PART II. 1782. -- 1794.
SECTION I. 1782.
"The bark of a tree contains an oily juice, which, when it is in greater plenty than can be exhaled by the sun, renders the plant evergreen. Such is the state of the man whose virtue is proof against persecution: he is like a green olive-tree in the court, of the temple, 'his leaf shall not wither.'"
A degree of colloquial familiarity has hitherto been indulged, in the use of the name of the subject of these pages, giving its simple baptismal form, without the usual appendage. For this, the writer will be excused, because of the age of the subject, -- the circumstances in which he was placed, -- the sphere in which he moved, -- his own familiar use of it to the close of his days, -and its peculiar adaptation to familiar discourse. Henceforth, he will take a more elevated stand, as a minister of the gospel, with whose sacred office, terms of respectful distinction will best comport. On the arrival of Mr. Clarke at his new destination, of which Trowbridge* was the first place, he found the advantage of a constitution inured to toil, and the necessity of upholding industrious habits previously acquired. "The circuit," said he, "was very laborious, and I worked hard." But besides the presence of his Divine Master, success in his ministry, and favor in the sight of the people, his heart was touched on another subject:-- " It was there," he observed, "that I met with my Mary." His colleagues were Messrs. Wrigley, Poole, and Algar; the first of whom entered the itinerant field in 1769, -- the second in 1759, -- and the third in 1780; all of them considerably his seniors, not only in their standing in the ministry, but likewise in age.
[*In the year 2000, Trowbridge, is a busy industrial, commercial and administrative center, situated close to the western boundary of Wiltshire, 100 miles west of London, and 20 miles southeast of Bristol, and ten miles from Bath. Trowbridge has a population of about 27,500, making it the third largest town in Wiltshire. -- From the Trowbridge Town Council Web Site -DVM ]
Though Mr. Poole was the senior preacher, Mr. Wrigley's name stood first on the Minutes; an arrangement by no means uncommon during Mr. Wesley's life. Speaking of his colleagues, Mr. Clarke said, -- "My first superintendent was a man of experience. He said to me one day, 'Adam, take care of your horse.' This advice he needed not to have given, for I was always careful to see my horse cleaned and fed. On another occasion, Mr. Poole observed, -- 'Could horses speak, Adam, they would say to their riders, -- Up the hill, spur me not; -- down the hill, ride me not; on the plain, spare me not; -- to an ostler [a stableman at an inn], trust me not.'" These little advices, whether direct or indirect, were deemed important to the novitiate in itinerancy, when -- from the extent of the "rounds," as circuits were then denominated, horses were in fashion in Methodism; and although he intended the term "experience," in the case of one of his advisers, to be emphatic, and in contradistinction to knowledge, as acquired by close application to books, yet, whenever a hint was kindly intended, whether necessary or not, it was always kindly taken.
A "horseman," in those days, whether among clergy or laity, was an object of interest to a highwayman, especially if a pair of saddlebags happened to bolster out the top-coat, or peep from beneath its skirts. A somewhat humorous occurrence happened to Mr. Poole, which Mr. Clarke related with unusual pleasantry. The preachers, who were generally early risers, furnished themselves with tinder-boxes [tinder-box hist. a box containing tinder, flint, and steel, formerly used for kindling fires. -- Oxford Dict.]: Mr. Poole's was in the form of a pistol. Having to cross Sherwood Forest once, he found this innocent household utensil of considerable service. He saw a man coming towards him, whose appearance produced an unfavorable impression; upon which he took out his tinder-box, -- concealing the whole, except the lock, which was cocked. The man did not perceive it at first, having his eye fixed on the saddlebags, which, from their bulk, appeared full of promise to his hopes. He passed a few paces, and then returned. Mr. Poole, seeing this, quickened his speed, which was no sooner observed by the man, than he added to the fleetness and length of his strides; and was speedily along-side of the horse; but suddenly casting his eye upon the tinder-box, which Mr. Poole still preserved in a state of full-cock, and mistaking it for a pistol, whose muzzle was directed towards him, and whose contents, he thought, were just about to be lodged in him, he, with unusual presence of mind, though with a miserable excuse, said, -- "O, Sir, I only wished to ask you the hour of the day." "Begone, Sir," returned Mr. Poole, "or you shall have the contents of this." The man instantly departed; congratulating himself, in all probability, on his narrow escape from danger.
