The Works of David Clarkson (eBook)

by David Clarkson

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RESPECTING the personal history of David Clarkson, a volume of whose works we now submit to the reader, we regret that almost no information has been handed down to us. The following particulars are gleaned from a Memoir by the late Rev. John Blackburn, prefixed to a volume of his Select Works, published by the Wickliffe Society, the contents of which have been kindly placed at our disposal. 

David Clarkson was born at Bradford, in Yorkshire, in the month of February 1621–2. He was educated at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and became fellow and tutor in that College in 1645. He gave up his fellowship in 1651, on his marriage with a Miss Holcroft; and he was afterwards Rector of Mortlake, Surrey, from which he was 'ejected' by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. After this he spent his time in retirement and study, until, in 1682, he was chosen as colleague to Dr John Owen in the pastorship of his congregation in London. On the death of Owen, in the following year, he became sole pastor of the congregation, and discharged his duty faithfully until his death in 1686. 

This is really all that is known of the personal history of our author. Perhaps it is not rightly matter of surprise, however much it is to be regretted, that we can obtain so little insight into the particulars of the every-day life of most of the Puritan Divines. We are not sure that it would be possible to ascertain many particulars of the lives even of distinguished ministers who died forty or fifty years ago, unless special memoirs of them were written immediately after their death; and, of course, the difficulty must be greatly enhanced when the stream of two hundred years has rolled over the sands upon which a man has imprinted his footmarks. And then it is to be remembered that our researches refer to a time when the periodical press had no existence. 

If Owen be admitted to be, as by common consent he seems to be regarded, the 'David' of the Puritan host, and Howe, and Baxter, and Thomas Goodwin to be the 'first three' of its worthies, we believe that the second trio must include the name of David Clarkson, associated probably with those of Charnock and Sibbes, or perhaps Flavel. It is manifest, however, that such a statement is to be taken only in a very general sense. In some respects, Sibbes is as much superior to Goodwin, as in others Goodwin is superior to Sibbes; while in some most important particulars, and especially in respect of clearness and liveliness, Owen himself is unquestionably below all the seven others who have been named, and many others who might have been mentioned. From the very nature of the case, the question of precedence amongst writers cannot be determined but in a vague and general way. No man would ever think of asking the question whether Shakespeare or Bacon were the greater genius, the better writer; or even the more limited question, whether Hume or Gibbon were the better historian, Addison or Johnson the more accomplished essayist. And in the domain of Christian and theological literature, the qualities of different writers are manifestly incommensurable. There are diversities of gifts; and it may not be determined whether the possession of a larger measure of one gift, and a smaller measure of another, be more or less valuable than that of a greater degree of the latter, and a less measure of the former. The clear eye of one may be as precious as the fine ear of another; the delicate touch of one as the firm standing of another; and the eye may not say to the ear, I have no need of thee, nor yet the hand to the foot, I have no need of thee. 

It is, however, unquestionable that, in respect of the qualities of a theological writer, Clarkson occupied a very high place amongst the divines of the Puritan period. His vigorous and clear mind, his extensive and varied learning, his fervent piety and zeal for the glory of God and the good of men, enabled him to produce writings remarkable for soundness of reasoning and fervency of appeal, and adorned with the graces of a tasteful eloquence. There can be no difference of opinion as to the propriety of including in the present series, at least the non-controversial portion of these writings—the theological and practical, as distinguished from the ecclesiastical portion; and we do not doubt that many readers will regard them as, upon the whole, the most valuable, as they will certainly be found to be among the most generally attractive, of all the works of which the series is to be composed. 

His first appearance as an author was in the publication of a sermon which he preached at one of the Cripplegate Morning Exercises. Its title is, 'What Christians must do, that the Influence of the Ordinances may abide upon them.' His next publication was another Morning Exercise sermon, on the thesis 'The Doctrine of Justification is dangerously corrupted in the Romish Church.' This was followed by a quarto volume on 'The Practical Divinity of the Papists, discovered to be destructive of Christianity and men's souls,' a work of great research and candour. His next publications related to the episcopal and liturgical controversy. They were a treatise entitled, 'No Evidence for Diocesan Churches,' and another under the title, 'Diocesan Churches not yet Discovered in Primitive Times.' His sermon on the death of Owen was also published. We find also allusions to anonymous tracts of which he was the author, but it is probable that these are irrecoverably lost. 

