“The Fountain Of Life”: The Excellency Of Christ In The Preaching Of John Flavel -- By: Peter Beck

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 05:1 (Jan 2013)
Article: “The Fountain Of Life”: The Excellency Of Christ In The Preaching Of John Flavel
Author: Peter Beck

“The Fountain Of Life”: The Excellency Of Christ In The Preaching Of John Flavel

Peter Beck

“A saving, though an immethodical knowledge of Christ, will bring us to heaven, but a regular methodical, as well as a saving knowledge of him, will bring heaven into us.”1 Thus, the man who reportedly enjoyed “more disciples than either John Owen or Richard Baxter” introduced his expansive collection of sermons on the excellency of Christ: “The Fountain of Life: A Display of Christ in His Essential and Mediatorial Glory.”2

John Flavel spoke often and at length about the superiority of Christ. Here, centuries later, the power and the practicality of the forty-two sermons published as “The Fountain of Life” echo with an authenticity that the church and a watching world long to see. Expounding on the person and work of Christ, Flavel sought to move the beauty and importance of these doctrines beyond the justifying of the soul to the sanctifying of the man. “Let your soul be adorned with the excellencies of Christ, and beauties of holiness,” he wrote.3 Theology, rightly understood, changes the believer. “Truth is the sanctifying instrument, the mould into which our souls are cast.”4

What Flavel sought was an orthodoxy that issued into orthopraxy—right beliefs that bore sweet fruit. “Get these great truths well digested both in your heads and hearts,” he concluded his introduction, “and let the power of them be displayed in your lives.”5

After a short review of the salient facts concerning his life, this article will consider Flavel’s sermon series, “The Fountain of Life,” with a view toward illustrating the manner in which he connected orthodox Christian teaching on the person and work of Christ with the person and work of the Christian. Given that the work spans forty-two sermons and hundreds of pages, our study will be limited to several sermons that serve as exemplars for the entire corpus. In each case, consideration will be given to the doctrinal statements and the individual application of those truths. In each we will see that Flavel connected principle with practice so that his hearers and readers might with their lives “preach down the love of the world” and “preach up the necessity and beauty of holiness.”6

A Christ-Centered Life

“Christ shall be the centre to which all the ...

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