John Flavel (1630–1691)
John was an English Puritan, a Presbyterian pastor, and an author. To understand his life and times, I believe it’s important to know that his father, Richard, was a non-conformist minister who was jailed along with his wife in Newgate Prison for preaching and teaching. In Newgate Richard and his wife contracted the plague from which they died after their release.
“He was a man of a middle stature, and full of life and activity: he was very thoughtful, and when not discoursing or reading, much taken up in meditation, which made him digest his notions well. He was ready to learn from every body, and as free to communicate what he knew. He was bountiful to his own relations, and very charitable to the poor, but especially to the household of faith, and the necessitous members of his own church, to whom, during their sickness, he always sent suitable supplies. He freely taught academical learning to four young men whom he bred to the ministry, and one of them he maintained all the while at his own charge. He was exceedingly affectionate to all the people of Dartmouth, of which we shall give one remarkable instance. When our fleet was first engaged with the French, he called his people together to a solemn fast, and, like a man in an agony, wrestled with God in prayer for the church and nation, and particularly for the poor seamen of Dartmouth, that they might obtain mercy; the Lord heard and answered him, for not one of that town was killed in the fight, though many of them were in the engagement.”
1599 Geneva BIBLE
53 1 Of Christ and his kingdom, whose word few will believe. 6 All men are sinners. 11 Christ is our righteousness, 12 and is dead for our sins.
1 Who will believe our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 But he shall grow up before him as a branch, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath neither form nor beauty: when we shall see him, there shall be no form that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men: he is a man full of sorrows, and hath experience of infirmities: we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely, he hath born our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, yet we did judge him as plagued and smitten of God, and humbled.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions: he was broken for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes are we healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.
28 ¶ After, when Jesus knew that all things were performed, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, I thirst.
29 And there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar: and put it about an Hyssop stalk, and put it to his mouth.
30 Now when Jesus had received of the vinegar, he said, It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
“Consider the excellencies of the knowledge of Christ. The comforts of believers are streams from this fountain. Jesus Christ is the object of a believer’s joy. Take away the knowledge of Christ, and Christians would be the most sad and melancholy beings in the world. . .
“Studying Christ stamps a heavenly glory upon the contemplating soul. How little do we know of Christ, in comparison with what we might have known! O, how much time is spent in other studies and worldly employments; but how little in the search and study of Jesus Christ! O then, separate, devote, and wholly give yourself, your time, and your strength to this most sweet, transcendent study.”
John Flavel, The Fountain of Life, pp. 13-19.