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MEMOIR OF THE REV. BENJAMIN CLOUGH,
FORMERLY OF COLOMBO, CEYLON : BY THE REV. WILLIAM MORLEY PUNSHON. It is greatly to be regretted, that, on account of the loss of valuable documents, little more than a sketch can be presented of the life and character of one who deserves to be had in everlasting remembrance, To compile a brief record, even with the scanty materials at command, is, however, a labour of love : for the name which these pages records is one wbich Methodism will not willingly let die.
Mr. Clough was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, in September, 1791. While he was very young, his father died, leaving a widow and large family. At the age of twelve or thirteen years, Benjamin attended the weekly meetings for children held by the Rev. John Crosse, the venerable Vicar of his native town. The instructions there received had a very salutary influence on his mind: they were the means of discovering to bim bis need and his danger; and he felt himself a sinner before God. But it was not until about the year 1808 that he experienced converting grace. About this time an elder brother (Mr. Isaac Clough) died, after a life of eminent piety, very happy in God. This bereavement was greatly blessed to the subject of this memoir, and was amongst the instrumental causes which constrained his decision. He joined the Wesleyan Methodists, and manifested his change of heart by an exemplary and consistent life. For some years he continued in Bradford, zealous in his Master's service. Deeming it his duty to show forth the praises of Him by whom he had been redeemed, he frequently held prayer meetings in the villages adjacent, and subsequently began to call sinners to repentance. His labours were extensively useful ; and the friends in Bradford, to whom he was greatly endeared, hailed him as an accession of no common promise to their church. But “the Lord had need of him ” elsewhere, and was even now, in a way that he knew not, preparing for him a wider sphere of toil, and trial, and triumph.
At this period the devoted Dr. Coke was contemplating his longcherished scheme for a Mission to the East. By a series of afflictive providences, he had been weaned from the world ; and his heart, widowed of earthly attachment, embraced with unquenchable ardour the cause of the perishing but ransomed Heathen. To rouse him from the depression which had seized him on the death of his second
VOL. IV.-FIFTH SERIES.
wife, he was advised to comply with several invitations from country Circuits, that he might at once realize in the diversion of his mind a relief from deep sorrow, and, while serving the cause of Missions, be insensibly introduced again into the active duties of the ministry. It had been suggested to him that he should no longer travel alone, but that he should seek for some young man of cheerful piety, who might accompany him in his journeys, and exonerate him from many of the little personal cares which occasioned him some discomfort. The Rev. Thomas Bartholomew, the Superintendent of the Bradford Circuit, had mentioned Mr. Clough's name; and ultimately an interview was arranged between Mr. Cloughi and the Doctor, at the house of Richard Fawcett, Esq. The account of that interview may be given in Mr. Clough's own words :-"Never shall I forget the emotions of my mind when I was introduced. As the Doctor advanced to shake me by the hand, I thought him more like an angel than a man.
Glancing his keen little eye at me, he at once said, “I want you, my dear young friend, to accompany me to Scotland and Ireland : are you willing to go ?' I replied, as calmly as my agitated feeling would allow, that I should be happy to have the honour. The next question was, “When could you be ready ?' Much, I found out afterwards, depended upon the reply; as the Doctor, prompt in his own movements, admired promptitude in others. My reply was, “I can be ready at any time you please, Sir. •What !' exclaimed the Doctor, can you be ready by to-morrow morning ?' “Yes, Sir.' This settled the matter, and determined, in about five minutes, an engagement, of the vast results of which I was very little aware. The Doctor again rose from his seat, expressed his pleasure, and, with ineffable sweetness, gave me his blessing and prayers. I withdrew to think of the exciting interview, of the sudden and important change in my circumstances, and of the results to which it might ultimately lead. The whole seemed as a dream.”
Mr. Clough had not been long in Dr. Coke's society, before he discovered that he was a man of one business, and that his heart was set upon a testimony for Christ to be speedily borne in Asia. recur to the journal :-"On our way out of Leeds, the carriage was ordered to stop at Mr. Sigston's academy, where the Doctor alighted to have an interview with a young friend.' Thinking that he wished to be alone, I remained in the carriage. On his return, I saw in bis countenance the working of mixed feelings of disappointment and pleasure. He soon disclosed the object of his call. I have been to converse with a very promising young Preacher, Mr. Stoner, an usher in that academy, to see if I could prevail on him to go out as a Missionary.' Has he consented to go ?' I calmly inquired. • He is perfectly willing, if the way open clearly.' I now felt, for the first time, that, in my change of circumstances, I was fairly associated with the affairs of Missions : I found I had got into a Missionary region, and into a Missionary atmosphere. This gave me no uneasinoss, though the idea of being a Missionary had never seriously occupied my mind.”
