December 7, 2008

Historic Calvinistic Language for God's Revealed Will

[Note: The names listed below with all the source quotes can be found on my blog or on the Calvin and Calvinism blog.]
How meltingly doth he bewail man's wilful refusal of his goodness! It is a mighty goodness to offer grace to a rebel; a mighty goodness to give it him after he hath a while stood off from the terms; and astonishing goodness to regret and lament his wilful perdition. He seems to utter those words in a sigh, "O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my way" (Ps. lxxxi. 13)! It is true, God hath not human passions, but his affections cannot be expressed otherwise in a way intelligible to us; the excellency of his nature is above the passions of men; but such expressions of himself manifest to us the sincerity of his goodness: and that, were he capable of our passions, he would express himself in such a manner as we do: and we find incarnate Goodness bewailing with tears and sighs the ruin of Jerusalem (Luke xix. 42).
Stephen Charnock, "Discourse XIII: On the Goodness of God" in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:286.
There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men. . . There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection.
Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees in General and Election in Particular," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 2:528–529.

Since there has been some talk lately about "optative expressions" and God's will, I have listed the various expressions that Calvinists have used in history for God's revealed will. All of the following Calvinistic men affirm that God wills the salvation of all men, including those who finally perish. The sources can be found in my blog and in the Calvin and Calvinism blog. This will be updated when new names and information is available.

The various symbols before the names indicates that the person was involved in writing one of the Reformed confessions, or contributed to one of them (*Dort, §Heidelberg, Second Helvetic, Westminster, Second London Baptist).


Adams, Thomas (willing; desires)
Ambrose, Isaac (willing; entreats; beseeches; desire; begs; invites; woos)
Arrowsmith, John (wills; longs for)
Ascol, Tom (wills; desires)
Ashwood, Bartholomew (wills; affectionately seeks; desires; invites; beseeches; strives; woos)
Attersoll, William (earnest desire; very desirous; willing; labors; seeks)
Amyraut, Moyse (wills; wishes; desires)


Bates, William (very willing, urges, entreats, beseeches, desires, designs)
Bavinck, Herman (wants, seeks) 
Berkhof, Louis (wills, pleads, earnestly desires)
Barlee, William (will, desire)
Boyce, J. P. (wishes, yearns)
Bucer, Martin (wishes, wills, desires)
Bullinger, Heinrich (wills, desires, wants)
Bunyan, John (heartily willing)
Burgess, Anthony (wills, affectionately desires, intends, entreats, delights, invites)
Burgess, Daniel (wills, designs, strives, desires)
Burroughs, Jeremiah (great willingness, wills, woos, desires, intends, begs)


Calamy, Edmund (wills)
Calvin, John (wills, wishes, intent, desires, ardent desire, beseeches, allures)
Candlish, Robert (willing, wishes, yearning desire, intense longing desire)
Carey, William (wills)
Carson, D. A. (wills, desires, wishes, yearns, pursues, seeks, entreats, invites)
Cartwright, Thomas (wills, woos, earnestly desires)
Caryl, Joseph (willing, begging)
Chalmers, Thomas (wills, desires, begs)
Chantry, Walter (willing, sincerely desires, pleads, lovingly desires, wishes, seriously invites, wants, begs, entreats)
Charnock, Stephen (wills, strives, begs, beseeches, entreats, courts, solicits, designs, sues, woos, aims)
Collinges, John (begging, willing, earnestness of desire, wishes)
Corbet, John (wills)
Cotton, John (seriously wills, seriously desires)
Crawford, Thomas J. (wills, delights in, earnest and intense desire)
*Crocius, Ludwig (wishes)
Culverwell, Ezekiel (very willing, desires, allures)
Cunningham, William (wills, wishes, desires)


Dabney, R. L. (will, active principle, desire, propension)
Dagg, John L. (will, desire)
Daniel, Curt (will, wish)
*Davenant, John (will, intent)
Denison, Stephen (wills, entreats)
Doolittle, Thomas (desires, strives)
Durham, James (woos, seeks, very desirous, beseeches, heartily willing, aims, heartily invites, willingly desirous, passionately desirous, presses, craves, entreats)


Edwards, Jonathan (will, desire, wish, seeks, tries, woos, entreats, beseeches, begs, intends)


Fairbairn, Patrick (yearns, earnestly desires, seeks, wills, allures)
Flavel, John (will, earnest and vehement desire, importunate desire, alluringly invites, begs, zealous and fervent concern, intent, design, yearns, strives, solicits, allures, woos, sues, entreats)
Frame, John (will, wish, wants, intense desire)
Fuller, Andrew (wills, good-will, desires)


Gale, Theophilus (wills, extreme willing, really intends, really and cheerfully willing, desire, begs, seeks, invites)
Gearing, William (woos, begs, entreats, invites)
Gouge, Thomas (great willingness, entreats)
Greenhill, William (will, earnestly desires, seeks)
Greijdanus, Seakle (ardent desire; great exertion to bring it about)
Grey, Andrew (will, exceedingly serious and earnest, begs)
Grosvenor, Benjamin (wills, desires, designs, wishes)
Gualther, Rudolph (wills, desires)
Gurnall, William (will, beseeches, begs, affectionately desires)


