King James Bible Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Martin Luther's Writings Wesley's Sermons and Commentary Neurosemantics Audio / Video Bible Evolution Cruncher Creation Science Vincent New Testament Word Studies KJV Audio Bible Family videogames Christian author Godrules.NET Main Page Add to Favorites Godrules.NET Main Page

Bad Advertisement?

Are you a Christian?

Online Store:

  • Visit Our Store

    Volume I, PART II, SECTION V.,
    1792, Church and Politics in England


  • Adam Clarke's Unabridged Commentary on CD 75% Off -



    "In heaven!" calmly replied the traveler Bruce, when interrupted by a serving-man, standing near him, with the question, "Where is your master?" With infinitely more propriety, because uttered in deep experience of its sublime and ennobling truth, would the subject of this memoir have appropriated the above reply to a similar question; for, in the spirit of that gracious enunciation, "One is your Master -- even Christ," he pursued, with unremitting diligence, and untiring strength, the work assigned him in the moral harvest field, -- "the spirit of glory and of God resting upon him." By the appointment of Conference, he was a second year stationed at Manchester, where, as it has appeared, he was highly acceptable, and had been made greatly useful. It was here, indeed, that he assumed decided prominence as a public man. Under the well-directed energies of his admirable colleagues and himself, the state of the society underwent a decisive improvement, both in respect of numbers and pecuniary resources: an evidence of the fact in the latter case being, that the various collections rose to a height not attained in previous years.

    It was one of the maxims of Epicurus, that "If a man would be rich, he should strive, not so much to add to his wealth, as to detract from his desires:" a sentiment exquisitely embodied and carried out in that higher (because divine) philosophy of the great apostle, -- "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." The little history to which the reader is about to be introduced, will show by contrast with the great secret of happiness above referred to, how vain and impotent are all the waking dreams of an abstruse philosophy, even though they may be golden ones, when brought into competition with the substantial riches supplied to the seeker in the practical application of the injunction, -- "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." During his residence in this circuit, Mr. Clarke corresponded with Mr. Hand, of Dublin, a gentleman with whom he became acquainted in the course of his ministrations in that city. He had been nearly all his life a devotee to the science of alchemy, and dwelt with as much assurance in its visions as though they had not frequently applied the painful truth to his experience, uttered by the philosophic king, that "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." It might be, that the prophecy of a certain German doctor had stimulated Mr. Hand by the assurance he adventured, that in the nineteenth century, the transmutation of metals would be generally known and practiced, which discovery will, he tells its, "contribute more than anything else to prolong life, as culinary utensils will be made of gold and silver, and thus the poisonous oxides of copper, lead, and iron, which are daily swallowed in food, will be no longer taken;" but a more sober philosopher, [84] than Dr. Girtanner, has said, he did not consider the discovery of the art impossible, though he deemed it could not be brought to subserve any useful purpose. The ancients supposed, that the secret of alchemy was engraven by Hermes, before the flood, upon the table of emerald concealed under one of the pyramids; and many writers have fancied, that the secret which lay hidden under the various forms of Egyptian mythology, was that of the transmutation of metals; while others tell us, that the hieroglyphics which formerly covered the pyramids related to the same art. [85]

    We have more than enough of Rosicrucian mystery in our own time, evolved from the complex laboratory of art, and the maze of difficult terms and processes; but since the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, to which Gibbon refers the diffusion of this "vain science" over the globe, surely more strange arcana never baffled mental comprehension, than those which form the subject of correspondence between Mr. Clarke and Mr. Hand! The latter was an enthusiast upon the subject, and there is little reason to doubt, a sincere believer in the future development of its wonders and its benefits. From a letter written to a gentleman in Manchester, it will be seen how ardently he had entered into, and how deeply he was read upon the subject. After stating his anxiety to answer the letter of his correspondent, both on account of its own importance, and as being "written by a friend of his best beloved Adam Clarke," he proceeds to ask, "Are you worthy of the knowledge of so great a mystery as alchemy? Have you studied attentively this secret -concealed from the best of men? Have you seen the philosopher's chaos? Have you seen the wine of the wise? Have you separated the heterogeneous parts of the matter? Have you united the homogeneous? Have you seen the green lion? In short, have you seen the naked Diana? [86] Philalethes, in his 'Secrets Revealed, or Shut Palace of the King,' says, 'The main knot is, in finding the doors of Diana, which no eye but that of a true 'philosopher ever saw: this is the Gordian knot, and will be one forever, to a tyro [novice] in the art; read the discourse between Sudoxes and Pyrophilus, and there you will see what the philosopher's fire is, or what he properly calls the secret fire; without this, I solemnly declare, you can do nothing in this art.'" From this extract, the curious reader will form an idea of the mysterious and apparently absurd character of the alchemistic researches. Mr. Clarke frequently urged it upon this enthusiast in the science, to rest contented with what God had, in the order of his providence bestowed; telling him that if riches had been denied, the Supreme Being knew they would have been prejudicial to his happiness, and that if he were satisfied with what he had, more might be bestowed; that there could be no prosperity without the Divine blessing, and that, what in ignorance he might deem a good, would if given, prove a curse to the possessor; he warned him against all hastiness of temper, to which indeed he was prone, attributable no doubt to reiterated disappointment, occasioned by the processes of the laboratory; he begged him to be diligent in his attendance at the house of God, and at the class-meeting; to neglect no Divine ordinance, and to put his trust wholly in the unerring wisdom of Him, who, upon the submission of the will and the affections, would grant all needful providential supplies. That such exhortations had some effect upon Mr. Hand, and that though devoted to the prosecution of his favorite study, he would recognize in it, as in other matters, the presence of the Supreme Being, may be fairly inferred from the latter part of the letter from which an extract has been already made: "It has pleased God," he proceeds, "recently to remove from me my dear wife: the care, therefore, of my family, consumes much of my time; I want money to proceed in my researches, for I am confident under God, I could complete the work in one year; however, I shall with patience await the good time of God, and when it is his will to open a door that will enable me to proceed. I doubt not his blessing upon my endeavors; the knowledge I have acquired has been by long practice, much study, and great labor: theory only deludes -- practice sets right; if you are in the practice, pray that the most high God may assist you! pray too, that his Holy Spirit may make you fit not only to receive this wisdom, but to be made partaker of that glory which is in Christ Jesus; there and there only shall we find the true 'philosopher's stone:' in that estate, the Lord grant I may meet you in smoke, fire, and light!"

