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Calvin and Calvinism » Blog Archive » William Twisse (1578–1646) on Bucer on Conditional Predestination”


Zanchius” (he says) “tells us roundly, that every man that is called, is bound to think he is elected;” but why does he not speak out and say, “that everyone is bound” (in the opinion of Zanchius) “to believe he is elected,” as formerly related to it. I grant to believe is to think, for credere, is defined to be cum assensione cogitare, but thoughts he knows are very wild, they have their course in dreams; as a hungry man may dream that he eats and drinks, but when he awakens, his soul is empty. And as for that doctrine of Zanchius, I have already given a fair interpretation of it, upon consideration that he speaks it of election not unto faith, but unto salvation: seeing God has manifested in his word his determination to give salvation to everyone that believes, it follows herehence, that everyone is bound to believe, that as many as do believe shall be saved: and consequently everyone that hears the Gospel is bound to believe, “that God has determined to bestow Salvation on him, in case he found to believe.” The like consideration may be given to Bucer’s Doctrine; namely, that God has predestinated him to obtain salvation in case he believe, not otherwise. For God has not predestinated any man of ripe years to obtain salvation, whether he believe or not. And seeing God has plainly professed that whosoever believes shall be saved. Mar. 16.16. If I do not accordingly believe, that God has predestinated me to obtain salvation in case I do believe, I do hereby make God to delude me saying, “Whosoever believes shall be saved.” And whereas this Author upon the back of this adds, “that a man therefore that is not predestinate, but an absolute reprobate,” when he is called to salvation is but deluded; and that this is the necessary result of our speeches.” All the color of this his inference, depends merely upon confusion of things that differ. For he distinguishes not between absolute predestination unto salvation, and predestination unto salvation absolute: likewise he distinguishes not between absolute reprobation unto damnation, and reprobation unto damnation absolute: neither does he distinguish between predestination unto faith, and predestination unto salvation; nor between reprobation from faith, and reprobation unto damnation. And the absoluteness of predestination appears only in predestination unto faith, not predestination unto salvation. For salvation on being bestowed on none of ripe years, but by way of reward of their faith, repentance and good works; hence it follows, that God predestinates none unto salvation of ripe years, but by way of reward of their obedience. But as for predestination unto faith, it is clear, that God purposes absolutely to bestow faith on whom he will. So on the other side, damnation being inflicted on none, but for sin God has destinated no man unto damnation but for sin. But as touching obduration, like as God hardens whom he will, so he decreed to proceed herein, to wit, in hardening of men according to the mere pleasure of his will, that is, absolutely. Now let us not suffer a cauterized conscience, to smother a plain truth, with the confusion of things, which are to be distinguished. Absolute is opposed to conditionate; and this distinction applied to God’s will is to be understood not quoad actum volentis, sed quoad res volitus; as for example, God decrees that a man shall be saved upon condition of faith, this is called voluntas conditionata, so Vossius expounds it. Hist. Pelag. lib. 7. p. 638. his words are these, “Aliqua vult cum conditione, quae ideirco in effectum non prodeunt nisi conditione impleta.” Some things (God) wills with a condition, which come not unto effect, but upon the fulfilling the condition; this is plainly understood, not of the act of willing, but of the things willed, which he calls aliqua, and in the instance he gives us this, quo modo omnes homines salvatri vult, sed per & propter Christum fide apprehensum, after which manner he will have all to be saved [I Tim. 2.4.], but by and for Christ apprehended by faith; where faith is plainly made the condition of salvation, not of God’s will; yet this will of God, he calls forthwith a conditionate will, and that according to the ancients, in these words de hac conditionata illa Dei voluntate extant longe plurima apud veteres Sciptores. By it is manifest, that voluntate conditionata, is by Vossius so called, and in his opinion of the ancients, “not on the part of God willing,” as if there were any conditions thereof, which Bradwardine has disproved as a thing impossible well near 200 years ago; but on the part of the things willed of God; now the things will of God are either absolute so willed, or conditionally; as an example, pardon of sin and salvation, are only conditionally willed by God: to wit, upon the condition of faith and repentance, but as for the gift of faith and repentance, they are willed by God to be bestowed absolutely, to wit, according to the mere pleasure of God’s will, hence it follows that the will of God to confer salvation, is only voluntas conditoinata, and denominates not a man absolutely predestinated, but only conditionally, still understanding it not quoad actum volentis, but quoad res volitas, as Vossius