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MEMOIR OF MRS. MARY FINCH WALKER,
LATE WIFE OF THE REV. JOSEPH WALKER, OF LUTON :
BY THE REV. JOHN BROWN.
It is a
The following notices will be found to be, for the most part, “autobiographical.” The life of Mrs. Walker was unmarked by any peculiarly striking incident; and the object of the writer being to exhibit the developement of her character, and to point out the regularity of her proceedings, till death affixed the stamp of “endurance to the end," the plan he has adopted, of making copious extracts from her papers, only connecting them by a few explanatory remarks, appears to be the best that could have been pursued. The leading occurrences of Christian biography are those which relate, not to this outward, transitory, and perishing state, but to the kingdom that cannot be moved, the life that is hid with Christ in God, and the efforts which are intended to secure the recompence of eternal reward. particular view of the movements which take place in “ the land of the" spiritually “ living."
Mary Finch Walker, whose maiden name was Cozens, was born at Canterbury, February 13th, 1796. Being the child of religious parents, and from her infancy trained up in attendance on the means of grace, we shall not be surprised to find the following references to the youthful portion of her life. She says:
5 At a very early period, I can recollect the Spirit of God convincing me of the evil and sinfulness of my nature, and of my unfitness to appear before God, without some change being wrought within me; but of its nature, or how it was to be accomplished, I was quite ignorant.
" When between eleven and twelve years of age, I was more powerfully affected. I used frequently to retire for private prayer, reading the Bible and Wesley's Hymns; and, at those seasons, enjoyed much comfort. But, alas ! these feelings were like the early cloud or morning dew. I soon found a disposition within me rising up in opposition to the secret teachings of the good Spirit; and, not being fully acquainted with the way of coming to God through Christ, my desires grew cold, my private devotions were more seldom performed, my attachment to religious ordinances decreased, I lost my relish for divine things, and began to desire nothing so much as to be conformed to the VOL, JI.-FOURTH SERIES.
customs of the world, and to follow its vanities. I gave way to bad
that I began again feebly to pray for a deeper sense of my sinfulness, and to feel my folly in having proved unfaithful to my former vows. Still, I knew not the way of salvation. The Spirit's operations were so gradual as to elude the observation of pious people ; and, being naturally reserved, I could not bring myself to converse on the subject. When with worldly persons, I frequently drank into their spirit, and gave way to levity, my besetting sin. In the autumn of the same year, I went on a visit to A- where not having one serious acquaintance, I so fully yielded to my trifling spirit, that when I returned home, I felt little inclined to
• Perform my oft- repeated vow,
And render God my heart.'
“In my absence, my dear and only brother began to meet in class. He now invited me to attend the week-evening services and prayermeetings. I was not much disposed for this; yet I did not refuse ; and the truths that I heard were deeply impressed on my heart.. My brother spoke to me on meeting in class. For some time I objected, knowing how easily I was overcome by levity and anger. I thought, too, that I should not be able to express myself properly; and as I was not willing to appear as ignorant of spiritual things as I really was, I persisted in refusing. After much persuasion, however, I at length ventured to go."
This appears to have been on December 14th, 1811. But although she had not consented till after much persuasion had been employed, yet, her consent having been given, there was no subsequent hesitation. And she soon found so much pleasure in these new associations, and derived so much advantage from them, that she never afterwards wavered, but continued faithful to her engagements, as a member of Christian society, so long as life continued.
Mrs. Walker did not experience those powerful awakenings or great terrors by which some are moved in the early part of their religious course; but, using her own expression, she was actuated by “a secret desire to serve God, and forsake sin;" and this led her to a diligent attendance on all the means of grace, where she often experienced a degree of pleasure arising from hope, and was enabled to maintain a careful consistency in her whole behaviour. A feeling of the absence of what was necessary to her happiness, and a consciousness that it could be found only in the enjoyment of God, prompted her to seek, by every method in her power, what she regarded as the pearl of great price." The deep and humbling views she had of herself as a sinner, her devout and sorrowful confession of sin, the fervent breathings of her soul after God, and her determined perseverance in seeking to know her sins forgiven, appear from numerous passages in her diary. I give a few.
January 1st, 1813.--Another
year is fled, never to be recalled. How have I spent this year? I am a worm of earth. Hadst thou, Lord, been strict to mark my sin, I should have been where hope
Last night Mr. Ranson preached on the barren fig-tree. I felt condemned. O Lord, save me! Have mercy on me, O Lord !
“17th.--Another Sabbath. I praise the Lord, who suffers me to exist. Lord, humble me as in dust and ashes! There is not a leaf, nor a flower, nor a single atom, but it shows thy Godhead. Shall I, whom thou hast formed for nobler purposes, not answer the end of my creation? Shall I not serve thee with all my powers; and, while it is called to-day, labour to gain the one thing needful ?" This “ thing needful" she thus describes :—“I want not to rest till I can cry, 'Abba, Father,' by the Spirit of adoption. Never shall I find rest but in thee, O God! Give me now the blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ.' It is a present blessing that I need. Give me a wrestling spirit
, till I prevail.” “This day my soul has been athirst for salvation. Unbelief still keeps me from enjoying what it is my privilege to possess, - to know that I am adopted into God's family, and made an heir of eternal life. May I come as an undone sinner, depending only on Jesus Christ my Lord! O that I could realize my God, as reconciled through Christ! Give me faith to claim thee as mine.” Tender consciences sometimes mistake the want of mental energy, induced by physical weakness, for spiritual deadness; and attribute the timidity and irresolution occasioned by feeble health, to a want of sincerity. “Since I wrote last, I have had many changes. At times I have felt great deadness, partly through my deceitful heart, and partly through bodily affliction. Ať other times I have felt much in earnest. At present I am pressing after salvation. I want faith now to “behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world."" What she so earnestly sought, she at length happily found :May 30th, 1814.-Bless the Lord, I can now look up
and call God Father. With nearly fifty of our friends, I went to Charthamhatch, about four miles from Canterbury, to take tea. The greater part of the afternoon, my mind was in a distracted frame. At tea, the Rev. Joseph Taylor requested Miss Kingsford to give us some account of her religious experience. She did so, with great clearness; and many of us were much affected by what she said. In the evening Mr. Taylor preached. I felt more than I wished those around me to perceive. My pride was not yet humbled, and I did not wish to appear as a mourning sinner. After the service, a meeting for prayer was held. My brother and I stayed; and I thought that, when I knelt down, I would give vent to my feelings, as no one would see me. But a young woman turned round, and addressed me in a few brief sentences, intended to direct and encourage me. But my spirit rose at the idea of being taught by a poor servant-girl. I made no reply, but thought I would silently pray to God for mercy. My heart was full ; but my sighing was heard, and some one told me to be in earnest, and I should obtain deliverance. I looked round, to see if any one noticed my distress. I thought, “I must go from this place without a blessing; I cannot let all this company see that I have not received pardon: but again I thought that it might be the last time in which the Spirit of God would strive with me,—the last offer of mercy that I might have; and that I would submit to be humbled before men, if I might