For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q13

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q12-13) is The Covenant of Works. (see Harmony Index)

While listening to a local Christian radio station, I learned that a debate was scheduled to take place at a particular church that does not hold to a theologically Reformed viewpoint. The topic was Calvinism verses Arminianism. I could not help but wonder what the quality of that debate would be, and which “experts” would take each side. It is interesting that the debate over the issue of free will and sovereign grace continues, and that a fellowship within the Arminian camp is hosting such an event.
This week’s catechism question touches on one of the areas of ongoing debate within the broader church, the issue of freewill and the effects of the fall of Adam. Again we approach our consideration prayerfully, wanting to come, by the Holy Spirit’s aid, to a better understanding of the truth, so that we may be more fully sanctified unto our Lord. This desire is in line with our Lord’s priestly prayer: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
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WSC Q13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God[a].
[a] Gen. 3:6-8, 13; II Cor. 11:3
Question #13 asks if our first parents remained as they were created, and answers that, left to the freedom of their own wills, our first parents sinned against God and fell from their original condition.
Comments and considerations:
We begin with a quote from G.I. Williamson’s excellent Volume I Study in the Shorter Catechism: “God created man in the estate of innocence. He was God’s true image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. But he was not yet confirmed in that blessed condition. God set before our first parents two alternatives. On the one hand, there was the path of perfect obedience. And this path could lead only to life everlasting. ‘The man that doeth them [God’s commandments] shall live in them,’ says Paul (Gal. 3:12). But on the other hand, there was the path of disobedience. And this path could lead only to death. ‘For in the day that thou eatest thereof,’ said God to Adam, speaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ‘thou shalt surely die’ (Gen. 2:17). It is this that we are to think of when we read, in the Catechism, that our first parents were ‘left to the freedom of their own will.’ This means that our first parents had two important things. 1) First they had liberty to follow the path of obedience unto life or the path of disobedience unto death. … 2) Secondly, they had the ability to choose either one of these two alternatives. In other words, they had the power within themselves (because God had created them with the power) to do good, or evil. As we shall see, in our further studies in the Catechism, it is this power or ability to do either good or evil that was entirely lost in the fall.”
Williamson goes on to explain that “after the first sin, Adam and all other people descending from him remainat libertyto do either good or evil,” but man’s abilityto do good, his free will, is now subject to his fallen condition, for Scripture makes it clear throughout that “there is none that doeth good, no not one” (Rom. 3:12). We will soon see the catechism’s definition of sin, “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Apart from this fine definition, sin may be termed in different ways as it manifests itself in the human condition. For example, Adam and Eve’s transgression could be seen as defiance in determining for themselves the definition of right and wrong; they fell prey to faulty reasoning, as they were tempted. Instead of relying on the wisdom and authority of their loving God, they opted to take a self-assertive, independent path, with its unintended and ruinous consequences.
As we will see, the catechism’s definition of sin is straightforward (Q14). Definitions like the one above can be somewhat rational in explaining what happened. Whether we try to rationalize, study to understand why, or simply state the fact as it is, our first parents did fall “from the [wondrous] estate wherein they were created by sinning against God.” The next several questions deal with the fallout of this event—the entrance and destructive effects of sin. But the story doesn’t end there. Question 20 finally pierces the darkness by asking, “Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?” The short answer is, “No, he did not!” Our hearts are filled with unspeakable joy and thanksgiving, for truly “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5b).
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    God put man in a place of privilege. Made in the image of God, only man could worship and communicate with God; only man could reason, remember, plan, and decide. But with such a high privilege there also came responsibility. Read Deut. 10:12-13. What responsibility has God called his creation to perform?
2.    When Satan tempted our first parents, what tactic did he use? (Gen. 3:1-6) How did Jesus not succumb to the same tactic? See Matt. 4:4.
3.    When we sin, we may often sin against other persons. But ultimately, against whom are we really sinning? See Ps. 51:3-4.
4.    The first sin of Adam and Eve is called the Fall. Their actions had far reaching effects on all mankind. According to Psalm 14:1-4, how far did their actions reach in the effect of sin on our lives?
5.    From Shorter Catechism Question 10, we learned that God created man in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. What are the effects of the Fall on man’s condition relating to these things? Consider I Cor. 2:14; Is. 64:6; Rom. 1:21-23, 25.
6.    When created, man was given the high privilege and responsibility of ruling over the creatures, taking care of creation, and using his abilities wisely in service to God. What effect did the Fall have upon man and his calling? Read James 4:1-4.

Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 13; WLC Q# 21, and WCF VI.I 
WSC Q13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A.  Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God[a].
[a] Gen. 3:6-8, 13; II Cor. 11:3
WLC Q21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A.  Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God, in eating the forbidden fruit, and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created[a].
[a] Gen. 3:6-8, 13; Ecc. 7:29; II Cor. 11:3
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER. VI.
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the
Punishment thereof.
I.    Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit[a].  This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory[b].
[a] Gen. 3:13; II Cor. 11:3; Gen. 3:1-14
[b] Romans 5:19, 20, 21
Questions for further study:
We might perceive the Fall and the entrance of sin upon creation as a great tragedy, and indeed the deadly effects of the first transgression are undeniable and quite evident for all to behold. Yet our fathers present another side to the equation recorded is the Confession of Faith.  What might that be? (1)


1. Our God’s wise and holy counsel in the purposing of all to his glory.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q12


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q12-13) is The Covenant of Works. (see Harmony Index)
This study introduces another precious theme central to our knowing and doing the Christian life; that theme is the covenant. Once again, we enter into our study with the prayer that we would draw near to our God, with hearts grateful for his many blessings.
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WSC Q12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience[a]; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death[b].
[a] Compare Gen. 2:16, 17 with Rom. 5:12-14; Rom. 10:5; and Luke 10:25-28 with the covenants made with Noah and Abraham.
[b] Gen. 2:16-17; Jas. 2:10

Question #12 asks what did God’s providence specifically do for man whom he created. It answers that God made a covenant with man to give him life, if he perfectly obeyed, and instructing him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die.
Comments and considerations:
If you’re new to the faith, this may be the first time you have considered these questions and answers; but for many, this ground has been plowed several times before. Yet I dare say that God’s Word always bears fresh fruit no matter how many times its truths are opened for display, for it is alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12). I mention this because it struck me in the reading of this question and answer that it assumes the Creator-creature distinction - a divide between an infinite, a totally independent and self-sufficient God, and his finite creation. That gap exists in fact, but the infinite God initiated a formal agreement to close that yawing chasm. He promised to bind himself to his dependent creatures, and to provide for their every need. One of the definitions of providence is “the act of providing,” and God did not leave his creation to fend for itself; as it is rightly states in this catechism, he personally “entered into a covenant of life with [man],” binding himself by that contract and all that it entails. 
The covenants are of singular importance for understanding the work of redemption. Much space has been devoted to the study of the covenants. But for now, let us ponder the Creator-creature distinction, knowing that whether we are new or old in our understanding, we never cease to be utterly dependent upon our sovereign God and need to place our faith in his providential care. So that we might more fully appreciate that distinction, let us consider the word “estate.”
“Estate” basically means “an established standing or status.” Ponder for a moment the crown of creation when God formed man and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen 3:7). He entered into a covenant of life in a standing unequaled upon the stage of sovereign providence. 
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained,
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?
For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen— even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:3-9)
Truly, what is man, O LORD, that you are mindful of him? What is man that you would redeem him at such a costly price when he wanders off theestate of your loving kindness? What is man that you would pursue him with an infinite love when he falls from his standing of honor and grace in the wondrous covenant of life?
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    A covenant is an agreement between two persons that promises certain benefits if certain conditions are met. When people make a covenant, it has to be exactly what both of them want before they agree upon it, as each person promises to do certain things for the other. If one of them fails to keep their part of the covenant, the other person is freed from keeping it. When God makes a covenant with people, it is not between two equals, however. God, being much greater than man whom he created and owns, promises covenant blessings, and requires that man keep his commandments. Read Ps. 103:17-19. What information is stated here?
2.    When God placed Adam in the Garden, he told him that he could use anything that was there as he liked, except for one thing. What one thing was forbidden? Read Gen. 2:8-17.
3.    God is independent, which means he can do whatever he pleases and needs nothing apart from himself. Upon whom does man, along with the rest of creation, depend for his daily needs? Ps. 104:27-30.
4.    God created man physically alive, but he also gave man spiritual life in order that he might know and have fellowship (communicate) with God (Gen. 2:7). What did God say would happen to the life God gave Adam if he did not obey him perfectly? See Rom. 6:23 and Eph. 2:1.
5.    Because of Adam’s sin, what is now needed, and what must man do? Read John 17: 3 and John 11:25-26.
Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 12; WLC Q# 20, and WCF VII.I-II
WSC Q12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A.  When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience[a]; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death[b].
 [a] Compare Gen. 2:16, 17 with Rom.5:12-14; Rom. 10:5; Luke 10:25-28, and with the covenants made with Noah and Abraham.
[b] Gen. 2:16-17; Jas. 2:10

