Saturday, January 29, 2011



Robert Hawker was born on the 13th April 1753 in the City of Exeter. His father and grandfather were physicians and surgeons.

His father died at the early age of 36, when Robert his infant son was one year old.

His widowed mother, a godly woman of superior mind and talent lovingly watched over her son and in due time devoted herself to his early education, instilling into his mind a love and reverence for the word of God, to which he happily responded.

In due course he was sent to the Grammar School at Exeter and very early showed extraordinary proficiency, and quickly became versed in the classic languages of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He possessed an ardent and unwearied mind capable of mastering any language or science. His memory was quick, retentive and capacious, and his genius excursive.

As a child Robert manifested pleasure in quoting Scripture, and as he attained age he showed strong bias for a clerical career.

His mother, however, wished him to follow his father’s profession and he was ultimately trained to this end. He went to a London hospital and eventually became a practicing surgeon.

God, however, had other fields of labour for him and sovereignly moved the young doctor’s mind and heart toward Himself so profoundly that,

although now married and even against his beloved mother’s desire, he resigned his medical work and went to Oxford University at the age of 25 to enable him to enter the ministry.

He possessed gifts of great magnitude and in less than a year he was given a curacy in Cornwall at St. Martins near Loos. He held this curacy for the brief space of three months, being moved to Charles Church, Plymouth in December 1778.

He began immediately to preach with power and distinction the unsearchable riches of Christ. He would preach in language chaste, elevated and impressive.

In the year 1784 the vicar of Charles Church died and the young curate, who was a man of great integrity and superior talents, was appointed to the living and he began a ministry of outstanding spiritual power and influence which was to continue for over 40 years, only ending by his death in 1827.

In 1790 he preached a series of remarkable sermons on ‘The Divinity of Christ’, and again in 1794 on ‘The Divinity and operations of the Holy Ghost’.

In the following years he regularly visited London and exercised such power in his ministry as an ambassador for Christ that the churches where he preached were unable to accommodate the numbers who gathered to hear him.

An outstanding feature of his preaching was his insistence on the Personality and Godhead of the Holy Ghost and the glory of the Person of Jesus as in the Godhead.

His church at Plymouth was invariably filled to overflowing, and he continued his powerful and spiritual ministry here, until his relatively sudden death in April 1827.

On Lord’s Day, March 25th, he was stricken with inflammation of the lungs and was unable to preach.

He said to his daughter, ‘My dear child, I cannot go today to the house of the Lord, but this cometh of the Lord of Hosts who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working; wisdom and power are His’.
During his illness and decline in bodily strength, he was strong in the Lord and rejoicing in the prospect of a glorious immortality. To those in attendance he seemed to enjoy holy and uninterrupted communion with God and the Spirit.

After what appeared to be a refreshing sleep he said to his daughter, ‘My soul is overfilled with joy, I am filled with glory’.

He constantly repeated portions of Ephesians 1, and among his last words were, “In whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, yes, to the praise of His glory”.

Those surrounding the bed of the dying saint witnessed a holy serenity in his countenance which spake the inward aboundings of joy and peace through his faith in Christ Jesus.

He showed no bodily distress or signs of death and in the presence of his family – he had eight children – he literally fell asleep in Jesus. His physician who was present said he had never witnessed such a death before.

So much was this man of God beloved and revered that the shops of Plymouth were half-closed until the day of his burial.

His mortal remains were consigned to the tomb on the 13th April 1827, many thousands being present to witness to his love to God and to man.

He died as he had lived, ever in communion with his God and in the enjoyment of a holy intimacy with heaven. He was an habitation of God through the Spirit. The power of grace rested upon him.