William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

The Decrees of God

by William Ames

1. In the exercise of God's efficiency, the decree of God comes
first. This manner of working is the most perfect of all and
notably agrees with the divine nature.

2. The decree of God is his firm decision by which he performs all
things through his almighty power according to his counsel.
Ephesians 1:11, "He does all things out of the counsel of His own

3. God's constancy, truth, and faithfulness appear in His decree.
7. Every decree of God is eternal, 1 Corinthians 2:7, "But we speak
the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God
ordained before the world unto our glory:"

9. The counsel of God is, as it were, his deliberation over the best
manner of accomplishing anything already approved by the
understanding and the will.

10. Counsel is attributed to God because of his perfect judgment
whereby he does all things advisedly, i.e. willingly and knowingly,
not as a result of inquiry as men make judgments. For God sees and
wills all things and everything at once. Therefore his counsel is
said to resemble deliberation in the strict sense.

11. Three things concur in the perfection of this counsel: one, the
purpose [scopus] or the end set forth; two, the mental conception of
that end; three, the intention and agreement of the will.

12. The purpose or end of the counsel is the glory of God himself,
i.e. the goodness or perfection of God which is manifest in his
efficiency and shines forth in his works. Ephesians 1:6, "To the
praise of his glorious grace."

17. An idea in man is first impressed upon him and afterwards
expressed in things, but in God it is only expressed, not impressed,
because it does not come from anywhere else.

18. From this one foundation all errors of merit and foreseen faith
can be substantially refuted. For if a particular decree of God
depended upon any foresight then an idea of God would have to come
to him from somewhere else, which hardly agrees with his nature.

31. That conjectural knowledge which some attribute to God about
future contingencies is plainly incompatible with the divine nature
and perfection.

32. The good pleasure of God is an act of the divine will freely and
effectively determining all things.

37. This will is effectual, because whatever he wills he effects in
his own time; neither is there anything not done if he wills it to
be done. Psalm 115:3; 135:6, "Whatsoever he pleases, the Lord does."
38. The will of God is therefore the first cause of things, Rev.
4:11, "By thy will they are and were created." The will of God as
it works outwardly does not presuppose the goodness of the object;
but he creates and disposes by willing, James 1:8, "Of his own will
he begat us," Romans 9:18, "He has mercy on whom he will."
48. In whatever God wills he is universally effectual; he is not
hindered or frustrated in obtaining what he wills. For if he should
properly will anything and not attain it he would not be wholly
perfect and blessed.

51. In the things which God wills there is a certain order to be
conceived. He wills the end before the means to the end because he
works according to the most perfect reason. Among means, he wills
first those which come nearest to the end; that which is first in
order of execution is last in order of intention and vice versa.
52. The will of God is partly hidden and partly revealed,
Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God:
but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our
children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."


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