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FOR THE YEAR 1811.
OF LEEDS, YORKSHIRE, To exhibit the excellence of true religion, - to evince its efficacy in the hurry of business, and under the pressure of affliction, to encourage parents y' to train up their children in the way they should go,' and especially to excite the professors of religion to imitate a good example, the following brief Memoir is presented to the readers of the Evangelical Magazine.
It is to be regretted that, in respect of dates and facts, only a few can be collected. The reason, however, is obvious. The subject of this memoir, like wany other pious and useful men, moved in a uniform course, and somewhat confined. In his sphere his excellencies shone; but that sphere was not calculated to admit various and striking occurrences. He was diligently employed in the service of God, without that ostentation which attracts attention. His piety, benevolence, and zeal, were like deep water, whose stream conveys the richest blessings to its vicinity, while no agitation is perceived, nor so anuch as a murmur heard.
Mr. W. Clapham was born at Leeds, on the 22d of Feb. 1775. The concern of his pious and respectable parents to educate him in the fear of God, produced in him, from earliest youth, a sober and serious disposition. On his mind, it appears, the Holy Spirit wrought almost imperceptibly: We are not able to specify any particular period as to the time of his conversion to God; but it is a pleasing circumstance to learn, that about the age of 16 or 17, he was frequently engaged in prayer at the more private meetings of his Christian friends.
His family connexions introduced him to the acquaintance of the congregation at Whitechapel; but he was rendered conspicuous amongst them by his gifts, his piety, and his activity in the cause of God. While his equals in years could allow no restraint to be imposed on their sensual gratificasons, he was concerned to flee youthful lusts, and to follow XIX
after righteousness, faith, chariiy, and peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Not content with a partial devotedness to God, he gure himself to the Lord' and to his people, accoriling to the will of God. From the records of the church, it appears that he was received to fellowship in January 1800. As a meinber of the church, he acted uniformly as one who had the comfort of his brethren and the promotion of the cause of Christ at heart. His affection, his faithfulne: 5, his prudence, his patience, cannot be too much commended; they were frequently put to the test; and the trial was indeed " found unto praise and honour.' They demand this testimony from one who had no ordinary means of observing then they call upon his surviving brethren to walk in his steps. - Happy would be our churches bad they many of his spirit, and of his mind!
The immediate object of his attention was the interest of Christ at Whitechapel; but his exertions were unconfined
. Zealously affected in the good cause, he was always ready to assist it; and besides being ready to assist, he was forward to exert' himself. Uncominonly devoted to God, he felt that he was not his own, but bought with a price; but bound to glorify God with his body and his spirit, which were God's. His mind was perpetually devising plans of extensive usefulness
, and as an viously exorting itself for their accomplishment
. His beart was in the čnuse; he commiserated the condition of sinners, and he was always anxious to be doing his atide for the amelioration of their state. His mind was not dismayed by difficulties and disappointments : when he has kindly assisted, by his property and his personal services, and when, in return, his good was evil spoken of, his kindness de spised, and his character traduced; - unwearied in well-doing he was always ready to renew bis benevolent exertions. Ceusure is the tax which a man pay, to the public for being en nent.' The remark is too true in religion, as well as in ciri life. On our friend this tax was imposed unmercifully:
this respect he has left us an example of suffering patien - he heard the reproach, committed his cause to Him ihat ju eth righteously, and went forward in his Master's w What he did he did unto God: while he expended his perty, and wasted his constitution; while his friends rea strated, and his enemies (the enemies of religion) derided had respect to the recompence of reward; the love of Ci constrained him to live to him that died for him.
Every institution, whose object was 'to diffuse the kn ledge of salvation, met bis warmest concurrence. He was active patron of our Sunday Schools, Academies, Tract "cieries, Bible Societies, and Missionary Societies. He 'dceply impressed with the necessity of vigorous exertion
the promotion of literature among the Dissenters. He rejoiced at the establishment of an institution for this purpose in the neighbourhood of London : he hoped the example would be followed in different parts of the country; and he did his atmost, though unhappily without effect, to establish such an institution in Yorkshire.
Mr. W. Clapham considered the increase of his property desirable; but to him it was desirable only, that by it he might be inore extensively useful, and communicate inore abundantly to the necessities of the poor. He afforded relief to the necessitous of his own neighbourliood; he distributed also to the poor whom he visited; and in seasons of scarcity, he has given money to different ministers to distribute amongst the distressed of their congregations. His house was always open to the friends of Christ; and the ministers of the neighbourhood especially, had proof of his hospitality and friendship. The impression made by his kindness on more than one, neither time nor absence will ever erase.
