Flavel, Fountain of Life, File 17.
( ...continued from File 16)
Sermon 17. Of the Kingly Office of Christ, as it is providentially 
executed in the World, for the Redeemed. 
Eph. 1: 22. 
And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head, 
over all things to the church. 
The foregoing verses are spent in a thankful and humble adoration of 
the grace of God, in bringing the Ephesians to believe in Christ. 
This effect of that power that raised their hearts to believe in 
Christ, is here compared with that other glorious effect of it, even 
the raising of Christ himself from the dead: both these owe 
themselves to the same efficient cause. It raised Christ from a low 
estate, even from the dead, to a high, a very high and glorious 
state; to be the head both of the world, and of the church; the head 
of the world by way of dominion, the head of the church by way of 
union, and special influence, ruling the world for the good of his 
people in it. "He gave him is be the head over all things to the 
    In this scripture let these four things be seriously regarded. 
    1. The dignity and authority committed to Christ; "He has put 
all things under his feet;" which implies, full, ample and absolute 
dominion in him, and subjection in them over whom he reigns. This 
power is delegated to him by the Father: for besides the essential, 
native, ingenite power and dominion over all, which he has as God, 
and is common to every person in the Godhead, Psal. 22: 28. there is 
a mediatory dispensed authority, which is proper to him as Mediator, 
which he receives as the reward or fruit of his suffering, Phil. 2: 
    2. The subject recipient of this authority, which is Christ, 
and Christ primarily, and only: he is the "proton dektikon", first 
receptacle of all authority and power. Whatever authority any 
creature is clothed with, is but ministerial and derivative, whether 
it be political, or ecclesiastical. Christ is the only Lord, Jude, 
ver. 4. The fountain of all power. 
    3. The object of this authority, the whole creation; all things 
are put under his feet: he rules from sea to sea, even to the utmost 
bounds of God's creation, "Thou hast given him power over all 
flesh," John 17: 2. all creatures, rational, and irrational animate, 
and inanimate, angels, devils, men, winds, seas, all obey him. 
    4. And especially, take notice of the finis cui, the end for 
which he governs and rules the universal empire; it is for the 
church, i. e. for the advantage, comfort, and salvation of that 
chosen remnant he died for. He purchased the church; and that he 
might have the highest security that his blood should not be lost, 
God the Father has put all things into his hand, to order and 
dispose all as he pleaseth. For the furtherance of that his design 
and end, as he bought the persons of some, so the services of all 
the rest; and that they might effectually serve the end they are 
designed to, Christ will order them all in a blessed subordination 
and subserviency thereunto. Hence the point is, 
    Doct. That all the affairs of the kingdom of providence are 
    ordered and determined by Jesus Christ, for the special 
    advantage, and everlasting good of his redeemed people. 
    John 17: 2. "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that 
he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." 
Hence it comes to pass, that "all things work together for good to 
them that love God, to them that are called according to his 
purpose," Rom. 8: 28. 
    That Jesus Christ has a providential influence upon all the 
affairs of this world is evident, both from scripture assertions, 
and rational observations, made upon the acting of things here below 
    The first chapter of Ezekiel contains an admirable scheme or 
draught of providence. There you see how all the wheels, i. e. the 
motions and revolutions here on earth, are guided by the spirit that 
is in them. And, ver. 26. it is all run up into the supreme cause; 
there you find one like the Son of man, which is Jesus Christ, 
sitting upon the throne, and giving forth orders from thence for the 
government of all: and if it were not so, how is it that there are 
such strong combinations, and predispositions of persons and things 
to such ends and issues, without any communications of councils, or 
holding of intelligence with one another? As in Israel's deliverance 
out of Egypt, and innumerable more instances have appeared. 
Certainly, if ten men, from several places, should all meet at one 
place, and about one business, without any fore-appointment among 
themselves, it would argue their motions were secretly over-ruled by 
some invisible agent. How is it that such marvellous effects are 
produced in the world by causes that carry no proportion to them? 