    This latter extract, from undoubtedly a very singular letter, develops by far the most interesting portion of the mental history of this gentleman, though his ability, with an added supply of means, to complete the work of transmutation in twelve months, may reasonably be doubted, and might remind the reader of a dusty philosopher mentioned by D'Israeli, who prevailed upon a wealthy lady to become his patroness, -- assuring her that a vast quantity of lead could be turned into gold. Accordingly, a laboratory was built, Vulcanian fires blazed at its several corners, unintelligible jargon announced his progresses, and the deluded gentlewoman seemed to behold golden streams meandering among the recesses of this magic mine. Time passed on: still the mighty secret was behind the veil, whose dark fringes slightly raised, were illuminated only by the fires blazing behind. Somewhat disconcerted by the tardiness of the process, the lady ventured to hint some doubts to the philosopher, -- he owned himself puzzled, but not defeated; -- and resolved upon resorting to "the forlorn hope," in all such cases. The crisis was now approaching; -- the philosopher was hermetically sealed in his laboratory; -- the patroness was enjoying her siesta: a terrible shriek, followed by a report as loud as that of a cannon, burst upon her astonished ear; -she flew forthwith to the scene of this unwonted commotion; -- the poor alchemist was in a state of stupefied horror: two of the largest stills had burst; and the upper end of the scene of operations was in flames!

    Poor Hand was more fortunate, simply because he was less presumptuous, and he met with a better lot finally, because he could say, -- "I fear God." He died somewhat suddenly, after having passed the noon-tide and summer of his life, in an elevated exposition of the fable of "the dog and the shadow;" but he was a man of taste and genius, -- of intelligent mind, and gentlemanly bearing; -- a pleasant companion, and a faithful friend; -- a man in whose heart there was "some good thing towards the Lord his God," and who would have foregone the mystic study of his life altogether, rather than have obtained its desired results by the employment of equivocal means: over the delusion which hurt none but himself, let the veil of charity fall! There have been other dreamers than he, but none who have left behind a more harmless track, or a more inoffensive name; the infatuation, if amounting in extravagance to a species of monomania, was a mere point in his character: on all other subjects he was "in his right mind:" and to this abstraction, therefore, we may well afford pity, even though not disposed to extend sympathy!

    The sentiments, passions, and opinions, which, as a mighty moral earthquake, convulsed the bosom of society, and shook France to her very center, though overthrowing the abuses of the old government, were still, in the dreadful excesses to which they led, an outrage upon humanity. They made their way, in a modified form, throughout the public mind of England: the manufacturing towns drank deeply of the spirit of disaffection, caused by the commercial distress consequent on the great national convulsions; and Manchester, having its full share of wretchedness, was in a most deplorable state. Political divisions and disagreements ran high, even to the dissevering of members of the same family, and the disruption of long-tried friendships; thousands of persons were out of employ, and had enlisted merely to save life:-- desolation and distress everywhere had way, and despairing anticipations "helped forward the affliction."

    Influenced by the deep feeling of sympathy with which Mr. Clarke looked upon this dismaying picture, he writes to a friend; "Many of the principal houses in this place have stopped; the recruiting parties have enlisted upon an average, a thousand a week: a scene in the marketplace the other day, was almost enough to have split the nether millstone: some scores of men were crowding around a recruiting officer, imploring him with eager supplications and famishing countenances to enlist them; and this last of favors could be granted to only about fifty of the miserable group! It almost breaks my heart to behold such spectacles as the streets exhibit, and to listen to the melancholy tales poured into my ear: the principle language is, -- reform in parliament; -- diminution of taxes; -- no king; -- the majesty of the people; with all their deductions and inferences; and from the press teem the like sentiments, delivered with unparalleled boldness. I look abroad and think that the kingdom of heaven is at hand: 'Gird on Thy sword, O, Thou most mighty.' These are some of the consequences of that 'just and equitable war,' into which our ministry have plunged us:-

    'At least distempered discontented thoughts, Whence rise vain hopes, vain arms, inordinate desires."

