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  • THE LIFE OF THE REV. ADAM CLARKE:
    BOOK 3, CH. 4,
    THE PREACHER AND PASTOR CONTINUED

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    CHAPTER 4

    THE PREACHER AND PASTOR CONTINUED

    By the Conference of 1801 Mr. Clarke was appointed for the second time to the Liverpool Circuit. A Methodist minister is called to suffer more than many other men, from the breaking up of that friendly intercourse with congenial minds which yields so much consolation to our life. In Bristol, during the last three years, old friendships had been more strongly confirmed, and new ones, both in the circles of religion and of literature, contracted, which contributed to render this new exodus the more inconvenient to his personal feelings. In the present case, however, he had the advantage of coming among a people who were not unknown to him; by whom indeed, for his work’s sake in days that were past, he was welcomed now as a heartily-trusted friend, and by not a few of them revered as a messenger of the Lord.

    He entered on these renewed engagements with an intellect amplified by the studies and trials of the intervening years, and a heart more richly than ever replete with the graces which the Holy Spirit makes perfect in the faithful; but with a physical constitution too greatly enfeebled by exhaustion to grapple with the obligations of the Methodist itinerancy. He was often now taken suddenly ill, so as to be in an instant deprived of sensation; and on one occasion the seizure was so ominous, that his friends anticipated the most distressing results. He staggered on, however, with his work, both in the study and the Circuit, till in the following April he was obliged to be taken to London for the best medical advice. It is then that he announces to Mrs. Clarke the very serious view which an eminent practitioner took of his case: — “I went this morning with Mr. Butterworth to consult Mr. Pearson; who said, ‘You must totally cease from all mental and bodily exertion, except such as you may take in cultivating a garden, or riding on horseback. I know not whether your disease be not too far advanced to be cured. The ventricles of your heart are in a state of disease; and, if you do not totally and absolutely abstain from reading, writing, preaching, &c., you will die speedily, and you will die suddenly. Did I not believe you to be in such a state of mind as not to be hurt at this declaration, I would have suppressed it; but, as matters are, I deem it my duty to be thus explicit, and assure you that, if you do not wholly abstain for at least twelve months, you are a dead man! Now, my dear Mary, you must not believe all this; but we will talk the business over when I see you. If I find I cannot do my work, I will give it up. I will not feed myself to starve the church of God. I will seek out some other way of maintaining my wife and my children.” With this alternative, he was compelled to give some remission to his habitual efforts; and with such good effect, that at the following Conference he was enabled to contemplate the resumption of labor as not altogether unwarrantable, though with some hesitation about the locality, as Mrs. Clarke’s health was at that time in a precarious state. We have his views on both these subjects in a letter from the Bristol Conference in July, 1802: — “My Very Dear Mary, “My good brother Gibson’s letter this morning has brought no small pain to my mind, and my anxious uncertainty at times is almost unbearable. Unless a more favorable account come soon, I must set off for Liverpool. Those shiverings continued alarm me to the extreme. Mr. G. complains that few people call to see you; but of this I am heartily glad. In staying away they will show more kindness than by coming to see you. I know not what to say or do in my appointment. If I thought Liverpool prejudicial to your health, I would have you removed immediately: for myself I feel no manner of anxiety. I cannot realize my own danger, if I am in any.

    It is hidden from me. God prepare me for the worst! My brethren think there is little or nothing the matter with me; and I am determined to take up my whole work, and perform it, or die. This is my resolution, and from it I shall not move, God being my helper. Therefore I return to begin my work, as if I never had felt a pang of distress. You know my resolutions are not ye a and nay.

    But I must add, that when, having tried my strength to the uttermost, I feel I cannot do the whole of my work, I will not starve the work of God to feed myself; but get some other employment, by which I can support my family without burdening the cause of God.”

    They who wait upon the Lord renew their vigor. So found this brave servant of Christ. He went in the strength of the Lord God, making mention of His righteousness; and help came with every hour of duty. “The afflictions of this present” had the tendency to awaken him to more vivid perceptions of the things that are eternal; and the solemn review of life hitherto spent, and the ordeal to which, by the word of the Lord, he subjected the motives of his conduct, enabled him to thank God and take courage. “I came into the work,” says he, “with the purest motives, and now, probably standing on the brink of eternity, can say, no motive or end which I cannot acknowledge before God has ever influenced me for an hour. Notwithstanding my ignorance, which none could feel so much as myself, I have gotten wonderfully through, and have had as much favor in the sight of God’s people as was necessary for me to go on with some degree of success and comfort. The blessed God saw that he had sown a seed of uprightness in my so ul, which the weeds of sinister design or byends had never been permitted to impede the growth of, much less to choke. He has, therefore, preserved and blessed me for His own Name’s sake, and for the sake of that which, in eternal kindness, He had wrought and maintained in my heart.”

