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I remiuded him of our last conversation, when it had been observed that he might be called to exemplify the passive graces, and glorify God by resignation to His will. He said, “ Yes; and He enables me to say, “Thy will be done.'” His pain increased much, but his patience increased also. He experienced, in the fullest sense, the answer to
“When pain o'er my weak flesh prevails,
With lamb-like patience arm my breast." I went once more to see him, and found him much worse, but very, very happy. He spake again of his decease, and the glory which should follow, with calm Christian resignation. He was then drawing near his journey's end: I knew this would be our last interview; and, on taking my leave, asked, “What shall I say to your Barnard-Castle friends, many of whom will be inquiring about you?” “Tell them,” he replied, “I have perfect resignation.” What more could be sas? Here was the perfection of Christianity itself. (James i. 4.) What better could he say? The mature Christian, like his Lord, though in bis humbler measure, is made perfect through suffering. “I find religion,”. said he, "to be that which I always took it for; I am not deceired in it. It is not ' a cunningly devised fable.'
• Comfort it brings, and power, and peace,
And joy, and everlasting love.'” About this time, he was favoured with a beatific view of the heavenly Jerusalem. His pains were excruciating: yet, in spite of their intensity, so full was the joy, so transporting the prospect, that lis countenance was lit up with a beavenly smile, which his friends perceived, but could not then account for. This rapture lasted two days ; and he afterwards declared it to be unutterable, and full of glory. One evening he cried out,
“ But O! when that last conflict 's o'er,
To join the music of the skies !" As nature slowly sank, his pains were assuaged, but his weakness increased, till
“ The wheels of weary life at last stood still." During the evening before he died, he repeated the lines,
“O ! what a mighty change
Shall Jesu's sufferers know,
Incapable of woe ! ” To him it would indeed be a most blissful change,-from sickness to health, from pain to ease, from sorrow to joy, from earth to heaven. “I shall leave this body behind," said he, “with its mutilated member,” referring to the part consumed by cancer; "but, in exchange, this vile body, the body of our bumiliation, shall be fashioned and
made like unto Christ's glorious body.” The last words he distinctly uttered were, “ My battle is fought : praise the Lord !” It was his last battle. The aged warrior was about to gain a triumphant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare 's past;
And thou art crown'd at last."
MEMOIR OF MR. BENJAMIN COCKER,
LATE OF MIRFIELD:
BY THE REV. THOMAS HARDY, Mr. Cocker was one of a host of laborious Local preachers, who proved invaluable auxiliaries to the mission of Methodism, especially at a time when Circuits were far more extensive, and ministers fewer, tban at present. He was born at Almondbury, near Huddersfield, in 1785, of parents who were then, and to their dying day, members of the Methodist Society. In boyhood parental control was irksome to him, -the more so, while he saw the children of some professors left at liberty to attend feasts and fairs, and to wander whithersoever they would on the Lord's day. He consoled himself, however, with the thought that one day he should be of age, and his own master. Before that day arrived, he learnt to be thankful for the restraints of early discipline.
In 1803 the Rev. Edward Gibbons, (then newly appointed to Huddersfield,) calling at his father's house, went up to the chamber where Benjamin was weaving; and, grasping his hand, urged him at once to seek the Lord. Under the ministry of this faithful pastor, the young man's mind was deeply impressed. His father's class—then the only one in the place—consisted of eight members, of whom his mother was the youngest. “0," thought he, “if some young person would begin, I would at once begin too." Returning from class the very next day, his father told of an addition to the little company, -a young man, who had been awakened under the preaching of Mr. Gibbons, and had obtained mercy, while his parents were beseeching the Lord on his behalf, at the hour of three in the morning. Benjamin had now no excuse for delay. So mightily wrought the convincing Spirit, as to constrain him oft to retire from the loom, and on bended knees to implore salvation. His silent grief was observed by his good father, who gave bim suitable counsel, and invited him to the classmeeting. Hanging down his bead, as if unwilling to meet the gaze of the ungodly youth of the neighbourhood, he followed his father for the first time to the cottage where the little flock assembled. When the leader came to speak to his son, his emotion was uncontrollable, and be gave thanks to God, who had now brought a child of his to a meeting for Christian fellowship. Select books were lent him by his vigilant pastor. At home his father was his daily adviser, to whom he opened his heart, and by whom bis doubts were solved. Each week, at the class-meeting, his mind was kept to one important point, -a knowledge of forgiveness, attested by the Holy Spirit. Jovited at once to the Lord's table, he was greatly encouraged while the Rev. Richard Elliott, presenting to him the cup, solemnly said, “The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.”
