From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

PROVIDENCE. —The word ‘providence’ (Gr. πρόνοια) is found only once in Authorized and Revised Versions of the NT, viz. in  Acts 24:2, where it is applied to Felix by Tertullus. ‘Providence’ (Lat. providentia , fr. pro and videre ) literally means ‘foresight,’ but in its recognized use a much nearer equivalent is ‘forethought’ (πρόνοια). But providence is more even than forethought. It implies not only thought about the future, but practical arrangements for the purpose of securing premeditated ends (cf.  Romans 13:14 ‘Make not provision [πρόνοιαν—the only other occasion of the use of the word in the Gr. NT] for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof’). And in the specific and most familiar sense of the word, as applied to the providence of God, it carries with it, as follows of necessity in the case of the Divine Being, the actual realization of the ends which God has determined. Though the word nowhere occurs in the Gospels, the subject is one that meets us constantly. And while it is the providence of God that is especially brought before us, there are not wanting suggestive references to providence on the part of man.

1. The Divine providence . (1) In the OT the fact of God’s providence—in nature, in history, and in the individual life—is everywhere prominent; and the problems presented by the doctrine of providence appear and reappear in the Prophets, and receive a special treatment in the book of Job and in certain of the Psalms ( e.g. 37, 73). In the Book of Wisdom the very word ‘providence’ (πρόνοια) twice occurs. In  Wisdom of Solomon 14:3 it is applied to God as governing the waves of the sea; and in  Wisdom of Solomon 17:2 the heathen oppressors of Israel are described as ‘fugitives from the eternal providence.’ From Josephus we learn that Rabbinical Judaism was much occupied with the mysteries of Divine providence in its relation to human freedom; and that, as against the Sadducees who held an exaggerated view of liberty, and the Essenes who maintained a doctrine of absolute fate, the Pharisees kept to the middle path represented by the OT teaching, affirming the freedom and responsibility of man on the one hand, and the Divine providence and omnipotence on the other ( Ant. xiii. v. 9, xviii. i. 3, BJ ii. viii. 14).

(2) In the Gospels , as in the NT generally, there is everywhere assumed the faith in the Divine providence which characterizes the OT writings, and is continued in orthodox post-canonical Judaism. The confidence of the Evangelists in the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy in the Person of Jesus is a testimony to their belief in the far-sighted operation of the Divine counsels ( Matthew 1:22;  Matthew 2:5;  Matthew 2:15;  Matthew 2:23;  Matthew 3:3, and passim ). Their statements as to the incarnation of the Son of God furnish a supreme proof of a Providence that overrules the laws of nature by an indwelling governance, and moves down the long paths of history to the accomplishment of its own ends ( Matthew 1:18 ff.,  Luke 1:34 ff.,  John 1:1-14; cf.  Galatians 4:4).

(3) A doctrine of providence underlies the whole life and teaching of Jesus Christ . As against a Deistic view which makes God sit aloof from the world He has created, and a Pantheistic view which identifies Him with Nature and its laws, Jesus always takes for granted the fact of God’s free and personal providence. It is in this confidence that He turns to His Father for power to work His miracles—miracles which in turn become signs that His trust in God’s providence was not misplaced. It is in the same confidence that He goes to God in prayer ( Matthew 11:25;  Matthew 26:39 ff.,  Mark 1:35;  Mark 6:46,  Luke 3:21;  Luke 11:1;  Luke 22:32,  John 11:41 f.,  John 14:16-17), and teaches His disciples to do likewise ( Matthew 6:6;  Matthew 6:9 ff.,  Matthew 7:7 ff.,  Matthew 9:38 etc.). Such petitions as ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ ( Matthew 6:11), and ‘Lead us not into temptation’ ( Matthew 6:13), would be mere hypocrisies apart from an assured trust in the loving providence of our Father in heaven.

(4) Not only is a doctrine of providence a constant implication of our Lord’s life and ministry, it forms an express part of His teaching . Jesus told His disciples that God rules in nature, making the sun to shine and the rain to fall ( Matthew 5:45), feeding the birds of the air ( Matthew 6:26), and clothing the lilies of the field ( Matthew 6:28 ff.). He taught them that God also rules in human lives, bestowing His blessings on the evil and the good ( Matthew 5:45), supplying the bodily wants of those upon whom He has conferred the gift of rational life ( Matthew 6:25), devoting a peculiar care to such as seek His Kingdom and His righteousness ( Matthew 6:33). As against the pagan notion of chance (wh. see), and the analogous idea that at most the Almighty cares only for great things and does not concern Himself with the small (cf. ‘Magna dii curant; parva negligunt,’ Cic. de Nat. Deor . ii. 66), He affirmed that there is ‘a special providence in the fall of a sparrow’ ( Matthew 10:29, cf. Hamlet , Ac. v. Sc. ii.), and that even the very hairs of our head are all numbered ( Matthew 10:30). As against a doctrine of providence which would turn it into a blind fate, and make the strivings of the human will as meaningless as the motions of a puppet, we have to set His constant emphasis on the momentousness of choice and effort and decision ( Matthew 7:13;  Matthew 7:21,  Matthew 13:45 f.,  Matthew 16:24 ff.,  Matthew 18:3, etc.). As against a narrow philosophy of providence, according to which good men are openly rewarded in this life and wicked men openly punished, He taught that God governs the world by general laws ( Matthew 5:45), that persecution is often the earthly portion of the righteous ( Matthew 5:10 ff.), that disasters falling on the individual are not to be taken as Divine retributions upon special guiltiness ( Luke 13:1-5), and that our views of Divine providence must be extended so as to include a coming day of judgment for nations as well as individuals ( Matthew 25:31 ff.). Thus in His teaching He anticipated most of those questions which have been so much discussed by theologians in connexion with this whole subject—questions as to the relation of God’s government to secondary causes, of providence to free will, and as to distinctions between a providence that is special and one that is merely general.

(5) But besides the underlying implications of His teaching and its broad lines of treatment, our Lord brings forward in one well-known passage some special views and arguments bearing on faith in the providence of God as a means of deliverance from anxious care ( Matthew 6:25-34 =  Luke 12:22-34). ( a ) The first thing that strikes us here is the emphasis He lays on the Divine Fatherhood ( Matthew 6:26;  Matthew 6:32). The revelation of God as our Father in heaven is the central fact of Christ’s teaching, and it illuminates His doctrine of providence just as it illuminates His whole message. This is the point at which His doctrine of providence rises above the highest and best teaching of the OT upon the subject. God’s providence is a more individual and a more loving care than the saints of old had ever dreamed of, and this it is precisely because He is our Father. Once we have realized the fundamental truth about our relation to Him, we find it not merely possible to believe in His loving guardianship of our lives, but impossible to conceive of anything else (cf.  Matthew 7:11 =  Luke 11:13). ( b ) Taking for granted that His hearers believe in God as their Creator, Jesus argues from creation to providence as from the greater to the less. The life is more than meat, and the body than raiment. He, therefore, who breathed into the body the breath of life will assuredly sustain the life He has inspired, and clothe the body He has framed ( Matthew 6:25). ( c ) Next He argues, we might say, from the less to the greater. If God feeds the birds of the air, shall He not much more feed His spiritual offspring? If He clothes the flowers of the field in their radiant beauty, how can He fail to clothe His own sons and daughters? ( Matthew 6:26;  Matthew 6:28-30). ( d ) Again, He argues generally that the fact of our Father’s knowledge of our needs carries with it the certainty that all our needs shall be supplied—an argument based directly on the thought of Fatherhood, and the love that Fatherhood implies ( Matthew 6:31-32).

2. Human providence. —Christ’s special teaching on the providence of God in the passage just considered has sometimes been misinterpreted into a pronouncement against any providence on the part of man. The language of the Authorized Version no doubt lends itself to this; for in modern English ‘Take no thought’ is a very misleading rendering of μὴ μεριμνᾶτε ( Matthew 6:25;  Matthew 6:31;  Matthew 6:34; cf.  Matthew 6:27-28). It was not forethought, however, but anxiety (see Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885) that Jesus warned His disciples against, when He turned their minds to the great truth of the heavenly Father’s providence (see art. Care). That He believed in the value and the need of prevision and forethought we may learn from His own example. The long years of silence at Nazareth were evidently spent in a deliberate preparation of Himself for the high tasks that lay before Him. And when His public ministry began, so far from being careless of the morrow, He shaped all His days according to a pre-conceived plan (cf.  Matthew 3:13 ff.,  Mark 1:14 f.,  Luke 12:50,  John 9:4;  John 17:4). In His teaching He lays frequent stress on the value of prudent forethought (see art. Prudence), both in worldly matters and in the affairs of the Kingdom of heaven—witness the parables of the Unjust Steward ( Luke 16:1 ff.), of the Pounds ( Luke 19:13 ff.), and the Talents ( Matthew 25:14 ff.), of the Wise and the Foolish Virgins ( Matthew 25:1 ff.). His appeal, therefore, to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field was not meant to encourage a belief that God would work for the idle and provide for the improvident. The argument rather is, If God provides for His unconscious creatures who cannot exercise forethought, much more will He provide for His conscious children who can and do. If He feeds the birds that neither sow nor reap, much more will He prosper you in your sowing and reaping; if He clothes the lilies that toil not neither do they spin, be sure He will see to it that men and women, on whom He has laid toiling and spinning as a necessity, do not lack the raiment they require. Work you must; it is the law of your lives as God’s rational creatures; but learn from the birds and the lilies not to be anxious in the midst of your toil. Sow your seed, trusting in God to send the harvest. Fulfil your appointed tasks, but leave the results with confidence in your Father’s hands. Jesus, then, does not commend improvidence. On the other hand, He does condemn a providence that confines itself altogether to the provision of earthly things, or even gives these the chief place in the heart. He condemns the providence of the Rich Fool ( Luke 12:16-21), and urges His disciples to lay up their treasure in the heavens ( Luke 12:21-33). ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness’ ( Matthew 6:33) is the counsel with which He concludes His special teaching on the relation of His disciples to the providence of the heavenly Father.

Christ’s doetrines of Divine and human providence are thus complementary to each other. The thought of God’s foreseeing care does not do away with human freedom and responsibility. On the contrary, it accentuates these by assuring us that we are not the creatures of fate, but the free children of God, and that we live our lives and fulfil our tasks under His watchful and loving eyes. The realization of the need of forethought and preparation on our part for the duties and events of life does not render us independent of the Almighty care. On the contrary, man’s providence rests altogether upon the providence of God, and apart from it is utterly vain. And so to win Christ’s approval human providenee must be the providenee of religious faith, and must be directed above all to the securing of higher than earthly blessings. It is only when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that we have the promise that ‘all these things’—food and raiment and whatsoever else we require for the bodily life—shall be added unto us.

Literature.—Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] ii. ii. 14 ff.; Wendt, Teaching of Jesus , i. 205, 289; Martensen, Dogmat . p. 214; C. G. Monteflore, ‘Heb. and Greek Ideas of Providence and Retribution’ in JQR [Note: QR Jewish Quarterly Review.] v. (1893) 517; Ritschl, Chr. Doct. of Justif. and Recon. (English translation 1900) 614; F. H. Woods, For Faith and Science (1906), 93; E. A. Abbott, Silanus the Christian (1906), 109; W. N. Clarke, Outline of Chr. Theol . p. 147; Dykes, Manifesto of the King , p. 483; Dale, Laws of Christ , p. 157.

J. C. Lambert.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

the conduct and direction of the several parts of the universe, by a superior intelligent Being. The notion of a providence is founded upon this truth, that the Creator has not so fixed and ascertained the laws of nature, nor so connected the chain of second causes, as to leave the world to itself, but that he still preserves the reins in his own hands, and occasionally intervenes, alters, restrains, enforces, suspends, &c, those laws by a particular providence. Some use the word providence in a more general sense, signifying by it that power or action by which the several parts of the creation are ordinarily directed. Thus Damascenus defines providence to be that divine will by which all things are ordered and directed to the proper end: which notion of providence supposes no laws at all fixed by the author of nature at the creation, but that he reserved it at large, to be governed by himself immediately. The Epicureans denied any divine providence, as thinking it inconsistent with the ease and repose of the divine nature to meddle at all with human affairs. Simplicius argues thus for a providence: If God does not look to the affairs of the world, it is either because he cannot or will not; but the first is absurd, since, to govern cannot be difficult where to create was easy; and the latter is both absurd and blasphemous. In Plato's Tenth Dialogue of Laws, he teaches excellently, that (since what is self-moving is, by its nature, before that which moves only in consequence of being moved) mind must be prior to matter, and the cause of all its modifications and changes; and that, therefore, there is a universal Mind possessed of all perfection, which produced and which actuates all things. After this he shows that the Deity exercises a particular providence over the world, taking care of small no less than great things. In proving this he observes "that a superior nature of such excellence as the divine, which hears, sees, and knows all things, cannot, in any instance, be subject to negligence or sloth; that the meanest and the greatest part of the world are all equally his work or possession; that great things cannot be rightly taken care of without taking care of small; and that, in all cases, the more able and perfect any artist is, (as a physician, an architect, or the ruler of the state,) the more his skill and care appear in little as well as great things. Let us not, then," says he, "conceive of God as worse than even mortal artists."

The term providence, in its primary signification, simply denotes foresight; and if we allow the existence of a supreme Being who formed the universe at first, we must necessarily allow that he has a perfect foresight of every event which at any time takes place in the natural or moral world. Matter can have no motion, nor spirit any energy, but what is derived from him; nor can he be ignorant of the effects which they will, either separately or conjointly, produce. A common mechanic has knowledge of the work of his own hands: when he puts the machine which he has made in motion, he foresees how long it will go, and what will be the state and position of its several parts at any particular point of time; or, if he is not perfectly able to do this, it is because he is not perfectly acquainted with all the powers of the materials which he has used in its construction: they are not of his making, and they may therefore have qualities which he does not understand, and consequently cannot regulate. But in the immense machine of the universe there is nothing except that which God has made; all the powers and properties, relations and dependencies, which created things have, they have, both in kind and degree, from him. Nothing, therefore, it should seem, can come to pass at any time, or in any part of the universe, which its incomprehensible Architect did not, from the moment his almighty fiat called it into existence, clearly foresee. The providence of God is implied in his very existence as an intelligent Creator; and it imports not only an abstract foresight of all possible events, but such a predisposition of causes and effects, such an adjustment of means and ends, as seems to us to exclude that contingency of human actions with which, as expectants of positive rewards and punishments in another world, we firmly believe it to be altogether consistent.

By providence we may understand, not merely foresight, but a uniform and constant operation of God subsequent to the act of creation. Thus, in every machine formed by human ingenuity, there is a necessity for the action of some extraneous power to put the machine in motion: a proper construction and disposition of parts not being sufficient to effect the end: there must be a spring, or a weight, or an impulse of air or water, or some substance or other, on which the motion of the several parts of the machine must depend. In like manner, the machine of the universe depends upon its Creator for the commencement and the conservation of the motion of its several parts. The power by which the insensible particles of matter coalesce into sensible lumps, as well as that by which the great orbs of the universe are reluctantly, as it were, retained in their courses, admits not an explanation from mechanical causes: the effects of both of them are different from such as mere matter and motion can produce; they must ultimately be referred to God. Vegetable and animal life and increase cannot be accounted for, without recurring to him as the primary cause of both. In all these respects the providence of God is something more than foresight; it is a continual influence, a universal agency; "by him all things consist," and "in him we live, and move, and have our being."

Much labour has been employed to account for all the phenomena of nature by the powers of mechanism, or the necessary laws of matter and motion. But this, as we imagine, cannot be done. The primary causes of things must certainly be some powers and principles not mechanical, otherwise we shall be reduced to the necessity of maintaining an endless progression of motions communicated from matter to matter, without any first mover; or of saying that the first impelling matter moved itself. The former is an absurdity too great to be embraced by any one; and there is reason to hope that me essential inactivity of matter is at present so well understood, and so generally allowed, notwithstanding some modern oppugners of this hypothesis, that there can be but few who will care to assert the latter. All our reasonings about bodies, and the whole of natural philosophy, are founded on the three laws of motion laid down by Sir Isaac Newton, at the beginning of the "Principia." These laws express the plainest truths; but they would have neither evidence nor meaning, were not inactivity contained in our idea of matter. Should it be said that matter, though naturally inert, may be made to be otherwise by divine power, this would be the same with saying that matter may be made not to be matter.

If inactivity belong to it at all, it must belong to it as matter, or solid extension, and therefore must be inseparable from it. Matter is figured, movable, discerptable, inactive, and capable of communicating motion by impulse to other matter; these are not accidental but primary qualities of matter. Beside, matter void of inactivity, if we were to suppose it possible, could produce no effects. The communication of motion, its direction, the resistance it suffers, and its cessation, in a word, the whole doctrine of motion cannot be consistently explained or clearly understood without supposing the inertia of matter. Self-moving matter must have thought and design, because, whenever matter moves, it must move in some particular direction, and with some precise degree of velocity; and as there is an infinity of these equally possible, it cannot move itself without selecting one of these preferably to and exclusively of all others, and therefore not without design. Moreover, it may be plainly proved that matter cannot be the ultimate cause of the phenomena of nature, or the agent which, by any powers inherent in itself, produces the general laws of nature, without possessing the highest degree of knowledge and wisdom; which might be easily evinced or exemplified by adverting to the particular law of gravitation. "The philosopher," says an excellent writer, "who overlooks the laws of an all-governing Deity in nature, contenting himself with the appearance of the material universe only, and the mechanical laws of motion, neglects what is most excellent, and prefers what is imperfect to what is supremely perfect, finitude to infinity, what is narrow and weak to what is unlimited and almighty, and what is perishing to what endures for ever. Sir Isaac Newton thought it most unaccountable to exclude the Deity only out of the universe. It appeared to him much more just and reasonable to suppose that the whole chain of causes, or the several series of them, should centre in him as their source; and the whole, system appear depending on him the only independent cause." If, then, the Deity pervades and actuates the material world, and his unremitting energy is the cause to which every effect in it must be traced; the spiritual world, which is of greater consequence, cannot be disregarded by him. Is there not one atom of matter on which he does not act; and is there one living being about which he has no concern? Does not a stone fall without him; and does, then, a man suffer without him? The inanimate world is of no consequence, abstracted from its subserviency to the animate and reasonable world; the former, therefore, must be preserved and governed entirely with a view to the latter. But it is not mere energy or the constant exertion of power that is discernible in the frame or laws of the universe, in maintaining the succession of men, and in producing men and other beings; but wisdom and skill are also conspicuous in the structure of every object in the inanimate creation. After a survey of the beauty and elegance of the works of nature, aided by the perusal of   Matthew 6:28 , &c, we may ask ourselves, Has God, in the lowest of his works, been lavish of wisdom, beauty, and skill; and is he sparing of these in the concerns of reasonable beings? Or does he less regard order, propriety, and fitness in the determination of their states? The answer is obvious. Providence also implies a particular interposition of God in administering the affairs of individuals and nations, and wholly distinct from that general and incessant exertion of his power, by which he sustains the universe in existence.

The doctrine of providence may be evinced from the consideration of the divine perfections. The first cause of all things must be regarded as a being absolutely perfect; and the idea of absolute perfection comprehends infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; hence we deduce the doctrine of providence. The Deity cannot be an indifferent spectator of the series of events in that world to which he has given being. His goodness will as certainly engage him to direct them agreeably to the ends of goodness, as his wisdom and power enable him to do it in the most effectual manner. This conclusion is conformable to all our ideas of those attributes. Could we call that being good who would refuse to do any good which he is able to do without the least labour or difficulty? God is present every where. He sees all that happens, and it is in his power, with perfect ease, to order all for the best. Can he then possess goodness, and at the same time not do this? A God without a providence is undoubtedly a contradiction. Nothing is plainer than that a being of perfect reason will, in every instance, take such care of the universe as perfect reason requires. That supreme intelligence and love, which are present to all things, and from whence all things sprung, must govern all occurrences. These considerations prove what has been called a particular, in opposition to a general, providence. We cannot conceive of any reasons that can influence the Deity to exercise any providence over the world, which are not likewise reasons for extending it to all that happens in the world. As far as it is confined to generals, or overlooks any individual, or any event, it is incomplete, and therefore unsuitable to the idea of a perfect being.

One common prejudice against this doctrine arises from the apprehension that it is below the dignity of the Deity to watch over, in the manner implied in it, the meanest beings, and the minutest affairs. To which it may be replied, that a great number of minute affairs, if they are each of them of some consequence, make up a sum which is of great consequence; and that there is no way of taking care of this sum, without taking care of each particular. This objection, therefore, under the appearance of honouring God, plainly dishonours him. Nothing is absolutely trifling in which the happiness of any individual, even the most insignificant, is at all concerned; nor is it beneath a wise and good being to interpose in any thing of this kind. To suppose the Deity above this, is to suppose him above acting up to the full extent of goodness and rectitude. The same eternal benevolence that first engaged him to produce beings, must also engage him to exercise a particular providence over them; and the very lowest beings, as well as the highest, seem to have a kind of right to his superintendence, from the act itself of bringing them into existence. Every apprehension that this is too great a condescension in him is founded on the poorest ideas; for, surely, whatever it was not too great condescension in him to create, it cannot be too great a condescension in him to take care of. Beside, with regard to God, all distinctions in the creation vanish. All beings are infinitely, that is, equally, inferior to him.

Accident, and chance, and fortune, are words which we often hear mentioned, and much is ascribed to them in the life of man. But they are words without meaning; or, as far as they have any signification, they are no other than names for the unknown operations of providence; for it is certain that in God's universe nothing comes to pass causelessly, or in vain. Every event has its own determined direction. That chaos of human affairs and intrigues where we can see no light, that mass of disorder and confusion which they often present to our view, is all clearness and order in the sight of Him who is governing and directing the whole, and bringing forward every event in its due time and place. "The Lord sitteth on the flood. The Lord maketh the wrath of man to praise him," as he maketh the "hail and rain to obey his word. He hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." No other principle than this, embraced with a steady faith, and attended with a suitable practice, can ever be able to give repose and tranquillity to the mind; to animate our hopes, or extinguish our fears; to give us any true satisfaction in the enjoyments of life, or to minister consolation under its adversities. If we are persuaded that God governs the world, that he has the superintendence and direction of all events, and that we are the objects of his providential care; whatever may be our distress or our danger, we can never want consolation, we may always have a fund of hope, always a prospect of relief. But take away this hope and this prospect, take away the belief of God and of a superintending providence, and man would be of all creatures the most miserable; destitute of every comfort, every support, under present sufferings, and of every security against future dangers.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Foresight, Greek Pronoia "forethought" ( Acts 24:2). As applied to God, it expresses His never ceasing power exerted in and over all His works. It is the opposite of "chance," "fortune," and "luck." It continues creation. In relation to all things it is universal, and nothing is too minute for its regard; to moral beings special; to holy or converted beings particular. Each is an object of providence according to its capacity. God's providence is concerned in a sparrow's fall; His children are of more value than many sparrows, and therefore are assured of His providential care in all their concerns. Its acts are threefold; preservation, co-operation, and government. He controls all things for the highest good of the whole, acting upon every species conformably to its nature: inanimate things by physical influences, brutes according to instinct, and free agents according to the laws of free agency. Providence displays God's omnipresence, holiness, justice and benevolence.

If the telescope reveals the immense magnitude and countless hosts of worlds which He created and sustains, the microscope shows that His providence equally concerns itself with the minutest animalcule. Nothing is really small with God. He hangs the most momentous weights on little wires. We cannot explain fully why evil was ever permitted; but God overrules it to good. If no fallible beings had been created there could have been no virtue, for virtue implies probation, and probation implies liability to temptation and sin. Sin too has brought into view God's wisdom, mercy, and love, harmonized in redemption, and good educed from evil; yet the good so educed by guilt does not exculpate sinners, or warrant the inference, "let us do evil that good may come" ( Romans 3:8).

Proofs of providence.

(I) We can no more account for the world's continued preservation than for its original creation, without God's interposition.

(II) He sustains because He originally made it ( Psalms 33:6;  Psalms 33:13-16;  Colossians 1:17); as one may do what one will with his own, so God has the right to order all things as being their Maker ( Isaiah 64:8;  Romans 9:20-23). God's interest in His own creation is Job's argument for God's restoring him ( Job 10:3;  Job 10:9-12;  Job 14:15).

(III) God's power, wisdom, knowledge, and love all prove a providence. "He that denies providence denies God's attributes, His omniscience which is the eye of providence, His mercy and justice which are the arms of providence, His power which is its life and motion, His wisdom which is the rudder whereby providence is steered, and holiness the compass and rule of its motion" (Charnock).

(IV) The prevailing order in the world proves providence ( Genesis 8:22). The Greek word for world and order is one and the same, Kosmos , Latin, mundus; and modern science has shown that the very seeming aberrations of the planets are parts of the universal order or law which reigns. "All discord harmony not understood, All partial evil universal good." ( Isaiah 40:22;  Isaiah 40:26.) The plagues, earthquakes, drought, flood, frost, and famine subserve ends of providence which we only in part see; and they also suggest to us the need of a providence to control them within appointed bounds, and that without such a providence all nature would fall into disorder ( Jeremiah 5:22;  Job 26:7-11;  Job 38:4-14).

(V) The present moral government of the world. Conscience stings the wicked, or civil punishments or the consequences of violating nature's laws overtake them.

(1) The anomalies apparent now, the temporary sufferings of the righteous and prosperity of the wicked, the failure of good plans and success of bad ones, confirm the revelation of the judgment to come which shall rectify these anomalie.s (See Job .)

(2) The godly amidst affliction enjoy more real happiness than the ungodly, whose prosperity is "shining misery"; ( 1 Timothy 4:8;  Mark 10:29-30).

(3) The sorrows of godly men are sometimes the result of their running counter to laws of nature, or even of revelation; as Jacob's lying to Isaac, repaid in kind retributively in Jacob's sons lying to him, etc., David's adultery and murder punished retributively by Absalom's lying with his father's concubines and by the sword never departing from David's house (2 Samuel 12).

(4) Yet even so they are overruled to the moral discipline of the saint's faith, patience, and experience ( Romans 5:3-4;  1 Peter 1:6-7); David's noblest qualities were brought forth by Saul's persecutions, and even by Absalom's punitive rebellion ( 2 Samuel 15:25-26;  2 Samuel 16:10-12).

(5) There is sin even in men sincere before God; they need at. times to be brought, as Job at last was, to abase themselves under God's visiting hand, and instead of calling God to account to acknowledge His ways are right and we are sinful, even though we do not see the reason why He contends with us ( Job 40:4-5;  Job 42:2-6; contrast  Job 10:2;  Job 33:13).

(6) The issue of wickedness is seen even in this life generally, that though flourishing for a time ( Jeremiah 12:1) the wicked are "set in slippery places, and brought into desolation as in a moment" (Psalm 73;  Psalms 37:35-37;  Job 20:5).

(VI) History vindicates providence. The histories of Israel, Judah, and Gentile nations show that "righteousness exalteth a nation" ( Proverbs 14:34). The preparations made for the gospel of our Saviour indicate a providence ( Galatians 4:4), the distinctness of prophecy waxing greater and greater as the time for the evangelization of the Gentiles approached ( Luke 2:32). The translation of the Jewish Scriptures into the language of a large part of the civilized world, Greek, by the Septuagint (By It The History Of Providence And The Prophecies Of Messiah Became Accessible To The Learned Everywhere; All Possibility Of Questioning The Existence Or Falsifying The Contents Of The Prophecies Was Taken Away; The Closing Of The Canon Just Before Proved That The Scriptures, So Translated, Supplied Complete All That God Revealed In Old Testament Times) ; the expectation throughout the East of a great King and Deliverer to arise in Judaea; the increasing light of philosophy; the comprehension of most of the known world by the Roman empire, breaking down the barrier between E. and W., establishing a regular police everywhere, and the universal peace which prevailed at the coming of the gospel of peace; the multiplication and settling of Jews in Egypt, Asia, Greece, Italy, and western Europe (Horace, Sat. i., 9:69-71; 4:140): all paving the way for promulgating the gospel.

The remarkable working of providence secretly (for God's name never occurs in the book) is apparent in the case of Esther, whereby the fate of the whole Jewish nation hung upon a despot's whim, acted on by a favorite. (See Esther .) The providential preparations for the appointed issue, Ahasuerus' feast, Vashti's womanly pride, Mordecai's informing the king of the design against his life, the choice of Esther as queen, Haman's plot, laid so cleverly yet made to recoil on himself, so that after having himself to thank for dictating the honours which he had to pay to the very man whom he wished to destroy he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

So in the case of Joseph; the brothers' wicked and seemingly successful plan for defeating God's will of elevating him above them, as revealed in his dreams, was overruled to being made the very means of accomplishing it. So "Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel,were gathered together against Christ, for to do whatsoever God's hand and God's counsel determined before to be done" ( Acts 4:27-28; compare  Genesis 42:6;  Proverbs 19:21;  Proverbs 21:30). Fighters against the truth have been by providence made, in spite of themselves, instrumental in spreading it, by calling attention to it and to its power in ennobling believers' lives. "They that were scattered abroad" by persecutors "went everywhere preaching the word" ( Acts 8:4), the storm that would rend the oak scatters its seed in every direction.

(VII) Belief in providence is the basis of religion, especially of revealed religion: "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" ( Daniel 4:32), So minute is His providential care that "the very hairs of our head are all numbered" ( Matthew 10:30;  Acts 27:34;  Luke 21:18;  Daniel 3:27); nor is the smallest saint forgotten amidst countless multitudes: "Thou art as much His care as if beside Not man nor angel lived in heaven and earth; Thus sunbeams pour alike a glorious tide, To light up worlds or wake an insect's mirth." See  Amos 9:9. It is God who "clothes the grass of the field." "The lot cast into the lap" seems chance, "but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" ( Proverbs 16:33;  Jonah 1:7). God's guardianship of His people amidst dangers and plagues appears in Psalm 91 and in His putting a difference between Israel and the Egyptians ( Exodus 11:6-7;  Exodus 10:23); the dependence of all creatures on God's providence in Psalm 104;  Acts 17:28. Christ upholdeth all things by the word of His power" ( Hebrews 1:3); "by Him all things consist" ( Colossians 1:17; Job 38-41).

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

The superintendence and care which God exercises over creation. The arguments for the providence of God are generally drawn from the light of nature; the being of a God; the creation of the world; the wonderfully disposing and controlling the affairs and actions of men; from the absolute necessity of it; from the various blessings enjoyed by his creatures; the awful judgments that have been inflicted; and from the astonishing preservation of the Bible and the church through every age, notwithstanding the attempts of earth and hell against them. Providence has been divided into immediate and mediate, ordinary and extraordinary, common and special, universal and particular. Immediate providence is what is exercised by God himself, without the use of any instrument or second cause; mediate providence is what is exercised in the use of means; ordinary providence is what is exercised in the common course of means, and by the chain of second causes; extraordinary is what is out of the common way, as miraculous operations; common providence is what belongs to the whole world; special, what relates to the church; universal relates to the general upholding and preserving all things; particular relates to individuals in every action and circumstance. This last, however, is denied by some.

But, as a good writer observes, "The opinion entertained by some that the providence of God extends no farther than to a general superintendence of the laws of nature, without interposing in the particular concerns of individuals, is contrary both to reason and to Scripture. It renders the government of the Almighty altogether loose and contingent, and would leave no ground for reposing any trust under its protection; for the majority of human affairs would then be allowed to fluctuate in a fortuitous course, without moving in any regular direction, and without tending to any one scope. The uniform doctrine of the sacred writings is, that throughout the universe nothing happens without God; that his hand is ever active, and his decree or permission intervenes in all; that nothing is too great or unwieldy for his management, and nothing so minute and inconsiderable as to be below his inspection and care. While he is guiding the sun and moon in their course through the heavens; while in this inferior world he is ruling among empires, stilling the ragings of the waters, and the tumults of the people, he is at the same time watching over the humble good man, who, in the obscurity of his cottage, is serving and worshipping him." "In what manner, indeed, Providence interposes in human affairs; by what means it influences the thoughts and counsels of men, and, notwithstanding the influence it exerts, leaves to them the freedom of choice, are subjects of dark and mysterious nature, and which have given occasion to many an intricate controversy.

