Home > Calvinism, Christian Institutes > As regards future events, the doctrine of Divine Providence not inconsistent with deliberation on the part of man

As regards future events, the doctrine of Divine Providence not inconsistent with deliberation on the part of man

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015As regards future events, the doctrine of Divine Providence not inconsistent with deliberation on the part of man.

4. As regards future events, Solomon easily reconciles human deliberation with divine providence. For while he derides the stupidity of those who presume to undertake anything without God, as if they were not ruled by his hand, he elsewhere thus expresses himself: “A man’s heart deviseth his ways but the Lord directeth his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9;) intimating, that the eternal decrees of God by no means prevent us from proceeding, under his will, to provide for ourselves, and arrange all our affairs. And the reason for this is clear. For he who has fixed the boundaries of our life, has at the same time entrusted us with the care of it, provided us with the means of preserving it, forewarned us of the dangers to which we are exposed, and supplied cautions and remedies, that we may not be overwhelmed unawares. Now, our duty is clear, namely, since the Lord has committed to us the defense of our life, — to defend it; since he offers assistance, — to use it; since he forewarns us of danger, — not to rush on heedless; since he supplies remedies, — not to neglect them. But it is said, a danger that is not fatal will not hurt us, and one that is fatal cannot be resisted by any precaution. But what if dangers are not fatal, merely because the Lord has furnished you with the means of warding them off, and surmounting them? See how far your reasoning accords with the order of divine procedure: You infer that danger is not to be guarded against, because, if it is not fatal, you shall escape without precaution; whereas the Lord enjoins you to guard against its just because he wills it not to be fatal. These insane cavilers overlook what is plainly before their eyes, viz., that the Lord has furnished men with the artful of deliberation and caution, that they may employ them in subservience to his providence, in the preservation of their life; while, on the contrary, by neglect and sloth, they bring upon themselves the evils which he has annexed to them. How comes it that a provident man, while he consults for his safety, disentangles himself from impending evils; while a foolish man, through unadvised temerity, perishes, unless it be that prudence and folly are, in either case, instruments of divine dispensation? God has been pleased to conceal from us all future events that we may prepare for them as doubtful, and cease not to apply the provided remedies until they have either been overcome, or have proved too much for all our care. Hence, I formerly observed, that the Providence of God does not interpose simply; but, by employing means, assumes, as it were, a visible form.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

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  1. January 6, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Nice, I just taught on this truth a few weeks ago!

    • January 9, 2016 at 4:24 am

      Amen! Calvin’s first book is solid as it examines the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man.

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