Mystery of Providence
The “Mystery of Providence” by John Flavel presents the Puritan perspective on the providence of God in practical terms. The book is really a lengthy meditation and application of Psalm 52:7, which says "I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me." From this text, Flavel derives his "doctrine" (falling in line with typical Puritan sermon-structure): "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." This theme is then unfolded in in a three-part treatise, covering 1. The Evidence of Providence, in which Flavel seeks to prove and demonstrate the reality of God's Providential care over the lives of believers by looking at such things as birth, upbringing, conversion, employment, family affairs, preservation from evil, and sanctification; 2. Meditation on the Providence of God, where the author shows that it is our duty to meditate on Providence, directs in how to do this, and then covers ten advantage to gained from this practice; and 3. Application of the Doctrine of Providence, in which the practical implications of the doctrine are considered and the problems and questions arising in peoples minds are answered. Though not as witty or colorful as Thomas Brooks, as astute as Stephen Charnock, or as experiential as John Owen, Flavel does have merits to commend him. Having lived a difficult life, he knew firsthand how to rely on God's sovereignty in his life. Flavel's work cultivates a greater awareness of God's mercy, trust in God's wisdom, and resignation to God's will in one's life. Highly recommended.
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