John Flavel (1630–1691) was born at Bromsgrove in Worcesterchire, England. His father, Richard Flavel, was a reverend also. He was educated at University College, Oxford. In 1650 he became rector at Diptford, Devonshire and stayed for six years. He moved to Dartmouth in 1656. In 1662 he was removed for non-conformity to the Act of Uniformity, but he continued to preach in private. During this time he moved around to Slapton, Dartmouth, and London. He was married four times, and died of paralysis in Exeter.
A Gift for Mourners.
John Flavel Booklist:
Antipharmacum Saluberrimum, or a Serious and Seasonable Caveat to All the Saints in this Hour of Temptation.
Balm of the Covenant applied to the Bleeding Wounds of afflicted Saints (The)
Blow at the Root, (A) with a first and second appendix
Character of a True Evangelical Pastor (The)
Christ Altogether lovely
Coronation Sermon (A)
Divine Conduct, or the Mystery of Providence Opened
Double Scheme of Sins and Duties (A)
England’s Duty under the Present Gospel Liberty
Exposition of the Assemblies Shorter Catechism (An)
Faithful and Succinct Account of some Late and Wonderful Sea Deliverances (A)
Familiar Conference between a Minister and a Doubting Christian Concerning the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (A)
Fountain of Life Opened Up (The); or, A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory
Gospel Unity Recommended to the Churches of Christ
Hymn on Romans 5:6, 11 (A)
Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
Mount Pisgah, or a Thanksgiving Sermon for England’s Delivery from Popery
Navigation Spiritualized; or, A New Compass for Seamen
Pathetic and Serious Dissuasive from the Horrid and Detestable Sins of Drunkenness, Swearing, Uncleanness, Forgetfulness of Mercies, Violation of Promises, and Atheistical Contempt of Death (A)
Planelogia, A Succinct and Seasonable Discourse on the Occasions, Causes, Nature, Rise, Growth and Remedies of Mental Errors
Pneumatologia, the Treatise of the Soul of Man
Practical Treatise of Fear, (A) Wherein the Various Kinds, Uses, Causes, Effects and Remedies thereof are Distinctly Open and Prescribed
Preparation for Sufferings, or the Best Work in the Worst Times
Reasonableness of Personal Reformation and the Necessity of Conversion Remains
Reply to Mr. Philip Cary's Solemn Call (A)
Righteous Man’s Refuge (The)
Sacramental Meditations upon Divers Places in Scripture
Saint Indeed (A)
Seaman’s Companion (The)
Table or Scheme of the Sins and Duties of Believers (A)
Token for Mourners (A)
Touchstone of Sincerity (The)
'Tydings from Rome, or England's Alarm
Vindiciae Legis et Foederis
Vindiciarum Vindex, or, A Refutation of the Weak and Impertinent Rejoinder of Mr. Philip Carey
Extended Biography of John Flavel
John Flavel, B. A. of University Col. Oxford. He was a native of Worcestershire, where his father was an eminent minister, first at Bromsgrove, and afterwards at Hasler. He was first assistant to Mr. Walplate at Diptford in Devonshire, in 1650, and ordained with several others at Salisbury, Oct. 17, in the same year. On Mr. Walplate's death, he succeeded in this rectory; but, upon an unanimous call, he removed to Dartmouth, where there was a larger sphere of usefulness, though the benefice was smaller. He was settled here by the Commissioners for the approbation of public preachers, having an order from Whitehall, dated Dec. 10, 1650, in conjunction with Mr. Allan Geare. Mr. Flavel preached every Lord's-day at Townstall, (which is the mother church, standing on a hill without the town) and every fortnight at the Wednesday-lecture in Dartmouth. He here labored with great acceptance and success, till the Act of uniformity ejected him. But, not thinking his relation to his people thereupon at an end, he took all opportunities of ministering the word and sacraments to them in private. About four months after his ejectment his colleague died, when the whole care of the flock devolved upon him. When the Oxford act took place, he removed from Dartmouth, (his people following him to Townstall church-yard, where they took a mournful farewell of each other) and went to Slapton, about five miles distant, where he met with signal instances of God's providential care, and preached twice every Lord's day; making frequent visits to his friends in Dartmouth, and preaching to them as the watchful diligence of his enemies would admit. A manuscript account says, The house to which he retired was called Hudscott, a seat belonging to the family of the Rolles, near South-Molton; and that there he preached at midnight, for the sake of secrecy, when the great hall was thronged with an attentive and deeply-affected auditory. Probably both these accounts may be true, as he might preach privately by night at first, and find encouragement to preach publicly in the day-time afterwards. Here it was that he laid in his materials for his Husbandry Spiritualized, from the observations he here made on the scenes of rural life. Being once at Exeter, he was invited by many good people of that city to preach to them in a wood about three miles distant, where their enemies disturbed them; but Mr. Flavel, through the care of his hearers, escaped, though many of them were taken. The rest however, not being discouraged, took him to another wood, where he preached without any molestation.
