In the year 1787, a short time after the correspondence with Mr. King, already spoken of, Mr. Wesley, attended by Dr. Coke and Mr. Bradford, visited the Norman Isles, when Mr. Clarke, who was perhaps beginning to feel the impatience of a lover, obtained leave to return with him to England. Mr. Wesley, having appointed to be in Bristol on a particular day, engaged a passage for himself and his fellow voyagers in a Cornish vessel. When they sailed, the wind was fair; but, having gradually died away, it sprang up in an opposite quarter. Mr. Wesley, who was below, being apprised of this circumstance, proposed prayer; and, after each of his three companions had offered up his petitions, he followed in a prayer which Dr. Clarke describes as "more the offspring of strong faith than of mere desire." On rising from his knees, he quietly resumed the book which he had been reading, making no remark. Mr. Clarke returned to the deck; when, to his great surprise, he found the vessel in her proper course, and running before a smart breeze at a rate which speedily brought them to the desired haven. Mr. Wesley's own account of this circumstance is so characteristic that it deserves to be given:-- - "In the morning, Thursday (Sept. 6, 1787), we went on board with a fair moderate wind, but we had but just entered the ship when the wind died away. We cried to God for help: and it presently sprung up, exactly fair, and did not cease till it brought us into Penzance Bay."
Upon this remarkable occurrence, Dr. Clarke has made the following comment:-- - "Mr. Wesley was no ordinary man: every hour, every minute of his time, was devoted to the great work which God had given him to do; and it is not to be wondered at that he was favored, and indeed accredited, with many signal interpositions of Divine Providence. Mr. Clarke himself has confessed that, high as his opinion was of Mr. Wesley's piety and faith, he had no hope that the wind, which had long sat in the opposite quarter, and which had just changed in a very natural way, would immediately veer about, except by providential interference, to blow in a contrary direction. There were too many marked extraordinary circumstances in this case, to permit any attentive observer to suppose that the change had been effected by any natural or casual occurrence."
Mr. Clarke accompanied Mr. Wesley as far as Bath, whence he proceeded to Trowbridge, the residence, as we have seen, of his intended bride. Miss Mary Cooke, the eldest daughter of Mr. John Cooke, clothier, appears to have been a young lady in every respect suited to contribute to the happiness of Mr. Clarke. Their union was founded on the solid basis of religion; but it was not accomplished without difficulty. Dr. Clarke remarks, that "their connection was too good and holy not to be opposed;" and yet it does not appear, that the opposition, however unreasonable, proceeded from persons averse to holiness and goodness. The most formidable opponent was the lady's mother, who, though she could not but approve of Mr. Clarke, was unable to reconcile her mind to his wandering and uncomfortable mode of life. The other opponents were friends or more distant relations, whom Dr. Clarke upbraids with being Methodists, and whose objections were similar to Mrs. Cooke's. Their opposition he stigmatizes as "unprincipled," probably referring to the means which they adopted to render it available, rather than to the grounds upon which it rested. They are accused of having so prejudiced Mr. Wesley by "false representations," that he threatened Mr. Clarke with excommunication "if he married Miss Cooke without her mother's consent." The lovers then laid their case before him: he became the judge between both parties, and, at last, after he had heard all that could be said on either side, and had obtained from Mrs. Cooke a promise not to resist the union of her daughter with the man of her choice, that union was brought about, though not till a year had expired since the first agitation of the question.
Leaving the question of his marriage to Miss Cooke in the state described above, Mr. Clarke returned to his post. Before embarking at Southampton, which he did at eight in the morning, several persons, chiefly Dissenters, entreated him to give them a sermon before he departed. He consented; and, as he relates the fact, "the Lord gave him much liberty to expose, and power to shake, the sandy foundation of spiritual stillness, consisting of hopes, trusts, conjectures, and possibles, on which several had been building their expectation of glory." He did not sail till two, when he was escorted to the boat by several of those who had heard him preach, and who "wished him more blessedness than their tongues were capable of expressing."
During the voyage, the Sabbath transpired, on which day he had reason to reprehend the conduct of some of his fellow voyagers. There were on board some military officers, and other gentlemen, so-called, who began to swear, when Mr. Clarke silenced them by his reproofs. By and bye, they ventured to sing songs. This also he immediately remonstrated against; but of its impropriety they were not so easily convinced. A long altercation ensued; but, in the end, he was enabled to confound them all, and they desisted. Presently, however, they renewed their singing with double vigor, when, stepping up to them upon the quarter-deck, in a commanding voice, he charged the chief of them, "in the name of the living God, to be silent," adding, "I will not suffer such profanation on the Lord's-day." The gallant songster asked him, "What authority he had, and who he was?" and, being promptly answered, that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, and spoke by the authority of God, the singing was abandoned; and, as the Doctor quaintly has it, "the devil had not the honor of a single verse during the remainder of the Sabbath."
Mr. Clarke's marriage, which produced the happiest results, took place on the 17th of April, 1788. Six sons and as many daughters were the fruit of it; and three of each sex, together with their aged mother, are still living. One of Mrs. Clarke's sisters, who have been already introduced to the reader, was united to the late Mr. Butterworth, M. P., who acquired a considerable fortune as a law-bookseller, and was a truly benevolent and holy man; and the other, to Mr. Thomas, a pious clergyman in Wales.
