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are not therefore the result of deliberation in any sense that implies shortsightedness or hesitancy.

Logically, in God?s decree the sun precedes the sunlight, and the decree to bring into being a father precedes the decree that there shall be a son. God decrees man before he decrees man?s act; he decrees the creation of man before he decrees man?s existence. But there is no chronological succession. ?Counsel? in <490111>Ephesians 1:11 ? ?the counsel of his will? means, not deliberation, but wisdom.

(c) Since the will, in which the decrees have their origin is a free will, the decrees are not a merely instinctive or necessary exercise of the divine intelligence or volition, such as pantheism supposes.

It belongs to the perfection of God that he has a plan, and the best possible plan. Here is no necessity, but only the certainty that infinite wisdom will act wisely. God?s decrees are not God; they are not identical with his essence; they do not flow from his being in the same necessary way in which the eternal Son proceeds from the eternal Father. There is free will in God, which acts with infinite certainty, yet without necessity. To call even the decree of salvation necessary is to deny grace, and to make an unfree God. See Dick, Lectures on Theology, 1:355; lect. 34.

(d) The decrees have reference to things outside of God. God does not decree to be holy or to exist as three persons in one essence.

Decrees are the preparation for external events ? the embracing of certain things and acts in a plan. They do not include those processes and operations within the Godhead which have no reference to the universe.

(e) The decrees primarily respect the acts of God himself, in Creation, Providence and Grace; secondarily, the acts of free creatures, which he foresees will result therefrom.

While we deny the assertion of Whedon, that ? the divine plan embraces only divine actions,? we grant that God?s plan has reference primarily to his own actions and that the sinful acts of men, in particular, are the objects, not of a decree that God will efficiently produce them, but of a decree that God will permit men, in the exercise of their own free will, to produce them.

(f) The decree to act is not the act. The decrees are an internal exercise and manifestation of the divine attributes, and are not to be confounded with

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