This most sweet, transcendent study

File:John flavel.PNG

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.

About John

“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.”

Anonymous bio,

Isaiah 53

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.

Who will believe our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

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.

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.

Surely, he hath born our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, yet we did judge him as plagued and smitten of God, and humbled.

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.

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.


John 19:28-30

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.

 Old Newgate

28 thoughts on “This most sweet, transcendent study

    • Amen, Jerry!
      2 Corinthians 2
      14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?


  1. Wow, thank you dear sister, for this post about John Flavel! There sure were a lot of Puritans named John. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the details of their lives separate. I’d love to learn more about this particular John. Are there any books you would recommend?

    Liked by 2 people

        • Chris, from what I’ve learned so far, the Puritans loved the Lord and sound doctrine. It’s good that they are being read again. I hope this will increase. There are many solid things from different ages that we could be reading in our dark times that would increase our love for God’s Word and biblical doctrine.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think so too, Maria. Watching many of today’s “theologians” and comparing a large amount of it with most of Puritan theology is like comparing rags to riches.
            Also: I am very pleased that my comment took at your blog. I have no idea if this is going to continue but I’ll just be thankful that I was able to make this comment. Lee Poskey found a comment of mine in his spam and changed it to a regular comment. He may have fixed my issue just by doing that. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Chris, I hope that fixed the problem for you at last. That problem must be so frustrating. I’m glad you’ve been able to comment here!
              I agree with your comment that some of what passes for theology today is pretty poor. If we prayed like the Puritans did, this wouldn’t be so, I believe. Though I shouldn’t project my own failure onto others. The Lord will lead and teach us I know, because He will complete the good work He began in us until the day of Jesus Christ!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Amen. Maria. I am usually two steps ahead of God so you can imagine the trouble I get myself in. As I’m getting older, God is slowing me down so that prayer comes easier and my trust in His Word is, I think, getting stronger.
                I will try and comment at a different blog today and see what happens. It was an on and mostly off problem that was happening at every blog I tried to comment at which are mostly on my blogroll.
                It was a bit frustrating but it looks like I’m maybe half way through that tunnel.
                God’s blessings my friend.
                I hope you have a great day.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Thank you for your kind words and your prayers, Maria.
                The major things in life make the small things really insignificant. My Mom ended up on the floor this morning. It was a good thing I was there or we would probably be in the hospital right now. I was able to slow her momentum enough that by the time she touched the floor it was like putting a baby to bed. Usually, I catch her before she falls.
                Getting her into bed was another story altogether. I have already thanked God at least once that I remember this morning.
                She is now sleeping peacefully.
                I tried to leave a comment on Pastor Jim’s blog yesterday (also known as SlimJim). It didn’t take. Very strange but in perspective, this issue is very minor.
                May our dear Lord bless your day my friend…

                Liked by 1 person

              • Pastor Jim just left me a note that he fished my comment from his Spam filter. Maybe that’s where all of my comments have been winding up. I will not ask my fellow bloggers to check spam filters unless I find that leaving comments on blogs that have fished at least one out continue to allow me to comment.

                Liked by 1 person

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