Halyburton, Thomas (desires, entreats)
Harris, Robert (willing, begs)
Henry, Carl F. H. (sincere and strong wish)
Henry, Matthew (wills, wishes, desires, designs)
Heppe, Heinrich (lists many Reformed sources using "wish")
Heywood, Oliver (will, cordial wish, earnest desire, urges, woos pathetically)
Hildersham, Arthur (earnestly desires, wills, wishes, seeks, beseeches, labors)
Hodge, A. A.  (kindly and honestly invites, draws)
Hodge, Charles (will, desire)
Hoekema, Anthony (wants, seriously desires)
Hopkins, Ezekiel (wills, urges)
Howe, John (will, wish, desires, favourable propensions, design, intent, travails)
Hulse, Erroll (will, desire, wants, purpose, seeks, intends, wish)
Hyperius, Andreas (wills, desires)


Jenison, Robert (seriously wills, seriously invites)
Johnson, S. Lewis (wills, desires)


Kingsmill, Andrew (seeks)
Kistemaker, Simon J. (want, wish, desire)
Knollys, Hanserd (willing, earnestly desires)
Kuiper, R. B. (wills, urgently invites, ardently desires)


Latimer, Hugh (will)
Leigh, Edward (seriously wills)
Levitt, William (wills)
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (wills, seeks, strives, tries, pleads)


MacArthur, John (will, wish, desire, yearns, pleads, begs, tenderly calls)
Manton, Thomas (will, begs, labours, desire, pleads, woos, works to gain, allures)
Marlorate, Augustine (wills, gently invites, allures)
Mather, Cotton (wills, earnestly desires, aims at, delights, endeavors, urges, seeks)
Mather, Increase (desires, seeks)
McCheyne, R. M. (will, wishes, pleads, earnestly seeks, tries, draws)
*Martinius, Matthias (seriously wills, intends)
Murray, Iain (will, desire, wish)
Murray, John (will, wish, ardent desire, yearns)
Musculus, Wolfgang (wills, good-will)


Packer, J. I. (will, wish)
Palmer, Edwin H. (desires)
Pearse, Edward (lovingly invites, woos, entreats, allures)
Perkins, William (wills, desires, heartily seeks, looks for, pursues, earnestly knocks)
Piper, John (will, desire)
Polanus, Amandus (wills, wishes)
Powel, Vavasor (willing)
Polhill, Edward (will, intent)
Preston, John (wills, earnestly desires)
Prynne, William (wills, seriously invites, seriously wishes, seriously desires, earnest wish)


Reynolds, Edward (will, allures, beseeches, woos)
Richardson, John (suing, wooing, begging)
Robertson, O. Palmer (will, desire)
Rutherford, Samuel (vehement desire, serious desire, ardent desire, unfeigned desire, extreme desire, begs)
Ryle, J. C. (willing, invites)


Saurin, James (wills, presses, ardent entreaties)
Scudder, Henry (will, intent)
Shedd, W. G. T. (will, sincerely desires, encourages, assists, aids)
Shepard, Thomas (desire)
Sibbes, Richard (desires, begs)
Simpson, Sydrach (begs)
Slater, Samuel (desires)
Spring, Gardiner (willing)
Spurgeon, Charles (pleads, desire, wish, begs)
Strong, A. H. (will, desire)
Swinnock, George (willing, desire, intent, begs, seeks, woos)


Trapp, John (begging, kneels)
Turretin, Francis (will, wish, desire)


§Ursinus, Zacharias (will, desires)


Venema, Herman (seriously wills, wishes, purpose)
Vermigli, Peter Martyr (wills, wishes)
Vincent, Nathaniel (woos, earnestly entreats, passionately pleads, seriously and pathetically calls, design, aims, presses, purposes, draws, invites, strives, wishes) 
Vos, Geerhardus (desires, seeks [RD, 1:29; c. 2, q. 98])


Waldron, Samuel (will, wish, earnestly desires, saving intention, purpose, goal)
Warne, Jonathan (wills, wishes, invites, desires)
Watson, Thomas (will, tries, woos, desires, kneels)
Westblade, Donald J. (willing)
Whately, William (desire)
Whitefield, George (will, wants, desires, labouring, intent, begs)
Wollebius, Johannes (will, wants)


Tony Byrne said...

In addition to Thomas Cartwright, Stephen Charnock, Jonathan Edwards, John Flavel, Oliver Heywood, Thomas Manton, Edward Reynolds, George Swinnock, Nathaniel Vincent and Edward Polhill using the "wooing" metaphor in the context of God's gospel offers, one can also find it in the writings of the following Puritans as well:

Thomas Goodwin, Thomas Gouge, Jeremiah Burroughs, William Greenhill, Thomas Sheppard, Richard Sibbes, Ralph Erskine, Joseph Alleine, Samuel Rutherford, William Fenner, William Gearing, Andrew Gray, and Isaac Ambrose.

Tony Byrne said...

Jonathan Edwards, D. M. Lloyd-Jones, the Geneva Bible on Gen. 6:3, R. M. McCheyne, and Thomas Watson all speak of God "trying" to save some who ultimately perish.

Tony Byrne said...

Some Calvinists, whether high or moderate, such as Anthony Burgess (d.1664), Jeremiah Burroughs (c.1600-1646), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Davenant (1572-1641), Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), John Flavel (1630-1691), Theophilus Gale (1628-1678), John Howe (1630-1705), Richard Maden (c.1599-1677), Matthaeus Martinius (1572-1630), William Pinke (c.1599-1629), Edward Polhill (1622-1694), Henry Scudder (c.1585-1652), George Swinnock (1627-1673), and George Whitefield (1714-1770), used the strong volitional term "intent" for God's legislative will or for His revealed desire for the salvation of all men.