A Refutation of Certain Objections Against the Providence of God

The first objection respects the confusion, or disorders in nature. Those things which are in a state of confusion are not governed by God, because he is not the author of confusion. There is much confusion in the world. Therefore either nothing, or at least all things are not governed by divine providence.

Ans. 1. Whilst there are many things in a state of confusion, there are nevertheless, many things that are wisely ordered and regulated, as the motions of the heavenly bodies, the preservation of the different races of men, and of the different species of animals, the preservation of commonwealths, the punishment of the wicked, &c. Hence it cannot be concluded universally, that nothing is governed by God.

2. As it respects those things which are deranged or confused, it merely follows that this confusion which attaches itself to these things by the malice of devils and men, is not from God. There is, therefore, here also more in the conclusion than in the premises.

3. We reply to the major proposition, that those things which are deranged are not governed by God in as far as this derangement itself is concerned; yet they are governed by him in as far as there is any order discerned in the midst of this derangement. And there is nothing which is, or which occurs, in the world that is so deranged as to leave no marks of the order of divine wisdom, power and justice—for in the midst of the greatest confusion this order may always be clearly discerned. There was, for instance, great confusion as far as the wills and actions of men were concerned, in the death of the Son of God, who was crucified by the Jews—the same thing may be said of the selling of Joseph in Egypt, of the sedition of Absalom, &c., but yet there was at the same time the greatest order, as far as the will and counsel of God was concerned, who delivered his Son to death for our sins, sent Joseph into Egypt, punished David and Absalom, &c. In this way there can be in the same event confusion and order, only in a different respect. It follows therefore, that things confused are not from God, neither are they governed by him in as far as they are deranged and sinful—but in as far as they agree with the order of divine wisdom and justice they both are, and are governed by God. To this it is objected:

That which opposes the will of God is not ruled by God. The will of devils and men is opposed to the will of God. Therefore it is not ruled by God.

Ans. There are here four terms in this syllogism—for the major is true of both the secret and revealed will of God, whilst the minor is true of the will of God only as revealed and made known.