Puritan reading

This month I am reading “The Mystery of Providence” by John Flavel for the Read the Puritans series hosted by Timmy Brister at Provocations and Pantings (or is it Pantings and Provocations??)

The introduction alone is rich. Flavel begins with this paragraph regarding the mystery of Providence…

“The greatness of God is a glorious and unsearchable mystery…The condescension of the most high God to men is also a profound mystery. ‘Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.’ Psalm 138:6. But when both these meet together, as they do in this Scripture, they make up a matchless mystery. Here we find the most high God performing all things for a poor distressed creature.”

Flavel then begins to take us through Psalm 57 where we see David in great distress, hiding from Saul in a cave, calling out to God for mercy based on His sovereignty and His providence to David throughout David’s life.

In the unpacking of this providence we see that it is universal in that it relates to all aspects of our lives from beginning to end and from small to huge events in our lives. It is also able and beneficial. Regarding providence,

“Tis true we often prejudge its works, and unjustly censure its designs, and in many of our straits and troubles we say: ‘All these things are against us’; but indeed Providence neither does nor can do anything that is really against the true interest and good of the saints. For what are the works of Providence, but the execution of God’s decree and the fulfilling of His Word? Now there is nothing but good to the saints in God’s purposes and promises; and therefore, whatever Providence does concerning them, it must be (as the text speaks) ‘the performance of all things for them.'”

What great encouragement!!

So Flavel brings forward this doctrine from the Psalm 57 text.

It is the duty of the saints, especially in times of straits, to reflect upon the performances of Providence for them in all the states and through all the stages of their lives.

What are our ‘memorials’ to the Providence of God in our lives? I began to question how I might reflect, remember, rehearse, the Providence of God in my life. One way is through the practice of living in the Gospel. How do I practice and rehearse the Gospel in my life each day? If you have any ways that you memorialize the Providence of God for yourself or for your children, please share in the comments. I am reminded of Deuteronomy 6 where the people were told to be diligent to teach their children the statutes of God. Then at the end of Deuteronomy 6 we read,

“”When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”

The Israelites are told to remember the Providence of God in their lives. The remembering provides a context for the statutes and instructs that there is life in keeping the statutes and puts them on the path of righteousness.

Getting back to Flavel … The introduction ends with a reminder that we will see the Providence of God in its entirety in Glory.

“There the saints shall have a ravishing view of (Providence) in its entirety, and every part shall be distinctly discerned, as it had its particular use, and as it was connected with the other parts, and how effectually and orderly they all wrought to bring about that blessed design of their salvation, according to the promise (of Romans 8:28.)

We also have a partial and imperfect sight of God’s Providence on the way to glory where it can only be perceived by us in observable acts or series of observable actions. But even our partial view now gives hope when viewed with faith in what will be fully seen in glory.

I’m excited to get into this book and will keep you posted (ha! pun intended)

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