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of the universe should have such an acknowledgment paid him by his creatures, for he hath given us body, soul, and every comfort.
"2. Some have wished us embarrassed in money matters; thank God they are disappointed; and I pray my God to impress the sin upon their minds, and then forgive it for ever.
"3. The builder, himself a subscriber, and long a professor, has acted in an arbitrary, ungrateful manner; has led us into many unnecessary expenses: and had he not been opposed would have gone further. This proves, that though God's children should be harmless as doves, they ought to be wise as serpents. Carnal professors will cheat real Christians. As soon as the building was finished, this man lost the job of building a private dwelling-house through his unprecedented conduct. This was God's requiting hand.
"4. Two of the subscribers to the old meeting refused to subscribe to this. No work for God meets with the approbation of all.
"5. One of the subscribers to the old meeting opposed us at every step from first to last, and pleaded that the old meeting would last our lives. The Lord change and forgive his narrow mind, and grant him a greater regard for God, his cause, and posterity. This man has shown me how little he believes in his Bible, and has made me pray much for him, and the church especially, when the building was going on.
"6. The men employed in the work were very dishonest. Almost every meal they stole time; twice, nay three times, their allowed time. We or the master must be cheated. Poor souls, I pity them, and think of the reckoning day they have to meet.
"7. It cost half as much again as was supposed. How few count the cost before they begin in soul matters! How liable to mistake on this side death and eternity. The weather was extremely favourable, especially at the first, and seemed to say, go forward.'
8. One poor wicked man in the town who envied us the place, found his envy and malice increasing every time he passed the meeting, and at last wished somebody would join with him, and he would burn it to the ground. I bless the Lord that he prevented him, and brought the man to the old meeting, and seized his rebellious heart. He now sees, feels, and trembles under his guilt. He is pricked to the heart. The Lord forward his work in him!
"9. My soul often feared the people would be too much
elated with it; but I think the fall of *** has made us walk with fear and rejoice with trembling. I am sure it has me at least.
"10. How often when walking by it have I thought, well if God should take me to a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; how cheerfully should I sacrifice my wish of preaching in this new meeting!
“11. În the morning it was opened, at the prayer meeting, three engaged in prayer, and all shut up through fear. This rather added to my discouragement.
"12. After reading a chapter, I found much liberty in my first public address to God in that place, but such an effect had my fear, and the smell of the paint on my body, that had not God sent a neighbouring minister to engage for me in the afternoon, I doubt whether I could have gone through the day's work. Many came who never heard before. God will be just in their aggravated ruin, if they never hear again. I hope the poor builders will not be shut out of the ark. Nor the subscribers to the meeting be a mere scaffold to God's church! May the inhabitants of Maidenhead never find. their hell the hotter for this convenient place of worship."
Thus auspicious was the commencement of Mr. Cooke's labours in the ministry. Although a young man, he had undergone such trials as entitle him to be described as already old in experience, and in the knowledge of the world. Bitter as were the sufferings he had endured, they were of inestimable importance in fitting him for that species of public station, which has a special and intimate connexion with the human heart, and the characters of men. Few young ministers enter upon that important office with such insight into human nature, or with the same measure of practical discrimination and decision. His period of retirement at Wooburn had been sedulously improved; and though his stock of knowledge was not large, and his educational advantages, among the least which Providence had bestowed, yet he entered upon his widening sphere of labour, in full possession of all the most material requisites for the successful discharge of the ministerial function.
From the date of the erection of his new meeting-house, his course was one of exemplary piety, of eminent and extensive usefulness, and of the anxious and painful cultivation of personal piety. His public career as a preacher became highly encouraging. His popularity increased both at home and abroad, with the improvement he was enabled
to make, in all the qualifications of a preacher and a pastor. But lest he should be exalted above measure, God left him not free from the thorn which daily reminded him how weak a thing is man, and how vain a thing is all the world, without God. In the midst of his ministerial prosperity, and while many were rejoicing in his light, he fell into great dejection and distress.
Several causes conspired to produce this mental uneasiness. There were some who had professed a warm and sincere attachment to his ministry, whose love turned into hatred; there were others, who wished him to say peace, when there was no peace; and there were some who even acted the assassin's part-and while they approached with smiles, aimed to plant a deadly blow. His own spirit was too tender, and his nature too generous; and therefore sometimes he was wounded, and sometimes he was oppressed. But the Lord stood by him, as by Paul of old, and made his enemies often ashamed before him. He shrunk not from all the trials incident to the faithful discharge of his Master's work: but irrespective of the favour of any man, and in the fear of no man's frown, he laboured to approve himself unto God. There was always in Mr. Cooke a singular measure of fidelity, but mingled with kindness, in administering reproofs: yet these are what the professors of Christianity can least patiently tolerate. Few men could offer reproof with more affection, and none with more point; yet he often made himself secret and malignant enemies, by his conscientious attention to this part of what he conceived to be his duty. At the outset of his ministry, his reproofs and admonitions stung and exasperated some of his professed friends into the bitterest and most deadly antipathy. Some whose unholy lives or base actions he had detected, treated him with scorn, or sought revenge upon the disturber of their false peace, by endeavouring to blast his fair fame. Though these things effected no change in the bulk of his congregation, and never for a moment shook or intimidated the steadfastness of his resolution, yet they filled his soul with grief, and often struck a barbed and poisoned arrow to his heart.
