Our comparison and contrast of the WCF with the 2LC continues through chapter 3,
Of God’s Eternal Decree. In this installment we see some interesting revisions and one striking omission.
|1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.||1. God hath Decreed in himself from all Eternity, by the most wise and holy Councel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to passe; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the Creature, nor yet is the liberty, or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power, and faithfulness in accomplishing his Decree.|
The first clause in section 1 in the LCF comes not from the WCF but from the First London Confession. Both begin with the words,
God hath decreed in himself.
In the previous chapter, we say this relation as well. This section follows the WCF and the Savoy again except where it follows the LCF by adding
all things after
unchangeably. We also see a minor change in the word order from
thereby neither is God to
thereby is God neither…. This seems purely stylistic.
Below that we see another change from the language of the WCF where the 2LC adds the clause
nor hath anything fellowship with any therein…. This is another example of the pattern of intensifying the language of the WCF. The 2LC also changes the plural
creatures to the singular.
but rather established the 2LC adds
in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things and…Decree again following the 1LC and not the WCF nor the Savoy.
Section 2 of the 2LC is identical to the WCF and the Savoy.
|3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.||3. By the decree of God for the manifestation of his glory some men and Angels, are predestinated, or fore-ordained to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.|
The clause beginning
or foreordained…glorious justice is taken almost verbatim (there are some minor variations between the 1LC and 2LC here) from the 1LC and represents an elaboration on or an intensification of the WCF (and the Savoy).
Section 4 of the 2LC is identical to the WCF and the Savoy.
Section 5 of the 2LC makes only two minor revisions of the WCF. Where the latter says,
any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes, moving him… the 2LC says,
any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him…. These changes seem immaterial.
Section 6 in the 2LC is identical to the WCF.
|7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.||7. [No parallel text found in the Second London Confession]|
Both the WCF and the Savoy contain the same section 7. The 2LC, however, does not (here at least) contain this section. I cannot speculate as to why the 2LC omits this section but only note that it does. The next section, numbered 7 in the 2LC is equivalent to section 8 in the WCF and Savoy. This is a puzzling omission that reminds one of the omission of what is, in the WCF, numbered 7.2, the section on the covenant of works. When I first noticed that omission, several years ago, because I was assuming a greater continuity between the 2LC and WCF than exists, I incorrectly concluded that the 2LC did not expressly teach the covenant of works. The 2LC repeats WCF 20.1 but not 7.2, which (as in the present case) only intensifies the question as to why these omissions. Were these pedagogical decisions or did they represent some theological disagreement? Since the 2LC repeats WCF 20.1, it is not clear what the theological disagreement would be. The questions are relevant here, under section 7. Why the omission? The language used by the WCF and the Savoy in section 7 is typically associated with the infralapsarian view of the logical order of the divine decree, whereby the elect and the reprobate are considered as created and fallen. Broadly speaking, in the supralapsarian view, the elect and reprobate are considered as potentials and not as created or fallen. Hence the distinction between the prefixes supra. Were the framers of the 2LC signaling a supralapsarian position or some other dissatisfaction with the infralapsarianism of the WCF? Whatever the case, the omission is interesting and is another indication that the 2LC is not merely a revision of the Savoy or the WCF.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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