Divine Providence

Arthur Pink

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 impart.

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 what follows.

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.