|About the Book|
John Flavel was an Oxford-educated Presbyterian clergyman contemporary with John Milton, who lived during one of the most turbulent periods in Englands religious history. His devotional writings were popular well into the 19th century and hisMoreJohn Flavel was an Oxford-educated Presbyterian clergyman contemporary with John Milton, who lived during one of the most turbulent periods in Englands religious history. His devotional writings were popular well into the 19th century and his commentary on the Westminster Confession, written soon after the original Confession was signed, influenced Scottish theologians for decades. Flavels religious beliefs, however, were never separated from their context of persecution and sudden death. His parents died of the plague which they contracted in Newgate prison after being arrested in an illegal religious meeting, and three of John Flavels four wives died before him. Flavel knew suffering, and he wrote to the ordinary people of his day: those tempted by suicide and drunkenness, and concerned with illness, tenancy, death of children and spouses, and the state of the soul. Flavels works echo with a deep sympathy for human weakness in an age of rapid social change, high mortality and religious and political turmoil. This volume reprints two of Flavels most popular works, The Touchstone of Sincerity and A Token for Mourners, as well as the Life of John Flavel, written by an unnamed contemporary soon after Flavels death in 1691. The Touchstone of Sincerity, first published in 1679, addresses those in doubt about the state of their own soul, outlining a touchstone, or criteria by which the reader may do a self-evaluation. Flavel particularly addresses those Christians struggling with depression that comes from an oversensitive conscience which can overwhelm the spiritual person. He encourages a careful self-evaluation tempered with a gentle moderation. A Token for Mourners, first published in 1674 when Flavel was in his mid-30s, responds theologically to the grief that follows the premature death of children and loved ones. Flavels was a world where disease and child mortality rates were high and women often died in childbirth. Widowed by the death of three successive wives, knew his subject. Condemning a stoic denial of sorrow as pagan, Flavel attempts to come to grips, rationally and theologically, with a measure of grief so extensive it threatened to overwhelm ones ability and willingness to live. He speaks to himself and, through himself, to his readers who faced the stark social risk of death with every pregnancy, every child and every friend.