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BOOK 4, CH. 7,
THE SAINT, — IN LIFE AND DEATH
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THE SAINT, — IN LIFE AND DEATH
There needs no concluding eloge on the religious character of Dr. Adam Clarke, as his whole biography is one. Let the readers look back and form their own estimate. His personal and public life was one sustained manifestation of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost; and the record of it, traced on these pages, is designed not to exalt idolatrously a fellow-creature, but to offer an humble tribute to the praise and glory of that sovereign grace which made itself apparent in his whole history. “The saints,” as Luther said, “are not to be praised for themselves, but for their Savior; they shine like dew-drops on the hair of the heavenly Bridegroom.” faa1 The sanctified glorify the Sanctifier. Such was the principle which governed Dr. Clarke’s inward and outward life, — that Christ in all things might be magnified.
The varied experiences of his inner and spiritual life are not sufficiently known to warrant an attempt, on our part, to give a professed account of them. The biographies of many good men are enriched with extracts from registries made by themselves of the dealings of Divine grace with their souls. But Dr. Clarke left no such documents. Indeed, he appears to have been averse from things of that kind. He began to keep a diary, but left it off as early as 1785. When sometimes asked whether he would not publish his journal, or leave it to be published, he used to say, “I do not intend any such thing: the experience of all religious people is nearly alike; in the main entirely so. When you have read the journal of one pious man of common sense, you have read a thousand. After the first, it is only a change of names, times, and places: all the rest is alike.” The Rev. Joseph Clarke, knowing his father’s mind, committed those early journals to the flames. faa2 Dr. Clarke’s religious experience was the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the soul; begun, continued, and perfected. It was begun in true regeneration.
That adorable Being who alone “can bring a clean thing out of an unclean” renewed his heart in righteousness; and to the grace thus given in his youthful prime Adam Clarke was faithful. Day by day he watched unto prayer, and walked humbly with God. Working out his salvation with fear and trembling, while God wrought within him to will and to do of His own good pleasure, he became established in grace, and endured to the end.
He sought and found — what every man is obligated to seek, and every Christian believer privileged to find — the clear knowledge of pardon, and of adoption to be a child of God; and the witness of his acceptance in the Beloved was never removed from his soul. In his autobiography he gives an unequivocal statement to that effect. It appears also, in a letter written to Mr. Wesley, when Mr. Clarke was in the Norwich Circuit in 1784, that, while at Trowbridge, he had received powerful convictions of a need of the entire sanctification of his heart; that he had become acquainted with a good man, a local preacher, “who,” says he, “was a partaker of this precious privilege; and from him I received some encouragement and direction to set out in quest of it, endeavoring, with all my strength, to believe in the ability and willingness of my God to accomplish the great work. Soon after this, while earnestly wrestling with the Lord in prayer, and endeavoring, self desperately, to believe, I found a change wrought i n my soul, which I endeavored through grace to maintain amid grievous temptations. My indulgent Saviour continued to support me, and enabled me with all my power to preach the glad tidings to others.” These sanctifying graces were evidently strengthened during the latter part of his residence in the Norman Isles, on the bed of sickness in Dublin, and in the days of labor at Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, and London; diffusing their effectual influence on all his life.
On the witness of the Holy Spirit to our adoption I heard him preach a sermon only a few months before he ceased to be among us; in which, after reminding us that there can be no true happiness for man but in the enjoyment of the favor of God, he went on to prove that such felicity must be impossible without a testimony from God to the conscience that He adopts the pardoned sinner to be His child; and that this evidence is not to be inferred merely from texts of Scripture, however rightly applied, but ascertained from an interior oracle of the Holy Ghost, creating peace in believing, and inspiring the dispositions by which we say in life and word, “Abba, Father!” “This,” said be, “is what I wish you not to rest without.
