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
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."
Use one: INFORMATION.
(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
(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
(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."
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
(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
(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
Use four: EXHORTATION.
(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."
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
In the body of the sun, there are—
the substance of the sun,
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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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."
 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
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
1. The making.
2. The adorning.
I. The MAKING of the world. Here consider,
 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.
 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
 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
 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
(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
(5.) The heart is a noble part, and the seat of
 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!
Use two: Of EXHORTATION.
(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
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.
 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.
 I call providence the ordering of things after the
counsel of God's will.
 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.
 God's providence reaches to all places, persons, and
(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
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
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.
 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.
 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
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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!