Philip Doddridge (1702–1751) was born in London, England. His parents taught him religion from a very early age, but they died in his youth. He attended a private school at St. Albans. He became a member of a non-conformist congregation at St. Albans pastored by Rev. Samuel Clark. Samuel Clark offered to take him under his care to study for the ministry. He finished his studies in 1722 and obtained a license to preach. His first pastorate was at Kibworth succeeding Dr. Jennings. In 1725, he moved to Market Harborough and in 1729 became the assistant pastor to Rev. Stone in Market Harborough. He then accepted an invitation to pastor at Northampton in the winter of 1729.
Philip Doddridge Booklist:
Christ's Gracious Invitation to Thirsty Souls
Evidences of Christianity
Evil and Danger of Neglecting Men's Souls (The)
Family Expositor (The)
Lectures on Pneumatology, Ethics and Divinity
Lectures on Preaching, and the Several Branches of the Ministerial Office
Life and Character of the Rev. Thomas Steffe
Memoirs of Colonel Gardiner
Practical Discourses on Regeneration
Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul (The)
Scripture Doctrine of Salvation by Grace (Two sermons)
Sermons to Young Persons
Submission to Divine Providence in the Death of Children
Ten Sermons on the Power and Grace of Christ, and on the Evidences of his Glorious Gospel
Extended Biography of Philip Doddridge
PHILIP DODDRIDGE, D.D. This eminent Divine was the son of Daniel Doddridge, an oilman in London, where he was born June the 26th, 1702. He was the twentieth and last child of his parents: The rest, except one daughter, died very young. He was brought up in the early knowledge of religion by his pious parents, but was first initiated in the elements of the learned languages under one Mr. Stott, a minister, who taught a private school in London. In the year 1712, he was removed to Kingston upon Thames. About the time of his father's death, which happened in the year 1715, he was removed to a private school at St. Albans, under the care of a worthy and learned master, Mr. Nathaniel Wood. Here he happily commenced an acquaintance with Dr. Samuel Clark, minister of the dissenting congregation there, who became not only the instructor of his youth in the principles of religion, but his guardian when a helpless orphan, and a generous and faithful friend in all his advancing years; for, by his own and his friends’ contribution, he furnished him with means to pursue his studies. The Duchess of Bedford, being informed of his circumstances, character, and strong inclination to learning, by his uncle Philip Doddridge, then steward to that noble family, made him an offer, that, if he chose to be educated for the ministry of the church of England, and would go to either of its universities, she would support the expense of his education; and, if she should live till he had taken orders, would provide for him in the church. This proposal he received with the warmest gratitude, but in the most respectful manner declined it; as he could not then satisfy his conscience to comply with the terms of ministerial conformity. Yet he continued for some time in great distress from an apprehension, that he should not be able to prosecute his studies for the ministry: And Dr. Edmund Calamy, whom he consulted, increased his affliction by advising him to turn his thoughts to some other profession. Accordingly, he actually was engaging himself in the study of the law, when his friend, Dr. Clark, hearing of his difficulties, generously offered to remove them.
In October 1719, he was placed under the tuition of the Reverend Mr. John Jennings, who kept an academy at Kibworth in Leicestershire, a gentleman of great learning and piety; and, during the course of his studies at this place, he was noted for his diligent application to his proper business, serious spirit, and extraordinary care to improve his talents. He was first settled as a minister at Kibworth, where he preached to a small congregation in an obscure village, and where he had much time to apply himself to study, which he did with indefatigable industry. On Mr. Jennings’s death, he succeeded to the care of his academy, and soon after was called to the care of a large dissenting congregation, whither he carried his academy; and the number of his pupils increased. Here and at Market Harborough just by, and lastly at Northampton, he spent his life, in his closet, in his academy, and in his congregation. He died at Lisbon, where he went for the recovery of his health, on the 26th of October 1751, in the fiftieth year of his age: And his remains were interred in the burying-ground belonging to the British factory there. A handsome monument was erected to his memory in his meeting place at Northampton, at the expense of the congregation. As to his person, he was rather above the middle stature, extremely thin and slender: He had a very remarkable sprightliness and vivacity in his countenance and manner, which commanded attention both in private and in the pulpit. He left one son and three daughters behind him, as well as an excellent and affectionate wife their mother, who accompanied him to Lisbon. It was very much to the honor of a minister of the established church, that the Doctor was enabled to make this voyage in point of expense: And it would be very much to the comfort as well as credit both of churchmen and dissenters, if they entertained the same catholic regard which the Doctor had to good men of all persuasions.
Mr. Job Orton, who has drawn up an excellent account of his life at large, relates many very edifying passages concerning the Doctor's studies, engagements, and conduct, which cannot fail of giving satisfaction for every pious reader. Speaking of him, in his ministerial office, Mr. Orton says, “That the vital truths of the gospel, and its duties, as enforced by them, were his favorite topics. He considered himself as a minister of the gospel, and therefore, could not satisfy himself without preaching Christ and him crucified. He never puzzled his hearers with dry criticisms and abstruse disquisitions; nor contented himself with moral essays and philosophical harangues, with which the bulk, of his auditory would have been unaffected and unedified. He thought it cruelty to God's children to give them stones, when they came for bread. ‘It is my desire, saith he, not to entertain an auditory with pretty lively things, which is comparatively easy, but to come close to their consciences, to awaken them to a real sense of their spiritual concerns, to bring them to God, and keep them continually near to him; which, to me at least, is an exceeding hard thing.” He seldom meddled with controversial points in the pulpit; never with those, with which he might reasonably suppose his congregation was unacquainted; nor. set himself to confute errors, with which they were in no danger of being infected. When his subject naturally led him to mention some writers, from whom he differed, he spoke of them and their works with candor and tenderness; appealing constantly to the Scriptures, as the standard by which all doctrines are to be tried. He shewed his hearers of how little importance most of the differences between Protestants are, and chose rather to be a healer of breaches than to widen them. He always spoke with abhorrence of passionately inveighing against our brethren in the pulpit, and making Christian ordinances the vehicle of malignant passions. He thought this equally affronting to God and pernicious to men; poisoning instead of feeding the sheep of Christ?
Viewing his conduct as a tutor, we are told, that one of the first things he expected of his pupils, was to learn Rich’s short hand, which he wrote himself, and in which his lectures were written; that they might transcribe them, make extracts from the books they read and consulted, with ease and speed, and save themselves many hours in their future compositions. Care was taken in the first year of their course, that they should retain and improve that knowledge of Greek and Latin which they had acquired at school, and gain such knowledge of Hebrew, if they had not learnt it before, that they might be able to read the Old Testament; a care very important and necessary to this end. Besides the course of lectures in a morning, classical lectures were read every evening, generally rally by his assistant, but sometimes by himself. If any of his pupils were deficient in their knowledge of Greek, the seniors, who were best skilled in it, were appointed to instruct them at other times. Those of them who chose it, were also taught French. Systems of logic, rhetoric, geography, and metaphysics, were read during the first year of their course, and they were referred to particular passages in other authors upon these subjects, which illustrated the points on which the lectures had turned. To these were added lectures on the principles of geometry and algebra. After these studies were finished, they were introduced to the knowledge of trigonometry, conic sections, and celestial mechanics. A system of natural and experimental philosophy, comprehending mechanics, statics, hydrostatics, pneumatics, and astronomy, was read to them, with references to the best authors on these subjects. This system was illustrated by a neat and pretty large philosophical apparatus, part of which was the gift of some of his friends, and the remainder purchased by a small contribution from each of the students, at his entrance on that branch of science. Some other articles were touched upon, especially history, natural and civil; as the students proceeded in their course, in order to enlarge their. understandings, and give them venerable ideas of the works and providence of God. A distinct view of the human body was given them, as it tended to promote their veneration and love for the great Architect of this amazing frame, whose wonders of providential influence also are so apparent in its support, nourishment, and motion; and all concurred to render them agreeable and useful in conversation, and to subserve their honorable appearance in the ministry.
A large system of Jewish antiquities, which their tutor had drawn up, was read to them in the later years of their course, in order to illustrate numberless passages in the Scriptures, which cannot be well understood without a knowledge of them: They were also referred to the best writers upon the subject. But the chief object of their attention and study, during three years of their course, was his system of divinity in the largest extent of the word, including what is most material in pneumatology and ethics. In this compendium were contained, in as few words as perspicuity would admit, the most material things which had occurred to the author's observation, relating to the nature and properties of the human mind, the proof of the existence and attributes of God, the nature of moral virtue, virtue, the various branches of it, the means subservient to it, and the sanctions by which its precepts, considered as God's natural law, are enforced: Under which head, the natural evidence of the immortality of the soul was largely examined. To this was added some survey of what is, and generally has been, the state of virtue in the world. From whence the transition was easy to the need of a revelation, the encouragement to hope for it, and the nature of the evidence which might probably attend it. From hence the work naturally proceeded to the evidence produced in proof of that revelation which the Scriptures contain. The genuineness, credibility, and inspiration of these sacred books, were then cleared up at large, and vindicated from the most considerable objections which infidels have urged.
When these foundations were laid, the chief doctrines of Scripture were drawn out into a large detail; those relating to the Father, Son, and Spirit; to the original and fallen state of man; to the scheme of our redemption by Christ, and the offices of the Spirit, as the great agent in the Redeemer's kingdom. The nature of the covenant of grace was particularly stated; and the several precepts and institutions of the gospel, with the views which it gives us of the concluding scenes of our world, and of the eternal state beyond it. What seemed most evident on these heads, was thrown into the propositions, some of which were problematical; and the chief controversies relating to each were thrown into the scholia, and all illustrated by a very large collection of references; containing, perhaps, one lecture with another, the substance of forty or fifty octavo pages, in which the sentiments and reasonings of the most considerable authors, on all these heads, might be seen in their own words. It was the business of the students to read and contract these references, in the intervals between the lectures, of which only three were given in a week, and sometimes but two. This was the Author's capital work as a tutor; he had spent much labor upon it, and was continually enriching it with his remarks on any new productions upon the several subjects handled in it. This system his pupils transcribed: It is now published, and the world will judge of its value and suitableness to answer the end proposed. Critical lectures on the New Testament were weekly delivered, which the students were permitted and encouraged to transcribe, to lead them to the better knowledge of the divine oracles. These contained his remarks on the language, meaning, and design of the sacred writers, and the interpretations and criticisms of the most consider considerable commentators. Many of these he has inserted in the “Family Expositor.” In the last year of the course, a set of lectures on preaching and the pastoral care was given: These contained general directions concerning the method to be taken to furnish them for the work of preaching, the characters of the best practical writers and commentators upon the Bible, many particular rules for the composition of sermons, their proper style, the choice and arrangement of thoughts, and the delivery of them; directions relating to public prayer, exposition, catechizing, the administration of the sacraments, and pastoral visits: To these were added many general maxims for their conversation and conduct as ministers, and a variety of prudential rules for their behavior in particular circumstances and connections, in which they might be placed. While the students were pursuing these important studies, some lectures were given them on civil law; the hieroglyphics and mythology of the ancients; the English history, particularly the history of nonconformity, and the principles on which a separation from the church of England is founded. The tutor principally insisted upon those laid down by Dr. Calamy, in his introduction to the second volume of his defense of moderate nonconformity.
One day in every week was set apart for public exercises; at these times the translations and orations of the junior students were read and examined; those who had entered on the studies of pneumatology and ethics, produced, in their turns, theses on the several subjects assigned them, which were mutually opposed and defended. Those who had finished ethics, delivered homilies (as they were called, to distinguish them from sermons) on the natural and moral perfections of God, and the several branches of moral virtue; while the senior students brought analyses of Scripture, the schemes of sermons, and afterwards the sermons themselves, which they submitted to the examination and correction of their tutor. In this part of his work he was very exact, careful, and friendly, esteeming his remarks on their compositions more useful to young preachers, than any general rules of composition which could be offered them by those who were themselves most eminent in the profession. In this view he furnished them with subordinate thoughts, and proper scriptures for proof or illustration, retrenching what was superfluous, and adding what was wanting. It was his care, through the whole course of their studies, that his pupils might have such a variety of lectures, weekly, as might engage their minds without distracting them. While they were attending and studying lectures of the greatest importance, some of less importance, though useful in themselves, were given in the intervals: these had generally some connection with the former; and all were adapted to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. He contrived that they should have as much to read between each lecture as might keep them well employed, allowing due time for necessary relaxations, and the reading practical writers: he recommended it to them, and strongly insisted upon it, that they should converse with some of these daily, especially on the Lord's Day, in order to subserve, at once, the improvement of the Christian and the minister: And he frequently reminded them, that it argued a great defect of understanding, as well as of real piety, if they were negligent herein. He often examined what books they read, besides those to which they were referred in their lectures, and directed them to those which were best suited to their age, capacities, and intended profession; and in this respect they enjoyed a great privilege, as they had the use of a large and valuable library, consisting of several thousands of volumes: many of them the Doctor had purchased himself, others were the donations of his friends, or their several authors; and each student, at his admission, contributed a small sum towards enlarging the collection; the student's name was inserted in the book or books purchased with his contribution, and it was considered as his gift.
