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David Clarkson

David Clarkson (1622–1686) was born in Yorkshire, England. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterwards appointed a fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. He married Elizabeth Holcroft in 1651 and Elizabeth Kendrick in 1664. He served as rector of Crayford, Kent; Mortlake, Surrey; and with John Owen in Leadenhall Street, London.

Curiosmith features:
Soul Idolatry Excludes Men Out of Heaven
What Advantage May We Expect from Christ's Prayer for Union with Himself?

David Clarkson Book list:

  • Discourse on Episcopacy. (A)
  • Discourse on Free Grace. (A)
  • Discourse on Liturgies. (A)
  • Funeral Sermon for Dr. Owen; which may be seen in the Collection of the Doctor's Sermons and Tracts.
  • No Evidence for Diocesan Episcopacy in Primitive Times; in Answer to Stillingfleet.
  • Practical Divinity of the Papists destructive to Christianity and Men's Souls. (The)
  • Sermons.
  • Two Sermons in Morning Exercises.


Extended Biography of David Clarkson

In the galaxy of illustrious divines of the seventeenth century, David Clarkson shone with a distinguished luster. He was the son of Mr. Robert Clarkson, of Bradford, Yorkshire, and was baptized there, March 3, 1622. At an early age he was sent to the University of Cambridge, where he made great proficiency in his studies, became fellow of Clare Hall, and a distinguished tutor in his college. Among others whom he had under his care was Mr., afterwards Archbishop Tillotson, who always maintained for him that high respect which he had contracted while under his tuition. He married the daughter of Sir Henry Holcroft, and the sister of the Rev. Henry Holcroft, who was fellow of the same college, and afterwards minister of Cliffe, in Kent. Clarkson held the living of Mortlake, in Surrey, from whence he was ejected for his nonconformity. After this, he gave himself up to reading and meditation, shifting from one place of obscurity to another, till the times suffered him to appear openly. In July, 1682, he was chosen co-pastor with Dr. Owen, of an Independent congregation in Bury-street, St. Mary Axe, London; and upon the Doctor's death in the following year, succeeded to the whole charge. Here he continued until his death, which was sudden and unexpected. He died June 14, 1686, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Bates, who gives him the following character: "He was a man of sincere godliness and true holiness, which is the divine part of a minister. 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. Humility and modesty were his distinctive characters, wherein he excelled. He was well satisfied to serve the church, and illustrate the truth, and to remain in his beloved secrecy. In 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. His breast was the temple of peace. In the discharge of his sacred work, his intellectual abilities and holy affections were very evident. In prayer his solemnity and reverence were becoming one that saw Him who is invisible. His preaching was instructive and persuasive. The matter of his sermons were 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. His death was unexpected, but 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."

Baxter says, " He was a divine of extraordinary worth, for solid judgment, healing, moderate principles, acquaintance with the fathers, great ministerial abilities, and a godly upright life." In 1681, he published, Diocesan Churches not yet discovered in primitive Times; in answer to Dr. Stillingfleet. "This book," says Granger, "shows him to have been a man of great reading in church history." He also published, The Practical Divinity of the Papists proved destructive of Christianity and Men's Souls. His funeral sermon on Dr. Owen is on Philippians 3:21: "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." After his death was published, A Discourse on Free Grace; another on Episcopacy; and a third against Liturgies. In 1696, there appeared a collection of his sermons, in one large volume folio; to which was prefixed a fine portrait of the author, engraved by White. John Howe and Matthew Mead introduced them with this short preface: "The Rev. Mr. Clarkson was so esteemed for his excellent abilities, that there needs no adorning testimony, to those who knew him; and the following sermons, wherein the signatures of his spirit are very conspicuous, will sufficiently recommend his worth to those who did not know him. They are printed from his original papers, and, with the Divine blessing, will be very useful to instruct and persuade men to be seriously religious." They are thirty-one in number, and are some of the very best in the English language. His sermons in the Morning Exercises are:—What must Christians do, that the influence of the ordinances may abide upon them?—What advantage may we expect from Christ's Prayer for union with himself, and the blessings relating to it?—The doctrine of justification dangerously corrupted by the Romish church.

Source: Dunn, Samuel. Memoirs of Seventy-Five Eminent Divines Whose Discourses Form the Morning Exercises Cripplegate, St. Giles in the Fields, and in Southwark. London: John Snow, 1844.