[quoted from "The Gospel magazine, and theological review. Ser. 5. Vol. 3, no. 1-July 1874"]
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF DR. HAWKER.
Never shall I forget the first time I saw and heard that dear man. I had been in a bad state of soul darkness, bondage, and terrors for a long time. Calling one Saturday afternoon upon a friend who knew the state of distress which I was in, she told me that Dr. Hawker was to preach twice the next Lord's day in St. Ann's, Blackfriars. After much entreaty, my friend prevailed upon me to promise that I would go and hear him. But I was not pleased that I had promised, when I was told that unless I went early in the morning I should not be able to get into the church. I thought when I heard this that it would be in vain for me to go and hear the Doctor, because he would not understand my case; and I was led thus to judge of him because I had been to hear many popular men, hoping to have my bonds loosed; but, alas! their preaching only made my fetters the stronger, and sank me lower into gloom. During the Saturday evening, I sometimes thought, Well, I will not go. Then my promise would be presented, and this prevailed. On the following morning, without any hope of profiting, I went to St. Ann's, and stood near the pulpit; but never before nor since have I witnessed anything that will bear a comparison. Pews, aisles, and pulpit steps were thronged: outside and inside of the windows were lined with persons resting upon the ledges like fowls upon their perches. Very many were mounted upon the edges of the pews, and steadying themselves by leaning against the pillars; Lo upon the top of the organ, doused in dust, I saw a few: how they obtained access to that exalted station was a puzzle to me. While the congregation was singing, I saw an aged man scrambling slowly through the almost impenetrable crowd, with a rusty gown thrown over his shoulders. His face was plain and discoloured. When, after great labour, the Doctor came close to where I stood, I looked upon him with scorn, and inwardly said," There is nothing in you; what a fool I have been to come to hear you. If I could get out, I would gladly do so; but it is useless to make the attempt."
Singing being ended, the Doctor began to speak in prayer; but oh, by God the Spirit, what holy freedom! oh, what near and sweet access to God the Father! and oh, what savoury and unctuous power from Jesus rested upon him! Every sentence powerfully carried the soul out and up into the bosom of infinite love. And here I must note by the way that, notwithstanding the crowd was so great, and the position of many, touching bodily ease, was far from comfortable, yet it was as if the silence of death reigned; all my scorn and displeasure vanished like the mist of the morning before the sun's spreading refulgent rays. How was I astonished at what I heard and what I felt; for, as in the days of old the people said of Jesus, so was I constrained to say of the Doctor, that he spoke as one having authority, and not as the letter-taught Scribes.
In prayer, there was no complimenting the Lord; there was no wording it towards the Lord as one at a distance, unto whom he was speaking, and upon whom he was calling. Oh no; he was not speaking to, but with the Lord. It was as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion. Oh, what heavenly unction! what free, close, and endearing communion with the eternal Three in God! Even to this distant day I am constrained to say of him that he was one of those elders unto whom was given the harp, the tongue of the learned, and golden vial full of odours—the new spirit— and the odours are the prayers of saints in that spirit. All with whom I had ever before bowed the knee were like criminals bowing before an austere judge; but the Doctor was a free man; bowing in the presence of, and realizing precious communion with, his Lord, Lover, Saviour, and Friend, Father, Son, and Spirit;
Prayer being ended, he opened his little Bible, and read Deut. xxxii. 9, 10: "For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye." Closing his Bible, the Doctor began his sermon; and his quotations of Scripture in confirmation of all his statements were numerous and very cogent, so that to me he seemed to be a living Concordance.
Well do I remember how he traced up the relation of the Lord's people to the Lord; how God the Father established His right and property in them as His portion (or, as the Doctor said, the Lord's part) by His everlasting choice of them in Christ, to and for Himself, quoting to confirm his statement, "For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure." He then pointed out that the Lord's people were not only His lot or part, but the lot of His inheritance—quoting, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance;" in which he proved that all relations which the Lord's people have to the Lord are founded upon God the Father's purpose in Christ Jesus according to election; so that His portion ever has been, and ever shall remain to be, by His own act made His portion, and the lot of His inheritance.
He then proceeded to show that these same people were made Christ's portion, and the lot of His inheritance, by the grace gift of God the Father. This Jesus had in His heart and eye when speaking in His prayer: "They were Thy portion, and the lot of Thy inheritance; and Thou gavest them to me, to be my lot, and the portion of mine inheritance." And here the Doctor did preciously and conspicuously unfold how Jesus removed all the judgments which stood against this given lot of His inheritance; which judgments prevented Him taking this inheritance into His own possession. But, by the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus became-entitled to the fulfilment of his Father's promise: "Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He hath poured out His soul unto death."
God the Father, by His love choice, established his right in and title to His people, as His own portion, and the lot of His inheritance; then, by a love gift to Jesus, established His root interest, or foundation right and property, in the same people. And Jesus, by love's service, took away all law judgments; as it is written, "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, 0 Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away thy judgments; He hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil any more."
Then the man of God in glowing terms set forth how God the Holy Ghost demonstrated His love communion interest in these same people as His people and the lot of His inheritance, in common with the Father and the Son, by seeking and finding them in a desert land, and in a waste howling wilderness— taking them into His own charge, and under His own care; leading them about, instructing them, and keeping them as the apple of His eye. Oh, how sweetly did those truths, proclaimed by the Doctor, suit my forlorn condition!
