Volume 47 - Issue 3

Heaven’s War upon the Earth: How to Turn a Moderate 17th Century Pastor into a Radical

By Nathan Parker


There appears a strong apocalyptical expectation in the writings of the 17th century Puritan pastor John Flavel (1628–1691), but, as this paper will argue, this materialized in his later writings. Most people who thought the end of the world was imminent in the 17th century tended to be within radical groups that were active during the Interregnum. Though the momentum of apocalyptical thought was generally arrested over the next two decades it is notable that by the time of the Glorious Revolution it was incorporated into the preaching of a peaceable and deeply conciliatory pastor. After providing a brief summary of who Flavel was and why he was an important (though heretofore overlooked) figure, this article will shed light on how one moderate Puritan came to embrace ideas with alarmingly radical implications.

Puritanism “has left a vast literature of homiletics and casuistry, which is wholly dead save for an occasional excursion of the curious. Nothing could be more wearisome to the modern reader than its voluminous controversy…. The Calvinistic theology, which was the intellectual form of Puritanism, is dead beyond recall.”1 These words were penned 110 years ago by a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, who was also a Canon of Westminster and the Bishop of Durham. Had he known what the next century held in store in the field of Puritan studies, Hensley Henson would have most likely tempered this precipitous judgment. Today, in the third decade of a new millennium, research into the works of the “wholly dead” is stronger than ever. One aspect of this renewed interest in Puritanism concerns their variegated eschatological views.

The historian Paul Johnson wrote, “All societies contain not only creators and builders but apocalyptics.”2 Indeed, there appears a strong apocalyptic expectation in the writings of the English Nonconformist John Flavel, but this appeared only in his later writings. Most people who thought that the end of the world was impending in England in the middle of the 17th century tended to be within radical groups that were active during the Interregnum (the 11-year period between the execution of Charles I and the accession of his son Charles II to the throne in 1660) such as the Fifth Monarchists.3 For a season just after the monarchy was restored, the so-called Restoration, it was much rarer for people to expect the end of the world. In fact, after the apocalyptically-freighted year 1666 belief in the imminent return of Christ diminished and was almost non-existent by 1676.4 It is notable that by the time of the Glorious Revolution in the late 1680s this belief was incorporated into the preaching of a peaceable and deeply conciliatory pastor. In his early writings, John Flavel averred that if Christ was not to return soon, England at least stood under the judgment of God and was liable to face his wrath at any moment. Even though Flavel thought the return of Christ was at hand in 1689, he held out some hope that if the nation amended its ways, the cataclysmic end might be averted. Thus, on the political front, Flavel interpreted the religious freedom provided in the Toleration Act of 1689 under William and Mary as both a blessing and a dire warning. This study will address these complex issues in a way that will shed light on how one moderate Puritan came to embrace ideas with alarmingly radical implications.

This article will demonstrate that Flavel’s beliefs about the apocalyptic return of Christ shifted through the course of his writing career. After briefly explaining who Flavel was and why he is important, I will lay out the evidence that Flavel interpreted the removal of ministers from their pulpits, the removal of gospel ordinances (or sacraments) from the church, escalating national wickedness, and heightened schism amongst Christians as precursors to national judgment in England. Second, I will prove that in the period from 1660 to 1670 Flavel did not express belief in Christ’s imminent return. Third, I will show that he began to warm to this idea between the years 1670 and 1680. Fourth, I will argue that he taught that judgment was at hand in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution. That is, because of the appearance of the four omens, his concerns about his own country inflated into the belief that Christ’s return was to be expected for the whole world. Fifth, and lastly, I will show that, even given his direct warnings about the end, Flavel was still willing to hold out a glimmer of hope that the end would be delayed if fellow Nonconformists would only heed his words. We will arrive at these conclusions through an analysis of his writings which cover a twenty-five-year period.

