Chapter 5: Of ProvidenceThe 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith
1. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold,a direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,b from the greatest even to the least,c by his most wise and holy providence,d according to his infallible fore-knowledgee and the free and immutable counsel of his own will,f to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.g
a. Heb 1:3. • b. Psa 135:6; Dan 4:34-35; Acts 17:25-26, 28; Job 38-41 throughout. • c. Mat 10:29-31. • d. Psa 104:24; 145:17; Prov 15:3. • e. Psa 94:8-11; Acts 15:18. • f. Psa 33:10-11; Eph 1:11. • g. Gen 45:7; Psa 145:7; Isa 63:14; Rom 9:17; Eph 3:10.
2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly,a yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.b
a. Acts 2:23. • b. Gen 8:22; Exod 21:13 with Deut 19:5; 1 Kings 22:28, 34; Isa 10:6-7; Jer 31:35.
3. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means,a yet is free to work without,b above,c and against them,d at his pleasure.
a. Isa 55:10-11; Hosea 2:21-22; Acts 27:31, 44. • b. Job 34:10; Hosea 1:7; Mat 4:4. • c. Rom 4:19-21. • d. 2 Kings 6:6; Dan 3:27.
4. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men,a and that not by a bare permission,b but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,c and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends;d yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.e
a. 2 Sam 16:10; 24:1 with 1 Chron 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 1 Chron 10:4, 13-14; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Rom 11:32-34. • b. Acts 14:16. • c. 2 Kings 19:28; Psa 76:10. • d. Gen 50:20; Isa 10:6-7, 12. • e. Psa 50:21; James 1:13-14, 17; 1 John 2:16.
5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they be humbled;a and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support unto himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.b
a. 2 Sam 24:1; 2 Chron 32:25-26, 31. • b. Psa 73 throughout; Psa 77:1-10, 12; Mark 14:66-72 with John 21:15-17; 2 Cor 12:7-9.
6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden,a from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings and wrought upon in their hearts,b but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had,c and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin;d and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan;e whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.f
a. Rom 1:24, 26, 28; 11:7-8. • b. Deut 29:4. • c. Mat 13:12; 25:29. • d. Deut 2:30; 2 Kings 8:12-13. • e. Psa 81:11-12; 2 Thes 2:10-12. • f. Exod 7:3 with 8:15; 8:32; Isa 6:9-10 with Acts 28:26-27; Isa 8:14; 2 Cor 2:15-16; 1 Pet 2:7-8.
7. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.a
a. Isa 43:3-5, 14; Amos 9:8-9; Rom 8:28; 1 Tim 4:10.