In the early part of 1816, the frost was long and Intense, and a number of mariners that sailed out of the port of Liverpool, were out of employ. Notwithstanding the provision made for them by the authorities and respectable inhabitants, there were several in a state of great destitution. Resolved to lend his quota of help, the Doctor sent to Liverpool for twenty-five of these brave fellows, some of whom had fought their country's battles, and fed them for three weeks. Not having convenience to accommodate them with beds, a quantity of dry wheat straw was strewed on clean boarded floors, with an ample supply of blankets. During the day, they leveled a piece of ground to form a carriage-road to the house. One of them stood cook; and as soon as meal-time arrived, the Doctor was sure to be present to see that they had enough.
The Doctor's benevolence was like the ocean -- deep, pure, expansive, and yielding; it had its daily flowings and its ebbings; but whenever it seemed to retire within itself, it was only occasioned by the law of necessity: it returned with a kind of spring-tide power. One of these spring-tide feelings may be named:-- He went to Manchester -- while there, some poor Irish people heard of his visit, and assailed him with their complaints of wretchedness. Pat's tale of woe was too touching for the Doctor to resist; and forgetting the prudence which ought to be an attendant on charity, as well as feeling his nationality, he relieved himself of a considerable sum given by Mrs. Clarke for the purchase of various articles; and left her commission unfulfilled. "Money," he remarked, "never stays with me;" and then playfully subjoined, "I am sometimes called to book for it; but my answer is, 'Well, Mary dear, all I can say is, I have not spent it on myself.'" Speaking of charity, on another occasion, he said -- (not, be it observed, in the language of self-adulation, but by way of incentive,) "it is rare, indeed, that I send a beggar away without giving him as much as will procure food for the day. I was amused lately with a person who solicited alms; he was low in stature, and had something on his feet that had been shoes once; on relieving him, I said, it is a pity to see you in that plight; on which, the little fellow turned round, and said, 'Sir, I am in this state, while some of God's swine are riding in carriages;' then, with a stately step, strutted off." Some curious remarks would steal out from the Doctor himself now and then, when inward emotions were exhibited by external indications. "I do not very well like the appearance of that man," said he to the writer, respecting another person who had solicited alms; "he has a face drawn up by cross tempers, like the puckered heel of an ill-darned stocking." Then, as if he had been too severe, by way of softening matters, he added, "I sometimes find my own face puckered up, but on detecting it, I instantly say, -- .' it shall not be so.'"
The Wesleyan Mission to the East Indies had begun, ere this, to exhibit some signs of success; and the brethren aware of the interest Doctor Clarke took in the spread of evangelical truth, forwarded several interesting communications to him; nor was he without joy of heart in learning from Mr. Toase, instances of the success of the labor bestowed on the French prisoners of war, in the river Medway, and elsewhere; some of them, on their deliverance from captivity, on the restoration of peace, and when embosomed in their own families, writing to England, and expressing with grateful emotions, the good they had received from Mr. Toase himself, and others., Success was invariably connected, in the Doctor's mind, with the honest and affectionate enforcement of truth. A reverend gentle-roan was congratulating himself on what he supposed to be the effect of his conduct and his ministry: "I have had the charge of a flock," said he to the Doctor, "now nearly forty years, and have had nothing but peace and good neighborhood among my parishioners during the whole of that time." The Doctor having some slight knowledge of the gentleman, and not altogether ignorant of his pulpit furniture, bluntly replied, for the purpose of making a deeper impression, "I am very sorry to hear it, for a ministry of such a date ought to have raised either God or the devil before now;" glancing at that view of the subject which our Lord has given us -- "I came not to send peace, but a sword."
Notwithstanding the quiet of rural life, the Doctor, (like most persons long accustomed to the metropolis, where everything, however trivial, is within reach, and which only becomes important as its want is felt,) experienced a few occasional inconveniences; some of which, however, became sources of amusement rather than pain. One may be noticed:-- His own razors being out of order, he desired his hair-dresser to send him one; two were immediately sent, No. 1, and No. 2, in a case. The trial of the first was far from satisfactory; and the other was still worse: he, however, proceeded in the operation; and while hackling and scraping -- the tears, meanwhile, rolling copiously down his cheeks, he gave utterance to the following homely, though amusing impromptu:-
"You may take number one, And, if that will not do, You next may go on, And try number two; To shave -- if with neither -Should be your mishap, Then rectify either, By using the strap."
The hair-dresser had fortunately sent a strop with the razors. "For the last forty years," said the Doctor, "I have tried to understand the philosophy of dipping a razor into hot water, in order to give it a keener edge, and so make it cut more freely; but have been unable to comprehend it." Yet, though not altogether satisfied on the subject of which he professed ignorance, he had entered into it as far as many, and then rested in the enjoyment of a more agreeable operation; being the result of the fact he could not satisfactorily explain. 
The writer, on looking at a portrait of Doctor Franklin, which was in the possession of Doctor Clarke, was led to offer some remarks on the execution; and these again led to the literary history of that celebrated man. "Doctor Franklin," said he, when speaking of emphatic words, printed in the italic character, "regretted that there was not something in typography which would express, by the character employed for the occasion, the different degrees of force and emphasis which a writer wished to give to his meaning: this he considered a serious defect;" and so, also, it was judged to be by Doctor Clarke himself, who was more solicitous of meaning than style: hence the endless examples of it in his Notes, Sermons, and other writings. He was equally curious in his etymological remarks, and affinities of language. "I have observed," said he, "among the simple, honest inhabitants of the county of Antrim and Londonderry, in Ireland, that the common name for the devil or Satan, is -- The Sorrow: a good sense of the original word, Ho Ponayros, the Wicked One, the Evil One, the Sorrow. He who is miserable himself, and whose aim is to make all others so. Where sin is, there is sorrow." Then, adverting to sin and sinners, he said, "the sins of the wicked, in their immediate results, and future consequences, are, in their relations, like so many links in an immense chain, the last of which is fastened to the burning throne of the arch-fiend of hell."
Though Doctor Clarke avoided the ornate, he was a foe to all carelessness. Some young men, as is usual, were examined previously to their being received into full connection: one of these, on coming up to the table, dipped his pen into the ink, and then, finding he had taken up too much, shook his hand, and scattered it on the floor, to prevent blotting the paper. The Doctor, with a view to make a more permanent impression, as well as to instruct him in some other niceties, called him to him, and said, -- "When you wish to shake the superfluous ink from the pen, (taking a clean one in his hand, and suiting the action to it,) take care to sprinkle it always on your own white neckerchief, where it will be seen, and be sure to be taken off." The young man felt it, and so did others: the lesson intended was, -- that carelessness in little things, will lead to neglect in matters of greater moment.
He was especially anxious that a proper bias should be given to the mind in early life. This induced him to deliver a course of lectures to a select academy of young gentlemen; some of whom were intended for the church, some for the bar, and some for the army. After the delivery of one of them, several of the gentlemen begged to be favored with the definitions and leading principles. To oblige them, the whole was drawn up and published under the title of, -- "The Origin and End of Civil Government," founded on Romans xiii. L In the delivery of this lecture he quoted no authorities; but poured forth his sentiments from the general knowledge he had of the principles of just government, and from his acquaintance with the civil constitution under which he had the happiness to live; to deal with which, he was the better qualified from the course of reading and study required by the Record Commission. All party politics were avoided; these he abhorred; and he steered equally clear of these in his Discourse on "The Rights of God and Cæsar," on Matt. xxii. 15-21, in which are several topics capable of being incorporated in the former; and which, in all probability, would have occupied a space there, had not the occasion dictated the propriety of observing brevity. Though the Doctor was fully aware that the biographer was in the habit of preserving memoranda on literary subjects of general interest, which turned up in the course of conversation, and would playfully remark on what ought, and what ought not to be preserved;  yet, in reference to his extempore addresses, in the pulpit, he was extremely jealous; and dealt out, with an unsparing hand, some heavy blows against short-hand writers, who were in the habit of appropriating a minister's public discourses to their own private gain. He observed, "I was in a house once, in which the lady and her husband had, just before I entered,. some unpleasant words with each other: it was' like a heavy swell at sea between adverse tides, with one wave at the prow and another at the stern of the vessel; the swell continued, and at length Mrs. _____, addressing me, said, "My husband, Sir, has been employing a shorthand writer to take down your sermons, with a view to publish them after your death." This was permitted to pass, for the moment, with the simple statement, "no man can follow me, and I reprobate the act." Some time after this, observed the Doctor, "I asked the gentleman to show me the sermons; this he refused, except on condition that I promised to return them: this, I did; but on their being placed in my hand, a match might have been lighted at the man's face; and well might he redden, for I found arguments without conclusions, and conclusions without arguments. This," continued the Doctor, when the same subject was on the tapis, some years afterwards, on the publication of his Sermons, in three vols. 8vo. -- "this is the key to the prefatory remarks to my Discourses." Another gentleman, a very popular preacher, told the Doctor one day, that he had two or three of his sermons in MS., which had been taken down by one of his congregation. The Doctor said, "If any man had presented me with two sermons, stated to have been delivered by you, I should, before I had looked at them, have asked him -- Does Mr. -- , know of this? has he seen them? does he acknowledge them to be his? has he had the opportunity of correcting them, and so, of preventing you from putting forth words not his own? If he could not have answered these questions in the affirmative, I should have immediately returned them without perusal. Mr. , looked abashed: and though in habits of intimacy before, and still on friendly terms, when accidentally thrown in each others way, he never came to the house afterwards. My papers I purpose leaving to my sons: my letters are not worth publishing; they are mere letters of business. During one of the years of my presidency, I wrote three hundred Connectional letters alone; but the interest of these died with the day." It is unnecessary to state, that this estimate of many of his letters is too low.
On Boswell's Life of Johnson being named, he said, "Boswell's vanity is every where perceptible; yet he has preserved a great many useful things, which otherwise would have been lost." It was remarked by the biographer, in reply to this, that it was impossible not to have a pleasurable feeling in his association with such a man as Johnson; and that, though his admiration of his subject might lead him astray, his feeling was no other than that of every other historian, who attempts the life of an esteemed friend; and who, after all, is left with a discretionary power, as to the character of the materials which are to be employed for his work: should those materials be as ample as were Boswell's, it will not be matter of surprise to find friendship, which, like love, is very often without eyes, dealing out its "littleness." " But you will allow, Doctor," was continued, "that it is the best method of writing a life; and that the history of such men as Sir Isaac Newton, Boyle, La Place, and others of a higher order of intellect, would be highly beneficial to society; as in the case of Selden's 'Table Talk,' published by Milward, his amanuensis!" Conversing one day in his study with his eldest daughter, the subject of biography was introduced; when she observed, -- "There is no style of biography, I think, so generally interesting as that adopted by Boswell in his life of Dr. Johnson."