First, who was this Dissenter and why is he worth studying? John Flavel (1628–1691) was a Nonconformist minister whose primary labor was that of pastoring a local congregation in Devon, in the sea-port town of Dartmouth. Flavel attended University College, Oxford, and he ministry for 41 years in both Presbyterian and Congregational churches. Flavel’s writings had a transatlantic impact, such that when Increase Mather, president of Harvard at the turn of the 18th century, wrote a preface to one of Flavel’s writings, he said that his books “have made his name precious and famous in both Englands5 (meaning England and New England). Many political and religious leaders attested to Flavel’s influence on their lives such as George Whitefield, John Wesley, John Newton, Jonathan Edwards, William Wilberforce, America’s second President John Adams, and even the deistic printer and inventor Benjamin Franklin.

Flavel’s writings, of which I have identified 530 distinct printings, were reproduced so often and possessed so frequently within early American households that a survey of the holdings of household libraries in the Upper Connecticut River Valley in the period 1785–1830 reveals that Flavel’s works are the 11th most common to appear. Appearing less frequently on the list of the top 100 writers/books are the Book of Common Prayer, Edwards, Wesley, Baxter, Bunyan, Benjamin Franklin, Locke, Milton, and coming in last place, Shakespeare.6 Given Flavel’s historical importance, we will now turn to his apocalyptical claims.

1. Signs of Judgment

Scattered throughout Flavel’s writings are allusions to his belief that certain signs and circumstances tend to presage (and even precipitate) the judgment of God. For Flavel, such judgment of God was entirely warranted in light of the abundance of blessings God had given England. Flavel asserted that these national advantages were gloriously unique. Writing in Method of Grace in 1680 he stated the following: “We are bound with all thankfulness to acknowledge the bounty of heaven to this sinful generation in furnishing us with so many excellent means of light beyond many other nations and generations that are past: but yet we ought to rejoice with trembling when we consider the abuses of light in this wanton age, and what a dismal event is like to happen unto many thousands among us.” He went on to chillingly warn his listeners:

I fear the time is coming when many among us will wish they had never set foot upon English ground. God hath blessed this nation with many famous, burning and shining lights; it was once said to the honour of this Nation, that the English ministry was the worlds wonder: and when a man of another Nation began to Preach methodically and convincingly, they were wont to say, we perceive this man hath been in England: the greater will our account be for abusing such light and rebelling against it: the clearer our light is now, the thicker will the mists of darkness be hereafter; if we thus wantonize under it, and rebel against it.7

As is clearly shown in a passage like this, Flavel sometimes donned the prophetic hat and enumerated the reasons why God’s displeasure justly rested upon the nation. Incidentally, it is significant that Increase Mather called Flavel a prophet in his preface to Flavel’s posthumously published exposition on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Speaking about Devonians who would later reflect upon the man who labored amongst them, Mather wrote: “Dartmouth will know, and Devonshire will know, that there has been a Prophet among them.”8 In one sense, for any English Nonconformist, gospel ministers had a prophetic role and could aptly be labeled prophets. However, this capitalized reference to “a Prophet” has an eschatological ring to it, expressing an urgent call for repentance before it is too late. Whether or not the appellation “Prophet” sticks, Flavel posited four signs that God’s wrath was about to be poured out on the nation and bring about the end of the age.9

The first precursor to judgment was the removal of gospel ministers from church pulpits.10 Flavel wrote that the removal of ministers meant that the Lord was about to declare war on the earth and bring about terrific calamity. Speaking about what was “implied and imported in Christs treaty with sinners by his Ambassadors or Ministers,”11 he wrote, “it implies the removal of the Gospel ministry to be a very great judgment to the people. The remanding of Ambassadors, presages an ensuing War. If the reconciling of souls to God be the greatest work, then the removal of the means and instruments thereof must be the sorest Judgment.”12 In poetic verse he warned the same thing about the removal of God’s ambassadors in Husbandry Spiritualized, and in this you will hear the inspiration for this article’s title:

O dreadful, dark, and dismal day!
How is our glory fled away.
Our Sun gone down, our stars o’re cast;
God’s heritage is now laid wast.
Our pining souls no bread can get,
With wantons God hath justly met,
When we are fed unto the full,
This man was tedious; that was dull….
Sure heaven intends not peace, but wars;
In calling home Ambassadors.13

Flavel sounded an eerie note by warning that the removal of God’s ambassadors (i.e., preachers) preceded judgment. The Great Ejection in 1662 effectively defrocked the best (in Flavel’s view) 1800 pastors in England, removing both ministers and the Dissenting understanding of the sacraments.14 What was so awful about the removal of ministers was not only that the faithful shepherds were gone, but that the very means of salvation (through the preached word) was now absent. It was the preached word of God that was responsible for the edification, nourishment, and above all salvation of humans. Therefore, the removal of those was a dire judgment indeed. (This is how to radicalize a heretofore pacific minister: remove Puritans from their pulpits!)

Secondly, Flavel believed that the eradication of the ordinances from the church was a sign that Christ was about to return. Flavel held the ordinances of God in very high esteem—he saw their function as being integral to the life of the church and human salvation. Of course, as a Dissenting Protestant, it goes without saying that he rejected the Roman Catholic Church’s conception of the sacraments. Flavel valued the ordinances—including the preaching of the word—as good gifts from God. Speaking about the worth of the preached word in Method of Grace, Flavel wrote,

’Tis a blessing far above our estimation of it; little do we know what a treasure God committeth to us in his Ordinances … ’tis the very power of God unto salvation, and salvation is ordinarily denied to whom the preaching of the word is denied. It’s called the word of life, and deserves to be valued by every one of us as our life: the eternal decree of Gods election is executed by it upon our souls: as many as be ordained to eternal life shall believe by the preaching of it. Great is the ingratitude of this generation which so slights and undervalues this invaluable treasure: which is a sad presage of the most terrible judgement, even the removing our Candlestick out of its place, except we repent.15

Flavel linked God’s execution of the decree of election with the preaching of the word—what greater place of prominence could be attached to any human activity? And thus, the removal of the preached word signaled, at the very least, a terrible judgment of God upon the nation. Flavel’s use of the word “judgment” was later to connote the final judgment when Christ returned to judge the living and the dead, but at this point in his ministry his concerns are restricted to English men and women.16 In short, the absence of the ordinances presaged dark times for England.

The third harbinger of judgment which Flavel clearly warned his people about was that of increased national sinfulness. Flavel was deeply concerned that if the English continued in their sins they were going to prompt Jesus Christ’s speedy return to earth in judgment. In Husbandry Spiritualized, he used a nautical image to convey this:

You see now, what are the signs of a full ripe sinner; and when it comes to this, either with a Nation, or with a single person, then ruine is near. It is in the filling up of the measure of sin, as in the filling of a vessel cast into the Sea, which rowls from side to side, taking in the water by little and little, till it be full, and then down it sinks to the bottom.17

It is vital to note that, as yet, there was no clear eschatological note sounded. By the end of the next decade, he would change his mind about this. In short, Flavel warned his people through the course of his career that a positive sign of God’s judgment was an increase in national sinfulness, which Flavel saw on the rise and about which he was deeply concerned.

Flavel warned his fellow Dissenters that the fourth sign that the return of Christ was near was the proliferation of schism and division within their own ranks. He addressed this head-on in Mental Errors (1691):

These Schisms and Dissentions in the Churches of Christ are ominous presages, and foreboding signs of some sweeping Judgment, and common Calamity near approaching us. ‘Tis a common observation with Shepherds, That when the Sheep push one another, a storm speedily ensues. I am sure ‘tis so here, if God turn not our hearts one towards another, he will come and smite the Earth with a Curse.18

Flavel was earnest on this point and he spent a significant amount of time practicing what he preached. For example, he was integral to the formation of the “Happy Union”—an attempt in 1691 to unite Congregationalists and Presbyterians.19 So interested was Flavel in the success of this treaty that when he heard the news that this union was to be effected, he was overjoyed to the point that he burst into tears. John Galpine, a fellow Nonconformist minister in Devon, wrote the first biographical sketch on Flavel’s life which was published six weeks after his death. In this brief (2400-word) eulogy, dated August 3, 1691, Galpine described Flavel’s intense longing for Dissenters to be unified:

