The Westminster Confession of Faith: Chapter V – Of Providence

Of Providence

1. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

>Earlier we saw that all that was needed for creation exists within God, here we see that everything that is needed to uphold creation also exists within God.

2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

>James 1:13-18 – This may be where they were heading with this paragraph.

3. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.

>A Good example of this is found in the relationship between prayer and providence. God allows us to be a part of His work through prayer. We are allowed to be a part of this means. However, if we do not pray for something that God has ordained God will still accomplish His will apart from the means of prayer.

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, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

>James 1:13-18

5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth often-times 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; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.

>It is almost as if the divines were thinking of James chapter 1 in this entire chapter, particularly the last two points. Here we see that God uses His providence wisely, righteously, and graciously in the lives of His own children even when circumstances might leave one to believe otherwise.

6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, giveth them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it cometh to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.

> Romans 1:18-32 – we should not think it unfair that God would give up the reprobate unto their sins. Rather, we should think it unfair that God would use His providence for the good of the elect (see 5.).

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.

>Romans 8:28ff – nothing is “able to separate us from the Love of God…”