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and especially under some minister of the Gospel. would have entered into any kind of service to have been connected with pious people. But all his attempts as yet proved unsuccessful. It was permitted that he should remain for a short season exposed to many temptations and trials. He had obtained, however, a new light upon the affairs of his soul, and this, while it comforted, afforded direction to his mind, and fitted him to sustain, with greater fortitude, the unusual shocks of trouble to which his youth was exposed.
His uncle, after the death of his wife, had fallen into the
most profligate and ruinous habits. It appears that they had received all their nephew's property, which, at parting from his master, amounted to upwards of 801.; that besides, they had dissipated landed property of their own, worth between one and two hundreds a year, and now the unhappy man was entangled with debts, which he was totally unable to discharge, and in consequence was cast into jail. For a time, his nephew pitied his condition, supplied him with money, and shewed him every becoming token of kindness and affection.
While Mr. Cooke's purse continued at his command, all was well. But when the youth found that his property was worse than wasted, that it was devoted to drunkenness and vice, with a set of the vilest companions, he felt it necessary to withhold his generosity. This exasperated his wicked. relative, and the result was, the formation of a project to deprive him of all his property at a stroke. The uncle pretended, and made a deposition upon oath, to this effect-that his nephew owed him 2007. In consequence of this most infamous machination, legal proceedings were immediately commenced. John Cooke received a summons from one of his uncle's creditors, to appear and answer for himself in a court of justice. Unacquainted with all such business, and without a single friend to advise or direct his proceedings, except his heavenly Father, he appeared to answer to the summons, and to abide by the consequences. Conscious integrity and trust in God alone were his support. When he reflected upon the extreme baseness and malice which influenced his enemies, he was indeed filled with fears; and when he saw that his greatest enemy was his nearest relative, and the man who had been enjoying for a year and half the spoils of his estate, he was overwhelmed with grief: but he resolved not to sink under the cruel hand of oppression, without a strenuous effort to defend himself. His cause and himself
he could now confidently commit to Him, whose name is "a Father to the fatherless, out of his holy habitation." The result of the examination was favourable. His simple statement triumphed over the unsupported deposition of his wicked uncle, and he came off victorious. The judge congratulated him upon his escape from the malicious plot, and informed him, that had it succeeded, he would have had between two and three hundred pounds to pay.
The total defeat of this infamous project, together with expenses, which fell upon the prosecutors, appears only to have excited to a higher pitch of wickedness his disappointed foe. Unwilling to allow the innocent victim of his rapacity to escape, he formed, in combination with some other companions as vile as himself, the hellish design of charging against the youth an act of robbery. This plan, had it succeeded, might not merely have put his uncle at once into possession of his little property, but might have brought the young man to an ignominious end, or to exile and disgrace for the remainder of his life. The plot was evidently formed with the intention of enabling his uncle, as next heir, to take possession of the estate. Two pettifogging and unprincipled lawyers were employed to prosecute him upon this new charge. Conscious, however, of the utter falseness of the accusation, they proceeded cautiously.
"They came to me," he says, " like men of Belial, laying upon me this charge-that I had robbed my uncle: the charge should have been, that I had been a rogue to myself to befriend him." Conscious innocence, however, supported him. He feared the desperate foe was prepared to swear away his life; but he was firm in his resolution not to yield to the snare, and was determined rather to die, than voluntarily give up his estate to the cruel foe, whom he had cherished as a snake in his bosom. The charge against him was possibly intended to frighten him, and to induce him to make offers of yielding his property to compromise the accusation, which might have enabled his uncle at once to make good the charge, and thus ultimately have put him in full possession of the estate. The tale of robbery was industriously propagated against him by his uncle and his agents; but it does not appear, from his memoranda, that any further steps were taken after the visit of the two lawyers, whose chief object probably was, after alleging the charge, and threatening prosecution, to excite some offer of compounding, which would have put them in possession of a very formidable weapon
against him. But his firmness was unshaken. He fell not under all their threatenings; but maintained a determined resolution, rather to die, than submit to the base project of his uncle.
During this stage of the business, and while his uncle was still confined in prison, God employed an instrument for the deliverance of the youth, unknown to him, by which all further proceedings were stayed. A gentleman went to visit the uncle, to whom he told the tale of his nephew's robbery. The gentleman, though an entire stranger to the nephew, inquired very particularly into the charge, and questioned him closely as to what his nephew had stolen. He hesitated long, and could return no satisfactory replies to the gentleman's questions; who, it seems, before he departed, being convinced that the charge was unfounded, cautioned the guilty man to take care how he proceeded, for that his own life would be endangered, if his charge should fail, and his malicious design against his nephew's life become apparent. These remarks made a powerful impression upon the uncle's mind. His covetousness had blinded him to his own danger; but now his courage failed him, and he relinquished the cruel and infernal project.
