Are you a Christian?
THE LIFE OF ADAM CLARKE: BOOK 3
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We have seen, from the preceding statement, that young Clarke had already frequently given public exhortations in different country places — but in no case had he taken a text, though both the preachers and the principal friends wished him to do so. Conscious of his inexperience in divine things, and want of a general understanding in the Scriptures, he utterly refused to bind himself to explain any particular text in a formal way; and left himself the wide field of exhortation.
It would be well if young ministers, or those designed for the ministerial office, were equally scrupulous, not to say conscientious. Many labor on a particular text, which they treat as they were accustomed to do a theme in their schoolboy exercises; and think, when they have succeeded pretty well on a few points of this kind, that they are qualified to be preachers of God’s Holy Word: this is in many cases a fatal mistake both to themselves and others. In the primitive Church, there were Exhorters, as well as Preachers, Teachers, Apostles, and Evangelists; and their gift was not less necessary for the edification of the Church than those of the others.
However, all gifts seem now to be absorbed in one and a man must be either a Preacher or nothing.
Adam had not as yet got what he deemed a satisfactory call to preach the Gospel; and he was afraid to run before he was sent. As it was now likely he would not be employed in what was termed the regular ministry of the word, he judged it the more necessary to have an extraordinary call, to an extraordinary work: and for this he waited without solicitude or anxiety; for he did not desire the work of the ministry; it was to him no object of ambition, and could be none of emolument. His lot was now cast with the Methodists; for among them he had found the salvation of his soul; and he had no wish for any other religious communion. Their doctrine he knew to be true; their discipline he found useful and their whole economy afforded spiritual advantages, which he could see no where else.
Shortly after he left Coleraine, Mr. Bredin, already mentioned, being on the Londonderry side of the circuit, sent for him to spend a week or fortnight with him: as his parents were not unwilling, he prepared for the journey, upwards of thirty miles, which he must walk, for there were no public conveyances of any kind in those parts. Just before he set out, early on the Monday morning, he took up his Bible and said, Lord, direct me to some portion of thy Word, that may be a subject to me of useful meditation on the way. He then opened the book, and the first words that met his eyes were these, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father, in my name, he may give it you.” — John 15:16.
This word gave him great encouragement, and he went on his way rejoicing. When he came to the city, Mr. Bredin desired Him to go the next night, and supply his place, at a village called New Buildings, about five miles beyond Derry: — to this he agreed. “But,” says Mr. B., “you must read to the people.” “I will do the best I can,” says Adam, “with God’s help.” “But,” said Mr. B., “you must take a text and preach from it.” “That I cannot do,” said Adam. “You must and shall” said Mr. B. “I will exhort as usual, but I cannot venture to take a text.” “Well, a text you must take, for the people will not he satisfied without it: a good exhortation is a Sermon, and you may as well have a text as not.” To this authority he was obliged for the present to bow: — he went with rather a perplexed than a heavy heart; but he was relieved by meeting in the course of his reading with the following words: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19.
This text he thought he well understood, went to the place, June 19th, 1782; took it, and after an introduction, in which he gave a general account of the Apostle John, divided it in the following way: —
1.The Apostle states that the whole world lieth in wickedness: this I shall endeavor to prove from the natural and practical state of man.
2.That it is only by the power of God that men are saved from this state of corruption; those who are converted being influenced and employed by Him: — We are of God.
3.Those who are thus converted, know it, not only from its outward effects in their lives; but from the change made in their hearts: — We know that we are of God.
The people seemed highly gratified, and gathered round him when he had finished, and entreated him to preach to them at a place a mile or two off; at five the next morning, before they went to their work: he consented, and many were gathered together to whom he explained and applied, 1 John 4:19, We love him because He first loved us.
During this visit at Derry, he preached five times at New Buildings; and gave several exhortations in the city. After about a fortnight’s stay he returned, and now had a strong persuasion in his own mind, that God had called him to preach His Word; and that the verse to which he was directed, when he set out on his journey to Derry, — Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, &c., was the evidence of the call which God had graciously given him. He felt these words, as no man could feel them, who was not in his circumstances. That he was not mistaken, the issue has most amply proved. He was now sent by God; human authority had not yet interfered in his appointment. It is the prerogative of God to call and ordain his own ministers: it may be the prerogative of the church to appoint them their to labor; though, frequently, this also comes by an especial divine appointment.
As there was some prospect that he might soon go to England; previously to his departure, A. C. thought it his duty to wait on the Rev Mr. Smith, the Rector of the parish, to inform him of his design to visit England, and request a certificate. He did so; and was as usual received with great kindness. On his requesting a certificate, Mr. S. said, “Write any thing you please, Adam, and I will sign it.” This he declined, and said, “Any thing from you, Sir, will be sufficient:” on which Mr. S. sat down and wrote the following lines which the Rev. Mr. Hezlet, Rector of a neighboring Paris, seeing, subscribed. Millburn, July 29, 1782. “The Bearer’s father, John Clarke, M. A. , has for several years kept school in the parish of Agherton, of which I am Rector; and during that time, both he and the Bearer, Adam Clarke, have maintained a fair and exceeding good character: and I do believe the Bearer worthy of the confidence of any person who has occasion to employ, or have any intercourse or connection with him. Wm. Smith, Minister of Agherton. Robt. Hezlet, Rector of Killowen.”
He had not been long returned from Derry, before a letter came from Mr. Wesley to Mr. Bredin, appointing him for England, and desiring him to bring A. Clarke with him, that he might be sent direct to Kingswood school. This brought matters to a crisis with his family: — they were all highly displeased. His father would neither see nor speak to him; his mother threatened him with God’s displeasure, and said as before, “We have brought you up with much care and trouble; your brother is gone, your father cannot last always, you should stay with the family, and labor for the support of those who have so long supported you, and not go to be a fugitive and vagabond over the face of the earth. I believe you to be upright, I know you to be godly; but remember, God has said, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. This is the first commandment with promise: and remember what the Apostle hath said; whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend i n one point, is guilty of all. Now I allow that are unblameable in your life, but you are now going to break that solemn law, Honor thy father and thy mother, and if you do, what will avail of all your other righteousness?” It would not do to reply to an aggrieved parent. All he could say was, I wish to do nothing contrary to the will of God: and in this respect I labor to keep a conscience void of offense before God and man. His poor mother was so far transported and off her guard, that she said, “If you go, you shall have a parent’s curse and not her blessing.”
He was thus brought into a dilemma, and had no choice but of difficulties. — He had advanced too far, to retreat safely; and to turn back be could not with a clear conscience. He had the most decided disapprobation of his parents, and with such, expressed as mentioned above, he could not think of leaving home. Prayer was his strong hold, and to this he had recourse on the present occasion. God knew the way that he took, and appeared for him. Having gone into Coloraine a few days on some business, he was greatly surprised on his return to find his mother’s sentiments entirely changed. She had got the persuasion that God had required her to give up her son to his work: she instantly submitted, and had begun to use all her influence with his father, to bring him to the same mind; nor had she exerted herself in vain. Both his parents received him on his return, with a pleasing countenance: and though neither said go: yet both said, we submit. In a few days he set off to the city of Londonderry, whence he was shortly to embark for Liverpool, London, or Bristol. On his departure, he was recommended by the pious society of Coleraine, to God. He had little money, and but a scanty wardrobe; but he was carried far above the fear of want; he would not ask his parents for any help; nor would he intimate to them that he needed any. A few of his own select friends put some money in his purse, and having taken a dutiful and affectionate leave of his parents and friends, he walked to Derry, a journey of upwards of 30 miles, in a part of a day, found Mr. Bredin waiting, who had agreed for their passage in a Liverpool trader, which was expected to sail the first fair wind.
