1 God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things,1 from the greatest even to the least,2 by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the 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
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
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.
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
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 holy ends.15
So that whatsoever befalls any of his elect is by his appointment, for his glory, and their good.16
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 gifts which 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 even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.22
7 As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner it taketh care of his church, and disposeth of all things to the good thereof.23