This is the post #17 of the Calvin's Institutes summary series.
The doctrine of providence must be applied with care. When used correctly, it is the of great help and comfort for Christians, while misused, it will cause much difficulties. Three things:
1) God's providence is over both the future and the past.
2) Sometimes God's providence works through an intermediary, sometimes without an intermediary, and sometimes against every intermediary.
3) The ultimate goal of God's providence is to reveal God's love for the whole human race, but especially for the church.
We are to revere God who rules the whole universe, not to demand that He would explain everything to us, but to trust and submit to His great Wisdom.
We must not blame God for our wickedness, nor become hopeless and self-destructive, nor attribute our evil actions to God's will. We learn God's will by reading the Scripture, and the Scripture teaches us how to live an upright life. Also, we must not refuse to take precautions in life, but listen to wise counsels, for God works through these means and He expects us to use the abilities He granted to us.
This doctrine of providence should rouse thankfulness in prosperity, patience in adversity, and also great freedom from anxiety. Without the doctrine of God's providence, one would be utterly terrified of the evils in life, whether accidents or intentional injuries, by things, people, and evil spirits. With this doctrine, Christians are relieved from the extreme anxiety and are filled with great joy.
In Scripture, "God's repentance" is mentioned in a few places. In other parts of Scripture, it is clearly taught that God does not repent (or change his mind). Scripture uses the human language of "repentance" to teach us what God seems to us not what God truly is in Himself. So, to all our weak senses and understanding, God does at times seem to change His mind. However, His eternal knowledge and plan are not changed one bit. It was His intention from the beginning to achieve certain things, even though He may seem to have change His mind halfway.