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CHAP. VIII.-OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD, OR OF HIS
GOVERNMENT OF THE WHOLE CREATION.
This government is either GENERAL or SPECIAL.
His GENERAL GOVERNMENT is that whereby GOD THE FATHER REGARDS, PRESERVES, AND GOVERNS THE WHOLE OF CREATION WITH INFINITE WISDOM AND HOLINESS ACCORDING TO THE CONDITIONS OF HIS DECREE.
GOD THE FATHER. Neh. ix. 6. " thou, even thou, art Jehovah alone.... thou hast made, and thou preservest them all." To this truth Christ himself bears witness everywhere. Matt. v. 45. "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise.... and sendeth rain," &c. vi. 4. "thy Father which seeth in secret." v. 8. "your Father knoweth." v. 13. “thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory." v. 26. "your heavenly Father feedeth them.". v. 32. "your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." vii. 11. "your Father which is in heaven shall give good things unto them that ask him." x. 29. "one of them shall not fall on the ground without Father." Acts i. 7. your 66 the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Eph. i. 11. according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." James i. 17. "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." Even as regards the Son himself. Acts iv. 27. "against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed.... for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." The preservation of the universe is attributed to the Son also, but in what sense, and on what grounds, may be seen in the fifth chapter, on the Son of God. Col. i. 17. "by him all things consist,'
I nam'd them as they pass'd, and understood
Paradise Lost, III. 352.
'But Adam, who had the wisdom given him to know all creatures, and to name them according to their properties, no doubt but he had the gift to discern perfectly that which concerned him much more, and to apprehend at first sight the true fitness of that consort which God provided him.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 336.
-but both the preceding and following verses explain on what account; namely, because the Father, v. 13. "hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son," and because, v. 19. "it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Heb. i. 3. "upholding all things by the word of his power," namely, because, v. 2. the Father "hath appointed him heir of all things." Further, it will appear on an examination of the passage, that the original ought to be translated, not of his own power, but of his, namely, the Father's, of whose person he was the express image; and the right reading in the Greek is αὐτοῦ, not αὑτοῦ, since δ ̓ ἑαυτοῦ immediately follows, as if put expressly for the sake of distinction. Lastly, Christ testifies of himself, Matt. xxviii. 18. "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;" and to the same effect in many other places.
REGARDS. Job xxxi. 4. " doth he not count all my steps?" 2 Chron. xvi. 9. "the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth." Psal. xxxiii. 15. "he fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works." Jer. xxxii. 19. "thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men.' Hos. ii. 21. "I will hear the heavens."
PRESERVES. Deut. viii. 3. “ man doth not live by bread only,but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jeho vah." Job vii. 20. "O thou preserver of men." Psal. xxx. 7. "thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." lxxx. 1. "O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock shine forth." cause thy face to shine and we shall be saved." civ. 29. "thou takest away their breath, they die." Nehem. ix. 6. "thou hast made.... and thou preservest them all." Acts xiv. 17. "he left not himself
2 See the versions of Beza and Tremellius, who translate the clause, sustineatque omnia verbo potentiæ suæ, or verbo illo suo potente, and sustinet omnia virtute verbi sui. Mill reads avrov, without noticing the other reading, nor have I remarked that Waterland, who often quotes and argues upon the passage, takes any notice of the variation. It is, however, mentioned by Doddridge; and Wetstein, who reads avrov, has the following note: avrov, ut ad Patrem referatur. Christus verbo potentiæ paternæ cuncta fert. Editio Erasmi, Colinæi.'. To these two names Archbishop Newcome has added that of Bengelius, in the copy of Wetstein's New Testament which formerly belonged to that prelate, and which is enriched with several annotations in his hand-writing.
without witness." xvii. 25. "he giveth to all life." v. 28. "in him we live."
ACCORDING TO THE CONDITIONS OF HIS DECREE. It is necessary to add this qualification, inasmuch as God preserves neither angels, nor men, nor any other part of creation absolutely, but always with reference to the conditions of his decree. For he preserves mankind, since their spontaneous fall, and all other things with them, only so far as regards their existence, and not as regards their primitive perfection.