Let us remember, that the manner in which God influences the motion of all the heavenly bodies, the nature of that secret power by which he is ever directing the sun and the moon, the planets, stars, and comets, in their course through the heavens, while they appear to move themselves in a free course, are matters no less inexplicable to us than the manner in which he influences the councils of men. But though the mode of divine operation remains unknown, the fact of an over-ruling influence is equally certain in the moral as it is in the natural world. In cases where the fact is clearly authenticated, we are not at liberty to call its truth in question, merely because we understand not the manner in which it is brought about. Nothing can be more clear, from the testimony of Scripture, than that God takes part in all that happens among mankind; directing and over-ruling the whole course of events so as to make every one of them answer the designs of his wise and righteous government. We cannot, indeed, conceive God acting as the governor of the world at all, unless his government were to extend to all the events that happen. It is upon the supposition of a particular providence that our worship and prayers to him are founded. All his perfections would be utterly insignificant to us, if they were not exercised, on every occasion, according as the circumstances of his creatures required. The Almighty would then be no more than an unconcerned spectator of the behaviour of his subjects, regarding the obedient and the rebellious with an equal eye. "

The experience of every one also, must, more or less, bear testimony to it. We need not for this purpose have recourse to those sudden and unexpected vicissitudes which have sometimes astonished whole nations, and drawn their attention to the conspicuous hand of heaven. We need not appeal to the history of the statesman and the warrior; of the ambitious and the enterprising. We confine our observation to those whose lives have been most plain and simple, and who had no desire to depart from the ordinary train of conduct. In how many instances have we found, that we are held in subjection to a higher Power, on whom depends the accomplishment of our wishes and designs? Fondly we had projected some favourite plan: we thought that we had forecast and provided for all that might happen; we had taken our measures with such vigilant prudence, that on every side we seemed to ourselves perfectly guarded and secure; but, lo! some little event hath come about, unforeseen by us, and in its consequences at the first seemingly inconsiderable, which yet hath turned the whole course of things into a new direction, and blasted all our hopes. At other times our counsels and plans have been permitted to succeed: we then applauded our own wisdom, and sat down to feast on the happiness we had attained. To our surprise we found that happiness was not there, and that God's decree had appointed it to be only vanity. We labour for prosperity, and obtain it not. Unexpected, it is sometimes made to drop upon us as of its own accord. The happiness of man depends on secret springs too nice and delicate to be adjusted by human art: it required a favourable combination of external circumstances with the state of his own mind.

To accomplish on every occasion such a combination, is far beyond his power: but it is what God can at all times effect; as the whole series of external causes are arranged according to his pleasure, and the hearts of all men are in his hands, to turn them wheresoever he will, as rivers of water. From the imperfection of our knowledge to ascertain what is good for us, and from the defect of our power to bring about that good when known, arise all those disappointments which continually testify that the way of man is not in himself; that he is not the master of his own lot; that, though he may devise, it is God who directs; God, who can make the smallest incident an effectual instrument of his providence for overturning the most laboured plans of men. "Accident, and chance, and fortune, are words which we often hear mentioned, and much is ascribed to them in the life of man. But they are words without meaning; or, as far as they have any signification, they are no other than names for the unknown operations of Providence; for it is certain that in God's universe nothing comes to pass causelessly, or in vain. Every event has its own determined direction. That chaos of human affairs and intrigues where we can see no light, that mass of disorder and confusion which they often present to our view, is all clearness and order in the sight of Him who is governing and directing all, and bringing forward every event in its due time and place. The Lord sitteth on the flood.

The Lord maketh the wrath of man to praise him, as he maketh the hail and the rain obey his word. He hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." "To follow the leadings of providence, means no other than to act agreeably to the law of duty, prudence, and safety, or any particular circumstance, according to the direction or determination of the word or law of God. He follows the dictates of Providence, who takes a due survey of the situation he is placed in, compares it with the rules of the word which reaches his case, and acts accordingly. To know the will of God as it respects providence, there must be,

1. Deliberation.

2. Consultation.

3. Supplication. The tokens of the divine will and pleasure in any particular case are not to be gathered from our inclinations, particular frames, the form of Scripture phrases, impulses, nor even the event, as that cannot always be a rule of judgment; but whatever appears to be proper duty, true prudence, or real necessity, that we should esteem to be his will."

See Charnock, Flavel, Hoakwell, Hopkins, Sherlock, Collings, and Fawcet on Providence; Gill's Body of Divinity; Ridgley's Body of Divinity, qu. 18; Blair's Ser. ser. 18, vol. 5:; Forsythe's Piece on Providence, Enc. Brit.; Wollaston's Religion of Nature delineated, sec. 5; Thomson's Seasons, Winter, conclusion.

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

The opening question of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) asks: “What is your only comfort in life and death?” Answer: “That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ who so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation.” This statement gets at the heart of the biblical doctrine of providence. We can distinguish this understanding of providence from several distortions which have been advanced throughout the history of the church:

fatalism: the view that all events are determined by an inviolable law of cause and effect. This was a popular doctrine among the Stoics (as in Seneca's treatise, De Providentia ) who believed that all history and human life was subject to Fate.

deism: the idea that God created the world but then withdrew from its day-to-day governance, leaving it to run by itself as a machine. Deism safeguards the transcendence of God at the expense of His immanence.

pantheism: this is the opposite error of deism, for it virtually identifies God with His creation. God is a kind of World Soul or impersonal force which permeates all the universe.

dualism: the view that two opposing forces in the universe are locked in struggle with each other for its control. The ancient religions of Zoroaster and Mani posited two coeternal principles, darkness and light. A modern variant of this theory is set forth by process theology which holds that God is limited by the evolving universe, caught in a struggle with forces over against His control.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for providence ( pronoia ) occurs only once, and that with reference to human rather than divine foresight ( Acts 24:2 ). The verbal form ( pronoeo ) meaning “to know in advance” is found twice in the New Testament and eleven times in the Greek Old Testament. Yet the theme of God's provident care for the created order is present in all levels of the bibical material. The Psalms are filled with allusions to God's direction and sustenance of the creation. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork ( Psalm 19:1 ). God directs the seasons ( Psalm 104:19 ); the clouds are His chariot, the winds His messenger ( Psalm 104:3 ); He stills the storms and girds the mountain ranges ( Psalm 107:29;  Psalm 65:6 ); everything that hath breath is exhorted to praise the Lord “for his mighty acts” ( Psalm 150:2 ,Psalms 150:2, 150:6 ). The so-called nature Psalms are not dedicated to the glory of nature, but to the God who created and sustains it with His fatherly care.

Providence is related to creation on the one hand and to the history of salvation on the other. Theologians speak of this second aspect as “special” providence. In  Nehemiah 9:6-38 , God's general and special providence are brought together in the same passage. “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the earth, and all things that are therein, and thou preservest them all Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram,. . And madest known unto them thy precepts, by the hand of Moses thou art a gracious and merciful God. who keepest covenant.” After the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and during the long period of Exile, confidence in God's providence sustained the children of Israel through all of their doubts and disappointments (compare  Isaiah 40:21-31;  Isaiah 42:1-6 ).

Two classic passages in the New Testament direct Christians to focus on God's providential care as a remedy for overanxious concerns. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded His hearers not to worry about tomorrow, since the Heavenly Father cares much more for them than the birds of the air or the lilies of the field ( Matthew 6:25-34 ). The point is not that following Christ will exempt one from trouble or pain. What it does provide is the assurance of God's presence in the midst of the stormy tempests of life. Armed with this assurance we can face whatever may come in the knowledge that God will care for us, as He does daily for the birds and flowers.  Romans 8:28 (NIV) says: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything which happens to us is good, nor necessarily the result of a “snap decision” by God. It does mean that nothing can ever happen to us apart from the knowledge, presence, and love of God, and that in the most desperate of circumstances God is always at work towards the good. We are not given to understand how this is so. We are only told that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (  Romans 8:18-25 ).

The doctrine of providence encompasses many other themes in the Bible as well. Scripture presents God working in various ways to accomplish His purpose. Often God works through secondary causes such as natural law or special messengers, such as the angels. Sometimes God effects His will directly through miracles or other supernatural happenings. Frequently enough, as William Cowper put it, “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” Because we are sure that God is for us, not against us, we can afford to live with this mystery which impugns neither God's sovereignty nor His goodness. In our own day, the doctrine of providence has been challenged by the enormity of evil in the world. Some theologians have attempted to devise a theodicy, a rational justification of God's providential rule, as a response to the problem of evil. Yet the Bible itself presents no systematic answer to this dilemma. It affirms only the reality of evil, its vicious, demonic power in the present age, and the certainty of Christ's ultimate victory over its every manifestation ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ). In the meanwhile, Christians can face the future in the confidence that nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” ( Romans 8:39 NRSV). See Election; God; Predestination .

Timothy George

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

The word ‘providence’, though not found in the Bible, is commonly used to describe God’s control and government of all things. He maintains the universe and cares for his creatures according to his perfect love, wisdom and power. He directs all affairs, small and great, according to his purposes and brings them to their appointed goal ( Psalms 147:8-9;  Ecclesiastes 3:11;  Isaiah 10:5-7;  Matthew 10:29;  Ephesians 1:11;  Philippians 2:13;  1 Timothy 6:15).

God’s providence is evident everywhere – in the physical creation ( Psalms 29:3-6;  Psalms 78:13-16;  Psalms 104:27-28;  Matthew 6:26;  Matthew 6:28;  Acts 14:17), in the events of world history ( Proverbs 21:1;  Amos 9:7;  Luke 1:52;  Acts 17:26;  Romans 9:17) and in the lives of individuals ( Genesis 30:1-2;  Job 1:21;  Proverbs 16:33;  Matthew 6:25;  Matthew 6:30;  Matthew 10:30;  Luke 1:53). God’s people are particularly aware of these truths, because they see God at work in everything ( Ephesians 4:6).

Christians see not only God’s love in his preservation of nature, but also his purpose in directing it towards its final glory ( Matthew 5:44-45;  Romans 8:19-23;  Colossians 1:17). They see that his direction of history has produced Jesus the Saviour and will lead to victory over all evil at the final triumph of Christ’s kingdom ( Galatians 4:4;  Colossians 1:20;  2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). They see God at work in their own lives, lovingly controlling all their affairs in order to lead them to greater spiritual maturity ( Romans 8:28;  Philippians 4:12-13;  James 1:2-4; see also Predestination ; Suffering ).

Providence is not fate. There is no suggestion that because of God’s controlling power everything happens mechanically. Neither the world of nature nor the world of humankind is the helpless subject of unalterable impersonal laws that determine the course of events. All things and all people are in the hands of the living God who is responsive to their needs ( Genesis 50:20;  Jeremiah 17:7-10;  Jonah 4:11;  Matthew 8:26;  Matthew 15:32;  James 5:17-18; see Miracles ; Prayer ). Also, people cannot excuse their mistakes by trying to put the blame on God’s providence. People are moral beings and God holds them responsible for all their actions ( Deuteronomy 30:15-18;  Romans 2:15; cf.  Luke 22:22;  Acts 4:27-28).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

PROVIDENCE . 1 . The word is not found in the OT. In the NT it is used only once; in the exordium of his address to Felix, the orator Tertullus says: ‘By thy providence evils are corrected for this nation’ (  Acts 24:2 ). Here ‘providence’ simply means ‘foresight,’ as in   Malachi 4:6  Malachi 4:6 ‘the king’s providence.’

2 . The first appearance of the word ‘providence’ (Gr. pronoia ) in Jewish literature is in Wis 14:3 , where God is represented as making for a ship ‘a way in the sea’; the Jewish author, borrowing the expression from the Stoic philosophers, says: ‘Thy providence, O Father, guideth it along.’ In a later passage, recognizing the sterner aspect of the truth to which the OT also bears witness, he contrasts the destinies of the Israelites and Egyptians and describes the latter, when they were ‘prisoners of darkness,’ as ‘exiled from the eternal providence’ ( Wis 17:2 ).

3 . Although the OT does not contain the word ‘providence,’ it is a continuous and progressive revelation of Him ‘whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth.’ Historians narrate the gradual accomplishment of His redemptive purpose concerning the Chosen People and the world at large (  Genesis 50:20 ,   Exodus 8:22 ,   Deuteronomy 32:8 ff.; cf.   Psalms 74:12 ff.); poets delight to extol Him ‘whose tender mercies are over all his works’ (  Psalms 145:9; cf.   Psalms 29:3 ff.,   Psalms 104:1-35;   Psalms 136:1-26 ); prophets point to the proofs of God’s guidance in the past in order that the people may gain wisdom for the present and courage for the future (  Deuteronomy 32:7 ff.,   Haggai 2:9 ,   Isaiah 51:2 ,   Malachi 4:4 ff.). The Book of Job has been called ‘the book of Providence,’ because it not only gives the author’s solution of perplexing problems, but also ‘furnishes reasons for believing in the righteous providence of God from the consideration of His character and His dominion over nature’ (Oehler, Theology of OT , ii. 474; cf.   Job 27:1-23;   Job 34:10;   Job 36:22;   Job 37:21 ).

4 . Belief in Providence stands or falls with belief in a personal God. It is incompatible with mechanical or pantheistic theories of Creation. Ancient problems which perplexed Greek philosophers and Hebrew sages press heavily upon the modern mind as it strives to reconcile its trust in Divine providence with the reign of law in the universe and with the existence of pain and evil. Jesus Christ taught that the laws of nature are the established methods of His Heavenly Father’s working, and that they fulfil as well as reveal His will (  Matthew 6:25 ff;   Matthew 10:29 ff.,   John 5:17 ). Belief in Providence means to the Christian, trust in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has so clearly revealed His will in His Son as to make it plain to His children that natural laws may not only subserve moral and spiritual ends in this present time, but may also further His unerring purposes which are not bounded by this mortal life (  Romans 8:28 ,   2 Corinthians 4:11 ff.,   1 Peter 1:6 ff.).

J. G. Tasker.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Psalm 18:35 63:8 Acts 17:28 Colossians 1:17 Hebrews 1:3 Psalm 104:14 135:5-7 Acts 14:17 Psalm 104:21-29 Matthew 6:26 10:29 1 Chronicles 16:31 Psalm 47:7 Proverbs 21:1 Job 12:23 Daniel 2:21 4:25 1 Samuel 2:6 Psalm 18:30 Luke 1:53 James 4:13-15 Exodus 12:36 1 Samuel 24:9-15 Psalm 33:14,15 Proverbs 16:1 19:21 20:24 21:1 2 Samuel 16:10 24:1 Romans 11:32 Acts 4:27,28 Philippians 2:13 4:13 2 12:9,10 Ephesians 2:10 Galatians 5:22-25

As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God's permission ( Genesis 45:5;  50:20 . Compare  1 Samuel 6:6;  Exodus 7:13;  14:17;  Acts 2:3;  3:18;  4:27,28 ), and as controlled ( Psalm 76:10 ) and overruled for good ( Genesis 50:20;  Acts 3:13 ). God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, overrules it for good.