Dr. C. -- "In its application to great literary characters, and perhaps also to travelers, your observation, is perfectly correct; and if Boswell had not hit upon that plan of noting down Doctor Johnson's conversation, the world would have known comparatively little of that great man."
A. -- "But do you not think it would be the most agreeable and most natural way in which the facts of a life can be thrown together, in order to form a correct portrait? because, if you have the opinions and fulness of the subject, as given forth in his every day remarks, you must necessarily feel yourself in company with him." Dr. C. -- "Why this would suppose mind to be constituted more generally alike, than we really find it to be; in numerous instances, Boswell's plan would be impracticable: even in the case of Doctor Johnson it could not be fully carried out; he knew he was speaking for the public, and was, therefore, circumspect; thus, in some measure, it might be said of him, that, in the fulness of his sufficiency, he was in straits; he was ever on his guard, and spoke for the press; so, many of what were really the most natural points of character, could not be caught."
A. -- "Boswell was not, it appears to me, a man of high intellectual endowments." Dr. C. -- "No; but he had a vast memory, and was almost a worshipper of Johnson: then he could follow him without weariness, indeed with perfect admiration, through all his changes of mind, as well as his caprices of temper: hence he was, in many respects, well-fitted. for his work."
A. -- "I have often wished you had some friend of this sort: there are so many important historical and literary facts, and so much curious incident you are continually telling, that it seems a great pity they should be lost, and very many of these are little known; most of the anecdotes, indeed, only to yourself." Dr. C. -- "Why, there would be this great difference between the cases of Doctor Johnson and my own, -- I never could talk for the press: I could not bind myself down to the plan, which there is no doubt he kept in view, in all his conversations; especially when in the society of Boswell: yet there are many curious things which will be lost when I am gone; and many queer ones, too, will be buried with poor Adam."
In April of this year, Doctor Clarke went up to London, where he presided on the 25th, at the Annual Missionary Meeting, in City-Road Chapel. He made a tour, too, through part of Lancashire, Westmoreland, Scotland, and Ireland, in the months of June and July, in company with some friends. The lakes and the mountains, especially Skiddaw and Helvelyn, among the latter, were objects of unusual interest; Kendal, Keswick, Penrith, Carlisle, Gretna Green, the birthplace of Burns, &c., all shared in his remarks. They proceeded to Port-Patrick, in order to embark for Donaghadee, and arrived at Belfast on the 23rd of June. "His visit to Belfast," a friend remarked, who was present on the occasion, "was most seasonable. He attended our love-feast on the Lord's day, and spoke his experience with great simplicity, testifying his happy enjoyment of salvation, by faith in the atonement and intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ -- of which he felt assured, as well by rational demonstration, as by the witness of the Holy Spirit. On the evening of the same day he addressed an overflowing audience, from Luke vii. 20-23, setting forth, in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power, the glory of Immanuel, God with us, as manifested to the Jewish nation, by the display of his miracles. Next day, we were favored with his company to breakfast, with a number of Christian friends, who were anxious to enjoy the privilege of his conversation." On leaving Belfast, the Doctor and his friends visited the scenes of early days, Glenarm, Coleraine, Port-Stuart, Garvah, Grove, Maghera, and other places,, embraced mostly in the tour of 1811, with a few additional towns and villages. On leaving the north of Ireland, they proceeded to Dublin, where the Doctor attended the Irish Conference, at which he presided; and whose valuable services are the subject of eulogy in the "Address" of the Irish Conference for the year.
Some of the descriptions of the wretchedness of the Irish peasantry, whom the Doctor visited in the course of his journey, deeply affected the biographer, when he heard them narrated; especially the case of a beautiful young woman, about eighteen years of age, nursing her first child, in a hut with scarcely any furniture, a little fire on the mud floor, with the daylight shining through the walls, which, in the expressive language of the Doctor, "were run up without either sod, mud, or a single table-spoonful of lime, to knit the stones together, or keep out the cold:" and, also, the case of Nanny Morray, an old woman, who dwelt in the cleft of a rock, open to the sea, and dripping with wet, whose chief support was the milk of a goat; a drink of which she gave the visitors, and of which the Doctor was somewhat shy of partaking; having a prejudice, as he observed, against any milk but that which came from the udder of the cow. The driver of the vehicle, who was standing by, either out of jest, or from an idea that the cave was a suitable place for the concealment of such an article, asked, "Why don't ye giff the gintlemen some whiskey?" Here the old woman cast a suspicious glance at the Doctor, who had his ink-bottle suspended at his breast, as though a little apprehensive of the presence of an excise officer. his kindness and bounty soon relieved her, while he felt grateful for the opportunity of imparting happiness to a fellow-creature passing her days in a place not fit for the lair even of a brute; without shoes or stockings, a damp bed, and the water oozing through the swamp on the pressure of the foot.
