Archive for August 20th, 2010

O what peace, what pleasure, what stability, what holy courage and confidence would result from such an observation of Providence as has been recommended! It will be needful to spread before you the loveliness and excellence of walking with God in a due and daily observation of His providences, that our souls may be fully engaged to it.

… by this means you may maintain sweet and conscious communion with God from day to day. Communion with God, properly and strictly taken, consists in two things, viz., God’s manifestation of Himself to the soul, and the soul’s answerable returns to God. Your hearts may be as sweetly refreshed by the works of God’s hands as by the words of his mouth. Psalm 104 is all spent in the consideration of the works of Providence which so filled the Psalmist’s heart that, by way of ejaculation, he expresses the effect of it: ‘My meditation of him shall be sweet’.

Sometimes the Lord manifests His displeasure and anger against the sins of His people in correcting and rebuking providences. This manifestation of God’s anger … produces a double sweet effect upon it, namely, repentance for sins past, and due caution against future sins.

A great part of the pleasure and delight of the Christian life is made out of the observations of Providence. ‘The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein’ (Psalm 111:2). That is, the study of Providence is so sweet and pleasant that it invites and allures the soul to search and dive into it. How pleasant is it to a well-tempered soul to behold and observe.

What unspeakable comfort it is for a poor soul, that sees nothing but sin and vileness in itself, at the same time to see what a high esteem and value the great God has for him! This may be discerned by a due attendance to Providence, for there a man sees goodness and mercy following him through all his days (Psalm 23:6).

I beseech you consider what an effectual means the due observation of Providence will be to overpower and suppress the natural atheism that is in your hearts.

The remembering and recording of the performances of Providence will be a singular support to faith in future exigencies.

The remembrance of former providences will minister to your souls continual matter of praise and thanksgiving. The goodness and mercy of God to His people is seen in His providences concerning them: and this is the very root of praise. It is sweet to recount [God’s providence] to the Lord in prayer, to lie at His feet in a holy astonishment at His gracious condescension to poor worms.

The purchase of all those mercies which Providence conveys to us, is by His own blood; for not only spiritual and eternal mercies but even all our temporal ones are the acquisition of His blood.

The due observations of Providence have a marvelous efficacy to melt the heart, and make it thaw and submit before the Lord.

O, is your life such a continued throng, such a mad hurry, that there is no time for Christians to sit alone and think on these things, and press these marvelous manifestations of God in His providences upon their own hearts?

Due observation of Providence will both beget and secure inward tranquility in your minds, amidst the vicissitudes and revolutions of things in this unstable vain world.

‘I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety’ (Psalm 4:8). He resolves the sinful fear of events shall not rob him of his inward quiet, nor torture his thoughts with anxious forebodings. He will commit all his concerns into that faithful fatherly hand that had hitherto wrought all things for him, and he does not mean to lose the comfort of one night’s rest, nor bring the evil of tomorrow upon today, but knowing in whose hand he was, wisely enjoys the sweet felicity of a resigned will.

Many a time have we kissed those troubles at parting which we met with trembling.

Due observations of the ways of God in His providences towards us have an excellent usefulness and aptitude to advance and improve holiness in our hearts and lives. His providences, if duly observed, promote holiness by stopping up our way to sin. The providences of God may be observed to conduce to our holiness, not only by preventing sin, that we may not fall into it; but also by purging our sins when we are fallen into them. In God’s afflictive providences for sin there are many things that tend to the purging of it. By these rebukes of sin the evil of sin is revealed more apparent to us, and we are made to see more clearly the evil of it in these glasses of affliction which Providence at such times sets before us, than we ever saw formerly. Providence blasts and frustrates all sinful projects to the people of God.

To conclude – providences do greatly improve and promote holiness by drawing the soul into the presence of God, and giving it the opportunity and occasion of much communion with Him. Comfortable providences will do this; they will melt a man’s heart in love to the God of his mercies and so pain his bowels that he shall not be quiet till he have found a place to pour out his soul in thankfulness to the Lord. Afflictive providences will drive us to the feet of God, and there make us to judge and condemn ourselves. And all this has an excellent use to destroy sin, and promote holiness in the soul.

