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Quotes by John Flavel


If you neglect to instruct [your children] in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.


The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering and the most comfortable way of dying.


If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No, no, if you will not teach them to pray, he will teach them to curse, swear and lie. If ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring up.


To see a man humble under prosperity is one of the greatest rarities in the world.


Christ is so in love with holiness, that at the price of His blood He will buy it for us.


It is a dangerous crisis when a proud heart meets with flattering lips.


That which begins not with prayer, seldom winds up with comfort.


Conscience which should have been the sinner’s curb here on earth becomes the sinner’s whip that will lash his soul in hell. That which was the seat and center of all guilt now becomes the seat and center of all torment.


The providence of God is like a Hebrew word – it can only be read backwards.


How dangerous it is to join anything of our own to the righteousness of Christ, in pursuit of justification before God! Jesus Christ will never endure this; it reflects upon His work dishonorably. He will be all, or none, in our justification. If He has finished the work, what need is there of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ Himself could not complete? Did He finish the work, and will He ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no; Christ is no half-Savior.  It is a hard thing to bring proud hearts to rest upon Christ for righteousness. God humbles the proud by calling sinners wholly from their own righteousness to Christ for their justification.


It is not with us, as with other labourers: they find their work as they leave it, so do not we. Sin and Satan unravel almost all we do, the impressions we make on our people’s souls in one sermon, vanish before the next.


Brethren, it is easier to declaim against a thousand sins of others, than to mortify one sin in ourselves.


If ever you wish to see how great and horrid and evil sin is, measure it in your thoughts, either by the infinite holiness and excellency of God, who is wronged by it; or by the infinite sufferings of Christ, who died to satisfy for it; and then you will have deeper apprehensions of its enormity.


Oh cursed sin!  It was you who slew my dear Lord! For your sake He underwent all this! If your vileness had not been so great, His sufferings had not been so many. Cursed sin! You were the knife which stabbed Him! You the sword which pierced Him!


We preach and pray, and you hear; but there is no motion Christ-ward until the Spirit of God blows upon them.


When the corn is nearly ripe it bows the head and stoops lower than when it was green. When the people of God are near ripe for heaven, they grow more humble and self-denying… Paul had one foot in heaven when he called himself the chiefest of sinners and least of saints.


This revealed will of God is either manifested to us in His Word, or in His works. The former is His commanding will, the latter His affecting or permitting will.


Afflictions have the same use and end to our souls, that frosty weather hath upon those clothes that are laid and bleaching, they alter the hue and make them white.


The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance you have had for this life of holiness.


The gospel offer of Christ includes all His offices, and gospel faith just so receives Him; to submit to Him, as well as to be redeemed by Him; to imitate Him in the holiness of His life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of His death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.


What! At peace with the Father, and at war with His children? It cannot be.


It is easier to declaim like an orator against a thousand sins in others than to mortify one sin in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people than one to our own hearts.


The manner of God’s revealing His will to men is (also) very different. Some have had special, personal, and peculiar discoveries of it made to them. So had Samuel about the choice of the person whom he should anoint king… But now, all are tied up to the ordinary standing rule of the written Word, and must not expect any such extraordinary revelations from God. The way we now have to know the will of God concerning us in difficult cases, is to search and study the Scriptures, and where we find no particular rule to guide us in this or that particular case, there we are to apply general rules.


Did God really forsake Jesus Christ upon the cross?  Then from the desertion of Christ singular consolation springs up to the people of God… (1)  Christ’s desertion is preventive of your final desertion.  Because He was forsaken for a time you shall not be forsaken forever.  For He was forsaken for you… (2)…Though God deserted Christ, yet at the same time He powerfully supported Him.  His omnipotent arms were under Him, though His pleased face was hid from Him.  He had not indeed His smiles, but He had His supportations.  So Christian, just so shall it be with thee.  Thy God may turn away His face, He will not pluck away His arm.


They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves, cannot be proud.


Sin brought in sweat (Genesis 3:19), but now, not to sweat increases sin.


What a mercy was it to us to have parents that prayed for us before they had us, as well as in our infancy when we could not pray for ourselves!


O be not too quick to bury the Church before she is dead.


He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall He not with him freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32)? How is it imaginable that God should withhold, after this, spirituals or temporals, from His people? How shall He not call them effectually, justify them freely, sanctify them thoroughly, and glorify them eternally? How shall He not clothe them, feed them, protect and deliver them? Surely if He would not spare this own Son one stroke, one tear, one groan, one sigh, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever He should, after this, deny or withhold from His people, for whose sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them.


Did Christ finish His work for us? Then there can be no doubt but He will also finish His work in us.


It is easier to cry against one-thousand sins of others than to kill one of your own.

Recommended Books

Mystery of Providence

John Flavel