Hodge, Elizabeth (nee Clifford) (1797-1854)

Transcription of obituary published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by William Garner

Mrs. Elizabeth Hodge was one of the oldest members of the Primitive Methodist society in the neighbourhood of Hull. She was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Clifford, and was born at Thearn, near Beverley, Yorkshire, May 9th, 1797. Unhappily, her father’s life was regulated by the sinful maxims and customs of this world. Her mother, however, was a pious member of the Wesleyan community, and took her daughter by the hand and led her, when but a child, to the house of God, where she “Heard of heaven, and learned the way.”

At an early age she was brought to a saying acquaintance with gospel truth, and consistently united with the Wesleyan Methodists, by whose instrumentality she had been converted from the error of her ways. With this community she remained in Christian fellowship till about the period when the pioneers of Primitive Methodism missioned the East Riding of Yorkshire. For reasons which we are not prepared to state, but which we trust were of a satisfactory character, she withdrew from the Wesleyans and connected herself with our people; and as the harvest was great and the labourers but few, she was early invited by the church to exercise her talents for public usefulness. Her name was entered on the local preachers plan. In the sphere of a local preacher her services were so generally acceptable, that she shortly received a call to enter the list of itinerant preachers. To this important call she responded “Amen, so let it be.” To a youthful female this was an engagement which necessarily involved great sacrifice, much self-denial, and arduous labour.

In the itinerant sphere she continued to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ for the space of about eight years. The circuits, we understand, to which she was successively stationed were Malton, Pocklington, Scarborough, Driffield, Grimsby, and Louth. In this important relation to the church of Christ her services were favourably received, and crowned with a measure of success. Having laboured in the capacity of a travelling preacher during the period above stated, she entered into the marriage state with Mr. William Hodge, of Hull, who had been in Christian fellowship with the Primitive Methodists from his youth. The fruit of their conjugal union was an only child, who died in infancy. The name of Mrs. Hodge was retained on the preachers’ plan till the period of her dissolution; but in consequence of increasing years and declining health, she had not occupied the pulpit for a considerable time previously to her decease.

If we cannot conscientiously ascribe to our departed friend every attribute of Christian perfection, and hold her up to the church as a saint of the highest order, we feel no hesitancy in ascribing to her the character of a Christian. We cannot say with many biographers, “If she had any failings they were unknown to us;” but “let him that is without fault first cast a stone at her.” The lustre of many a precious gem is obscured by its external incrustation, and the sterling qualities of many a genuine disciple of Christ are not unfrequently undervalued when they are contemplated through the medium of unprepossessing accompaniments. If we mistake not, the subject of this sketch furnished evidence of the correctness of these remarks. Mrs. Hodge was not formed, either constitutionally or by intellectual training, for displaying her Christian virtues to the greatest advantage. We believe, nevertheless, that she was “an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.” Many professors, whose religious attainments are not superior to those which she enjoyed, pass currently for eminent Christians. Mental temperament, native intellect and education, impress mankind both in the world and in the church with an amazing variety of character; but we should never forget, that while man regardeth the outward appearance, God looketh on the heart.

In the character of Mrs. Hodge there were a few traits which we think are worthy of being recorded in the PRIMITIVE METHODIST MAGAZINE. We would notice—

1. Her unostentatious piety—She was no Pharisee. We believe she never cherished an idea of imitating the devotional attitudes and intonations of persons who were reputed for piety, or of counterfeiting heavenly enjoyments which she did not feel. While with humble boldness she confessed Christ before men, she affected no extraordinary sanctity; and with respect to the doctrine of human merit, she knew that it is founded on ignorance and pride.

2. She loved her Bible, and searched it with devout and unwearied attention — Had many women professing godliness been placed in her circumstances, they would have consumed no small portion of their precious time in the pursuit of light and fashionable literature; but for publications of this kind Mrs. Hodge had no relish. The Inspired Volume was her favourite book. To her soul it was a faithful guide in life, and her firm support in death.

