Home > Systematic Theology > Works of God- Providence: Preservation- Book Third- Chapter 3- Section 1

Works of God- Providence: Preservation- Book Third- Chapter 3- Section 1

Book Third

CHAPTER III.

WORKS OF GOD.–PROVIDENCE.

Let us approach nearer to the object of our supreme love. Such a being as God would be worthy of our hearts’ best affection, if we were wholly under the dominion of another Lord, and owed our existence to another creative power. Like the Queen of Sheba, when she heard of the wisdom and glory of Solomon, we might, with great propriety, desire to visit the remote palace of Jehovah, that we might learn his character, and the arrangements of his empire. If God, after creating the world, had left the management of it in other hands, and had withdrawn to employ himself in other works, our inquires might well follow him, and we might laudably seek to know our Creator. But God is not far from us. He did not, on making the world, leave it to itself, or commit it into other hands; but it is an object of his constant care, and his hand is concerned in all its movements. Whether we look on the right hand, or on the left, we can see where he doth work; and, in the display of his wisdom, power, and goodness, which at every moment meets our eyes, we find continued incitements to adore and love.

God’s care of his creation termed Providence; and includes Preservation and Government.

SECTION I.–PRESERVATION.

ALL CREATED THINGS ARE KEPT IN BEING BY THE WILL AND POWER OF GOD.[1]

We can as little understand the act of Providence, as that of creation; but we know that both are acts of God, implying both his will and power. That a continued preserving act is necessary to keep his creatures in being, ought not to be doubted. The expression, “upholding all things,”[2] clearly denotes such an act. An architect may build a house, which, when once completed, may stand, independent of his labor and skill, a monument of both, when he has fallen by the hand of death; and we are prone to conceive that the work of God might equally stand, if left to itself, without his constant care and support. But the cases are widely different. The human architect finds the materials which he uses already in existence; and his whole work consists in changing their form, and combining them in a new order. The substances used did not receive their existence from him; and the independent being which they possessed before the architect touched them, they retain after his hand has been withdrawn. But the very substance, as well as the form, of all created things, came from the hand of God; and withdrawal of that hand would leave their being unsupported, or the expression, “upholding all things, ” has no appropriate meaning.

Many have maintained that the preserving act not only has the same author as the creating act, but is identical with it. They consider it philosophically true that preservation is a perpetual creation. All created existence is conceived to terminate at every moment by its natural tendency to annihilation, and to be reproduced by a new creative act. But, notwithstanding the ingenious arguments which have been advanced in support of this opinion, philosophy perseveres in distinguishing between the two acts, regarding creation as miraculous, and preservation, as conformed to the laws of nature. We are prone to conceive, that, to bring from non-existence into existence, differs from the preservation of existence already bestowed. It is enough, for every practical purpose, to attribute the preservation of all things to the power and will of the same being that originally created them. At his will, the world came into existence; and, at his will, it continues to exist.

[1] Job i. 21; v. 18; Ps. xxxiii. 10-15; ciii. 3–5, 10; civ. 27–30; cxxvii. 1,2; Prov. xvi. 9; Matt. v. 45; x. 29; Luke xii. 6; Acts xvii. 28.

[2] Heb. i. 3.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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