    It was Mr. Clarke's decided conviction, in reference to this war, that had not the French been interfered with, had they been permitted to settle their own government, they would have made a system which would have been the glory of the whole earth. Speaking of the political state of our own country, at that time, he remarks; "I believe the basis of our government to be the very best in the world; but I am not ignorant of the corruptions which have crept into it, and I believe a reform in parliament essential to its salvation." And he lived to know that he had the sense of the nation on his side.

    A trait in the ministerial character of Mr. Clarke, well worthy imitation, was his almost jealous feeling of any interference in what he deemed to be his own especial work. A person once wishing to relieve him of part of the weight of the service, by offering up the introductory prayer -" Oh no," he replied, "if I have to fell the tree, I must whet my own axe;" an expression employed afterwards, and with equal propriety, by the Rev. Richard Watson. Mr. Clarke would admit of no proxy upon these occasions, being desirous of avoiding all possibility of interruption to the fine flow of devotional feeling, which he considered to be an indispensable preparative to the spirit of preaching; thus, by his own example, maintained with increasing force to the close of his days, he inculcated the necessity of unwearied perseverance in the prosecution of ministerial duties, as well as in every other good work. It was on the same principle also, that he advocated the acquisition of a variety of information, and would seize the slightest circumstance from which to educe instruction.

    Walking one day with a gentleman, they passed a stable door, the fastening of which attracted his attention; and stopping to examine it, he found it to be one of antique date and curious workmanship, and remarked to his friend, "We ought to learn something every day; Methodist preachers should know everything, and be capable of assisting themselves in every way, because of the peculiar situations in which they are frequently placed: for my own part, I can build a haystack, or a chimney-piece; -- mend my own shoes; -- put sleeves into my coat; -- repair a frying-pan; -- put bars to a gridiron; -- and turn a lathe. A physician once advised, on account of my health, that I should purchase one, and work at it: I did so, and found benefit from the exercise, and really became tolerably expert in the art of manufacturing little boxes, and other articles of use and amusement for my children." Thus Mr. Clarke never thought of confining his sources of information to

    "The sayings of the wise, In ancient and in modern books enrolled,"

    but made the world, as far as he could search into it, his lesson, and his reference-book.

    It was during this year, that a controversy arose in Manchester, somewhat similar to the one, on the introduction of Divine worship into the chapels during church-hours, and to which reference has been made. The point at issue now, was, whether the design of Mr. Wesley, in recommending Christian brotherhood with the established church, would not be frustrated by having the sacrament of the Lord's supper administered in the Methodist chapels? or whether the increasing numbers and increasing growth of their prominence and usefulness as a church, ("a body of faithful men,") would not render the adoption of the measure advisable if not necessary. The result of this important question is well known, as witnessed in the distinct communion at present universally enjoyed by the Wesleyan body; though there are those still, who hold, that the injunction of their founder, "always to receive the sacrament at church," was not lightly to be infringed upon, and that its breach could only be sanctioned by the arbitrary position of circumstances. [87] Mr. Benson opposed the measure, with all the strength of his mighty intellect.

    [88] Once, while preaching in Oldham-Street chapel, a somewhat ludicrous interruption was created, which may be taken as a characteristic of the rudeness, approaching to irreverence, which distinguished some of the warm spirits in those days. Mr. Benson was intimating the danger of innovation, as conducive to a weakening of the bond of union; and while increasingly impressed with the importance of the subject upon which he was dilating, his voice rose to what Mr. Clarke playfully denominated "the master scream," calling out in an impassioned manner, in reference to the union of the Methodist body, -- "It is going -- it is going;" a rough Yorkshireman, James Selby by name, resting on his staff, and presenting altogether a grotesque figure, shouted out from the midst of the audience, "stick fast tull it then." The gravity of the congregation was put to the rout; an irrepressible smile arose upon every countenance, and even the learned preacher could not resist the universal contagion.

    It was perhaps the occasional occurrence of similar circumstances, which operated to bring upon the name of Methodist, the opprobrium which has been so unworthily attached to it, and which is now happily passing away under the influence of a better spirit; the respect entertained by all parties in these more sober times, for this large and important section of the universal church, is in beautiful and striking contrast with the contempt affected by a self-important individual, who in passing Oldham-Street chapel, during the period of which we are speaking, thought proper to express his assumed disgust in the following way. The people were thronging out after divine service; a lady with whom he was walking, demanded in a tone of surprise what that crowd meant? "Oh," said the pseudo-gentleman, pulling her hastily away, apparently fearful of contact with some strange pollution, "it is only a canting Methodist house, disembogueing [pouring forth] its filth; let us get away, or someone may think we have been there."