To this library the students had access at all times, under some prudent regulations as to the time of keeping the books. The tutor was sensible, that a well-furnished library would be a snare rather than a benefit to a student, except he had the advice of a more experienced friend in the choice of those he should read: as he might throw away his time on those which were of little importance, or anticipate the perusal of others which might more properly be reserved to some future time. To prevent this, he sometimes gave his pupils lectures on the books in the library, going over the several shelves in order, informing them of the character of each book and its author, if known; at what period of their course, and with what special views particular books should be read, and which of them it was desirable they should be most familiarly acquainted and furnished with, when they settled in the world. His pupils took hints of these lectures, which at once displayed the extent of his reading and knowledge, and were in many respects very useful to them. The Doctor's manner of lecturing was well adapted to engage the attention and love of his pupils, and promote their diligent study of the lectures. When the class assembled, he examined them in the last lecture, whether they under stood his reasoning; what the authors referred to said on the subject; whether he had given them a just view of their sentiments, arguments, and objections; or omitting any that were important. He expected from them an account of the reasoning, demonstrations, Scriptures or facts, contained in the lecture and references.
He allowed and encouraged them to propose any objections which might arise in their own minds, or which they met with in the authors referred to, of which they did not think there was a sufficient solution in the lecture; or to mention any texts that were misapplied, or from which particular consequences might not be fairly drawn, and to propose others, which either confirmed or contradicted what he had advanced; and, if at any time their objections were petulant or impertinent, he patiently heard, and mildly answered them. He was solicitous that they should thoroughly understand his lectures, and what he said for the illustration of them: If he observed any of them inattentive, or thought the}' did not sufficiently understand what he was saying, he would ask them what he had said, that he might keep up their attention, and know whether he expressed himself clearly; he put on no magisterial airs, never intimidated nor discouraged them, but always addressed them with the freedom and tenderness of a father : He never expected nor desired that they should blindly follow his sentiments, but permitted and encouraged them to judge for themselves. To assist them herein, he laid before them what he apprehended to be the truth, with all perspicuity, and impartially stated all objections to it; he never concealed the difficulties which affected any question, but referred them to writers on both sides, without hiding any from their inspection. He frequently and warmly urged them not to take their system of divinity from any man, or body of men, but from the word of God. The Bible was always referred and appealed to upon every point in question, to which it could be supposed to give any light. Considering him as an author, in which character he is in much reputation; he was not fond of controversy, and was determined, if he could possibly avoid it, never to engage in any of those disputes which have been, and still are, agitated among protestants. He had often seen and lamented this as the event of many a voluminous controversy, that men, of contrary parties, sat down more attached to their own opinions than they were at the beginning, and much more estranged in their affections: He left, therefore, this work to others.
