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Containing fome Minutes of the Rev. AUTHOR'S Life and Character.
INCE Books are usually valu'd as well for the Author, as the Contents, had the late venerable Mr. WALTER'S Name and Worth been as univerfally known in the World, as
he was juftly reverenc'd and lov'd by all acquainted with his Perfon and Character, the genuine Remains of fo excellent a Divine might have been ventur❜d abroad upon the meer Credit of the Title Page. But as Cuftom makes it decent to introduce a pofthumous Work with a commendatory Preface, fo this feems requifite, in regard of Readers who may have heard little or nothing of the Rev. Author, to prepare them for a fuitable Reception and Entertainment of thefe his Writings; and likewife, in regard of athers who knew him well, or have heard much of him, to refresh and excite their Minds, by Way of Remembrance. And as for ourselves, having been long favour'd with his Acquaintance and Friendship, this has made us Debtors to his Memory: nor could we perfuade ourselves to let thefe Difcourfes appear in Print without being accompany'd with a refpectful Memorial of the Writer; though we cou'd have wifh'd, this had been lodg'd in fome other and better Hands.
The Materials of the Account here given of him, are collected, partly from what has been publifh'd already, partly from Roxbury-Church Records, partly from our own perfonal Knowledge and Converfation with Him, and partly from Informations receiv'd of his People.JA
He was the Son of worthy Parents, who originally came from Lancashire in England.He had his Birth in Ireland, fometime in December 1663. And there was initiated in Grammar-Learning, at one of their beft Schools, where he diftinguifh'd himself by his Proficiency particularly in the Latin Tongue, which by that Time he was 13 Years old, he was fuch a Mafter of, as to be capable of readily converfing in it, which he often had Opportunity to do, with Popia Scholars in his Neighbourhood, who had learnt to speak it rather more fluently, by Rote; and in his Difputes with them, he found it a fingular Advantage to him, that he had fuch frequent Occafion to tax them of falfe Grammar, and cou'd cite them to the Rule; which ferv'd to put them to the Blush, or at leaft bring them to a Pause, and to give him Leafure to recollect his Thoughts..
Sometime in (or perhaps a little before) the Year 1680, when the Prevalence of Popery greatly threatned Ireland,his Father Mr. Thomas Walter removed thence, and came over to New England; bringing with him this his hopeful Son. Here he was firft put to learn a Trade: but it was foon found, his Genius lay quite another Way, and inclined him wholly to Letters. His Book was his Delight. Accordingly, with a View to perfect his School-Education, and prepare him for the College, he was committed so the Care of the famous Mr. CHEEVER, then Master of the Publick Grammar School in Boston; who, upon a fhort Examination and Experiment, return'd him to his Father, with a great Encomium, pronouncing him already well flock'd with Claffick Learning, and abundantly furnish'd to enter upon Academical Studies.
In the 17th Year of his Age, he was admitted into Harvard College, A. D. 1680, when the very learned Mr. OAKES was Prefident, and Mr. Daniel Gookin and Mr. Samuel Andrews, Fellows though the former of thefe foon removing, was fucceeded by Mr. JOHN COTTON, afterwards Minifter of Hampton; who always mention'd Mr. Walter's Name with peculiar Affection and Refpect,
and wou'd frequently take occafion to speak of his fingular Progrefs in Learning while a Student at Cambridge, with much Applause.
Anno 1684, he commenc'd Batchelor of Arts and Mafter in 1687. In the Interim, Mr. NELSON, a noted Merchant in Boston, who had a great Intereft and Trade with the French at Port-Royal (now Annapolis) in NovaScotia, made him the Offer of a Voyage with him thither, in order to learn their Language; which Invitation he gratefully accepted. And the more speedily to effect his Defign, presently on his Arrival he retired from the Fort, that he might be out of all English Converfation, and fojourn'd for several Months in a private Gentleman's Family at a Diftance, where he could hear nothing spoken but in the Language he was aiming to acquire. It was a fober, and (in the Romish way) a religious Family: the Heads of which he was wont to speak of with great Gratitude for their handfom Treatment of him, and to express his charitable Hopes concerning them, as really pious, upon the Obfervations he had made of them.After paffing a few Months there, he return'd very much. a Master of the Language; in which he afterwards more fully perfected himself, by reading of French Authors, and by frequently conferring with fome Proteftant Refugees of that Nation; a fmall Affembly of whom subsisted for many Years (and till very lately) at Boston, to which in the Absence of their Paftor, he has fometimes preached, in their own Tongue, to their Edification; though, at the fame Time, he declin'd praying with them in it, perhaps from a modeft Sufpicion of his own Sufficiency for doing this either extempore, or memoriter, and not chufing to read a written Form.-But he was certainly able to difcourfe very promptly in the French Language, and good Judges. have faid, with great Propriety. His Knowledge of that Tongue he accounted a vaft Privilege, which he frequently mentioned with Thankfulness to God; particularly as it gave him the Opportunity of confulting many valuable inftructive Books, that otherwise
he must have been unacquainted with and accordingly his well-furnish'd Library confifted, in great Part, of Protestant Authors in the French Language; among whom thofe famous Divines, Meffieurs CLAUDE and PLACETT, were fingularly valu'd by him.
