Choice excerpts from John
Flavel's "The Fountain of Life"

When most lame and defective in themselves

Happy were it, if puzzled and perplexed Christians would
turn their eyes from the defects that are in their obedience,
to the fullness and completeness of Christ's obedience; and
see themselves complete in Him, when most lame and
defective in themselves


By the hand of His own Father!

To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God without
mixture—to the very torments of hell was Christ
delivered—and that by the hand of His own
Surely then, that love is fathomless,
which made the Father of mercies deliver His
only Son to such miseries for us sinners!


The most precious thing in heaven or earth

In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the
richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest
worth, and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ
is! Ten thousand thousand worlds—as many worlds as
angels can number, would not outweigh Christ's love,
excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What
an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One—is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden
of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all smells, all colors, all
tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness into one; O
what a lovely and excellent thing would that be!

And yet it should be less to that loveliest and dearest well
beloved Christ—than one drop of rain to all the seas, rivers,
lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most
precious thing in heaven or earth
, upon poor sinners;
and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was—what
kind of love is this!

Stupefying, damning, intoxicating!

Imagine the self-revenges, the self-torments, which
the damned suffer for their folly; and what a value
they would set upon one offer of salvation.

It is astonishing, that you should despise a mercy in
which your own souls are so dearly, so deeply, so
everlastingly concerned, as they are in this gift of God.

Oh, what a monster are you, to cast your soul away thus!

What! will you slight your own souls? Don't you care
whether they are saved, or whether they are damned?
Have you imagined a tolerable hell? Is it easy to perish?
Have you not only turned God's enemies, but your own
too? Oh see what monsters, sin can turn people into!

Oh the stupefying, damning, intoxicating power of sin!

Christ is so in love with holiness
, that at
the price of His blood, He will buy it for us!

See the greatness and dreadfulness of that
breach which sin made between God and us.
No less a sacrifice than Christ himself must
make atonement. Judge of the greatness of
the wound which sin made, by the magnitude
of the remedy which Christ made.

All our repentance, could we shed as many tears
for sin, as there have fallen drops of rain since
the creation, could not have atoned for our sin!


A double spot

"A lamb without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 1:19

Every other man has a double spot on him:
  the heart-spot, and the life-spot;
  the spot of original sin, and the spots of actual sin.

But Christ was without either—His life was spotless
and pure. "He did no iniquity." And though tempted
to sin, yet He was never defiled in heart or practice.

Yours! Mine!

Lord, the condemnation was Yours, that the justification might be mine!

The agony was Yours, that the victory might be mine!

The pain was Yours, and the ease mine!

The stripes were Yours, and the healing balm issuing from them mine!

The vinegar and gall were Yours, that the honey and sweet might be mine!

The curse was Yours, that the blessing might be mine!

The crown of thorns was Yours, that the crown of glory might be mine!

The death was Yours, the life purchased by it mine!

You paid the price, that I might enjoy the inheritance!


O wretched idol

O that dreadful house-idolmyself!

We have need to be redeemed from ourselves,
as much as from the devil and the world!

I would like to make a sweet bargain, and shuffle
out self, and substitute Christ my Lord in place of
myself! Not I, but Christ! Not my will, but Christ's!
Not my ease, not my lusts, not my home—but Christ,

O wretched idol, myself! When shall I see you
wholly cast out, and Christ wholly put in your place?


The knife that stabbed Christ to the heart!

"They will look at Me, whom they have pierced.
 Then they will mourn for Him as one mourns for
 an only son, and they will cry bitterly for Him as
 one cries for a firstborn son." Zechariah 12:10

Do you complain of the hardness of your hearts, and
lack of love to Christ? Behold Him dying for your sins!
Such a sight, (if any in the world will do it) will melt
your hard hearts.

It is reported of Johannes Milieus, that he was never
observed to speak of Christ and His sufferings, but
his eyes would drop tears.

Are you too little touched and unaffected with the evil of
sin? Look at the cross of Christ, and see what efficacy there
is in it to make sin forever bitter as death to your soul.

Suppose your own father had been stabbed to the heart
with a certain knife, and his blood were still upon it. Would
you delight to see, or endure to use that knife any more?

