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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Waddel, James, d.d.

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a Presbyterian divine, celebrated for his eloquence, and immortalized by the pen of William Wirt as "The Blind Preacher," was born at Newry, in the North of Ireland, in July, 1739. He came with his parents at an early age to America, was educated at Dr. Finlay's Nottingham Academy, studied theology with the, Rev. John Todd, was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Hanover April 2, 1761, and was ordained and installed pastor of the churches of Lancaster and Northumberland, Va., Oct. 7, 1762. In 1778 he took charge of the Tinkling Spring congregation, Va.; in 1783 he organized a congregation at Stanton, to whom he preached on alternate Sabbaths; in 1785 he removed to Louisa County, Va., to an estate which he had purchased, and while there he lost his sight from cataract, but still continued to preach. It was during this period that Mr. Wirt was thrilled by his eloquence in the secluded little church in Orange County. In 1792 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Dickinson College, Pa. He died in great triumph, Sept. 17, 1805. The testimonies to Dr. Waddel's surpassing eloquence are numerous and unquestionable. His oratory was simple, majestic, and impassioned. It glowed with the peculiar fire of the South. Patrick Henry himself pronounced Davies and Waddel the greatest orators of the age. In him were blended "the poet's hand and prophet's fire." Dr. Waddel published nothing during his life, and gave orders that all, his MSS. should be burned after his death. Several of his ten children occupied important positions in society. See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 3, 235; Thomas, Pronouncing Biog. Dict.; Foote, Sketches of Virginia, vol. 1; Life of Rev. Dr. Alexander; Watchman of the South, and Prot. and Her. Oct. 24, 1844; Davidson, Hist. of the Presb. Church in Kentucky, p. 26; Letters of British Spy, let. 7. (J. L. S.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Waddel, James, d.d.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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