Saturday, January 29, 2011

Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Robert Hawker

Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Robert Hawker, D. D. late Vicar of Charles, Plymouth. By the Rev. John Williams, D.D. of Slroud, with Portrait, 8vo.

This long-anticipated Memoir has at length appeared; and we do not think that the public will be disappointed in the most sanguine expectations they may have formed of it. Dr. Williams has executed his voluntary task fearlessly, faithfully, and well. He has neither concealed nor attempted to palliate the high and bold but true doctrines which his friend advanced; neither has he shunned to declare his own adherence to them. He is sensible that this will bring upon him the frown and the sneer of the multitude; but desirous only that he may possess his Saviour's smile, and that his work may be instrumentally useful in cheering the humble followers of his Lord in their way to Zion, and anxious that the character of his departed friend may be placed in its true light, and vindicated from the calumnies of the nominal and cold-hearted professor—a fear of the world's scorn, or the world's obloquy has not caused him to draw back.

Is the enquiry made—why has Dr. Williams been selected, or why has he come forward to record the life of Dr. Hawker ? On page 2, is an unanswerable reason; and pleasant it is thus to see one to whom the deceased has been the beacon to warn him from the dangerous road he was pursuing, and the way mark to- point him to a brighter and a more enduring inheritance than this world's joy—to see such an one, when his guide hath passed to " the better land," recording the dangers, the sorrows, and the bliss which he experienced in his journey through the present.

Dr. Hawker it appears was born at Exeter, the son of a surgeon in that city, who died at the early age of thirty-six years, leaving this his only surviving child at the age of fourteen months to the care of his widowed mother; and well indeed did this bereaved parent execute the trust committed into her hands. At a suitable age, he was placed under an eminent surgeon, named White, resident at Plymouth, with the intention of bringing him up in the same profession as his father had followed. But the Lord's ways are not our ways; another and an higher employment was marked out for him : and after passing through various scenes which are touchingly recorded in this volume, he was ordained by the Bishop of Exeter, and quickly afterwards, at the age of thirty-five, he was nominated Curate to the parish of Charles; here, as Curate and Vicar, he continued and faithfully laboured, till removed by death. Other and lucrative offers were made to tempt him away from Charles ; but his answer to Mr. Polwhele, when foully attacked by that gentleman, seemed also the language of his reply to every applicant—" As Vicar of Charles, I am determined to live and to die !' And there he did die. There, lamented not only by the people of his charge, but by the inhabitants of other cities and of other lands, to whom his writings or his occasional visits had rendered his name dear, died Robert Hawker. Farewell, thou man of God! thy death is to the church of Christ a great and heavy loss; long will it be, we fear, ere another star of equal radiancy shall illume our path; but, God reigneth!—saints, let this be your consolation ; though one and another pass away, throughout all the bright luminary from whom they derive all their radiance and all their worth still shines, the Saviour still lives, and until every partaker of heaven's joy shall have left this earth, his love, and his smile, and a ray of his brightness will be upon it.

There are several letters scattered throughout this volume. On page 43, there is a delightful one written in his own inimitable style to his eldest daughter, Mrs. Hodson. Dr. Hawker surpassed all we know in the composition of letters. The language evidently came always warm from his own heart, and it passed to the heart of his correspondent with a thrill, and a consolation, and a joy. We say this from personal experience; doubtless there may be some insensible hearts deadened to this feeliug, and they have our pity.

We should have been happy to extract into our Magazine the dying scene of this departed saint. Dr. Williams describes it in glowing language. But it is too long ; we must therefore content ourselves with referring our readers to the volume, which altogether has our warmest approbation. At the end is Mr. Kent's elegy, which we were pleased to find. We had heard of it, but had never seen it; many of our readers may be like us in that particular; they will, we are sure, read it with much gratification.