A week after marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke sailed to the Norman Islands. While here, he had his share of persecution. One Sabbath-day, he went to preach at La Valle, a part of Guernsey which, at high water, was surrounded by the sea, and attainable only by a sort of causeway. He was accompanied by three gentlemen, two of whom were naval officers, -- the whole party being mounted. They found the avenue to the causeway in the possession of an unruly multitude, with drums and horns, and other weapons more strictly offensive. Avoiding the usual road, they forded the water at some distance from the causeway; and Mr. Clarke had nearly finished his discourse before the mob arrived to molest him. As soon as they appeared, his gallant companions forsook him and fled; and his bridle was immediately cut to prevent him from galloping after them. He then dismounted, and, gaining an eminence, proceeded to address them. The drums and the horns ceased; and, with the exception of a few stone-throwers in the outskirts, who, however, were not permitted to hit their mark, the multitude gave him a respectful hearing; and, after detaining him about an hour, dismissed him without further molestation.
In Jersey, he suffered a more serious attack. Several hundreds of persons, well armed and desperate, surrounded the house in which he was preaching. It was a wooden building. Their aspect was so menacing, that all the congregation, excepting the members of Society, who amounted to thirteen persons, fled from the house. The mob now declared their resolution to pull down the house, and bury the inmates in the ruins. Mr. Clarke continued his address; and, while he was exhorting his little audience to trust in the delivering power of God, a pistol was presented at him through the window, and twice missed fire. Perceiving that some with iron-crows were sapping the foundations of the house, Mr. Clarke resolved that he would surrender himself to the mob, in order to save his hearers from their fury. They entreated him to remain; but, followed by a stout young man, who volunteered to accompany him, he sallied forth. As he left the door-way, he encountered a tremendous volley of stones and dirt; but, without shrinking, he walked steadily onward; and the molt, either ignorant of his person, or paralyzed by his courage, or actually restrained by Divine power, became suddenly silent and inert, making a way for him through their midst, without attempting to do him the least harm, The people who remained behind were likewise permitted to retire unmolested; but no sooner had they escaped, than the dogs returned to their vomit, and the re-awakened fury of the mob was wreaked upon the windows and the roof of the empty house. It seems that their original design was to throw Mr. Clarke into the sluice of an overshot watermill, by which he would, of course, have been crushed to death. The curious reader will find a more particular narrative of this singular occurrence in Dr. Clarke's note on Luke iv. 30, *[See comment after this paragraph -- DVM] where, under the denomination of a missionary, he adduces his own escape as parallel to that of our Saviour, with regard to whom we are informed, that, when the furious Nazarenes had "led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong, he, passing through the midst of them, went his way."
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[*I have inserted below, Clarke's comment on Luke 4:30 from the Clarke Commentary. Again, the reader should bear in mind that "a missionary" of whom Adam Clarke writes in these comments was none other than Adam Clarke himself. -- DVM]:
Verse 30. [Passing through the midst of them] Either he shut their eyes so that they could not see him; or he so overawed them by his power as to leave them no strength to perform their murderous purpose. The man Christ Jesus was immortal till his time came; and all his messengers are immortal till their work is done.
The following relation of a fact presents a scene something similar to what I suppose passed on this occasion: A missionary [Adam Clarke himself], who had been sent to a strange land to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and who had passed through many hardships, and was often in danger of losing his life, through the persecutions excited against him, came to a place where he had often before, at no small risk, preached Christ crucified. About fifty people, who had received good impressions from the word of God, assembled: he began his discourse; and, after he had preached about thirty minutes, an outrageous mob surrounded the house, armed with different instruments of death, and breathing the most sanguinary purposes.
Some that were within shut to the door; and the missionary and his flock betook themselves to prayer. The mob assailed the house, and began to hurl stones against the walls, windows, and roof; and in a short time almost every tile was destroyed, and the roof nearly uncovered, and before they quitted the premises scarcely left one square inch of glass in the five windows by which the house was enlightened. While this was going forward, a person came with a pistol to the window opposite to the place where the preacher stood, (who was then exhorting his flock to be steady, to resign themselves to God, and trust in him,) presented it at him, and snapped it; but it only flashed in the pan! As the house was a wooden building, they began with crows [metal crow-bars] and spades to undermine it, and take away its principal supports.
The preacher then addressed his little flock to this effect: "These outrageous people seek not you, but me; if I continue in the house, they will soon pull it down, and we shall be all buried in its ruins; I will therefore, in the name of God, go out to them, and you will be safe." He then went towards the door; the poor people got round him, and entreated him not to venture out, as he might expect to be instantly massacred; he went calmly forward, opened the door, at which a whole volley of stones and dirt was that instant discharged; but he received no damage. The people were in crowds in all the space before the door, and filled the road for a considerable way, so that there was no room to pass or repass. As soon as the preacher made his appearance, the savages became instantly as silent and as still as night: he walked forward; and they divided to the right and to the left, leaving a passage of about four feet wide for himself and a young man who followed him, to walk in. He passed on through the whole crowd, not a soul of whom either lifted a hand, or spoke one word, till he and his companion had gained the uttermost skirts of the mob!
The narrator, who was present on the occasion, goes on to say: "This was one of the most affecting spectacles I ever witnessed; an infuriated mob, without any visible cause, (for the preacher spoke not one word,) became in a moment as calm as lambs! They seemed struck with amazement bordering on stupefaction; they stared and stood speechless; and, after they had fallen back to right and left to leave him a free passage, they were as motionless as statues! They assembled with the full purpose to destroy the man who came to show them the way of salvation; but he, passing through the midst of them, went his way. Was not the God of missionaries in this work! The next Lord's day, the missionary went to the same place, and again proclaimed the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!"
