Emily S. (Emily Smith) Clarke.

William Newton Clarke : a biography online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryEmily S. (Emily Smith) ClarkeWilliam Newton Clarke : a biography → online text (page 1 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook




ll5rniatutn Jli^r C(ill)rrlrr

X^^J^ ifl^




The Ideal of Jesus. 8vo net $1.50

Sixty Years with the Bible, izmo, . . . net $ .30

The Christian Doctrine of God. (International
Theological Library.) Cr. 8vo, . ... net $2.50

The Use of the Scriptures in Theology, izmo, net $i.oo

A Study of Christian Missions, izmo, . . net $ .50

Can I Believe in God the Father? izmo, . net $1.00

What Shall We Think of Christianity ? izmo, net $1.00

An Outline of Christian Theoloey. Cr. 8vo, nst $3.50

Tl^cZO-c^^ Ti вАҐ C^^kVlu .







Copyright, 1916, by

Published August, 1916


r - r'


One who was quietly, yet widely, known as preacher,
teacher and author, passed lately into the unseen world.

His books were widely read, not only by students and
masters in theology, but by many other thoughtful men and
women, for whom he had bridged the chasm between the
past and the present, and had made the Christian faith pos-
sible in a time of doubt and transition.

The truth and charm of his first well-known work, An
Outline of Christian Theology, was at once recognized, and
each succeeding book met a hearty welcome from eager

These books, quiet and clear in style, were evidently
the utterances of one intent on his message and conveying
it in the most direct and simple way; yet they seemed some-
how alive with the personality of the writer, and many read-
ers felt his magnetism so strongly that they wished to draw
nearer to the man himself. From every direction letters
expressive of keen interest and deep gratitude came to him
from persons who knew only his work and his name.

Before he began to write books he had been a minister
of the gospel, a preacher of singular earnestness and power.
Later, he had been a teacher of theology. As a preacher he
had the art of catching the attention of his auditors at once
and of holding it. He saw his congregation as individuals,
and the hstener often felt as if he were being directly ad-
dressed. Something of this is apparent in his books, and
without any effort to do so he established a personal rela-
tion with his readers. His beautiful spirit appeared in all



that he wrote and awakened a warm response in many hearts.
Some who never saw his face felt when he passed away that
they had lost a personal friend.

Doctor Clarke was a quiet, home-loving man. He was
never strong, and the most of his energy went into his work.
His life was uneventful, and with the exception of seven
years in Canada it was spent in country places. He was
deeply interested in public affairs, and his opinions on social
and political questions were clear and decided and freely
expressed. He was in s>Tnpathy with all efforts for the re-
moval of unjust and injurious conditions, and worked through-
out his life for the uplifting of humanity, yet he was never
prominent as the exponent of any movement or cause. In
his case no materials existed for a stirring or picturesque
biography. From first to last he kept the even tenor of his
way, lo\ing the work to which he was called, and doing it
easily and with joy.



Ancestry and Early Life i

In Keene 24

Newton Center 33

In Canada 48

The Years at Hamilton 62

The Last Day 99

Personal Characteristics loi

Personal Recollections 129

reverend william o. stearns.

The Story of a Friendship 136

professor j. w. a. stewart, d.d.

William Newton Clarke 157

reverend edward judson, d.d.

An Appreciation 170

reverend henry h. peabody, d.d.

The "Theology" of William Newton Clarke .... 185
professor william adams brown, d.d.

An American Theologian 201

professor william adams brown, d.d.




In the Classroom ..." 211

professor f. a. starratt.
professor john benjamin anderson,
reverend daniel hunt clare,
reverend troward h. m.\rsh.\ll.

As Theologl\.n 228

professor george cross, d.d.

Professor Clarke at Yale 257

professor douglas c. macintosh, d.d,

Index 261


William Newton Clarke Frontispiece

Cazenovia Seminary in 1846 Facing Page 12




The writer of this biography of William Newton Clarke
consented, with hesitation and dread, to undertake a difficult
task, for the reason that no one else possessed the intimate
knowledge requisite for a true account of that gentle and
secluded Ufe. This record shows the outward environment
and sequence of events. Its account runs parallel with the
story of his inner experiences and theological transitions told
by himself in Sixty Years with the Bible, a book written, as
he says, "in the single character of a student, lover, and user
of the Bible," and in which no names of places and persons
are given.

It seems best, at the outset, to correct a misstatement
which has been widely published, to the effect that Clarke
was of Scotch origin and came in his youth from Edinburgh
to the United States. Scotland has given many theologians
to the world, but Clarke was not one of them. He was as
purely an American as it is possible to be. All of his hereditary
lines run back into the early colonial period of New England.
His ancestors were devout and heroic men of English birth,
who expatriated themselves soon after Laud, with the approval
of Charles I, began his efforts to turn back the Church of
England toward the fold of Rome.

These men, severally, arrived at Massachusetts Bay be-
fore Winthrop, with him, or a few years later. None of them
were Separatists at first, but all became such. Colonial rec-


ords show something of their part in the making of New

Clarke was born in a typical American village, there he
spent his childhood and youth, and there he received that most
important part of his education which determined his career.

He took his collegiate course and studied theology in the
village of Hamilton, New York, and thither he returned in his
full maturity to give his ripest work to the church and the
theological seminary until the end of his life.

Whoever would understand American life as it was seventy
years ago must know the American village of that time, which
was the active centre of those religious and intellectual forces
that shaped the lives of all and developed men and women
who became leaders in the communities where they dwelt.

The best element in the life of cities was largely recruited
from country places. The foreign element in even the older
cities as yet was small. The majority of householders in the
United States were tillers of the soil who lived independently
upon their own land. For each farming community the cen-
tre of interest and of social life was the \'illage, where the
churchgoers met together and the voters held their town
meetings. The village began its existence, usually, with a
church or a schoolhouse, to which all other good and neces-
sary things were gradually added. Here and there in some
one of the larger villages of a group of townships might be
found an academy or a good denominational school, where
boys could be fitted for college and any who desired it had
opportunity to gain a higher education than the common
schools provided.

The American village was the creation of free, intelligent
men and women whose needs and ideals it expressed. Village
and villager thus in the New World became honorable words,
knowing nothing of villeinage.

In Oldto-mi Folks Mrs. Stowe has depicted the life of a
small New England village and has analyzed and explained


conditions as they were in such places toward the end of the
eighteenth century and early in the nineteenth. In the preface
she says :

"My object is to interpret to the world the New England
life and character in that particular time of its history which
may be called the seminal period. I would endeavor to show
you New England in its seed-bed before the hot suns of mod-
em progress had developed its sprouting germs into the great
trees of to-day.

"New England has been to these United States what the
Dorian hive was to Greece. It has always been a capital coun-
try to emigrate from, and North, South, East, and West have
been populated largely from New England, so that the seed-
bed of New England is the seed-bed of this great republic
and of all that is likely to come of it."

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was a
strong impulse of migration westward. Astute men organ-
ized companies and obtained large grants of land which they
sold to emigrants from New England. There was much
rivalry among these companies and all had agents competing
keenly for settlers to buy and occupy their lands. Thus the
interior portions of New York and Pennsylvania were swiftly
changed from vast wildernesses to prosperous farming regions
dotted with villages.

The foundations of the village of Hamilton, New York,
were laid in faith and prayer. The pioneers of the place were
Samuel Payne and his wife, who came from New England in
1794, and his brother, Elisha Payne, who arrived with his
family a year later. They had the distinct purpose of found-
ing a village.

When Samuel Payne had felled the first tree upon the hill-
side, in the primeval forest of which his farm was a part, he
knelt and consecrated himself and his estate to God. In
1827 he and his wife "gave their farm of one hundred and
twenty-three acres to the Baptist Education Society to locate


there their theological institution. The whole was made over
to the society by a warranty deed, they reserving to them-
selves the use of one-half of the farm during their lives."

