BOOK 2, CH. 9,
THE CIRCUIT MINISTER
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THE CIRCUIT MINISTER
The Conference assembled at Manchester. It was the forty-eighth, and for the first time they met without the presence of him who had been their earthly head. The apostle of England had finished his glorious course on the second of March, revered by an innumerable multitude of good men.
Serious fears had been entertained by many true friends of the Methodist cause, that this event would prove fatal to its unity, and even endanger its existence. Soon, however, these apprehensions were shown to be groundless. Methodism, a visible work of God, abides and prospers, when individual men, however honored in having been employed by him as the agents of His great purposes of mercy, are called from the labors of this life to their eternal repose. The preachers were brought more than ever to feel their dependence on the adorable Head of the church, who liveth evermore. Such being their frame of mind, they were now cheered in their sorrow by tokens of His presence who has said, “Fear not, for I am with you.” To a brief memorial prefixed to the Minutes of this Conference, while they confess to the Societies their inability to represent adequately their feelings on account of their “great loss,” they express their solemn purpose and hope that they “shall give the most substantial proofs of their veneration for the memory of their most esteemed father and friend, by endeavoring with great humility and diffidence to follow and imitate him in doctrine, discipline, and life.”
The cause for which Wesley lived and labored thus survived him. His wise prevision had secured for the ministers as a body, by the Deed of Declaration, a legal status in the country; and had consolidated and insured the ecclesiastical property of the Connection for the sole purposes for which it had been created, the existence and sustentation [sustaining maintenance] of simple, pure, and evangelic agencies for the salvation of the people. Among the preachers, too, there were many who had grown old with him in the work; and to them their brethren looked up with ingenuous and openhearted confidence. From among these one was now selected as the presidential head of the Connection for the current year; and this honor fell upon the Rev. William Thompson, a man venerable for piety, wisdom, and ability. The office of secretary was conferred on the Rev. Dr. Coke. All the acts of the Conference were distinguished by a single-minded purpose to do all to the supreme glory of God. “I have been,” said Mr. Clarke, “at several Conferences; but have never seen one in which the spirit of unity, love, and a sound mind, so generally prevailed. I would have this intelligence transmitted from Dan to Beersheba, and let the earth know that the dying words of our revered father have their accomplishment, — ‘The Lord is with us.’” Mr. Clarke’s new station was Manchester. The favor had been offered him of making his own choice of a Circuit; but this he declined, — anxious, as he said, that God should station him. Having his lot providentially fixed at Manchester, he was enabled in the two following years to avail himself repeatedly of the benefit of the waters at Buxton, which contributed in a good degree to the reinstatement of his health. Of the great utility of those waters, especially in rheumatic affections, he ever after expressed a high opinion.
Mrs. Clarke and her little ones arrived in Liverpool after a long passage, through a stormy sea, which had caused no small anxiety to her husband, who was waiting daily for them “in great misery,” to use his own words, “in consequence of the prolonged voyage of my wife and children, who, I had reason to fear, were swallowed up in the great deep. Twice every day for a week I went down to the dock to look out for the Dublin packet, which contrary winds had detained at sea. At length, while standing on the quay one evening. the vessel, to my inexpressible joy, hove in sight: I beheld my Mary and the children upon deck, and hailed them as from the dead. I got on board as soon as possible, and found the little ones almost starved; for, owing to the tediousness of the voyage, being several days on the water, all provision had been for some time expended. I instantly took Adam, (I had an Adam then,) on one arm, and John on the other; and, running with them into a baker’s shop, gave to each a twopenny loaf, and in an instant their little faces were almost buried in them. I then hastened with something to my wife; and we walked to a home, no longer desolate to me, blessing the God of all mercy for the protection he had extended while in the midst of peril and distress.”
At the custom-house he had much annoyance from the reckless exorbitance of the officials, who turned his boxes of books inside out, charged him threepence per pound for the classical works, and five pounds for a philosophical instrument! At length, however, the re-united family found themselves settled in their new abode; and Mr. Clarke, with such strength as he had, addressed himself to the duties of the opening year.
