["Amandus Polanus vons Polansdorf studied at Tubingen, Basel, and Geneva. He was appointed professor of Old Testament at Basel in 1596 and served as dean of the theological faculty from 1598-1609. His dogmatic works are Partitiones theologicae, pars I (1590), pars II (1596); Syntagma theologiae christianae (1609)." Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 1:44 (first edition).]
And this much touching the wisdom of God. Now follows concerning his will.
The will of God is an essential property of God, by which he wills all things that he wills, and that from all eternity, of himself also, and that by one constant act.
And this will is most free, so that God does not anything, or command or suffer it to be done, but freely willing it: whereupon also it is called God’s most free will.
And because it does not depend of any other former beginning out of itself, it alone properly deserves to be called free will.
And indeed and truth it is but one will, because it is the very essence of God. Howbeit in respect of us, it is sundry, ways distinguished.
1. The will of God is either his will of effecting, or of permitting only.
His will of effecting, is that according to which God effects all good things, whether it be by himself or by others.
The will of permitting is that, according to which God suffers sin to be committed: for God certainly does willingly permit sin, and not unwillingly, that is to say, against his will and enforced (for who can constrain God?). And this he does for a double end: first that he might manifest the infirmity and weakness of the creature, because it cannot stand, unless it it be every moment upheld in uprightness by God. Secondly, that by this occasion, God might declare, either his mercy and power, in delivering the elect from sin, or else his justice and power in punishing the reprobate for their sin.
2. Again the will of God is either absolute or conditional.
The absolute will of God is it, b which he did with himself from eternity simply will whatsoever in due time, he would either do, or permit. Psal. 115.3. and 135.. 6; Isai. 46.10; John. 1.14; John. 6.39; Rom. 9.18; Ephes. 1.11.
It is also called, and that by Synecdoche the will of his good pleasure: also his consequent will, because it I assuredly ensues, and is fulfilled, and because it belongs to such things, as at the last ensure, and are accomplished.
By this will, he has from everlasting chosen unto eternal life, whom he would, and reprobated also whom he would.
By this he willed to create the world: by this he gave Messiah: by this he will raise up at the last all the dead.
And as it is unchangeable, so it cannot by any mean or way, be let or hindered.
By this all things are done necessarily, that is to say, whatsoever God wills by his absolute will, that is necessarily done: for this will of God, is the necessity of things. So says Augustine lib. 6. de Genes. ad literam. cap. 15.
The conditional will of God is that by which God wills certain things, with a condition adjoined thereunto.
And this is called the will of sign, because God does declare and manifest the same, both in precepts and prohibition, and also in promises, and threatenings, as it were by signs.
It is also called the antecedent will, because it goes before the reward or the punishment, that is propounded in the promises, or in the threatenings.
By this, God will have all men to be saved and to come to the acknowledgment of truth: to with, if they believe the promises and preaching of the Gospel, and also obey the same. And therefore he calls and invites all men of all sorts and degrees (and therefore magistrates also) to the fellowship of salvation, and to the confession of the truth: yet he commands all to work their own salvation, and to come to the acknowledging of his truth, though all do it not. 1. Timoth. 2.4.
By this will Christ would have gathered together the Israelites, as a hen does her chickens, Luk. 13.34 to wit, unless they that were called had refused to come.
This will is manifested, not by our conjectures, but only out of his word.
And it is the square of all our works, and the perfect rule of all righteousness and holiness.
Neither is this will of God dissembled or counterfeit, as though God commanded many things, which he would not: for example, when Genes. 22. he commanded Abraham to offer his son, and yet afterwards forbad it. Whatsoever God commands that he wills. So he commanded that Abraham should offer up his son, to wit, in will, in mind, & in appointing him for a burnt offering, for so God tried his faith and readiness to obey his commandments, and not that Abraham should indeed kill and slay his son Isaac, though Abraham did so understand the word of offering: and this the Lord himself does sufficiently declare when in vers. 12. he says, “Now I know & have tried that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not spared or withheld thy son even thy only son from me.”
3. Besides, the will of God, is either revealed and secret, or hidden.
The revealed will is that which is manifested unto men, either by the word of God or by event: for that which falls out, therefore falls out, because God would have it fall out.
The secret or hidden will, is also laid open and manifested, in that time that God has set.
4. Moreover, the will of God, is either the goodness of God, or the justice of God.
Amandus Polanus, The Substance of Christian Religion, (London: Arn. Hatfield for Felix Norton, dwelling in Paules Chuchyard, at the sign of the Parrot, 1600), 11-16.