John Flavel, Double Scheme, pt. 3

Flavel concluded his double scheme with a list of six benefits of walking by the rules he proposed:

1. BENEFIT:  Strict and heedful attendance to these rules will put a luster upon religion before the world, and make it glorious in the eyes of such as now despise it.  Titus 2:10 “Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Which he here speaks, to encourage all to ordinate [properly ordered] walking.

2. BENEFIT:  This will allure and win the world over to Christ, and wonderfully prosper and further the design of the gospel. Philippians 2:15-16, “So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”

3. BENEFIT:  This will effectually stop the mouths of all the detracting and blaspheming enemies of religion. 1 Peter 2:15, “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

4. BENEFIT:  This will eminently glorify God, which is the ultimate end of our beings. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

5. BENEFIT:  This will fill the people of God (by way of evidence) with much inward peace. Galatians 6:16, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

6. BENEFIT:  This will secure the presence of God with, and among us; whence results both the efficacy of ordinances, and the stability and glory of the churches: For Christ walks among the golden candlesticks, and threatens the churches, in case of defection from gospel rules, “to remove the candlestick out of his place, except they repent” (Revelation 2:1, 5).

John Flavel’s Double Scheme, pt. 2

1.  DUTY: Their first duty is to be often together in acts of Christian communion. Malachi 3:16,  “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.” Such meetings for prayers, repetition of sermons, and Christian conference, greatly conduce to mutual edification, which is the principal intention of Christian fellowship, Eph. 4:16.

2. DUTY: Their second duty is, to follow and back the great design of the gospel in the world, and therein assist in the public ministry, by their private and prudent helping on the conversion of the carnal and careless world.  Philippians 4:3, “I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel.” Romans 15:30, “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”

3.  DUTY:  Their third duty is humble condescension to the infirmities of their weaker brethren, and denying themselves in what they can, without sin, that they give them no offense.  Romans 15:1, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” And verse 2, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”

4.  DUTY:  Their fourth duty is to be exceeding tender of the church’s unity, both in judgment, love, and practice, avoiding (as much as may be, and as far as gospel rule allows) all causes and occasions of division and separation. Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” And Philippians 2:1-2, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

5.  DUTY:  Their fifth duty is a respectful carriage towards the meanest Christian, and to have higher esteem of others than themselves. External things make no difference with Christ; Romans 12:10, “Give preference to one another in honor.” Galatians 3:28, “You are all one in Christ Jesus.” Yet a decorum is to be kept suitable to civil differences; Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

6. DUTY:  Their sixth duty is meekly to receive reproofs from each other for their sins, especially when the matter is just, and the manner of delivering it regular; Psalm 141:5, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head.”

7.  DUTY:  Their seventh duty is to communicate their spiritual stock of gifts, graces and experiences, not interfering with public officers, nor by sinful partiality including some, and excluding many others (to who it is as due, and who may have more need) from the benefit thereof; 1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Timothy 5:21, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

8.  DUTY:  Their eighth duty is, cheerful to communicate their outward good things for the relief of their brethren; Hebrews 13:16, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” And the better to enable them hereunto, to be diligent in their callings; Ephesians 4:28, “Performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”

9. DUTY:  Their ninth duty is, not only to relieve the distressed members of Christ, but to seek out, and visit them; to know their spiritual and temporal wants, in order to a full discharge of that duty; James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

10. DUTY:  Their tenth duty is, to put charitable constructions upon doubtful words and actions; and if either will admit to a double sense, always to take it in the fairest, according to the law of charity; 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” And such a charity will defend and maintain church peace and unity.

John Flavel’s “Double Scheme”

I was blessed and convicted recently in reading John Flavel’s Double Scheme[1]. It is a call to godliness and a reminder to be circumspect as a member of the church of Jesus Christ. Below is the first column of the Double Scheme, the second will come in a later post.

It reads as follows:

Flavel’s Double Scheme, or Table,”containing, in the first column, the SINS most common to the members of particular churches, plainly forbidden in the Word, and for which God sets marks of His displeasure on them.  And, in the second, the DUTIES enjoined on them in the Scripture, in the conscientious discharge whereof, they receive signal fruits of His favor.

1.  SIN:  The first, and more general sin of church members, is a defect in their care and circumspection, to prevent all just offenses to them that are without (i.e., unbelievers). This is forbidden in Colossians 4:5:  “Walk in wisdom towards them which are without.” By a careless disregard of this rule, we harden the wicked in their sins, bring guilt upon ourselves and reproach upon the name and ways of God.

2. SIN:  The second, and more particular sin of some church members, is idleness, and neglect of their civil callings. This is against the express rule of 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, “For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” This brings poverty on themselves, and scandal on religion.

3. SIN:  The third sin is tale-bearing [gossip], and revealing the secrets of families, and persons. Because of these much strife arises, to the cooling and quenching of mutual love. This is expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19:16, “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD.”

4. SIN:  The fourth sin is a disposition to believe rumors, and consequent rash criticism. This we ought not to do against the meanest member of the church, according to 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.” Much less against church officers, 1 Timothy 5:19, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.” This strikes at the bond of peace.

5. SIN: Their fifth sin is in their neglect of God’s ordinances upon slight diversions, when they are neither disabled by works of necessity or mercy. This is contrary to Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

6. SIN:  The sixth sin is a defect in zeal for God’s ordinances, manifested in their dilatory attendance. This is contrary to Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’” And unsuitable to their first practice (as Christians), “Where then is that sense of blessing you had?”

7. SIN:  The seventh sin is irreverence, and the want of seriousness under ordinances. This is contrary to Psalm 89:7: “A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him?” And this is manifest in vain attire: “The woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10). And unseemly postures and gestures:  “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil” (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

8.  SIN: The eighth sin worthy of reproof in them, is, the neglect of giving and taking of due reproofs from each other. This is contrary to Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.”

[I think Andrew Bonar provided a good explanation of the latter part of this verse in his commentary on Leviticus.  He writes, “If a brother defame us, or slight us, or give us cause for grief and anger, we are to tell it to the person face to face. There must be no self-satisfaction, as if you were in this better than he. Even for his sake, the evil must not be left on him” (Leviticus 19:17).  JIH]

9.  SIN:  The ninth sin is, mutual strife and animosities, not seasonably and prudently composed among themselves, but scandalously exposed to the view of the world. This is contrary to the apostle’s rule in 1 Corinthians 6:5-6: “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?”

10. SIN:  The tenth sin is, the privateness of their spirits, centering too much on their own concerns. This is expressly condemned in Philippians 2:21: “All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.” And it is contrary to scripture example in 2 Corinthians 11:29, “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”

[1] This “double scheme or table” of sins and duties of the members of churches is available in volume 6 of his works, published by Banner of Truth. It is also available on Google Books in Old English. This republishing of the double scheme is edited from the original version to accommodate modern English readers. The translation I have used is the New American Standard Update (1995).