At length deliverance came. Whit-Sunday, A.D. 1804, was the bright day; and the domestic altar was the place. When his father ceased praying, Benjamin began, as he had been oft importuned to do. “God be merciful to me!” was his cry.
The father then resumed.
“ Sach wrestling prayer and faith,” says the son, “ I never heard. In a short time the clouds dispersed; the light of heaven shone on my mind ; the way of faith was opened to me, and I was enabled to cast my
soul on the atoning Lamb. My burden fell off, and my soul was filled with peace and joy. I was now so happy that I could not sleep; and, when I went out the next morning, I thought the whole creation smiled.” Shortly after this, he yielded to doubt, under a searching discourse upon the law; but, when he bad walked in darkness for some weeks, he was enabled to recover “the beginning of his confidence,” which he held “steadfast unto the end."
Of his father's instructions in the things of God he made the most ; and well for him it was that he did 80. For, ere the loving son saw his twentieth birthday, the excellent father fell asleep in Jesus. “As a classleader,” says Mr. Cocker, “ I never yet heard bis equal. All bis life he had been an early riser, accustomed to spend the prime of day in reading his Bible and in prayer. One morning, being too ill to kneel at family-worship, he turned to me, and said, with a look I shall never forget, 'I can no longer perform this duty: thou must take my place.' The day before his death he sent for me from my work, and said,
Benjamin, I feel a deep impression that God will employ thee in some way for the benefit of the church and the world. I have discovered the germ of native talent, which, if improved, will fit thee for usefalness. Do not quench the Spirit. Work for God where thou canst. Engage heartily in prayer-meetings; and try occasionally to give a word of exhortation. Never allow self to dictate, nor aim at imitating others; but use thy own language, in thy own easy and natural way.'' dying charge was faithfully kept.
The guardianship of an impoverished and now bereaved family of eight, including the sick mother, devolved upon this Christian of a year old. Early and late he wronght, beyond his strength, to provide for them ; returning oft to his loom from a week-evening sermon or class-meeting, and taking his frugal menls in the lenst possible time; yet “ oft so filled with the love of God,” to use his own words, " that tears of real joy fell plentifully upon the cloth” he "was weaving." After several years of widowhood and suffering, the mother died in great peace. A native of Birstal, she was converted to God in early life, and attended the band meetings conducted by Miss Bosanquet, afterwards Mrs. Fletcher. “As the lamp of life was sinking down," ber
dutiful son writes, “the holy flame, lit up at Cross-Hall, blazed out in all its brilliancy."
Benjamin was now a class-leader, and could not dismiss the conviction that be ought to preach. “But,” he writes, “I felt myself quite unfit to teach others, never having had five shillings' schooling in my life.” In February, 1811, he consented, yet very reluctantly, to supply the place of an afflicted preacher, by giving an exhortation at Lepton. He was importuned to preach there in the afternoon of the same day; an old disciple remarking, that “this young man bad a sling and a stone." It was not, however, until the 25th of the following May, exactly fifty years and a day before his death,—that he ventured to take a text. Of his next effort his own record is as follows:- The softening power of God came down: we had a blessed time. From that day I felt it was the will of God that I should preach ; and, ndtwithstanding many discouragements, I have continued to the present." On the Plan of the Huddersfield Circuit, including Holmfirth, &c., &c., a Local preacher's work at that time averaged four and twenty Sabbaths in every twenty-six. But, while health permitted, Mr. Cocker cheerfully took bis full share. By the Rev. John Braithwaite he was urged to offer himself as a candidate for the ministry'; but he deemed his want of education an insuperable objection ; although he acknowledged, in subsequent years, that, had the Theological Institution been tben in existence, he might bave consented. . Two of his early advisers were indiscreet enough to counsel him to make no preparation for the pulpit, but to expect what he should say to be Divinely suggested at the time ; alleging that they themselves oft knew not what was to be their text, even while singing the second hymn! These enthusiastic persons might have done bim lasting injury, but for the guidance of the Rev. John Kershaw and Jonathan Brown. Henceforward it was his study to show himself "approved unto God, a workman needing not to be ashamed ;” and several remarkable conversions were the fruit of his labours.
