The Two Wills of God: A Few Quotes from R. L. Dabney "God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mer


God does not afflict in the same way he shows compassion, but he does both with the totality in view. The plain Christian mind will ever stumble on this fatal question, How can a truthful and consistent God have two opposite wills about the same object?

R.L Danny used the difficult decision in the life of George Washington in the signing of American traitor to illustrate. “Washington had plenary power to kill or to save alive. His compassion for the criminal was real and profound. Yet he signed his death-warrant with spontaneous decision. The solution is not the least difficult either for philosophy or common sense. Washington's volition to sign the death-warrant of André did not arise from the fact that his compassion was slight or feigned; but from the fact that it was rationally counterpoised by a complex of superior judgments and propensions of wisdom, duty, patriotism, and moral indignation. Let us suppose that one of André's intercessors (and he had them, even among the Americans) standing by, and hearing the commanding general say, as he took up the pen to sign the fatal paper, "I do this with the deepest reluctance and pity," should have retorted, "Since you are supreme in this matter, and have full bodily ability to throw down that pen, we shall know by your signing this warrant that your pity is hypocritical." The petulance of this charge would have been equal to its folly. The pity was real; but was restrained by superior elements of motive. Washington had official and bodily power to discharge the criminal; but he had not the sanction of his own wisdom and justice. Thus his pity was genuine, and yet his volition not to indulge it free and sovereign. We have seen how wisdom, justice, and patriotism in Washington's breast strove with and mastered the pity which pleaded for the life of the spy who had nearly ruined America. But the majestic calmness of that great man did not desert him. Had a weaker nature been called to perform the painful duty of signing that death-warrant—the gallant but frivolous Gates, for instance—he would have shown far more agitation; he would perhaps have thrown down the pen and snatched it again, and trembled and wept. But this would not have proved a deeper compassion than Washington's! His shallow nature was not capable of such depth of sentiment in any virtuous direction as filled the profounder soul. The cause of the difference would have been in this: that Washington's was a grander and wiser as well as a more feeling soul. It is far more scriptural, and, as we trust, has been shown, far more logical to say, that an immutable and sovereign God never had but one will (one purpose, or volition) as to this lost man; as a faithful God would never publish any other volition than the one he entertained, but that it was entirely consistent for God to compassionate where he never purposed nor promised to save, because this sincere compassion was restrained within the limits God announced by his own wisdom. The yet more explicit passage in Luke 19:41-42, has given our extremists still more trouble. We are there told that Christ wept over the very men whose doom of reprobation he then pronounced. Again, the question is raised by them, If Christ felt this tender compassion for them, why did he not exert his omnipotence for their effectual calling? Some better solution must be found, then, of this wondrous and blessed paradox, of omnipotent love lamenting those whom yet it did not save. Shall we resort to the Pelagian solution, and so exalt the prerogatives of a fancied "free-will," as to strip God of his omnipotence over sinful free agents? That resort is absolutely shut; for knowing assuredly that man is originally depraved and in bondage to sin, we see that the adoption of that theory undermines the hope of every sinner in the world for redemption, and spreads a pall of uncertainty and fear over heaven itself. The plain and obvious meaning of the history gives us the best solution that God does have compassion for the reprobate, but not express volition to save them, because his infinite wisdom regulates his whole will and guides and harmonizes (not suppresses) all its active principles. In his commentary on John 3:16, Calvin wrote, "There is no calm haven where our minds can rest until we come to God's free love. The whole substance of our salvation is not to be sought anywhere else than in Christ, and so we must see by what means Christ flows to us and why He was offered as our Saviour. Both points are clearly told us here—that faith in Christ quickens all and that Christ brought life because the heavenly Father does not wish the human race that He loves to perish. . . . He has used a general term [whosoever], both to invite indiscriminately all to share in life and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such also is the significance of the term 'world' which he had used before. For although there is nothing in the world deserving of God's favour, He nevertheless shows He is favourable to the whole world when he calls all without exception to the faith of Christ, which is indeed an entry into life" The solution, then, must be in this direction, that the words, "so loved the world" were not designed to mean the gracious decree of election (though other Scriptures abundantly teach there is such a decree), but a propension of benevolence not matured into the volition to redeem, of which Christ's mission is a sincere manifestation to all sinners. But our Saviour adverts to the implication which is contained even in the very statement of this delightful truth, that those who will not believe will perish notwithstanding. He foresees the cavil: "If so, this mission will be as much a curse as a blessing; how is it, then, a manifestation of infinite pity?" And the remaining verses give the solution of that cavil. It is not the tendency or primary design of that mission to curse, but to bless; not to condemn, but to save. When it becomes the occasion (not cause) of deeper condemnation to some, it is only because these (verse 19) voluntarily pervert, against themselves, and acting (verse 20) from a wicked motive, the beneficent provision. God has a permissive decree to allow some thus to wrest the Gospel provision. But inasmuch as this result is of their own free and wicked choice, it does not contravene the blessed truth that Christ's mission is in its own nature only beneficent, and a true disclosure of God's benevolence to every sinner on earth to whom it is published. Here is a link to the full treatment: http://www.romans45.org/dabney/mercy.htm Link to John Piper's short theological essay, "Does God Desire All to Be Saved?" https://www.desiringgod.org/books/does-god-desire-all-to-be-saved Helpful message by Andy Naselli, "Does God Have Two Wills? Does He Want All People to Be Saved in One Sense and Not Want All People to Be Saved in Another Sense?" http://andynaselli.com/wp-content/uploads/20080629_1Tim_2.4.mp3


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