12 May 1739
4. Daniel Neal, London, to Philip Doddridge, Saturday Evening, 12 May 1739.1
Your Letter wch I read yesterday gave me a great deal of agreable Entertainment, & made me almost in Love with a Person I never saw; His Character is ^ye^ very Picture of what I should wish & pray for: there is no manner of Exception that I can hear of, but that of his Delivery, wch many
of them, with you, hope may be conquered or very much amended. All express a very great Respect & value for Mr Lister & his Ministry, & are highly pleased with his serious & affectionate manner, and I am apt to think when we have heard him again, even the thickness of his Pronunciation of some of his words will in a great Measure vanish, it being owing in a great Measure (according to my Son) in not making his under & upper Lip meeting together, but be that as it will, this is all, & ye very worst that I know of, to use your own Expression.
I wish as much as You, yt ye Affair might be speedily issued, but you know that Things of this nature in wch many, & those of a different Temper are concerned, must proceed with all tenderness & voluntary Freedom, without ye least Shadow of Violence or imaginary Hurry. Men love to act for themselves, & with Spontaneity, and as I have sometimes observed have come ^at length^, chearfully & voluntarily into Measures wch they would have opposed, if they had imagined they were to be driven into them.
I dont mention this, as if it was ye present Case, for I can assure ^you^ it is not, but to put you in mind, that it may possibly, not always be for ye best to do things too hastily; & therefore I hope you’l excuse this Digression. I am exceeding tender of Mr Lister’s Character & Usefulness I therefore shall leave it to your Prudence to fit ye day of his coming up, & you may depend upon my taking all ye prudential Steps in favour of this Affair, yt I am master of. I hope ye Satisfaction will be general but who can answer for it before hand? It has a promising Appearance but if it comes out otherwise, you shall have a faithful Account.
I am pleased to hear that Mr Lister is under so good an Adviser as your self, who cannot but be apprised of ye great Importance ^of this Affair^ both to your Academy, to myself & to ye publick Interest of ye Dissenters in this City; & I frankly declare I don’t know any one place among us in London where he can set more easy, & enjoy ye universal Love & Affection of a good natured People, that will give him all fitting Encouragement. We are very thankful to you Sr for ye Concern you express for us, & ye Care you have taken for our Supply, I hope you’l have a Return from above, of far greater Blessings, than this world can bestow, & You may expect from me all suitable Acknowledgments.
Pray advise Mr Lister when you see him to lay aside all undue Concern from his mind, & to speak with Freedom & Ease. Let him endeavour by an Articulate Pronunciation to make ye Elder Persons hear, & those that see at a great distance, & all will be well. He has already got a Place in ye Affections of many of ye People; & I believe will quickly captivate them all. Assure him that he has a candid Audience who will not make a man an Offender for a word; let him speak to ye Heart, touch ye Conscience, & shew himself in earnest in his work. & He will certainly prove himself a workman that needs not be ashamed. I beg pardon for these Hints, let not Mr Lister impress his mind too much with them. My best respects attend Your Lady & whole family, not forgetting good Mr Lister. & I am Sr in haste yr Affect Bro. & very humble Servt
May 12th 1739
Brethren pray for us!
Address: To | The Revd Dr P. Dodderidge [sic] | Minister of the Gospel | in | Northampton
Postage: 12 March
Note on address page (in Mercy Doddridge’s hand): Revd Mr Neal | about Mr Lister | some wise hints
1 Ferdinand J. Greer Autograph Collection, English Prose Writers, Box 215, Folder 6, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. MS of this letter not previously known; printed versions can be found in Daniel Neal, History of the Puritans, ed. Joshua Toulmin (1793), vol. 1, p. xxxv; Walter Wilson, History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches . . . in London (1808-14), vol. 3, p. 102; and in J. D. Humphreys, ed., Correspondence and Diary of Philip Doddridge (1829-31), vol. 3, p. 376. Nuttall's Calendar used the above sources; he did not see this letter among the others that he received from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and thus was not included in his Philip Doddridge: Additional Letters (2001). The letter below concerns the call of William Lister, Doddridge's student, to the Independent meeting in Jewin Street, London, where he would serve from 1739 to 1743.