June 20, 2017

Thomas Anyan (c.1580–1632) on the Will of God and Reprobation

For the will of God toward, mankind is (if I may so speak) Orbicular, environing universal man, with Mercies and Judgements, with Salvation, and Damnation: if with repentance and works of righteousness we turn to the right hand, we shall find a Merciful Father, and be accepted of him; but if we remain obdurate in our sin, and turn to the left hand, we shall see an Angry Judge and rue the punishments of his wrath. Which change and alteration is in us, not in God; God doth not bow to man, but man doth come to God; nor doth God leave any man of any nation, but man doth revolt from his Creator. Not only the Schools, but Expositors both Orthodox & Romish, stand at this day much distracted, with a diversity, or at least a divers conceit of the Will of God; of his Antecendent, and Consequent, Hidden and Revealed will, of his Absolute, and Conditional Will: whereas to speak properly, God’s Will is one and the same, nor can he be said to have two Wills, no more than to have two Wisdoms, two Mercies, two Goodnesses, or a diversity of other [of] his Essential Attributes. But as the Wisdom of God (to instance in that Attribute) is by St. Paul termed πολυποίκιλος, Eph. 3.10. which some render Multiformis, others Multis modis varia, and our English Manifold; which is yet but one: so the Will of God being one and the same in itself, may yet in respect of us, and the diverse effects thereof, be termed πολυποίκιλος, Manifold, and Divers. The ground of all these Distinctions is taken out of Damascene [i.e. John of Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa, ii. 29], and by Damascene out of Chrysostome, Hom. 1. in Epist. ad Eph. [or here; see also his Homily 18 on Hebrews], There is in God (saith he) a two-fold Will, θέλημα - οιον, θέλημα πρῶτον, το μη απολεσθαι ημαρτηχότας. There is in God a two-fold Will, a First and a Second; the first and principal will of God doth immediately proceed from God himself, whereby he desireth to do good unto all, τὸ μη απολεθαι ἡμαρτηχότας, & it is Voluntas simplicis complacentiæ, and may be termed Voluntas benefactiendi. His secondary will doth proceed from contingent causes without God, and is occasioned by us, and it may be termed Voluntas iustitiæ, which doth arise from our sins, which God cannot but put in execution without prejudice to his Justice. The first is the Will of God, wherein he taketh delight and pleasure, and is by the same Father termed Θέλημα προηγουμενον, the principal will of God. That which hath been spoken I thus bring home to my text. That it is the Will of God to leave many of most nations in the corrupt mass of perdition, I well know: but that it is his principal Will, his εύδοχια, or Voluntas simplicis complacentiæ, to decree the absolute reprobatio of any man of any nation, I utterly deny. Deus non est prius ultor, quam homo est peccator, saith Aug. ep. 105 [Letter 105]. Man deserves his punishment, before he hath it, & God makes no man a reprobate without just cause. The word Reprobation or Reprobate is in Scripture seldom used to this purpose, & the Greek word Αδοκιμος will hardly carry it, signifying as well Improbus, or Reprehensione dignus, as a Reprobate, and therefore should be used more sparingly, and not so absolutely determined of. In the Fathers the opposite to Predestination to life eternal is Predestination to a second death; and to Election to grace, they oppose Dereliction in the Mass of perdition, seldom Reprobation. In those parts of St. Austin, which I have read, I never met with the word Reprobus as opposite to Elect, but once; & whosoever hath spent most hours in reading the works of that Judicious Father, did never in that sense read it twice.

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