A Summary of Samuel Rutherford on the Revealed Will of God

Rutherford (1600-1661) was one of the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly




A Summary of Rutherford on the Revealed Will

Guy Richard, The Supremacy of God in the Theology of Samuel Rutherford, 2008, Paternoster and Wipf and Stock, p. 103

Voluntas beneplaciti et signi [The Will of Good-pleasure (decree) and Sign (the revealed will)]

The second and most common distinction that Rutherford makes in regard to the divine will is one that involves the relationship between the will ad intra [to within] and ad extra [to without], namely, the voluntas Dei beneplaciti et signi [the divine will of good-pleasure and revealed] … Rutherford defines the voluntas beneplaciti [will of good-pleasure] as ‘the decree of God’, by which He determines all things, both good and bad, that will come to pass ‘in his own time’.  It is the hidden or decretive (decretiva) will of God, that which God ‘cannot not satisfy’.  It differs from the voluntas signi, which is the ‘revealed’ (revelata), ‘approving’ (approbans), or ‘commanding’ (praecipiens) will of God, whereby He makes known to his creatures all that He approves of, as being

‘morally lawful and noble, even if the future actuality of… [those] good thing[s] may never be decreed by God’. (Examen, p. 182; Exercitationes, p. 214)

In this way God desires, approves, and commands many things to be done, which He decrees not to be done in actuality, and He forbids many things from being done, which He decrees to be done in actuality.  Although it may sound like it, these two wills are not contradictory.  God does not decree by his voluntas beneplaciti [will of good-pleasure] or command by his voluntas signi [revealed will] that something be both done and not done.  But He does approve of certain things being done by his voluntas beneplaciti [will of good-pleasure] that He does not approve of nor command to be done by his voluntas signi [revealed will].  For example, Rutherford says that God ‘desires the obedience of Judas and Herod and Pilate’, by his approving, commanding, and revealed will, and ‘yet He decreed [by his hidden or decretive will] that they should crucify the Lord of glory’.  And He approves and commands

‘by his Voluntas Signi the perfect obedience of his own Law: But He decreed by his Voluntas Beneplaciti from eternity that there would be no one besides Christ, who would perfectly satisfy the Law.’ (Examen, p. 182)





Related Pages

Samuel Rutherford on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Samuel Rutherford on the Three Loves of God

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer