Providence will not dispense with the means


Senior Member
Hi, I am reading Jane Eyre (Chapter 16), and there is a sentence I don’t understand. I noticed that a member had asked a similar question before, but I am still confused.

The context is: There was a fire that almost killed Rochester. The next day Jane talked to the arson suspect, Poole. Poole told Jane to be careful:

“This neighbourhood is as quiet as any I know, and I never heard of the hall being attempted by robbers since it was a house; though there are hundreds of pounds’ worth of plate in the plate-closet, as is well known. And you see, for such a large house, there are very few servants, because master has never lived here much; and when he does come, being a bachelor, he needs little waiting on: but I always think it best to err on the safe side; a door is soon fastened, and it is as well to have a drawn bolt between one and any mischief that may be about. A deal of people, Miss, are for trusting all to Providence; but I say Providence will not dispense with the means, though He often blesses them when they are used discreetly."

What does the bold line mean? I looked up the word -“dispense with” means “get rid of.” God won’t get rid of the means??? 😭 Can anyone please explain it to me?
  • From the context, it seems to be similar to the well-known saying that God helps those who help themselves.

    God's Providence will not provide (dispense) the means, but he often blesses them when they are used discretely.

    Edit: I can only suppose that "dispense with" had a different meaning at that time. Otherwise, the sentence doesn't seem to make sense. There is little online to throw any light on it, but I did find a now rather obscure reference to "Election does not dispense with the means of salvation".
    A Pastor's Sketches, Or Conversations with Anxious Inquirers Respecting the Way of Salvation

    Perhaps we can interpret that as "Being chosen does not make the means of salvation unnecessary". Likewise, Providence will not make the means (of protecting the house against burglars) unnecessary.
    Last edited: