For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Psalm 73:3,17
Providence is an act of God, whereby, according to his eternal and most wise counsel, he preserves and governs all things, and directs them all to their ends, but chiefly to his own glory. It is necessary for our hearts to be well established in this truth, that we may acknowledge God with praise for the good that comes to pass, and embrace the bad with patience. Some doubt God’s providence when it can be seen that the wicked flourish, and the godly are often exposed to poverty, contempt and reproach. Wicked Dives feasted every day, while godly Lazarus starved at this glutton’s gate entertaining the dogs with licking his sores. Did God’s particular care furnish the glutton’s table, and only give scraps to his child? This question has been a problem for all ages. Actually this is an affirmation, not a contradiction, of God’s providence. The world has always hated God’s children, but God sustains them amidst the rage and hatred of their enemies. Though continually oppressed, they are never rooted out of the world. We see the power and care of Almighty God to keep a bush unconsumed in the midst of fire. When he brings calamity on his own children it is for their trial. What wicked men possess of this world is all that they can every hope for. The inequality of his providence in this life will be cleared up at the Day of Judgment. Blessings of this life may not be mercies, but snares. O never call Dives’ delicious fare ‘good things’, if it ends in torment! Was it good for him to be wrapped in purple who is now wrapped in flames? Lazarus’ sores are not evil if he now lies in Abraham’s bosom. In that day, all will be made plain. God may bless one by affliction and curse another by prosperity. Nothing is truly good but promotes eternal happiness.
In this classic devotional, John Calvin urges readers to apply the Christian life in a balanced way to mind, heart, and hand. Rather than focusing on contemplative otherworldliness, the book stresses the importance of a devotedly active Christian life. In style and spirit, this book is much like Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. However, its intense practicality sets it apart, making it easily accessible for any reader seeking to carry out Christian values in everyday life. Chapter themes include obedience, self-denial, the significance of the cross, and how we should live our lives today.