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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 John Flavel ~ On Keeping the Heart

"If the people of God would diligently keep their hearts, their commission with each other would be unspeakably more inviting and profitable. Then "how goodly would be thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!" It is the fellowship which the people of God have with the Fatherand with the Son that kindles the desires of others to have communion with them. I tell you, that if saints would be persuaded to spend more time and take more pains about their hearts, there would soon be such a divine excellence in their conversation that others would account it no small privilege to be with or near them. It is the pride, passion and earthliness of our hearts, that has spoiled Christian fellowship. Why is it that when Christians meet they are often jarring and contending, but because their passions are unmortified? Whence come their uncharitable censures of their brethren, but from their ignorance of themselves? Why are they so rigid and unfeeling toward those who have fallen, but because they do not feel their own weakness and liability to temptation? Why is their discourse so light and unprofitable when they meet, but because their hearts are earthly and vain?

But now, if Christians would study their hearts more and keep them better, the beauty and glory of communion would be restored. They would divide no more, contend no more, censure rashly no more. They will feel right one toward another, when each is daily humbled under a sense of the evil of his own heart."

John Flavel

Mike Balog

 2005/7/11 1:09Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732

 Re: John Flavel ~ On Keeping the Heart


John Flavel's meditations are a welcome breeze of fresh air. Thanks for bringing him to light.

Also enjoyed this article by him...

[url=]Christ Altogether Lovely[/url]


Mike Compton

 2005/7/11 2:20Profile

Joined: 2005/5/25
Posts: 189

 Re: John Flavel ~ On Keeping the Heart

It is one of the very things I tussle with often, my heart toward different Christians for different reasons. Christians that I know or have known.

I will use your writings as a meditation to changing my heart.


 2005/7/11 2:58Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: John Flavel

Had heard of him somewhat but had not really read or listened to him, better clarify that. Went searching to see if there was an audio reading of George Mueller somewhere (umm, sort of) and ended up coming across John Flavel at that wonderful place that some of us are aware of:

This, as well as the one MC mentioned are there in a rather straight through reading of the books. But what I had hoped for did not disappoint, being that ultimately what God is after has always been settled out in the matters of the heart, it was just good to [i]hear[/i] it, seems that oddly it is missing so much in our day's 'teaching'.

Here is some background:

Flavel, John (c. 1630-1691)

John the eldest was born in Worcestershire. It was observable, that whilst his mother lay in with him, a nightingale made her nest in the out-side of the chamber-window, where she used to sing most sweetly. He was religiously educated by his father, and having profiled well at the grammar schools, was sent early to Oxford, and settled a commoner in University College. He plied his studies hard, and exceeded many of his contemporaries in university learning.

Mr. Flavel being settled at Dartmouth by the election of people, and an order from Whitehall by the commissioners for approbation of public preachers, of the 10th of December, 1656, he was associated with Mr. Allein Geere, a very worthy, but sickly, man. The ministerial work was thus divided betwixt them; Mr. Flavel was to preach on the Lord's-day at Townstall, the mother-church standing upon a hill without the town; and every fortnight in his turn at the Wednesday's Lecture in Dartmouth. Here God crowned his labours with many conversions. One of his judicious hearers expressed himself thus concerning him; "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 taking 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."

By his unwearied application to study, he had acquired a great stock both of divine and human learning. He was master of the controversies betwixt the Jews and Christians, Papists and Protestants, Lutherans and Calvinists, and betwixt the Orthodox, and the Armenians and Socinians: he was likewise well read in the Controversies about Church-discipline, Infant-Baptism, and Antinomianism. He was well acquainted with the School-divinity, and drew up a judicious and ingenious scheme of the whole body of that Theology in good Latin, which he presented to a person of quality, but it was never printed. He had one way of improving his knowledge, which is very proper for young divines; whatever remarkable passage he heard in private conference, if he was familiar with the relator, he would desire him to repeat it again, and insert it into his Aversaria: by these methods he acquired a vast stock of proper materials for his popular sermons in the pulpit, and his more elaborate works for the press.

