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MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOHN COOKE, LATE PASTOR OF THE INDEPENDENT CHURCH AT MAIDENHEAD, BERKSHIRE.
An authority not to be disputed his mother, brought to her hushas affirmed, “they that turn many band, by marriage, several valuto righteousness shall shine as the able estates, all of which, with stars for ever and ever.” That such the exception of one, were sold. was the success attending the la- Out of three children, John, the bours of the eminent individual, subject of this memoir, was the whose memoirs we bave now to only one that grew up. Both the record, abundant witnesses on earth others died while young. At the and in heaven can testify; and that age of five Mr. Cooke lost his mosuch is the resplendent and eternal ther, for whom, though then scarcehonour to which his spirit is now ly sensible of his loss, he appears advanced, none can doubt who to have formed a remarkable affecknew his character, or who believes tion, so as to have been able, many the God of truth. If, then, such years after, to recollect her love is the rank he has attained among for him, and the circumstances of the glorified witnesses that sur- her last sickness and death. The round the throne of God, it were dying mother committed her two assuredly not befitting that the sons to the care of an only sister, church below should be left with- who promised to act the part of a out some memorial, however im- mother by them, but who entirely perfect and inadequate, of excel- betrayed the trust reposed in her. lencies which heaven had long Soon after the death of his mother designated, and has at last appro- he lost his younger brother, and, priated to itself. To withhold the owing to the unkindness and nerecord of his virtues were to inflict glect of his father, was taken under a second stroke, and incur another the care of an uncle and aunt, who loss, more severe than that felt by resided near his father's house. his removal. Death has torn from From this period, his lot was scarceus the living image of the man, ly better than that of an unprothat Eternity might perpetuate the tected orphan. His father took fruits of grace, and Immortality little care of him, and at one peinvest them with undecaying youth; riod he was nearly starved to death, but it would be both an infamy and through the cruelty of a woman to a loss to the church, if she suffered whom he had been committed. At oblivious Time to rob her of the in- this crisis, it appeared there still spiring recollection of his name. remained a small landed estate,
Mr. Cooke was born in London, which could not be alienated by in the year 1760. His father was the father from his son Jolin. It a tradesman in respectable circum- was but too evident, by his neglect stances, and lived in St. George's of his child, that he would have in the East. Mrs. Sarah Cooke, rejoiced in the removal of every N. S. No.25.
obstacle to his appropriation of this than a brother-closer than a moproperty. _But the motherless babe ther's sisters, or even a father. The found a Protector on high, who Lord gave me favour in the sight watched over his tender years, and of this man, and in him, as God's raised
friends for him on earth, agent, the fatherless' John Cooke although basely forsaken of his found mercy. My God, reward nów profligate father. Jolin Cooke his paternal kindness, by answering was sent by his aunt and uncle to my prayers for bim-the prayers Letchingden, in Essex. It appears of grateful anguish for his salvato have been while he resided there tion. If I forget thee, my best that a kind Father in heaven raised earthly friend, let my right hand him up a most unexpected protec- forget its cunning.'” During his retor and guardian. The estate which sidence at the farm, which was for he inherited was copyhold. Upon the purpose of bringing him up to this a fine of £40. became due; the farming business, he expebut the child had no friend to pay rienced many singular deliverances it. A gentleman in the neigh- from danger and death, which he bourhood hearing that there was has recorded in his Memoranda. a friendless child to whom it be- We are constrained, however, to longed, and who had no guardian pass over these occurrences. One but a sottish father, who bad vir- remarkable event which he wittually forsaken him, voluntarily nessed, and which made a deep came forward and paid the fine. impression upon bis mind while yet Unless this kind act had been done a boy, may be found related, in by this unknown friend, the estate his own impressive manner, in our must have been sold, and conse- Magazine for FEBRUARY 1818, quently alienated from him. While signed Veritas, and entitled ReJohn was kept at school, this gen- markable Judgment. tleman often sent for him on the His father died in a fit of intoxicaSabbath days, and endeavoured to tion, a year or two after he had been console and encourage him, and sent to the farm in Essex—a death afterwards paid annually a sum of truly awful, the circumstances of money for his board. The person which he records with deep anguish. to whom he had been committed After having lived about twelve was a Mr. Laver, who rented and years with his kind friend at the farmed the estate which belonged farm, and enjoyed the advantages of to John in virtue of his mother. education afforded at the neighHere he continued till he was bouring town of Malden, it was eighteen years of age. Mr. Laver, proposed by his uncle and aunt in the person with whom he lived, London, that he should leave his formed for him a singular affection, master. This was a great and difand treated him as his own child. ficult task to accomplish, as their His kindness made the deepest im- mutual attachment was so great, pression in the heart of Mr. Cooke. that it seemed almost impossible Referring to this period, he says, to shake it. However, at length “ I wished to live and die with it was effected, and the youth was him. Thus, when my father and persuaded it was for his benefit mother forsook me, the Lord took and improvement that he should me up:
Mr. Laver's affection grew leave the farm, and see with my growth, and strengthened more of business and the world. with my strength; and he spared The real intention of his relatives me as a man spareth his own son seems to have been widely different that serveth him. I found in Mr. from the pretended one. His uncle, J. Laver a father and a mother, instead of becoming his protector, and a friend that sticketh closer had fallen into his father's courses,
and now endeavoured to inveigle babe. God girded him for the the youth into an abyss of vice conflict against the false friends and infamy, in which body and and seductive snares with which soul must have been ruined, but he was surrounded, although then for that singular hand of provi- he knew not from whence it came. dence which was over him for good. At length Johu Cooke and his Though the worthy individual to uncle arrived in town. He was whose care his childhood bad been brought there under the pretence entrusted does not appear to have of forwarding his worldly interest ; been a pious man, yet he was but he soon saw that his property, honest-hearted, affectionate, and and not himself, was the object of just; and when the time came, he their anxiety. They kept him withsuffered not his young friend to out any sort of occupation for a leave him without intimating his year and a half, enjoying the infears that his relatives had other come of his little estate. At ends than those of kindness in length his aunt died, and the drawing him to London. This wretched uncle remained his sole too soon became apparent. The guardian. His friends had spent very uncle who bad come from his money which they had retown to be his guide, as soon as ceived on his account; and now he bad got him from under the he was left to roam at large about paternal roof of his friend Mr. London, without occupation or obLaver, endeavoured, by all the ject, except that he himself was means in his power, to betray him earnestly set upon procuring some into a state of intoxication. But situation in which he might be inour young friend, wbo appears dustriously and honestly engaged. even from his boyhood to have The length of time that elapsed, possessed an unusual degree of and the wretched state of his self-possession, was on his guard, uncle's home and affairs, together and resisted every attempt.
