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Pray to God for me that I may. But still I think I am submissive to His will.” And again he wrote, “ I could tell you a long story of trials, but I won't ; blessed be God I can sing of mercy and judgment. Never, I think, had any one such manifestations of the Lord's tender compassion and overflowing goodness as I have had. It would be an awful sin for me to doubt Him either in life or death after the wonderful deliverances He wrought out for me in storms at sea, and the way in which He has dealt with me here.” And then comes a testimony which is exceedingly precious to friends, coming as it does from one whose faith had been severely tried, and whose earthly prospects were the reverse of cheering. It was penned about a week before he embarked at Brisbane. After referring to the kindness of the Queenslanders, Mr. Walker adds: “And now let me say that having tested religion in times of great mental perplexity and depression, in times of great disappointment, in times of loneliness, in times of great physical pain and weakness, and what seemed on several occasions the immediate prospect of death, it has never failed me. It has been all Christ said it would be.” Thus do the disciples of Jesus realise the truthfulness of Him who said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
On the 2nd of December he left Brisbane for Sydney, to join the mail steamer for Europe. Though voyaging alone, God soon raised him up friends. Probably his emaciated and feeble condition excited the sympathy of fellow-passengers. He mentions in a letter to Mr. Fulwood some gentlemen who waited on him like servants, and on their arrival at Sydney that four offered to see him and his luggage wherever he wanted to go, and that one of the four who offered to give his services to him all the afternoon gave the name of Walter Scott, a member of the Legislative Assembly. Steaming from Sydney to Melbourne, the Rev. Thomas Clarke Laurance, a Wesleyan minister on board, paid him great attention, and doubtless was the means of comforting one who was weary and worn. Mr. Walker says, "He talks, reads, recites, and sings to me, and has prayed with me each day, except yesterday, when we had a gale. I am sorry he leaves us to-morrow."
As the steamer. remained two days at Melbourne, Mr. Walker landed and drove to our minister in that city, the Rev. T. Masterman, who with his wife received Mr. Walker as a brother, and gladly ministered to his wants. In fact they invited him to take up his abode with them for a while and try the effect of the climate ; but as be had already prepaid his passage to England, and was intensely anxious once more to see his dear wife and friends, if the Lord willed, he declined their kind invitation. His intercourse with Mr. and Mrs. Masterman, Mr. Fenton, and Mr. Edwards, appears to have been very refreshing to him. Some of them were previously known to him. Mr. Masterman and Mr. Fenton were brethren in the same Connexion and ministry to which he belonged. Thus there were many subjects in which they had a common interest, and which served to make their converse mutually agreeable. They also generously supplied him with various articles which they supposed would contribute to his comfort on the voyage home, but which, alas ! he did not long need. After a brief stay the steamer proceeded to Adelaide, where he did not land, but from on board the steamer despatched a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Masterman, the last we have seen from his pen, and probably the last one he wrote. It is a precious epistle, revealing as it does the state of his mind while so near the end of his mortal life. He had peace and joy through believing in the Lord, being “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” He says in the letter referred to : "The sunshine of my brief visit to you still warms and cheers me..... God bless you both, and Mr. Edwards, and Mr. Fenton for all your kindness. Good-bye, dear, dear friends. Pray for me that if it be God's will I may reach England and see my friends, and that He may bless me with a constant sense of His presence. I can stand anything when I know Christ is with me. This blessing I have richly enjoyed, but I have had seasons of great mental depression and darkness.
“Dear friends, I cannot conclude without magnifying the name of the Lord. My afflicted life ever is crowned with His goodness, and my cup of blessing runneth over. When I think of the richness, and fulness, and wonderfulness of His mercy and kindness to me since landing in this colony, I am lost in wonder, love, and praise ! I will bless the Lord at all times ; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
“Hearty and sincere love to you both, and to Mr. Fenton and Mr. Edwards. In the assurance we shall meet in heaven, if not again on earth-I remain, yours most affectionately, R. Walker.”
The steamer's course on leaving Adelaide was for Point-de-Galle. From the doctor, stewards, and some of the passengers Mr. Walker appears to have received every attention. His strength, however was slowly decreasing, and at times his breathing was difficult, yet he clung to the hope of reaching home. On Saturday evening, December 19th, when visited by a passenger in his berth, he seemed very happy, and Sunday morning found him in a similar state of mind, declaring how good God had been to him. A Christian passenger read to him the 1st and 5th chapters of 2 Corinthians, and conversed with him for some time chiefly on religious topics. Another gentleman saw him, and read to him the 121st Psalm—a psalm to which his mother had been partial, and which had been the means of comforting our brother in his afflictions and perils. Mr. Walker spoke to these gentlemen of the presence of the One Friend who was always with him. They took their leave, promising to see him the next day. But it was not permitted that they should see him alive again. During the night a quartermaster often visited him. The sailor looked in at his berth a little before three o'clock on the Monday morning. Mr. Walker had told the man he did not need him. On his visiting his berth ten minutes later, he found that his patient had ceased to breathe. His eyes were closed, his hands were clasped on his breast. He placidly lay as he had fallen asleep in Jesus. He finished his course on the 21st of December, 1874, aged thirty-six years. Though no earthly friend had accompanied him to the valley of death, to do the last kindly offices and witness his departure, his end had been easy and peaceful. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”
According to usages at sea, a canvas hammock was prepared, in which the body was sewn with something heavy placed at the feet to cause it to sink. At seven o'clock on the same morning on which he died the ship's officers and some of the passengers assembled round the corpse, which was placed on a board with one end resting on the rail. The steamer was stopped, and the doctor, officiating as chaplain, commenced the burial service. When he read, “ Forasmuch as it bath pleased Almighty God, of His great mercy, to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the deep,” the corpse was launched over the side to fiad its way to the well-nigh fathomless depths of the Indian Ocean, there to wait the reşurrection morn when the sea shall give up its dead.