As he was young and inexperienced, for he had not seen the world, Adam was glad that he was likely to have the company and advice of his friend Mr. Bredin; but in this he was disappointed: just as they were about to sail, a letter came from Mr. Wesley, remanding Mr. Bredin’s appointment.
There was no time to deliberate; the wind was fair, the vessel cleared out, and about to fall down the Lough; Adam got a loaf of bread and about a pound of cheese, went instantly aboard quite alone, and the vessel set sail, Saturday, August 17, 1782. By this solemn step he had now separated himself from all earthly connections and prospects in his own country and went on the authority of what he believed to be a divine command, not knowing whither he was going, nor what God intended for him.
They got safely down Lough Foyle into the Deucaledonian Sea, having run aground through the carelessness of the pilot, but got off in about an hour, without sustaining any damage. They passed between the Skerries, Raghery, and the main land; doubled Fair Head, and the next morning were off the Mull of Galloway. The tide being against them, and the wind falling, they were obliged to work into Ramsey Bay in the Isle of Man, where they stayed about six hours. When the tide made, they weighed anchor and the next afternoon got safely into Liverpool, August 19, 1782.
On this passage and some circumstances connected with it, it may be necessary to make a few remarks.
The captain of the sloop was named Cunningham a Scotchman; decent, orderly, and respectable in his life. With him young Clarke had frequent and serious conversation on the passage; with which Capt. C. seemed not a little pleased. The 18th was Sunday, during the whole of which they were at sea, but Adam was sick, and was obliged to keep to his bed. The captain had got Flavel’s works, and spent all his spare time on the Lord’s day in reading them. — The sailors were, on the whole, orderly; and though he had reproved them for swearing, they did not take it ill, and refrained from the practice during the passage: and as they saw that the captain treated his young passenger with respect, they also treated him with the same. When they took their pilot an board off Hoylake, they were informed that there was a hot press in the river. There were two young men, one a sailor, the other a hatter, steerage passengers, who beg an to fear for their personal safety. The sloop entered the river, and the first object that engaged their attention was a tender, which fired a couple of guns to make the captain bring to. The sails were hauled down in a moment, and the tender lowered her boat over her side; an officer and six men entered it, and began to make for the sloop. The transaction now about to be recorded Dr. C. has often related. His own account is the following: — “As soon as Captain Cunningham perceived the tender, and was obliged to bring to, on her fire: he addressed himself to the passengers, and said, ‘You had better go and hide yourselves in the most secret parts of the vessel or wherever you can; we shall have a press-gang immediately on board; and I cannot protect you. ‘The two young men already mentioned, hid themselves accordingly: I said to myself, Shall such a man as I flee? I will not. I am in the hands of the Lord; if He permit me to be sent on board a man-ofwar, doubtless He has something for me to do there. I therefore quietly sat down on a locker in the cabin; but my heart prayed to the God of heaven. By and bye the noise on deck, told me that the gang were come on board. Immediately I heard a hoarse voice of unholy authority, calling out, — ‘All you who are below, come up on deck! ‘I immediately walked up the hatch-way, stepped across the quarter-deck, and leaned myself against the gunwale. The officer went down himself and searched, and found the hatter; but did not find the sailor. While this officer and the captain were in conversation about the hatter, who maintained that he was apprentice to Mr. _____, of Liverpool, one of the gang came to me, and said to one of our sailors, ‘Who have you got here? ‘‘O, he’s a _____ priest, I’ll warrant, said the fellow; adding, ‘we pressed a priest yesterday, but I think we’ll not take this one. ‘By this time the lieutenant, having ordered the poor hatter aboard of the tender’s boat, came up to me, stood for some seconds eyeing me from head to foot; he then stepped forward, took me by the right hand, fingered and thumbed it to find whether I had been brought up to the sea or hard labor, then, with a authoritative insolence, shook it from him with a muffled execration, ‘D_____ you, you’ll not do. ‘They then returned to their boat and went off with the poor hatter. “What Briton’s bosom does not burn against this infringement of British liberty? This unconstitutional attack on the liberty of a free-born subject of the Sovereign of the British Isles. While the impress service is tolerated, in vain do we boast of our Constitution. It is an attack upon its vitality, ten thousand times worse than any suspension of the Habeas Corpus act. Let Britons know that it is neither any part of our Constitution, nor any law of the land, whatever some venal lawyers have said, in order to make it constructively such. Nothing can be a reason for it, but that which justifies a levee en masse of the inhabitants of the nation. It is intolerable to hear those plead for it, who are not exposed to so great a calamity.”
Having now escaped and got safely to shore, A. C. asked the captain if he could direct him to some quiet lodging, where he might be comfortable for the night, as he intended to set off next morning for Bristol. The captain said, “You shall stay at my house; sometimes my wife takes in respectable lodgers.” He went with him, and was presented with several encomiums to Mrs. C., who received him affably; she was a decent, well-bred woman. In the afternoon, the captain asked him to take a walk, and see the docks and shipping. He went, but having lately escaped from a press-gang, he was afraid of getting in their way again; and to tell the truth, imagined that every ill-looking fellow he met, was one of the party.
On his return to Captain Cunningham’s, he was introduced to a Scotch lady who was there, a private boarder; there was also a naval captain present. At tea, the conversation turned on religion. The strange captain professed to be a papist; the Scotch lady took some part in the conversation, and generally pledged her conscience to the truth of what she asserted. Adam was pained at this; for, in all other respects, she appeared to be a well-bred and very respectable gentlewoman. He watched for an opportunity after tea, when he saw her alone, said very humbly, “Madam, it is a pity that so decent and respectable a lady as you are, should ever use an improper word.” “Pray,” said the lady, surprised, “what, what do you mean?” “Why, madam, I have noticed you several times in conversation, use the term ‘upon my conscience.’ “Now, madam, to you, and to every intelligent serious person, conscience must be a very sacred principle; and should never be treated lightly; and certainly should never be used in the way of an ordinary oath.” “Why, sir” said she, “I cannot think there is any harm in it. I know very well-bred religious people make no scruple of using it as I do; and I am sure I cannot he persuaded that I have been doing any thing wrong.” “Well, madam, I do think it sinful; and I rather think when you come to reflect on it, you will think so too.” Thus ended the conversation. At supper the lady said, “Mrs. Cunningham, this young man has been reproving me for saying, ‘upon my conscience.’ Now, I never thought that to be a sin: and sure Mrs. C. you know, as well as I, many good people who make no scruple of saying it.” There was some silence, and then A. C. gave his reasons why he thought it, and all such words, thus used, to be sinful. Captain C. and Mrs. C. seemed to nod consent. The strange Captain said, “Sir, as I am a Catholic, I believe that when the priest has consecrated the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, nothing of those elements remains, they are totally and substantially changed into the body, blood, life, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Have you anything to say against that?” “O yes, sir,” said Adam, “I have much to say against it;” and then began and argued largely to show the doctrine unscriptural, and to prove it absurd. The captain then asked him what he had to say against the invocation of saints, and the worshipping of images? He gave his reasons at large against these also. Purgatory, was next produced; Auricular Confession; and the priests’ power to forgive sins. All these were considered: and, if one might dare to say so, of so young a person, they were all confuted from Scripture and reason. But the last tenet gave him an opportunity to turn to the subject generally, to speak concerning the nature of sin, and the fallen condemned state of man; and that, since no human nor angelic being could forgive offenses not committed against themselves, but against another, it followed that He only against whom they were committed could forgive them; and, as all had sinned and come short of the glory of God, if He did not forgive them, doubtless they must sink those who had committed them into the gulf of endless perdition. He showed also, that reconciliation with God was impossible from any thing that the sinner could either do or suffer; and that there was no hope of salvation to any man, but through the great sacrificial offering made by Christ Jesus. “But this,” said he, “becomes effectual to no man who is not a true and deep penitent, and does not implicitly believe in that Atoning Sacrifice, as offered to Divine Justice for him, as a sufficient sacrifice, offering, atonement, and satisfaction for his transgressions. While discoursing on these subjects, God gave him uncommon power and freedom of speech: his little audience had their eyes intently fixed upon him; tears began to drop on their cheeks, and the half-smothered sob, gave strong indications of the state of their minds: perceiving this, he said, let us pray! and, suddenly dropping on his knees, in which he was immediately followed by all present, he prayed with such fervor and energy that all were in tears; and God seemed to work mightily in every mind. What were the effects of this night’s conversation and prayer, will be found perhaps only in the great day.
