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    The great use of biography is to place before our eyes examples worthy of imitation. Sometimes distinguished men write their own history; but the history of such men is usually written by others. In either case, -- in the former, through intentional concealment; in the latter, through unavoidable ignorance, -- it seldom happens that the narrative includes a sufficient notice of their early life. Thus, while we are informed that they acquired distinction and that they deserved it, it does not appear to us by what steps they attained to their just reputation. The result is, that we are inspired with wonder instead of emulation. "By themselves or contemporaries," says one who is writing on this very subject, "their public transactions have been in general amply recorded, with the apparent motives which led them to their particular lines of action, and the objects they aimed at by thus acting; but how they became capable of acting such parts, how their minds acquired that impulse which gave them this direction, what part an especial Providence, parental influence, accident, singular occurrence, and education, had in forming the man, producing those habits which constituted his manners, and prepared him for his future lot in life, we are rarely told. Hence the main benefit of biography is lost: emulation, leading to imitation, has no scope. We cannot follow the man, because we do not see his previous footsteps. To us he is inimitable [inimitable adj. impossible to imitate. -- Oxford Dict.], because he is enrobed with all his distinguishing perfections and eminence before we are introduced to his acquaintance." The defect which the illustrious subject of the following memoir has here so well described, happily does not exist with respect to him. We shall be able to trace him from the first dawnings of his intellect to the period when it attained the rank, and exerted the influence, of a master-mind; and, in doing this, we shall perceive how truly he has said, that "those who have reached the highest degrees of elevation beyond those who were born in the same circumstances and line of life, were not indebted so much to anything extraordinary in themselves, as to a well-timed and sedulous [sedulous adj. 1 persevering, diligent, assiduous. 2 (of an action etc.) deliberately and consciously continued; painstaking. -- Oxford Dict.] use of their own powers, and such advantages as their circumstances afforded; and that what occur to others as mere accidents, were by them seized and pressed into their own service, and showed them the necessity of attentive observation, that neither occurrence nor moment should pass by unnoticed or unimproved." It will appear, in fact, that, by mere dint of patient industry and an exact economy of time, attended by the Divine blessing, he rose to be the first biblical scholar of his own, if not of any age. Thus he will be exhibited as an example of imitable greatness, and that principally in three respects: for the character of his knowledge enhanced the glory of its extent, and his piety shed a luster on his learning.

    Adam Clarke [1] was born in an obscure village called Moybeg, in the county of Londonderry. He himself could never ascertain either the day or the month, or even the year, of his birth. "It was," he says, "either 1760 or 1762, most probably the former." [2] We owe this wide uncertainty to the neglect of the clergyman of the parish, during whose incumbency no register was kept. "This," says a clerical critic, "is a very characteristic, but unhappily not rare, specimen of the attention formerly paid [in plain English, disgraceful neglect] in many country parishes to those parochial documents which affect the property and the ancestry of every family in the kingdom. Even to this moment the system is most inefficient; and often the details are incorrect and slovenly, particularly for the want of due care in seeing that correct duplicate copies are provided, and made available in case of any accident happening to the parish record." It is, therefore, high time that the proposition of a general registry, on improved principles, were adopted. Dr. Clarke speaks with much complacency of the purity of his descent: his ancestors "came from a pure and ancient stock; they had never been in bondage to any man, had never been legally disgraced, and never forfeited their character." They went over to Ireland in the seventeenth century, and settled in the county of Antrim, where they had considerable estates, and formed honorable matrimonial connections. As those estates had been irrecoverably lost to the family before Adam's birth, the non-existence of a register of his birth was never productive of inconvenience. William Clarke, the great-great-grandfather of Adam Clarke, was a Quaker. [3] John, the son of William, married Miss Horseman, the daughter of the mayor of Carrickfergus; and they had issue, eighteen sons [4] and one daughter. Of these, William, it is believed the eldest, a builder by trade, and an intelligent religious man, married Miss Boyd, of the Boyds of Kilmarnock, whose living representative is Mr. Hugh Stuart Boyd, a well-known Greek scholar. This marriage was productive of four sons and two daughters. John, the eldest of the former, was intended by his father for the Church. He studied at Edinburgh and Glasgow successively, and finally at Trinity College, Dublin, But severe illness, followed by a premature marriage, put an end to his prospects in the Church; and he became a licensed parish schoolmaster. His wife was a descendant of the McLeans [5] of Mull, in the Hebrides. Shortly after the birth of the eldest son, who was called Tracy after an uncle who was a clergyman, Mr. Clarke was persuaded, like multitudes of his ill-conditioned countrymen, to emigrate to America, having the expectation, if not the promise, of a Professorship in one of the Universities which were then rising on that continent. He broke up his establishment, converted all his property into cash, provided himself with the equipment necessary to an emigrant, and was on the eve of sailing, with his wife and son, from the port of Londonderry, when his father, who had followed him from the country, went on board; and, by the joint force of tears, entreaties, and commands, prevailed upon him to relinquish his design, and, forfeiting his passage, to return into the country. He never recovered from the effects of this shock. The small remnant of his property was exhausted, while as yet he was undetermined as to his future course; and in this destitute condition he retired to the village of Moybeg in the parish of Kilebronaghan, of which Mr. Tracy, his brother-in-law, was rector, and where, as has been already stated, Adam, his second son, and the immediate subject of these pages, entered upon the stage of life.

    Tracy Clarke was three years older than his brother Adam. The uncle after whom he was named, being childless, engaged to educate him at his own expense, and, in fulfillment of his promise, had taken him under his roof; but death, with whom no contracts are sacred, released Mr. Tracy from all earthly obligations shortly after he had assumed the charge of his nephew. Tracy, returning to his father's house, received from him a classical education; and, at an early age, was appointed and licensed to act as schoolmaster in a parish contiguous to that in which Mr. Clarke himself had formerly sustained a similar station. Weary of this office, which promised neither comfort nor emolument, he turned his attention to the study of medicine. Having served an apprenticeship to a Mr. Pollock, a skillful and well-educated practitioner in the town of Magherafelt, he proceeded to Dublin, where he studied anatomy under Dr. Cleghorne, the celebrated professor of that science. Failing in his endeavors to obtain an appointment in the Navy, he went out in a slave ship. After two voyages to the coast of Guinea, he resigned his post, filled with horror and disgust at the inhuman traffic. He married and commenced practice at Maghull, eight miles from Liverpool, where, during many years, he was remarkably successful in his profession, and was universally respected. Dying in 1802, he left behind him four sons and a daughter. The boys had the advantage of being educated by their uncle Adam. The oldest is a learned man and author of a remarkable work, entitled "An Exposition of the False Prophet, and the Number of the Apocalyptic Beast." Two of his brothers embraced the medical profession, one of whom is a surgeon in the Navy.

    Having given this brief account of the family connections of Adam Clarke, it now remains for us to trace his own eventful history. Hardily brought up, he took to his feet [began to walk] at the age of eight months, and, when nine months old, was permitted to run about unattended. He was remarkably patient of cold, it being one of his amusements to dig holes in the snow and sit down in them, with no other covering than his shirt. By these and other means he acquired uncommon strength, though his natural constitution was but moderately strong. In fulfillment of a promise, his grandparents, at whose request his uncle Tracy baptized him by the name of Adam, took charge of him as soon as he was old enough to dispense with a mother's care. They had engaged to take him as their own, and to defray the expenses of his education; but his bold and adventurous disposition was not compatible with his grandmother's peace of mind; and, fearing that he would one day be drowned in a draw-well into which he was apt to peep when it was left uncovered, she returned him to his parents. When about five years old, he took the small-pox in the natural way, inoculation being then but little known. Had it not been for his unusual love of the open air, he would probably have fallen a victim to the disorder, or, at least, to the absurd mode of treating it then common. This consisted in an accumulated load of bed-clothes, and the substitution of spirituous liquors for cooling medicine. Adam, however, would not submit to confinement; but, whenever he found an opportunity, he left his bed, and ran, naked, out of doors. By the adoption of what he calls "this cool regimen," he passed safely through the crisis, and, though covered with the disease from head to foot, finally escaped without a single mark. We smile at the ignorance and absurdities of our forefathers; but, in the progress of discovery, we ourselves may afford similar amusement to future generations. When the proper remedy for cholera shall be found out, our modes of treating it may appear not less ridiculous, or less Hibernian [Hibernian adj. & n. archaic poet. adj. of or concerning Ireland. n. a native of Ireland. -- Oxford Dict.], than the method of curing the small-pox formerly practiced in that country.

    He received his first impressions concerning the awful realities of the eternal world when six years old. At this time his father lived at Maghera, where he kept an English and classical school. [6] Among his pupils was the son of Dr. Barnard, the rector, the friend of Johnson, and afterwards successively bishop of Kilaloe and of Limerick. With another of the pupils, James Brooks, who was the tenth child of his parents, [7] Adam formed an intimate friendship. One day, as they sat upon a bank, they entered into conversation on the subject of eternity, and of the dreadful nature of eternal punishment. They were so affected by their thoughts that they wept bitterly; and, after praying God to forgive their sins and making mutual promises of amendment, they separated with sad hearts. Adam, upon whose mind the sin of disobedience to his parents weighed heavily, made known his feelings to his mother, and told her that he hoped in future to use no bad words, and to render obedience to his parents' commands. His mother was deeply affected; and, after encouraging him and praying for him, she communicated the intelligence to his father. But, though he was a conscientious Churchman, he thought little of the matter; and the young penitent was discouraged. But the smoking flax was not quenched; and, though the impression grew faint, it did not wholly disappear.

    He evinced an unaccountable antipathy to men with "fair round bellies;" or, to use his own unceremonious phrase, "big bellies." This freak displayed itself in his stern rejection of the friendly overtures of Mr. Pearce Quinlin, his father's neighbor. With this gentleman Adam was a great favorite; but, figuratively as well as literally, his excessive corpulence stood in the way of his advances, and the eye of the fastidious child could never reconcile itself to so great a friend. This aversion to men of the Falstaff stamp [From the context to follow, "Falstaff stamp" seems to mean "men who had beer bellies. -- DVM] was accidentally deepened. Mrs. Clarke, partaking of the common superstition which awarded to dumb persons the faculty of foretelling future events, took advantage of a call made by a man of this class at her husband's house, to inquire into her son Adam's destiny. After looking at the boy some time, the man gave signs that he would be very fond of the bottle, and have an enormous belly. Adam was young enough to fear that the prediction might prove true; but, also believing that God could avert the threatened calamity, he immediately retired into a field, and fervently prayed that "he might never be suffered to be like Pearce Quinlin!" Whether this gentleman exemplified the former as well as the latter part of the prediction, does not appear; but it is certain that the matter ended most unfortunately for the reputation of the prophet. Dr. Clarke, even at the close of his life, could not be truly described as being corpulent; and of temperance he was always an example. Some prophecies, it has been remarked, contribute to their own fulfillment; but the subject of this memoir himself suggests, that the tendency was quite the reverse in the present instance.

    Adam was naturally an inapt scholar. It was not without difficulty that he acquired the knowledge of the Alphabet. His teacher rendered matters still worse by strong censures and unseasonable chastisement. He had nearly been made a dunce for life, when a neighboring schoolmaster chanced to take him under hand. Adam was eight years of age, and but yet "putting vowels and consonants together." When he had "hobbled through his lesson," his teacher apologized by saying, that "he was a grievous dunce." But the other, far the wiser man, clapping Adam on the head, replied, "Never fear, Sir; this lad will make a good scholar yet." This prediction was more fortunate than that of the spaeman [speechless man], and contributed, no doubt, to its own accomplishment. It was the first thing which checked Adam's despair of making progress in knowledge. Learning alone will not fit a man to be a teacher of youth: a certain tact and a good temper are quite as essential. "Many children, not naturally dull, have become so under the influence of the schoolmaster." [8]

    But, though Adam was inspired with a little hope by the encouraging remark of the stranger, it had not endowed him with greater ability. When he had acquired the art of reading with tolerable ease, his father, who wished to make him a scholar, put him into Lilly's Latin Grammar. Here his natural slowness of understanding again displayed itself; and, as we hardly need add, it was not assisted by the peculiar construction of his book. After a dreadful load of mechanical labor, he reached the middle of "As in præsenti." Here, however, he came to a dead pause. More than two days were occupied in vain attempts to commit to memory two of those abominable verses, and the overburdened student had thrown down the book in despair, when the threats of his teacher, who told him he should be a beggar all the days of his life, joined the jeers of his fellow-pupils, who

    stigmatized him as a stupid dunce, roused him as from a lethargy: "he felt," as he expressed himself, "as if something had broken within him;" resumed his book, speedily conquered the unconquerable task, and went forward with an ease he had never known before. "The reproaches of his school-fellows," says he himself, "were the sparks which fell on the gunpowder, and inflamed it instantly." To many boys, who eventually became distinguished men, the same sudden awakening of the intellectual faculties has happened. It is well to suspend the rod in terrorem over a naturally quick boy, to spur the indolence which is often associated with good parts; but moral excitements are the proper means of stimulating those who have a desire to learn, and yet are painfully conscious for the present of their inaptitude.

    Notwithstanding this sudden illumination, young Clarke ever found an initial difficulty in striving to comprehend anything. This might arise from his determination to comprehend, and not partially apprehend, everything to which he applied his mind. He could not be satisfied without understanding the reason of a thing, and thus assuring himself that he was upon firm ground. [9] In arithmetic he made but little progress, owing in a great measure to the imperfections of the treatise (Fisher's) from which he derived his instructions. His general progress in learning was hindered by that which has cramped the education of many men, the poverty of his family. To eke out the insufficient income which he derived from ill-paid tuition, Mr. Clarke found it necessary to cultivate a small farm. He himself assisted in tilling it before and after school hours, and his sons attended to it alternately during the day. They consequently shared between them the instruction which each, in happier circumstances, would have had to himself. They formed a plan of supplying this defect, which plan evinces that they both were fond of learning: each on leaving school communicating to the other whatever he had learned during the day. It is worthy of remark, that the farm thus cultivated by the schoolmaster and his sons was cultivated according to the rules laid down in Virgil's Georgics, "the finest production," says Dr. Clarke, in his own way, "of the finest poet that ever lived." Notwithstanding the difference in climate and soil between Ireland and Italy, Mr. Clarke's crops were equal to his neighbors'. This circumstance has afforded some amusement to the critics: some saying, it was like an Irishman; and others, that Mr. Clarke did not reflect that Ireland was not Italy. These writers, however, had they reflected a little, might have conceived it just possible, that, had Dr. Clarke entered into details upon the subject, instead of merely mentioning the fact, it would have appeared that his father, in following the rules of Virgil, had sense enough to make due allowances for the differences of soil and clime. It is evident that he did not err to any great extent, from the fact, which Dr. Clarke has happily recorded, that his crops were not inferior to those which resulted from other and, as it is gratuitously supposed, better modes of tillage.

    The school in which young Adam received his classical knowledge was situated on the skirt of a wood, upon an eminence which commanded a rich variety of prospect. Into that wood, as into the groves of Academus, those of the boys who, it was known, would not abuse the privilege by climbing trees and robbing birds' nests, were occasionally permitted to retire with their books; and here young Clarke, who was among the number of the privileged, read the Eclogues and the Georgics of Virgil, with living illustrations of their contents before his eyes -- illustrations which, in after life, he declared to be finer and more impressive than those of the Delphin Edition and the Variorum Critics. Here, too, he himself made the first trial of his poetic powers, by producing, one holiday afternoon, a satire upon one of his school fellows, of which some portions have been preserved.

    It was entitled, "The Parallel, a Poem: or Verses on William W--k--n, of Portglenone, in the county of Antrim, describing the base extraction, high insignificance, and family connections, of the said William W--k--n, alias, Pigmy Will." Availing himself of the story of "the pigmies and the cranes," as referred to in Homer, Pliny, and Juvenal, he described his antagonist, "the pigmy," as falling into the hands of a crane. The following lines may suffice as a specimen:

    "At this unhappy change of place, Will made a haggard rueful face: And earnestly desired to be Rid of his potent enemy. The crane fast sped, now high, now low, With her poor caitiff [cowardly] screaming foe Till coming o'er Portnegro town, She loosed her fangs and let him down; And he, poor wight [wretch], like old king log,

    Came plump directly to a bog."

    For the production of a boy not nine years old, these verses evince no inconsiderable share of ingenuity. The rest abound in classical allusions, which is accounted for by the fact, that the young author had made himself master of Littleton's Classical Dictionary. This enabled him to acquire credit among his school fellows, by explaining to them the historical passages in their lessons. Nor was this the only instance in which he attempted the composition of verse. He often amused himself with making hymns and versifying the Psalms of David; and he even turned the first four chapters of Solomon's Song into stanzas of four lines, eights and sixes. Adam was, indeed, pre-eminently self-taught. Mr. Moore, who states that he knew his parents well, declares, that he could not get the teaching there. No wonder that he who, when a boy of eight years, could conquer the whole heathen mythology and biography, should afterwards have coped so successfully with the folios of antiquity.

    Both he and his brother were passionately fond of reading, devoting all their spare pence to the purchase of books, and all their spare hours to their perusal. It is curious to notice of what materials the library was composed of that boy, who, when he became a man, possessed "one of the most select and valuable private libraries in the kingdom." Dr. Clarke was so far from regretting or feeling ashamed, that his first collection of books consisted chiefly of such legendary lore as Tom Thumb, Jack the Giant-killer, and other wonderful histories of the same stamp, that he actually attributed to his early knowledge of their contents the acquisition of a literary taste and of a firm belief in spiritual agency. To such an extent, indeed, was the latter effect produced upon his mind, that, having imbibed from his father's oral descriptions of the Trojan war, a great admiration for the character of Hector, he retired into the fields, and, prescribing time and place, invoked the spirit of the departed chief to appear to him. He was accustomed to refer his courage to the habit of pondering the achievements of nursery heroes, alleging that he was by nature very timid. Having heard of the wonders of magic, and that a gentleman who lived about eight miles off had a book upon the science, he obtained leave to go and solicit the loan of it, confidently expecting that it would teach him "to get home without touching the ground;" but the owner was not willing to satisfy his youthful curiosity. At this time he was not more than eight years old.

    A while after, he fell in with some traveling tinkers who dealt in the mysteries into which he was so desirous of peeping; and they allowed him to read and take notes from their copy of Cornelius Agrippa's Occult Philosophy, the book which he had formerly gone eight miles to see. Unfortunately, as he then thought, these tinkers had not the fourth part of the work, which contains the practical portion of the science, without a knowledge of which the instructions gained from the first three could not be applied. As everything in the art magic was to be done with a reference to God, and in dependence upon him, Adam conceived that he was acting even commendably in studying it, until he met with something on the subject, in which Matthew vii. 22, 23, was quoted in condemnation of all such practices. After this, he abandoned the pursuit, but not before his fame as an enchanter had spread so wide, as, by a dread of being spell-bound, to secure his father's premises from midnight depredators, from whom they had previously suffered. Education will banish these superstitious fears, and with them, if rightly directed, the disposition to dishonesty. To the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, which formed a part of his juvenile library, he used to attribute that decided taste for oriental history on which his subsequent fame depended. From Robinson Crusoe he conceived himself to have derived so much moral improvement, that he was careful to place it in the hands of his own children. He was also particularly fond of Æsop's Fables, which he read not without a due perception of the morals inculcated.

    Upon this part of the history of Dr. Clarke's early life some judicious remarks have appeared in the Christian Observer; and, as they may tend to guard the minds of young persons in particular from adopting an erroneous opinion, merely because it has the sanction of a great name, we interrupt the narrative in order to introduce them. Aided by the brief account which we have given, they sufficiently explain themselves:-

    "Did it never occur to Dr. Clarke," inquires the enlightened critic, "that, if the Sadducean education left an awful blank, the superstitious education prepared the way for a perilous recoil? For if a child 'was led to believe in a spiritual world, and that there was a devil to hurt and a God to help,' by reading 'books of enchantment,' was there not the obvious danger, that, when he saw that the records which had 'led,' in whole or in part, to this belief, were merely works of idle fiction, he might begin to surmise that the belief itself was founded on no better basis, and thus discard the revelation of God as he discarded the fables of the nursery? So far, indeed, from habits of credulous wonder being favorable to the cause of true religion, they prepare the mind for everything absurd, superstitious, and fanatical; but they have no tendency to spiritualize the affections, or to open the understanding to receive the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need not add, what a powerful weapon they furnish to the scorner; for what will the scoffers at Christianity say, when they find Dr. A. Clarke seriously asserting, in his matured years, that he 'much doubts whether he should ever have been a religious man,' but for reading Jack the Giant-Killer and similar productions? It was not thus that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia: and, since it is the Holy Spirit who alone can make anyone 'a religious man,' it is, to say the least, not a little strange to suppose that He should employ ridiculous fabrications to aid his purpose. We can readily believe that Dr. Clarke received, as he says, his first taste for Oriental literature by reading the Arabian Nights' Entertainments; and that he wished to acquaint himself more particularly with a people whose customs and manners, both civil and religious, were so strange and curious; and never 'lost sight of this object till Divine Providence opened the way, and placed the means in his power, to gain some acquaintance with the principal languages of the East.' Nor shall we question the extraordinary benefits which he says that he received from the Fables of Æsop and the Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; the latter of which he read as a real history, and from it 'learned more expressly his duty to God and to his parents, and a firmer belief in Divine Providence, than from all he heard or read from books or men during his early years; so that he took care to put this work into the hands of his own children as soon as they could read.' But his mixing up idle romances with the work of the Divine Spirit, as he appears to do in the above statement, by making the one assist the other, we can only ascribe to that occasional eccentricity of opinion from which this excellent, and learned, and exemplary man was not exempt, and which we attribute to the defects of his education and the disadvantages of his early life. When we read the catalogue of his juvenile library, and reflect upon the darkness and prejudices of the people among whom he spent his infant years, we rather wonder that he ever emerged from his intellectual prison, and became remarkable for strength of understanding and solidity of judgment, than that he retained an air of originality, and sometimes allowed himself to take up opinions far removed from common-place, and which it required some genius or curious research to hit upon, and considerable moral courage to avow and defend." It appears, that, many years after the time to which this part of our narrative belongs, Adam, to use his own words, "investigated this subject still more minutely, and saw all that could be termed the use and abuse of it." The writer just quoted, conceiving that the "subject" referred to is magic, complains that Dr. Clarke has not specified its "use," and adduces it as an instance of "the baneful effect of wrong early associations," that a mind so powerful should have thought "a matter which involves only an abuse of reason and common sense, and which receives no sanction from Divine revelation, worthy of serious investigation." But we doubt that it was magic which Adam investigated in his maturer years; for he assigns as his reason for giving an account of his study of that branch of occult science, that "many young minds have been led astray by its promises and apparent piety, and have been thereby plunged into sorrows and disappointments." This passage the writer in the Christian Observer seems to have overlooked. And, besides, we meet with no more mention of magic in connection with the history of Dr. Clarke, while, as it will be seen in a subsequent part of our narrative, he did engage in the vain speculations and abortive experiments of alchemy [alchemy n. (pl. -ies) 1 the medieval forerunner of chemistry, esp. seeking to turn base metals into gold or silver. 2a miraculous transformation or the means of achieving this. -- Oxford Dict.]. Of this science he had probably obtained some slight knowledge at the time when he studied magic; and, though he does not mention the fact, there is ground, as will hereafter appear, for supposing that it was to alchemy that he indirectly attributed utility. How far he was correct in so doing, the reader shall judge when he has heard the evidence.

    Among the youthful accomplishments of Adam Clarke may be numbered his ability to perform various feats of strength and agility: such as putting the stone, lifting great weights, and balancing chairs, sledge-hammers, &c., on chin, nose, or forehead.

    But it is time to notice more particularly the religious part of his education. His parents were of different denominations: Mr. Clarke being a Churchman [Church of England], while his wife was a Presbyterian. They had too much sense to allow this difference to affect their behavior to each other. The parish clergyman and the Presbyterian minister received from both an equal welcome; the husband and the wife allowed each other to go to church or meeting-house as each thought fit; and no means were used on either part to determine their children's choice.*

    [This sounds like a pious philosophy, but if a person has such little persuasion of the genuineness of his or her church doctrine, then it shows that they have not enough concern about knowing the truth, which appears to have been the case with Clarke's parents. And, their willingness to let their children decide for themselves is another sign that they had too little concern to know the truth, for no conscientious follower of truth would fail to guide the children in the way of that truth. All of the preceding said, it would appear that Adam Clarke's mother was a God-fearing, Bible-loving mother who tried to teach her children Bible truths. Still, her mind was probably not enlightened enough to see the danger of letting her children choose between this or that church as if it scarcely mattered. But then, probably it didn't matter much so far as choosing between the Church of England and the Presbyterian churches, both being dead and formalistic. -DVM]

    The family," says Mr. Moore, speaking from personal knowledge, "were what is generally called good sort of people -- honest people, clearing their way by sober, honest industry. They thought they must be good in order to go to heaven; and they had a wholesome fear of being found wicked. They likewise embraced the common forms of religion."