    The subject of these pages felt an especial interest in Oldham-Street chapel, seeming to respect and have affection for the place itself. "God is much used to that place," he once observed to a friend, "He seems to come familiarly to it." "Yes," replied the friend, "but God was in Birchen-Lane also;" (alluding to the temporary place where service was held before the erection of the chapel.) "Yes," subjoined Mr. Clarke, "but that was not the spot where God seemed to say, 'Here will I make my rest;' it was only the tabernacle in the wilderness, to be worshipped in, till the temple should be built."

    During the existence of the commercial distress already referred to, the Conference was held in Manchester. It was, at that time, the custom among the senior preachers, to wear powdered wigs. In the excited state of the public mind, it needed less manifestation of useless expenditure than the said adornment, to irritate and inflame a starving populace, who, with the acute perception of causes for which they are ever remarkable, affirmed it was those wigs which were eating up the bread of the people, and vowed vengeance upon their wearers, -- cannibals as they were, for thus living upon their fellow-men. To one of these gentlemen, by name Peard Dickinson, remarkable for the super-abundance of wig-powder, Mr. Clarke, in connection with a friend, addressed, in a serio-comic tone, the following letter:-

    "Sir, -- The people want food: they consider you, by wearing powder, to be an unnecessary consumer, and call you and your party cannibals, and vow vengeance; we take the liberty to caution you, as you are narrowly watched, and sign ourselves -- Provident, and Little-faith."

    A day or two after the delivery of this ominous note, Mr. Clarke perceived, while sitting at the dinner-table, a tall person with hasty step, marching up the street, bag in hand; it was the Rev. Peard Dickinson, who having taken alarm at the contents of the letter, was actually wending his way to the coach-office, where, mounting the earliest conveyance, he was soon beyond the reach of threatened vengeance. At the same Conference, Bradburn was seen to take off his wig upon some sudden popular out-break, and shake the powder from it until none remained.

    It was one of the peculiarities of Mr. Clarke, in performing the duty of what is usually termed "saying grace," not to do it in the language of petition as asking a blessing, but in the strain of general thanksgiving, alleging as his reason, that a mistaken idea originated and continued the practice. "The food," he observed, "is already blessed, and will bless and nourish us; all the graces which the Bible demands and enjoins to be exercised for temporal benefits, may be summed up in the term gratitude: hence, I thank God before, as well as after the meal." This view of the subject was prominently brought before his mind by the absurd request of a man who, "wiser than the elders," once said to him, on joining the dinner-table, -- "Uncurse this food for us Mr. Clarke," imagining, in the sufficiency of his ignorance, that it was under the curse of Him whose every creature is good, and thankfully to be received. "That is a strange hymn of Charles Wesley's," Mr. Clarke observed, (in continuation of the above subject,) where he says, -

    'Enslaved to sense, to pleasure prone; We trembling taste our food;'

    he must surely just then, have fallen out with God, with his works, and with man, to have written thus."

    It was during the latter period of his residence in Manchester, that, after repeated solicitation, he was induced by his friend Dr. Easton, to sit for his portrait, to a Mr. S., just then rising into note. This was the first likeness in oils which had been attempted. Through some cause now hidden from view, the bright morn of the young artist became clouded; -- was succeeded by a gloomy mid-day, and a blackness of darkness in its even-tide; he was reduced to the inglorious occupation of a common scene painter, and finally died in circumstances of great destitution and wretchedness.

    So highly did the good people of Manchester appreciate the value of Mr. Clarke's labors among them, and so prominently did their results stand out in the Methodist body, that he was invited, with great cordiality, by the influential members of the society, to remain with them a third year; to this kind and grateful request, he replied with characteristic pleasantry, "Ah, I fear some of the friends have drank into the Hutchinsonian theory, which speaks of disposers and shifters; now the disposers among you might be desirous to appoint, while the shifters would be equally willing to remove, their obedient servant, Adam Clarke." The decision of Conference, however, settled the matter, by determining the exercise of his future labors for a period, to Liverpool, whither we invite the reader, if he be not weary, to follow; promising him some instruction and amusement even in a circuit, which we find upon looking through our memoranda, to be rather barren of stirring events and important information.

    The subjoined inscriptions were written, "with the point of a diamond" upon his study window in Dale-Street; they will go, in the mind of the thoughtful peruser of Mr. Clarke's intellectual and moral progress, still further to develop some points of character, and will therefore prove interesting addenda to this account of his sojourn in Manchester.

    "Good Men Need Not Marble: I Dare Trust Glass With The Memory Of John Wesley, AM., Late Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

    Who, with Indefatigable Zeal And Perseverance, Traveled Through These Kingdoms, Preaching Jesus, For More Than Half A Century.

    By His Unparalleled Labors and Writings He Lived and Spread Scriptural Christianity Wherever He Went, For God Was With Him.