The next morning he called on a Mr. Ray, of Cleaveland square, to whom he was introduced by a person from Londonderry, whom he had accidentally met in the street. Mr. Ray invited him to stay to breakfast, and dissuaded him from what he had fully intended to do — viz. to go on foot from Liverpool to Bristol, a journey of nearly 200 miles. Mr. Ray sent his young man with him to the coach-office where he took an outside place to Birmingham, in what was then called the Fly, one of the first of the stage coaches, carried six insides, as many outsides as they could stick on; and these, together with enormous boot and basket, filled with luggage, made it little inferior to a wagon in size, and not a great deal superior to one in speed. It might safely be ranked among the tarda volventia plaustra; for, though they left Liverpool at seven P. M. (Aug. 21) they did not arrive in Birmingham before the following evening.
Before he left Captain Cunningham’s he inquired for his bill; and was answered by Mrs. C., “No, sir, you owe nothing here; Capt. C., myself, and all the family, are deeply in your debt. You have been blessing to our house; and, were you to stay longer, you would have no charges. We shall be concerned to hear how you get to the end of your journey; therefore, pray write to us when you get to Kingswood.
This free lodging, though it suited his pocket, did not suit his disposition: for all through life he admired and enforced those words of our Lord, It is more blessed to give than to receive. He departed, earnestly praying that God would remember that family for good, for the kindness they had shown to a poor stranger in a strange land.
His company on this day’s journey was various particularly on outside, for they were frequently changed; most of them going only a short distance. Those within were of another description, and A. C. became acquainted with them in the following manner: — a young gentleman belonging to the party, chose to take a stage on the outside, in order to see the country. He was gay and giddy and soon proved that he feared not an oath. A. C. asked him if he did not think it very improper to make use of such words? “What” said he, “are you a Presbyterian?” “No, sir,” said Adam, “I am a Methodist.” This provoked his risibility in an uncommon degree; and he made it the foundation of a great deal of harmless, but rather foolish wit. When he went inside, he told his tale in his own way, and this excited the curiosity of his companions to see this strange creature. A well-behaved gentleman put his head out of the coach window, and sad “May tell the young lad in the blue coat, to come into the inside for a stage, one of us will change places with him.” Adam replied, “I thank you, sir, I prefer the seat where I now am.” He repeated his request and had the same answer. When the coach stopped a lady urged him to comply; but the risibility of the young gentleman not having as yet received its sedative, A. C. still refused. The lady pressed him, and said, “Why, sir, should you refuse our company?” — “Why, madam,” said he, “I think mine cannot be very agreeable to you.” She answered, “Sir on must come in; this young gentleman will take your place, and you will do us good.”
He at last consented. They questioned him about his religion; where he was going, &c. &c., and they were so well pleased, that they requested him to go with them round by London, and they would cheerfully pay his fare and maintain him on his way. This did not seem to him to be in the line of Providence, and therefore, with due expressions of obligation, he refused the proffered kindness. The coach stopped for dinner at Litchfield, and they obliged him to sit at table with them, and would not permit him to bear any expense. The gentleman was learned; and was pleased to find that his young acquaintance could converse with him out of Virgil and Horace; and was also well acquainted with all the doctrines of the gospel of Christ. In discoursing on that confidence which every true follower of God has in the Divine favor and protection, A. C. alleged that the principle was not unknown among even the heathens; though many called Christians deny that we can have any direct evidence of God’s love to our minds; and he quoted the following verse from Horace: —
Integer vitae scelerisque purus, Non eget Mauris jaculis. neque arcu, Nec venenatis gravida sagittis. Fusce, pharetra.” — Odar. lib. i. od. 22
— “The man that knows not guilty fear, Nor wants the bow, nor pointed spear; Nor needs, while innocent of heart, the quiver teeming with the poisoned dart.” — Francis —
True, said the gentleman, but if we take Horace as authority for one point, we may as well do it in another, and in some of your received principles, you will find him against you; witness another Ode,
“Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero Pulsanda tellus.” — Odar. lib. i. od. 37
— “Now let the bowl with wine be crown’d; Now lighter dance the mazy round.” — Francis —
A. C. acknowledged the propriety of this critique; and has been heard to say, “We should be cautious how we appeal to heathens, however eminent, in behalf of morality; because much may he collected from them on the other side. In like manner we should take heed how we quote the Fathers in proof of the doctrines of the Gospel; because he who knows them best, knows, that on many of those subjects, they blow hot and cold.”
He parted from this intelligent company at Lichfield: to whom he had a very favorable opportunity of explaining some of the chief doctrines of the Christian system. — Every well disposed mind has something to do for God or man, in every place and circumstance; and he who is watchful and conscientious, will find opportunities.
He reached Birmingham in the evening, and soon found out Mr. Joseph Brettell, the brother of John, already mentioned, to whom he had a letter of recommendation from Mr. Ray. Mr. and Mrs. B. received him most affectionately, and offered him a bed at their house till he could take his departure for Bristol, which could not be till early on the morning of the 24th, as there was no conveyance before that time. On the evening of the 23d Mr. B. took him with him to a public prayer-meeting, where he constrained him to give an exhortation; which the piety and good sense of the people to whom it was given, led them to receive kindly. The chapel in Cherry Street was then nearly finished, and that night before the prayermeeting, he heard old Parson Greenwood preach in it on these words, “I am in a Strait between two.” On which he observed that, “It had been generally the case in all ages, that the people of God had been frequently in straits and difficulties; and gave several instances, as Lot in Sodom; Jacob in the house of Laban, and when he met with Esau his brother; Moses in Egypt, &c. &c. and, had he then known the circumstances and spirit of his young strange hearer, he might have safely added him to the number.
Before he left Birmingham, Mr. Brettell took occasion to ask him, “What he proposed by going to Kingswood school?” Adam, who had been led to consider it in the light of an university, but much better conducted, immediately answered, “I hope to get in it an increase of learning, of knowledge, and of piety.” Mr. B. said, “I hope you may not be disappointed: I question whether you will meet there with anything you expect.” At this Adam was surprised and referred him to some of the late magazines, where such an account was given of this seminary, as quite justified all his expectations. Mr. B. said, “I only wish to put you on your guard against suffering pain and discouragement, should you be disappointed. Some of us know the place well; and know that you will not meet in it what you have been led to expect.” This seemed strange to him, and he pondered all these sayings in his heart. This kind family behaved to him as if he had been their own child, and a strict friendship was established between him and them which was never dissolved and Mr. Brettell’s house was his home whenever he visited Birmingham, till, in the course of Divine Providence, he left his residence and manufactory at the Moat, and became manager of a public charge in the town.
