« PreviousContinue »
FOR THE YEAR 1807.
THE LATE MISS LOUISA COOKE*,
Miss Louisa Cooke was the youngest daughter of Mrs. Cooke, of Bristol, widow of the late Mr. Isaac Cooke, of that city. She was born April 1, 1781; and died September 5, 1807, aged twenty-six years.
This amiable young person was elucated in the nurture and admonition of the Lord: but the æra from which her religious course is to be dated, is the month of April 1799, when attacked by a putrid fever, which seemed likely to terminate in her death. During this illness it pleased God to reveal his Son in her. Being then on a visit in London, she expressed a great anxiety to sce her honoured mother. When she arrived, the crisis of her disorder was past, and she had begun to recover. Her health gradually returned ; and in the course of three weeks she was able to travel, by easy stages, to Bristol. There she made a covenant with her adored Lord to be entirely his; which engagemnent she scaled at the Lord's Table. The means of grace were from this time greatly blessed to her soul; and she would often speak of them with rapture. Six months after her first attack she had another, which again threatened her life. It however pleased God to raise her up a second time, from what was expected to prove her cleath-bed. For five succeeding years her constitution continued in a weak and delicate state ; but she grew in grace, and in the knowledge of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the month of April, 1805, she was seized with a nervous fever, which confined her for some days to her bed; and as her health was not speedily re-established, she went in the following June to Dawlish, under the hope that the sea-air might prove a restorative; but the great and wise Disposer of all events had
+ This Memoir was communicated to us some reeks ago, before it ap. peared in any other perio:lical publication; but could not be earlier inserted in this Work; and even now, we are obliged considerably to abridge it. XV.
determined otherwise; and a low chronic fever kept her in a state of constant debility, and rendered her, in her own apprehension, a pilgrim and a stranger upon earth. From this period she lived chiefly in retirement, either in reading the sacred volume on her knees, or in pouring out her soul in prayer to God. While thus employed, she was not unfrequently indulged with visits from her gracious Lord ; and sometimes felt herself to be surrounded, as it were, by his glorious presence. In public ordinances, where her attendance was constant, she felt great enlargement of Bleart. To the solicitations of her friends, who, on account of her increasing debility often cndeavoured to dissuade her from going to church, her constant reply was," While I have strength to attend the house of God, ought I to absent myself?"
On the 5th of April, 1807, she partook of the Lord's Supper at St. James's Church; where, on the Lori's Day, she usually attended. Wbile at the table, she became so en feebled as tc be unable to pray. On her return into her pew, she was overwhelmed with sorrow, at the recollection of having risen from her knees without breathing out her soul into her Saviour's bosom. The agony which she felt, produced strong convulsions. On being asked, if she were ill, -- she answered, that her head throb. bedi violently wiib pain; “but,” added, “if it be the will of my dear and gracions Saviour to vouchsafe a continuance of his presence, I think I could support any corporeal pain which he may see fit to lay on me. I would rather suffer the tortures to which the martyrs were exposed, than be deprived of communion with my God! But be the issue what it may, am I not washed, a! I not sanctified, am I not justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God? Oh, yes; if I had a million of tongies, I could not praise and adore his name as I ought to do, for having excited in my soul strong desires after himself! I did delight in his Commandinents while I was in health. Had I not known Him then, but had gone to Him for succour only now in the time of my distress, I might be apprehensive lest he should “laugh at my calamity, and mock now that my fear cometh :”but, blessed be his holy name, I am relieved from these anxieties, ani from every harrassing thought, because I know that I stand complete in Him! Therefore, though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him!"
After some hesitation, occasioned by her anxiety to act in all things conformably to the will of Gol, she was induced, by the persuasions of her friends, to try the effect of another journey to the sea-side; and on the 13th of April set off for Weymouth. On the road she often expressed her satisfaction on refleeting, that her dear mother and other Christian friends were praying for her: but her satisfaction rose far higher when she added, “ The great Intercessor is always pleading for me at the throne of grace!" While travelling, she repeated from memory many of the Psalms,
and several chapters from the Prophets and St. Paul's Epistles. Her attention was occasionally arrested by the surrounding objects of nature, which she spiritualized in a very beautiful manner. Looking at a large tree which was leafloss, she said, “ Tho'it appears now hardly to live, yet it has within a vital principle : so it is with me. My life is hid with Christ in God; and if I should not enjoy those sensible manifestations of his glory with which I have been indulged, yet I know that I have been bought with a price, and that Christ dwelleth in me!"
While walking on the beach at Weymouth, she observed that the vast expanse of water before her was, perhaps, the best image of Eternity; and the immeasurable depths of the sea an emblem of the unsearchable riches of Christ : “ Its surface is the medium by which the wealth of the globe is transferred from one country to another; and so is Christ the medium thro’ which the Father is reconciled to sinners.” He sister reminded her of a former visit to Weymouth in 1801, and contrasted her situation at that time with her present state; observing, that then she was in the bloom of beauty and the possession of health, her personal advantages rendering her, when walking on the Esplanade, an object of general attention, She was further reminded, that she was even then a humble follower of Jesus; and that, possessing both the comforts of this life and the hopes of a better, her situation then appeared to be peculiarly enviable.
With great ardour she replied, 66 I felt at that time such an assurance of the favour of God, towards me, that, had I then died, I should have entertained no doubt of eternal happiness : but, oh! what superior felicity have I since enjoyed in those highly-favoured seasons, in which my glorious Redeemer has condescended to converse with me, a sinful worm! No; I would not exchange this weak emaciated frame and this enfeebled mind, for uninterrupted health and every earthly enjoyment!"
