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calm and unruffled will be his subsequent labours. Those who have concluded hastily, or whose minds have proceeded to the act of self-dedication by a shorter and more direct course, are frequently found, in after life, to doubt their own call; not a few such have been known to sink under difficulties, and some to retrace their steps to private life, or a secular calling. Let no man then rashly put his hand to the plough, neither let him regret the severity or the length of the incipient trial, since it is manifestly adapted to impart stability to his resolution, and to cheer every future scene of his ministry with the exhilarating consciousness of being "called of God, as was Aaron."
• Mr. Cooke's mind had been anxiously exercised, in reference to the work of the ministry, from the earliest stage of his religious experience. Young converts, especially if their conversion has been sudden, or very joyful, commonly experience a serious desire to become useful to others, and many aspire to the thought of preaching. But in most cases it is not a permanent desire. Difficulties and fears suppress it; or a consciousness of inability, induced by a little reflection, enforces them to remain in an humbler station. Frequently the desire accompanies our state of " first love," or arises out of the first joyous discovery of the importance and excellence of the Gospel. Then it subsides, as the great themes of redemption lose their novelty, or as the rapture of first enjoyments pass away. But the case was different with Mr. C. Perhaps in this he differed not from most men who have been divinely called to the ministry. His desire to serve God increased as his mind became familiar with the truth. The more he studied the Scriptures, the more enamoured did he become with the grace of the Gospel, and the more zealous to proclaim it to his fellows. His arduous employment had no effect in damping his zeal. Opportunities of mental improvement developed talents of a very peculiar order, and from the crisis of circumstances in which Providence placed him, by seeming to open one door as soon as another was shut, and by making his first attempts at public speaking, so far acceptable as to induce a regular congregation, and a church which had been established nearly a century, to invite him to their pulpit for six months-all these things concurring with the hidden thought of his heart, which had never slept for two years, contributed to give his first step a firmness, a manly port, which marked all his future progress.
It was about the year 1783, and when not more than twenty
three years of age, that he accepted the first invitation of the church at Maidenhead to supply them for three months. He fulfilled his engagement, but finding, at the expiration of that period, that they were not unanimous, the probation was lengthened to three months more. It appears that the question could not, even then, be decided to the satisfaction of all parties, and he accordingly left them, and returned to his lodging at Wooburn for nearly three months.
In April, 1784, he received another invitation to supply as a candidate at Maidenhead, for six months more. To this he acceded. During either the first or second of these periods of probation, an unhappy disagreement arose between him and the Rev. Mr. English. The history of this painful misunderstanding between two individuals of such acknowledged excellence, and who had previously been so closely connected, may be given in few words. Mr. Cooke had inadvertently expressed some opinions concerning Mr. English to an individual, who betrayed his confidence, and communicated them to a second gossip, who, with various exaggerations and misrepresentations, imparted them to some of Mr. English's friends. Mr. Cooke was charged with having endeavoured to divide Mr. E.'s church, although such a purpose had never entered his mind. Much investigation followed, the result of which was, an acknowledgment, on Mr. C.'s part, of imprudence and a want of circumspection, in having confided his opinions to an individual whom he ought not to have trusted. Mr. English and his friends professed themselves satisfied with his acknowledgments, but subsequently acted in a manner not creditable to their own professions. Mr. E. even went so far as to exert his influence to prevent Mr. C. from settling at Maidenhead, and told some of Mr. Cooke's warmest friends, that they must dismiss him, although Mr. E. distinctly acknowledged that nothing sinful or criminal could be laid to his charge. Such conduct led to great uneasiness and distress of mind on Mr. C.'s part. Some of his professed friends proved themselves bitter and concealed enemies. In the meantime, however, God gave him success. His ministry was greatly blessed, and, notwithstanding all the efforts both of concealed and open enemies, the church maintained its preference for him, and finally invited him to accept the pastoral office.
At this period, so great was his acceptance and usefulness as a preacher, that he received invitations from two other neighbouring congregations-Uxbridge and Chesham. His
inclination and the finger of Providence at last fixed him at Maidenhead, and there he resolved, notwithstanding the severe trials he had experienced in the opposition of some of his first friends, to make his abode.
But so busy had been the tongue of slander, and so inventive the suspicious mind in laying to his charge things of which he was perfectly innocent, that considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining the concurrence of respectable ministers at his ordination. Some objected on the ground of his not having received a college-education, and others on the basis of the vague rumours of his disagreement with Mr. English. But though his feelings were deeply wounded and his faith severely tried by these perplexities at the outset of his course, they appear only to have drawn his soul nearer to God, and to have excited at once the natural firmness of his mind, and the energy of the holy principles he professed. He says, "the scourge of the tongue went deep into my soul." At length, as I was mournfully musing in the bitterness of my soul, Job's words saluted my ear, and their salutary effects I felt warmly upon my heart the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' The next morning I told Mr. English that I could, with a happy resignation, give him up. He told me it was one thing to say Job's words, and another to feel them. I answered, that I could both say them and feel their power. You were my friend, said I: the Lord gave you, he knew what end you would answer, how long your friendship should continue. The Lord that gave you has taken you away. Blessed be his name, as much for the latter as the former.-The voice of God now seasonably said All things shall work together for good.' I could appeal to God with Peter, that I loved him. I saw by faith my title to that promise. Its extensive nature, all things came with sweetness. I saw that this was one of the ingredients in the ALL; and by great and small, yea, and contrary means, God makes them work together, not alone."
It is gratifying to be able to state, that this painful alienation of these excellent men was subsequently removed, and that they lived in the interchange of neighbourly and brotherly kindness for many years. I find from Mr. C.'s papers, that he frequently preached for Mr. English in the latter period of that gentleman's ministry. The prejudices, however, excited at this time in the minds of some good men, through the influence of Mr. English's friends, threw considerable obstacles
in Mr. Cooke's way, when he began to make arrangements for his ordination. He was several days in London, and during that period underwent the severest mental anguish, from the hesitation or refusals of different ministers, before he could find one disposed to bestow upon him the requisite sanction. Even in the connexion where he first received the knowledge and comfort of the truth, he met with unkind repulses. Still John Cooke, though at the early age of twentyfour, was not to be overcome by suspicions and charges, which he knew to be groundless. He, therefore, silently bore the opposition of friends and enemies; left his righteous cause in the hands of God; and proceeded to invite the aid of some liberal minded and candid man, who scrupled not to give his sanction to a brother who had been to no college but that of Jesus Christ; and who would, for the sake of justice and religion, take upon himself the trouble of investigating the unfounded suspicions which the tongue of calumny had raised.
Such an upright and noble spirited friend he at last found in the Rev. Joseph Barber, then pastor of the old dissenting church in Aldermanbury Postern. Mr. Cooke happened to call upon him in the evening. He was a bluff, but kindhearted man; plain in his address, but venerable, and very open and frank in his manner. He received the youth, and heard his request; listened to his recital of his difficulties and trials, for Mr. Cook did not conceal his peculiar circumstances, nor dissemble his lack of academic honours. To all these things Mr. Barber listened, and put many inquiries. At length he invited Mr. C. to engage in family prayer. He consented, and led the devotions in such a strain of Christian sentiment and feeling, as delighted the venerable pastor. "Well, young man," said he, rising from his knees, "don't be discouraged if no other ministerial brether will unite with me, I will ordain you myself alone; for I am persuaded God hath endowed you for the work." This cheered the spirits of the youthful applicant, and he returned home satisfied and contented. Mr. Barber, to attain satisfaction and adequate testimonials, investigated the charges which had been whispered against Mr. C. This scrutiny terminated in his cordial approbation and hearty concurrence in the ordination, which took place at Maidenhead, on the 1st of October, 1784. The ministers who assisted were, the Rev. Joseph Barber, the Rev. John Winter, of Newbury, the Rev. Robert Winter, now D.D., of London, and the Rev. Mr. Noon, of Reading. From the period of his ordination, an eminent blessing`at
tended the labours of Mr. Cooke. The church and congregation increased, many signs of good accompanied his ministerial exertions, and a pleasing spirit of piety and zeal pervaded his congregation. In less than a year, the old meeting-house was found much too small to accommodate the increasing numbers, which his ministry attracted, both from the town and the neighbouring villages. Proposals were set on foot by the people themselves for a new and larger place of worship. Divine Providence had by this time given him great favour in the eyes both of his own people and those of the neighbouring churches; his services were highly esteemed, and frequently sought in other places; and those difficulties and trials which at first perplexed and impeded his steps were removed, or gradually mitigated. The people manifested a strong attachment, and liberally contributed among themselves the whole sum requisite for the erection of a substantial and commodious chapel, capable of accommodating about 700 persons. A great burden of care and anxiety was the consequence of this undertaking; but he had the satisfaction of seeing the building at length completed, and opened for divine worship, on the 18th of September, 1785. His diary contains some very interesting remarks and reflections, written on or near the day of the opening, which, as they are strikingly characteristic of the man, I shall here introduce.
"Sunday, September 18, 1785. This day our new meetinghouse was opened, having been completed in less than a year. How many fears possessed my throbbing heart. I reasoned, I prayed, I strove, and all too little to embolden a mind sensible, deeply sensible of its own weakness, and the greater talents possessed by those I expected would hear me. Let me enrol this convenient place for the worship of my God among my many favours from Heaven. Let it be as another cord twisted with the rest to bind my soul to the warmest gratitude, and the most cheerful obedience to my Maker's laws. The place is not for man, but the Lord God. The materials, the money, all were the Lord's. Of his own have we given him. I bless the Lord for blessing the people with a willing heart. May they never be one farthing the poorer for what they have given. It was first proposed by my friend ***. I nourished the thought with fear and trembling. It was no sooner proposed by us to the subscribers than assented to. They all contributed cheerfully, to all appearance, who did contribute any thing; and the Lord loves a cheerful giver. How reasonable, how becoming is it, that the eternal owner