Sin is the knife that stabbed Christ to the heart!

Sin shed his blood!

If God should damn you for all eternity

If the death of Christ was that which satisfied God
for all the sins of the elect, then certainly there is
an infinite evil in sin, since it cannot be expiated
but by an infinite satisfaction. Fools make a mock
at sin, and there are but few people who are duly
sensible of, and affected with—the evil of sin.

If God should damn you for all eternity, your
eternal sufferings could not pay for the evil that is in
one vain thought! Perhaps you think that this is harsh
and severe—that God should hold His creatures under
everlasting sufferings for sin. But when you have well
considered, that the One against whom you sin, is the
infinite blessed God; and that sin is an infinite evil
committed against Him; and when you consider how
God dealt with the angels that fell, for one sin—you
will alter your minds about it.

O the depth of the evil of sin! If ever you will see how
dreadful and horrid an evil, sin is, you must measure it
either by the infinite holiness and excellency of God, who
is wronged by it; or by the infinite sufferings of Christ,
who died to pay its penalty; and then you will have
deeper apprehensions of the evil of sin.


Its ensnaring beauty

"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,
 and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mat. 20:28

Jesus did not come to amass earthly treasures, but to
bestow heavenly ones. His great and heavenly soul
neglected and despised those things, that too many
of His own people too much admire and live for. He
spent not an anxious thought about those things that
eat up thousands and ten thousands of our thoughts.

Indeed He came to be humbled, and to teach men
by His example the vanity of this world, and pour
contempt upon its ensnaring beauty.


Cain's club!

The greatest innocence and piety cannot exempt from
persecution and injury. Who more innocent than Christ?
And who more persecuted? The world is the world still.
"I have given them your word, and the world has hated
them." The world lies in wait as a thief for those who
carry this treasure. Persecution follows piety—as the
shadow does the body. "All who will live godly in Christ
Jesus, must suffer persecution." Whoever resolves to
live holy—must never expect to live quietly.

All who will live godly, manifest holiness in their lives, will
gall the consciences of the ungodly. Holiness enrages them,
for there is an enmity and antipathy between them! This
enmity runs in the blood; and it is transmitted with it from
generation to generation. "Just as at that time he who was
born according to the flesh, persecuted him who was born
according to the Spirit, so also it is now." So it was, and so
still it is. "Cain's club is still carried up and down crimsoned
with the blood of Abel!"

O that your spirits, as well as your conditions, may better
harmonize with Christ. He suffered meekly, quietly, and
self-denyingly. Be like Him. Let it not be said of you, as
it is of the hypocrite—that he is like flint, which seems
cold; but if you strike him, he is all fiery.

To do well, and suffer ill, is Christlike.


Holy Father, keep them in your name.

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in
 the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father,
 keep them in your name.
" (John 17:11)

The world is a sinful, infecting and disturbing place; it
lies in wickedness. It is a hard thing for such poor, weak,
imperfect creatures to escape the pollutions of it. And if
they do, yet they cannot escape the troubles, persecutions,
and strong oppositions of it. Seeing therefore I must leave
Your own dear children, as well as Mine, in the midst of a
sinful, troublesome, dangerous world, where they can neither
move backward nor forward, without danger of sin or ruin;
O, since the case stands so, look after them, provide for
them, and take special care of them all. Holy Father,
consider who they are—and where I leave them.

They are Your children—left in a strange country.

They are Your soldiers—in the enemies grounds.

They are Your sheep—in the midst of wolves.

They are Your precious treasure—among thieves.

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in
 the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father,
 keep them in your name.
" (John 17:11)


Cursed sin!

O how inflexible and severe is the justice of God!
What, no abatement? no sparing mercy? No, not
even to His own Son!

Cultivate a deep indignation against sin.

Oh cursed sin! It was you who slew my dear Lord!
For your sake He underwent all this! If your vileness
had not been so great, His sufferings had not been
so many. Cursed sin! You were the knife which
stabbed Him! You the sword which pierced Him!


