Posts Tagged ‘God’s Decrees’

Studies in The Baptist Catechism: Section Three – The Decrees of God (Q.15)

William F. Leonhart III

Q.15: What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?

A. When God created man, He entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience: forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.1

1Galatians 3:12; Genesis 2:17

“COVENANT THEOLOGY, SIMPLY STATED, is the view of God and redemption that interprets the Holy Scriptures by way of covenants,” (Earl Blackburn, Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive, pg. 17).

What we see in Genesis 2 is not only an account of the creation of Adam and Eve. In the garden, God and man entered into a covenant. God bestowed certain benefits upon Adam; He gave him life and all the provisions he needed to sustain life in the garden. He created man sinless and in….




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Studies in The Baptist Catechism: Section Three – The Decrees of God (Q.14)

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

William F. Leonhart III

Q.14: What are God’s works of providence?

A. God’s works of providence are His most holy,1 wise,2 and powerful preserving3 and governing of all His creatures, and all their actions.4



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Studies in The Baptist Catechism: Section Three – The Decrees of God (Q.13)

February 16, 2017 Leave a comment

William F. Leonhart III

Alfred Hitchcock is accredited with having said, “Self-plagiarism is style.” While my views have changed since writing the paper “Trinitarian Foundations for Christian Education,” I have largely used its material in this section of our Studies in The Baptist Catechism series. As you can observe, the sections taken from the paper have been altered to reflect a change in views. I no longer take the ESS view of the Trinity in marking the unity and diversity of man, but rather point to the economic Trinity.


Q.13: How did God create man?

A. God created man, male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.1




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Studies in The Baptist Catechism: Section Three – The Decrees of God (Q.11-12)

William F. Leonhart III

Q.11: How doth God execute His decrees?

A. God executeth His decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Under the headings of creation and providence, God accomplishes all of His good purposes. Thereby, He creates, sustains, and directs all things toward His own desired, good, and glorious ends. Nothing that comes into existence does so without God’s decree. Likewise, nothing that comes to pass does so without God’s decree. God is the prime Actor in all of creation and is necessary for its continued existence.




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Studies in The Baptist Catechism: Section Three – The Decrees of God (Q.10)

William F. Leonhart III

Q.10: What are the decrees of God?

A. The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.1

1Ephesians 1:4, 11; Romans 9:22-23; Isaiah 46:10; Lamentations 3:37

Moving along in our discussion of what man ought to believe concerning God, let us pivot a bit from what God is to what God does. Now, these two aspects of God should not be divorced from one another. Obviously, what God is will determine what God does. When we say that God is good, after all, we are claiming that God is the ultimate standard of all that is good. In order to properly define what good is requires that we do so in reference to what God is. It also requires that we do so in reference to what God does.

The first step in examining what God does is to look to His eternal decrees. In the decrees of God, we find the Source and Purpose for all that occurs, whether in the secret counsels of God or in the created order, from eternity to eternity. God Himself is the Source of everything that occurs. He is also the Purpose. The Westminster Assembly put it this way:




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Free Founders Journal Out Now

51 page Pdf on God’s Decrees- Fall 2016/ Issue 106


Introduction: Decrees | Tom Nettles

The Nature of God’s Eternal Decree An exposition of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Chapter 7 “The Decree of God” From the 1689 London Baptist Confession | Tom Hicks

Predestined to Eternal Life Glory Hidden in the Mystery | Jared Longshore

Reprobation and the Second London Confession “the Second London Confession affirms reprobation, a doctrine which has been and continues to be the subject of much controversy” | Richard Blaylock

Like a Stone? The Perfect Confluence of God’s Providence And Human Freedom | Aaron Matherly

The High Mystery of Predestination An exposition of Paragraph 3 of Chapter 7 “The Decree of God” From the 1689 London Baptist Confession | Fred Malone

Book Review The Gospel Heritage of Georgia Baptists: 1772–1830 by Brandon F. Smith and Kurt M. Smith | Reviewed by Tom Nettles


Source [Founders]

Works of God- Creation- Book Third- Chapter 2

September 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Book Third




Originally, nothing existed but God; no matter, out of which visible things were formed, and no spiritual substance, out of which angels and human souls were made; but God gave to all things that exist their entire being.

