by John Flavel
"Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep, and to break my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." - Acts 21:13
Humiliation for our own sins and the due preparation to take up our own cross and follow Christ in a suffering path is the only mark and aim of this tract. The expectation of and preparation for suffering abates much of the dread and terror by accustoming our thoughts beforehand to it, that we may find it not so grievous, shocking, and intolerable when it comes. Reader, the cup of suffering is a very bitter cup, and it is but needful that we provide something to sweeten it so that we may be able to receive it with thanksgiving. What those sweetening ingredients are, and how to prepare them, you will have some direction and help in the following discourse. It is a blessed and excellent thing for the people of God to be prepared and ready for the hardest services and worst of suffering to which the Lord may call them. Beloved, suffering is one of the choicest discoveries of your love to your master Christ—yea, it is such a testimony of love to Him as angels are not capable of. They show their love by their readiness to do His will in the execution of which they fly as with wings (Ezekiel 1:24) but you only have the happiness of testifying your love for Him by your readiness to suffer for Him. Is not this excellent? The shoe of preparation to follow Him through thorns and briers, and over rocks and mountains of difficulties and troubles, loves Him indeed.
It is not the design of this Manual to scare and affright any man with imaginary dangers, much less to sow jealousies, and foment the discontents of the times; it being a just matter of lamentation that all the tokens of God's anger produce with many of us no better fruit but bold censures and loud clamours, instead of humiliation for our own sins, and the due preparation to take up our own cross, and follow Christ in a suffering path, which is the only mark and aim of this tract.
Mr. Bradford the martyr, when the keeper's wife came running into his chamber, saying, 'O Mr. Bradford, I bring you heavy tidings, for to-morrow you must be burned, your chain is now buying, and presently you must go to Newgate.' He put off his hat, and looking up to heaven, said, O Lord, I thank thee for it; I have looked for this a long time; It comes not suddenly to me, the Lord make me worthy of it. See in this example the singular advantage of a prepared and ready soul.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Epistle to the Reader
Chapter I: Wherein the text is opened, and the doctrine propounded.
Chapter II: Although God takes no delight in afflicting his people, yet he sometimes exposes them to great and grievous sufferings
Chapter III: God usually forewarns his people of approaching trials and sufferings
Chapter IV: Demonstrating the excellency of a prepared heart for the worst of sufferings
Chapter V: A Real Work of Grace Upon the Heart Necessary to fit a Man for Suffering for Christ
Chapter. VI: The Nature of this Work of Grace, in Which our Habitual Fitness for Suffering Lies
Chapter VII: Getting Clear Evidences of this Work of Grace in Us, in Order to Our Readiness for Sufferings
Chapter. VIII: Discovering the Necessity of an Improved Faith for the Right Management of Sufferings
Chapter IX: Christian Fortitude in Order to Sufferings is Evinced
Chapter. X: The Necessity of an Heart Mortified to All Earthly and Temporal Enjoyments
Chapter XI: Suffering Saints Have Insights Into the Methods and Mysteries of Satan's Temptation
Chapter. XII: Readiness for Sufferings Consists in the Improvement of our Praying Abilities, and Keeping Close with God
Chapter XIII: Going out of Ourselves and Depending as Constantly and entirely Upon the Spirit
Chapter XIV: Discovering the Unreadiness of Multitudes of Professors for Suffering-Work.
Chapter XV: The Saints are to Prepare Themselves for Greater Trials
Chapter XVI: Support and Comfort to Poor Trembling Souls