Do not face death without it: do not! How awful to go to appear before the living God, if you have not the testimony in your own souls that you are born of Him! John Bunyan well describes a poor, wretched, selfdeceived pilgrim, who had trusted to a vague and general belief, without actual conversion, coming to the gate of the celestial city, but refused an entrance, because ‘he had no certificate to be taken in.’ ‘He fumbled,’ says he, ‘in his bosom for it, but he found none. Then I saw the shining ones commanded to bind him head and heels, and throw him into the hole at the side of the hill.’ Beware, lest thou art as he.”
This calm assurance was maintained in Dr. Clarke by the habit and life of faith. “What have I to boast, or trust in?” writes he: “I exult in nothing, but the eternal, impartial, and indescribable kindness of the ever-blessed God; and I trust in nothing but in the infinite merit of the sacrifice of Christ, a ruined world’s Saviour, and the Almighty’s Fellow. Then, what have I to dread? Nothing. What have I to expect? All possible good; as much as Christ has purchased, as much as heaven can dispense. ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.’” He was often exceedingly blessed in his own soul, in the pulpit, while made a blessing to hundreds. Thus on one occasion, as already mentioned, he exclaimed, “I would not have missed coming to this place today for five hundred pounds. I got my own soul blessed, and God has blessed the people.”
This good teacher was himself teachable. We have remarked with what docility he would sit at the feet of the humblest Christian who could teach him a lesson in the things of God. “I meet regularly once a week. I find it a great privilege to forget that I am a preacher, and come with a simple heart to receive instruction from my leader.”
And, in making his own election sure, he felt the necessity of constant selfgovernment.
Self-denial was his habitual rule; and sometimes, in things perfectly allowable, he was induced to forego a lawful gratification, for the good of others. In one city where he was stationed, he found the use of wine carried to too great an extent in some of the circles he visited, and made a resolution to abstain, for the sake of giving a practical testimony against it; taking but two glasses of wine during the whole of the year, though in a wasted state of health, which would have rendered the moderate use of wine of great service to him.
The fear of God developed in his disposition an habitual reverence for things sacred. Thus, in passing an abbey or a ruined chapel, he has been observed to take off his hat, as a token of veneration. And this feeling was strongly unfolded in regard to the Holy Scriptures. He would often study them on his knees. The very sight of a Bible seemed to do him good. Once when a servant, wanting something to set against the door of the parlor to keep it open, seized the Bible and placed it on the ground, “Poor Margaret,” quoth the Doctor, “has no religion, or she would have paid more respect to the Book of God than to put it to that use.” He then took occasion to intimate that he could not endure the material of which the sacred book is composed to be desecrated in any way, and that even the page of a printed book which had upon it the Divine name was sacred in his eyes.
He had an overflowing sense of the goodness of God. Gratitude to the Parent of Good had become a glowing affection of his soul, which, like the altar’s trembling flame, was never suffered to expire. “I have enjoyed the spring of life; I have endured the toils of its summer; I have culled the fruits of its autumn: — I am now passing through the rigors of its winter: and I am neither forsaken of God, nor abandoned by man. I see at no great distance the dawn of a new day; the first of a spring that shall be eternal. It is advancing to meet me! I run to embrace it. Welcome, eternal spring!
