If you do not read this whole post, please, at least read the last paragraph. I just received The Works of David Clarkson and already, I wish I had had them before now. David Clarkson was a Puritan who lived from 1622-1686. Almost nothing is known about his life. What is known however, is that he was, toward the end of his life, the colleague who assisted John Owen (my favorite Puritan!) the last year of his life, and then succeeded Owen as pastor in the same church. Clarkson, himself, died three years later.
Below is a quote taken from a sermon Clarkson preached on 1 John 1:3 entitled Believers’ Communion With The Father And Son from volume 3, page 165. He is forceful and brilliant, and Christ focussed.
‘These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.’ Joy, fulness of joy; joy, which is the smile of happiness and the flower of glory.
The object of this happiness, or the object which is our happiness, is God in Christ, the Father and the Son, the Father of Christ, and the Father of believers. ‘I go to my Father and your Father;’ his Father by eternal generation, ours by adoption;…. which shews itself in indulgence, love, care, pity, providence. ‘And his Son Jesus Christ,’ that is the other object of our happiness; he who, ver. 1, is called ‘the Word of life,’ and, ver. 2, ‘eternal life.’ Now eternal life and happiness are reciprocal, and used as convertible terms in Scripture. Christ is the word of life in himself, eternal life to us: the word of life, essentialiter ; eternal life, causaliter.
And this is that happiness, that eternal life, which we have from him and by him. ….. And from the connection we might observe that fellowship, or communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ, is eternal life or happiness; for what is happiness but the enjoyment of the chiefest good? Now the Father and the Son are the chiefest good, and communion with them is the enjoyment of them; for then we enjoy the chief good, when we are united to it, when we have interest in it, and when we partake of it. But communion includes all these, as will appear in the explication.
And thence we might infer that eternal life is not confined to heaven. If we take eternal life for happiness, a man may have eternal life on earth. Heaven is not so much local as we imagine. Communion with God is heaven, and happiness, and eternal life. He that hath communion with God is in heaven while he is on earth ; and if a man could he there without this, he would want heaven even in heaven. There is no essential difference betwixt happiness on earth and happiness in heaven; they differ but gradually. If a man on earth could enjoy perfect communion with God, he would be perfectly happy.