Three Sad Sights

John-Flavel

There are three sad sights with which our eyes should continually affect our hearts.

The first is to behold in every place so many profane and dissolute ones who bear the very image of Satan, the face of whose conversation plainly discovers what they are and where they are going (Philippians 3:18-19). These look like the children of wrath.

The second is to see so many cursed hypocrites artificially disguising themselves, and with marvelous dexterity acting the part of saints, so that even a judicious eye may sometimes mistake the similar workings of the Spirit on them for His saving work on others. To hear such a person conferring, praying, bewailing his corruptions, and talking of his experiences, would easily persuade a man to believe that he has the heart as well as the face of a sincere Christian. For this is how the people of God speak; this is how they pray; and this is how they open their conditions. They look like saints, but are not.

The third is to see so many real saints in whom the Spirit of truth is, who yet, through the impetuous workings of their corruptions, and neglecting to watch over their hearts, often fall into such scandalous practices that they look like hypocrites, though they are not so.

These are three sad sights indeed, and, oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes fountains of tears, that I may weep abundantly over them all!

For the first, I would mourn heartily, considering that they (so continuing) must be damned eternally (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; I Corinthians 6:9).

For the second, I would both weep and tremble, considering that they (so abiding) must be damned doubly (Matthew 24:51).

And for the third no less than any of the rest, because though they themselves may and shall be saved, yet their examples make fast the bonds of death upon both the former (Matthew 18:7; 2 Samuel 12:13-14).

Alas, that ever they should shed the blood of others souls for whom Christ shed His own blood; that ever they should be so cruel to others who have found Christ so kind to them! I know they dare not do it directly and intentionally, but so it proves occasionally and eventually.”

- John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, pp. xxxii, xxxiii