A Clear Confutation of all Arminians

Laurence Claxton

Originally Printed In 1659

Posted On August 15, 2019

A Clear Confutation of all Arminians – called Free-Willers – that deny God’s Prerogative Power in the Matter of Damnation & Salvation.

Laurence Clarkson, 1615–1667, also called Claxton, was born in Preston in 1615. A Tailor, {by occupation,} English Theologian and Reputed Heretic. Brought up as an Anglican, by 1642 he made the switch to Presbyterianism, then became an Independent. Influenced by Tobias Crisp; met Captain Paul Hobson between Oct.1644 – April 1645, and served briefly with him as an army chaplain in Yarmouth. Started preaching around 1644 in Suffolk, and was baptized by Thomas Patient, whilst in London. In 1645, he was arrested with the Baptist, Hanserd Knollys, and charged in Suffolk with dipping. Subsequently under the influence of William Erbury, Clarkson became a Seeker. In 1648-49 he was called as a preacher to Col. Philip Twisleton’s New Model Army foot regiment. Whilst in route with soldiers from Lincs to London he fell in with Ranters, and soon thereafter gave up his army preaching. Remained with the Ranters for much of the 1650’s, preaching & writing. By 1660 he joined the Muggletonians, followers of John Reeve and Lodowicke Muggleton. {“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6.} As gathered and scattered by the slight of religious men, some of which, it is to be feared, were those of “corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,” his writings embody the sentiments of one that was “carried about with every wind of doctrine.” His writings, though for the most part muddied with vain imaginations; yet in this treatise; {Clear Confutation of all Arminians,1659;} we find an exceptional exposition of Christ Exalting Truth. From the HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH BAPTISTS, by Joseph Ivimey, {1814,} in Volume 2, we read this concerning Clarkson: “There was a zealous Baptist minister named Laurance Clarkson in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, in the year 1644. He had been recently baptized, and is an instance of a Baptist minister retracting his sentiments, and again returning to the profession of Paedobaptism! The Committee of Suffolk sent him to prison for daring to immerse persons professing faith in Christ. After six months he petitioned for his liberty, on account of having retracted his sentiments, and promising not “to dip or teach the same.” The Committee required him to sign the following recantation which was entered in due form in their books. ‘This day Laurance 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 saith that he by the Holy Scriptures is convinced, that his said opinions were erroneous, and that he will not, and dare not practice it again, if he could 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 sense of his errors, wherein he will endeavor to reform others.’ LAURANCE CLARKSON. {July 15, 1645} From this time Mr. Clarkson was separated from the Baptists as an unworthy member. In his own vindication he published a pamphlet entitled, THE PILGRIMAGE OF SAINTS, BY CHURCH CAST OUT, IN CHRIST FOUND, SEEKING TRUTH. In this he endeavored to acquit himself by observing, ‘that he did not assert the baptism of believers by immersion to be an error, but only intended it was erroneously practiced, there being now no true churches, nor true administrators of the ordinance.’ From this account it appears that the Paedobaptists had not much cause for boasting of their convert; nor the Baptists for regret in losing such a quondam brother from their communion. If Edwards and Bailie are to be believed, Mr. Clarkson was both a Seeker and an Antinomian; but our readers must be again cautioned that both these bitter Presbyterian writers, blackened the characters of all who opposed the impositions and uniformity of a national church.” His writings would indicate that his highly impressionable mind passed through various phases of spiritual life and death, light and darkness, and that he possessed a high valuation of heavenly truths wherever he could find them, which impressionableness at times sadly seemed to lead him astray.

Excerpts: What say you Millenarians; what say you Quakers; and what sayest thou, Richard Coppin, {Arminian Universalist,} with all other of this cursed opinion? Do ye not believe the words of Christ the eternal God? Do you not read that all is not of God, therefore of the devil, so you will not come to Christ that you might have life? And why will they not come? Because they do not believe that Christ was the Son of God, and why do you not believe? Because your light of reason hath blinded the light of faith; and why is your faith blinded, but because you are of your father the devil. Now herein appears your madness, that God hath this Prerogative Power, and yet your unbelief and infidelity doth continually blind your eyes, so that you cannot see.

Whatever you, the seed of reason, believe, or from the imagination of your own darkened heart suppose; yet this I assuredly know, whether you believe Scripture or no, or whether you own what I write now or no, it matters not; yet from Christ Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, I declare unto you, that whosoever cannot believe, that the salvation and damnation of all souls floweth from the sheer sovereignty of God’s free mercy and absolute justice, without any relation to either good or evil done by thee, let me tell thee, that thou art a thief; yea a spiritual thief, for thou hast in thy thoughts robbed Christ of his Glory, which he hath so often said he will not give to another; no, not to man or angel, and yet thou pitiful poor mortal soul, thou who dost reply against God, in that thou wouldest not have such a thought of God, that he should create a soul to make his sheer power and absolute justice known in its condemnation, and so you become a rebellious traitor, in that thou wilt assume damnation into thine own power, as aforesaid, and upon this account stand guilty before the Divine Justice of God, shut up in darkness of unbelief until the Day of Resurrection; at which day thou shall be raised all reason, and no faith.