    But Having Finished His Work, By Keeping, Preaching, and Defending the Faith, He Ceased to Live Among Mortals, March 2nd, MDCCXCI (1791) In The Eighty-Eighth Year of His Age.

    As a Small Token of Continued Filial Respect, This Inscription Is Humbly Dedicated to the Memory of the Above, By His Affectionate Son in the Gospel, Adam Clarke."

    The house in which Mr. Clarke resided when he wrote the above, adjoins Oldham-Street chapel; and the "window" belongs to one of the upper rooms, still used as a study. Persons of minute observation will find a small crack in one of the corners of the pane, and as though Mr. Clarke had anticipated an objection against the durability of his "glass" monument, he intimates within the crack, by the point of the diamond, that the flaw was there before the epitaph was cut. The other inscriptions, cut with equal care, are as follows [in Greek, but translated into English in the printed text -- DVM]: "I dwell with my own information: if thou acknowledge me, the fire shall serve (or be subject to) thee." -- Clement Alex. Pæd. lib. 3. c. 12.

    "Not to err, is the property of God; and to act right in all things, or to set all things right."

    "Being baptized, we are enlightened; being enlightened, we are adopted; being adopted, we are made perfect." -- Clement Alex. Pædag. lib. 1. c. 6.

    On the wall of an inn in Sweden, was written the following inscription: "You will find at Trollhatte, excellent bread, meat, and wine, provided you take them with you." It was, comparatively speaking, of little consequence to Mr. Clarke, where the scene of his labors for the time being lay. The calm temper of mind in which he met all the events of life, and the judgment with which he provided against circumstances of inconvenience, prevented all feeling of dissatisfaction; and the native cheerfulness of his spirit, united to the most unshaken confidence in the moral government of God, provided him (to quote the advertisement we have appropriated in a figure) with "excellent bread, meat, and wine," in whatsoever quarter he was sent, for the fulfillment of his high and important calling in the ministration of the gospel of the grace of God!

    The Conference (which he attended) was this year held at Leeds; he expressed himself much pleased and profited by the spirit which had characterized the conduct and proceedings of his brethren, in their grand annual meeting.

    "Since we were a people," he remarked, "we never had such a Conference: heaven and earth have been united, harmony and unity alone have prevailed. Our business has met with uncommon dispatch: the particulars relative to the sacramental question have been adjusted in the most excellent way that I believe could have been devised in order to meet the wishes of both parties."

    The success which resulted from Mr. Clarke's ministerial devotedness will be seen from the following account, contained in a letter written from Liverpool to his intelligent friend, Miss E. Cooke, dated Sept. 13th, 1793.

    "Upon the commencement of my preaching here, the Lord began to work; crowds attended. Such times of refreshing from His presence, I never saw: should I die tomorrow, I shall praise God to all eternity that I lived to the present time. The labor is severe; nine or ten times a week we have to preach, but God carries on his own work, and this is enough. My soul lies at his feet. He has graciously renewed and enlarged my commission. All is happiness and prosperity. We have a most blessed work; numbers are added, and multitudes built up on our most holy faith. Such a year as this I never knew: all ranks and conditions come to hear us; -- the presence of God is with us; -his glory dwells in our land, and the shout of a king is in our camp. Mr. M. is at present here; he is an extraordinary young man, and has an uncommon depth of understanding, and the most solid piety. God has much honored me, in making me the instrument of his introduction to the ministry.

    Thus, in concert with the venerable Pawson, his superintendent and colleague, (of whom he ever spake in the terms in which a son would speak of a tender and affectionate father,) Mr. Clarke labored with ability and signal success in his new scene; nor was his usefulness restricted to his own people; -- it extended to persons whose minds there was much less probability of biasing in favor of religious truth. It happened at this period, that Deism and Socinianism were rife in Liverpool: three gentlemen of the former class came one Sunday to the chapel for the purpose of hearing the strong arguments adduced in vindication of the doctrine of the atonement by Christ, and the pardon of transgression through belief in the same, which they had been informed were persuasively advanced by Mr. Clarke. The minister, as usual, placed prominently before his audience, the plan of salvation -- set forth the great sacrifice, through faith in which, man was brought into a state of reconciliation with God; and as he reasoned upon this gospel scheme -upon the stability of its foundation in Christ; upon the preciousness of its promises, and the exceeding love of Him whom it described to have agonized, and bled, and died, for the offenses of a lost world, the three men gave the most earnest heed -- grew stricken at the history -- felt the demand it made upon their intelligent belief -- yielded to conviction -- became converts to the faith they had till this moment derided, and suppliants at the throne of mercy! One of them, with his wife, a woman of good understanding and elegant person, became consistent members of the Methodist society; and so, by the foolishness of preaching, the wisdom of the world was baffled -sinners saved, and stars of eternal glory added to the ever brightening diadem of Immanuel!

