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The Author of this invaluable work was the eldest son of an eminently pious clergyman, the Rev. Richard Flavel; and was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England, in or near 1630. He was educated at University College, Oxford; labored in the ministry six years at Deptford, and was then called, in 1656, to Dartmouth, a port in the south of England, where, after thirty-five years of faithful service in days of peculiar trial, he died suddenly and with great composure, June 26, 1691, aged 61.
By the Act of Uniformity, August 24, 1662, Mr. Flavel and two thousand clergymen who could not in conscience subscribe, were expelled from their benefices. He continued, however, to labor for the good of his people, amid persecutions, obstacles, and interruptions; preaching, as opportunity could be gained, in private dwellings, in obscure neighborhoods, or the seclusion of the forest, through a period of twenty-five years, until 1687, when the royal license was granted to worship God without molestation, and he resumed his public labors in a new and commodious church erected by his affectionate people; delivering, at that time, his series of discourses from Rev. 3: 20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
Most of his works, comprising six octavo volumes, which breathe a strain of tender piety, and have a spiritual unction perhaps unparalleled, were composed during this period of persecution.
"The Fountain of Life," published in 1671, he says, was written in a time of great distractions;" first more at large as delivered to such audiences as could be assembled, and then condensed, that he might thus "ease the reader both in his pains and his purse." His dedication of this work to his own people contains the following delightful passages:
"I cannot but recount the goodness of our God, yea the riches of his goodness:
"Who freely gave Jesus Christ out of his own bosom for us; and hath not withheld his Spirit, ordinances, and ministers, to reveal and apply him to us:
"Who engaged my heart upon this transcendent subject, in the course of my ministry among you; a subject which angels study and admire, as well as we:
"Who so signally protected and overshadowed our assembly in those days of trouble wherein these truths were delivered to you, when you sat under his shadow with great delight, and his banner over you was love:
"Who made these meditations of Christ a strong support and sweet relief to mine,* now with Christ, and no less to me, under the greatest trials that ever befel me in this world:
"Who hath not left himself without witness among us, blessing my labors to the conversion and edification of many.
"In testimony of a thankful heart for these invaluable mercies, I humbly and cheerfully rear this pillar of remembrance, inscribing it with, EBENEZER, and JEHOVAH-JIREH,'
* Probably his departed wife.