It was no slight comfort to our friend, during this trying period, that he had found out the way of a sinner's access to God, and was put in possession of those holy and gracious principles, which are adequate to support the believing soul "in the floods of great waters." He continued to attend upon the preaching of the Gospel at the Tabernacle, Moorfields. Every thing external and internal had contributed to prepare him to receive the word with gladness. His advancement in knowledge and comfort was rapid. The peculiarity of his situation enhanced the sweetness of the gospel; and the desperate wickedness of the world, as well as the severity of his trials, endeared to him the freeness and all sufficiency of divine grace. It was at a It was at a period of the greatest danger and of the greatest distress, that this heavenly light had descended upon his path. This gave it a distinctness, a brilliancy of contrast, a character of timely interposition, almost bordering on miracle, which contributed to settle and mature his faith into a strong and comforting assurance almost from the first. It was as difficult for such a man to doubt his conversion as to forget or doubt an escape from a shipwreck.
The base treatment he had received from his uncle, of course separated him entirely from all further acquaintance
or dependence; and happily for him, other prospects and other connexions, which were appointed in Providence to regulate the remainder of his life, soon presented themselves. It was, however, a severe trial to a youth of nineteen, whose nature was peculiarly affectionate, and whose regard for his relatives had been intense, to be now abandoned, without father, mother, or brother, and under such circumstances of painful alienation from the only relative on earth to whom he could look for advice. But these trying circumstances were evidently designed to educate his mind for the great work to which God had destined him, and for the attainment of that peculiar character, which eminently distinguished him among his brethren, and fitted him for remarkable usefulness in the Church of Christ.
It appears that, after attending at the Tabernacle some time, and finding his mind increasingly interested in the truths of religion, he resolved to unite himself to that society of Christians, and accordingly applied to the minister for a ticket of admission to the Lord's Supper. This, of course, led to some inquiries on the part of the minister, to whom he told the state of his affairs, as well as the state of his mind. This conversation appears to have excited for him a deep interest in the heart of the excellent minister, the Rev. Mr. Glascott, who was then officiating as a supply at the Tabernacle. The interview resulted in his obtaining a ticket of admission to the Lord's Supper; and, in a recommendation to call speedily upon the Rev. Matthew Wilks, who was then the resident minister of the place, and to make him. acquainted with all the circumstances of his case. kind friend took up the young man's case with affectionate concern. Possibly his discerning eye saw the bud of future excellence, and cherished the hope of one day seeing him a polished shaft in the Lord's quiver. If this supposition be true, how exquisite must have been the gratification of that venerable man, to see that blossom open into such beauty, and disseminate such fragrance, and at last ripen into such mellowed and abundant fruit. The result of his interview with Mr. Wilks was highly favourable. It happened at this very crisis, that the Rev. T. English of Wooburn, an intimate friend of Mr. Wilks, wrote to him to request he would recommend him a young man of piety and talents to assist him in his school. John Cooke appeared to Mr. Wilks a suitable person, and he accordingly procured for him this situation.
The business of tuition, though in its most ordinary departments, was an occupation so totally different from his previous prospects in life that he undertook it with some hesitation and fear. It was, however, both agreeable to his natural taste, and highly propitious to the important, mental, and spiritual change he had recently undergone. He now committed himself to the guidance of that powerful hand which had kept him during the period of his ignorance, and which had safely conducted him amidst the wily and perilous snares which his foes, under the name of friends, had spread for his unpractised feet.
His removal to Wooburn introduced him at once to an entirely new world. But the change was effected so easily, and his mind appears to have fallen so readily into the routine of his new engagements, and to have adapted itself so happily to the aim of divine Providence, that we cannot but conceive he must have previously felt his farming occupation to be irksome, and that some native distaste must have, at least, prepared him to listen favourably to the first proposal of quitting Latchinden; and which must have kept him from availing himself of his friend Laver's invitation, during the long and most anxious period of a year and a half, in which he had been destitute of all employment. He does not, however, appear to have been conscious of any aspiring thoughts, or of any ambition for a less laborious and more intellectual occupation than that of farming; and so low were his spirits, and so wretched his situation, during one considerable period of his abode with his uncle and aunt, that he would have accepted the most menial station to have avoided the uneasiness of an idle body, and the frettings of a vacant mind.
His scholastic engagement with Mr. English was, as might be judged, of rather an humble kind. Though Mr. Cooke had received a plain and useful education at Maldon, he had been instructed in little more than the ordinary branches of an English education, connected with the rudiments of Latin. But he had not been long at Wooburn, before his taste for mental improvement began to display itself. His leisure hours were more carefully and industriously devoted to reading, to devotion, and to literature. Wooburn is a rural and retired village, embosomed in the chalk-hills of Buckinghamshire, but situated in a most lovely and fertile vale, at a distance from great roads and all scenes of traffic and gaiety. It afforded him favourable quiet, and almost unbroken seclusion for the