The mode of God's providential government is altogether unexplained. We only know that it is a fact that God does govern all his creatures and all their actions; that this government is universal ( Psalm 103:17-19 ), particular ( Matthew 10:29-31 ), efficacious ( Psalm 33:11;  Job 23:13 ), embraces events apparently contingent ( Proverbs 16:9,33;  19:21;  21:1 ), is consistent with his own perfection ( 2 Timothy 2:13 ), and to his own glory ( Romans 9:17;  11:36 ).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

We meet with this word (as far as I recollect) but once in the Bible, and that is in the famous speech of the orator Tertullus. ( Acts 24:2) If the consult the Scripture, he will reader will find the occasion upon which it was used, I should not have thought it necessary to have given it a place in this work, but with the hope of correcting the improper application of it which is but too common in life. I have noticed upon numberless occasions this error, yea, even among truly pious persons, from whom one might have expected better things; and therefore I hope I shall not offend in my observations upon it. The word providence is somewhat similar to that of dispensation, or ordination, and hath a general reference to the appointments of God. Hence when we speak of the Lord's government, either in the kingdoms of nature or grace, we say, the Lord by his providence hath ordered all things in heaven and in earth. It is he that provideth for the raven his food. ( Job 38:41) So again, speaking of the Lord's care over his people, it is said, "thou preparest them corn when thou hast so provided for it." ( Psalms 65:9) From all which it appears, that providence or providing are acts of the Lord, and not the Lord himself. Therefore when it is said, (as it is too frequently said) I hope providence will do this or that, I trust to providence, providence hath been very good, and the like, this is ascribing to the deed what belongs only to the Lord, the doer of that deed; and however unintentional on the part of the speaker, it becomes a great error. We should never give any glory to the creatures of God which belongs only to God himself; and to ascribe to providence what belongs only to the God of his providences, is certainly doing so. Both providence and grace are creatures of God; and however the Lord is carrying on his merciful purposes of redemption by both to his church and people, yet to give glory to either, instead of glorifying the Author of either, is to overlook the loveliness of the Lord in the loveliness of his creatures, and to place secondary things in the stead of the first. Whereas we ought to say, to use somewhat like the form of the apostle James, "If the Lord will, we shall live by his providence and grace." ( James 4:15)

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

 Acts 24:2 , a superintending and forecasting care. The providence of God upholds and governs every created thing. Its operation is coextensive with the universe, and as unceasing as the flow of time. All his attributes are engaged in it. He provideth for the raven his food, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing. The Bible shows us all nature looking up to him and depending upon him,  Job 38:41;  Psalm 104:1-35;  145:15,16;  147:8-9; and uniformly declares that every occurrence, as well as every being, is perfectly controlled by him. There is no such thong as chance in the universe; "the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord,"  Proverbs 16:23 . Not a sparrow, nor a hair of the head, falls to the ground without his knowledge,  Isaiah 14:26-27;  Matthew 10:29-30;  Acts 17:24 -  29 . Nothing that was not too minute for God to create, is too minute for him to preserve and control. The history of each man, the rise and fall of nations, and the progress of the church of Christ, reveal at every step the hand of Him who "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

King James Dictionary [11]

PROV'IDENCE, n. L. providentia.

1. The act of providing or preparing for future use or application.

Providence for war is the best prevention of it. Now little used.

2. Foresight timely care particularly, active foresight, or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation. How many of the troubles and perplexities of life proceed from want of providence! 3. In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence,but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself. 4. Prudence in the management of one's concerns or in private economy.

Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection [12]

An old authority assures us that 'the Jews fancy, concerning the cloud that conducted Israel through the wilderness, that it did not only show them the way, but also plane it; that it did not only lead them in the way which they must go, but also fit the way for them to go upon it; that it cleared all the mountains and smoothed all the rocks; that it cleared all the bushes and removed all the rubs.'

What is probably a mere legend as to the type is abundantly true of the providence of God, which it so accurately represents. Our gracious God not only leads us in the way of mercy, but he prepares our path before us, providing for all our wants even before they occur.

Webster's Dictionary [13]

(1): ( n.) Foresight; care; especially, the foresight and care which God manifests for his creatures; hence, God himself, regarded as exercising a constant wise prescience.

(2): ( n.) The act of providing or preparing for future use or application; a making ready; preparation.

(3): ( n.) A manifestation of the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures; an event ordained by divine direction.

(4): ( n.) Prudence in the management of one's concerns; economy; frugality.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

prov´i - dens  :

I. Providence Defined

II. Different Spheres Of Providential Activi TY Distinguished

III. Biblical Presentation Of The Doctrine Of PROVIDENCE

1. Divine Providence in the Old Testament Scriptures

(1) Providence in the Pentateuch

(2) The Historical Books of the Old Testament

(3) The Psalms

(4) The Wisdom Literature

(5) The Book of Job

(6) The Prophetical Writings

2. Divine Providence in the New Testament

(1) The Synoptic Gospels

(2) The Johannine Writings

(3) The Book of Acts and Other New Testament History

(4) The Pauline Epistles

(5) The Petrine Epistles, and Other New Testament Writings

3. Old Testament and New Testament Doctrines of Providence Compared

(1) The New Emphasis on the Fatherhood and Love of God

(2) The Place of Christ and the Holy Spirit in Providence

(3) The New Emphasis upon Moral and Spiritual Blessings

IV. Discussion Of The Contents Of The Biblic AL Doctrine

1. Different Views of Providence Compared

(1) The Atheistic or Materialistic View

(2) The Pantheistic View

(3) The Deistic View

(4) The Theistic or Biblical View

(5) The Divine Immanence

2. The Divine Purpose and Final End of Providence

3. Special Providence

(1) Spiritual, Not Material, Good to Man the End Sought in Special Providence

(2) Special Providence and "Accidents"

(3) Special Providence as Related to Piety and Prayer

(4) Special Providence as Related to Human Cooperation

(5) General and Special Providence Both Equally Divine

4. Divine Providence and Human Free Will

(1) Divine Providence as Related to Willing Wills

(2) Divine Providence as Related to Sinful Free Will

5. Divine Providence as Related to Natural and Moral Evil

6. Evil Providentially Overruled for Good

7. Interpreting Providence

8. Conclusion


I. Providence Defined.

The word "provide" (from Latin providere ) means etymologically "to foresee." The corresponding Greek word, πρόνοια , prónoia , means "forethought." Forethought and foresight imply a future end, a goal and a definite purpose and plan for attaining that end. The doctrine of final ends is a doctrine of final causes, and means that that which is last in realization and attainment is first in mind and thought. The most essential attribute of rational beings is that they act with reference to an end; that they act not only with thought but with forethought. As, therefore, it is characteristic of rational beings to make preparation for every event that is foreseen or anticipated, the word "providence" has come to be used less in its original etymological meaning of foresight than to signify that preparation care and supervision which are necessary to secure a desired future result. While all rational beings exercise a providence proportioned to their powers, yet it is only when the word is used with reference to the Divine Being who is possessed of infinite knowledge and power that it takes on its real and true significance. The doctrine of divine providence, therefore, has reference to that preservation care and government which God exercises over all things that He has created in order they may accomplish the ends for which they were created.

"Providence is the most comprehensive term in the language of theology. It is the background of all the several departments of religious truth, a background mysterious in its commingled brightness and darkness. It penetrates and fills the whole compass of the relations of man with his Maker. It connects the unseen God with the visible creation, and the visible creation with the work of redemption, and redemption with personal salvation, and personal salvation with the end of all things. It carries our thoughts back to the supreme purpose which was in the beginning with God, and forward to the foreseen end and consummation of all things, while it includes between these the whole infinite variety of the dealings of God with man" (W. B. Pope, Compendium of Christian Theology , I, 456).

II. Different Spheres of Providential Activity Distinguished.

The created universe may be conveniently divided, with reference divine providence, into three departments: first, the inanimate or physical universe, which is conserved or governed by God according to certain uniform principles called the laws of Nature; secondly, animate existence, embracing the vegetable and animal world, over which God exercises that providential care which is necessary to sustain the life that He created; and thirdly, the rational world, composed of beings who, in addition to animate life, are possessed of reason and moral free agency, and are governed by God, not necessitatively, but through an appeal to reason, they having the power to obey or disobey the laws of God according to the decision of their own free wills. This widespread care and supervision which God exercises over His created universe is commonly designated as His general providence which embraces alike the evil and the good, in addition to which there is a more special and particular providence which He exercises over and in behalf of the good, those whose wills are in harmony with the divine will.

III. Biblical Presentation of the Doctrine of Providence.

The word "providence" is used only once in the Scriptures ( Acts 24:2 ), and here it refers, not to God, but to the forethought and work of man, in which sense it is now seldom used. (See also  Romans 13:14 , where the same Greek word is translated "provision.") While, however, the Biblical use of the word calls for little consideration, the doctrine indicated by the term "providence" is one of the most significant in the Christian system, and is either distinctly stated or plainly assumed by every Biblical writer. The Old Testament Scriptures are best understood when interpreted as a progressive revelation of God's providential purpose for Israel and the world. Messianic expectations pervade the entire life and literature of the Hebrew people, and the entire Old Testament dispensation may not improperly be regarded as the moral training and providential preparation of the world, and especially of the chosen people, for the coming Messiah. In the apocryphal "Book of Wisdom" the word "providence" is twice used (Wisd 14:3; 17:2) in reference to God's government of the World. Rabbinical Judaism, according to Josephus, was much occupied with discussing the relation of divine providence to human free will. The Sadducees, he tells us, held an extreme view of human freedom, while the Essenes were believers in absolute fate; the Pharisees, avoiding these extremes, believed in both the overruling providence of God and in the freedom and responsibility of man ( Ant. , Xiii , v, 9; Xviii , i, 3; BJ , II, viii, 14). See Pharisees . The New Testament begins with the announcement that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand," which declaration carries along with it the idea of a providential purpose and design running through the preceding dispensation that prepared for the Messiah's coming. But the work of Christ is set forth in the New Testament, not only as the culmination of a divine providence that preceded it, but as the beginning of a new providential order, a definite and far-reaching plan, for the redemption of the world, a forethought and plan so comprehensive that it gives to the very idea of divine providence a new, larger and richer meaning, both intensively and extensively, than it ever had before. The minutest want of the humblest individual and the largest interests of the world-wide kingdom of God are alike embraced within the scope of divine providence as it is set forth by Christ and the apostles.

1. Divine Providence in the Old Testament Scriptures:

(1) Providence in the Pentateuch.

The opening sentence of the Scriptures, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," is a noble and majestic affirmation of God's essential relationship to the origin of all things. It is followed by numerous utterances scattered throughout the sacred volume that declare that He who created also preserves and governs all that He created. But the Israelite nation was from the beginning of its history, in the Hebrew conception, the special object of God's providence and care, though it was declared that Yahweh's lordship and government extended over all the earth ( Exodus 8:22 ). The Deuteronomist ( Deuteronomy 10:14 ) uses language which implies that divine possession of all things in heaven and earth carries along with it the idea of divine providence and control; and he also regards Israel as Yahweh's peculiar possession and special care ( Deuteronomy 32:8 ).

This special providence that was over the elect nation as a whole was also minute and particular, in that special individuals were chosen to serve a providential purpose in the making of the nation, and were divinely-guided in the accomplishment of their providential mission. Thus Abraham's providential place in history is set forth in  Nehemiah 9:7 ,  Nehemiah 9:8 . Jacob acknowledges the same providential hand in his life ( Genesis 31:42;  Genesis 48:15 ). The life of Joseph abounds in evidences of a divine providence ( Genesis 45:5 ,  Genesis 45:7;  Genesis 50:20 ). The whole life-history of Moses as it is found in the Pentateuch is a study in the doctrine of divine providence. Other lives as set forth in these early narratives may be less notable, but they are not less indebted to divine providence for what they are and for what they accomplish for others. Indeed, as Professor Oehler remarks, "The whole Pentateuchal history of revelation is nothing but the activity of that divine providence which in order to the realization of the divine aim, is at once directed to the whole, and at the same time proves itself efficacious in the direction of the life of separate men, and in the guiding of all circumstances" ( Old Testament Theology ).

(2) The Historical Books of the Old Testament.

In a sense all the books of the Old Testament are historical in that they furnish material for writing a history of the people of Israel. See Israel , History Of The People . The Pentateuch, the Poetical Books, the Wisdom Literature, the Prophets, all furnish material for writing Old Testament history; but there is still left a body of literature, including the books from Joshua to Esther that may with peculiar fitness designated as historical. These books are all, in an important sense, an interpretation and presentation of the facts of Hebrew history in their relation to divine providence. The sacred historians undertake to give something of a divine philosophy of history, to interpret in a religious way the facts of history, to point out the evils of individual and national sin and the rewards and blessings of righteousness, and to show God's ever-present and ever-guiding hand in human history - that He is not a silent spectator of human affairs, but the supreme moral Governor of the universe, to whom individuals and nations alike owe allegiance. To the Hebrew historian every event in the life of the nation has a moral significance, both because of its relation to God and because of its bearing on the providential mission and testing of Israel as the people of God. The Book of Judges, which covers the "dark ages" of Bible history, and is an enigma to many in the study of God's hand in history, shows how far God must needs condescend at times in His use of imperfect and even sensual men through whom to reveal His will and accomplish His work in the world. While therefore He condescends to use as instruments of His providence such men as Samson and Jephthah, it is never through these that He does His greatest work, but through an Abraham, a Joseph, a Moses, an Isaiah, through men of lofty moral character. And this is one of the most notable lessons of Old Testament history if it be studied as a revelation of God's providential methods and instrumentalities. Among these historical writers none has given clearer and stronger expression to God's providential relation to the physical world as its preserver and to the moral world as its Divine Governor than the author of Nehemiah. "Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all.... Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them" ( Nehemiah 9:6 ,  Nehemiah 9:19 ,  Nehemiah 9:20 the King James Version). His words reflect the views that were entertained by all the Old Testament historains as to God's hand in the government and guidance of the nation. Hebrew history, because of the divine promises and divine providence, is ever moving forward toward the Messianic goal.

(3) The Psalms.

The poets are among the world's greatest religious teachers, and theology of the best poets generally represents the highest and purest faith that is found among a people. Applying this truth to the Hebrew race, we may say that in the Psalms and the Book of Job we reach the high-water mark of the Old Testament revelation as to the doctrine of divine providence. The Psalmist's God is not only the Creator and Preserver of all things, but is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a Being so full of tender mercy and loving-kindness that we cannot fail to identify Him with the God whom Christ taught us to call "our Father." Nowhere else in the entire Scriptures, except in the Sermon on the Mount, can we find such a full and clear exhibition of the minute and special providence of God over His faithful and believing children as in the Psalms - notably such as  Psalm 91;  103;  104,139 .  Psalm 105 traces God's hand in providential and gracious guidance through every stage of Israel's wondrous history. Thanksgiving and praise for providential mercies and blessings abound in   Psalm 44;  66;  78;  Psalm 85:1-13;  Psalm 138:1-8 . While the relation of God's power and providence to the physical universe and to the material and temporal blessings of life is constantly asserted in the Psalms, yet it is the connection of God's providence with man's ethical and spiritual nature, with righteousness and faith and love, that marks the highest characteristic of the Psalmist's revelation of the doctrine of providence. That righteousness and obedience are necessary conditions and accompaniments of divine providence in its moral aspects and results is evidenced by numerous declarations of the psalmists ( Psalm 1:6;  Psalm 31:19 ,  Psalm 31:20;  Psalm 74:12;  Psalm 84:11;  Psalm 91:1;  Psalm 125:2 ). This thought finds happiest expression in  Psalm 37:23 the King James Version: "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, and he delighteth in his way." The inspired poets make it plain that the purpose of divine providence is not merely to meet temporal wants and bring earthly blessings, but to secure the moral good of individuals and nations.

(4) The Wisdom Literature.

The doctrine of providence finds ample and varied expression in the wisdom Lit. of the Old Testament, notably in the Book of Proverbs. The power that preserves and governs and guides is always recognized as inseparable from the power that creates and commands ( Proverbs 3:21-26;  Proverbs 16:4 ). Divine providence does not work independently of man's free will; providential blessings are conditioned on character and conduct ( Proverbs 26:10 the King James Version;   Proverbs 2:7 ,  Proverbs 2:8;  Proverbs 12:2 ,  Proverbs 12:21 ). There cannot be, in Old Testament terms of faith, any stronger statement of the doctrine of divine providence than that given by the Wise Men of Israel in the following utterances recorded in the Book of Proverbs: "In thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths" ( Proverbs 3:6 ); "A man's heart deviseth his way, but Yahweh directeth his steps" ( Proverbs 16:9 ) "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of Yahweh" ( Proverbs 16:33 ); "A man's goings are of Yahweh" ( Proverbs 20:24 ); "The king's heart is in the hand of Yahweh as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever he will" ( Proverbs 21:1 ); "The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but victory is of Yahweh" ( Proverbs 21:31 ). See also  Proverbs 3:21-26;  Proverbs 12:2 ,  Proverbs 12:21 . The conception of providence that is presented in the Book of Ecclesiastes seems to reflect the views of one who had had experience in sin and had come into close contact with many of life's ills. All things have their appointed time, but the realization of the providential purposes and ends of creaturely existence is, wherever human free agency is involved, always conditioned upon man's exercise of his free will. The God of providence rules and overrules, but He does not by His omnipotence overpower and override and destroy man's true freedom. Things that are do not reflect God's perfect providence, but rather His providence as affected by human free agency and as marred by man's sin ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 ). "I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live: And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God" ( Ecclesiastes 3:12 ,  Ecclesiastes 3:13; see also  Ecclesiastes 3:14 ); "The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God" ( Ecclesiastes 9:1 ); "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong" ( Ecclesiastes 9:11 ). The same conclusion that the author of Ecclesiastes reached as to how human life is affected by divine providence and man's sin has found expression in the oft-quoted lines of the great poet:

"There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will."

