By Adam Clarke
For some years before the lamented death of Dr. Clarke, he was
repeatedly solicited to collect his rich and ample materials, and
give to the world a Biblical Dictionary; and Theological Institutes,
or a System of Christian Theology, in one or two portable and cheap
volumes. He acknowledged that each of these was a great desideratum.
He felt strongly inclined to prepare them, and even made a
beginning. In one of his letters he writes:—"I have laid the
foundation of a Biblical Dictionary." In another he says:—"I may
possibly write some Institutes; but I shall put my Homer into a
nutshell." On another occasion he observed: "If you were stationed
in the south, and would assist me, I could do many things, but my
eyes will not now bear any intense application." Such an appointment
never took place; and before the worthy doctor had proceeded far, he
was called hence. Had he accomplished his object, he would doubtless
have produced a volume deserving a place in every Christian library.
If it be inquired what induced me to attempt to supply his lack; I
answer, my strong affection for the man; my high admiration of his
writings; my deep conviction that such a volume would probably prove
a blessing to many; and I may perhaps, in proof of the doctor's
confidence and affection, be allowed to refer to the following
passage in one of his letters, which to me is sufficiently
affecting: "O that my strength were as in days that are past! While
writing, it seems as if whispered to me, 'Your time is at
hand—Samuel Dunn shall be your proxy in my work.' This is enough!"
Though painfully conscious of great inability, I have "done what I
could." Others will judge of the manner in which the part of
selecting and systematizing has been executed.
That this manual will be found useful for the purpose of reference, to those individuals who possess the doctor's other works; and that those who possess them not will be induced, from this specimen, to procure them as soon as possible, is, perhaps, not an unreasonable expectation. The unrivalled Commentary, which is now in course of publication in an elegant and cheap form,—with "multitudinous emendations and corrections from the author's own and last hand,"—I should like to see in every family, from the Norman to the Shetland Isles.
While I indulge the hope that the short Life in this volume will be acceptable to many readers, I have great pleasure in stating that Mrs. Smith, of Stoke Newington, the amiable and accomplished "member of the family," to whom the public is so greatly indebted for the preservation of such valuable materials, is preparing a cheap edition of the life of her distinguished father.
April 9 th, 1835