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tained that he just survived the Revolution, and died, it is apprehended, in the next year, 1689. Mr. Cockayn was a man of considerable learning and abilities; and Wood speaks of him as "a prime leader in his preachings in Oliver's time." Besides the sermons before-mentioned, he wrote a prefatory epistle before Mr. Obadiah Sedgwick's funeral sermon for Rowland Wilson, Esq. and he had some hand in the "English Greek Lexicon, containing the Derivation and various Significations of all the Words in the New Testament, with a complete Index in Greek and Latin, 1658." 8vo. The other persons who had a hand in this work were Joseph Caryl, Ralph Venning, William Dell, Matthew Barker, William Adderley, Matthew Mead, and Henry Jessey, all Nonconformists. In some of his writings, Mr. Cockayn has made free remarks upon the Quakers, on which account he is animadverted upon by George Fox, in his "Great Mystery." Of Mr. Cockayn a large painting is preserved in the vestry at Hare-court.
Wood mentions another person of this family, Thomas Cockayn, who was educated in Corpus Christi College, but took no degree in Oxford University. To this person he also attributes a hand in the "English Greek Lexicon" above-mentioned; as also "An Explanation of Romans 1i. with all the Greek Dialects in the New Testaments," printed with the former book, and "both very useful for private Christians, and recommended to the churches by several ministers of the Presbyterian and Independent persuasion.” From this circumstance we are strongly inclined to think that the Oxford Antiquary has split into two the history of our person, and that his Thomas is no other than our George Cockayn. Our conjecture is further strengthened by an observation of the same historian, that our author George was -sometimes called Thomas Cockayn.*
• Wood's Athenæ, vol. ii. p. 233, 514.-Calamy's Contin. p. 51. VOL. III.
JOHN NESBITT.-This popular and useful Divine was a native of Northumberland, and born on the 6th of October, 1661. His parents designing him for the ministry, sent him to the University of Edinburgh; but he had not been there long, before he was obliged to leave the place on account of his zeal for the Protestant religion, which ne discovered in the most public manner, in the presence of the Duke of York, afterwards, King James the Second. This laid the foundation for his future troubles. Being forced by the iniquity of the times to seek shelter in a foreign land, he was apprehended with several other persons, on his way from London to Holland, and committed close prisoner to the Marshalsea. There he was laid in irons, and confined for more than four months, in hopes of making him turn evidence; but, though he was then under twenty years of age, God gave him grace and courage sufficient to withstand many advantageous offers made to him by the King and council. During his confinement, he had no books in the prison, excepting his bible, which he was forced to conceal, lest it should be taken from him. In this afflicting solitude, he read the scriptures much, improved in his knowledge of them, and God was with him. His presence, as he often afterwards declared, made the prison a palace to him.
Mr. Nesbitt's enemies not being able to prove any thing against him, he was set at liberty; when he retired to Holland, to finish his studies. There he laid in a good stock of useful learning; God having blessed him with a quick apprehension, a rich fancy, a strong memory, and a solid judgment. He became well read in the classic authors, and thoroughly versed in history. With the state of the church in different ages, he acquired a good acquaintance, and did not neglect the most celebrated among the ancient Christian writers. Of the Greek language he obtained an exact knowledge; and in point of learning was equalled by few of his contemporaries in the ministry, though none could be guilty of less ostentation upon that account. This procured him to
be greatly respected by men of letters, though of different sentiments from himself.
Mr. Nesbitt entered young upon the work of the ministry, and met with great acceptance, not only amongst his own people, but wheresoever he occasionally laboured; and his popularity, though an unusual thing, continued to the last. About the year 1690, being then only twenty-nine years of age, he was chosen to succeed the Rev. George Cockayn, as pastor of the Independent church, meeting in Hare-court, Aldersgate-street. There he was very useful, and maintained a flourishing congregation as long as he was able to appear in the pulpit. In 1696, he was chosen one of the lecturers upon a Tuesday morning, at Pinners'-Hall. Not long afterwards, the excellent Mr. Matthew Clarke, was chosen into the same lecture; and in their turns, which came both together, there was constantly, for nearly thirty years, a crouded audience. After Mr. Mead's death, these two ministers were the most popular of any in their day, and the annual collection for the fund at this lecture, was larger in their time, than after their decease. It is worthy of remark, that by their advice and influence, the congregational interest was in a great measure kept from parties; but upon their death, which happened nearly at the same time, disunion extensively spread itself.
