The Decrees of God relate to all Events

God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. Some events are necessary, that is, are brought about by the action of necessary causes; others are contingent or free, or are acts of free agents; some are morally good, others are sinful. The doctrine of the Bible is, that all events, whether necessary or contingent, good or sinful, are included in the purpose of God, and that their futurition or actual occurrence is rendered absolutely certain. This is evident, --

  1. From the unity of the divine purposes. That unity supposes that the whole scheme of creation, providence, and redemption, was fixed by the divine decree. It was formed from ages in the divine mind, and is gradually unfolded by the course of events. It is therefore inconsistent with this sublime and Scriptural representation, to suppose that any class of actual events, and especially that class which is most influential and important, should be omitted from the divine purpose. He who purposes a machine, purposes all its parts. The general who plans a campaign, includes all the movements of every corps, division, and brigade in his army, and if his foresight were perfect, and his control of events absolute, his foreordination would extend to every act of every soldier. Whatever is wanting in his foreordination is due to the limitation of human power. As God is infinite in knowledge and resources, his purpose must include all events.
  2. It is therefore inconsistent with the perfection of God to suppose either that He could not form a plan comprehending all events, or that He could not carry it into execution, without doing violence to the nature of his creatures.
  3. The universality of the decree follows from the universal dominion of God. Whatever He does, He certainly purposed to do. Whatever He permits to occur, He certainly purposed to permit. Nothing can occur that was not foreseen, and if foreseen it must have been intended. As the Scriptures teach that the providential control of God extends to all events, even the most minute, they do thereby teach that his decrees are equally comprehensive.
  4. Another argument is derived from the certainty of the divine government. As all events are more or less intimately connected, and as God works by means, if God does not determine the means as well as the event, all certainty as to the event itself would be destroyed. In determining the redemption of man, He thereby determined on the mission, incarnation, sufferings, death, and resurrection of his Son, on the gift of the Spirit, upon the faith, repentance, and perseverance of all his people. The prediction of future events, which often depend on the most fortuitous occurrences, or which include those that appear to us of no account, proves that the certainty of the divine administration rests on the foreordination of God extending to all events both great and small.

The Scriptures in various ways teach that God foreordains whatever
comes to pass.

  1. They teach that God works all things according to the counsel of his will. There is nothing to limit the words "all things," and therefore they must be taken in the fullest extent.
  2. It is expressly declared that fortuitous events, that is, events which depend on causes so subtle and so rapid in their operation as to elude our observation, are predetermined; as the falling of the lot, the flight of an arrow, the falling of a sparrow, the number of the hairs of our heads.

    Free Acts are Foreordained.

  3. The Bible especially declares that the free acts of men are decreed beforehand. This is involved in the doctrine of prophecy, which assumes that events involving the free acts of a multitude of men are foreseen and foreordained. God promises to give faith, a new heart, to write his law upon the minds of his people, to work in them to will and to do, to convert the Gentiles, to fill the world with the true worshippers of Christ, to whom every knee is gladly to bow. If God has promised these things, He must of course purpose them, but they all involve the free acts of men.
  4. The Scriptures teach that sinful acts, as well as such as are holy, are foreordained. In Acts ii. 23, it is said, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain;" iv. 27. "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." "Truly the Son of Man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed." (Luke xxii. 22.) It was foreordained that He should be betrayed; but woe to him who fulfilled the decree. Here foreordination and responsibility are by our Lord Himself declared to coexist and to be consistent. In Rev. xvii. 17, it is said, "God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." The crucifixion of Christ was beyond doubt foreordained of God. It was, however, the greatest crime ever committed. It is therefore beyond all doubt the doctrine of the Bible that sin is foreordained.
  5. Besides this, the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of Jerusalem, and many other similar events, were predicted, and therefore predetermined, but they included the commission of innumerable sins, without which the predictions, and consequently the revealed purposes of God, could not have been accomplished.
  6. The whole course of history is represented as the development of the plan and purposes of God; and yet human history is little else than the history of sin. No one can read the simple narrative concerning Joseph, as given in the book of Genesis, without seeing that everything in his history occurred in execution of a preconceived purpose of God. The envy of his brethren, their selling him into Egypt, and his unjust imprisonment, were all embraced in God's plan. "God," as Joseph himself said to his brethren, "sent me before you, to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God." (Gen. xlv. 7, 8.) This is but an illustration. What is true of the history of Joseph, is true of all history. It is the development of the plan of God: God is in history, and although we cannot trace his path step by step, yet it is plain in the general survey of events, through long periods, that they are ordered by God to the accomplishment of his divine purposes. This is obvious enough in the history of the Jewish nation, as recorded in the Scripture, but it is no less true in regard to all history. The acts of the wicked in persecuting the early Church, were ordained of God as the means for the wider and more speedy proclamation of the Gospel. The sufferings of the martyrs were the means not only of extending but of purifying the Church. The apostasy of the man of sin being predicted, was predetermined. The destruction of the Huguenots in France, the persecution of the Puritans in England, laid the foundation for the planting of North America with a race of godly and energetic men, who were to make this land the land of refuge for the nations, the home of liberty, civil and religious. It would destroy the confidence of God's people could they be persuaded that God does not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. It is because the Lord reigns, and doeth his pleasure in heaven and on earth, that they repose in perfect security under his guidance and protection.

Hodge v 1 p 542

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