Amos 5: 9 and 1 Cor. 1: 27 and as often, the most apt and likely 
means are rendered wholly ineffectual? Psal. 33: 16. In a word, if 
Christ has no such providential influx, how are his people in all 
ages preserved in the midst of so many millions of potent and 
malicious enemies, amongst whom they live as sheep in the midst of 
wolves? Luke 10: 3. How is it that the bush burns, and yet is not 
consumed Exod. 3: 2. 
    But my business, in this discourse, is not to prove that there 
is a Providence, which none but Atheists deny. I shall chose rather 
to show by what acts Jesus Christ administers this kingdom, and in 
what manner; and what use may be made thereof. 
    First, He rules and orders the kingdom of Providence, by 
supporting, permitting, restraining, limiting, protecting, 
punishing, and rewarding those over whom he reigns providentially. 
    1. He supports the world, and all creatures in it, by his 
power. "My Father works hitherto, and I work," John 5: 17. "And in 
him (that is, in Christ) all things consist," Col. 1: 17. It is a 
considerable part of Christ's glory to have a whole world of 
creatures owing their being and hourly conservation to him. The 
parts of the world are not coupled and fastened together as the 
parts of the house, whose beams are pinned and nailed to each other; 
but rather as several rings of iron, which hang together by the 
virtue of a loadstone. This goodly fabric was razed to the 
foundation when sin entered, and had tumbled into everlasting 
confusion, had not Christ stept in to shore up the reeling world. 
For the sake of his redeemed that inhabits it, he does and will prop 
it by his omnipotent power. And when he has gathered all his elect 
out of it into the kingdom above, then will he set fire to the four 
quarters of it, and it shall lie in ashes. Meanwhile, he is "given 
for a covenant to the people, to establish the earth," Isa. 49: 8. 
    2. He permits and suffers the worst of creatures in his 
dominion, to be and act as they do. "The deceived, and the deceiver, 
are his," Job 12: 16. Even those that fight against Christ and his 
people, receive both power and permission from him. Say not, that it 
is unbecoming the most Holy to permit such evils, which he could 
prevent if he pleased. For as he permits no more than he will 
overrule to his praise, so that very permission of his, is holy and 
just. Christ's working is not confounded with the creature's. Pure 
sun beams are not tainted by the noisome vapours of the dung hill on 
which they shine. His holiness has no fellowship with their 
iniquities; nor are their transgressions at all excused by his 
permissions of them. "He is a rock, his work is perfect, but they 
have corrupted themselves," Deut. 32: 4, 5. This holy permission is 
but the withholding of those restraints from their lusts, and 
denying those common assistances which he is no way bound to give 
them. Acts 14: 16. "He suffered all nations to walk in their own 
ways." And yet should he permit sinful creatures to act out all the 
wickedness that is in their hearts, there would neither remain peace 
nor order in the world. And therefore, 
    3. He powerfully restrains creatures by the bridle of 
providence, from the commission of those things, to which their 
hearts are propense enough, Psal. 76: 10. "The remainder of wrath 
thou wilt restrain," or gird up; letting forth just so much as shall 
serve his holy ends, and no more. And truly this is one of the 
glorious mysteries of Providence, which amazes the serious and 
considerate soul; to see the spirit of a creature fully set to do 
mischief; power enough, as one would think, in his hand to do it, 
and a door of opportunity standing open for it; and yet the effect 
strangely hindered. The strong propensions of the will are inwardly 
checked, as in the case of Laban, Gen. 31: 24. or a diversion, and 
rub is strangely cast in their way; as in the case of Sennacherib, 2 
Kings 19: 7, 8. so that their hands cannot perform their 
enterprises. Julia had two great designs before him, one was to 
conquer the Persian, the other to root out the Galileans, as he, by 
way of contempt, called the Christians: but he will begin with the 
Persian first, and then make a sacrifice of all the Christians to 
his idols. He does so, and perishes in the first attempt. O the 
wisdom of Providence! 
    4. Jesus Christ limits the creatures in their acting, assigning 
them their boundaries and lines of liberty; to which they may, but 
beyond it cannot, go. Rev. 2: 10. "Fear none at these things that ye 
shall suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, 
and ye shall have tribulation ten days." They would have cast them 
into their graves, but it shall only be into prisons: They would 
have stretched out their hands, upon them all; no, but only some of 
them shall be exposed: They would have kept them there perpetually; 
no, it must be but for ten days, Ezek. 22: 6. "Behold, the princes 
of Israel were in thee, every one to their power to shed blood." 
They went as far as they had power to go, not as far as they had 
will to go. Four hundred and thirty years were determined upon the 
people of God in Egypt; and then, even in that very night, God 
brought them forth; for then "the time of the promise was come," 
Acts 7: 17. 
    5. The Lord Jesus providentially protects his people amidst a 
world of enemies and dangers. It was Christ that appeared unto Moses 
in the flaming bush, and preserved it from being consumed. The bush 
signified the people of God in Egypt; the fire flaming on it, the 
exquisite sufferings they there endured: the safety of the bush, 
amidst the flames, the Lord's admirable care and protection of his 
poor suffering ones. None so tenderly careful as Christ. "as birds 
flying, so he defends Jerusalem," Isa. 31: 5; i. e. as they fly 
swiftly towards their nests, crying when their young are in danger, 
so will the Lord preserve his. They are "preserved in Christ Jesus", 
Jude 1, as Noah and his family were in the ark. Hear how a Worthy of 
our own expresses himself on this point. 
    "That we are at peace in our houses, at rest in our beds; that 
we have any quiet in our enjoyments, is from hence alone. Whose 
person would not be defiled, or destroyed? whose habitation would 
not be ruined? whose blood almost would not be shed, if wicked men 
had power to perpetrate all their conceived sin? It may be, the ruin 
of some of us has been conceived a thousand times. We are beholden 
to this Providence, of obstructing sin, for our lives, our families, 
our estates, our liberties, and whatsoever is or may be dear to us. 
For may we not say sometimes with the Psalmist, Psal. 57: 4. My soul 
is among lions, and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even 
the sons of men, whose teeth are spears, and their tongue a sharp 
sword? And how is the deliverance of men contrived from such 
persons? Psal. 8: 6. God breaks their teeth in their mouths, even 
the great teeth at the young lions. He keeps this fire from burning, 
- some he cuts off and destroys: some he cuts short in their power: 
some he deprives of the instruments whereby alone they can work: 
some he prevents in their desired opportunities, or diverts by other 
objects for their lust; and oftentimes causeth them to spend them 
among themselves, one upon another. We may say, therefore, with the 
Psalmist, Psal. 104: 24. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in 
wisdom hast thou made then all; the earth is full of thy riches." 
    6. He punishes the evil doers, and repays, by providence into 
their own lap, the mischief they do, or but intend to do, unto them 
that fear him. Pharaoh, Sennacherib, both the Julians, and 
innumerable more, are the lasting monuments of his righteous 
retribution. It is true, a sinner may do evil a hundred times, and 
his days be prolonged; but oft-times God hangs up some eminent 
sinners in chains, as spectacles and warnings to others. Many a 
heavy blow has Providence given to the enemies of God, which they 
were never able to recover. Christ rules, and that with a rod of 
iron, in the midst of his enemies, Psal. 110: 2. 
    7. And lastly, He rewards by Providence the services done to 
him and his people. Out of this treasure of Providence God repays 
oftentimes those that serve him, and that with a hundredfold reward 
now in this life, Matth. 19: 29. This active, vigilant Providence 
has its eye upon all the wants, straits, and troubles of the 
creatures: but especially upon such as religion brings us unto. What 
huge volumes of experiences might the people of God write upon this 
subject? and what a pleasant history would it be, to read the 
strange, constant, wonderful, and unexpected acting of Providence, 
for them that have left themselves to its care? 
    Secondly, We shall next enquire how Jesus Christ administers 
this providential kingdom. 
