|Rev Jeremiah Clark|
New Jersey, USA
History of EBENEZER Methodist Episcopal Church
OF SOUTHWARK, PHILADELPHIA. _
TOGETHER WITH A LIST OF THE OFFICIAL MEMBERS, THE PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, AND A SKETCH OF THE CENTENNIAL SERVICES, PREPARED BY
THE CENTENNIAL PUBLISHING COMMITTEE.
J. B. L1PPINCOTT COMPANY,
" Jeremiah Clark was born in Somerset County, New Jersey, in 1780. In his diary he writes : 'The example set before his family by my father made a serious impres sion on my mind in youth and protected me from many temptations.' In 1799 he came to Philadelphia to learn a trade, where ' he was exposed to bad company ;' but the God of mercy saved him from falling into gross sins. In the fall of 1802 he was awakened to a sense of his lost condition, and commenced seeking the pardon of his sins at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church, now under the care of the Rev. Dr. Brainerd. Early in 1803 he formed the acquaintance of a pious young man, a mem ber of Old Ebenezer in Second Street, who placed in his hands the ' Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church.' After carefully reading the book, he concluded that this Church was the place for him, and he joined Old Eben ezer as a seeker of religion on the 5th of June, 1803, under the ministry of the Rev. Solomon Sharp, who was one of the most able and remarkable preachers of his day. After attending class the following Tuesday evening, he returned home in great distress of mind, and while engaged in prayer in his chamber, he was blessed with a knowledge of the forgiveness of his sins, which he retained until the day of his death. In 1809 he was licensed to preach by the Quarterly Conference of St. George's, which included all the Methodist churches in Philadelphia, with Rev. Thomas Sargent as chief pastor and Rev. William Hunter as presiding elder. In 1822 he was elected to deacon's orders by the Philadelphia Conference, and ordained in the Union Church on Fourth Street by Bishop Roberts, Sunday, May 12. As a local preacher Father Clark was laborious and successful and useful. When Methodism was feeble and her members few, he went about preaching the Word, and much people were added unto the Lord. At his funeral a white-headed man said to me, ' I was converted many years ago in a prayer-meeting held by Father Clark.' During the early part of his ministry there were but few churches in Southwark, and he was frequently called on to perform pastoral service, which he never refused. He was in a special sense the pastor of the poor. He visited their sick, baptized their children, and buried their dead. He was often seen with a little coffin in the bottom of his chaise, which his children styled the ' hearse,' on his way to the Neck, where the poor buried their dead. From his diary I am led to believe that he attended more funerals than any other local preacher in the city. The Rev. Thomas T. Tasker, who attended his funeral, made the following significant statement: 'In 1819 I entered the church which formerly stood upon this spot, a young man and a stranger. The man who lies in that coffin preached, and I was both pleased and profited. I have known him well, but never knew him to do an unhand some thing.' "As a Christian, his piety was simple and sincere. His diary tells of close communion with God. Thus, in June, 1849, he writes : ' This day I am sixty-seven years old. At twelve o'clock I tried to dedicate myself, soul, body, and spirit to God. Thus may I live and die. 0 Lord, help me, for I wish to sink in humility at the feet of Jesus!' June, 1850: 'This day, forty-seven years ago, I joined the M. E. Church, and how many that are dear to me has the Father's mercy removed to heaven ! A great company have gone before ; the Lord help and keep me !' Again, June, 1853 : ' This day, five years ago, my wife was called by her Saviour, from suffering, to the rest that remains for the people of God ; and this day, fifty years ago, I cast in my lot with the M. E. Church. I tried to renew my covenant with my Heavenly Father at the communion table to-day.' " Father Clark was not only cheerful but jocular. Even the young people sought his company and de lighted in his society. His was a green old age, a spring time with no winter to wither its joys. He was a man of great personal courage, and never afraid to do right. Some years before his death a groggery near his residence became a source of great annoyance to the district. He headed and circulated a remonstrance which caused the license to be withheld by the court. This so exasperated the keeper, who was known as one of the most desperate men in Southwark, that he determined to have revenge. Arming himself with a pair of pistols, he entered the store of Father Clark, and, throwing one on the counter, he presented the other at the heart of the old man and pulled the trigger. To his great surprise, the cap only exploded, when Father Clark, catching him by the arm, mildly said, ' There, God has saved you from being a murderer.' The desperado retired in confusion, but was afterwards arrested and thrown into prison. Here Father Clark visited and prayed with him, and finally obtained his release. This man joined the Church, and though he afterwards ' fell away,' he was always a warm friend of the old local preacher. In the old district of Southwark, Father Clark was quite an institution, and never more than a few squares from his first residence or his last resting-place. Two generations passed away, and yet he lingered among the descendants of his early associates, known and loved as one of the patriarchs of the people. His funeral took place in Ebenezer, and was the largest I ever saw. The church was filled mostly with the children of his early associates, with here and there a companion of his youth. Four local preachers bore him to the grave. About a dozen of his former pastors joined in the procession, and over twenty ministers in all were present. " Addresses were delivered by Bishop Scott and Rev. Thomas T. Tasker. Both had known and loved him well and long. I almost envied the feelings of his children when Mr. Tasker said : ' I would ask no higher honor than to be able to call that man father.' I never attended so precious a funeral. Father Clark's life was both long and eventful. He had been a member of the Church for more than fifty-nine years, and a local preacher for nearly fifty-four years. He worshiped in the first church (Old Ebenezer) built by the Methodists in Philadelphia, and now lies in the graveyard he assisted in buying in 1810. He knew the Church of his early choice in the days of its infancy, and lived to see its manhood and power. Very few of the men who occupied its pulpit when he joined are left to work or live. He sat under the ministry of Dr. Coke and Jesse Lee, of Bishops Asbury, Whatcoat, McKendree, and Roberts, and was the companion of Bishops Hedding, Waugh, Scott, and Janes. His licenses bear the names of such men as William Hunter and Henry Boehm. He outlived his generation, but he kept the faith of the fathers to the last. Among his papers was found a document sent him by the General Conference which met in the city in 1832. I give it to show a good custom long since abandoned. It is printed on small note-paper, and reads as follows : ' Sir, You with all the ministers of the Gospel are still the special subjects of prayer that you may be made more useful in the cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You are requested to join in concert every evening at twilight. Philadelphia, 1832.' " Such is a brief outline of the history of this venerable servant of God and friend of Methodism. He was a warm friend and a valuable assistant to the travelling ministry, and our local brethren may well be proud to place on record some memorial of one who so highly honored the church they love." The above sketch is given in full, not only because of the intrinsic worth of the subject, but also as affording striking illustrations of the characteristics of the former days. There are, of course, others equally worthy and interesting, but it is not possible to collect the facts concerning them.
Matilda DeFord Clark (1778 - 1848)
Michael Wesley Clark (1811 - 1898)*
Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Cemetery
Created by: Christie Gavagan
Record added: Jul 22, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 94054761