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John Flavel (1630–1691)

A puritan, English Presbyterian minister and author.
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“Providence is like a curious piece of tapestry made of a thousand shreds, which, single, appear useless, but put together, they represent a beautiful history to the eye. Providence is wiser than you, and you may be confident it has suited all things better to your eternal good than you could do had you been left to your own option.”

Biography of John Flavel (1630–1691):

John Flavel (1630–1691), presbyterian divine, eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, described as ‘a painful and eminent minister,’ who was incumbent successively of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Hasler and Willersey, Gloucestershire (from which last living he was ejected in 1662), was born in or about 1630 at Bromsgrove. Having received his early education at the schools of the neighbourhood, he entered University College, Oxford, at an early age, and gained a good reputation for talent and diligence. On 27 April 1650 he was sent by ‘the standing committee of Devon’ to Diptford, a parish on the Avon, five miles from Totnes, where the minister, Mr. Walplate, had become infirm. On 17 Oct. 1650, after examination and the preaching of a ‘trial sermon,’ he was ordained Mr. Walplate’s assistant by the classis at Salisbury. He continued to minister at Diptford for about six years, succeeding the senior minister when he died, and endearing himself greatly to the people, not only by his earnestness, but by his easy dealings with them in the matter of tithes. In 1656 he removed to Dartmouth, though the Diptford emoluments were much greater. On the passing of the Act of Uniformity (1662) he was ejected, but continued to preach in private until the Five Mile Act drove him from Dartmouth. He kept as near it, however, as possible, removing to Slapton, five miles off, and there preached twice each Sunday to all who came, among whom were many of his old parishioners. On the granting of the indulgence of 1671 he returned to Dartmouth, and continued to officiate there even after the liberty to do so was withdrawn. In the end he found himself obliged to remove to London, travelling by sea and narrowly escaping shipwreck in a storm, which is said to have ceased in answer to his prayers. Finding that he would be safer at Dartmouth he returned there, and met with his people nightly in his own house, until in 1687, on the relaxation of the penal laws, they built a meeting-house for him. Just before his death he acted as moderator at a meeting of dissenting ministers held at Topsham. He died suddenly of paralysis at Exeter on 26 June 1691, and was buried in Dartmouth churchyard. Wood bitterly comments on the violence of his dissent.

Flavel was four times married: first to Jane Randal; secondly, to Elizabeth Morries; thirdly, to Ann Downe; and, lastly, to a daughter of the Rev. George Jeffries. There is a portrait of him in Dr.

[Life prefixed to collected edition of his Works, Glasgow, 1754; Palmer’s Nonconf. Mem. ii. 18-22; Wood’s Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 323-6.]


His Works:

The works of John Flavel available in old English:

Communion with Christ. (59 pages) PDF Internet Archive

Divine Providence (or, The Mystery of Providence). (264 pages) PDF Internet Archive

A Treatise on Keeping the Heart. (120 pages) Proverbs 4:23. PDF Internet Archive

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 1. (572 pages) PDF Internet Archive
This volume contains a brief biography of Flavel’s life, and The Fountain of Life Opened Up, which is a collection of 42 sermons comprising “a display of Christ in his essential and mediatorial glory.”

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 2. (620 pages) PDF Internet Archive
Contains “The Method of Grace in Gospel-Redemption,” a collection of 35 sermons, and “Pneumatologia” (or, “A Treatise on the Soul of Man”).

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 3. (620 pages) PDF Internet Archive
1. Pneumatologia (or, A Treatise on the Soul of Man), continued from volume 2
2. A Practical Treatise of Fear
3. The Righteous Man’s Refuge. Isaiah 26:20.
4. A Blow at the Root (or, The Causes and Cures of Mental Errors, or Planelogia)
5. Vindicairum Vindex (or, A Refutation of the Weak and Impertinent Rejoinder of Mr. Philip Cary, Wherein He Vainly Attempts the Defence of his Absurd Thesis to the Great Abuse and Injury of the Laws and Covenants of God)
6. Gospel Unity Recommended to the Churches of Christ. A sermon preached on 1 Corinthians 1:10.

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 4. (598 pages) PDF Internet Archive
1. England’s Duty Under the Present Gospel-Liberty. Eleven sermons, plus anappendix, on Revelation 3:20.
2. Mount Pisgah (or, A Thanksgiving Sermon for England’s Delivery from Popery). February 1688-1689. Deuteronomy 3:24-25.
3. Divine Conduct (or, The Mystery of Providence) -popular-
4. A Faithful and Succinct Narrative of Some Late and Wonderful Sea-Deliverances.
5. Antipharmacum Saluberrimum (or, A Serious and Seasonable Caveat to all the Saints in this Hour of Temptation).
6. Tidings from Rome (or, England’s Alarm).

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 5. (678 pages) PDF Internet Archive
1. Husbandry Spiritualized (or, The Heavenly Use of Earthly Things).
2. Navigation Spiritualized (or, A New Compass for Seamen).
3. A Pathetical and Serious Dissuasive from the Horrid and Detestable Sins of Drunkenness, Swearing, Uncleanness, Forgetfulness of Mercies, Violations of Promises, and Atheistical Contempt of Death.
4. The Seaman’s Companion, consisting of six sermons for seafaring men:
a. The Seaman’s Farewell. Acts 21:5-6.
b. The Seaman in a Storm. Psalm 107:23-28.
c. The Seaman’s Preservative in Foreign Countries. Psalm 139:9-10.
d. The Successful Seaman. Deuteronomy 8:17-18.
e. The Disappointed Seaman. Luke 5:5.
f. The Seaman’s Return. Deuteronomy 33:19.
5. A Saint Indeed (or, The Great Work of a Christian Opened and Pressed).
Proverbs 4:23. Also known by the modernised title, Keeping the Heart. -popular-
6. The Touchstone of Sincerity (or, The Signs of Grace, and Symptoms of Hypocrisy).
Revelation 3:17-18. -popular-
7. A Token for Mourners (or, The Advice of Christ to a Distressed Mother Bewailing
the Death of Her Dear and Only Son). Luke 7:13.

The Whole Works of John Flavel, Volume 6. (662 pages) PDF Internet Archive
1. Preparations for Sufferings (or, The Best Work in the Worst Times). Acts 21:13.
2. The Balm of the Covenant Applied to the Bleeding Wounds of Afflicted Saints. 2 Samuel 23:5.
3. The Funeral Sermon of John Upton of Lupton, Esq. 2 Chronicles 35:24-25.
4. An Exposition of the Assembly’s Catechism.
5. Vidiciae Legis et Foederis (or, A Reply to Mr. Philip Cary’s Solemn Call; Wherein He Pretends to Answer all the Arguments of Mr. Allen, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Syndenham, Mr. Sedgwick, Mr. Roberts, and Dr. Burthogge, For the Right of Believers’ Infants to Baptism).
6. (Twelve) Sacramental Meditations Upon Diverse Select Places of Scripture.
7. The Reasonableness of Personal Reformation and the Necessity of Conversion.
8. A Coronation Sermon Preached at Dartmouth. Song of Solomon 3:11.
9. The Character of a Complete Evangelical Pastor, Drawn by Christ. Matthew 24:45-47.
10. A Double Scheme or Table.


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