Of this kind family Dr. C. was accustomed to say “Never were those words of the Lord more literally attended to than in the case of this family in reference to me: — I was a stranger and ye took me in. Of myself or family they had never before heard. Of me they could hardly expect ever to hear again; and for their kindness they could expect no reward on this side the resurrection of the just; and yet they behaved to me, as did the family of the Walkers, into which Mr. B. had married, as if they had been under the highest obligations to me and mine. May God remember them for good: and may neither their children, nor children’s children ever be strangers in a strange land, without meeting with such friends as they have been to me!”
As the coach for Bristol was to go off at three o’clock in the morning, it was thought best that A. C should sleep at the inn. When he had paid his coach outside fare to Bristol and sixpence for his bed, he found he had remaining one shilling and ninepence only. On this he could not draw extensively for support on the way; nor was he anxious as he was well inured to self-denial and fasting. He left Birmingham at three o’clock, A. M. Aug. 24, and reached the Lamb Inn in Broad Mead, Bristol, at eight o’clock that night. During the whole of this time, his entire subsistence had been a penny loaf and a halfpenny worth of apples! The day had been stormy, and he had been often wet to the skin: and not being used to such traveling, he was sufficiently fatigued and exhausted when he reached Bristol. He was shown to the kitchen, where there happening to be a good fire, he got himself warmed: and he asked for a piece of bread and cheese, and a drink of water. “Water, water!” said one of the servants, “had you not better have a pint of beer?” — “No, I prefer a drink of water” said he: it was brought, and for this homely supper he paid sixpence, and sixpence for his bed before he lay down; he had now sevenpence halfpenny remaining, sixpence of which the chambermaid charged for taking care of his box: he had three halfpence left, his whole substance, to begin the world at Kingswood! The next morning early, Aug. 25th, he left the inn, and walked to Kingswood, and got thither about seven o’clock, when the preaching in the chapel was about to commence. He entered with the crowd, and heard Mr. Thomas Payne preach on “Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” This text was a word in season to Adam, who began now to be very heavy, and considerably tried in his mind, with a foreboding of some approaching distresses. It may be necessary to state here, that the Thomas Payne mentioned above, was not the famous revolutionist and Infidel, so well known since over Europe and America; but a zealous, sensible Methodist preacher, the reverse of the other, both in his religious and political creed. His own life, written by himself may be found in the Arminian Magazine. He died at Brislington, near Bristol, the following year.
The preaching being ended, A. C. inquired of a young lad, whom he supposed to be one of the scholars, if Mr. Simpson (the head Master) was at home? Being informed that he was, he begged leave to see him; — he was introduced, and delivered Mr. Wesley’s letter. Mr. S. appeared surprised: said, “He had heard nothing of it, and that they had no room in the school for any one; that Mr. Wesley was now in Cornwall, but was expected in a fortnight:” and added, “You must go back to Bristol, and lodge there till he comes.” These were all appalling tidings! Adam had traveled several hundred miles both by sea and land in quest of a chimerical Utopia and Garden of Paradise, and now all his hopes were in a moment crushed to death.
With a heart full of distress, Adam ventured to say, “Sir, I cannot go back to Bristol. I have expended all my money, and have nothing to subsist on.”
Mr. S. said, “Why should you come to Kingswood, it is only for preachers’ children, or for such preachers as cannot read their Bible; and it appears from this information, that you have already been at a classical school, and that you have read both Greek and Latin authors.” Adam said, “I am come to improve myself in various ways by the advantages which I understood Kingswood could afford.” Mr. S. replied that, “It was not necessary; if you are already a preacher, you had better go out into the work at large, for there is no room for you in the school, and not one spare bed in the house.” It was now with his poor heart: — Heimihi! quanta de spe decidi!
The rest I shall give in A. C.’s own words. “At last it was agreed, that there was a spare room on the end of the chapel, where I might lodge till Mr. Wesley should come from Cornwall: and that I must stay in that room and not come into the house. I was accordingly shown to the place, and was told, one of the maids should bring me my daily food at the due times. As soon as I was left alone, I kneeled down and poured out my soul to God with strong crying and tears. I was a stranger in a strange land, and alas! among strange people: utterly friendless and penniless. I felt also that I was not at liberty, but only to run away: — this I believe would have been grateful to the unfeeling people into whose hands I had fallen. But I soon found why I was thus cooped up in my prison-house. Mr. S. that day took an opportunity to tell me that Mrs. S. suspected that I might have the itch, as many persons coming from my country had; [this was excellent from Scotch people, for such they both were;] and that they could not let me mingle with the family. I immediately tore open my waistcoat and shirt, and showed him a skin as white and as clean as ever had come across the Tweed; but all to no purpose, — ‘It might be cleaving somewhere to me, and they could not be satisfied till I had rubbed myself, from head to foot, with a box of Jackson’s itch ointment, which should be procured for me next day!’ “It was only my strong hold of God, that kept me from distraction. But to whom could I make my complaint? Earthly refuge I had none. It is utterly impossible for me to describe the feelings, I may justly say the agony, of my mind. I surveyed my apartment; there was a wretched old bureau wainscot bedstead, not worth ten shillings, and a flock bed, and suitable bed-clothes, worth not much more: but the worst was, they were very scanty, and the weather was cold and wet. There was one rush bottomed chair in the place, and besides these, neither carpet on the floor, nor at the bedside, nor any other kind of furniture. There was no book, not even a Bible in the place; and my own box, with my clothes and a few books, was behind at the Lamb Inn, in Bristol; and I had not even a change of linen. Of this I informed them, and begged them to let the man, (as I found he went in with a horse and small cart three times a week) bring out my box to me. To this request, often and earnestly repeated, I got no definite answer , but no box was brought. “Jackson’s Ointment was brought, it is true; and with this infernal unguent, I was obliged to anoint myself before a large fire, (the first and last [fire] I saw while I remained there) which they had ordered to be lighted for the purpose. In this state, smelling worse than a polecat, I tumbled with a heavy heart and streaming eyes, into my worthless bed. The next morning the sheets had taken from my body, as far as they came in contact with it, the unabsorbed parts of this tartareous compound and the smell of them and myself was almost insupportable. The woman that brought my bread and milk for breakfast — for dinner — and for supper, — for generally I had nothing else, and not enough of that, — I begged to let me have a pair of clean sheets. It was in vain: no clean clothes of any kind were afforded me; I was left to make my own bed, sweep my own room, and empty my own basin, &c. &c. as I pleased! For more than three weeks no soul performed any kind act for me. And as they did not give orders to the man to bring out my box, I was left without a change of any kind, till the Thursday of the second week; when I asked permission to go out of my prison-house to Bristol for my box; which being granted, I walked to Bristol and carried my box on my head, more than four miles, without any kind of assistance! It was then no loss, that my wardrobe was not extensive. As for books, I brought none with me but a small 18mo. Bible, a 12mo. edition of Young’s Night Thoughts, Prideaux’s Connected History of the Jews, &c., and Buck’s 8vo. Greek Testament. “As both the days and nights were very cold, the season then being unnaturally so, I begged to have a little fire. This was denied me, though coals were raised within a few roods [rods] of the house, and were very cheap; and had it been otherwise, they were not at their expense; they were paid for out of the public collections, made for that school; to which many of my friends made an annual liberal offering. “One day, having seen Mr. S. walking in the garden, I went to him and told him I was starving with cold; and showed him my fingers then bloodless through cold! He took me to the hall, showed me a cord which hung from the roof to the end of which was affixed a cross stick; and told me to jump up and catch a hold of the stick, and swing by my hands, and that would help to restore the circulation. I did so and had been at the exercise only a few minutes, when Mrs. S. came and drove both him and myself away, under pretense that we should dirty the floor! From this woman I received no kindness. A more unfeeling woman I had never met.
