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Chapter 5: Of Divine Providence

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Chapter 5
PROVIDENCE

5.1 God, the good Creator of all things,1 in His infinite power and wisdom,2 upholds, directs, organizes and governs3 all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least,4 by His perfectly wise and holy providence,5 to the end for which they were created.6 He governs in accordance with His infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of His own will,7 to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness and mercy.8

(1) Genesis 1:31; 2:18; Psalms 119:68
(2) Psalms 145:11; Proverbs 3:19; Psalms 66:7
(3) Hebrews 1:3; Isaiah 46:10-11; Daniel 4:34-35; Psalms 135:6; Acts 17:25-28; Job 38-41
(4) Matthew 10:29-31
(5) Proverbs 15:3; Psalms 104:24; 145:17
(6) Colossians 1:16-17; Acts 17:24-28
(7) Psalms 33:8-11; Ephesians 1:11
(8) Isaiah 63:14; Ephesians 3:10; Romans 9:17; Genesis 45:7; Psalms 145:7

5.2 Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God who is the first cause, all things occur immutably and infallibly, so that nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence.1 Yet by His providence He arranges them to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.2

(1) Acts 2:23; Proverbs 16:33
(2) Genesis 8:22; Jeremiah 31:35; Exodus 21:13; Deuteronomy 19:5; Isaiah 10:6-7; Luke 13:3,5; Acts 27:31; Matthew 5:20-21; Philippians 1:19; Proverbs 20:18; Luke 14:25ff; Proverbs 21:31; 1 Kings 22:28,34; Ruth 2:3

5.3 God in His ordinary providence makes use of means,1 yet is free to work outside,2 above3 and against4 them at His pleasure.

(1) Acts 27:22, 31, 44; Isaiah 55:10-11; Hosea 2:21-22
(2) Hosea 1:7; Luke 1:34-35
(3) Romans 4:19-21
(4) Exodus 3:2-3; 2 Kings 6:6; Daniel 3:27

5.4 The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, are so far expressed in His providence, that His sovereign purposes extend even to the first fall and all other sinful actions of angels and human beings.1 This is not merely by a bare permission, for He most wisely and powerfully limits and by other means arranges and governs sinful actions, so that they bring about His own holy purposes.2 Yet [in all this] the sinfulness of these actions comes entirely from the creature, and not from God, who is altogether holy and righteous, neither is He nor can He be the author or approver of sin.3

(1) Romans 11:32-34; 2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Chronicles 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Samuel 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
(2) Acts 14:16; 2 Kings 19:28; Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 10:6,7,12
(3) James 1:13,14,17; 1 John 2:16; Psalms 50:21

5.5 The perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often leaves for a time [even] His own children to various temptations, and to the corruption of their own hearts. He does this to chastise them for their former sins, or to show them the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness still in their hearts so that they may be humbled, and to bring them to a closer and more constant dependence on Him for their support, and to make them more watchful against future occasions of sin, and for various other just and holy ends.1 So whatever happens to any of His elect it is by His appointment, for His glory and for their good.2

(1) 2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Samuel 24:1; Luke 22:34-35; Mark 14:66f; John 21:15-17
(2) Romans 8:28

5.6 As for those evil and ungodly people whom God as a righteous judge blinds and hardens1 because of their sins, He not only withholds His grace from them by which they might have been enlightened in their understanding and affected in their hearts,2 but sometimes He also withdraws the gifts which they had,3 and exposes them to situations which their corruption makes an occasion for sin.4 Moreover, God gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan,5 so that eventually they harden themselves by the very means which God uses for the softening of others.6

(1) Romans 1:24-26,28; 11:7-8
(2) Deuteronomy 29:4
(3) Matthew 13:12; 25:19
(4) Deuteronomy 2:30; 2 Kings 8:12-13
(5) Psalms 81:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
(6) Exodus 7:3; 8:15,32; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16; Isaiah 6:9-10; 8:14; 1 Peter 2:7; Acts 28:26-27; John 12:39-40

5.7 As the providence of God reaches out in a general way to all creatures, so, in a very special way, it takes care of His church and controls all things for the good of His church.1

(1) Proverbs 2:7-8; Isaiah 43:3-5,14; Amos 9:8-9; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11,22; 3:10-11,21; 1 Timothy 4:10