    And here I must take notice of the means by which, and the 
manner in which he does it. The means, or instruments, he uses in 
the governing the providential kingdom, (for he is not personally 
present with its himself), are either angels or men, "the angels are 
ministering creatures, sent forth by him for the good of them that 
shall be heirs of salvation," Heb. 1: 14. Luther tells us, they have 
two offices, superius canere, et inferius vigilare, "to sing above 
and watch beneath." These do us many invisible offices of love. They 
have dear and tender respects and love for the saints. To them, God, 
as it were, puts forth his children to nurse, and they are tenderly 
careful of them whilst they live, and bring them home in their arms 
to their Father when they die. And as angels, so men are the 
servants of Providence; yea, bad men as well as good. Cyrus, on that 
account, is called God's servant: they fulfil his will, whilst they 
are prosecuting their own lusts. "The earth shall help the woman," 
Rev. 12: 16. But good men delight to serve Providence; they and the 
angels are fellow servants in one house, and to one master, Rev. 19: 
10. Yea, there is not a creature in heaven, earth, or hell, but 
Jesus Christ can providentially use it and serve his ends, and 
promote his designs by it. But whatever the instrument be Christ 
uses, of this we may be certain, that his providential working is 
holy, judicious, sovereign, profound, irresistible, harmonious, and 
to the saints peculiar. 
    1. It is holy. Though he permits, limits, orders and overrules 
many unholy persons and actions, yet he still works like himself, 
most holily and purely throughout. "The Lord is righteous in all his 
ways, and holy in all his works, Psal. 145: 17. it is easier to 
separate light from a sunbeam, than holiness from the works of God. 
The best of men cannot escape sin in their most holy actions; they 
cannot touch, but are defiled. But no sin cleaves to God, whatever 
he has to do about it. 
    2. Christ's providential working is not only most pure and 
ho]y, but also most wise and judicious. Ezek. 1: 20. "The wheels are 
full of eyes:" They are not moved by a blind impetus, but in deep 
counsel and wisdom. And, indeed, the wisdom of Providence manifests 
itself principally in the choice of such states for the people of 
God, as shall most effectually promote their eternal happiness. And 
herein it goes quite beyond our understandings and comprehensions. 
It makes that medicinal and salutiferous, which we judge as 
destructive to our comfort and good, as poison. I remember, it is a 
note of Suarez, speaking of the felicity of the other world: "Then 
(saith he) the blessed shall see in God all things and circumstances 
pertaining to them, excellently accommodated and attempered;" then 
shall they see that the crossing of their desires was the saving of 
their souls; and that otherwise they had perished. The most wise 
Providence looks beyond us. It eyes the end, and suits all things 
thereto, and not to our fond desires. 
    3. The providence of Christ is most supreme and sovereign. 
"Whatsoever he pleaseth, that he does in heaven and in earth, and in 
all places," Psal. 135: 6. "He is Lord of lords, and King of kings," 
Rev. 19: 16. The greatest monarchs on earth are but as little bits 
of clay, as the worms of the earth to him: they all depend on him, 
Prov. 8: 15, 16. "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice; by 
me princes rule, nobles, even all the judges of the earth." 
    4. Providence is profound and inscrutable. The judgements of 
Christ are "a great deep, and his footsteps are not known," Psal. 
36: 6. There are hard texts in the works as well as in the words of 
Christ. The wisest heads have been at a loss in interpreting some 
Providence, Jer. 12: 1, 2. Job 21: 7. The angels had the hands of a 
man under their wings, Ezek. 1: 8. i. e. they wrought secretly and 
    5. Providence is irresistible in its designs and motions; for 
all providences are but fulfilling and accomplishments of Gods 
immutable decrees. Eph. 1: 11. "He works all things according to the 
counsel of his own will." Hence Zech. 6: 1. the instruments by which 
God executed his wrath, are called "chariots coming from betwixt two 
mountains of brass," i.e. "the firm and immutable decrees of God." 
When the Jews put Christ to death, they did but do what "the hand 
and counsel of God had before determined to be done," Acts 4: 28. so 
that none can oppose or resist providence. "I will work, and who 
shall let it?" Isa 43: 13. 
