God, by turning a virtual or ordinative will, does will the turning and salvation even of the very pagans. According to that will, God would (as I have laid down) be seen in every creature, sought and felt in every place, witnessed in every shower and fruitful season, feared in the sea-bounding sand, humbled under in every abasing providence, and turned to in every judgment. Thus the very Philistines saw by the light of nature; “Give glory to God,” say they, “peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you,” (1 Sam. vi. 5). Also, the Ninevites’ counsel was, to cry mightily to God, and turn from their evil ways; who can tell,” say they, “if God will turn and repent,” (Jonah iii.8 , 9). In a word; the meaning of all God’s works is ” that men should fear before him,” Eccl. iii. 14). The goodness and patience of God leads them to repentance, (Rom. ii. 4). Hence the apostle tells us, ” The Lord is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter iii. 9). Mirus hic erga humanum genus amor, saith Calvin on the place, quod omnes vult esse salvos, et ultro pereuntes in salutem colligere pnratur est. God, in indulging his patience and long-suffering to men, doth virtually will their repentance and salvation. I know some interpret this place otherwise: God is long-suffering to us, that is, the agapetoi, in the former verse, not willing that any, viz. of us,) should perish, but that all,(vis., of us,) should come to repentance. But I conceive that there is no necessity at all that the text should be so straitened, nor yet congruity for longsuffering towards the beloved, that they, who have already repented, should come to repentance. Neither does this answer the scope of the place, which asserts, that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, upon this ground, because of his long-suffering: and his long-suffering extends to all, and in that extent its true end and scope is to lead them to repentance and salvation. Wherefore, the meaning is, God is long-suffering to us, not to us beloved only, but to us men, not willing our perdition but repentance. The true duct and tendency of his long-suffering is to lead men to repentance and salvation; and, therefore, in willing that long-suffering, he doth virtually and ordinatively will their repentance and salvation.

Edward Polhill, “The Divine Will Considered in its Eternal Decrees,” in The Works of Edward Polhill (Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 210-211. [Some spelling modernized, and underlining mine.]

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