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party, was anathematised as an Arminian. Dr. Watts, in common with many others, made a stand against the spread. ing heresy: the necessity of repentance as the duty of the sinner, and the pursuit of holiness as incumbent upon the believer, were prominently preached; and the farourite dogmas of the supra-lapsarians, which they would have fain believed were integral branches of Calvinism, were indignantly disclaimed as parasitical plants. The correspondence of Dr. Doddridge presents us with some curious notices relative to this subject: writing from London he observes, “I had several orthodox spies to hear me this morning, and they observed with great amazement, that I urged my hearers to endeavour to get an interest in Christ. This it seems is Arminianism.” Dr. Jennings queries in the following manner about his suitableness for Nottingham, to which place he had been invited :-“Whether Dr. Doddridge or an angel was to preach moderate Calvinism, those who are disposed to send to Taunton for a minister would not despise him? This I have observed in London amongst persons of pretty much the same taste (as I imagine) with a party at Nottingham: since even Dr. Watts has openly opposed the modern fashionable scheme, he is spoken of with great contempt, and his genius is said to be quite sunk.” The Rev. Hugh Farmer writes of Mr. Coward:—“He begins to think Dr. Watts a Baxterian, and is almost come to an open rupture with him.” These notices bring to remembrance the orthodos lady, whose zealous exclamation Dr. Calamy records : “What Mr. Sprint! old Mr. Sprint! Alas, he is a Baxterian! he is a middle-way man! he is an occasional conformist! he is neither fish nor flesh!" Where a fondness for the dangerous doctrine obtained, that the moral law is not obligatory upon the Christian, that the glory of the present dispensation consists in his being unshackled by the precepts of its founder, practical religion gradually disappeared, and was succeeded
by pride, censoriousness, and conduct inimical to the power and purity of the gospel.
Mr. Williams of Kidderminster, trembling for the ark of God, wrote a pamphlet upon the divisions that occurred in the churches, traced the spirit of dissension to its origin, and endeavoured by a pious and pointed remonstrance to arrest the tide of discord, and still the tumult it occasioned. This was placed in the hands of Dr. Watts for revision, and published in 1740, entitled “The Principal Causes of some late divisions in Dissenting Churches traced to their origin, in a Letter from a Dissenter in the Country.” From men of corrupt minds, disposed to convert the liberty of the gospel into an act of indemnity for depraved indulgence, it is cheering to turn to contemplate such a character as that of Joseph Williams - a man who eminently “walked with God," benefitting the church by his ardent devotion, and commanding the respect of the world by his stern integrity. Mourning over the fall of some of his brethren, and the declension of others, he hailed with holy joy the introduction of the Methodists into his native town; and justly does Wesley say of him in his journal, “I know not of what denomination he is, nor is it material, for he has the mind which was in Christ.” The “Questions proper for Students in Divinity," were drawn up by Dr. Watts about this time, and printed at the request of Dr. Doddridge for the use of his pupils. His connexion with the academy of his friend as one of its earliest promoters, and as a trustee with Mr. Coward's benefaction for the education of ministerial candidates, produced this catalogue of useful and solemn inquiries. They are addressed to the conscience, to discover whether the springs of action are legitimate or improper; whether the motives are evangelical or impure; and whether the desire to enter so responsible an office, originates in a thirst for distinction, a fondness for publicity, a wish to display, or proceeds from a sincere love to Christ and an ardent love for souls. The
questions also take cognizance of the student's improvement in spiritual attainment and theological knowledge, the economical expenditure of time, the outward deportment becoming a station so sacred and so exposed to public view, and the daily growth of the mind in the virtues of the Christian, the acquirements of the scholar, and the diligence becoming a messenger of mercy, “the legate of the skies.” Every study in our academies should be furnished with a copy of these interrogatives; they should lie upon the desk of every minister, to be proposed in the hour of silence and solitude, when duty summons the awakened spirit to the tribunal of an invisible judge, and the trial of self with all its feelings, motives, and designs is commenced.
