November 5, 2006

John Howe (1630–1705) on Romans 2:4 and God's "Kind Intention"

3. Consider the forbearance of God towards you, while you are continually at mercy. With what patience doth he spare you, though your own hearts must tell you that you are offending creatures, and whom he can destroy in a moment! He spares you that neglect him. He is not willing that you should perish, but come to the knowledge of the truth, that you may be saved; by which he calls and leads you to repentance, Rom. ii 4. On God's part, here is a kind intention; but on man's part, nothing but persevering enmity.
John Howe, "Of Man's Enmity Against God," in The Works of John Howe (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1990), 1:415.

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In the above quote, I think he's also alluding to 2 Pet. 3:9 ("He is not willing that you should perish"), and 1 Tim. 2:4 ("come to the knowledge of the truth, that you may be saved"). It's also significant that he calls God's forbearance, mercy, and patience (i.e. common grace) with men who are enemies a "kind intention" that is given with a view to saving. High Calvinists are careful to avoid calling God's revealed will an "intention," but not John Howe.

For more on Romans 2:4, see my post on The Force of "agei" in Romans 2:4 and Common Grace.

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