Body of Divinity

By Thomas Watson

11. The UNITY of God.

Question 5: Are there more Gods than one?

Answer: There is but one only, the living and true God.

That there is a God has been proved; and those who will not believe the unity of his essence, shall feel the severity of his wrath. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." He is "the only God." "Know therefore this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath, there is none else." "A just God and a Savior; there is none beside me." There are many ceremonial gods. Kings represent God; their regal scepter is an emblem of his power and authority. Judges are called gods. "I have said, You are gods," Psalm 82:6, namely," set in God's place to do justice; but these are dying gods. "But in death you are mere men. You will fall as any prince, for all must die." Verse 7. "There are those who are called gods—but to us there is but one God."

I. There is but one First Cause that has its Being of itself, and on which all other beings depend. As in the heavens, the primum mobile moves all the other orbs; so God gives life and motion to everything that exists. There can be but one God, because there is but one First Cause.

II. There is but one infinite Being, therefore there is but one God. There cannot be two infinites. "Do not I fill heaven and earth, says the Lord?" Jer 23:34. If there is one infinite, filling all places at once—how can there be any room for another infinite to subsist?

III. There is but one Omnipotent Power. If there be two Omnipotents, then we must always suppose a contest between these two: that which one would do, the other power, being equal, would oppose, and so all things would be brought into confusion. If a ship should have two pilots of equal power, one would be ever crossing the other; when one would sail, the other would cast anchor; there would be confusion, and the ship must perish. The order and harmony in the world, or the constant and uniform government of all things—is a clear argument that there is but one Omnipotent, one God who rules all. "I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God."


(1.) If there be but one God, then it excludes all other gods. Some have imagined that there were two gods; others, that there were many gods; as the Polytheists. The Persians worshiped the sun; the Egyptians the lion and elephant; the Grecians worshiped Jupiter. These "are in error, not knowing the Scriptures." Their faith is a fable. "God has given them up to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned."

(2.) If there be but one God, then there can be but one true true religion in the world. "One Lord, one faith." If there were many gods, then there might be many religions, and every God would be worshiped in his way; but if there is but one God, there is but one true religion; one Lord, one faith. Some say, we may be saved in any religion; but it is absurd to imagine that God who is One in essence, should appoint many different religions in which he will be worshiped. It is as dangerous to set up a false religion, as to set up a false God. There are many ways to hell; men may go there whichever way their fancy leads them; but there is only one true road to heaven, namely, faith and holiness. There is no way to be saved, but this. As there is but one God, so there is but one true religion.

(3.) If there be but one God, then there is but One whom you need chiefly to study to please—and that is God. If there were many gods, we would be hard put to it to please them all. One would command one thing, another the contrary; and to please two contrary masters is impossible; but there is only one God. Therefore you have but One to please. As in a kingdom there is but one king, therefore everyone seeks to ingratiate himself into his favor. Just so, there is but one true God; therefore our main work is to please him. Be sure to please God, whoever else you displease. This was Enoch's wisdom. He had this testimony before he died, that "he pleased God."

What does this pleasing God imply?

(1.) We please God when we comply with his will. It was Christ's food and drink to do his Father's will, John 4:44, and so he pleased him, A voice came from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." "It is the will of God that we should be holy." Now, when we are bespangled with holiness, our lives are walking Bibles. This is according to God's will, and it pleases him.

(2.) We please God when we do the work that he sets us about. "I have finished the work which you gave me to do," namely, my mediatorial work. Many finish their lives—but do not finish their work. The work God has cut out for us is, to observe the first and second tables of the law. In the first is set down our duty towards God; in the second our duty towards man. Such as make morality the chief and sole part of true religion, set the second table above the first; nay, they take away the first table; for, if prudence, justice, temperance, is enough to save, then what need do we have for the first table? Thus our worship towards God will be quite left out; but those two tables which God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

(3.) We please God when we dedicate our hearts to give him the best of everything. Abel gave God the fat of the offering. Gen 4:4. Domitian would not have his image carved in wood, or iron—but in gold. We please God when we serve him with love, fervency, and alacrity. These are golden services. There is but one God, therefore there is but One whom we have chiefly to please, namely, God.

(4.) If there is but one God, then we must pray to none but God. The Papists pray to saints and angels.

(a.) The Papists pray to saints. A Popish writer says, "when we pray to the departed saints, they being touched with compassion, say the same prayer to God for us. The saints above know not our needs; even if they did, we have no warrant to pray to them. "Abraham is ignorant of us." Prayer is a part of divine worship, which must be given to God alone.

(b.) The Papists pray to angels. Angel-worship is forbidden. Col 2:18, 19. That we may not pray to angels is clear from Rom 10:14. "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" We may not pray to any, but whom we may believe in; but we may not believe in any angel, therefore we may not pray to him. There is but one God, and it is a sin to invoke any but God.

(5.) If there be but one God, who is "above all," then he must be loved above all. We must love him with a love of appreciation. This is to set the highest estimate on him, who is the only fountain of being and bliss. We must love him with a love of delight. "The lover's effort to please the beloved, this is love." Aquinas. Our love to other things must be more indifferent. Some drops of love may run to the creature—but the full stream must run towards God. The creature may have the milk of our love—but we must keep the cream for God. He who is above all, must be loved above all. "Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever." Psalms 73:25-26.

Use two: CAUTION. If there be but one God, then let us take heed of setting up more gods than one. "Those who chase after other gods will be filled with sorrow. I will not take part in their sacrifices or even speak the names of their gods." Psalm 16:4. God is a jealous God, and he will not endure that we should have other gods. It is easy to commit idolatry with the creature.

(1.) Some make a god of pleasure. "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." Whatever we love more than God we make a God.

(2.) Others make money their god. The covetous man worships the image of gold, therefore he is called an idolater. Eph 5:5. That which a man trusts to, he makes his God; but he makes the wedge of gold his hope; he makes money his creator, redeemer, and comforter. Money is his creator; if he has money, he thinks he is made. Money is his redeemer; if he be in danger, he trusts in his money to redeem him. Money is his comforter; if at any time he is sad, the golden harp drives away the evil spirit. It is clear that money is his God. God made man out of the dust of the earth; and man makes a god out of the dust of the earth.

(3.) Another makes a god of his child, sets his child in God's place, and so provokes God to take it away. If you lean too hard upon glass it will break, so many break their children by leaning too hard upon them.

(4.) Others make a god of their belly. "Whose god is their belly." Phil 3:19. Clement of Alexandria writes of a fish that has its heart in its belly; this is a fit emblem of epicures—their heart is in their belly; they mind nothing but indulging the sensual appetite; their belly is their God, and to this they pour drink-offerings.

Thus men make many gods. The apostle names the wicked man's trinity, "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," 1 John 2:16. The lust of the flesh is pleasure; the lust of the eye is money; the pride of life is honor. Oh take heed of this! Whatever you deify beside God, will prove a bramble—and fire will come out of it and devour you! Judg 9:15.

Use three: REPROOF. If the Lord Jehovah is the only true God, it reproves those who renounce the true God, I mean such as seek to familiar spirits, which is too much practiced among those who call themselves Christians. It is a sin condemned by the law of God. "And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord." Deuteronomy 18:10-12. How common is this! If people have lost any of their goods, they send to wizards to know how they may obtain them again. What is this but consulting with the devil! What! because you have lost your goods, will you lose your souls too? "Thus says the Lord, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you send to enquire of Beelzebub?" So, is it not because you think there is not a God in heaven, that you ask counsel of the devil? If any here are guilty, be deeply humbled, you have renounced the true God. Better be without the goods you have lost, than have the devil help you to them again!


(1.) If there be but one God, as God is one, so let those who serve him be one. This is what Christ prayed so heartily for. "That they all may be one." Christians should be—

(a.) One in judgment. The apostle exhorts to be all of one mind. "Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won't be divisions in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose." 1 Corinthians 1:10. How sad is it to see true religion wearing a coat of many colors; to see Christians of so many opinions, and going so many different ways! It is Satan who has sown these tares of division. "The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil" Matthew 13:39. He first divided men from God, and then one man from another.

(b.) One in affection. They should have one heart. "The multitude of those who believed were of one heart, and of one soul." As in music, though there are several strings of a violin—yet all make one sweet harmony; so, though there are several Christians—yet there should be one sweet harmony of affection among them. There is but one God, and those who serve him should be one. There is nothing that would render the true true religion more lovely, or make more proselytes to it, than to see its professors tied together with the heart-strings of love. "Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is, to see brethren live together in unity!" It is as the sweet dew on Hermon, and the fragrant ointment poured on Aaron's head. If God is one, let all who profess him be of one mind, and one heart—and thus fulfill Christ's prayer, "that they all may be one."

(2.) If there be but one God, let us labor to make clear the title that this God is ours. "This God is our God." What comfort can it be to hear that there is a God, and that he is the only God—unless he is our God? What is Deity—without property in him? Oh let us labor to make clear the title! Beg the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works by faith. By faith we are one with Christ, and through Christ we come to have God for our God, and thus all his glorious fullness is made over to us by a deed of gift.

Use five: GRATITUDE. What cause have we to be thankful—that we have the knowledge of the only true God! How many are brought up in blindness! Some worship Mahomet. Many of the Indians worship the devil; they light a candle to him, that he may not hurt them. Such as know not the true God—must needs stumble into hell in the dark! Oh let us be thankful that we are born in such a land, where the light of the gospel has shone. To have the knowledge of the true God is more than if we had mines of gold, rocks of diamonds, islands of spices; especially if God has savingly revealed himself to us; if he has given us eyes to see the light; if we so know God as to be known of him, to love him, and believe in him. "Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear." Matthew 13:16. We can never be thankful enough to God—that he has hidden the knowledge of himself from the wise and prudent of the world, and has revealed it unto us! "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." Matthew 11:25-26.


12. The TRINITY.

Question 6. How many Persons are there in the Godhead?

Answer: Three persons—yet but one God.

"There are three who bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one."

God is but one—yet are there three distinct persons subsisting in one Godhead. This is a sacred mystery, which the light within man could never have discovered. As the two natures in Christ—yet but one person, is a wonder; so there are three persons—yet but one Godhead. Here is a great deep—the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God—yet not three Gods, but one God. The three persons in the blessed Trinity are distinguished—but not divided; three substances—but one essence. This is a divine riddle where one makes three, and three make one. Our narrow thoughts can no more comprehend the Trinity in Unity, than a nut-shell will hold all the water in the sea. Let me shadow it out by a similitude.

In the body of the sun, there are—
the substance of the sun,
the beams,
and the heat.

The beams are begotten by the sun, the heat proceeds both from the sun and the beams; but these three, though different, are not divided; they all three make but one sun. Just so in the blessed Trinity—the Son is begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeds from both; yet though they are three distinct persons, they are but one God. First, let me speak of the Unity in Trinity; then of the Trinity in Unity.

I. Of the Unity in Trinity. The Unity of the persons in the Godhead consists of two things.

[1] The identity of essence. In the Trinity there is a oneness in essence. The three persons are of the same divine nature and substance; so that there are no degrees in the Godhead; one person is not God more than another.

[2] The Unity of the persons in the Godhead consists in the mutual inbeing of them, or their being in one together. The three persons are so united that one person is in another, and with another. "You, Father, are in me, and I in you."

II. Let me speak of the Trinity in Unity.

[1] The first person in the Trinity is God the Father. He is called the first person, in respect of order, not dignity: for God the Father has no essential perfection which the other persons have not; he is not more wise, more holy, more powerful than the other persons are. There is a priority—not a superiority.

[2] The second person in the Trinity is Jesus Christ, who is begotten of the Father before all time. "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth." This Scripture declares the eternal generation of the Son of God. This second person in the Trinity, who is Jehovah, has become our Jesus. The Scripture calls him the branch of David, and I may call him the flower of our nature. "By him all that believe are justified."

