Chapter 3 - Of the Life of GodThe Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)
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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”
Hitherto we have spoken of the perfections of God’s nature. Now to followeth the life of God, by which the Divine Nature is in perpetual action, living, and moving in itself. Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsteth for God, even for the living God, when shall I come and appear before the presence of God?” Heb. 3:12, “See there be not at any time in any of you evil hearts to depart from the living God.”
The Divine Nature, is especially in perpetual operation by three attributes, the which do manifest the operation of God towards His creatures. These are His Wisdom, Will and Omnipotence.
The Wisdom or knowledge of God, is that by the which God doth, not by certain notions abstracted from the things themselves, but by His own essence, nor successively and by discourse of reason, but by one eternal and immutable act of understanding, distinctly and perfectly know Himself, and all other things, though infinite, whether they have been or not. Matt. 11:27, “No man knoweth the Son but the Father, nor the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” Heb. 4:13, “There is nothing created, which is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and open to His eyes, with whom we have to do.” Psalm, 147:5, “His wisdom is infinite.”
God’s wisdom hath these parts: His foreknowledge, and His counsel.
The foreknowledge of God, is that by which He most assuredly forseeth all things that are to come. Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Rom. 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This is not properly spoken of God, but by reason of men to whom things are past or to come.
The counsel of God, is that by the which He doth most rightly perceive the best reason of all things that are done. Prov. 8:14, “I have counsel and wisdom, I am understanding, and I have strength.”
The will of God, is that by the which He both most freely, and justly with one act, willeth all things. Rom. 9:18, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Eph. 1:5, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” James 4:15, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
God willeth that which is good by approving it; that which is evil, in as disapproving it is evil, by disallowing and forsaking it. And yet he voluntarily doth permit evil; because it is good that there should be evil. Acts 14:16, “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Psalm 81:12, “So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.”
The will of God, by reason of divers objects, hath divers Names; and is either called Love and Hatred, or Grace and Justice.
The Love of God is that, by the which God approveth first Himself, and then all His creatures as they are good, without their desert, and in them doth take delight. 1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Rom. 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Hatred of God is that by the which he disliketh and detesteth His creature offending, for his fault. 1 Cor. 10:5, “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Psalm 5:5, “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” Psalm 45:7, “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
The Grace of God, is that by which He freely declareth His favor to His creatures. Rom. 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”
The Grace of God is either His Goodness or His Mercy.
The Goodness of God, is that by which He being in Himself absolutely good, doth freely exercise His liberty upon His creatures. Matt. 19:17, “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matt. 5:45, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
God’s mercy, is that by which He freely assisteth all His creatures in their miseries. Isa. 30:18, “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.” Lam. 3:22, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” Ex. 33:19, “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”
God’s justice is that by which He in all things willeth that which is just. Psalm 11:7, “For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.” Psalm 5:4, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”
God’s justice is in word and deed.
Justice in word, is that truth by which He constantly, and indeed willeth that which He hath said: Rom. 3:4, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Matt. 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Hence it is , that there is a certain justice of God in keeping His promise. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 2 Tim. 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Justice in deed, is that by which He either disposeth or rewardeth.
God’s disposing justice, is that by which He, as a most free Lord, ordereth rightly all things in his actions. Psalm 145:17, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”
God’s rewarding justice, is that by which He rendereth to His creature according to his work. 2 Thess. 1:6, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” 1 Peter 1:17, “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Jer. 51:56, “Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompenses shall surely requite.”
The Justice of God is either His Gentleness or Anger.
God’s Gentleness, is that by which He freely rewardeth the righteousness of His creature. 2 Thess. 1:5, “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” Matt. 10:41-42, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
God’s Anger, is that by which He willeth the punishment of the creature offending. Rom. 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Thus much concerning the will of God; Now followeth His Omnipotence.
God’s Omnipotence, is that by which He is most able to perform every work. Matt. 19:26, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
Some things notwithstanding are here to be expected. First, those things whose action argueth an impotency, as to lie, to deny his word. Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” 2 Tim. 2:13, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” Secondly, such things as are contrary to the nature of God, as to destroy Himself, and not to beget His Son from eternity. Thirdly, such things as imply contradiction. For God cannot make a truth false, or that which is, when it is not, to be.
God’s power may be distinguished into an absolute and actual power.
God’s absolute power is that by which He can do more than He either doth or will do. Matt. 3:9, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Phil. 3:21, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
God’s actual power, is that by which He causeth all things to be, which He freely willeth. Psalm 135:6, “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”