She was probably very clever — all stood in awe of her — for my own part, I feared her more than I feared Satan himself. When nearly crippled with cold, and I had stolen into the kitchen to warm myself for a few moments, if I had heard her voice in the hall I have run as a man would who is pursued in the jungles of Bengal by a royal tiger. “This woman was equally saving of the candles, as of the coals: if my candle were not extinguished by nine o’clock, I was called to account for it. My bed not being comfortable, I did not like to be much in it; and therefore kept out of it as late, and rose from it as early as possible. To prevent Mrs. S. from seeing the reflection of the light through my window, (for my prison-house was opposite the school, over the way) I was accustomed to set my candle on the floor behind my bureau bed, take off my coat and hang it on my chair’s back, bring that close on the other angle, and then sit down squat on the floor and read! To these miserable expedients was I driven in order to avoid my bed and spend my time in the best manner I could for the cultivation of my mind, and to escape the prying eye of this woman, who seemed never to be in her element but when she was driving every thing before her. “I asked and got permission to work in the garden. There, fine quickset hedges were all overgrown; these I reduced to order by the dubbing shears: and I had done this so well, that my taste and industry were both applauded. I occasionally dug and dressed plots in the ground. This was of great service to me, as it gave me a sufficiency of exercise, and I had on the whole better health; and there was a sort of pond of rain water in the garden, where I occasionally bathed, scanty indeed of water, for there is none in the place but what falls from heaven; and for a temporary occupation of their premises, I was obliged to contend with frogs, askes, or evets, and vermin of different kinds. “The preaching, and public band-meeting at the chapel were often sources of spiritual refreshment to me; and gave me songs in the house of my pilgrimage. “One Thursday evening, when Mr. Thos. Rankin who was superintendent (then called assistant) of the circuit, had preached, the bands met: and as I made it a point never to attend bandmeeting or love feast, without delivering my testimony for God, I spoke: and without entering into trials, temptations, or difficulties of any kind, I simply stated my confidence in God, the clear sense I had of my acceptance with Him, and my earnest desire for complete purity of heart. When the meeting was ended, Mr. R. came to me, and asked if I had ever led a class? I said, I had often, in my own country, but not since I came to England. ‘Have you ever preached?’ I answered, I had often exhorted in public, but had taken a text only a few times. He then told me I must go and meet a class at Mangotsfield the next day; and preach at Downend the next Wednesday. I met the class, and preached as appointed, and had great favor in the sight of the people. “From that time Mr. Rankin was my steady friend. I had an intimate acquaintance with him for upwards of thirty years; and we never had the slightest misunderstanding. He was an authoritative man; and many complained of him on this account; he had not many friends, his manner being often apparently austere.
But he was a man of unblemished character, truly devoted to God, and zealous in his work. I attended him on his death-bed in London: he died as a Christian and minister of Christ should die, — full of confidence in God, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. “The last time I saw him he desired his stepdaughter, Mrs. Hovatt, to open a certain drawer, and bring to him a little shagreen box. She did so — he took it, and said, ‘My dear brother Clarke, this is a silver medal of the late Rev. George Whitefield: Mr. Wesley gave it to me, and in my will I have left it to you: but I now choose to give it to you with own hands; and I shall use the same words in giving it which Mr. Wesley used when he gave it to me: ‘Thus we scatter our playthings: and soon we’ll scatter our dust.’ “It is a satisfaction to me that, having been superintendent of the London circuit three years before he died, I had it in my power to make his latter labors comparatively comfortable and easy; by appointing him to places to which he had little fatigue in going, and where he was affectionately entertained. In this I only did my duty; but he received it as have high obligation. Preachers who have borne the burden and heat of the day, should be favored in their latter end, when their strength and spirits fail. “Before I go farther in this relation, it will be necessary to describe, as briefly as possible, the family at Kingswood. “The school at that time consisted of the sons of itinerant preachers, and parlor boarders. The latter were taken in, because the public collections were not sufficient to support the institution. “As a religious seminary, and under the direction of one of the greatest men in the world, Mr. J. Wesley, (though his multitudinous avocations prevented him from paying much attention to it) the school had a great character, both over Europe and America, among religious people. Independently of several young gentlemen, the sons of opulent Methodists, there were at that time in it several from the West Indies, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
The following was the domestic establishment: — “Mr. Thomas Simpson, M. A. was head master. Mrs. Simpson, housekeeper. Miss Simpson, assistant. The Rev. Cornelius Bayley, afterwards Dr. Bayley of Manchester, was English teacher; who had I believe at that time, only 12l. per annum, and his board, &c. for his labor; Mr. Vincent de Boudry was occasional French teacher; and Mr. C. R. Bond was a sort of half boarder, and assistant English teacher. “Mr. S. was a man of learning and piety; much of a gentleman, but too easy for his situation. Mr. Bayley was a man of the strictest morals and exemplary piety. Mr. De Boudry was a man of plain sense and true godliness. Mr. Bond was a young man of little experience, and shallow in talents, but affectionate: whose highest ambition seemed to be, to reach the exalted place and character of a clergyman. “Mr. Simpson on leaving Kingswood, which he did the year after I was there, set up a classical school at Keynsham; which he managed for many years with considerable credit; and died, leaving a son to fill his place, who afterwards became vicar of that place. “Mr. Cornelius Bayley published a very good Hebrew grammar while he was at the school. He afterwards went to Manchester, where a church was built for him, called St. James’. There he earnestly labored and did much good though he knew not the people among whom he received his religion, and who were the principal instruments in building his church. He also is dead; highly respected for his piety, usefulness, and high Church principles. “Mr. De Boudry married a pious sensible woman; and set up a Boarding School on Kingsdown, Bristol. He is dead: having long borne the character of a pious, steady, honest man. “No man can do justice to the the of Mr. Bond, but himself. It has been indeed various and checkered: he is probably still living; but I know not what is become of him. “The scholars were none of them remarkable for piety or learning.
The young gentlemen that were introduced had spoiled the discipline of the school; very few of its Rules and Regulations were observed; and it in no respect answered the end of its institution.
This is evident from the judgment passed upon it in the following year by Mr. Wesley and the Bristol Conference. This document I transcribe. ‘Bristol, Aug. 1783.
Q 15. Can any improvement be made in the management of Kingswood school?
A. My design in building the house at Kingswood was to have therein a Christian family; every member whereof; (children excepted) should be alive to God, and a pattern of all holiness.