WLC Q20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A.  The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created was, the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth[a]; putting the creatures under his dominion[b], and ordaining marriage for his help[c]; affording him communion with himself[d]; instituting the Sabbath[e]; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience[f], of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death[g].
[a] Gen. 2:8, 15-16
[b] Gen. 1:28
[c] Gen. 2:18
[d] Gen. 1:27, 28
[e] Gen. 2:3
[f] Compare Gen. 2:16,17 with Rom. 5:12-14; 10:5; Luke 10:25-28, and with the covenants made with Noah and Abraham.
[g] Gen.2:17

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER. VII.
Of God's Covenant with Man.
I.    The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant[a].
[a] Isa. 40:13-17; Job 9:32-33; Ps. 113:5-6; Job 22:2-3; Job 35:7-8; Luke 17:10; Acts 17:24-25

II.  The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works[a], wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity[b], upon condition of perfect and personal obedience[c].
[a] Gen. 2:16-17; Hos. 6:7; Gal. 3:12
[b] Gen. 3:22; Rom. 10:5; 5:12-14, 5:15-20; Gal. 3:10; 1Corth. 15:22, 47
[c] Compare Gen. 2:16, 17 with Rom. 5:12-14; Rom. 10:5; Luke 10: 25-28; and with the covenants made with Noah Abraham.
Questions for further study:

If one definitions of providence is “the act of providing,” what are the things God provided for man at creation described in the Larger Catechism?  Are these not covenant blessings?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q11