His posthumous works were, 'Primitive Episcopacy stated and cleared from the Holy Scriptures and Ancient Records,' and on the 'Use of Liturgies,' a 'Discourse on the Saving Grace of God,' and a large folio volume of sermons. 

These sermons, which will occupy the greater portion of the three volumes which it is intended to include in our series, are thirty-one in number. They are of very various lengths, and, as we venture to think, of very various degrees of excellence. Some of them may be ranked amongst the finest sermons in our language, while others are of little more than average merit. They have the disadvantage which is incident to all posthumous publications, that they contain some things which their author would probably have cut out, and do not contain some things which he would have put in, had he prepared them for the press, or contemplated their publication. Even the fullest of them contain many passages which are evidently only heads and notes for fuller discussions, which were doubtless supplied in the delivery, and which would have been inserted had he revised them for publication. There are also some things which we venture to think he would have omitted. We cannot believe, for example, that so ripe a scholar as he evidently was, would have allowed to pass an argument which he founds on a Hebrew word in the sermon on Original Sin. The root יחﬦ signifies to be warm; and by a very obvious process has the two secondary meanings, to conceive, and to be angry. But Mr Clarkson founds upon this coincidence an argument that the anger of God rests upon man from the instant of his conception. By a slip of a similar character in another sermon, referring to the prodigal's coming to himself, he makes repentance to be a recovering from madness, rather than a change of mind, as if the composition of the Greek word were μετʼ + ἀνοια, and not μετα + νοια. These things any man might write off-hand, but we cannot think that a scholar like Clarkson would have published them. 

But with a few slight drawbacks of this kind, Clarkson's sermons, as a whole, are exceedingly valuable. They appear to us, in respect of style of thought and language, to be in advance of many of the writings of the period. They contain no plays upon words, no grotesque similes, no verbal or logical conceits; but an earnest, strong vindication of great gospel truths, and most affectionate and fervent appeals to sinners to embrace the offered salvation. There is often a considerable resemblance to the matter of some of Goodwin's works; occasionally the same arguments employed in continuance. And we have no doubt that Clarkson was well acquainted with such of Goodwin's writings as were published up to the time when he wrote. 

The doctrine of Clarkson is very decidedly Calvinistic, and is occasionally somewhat harsher than that of most of the puritan Calvinists. There is, for example, an argument respecting the divine sovereignty (p. 380 of this volume) which, the author tells us, 'clears up the absolute dominion of God, and those difficulties which concern it, very much to his own satisfaction.' It is in subtance that God might, on the ground of absolute sovereignty, righteously deprive even a sinless creature of 'being or well-being.' This is, to say the least of it, harsh doctrine. We do not think that anything like it is to be found in Calvin, and we are sure that something very unlike it is to be found in Goodwin. We venture to recommend the reader to compare the sentiments of Clarkson and Goodwin, the one in the passage referred to, the other in the treatise 'Of the Creatures, and the Condition of their State by Creation,' Book II. Chap. i. (Goodwin's Works, Vol. VII. p. 22–27). 

It is hoped that three volumes of our Series may contain all the extant works of Clarkson, with the exception of those on Episcopacy and Liturgies. 

The reader will be interested by the perusal of the following tract, entitled, 'A Short Character of that Excellent Divine Mr David Clarkson, who departed this life 14th of June 1686.' This tract Mr Blackburn unhesitatingly ascribes to Dr Bates, who preached Mr Clarkson's funeral sermon. To us it does not appear that his reason is at all sufficient, it being only that he has seen a copy of it bound up with that sermon.

'Although the commendation of the dead is often suspected to be guilty of flattery, either in disguising their real faults, or adorning them with false virtues; and such praises are pernicious to the living: yet of those persons whom God hath chosen to be the singular objects of his grace, we may declare the praiseworthy qualities and actions which reflect an honour upon the Giver, and may excite us to imitation. And such was Mr David Clarkson, a person worthy of dear memory and value, who was furnished with all those endowments that are requisite in an accomplished minister of the gospel. 