He was only a short time at home before he had to leave to attend the sittings of the English Conference, held in London. Here he accompanied the remains of his old friend, the Rev. Samuel Bradburn, to the grave, and read the funeral service on the occasion. His views of Mr. Bradburn, as an orator, have been already expressed. It may be added, and this is from personal knowledge, that the whole frame-work of Mr. Bradburn's person was noble and commanding: such was the flexibility of muscle which he possessed, that, like Garrick, he could have thrown the various emotions of the soul into every feature of his face: in addition to this advantage he brought to bear, in the more splendid and solemn passages of his discourses, a full, rich, mellow voice; and the effect was frequently overwhelming. His genius, too, was of no ordinary kind: as a speaker, he was what has been said of some writers, too full to be exact; and, therefore, preferred throwing down his pearls in heaps before his auditory, rather than being at the pains of stringing them; but then, it was here, also, that his danger lay; as it occasionally pushed him to extravagance. If the sentiments be correct, that, in oratory, Artis est celare artem, he exhibited this quality in perfection. There was no appearance of affectation, -- no smell of the lamp, -- no rhetorical excursions or flourishes, to supply the place of argument; he acted as a person who deems it better for a man, as a writer observes, who is doubtful of his pay, to take an ordinary silver piece with its due stamp upon it, than a gilded piece which may perchance contain a baser metal under it; and who prefers a well-favored virtuous woman, though with a tawny complexion, before a besmeared and painted face. His eloquence, when at the highest pitch, left scarcely any room for reflection; but addressed itself very often to the imagination and the affections, and at once captivated the heart, while his reasoning subdued the understanding. He scorned the beaten. path, and was, as Goldsmith would express 'himself -- -though often to his hurt, "bravely eccentric." And such is the destiny of men of superior powers, that their genius incessantly exposes them to be the butt of the envenomed darts of calumny and envy. Though Mr. Bradburn's fine temper very often shielded him from severity, yet he shared the common fate of "greatness " -- deserved or undeserved -- and respecting which the poet of nature exclaims:-
"Millions of false eyes Are struck upon thee! Volumes of report Run with these false and most contrarious quests Upon thy doings! Thousand 'scapes of wit Make thee the father of their idle dream, And rack thee in their fancies."
As life advanced, and eternity dawned upon him, he became more spiritual; and realized the picture of Sir P. Sidney; -- "The great, in affliction, bear a countenance more princely than they are wont; for it is the temper of the highest, like the palm-tree, to strive most upwards, when it is most burdened."
Everything good and great in man was honored by Doctor Clarke; because of the source whence every good and perfect gift flows. Truth, therefore, in every form, received his homage, and was held with the tenacity of life. That he differed from some of his brethren, and ultimately with the Conference, when the controversy became a Connectional matter, on one theological subject, at least, is a matter of notoriety and, though there is no disposition to enter either into the subtleties of the point in question, or into a detailed history of the debate, yet to pass it over in silence would argue either timidity on the part of the biographer, or unfaithfulness towards the subject of the memoir; while, to enlarge, would only be the means of awakening a feeling, which, since it has been hushed to repose for several years, it would be injudicious to disturb. It will be readily perceived, that reference is here made to the doctrine of the ETERNAL SONSHIP of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Though the Doctor's view of the subject was published in 1813, it had excited little attention, (except with a very limited number in social life,) till 1815, when a somewhat covert attack was made upon him in the Methodist Magazine, in the shape of an eulogy upon Doctor Coke. When Mr. Benson threw open the door of that authorized periodical of the body to the opponents of Doctor Clarke, a host of writers rushed in, and kept up a running fire till 1819, when the Conference interfered. Some of the writers were but ill equipped for the fight, being more distinguished for their zeal than for acuteness or profundity: not knowing how much more honorable it is to the head, as well as to the heart, to be misled by eagerness in the pursuit of truth, than to be safe from blundering by contempt of it; but these sharp-shooters seemed quite blinded to the fact, that the mind must be in a state insusceptible of knowledge, when there is rather an eagerness felt to detect a possible fallacy, than a sincere wish to discover how much truth there is in a man's arguments. The ready admission of these papers gave great offence to many, who were by no means friendly to the Doctor's views; several addresses were forwarded to the latter, from Salford, and other societies, some of which were as annoying to him as the attacks: for being a lover of peace, he dreaded any thing like angry feeling settling in the breasts of 'any of the people. Several pamphlets were also published on both sides, but especially against the view contained in the Doctor's Notes. With the exception of two or three, they expired with the day. The Conference, as stated, took up the subject, and drew out of it a test for candidateship to the ministry; maintaining the view opposed to that of the Doctor as its own. The latter stated his opinion in his Notes on Luke i. 35, -- confirmed them in Acts xiii. 32, and Hebrews i. 5, -- and defended them at the close of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
A conversation which Doctor Clarke had with Mr. Wesley on the subject, supports the view taken of it by the Wesleyan Conference. "On the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of the Divine Nature of Christ," he observed, "I once had the privilege of conversing with Mr. John Wesley, about three years before his death: he read from a book, in which I had written it, the arguments against this doctrine; which now stands in the note on Luke i. 35. He did not attempt to reply to it; but allowed, that, on the ground on which I had taken it, the argument was conclusive. I observed, that the proper essential Divinity of Jesus Christ appeared to me to be absolutely necessary to the whole Christian scheme, and to the faith of penitent sinners and saints; that it was of the utmost importance to set it in the clearest and strongest light; and that, with my present conviction, I could not credit it, if I must receive the common doctrine of the Sonship of the Divine nature of our Lord. He mentioned two eminent divines who were of the same opinion; and added, that the eternal Sonship of Christ had been a doctrine very generally received in the Christian church: and he believed no one had ever expressed it better than his brother Samuel had done in the following lines
From Thee in one eternal now, Thy Son, Thy offspring flow'd; And everlasting Father thou, As everlasting God.'