He was of a peaceable and healing spirit, becoming an ambassador of the Prince of Peace. He did what lay in him to live peaceably with all men, but especially to promote peace and love among Professors…. He was even transported with joy when, by a letter from a reverend minister in London, he received the good news of the happy agreement of the ministers in that city, who in some lesser points were of different apprehensions, and went under different denominations, hoping that it would have a good influence on the whole Kingdom…. He did frequently bless the Lord for that mercy, both in public and in private, and even melted into tears of joy at the mention of it, saying God had herein answered the prayers that his people had been putting up to him these many years. When he saw the Heads of Agreement, which had been assented to, and subscribed by the London ministers, he told a friend that was with him that he could now take up the words of old Simeon, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.20

We will now note the development of Flavel’s persuasion that the end of time was drawing near.

2. Flavel’s Early Writings (1664–1671)

Flavel’s first written work, A New Compass for Seaman,21 was published in 1664 in his fifteenth year of ministry.22 As there are no extant writings prior to this it is, of course, impossible to know what Flavel thought or taught about anything, much less eschatology. However, when he began writing, he never suggested that he thought that Christ’s return was near. For example, writing in Preparation for Sufferings in 1665, he held out the hope that the very end of time was not yet upon the nation: “the light of Gods countenance shall not only be restored Certainly, but it shall be restored Seasonably; when the darkness is greatest, thy troubles at the highest, and thy hopes lowest. He is a God of judgment, and knows how to time his own mercies.”23 Writing in 1665, Flavel clearly seemed to believe that God’s judgment was not to be expected in the near future.

In a sermon he preached in 1670, he even sounded an optimistic note about the future:

Get these great truths well digested both in your heads and hearts and let the power of them be displayed in your lives…. These things that so often warm’d your hearts from the Pulpit, return now to make a second impression upon them from the Press…. Two things relieve me; one is, that future times may produce more humble, and hungry Christians, than this glutted age enjoyes.24

Implicit in expressing hope that future times would generate a better brand of Christian, he suggested that there was a buoyant future for the nation. In short, Flavel did not warn his people that Christ’s return was near in the first decade of his writing career. However, events which transpired over the next decade began to shake Flavel’s confidence that this fiery grand finale lay in the distant future.

3. Flavel’s Middle Writings (1671–1680)

Roughly ten years after publishing Fountain of Life, especially in the sermon series Method of Grace, Flavel began to warm to the idea that something eschatologically significant was approaching. Flavel seemed to suggest that the Lord was about to remove his ministers and ordinances, which, as was shown in the early part of this article, constituted a first step toward final judgment: “those that were wise in heart could not but discern the distress of nations with great perplexity in these seeds of judgment and calamity…. O take up your lodgings in the Attributes and Promises of God, before the night overtake you … when the Ministers and Ordinances of Christ have taken their leave of you, and bid you good night.”25 He clearly warned his hearers that God would remove the Christian Church’s leavening presence if a nation continued in its sins, as England had been doing. Again, in Method of Grace, he wrote,

My Friends, let me speak as freely as I am sure I speak seasonably. A sound of judgement is in our ears…. All things round about us seem to posture themselves for trouble and distress. Where is the man of wisdom that doth not foresee a shower of wrath and indignation coming? We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace.26

Clearly, by the early 1680s, Flavel believed that there was trouble ahead for the Dissenters and the nation. During these years, especially in the aftermath of the Popish Plot (1978), Flavel gestured toward the rise of Roman Catholicism as one harbinger of judgment.27 Giving Flavel’s estimate of the state of Christendom, he wrote,

The far greater part [of this world] is overspread with popish darkness: separate from the remainder, the multitudes of prophane, merely civil and hypocritical professors of Religion; and how few will remain for Jesus Christ in this world? Look over the Cities, Towns and Parishes in this populous Kingdom; and how few shall you find that speak the language or do the works of new creatures? How few have ever had any awakening convictions on them? And how many of those that have been convinced have miscarried and never come to the new birth?28

Although he certainly sounded pessimistic, Flavel was not yet prepared to say that the end had come. Between 1664 and 1680 Flavel began to fear that God’s judgment was about to smite the world, in part because England was persecuting religious Dissenters. By the time another decade passed, he was fully convinced that England’s time had expired because of the weak religious state of the nation.

