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Gunpowder plot and providence

December 2005 | by Matthew Pickhaver

Dear Sir,

While I enjoyed Paul Mackrell’s article summarising the Gunpowder Plot (Evangelical Times, November) I felt it overlooked one of the most significant consequences of the plot’s failure – that six years later King James authorised a new version of the English Bible.

Produced by the most spiritual academics of their day, the Authorised Version remains the most faithful of translations. Yet it may never have been undertaken had Catesby and company succeeded.

In fact, the dramatic story is shot through with many clear indications of God’s providence at work. One example is closely linked to Jim Eliff’s article in the same issue (‘Do hurricanes just happen?’) which considered how God uses natural phenomena and events to fulfil his -purposes.

Parliament was initially scheduled to open in February 1605. The conspirators were ready for this date but the opening was postponed until November. This encouraged them to spread the word among recusants in an attempt to secure a full-scale revolt following the explosion.

This, of course, was their downfall, because word leaked out and they were discovered. Had Parliament opened in February as originally intended, it is far more likely that they would have succeeded.

The reason for the postponement? London had suffered a particularly cold winter that year! As Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, ‘If you read your history books and have eyes to see, you will see the glory of God in history in exactly the same way as you see it in creation’.