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plurality and non-residence. May this example have its due influence on every minister of Christ !
The reader must be referred to Mr. Sidney's most instructive life of this holy parochial minister for a full account of his various plans for usefulness in his parish, and the rules of the societies which he established. It is a very useful work, not only for ministers, but for all Christians.
His system of catechising seems to have been zealously persevered in, and eminently useful; and the following Lectures will show. what use he made of the Church of England Catechism for that purpose. In an advertisement to former editions it is said, “ Before his death he intended to publish these discourses; those on the Creed chiefly excel in illustrating the tendency of the doctrines of faith to promote holiness, and those on the Commandments explain, with much force of argument, the great duties of the Christian life.”
Mr. Stillingfleet, in the short life prefixed to the former edition, says, “Had Mr. Walker lived to accomplish his design of going through the whole of the Church Catechism, the Sermons upon the moral Law, , or the Ten Commandments, which as they now appear are more particularly calculated to serve the purpose of conviction of sin, in order to enforce the necessity of taking refuge in Christ for justification, would then have been revised and made public under a different form, as holding forth likewise a rule of life to the believing professor.”
It is deeply to be regretted that this was not accomplished; for it is too much the spirit of the age, even among Christians, to regard the Law of God merely for conviction of sin, and so to throw away our true happiness, in conformity and obedience to it under evangelical motives, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, as the privilege to the enjoyment of which Christ raises his believing people. One of the characteristic features of the times in general, is lawlessness—liberty for every man to do what is right in his own eyes, unregulated by the Law of God.
In the spring of 1760, Mr. Walker, overdone with exertion and labour, became seriously ill. The hot wells of Clifton were tried in vain, as was a removal to Kington, in Warwickshire. He returned to Bristol again ; and in December 1760, at the invitation of the pious Earl of Dartmouth, he was removed to his house at Blackheath. He expired at Blackheath, on Sunday, July 19, 1761, in the forty-eighth year of his age, and the 25th of his ministry. Some of his last words were, “I go to heaven-Christ my Lord died.”
The principles which actuated Mr. Walker may be seen in the following statements from his writings:
“ The only ground of faith is God's word, on which the sinner must and can only build his belief of Christ's sufficiency, so that he must be satisfied thereof from God's mouth. There is a natural unbelief in his heart of this thing, which he cannot subdue by his own strength. It is the Spirit must show him Christ in the Scriptures."
“ The real motive to delighting in God and choosing his service, and the true ground of a due sense of
the sinfulness of sin, of self-abasement, hatred of sin, and actual rejecting it, is an evangelical sight of God. When we sinners look on God absolutely, or in the law, all his perfections are against us; because he is privy to our offences, present with us and displeased at us; he is holy, a consuming fire; he is just, a terrible enemy; he is almighty; so that in these absolute or legal views of God, instead of turning to him, we must fly from him. It is his love must draw us, and when we regard him in the Gospel as a pardoning God, all his perfections change their face; his power, holiness, justice, presence, are delightful. So that evidently the motive and principle of conversion and daily sanctification, is an evangelical sight of God, - it is faith that worketh by love."
The conversion and holy walk of Mr. Walker was connected with a blessed effusion of the Spirit of God on our country in a season of peculiar darkness, raising up such men as Grimshaw, Romaine, Talbot, Adam, Conyers, Hervey, Jones, Milner, and multitudes who followed them, and who laboured orderly in the Church of England, apart from another class led on by Whitfield and Wesley, who, though raised up in this church and professing its doctrines, laboured more out of its boundaries. Thousands and tens of thousands will for ever bless God for this revival of Evangelical Religion in our land.
The editor having received from his valued friend, W. Gray, Esq. of York, four manuscript sermons, by the Rev. John Lawson, written to complete Mr. Walker's Lectures on the Creed (which, not including the third part of that Creed, were left imperfect), he has had great pleasure in adding them in their appropriate place to this edition, making a few, very slight, alterations to adapt them to the press. They are very practical and awakening, and written in the spirit of Mr. Walker by one who manifestly trod in his steps. Mr. Gray obliged the editor with the following remarks on them.
“ With respect to the sermons on the Apostles' Creed, it has long been a matter of regret that the highly-esteemed author should have been removed from the church and the world just after he had finished two of the general heads of that interesting subject. This defect, it is hoped, will be found materially supplied by the discourses on the third of those heads, now for the first time offered to the public; considering, especially, the following peculiar circumstances of their composition :
“ These sermons are a production of the Rev. John Lawson, a highly pious young clergyman, who died about 1785, after exercising, with interruptions from ill health, a ministry of only seven years' continuance. The greater part of that time he was curate to the venerable Thomas Adam, of Wintringham, with whom he dwelt as an inmate; both of them officiating in that church. During this period, as there is every reason to believe, Mr. Lawson wrote and preached the sermons alluded to: of course, under the eye and hearing of Mr. Adam himself (then aged about eighty), the well-known friend and correspondent of Mr. Walker, * who had at that time been dead many years. Partaking, as they confessedly do, of the sound judgment, peculiar discernment, and spiritual feeling of the author of the discourses to which they are set forth as a continuation, they are freely recommended to the perusal of the reader, in the hope and prayer, that the same Divine blessing will accompany that perusal, which has so eminently been vouchsafed in the case of the former ones.”
The publications of Mr. Walker, as far as I have been able to trace them, are as follows.
In his life-time, there was published, 1. The Christian ; and also several single Sermons
and short Tracts; published afterwards under
the title of “ Practical Christianity.” Since his death, have been published, 2. Fifty-two Sermons on the Catechism. 1763. 3. Nine Sermons on the Covenant of Grace. 1788. 4. Practical Christianity, a collection of the Tracts
published in his life, with additions. 1766. This has, in part, been reprinted by the Religious
Tract Society. 5. Christ the Purifier. Ten Discourses on the Sanc
tification of Believers, published by Ambrose
Serle. 6. His Life, and Selections from his Remains, by the
Rev. E. Sidney. 1835. They are all eminently practical, on Gospel principles, the scriptural and the only effective motives,
See the particulars of this correspondence in the two first volumes of “ The Christian Observer.”