Friday, February 29, 2008

Affections Fitting to the Workings of Providence

Work up your hearts to those frames, and exercise those affections which the particular providences of God that concern you call for.

Did John Flavel have Jonathan Edwards or John Piper write this section? Flavel's point here is that God has planted in our hearts various affections and there are certain providences that are used to draw forth these affections. When the situation is sad we ought to respond in a fitting manner. When providence affords us happiness, then in joviality we ought to respond. Yet, in all workings of providence we ought to keep our spiritual joy and comfort. Flavel asks a few rhetorical questions to get the discussion going:

  • Why should we be sad since we have infinitely more to be joyous about than sad?
  • Why should we be sad since God is with us in all our troubles?
  • Why should we be sad since God is not at enmity with us?
  • Why should we be sad since we know that God will work even these sad providences to our good?
  • Why should we be sad since we know that we will soon never suffer again?
Then we move to what mostly concerns this section: How can such joy in the midst of difficult circumstances be possible? Flavel says consider these things and it will lead to true spiritual joy:

  • Mortify your inordinate affections to earthly things
  • Dwell much upon the meditation of the Lord's near approach
  • Exercise heavenly-mindedness
  • Maintain a contented heart with what the Lord allots you

Flavel then gives four recommendations to the unregenerate, to stop their mouths during difficult times.

  1. Hell and eternal damnation are the portion of your cup. Whatever is short of this is a mercy.
  2. Even though you have nothing that entitles you to mercy, you have a few.
  3. If you are to be rescued out of this damnable condition it will probably come through affliction.
  4. All these troubles are pulled down on your own head by your own sins

But what should we say to the regenerate in difficult circumstances? What can encourage us?

  • Consider your spiritual mercies and privileges with which the Lord has invested you
  • Consider your sins; that will make you contented with your lot
  • Consider how near you are to the change of your condition

Return to The Mystery of Providence Chapter 9

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