From Your Pastor: Calvin on the Blessed Practicality of the Providence of God


“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days!” (Psalm 90:14)

“By this [teaching of providence] we confess that we have all our trust fixed in God the Father, whom we acknowledge to be Creator of ourselves and of absolutely all things that have been created, which have been established by the Word, His eternal wisdom (who is the Son), and by His power (who is the Holy Spirit). And, as He once established, so now He sustains, nourishes, activates, preserves, by His goodness and power, apart from which all things would immediately collapse and fall into nothingness. But when we call Him Almighty and Creator of all things, we must ponder such omnipotence of His whereby He works all things in all, and such providence whereby He regulates all things…

By faith are we to be persuaded that whatever happens to us, happy or sad, prosperous or adverse, whether it pertains to the body or to the soul, comes to us from Him (sin only being excepted, which is to be imputed to our own wickedness); also by His protection we are kept safe, defended, and preserved from any unfriendly force causing us harm. In short, nothing comes forth from Him to us (since we receive all things from His hand) which is not conducive to our welfare, howsoever things may commonly seem at one time prosperous, at another adverse. Indeed, all these things are done to us by Him, not through any worth of ours, nor by any merit to which He owes this grace, not because we can force His beneficence to make any reciprocal payment. Rather it is through His fatherly kindness and mercy that He has to do with us, the sole cause of which is His goodness.

For this reason, we must take care to give thanks for this very great goodness of His, to ponder it with our hearts, proclaim it with our tongue, and to render such praises as we are able. We should so reverence such a Father with grateful godliness [piety] and burning love, as to devote ourselves wholly to His service, and honor Him in all things. We should also so receive all adverse things with calm and peaceful hearts, as if from His hand, thinking that His providence so also looks after us and our salvation while it is afflicting and oppressing us. Therefore, whatever may finally happen, we are never to doubt or lose faith that we have in Him a propitious and benevolent Father, and no less are to await salvation from Him.”

~Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536 edition, pgs. 66-67.