He added not a word on the subject, nor ever after mentioned it to me, though after that we had many interviews. But it is necessary to mention his own note on the text that had given rise to these observations; which shows that he held the doctrine as commonly received, when he wrote that note: it is as follows -- 'Thou art my Son! God of God, Light of Light. This day have I begotten Thee; I have begotten Thee from eternity, which, by its unalterable permanency of duration, is one continued unsuccessive day.' Leaving the point in dispute out of the question: this is most beautifully expressed; and I know not that this great man ever altered his opinion. However necessary this view of the subject may appear to me, I do not presume to say that others, in order to be saved, must see it in the same light: on such a point, it is necessary that every man should be clear in his own mind, and satisfied in his own conscience. Any opinion of mine, my readers are at perfect liberty to receive or reject. I never claimed infallibility; I say with St. Augustin, 'Errare possum; hoereticus esse nob.' Refined Arians, with some of whom I am personally acquainted, are quite willing to receive all that. can be said of the dignity and glory of Christ's nature, provided we admit the doctrine of the eternal Sonship, and omit the word 'unoriginated;' which I have used in my demonstration of the Godhead of the Saviour of men; but, as far as it respects myself, I can neither admit the one, nor omit the other. The proper essential Godhead of Christ lies deep at the foundation of my Christian creed; and I must sacrifice ten thousand forms of speech rather than sacrifice the thing. My opinion has not been formed on slight examination."
The controversy, it may be observed, in which Doctor Clarke took no share, in any separate form, was chiefly confined to the Wesleyan body. One of the best papers on the subject, published in the Magazine, though not written professedly in reference to the dispute, was a brief extract from the Biblical Magazine of 1801, under the signature of Gains; and evidently the production of the Rev. Andrew Fuller.
Though copies of some of the addresses to the Doctor are in the possession of the biographer, together with their replies, and also the letters which passed between him and the President of the Conference of 1819, with lengthened conversations on the subject; it would be difficult for even a friend to give the feelings of the inner-man on this occasion, and still more difficult for a stranger to trace the links composing the chain which held Doctor Clarke bound to the Wesleyan body, in the midst of what he felt to be persecutions, when such a host was arrayed against him: it was not accident, -- nor was it rule, -- nor even the influence of long and early association. We must book for the profound reason in the force of those high moral principles which actuated his whole conduct -- that exalted tone of feeling which led him to abide, through evil report, and good report, by that religious sect which had been the object of his deliberate choice, and which, in itself, he believed to be the most useful of the numerous sections into which the church was divided. Indeed, upon one occasion, being unusually pained by an unworthy attack made upon him, he observed to his eldest daughter, -- "Well, thank God, this is not Methodism, but its abuse: they bring their horse and foot into the field against me. Had I been without influence, and without a morsel of bread, I should have been sacrificed; to destroy the former they have for years been publishing incessant sly calumnies. Through God's mercy I stood -- most of their darts fell short of their mark; -- the rest flew over my head;" and then, with deepened emotion, he added, -- "For nearly fifty years I have lived only for the support and credit of Methodism; myself and my interests, the Searcher of hearts knows, were never objects of my attention. I came into the Connection with an upright heart, and one dominant principle; and, by the help of God, I will retain both to the end." Here, then, was the sublime secret of his strength; it enabled him to endure and rise above all, and to act toward the many as he carried himself toward the individual: he heaped coals of fire upon their heads, by embracing every opportunity of doing them service; a method which never fails, provided there be any emotion left upon which kindness can be exercised.
Upon being elected the third time to the presidential chair, he examined the young men on the subject, who were to be received into full connection, and discharged his duty with the greatest fidelity and affection; saying, -- "I must examine you on the subject of the Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ; and, in this, I shall be honest: as a private individual, I hold a different opinion to that of the body; but I have nothing to do with it here: it is my place to examine you Methodistically, and as President of the Conference; and although I cannot condemn you in my private capacity, yet, as President, I neither can nor will pass any one of you, unless you are Methodistic in your creed: the Conference may pass you, but I cannot." He added, "I feel for you all, as if you were my own children: I deeply sympathize with you." On finding them all correct, and passing them, he said, -" I would not go through what I have suffered the last two days on your account, for a great deal: now, I am free and satisfied." In the midst of all, however, the Doctor became increasingly popular; and the Methodist Magazine itself was made the vehicle of eulogy: "To a young preacher, who signs himself -- 'An earnest Inquirer after Truth,' we recommend a careful perusal of Wesley's, Fletcher's, and Sellon's works; together with the Commentaries of Coke, Benson, and Clarke." See 1816, P. 788. It might have been deemed affectation for Mr. Benson, the editor, to have omitted himself.
