1) (a.) Benevolence is an inclination of the will to do good as far as it is possible and lawful to do so. It is also called the love of God towards his creatures–the strong desire by which he is actuated to promote their happiness and perfection. It is universal in its extent, because it has for its object creatures as such, inasmuch as they are the works of his own hands. For the Creator cannot hate what he himself has made, but is naturally and necessarily led to preserve, to perfect, and to bless his own work. He is called love in the highest sense and without any restriction. “God is love,” 1 John iv. 8; “good and upright is the Lord,” Ps. xxv. 8; ” there is none good but one, that is God,” Matt. xix. 17; “he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,” Matt. v. 45. Scripture declares that he has no pleasure in the death of him that dies,” because he is his creature, Ezek. xviii. 32; that he “will have all men to be saved,” 1 Tim. ii. 4; that he is ” not willing that any should perish,” 2 Pet. iii . 9. It tells us that he “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John iii . 16. This love, therefore, is universal, and prompted him to give Christ; and hence he is said to be “the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe,” 1 Tim. iv. 10. His Love of benevolence to all appears also in the command which he gave that his Gospel should be preached to every creature without exception, Matt, xxviii. 19. It is said that he “will render to every man” without respect of persons, “according to his deeds,” Rom. ii. 6; that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Cor. v. 10. Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 163-164.
2) There is still another passage on which our opponents found an objection. We refer to 1 Tim. ii. 5. The apostle in the beginning of the chapter, we are told, exhorts that supplications, &c. should be made for all men, and then for the purpose of enforcing his exhortation, he adds that there is “one God” who will have all men to be saved, and “one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus.” Our answer to the objection now stated is this. Not only may what has already been said be applied in explaining the apostle’s words, but there is another reason why God is called one. This reason has no reference to unity of essence, but to men in their collective capacity. The apostle in calling him one God, means that he is God to all alike and stands in the same relation to all. He proves that prayers should be offered for all, because God wills all to be saved, because he is one God–not of the Jews only but of the Gentiles also–the middle wall of partition between them having been broken down. In like manner there is also one Mediator, because he stands in the same relation to all, not only to the Jews but also the Gentiles. The case was different under the old dispensation. There was not then a Mediator of one, Gal. iii . 20, i.e. of one God who stood in the same relation to all, seeing that God was the God only of the Jews. Moses therefore was not a real but a typical and external mediator, because he is called a Mediator not of one, i.e., not of God as God equally to all and as occupying one and the same relation to all, for he was the God of the Jews only to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Now however under the New Testament he is the God alike of both. The apostle clearly intimates this in another place, “Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also; Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith,” Rom. iii. 29, 30.
But why, it is asked, is the one God hero called the Mediator, the man Christ Jesus? Is it not meant by this that he is not God!? By no means, we reply. We infer from such language nothing more than this, that he became man for the purpose of discharging his work as Mediator. Why then is he called man and not God? Obviously for the only reason which bore upon the point in hand, that the apostle namely might infer that God was willing that all, Gentiles as well as Jews, should bo saved, because the Mediator is man and therefore is related to all men. Thus as he had called God one, so now he says that there is one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus, in order to furnish a new argument to prove that God wishes the salvation of all whether Jews or Gentiles. Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 252.
4) 7. Scripture assures us that the love of God towards men as such is universal–that he has “no pleasure in the death of him that dies” that he “will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth“–that he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” Ezek. xviii . 32; 1 Tim. ii . 4; 2 Pet. iii . 9. From these passages we infer that there is a general will or purpose of God held forth in the gospel by which he has linked together faith and salvation without excluding any man, and declares that it is agreeable to him that all should believe and live. If this be denied then it follows that he absolutely willed that some should perish and that, according to his good pleasure, the proposition “he that believes shall be saved” should not apply to them. What becomes, in this case, of his universal love? What are we to make of the passages in which he declares that he wills not the death of the sinner, that he will have all men to be saved? Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 306.
Hermann Venema (1697-1787); studied at Groningen (1711-1714) and Franecker (1714-1718). In 1723 he succeeded the younger Vitringa as professor of theology at Franecker, a post he held until his retirement in 1774. His dogmatic work was published posthumously in English translation: Institutes of Theology (1850). Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 1:51 [first edition].
[Note: From what I can gather, only volume 1 was ever published.]