Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Mystery of Providence Chapter 12

We are almost finished with The Mystery of Providence. Chapter 12, one away from the final, considers the problems associated with Providence. With reading the chapter you expect Flavel to begin discussing some of the difficult doctrines, like the problem of evil. If you are expecting something other than being humbled under the mighty hand of God, then you will be sorely disappointed in this chapter. Flavel does not address all the "intellectual" problems with this doctrine, but instead addresses the "practical" problems. Again these points are far too lengthy to consider in one post. We will link to each problem and then have discussion at the end. The problems are thus:


Can you truly say that you are afraid of offending God. Flavel's statement on p.188, "Be really afraid of offending Him", hit me like a ton of bricks. I am not so certain that I am REALLY afraid of offending Him. Maybe moderately. Is it possible to be too comfortable in the benefits of the Cross, so that I no longer tremble as I ought? I think it is.

Is there really any more sound advice than what Flavel gives on page 189, when he basically tells those inquiring into the will of God to obey that which they do know? I have seen so many instances, in my own life especially, where believers get distracted by the unknown to the neglect of that which is known.

What do you think Flavel means when he says, "But for the seasons which are of our own fixing and appointment, as God is not tied to them, so His providences are not governed by them..."? What seasons do you think are our own fixing? Can a Calvinist talk like this?

How can you argue with this? "Are not those mercies you expect from God worth waiting for? If not, it is your folly to be troubled for the lack of them". (p.196)

"You have made God wait long for your reformation and obedience; and therefore you have no reason to think it much if God makes you wait long for your consolation." (p.197) Whoa there Mr. Flavel, can a Calvinist speak of us "making God wait"?

Have you previously considered this truth? "It is nothing but our pride and arrogance over-valuing our own understandings that makes resignation so hard". Oh, what pride we must have to think that we know better than the Almighty!

Have you noticed yet how different a Puritan counsels compared to many modern "counselors"? They are quick to remind you of your own sinfulness and utterly destroy your self-help. They are quick to point out your fault and your lack of duty before such a holy God. They labor to rip every bit of self-righteousness from our souls and strip us naked before the Cross. How different is that than much of the counseling that we hear today? How different is this than the shoddy counseling that tries to re-instill our sense of self-worthiness?

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