It is evident, from the scripture doctrine of divine Providence, that God brings about every man’s lot, and all the parts thereof. He sits at the helm of human affairs, and turns them whithersoever he listeth. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth, in the seas and all deep places’ (Ps. 135:6). There is not anything whatsoever befalls us, without his overruling hand. The same Providence that brought us out of the womb, brings us to, and fixes us in the condition and place allotted for us, by him who ‘hath determined the times, and the bounds of our habitation’ (Acts 17:26). It overrules the smallest and most causal things about us, such as ‘hairs of our head falling on the ground’ (Matt. 10:29, 30); ‘A lot cast into the lap’ (Prov. 16:33). Yea the free acts of our will, whereby we choose for ourselves, for even ‘the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water’ (Prov. 21:1). And the whole steps we make, and which others make in reference to us; for ‘the way of man is not in himself; it is not man that walketh to direct his steps’ (Jer. 10:23). And this, whether these steps causing the crook [some one or other piece of adversity] be deliberate and sinful ones, such as Joesph’s brethren selling him into Egypt; or whether they be undesigned, such as manslaughter purely casual, as when one hewing wood, kills his neighbour with the ‘head of the axe slipping from the helve’ (Deut. 19:5). For there is a holy and wise Providence that governs the sinful and the heedless actions of men, as a rider doth a lame horse, of whose halting, not he, but the horses’ lameness, is the true and proper cause; wherefore in the former of these cases, God is said to have sent Joesph into Egypt (Gen. 45:7), and in the latter, to deliver one into his neighbour’s hand (Exod. 21:13).
God has, by an eternal decree, immoveable as mountains of brass (Zech. 6:1), appointed the whole of every one’s lot, the crooked parts thereof, as well as the straight. By the same eternal decree, whereby the high and low parts of the earth, the mountains and the valleys, were appointed, are the heights and the depths, the prosperity and adversity, in the lot of the inhabitants thereof determined, and they are brought about, in time, in a perfect agreeableness thereto.
The mystery of Providence, in the government of the world, is, in all the parts thereof, the building reared up of God, in exact conformity to the plan in his decree, ‘who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’ (Eph. 1:12). So that there is never a crook in one’s lot, but may be run up to this original. Hereof Job piously sets us an example in his own case, “He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doth. For he perfometh the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him’ (Job 18:13, 14).
- Thomas Boston
The Crook in the Lot:
Living with that thorn in your side