GOVERNS. Job xiv. 5. "thou hast appointed his bounds." Psal. xxix. 10. "Jehovah sitteth king for ever. xciii. 1. "Jehovah reigneth.... the world also is established.” ciii. 19. "his kingdom ruleth over all." Prov. xx. 24. "man's goings are of Jehovah." xxi. 1. "the king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah.... he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
WITH INFINITE WISDOM AND HOLINESS. Job ix. 10. "which doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number." Prov. x. 24. "the fear of the wicked it shall come upon him; but the desire of the righteous shall be granted." xii. 3. "a man shall not be established by wickedness." xiii. 9. "the light of the righteous rejoiceth.' Isai. lv. 9. "my ways are higher than your ways.' Deut. xxxii. 4. “all his ways are judgment.' Psal. xix. 9. "the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether.” Ixxvii. 13. "thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary." Generally speaking, however, no distinction is made between the righteous and the wicked, with regard to the final issue of events, at least in this life. Job xii. 6. " the tabernacles of robbers prosper." xxi. 7. "wherefore do the wicked live, become old? Eccles. vii. 15. "there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness." viii. 14. "there be just men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous." ix. 2. "there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked." The reason for this may be seen Job v. 7. "man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward." xxiv. 23. "though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways,' &c. Psal. lxxiii. 12, &c. "behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world, &c. .... until I went into the sanctuary
of God; then understood I their end.” xcii. 7. "when the wicked spring as the grass, &c..... it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.' Eccles. vii. 18. "it is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea also from this withdraw not thine hand; for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all." viii. 12. ". though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged; yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God." Jer. xii. 1. "wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?" Dan. xii. 10. "many shall be purified, and made white, and tried."
THE WHOLE OF CREATION. Gen. viii. 1. "God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle." ix. 9, 10, 12, 15. "I, behold I establish my covenant with you and every living creature that is with you.' Prov. xv. 3. "the eyes of Jehovah are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."
Even the smallest objects. Job xxxiv. 21. " for his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings." Psal. civ. 21. "the young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." cxlvii. 9. "he giveth to the beast his food." Matt. vi. 26. x. 29, 30. "a sparrow shall not fall on the ground without your Father: but the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
At the same time, God does not extend an equal share of his providential care to all things indiscriminately. 1 Cor. ix. 9. " doth God take care for oxen ?" that is, as much care as he takes for man? Zech. ii. 8. "he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye." 1 Tim. iv. 10. "the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe."
Natural things. Exod. iii. 21. "I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians;" that is, by operating a change in their natural affections. Jer. li. 16. "he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth." Amos v. 8. "that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth; Jehovah is his name." Even such as are supernatural. Lev. xxv. 20, 21. “and if shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? it shall bring forth fruit for three years." Deut. viii. 3, 4. "he fed thee with manna.... thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell these forty years." See also xxix.
5. 1 Kings xvii. 4. "I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." v. 14. "the barrel of meal shall not waste," &c. Events contingent or fortuitous. Exod. xxi. 13. "if God deliver him into his hand." Prov. xvi. 33. "the whole disposing of the lót is of Jehovah." Nor does Scripture intimate anything derogatory to divine providence, even where (as sometimes happens) the names of fortune or chance are not scrupled to be employed; all that is meant is to exclude the idea of human causation. Eccles. ix. 11. " time and chance
happeneth to them all." Luke x. 31. "by chance there came down a certain priest that way."
Voluntary actions. 2 Chron. x. 15. so the king hearkened not unto the people: for the cause was of God." Prov. xvi. 9. "a man's heart deviseth his way; but Jehovah directeth his steps." xx. 24. "man's goings are of Jehovah." xxi. 1. “the king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." Jer. x. 23. "O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself." In this, however, there is no infringement on the liberty of the human will; otherwise man would be deprived of the power of free agency, not only with regard to what is right, but with regard to what is indifferent, or even positively wrong.
Lastly, temporal evils no less than blessings. Exod. xxi. 13. "if God deliver him into his hand." Isai. xlv. 7. "I make peace and create evil,"—that is, what afterwards became evil, and now remains so; for whatever God created was originally good, as he himself testifies, Gen. i. Matt. xviii. 7.
woe unto the world because of offences; for it must needs be that offences come: but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." 1 Cor. xi. 19. "for there must be also heresies amongst you, that they which are approved may be made manifest amongst you."
God, however, is concerned in the production of evil only in one of these two ways; either, first, he permits its existence by throwing no impediment in the way of natural causes and free agents, (as, Acts ii. 23. "him being delivered by the determinate counsel of God.... ye have slain." xiv. 16. "who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.' 3." I Pet. iii. 17. "it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing." iv. 19. "them that suffer ac