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Matthew 10:29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? Christ proceeds farther, as I have already hinted, and declares that tyrants, whatever may be their madness, have no power whatever even over the body: and that therefore it is improper in any persons to dread the cruelty of men, as if they were not under the protection of God. In the midst of dangers, therefore, let us remember this second consolation. As God is the guardian of our life, we may safely rely on his providence; nay, we do him injustice, if we do not entrust to him our life, which he is pleased to take under his charge. Christ takes a general view of the providence of God as extending to all creatures, and thus argues from the greater to the less, that we are upheld by his special protection. There is hardly any thing of less value than sparrows, (for two were then sold for a farthing, or, as Luke states it, five for two farthings,) and yet God has his eye upon them to protect them, so that nothing happens to them by chance. Would He who is careful about the sparrows disregard the life of men?
There are here two things to be observed. First, Christ gives a very different account of the providence of God from what is given by many who talk like the philosophers, and tell us that God governs the world, but yet imagine providence to be a confused sort of arrangement, as if God did not keep his eye on each of the creatures. Now, Christ declares that each of the creatures in particular is under his hand and protection, so that nothing is left to chance. Unquestionably, the will of God is contrasted with contingence or uncertainty598598 “La volonte de Dieu est mise a l'opposite de ce que tels Philosophes appellent Contingence: par lequel mot ils signifient un accident qui vient de soy és choses, sans qu’il y ait une certaine conduite d’enhaut.” — “The will of God is contrasted with what such Philosophers call Contingence: a term by which they denote an accident which comes of its own accord in events, without any fixed direction of it from above.” , And yet we must not be understood to uphold the fate of the Stoics,599599 We have formerly adverted to a leading tenet of the Stoics, that the distinction between pleasure and pain is imaginary, and that consequently the highest wisdom consists in being utterly unmoved by the events of life. The present allusion is to their notion of Fate, a mysterious and irresistible necessity, over which those beings whom they blindly worshipped were supposed to have as little control as the inhabitants of the earth. Calvin demonstrates that the serenity of a Christian differs not more widely from Stoical apathy, than the doctrine of a special Providence which is here taught by our Savior differs from Stoical Fate; that the believer in Providence adores the high and lofty One that inhabiteth, eternity, (Isaiah 57:15,) who hath, prepared His throne in the heavens, and whose kingdom ruleth over all, (Psalm 103:19;) and, far from viewing the will of God as swayed by a higher power, traces every event to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, (Ephesians 1:11.) — Ed for it is one thing to imagine a necessity which is involved in a complicated chain of causes, and quite another thing to believe that the world, and every part of it, is directed by the will of God. In the nature of things, I do acknowledge there is uncertainty:600600 “Je confesse bien que si on regarde la nature des choses en soy, on trouvera qu'il y a quelque Contingence;” — “I readily acknowledge that, if the nature of things in itself be considered, it will be found that there is some uncertainty.” but I maintain that nothing happens through a blind revolution of chance, for all is regulated by the will of God.
The second thing to be observed is, that we ought to contemplate Providence, not as curious and fickle persons are wont to do, but as a ground of confidence and excitement to prayer. When he informs us that the hairs of our head are all numbered, it is not to encourage trivial speculations, but to instruct us to depend on the fatherly care of God which is exercised over these frail bodies.