Hitherto he had traveled with men who, though pious and faithful preachers of the Gospel, do not appear to have been distinguished by extraordinary ability. It was now Mr. Clarke’s lot to be associated with two colleagues whose names have a well-deserved renown in the Methodist world, for the splendor of their talents, and the importance of their services to the cause to which they were consecrated. Mr. Bradburn was, confessedly, one of the most accomplished orators of the day, a man of expansive mind and generous impulses of heart, though not free from the eccentricities which often reveal themselves in persons of genius. On the other hand, in Mr. Benson, the church possessed a minister remarkable not only for great fervency of spirit, but also for an almost imperturbable correctness of judgment, and an affluence of theological learning which placed him in the highest order of divines. Very few men have been better read in the Greek Testament, and few commentators have given so clear an exposition of it. But it was in the pulpit that he brought those gifts and graces to bear, with the most signal effect, upon the great end of all, the salvation of souls. His ministry was transcendently apostolic. With many disadvantages of person and voice, he exercised a like lofty sway over assemblages comprising intellects of every grade. While Benson preached, the scholar and the peasant bowed in common before the majesty of truth, which, in plain, unadorned English phrases, awoke them as with the thunder-storms of Sinai, or melted them as with the voice from the cross. With fellow-laborers like these, whose names were in the book of life, Mr. Clarke would no doubt find all the soul that was within him roused into lawful emulation and holy sympathy.
Yet there appears to have been one drawback. He could not feel free to coincide with them as to the line he considered they were taking in respect to the grand political question of the times. The bloody drama of the French revolution was then unfolding scene after scene of horror. Two classes of opinions on this great crisis held sway on our side of the Channel. One school of political men, represented by Fox, seemed to hear in the groans of wholesale murders, which the winds wafted to our shores, only the death-pangs of tyranny, and the transient throes that were destined to usher in an era of permanent liberty and repose; while men of another class, represented by Burke, horror-struck at the ghastly realities of the present, were incapable of gathering any augury [portent, foretoken] of good for the future from a seed-time so portentously evil: The riots at Birmingham, caused by the Gallo-mania of Dr. Priestley and his adherents, and the general tendency among the masses to be led away by the dogmas of Paine, as the French had been by those of Voltaire, served to bring the threatening evil home to our very thresholds. The Bible society was thus perturbed to its foundations, with “distress of nations” and “perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that were coming on the earth,” it seems to have been impossible, nay, it would have been a guilty breach of duty, for the watchman in the pulpit to hold his peace. But then uniformity of doctrine could not be well expected on matters like these; and the counsels delivered from the sacred desk took a tinge from the sentiments, antagonistic to each other, which through the long hours of many a night were then reasoned out in the Senate. Messrs. Benson and Bradburn differed, undoubtedly, in their modes of treating this grave problem; but certainly not to that extent which might be inferred from the hastily-written terms in Dr. Clarke’s statement of the matter: — “It was the lot of Mr. Clarke to be associated at this time with two eminent men, who unfortunately took opposite sides of this great political question; one pleading for the lowest republicanism, while the other exhausted himself in maintaining the Divine right of kings and regular governments to do what might seem right in their own eyes, the people at large having nothing to do with the laws but to obey them. His soul was grieved at this state of things; but he went calmly on his way, preaching Christ crucified for the redemption of a lost world: and, though his abilities were greatly inferior to those of his colleagues, his congregations were equal to theirs, and his word more abundantly useful.
Political preachers neither convert souls nor build up believers on their most holy faith. One may pique himself on his loyalty, and another on his liberality; but, in the sight of the Great Head of the church, the first is a sounding brass, the second a tinkling cymbal When preachers of the Gospel become parties in party politics, religion mourns; the church is unedified, and political disputes agitate even the faithful of the land. Such preachers, no matter which side they take, are no longer the messengers of glad tidings, but the seedsmen of confusion, and wasters of the heritage of Christ. Though Mr. Clarke had fully made up his mind on the politics of the day, and never swerved from his Whig [the British reforming and constitutional party that after 1688 sought the supremacy of Parliament] principles, yet in the pulpit there was nothing heard from him but Christ crucified, and the salvation procured by His blood.”
It must be confessed there is a tone of unkindness about this paragraph, very unlike the magnanimity of Dr. Clarke, which indicates that his mind at this time was under some influence, to us unknown, which, in regard to this particular subject, beclouded his usually clear judgment. In the opinion he has expressed on the conduct of his colleagues, he was undoubtedly mistaken: or, to use the words of a former biographer, “he was not sufficiently guarded in his expressions. It may be true that Messrs.
Bradburn and Benson ranged themselves on opposite sides; that Mr. Bradburn took his stand on the side of Liberty, and Mr. Benson on that of Order: but there is no evidence to prove that the one was so violent a champion of legitimacy, or the other so determined an advocate of the lowest republicanism, as Dr. Clarke represents them to have been. Both these celebrated ministers may have been betrayed by a well-meant zeal into the occasional introduction of their political speculations into the pulpit; but it is monstrous to suppose that from Sabbath to Sabbath they carried on a systematic warfare. Mr. Clarke must have been misled by the reports of ignorant or designing men, who, being themselves, perhaps, violent partisans, tinged everything with the deep hue of their own excitement; for, while discharging his own duties with the zeal with which he always did discharge them, he could not be engaged in collecting the evidence upon which he founded his statement. Mr. Bradburn, indeed, published a sermon on ‘Equality,’ in which his prime end was to show, ‘that a firm adherence to the principles of unlimited religious liberty was perfectly consistent with a steadfast attachment to the king, whom he earnestly prayed God to bless, and to the civil constitution, which an itself was excellent, and of which he highly approved.’ ‘ If there had been no such scripture,’ he remarks, ‘as that which commands us to honor the king, we,’ the Methodists, ‘as a people, have reason to love King George, and to be pleased with the civil government.’ To such an extent, indeed, did Mr. Bradburn carry his views of loyalty, that he maintained it to be the duty of the Methodists ‘to be loyal, were a Pagan upon the throne;’ for, he adds,’ what with some is mere policy, is with us a case of conscience.’ The whole scope of the discourse is to expose the leveling politics which were then so warmly advocated.” On the other hand, Mr. Benson found himself moving in a population among which infidelity and republicanism were making victims of the same men in increasing numbers every week. Paine and Voltaire had indoctrinated them not only with hatred to King George, but with hatred to Jesus Christ. In these circumstances he surely did not depart from his duty, but fulfilled it, in warning his bearers against the horrid contamination to which they were exposed, and in reasoning with those who were too likely to be misguided, in order to show them the better way. Mr. Benson’s ministry was one of almost matchless power, as the day of revelation will declare. There is little hazard in affirming that he was incapable of mixing up party politics with the momentous matters proper to the pulpit; — a course which would have merited all the severe reprehension conveyed in the foregoing extract.
Mr. Clarke’s health had not yet become sufficiently confirmed to prevent occasional relapses of illness. After one of those seasons, he writes to his friend Mr. Mather, that December and January had been trying months. “I dreaded the time of meeting the classes, as this always exceedingly hurts me, and cried to God for support. Glory be to God! that work is now done; and I have been heard in that I feared. There is a good work among the people. Many are stirred up to seek purity of heart, and two men at our last public bands gave a clear, rational account of a complete deliverance from all evil tempers and desires, in consequence of which they have constant communion with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They have enjoyed this glorious liberty about two months. As the Lord has condescended to make me the instrument of their happy deliverance from an evil heart, it is a great encouragement for me to proceed in my work. There are some here who ridicule the mention of a work of this kind. They know best from whom they have learned to do so; but God enables me to bear down prejudice by a number of arguments deduced from His nature and promises. I look on this doctrine as the greatest honor of Methodism, and the glory of Christ.
The Almighty forbid it should ever cease among us!”
Notwithstanding the turbulent character of the times, and the differences which prevailed in the Societies on the question of service in church-hours, and others arising from the anomalous [having an irregular or deviant feature; abnormal] position which Methodism then held with regard to the Establishment, the interests of religion were sustained and promoted in the Circuit; and, among other good enterprises, a Strangers’ Friend Society was set in active operation. “Mr. Clarke and I,” writes Mr. Bradburn, “have instituted a new charity, called the Strangers’ Friend Society. It succeeds beyond our most sanguine [optimistic] expectations. We have many pounds in hand. It is certainly very affecting to hear of the good done every week by it.” These two servants of the same Master, the longer they lived together, liked one another the better. “Mr. Clarke,” says Bradburn, “is a choice companion, when known: he is all in all as my own soul.” O n the other side, Clarke had the greatest admiration for his colleague’s talents. “Put them all together,” said he, referring to several distinguished men, “he was not like any of them; they would not all of them make such a man. He was like no man but himself. I never knew one with so great a command of language.”
