No grace or gift is bestowed upon any man for this very end, that he may abuse it, but many excellent graces and gifts have been temporally bestowed upon angels and men not-elected with an eternal decree or purpose of God Not to keep them from abusing them, Not to keep them from incurring eternal death by abusing. This is the decree of reprobation which we admit: and if this author1 can rightly infer that, this is contrary to the end and use of God’s gifts, we will subscribe to his conditional election and reprobation. If he hope to infer this conclusion, his premisses must be, Every absolute decree of God to permit the final abuse of any of his good gifts or graces, is contrary to the use or end of bestowing them upon man. But that decree of absolute negative reprobation which we defend is an absolute decree, &c. ERGO, it is contrary, &c. The major proposition will be denied by all judicious Divines, and can never be proved by the Remonstrants. Non institutio bonarei sed exorbitatio reproband est.2

That God wills the good of men in bestowing any good gifts or graces upon them, needed no proof at all: We have always affirmed willing granted this proposition. Yet for the true understanding thereof it must be observed, that when we say this is God’s will, this is God’s aim or intent, these words have not always the same signification. This author by confounding the divers meaning of these and the like words does strangely entangle himself through his whole discourse. For therefore, any thing is said to be according to God’s will, which considered in itself is according to the goodness and purity of the Divine nature. This is a perpetual necessary volition in God, qua deo placet omne bonum. And this simplex complancentia towards3 all good actions of men or events unto men, is possible circa creaturas omnes etiam nunquam futuras: For there is no goodness imaginable, which has not an agreement with the good will of God, which we call amorem simplicus complacentia.4 Satis constat hujusmodi complacentiam dei versari circa pœnitentiam, gratum & gloriam possibilem Iuda ant cujus libert damnati. 2. Secondly, God is said to will, desire, or aim-at that good, for the obtaining whereof he affords fitting means, though withal he wills that it shall be in the liberty of the creature to hinder and frustrate those means, and those he have absolutely decreed to permit the creature to abuse them unto his own destruction. This is that which usually is termed by Divines voluntas antecedens voluntas conditionata, voluntas simplicis complacentiæ. And thus God is said to aim-at or to will and desire the conversation and salvation of those who never shall be converted, justified or saved. Neither must we think that by these means5 God’s omnipotent will is cross, because his voluntas simplicis complantæ is not fulfilled. For the absolute will of God was, that in such persons their own free-will might hinder the good effect of his gifts and graces, which he was absolutely resolved to permit for some greater good. Lastly, there is a will in God strictly and most properly is called voluntas beneplaciti or his absolute will, which is not only a liking of the good willed unto the creature, and an ordering of fit means whereby the creature (if his own free-will hinder not) may attain it; but a merciful decree of so ordering the means and the very will of the creature, that it shall infallibly and unfrustatingly obtain the good end whereunto such means were accommodated. And of this Ruiz truly affirms, Sola hæ c voluntas absoluta simpliciter amplectitur objectum, & ideo sola simpliciter & absolute meritur nomen voluntatis beneplaciti.6 We grant, therefore, that in the second acception7 of the word will God truly wills, likes, desires the repentance, faith, perseverance, and salvation of all to whom the Gospel is preached and Christ offered. But in the last and most proper acception, God wills the perseverance and salvation only of his elect, in whom he never ceases working till the happy effect is produced.

Our Divines at Dort granted a true and serious will in God according to the second acception of the word will, but not according to the last. Which will simplicis complacentæ may stand with absolute reprobation.

If this author can be content to acknowledge that for a true, serious and no delusory will, which affords the creature means of repenting, believing and being saved, though under an eternal absolute decree of permitting the final disobedience and perdition of the creature, we will free from the trouble of answering the places of Scripture, and with him embrace the interpretation of Damescene, who tells us, that albeit the Scriptures do in such places seem to make God’s benefits causes of man’s sin and ruin, yet they must be understood, ekthatikos aitiologikos.

A physician does give his patient physick with an absolute will to cure, so far as his skill and ability will stretch: But God does not always give the means of salvation unto all men out of his absolute will: for then all should be cured and saved. Omnia quæconque voluit Deus, fecit in cœlo & in terra.8 Fulgentius gies the reason: Quia eui semper subest cum volet posse, non aliud est in illo velle quam posse.9

The will of God inviting or moving men to perform such good acts as tend to their salvation, is God’s true and serious will, though he have not decreed by such means to produce their salvation.10 This will is often despised by men to their own damnation. But there is a will not only ordaining means to the end, but of causing men to use the means unto the consecution of the end. And thus by giving them special grace God wills the kingdom of glory only unto the elect. The former will is not to be baffled with the name dissimulation, because this latter is only it which brings men to unto glorification. And we further add, that the Reprobates in resisting the former will, which is vera voluntas simlicis complacentiæ, do always fulfill the latter, which is God’s absolute will of permitting this resistence, and of gathering of it a greater illustration of his own glory.

The blessings and means which God out of his goodness afforded to the angels, to Adam, an which he continually afforded unto wicked men, by the ill frame of their hearts may be and have been turned to their own hurt: and yet we cannot but acknowledge in them an antecedent and gracious will to do them good. But we do acknowledge, over and above this will of complacency, an absolute will of efficiency, by which God has mercifully decreed to work in some persons the will and the deed, and by the means of grace de facto to bring them unto glory. These two different manners of willing and working the salvation of men, do demonstrate an absolute will in God of saving some, which we call the absolute decree of their election; and an absolute will of permitting others to draw upon themselves damnation by voluntary abusing the means of grace, which we call absolute reprobation. John Davenant, Animadversions Written by the Right Reverend Father in God, John Lord Bishop of Sarisbury, upon the Treatise intitled, Gods love to Mankinde (London: Printed for Iohn Partridge, 1641), 304-308. [Italics original; marginal references cited as footnotes; bracketed footnotes mine; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]

[Note: While some of Davenant’s wording is complex, and the Latin, may be obscure (and at times hard to read in the original), the reader should be able to understand the essential import of Davenants comments.]


1[That is, Davenant’s opponent in this polemic.]

2Tertull. adver. marc. I.

3Vide Ruize De vol. Disp. 6. Sect. 2 pag. 38.

4Ruiz. Disp. 19. P. 21.

5[Original: “men.”]

6Disp. 18. §. 4.p.185,

7[Davenant uses this form for the more modern equivalent: “accepted.”

8Psal. 135.

9I. Ad Mon. c.12.

10Vide Baii Institut. lib. 1. cap. 104, &c., c.115, 116.

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