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PaulWest
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 Is Jesus Christ Altogether Lovely? Then I Beseech you...

[img]http://www.ondoctrine.com/graphics/flavel5.jpg[/img]

Saints, I found this little excerpt from a John Flavel sermon to be exceedingly rich and pure. O that we would live a life to love Christ Jesus more than the life we live. I'm sure this will warm your heart; it is good Puritan fire:

[b]Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely? Then I beseech you set your souls upon this lovely Jesus.[/b] I am sure such an object would compel love from the coldest breast and hardest heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful world, which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it. Let all stand aside and give way to Christ. O if only you knew his worth and excellency, what he is in himself, what he has done for you, and deserved from you, you would need no arguments of mine to persuade you to love him!

Esteem nothing lovely except as it is enjoyed in Christ, or used for the sake of Christ. Love nothing for itself, love nothing separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in love of created things. We sin in the excess of our affections, loving them above the proper value of mere created things. We also sin in the inordinacy of our affections, that is to say we give our love for created things a priority it should never have.

Let us all be humbled for the corruption of our hearts that are so eager in their affections for vanities and trifles and so hard to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. O how many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty created thing; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their stubborn and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed by a friend to know the cause of his troubles, said "O! it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."

Represent Christ to the world as he is, by your behaviour towards him. Is he altogether lovely? Let all the world see and know that he is so, by your delights in him and communion with him; zeal for him, and readiness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account. Proclaim his excellencies to the world, as the spouse did in these verses. Persuade them how much your beloved is better than any other beloved. Show his glorious excellencies as you speak of him; hold him forth to others, as he is in himself: altogether lovely. See that you "walk worthy of him unto all well pleasing," Col. 1:10. "Show forth the praises of Christ," 1 Pet. 2:19. Let not that "worthy name be blasphemed through you," James 2:7. He is glorious in himself, and he is sure to put glory upon you; take heed that you do not put shame and dishonours upon him; he has committed his honour to you, do not betray that trust.

Never be ashamed to be counted as a Christian: he is altogether lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; do not let yourself be ashamed of your glory. If you will be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.

Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon earth, in order that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. Lift up your voices with the bride, Rev. 20:20 "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his intimacy and enjoyment; but surely it is worth suffering much more than that to be with this lovely Jesus. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ," 2 Thes. 3:5.

Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ that causes you to desire him, it is because the god of this world has blinded your minds.

Strive to be Christ-like, if ever you would be lovely in the eyes of God and man. Certainly, my brethren, it is only the Spirit of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which can make you lovely persons. The more you resemble him in holiness, the more will you show of true excellence and loveliness; and the more frequent and spiritual your communication and communion with Christ is, the more of the beauty and loveliness of Christ will be stamped upon your spirits, changing you into the same image, from glory to glory. Amen.

John Flavel (1627-1691)


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Paul Frederick West

 2008/3/1 23:09Profile
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 Re: Is Jesus Christ Altogether Lovely? Then I Beseech you...

Quote:
"O! it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."



If ever there was something to grieve...


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TJ

 2008/3/1 23:20Profile
PaulWest
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Here is a short excerpt also from the biography of this Puritan. This is nothing short of amazing, tremendous. I would wager that not many of us have even heard of this fearless man of God, and this is unfortunate, for I have found his sermons to be most anointed and Christ-exalting:


"...one of his parishioners wrote of Flavel, “I could say much, though not enough of the excellency of his preaching; of his seasonable, suitable, and spiritual matter; of his plain expositions of Scripture; his talking method, his genuine and natural deductions, his convincing arguments, his clear and powerful demonstrations, his heart-searching applications, and his comfortable supports to those that were afflicted in conscience. In short, that person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected.”

Flavel was ejected from the pulpit in 1662 for nonconformity, but he continued to meet secretly with his parishioners in conventicles. On occasion, he would preach for them in the woods, especially on days of fasting and humiliation. Once he even disguised himself as a woman on horseback in order to reach a secret meeting place where he preached and administered baptism. At another time, when pursued by authorities, he plunged his horse into the sea and managed to escape arrest by swimming through a rocky area to reach Slapton Sands.

In 1665, when the Five Mile Act went into effect, Flavel moved to Slapton, which was beyond the five-mile limit of legal disturbance. There he ministered to many people in his congregation. At times, he would preach secretly in the woods to larger numbers of people, sometimes as late as midnight. Once, soldiers rushed in and dispersed the congregation. Several of the fugitives were apprehended and fined, but the remainder brought Flavel to another wooded area where he continued his sermon.

Flavel preached from other unique pulpits, such as Salstone Rock, an island in the Salcombe Estuary that is submerged at high tide. In that refuge, the congregation would “linger in devout assembly till the rising tide drove them to their boats.”

In 1672, King Charles II issued the Declaration of Indulgence, giving Nonconformists freedom to worship. Flavel returned to Dartmouth, licensed as a Congregationalist. When the indulgence was canceled the following year, Flavel once more resorted to preaching secretly in private homes, secluded neighborhoods, or remote forests. Flavel’s second wife died during this time and he married Ann Downe, a minister’s daughter. They were happily married for eleven years, and had two sons.

In the late 1670s and early 1680s, Flavel carried on his ministry mainly by writing. He published at least nine books in this period. In the summer of 1682, he was forced to seek safety in London, where he joined the congregation of his friend, William Jenkyn, known today for his commentary on Jude. In 1684, soldiers interrupted a prayer service Flavel was conducting with Jenkyn. Flavel narrowly escaped arrest. During his stay in London, Flavel’s third wife died. He married Dorothy, a widowed daughter of George Jefferies, minister of Kingsbridge; she survived him.