    They taught their children, however, to fear God, and to expect redemption through Jesus Christ, everything else in religion being considered comparatively unimportant. Sometimes they went to the meeting-house, but more frequently to church, for which, indeed, "they all felt a decided preference." [10] After all, then, it would seem as if the father had exercised a superior influence; but this is not apparent from any information which we have acquired. Indeed, according to the testimony of Dr. Clarke himself, he owed his early religious impressions, as well as his early religious knowledge, to his mother's instructions exclusively. It is more than probable that those religious impressions, which he gives his legendary lore the credit of having produced in his mind, resulted, under the blessing of God, from her instructions. Though a Presbyterian, yet, according to her son, she was not a Calvinist. If, like the people of her country, she was superstitious, like them her superstition took the form of religious veneration. Nor was her awe of God, and of the unseen state, based upon vague notions of his nature, and of that of the invisible world. Her knowledge of him was derived from his word, with which she was intimately conversant. She strove to inspire her children with the same reverence for the lively oracles, that she felt, In this effort she succeeded, not only by reading to them, and causing them to read, the sacred page, but by appealing to the Bible -- to the law and to the testimony -- as often as it was needful to administer reproof, or to strengthen her authority. For every occasion she could immediately provide an appropriate text. This promptness and facility her son properly attributed to her intimate knowledge of the Scriptures; but she, whether, like Mr. Wesley, a believer in the Sortes Biblicæ, or only willing that her sons should receive the strongest impressions, was apt to attribute her ready discovery of scriptural authorities as occasion required, to the special guidance of God. In any case, her chief end was answered; for, though her own unaided reproofs could be borne, when she supported them by reference to the word of God, they became overwhelming. An instance will make this appear the less wonderful. Her son Adam having on one occasion committed an offense against her authority, she immediately read from Proverbs, "The eye that despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out," &c. Whether she intended him to interpret this horrible denunciation literally or not (but, if not, she ought to have explained its meaning), he did so interpret it; for, at the sound of the croak of an impending raven, which, most ominously, assailed his ear shortly after the severe rebuke had been administered, he retreated with all haste to the house, covering his eyes with his hands. But it was characteristic of Mrs. Clarke's religious instructions in general, that, by dwelling more on the severe justice than on the boundless mercy of God, she communicated to her children's minds no other motive to obedience than fear. Such views of the Divine character are not without their use in deterring children from the commission of open sin; and this end they answered in the case before us. But why should not the Divine character he presented in its milder aspects to the contemplation of the young disciple? "We love him," says an apostle, "because he first loved us;" and children especially are susceptible of grateful feeling. It is desirable, indeed, that the attributes of God should be exhibited in their harmony and connection; but this supposes rare qualifications in the teacher. Nothing is more certain, however, than that the most imperfect instruction, if it be pure as to its aim, will receive the dew of God's blessing.

    At an early period, the young Clarkes were taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer, with short petitions for their relatives and friends. To these, in process of time, were added the Apostle's Creed, and a Morning and an Evening Prayer in verse. These verses, which were simple and evangelical. Dr. Clarke informs us he continued to repeat "as long as he could with propriety use the term youth:" so that his strong attachment to the use of forms in prayer was the growth of his whole life.

    The Sabbath-day was strictly observed in Mr. Clarke's house; but even on this day the instruction of his children appears to have devolved, wholly upon their mother, who read to them, catechized them, sang with them, lectured them, and prayed with them. She made them get by heart the Church Catechism, and the shorter Westminster Catechism, thus furnishing their minds both with her own creed and with her husband's. Besides this, she taught them such reverence for the Bible, that, if they had it in their hands even for the purpose of studying a chapter in order to say it as a lesson, and had been disposed with their class fellows to whistle a tune, or to be facetious, they dared not do either while the book was open in their hands. In such cases they always shut it and laid it down beside them. "Who," demands Dr. Clarke, "will dare to lay this to the charge of superstition?"

    According to the custom of the country, Adam Clarke attended a singing school, where he received instructions in what was called sacred music. But, the object of the master being gain, regardless of the incongruity, he began to give instructions in dancing as well as music. It was some time before this reputedly seductive art made any favorable impression upon Adam. Endued already with a manly turn of mind, he regarded it as at best a silly mode of employing time. But, as he still attended to take lessons in psalmody, he was continually liable to the solicitations of his companions, who at length overcame his steadfastness. According to his wont, he applied himself diligently to his new study, of which, as he grew more and more skillful, he became increasingly enamored, until it absorbed a great portion of his time and of his thoughts; or, rather, prevented him from thinking steadily on any subject of real utility. But of its moral effect upon him, the reader shall judge from his own deliberate testimony in the retrospect of years:-- "I began now to value myself, which, as far as I can recollect, I had never thought of before. I grew impatient of control, was fond of company, wished to mingle more than I had ever done, with young people. I got also a passion for better clothing than that which fell to my lot in life, was discontented when I found a neighbor's son dressed better than myself. I lost the spirit of subordination, did not love work, imbibed a spirit of idleness, and, in short, drunk in all the brain-sickening effluvia of pleasure. Dancing and company took the place of reading and study; and the authority of my parents was feared indeed, but not respected. Dancing was to me a perverting influence, an unmixed moral evil: for, although, by the mercy of God, it led me not to depravity of manners, it greatly weakened the moral principle, drowned the voice of a well-instructed conscience, and was the first cause of impelling me to seek my happiness in this life. I consider it as a branch of that worldly education which leads from heaven to earth, from things spiritual to things sensual, and from God to Satan. Let them plead for it who will; I know it to be evil, and that only. They who bring up their children in this way, or send them to those schools where dancing is taught, are consecrating them to the service of Moloch, and cultivating the passions, so as to cause them to bring forth the weeds of a fallen nature, with an additional rankness, deep-rooted inveteracy, and inexhaustible fertility."

    In somewhat less than two years, however, he escaped from the circle of this enchantment. After what has been said of his mother, it may appear singular that she should have allowed him to learn an art so injurious. But those who are aware that it is not proscribed in the families of certain religious professors of the present day, will not be surprised that Mrs. Clarke should have tolerated it in her son. Happily, the Wesleyan Methodists have avoided this snare. At one time, indeed, there was reason to apprehend that it would be introduced into several boarding-schools kept by members of the Wesleyan-Methodist Society; but the evil was nipped in the bud, principally by the efforts of Dr. Clarke, who, in the pages of the Arminian Magazine, denounced the ill-considered project.

    Strong as are Dr. Clarke's animadversions [criticisms, censures] on dancing, we could not have believed that any writer, professedly religious, would have thought it necessary to enter a caveat [warning, proviso] against them, had we not seen the singular observations contained in the publication already cited. A writer in that work has deemed it necessary to devote several pages to an effort to prevent his readers from laying too much stress upon Dr. Clarke's opinion. He begins by saying he "is no advocate for dancing," and yet he warmly deprecates the unqualified censures which have been pronounced upon it. It is obvious, however, that any censures, to have a good effect, must be at least as strong as the amusement is fascinating; and, this being admitted, Dr. Clarke, we think, is justified. To enter into a particular examination of the apologetical remarks in the Christian Observer, would detain us too long from the immediate purpose of these pages. Suffice it to notice those of them which more immediately concern the subject of this memoir. The critic appears to think it not improper that children of tender years should be taught to dance, in order to improve their carriage, and for the sake of exercise. He states, that Adam Clarke began to learn the art just when he ought to have desisted from it; but here he has supposed that he was older than he really was: for he was yet but a mere boy.

    Dancing, again, he conceives to be fraught with more mischief as practiced among the lower classes than as practiced in the higher circles; and, therefore, he conceives that the Doctor's censures ought either to have been confined to village revels, or, if applied to all dancing, considerably modified. But, in expressing this opinion, he takes it for granted that the company in which young Adam exercised his saltatorial [leaping, dancing] skill, was composed of the loose and drunken frequenters of ale-house balls. This, however, is altogether a gratuitous supposition; for he expressly states, that, with all the mischief that dancing did him, it did not lead him into any actual depravity of manners. It appears, indeed, to have made him in almost every respect, except his abhorrence of actual sin, the very reverse of what he was before -- frivolous, vain, indolent, and ambitious of external distinction; to use an expressive vulgarism, "it turned his head." While thus injurious on the one hand, on the other it was not productive of any good whatever; and, therefore, he rightly pronounced it to be, to him, "an unmixed moral evil." And, after all the special pleading of the writer of the Christian Observer, who seems to have been retained by some of his half-religious half-fashionable friends, he comes at last to a very similar conclusion. "Upon the whole," he says, "we would banish dancing as a social amusement, because of its frivolity and its liability to abuse;" and, though he is disposed to tolerate it "as a domestic or scholastic exercise," yet, if, even in this form, it can be shown that it is productive of any "moral evil," on the principle of avoiding the appearance of evil, he would proscribe [banish, outlaw, reject, denounce] it altogether. That it ought to be thus proscribed, especially among religious professors, all those who calmly consider the Doctor's statement of its effects upon him, will, we believe, concur in thinking, if their own previous experience and observation have not already led them to this conclusion. Young Adam was at first designed for the Church, and he himself aspired to the ministry, but, like many others, "without knowing what he desired." To this scheme, the number of his father's children -- five daughters and two sons, and the narrowness of his pecuniary resources, presented insuperable obstacles; for he could not be maintained at the University. The medical profession was next thought of, but with no better success. It was then concluded that he should assist his father in tuition, and succeed him when incapacitated. For this employment, young Adam had no inclination. It involved much labor with little profit. "Man proposeth, but God disposeth;" a proverb which, as we shall see, was exemplified in the history of Adam Clarke.