3. Her attachment to the house of God was fixed and abiding.—She loved the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. If her appearance at the sanctuary was recently not marked with that regularity which characterized her attendance in by-gone years, it ought to be attributed not to spiritual lethargy, but to physical indisposition. So far as appearance was concerned, allowing for the gravity of her age, she never looked better than she did during the few last years of her mortal existence; but beneath the guise of improved health and vigour an insidious disease was gradually undermining her constitution. Dropsy in the chest ultimately rendered the best available medical assistance ineffectual. This oppressive disease superinduced habits of inaction and retirement, and unquestionably rendered her less sociable than she would have been had she enjoyed a more buoyant condition of health; but our sympathising Saviour knoweth our frame, and compassionates us in suffering and depression. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

4. In her greatly improved temporal circumstances, during the latter years of her life, Mrs. Hodge conducted herself with becoming moderation. Her feet abode within her own dwelling, and she looked well to the affairs of her house; so that the heart of her husband trusted in her. She did not profusely squander the wealth which he honourably acquired by skilful and enterprising industry. To her frugal habits Mr. Hodge is greatly indebted for his temporal prosperity. Although she had ample funds at her command, she manifested no desire to introduce herself into gay and fashionable society. She neither gave nor received costly entertainments. For splendid vanities she felt no ambition. Furnished, as she was, with the chief material for making a grand display, she contented herself with maintaining a genteel and respectable establishment, which was not unbecoming the elevated position in life to which she was raised by a bountiful Providence.

A few individuals, perhaps, thought that some of her domestic arrangements were rather too expensive. At this we are not at all surprised; and if we believed in the doctrine of social equality, we should entertain the same opinion. But we do not think that God ever intended all mankind to dwell in houses affording precisely the same accommodation, to wear raiment of the same shape and texture, or to furnish their apartments with the same kind of articles and workmanship.

5. Another feature in Mrs. Hodge’s character was a generous sympathy with our missionary enterprise. Twenty years ago I was stationed in Hull circuit, Primitive Methodist missions were then in their comparative infancy. But at that early period, and even twelve or fourteen years earlier, Hull circuit exerted itself nobly in extending our home missionary operations. In procuring the necessary funds in support of these labours of love, Mrs. Hodge was one of our most active and successful collectors. In one year she travelled some scores of miles in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, soliciting contributions; and at the anniversary she forwarded to the platform 7l. (Seven Pounds)as the proceeds of her benevolent toil. This was a handsome sum for the early days of Primitive Methodism.

Nor did the zeal of our departed sister in behalf of our missions expire with a solitary spasmodic effort. Till her death she cherished a benevolent regard for this aggressive department of Christian exertion. A short time before her decease, a collector who solicited her aid, was patronized with a handsome subscription in gold. On other kindred occasions we know that her purse was opened cheerfully in support of the same great and glorious undertaking.

We have now only to notice her closing scene. By repeated attacks of internal dropsy she was forewarned that her life was in jeopardy, but probably did not calculate that her departure was so near at hand. On Christmas Day, 1854, she took her usual meals with Mr. Hodge, though she was far from being well. In the evening she retired to rest, but was unable to compose herself to sleep. She had not been in bed long before she felt unusual symptoms, the nature of which she did not apprehend. They were the harbingers of approaching dissolution. She complained of painful chilliness in her extremities, and expressed a fear that her bed had been prepared with damp linen. Efforts were made by her attendants to restore warmth to her shivering limbs, but without the desired effect. She grew rapidly worse. Her medical adviser was promptly called to her relief. To her husband he privately pronounced her case to be hopeless. Gentle stimulants were used, which, for a moment, revived the expiring lamp of life. A. physician was sent for, who had no sooner examined the suffering patient, than he confirmed the judgment of her medical friend. She received the solemn intelligence without alarm, prayed earnestly to God, and in reply to questions proposed by her husband, she expressed her confidence in the Divine mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. At three o’clock in the morning of the 26th December she departed this life, in the fifty-eighth year of her age. On the following Thursday her mortal remains were interred in the Hull cemetery, in the immediate vicinity where repose the ashes of the venerable William Clowes and other disciples of the Redeemer, who recently adorned the Primitive Methodist section of the militant church. In life they loved each other, and in death they are not divided.

Family

Elizabeth was born on 9 May 1797 at Thearne, Yorkshire, to parents William and Elizabeth. She was baptised on 22 May 1798 at St John and St martin, Beverley, Yorkshire.

She married William Hodge on 15 November 1827 at Holy Trinity, Hull, Yorkshire.

Elizabeth died on 26 December 1854 at Hull, Yorkshire.

Circuits

  • 1826 Grimsby (6 mths)
  • 1826 Louth (6 mths)
  • 1827 Louth (6 mths)
  • 1827 Grimsby (6 mths)

References

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1855/201

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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