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This ought to be unto us most certain, that nothing is done without thy providence, O Lord; that is, that not nothing is done, be it good or bad, sweet or sour, but by thy knowledge, that is, by thy will, wisdom, and ordinance, (for all these knowledge doth comprehend in it;) as by thy holy word we are taught in many places, that even the life of a sparrow is not without thy will, nor any liberty or power upon a porket have all the devils in hell but by thy appointment and will: which will we always must believe most assuredly to be all just and good, howsoever otherwise it seem unto us; for thou art marvellous and not comprehensible in thy ways, and holy in all thy works.
But hereunto it is necessary also for us to know no less certainly that though all things be done by thy providence, yet the same providence hath many and divers means to work by, which means being contemned, thy providence is contemned also: as for example, meat is a mean to serve thy providence for the preservation of health and life here; so that he which contemneth to eat because thy providence is certain and infallible, the same contemneth thy providence. Indeed, if that it were so that meat could not be had, then should we not tie thy providence to this mean, but make it free as thou art free, that is, that without meat thou canst help and give health and life; for it is not of any need that thou usest any instrument or mean to serve thy providence: thy power and wisdom is infinite, and therefore should we hang on thy providence, even when all is clean against us. But for our erudition and infirmities’ sake, it hath pleased thee by means to work and deal with us here, to exercise us in obedience, and because we cannot else (so great is our corruption) sustain thy naked and bare presence,.
Grant me therefore, dear Father, I humbly beseech thee for Christ’s sake, that, as I something now know these things, so I may use this knowledge to my comfort; and commodity in thee: that is, grant that in what state soever I be, I may not doubt but the same doth come to me by thy most just ordinance, yea, by thy merciful ordinance; for, as thou art just, so art thou merciful, yea, thy “mercy is above all thy works.” And by this knowledge grant me that I may humble myself to obey thee, and look for thy help in time convenient, not only when I have means by which thou mayest work, and art so accustomed to do, but also when I have no means but am destitute: yea, when that all means be directly and clean against me, grant, I say, yet that I may still hang upon thee and thy providence, not doubting of a fatherly end in thy good time.
Again, lest I should contemn thy providence, or presume upon it by uncoupling those things which thou hast coupled together, preserve me from neglecting thy ordinary and lawful means in all my needs, if so be I may have them and with good conscience use them, (although I know thy providence be not tied to them further than pleaseth thee ;) but grant that I may with diligence, reverence, and thankfulness use them, and thereto my diligence, wisdom, and industry in all things lawful, to serve thereby thy providence, if it so please thee; howbeit, so that I hang in no part on the means, or on my diligence, wisdom, and industry, but only on thy providence: which more and more persuade me to be altogether fatherly and good, how far soever otherwise it appear and seem, yea, is felt of me.
By this I being preserved from negligence on my behalf, and despair or murmuring towards thee, shall become diligent and patient, through thy mere and alone grace: which give and increase in me, to praise thy holy name for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Savior. Amen.