[3] The third person in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, whose work is to illuminate the mind, and enkindle sacred motions. The essence of the Spirit is in heaven, and everywhere; but his influence is in the hearts of believers. This is that blessed Spirit who gives us the holy unction. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." 1 John 2:20. Though Christ merits grace for us, it is the Holy Spirit who works it in us. Though Christ makes the purchase, it is the Holy Spirit that makes the assurance, and seals us to the day of redemption.

Thus I have spoken of all the three persons. The Trinity of persons may be proved, "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17. Here are three names given to the three persons. He who spoke with a voice from heaven was God the Father; he who was baptized in Jordan was God the Son; he who descended in the likeness of a dove was God the Holy Spirit. Thus I have shown you the Unity of essence, and the Trinity of persons.

Use one: For confutation.

(1.) This confutes the Jews and Turks, who believe only the first person in the Godhead. Take away the distinction of the persons in the Trinity, and you overthrow man's redemption; for God the Father being offended with man for sin, how shall he be pacified without a mediator? This mediator is Christ, who makes our peace. Christ having died, and shed his blood, how shall this blood be applied, but by the Holy Spirit? Therefore, if there are not three persons in the Godhead, man's salvation cannot be wrought out; if there is no second person in the Trinity, there is no redeemer; if no third person, there is no comforter. Thus the plank is taken away by which we get to heaven.

(2.) It confutes the execrable opinion of the Socinians, who deny the Divinity of the Lord Jesus, and make him to be a creature only—but of a higher rank. As the Papists blot out the second commandment, so the Socinians blot out the second person in the Trinity. If to oppose Christ's members is a sin, what is it to oppose Christ himself? Jesus Christ is co-equal with God the Father. He thought it no robbery to be equal with God. He is co-eternal with God the Father: "I was from the beginning," if not, there was a time when God was without a Son, and so he would be no Father; nay, there was a time when God was without his glory, for Christ is "the brightness of his Father's glory." Jesus is co-essential with God the Father. The Godhead subsists in Christ. "In whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." It is said, not only that Christ was with God before the beginning—but that he was God. John 1:1, and 1 Tim 3:16. "God manifest in the flesh." The title of Lord, so often given to Christ, in the New Testament, answers to the title of Jehovah in the Old. Christ has a co-eternity, and co-substantiality with his Father. "I and my Father are one." It were blasphemy for a mere angel to speak thus. Yet further to prove Christ's Godhead, consider:

(a.) The glorious incommunicable attributes belonging to God the Father, are ascribed to Christ. Is God the Father omnipotent? So is Jesus Christ. He is the almighty, Rev 1:1, and he creates, Col 1:16. Is God the Father infinitely immense, filling all places? So is Jesus Christ. While Christ was on the earth by his bodily presence, he was at the same time in the bosom of the Father by his divine presence.

(b.) The same royal prerogatives, which belong to God the Father, belong also to Christ. Does God the Father seal pardons? This is a flower of Christ's crown. "Your sins are forgiven." Nor does Christ remit sin as ministers do, by virtue of a power delegated to them from God; but he does it by his own power and authority. Is God the Father the adequate object of faith? Is he to be believed in? So is his Son. "Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14:1 Does adoration belong to God the Father? So it does to the Son. "Let all the angels of God worship him." How sacrilegious therefore is the Socinian, who would rob Christ of his Godhead, the best flower of his crown. They who deny Christ to be God, must greatly twist, or else deny the Scripture to be the Word of God.

(3.) It confutes the Arians, who deny the Holy Spirit to be God. The eternal Godhead subsists in the Holy Spirit. "He shall guide you into all truth." Christ speaks not there of an attribute—but of a person. That the Godhead subsists in the person of the Holy Spirit appears in this; that the Spirit, who gives diversity of gifts, is said to be the same Lord, and the same God. The black and unpardonable sin is said, in a special manner, to be committed against the Godhead subsisting in the Holy Spirit. "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Matthew 12:31-32.

The mighty power of God is made manifest by the Holy Spirit; for he changes the hearts of men. The devil would have Christ prove himself to be God, by turning stones into bread; but the Holy Spirit shows his Godhead by turning stones into flesh. "I will take away the stony heart; and give you a heart of flesh." Yet further, the power and Godhead of the Holy Spirit appeared in effecting the glorious conception of our Lord Jesus Christ. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35.

The Holy Spirit works miracles, which transcend the sphere of nature; such as raising the dead. To him belongs divine worship; our souls and bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, in which temples he is to be worshiped. We are baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit; therefore we must believe his Godhead, or renounce our baptism in his name. Methinks it were better for such men not to have so much as heard whether there is any Holy Spirit, than to deny his Deity. They who would wittingly and willingly blot out the third person—shall have their names blotted out of the book of life!

Use two: For exhortation.

(1.) Believe this doctrine of the Trinity of persons in the unity of essence. The Trinity is solely an object of faith; the plumbline of reason is too short to fathom this mystery. But where reason cannot wade—there faith may swim! There are some truths in religion that may be demonstrated by reason; as that there is a God. But the Trinity of persons in the Unity of essence, is wholly supernatural, and must be believed by faith. This sacred doctrine is not against reason—but above it. Those illuminated philosophers, who could find out the causes of things, and discourse of the magnitude and influence of the stars, the nature of minerals; could never, by their deepest search, find out the mystery of the Trinity. This is of divine revelation, and must be adored with humble faith. We cannot be good Christians, without the firm belief of the Trinity. How can we pray to God the Father but in the name of Christ, and through the help of the Spirit?

How are the Quakers to be abhorred, who go under the name of Christians, and yet undervalue and renounce Jesus Christ! I have read of some Quakers who speak thus: "We deny the person of him whom you call Christ, and affirm, That they who expect to be saved by that Christ without works, will be damned in that faith!" Could the devil himself speak worse blasphemy? They would pull up all true religion by the roots, and take away that corner stone, on which the hope of our salvation is built.