It has been argued that matter cannot be eternal, because self-existence is too noble a property to be attributed to an inferior nature; but this argument is not satisfactory. Why may not a small thing exist without a cause, as well as a greater? The producing of some particular effect we may conceive to be easier for a higher nature than a lower; but, is self-production, the effect is equal to the cause, and the difficulty of producing it must be as great for the one nature as for the other. In all such a priori reasoning, we are liable to deceive ourselves; and perhaps the danger is greatest where the reasoning appears most profound. For aught that philosophy can teach us, an atom of matter is absolutely indestructible; and, on philosophical principles, if it must exist through future eternity, it may have existed through past eternity. The miracle of creation is as far beyond the demonstrations of philosophy as the miracle of annihilation. When we have proved the existence of a God, able to work miracles, a probability arises that matter may be a production of his power, and we may see creative intelligence displayed in the properties and quantities of the various kinds of matter, and their adaptedness to beneficial purposes. But, for decisive proof that all things were made out of nothing, we turn to the word of God, and receive it as a truth of faith, rather than of reason. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”[2]

In the text just quoted, the doctrine of creation is not expressed in the language in which it is most commonly stated. It is not said the world was made out of nothing; but the same idea is expressed in a different manner. When we see a statue, we see the marble of which it consists; and when we see a house, we see the materials of which it is constructed. Paul teaches that the world which we see was not made of the visible substances that we behold, i.e., it was not formed of pre-existent matter, but the materials of which it now appears to be formed, were brought into existence at the time when the things themselves were created.

The work of creation was performed without effort. God spake, and it was done. He said, let there be light, and there was light. After working six days, he rested on the seventh; not because he was weary, but that the seventh day might be sanctified, and made a day of rest for man. Wherefore it is said, the sabbath was made for man.[3]

From an examination of the earth’s crust, geologists have discovered, as they think, that animals and plants existed long before the Mosaic date of creation. Methods have been proposed to reconcile the account, as contained in the first chapter of Genesis, with these professed discoveries. Some have supposed each of the days of creation to have been a long period of years. The seventh day of rest, or cessation from the work of creating, they understand to have continued to the present time, though nearly six thousand years have passed; and they suppose that each of the preceding days may have included an equally long period. Others understand “the beginning” mentioned in the first verse of the history, to refer to a time long anterior to that referred to in the second verse, “the earth was without form, &c.” A similar transition, though not so sudden, is made in the first chapter of John: “In the beginning was the word;–and the word was made flesh.”[4] Many divines have been disposed to regard the science of geology with suspicion, and to consider its deductions as inimical to the faith. But there can be no just ground to fear science, in any of its departments, so long as it pursues its investigations legitimately, and makes its deductions with becoming modesty. The Author of the Bible is the maker of the world, and the author of all truth; and his works and his word must harmonize, for the truth is always consistent. Passages in his word have been thought to be inconsistent with each other; but a more careful examination has shown their harmony, and we need not fear but that due investigation will show the word to be consistent will all the legitimate deduction of science.

The undersigned coincidences which have been discovered in the Scripture narratives, constitute a highly satisfactory part of the internal evidence which the Bible contains, that its records are true. The proof which these furnish is always the more satisfactory, the more manifest it is that the coincidence was undesigned. When two portions of Scripture, which appeared to disagree with each other, have been found, on careful investigation, to be perfectly harmonious, a coincidence has been discovered, that has the best possible evidence that it was undesigned. In this way the supposed discrepancies, which at first embarrassed us, turn out to the establishment of our faith; and when some still remain which we have not yet learned to harmonize, we are taught to wait patiently, with the confident expectation that these dark places also will at some time be illuminated. The same faith and patience should be exercised when science and Scripture are supposed to disagree. The infidel delights to point out apparent discrepancies in Scripture, and he exults when he can announce some supposed discovery of science inconsistent with the word of revelation. While the infidel triumphs, men of weak faith stagger; but it is truly a weak faith that cannot withstand such a shock. We might as well doubt whether the sun shines, when his brilliance is eclipsed by a passing cloud. The mass of evidence that the Bible is the true word of God, is so great that we can ill afford to wait till the temporary cloud passes, with the confident expectation that the light will again shine, perhaps with increased splendor. Geology is yet a recent science. What it will do ultimately for the cause of truth, future years must decide, and it is unwise to fear the result. We may trust that the ark of God will be carried through safely. Already, to some extent, the discoveries of the new science have turned out to the establishment of the faith. It has penetrated a very small distance below the earth’s surface, and, in the successive deposits of animal remains, it has found a record from which it professes to read the order in which the various species of animals came into being. Between this record and that of Moses, there is an undesigned coincidence. It is especially remarkable that, by the general consent of geologists, human remains are found only in the last of the animal deposits. This fact points to a time agreeing well with the Mosaic date of creation, when men began to exist, and when, of course, a creating power was exerted. If geology can establish that, previous to this, a convulsion of nature desolated the earth, and buried a whole generation of inferior animals in its caverns, be it so. We will listen to her arguments, and weigh them well; but we cannot omit to notice the agreement of her facts with the faithful record of inspiration. If geology were to carry back the origin of the human race to a date long anterior to that of Moses she would contradict, not only the Bible, but all history, written and traditionary. It cannot be accounted for, that our knowledge of ancient history should be limited to so recent a period, if the race had previously existed through thousands of generations. The progress in the settlement of the world, the establishment of ancient kingdoms, and the building of cities, are spread out before us on the pages of history, and geology does not contradict the record.

Although science will never contradict Scripture, it may correct erroneous inferences from it, and, in doing this, may incidentally demonstrate the wisdom from which the Bible emanated. When we have arrived at mature years, we call to mind instructions that we received in our childhood from a wise father, and that were adapted to the purpose for which they were designed. They did not teach the sciences which we have since learned, but they taught us nothing contrary; and we are now able to see, in what was said and what was omitted to be said, that the father fully understood the sciences, which it was then no part of his design to teach us. Had he not understood them, he would have employed other forms of speech, and we should be able to recollect some word or words that would betray his ignorance. So the false revelations of the heathen world contradict science. Some of them contradict the very first lessons in geography, and a child in a christian school can prove them to be false. But science, in all its advancement, though it has made its greatest attainments in the lands where the Bible is most known, has found nothing in the Bible to contradict. The only rational way to account for this, is to suppose that the Author of the Bible understood the sciences. We nowhere read in this work that the earth is supported by an elephant, and that the elephant stands on a tortoise; but we read, “He hangeth the earth upon nothing,”[5] a statement which, made in the very infancy of revelation, may satisfy us that the author of the Bible understood the mechanism of the universe. In a past age of ignorance, men supposed that Joshua’s command to the sun to stand still, disproved the Copernican system of astronomy; but this childish inference from the language of Scripture, is now well understood to be unwarranted. Men of science, who firmly believe the Copernican system, speak as freely of the sun rising and the sun setting, as those who never have heard that these appearances are owing to the earth’s rotation. Future science may teach us to correct other erroneous inferences which many have drawn from the Scripture; and we should be content to learn. The result will give further proof that the Author of Nature is the author of the Bible.

Our hearts receive a strong impression of the power, wisdom and goodness of the Lord, when we dwell on the thought that he made the heavens and the earth, with all that they contain. Above all, when we reflect that he made us, and not we ourselves, we are constrained to acknowledge his right to require what service, praise and glory we are capable of rendering. He is the former of our bodies, and the father of our spirits; and shall we not render to him that which is his own? Shall we not serve and glorify him with our bodies and our spirits, which are his? His right, by virtue of redemption, may present stronger claims, but his right by virtue of creation , is sufficient to establish our obligation, and we ought to recognise its force.

