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From the last Edinburgh edition,
TRE Sermons of the Reverend ROBERT WALKER have long and justly enjoyed a large portion of Public approbation. Those which were published in the Author's lifetime acquired a rapid reputation. The Sermons which were added after bis death, though deficient perhaps in the last polish of an intended publieation, did not detract from his well-earned fame; and the whole Work has steadily maintained the respect which it at first acquired.
The present Edition, in three Volumes, contains all the Sermons of Mr. WALKER, which have appeared, either during his life or after his death—as well those which were published separately as those which were collected in volumes.
Though there were neither striking incidents, nor much variety, in the life of the Author, the following facts will not be uns acceptable to his friends.
He was born in Canongate, where his father was minister, in 1716. He received a regular education at the University of Edinburgh. Happening to reside for a few months in 1737 with a clergyman in Galloway, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Kircudbright. In 1738, in consequence of an unanimous call, he was ordained minister of Straiton, within the bounds of the Presbytery of Ayr. He always mentioned this situation with particular satisfaction, and considered the years which he spent at Straiton as among the happiest years of his life. In 1746 he was translated to the Second Charge of South Leith. He was then in the prime of lise; and never appeared to greater advantage than while he remained in this station, either in his
public labours, or in his private intercourse with his friends. In 1754 he was called to be one of the Ministers of Edinburgh; and as there were at that time three vacancies in the city, and he was the senior minister among those who were called to supply them, he was immediately fixed in one of the Collegiate Charges of the High Church. The distinguished reputation which he maintained to the end of his life in that conspicuous station, is well known to the Public. He had naturally a sound constitution; and enjoyed an uninterrupted series of good health, till the month of February 1782, he was suddenly seized with an apoplexy, He recovered at that time; but his spirits and vigour were greatly impaired, He went to the country in the beginning of the following summer; and his health was so far restored, that he was able to return to his ministerial labours in the month of September. From that time he continued to officiate regularly in Public till death put an end to his labours and to his life together. On Friday the 4th of April 1783, it was his turn to preach in the morning. He left his house in good health, and performed the Public service in his usual manner. In the conclusion, he discovered some symptoms of uneasiness; and in his return from the church, said to a friend, that he had got a headache by preaching. Having reached his own house with some difficulty, he was instantly seized with a stupor; and though immediate assistance was procured, he expired in less than two bours.
The Editor does not presume to delineate his character. This has already been done by a more masterly hand. The Reverend Dr. Blair, who has given many other testimonies of respect for the memory of his deceased colleague, has been so obliging as to permit the publication of the concluding part of his sermon, preached on the 13th of April 1783; for which the Editor takes this public opportunity of expressing his best and most grateful acknowledgments.
CONCLUSION OF SERMON
FROM ECCLESIASTES xü. 7.
Preached in the High Church of Edinburgh, by Dr. Hugh BLAIR, 13th April 1783, on occasion of the death of Mr. ROBERT WALKER.
AFTER what has been said on the subject of death in general, and in particular upon the uncertainty of the time of it, your minds must naturally have turned towards that melancholy event which has lately befallen, in the sudden removal of your faithful and worthy Pastor; and you will easily imagine, that this has given occasion to the train of meditation we have now been pursuing. Upon such an occasion, I know this Congregation will indulge me, in paying the last tribute of respect to the memory of a colleague whom I esteemed and loved; and in connexion with whom I have comfortably past a great part of my life. He was the acquaintance and companion of my youth. For nearly the period of twenty-five years we were associated in the charge of this Congregation; and during all that long tract of time, though we often differed in sentiment about public matters, yet that difference never interrupted our cordial correspondence, nor occasioned any breach of mutual friendship. The character of his mind, indeed, was such as fitted him for agreeable intercourse with all who had any connexion with him. His understanding was sound and just. His passions, though originally strong, were brought under remarkable government. His disposition was cheerful; his temper calm and regular. God had blessed him with great natural abilities. To a quick and solid judgment were added the powers of the most correct taste, which he enjoyed in a high and uncommon degree. Seldom have any been endowed with a more just discernment of what is beautiful in composition and discourse, or with a more accurate sensibility to what is becoming in man
ners and behaviour. Possessing these talents, he was at the same time modest, unassuming, unpretending. He was simple in his manners; simple in his taste of life; altogether free from ostenta tion or vanity. A manly firmness formed the distinguishing part of his character. As he acted uniformly upon principle, he was bold and undaunted in maintaining what he judged to be right; but without the heat of violence or passion. No man ever possessed a more independent spirit. About the advantages of worldly fortune he was little solicitous. He formed no high views. He made no ambitious claims. He was easily contented and satisfied; and as he was entirely free from covetousness, so he was a stranger to envy. To the merit of others he was ever disposed to do justice. His eye was not evil when they prospered. He was superior to the little competitions and jealousies which prevail in vul
These particulars, relating to his character as a man, I am thosoughly qualified, from my long personal knowledge of him, fully to ascertain. With regard to his public labours, my testimony is of less consequence to those before whom I now speak, who have so long had full proof of his talents, and experience of his assiduity and fidelity in the ministry of the gospel. There, indeed, he appeared in his highest character, as an eminent and successful Jabourer in the Lord's vineyard. To this important work his greatest application was bent. With this he allowed nothing else to interfere. His whole ambition centered in acting his part with the dignity and propriety that became the sacred character which he bore. By the elegance, neatness, and chaste simplicity of composition in his sermons, and by the uncommon grace
energy of his delivery, he rose to a high and justly acquired reputation. But mere reputation was not his object. He aimed at testifying the whole counsel of the grace of God; at dividing rightly to eveTy man the word of truth; instructing the ignorant, awakening the careless, reproving the sinner, and comforting the saint; as all who belong to this Congregation well know.
Suitable to such a life were the manner and circumstances of his death. It pleased Providence to carry him away as in a moment, from the discharge of that work in which he delighted, to
the enjoyment of its reward. His death was like an immediate translation from the work of a sanctuary on earth to the employments of the sanctuary above. He was permitted to escape, in a great degree, from the melancholy approaches of the last foe. He endured no long continuance of pain. He underwent no violent struggle. The garment of mortality easily dropt off; and the servant of God fell asleep in the Lord. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the latter end of that man is peace. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; they rest from their labours and their works follow them.” May the "memorial of the just” remain with us “in everlasting remembrance!" Let us “remember them that have spoken unto us the words of God.” Let us be “ followers of them who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises.” Let us live the life of the righteous, that we may die his death, and our latter end, like his, may be blessed!