The Doctrine Of God’s Providence, In Itself, And In Its Relations And Uses -- By: Benjamin W. Dwight

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 021:83 (Jul 1864)
Article: The Doctrine Of God’s Providence, In Itself, And In Its Relations And Uses
Author: Benjamin W. Dwight

The Doctrine Of God’s Providence, In Itself, And In Its Relations And Uses

Dr. Benjamin W. Dwight

Society is ever slowly oscillating in matters of public opinion and of public feeling from one extreme to another. In reference to principles of state polity, it vibrates to and fro, continually, from authority to liberty. In religious doctrine, the orthodox evangelical portion of it rests quite habitually in a fixed, strongly declared, outward estimate of the fact of God’s sovereignty, standing by itself alone; while yet a few earnest minds make always an equally imperative demand for a full recognition, at the same time, of the unimpaired, inherent freedom of the human will in harmonious connection with it. It is natural to glorify power. Brahma, or Force personified, under whatever softer name, has ever been the god of the heathen, ancient and modern; and to quite too many minds in Christendom, also, does power seem to be the highest of the divine attributes.

Although the movements of the human heart, in the gross, are so little directed towards God, that it would be an overwrought statement to describe it as oscillating at different periods from scepticism to credulity, or better, if it might be so said, to faith itself, yet there have been at different times marked tendencies to great theological reaction from the plain gospel standard of doctrine and feeling among the educated classes. Such a strong reactionary tendency is very manifest now throughout the civilized world. On no one theme does it need to be met and baffled more fully than on the great doctrine of God’s providence. Says Westcott well: “The belief in providence is the necessary supplement to the belief in inspiration.”

The highest culmination of right religious thought and

feeling of any individual mind appears in its full, habitual, all-controlling realization of God’s direct personal providence. A present God is the one great want of our natures; and the constantly quickening and inspiring consciousness of that Presence, in all its untold riches of power, wisdom, love and grace, is the greatest attainment of sanctified humanity, here or in heaven. “Let him that glorieth,” saith God, “glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me.” In no respect is the piety of modern Christians more weak than in the habitual possession of a serene, uplifting sense of an ever-felt, though unseen, God, waiting to bestow himself, with his gifts, and infinitely beyond them, upon all his creatures. How much, in this relation, did the religious development of David and of the prophets and apostles, so long ago, transcend the type of spiritual strength and joy prevailing now, under the brighter light of the “New Coven...

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