صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

observed that logic had been his favourite pursuit in youth, and recommended it to all young divines. Of his mode of life at the University we know little; he appears to have possessed habits of application which prevented his entering with a congenial spirit, into the gaieties and temptations that surrounded him. In addition to both capacity and inclination to acquire knowledge, he seems always to have had a pleasing propensity to adorn his conduct with the graces of integrity and virtue, and took pains to give to morals of a mere earthly temper, the brightest polish they were capable of receiving. Besides mental endowments and a character of no ordinary kind, nature had favoured him with a most attractive and commanding person, as well as handsome expressive features, indicating all the characteristics of manly open intelligence. Frank and unreserved in conversation, freely communicating his own thoughts, and courteously listening to others, he became an agreeable companion to such as appreciated the value of his society, and was respected by the whole circle of his acquaintance. But the scions of virtue and morality had been grafted on the wild stem of human nature, and produced nothing but blossoms; it was when his heart became changed by the grace of God, that they ripened into fruit.

Mr. Walker proceeded to his degree of B.A. and took orders in the year 1737. His first curacy was the parish of Dodescomb Leigh, in the vicinity of his native place, which he held only till August, 1738. He discharged the duties of a pastor at this early period of life, with great diligence, and his private cha

racter was altogether unimpeachable. He left his parish at the request of Lord Rolle, who invited him to undertake the tuition of his youngest brother during a journey through France, a proposal to which the advantages of travelling abroad induced him readily to yield. While on this tour, he seems to have cultivated with great diligence, those lighter accomplishments which give a grace and charm to the man of letters, particularly the arts of music and dancing, in both of which he excelled. After being thus employed for two years, he returned home, and went to reside at Lanlivery, in Cornwall, as curate to his friend Mr. Nicolas Kendall, canon of Exeter, and archdeacon of Totness. On the death of the archdeacon in the spring of 1740, Mr. Walker was presented to the vicarage of his parish, to hold during the minority of a nephew of Walter Kendall, Esq. patron of the living.

During the time Mr. Walker continued at Lanlivery, he was both a teacher and an example of virtue. His talents rendered him an attractive preacher, while his decorous life and fascinating manners ensured him much affection and respect. He reproved, exhorted, and watched over the people of his flock, preaching, catechising, and visiting diligently in private; nor could any minister more sincerely deplore evident unfruitfulness in his spiritual vineyard. His husbandry, however, extended only to the branches; he was unacquainted with the nature and cultivation of the root. While under a severe sickness in the year 1744, he dictated a letter, to be sent in case he should not recover, as his dying remonstrance to certain of his

parishioners, whose names he desired to be taken down. These persons had been the most inattentive to his admonitions, and he thus manifested a sincere interest in their welfare. Could he have seen an outward decency in these individuals, he would have died content, and discovered the defects of his ministry in another world; but it pleased a gracious Providence to raise him from the bed of sickness, and to shew him the insufficiency of all virtue that does not spring from a heart, made acquainted with its natural enmity against God and holiness, reconciled to him through the death of Christ, and purified by the holy, and therefore necessarily reforming operations of the divine Spirit.

In the summer of 1746 Mr. Walker resigned the vicarage of Lanlivery to the young gentleman for whom he held it, and removed to the curacy of Truro. He eagerly embraced the offer of a residence in this populous town, that he might enjoy the pleasures of exhilirating company, and engage in those social amusements, of which he was passionately fond. Though regular and decent in the external observance of the forms of religion, he acknowledges his heart to have been in the world, and confesses that a desire of applause was in a great measure, the motive of his exhibition of accomplishments in society, and of his sermons and activity as a minister. He had not yet preached or borne the cross, and therefore during his days of worldliness, his private rebukes and pulpit advice gave no offence.

The first year of his being curate of Truro, his only ambition seemed to be that he might be courted for

his gaiety, admired for his eloquence, and become the reformer of the vicious by the power of persuasion and force of example. He was not in his preaching a mere common place teacher of moral truths, but his extensive reading had rendered him what is called a divine. He had, as we are informed by himself, "historical notions" of the leading doctrines of the gospel-the corruption of man's nature, his misery and helplessness; the satisfaction and sufficiency of Christ; the necessity of a renewed mind; the need of the work of the Spirit. These he tells us he "knew notionally, but neither felt nor taught them practically." In fact the period was but just past when these subjects had been treated with eminent learning, but with little or no unction, by men of erudition and research, but whose light, being only that of reason, while it rendered their pages luminous, left them indistinct. From the writings of these celebrated theologians, it is probable that Mr. Walker drew much of his lore, and in common with many others, had studied the popular treatises published not long previous to the accession of the House of Hanover, neglecting the older, sounder, and not less learned divines of our church.

If human qualifications, however lovely, were capable of making an efficient minister of Christ, Mr. Walker would have shone conspicuously in that character during his first year's residence at Truro; but he had to learn the important lesson, that the fairest union of morals, knowledge, and urbanity, is insufficient without grace, to a successful exercise of the pastoral office. All the external brilliancy of man's learning cannot render the mysteries of scripture dis

tinctly visible in this benighted world: the gospel is like a transparency; its character can only be clearly read in darkness by light within, and this must be the candle of the Lord, himself illuminating the pages of his own word. Acquaintance with the theory of Christian doctrine, and the rigid performance of every social duty, ought invariably to mark the character of a teacher of the gospel; but he may exhibit these excellencies in some degree, and yet be destitute of grace and wisdom. Happily for us, the holiness of our God renders the converse of this impossible: the Spirit of Christ in our hearts is the sure spring of a performance of all moral obligations, and the true regulator, in the command to love each other as ourselves, of every relation of man to man. The hardest lesson human creatures have to learn is, that works must be the evidence, though they cannot be the price of our justification. Want of this view of the true nature of spiritual religion in his early course, was afterwards bitterly lamented by Mr. Walker, who says, that "though he was thought well of, and indeed esteemed beyond most of his brethren for regularity, decency, and endeavours to keep up external attendances, and somewhat or other in his public addresses," yet he felt, when looking back upon the time he spent at Lanlivery, he "ought to go sorrowing to the grave, upon a review of six years so passed over."

Mr. Walker had been "at least a year" in his curacy at Truro, before he fell under "any suspicion or uneasiness" about himself or his manner of preaching. The first impression that he was in error, arose from reflection on a conversation between himself and

« السابقةمتابعة »