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John Flavel.

Christ knocking at the door of sinners' hearts; or, A solemn entreaty to receive the Saviour and His Gospel in this the day of mercy online

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REESE LIBRARY

OF THK

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Received.



Affessions Ifr..ajL&jL Shelf No.....



CHEIST



KNOCKING AT THE DOOR



OF



SINNERS' HEARTS;



OR,



A SOLEMN ENTREATY TO RECEIVE THE SAVIOUR AND HIS GOSPEL



THIS THE DAY OF MERCY



LAYEL



UNIVERSITY




PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,

150 NASSAU-STREET, NEW YORK.




PREFATORY NOTICE



THE following is a revised edition of an admirable treatise
by the author of " The Fountain of Life" and '-'The Method of
Grace."

It appeared originally under the title of " England's Duty ;"
and consisted of twelve sermons, preached, under the rich effu-
sions of the Spirit, to the author's congregation, in the years
1688-9, about two years before his death, on the restoration of
religious freedom, through the revolution that virtually annulled
the Act of Uniformity, by which the author for twenty-five years
had been restrained from the free and public exercise of his
ministry.

In this edition the treatise has been arranged in the form of
chapters, and while considerable liberty has been taken with the
language, in changing obscure phraseology, substituting modern
for obsolete words, and omitting repetitious passages, the spirit
of the writer and his views of Christian doctrine have been care-
fully preserved, and every scriptural quotation has been verified.
A new title has likewise been adopted, more significant of the
subject-matter of the work. It is believed, that in its present
form, it will be esteemed a worthy companion to those already
named, and, under the divine blessing, add greatly to the useful-
ness of the estimable author.



CONTENTS.



From the Author's Epistle to the Reader,



CHAPTER I.

THE OFFERS OF MERCY RECORDED AND WITNESSED

FOR THE JUDGMENT-DAY.

" Behold, I stand at the door and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open
the door, I -will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Rev. 3:20 .......................................... ' ......... 9

CHAPTER II.

THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN HIS ORDINANCES.
"Behold,/ stand at the door and knock," ............................ 27

CHAPTER III.

THE HEART BARRED AGAINST CHRIST.
** Behold, I stand at the door and knock," ......................... 43

CHAPTER IV.

CHRIST'S PATIENCE IN WAITING UPON OBSTINATE

SINNERS.
" Behold, I stand at the door and knock, ............................ 73

CHAPTER V.

EVERY CONVICTION OF CONSCIENCE AND MOTION OF

THE SPIRIT A KNO'CK FROM CHRIST.
" Behold, I stand at the door and TcnocJc^ ............................ 107

CHAPTER VI.

CHRIST'S EARNEST ENTREATY FOR UNION AND COM-

MUNION WITH SINNERS.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock" ......................... 141

CHAPTER VII.

CHRIST REJECTS NONE WHO OPEN TO HIM.
"If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him," 181



6 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VIII.

NONE RECEIVE CHRIST UNTIL HIS SPIRITUAL QUICK-
ENING VOICE IS HEARD.
" If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him," 216

. CHAPTER IX.

THE OPENING OF THE HEART TO CHRIST BY FAITH

THE GREAT DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL.
" If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him," 248

CHAPTER X.

CHRIST BRINGS GREAT BLESSINGS TO THE SOUL THAT

OPENS TO HIM.

u If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and
will siip with him, and he with me" 271

CHAPTER XI.

COMMUNION BETWEEN CHRIST AND BELIEVERS ON

EARTH.
Li I will come in to him, and will sup with /tini, and he with me" 304

CHAPTER XII.

COMMUNION BETWEEN CHRIST AND BELIEVERS ON

EARTH CONTINUED .

tt I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" 324

CHAPTER XIII.

THE TRUTH HELD IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.
B The wrath of (rod is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and un-
righteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Rom.
1:18, 349

CHAPTER XIV.

THE TRUTH HELD IN UNRIGHTEOUSNE SS CONTINUED.
u The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and un-
righteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Rom.
1:18, 376



FROM THE

AUTHOR'S EPISTLE TO THE READER.



