A tribute to the life
and legacy of

A. E. Clarkson

A Business man's testimony

‘Ye shall be my witnesses’

By A. E. Clarkson.

Often I have been urged to give publicity to my Christian experience and have been assured that its publication would be a source of helpfulness to many. I have hesitated to make a public matter of a personal experience, but now I send it forth in sincere humility, in the hope that its narration may be to the glory of God and the encouragement of many a reader.

Mine was a Clear-cut Conversion.

It was an arrest of grace. As a lad of fourteen I was wilful, and fast forming wrong attachments and doubtful habits, but I thank God for the kindly interest shown in me by a gentleman, whose memory is hallowed in the hearts of hundreds of men today. This man’s loving interest in my welfare was like the pursuing love of God, and on July 4, 1890, I was soundly converted.
There was no doubt of it; it was a ‘right about turn.’ It changed my companionships, it brought me into touch with some of the best of God’s people, and inculcated habits of study and reflection. It was 

A Moral and Mental Redemption

No less than a spiritual one. My friend nurtured me in the Lord, and was wondrously wise and patient; for he did not always find in me an apt pupil.

I passed my examination as a local preacher at the age of eighteen years, and have been preaching ever since. Let me say here to any youthful reader that the Methodist Church presents to its laity wonderful opportunities of public service.
In reviewing the past years I can say emphatically that my first beginnings as a public speaker date from those early local preaching efforts. I learned the art of preparation and expression. It meant hard work and self-denial, but if I have since achieved any measure of success as a public man, I can date it back to my conversion, and to my early training in public speaking as a local preacher.
At thirteen years of age, as a message boy at a weekly wage of five shillings, I entered the business which now bears my name, and by a long series of remarkable incidents I have lived to see one of the oldest businesses in Australia take on my name as Chairman of Directors.
My father was a working man, and attained the ripe age of eighty years, but I thank God that whilst he left no heritage of land or money, he bequeathed to me a better asset—a sound body, and taught me to value a clean mind and an upright character.

‘I thank Thee, Lord, for work;
From the dark, curse of idle days
I have been free; and now for toil
And daily task I give Thee praise;
Let heart, not hands, be saved from soil.’

With the outbreak of the war came added responsibilities —

Business, Domestic, and National.

My eldest son enlisted on his eighteenth birthday, and immediately my interest in the war became more personal and intimate.
Parental anxiety naturally had its reflex action upon my spiritual life.
My days were so full of business and of social calls that, like the foolish virgins, I discovered my lamp was ‘going out,’ and that I had very little oil ‘in the vessel with the lamp.’
I had succeeded in my commercial life, and had reached a stage of financial comfort. My business and social activities were such, that I had retired from the superintendency of a thriving Sunday school. I continued to preach, but was more concerned that my sermons should be orderly and dignified, than owned of the Holy Spirit. I had lost my ‘vision,’ and knew myself critical and cold of heart.

In, May, 1918, an old friend, the captain of an interstate trader, called at my home. He was always a welcome guest, but during the war-years his vessel had not visited Adelaide. With all the candour, of a privileged friend he touched upon my growing activities in the commercial and social worlds, and expressed disappointment that I had resigned the superintendeney of the Sunday school. He amazed me by saying that my name was on his prayer-list, and that for many years he had daily prayed that I should step out into

A Life of Liberty in Christ.

Many influences contributed to a growing dissatisfaction with my spiritual experience, and when several business men of Melbourne suggested visiting South Australia at their own expense, with the idea of initiating a “Local Preachers’ Association” similar to that of Melbourne, I readily urged them to come. My first contact with these men, however, aroused my keenest antagonism; though greatly impressed with their earnestness, I resented their methods and insistence. Yet it was obvious that they were in possession of a vital experience, and there was a sense of reality in their words and conduct. Never shall I forget the evening of

June 30, 1918,

when an evangelistic service was being conducted by them. The appeal for consecration was prolonged, and my sense of propriety was thereby outraged. If I prayed at all it was that the meeting should quickly close. But the Holy Spirit continued His gracious ministry in me, and when I saw my eldest daughter, making the only public response to the appeal, He worked the miracle of my life. It seemed as if in one moment of time all opposition, cynicism and self-will were obliterated from my consciousness. I sat in the pew self-condemned and ashamed of my mental and spiritual antagonism.
That I, a Christian and a local preacher, should have been cold of heart and full of criticism whilst my first-born girl was yielding her life to the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit! It took but a few minutes for me to find my place alongside her; none other but her father should direct her to the Saviour!

