Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backward.
Thus are the judgments of God and the ways of his providence profound and unsearchable, Psal. 36:6. “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains, thy judgments are a great deep;” i.e. his providences are secret, obscure, and unfathomable; but even then, and in those providences, his righteousness stands up like the great mountains, visible and apparent to every eye. Though the saints cannot see the one, yet they can clearly discern the other, Jer. 12:1. Jeremiah was at a stand; so was Job in the like case, Job 12:7. So was Asaph, Psal. 73. and Habakkuk, chap. 1:3. These wheels of providence are dreadful for their height, Ezek. 1:18. There be deep mysteries of providence, as well as of faith. It may be said of some of them, as of Paul’s epistles, That they are hard to be understood, darkness and clouds are round about the throne of God: no man can say what will be the particular issue and event of some of his dispensations. Luther seemed to hear God say to him, when he was importunate to know his mind in some particular providence, Deus sum, non sequax: I am a God not to be traced. Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backward, Psal. 92:7. Some providences pose men of the greatest parts and graces. “His way is in the sea, his paths in the great waters, and his footsteps are not known,” Psal. 77:19. Who can trace footsteps in the bottom of the sea? “The angels,” Ezek. 1. “have their hands under their wings.” The hand is either, symbolum roboris, The symbol of strength, or instrumentum operationis, The instrument of action: where these hands are put forth, they work effectually, but very secretly; they are hid under their wings. There be some of God’s works that are such secrets, as that they may not be enquired into; they are to be believed and adored, but not pryed into, Rom. 11:33. Others that may be enquired after, but yet are so profound, that few can understand them, Psal. 111:2. “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all those that have pleasure therein.” When we come to heaven, then all those mysteries, as well in the works as in the word of God, will lie open to our view.
Flavel, J. (1820). The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel (Vol. 5, p. 284). London; Edinburgh; Dublin: W. Baynes and Son; Waugh and Innes; M. Keene.
- How unworthy is it for dust and ashes, kneaded together in time, to strut against the Father of eternity! Much more unworthy for that which is nothing, worse than nothing, to quarrel with that which is only being, and equal himself with him that inhabits eternity.
- God is the most simple being; for that which is first in nature, having nothing beyond it, cannot by any means be thought to be compounded.
- It is impossible to honour God as we ought, unless we know him as he is.
- Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.
- True liberty is not the power to live as we please, but to live as we ought!