To this hour, in the eye and ear of my mind, I can see and hear him copiously pour out the precious streams of holy truth, which penetrated and sank into my parched soul like the descending rain into the thirsty earth.
Oh, the high and holy verities that were that morning unfolded to my wondering and adoring spirit! I saw, in the clearest visions of faith, the everlasting union of my soul, by the Father's love, unto Jesus; and my oneness with those chosen ones, redeemed out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. I that went into St. Ann's a poor, weary, sin-burdened, law-cursed outcast in my soul's feelings, left it glorying in a knowledge of interest in Eph. i. 3, 4.
While looking upon the Doctor, I saw the perspiration coursing down his face in streams; and to me there appeared around his head a heavenly halo, which led me to muse upon the shining of the face of Moses as he came down from the mount of communion with the Lord of hosts his God.
In his delivery there was singular gravity, and a commanding majesty corresponding with his subjects. There was a musical eloquence in his voice and words, like an instrument tuned and brought into harmonious concord with the living and life-giving truths he preached; and those truths touching the living chords of the regenerate life in the soul, caused them to go forth in the dance of them that are made merry.
I never heard the Doctor preach one single sermon but he would bring before his hearers the distinct acts of love, grace, and mercy of the Three in God, for, towards, and in the redeemed. He was not a nominal Trinitarian, insisting that there were three Persons by merely naming them; but he would point out and describe how in soul's experience their threefold personalities were manifest, demonstrated, and made known. All honour was given to God the Father in those multiplied acts of His everlasting love, taken up and pitched upon them whom He predestinated to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ unto Himself, over and above that middle region act of His love, in giving His only begotten Son to be faith's object in dying, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. All honour was given to the Son, who completed the mighty task of doing, loving, and suffering; magnifying the law, and making it honourable; and restoring that which He took not away. All honour was given to the Holy Ghost, in His daily quickenings, renewings, and re-renewing; leadings, revealings, and witnessings; and establishing the souls of the household of faith in the truths of the everlasting Gospel, and in an assurance of interest in those everlasting truths.
In his gifts, qualifications, and labours in gathering and building up in the faith, the Doctor was a gift of no mean order to the Church; and one of those precious fruits of Christ by the Father's right hand, ascending to His right hand to give gifts to men for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the saints, until all come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Jehovah honoured Himself in the ministry of Dr. Hawker to a higher degree than was done in many of his coadjutors; and the more the Lord honoured Himself in him, the more Satan and men who had a name to live, but were dead, raved at him: yes, and belied him—ignorantly, if not wilfully.
The Doctor's station in the Establishment shielded him from his enemies accomplishing their designs and wishes in shutting him from his labours in Plymouth. Well does the writer remember with what warmth of thankfulness he made the following statement, and suiting the action-by stamping with his foot, he said, "The gentlemen who gave me this living, some years gone by, would now, if it was in their power, stamp upon my head as they would upon the head of a scorpion; but it is not in their power to remove me. Here you will see our advantage over all other denominations. If I were a dissenting minister, and did not preach the preaching which pleased the people, some lordly deacon would give me notice to quit my post; and, if I refused to obey, then the wealthy subscribers would withhold their subscriptions, and thus I should be starved out."
Upon one of the Doctor's visits to London, a poor woman had been so blessed under his ministry that she felt anxious for an interview, to make it known to him. Upon inquiry, she found that he was lodging with a gentleman at Clapham; and there she directed her steps. But when the poor creature came, and saw the large mansion, her heart failed, and she inly thought, " I shall not be allowed to see him; nor will such a fine gentleman condescend to speak with a poor woman like me." After passing forward and backward many times in front of the house, she put forth an effort and pulled the bell; but no sooner had this been done than she wished in heart the bell might not ring to be heard. In a few minutes after ringing, a servant in livery opened the gate, and demanded her business. She told him she wanted to be favoured to speak with Dr. Hawker. The poor woman was then ushered into a drawing-room elegantly furnished, there to wait for him. While this poor thing was waiting, she said, "I wish I had not come here; what presumption!" In the midst of her heart-saddening reverie, the Doctor walked into the room. The woman, in visible agitation, rose tremblingly; but he, with the sweetness of one whom the love of Christ constrained, said, " Do take your seat, my dear woman." He himself also sat down very near to her. This tender carriage of the Doctor removed much of the poor woman's timidity, and emboldened her to tell out the heartfelt joy she had been filled with under some of his discourses. After a long interview, in which the dear man of God did not, as is too much the case, deal with her haughtily, and put on the divinity doctor, but to the weak he became weak, the poor woman became emboldened to tell him how she was discouraged when she came and saw the large mansion, and was ushered into that princely drawing room. The Doctor listened to the artless statement, and, looking round upon the costly and elegant furniture, said in reply, "Ah, my dear sister, these things are not my glorious Lord; faith's views of the person and work, blood and righteousness of Jehovah Jesus, make all such things to sink into insignificance: their captivating power is a blank. To me such things are as so many nothings; while He, and He alone—Jesus, is the everything in my esteem."