(5) The Book of Job.

The greatest of all the inspired contributions to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, the Book of Job, demands special consideration. It is the one book in the Bible that is devoted wholly to a discussion of divine providence. The perplexities of a thoughtful mind on the subject of divine providence and its relation to human suffering have nowhere in the literature of the world found stronger and clearer expression than in this inspired drama which bears the name of its unique and marvelous hero, Job. Job represents not only a great sufferer, but an honest doubter: he dared to doubt theology of his day, a theology which he had himself doubtless believed until experience, the best of all teachers, taught him its utter inadequacy to explain the deepest problems of human life and of divine providence. The purpose of this book in the inspired volume seems to be to correct the prevailing theology of the day with regard to the subject of Sin and suffering in their relation to divine providence. There is no more deplorable and hurtful error that a false theology could teach than that all suffering in this world is a proof of sin and a measure of one's guilt (see Affliction ). It is hard enough for the innocent to suffer. To add to their suffering by them that it is all because they are awful sinners, even though their hearts assure them that they are not, is to lay upon the innocent a burden too grievous to be borne. The value in the inspired Canon of a book written to reveal the error of such a misleading doctrine as this cannot easily be over-estimated. The invaluable contribution which this book makes to the Biblical doctrine of providence is to be found, not in individual and detached sayings, striking and suggestive as some of these may be, but rather in the book as a whole. Statements concerning God's general abound in this inspired drama - such these, for example: "Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of Yahweh hath wrought this, in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?" ( Job 12:9 ,  Job 12:10 ); "Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world?... He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead" ( Job 34:13 ,  Job 34:14 the King James Version).

But the special contribution of the Book of Job to the doctrine of divine providence, as already indicated, is to set forth its connection with the fact of sin and suffering. Perplexed souls in all ages have been asking: If God be all-powerful and all-good, why should there be any suffering in a world which He created and over which He rules? If He cannot prevent suffering is He omnipotent? If He can, but will not prevent suffering, is He infinitely good? Does the book solve the mystery? We cannot claim that it does. But it does vindicate the character of God, the Creator, and of Job, the moral free agent under trial. It does show the place of suffering in a moral world where free agents are forming Character; it does show that perfect moral character is made, not by divine omnipotence, but by trial, and that physical suffering serves a moral end in God's providential government of men and nations. While the book does not clear the problem of mystery, it does show how on the dark background of a suffering world the luminous holiness of divine and human character may be revealed. The picture of this suffering man of Uz, racked with bodily pains and irritated by the ill-spoken words of well-meaning friends, planting himself on the solid rock of his own conscious rectitude, and defying earth and hell to prove him guilty of wrong, and knowing that his Vindicator liveth and would come to his rescue - that is an inspired picture that will make every innocent sufferer who reads it stronger until the end of time. See also Job , Book Of .

(6) The Prophetical Writings.

Nowhere in all literature is the existence and supremacy of a moral and providential order in the world more clearly recognized thin in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. These writings are best understood when interpreted as the moral messages and passionate appeals of men who were not only prophets and preachers of righteousness to their own times, but students and teachers of the moral philosophy of history for all time, seers, men of vision, who interpreted all events in the light of their bearing on this moral and providential order, in which divine order the Israelite nation had no small part, and over which Israel's God was sovereign, doing "according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth." While each prophetic message takes its coloring from the political, social and moral conditions that called it forth, and therefore differs from every other message, the prophets are all one in their insistence upon the supremacy and divine authority of this moral order, and in their looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and the setting up of the Messianic kingdom as the providential goal and consummation of the moral order. They all describe in varying degrees of light and shade a coming time when One born of their own oppressed and down-trodden race should come in power and glory, and set up a kingdom of righteousness and love in the earth, into which kingdom all nations shall be ultimately gathered; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. God's providential government of the nation was always and everywhere directed toward this Messianic goal. The language which an inspired writer puts into the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen king, is an expression, not so much of the Gentileconception of God and His government, as it is of the faith of a Hebrew prophet concerning God's relationship to men and nations: "He doeth according to his will in army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" ( Daniel 4:35 ). The providential blessings which the prophets promise to the people, whether to individuals or to the nation, are never a matter of mere omnipotence or favoritism, but are inseparably connected with righteous conduct and holy character. The blessings promised are mainly spiritual, but whether spiritual or material, they are always conditioned on righteousness. The Book of Isaiah is especially rich in passages that emphasize the place of moral conduct and character in God's providential government of the world, the supreme purpose and end of which are to establish a kingdom of righteousness in the earth ( Isaiah 33:13-16;  Isaiah 35:8-10;  Isaiah 43:2;  Isaiah 46:4;  Isaiah 54:14-17 ). Divine providence is both personal and national, and of each it is declared in varying terms of assurance that "Yahweh will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward" ( Isaiah 52:12 ). Each of the major and minor prophets confirms and re-enforces the teachings of this greatest and most truly representative of all the Old Testament prophets.

2. Divine Providence in the New Testament:

(1) The Synoptic Gospels.

The Synoptic Gospels furnish the richest possible material for a study of the doctrine of divine providence. They recognize in the advent of Christ the fulfillment of a long line of Messianic prophecies and the culmination of providential purposes and plans that had been in the divine mind from the beginning and awaited the fullness of time for their revelation in the Incarnation ( Matthew 1:22;  Matthew 2:5 ,  Matthew 2:15;  Matthew 3:3 ). In His private and personal life of service and prayer Christ is a model of filial trust in the providence of the heavenly Father ( Matthew 11:25;  Matthew 26:39;  Mark 1:35;  Mark 6:46;  Luke 3:21;  Luke 11:1 ). His private and public utterances abound in declarations concerning God's ever-watchful and loving care for all His creatures, but above all for those creatures who bear His own image; while His teachings concerning the Kingdom of God reveal a divine providential plan for the world's redemption and education extending of necessity far into the future; and still beyond that, in His vision of divine providence, comes a day of final judgment, of retribution and reward, followed by a new and eternal order of things, in which the destiny of every man will be determined by his conduct and character in this present life (see our Lord's parables concerning the Kingdom: Mt 13:24-50;  Mark 4:26 ff;   Luke 14:16 ff; also Mt 24 and 25). The many familiar utterances of our Lord, found in the Synoptic Gospels, contain the most essential and precious of all the New Testament revelations concerning the providence of the heavenly Father (  Matthew 5:45;  Matthew 6:26-34;  Matthew 10:29-31;  Luke 21:16-18 ).

(2) The Johannine Writings.

John's Gospel differs from the Synoptic Gospels in its mode of presenting the doctrine of providence chiefly in that it goes back to the mind and purpose of God in the very beginning ( John 1:1-5 ), whereas the Synoptic Gospels simply go back to the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Both the Gospel and the Epistles of John in their presentation of divine providence place the greatest possible emphasis on divine love and filial trust, the latter rising in many places to the point of positive assurance. The Book of Revelation is a prophetic vision, in apocalyptic form, of God's providential purpose for the future, dealing not so much with individuals as with nations and with the far-reaching movements of history extending through the centuries. God is revealed in John's writings, not as an omnipotent and arbitrary Sovereign, but as an all-loving Father, who not only cares for His children in this life but is building for them in the world to come a house of many mansions (Jn 14:1-20).

(3) The Book of Acts and Other New Testament History.

The historical portions of the New Testament, as contained in the Acts, and elsewhere, while not eliminating or depreciating the element of human freedom in individuals and nations, yet recognize in human life and history the ever-present and all-controlling mind of that God in whom, it is declared, "we live, and move, and have our being" ( Acts 17:28 ). The career of the first distinctive New Testament character begins with these words: "There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John" ( John 1:6 ). But not only John, the forerunner, but every other individual, according to the New Testament conceptions, is a man "sent from God." The apostles conceive themselves to be such; Stephen, the martyr, was such; Paul was such ( Acts 22:21 ). New Testament biography is a study in providentially guided lives, not omitting references to those who refuse to be so guided - for such is the power of human free agency, many who are "sent from God" refuse to go upon their divinely-appointed mission. The Day of Pentecost is the revelation of a new power in history - a revelation of the place and power which the divine-human Christ and the Holy Spirit are to have henceforth in making history - in making the character of the men and the nations whose deeds are to make history. The most potent moral force in history is to be, from the day of Pentecost on, the ascended incarnate Christ, and He is to be all the more influential in the world after His ascension, when His work shall be done through the Holy Spirit. This is the historical view of providence as connected with the person of Christ, which the New Testament historians present, and which we, after 19 centuries of Christian history, are warranted in holding more confidently and firmly even than the Christians of the 1st century could hold it; for the Christian centuries have proved it true. What God is in Nature Christ is in history. All history is becoming Christian history, thus realizing the New Testament conception of divine providence in and through Christ.

(4) The Pauline Writings.

No character of whom we have any account in Christian literature was providentially prepared for his life-work and providentially guided in accomplishing that life-work more truly than was the apostle Paul. We find, there. fore, as we would antecedently expect, that Paul's speeches and writings abound in proofs of his absolute faith in the overruling providence of an all-wise God. His doctrine of predestination and foreordination is best understood when interpreted, not as a divine power predetermining human destiny and nullifying the human will, but as a conception of divine providence as the eternal purpose of God to accomplish an end contemplated and foreseen from the beginning, namely, the redemption of the world and the creation in and through Christ of a new and holy humanity. Every one of the Pauline Epistles bears witness to the author's faith in a divine providence that overrules and guides the life of every soul that works in harmony with the divine will; but this providence is working to secure as its chief end, not material and temporal blessings, but the moral and spiritual good of those concerned. Paul's teachings concerning divine providence as it concerns individuals and is conditioned on character may be found summed up in what is perhaps the most comprehensive single sentence concerning providence that was ever written: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" ( Romans 8:28 the King James Version). Any true exposition of the New Testament doctrine of divine providence that may be given can only be an unfolding of the content of this brief but comprehensive statement. The greatest of the Pauline Epistles, that to the Romans, is a study in the divine philosophy of history, a revelation of God's providential purpose and plan concerning the salvation, not merely of individuals, but of the nations. These purposes, as Paul views them, whether they concern individuals or the entire race, are always associated with the mediatorial ministry of Christ: "For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever" (  Romans 11:36 ).

(5) The Petrine Epistles, and Other New Testament Writings.

The Epistles of Peter, James, and Jude, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, are all in entire accord with the teachings of the other New Testament writings already considered. Peter, who at first found it so hard to see how God's providential purpose in and for the Messiah could be realized if Christ should suffer and die, came later to see that the power and the glory of Christ and His all-conquering gospel are inseparably connected with the sufferings and death of the Messiah ( 1 Peter 1:11 ,  1 Peter 1:12 ). No statement concerning God's providence over the righteous can be clearer or stronger than the following utterance of Peter: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good?" ( 1 Peter 3:12 ,  1 Peter 3:13 ). The purpose and end of divine providence as viewed in the Epistle of James are always ethical: as conduct and character are the end and crown of Christian effort, so they are the end and aim of divine providence as it cooperates with men to make them perfect ( James 1:5 ,  James 1:17 ,  James 1:27;  James 2:5;  James 5:7 ). The apologetic value of the Epistle to the Hebrews grows out of the strong proof it presents that Christ is the fulfillment, not only of the Messianic prophecies and expectations of Israel, but of the providential purposes and plans of that God who at sundry times and in divers manners had spoken in times past unto the fathers by a long line of prophets ( Hebrews 1:1 ,  Hebrews 1:2; 11:7-40;  Hebrews 13:20 ,  Hebrews 13:21 ). It would be difficult to crowd into one short chapter a more comprehensive study of the lessons of history that illustrate the workings and the retributions of the moral law under divine providence than is found in the Epistle of Jude (see especially  Judges 1:5 ,  Judges 1:7 ,  Judges 1:11 ,  Judges 1:14 ,  Judges 1:15 ,  Judges 1:24 ).

3. Old Testament and New Testament Doctrines of Providence Compared:

From this brief survey of the teachings of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures concerning the doctrine of divine providence, it will be seen that, while the New Testament reaffirms in most particulars the doctrine of divine providence as set forth in the Old Testament Scriptures, there are three particulars in which the points of emphasis are changed, and by which new and changed emphasis the doctrine is greatly enriched in the New Testament.

(1) The New Emphasis on the Fatherhood and Love of God.

The God of providence in the Old Testament is regarded as a Sovereign whose will is to be obeyed, and His leading attributes are omnipotence and holiness, whereas in the New Testament God is revealed as the heavenly Father, and His providence is set forth as the forethought and care of a father for his children. His leading attributes here are love and holiness - H is very omnipotence is the omnipotence of love. To teach that God is not only a righteous Ruler to be feared and adored, but a tender and loving Father who is ever thinking of and caring for His children, is to make God lovable and turn His providence into an administration of Almighty love.

(2) The Place of Christ and the Holy Spirit in Providence.

The doctrine of providence in the New Testament is connected with the person of Christ and the administration of the Holy Spirit, in a manner that distinguishes it from the Old Testament presentation of providence as the work of the one God who was there revealed in the simple unity of His nature without distinction of persons. If it be true, as some theologians have taught, that "God the Father plans, God the Son executes, and God the Holy Ghost applies," then it would follow that providence is the work exclusively of Christ and the Holy Spirit; but this theological formula, while it has suggestive value, cannot be accepted as an accurate statement of Biblical doctrine with reference to divine providence. Christ constantly refers creation and providence to the Father. But He also said, "My Father worketh even until now, and I work" ( John 5:17 ), and the New Testament writers attribute to Christ the work both of creation and providence. Thus Paul: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist" ( Colossians 1:16 ,  Colossians 1:17 the King James Version). Although this and other passages refer to Christ's relation to general providence, including the government of the physical universe, yet it is only when the divine government is concerned with the redemption of a lost world and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the hearts and lives of men, that the full extent of Christ's part in divine providence can be realized. The saving and perfecting of men is the supreme purpose of providence, if it be viewed from the New Testament standpoint, which is that of Christ's mediatorial ministry.

(3) The New Emphasis upon Moral and Spiritual Blessings.

The New Testament not only subordinates the material and temporal aspects of providence to the spiritual and eternal more than does the Old Testament, but Christ and the apostles, to an extent that finds no parallel in the Old Testament, place the emphasis of their teaching concerning providence upon man's moral needs and eternal interests, and upon the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, the establishment of which in the hearts and lives of men is the one great object for which both the heavenly Father and His children are ceaselessly working. To be free from sin, to be holy in heart and useful in life, to love and obey God as a Father, to love and serve men as brothers - this is the ideal and the end for which, according to the New Testament, men should work and pray, and this is the end toward which God is working by His ceaseless cooperative providence.

IV. Discussion of the Contents of the Biblical Doctrine.

1. Different Views of Providence Compared:

There are four distinct conceptions of providence as it concerns God's relation to the ongoing of the world and to man, the rational and moral free agent whom He has placed upon it, namely, the atheistic, the deistic, the pantheistic, and theistic or Biblical view. See also God , I, 4. The last named view can best be understood only when stated in comparison and contrast with these opposing views.

(1) The Atheistic or Materialistic View:

Atheism or materialism, stands at one extreme, affirming that there is no God, that the material universe is eternal, and that from material atoms, eternally endowed with certain properties, there have come, by a process of evolution, all existing forms of vegetable, animal and rational life. As materialism denies the existence of a personal Creator, it, of course, denies any and every doctrine of divine providence.