In these Notes, not only are theological subjects placed luminously and forcibly before the Biblical student; but every available opportunity is embraced, for removing the ground from beneath the foot of the infidel. Speaking on this latter subject, in reference to Taylor, Carlisle, and others, he quoted that passage in the Psalms, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision:" and then remarked, "I say this with the flame of God's eye upon my soul: He will laugh them to scorn, and He will hold them in derision; yes, if ever that passage was employed by the ever-blessed God, by way of taunt, it must be in such a case as this:" repeating, "'He will laugh them to scorn." A person belonging to this school, accidentally met with the Doctor, when this position was laid down:-- "That either the apostles misunderstood our Lord, or that we misunderstand them, when they attribute the redemption of the world to his sufferings and death." The principal line of argument pursued by the Doctor was, of course, in favor of a proper understanding; in process of which, he answered the hackneyed objection brought against the justice of God, in punishing the innocent for the guilty; -- an objection which courts support from the well-regulated laws of civil society, in which are found various enactments, and multitudinous provisions, in order to prevent the innocent from suffering for the guilty, -- closing with the whole being foreign to all the principles both of justice and humanity. A believer in divine revelation will find a solution of the difficulty in the fact of our Lord having been a volunteer in the cause of suffering: he had power to lay down his life, and power to take it up again; and in this we see the virtue and value of his sufferings. Had his sufferings been compulsory, then the objection would have some weight: but when he died, he did not die from necessity of condition, but dispensation of grace. "They spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." The word "accomplish" is not passive, but active; denoting that death was not so much inflicted upon him, as suffered by him. But we are wandering from the Doctor: his writings, and especially a sermon on Luke xxiv. 46-48, in which he afterwards took up the subject, will be found to speak explicitly on this point.
Anxious to meet not only the wants of the heathen, but the rising and expansive spirit of benevolence at home, he continued to let himself out more freely than his physical strength, and other engagements, warranted, in attending Bible and Missionary Meetings. Some of the latter, at which the writer had the happiness of being present, as at Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, &c., are still vividly present in the recollection, though thirty years have since then elapsed. At the first Missionary Meeting held in Liverpool, the Doctor presided: one of the speakers, who afterwards became very popular upon the platform, apologized for having to speak before him, alluding in a somewhat fulsome manner to his learning and titles, when the Doctor turned to him, and said, "Sir, you have been pleased to allude to my titles, and to lay some stress upon them: you are welcome to the whole; they have never been worth sixpence to me." Previously to one of the meetings held at Warrington, he occupied the pulpit. The orator, in the strictest sense, was not there; and yet there was an oratory which was the preacher's own, -- a something which never could have been acquired by art, enchanting to the hearer, and peculiar to himself: some of his etymological criticisms might not meet every mind -- such especially as old prejudices required to be uprooted from; but his conceptions were always clear, the lucidus ordo was complete, and an unction attended the word throughout, which was striking and impressive; the whole place, to borrow the language of the upper regions, seemed celestialized, and the atmosphere itself appeared as though it had undergone a kind of chemical process, which enabled the audience to breathe of nothing but heaven!
Being appointed to preside at the Irish Conference of this year, (1816,) he found it necessary, on account of the disturbed state of the Societies on the question of the Lord's Supper, to bring into exercise all the wisdom, experience, forbearance, and fortitude, he possessed, for the occasion; and owing to the important services he rendered, and the deep interest which the Societies had in the question, as to its final issue, as well as the fact of the struggle becoming, in all probability, a matter of history, it may be necessary to dwell upon the subject more at large. A letter of intimidation was sent into the Conference from Saurin, the Attorney-General, on the subject of Chapel Trusts, and a similar document embodying the threatenings of certain trustees. On these, the Doctor relieved the minds of the brethren from much anxiety, by entering into the connection which subsisted between the Irish and British Conference.  Several of the preacher's, having administered the sacrament, at the urgent request of the people, were arraigned at the bar of the Conference on a violation of its rule, and for that violation were reprehended; a full account of which may be seen in "A Biographical Narrative of Matthew Langtree, written by himself," he being one of the parties impeached. A pacific Committee, however, was appointed; and, though considerable difficulty was felt in coming to a conclusion, it was at length agreed by a majority, "That something must be done to meet the spiritual wants of our people, and it must be done now;" -- a decision which must have taken off a considerable portion of the edge of the censure, since it admitted at once the necessity of a change, owing to which necessity the brethren were driven to the line of conduct which they pursued. A long debate succeeded, both on the trial and the report, in the course of which several of the preachers delivered their sentiments. Among the more prominent, were Messrs. Averell and Tobias, who were opposed to each other. Several petitions were lying on the table, requesting the administration of the Lord's Supper; and on the motion being called for, the votes for granting the prayer of the petitioners were sixty-two, against it twenty-six:-- this majority being no small compliment to the brethren under censure, -- apart, as it was, from premature administration, which involved the violation of rule.
