And last of all, absolute predestination, and absolute reprobation or non-election, do not exclude or deny the eternal intuition of faith and perseverance in the elect, nor the eternal consideration of infidelity and impenitency in the non-elect, but they deny such a consideration of good or bad acts foreseen in men as causes or precedes the different decrees of God in electing some men mercifully unto salvation, and leaving others through their own default to plunge themselves into eternal damnation.

If by casting off men for ever, you1 mean the eternal exclusion of the damned from the blessed presence of God, and their eternal tormenting in hell, no side will deny but this is grounded upon the foresight of final continuance in sin: yet so, that as the final continuance of Peter in faith was not a cause, condition or motive foreseen, and so determining the divine will to elect him, but the divine election was the cause which afterwards produced in him that foreseen faith. So the foreseen final continuance of Judas in sin and infidelity was not it which determined the divine will to pass by him in his decree of electing singular persons unto the infallibly attainment of eternal life, but being thus passed by, God foresees that through the voluntary obstinacy of his own will (not by any necessitating violence of God’s decree) he will live and die in sin and impenitency, for his voluntary sin and impenitency deserve and undergo eternal torments.

Those who in ordering the eternal decrees, place predestination and negative reprobation before the consideration of the fall, are not few for number, nor men of any late sect. Scotus with the whole army of Scotists,2 the greater number of the late School-Divines,are of this opinion: And Suarez by name, whose words are these, Probabiliorem existimo communem sententiam Theologorum asserentium electionem hominem prædestinatorum antecessisse permissionem originalis peccati.3

As for Calvin, he never troubled himself with these imaginary priorities and posteriorities in the eternal immanent operations of God: but all that he aimed at, was to prove, “That the fall foreseen could not be the cause or motive unto God of some men’s election and others’ reprobation.” As for the intuition or divine considertion of all mankind in statu lapso, Calvin in plain terms avouches it: Postquam Paulus, Deum ex perdita massa eligere & reprobare quos illi visim est docuit, quare & quomodo id fiat adeo non expedit ut potius expavescens, &c.

And this presupposition of sin considered in persons, whether elected or not elected, whether to be saved or to be damned, is most convenient for helping our understanding in this deep mystery. But if any shall thereby conceive that the eternal volitions or intuitions of God have any real posteriority or priority in the divine will and understanding, he deceives himself, and troubles others with vain jangling. Utilitas distinguendi hæc instantia rationis, non est, ut ille modus intelligendi retineater, sed ut viam aperiat veritati, quæ aperta relinquatur.

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), 20-22.

[Some spelling modernized; italics original; and underlining mine.]


1Davenant’s opponent.

2Lib. 1. dist. 41. Lib. 3. dist. 19.

3In 3. disp. 5. p. 103.

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