The first piece he published (except some papers in the “Present State of the Republic of Letters”) can scarcely be called controversial, though it was an answer to another. This was entitled, “Free Thoughts on the most probable Means of reviving the Dissenting Interest: Occasioned by the late Inquiry into the Causes of its Decay: Addressed to the author of that Inquiry, 1730.” He treats the author with great civility, and, instead of criticizing upon his performance, offers some remarks which may be of general use; and they deserve the regard of all ministers. He points out the principal reasons why many learned and good men are so unpopular and unsuccessful; and hath shewn great knowledge of human nature, and what careful observations he hath made on the dispositions of mankind. This tract is little known, especially by the ministers of the established church; but at its first publication it met with a favorable reception among persons of different parties and sentiments; and it deserves to be read as a model of a candid, polite manner of remarking upon another author's writings and opinions. The only proper controversy that he was ever engaged in, was with the author of a treatise, entitled, “Christianity not founded on Argument,” etc. published in the year 1742, to whom he wrote Three Letters, which were published soon after one another, in 1743. The author of this treatise, under the form of a most orthodox and zealous Christian, pretends to cry up the immediate testimony of the Spirit, and asserts its absolute necessity in order to the belief of the gospel, while at the same time he endeavors to expose all kind of rational evidence by which it could be supported, and advances several very cunning insinuations against the truth of it, in the most pernicious view. Dr. Doddridge, therefore, chose to publish some remarks upon it, not only to defend Christianity in general, but to explain and support some important truths of it, particularly the agency of the divine Spirit, which some had denied, because others had misrepresented. He thought this treatise affected the foundation of' natural as well as revealed religion, and that the ludicrous turns given to Scriptures in it, and the air of burlesque and irony which runs through it, were very unbecoming a wise and benevolent man, or the infinite moment of the question in debate.
In 1747, he published some remarkable passages in the life of Colonel James Gardiner, who was slain by the rebels at the battle of Prestonpans, September 21, 1745. He designed by this work, not merely to perform a tribute of gratitude to the memory of an invaluable friend, but of duty to God and his fellow-creatures, as he had a cheerful hope that the narrative would, under a divine blessing, be the means of spreading a warm and lively sense of religion. These were all the writings our author published, except his practical ones. The first practical piece he published was, “Sermons on the Education of Children, 1732.” This he intended principally for the use of his own congregation, to supply, in some measure, that want of more frequent personal instructions on the subject, which his care of his pupils necessarily occasioned. These discourses contain a variety of important advices and affecting motives in a little compass, and have been very useful to assist parents in this difficult work. His tender concern for the rising generation, shewed itself in his “Sermons to Young People,”' published in 1735; and in his “Principles of the Christian Religion,” in verse, for the use of children and youth, published in 1743. In this composition, which was drawn up by the desire of his friend Dr. Clark, he has happily united ease, plainness, and elegance. And here I may also mention his prefixing a " Recommendatory Preface'" to a small piece, entitled, “Familiar Dialogues for children,” written by a lady whose piety and abilities are equally transparent, which is well adapted to instruct them in their duty to God and man, at the same time that it agreeably entertains and amuses them. In 1736, he published “Ten Sermons on the power and grace of Christ, and the evidences of his glorious Gospel.” These three last, on the evidences of the gospel, were, in some later editions, by the particular desire of one of the first dignitaries of the church of England, printed so as to be had separate from the former. They contain a sufficient defense of Christianity, and are well adapted to the use of those whose office calls them to defend it. It gave the author singular pleasure to know that these sermons were the means of convincing two gentlemen of a liberal education and distinguished abilities, who had been deists, that Christianity was true and divine: And one of them who had set himself zealously to prejudice others against the evidences and contents of the gospel, became a zealous preacher, and an ornament of the religion he had once denied and despised. In 1741, the Doctor published some Practical Discourses on Regeneration. In 1745, he published another practical treatise, entitled, “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, illustrated in a course of serious and practical Addresses, suited to Persons of every Character and Circumstance; with a devout Meditation or Prayer added to each chapter.” Dr. Watts had projected such a work himself, but his growing infirmities prevented his execution of it. He recommended it, therefore, to Dr. Doddridge, imagining him the fittest person of his acquaintance to execute it in a manner that would be acceptable and Useful to the world. It was with some reluctance he undertook such a work, amidst his many other weighty concerns. But Dr. Watts' heart was so much set upon the design, and he urged his undertaking it with so much importunity, that he could not deny his request, after having been honored with his friendship for many years, and receiving much assistance and encouragement from him, in several of his undertakings for the good of the church. After this work was finished, Dr. Watts revised as much of it as his health would admit. It is, indeed, a body of practical divinity and Christian experience, and contains, as it were, the substance of all the author's preaching; and, considering how comprehensive it is, there is hardly any single treatise which may be more serviceable to young ministers and students.