[1] Gen. i.; Neh. ix. 6; Job ix. 9; Ps. lxxxix. 11; xcv. 5; ciii. 19; civ. 4, 19; Col. i. 16; Rev. iv. 11; Heb. iii. 4; xi. 3; Acts xvii. 24.

[2] Heb. xi.3.

[3] Mark ii.27.

[4] John i. 1-14.

[5] Job xxvi. 7.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Will and Works of God- Book Third- Introduction

Book Third



If any one supposes that religion consists merely of self-denial and painful austerities, and that it is filled with gloom and melancholy, to the exclusion of all happiness, he greatly mistakes its true character. False religions, and false views of the true religion, may be liable to this charge; but the religion which has God for its author, and which leads the soul to God, is full of peace and joy. It renders us cheerful amidst the trials of life, contented with all the allotments of Divine Providence, happy in the exercises of piety and devotion, and joyful in the hope of an endless felicity. Heaven is near in prospect; and, while on the way to that world of perfect and eternal bliss, we are permitted, in some measure, to anticipate its joys, being, even here, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.[2] We are enabled, not only to pursue our pilgrimage to the good land with content and cheerfulness, but even to “delight ourselves in the Lord.”[3] Our happiness is not merely the absence of grief and pain, but it is positive delight.

The delight which attends other religious exercises should be felt in the investigation of religious truth, and should stimulate to diligence and perseverance. Divine truth is not only sanctifying, but it is also beatifying. To the ancient saints it was sweeter than honey and the honey-comb;[4] and the early Christians, in “believing” the truth as it is in Jesus, “rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”[5] If we loved the truth as we ought, we should experience equal delight in receiving it; and careful investigation of it would be a source of pure and abiding pleasure. It would not suffice to employ our intellectual powers in the discussion of perplexing questions appertaining to religion, but we should find a rich feast in the truth that may be known and read by all. The man who indulges his skeptical doubts, and suffers himself to be detained by questions to no profit, is like one who, when a bountiful feast is spread before him, instead of enjoying the offered food, employs himself in examining a supposed flaw in the dish in which it is served. The glorious truths which are plainly revealed concerning God, and the things of God, are sufficient to enable every one to delight himself in the Lord.

We have before seen that love to God lies at the foundation of true religion. Love, considered as simple benevolence, has for its object the production of happiness, and not the receiving of it. But, by the wise arrangements of infinite goodness, the producing of happiness blesses him that gives as well as him that receives. It is even “more blessed to give than to receive.”[6] But when God is the object of our love, as we cannot increase his happiness, we delight in it as already perfect; and all the outflowing of our love to him, finding the measure of his bliss already full, returns back on ourselves, filling us also with the fulness of God. God is love; and to love God with all the heart is to have the heart filled, to the full measure of its capacity, with the blessedness of the divine nature. This is the fulness of delight.

In the existence and attributes of God a sufficient foundation is laid for the claim of supreme love to him; but, for the active exercise of the holy affection, God must be viewed not merely as existing, but as acting. To produce delight in him, his perfections must be manifested. So we enjoy the objects of our earthly love by their presence with us, and display of those qualities which attract our hearts. Heaven is full of bliss, because its inhabitants not only love God, but see the full manifestations of his glory. To enjoy God on earth, we must contemplate him in such manifestations of himself as he has been pleased to make to us who dwell on his footstool. These we may discover in the declarations of his will, and in his works, which are the execution of his will. In a contemplation of these, the pious heart finds a source of pure, elevating delight.

When the Son of God consented to appear in human nature for the salvation of man, he said: “I delight to do thy will, O my God.”[7] If the same mind were in us that was in Christ Jesus, we, too, would delight in the will of God. We should be able to say with David, “I will delight myself in thy commandments;” and with Paul, “I delight in the law of God.” We should yield obedience to every precept, not reluctantly, but cheerfully; not cheerfully only, but with joy and delight. It would be to us meat and drink to do the will of God, as it was to our blessed Lord. Our religious enjoyment would consist not merely in receiving good from God, but in rendering active service to him; like the happy spirits before the throne, who serve God day and night, and delight in his service. Not only should we delight to render personal service to our Sovereign, but we should desire his will to be done by all others, and should rejoice in his universal dominion. “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.”

As the ancient saints delighted in the will and government of God, so they delighted in his works. They saw in them the manifestations of his wisdom, power, and goodness; and they delighted to meditate on them. His glory, displayed in the heavens, and his handy work, visible in earth, they contemplated with holy pleasure. They rejoiced to remember, “It is he that made us;” and, in approaching him with religious worship, they were accustomed to address him as the Creator of all things; “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”[8]

The goodness displayed in God’s work awakens gratitude in the pious man. While he enjoys the gift, he recognises [sic] the hand which bestows it; and each blessing is rendered more dear, because conferred by him whom he supremely loves. He sees in creation a vast store-house of enjoyment, and blesses the author of it. He receives from the providence of God the innumerable benefits which are every day bestowed, and he blesses the kind bestower. God is in every mercy, and his heart, in enjoying it, goes out ever to God, with incessant praise and thanksgiving.

The trail of our delight in God is experienced when affliction comes. The pious man feels that this, too, is from the hand of God. So thought all the saints, of whose religious exercises the Bible gives us an account. They bowed under affliction in the spirit of resignation to God, as the author of the affliction. So Job,[9] “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” So David,[10] “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” So Eli,[11] “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” So Paul’s companions,[12] “We ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done.” The ancient saints believed in an overruling Providence, and they received all afflictions as ordered by him, in every particular; and on this faith the resignation was founded by which their eminent piety was distinguished. To the flesh, the affliction was not joyous, but grievous, and, therefore, they could not delight in it, when considered in itself; but, when enduring it with keenest anguish, they could still say, with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” They firmly believed that the dispensation was wisely and kindly ordered, and that God would bring good out of the evil; and, however oppressed with suffering, and filled with present sorrow, they still trusted in God; and delight in him alleviated their misery, and mingled with their sorrows.

Let love to God burn in our hearts while we contemplate his existence and attributes. Let delight in him rise to the highest rapture of which earthly minds are susceptible, while we study his will and works. The grand work of redemption, into which the angels especially desire to look, and which is the chief theme of the song of the glorified, is fitted to produce higher ecstasy; but even the themes of creation and providence may fill us with delight, if we approach them as we ought. When the foundations of the earth were laid, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; and angels now delight to be the ministers of God’s providence. Let us, with like devotion to Almighty God, delight in his will and works.

[1] Ps. xxxvii. 4. Delight thyself in the Lord.

Ps. xl. 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God.

Ps. cxix. 47. I will delight myself in thy commandments.

Rom. vii. 22. I delight in the law of God.

Ps.. cvii. 22. Declare his works with rejoicing.

[2] Eph. i. 3

[3] Ps. xxxvii. 4.

[4] Ps. xix. 10.

[5] 1 Pet. i. 8.

[6] Acts xx. 35.

[7] Ps. xl. 8.

[8] Acts iv. 24.

[9] Job i. 21.

[10] Ps. xxxix. 9.

[11] 1 Sam. iii. 18.

[12] Acts xxi. 14.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Objection answered, that there must be two contrary wills in God, refuted and why the one simple will of God seems to us as if it were manifold

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015These objections originate in a spirit of pride and blasphemy. Objection, that there must be two contrary wills in God, refuted. Why the one simple will of God seems to us as if it were manifold.

