Saturday, April 28, 2012


Like most Puritans, John Flavel was a good preacher. I am amazed at the depth so many of them had. Maybe it was because they didn't have the distractions we have, do you reckon? I don't think so, because they were persecuted much more than we are. They just had a dedication that we lack. John Flavel could say a lot of things short and pithy. I have gathered some of these for you to see this. You can find most of his work online, or purchase the six volumes from Banner of Truth if you are able. May God bless you as you read. I believe you will want more.

“For the sun to fall from its sphere, and be degraded into a wandering atom; for an angel to be turned out of heaven, and be converted into a silly fly or worm, had been no such great abasement; for they were but creatures before, and so they would abide still, though in an inferior order or species of creatures. The distance betwixt the highest and lowest species of creatures, is but a finite distance. The angel and the worm dwell not so far apart. But for the infinite glorious Creator of all things, to become a creature, is a mystery exceeding all human understanding. The distance between God and the highest order of creatures, is an infinite distance.”

“Whatever be the ground of one’s distress, it should drive him to, not from God.”

“Heart-work is hard work indeed. To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and heedless spirit will cost no great pains; but to set yourself before the Lord and tie up your loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon him; this will cost you something. To attain a facility and dexterity of language in prayer and put your meaning into apt and decent expressions is easy; but to get your heart broken for sin, while you are confessing it; melted with free grace, while you are blessing God for it; to be really ashamed and humbled through the apprehensions of God’s infinite holiness and to keep your heart in this frame, not only in but after duty, will surely cost you some groans and pains of soul. To repress the outward acts of sin and compose the external part of your life in a laudable manner is no great matter; even carnal persons by the force of common principles can do this: but to kill the root of corruption within, to set and keep up an holy government over your thoughts, to have all things lie straight and orderly in the heart, this is not easy.”

“We ought to regard what can be said in our favour, as well as what may be said against us. It is the sin of upright persons sometimes, to exercise an unreasonable severity against themselves.”

“Are sense and feelings suitable to judge of the dispensations and designs of God by? Can their testimony be safely relied on? Is it safe to argue thus: ‘If God had any love for my soul, I should feel it now, as well as in former times; but I cannot feel it, therefore it is gone? May you not as well conclude, when the sun is invisible to you, that he has ceased to exist?”

“If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.”

“Sometimes God makes use of instruments for good to His people, who designed nothing but evil and mischief to them. Thus Joseph’s brethren were instrumental to his advancement in that very thing in which they designed his ruin.”

“Unbelief queries the will of God, and questions whether He will now be gracious, though He has been so formerly. If troubles or dangers grow to a height and we see nothing but ruin and misery in the eye of reason before us, now unbelief becomes importunate and troublesome to the soul. Now where are your prayers, your hopes, yea, where is now your God?” 

“Unbelief maintains the impossibility of relief in deep distresses. ‘Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? … Can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh for his people?’ Psalm 78:19-20. Oh vile and unworthy thoughts of God which proceed from our measuring the immense and boundless power of God by our own line and measure … because we do not see which way relief should come.”

“Let us consider and marvel that ever this great and blessed God should be so much concerned, as you have heard He is in all His Providences, about such vile, despicable worms as we are! He does not need us, but is perfectly blessed and happy in Himself without us. We can add nothing to Him.”

“Providence so orders the case, that faith and prayer come between our wants and supplies, and the goodness of God may be the more magnified in our eyes thereby.”

“As God did not at first choose you because you were high, He will not now forsake you because you are low.”

“How worthy is Jesus Christ of all our love and delights? You see how infinitely the Father delighteth in him, how he ravishes the heart of God; and shall he not ravish our hearts? I present you a Christ this day, able to ravish any soul that will but view and consider him. O that you did but see this lovely Lord Jesus Christ! Then would you go home sick of love: surely he is a drawing Saviour, John 12: 32. Why do ye lavish away your precious affections upon vanity: None but Christ is worthy of them: when you spend your precious affections upon other objects, what is it but to dig for dross with golden mattocks? The Lord direct our hearts into the love Of Christ. O that our hearts, loves and delights did meet the heart of God in this most blessed object! O let him that left God’s bosom for you, be embosomed by you, though yours be nothing to God’s; he that left God’s bosom for you, deserves yours.”

“Man, by the apostasy, has become a most disordered and rebellious creature, opposing his Maker, as the First Cause—by self-dependence; as the Chief Good—by self- love; as the Highest Lord—by self-will; and as the Last End—by self-seeking. Thus he is quite disordered, and all his actions are irregular. But by regeneration the disordered soul is set right; this great change being, as the Scripture expresses it, the renovation of the soul after the image of God—in which self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love is removed by the love of God; self-will is removed by subjection and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking is removed by self-denial. The darkened understanding is illuminated, the refractory will sweetly subdued, the rebellious appetite gradually conquered. Thus the soul which sin had universally depraved, is by grace restored.”

“It is the duty of the saints, especially in times of straights, to reflect upon the performances of Providence for them in all the states and through all the stages of their lives”.

“Is it indeed for the saints’ advantage, to be weaned from love of and delight in ensnaring earthly vanities; to be quickened and urged forward with more haste to heaven; to have clearer discoveries of their own hearts; to be taught to pray more fervently, frequently, spiritually; to look and long for the rest to come, more ardently? If these be for their advantage, experience teaches us that no condition is ordinarily blessed with such fruits as these, like an afflicted condition. Is it well then to repine and droop because your Father consults the advantage of your soul rather than the gratification of your humors? Because he will bring you to heaven by a nearer way than you are willing to go? Is this a due requital of his love, who is pleased so much to concern himself in your welfare? Who does more for you than he will do for thousands in the world upon whom he will not lay a rod or dispense an affliction to them for their good? (Hosea 4:17). But alas! We judge by sense and reckon things good or evil according to our present taste. Take heed that you overlook not the many precious mercies which the people of God enjoy amidst all their trouble. It is a pity that our tears on account of our troubles, should so blind our eyes, that we should not see our mercies. I will not insist upon the mercy of having your life given you “for a prey,” (Jeremiah 39:18); nor upon the many outward comforts which you enjoy, even above what were enjoyed by Christ and his precious servants, of whom the world was not worthy. But what say you to pardon of sin; interest in Christ; the covenant of promise; and an eternity of happiness in the presence of God, after a few days are over?”

“If Christ be the beloved darling of the Father’s soul, think what a grievous and insufferable thing it is to the heart of God, to see his dear Son despised, slighted, and rejected by sinners: verily, there is no such cut to the heart of God in the whole world. Unbelievers trample upon God’s darling, tread under foot him that eternally lay in his bosom, Heb. 10: 29. Smite the Apple of his eye, and how God will bear this, that parable, Mat. 21: 37, to 40, will inform you, surely he will miserably destroy such wretched sinners. If you would study to do God the greatest despight, there is none like this. What a dismal word is that; 1 Cor. 16: 22. “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha,” (i. e.) let the great curse of God lie upon that man till the Lord come. O sinners! you shall one day know the price of this sin; you shall feel what it is to despise a Jesus, that is able to compel love from the hardest heart. O that you would slight him no more! O that this day your hearts might fall in love with him! I tell you, if you would set your love to sale, none bids so fair for it as Christ.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It is fitting that we should contemplate the excellencies of Christ the Mediator, for “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” is to be seen “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The fullest revelation that God is and what He is, is made in the person of Christ. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). But this knowledge of God is not a mere matter of intellectual apprehension, which one man can communicate to another. But it is a spiritual discernment, imparted by the Holy Spirit. God must shine in our hearts to give us that knowledge.

When the materialistic Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father,” the Lord Jesus replied, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:8, 9). Yes, He was “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). In the eternal, incarnate Word “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Amazing and glorious fact, it is in the perfection of manhood that the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ revealed to our faith. We could not ascend to God, so He descended to us. All that men can ever know of God is presented to them in the person of His incarnate Son. Hence, “That I may know him” (Phil. 3:10) is the constant longing of the most mature Christian.

It is our design to declare some part of that glory of our Lord Jesus Christ which is revealed in Scripture, and proposed as the object of our faith, love, delight, admiration and adoration. But after our utmost endeavors and most diligent inquiries we have to say, “How little a portion” (Job 26:14) of Him we understand. His glory is incomprehensible, His praises unutterable. Some things a divinely illuminated mind can conceive of, but what we express, in comparison to what the glory is in itself, is less than nothing. Nevertheless, that view which the Spirit grants from the Scriptures concerning Christ and His glory is to be preferred above all other knowledge or understanding. So it was declared, by him who was favored to know Him, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

John Owen has well said: “The revelation made of Christ in the blessed Gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, more filled with rays of Divine wisdom and goodness than the whole creation, and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or apprehend. Without the knowledge hereof, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion. This therefore deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in living where He is, and beholding of His glory; what better preparation can there be for it, than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory, in the revelation that is made in the Gospel unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory.”

