John Flavel & The Spirit of Remembrance (2)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” ~ John 14:26


In going through the book, The Mystery of Providence by the puritan John Flavel (1627–1691), I found an astonishing story recounted by Michael Boland in the Publishers’ Introduction. Here is an excerpt of the story from page 11:

“In addition to the incidents recorded in his own writings, there are some remarkable examples of the effects of Flavel’s ministry.  Luke Short was a farmer in New England who attained his hundredth year in exceptional vigour though without having sought peace with God.  One day as he sat in his fields reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth as a boy before he sailed to America.  The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ – eighty-five years after hearing John Flavel preach.

~ What is amazing is that a person can hear a sermon when he is a 15 year old teen-ager, then live a sinful Christless life for 85 years and then when he is a centenarian, i.e. a 100 year old person – then remember the sermon and become converted! That is remarkable!

~ This should be an encouragement to sharing our faith with others. Even if they dismiss us, we simply have no idea what will eventually become of them. They may well convert although we may never come to know of it.

You can read more about Flavel, including the Luke Short account here at this bio. In the bio, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) is quoted on the story and M’Cheyne states that the man continued to live to the age of 116(!) and he showed “every evidence of being born again”.

I’ll post M’Cheyne’s blurb here:

When he was a hundred years old, he was able to work on his farm, and his mind was not at all impaired. He had lived all this time in carelessness and sin; he was a sinner a hundred years old, and ready to die accursed. One day, as he sat in his field, he busied himself in reflecting on his past life. He thought of the days of his youth. His memory fixed on Mr. Flavel’s sermon, a considerable part of which he remembered. The earnestness of the minister, the truths spoken, the effect on the people, all came fresh to his mind. He felt that he had not loved the Lord Jesus; he feared the dreadful anathema; he was deeply convicted of sin, was brought to the blood of sprinkling. He lived to his one hundredth and sixteenth year, giving every evidence of being born again.”

~ From Robert Murray M‘Cheyne, The Works of the Late Rev. Robert Murray M‘Cheyne. Complete in Two Volumes (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 2:221–22.