'He was a man of sincere godliness and true holiness, which is the divine part of a minister, without which all other accomplishments are not likely to be effectual for the great end of the ministry, that is, to translate sinners from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Conversion is the special work of divine grace, and it is most likely that God will use those as instruments in that blessed work, who are dear to him and earnestly desire to glorify him. God ordinarily works in spiritual things as in natural; for as in the production of a living creature, besides the influence of the universal cause, there must be an immediate agent of the same kind for the forming of it, so the divine wisdom orders it, that holy and heavenly ministers should be the instruments of making others so. Let a minister be master of natural and artificial eloquence, let him understand all the secret springs of persuasion, let him be furnished with learning and knowledge, yet he is not likely to succeed in his divine employment without sanctifying grace. 'Tis that gives him a tender sense of the worth of souls, that warms his heart with ardent requests to God, and with zealous affection to men for their salvation. Besides, an unholy minister unravels in his actions his most accurate discourses in the pulpit; and like a carbuncle, that seems animated with the light and heat of fire, but is a cold dead stone, so, though with apparent earnestness he may urge men's duties upon them, yet he is cold and careless in his own practice, and his example enervates the efficacy of his sermons. But this servant of God was a real saint; a living spring of grace in his heart diffused itself in the veins of his conversation. His life was a silent repetition of his holy sermons. 

'He was a conscientious improver of his time for acquiring of useful knowledge, that he might be thoroughly furnished for the work of his divine calling. And his example upbraids many ministers, who are strangely careless of their duty, and squander away precious time, of which no part is despicable and to be neglected. The filings of gold are to be preserved. We cannot stop the flight of time, nor recall it when past. Volat irrevocabile tempus. The sun returns to us every day, and the names of the months every year, but time never returns. But this servant of God was faithful in improving this talent, being very sensible, to use his own words, "that the blood of the soul runs out in wasted time." When deprived of his public ministry, he gave himself wholly to reading and meditation, whereby he obtained an eminent degree of sacred knowledge, and was conversant in the retired parts of learning, in which many who are qualified to preach a profitable sermon are unacquainted. 

'His humility and modesty were his distinctive characters wherein he excelled. What a treasure was concealed under the veil of humility! What an illustrious worth was shadowed under his virtuous modesty! He was like a picture drawn by an excellent master in painting, but placed in the dark, so that the exactness of the proportions and the beauty of the colours do not appear. He would not put his name to those excellent tracts that are extant, wherein his learning and judgment are very conspicuous. He was well satisfied to serve the church and illustrate the truth, and to remain in his beloved secrecy. 

'In his conversation a comely gravity, mixed with an innocent pleasantness, were attractive of respect and love. He was of a calm temper, not ruffled with passions, but gentle, and kind, and good; and even in some contentious writings, he preserved an equal tenor of mind, knowing that we are not likely to discover the truth in a mist of passion: his breast was the temple of peace. 

'In the discharge of his sacred work, his intellectual abilities and holy affection were very evident. 

'In prayer, his solemnity and reverence were becoming one that saw him who is invisible: his tender affections, and suitable expressions, how melting and moving, that might convey a holy heat and life to dead hearts, and dissolve obdurate sinners in their frozen tombs. 

'In his preaching, how instructive and persuasive to convince and turn the carnal and worldly from the love of sin to the love of holiness; from the love of the earth, to the love of heaven! The matter of his sermons was clear and deep, and always judiciously derived from the text; the language was neither gaudy and vain, with light trimmings, nor rude and neglected, but suitable to the oracles of God. Such were his chosen acceptable words, as to recommend heavenly truths, to make them more precious and amiable to the minds and affections of men; like the colour of the sky, that makes the stars to shine with a more sparkling brightness. 

"Briefly, whilst opportunity continued, with alacrity and diligence, and constant resolution, he served his blessed Master till his languishing distempers, which natural means could not remove, prevailed upon him. But then the best Physician provided him the true remedy of patience. His death was unexpected, yet, as he declared, no surprise to him, for he was entirely resigned to the will of God; he desired to live no longer, than to be serviceable: his soul was supported with the blessed hope of enjoying God in glory. With holy Simeon, he had Christ in his arms, and departed in peace to see the salvation of God above. How great a loss the church has sustained in his death is not easily valued; but our comfort is, God never wants instruments to accomplish his blessed work."

The following documents, detailing some portions of the Christian experience of two of Mr Clarkson's daughters, will form an appropriate conclusion to this note.

'The choice experience of Mrs REBECCA COMBE, eldest daughter of the late Rev. Mr DAVID CLARKSON, delivered by her on her admission into fellowship with the church, late under the care of the late Rev. Mr THOMAS GOUGE.

'In giving an account of the dealings of God with my soul, I desire truly and sincerely to represent the state of my case; I am sensible it will be in much weakness, but I hope my end is, that God may have the glory of his own work, which he hath wrought on so mean and unworthy a creature as myself. 

