The providence of God is His care of and provision
He makes for His creatures, with His supervision and superintendence of
them. The providence of God in His government of the world is a
subject of deep importance to the Christian, for by proper views thereof he
will learn to see God's activities in the daily works of His hands.
The depravity of the human heart, especially as it is
evidenced in "vain philosophy," makes a veil out of the physical laws by
which God usually conducts His government, a veil which hides Him in His own
workings. But the Scriptures represent all physical laws as having their
efficacy from the immediate agency of Almighty power, and view God as
working in His providence as truly as He wrought in His works of
creation. Yet, though Christians assent to this truth,
nevertheless they are prone to overlook it in exercise, and thereby
to be deprived in great measure of that poise of mind and comfort of heart
which a deep and constant improvement of this doctrine is calculated to
Nothing is more strengthening to faith, stabilizing to
the mind, and tranquilizing to the heart of a Christian, than for him to be
enabled to discern his Father's hand guiding, shaping, and
controlling everything which enters his life; and not only so, but that He
is also governing this world, and all people and events in it. Alas, we are
living in an age of terrible skepticism, when most of what happens is
attributed to natural causes, while God is more and more banished from the
world, in the consideration of His creatures. Now it is not only a fact that
God governs the world in a general sense, but He also regulates all its
affairs, controls all creatures in it, "working all things after the counsel
of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). Fully is this truth brought before is in the
Scriptures, not only in specific statements, but by innumerable
exemplifications and demonstrations.
At such a time as this, when Truth is fallen in the
streets, and error abounds on every hand, the believer is supported by the
knowledge that it is the sovereign will of God, that heresies should
enter and many be perverted by them. Without this view of Divine providence
there is no real consolation for the Christian, as he considers the awful
ravages which error has made and the sad state poor Christendom is now in.
Philosophy combines with agnosticism, superstition with idolatry, to oppose
the Lord's Anointed, while "religion" is now as corrupt as the general
morals of the masses. The increasing worldliness of the "churches", the
spiritual deadness which prevails even where the Truth is largely
maintained, the absence of genuine conversions, combine to disturb and
distress all true believers. But "The Lord God omnipotent reigns" (Rev.
19:6) supplies a sure resting place for the heart, for this means that even
God's opposers are executing His secret counsels.
God is not shaken by the situation which now confronts
our view, nor does the pride, arrogance, and blasphemy of His enemies
occasion Him any uneasiness. To the contrary "He who sits in the heavens
shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (Psalm. 2:4). It is
written "Surely the wrath of man shall praise You: the remainder of wrath
shall You restrain" (Psalm 76:10), but only FAITH can receive this grand
Truth and enjoy in the heart the precious fruits thereof. That Divine
"restraint" of man's "wrath" is exercised in God's providence or government
of this world, and this is what we wish the reader to be occupied with in
God is not troubled by anything that is now taking place
in His world—either in its political, social, or religious sphere; nor
should we be. The helm is still in His hand; and Satan himself cannot so
much as touch a hair of our heads without His direct permission.
The advantages of a clear grasp of this foundational
Truth of Divine providence are many.
First, it delivers the Christian from being carried away
by the tide of public opinion. Few things have a greater tendency to
lead Christians into error, than the apparent success of public
opinion. People in general judge of a cause by its seeming success, and
often Christians are greatly influenced by this pernicious principle.
Opinions spread by infection, rather than by a thorough investigation of the
evidence. But an accurate acquaintance with the ways of Providence, as
revealed in Scripture, is calculated to deliver from this prejudice. There
we discover that God has often granted much "success" to His enemies, and by
it they were hardened in their rebellion. Mere success is no proof of Truth,
and lack of success is neither evidence of error nor of God's displeasure.
Second, a proper acquaintance with the grand truth of
Divine Providence, should also be of real help in guarding us against having
recourse to artifice and deceit, in the propagation of the Truth. The
Apostle Paul, in spite of all his zeal for the Gospel, disdained all worldly
wisdom in his efforts to advance its progress: he commended the Truth to
every man's conscience in the sight of God. Then let us stick to the means
of God's ordering, and rigorously shun all human inventions. Temptations to
compromise, to lower the standard, to bring in fleshly devices so as to
"draw the young people," are multiplying today.
Even though it appeared that Christianity was in real
danger of being banished from the earth, that would not justify our
attempting to assist it by worldly methods, carnal devices, or any means
which God has not appointed. We are to fight the Lord's battles with the
weapons which He has put into our hands—and leave the "success" to Him! All
the ingenuity of man, can not and will not extend the Gospel one inch beyond
the limits which our sovereign God has assigned. It is at this point faith
is so often tested: faithful preaching being sparcely attended, "churches'
with worldly attractions crowded.
Third, a proper acquaintance with this blessed doctrine
of Divine Providence provides consolation amid so much which distresses the
godly. The more a true believer ponders the character of the times in which
his lot is cast—the more is his heart saddened. The affairs of this world
appear to be completely under the dominion of the Prince of Darkness—but in
the grand truth of God's government there is real comfort and solid
support for the heart. From it we learn that even the very opposition which
is made to the kingdom of Christ, is part of the plan of Divine wisdom, and
will be overruled for the glory of God and of His Son. It is true that "The
whole world lies in wickedness" (1 John 5:19), yet not in the sense that God
has relinquished its government. The wrath of Satan shall be obliged to
praise God, and any device of it which has not that tendency, He will
"restrain" and not allow to be manifested.