Written by David Clarkson, (1622–1686) was an English ejected minister.
Taken from “The Practical Works of David Clarkson,” “Of Faith,” pp. 127-128.
Edited for thought and sense.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” –Romans 8:29-30
Let me speak to those that are convinced of their sin and misery…
…who are apprehensive of the weight and burden of sin and wrath; who not only see, but feel an absolute necessity of Christ; who highly value Christ, and prefer him above all; and whose souls are drawn out in strong and restless desires after him. These are they indeed whom Christ invites to come to him, and rest their weary souls on him. But several discouragements there are ordinarily cast in their way by Satan and unbelief, which hinder them from complying with Christ, and closing with the promise.
One objection wherein humbled souls are ordinarily entangled is drawn from election.
Oh, says the soul, I fear I am not elected; and then what ground have I to believe in Christ, to rest on him for pardon and life? Faith is peculiar to chosen vessels, it is called the faith of God’s elect. If I knew that I belonged to the election of grace, then I might believe indeed; but till then, I cannot, I dare not; till then, I cannot think that Christ or the promise belongs to me. To this I answer, it is impossible to know election before faith; therefore to desire this is to go about to compass impossibilities. This was never done, nor ever will be. If this had been stood upon, there had been no faith in the world, no soul had ever believed in Christ; for it is not possible for any to know he is elected till he believe. This is to desire to see thy name is writ in the book of life, written in heaven, before thou hast an eye to see it.
It is the eye of faith that only sees this, that alone can read this; it is impossible you should see it without an eye, without this eye.
It is impossible you should read this in the book of life till that book be opened; now it is a book shut and sealed till faith open it. Election is a secret, it runs under ground till faith. When the soul believes, then it first breaks forth; then, and not till then, is this secret made known and brought to light. When you desire assurance of it before, you desire to know that which cannot be known, to see that which cannot be discerned.
It is preposterous to attempt this, is to set the cart before the horse, to desire to be at the end before ye are in the way; as if a man would be at a good distance from him before he set a foot out of his own door. As if the Israelite’s would have been in Canaan, that pleasant land, before they were come out of Egypt. This is to have a conclusion proved without any premises, without any good medium to prove it by. You must first have the ground and medium before you can reason and draw the conclusion.
If ever you would conclude on good ground that you are elected, faith must be the ground on which you must conclude it. I believe, therefore, I am elected and that is the method wherein the Lord would have you reason. First, make that sure, I believe; and then this conclusion will be easy and certain, I am elected. This is the apostle’s method, 1 Thes. 1:4, first the work of faith, and then the election of God.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: David Clarkson (1622–1686) was an English ejected minister. The son of Robert Clarkson, he was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, where he was baptised on 3 March 1622. He was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and by virtue of a warrant from the Earl of Manchester was admitted fellow on 5 May 1645, being then B.A. Clarkson had pupils until 26 March 1650, among them John Tillotson, who succeeded him in his fellowship about 27 November 1651.
Clarkson obtained the perpetual curacy of Mortlake, Surrey, and held it till his ejection by the Uniformity Act 1662. After two decades of covert movement he became, in July 1682, colleague to John Owen as pastor of an independent church in London, and on Owen’s death in the following year he succeeded him as sole pastor. He died rather suddenly on 14 June 1686, and his funeral sermon was preached by William Bates
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