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Calvin and Calvinism » God’s Will for the Salvation of All Men

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Luke 19:42

Oh if thou had known, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, &c.

Chap. 6.

The Will of God touching man’s salvation, as it is generally revealed and propounded in the Gospel.

Hitherto of Christ’s carriage and deportment towards Jerusalem; It follows now to speak of his words and speeches to her, and therein first of his passionate and pathetical wish or complaint: wherein first of all, the manner of speech offers itself to our consideration, because the original text, is not rendered alike by all. In the translation of it, some looking more at the scope and intention of Christ, who sets himself purposely to bewail the condition of Jerusalem, than at the bare and naked translation of the words; do render them in the nature of a wish or desire, “oh that thou had known,” &c. and so make the sense full and complete, without the supply or addition of anything else unto it; and the particle (If) is sometimes rendered in that sense, as the learned observe1: and many interpreters go this way.2 Others looking more punctually at the grammatical construction of the words in the original, render the words in a conditional phrase, by way of supposition, “If thou had known,” &c.,3 and so seem to make it defective speech, or a broken and imperfect sentence, which must be thus supplied and made up: “If thou had known the worth and excellency of those good things which are offered unto thee by the coming of a Savior, though would not value them at so low a rate”: Or, “If thou had known the misery and calamity thou lies open unto, thou would not sing and rejoice as now thou does, but weep and shed tears as thou see me do.” And this also is well backed with the authority of the learned,4 and they are induced to incline to this opinion, because of the tears of Christ mentioned in the verse before.

Now for a man that speaks out of depth of sorrow, and fulness of grief, it is nothing strange for him to break off his speech, and leave it imperfect; for as it is the nature of joy to enlarge the heart, and dilate the spirits, and so set open as it were a wide door for the thoughts of the heart to go out and vent themselves; so it is the nature of sorrow to contract and straighten, to narrow and draw together the spirits, and as it were to shut the door of the soul, so that like as it is with a vessel, though it be full of liquor, yet if the mouth of it be stopped, none will flow out; even so it was here with Christ: having begun to speak, he was so overwhelmed with grief, and so deeply affected with the estate and condition of Jerusalem, that he could not speak out, but was even constrained to weep out the rest of the sentence, leaving the full sense and meaning to be gathered and supplied out of his tears: as is used in such passionate and pathetical speeches. The matter is not much in regard of the sense and meaning, whether the words be read in a manner of a wish, “O that thou had known,” &c. or whether they be translated by way of supposition, in a conditional phrase, “If thou had known,” &c. And happily he shall not do amiss that joins them both together, and reads the words thus, “O if thou had known,”5 and so they afford this observation.

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Touching sin, God has no positive will, but only in regard of former sins a privation of his grace. To be short: God does harden, as Saint Augustine says: Non malum obtrudendo, sed gratiam non conscendo, not by causing us to commit sin, but by not granting unto us his grace. I, but how comes it to pass, that we as well as others, are not partakers of God’s grace? why have we not also his good Spirit to direct and guide us? Saint Augustine makes it plain again, Non ideo non habet homo Deus non dat, sed quia homo non acipit: men become hardened, and want the spirit of grace, why? Not because God does not offer it unto them, but because they receive it not, when it is offered. For example: One of us being sick and like to die, the physician knowing our case, he takes with him some preservative to comfort us, and comes to the door and knocks; if we will not or be not able to let him in, we perish and dye, and the cause is not in the physician, but in ourselves that let him not in, amartema nosema. Sin is a disease, whereof we are all sick, for we have all sinned: Romans 6:12. verse. Christ is the Physician of our souls: Venit de cœlo magnus medicus, quia per totum ubique iacebit agrotus. Christ the great Physician came down from heaven, because all mankind was generally infected. He comes to the door of our hearts ad knocks, Reve. 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” He brings with him arton tes zoes, the bread of life [John 6:35.], his eternal word to comfort us, if we let him in, if we open the door of our hearts, he will come in and sup with us, as he did with Mary [Luke 10.], and forgive us all our sins; but if we will not, or through long contagion of our sin be not able to let Christ in, we die in our sins and the case is evident, not because Christ does not offer grace, and comfort unto us, but because we receive it not, when it is offered, Merito perit agrotus qui non medicum vocat, sed ultre venientem respuit, worthily does that sick patient perish, who will neither send for the physician himself, nor accept of his help when it is offered.

More plainly thus, in the 14. Of Saint Matthew. Our Saviour walking on the sea, he bid Saint Peter come unto him, who walking on the water, seeing storm and tempest arise, his heart fainted, and he began to sink: upon his cry unto our Saviour, he presently stretched forth his hand, took him into the ship, and saved him. This world (we know by daily experience) it is a sea of trouble and misery: our Saviour (as he said to Saint Peter) so most lovingly he wills everyone of us to come unto him: as we walk, storms and tempests do arise, through frailty of our flesh, and the weakness of our faith, we begin to sink, our Saviour he stretches forth his hand, he gives us organon organōm his Word and Sacraments, the good motions of his Spirit, to save us from sinking, and to keep us in the ship of his Church: if we refuse these means, we perish, we sink in our sins, why? not because Christ does not most kindly put forth his hand unto us, but because in want and distress we lay not hold upon him, “This is condemnation, that light is come into the world, men refuse it, and love darkness more than light,” [John 3:19.]. Our blessed Saviour with great loving kindness he does invite all men to his great supper, if we make excuses, or willfully refuse to come, he may justly pronounce, “none of those that were bidden shall ever taste of my supper.”

Anthony Maxey, The Goulden Chaine of Mans Salvation (London: Printed by T.E. for Clement Knight, dwelling in Paules Church-yard, at the signe of the holy Lambe, 1607), 72-75 [Pages numbered manually.] [Some spelling modernized; italics original; Greek transliterated; marginal references cited inline; and underlinning mine.]


Thus forgetfulness may hide all earthly things, and, for those who are blessed with a clean heart and deserve to see God, there may come the God of their heart1 that they may draw near to You and not separate themselves. For God, who is near, does not drive back those who draw near to Him;2 He wishes to be for all men a cause of salvation3 and not of death. Indeed, He rejects no one except one who has decided to remove himself from His sight. Ambrose, “The Prayer of Job and David,” in Seven Exegetical Works, trans. Michael P. McHugh (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), 387-388. [Footnote values modified; footnote content original; and underlining mine.] [For more from Ambrose on this, see here.]


1Cf. Matt. 5.8.

2Cf. John 6.37; James 4.8.

3[Compare Aquinas and Davenant’s use of the same expression: Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, 4.55.29 and 31; Davenant, Dissertation on the Death of Christ, 354 and 375.]


God’s preparation and donation of faith.

Leaving the power of Man’s innocency, and universal freedom to believe legally or Evangelically, we fall into the safe way, and say, that wheresoever the Gospel is preached, God gives or is prepared to give faith in Christ. He mocks no man, but is serious in the salvation of every soul, to which the Gospel is sent. Every hearer in the Church is zealously persuaded to repent. The Ministers mind and God’s meet in his holy ordinances, and the Word is earnestly spoken to every ear. God himself goes with his message from seat to seat, and from man to man, with true and hearty desire of his conversion; yet notwithstanding he gives not equal grace to all, as shall appear in our distribution thereof.

John Yates, The Saints Sufferings and Sinners Sorrows (Printed by T. Cotes, for N. Bourne, dwelling at the Royall Exchange, 1631), 196-197.

Credit to Tony for the find.


Ver. 4, 5. “In love,” saith he, “having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus

Christ unto Himself.”

Do you observe how that nothing is done without Christ? Nothing without the Father? The one hath predestinated, the other hath brought us near. And these words he adds by way of heightening the things which have been done, in the same way as he says also elsewhere, “And not only so, but we also rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. v. 11.) For great indeed are the blessings bestowed, yet are they made far greater in being bestowed through Christ; because He sent not any servant, though it was to servants He sent, but the Only-begotten Son Himself.

Ver. 5. “According to the good pleasure,” he continues, “of His will.”

That is to say, because He earnestly willed it. This is, as one might say, His earnest desire.

For the word “good pleasure” every where means the precedent will, for there is also another will. As for example, the first will is that sinners should not perish; the second will is, that, if men become wicked, they shall perish. For surely it is not by necessity that He punishes them, but because He wills it. You may see something of the sort even in the words of Paul, where he says, “I would that all men were even as I myself.” (1 Cor. vii. 7.) And again, “I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children.” (1 Tim. v. 14.) By “good pleasure” then he means the first will, the earnest will, the will accompanied with earnest desire, as in case of us, for I shall not refuse to employ even a somewhat familiar expression, in order to speak with clearness to the simpler sort; for thus we ourselves, to express the intentness of the will, speak of acting according to our resolve. What he means to say then is this, God earnestly aims at, earnestly desires, our salvation. Wherefore then is it that He so loves, whence hath He such affection? It is of His goodness alone. For grace itself is the fruit of goodness. And for this cause, he saith, hath He predestinated us to the adoption of children; this being His will, and the object of His earnest wish, that the glory of His grace may be displayed. “According to the good pleasure of His will,” he proceeds, . . .

Chrysostom, “The Commentary and Homilies of St. Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople on the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle to the Galatians and Ephesians,” tran. Gross Alexander, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 13: 52.