But, in addition to all this, it must be recorded, that his own soul was brought into darkness and fear-deep darkness, and confounding fear. Severe temptations of various kinds were allowed to harass his spirits; and for a length of time his religious alternations became extreme. Perhaps few
persons have gone through deeper waters of soul-trouble. He describes himself, in his papers, as frequently sunk for days together-sometimes for weeks or months, into an abyss of mental agony and perplexity. His was no feigned affliction of the spirit, nor fanatical and hypocritical selfabasements-for they were secret. His papers now reveal them and his friends, in his later years, have heard him refer to them, but at the time they were invisible"the soul's dread secret"-the worm that inwardly consumed the bud of his hopes and his joys. He could say, "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath." All the time, he appears to have proceeded in the duties of his office, without manifesting any of those inward convulsions of soul that frequently went nigh to shipwreck his hopes, or tear up the whole course of nature. Happily for him, in all these bitter conflicts, he appears never to have lost sight of the throne of grace; or if, for a short season, he restrained prayer, through the fear that he was a reprobate, yet hope soon revived, and the humble penitent spirit of the child brought him back, with deeper contrition and more earnest entreaties, to his Father's throne of grace.
But this long and dreary season of fiery trial was designed at once, to give an insight into his own moral and spiritual weakness, and to enhance to his feelings, as well as to his judgment, the delivering grace which he was called to preach to others. His happiest talent, that of touching powerfully the tenderest point in each man's case, of probing at once, the chief seat of a sinner's trouble, he doubtless acquired, in this long and dreary interval of perplexity. It made him know himself, and thereby all others. It led him to search the Scriptures with anxious and persevering solicitude; it contributed to confirm, by severely trying his faith; it gave him a minute insight into Satan's devices, and it taught him, by dire necessity, to become a wrestling Jacob. From this long refinement in the furnace of temptation, he came forth, fitter for the master's use. His self-knowledge and self-control were eminently promoted by the conflict, and from it resulted, in an eminent degree, that weight and gravity of speech-that tendency to useful conversation, and determinate resistance of levity, for which he became distinguished. The following extract from his diary, written when he was in part extricated from the entanglements of the temptation, will illustrate its beneficial effect, and the deep concern which it produced to turn every opportunity of doing good to the best of uses.
"April, 20, 1785. My soul, remember, the pinnacle of honour you stand on is the highest of all offices in this lower world! Watch over thy conversation, and let it be grave as to the manner of it; humble and sincere in the intention. Never speak without a good design. Let the subject be profitable to men's souls in special; because, this is thy peculiar office. Avoid those light and trifling tales, that defile thy memory, and deaden thy affections. Render what is spoken acceptable, by an amiable manner, that shall engage rather than disgust. Let others know, by the kindest replies, that you regard what they say, and endeavour to graft some important hint upon their observations, that may give it both weight and lustre; and be sure not to arrogate any glory to self."
"Remember, also, that the eyes of all are upon thee. 1. The eyes of the world. They have an envious eye: it watches for thy halting, and lingers for thy sin. How will they exaggerate it? It will not be the same when it comes round to thee again. 2. The eyes of almost-christians: and they are glad to glut their eyes with your faults, and make them some excuse for their own. 3. The devil's eye is very narrowly watching to get an errand to God against you, -matter to stain Christ's cause; to harden the wicked, and trouble and weaken your own soul. 4. The eyes of Christians are looking to every motion of your life, for something more than others, and meet with a discouraging disappointment without it, to your disgrace. And 5. God's omniscient eye is upon thee, while his promise follows thee with its encouraging voice. "To him that orders his conversation aright, will I shew the salvation of God." And "Every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof, in the day of judgment.' A book of remembrance is written. The Lord hearkens. They are my jewels, saith he. O for such a savour of divine things! that I might make known the truth of Solomon's assertion, that "the well-spring of wisdom is as a flowing brook." May my heart burn within me, while I thus speak, and my tongue be as choice silver. That speaking out of the abundance of my heart, I may find my words as goads to others in their way to heaven."
The bitter conflict to which I have so largely referred, continued for many months. Occasionally he recovered a peaceful frame, and attained to a good hope; but again the enemy came in like a flood. In some portions of this gloomy season, the very principles of his faith, and the evidence of experience itself, was shaken. The foundation of all religion