These gracious dispositions tuned his mind to benevolence toward all men, and especially those who were of the household of faith. Dr. Clarke was a genuine catholic [member of the Church Universal]. He could say, with Jerome, “I am a Christian and the son of a Christian, bearing on my forehead the token of the Cross;” faa7 and he reverenced and loved sincere piety wherever he found it, and under whatever conventional title. Names with him were next to nothing. Still, there was one branch of the church with which he was more intimately united, and through which he held communion with the others. He was a Methodist; and if he had been disposed to glory in any name, it would have been in that one. The Methodist people were his people, and their God his God. Among them he had been called, and among them he lived, and labored, and died. One month before his death he wrote the following testimonial. It has been printed before, but I insert it here without scruple, as it is evident, from the words of the preamble, he wished it to be permanent. “IN PERPETUAM EEL MEMORIAM I have lived more than threescore years and ten; I have traveled a good deal by sea and land; I have conversed with and seen many people, in and from many different countries; I have studied all the principal religious systems in the world; I have read much, thought much, and reasoned much. And the result is, I am persuaded of the simple, unadulterated truth of no book but the Bible; and of the excellence of no system of religion but that contained in the Holy Scriptures, and especially CHRISTIANITY, which is referred to in the Old Testament, and fully revealed in the New. And, while I think well of, and wish well to, all religious sects and parties, and especially to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, yet, from a long and thorough knowledge of the subject, I am led most conscientiously to conclude, that Christianity itself as existing among those called Wesleyan Methodists is the purest, the safest, and that which is most to the glory of God and the benefit of men; and that, both as to the c reed there professed, the form of discipline there established, and the consequent moral practice there vindicated. And I believe that among them is to be found the best form and body of divinity that has ever existed in the church of Christ from the promulgation of Christianity to the present day.
On another occasion: “For nearly fifty years I have lived only for the support and credit of Methodism: myself and my interests, the Searcher of hearts knows, were never objects of my attention. I came into the Connection with an upright heart, and one dominant principle; and, by the help of God, I will retain it to the end.”
He did so. Such were his feelings to the last. Speaking to some of the ministers not long before his departure, he said, “My heart is with you; and when my spirit has passed away, if God permit, it shall return and be a stirring spirit among you again!”
The last characteristic of Adam Clarke’s practical religion we can here commemorate is its perseverance. It was “by patient continuance in welldoing” that he sought for glory and immortality. He occupied till the Master came, and died wearing the harness. “The broad shadows and the setting sun” might have warranted his retirement from the field of toil; but he wrought on, the more solemnly in earnest for that the work was still pressing and the moments were few. Here is a memorandum noted down (April 9th) in the last year of his life: — “The Missionary Secretaries are in want of help for their coming anniversary, and have come in the most earnest and affectionate manner begging me to help them. I have at once submitted, though it is likely to throw work upon me which I shall scarcely be able to bear. I had been previously engaged to Birmingham and Sheffield. I must be in Birmingham on the 22nd and 23rd, — return to London for Queen-street on the 27th, and Southwark on the 29th, — then set off for Sheffield, where I must be May 5th and 6th, — and get, if I can, to Belfast or Donaghadee on the 12th. I am in an indifferent state of health; and there is too much reason to believe that all this traveling and preaching, coming so close together, will overset me.”
In some of these services he came out in almost unparalleled grandeur.”Who,” said the poet Montgomery, referring to those at Sheffield, “who among us does not remember, nay, which of us can forget, his two discourses? — the simple energy with which they were poured forth, the unction of the Holy One which accompanied them, and the devout feeling so interfused as to overpower the sense of admiration which the learning, the love, the transcendent ability displayed in the composition were calculated to excite.”
On the Doctor’s arrival home from Ireland, his family were shocked by the alteration in his appearance. He confessed that his strength was prostrated, but seemed most concerned lest he should be disabled from further work.
One of his daughters having come over to Haydon Hall to see her father upon his return, he said, “See, Mary, how the strong man has bowed himself; for strong he was. But it is God who has brought down, and He can raise up. He still owns the word I preach; He still continues my influence among the people; and hence it is plain He has yet other work for me to do.”
In July, at the Liverpool Conference, his name was inserted as supernumerary under the heading of the Windsor Circuit, being that in which Haydon Hall is situated; faa4 but along with this notification was added the following N.B: — “Though Dr. Clarke is set down supernumerary for Windsor, he is not bound to that Circuit, but is most respectfully and affectionately requested to visit all parts of our Connection, and labor according to his strength and convenience.”
With this “roving commission,” as he called it, he prepared himself to concur; engagements as usual beginning to crowd upon him with the new Methodistic year. But He whom he had so faithfully served, and longed still to serve, was about to say, “It is enough.”
