XI. God’s Providential Care.

MATT. vi. 30.
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which, to-
day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much
more clothe you, O ye of little faith.”

OUR Lord is insisting on the duty of leaving cares about
food and dress trustfully and unreservedly in the loving
hands of God. His followers, He hints, may just as well
be Gentiles at once, if they are to spend their energies
upon such cares as these. Our Lord, to warrant this trust
and confidence, reveals God as a Father, a revelation which
assures at once of His power and His love. In dealing
with this subject our Lord argues from the less to the
greater. If He feels so much interest in the lower forms
of life, He must feel a much greater interest in the summit
of the visible creation—man. This doctrine of the par-
ticular providential care of God for man runs throughout
the Old Testament. Against this general truth that man-
kind generally, and God’s servants in particular, are the
objects of His care, there are one or two objections made.
It is argued:—
I. That such a conception of the world and of life is un-
scientific, and belongs to the infancy of human thought.
The reign of fixed laws is an established certainty; and
this recognised, is fatal to the idea of a particular provi-
dence. But why is the idea of law inconsistent with that
of a father’s care and government? A father does not
govern one whit the less because he governs by rule. God’s
hand is seen in a rule of universal law, and in the order of
His government. If God be really free in His action, so
that He can, if He wills, innovate upon His action, then in
the fact that law is the general principle of His govern-
ment there is nothing inconsistent with His fatherly pro-
vidence. He does not clothe the lilies one whit the less
because the mysterious laws of growth are everywhere the
same. It is asked,—
II. Is not belief in God’s protecting providence dis-
honourable to God Himself? Can the Ruler of the spheres
be concerned with providing us with food and clothing?
To say that God is too great for this looks like reverence.
But this reverence would fain bow God out of His own
universe, and enhance His majesty at the expense of His
providence. It is asked again,—
III. If such a doctrine does not threaten the moral well-
being of man with serious dangers, such as a listless wait-
ing upon events, or, making God’s service a mercenary
service? No belief in His loving care can impair the desire
felt by noble souls to seek and serve Him for His own
sake. Faith in this case is the very spirit and nerve of
exertion.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.