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Nothing daunted by his previous reception, on the next Sabbath Mr. Clarke went to the same place. The assembled mob evincing a disposition to tumult, he demanded a hearing, which was granted by the leaders. He then delivered to them the following address, the manliness of which, besides certain characteristic touches, will be a sufficient apology for its introduction here:--
"I have never done any of you harm; my heartiest wish was, and is, to do you good. I could tell you many things by which you might grow wise unto salvation, would you but listen to them. Why do you persecute a man who never can be your enemy, and wishes to show that he is your friend? You cannot be Christians, who seek to destroy a man because he tells you the truth. But are you even men? Do you deserve that name? I am but an individual, and unarmed; and scores and hundreds of you join together to attack and destroy this single, unarmed man! Is not this to act like cowards and assassins? I am a man and a Christian. I fear you not as a man: I would not turn my back upon the best of you, and could probably put your chief under my feet. St. Paul, the Apostle, was assailed in like manner by the heathens: they also were dastards and cowards. The Scripture does not call them men, but, according to the English translation, certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, or according to your own, which you better understand, Les battours du pavé -- la canaille. Oh! shame on you, to come in multitudes, to attack an inoffensive stranger in your island, who comes only to call you from wickedness to serve the living God, and to show you the way which will at last lead you to everlasting blessedness!"
This was a much better method of proceeding than Mr. Hampson's appeal to physical force.
But Mr. Clarke had not yet done with persecution, or, rather, it had not yet done with him. The common people had no sooner begun to hear him gladly, than a magistrate collected a mob of his own, among whom was the drummer of the local regiment. This fellow, acting under the instructions of the justice of the peace, pulled Mr. Clarke down from the place where he was praying (it was in the open air), and delivered him up to the crowd. Abused by the mob, and sometimes beaten with the drummer's sticks, he was marched out of the town (St. Aubyn) to the tune of the Rogues' March. From the hurts received on this occasion, he did not recover for some weeks; but, by his firmness, moderation, and perseverance, he tired out all his persecutors, and at last pursued his labors without any opposition.
In the winter of 1788, Mr. Clarke very narrowly escaped falling a victim to the soporific [soporific adj. & n. _ adj. tending to produce sleep. _ n. a soporific drug or influence. -- Oxford Dict.] effects of intense cold. The weather was unusually severe, and numerous snow-drifts had made traveling very dangerous. Accompanied by the intrepid young man who formerly volunteered to share his dangers when exposed to the fury of the mob, Mr. Clarke set forth to preach in the town of St. Aubyn. They were constrained to follow the sea-mark, often, indeed, walking in the water, to avoid the snow-drifts upon the sands; the wind, at the same time, blowing bitterly, with snow and sleet.
When they arrived, Mr. Clarke preached, although exceedingly wet, benumbed with cold, and exhausted with fatigue. They were obliged to return, immediately after preaching, to St. Helier's; the snow having much increased in the interim, as well as the boisterous severity of the weather. Without having had any refreshment, they retraced their steps; when, at length, Mr. Clarke, who had walked unsteadily and faintly for some distance, began to feel a sense of drowsiness steal over him; and, addressing his companion, he said, he could go no further until he had had a little sleep. He would have lain down upon one of the snow-drifts; but the young man expostulated with him, declared to him, that, if he should lie one minute only, he might rise no more; and, bidding him hold by his arm, encouraged him to proceed. Mr. Clarke, upon whom the deathly torpor was increasing fast, answered by attempting to throw himself upon a snowdrift, which appeared to him more inviting than a bed of down; when Francis (for that was his companion's name), resorting to physical force, pulled him up, and continued dragging him and cheering him, until, with great labor and difficulty, he brought him to St. Helier's.
This excellent young man lived afterwards in London, where Mr. Clarke met with him in circumstances which afforded him an opportunity, eagerly embraced, of showing his grateful remembrance of the deliverance just related. Francis, who was a joiner, had been reduced by sickness, and by the death of his wife, to a state of insolvency, and had been thrown into prison. Mr. Clarke, hearing of the circumstance, had the satisfaction of paying the debt, and restoring his faithful friend to his motherless children.
Mr. Clarke was the first Methodist preacher that visited the Isle of Alderney, to which, as we have seen, he was stimulated by Mr. Wesley. When he announced his design, it was reported, that, if he ventured to preach there, the Governor would banish him to a rock in those seas, upon which rock there is a light-house; and, though this report nothing shook his own resolution, it alarmed his friends, and deterred the masters of vessels from taking him; thus in various ways throwing hindrances in his path. Eventually, however, he secured a passage (in a smuggler's boat), and, after a dangerous voyage, landed upon Alderney. He had no acquaintance there, and did not know whither to betake himself, until he remembered our Lord's direction to the first evangelists, "Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house;" and, in a subsequent verse, "in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give you." Adding to his faith courage, he gained the town, and, observing a cottage, immediately yielded to a strong inclination which he felt to enter it, uttering, as he passed the threshold, the evangelical salutation.
When the inmates, an aged couple, understood his errand, they bade him welcome to their choicest food, to a lowly chamber, and, best of all, to the use of their house for preaching. His diet, however, was miserably restricted. The war, which then prevailed, had cut off the usual supplies of food, for which the islanders depended upon France; and, as Mr. Clarke's scruples against swine's flesh were already so great that he would on no account eat it, there remained for him nothing but eggs, butter, and biscuit. As he has stated, he discovered an old frying-pan, deeply encrusted with rust, in which, when he had made it tolerably clean, he fried his eggs, swimming in the melted butter. This fricassee [fricassee n. & v. n. a dish of stewed or fried pieces of meat served in a thick white sauce. -- Oxford Dict.], with hard biscuit, constituted his usual diet during his stay upon the island. Before he left it, he had the opportunity of getting better fare, at better houses; but, holding the words of our Lord, which had occurred to his mind on landing, in the light of an injunction, he scrupled to avail himself of other hospitality. This, it must be owned, was a rather rigorous interpretation of Scripture.
