Chapter V - Of Providence

I. God the great Creator of all things does uphold,(Heb 1:3) direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,(Dan 4:34-35, Psa 135:6, Acts 17:25-28, Job 38-41) from the greatest even to the least,(Matt 10:29-31) by His most wise and holy providence,(Pro 15:3, Psa 104:24, 145:17) according to His infallible foreknowledge,(Acts 15:18, Psa 94:8-11) and the free and immutable counsel of His own will,(Eph 1:11, Psa 33:10-11) to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.(Isa 63:14, Eph 3:10, Rom 9:17, Gen 45:7, Psa 145:7)

II. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly;(Acts 2:23) yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.(Gen 8:22, Jer 31:35, Ex 21:13, Deu 19:5, 1 Kings 22:28, 34, Isa 10:6-7)

III. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means,(Acts 27:31, 44, Isa 55:10-11, Hos 2:21-22) yet is free to work without,(Hos 1:7, Matt 4:4, Job 34:10) above,(Rom 4:19-21) and against them,(2 Kings 6:6, Dan 3:27) at His pleasure.

IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men;(Rom 11:32-34, 2 Sam 24:1, 1 Kings 22:22-23, 1 Chr 10:4, 2 Sam 16:1, Acts 2:23, Acts 4:27-28) and that not by a bare permission,(Acts 14:16) but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,(Psa 76:10, 2 Kings 19:28) and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends;(Gen 50:20, Isa 10:6-7, 12) yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.(Jam 1:13-14, 17, 1 John 2:16, Psa 50:21)

V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled;(2 Chr 32:25-26, 31, 2 Sam 24:1) and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.(2 Cor 12:7-9, Psa 77:1, 10, 12)

VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden,(Rom 1:24, 26, 28, Rom 11:7-8) from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts;(Deut 29:4) but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had,(Matt 13:12, Matt 25:29) and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin;(Deut 2:30, 2 Kings 8:12-13) and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan,(Psa 81:11-12, 2 Tim 2:10-12) whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.(Ex 7:3, 8:15, 32, 2 Cor 2:15-16, Isa 8:14, 1 Pet 2:7-8, Isa 6:9-10, Acts 28:26-27)

VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it takes care of His Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.(1 Tim 4:10, Amos 9:8-9, Rom 8:28, Isa 43:3-5, 14)