Robert Shaw on the providence of God

"That the providence of God is concerned about the sinful actions of creatures must be admitted. Joseph's brethren committed a most wicked and unnatural action in selling him to the Midianites; but Joseph thus addressed his brethren: 'Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God sent me before you to preserve life.'—Gen. xiv. 6. The most atrocious crime ever perpetrated by human hands was the crucifixion of the Lord of glory; yet it is expressly affirmed that God delivered him into those wicked hands which were imbrued in his sacred blood: 'Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.'—Acts ii. 23. At the same time, it is indisputable that God cannot be the author nor approver of sin. To solve the difficulty connected with this point, theologians distinguish between an action and its quality. The action, abstractly considered, is from God, for no action can be performed without the concurrence of Providence; but the sinfulness of the action proceeds entirely from the creature. As to the manner in which the providence of God is concerned about the sinful actions of creatures, it is usually stated, that God permit them, that he limits them, and that he overrules them for the accomplishment of his own holy ends. But the full elucidation of this abstruse subject, so as to remove every difficulty, surpasses the human faculties. We are certain that God is concerned in all the actions of his creatures; we are equally certain that God cannot be the author of sin; and here we ought to rest" (Robert Shaw, Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith).

Does the Psalmist in Psalm 105:25 "distinguish between an action and its quality" like the theologians that Shaw mentions? Does God the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist present the idea that this subject is "abstruse" and one that "surpasses the human faculties"

"He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants" (Psalm 105:25).


Sermon on Romans 9:18 (Part 1 of 3)