But to return. As soon as he had first refreshed himself beneath the lowly roof of those whom he thus viewed as his providentially appointed entertainers, he resolved to lose no time, and desired them to make it known, that he would preach that evening; and a multitude came together, to whom he proclaimed the glad tidings of the grace of God. Such was the effect, that the people could hardly be persuaded to retire, though he promised to preach to them again on the morrow. He withdrew to his chamber; but, before he had been half an hour in bed, his hostess came and entreated him to rise and preach again; for that several of the gentry, including a justice of the peace, desired to hear him. He obeyed the summons with alacrity [briskness, or cheerful readiness -- Oxford Dict.]; and, though necessarily much exhausted, preached to another house-full for the space of an hour, "receiving (as he writes to Mr. Wesley) peculiar assistance from on high." At the conclusion of his discourse, he informed them of his motives and design in visiting their island; when the justice of the peace, after many civilities, desired to see the book out of which Mr. Clarke had been preaching. Having looked over it attentively, he asked several questions, to which he received, as it would appear, satisfactory answers. The probability is, that he was in doubt whether the sermon was original and extempore, or merely read from a book; for the island clergyman was in the habit of substituting the reading of Ostervald's Reflections for discourses of his own. The congregation then dispersed; and Mr. Clarke, who had surely earned the privilege, was permitted to enjoy his night's rest without further interruption.
The next day a constable came to him during dinner; not with hostile intent, but on the behalf of a magistrate, to solicit him to preach immediately in the Governor's storehouse. He went without delay, and, after a short interview with the gentleman who made the request, was introduced to an audience composed chiefly of genteel persons, but comprising also several sailors, smugglers, and laboring men. He showed them, that "the (scripturally) righteous is more excellent than his neighbor," and was heard with deep and patient attention by all, except an English gentleman who left the place in the midst of the discourse.
On the following Sabbath, he accepted an invitation to preach in the English church; and, in the evening of the same day, he addressed a great number of the principal inhabitants, and of official persons, in a large warehouse. The good effect of his labors was visible on several occasions; but, when he announced his intention to return to Guernsey, they were very unwilling to part with him. They had need, they said, of such preaching and such a preacher; and they wished he would stay permanently with them, But with this request he could not comply; and, without doubt, he had greater work to do. When he left them, however, he strove to soothe their regret by promising to send them a preacher shortly: for, contrary to the report which had been circulated in Guernsey, there was no opposition to the preaching of the Gospel; and, as for the clergyman, he consoled himself with the belief, that the Methodist would be no more successful than a Quaker, who had preached there a few years before, without making a single convert. Since the period when Mr. Clarke visited the Isle of Alderney, a Methodist chapel has been built upon it, a resident preacher appointed, and many souls have been converted by means of the Methodist preachers, both French and English.
On his return from Alderney to Guernsey, Mr. Clarke narrowly escaped shipwreck. At the appointed time of embarkation, the wind blew a hurricane; but the captain was determined to sail. The vessel had not been long under weigh, when destruction seemed to be inevitable. Mr. Clarke took his stand at the bulk-head, whence he could see everything around him. "And what think you," he asks, in relating the occurrence, "I saw clearest? Why, the awful aspect of death impressed on everything." A sensation, unusual to him, sunk his soul. "Alas!" thought he, "and am I indeed afraid of death? Is this the issue of matters with me? Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit! on the infinite merit of thy blood, I rest my soul!" Immediately, all was calm within him. The vessel was now fast wearing towards a range of dreadful rocks, which there seemed no prospect of avoiding, as she would not any longer answer to the helm. In a few moments, a cry more dreadful than that of fire at midnight, issued from all quarters, "Cut away the boat! the vessel is lost!"
The people on the pier of Alderney (which was not far distant), seeing the danger, and believing the loss of the vessel certain, got out a boat with four strong men, to try to save the lives of the passengers and sailors. At this crisis despair sat upon every face, save those of a captain of Foot and Mr. Clarke. They were unmoved, and waited to meet their fate with firmness. "But," says the pious Doctor, "in the moment when a dreadful rock within two or three yards of our lee-bow, took away the last grain of hope, God, who sits above the water-floods, by an unseen arm hove the vessel to leeward: she passed the rock within a hair's-breadth, answered once more to her helm, and from the lip of eternity we escaped into the pier!"
But the danger was not yet overpast; the desperate captain of the vessel would go out again! Mr. Clarke's first thought was, that, as God had saved his life once, it would be tempting his providence to expose it a second time; and he was on the point of taking a boat, and going on shore, when it occurred to him that such a course might reflect dishonor on the religion he professed and the sacred character he bore. If all should go out again, excepting him, it might be reported that the Methodist preacher was afraid of death, and that his boasted spiritual evidences of salvation did not free him from its power. These reasons changed his plan; and he resolved, "in the name of Jesus," to repeat the venture. The passage was extremely rough, the sea every minute washing over the vessel; but, notwithstanding all, she arrived safe at Guernsey before five in the afternoon.
The time was now approaching, when he should depart finally from these interesting islands, in one of which, Guernsey, he had had the satisfaction of erecting a commodious chapel, and of seeing it regularly filled by a respectable congregation. The islanders, in general, had shown him great kindness, notwithstanding some acts of persecution, which, however, were peculiar to Jersey; and the number of his friends included many of the principal inhabitants. Above all, several were converted to God, and became patterns of piety.
But the friendship of the rich was not uniformly steady. In their case the seed fell upon stony places; and, though, from the scantiness of the soil, it speedily sprang up, yet the sun had no sooner risen than these fine-looking plants were scorched, and, having no root, withered away. For, though, in the first instance, his rich hearers were so captivated by his preaching, that they offered to provide handsomely for him if he would confine his labors to them, yet, no sooner did persecution show itself, than, one after one, they fell away; and, though they did return, it was not till the cause of their secession had disappeared. The poor, however, maintained their steadfastness; and, among them, the word proved like seed falling into good ground, and was in different degrees productive.
