1. God the good creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all His creatures and things,1 from the greatest even to the least,2 by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created, according unto His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will; to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.3
1. Heb 1:3; Job 38:11; Isa 46:10-11; Ps 135:6.
2. Mt 10:29-31.
3. Eph 1:11.
Fulton Footnote: Should not be construed to mean that God directs and governs all creatures and things in all they do, so that he brings to pass all their acts, both good and evil.
2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly;4 so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without His providence;5 yet by the same providence He ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.6
4. Ac 2:23.
5. Pr 16:33.
6. Ge 8:22.
3. God, in His ordinary providence maketh use of means,7 yet is free to work without,8 above,9 and against them10 at His pleasure.
7. Ac 27:31,44; Isa 55:10-11.
8. Hos 1:7.
9. Ro 4:19-21.
10. Da 3:27.
4. The Almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in His providence, that His determinate counsel extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions both of angels and men;11 and that not by a bare permission, which also He most wisely and powerfully boundeth, and otherwise ordereth and governeth,12 in a manifold dispensation to His most holy ends;13 yet so, as the sinfulness of their acts proceedeth only from the creatures, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.14
11. Ro 11:32-34; 2Sa 24:1; 1Ch 21:1.
12. 2Ki 19:28; Ps 76:10.
13. Ge 1:20; Isa 10:6-7,12.
14. Ps 50:21; 1Jn 2:16.
Fulton Footnote: We understand this section to teach that while God does not cause men to sin, nor is his predestination in its attitude to sin causative, yet that he exercises such a control over all his creatures as that all chance and uncertainty is excluded from the universe.
5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holyends.15
So that whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good.16
15. 2Ch 32:25-26,31; 2Co 12:7-9.
16. Ro 8:28.
Fulton Footnote: We understand that the first part of this section teaches that God's government of his children in this world is parental and not judicial. We do not understand the words "whatsoever befalls any of his elect" to teach that it is good for God's people to sin, but that it teaches that the afflictions and trials through which they are called to pass work for their good and his glory.
6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sin doth blind and harden;17 from them He not only withholdeth His grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understanding,and wrought upon their hearts;18 but sometimes also withdraweth the giftswhich they had,19 and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin;20 and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan,21 whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, under those means which God useth forthe softening of others.22
17. Ro 1:24-26,28; 11:7-8.
18. Dt 29:4.
19. Mt 13:12.
20. Dt 2:30; 2Kn 8:12-13.
21. Ps 81:11-12; 2Th 2:10-12.
22. Ex 8:15,32; Isa 6:9-10; 1Pe 2:7-8.
7. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it taketh care of His church, and disposethof all things to the good thereof. 23
23. 1Ti 4:10; Am 9:8-9; Isa 43:3-5.