4. Flavel’s Later Writings (1680–1691)

In the preface to Flavel’s 1689 sermon series Englands Duty Under the Present Gospel Liberty, Flavel commented upon Paul’s warning to Timothy: “In the last days perilous times shall come.”29 Flavel then cited the 4th century Christian Lactantius30 to support his claim that the last days were at hand: “‘Of [such] perilous times, Lactantius writes thus; ‘When the end of this world is approaching, the state of human affairs must needs be greatly changed, and grow worse, through the prevalency of wickedness…’” Flavel then followed this remark by saying: “What think you, reader, is not this a description of our own times…? That this hath been fulfilled in our late (recent) troubles, none surely can hesitate that hath any discernment.”31 This is an important statement and is the central evidence which demonstrates that Flavel’s eschatological expectations significantly shifted by the year 1689, namely, he explicitly asserted that the end of the world was near in the last few years of his life. To erase any doubt, Flavel made a similar statement later in the same preface to that work: “It is very probable, that the day which all the prophets foretold, and all good men have, as it were, with outstretched neck, been eagerly looking for, is now at hand.” In its wider context, this quotation is referencing the return of Christ to judge and bring an end to the world. This represents a significant shift in his eschatological views over a 25-year period.32 It is at this point that Iain Murray is incorrect in his claim that the Puritans did not predict the imminent return of Christ. But we will return to that at the end.

With this said, however, Flavel did not quit his job to wait for the return of Christ. Albeit he was convinced that the end of the age was upon them, he clung to the hope that England would be able to reform herself and delay the Lord’s return. This was for several reasons. One hope Flavel held onto in 1689 was that William and Mary were on the throne, which might postpone God’s judgment: “But God at length, pitying our distresses, hath raised up a man [William of Orange],33 both zealous for the truth, and a lover of godliness, boldly to assert his cause in the face of danger and toil, and to put a new face on things.”34 A second hopeful sign which followed the coronation of William and Mary was that the English Parliament passed the Act of Toleration in May 1689, which finally granted religious liberty to Protestant Nonconformists. He seemed optimistic that these factors just might postpone judgment on the nation and the earth.

In light of Flavel’s expectation that the apocalypse was near in 1689, he urged his fellow ministers, whom he explicitly addressed in his preface to Englands Duty, to be about the work of proselytizing above all else. He wrote, “Especially and above all, I humbly beseech you, that, having laid aside all designs of smaller importance, you would mind this one thing how you may gain to Christ the souls committed to you, to which all earthly things are to be postponed. This is the labour, this the work incumbent on us.”35 According to Flavel, the best and most important work they could be about was that of evangelizing the unconverted. However, if they neglected to bear fruit in this way, judgment was in store. Flavel likened this to cutting down a tree from the roots: “The mercies and liberties of this day are a new trial obtained for us by our potentate Advocate in the heavens; if we bring forth fruit, well; if not, the ax lieth at the root of the tree. Let us not be secure.”36 Whether we agree with Flavel’s ontological beliefs or not, we should at least appreciate Flavel’s urging others to preach the gospel given his belief that all people were about to stand before the judgment throne of God. What else could he press them to do? Even though he was wrong in his prediction of the eschaton, it is surely significant that a Puritan of Flavel’s stature ventured a guess and erred at a time when many had gotten out of the precarious business of prophecy.

