March 28, 2011

John Mayer (1583–1664) on 1 Tim. 2:4–6

Vers. 4. Who would that all men should bee saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator betwixt God and man, &c.
A great question here offereth it selfe how it can be said that God would that all men should be saved, when as it is certaine that most men shall be damned? for God is omnipotent and how then should it happen unto any otherwise that God willeth? Saint Augustine in divers places answereth diversly hereunto. First, that hee willeth the salvation of all that are saved, so that none are saved, but such as hee willeth should bee saved. And thus these words are a fit reason of praying for all, because by our praying the Lords will may be inclined to save those, who unlesse he be willing, cannot be saved.

Secondly, in the same booke he saith, that by all men, all sorts of men are to be understood, according to that which went before, for Kings and for those that are in high place; for if it should seem strange that the Apostle should bid to pray for such, as most abhorring from Christian humility, being in so great sublimity, pompe, and secular pride, he resolveth us here, that God would that all sorts of men should bee saved, Kings and private persons, noble and ignoble, high and low, learned, and unlearned, strong and weake, witty and dull, rich and poore, males and females, &c.

Thirdly, God would, that all men should be saved, because he requireth of all, that they walke in the way of good workes, promising salvation to all that doe so, and threatening destruction to such, as doe not. So that, as that master, who biddeth all his servants worke in his vineyard, promising them a reward, if they so doe, and that after they have laboured a while there, they shall take their rest, and feast with him, but if any doth not so, he shall grind perpetually in the milne, may well be said to will, that all should have rest and joy: so may it rightly be said of the Lord, promising to the obedient, and threatening the disobedient. And much like unto this is the solution brought by him in another place. Because we know not who shall be saved, and yet are commanded to preach salvation to all, thus being set a worke to labour and desire the salvation of all, Gods Spirit working this desire in our hearts; this our willing and desiring to save all is said to be Gods willing of the same, who worketh this will in us, as Rom. 8.26. the Spirit is said, to make request, when we make request by the assistance of the Spirit. These Expositions of Saint Augustine are followed by most Expositors. Bullinger followeth the first, Calvin the second, and Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, and others the third, calling the will of God here spoken of, the will of the signe, and not of his good pleasure.

But none of all these doe so well agree with this place, as to satisfie about this question. For touching the first, what is this to the moving of us to pray for all men, that none can be saved, but they whom God willeth, seeing he willeth not, neither decreeth the salvation of all, this should rather make us not to pray, than to pray for all men. Againe, though God would that some of all sorts should be saved, yet what is this to ground our praying upon for such and such particular Kings and men in authority over us, whom haply he will not have saved, though some of their ranke shall be saved? And lastly, if it be expounded by the will of the signe, but not of his decree, what were this wlse, but to oppose the wils of the same God one against another? and to teach that he maketh shew of that, which he never intended? Howsoever therefore in speaking of these things before, Text 21. I have rested upon these distinctions, yet now I have thought good to inquire a little further, what more may be said herein. There is then another Exposition, understanding by Gods will, his delight and desire, out of the infinite goodnesse and benignity of his nature: For this is, that all and every one should be saved, according to the reason by and by rendred, for there is one God, who created and made all men, and therefore as they are his owne creatures, his will is, that they should all be saved, and not one of them damned. For this is also added by Saint Peter, God is patient towards all men, not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. And by the Prophet Ezechiel the Lord professeth, I will not the death of him that dyeth, wherefore turne yee and live: these words, I will not, are by Tremellius rendred, non delector, I am not delighted, and in the originall, it is לא אהםצ, I love not. If Gods will then be considered in it selfe without respect unto wilfull and obstinate sinning, it is, that all should be saved: but because he is most just, and so cannot but will, and accordingly punish them with destruction, and this will is called by some his antecedent will, the other of damnation, his consequent will, as it is in Damascen, whose words are these; We must not be ignorant, that God precedently would that all should be saved, and attaine to his kingdome, for he made us not for punishment, but to be partakers of his goodnesse, as he is good: but he will have sinners punished, as he is just. That is therefore called his first and precedent will and acceptation, which is of himself; but the second his sequent will or permission, being of us.

