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Special Providence proved from examples taken from history

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Special Providence proved, lastly, from examples taken from the history of the Israelites, of Jonah, Jacob, and from daily experience.

7. Nay, I affirm in general, that particular events are evidences of the special providence of God. In the wilderness God caused a south wind to blow, and brought the people a plentiful supply of birds, (Exodus 19:13.) When he desired that Jonah should be thrown into the sea, he sent forth a whirlwind. Those who deny that God holds the reins of government will say that this was contrary to ordinary practice, whereas I infer from it that no wind ever rises or rages without his special command. In no way could it be true that “he maketh the winds his messengers, and the flames of fire his ministers;” that “he maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind,” (Psalm 104:3, 4,) did he not at pleasure drive the clouds and winds and therein manifest the special presence of his power. In like manner, we are elsewhere taught, that whenever the sea is raised into a storm, its billows attest the special presence of God. “He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves.” “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still,” (Psalm 107:25, 29) He also elsewhere declares, that he had smitten the people with blasting and mildew, (Amos 4:9.) Again while man naturally possesses the power of continuing his species, God describes it as a mark of his special favor, that while some continue childless, others are blessed with offspring: for the fruit of the womb is his gift. Hence the words of Jacob to Rachel, “Am I in God’s stead, who has withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:2.) To conclude in one word. Nothing in nature is more ordinary than that we should be nourished with bread. But the Spirit declares not only that the produce of the earth is God’s special gift, but “that man does not live by bread only,” (Deuteronomy 8:3,) because it is not mere fullness that nourishes him but the secret blessing of God. And hence, on the other hand, he threatens to take away “the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,” (Isaiah 3:1.) Indeed, there could be no serious meaning in our prayer for daily bread, if God did not with paternal hand supply us with food. Accordingly, to convince the faithful that God, in feeding them, fulfills the office of the best of parents, the prophet reminds them that he “giveth food to all flesh,” (Psalm 136:25.) In fine, when we hear on the one hand, that “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry,” and, on the other hand, that “the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth,” (Psalm 34:15, 16,) let us be assured that all creatures above and below are ready at his service, that he may employ them in whatever way he pleases. Hence we infer, not only that the general providence of God, continuing the order of nature, extends over the creatures, but that by his wonderful counsel they are adapted to a certain and special purpose.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 16-Henry Beveridge Translation

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