Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and Spafields. In December, 1799, Dr. Haweis strongly expressed his desire that he should accompany the missionaries in February of the following year, as an inspector, visiting the Cape, Port Jackson, Otaheite, China, and Bengal, and to return, bringing the report of the brethren to England. It was not the Lord's will, however, that he should go. In January, 1800, when in Bath, he received a letter from the Rev. J. Walker, k the minister of Bethesda Chapel (Episcopalian), Dublin, conveying the request of the General Evangelical Society of Dublin, that he should renew his visit to Ireland, with a view to carrying on the great work he had commenced. He did not immediately reply; whereupon the Rev. G. Hamilton, of Armagh, added his entreaties, and authorized him to procure two or three helpers in the same glorious work. After some unavoidable delay, he determined to revisit the Emerald Isle. Leaving Bath, he proceeded to Ebley in Gloucestershire, where he was enabled to preach with great power. Thence he went to Portsmouth, for the purpose of visiting his missionary brethren, and bidding them adieu. At Brighton he preached twice on his way to London, where he remained a fortnight, addressing crowded congregations. Once more parting with his dear and valued friends, he left England, accompanied by his wife and son, and also by the Rev. William Gregory (who was captured in the ship Duff). They landed safely in Dublin on Friday, June 13th, 1800; and on the following Sabbath Mr. Cooper commenced, or rather resumed, his labours, by preaching in Mary's Abbey in the morning, and in Plunket-street Meeting-house in the evening. He continued preaching every day either in Plunket-street, Swift's * Formerly a Fellow of Trinity College,

and editor of an edition of Lucian, and other works.

Alley, Mary's Abbey, Usher's Quay, or Alderman Hutton's dining-rooms, until the 3rd of July, when he left Dublin and set out on his missionary tour through the south of Ireland. He preached at each of the following places: —Bray, Enniskerry, Newtown Mount Kennedy, Wicklow, Arklow, Gorey, Enmiscorthy, Newtown Barry, Ross, Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Clonmel, Thurles, Cork, and Roscrea. In most of these places he was well received, although often meeting with great opposition, not only from the Roman Catholic priests, but from nominal Protestants. His life was repeatedly in danger. Threatening notices were sent to him; and the priests denounced him from the altar. None of these things alarmed or deterred him from pursuing his Master's work. In no instance did he change his plan or place of preaching because of the threatening appearances around him. Neither were the people held back from hearing him. They came in thousands from their native hills and valleys—in several instances walkingmany miles—following himfrom place to place, and often putting themselves in posts of danger to defend him from injury. He returned to Dublin, where he was more popular than ever. Crowds flocked to hear him. He remained here until after the birth of his second son, Henry. In January, 1801, he went to Limerick; and while there received a letter from the Rev. J.Walker, giving him directions from the committee to proceed in his itinerancy. He forthwith complied, preaching in Ennis, Gort, Newtown, Clare, Tuam, Aughrim, Ballina, Eyrecourt, Banagher, Beir, Tullamore, Kilbeggan, Philipstown, Rathangan, Prosperous Celbridge, Maynooth, Leislip, and Lucan, arriving once more in Dublin. Thus he continued from time to time with heart-cheering success. In July of this year, the Bishop of Limerick offered him episcopal ordination. His friends in Dublin, especially Messrs. Walker and Kelly,* were most anxious he should accept it, as a means of extending his usefulness. Perplexed, he wrote to his faithful and revered friend, Dr. Haweis, in whose reply are contained the following words: — "I certainly advise you to receive episcopal ordination under the circumstances you mention, as a very great additional means of opening doors of usefulness for you; and if my suffrage and attestation to your character will not injure, instead of benefiting you, I shall send it in the fullest manner. With respect to the oure proposed, or rather sinecure, I see no reason for your deolining it; and certainly shall wish you employed where you can be most useful, whether