In the house in which Mr. Clarke lived in Manchester, he left a memorial of his veneration for Mr. Wesley, in an inscription written with a diamond’s point on a pane of glass in his study window, — “Good men need not marble: I dare trust glass with the memory of John Wesley, A.M., 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 revived 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 2, 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 term of the Manchester appointment expired in July, 1793; and a new scene of labor opened to him in the Liverpool Circuit. As in Dublin, so in Manchester, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke had to leave one of their children a tenant of the grave. Their little son, Adam, was taken from them by a disease of the throat. The loss of this favorite child was always a tender grief in Dr. Clarke’s mind, nor could he be persuaded to give his own Christian name again to either of the sons who were afterward added to his family.
John Pawson, a man of saintly life, and greatly revered in the Methodist communion, both by preachers and people. With this much-loved and devoted servant of Christ be worked in perfect harmony, and the pleasure of the Lord prospered in their hands. Comfortably renovated in health, and with the dew of the Divine Spirit descending daily upon his soul, he gave himself to earnest study, the visitation of the afflicted, and unremitted preaching in town and country; his days now gliding serenely on. The Circuit at that time was more extensive than at present, and many of the places were at great distances. The traveling Mr. Clarke accomplished in general on foot; and on that account, preferring always, if possible, to return home, his journeys after preaching were often late at night. On one occasion, in returning from Aintree in company with his brother Tracy, two Roman Catholics, who had heard him preach, lay in wait for him. One of t hem from behind the hedge threw a stone of more than a pound weight at his head, with such force that it cut through his hat, and inflicted a deep wound. His brother lifted him from the ground, and carried him to a cottage hard by, bleeding profusely. He dressed the wound, and then went in pursuit of the men, whom he found in a public-house. Upon being charged with the offence, each accused the other. Mr. Tracy Clarke succeeded in having them apprehended, and returned to his brother. Here he found that the people of the cottage were Romanists themselves; and that, on learning the facts of the case, they had expressed their strong approval of the outrage, and their wishes that it had proved fatal to the preacher. In these circumstances it was judged best, ill as he was, that he should be removed from so inhospitable a refuge, and taken to his brother’s house at Maghull; from whence, the next day, the picture of death, with his hair and clothes still covered with blood,” he was brought home to his alarmed wife. The illness caused by this affair consumed more than a month of his valuable time, and even threatened for a while to terminate in death. On recovering, he refused to prosecute, the men binding themselves to refrain from similar conduct. He learned, however, in after-days, that both of them, by progressive breaches of the law, had ultimately come to an evil end.
Mr. Clarke’s place of residence in Liverpool was badly situated on a clay soil, where in those days extensive operations in brickmaking were carried on. 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 was very forcible: “The house is small, the street in which it stands miserable, the neighborhood wretchedly poor and 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 reply. “Well, but where is it?” was the reiterated question. He answered, “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.” The Society, however, it must be said to their honor, afterwards released him from that locality, and removed his home to one of the best parts of th e town.
In the second year of the Liverpool appointment, Mr. Clarke’s father and mother came to reside in that part of England; his father having undertaken to conduct a classical school at Manchester. They were thus brought into the vicinity of their two excellent sons, the one a healer of the body, and the other an increasingly-honored minister of Him who can save the soul; each of them in his department a hard-working man, and each of them blessed in his deed.
At the close of the year, Mr. Clarke attended the Conference, which was held at Bristol. The great Methodist question of that time involved the celebration of service in church-hours, and the administration of the sacraments in the chapels. Some few of the preachers, and more of the leading trustees in the principal Circuits, were adverse to these measures, but the majority of the preachers, and the great body of the people, were in favor of them. The more formal secession of Methodism as in ecclesiastical organization from the Established Church, indicated by such movements, had been from year to year becoming a necessary consequence of the circumstances which compose its early history. We should recollect that what may be called the first generation of Methodists did not by any means consist of members of the Church of England. A minority of them were such; others had been accustomed to hear the Gospel among the Nonconformists; but the greater mass of them were persons who had belonged to no church, and many of them had not even been baptized.