himself interprets it, and that according to the ancients. In like sort the will of God to inflict damnation, is a conditionate will according to the Fathers, and denominate not a man absolutely reprobated, but only conditionally. Now this being the will of that Zanchius and Bucer speak of, most preposterously does this Author shape a man hereupon, to be termed and absolute predestinate, or an absolute reprobate: for in this respect, like as the will of God in this case, is to be accounted not absoluta but conditionata, so the person denominated hereby, in all equity is to be accounted, not predestinated absolutely, but conditionally, not reprobated absolutely but conditionally. In this respect of another will of God, I willingly confess, one may be accounted predestinate absolutely, and another reprobated absolutely, to wit, in respect of the will of giving the grace of faith and repentance unto one, and denying it to another: And that because faith and repentance are not given and denied upon any condition, but absolutely, according to the mere pleasure of God; as we are ready to maintain. But herehence no species of contradiction arises, for like as it is not contradiction to say that God wills absolutely unto Paul the grace of faith and repentance, and conditionally wills unto him and everyone salvation, to wit, upon the condition of faith and repentance: In like sort, there is no contradiction to say that the same man predestinated absolutely unto faith, and conditionally unto salvation: In like sort it may said without all contradiction, that the same man is both reprobated absolutely from faith, and yet reprobated conditionally from glory unto condemnation. And lastly, in like manner, there is no contradiction to say, that the same man is predestinated conditionally to obtain salvation; and yet absolutely reprobated from faith: especially seeing it is all one, to be predestinated conditionally to obtain salvation, and conditionally to obtain damnation: for he that is ordained to be saved in case he do believe, is therewithal ordained to be damned in case he believe not: The ground whereof is, that of our Savior “whosoever believes shall be saved, whosoever believes not shall be damned.” Now if God may both will unto a man salvation conditionally, to wit, upon the condition he believes , and yet withal will the denial of faith absolutely unto him, without all contradiction, (as I have already proven) it follows, that without contradiction, a man may be said both to be predestinated to obtain salvation conditionally, viz. In case he do believe, and so to be predestinated absolutely, to be hardened, or to have the grace of faith denied to him. So that this Author’s conclusion depends merely upon confusion of different denominations of a man said to be absolutely, or conditionally predestinated: which may be in respect of different things whereto he is predestinated, to the one absolutely, to the other conditionally, and consequently without all contradiction. For he that is absolutely reprobated from the grace of faith, may yet be conditionally predestinated unto salvation. For to be conditionally predestinated unto salvation, is to be conditionally predestinated unto damnation, and what sober man will say man will say, that there is any contradiction in this, to say that the same man is both conditionally reprobated unto damnation, and absolutely reprobated from faith. Faith being such a gift of God, that like as God absolutely bestows it on some, so as absolutely he denies it to others. But as for condemnation, that is inflicted on none but for sin, like as salvation is bestowed on none of ripe years, but as reward of obedience. In like manner, God decreed not either to bestow the one, or inflict the other but conditionally, to wit, upon the condition of faith on the one side, and upon the condition of infidelity on the other. Now if such confusion be committed in these denominations of the predestinate and reprobate, absolutely and conditionally, one the part of things willed by God, as namely in respect of grace and glory on the one side, and in respect of the denial of grace and glory, together with inflicting damnation on the other; How much more must this confusion be augmented, if not only different things willed by God (as before mentioned) are confounded, but over and above the act of God’s will is confounded with things willed by him. For as the act of God’s will, that it admits no condition, I have formerly demonstrated by diverse arguments…

William Twisse, The Riches of God’s Love unto the Vessels of Mercy, consistent with his absolute hatred or reprobation of the Vessels of Wrath, (Oxford, 1653), 1:175-176. [Note: While much of what Twisse says here is complex, one thing that is obvious is that the language of conditional predestination can be traced as far back as Bucer, and so is not original to Amyraut. What is more, the conditional “decree” speaks to the revealed will, rather than the secret will, which further sustains Amyraut’s distinction and absolves him from the charge that he held to a conditional decree as expressive of the secret will.]

Credit to Marty

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 10:09 am and is filed under Conditional Decree/Conditional Will. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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