Archive for the ‘Antecedent/Consequent Will’ Category


2. Next I shall say somewhat to prove the soundness of it, which is therefore necessary, because some ignorant persons laugh at it; as if we feigned two wills in God, and one of them contrary to the other. Otherwise, to men of understanding it is not very needful: And therefore I shall say but this briefly. It is not two Wills in God, as two distinct Essences or Faculties that I assert; but only two distinct Acts: Distinct, I say, in regard of their distinct products or Effects, and so to mans apprehension, though in God, we say there, is no diversity or distinction. Yet as we cannot handsomely conceive of his will to save Peter, and his will to damn Judas, as one act, having such different Effects; so it is here. Who knows not that Naturality and Morality. Physicks and Ethicks, Event and Right are different things, and consequently we may and must distinguish of Gods willing them accordingly. When a Man saith, [You shall do this,] preceptively, he doth only say [It shall be your duty to do it] but saith not that eventually you shall do it. Nor are his words false if you never do it. He that faith prophetically or by prognostication [you shall do this] means that it shall so come to pass; and if it do not his words are false: But he doth not say, [It is or shall be your Duty.]

12. Accordingly we must distinguish between the antecedent and consequent Acts and Will of Christ as Ruler of Mankind. For the understanding of which and avoiding mistakes, observe, 1. That we speak not now of Eternal Decrees, but of the will of Christ in this Relation as he is the Ruler of the World and Church, and as he is the conveyer of his mercies according to and by his Covenant, and as he judges the World according thereunto. 2. That by his Antecedent will, and acts, we mean only that which in his Government is Antecedent to Mans Obedience or Disobedience; which is principally Legislation, and and making his new Covenant; and also the giving of Preachers, and other acts, which are the first part of his Administration. And by his consequent Acts and Will, we mean only that second part of Government, which finds Man Obedient or Disobedient, and is commonly called Judgment and Execution. And when we say that by his Antecedent Acts and Will Christ gives Pardon, Justification and Right to Glory, equally to all; we mean that as Legislator and Promiser, he hath antecedently made an Universal Act of Oblivion or Deed of Gift Conditionally Pardoning, &c. all, and no farther than Conditionally Pardoning any. And when we say that he consequently justifies and saves none but true Christians, and in that Since died for no other according to his consequent will, we mean that as Judge of Mankind he will give Justification and Salvation to Believers and to no others; nor ever intended to do otherwise. (Let the Reader know, that the foresaid Scheme of the Effects of Christ’s Death, is more accurately, and yet more briefly done in my Methodus Theologiæ: And therefore let him that dislikes the Number or Order of Distributions pass it by: But I have not time to reform it here.

Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ, (London: Printed for John Salusbury at the Rising Sun in Cornhill, 1694), 31-33. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

[Note: there may be some possible comparisons between Baxter and Cameron with regard to the antecedent act of giving Christ to the world, and also with Ezekiel Culverwell with regard to Christ as a deed of gift to mankind.]


John of Damascus (675/6-749) on the Antecedent and Consequent Will

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Providence, then, is the care that God takes over existing things. And again: Providence is the will of God through which all existing things receive their fitting issue.4 But if Providence is God’s will, according to true reasoning all things that come into being through Providence must necessarily be both most fair and most excellent, and such that they cannot be surpassed. For the same person must of necessity be creator of and provider for what exists: for it is not meet nor fitting that the creator of what exists and the provider should be separate persons. For in that case they would both assuredly be deficient, the one in creating, the other in providing.5 God therefore is both Creator and Provider, and His creative and preserving and providing power is simply His good-will. For whatsoever the Lard pleased that did He in heaven and in earth,6 and no one resisted His will.7 He willed that all things should be and they were. He wills the universe to be framed and it is framed, and all that He wills comes to pass.

That He provides, and that He provides excellently,8 one can most readily perceive thus. God alone is good and wise by nature. Since then He is good, He provides: for he who does not provide is not good. For even men and creatures without reason provide for their own offspring according to their nature, and he who does not provide is blamed. Again, since He is wise, He takes the best care over what exists.

When, therefore, we give heed to these things we ought to be filled with wonder at all the works of Providence, and praise them all,9 and accept them all without enquiry, even though they are in the eyes of many unjust, because the Providence of God is beyond our ken and comprehension, while our reasonings and actions and the future are revealed to His eyes alone. And by "all" I mean those that are not in our hands: for those that are in our power are outside the sphere of Providence and within that of our Free-will.

Now the works of Providence are partly according to the good-will2 (of God) and partly according to permission.3 Works of good-will include all those that are undeniably good, while works of permission are ……4 For Providence often permits the just man to encounter misfortune in order that he may reveal to others the virtue that lies concealed within him,5 as was the case with Job.6 At other times it allows something strange to be done in order that something great and marvelous might be accomplished through the seemingly strange act, as when the salvation of men was brought about through the Cross. In another way it allows the pious man to suffer sore trials in order that he may not depart from a right conscience nor lapse into pride on account of the power and grace granted to him, as was the case with Paul.7

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Q. 23: God’s Will


In the Second Article We Ask: Can The Divine Will
BE Distinguished INTO Antecedent
AND Consequent?


It seems that it cannot, for

1. Order presupposes distinction. But in the divine will there is no distinction, since in one simple act it wills everything which it wills. Therefore antecedent and consequent, which imply order, are not found in the divine will.

2. The answer was given that, although there is no distinction in the divine will on the part of the one Willing, there is no the part of the things willed.–On the contrary, order can be held to be in the will on the part of the things willed in only two ways: either in regard to different things willed or in regard to one and the same thing willed. If this order is taken in regard to different things willed, it follows that the will will be said to be antecedent concerning the first creatures and consequent concerning those which follow. But this is false. If, however, this order is taken in regard to one and the same thing willed, this can only be according to different circumstances considered in that thing. But this cannot put any distinction or order in the will, since the will is referred to the thing as existing in its own nature whereas the thing in its own nature is enmeshed in all its conditions. In no sense, therefore, should antecedent and consequent be affirmed of the divine will. 2. The answer was given that, although there is no distinction in the divine will on the part of the one Willing, there is no the part of the things willed.–On the contrary, order can be held to be in the will on the part of the things willed in only two ways: either in regard to different things willed or in regard to one and the same thing willed. If this order is taken in regard to different things willed, it follows that the will will be said to be antecedent concerning the first creatures and consequent concerning those which follow. But this is false. If, however, this order is taken in regard to one and the same thing willed, this can only be according to different circumstances considered in that thing. But this cannot put any distinction or order in the will, since the will is referred to the thing as existing in its own nature whereas the thing in its own nature is enmeshed in all its conditions. In no sense, therefore, should antecedent and consequent be affirmed of the divine will.

3. Knowledge and power are referred to creatures in just the same way as will. But we do not distinguish God’s knowledge and power into antecedent and consequent on the basis of the order of creatures. Then neither should His will be so distinguished.

4. Whatever is not subject to change or hindrance by another is not judged according to that other but only in itself. Now the divine will cannot be changed or hindered by anything. It should not, therefore, be judged according to anything else but only in itself. But according to Damascene “antecedent will” is spoken of in God “as arising from Him; consequent will, as arising because of us.” Consequent will should therefore not be distinguished in God from antecedent will.

5. In the affective power there does not seem to be any order except that derived from the cognitive, because order pertains to reason. But we do not attribute to God ordered cognition, which is reasoning, but rather simple cognition, which is understanding. Then neither should we affirm the order of antecedent and consequent of His will.

6. Boethius says that God “beholds all things in a single look of His mind.” In like fashion, then, with one simple act of His will He reaches out to everything which He wills; and so antecedent and consequent should not be affirmed of His will.

7. God knows things in Himself and in their own nature; and although they are in their own nature only after being in the Word, even so the distinction of antecedent and consequent is not affirmed of God’s knowledge. Then neither should it be affirmed of His will.

8. The divine will, like the divine existence, is measured by eternity. But the duration of the divine existence, because measured by eternity, is all simultaneous, having no before and after. Then neither should antecedent and consequent be placed in the divine will.

To the Contrary:

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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.


