Wednesday, 22 August 2012


'Are you ready to conclude that you have no part in the favour of God, because you are visited with some extraordinary affliction? If so, do you then rightly conclude that great trials are tokens of God's hatred? Does the Scripture teach this? And dare you infer the same with respect to all who have been as much or more afflicted than yourself? If the argument is good in your case, it is good in application to theirs, and more conclusive with respect to them, in proportion as their trials were greater than yours. Woe then to David, Job, Paul, and all who have been afflicted as they were! But had you passed along in quietness and prosperity; had God witheld those chastisements with which he ordinarily visits his people, would you not have far more reasosn for doubts and distress than you now have?'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.89.


'Every appearance of hypocrisy does not prove the person who manifests it to be a hypocrite. You should carefully distinguish between the appearance and the predominance of hypocrisy.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.87.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


'It is better to be as low as hell with a promise, than to be in paradise without one.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.61.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


'A guilty sinner carries a witness against himself in his own bosom. It was guilty Herod cried out, "John the Baptist is risen from the dead." Such a conscience is the devil's anvil, on which he fabricates all those swords and spears with which the guilty sinner pierces himself. Guilt is to danger, what fire is to gun-powder: a man need not fear to walk among many barrels of powder, if he have no fire about him.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.56.


'It is a pity that our tears on account of our troubles should so blind our eyes that we should not see our mercies.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.47.


'Affliction is a pill, which, being wrapt up in patience and quiet submission, may be easily swallowed; but discontent chews the pill, and so embitters the soul.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.41. 


'It may support thy heart, to consider that in these troubles God is performing that work in which thy soul would rejoice, if thou didst see the design of it. We are clouded with much ignorance, and are not able to discern how particular providences tend to the fulfilment of God's designs; and therefore, like Israel in the wilderness, are often murmuring, because Providence leads us about in a howling desert, where we are exposed to diificulties; though then he led, and is now leading us, by the right way to a city of habitations. If you could but see how God in his secret counsel has exactly laid the whole plan of your salvation, even to the smallest means and circumstances; could you but discern the admirable harmony of divine dispensations, their mutual relations, together with the general respect they all have to the last end; had you the liberty to make your own choice, you would, of all the conditions in the world, choose that in which you now are. Providence is like a curious piece of tapestry made of a thousand shreds, which, single, appear useless, but put together, they represent, a beautiful history to the eye.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.40.


'O my heart, my haughty heart! Dost thou well to be discontent, when God has given thee the whole tree, with all the clusters of comfort growing on it, because he suffers the wind to blow down a few leaves.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.36.


'Divines observe this to be the method in which temptations are ripened and brought to their full strength. There is the irritation of the object, or that power it has to provoke our corrupt nature; which is either done by the real presence of the object, or by speculation when the object (though absent) is held out to the imagination before the soul. Then follows the motion of the appetite, which is provoked by the fancy representing it as a sensual good. Then there is a consultation in the mind about the best means of accomplishing it. Next follows the election, or choice of the will. And lastly, the desire, or full engagement of the will to it.
All this may be done in a few minutes, for the debates of the soul are quick and soon ended: when it come thus far, the heart is won, Satan hath entered victoriously and disoplayed his colours upon the walls of that royal fort; but, had the heart been well-guarded at first, it had never come to this - the temptation had been stopped in the first or second act. And indeed there it is stopped easily; for it is in the motion of a soul tempted to sin, as in the motion of a stone falling from the brow of a hill - it is easily stopped at first, but when once it is set in motion "it acquires strength by descending."'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.28.


'Sincerity! which is the thing sought, lies in the heart like a small piece of gold in the bottom of a river; he that would find it must stay till the water is clear, and then he will see it sparking at the bottom. That the heart may be clear and settled, how much pains and watching, care and dilligence, are requisite!'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, p.25.


'The heart of man is his worst part before it is regenerated, and the best afterward; it is the seat of principles, and the foundation of actions. The eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be, principally fixed upon it.
The greatestes difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.'
John Flavel, Keeping the Heart: How to maintain your love for God, p.7.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


'Even when reason is bright and the judgement clear, yet it will be ineffectual for any valuable purposes, if religion reach no farther than the head, and proceed not to the heart: it will have but little influence if there are none of the affections engaged.'
Isaac Watts in Graham Beynon, Emotions, p.174.


'The grave is the only burying place of unruly affections.'
Isaac Watts in Graham Beyon, Emotions, p.163.


'Our emotions tend to be raised by our five senses: things we can see, touch, taste, feel and smell. Our senses affect us more directly than unseen things and raise an emotional response. This is why I can be so affected by a film - I hear the dialogue, I see the expressions, I'm aware of the music. But here's the point: we can't use those senses on the truths of the gospel.
That is not to say we can't be affected by those truths we can't see. God's Spirit makes them real to us, bringing us an awareness of sin, confidence in the gospel, knowledge of God's love. These things are real to us, but they are real by faith.
That is why it is easier to feel rightly for concrete situations around us than for spiritual truths. We can see and touch the physical situations. We can't see or touch the spiritual reality.
This is why we will always have to work at reminding ourselves of truths about God and feeling rightly in the light of them. When we actually see something, the feelings usually flow by themselves.
If you stand in front of the Grand Canyon, you will feel enormous awe and wonder. But you will have to remind yourself of God's majesty and awe in order to feel awe about him.
If you are treated kindly by someone when you don't deserve it, you will feel gratitude. But you will have to remind yourself of God's kindness to feel grateful to him.
If you look at a beautiful jewel, painting, car or house (whatever it is for you), you will easily feel a great desire for it. But you will have to remind yourself of God's beauty in order to desire him above all else.
This explains why right feelings are a battle.'
Graham Beynon, Emotions, p.161.

Monday, 6 August 2012


'Meditation does, as it were, open the door between the head and the heart.'
Richard Baxter in Graham Beynon, Emotions, p.100.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


' in the Bible isn't an emotion we happen to end up feeling; it is a decision we take to focus our affections and loyalty. Loving God is a decision to set our hearts on him, value him and so live for him. But that doesn't means it's emptied of feeling. It's a decision to value God, which involves feeling a certain way towards him.'
Graham Beyon, Emotions, p.70.


'He loves what he should hate and hates what he should love; rejoices in what he ought to mourn for, and mourns for what he should rejoice in; glories in his shame, and is ashamed of his glory; abhors what he should desire, and desires what he should abhor.'
Thomas Boston in Graham Beynon, Emotions: living life in colour, p.51.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


'Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace that is yours.'
Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, p.201.