Mr. Poole had been on terms of friendship with the Rev. George Whitefield; and his notices of earlier times, rendered his company very interesting to Mr. Clarke. There was one anecdote which the latter was not likely to forget, owing to his admiration of Mr. Wesley, but which reflects honor alike on Mr. Whitefield's candor, and on the wisdom of the Founder of Methodism. Mr. Poole, he observed, was one day met by Mr. Whitefield, after a long absence, and accosted by him, with -- "Well, John, with whom are you now?" "With Mr. Wesley, Sir." "That is right," replied Mr. Whitefield:-- "Mr. Wesley has given laws, and so has retained what he won; I have not; and therefore cannot keep the people who have been brought to the truth by my ministry." This is a fact, the truth of which is supported by the separate state of the Societies of the two leaders in the present day, -- and must have been painfully felt by Mr. Whitefield towards the close of life, he having been both earnest, zealous, and laborious.
Repetitions in singing, being noticed one day, it revived another reminiscence in reference to Mr. Poole.
"He professed," said Mr. Clarke, "to have a tune revealed to him in his sleep. On awaking, he started up, and penned it; the people got hold of it, and it went round the country as inspired; and yet it was so wretched, that it would have disgraced a suckling angel to have composed it." He then sung the four following lines belonging to it, in a way as little calculated to enrapture his hearers with the tune as with the words, stamping the whole, -- as was meet, with disapprobation, and showing how even good men may be mistaken, and draw upon each other's forbearance.
"But I heard a voice say, Without money you may Receive it, with nothing at all for to pay; Hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah!"
Mr. Algar being nearer the age of Mr. Clarke than either of the other brethren, a closer intimacy subsisted between them. "We often rode four or five miles to meet each other," remarked the latter, "when in the country part of the circuit, in order to converse respecting the state of our souls. Algar was in a good state of mind: but he had no system; he remained too long, when invited out to dinner, and was always late at his appointments. He was one of the chief speakers at the Leeds Conference, of 1784, respecting the 'Deed of Declaration;' and it was before him, Mr. Fletcher dropped upon his knees, entreating him not to divide the Societies, but to permit love to bind the whole. 'Yes, Sir,' said Algar, 'love shall bind, but it shall not blind us,'"  Some questions being proposed respecting Mr. Algar, by a person to whom the name only was familiar, Mr. Clarke gave a relation somewhat in substance as follows, in order to convey a notion of his manner and peculiarities:-- "Mr. Algar and Mr. Jeram met each other once on an extensive plain between Axminster and Bridgewater. The dress of the preachers was peculiar in those days; and, although personally unknown to each other, the costume led to a suspicion of profession on both sides. They saw each other at a distance. On coming up, they made a full stop. Algar at length broke silence, by saying; -- 'You are a Methodist preacher, I presume, Sir.' 'I am,' returned Jeram: 'you are the same, I suppose, Sir,'" (Here, the manner of each, together with their tone and accent, was imitated by the narrator; -- that of Algar's being grave, deliberate, and pompous; while that of Jeram's was exceedingly quick.) -- "I have the high honor, Sir, to be a Methodist preacher: pray, how long may you have been doing anything for the Lord?" "I have been doing what I could for God more than twenty years," answered Jeram. "Doing what you could!" said Algar; "that is more than I can say." "Possibly so," returned Jeram; "but I never took you for my example." Here the worthies parted. Mr. Clarke wrote this singular rencounter down on hearing it; and seeing Mr. Algar afterwards, showed it to him, asking, -- "Is this true?" After hesitating a little, he said, -" Yes." "If so, then," said Mr. Clarke, "sign your name to it." He afterwards saw Mr. Jeram, -showed it to him, -- and got it confirmed; and to that document, they both signed their names; "which," added Mr. Clarke, "I hold to this day." Adverting again to Mr. Algar's personal history, and his conduct at Leeds, he observed; -- "He married an estate after that; -- left the ministry, and became a farmer."
But though he left the ministry, it would seem from the circumstance of his building a chapel, when he came into possession of property, that he retained his regard for the Wesleyan body. He ingratiated himself with the daughter of a wealthy farmer, whom he married. The old gentleman was extremely partial to Mr. Clarke, and having yet a daughter, was desirous of promoting a union between them; but "fortunately for me," said Mr. Clarke, "I was not of the same mind." Mr. Algar had a son, who was educated at Kingswood School, -- subsequently became a clergyman, and was resident at Frome; and one of his first acts upon coming into possession of his father's property was, to pull down the chapel he had erected; -- thus destroying the principal monument of his father's pious feeling!