    6. The providence of Christ are harmonious. There are secret 
chains, and invisible connections betwixt the works of Christ. We 
know not how to reconcile promises and providence together, nor yet 
providence one with another; but certainly they all work together, 
Rom. 8: 28. as adjutant causes, or con-causes standing under, and 
working by the influence of the first cause. He does not do, and 
undo; destroy by one providence, what he built by another. But, 
look, as also seasons of the year, the nipping frosts, as well as 
the halcyon days of summer, do all conspire and conduce to the 
harvest; so it is in providence. 
    7. And lastly, The providence of Christ work in a special and 
peculiar way for the good of the saints. His providential is 
subordinated to his spiritual kingdom. "He is the Saviour of all 
men, especially of them that believe," 1 Tim. 4: 1. These only have 
the blessings of providence. Things are so laid and ordered, as that 
their eternal good shall be promoted and secured by all that Christ 
    Inference 1. If so, See then, in the first place, to whom you 
are beholden for your lives, liberties, comforts, and all that you 
enjoy in this world. Is it not Christ that orders all for you? He 
is, indeed in heaven, out of your sight; but though you see him not, 
he sees you, and takes care of all your concerns. When one told 
Silentiarius of a plot laid to take away his life, he answered, Si 
Deus mei curam non habet, quid vivo? "If God take no care of me, how 
do I live?" how have I escaped hitherto? "In all thy ways 
acknowledge him," Prov. 3: 6. It is he that has espied out that 
state thou art in, as most proper for thee. It is Christ that does 
all for you that is done. He looks down from heaven upon all that 
fear him; he sees when you are in danger by temptation, and casts in 
a providence, you know not how, to hinder it. He sees when you are 
sad, and orders reviving providence, to refresh you. He sees when 
corruptions prevail, and orders humbling providence to purge them. 
Whatever mercies you have received, all along the way you have gone 
hitherto, are the orderings of Christ for you. And you should 
carefully observe how the promises and providence have kept equal 
pace with one another, and both gone by step with you until now. 
    Inf. 2. Has God left the government of the whole world in the 
hands of Christ, and trusted him over all? Then do you also leave 
your particular concerns in the hands of Christ too, and know that 
the infinite wisdom and love, which rules the world, manages every 
thing that relates to you. It is in a good hand, and infinitely 
better than if it were in your own. I remember when Melanchton was 
under some despondencies of spirit about the estate of God's people 
in Germany, Luther chides him thus for it, "Let Philip cease to rule 
the world." It is none of our work to steer the course of 
providence, or direct its motions, but to submit quietly to him that 
does. There is an itch in men, yea, in the best of men, to be 
disputing with God: "Let me talk with thee of thy judgement," saith 
Jeremiah, chap. 12: 1, 2. Yea, how apt are we to regret at 
providence, as if they had no conducency at all to the glory of God, 
or to our good, Exod. 5: 22. yea, to limit providence to our way and 
time? Thus, the "Israelites tempted God, and limited the holy One," 
Psal. 78: 18, 41. How often also do we, unbelievingly, distrust 
providence as though it could never accomplish what we profess to 
expect and believe? Ezek. 37: 11. "Our bones are dry, our hope is 
lost; we are cut off for our part." So Gen. 18: 13, 14. Isa. 40: 17. 
There are but few Abrahams, among believers, who "against hope, 
believed in hope, giving glory to God," Rom. 4: 20. And it is but 
too common for good men to repine and fret at providence, when their 
wills, lusts, or humours are crossed by it: this was the great sin 
of Jonah. Brethren, these things ought not to be so; did you but 
seriously consider, either the design of providence, which is to 
bring about the gracious designs and purposes of God upon you, which 
were laid before this world was, Eph. 1: 11. or that it is a lifting 
up of thy wisdom against his, as if thou couldst better order thine 
affairs, if thou hadst but the conduct and management of them; or 
that you have to do herein faith a great and dreadful God, in whose 
hands you are as the clay in the potter's hands, that he may do what 
he will with you, and all that is yours, without giving you an 
account of any of his matters, Job 33: 13. or whether providence has 
cast others, as good, by nature, as yourselves, tumbled them down 
from the top of health, wealthy honours and pleasures, to the bottom 
of hell; or, lastly, did you but consider how often it has formerly 
baffled and befouled yourselves; you would retract, with shame, your 
rash, headlong censures of it, and enforce you, by the sight of its 
births and issues, to confess your folly and ignorance, as Asaph 
did, Psal. 73: 22. I say, if such considerations as these could but 
have place with you in your troubles and temptations, they would 
quickly mould your hearts into a better and more quiet frame. 
    O that I could but persuade you to resign all to Christ. He is 
a cunning workman, as he is called, Prov. 8: 30. and can effect what 
he pleaseth. It is a good rule, De operibus Dei non est judicandum, 
ante quintum actum. "Let God work out all that he intends, but have 
patience till he has put the last hand to his works and then find 
fault with it, if you can." You have heard of the patience of Job, 
"and have seen the end of the Lord," James 5: 11. 
    Inf. 3. If Christ be Lord and king over the providential 
kingdom, and that, for the good of his people, let none that are 
Christ's henceforth stand in a slavish fear of creatures. It is a 
good note that Grotius has upon my text; "It is a marvellous 
consolation (saith he) that Christ has so great an empire, and that 
he governs it for the good of his people, as a head consulting the 
good of the body." Our head and husband, is Lord-general of all the 
hosts of heaven and earth; no creature can move hand or tongue 
without his leave or order: the power they have is given them from 
above, John 19: 11, 12. The serious consideration of this truth will 
make the feeblest spirit cease trembling, and set it a singing; 
Psal. 47: 7. "The Lord is king of all the earth, sing ye praises 
with understanding,:" that is, (as some well paraphrase it) every 
one that has understanding of this comfortable truth. Has he not 
given you abundant security in many express promises, that all shall 
issue well for you that fear him? Rom. 8: 28. "All things shall work 
together for good, to them that love God," And Eccl. 8: 12. verily 
"it shall be well with them that fear God,: even with them that fear 
before him. And suppose he had not, yet the very understanding of 
our relation to such a king, should, in itself, be sufficient 
security: for, he is the universal, supreme, absolute, meek, 
merciful, victorious, and immortal king. 
    He sits in glory, at the Father's right hand; and, to make his 
seat the easier, his enemies are a footstool for him. His love to 
his people is unspeakably tender and fervent, he that touches them, 
"touches the apple of his eye," Zech. 2. And, it is hardly 
imaginable, that Jesus Christ will sit still, and suffer his enemies 
to thrust out his eyes. Till this be forgotten, the wrath of man is 
not feared; Isa. 2: 12, 13. "He that fears a man that shall die, 
forgets the Lord his Maker." He loves you too well to sign any order 
to your prejudice, and without his order, none can touch you. 
    Inf. 4. If the government of the world be in the hands of 
Christ, Then our engaging and entitling of Christ to all our affairs 
and business, is the true and ready way to their success and 
prosperity. If all depend upon his pleasure, then sure it is your 
wisdom to take him along with you to every action and business; it 
is no lost time that is spent in prayer, wherein we ask his leave, 
and beg his presence with us: and, take it for a clear truth, that 
which is not prefaced with prayer, will be followed with trouble. 
How easily can Jesus Christ dash all your designs, when they are at 
the very birth and article of execution, and break off, in a moment, 
all the purposes of your hearts? It is a proverb among the Papists, 
that Mass and meat hinder no man. The Turks will pray five times a 
day, how urgent soever their business be. Blush you that enterprise 
your affairs without God: I reckon that business as good as done, to 
which we have got Christ's leave, and engaged his presence to 
accompany us. 
    Inf. 5. Lastly, Eye Christ in all the events of providence; see 
his hand in all that befall you, whether it be evil or good. "The 
works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have 
pleasure therein," Psal. 111: 2. 
    How much good might we get, by observation of the good or evil 
that befall us throughout our course! 
    1. In all the evils of trouble and afflictions that befall you, 
eye Jesus Christ: and set your hearts to the study of these four 
things in affliction. 
