Quotes on Providence

Providence is God’s rule over all that exists, visible and unseen, past and future. It is the christian’s comfort and confidence. Louis Berkhof defines it thus:

Providence is that work of God in which He preserves all His creatures, is active in all that happens in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end.

Charles Hodge, following the Westminster Confession of Faith, defines it as God’s ‘most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions’. The Scriptures testify to this glorious truth in several passages (Deut. 8:18; Ps. 104:20, 21, 30; Amos 3:6; Matt. 6:45; 10:29; Acts 14:17; Phil. 2:13; Ps. 103:19; Dan, 4:34, 35). And I list below several quotations which illustrate or refer to this idea.

  • And pleas’d th’ Almighty’s orders to perform,
    Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.

    • Joseph Addison, The Campaign (1704).
  • But they that are above
    Have ends in everything.

    • Beaumont and Fletcher, The Maid’s Tragedy (c. 1609; published 1619), Act V, scene 4.
  • We sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enhance the value of its favours.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), Chapter I.
  • To a close shorn sheep, God gives wind by measure.
    • George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651).
  • God sends cold according to clothes.
    • George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651). “God sendeth cold after clothes.” As given in Camden’s Remains.
  • Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
    To my proportion’d strength.

    • John Milton, Comus (1637), line 329.
  • Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
    A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
    Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
    And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle I, line 87.
  • Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,
    Yet cry, if man’s unhappy, God’s unjust.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle I, line 117.
  • Who finds not Providence all good and wise,
    Alike in what it gives, and what denies.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle I, line 205.
  • Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
    Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle I, line 271.
  • Dieu modère tout à son plaisir.
    • God moderates all at His pleasure.
    • François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1533).
  • He that doth the ravens feed,
    Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,
    Be comfort to my age!

    • William Shakespeare, As You Like It (c.1599-1600), Act II, scene 3, line 43.
  • There is a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will.

    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act V, scene 2, line 10.
  • We defy augury: there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come; the readiness is all.
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act V, scene 2, line 230.
  • O God, thy arm was here;
    And not to us, but to thy arm alone,
    Ascribe we all!

    • William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Act IV, scene 8, line 111.
  • For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
    But to the earth some special good doth give.

    • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1597), Act II, scene 3, line 17.
  • He maketh kings to sit in soverainty;
    He maketh subjects to their powre obey;
    He pulleth downe, he setteth up on hy:
    He gives to this, from that he takes away;
    For all we have is his: what he list doe he may.

    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book V, Canto II, Stanza 41.
  • God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.
    • Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768) (given in italics as a quotation).
  • Fear not, but trust in Providence,
    Wherever thou may’st be.

    • Thomas Haynes Bayly, The Pilot.
  • If heaven send no supplies,
    The fairest blossom of the garden dies.

    • William Browne, Visions, Chapter V.
  • In some time, his good time, I shall arrive;
    He guides me and the bird
    In his good time.

    • Robert Browning, Paracelsus, Part I.
  • Le hasard est un sobriquet de la Providence.
    • Chance is a nickname for Providence.
    • Chamfort.
  • ‘Tis Providence alone secures
    In every change both mine and yours.

    • William Cowper, A Fable, Moral.
  • Behind a frowning Providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    • William Cowper, Light Shining Out of Darkness.
  • God made bees, and bees made honey,
    God made man, and man made money,
    Pride made the devil, and the devil made sin;
    So God made a cole-pit to put the devil in.

    • Transcribed by James Henry Dixon, from the fly-sheet of a Bible, belonging to a pit-man who resided near Hutton-Henry, in County of Denham.
  • Whatever is, is in its causes just.
    • John Dryden, Œdipus, Act III, scene 1.
  • Dieu mesure le froid à la brebis tondue.
    • God tempers the cold to the shorn sheep.
    • Henri Étienne, Le Livre de Proverbs Epigrammatique. Quoted from an older collection, possibly Lebon’s. (1557. Reprint of 1610).
  • Deus haec fortasse benigna
    Reducet in sedem vice.

    • Perhaps Providence by some happy change will restore these things to their proper places.
    • Horace, Epodi, XIII. 7.
  • Behind the dim unknown,
    Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

    • James Russell Lowell, The Present Crisis, Stanza 8.
  • Lap of providence.
    • Prideaux, Directions to Churchwardens (Ed. 1712), p. 105.
  • The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
    • Psalm. CXXI. 6.
  • Mutos enim nasci, et egere omni ratione satius fuisset, quam providentiæ munera in mutuam perniciem convertere.
    • For it would have been better that man should have been born dumb, nay, void of all reason, rather than that he should employ the gifts of Providence to the destruction of his neighbor.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, XII. 1. 1.
  • And I will trust that He who heeds
    The life that hides, in mead and wold,
    Who hangs yon alder’s crimson beads,
    And stains these mosses green and gold,
    Will still, as He hath done, incline
    His gracious care to me and mine.

    • John Greenleaf Whittier, Last Walk in Autumn, Stanza 26.



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