From Mr. Wrigley, whose naturally contracted mind was still more narrowed up by a total lack of education; whose prejudices were strong, and whose religious integrity bore a character of sternness, Mr. Clarke could receive no aid in reference to intellectual improvement:-- indeed so far from it, that when, on a certain occasion, he had written upon the wall of a room in which he was lodging, some lines from the Æneid, corroborative of a sentiment already noticed, Mr. Wrigley, whose turn it next was to occupy the same apartment, seeing what, in his untutored mind, he termed "the sin of human learning," wrote under them, a rebuke in such style, as might worthily compete with an effusion of Zachary Bogan:  however, it had the desired effect. Mr. Clarke, whose conscience was sensitive, almost to morbidness, received the check as it was intended, not calling to mind, at the moment, the severe and caustic satire of [Mr.] South upon such men; and yielding submission to the rebuke of his senior, vowed upon his knees, to repudiate Latin and Greek for ever; and thus he cut himself off, for a period, from that description of study which would have materially promoted the efficient discharge of ministerial duty. Four years his intellect lay, in this department of study, under the ban of ignorance; but at the expiration of that time, he began to see, that "the best thing to do with a vow thus forced upon him, was, -- to break it," and accordingly he did so; but he deeply regretted the time thus irreparably lost. In referring to this circumstance, in subsequent years, he ever spoke of it with a feeling of soreness. It appears strange, that he should have been overcome by this infatuation, when it is remembered, that some years anterior to the period of which we are now speaking, he had avowed his solemn conviction, -- "That learning and science came from God; -- that He had created them not for angels, but for man;" and that consequently, he who neglects them, sins against his mercies, and frustrates, in his own case, the benevolent design of his Creator towards him: that he should have come to this determination, -- that up to the moment of its interrupted effect, he had diligently acted under the influence of it, and yet, that he should yield to the suggestion of a man, who, from his very ignorance, was incapacitated to judge in the case; and who, to quote Mr. Clarke's own testimony, "was a proud man, could ill brook an equal, and never tolerate a superior;" furnishes forth a strong instance of the power of spiritual despotism, over a scrupulously tender conscience. Mr. Wrigley was his senior, and his master; and he spake to him with the arrogance of Diogenes, though without a particle of his wisdom. The name is now given, because justice demands the exculpation of Mr. Clarke's other colleagues, -- who, though not remarkable for ardor in literary pursuits, were, nevertheless, innocent of the above montrosity.  Still, Wrigley was a man of great integrity.
In this circuit, though cramped in reference to intellectual improvement, he made great progress in piety. With Mr. Algar, in consequence of greater similarity of age, he formed an intimate and spiritually profitable friendship: hallowed must have been the feeling, and deep the communion of soul, which each had with the other, when it could lead them, in addition to their daily toil, to ride some miles across the country, for the purpose of spiritual fellowship.
But though Mr. Algar was one with whom Mr. Clarke could take sweet counsel in religious matters, he was not one from whom he could derive much advantage as a minister. It is to Mr. Algar he refers, in his "Letter to a Young Preacher," where he guards his friend against appearing "to contradict the Holy Ghost, by what is called treating a subject negatively and positively." After giving different "instances of this injudicious and dangerous mode of handling the word of God," which had "fallen within the compass of" his "own observation," he comes, concealing the name, to his early colleague, and says, "Another took Luke xiii. 32. -- 'Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.' In opposition to the letter of his text, the preacher labored to prove, that the flock of Christ is not a little, but a very large flock: and in order to do this, brought in multitudes of pious heathens, vast numbers who sought and found mercy in their last hour, together with myriads of infants, idiots, &c."  From this specimen, it should seem, that, with an intellect such as that possessed by Mr. Clarke, piety alone must have been the bond of union between them.
