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The Touchstone of Christian Sincerity: or The Trial of True and False Religion Paperback – April 2, 2012
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About the Author
1627-1691, Puritan Preacher and Minister of the Gospel at Dartmouth, England.
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Not only did 'The Puritans' preach and write much more frequently on distinguishing true faith from spurious faith but they went much deeper in their analysis-"the customary practice of sin subjects the soul to the dominion of sin;'He that is born of God doth not commit sin',Fall into sin,yea,the same sin he may,and that often;but then it is not without reluctance,repentance,and a protest entered by the soul in heaven against it;so that sin has not a quiet possession of his soul." In their dissection of 'the true and the false' attitude of the heart ,Puritan writers such as Flavel,will often penetrate with this type of depth,but rarely does even the occasional probe of modern authors run so deep.Many examples could be given,even from one particular author in the same book-"so,then to fret at Christ's laws that tie us up from our lusts,to be weary of all spiritual employments as a burden intolerable,never to be in our element and centre till we are away from God,and plunging in the world and our lusts,this is a sad mark of a soul in subjection to sin." John Flavel shows with great clarity that prosperity and sufferings can put one's sincerity to the test-"but nothing makes a deeper search into our bosoms... than our behavior towards that corruption which dwells in us." The Christian's three great enemies are the world,the flesh and the devil.I believe the greatest of these by far is the enemy which remains in us,till the end of our earthly pilgrimage(the flesh-indwelling sin and corruption).The Puritan's insist upon this,again and again,but I'm not sure that this is as obvious,or understood as well in our generation.
Charles Spurgeon was labeled by one writer(in a biography of his life)as an heir of the Puritans because he read their writings extensively and was greatly influenced by them).There are noted modern authors,where the influence of the Puritan's on their lives and ministries are very evident(in some sense they also might be considered heirs of the Puritan's as well)-R.C.Sproul,Sinclair Ferguson,Maurice Roberts,Joel Beeke,John MacArthur and Don Kistler are some that come to mind.
One of the reasons that the Lord God brings trials,in the lives of His people,is that they may know if God's work in them is genuine- "no man can say what he is,and whether his graces are true or false,till they have been tried and examined by those things which are to them as fire is to gold." The value and necessity of a work such as Flavel's 'A Touchstone Of Sincerity',for today,can hardly be overstated.
Doubless, there are many warnings in the bible that call on whoever claims faith in Christ to see if their profession be a genuine one or a falseone. This book is a great aid in doing so. John Flavel clearly explains the different avenues through which faith may be tested to be a genuine one.
Persecution and affliction seem to be the major tests on a genuine confession and flavel shows us how the believer and the unbeliever respond to each. Genuine christians desire to know whether their faith is real or not, the false convert is fearful or such a test because he knows how shallow his claim is.
To the christian, this book is a great encouragement, to the unbeliever, it might shatter the idols of self-righteousness and the delusion of sin and satan and lead the soul to genuine repentance and faith. To the praise of God's Glory.
I would highly recommend this book. In Christ Alone.