    Those who knew Liverpool nearly half a century ago, will recollect how different a place it then was, to the noble and splendid appearance it now exhibits. What is at present the old part of the town, will furnish a tolerable idea of the best part of it at the time of which we are speaking; but even then, building was carried on upon a pretty extensive scale, and large portions of waste land, where it was clay soil, were appropriated to brick-making. In the neighborhood of Pitt-Street, in which was Mr. Clarke's residence, a considerable manufacture of the above article [bricks] created a constant nuisance; the house was also in a confined situation, and surrounded by that description of small habitations, which, from want of cleanliness in their inmates, create a perpetual annoyance; his own description is as follows;-

    "The house is small; the street in which it stands, miserable; -- the neighborhood wretchedly poor, and miserably wicked; -- the rest I leave."

    A gentleman desirous of paying his respects, demanded; "Pray where do you reside, Sir?" "Neither in hell nor purgatory, yet in a place of torment," was the extraordinary reply. "Well, but where is it?" was the reiterated question. "You must go down Dale-Street, then along East-Street, and when you are up to the middle in clay and mud, call out lustily for Adam Clarke." Referring once to the confined yard adjoining the house, he said, "A poor shaving happened to be carried by a high wind into our yard, and there it was kept prisoner nearly six weeks; unable to effect its escape I watched that shaving from day to day; sometimes it would rise a little, and move from one spot to another by favor of an eddy of the air: on one occasion, as by a strong and desperate effort, it rose about a yard, but alas, dropped again; at length, I set the poor captive at liberty." Whether or not, as the Plummæ summa nantes in aqua of Virgil, gave warning when storms were coming on, so the presence and movement of this shaving indicated the approach of sickness, languor, and gloom, the imaginative reader shall decide; certain however it was, that the good people of Liverpool would no longer bear to see the injurious effects of the situation of this house, upon the wasting health and failing strength of their beloved minister, and accordingly, having in vain urged it upon him to make a formal complaint to the trustees, they took the occasion of an absence from home, to bring the matter to an issue, by summarily removing his household to a fine healthy situation, in one of the best parts of Liverpool. This demonstration of affection was ever regarded by him, with emotions of the liveliest gratitude. [89]

    About this time Mr. Clarke narrowly escaped a violent death. Roman Catholicism, (which would fain consecrate deeds of blood, by an assumed Divine right to persecute and slay all heretics,) was very popular in Liverpool among, the laboring classes of society, made up by constant influxes of Irish peasantry. The mere fact of religious difference, was sufficient to stir up some of these worthies to the most brutal outrage, as in the instance now to be recorded.

    He had been preaching at a village in the neighborhood of Liverpool, and upon returning, received a dangerous blow on the head from a stone, which some miscreant [villain], in concealment, had thrown at him. For some time the most serious consequences were apprehended from this affair. The stone was thrown at him by a member of the Infallible Church, who was forthwith seized and carried before a magistrate, but Mr. Clarke refused to prosecute, esteeming it more consistent with the character of a Christian minister to forgive, than to enforce punishment. This attack was instigated merely by ruthless bigotry, which can, under given circumstances, make any action meritorious, although it be stained with blood; there was not, in the present instance, a shadow of reason for this murderous act, as no allusion had been made throughout the sermon which might have been adduced as a pretext for the violence.

    "The day of small and feeble things" in Methodism was fast passing away, and it was beginning to assume a form of strength and compactness, which demanded attention, and awakened interest; and though in many places it was "a sect spoken against," yet its admirable adaptation to the circumstances and condition of the multitude, was acknowledged; as the results of its operation were undeniably prominent, especially among that portion of the community, who, utterly incapable of comprehending the well-digested and elaborate sermons read in the pulpits of the Anglican church, were still "as sheep going astray," or "looking up, and not fed." There are thousands of minds, which can be reached only by homely, and even rude addresses, who must be made to smile, before they can be made to weep; and whose attention can be gained only by illustrations, from which an educated taste would recoil with disgust and horror. To such, the familiar and often rough style of the early Methodist preacher, was intelligible and tangible. The public mind took cognizance of it, and the results were strikingly displayed in the conversion of thousands, and the consequent renovation of the whole moral scene. "Ever since the day of Pentecost, God has permitted his religion variously to embody itself," and adapts the instruments which accomplish his manifold ends; each one entering into the welfare, and eternal salvation of all who believe.

    The original plan of annual stations was found to be inconvenient and expensive; but it was one of the natural results of that timidity which is attendant upon the infancy of institutions, as well as of arts, it being perhaps supposed in the early age of Methodism, that the taste of the people was more fastidious than a riper experience proved it to be. It must now be understood, that an invitation from a society to their preacher to remain a second year, was more a matter of courteous form, than of necessity; and it need scarcely be added, that the subject of this memoir was invited to continue in Liverpool; -- he acceded to the request, and steadily pursuing the same course of diligent usefulness, -- "walking by the same rule, and minding the same thing," was made the instrument of increasing and permanent good. In the course of this year, he established a class, consisting of persons whom he designated as "outward-court-worshippers," by which he meant, persons who were not united to the church, and yet were not fit for the world; several met together under this denomination, and great good was effected by it. The first night of its assembling, he put down the sum usually contributed by the members of this brotherhood, exclaiming with evident satisfaction and pleasure upon doing so, -" There, thank God, I am once more in class!"

