The Mystery of Providence. By John Flavel. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Reprint, 2006.
First published in 1678 and written by Puritan John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence is an excellent tool to train the spiritual eye to view God's hands in all the events of our lives. It was a refreshing and insightful read. It proved to be a wonderful blessing for me personally as it helped me to properly view the past year of struggle that I experienced.
In Providence Flavel teaches us how to recognize how God has orchestrated every detail and event in our lives, how to understand God is at work in both the good and "bad" providences over us, and how and why to be thankful for those "bad" events in our lives. God is over all things and working all things for our good!
Until reading Providence I believed that Romans 8:28 was true, but after reading it, I can now see HOW it is true! In puritan fashion, Flavel digs deep! For example, Flavel makes long discussions on how God's providence aids the church, how providence was at work in the timing, place, and situation of our birth, and how God moved in so many ways in our conversion, our sanctification, and our preservation. He provides scores of biblical examples and verses to support his theology and provides numerous daily illustrations as well. He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to relating God's sovereign control of all things to the life, faith, and joy of the believer. I was nourished, encouraged, and taught by reading this great book. In writing the "Publisher's Introduction" Michael Boland states, "His treatise is calculated to abase man and exalt God, and yet to kindle faith and adoration in the heart of every child of God" (p.14). Flavel accomplished exactly that!
Here are some of the more forceful words that I encountered.
(18) Grace makes the promise and providence the payment.
(60) In nothing does Providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God.
(88) Surely that is best for you which Providence has appointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be.
(90) ... sanctification gives sin a miscarrying womb after it has conceived in the soul.
(127) One word of God can do more than ten thousand words of men to relieve a distressed soul.
(131) I see my God will not lose my heart, if a rod can prevent it...He consults my good rather than my ease.
(146) Every man loves the mercies of God, but a saint loves the God of his mercies.
(149) O what a difference we have seen between our afflictions at our first meeting with them, and our parting from them! We have entertained them with sighs and tears but parted from them with joy, blessing God for them, as the happy instruments of our good.
(150) Other men pursue good, and it flies from them, they can never overtake it; but goodness and mercy follow the people of God, and they cannot avoid or escape it. It gives them chase day by day, and finds them out even when they sometimes put themselves by sin out of the way of it.
(172) A cross without a Christ never did any man good.
I end with one bit of application that Flavel gives and is worth repeating here. "...so would I persuade you, reader, to record the ways of Providence, from first to last, throughout your whole course to this day, that you may see what a God He has been to you" (p. 85). That's excellent advice that will increase your joy in the Lord and your awareness of His hands at work around you and for you!
""Flavel makes long discussions on how God's providence aids the church, how providence was at work in the timing, place, and situation of our birth, and how God moved in so many ways in our conversion, our sanctification, and our preservation. He provides scores of biblical examples and verses to support his theology and provides numerous daily illustrations as well.""
Thanks for this info SermonAudio.
I have just ordered Flavel's book.
And I know a few Arminian's who really need to read it judging by the quote above.