Archive for the ‘Conditional Decree/Conditional Will’ Category

Confessio Catholica:

Concerning the Will of God

We consider the will of God in two ways: in God and in creatures. In God, when God moves into action the whole of His will and by His own power, of Himself and without the aid of men, performs and accomplishes that which He wishes and desires (Ps. 142; Ezek. 11; Rom. 8, 9; John 5); the divine will is bound in every part to God’s power, grace, and action, as in election, creation, calling according to purpose, justifying, vivifying, glorifying, renewing, converting, saving the elect by His grace per se, His own power, in Himself; and by punishing the vessels of wrath, consigning them to death, and by the resurrection of all men. All of God’s will must necessarily come to pass (Isa. 46), fulfilled immutably on account of these omnipotent causes, i.e., that divine power and efficacy powerfully accomplishes all those things which He wishes of Himself to perform and accomplish. As it is said: “that which He wished, He performed” (Ps. 113:11). “To whom He wishes He is merciful. Whom He wishes, He hardens” (Rom. 9:18).”The Son gives life to whom He wishes” ( John 5:21). I wish the world to be.”All my will shall be” (Isa. 46:10).

Further, we consider the will of God in things created. As when He binds His will conditionally to the fulfillment of the creatures through their strength, both through the Law and through the will of the man Christ. For example, “I willed, you would not” (cf. Matt. 23:37). In these things, the will of God is not fulfilled, since the power of man, to which it was bound, is ineffective and weak. Thus the power of the Law and the gospel is weakened; death and shame come about through the flesh, through the insufficiency of men, since they do not fully, perfectly and absolutely obey God; they do not do nor are they able to do God’s will, nor can they perform those things which are in conformity with the righteousness or mercy of God. There can be no equality of proportion in men doing. He is God perfect and just; they are weak and sinful men. Being unwilling, however, is as great as inability to men in heavenly affairs and impossible to the flesh. Therefore, efficaciously and omnipotently, He wills to come, to save His elect truly with powerful effect, for it has been effected by His will out of the power of God. God wills, commands, and desires from the heavens. Among men here below, Christ effects the causes with the fullness of His deity and the Spirit of grace, the truth of the will of God. As it is said, “I have done it. I will make them walk in my precepts” (Augustine, Books 3, 7, 8, 9; to Simplicianus; Jerome, Chrysostom; Origen, on Paul to the Romans and Ephesians; 1 Tim. 2 and several other places). God causes you both to will and to do (cf. Phil. 2:13). God who calls will do it (so say the fathers Augustine, Prosper, Jerome, Ambrose).

As it says in Ezekiel 18 and Matthew 11, He wills with His general outward saving will that all shall live, good and bad alike. Because, however, of imperfect men, that general will is not fulfilled; as I willed, you would not, i.e., you would not be converted, saved, believe, fulfill my laws.

“The Hungarian Confessio Catholica (1562),” in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 2:485-486. [Underlining mine.]

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John Calvin (1509-1564) on the General Election of Israel

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism



1) See here, I pray you, the election of God, whereby he putts such difference between the lineage of Abraham and all the rest of the world, that he made the same lineage his church of purpose, that the signs of his favor and of his covenant should remain there, and that his name should be called upon there, so as he offered the promises of salvation to them that descended of the same race and lineage… Lo, here, I say, a general election that belonged to all the children of Abraham,

. …Now then, God’s general election which extended to the whole people was not sufficient, but it behooved every man to be partaker of it in his own peculiar behalf. And how was that to be done? By faith. …Lo, here, the double election of God. The one extendeth to the whole people, because circumcision was given indifferently to all, both small and great, and the promises likewise were common. But yet for all that, God was fain to add a second grace, by touching the hearts of his chosen, namely of such as he listed to reserve to himself, and those came unto him, and he made them to receive the benefit that was offered them. Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 72, Deuteronomy. 10:15-17, p., 439. 69

2) Because many people have no regard for God and are in this world like wild animals, without hope of salvation and without godliness, Peter in particular, wishing to bring the Jews to our Lord Jesus Christ, capitalizes on the fact that they belong to a house God chose and elected from among all others because they were descended from the lineage of Jacob. And since our Lord called himself the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, he also called the Jews into his fellowship and tried to establish them among the number of his children and heirs. That is why Peter reminded them of their lineage, so they might know that the Messiah’s salvation, promised in the law, was for them. Yet he tells them that in vain do they boast of belonging to that lineage if they do not receive the benefit offered to them. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts of the Apostles, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008), 13.