The extent of the circuit, he considered as "advantageous to a young preacher, who could not be supposed to have any great variety of texts or of matter." The advantage of such a circumstance, would be variously viewed, as it would be differently felt -- some availing themselves of it as an incentive to indolence rather than industry. But with Mr. Clarke, all places and situations were alike; he looked only to the opportunities they offered, and sedulously [diligently, painstakingly] improved them. He remarks, that he "diligently read the Scriptures." A rather singular corroboration of this fact, appears in a letter from Thomas Marriott, Esq., to the writer, dated Sept. 6, 1833, in which he observes, "In the first volume of Dr. Clarke's life, he speaks of his pocket Bible at Kingswood. That identical book is now before me, and is probably the same which the magistrate in Jersey requested to see. It has the name of Adam Clarke affixed by a stamp which he appears then to have used. It was bought for sixpence at an old rag and iron shop, Spitalfields, by Mr. Gaudy, of Princes-Street. On the title-page is the following Inscription, by Dr. Clarke, -- 'Bene orasse, est bene studuisse, -- LUTHER;' which may be translated, -- Prayer is the best kind of study. Also, 'Trowbridge, Wiltshire, Aug. 9, 1783.' At the end of the Old Testament he has written, 'June 10th, 1784, read through.' The following day he recommenced, as appears by 1 chap. Gen. -- " Incoepi, June 11, 1784.'"  Perhaps the literal English of the quotation from Luther, will please some ears better than the above rendering, as it contains a beautiful quaintness, -- "To have prayed well, is to have studied well."
The texts which he appears to have selected, as shown in the note, are not without their bearing on his religious and intellectual character, being expressive both of piety and good sense; nor are the texts which a minister selects for ordinary discussion, a bad criterion by which to judge of the general state of the "inner man," in most cases that may occur. On adverting to the passages, they will be generally found to be plain, embodying a great deal of experimental truth, embracing all the leading and essential doctrines of the gospel, and of a good, stirring, practical tendency. Connecting with them, his general manner of treating a subject, it was impossible for his congregations, to remain unmoved and uninstructed. He was himself apparently, from the very first, a beautiful exemplification of what he wished others to be, (without holding himself up as an exemplar,) and of what he recommended many years afterwards, in "A Letter to a Preacher on his Entrance into the Work of the Ministry." He appears never to have taken a text which he did not fully understand -- rarely chose short ones -- avoided allegorical preaching -- shunned all parade -- and conscientiously guarded against taking a text, which, out of its proper connection, could mean nothing. On the latter subject, he says, "I traveled once with two preachers who trifled the whole year in this way. Their texts were continually such as these, 'Adam, where art thou'? -- 'I have somewhat to say unto thee.' -- 'If thou wilt deal justly and truly with my master, tell me.' -- 'I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on?' -- 'Thy mouth is most sweet, &c.' I need not add that these solemn triflers did the people no good." *
[What would Adam Clarke THINK of MODERN HOLINESS PREACHERS who preach topically from such texts nearly all the time! How times change! and preacher's opinions about such matters. Many souls have been saved and sanctified using the very type of sermons that are denounced by Adam Clarke in the above paragraph. Yet, it is doubtless true that there is too much topical preaching as compared with expositional preaching in most holiness churches in our times. -- DVM]
After having labored with great success in the Bradford circuit, for the space of about eleven months, he attended -- by special request, the Conference, at which he was taken into full connection. His name had not as yet appeared upon the minutes, in consequence of his having gone out after the Conference; and this year also, it was on the point of being omitted. "Mr. Wesley," he observed, "was, as usual, in the chair; the list was read; my name was not mentioned, owing to the list having been made out from the year preceding; Mr. Rankin not having heard it, directed his eye to the chair, and asked, 'Are there any objections against brother Clarke?' Mr. Wesley instantly perceived the omission, and replied, 'I know of none;' and the name was immediately inserted."
It was somewhere about this period, that a rather curious scene took place, in which Mr. Charles Wesley was the principal actor. The whole was narrated on two different occasions, and the following is the substance of what was said.
James Everett. -- "Were you personally acquainted with Mr. Charles Wesley, Sir?"
Mr. Clarke. -- "I was; and a singular occurrence took place in the city of Bristol, on the occasion of one of my visits there." James Everett. -- "Will you have the goodness to relate the case, if there is no impropriety in giving publicity to it?"
Mr. Clarke -- "The case itself was public, for it was before the whole congregation. He was expected to preach, and for that purpose ascended the pulpit. I sat behind him. He gave out a hymn, and prayed; but was completely in the trammels, where he had often been before. He then took a text, spoke a little, but soon found that he could not go on. He tried to relieve himself by praying; when he rose from his knees he took another text, but that also was as fruitless as its predecessor; on finding it so, he took up the hymn-book, and beckoned me to step forward. On giving me the book, he left the pulpit, and retired to the rooms over the chapel. Though I had no promise of his return, I indulged a slight hope that he would not disappoint the congregation, by leaving the service to me. I turned to a hymn, (sixes and sevens,) and gave it out: I trembled for fear. Had it been left entirely to my own judgment, I could have done well enough; but his intentions and return were alike unknown: I did not even know, till afterwards, where he was. I went leisurely on with the hymn, giving out verse after verse, till I came to the sixth; and just at the moment I was giving him up for lost to the people, he made his appearance."