CANDID READER The following discourse comes to thy hand
in the native plainness in which it was preached. I was con-
scientiously unwilling to alter it, because I found by experi-
ence the Lord had blessed and prospered it in that dress, far
beyond any other composures on which I had bestowed more
pains. Let it not be censured as vanity or ostentation, that I
here acknowledge the goodness of God in leading me to, and
blessing my poor labors on this subject. Who and what am I,
that I should be continued and again employed in the Lord's
harvest, and that with success and encouragement, when so
many of my brethren, with much richer gifts and graces, have
in my time been called out of the vineyard, and are now silent
in the grave. It is true, they enjoy what I do not; and it is as
true, I am capable of doing some service for God which they
are not. In preaching these sermons, I had many occasions to
reflect upon the sense of that scripture, " The ploughman shall
overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth
seed." Amos 9:13. Sowing and reaping times trod so close
upon each other, that, in all humility I speak it to the praise of
God, it was the busiest and most blessed time I ever saw since I
first preached the gospel.

We have now a day of special mercy : there is a wide door
of religious opportunity opened to us. that it may prove an
effectual door. It is wonderful, that after all our sinful provoca-
tions this sweet voice is still heard, " Behold, I stand at the door
and knock." Our mercies and liberties are obtained for us by
our potent Advocate in the heavens : if we bring forth fruit, well;
if not, the axe lieth at the root of the tree. Let us not feel
secure. Jerusalem was the city of the great King; the seat of



8 EPISTLE TO THE READER.

his worship and the symbols of his presence were fixed there ; it
was the joy of the whole earth, the house of prayer for all na-
tions ; thither the tribes went up to worship, the tribes of the
Lord unto the testimony of Israel. For there were set thrones
of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Psa. 122 : 4, 5.
These privileges she enjoyed through the succession of many
ages, and she had remained the glory of all nations to this day,
had she known and improved in that day the things that belong-
ed to her peace ; but her people neglected their season, rejected
their mercies, and miserably perished in their sins : for there ever
was and will be found to be an inseparable connection between
the final rejection of Christ, and the destruction of the rejecters,
Matt. 22 : 5-7, the contemplation of which drew compassionate
tears from the Redeemer's eyes, when he beheld it in his descent
from the mount of Olives. Luke 19 : 41, 42.

As to this treatise, thou wilt find it a persuasive to open thy
heart to Christ. Thy soul, reader, is a magnificent structure
built by Christ ; such stately rooms as thy understanding, will,
conscience, and affections, are too good for any other to inhabit.
If thou art in thy unregenerate state, he solemnly demands in
this treatise admission into the soul he made, by the consent of
the will; which, if thou refuse to give him, then witness is taken
that Christ once more demanded entrance into thy soul, which
he made, and was denied it. If thou hast opened thy heart to
him, thou wilt, I hope, meet somewhat in this treatise that will
clear thy evidences and cheer thy heart. Pray, read, ponder,
and apply. I am

Thine and the church's servant,

JOHN FLAVEL.



UNIVERSITY




CHRIST
KNOCKING AT THE DOOK



CHAPTER I.

THE OFFERS OF MERCY RECORDED AND WIT-
NESSED FOR THE JUDGMENT-DAY.

"BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND . KNOCK : IF ANY MAN
HEAR MY VOICE, AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL COME IN TO HIM,
AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME." REV. 3 : 20.

THIS day hath our compassionate Redeemer opened unto
us a door of liberty liberty to us to preach, and liberty for
you to hear the glad tidings of the gospel. This is a day
few looked for ; how often have I said in the years that are
past, God hath no more work for me to do, and I shall have
no more strength and opportunities to work for God. And
how often have you said in your hearts, we have sinned our
ministers out of their pulpits, and our eyes shall no more
behold these our teachers. But lo, beyond the thoughts of
most hearts, a wide and, I hope, an effectual door is now
opened in the midst of us. that it may be to us as the
valley of Achor was to Israel, "for a door of hope," Hosea
2:15; not only making the troubles they met with in that
valley an inlet to their mercies, as ours have been to us, but
giving them that valley as a pledge of greater mercies intend
ed for them. Upon the first appearance of this mercy, my
thoughts were how to make the most fruitful improvement
of it among you, lest we should sin ourselves back again into
bondage.