    (1.) Study his sovereignty and dominion; for he creates and 
forms them: they rise not out of the dust, nor do they befall you 
casually; but he raises them up, and gives them their commission, 
Jer. 18: 11. "Behold, I create evil, and devise a device against 
you." He elects the instrument of your trouble; he makes the rod as 
afflictive as he pleaseth; he orders the continuance and end of your 
troubles; and they will not cease to be afflictive to you, till 
Christ say, Leave off, it is enough. The Centurion wisely considered 
this, when he told him, Luke 7: 8. "I have soldiers under me, and I 
say to one, Go, and he goes; to another, Come, and he comes:" 
meaning, that as his soldiers were at his beck and command, so 
diseases were at Christ's beck, to come and go as he ordered them. 
    (2.) Study the wisdom of Christ in the contrivance of your 
troubles. And his wisdom shines out many ways in them, it is evident 
in chasing such kinds of trouble for you: this, and not that, 
because this is more apt to work upon, and purge out the corruption 
that most predominates in you: In the degrees of your troubles, 
suffering them to work to such a height, else not reach their end; 
but no higher, lest they overwhelm you. 
    (3.) Study the tenderness and compassions of Christ over his 
afflicted. O think if the devil had but the mixing of my cup, how 
much more bitter would he make it! There would not be one drop of 
mercy, no, not of sparing mercy in it, which is the lowest of all 
sorts of mercy: but here is much mercy mixed with my troubles; there 
is mercy in this, that it is no worse. Am I afflicted? "It is of the 
Lord's mercy I am not consumed," Lam. 3: 2. It might have been hell 
as well as this; there is mercy in his supports under it. Others 
have, and I might have been left to sink and perish under my 
burdens. Mercy, in deliverance out of it; this might have been 
everlasting darkness, that should never have had a morning. O the 
tenderness of Christ over his afflicted! 
    (4.) Study the love of Christ to thy soul, in affection. Did he 
not love thee, he would not sanctify a rod to humble or reduce thee, 
but let thee alone to perish in thy sin. Rev. 3: 19. "Whom I love, I 
rebuke and chasten." This is the device of love, to recover thee to 
thy God, and prevent thy ruin. O what an advantage would it be thus 
to study Christ, in all your evils that befall you! 
    2. Eye and study Christ in all the good you receive from the 
hand of providence. Turn both sides of your mercies, and view them 
in all their lovely circumstances. 
    Eye them in their suitableness: how conveniently providence has 
ordered all things for thee. Thou hast a narrow heart, and a small 
estate suitable to it: Hadst thou more of the world, it would be 
like a large sail to a little boat, which would quickly pull thee 
under water: thou hast that which is most suitable to thee of all 
    (2.) Eye the seasonableness of thy mercies, how they are timed 
to an hour. Providence brings forth all its fruits in due season. 
    (3.) Eye the peculiar nature of thy mercies. Others have 
common, thou special ones; others have but a single, thou a double 
sweetness in thy enjoyments, one natural from the matter at it, 
another spiritual from the way in which, and end for which it comes. 
    (4.) Observe the order in which providence sends your mercies. 
See how one is linked strangely to another, and is a door to let in 
many. Sometimes one mercy is introductive to a thousand. 
    (5.) And lastly, Observe the constancy of them, "they are new 
every morning," Lam. 3: 23. How assiduously does God visit thy soul 
and body! Think with thyself, if there be but a suspension of the 
care of Christ for one hour, that hour would be thy ruin. Thousands 
of evils stand round about thee, watching when Christ will but 
remove his eye from thee, that they may rush in and devour thee. 
    Could we thus study the providence of Christ in all the good 
and evil that befall us in the world, then in every state we should 
be content, Phil 4: 11. Then we should never be stopt, but furthered 
in our way by all that falls out; then would our experience swell to 
great volumes, which we might carry to heaven with us; and then 
should we answer all Christ's ends in every state he brings us into. 
Do this, and say, 
                 Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. 

(continued in file 18...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flafn-17.txt