(2) The Pantheistic View:

Pantheism stands at the other extreme from atheism, teaching that God is everything and everything is God. The created universe is "the living garment" of God - G od is the soul of the world, the universe His existence form. But God is an infinite It, not a personal Being who can express His existence in terms of selfconsciousness - I , Thou, He, Providence, according to pantheism, is simply the evolution of impersonal deity, differing from materialism only in the name which it gives to the infinite substance from which all things flow.

(3) The Deistic View:

Deism teaches that there is a God, and that He created the world, but created things do not need His presence and the exercise of His power in order to continue in existence and fulfill their functions. The material world is placed under immutable law; while man, the rational and moral free agent, is left to do as he wills. God sustains, according to deism, very much the same relation to the universe that the clock-maker does to his timepiece. Having made his clock, and wound it up, he does not interfere with it, and the longer it can run without the maker's intervention the greater the evidence of wisdom and skill on the part of the maker. God according to deism has never wrought a miracle nor made a supernatural revelation to man. The only religion that is possible to man is natural religion; he may reason from Nature up to Nature's God. The only value of prayer is its subjective influence; it helps us to answer our own prayers, to become and be what we are praying to be. If the Divine Being is a prayer-hearing God, He is least not a prayer-answering God. The laws of Nature constitute God's general providence; but there is no other personal and special providence than this, according to deism. God, the deists affirm, is too great, too distant, too transcendent a Being to concern Himself with the details of creaturely existence.

(4) The Theistic or Biblical View:

The theistic or Biblical conception of providence teaches that God is not only the Creator but the Preserver of the universe, and that the preservation of the universe, no less than its creation, implies and necessitates at every moment of time an omnipotent and omnipresent personal Being. This world is not "governed by the laws of Nature," as deism teaches, but it is "governed by God according to the laws of Nature." "Law," in itself, is an impotent thing, except as it is the expression of a free will or person back of it; "the laws of Nature" are meaningless and impotent, except as they are an expression of the uniform mode, according to which God preserves and governs the world. It is customary to speak of the laws of Nature as if they were certain self-existent forces or powers governing the world. But shall we not rather say that there is no real cause except personal will - either the divine will or created wills? If this be true, then it is inconsistent to say that God has committed the government of the physical universe to "secondary causes" - that is, to the laws of Nature - and that these laws are not immediately dependent upon Him for their efficiency. The omnipresent and ever-active God is the only real force and power and cause in the universe, except as created wills may be true and real causes within their limited bounds. This view of God's relation to the created universe serves to distinguish the Biblical doctrine of divine providence from the teachings of materialists and deists, who eliminate entirely the divine hand from the ongoing of the universe, and in its stead make a god of the "laws of Nature," and hence, have no need for a divine preserver. Biblical theism makes ample room for the presence of the supernatural and miraculous, but we must not be blind to a danger here, in that it is possible to make so much of the presence of God in the supernatural (revelation, inspiration, and miracle) as to overlook entirely His equally important and necessary presence in the natural - which would be to encourage a deistical conception of God's relation to the world by exaggerating His transcendence at the expense of His immanence. That is the true theistic doctrine of providence which, while not undervaluing the supernatural and miraculous, yet stedfastly maintains that God is none the less present in, and necessary to, what is termed the "natural."

(5) The Divine Immanence.

This idea of God's essential relation to the continuation of all things in existence is perhaps best expressed by the term "immanence." Creation emphasizes God's transcendence, while providence emphasizes His immanence. Pantheism affirms God's immanence, but denies His transcendence. Deism affirms His transcendence, but denies His immanence. Biblical theism teaches that God is both transcendent and immanent. By the term "transcendence," when applied to God, is meant that the Divine Being is a person, separate and distinct from Nature and above Nature - "Nature" being used here in its largest signification as including all created things. By the Divine Immanence is meant that God is in Nature as well as over Nature, and that the continuance of Nature is as directly and immediately dependent upon Him as the origin of Nature - indeed, by some, God's preservation of the created universe is defined as an act of "continuous creation." By the Divine Immanence is meant something more than omnipresence, which term, in itself alone, does not affirm any causal relation between God and the thing to which He is present, whereas the term "immanence" does affirm such causal relation. By asserting the Divine Immanence, therefore, as the mode of God's providential efficiency, we affirm that all created things are dependent upon Him for continued existence, that the laws of Nature have no efficiency apart from their Creator and Preserver, that God is to be sought and seen in all forms and phases of creaturely existence, in the natural as well as the supernatural and miraculous, that He is not only omnipresent but always and everywhere active both in the natural and the spiritual world, and that without Him neither the material atom, nor the living organism, nor the rational soul could have any being. He not only created all things, but "by him all things consist," that is, by Him all things are preserved in being.

2. The Divine Purpose and Final End of Providence:

What, then, let us ask, do the Scriptures teach as to the purpose and end of God's providential goverment of the world? Back of this question is another: What was the divine motive and supreme thought in the creation of the universe, and what the final cause and end of all things in the mind and purpose of God? If we can think God's thoughts after Him and discover this "final cause" of creation, with even approximate accuracy, then we shall find a principle that will illuminate at least, if it does not fully explain, the methods and mysteries of providence. We venture to affirm that the controlling thought in the mind of God in establishing this order of things, of which we are a conscious part, was to create a race of beings who should find their highest happiness by being in the highest degree holy, and who should, in proportion as they attain their highest holiness and happiness, thereby in the highest degree glorify their Creator. The Creator's highest glory can be promoted only by such beings as are at once rational, moral, free, holy. There are unconscious, unthinking, unmoral forms of existence, but the motive and meaning of the universe is to be found, not in the lower, the physical and animal, but in the highest, in the rational and moral. The lower exists for the higher, the material and animal for the spiritual and moral. A being whose character is formed under the conditions and laws of intellectual and moral freedom is higher than any being can be that is what it is necessitatively, that is, by virtue of conditions over which it has no control. Character that is formed freely under God's government and guidance will glorify the Creator more than anything can which is made to be what it is wholly by divine omnipotence. These things being true, it follows that God's providence in the world will be directed primarily and ceaselessly toward developing character in free moral agents, toward reducing sin to the minimum and developing the maimum of holiness, in every way and by every means compatible with perfect moral freedom in the creature.

The possibility of sin in a world of free agents and in a state of probation is unavoidable, but to say that sin is possible does not mean that it is necessary. See Choice; Will . The final cause and end, the purpose and motive, of divine providence, then, are not the temporal, material and earthly happiness of men, but the highest ultimate moral good of free beings whose highest happiness is secured through their highest holiness - which means first, their obedience to the holy will of God as their Father, and secondly, loving and self-sacrificing service to their fellow-men. This ever-present and all-dominating moral purpose of divine providence determines its methods and explains, in part at least, what would otherwise be its mysteries. With this conception of divine providence the general trend of Biblical thought is in entire accord. In the light of Christ's revelation of God as a holy and loving Father who regards all men as His children and whose chief concern is to develop holiness and love in those whom He loves, we may define divine providence as Infinite Wisdom, using infinite power to accomplish the ends of infinite holiness and love. The originating and determining cause of divine providence is, in the New Testament conception of it, always to be found in the love of God, while the final cause is the glory of the Father as realized in the holiness and happiness of His children.

3. Special Providence:

By the doctrine of special providence, according to the best use of that term in theological literature, is meant as already indicated, that minute care and ever-watchful supervision which God exercises over His obedient and believing children in things, both small and great, which are designed to secure their ever-increasing holiness and usefusness. God's general providence is and must be special, in that it descends to particulars - to the minute details of creaturely existence - and is always and everywhere active. But the Scriptures teach that there is a more special care over and ordering of the lives of the spiritually good than pertains to the wicked, who have not the fear of God before their eyes. The following Scriptures set forth in unmistakable terms the doctrine of a special providence exercised by the heavenly Father over and in behalf of the righteous: "A man's goings are established of Yahweh; and he delighteth in his way" ( Psalm 37:23 ); "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths" ( Proverbs 3:6 ); "There shall no mischief happen to the righteous" ( Proverbs 12:21 ); "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" ( Matthew 6:33 ); "To them that love God all things work together for good" ( Romans 8:28 ). The following points seem to be plainly involved in any statement of the doctrine of special providence that can claim to be faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures;

(1) Spiritual, Not Material, Good to Man the End Sought in Special Providence.

A mistaken and hurtful notion has long been prevalent to the effect that special providence is designed to secure the secular and earthly good, the material and temporal prosperity, of God's children. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Material blessings may indeed come as a special providence to the child of God ( Matthew 6:33 et al.), but that "good" which all things work together to secure for them that love God is mainly spirtual good, and not financial or social, or intellectual, or temporal good, except as these may secure ultimate spiritual good. Indeed, God's special providence make take away wealth and bring poverty in its stead in order to impart the "true riches." It may defeat rather than further one's worldly hopes and ambitions; may bring sickness rather than health, and ever death instead of life - for sometimes a Christian can do more good by sickness or death than by health or continued life - and when that is the case, his sickness or death may well be interpreted as a special providence. "Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Many of the Old Testament promises do, it is true, seem to have special reference to material and temporal blessings, but we should remember that the best interpretation of these is to be found in the New Testament, where they are (as, for example, when quoted by Christ in the Temptation) interpreted as having mainly a spiritual signifigcance. When our Lord speaks of the very hairs of our heads being numbered, and declares that if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the Father's notice, surely we, who are of more value than many sparrows, cannot drift beyond His love and care, His words might be interpreted as teaching that God will save us from physical suffering and death; but such is not His meaning, for, in the very same context He speaks of how they to whom He thus pledges His love and care shall be persecuted and hated for His name's sake, and how some of them shall be put to death; and yet His promise was true. God was with them in their physical sufferings, but the great blessing wherewith He blessed them was not physical, but moral and spiritual.

(2) Special Providence and "Accidents."

Another still more mistaken and hurtful notion concerning special providence is the association of it with, and the limitation of it largely to, what are called "accidents," those irregular and occasional occurrences which involve more than ordinary danger and risk to life. The popular notion of special providence associates it with a happy escape from visible dangers and serious injury, as when the house catches on fire, or the horses run away, or the train is wrecked, or the ship encounters an awful storm, or one comes in contact with contagious disease or the terrible pestilence that walketh in darkness. A happy escape from injury and death on such an occasion is popularly designated as a "special providence," and this regardless of whether the individual thus escaping is a saint or a sinner. We cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that God's special providence is not a capricious, occasional, and irregular intervention of His love and power in behalf of His children, but involves ceaseless - yea infinite - thought and care for those that love Him, everywhere and in all the experiences of life.

(3) Special Providence as Related to Piety and Prayer.

God's special providence is conditioned upon piety and prayer though it far transcends, in the blessings it brings, the specific requests of His children. While we may properly pray for things pertaining to our temporal and physical life with the assurance that God will answer such prayers in so far as He deems best; yet the Scriptures encourage us to make spiritual blessings the main object of our prayers. "Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness," is the essence of the New Testament teaching on this subject; but we should not overlook the fact that this divine injunction is both preceded and followed by the strongest assurances of the most minute and ceaseless provision for all our temporal and physical wants by the loving heavenly Father. "Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?... For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these thin

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(Lat.providentia; Gr. Πρόνοια ; both signifying Foresight ) , a term importing the wisdom and power which God continually exercises in the preservation and government of the world, for the ends which he proposes to accomplish.

I. The Doctrine Proved.

1. From Reason.

(1.) From the existence of a Supreme Creator. If there be a Supreme Being who created all things, it is reasonable to infer that he upholds and governs all things; hence, nearly all men concur in the belief of a superintending providence.

(2.) From the perfections of the Supreme Creator, viz., knowledge, power, wisdom, goodness, justice, and righteousness, all of which reason teaches us to ascribe to him in infinite measure. All things being known to him, and all things being possible to him (if not essentially contradictory), and he being able to discern the best plan, and preinclined to execute that plan, a providence becomes the natural and proper sphere for the activity of his attributes. Moreover, being just and righteous, his government of his rational creatures will necessarily be by the principles of justice and righteousness; for the end and perfection of these attributes consist in their exercise. Hence power must uphold, wisdom direct, goodness bestow, righteousness discriminate, and justice adjudge; and this constitutes a providence.

(3.) From the dependence of God's creatures. That which is not self- existent is contingent. The contingent may cease to be, there being nothing in the nature of things to insure its continuance; therefore, the perpetuity of the contingent is dependent upon the will of the self-existent. The Supreme Creator alone is self-existent: hence, upon his will the existence of the created depends; and that will, in exercise, implies a providence.

(4.) From the order, harmony, and regularity observable in the course of nature. The course of nature is that wise adjustment and counterpoise of natural forces by which the planets swing in their orbits, the seasons revolve with the year, the tides ebb and flow in their intervals, the currents of the atmosphere shift to their ever-changing conditions, the endless procession of life keeps pace with the dead-march of decay, and all the varied phenomena of the universe appear. Viewing these wonderful complications in the light of their necessary dependence upon the self- existent, God's handiwork is plainly evident in the complexities of their multiform evolutions, the equipoise of their contending forces, and the continuity of adjustment, which proclaim unceasing watchfulness and care.

(5.) From the moral faculties of men. Conscience, which utters its authoritative "Ought " or " Ought Not " concerning suggested actions, must be delusive, if there be no providence to note its verdict. But if our sense of responsibility be false, and we must hence discredit the affirmations of our highest faculties concerning ourselves, then is all truth visionary and all knowledge misleading.

Further, we have a faculty the legitimate expression of which is worship; hence all nations have their forms of devotion. But to stand in awe of the Creator's justice, to trust in his goodness, to submit to his will, to pray to him for the supply of our wants, to depend upon his wisdom for direction- all these acts of worship are not only unauthorized but absurd, and our noblest instincts are false to fact if there be no superintending providence by which his responses may be indicated.

(6.) From the system of compensations which prevails, embracing recompense for suffering, compensation for loss, and retribution for wrong. In this system, the recompense includes the natural benefits of discipline, and such compensative provisions of grace as the reason recognizes as matters of fact in present human experience. The compensation comprises the reparative processes by which loss in one direction is made up by increased efficiency in another, as in the added keenness of the senses of hearing and touch attending the loss of sight. The retribution comprehends not only the natural operation of the law, "As a man soweth, so also shall he reap," but all those special illustrations of that law in marked and mysterious judgments upon wrongdoing which occasionally occur, and which bear such likeness to the sin that men agree to call them retributive. In all these a providence is implied. The doctrine is further proven

2. From The Scriptures.

(1.) By a class of passages which declare in general his preserving power  Genesis 48:15;  Nehemiah 9:6;  Job 7:20;  Job 10:12;  Job 33:18;  Psalms 16:5;  Psalms 36:6;  Psalms 46:9;  Isaiah 46:3-4;  Matthew 10:29;  Luke 12:6;  Acts 17:28;  Colossians 1:17).

(2.) By a class of passages which assert God's control of the regular operations of nature ( Exodus 9:18;  Exodus 23:26;  1 Kings 18:1;  Job 5:10;  Job 9:5-6;  Job 28:24-27;  Job 36:29-32;  Job 37:6-16;  Job 38:25;  Psalms 74:17;  Psalms 89:9;  Psalms 104:10;  Psalms 104:13-15;  Psalms 104:19-21;  Psalms 104:24-30;  Psalms 105:32;  Psalms 135:6-7;  Psalms 136:25;  Psalms 145:15-16;  Psalms 147:8-9;  Psalms 147:18;  Psalms 148:8;  Isaiah 45:7;  Isaiah 1:3;  Jeremiah 5:22-24;  Jeremiah 10:13;  Jeremiah 14:22;  Jeremiah 31:35;  Jeremiah 33:20;  Jeremiah 33:25;  Jeremiah 51:16;  Ezekiel 32:7-8;  Ezekiel 38:22;  Joel 2:23;  Amos 4:6-10;  Amos 4:13;  Zechariah 10:1;  Matthew 6:26;  Matthew 6:28-32;  Acts 14:17).

