1742 DAVID JENNINGS. Letter to Philip Doddridge Regarding the Nature of the Christian Faith.
1742 DAVID JENNINGS. Letter to Philip Doddridge Regarding the Nature of the Christian Faith.
1742 DAVID JENNINGS. Letter to Philip Doddridge Regarding the Nature of the Christian Faith.

1742 DAVID JENNINGS. Letter to Philip Doddridge Regarding the Nature of the Christian Faith.

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What a wonderful Great Awakening period letter! Penned by David Jennings [1691-1762], who was the son of ejected [1662] puritan divine, John Jennings. He was pastor and later tutor at the Fund Academy, Moorfields, where many of the prominent dissenters, both Congregational and Presbyterian, were trained. A testimony to his ongoing godliness is that, along with others like Philip Doddridge, he recognized the Methodist movement, ranging from the Wesleys to Whitefield, as being a genuine experience of God's grace and advocated for the work.

Addressed to Philip Doddridge, eminent Great Awakening divine, friend of Whitefield, and one of the leading pastors of the revival. It was his "Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul" which led to the conversion of William Wilberforce.

The present letter is in reference to what is Doddridge's work, The Perspicuity and Solidity of those Evidences of Christianity, to which the Generality of its Professors Among Us May Attain, Illustrated and Vindicated; in a Letter to the Author of the Late Pamphlet, Intitled, Christinaity, Not Founded on Argument &c.

Doddridge, I think rightly, was persuaded that the internal evidence of the Spirit's witness [a theme he would enlarge in his Rise and Progress] was a sufficient "external evidence." This provided a theological framework for the primary nature of religious experience as a source of religious confidence. 

"January 4, 1742/3

Dear Fr[iend]

I was prevented from being at the Fund yesterday, but I took care to transmit your account of the Pupil, and also to get the Petition for Warburton solicited, which was accordingly granted.  The Turkey and China came safe and good conditioned; for which Mrs Jennings joins in returning our most hearty thanks. I most sincerely thank you also for your late book, tho I find it has not the approbation of our good Methodists. I am told that Seagrave was but this Day in the Coffee House vindicating the Book you write against, imagining I suppose it was writt by one of his own Party.

It is I think a pretty thought of Warburton's, that God forbad the Jews the use of Chivalry, on purpose to shew that he protected that nation by a Special Providence. Suppose it were allowed, that God has so ordered the external evidence of Christianity, that it should not, in fact, lie before one in a hundred, on Purpose to shew that he conducts the Kingdom of Grace by his Spirit; Yet what earnings could the Deists make of this concession when there are sufficient external evidence to convince all, who will fairly inquire into them, and when all Christianity tells us of an internal Evidence; there have been hundreds and thousands before whom, it is allowed, the external evidences did not lie; who have yet given the best evidence that men could possibly give of their being rational believers; I mean by their suffering for Christianity? Would not this amount to a new external evidence in favour of Christianity, by providing there is a reality in that inward witness, which the Gospel speaks of?

I long to hear of Mrs. Doddridge's return, and health; and most heartily wish you and your family, not only one happy new year, but multos et felices.

I am, dear Sir, 
Your most affectionate and humble Servant
D. Jennings."

The present letter published in The Correspondence and Diary of Philip Doddridge, 1830.