A Spiritual Revolution

happened that night, and verily I believe it to have been physical and mental, too. For days there was a I wonderful peace and calm; a confident assurance, yet a complete ignorance as to the ultimate issue.
One experience stands out vividly in my memory. It was a night in the following July—in my bedroom in the “Carrington” Hotel, away up in the Blue Mountains. I was ‘right up against it’ —it was the ‘cross-roads’ of my Christian experience. The door was locked. It was long past midnight, but like Jacob, I wrestled till the break of day, determined not to let Him go until He blessed me. During that night I read through Weymouth’s version of the Acts of the Apostles twice, marking every reference to the Holy Spirit, and noting the signs that followed His operations. ‘Why should not these signs be with me?’ I asked myself.
‘What difference can there be between me and those disciples? I am just as eager as they! Then what hinders?’ So throughout that long night ‘I fought my doubts and gathered strength, until

‘He Blessed Me There!’

With deep humility and gratitude declare that never since that night have I looked back. I have often been unfaithful and disobedient, but never have I had any doubt concerning the reality of that experience. There was an immediate change in my outlook. Christ became my life. My mind, body and will were His. He entered into possession, and became my victory and peace. Mine was a changed life — fundamentally and definitely. It was a spiritual revolution. I had always been a student of God’s word, but now old stories and familiar passages became

Illumined with New Meaning.

I was quick to note the changed point of contact with my fellows. It was all very wonderful. It was such a miracle, such a change that obviously it was all of grace.  I have a pronounced reluctance in speaking too much of my own experience. The Holy Spirit in His own way deals with each of us along the lines of personality and environment. Concerning this much, however, I would like to be emphatic. I was brought to the point of complete surrender; I yielded my body, soul, spirit, with all their powers, gifts, and functions to my Lord and Redeemer for His own possession and use.

I Ceased My Self-Effort

and rested upon His all-sufficient grace. I gave Him right of way in my life, and quietly enjoyed the consciousness of His indwelling life.
A natural sharpness of tongue and manner, a quick display of irritation, and an impatience with the faults of others, had often silenced any public expression of my Christian experience; but now all was different. Christ reigned within, and “the life which I now lived in the flesh, I lived by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  As Schofield expresses it, it was ‘the out-living of the in-living Christ.’
As an outcome of the visit of the Melbourne men our Local Preachers’ Association began its activities in weekend missions along similar lines to those conducted in Victoria.

Our First Mission.

Was remarkable in its effects and influence. There were crowded congregations, and the Holy Spirit worked wonders. There were many conversions, and scores of persons entered into a vital Christian experience.
I have since taken part in many missions in every State of the Commonwealth, and have often witnessed remarkable outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
During the past eight years I have enjoyed the rich fellowship of many choice souls who have met every Thursday night for prayer, praise and fellowship. These meetings are under the auspices of the Local Preachers’ Association, and are for men of any denomination or none. It is an evidence of their vitality that during this period an average weekly attendance of about forty has been maintained.

The Years Have Brought

many changes in my domestic and business affairs. I have always enjoyed the helpful co-operation of my dear wife. We have five sons and five daughters, and it is an occasion of devout thankfulness that they all find their interests in the things of the Kingdom. Ours is a happy home; full of joy and peace. It has proved a veritable haven of refuge, which has made it possible for me to give much time to outside work and interests.

I believe God’s, hand has been upon me in my business enterprises.  Since June, 1918, I have seen surprising developments in my commercial undertakings, and today I am occupying many important and responsible positions. I have stepped out on God’s own promise: ‘Them that honour Me I will honour.’ (1 Sam. 2:30).

The immediate future is full of tremendous problems for the Christian businessman, and I am not unmindful of its challenge. World unrest and industrial chaos call for some solution, and I have a growing conviction that it can be found only in Jesus Christ. May I ask for your prayers that I shall not be ‘disobedient to the heavenly vision’?