The Doctor, through the whole of the debate, -- one of the most important that had ever engaged the Irish Conference, displayed the greatest fidelity and impartiality; and when the question was decided, he is said to have appeared even more than himself. In a speech of two hours length, he, as Representative of the British Conference, addressed the brethren in the most impressive manner, at the close of which he received a unanimous vote of thanks. A mere outline of this address is all that can be admitted here. He observed,-
1. "Mr. Wesley had no plan, except that of following the openings of providence: had he followed a plan, it would have been the creature of man, not of God. He acted as he believed God's Spirit dictated. Our doctrine is from the revelation of God, and our discipline likewise. Mr. Wesley was a great instrument, in the hands of Providence, of reviving and spreading scriptural Christianity in the world; but it is from the Head of the Church, that our doctrine and discipline have, through him, been committed to us, and they both go hand in hand through our whole economy. 2. "Mr. Wesley, in following providence, and the order of God, was compelled to do many things opposed to his prejudices, -- these, I well know, were of the high church character. I have full evidence of this, from being in possession of the original papers sent by Mr. Wesley's father to Archbishop Sharp, and am well acquainted with the Wesley Family, and the education given to Mr. John Wesley. Besides, (pleasantly,) I was one of what was called Mr. Wesley's privy council, and am therefore well acquainted with his mind on the most important subjects. It was according to his great principle of action, that Mr. Wesley ordained Dr. Coke for America, as he did others for Scotland. He foresaw that the Methodists should be a GREAT PEOPLE, and therefore ordained several preachers to keep up the spirit of the Church of England: but providence never intended that any individual should be a successor to Mr. Wesley. When he died, Dr. Coke came to Dublin, to put himself at the head of the Irish Methodists, but he (Adam Clarke) being then in Dublin, opposed it, and dismissed the Doctor as fast as he came. On the same subject, there was, in England, a competition between Dr. Coke and Mr. Mather, which was over-ruled by the appointment of district meetings. 3. "With regard to the introduction of the ordinances, I believe it originated in the demands of the people -- they urged them at the British Conference. By not attending to their earnest entreaties, we sacrificed the lovely Society at Chester; and for the same reasons was the church service, which Mr. Wesley appointed to be used at Whitefriar-Street, laid aside at his death. I have been as much prejudiced as Adam Averell; but I had to submit to the force of truth. In England, we were pushed to the greatest extremities. In the Conference of 1792, the brethren were so perplexed, that, for the sake of peace, they agreed to decide the question by lot. That year they lost 300 members; the next year, they said, they could not proceed thus; and though they were surrounded by men who came to the Conference with good temper, but opposed to innovation, yet they agreed to the Plan of Pacification, and the consequences were blessed beyond their expectation." 4. Adverting, after this, to a reflection of Mr. Averell's on the religious state of the body, to the opportunities with which he had been favored of becoming fully acquainted with the state of Methodism, compared with earlier times, and of course, his competency to judge of its spirituality and prosperity, he proceeded, " I have been twice President of the British Conference; I was so at the GRAND CLIMACTERICAL YEAR OF METHODISM, at which time all its great offices were in my hands. I had access to Government; knew its sentiments of Methodism, and had full evidence that it had not lost its character or influence. I have met more classes in my circuit than any other man, and have seen no loss of spirituality. I will not make invidious comparisons between the Methodists in England and Ireland; in both, they are the children of my God and Father; but this, I will say, from perfect acquaintance with the subject, that they have in England, comparatively, more grace, and more stability, since the introduction of the sacrament than before." 5. He concluded by refuting the calumny against the character of the preachers -- from his own knowledge, and from the judgment of Government, stating, -- "I have had access to the inmost archives of the State, where their characters were properly appreciated. I have had a particular conversation with Lord Sidmouth and Mr. Percival, in which they spoke most honorably of the utility of the Irish preachers in the time of the rebellion. It is well known they have been bulwarks to the church against the attacks of Popery, and other enemies," &c.
A letter to a friend previously to the Conference, which it was scarcely proper to anticipate, will show his mind a little more fully on different points, and especially on the main question:-
My dear Brother, -- About ten minutes ago I received your letter, dated May 21, and had been, a little time before resolving to write to you. The Dublin brethren did not honor me with their letter; but I saw that of the trustees and Mr. -- -- in a friend's hand. I was not a little pained at both. Either the writers were ignorant of the truth, or they disguised it. If ignorant, they should not have written on the subject; if they knew better, they must answer it to God, and his injured cause.
I know Methodism better than any man in Ireland, and better than any correspondent the Dublin people can boast; and I can say that our having preaching in church hours, and the sacraments from the hands of our own preachers, have been marked by the most distinguished approbation of God. And I'll tell you what to these gentlemen seems to be a secret, that the Methodists in England are a thousand times more attached to the Church of England and her service, than they ever were before; and the method which we were before taking to drive them to the church, was driving them, as it is now doing the Methodists of Ireland, into dissenting congregations.
I am now one of the oldest preachers in the British connection, and have had the principal concerns of this connection before me, for between thirty and forty years; often, indeed, the administration of their weightiest concerns. I have been a medium of intercourse between them and the Government, and can say, that they never stood so high with government, never so high with real churchmen, and were never so prosperous, as they are now. Far from there being a wall between us and our usefulness to the church, I can say that the wall which our own bigotry once raised, similar, to that which foolish people are now raising among you, has been, by the goodness of God, leveled to the ground, and our usefulness to the church is greater than ever.
When we had no service in church hours, nor sacrament from our preachers, we crept on as we could. At length the people in many places clamored, and we were obliged to grant the sacrament in a few cases, or lose the Societies: as more requested the same blessing, certain trustees, who had got some good bigoted men to join them, cried out innovation, and were impious enough to predict (because of their caprices) the ruin of the work of God. We then, by lot, determined that the sacrament should not be administered for one year in any place. On this God frowned most fearfully: from the commencement of Methodism till that time, we had always been on the increase. In that awful year, and thank God there is only that one in the annals of Methodism, we not only gained none, but we decreased three hundred members! .The next year the sacrament was allowed, under certain restrictions, and we had four thousand of increase; and from that day to the present, we have been increasing from four to ten or twelve thousand annually! And let me tell those persons who pretend to be so very wise in this business, that Methodism has more solidity, more consistency, more rational godliness, and more of the life of God, than it ever had in former times. In the teeth of a false assertion contained in one of your circulars, I say, that owing to this vile bigotry, Methodism has made no proportionate progress in Ireland. You have a body of holy and sensible men for your preachers; and these men have had both their prayers and their labors hindered. For my own part, I have made up my mind never to witness the disgrace of my country, while it continues under the and-Christian yoke: this alone has caused me to refuse the honor done to me by my brethren. They have it now in their power to throw off this yoke; if they do it, they will soon have such blessings as they never before experienced; but let every thing be done in the Spirit of Christ.