The account which Dr. Clarke has left behind him of his residence in the Norman Isles, contains some startling statements concerning the fertility of Jersey and Guernsey; but, as we have reason to believe that mistakes were made, either by the Doctor himself, who penned his report at an advanced period of life, or by his editor, we think it prudent to refrain from entering into the particulars. Suffice it to say, that the islands in question are remarkably productive in fine fruits and in other vegetables. If, however, Dr. Clarke was justified in saying, that he and his lady, on their return to England, found the finest peaches and nectarines no better than good turnips, as compared with fruits of the same kinds in those islands, the gardeners of those days must have been no better than the rude cultivators of a turnip-field, as compared with their intelligent and industrious successors of the present day. But the Doctor was sometimes betrayed into hyperbolical description as well as into paradoxical argument.
In July, 1789, he bade farewell to the Norman Isles; and, leaving his wife, and his son John, an infant of six months, at Mr. Cooke's, at Trowbridge, he proceeded to the Conference in Leeds, when he was appointed to Bristol. About this time, his health was so much impaired, that Mr. Wesley expressed a fear lest death should deprive the ancient society of that circuit of his services. The pernicious effects of study and confinement in the islands were added to those of a severe cough, which originated some years before, through sleeping in a damp bed at Beeralston. Nor did his household accommodations in Bristol tend to the restoration of his health. For economy's sake, the apartments of the preachers, in many cases, were built over the chapels. This mode, so prejudicial to health, had been adopted at Bristol; and the noxious effluvia from the breath of so many hundreds of people assembling in the chapel from day to day, made the lodging rooms above exceedingly unwholesome. Mr. Clarke's health, however, was sufficiently restored to enable him to go through his appointed work, which was very severe; and, though the circuit had not enjoyed much prosperity, he left it in a much better state, whether spiritually or temporally, than that in which he found it.
His own account of his residence in Bristol is widely different from the accounts which he has given of his labors in other circuits. He enters into no details, not even mentioning the names of his colleagues, nor any other place in the circuit than Bristol itself. On this occasion, Messrs. George Wadsworth and Samuel Hodson were his fellow laborers.
Here, however, he began to reap one advantage which he had not hitherto enjoyed; and that was an easy access to a copious supply of books. It may not be improper, says one, in reference to this circumstance, to mark the wise arrangements of Divine providence, in the situation which he occupied after he had traveled for a few years, as being highly favorable to literary pursuits, in connection with his great work as a Christian minister. Seven years after he entered upon that work, he was stationed at Bristol; afterwards at Dublin, Manchester, and Liverpool, in succession. In these places he enjoyed mental luxury; he had access to libraries containing books in various languages; he had opportunities of purchasing some and borrowing others; which augmented his rapidly increasing store in various departments of literature, and in theology, to which he desired to make all his acquisitions subservient.
Before he left Bristol, indeed, he had formed a considerable library of his own. Mr. Moore, his successor, gives us a lively idea of this fact. Mr. Clarke took him into his study, and showed him his collection, at which he was greatly astonished. "He had many choice books, very choice (says Mr. Moore). I said, 'Brother Clarke, you have a nice collection of books; but what will you do with them? how will you use them? how will you get anything out of them? Upon our circuits, where we have so much to do, I find it very hard to keep the doors opened that have been opened; and to retain anything I know of languages. How will you do? What will you do with those books?' He smiled, and said, he would do as well as he could. I mention this to show that there was the beginning of his greatness, and that he had got anything he had got by redeeming the time; and only by redeeming the time from sleep and meals could he study or get to read."
The Conference of 1790, held in Bristol, was the last in which Mr. Wesley presided. His mind was particularly impressed with the necessity of making some permanent rule, the effect of which should be to diminish the labors of the preachers; for he saw that inordinate exertions were cutting short many useful lives. The senior brethren were assembled in his study, to prepare matters for the Conference, when he proposed that no preacher should preach thrice in one day. This was opposed by several, by Messrs. Mather, Pawson, and Thompson, among others, on the ground, that, unless the brethren continued to preach thrice every Lord's day, places could not be supplied. Mr. Wesley reiterated the argument derived from the loss of life. He was answered by reference to his own example, and the examples of his opponents: for he and they, it was urged, had reached an advanced period of life, notwithstanding the practice which he denounced as so destructive. There was less of reason than of benevolence in the means by which this venerable leader carried his point. For himself, he said, he had been under an especial Providence; and, besides, he knew better than his brethren how to preach without injuring himself. All this might be very true, and, therefore, might have its force in argument; but, he added, "no man can preach thrice-a-day without killing himself sooner or later: and the custom shall not be continued," in other words,
"Sic volo, sic jubeo: stet pro ratione voluntas."
At this point in the argument, the objectors ceased to press him; but, as Dr. Clarke declares, "they deceived him after all, by altering the minute thus, when it went to the press:-- - 'No preacher shall any more preach three times in the same day, to the same congregation,' by which clause [to the same congregation] the minute was entirely neutralized." Thus was Mr. Wesley, fairly, or rather unfairly, "jockeyed" by his followers, who, however, may be more easily forgiven than if they had outwitted him for their own ease. Mr. Clarke, it would appear, was no party to the fraud (if fraud it was), as the following remarks sufficiently show:-
"He who preaches the Gospel as he ought, must do it with his whole strength of body and soul, and he who undertakes a labor of this kind thrice every Lord's day, will infallibly shorten his life by it. He who, instead of preaching, talks to the people, merely speaks about good things, or tells a religious story, will never injure himself by such an employment. Such a person does not labor in the word and doctrine: he tells his tale; and, as he preaches, so his congregation believes, and sinners are left as he found them."