James Everett -- "Did he make another attempt to preach?"
Mr. Clarke -- "He commenced by telling an anecdote about Mr. La Trobe, who was then not expected to live long: after which, he exclaimed with a strong voice, yet a little drawling, -' Believe -- love -- obey. He then proceeded in the following strain: 'Who are they that believe? All true Christians. Who are they that love? All those that believe. Who are they that obey? Such as believe and love. Can a Heathen be saved? Yes, if he is capable of believing, loving, and obeying. But he must first be taught before he can believe, believe before he can love, and love before he can obey. Can a Mahomedan be saved? Yes, if he can believe, love, and obey. Can a Roman Catholic be saved? Yes, if he believes, loves, and obeys. Some persons may object to their salvation; but they must first prove, that they cannot believe, love, and obey.' After making a few remarks, in abrupt and broken sentences, on faith and obedience, he then came to love again, and said, 'We ought to love Jews, Turks, heathens, and Roman Catholics, -- the latter especially as brethren; for if you can prove to me, that they cannot be saved, I insist upon our ceasing to love them; but then they may be saved; ergo, they ought to be loved.'
He was fast in this way in the North once, and it was the salvation of one of the preachers. A young man had run away from his circuit; he had an opportunity of hearing Charles on the road; Charles, alas! was in the trammels, and was obliged to give up; the young man thought, 'Well, bad as I am, it never was thus with me: ' he took courage, and returned to his circuit."
James Everett. -- "Had you other opportunities of hearing him?"
Mr. Clarke. -- "O yes, I have not only conversed, and been in the pulpit with him, but have heard him elsewhere than in a Methodist chapel."
James Everett. -- "What was his general character as a preacher?" Mr. Clarke. -- "I did not hear him often enough to give a correct opinion; but I have a strong impression on my mind, from what I heard, that he was very unequal in his preaching, and in no way to be compared with his brother John."
James Everett. -- "His preaching, then, was something like his muse; he had his moments of inspiration, when he excelled?"
Mr. Clarke -- "He was always harping upon the Established Church, exhorting the people to keep close to it, and observed, he would sooner see his children Roman Catholics, than sectarians from the Church of England."
James Everett. -- "He was either blessed or punished by the circumstance of his son Samuel becoming a Roman Catholic; and whatever charity he had for Jews, and Turks, he seemed to have little for separatists from the Establishment.
Mr. Clarke. -- "Samuel, after his conversion to the popish faith, set the Roman Missal to music, and made a present of it to the reigning Pope, who, in return, sent him a letter, enclosing in it his apostolic benediction."
James Everett. -- "His composition, I should suppose, was intended as a proof of the sincerity of his conversion."
Mr. Clarke -- "Possibly so. His father often preached and talked on, 'And I will bring the third part through the fire.' This he applied to our people, who should be saved from sectarianism, as though the prophet Zechariah had nothing to do but look at the poor Methodists in his visions. I heard him, on another occasion, in one of the churches in Bristol. His text was, 'The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.' He always carried a little pocket Bible of Field's with him. This, he took up -- fixed his eye -- placed the page close to it, being short-sighted, and able to see better with one eye than the other, -- read his text -- and then laid his Bible on the pulpit beside him. He next inclined forward, lying, in a lounging position, his arm resting upon the pulpit Bible and cushion."
James Everett. -- "Similar to the attitude given to him, perhaps, by the engraver, in the Conference Print?"
Mr. Clarke -- "Much the same. He took the words in the order in which they lay before him -- delivered a hasty sentence on each -- rather harsh, and usually abrupt. His general delivery was careless and drawling. After a passing remark on the separate terms, he observed, that some were 'blind,' (and gave a side blow at lay preaching;) then proceeded more largely to treat on the subject, illustrating it in a way in which any plain local preacher would have done it. He concluded the whole by showing the danger of separating from the church -- exhorting his hearers to abide in the good old ship -- breaking instantly off in a tangent, -- 'Some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship' -- intimating by the expression, that 'some' would be saved -- if at all, with the utmost difficulty, if they separated from the Establishment." James Everett. -- "That was rather an unhappy illustration, for it was owing to their separating from the vessel, that they were saved."
Mr. Clarke -- "He loved the church, and had the most contemptible views of lay preaching, -- looking upon lay preachers only as necessary adjuncts, in order to support his brother's influence. It was his opinion, that they should be kept out of all the large [places], and only employed in the small places: he often made his brother uncomfortable on this subject, and if John had adhered to his advice, there would not have been a particle of Methodism in the land at this day."
James Everett. -- "Your declaration is confirmed by some of his letters, which I hold, and which were never published." 
Mr. Clarke. -- "He undoubtedly believed in his doctrine, and acted from conviction; still it cannot but be lamented, that he thwarted his brother in many of his purposes, and stood in the way of his own usefulness. Take the case of the Rev. E. Smyth, afterwards of Manchester, as an illustration of some of his prejudices, and their effects upon his brother, the preachers, and the body. Mr. S. wrote an inflammatory letter to one of the Irish bishops; and bringing himself into hot water through it, he went to Bath, and then to Bristol, when Mr. McNab had the care of the circuit.
 Mr. S., according to the plan of Mr. Charles Wesley, was to be the officiating clergyman in the Bath chapel. Mr. McNab who was a sensible man, and one of the first preachers of the day, said that Mr. S. had neither gifts nor grace for the Bath society; and as he had the care of the circuit, objected to the measure. Charles, heated and prepared for the work by his pre-possessions, wrote immediately to his brother John,  telling him, that "the lay preachers would soon be masters in their turn -- that they would destroy the work which both had wrought -- that his influence in the body would soon be lost -- that the conduct of McNab was only a specimen of what he had long feared -- that the sooner it was broken the better -- and that he ought instantly to proceed to Bristol," -- interlarding [interlard v. tr. (usu. foll. by with) mix (writing or speech) with unusual words or phrases. -- Oxford Dict.] the whole with strong inflammatory language! On these representations, John came down to Bristol; Charles got to him, and on the strength of his ex-parte statement, influenced by his own veneration of the clerical character, he ascended the pulpit at Bristol -- preached -- and after the sermon, published to the congregation, that Mr. McNab was no longer a preacher in connection with him. Mr. McNab was in the pulpit behind him, and not knowing anything of his intention, was thunderstruck at the announcement. He instantly stepped forward, and requested to be heard in self-defense, but was told he had no right to speak there, as he was no longer a member of the body." James Everett. -- "Has not this the appearance of precipitancy?
Mr. Clarke. -- "It has; but he had the representations of a brother, and Mr. McNab's objection to Mr. S., trenched upon the prerogative of Mr. Wesley. There was wisdom in all Mr. Wesley's movements; even here it is seen. Had he done it at Bath instead of Bristol, the consequences might have been serious. The people in Bristol considered the question as one which did not belong to them, and prudently kept it out of the society. It was the occasion of a separation at Bath, and I doubt whether the wound has been healed to this day. Mr. McNab went to Sheffield, where he had a congregation and chapel of his own. I have often wished to know whether Mr. Wesley, in his visits to that place, ever met with him. You can perhaps inform me, as your residence and Methodistical researches there would furnish you with the opportunity of ascertaining the fact."
James Everett. -- "There is not an instance of it presents itself for the moment to my recollection; but I know he was useful, and much respected in Sheffield among the most intelligent and pious members of our society, many of whom were in the habit of attending his ministry.
Mr. Clarke. -- "If Mr. Wesley had met with him, he would have shown him nothing but kindness. I am persuaded he was much grieved, and would have undone what he did, if opportunity had been given; but he was goaded into it by Charles' statements and fears. Charles' prejudices were strong."