The Doctor, who loved peace, and whose intention it was, as will have been seen, not to attend the Irish Conference, was overruled; and it was fortunate this was the case, from the manner in which the business of Conference was conducted. Remarking on his passage from Ireland to Holyhead, he said, "it was short but rough; the sea wrought through the whole of the night, and was very tempestuous; nearly all on board were sick, except myself, who bore up pretty well; we landed after four A. M."
The ultra party being dissatisfied with the decision of the Conference, and the brethren being pressed with various difficulties respecting the chapels, the Doctor was consulted; and his closing paragraph on the subject of the Lord's Supper, may here be introduced: "My advice to you all is, look up to God, and keep close together; never think of measuring back your steps to trustee-craft again. Give up the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper when you go to drink the new wine in the kingdom of God. Let neither fear nor flattery induce you to it one moment sooner. Had you had it twenty years ago, you would have been doubly more numerous and doubly more holy. God has broken your chain; if you heal it, or suffer others to do so, you will have his curse and not his blessing. If the genuine Methodists of Ireland stand fast in their fiery trial, God will make you both great and glorious:-- Look for your help from Him: do not suppose that any man's money is necessary to the support of Christ's cause:-- 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.'"
These religious dissensions occasioned him much pain of mind. "The conduct of these chapel-shutters," said he, "is unChristian. To take away the chapels from the, people, is to deprive them of the word; and to deprive the preachers, their wives, and their children of bread." He gloried in the stand which English Preachers made against the Anti-Sacramentarians; and styled the plan adopted by the Irish dissentients, "The Starvation Plan;" bitterly complaining of the delay of the law-suit relative to the chapels, and expressing a hope that he would be preserved from Irish law. When the suit was gained, he trusted that it would be a salutary lesson to the persecutors.
The reader, by transferring his thoughts from the Irish to the British Conference, may be relieved for a moment by passing from the "grave" to the "gay," though not precisely at the Conference of this year.
All Conference business is not allowed to transpire before the public; and had not the question just expatiated on not been a public one, it would have been sooner and more summarily dismissed. At the Conference to which reference is now made, a subject was about to be introduced, which the preachers were not to disclose even to their wives. Dr. Clarke, who was seated in one of the front seats on the floor of the chapel, partially sheltered from the eye of the President, was in the act of slipping out unperceived, when a voice was heard, "Dr. Clarke is about to leave the Conference, Mr. President." President. "You must not go out, Dr. Clarke."
Dr. C. "I must, Sir?"
Presid. "You must not, Dr. Clarke."
Dr. C. "I will, Sir."
Presid. More peremptory, "You must not."
Dr. C. "You state, Sir, that we are not to tell our wives the subject that is about to be brought forward: I want to hear nothing that I cannot tell to my wife; I tell her every thing. Those who have talkative wives may refrain from telling them; but mine is not such: what is deposited with her is kept safely."
Presid. "Very good, Doctor; you may stop, as your wife can keep a secret."
The question was not so much one of delicacy, as one respecting which it was necessary to guard against premature disclosure; and subjects frequently escape from a second person thoughtlessly, when out of the pale of the first interdict, as though the responsibility rested solely with the first hearer.
There was a scrupulosity and nobility of soul in the Doctor, which in others -- good men too -- would have slumbered, though placed in similar circumstances. As he could not endure to eat the bread of idleness, so when even engaged in hard labor, he hesitated, and even refused to take any thing, except for the identical work in which he was engaged. During the present appointment, his quarterage was sent to Millbrook; he however returned it, stating that he did not consider himself as having labored for it, and therefore could not conscientiously take it. Though this may, and ought to tell its tale in certain quarters, still, it is our opinion that Dr. Clarke erred in this; for, in addition to his attending to the general interests of Methodism in the Connectional Committees, preaching occasional sermons, assisting in Missionary Meetings, &c., he was regularly stationed on the circuit by the Conference, and paid his monthly visits agreeably to previous arrangement and engagement, which with his other labors, was as much as his health would admit. Let this be brought to bear upon the preachers who have young men appointed to assist them, and what will be the result?
Though entirely indifferent to the current coin of the day, his eye shone out with more than usual brilliancy, on the sight of coins and medals of ancient date: he had one in his collection upon which he set a high value: it was a beautiful coin, bearing a representation of the head of our Lord; with this inscription -- "JESUS OF NAZARETH -- JEHOVAH AND MAN UNITED;" having one peculiarity, viz, that Jesus was written with the am, which the Jews avoided, and which would have been to constitute him a Saviour, which they denied, holding him in utter abhorrence. He also had a Hebrew Medal, which he much prized, struck off apparently about the same time. His knowledge of coins was as curious, correct, and extensive, as his passion was strong: taking them on his way to History, which, as a key, unlocked not a few of its secrets and its triumphs.
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