Monday, July 6, 2009

How God's Providence includes Everything: Part 16 "On Cleaving to God"

How God's Providence includes everything
St. Albert of Jerusalem
Conclusion: "On Cleaving to God"

Certainly if we are to come directly, safely and nakedly to our Lord
God without hindrance, freely and peacefully, as explained above, and
be securely joined to him with even mind in prosperity or adversity,
whether in life or in death, then our job is to commit everything
unhesitatingly and resolutely, in general and individually, to his
unquestionable and infallible providence. This is hardly surprising
since it is he alone who gives to all things their being, their
capacity and their action - that is, their strength, operation, nature,
manner and order in number, weight and measure. Especially since just
as a work of art presupposes a prior operation of nature, in the same
way the operation of nature presupposes the work of God, creating,
sustaining, ordering and administering it, for to him alone belong
infinite power, wisdom, goodness and inherent mercy, justice, truth,
love, and unchanging timelessness and omnipresence.

So nothing can exist or act by its own power unless it acts in the power
of God himself, who is the prime mover and the first principle, who is the
cause of every action, and the actor in every agent. For so far as the
nature of the order of things is concerned, God provides for everything
without intermediary right down to the last detail. So nothing, from
the greatest to the smallest things, can escape God's eternal
providence, or fall away from it, whether in matters of the will, of
causal events, or even of accidental circumstances outside of one's
control. But God cannot do anything which does not fall under the order
of his own providence, just as he cannot do anything which is not
subject to its operation. Divine providence therefore extends to
everything, in general and in particular, even including a man's
thoughts. On which subject Scripture has this to say, Cast all your
worries upon him, for he takes care of you. (1 Peter 5.7) And again the
prophet says, Cast your care upon the Lord, and he will feed you.
(Psalm 55.22) And, Look at the nations of men, my son, and see that no
one ever put his trust in the Lord, and was disappointed. For who has
been faithful to his commandments and been abandoned? (Sirach 2.22) And
our Lord himself said, Do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat?
(Matthew 6.25) So whatever and however much we can hope from God, we
shall undoubtedly receive, as Deuteronomy says, Every place where you
feet tread shall be yours. (Deuteronomy 11.24) For a man shall receive
all that he is able to desire, and so far as he can reach with his foot
of faith, even so much shall he possess. That is why Bernard says,
"God, the maker of everything is so abounding in mercy that whatever
size grace cup of faith we are able to hold out to him, we shall
undoubtedly have it filled." And so Mark has it, All that you ask in
prayer believing that you will receive it, will be given you. (Mark

So the stronger and the more vehement our faith in God is, and
the more reverently and persistently it is offered up to God, the more
surely, the more abundantly and the quicker what we hoped for will be
accomplished and obtained. Indeed if in doing this our faith in God is
weak and slow to rise to God on account of the multitude and magnitude
of our sins, we should remember this, that everything is possible with
God, and that what he wishes is bound to take place, while what he does
not wish cannot possibly happen, and that it is as easy for him to
forgive and cancel countless sins, however enormous, as to do it with a
single sin. While a sinner cannot, of himself, rise from innumerable
sins, and free and absolve himself from them, and not even from just
one sin. For we are unable not only to do, but even to think anything
good, of ourselves, but this is from God. Nonetheless it is much more
dangerous, other things being equal, to be ensnared in many sins than
in a single one, since no sin is left unpunished, and every mortal sin
deserves infinite punishment, and this by the rigour of justice since
any such sin is against God who is indeed worthy of infinite reverence,
dignity and honour. What is more, according to the Apostle Paul, God
knows his own (2 Timothy 2.19), and it is impossible for any of them to
perish by the whirlwinds and floods of any error, scandal, schism,
persecution, heresy, tribulation, adversity or temptation, for he has
foreseen from eternity and unchangeably the number of his elect and the
extent of their merits in such a way that everything good and bad, what
is theirs and not theirs, prosperity and adversity, all work together
for them for good, except indeed that they appear even more glorious
and commendable in adversity.

So let us commit everything with full assurance, in general
and in particular, confidently and unhesitatingly
to divine providence, by which God permits however much and whatever
sort of evil to happen to us. For it is good and will lead to good,
since he permits it to exist, and it would not exist unless he
permitted it to exist. Nor could it exist otherwise or more than he
permits it to, because he knows how to, has the power to, and wills to
change and convert it into something better. For just as it is by
operation of providence that all good things exist, so it is by its
permission that all bad things are changed into good. In this way in
fact God's power, wisdom and mercy are shown forth through Christ our
redeemer - his mercy and his justice, the power of grace and the
weakness of nature, the beauty of everything in the association of
opposites, the approval of the good, and the malice and punishment of
the wicked.

Similarly the contrition of the converted sinner, his
confession, and penitence, the kindness of God, piety, charity and his
praise and goodness (all show forth God's power and wisdom). Yet it
does not always lead to good in those who do ill, but, as is usually
the case, to great danger and extreme evil, in the loss, that is, of
grace and their place in glory, and in the incurring of guilt and
punishment, sometimes even eternal punishment, from which may Jesus
Christ defend us. Amen.

No comments: