We must first understand what deists believe. They believe what Einstein believed. It is a belief in an impersonal God who created the universe and set it in motion and then abandoned it to run on its own. He abandoned all control over it or any influence on the affairs of humanity.
Washington’s use of providence meant the opposite. Providence refers to God’s governing and controlling all things within certain bounds, overruling and directing according to His eternal purpose. This includes man’s free will. He does not interfering with free will but He does direct it
This includes man’s good and sinful actions. Sinful actions are allowed, never caused or approved of by Him, but controlled and directed by Him for
Good. God’s Controlling evil for good is vividly illustrated in the life of Joseph, whose brothers hated him faked his death to their father Jacob and sold him into slavery. Then he was falsely accused of a crime against his master’s wife and thrown into prison.
But God overruled and controlled their sinful actions and while in prison he interpreted some dreams that led him to be placed in charge of Egypt’s food supply during a great famine. He was made ruler under pharaoh and saved many lives including his own family. At every turn God had overruled evil intensions for good. When the famine hit Israel and affected his family his father sent his son’s to Egypt to buy food where they were put at Joseph’s mercy.
His brothers were afraid when they faced Joseph and threw themselves before him and said: “We are your slaves”. Joseph then explained about God’s overruling providence. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid, I will provide for you and your children”.
So George Washington appealing to providence is the opposite of what a deist would do. He was known for beseeching God in prayer, and for his giving thanks, for
God’s help and blessing as a personal God, who was vitally concerned about His creation. On March 11, 1792, President Washington wrote a letter to John Armstrong, from Philadelphia:
“I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them”.
And as President he many times called for days of prayer and thanksgiving for God’s protection and care of America. George Washington was a true Christian and by the true standard of greatness he was one of the greatest men that America ever produced.