'I had the advantage and invaluable blessing of a religious education, both my parents being eminent for wisdom and grace. Under the instructions of my good mother, I had early and frequent convictions, though these impressions lasted not long, for I wore them off, either by a formal engaging in some religious duties, or else by running into such diversions as were suited to my childhood. But my convictions being renewed as I grew up, and it being impressed on my mind that this way of performing duties, by fits and starts, merely to quiet an accusing conscience, would not satisfy the desires of an immortal soul capable of higher enjoyments than I took up with; this put me on serious thoughtfulness what method to pursue, in order to bind myself to a more stated performance of those duties which, I was convinced, the Lord required of me. 

'Accordingly, I made a most solemn resolution to address myself to God by prayer, both morning and evening, and never on any occasion whatever to neglect it, calling the Lord to witness against me if I broke this solemn engagement. But, alas! I soon saw the vanity of my own resolutions, for as I was only found in the performance of duty through fear, and as a task, and, having once omitted it at the set time, I concluded my promise was now broke, and from that time continued in a total neglect of prayer, till it pleased the almighty Spirit to return with his powerful operations, and set my sins in order before me. Then my unsuitable carriage under former convictions, together with my breaking the most solemn engagements to the Lord, wounded me deep. Indeed, I was tempted to conclude I had sinned the unpardonable sin, and should never be forgiven. 

'Yet, in my greatest distress and anguish of spirit, I could not give up all hope, having some views of the free and sovereign grace of God, as extended to the vilest and worst of sinners, though I could not take the comfort of it to myself. My sins appeared exceeding sinful. I even loathed and abhorred myself on account of them, and was continually begging a deeper sense and greater degree of humiliation. I thought I could have been content, yea, I was desirous, to be filled with the utmost horror and terror of which I was capable, if this might be a means of bringing me to that degree of sorrow which I apprehended the Lord expected from so vile a creature. The heinous nature of my sins, and their offensiveness to the pure eyes of his holiness, were ever before me, insomuch that I thought I could not be too deeply wounded, or feel trouble enough. 

'This put me on a constant and restless application to God through Christ, from whom alone I now saw all my help must come. I had tried the utmost I could do, and found it left me miserably short of what the law required and I wanted. I was convinced that an expectation of some worthiness in myself, as the condition of my acceptance before God, was that which had kept me so long from Christ and the free promises of the gospel; and therefore, as enabled, I went to the Lord, and pleaded those absolute promises of his word, which are made freely to sinners in his Son, without the least qualification to be found in me. I was enabled to urge those encouraging words, Rev. 22:17, "Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely;" also Isa. 55:1, "Without money and without price;" with many more of the like nature, which would be too tedious to mention. I desired to come to Christ, unworthy as I was, and cast my soul entirely upon him, for I clearly saw that all I had heretofore done profited me nothing, since my very prayers, considered as a sinner, were an abomination to the Lord. There was nothing left therefore for me to take the least comfort and encouragement from but the free grace of God in Christ Jesus, which I continued to plead with much earnestness, and found my soul enlarged beyond whatever I had experienced before. 

'Soon after, I providentially opened a manuscript of my father's, and cast my eye upon that part of it where he was shewing what pleas a sensible sinner might make use of in prayer. Many things were mentioned which were very reviving. I was miserable, and that might be a plea. I might also plead his own mercy, the suitableness, the largeness, and the freeness of his mercy. I might plead my own inability to believe, of which I was very sensible. I might also plead the will of God, for he commands sinners to believe, and is highly dishonoured by unbelief. I might likewise plead the descent of faith, it is the gift of God, and the nature of this gift, which is free. Yea, I might plead the examples of others who have obtained this gift, and that against the greatest unlikelihood and improbabilities that might be. I might and could plead further, my willingness to submit to anything, so that I might but find this favour with the Lord. Moreover, I might plead Christ's prayer and his compassions; the workings of his Spirit already begun; that regard which the Lord shews to irrational creatures; he hears their cries, and will he shut out the cries of a poor perishing sinner?—in short, I might plead my necessity and extreme need of faith, a sense of which was deeply impressed on my soul.* 

'On reading these pleas I found great relief, yea, they were to me as a voice from heaven, saying, This is the way, walk in it. I was enabled to go and act faith upon a Redeemer, and could give up my all to him, and trust in him alone for all. I was now convinced by his Spirit that he would work in me what was well-pleasing and acceptable to God, and that he required nothing of me but what his free rich grace would bestow upon me. Now was Christ exceeding precious to my soul, and I longed for clearer discoveries of him, both in his person and offices, as prophet, priest, and king. 

