemi a,fludiis gravioribus contractam, ab iisdem studiis, sed amænioribus, recreamus ; and he often told his pupils, that one good work was the best relaxation from another.
Dr. Doddridge, in ifrom indispensable necessity, went to Lisbon by advice, for the recovery of his health. In December of the preceding year he was called to St. Alban's, to preach a funeral sermon for his late chief friend, and father, as, in the just spirit of gratitude, he always stilled him, Dr. Samuel Clark. In the course of his journey he unhappily contracted a cold, which hung upon him during the winter; abated in Spring, but returned again with great violence in the ensuing summer. Every advice was volunteered in such a cause, and every expedient tried, which personal friendship or professional skill could devise. His strength daily decreased ; and, as the last resource, he was removed, after some hesitation, to the warmer climate of Lisbon. The learned Dr. Warburton, afterwards bishop of Gloucester, had long honoured Dr. Doddridge with his warmest friendship, and was the person, who, in the most obliging manner, procured an order from the Post-Office to the manager of the Packet-boat at Falmouth, to furnish him with the best accommodations for his voyage.
About a fortnight before his departure from Bristol, he received from his lordship the following nervous and excellent letter ; the last of a very valuable correspondence, which reflects the highest honour on both parties.
Dear Sir, Prior-Park, Sept. 2, 1751. Your kind letter gave me, and will give Mr. Allen, great concern ; but for ourselves, not you. Death, whenever it happens, in a life spent like yours, is to be envied, not pitied; and you will have the prayers of your friends, as conquerors have the shouts of the crowd. GOD preserve you; is he continues you here, to go on in his service ; is he takes you to himself, to be crowned with glory ! Be assured, the memory of our friendship will be as durable as my life. I order an enquiry to be made of your health from time to time : but, is you fatigue yourself any more in writing, it will prevent me that satisfaction. I am, dear sir,
Your most affectionate friend, and brother, W. WARBURTON.
The experiment of a voyage was tried, but failed. Worn down by study, amidst the ardent prayers of his numerous friends, Dr. Doddridge obtained his release from mortality soon after his arrival in Lisbon, on the 26th of Oct. 1751, at the early age of forty-nine years and four months; about two years only from the date of his letter to Mr. Hildesley.
His remains were interred in the burying ground belonging to the British Factory at Lisbon. Most of of the gentlemen of the Factory attended his funeral, and thus did him and themselves equal honour on the melancholy occasion.
The widow of this most exemplary divine long survived him, and died but a few years since, at upwards of eighty years of age ; a lady of excellent character, worthy in every respect of so good a man. Their three daughters, the amiable transcripts of such parental goodness, are still living at Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire ; and, as inheriting the virtues of their progenitors, may they also inherit the many blessings which the pious pair so constantly invoked for their off-spring!
3 See his Life by the Rev. Job Orton, pp. 155. 188. ago.
4 Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, p. 334
5 1Cor. xv. 32.
6. Eccles. ix. 10.
7 See ORTON, P. 157.
8 This," as a truly respectable pen has remarked, on another occasion, " could not possibly be the eshe(3 of any thing, but that, which was indeed at the. bottom of it; a strong sense of duty." Dr. STICKER, the late abp. of' Canterbury, thus " thought himself bound to labour for the Glory of God and the good of mankind; and that all indolence and self-indulgence, which interfered with these great objects, was in force degree criminal. Whenever therefore he was engaged, as he was almost continually, in serving others, he never reckoned his own time or pains for any thing; nor did it seem so much as once to enter into his thoughts, that he ought to allow himself any amusement. Even the pleasures of polite Literature, which were highly grateful to him, he thought himself obliged to relinquish, for the peculiar-studies of his prof, and these, again, for