    As a means of edification to several intelligent Christian friends, and of assistance in the pursuit of knowledge in its higher branches to young men of intellectual aspirations, Mr. Clarke formed in Liverpool this year a literary and scientific association, which took the title of a “Philological Society.” This he regularly organized; and, among other helps to development, supplied it with a long series of Questions and Theses for examination. Of these, I give a few as specimens [not in numerical sequence]: —

    3. What is an essay? and are there any rules by which this species of composition should he regulated?

    12. Which of the arts and sciences can be proved to be most useful to mankind?

    13. In what arts and sciences do the moderns excel the ancients? and vice versa.

    9. Which is the most effectual way of disseminating useful knowledge among the lower ranks of society?

    22. What is the difference between the will and the affections? and how may we distinguish the operations of the one from those of th e other?

    21. What is conscience?

    38. What is the difference between Heathen virtue and Christian morality?

    4. What is the best method of bringing up children, so as to preserve their health, promote their growth, and improve their understanding?

    23. What is the best method of treating domestics?

    24. What is the best method of managing the thoughts?

    28. What are those arguments for Divine revelation which, all Christians assert, have not been and can never be refuted? What is an idea?

    Genius? Common sense? Enthusiasm? Sympathy? A gentleman? To what causes can the diversity of dialects in a living language be attributed?

    159. Required, an essay on the antiquity, genius, perfections, and utility of each of the following languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, German, and English; with an account of the most classical and important philological works in each.

    160. Required, a grammar of each of the above languages, that, in quantity of matter and simplicity of expression, shall be brought within the reach of the capacity of children.

    161. Required, short, plain, comprehensive treatises on the elements of arithmetic, geography, astronomy, geometry, &c.; for the use of the rising generation, and especially adapted to the circumstances of the children of the poor.

    171. Required, an essay on the superiority of the civil institutions of Moses to those of Menu, Solon, and Lycurgus.

    146. Required, a short scriptural and rational essay on the Providence of God.

    60. What further improvements are necessary in the government of parish workhouses?

    169. Required, an essay on the Pythagoric doctrine of numbers, and the uses to which the Pythagoreans and Platonists applied the five regular solids, since termed Platonic bodies.”

    — On this last subject Mr. Clarke wrote a dissertation, which may be found in his Miscellaneous Works. It will be seen that these questions do not, all of them, come under the denomination of strict philology; but the wide sense in which he used that term he indicates in an address to the Society, where he observes, that “philology, in the modern acceptation of the word, is not so properly a science as an assemblage of several. It includes grammar, criticism, etymology, the interpretation of ancient authors, poetry, rhetoric, history, and antiquities: in a word, everything relating to ancient manners, laws, religion, government, and language.”

    The Society met for conversation, discussion, and the consideration of written essays on the various themes of their studies. After some time, Mr. Clarke found he could state that the scheme worked well; that interesting and excellent papers were produced; and that good would be done to the minds and hearts of the members.

    As to himself, he was working hard at the Bibliographical Dictionary, (the first volume of which he brought out at Liverpool,) and at the Notes upon the Holy Scriptures. In addition to these more weighty undertakings, he translated the Dissertation of Monsieur A. L. Millin on the Silver Disc which bears the name of “Scipio’s Buckler.” This was subsequently incorporated in his Miscellaneous Works.