And oh, how did I admire his condescending love and grace to such a poor, wretched, worthless creature as myself! I was greatly delighted in frequent acts of resignation to him, desiring that every faculty of my soul might be brought into an entire obedience, and could part with every offensive thing, and would not have spared so much as one darling lust, but was ready to bring it forth and slay it before him. In short, I could now perceive a change wrought in my whole soul; I now delighted in what before was my greatest burden, and found that most burdensome in which I before most delighted. I went on pleasantly in duty; my meditation on him was sweet, and my heart much enlarged in admiring his inexpressible love and grace, so free, and sovereign, to so wretched a creature, which even filled my soul with wonder and love. 

But this delightful frame did not long continue, for I was soon surprised with swarms of vain thoughts, which appeared in my most solemn approaches to God, and such violent hurries of temptation, as greatly staggered my faith, which was weak. Hereupon I was ready to give up all, and to conclude that I had mocked God, and cheated my own soul; that these wandering thoughts, and this unfixedness of mind in duty, could never consist with a sincere love to the things of God. I thought my heart had been fixed, but oh how exceeding deceitful did I then find it! which greatly distressed me, and made me conclude my sins were rather increased than mortified, insomuch that I was ready to cry out, "Oh, wretched creature that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" and in consideration of the power and prevalency of indwelling corruptions and daily temptations which I had to grapple with, I was ready to say, "I shall one day fall by the hands of these enemies." 

'But these discouragements were fully removed by reading some of my father's writings, where it was observed that a person had no reason to conclude his sins were more increased merely because they appeared more, and became more troublesome, since this arose from the opposition they now met with, from that principle of grace which now was implanted. Hence I learned, that before the flesh reigned quietly in me, and therefore I perceived not the lusts thereof, but now all the powers and faculties of my soul were engaged against them, they gave me the greatest disturbance, and struggled more and more. Also these words were impressed on my mind with an efficacious power, 2 Cor. 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for thee," which gave me peace in believing that it should be to me according to his word. 

'Thus, after many conflicts, comforts, and supports, I determined to give myself up to some church, that I might partake of the Lord's Supper, and have my faith confirmed in the blood of that everlasting covenant, which I hoped the Lord had made with me, since he had given me his Spirit as the earnest thereof. I accordingly was joined to a church, and in coming to this ordinance, found great delight: my faith was strengthened and my love increased from that sweet communion I then enjoyed with my Lord by his blessed Spirit, who often filled me with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Thus I walked under the sweet and comfortable sense of his love; and whilst in the way of my duty, I was thus indulged with such sights of the Redeemer's glory, and such a taste of his grace, I frequently wished that I might never more go back to the world again. 

But after all these manifestations, oh wretched creature! God in his providence calling me more into the world by changing my condition, this new relation brought new afflictions and new temptations, which, being too much yielded to, insensibly prevailed, and brought me into such perplexing darkness that I want words to express it. I lost the sense of the love of God, and hence my duty was performed without that delight I had once experienced, the want of which made me often neglect it, and especially in private, while I attended on public worship with little advantage or pleasure. 

The consideration of this decay in my love, and the loss of those quickening influences of the Spirit which I used to experience in duty, increased my darkness, and I had doleful apprehensions of my state. And my inordinate love to the creature, and want of submission to the will of the Lord, in disposing of what I had so unduly set my heart on, prepared me to look for awful things, in a way of judgment from the righteous God, which I afterwards found; his hand was soon laid on that very object by which I had so provoked him; for a disorder seized him, under which he long languished, till it ended in his death.* 

'This was a melancholy stroke, and the more so as I saw his hand stretched out still, for I continued in an unsuitable temper, and without that submission which such a dispensation called for. The Lord still hid his face from me, and it is impossible to give a particular account of those perplexing thoughts and tormenting fears which filled my mind. Everything appeared dreadfully dark both within and without. Oh, were it possible to describe it to others as I then felt it, they would dread that which will separate between them and God! I expected, if the Lord did return, it would be in a terrible way, by some remarkable judgment or other; but oftentimes, from the frame I was in, I could see no ground to hope he would ever return at all. 

