« السابقةمتابعة »
advancement. All that he recommended to others, in the address quoted in a former chapter, he strictly attended to himself, and the consequence was, that the eucharist became to him an overflowing channel of the richest covenant blessings. On one occasion his words are, "Sunday next is sacrament Sunday. My thoughts have been somewhat drawn this way by the exercises of the week. I am much called on to lament my little profiting by the last supper, and little desire after this. What a tendency has my heart to pass over duties in a customary manner." This is indeed a tendency common to us all, but Mr. Walker's vigilance prevented its gaining the advantage of him. On the Sunday, just before going to the sacrament, he says, "last night my heart did not cordially acquiesce with God's sentence against sin; and though the matter be pretty well cleared up to my mind, yet I ought to seek carefully more light upon it. I would go to the table like a pardoned rebel, who is still half a rebel, with great humility and thankfulness, to remember the great means of salvation represented in this ordinance." Such was his preparation for the solemn privilege of communion; and though not always finding the happiness he sought, he seldom returned without some solid consolation, indicative of steady perseverance in the sure though varied path of life. “Just returned from the sacrament," he wrote1 on May 29th, 1757, "where I met an unwonted rebuke; the enemy had great advantage of me, taking occasion of the fewness of the people present, espe
1 Vid. Wills's Spiritual Register, vol. iii, p. 20..
cially of the society, to raise up reasoning mixed with resentment, when it was suggested whether the society people did not dislike coming with others, and were influenced by pride. I could get no deliverance from these thoughts, though they were earnestly prayed and contended against, till the last people were receiving, and was in a manner prevented from the exercise of every grace. Yet in the midst, I could see the Lord gracious, and thought I could justify him. I have been confessing my sins, and seeking the cause; but see no special reason, being in every thing sinful." How many ministers are thus embarrassed in the sanctuary, by the provocations of their favourite people; but too few, it is to be feared, are able to subdue their emotions even at the last moment, or are led to charge home the painful effect upon their minds to its real cause, the remains of sin within themselves. The lesson conveyed, however, by this description of Mr. Walker's state of mind, when annoyed by the carelessness or wrong spirit of his people, is not applicable only to ministers; it should teach those who have derived benefit from their labours, to be more attentive to such appearances as promote their tranquil enjoyment of the appointed means of grace. Happily for the pious curate of Truro, he was not always so tried; he had his seasons of real delight in the communion. He thus declares his peaceful frame of mind-" by the endurance and goodness of God, I am alive this day, and have been enabled, without disturbance, to renew my covenant of grace. Praise be to God, my mind was clear, my conscience quiet, and with due deliberation, and with
out distraction, I was before the Lord. I must bless him also that the ordinance was with comfort. Faith seemed in exercise more than usual, to see, receive, and in some measure to appropriate Christ to me in communicating. Though always I have cause to complain of the hardness of my heart, yet now I could in some sort mourn and love. I found heartiness in my purposes of serving the glory and interest of God in Christ, and was forward to make full surrender of myself, depending upon divine grace. has been a day with me signally marked with divine favour. Notwithstanding the insensibility and unbelief of my heart, I am returned rejoicing." While the dark seasons of his pilgrimage were enlivened by an occasional beam of hope, the dazzling splendour of his brighter moments was wisely sobered by the shading of a humble fear. "What now," says he, after this keen enjoyment just alluded to, "shall I render unto the Lord? It may be some greater trial than ordinary is at hand. Let me be mindful therefore of the vows I have this day made." Such is the true use of the gospel ordinances, instruments simple in themselves, but alike suited to the spirituality of our religion, and the material infirmities of man.
The reflections of Mr. Walker, when attacked by sudden illness, are remarkable proofs of the piety and wisdom of his truly renewed heart. When visited by a violent disorder during the night, he learnt from it the following valuable lessons-the importance of every hour he lived; that the dying bed is not for the work of religion, which must be the business of our healthy days; the necessity of not permitting the
things of this life to veil eternal interests from view. To borrow the idea of his equally experienced friend, Mr. Adam, God never put him into a great fire, for a little one was always sufficient.
The uncertainty of human existence was constantly before him, and the awful thought that “in the midst of life we are in death," suggested these beautiful observations, in a letter to an afflicted young man, who was high in his esteem. "It shall be well if any dispensations of Providence confound that atheistical tenet of our nature, which perpetually suggests to us the confidence of living. I remember Bishop Hopkins spends a good half of a funeral sermon, in proving by various arguments that we shall all die; and in the view of the confidence of life that is in us, it was judiciously done, though I confess it made me wonder at first reading, and no doubt many of his audience thought he was upon a needless employment. We have been told of death and seen it; it has been seldom hid from us a month together; it has come into our houses, and taken away a father, wife, child ; but has all been enough to shake our stated confidence of life? For a day, perhaps; but the habit has remained. Yet you cannot find any thing by which the world is so much strengthened as this. While this remains, every present thing has great importance; let this be taken away, and what force have riches, pleasures, reputation, reproach, afflictions? We read in Isaiah of those who had "made a league with death." We all do so naturally; it is a covenant of peace, that death shall not come nigh us, and so we enjoy ourselves at ease. This covenant, God,
in mercy, is always aiming to break, by pressing the sound of death continually in our ears. But though God does this, we shall be never the better, nor our confidence of life be shaken, unless his grace also go along [with it.] Of this David was made sensible; else he had not called on God to teach him to number his days, that he might apply his heart unto wisdom. O my friend, could I but live in that expectation of death, which both the certainty and uncertainty of its coming demand, and consequently in the immediate view of an eternal judgment, what manner of man should I be! How above and dead to the world; how diligent and active in my Master's work; how undisturbed by a thousand things which now disorder me; how quiet under all afflictions; how content in my station, &c. &c. Surely to learn to die is a lesson hard, yet most needful to be learnt, else God would not so discipline us in it; and who will say he has got this lesson so perfectly as to need no further teaching? If not, is it not a mercy in God to be still instructing us in it? Is it not stubbornness in us, if we do not hear the instruction? Comfort us, you say—think of death and what lies behind. By the grace of God, bring yourselves near the departing hour. It will shew you what you are and should be, and will suggest the plainest way in the world of improving your present heavy trial."
Another delightful characteristic of this good man's disposition was, that though most keenly alive to the frailties of human nature, he felt kindly towards all men. His penetration never disturbed the charity of his heart; he discovered imperfections only