In 1685, Flavel returned to Dartmouth, where his ministry was confined to his home. He preached every Sunday and on many weekday evenings to people who crowded into his home. That same year he was burned in effigy by a mob, but he pressed on, praying for his beloved Dartmouth, “O that there were not a prayerless family in this town!” In 1687, King James II issued another indulgence for Nonconformists that allowed Flavel to preach publicly once again. This freedom was later augmented with the coming of William of Orange and the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

Flavel’s congregation built a large church upon his return to the pulpit. His last four years of public preaching, which began with his sermons on Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” were greatly blessed. Yet he was aging rapidly. Speaking for himself and his colleagues, he wrote, “We have long borne the burden and heat of the day; we are veteran soldiers almost worn out.” While visiting Exeter to preach on June 6, 1691, Flavel suffered a massive stroke and died that same evening at the age of sixty-three. His final words were, “I know that it will be well with me.”

Flavel was humble, godly, and learned. He spent much time in study and prayer. One of his children wrote, “He was always full and copious in prayer, seemed constantly to exceed himself, and rarely made use twice of the same expressions.” He was well versed in church discipline, infant baptism, and a number of Oriental languages.

Flavel’s preaching was blessed by the Spirit. Robert Murray M‘Cheyne tells about an American immigrant, Luke Short, who remembered listening to Flavel preach in England when he was fifteen years old. The text was, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.” Eighty-five years after hearing Flavel preach on the horror of dying under God’s curse, the Spirit of God effectually converted him at the age of one hundred as he meditated on that sermon!

Flavel’s power as a preacher came out of his depth of spiritual experience. He spent many hours in meditation and self-examination. As Middleton writes, “He [Flavel] attained to a well-grounded assurance, the ravishing comforts of which were many times shed abroad in his soul; this made him a powerful and successful preacher, as one who spoke from his own heart to those of others. He preached what he felt, and what he had handled, what he had seen and tasted of the word of life and they felt it also” (ibid., p. 58).

While meditating on heaven on one occasion, Flavel was so overcome with heavenly joy that he lost sight of this world. Stopping his horse by a spring, he viewed death as the most amiable face he had ever seen, except that of Christ’s, who made it so. When he finally arrived at an inn, the innkeeper said to him, “Sir, what is the matter with you? You look like a dead man.” “Friend,” Flavel replied, “I was never better in my life.” Years later, Flavel said that he understood more of heaven from that experience than from all the books he had ever read and all the sermons he had ever heard on the subject."


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Paul Frederick West

 2008/3/1 23:28Profile
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 Re:

Many thanks Paul for posting these articles. They are a blessing to me today!

The Puritans writings are remarkable in the way they express pure devotion to God - borne out of suffering. I recommend a daily dose for us all.

Diane


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Diane

 2008/3/2 7:54Profile
PaulWest
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 Re:

Dear Diane, this is what captivated my heart:

Quote:
O how many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty created thing; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their stubborn and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed by a friend to know the cause of his troubles, said "O! it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."



This just hit my spirit like a freight-train and caused me to go to my knees last night. Yes! How is it I can lavish praise upon so many earthly objects and upon the [i]writers[/i] of Christ's beauty and yet at the same time remain so numb and raptureless beholding it myself? Where is the remorse, the pained reaction to such a crisis? I then saw that my eyes and heart have been - as Flavel explains - in a degree, blinded by the god of the age. The glory of the Son has been eclipsed by a moon of carnality before my spirit eyes...and the fountain of tears has dried up. O, how we must take special care in the preservation and renewing of our inner men; the eclipses come on gradually: first a crescent, then a quater, then a half...and finally a total, and the eye is dark. But we are to be the saints of light, translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son.

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2008/3/2 8:08Profile
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 Re: Is Jesus Christ Altogether Lovely? Then I Beseech you...

Quote:

Let us all be humbled for the corruption of our hearts that are so eager in their affections for vanities and trifles and so hard to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely



I'm all too thankful for these writers of old, they carry a sense of tranquility, for lack of better word, yet solemn.

I read Mystery of Providence by Flavel, a precious and excellent little book!

thx
mamaluk

 2008/3/3 21:15Profile
PaulWest
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Posts: 3405
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 Re:

I just ordered [url=http://www.the-highway.com/heart_TOC.html]Keeping the Heart[/url] and I'm eagerly awaiting it's arrival from Amazon. Reading the Puritans is like taking a dip in a cool swimming pool during the summer - once your body acclimates to the temperature of the water, you won't want to get out. Getting into them may be a bit uncomfortable at first; that is, getting used to the richness, the plethora of scriptures referenced on every page may trigger an initial shock...but if you say in the water you'll quickly "warm up" and soon feel right at home in the pool. I'm reading a most excellent book right now - an unbelieveable book on prayer by Isaac Watts: [i]"A Guide to Prayer"[/i] and it is unlike anything I've read on the subject. You can't believe how these men prayed back then...even before meals. This little book is all but totally unknown, eclipsed by more modern discourses on the subject...ah, but the holy [i]reverence[/i] that breathes from every page! Just reading the [i]first chapter[/i] changed the way I pray and my understanding of prayer forever.

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2008/3/3 21:52Profile





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