    It was his custom, while reading the lessons in his public ministrations, to comment upon them at some length; a plan which cannot be too much approved, as introducing prominently to notice, the Word of God, by more generally enforcing its precepts, and explaining its doctrines. Some persons, "understanding neither what they said, nor whereof they affirmed," gave him a quiet hint upon the length to which the service was protracted by this plan; intimating that it might perhaps he advisable when a lengthy exposition [90] of the lessons had been given, that the sermon should be curtailed; he made no reply, but evidently pondered the thing in his heart, for when it was next his turn to dispense the Word to these Pitt-Street censors, (having made his exposition of the lessons,) he opened, in his peculiarly lucid and interesting style, the subject of his sermon, enriched "with thoughts that wander through eternity;" -- just at the moment that his hearers were wound up to the pitch of a breathless attention -- "all eye -- all ear," he suddenly closed the Bible, and striking his hand upon its covers, exclaimed, in a tone of emphatic meaning, -- "I pray God to bless short sermons, and to those especially who wish a man to preach by the hour, rather than by the Holy Ghost!" -- then sat down, and blank disappointment was visible on every countenance.

    We simply furnish the anecdote. To some, it might seem to savor of the courageous, though sarcastic spirit of Oliver Maillard: but it was decisive as a demonstration of the absurdity and unprofitableness of what is usually meant by short sermons. For though we by no means contend for a revival in our pulpits, of the long-winded harangues of the Cameronian divines, who permitted the hour-glass to be turned two or three times in the course of the service; or, for the introduction of the equally lengthy, and more dry and absurd disquisitions of the quod-libetarians, with those of Aquinas at their head; yet it is frequently necessary for the full and efficient exposition of Scripture, that more time should be taken, than the intensely comfortable ease of many would be disposed to allow. It has been urged, that long sermons, needing much preparation, prevent the becoming discharge of other ministerial duties.

    How much success would result from attempting a defense of some preachers upon this point, it is not the present design to essay against Mr. Clarke, however, the objection does not lie: he was peculiarly adapted for, and zealously devoted to, this department of pastoral duty. The progress of the history to the present moment has evidenced, how admirably fitted; alike by the tender sympathies of his nature, and the deep and varied experiences of his own religious course, he was, for this "work of patience, and labor of love;" and the additional circumstance of his being conversant with the science of medicine, in its elementary parts, adapted him, in every sense, for the able performance of this difficult and delicate branch of ministerial duty.

    It was during this period, that the societies became agitated by the famous Kilhamite division, upon which, as it is so generally known in the religious world, we shall not detain the attention of the readers by any other notice than the date of its occurrence. Mr. Clarke was far from being the protagonist in the different maneuvers of that important era, yet his whole energies were concentrated for the benefit of the church; and albeit, he was not a sign, (as were some of the great men of the Connection,) around which the preachers rallied; yet he was an important helper in seasons of difficulty and danger. Through the united talents, zeal, and consecrated service of Mr. Clarke, and his venerable colleague, the Methodist societies in the town of Liverpool, were, in the course of these two years, doubled.

    That in the space of two years, the numbers of a Christian society should be doubled, is an undeniable evidence of the diligence, fidelity, and zeal of the men who have labored in the word and doctrine, among the people composing any given section of the church of Christ, and it is most gratifying to find such a testimony of the success which followed upon these "labors more abundant," in the case of Mr. Clarke, and his venerable colleague, [91] than had been before witnessed in the Methodist Society in Liverpool.

    It appears, that in several signal instances, that word of our Lord was verified; -- "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." The banner of the cross, unfurled by these colleagues in affection, as well as in ministerial duties, had emblazoned upon it, -- "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world;" and in the spirit of this invitatory command, "the ambassadors of Christ crucified," called upon all men everywhere "to repent, and believe the gospel." The test of truth, is evidence; and evidence, strong and irresistible, followed upon the declaration of the truth.

    But before we pass onward, with the subject of these pages, to his next circuit, appropriate matter for reflection, for a few moments, presents itself to the mind. The character under review, we may not simply look upon, and hurriedly pass by; for it is, in intellectual formation, onward progress, and decisive and impressive action, -- a study; a subject to be contemplated in the results of certain modes of thinking and to be traced in its curious operations, alike upon the broad scale of progression to the final result, and in the mores minute, and delicate, and intricate workings which terminated in the same grand and infinitely important object.

    The union of spirit which subsisted between Mr. Clarke and Mr. Pawson, was purely Christian. There was little in it of a literary character. Mr. Pawson published an edition of the life of Alexander Pedan, which was not exactly to the taste of Mr. Clarke. Viewed merely as a speculation, it was not altogether unprofitable. "But," said Mr. Clarke, -- though far from believing gain to be the object of his respected friend, "I should rather prefer making money in some other way. I have much less faith in the veracity of the book than Mr. Pawson: indeed, I strongly doubt the truth of many of the statements: and besides, there is no faith working by love in the man, but, on the contrary, working by malice: there is no apparent concern for human salvation, but prayers and prophecies for judgments. This was too much the case with some of the other Scotch reformers, who were more remarkable for their bitterness than their charity."