in England or Ireland I think

the labourer, in your case especially, is worthy of his hire, and rather wonder that the Society which has courted you to Ireland, should not in the most liberal manner strengthen you for the work. . . Consult Mr. Walker as my own self, and be guided by his advice. Beware only of self-will and self-complaisance. . . . You have known popularity long enough to be tried, to bo tempted, and to groan, beiug burdened. Ah! my dear Cooper, all safety is to be found lying low at the cross, and in the growing disoovery of the deceitfulness of sin, and how it is wound around every fibro of the fallen heart. I pray for you, my dear son, and leave you in the best hands, [of Him] who is able to keep you from falliug, and to present you faultless before His presence in glory with exceeding great joy." Still having doubts on his mind, he visited the north of Ireland, and afterwards went to Scotland, in order that he might examine and study the subjectof church government. He returned fully satisfied of the Scriptural nature of his former ordination by Dr. Haweis, and consequently refused to accept any other.

* Author of A Plea for Primitive Christianity," &c. 12mo. Dublin, 1815.

In November, 1801, he received a very pressing call from the congregation assembling in Plunket]- street Meeting-house.* The unwillingness of his friends in England, that ho should permanently settle in Ireland, caused him to hesitate; but another and more pressing invitation in April, 1802, decided his acceptance of the pastoral charge there, which he sustained for nearly twenty-six years. The zeal and energy of character, the bold, undaunted, and enterprising spirit of the highly gifted servant of God, seemed to have marked him out as more peculiarly adapted for missionary work ; but when, in the providence of God, his sphere of usefulness became more confined and centralized, as the chosen pastor of the ^congregation assembling in Plunket-street, his great and diversified powers drew wondering and admiring thousands. His commanding appearance, the fascination of his manner, the clear and silvery tones of his powerful voioe, his intense earnestness, and the force and eloquence of his language, whilo holding forth to his attentive audience the words of eternal life, with a power which could have proceeded only from ono who had himself been taught of God, made him the most popular preacher of his time. Even in the present day, William Cooper's preaching is well remembered, and often spoken of with rapture. Although enduring great opposition, and repeatedly threatened by the infuriated Roman Catholics, whose errors and abominations he lashed with unsparing severity during each season of Lent, he continued his course of lectures, drawing crowds of these deluded people. Many afterwards confessed to himself and to others, that they had attended for the purpose of injuring him and causing disturbance, but had remained

* The history of this place of worship is identified with that of evangelical godliness in Dublin from the times of the Commonwealth.

quiet, 6truok with tlie force of his arguments drawn directly from the fountain of truth. Conviction reached the hearts of many, and chained them to the spot. It is due to the interests of truth, and to the purposes at which Christian biography should ever aim, that we should not omit to notice the infirmities which encompassed this highly gifted man and active labourer in Christ's vineyard. He was sorely tempted and tried of Satan. He knew and felt the inward corruptions of his own heart, and deeply deplored the firmly seated pride of his nature—the unbending spirit which could endure no control, and at times made bim many enemies. He mourned and grieved over the irritability and impetuosity of temper he too often displayed, and which was never wholly subdued. In the moments of despondency which sometimes oppressed him, ho trembled lest those faults and failings should prove a stumbling-block to his hearers, and hinder their reception of that gospel of which he had been so many years a minister; and in the words of Paul he would exclaim—What if, after having "preached to others, I myself should be a castaway"!

In March, 1828, a stroke of paralysis deprived him of the power of collected speech, thereby rendering him unfit for pulpit service. The remainder of bis years on earth was passed in comparative seclusion; but notwithstanding the deep inroads which disease had made on hisintellectual powers, those around him, in his own family circle, had the happi

ness of observiug that, through all impediments, his full ripening for glory was manifest as ho approached nearer to the grave. Though bowed down by the paralysis which put an end to his labours, he yet retained to the last his ministerial spirit. To a loved frioud he one day said, when speaking of tho subject of preaching so near his heart, "Should it please God to enable me to preach again, Christ would bo my only subject."

He gently fell asleep on January 22, 1848. His remains were deposited in the small grave-yard behind Zion Chapel. At the interment, tho Rev. Dr. Urwick delivered an impressive address. Revs. W. Foley and J. Stroyan, of Dublin, and W. Tarbotton, of Limerick, also took part in the services.

