Friday, February 8, 2008

The Mystery of Providence Chapter 1

In the first chapter, Flavel concerns himself with piling evidence upon us in the hopes that all will surrender to the truth that the lives of saints are directed by the provedential care of God. He does this by asking eight questions (of which I will paraphrase):
  1. Why is it that so often the natural course of things is changed to make way for the mercies and deliverances of the people of God?
  2. Why does it seem that the affairs of the saints are so ordered as to put them in a place of benefit?
  3. Why is it that powerful forces cannot destroy the church, yet it is held up by such weak things?
  4. How do you explain such radical conversions?
  5. Why is good to God's people rewarded and evil, likewise, retributed?
  6. If all of this is accidental, how do you account for there explanation in Scripture?
  7. Why does it seem that quite frequently things come through "just in the nick of time"?
  8. How would you explain things happening in answer to prayers? Can you really say that it is just coincidental given all of the evidence to the contrary?


At first I was a little disappointed in this chapter. Then, I began reflecting upon the mounting evidence that Flavel is giving us and it stunned me. It is seldom that I view every action in view of providence. But if Flavel is correct, and I believe he is, then we should see every moment as a divine appointment. Certainly, some will be "less significant" than others, but appointments, nonetheless.

If Flavel is correct in saying, "how succesful have weak and contemptible means been made for the good of the Church!", why do we often esteem the best of men at the expense of those that are "weak and contemptible"? Is it possible that the church should be less triumphalistic?

At the end of the chapter Flavel comments that he will not labor any longer to give us stories of providence because, "most Christians have a stock of experience of their own". What are some of your stories? When have you seen God's providence? Do you remember a time when God came through in the "nick of time"?

Stories Flavel Uses:

On Polycarp's Martyrdom
The Agitated Mr. Dod Prevents a Suicide
The Radical Reformers Ravage Holland
Who is Du Moulin?

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