I. Is there any providence of God?

There are three opinions entertained by philosophers respecting the providence of God :
1. The Epicureans deny that there is any providence respecting the affairs of mortals, or those things which are, and are done in the lower parts of the world.
2. The Stoics have devised and substituted for divine providence, an absolute necessity of all things and changes existing in the very nature of things, to which every thing is subject, including even God himself. This necessity they call fate or destiny.
3. The Epicureans suppose that God does indeed behold and know all things, but does not direct and govern them, but only excites or keeps up the celestial motions, and through them sends down, by way of influence, some power or virtue into the lower parts of nature, whilst the operations and motions so excited are depending entirely upon matter and the will of man.

In opposition to these errors the church teaches according to the word of God, that nothing exists, or comes to pass in the whole world, unless by the certain and definite, but nevertheless most free and good counsel of God.

There are two kinds of proofs by which we may establish the doctrine of the providence of God : these are testimonies from scripture, and the force of arguments.

The testimony which the scriptures furnish in support of this doctrine is contained in such passages as the following : “ He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” “ In him we live, and move, and have our being.” “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing ? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are numbered.” “ God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. * (Acts 17 : 25, 28. Matt, 10 : 29, 30. Eph. 1 : 11.) There are also many similar testimonies of scripture which prove the general and particular providence of God ; for there is scarcely any doctrine more frequently and diligently inculcated than that of divine providence. As a single instance, God reasons in the book of Jeremiah, 27 : 5, 6, from the general to the particular: that is from the thing itself to the example. “ I have made the earth, the man and the beasts that are upon the ground, and have given it unto whom it seemeth meet unto me.” And he immediately adds the particular, “now have I given all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant.”

The arguments which establish a divine providence are of two kinds. Some are a posteriori, which include such as are drawn from the effects or works of God : others are a priori, that is such as are drawn from the nature and attributes of God. Both may be clearly demonstrated, and are common to philosophy and theology, unless that the attributes and works of God are better and more fully understood by the church than by philosophy. The arguments, however, which are drawn from the divine works are more obvious ; for it is through the arguments a posteriori that we arrive at and obtain a knowledge of those which are a priori.