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Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) on the Providence of God

September 25, 2009

Bullinger:

That the whole world is maintained and very well governed by God’s providence.

The fourth Chapter.

That God
does yet
now preserve
the things
he has made.
John 5.

But God did not only make this world, and all things that are therein, but also preserves the same, and yet now God’s power works in preserving of it. Whereupon Christ our Lord says, “My Father works hitherto and I work.” Now it were a fond thing to grant that the Whole was created by God, and to deny that he cares for it, or governs it. Therefore all things that are, and do move anywhere are and do move by God his providence, the Elements, the courses of the Starts, seasons and varieties of times, fruit, and other things, which the earth brings forth, continual springs of fountains, the certain courses of Rivers, Monsters of the Sea, besides these beginning continuance and change of Empires, and those things which are punishments all these things, and whatsoever else may be reckoned up, are ruled by God’s providence and counsel. And that these things are very well and excellently governed, not only the Holy Scriptures,  but also daily experience does teach, and all the saints in Heaven do confess. Apoca. 4th and 5th chapters.

Epicures.

Amongst the Gentiles in times past the Epicures, who had regard neither of God nor man (whose like would to God we had not in our time a great many), did think God neither cares for us at all, neither yet sees what we do, and that there was no providence of God at all: and others judge all things to be ruled either of nature, or fortune, and therefore that all things come to pass either by chance, or at all adventures, or else to be ordered by constellations, that is by the force and power of Stars, or by man’s means and counsel. But such as hold these opinions, these never have any regard of God, or commit their affairs unto God. Wherefore such men are fro good cause rebuked by S. James which says, “go to now you which say, today, or tomorrow we will go into that city, and remain a year there, and will use merchandise, and get grain, whereas you should rather say if the Lord will, and if we live, we will do this or that,” [ James. 4.]. For Christ our Lord has also commanded us not to be careful for all things to come, [Mat. 5. Luke. 12.] but for to do those things which are commanded of God, and finally to cast all our care upon him [ 1 Peter. 5. Heb. 13.], for so much as as with our carefulness we cannot make one hair either white or black [Mat. 10.], and that all the hairs of our heads are numbered unto God, without whose will, not the very smallest birds that are, fall unto the ground. And saint Paul says, God gives unto all men life, breath, and to be short all things, for through him, we live and have our being and move. And David says: “The eyes of all things are cast upon thee O Lord, and thou gives them meat in due season, and opening thy hand feeds all things living, which being shut up, all things perish and decay,” [Psal. 147.].

And Daniel says, wisdom and power of the Lord’s, which changes times and seasons, which puts down kings and makes kings, &c [Daniel. 2.]. If any man be desirous to have more testimonies of this, sort let him read Levit. 26; Deu. 28; Job. 38; and 39. Esai; 40; Jere. 10; Psa. 104, 107, 139, and 147; and the commentaries of Saint Augustine upon the 148th Psalm.

What profit comes
by the knowledge
of God’s providence.

And this true and perfect knowledge of God’s providence whereby all things are governed, makes men patient in adversity, modest and ware, and in all all matters it keeps in us the remembrance and reverence of God, and stirs us up ti praise and call upon God.

Henry Bullinger, Common Places of Christian Religion, (Imprinted at London by Tho. East, and H. Middleton, for George Byshop, 1572), 38-40. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]

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