Besides these, he published “Two Sermons on Salvation by Grace; several Single Sermons, some on particular occasions, and Charges delivered at the Ordination of some of his brethren.” There were circumstances relating to each, that led him to believe they might be useful to the public, especially to those who desired the publication, or to whom they were first addressed. “His plain and serious Address to the master of a family, on the important subject of Family Religion,” deserves particular notice, as it has passed through several editions, been very serviceable to ministers, who, by putting it into the hands of masters of prayerless famines, might excite them to their duty, without being exposed to those inconveniences which a personal admonition might, in some cases and with some tempers, be attended: And the author's reasoning is so plain and forcible, as to leave those inexcusable, who, after reading it, will continue in this shameful and pernicious neglect. Since his decease, his lesser pieces have been reprinted, in three small volumes: But his capital work was, “The Family Expositor,” containing a Version and Paraphrase of the New Testament, with Critical Notes, and a Practical Improvement of each Section, in six volumes, 4to. He had been preparing for this work from his entrance on the ministry, and kept it in view in the future course of his studies.
It has been already observed, that his works have been much read and esteemed in these kingdoms, and the colonies; I would add, that the most considerable of them have been translated into foreign languages, and published abroad. His sermons on regeneration, salvation by grace, on the power and grace of Christ, and his letter on family prayer, have been translated into Dutch: The memoirs of Colonel Gardiner, into the Dutch, French, and German languages: The Rise and Progress of Religion, into Dutch, German, Danish, and French. It is observable, that the translation of it into French was undertaken by the particular encouragement of the late Prince and Princess of Orange, and many of the gentry of Holland. A protestant prince of the empire wrote to the undertaker of it, promising to recommend it to those about him. Many persons of quality and rich citizens in Germany and Switzerland were subscribers to it. A pious minister of Wales translated it into the Welch language, that it might be read by those of his congregation who did not understand English; and it would have been printed, could sufficient encouragement have been procured. Some learned men undertook to translate the former volumes of the Family Expositor into German; but an opposition was made to its publication by some of the Lutheran Clergy, from an apprehension that his interpretation of particular passages, and his reflections upon them, might not agree with their established principles, or form of church government; therefore, the persons concerned in the translation, first published his sermons on regeneration in that language; and the moderation and candor, expressed in them, quieted the opposition, and the work was completed. These writings, thus translated and published, have been well received abroad, particularly in Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. Since the Author's death, a volume of his hymns hath been published, and his theological lectures, of which some account was given above. He intended, had God spared his life, to have published a new translation of the minor prophets, with a commentary on them, a sermon to children, some sacramental meditations, and a dissertation on the Jewish proselytes; defending that opinion concerning them, which he mentioned in some of his notes upon the Acts of the Apostles. In this last tract he had made considerable progress, but it is too imperfect to appear in the world. Besides his works above-mentioned, he published a short account of the life of Mr. Thomas Steffe, one of his pupils, prefixed to some of his sermons, which were printed by the earnest desire of the congregation where he was settled, and a dedication of an abridgement of Mr. David Brainerd's journal of his mission among the Indians of New-Jersey and Pennsylvania, to the honorable society for promoting Christian knowledge in the Highlands of Scotland, and in popish and infidel parts of the world, by which society Mr. Brainerd was employed in tin's work, and of which society our Author was one of the corresponding members. He also published a small piece of Mr. Some's, concerning inoculation of the small-pox, which was written and published principally to remove the common objection, from a religious scruple. In 1748 he revised the expository works and other remains of the excellent Archbishop Leighton, and translated his Latin prelections, which were printed together in two volumes at Edinburgh. The Archbishop's Commentary upon the first Epistle of St. Peter hath since been reprinted, under the inspection of the Reverend Mr. Foster, at London.
Source: Middleton, Erasmus. Evangelical Biography, or an historical Account of the Lives and Deaths of the most eminent and evangelical authors and preachers, etc., Vol 4. London: W. Baynes, 1816.