Mr. Nesbitt laboured with his people for three and thirty years together, with great faithfulness, diligence and success. During all this time, he never missed the administration of the Lord's-Supper, at the usual seasons, above once or twice, and was very seldom absent from his own pulpit on the Lord's-day. His labours were abundantly blessed for conversion and edification; and he watched over the meanest of his flock, with tenderness and compassionate regard. He had long enjoyed a degree of health and vigour which promised as many years of future service as, from his time of life, could be rationally expected. But, by a very sudden and surprising attack of the palsy, which seized him in the
year 1723, he was threatened with immediate dissolution; and though he survived between four and five years, yet he was ever after disabled for his ministerial work. Many ardent prayers were put up for his recovery, both by his own church, and elsewhere; and it pleased God, for some time, to grant him a revival of his intellectual faculties, and an opportunity and ability to reflect upon the frailty of natural life, and on the security of that unseen supernatural, and eternal life, which believers have with Christ in God. But, after a long course of trial of faith and patience, the better to prepare him for another world, it pleased God to take his servant to himself. Sometime before he was taken ill, he used to say, his work was done; and on the very night he felt the distemper come upon him, he prayed in the family very earnestly, that the Lord would not lay upon him more than he would enable him to bear which request was wonderfully answered; for during the whole time of his illness, he shewed great calmness and resignation to the will of God, never murmuring at his hand, but patiently waiting his dismission from this to a better world. When the time came, his departure was very sudden; and on the 22d of October, 1727, in the 67th year of his age, he entered into the joy of his Lord. His funeral sermon was preached by his successor, Mr. John Hurrion, from Col. iii. 3. Your life is hid with Christ in God.
Mr. Nesbitt's qualifications for the ministry were very considerable. He possessed a natural vivacity, strong sense, lively affections, and a ready utterance. His manner of expression was very close and striking, and he was favoured with much of the Divine presence in his work. He had a large acquaintance with the scriptures, and his manner of unfolding and applying them, was very judicious and affecting. In most of his sermons he had a number of apt similes, which rendered them pleasant and useful to his hearers. His discourses were well composed and digested, and evidently the fruit of hard study. He often preached on prac
tical points, but in an evangelical way, teaching his hearers to derive their strength for duty from a crucified and risen Saviour, which was his professed and most delightful subject. He greatly disliked what some call practical preaching, which he used to say, was no other than disguising the Christian faith, and sinking it below some heathen moralists. Of the efficacy of his preaching, Mr. Hurrion has recorded the following example. One of his hearers, upon his deathbed, charged his friend to let Mr. Nesbitt know, that he blessed God for his ministry, which brought him to a clear and saving knowledge of Christ in his person and offices, which, said he, I never attained, though I had been a church member many years, till I came to sit under Mr. Nesbitt's ministry. Our Divine had a well digested knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, and strictly adhered to them, to the very last. He was well acquainted with the controversies between the Calvinists and their opponents; and possessed a happy skill in exposing the absurdities of those who oppose the truth, under pretence of making things above reason more pleasing to what men of corrupt minds take the liberty to call reason. As he derived his faith from the scriptures, and was for going no further in explaining mysteries, than he gained light from them, so he was not afraid nor ashamed to own what he believed, and to stand up for it when attacked. In the close of the seventeenth century, when the controversy relating to the doctrine of justification ran high, he stood by the ancient faith, and appeared with boldness against innovations: at that time, he joined with four other of his brethren in declaring openly against the antinomian errors. Several years afterwards, in the unhappy disputes concerning the Trinity, he cheerfully bore his testimony against any attempt to give up,a doctrine which he considered to be of the last importance; and he thought it no absurdity to subscribe with his hand, the doctrine which he believed in his heart, and preached to the people. In his judgment as to church discipline, he was