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THIS pious and learned divine was born at Great Waldingfield in Essex, January 17th, 1574. He was educated in Pembrokehall, Cambridge, and afterwards chosen fellow of Emanuel College. His father was the learned and laborious Dr. Crook, preacher to the honorable society of Gray’s inn, and descended from an ancient family. Mr. Crook was held in great estimation in the university on account of his brilliant talents, and the uncommon progress he made in all the branches of useful and polite learning. He was chosen reader of rhetoric and philosophy in the public schools, and filled these offices with honor and applause. While at Cambridge, he was a hearer of Mr. Perkins, and a great admirer of that excellent divine. Mr. Crook preached first for some short time at Caxton, near Cambridge; and, in 1692, was invited to Wrington in Somersetshire, as pastor of that church; which he accepted.
Upon his settlement at Wrington, Mr. Crook was indefatigable in his ministerial labors, and succeeded much beyond his expectations. He preached regularly three times every week, or oftener, as occasion required, and that during his whole life, with a conversation corresponding with his labors and the doctrines he inculcated; so that the affections of his people increased towards him to the end of his days.’ In his preparations for the ministry, Mr. Crook had laid in a large stock of useful knowledge, and now he began to lay it out in the service of Christ and his church with an unsparing hand. Determined not to serve the Lord with that which cost him nothing, his pulpit preparations were always’ made with the most critical attention. His sermons were grave, judicious, and appropriate, and his applications were carried to the hearts of his hearers by a powerful and pleasing eloquence. His motto was, “I am willing to spend and be spent in tbe service of the gospel.” During a time of sickness, the physician told him, he might live’ longer if he would preach less. “Alas J (said he) if I may not preach, I cannot live. What good would my life do me if hindered from prosecuting the very end for which I desire to live?” When laboring under the infirmities of old age, he often preached when he could scarcely walk to the house of Godj and even then his sermons were delivered with his usual vivacity. He did not amuse his people with airy speculations, but fed them with the substantial provision laid up for the church in the sacred repository of the divine word; from which, as a wise steward, he drew forth milk for babes, and strong meat for grown men. He is said to have been the first, in that part of the country, who brought extempore prayer into use, an exercise in which he greatly excelled.
He labored in the Lord’s vineyard, with little interruption, something better than fortyseven years, during which period he was instrumental in bringing many wandering sinners to Christ’s sheepfold. It is true, the bishop, on one occasion, put down his lecture; but it was so ordered by God, that the bishop was cast out of his office, and the lecture revived. During a life of nearly seventyfive years, he had witnessed many changes in the church; nor was he without a shaze of the sufferings allotted to the serious worshippers of God in these troublesome times. During the parliamentary war, the rude soldiers tyrannized over him, even in his own house. They followed him into his study with drawn swords, swearing they would put him to instant death for not joining them in their bloody cause. The Lord, however delivered him from all these enemies.
During his last sickness, Mr. Crook solemnly protested, that the doctrines he had taught were the truths of God; and that in these doctrines consisted all his salvation and all his desire. He received the notice of his approaching death not only with composure, but with cheerfulness; and having no prospect of laboring any more in the church of Christ, he requested his friends not to pray for the continuance of his life, but for tbe spirit of faith, patience, and repentance, and for that joy and peace in believing which the Holy Spirit vouchsafes to the heirs of the heavenly inheritance. “Lord (said he), cast me down as low as hell in repentance and humiliation; but O raise me to heaven in faith, love, and joy in thy salvation.” The Tuesday before he died, he said, “This day week is the day on which we used to remember the nativity of Christ, and on this day I have preached Christ crucified. I shall hardly live to see it again; but my consolation is, that for me, even for me, was this child born, and to me was this Son given.” He died, December 25th, 1649, in the seventyfifth year of his age. Mr. Clark says, “He was a person of quick apprehension, a lively imagination, a profound judgment, an excellent memory, and possessed of great learning and piety. He was grave without being austere, courteous and pleasant, without either levity or hypocrisy, and charitable almost to a fault.” Fuller has placed him on the list of the learned writers of Emanuel College, Cambridge.
His works are, 1. Three Sermons.—2. Death Subdued.—3. The Guide to True Blessedness.—4. Divine Characters.