“ The idea of being a Missionary," however, once
entertained, was encouraged by reflection and prayer, and deepened shortly into an imperative conviction of duty. Hence, when Dr. Coke propounded his scheme for an Asiatic Mission, and asked for personal service, he found in Mr. Clough a hearty and earnest volunteer.
The Conference of 1813, as is well known, in partial compliance with the Doctor's wishes, appointed six Missionaries for Asia, ---of whom Mr. Clough was one. He accepted this appointment as from God. Thenceforward he felt himself a separated man; forced, by an irresistible inspiration, upon a path of perilous duty; and, in the absorption of his energy and desire upon the future, he wavered not in his choice, nor cast a lingering glance behind. At the same time —for he had a heart, and a warm one-he was not insensible to the emotions natural to his position; and the thought of all that he was leaving often stole upon his mind, and subdued bim by the pensive memory. The record of his feelings as he passed along the streets of London on his way to Portsmouth, for embarkation, is very striking : —“Satan would fain have led me to distress my mind with the thought that I must take a last, a parting look at every object as we drove rapidly along, because I should see these things no more. I gazed with amazement at the Doctor's perfect composure; for he seemed no more moved, as we passed out of London, than if the day were to end our journey, and we were to return to the city to sleep. At one point I ventured to ejaculate, Doctor, how long do you think it will be before we see these things again?' I got for reply, 'My dear brother, I am dead to all things but India. Well, I thought, I am in my present situation without seeking or effort of my own : I appear to have been placed in it by Divine Providence, directing events in a most singular and unexpected manner.
Upon that Providence I will now cast myself, though all is dark before me. At this moment that note in the Gospel narrative struck me—They left all, and followed Him.' This raised my almost sinking spirits, and I began singing that verse of the 494th hymn,
-in which the Doctor joined with great cheerfulness and spirit.”
This is very fine. One knows not in which most to glorify the grace of God, -the veteran of Christ, in whom the ardour and the wisdom of manhood blended with serene and venerable age-possessed with one purpose so strongly that the city was as a solitude, and he could pass away from home and friends without regret or faltering; or the devoted youth, of tender heart and quick susceptibility, amazed at his emotionless companion, yielding to a momentary sorrow, and then, strong in his victorious faith, and casting himself
on Divine fidelity, driving away the evil spirit from his heart-as David from the melancholy Saul-with a burst of sacred song.
On the 30th of December, 1813, the Missionary party set sail : the Doctor, with Messrs. Harvard and Clough, in the “Cabalva ;” and the rest of the party, in the “Lady Melville.” For the first few months the voyage proceeded with the usual monotony; and in the comparative inactivity of shipboard they had leisure to indulge in anticipations of the future, and to prepare themselves, by the study of the languages of the country, for their Missionary labours.
But God was about to “lead them in a way that they knew not,” and to teach them, by painful providence, many important lessons. On the 2d of May, 1817, the Doctor felt somewhat indisposed, and his countenance seemed shaded with unusual languor. Little did the young Missionaries think that the weariness and pain were premonitions of a change so startling-were, in fact, as the voice of warning which the sons of the prophets spake unto Elisha, “ Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day ?" And yet so it proved. Dr. Coke was found early the next morning lifeless in his cabin. Eighteen times had he crossed the Atlantic on his Master's service; he had spent a fortune in furthering the cause of Missions ; he had gathered up his remaining life for one magnificent achievement; he had been permitted to conduct his party within the limits of Asia ;-and then the Master said, “ It is enough,” and the large heart became still. The mansion was ready. Silently the firechariot came, and in the still night, and amid the pomp of watching stars, the spirit was translated to its home.
The death of their leader filled the young Missionaries with painful apprehension, and for the time seemed, to the short-sightedness of man, an inexplicable mystery. But to us, upon whom the lapse of years and the progress of events have shed their interpreting light, there was a divine significance in that sudden removal. It had a threefold result of benefit :-It told the world that the enterprise which Heaven had inspired, Heaven could, under aspects of disadvantage, worthily sustain. The leader went up to Pisgah, and returned not ; but the promised land was entered by the little ones, who, men said, would be a prey. The veteran fell before the siege ; but the fortress was scaled by youths who had not proved their armour. What could more forcibly vindicate the spirituality of the work, or show that from Jehovah alone came the help and the victory ? The Doctor's removal also exerted, after the first bewilderment of sorrow, a beneficial influence upon the minds of the survivers. To use the words of one of them : “ It moderated our expectations, disciplined our impetuosity, and exercised our faith.” Deprived of earthly counsel, they felt more sensibly that they were “cast upon God's fatherhood.” Forced upon unexpected responsibility, with no resource but faith, they became at once self-reliant and confiding. And, moreover, nothing could have been more calculated to arouse holy sympathies on their behalf, and to shrive them and their cause in the best affections of the churches at home. As the Christians of