Look to Duty Not the Decree

Ask Mr. Religion

☞☞☞☞Presbyterian (PCA) &#9
Gold Subscriber
Hall of Fame
Wants and desires spring from the mind's willing. Regeneration changes (not replaces) the fallen will, and our wants and desires for the righteousness of God naturally follow and we choose willingly (according to our will).

As to the WCF's "violence to the will and so on...", violence is stating that that God does not do away with the will.

The first part of the statement is directed against Arminian accusations that Calvinists don't believe in free will. The Reformed do believe in free will, but not the same kind of free will that Arminians and Socinians believe. They believe that free will means the ability of contrary choice: I can choose to do an action or not to do it. I can choose to please God or not to please God.

Calvinists do not believe in this kind of free will. Rather, we believe that free will means that a person can do anything that it is within that person's nature to do. If a person is a sinner, then he is not free to please God. Rather, he is free to make free choice among several sinful options. Obviously, if the Arminian definition of free will were true, then God is not free, since God cannot sin, which He would be able to do if He had the power of contrary choice. In other words, free will is defined by the character of the person.

The second part of that statement in the WCF has to do with rejecting hyper-Calvinism, which states that there is really no need for evangelism (for instance), since God will convert that person anyway. This really does make people into robots. The correct interpretation of God's sovereignty is that He uses any means that He chooses in order to accomplish His desire, including missionaries, etc. That means us. Therefore, we (and the means of grace) are the secondary causes, while God is the primary cause. God's sovereignty therefore works through secondary causes sometimes (actually, most of the time), and without secondary causes sometimes (as in miracles). But the latter does not deny the former.

Whereas the Reformed dilute nothing about God, granting Him all which He lays claim to in Scripture, knowing all things, past, present, and future, and able to dispose of all He created per His own pleasure, graciously granting some faith, withholding the grant from others who are quite dead in their sinful willfulness.

The decree of God about the permission of sin does not infringe the liberty of man's will. For sin does not follow the decree by a necessity of co-action or compulsion, which indeed would destroy human liberty; but by a necessity of infallibility, which is very consistent with the decree. It is sufficient unto human liberty, or the freedom of man's will, that a man act without all constraint, and out of choice. Now, this is not taken away by the decree. Men sin as freely as if there were no decree, and yet as infallibly as if there were no liberty. And men sin, not to fulfill God's decree, which is hidden from them, but to serve and gratify their vile lusts and corrupt affections.

God shows what belongs to him and what belongs to us, and that we should mind our duty, and not busy and perplex ourselves about impertinencies. Whether a specific man be elected or not elected, is a secret that God never discloses to an unbeliever; but that we should believe on Christ is no secret. This is a duty clearly revealed and enjoined by the Gospel.

It is our duty to look to God's commands, and not to his decrees; to our own duty, and not to God's purposes. The decrees of God are a vast ocean, into which many possibly have curiously pried to their own horror and despair; but few or none have ever pried into them to their own profit and satisfaction. Our specific election is not written in particular in the word of God; but our duty is plainly set down there. If men conscientiously perform their duty, this is the way to come to the knowledge of their election.

Men do not pry into the decrees of God in other things, but do what they know to be incumbent upon them as their duty. And certainly this same prying about the hows and the whys of the decree is as unreasonable for this topic we are discussing.

When you are dangerously sick, and the physician tells you, that unless you take such and such medicines, your case is desperate; you do not use this reasoning:

Well, if God has decreed my recovery, I will certainly be restored to my health, whether I take that course of drugs, etc., or not.

No, you presently fall in with the advice given you, and make use of the means prescribed for your health.