10 CHRIST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

In the contemplation of this matter, the Lord directed
me to this scripture, wherein the same hand that opened to
you the door of liberty, knocks importunately at the doors of
your hearts for entrance into them, and for union and com-
munion with them. It will be sad indeed if he who hath
let you into all these mercies, should himself be shut out of
your hearts ; but if the Lord help you to open your hearts
now to Christ, I doubt not this door of liberty will be kept
open to you, how many soever the adversaries be that will
do their utmost to shut it up. Ezek. 39 : 29. The mercies
you enjoy this day are the fruits of Christ's intercession with
the Father for one trial more : if we bring forth fruit, well ;
if not, the axe lieth at the root of the tree. Under this con-
sideration I desire to speak, and even so the Lord help you
to hear what shall be spoken from this precious scripture,
" BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK : IF ANY MAN

HEAU MY VOICE AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL COME IN TO HDI,
AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME."

These words are a branch of that excellent epistle dicta-
ted by Christ, and sent by his servant John to the church of
Laodicea, the most formal and degenerate of all the seven
churches; yet the great Physician will try his skill upon
them, both by the rebukes of the rod and by the persua-
sive power of the word, "Behold, I stand at the door and
knock," etc.

This text is Christ's wooing voice, full of heavenly rhet-
oric to win and gain the hearts of sinners to himself; wherein
we have these two general parts.

1. Christ's suit for a sinner's heart.

2. The powerful arguments enforcing his suit.

1. Christ's suit for a sinner's heart, in which is, (1,)
llie solemn preface, ushering it in, " Beliold" The preface
is exceedingly solemn ; for besides the common use of this
word beliold in other places, to excite attention or put
weight into an affirmation, it stands here, as a judicious



OFFERS OF MERCY. 11

expositor says, as a term of notification or public record,
wherein Christ takes witnesses of the most gracious oiler lie
was now about to make to their souls, and will have it stand
for a perpetual memorial of this offer, as a testimony for or
against their souls to all eternity, to cut off all excuses and
pretences for time to come.

(2.) The suitor, Christ himself, " /stand ;" I who have
a right of sovereignty over you ; I who have shed my inval-
uable blood to purchase you, and might justly condemn you
upon the first denial or demur, "behold, I stand:" this is
the suitor.

(3.) His posture and. action, "I stand at the door and
knock :" the word is fitly translated, " I stand," yet so as that
it notes a continual action. I have stood, and do still stand
with unwearied patience ; I once stood personally and bodily
among you in the days of my flesh, and I still stand spirit
ually and representatively in my ambassadors at the door,
that is, the mind and conscience, the faculties and powers
which are introductory to the whole soul.

The word " door " is here properly put to signify those
introductory faculties of the soul, which are of like use to it,
as the door is to the house. This is the Redeemer's posture,
his action is knocking, that is, his powerful and gracious
attempts to open the heart to give him admission. The
word "knock" signifies a strong and powerful knock; he
stands patiently, and knocks powerfully by the word out-
wardly, by the convictions, motions, impulses, and strivings
of his Spirit inwardly.

(4.) The design and end of the suit; it is for "open-
ing" to him, that is, consenting, receiving, and heartily
accepting him by faith. The Lord opened the heart of
Lydia, Acts 16 : 14 ; that is, persuaded her soul to believe ;
implying that the heart by nature is strongly barred and
locked up against Christ, and that nothing but a power from
him can open it.



12 CHRIST KNOCKING- AT THE DOOR.

2. The powerful arguments and motives used by Christ
to obtain his suit in the sinner's heart ; and they are drawn
from two inestimable benefits which accrue to the opening
or believing soul.

(1.) Union: "I will come in to him;" that is, I will
unite myself with the opening, believing soul; he shall be
mystically one with me, and I with him.

(2.) Communion: " I will sup with him, and he with
me ;" that is, I will feast the believing soul with the delica-
cies of heaven ; such comforts, joys, and pleasures as none
but believers are capable of.

And, to set home all, these special benefits are proposed
by Christ to all sorts of sinners, great and small, old and
young : " If any man hear my voice, and open the door :"
tha't so no soul might be discouraged from believing by the
greatness or multitude of "his sins, but the vilest of sinners
may see free grace triumphing over all their unworthiness,
on their consent to take Christ according to the gracious
offers of the gospel.

The words thus opened afford many great and useful
points of doctrine, comprehending in them the very substance
of the gospel. The first which arises from the solemn and
remarkable preface, " BEHOLD," will be this:

That every offer of Christ to the souls of sinners is
recorded and witnessed with respect to the day of account
and reckoning.