Charles Wesley appears to have stood a little below his proper standard in the estimation of the subject of this memoir, which may be partly accounted for from his having heard him in some of his worst preaching moods -- his conviction of the immense harm his prejudice against a lay ministry had wrought -- his associating with the lay brethren, who were objects of disrespect, and would only be familiar with the most unfavorable side of his character -- and above all, from the brilliancy with which Mr. John Wesley shone, -- whose powerful lights only contributed to deepen the shades produced by any unfavorable prominence, and compared with whom, all, in his esteem, were inferior beings. -- Charles, too, it should be observed, was not only strongly attached to the church in general principles, but he had some sturdy characters, of dissenting views, who labored to counteract his influence, and thus aggravated his opposition to the preachers. Two of the most eminent of these were Messrs. Edward and Charles Perronet, brothers; sons of the Venerable Vincent Perronet, vicar of Shoreham. They were both itinerant preachers, and labored some years in union with Mr. Wesley. Edward possessed considerable intellectual powers, and could boast of a large fund of wit. Through the influence of the latter, which must ever be dangerous to those who do not live under the sacred and benevolent influences of the Spirit of God, he was led, not only by playful sallies, but occasionally by some of the keenest strokes, into various freedoms, which but ill became the sanctity of the ministerial character, and were not at all adapted to promote the sublime ends proposed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to this talent, that 'The Mitre' is to be attributed -- a poem which is said to have been written by him, but the publication of which was suppressed by the influence of Mr. John Wesley, because of the bitterness of its satire against the National Establishment. Charles Perronet was particularly distinguished for his strength of understanding, feebleness of constitution, and a profound acquaintance with the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He was, if possible, more alienated from the Establishment than his brother. Though characterized by Mr. Clarke, as one of the most holy men that ever lived, he gave the following instance of some of the conflicting feelings which stirred within him:
"Charles Perronet was once standing beside City Road chapel, and on seeing Mr. Wesley at a distance, he said to those around him, 'Yonder is John Wesley coming, whom I honor as a man and as a Christian. I venerate him, indeed, as an apostle of God, above all the men upon earth; but as a member of the Church of England, and a clergyman, I hold him in sovereign contempt.' The embers spread by these, and others, at different periods, kept the fire glowing, in all likelihood in the breast of Mr. Charles Wesley, and with his opinions and attachments, had an unhappy influence upon his spirit in reference to lay brethren in general. But as Mr. Clarke could give Mr. Charles Perronet credit for eminent piety, notwithstanding his hostility to the Established Church, so he was equally ready to give Mr. Charles Wesley his due on general principles, with all his prejudices and prepossessions, and apparent unkindness. Hence, in a summary of his character, he observes, 'He was a good man, a powerful preacher, and the best Christian poet, in reference to hymnology, that has flourished either in ancient or modern times."  His character, as a "powerful preacher," cannot have been given in this case, from the specimens with which Mr. Clarke had been favored, but from general report, and a firm belief grounded on the correctness of that report.
The case of Mr. McNab, as given by Mr. Wesley in his Journal,  though differing in some particulars from the account detailed by Mr. Clarke, is nevertheless capable of being reconciled with it. 1. On one side of the question, Mr. Smyth was under the direction of Mr. Charles Wesley; on the other, Mr. John takes the credit of his appointment. The probability is, that they acted mutually in the case -- that the one maintained what the other had ordered. 2. Mr. Wesley informed Mr. McNab, "at a meeting of the preachers in the morning, that he could not acknowledge him as a preacher, till he was of another mind." This might be taken by Mr. McNab as the only form and place of dismissal; and hence -- supposing the business concluded in that more private meeting, his utter surprise on hearing it brought before the public. 3. The "paper" relative to the "rule," which was supposed to have been violated in the case, was "read" both to the Bath and Bristol Societies, but the act of expulsion was reserved for the latter place. It is possible too, that Mr. Wesley had no intention, when he left Bath, to give public expression to his decision; but finding that "the flame had spread further," he was absolutely driven to it; and in order effectually to quench it, prevented Mr. McNab from speaking, which would only have provoked replication, and so have added fuel to the fire. At all events, we have, between the contending parties, both the lay and clerical sides of the question, and the jealousies that had crept into the breasts of otherwise excellent men -- jealousies which would be as likely to subsist under Mr. Philpots' proposed union of the Methodists with the members of the Establishment, as when the former had the hand of their founder to rivet the chain. To return:
