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Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658) Against a Universal Divine Saving Desire


Pierre du Moulin (1568–1658) was a Huguenot divine noted for his excellent defences of the faith against Romanism (especially the Jesuits), Arminianism and Amyraldianism. He trained at Sedan and Cambridge; lectured at Leyden and Sedan, was awarded his DD from Cambridge and pastored the prestigious congregataion at Charenton outside Paris. Du Moulin was one of the four representatives delegated by the French Reformed church to the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), but they were forbidden to go by Louis XIII under pain of death. However, this controversy was the occasion for Pierre du Moulin famous anti-Arminian work (in English), Anatomie of Arminianism (London: T. S. for Nathaniel Newbery, 1620). In the quotes below (with spelling modernized), du Moulin opposes the erroneous doctrine that God earnestly desires and wishes and wants (but fails) to save everybody in its Arminian formulation, and many of his criticisms hold good for the contemporary form of this teaching that seeks to pass under the guise of being Calvinistic, contrary to God's unity, power and wisdom, and His eternal will and decree of reprobation.


I. Doctrinal Considerations

A. Pages 29-33

If any doctrine be contumelious against God, this is, accusing him of folly, putting upon him human affections, and falsely attributing to him wishes of no strength, and a desire of no force: as if they should bring in God speaking thus: I do indeed earnestly desire to save you, but ye hinder, that I cannot do what I desire; I would if you would: therefore seeing by you I am frustrated of my intent, I will change my purpose of saving you, and my will being otherwise bent, I have determined to destroy you for ever. It is certainly plain, that this antecedent will of God, is not a will; but a desire and wish, which God doth obtain only by entreaty, and as much as he may, by man's good pleasure. Therefore Arminius doth oftentimes call this will, a desire and natural affection, and it is common to these sectaries to take those places, Psalm 81:14, Isaiah 48:18, where God is brought in speaking, as one willing and desiring, and disappointed of his wish, as if they were properly spoken, when these things are spoken by an anthropopathy and after the manner of men.

Furthermore, how grievous a thing it is to be defrauded of ones desire and natural affection, and how disagreeing this is to God, who doth not see, unless it be he that will willingly be deceived? For if God be most perfectly good, yea goodness itself, it must needs be, that his affections and natural desires (if he have any) are of highest sanctity, justice, and perfection: and therefore nothing is so much to be wished, as that that natural affection might be fulfilled, and that God might obtain his desired end. There is cause therefore that we should grieve for God's cause, who is deceived of that end which is far the best, and who might be made partaker of his wish, if man would let him. See whether the wit of these innovators doth plunge itself, and how honourably they think of God ... For if any such thing should happen, even amongst men, and anyone's endeavour, having tried all things in vain, should be deluded, it would be an argument, either of imprudency, or weakness, or infidelity. There is cause therefore we should lament the state of God, who using an unprosperous success, hath so ill performed the business.

It is also absurd, yea impious to affirm, that that God, to whom all things from eternity are not only forseen, but also provided for; should intend any thing that from eternity he knew would not come to pass, and to have propounded an end to himself, to which he knew he should not attain; as if one should level at a mark which is not, nor ever will be: For if God from eternity knows that this man shall be damned, in vain doth he wish from eternity, that he should be saved: and he doth from eternity know that he shall not be partaker of his natural desire, and his antecedent will.

What a thing is it, that hereby there is brought in resistance between these two wills of God, the latter of which doth correct the former? for by this antecedent will, God doth desire to do that, which from eternity he is certain he shall not do. And God is imagined doing something hardly and unwillingly, and against that end which he had first intended, because man's will comes between, by which it comes to pass, that God doth cease from that end propounded to himself, which was far better, as if per deutopon ploun, upon a second advice, he should obtain some secondary good. Arminius doth not dissemble this, whole words are these: God doth seriously desire all men should be saved, but being compelled by the stubborn and incorrigible malice of some men he will have them make loss of their salvation. But God doth nothing unwillingly, neither can he be compelled by man, to the changing of his will.

And if these weak affections and ineffectual desires, of which he is disappointed, by the stepping between of man's will, be attributed to God, there is no doubt, but that God created man floating between his antecedent and consequent will; as not without grief foreseeing the fall of man, and knowing that he created a creature which would certainly perish ...

For it is impossible that God should at one time desire to save all men, and to damn some. And it must needs be, that the antecedent will of God must cease, as blotted and raced out by his consequent, before there can be place for his consequent will ...

To which purpose, excellently Saint Augustine [states in] Enchiridion, Chapter 95, "Our God in heaven doth whatsoever things he will, both in heaven and earth; which is not true, if he hath willed some things, and hath not done them: And which is more unworthy of him, hath not therefore done them, because the will of man hath hindered that the Almighty should not do what he willed."

B. Page 36

[Nor] ought he [i.e., Arminius] to strike against the wisdom and perfection of God, whom he would frustrate and disappoint of his own end and natural desire, and wish those things which he knows he shall not obtain, and propound an end to himself which shall never be.

C. Page 40

Thus though Arminius doth teach, that God would by his antecedent will save all several men; it is yet manifest by experience, that God through many ages hath denied, and doth yet deny, to most nations, those means without which they cannot be saved, and doth only supply those means, which means alone [and without God's grace], none ever used well.

But God (saith he [i.e., Arminius]) seeing he is very good by nature, cannot but wish well to all men by his antecedent and primary will; as being created after his own image. These things were spoken by them rightly, and agreeably to the nature of God, if we were born without original sin: But seeing the image of God is almost blotted out, and in place of it, the image of the Devil hath succeeded, no reason doth compel us to believe that God is willing to save all and singular men; but the Holy Scripture doth teach, that some are saved by the mere grace of God, and by election, according to his purpose, the rest being left in their natural perdition, and appointed to damnation for those sins which they were to commit of their own accord.

D. Page 411

For he thinketh but ill of God, who teacheth that God doth seriously desire all men to be saved, and to that end doth give to all men sufficient grace, whereby they may be converted and believe, but he doth so sparingly administer this grace, that of infinite millions, scarce one or two hath by this sufficient grace, converted himself and come to faith.

E. Pages 480-481

By the way, the reader shall observe, that unproper phrases, and spoken after the manner of men, ought not to be taken as properly spoken. God is figuratively said to have wished and expected fruit from his vine. Desires, and grief, as if having spent his labour in vain he had failed of his propounded end, cannot happen to God: When God doth wish the conversion of men, as Psalm 81:14, he doth insinuate nothing else, then that the conversion of man is acceptable to him: So when he is said to expect fruit from the vine, or from the fig tree, that is, from the church, or from particular men; and when the vine disappointed his hope, not presently to pluck it up by the roots; understand, that God doth require and demand obedience, and that when that which ought to be done is not done, he is not presently ready to punish, but doth defer it, Luke 13:9.


II. Biblical Exposition

A. Matthew 23:37

[Matthew 23:37] signifieth quite another thing [than Arminius supposes]. Christ speaks to Jerusalem, and saith, that he would have gathered his children together; but Jerusalem herself resisted, with all her power. Jerusalem is one thing, and her children another, who here are expressly distinguished from the city: By Jerusalem understand the priests, the Levites, the scribes, and the prince of the people, for these did most of all withstand Christ: By the children of Jerusalem, understand the people. Christ saith, that he would have gathered together these children; neither is it to be doubted, but that he gathered together many of them, although the rulers were unwilling ... Saint [Augustine] thinks [Enchiridion, chapter 97] ... she indeed would not have her children to be gathered together by him: but even [though] she [was] unwilling, he gathered those of her children whom he himself would (pp. 36-37; cf. p. 479).

B. I Timothy 2:4

They [i.e., the Arminians] do colourably boast of that place, 1 Tim. 2:4 God would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. And, verse 6, Christ gave himself a ransom for all. Also that to Titus, chap. 2 The grace of God, that bringeth salvation unto all men, hath appeared: But that here, by all, are understood any; and men, of whatsoever state and condition, the very context and coherence of the place doth prove. In that place to Timothy, the apostle would have kings to be prayed for; in that place to Titus, he commandeth servants to be faithful, and not to purloin. Of this exhortation, this is the cause and reason; because the promise of salvation did belong to kings, although at that time they were strangers from Christ; and to servants, although they were of an abject and base state; neither is any condition of men excluded from salvation. Saint [Augustine] doth thus take this place of the first [letter] to Timothy [Enchiridion, chapter 103]. And [so too does] Thomas [Aquinas] in his commentary upon this epistle ... For if God should absolutely will, or should seriously desire all and particular men to be saved, there would not be wanting means to him, whereby he might effect what he would, and [they] be made partakers of his desire (pp. 247-248, 249; cf. p. 355).

C. Ezekiel 18.23

Ezekiel 18.23. God saith in these words; I am not delighted with the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted, and live. These words [contrary to the Arminians] say nothing else than that God will[s] not the death of that sinner who is converted: But if he be not converted, Arminius himself will not deny, but that God doth will his death; as the judge doth will the punishment of him that is guilty. God is not delighted with the death of a sinner, as he is a man, but yet no man can deny, but that God loveth the execution of his justice (p. 250).