Owen, Flavel, and the Spurg
John Owen...John Flavel...Charles Spurgeon. I am not quite sure that more needs to be said for you to just go out and get these new titles from Banner of Truth. If these names alone aren't enough for you to drop everything and buy these books, then I have given some brief commentary below on what I think about these new releases.
Duties On Christian Fellowship - John Owen
John Owen’s Duties of Christian Fellowship encourages church members to have fellowship with their pastor and other members in a way that is biblical. This book is very helpful, challenging, and full of Scripture references. I believe this is probably the shortest book of the Puritan Paperback series, or at least of what I have in my library. It is roughly 94 pages. Banner of Truth has done an incredible job taking such a very practical work of Owen’s and putting it into a modernized format. This book includes questions for consideration and discussion that are not originally from Owen’s work. I recommend this for personal or small group settings.
All Things Made New - John Flavel
John Flavel has to be one of my favorite Puritans. First, because of his very practical and yet profound sermons and writings, but also because of his zeal as a preacher of God’s Word. Flavel was a pastor in Dartmouth, which was a base for the English navy and a town known for its fishing industry. This really got my interest since I am a fisherman myself. Flavel pastored and wrote to the needs of the seafarers and local farmers. When the Church of England and King Charles II established the Act of Uniformity, Flavel along with the other Puritans refused to subscribe to the terms of the Acts which ended their ministry in the Established Church. This did not stop Flavel from passionately preaching God’s Word and ministering to people. When he was forced to move away from Dartmouth, he moved to Slapton which was only 5 miles away from Dartmouth. He would use various disguises, even sometimes dressing as a woman, in order to minister to his members. They would meet at pre-arranged meeting places and sometimes at the woods in the middle of the night. On one occasion he preached on horseback at Salstone Rock, which is an island that was exposed only during low tide. Flavel preached here because he believed that the island belonged to no one and so it was not subject to the King’s law. Although Flavel believed this, the local authorities did not and when they came to stop him, Flavel rode his horse into the sea to escape them. This was John Flavel. He was the James Bond of preachers. He would do anything in order to declare the good news of Christ. Therefore, you must read him! This Puritan Paperback is such a great introduction to the sermons and works of Flavel. The four main sections that make up this book are: Salvation Is In Jesus Christ, Trusting In And Belonging To Christ, Living The Christian Life, and The Church. Here is a sample of Flavel:
Pray for grace to deal with indwelling sin.
As Psalm 19:12 says, "Forgive my hidden faults’; and Psalm 86:11 says, “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name,” Saints have always many such prayers before the throne of God’s grace, and this is what is most pleaded by them with God. When they are praying for outward mercies, their spirits may be more remiss, but when it comes to the heart's case, then they extend their spirits to the utmost, fill their mouths with arguments, weep and make supplication: oh, for a better heart! "Oh for a heart to love God more, to hate sin more, to walk more closely with God. Lord, deny not to me such a heart, whatever else you deny me; give me a heart to fear, love, and delight in you, even if I have to beg my bread in desolate places.
Flowers From A Puritan's Garden - Charles Spurgeon
I have heard from a lot of pastors to stay away from resources with illustrations and to only come up with original ones. While I understand where this hesitancy comes from, I do believe that we would benefit from at least looking through sermon illustration books such as this one. If you don’t use the old illustrations you could use them to help aid in the process of coming up with your own. And hey if Spurgeon did it...well...his nickname was the Prince of Preachers. Charles Spurgeon loved Thomas Manton’s use of illustrations. I do have to say right off the bat that this is a strange book. It is very unique since it is Spurgeon’s thoughts about Thomas Manton’s illustrations, but you need to check it out! I have found this book to be helpful in making me think more deeply about the things I am reading. Here is a sample from Flowers from a Puritan's Garden:
Things written with the juice of a lemon, when they are brought to the fire are plain and legible: so when wicked men draw near to the fires of hell, their secret sins stand out before them, and they cry out upon their beds. - Manton
The prospect of eternity discovers those secret beliefs and inward fears which they laboured so hard to deny and conceal. Few men can keep up a deceit when they approach their end. The skeleton hand readily tears off the mask. A deathbed is not always free from hypocrisy; but, assuredly, it is hard for the dying sinner to keep up his deceit. The fire of his approaching doom brings out the secret writing upon his soul, which even he himself had not before cared to read, and then he who after thought himself a firmly rooted sceptic finds out that he had after all an inward conviction which he could not stifle, and a fear in his heart which he could not smother. O that men would seek to know themselves, for it might turn out that the defiant blasphemy of their tongues is not, by any means, a sure index that their heart is at rest in unbelief.
What must be that man's condition whose very infidelity is feigned? It is a terrible thing to be a sham Christian, but what must be the worthlessness of a hypocritical infidel? When the genuine metal is worthless, what shall we say of its counterfeit? Yet we doubt not that thousands of sceptics, in their inmost hearts, believe what they blusteringly deny, and the day will come when, like him whose children they are, they will believe and tremble.
Lord, help me to read my own heart. Let me know my true state, and let that state be such as thou wilt approve. - Spurgeon