5. Conclusion

As I close, it seems warranted to criticize Flavel for the implicit nationalism in his claims about the end of the world. After all, it sounds a bit cheeky to think that because events are tumultuous in one’s own country, therefore the entire human race is in jeopardy. To be fair, some interpreters of the Puritans do not believe that they had intense apocalyptic concerns. Much as I value his overall take on the Puritans, I differ with Iain Murray’s assessment in The Puritan Hope: “Christopher Hill in his Puritanism and Revolution published in 1958, gives the impression, as do other writers, that the Puritans far from being characterized by hope expected the imminent end of the world!”37 Some Puritans seemed to expect the end of the world, and Flavel proves an example of this. Murray also states that those books which did deal with prophecy were those written by “men of acrobatic imaginations or of half-crazy fanatics.”38 Presumably Murray is referring to groups like the Ranters, Diggers, Levellers, or Fifth Monarchists, active in the Interregnum. But to group a centrist like Flavel with these fanatics is a serious misreading of the evidence. Apocalypticism was certainly not Flavel’s hobby-horse, and he never devoted an entire book to the topic. But his concerns do appear in a number of his important works. Nevertheless, Flavel stands liable to just criticism for having a very Anglo-centric understanding of the world. Clearer heads would one day prevail in the sense of trying to be aware of one’s own biases, but not yet.

[1] H. Hensley Henson, Puritanism in England (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1912), 75–77.

[2] Paul Johnson, Enemies of Society (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1977), 87–88.

[3] To take one of many examples: “What gave the proceedings of the House of Commons in early 1629 their urgency was the widespread and almost apocalyptic conviction that the last days of true religion in England were at hand.” Michael Finlayson, Historians, Puritanism and the English Revolution: The Religious Factor in Politics before and after the Interregnum (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983), 102. See also Jeffrey Jue, “Puritan Millenarianism in Old and New England,” in The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, ed. John Coffey and Paul Lim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 259–73; Neil Keeble, The Restoration: England in the 1660s. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 7, 45, 145, 165; Craig Rose, England in the 1690s (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 175, 196, 262ff; John Spurr, English Puritanism: 1603–1689 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), 112, 115; Arthur Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty (London: Dent, 1938), 83.

[4] Pink Dandelion, An Introduction to Quakerism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 42–43.

[5] John Flavel, England’s Duty under the Present Gospel Liberty (London: Matthew Wotton, 1689), “To the Reader,” A3v.

[6] William Gilmore, Reading Becomes a Necessity of Life: Material and Cultural Life in Rural New England, 1780–1835 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 64–67.

[7] John Flavel, The Method of Grace (London: Francis Tyton, 1681), 560 (italics original).

[8] Cotton Mather, preface to John Flavel, An Exposition of the Assemblies Catechism (London: Thomas Cockerill, 1692), “To the Reader,” A4v (italics removed).

[9] In another place he asserted that he believed that their trials were brought on as punishment by God for their lethargic response to the Gospel, calling them “the causes of God’s indignation.” John Flavel, Character of a Complete Evangelical Pastor (1691), from the first extant edition in The Whole Works of the Rev. Mr. John Flavel (London: T. Parkhurst, 1701), 1336.

[10] Flavel never asserted that it was only Nonconformist churches that were true Christian churches. He certainly believed that there were Christians across the spectrum of Protestant Churches, whether “gathered” or established.

[11] Flavel, Method of Grace, 47.

[12] Flavel, Method of Grace, 49.

[13] John Flavel, Husbandry Spiritualized (London: Robert Boulter, 1669), 99.

[14] For these numerical estimates, see T. J. Fawcett, The Liturgy of Comprehension 1689: An Abortive Attempt to Revise the Book of Common Prayer (Southend-on-Sea: Alcuin Club, 1973), 5. Duffy, incidentally, argued with good warrant that the ejection spelled the death of Nonconformity by the turn of the century. Eamon Duffy, “The Long Reformation: Catholicism, Protestantism and the Multitude,” in England’s Long Reformation, 1500–1800, ed. Nicholas Tyacke (London: University College London, 1998), 65.

[15] Flavel, Method of Grace, 365 (italics original).