First therefore, and of his infinite goodnesse, God would that we should all be saved, but when we will not, but harden our selves in our sinnes, he will and resolveth to damne such as are thus hardened therefore. Agreeably hereunto speaketh Ambrose [marginal note references some Latin in Ambrose on Matt. 23:27], God will that all should be saved, but so, as if they come unto him, for he willeth not so, that the unwilling should be saved, but he would so have them saved, as if they themselves would. And this seemeth to be grounded plainly upon that speech of our Saviour Christ, How oft would I have gathered you together, and yee would not? If it be demanded, cannot God make all men willing, if it pleaseth him, and how become they willing, that are willing? is it not of him? seeing it is of him then, that some are willing and some not, how can mans unwillingnesse be said to be the cause of his damnation? and not Gods will and decree indeed the cause as of the salvation of some, so of the damnation of others? I answer, as before upon Rom. 9. Gods electing of some to salvation and his reprobating of others, is not as of himself and of his owne good nature he is moved to doe, for so he inclineth to be alike gracious to all: but mankinde becommeth sinfull, that was at the first made holy, and being thus sinful, here commeth in his choosing of some yet out of his infinite mercy to salvation, others being rejected in his justice to damnation, after which he inclineth or not inclineth mens wils accordingly, so that some will and some will not turne, and so such as will not he damneth, and yet is truly said not to will the death of any, because of himselfe he hath no delight or pleasure herein, neither commeth it first of his will, but of mans owne corruption, which he cannot but in justice thus punish. This point is more largely handled, Rom. 9. Text 21. and therefore I say no more here, but referre the reader thither. It is enough to shew it to be good and acceptable to God to pray for all that he is best pleased with, and preferreth the salvation of all, as he at the first made all, and since sent his Sonne into the world to give himselfe, as a ransome for all. But how can it be thus said either, seeing that if the ransome be payed for all, all are not delivered? To this it is generally answered, that Christs giving of himselfe to the death was a ransome sufficient to save all men, according to the signification of the word αντίλυτρον, used to set forth the ransoming of captives, when one is given to death for the delivering of another. For Christ alone was worth all the world, and his death equivalent to the dying of all men by everlasting death. When therefore he gave himselfe to the death for us, he suffered on his part so much as was sufficient to save all men, that neither on the part of God, nor of Christ Jesus there might be any want, but the want might be altogether in themselves in such as are damned. Christ dyed for all, the Gospel is preached to all, and all enjoy the holy Sacraments, which are the meanes of salvation; but such, as are not hereby moved to faith and repentance, shall perish not withstanding through their owne default...

...Note, how free God is from being the cause of any mans destruction: for he hath done so much, as the Prophet Esay speaketh, that he challengeth his people, saying, O house of Israel, what could I have done more, that I have not done. The fault of mans ruine is in himselfe onely, and the perversenesse of his owne will. For though he hath no power of himself to doe good, yet he may refraine, from being obstinate, wilfull and refractary in his sinning, which whilst he doth not, it is just with God to condemne him, though it even grieveth him so to doe.
John Mayer, A Commentary Upon the New Testament, vol. 1 (London: Printed by Thomas Cotes, for John Bellamie, and are to be sold at his shoppe in Cornehill, at the sign of the three Golden Lyons, neere the Royall Exchange, 1631), 495–498. It's interesting to note that while Mayer limits the "world" of John 3:16 to the elect, he still teaches that Christ ransomed all men according to other passages.
Q. but as we are all sinners, are we all again delivered without exception, because thou sayest, that he hath redeemed all mankind?

A. He hath paid a price sufficient to redeem all, neither doth he exclude any from the benefit thereof, but only such as exclude themselves.
Mayers Catechism Abridged (London: Printed for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his shop in S. Dunstans Church-yard in Fleetstreet, 1639), A6v.


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