The following is the inscription on the tablet referred to in a preceding note :—

To the memory of
THE KEY. WILLIAM COOPER,
For twenty-five years Pastor of the Independ-
ent Church assembling in Plunket-street
Meeting House, in this city.
The attainment of his twentieth year (Aug.
28, 1796) was signalized
By his preaching to the Jews in London.
In 1799 he visited this country,
"And, for the space of three years,
Went through the towns preaching the Gospel."
His zeal was ardent and untiring,
His eloquence most powerfully impressive,
And his intrepid spirit feared no danger.
He may justly bo named
The Evangelist Op Ireland,
Through whose labours
"A great number believed, and turned to

the Lord."
He died Jan. 22, 1848, aged 71 years.

Prepare to meet thy God.

Another year has flown away,—
Eternity has swallow'd all:—its scenes,
Its changes, sorrows, joys—ail which sadden'd
Or enliven'd, aro gone, and gone for ever;
How must thit commence?"

VOICE OP TUB TEARS.

In entering on a new era of our

BEGINNING THE^ YEAR WELL.

A NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.

existence, we commence a season o. deep and peculiar lolemnity, especially when we contemplate the duties which it may involve—the trials which may bo realised during its continuance—and the bereavements which may be Bus

tained; it, thoreforc, behoves us, as reflective and responsible beings, to approach it, and enter on it, under the influence of pensivo and serious emotions, and not with the thoughtlessness, the flippancy, and the merriment of the fool.

The period, moreover, when we enter on another revolving year—and that year comprehending so much which is eventful to us in the present life, and bearing so closely, and, indeed, inseparably, on the/«t«« and eternal existence to which we are looking forward—is one associated with great and awful responsibility; and we cannot commence it aright without a sense of that responsibility being most powerfully felt, and prompting to the performance of every incumbent duty, as well as to bold and courageous grappling with every difficulty, temptation, and adversary. In the providence of God, we are spared to witness the flight of the past year, and to hail the arrival of the present, —and it is of the utmost moment, that we should form and express an individual and solemn determination — ministers and people — parents and children—masters and servants—teachers and learners, namely, that we will

Begin ike Year Well.

This resolution is most proper and wise. Nothing can be more becoming, rational, and just.

This determination is most expedient and desirable — nothing can be more connected with our happiness, or conducive, in every sense, to our best interests.

This resolve is most important and necessary, that character may be exemplified—that conduct may be regulated and improved — that excellence may be attained and increased. It is a resolution, however, which must spring from enlightened sentiments, which must be guided and moulded by the Word of God—and which must be expressed and maintained, not in our own

strength, in dependence on our own unaided resources, but in simple, in unhesitating reliance on the omnipotence of that Spirit who, by his grace, will fit us for every scene, prepare us for every labour, uphold us under every trial, whatever its pungency.

Now, to begin the year well, we must commence it,

First, with Solemn Retrospection. We must look back. We must carefully review our past history. We must impartially scrutinise our past conduct. We must "remember the way in which the Lord our God has been leading us," however rugged, intricate, and trying that way might have been felt or deemed by us. We must attentively mark the dealings, the varied arrangements, of Divine Providence, and see how, with everything pleasing or painful, under every aspect, luminous or dark, all events have been necessary for us, and all designed for our good.

Wo must recur to the scenes of the past year, so chequered, and, frequently, so gloomy and lurid; we must dwell on the temptations of the year, often so powerful and seducing—on the difficulties of the year, marked, frequently, by extreme breadth and intricacy; on the afflictions, the sicknesses of the year, not only numerous and painful, but sometimes, perhaps, almost overwhelming. Wo must review the mercies of the year, and observe how our tables have been supplied — how our lives have been preserved — how our families have been blest — how our fears have been removed — and how overy desirable communication has been imparted.

Wo must consider how we have been aided, while discharging the duties of the past year — personal, domestic, relative engagements—whatever might have been their arduousness, complication, or importance.

We can never commence the year properly without this solemn retrospection, and, especially, without looking

INDEX.

« AnteriorContinuar »