Might not some of these strong words be construed into a depreciation of the preaching of Mr. Wesley himself? What is there in the rule, as altered, to prevent a preacher from using the same sermon more than once in the course of the same day, by which, though his physical labor would be no less, he would be relieved in the labor of thinking? Is it not, after all, a question, whether to preach twice in the enormously large chapels which are now so numerous, be not a more laborious task than to preach thrice in buildings of moderate dimensions? One thing is certain, that few Methodist preachers are justly liable to Dr. Clarke's censure concerning deficiency of earnestness. Mr. Clarke's next appointment was to a post of honor, evincing the esteem in which he was already held by his brethren: for the appointment originated with them, and not with Mr. Wesley. It was usual to send an English preacher to Dublin, who, in the character of Mr. Wesley's representative, exercised a certain degree of control over the Irish circuits and preachers. Mr. Clarke, though an Irishman, was proposed to fill this office; but Mr. Wesley demurred, on account of ill health: yet, he said, if Mr. Clarke himself consented, he would wave his objection. Now, as it was a rule with Mr. Clarke never to choose a circuit, or object to an appointment,  he went over to Dublin, and arrived there in August, 1790.
He had not been long in the Irish metropolis, before he was attacked with a severe rheumatic affection in his head. This was the effect of entering a newly-built house, before it was dry enough to be safely habitable; but the temporary lodgings from which he had removed were neither comfortable nor convenient. The health of his family suffered little less than his own. But the doctors mistook his complaint for a congestion of the vessels of the brain; and their erroneous treatment, aggravating instead of mitigating the symptoms, exposed his life to double danger. His recovery was slow and imperfect, in consequence of which, his residence in Dublin was but transient. Mrs. Clarke, as well as her husband, was a long time dangerously ill. "We lay in separate rooms," says Dr. Clarke, in one of his letters, "below and above stairs; and, for three weeks, neither of us knew whether the other was alive."
But other circumstances, besides bodily disease, contributed to render his present station any thing but enviable. The Society was rent with disputes. Composed partly of Churchmen and partly of Dissenters, it was agitated by the question of separation from the Church. This foolish topic has at different times much disturbed the peace of the Methodist Societies. In Dublin, however, the disagreement was not so much between the Churchmen and the Dissenters, as among the Churchmen themselves. Before Mr. Clarke arrived, Dr. Coke, with Mr. Wesley's approbation, had introduced the Liturgy into the chapel in Whitefriar Street. This was at the time when the use of that formulary was made binding in every case in which service was held in Methodist chapels during Church hours. The chapel just named could not be opened during the forenoon, except in compliance with this rule; and the effect of its having been closed at that time was, that those who usually assembled there, were dispersed throughout the city -- some at church, and, says Dr. Clarke, "many more at different places of Dissenting worship, where they heard doctrines that tended greatly to unsettle their religious opinions; and, in the end, many were lost to the Society." "In consequence of the introduction of the Liturgy," proceeds the Doctor, -- in consequence of the chapel being opened during the forenoon, he should have said (for he had just shown us that the Liturgy had charms for only a small portion of the people), "a very good congregation assembled at Whitefriar-street." The Dissenters, it appears, submitted quietly to the imposition of the Church service, the discord lying between Churchmen and Churchmen, The object of both sides was to prevent a separation from the Church; but, while some thought that the introduction of the Liturgy would have this effect, others attributed to it an opposite tendency. Many of the most wealthy and influential members of Society were of the latter party; and they withdrew their countenance and support. In the end, it was mutually agreed to desire the British Conference, for the sake of peace, to abolish the forenoon service;-- a desire which, by the way, evinced much more solicitude to avoid a separation from the Church, than to preserve the integrity of the Methodist Society in that place, and thus to promote the glory of God. Mr. Clarke concurred with those who thought that the introduction of the Liturgy tended to such a separation, "when," as he afterwards believed, "it was the most effectual way to keep the Society attached to the spirit and doctrines of the Church." However, as he "at that time labored under the same kind of prejudice" with others, he "gave his voice against the continuance of the Prayers, and, at his recommendation, the Conference annulled the service." In these days, when the futility of attempting to preserve a peculiar relationship between Methodism and the Church of England has become obvious to every reflecting mind, one cannot help saying of the decision of the Conference of 1791, "This ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone;" for, had the Prayers simply been discontinued, without abolishing the forenoon service at the chapel, the bone of contention would have been removed, and the only real evil fully guarded against; which was, the dispersion of one congregation, or society of people, among various, and, perhaps, heterogeneous assemblies. But Mr. Wesley himself was hardly a more bigoted Churchman than Mr. Clarke. Accordingly, he tells us, that the use of his influence with his brethren as above described, "was the greatest ecclesiastical error he ever committed, and one which he deeply deplored for many years." Indeed, he seems not to have rested, until an opportunity was afforded him, many years after, of making a sort of restitution, by introducing into Abbey Street those prayers of which he had formerly deprived Whitefriar Street. Yet he lived to see the day, when, in nearly all the Methodist chapels, service was performed during Church hours, without the apology of using the Liturgy.