3. As I have hitherto stated only what is plainly and unambiguously taught in Scripture, those who hesitate not to stigmatize what is thus taught by the sacred oracles, had better beware what kind of censure they employ. If, under a pretense of ignorance, they seek the praise of modesty, what greater arrogance can be imagined than to utter one word in opposition to the authority of God — to say, for instance, “I think otherwise,” — “I would not have this subject touched?” But if they openly blaspheme, what will they gain by assaulting heaven? Such petulance, indeed, is not new. In all ages there have been wicked and profane men, who rabidly assailed this branch of doctrine. But what the Spirit declared of old by the mouth of David, (Psalm 51:6,) they will feel by experience to be true — God will overcome when he is judged. David indirectly rebukes the infatuation of those whose license is so unbridled, that from their groveling spot of earth they not only plead against God, but arrogate to themselves the right of censuring him. At the same time, he briefly intimates that the blasphemies which they belch forth against heaven, instead of reaching God, only illustrate his justice, when the mists of their calumnies are dispersed. Even our faith, because founded on the sacred word of God, is superior to the whole world, and is able from its height to look down upon such mists.

Their first objection — that if nothing happens without the will of God, he must have two contrary wills, decreeing by a secret counsel what he has openly forbidden in his law — is easily disposed of. But before I reply to it, I would again remind my readers, that this cavil is directed not against me, but against the Holy Spirit, who certainly dictated this confession to that holy man Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away,” when, after being plundered by robbers, he acknowledges that their injustice and mischief was a just chastisement from God. And what says the Scripture elsewhere? The sons of Eli “hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them,” (1 Samuel 2:25.) Another prophet also exclaims, “Our God is in the heavens: he has done whatsoever he has pleased,” (Psalm 115:3.) I have already shown clearly enough that God is the author of all those things which, according to these objectors, happen only by his inactive permission. He testifies that he creates light and darkness, forms good and evil, (Isaiah 45:7;) that no evil happens which he has not done, (Amos 3:6.) Let them tell me whether God exercises his judgments willingly or unwillingly. As Moses teaches that he who is accidentally killed by the blow of an ax, is delivered by God into the hand of him who smites him, (Deuteronomy 19:5,) so the Gospel, by the mouth of Luke, declares, that Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired “to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done,” (Acts 4:28.) And, in truth, if Christ was not crucified by the will of God, where is our redemption? Still, however, the will of God is not at variance with itself. It undergoes no change. He makes no pretense of not willing what he wills, but while in himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because, from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, though after a different manner, he wills and wills not the very same thing. Paul terms the calling of the Gentiles a hidden mystery, and shortly after adds, that therein was manifested the manifold wisdom of God, (Ephesians 3:10.) Since, on account of the dullness of our sense, the wisdom of God seems manifold, (or, as an old interpreter rendered it, multiform,) are we, therefore, to dream of some variation in God, as if he either changed his counsel, or disagreed with himself? Nay, when we cannot comprehend how God can will that to be done which he forbids us to do, let us call to mind our imbecility, and remember that the light in which he dwells is not without cause termed inaccessible, (1 Timothy 6:16,) because shrouded in darkness. Hence, all pious and modest men will readily acquiesce in the sentiment of Augustine: “Man sometimes with a good will wishes something which God does not will, as when a good son wishes his father to live, while God wills him to die. Again, it may happen that man with a bad will wishes what God wills righteously, as when a bad son wishes his father to die, and God also wills it. The former wishes what God wills not, the latter wishes what God also wills. And yet the filial affection of the former is more consonant to the good will of God, though willing differently, than the unnatural affection of the latter, though willing the same thing; so much does approbation or condemnation depend on what it is befitting in man, and what in God to will, and to what end the will of each has respect. For the things which God rightly wills, he accomplishes by the evil wills of bad men,” — (August. Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 101.) He had said a little before, (cap. 100,) that the apostate angels, by their revolt, and all the reprobate, as far as they themselves were concerned, did what God willed not; but, in regard to his omnipotence, it was impossible for them to do so: for, while they act against the will of God, his will is accomplished in them. Hence he exclaims, “Great is the work of God, exquisite in all he wills! so that, in a manner wondrous and ineffable, that is not done without his will which is done contrary to it, because it could not be done if he did not permit; nor does he permit it unwillingly, but willingly; nor would He who is good permit evil to be done, were he not omnipotent to bring good out of evil,” (Augustin. in Psalm 111:2.)

