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The Will of God

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) - The Most Precise Theologian of the Reformation Era

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“Every decree of God is eternal; therefore it cannot depend upon a condition which takes place only in time. (2) God’s decrees depend on his good pleasure (eudokia) (Mt. 11:26; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:11). Therefore they are not suspended upon any condition outside of God. (3) Every decree of God is immutable (Is. 46:10; Rom. 9:11).”

The Scholastic Reformer explains what the will of God entails and how it works.

“The will of God necessarily follows his understanding.” Page 218 v1

“He is the ultimate end and the highest good which he cannot but will and love, not only as to specifications (that he can will and love nothing contrary), but also as to exercise (that he never ceases from willing and loving himself), for he cannot nill his own glory or deny himself.” Page 219 v1

“The will of God is one and most simple.” Page 220 v1

“Hence have arisen various distinctions of the will of God. The first and principal distinction is that of the decretive and preceptive will. The former means that which God wills to do, or permits himself; the latter what he wills that we should do…the former cannot be resisted and is always fulfilled (Rom. 9:19)…the latter is often violated by men (Mt. 23:27)” Page 220 v1

“The will of decree may be that which determines the events of things, but the will of precept that which prescribes man his duty. Therefore God can (without contradiction) will as to precept what he does not will as to decree inasmuch as he wills to prescribe something to man, but does not will to effect it (as he willed Pharaoh to release the people, but yet nilled their actual release.) Page 221 v1

“Although the will eurestias belong also the promises of giving salvation to believers (which are proposed with the Gospel precept), it does not follow that it ought to connote any condition, decree or volition (properly so called) concerning the giving of salvation to all. For such a decree cannot consist with the decree of reprobation, or with the wisdom of God, to which it is repugnant to will anything under an impossible condition (and which God, who alone can give it, has himself decreed to withhold for the creature.)” Page 222 v1

“The will of purpose is the will of event and execution.” Page 223 v1

“Although God may be said to will the salvation of all by the will of sign and to nill it by the beneplacit will, yet there is not contradiction here. Besides the fact that the universal proposition is to be understood not so much of the singulars of the genera as of the genera of the singulars, the former will relates to the mere approbation of God and the command of duty, while the latter is concerned with its futurition and fulfillment…the former denotes what is pleasing to God and what he has determined to enjoin upon man for the obtainment of salvation, but the latter what God has decreed to do.” Page 224 v1

“The fourth distinction of the will is into the secret and revealed. The former is commonly applied to the decretive will, which for the most part lies concealed in God; but the latter to the preceptive will, which is revealed and manifested in the law and the gospel.” Page 225 v1

“Although God is the best, it is not necessary that he should exercise a good will to all for salvation by an antecedent will because the exercise of his goodness depends upon his most wise will (which pities whom it will and whom it wills hardens). Nor if he wills to pour out his goodness on the creature by the blessing of creation or providence, ought he to exercise good will to it unto salvation.” Page 225 v1

“Whether the will may be distinguished into antecedent and consequent? We deny. This distinction is in many ways injurious to God: 1) because it attributes to him contrary wills (viz., that God wills the salvation of all and wills the salvation of only some); that from eternity he seriously willed the salvation of Judas and yet, at the same time and in the same moment, knew that Judas never would believe; and that he did not will to give faith to Judas by which he might infallibly have been converted; yea, would even permit him to remain in his unbelief and to perish…God…is never without the appropriate means to accomplish what he intends.” Page 227 v1

“This distinction cannot have place in God without ascribing to him not only folly and importance (by making him intend seriously and desire with natural affection that which is not performed and cannot be performed through man because he himself does not will it); but also mutability because there can be no place for the consequent will until the antecedent is first rescinded. For how could God at the same time, by the same act of will, will to save all men and to damn the greater part of them?” Page 227 v1

“It is repugnant to the gospel which constantly teaches that God wills to save not all simply, but only the elect and believers in Christ and that the means of salvation are not offered or conferred upon all, but only upon some. In fine, it overthrows the eternal election of God because it leaves it uncertain, founded not upon the good pleasure of God (eudokias) of God, but upon the human will (than which nothing is more uncertain and changeable). It makes it such as that no execution can answer to it (i.e., makes it void and inefficacious.).” Page 227-228 v1

“Can there be attributed to God any conditional will, or universal purpose of pitying the whole human race in sin, of destinating Christ as Mediator to each and all, and of calling them all to saving participation of his benefits? WE DENY.” Page 395 v1

“They [Arminians] lay universal grace or affection of mercy of God towards the whole human race” with an intention to save them. Page 395 v1

“Further, it must not be concealed that the Reformed theologian themselves do not here think alike in all things. There are some who (although agreeing with us in the center of the Pelagian controversy concerning election wholly gratuitous an the particular decree about giving faith to these and not to those [as also concerning efficacious and irresistible calling] and who differ on this subject from the Arminians) by a certain pious design (as it seems) of promoting ecclesiastical peace and from a desire of disputing more strongly with the Remonstrants (although with less happy success) have adopted certain hypothesis of their, extending more widely the periphery of grace and defending the universality of mercy, redemption and calling, while they maintain that God (impelled by his philanthropy [philanthropia] and mercy to the human race) decreed from eternity to send his Son into the world, who having made satisfaction for sin, might acquire by that method remission of sins and eternal salvation for all, if they would embrace him through faith and not refuse to become partaker of so great salvation). Thus they hold that God in a certain manner willed that all men might equally might be saved, provided they would believe, but they add that God influenced no more by His common philanthropy (philanthropia) than by a certain special kind of love and mercy, elected some from the totality of men (upon whom he would bestow faith with this intention – that he might lead them most certainly to salvation; so that no more did he will to save them provided they would believe, but determined to bring them to faith in order that they might be saved). And for this reason they maintain that to decrees are here to be principally considered: the one general (concerning the saving of believers through Christ by which God determined to have mercy upon all and everyone and to give Christ as mediator to all and to call all to salvation); the other special (by which he decreed to call effectually some certain persons and bestow upon them faith in preference to others). As to the former, they agree with Remonstrants; as to the latter they differ from them (cf. Amyrald, “Doctinae de gratia universali…defensio,” in Dissertationes Theologcae Quatuor [1645] and Testard, Erenikon [1633]).” Page 395-396 v1

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