No one knows the precise point where the first tree was
felled, but it was within certain narrow limits near the col-
lege building first erected, which, restored and beautified, is
still in use. Upon this historic spot a sun-dial, suitably in-
scribed, was placed by the graduating class of Colgate Uni-
versity in 191 2, as a memorial to Samuel Payne and his wife,
of whom it was said: "Her kindness to students in sickness
or in need gave her the title of 'The Students' Mother.' "

No less devout, far-seeing, and steadfast were WUliam
Colgate and his wife, who were interested from its beginning
in the theological school and in the college which was its
necessary and inevitable outgrowth. Mr. James B. Colgate,
their son, late in his life, in speaking of his parents, said that
at the morning devotions of the family, led either by the
father or the mother, there were always words of prayer for
the school of sacred learning at Hamilton.

Elisha Payne, true to the traditions of his forefathers,
after building his own log dwelling, proceeded next to build
a schoolhouse. This schoolhouse was, no doubt, used also for
religious meetings, as the church was not built until 1810.

Similar in spirit is the history of many an American vil-
lage, founded by descendants of the early colonists of New

For a clear understanding of Clarke's ancestral heritage,
of those family traditions and innate gifts that made him the
man he was, one must revert to early colonial history in
New England.

In the nineteenth century every educated man was truly
"the heir of all the ages," but this reconciling teacher, who
seemed gifted with a sympathetic comprehension of every
one's point of view, was in an especial manner the heir of the



seventeenth century which witnessed the revolution in Eng-
land, the colonization of New England, and the fighting over
again upon new territory of battle after battle for complete
liberty of thought and speech. Perhaps he owed his catho-
licity to those diverse and antagonistic ancestors, whose theo-
logical and political differences, transmitted and modified from
generation to generation, were harmonized in him.

North Brookfield, a town of Madison County, in the State
of New York, received its earliest colonists from New Eng-
land in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Among
the first settlers was Absalom Miner, a descendant of Thomas
]\Iiner, who came from England with Winthrop on the Ara-
bella in 1630. Thomas Miner was the son of Clement Miner,
of Chew Magna, Somerset, head of the elder branch of a fam-
ily, which had held an honorable place among the gentry
of England for well toward three hundred years. Thomas
Miner was associated with John Winthrop, Jr., in his early
colonizing enterprises, and was a delegate to the general court
from each of the several places in which he resided. He
finally settled at Stonington, Connecticut, being one of the
four original colonists of that place. Much that is interesting
is known of Thomas Miner, and a large number of persons
useful and honored in their place and time traced their an-
cestry to him. Among them the names most widely known
are Adoniram Judson and Ulysses S. Grant.

Somewhat later the Clarke family, who were also of good
English lineage, came from Rhode Island to North Brook-
field. They were descended from Jeremiah Clarke, one of the
nine heads of famihes who founded Newport and helped to
create Rhode Island, the first really free commonwealth in
the New World. Jeremiah Clarke was the second president
of "Rhode Island Plantations" under the charter of 1644,
which had been obtained by Roger Williams. The Clarke
and the Miner famiUes were of "the Baptist faith and order."


They were closely associated in all afTairs of church and com-
munity, and there were three marriages between sons and
daughters of Seth Miner and John Clarke.

The first alliance was that of William Clarke and Urania
Miner, who were married March 21, 1830, at the homestead
in Eaton, near Hamilton, to which the Miner family had re-
moved a few years earlier.

William Clarke was a young man of recognized ability.
He had a clear, comprehensive mind and an unusual degree of
tact and practical wisdom. When, after a period of inner
conflict, he ceased to resist his call to preach, he wished to fit
himself for his work by the best education that he could gain.
A school of theology had recently been founded at Hamilton,
only a few miles distant. His soul thirsted to drink at that
fountain, but his father, like many another good man of his
day, held an old-fashioned prejudice against a "man-made
ministry," and there were other obstacles in his way. So he
went on tilling the soil, "improving his gift" meanwhile by
preaching as he had opportunity and educating himself as
best he could by independent study. He had a good command
of English and a natural ease of expression, which under the
influence of religious feeling became glowing eloquence. His
unfailing good sense and kindly, cheerful nature endeared
him to the neighbors who had known him all his life, and when
the pastorate of the church in North Brookfield became
vacant he was called to fill it. This call was conveyed in a
letter of wonderful quahty which reads like a passage from
John Woolman. He accepted the call with solemn joy.