Here it was that I proposed to educate a few children according to the accuracy of the Christian model. And almost as soon as we began, God gave us a token for good, four of the children receiving a clear sense of pardon. But at present the school does not in any wise answer the design of its institution, either with regard to religion or learning. The children are not religious; they have not the power, and hardly the form, of religion. Neither do they improve in learning better than at other schools: no, nor yet so well. Insomuch that some of our friends have been obliged to remove their children to other schools. And no wonder they improve so little either in religion or learning; for the rules of the school are not observed at all. All in the house ought to rise, take their three meals, and go to bed at a fixed hour. But they do not. The children ought never to be alone; but always in the presence of a master. This is totally neglected; in consequence of which they run up and down the road, and mix, yea fight, with the colliers’ children. ‘How may these evils be remedied, and the school reduced to its original plan? It must be mended or ended, for no school, is better than the present school.’ “This censure is perfectly correct, it was the worst school I had ever seen, and though the teachers were men of adequate learning; yet as the school was perfectly disorganized, and in several respects each did what was right in his own eyes. and there was no efficient plan pursued, they mocked at religion, and trampled under foot all the laws. The little children of the preachers suffered great indignities; and, it is to be feared, their treatment there gave many of them a rooted enmity against piety and religion for life. The parlor boarders had every kind of respect paid to them, and the others were shamefully neglected. Had this most gross mismanagement been known to the Methodist preachers, they would have suffered their sons to die in ignorance, rather than have sent them to a place where there was scarcely any care taken either of their bodies or souls. “I found to my great discomfort, all the hints thrown out by Mr. B. and my Birmingham friends more than realized. The school has certainly been ‘mended’ since; and is now stated to be in a progressive state of greater improvement than ever. May it ever answer, in every respect, the great end which its most excellent founder proposed when he laid its first stone, and drew up its rules. “But to return to the remainder of my short stay in Kingswood. “I have already noticed that, for the sake of exercise I often worked in the garden. Observing one day a small plot which had been awkwardly turned over by one of the boys, I took the spade and began to dress it: in breaking one of the clods, I knocked a halfguinea out of it. I took it up and immediately said to myself, this is not mine; it belongs not to any of my family, for they have never been here; I will take the first opportunity to give it to Mr. Simpson. Shortly after, I perceived him walking in the garden, I went to him, told him the circumstance, and presented the halfguinea to him; he took it, looked at it, and said, ‘It may be mine, as several hundred pounds pass through my hands in the course of the year, for the expenses of this school; but I do not recollect that I ever lost any money since I came here. Probably one of the gentlemen has; keep it, and in the mean time I will inquire.’ I said, ‘sir, it is not mine, take you the money, if you meet the right owner, well; if not, throw it in t he funds of the school.’ He answered, ‘You must keep it till I make the inquiry.’ I took it again with reluctance. The next day he told me that Mr. Bayley had lost a half-guinea, and I might give it to him the first time I saw him; I did so: — three days afterwards Mr. Bayley came to me and said, ‘Mr. C. it is true that I lost a half-guinea, but I am not sure that this is the half guinea I lost; unless I were so, I could not conscientiously keep it; therefore you must take it again.’ I said, ‘It is not mine, probably it is yours; therefore I cannot take it.’ He answered, ‘I will not keep it: I have been uneasy in my mind ever since it came into my possession;’ and, in saying this, he forced the gold into my hand. Mr. Simpson was present: I then presented it to him, saving, ‘Here, Mr. S., take you it, and apply it to the use of the school.’ He turned away hastily as from something ominous, and said, ‘I declare I will have nothing to do with it.’ So it was obliged to remain with its finder, and formed a grand addition to a purse that already possessed only three half-pence. “Was this providential?
1.I was poor, not worth two-pence in the world, and needed some important articles.
2.I was out of the reach of all supplies, and could be helped only from heaven.
3.How is it that the lad who had dug the ground did not find the money: it was in a clod less than a man’s fist.
4.How came it that Mr. B., who knew he had lost a half-guinea, somewhere about the premises, could not appropriate this, but was miserable in his mind for two or three days and nights, and could have no rest till he returned it to me?
5.How came it that Mr. S. was so horrified with the poor half-guinea that he dared not even throw it into the charitable fund?
6.Did the Providence of God send this to me knowing that I stood in need of such a supply?
“The story is before the Reader, he may draw what inference he pleases. One thing, however, I may add. — Besides two or three necessary articles which I purchased, I gave Mr. Bayley 6s. as my subscription for his Hebrew Grammar: by which work I acquired a satisfactory knowledge of that language, which ultimately led me to read over the Hebrew Bible, and make those short notes which formed the basis of the Commentary since published! Had I not got that Grammar I probably should never have turned my mind to Hebrew learning; and most certainly had never written a Commentary on Divine Revelation! Behold how great matter a little fire kindleth! My pocket was not entirely empty of the remains of this half-guinea, till other supplies, in the ordinary course of God’s Providence came in! O God! the silver and the gold are thine: so are the cattle upon a thousand hills. “At length Mr. Wesley returned to Bristol. The day he came, Mr. Simpson went in and had an interview with him; and I suppose told his own tale, — that they had not room, that it was a pity I should not be out in the general work; and I was told that Mr. W. wished to see me. I had this privilege for the first time, on September 6th. I went into Bristol, saw Mr. Rankin, who carried me to Mr. Wesley’s study, off the great lobby of the rooms over the Chapel in Broadmead. He tapped at the door, which was opened by this truly apostolic man: Mr. R. retired: Mr. W. took me kindly by the hand, and asked me, ‘How long since I had left Ireland?’ Our conversation was short. He said, ‘Well, brother Clarke, do you wish to devote yourself entirely to the work of God?’ I answered, ‘Sir, I wish to do and be what God pleases!’ He then said, ‘We want a preacher for Bradford (Wilts;) hold yourself in readiness to go thither; I am going into the country, and will let you know when you shall go.’ He then turned to me, laid his hands upon my head, and spent a few moments in praying to God to bless and preserve me, and to give me success in the work to which I was called. “I departed, having now received, in addition to my appointment from God to preach His gospel, the only authority I could have from man, in that line in which I was to exercise the Ministry of the Divine Word. “That evening Mr. Wesley preached in the chapel from Zechariah 4:6., Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. In this Sermon, which was little else than a simple narrative of facts, he gave a succinct account of the rise and progress of what is called Methodism: its commencement in Oxford, occasioned by himself and his brother Charles, and a few other young men, setting apart a certain portion of time to read the Greek Testament, and carefully to note the doctrines and precepts of the gospel; and to pray for inward and outward holiness, &c.
