Providence, Piety, and Dry Gunpowder

Here’s a short but sweet blurb by Herman Bavinck on providence, secondary causes (concurrence), and piety (from Reformed Dogmatics, Vol II).

“Bowing before the powers of nature is something very different from childlike submission to God, and exercising dominion over the earth is a matter of serving God.  The sea captain who went to his cabin to pray and read the Bible during a storm did submit to the power of the elements, but not to God.  There is much more real piety in Cromwell’s dictum: ‘Trust God and keep your powder dry'” (II.612).


shane lems

sunnyside wa

2 Replies to “Providence, Piety, and Dry Gunpowder”

  1. I think it depends on the situation. If there’s nothing for the sea captain to be doing besides worrying, than it seems like he’s actually right in praying and reading the Bible. If there’s something he could be doing to help the situation, though, than he should be doing that. Seeing that I know nothing of sea captaining, I guess I can’t really speak on that though. :-)


  2. This reminds me of a joke I once heard….

    A Christian lived near a river which was set for a record flood. As the waters began to rise, the Christian prayed for deliverance. As he prayed, a county truck stopped by and offered him some sandbags. “No thanks,” said the Christian, “My trust is in the Lord.”
    Soon the rising water forced him to retreat to his porch to pray. Some rescuers came by in a boat an offered him a ride to safety. “No thanks,” said the Christian, “My trust is in the Lord.”
    It wasn’t long until the water forced him to his roof. His praying was interrupted by a helicopter dangling a rope. “No thanks,” said the Christian, “My trust is in the Lord.”
    Finally, he was overcome by the flood waters. As the Christian entered heaven, he asked God why his prayers weren’t answered. The Lord replied, “Well I could have sent a whale to swallow you, but I figured the sandbags, boat, and copter I sent would be enough.”

    I think what Bavinck means here is that submit to God is more than just humbly imploring God’s help, it’s recognizing and accepting the answers He gives.


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