More Quotes from John Flavel on the Excellency of Christ

Yesterday I posted some quotes I found in John Flavel’s book The Fountain of Life, written in 1671.  I regularly try to read old books because it introduces me to the perspective of godly saints who aren’t distracted or influenced by the technology, glitter, and philosophies of our current age.  Of course, they had their own issues to deal with and their own blind spots. But reading them in a different era helps me see more clearly what their blind spots were, as well as expose a few of my own. In any case, here are some more quotes that I found enlightening and helpful. I’ve added some personal thoughts at the end of each one.

Security in God’s providence

Whatever the instrument be which Christ uses, of this we may be certain, that his providential working is holy wise, sovereign, profound, irresistible, harmonious, and for the peculiar good of the saints. (The Kingly Office of Christ, as Providentially Executed for the Redeemed, 202)

I may not understand the means God uses in my life, but I’m absolutely certain of the heart behind them.

Why don’t we think of Christ more?

The whole honor and glory rendered him in heaven by the angels cannot divert his thoughts one moment from us; but every trifle that meets us in the way, is enough to divert our thoughts from him. Why do we not abhor and loathe ourselves for this? What, is it a pain, a burden, to carry Christ in our thoughts? As much a burden, if they heart be spiritual, as a bird is burdened by carrying his own wings. (The Lord’s Supper, 257)

My flesh would have me believe that spending time meditating on the glories of Christ is a difficult chore. God wants me to realize that time spent thinking about my Savior is never wasted time and will fill me with joy, satisfaction, and hope, as it lifts me above the circumstances of my life.

Taking means of grace for granted

Judas had the best means of grace that ever man enjoyed. He heard Christ himself preach, he joined often with him in prayer, but he was never the better for it all; it was but as the watering of a dead stick, which will never make it grow, but rot it the sooner. Oh it is a sad sign, and a sad sin too, when men live under the gospel from year to year, and are never the better. (Treason of Judas, 281)

I don’t ever want to take the preaching of the Word for granted, nor fail to benefit from the abundant resources God has provided in my church.

The limitations of emotional displays

When I see a person affected in the hearing of the word, or prayer [or worship time], even unto tears, I cannot at once conclude that this is the effect of grace; for it is possible the pathetic [vulnerable] nature of the subject, the eloquence of the speaker, the affecting tone and modulation of the voice [or the musical arrangement], may draw tears as well as faith. (Christ’s Address to the Daughters of Jerusalem, 303)

I don’t want to be too quick to judge that a time of corporate worship was “effective” because people seemed excited or moved.

The foundation of forgiveness

Forgiveness is not only a mercy, a spiritual mercy, but one of the greatest mercies a soul can obtain from God, without which  whatever else we have from God is no mercy to us. (“Father, Forgive Them,” 361)

I don’t ever want to downplay or minimize the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ that redeemed us and reconciled us to God. It is the foundation upon which everything we know of God is built.

Looking forward to our final resting place

Grace will not suffer you to rest here. Its tendencies are beyond this world. It will be looking and longing for the blessed hope. A gracious person regards himself as a pilgrim seeking a better country, and is suspicious of danger in every place and state. (The Session of Christ at God’s Right Hand, 516)

When life is comfortable and I’m surrounded by friends, I don’t often think of that as a “dangerous” place. But until we arrive at our true home, we’ll always be aliens and strangers here.

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4 Responses to More Quotes from John Flavel on the Excellency of Christ

  1. Marshall October 10, 2008 at 12:20 PM #

    Wonderful quotes, Bob. Thank you. Especially affected by “…every trifle that meets us…is enough to divert our thoughts from him”. Not sure this was the intention, but it sure makes me long for the day we will no longer be distracted, but instead be wonderfully fixated upon Him.

  2. SJ Camp October 10, 2008 at 1:21 PM #

    John Flavel is one of my favorites in redemptive history. What a joy to read this meaty and Christ-exalting quotes.

    Thank you dear brother for treating the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with reverence, respect, honor, and dignity.

    What a wonderful, merciful Savior we serve!

    Grace and peace,
    2 Cor. 4:5-7

  3. Colin October 10, 2008 at 11:57 PM #

    Thanks for posting these quotes, Bob. They are inspiring and convicting (especially the final one). Life is going my way right now, but that doesn’t mean I can settle down here–I should look to the New Heaven and Earth.

  4. Greg Burrell October 13, 2008 at 3:43 PM #

    Okay, slightly off the subject… I would love to see you publish some videos of “corporate worship well done” on this site, complete with your comments on what really struck you about that particular event. I want to improve as a worship leader, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Practicality as the fulfillment of theory.

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