Here we shall inquire into three things : Who are God's
witnesses to all the offers of the gospel ; what they witness
to ; and why God records every offer of Christ, and takes a
witness thereof.

I. WHO ARE GOD'S WITNESSES to all the tenders and
offers made of Christ by the gospel ? and they will be found
to be more than a strict legal number ; for,

1 . His ministers, by whom he makes them, are all wit-



OFFERS OF MERCY. 13

nesses as well as officers of Christ to the people. "I have
appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thce a minister
and a witness." Acts 26 : 16. Here you see ministers have
a double office, to propose and offer Christ, and then to bear
witness for or against those to whom he is thus offered ; they
are expressly called God's witnesses. Rev. 11 : 7. Their
labors witness, their sufferings witness, their solemn appeals,
to God witness, yea, the very dust of their feet shaken off
against the refusers of Christ, turns to a testimony against
them. Mark 6 : 11. Every sigh, every drop of sweat,
much more of blood, are placed in God's book along with all
their sermons and prayers, and will be produced and read in
the great day against all the refusers and despisers of Christ.

2. The gospel itself, which is preached to you, is a tes-
timony or witness for God against every one who rejects it.
" He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath
one that judgeth him ; the word that I have spoken, the
same shall judge him in the last day." John 12 : 48. And
this is the sense of Christ's word, Matt. 24 : 14, " And this
gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world,
for a witness unto all nations ; and then shall the end
come." Ah, what a solemn record is here ; every sermon
you hear, yea, every reproof, persuasion, and conviction is a
witness for God to condemn every soul in judgment that
complies not immediately with the calls of the gospel : so
many sermons, so many witnesses.

3. Every man's conscience is a witness for God, that
he has a fair offer made him ; the very consciences of the
heathen who never saw a Bible, who had no other preachers
but the sun. moon, and stars and other works of nature ;
yet of them the apostle says, that they " show the work of
the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bear-
ing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing
or else excusing one another." Rom. 2 : 15. Certainly if
such vigor and activity was put into the consciences of



14 CHRIST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

heathen, who could only read the will of God by the dim
moonlight of natural reason, how much more vigorous and
active will conscience be in its accusing office against all
who live under the bright beams of gospel light. Their
consciences will be swift witnesses, and will ring sad peals
in their ears another day. They " shall know that there
hath been a prophet among them." Ezek. 2 : 5. This
single witness is instead of a thousand other witnesses for
God.

4. The examples of all ivlw believe and obey the gospel,
are so many witnesses for God against the despisers and neg-
lecters of the great salvation. Every mourning, trembling
soul among you is a witness against all the dead-hearted, un-
believing, disobedient ones that sit with them under the same
ordinances. Hence it is said, " Do ye not know that the saints
shall judge the world ?" 1 Cor. 6 : 2. They shall be asses-
sors with Christ in the great day, and condemn the world by
their examples, as Noah did the old world. Thus, " John
came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed
him not : but the publicans and the harlots believed him ;
and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that
ye might believe him." Matt. 21 : 32. As if he had said,
"What shift do you make to quiet your consciences and stifle
your convictions, when you see publicans, the worst of men,
and harlots, the worst of women, repenting, believing, and
hungering after Christ ; their examples shall be your judges.
These are God's witnesses.

II. Next let us consider what is the OBJECT MATTER
unto which they give their testimony, and that will be found
twofold, according to the twofold effect the gospel has upon
them who hear it : of both which the apostle gives this ac-
count, " To the one we are the savor of death unto death ;
and to the other the savor of life unto life." 2 Cor. 2:16.
Accordingly a double record is made.

1 . Of the obedience and faith of some, which record



OFFERS OF MERCY. 15

will be produced to their joy and comfort in the day of the
Lord ; ''when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and
to be admired in all them that believe (because our testi-
mony among you was believed) in that day." 2 Thess.
1 : 10. Ministers are instruments of espousing souls to
Christ, and witnesses to those espousals between him and
them. 2 Cor. 11:2. Both these offices are exceedingly
grateful and pleasant to every faithful minister.

2. A record is made, and witness taken of all the re-
fusals, disobcdiettce, ami slightings of Christ by others.
Thus Moses will be the accuser of the Jews. " Do not think
that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that
accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust." John 5 : 45.
This is the saddest part of a minister's work ; the fore-
thoughts of it are more afflictive than all our labors and
sufferings. There is a threefold record made in this case.

