Some time ago, a newspaper account of an accident spoke of the escape of a certain person as “providential.” A reader wrote to the paper objecting to this mode of describing a natural occurrence. Another replied in defence of the reporter’s phraseology, whereupon there sprang up quite a breezy controversy on the nature of providence, or whether there was such a thing at all.
The following chapters may be regarded as a contribution to this controversy, without, however, taking part in the particular fight occasioned. It is a contribution standing apart from the dispute of the combatants. It stands upon grounds totally different from those on which they argued the case. It recognises the operation of the fixed laws of nature as evident to universal experience, and demonstrated by the experiments of science. But at the same time, it accepts the higher form of truth presented to us in the Hebrew Scriptures - prophetic and apostolic.
It proceeds on the assumption that the Bible is divine - an assumption which the author does not accept without the conviction of its demonstrability from a variety of sources. Looking at the Bible as divine, the author is concerned to know and exhibit the Bible doctrine of providence only, believing that outside the Bible channel, we can gather no reliable notions of providence whatever but lose ourselves in the mist of speculation and uncertainty. Inside the Bible channel we get definite notions - clear light and valuable guidance on all matters affecting human life as at present troublously exhibited on earth, whether as regards individual well-being or national development.
In the illustration of these, the author devotes himself to a work which is entirely out of harmony with the modern intellectual temper, and unsuited to the popular taste, but which, nevertheless, he believes to be a truly useful work that will be appreciated whenever and wherever the Bible comes to be estimated at its true worth, as the embodiment of the ideas and works of God among men.
27th July, 1881.