Philip Doddridge

Philip Doddridge

Philip Doddridge (June 26, 1702 - October 26, 1751) was an English Nonconformist leader and hymnwriter.

Early life

Philip Doddridge was born in London. His father, Daniel Doddridge, was a merchant, and his mother, considered to have been the greater influence on him, the orphan daughter of the Rev. John Bauman, a Lutheran clergyman who had fled from Prague to escape religious persecution. In England, Rev. John Bowerman had held for some time the mastership of the grammar school at Kingston upon Thames. Before Philip could read, his mother began to teach him the history of the Old and New Testament from blue Dutch chimney-tiles.

In his youth, Philip Doddridge was educated first at a small school in London, and then, in 1712, at the grammar school at Kingston-upon-Thames where his grandfather had worked. In about 1715 he was moved to another private school at St Albans where he was much influenced by the Presbyterian minister, Samuel Clarke (not to be confused with Anglican clergyman and philosopher of the same name).

Contribution to Religious Life

With independent religious leanings, Philip Doddridge declined offers which would have led him into the Anglican ministry, or the bar; and in 1719 chose instead to enter the liberal academy for Nonconformists or Dissenters at Kibworth in Leicestershire. Here he was taught by the Rev. John Jennings, whom Doddridge briefly succeeded in 1723.

Later that year, at a general meeting of Nonconformist ministers, Philip Doddridge was chosen to conduct the academy being newly established at Market Harborough. In the same year, he received an invitation to be pastor to an independent congregation at Northampton, which he also accepted. Here his popularity as a preacher is said to have been chiefly due to his "high susceptibility, joined with physical advantages and perfect sincerity." His sermons were mostly practical in character, and his aim was to cultivate in his hearers a spiritual and devotional frame of mind.

Throughout the 1730s and 1740s Philip Doddridge continued his academic and pastoral work, and developed close relations with numerous early religious revivalists and independents, through extensive visits and correspondence. Through this approach he helped establish and maintain a circle of influential independent religious thinkers and writers, including Dr Isaac Watts. He also became a prolific author and hymn-writer. In 1736 both the universities at Aberdeen gave him the degree of D.D. However, these multifarious labours, led to so many engagements and bulky correspondence, that it interfered seriously both with his preaching and academic duties (he had some 200 students to whom he lectured on philosophy and theology, in the mathematical or Spinozistic style).

Death and legacy

In 1751 Philip Doddridge's health, which had never been good, broke down, and he sailed for Lisbon on September 30 of that year; but the change was unavailing, and he died there.

Philip Doddridge worked towards a united Nonconformist body that would have wide appeal, retaining highly cultured elements without alienating those less educated.

His best known work, "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul" (1745), dedicated to Isaac Watts, was often reprinted and became widely influential. It is said to best illustrate his religious genius, and has been widely translated. His other well-known works include: "The Family Expositor" (6 vols., 1739-1756); "Life of Colonel Gardiner" (1747); and a "Course of Lectures on Pneumatology, Ethics and Divinity" (1763). Doddridge also published several courses of sermons on particular topics.

Many of his hymns, such as "O God of Bethel, by whose hand", continue to be used to this day across the English-speaking world.

Doddridge's academy is now represented by New College, Hampstead, in the library of which there is a large collection of his manuscripts. (Note: New College, Hampstead was later known as New College London, and was a centre for training Congregational and then United Reformed Church Ministers. It has no connection with Royal Holloway, University of London, a constituent college of the University of London, though the college was briefly known as "Royal Holloway and Bedford New College" when those two colleges merged in the 1970s.)

ee also

*English Dissenter
*Independent (religion)
*Congregational church
* "Memoirs", by Rev. Job Orton (1766)
* "Letters to and from Dr Doddridge", by Rev. Thomas Stedman (1790)
* "Correspondence and Diary", in 5 vols., by his grandson, John Doddridge Humphreys (1829)
* Stanford's "Philip Doddridge" (1880)

External links

* [ Works by Philip Doddridge at Christian Classics Ethereal Library]
* [ Hymns by Philip Doddridge]
* [ Biography of Philip Doddridge by Thomas Coleman]



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  • Doddridge, Philip — (1702 1751)    Nonconformist divine and writer of religious books and hymns, b. in London, and ed. for the ministry at a theological institution at Kibworth, became minister first at Market Harborough, and afterwards at Northampton, where he also …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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