We are often careless Christians when it comes to attributing the reasons behind certain acts of God’s providential workings. A. A. Hodge offers this explanation:
There are two extreme tendencies to which different persons are inclined when regarding the course of events in the world, each of which is evidently false when exclusively indulged, but both of which together, when combined, lead to the true attitude which every Christian should cultivate: the view of the mere naturalist, in which the supernatural is altogether merged in the natural, and, conversely, the view of the pantheist, in which the natural is altogether merged in the supernatural. And these apparently opposite extremes virtually come to the same thing, because they both equally exclude a personal God and human freedom, and maintain a naturalistic fatalism. But both present a side of the one truth. The natural is the fixed and regulated method which the personal heavenly Father has laid down for his own guidance; the supernatural does neither exclude nor supersede the natural, but it is the self-revelation of the heavenly Father, who works through natural law, as the personal Agent who, having ordained law, uses it to accomplish his spiritual purposes. The universe has a personal basis. The laws of nature are the methods self-ordained of a personal Agent. The true scientists are the sons of God, who were not created for the laws of nature, but the laws of nature for them.
After the Charleston earthquakethe Christian preachers endeavored to enforce upon their hearers the scriptural lessons of the event viewed as a divine dispensation. The visiting scientists are represented as
having scoffed contemptuously, maintaining that the preachers should have confined themselves to an exposition of the laws of nature and drawn comfort from the proven exceptional character of such experiences. These men of mere science may have been able and useful in their narrow specialty, but they were certainly very absurd philosophers. They were perfectly right in confining their own investigations to the scientific aspects of the phenomena, and the preachers had an equal authority in calling the attention of the Christian people to the aspect which the light of the inspired Scriptures, when thrown upon the providential facts, presented. We say, advisedly, that the preachers’ authority in the premises is limited to the application of the light of the inspired Scriptures to the current facts. They have no right to assume the role of prophets, as too many are at times inclined to do; and no man not the subject of plenary inspiration should dare to explain the ultimate divine purpose in any particular event or its relation to human guilt. The Master himself said, “Suppose ye that those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). (“The Scripture Doctrine of Divine Providence”)
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