Empty titles

"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to
 someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the
 one you obey—either of sin, which leads to death,
 or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?"
    (Romans 6:16)

It is but a mockery to give Christ the empty titles
of 'Lord' and 'King'—while you give your real service
to sin and Satan. What is this but to be like the Jews
—to bow the knee to Him, and say, "Hail master!" and
crucify him? Here is honey in the tongue—and poison
in the heart!


O what a melting consideration is this! That . . .
  out of His agony, comes our victory;
  out of His condemnation, comes our justification;
  out of His pain, comes our ease;
  out of His stripes, comes our healing;
  out of His gall and vinegar, comes our honey;
  out of His curse, comes our blessing;
  out of His crown of thorns, comes our crown of glory;
  out of His death, comes our life!


Great force and efficacy

The believing meditation of what Christ suffered
for us, is of great force and efficacy to melt
and break the heart.

"They will look at Me, whom they have pierced.
 Then they will mourn for Him as one mourns for
 an only son, and they will cry bitterly for Him as
 one cries for a firstborn son." Zechariah 12:10

Ponder seriously here, the spring and motive—it is
the eye of faith that melts and breaks the heart.
The effect of such a sight of Christ—they shall look
and mourn; be in bitterness and sorrow.

True repentance is a drop out of the eye of faith.
The measure or degree of that sorrow, is caused
by a believing view of Christ.


You are the one who has done this!

"I remained speechless. I did not open my mouth
 because You are the one who has done this!"
    (Psalm 39:9)

Look upwards, when tribulations come upon you!
Look to that sovereign Lord, who commissions and
sends them upon you. You know that troubles do
not rise out of the dust, nor spring out of the
ground, but are framed in heaven.

"This is what the Lord says: I'm going to prepare a
disaster and make plans against you." Jer. 18:11.
Troubles and afflictions are of the Lord's framing and
devising, to reduce His wandering people to Himself.

You may observe much of divine wisdom in the choice,
measure, and season of your troubles. Sovereignty, in
electing the instruments of your affliction; in making
them as afflictive as He pleases; and in making them
obedient both to His call, in coming and going, when
He pleases. Now, could you in times of trouble look up
to this sovereign hand, in which your souls, bodies, and
all their comforts and mercies are; how quiet would your
hearts be!

Oh, when we have to do with men, and look no higher, how
do our spirits swell and rise with revenge and impatience!
But if you once come to see that man as a rod in your Father's
hand, you will be quiet. "Be still, and know that I am God."
Consider with whom you have to do; not with your fellow,
but with your God, who can puff you to destruction with
one blast of His mouth; in whose hand you are, as the clay
in the potter's hand.

It is for lack of looking up to God in our troubles, that
we fret, murmur, and despond at the rate we do.

"It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him."
    (1 Samuel 3:18)

Behold your mother!

"Then He said to the disciple—Behold your mother!"
    John 19:27

We now pass to the consideration of the second memorable
and instructive word of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross,
contained in this scripture. Wherein He has left us an excellent
pattern for the discharge of our 'relative duties'. It may be well
said, the gospel makes the best husbands and wives, the best
parents and children, the best masters and servants in the
world; seeing it furnishes them with the most excellent precepts,
and proposes the best patterns.

Here we have the pattern of Jesus Christ presented to all godly
children for their imitation, teaching them how to behave towards
their parents, according to the laws of nature and grace. Christ
was not only subject and obedient to His parents while He lived,
but manifested His tender care even while He hanged in the
torments of death upon the cross. "Then He said to the disciple
Behold your mother!"


Let not your vain heart slight sin!

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"
    (Matthew 27:46)

How horrid a thing is sin! How great is to that evil of
evils, which deserves that all this should be inflicted
and suffered for the expiation of it!

The sufferings of Christ for sin give us the true account,
and fullest representation of its evil. "The law is a bright
glass, wherein we may see the evil of sin; but there is the
red glass of the sufferings of Christ, and in that we may
see more of the evil of sin, than if God should let us down
to hell, and there we should see all the tortures and
torments of the damned. If we would see them how they
lie sweltering under God's wrath there, it were not so
much as the beholding of sin through the red glass of
the sufferings of Christ."