(3.) By a class of passages which specifically declare his sovereignty over birth ( Genesis 33:5;  Genesis 48:9;  Joshua 24:3-4;  1 Samuel 1:27;  Job 10:18;  Psalms 71:6;  Psalms 139:15-16;  Isaiah 46:3); Life ( Joshua 14:10;  2 Samuel 12:22;  Job 7:1;  Job 14:5;  Psalms 66:8-9;  Psalms 91:3-16;  Isaiah 38:1-5;  Philippians 2:27;  James 5:14-15); Disease ( Exodus 9:15;  Exodus 23:25;  Job 2:10;  Job 5:6;  Job 5:17-18;  Psalms 39:9;  Psalms 39:13;  John 9:3); Death ( 1 Samuel 2:6;  1 Samuel 25:29;  Job 1:21;  Job 12:10;  Job 14:5-6;  Job 34:14-15;  Psalms 68:20;  Psalms 90:3;  Psalms 104:29;  Psalms 118:8); afflictions ( Deuteronomy 8:5;  Job 5:17;  Job 10:17;  Psalms 66:10-12;  Psalms 69:26;  Psalms 94:12-13;  Psalms 119:75;  Proverbs 3:12;  Isaiah 26:16;  Isaiah 48:10;  Jeremiah 2:30;  Lamentations 1:12-14;  Lamentations 3:1;  Lamentations 3:32-33;  Amos 8:10;  Hebrews 12:5-6); Prosperity ( Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Samuel 2:78;  2 Samuel 7:8-9;  2 Samuel 12:7-8;  1 Chronicles 17:7-8;  1 Chronicles 29:12;  1 Chronicles 29:16;  Ezra 5:5;  Job 1:10;  Job 34:24;  Psalms 30:7;  Psalms 75:6-8;  Psalms 113:7-8;  Proverbs 29:26;  Ecclesiastes 9:11, compared with  Proverbs 16:3;  Proverbs 16:33;  Luke 1:52-53;  1 Corinthians 16:2).

(4.) By a class which aver his government of chance and accident ( Exodus 21:12-13, compared with  Deuteronomy 19:4-5;  1 Kings 22:34;  1 Kings 22:38, compared with 21:19;  Proverbs 16:33).

(5.) By a class which proclaim his use of noxious animals for the purposes of his government ( Exodus 23:28;  Leviticus 26:21-22;  Deuteronomy 7:20;  Joshua 24:12;  Job 5:23;  Jeremiah 5:6;  Hosea 2:18;  Joel 2:25;  Amos 4:9;  Amos 7:1).

(6.) By a class which affirm his righteous retributions ( Leviticus 10:1-3;  Leviticus 26:14-39;  Deuteronomy 25:17-19;  Deuteronomy 28:23-24;  2 Samuel 3:39;  2 Kings 9:30-37;  2 Kings 19:25-28;  2 Chronicles 6:26-27;  Job 5:13;  Job 10:14;  Job 34:11;  Psalms 35:6-8;  Psalms 75:6-8;  Psalms 89:30-32;  Psalms 94:23;  Psalms 107:33-34;  Isaiah 5:11-16;  Isaiah 5:22-25;  Isaiah 9:13-14;  Isaiah 13:11;  Isaiah 28:15. Comp.  Isaiah 29:6;  Jeremiah 22:21-22;  Ezekiel 11:21;  Ezekiel 26:2-21;  Ezekiel 35:1-15;  Daniel 5:18-30; Amos : 5;  Obadiah 1:10-15; Zephanaiah 1:17; 2:8-10;  Haggai 1:10-11).

(7.) By a class which ascribe deliverances to God ( Joshua 24:5-11;  2 Kings 5:1;  Ezekiel 34:12;  Ezekiel 34:16;  Ezekiel 34:30;  Ezekiel 36:22-24;  Ezekiel 37:21-23).

(8.) By a class which declare his supreme authority over men ( Psalms 7:8;  Psalms 9:8;  Psalms 10:16;  Psalms 22:28;  Psalms 47:2;  Psalms 47:7-8;  Psalms 75:7;  Psalms 76:10;  Psalms 96:10;  Psalms 96:13;  Psalms 97:1;  Psalms 103:19;  Psalms 139:9-10;  Ecclesiastes 9:1;  Isaiah 10:15;  Isaiah 14:26-27;  Ezekiel 18:4;  Daniel 4:35;  Romans 9:19-21).

(9.) By a class which affirm his dominion over national prosperity and adversity ( Exodus 17:14;  Exodus 23:25-30;  Deuteronomy 7:13;  2 Samuel 22:15;  Ezra 5:12;  Psalms 18:13-14;  Isaiah 5:3-30;  Isaiah 13:1;  Isaiah 13:6;  Isaiah 13:9-22;  Isaiah 45:7;  Jeremiah 27:2-8;  Jeremiah 27:12-13;  Jeremiah 49:36;  Daniel 2:20-21;  Daniel 2:25;  Daniel 2:37-38;  Daniel 5:21;  Amos 3:6;  Obadiah 1:1-4;  Haggai 2:17;  Zephaniah 1:14-18;  Zephaniah 2:1-15;  Zephaniah 3:14-20;  Acts 17:26).

(10.) By a class which declare that he sends bad laws and base rulers, stirs up adversaries, and sends adversity ( Judges 9:22-23;  1 Kings 11:14;  1 Kings 11:23;  1 Kings 19:15;  2 Kings 8:12;  2 Kings 18:25;  2 Kings 19:25;  2 Kings 24:20;  2 Chronicles 15:5-6;  Psalms 105:25;  Isaiah 22:17-19;  Isaiah 37:26-27;  Jeremiah 27:6-7;  Jeremiah 28:14;  Jeremiah 48:11-12;  Jeremiah 52:3;  Lamentations 2:7;  Ezekiel 20:24-26;  Daniel 4:17;  Hosea 13:11;  Micah 1:12).

The teaching of the more than five hundred passages cited might be confirmed, were it necessary, by nearly as many thousands more, showing with what emphasis the Scriptures proclaim the doctrine of divine providence.

II. The Doctrine Explained.

1. As Preservation, or that by which all things are kept in being, with their several essences and faculties, and are enabled to act according to their respective natures ( Hebrews 1:3).

2. As Government, or the control of all things in their several spheres of being and acting, and directing them to the ends which he proposed to himself in their creation. This government is

(1.) Immediate; as in the direct control of the material universe by those modes of operation called forces of nature, such as gravitation, electricity, etc.

(2.) Mediate; as

(a) in the vegetable world, by the laws which regulate the germination, growth, and decay of its organizations;

(b) in the animal kiingdom, by their controlling instincts;

(c) in intelligent and moral creatures, by means of motives. This last is evidently the most important, as well as the most incomprehensible field of divine providence.

The motives which a righteous and benevolent Being places before his creatures can be only those which will directly tend to secure their holiness and happiness. But, as freedom of the will, in the sense of possible alternative moral action, is one of the endowments of such creatures, and as preservation, secures the functional activity of such will, whatever may result; hence it follows that those holy motives mav be disregarded, and, in such an event, moral government must be abandoned, or punitive and reformatory measures must be instituted that will originate a different class of motives to reinforce those which have proved insufficient. Hence, the system of natural evil is placed over against creature-freedom, both as a check and a corrective, and is in itself no arraignment of God's goodness, since it is a necessary means to a higher good. But the problem of God's concurrence in moral evil is the vexed question of the ages; yet, in point of principle, it is settled in the fact of the creation of intelligent beings with a capacity to sin and liability to become sinners. Hence the vindication of the divine character is legitimately the work of Theodicy, while the doctrine of providence need only explain God's conduct. All moral evil consists in a wrong determination of a free will. God's purpose to preserve his creatures pledges his concurrence in such action of the will only so far as such concurrence may be necessary to enable the will to act according to its freedom. The moral character of the determination is fixed by the creature and he alone is responsible for it. But when the choice is made, the moral character of the determination is complete; and neither the occurrence nor non-occurrence of a resulting outward action can change, add to, or take from the moral quality of the original volition wherein the sin originated and was completed. As soon, however, as the execution ef a determination is attempted, the creature steps outside of his own independent and responsible sphere, and enters the realm of God's providence, where he assumes the control of all events. The actions of men (in distinction from their determinations), his control of the Church and of nations, special providences, the course of nature, and the works of grace are all included under the general term events, for which God takes the absolute responsibility. Hence it will be seen that the distinction often drawn between the permissive and active providences of God is of no practical value; and if any such distinction be allowed, it must be by confining the word "permissive" strictly to the free volitions of the will, and extending the word "active" to all events, as explained above.

In this way alone can the emphatic statements of the Scriptures, as classified above, be explained in harmony with other passages which distinctly deny his complicity with evil, i.e. in the sense of moral wrong. We first bring fully into view the seeming impeachment of his attributes contained in the classes of passages above referred to, which may be epitomized, in principle, as follows:  Exodus 4:21;  Exodus 7:13;  Exodus 10:1;  Exodus 10:20;  Exodus 14:7;  Deuteronomy 2:30;  Deuteronomy 13:1-3;  Joshua 11:20;  1 Samuel 16:14;  1 Samuel 18:10;  1 Samuel 19:9;  1 Kings 12:15;  1 Kings 22:20-22;  2 Chronicles 18:22;  2 Chronicles 25:20;  Psalms 78:49;  Psalms 105:25;  Isaiah 6:9-10;  Isaiah 19:14;  Isaiah 44:18;  Isaiah 66:4;  Jeremiah 6:21;  Ezekiel 3:20;  Ezekiel 14:9;  Amos 3:6;  Zechariah 8:10;  2 Thessalonians 2:11-12;  1 Peter 2:8;  Revelation 17:17. In striking contrast with these stands the revelation of his character and works in the following:  Leviticus 11:45;  Deuteronomy 32:4;  1 Samuel 6:20;  Job 8:3;  Job 34:10;  Job 34:12;  Job 34:23;  Job 36:3;  Psalms 5:4;  Psalms 11:7;  Psalms 33:5;  Psalms 89:14;  Psalms 92:15;  Psalms 97:2;  Psalms 119:137;  Isaiah 5:16;  Ezekiel 18:29;  Habakkuk 1:13;  Zephaniah 3:5;  Romans 2:2;  Romans 2:5-6;  James 1:13;  1 Peter 1:15-16;  Revelation 16:7. Truth cannot be inharmonious, much less contradictory; therefore, there must be some possible reconciliation of these apparently conflicting statements. We find that reconciliation in the divided sovereignty which allows man to be supreme within the sphere of his volition, and attributes all outside of the mere mental fact of free-will determinations to the will and operation or co-operation of God. Upon any other hypothesis it is not possible to draw the dividing line between divine and human responsibility; and therefore, if this be denied, the hope of constructing any consistent doctrine of divine providence must be abandoned.

III. Some Objections Considered.


1. If providence be the care exercised over his creatures by a God of infinite goodness and purity, he cannot be implicated in the wicked actions of men. Answer. As a matter of fact, he is concerned in them. else they could not exist; for, were he to refuse the concurrence of his upholding power, men would drop into non-existence. Again, the objection is destroyed by considering that actions have no moral character whatever, as between the creature and the Creator, such character being vested entirely in the volitions of the will from which the actions result. Therefore, God can use the wicked actions of men as he does any other indifferent thing, provided that his own 1pupose in using them be right, which no one disputes.


2. God's majesty is degraded by the assumption contained in the doctrine of providence, viz. that he is interested in all the minutiae of nature. Answer. If he has created faculties or forces, nothing that they can evolve can be unworthy of his care; besides, things which seem to men most insignificant are often causatively linked with stupendous results. Again, the revelations of the microscope prove that the infinitesimal are embraced within the sweep of the same laws that pervade the infinite, and hence are under the same benign care. Further, the impression of the grandeur of the Infinite Intelligence, comprehensive as it may be, from the contemplation of the rolling spheres and interlocking systems of the universe, is, after all, less profound than that which results from tracing his handiwork in the conformation of the beautifully wrought shells of the animalcula, and their exquisite life-appliances and adjustments, which only the most powerful glasses can reveal to human sight.


3. The prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous are inconsistent with the supposition of a just and holy providence. Answer. The equal dispensation which the objection assumes to be necessary under the government of God is an impossibility; for the affections and interests of men are so interlocked that exact justice could rarely, if ever, be meted to the transgressor without involving consequences to others which would be undeserved. Again, the prosperity of the wicked, if they continue in their evil courses, is always a curse to them in the end; and God's processes should not be condemned until their final issue is known. On the other hand, the adversities of the righteous have attending or following compensations which satisfy Them that all is right; and if those who are chiefly interested are content, the objection of the mere observer should be esteemed of little weight.


4. It is alleged that the laws of nature sufficiently account for the order of nature; therefore, a providence is not necessary. Answer. The laws of nature are only the regular order which is found to subsist, termed laws because of the uniformity of the changes which occur, and signify certain results of power, but not power itself effects, but not their causes. These uniformities are, therefore, only modes in which the self- existent controls the contingent, the manner in which God manipulates his material creation.

IV. History Of The Doctrine. The idea of a superintending or controlling Providence has appeared under various forms, sometimes scarcely recognisable, depending largely upon the culture of the age and the state of philosophical speculation at the time.

1. The primitive view, held during the childhood of superstition, identified the gods with the elements of nature. Thus Zeus, or Dis, originally meant Sky, and was worshipped as a god, afterwards known as Jupiter, or Jove, and by the Canaanites and Babylonians called Baal, Bel, or Belus. The Earth was also worshipped as Demeter and Cybele, called by the Anglo- Saxons Hertha; the Sea as Neptune; the Sun as Phaebus, or Apollo; the moon as Diana; light as Indra. Fire as Agni and summer heat as Dormer, or Thor, are other instances, in various localities, of the worship paid to the elements or forces of nature as gods, each being accredited a providence of its own. In the childhood of Occidental philosophy also, the Ionian philosophical physicists of Greece, in their search for the principle whose existence should give a rational explanation of all things (called the Beginning, or First Cause), identified it with some elements of nature, as the "Water" of Thales and Hippo of Samos; the "Air" of Anaximenes; the "Air-Intelligence" of Diogenes of Apollonia and Idaeus of Himera. Her mathematical philosophers, the Pythagoreans, looked for this first cause in incorporeal elements, as in the "Numbers" of Pythagoras and the "Infinite" of Anaximander. The Eleatics metaphysical philosophers regarded the world as the manifestation of God, as ill the "Sphere" of Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Zeno; while the dualism of the "Fire-ether" of Heraclitus, and the "Love-mingler" of Empedocles and Anaxagoras, and the materialism of the "Atoms" of Leucippus and Democritus were similar in their pantheistic notions, and contained the idea of a providence in but a very crude and unsatisfactory form. The Stoics taught that the working force in the universe is God; the consciousness of the universe is Deity; the human soul is a part of the Deity, or an emanation from him.

2. When the distinction between irregular and fortuitous "phenomena and the uniformities of nature became clear, the last were regarded as independent processes, broken in upon by the interferences of the gods, who were Endowed with Human Passions ; such interferences being the chances, accidents, irregularities, etc., of nature." Thus Minerva was the goddess of wisdom; Mars, the god of war; Mercury, the god of eloquence and traffic; Pan, the god of terror; Laverna, the goddess of thieves; Venus the goddess of beauty; Cupid, the god of love; Nemesis, of vengeance, etc.

3. The next advance was to the conception of one supreme God, infinite in his perfections and works; a sovereign Ruler bestowing rewards and inflicting penalties by using nature as the instrument of his will, he being a power above nature, and interfering with its processes at his pleasure. This seems to have been in part the view of Socrates, and was the Judaical notion modified into special or general providences according to personal interest in the event. That the Christian Church adopted this view in the main is evident from the fact that the Apostles' Creed, and the confessions of faith of Irenaeus and Tertullian, and the NiceenoConstantinopolitan symbol (A.D. 325 and 381. the only general confession covering the whole field of systematic divinity during 1500 years), contain no restatement of the doctrine.

The Catholic Church added to this view the dogma of Church infallibility, for which the Protestants substituted that of the infallibility of the Scriptures, both presupposing special providential watchfulness.

