Monday, October 09, 2006

"The Mystery of Providence" by John Flavel

(p.27) [Christ is] a head to the Church by way of union and special influence (John17:2). He is "the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe"(1 Thim 4:10). The Church is His special care and charge. He rules the world for it's good, as a head consulting the welfare of the body.

(p.32) If the concerns of God's people are not governed by a special Providence, how is it that the most apt and powerful means employed to destroy them are rendered ineffectual, while weak, contemptible means employed for their defence and comfort are crowned with success?

(p.33) "Though I make a full end of all nations, yet will I not make a full end of thee (Jeremiah 30:11) and "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17)

(p.185) How may a Christian discover the will of God and his own duty under dark and doubtful providences?

(p.187) ... the most signal demonstrations of Providence are not to be accepted against a Scripture rule. No smiles or successes of Providence may in this encourage us to proceed ; and on the other side, no forwns or discouragements of Providence should discourage us in the way of our duty , howerver many we should encounter therein.

(p.188) "Paul by the direction of the Spirit was engaged to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22). After a clear revelation of the mind of God to him in that matter, how many difficult and discouraging providences befell his way ! The disciples at Tyre said to him 'through the Spirit' though in that they followed their own spirits, 'that he should not go to Jerusalem' (Acts 21:4). Then at Caesarea he met Agabus, a prophet, who told him what should befall him when he came there (Acts 21:10,11) but all this will not dissuade him. And after all this, how passionately do the brethren beseech him to decline that journey (verses 12,13) ! Yet knowing his rule and resolving to be faithful to it, he puts by all proceeds in his journey.

(p.189) "Providences, as they follow promises and prayer are evidences of God's faithfulness in their accomplishment.

(p.189) " Also providences give us loud calls to those duties which the command lays upon us and tell us when we are actually and presently under the obligation of the commands as to the performance of them" (...) "The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name. Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it"(Micah 6:9)

(p.190) "How may a Christian be supported in waiting upon God, while Providence delays the performance of the mercies to him for which he has long prayed and waited ?" (...) "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie : though it tarry, wait for it: because it will surely come, it will not tarry"(Habakkuk 2:3) God appoints the time; when that appointed time has come the expected mercies will not fail. But in the meantime, "though it tarry", says the prophet, "wait for it, for it will not tarry". Tarry and not tarry, how shall this be reconciled ? The meaning is it may tarry much beyond your expectation, but not a moment beyond God's appointment.

(p.196) "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. If they are, why do not continue waiting ? Is it not all that God expects from you for the mercies He bestows upon you, that you wait upon Him for them ? You know you have not deserved the least of them at His hands. You expect them, not as a recompense, but as a free favour; and if so, then the least you can do is to wait upon His pleasure for them. Consider how many promises are made in the Word to waiting souls.

(p.197) One Scripture declares "Blessed are all they that wait for him" (Psalm 30:18). Another tells us that none that wait for him shall be ashamed (Psalm 25:3), that is, they shall not be finally disappointed, but at last be made partakers of their hopes. A third Scripture tells us "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength"(Isaiah 40:31), a promise you had need make much use of in such a fainting time...This impatience and infidelity of yours, expressed in your weariness to wait any longer, is a great evil in itself. Very probably it is that evil which obstructs the way of your expected mercies. You might have your mercies sooner if your spirits were quieter and more submissive. And so much for the second case.

(p.209) How may our hearts be established and kept steady under calamitous and adverse providences ? (...) There was a time when Job could call nothing in this world his own but trouble. He could not say, My estate, my honour, my health, my children, for all these were gone; yet then he could say "My Redeemer"(19:25). Well then there is no cause to sink while interest in Christ remains sure to us.

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