In conclusion, we present an extract from a letter of the Rev. J. Ogden to Mrs. Walker, and which may be taken to represent the thoughts and feelings of those who had known our departed brother, and who submissively mourn that he should in middle life, and from prospects of great usefulness, be taken from our midst and die afar off on the sea. Mr. Ogden writes :-" It is strange that one such as be should have been removed in the prime of his life. He had qualities that were capable of making him extensively useful. The generous warmth of his heart won for him the deepest and most lasting affection, and I shall ever treasure his memory with sorrowful interest as among the most precious things which God in His goodDess has permitted me to know. . . . It seems a very sad thing for him to have passed away amid the ocean solitude. Yet the way to Heaven is as bright and sure from the sea as from the land, and the ashes of God's ransomed ones can sleep as peacefully and as safely under the waves of the sea as in the graves watered by the tears of fond and loving friends."
On Sunday the 31st of January, the Rev. J. L. Shawcross, Independent Minister, of Aluwick, preached to a crowded and deeply. affected congregation in Bondgate Church the funeral sermon of their late beloved minister, from Acts xiii., 36—"After he had served his own generation, by the will of God he fell on asleep."
J. M. C.
CHRISTIAN PERFECTION. .
PERFECTION, absolutely considered, does not admit of degrees. It need not, however, for this reason be thought of as restricted to what is infinite. Absolute and infinite are not interchangeable terms, and though the former is no doubt implied in the latter, the latter is not therefore implied in the former. It is true the phrase “The Absolute” is applicable only to God, or rather to that selfexistent and eternal Something underlying and conditioning all phenomena, which in the language of philosophy is made to stand for Him ; but absolute, as a determining adjective, expressing measure and quality, is capable of a great variety of applications. Its essential meaning, as a Latin participle, is, first, free, loosed, whether morally or physically; and then, finished, completed, perfected, in relation to any object whatever. It is hence possible to employ it in many ways, and to employ it in describing the very highest order of excellence, really or ideally, without implying for the object so described anything but the most definite limitations. We may say of a man who has nothing but his own will to consult that he is absolutely free. We may say of creatures below him that want nothing, so far as we can judge, to fill up the total measure of their being, that they are absolutely perfect. Single individuals may be improved up to a certain point; but that point attained no further progress is possible. There is for each an archetypal perfection, which constitutes a definite limit that it cannot overstep. Each has a fixed and determinate pature, a fixed and determinate function, with, at the same time, a fixed and determinate measure of actual capability within its own sphere. This is true of things living and things not living, from the commonest rock to the most exquisite crystal, from the lowliest moss to the stateliest cedar, from the scarcely sensitive zoophyte to the wonderfully endowed and almost infallibly skilful beaver and bee. For these a reaching forth to something nobler and better-a further development, a higher function, a greater utility-is not so much as conceivable. There is in them no ascertainable deficiency, no obvious or suspected imperfection ; they are complete, finished, what the Creator at the beginning pronounced them to be—truly and wholly good."
This, however, cannot now be said of man. Nor even at the first could it have been said of him in the same unlimited and absolute seose. From the very moment of his creation he must have been distinguished from other creatures in this, that an endless future lay open before him, with a possibility of endless development and progress. Though always the same, he must nevertheless have been never the same, the difference being that he had attained, and was destined still further to attain, to something higher and better. To remain stationary at one point, however advanced, would have been impossible. His nature would have impelled him ever onward and ever upward. His desires and hopes would have led him to seek for wider horizons and even for new hemispheres; and unless he had found them he would have failed in his most essential happiness and wellbeing. Absolute perfection, therefore, could not even then have been predicated of him.
Yet perfection there was. Nothing was wanting to the total sum of man's powers, and nothing to their complete and orderly exercise. Even his capability of progress was a distinct element of his perfection, while yet the perfection itself could never be wholly final. At what condition of maturity, so to speak, he was created we may never know ; the kind of trial to which his freedoin was subjected seems to point to a degree somewhat below the one commonly assigued to him. It is tolerably certain that he was not the resplendent and miraculously gifted being fashioned by the warm and fertile imagination of Dr. South, in one of the most eloquent pieces of writing in our language.* Still it remains true that he was created in the image of God, and that this image included, with whatever else—and no doubt much else—not alone the sinlessness, but also the essential rectitude of all the powers of his soul. He was hence not only pronounced by the Creator, with the rest of His creatures, "good,” but also, in virtue of the additional and higher goodness bestowed upon him, “very good.”
But this goodness he has not now. The abuse of his freedom dimmed the image of God at the very first, and dimness gradually deepened to almost obliteration. There is no other consistent theory, no other intelligible account of the historical introduction of sin into our world. Even this does not solve the whole mystery, but it brings us as near to a solution as human reason or human faith can get. Man had, what he still possesses, the fearful power, if he pleased to use it, of opposing his Maker. He could deliberately resist His will, though of course at the cost of an overwhelming and tremendous penalty. What he could do he did, and the penalty caine upon him by irresistible necessity. The penalty was twofold-death and degradation; death by immediate sentence of law, enforced by the sovereign authority of God, and degradation by inevitable loss of
• South's Sermons. Sermon II., “ Man created in the image of God."