The Practical Denial of God's Providence

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Stephen Charnock (The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, vol. 1, p. 46)

[We practically deny, abuse, or contemn God's providence] when we use indirect courses, and dishonest ways to gain wealth or honour. This is to leave God, to seek relief at hell’s gates, and adore the devil’s providence above God’s: when God doth not answer us, like Saul, we will go to the witch of Endor, and have our ends by hell when heaven refuseth us. It is a covenanting with the devil, and striking up a bargain and agreement with hell, and acknowledging Satan to be the god of the world. No man will doubt but in express covenants with the devil, as witches and conjurors are reported to make, that the devil shall give them such knowledge, such wealth, or bring them to such honour; it is no doubt, I say, but such do acknowledge the devil the god of the world, because they agree by articles to have those things conferred upon them by Satan, which are only in the power of God absolutely to promise or bestow. So when a man will commit sin to gain the ends of his ambition or covetousness, does he not implicitly covenant with the devil, who is the head of sinners, and set up his sin in the place of God, because he hopes to attain those things by sinful means, which are only in the hand of God, and on whom he only can have a dependence? This is the devil’s design out of an enmity to providence. He tempted Christ to be his own carver, thereby to put him upon a distrust of his Father’s care of him: Mat. 4:3, ‘Command that these stones be made bread,’ as though God would not provide for him; which design of the devil is manifest by our Saviour’s answer. This is to prostitute providence to our own lusts, and to pull it down from the government of the world, to be a lacquey to our sinful pleasure; to use means which God doth prohibit, is to set up hell to govern us, since God will not govern our affairs in answer to our greedy desires. It is to endeavour that by God’s curse which we should only expect by God’s blessing; for when God hath forbid sinful ways, severely threatened them, perhaps cursed them in examples before our eyes, what is it but to say, that we will rather believe God’s curse will further us than his blessing? It is to disparage his blessing, and prefer his curse, to slight his wisdom and adore our folly. When we go out of God’s way, we go out of God’s protection, we have no charter for the blessing of providence without that condition: Ps. 37:3, ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ To do evil, then, is not to trust in God, or have any regard to his providential care.​
 
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