(1.) Of the time men have enjoyed under the means of
salvation, how many years they have sat barren and cold-
hearted under the labors of God's faithful ministers. " Be-
hold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree,
and find none." Luke 13 : 7. "Behold," the same term
of notification with that in the text, applied to the time of
God's patience towards them. And again, "From the
thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah,
even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the
word of the Lord hath come unto me, and I have spoken
unto you, rising early and speaking ; but ye have not heark-
ened." Jer. 25 : 3. consider, all the years and days you
have spent under the gospel are upon your doomsday-book.

(2.) Records are also made of all the instruments God
has employed for the conversion and salvation of your souls.
So many ministers, whether fixed or transient, as have spent
their labors upon you, are upon the book of your account.
" The Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets,
rising early and sending them ; but ye have not hearkened



16 CHRIST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR.

nor inclined your ear to hear." Jer. 25 : 4. They have
wasted their health, dropped their compassionate tears, and
burnt down one after another like candles, to direct you to
Christ and salvation, but all in vain.

(3.) Every call, persuasion, and argument used by them
to espouse you to Christ, is likewise upon the book of account.
" Because I have called, and ye refused ; I have stretched
out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at
naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof."
Prov. 1 : 24, 25. These calls and counsels are of too great
value with God, though of none with you, to be lost and left
out of your account.

III. We shall inquire into THE GROUNDS AND REASONS of
these judicial procedures of God : why he will have every
man's obedience and disobedience registered and witnessed
for or against him, under gospel administrations ; and there
are two weighty reasons thereof.

1 . That wherever the end of the gospel is attained in
the conversion of a soul, that soul, and all who were instru-
mentally employed about the salvation of it, may have the
proper reward and comfort in the great day. "As also
ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing,
even as ye also are "ours in the day of the Lord Jesus." 2
Cor. 1 : 14. This will be matter of joy unspeakable, both
to you that shall receive, and to them that shall give such
a comfortable testimony for you. the joyful congratula-
tions of that day between laborious, faithful ministers, and
their believing, obedient hearers. " Lord, this was the bless-
ed instrument of my happy illumination and conversion ;
though I might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet
not many fathers ; for by the blessing of thy Spirit on this
man's ministry, my soul was begotten to Christ." And, on
the other side, " Lord, these are the souls for whom I trav-
ailed, as in birth, until Christ was formed in them." It is
a glorious thing to say, as the prophet, " Here am I, and the



OFFERS OF MERCY. 17

children God hath given me." Nay, those who were but
collaterally useful to help on the work of God begun by
others, must not lose their reward in that day. " And he
that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life
eternal, that both he that spweth and he that reapeth may
rejoice together." John 4 : 36.

2. Records are now made, and witness taken, that there-
by the judicial sentence of Jesus Christ in the last day
may be made dear to all the world ; that every mouth may
be stopped, and no plea left in the mouth of any condemned
sinner. For Christ in that day cometh "to convince all that
are ungodly," Jude 15 ; to convince by demonstration, that
all that are Christless now may be found speechless then.
Matt. 22 : 12. Hence it is said, " The ungodly shall not
stand in the judgment." Psalm 1 : 5. And no wonder,
\vheu so many full testimonies and unexceptionable wit-
nesses shall come point blank against them : the ministers
that preached, the word they preached, their own conscien-
ces, and the example of all believers will be produced against
them.

INFERENCE 1. The undoubted certainty of a day of
judgment is hence evinced. To what purpose else are
records made, and witness taken, but with respect to an
audit-day ? This is a truth sealed on the conscience of the
very heathen ; their consciences bear witness. Rom. 2:15.
But in vain are all these records made, unless there be a day
to produce and plead them ; and of that day the prophet
Daniel speaks, " The judgment was set, and the books were
opened." Daniel 7:10. And again, "I saw the dead,
small and great, stand before God ; and the books were
opened ; and another book was opened, which is the book of
life ; and the dead were judged out of those things which



Online LibraryJohn FlavelChrist knocking at the door of sinners' hearts; or, A solemn entreaty to receive the Saviour and His Gospel in this the day of mercy → online text (page 1 of 32)