A Flavour of Flavel

5 02 2008

Post No.10 on the Timmy Brister Challenge.

As February dawns, the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge moves on from Richard Sibbes to John Flavel, and his majestic ‘Mystery of Providence‘. As with ‘The Bruised Reed’, this is a work of tremendous theological importance, and pastoral application, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the treats locked within Flavel. This month’s blog series on the Timmy Brister challenge will go under the title of ‘The Proof of Providence’.

But down to some biographical details first…

Name: John Flavel (or Flavell)

Year of Birth: 1628

Place of Birth: Bromsgrove, Worscestershire

Father’s Occupation: Minister (died in prison of the plague)

Education: Home-schooled (!) and studied at University College, Oxford

Ministry Experience:
1656: Accepted call as minister in Dartmouth
1662: ejected from his pulpit for non-conformity
1665: moved to Slapton and ministered after the Five Mile Act
1672: returned to Dartmouth for a year as congregationalist
1673: King’s indulgence revoked, preached secretly
1685: returned to Dartmouth and ministered from his home

Marital Status:
1655: married Joan Randall (died in childbirth)
1656: married Elizabeth Stapell (died around 1672/3)
1673: married Ann Downe (died 1684)

Died: 6th June 1691

Fascinating Flavel Facts:
While preaching covertly after his ejection in 1662, Flavel often found himself in strange and dangerous situations. On one occasion he ‘disguised himself as a woman on horseback in order to reach a secret meeting place where he preached and administered baptism. At another time, when pursued by authorities, he plunged his horse into the sea and managed to escape arrest by swimming through a rocky area to reach Slapton Sands’ [Meet the Puritans, p.247].

Testimonial from Others:
‘That person must have a very soft head, or a very hard heart, or both, that could sit under his ministry unaffected’ – Erasmus Middleton




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