With and by these God had condescended to work a work, the greatest that had been wrought in any nation since the days of the Apostles. That the instruments which he employed were, humanly speaking, not at all calculated to produce such a glorious effect; — they had no might as to extraordinary learning, rhetorical abilities: — they had no power, either ecclesiastical or civil; could neither command attention, nor punish the breach of order ; and yet by these means was this extraordinary work wrought; and in such a manner too as to demonstrate, that as it was neither by might nor power, it was by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts. “Had this relation been entirely new to me, I should have felt more interest in the Sermon. But I had already acquainted myself with the history of Methodism, of which the present Sermon was an abridgment. The Sermon had nothing great in it, but was well suited to the purpose for which it was preached; viz. to lead the people ever to consider the glorious revival of religion which they witnessed, as the work of God alone; and to give him the glory; as to Him alone this glory was due. “Two days after this, (September 8) I first saw Mr. Charles Wesley, and was not a little gratified to think that I had, by a strange series of providences, been brought to see the two men whom I had long considered as the very highest characters upon the face of the globe; and as the most favored instruments which God had employed since the days of the twelve Apostles to revive and spread genuine Christianity in the earth. “It was not till the 26th of this month that I had my final instructions to set off to my circuit. “A young man, named Edward Rippon, had been, on too slight an authority, recommended to Mr. Wesley at the Conference, which had been held at Bristol in the last month as a proper person to travel, and he was accordingly appointed Bradford, (Wilts.) When the time came he was found to be unqualified for the work, and he declined coming out. To supply his place, I was appointed for that circuit: and this is the reason why my name was not printed in the Minutes that year; as the Conference was over before Mr. Rippon’s determination was known, or my appointment had taken place. And by a blunder of all editors since that time Rippon’s name stands in that year as a traveling preacher in the Bradford circuit, though he never traveled an hour as a Methodist preacher in his life. “I have only one thing more to add about Kingswood before take my final leave of it. “When Mr. Wesley had returned and told me to hold myself in readiness to go into a circuit, I was brought out of my prison house, had a bed assigned me in the large room with the rest of the boys, (for about forty lay in the same chamber, each in a separate cot, with a flock bed,) and had permission to dine with the family. There was no question then about itch, or any thing else; whether I ever had it, or whether I was cured of it! But Mrs. S.’s authority was not yet at an end. It was soon observed at table that I drank no person’s health. The truth is, I had ever considered it an absurd and senseless custom, and could not bring my mind to it. At this table, every person when he drank was obliged to run the following gauntlet. He must drink the health of Mr. Simpson — Mrs. Simpson — Miss Simpson — Mr. Bayley — Mr. De Boudry — all the foreign gentlemen — then all the parlor boarders, down one side of the long table, and up the other, one by one, and all the visitors who might happen to be there: — after which it was lawful for him to drink his glass of beer. “On Mrs. Simpson’s insisting upon my going through this routine, and drinking all healths, I told her I had a scruple of conscience, and could not submit to it till better informed; and hoped she would not insist on it. She answered, ‘You certainly shall: you shall not drink at table unless you drink the healths of the company as the others do. Mr. Wesley drinks healths; Mr. Fletcher does the same; but you will not do it, because of course you have more wisdom and piety than they have.’ To this I could not reply. I was in Rome, and it would have been absurd in me to have attempted to contend with the pope. The consequence was, I never had a drop of fluid with my meat during the rest of my stay at this place. This was a sore trial to me, for I never had an easy deglution, and was always obliged to sip with my food, in order to get it easily swallowed. I had now no help, but to take very small bits, and eat little; and then go out to the vile straining stone behind the kitchen, for some of the half-putrid p it water; and thus terminate my unsatisfactory meal. “The tyranny of Mrs. S. in this was truly execrable. I omitted from conviction a practice which I judged to be at least foolish and absurd: and none of them could furnish the shadow of an argument in vindication of their own conduct, or in confutation of mine. I have however lived long enough to see almost the whole nation come over to my side. “It was at this time that the Bishop of Bristol held a confirmation in the collegiate church. I had never been confirmed, and as I had a high respect for all the rites and ceremonies of the Church, I wished to embrace this opportunity to get the blessing of that amiable and apostolic looking prelate, Dr. Lewis Bagot. I asked permission; several of the preachers’ sons went with me; and I felt much satisfaction in this ordinance; to me it was very solemn, and the whole was well conducted. Mrs. S., who was a Presbyterian, pitied my being so long ‘held in the oldness of the letter.’ I have lived nearly forty years since; and upon this point my sentiments are not changed. “My stay was now terminated at Kingswood school. On the morning of Sept. 26th, I left it, walked to Hanham: from thence to Bath, where I heard Mr. Wesley preach: and from Bath I walked to Bradford, where I again heard him preach in the evening. That night I lodged at the house of Mr. Pearce; a man who was a pattern of every excellence that constitutes the Christian character: and the next day I set out into my circuit, of which Trowbridge was the first place. “Though burdened with a sense of my great unfitness for the work into which I was going, yet I left Kingswood without a sigh or a groan. It had been to me a place of unworthy treatment, not to say torment: but this had lasted only one month and two days; thirtyone days too much, if God had not been pleased to order it otherwise. But the impressions made upon my mind by the bad usage I received there, have never been erased: a sight of the place has ever filled me with distressing sensations; and the bare recollection of the name never fails to bring with it associations both unpleasant and painful. Those who were instruments of my tribulation are gone to another tribunal; and against them I never made any complaint.”
A younger person than Adam Clarke, had probably never gone out into the work of the ministry among the Methodists, or perhaps among any other people: and had not his been a case peculiar and singular, and which should never pass into a precedent, it would have been imprudent to have appointed so young a man to such a work, both for his own sake, and for the sake of those who were to sit under his ministry.
Mr. C. was judged to be at this time about eighteen; and even small and youthful taken for that age: he was a mere boy, and was generally denominated the little boy. But he was in a very particular manner fitted for the work, by strong exercises of spirit, and by much experience and knowledge of his own heart, of the temptations of Satan, and of the goodness of God.
His acquaintance with the Scriptures could not be extensive; but it was very correct as far as it went.
Of the plan of salvation he had the most accurate knowledge and in this respect, his trumpet could not give an uncertain sound. He had received the word from God’s mouth, and he gave the people warning from Him.
He well knew those portions which applied to the stouthearted and far from righteousness — to the penitent — the strongly tempted — the lukewarm — the believer — the backslider — and the self-righteous. All these states he could readily discern; and knew well how to address them.
Besides, his zeal knew no other bounds than those that limit the human race; and its exertions under that influence, were confined only within the limits of his corporeal and mental strength. The Bible was his one book; and Prayer his continual exercise. He frequently read it upon his knees; and often watered it with his tears. He never entered the pulpit but with the conviction that if God did not help him by the influence of his Spirit, his heart must be hard, and his mind dark, and consequently his word be without unction, and without effect. For this influence he besought God with strong crying and tears; and he was seldom, if ever, left to himself.
With respect to preaching itself, his diffidence was extreme; and he felt it as a heavy burden which God had laid upon his shoulders; and under which God alone could support him: and, as he found in this case most emphatically, without God he could do nothing; he was therefore led to watch and pray most earnestly and diligently, that he might be enabled to hold fast faith and a good conscience, that continuing in God’s favor, he might have reason to expect his support.
Of the Methodists’ economy, as it respected secular things, he knew little: it never entered into his mind that he was to have anything but his food: as to clothing, he did not anticipate the thought of needing any. Purer motives, greater disinterestedness, never dwelt in the breast of human being: he sought nothing but the favor of his Maker, and the salvation of souls, and to spend and be spent in this work.
Of learning, he did not boast; because he believed that he could not. He knew that he had the rudiments of literature, a moderate classical taste, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge; especially the knowledge of God and His works: his mind was not highly cultivated, but the soil was broken up, and was, in every respect, improvable. Such were the qualifications of Adam Clarke, when, on Sept. 27, 1782, he went out as an itinerant preacher among the people called Methodists.
