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A Godly Meditation and Instruction on the Providence of God towards Mankind

This ought to be most certain unto us, that nothing is done without thy providence, O Lord. That is that nothing is done, be it good or bad, sweet or sour, but by thy knowledge, that is, by thy will, wisdom, and ordinance; for knowledge comprehends in it all these, as by thy holy word we are taught in many places, that even the life of a sparrow is not without thy will, (Matt. x.) nor have all the devils in hell any liberty or power upon a beast, (Matt. viii.) but by thy appointment and will; which will we always must believe most assuredly to be wholly just and good, howsoever otherwise it may seem unto us. For thou art marvellous and not comprehensible in thy ways, and thou art holy in all thy works.

But hereunto it is necessary also for us to know no less certainly, that though all things are done by thy providence, yet the same providence has many and divers means to work by, which means being contemned, thy providence is contemned also. As for example, meat is a mean to serve thy providence for the preservation of health and life here; so that he who contemns to eat, because thy providence is certain and infallible, the same contemns thy providence. Indeed, if it were so that meat could not be had, then should we not tie thy providence to this mean, but make it free, as thou art free, that is, that without meat thou can help and give health and life; for it is not from any need that thou uses any instrument or mean to serve thy providence; thy power and wisdom are infinite, and therefore should we hang on thy providence, even when all is quite against us. But for our instruction and infirmities' sake, it has pleased thee by means to work and deal with us here, to exercise us in obedience, and because we cannot else, so great is our corruption, sustain thy naked and open presence. Grant me therefore, dear Father, I humbly beseech thee, for Christ's sake, that as I now know something of these things, so I may use this knowledge to my comfort and advantage in thee; that is, grant that in what state soever I am, I may not doubt but the same comes to me by thy most just ordinance, yea, by thy merciful ordinance; for as thou art just, so art thou merciful; yea, thy mercy is above all thy works.

And by this knowledge, grant me that I may humble myself to obey thee, and look for thy help in time convenient, not only when I have means, by which thou may work, and art so accustomed to do; but also when I have no means, but am destitute, yea, when all means are directly and wholly against me; grant I say, yet, that I may still hang upon thee and thy providence, not doubting of a fatherly end in thy good time.

Again, lest I should contemn thy providence, or presume upon it by uncoupling those things which thou hast coupled together, preserve me from neglecting thy ordinary and lawful means in all my needs, if so be I may have them, and with good conscience use them, although I know thy providence is not tied to them further than it pleases thee. But grant that I may with diligence, reverence, and thankfulness use them, and exert my diligence, wisdom, and industry in all things lawful, to stave thereby thy providence, if it so please thee. Howbeit, so that I hang in no part on the means or on my diligence, wisdom, and industry; but only on thy providence, which I am more and more persuaded is altogether fatherly and good, how far soever otherwise it appear and seem, yea, is felt by me. By this, I being preserved from negligence on my behalf, and despair or murmuring towards thee, shall become diligent and patient, through thy mere and only grace, which give and increase in me, to praise thy holy name for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour. Amen.

 

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