    In the mean time, a severe fall from a horse threatened to supersede all speculations concerning his future occupations. It rendered him insensible for some time; but he was at length restored by bleeding. In allusion to this restoration, he has remarked, "Had I not been designed for matters of great and high importance, it is not likely, in the ordinary course of nature, I could have survived this accident." There can be no question among those who believe in an over-ruling providence, especially as such a providence is revealed in Scripture, that Dr. Clarke was "a vessel chosen to honor," and that his life was preserved for the edification of the Christian church. But, a priori, there was nothing in the accident in question, or in his recovery from its effects, to lead to such a conclusion. Many have been the remarkable recoveries from extreme danger which have not been followed by any thing remarkable in the lives of the restored individuals; and it was neither a natural nor a necessary inference, that, because Adam Clarke survived a hurt which threatened to prove fatal, he must be "designed for matters of great and high importance." That there is nothing in the order of God's providence without its end, is readily admitted; and, a posteriori, it is but reasonable to argue that Adam Clarke's life was preserved that he might be a burning and a shining light in the church of Christ, and especially that he might transcend all previous commentators in illuminating the sacred page. The reflection upon which we have hazarded these remarks, would, perhaps, have been more appropriate to a second instance in which the life of Adam Clarke was preserved in circumstances of extreme danger. In this case, no human aid was nigh to save him. With the imprudence natural to youth, he ventured, in washing his father's horse in the sea, to urge the animal beyond the breakers into the swell. The consequence was that both were overwhelmed. The rider was ultimately cast on shore alive, the horse having recovered the dry land some time before. But this remarkable occurrence demands a more extended relation; and, though the account is rather long, we will give it in Dr. Clarke's own words. On the morning of Sunday, March 25, 1832, he was preaching in London, in the City-Road chapel, on behalf of the Royal Humane Society for the recovery of persons apparently drowned, and was approaching the close of his discourse, when he introduced the following most striking narrative:-

    "I said I was acquainted with some of the principal originators of this Society, and I need not say I was well acquainted with Dr. Letsom. I will tell you a story relative to that good man. -- 'Doctor,' said I, 'you have been very much conversant with everything respecting the Royal Humane Society. You have been now long engaged in that work, and you and your friends have been principally active in carrying on its provisions and plans and management, and dispersing its blessings throughout the land. Pray, what does your experience, Doctor, teach you respecting the state of those that evidently have been dead, and would have continued under the power of death, had it not been for the means prescribed by the Royal Humane Society? Have you ever found any that were conscious of the state into which they had departed?' 'I have never found one said he. 'Not of all those that have been revived, to your own knowledge, that were dead as to all human appearance, where the heart had ceased its pulsation, the lungs no longer played, the blood no longer circulated, and there was every evidence that the person was finally deceased?' He again answered, 'No.' 'Doctor,' continued I, 'I have not been so long conversant with these matters as you have been; but my experience in things of that kind has led me to different information. I knew a person that was drowned; and that person, to my own knowledge, had a perfect consciousness during the whole interim, and also declared many things concerning the state through which he passed.' 'But was the person drowned?' said the Doctor. 'Yes,' said I, 'completely drowned, I have no doubt of it whatever.' 'Had you the testimony from himself?' he inquired. -- 'I had, Sir.' 'Could you trust in him?' -- 'Most perfectly.' And then, assuming an attitude he was accustomed to assume when making anxious inquiry respecting anything, he said -- 'I should wish to have the examination of that person. I looked him steadfastly in the face, and I said, 'Ecce homo! Coram quem qæritis adsum! I am the very man that was thus drowned!' He arose immediately. 'Well,' said he, 'what were the circumstances?' 'I will tell you them simply,' said I: 'I was a fearless lad, and I went to the shore of a fine river that pours itself into the Irish sea, riding a mare of my father's. I was determined to have a swim. I rode the mare, and we swam on till we got beyond the breakers entirely; but, when we had got over swell after swell, and were proceeding still onward to the ocean, the mare and myself were swamped in a moment, I was soon disengaged from the mare; and, as I afterwards found, she naturally turned, got ashore, and went plodding her way back to home. In a moment, I seemed to have all my former views and ideas entirely changed, and I had a sensation of the most complete happiness or felicity that it is possible, independent of rapture, for the human mind to feel. I had felt no pain from the moment I was submerged; and at once a kind of representation, nearly of a green color, presented itself to me; multitudes of objects were in it, not one of them, however, possessing any kind of likeness or analogy to anything I had seen before. In this state, how long I continued, He only knows who saved my life; but so long did I continue in it, till one wave after another (for the tide was coming in) rolled me to the shore. There was no Royal Humane Society at hand; I believe the place is not blessed with one to the present day. The first sensation, when I came to life, was, as if a spear had been run through my heart. I felt this sensation in getting the very first draught of fresh air, when the lungs were merely inflated by the pressure of the atmosphere. I found myself sitting in the water, and it was by a very swelling wave, that I was put out of the way of being overwhelmed by any of the succeeding waves. After a little time, I was capable of sitting up. The intense pain at my heart, however, still continued; but I had felt no pain from the moment I was submerged, till the time when my head was brought above water, and the air once more entered into my lungs. I saw the mare had passed along the shore, at a considerable distance; not as if afraid of danger, but walking quite leisurely. How long I was submerged, it would be impossible precisely to say; but it was sufficiently long, according to my apprehensions and any skill I now have in physiology, to have been completely dead, and never more to breathe in this world, had it not been for that Providence which, as it were, once more breathed into my nostrils and lungs the breath of this animal life, and I became once more a living soul.' And, at the space of threescore years, you have this strange phenomenon before you -- the preacher before the Royal Humane Society." As the reader has anticipated, the Doctor founded upon this extraordinary narrative a very powerful and successful appeal on behalf of that noble institution.

    In another place, the Doctor has given a less graphic account of his wonderful preservation, which he thus concludes:-- "My preservation might have been the effect of natural causes; and yet it appears to be more rational to attribute it to a superior agency. Here, then, Dr. L., is a case widely different, it appears, from those you have witnessed: and which argues very little for the modish doctrine of the materiality of the soul.' Dr. Letsom appeared puzzled with this relation, but did not attempt to make any remarks on it. Perhaps the subject itself may not be unworthy the consideration of some of our minute philosophers."

    To the case of Dr. Clarke may be added one not less remarkable, and one, too, which affords grounds for every inference which might be deduced from his. It is that of a lady who formed one of a party in the pleasure boat, which, a few years ago, was run down by the Fox cutter, while cruising off the Isle of Wight, and is related by Mr. Jones, the ingenious author of a "History of the Waldenses," and other works, he having received it from the lady's own lips. Her husband was saved. "As for myself," said she, "I went plump down to the bottom of the sea, and was for some time completely under water. I had time enough for reflection, and I well remember what my reflections were. Convinced that my end was come, my first thoughts were, 'Was I in a fit state to die?' This was no pleasant subject to me. I had often heard it said, that drowning was the most desirable of all deaths; and I had full proof of the fact: for never shall I forget the harmonious sounds which seemed to fill my ears, and the ecstatic feelings of which I was the subject; my sensations and impressions were indescribably delightful, I had time also to recollect having been told by some one, that, if I fell into the water, there were two things of the last importance to attend to; one was, if possible, to keep my head above water, and the other, to keep playing with my hands as I had seen a little dog do with his fore-feet, when thrown into a pool. I began playing with my hands; my silk dress became buoyant; I rose rapidly to the surface; and there, by persevering in the same course, throwing back my head, and paddling with my hands, I supported myself from sinking, until the boats had time to put off from the shore, and I was picked up. The space of time that I was kept in this state, could not be less than fifteen minutes." This (adds Mr. Jones) is a brief narrative of the incidents attending that melancholy catastrophe, and the whole goes to justify the points insisted on by Dr. Clarke.

    The compiler of these pages can add his own testimony to those of Dr. Clarke and the lady. He, too, was once saved from drowning in the Old Drain at Hull, and distinctly remembers the pleasurable sensations which he felt while under water.

    At this time, Mr. Clarke had removed to the vicinity of Coleraine, living in the parish of Agherton.

    Except the instructions of his mother, Adam Clarke had not yet enjoyed many religious advantages. There was little of personal religion in the parish; and even Mrs. Clarke herself became infected with the general forgetfulness of God. Nor was this attributable to the baleful influence of Popery; for the inhabitants were all either Churchmen or Presbyterians. The latter, pastor as well as people, were verging towards Socinianism, and, as to piety, were living upon the godliness of their ancestors. The Rector, the Rev. W. Smith, was a benevolent and good man; but he was either partially informed concerning the way of salvation, or failed to make it known in his discourses. This deplorable state of deadness and darkness, Methodism was the means of reviving and enlightening.

