“You [John Cotton] proceed in clearing a difficulty devised and shaped without all ground, as if any sober man would find it strange that a conditionate will of God should not be accomplished as often as the condition fails.
I have now been something more than ordinarily conversant in these controversies for the space of seventeen years; I never yet met with any of our divines, or any other, that made any question whether God’s will, being granted to pass on any object, were serious, yea or no: I should think, there is no intelligent man living that makes any doubt of this; but puts it rather out of all question, that whatsoever God wills, He wills it seriously.
For, that which you here deliver as God’s end in giving life, is proposed simply and absolutely; but that which hitherunto you have endeavored to prove is only this, that God’s will was to give the world life conditionally: to wit, upon their obedience and repentance: and that, as, in the last place coming to the point, you have expressed it in a disjunct axiom, thus, To give life to the creature, upon his obedience, or to inflict death upon his disobedience: Now let any sober man judge whether in this case the will of God be more to give life, than to inflict death; more passing upon the salvation of the creature, than upon his eternal condemnation?…
I nothing doubt but that if all and every one should believe and repent, all and every one should be saved…
“But whereas hitherto you have but prevaricuted, pleading for that which no man denies, namely, that God’s purpose towards them is but in a disjunct manner, either for salvation if they obey, or for condemnation in case they disobey; or, only in a conditionate manner willing life unto them, and that, upon such a condition as He well knows will never be performed by them;”
The 5th Doubt, Question 5, pp. 207-8
“First, that God offers to the men of this world, helps and means, either of the knowledge of God in Nature, or of grace in Christ: and that to this end, to lead them to repentance and salvation. Thus is God said to manifest to the Gentiles that which may be known of Him by his works, and by his Law written in their hearts, and that to this end, to make them to seek after the Lord, to lead them to repentance, to withdraw them from their courses, to heal their pride and to save their souls from the pit.
Thus God offered to the carnal Israelites means of grace to purge them, to turn them, Prov. 1:13, to gather them, Mt. 23:37, to convince them, Jn. 16:8-9, to draw them with cords of man and bands of love, Hos. 11:4, to dress them to bring forth good fruit, Isa. 5:4.
Secondly, that the means God uses for these good ends are in some measure sufficient (if they be not hindered by men) to bring them to the attainment of these ends: for when God says Himself, He uses these means for these ends; for us to say, these means are not sufficient for these ends, seems to me to derogate from the wisdom and sufficiency of God, whose works are all of them perfect, Deut. 32:4, and so sufficient for the ends for which He wrought them. Yet God forbid I should doubt of that which our Savior tells the Jews, ‘No man can come to Christ, except the Father draw him,’ Jn. 6:44, by the same almighty power and authority whereby He sent Christ into the world.”