"By Providence, we mean, not an unconcerned sitting of God in heaven, from which He merely observes the things that are done in the world; but that all-active and all-concerned seatedness on His throne above, by which He governs the world which He Himself hath made."
The Secret Providence of God is a "disputatio" or simply a formal apologetic text. Calvin here is addressing an anonymous writer who was posing as a mediator between Calvin and his doctrinal enemies.
Unintentionally, due to the wide publishing of Calvin's works throughout the European continent, he was quickly being considered the foremost voice of the Reformation movement. This notoriety, however, also afforded Calvin many enemies… even within the "Protestant" church.
Most scholars agree the anonymous writer is Calvin's one-time friend, Sebastian Castellio. Though the anonymous writer never reveals his actual identity, and Calvin never names Castellio, it seems Calvin was well-aware Castellio was the author behind these efforts to "mediate" for Calvin. Indeed, the tenor must leave us to conclude that Calvin knew full well who he was dealing with.
Castellio had been "scattering" letters around the Church in order to undermine Calvin. However, none of these letters had been published publicly so Calvin could have only come to knowledge of Castellio's activity either by chancing upon a one of his letters, or having a contact inform him.
This text includes Castellio's anonymous letter to Calvin along with Calvin's reply. Calvin was careful to publish Castellio's words with his own, since he wanted to bring the matter into the public arena, or at least create a straight record of the exchange. The anonymous writer, or as Calvin calls the "Calumniator," presents 14 articles which Calvin's so-called enemies had interpolated from Calvin's writings and were finding fault with. The anonymous writer poses as a mediator in order to reconcile Calvin to them, however he required Calvin's response in order to do so.
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The Secret Providence of God is part of The Fig Classic Series on Reformation Theology. To view more books in our catalog, visit us at fig-books.com.