    Generations pass away, and the son follows the parent. As in his last Circuit Mr. Clarke had been called to mourn the decease of his father, so now another bereaving providence overtook him in the removal of his only brother, who died at Maghull, in his forty-fifth year. A biographic notice of this beloved relative from the pen of Dr. Clarke states, that, after having been brought up in childhood by his uncle, the clergyman after whom he was named, and instructed in the classics by his father, he was introduced to the medical profession, studying, after his apprenticeship, at Trinity, Dublin. He went out as surgeon in “a Guinea ship,” and in two voyages became a witness of the complicated cruelty and villainy of the African slave-trade, of which he has left in his journals some graphic details. “Filled with horror at this inhuman traffic, surgeon Clarke abandoned it after his second voyage: he married, and established himself at Maghull, eight miles from Liverpool, “in a wide neighborhood, at that time but ill supplied with medical practitioners where he had great success, winning the confidence of the people by his skillful treatment, his personal urbanity, and Christian rectitude of life. But his professional labors multiplied beyond his strength. At a time when in a delicate state of health, he was called out night after night in cold and tempestuous weather, till his remaining strength broke suddenly down, and he sank into a consumption.

    In his last days, he was consoled by the affectionate attentions of his brother, from whose holy counsels and earnest prayers he found most timely help in passing through the dark vale of death. In a pocket-book of Dr. Clarke’s, there are the following memoranda: — “Sept. 6th, 1803. — I went to see my dying brother. He is in a very happy state of mind. “Sept. 15th. — Went to Maghull, and gave the sacrament to my dying brother. He is in great pain of body, but steadfast in his confidence in the Lord. “Sept. 16th. — Preached at Aintree, from Isaiah 54:13,14. My blessed brother died this evening at nine o’clock. “Sept. 17th. — I went over to see my dear brother’s remains.

    Quantam mutatas ab illo!” — Changed indeed. But from the sight would not the minister of Christ feel fresh motive to work while it was yet with himself called today, in making known to dying men the truth and grace of that adorable Redeemer who is our refuge, our resurrection, and our life?

    After two years’ residence at Liverpool, Mr. Clarke was re-appointed to Manchester, where a multitude of Christians, who had long learned to value his ministry, gave him a most grateful welcome. The opening-sermon at Oldham-street was attended by a vast concourse; and, from what he then saw and felt, he had confidence that God would be with them.

    Some few details come out in a letter to one of his Liverpool friends, a little while after his re-settlement in Manchester: — “I have a very good garret for my study: poets, you know, and poor authors, generally live in such places. I have had shelves put up for my books, and have most of them unpacked and carried up to this sublime region; but it has been severe work, and has fatigued me sadly. The books and other things have been much injured in the carriage: upwards of twenty of my boxes were broken, though they came by His Grace’s flats” (the duke of Bridgewater’s canalboats). “I am now quite of poor Richard’s mind, that three such flittings would he equal to one burning “I have heard Mr. Hearnshaw, the young preacher. He bids fair, I think, to make a luminous star in the church of Christ. He has a very pleasing voice, a neat delivery, and very decent language; his matter is solid, and his doctrine sound. Mr. Jenkins you know; the other is Mr. Pipe. He” (Mr. P.) “is full of life and zeal, and I should not wonder if he be esteemed the first man among us. I like a good shaking, and long hearty Amens among the people: but, between you and me, there seems too much of it here; and many, I am afraid, do not distinguish between sense and sound, — between the tornadoes of natural passion and the meltings of religious affection. But I must leave this with God, the only wise and good.

    May He keep us right!”

    In Manchester, as in other places, Mr. Clarke showed the value he set on class-meeting as a means of great help and encouragement in the Christian life, by entering himself as a private member in one of the classes. In Liverpool he had raised a class of his own; but now, under the leadership of “a plain, simple-hearted, good man,” Mr. Clarke found, as often as his duties would allow him to meet, that he could derive great profit, and reflect it again in his ministry, from communion with these lowly ones in the flock of the Lord.

    To the Strangers’ Friend Society, which, with Mr. Bradburn, he had been the means of establishing in the town, he turned his renewed attention, strengthening and extending its truly beneficent agencies.

    Steady also to his purpose in combining moral and intellectual culture, in making men strong in whatever is good, he opened his study on stated mornings in the week for young men who were desirous of instruction in the original languages of the Bible, and founded a Society, like that already in operation at Liverpool, for the promotion of literary, scientific, and Christian studies; — “to bring forward,” as he said, “and improve latent talent, and to prompt the few, who were aiding and influencing each other, to act upon the million.” Many men who have lived not in vain received good impulses and helps in these intellectual fellowships; and among them we may name that eminent scholar, diligent author, and excellent minister of Christ, the late Dr. James Townley. The success attending this institute was always a subject of great thankfulness to the founder; and we may here mention that, when the time came for him to leave Manchester, the members offered him a token of their esteem, not only in a verbal tribute, but by the presentation of two massive silver cups, beautifully ornamented with a border of oak-leaves round the outer rim, and bearing the inscription: —

    “EX DONO SOCIETATIS PHILOLOGICAE,MANCUNIENSIS REVERENDO ADAMO CLARKE,PRAESIDI DILECTISSIMO ET DILIGENTISSIMO, IN AMICITAE GRATIQUE ANIMI PLURIMIS PRO MERITIS TESTIMONIUM.”