(2.) If there be one God subsisting in three persons, then let us give equal reverence to all the persons in the Trinity. There is not one who is more or less in the Trinity; the Father is not more God than the Son and Holy Spirit. There is an order in the Godhead—but no degrees; one person has not a majority or supereminence above another; therefore we must give equal worship to all the persons. "That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father." Adore Unity in Trinity.

(3.) Obey all the persons in the blessed Trinity; for all of them are God. Obey God the FATHER. Christ himself, as man, obeyed God the Father, much more must we.

Obey God the SON. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." Kiss him with a kiss of obedience. Christ's commands are not grievous. Whatever he commands, is for our interest and benefit. Oh then kiss the Son! Why do the elders throw down their crowns at the feet of Christ, and fall down before the Lamb? To testify their subjection, and to profess their readiness to serve and obey him.

Obey God the HOLY SPIRIT. Our souls are breathed into us by the glorious Spirit. "The Spirit of God has made me." Our souls are adorned by the blessed Spirit. Every grace is a divine spark lighted in the soul, by the Holy Spirit. Nay, more, the Spirit sanctified Christ's human nature; he united it with the divine, and fitted the man Christ to be our Mediator. Well then does this third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, deserve to be obeyed; for he is God, and this tribute of homage and obedience is due to him from us.


13. The Creation.

Question 7: What are the DECREES of God?

Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he has foreordained whatever shall come to pass.

I have already spoken something concerning the decrees of God under the attribute of his immutability. God is unchangeable in his essence, and he is unchangeable in his decrees; his counsel shall stand. He decrees the outcome of all things, and carries them on to their accomplishment by his providence. I shall proceed therefore to the execution of his decrees.

Question 8: What is the work of CREATION?

Answer: It is God's making all things from nothing, by the word of his power. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

The creation is glorious to behold, and it is a pleasant and profitable study. Some think that when Isaac went abroad into the fields to meditate, it was in the book of creation.

Creation is the heathen's Bible, the ploughman's primer, and the traveler's map, through which they receive a representation of the infinite excellencies which are in God. The creation is a large volume, in which God's works are bound up; and this volume has three great pages in it—heaven, earth, and sea.

The author of the creation is God, as it is in the text, "God created." The world was created in time, and could not be from eternity. The world must have a maker, and could not make itself. If one should go into a far country, and see stately edifices, he would never imagine that they could build themselves—but that there had been some artificer to raise such majestic structures. Just so, this great fabric of the world could not create itself, it must have some builder or maker, and that is God. "In the beginning God created." To imagine that the work of the creation was not framed by the Lord Jehovah, is as if we should conceive a beautiful painting to be drawn without the hand of an artist. "God made the world and all things therein."

In the work of creation there are two things to be considered:

1. The making.

2. The adorning.

I. The MAKING of the world. Here consider,

[1] God made the world without any pre-existent matter. This is the difference between generation and creation. In generation there is suitable material at hand, some matter to work upon; but in creation there is no pre-existent matter. God brought all this glorious fabric of the world, out of the womb of nothing. Our beginning was of nothing. Some brag of their birth and ancestry; but how little cause have they to boast, who came from nothing.

[2] God made the world with a word. When Solomon had to build a temple he needed many workmen, and they all had tools to work with—but God wrought without tools. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made." Psalm 33:3. The disciples wondered that Christ could calm the sea with a word; but it was more to make the sea with a word.

[3] God made all things at first very good, without any defect or deformity. The creation came out of God's hands as a pure piece; it was a spotless copy, without any blot, written with God's own fingers. His work was perfect.

II. The ADORNING of the world. God made this great lump and mass, with neither shape nor order; and then beautified it. He divided the sea and the earth, he decked the earth with flowers, the trees with fruit. But what is beauty when it is masked over? Therefore, that we might behold this glory, God made the light. The heavens were bespangled with the sun, moon, and stars—so that the world's beauty might be beheld and admired. God, in the creation, began with things less noble and excellent, rocks and vegetables; and then the rational creatures, angels and men. Man is the most exquisite piece in the creation. He is a microcosm, or little world. Man was made with deliberation and counsel. "Let us make man." It is the manner of artificers to be more than ordinarily accurate when they are about their masterpieces. Man was to be the masterpiece of this visible world, therefore God consulted about making so rare a piece. A solemn council of the sacred persons in the Trinity was called. "Let us make man, and let us make him in our own image." On the king's coin, his own image is stamped; so God stamped his image on man, and made him partaker of many divine qualities.

[1] I shall speak of the parts of man's BODY.

(1.) The head, the most excellent architectural part, is the fountain of thought, and the seat of reason. In nature the head is the best piece—but in grace the heart excels.

(2.) The eye is the beauty of the face; it shines and sparkles like a lesser sun in the body. The eye occasions much sin, and therefore we may well have tears in it.

(3.) The ear is the conduit-pipe through which knowledge is conveyed. Better lose our seeing than our hearing, for "faith comes by hearing." To have an ear open to God is the best jewel on the ear.

(4.) The tongue. David calls the tongue his glory, because it is an instrument to set forth the glory of God. The soul at first was a violin in tune to praise God, and the tongue made the music. God has given us two ears—but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear—but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue—the teeth, and the lips—to teach us to be wary that we do not sin with our tongue.

(5.) The heart is a noble part, and the seat of life.

[2] I shall speak of the SOUL of man. This is the man of the man. Man, in regard of his soul, partakes with the angels. The understanding, will, and conscience, are a looking-glass which resembles the Trinity. The soul is the diamond in the ring, it is a vessel of honor; God himself is served in this vessel. It is a spark of celestial brightness, says Damascene. David admired the rare context and workmanship of his body. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:13-14. If the cabinet of the body is so wonderfully made, what is the jewel of the soul? How richly is the soul embroidered! Thus you see how glorious a work the creation is, and man especially, who is the epitome of the world.

But why did God make the world?

(1.) Negatively. Not for himself; for he did not need it, being infinite. He was happy in reflecting upon his own sublime excellencies and perfections before the world was.

God did not make the world to be a mansion for us, since we are not to abide here forever. Heaven is our mansion house. The world is only a passage-room to eternity; the world is to us as the wilderness was to Israel, not to rest in—but to travel through to the glorious Canaan. The world is a dressing-room to dress our souls in, not a place where we are to stay forever. The apostle tells us of the world's funeral. "The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." 2 Pet 3:10.

(2.) Positively. God made the world to demonstrate his own glory. The world is a looking glass, in which we may see the power and goodness of God shine forth. "The heavens declare the glory of God." The world is like a wonderful piece of tapestry, in which we may see the skill and wisdom of him who made it.

Use one: Did God create this world?

(1.) This convinces us of the truth of his Godhead. To create is proper to a Deity. Plato was convinced of a Deity when he saw that not all the people in the world could not make a fly. Thus God proves himself to be the true God, and distinguishes himself from idols. "Say this to those who worship other gods: Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth." Jeremiah 10:11. Who but God can create? The creation is enough to convince the heathen, that there is a God. There are two books out of which God will judge and condemn the heathen, namely, the book of Conscience, "Which shows the work of the law written in their hearts," and the book of the Creation, "From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse." Romans 1:20. The world is full of divine emblems and hieroglyphics. Every star in the sky, every bird that flies in the air, is a witness against the heathen. A creature could not make itself.

(2.) It is a mighty support of faith, that God creates. He who made all things with a word, what can he not do? He can create strength in weakness; he can create a supply of our needs. What a foolish question was that, "Can he prepare a table in the wilderness?" Cannot he who made the world do much more? "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Rest on this God who made heaven and earth, for help. As the work of creation is a monument of God's power, so it is a support to faith. Is your heart hard? He can with a word create softness. Is it unclean? He can create purity. "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Is the church of God low? He can create Jerusalem a praise. There is no such golden pillar for faith to rest upon, as a creating power.

(3.) Did God make this world full of beauty and glory, everything very good? Then, what an evil thing is SIN, which has put out of frame the whole creation! Sin has much eclipsed the beauty, soured the sweetness, and marred the harmony of the world. How bitter is that gall, a drop whereof can embitter a whole sea! Sin has brought vanity and vexation into the world, yes, a curse. God cursed the ground because of man's sin. There were several fruits of the curse—

"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life." By painful toil is to be understood all the troubles and cares of this life.

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food." In innocence Adam tilled the ground, for he must not live idly; but it was rather a delight than a labor. That tilling was without toiling. The eating in sorrow, and the sweat of the brow, came in after sin.

"Thorns and thistles shall the ground bring forth." Did the earth in in a state of innocence bear thorns, though they were afterwards threatened as a punishment? It is likely it did bear thorns; for, when God had done creating, he made no new species or kinds of things; but the meaning is—Now, after sin, the earth should bring forth more plentifully of thorns, and now those thorns should be hurtful, and choke the corn, which hurtful quality was not in them before. Ever since the fall, all the comforts of this life have a thorn and a thistle in them!

The fourth fruit of the curse was the driving of man out of paradise. "So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden." God at first brought Adam into paradise as into a house ready furnished, or as a king into his palace. "Have dominion over every living thing that moves." God's driving Adam out of paradise signified his dethroning and banishing him, that he might look after a heavenly and a better paradise.

A fifth fruit of the curse was death. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Death was not natural to Adam—but came in after sin. As the apostle says. "By sin came death." See then how cursed a thing sin is, which has brought so many curses upon the creation. If we will not hate sin for its deformity, let us hate it for the curse it brings!

(4.) Did God make this glorious world? Did he make everything good? Was there in the creature so much beauty and sweetness? Oh! then what sweetness is there in God? The cause is always more noble than the effect. Think with yourselves—is there so much excellence in house and lands? Then how much more is there in God, who made them! Is there beauty in a rose? What beauty then is there in Christ, the Rose of Sharon! Does oil make the face shine? How will the light of God's countenance make it shine! Does wine cheer the heart? Oh! what virtue is there in the true vine! How does the blood of this grape cheer the heart! Is the fruit of the garden sweet? How delicious are the fruits of the Spirit! Is a gold mine so precious? How precious is he who founded this mine! What is Christ, in whom are hid all treasures?

We should ascend from the creature to the Creator. If there is any comfort below, how much more is there in God, who made all these things! How unreasonable is it that we should delight in the world, and not much more in him who made it! How should our hearts be set on God, and how should we long to be with God—who has infinitely more sweetness in him than any creature!


(1.) Did God create the world? Let us wisely observe the works of creation. God has given us not only the book of the Scriptures to read in—but the book of the creation. Look up to the heavens, for they show much of God's glory. The sun gilds the world with its bright beams. Behold the stars, their regular motion in their orbs, their magnitude, their light and their influence. We may see God's glory blazing in the sun and twinkling in the stars. Look into the sea, and see the wonders of God in the deep. Psalm 107:74. Look into the air, there the birds make melody, and sing forth the praises of their Creator. Look into the earth, there we may wonder at the nature of minerals, the power of the loadstone, the virtue of herbs. See the earth decked as a bride with flowers. All these are the glorious effects of God's power. God has wrought the creation as with curious needlework, that we may observe his wisdom and goodness, and give him the praise due to him. "O Lord, how manifold are your works! in wisdom have you made them all!"

(2.) Did God create all things? Let us obey our Maker. We are his by right of creation, we owe ourselves to him. If another gives us our maintenance, we think ourselves bound to serve him; much more should we serve and obey God who gives us our life. "In him we live and move and have our being." God has made everything for man's service; the grain for nourishment, the animals for usefulness, the birds for music, that man should be for God's service. The rivers come from the sea—and they run into the sea again. All we have is from God. Let us honor our Creator, and live to him who made us.

(3.) Did God make our bodies out of the dust, and that dust out of nothing? Let this keep down pride. When God would humble Adam he uses this expression, "Out of the dust were you taken." Why are you proud, O dust and ashes? You are made but of dirt. "Since you are humble, why do you not walk humbly?" Bernard. David says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Your being wonderfully made, may make you thankful; but being made of the dust, may keep you humble. If you have beauty, it is but well-colored dirt! Your body is but air and dust mingled together, and this dust will deteriorate back into the dust. When the Lord had said of the judges, they were gods, Psalm 82:6, lest they should grow proud he told them they were dying gods. "But you will die like mere men." Verse 7.

