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By His Good Providence


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Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

—Psalm 107:30–31

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[W]hen [Moses and Joshua] were about to take their leave of the children of Israel, they recounted to them what great things God had done for them, as the best arguments and motives they could urge to engage them to obedience. And how can I copy after better examples? What fitter, what more noble motives, to holiness and purity of living, can I lay before you, than they did?

Indeed, I cannot say that we have seen the ‘pillar of a cloud by day, or a pillar of fire by night’, going visibly before us to guide our course. But this I can say, that the same God who was in that pillar of a cloud and pillar of fire, which departed not from the Israelites and who has made the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night, has, by his good providence, directed us in our right way, or else the pilot had steered us in vain.

Neither can I say that we have seen the ‘sun stand still’, as the children of Israel did in the days of Joshua. But surely God, during part of our voyage, has caused it to withhold some of that heat, which it usually sends forth in these warmer climates, or else it had not failed but some of you must have perished in the sickness that has been and does yet continue among us.

We have not seen the waters stand purposely on an heap, that we might pass through, neither have we been pursued by Pharaoh and his host and delivered out of their hands. But we have been led through the sea as through a wilderness and were once remarkably preserved from being run down by another ship; which had God permitted, the waters, in all probability, would immediately have overwhelmed us and like Pharaoh and his host, we should have sunk, as stones, into the sea.

We may, indeed, atheist-like, ascribe all these things to natural causes and say, ‘Our own skill and foresight has brought us hither in safety.’ But as certainly as Jesus Christ, the angel of the covenant, in the days of his flesh, walked upon the water and said to his sinking disciples, ‘Be not afraid, it is I,’ so surely has the same everlasting I AM, ‘who decketh himself with light as with a garment, who spreadeth out the heavens like a curtain, who claspeth the winds in his fist, who holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hands,’ and guided the wise men by a star in the east; so surely, I say, has he spoken and at his command the winds have blown us where we are now arrived. For his providence ruleth all things. ‘Wind and storms obey his word.’ He saith to it at one time, ‘Go’ and it goeth; at another, ‘Come’ and it cometh. And at a third time, ‘Blow this way’ and it bloweth.

It is he, my brethren and not we ourselves, that has of late sent us such prosperous gales and made us to ride, as it were, on the wings of the wind, into the haven where we would be.

‘O that you would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness,’ and by your lives declare, that you are truly thankful for the wonders he had shown to us; who are less than the least of the sons of men.

—George Whitefield, “Thankfulness for Mercies Received, a Necessary Duty” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 1:142–144.



Posted 2018·11·20 by David Kjos
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Posted in: George Whitefield · Gratitude · Providence · The Sermons of George Whitefield

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