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Mr. Calamy: I am far from universal redemption in the Arminian sense; but that that I hold is in the sense of our divines in the Synod of Dort,  that Christ did pay a price for all, absolute intention for the elect, conditional intention for the reprobate in case they do believe, that all men should be salvabiles, non obstante lapsu Adami . . . that Jesus Christ did not only die sufficiently for all, but God did intend, in giving of Christ, and Christ in giving Himself, did intend to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe. Alex Mitchell and John Struthers, Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874), 152. C.f., Chad B. Van Dixhoorn’s Reforming the Reformation: Theological Debate at the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, 6:202-209.1 [Some reformatting; original footnote not included; this footnote mine; and underlining mine.]


If we were to take these statements just as they stand, we should probably be obliged to say that Calamy’s position was characterized by the following points:

1. It denied the Arminian doctrine of a universal redemption for all men alike, without exception, on condition of faith, which faith is to be man’s own act by virtue of powers renewed through a universal gift of sufficient grace.

2. It denied equally the Amyraldian doctrine of a universal redemption for all men alike, without exception, on condition of faith, which faith, however, is the product of special grace given to the elect alone, so that only the elect can fulfil the condition.

3. It affirmed a double intention on Christ’s part in His work of redemptiondeclaring that He died absolutely for the elect and conditionally for the reprobate. Theologically his position, which has its closest affinities with the declarations of the English Divines at Dort, was an improvement upon the Amyraldian; but logically it was open, perhaps, to all the objections which were fatal to it as well as to others arising from its own lack of consistency. B. B. Warfield, “The Westminster Assembly and its Work,” in The Works of Benjamine B. Warfield, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981), 6:139.2 [Some reformatting, footnote mine; and underlining mine.]

[Note: Calamy was the principle leader of the English Presbyterians until his death.]


1Dixhoorn’s minutes are the same as Mitchell’s, though with extra textual notations.

2Much (most?) of what Warfield has to say on this topic ranges from inaccurate to strange. However, he confirms that Calamy did hold to a twofold intentionality of God.


God’s Will Complancential,
Providential and

3. Aquinas and others distinguished God’s Will unto Complacential , Providential, and Beneplaciti. (1) God’s Complacential Will, is his simple complacence in all good Actions, Habits, and Events, of men; yea it extends not only to moral, but to natural goods, as Gen. 1:31. There is a perpetual necessary volition in God, which takes pleasure in all good, whether create or increate. Such is the infinite Bonitie and Purity of the Divine Nature, as that it cannot but take infinite complacence in all good. This they call God’s Love of simple complacence, of which see Ruiz, de Volunt. Dei Disp. 6. §. 2. p. 38. and Disp. 19: p. 214. (2) God’s Providential Will is that, whereby he is said to will and intend an end, when he in his providence, either gracious or common, affords such means which have an aptitude to produce it. As where God sends his Gospel, he may be said to really intend the salvation of those to whom it is sent, albeit they are not all saved; because he vouchsafes them those means which have a real aptitude to produce the same, were they but really embraced and improved. In this regard Davenant and others affirm, that Christ’s death is, pan-machon, an universal remedy applicable to all, and that God, by his Voluntas Providentia (as Aquinas styles it) intended it as such. This intention or will of God is measured by the nature of the means, and therefore reducible to God’s Legislative Will, which gives constitution and measure to all the means of man’s salvation. (3) There is God’s Beneplaciti or Decretive Will, which is only strictly and properly styled the will of God, as before: so Ruiz de Volunt. Dei, Disp. 18. §. 4. p. 185.

Theophilus Gale, The Court of the Gentiles, (Printed by A. Maxwell and R. Roberts, for T. Cockeril at the Sign of the Atlas in Cornhil, near the Royal Exchange, 1677), part 1, Book 2, p., 357. [Some spelling modernized; marginal side header cited inline; italics original; and underlining mine.]

Credit to Tony for the find.


Richard Baxter (1615-1691) on God’s Conditional Will

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


1) 355. The next distinction of God’s Will, is into Absolute and Conditional; which some Divines use and others condemn, and say that God has no Conditional Will. The common answer which most Schoolmen and other Papists agree with the Protestants in, is, that there are Conditions rei volita of the event of the thing Willed, but no Conditions of the act of Volition in God. As Aquinas says of Causes, Deus vult hoc esse propter hoc; non autem propter hoc vult hoc. 1. There are both Causes and Conditions of the event willed of God. 2. Denominatione extinseca ex conotatione objecti his Will is hence called Conditional; meaning but a Volition of Conditionals.

