Blogging the Institutes | 1.17.3 | Providence Is not a Cover for our Own Sin

People who have learned of God’s providence will neither grumble against God for adversity nor blame him for their own wickedness as Homer’s Agamemnon does, “Blame not me, but Jupiter and fate!” On the other hand, they not be like the youth in Plautus who slip into despair as if they lives are hurried away by the Father: “Unstable is the condition of affairs; instead of doing as they list, men only fulfill their fate: I will tie me to a rock, and there end my fortune with my life.” Believers will also never use the name of God as a cover for their sins. For in another comedy Lyconides expresses himself: “God was the impeller: I believe the gods wished it. Did they not wish it, it would not be done, I know.” Instead, believers will learn from the Scriptures what is pleasing to God. They will endeavor to live for God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They will be prepared to follow wherever God may call. They ill show by their example that nothing is more useful than the knowledge of the doctrine of providence, even though perverse people attack it and sometimes it is wickedly abused.

Profane people speak such foolishness it is almost as if they confound heaven and earth. They argue that if the Lord has marked the moment of our death, it cannot be escape. To try to escape it is pointless and useless. Therefore, avoiding dangerous travel is pointless. Moreover, they would argue that it is foolish to even go to a doctor or try to eat health. They even go so far to say that the prayers of believers are perverse because they are trying to thwart the will of God. “Did an honest person get killed?” they asked. Well, then, it must have been the counsel of God. Has someone committed theft or adultery. The deed, they argue, must have been ordained by the Lord since he is the minister of his providence. Children should not even try to remedy their parents’ illnesses but instead just wait for their death. They could not oppose God who had predetermined such things from eternity.

The point is this: some people try to use the doctrine of providence as a cover for their own sin.

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  1. Pingback: Blogging the Institutes: List of Posts | Raising Lazarus

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