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q9-11) is Creation and Providence. (see Harmony Index)
This discussion is formatted a little differently from previous ones. As a reminder, we are using Training Hearts, Teaching Mindsby Starr Meade as the source material for the study questions. With Question #11, Starr Meade uses the narrative of Esther. Rather than attempt to excise questions from her text, a major portion of what Starr Meade wrote is presented in the “Question” section below for our meditation. 
Once again, we pray that the Lord may grant his blessing on our study to his glory and our mutual growth in grace and truth.
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WSC Q11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy[a], wise[b], and powerful preserving[c] and governing all his creatures, and all their actions[d].
 [a] Ps. 145:17
 [b] Ps. 104:24
 [c] Heb. 1:3
 [d] Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29; Job, chapters 38-41
Question #11 asks the question, what are the works of God’s providence, and answers with the fullness of his holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action.
Comments and considerations:
“There is no such thing as luck in the Christian life.” 
My stepfather, a very devout Christian, told me that many years ago, in response to my request as a teenager for “good luck” wishes as I was about to embark upon a particular venture. I was taken aback, but I needed to realized that my fate was in the hands of a sovereign God, not a matter of luck. Of course it wasn’t the last time I mentioned luck, or the last time he corrected me. He believed that fact and lived it, and taught me to do likewise.
I have had years to consider that statement, however, and if I had the opportunity to speak to my beloved stepfather again, I think I might humbly challenge his position. I think I might say, “No Dad, I disagree; there is no such thing as luck, period.” You see, my father wasn’t a committed Calvinist, although I think he might have become one, given a little more time on earth. So his initial statement seemed to limit the sovereignty of God to the followers of Christ, leaving the unbelieving world to their own free decisions and currents of history. The Bible doesn’t teach that; and as I said, my father was beginning to understand the Scriptural perspective that I, and a few others in my family came to believe in time - the perspective clearly defined in this catechism question and answer.
This doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture, yet difficult for the human heart to grasp. As Is. 55:8-9, states, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’” says the LORD.“‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”  On this matter, the Scriptures above are worth mediating upon, especially Job 38-41.
The book of Job is considered one of the earliest narratives of Scripture; as such, it establishes an understanding of God’s sovereign rule which is thoroughly consistent with the explicit declaration of the first four words of the Bible: “In the beginning, God…”
Here’s what Webster’s 1828 Dictionary had to say regarding the matter of providence:
It is “the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself.”
What a comfort it is to know that our heavenly Father works all things according to the counsel of his will; that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory! (See Eph. 1:11-12.)
Questions (and more comments), taken almost verbatim from Starr Meade:
God plans everything that happens in advance. Then He causes everything to happen just as He planned. We call this providence. God is holy. Every plan He forms, as well as the way in which He carries it out, is completely holy. God is perfectly wise. He never makes a mistake in what He plans or does, but always chooses the very best. God is powerful. Since all power belongs to Him, nothing can keep Him from doing exactly as He has planned.
All of history tells of God’s providence. Every story in every history book tells of God, even when it never mentions His name. He is the One who caused every event in history to work out just the way it did. What do Proverbs 16:9, 33 and Proverbs 21:say about large and small things decided by God?
Esther is a history book in the Bible that never mentions God’s name. All through the book of Esther, we clearly see God’s providence recorded:
What was the name of the King, and what land did he rule?  Esther 1: 1
What nationality was Esther?  Esther 2:5-7
Who caused the King to care more for Esther?  Esther 2: 17-18
Below, is a short four-part summary of the story of Esther, one of many examples of God’s acts of providence - His holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of every creature and every action of creation.
1) The book of Esther gets its name from Queen Esther. It tells the story of a wicked plot to kill all the Jews. Remember that God had promised to send the Messiah to save His people from sin. God had said that the Messiah would be one of Abraham’s descendants, or a Jew. If all the Jews were killed, God’s Messiah could not come from the Jewish nation and God could not keep His promise. The book of Esther tells how God kept this wicked plot from being carried out, protected His people, and punished His enemies. Esther tells the story of God’s providence. The story begins when the king of Persia, the ruling power of that time, needed a new queen.
As the account unfolds, we meet a cousin of Esther named Mordecai. One day two men were plotting to kill the king. Read Esther 2:21-23 to find out what happened. How did it happen that Mordecai overheard the plot so he could warn the king through Esther? Pay attention to where the king recorded what Mordecai had done—it will be important later!
2) Haman was a very important man, second only to the king. Nonetheless, Mordecai would never bow when Haman walked by. This made Haman so angry that he hated Mordecai and wanted him killed. Not only that—when Haman learned that Mordecai was a Jew, he wanted all the Jews killed as well. Haman paid the king to issue an order saying that, on a certain day throughout the whole kingdom, people were to kill all the Jews. When the Jews learned about the king’s order, they mourned and wept. Esther had not heard about the king’s order. She sent a message to Mordecai asking what was wrong. He sent a message back, telling about the king’s order and begging her to go ask the king not to allow the Jews to be killed. Read Esther 4:11 to learn how Esther answered.
3) Mordecai understood the providence of God. He knew that God would preserve the Jews so that He could accomplish His plan to send a Jewish Messiah. He also understood that nothing happens by accident. It was not an accident that Esther, a Jewish woman, was queen at just this dangerous moment in time. Read Esther in 4:13-14 and 15-16, to learn what Mordecai said to her and Esther’s decision.
Read Esther 5:1-3 to see what happened when Esther went to see the king, without having been called. Why did the king welcome Esther? Remember Prov. 21:1, that God turns a king’s heart wherever He chooses.
Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet. When they came, she invited them to another banquet. It was at that second banquet that she would ask the king to save her people.
4) Esther’s invitations thrilled Haman! Only he and the king were invited. Haman bragged about it to everyone. “There’s only one thing that ruins it all for me,” Haman complained, “and that is that Jew, Mordecai! Every time I see him standing when he should be bowing to me, I get so angry!” “Don’t wait until all the Jews are killed to be rid of Mordecai,” Haman’s wife told him. “Build a gallows right now and ask the king, first thing in the morning, if you can hang Mordecai on it.” Haman loved this idea. He had the gallows built and eagerly waited for morning. God not only saved Mordecai from hanging. He also had him honored and humbled His enemy, Haman. Read Esther 6:1-12.
Read Esther 7 to learn almost-the-end of this story. The very end of the story is this. The king could not change his order about killing the Jews, but he made a new order allowing the Jews to defend themselves. God caused people throughout Persia to fear the Jews. On the day that the Jews would have been killed, they killed their enemies instead. Mordecai was honored and given Haman’s high position.
The book of Esther gives us just one small example of God’s providence. Ever since the world began, God has been faithfully at work to cause everything that happens to bring good to His people and glory to Himself.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q# 11; WLC Q#’s 18 & 19, and WCF V.I-VII 
WSC Q11. What are God's works of providence?
A.  God's works of providence are, his most holy[a], wise[b], and powerful preserving[c] and governing all his creatures, and all their actions[d].
[a] Ps. 145:17
[b] Ps. 104:24
[c] Heb. 1:3
[d] Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29; Job, chapters 38-41
WLC Q18. What are God's works of providence?
A.  God's works of providence are his most holy[a], wise[b], and powerful preserving[c] and governing all his creatures[d]; ordering them, and all their actions[e], to his own glory[f].
[a] Ps. 145:17
[b] Ps. 104:24; Isa. 28:29
[c] Heb. 1:3
[d] Ps. 103:19; Job, chapters 38-41
[e] Matt. 10:29-31; Gen. 45:7; Ps. 135:6
[f] Rom. 11:36; Isa. 63:14
WLC Q19. What is God's providence toward the angels?
A.  God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation[a], limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory[b]; and established the rest in holiness and happiness[c]; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice[d] .
[a] Jude 6;  II Pet. 2:4
[b] Job 1:12;  Matt. 8:31; Luke 10:17
[c] I Tim. 5:21; Mark 8:38; Heb. 12:22
[d] Ps. 104:4; Heb. 1:14
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
CHAPTER V.
Of Providence.
I.    God, the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least [a], by his most wise and holy providence[b], according to his infallible foreknowledge [c], and the free and immutable counsel of his own will[d], to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy[e].
[a] Neh. 9:6; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 135:6; Matt. 10:29-31; Acts 17:25-28; Matt. 6:26-32; Job, chapters 38-41
[b] Prov. 15:3; II Chron. 16:9; Ps. 104:24; Ps. 145:17
[c] Acts 15:18
[d] Eph. 1:11; Ps. 33:10-11
[e] Eph. 3:10; Rom. 9:17; Ps. 145
II.  Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly[f]; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily[g], freely, or contingently[h].
[f] Acts 2:23
[g] Gen. 8:22; Jer. 31:55
[h] Ex. 21:13;  Gen. 21:13; Isa. 10:6,7;  I Kings 22:28-34
III.God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means[i], yet is free to work without [j], above [k], and against them, at His pleasure[l].
[i] Acts 27:24, 31, 44; Isa. 55:10-11
[j] Hos. 1:7
[k] Rom. 4:19-21
[l] II Kings 6:6; Dan. 3:27
IV.The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall[m], and all other sins of angels and men[n]; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding[o], and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends[p]; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin[q].
[m] This statement is sustained by the doctrines of God’s decrees and providence.  See citations under Chapter III and ChapterV, Sections 1, 2, 3.
[n] Rom. 11:32, 33; II Sam. 24:1; Acts 4:27-28.  See citations under Chapter III and Chapter V, Sections 1, 2, 3.
[o] II Kings 19:28; Isa. 10:5, 6, 7, 12, 15
[p] Gen. 50:20
[q] James 1:13-14, 17; I John 2:16; Ps. 50:21