356. That God wills Conditions, and Conditional Propsitions, and Grants, is past all controversies. For he wills own word, which is his work: But his word has conditional promises and threats: And as his word also may be called his will, he has a Conditional will, because a Conditional word. Richard Baxter, Catholick Theologie (London:  Printed by Robert White, for Nevill Simmons at the Princess Arms in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1675), 1:55.  [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; marginal comments not include; and underlining mine.]

2) 2. When I speak (before in the Argument) of Gods will, it is not of his will of Decree, but of his will as he is in the relation of Rector per Leges and so giveth that Salvation as executor of his Laws and Sentence, which by his Laws he first gave Right to. God as Rector and Legislator neither will nor can give Salvation to any that Christ dyed not for, if they should believe: But God as Legislator or Rector would give salvation to all that Christ Dyed for if they believe, though it were supposed that he had foreknown or decreed that such men would not believe. Only it would follow that God was mistaken: And therefore such a thing will never come to pass; for God will not be mistaken. It is God as Legislator to whom it belongs to be true, in making good his promises, which is the thing in Question. Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ, (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising Sun in Cornhill, 1694), 129. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

3) 5. In so doing God doth all that belongs to him to do as Legislator: For it must be understood that here he speaks those words [that the World by him might be saved] not as absolute Lord meerly or properly, but as Rector per Leges, And it belongs to him as Legislator, only to propound Salvation, to Man as his end: And to promise it on his conditions, and prescribe those conditions and command Man to perform them: And to threaten him with the loss of that end (of Salvation) if he perform them not. But to give faith, which is the condition it self, doth not belong so God as Legislator. (No Man living can claim the first Act of faith, or effectual Grace thereto, from God by any promise that he has made): But he giveth it as Dominus absolutus, and as one that may do with his own as he list. So that it is Finis prescriptus & conditionaliter datus, that is here spoken of; and not Finis Decretus to be by God eventually infallibly accomplished. It is the end of Gods Law, and Legislative Will, and so of God as mere Legislator or Rector per Leges: And not of his decretive Will de eventu, and of God as absolute Lord above Laws, without them disposing of his own. (The prediction of Events doth collaterally and secundum quid belong to his Law: But not per se and directly.)

And 6. Consider, that if it be never so much denied that God has properly a conditional Will de rerum eventu, yet it is beyond all question true, that he has a conditional Will de debito, (officii, Præmii & Pænæ) and so his Law is conditional most commonly. He has constituted the Debitum pramii, the dueness of Salvation on condition of believing, loving and sincerely obeying Christ. And therefore they must nor deny conditional promises and threatnings, though they deny conditional, decrees. This I add, because I know they here usually answer that God intendeth no end conditionally, but where he intends also the condition it self, that so it may be equivalent to absolute: But he intends as Legislator that Faith shall be the prescribed means to Glory, and Glory the end promised to all that perform that condition; and so conditionally giveth it.

7. Consider also that even in regard of Gods Will de Eventu, our Divines generally with the School men confess and maintain that God has a conditional Will in this Sense. That is, that he wills such a thing shall be a condition of the accomplishing, giving or event of another thing; and so that he wills Faith shall be a condition of Salvation: Though nothing be the condition of Gods Act of Willing, So that ex parte voliti it is conditional, though not ex parte actus volentis. This Dr. Twiss says oft consid. of Tilenus Sinod of Dort and Arlis reduced Page 61. He saith [Ger. Vossius interpreteth the Will of God touching the Salvation of all, of a conditional Will, thus: God will have all to be saved, to wit, in case they believe: Which conditional Will in this Sense, neither Austin did, nor we do deny] And Page 143, 144, I willingly profess that Christ died for all, in respect of procuring the benefit, (of Pardon and Salvation) conditionally on condition of their Faith] and against Cotton p. 74 [Still you prove that which no man denies, viz. that God purposed Life to the World upon condition of Obedience and Repentance, provided that you understand it right; viz. that Obedience and Repentance is ordained of God, as a condition of Life, not of Gods purpose. Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ, (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising Sun in Cornhill, 1694), 305-308.  [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]