Thomas Boston, Works, Volume 1, “Of the Providence of God”:
God does not make man as the carpenter doth the ship, which afterwards sails without him ; but he rules
and guides him, sitting at the helm, to direct and order all his motions : so that whatever men do, they do nothing without him : not only in their good actions, where he gives grace, and excites it, working in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure : but also in their evil actions, wherein they are under the hand of Providence, but in a very different manner.
For understanding this point, how the providence of God reacheth to and is concerned in sinful actions, we are to consider, that God neither puts evil into the hearts of men, nor stirs them up to it : for, says the apostle. Jam. i. 13. ‘ God cannot be tempted with evil ; neither tempteth he any man.’ And therefore he is not the author of sin. But,
1. God permits sin, when he does not hinder it, which he is not obliged to do. Not that it falls out so as he cannot hinder it, for he is omnipotent, and can do all things ; nor yet as if he cared not what fell out in the world ; but he does wisely, for his holy ends, efficaciously will not to hinder it : Hence we read, Acts xiv. 16. that ‘ God in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.’ He does not permit sin, for that he will not violate or force the creature’s free will ; for God’s providence offers no violence to the will of the creature ; and if so, he should never hinder sin at all, for the same reason. But certainly he has holy ends in the permission of sin : for thereby his justice, mercy, wisdom, and love, in sending his Son to save sinners, do conspicuously appear, which otherwise would have been under an eternal cloud, hid from the view of men and angels.