As a spiritual leader in the conamunity of which he and
his wife were a part, and which they well understood, he was
useful and happy.

When a few years later a call to the church in Cazenovia
came to this quiet, unambitious servant of God, he hesitated,
with the self-distrust of a modest man. He and his wife were
fully content with their lot and would have chosen to spend


their days in the place which had always been dear to them.
Yet an inner monition forbade him to refuse this leading of
Providence, as he felt it to be.

North Brookfield was a bit of New England, transplanted,
but Cazenovia was different in its origin. The village hbrary
of Cazenovia is housed in an old residence on Albany Street.
Its parlor is now the distributing-room of the library. There,
above the mantel, hangs a painting that is an interesting re-
minder of the history of the town. It is a copy of an original
portrait of Theophilus Cazenove (Theophile de Cazenove),
which was presented by his grandson, Raoul de Cazenove, of
Lyons. It shows a young man of aristocratic appearance
with a pleasing face, fair complexion, light-brown hair in a
queue, clad in a suit of pale-blue velvet. He does not look
like a pioneer or explorer, nor was he such. He was, in his
maturer years, the first agent in this country of the Holland
Land Company. John Lincklaen (Jan van Lincklaen) was
the explorer of the region and the founder of Cazenovia. He
was bom in Amsterdam in 1768, received his early education
in Switzerland, entered the Dutch navy and attained the rank
of lieutenant. In 1792 he emigrated to America. He was em-
ployed by the Holland Land Company, explored and sur-
veyed some of their lands and was made their agent upon
the retirement of Theophilus Cazenove, who became pos-
sessed of a tract of land bordering upon the lake, and in
honor of whom the town was named.

A dignified colonial mansion was built in 1807-8 by John
Lincklaen upon the upland beyond the foot of the lake, which
facing northward, commands a fine view of the lake in its
picturesque setting of varied shoreland. In the autumn of
1808 this new dwelling was occupied by the owner, his wife
and their adopted son, the youngest brother of Mrs. Linck-
laen, then about fifteen years of age, Jonathan Denise Led-
yard, known in later years as General Ledyard. His son,
Ledyard Lincklaen, Esq., a man of studious and literary


tastes, who made valuable contributions to knowledge of
the geology of the region, inherited the name and the abode
of John Lincklaen, which has always been the home of the
daughter of Ledyard Lincklaen, Mrs. Charles S. Fairchild.
This house of fine traditions has been kept externally as it
was at first and, with its simple, restful lines, is one of the
best examples now remaining of the colonial domestic archi-
tecture of the period to which it belongs.

John Lincklaen was a broad-minded, far-seeing, practical
man and he began at once to make the site he had selected
for a settlement habitable and attractive. "He laid out
roads, built bridges, mills, and warehouses," and thus averted
the chief privations and hardships of pioneer Hfe. Also, he
offered land to young householders upon Hberal terms. Some
Dutch names appear in the list of early settlers, although the
larger number are of those familiar in the colonial annals of
New England. The settlement began with this great advan-
tage, that no one class or sect brought thither its own nar-
rowness in sufficient strength to stamp its character upon the

The site of the village was well chosen. The beautiful
lake of which the Lidian name is Owahgena, forms its west-
em boundary.

Lake Avenue intersects Albany Street, and running north-
ward affords views of the lake along its entire length. Parallel,
eastward, is Sullivan Street, now a place of pleasant, mod-
ern houses. Still farther east is Lincklaen Street, with some-
thing of an old-time air and a charm of its own, which like
the others slowly ascends from Albany Street, and reaches
the open country at the summit of the hill to surprise the
newcomer with a fine and extended outlook northward and

The water of the lake, welling up from many springs, is
clear and pure. Its outlet is a small stream which meets
another stream near by. Together they become Chittenango


Creek, which flows rapidly down through a picturesque valley
and makes a leap of a hundred and thirty-six feet from its
rocky bed, through a gateway of cliffs, into the verdurous
gorge below. Not even in the White Mountains is there a
more charming cascade than Chittenango Falls.