(4.) Did God create our souls after his image—but we lost it? Let us never rest until we are restored to God's image again. We have now got the devil's image in pride, malice, and envy. Let us get God's image restored, which consists in knowledge and righteousness. Grace is our best beauty, it makes us like God and angels. As the sun is to the world, so is holiness to the soul. Let us go to God to restore his image in us. "Lord! you have once made me, make me anew; sin has defaced your image in me, oh draw it again by the pencil of the Holy Spirit!"


14. The PROVIDENCE of God.

Question 11: What are God's works of Providence?

Answer: God's works of providence are the acts of his most holy, wise, and powerful government of his creatures, and of their actions.

Of the work of God's providence Christ says, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." God has rested from the works of creation, he does not create any new species of things. "He rested from all his works;" and therefore it must needs be meant of his works of providence: "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." "His kingdom rules over all;" that is, his providential kingdom. Now, for the clearing of this point, I shall—

I. Show you that there is a providence.

2. What that providence is.

3. Lay down some maxims or propositions concerning the providence of God.

I. That there is a providence. There is no such thing as chance or blind fate—but there is a providence which guides and governs the world. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." Prov 16:33.

II. What this providence is. I answer, Providence is God's ordering all outcomes and events of things, after the counsel of his will, to his own glory.

[1] I call providence—God's ordering things, to distinguish it from his decrees. God's decree ordains things that shall happens, God's providence orders them.

[2] I call providence the ordering of things after the counsel of God's will.

[3] God orders all events of things, after the counsel of his will, to his own glory; his glory being the ultimate end of all his actings, and the center where all the lines of providence meet. The providence of God is "the queen and governess of the world." It is the eye which sees, and the hand which turns all the wheels in the universe. God is not like an artificer who builds a house, and then leaves it—but like a pilot, he steers the ship of the whole creation.

III. Propositions about God's providence.

[1] God's providence reaches to all places, persons, and affairs.

(1.) God's providence reaches to all PLACES. "Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off?" The diocese where Providence visits, is very large; it reaches to heaven, earth, and sea. "I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me." Psalm 139:7-10. Now, that the sea, which is higher than the earth, should not drown the earth, is a wonder of Providence. The prophet Jonah saw the wonders of God in the deep, when the very fish which devoured him and swallowed him brought him safe to shore.

(2.) God's providence reaches to all PERSONS, especially the persons of the godly, who in a special manner are taken notice of. God takes care of every saint in particular, as if he had none else to care for. "He cares for you," that is, God cares for the elect in a special manner. "The But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine." Psalm 33:18-19. God by his providential care shields off dangers from his people, and sets a life-guard of angels about them. "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." Psalm 34:7. God's providence keeps the very bones of the saints. "The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and every one. For the Lord protects them from harm— not one of their bones will be broken! Psalms 34:19-20. It bottles their tears. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8. It strengthens the saints in their weakness. Heb 11:34. It supplies all their needs out of its alms basket. "You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies." Psalm 23:5. Thus Providence wonderfully supplies the needs of the elect.

When the Protestants in Rochelle were besieged by the French king, God by his providence sent a great number of small fish to feed them, such as were never seen before in that haven. So the raven, that unnatural creature (that will hardly feed its own young), providentially brought sustenance to the prophet Elijah. The Virgin Mary, through bearing and bringing forth the Messiah, helped to make the world rich—yet she herself was very poor; and now, being warned of the angel to go into Egypt, she had scarce enough to bear her expenses there; but see how God provides for her beforehand. By his providence he sends wise men from the east, who bring costly gifts, gold, myrrh, and frankincense, and present them to Christ; and now she has enough to defray her expenses into Egypt. God's children sometimes scarce know how they are fed, except that providence feeds them. "Truly you shall be fed." Psalm 37:3. If God will give his people a kingdom when they die, he will not deny them daily bread while they live.

(3.) God's providence reaches to all AFFAIRS and occurrences in the world. There is nothing that stirs in the world but God has, by his providence, the over-ruling of it. Is it the raising of a man to honor? "But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another." Psalm 75:7. Success and victory in battle is the result of providence. Saul had the victory—but God wrought the salvation. That among all virgins brought before the king, Esther should find favor in the eyes of the king, was not without God's special providence; for, by this means, the Lord saved the Jews alive, who were destined to destruction.

Providence reaches to the least of things, to birds and ants. Providence feeds the young raven, when the mother bird forsakes it, and will give it no food. "He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call." Psalms 147:9. Providence reaches to the very hairs of our head. "The hairs of your head are all numbered." Matt 10:30. Surely if providence reaches to our hairs, much more to our souls. Thus you have seen that God's providence reaches to all places, to all persons, to all occurrences and affairs. Now there are two objections against this doctrine.

Some say, There are many things done in the world which are very disorderly and irregular; and surely God's providence is not in these things.

Yes, the things that seem to us irregular, God makes use of to his own glory. Suppose you were in a smith's shop, and should see there several sorts of tools, some crooked, some bowed, others hooked, would you condemn all these things, because they do not look handsome? The smith makes use of them all for doing his work. Thus it is with the providences of God; they seem to us to be very crooked and strange—yet they all carry on God's work. I shall make this clear to you in two particular cases.

God's people are sometimes in a low condition. It seems to be out of order, that those who are best, should be in the lowest condition; but there is much wisdom in this providence, as appears thus:

1. Perhaps the hearts of the godly were lifted up with riches, or with success; now God comes with a humbling providence to afflict them and fleece them. Better is the loss that makes them humble, than the success that makes them proud. Again,

2. If the godly were not sometimes afflicted, and given an eclipse in their outward comforts, how could their graces be seen, especially their faith and patience? If it were always sunshine we would see no stars; so if we should have always prosperity, it would be hard to see the acting of men's faith. Thus you see God's providences are wise and regular, though to us they seem very strange and crooked.

