Home > Systematic Theology > Works of God- Providence: Government in General- Book Third- Chapter 3- Section 2

Works of God- Providence: Government in General- Book Third- Chapter 3- Section 2

Book Third




Created things are perpetually operating on each other in the relation of cause and effect. The properties and powers by which they so operate, were given to each of them in their creation, and are continued in the act of preservation. It follows, therefore, that all created things operate on each other, and produce changes in each other, by the will and power of God. If they are dependent for their existence, they must be, for their properties and powers, and, of consequence, for their operations.

God’s control over all events that happen, is abundantly taught in the Scriptures; which represent the wind,[4] the rain,[5] pestilence,[6] plenty,[7] grass,[8] and fowls of the air,[9] and hairs of the head,[10] &c., as objects of his providence.

The Scriptures not only attribute events to the overruling hand of God, but they represent him as ordering them for the accomplishment of some purpose. The grass grows, that it may give food.[11] Pestilence is sent, that men may be punished for their sins.[12] Joseph was sent into Egypt, to preserve much people alive.[13] Nor are there a few events only which are so ordered; but it is said, He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The declaration, “All things work together for good, “[14] &c., could not be true, if God’s control were not alike extended to all events, causing them all to co-operate in the fulfilment of his purpose.

Some persons are unwilling to attribute to God the care and management of minute and unimportant events. They consider it beneath his dignity to be concerned about such trivial matters. They believe in a General Providence over the affairs of the world, exercised by general laws; but a Particular Providence, exercised over every particular incident of every man’s life, enters not into their creed. But the Scriptures are plain on this subject. The fall of a sparrow is a very trivial event, yet it is affirmed by the teacher from heaven, to be not without our heavenly Father.[15] If great events happen according to general laws, it is equally true of small ones; and operation of these laws, in the latter case, must be as well understood, and as perfectly controlled, as in the former. Moreover, it often happens, that very important events depend on others that are in themselves trivial and unimportant. The King of Israel was slain,[16] and God’s prophecy concerning him was fulfilled, by an arrow shot at a venture. How many very minute circumstances must have concurred in this act! That the arrow was shot at all–that it was then shot–that is was precisely so directed, and with precisely the necessary force–and that it met no obstacle on its way: all these concurred, and all these must have been under the control of Him, in whose hand was the life of the king. As God’s greatness permitted him to create the minutest of his works, so it permits him to take care of them; and this care is as easy and undistracting to him, as if his whole energy were directed to the care and benefit of a single man or angel.

The objects of God’s Providence are all created things, animate and inanimate, rational and irrational. Some of these, as angels and men, are moral agents. All others, viewed as causing change of any kind, may be classed together as natural agents. With reference to this division of the agencies under his control, the government of God may be divided into natural and moral.

[3] 2 Chron. xx. 6; Ps civ. 4, 7, 10, 13, 14, 19, 32; Prov. xvi. 9; Ps. lxxvi. 10; Dan. iv. 35; Rom. viii. 28; Eph. i. 11.

[4] Johah iv. 8.

[5] Matt. v. 45.

[6] Lev. xxvi. 25.

[7] Gen. xxvii. 28.

[8] Matt. vi. 30.

[9] Matt. vi. 26.

[10] Matt. x. 30.

[11] Ps. civ. 14.

[12] 2 Sam. xxiv. 15.

[13] Gen. xlv. 7.

[14] Rom. viii. 28.

[15] Matt. x. 29.

[16] 1 Kings xxii. 34.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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