His with disappointment in many atuncle, while in Essex, took him tempts to procure a situation, proon a visit to some relations at Col- duced an uneasy and painful state chester, where he was introduced of mind. His thoughts turned into scenes of flagrant vice, which ward, and every thing appeared cannnt be named. Indeed, it gloomy. He wandered for many seemed as if Satan himself had months about town au idle, unassumed the person of his uncle, happy, friendless youth. One day to draw an unthinking youth into he entered casually a place of his deadly snare. But the very worship. A Scotch minister was grossness of the attempt to seduce preaching upon an awful subject; him into sin revolted his feelings- but our friend felt it to be approopened to him the secret of his priate. The terrors of condemnarelatives' intentions—and thence- tion impressed his mind; conforward put him upon his guard. science said “ Amen” to all the The snare was broken, and he terrible things the preacher proescaped. He saw that they aimed claimed. The effect wore off, but at his destruction, and that the the hand of God led him soon after very aunt who had promised his to the Tabernacle in Moorfields. dying mother that she would be Mr. Kinsman, from Plymouth, was a mother to the child, was longing preaching. The sermon made a to see his end, that she and hers deep impression. Speaking of it, might enjoy the property which Mr. Cooke says—“I dare not prethey could not keep from him. sume to say I was or was not conBut a gracious God watched over verted before this sermon. My the youth as well as over the tender mind, before this, had been en
lightened, but not so much im- son for debt. “ In which place, pressed.”—“ But before I heard
“I kept him any gospel sermon, many circum- long
as my purse would last. stances prepared for it; for not While I did so, all was well; but long before my aunt died, I was no longer. My whole substance terrified with the most alarming was his artful aim.”
It appears dreams for near three full weeks, that this infamous man first took until I feared the bed as hell. 1 a false oath against the innocent dreamed but one thing every night, and generous youth, by which he namely, as soon as my senses were endeavoured to prove against him locked in sleep, I thought I felt the a debt of £200.; this schenje faildevil with two hands on my neck, ing, to the disgrace of the uncle, and his knees on my breast; and after being brought into court, he when I awoke from this hell upon next proceeded to employ two earth, so strong was it upon my unprincipled lawyers, if possible to imagination, that I could but cry take his life! the charge was, that out with all my strength, Murder! he had robbed his uncle. At this murder! This method God took extraordinary crisis, unknown to with Job, to hide pride and self- the unprotected youth, a gentlesufficiency from him. (Job vii. 14.) man, with whom he was This immediately set me to pray. quainted, went to see his uncle in Sometimes I read nearly all the the Marshalsea Prison, to whom Psalms through before I entered he told his intention of prosecutmy bed, and thus became a Pha- ing his nephew for a robbery. risee of the strictest sect. But this This gentleman asked him, what not answering the end, he suffered John Cooke had robbed him of ? me not to rest here, but sent an- After long hesitation, he could other messenger, more alarming, give no satisfactory answer, and with heavy tidings' to me, even the gentleman left him, saying, to me.”-From this period he be- that “if he did not prove his came a regular attendant at the nephew guilty of the crime charged, Tabernacle, and continued so until he would himself lose his own life he had obtained some knowledge thereby.” This sentence alarmed of the way of salvation, and some the base wretch, and he proceeded comfort from his knowledge. He no further in bis design. Thus then applied to the minister for a the unprotected orphan was again ticket of admission to the Lord's delivered by an unseen hand, and Supper. The minister made par- all the plans of his cruel foes, ticular inquiries into his situation who ought to have been his best and employment in life. This led friends, utterly frustrated to a full disclosure of bis affairs, His interview with Mr. Wilks, and the relation in which he stood to which we lately referred, terto his uncle. This conversation minated in a recommendation of induced the minister to procure an him to the Rev. Mr. English, of interview between the young John Woburn, Bucks, who at that time Cooke and the Rev. Matthew kept an academy. Mr. Cooke Wilks, of which we must speak, accordingly removed from London, after noticing some remarkable and and took up his residence as an distressing circumstances which oc- assistant with Mr. English. This curred about this time.
one of the most important After the death of his aunt, steps in his whole life, as it subit appears, that through intem- sequently led to his engagements perance and imprudence, his uncle's in the ministry, and to his settleaffairs became embarrassed, and ment at Maidenhead. This event at length he was thrown into pri- took place in the end of the year