• Date Reviewed: Nov 2023
• Book Reviewed: “The Mystery of Providence” by John Flavel
• Number of Pages: 257
Puritan Paperbacks! They are classic for good reason! If you are familiar with these books then you know what a treasure trove of wisdom and rich theological truths they are. I often enjoy alternating between reading a Puritan Paperback and then other good books. Some Puritans are simpler to read than others and I find John Flavel to fit squarely into the former. This book is divided into three parts: The Evidence of Providence, Meditation on the Providence of God, and Application of the Doctrine of Providence. Here is a quick overview of it:
“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? Do we ever take time to observe and meditate on the workings of Providence? It was to persuade Christians of the excellency of observing and meditating upon this that Flavel first published his Mystery of Providence in 1678. Based on the words ‘God that performeth all things for me’ (Psalm 57:2) this work shows us how Providence works for us in every stage and experience of our lives. The book is richly illustrated from the lives of believers and from the author’s wide reading in church history.”
What Christian has not often pondered how God’s sovereign ways impact our daily lives and how He chooses to use trials and blessings ultimately for our good and His glory? This is a book filled with encouragement to remember God’s goodness and mercy when He made all things work together for our personal salvation by putting us in just the right time and place. It’s a book that exhorts us not to forget God’s goodness to His people throughout time and to know that He is a trustworthy God as He brings us through life. It shows us how providence works itself out in our birth and upbringing, our employment, family affairs, preservation from evil, and sanctification. Flavel reminds us to govern ourselves in the search for God’s will by the following:
“(i) Get the true fear of God upon your hearts. ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and He will show them His covenant’ (Psa. 25:14).
(ii) Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less. Treasure up its rules in your hearts and you will walk safely. ‘Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee’ (Psa. 119:11).
(iii) Reduce what you know into practice and you shall know what is your duty to practice. ‘A good understanding have all they that do His commandments’ (Psa. 111:10).
(iv) Pray for illumination and direction in the way you should go. Beg the Lord to guide you in straits and that He would not permit you to fall into sin.
(v) Follow Providence so far as it agrees with the Word and no further.
A person cannot read this book and not come away feeling a greater sense of humility over how God would condescend to be thus involved with us so intimately and effectually, a greater sense of awe over how God accomplishes His purposes for us, and a greater sense of gratitude over how God could be so incredibly loving and good in His governing of His creation. If you would desire to know just how God orchestrates the details of our lives for our good and His glory then I highly commend this excellent book to you! It is only 257 pages and chock-full of doctrinal and Scriptural truths. The CRBC Library has a wonderful collection of Puritan Paperbacks on various topics by various authors and if you haven’t checked any of them out before, I hope you will consider taking advantage of this opportunity!