Philip Doddridge

1702-1751. Nonconformist* divine. Born in London in 1702, Doddridge was educated at Kibworth Academy, was minister of Kibworth (1723-29), began his academy at Market Harborough (1729), and then moved to Northampton (1729- 51). Here he accomplished his life-work, training generations of students for the ministry, letting each one decide controverted theological points for himself, encouraging village preaching, and promoting unity among the Nonconformist bodies. Theologically he occupies a curious position. He adhered to the modified Calvinism of Richard Baxter* and was the leader of the “Middle Way” men after the death of Edmund Calamy,* but he also inclined to Sabellianism, though his alleged heresies are probably due to lack of necessary mental equipment to articulate his thoughts clearly. At the same time he was deeply influenced by the warmth of the Methodist revival, and he regarded Dissent as the religion of the common people, not as a political prop for the Hanoverian dynasty. The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul may be the last great Puritan spiritual autobiography, but it is shot through with evangelical fervor; so too are his hymns, particularly “Hark the glad sound.” To Arians and thoroughgoing Calvinists alike he appeared a trimmer. Most of his students became liberal Presbyterians, though a few embraced an earnest evangelicalism. Doddridge died at Lisbon.