Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Eye Brow Raising - Mystery of Providence, Chapter 2

Sometimes we read things that we disagree with, even from good authors. Here is an example from Chapter 2 of The Mystery of Providence:

Look then, but not proudly, upon your outside and inside. See and admire what Providence has done for you, and how well it has performed the first service that ever it did for you in this world. And yet, this was not all it did for you. Before you saw this world, it preserved you, as well as formed you in the womb, else you had been as those embryos Job speaks of ‘which never saw light’ (3. 16). Abortives go for nothing in the world, and there are multitudes of them. Some 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. Others die in, or shortly after they come out of the womb, and though their life was but a moment, yet that moment entails an eternity upon them. Had this been your case, as it is the case of millions, then, supposing your salvation, yet you had been utterly unserviceable to God in the world; none had been the better for you, nor you the better for any in the world. You had been utterly incapable of all that good which throughout your life you have either done to others or received from others.

I wonder how Flavel would reconcile the words in bold with Luke 1:39-45?


Scott said...

Yeah, I can't say I agree with Flavel here either. But I did give Flavel credit that he wasn't speaking of all that die within the womb - it seems there may be a point of contention as to the moment when life begins or the soul is imparted - but as I read him - I believe he considers life as beginning in the womb and that many that die being yet unborn we will see in eternity. Do you agree that he is saying that? It was by a working of His divine power and therefore we should consider that we ourselves did not die in the womb and have a measure of time in which to glorify His name here.

I read all your Flavel posts thru 2/11/08. Thanks - what a remarkable testimony to the praise of his glorious grace! You make an example that we ought to put Flavel's advice to practice.

Jerry said...


Thanks for your kind words.

I took Flavel to be saying that unless one draws breath ("had a reasonable soul breathed into them") they do not obtain a soul.

Maybe I am reading more into him than he intended, but I have known folks today who hold to that position, stating that abortion is perfectly acceptable just so long as the child never draws a breath and thus receives a soul.

I guess that we will have to ask Flavel about his intention on the other side.

Scott said...

Thanks for adding that explanation Jerry. I had never heard of that concept before equating drawing a breath and obtaining a reasonable soul. That could very well be what he is thinking there. Of course then your passage from Luke 1 irrefutably speaks exactly to that.

The reason I thought perhaps the debate with Flavel lies upon when life begins or when is the moment the soul is imparted while yet within the womb was his words "Others die in, or shortly after they come out of the womb, and though their life was but a moment, yet that moment entails an eternity upon them." So that though they may die "in the womb" yet there is an eternity before them.

Thanks again for blogging on this - what a great way to increase the value of reading Flavel's book - and Sibbes' earlier for that matter. I hope to read your Sibbes comments as well.