'But was it to me according to my dismal apprehensions and fears? Oh, no! my soul and all that is within me bless and adore his name, under a sense of his free and sovereign grace, who manifested himself unto thee as a God, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin. This was the title by which he manifested himself to Moses when he caused his glory to pass before him, Exod. 34:6, 7. And it was in the clear apprehension, and powerful application of this by the almighty Spirit that I was brought to admire so greatly the free grace of God, thus discovered to me in so extraordinary a manner, that it even transported my very soul with love and thankfulness, beyond anything that I had experienced in the whole of my past life. 

'The beginning of this wonderful alteration in my frame, was hearing the experience of one which I thought very much like my own, when the Lord first began to work on my soul. I concluded that this person was the subject of a real and universal change; on this occasion, I determined to consider my former experience, in doing of which I found the blessed Spirit of all grace assisting me, and witnessing to his work upon my heart, insomuch that, ere I was aware, my soul was like the chariots of a willing people; I was wonderfully enlivened in duty, and enlarged in thankfulness to God for thus manifesting himself, and directing me to those means which he had so inexpressibly blessed, beyond my expectation. 

'Thus the Lord drew me by the cords of love, and lifted up the light of his countenance upon me, so that in his light I saw light, which scattered that miserable cloud of darkness that had enwrapped my soul so long. Yea, he dispelled all those unbelieving thoughts which were apt to arise, on account of that low estate out of which he had newly raised me. It was suggested to me that this was not his ordinary way of dealing with such provoking creatures as myself, but that they are usually filled with terrors, and brought down even to a view of the lowest hell, &c. Thus Satan endeavoured to hold me under unbelieving fears, but the blessed Spirit, by taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them unto me, prevailed over the temptation. 

'I had a discovery of the glory of the Father's love, as unchangeable, free, and eternal, which was discovered in pitching on me before the foundation of the world. And the glory of the Son as proceeding from the Father, and offering a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, and in bringing in an everlasting righteousness, which by his Spirit he enabled me to rest wholly and alone upon, as the foundation of every blessing which I have received, or he has promised, for the whole of my acceptance before God, for my justification, sanctification, and full redemption. On this foundation he has enabled me stedfastly to rely, which greatly enlivens and enlarges my soul in its addresses to the Father, through the Son, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for pardon and strength, against those powerful corruptions which still remain in my heart. 

'Oh the love, the infinite, condescending, and unchanging love of the Father! and oh that fulness of grace which is treasured up in my Redeemer, to be bestowed on me by his promised Spirit, of which so much hath already been communicated, that my soul is even overwhelmed under the sense and consideration of it! The Lord appears to me as resting in his love, and joying over me with singing, as it is expressed, Zeph. 3:17, which scripture, with many others, has been so opened and applied as makes my approaches to him exceeding delightful. And this sense of his love lays me low in the views of my own vileness and unworthiness, and constrains me to love him and live to him, and to give him all the glory of that change, which of his own free and sovereign grace, he has wrought in me. There was nothing in me to move him to this, yea, what was there not in me to provoke him to cast me off for ever? But thus it hath pleased him to magnify his grace and mercy on a creature the most unworthy of any that ever received a favour at his hands. 

'I know not where to end. He has recovered me from amongst the dead, and he shall have the glory of it whilst I live; yes, I will praise him, and tell of the wonders of his love to others, that so he may be honoured, and none may distrust him. He has filled me with his praises, though he has not given me that natural capacity which some have been blessed with, to express what I feel and find, of his work on my soul. But this I can say, I have found him whom my soul loves, he hath manifested himself to me, and there is nothing I dread so much as losing sight of him again. His presence makes all his ordinances, and all his providences, and everything delightful unto me. It is impossible to express the joy of my soul in sweet converses with him, with a sense of his love and the experience of his presence, under the influences of his Spirit, whose office it is to abide with me, and to guide, direct, and comfort me for ever. 

'It is from a sense of my duty, and a desire to follow the direction of that blessed Spirit, that I request fellowship with you of this church. Amongst you my Lord has been pleased to discover himself to me, and to make the ministry you sit under exceeding useful and comfortable to my soul; by it I have been built up and settled on the right foundation, the righteousness of Christ, that rock that shall never be moved. Your order likewise appears to me very beautiful and lovely, being, as I apprehend, most agreeable to the rules of my Lord. Hence I desire to have communion with you, that so by your example and watchfulness over me, and the other advantages arising from church-fellowship, I may find what I expect and earnestly desire in communion with you, namely, that I may experience fellowship with the Father and the Son, through the eternal Spirit, whilst I wait upon him in the ways of his own appointment. 


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