V.  The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled[r]; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends[s].
[r] II Chron. 32:25, 26, 31; Deut. 8:2-3, 5
[s] II Cor. 12:7-9; Ps. 73; Ps. 77:1-12; Mark 14:66-72; John 21:15-17
VI.As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden[t]; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts[u]; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had[v]; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruptions make occasions of sin[w]; and withal, giveth them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan[x]; whereby it cometh to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others[y].
[t] Rom. 1:24, 26, 28; Rom. 11:7-8; II Thes. 2:11,12
[u] Deut. 29:4; Mark 4:11, 12
[v] Matt. 13:12; Matt. 25:29
[w] II Kings 8:12-13
[x] Ps. 81:11,12;  II Thess. 2:10-12
[y] Ex. 8:15, 32; II Cor. 2:15, 16; Isa. 8:14; I Pet. 2:7-8; Ex. 7:3; Isa. 6:9, 10; Acts 28:26, 27
VII.      As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof[z].
[z] Amos 9:8, 9; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:22
Questions for further study:
Again, we see how the instruction moves forward through the Shorter Catechism, progressing to deeper understandings in the Larger Catechism and Confession of Faith. In the Confession V.II we see that in the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.  In other words, in all things that occur, God is the primary cause directing the actions of his creatures as a secondary cause.  What is the doctrine by which this is generally defined?  (1)  
In V.V why does God often leave his own to their struggles for a season?  Likewise in V.VI, why does He withhold grace from the ungodly, withdraw gifts or give them up to their corruptions? Conversely, according to V.II, how does God care for his own? 
(1) Doctrine of Concurrence