Dr. Clarke did not more heartily repent of the act itself, than of his associates in it. He was at no small pains to make it clear, that he was not governed by motives of self-interest; and those who never suspected him of being so actuated, will not be able to understand the cause of his solicitude, unless it was that he wished to prove his title to speak unreservedly. He tells us that those whose cause he advocated, afterwards "separated from the Methodists' Society, and set up a spurious and factious Connection of their own, under the name of Primitive Methodism;-- a principal object of which was to deprive the original Connection of its chapels, to divide its Societies, to injure its finances, and to traduce both its spiritual and loyal character." He adds, that "they had neglected him, though he was on their side;" and that, though "he and his family had nothing but affliction and distress while they remained in Dublin, that party neither ministered to his necessities, nor sympathized with him in his afflictions." One of those afflictions was the death of his eldest daughter.
There can be no doubt that Mr. Clarke acted throughout this affair from pure, though mistaken, motives. He thought that the different Societies might be induced to attend at their parish churches;" but, in after life, he discovered his error, although his own attachment to the Church remained in full vigor. "Multitudes of them," he writes, respecting the Dublin Methodists, "never belonged to any church, and felt no religious attachment to any but those who were the means of their salvation." He "saw the folly of endeavoring to force the people to attend a ministry from which they had never received any kind of spiritual advantage, and the danger of not endeavoring carefully to cultivate the soil which they had, with great pain and difficulty, enclosed, broken up, and sown with the good seed, -- the word of the kingdom."
This, we conceive, is the true view of the question, as between Methodism and the Church. And yet there are persons fond and foolish enough to persist in maintaining that the Methodists are not Dissenters. It would be amusing, if it were not disgusting, to witness their fawning attachment to the Establishment, which, until its present hour of adversity, never manifested towards them any other feeling than that of implacable hatred. They will act wisely to distrust any show of friendship which she may now make. She was formerly as gracious to other sects of Dissenters; but, as soon as they had served her turn, she cast them off, and evinced towards them even greater enmity than before. Nor is she changed since that time. So long as she retains her predominance (for, thanks be to God, and to the laws of toleration, she is not dominant), so long as by union with the State she is invested with exclusive privileges, she will not scruple to do whatever she can that she has done before. But, at the same time that the Methodists turn a deaf ear to the smooth speeches of sleek Churchmen, they must keep a vigilant eye upon the motions of those of their own ministers and brethren, who indignantly disclaim the appellation of Dissenters, and continually strive to ape the Establishment. The Methodists, beyond all question, have been Dissenters ever since they were formed into a distinct and self-dependent community. They may have been less active in evincing their dissent than other denominations; but of the fact that they are Dissenters, no sane or candid man can doubt. Mr. Wesley himself was a Dissenter long before his death. If the Church had been in possession of an efficient discipline, he would have been deposed on account of his irregularities. When Mr. Irving indulged in practices contrary to the established usage of the Church of Scotland, he was tried, and, being found guilty, was deposed; while Mr. Armstrong, his Church of England lieutenant, was simply forbidden by the Bishop of London to preach in any consecrated building within his lordship's jurisdiction. Mr. Armstrong thus retains his gown; but will anyone (except himself) maintain that he is not a Dissenter, simply because, through the laxity of discipline, he has not been formally "unfrocked?" Even considering the Methodists as an emanation from the Church, which is granting too much, yet may she say of them, "Though they went out from us, they are not of us:" and, were the followers of Mr. Wesley to seek a re-union with the Establishment, they would soon find themselves in the predicament of the "fox without his tail;" for, if ever the Methodists were identical with the members of the Establishment, they have at least irrecoverably lost the distinguishing appendages of Churchmanship.
If, during his brief residence in Dublin, Mr. Clarke was led, as he thought, into the greatest ecclesiastical error that he ever committed, that city also was the scene of his greatest benevolent achievement. His Commentary itself is not a monument of which his friends have more reason to be proud, than of "The Stranger's Friend Society." The first association of this name was formed by Mr. Clarke in the metropolis of his native country. In the following year, he founded a similar institution in Manchester, and, afterwards, in London. His Rules and Plan were finally adopted in almost all the chief towns in England. One of those rules was, that, though the society was instituted by Methodists, their own poor should not be entitled to any relief from it; a fund for supplying their wants being already established. These societies still subsist in full vigor, and justly merit the praise which has been bestowed upon them -- that of having done more public good than any charitable institutions ever founded in the kingdom.
While in Dublin, Mr. Clarke formed an acquaintance with a Turkish Janissary [janizary n. (also janissary) (pl. -ies) 1 hist. a member of the Turkish infantry forming the Sultan's guard in the 14th-19th c. 2 a devoted follower or supporter. -- Oxford Dict.] of rank, the circumstances of which deserve to be recorded. His father was a Turk, and of course a Mohammedan; but his mother, a Greek captive, was a Christian. Ibrahim ben Ali (their son) was educated as a Mussulman; but his mother, though she never ventured to be more explicit, frequently gave him intimations of a purer worship, while some of his father's Spanish slaves boldly arraigned Mohammed as a false prophet, and declared Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of the world. In process of time, his father procured him a captain's commission among the Janissaries. Five years after, he was suspected of having murdered two of his brother officers, his intimate acquaintance. His protestations of innocence were in vain, though that which, in a civilized country, would have screened him from suspicion, was the only evidence against him. A respite of five days was given, to allow time for his friends to prove his innocence by discovering the murderer. On the fifth day he was ordered to prepare for death. His mother, gathering courage from the crisis, openly, in the presence of her husband and others, begged him to trust in the Supreme God alone, and to pay no attention to the Mohammedan doctrine. An old Spaniard, still more enlightened, bade him "recommend his soul to God through Christ Jesus, and he would save him unto life eternal." This counsel deeply impressed him. Passing the night without sleep, and hearing the prison doors opened in the morning, he fainted away through dread; but, on recovering, he found, that, the real murderers having surrendered themselves, deliverance instead of death awaited him.