Part of the neighbourhood of Leeds has long been favoured with the privileges of the gospel; but in the other parts,' darkness covered the earth, and thick darkness the people. In the east and north-east there'was no place of worship for Evangelical Dissenters within 18 miles. In the year 1801, some degree of interest being excited for this neighbourhood, several ministers began to itinerate, when our friend, in connection with his brother, came forward as a village preacher. Gariorth, about seven miles from Leeds, was the first field of labour; in 1802 an opening presented itself at Fairburn, about 13 iniles distant. These places were supplied alternately for several years; besides more occasional services at Oulton, Brotherton, Knottingby, Selby, &c. In 1806, Halton, about three miles from Leeds, claimed attention. This was regularly visited every Sabbath evening. A neat and commodious place of worship was fitted up, and a very respectable village-congregation assembles there. At Garforth and at Selby ne advanced considerable sums for the erection of a place of worship. Good examples stimulated him to these pious and binevoient exertions. May his example stimu ate many more to go and do likewise! In order to enjoy the full protection of the law in these disinterested labours, in 1802 he qualified himself as a dissenting teacher, by taking the prescribed oaths; but he was never interrupted. Thougli busily engaged till late o.; Saturday evening, he has frequently travelled og mies on horseback, and preacher twice in private houses. Punctual to fois engagements, no inclemency of weather prevented his fufiihnywem. Wherever he dispensed the word he was highly respectesl; and his memory will be revered by the excelent of thie earth. His zealous, disinterested, and successful etforts, are held forth as
a pattern worthy of imitation to other young men, who ardently desire the success of the gospel.
Mr. W. Clapham, while assisting others, did not forget his personal concerns, and the experience of religion in his own mind. His immediate connexions and most intimate friends, had the greatest reason to esteem and admire him. He endeavoured to set the Lord always before him. His religious opinions were of that character which are generally termed Calvinistic. But he thought for hinself; and party-distinctions had little effect on his mind. One example will illustrate this. He had enquired into the precise nature of the controversy on the Atonement, then existing between two good men. He was answered,“ Boih believe and maintain it; but the one has no patience with the other, because he will not allow his explication. He has no more charity than patience; he scarcely admits that his opponent holds the truth.” · But what,' said he, are the sentiments of this heretic?' “ They are these :--As to the term representative, if no more be meant by it than that Christ so personated us as to die in our stead, that we believing in him should not die, I have nothing to object to it. But I do not believe that Christ was so our representative, as that what he did and suffered, we did and suffered, and so became deserving of the divine favour.” “Well,' said our friend, this is a good confession, - this is enough for me; here I find gospeltruth, peace of mind, and eternal salvation ; what more can I wish for ?'—Experience was with him an important part of religion. Often he lamented that he was not more alive to the concerns of his soul. His failings were neither unknown to himself, nor unacknowledged to his friends; but these were lost in the general excellence of his character. As a friend, a brother, a son, a parent, and a husband,-in personal religion and domestic duties,--in the church and in the world, he adorned the doctrine of God our Saviour,--and set an example worthy of imitation.
The following extracts from his Letters will further develope his character, and be aceeptable to those who are likeminded with himself. When last from home, he writes: 'It is unnecessary for me to say how kind Mr.is; you know him too well. If I was his own brother he could not shew me greater affection. I do feel thankful, yet I fear not half thankful enough to our heavenly Father, who fixeth the bounds of our habitations, and hath placed us in the centre of so many mercies. Bless the Lord, our souls! and all that is within us praise his holy name.'-On being informed of the afflicted staie of some of his village hearers, be says, I sympathize most sincerely with poor ---'s family, and also with my old friend; they are (it is our privilege to know) in the Lord's hands, who can support them in their affliction, and
sanctify them by it. Afflictions are not for the present joy. ous but grievons; but if they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, - we shall have reason to say, with David, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted
In a letter to his brother, then in London, in answer to a letter complaining of the dulness of business, he wrote: "Our stock of is still very large; however, don't be uneasy about thein ; act cautiously, and be as comfortable as you can : there is time enough before you; and what time you spend in London, surely will not be lost. You have opportunities of seeing and hearing much that may be greatly to our advantage in future life; but while we allow the necessity of being diligent in business, let us not forget that this ought pot to be our chief concern.
The circumstances of his last illness, we extract from the serinon, preached and published on occasion of his deaib.
He suffered and died, not like a Christian only, but like an eminent Christian. Three things claiin particular notice: -His perfect acquiescence in the wilt of God.' He felt inuch for his family. To a friend, the last day he was down stairs, he said, 'On my own account, I have no auxiety; but I have an affectionate wife!'-he could proceed no further. Respecting himself, I believe, he had no desire but that God would do all his pleasure. This he expressed emphatically when he said,
If the lifting up of my finger would alier the divine determination, I would not do it. When I first saw him after he had taken his bed, I said 'I am sorry, my dear Sir, to see you in this state:' he replied," I am just right, Sir;- pray for patience for me.” On the morning of his diath he said, O Lord, how long!' and shortly he added, “Not my will, but thine be done.'
The sacred confidence he possessed, is the second thing deserv. ing of particular attention. He had no raptures: but the peace and equanimity he had enjoyed in lite, were his in death. As he could leave this world without regret, so he could look forward to the other without dismay.
Thirdly, His confidence and submission were not the effect of insensibility. His affections were lively; and he spake of our Lord Jesus Christ as one who was realizing his inestimable worth. Towards the last he was unable to converse ; and this made him afraid his friends would think him unhappy. In this, however, his fears were grouudi'ss. On the day of his death he was asked if he could still place liis confidence in Jesus Christ, - and it he still found bun precious. His reply was,-'If it was not for that, I should sink.' These, I believe, were nearly his last words; and shortly after this his spirit was peaceably dismissed; and he fell asleep on the 5th of October, 1810, aged 35 years.