    Adverting to another subject in connection with Mr. Pawson, who had recorded various facts illustrative of providence and grace, he remarked, that he himself had sometimes resolved on penning all the Methodistical anecdotes he possessed, just as they arose in the mind, without any reference to order, but simply to preserve them. "Dr. Whitehead," said he, deviating a little from the subject, "frequently refers to family papers, in the early part of his Life of Mr. Wesley. I spake, and also wrote, to Miss Sarah Wesley respecting these papers. Though willing to impart the necessary information, she stated that she had no knowledge of such papers, and that she had not even heard of them from anyone of the family.

    Such references," continued he, "must be considered apocryphal, till either the originals are produced, or some satisfactory account can be given of them. When Dr. Whitehead had made what use he judged proper of the papers, he gave them to Mr. Mortimer, one of the trustees. There was great dissension at the time; Mr. Mortimer retained what he thought fit, and gave the remainder to Mr. Pawson, who in his turn, presented Mr. Moor with what he deemed most valuable, and made a general conflagration of the greater part of the rest, save what was torn up as waste paper. Being in London at the time, I went into the yard at City Road, when the fire was at its height; and among other things, saw hundreds of Miss Bolton's letters committed to the flames, many of which would have thrown light upon her character, for she was an excellent sensible woman."

    Being asked why he did not endeavor to prevent it, he replied, "I was young, and had but little power, in those days." It may be remarked, however, that he rescued a few of the MSS. from destruction; and these, he added, "greatly aided me in writing 'The Wesley Family,' though some of them were greatly mutilated." This was a subject which cost him much pain, and he could not refrain from some internal upbraidings as to the conduct of his otherwise excellent friend. He rejoiced, however, over the spoils he possessed, and among other treasures, about one hundred letters from Mr. Wesley to Miss Bolton.

    The passion which the human mind has for hastening to general conclusions, makes it a difficult task to the biographer to arrest the attention of the reader, and to fix him upon the consideration of those minutiæ which are yet a part of the history of his subject, and go necessarily to the completion of his character; for each act of a reflective mind, is the consequence of a series of reasonings going on within itself, and is a representative of the ultimate fulfillment of the great whole. In the spirit of the axiom, that "speculative truth can never be alien from practical wisdom," Mr. Clarke sought to "intermeddle with all knowledge," and to profit by all the varieties of condition inseparable from this state of existence deeming it indispensably necessary, that truth, physical, philosophical, and theological, should be studied and absorbed by him, because the sublime object of his own intellectual movements was, the moral and spiritual progression of the people to evangelical holiness; and in reference to the oneness of the motive, the energetic declaration of the great apostle might, with the utmost fitness, be appropriated by him; -- "This one thing I do;" and thus the sunlights of philosophy, and heaven's revelation, permeated the entire substance of his mind; entering all its immeasurable, and ever-deepening capacities; illuminating, wherever they penetrated; producing energy, and buoyancy, and grandeur; because their essence was found in the primal source of influence, -- the supreme Father mind! -- and having thus furnished himself, he acted upon the great principle of a kindred intellect, concerning whom it is recorded, -- "He communicated to all, ungrudgingly, of his own."

    Bacon says, "some knowledges, like the stars, are so high, that they give no light." This objection could never be made to the description of information with which Mr. Clarke supplied his mind; his knowledge was laid under perpetual contribution to the efficient discharge of duty in the ministrations, alike of the pulpit, and the sick chamber; for its varieties were adapted to all circumstances, and its resources were proved to be unfailing; he put to everlasting shame the impudent monastic axiom, that "ignorance is the parent of religion," by pressing into the service of truth, the ever accumulating stores of knowledge, culled from ancient and modern sources, proving the value of that declarative opinion of Milton, that, "Books are not dead things, but do contain a potency of life to be in them, as active as that one was, whose progeny they are." Nay, he pursues, in his own nervous style; "they do preserve as in a vial, the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them."

    It is a remark of Warburton, that of all literary exercitations, there are none of so much importance, or of so immediate concern to ourselves, as those which let us into the knowledge of our own nature; for these alone improve the heart and form the mind to wisdom. Mr. Clarke, thoroughly imbued by such studies, stood forth in the midst of his people with a nobleness and strength, to which the contemplation of philosophic and divine light had mainly contributed, and his teachings were in harmonious and striking correspondence with his acquirements, and their ennobling and spirit-stirring influence was felt, wherever his voice was raised in the exercise of his holy office on behalf of his Lord and Master.

    * * * * * * *


    God Rules.NET
    Search 80+ volumes of books at one time. Nave's Topical Bible Search Engine. Easton's Bible Dictionary Search Engine. Systematic Theology Search Engine.