image Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) spoke about the two wills of God… His will of command or law and His will of decree.  Below is Edwards defense of this doctrine:

The Arminians ridicule our distinction of the secret and revealed will of God, or more properly expressed, our distinction between the decree and law [of God], because we say he may decree one thing and command another; and so they say we hold contrariety and contradiction in God, as if one will of his contradicted and was directly contrary to another. But however, if they will call this a contradiction of wills, we do certainly and absolutely know there is such a thing, so that it is the greatest absurdity to dispute about it.

We and they [know it was] God’s secret will that Abraham should not sacrifice his son, but yet his command was to do it. [We]4 do certainly know that God willed that Pharaoh’s heart should be hardened, and yet that the hardness of his heart was his sin. We do know that God willed that [the] Egyptians should hate God’s people. Psalms 105:25, "He turned their heart to hate his people and deal subtilely with his servants." We do know that it was God’s will that Absalom should lie with David’s wives. 2 Samuel 12:11–12, "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes and give them unto thy neighbor; and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun." We do certainly know that God willed that Jeroboam and the ten tribes should rebel. The same, we know, may be said of the plunder of the Babylonians; and other instances might be given. The Scripture plainly tells us that God wills to harden some men (Romans 9:18), that Christ should be killed by men, [etc.].

From Miscellanies #7 by Jonathan Edwards

1 comment
  1. This truth is a necessary inference in a host of other Scriptures as well. Joseph well spoke when he said of his brothers, “you meant it for evil but God meant it for good”. It was evil on the part of his brothers, a violation of several commandments, including prohibitions against manstealing. But God’s secret will was that this would turn out for good for all the patriarchs.

    This same thing can be seen in the devil’s evil attacks on Job, which were part of God’s plan. A evil spirit can be sent by both God and Satan, not because they are the same person (I speak as a mad man!) but because each had a different intention or plan.

    Finally, the murder of our Savior was the violation of the Sixth Commandment, But what Christian would deny that it was God’s will that His son die in order to save us from our sins?

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