    In his own literary career Mr. Clarke gave another token of great activity, in the publication of the remaining volumes of the Bibliographical Dictionary (the preface of the sixth volume bearing date, “Manchester, July 1st, 1804”); and also a new and improved edition of Claude Fleury’s “Manners of the Ancient Israelites,” a work which found much acceptance with the public.

    As in Bristol and Liverpool, so now in Manchester, the silence of the study was broken upon by the voice of the knell. Mr. and Mrs. Clarke had to sustain the affliction of seeing their beautiful little daughter Agnes fade and die like a flower. This child had become an object of intense affection to her father; and the stroke which bereaved him was so much the more afflictive. “Agnes,” says he, “was a most interesting and promising child.

    Few, of her years, ever possessed a finer understanding, or a more amiable disposition. She was led to remember her Creator in the days of her youth; she truly feared God, and dreaded nothing so much as that by which He would be offended, and His good Spirit grieved. Young as she was, it was evident that she possessed a pious heart. She loved prayer, attended public worship with delight, and had such a firmness and constancy of resolution, that nothing could make her change a purpose which she and formed, when convinced that it was right God saw it best to take her and, having sowed in her heart the good seed of His kingdom, took her to heaven, where it should bring forth all its fruits in their native soil.”

    Twenty years afterwards I find another reference, which shows how lasting was this love: — “I had a daughter called Agnes: never was my soul so wrapped up in a child. God took her I had suffered so much in her sufferings, that the good Dr. Agnew said, if she had lived one week longer it must have killed me. Agnes is still dear to me, though it is more than twenty years since I lost that lovely child.”

    The circumstance that two of their children, Adam and Agnes, lay buried at Manchester, created a melancholy tie between the hearts of the parents and that place: but, while nature dictated that mournful sympathy, faith, with its solemn assurances, strengthened in their souls a more elevated sense of union with the heavenly world, whither their beloved ones had gone before them, and where, henceforth exempt from death, the families of the saved are reunited in the full possession of the inheritance which is incorruptible, and eternally their own.

    Having completed his term of service in the Manchester Circuit, Mr. Clarke, amid the regrets of multitudes, removed from that city to resume his labors in London, being once more appointed to the metropolis by the Conference of 1805. As the superintendent of the Circuit, he went into residence at the Methodist parsonage adjoining the chapel in City-road.

    Here, with the Rev. Messrs. Bogie, Entwisle, J. Stanley, and others for his colleagues, a wide sphere of engagements opened to him. London was still but one Circuit; and since his last appointment the duties had become yet more numerous by the establishment of various other preaching places, the building of several new chapels, and the increase of pastoral duties consequent on the formation and increase of the Societies connected with them. And if, at present, each of the superintendents of the nine Circuits into which the metropolis is divided finds that the multifarious business of his charge demands an incessant care, we may easily conceive that Adam Clarke, as the sole superintendent of the Methodist work in London, would be called to a life of almost sleepless labor. Yet his strength was as his day. By redeeming the early hours of the morning, he carried on the studies which were yielding plenteous fruitage in his literary works; and by resolute diligence he made full proof of his ministry as a preacher and pastor, maintained the financial resources of the Circuit in full vigor, and developed the various capabilities of the Methodist system for the promotion of the spiritual and temporal comfort of the multitudes over whom, by the agency of Sunday-school teachers, prayer-leaders, classleaders, visitors of the sick, tract-distributors, exhorters, and local preachers, it exerts its benefic influence. Yet more, in addition to all these calls upon his time and care, we find him taking a prominent position in some of the greatest philanthropic movements of the age. Among these the British and Foreign Bible Society, then recently formed, awoke a joyful enthusiasm in his soul, which expressed itself in services to that noble institution as lasting as his life. At the instance of Mr. Butterworth, who was one of its earliest members, he was invited to take part in its great work, upon which he entered, as we may say, con amore, with the relish of the scholar for the philologic criticism involved in the undertaking to send forth the Bible in the various languages of mankind, and with the faith of the Christian in the power of Divine truth, so conveyed, to renew the world in righteousness. Of the ability and zeal with which he co-operated in this great design we shall have to give some examples in the subsequent records. Suffice it here to observe, that from his extensive Oriental learning, his acquaintance with the verbal criticism of the sacred text, and his sound judgment as a catholic [universal, all-embracing] theologian, the committee of the Bible Society found in Adam Clarke the man they wanted. — Let the reader mark here what great consequences follow the decisions of our early life. When the friendless youth at Kingswood bought the Hebrew Grammar with the piece of coin found in the garden, the world itself was to be the better for the event.

