William S. Plumer, 1865
God's providence results from his nature.
It is holy, just, benevolent, wise, supreme and sovereign, sure and stable,
powerful and irresistible.
The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations. It
does not like to retain God in its thoughts. The Epicurean doctrine, that
God is too exalted to notice the affairs of men, naturally flows from the
ignorance and enmity of the carnal mind. But "shall I not do as I please
with my own?" is the challenge of the Almighty. To manage the affairs of the
universe cannot disturb God's divine tranquility. To him who made all things
by the word of his power, the care of them cannot be burdensome. God is not
like man. He never grows weary. That he has a right to establish an
all-pervading government over his creatures is as certain as that he has any
rights at all. Were our hearts not wrong—we would glory in his providence;
and were our minds not feeble and our faculties not limited—we would see
that all objection to God's providential care of the world was worse than
In this age it is commonly admitted that the Lord lives
and rules in the kingdoms of men. This is the avowed theory. The
practical belief of many is quite diverse. There are not a few whose
prevailing plans and fears and hopes, would hardly be more practically
atheistic if they should avow disbelief of God's existence and of the
divine government over human affairs. Were God, in open day, before their
eyes, miraculously to suspend the laws of nature, they might for a time,
perhaps, be impressed and confess that here was the finger of God. It is
probable, however, that this impression would not be lasting. For in his
ceaseless support and maintenance of the course of nature—such men perceive
nothing to admire, nothing to adore. Were the hand which moves all worlds to
arrest the sun in the heavens and cause it to stand still for even an hour,
they might say, This is the Lord. But the sun may rise, and run his course,
and duly set three hundred and sixty-five times in the year—and nothing is
said or thought of him, at whose rebuke the pillars of heaven tremble, and
by whose ordinance the everlasting mountains and the order of universal
nature have their stability. "A brutish man knows not, neither does a fool
understand." Psalm 92:6. Such men virtually or actually say—The Lord doesn’t
see it. The God of Jacob doesn't pay attention." Psalm 94:7. "The wicked say
to themselves--'God isn't watching! He will never notice!' Arise, O Lord!
Punish the wicked, O God!" Psalm 10:11-12. To correct such errors is one
object of revelation. Scripture puts the stamp of wickedness on all such
thoughts as allow men to believe that they may act independently of God.
God is above all law, being himself absolutely
independent and supreme. His own infinitely excellent nature is the law of
his being and of his action. This very nature fits him in all respects to be
the ruler of the world.
God's providence is HOLY.
Because God is holy, his providence is holy in all its works. He plots no
mischief, works no evil, favors no sin; but in the winding up of human
affairs, he will bring a terrible overthrow on all the workers of iniquity.
He hates sin with a perfect hatred. To him it is a horrible thing. Jer.
5:30. It cannot be proven that God hates anything but sin. Nor has any
mortal an adequate conception of the intensity of the aversion of the divine
mind to every form and species of iniquity. "Who shall not fear you, O Lord,
and glorify your name? for you alone are holy." Rev. 15:4. Indeed, the bliss
of the heavenly world depends upon the absolute and unqualified confidence
of saints and angels in the infinite rectitude of God's nature. Isaiah 6:3.
"The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." Psalm
God's providence is JUST.
From God's holiness necessarily results his justice. Dr. Woods, "The plan of
providence is such that sin will be stigmatized and sinners punished, while
holiness will be honored, and those who are holy rewarded." Justice is
certainly an amiable attribute in any person or government. By a fiction of
law under the British Constitution, "The king can do no wrong." The reason
is that his ministers are responsible. But it is no fiction of law or
theology that the Judge of all the earth can only do right. Gen. 18:25. In
the worship of the temple not made with hands, they sing, "Great and
marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, O
King of saints." Rev. 15:3.
God's providence is BENEVOLENT.
Indeed, God's tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145:9. "The same
benevolence, which prompted him to create the world, must prompt him to
preserve and govern it." "When we consider the care of providence over
people, as it is manifested either in the works of nature or of grace, we
naturally fall into the reflection, 'What is man, that you are mindful of
him? and the son of man, that you visit him?' and we wonder to see so much
done for men, who seem to have no merit or desert equal to the concern
showed for them."
God's providence is WISE.
