1: God Wishes All Men
to be Saved;
3. OTHER TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE
But let us return to our
point, that God sincerely wills all men to be saved. There are other
which prove the same thing, as when God says: "As I live, saith the
I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked man turn from
his way and live." [Ezek. 33: 11] He not only says that He wills not
the death, but
that He wills the life of a sinner; and He swears, as Tertullian
in order that He may be more readily believed in this: "When
"For wrath is in His indignation, and life in His will." [Ps. 29: 6] If
us, He does it because our sins provoke Him to indignation; but as to
His will, He wills not our death, but our life: "Life is His will." St.
Basil says about this text, that God wills all to be made partakers of
life. David says elsewhere: "Our God is the God of salvation; and of
the Lord of the Lord are the issues from death." [Ps. 67: 21] On this
says: 'This is proper to Him, this is His nature, our God is a saving
and His are the issues from death-----that is,
liberation from it;" so
that it is God's proper nature to save all, and to deliver all from
says: "Come to Me, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will
you." [Matt. 11: 28] If He calls all to salvation, then He truly wills
all to be saved.
Again, St. Peter says: "He willeth not that any should perish, but that
all should return to penance." [2 Peter 3: 9] He does not will the
damnation of anyone,
but He wills that all should do penance, and so should be saved.
Again, our Lord says: "I stand at the gate and knock; if anyone will open, I will enter." [Apoc. 3: 20] "Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return and live." [Ezek. 18: 31] "What is there that I ought to do more to My vineyard, that I have not done to it?" [Is. 5: 4] "How often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not!" [Matt. 23: 37] How could our Lord have said that He stands knocking at the heart of us sinners? How exhort us so strongly to return to His arms? How reproach us by asking what more He could have done for our salvation? How say that He has willed to receive us as children, if He had not a true will to save all men? Again, St. Luke relates that our Lord, looking over Jerusalem from a distance, and contemplating the destruction of its people because of their sin: "Seeing the city, He wept over it." [19: 41] Why did He weep then, says Theophylact [after St. Chrysostom], seeing the ruin of the Jews, unless it was because He really desired their salvation? Now then, after so many attestations of our Lord, in which He makes known to us that He wills to see all men saved, how can it ever be said that God does not will the salvation of all? "But if these texts of Scripture," says Petavius, "in which God has testified His will in such clear and often-repeated expressions, nay even with tears and with an oath, may be abused and distorted to the very opposite sense,-----namely, that God determined to send all mankind [except a few] to perdition, and never had a will to save them, what dogma of faith is so clear as to be safe from similar injury and cavil?" This great writer says, that to deny that God really wills the salvation of all men, is an insult and cavil against the plainest doctrines of the faith. And Cardinal Sfondratl adds: "Those who think otherwise, seem to me to make God a mere stage-god; like those people who pretend to be kings in a play, when indeed they are anything but kings."
4. GENERAL CONSENT OF THE FATHERS
this truth, that God wills all men to
be saved, is confirmed by the general
consent of the Fathers. There can be
no doubt that
all the Greek Fathers have been uniform in saying that God wills all
each individual to be saved. So St. Justin, St., Basil, St. Gregory,
St. Cyril, St. Methodius, and St.
Chrysostom, all adduced by Petavius. But let us see what the Latin Fathers say:
St. Hilary: "God would that all men were saved, and not those alone who are to belong to the number of the elect, but all absolutely, so as to make no exception."
St. Paulinus: "Christ says to all, 'Come to Me,' et.; for He, the Creator of all men, so far as He is concerned, wills every man to be saved."
St. Ambrose: "Even with
the wicked He had to manifest His will [to save them], and therefore He
could not pass over His betrayer, that all might see that in the
even of the traitor He exhibits [His desire] of saving all . . . and,
as God is concerned, He shows to all that He was willing to deliver