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Divine Providences


DIVINE PROVIDENCES. In early colonial New England events that came to pass through the agency of natural causes and yet appeared to be specifically ordained by the will of God were construed as divine providences. Theologians believed that the age of miracles had passed, but that God still achieved his desired ends, not by reversing or suspending the laws of nature, but rather by guiding the laws according to their proper natures. As the Rev. James Fitch expressed it, God in working them does not refuse to attend to the order of things, but voluntarily submits himself to it. Thus the doctrine permitted perfect freedom for scientific inquiry, but at the same time preserved a basically religious and teleological concept of nature. Storms, earthquakes, sudden deaths from heart failure, comets, eclipses, or any natural phenomena, if they could be improved to point a theological or ethical moral, were to be regarded as divine providences.


Hall, David D. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England. New York: Knopf, 1989.

PerryMiller/a. r.

See alsoMysticism ; Naturalism ; "New England Way" ; Puritans and Puritanism ; Religion and Religious Affiliation ; Religious Thought and Writings .

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