It is observed by Mr. Roffey in a letter to Doddridge, dated June 15, 1740,“ Dear Dr. Watts is but indifferent, and I am afraid that his usefulness will be less and less. So burning and shining a light in the sanctuary, though not extinguished, yet grown dim, calls for deep humiliation." But though “in age and feebleness extreme," the production of the following year showed that his mental vigour was unimpaired; and that he who had been so long the light and honour of the dissenting churches, had neither exhausted the resources of his intellect, nor were its gifts diminished in their value. The “Improvement of the Mind” was published in 1741, a work to which the youth of England are under lasting obligations, and which ranks among the most useful in its literature. The germ of this work is in the treatise on Logic, at the close of which he hints the necessity of another volume applying the rules and practically developing the maxims he there advanced. Such a composition he appears to have contemplated for some time; it gradually progressed as health and opportunity allowed; “ now and then,” he remarks, “it spread itself into branches and leaves like a plant in April, and sometimes it lay by without growth like a vegetable in the winter.” He seems, after all his labour, to have regarded this treatise as an
incomplete performance, as falling short of his original design, and he would probably have kept it still longer from the press but for the admonitions of advanced age and increased infirmity. In his own modest and beautiful language he observes, “ I shall be sufficiently satisfied with the good-humour and lenity of my readers, if they will please to regard these papers as parcels of imperfect sketches, which were designed by a sudden pencil, and in a thousand leisure moments; to be one day collected into landscapes of some little prospects in the regions of learning and in the world of common life, pointing out the fairest and most fruitful spots, as well as the rocks and wildernesses and faithless morasses of the country.” To guide into the paths of wisdom human and divine, was the office which Dr. Watts most loved, and for which he was fully qualified: his labours in this respect have not been unappreciated; he received the thanks of those in his own day whose approbation the virtuous desire, and the extensive use which has been made of his work is at once its best eulogy and his just reward. A book so well known it is unnecessary to analyse, and after the decision of two of the greatest men of their age in its favour, Dr. Johnson and the late Robert Hall, it would be presumption to criticise.
The former remarks, “ Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his 'Improvement of the Mind,' of which the radical principles may indeed be found in Locke's Conduct of the Understanding,' but they are so expanded and ramified by Watts, as to confer upon him the merit of a work in the highest degree useful and pleasing. Whoever has the care of instructing others, may be charged with deficience in his duty if this book is not recommended.” Mr. Hall, with the modesty so characteristic of him, gives his testimony as follows:-“I very highly approve of Dr. Watts's works in general, and
particularly that on the 'Improvement of the Mind.' The book needs no recommendation ; it may be considered as an English classic, which it would be nearly as absurd for any living
gr cted for the press; for it is very easy for any person of
questions also take cognizance of the s
or the poetry in spiritual attainment and theologic
st distinguished mical expenditure of time, the out
r of all his works. a station so sacred and so exr
ery man of reading. daily growth of the mind in
ray in me, to add my acquirements of the schol
as received the imprimatur
blic of letters !" messenger of mercy, “t in our academies shor .nprovement of the Mind" is obinterrogatives; they
which may be owing to its being a ter, to be proposer
s, only partially corrected and revised duty summons t manuscripts which he designed for the sible judge, ar
ut live to publish, he committed in his will to and designs' Dr. Jennings and Dr. Doddridge, who found
It is on this supplemental treatise, accompanied with the dated Jr notice :-“ Though this book, or the second voI am the 'Improvement of the Mind,' is not so far finished ing
could wish, yet I leave it among the number of books
cepius and science to finish it, and publish it in a form suffidently useful to the world. The editors nominated made but few additions or alterations in the work, which appeared in 1751, the last literary engagement of the lamented Doddridge, executed but three months before he departed to a more southern climate, to return no more to his native shores. In his correspondence there is an interesting letter from Nathaniel Neal, Esq., with reference to it.
In the following year he produced the “ Harmony of all Religions which God ever prescribed to men, and all his Dispensations towards them.” This is a judicious and useful treatise, the production plainly of “a man of one book," one who has attentively studied not only the letter of scripture but its spirit, the connexion of its several parts, and the harmony of the whole. It is designed to show, that God's dealings with the human family have been substantially the same under every dispensation; that he has ever regarded them as