[16] Cf. John Flavel, A Saint Indeed (London: Robert, Boulter, 1668), 43; Englands Duty, 146–47, 317, 312–13, 321; Method of Grace, 16, 49–50; Navigation Spiritualized (London: Thomas Fabian, 1677), 186.

[17] Flavel, Husbandry Spiritualized, 136. Cf. Flavel, Englands Duty, 14–15, 30; Preparation for Sufferings, or, The Best Work in the Worst Times (London: Robert Boulter, 1681), 16.

[18] John Flavel, Planelogia, A Succinct and Seasonable Discourse of the Occasions, Causes, Nature, Rise, Growth, and Remedies of Mental Errors (London: R. Roberts and Thomas Cockerill, 1691), 436. Here he references Malachi 4:6.

[19] Cf. Williston Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism (New York: Scribner, 1893), 445–46; Michael Mullett, Sources for the History of English Nonconformity 1660–1830 (London: British Records Association, 1991), 78; Gerald Cragg, Puritanism in the Period of the Great Persecution: 1660–1688 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957), 253; Alexander Gordon, Freedom After Ejection, 1690–1692 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1917), 153–55; Alexander Drysdale, History of the Presbyterians in England (London: Presbyterian Church of England, 1889), 459–61.

[20] John Galpine, “The Life of Mr. John Flavel,” in Mr. Flavel’s Remains (London: Thomas Cockerill, 1691), a1–a2.

[21] The second edition was renamed Navigation Spiritualized (1677).

[22] Flavel was ordained as a Presbyterian at Salisbury on October 17, 1650. John Quick, Icones Sacrae Anglicaneae (1706), 923 (italics original).

[23] Flavel, Preparation for Sufferings, 141.

[24] John Flavel, The Fountain of Life Opened (London: Francis Tyton, 1673), 30–31.

[25] Flavel, Method of Grace, “To the Reader,” 16–17.

[26] Flavel, Method of Grace, “To the Reader,” 16. Cf. John Flavel, A Practical Treatise of Fear (London: R. Boulter, 1681), A5r-A5v.

[27] The Popish Plot was a supposed conspiracy by the Jesuits to assassinate Charles II and crown his son James II, a staunch Catholic, in order to return England to Rome.

[28] Flavel, Method of Grace, 447.

[29] 2 Timothy 3:1.

[30] Lactantius (c. 240–320 AD) was an advisor to Constantine. Marginal note reads: “Lact lib. 70. de divino premio. p. 578, 579.”

[31] John Flavel, The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel (Edinburgh: Waugh and Keene, 1820), “A Letter,” 4:8.

[32] For other passages which intimate the brevity of time between the years 1689 and 1691, see Flavel, Englands Duty, “An Epistle to the Reader,” A3v, 13, 41–42; John Flavel, Mt. Pisgah (London: Matthew Wotton, 1689), 321, 322–23, 328, 332; John Flavel, A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of John Upton (London: J. Harris, 1688), 149.

[33] The marginal note at this point in the 1820 edition reads: “William III. Prince of Orange.” Although this note was added later, the context makes it obvious that Flavel is alluding to his new king. This marginal note first appeared in the 1754 Glasgow edition of Flavel’s Works. Cf. John Flavel, The Whole Works of the Rev. Mr. John Flavel (Glasgow: John Orr, 1754), 2:ii. This sixth edition of Flavel’s Works also translated Flavel’s introductory “Letter” from Latin into English for the first time, which translation appeared in the 1820 edition, as well as subsequent facsimile editions of that work in 1968, 1982, 1997, and 2005. The 1754 edition translation appears in some, but not all, subsequent editions. In several the Latin continued to be printed. Cf. 1762 Edinburgh edition; David Gray for J. Johnston.

[34] Flavel, Works (1820), “A Letter,” 4:8.

[35] Flavel, Englands Duty, 13.

[36] Flavel, Englands Duty, 3–4.

[37] Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope: A Study in Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (London: Banner of Truth, 1971), xxiii.

[38] Murray, The Puritan Hope, xxiii.

Nathan Parker

Nathan Parker is senior pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Athens, Georgia.

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