Chapter 97.—In What Sense Does the Apostle Say that “God Will Have All Men to Be Saved,” When, as a Matter of Fact, All are Not Saved?
Hence we must inquire in what sense is said of God what the apostle has mostly truly said: “Who will have all men to be saved.” 1277 For, as a matter of fact, not all, nor even a majority, are saved: so that it would seem that what God wills is not done, mans will interfering with, and hindering the will of God. When we ask the reason why all men are not saved, the ordinary answer is: “Because men p. 268 themselves are not willing.” This, indeed cannot be said of infants, for it is not in their power either to will or not to will. But if we could attribute to their will the childish movements they make at baptism, when they make all the resistance they can, we should say that even they are not willing to be saved. Our Lord says plainly, however, in the Gospel, when upbraiding the impious city: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” 1278 as if the will of God had been overcome by the will of men, and when the weakest stood in the way with their want of will, the will of the strongest could not be carried out. And where is that omnipotence which hath done all that it pleased on earth and in heaven, if God willed to gather together the children of Jerusalem, and did not accomplish it? or rather, Jerusalem was not willing that her children should be gathered together? But even though she was unwilling, He gathered together as many of her children as He wished: for He does not will some things and do them, and will others and do them not; but “He hath done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth.”
1 Tim. 2.41 Tim. ii. 4. [See R.V.]268:1278