After her return to Bristol, her frame of mind became so heavenly, that she seemed often to be dissolved in the love of God her Saviour. So deep was her humility, that she frequently exclaimed, in the language of St. Paul, “ I am the chief of sinners." The excellency of Christ was the only subject on which she would converse, In secular discourse she refused to join. A friend, who visited her, requested her to dwell less intensely on religious subjects ; observing, that if her principles had not been fixed, and her state, with respect to futurity, perfectly secure, he would not have made such a request; but he thought that her incessant attention to this subject retarded the restoration of her health. She replied, “llow delightful is the consideration, that though this body decays, there exists within me an immortal principle which fadeth not; and that, when this earthly tabernacle shall be delivered up a prey to corruption, the soul shall enter into the regions of felicity!"
On the 12th of July the Lord's Supper was administered to her : during the celebration of which a sweet solemnity rested on the minds of all who were present. He who is exhibited there, in was indeel, according to his promise, in the midst of the favoured circle, giving to all his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink. Louisa engaged in sweet conversation with the minister, on her favourite subject, the divinity of Christ; and on his leaving her to go to his church, she followed him to the door, took his Jiand, saying, with great energy, “ Preach Christ, Sir, preach Christ!" She took a similar leave of another clerical visitor, intreating him to exalt the Saviour of sinners.
July 13th, she was removed to her brother's house, on Dardham Down; and in the evening appeared somewhat revived. July 14th, while walking in the garden, she was asked if the air refreshed her. She replied, “ It is a beautiful emblem of the influence of God, the Holy Spirit.
During the last six weeks of her life, she appeared to be altogether absorbed in the contemplation of the love of her redeeming God. Her conversation was expressed entirely in scriptural language; and so apposite were her quotations from the sacred pages, that all around her were exceedingly surprized at the ac. curacy and extent of her acquaintance with them.
During the last 19 days, 18 of which were spent in bed, her sufferings were extreme, occasioned by violent and long continued spasms.
After every paroxysm, so soon as she had a little respite from pain, she would (exclaim “God is love." « Praise God." "Christ is all and in all." Her resignation and thankfulness were not occasional acts, but the invariable frame of her soul ; nor did she cease thus to express herself, till debility deprived her of the power of speech.
One day when agonized with pain, she was asked if her sufferings were not unspeakably great. She immediately opened ber Bible, and pointed to that passage in Daniel's account of the Three Hebrew Champions, "Nor was an hair of their beads singed;" intimating, thereby what divine support she enjoyed. Her unshaken faith and quiet submission to the will of God, continued without intermission to her latest breath. She slept but little ; and whenever her sister, who slept in the room, awoke, she found her engaged in communion with her God. She took but little food; but on whatever she did take, whether it was food or me. dicine, it was her constant practice to implore a divine blessing. Indeed, all the sustenance she received, for some time previous to her being confined to her bed, was merely one or two biscuits and a little water in the course of 24 hours. For the last 19 days she took no food at all.
Being asked a few days previous to her death, if her consolations abounded, if death had lost its sting, and if she had
views of the joys of Heaven ; and being requested, if she was enabled to reply in the affirmative, to extend her finger, which was her usual mode of expressing assent, she stretched out both her arms,
while a swect smile sat on her countenance. Thise questions were frequently repeated, and always received the same
On the 21 of Sept. four days before her departure, one of her sisters, whose visits to the sick room were, in consequence of her own ill health, only occasional, went thither merely for the purpose of looking at her. The dying saint had at this time scarcely power to articulate; but seeing her sister, she made a sign for her to adyance towards her bed; and after a painful effort to speak, she whispered, “ God is love,” while her face seemed to be irradiated by the grace of God which rested on her.
On Saturday, September 5, her hands were clasped and uplisted, and her eyes raised to Heaven throughout the day. A few hours before sbe expired, she uttered something ; but so indistinctly, that it could not be positively ascertained what she said: but it was pretty confidently supposed to be, “ Lord Jesus, come quickly!” At about half past seven her respiration became weaker and weaker, like the breath of an infant falling asleep, till it entirely ceased ; and the unfettered spirit took its fļight to the bosom of him who waited to receive it.
It may perliaps be asked, What were the means which ledl, under the divine blessing, to so triumphant an issue? The answer is easily given; - The love of retirement. Ever since her health began to decline, she was in the constant habit of retiring to her own room before the rest of the family; and the time so gained was spent in religious exercises.
She also loved and read the Bible. In the year 1809 her mother gave to her and her youngest brother a B ble each : surely the best gift that a parent can bestow upon a child ! Louisa took both these Bibles into her room, and prayed over them, beseeching God to make his ward the instrument of salvation to her own and her brother's soul. Her own Bible she carried in her pocket for two years preceding her death, and employed all her leisure time in reading it.
Another mean of improvement was, her love of the public ordinances of divine worship, on which she was a constant attendant. The delight which she experienced under the ministry of the word of God, was great. The gospel was to her heart glad tidings of great joy, because she felt her need of a Saviour, and came to the house of God in a state of humble dependence on divine teaching, and with an earnest desire of enjoying intercourse with the Friend of sinners. That this was the state of her mind is evident from what followed the ordinance; for, instead of mixing with others in worldly conversation, or even of join. ing in discussing the merits of the sermon, as the manner of