« AnteriorContinuar »
M É MO IR
OF BOSTON, IN NEW ENGLAND. The early years of Mr. Cooper were distinguislied bi presages of that eminence which, in future life, he actually attained. A vigorous mind, intensę application, and an area dent thirst for knowledge, marked his childhood. Blessed with a religious education, he exhibited, even at this period, hopeful evidences of piety, - evidences which brightened with his years, till all who knew him were convinced that the grace of God had taken possession of his heart. At his father's death, his lovely and afflicted mother found in him'a son of consolation' indeed. His tender and sympathetic attentions in this trying scene, were mingled with a seriousness which gave them a double value.
His progress in the branches of knowledge usuall- taught at schools, was rapid: but the Bible was his chosen companion ; and with the greatest assiduity, he stored his mind with its sacred truths. He had early set his heart on being a mis nister of Jesus Christ; and from this choice he never swerved.
At seven years old, while hearing a sermon of Mr. Colman, with whom he afterward was colleague, he was so attracted by the eloquence of his manner, that he went home with a determination to read like him: a circumstance which drew from that venerable man (who survived him, and preached on his death) the following affectionate and humble remark : " I ought to thank God, says he,· if I have served any way to form him for his since eminent pulpit services; and in parti: cular, his method of preaching Christ and Scripture." So a torch may be lit at a farthing candle.'
Mr. Cooper's youth, though passed in the midst of temptation, was exemplarily pure. He was grave, but not gloomy, nor austere; discreet, but not precise; and cheerful, with in. nocence. Study was his recreation. He accurately discrie minated, and ardently cultivated those branches of science which were most useful and important. Every literary puro
suit was sanctified by prayer, and every human acquisition rendered sabservient to the knowledge of God and religion,
Though he entered the desk young, it was not without the advice of the most eminent ministers in Boston. Their expec tations were high; but they were exceeded. In the opinion of the ablest judges, his first exhibitions stamped him with the character of an accomplished and eminent preacher.
The church in Brattle Street, of which he was a member, soon chose him, with great unanimity, as co-pastor with the Rev. Mr. Colman, afterward D. D. The ordination, which, at Mr. Cooper's request, was deferred for a year, was solemnized May 23, 1716. From this period to that of his death, his ministerial gifts, graces, and usefulness, seemed regularly and unintermittingly to increase; and the more he was known, the more he was esteemned, loved, and honoured, as one who eminently fulfilled the ministry which he had received from the Lord Jesus.'
As a preacher, he was mighty in the Scriptures; and con iended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. He was an able and zealous advocate for the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel. Christ, the alpha and omega of the Bible, was ever the prominent object in his discourses. On the doctřines of Grace, he insisted much; considering them as not only constituting the sole foundation of a sinner's hope, but as exhibiting the capital aids and incentives to holiness of heart and lite. Hence his preaching was practical as well as evangelic. It inculcated obedience apon Christian principles, and by Christian arguments.
His sermons were composed with care; easy and natural in method ; rich in important truth ; plain, but not grovelling in style; solid and argumentative, yet animated with the spirit of devotion. They were calculated at once to enlighten the mind, impress the conscience, and warm the heart. In explaining the profound and sublime truths of the gospel, he had the singular felicity to be intelligible to the ignorant, instructive to the well-informed, and edifying to the serious. In prayer he remarkably excciled. Always ready, always serious and animated, with a mind stored with scriptural ideas and expressions, and a heart fired with devotion, he seemed 'to converse with his God, and bear along his fellow-worshippers to the very gate of Heaven. He had a voice at once powerful and agreeable, an elocution grave and dignified ; while a deep impression of the Majesty of that Being, whose Inercy he implored, and whose messages he delivered, was visible in his countenance and demeanour, and added an indescribable solemnity to all his performances. · In bis discharge of his pastoral duties, he was exemplarily diligent, faithful, and affectionate. His preaching being very acceptable to other congregationis beside his own, scarce är Sabbath passed in which he did not preach both parts of the day; in addition to which, be frequently performed at stated and occasional lectures.
Nor were his abundant labours in the gospel without important and happy effect. God was pleased to grant the desire which was nearest his heart, to make him an instrument of saving-good to many, who loved and revered him as their spiritual father. He was an eminent instruinent and promo- : ter of the great revival of religion which took place towards the close of his life. With a heart overflowing with joy, he declared, that, since the year 1740, more people had sometimes come to him in concern about their souls in one week, than in the preceding 24 years of his ministry. To these applicants he was a most judicious, affectionate counsellor and guide. Some indeed stigmatized those remarkable appearances as nothing better than delusion and enthusiasm. Nor , did Mr. Cooper himself fail to bear a decided testimony against the spirit of Separation, and other irregularities which mingled theiaselves with the religious commotions in some.. parts of the land. Yet, nobly disregarding human censure : and applause, where he thought the honour of God was concerned, he invariably declared his persuasion that a remarks able work of divine gace was going on. The numerous in- , stances which met him, in his own circle, of persons affected, either with pungent and distressed convictions of sin, or with deep humiliation and self-abhorrence, or with ardent love to God and man, or with inexpressible consolation in religion, perfectly satisfied him that the presence and power of the die vine Reprover, Sanctifier, and Comforter was among them.