Having been employed for nine or ten years as a weaver of woollens, by a firm at Dalton, he one day took in three pieces of cloth ; when the senior partner, after measuring and examining them, was pleased to compliment him upon bis integrity and accuracy. Nor was tbis all. A responsible situation in the establishment soon becoming vacant, he applied for it, was at once accepted, and continued to discharge its duties for twenty-nine years, to the entire satisfaction of the principals ; assisting in all departments of the concern, and witnessing its enlargement and prosperity. “I now found myself in full employment,” he states ; “having the care of two classes, together with a great deal of preaching. And, the more I did for God, the happier I was in my own soul.”
Hitherto the Methodists of Almondbury had attended the Huddersfield chapel, at a distance of two miles. But in 1815 they fitted up a room, that their neighbours also might bear the good word of God. And, although the members were but twenty-five in number, and of the labouring class, they began seriously to contemplate the erection of a chapel. Great were the difficulties they had to surmount. The scheme was denounced as “a wild chimera ;” and the Superintendent, the late Rev. George Sargent, failed not to remind them, that “if they built by faith, they must pay the debt by works." After much prayer, Mr. Cocker, and another of the worthy band, ventured to wait upon a landed proprietor, and obtained the promise of an eligible site. Invaluable aid was afforded them by the late Mr. Thornton, of the neighbouring town, who laid the foundation-stone in July, 1816. The original dimensions, being deemed too limited, were extended by fifteen feet, involving an additional outlay of £300. “We were too dilatory," writes Mr. Cocker, “in getting in our subscriptions. A serious change took place in trade, and many were unable to pay what they had promised ; so that we lost nearly £150.”
The first service held in this new sanctuary was a prayer-meeting at six in the morning of Christmas-day, when nearly three hundred persons were present,-several of whom were then awakened. Not until the following April were the pews completed; and at once they were all let. On Whit-Sunday, 1817, dedicatory sermons were preached by the Rev. David M‘Nicoll and William M‘Kitrick, when the small sum of £20 was collected. But a glorious work of conversion ensued, during which Mr. Cocker's class increased from twenty-five to seventy members. He urged the Superintendent of the Circuit to divide it; but was answered, “Things have prospered very well under your administration ; and I do not think of taking them out of your hands." Mr. Cocker adds: “ I struggled on a little longer ; then, for the first time in my life, I was compelled to do what I knew was not Methodistical : -I selected four persons whom I thought most qualified.” At his next visit, however, the Superintendent fully concurred in this preliminary arrangement, and duly appointed the four brethren to office. Within one year a hundred members were added. In order to furnish these babes with mental and spiritual aliment, Mr. Cocker obtained contributions for the purchase of suitable books, which were exchanged weekly, and well read. Shortly afterwards a large room in a warehouse was rented, and fitted up as a Sabbath-school. “All this,” says he,
“ threw more and more upon my bands. I then bad to leave home for business at half past five every morning; often with difficulty returning in time for class or other meetings, which occupied nearly all my evenings. After a hard Saturday's work, I sat up till one, two, or three o'clock, to prepare for the Sabbath...... When I had no appointment, and was seated with all my family in our pew, I thought myself the happiest man in the world.— For years things went on well at Almondbury ; but afterwards came a sifting time, and we had a falling off both in the Society and the congregation. This I attribute to the misconduct of a member, which rendered the Christian profession odious to the world.” Owing to these and other adverse circumstances, the debt upon the chapel increased, antil, in 1830, it amounted to £860; wbile the income bad diminished from £79 to £31. “You will soon bave to make your chapel into a woolwarehouse," was the taunt of some who wished not well to the cause.