John Cameron (1579-1625) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


1st letter,

All your reasons . . . are taken from the authority of one of the greatest of men, and the retractation of another from the nature of God, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. As to the two first, I am exceeding sorry that these two persons, one whereof hath justly ye greatest reputation of the Church, and the other highly esteemed by you for his piety, aprove what such as either deny Christ’s satisfaction or turn it to nothing, make the great foundation of their cause: and if we yield this, they have what they would be at, and ye horrour of the evil nature of sin which the Holy Ghost works in the soul, is turned to smoak. But I come to the other two reasons. Its said, that God loves not things because they are good, but every thing is good because loved of God. At this rate, God loves not himself because he is good, but he is so, because he loves himself. If this be absurd, the absurdity will hold in everything that is a branch of the Divine image: for if God, by a natural and immutable propension, loves himself, the same way must he love his image, and both with a natural love. And you yourself have demonstrat this point: only you would notice, that in some things the Divine image shines, as he is God, and yet in them there is no likenes to his justice. And these are undoubtedly, if persons, either approven or disapproven by God: or, if they be actions, they may be commanded or forbidden, without any difference. But then God can neither condemn the innocent nor approve the guilty, nor discharge love to himself, or commend or command the hatred of himself. Hold fast this–let no arts and sophisms drive you from it. Fix all ye powers of your soul here, if you would know what horrible evils have filled mankind by the loss of God’s image. Again, they say, God is free, and may make of his own what he will. But dare they extend this to God’s denying himself? And what is so much his own as himself? Or can he destinate the innocent to eternal pains? But this they say is not what God will ever pleese to do–(ei non libet). Indeed, I say also, it can never please him, because contrary to his nature. The liberty of God, then, either depends on his nature or upon his hidden wisdom, the reasons of which are far above our reach. This last is very clear, in things which are not repugnant to his Divine nature–as to creat the world or not, to conserve it or not, to permit sin or not. The guide of such actions is mysterious infinite wisdom, to which, the reason of the difference is perfectly obvious, which nevertheless cannot be known by us. Thus, that God makes a man sunk in sin either a member of Christ or not, is a secret of Divine wisdom: but that God punishes a sinner, out of Christ, is from plain justice, and we can tell the reason of it, as also why he absolves a person who is in Christ, which is an effort both of justice and mercy. But to make a person the object of compensating justice, or permitting that he is not, is merely voluntary. Yet if one be not the object of compensating justice, for God to consider him as if he were so is against the nature of things, till the impedement be removed. Would you have an instance? The object of compensating justice is a righteous person. God therefor makes us so, before he compensates. To make a man righteous is merely voluntary, but to compensate the righteousness is not merely voluntary; for its contrary to the Divine nature not to love a righteous person: and if he love him, he will compensate him. Thus the object of punishing, and vindictive justice, is a sinner. To hinder or not hinder sinning is perfectly free [to God:] but it can never be free to God (save on the taking away of sin) not to punish the sinner, since he cannot lye, and he is faithfull to his threatnings as well as his promises. From hence we may understand that liberty which results from the Divine nature, [which] is perfectly free to take away, or not to take away the impediment; but the impediment not being removed, I cannot allow that the same freedom can be in God. And yet God is not astricted thus by any other laws than those of his own nature: but from these he neither will, nor can depart. Will you or any other person think that God will revock the damnatory sentence, till the cause of the condemnation be removed? or that the cause of condemnation can ever be removed without a satisfaction? Now, that damnatory sentence is decreed from eternity against the sinner, and promulgat to Adam in time. Its necessary then, that it should continue fixed and firm, till its cause be removed. Canot you perceive how frivolouse their argument is, The person who can remove the impediment by a satisfaction, or not remove it, can also, while the impediment stands, doe the same without any satisfaction on sin: the doing this is ye same as to ye matter with ye removing the impediment? Let me add another thing. There are two kinds of Divine actions–one, wherof there is no cause without God. In these, liberty is directed by wisdom. There are others, the cause of which is without God. In them the Divine liberty is directed or circumscribed by the Divine nature. For instance, the punishing of sin hath its cause without God, and therfor is directed not by the mere will of God, but by his will proceeding from his nature. Lastly, its false which they say, that the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is merely voluntary; since God, according to his nature, cannot but impute Christ’s righteousness to him who