The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel

The book is The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel. It was first published in 1678. I read the 2016 Puritan Paperback edition printed by The Banner of Truth Trust. I read it in May of 2022. 

I read this book because I want to read through all of the Puritan Paperbacks. I’ve heard from many pastors that Mystery of Providence is one of the best in the series. 

I’m personally going through a time where God’s providence has been weighing on my heart. Present circumstances have prompted me to pray and dwell on how God has provided for me and my family in the past, how he’s providing now, and how I hope he will provide in the future. 

Flavel emphasizes how the wisdom of God is infinitely better than ours. He is sovereign and in control so what are we worried about? 

It was interesting how Flavel talks about remembering the ways God has provided in the past and how it’s sinful to forget that. That was probably the most compelling point for me. I can look back at many instances where God moved in incredible ways. God provides everything but we don’t always recognize it. God has given me so much and not only did I not earn it, but I actively do things to make me undeserving of it. But still God shows mercy and grace in my life to provide for all that I have. We are completely dependent on God for every breath we take. 

There was nothing particularly shocking in this book. It contains so much truth that I’m familiar with but don’t dwell on often enough. 

There was one part where Flavel talks about embryos that die and how they “never had a reasonable soul breathed into them, but only the rudiments and rough draft of a body, these come not into the account of men, but perish as the beast does.” Seems like a strange take on miscarriages and abortions. I supposed we can chalk this up to the science of the time, not knowing when life starts. But Flavel had scripture which is where we come to understand that life starts in the womb. This doesn’t necessarily detract from Flavel’s overall message. It was just an odd section. 

Flavel’s point is clear. God provides for absolutely everything in life and we should not forget it. 

I’d recommend this book to any Christian who is discouraged. It gets disheartening sometimes when we’re striving for something and we feel like we’re not getting anywhere. This book is a good encouragement to recognize how much we’ve been given in Christ. The Lord will provide.

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