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Lawrence Clarkson

Lawrence Clarkson was a zealous preacher among the separatists in the'beginning of the civil wars, and in the year 16*14, having embraced the sentiments of the antip;edoi>aptists, was baptized by immersion. He appears to have preached at various places in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; and even in a few months after avowing a change of sentiment, warrants were issued against him in both counties, for the marvellous sin of dipping. He was soon apprehended, and, by the committee of Suffolk, was sent to prison. Having lain in prison several months, and his friends in those parts having petitioned the committee for his release, but without success, an order was at length obtained, either from a committee of parliament, or from the chairman of it, requiring his discharge. The county committee, however, refused to obey this order. They were resolved not to release him. After confinement upwards of six months, Mr. Clarkson himself petitioned the committee, and signified his retraction of his sentiments concerning baptism. This petition was as follows:

" The humble petition of Lawrence Clarkson humbly " sheweth—That whereas your petitioner hath been above

six mouths in bonds for dipping; in which time he has " taken great pains, both by dispute and searching the " scriptures, in which he doth Mud, and is convinced, that " he ought not to dip any more. Neither, alter the day of " his conviction, being July 10, will your petitioner either " dip or teach the same; but only wait upon God for a "further manifestation of his truth. So, expecting your " worship's answer, shall daily pray.

" Lawrence Clarkson."

Upon Mr. Clarkson's appearance before the committee, he was required to sign the following recantation, as entered in the committee's books:

" July 15, 1645. " This day Lawrence Clarkson, formerly committed for " an anabaptist, and for dipping, doth now before this " committee disclaim his errors. And whereas formerly " he said he durst not leave his dipping, if he might gain " all the committee's estates by so doing, now he saitb, that " he by the holy scriptures is convinced, that his said ' " opinions were erroneous, and that he will not, and dare not " practise it again, if he migltt gain all the committee's " estates by doing it. And that he makes this recantation, " not for fear, or to gain his liberty, but merely out of a u sense of his errors, wherein he will endeavour to reform u others.

" Lawrence Claiikson." Mr. Edwards, in publishing this account, endeavoured to expose the weaknesses and infirmities of the sectaries, against whom he manifested an implacable hatred. Accordingly, he further observes, that Mr. Clarkson, after his release, turned seeker, denying the scriptures to be a sufficient rule of doctrine and practice, and thnt the whole will of God was yet revealed. Being separated from the baptists, he published a pamphlet in his own defence, entitled, "The Pilgrimage of Saints, by Church cast out, in Christ found, seeking Truth." In this pamphlet he endeavoured to acquit himself, by observing, " That 1m; did not assert the baptism of believers by immersion to be an error, but only intended that it was erroneously practised, there being now no true churches, nor true administrators of that ordinance."* Whether this be indeed a sufficient vindication of his conduct, is left with the candid reader to determine. Our author, speaking of Mr. Clarkson and several others, declares, " They were worse than papists; and there never were monsters more to be abhorred than, they."t

This censorious writer observes, that Mr. Clarkson, preaching on a Lord's day afternoon, at. Bow church, in Chcapside, London, he began his prayer to God with right honourable Lord God; and prayed that God would bless the king's army, and bless the saints in both the parliament and the king's army; and his sermon was a rhapsody of nonsense. " This," says he, " was not done in a corner, but in a great and full audience; when there was present one member of the house of commons, if not more, besides divers other persons of quality. Though this Clarkson was in London some time after this, yet was he never questioned, nor called to any accouut for this, that I could ever learn.

• Kdwards'i Gangnenn, part i. p. 104—106. Second Kdit.

t Ibid. p. 811. | Ibid, pan ii. p. 6. Third Edit.

Mr. Bailie, who was no less indignant than his brother

uniformity of a national church, tells us, that Mr. Clarkson and his brethren preached, " That the moral law of God did not bind anj christian to obedience; that magistrates ought not to punish murderers, if they were church members; that all preachers, who pressed repentance and sorrow for sin, were legal; that God was not displeased with the sins of his saints, and would not have them to be displeased with them; and that all our duties are done for us by Christ."*