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loiterers and profane would retire at his approach, saying "let us go, here comes Walker." His manner is said to have been commanding and solemn in the extreme; and his life was so truly in unison with his precepts, that at length he awed into silence those who were at first most clamorous against him. Such crowds attended his ministry, that the thoroughfares of the town seemed to be deserted during the hours of service, so that it was remarked, "you might fire a cannon down every street of Truro in church time, without a chance of killing a single human being."
The gross vices and apathy of the age, fully warranted the style of address employed by Mr. Walker; yet it must be confessed, that he perhaps did not sufficiently include himself with his hearers, nor advert enough to those days, in which the same cloud that now cast its shadow over his flock, had enveloped his own mind. This would have tended to conciliate without compromise of principle; but in his early sermons, he seems to have spoken to his people as though they had been the only persons in the wrong, and himself not a novice in the truth. This was decidedly the error of the few faithful preachers of his time, and undoubtedly had the effect of giving offence which might have been avoided. The surest way of getting at the hearts of his congregation, is for the minister to give them fully to understand that he is their fellow-sinner, and stands in equal need of the one common Saviour by whom alone we can find peace with God. Not that the excellent curate of Truro denied this, far from it, but it was not sufficiently
First fruits of Mr. Walker's labours.
prominent in his discourses, nor is it in those of ministers in general.
To return, however, to the effects of Mr. Walker's labours. The outward results were very remarkable ; for, in addition to those already mentioned, the playhouse and the cock-pit were forsaken and given up to other purposes, and similar reforms extended to places in the neighbourhood through his instrumentality. His own account is very striking-" they were surprised and grew angry, not without an evident fear resting upon them, and an interesting curiosity to hear me again of this matter. I have reason to judge that almost all of them have been, one time or other, awakened more or less, although I fear many of them have rejected the counsel of God against themselves."
Mr. Walker's first convert was a youth that had been a soldier, of licentious habits, who was greatly alarmed under one of his striking sermons. He called him his "first and dearest child," and rejoiced over his consistency of life, firmness of faith, and patient endurance of persecution, with all the fondness of a parent. The example of this young man brought others to inquire; but it pleased God to take him to himself, and to make his death the apparent cause of a great awakening among the people. His funeral sermon was the means of many conversions, and the succession of inquirers became so numerous, that Mr. Walker was obliged to rent two rooms at a distance from his lodging in the town, to hold spiritual intercourse with them in private.3 But few of these
3 He afterwards had a house of his own, and saw them at home.
were under terrors; the greater part were brought to a knowledge of the truth in a very gentle manner, being led to seek salvation under mourning for sin. The way in which he dealt with his converts by private instruction, suited to the state and character of each individual, will be seen in the next chapter.
SCHEME OF PRIVATE INSTRUCTION. FACTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF MR. WALKER'S MINISTERIAL CHARACTER.
Mr. Walker's dealings with his converts.
MR. WALKER found the persons who came to him for spiritual advice, "universally ignorant in the grossest degree." He accordingly devoted a few evenings in each week to their instruction in private, that he might impart to them a knowledge of the plan of salvation, warn them against insidious allurements to return to the world, and encourage them to disregard the reproach with which they were besieged by enemies of the truth. When the earlier followers of his counsel and ministry, had arrived at a more advanced stage of religious progress, he sought their assistance in watching over beginners. He recommended them to converse and pray with each other, and at such times left them to themselves, only giving them directions as need required. This was a much wiser course than permitting them to exercise their gifts in the presence of their pastor, making spiritual pride the unnatural foster-brother of professed Christian humility. Mr. Walker's penetrating and judicious mind at once perceived and avoided the mistakes of his more celebrated, but not equally practi
cal cotemporaries, in the classification of their numerous and scattered converts-evils which were felt at first, and still continue to be most injurious to the growth of genuine religion. That Christians should assemble in small parties for mutual edification, praise, and prayer, no minister can for an instant doubt; but long experience has confirmed the prudence of Mr. Walker in not remaining with them on these occasions, staying only to give his advice and blessing. In allusion to the prayer meeting at Olney, Mr. Scott says, "I soon found it needful or advisable to withdraw, and to leave the persons who conducted it to themselves." Mr. Walker foresaw and escaped these troubles. This cautiousness in a man of whose zeal, piety, and judgment, there cannot exist even a shade of doubt, should operate as a lesson to young clergymen, not to be led away by a love of popularity, or by false reasoning, into habits of which they may have to repent, both on account of themselves and their people, to the end of their pastoral
With that accuracy and thoughtfulness which formed a remarkable part of the sound character of Mr. Walker, he did not trust, as many would have done, to the suggestions of the moment for his private conversations with inquirers, but drew up a systematic plan of instruction, which may yet perhaps form a happy guide to many who are placed in similar circumstances. Ministers seldom prepare for private interviews with their awakened people, though nothing in their office requires more prayer, reflection, and heavenly wisdom. The paper alluded to is as follows.