Here is another case. The wicked flourish. This seems to be very much out of order; but God, in his providence, sometimes sees it good, that the worst of men should be exalted; that they may do some work for God, though it be against their will. "But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations." Isaiah 10:7. God will be in no man's debt. He makes use of the wicked sometimes to protect and shield his church; and sometimes to refine and purify it. "O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish." Hab 1:12. As if the prophet had said, "You have ordained the wicked to correct your children." Indeed, as Augustine says well, "We are indebted to wicked men, who against their wills do us good," As the corn is indebted to the flail to thresh off its husks, or as the iron is indebted to the file to brighten it; just so, the godly are indebted to the wicked, though it be against their will, to brighten and refine their graces. Now, then, if the wicked do God's own work, though against their will, he will not let them be losers by it; he will raise them in the world, and give them a full cup of earthly comforts. Thus you see those providences are wise and regular, which to us seem strange and crooked.

But, some may say, "if God has a hand in ordering all things that fall out, he has a hand in the sins of men."

I answer, No, by no means, he has no hand in any man's sin. God cannot go contrary to his own nature, he cannot do any unholy action, any more than the sun can be said to be darkened. Here you must take heed of two things:

you must take heed of making God ignorant of men's sins;

you must take heed of making God to have a hand in men's sins.

Is it likely that God is both the author of sin, and the avenger of sin? Is it a likely thing that God should make a law against sin, and then have a hand in breaking his own law? God in his providence permits men's sins. "He allowed all nations to walk in their own ways." Acts 14:16. God permitted their sin, which he never would, if he could not bring good out of it. Had not sin been permitted—God's justice in punishing sin, and his mercy in pardoning sin, had not been so well manifested. The Lord is pleased to permit sin—but he has no hand in sin.

But is it not said that God hardened Pharaoh's heart? Here is more than barely permitting sin.

God does not infuse evil into men, he withdraws the influence of his graces, and then the heart hardens of itself; even as the light being withdrawn, darkness presently follows in the air? But it would be absurd to say, that therefore the light darkens the air; and therefore you will observe, that Pharaoh is said to harden his own heart. Exod 8:85. God is the cause of no man's sin. It is true God has a hand in the action where sin is—but no hand in the sin of the action. A man may play upon a jarring instrument—but the jarring is from itself. Just so here—the actions of men, so far as they are natural, are from God; but so far as they are sinful, they are from the men themselves, and God has no hand at all in them. So much for the first position, that God's providence reaches to all places, to all persons, and to all occurrences.

[2] A second proposition is, that providences, which are casual and accidental to us, are pre-determined by the Lord. The falling of a tile upon one's head, the breaking out of a fire, is casual to us—but it is ordered by a providence of God. You have a clear instance of this in I Kings 22:34. "An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops, and the arrow hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor." This accident was casual as to the man who drew the bow; but it was divinely ordered by the providence of God. God's providence directed the arrow to hit the mark. Things that seem to happen casually, and by chance, are the outcome of God's decrees, and the interpretation of his will.

[3] God's providence is greatly to be observed—but we are not to make it the rule of our actions. "Whoever is wise will observe these things." It is good to observe providence—but we must not make it our rule to walk by. Providence is a Christian's diary—but not his Bible. Sometimes a bad cause prevails and gets ground; but it is not to be liked because it prevails. We must not think the better of what is sinful, because it is successful. Providence no rule for our actions to be directed by.

[4] Divine providence is irresistible. There is no standing in the way of God's providence, to hinder it. When God's time was come for Joseph's release, the prison could hold him no longer. "The king sent and loosed him." When God would indulge the Jews with liberty in their religion, Cyrus, by a providence, puts forth a proclamation to encourage the Jews to go and build their temple at Jerusalem, and worship God. If God will shield and protect Jeremiah's person in captivity, the very king of Babylon shall nurse up the prophet, and give charge concerning him, that he lack nothing. Jer 39:11, 12.

[5] God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to his promises. God promised to give David the crown, to make him king; but providence ran contrary to his promise. David was pursued by Saul, and was in danger of his life—but all this while it was David's duty to trust God. Pray observe, that the Lord by cross providences, often brings to pass his promise. God promised Paul the lives of all who were with him in the ship; but the providence of God seemed to run quite contrary to his promise, for the winds blew, the ship split and broke in pieces. Thus God fulfilled his promise—upon the broken pieces of the ship they all came safe to shore. Trust God when providences seem to run quite contrary to promises.

[6] The providences of God are chequer-work, they are intermingled. In the life to come, there shall be no more mixture; in hell there will be nothing but bitter; in heaven nothing but sweet. But in this life the providences of God are mixed, there is something of the sweet in them, and something of the bitter. Providences are just like Israel's pillar of cloud, which conducted them in their march, which was dark on one side and light on the other. In the ark were laid up the rod and manna, so are God's providences to his children; there is something of the rod and something of the manna; so that we may say with David, "I will sing of mercy and judgement." When Joseph was in prison, there was the dark side of the cloud; but God was with Joseph, there was the light side of the cloud. Asher's shoes were of brass—but his feet were dipped in oil. So affliction is the shoe of brass which pinches; but there is mercy mingled with the affliction, for there is the foot dipped in oil.

[7] The same action, as it comes from God's providence, may be good; and as it comes from men, may be evil. For instance, Joseph being sold into Egypt by his brethren was evil, very wicked, for it was the fruit of their envy. But as it was an act of God's providence it was good; for by this means Jacob and all his family were preserved alive in Egypt. Another instance is in Shimei's cursing David. Shimei cursed David, it was wicked and sinful, for it was the fruit of his malice. But as his cursing was ordered by God's providence, it was an act of God's justice to punish David, and to humble him for his adultery and murder. As the crucifying of Christ came from the Jews, it was an act of hatred and malice to Christ; and Judas's betraying him was an act of covetousness. But as each was an act of God's providence, so there was good in it; for it was an act of God's love in giving Christ to die for the world. Thus I have made clear to you, the doctrine of God's providence in these several positions. Let me now speak something by way of application.