In the private walks of life, he displayed the combined excellencies of the Gentleman and Christian. In conversation, he was equally entertaining and instructive; and while he was courteous and kind to all within his sphere, he was especially valued and endeared in the relations of husband, father, master, and friend.
He lived in great affection and harmony with his colleague, serving with him as a son with a father. If in any particular - point,' says that great and good man,' I could not act with him, yet he evidently appeared to me to act as he professed,
- as of sincerity in the sight of God, and as his conscience cominanded him. .
In the sermon occasioned by Mr. Cooper's death, Dr. Colman expresses himself in this remarkabīy affectionate style: • This I can truly say (as I said in tears over the dear remains, on the day of interment) that had I the like confidence ot my own actual readiness to be offered, I would much rather, for your sake, and the churches through the land, trave chosen to die in his stead, might he have sived to my years, and served on to the glory of God.?
Mr. Cooper was truly an honour and blessing to his couns try. Scarce any minister was more esteemed and loved by his brethren, or by the community at large. In the year 1737, he was chosen by the Corporation President of Havard College; but when the vote was presented to the Board of Overseers, he declined the honourable trust. Near the period of his death, his reputation for piety and learning was rapidly extending, and several divines of the first character in England and Scotland sought bis correspondence*.
His dissolution was sudden and unexpected to his friends, but probably not to himself. He had frequently expressed his expectation of an early death. Immediately on his being seized with an alarming complaint, his church, anxious for his valuable and important life, spent a day in humiliation and prayer. The assembly was numerous, and deeply affected ; ardent supplications, mingled with many tears, were offered to Him who is able to save : but the time was at hand when he'must be removed to that better world; for which, by his illustrious piety and unwearied diligence in his Master's work, he was now mature.
The nature of his illness deprived him, in great measure, both of speech and reason; yet in some lucid intervals, he was enabled to declare that'he rejoiced in God his Saviour;' and likewise to signify, by raising his hand, in reply to questions which were proposed to him, that'he cheerfully resigned his spirt into the hands of Christ, that he had the peace which passes understanding, and could leave his dying testimony io the ways of God.
He departed December 13, 1743, in the 50th year of his age, tenderly mourned by his bereaved family and congregation; sincerely regretted and highly honoured by the town and the vhole community:
* Mr. Cooper was the author of a small volume of excellent sermons, on “The Doctrine of Predestination unio Life. They were first printed in Boston, in 1740; and recominended by Messrs. Colman, Sewell, Prince, Le Mercier, and Webb.' About the year 1760, they were repripted jo Lon. don; and recommended by the most eminent dissenting ministers of that day. We believe they have lately been prinled again, in a cheap foro, in Scotland. They are admirably fitted to be put in o ihe baods of serious persons wbo fcel any difficulties op that important doctrine.
SPIRITUAL DARKNESS. Of all the representations which the sacred Scriptures fur, nish us of the state of the unconverted, that of darkness is one of the most impressive. The apostle Paul, in congratulating the Ephesians, as truly converted persons, fixes our attention upon this mode of representation: Ye were sometimes durkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. In order to con:
vince our readers of the misery of an unconverted state, we shall take up this metaphor, and shew in what sense darkness is a term highly appropriate to the state of an unconverted sinner. Darkness suggests to our minds the ideas of misery, danger, and fear. These ideas are applicable to the state of all who remain in an unconverted state:- Ist, It is a state of nisery. We read that, for the space of three days, there was darkness over all the land of Egypt, even darkness which might' be felt. During this time, in what a comfortless wretched state must have been the inhabitants, who, for their sins, were deprived of the cheering blessings associated with light and heat! But much more unhappy, much more miserable, is the state of that sinner, whose soul is plunged in a pit of spiritual dārkness, where he enjoys not those animating, thuse heartreviving blessings, which are associated with the light and power of the glorious gospel! In what a miserable state would this world be plunged, were the sun to be darkened, and the moon turned into blood! Much more wretched is the state of the unconverted sinner; inasinuch as the want of spiritual light is a greater evil than the want of natural light. It was a circumstance that, no doubt, added very much to the deplorable condition of St. Paul and his companions, when they were exposed to shipwreck, that neither sun nor stars for many days appeared. This circumstance indeed banished the faint glimmerings of all hope that they should be saved: but much more deplorable is the condition of those who are weathering the storms of life without the enlightening rays. of the Sun of Righteousness, and the bright appearing of the inorning star. They are indeed in darkness; and, therefore, miserable in their condition. The way of peace they have not known. The service of Satan is a hard service, and the wages of sin are hard wages.
2. It is a state of danger. The state of that traveller is much to be pitied, whose path lies near snares and pits, who has to encounter precipices and rocks; and, under these circunstances, has no light to direct his course; every step must consequently involve danger and expose to ruin. Since the introduction of sin, no less dangerous is the way of man. The enemy of souls has laid many snares, he has prepared many pits; and dangerous indeed is the condition of that man, who walks through a world like this without the aid of divine light. Oft are his feet entangled with the snares of sin, -'oft does he fall into the pit of Infidelity; and in this state of mental feeling every step he takes involves the danger of his immortal part, and exposes him to the dreadful wrath of God.
3. It is a state of fear. The condition of an unconverted sinner is a fearful condition. On every side he is encompassed with terrors. It must indeed be admitted, that many such persons seem to live without any fear. Apparently, at least, they