George Stocker

The Life And Ministry Of George Stocker

Gospel Standard 1840:

Died, on the 20th September, 1839, Mr. George Stocker, aged seventy years, deacon of the Baptist church of Christ, meeting in Providence chapel, Bedford. By his death his wife has lost a good husband, his children an affectionate father, and the church a sincere friend. But shall we murmur? No! Let us rather be still, and know that He whom we profess to serve is God; he has done that which is perfectly right; he has removed this lily from the garden of grace here below to the paradise of glory above, where it will ever bloom with unfaded beauty. Our loss is his eternal gain. He is now for ever free from sin, which was once his daily burden; he has got beyond the reach of Satan’s temptations and the troubles of the world; he is now in the presence and before the throne of God and the Lamb; he is now quite satisfied upon that which he frequently had his doubts and fears about while here, namely, his interest in the Lord and his safe arrival at that world in which all the inhabitants are constantly praising him “who loved them, and gave himself a ransom price for them.”

G. Stocker was brought up to the church of England, and, like many more who claim a sort of relation to that church, he knew nothing of divine things, neither did he care anything about them, but was a lover of sinful pleasures, and whenever he had an opportunity, he would go to pleasure parties and dancings with his companions; but as Jehovah had fixed his eternal love upon him, and marked out the place where that love should be made known to him, he, in his own wise providence, removed him from the place where he first settled (Elsworth) to Godmanchester, and after-circumstances proved that that was the place at which God had before-ordained to show surpassing grace to him; for, in consequence of not being able to get seats at the parish church, he went to a dissenting meeting-house, in which place the Lord met with him, and gave him to see and feel his guilty state as a sinner before a holy God, the necessity of salvation for himself, and also a knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin. Still his knowledge of God’s truth was very small; but, under the spiritual ministry of Mr. Freeman, his knowledge of divine truth was much increased, his faith established, and his soul abundantly fed with the finest of the wheat and honey out of the Rock, so that he was much attached to Mr. F. and his ministry, and used to speak in the highest terms of both. But, as Mr. F. was mortal in common with all other men, he was taken away by death in the midst of his apparent usefulness, to the great grief of G. S. and many others. However, the Lord was pleased to provide him another teacher in the person of Mr. S—, the present minister of the place, to whom he was much attached also. He (G. S.) was a member and deacon of the church at Godmanchester for several years, and was highly esteemed by all with whom he was connected in church-fellowship. From Godmanchester: he was removed to Bedford; but, alas! there was no gospel here which he could listen to; therefore he did not know what to do for a place to go to on the Lord’s day, to hear of him whom his soul loved. After having tried all places of worship in the town, without finding what he wanted, (food for the soul) he heard of a few discontented ones who met in a little place to pray, and read the word of God, and other good books. To this place he went the next Lord’s day, and found it good to be there. He cast in his lot among the few discontented ones, for he was as discontented with Bedford divinity as they were, and he was the means several of the dear Lord’s servants (Hardy, &c.) coming to Bedford, and preaching a free-grace gospel to the people.

Once, in the year 1829, he and some others exerted themselves to obtain a suitable place to meet in, and also to get a minister to preach the word of God to them, both of which the Lord favoured them with in the following year. A congregation was collected and a church formed, and he was chosen as one of the deacons, which office he filled up to the period of his death. I always found him to be a steady friend, an admirer of sterling truth, a lover of God’s people, regular in his attendance upon the means of grace, and one that rejoiced at the prosperity of God’s Zion. He had very mean thoughts of himself and exalted ones of Jesus. He would frequently speak of his own sinfulness, ignorance, helplessness, and unworthiness, and of the great mercy of God in saving, such a wretch as he felt himself to be. He was frequently favoured with the Lord’s presence and blessing when sitting under the sound of the gospel, for I have often seen his countenance shine, and his eyes flow with tears while his ears have been listening to the tale of love. He had no hope of immortal happiness but in Jesus crucified; his faith remained firm to the end, so that he died in the unaltered confidence of the truth of what he had professed for many years, and which will be seen by what dropped from his lips during his illness. He was taken ill of the typhus fever on the 2nd of September, and on the third day after he said to Mr. Collins, who went to shave him, “I am again laid on the bed of affliction, and what may be the result of it I cannot tell; but if death shall be the consequence, I am perfectly prepared for it, for being built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, I can triumph over death.” The first night his nurse sat up with him, he said to her, “What place of worship do you go to?” She replied, “The old meeting,” (that is, the place in which John Bunyan preached) He said, “There is death in the pot there; I go to the despised place called Providence chapel, where I believe the gospel is preached.” After a little more conversation with her, he said, “Let us pray,” which, leaning upon his elbow, he did in a very earnest manner for his children, those who were near to him in the bonds of the gospel, and for the prosperity of Zion. To another friend he spoke of the comfort he felt in his mind, for the Lord had favoured him with a blessed faith’s view of the atonement of Christ, and of all his sins being for ever removed from him and swallowed up in-the sea of atoning-blood.

On the Lord’s day previous to his death, bis daughter (Eliza) asked him how he felt in his mind. He said his soul well knew his standing, which was upon the Rock of Ages; but while I have this combustible (meaning depraved nature) I shall have gun-shot from the enemy, but in a few days the conflict will be over, and I shall be laid in a very small focus. To his surgeon he said, “We are all upon a level, and salvation is all of grace from first to last.”

On the morning before his death, two of his sons came to my house between five and six o’clock, and told me that he was much worse. I immediately went with them to see him, and when I got into the room I asked him how he was. He said, “Rather better.” I then asked him if he knew me, (for he had been insensible before.) He said, “Yes,” I then said to him, “Who am I?” to which he immediately replied, “My beloved pastor.” Having thus ascertained that he was sensible, I asked him if he was quite satisfied in his mind of the truth of the things which he had professed for so many years; to which he replied in the affirmative, and that in a way which fully proved that he knew his need of the things of God, and also felt something of the blessedness of them in his own soul. I further said to him, “I suppose you cannot give up any part of the truth which you hope the Holy Ghost has taught you?” “No;” said he, “if I give up one part I must give up the whole; but I cannot do without it all; nothing but a whole Christ and complete salvation will do for me.” I also asked him if he saw a real suitability in Jesus to his case as a poor sinner; to which he replied with some degree of feeling, “O yes!”, then spoke to him of the blessedness of being brought by the Spirit to know Jesus and his finished salvation for ourselves. After which he spoke of his unworthiness, and of its being an exceeding great mercy for him that salvation is entirely of grace. We then endeavoured to approach the mercy seat to ask the Lord for his much-needed blessing, and, after bidding him “Good morning,” I returned home to my wife (who was at that time, to all appearance, at death’s door, having been very severely afflicted with the fever, but from which the good Lord has in mercy restored her) in hopes that the affliction was not unto death, but for the glory of God. But when I went again in the afternoon, I found him to be in what was considered a dying state, and not capable of understanding what was said to him. In the interval between these two visits he attempted to sing the 143rd hymn, ” Rock of Ages, shelter me,” &c.; but he could only get through the first verse. He revived a little before he died, and said, “A poor sinner going to Jesus! Sweet Jesus! My dear Lord Jesus.” The last thing that he was heard to say was the conclusion of a prayer, which was, “in whom (Jesus) may I be found in life, and in death, and be enabled to ascribe the kingdom, power, and glory, to Father, Son, and Spirit, to-night and for ever. Amen.” Soon after this, he fell asleep in Jesus.

On Monday the 24th, his body was interred in a grave at the north-west end of St. Paul’s church yard, and his funeral sermon was preached in Providence chapel on the Lord’s day morning, by his beloved minister, from Solomon’s Song 2:2.

E. C. T.

Bedford, 1839

George Stocker (1769-1839) was a Strict and Particular Baptist deacon. He served the church meeting in Providence Chapel, Bedford.