is represented by Christ. If I pay you a summ of money in the debitor’s name, is ther not here a real imputation? For what is it, in the debitor’s name, for you to accept and receive that money, but to impute ye accepted money to the debitor? Its a contradiction then to say, Christ satisfyed for all men. God imputes this satisfaction only to some. How then does the Scripture say, Christ satisfyed for all? Just as the reward is proposed and appointed to all that strive and run in a race: and yet that is bestowed upon none but him that wins the race. I noticed to you, if I remember, that there is a twofold mercy in Godan antecedent, from which the gift of faith comes, of which Paul speaks, Rom. 9: and the exercise of this is undoubtedly free. The other, consequent, by which God justifyes those to whom he gives faith, which is an act of justice as to Christ, though as to us it’s mercy. This is not meerly voluntary in God. If we will speak then, properly, we must say, Christ satisfyed only for such as believe on him, since these are only his members. As then Adam infected only his own by sin, so Christ abolishes sin only in his own: and none are his but such as believe in him. Observe what I say. Faith makes you a member of Christ, but faith would not save you unless Christ had satisfyed for you. These are two acts very distinct–the ingrafting in Christ by faith, and the imputing Christ’s righteousness to him thus sinned in Christ. The first is merely voluntary, but not the second. What, you will say, is not faith given because of the merit of Christ? Truly, faith is given you that you may participat of the merits of Christ. The death of Christ therfor, is properly the final cause of faith. Whence then, say you, is faith? Just, in my opinion, from the same spring from which God redeems mankind by the blood of Christ, without which, or some other satisfaction, of which I can have no notion, the wordle would have perished, that is, God’s good pleasure. To what you adduce from 1 Tim. 2, 4, I answer, prayers for the salvation of others are either absolute, as when we pray against the sworn enemies of the Church, or for the elect and the Church: or, hypotheticall, for the conversion or conservation of this or that person in the faith. And thus I argue, that in that way, we are to pray for the salvation of particular persons, the same way God wills the salvation of all. But we are to pray for particular persons conditionally: therfor, conditionally, God wills the salvation of all. You err widely if you think you can pray for all in faith absolutely, since ther is not one single promise in ye Bible for the salvation of all; and without a promise ther can be no faith. If you think that God wills equally the salvation of all, without any condition: this is quite wrong, to say no worse. Can you once think that, what God absolutely wills, he again does not will? This is a contradiction. Or cannot do? That is blasphemy. If then God wills absolutely that all shall be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, he will certainly bring this about. But that he does not. The Scripture describes antecedent love to us, as that which hath some degrees–the first of which is, that Christ is given both to Gentiles and Jews, with this condition, that they believe in him. These are expressed in ye Scripture, by every creature, all flesh, the world, in opposition to ye nature of the Jewish Church, which was not Catholick, but restrained to that nation. This degree is spoken of, John 3, 16, as if we should say, the King of France so loved the Parisians, that he pardoned the penitent. Here I understand all the Parisians; and yet I assert that priviledge absolutely to none of them, but only to such as come up to ye condition and penitently ask pardon. In respect of this degree, God is said to give Christ, for ye life of ye world, and to will the salvation of all, as he calls all to penitence, some by the law of nature, others by his written law, others by the gospell. Therfor, here God is said to will all men to be saved, as he calls them to the knowledge of the truth, and because he calls them, and wills they should live piously, and commands so. From the 2d degree of antecedent love, God gives faith. This appears from that celebrated place, ‘No man cometh unto me but he whom my Father draweth;’ and in this respect, Christ is said to be given for the elect only, and that he wills only to save them. God does multitudes of things which to us may seem to be repugnant, but they are not so. We, little creatures, because we cannot fathom what God does, endeavour to take them in among the things we can fathom and know; but these being finit and limited, represent only parts of the Divine way, and very obscurely too. From hence come the seeming repugnancys in what God does–just as if you were looking with dim confused eyes to the parts of the human body, all their harmony would appear to you disharmoniouse: and yet it would be reasonable to you, consciouse of your own weakness, to conclude, that though at present they appeared thus to you, yet really things are not so. Cited from, Robert Wodrow, Collections Upon the Lives of the Reformers and Most Eminent Ministers of the Church of Scotland (Glasow: Edward Khull, Printer to the University, 1845), 2: 92-96; dated, Bourdeaux, Dec. 1610. [Some minor reformatting; where applicable, Wodrow’s interpolated comments removed; spelling original; bracketed inserts original; italics original; marginal notation not included; and underlining mine.]

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