Q. 52. Then let us hear your [the Reformed] proper opinion and explanation of all these points; and First, Whether God will not at all that all men should be saved?
A. God is naturally good and merciful towards all men.1 But also he is a just and angry God against the sins of men.2 Therefore he has indeed no pleasure in himself in the condemnation of any man, but wills that every man turn by repentance and be saved:3 Yet with this proviso, that he will also according to his Justice judge and punish those that will not be converted.4
Q. 53. But your men [the Reformed] teach that by the secret will of his Beneplacitum, he will not at all that all and every man should be saved, though externally after the revealed will, Voluntate signi, he make show of it.
A. They speak with Luther of that will of God which he wills wholly and altogether, so that it must certainly be done, of which it is written: He does whatsoever he will, Psal. 115:3 and 135:6. Isa. 46:10. Which the School-Divines have especially called the will of his Beneplacitum, because it is only fulfilled by, his good pleasure: And of this no man will say, no not the Lutherans, themselves wills that all men necessarily or inability must be saved.
Besides, ours deny not that God wills the salvation of all men thus far he has testified it in his word as the sign of his will, to which also the secret will of his beneplacitum is not contrary, which also some with Damascen called the Antecedent will of God, because herein is considered what God willed in and for himself before our works, according to the will of his goodness and mercy.
Namely First, Voluntate approbante: That for himself he has not delight or pleasure in their destruction but rather in their weal and salvation, Ezek. 18:32, and 33:11, 1 Tim. 2:4, and 2 Pet. 3:9.
Secondly, Præcipiente et promittente; that he has also ordered and earnestly commanded all men in general necessary means, what they shall do for their salvation, as the knowledge of God, Repentance, Faith, Love, Obedience, and thereupon faithfully promised salvation to all, Mich. 6:8, Eccl. 12:13, Rom. 1:20 and 21, Acts 17:30, Isa. 45:22; Tit. 2:11.
3. Operante, that he also leads to repentance by his effectual goodness and will do all that for their salvation which is convenient and sufficient in his Wisdom, Goodness, Righteousness, and Truth, that they should be converted, and have no excuse at all, as if it were not for lack of will in them, but of Grace in God, that they could not be converted. Rom. 2:4, Isa. 5:4, Ezek. 12:1, and 24:13, Math. 23:37, Act. 14:17 and 17:27, Rom. 1:20 and 21, Joh. 15:24.
4. Non tamen necessitante; but not that he will save them all unavoidably, and necessarily; but that he will also manifest his just anger against sin in many, who despite his goodness and grace, in their condemnation. Which some also call Consequent will of God; not that his Antecedent will is thereby changed, or is contrary to this consequent will, but because he has ordered this after the works of men, and for the sake of them, by the will of his just judgment, Rom. 2:5, 9, 22, 23, and 11:20 and 22, and Acts 13:46.
Some indeed are of the opinion, as also Augustine Enchir. c. 95. 103, that the other only is properly called the will of God, which is properly called the will of God, which he will infallibly fulfill, because it seems something absurd, that God should will something and yet it should not be done; as if the will of God could be hindered by the will of Man, or did depend upon it. But that yet it is also the true earnest inward will of God, what he wills that men out of due Obedience should do, although withal he leaves them in free power and liberty that they may omit it out of disobedience, is many ways taught in Scripture. For all the Precepts, Promises, Threatenings, Warnings, Exhortations of God, are all testimonies of this will, and signify a very serious inward desire of God to men; also all the punishments and rewards, and all the judgments of God are effects of this will, seeing God even therefore is so vehemently angry and punishes the wicked, because they have not done what they should do; even as contrarily he so richly rewards the godly for this that they have done his will. And yet it follows not that the will of God properly depends upon the will of man, or is hindered by it, but only that God wills some works of men should depend on man’s will, so that he might omit the good which God wills and loves, and do the evil which God wills not but hates. Whereby yet he hinders not the will of God, by only his own Salvation, which God wills not absolutè and simpliciter, not simply and absolutely, or that all must therefore necessarily be saved, but only so, that men may lose it by disobedience, when he will not do the gracious will of God to his Salvation, and must therefore suffer the judicial will of God to his condemnation; Ut hoc ipso quod contra voluntatem Dei faciunt, de ipsis fiat voluntatem Dei. Aug. Enchir. c. 100.
Johannes Bergius, The Pearle of Peace & Concord. Or A Treatise of Pacification Betwixt the dissenting Churches of Christ, (London: Printed by T.C. For John Rothwell, at the Fountain and Bear in Cheap-side; and John Wright, at the Kings Head in the Old Bayly 1655), 51-55. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; footnote formatting and values modernized; square bracketed inserts mine; and underlining mine. On title page the second 5 in the date 1655, the imprint date, has been crossed out and replaced with “54,” by hand.]
[Notes: 1) The purpose of this work was to delineate the common theological ground between conservative Lutherans and the Reformed. 2) This 1655 edition was a translation of an original German work published about 1635, according to the translator. I am trying to pin down the exact original publishing date.]
1Psal. 145:9; Deut. 33:3; Prov. 8:31; Wisd. 11:25; Mat. 5:45; Tit. 2:11, and 3, 4.
3Ezek. 18:32 and 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4; Tit. 2:11, 12; and 2 Pet. 3:9.
4Psal. 7:12, 13; Jer. 18:9, 10; and Heb. 10:16, 27.