May 18, 2008

John Arrowsmith (1602–1659) on God’s Will and Permission

6. III. By way of permission. Hard-heartedness is one of those evils, which God permiteth, but approveth not, and is accordingly included in that speech, God in time past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways [Acts 14:16]. Therefore the school-men upon those texts, Deus non volens iniquitatem, tu es, and Quod non volui elegerunt, have founded a notable distinction between Velle, Nolle, and Non velle, which is not inconsiderable here. God is said to will a thing when he so approves of it, as to effect it. To Nill a thing, when he so dislikes it, as to prohibit it; non velle, not to will it, when he so dislikes as not to prohibit, yea, and not to effect it, yet permits it to be for good ends. Of the Lord, it is truly said, That he wills a heart of flesh, and that he nills a heart of stone; as for hard-heartedness, although he frequently permit it, yet we must say he is not altogether willing to have it, however willing to Suffer it. Our temper must be that of Austin, In a wonderful and unspeakable manner even that which is done against his will, is not done without his will; for it would not be done, if it were not permitted; neither doth he permit it without, but with his will. And again, He is so good as that he would never suffer evil, if he were not so Omnipotent, as to bring good out of evil.
John Arrowsmith, Armilla Catechetica: A Chain of Principles; or, An Orderly Concatenation of Theological Principles and Excercitations, Wherein the Chief Heads of Christian Religion are Asserted and Improved (Edinburgh: Thomas Turnbull, 1822), 335–336.


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