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Opposition to Mr. Walker.
times-"Sir, Squire — is going to give a supper to the ringers, and will be glad to have your company to sup with him on a roasted pig." He answered, to the utter astonishment of the bearer of the message, who never knew him refuse to participate in such a thing before," Give my compliments to the Squire, and say I am better employed." He next began to preach as he felt, declared the alteration in his views, and faithfully pointed out the evils of the vortex of empty pleasures in which the inhabitants of his parish were involved, and the danger of the mere formalities of sabbath worship, on which they rested for salvation. Repentance, faith, and the new-birth, became the topics of his sermons; truths which, treated with all the powers of his highly cultivated mind, brought down on him hatred as an enthusiast, derision as a madman, and vehement opposition as the destroyer of harmless joys. An infidel even went so far as to insult him in the pulpit, an affront which he bore with extraordinary patience and dignity. Soon after, this misguided individual was, seemingly in judgment, summoned before the tribunal of his God, without having manifested the slightest symptom of repentMr. Walker refused to read over his grave, those parts of our burial service which are inapplicable to the character of such a man, and this omission raised against him the bitterest animosity and the most virulent invective. The Squire, once a friend and companion, now became his foe, and complained of his conduct to the bishop, in the hope of effecting his removal. The bishop, however, first wrote for an explanation to Mr. Walker, and upon receiving from
him a faithful account of the man's character, public violation of the decorum of the sanctuary, and the state in which he died, wrote to the Squire in terms of approbation of his minister's conduct, and added a wish that there were many such conscientious men in the diocese. Probably this exemplary pastor was justifiable in departing from the ritual of the church in that particular case, which received the sanction of his diocesan; but it is certain that by imitation of his conduct, under less flagrant circumstances, we should be sitting in the seat of judgment and assuming to ourselves the prerogative of the Lord, who alone can know, as he determines, the state of any human being after death. How far Christ may be revealed in the moment of dissolution to the expiring sinner, and who may be selected as a wondrous monument of infinite mercy, it is not for us to say-the living are the objects of pastoral solicitude-we have no concern with the dead. Hence our reformers have wisely put a hypothetical case all through our services, leaving it to God, and not to the priest, to decide to what particular persons it is applicable. In all probability, the evident bad spirit of Mr. Walker's accusers operated in a great measure towards eliciting the reply of the bishop, which became, under Providence, a most happy check to the virulence of his enemies.
The progress of divine grace in Mr. Walker's mind was by slow degrees, and it was only gradually that both his views and preaching became matured. He had not courage at first to proclaim the gospel in its fulness, and to attack the depravity of man. It was, he said, "by and by" that he "began to deal with
them as lost sinners, and beat down formality and self-righteousness, and to preach Christ;" and then, and not till then, "the fruit of this, by the mighty working of the Spirit, quickly appeared." There is among his papers a sermon on Matt. xviii, 7, preached Dec. 7, 1746, levelled against outward immoralities, which he describes as abounding awfully on all sides. It contains much of powerful moral address to parents, masters, and others, and concludes with an admonition to those who neglected attendance at the communion, but is totally deficient in evangelical application. This sermon he delivered again at St. Olave, April 5, 1747, and at Truro, Oct. 9, 1748, which last date is subsequent to the period of his becoming suspicious of the unsatisfactory nature of his state of mind. What he says of the conduct of his neighbours, is a melancholy confirmation of what has been stated by so many writers, as to the character of that part of the last century. "I observe in general, that in all ranks and orders of men professing Christianity and the practice of religion, there is yet so little of it to be found, that all seriousness and decency are actually put out of countenance; and a man must have a large share of resolved piety not to be drawn by the authority of the great, and the example of the multitude, into infidel or libertine notions, or licentious practice. Indeed there seems to be a general conspiracy in the cause of wickedness, by which every man, one would think, was engaged to entice his neighbour into the unchristian practices which the world in one shape or other is guilty of." These vices are however noticed and condemned by
Mr. Walker, without any discovery of the cause or true remedy of the depraved condition of the world; but increasing grace begat in him a holy boldness openly to declare, without fear of man, the corruption of nature, and salvation as it is in Christ Jesus. Upon this the gall of human bitterness overflowed, and the sinners who could bear to have their visible faults plainly exposed, were unable to endure the searching probe of a faithful gospel, and vented their enmity to it in reviling, insulting, and persecuting its newly awakened minister. He now preached repentance according to the gospel, in the following powerful language-"Christ sets up remission of sins and other most gracious privileges, but then they belong only to those that repent. Repentance and remission of sins saith he, must be preached in my name through the world. Do you consider this, you who are yet in your sins, labouring after the meat that perisheth, drudging in the nastiness of lust; you that are proud and high-minded and selfish; you that are lovers of pleasure, living without God in the world? Do you know that you are never the better for that Christ hath died for you, rather much the worse-heirs of a blacker destruction, seeing you have denied so much offered grace and mercy! And you, too, who are setting up a religion of your own, who conceit that you are well enough, because you are not altogether so abandoned as your neighbour; you who content yourselves with doing no harm, and you who satisfy yourselves with the outside, the formality of holiness; whilst you have never discovered the hidden iniquities of your hearts, nor put on the power of godliness; and you also who
are at a stand, easy with just so much holiness as you imagine will carry you to heaven, and now striving for no larger victories nor more enlivened graces, than those poor mistaken ones you already possess. Do you know that none of you have repented! Repentance, you will hear, is a work which convinces us of utter sinfulness, and confounds us with the sense of it; it brings us down to the dust, and makes us feel that we are nothing, and can do nothing to deliver ourselves; which makes us hate sin and refuse it in every shape; which engages us to strive earnestly against it, and never to imagine we are got far enough from it; which makes us delight in holiness, and endeavour to do all things, be they great or little, to the glory of God; and ready and zealous to every good word and work towards him and our neighbour. Such a repentance is the only proof that we have an interest in Christ." Addresses of this description could not fail to excite the feelings of those who heard them, and their first ebullition was in anger against the man who now denounced the very path in which, the immoralities excepted, he had cheerfully accompanied them, and proclaimed that the profane, the lustful, and the formalist, were all marching with the multitude on the same broad road to destruction. Still, the earnestness of the preacher, and the striking alteration of his habits as well as of the tone of his, sermons, stirred up the curiosity of the people, who while they were enraged at the fidelity, were enchained by the eloquence, and trembled at the sternness of their reprover. Even out of the pulpit they feared the presence of their minister: the Sabbath