The year 1832 was one of the seasons of the Asiatic cholera in England.
That inscrutable pestilence had swept away a multitude of people; and among the places which Dr. Clarke had been called to visit while the malady was at its height, Liverpool was one. The subsequent event proved that he returned to his home smitten with its influence. Yet, under these circumstances, he went forth to acquit himself of what he considered to be the obligation of duty, though with the seal of death upon his brow.
His first effort was at Frome, where he visited his worthy son, then curate of that parish; who had solicited the Doctor’s presence at a meeting to promote an excellent institution which he had organized for the bodily and spiritual relief of the poor. Writing to Mrs. Clarke on his arrival at Frome, he says, “The constant traveling and labor, confinement in the Conference, &c., greatly fatigued me; and almost every day I am expecting to be (completely done in). *[See Transcriber Note] Never was my mind more vigorous, and never my body so near sinking.” The plans of his son “for the amelioration of the condition of the poor” had excited great attention in Frome; and at the meetings some persons of great eminence in the neighborhood took a part on the platform, among whom were the bishop of the diocese, the earl of Cork, and the marquis of Bath. The speech delivered by the Doctor made a great impression. The founder of the Strangers’ Friend Society, and the preacher of mercy for fifty years, was at home on t he theme of the day; and all felt that a man of no ordinary presence was among them. One expression only we can note, as showing the instinct of eternity which was growing stronger in him daily. Referring to the pleasing circumstance that the present charity combined all ranks of society in the neighborhood as it supporters, and to the presence of the bishop, the peers, the members of Parliament, clergy, and gentry, as “a grateful sight,” he added, — “Thus also it is even with the economy of heaven; since concerning it we hear of thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers; for orderly government seems to be well pleasing to God. What other degrees may be required to constitute the harmony of the celestial hierarchy, I know not but I shall soon be there, and then I shall know the whole!”
From Frome, after a little sojourn at Weston-super-Mare, he went to Bristol, and preached on the 19th at Westbury, near that city. From Bath and Pinner, we find him corresponding by letter with two ladies, Mrs.
Tomkins and Miss Birch, on some calamities which had befallen the Zetlanders, for whom they had shown much generosity, and whom he again commends to their compassion. He left Bath for London on the 20th of August and the next clay, after visiting and giving his blessing to his daughters in town, be reached his home at seven in the evening. And here it will be better to recite what followed, not in my own, but in the words of his daughter; for they have a sacredness which should not be intermeddled with. She tells us, that after her father’s return home, “in the morning and evening family-worship, it was remarked that he invariably prayed in reference to the cholera, by name, ‘ that each and all might be saved from its influence, or be prepared for sudden death; ‘ and, as regarded the nation at large , ‘ that it would please Almighty God to turn the hearts of the people to Himself, and cut short His judgment in mercy.
On Saturday, August 25th, he summoned the family as usual, and it was observed he commenced his prayer with these words ‘We thank Thee, O Heavenly Father, that we have a blessed hope through Christ of entering into Thy glory.’ On rising from his knees, he remarked to Mrs. Clarke, ‘ I think, my dear, it will not be my duty to kneel down much longer, as it is with pain and difficulty I can rise up from my knees.’ “Being engaged to preach at Bayswater on the Sabbath morning, a friend had promised to come for him in his chaise, which he accordingly did. Previously to their setting off, he called a servant, and gave her a piece of silver, saying, ‘Take that to poor Mrs. Fox, with my love and blessing. Perhaps it is the last I shall ever give her.’ He took a little refreshment, and, ascending the chaise, drove out of the gate-for ever. “On the way to Bayswater his conversation was cheerful: but on arriving he appeared fatigued; and, as the evening advanced, he was unusually languid. Several friends called upon him; and on the Rev.