Returned from his Travels, he purfued his Studies at College, for feveral Years with clofe Application; difcovering a laudable Thirst after Increase in all useful Literature, and giving Proofs of his Industry and Ingenuity, by his exemplary Proficience in the liberal Arts and Sciences.He had a great Command of the Latin Tongue, became a Critick in the Greek, and had a good Infight into the Hebrew attain'd to a confiderable Acquaintance with Philofophical Inquiries; and in fhort, poffefs'd a happy Fund both of human and divine Learning.-He was indeed much of a Humanist; though Divinity rather was his Favourite Study. He bore fo fuperior a Figure among the Scholars of his Day, that in their Debates upon any Point, whether Philological, or Theological, ftill He was appeal'd to, and bis Opinion was wont to be generally decifive.-It reflected a Luftre on his Character, that the memorable Mr. ELIJAH CORLET, Mafter of the Grammar School in Cambridge, ufed to exprefs a diftinguishing Value for him, by employing him to officiate at Times in the Care of his School, when obliged to be abfent himself; always efteeming his Place well fup-ply'd by Mr. Walter, and fully confiding in his Skill, Prudence, and Diligence. And on Mr. Corlet's Death Anno 1687, Æt, 77.) Mr. Walter, to exprefs his Grati rude and Honour to the Memory of fo deferving a Perfon, publifh'd an Elegy, done in blank English Verfe; beginning with a modeft Apology for its appearing in that Form, and in that Language.-Mr. STONE, the late worthy and aged Paftor of Harwich, having made his chief Progrefs in School-Learning under that very excellent Divine, the Rev. Mr. NEHEMIAH HOBART of Newtown, had his last Preparation for the College by Mr. Walters; whom he daily attended at his Chamber in Cambridge, tra
velling thither on Foot every Morning, though above a Mile from his Father's Houfe; and for whom he ever maintained a very high Efteem.
Mr. Walter early began to acquaint himfelf with Church Hiftory; in which he grew to be very well verfed: particularly in thofe Branches of it referring to the first Ages of Christianity, to the Romish Apoftacy, and the Proteftant Reformation. He was well ftudy'd too in the Popish Controverfies; in the Lutheran, and in the Arminian Controverfies; alfo in the Difciplinary Difputes among Proteftants-impartially reading the Controverfial Writings on all Sides, and weighing their feveral Arguments with his best Skill. Particularly he took this Method to fettle his Judgment in the Epifcopal and Prefbyterian Controverfies (or those between the Church and Diffenters in England, and between Prefbyterians and Congregationals) confulting the moft eminent Writers on each Side of the Queftion and after much Deliberation, he fell in with the Way of the Churches in New England; as thinking their Conftitution and Practice in general, with refpect to Worship, Difcipline and Order, moft conformable to Gof pel-Inftitution and primitive Practice, as well as to the Principles of the Reformation, refpecting the Rights of Confcience and private Judgment, the Perfection and Obligation of the Scripture Rule, and the Supremacy of Chrift as fole Head of the Church. Accordingly, he was firmly attached to the Congregational way but ftill preferv'd a Candour for pious People of a different Perfuafion; and indeed was fometimes ready to think, that certain Modalities in Religion, wherein Proteftants vary from one another, had an immoderate Strefs laid upon them.
With him the holy Scriptures were the Teft of Ortho. doxy, and Measure of Truth. He took the Word of Chrift for the Guide of his Thoughts in Religion, and from thence form'd his Sentiments upon the feveral Dottrines, which have been the Subjects of fo many warm Controverfies in the Church from Age to Age. He had a Reverence for the Memory of many of the primitive Fathers,