Use one: By way of exhortation in these particulars.

(1.) ADMIRE God's providence. The providence of God keeps the whole creation upon the wheels, or else it would soon be dissolved, and the very axle of the world would break in pieces. If God's providence should be withdrawn but for a moment, creatures would be dissolved, and run into their first nothing. Without this wise providence of God, there would be anxiety and confusion in the whole world, just like an army when it is routed and scattered. The providence of God infuses comfort and virtue into everything we enjoy. Our clothes would not warm us, our food would not nourish us, without the special providence of God. And does not all this deserve your admiration of providence?

(2.) Learn quietly to SUBMIT to divine providence. Do not murmur at things that are ordered by divine wisdom. We may no more find fault with the works of providence than we may with the works of creation. It is a sin as much to quarrel with God's providence, as to deny his providence. If other people do not act as we would have them act, they shall act as God would have them act. His providence is his master-wheel, which turns these lesser wheels, and God will bring his glory out of all at last. "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this." Psalm 39:9. It may be, we think sometimes we could order things better, if we had the government of the world in our hands; but alas! should we be left to our own choice, we should choose those things that are hurtful for us! David earnestly desired the life of his child, which was the fruit of his sin—but had the child lived it would have been a perpetual monument of his shame. Let us be content that God should rule the world; learn to acquiesce in his will, and submit to his providence. Does any affliction befall you? Remember God sees it is that which is fit for you, or it would not come. Your clothes cannot be so fit for you as your crosses. God's providence may sometimes be secret—but it is always wise; and though we may not be silent under God's dishonor—yet we should learn to be silent under his displeasure.

(3.) You who are Christians, believe that all God's providence shall conspire for your good at last. The providences of God are sometimes dark, and our eyes dim, and we can hardly tell what to make of them; but when we cannot unriddle providence, let us believe that it will work together for the good of the elect. Rom 8:28. The wheels in a clock seem to move contrary one to the other—but they help forward the motion of the clock. Just so, the providences of God seem to be cross wheels; but for all that, they shall carry on the good of the elect. The pricking of a vein is in itself evil and hurtful; but as it prevents a fever, and tends to the health of the patient, it is good. Just so, affliction in itself is not joyous—but grievous; but the Lord turns it to the good of his saints. Poverty shall starve their sins, and afflictions shall prepare them for a kingdom. Therefore, Christians, believe that God loves you, and that he will make the most cross providences to promote his glory and your good.

(4.) Let it be an antidote against immoderate FEAR, that nothing comes to pass but what is ordained by God's decree, and ordered by his providence. We sometimes fear what the outcome of things will be, when men grow high in their actings; but let us not make things worse by our fear. Men are limited in their power, and cannot go one hair's breadth further than God's providence permits. He might let Sennacherib's army march towards Jerusalem—but they shall not shoot one arrow against it. "Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning--there were all the dead bodies!" Isa 37:36. When Israel was encompassed between Pharaoh and the Red Sea, no question, some of their hearts began to tremble, and they looked upon themselves as dead men; but Providence so ordered it—that the sea was a safe passage to Israel, and a sepulcher to Pharaoh and all his host.

(5.) Let the merciful providence of God cause THANKFULNESS. We are kept alive by a wonderful-working Providence. Providence makes our clothes to warm us, and our food to nourish us. We are fed every day out of the alms-basket of God's providence. That we are in health, that we have an estate, is not by our diligence—but God's providence. "But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth." Deut 8:18. Especially if we go a step higher, we may see cause for thankfulness, that we were born and bred in a gospel land, and that we live in such a place where the Sun of Righteousness shines, which is a signal providence. Why might we not have been born in such places where Paganism prevails? That Christ should make himself known to us, and touch our hearts with his Spirit, when he passes by others; whence is this but from the miraculous providence of God, which is the effect of his free grace?

Use two: Comfort in respect of the church of God. God's providence reaches in a more special manner to his church. "Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it." Isa 27:2-3. God waters this vineyard with his blessings, and watches over it by his providence. Such as think totally to ruin the church, must do it in a time when it is neither day nor night, for the Lord keeps it by his providence night and day. What a miraculous conduct of Providence had Israel! God led them by a pillar of fire, gave them manna from heaven, and water from the rock.

God by his providence preserves his church in the midst of enemies; as a spark is kept alive in the ocean, or a flock of sheep are kept alive in the midst of wolves. God saves his church strangely.

(1.) By giving unexpected mercies to his church, when she anticipated nothing but ruin. "When the Lord restored his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, 'What amazing things the Lord has done for them.' Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!" Psalm 126:1-3. How strangely did God raise up Queen Esther to preserve alive the Jews, when Haman had got a bloody warrant signed for their execution!

(2.) Strangely, by saving in that very way in which we think he will destroy. God works sometimes by contraries. He raises his church by bringing it low. The blood of the martyrs has watered the church, and made it more fruitful. Exod 1:12. "The more they afflicted them—the more they multiplied." The church is like that plant which Gregory Nazianzen speaks of—it grows by cutting.

(3.) Strangely, in that he makes the enemy to do his work. When the people of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir came against Judah, God set the enemy one against another. "The Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had finished off the army of Seir, they turned on each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, there were dead bodies lying on the ground for as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped." 2 Chronicles 20:22-24. God made the traitors to be their own betrayers. God can do his work by the enemy's hand. God made the Egyptians send away the people of Israel laden with jewels. The church is the pupil of God's eye, and the eyelid of his providence daily covers and defends it.

Use three: See here, that which may make us long for the time when the great mystery of God's providence shall be fully unfolded to us. Now we scarcely know what to make of God's providence, and are ready to censure what we do not understand; but in heaven we shall see how all his providences (sickness, losses, sufferings) contributed to our salvation. Here we see but some dark pieces of God's providence, and it is impossible to judge of his works by pieces; but when we come to heaven, and see the full body and portrait of his providence drawn out into its living colors—it will be glorious to behold. Then we shall see how all God's providences helped to fulfill his promises. There is no providence, but we shall see a wonder or a mercy in it!