The Mystery of Providence – Food for thought

May 7, 2008

Wow! It has been a very long time since I blogged here. My life has been absolutely crazy as of the entire last school year, and seems to have left me with barely time enough to check my e-mail once a day. Even so, it is good to be back.

Just since March, I have been participating in the Puritan Reading Challenge brought forth by TImmy Brister at his website, and also hosted at Old Truth. The challenge is to read one Puritan Paperback each month for a year. Last month I read The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel, a Puritan living in late 17th century England. In regard to the Challenge, I highly recommed joining now, even if you do not read 12. You can see the challenge both at Old Truth and Brister’s website.

Here I have typed out the places where I thought Flavel’s comments and observations of Providence were most thought provoking and the location of each. Hope you benefit from Flavel’s writings!

p. 45 – “And truly, when I have considered those works of Providence, in bringing into the world in all countries and ages some such spectacles of pity; some deprived of the use of reason and differing from beasts in little more than shape and figure; and other, though sound in their understandings, yet deformed or defective in their bodies, monstrous, misshapen and loathsome creatures: I can resolve the design of this providence into nothing else but a demonstration of His sovereign power; unless they are designed as foils to set off the beauty of other rare and exquisite pieces, and intended to stand before your eyes as monitors of God’s mercy to you, that your hearts, as often as you behold them, might be melted into thankfulness for distinguishing favour to you.”


p. 50 –“…we could not have chosen for ourselves as Providence has done.”


P. 53 –“You cannot but know that as godliness entails a blessing, so wickedness and unrighteousness a cruse upon posterity.”


p. 58 –“In you neglect to instruct [your children] in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness?”


p. 73 –“God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts; but as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His thoughts higher than ours, and His ways than our ways.”


p. 84 –“Use relations to the end Providence designed them. Walk together as co-heirs of the grace of life; study to be mutual blessings to each other; so walk in your relations that the parting day may be sweet.”


p. 87 –“ ‘One morsel of God’s provision, especially when it comes in unexpected, and upon prayer, when wants are most, will be more sweet to a spiritual relish than all former enjoyments were.’ ” (Quoting Mr. Antony Ash)


p. 118 –“Not that I think in feasible to sound the depth of Providence by our short line: ‘Thy way is in the sea, and they path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known’ (Ps. 77.19), but it is our duty to dive as far as we can: and to admire the depth, when we cannot tough the bottom.”


p. 120 –“Prayer honours Providence, and providence honours prayer.”


p. 127 –“One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul. If Providence has at any time directed you to such promises as either assure you that the Lord will be with you in trouble (Ps. 91.15), or that encourage you from inward peace to bear cheerfully outward burdens (John 16.33), or satisfy you of God’s tenderness and moderation in His dealings with you (Isa. 27.8), or that you shall reap blessed fruits from them (Rom. 8.28), or that make clear you interest in God and His love under you afflictions (2 Sam. 7.14), O what ease and relief ensues and how light is your burden compared with what it was before!”


p. 150 –“Other men pursue good, and if flies from them, they can never overtake it; but goodness and mercy follow the people of God, and they cannot avoid or escape it.”


p. 157 –“As unworthy as I am, God has been good to me notwithstanding. His mercy appeared first to me when I was worse than I am now, both in condition and disposition; and therefore I will still expect the continuance of His goodness to me, though I do not deserve it.”


p. 181 –“If God performs all things for you, how great is His condescension to and care over His people!”


p. 182 –“Shall God do all things for you, and will you do nothing for God?”


p. 191 –“It is slackness if you reckon by your own rule and measure, but it is not so if you reckon and count by God’s. The Lord does not compute and reckon His seasons of working by our arithmetic. You have both these rules compared, and the ground of our mistake detected in that Scripture: ‘For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry’ (Hab. 2. 3)… The meaning is, it may not tarry much beyond your expectation, but not a moment beyond God’s appointment.”


p. 195 –“Enjoyment of your desires is the thing that will please you, but resignation of your wills is that which is pleasing to God.”


p. 202 –“This is a sure rule: whatever ends in the increase of our love to God proceeds from the love of God to us.”


p. 207 –“He is truly rich in grace whose riches or poverty neither hinders the acting nor impoverishes the stock of his graces.”


p. 210 –“How great satisfaction must it be to all that believe the divine authority of the Scripture that the faithfulness of God stands engaged for every line and syllable found therein!”


p. 214 –“It is here supposed to be the Christian’s great duty, under the apprehensions of approaching troubles, to resign his will to god’s and quietly commit the events and their outcome to Him, whatever they may prove.”


p. 219 –“…there is a prudent, humble and seasonable communication of our experiences and observations of Providence which is exceeding beneficial both to ourselves and our brethren.”




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