Finally, the consideration and study of Providence will be of singular use to us in a dying hour. It must needs sweeten a deathbed to recount there the several remarkable passages of God’s care and love to us from our beginning to that day, to reflect upon the mercies that went along with us all the way, when we are come to the end of it. O Christians, treasure up these instances for such a time as that is, that you may go out of the world blessing God for ‘all the goodness and truth’ he has performed for you all your life long.

At death we owe an account also to men, and stand obliged, if there is opportunity for it, to make known to them that survive us what we have seen and found of God in this world, that we may leave a testimony for God with men and bring up a good report upon His ways.

source: John Flavel, The Providence of God.

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O that we were but acquainted with this heavenly spiritual exercise, how sweet it would make our lives, how light it would make our burdens!

Labour to get as full and thorough a recognition as you are able of the providences of God concerning you from first to last. O fill your hearts with the thoughts of Him and His ways.

In all the comfortable providences of your lives, eye God as the author or donor of them. Remember He is ‘the Father of mercies’ that begets every mercy for you.

Eye the care of God for you.

Eye the wisdom of God in the way of dispensing His mercies to you, how suitably they are ordered to your condition, and how seasonably. When one comfort is cut off and removed, another is raised up in its room.

Eye the free grace of God in them.

Eye the condescension of God to your requests for those mercies. This is the sweetest bit in any enjoyment, in which a man can consciously relish the return and answer of his prayers, and it greatly inflames the soul’s love to God.

Eye the design and end of God in all your comforts. Know that it is not sent to satisfy the cravings of your sensual appetite, but to quicken and enable you for a more cheerful discharge of your duty.

Eye the way and method in which your mercies are conveyed to you. They all flow to you through the blood of Christ and the covenant of grace. Mercies derive their sweetness from the channel through which they run to us.

Eye the distinguishing goodness of God in all the comfortable enjoyments of your lives.

Eye them all as comforts appointed to refresh you in your way to far better and greater mercies than themselves. The best mercies are still reserved till last, and all these are introductive to better.

In all the sad and afflictive providences that befall you, eye God as the author and orderer of them also.

Eye the sovereignty of God. His sovereignty is gloriously displayed in His eternal decrees and temporal providences.

Eye the wisdom of God in all your afflictions. Behold it in the choice of the kind of your affliction, this, and not another; the time, now and not at another season; the degree, in this measure only, and not in a greater; the supports offered you under it, not left altogether helpless; the issue to which it is overruled, it is to your good, not ruin. Surely, when you consider all – what need you had of these rods, that your corruptions will require all this, it may be much more, to mortify them; that without the perishing of these things you might have perished for ever – you will see great reason to be quiet and well satisfied under the hand of God.

As there are various affections planted in your souls, so there are various graces planted in those affections, and various providences appointed to draw forth and exercise these graces.

Why should we be cast down under sad providences while we have so great security that even by the hands of these providences God will do us good, and all these things shall turn to our salvation? By these God is but killing your lusts, weaning your hearts from a vain world, preventing temptations and exciting your desires after heaven.

source: John Flavel, The Providence of God.

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God has expressly commanded it.

The neglect of it is everywhere in Scripture condemned as a sin.

For this end and purpose it is that the Holy Ghost has affixed notes of attention such as ‘behold’ to the narratives of the works of providence in Scripture.

Without due observation of the works of Providence no praise can be rendered to God for any of them.

Without this we lose the usefulness and benefit of all the works of God for us or others.

It is a vile slighting of God not to observe what He manifests of Himself in His providences.

Men can never order their addresses to God in prayer, suitable to their conditions, without due observation of His providences.

source: John Flavel, ‘The Duty of Providence’ The Providence of God.

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“The greatness of God is a glorious and unsearchable mystery. It is the great support and solace of the saints in all the distresses that befall them here, that there is a wise Spirit sitting in all the wheels of motion, and governing the most eccentric creatures and their pernicious designs to blessed and happy issues.”

source: John Flavel, The Providence of God.

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In terms of relationships, a person can live out the image of God by imaging God’s relational-functions, character and desires.

Relational functions e.g. Paraclete, Reconciler, Redeemer, Healer

Character e.g. Compassion, Community, Love, Holiness, Wisdom, Integrity

Desires e.g. The display of His glory, Edification

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