He had an excellent gift of prayer, and was never at a loss in all his various occasions for suitable matter and words; and, which was the most remarkable of all, he always brought with him a broken heart and moving affections: his tongue and spirit were touched with a live coal from the altar, and he was evidently assisted by the holy Spirit of grace and supplication in that divine ordinance. Those who lived in his family, say, that he was always full and copious in prayer, seemed constantly to exceed himself, and rarely made use twice of the same expressions.

When the act of uniformity turned him out with the rest of his nonconforming brethren, he did not thereupon quit his relation to his church, he thought the souls of his flock to be more precious than to be so tamely neglected; he took all opportunities of ministering the word and sacraments to them in private meetings, and joined with other ministers in solemn days of fasting and humiliation, to pray that God would once more restore the ark of his covenant unto his afflicted Israel. About four months after that fatal Bartholomew day, his reverend colleague, Mr. Allein Geere, died; so that the whole care of the flock devolved upon Mr. Flavel, which, though a heavy and pressing burden, he undertook very cheerfully.

Mike Balog

 2005/7/11 9:18Profile

 Re: John Flavel

John Flavel is an interesting connection for me, for he is from the historical period I've been studying with an Eng Lit student, who is having to read scripture to complete is thesis; praise the Lord! John Flavel is identical decades as a major poet of the day, John Dryden, who became poet laureate and left a fascinating commentary on English political and religious history.

It seems that John Flavel was at one of the naval towns, where Charles II would have visited. It was a refining time to be a Christian, with many anomalies between law and scripture and yet, men of God like John Flavel, were free to promote God's interests unhindered at the highest level of society. In those days, it was still expected that [i]everyone[/i] would be at church, unless they had a really good excuse. There were fines for not attending, so, it was a captive audience for the clergy, especially since the king led the way in attending devotions every day.

But what I had hoped for did not disappoint, being that ultimately what God is after has always been settled out in the matters of the heart, it was just good to [i]hear[/i] it, seems that oddly it is missing so much in our day's 'teaching'.

I've heard it said that 'the heart is a devious member' and can justify almost anything to itself. Although I use the word 'heart' quite a lot now, it is always with this in the back of my mind.

Also, I believe suspicion about the condition of the heart helps us recourse to the Spirit, to seek His additional witness. Either way, it is oneself who has to take responsibility if the heart is wrong.

Proverbs 4:4
He taught me also, and said unto me,
[b]Let thine heart retain my words: [/b]
keep my commandments, and life...

It is true that we keep words in our hearts, whether we understand them or not, whether they were good or bad for us (to hear), and they do a work there, either leading us aright, or causing us to stumble, or giving us cause to question or reject them. They may even be bringing forth fruit unto death, rather than life, or holiness.

Thankfully, we are not forced to keep a hold of everything that has ever touched our heart, but we can allow it to be refined, whether by fire, or the cruder spade, for removing rocks and stones. I have the feeling when it is fire, one is at God's mercy to take those indefinable impurities which pervade, whereas a rock is a rock and probably needs our more conscious co-operation to shift it.

20 My son, attend to my words;
incline thine ear unto my sayings.
21 Let them not depart from thine eyes;
keep them in the midst of thine heart.
22 For they [are] life unto those that find them,
and health [medicine] to all their flesh.
23 [b]Keep thy heart above all keeping; for out of it [are] the issues of life[/b].
24 Put away from thee a froward mouth,
and perverse lips put far from thee.
25 Let thine eyes look right on,
and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
26 [b]Ponder[/b] the path of thy feet,
and let all thy ways be established.
27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: [b]remove thy foot from evil[/b].

Note: v 26 'let' - or, all thy ways shall be ordered aright

 2005/7/12 5:37

Joined: 2005/3/9
Posts: 15

 Re: John Flavel ~ On Keeping the Heart

Mike, Thank you for all you pour into these forums...such riches! My life has been immeasurably blessed since finding SI. May God bless all of you who labor so diligently to bless the Body of Christ with such treasures!


 2005/7/12 11:49Profile

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