I’ve begun reading the Works of John Flavel. They were recommended to me by Pastor Cliffe Boone, of
The following was said of Flavel in the introduction given on his life:
“He was a zealous preacher, in the pulpit, but a sincere Christian in the closet, frequent in self-examination, as well as in pressing it upon others; being afraid, lest while he preached to others he himself should be cast-away…[followed by a lengthy transcription from Flavel’s own diary]…He preached what he felt, what he had handled, what he had seen and tasted of the word of life, and they felt it also. We may guess what a sweat and blessed intercourse he had with heaven…He was a mighty wrestler with God in secret prayer, and particularly begged of him to crown his sermons, printed books, and private discourses, with the conversion of poor sinners, a work which his heart was much set upon. It pleased God to answer him by many instances…” [Flavel, Work, vol 1, p. x, xii].
The author goes on to tell of how Flavel counseled and saw the subsequent conversion of a man who failed in a suicide attempt.
Listen to how Flavel himself begins the dedicatory section of “The Fountain of Life”:
“If my pen were both able, and at leisure, to get glory in paper, it would be but a paper glory when I have gotten it; but if by displaying (which is the design of these papers) the transcendent excellency of Jesus Christ, I may win glory to him from you, to whom I humbly offer them, or from any other into whose hands providence shall cast them, that will be glory indeed, and an occasion of glorifying God to all eternity.” [Vol 1, xvii]
What a strange thought to think that in this general prayer, Flavel prayed from me a reader in the 21st century, even though he could not, I’m sure, fathom who fair God’s providence would take his work.
“But let me tell you, the whole world is not a theatre enough to shew [sic] the glory of Christ upon or unfold the one half of the unsearchable riches that lie hid in him. These things will be far better understood, and spoken of in heaven, by the noon-day divinity, in which the immediately illuminated assembly do there preach his praises, than by such a stammering tongue, and scribbling pen as mine, which doth but mar them. Alas! I write his praises by moon-light; I cannot praise him so much as by halves. Indeed, no tongue but his own (as Nazianzen said of Bazil) is sufficient to undertake the task. What shall I say of Christ? The excelling glory of that object dazzles all apprehension, swallows all expression. When we have borrowed metaphors from every creature that hath any excellency of lovely property in it, till we have script the whole creation bare of all its ornaments, and clothed Christ with all that glory; when we have even worn out our tongues, in ascribing praises to him, alas! We have done nothing, when all is done.” [Flavel, Work, vol 1, xviii]
Sort of give you goose-bumps.