The region around Cazenovia has a varied and singular
attractiveness which every lover of nature feels but cannot
easily define, and it is of unusual geological interest. Perry-
ville Falls, not far away, on another stream now greatly dev-
astated by the blasting away of limestone rocks filled with
ancient marine fossils, was formerly very like Trenton Falls,
having a similar approach along a natural gallery of rock,
though on a smaller scale. Delphi Falls, a few miles west-
ward, with its yellow-brown rocks, golden in the sun, has a
unique beauty.

William Clarke removed to Cazenovia in the summer of
1835 3.nd was cordially welcomed by the church, which had
among its leaders some of the most truly excellent men and
women in the village and upon the farms outside. Among
these were the Litchfields, the Mitchells, the Beckwiths, and
the Newtons.

The power of the new pastor as a preacher, his every-day
goodness and friendliness, won for him the respect and good-
will of the entire community without regard to denomina-
tional differences, which were then much emphasized. His
"wisdom in counsel" came to be highly valued, and his aid
was often sought in settling differences which arose in neigh-
boring churches.

The eldest child had died in North Brookfield. The sec-
ond, Mary Eleanor, was born in 1839, and the third, William
Newton in 1841 in the parsonage on Nelson Street. The sec-
ond daughter, Delia Maria, was born in 1843 '^^ the new par-
sonage on Lincklaen Street, which was almost under the
shadow of the seminary, and very near the Baptist church.

The minister's salary was small and irregularly paid.


There were steadfast friends and generous givers in the
church, but the majority had inherited the idea, which they
were only slowly outgrowing, that a minister's service should
be freely given without requital. The early preachers of the
denomination, like Pardon Tillinghast, an ancestor of Wil-
liam Clarke, the early pastor of the First Baptist Church of
Providence, Rhode Island, revolting against a state church
and a tithe system, had preached the Word like the early
apostles, without money and without price, and most of
them, like Paul, had lived by the labor of their own hands.
A "hireling ministry" was as abhorrent to the early Baptists
as to the Quakers.

When there were three children to be cared for these par-
ents felt the pinch of narrow means. Fortunately, both were
good economists, and Mrs. Clarke's excellent early training
stood her in good stead. The small income was made to suf-
fice. "Plain living and high thinking" was their daily, blessed
portion. Plain li\dng, however, was not poor living. The
things most important and necessary could be had. By wise
management the family were well fed, well clad, and in that
climate, arctic in winter, well warmed. But the mother had
to work early and late while the children were young. The
word servant did not exist in the vocabulary of that family,
though sometimes, when the need was great, the old-time
American "help" came to the mother's aid.

In Sixty Years with tlie Bible, Doctor Clarke writes thus of
his parents:

"My father, a minister of the Gospel, was constantly in
communion with the Book, though he talked little of his work.
He was not a highly educated man, but he was a man of
sweet reasonableness, and his theories of doctrine were tem-
pered in application with a fine practical wisdom. I suppose
he must have had some theory of inspiration, but he never
made the value of the Bible depend upon it. He had no need
of the theory for he was building upon the reality. There


was God's own message and for him and for my mother the
Bible was the last word. She, reared in the godhness of an
earlier day, carried the Bible in mind and heart. She was not
always quoting it, but for guidance of her Hfe and ours it was
always with her.

"It is true that she was in unconscious bondage because
the Bible brought her the spirit of Judaism, as well as the
Christian faith, and not until old age did she come out into the
liberty of the children of God, but with a willing loyalty she
held the Bible as her law as well as the Christian faith. Rev-
erence for it was learned from both parents. It was never a
theme for jests and I grew up with almost a horror of joking
on Biblical subjects. About the Bible there was a holy air
which to us children was attractive, not repellent. Bible
stories we easily learned, and they were true. We did not
question as to whether they were easily believed or were

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryEmily S. (Emily Smith) ClarkeWilliam Newton Clarke : a biography → online text (page 1 of 21)