Amandus Polanus on the Providence of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Divine Providence

The following on the providence of God follows from Polanus’ discussion on permission of sin.


Hitherto concerning the parts of God’s providence: the sorts follow.

The providence of God is twofold: General or special.

The general providence of God, is that whereby the whole world is governed by a certain universal motion, Gen 7.1,2,3.

And that is declared, and especially beheld both in the preservation or destruction of things, and also in the governing of them.

The preservation of things, is that whereby God preserves all creatures, the better to declare his love towards them, Psal. 36.8, 9. Psal. 104. throughout, 105. 106. Mat. 6:36, 30.

Preservation is either universal or special.

The universal preservation, is that whereby he is present with all and every creature, even with the evil, so that he may preserve them only as long as pleases him. Psal. 104. throughout, Mat. 6.26, 30.

That is made manifest by their succeeding one another, or by continuance.

By their succeeding one another, whereby one sort dying or perishing, another sort comes into their room: as for example, men after men, beasts after beasts, corn after corn, or one season after another season; as for example, the spring after winter, the summer after the spring, the fall of the leaf after summer, winter after the fall of the leaf.

By their continuance, as for example, of those things which are void of these changes, as the continuance of the heavenly motions, of the sun, and other stars, of the continual springing of rivers, &c.

Particular preservation, is that whereby he does take care of every particular thing severally even unto the least sparrow, sustaining and cherishing it, Mat. 6:30. and 10;29, 30. Psal. 56.9. God numbers even the tears of his children.

The destruction of things, is that whereby God does destroy whatsoever he will, that he might show evident examples of his most just judgments, Psal. 104.29. and Psal. 105. and 106. Gen. 7.4. and 19.24. Num. 16.31.

The governing of all things is that, by which according to his good, free and just will he guides and governs them so, that nothing is done, but according to his eternal counsel.

Of this governing there are two parts, motion and restraint.

Motion is that, by which he moves all things as he will, and that not only as in respect of the beginning of the motion, but as in respect of the continuance of it even to the end.

There are two parts of it: the working of the motion, and the direction and ordering of it.

The working of the motion, is that by which God bows and turns all things that have life or are without life, to this or that action. Acts. 17.28. Jerem. 10.23. Prover. 16.1. and 20.24. and 22.2. Psal. 75.7. Exod. 19.13. Psal. 104. and 103.

From God therefore, is the secret motion of men’s’ wills, since God bows or turns them, whither he will. Proverb. 21.1. Job. 11.20, 24.

So did God by the secret power of his providence bow the will of the widow, to give Elias food.

The direction of motion is that, by which God does so guide and govern all the motion of all things, that they are able to do nothing, but that which he has already decreed with himself, neither yet by any other mean, then that which he has decreed, he in the mean while also directing it to a good end. Rom. 9.17. and 11.11. Rev. 17.17.

Therefore all actions even of the wicked men, which they by sinning do perform are accomplished and governed, though by a secret will of God, yet by his good and just will also: I say all the actions even of the wicked, so far forth as they are actions or motions to objects, or so far forth, as they are trials, or punishments, or corrections, or executions of God’s will, God I say does effectually will & rule them all. Gen. 45.5,7,8. Exod. 7.3. and 10.1. Deut. 2.30. Jos. 11.19, 20. Judg. 3.1.12. 1 Sam. 16.14. 1.King. 22.19,20,21,22,23 Job. 1.12,21. and 2.3,6. and 19.6. Psal. 107.40. Isai. 19.2,3. John 13.27. That which thou does quickly. Acts 2.23. and 4.43. Rom. 1.24, 28. Revel. 17.17.

And thus far touching motion: now of restrain.

Restraint is another part of God’s government, when he hinders the action of the things created, and as it were ties or binds them according to his own good pleasure.

So he restrains the clouds that they shall not drop down rain, and the earth that it shall not bring forth grass and fruit. Deut. 28.23. he stills the winds and tempests. Psal. 107.29.30. and bridles men, that they cannot do the things they had appointed. Gen. 20.6. and 31.24. and 35.5. and curbs even as it were with a bit or bridle, the devils and all wicked men, that they cannot rage according to their list, as they desire. Revel. 20.12. Psal. 33.10.

The government of all things is either general or special.

The general is that, by which generally things and all events are governed. Isa. 47.7.

Special, by which both singular creatures, and singular events are specially governed.

Nothing is more natural, then the spring to follow the winter, summer the spring, the fall of the leaf summer, & wider again, to succeed the fall: And yet even in this course, there is perceived so great, and so unequal diversity, as it plainly appears, that ever year, month, and day almost, is as it were tempered, by a new providence of God.

There is a double use of God’s providence.

First it makes for God’s glory: for the works of God’s providence, do set out to the godly, and free from the taunts and defamation of the wicked, the wisdom, power and justice of God. Exod. 9.16. Rom. 9.17.

Secondly it makes for our instruction, that we are patient in adversity, and thankful in prosperity, & from time to come, have excellent hope reposed in God a most faithful father, assuredly knowing, that there is nothing that shall draw us from his love, seeing all the creatures are so in his power, that without his pleasure, they cannot only do nothing, but not so much as move. Rom. 5.3. Jam. 1.3. Job. 1.21. Deut. 8.10, 1 Thess. 3.18. Rom. 8.38, 39.

Amandus Polanus, The Substance of Christian Religion, (London: Arn. Hatfield, 1600), 98-103.

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