And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
That Jesus Christ hath a providential influence upon all the affairs of this world, is evident, both from Scripture assertions, and rational observations, made upon the actings of things here below. But my business, in this discourse, is not to prove that there is a providence, which none but atheists deny. I shall choose rather to show by what acts Jesus Christ administers this kingdom, and in what manner; and what use may be made thereof. First, He rules and orders the kingdom of providence, as follows.
1. He supports the world and all creatures in it by His power.
2. He permits and suffers the worst of creatures in His dominions to be and act as they do.
3. He powerfully restrains creatures by the bridle of providence, from the commission of those things to which their hearts are propense enough.
4. Jesus Christ limits the creatures in their acting, assigning them their boundaries and lines of liberty; to which they may, but beyond it cannot go.
5. The Lord Jesus providentially protects His people amidst a world of enemies and dangers.
6. He punishes the evil doers, and repays by providence, into their own lap, the mischief they do, or but intend to do, unto them that fear Him.
7. And lastly, He rewards by providence the services done to Him and His people. Out of this treasure of providence God repays oftentimes those that serve Him, and that with a hundredfold reward now in this life (Matthew 19:29). This active, vigilant providence hath its eye upon all the wants, straits, and troubles of the creatures; but especially upon such as religion brings us unto. What huge volumes of experiences might the people of God write upon this subject! Secondly, We shall next inquire how Jesus Christ administers this providential kingdom. And here I must take notice of the means by which, and the manner in which He doth it. The means, or instruments He uses in the governing the providential kingdom (for He is not personally present with us Himself), are either angels or men; the angels are "ministering creatures sent forth by Him for the good of them that shall be the heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Luther tells us they have two offices, to sing above, and watch beneath. These do us many invisible offices of love. They have dear and tender respects and love for the saints. To them, God, as it were, puts forth His children to nurse, and they are tenderly careful of them whilst they live, and bring them home in their arms to their Father when they die. And as angels, so men are the servants of providence; yea, bad men as well as good. Yea, there is not a creature in heaven, earth, or hell, but Jesus Christ can providentially use it, and serve His ends, and promote His designs by it.But whatever the instrument be, Christ uses, of this we may be certain, that His providential working is holy, judicious, sovereign, profound, irresistible, harmonious, and to the saints peculiar.
1. It is holy. Though He permits, limits, orders, and overrules many unholy persons and actions, yet He still works like Himself, most holily and purely throughout.
2. Christ's providential working is not only most pure and holy, but also most wise and judicious (Ezekiel 1:20), "The wheels are full of eyes." They are not moved by a blind impetus, but in deep counsel and wisdom. The most wise providence looks beyond us. It eyes the end, and suits all things thereto, and not to our fond desires.
3. The providence of Christ is most supreme and sovereign.
4. Providence is profound and inscrutable. The judgments of Christ are "a great deep, and His footsteps are not known" (Psalm 36:6). There are hard texts in the works, as well as in the words of Christ. The wisest heads have been at a loss in interpreting some providences, (Jeremiah 12:1, 2; Job 21:7). The angels had the hands of a man under their wings (Ezekiel 1:8), i.e., they wrought secretly and mysteriously.
5. Providence is irresistible in its design and motions; for all providences are but the fulfillings and accomplishments of God's immutable decrees (Ephesians 1:11).
6. The providences of Christ are harmonious.
7. The providences of Christ work in a special and peculiar way, for the good of the saints.Inferences:
1. See to whom you are beholden for your lives, liberties, comforts, and all that you enjoy in this world. Is it not Christ that orders all for you? He is, indeed, in heaven, out of your sight; but though you see Him not, He sees you, and takes care of all your concerns. When one told Silentiarius of a plot laid to take away his life, he answered, "Si Deus mei curam non habet, quid vivo?" "If God take no care of me, how do I live? how have I escaped hitherto?"
2. Hath God left the government of the whole world in the hands of Christ, and trusted Him over all? Then do you also leave all your particular concerns in the hands of Christ too, and know that the Infinite Wisdom and Love, which rules the world, manages everything that relates to you. It is in a good hand, and infinitely better than if it were in your own.
3. If Christ be Lord and King over the providential kingdom, and that for the good of His people, let none that are Christ's henceforth stand in a slavish fear of creatures. It is a good note that Grotius hath upon my text; it is a marvellous consolation (saith he) that Christ hath so great an empire, and that He governs it for the good of His people, as a head consulting the good of the body. Our Head and Husband, is Lord general of all the hosts of heaven and earth; no creature can move hand or tongue without His leave or order; the power they have is given them from above (John 19:11, 12). The serious consideration of this truth will make the feeblest spirit cease trembling, and set it a singing (Psalm 47:7), "The Lord is King of all the earth, sing ye praises with understanding": that is, (as some well paraphrase it) every one that hath understanding of this comfortable truth.
4. If the government of the world be in the hands of Christ, then our engaging and entitling of Christ to all our affairs and business, is the true and ready way to their success and prosperity.
5. Lastly, eye Christ in all the events of providence; see His hand in all that befalls you, whether it be evil or good. "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psalm 111:2).
Parallel VersesKJV: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,