The Spaniard before mentioned counseled him to continue to trust in the Lord Jesus, who had so wonderfully delivered him; and Ibrahim rewarded his attentions by redeeming him from captivity, and sending him to his own country. In a subsequent war with Russia, Ibrahim, after receiving several wounds, was taken prisoner, and carried to the neighborhood of St. Petersburg, where he remained two years. At length, a lady whom he had cured of some ophthalmic disease, procured his liberty. Afraid to return to Constantinople, where it had been represented by those whom his attachment to the society of Christians inflamed with the unrighteous zeal that bigotry inspires, that he had traitorously delivered the troops under his command into the hands of the Russians, he embarked on board a ship bound to Copenhagen, and afterwards proceeded to Liverpool.
His whole family, with the exception of a brother and sister, who were left in care of the paternal estate, retired to Ismail, where they intended to stay until he should be cleared from suspicion; but death overtook them in this retreat: they were massacred with the rest of the inhabitants, whom Suwarroff put to the sword. From Liverpool, Ibrahim went to Dublin, where, having inquired for a person who understood Arabic or Spanish, he was directed to Mr. Clarke, who, after due caution and examination, instructed him more fully in the principles of Christianity.
In a few months, he was admitted, at his own earnest request, to the ordinance of Baptism, which was administered by Mr. Rutherford, Mr. Clarke interpreting into Spanish the words of the baptismal service. He received the name of Adam, and continued to maintain an upright character. When Mr. Clarke left Dublin, Ibrahim accompanied him to Liverpool, and thence to Manchester, in both which places he had constant intercourse with his spiritual guide. Finally, he departed for America, where he married a lady of the Baptist persuasion, and ultimately died in the faith and hope of the Gospel.
Mr. Clarke availed himself of the means which Dublin so amply afforded, of acquiring some knowledge of medical science. Entering himself as a student in Trinity College, he attended courses of lectures on Medicine, Anatomy, and Chemistry; from which, aided by his own sedulous application, he obtained a sufficiency of knowledge for ordinary cases, and thus kept all apothecaries, whom "he ever considered the bane of families," from his door. In extraordinary cases, he called in some skillful physician, himself preparing the medicines prescribed. Dr. R. Perceval, the chemical lecturer, became the intimate friend of Dr. Clarke.
In studying these sciences, Mr. Clarke was acting according to one of his practical maxims, which was, "Through desire, a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom." It was also his constant aim to render every acquirement subservient to the great work of explaining the truths of Scripture. Thus he rendered his knowledge of chemistry, which he had studied in its abstruser branches, serviceable in the interpretation of a text from which he was one day preaching in Whitefriar Street Chapel. It was Isaiah i. 25, 26: "And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin," &c. In explaining the meaning of these words, he described the method by which the dross is separated from silver in the process of refining, and added some observations on the nature and properties of metals. Among his hearers, on this occasion, was a man of science of the name of Hand, whose profession was that of a glass-stainer, but who was then, as for a long time he had been, engaged in an ardent search after "the philosopher's stone." He thought he could discover from Mr. Clarke's discourse, that he also had made experiments in alchemy. Being introduced to him by a mutual acquaintance, he communicated his suspicions, and, as the reader is prepared to hear, found that they were just. As Mr. Hand was a warm-hearted and an intelligent man, his acquaintance with Mr. Clarke soon ripened into intimacy; and they frequently made experiments together in Mr. Hand's laboratory. Nothing could divert this gentleman from his efforts to discover the art of transmuting the inferior metals into silver and gold. Often, like other enthusiasts in the science, he imagined himself to be on the eve of unraveling the great mystery; but, as often, it eluded his grasp. Though his grand object was entirely defeated, and his credulity was sometimes imposed upon, many curious discoveries and interesting circumstances attended his labors. After Mr. Clarke's removal from Dublin, Mr. Hand still kept up the acquaintance by a correspondence, in which his alchemical pursuits formed the prevailing topic. 
It was while Mr. Clarke was in Dublin that Mr. Wesley died -- "the most solemn event that ever occurred in the Methodists' Connection." He was overwhelmed with grief at the intelligence, and could do no more the little printed account of the last moments of that great and good man. On receiving a copy of the sermon preached by Dr. Whitehead, Mr. Wesley's friend and biographer, on occasion of his death, Mr. Clarke sent it to the learned Dr. Barnard, then Bishop of Killaloe. He replied, in a letter, from which the following extract will be read with interest:--
"It contains a true and not exaggerated encomium on that faithful and indefatigable servant of God who is now at rest from his labor, and (what is of more consequence to those who read it) an intelligible and judicious apology for the doctrine that he taught, which he has set forth in the clearest terms, and with a simplicity of style, even beyond that of Mr. Wesley himself; without the smallest tincture of (reprehensible) enthusiasm, erroneous judgment, or heterodox opinion. He has plainly expounded the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: and I hope and believe that the dispersion of this little tract may do much good: as the sublimest truths of Christianity are there reduced ad captum vulgi, and at the same time proved to the learned to be none other than such as have been always held and professed in the Christian church from the time of the Apostles till now, however individuals may have lost sight of them." The Bishop's postscript is amusing, when viewed in connection with the tenacity with which the conventional title of "Reverend" is clung to in the present day, by those who never acquired it from episcopal ordination:-- - "If I have omitted to direct this properly, I hope you will excuse me, as you do not mention whether you are in orders or not."
Mr. Wesley evinced his respect for Mr. Clarke by the codicil [codicil n. an addition explaining, modifying, or revoking a will or part of one. -- Oxford Dict.] to his last will, in which he made him and six others the trustees of all his literary property. This codicil having superseded the will, the seven trustees administered, and afterwards conveyed all their rights and authority to the Conference.
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