Although the circuits at the commencement of Methodism, embraced a great number of places, and involved much painful and wearisome traveling, personal inconvenience, and heavy work, there were some ameliorating circumstances: the people, though poor, illiterate, and in a few cases selfish and unfeeling, were upon the whole, ready to minister to these early messengers of Christ, a portion of such things as they possessed; and in Mr. Clarke's case, the universal favor with which he was received, and the especial influence which attended his ministry, even in its earliest exercises, must have been, to his mind, a source of great encouragement, as well as an occasion of gratitude. His extremely youthful appearance, which to himself was a subject of occasional regret, must, on the contrary, have generally operated in his favor, keeping in mind, that the exhortation of St. Paul to Timothy, "Let no man despise thy youth," was likewise engraven upon his heart by the finger of God, and that he ever set before him the dignity and solemnities of the ministerial office, and the awful possibility there was, of bringing the message into contempt, by the unskilfulness, carelessness, or other fault of the messenger. Mr. Clarke spoke and walked among the people, as one to whom had been committed "a dispensation of the gospel." To this were added, a fervid and glowing piety; great readiness of utterance; a ceaseless flow of original and powerful ideas; a general knowledge of the scriptures; an aptitude to avail himself, with singular felicity, of any peculiarity of place or circumstance, by which for the time he was environed; a heart naturally glowing with the warmest affections, and the largest benevolence, enriched by the fear of God, and by a quenchless zeal for "the souls redeemed by his blood:" and when we add to all this, a voice, which, though neither rich nor mellow, was however free from all fault of intonation, -- was clear, and of full volume, we shall not wonder, that he was unanimously well received; -- that his preaching was attended by the "unction of the Holy one; -that "great grace rested upon the hearers;" -- that whenever he appeared, "the sound of his Master's feet was heard behind him;" -- that men, women, and children, were first subdued into attention, and then many of them dissolved into tears; -- that in numerous instances, those who came to "persecute and take him," were arrested by the simple fervent power of his appeals; that the instruments of injury dropped from their hands, -- in many cases, the scales from the mind's eye; -that the lion was transformed into the lamb; -- and that "he who came to scoff, remained to pray!" In some parts of these extensive circuits, it must also have happened, that Mr. Clarke met fellowship of mind in a greater or less degree: for on the principle of allowing to human intelligences only so much intellectual capacity as goes to constitute them such, there must have been many, with whom he could converse upon subjects of common interest; for it is to be remembered that the motto of Pittacus, -- "Learn by every event" -- was engraven upon his memory and his heart from early years, and that in fact, such was his intellectual power of absorption, that, go where he would, and be placed in whatever society he might, he was nearly certain to have added something to the previously acquired stock of information.
Besides, in this school of infant Methodism, though there were "many weak and feeble among them," he learned, that valuable portions of human mature may be found in disguise; and that the virtues which ennoble man, may co-exist with what, from ignorance of peculiar circumstances, a common observer or indifferent looker-on, might designate as meanness; -- for the history of human society will furnish man such instances to the philosophic investigator. Allowing such incidental occasions of profiting, the value attaching to them, Mr. Clarke was favored with positive sources of rational improvement and pleasure; especially in the town of Trowbridge, where the Methodist society could boast of individuals of considerable respectability and cultivated intellect.
At the head of these, stood a portion of the family of Mrs. Cooke, a widow lady, herself a rigid member of the Establishment. As a clergyman of the Anglican church, she invited Mr. Wesley to the hospitalities of her house, when ministerial duties pointed his course in the direction of Trowbridge, and perceiving that Mr. Clarke was a young man of education, he also became an occasional visitor. Of this lady's five daughters, three, were at this time members of the Methodist society; with all of whom he occasionally corresponded after he left the circuit, but with the second,  an epistolary correspondence was maintained for several years, upon subjects of deep and varied interest. She was a woman of strong mind, dauntless spirit, untiring energy in the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge; added to which, was a heart deeply imbued with the eternal verities of the gospel. His correspondence with this gifted lady must of necessity have been of real service to Mr. Clarke; it called forth his intellectual energies, gave tone and vigor to his thinkings, refined his taste, improved his style, and doubtless contributed to that charm and freedom, which are thrown around the whole of his correspondence in all the succeeding years of its exercise. To complete the notice of his interest in this family, it may be told here, that his introduction to it, was judiciously and wisely improved, into such an ingratiation of himself into the good opinion of the eldest daughter, Mary, as to lead finally to a marriage, which made up the sum of his earthly felicity, because the source of the highest pleasures of reason and taste, as it was the offspring of the purest motives, and the satisfied sense of worth in its object!
Any lengthened notice of Mrs. Clarke's intellectual and moral excellencies is superfluous here, as they have been ably portrayed by another hand: she possessed a mind of strong and equal reflective power, producing a decidedly philosophic and contemplative taste, and ability; -- deep and intense feeling; -- was firm, though not obstinate of purpose; -- had a judgment calm, deliberative, and seldom mistaken; -- and a depth of piety which entered into all her movements -actuated every purpose -- beautified her "walk and conversation" through life, and shone with steadily increasing splendor, till it became absorbed into the Source of unoriginated light, from whence it drew its being, and to which it was uniformly and steadily approximating!
Mr. Clarke left the Bradford circuit, after the successful ministrations of a year, amid the regrets of those to whom the word of truth, as dispensed by him, was made a blessing, and followed by the good-will and respect of all classes, in order to enter upon his second course of labors in the Norwich circuit.
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