On K. Charles's first Indulgence, he returned to Dartmouth, and kept an open meeting in the town. When that liberty was recalled, he continued to preach more privately. Being at last in great danger here, through the malice of his enemies, he resolved to retire to London, where he hoped for more safety. He went by sea, and met with so terrible a storm, within five leagues of Portland, that both the master and seamen concluded they must of necessity be wrecked, if the wind did not quickly change. When things were in this posture, he called all that could be spared to prayer, and recommended himself and them to God. No sooner was prayer ended, than the wind changed, and one came down from the deck, shouting, "Deliverance! God is a God hearing prayer!" Mr. Flavel got safe to London; where he found much work, and much encouragement in it. Here he married his fourth wife. Having narrowly escaped being apprehended with Mr. Jenkyn, (See Vol. I. p. 111.) he resolved to return home; but was soon confined close prisoner to his house, where many of his people used to steal in late on Saturday night, or early on the Lord's Day morning, to enjoy the benefit of his prayers, his preaching, and conversation. On Mr. Jenkyn's death, his people gave Mr. Flavel a call to succeed him, and Mr. Reeves's congregation did the same; but he was not to be persuaded to leave Dartmouth.
Upon K. James's liberty in 1687, his people provided him a large place, in which it pleased God to bless his labors for the good of many. He preached twice every Lord's Day, a lecture every Wednesday, and on Thursday also before the sacrament.—He was not only zealous in the pulpit, but a sincere lively Christian in the closet, as appears from his Diary, part of which is inserted in his life. His intimate and delightful intercourse with heaven is manifest from a remarkable story which he relates in his Pneumatologia (p. 210, 2d edit. 4to) though with great modesty, using the third person, as the apostle Paul did when speaking of his extraordinary revelations. The following is the substance of the narrative. Being on a journey, he set himself to improve his time by meditation; when his mind grew intent, till at length he had such ravishing tastes of heavenly joys, and such full assurance of his interest therein, that he utterly lost the sight and sense of this world and all its concerns, so that for hours he knew not where he was. At last, perceiving himself faint through a great loss of blood from his nose, he alighted from his horse and sat down at a spring, where he washed and refreshed himself; earnestly desiring, if it were the will of God, that he might there leave the world. His spirits reviving, he finished his journey in the same delightful frame. He passed all that night without a wink of sleep, the joy of the Lord still over flowing him, so that he seemed an inhabitant of the other world. After this a heavenly serenity and sweet peace long continued with him; and for many years he called that day "one of the days of heaven," and professed he understood more of the life of heaven by it, than by all the discourses he had heard, or the books he ever read.
Mr. Flavel was a person of good natural abilities, of unwearied application to study, and had acquired a great stock both of human and divine learning. He had an excellent gift in prayer, being never at a loss for matter or words, and was always warm and affectionate. Those who lived in his family remarked, that he seemed constantly to exceed himself, and rarely used the same expressions twice. His preaching was plain and popular, but at the same time methodical and judicious. He was remarkable for the practical applications of his discourses, and particularly for his pertinent inferences. [A late judicious minister used to recommend to students for the ministry, the style of his printed sermons, as a good model for pulpit discourses.] He was a person of great humility, free to communicate what he knew, and ready to learn from everybody. He was very benevolent and charitable to the poor. He was a great encourager of young men designed for the ministry; some of whom he educated himself, and maintained one at his own expense. He was ever ready to forgive in juries. In 1685, when the populace of Dartmouth carried his effigy through the streets in derision, and burnt it, he only prayed for them, saying, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."—Among the many instances of his usefulness, the two following, recorded in his life at large, are very remarkable:—Being sent for to a young man who had attempted to murder himself, his conversation and prayers were the means of his conversion. A profane person coming into a bookseller's shop to inquire for a play-book, the bookseller recommended to him Mr. Flavel’s Treatise On Keeping the Heart, as likely to do him more good. After having grossly abused the author and ridiculed the book, he was prevailed upon to promise that he would read it. He accordingly did so; and about a month after, came and thanked the bookseller for putting it into his hand; telling him, it had saved his soul; and bought a hundred copies of it to give away.
Mr. Flavel died somewhat suddenly, June 26, 1691, aged 64, in the city of Exeter, whither he went to preach before the assembly, (in which also he was moderator) with a view to a union between the Presbyterians and Independents, which he was very zealous to promote. His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Tross, on 2 Kings 2:12. He was buried in Dartmouth church, where there was a Latin inscription to his memory upon a brass plate, which was taken down by order of the magistrates, and is preserved in the meetinghouse, where this circumstance is recorded.
WORKS. Πνευμϑογια, a Treatise on the Soul of Man.—The Fountain of Life, in 42 Sermons.—The Method of Grace, in 35 Sermons. [In both vols. the Sermons are on various Texts.]—England's Duty, in 11 Sermons, on Revelation 3:20.—A Token for Mourners.— Husbandry Spiritualized.—Navigation Spiritualized.—A Treatise on Providence.—Another on Keeping the Heart.—Repentance enforced by Arguments from Reason only.—The Balm of the Covenant—Sacramental Meditations. And several other Pieces, collected, since his death, in 2 vol. fol. with his life prefixed. N. B. They may also be had in 8 vol. 8vo.
Source: Calamy, Edmund, D. D. The Nonconformists Memorial; Being an Account of the Lives, Sufferings, and Printed Works of the two Thousand Ministers Ejected from the Church of England, chiefly by the Act of Uniformity, Aug. 24, 1662. Vol 2. Samuel Palmer, ed. London: Button and Son, and T. Hurst, 1802.