The Mystery of Providence
Do we believe that everything in the world and in our own lives down to the minutest details is ordered by the providence of God? Believers can benefit immeasurably from taking the time to observe and meditate on the workings of God’s providence, and Flavel instructs us how to improve the effort.
John Flavel’s The Mystery of Providence has gained renown for over 300 years as the all-time classic work on the subject of the providence of God. He starts with Psalm 57:2: “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”, and from there, leads his readers to reflect on this truth: “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.”
Far from a merely theoretical book, this was authored by a pastor with a huge heart. Flavel lived in times of political upheaval and when the cities of England were disease-ridden. These events dramatically impacted his own family.
Part 1: The Evidence of Providence
- 1) The Work of Providence for the Saints
- 2) Our Birth and Upbringing
- 3) The Work of Conversion
- 4) Our Employment
- 5) Family Affairs
- 6) Preservation of the Saints from Evil
- 7) The Work of Sanctification
Part 2: Meditation on the Providence of God
- 8) The Duty of Meditation on Providence
- 9) How to Meditate on Providence
- 10) The Advantages of Meditation on Providence
Part 3: Application of the Doctrine of Providence
- 11) Practical Implications for the Saints
- 12) Practical Problems in Connection with Providence
- 13) The Advantages of Recording Our Experiences with Providence
About the Author, Puritan minister John Flavel
John Flavel (1627-91) was a minister of the gospel in the south of England – in Salisbury first, and then mainly in Dartmouth. Living through tumultuous times in England, Flavel faced even more tumultuous times in his own life. Like his Master, he lived a life acquainted with grief. He was one of the thousands of ministers of the Church of England who resigned their living in the Great Ejection of 1662. His parents both died of the plague in 1665 under tragic circumstances. (They were imprisoned by enemies at the infamously infected Newgate Prison, presumable in order to cause their deaths.)
Flavel saw the death of his child, and three wives. After only two years of marriage, his first wife, Joanna, died in childbirth, along with their first child. He remarried, and also grieved the loss of Elizabeth, his second wife. Having remarried again – to Agnes – he also lost her. He was survived by his fourth wife, Dorothy.