Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)

Chapter 3: The Will of God, Part 2

Position 5.— God’s hidden will is peremptory and absolute, and therefore cannot be hindered from taking effect. God’s will is nothing else than God Himself willing, consequently it is omnipotent and unfrustrable. Hence we find it termed by Augustine and the schoolmen, voluntas omnipotentissima, because whatever God wills cannot fail of being effected. This made Augustine say,[1] “Evil men do many things contrary to God’s revealed will, but so great is His wisdom, and so inviolable His truth, that He directs all things into those channels which He foreknew.” And again,[2] “No free will of the creature can resist the will of God, for man cannot so will or nill as to obstruct the Divine determination or overcome the Divine power.” Once more,[3] “It cannot be questioned but God does all things, and ever did, according to His own purpose: the human will cannot resist Him so as to make Him do more or less than it is His pleasure to do; quandoquidem etiam de ipsis hominum voluntatibus quod vult facit, since He does what He pleases even with the wills of men.”

Position 6.— Whatever comes to pass, comes to pass by virtue of this absolute omnipotent will of God, which is the primary and supreme cause of all things. “Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). “Our God is in the heavens; He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased (Psa. 115:3). “He doeth according to His will, in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Dan. 4:35). “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6). “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father” (Matt. 10:29). To all which Augustine[4] subscribes when he says, “Nothing is done but what the Almighty wills should be done, either efficiently or permissively.” As does Luther, whose words are these,[5] “This therefore must stand; to wit, the unsearchable will of God, without which nothing exists or acts.” And again (c. 160), “God would not be such if He was not almighty, and if anything could be done without Him.” And elsewhere (c. 158) he quotes these words of Erasmus: “Supposing there was an earthly prince, who could do whatever he would and none were able to resist him, we might safely say of such an one that he would certainly fulfil his own desire; in like manner the will of God, which is the first cause of all things, should seem to lay a kind of necessity upon our wills.” This Luther approves of, and subjoins, “Thanks be to God for this orthodox passage in Erasmus’s discourse! But if this be true, what becomes of his doctrine of free-will, which he, at other times, so strenuously contends for?”

Position 7.— The will of God is so the cause of all things, as to be itself without cause, for nothing can be the cause of that which is the cause of everything. So that the Divine will is the we plus ultra of all our inquiries; when we ascend to that, we can go no farther. Hence we find every matter resolved ultimately into the mere sovereign pleasure of God, as the spring and occasion of whatsoever is done in heaven and earth. “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight” (Matt. 11:25). “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “I will, be thou clean” (Matt. 8:3). “He went up into a mountain, and called unto Him whom He would” (Mark 3:13). “Of His own will begat He us, with the word of truth” (James 1:18). “Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Therefore, He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth” (Rom. 9:15,18). And no wonder that the will of God should be the main spring that sets all inferior wheels in motion, and should likewise be the rule by which He goes in all His dealings with His creatures, since nothing out of God (i.e., exterior to Himself) can possibly induce Him to will or nill one thing rather than another. Deny this, and you, at one stroke, destroy His immutability and independency, since He can never be independent, who acts pro re nata, as emergency requires, and whose will is suspended on that of others; nor unchangeable whose purposes vary, and take all shapes, according as the persons or things vary, who are the objects of those purposes. The only reason, then, that can be assigned why the Deity does this or omits that is because it is His own free pleasure. Luther,[6] in answer to that question, “Whence it was that Adam was permitted to fall and corrupt his whole posterity, when God could have prevented his falling,” etc., says: “God is a Being, whose will acknowledges no cause, neither is it for us to prescribe rules to His sovereign pleasure, or call Him to account for what He does. He has neither superior nor equal, and His will is the rule of all things. He did not therefore will such and such things because they were in themselves right, and He was bound to will them; but they are therefore equitable and right because He wills them. The will of man, indeed, may be influenced and moved, but God’s will never can. To assert the contrary is to undeify Him.” Bucer[7] likewise observes: “God has no other motive for what He does than ipsa voluntas, His own mere will, which will is so far from being unrighteous that it is justice itself.”

[1] De Civ. Dei. 1. 22, c. 1, Vol. 2, p. 474, T. T. Clark’s Edition.
[2] De Corr. and Grat. c. 14.
[3] De Corr. and Grat. 14.
[4] Tom. 3 in Enchir.
[5] Be Serv. Arb. c. 143.
[6] De Serv. Arb. c. 153.
[7] Ad Kom. IX.

Jerome Zanchius (1516-1590) was an Italian pastor, theologian, writer and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. After the death of Calvin, Zanchius’ influence filled the void, which was copiously met by a large written ministry. Among his most popular works are, “Confession Of The Christian Religion”, “Observation On The Divine Attributes” and “The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination”.

Jerome Zanchius on Absolute Predestination (Complete)