The grandest of all privileges which believers are capable of, either in this world or the next, is to behold the glory (the personal and official excellencies) of Christ; now by faith, then by sight. Equally certain, no man will ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven, who does not now behold it by faith. Where the soul has not been previously purified by grace and faith, it is incapable of glory and the open vision. Those who pretend to be greatly enamored by or to ardently desire that which they never saw or experienced, only dote on their imaginations. The pretended desires of many (especially on deathbeds) to behold the glory of Christ in heaven, but who had no vision of it by faith while they were in this world, are nothing but self-deceiving delusions.

There is no true rest for the mind nor satisfaction for the heart until we rest in Christ (Matthew 11:28-30). God has proposed to us the “mystery of godliness,” that is, the person of His incarnate Son and His mediatorial work, as the supreme object of our faith and meditation. In this mystery we are called upon to behold the highest exhibition of the divine wisdom, goodness, and condescension. The Son of God assumed manhood by union with Himself, thereby constituting the same person in two natures, yet infinitely distinct as those of God and man. Thereby the Infinite became finite, the Eternal temporal, and the Immortal mortal, yet continued still infinite, eternal and immortal.

It cannot be expected that those who are drowned in the love of the world will have any true apprehension of Christ, or any real desire for it. But for those who have “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Pet. 2:3), how foolish we would be if we gave all our time and strength to other things, to the neglect of diligent searching of Scripture to obtain a fuller knowledge of Him. Man is “born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” but the same Scriptures reveal a divinely appointed relief from all the evils to which fallen man is heir—so that we may not faint under them, but gain the victory over them.

Listen to the testimony of one who passed through a far deeper sea of trial than the great majority of men: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed . . . For which cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish, yet the inward is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen . . . but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:8; 4:16-18).

It is beholding by faith things which “are not seen” by the eye (which the spiritually poverty-stricken occupants of palaces and millionaire mansions know nothing of), the things that are spiritual and eternal, which alleviates the Christian’s afflictions. Of these unseen, eternal things the supernal glories of Christ are the principal. He who can contemplate Him who is “the Lord of glory,” will, when “all around gives way,” be lifted out of himself and delivered from the prevailing power of evil.

Not until the mind arrives at a fixed judgment that all things here are transitory and reach only to outward man—that everything under the sun is but “vanity and vexation of spirit,” and there are other things incalculably better to comfort and satisfy the heart—not till then will we ever be delivered from spending our lives in fear, distress, and sorrow. Christ alone can satisfy the heart. And when He does truly satisfy, the language of the soul is, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Ps. 73:25).

How slight and shadowy, how petty and puerile are those things from which the trials of men arise! They all grow from the one root of the over-valuation of temporal things. Money cannot purchase joy of soul. Health does not insure happiness. A beautiful home will not satisfy the heart. Earthly friends, no matter how loyal and loving, cannot speak peace to a sin-burdened conscience, nor impart eternal life. Envy, covetousness, discontent, receive their death wound when Christ, in all His loveliness, is revealed as the “chiefest among ten thousand” (Song 5:10).
(Chapter 26 of Gleanings from the Godhead by Arthur W. Pink, Moody Press; Chicago, 1975).

Monday, April 9, 2012


A Regenerate man does not make the world’s opinion his rule of right and wrong.

He goes against the stream of the world’s ways, notions, and customs. “What will men say?” is no longer a turning point with him. He overcomes the love of the world. He finds no pleasure in things which most around him call happiness. He cannot enjoy their enjoyments—they weary him; they appear to him vain, unprofitable, and unworthy of an immortal being. He overcomes the fear of the world. He is content to do many things which all around him think unnecessary, to say the least. They find fault with him—it does not move him. They ridicule him—he does not give way. He loves the praise of God more than the praise of man. He fears offending Him more than giving offence to man.

He has counted the cost. He has taken his stand. It is a small thing with him now whether he is blamed or praised. His eye is upon Him who is invisible. He is resolved to follow Jesus wherever he goes. It may be necessary in this following to come out from the world and be separate. The Regenerate man will not shrink from doing so. Tell him that he is unlike other people, that his views are not the views of society generally, and that he is making himself singular and peculiar—you will not shake him. He is no longer the servant of fashion and custom. To please the world is quite a secondary consideration with him. His first aim is to please God.

Reader, I place this mark before you. What would the Apostle say about you? Are you born of God? - J.C. Ryle