Thomas Stanley requesting him to fix a time for preaching a charity-sermon, Dr. Clarke replied, I am not well: I cannot fix a time; I must first see what God is about to do with me.’ “At supper he was languid and silent; and, in the hope of gaining upon his appetite, his kind and considerate friend Mrs. Hobbs had got for him some fish, to which he was always partial; but he could not eat of it, and took a little boiled rice instead. “Ever since Dr. Clarke’s return from Bristol he had been affected with some degree of diarrhea; but now, contrary to custom, it was not attended with the slightest pain. On being pressed to take something for it, he took ginger and rhubarb, but refused every other recommendation “The diarrhea increased all night. On the Sabbath morning he was heard to be up very early, but this was no unusual thing. At six o’clock, however, he requested the servant to call Mr. Hobbs, who obeyed the summons with all speed, and on coming down saw Dr. Clarke standing with his great-coat on, his traveling-bag in his hand, his hat lying on the table just ready for a journey. Addressing Mr. Hobbs, he said, ‘My dear fellow, you must get me home directly: without a miracle I could not preach. Get me home — I want to be home.’ Mr. Hobbs, seeing him look exceedingly ill, replied, ‘Doctor, you are too ill to go home; you had better stay here. At any rate, the gig is not fit for you: I will go and inquire for a postchaise, if you are determined to return.’
Shortly after Mrs. Hobbs come down, with Miss Hobbs and Miss Everingham, the servant having informed these ladies of Dr. Clarke’s indisposition. “By this time he had sunk into a chair; and, finding him very cold, they had got a fire, and the three ladies were rubbing his forehead and hands, while Mr. Hobbs sent with the gig for a medical gentleman, — Mr. Greenly, a friend of the family, who chanced to have come to town on the preceding evening from Chatham, where he had professionally attended the cholera-hospital. In the meantime Mr. Hobbs had called in a medical man in the neighborhood, and sent off to inform his sons of their father’s illness. Mr. Theodoret arrived shortly, and Mr. John not long after, accompanied by the Doctor’s nephew, Mr. Thrascyles Clarke, who had been for many years a surgeon in the Royal Navy, and had frequently seen cases of cholera in the East.
As soon as the medical gentlemen saw Dr. Clarke, they pronounced the disease to be cholera. The family wished him to be taken up-stairs; but he was by this time so weak, that it was found he could not get up. A small bed being in the adjoining room, he was conveyed there, and laid down upon it. Mr. Hobbs then said, ‘ My dear Doctor, you must put your soul into the hands of your God, and your trust in the merits of your Saviour.’
To which Dr. Clarke could only faintly reply, ‘I do, — I DO.’ “Dr. Wilson Philip arrived about nine o’clock. All the means that skill, experience, and attention could devise and employ were used to arrest the disease.
Service-time having arrived, the chapel, as usual on such occasions, was filled. An aged minister, after reading prayers, ascended the pulpit, and announced that Dr. Clarke was laboring under an attack of cholera. The impression may be better imagined than described.
A friend of Dr. Clarke’s, Mr. Thurston, on hearing this, immediately left the chapel, and hastened to the house of Mr. Hobbs, to learn if indeed it could be true, and if, in the dismay and hurry of the family, Mrs. Clarke had been sent for. He immediately drove off to Haydon Hall to bring Mrs.
Clarke, who arrived a little before four in the afternoon. On her entering the room, Dr. Clarke feebly extended his hand toward her. One of the Doctor’s daughters, Mrs. Hook, on hearing that her father was indisposed, though she knew not the extent of the calamity, had set off for Bayswater; and her father opened his eyes feebly, and strove to clasp his fingers upon her hand. But he had not attempted to speak but twice; once in the morning, when he asked his son Theodoret, ‘Am I blue?’ and again at noon, on seeing him move from his bed-side, he asked, with apparent anxiety, ‘Are you going?’