4. The doctrine of determinate Concursus advocated by John Scotus Erigena in the middle of the 9th century holds that there are two causes in all effects, the first being in and not merely with the second, so that the first cause, and not the second, makes the act what it is. Augustine, the Schoolmen, the Thomists, and Dominicans in the Latin Church, the Lutherans, Reformed, and most Calvinistic divines in the Protestant Church have supported it, but in such sense that the moral quality of a sinful act is referred to the creature, and the effectual cause of the act only to God. General Concursus is a modification of the foregoing view, and holds that God sustains creatures and their powers, and excites them to act according to their nature. The Franciscans and Jesuits, among the Romanists, and the Remonstrants and later Arminians, among the Protestants, have advocated this theory.

5. Cartesius, Malebranche, and Bayle developed the concursus into the Occasionalism of philosophers, which represents God as the sole actor, the creature only furnishing him an occasion to act, and being merely the instrument by which he absolutely and irresistibly accomplishes his own designs. The dependence of the creature upon the Creator, superseding all efficiency of second causes, as held by Schleiermacher and the school to which he belongs, Schweizer and Dr. Emmons, classifies them practically with the Occasionalists.

6. Leibnitz rejected the concursus and Cartesian views, and propounded the theory of Pre-Established Harmony, somewhat akin in its radical idea to the "Anima Mundi" of Pythagoras, Plato. and the Alexandrian School; the "Archaeus" of Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Von Helmont; the "principium hvlarchicunm" of Henry More; the "plastic nature" of Cudworth, and the "unconscious organizing intelligence" lately advocated by Dr. Laycock and Mr. Murphy. This theory holds that there are two worlds, matter and mind, each incapable of acting upon the other, yet both so adjusted to each other by a divinely pre-arranged harmony that volition and muscular contraction are contemporaneous. The volition would exist just the same without the contraction, and the muscular movement would take place just the same without the volition, each being moved by a force within, but the prearranged harmony secures that they shall seemingly stand related as cause and effect. God is a being of infinite perfections, and the imperfections of creation are accounted for by the nature of the monads of which souls and bodies are composed.

7. Durandus, in the 14th century, proposed the Mechanical theory, which affirms the independent activity of God's creatures in the use of powers given to them at their creation like a wound-up clock which goes of itself. It has been advocated by Scotus, Richard Baxter, and others. Closely akin to this is the theory of such writers as Prof. Tyndall, Dr. H. Bence Jones, and Dr. Bastian, concerning "molecular attractions and repulsions communicated to matter at the creation." Its extreme pantheistic development is found in the "self-evolving powers of nature" of Owen, Huxley, and Baden Powell.

8. Another view represents God as an all-perfect being, the upholder of all things, but denies his interference with the laws of nature in miracles, and maintains that his only interposition is by using natural causes to effect his purposes. Thus providence is law, and no interppsitions are possible unless provided for in the nature of the uniformities. Thus Hippocrates, the contemporary of Socrates, regarded all phenomena as both divine and scientifically determinable. Anaxagoras, in his "Arranging Intelligence," held substantially to this view. Duncanson (Providence Of God ) is a strong modern advocate of this theory.

9. The Mind-efficiency Theory denies that there are any physical forces apart from mind, either divine or created. The only efficiency in the material universe is the ever-operating will of God. Dr. Samuel Clarke, Dugald Stewart, John Wesley, Nitzsch. Muller, Chalmers, Harris, Young, Whedon, Channing, Martineau, Hedge, Whewell, Bascom. Prof. Tulloch, Sir John Herschel, the duke of Argyll, Mr. Wallace, Proctor, Crocker, and many among the ablest recent writers have defended this view.

10. The true doctrine represents God as a being of infinite perfections, upholding all things by a direct exercise of his potency; the uniformities of nature as his Ordinary method of working; its Irregularities his method upon occasional conditions; its Interferences, his method under the pressure of a higher law, which law is the necessary manifestation of his own nature. It thus adopts the Judaic view of God's perfections, and the complete subservience of nature to his will; admits the General Concursus, especially as relates to the freedom of the finite will, accepts the Law theory in its application to miracles, and sustains the Mind-efficiency theory, with the distinct disclaimer of pantheistic leanings in the admission of the separate existence of material substance.

V. Special Or Particular Providence. Providence has been defined as the wisdom and power which God continually exercises in the preservation and government of the world for the ends which he proposes to accomplish. Special providence consists in such particular exhibitions of his wisdom and power in emergencies as are calculated to awaken the conviction of his interest in and guardianship over his creatures.

1. Proof . The doctrine in question is proved by the following considerations:

(1.) It is necessarily includel in the general providence already established. (See above.) The whole is made up of parts. If God has no care of the whole, he has none of the parts. If he has for the whole, the parts are included. Furtherthe End which he proposes to accomplish in providence is the revelation of himself as infinitely worthy of the love of his creatures. This needs a special providence. Moreover, a God who does not care for us as individuals is tantamount to no God.

(2.) Special providence is implied in the doctrine of prayer. Prayer is an instinct. The Scriptures direct that instinct by coupling with the encouragement to pray the announcement of a special providence that watches over the very hairs of our heads, thus making special providence the complement of prayer. Prayer without a special providence to note and reward would be a mere mockery of our impotence. Moreover, the enlarged charter of prayer-privilege given to believers under the (Gospel dispensation is a Personal Application of the Old-Test. doctrine of special providence over the Jewish Nation. That providence had relation to the covenant detailed in Deuteronomy 26-30; this privilege is conveyed in such promises as  Matthew 7:7-11;  Matthew 18:19;  Matthew 21:22;  Mark 11:24;  John 15:7;  Hebrews 4:16;  James 5:15;  1 John 5:14-15; and, being such, it necessarily implies such special watch-care as was involved in the Mosaic covenant cited above. (See Prayer).

(3.) The same doctrine is inferred from the fatherhood of God. The denial of his fatherhood changes him into a desolate abstraction, the contemplation of which pours an ice-floe over the tide of human trusts, and causes us to feel that we are "orphaned children in a godless world." But "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" comes to us genial with the warmth of a sympathy and care that we can appreciate and confide in.

(4.) It is involved in the atonement of Christ. The propitiatory sacrifice as prefigured in the separate sacrifices for each was for men, not En Masse, but as individuals, thus furnishing the greatest possible evidence of care in the interests of utmost moment to the soul. The agency by which this sacrifice is conveyed to the mind the Holy Spirit is likewise personal in his ministry of impression, and as personal in his communication of the remedial efficacy of the one atonement, thus demonstrating in appeal and in succor the loving care of God.

(5.) It is revealed in the Scriptures as clearly as the biographies of its noted characters, such as Joseph. Samuel, Elijah, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, etc., can illustrate it, and proclaimed as strongly as such texts as  Luke 12:6-7;  Luke 12:22-31 can express it, and enforced as powerfully as such prayer-examples as The friend seeking bread and The unjust judge can impress it.

(6.) It is illustrated in the experiences of Christians of every age, until George Neumark's hymn "Leave God to order all thy ways,

And hope in him, whate er betide;

Thou lt find him in the evil days

An all-sufficient strength and guide.

Who trusts in God s unchanging love,

Builds on the rock that naught can move"

has become a type of a distinct class of literature both in verse and prose that is inexpressibly sweet to the experienced believer, and of untold value to those who are weak in faith.

2. The moral Uses of the doctrine are

(1.) It deters from sin. Theon of Alexandria taught that "a full persuasion of God's seeing everything we do is the strongest incentive to virtue;" and he advised the civil magistrate to place the inscription at the corners of the streets "God seeth thee, O sinner!"

A full belief in special providence places that inscription not upon the corners of the streets, but within the chambers of the memory.

(2.) It excites watchfulness for his interpositions. Abraham, after Mount Moriah; the three Hebrews, after the fiery furnace; Daniel, after the lions' den; Elijah, after Cherith's cave, never failed to look for other deliverances in the time of need.

(3.) It gives the assurance that all is right in our present circumstances, in view of the discipline needed, and the final adjustment of rewards and penalties.

(4.) It leads to cheerful Trust in all trials, and thus sweetens the bitter draughts of life.

(5.) It inspires with hope in emergencies, and thus enables the believer to meet unforeseen exigencies with all his resources of mind and faith at hand, confident, buoyant, and if possible conquering.

(6.) It imparts a patience that outlasts adversities, a fortitude that yields to no disaster, and a confidence that emerges unscathed from all furnaces of trial.

VII. Literature. We cite in alphabetical order a portion only of the very numerous works extant on this subject: Aquinas, Summa Theol. p. i, q. 15, art. iii; Backerus, De Dei Providentia Circa Mal. ; Bairus, De Proverbs Dei Circa Peccata Liominum ; Beza, De Proverbs Dei Circa Res Temporales ; Bormann, Lehre Der Vorsehung ; the same, Betrachtungen Iiber Die Wichtigsten Warheiten Der Religion ; Chrysostom, De Providentia Dei ; Clement, Strom. 6:17, p. 821 sq.; De Maree, Gottesvertheidigung Iiber Die Zulassung Des Bosenm ; De Vries, Exercitationes Rationales ; Feldmann, Moira Oder Iiber Die Ygttliche Vorsehung ; Fur Anbeter Gottes (Loud. 1780); Gomari Conciliatio Doct. Orthodoxac de Providentia; Hugo of St. Victor, De Sacram. c. 19-21; Jacobi, Betrachtungen iiber die weisen Absichten Gottes; Jerome, Comment. in Abacuc, c. 1; Junilius, De Partibus Legis Divince, bk. ii, c. 3 sq.; Koppen, Die Bibel ein Werk der gottlichen Weisheit; Lactantius, De Via Dei, c. 13; the same, De Opificio Dei, vel Formatione lIom1inis, c. 5-17; Leibnitz, Essais de Theodicee; Martinii Corn. de Gubernatione Munci; Muller, Briefe uber das Studium der Wissenschtaften, besonders der Geschichie (Ziirich, 1798); Nemesius, De Natura Hominis, c. 42 sq.; Plutarch, De Sera Numinius Vindicta; Rechenbergius, De Proverbs Dei circa Minima; Salvianus Massiliensis, De Gubernatione Dei sive de Proverbs; Sanders, Ueber die Vorsehung; Schrickh, Disp. Historica circa Providentiamn Divinuam, quando et quam cldare loquatur (Vitembergge, 1776); Seneca, De Providentia, De Beneficiis; Theodoret, Sermones de Providentia; Turrettini Dissertationes, diss. 4, 5, 6; Twisse, Vindicatio Providentice Dei; Viret, De La Providence ; Weismannus, De Proverbs Dei contra Malum; Zollikofer, Betrachtungemn iber das Uebel in der Welt. (S. H. P.)

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

The word Providence originally meant foresight. By a well-known figure of speech, called metonymy, we use a word denoting the means by which we accomplish anything to denote the end accomplished; we exercise care over anything by means of foresight, and indicate that care by the word foresight. On the same principle the word Providence is used to signify the care God takes of the universe. As to its inherent nature, it is the power which God exerts, without intermission, in and upon all the works of His hands. But defined as to its visible manifestations, it is God's preservation and government of all things. As a thing is known by its opposites, the meaning of Providence is elucidated by considering that it is opposed to fortune and fortuitous accidents.

Providence, considered in reference to all things existing, is termed by Knapp universal; in reference to moral beings, special;and in reference to holy or converted beings, particular.

Providence is usually divided into three divine acts: preservation, cooperation, and government.

By preservation is signified the causing of existence to continue.

Co-operation is the act of God which causes the powers of created things to remain in being.

Government, as a branch of Providence, is God's controlling all created things so as to promote the highest good of the whole.

Among the proofs of divine Providence may be reckoned the following—One argument in proof of Providence is analogous to one mode of proving a creation. If we cannot account for the existence of the world without supposing its coming into existence, or beginning to be; no more can we account for the world continuing to exist, without supposing it to be preserved; for it is as evidently absurd to suppose any creature prolonging as producing its own being.

A second proof of Providence results from the admitted fact of creation. Whoever has made any piece of mechanism, therefore takes pains to preserve it. Parental affection moves those who have given birth to children to provide for their sustentation and education. It is both reasonable and Scriptural to contemplate God as sustaining the universe because he made it.

A third proof of Providence is found in the divine perfections. Since, among the divine perfections, are all power and all knowledge, the non-existence of Providence, if there be none, must result from a want of will in God. But no want of will to exercise a Providence can exist, for God wills whatever is for the good of the universe, and for his own glory; to either of which a Providence is clearly indispensable. God therefore has resolved to exercise his power and knowledge so as to subserve the best ends with his creation.

A fourth proof of God's Providence appears in the order which prevails in the universe. That summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, day and night, are fixed by a law, was obvious even to men who never heard of God's covenant with Noah. But our sense of order is keenest where we discern it in apparent confusion. The motions of the heavenly bodies are eccentric and intervolved, yet are most regular when they seem most lawless. They were therefore compared by the earliest astronomers to the discords which blend in a harmony, and to the wild starts which often heighten the graces of a dance. Modern astronomy has revealed to us so much miraculous symmetry in celestial phenomena, that it shows us far more decisive proofs of a Ruler seated on the circle of the heavens, than were vouchsafed to the ancients.

A fifth proof of a Providence is furnished by the fact that so many men are here rewarded and punished according to a righteous law. The wicked often feel compunctious visitings in the midst of their sins, or smart under the rod of civil justice, or are tortured with natural evils. With the righteous all things are in general reversed. The miser and envious are punished as soon as they begin to commit their respective sins; and some virtues are their own present reward. But we would not dissemble that we are here met with important objections, although infinitely less, even though they were unanswerable, than beset such as would reject the doctrine of Providence. It is said, and we grant, that the righteous are trodden under foot, and the vilest men exalted; that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong: that virtue starves while vice is fed; and that schemes for doing good are frustrated, while evil plots succeed. But we may reply:

The prosperity of the wicked is often apparent, and well styled a shining misery.

We are often mistaken in calling such or such an afflicted man good, and such or such a prosperous man bad.

The miseries of good men are generally occasioned by their own fault, since they have been so foolhardy as to run counter to the laws by which God acts, or have aimed at certain ends while neglecting the appropriate means.

Many virtues are proved and augmented by trials, and not only proved, but produced, so that they would have had no existence without them.

The unequal distribution of good and evil, so far as it exists, carries our thoughts forward to the last judgment, and a retribution according to the deeds done in the body and can hardly fail of throwing round the idea of eternity a stronger air of reality than it might otherwise wear. All perplexity vanishes as we reflect that, 'He cometh to judge the earth.'

Even if we limit our views to this world, but extend them to all our acquaintance, we cannot doubt that the tendencies, though not always the effects, of vice are to misery, and those of virtue to happiness. These tendencies are especially clear if our view embraces a whole lifetime, and the clearer the longer the period we embrace. Indeed, as soon as we leave what is immediately before our eyes, and glance at the annals of the world, we behold so many manifestations of God, that we may adduce as

A sixth proof of Providence the facts of history. The giving and transmission of a revelation, it has been justly said—the founding of religious institutions, as the Mosaic and the Christian—the raising up of prophets, apostles, and defenders of the faith—the ordering of particular events, such as the Reformation—the more remarkable deliverances noticed in the lives of those devoted to the good of the world, etc.—all indicate the wise and benevolent care of God over the human family. But the historical proof of a Providence is perhaps strongest where the wrath of man has been made to praise God, or where efforts to dishonor God have been constrained to do him honor.

As a seventh ground for believing in Providence, it may be said that Providence is the necessary basis of all religion. For what is religion? One of the best definitions calls it the belief in a superhuman Power, which has great influence in human affairs, and ought therefore to be worshipped. But take away this influence in human affairs, and you cut off all motive to worship. To the same purpose is the text in Hebrews: 'He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of such as diligently seek Him.' If then the religious sentiments thrill us not in vain—if all attempts of all men to commune with God have not always and everywhere been idle—there must be a Providence.

In the eighth place, we may advert to the proof of Providence from the common consent of mankind, with the single exception of atheists.

In the last place, the doctrine of Providence is abundantly proved by the Scriptures.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

A seaport and semi-capital of Rhode Island, U.S., on a river of the name, 44 m. SW. of Boston; it is a centre of a large manufacturing district, and has a large trade in woollens, jewellery, and hardware; has a number of public buildings, and institutions, churches, schools, libraries, and hospitals, as well as beautiful villas and gardens.