God's Providence in our lives--a Puritan theme

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Wayne, Oct 14, 2009.

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  1. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    The study of God's providence was a strong, constant theme among the Puritans, especially as applied to the individual believer. I'm currently writing a review of The Notebooks of Nehemiah Wallington, in which the editor included the following quote by one John Beadle, and I was struck by the thematic similarities to a favorite quote from John Flavel:

    Beadle, 1656, The Journal or Diary of a Thankful Christian:
    "Of all Histories, the History of mens Lives is the most pleasant: Such History, amongst many commendations that may be given to it, this is not the least, that it can call back Times, and give life to those that are dead . . . but of all Histories of Lives, I should think, the History of a mans owne Life (even out of common principles of self-love) must needs be most acceptable. To be able to read our Lives even from the wombe to this present moment; from the cradle, within some few dayes of the grave, would surely be a study as profitable as delightful."

    and John Flavel, 1677, The Mystery of Providence, Works, iv.416-17.
    "Labour to get as full and thorough recognition of the providences of God about you, from first to last, as you are able...Let them be as extensively full, as may be...Ah sirs, let me tell you, there is not such a pleasant history for you to read in all the world, as the history of your own lives, if you would but sit down and record to yourselves from the beginning hitherto, what God hath been to you, and done for you: what signal manifestations and out-breakings of his mercy, faithfulness, and love, there have been in all the conditions you have passed through: If your hearts do not melt before you have gone half through that history, they are hard hearts indeed."

    I guess my point would be to underscore how much the Puritans were often hitting on the same notes in unison in their teaching.
  2. Pilgrim72

    Pilgrim72 Puritan Board Junior

    I find it fun to read multiple books on the same subject (such as providence) by the Puritans.

    Other books I have on Providence are "Providence Handled Practically" by Obadiah Sedgwick; "Divine Providence" by Stephen Charnock; "God’s Terrible Voice In The City" by Thomas Vincent.
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    In a similar way, I've thought for some time that it would be interesting to publish a set of sermons by various pastors on the same text. The Puritans used to hold what they called a "prophesying" (i.e., a conference in effect) at which some number of pastors all delivered sermons on the same text. Very interesting to see how the Word is thus displayed as infinitely deep, and yet at the same time, certain key points are brought home.

    For instance, on Number 14:24:
    Boston, Thomas, "Faithfulness towards God Exemplified and Rewarded," (in two sermons), Works, ix.299-334.

    Burroughs, Jeremiah, The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, 431pp. [admittedly a book on its own in this instance].

    M'Cheyne, Robert Murray, "Follow the Lord Fully," Additional Remains, pp. 381-389.

    Spurgeon, C.H., "Caleb-The Man For The Times," #538, MTP 9.613-624.

    Vines, Richard, "Caleb's Integrity in following the Lord fully," in a Sermon preached at St. Margarets Westminster, before the Honourable House of Commons, at their late solemn and public fast, Nov. 30, 1642, (London: Printed by G.M. for Abel Roper, 1642), 37pp.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    One of the major points of difference with the mystics is the fact that the Puritans grounded the practice of the presence of God on real-life events. If I might coin a phrase, we might say that they practised the providence of God.
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