Sunday, March 20, 2011

Boston Thoughts

Thomas Boston (1676-1732) a Scottish preacher wrote The Crook in the Lot. This small booklet has been the source of much contemplation and learning for me the last couple of months. Boston writes based on Ecclesiastes 7:13 "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he has made crooked?" He defines that crook in the lot as "that train or course of events, some fall out, cross to us, and against the grain; and these make the crook in our lot. While we are here, there will be cross events, as well as agreeable ones, in our lot and condition. Sometimes things are softly and agreeable gliding on; but, by and by, there is some incident which alters that course, grate us, and panes us, as, when we have made a wrong step we begin to limp." This could be anything in our lives which goes against what our wishes, desires or wants are. It affects us in some or all parts of our life and is often in the tenderest part, that which is more difficult for us to bear. This can be in regard to our physical nature, our outward circumstances, or our relationships. Boston wants to bring the teaching of the Word of God to bear upon our understanding of these "crooks in the lot" because he says "a just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them."

Boston reinforces what we should already know: that any and all crooks in our lot are directly from the hand of God. "There is a certain train or course of events, by the providence of God, falling to every one of us during our life in this world. And that is our lot, as being allotted to us by the sovereign God, our Creator and Governor, "in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways." This train of events is widely different to different persons, according to the will and pleasure of the sovereign Manager, who orders men's condition in the world in a great variety, some moving in a higher, some in a lower sphere."

For me, the three great lessons to be learned from crooks in the lot are these:

1) these disagreeable things in our lives are a result of sin. Sin in the world has made all of our lots to some degree or another miserable or unhappy. It is often hard to see in our culture when it looks as if the wicked especially are thriving and have few troubles compared to the righteous, but they have more serious troubles than us, that is the loss of their souls for eternity. Also, sin has made our way in this world more difficult. It may not be a particular sin we are guilty of, as in the case of Job, but sin is in the world and Jesus said we would have tribulations in this world.

2)the most important thing for us to do under our particular crooks is to tame our spirits and bring down ourselves to the lot God has designed for us. We all want that crook to be made straight, but "let us then set ourselves rightly to bear the crook in our lot, while God sees fit to continue it. What we cannot mend, let us bear Christianly, and not fight against God, and so kick against the pricks." We must do so patiently, with Christian fortitude, and without sinking into discouragement. He goes on to expound Proverbs 16:19 where it tells us that it is "better to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." We should also not want for it to be removed until it has accomplished all that Spiritual fruit desired by God, lest we considered to be useless by the Master. "It is not always best for folks to get their will." "All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it."

3) besides seeking to humble yourself under your particular lot, the best way to manage the painful cross or affliction God gives each one of us is to "dwell much on the thoughts of God's greatness and holiness, and of your own sinfulness; so will you be humbled under the mighty hand of God; and in due time He will lift you up." To consider that "those who cannot quietly keep the place assigned them of God in their afflictions or relation, but still press upward against the mighty hand that is over them, that mighty hand resists them, throwing them down, and often farther down than before; whereas it treats them with grace and favor that compose themselves under it to a quiet discharge of their duty in their situation; so, eyeing this, we must set ourselves to humble ourselves."

I find that modern Christianity has not taught me or fitted me for such a disposition as outlined in Boston's work. Yet it seems that we must needs learn to humble ourselves more under the mighty hand of God. For the entire work of Boston visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at www.ccel.org


-----posted by Queen Lucy

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