Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Philip, Robert

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PHILIP, ROBERT (1791–1858), divine, born at Huntly in Aberdeenshire in 1791, was the eldest son of an elder in the church of George Cowie, the founder of independency in the north of Scotland. His father's death in 1806 was followed by his departure for Aberdeen, where he obtained a situation as clerk in the Grandholm works. He developed the tastes and aptitudes of a genuine student, and at the age of nineteen was admitted to Hoxton academy. Four years later, in 1815, he commenced work as minister at Liverpool and devoted much attention to the welfare of seamen, for whose benefit he published a small volume of sermons entitled ‘Bethel Flag.’ On 1 Jan. 1826 he came to London to take charge of Maberly Chapel, Kingsland, and henceforth devoted himself with assiduity to the production of a series of religious manuals, which had a very great vogue in their day both in England and America. He became known also as a powerful advocate of the claims of the London Missionary Society, whose operations he sought to extend, especially in China; and he was a convinced opponent of the opium traffic. In 1852 the honorary degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Dartmouth College, U.S.A. He resigned the Maberly Chapel, owing to failing health, in 1855, and died at his residence on Newington Green on 1 May 1858. Philip married, in 1818, Hannah Lassell, the sister of William Lassell [q. v.], and left issue.

Of Philip's numerous works, most interest attaches to his ‘Life and Times of the Rev. George Whitefield,’ London, 8vo, 1837, and his ‘Life, Times, and Characteristics of John Bunyan,’ 1839, 8vo. The former was adversely criticised by Sir James Stephen in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ lxvii. 506. Both are largely composed of extracts and are of small biographical value, but both are somewhat remarkable on account of the vigour and originality of their style and the strength of their evangelical tone. His other works include: 1. ‘Christian Experience: Guide to the Perplexed,’ 1828, 12mo; 10th edit. 1847, 18mo. 2. ‘Redemption, or the New Song in Heaven,’ 1834 and 1838, 18mo. 3. ‘The God of Glory: Guide to the Doubting,’ 5th edit. 1838, 18mo. 4. ‘Eternity Realized: Guide to the Thoughtful,’ 5th edit. 1839, 18mo. 5. ‘On Pleasing God: Guide to the Conscientious,’ 3rd edit. 1837, 18mo. 6. ‘Communion with God: Guide to the Devotional,’ 7th edit. 1847, 18mo. These six works were republished with an introductory essay by Albert Barnes in New York in 2 vols. 12mo, and again in 1867, in 1 vol. 8vo, under the title of ‘Devotional Guides.’ Two other volumes—‘Manly Piety in its Principles’ (2nd edit. 1837, 18mo) and ‘Manly Piety in its Realisations’ (2nd edit. 1837, 18mo)—were republished in New York in one volume, 1838, as ‘The Young Man's Closet Library.’ The four works—‘The Marys, or Beauty of Female Holiness’ (3rd edit. 1840, 18mo), ‘The Marthas, or Varieties of Female Piety’ (3rd edit. 1840, 18mo), ‘The Lydias, or Developments of Female Character’ (3rd edit. 1841, 18mo), ‘The Hannahs, or Maternal Influence on Sons’ (3rd edit. 1841, 12mo)—were similarly published collectively as ‘The Young Ladies' Closet Library,’ and passed through numerous editions. Philip also published an ‘Introductory Essay to the Practical Works of the Rev. R. Baxter,’ 4 vols. 1838 and 1847; ‘The Life and Opinions of the Rev. William Milne,’ 1839 and 1840, 8vo; ‘The Life and Times of the Rev. John Campbell,’ 1841, 8vo; and ‘The Elijah of South Africa,’ 1852, 8vo, a memoir of his friend, John Philip [q. v.], the African missionary. Philip published sermons, and pamphlets upon China and the opium question.

[Congregational Year Book, 1859, p. 213; McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature; Southey's Life and Correspondence, v. 233; Philip's Devotional Guides, ed. Barnes, 1867; private information.]

T. S.