What wonders shine
In its profound display
Of God's design:
It guards the dust of earth,
Commands the hosts above,
Fulfils the mighty plan
Of his great love
Lie in its hand;
See how they rise or fall
At its command
Through sorrow and distress,
Tempestuous storms that rage,
God's kingdom yet endures
From age to age
A radiant light;
Its oft-perplexing ways
Are ordered right.
Soon all its winding paths
Will end, and then the tale
Of wonder shall be told
Beyond the veil.
David Charles, 1762-1834;
Translated from the Welsh by Edmund Tudor Owen
Article 7, Of God's Providence in the Preservation and Government of the World
God, in his wise, holy, and righteous providence, upholds and governs all creatures and their actions. His providence extends over all places, all events, all changes, and all times. His providence, in its operation, is full of eyes to behold, and powerful to perform, and makes all things work together for good to them that love God. It overrules the sinful actions of men; nevertheless, it neither causes nor occasions the sinfulness of any of them.Belgic Confession
Article 13 About the Providence of God
We believe that this Most High God, after He created all things, did not in the least hand them over to fate or the rule of fortune, but continually rules and governs them according to the precept of His sacrosanct will so that nothing may happen in this world apart from His decree and ordination.
Neither is it possible to say that God is the author of or the guilty party in the evils that occur in this world. For both His power and goodness lie widely open as immeasurable and incomprehensible, and His work and proceedings are sacredly and justly determined and executed, although both the Devil and the wicked unjustly act.
Truly, whatsoever He does, having exceeded human constraints, we do not wish to inquire about these things pryingly and beyond our constraints. In fact, on the contrary, we nevertheless humbly and reverently adore the hidden and just judgments of God. For it is enough for us, as disciples of Christ, to learn no more than that which He Himself teaches us in His Word, without transgressing the limits that we regard as lawful.
Truly, this doctrine brings immeasurable comfort to us. For from it we know that nothing happens to us by fortune, but only all things by the will of our heavenly Father, Who truly keeps watch for us with fatherly care, having subjugated all things unto Himself so that not even a hair our head (which have all been numbered down to the individual one) can be plucked out, nor can the smallest chick fall to the ground, apart from the will of our Father.
And so we thoroughly rest in this, acknowledging that God restrains the devils and all our enemies, just as curbed with whips, so that no one is strong enough to hurt us apart from His will and good permission.
And therefore in this place we reject the detestable opinion of the Epicureans, who create an idle god, doing nothing and forfeiting all things.
Act. 23:8; John 5:17; Heb. 1:3; Prover. 16:4; Iacob. 4:15; Jacob. 4:15; Job 1:21; 2 Kings 22:20; Act. 4:28; 1 Sam. 8:25; Psal. 115:3; Isa. 45:7; Amos 3:6; Deut. 19:5; Prover. 21:1; Ps. 105:25; Isa. 10:5; 2 Thess. 2:11; Ezech. 41:9; Rom 1:28; 1 Kings 11:23; Gen. 45:8, 50:20; 2 Sam. 16:10; Matt. 8:31; 1 John 3:8
Chapter 5: Of Providence
I. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
III. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
The Heidelberg Catechism
- Q. 26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”
- That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth with all that in them is,1 who likewise upholds, and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence,2 is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father,3 in whom I so trust as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul;4 and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life, He will turn to my good;5 for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,6 and willing also, being a faithful Father.7
- 1 Gen 1-2; Ex 20:11; Job 38-39; Ps 33:6; Isa 44:24; Acts 4:24, 14:15; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3; 2 Ps 104:2-5, 27-30, 115:3; Mt 6:30, 10:29-30; Acts 17:24-25; Eph 1:11; Heb 1:3; 3 Mt 6:8; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 8:15-16; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:5, 3:14-16; 4 Ps 55:22, 90:1-2; Mt 6:25-26; Lk 12:22-31; 5 Acts 17:27-28; Rom 8:28; 6 Gen 18:14; Rom 8:31-39, 10:12; 7 Num 23:19; Mt 6:32-33, 7:9-11
- Q 27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
- The almighty, everywhere-present power of God,1 whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures,2 and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 indeed, all things come not by chance,7 but by His fatherly hand.8
- 1 Jer 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-28; 2 Heb 1:3; 3 Jer 5:24; 4 Acts 14:15-17; 5 Jn 9:3; 6 Job 1:21; Ps 103:19; Prov 22:2; Rom 5:3-5; 7 Prov 16:33; 8 Mt 10:29; Eph 1:1
- Q 28. What does it profit us to know that God created, and by His providence upholds, all things?
- That we may be patient in adversity,1 thankful in prosperity,2 and for what is future have good confidence in our faithful God and Father, that no creature shall separate us from His love,3 since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.4