John Marbeck (ca. 1510-ca.1585) on the Providence of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Divine Providence



Of the providence of God, what it is.

Providence is not only that unspeakable power whereby it comes to pass, that God has foreseen all things from everlasting, and most wisely provided for all things beforehand: But also that eternal decree or ordinance of the most wise and righteous God, whereby that everything that has been, has been: and everything that is, is: and everything that shall be, shall be: according as it liked him to appoint from everlasting


We mean by the providence of God, that even as he is creator of all things, he is also the conserver, which does by his eternal power and wisdom, guide and govern them, and by his sovereign  goodness in such sort, that nothing comes by adventure, neither in heaven nor in earth, without his counsel and ordinance, and his most just will, be it in general, or in particular.

Peter Viret.

No good or evil does happen without a cause, or by fortune without God’s providence, but all things do happen after his judgment.

Hierom., upon Eze.

Providence is sometime as much to say as knowledge, and foreknowledge of things to come. Sometime it signifies an ability to foresee for others of things necessary, so it is said that God in heaven does foresee and care for all. Again, some do decline the providence of God after this wise: Providence is the everlasting and unchangeable kingdom and administration of all things. They do mean (says Musculus), by the word of kingdom, dominion and power, and by the word of administration, the temperature of that dominion which they added, because of the finding and giving of all things unto us, which seems in show, to be a condition of ministry, as well as of dominion.

Musc., Fol. 425. and 426.

God’s providence we call that sovereign Empire and supreme dominion, which God always keeps in the government of all things in heaven and earth contained. And these two (that is, prescience and providence), we so attribute unto God, that with the Apostle we fear not to affirm, that in him we have our being, moving and life. We fear not to affirm, that the way of man is not in his own power, but that his foot-steps are directed by the eternal God (that the sorts and lots which appear most subject to fortune), go so forth by his providence, that a sparrow falls not on the ground, without our heavenly Father. And thus we give not to God any prescience, by an idle sight, and a providence by a general moving of his creatures (as not only some Philosophers, but also more then is to be wished in our days do), but we attribute uto him such a knowledge and providence, as is extended to every one of his creatures. In which he so works, that willingly they tend and incline to the end, to the which they are appointed by him, &c.

Knox, fol. 21.

Because we know not all things (says S. Austen), which God does concerning us in most good order, that therefore in only good-will we do according to the law, because his providence is an unchangeable law. Therefore since God does claim unto himself the power to rule the world, which is to us unknown. Let this be a law to us of soberness and modesty, quietly to obey his sovereign authority, that his will may be unto us the only rule Justice, as the most just cause of all things. I mean not that absolute will, of which the Sophists do babble, separating by wicked and profane disagreement, his Justice from his power, but I mean that providence, which is the governess of all things, from which proceeds nothing but right, although the causes he hidden from us.

Calvin, 1. book, chapt. 17, Sect. 3.

Iohn Marbeck, A Book of Notes and Common Places, collected and gathered out of the works of diuers singular Witers, and brought Alphabetically in order (Imprinted at London by Thomas East, 1581), 880-881. [Some reformatting; spelling modernized.] [Note: Marbeck’s reference to Hierom probably refers to Hieronymus Zanchius, the Latinized and alternative spelling used for Jerome or Zanchi, also known as, Girolamo Zanchi. And needless to say, Musc. refers to Musculus.]

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 8:35 am and is filed under Divine Providence. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


The providential hand of God is an awesome thing to contemplate!

Thank you for posting this.

I have just stumbled upon your site today and am happy to have found such well written, biblically sound material to digest. This is a beautiful thing!

I’ve just jumped into the blogosphere myself in recent weeks, launching http://FireBreathingChristian.com , where the most recent post is entitled “Candy Christianity: The Counterfeit Gospel of the American Church”, so that is the sort of subject that’s been on my mind.

It is always encouraging to connect with like-minded Christians. It is instances such as this that I am very grateful to God for inspiring Al Gore to invent the Internet.

Soli Deo gloria!


September 24th, 2009 at 5:41 pm
D. Philip Veitch


September 24th, 2009 at 10:26 pm