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 18-Henry Beveridge Translation

Angels and men, good and bad, do nothing but what has been decreed by God

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The carnal mind the source of the objections which are raised against the Providence of God. A primary objection, making a distinction between the permission and the will of God, refuted. Angels and men, good and bad, do nought but what has been decreed by God. This proved by examples.

1. From other passages, in which God is said to draw or bend Satan himself, and all the reprobate, to his will, a more difficult question arises. For the carnal mind can scarcely comprehend how, when acting by their means, he contracts no taint from their impurity, nay, how, in a common operation, he is exempt from all guilt, and can justly condemn his own ministers. Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and employs their iniquities to execute his judgments. The modesty of those who are thus alarmed at the appearance of absurdity might perhaps be excused, did they not endeavor to vindicate the justice of God from every semblance of stigma by defending an untruth. It seems absurd that man should be blinded by the will and command of God, and yet be forthwith punished for his blindness. Hence, recourse is had to the evasion that this is done only by the permission, and not also by the will of God. He himself, however, openly declaring that he does this, repudiates the evasion. That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men. If God is the arbiter of peace and war, as is there said, and that without any exception, who will venture to say that men are born along at random with a blind impulse, while He is unconscious or quiescent? But the matter will be made clearer by special examples. From the first chapter of Job we learn that Satan appears in the presence of God to receive his orders, just as do the angels who obey spontaneously. The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments. Satan’s aim is to drive the saint to madness by despair. The Sabeans cruelly and wickedly make a sudden incursion to rob another of his goods. Job acknowledges that he was deprived of all his property, and brought to poverty, because such was the pleasure of God. Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of his judgments. God wills that the perfidious Ahab should be deceived; the devil offers his agency for that purpose, and is sent with a definite command to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, (2 Kings 22:20.) If the blinding and infatuation of Ahab is a judgment from God, the fiction of bare permission is at an end; for it would be ridiculous for a judge only to permit, and not also to decree, what he wishes to be done at the very time that he commits the execution of it to his ministers. The Jews purposed to destroy Christ. Pilate and the soldiers indulged them in their fury; yet the disciples confess in solemn prayer that all the wicked did nothing but what the hand and counsel of God had decreed, (Acts 4:28,) just as Peter had previously said in his discourse, that Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, (Acts 2:23;) in other words, that God, to whom all things are known from the beginning, had determined what the Jews had executed. He repeats the same thing elsewhere, “Those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled,” (Acts 4:18.) Absalom incestuously defiling his father’s bed, perpetrates a detestable crime. God, however, declares that it was his work; for the words are, “Thou midst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 141 The cruelties of the Chaldeans in Judea are declared by Jeremiah to be the work of God. For which reason, Nebuchadnezzar is called the servant of God. God frequently exclaims, that by his hiss, by the clang of his trumpet, by his authority and command, the wicked are excited to war. He calls the Assyrian the rod of his anger, and the ax which he wields in his hand. The overthrow of the city and downfall of the temple, he calls his own work. David, not murmuring against God, but acknowledging him to be a just judge, confesses that the curses of Shimei are uttered by his orders. “The Lord,” says he, “has bidden him curse.” Often in sacred history whatever happens is said to proceed from the Lord, as the revolt of the ten tribes, the death of Eli’s sons, and very many others of a similar description. Those who have a tolerable acquaintance with the Scriptures see that, with a view to brevity, I am only producing a few out of many passages, from which it is perfectly clear that it is the merest trifling to substitute a bare permission for the providence of God, as if he sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, his judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 18-Henry Beveridge Translation