    About the year 1777, the Methodist preachers, who had been in Coleraine for some time, visited Agherton. Adam Clarke went to hear them. The first whom he heard was Mr. John Brettell, [11] whom he described as "a tall man, lank-sided [lank adj. 1 (of hair, grass, etc.) long, limp, and straight. 2 thin and tall. 3 shrunken; spare.], with long sleek hair." He found him preaching in a barn. His educational creed was attacked, the preacher placing the Scriptures in opposition to the Assembly's Catechism, as to the doctrine of indwelling sin; and, Adam's opinions not having yet acquired the strength of prejudices, he readily preferred the Scripture doctrine of "salvation from all sin." It has been affirmed that he "lived to learn better;" but the evidence of such improvement has not been pointed out. What he heard made so much impression upon him, that he continued to hear those Methodist preachers who visited the parish, but without any striking effect until the arrival of Mr. Thomas Barber. [12] This "truly apostolic man," who traveled at his own expense, united great zeal and activity with superior abilities; and many were awakened under his ministry. Both Mr. and Mrs. Clarke were among this number, each of them recognizing in what they heard the distinguishing doctrines of their respective churches. They invited Mr. Barber to their house; which, from that time, was ever open to him and to his brethren. Under his preaching and advices, the mind of young Adam gradually opened to receive the seeds of divine truth. To hear Mr. Barber and his colleagues, or to pursue, by prayer and reading the Scriptures, the welfare of his soul, the young penitent gave up all his boyish diversions, continuing, however, to discharge with unremitted zeal and assiduity the duties which devolved upon him in connection with the farm; thus practically refuting the slanderous accusation, that the show of religious zeal springs from an idle disposition. Truly religious men, in every rank of life, but especially in those ranks of life in which actual labor is necessary for subsistence, will be more diligent than other men, if there be any difference in this respect, because they will be conscientious; and to provide by honest industry for the wants of one's self and one's family, is as much the duty of a Christian man as to attend the public worship of Almighty God. Young Adam had not yet obtained that sense of the pardoning love of God, which, as the Methodists, following the light of Scripture, taught, is not a privilege confined to a few, but a common blessing freely offered to every man and every woman upon earth. To this, his friend Mr. Barber taught him to aspire. He had learned to pray, and bowed himself morning and evening at the throne of grace; but during the day he prayed not, contenting himself with sending up occasional inarticulate ejaculations. The good man showed him that this could not be the habit of one ardently seeking the salvation of his soul, and, above all, the sense of that salvation. Other advisers less informed, and his educational creeds among the rest, erroneously told him, that the faith of assurance, or, to use Scriptural phraseology, the witness of the Spirit, was not to be attained by Christians in general, but was confined to a select number. In order that he might decide for himself between these jarring interpretations of the word of God, he appealed to that word itself, and determined to read the New Testament regularly through. This he did with much prayer; and thus, as he informs us, he "acquired and fixed his creed in all its articles, not one of which he ever after found reason to change." At this time, he adds, "he had read none of the writings of the Methodists," and from them, therefore, he did not learn "that creed which, on after examination, he found to be precisely the same with theirs." "Precisely the same," was certainly too unqualified a phrase.

    By this time, a society had been formed in the neighboring village of Mullihicall. Mrs. Clarke attended a class-meeting at this place; and, approving of the proceedings, she desired her son Adam to accompany her on her second visit. He did so, and was much struck by the confidence with which several of the members declared their consciousness of the favor of God. The contrast between his own state and that which he heard described, made him feel himself an intruder; and he returned home melancholy and unhappy. The leader overtook him, and exhorted him to give his heart to God, sayings "You may be a burning and a shining light in a benighted land." These words, which do not speak much for the discretion of the man who used them, might have been expected to please the vanity of a youth like Adam; but they had the contrary effect, of humbling him deeply, and leading him to loathe and abhor himself. It has puzzled a Calvinistic theologian of no mean acuteness to discover the connection between cause and effect in this part of young Adam's history. It was doubtless the work of the Spirit on his heart. There was reason to hope that these strong convictions, which, to use his own figure, "made nature a universal blank to him," were the precursors of that peace which passes understanding; but this was not immediately the result. Mr. Barber had formed a class of young penitents, and, without Adam's leave, had included him in the number. He was not pleased at this, and his permission should certainly have been obtained in a matter of so much importance; but, nevertheless, he consented to meet with the rest. After having attended regularly several weeks, he was once prevented by illness, then by a more trifling hindrance, and finally by pure disinclination. As if to complete and perpetuate the alienation of his mind from the means of grace, he fell into the society of an Arian or a Socinian family, with the members of which he conversed on the doctrine of the atonement. The consequence was, that his mind became infected with their infidel notions concerning the Saviour, and, believing that to worship Christ was idolatry, he prayed the forgiveness of God for having formerly given his glory to another. Not content with this, he even omitted the name of the Son of God in his prayers, and hated the sight of it in any book. It was happy for him that he took up whatever opinions he embraced, heartily and in a candid spirit. An ordinary Socinian would have effected a species of compromise between mere humanity and pure divinity; but he was honest enough to perceive, that Christ was either a man like himself; or was truly and properly divine. By adopting the former alternative in all its naked infidelity, he produced in his mind a revulsion. Without confessing so much even to himself, he found that Christianity was all darkness without the doctrine of the atonement. His prayers were sapless forms, and his reading without unction, This was a state with which he could not rest satisfied; and, accordingly, he resolved to try what effect a return to his former habit of importunate petition might produce. Retiring to a convenient place, he poured out his heart in earnest supplication for the guidance and mercy of God, concluding by asking these favors for the sake of Jesus Christ. This was unpremeditated on his part; and, as if by pronouncing the words he had broken the fatal spell which detained him in bondage, his soul was immediately filled with light, and he was enabled to throw himself unreservedly on the merits of the Saviour's blood. From this time he was in no danger of falling into the fatal notions of Arians or Socinians. On the contrary, he was led by the circumstance which we have related, to examine into the evidences of the divinity of Christ -- an examination which resulted in a thorough conviction of his true and proper Godhead, and, also, in the adoption of those views concerning him as the Son of God, which, as we shall hereafter see, have created so much noise in the Methodist Connection, and may not improbably lead to more injurious consequences. Still he had not received the witness of the Spirit; and short of this he could not rest. While panting after it as the hart after the water-brooks, he applied for leave to present himself at the table of the Lord. After due examination, he received permission; and, having prepared himself by a diligent perusal of that delusive work, The Week's Preparation, he partook of the sacred elements. Having a journey to perform on the Thursday, he "did double work" on the Friday, bringing the prayers and meditations of both days into one. In administering to him, the clergyman, who knew how sincere and devout were the feelings of the young communicant, and was struck with the solemnity of his deportment, unusual in one of his age, was affected even to tears. By this act Adam considered that he had solemnly bound himself to be, with the assistance of God, all that Christianity requires men to be; but (and the nature of his preparations for it makes this the more worthy of remark) he did not view it as though securing his salvation. After many vain efforts to obtain the pearl of great price, the day at length arrived on which it was to be freely given to him of God. He was working in the field, when such were his anguish and distress of soul that he was obliged to desist from his labor, through the failure of his physical strength. Heaven seemed to be closed to the voice of his supplication; and he began to be persuaded that there was no mercy for him. But, while his soul was enveloped in this thick darkness, it was suggested to him to pray to Christ. Obeying the inward monitor, he felt instantly a glorious change. To use his own words, "A glow of happiness seemed to thrill through his whole frame: all guilt and condemnation were gone. He examined his conscience, and found it no longer a register of sins against God. He looked to heaven, and all was sunshine; he searched for his distress, but could not find it. He felt indescribably happy, but could not tell the cause: a change had taken place within him, of a nature wholly unknown before, and for which he had no name. He sat down upon the ridge where he had been working, full of ineffable delight. He praised God, and he could not describe for what; for he could give no name to his work. His heart was light, his physical strength returned, and he could bound like a roe. He felt a sudden transition from darkness to light, from guilt and oppressive fear to confidence and peace. He could now draw nigh to God with more confidence than he ever could to his earthly father: he had freedom of access, and he had freedom of speech. He was like a person who had got into a new world, where, although every object was strange, yet each was pleasing; and now he could magnify God for his creation, a thing he never could do before! Oh! what a change was here! and yet, lest he should be overwhelmed with it, its name and its nature were in a great measure hidden from his eyes."

    Shortly after this happy transition, his friend Mr. Barber visited the house, when young Clarke acquainted him with the joyful news. The man of God gave thanks on account of it, and by his observations led the convert to infer that the event which he knew not how to characterize, was that "being justified by faith" which brings "peace with God;" and his feelings confirmed the truth of the interpretation. On the following Sabbath he attended a love-feast at Coleraine, at which, during prayer, he obtained a still clearer sense of the favor of God: "the Spirit of God," to use his own words, "bore this witness in his conscience, and he could no more have doubted it, than he could have doubted of the reality of his existence, or the identity of his person."