They had been saved from ruin by being gathered out of the world, and brought into the fellowship of the people of God. Now, the duty of the parochial clergy was to cherish this hopeful movement among the lower orders of the people, to cheer on their adventurous brethren who had gone out into the waste places to bring the wanderers home to Christ, and to receive into the fold of the Church these newly-awakened souls: but, by a marvelous infatuation, they repelled them. From the primate, Archbishop Potter, who hinted excommunication to the Wesleys, — and the bishops, Warburton and Lavington, who assailed them and their people with reproaches and sarcasms, — down to the most obscure country parson who raised the rabble of his parish to disturb their worship and maltreat their preachers, — persecution of the Methodists on the part of the Church was the order of the day. “Now it was,” says Mr. Wesley, in a paper addressed to the clergy themselves, “that the bishops began to speak against us, either in conversation or in public; and, on this encouragement, the clergy stirred up the people to treat us as outlaws or mad dogs. The people did so, both in Staffordshire, Cornwall, and many other places; and they still do so, wherever they are not restrained by their fear of the secular magistrate.”
We have said, that many of the people gathered in by the preachers were not even baptized: they were brought to the parish church, therefore, that they might then be numbered among the legitimate communicants. They were refused a welcome. On what ground? Because there were too many of them! “Oct. 13th, I waited,” says Mr. Charles Wesley, “with my brother upon a minister, about baptizing some of his parish. He complained heavily of the multitude of our communicants, and produced the canon against strangers. He could not admit that as a reason for their coming to his church, that they had no sacrament at their own. I offered my assistance to lessen his trouble, but he declined it. There were a hundred of new communicants, he told us, last Sunday; some of whom, he said, came out of spite to him. We bless God for this cause of offence, and pray it may never be removed!” So, when such multitudes had been converted in the city and neighborhood of Bristol, “the brothers pressed the people to attend the religious services of the National Church, and set the example themselves. The clergy in Bristol at first complained of the increase of their labor in the administration of the Lord’s supper. When they found that complaints addressed to the ‘intruders’ were of no avail, and that the inconvenience rather increased than diminished, they entered into an agreement among themselves to repel from the Lord’s table both the Wesleys and the people whom they brought to church.” Who, then, can wonder that the Methodist people were constrained to seek the consolations of Christ’s sacraments from the hands of the men to whom, under God, they owed the salvation of their souls? But while the mass of the people thus wished for the holy rites to be administered in their own chapels, a considerable number of persons in the Societies were for retaining inviolate the original ideal of union and communion with the Church. Among these latter were many of the trustees, who now, at this Conference of 1794, assembled in imposing strength, to bring the preachers to decide that the practice of administering the sacraments should be abrogated. The latter, however, declined to do violence to the consciences of the multitude of the members who were in favor of it. In this view Mr. Clarke, churchman as he was, perfectly coincided. And, from what appears in some letters of his, written from the Conference, the spirit and conduct of the trustees were not marked by irrational or unchristian obstinacy; a nd though great fears had been entertained about a schismatic rupture in the Connection, the question was so far amicably adjusted, that the Societies who requested the privilege of the sacraments were set at full liberty to enjoy them. On August 2nd, he writes: “We have this morning an answer from the trustees to our answer to their address. They rise in their demands. A committee appointed to treat with them today at four o’clock.
Mr. Pawson and I are of it. “August 3rd. — We met yesterday at three, and continued till near eight. We settled matters wonderfully well, and are in a fair train for restoring peace, even in London. The privilege granted last year of receiving the sacrament where the people are unanimous, will, I believe, be very little extended this year. “August 5th. — We are still in peace, but the sacramental and ordination matters are not yet finally adjusted. The sacrament will be allowed this year where the people are unanimous in asking for it, and where it would be impossible to preserve a great majority of the Society without it. “August 7th. — All is peace and harmony, and will be so. In a much better sense than the Frenchmen can, we may say, The Methodist preachers are ‘One and Indivisible.’ No thanks to the devil and his partisans; for they have done all they could to disunite us.” “The Lichfield business has been brought forward, and a vote passed, that none of its propositions should be brought forward or noticed. As things go, I am well satisfied.”
This last sentence refers to a private synod of some of the ministers held in the city of Lichfield, in the preceding April, on the invitation of Dr. Coke, to consult on the best means of meeting the growing wishes of the Societies for the full ordinances of the Christian church, after the manner most in accordance with the apostolic constitutions delivered in the New Testament. The doctor, who had already officiated in America as one of the first bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, made a proposition to this meeting, as a preliminary to a similar overture to the coming Conference, that the Methodist ministry should henceforward comprise the three orders of superintendents, (bishops,) presbyters, and deacons: a proposition which was afterwards in some good degree carried out, though under another nomenclature. At that time, as already intimated, it fell to the ground.