In it are no gaps, no failures, no mistakes, no oversights. "The same wisdom
which contrived such a wonderful and glorious a system—can and will direct
and control it." God's plans embrace all causes and all effects, all facts
and all contingencies, all actions and all words. Therefore it is impossible
that he should be thwarted. It is infinitely easy for him to take the wise
in their own craftiness. Pharaoh, the greatest monarch of his time, one
whose kingdom embraced much of the wealth, learning, and civilization of the
world, and who was surrounded by able men—said to his council of state,
"Come on, let us deal wisely with them." Ex. 1:10. They formed their plans.
Yet, from first to last they were encompassed with difficulties. And they
were followed by terrific judgments. Go now and stand with Moses and Aaron
and Miriam on the banks of the Red Sea, and behold the end of all their
'wise plans.' Pharaoh's army and his chosen captains have perished. The
depths have covered them—they sank to the bottom as a stone—they sank as
lead in the mighty waters. All the amazing operations of vegetation are by
inspired men ascribed to the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in working. Isaiah 28:29. "O Lord, how manifold are your
works! in wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your riches.
So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both
small and great beasts." Psalm 104:24, 25.
God's providence is SUPREME, and therefore SOVEREIGN.
It is over all and above all. He has no divided dominion. He is sole arbiter
of events and destinies. He says, "See now that I, even I, am he, and there
is no God with me—I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal—neither is
there any that can deliver out of my hand." Deut. 32:39. "I am the first,
and I am the last; and besides me there is no God." Isaiah 44:6. "I am the
Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me, . . . there is no
God else beside me—a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me." Isaiah
45:5, 21. So that it is as clear that God rules alone—as that he rules at
all; that he rules everywhere—as that he rules anywhere; that he governs all
agents, all causes, and all events—as that he governs any of them!
To surrender in whole or in part, his control of the
universe would be to admit that he was not God—that another was as strong,
as wise, or as good as himself. Isaiah 41:23. It would argue some defect in
him, who has all perfection. An angel would be burdened with the sole charge
of one man; because an angel is a finite creature, and has none but derived
attributes. But the care of the universe is no burden to the
Almighty—because he is God! His will is the law of all worlds. He stretched
out the earth above the waters. "For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord
is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on
earth, in the seas and all the depths!" Psalm 135:5-6. "All the inhabitants
of the earth are reputed as nothing—and he does according to his will in the
army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth—and none can stay his
hand, or say unto him, What do you?" Dan. 4:35. "The Lord is high above all
nations, and his glory above the heavens." Psalm 113:4. "Our God is in
heaven and does whatever He pleases!" Psalm 115:3.
God's providence is SURE and STABLE.
Whoever wishes to walk securely, needs but to conform
himself to its settled provisions and principles. Proverbs 10:9. Never did
his Word fail. Greatly was the Psalmist comforted with this view of the
stability of God's government, "Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in
heaven. Your faithfulness is unto all generations—you have established the
earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to your ordinances;
for all are your servants." Psalm 119:89-91; compare Proverbs 19:21 and
God's providence is POWERFUL and IRRESISTIBLE.
His providence not only consults—it also
executes. It not only devises—it also puts into operation. It not only sees
how evil may be prevented—it also prevents evil. It is so powerful that it
even brings good out of evil—making wicked men and fallen angels to serve
God's designs, while they intend no such thing. It is so powerful that it
gives the greatest efficiency to causes apparently the most contemptible;
and infallibly secures the accomplishment of the very best ends. The author
of Providence is "the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come—the
Almighty." Rev. 1:8.
All the other attributes of God would not avail us—if he
had not omnipotence, whereby to enforce and execute his will. All other
properties of his providence would fail to give effectual consolation—if it
lacked divine power. No marvel therefore that the Scriptures so frequently
celebrate the triumphs of Omnipotence. Otherwise the wicked would say—Where
is their rock in whom they have trusted? As to the Assyrian, so to every
foe, Jehovah says, "Because your raging against Me and your arrogance have
reached My ears, I will put My hook in your nose and My bit in your mouth; I
will make you go back the way you came." 2 Kings 19:28. It will be for an
everlasting rejoicing to all the righteous that when God makes a covenant of
peace with his people, he is able to cause the evil beasts to cease out of
the land—so that his people may dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in
the woods. By his almighty power he brings mariners out of their distresses.
He makes the storm a calm, so that the waves are still. All conspiracies and
combinations against God's providence are vain!