It has already been stated, that a thorough reading of the New Testament settled his Creed; no article of which he ever afterwards saw occasion to change. The principal Articles were the following: and for these he believed he had the unequivocal testimony of Scripture, the steady voice of reason, and the evidence of facts, as far as these could apply to the articles in question. “I. That there is but one uncreated, unoriginated, infinite, and eternal Being; — the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things. “II. There is in this Infinite Essence a Plurality of what we commonly call Persons; not separately subsisting, but essentially belonging to the Deity or Godhead; which Persons are generally termed Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; or, God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit, which are usually designated the Trinity; which term, though not found in the Scriptures, seems properly enough applied; as we repeatedly read of these Three, and never of more persons in the Godhead. “III. The Sacred Scriptures or Holy Books, which constitute the Old and New Testaments, contain a full revelation of the will of God, in reference to man; and are alone sufficient for every thing relative to the faith and practice of a Christian, and were given by the inspiration of God. “IV. Man was created in righteousness and true holiness, without any moral imperfection, or any kind of propensity to sin; but free to stand or fall, according to the use of the powers and faculties he received from his Creator. “V. He fell from this state, became morally corrupt in his nature, and transmitted his moral defilement to all his posterity. “VI. To counteract the evil principle in the heart of man, and bring him into a salvable state, God, from his infinite love, formed the purpose of redeeming him from his lost estate, by the incarnation, in the fullness of time, of Jesus Christ; and, in the interim, sent his Holy Spirit to enlighten, strive with, and convince, men of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “VII. In due time this Divine Person, called the Logos, Word, Saviour, &c., &c., did become incarnate; sojourned among men, teaching the purest truth, and working the most stupendous and beneficent miracles. “VIII. The above Person is really and properly God: was foretold as such, by the Prophets: described as such, by the Evangelists and Apostles; and proved to be such, by His miracles; and has assigned to Him by the inspired writers in general, every attribute essential to the Deity; being One with Him who is called God, Jehovah, Lord, &c. “IX. He is also a perfect Man, in consequence of His Incarnation; and in that Man, or Manhood, dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: so that His nature is twofold — Divine and Human, or God manifested in the flesh. “X. His Human Nature was begotten of the blessed Virgin Mary, through the creative energy of the Holy Ghost: but His Divine Nature, because God, infinite and eternal, is uncreated, underived, and unbegotten; and which, were it otherwise, He could not be God in any proper sense of the word: but He is most explicitly declared to be God in the Holy Scriptures; and therefore the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship, must necessarily be false. — (See the Arg. p. 96.) “XI. As He took upon Him the nature of man, and died in that nature; therefore, He died for the whole human race, without respect of persons: equally for all and every man. “XII. On the third day after His crucifixion, and burial, He rose from the dead; and after showing himself many days to His disciples and others, He ascended into Heaven, where, as God manifested in the Flesh, He is, and shall continue to be, the Mediator of the human race, till the consummation of all things. “XIII. There is no salvation, but through him; and throughout the Scriptures His Passion and Death, are considered as Sacrificial: pardon of sin and final salvation being obtained by the alone shedding of His blood. “XIV. No human being, since the fall, either has, or can have, merit or worthiness of, or by, himself; and therefore, has nothing to claim from God, but in the way of His mercy through Christ: therefore, pardon and every other blessing, promised in the Gospel, have been purchased by His Sacrificial Death; and are given to men, not on the account of any thing they have done or suffered; or can do or suffer; but for His sake or through his meritorious passion and death, alone. These blessings are received by faith; because they are not of works nor of suffering. “XVI. The power to believe, or grace of faith, is the free gift of God, without which no man can believe: but the act of faith, or actually believing, is the act of the soul under that power: this power is withheld from no man; but, like all other gifts of God, it may he slighted, not used, or misused, in consequence of which is that declaration, He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. “XVII. Justification, or the pardon of sin, is an instantaneous act of God’s mercy in behalf of a penitent sinner, trusting only in the merits of Jesus Christ: and this act is absolute in reference to all past sin, all being forgiven where any is forgiven: gradual pardon, or progressive justification, being unscriptural and absurd. “XVIII. The souls of all believers may be purified from all sin in this life; and a man may live under the continual influence of the grace of Christ, so as not to sin against God. All sinful tempers and evil propensities being destroyed, and his heart constantly filled with pure love both to God and man; and, as love is the principle of obedience, he who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself; is incapable of doing wrong to either. “XIX. Unless a believer live and walk in the spirit of obedience, he will fall from the grace of God, and forfeit all his Christian privileges and rights; and, although he may be restored to the favor and image of his Maker from which he has fallen, yet it is possible that he may continue under the influence of his fall, and perish everlastingly. “XX. The whole period of human life is a state of probation, in every point of which a sinner may repent, and turn to God: and in every point of it, a believer may give way to sin, and fall from grace: and this possibility of rising or falling is essential to a state of trial or probation. “XXI. All the promises and threatenings of the Sacred Writings, as they regard man in reference to his being here and hereafter, are conditional; and it is on this ground alone that the Holy Scriptures can be consistently interpreted or rightly understood. “XXII. Man is a free agent, never being impelled by any necessitating influence, either to do good, or evil: but has the continual power to choose the life or the death that are set before him; on which ground he is an accountable being, and answerable for his own actions: and on this ground also he is alone capable of being rewarded or punished. “XXIII. The free will of man is a necessary constituent of his rational soul; without which he must be a mere machine, — either the sport of blind chance, or the mere patient of an irresistible necessity; and consequently, not accountable for any acts which were predetermined, and to which he was irresistibly compelled. “XXIV. Every human being has this freedom of will, with a sufficiency of light and power to direct its operations: but this powerful light is not inherent in any man’s nature, but is graciously bestowed by Him who is The true Light which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. “XXV. Jesus Christ has made by His one offering upon the Cross, a sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and atonement for the sins of the whole world; and His gracious Spirit strives with, and enlightens, all men; thus putting them into a salvable state: therefore, every human soul may be saved if it be not his own fault. “XXVI. Jesus Christ has instituted, and commanded to be perpetuated, in His Church, two sacraments only: —
1.Baptism, sprinkling, washing with, or immersion in, water, in the name of the Holy and Ever-blessed Trinity, as a sign of the cleansing or regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit, by which influence a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness, are produced: and
2.The Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper, as commemorating the sacrificial death of Christ. And he instituted the first to be once only administered to the same person, for the above purpose, and as a rite of initiation into the visible church: and the second, that by its frequent administration all believers may be kept in mind of the foundation of which their salvation is built, and receive grace to enable them to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things.
“XXVII. The soul is immaterial and immortal, and can subsist independently of the body. “XXVIII. There will be a general Resurrection of the dead; both of the just and the unjust; when the souls of both shall be reunited to their respective bodies; both of which will be immortal and live eternally. “XXIX. There will be a general Judgment; after which all shall be punished or rewarded according to the deeds done in the body; and the wicked shall be sent to hell, and the righteous taken to heaven. “XXX. These states of rewards and punishments shall have no end, for as much as the time of trial or probation shall then be for ever terminated; and the succeeding state must necessarily be fixed and unalterable. “XXXI. The origin of human salvation is found in the infinite philanthropy of God; and, on this principle, the unconditional reprobation of any soul is absolutely impossible. “XXXII. God has no secret will, in reference to man, which is contrary to his revealed will, — as this would show Him to be an insincere Being, — professing benevolence to all, when he secretly purposed that that benevolence should be extended only to a few; a doctrine which appears blasphemous as it respects God, — and subversive of all moral good as it regards man, and totally at variance with the infinite rectitude of the Divine Nature.”
It is thought necessary to give these Articles of his Creed in his own words; for although they contain nothing but what the Church of God has received from its very foundation; yet, the manner of proposing them is both original and precise, and well calculated to convey the sense of each.
If ever language should be clear; — if ever terms should be strictly and accurately defined, and used in the most fixed and absolute sense; — it is when they are used to express the articles of a religious creed: a subject in which the understanding and judgment are most intimately concerned, and in which man has his all at stake.
On the Tenth Article, relative to the Eternal Sonship of Christ, there has been some difference between him and some persons, who, in all other respects, held precisely the same doctrines. On this point, he has often been heard to say: — “Let my Argument on Luke i. 35, be proved false, which, if it could be, might be done in as small a compass as that of the Argument itself; then I am prepared to demonstrate, from the principles of the Refutation, that Arianism is the genuine doctrine of the Gospel relative to the Person of Jesus Christ. But as that Argument cannot be confuted, and my Argument in favor of the proper Divinity of Jesus Christ, in my Sermon on Salvation by Faith, cannot be overthrown; consequently, the doctrine of the proper and essential and underived Deity of Jesus Christ must stand, and that of the Eternal Sonship must be overwhelmed in its own error, darkness, and confusion.”
With the above Qualifications, and these Doctrines, Adam Clarke went out into the vineyard of his Lord, not to inspect the work of others, but to labor himself; and that the Great Head of the Church did in the most signal manner bless and prosper this labor, has been witnessed by many thousands among whom he has gone preaching the kingdom of God; witnessing powerfully to all, — Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
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