As many exaggerated and erroneous accounts have been given of this Lichfield meeting, I will here give Mr. Clarke’s own notes of it, taken on the spot. I have transcribed them from his autograph made in the room at the time.
“MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD AT LICHFIELD, APRIL 2D, 1794.
1. A PROMISE of secrecy.
3. We will make no avowed separation from the Church of England.
4. The sacrament of the Lord’s supper shall be administered wherever there is a majority of the Society who desire it: but the preachers must not canvass for votes, or do anything to obtain a majority which may lead to division or strife; nor should the Lord’s supper be administered in any chapel where a majority of the trustees are against it, except a fair and full indemnification be afforded them for all the debt for which they are responsible, supposing they require such indemnity.
5. That there be an order of superintendents, appointed by the Conference.
7. That the preachers when admitted into full connection shall receive their admission by being ordained deacons by the superintendents appointed by the Conference: provided, (1.) That no preacher at present on probation, or in full connection, shall be under an obligation to submit to ordination; (2.) That no preacher shall receive letters of orders till he have been ordained an elder.
8. That the superintendents appointed among us by the Conference be annually changed, if it see good.
9. That the Connection be formed into seven or eight divisions.
10. That each superintendent shall visit the principal Societies in his division, at least once a year. That he shall have authority to execute, or see executed, all the branches of the Methodist discipline; and to determine, after having consulted the preachers who are with him, in all cases of difficulty, till the Conference.
11. That the superintendent of any division, where he judges himself inadequate to determine in any given case, shall have authority to call in the president to his assistance; in which case the president shall, if possible, attend, and shall have the ultimate determination of the case till the next Conference.
12. The divisions for the present:
— “LONDON: Sussex, Canterbury, Godalming, Norwich, Yarmouth, Diss, St. Ives, Bury, Colchester, Lynn, Walsingham, Bedford, Higham Ferrers. “ (2.) BRISTOL: Bath, Portsmouth, Sarum, Isles, Bradford, Gloucester, Taunton, Collumpton, Plymouth, St. Austel, Redruth, Penzance. “ (3.) BIRMINGHAM: Oxford, Worcester, Pembroke, Glamorgan, Brecon, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Burslem. “ (4.) MANCHESTER: Macclesfield, Leek, Stockport, &c. “ (5.) SHEFFIELD: Nottingham, Northampton, Banbury, &c. “ (6.) LEEDS. (7.) NEWCASTLE. (8.) SCOTLAND, IRELAND, the NORMAN ISLES.
“Proposed superintendents: Dr. Coke, Dr. Mather, Dr. Pawson, Dr. Taylor, Dr. Moore, Mr. Hanby, Mr. Bradburn.
“Persons present: T. Coke, Alex. Mather, Thos. Taylor, John Pawson, Saml. Bradburn, Jas. Rogers, Henry Moore, Adam Clarke.
“The whole of the above plan to be laid before the ensuing Conference, to be adopted or rejected as they may think proper: but those present agree to recommend and support it as a thing greatly wanted, and likely to be of much advantage to the work of God.”
To return to more personal and private matters.
- With his superintendent, Mr. Pawson, Mr. Clarke had spent two happy years at Liverpool; and he had formed for that excellent man an esteem which endured with his life, and survived his decease. In the letters written to Mrs. Clarke from the Bristol Conference, he repeatedly refers to their venerable superintendent, his preaching, and his health: — e. g., “Mr. Pawson is pretty well. I am just returned from hearing him at Portland chapel. He preached an excellent sermon indeed. Most of the preachers think him the best in the Conference. I keep him to his bark, and hope the swelling of his feet will not increase.”
And again: “I keep him to his bark and wine, twice a day; and though he growls at me for it, I never mind him. Tell Mrs. Pawson she has nothing to fear.” — These expressions show the friendly terms on which these two good men lived, who were now to part. Of Mr. Pawson, as the friend of Clarke, we shall have to speak again.
In the review of his residence at Liverpool, Mr. Clarke’s mind was filled with tender gratitude to the Lord and Giver of life, “from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed,” for the mercy shown him in being enabled thus to employ his days in a work so holy. “Upon the very commencement of my preaching in Liverpool,” says he, “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 have 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 in 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, an d the shout of a King is in our camp.”