Suppose the bars of the bottomless pit were broken up;
and damned spirits should ascend from thence, and come
up among us, with the chains of darkness rattling at their
heels, and we should hear the groans, and see the ghastly
paleness and trembling of those poor creatures upon whom
the righteous God has impressed His fury and indignation;
if we could hear how their consciences are lashed by the
fearful scourge of guilt, and how they shriek at every lash
the arm of justice gives them.

If we should see and hear all this, it is not so much as what
we may see in this text, where the Son of God, under his
sufferings for it, cries out, "My God, my God, why have You
forsaken Me?"

O then, let not your vain heart slight sin, as if it were
but a small thing! If ever God shows you the 'face of sin' in
this glass, you will say, there is not such another horrid thing
in all the world!

Fools make a mock at sin, but wise men tremble at it.


The best of our duties

"It is finished!" (John 19:30)

Has Christ perfected and completely finished all His work
for us? How sweet a relief is this to against all the defects
and imperfections of all the works which are wrought by us. 
There is nothing finished that we do. All our duties are
imperfect duties; they come off lamely and defectively from
our hands. O there is much sin and vanity in the best of our
. But Jesus Christ has finished all His work, though we
can finish none of ours. And so, even though we are defective,
poor, imperfect creatures
in ourselves, yet we are complete
in Christ. His complete obedience being imputed to us, makes
us complete, and without fault before God.


The kings of the earth are but as little bits of clay!

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot
 be shaken, let us be thankful and worship God in reverence
 and fear in a way that pleases Him. For our God is an
 all-consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28-29)

O with what solemn reverence should we approach Him
in worship! Away with light and low thoughts of Christ!
Away with formal, irreverent, and careless frames in praying,
hearing, receiving; yes, in conferring and speaking of Christ.
Away with all deadness, and drowsiness in duties; for He is
a great King with whom you have to do. A king, to whom the
kings of the earth are but as little bits of clay!
Lo, the
angels cover their faces in His presence.


Has He put you so many times into the furnace?

You have a further advantage to a holy life, by all the
with which God visits you.

By these afflictions, God prevents your straying and wandering.
Others may wander even as far as hell, and God will not spend
a sanctified rod upon them, to reduce or stop them; but says,
"let them alone!" Hosea 4:17. But if you wander out of the way
of holiness, He will clog you with one trouble or other to keep
you within bounds.

Holy Basil was a long time sorely afflicted with an inveterate
headache, he often prayed for the removal of it. At last God
removed it, but in the place of it, he was sorely exercised with
the motions and temptations of lust; which, when he perceived,
he heartily desired his headache again, to prevent a worse evil.

You little know the ends and uses of many of your afflictions.

Are you exercised with bodily weakness? It is a mercy you are
so; and if these pains and infirmities were removed, these clogs
taken off, you may with Basil, wish for them again, to prevent
worse evils.

Are you poor? Why, with that poverty God has clogged your pride!

Are you reproached? With these reproaches God has clogged
your sinful ambition.

Corruptions are prevented by your afflictions. And, is not this
a marvelous help to holiness of life?

By your afflictions, your corruptions are not only clogged, but
purged. By these God dries up and consumes that spring of sin
which defiles your lives. God orders your wants to fill your
wantonness; and makes your poverty poison to your pride.

Afflictions are God's medicines, to purge ill humours out of
your souls. Others have the same afflictions that you have, but
they do not work on them as on you. They are both fire for the
purifying; and water for the cleansing of your souls. Christ's
blood is the only fountain to wash away sin. But, in the virtue
and efficacy of that blood, sanctified afflictions are cleansers
and purifiers too.

A cross without a Christ never made any man better; but with
Christ, saints are much the better for the cross. Has God been
so many days and nights a whitening you, and yet is not the
hue of your conversation altered? Has He put you so many
times into the furnace
, and yet is not the dross separated?
The more afflictions you have been under, the more assistance
you have had for this life of holiness.

By all your troubles, God has been weaning you from the world,
the lusts, loves, and pleasures of it; and drawing out your souls
to a more excellent life and state than this. He often makes you
groan under your burdens. And yet, will you not be weaned from
the lusts, customs, and evils of this world?