Dr. W. Philip again visited him in the afternoon; but Mr. Thrasycles Clarke and Mr. Greenly never left his room, nor relaxed in their efforts to save a life they saw to be fast hastening away. The female members in this kind family forgot all personal risk in attending upon the affliction of one who had to them been so often the minister of peace. His two sons chafed his cold hands and feet frequently in the day, and often stepped behind his head to lift him higher on the pillow. Hope did not abandon them; nor could Mrs. Clarke be brought to believe that death had made a sure lodgment, and that life was fast sinking under his power. “From the first, Dr. Clarke appeared to suffer but little pain. The sickness did not last long, and a slight degree of spasm which succeeded it had all passed away before eleven o’clock in the forenoon. But there was a total prostration of strength, and difficulty of breathing; which, as night advanced, increased so much, and proved so distressing to Mrs. Clarke, that she was obliged to be removed into the adjoining room. “A few minutes after eleven Mr. Hobbs came into the room where she was sitting, and in deep distress said, ‘I am sure, Mrs. Clarke, the Doctor is dying.’ She passed with him once snore into the sickchamber, and said, ‘Surely, Mr. Hobbs, you are mistaken; Dr. Clarke breathes easier than he did just now;’ to which Mr. Hobbs in strong emotion replied, ‘Yes; but shorter.’ “At this moment Dr. Clarke heaved a short sob, and his spirit went forth from earth to heaven.”
Deep and solemn was the feeling which the announcement of the death of Dr. Adam Clarke produced in London, and throughout the land. The Methodist communion felt that they had suffered few such losses since the day when their founder himself was removed to his eternal rest. And not only the body to which he more intimately belonged, but good men of every name, deplored his departure with a sincere and religious lamentation, as if bereaved of a personal counselor, companion, and friend.
The tribute which was written by Fresenius when the illustrious John Albert Bengel died, might with the greatest propriety have been employed to express the sentiments of multitudes in every church when the grave received this venerable divine to its dark repose “A pillar falls; a light expires a star, which shone so brightly in the visible heaven of the church, stops its course, withdraws, and mingles with the supernal glory of the spirits made perfect. “An angel of peace, who was as pious as he was laborious, as childlike as he was learned, as rich in spirit as he was acute in mind, as humble as he was great, as modest as he was circumspect in his walk and business of life.
A friend of God expires, whom the Eternal Wisdom led into her chambers; to whom were opened the outgoings of that light which enlightens human minds, the powers of that word which quickens souls, the treasures of that grace which allures, lends, and saves us. “A great spirit leaves the earth; who, whether he measured the heights, or sounded the depths, showed himself equally able. The most sacred of all books was his invaluable treasure. He numbered and proved even words and points. He ventured into the obscure depths of theology; and posterity will be able to judge to what extent he found footing. What to others seemed dry, to him was verdure: what appeared despised by the many, was to him the source of light and power, spirit and life. “He was eyes to the blind, a leader to the weak, a pattern to the strong, a luminary to the learned, an ornament to the church. “A treasury is closed, in which the Lord of all the treasures of grace had laid up wondrous wealth of knowledge and wisdom. A teacher, mighty in the Scriptures, is no more. Sigh, children; your fathers fall asleep.”
May we who are still alive, and remain unto this day, seek the footsteps of our blessed predecessors, and be followers of them who now inherit the promises And let the rising youth of the church set before them the great example of these men of God. Let them study their writings, enter into their views, aspire to the attainment of the end for which they lived, from motives noble as their own, and pray to be baptized with a double portion of their spirit. The work the world needs is not yet done: it demands a host of men strong, resolute, and faithful as Adam Clarke. We are verging upon times which will task the loftiest energies of martyrs, and heroes, and apostles.
Both Providence and prophecy are alike sounding their trumpet-call to the candidates for this great career of toil and triumph. Immeasurable rewards open to the view of the faithful, and the crown of glory shines in the hand of the Judge: but the victory can only be won by the brave, and the race run by the swift.