    "He had now found," as he himself remarks, "true happiness in religion; and this he knew it must afford if it were of God: for he saw that religion was a commerce between God and man," -an infelicitous phrase; for commerce implies an interchange of equivalents: and how can man, who has nothing which he has not received, establish such a connection with his Maker? But this is only one of those strong expressions into which men of vivid feelings are sometimes betrayed (and few men more frequently than Dr. Clarke without the approbation of their better judgment; and, almost as soon as the Doctor has uttered the words, he precludes an inference unfavorable to his orthodoxy, by adding that "all notions of religion, merely as a system of duties which we owe to God, fell, in his apprehension, infinitely short of its nature and intention:" a clear proof that he entertained no such idea as that of a reciprocity of interests between God and man. The immediate consequence of Adam's spiritual emancipation was intellectual enlargement. Emulation, as we have seen, overcame that native stolidity [stolid adj. 1 lacking or concealing emotion or animation. 2 not easily excited or moved.] which made him incapable of acquiring the first rudiments of learning; but he never manifested much quickness of apprehension or expansion of mind, until he had entered into the liberty of the sons of God. Lucian and Juvenal, the authors which he was studying, were still not without their difficulties; but they were easy in comparison with what they had been. According to his own testimony, he now learned more in one day, than formerly in one month. His mind became enlarged to take in anything useful. He saw that religion was the gate to true learning and science: and he was accustomed to affirm, that those who went through their studies without religion, had, at least, double work to do; besides that, in the end, they did not realize an equal produce. The truth of this doctrine will be questioned by many, who will be ready to refer to numerous examples of intellectual eminence even among avowed infidels, much more among men who, whatever their creed, had no pretensions to that vital religion which is the subject of the Doctor's remark. On his side, however, be it remembered, there are ranged names of the very highest eminence. If minor mathematicians have been infidels, Newton was a Christian; if inferior poets have despised revelation, Milton made it the theme of his eulogy; and if ordinary linguists have employed their skill in neutralizing the scheme of human redemption, Clarke, who has, not without cause, been pronounced to be a universal scholar and an ocean of learning, made all his acquirements subservient to the confirmation and exposition of that scheme, and to the glory of its great author. But the principle on which the Doctor would have defended his assertion, is this: that, other things being equal, the Christian's mind is divested of those cares and perturbations which more or less will insinuate themselves into the study of the most abstracted scholar, who has not fled for refuge to the hope of the Gospel. Not only is the man who has been adopted into the favor of God freed from those things which would impede his studies, by disturbing his peace, or by debasing his mind; but he is encouraged and assisted by the grace and the blessing of Christ: for, convinced that studies which are not connected with religion, or which do not ultimately lead the mind to God, can never be sanctified, he confines himself strictly to those pursuits upon which, as they are directed to the promotion of the Divine glory, he can confidently expect the Divine benediction.

    This was the principle that, from the period to which we have conducted him, guided the studies of Adam Clarke. He now added to his other pursuits that of the science of astronomy; but, except by the actual inspection of the heavens through a telescope which was given to him, he acquired his knowledge from Derham's Astro-theology, which also he did not read but in connection with the Bible. To this he added the perusal of Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation, from which he derived more particular information; and it led him to the study of natural philosophy. By the aid of Kersey's and Martin's Dictionaries, he conquered the technicalities of his learned authors; and the result of their perusal was, to extend his knowledge, and strengthen his conviction of the universal and co-ordinate greatness and goodness of God.

    That his religion was of the right kind, was proved by the fact, that it sought to communicate itself to others. Churchman as his father was, Sunday was the only day on which he had family prayer, probably excusing himself on other days on the score of his multiplied scholastic and agricultural engagements. His son, however, had acquired different notions of the priority of duties; and he could not rest satisfied without the regular performance of family worship. He was given to understand, that, if his wishes were complied with, he must officiate; showing, that, separate from the other duties which required his attention, his father had a disinclination to the task which naturally devolved upon him as the head of his family. Some time elapsed before Adam could reconcile himself to the cross of praying before his father, his mother, and his sisters; but his convictions triumphed over his reluctance; and, having once undertaken the office, he continued to be their chaplain so long as he remained with them. "A prayerless family," says he, reflecting on this period of his life, "has God's curse. If the parents will not perform family prayer, if there be a converted child in the family, it devolves on him; and, should he refuse, he will soon lose the comforts of religion."

    Adam soon received his reward in the increase of spirituality among his relatives. His prayers, his conversation, and his example, made a serious impression on all of them. His sister Hannah entered the Methodist Society at the same time as he did. [13] The next fruit of his labor was his eldest sister, who carefully deferred joining the Methodists until she had become thoroughly convinced of the truth of their doctrines and the excellence of their discipline. [14] All the rest of the family became constant hearers of the Methodists, and most of them members of the Society; but Adam did not remain long enough beneath his father's roof to witness all the results of his instrumentality. His parents continued through life to entertain the Methodist preachers; and most of their children followed their example.

    Among his school-fellows as well as in his family, Adam was successfully employed in the hands of God. Andrew Coleman, his school-fellow and companion, was persuaded to hear the Methodist preachers; and he afterwards became one of their number. [15] But his course, though bright, was brief. Adam extended his efforts to his neighbors, and, indeed, went several miles into the country round about, exhorting all who heard him to turn to God. In these labors he spent the Sabbath; and, in all weathers, went regularly, on each return of that day, a distance of more than six miles to meet a class, which assembled so early, that, in the winter season, he must needs set out two hours before day. When he had met the class, he proceeded to the nearest village; and, entering the first open door, accosted the inmates with "Peace be to this house!" If they consented that he should pray with them and that the neighbors should be called in, he prayed accordingly, and offered a short exhortation. This done, he proceeded to another village, and repeated the same plan, and so on through the day. He has stated that he never met with a refusal. His youth, his seriousness, and the singularity of their combination, made a favorable impression, which his prayers and exhortations tended to deepen. In one day he not infrequently visited nine or ten villages, avoiding those which he had reason to believe would be supplied with preachers, and confining himself to such as would otherwise have been destitute of the Gospel invitation.

    While he was cheerfully engaged in these severe labors, his father, in compliance with his own wish, placed him under the care of an eminent mathematician, from whom he was to have learned some of the more ornamental branches of the mathematics. But all that he had time to acquire was a general knowledge of Dialling. This is worthy of mention, chiefly because the last act of a secular kind by which he endeavored to "gain his bread," was the manufacture of a small horizontal brass dial for a gentleman's garden, for which, though the charge was but five shillings and was applied for several times, he never got paid.

    In 1778, Adam conceived a desire to study French -- an acquisition so rare at that day in Ireland, that, in order to make it, he was obliged to leave home. His master was one Mr. Murphy, who kept his school in the church of Desart Martin, and which, desart-like, had not even the comfort of a fire, though in the depth of winter.

    The time at length arrived, when, in the estimation of his parents, it was necessary that he should be apprenticed to some branch of trade by which he might acquire a livelihood; and Mr. Francis Bennet, a linen-merchant, of Coleraine, and their kinsman, proposing to take him as an apprentice on advantageous terms, they readily embraced the offer. This was done in opposition to the opinion of all his religious friends, who were persuaded that Providence had designed him for the ministry. As for Adam himself, he was entirely passive. His master and he being mutually satisfied after a month's trial, they continued together. As the prospects of Adam's entanglement with trade increased, the opposition of those who thought he was destined to preach the Gospel grew the stronger; and they incessantly exhorted him not to bind himself to Mr. Bennet. He communicated these things to his parents; but, as they had not the means of sending him to college, and as with their kinsman he had the opportunity of gaining a competency, they peremptorily insisted on his remaining. Eleven months had elapsed, and yet he was not bound. Though passive in the first instance, he now began to have his opinion. He saw reason to fear that he could not with a clear conscience perform several things which were required of him in the way of business; and it was evident, that, in attending fairs and markets to buy linen from the weavers, he would be much exposed to the dangers arising from indiscriminate society.

    We are indebted to Mr. Moore for having thrown light upon the otherwise inexplicable conscientious fears of his friend and brother. Before he states the origin, he remarks, "Some, perhaps, will think it a small thing; but he that despiseth small things, shall fall by little and little. We should take care how we offend against a tender conscience; and that even though it be a sore conscience, though it be too tender; for conscience is a great thing with God." He then proceeds as follows:-- "I knew Mr. Bennet very well, being very intimate with him: he was what the world called a very good sort of man -- a man that feared God, and was highly respected for his moral character. Adam and he went on for some time very comfortably, and Mr. Bennet was much pleased with him. This is mentioned in the published account, but not the cause of young Clarke leaving him. I am happy to detail it. Mr. Bennet and he were one day engaged in measuring a piece of linen, preparatory to the great market in Dublin. They found that piece wanted some inches of a yard at the end. 'Come, Adam,' says Mr. Bennet, 'lay hold, and pull against me; and we shall soon make it come up to the yard.' But he little knew with whom he had to deal. Adam dropped the linen on the ground, and stood and looked like one benumbed. 'What's the matter?' said Mr. Bennet. 'Sir,' he replied, 'I can't do it: I think it is a wrong thing.' Mr. Bennet urged, that it was done every day; that it would not make the linen any the worse; and that the process through which it had passed, had made it shrink a little; and concluded by bidding him take hold! 'No,' says Adam, 'no.' Mr. Bennet was a very placid man; and they entered calmly into dispute. At last, he was obliged to give it up: Adam would not consent to meddle with it; he thought it was not fair. It did not suit the standard of his conscience."

    While considerations arising from his tenderness of conscience, and his dread of the danger of worldly associations, were revolving in his mind, Mr. John Bredin, an eccentric man, but a preacher of considerable talent, who was then on the Coleraine and Londonderry circuit, paid him many attentions, by lending him books and giving him instructions; and, believing that God had called his youthful friend to the work of the ministry, this eminent preacher wrote to Mr. John Wesley concerning him. That great man immediately offered to take Adam for a time into Kingswood School, near Bristol, where be might add to his classical and other knowledge, and, by preaching occasionally in the neighborhood, qualify himself for the important duties of an itinerant preacher. This proposal, also, was communicated to his parents, who did not merely receive it with dissatisfaction, but rejected it with indignation -- a proof how little even parents are qualified to judge of the best interests of their children. Gold and silver were not the kind of riches which Adam was destined to accumulate; but, as the sequel will show, he was destined to dive deeper than all his predecessors into that "depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God," which is "unsearchable."

    Of this he had a presentiment. Accordingly, when Mr. Bennet, having ascertained his disinclination to the linen trade, offered to advance him money to enable him to embark in some other branch of trade, he gratefully declined the offer, taking the precaution to conceal it from his parents. Whether he acted consistently with his filial obligations in so doing, may be doubted; but this act in one whose impressions of filial duty were so deep, proves that the bent of his mind was towards the work in which he afterwards engaged.

    Though the immediate end of his residence with Mr. Bennet was not answered, the period of their connection was not lost time. He had the advantage of sitting under able preachers, and of associating with intelligent and pious Christians. Among his chief friends were, Mr. Robert Douthitt, Messrs. Andrew and William Hunter, Mr. John McKenny, whose son is now a Missionary in Ceylon, and Miss Younge, who afterwards married Mr. Rutherford. This amiable lady was remembered by him with much esteem, especially because she lent him two books from which he derived much spiritual advantage, These were, Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest, and Brainerd's Journal. "If I continue to be a Christian," he observes, "I owe it, under God, to the former; and, if ever I was a preacher, I owe it, under the same grace, to the latter." From Mr. Rutherford's preaching, also, he derived great good; for he was a man whose precepts were well enforced by his example.

    But all was not thus smooth with him. One of his master's maids was a very profane person, and evinced a deadly hatred towards him, entirely on account of his religion. He frequently expostulated with her; and, at length, the grace of God arrested her, and, after passing through great agony of mind from the strength of her convictions, she found redemption in the blood of the Lamb. Her subsequent conduct, both immediately and after the lapse of a great number of years, attested the soundness of her conversion.

    Nor were the persecutions of this woman the only cross which the young Christian was called to endure. In his master's house was an old female relative, who, bedridden and helpless, was neglected by those who ought to have waited upon her. Adam was accustomed to visit her nightly, that he might converse and pray with her. But this was not all that he did. During several months he performed offices for her which were probably such (for he did not deem it proper to specify them) as none but those of her own sex ought to have performed. At length she died, and he was relieved from an oppressive load, "under which (he declared) nothing but the grace of God, working on a nature full of benevolence and charity, could have supported him." He felt himself constrained, young as he was, to reprove sin, whenever committed in his presence. If the sinner was his inferior, he spoke to him at once; if his equal, he sought an early opportunity of speaking to him in private; if his superior, he wrote to him, always signing his name. He did not do this from forwardness of disposition; but it was a burden upon his conscience. In those times, indeed, the Methodists in general, but particularly the preachers and their wives, held it a sacred duty (as most assuredly it is) not to suffer sin upon their brother. Many was the delicate and helpless woman that rebuked the daring sinner in the highways, she standing alone, and he surrounded by his applauding companions; but we fear that there are now very few of either sex who feel constrained thus to deny themselves and take up their cross daily.

    But the principles which regulate moral conduct, if they are often denied their just influence, are sometimes pushed beyond their proper limits. Conscientiousness, without the curb of a sanctified reason, may degenerate into superstition. This was the case with Adam Clarke, as it has been with many young men of ardent dispositions. By fasting and abstinence, he reduced his body to a skeleton; and his regard to truth became so scrupulous, that it issued in a moral disease. There is a sense in which regard to truth cannot be over-scrupulous; but of truth, in this sense, we are not speaking. Adam was not satisfied with intending to speak the truth, which is the utmost that even the law of God, which requires truth in the inward parts, has made obligatory. It would seem as if his own experience of the boundless mercy of God, had not sufficed to correct the tendency of his mind, inspired by his good mother, to view God exclusively as a being of truth and justice. So completely was he awe-stricken by the contemplation of these attributes of the Deity, that he became painfully afraid of speaking, lest he should utter words which were not perfectly and indubitably true. By this means he acquired the habit of qualifying all his assertions, or, rather, what ought to have been such. He thought that he had done, and he believed that he had heard, things, concerning the doing and hearing of which there was no doubt, except in his own morbid mind. He distrusted both his memory and his senses. The former, as if resenting the affront, ceased to add to the number of its records, though it effaced none that were already made; and the latter served for personal preservation only. In a word, Bishop Berkeley might have traversed the globe (if he could have been persuaded of the existence of such a thing) without finding so promising a disciple. But he was not unconscious of the perplexities in which this miserable state of mind involved him. He was laying his case before one of the Methodist preachers but the good man treated him as a madman, or as one going mad. Discouraged by this reception, he kept his own counsel. He prayed much; but, immediately forgetting that he had done so, he prayed again. Sometimes he omitted to do what he had been ordered to do, and sometimes he returned to do what he had already performed.

    With all his dubiety, he was comparatively a happy skeptic: for he never doubted the being of God, or the truth of Scripture. While his Christian experience, saving the very foundations, was thus in ruins, he still punctually used the means of grace; and at last they became to him the means of re-edification. At the prayer-meeting, one of those who officiated besought the Lord, that, if there were any present against whom the accuser of the brethren had stood up, he would succor that soul, and cast down the accuser. The petition was eagerly appropriated by young Clarke, who had always considered his deplorable condition as the result of Satanic malevolence; and, as he echoed the words of the speaker, with a strong confidence in God, the consolations of Divine grace revisited his breast. The ruins of his memory were repaired by the use of outward means. On one occasion, as, according to custom, he was speaking of something which he had done as though he had not done it. Mr. Bennet interrupted him with a declaration, that he (Adam) had not a particle of memory remaining. Like Robert Hall, when told that he had preached a sermon from which it was evident that his powers were decaying, Adam was roused by the words, and seemed to awaken from a trance. In the experiment which followed, he was less successful than that illustrious preacher, who, in his next sermon, gave the strongest practical refutation to the alarming inference; for it was not without repeated efforts that his memory recovered even a small part of its former retentiveness. In process of time, however, it became as good as was necessary in order to usefulness, though never so powerful as in former days. This, however, Dr. Clarke, who had the happy faculty of seeing good in every thing, was far from regretting. Had he remembered words as before, instead of retaining ideas only as now, he might, he thought, have been betrayed into the lazy and dishonest habit of retailing the compositions of other men instead of his own. Through distrust of his memory, he was also driven to the severer exercise of higher faculties, in the composition and study of his sermons, and, above all, to that which is necessary to make any sermon useful, the Divine assistance; for, to use his own words, though he had preached, perhaps, five thousand sermons, he never knew before-hand one single sentence that he should utter.

    Dr. Clarke considered the singular state to which his mind had been reduced, as having contributed, like every other temptation and trial, to the formation of his ministerial character. He viewed affliction, in all its various forms, not merely as a means of personal improvement to him who is the subject of it; but, in the case of ministers, and of candidates for the ministry, as necessary to qualify them for the due discharge of their office towards those whom they may find similarly afflicted.

    He who is to be a judge of so many cases of conscience, should clearly understand them. But is this possible, unless he have passed through those states and circumstances on which these cases are founded?" Certainly not; and thus it was that the preacher to whom he himself resorted for advice, treated his singular alienation as a common case of lunacy.

    Such is the history of Adam's spiritual life while with Mr. Bennet. He parted with that gentleman in the most friendly manner, and corresponded with him till his death.

    * * * * * * *


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