Ford:

Obj. If God be so willing, that men should repent and believe, why do they not repent and believe? “For who has resisted his will,” Rom. 9:19. This we find by ourselves, that if he will do ought, we do it if we can; and if we do it not, it is because we have not power to do as we would.

Sol. For the will the God, as to the salvation of all, I case they do repent and believe, there is no question; and so (as I remember) some understand the Apostle, 1 Tim. 2:4. But that is not the question, but this rather, “How God wills the repentance of men, who never repent. For seeing God can do whatever he will, why are not they converted? And to this I answer, “That God wills the conversion of sinners, so as their conversion is well-pleasing to him, and accepted with him; as on the contrary, he is displeased with sinners, so long as they live in impenitency. “The holy angels rejoice over the sinner that repents,” [Luke 15:10.], and God much more, seeing it is his command, that they repent. And how should God will men’s repentance, otherwise than he does? He declares his will in his command, and in his promise of acceptance, and in his refusing none upon their repentance; and for any other will of God, concerning this or that man’s repentance, who knows it, or where has God revealed it? What! Would you have God to decree and effect the conversion of all and everyone, whether they will no no? If ay say, No; but we would have God to deal with all indifferently, as being all the world of his hands: I answer, “That saving to God but so much liberty, as all men ordinarily take to themselves, his dealings with men are indifferent, and his ways most equal, seeing he has so prepared, as men need not perish, except they will themselves.” And therefore, I say once more, they perish and due in their sins, only because they chose the ways of their destruction. How then dare any man make any further question about God’s will of saving men, when he has so decreed, and so provided, that men may be saved if they will? I mean it thus, “If they do not willingly refuse their salvation, when it is offered them; by an obstinate rejecting the way he commands them to walk in, and to which they are invited and encouraged by his promise, wherein it is impossible that he should lie. And this we affirm still, according to what has been said before.

Obj. Seeing it is God’s will, that men shall be damned, in case they believe not, it does not appear, that there is in God a will of saving, rather than a will of damning, because there is in all men a proneness and inclination to unbelief and impenitency, more than to faith and repentance.

Sol. We grant, there is a proneness and inclination in all men by nature, to unbelief and impenitency, with an untowardness and enmity to faith and repentance. But we say again, as before,

“That men may repent and believe, if they will. For men are not damned, for that they cannot repent, though they never so willing to it; but they are damned only because they will not repent, nor turn from their evil ways, but wilfully go on in them, against all means, and methods used for the reclaiming of them.”

And may not God then say, and swear too, as he does, Ezek. 33:11, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.’”

Thomas Ford, Autokatakritos, or, The Sinner Condemned of Himself (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold by Giles Widowes, at the Maiden-head, over against the Half-Moon, in Aldersgate-street, near Jewen-street, 1668), 228-230. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

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