    In his own library at City-road, long before the broad mass of London life had begun to stir itself in a morning, Mr. Clarke was now diligently engaged in perfecting for the press the first parts of his Commentary, and in supplementing the six volumes of the Bibliographical Dictionary by two others, comprising a variety of topics connected with those studies, to which he gave the title of “The Bibliographic Miscellany.” This work bears date, “November 1st, 1806.” Besides these, he lent powerful aid to the editor of the Eclectic Review, in some articles on the Septuagint, and the study of the eastern languages.

    At this time Mr. Clarke felt very strong convictions on the necessity of some effective measures for the training of men of piety and promise for the work of the ministry in the Methodist body; which, with the continual increase of its members and influence in the country, partook as well the educational advantages by which the English intellect has been so greatly elevated in the present age. He saw that an illiterate ministry would be inadequate to the wants of the times; and that, if the pulpits of Methodism were to attract the people, they must be filled by men who were, at least, on a par with their hearers in mental cultivation. With these impressions, he took an early opportunity of bringing the subject under the consideration of the preachers then stationed in London; and the result of their conversation he details to Mr. Butterworth: — “We have now a subject of the deepest concern before us. We want some kind of seminary for educating workmen for the vineyard of the Lord. I introduced a conversation this morning upon the subject, and the preachers were unanimously of opinion that some efforts should be made without delay to get such a place established either here or at Bristol, where young men who may be deemed fit for the work may have previous instruction in theology, in vital godliness, in practical religion, and in the rudiments of general knowledge. No person to be permitted to go out into the work who is not known to be blameless in his conversation, thoroughly converted to God, alive through the indwelling Spirit, and sound in the faith. Mr. Benson said he would unite his whole soul in it, if I would take the superintendence of it. What can we do to set this matter on foot? The people are getting wiser on all sides:

    Socinianism, and other isms equally bad, are gaining strength and boldness Every Circuit cries out, ‘Send us acceptable preachers;’ and we are obliged to take what offers, and depend upon the recommendation of those who can scarcely judge, but from the apparent fervor of a man’s spirit. My dear brother, the time is coming, and now is, when illiterate piety can do no more for the interest and permanency of the work of God than lettered irreligion did formerly. The Dissenters are going to establish a grammarschool, and have sent about to all our people, as to their own, for countenance and support. Would not God have our charity in this respect to begin at home? Are there not many of our people who would subscribe largely to such an institution? If we could raise enough for the first year for the instruction of only six or ten persons, would it not be a glorious thing? Perhaps about twenty would be the utmost we should ever need to have at once under tuition, as this is the greatest average number we should take out in a year. Speak speedily to all your friends, and let us get a plan organized immediately: let us have something that we can lay, matured, before the Conference. God, I hope, is in the proposal; and we should not promise our strength or influence to others, till we find either that we can do nothing for ourselves, or that nothing is requisite.”

    This desirable project could not at that time be accomplished. The Conference was burdened with increasing pecuniary difficulties, and the resources of the Connection were not adequate to the task. At a later day, however, (1833,) the scheme was carried into full effect, to the great satisfaction of all enlightened and impartial men in the Methodist communion. A Theological Institution was founded, one branch of which is situated at Richmond, Surrey, and the other at Didsbury, near Manchester. Already, in those sequestered shades, hundreds of pious young men, called of God to the work of the Gospel, have been soundly trained for the Christian ministry, of which they are making worthy proof in various parts of the world. The divinity tutors have hitherto been the Rev. Professor Jackson, for Richmond, and the Rev. Dr. Hannah, for Didsbury.

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