Hunnius – On God’s Gracious Will
290. B. We have now to consider the proposition that God, for the purpose of carrying into effect His gracious purposes concerning the wellbeing of men, has appointed certain, means and ordinances. Though it is the will of God, that all men shall be saved, yet they are not to arrive at this end, without certain means, which it is quite in their power to reject or to avail themselves of, thus enjoying perfect liberty in all their actions. On the contrary certain rules have been laid down and means provided, which are accessible to all men, who thereby may become heirs of eternal life.
291. To which end He has, more especially, sent His Son, who has taken upon him human nature, and having suffered for the sins of mankind has reconciled them to their heavenly Father. These facts are to be preached to men, in order that they might be seriously induced to repent and to accept of this redemption, and not to reject it; to trust to their Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ, and not to doubt their being graciously accepted by God. He justifies them by this faith; and regenerating them by his word and sacrament, he strengtheneth their faith by the word and sacrament etc. These are the means by which He desires man to be saved.
292. That the employment of these means is indeed the will of God, can be proved from the fact of His having revealed His will accordingly: Ezek. 18, 21: “If the wicked will turn from all his sins, that he hath committed.,.. he shall surely live and not die,” v. 24: “When the righteous tumeth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity… in his sin that he hath committed he shall surely die;” Mark. 16, 16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned:” John. 3, 18: “He that believeth on him (the Son) is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already, because be hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of the Father; 1 Timot. 2, 4: “Who (God) will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth;” 2 Petr. 3, 9: “(the Lord) is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” From which we learn that God will have all men to be saved, but with the condition, that this salvation be effected in the manner He has thought fit to ordain; which is: that the ungodly return from his evil ways; that the just always remains in his righteousness; that the sinner repent, and come to the knowledge of the truth in the faith of Jesus Christ.; it is in this way only (and by no other means) that the will of God can be accomplished concerning man.
293. Another point for our consideration is: that God Has, in this very important affair, thoroughly revealed His will in His word, and that He cannot be said, to promise in His word one thing, which in His secret counsel He has determined differently. This assertion scarcely stands in need of any proofs; for:
294. a. Such an impression is quite in contradiction to the light of nature [that is within us], seeing that every man must be convinced of the fact, that such a.supposition could only be stated by an ungodly man.
295. b. It is contrary to all that, which God Has revealed concerning His faithfulness. He is not a man that He should lie, but all His words are true, and that which He has promised He performs, Numb. 23, 19; 1 Sam. 15, 29; Psalm. 33, 4; Tit. 1, 2.
296. If we were permitted to imagine that, God promises one thing in His word, and then determines differently in His counsel, — it would come to this, that nobody would have any confidence in the revealed word. For it would then always remain a subject of uncertainty, whether God is indeed so minded, as it is expressed in His word, or whether He has not determined differently in His counsel. Thus circumstanced, the Christian faith would indeed be at an end, since no body would be able to put a simple minded and sure confidence into the benevolent assurances of God. But we know, on the contrary, that our faith is to be founded upon a rock; that is, our faith is to be build upon an assurance and conviction of the faithfulness of God and His word, of so firm a nature, that neither flood nor storm, that is, neither temptation, nor danger nor assault might be able to subdue or to destroy it, Matth. 7, 24 25. The divine word therefore, from which comes the faith, Rom. 10, 17, must stand so sure, that nobody should have any reason to doubt its integrity; which could not be the case, if it were not certain, that God is indeed intending to carry out every thing, which He is promising in this word.
297. God is not contradicting Himself when He desires the salvation also of wicked men, and yet also wills (because He is aware of their determination to remain in their evil ways) that those who obstinately reject His gracious offers should be damned. This question has been admirably expounded by our Lord Jesus Christ, in his two parables concerning the marriage feast of the king, and concerning that of the great supper: Matth. 22, 1. and Luk. 14, 16.
298. We observe, in both instances, that the giver of these feasts are said to have had two sets of purposes, which are:
1. A gracious will, a joyful inclination, in consequence of which they strove, for the wellbeing of the invited guests, and desired them to enjoy, all their wealth, and
2. A judgment will, in consequence of which, they determined that those who had been invited and who had ungratefully and uncourteously rejected the offer, should ultimately not be allowed to enjoy their grace and bounty. Both these determinations do not at all contradict each other, although, in the one case, the guests are desired to enjoy the feast, whilst in the other that boon is denied them.
299. In the same way our Lord can be said to have two determinations, of which the one is the gracious will, which by some of the Fathers has been called the preceeding will; because God, in determining it, was not previously waiting for man’s committing actions of piety, or wickedness, or gratitude or ingratitude, obedience or disobedience — but is offering to all, without any exception, grace and salvation. — The second is called the judgment will, which some of the Fathers have called the subsequent or succeeding will, because it is said of Him, that He forms His determination according as men have accepted and availed himself of the kind and merciful offer of God. And if they have rejected and despised it, He meets them with disgrace and condemnation, rejecting them from before Him. Just as God, therefore, is desirous in His merciful purposes, of the wellbeing of men — so also does He determine, for the sake of His justice, that all those shall be saved, which have accepted the proffered grace; which blessing is to be denied to all those who reject His grace.
300. It can therefore be said, of God, that He is dealing with us like kind and pious rulers. They do desire nothing more earnestly than the welfare of their subjects; which latter they will always exhort in a kind and affectionate manner; yea they will even intreat them to behave well, that they might be able to enjoy all the benefits consequent to a proper me. And if it happens that these affectionate cares are rejected, and the requests and entreaties of the rulers not attended to; but that they are, on the contrary, laughed to scorn and then: good advices openly spoken against — then the gracious purposes must, ultimately cease, and justice take its course. Upon which the rulers finally will cease to be careful of the welfare of such misbehaved subjects, and of course have them punished.
301. In all such cases, the king, the father or the rulers cannot be said to have contradicted themselves, although under certain conditions they would have been inclined to do a thing, which in others they refuse to do. In the same way it cannot be said of God that He is contradicting Himself, if, in the one case, He is said to desire the salvation of all men, and in the other, — their condemnation.
From Chapter 13 ‘On God’s Merciful Purposes’ of the Epitome Credendorum.