September 3, 2007

John Flavel (1630–1691) on Christ Knocking: Chapter 2

"HAVING pondered Christ's solemn preface to his earnest suit, the next thing which comes under our consideration, is the person soliciting and pleading for admission into the hearts of sinners, which is Christ himself."
"Yet here he saith, "Behold, I stand;" not my messengers and ministers only, but I by my spiritual presence among you; I your sovereign Lord, and owner, who have all right and authority by creation and redemption to possess and dispose of your souls; it is I that stand at the door and knock, I by my Spirit, soliciting and moving by the ministry of men. You see none but men; but believe it, I am really and truly, though spiritually and invisibly, present in all those administrations: all those knocks, motions, and solicitations, are truly mine; they are my acts, and I own them, and so I would have you to conceive and apprehend them." Ibid., 27.

"Satan is a jealous prince, and will raise all manner of outcries and opposition against those heavenly heralds who come to proclaim a new prince in his dominions, and withdraw his miserable subjects from their cursed allegiance to him. What is it to preach the gospel, saith Luther, but to drive the fury of the world upon the head of the preacher? But this would be easily supportable, did our work but prosper upon the hearts of our hearers. But this, alas, is the killing consideration of all; we know the worth of souls, and how great a service it is to save them from death. James 5 20. We also know the terrors of the Lord, which excite our utmost endeavors to persuade men. 2 Cor. 5:11. We feel the compassions of Christ stirring within us, which makes us long after their salvation. Phil. 1:8. We preach, we pray, yea, we travail again, as it were, in birth until Christ be formed in them. Gal. 4:19. And when we have done all, we find their hearts as iron and brass. Jer. 6:28. We mourn in secret when we cannot prevail, and often our hands hang down with discouragement, and we are ready to say with the prophet, "I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name." Jer. 20:9. But here is our relief, under all discouragements : the work is Christ's, the power is his, he is with us, and we are workers together with him." Ibid., 38–39.
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