This Day in Presbyterian History:
He Shouldn’t Have Been Elected
Given his political choice of party, which was Federalist, in the early nineteenth century in Delaware, he should have been a Methodist or an Episcopalian. Those denominations usually won office to the position of governor in the state. But John Clark was a Federalist Presbyterian, an oddity to be sure. Obviously Someone higher than those in earthly roles was directing this race and subsequent win to the governor’s chair.
John Clark was born in 1761 on the family farm in New Bristol, north of Smyrna, Delaware. He had limited schooling in his younger days, but made up for it with an insatiable desire for the knowledge in books. He was “well read,” as the papers put it at that time. In 1784, he married Sarah Corbit, a daughter herself of a governor of Delaware. They had one daughter and possibly others, which history doesn’t name for us.
John Clark obviously had the gifts of leadership. He was the Colonel of the Third Regiment of Militia for a year in 1807 – 1808. He served as a sheriff, a state treasurer, a member of the State House, and then as governor of Delaware. His accomplishments included improvements in educational opportunities. His argument was that Delaware is a small state and not suitable for increased opportunities in business. Better plans must to be made to develop the mental capabilities of its citizens.
After serving for his term as governor, he became involved in banking business in Smyrna, Delaware. He died on August 14, 1821 and is buried in the cemetery of Duck Creek Presbyterian Church in Smyrna.
This contributor looked in vain for any quotable quotes on the significance of personal Christianity in the state or country, and his beliefs on those topics. The only hope we have for a credible profession of faith is that his membership was in the Presbyterian church and his burial was in a Presbyterian cemetery. Usually in those days, such inclusion would not have taken place unless there was a credible testimony in Christ as Lord and Savior.
Words to live by: Both words and spiritual fruits must be found in Christians to declare that redemption has taken place in a believer’s life. They may have been found at the time with respect to John Clark, but were simply not recorded in the usual sources we have available today. Let it not be said of you though, that no expressions of Christianity are found lacking in your mouth. Let there be no doubt that you are a professing and confessing Christian to all who observe what you say and do.
Through the Scriptures: Jeremiah 30 – 32
Through the Standards: The source and contents of Christian liberty
“The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin; from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also, in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law. But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.”