Skip to content

Hermann Venema on God’s Will that All Men be Saved

October 8, 2008

Hermann Venema:

1) (2) God wishes his laws to be obeyed, and therefore wishes also his creatures to be incited in every way to the keeping of them. This purpose is greatly served by the prospect of rewards. But justice loves and demands these rewards. Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 172.

2) 6. It is the will of God that those to whom the proposition of the Gospel is made should receive that declaration and apply it to themselves. Now this proposition, i.e., “he that believeth shall be saved,” is made indiscriminately to all, even to those who do not believe and who are not saved, and therefore according to the will of God it has reference to all whom it is made. If this be not admitted then we cannot hold that God seriously wills that all men should receive the proposition made to them. If, however, he does so will, then it must have reference to all who read or hear it, and this purpose by which he has ordained a connexion between faith and salvation must be general. We are aware, indeed, that there is a particular connection which has reference only to the elect; yet this proposition is made to all without distinction. For it would be absurd to suppose that God says to all believe and ye shall be saved and yet that he does not will that they should believe and be saved. But we have have said the offer is made to all by those who preach the gospel, who, though they know not who are elected and who are reprobate, yet proclaim the offer in the universal terms in which it is made in Scripture. If however it be said that, although the proposition be addressed to all, there is not a general purpose on the part of God and that he does not will that those who are not elected should believe that the proposition applies to them, what is this but treating them with mockery? Is this not, on God’s part, a representation or unfolding of his will different from what his will really is? But the simplicity and the truth of God forbid us believing that he would do so. Our Lord expressly says to Jerusalem “how often I would have gathered thy children together… and ye would not,” Matt. xxiii.37. God says of his vineyard “wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes,” Is. v.4. If therefore we would not impugn the sincerity of God we must hold that there is a general decree by which he has purposed to save them that believe.

7. Scripture assures us that the love of God towards men as such is universal–that he has “no pleasure in the death of him who dieth”–that is, “will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth”–that is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” Ezek. xviii.32; 1 Tim. ii.4; 2 Pet. iii.9. From these passages we infer that there is a general will or purpose of God held forth in the gospel by which he has linked together faith and salvation without excluding any man, and declares that it is agreeable to him that all should believe and live. If this be denied and that, according to his good pleasure, the proposition “he that believeth shall be saved” should not apply to them. What becomes, in this case, of his universal love? What are we to make of the passages in which he declares that he willith not the death of the sinner, that he will have all men to be saved? Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., by Alex W. Brown, (Andover: W.F. Draper Brothers, 1853), 305-306.

[Note: Venema’s use of ‘conditional decree’ language functions in the same way as we have seen it work in men such as Davenant.]

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: