August 28, 2007

William Bates (1625–1699) on the Judgment of the Wicked

"But how dreadful will his coming in majesty to judgment be to the wicked! "They shall see him whom they have pierced," and with bitter lamentation remember the indignities offered to him. What excuses can they allege, why they did not believe and obey the gospel? Our Saviour revealed high mysteries, but confirmed them with great miracles. He required strict holiness, but offered divine grace to enable men to do his will. "He poured forth his Spirit upon them," but their hearts were as hard as the rocks, and as barren as the sands. Then he will reproach them for their insolent contempt of all the perfections of his Divine nature, and the bleeding sufferings of his human nature to reconcile them to God: for their undervaluing "neglect of the great salvation," so dearly purchased, and so freely and earnestly offered to them: for their obstinacy, that the purple streams that flowed from his crucified body, that all the sorrows and agonies of his soul were not effectual persuasives to make them forsake their sins: for their "preferring the bramble to reign over them," Satan the destroyer of souls, and ungrateful rejecting the true vine, the blessed Saviour, who by so many miraculous mercies solicited their love, and deserved their service; this will make the sentence as just as terrible, and the more terrible because just. This will exasperate the anguish, that the gospel shall be a "savor of death to them;" and the blessed Redeemer pronounce them " cursed," and despatch them" to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels for ever." The judgment of the Redeemer will be more heavy than that of the Creator. For all the riches of his goodness which they despised, shall be the measure of their guilt and woes. All the means of grace used for their conversion, but frustrated by their perverseness, shall be charged upon their score. What consternation will seize the wicked, when ten thousand accusers shall rise up in judgment against them, and not one advocate appear for their defence? Satan will be ready to aggravate their sins above his own: for although the superior excellence of his nature and state did heighten his obligation, and consequently his disobedience to his Creator, and that he sinned of himself, derived a guilt upon him exceeding that of man's original sin, who was seduced to his ruin; yet in that justice was so quick and severe, that the angels after their sin were immediately expelled from their blessed habitation, no space of repentance was allowed; and no mediator interposed to obtain terms of reconciliation with the incensed Deity, their doom was final and irrevocable: but after our rebellious sin, the Son of God, such was his immortal love, was willing to be mortal to redeem sinful men, and freely offered himself a sacrifice to atone the divine displeasure: and a day of grace and long sufferance was granted, and many compassionate invitations were sent from heaven to soften their stony hearts: but they neglected and despised the grace of the gospel, and wilfully excluded themselves from mercy. In this respect they are more guilty than the fallen angels; and justice will revenge the abuse of mercy. Do they hope to soften the judge by submissions and deprecations? Alas! he will be inflexible to all their prayers and tears. The Lamb will be then a lion armed with terrors for their destruction. Or can they appeal to a higher court to mitigate or reverse the sentence? No, his authority is supreme, and confirmed by the immutable oath of God. Or, do they think to resist the execution of the sentence? Desperate folly! The angels, notwithstanding their numbers and strength, could not for a moment escape his revenging hand. The whole world of sinners is of no more force against his wrath, than the light dust against a whirlwind, or dry stubble against devouring fire. Or do they think, by a stubborn spirit, to endure it? Self-deceiving wretches! If the correction of his children here, though allayed, and for their amendment, make "their beauty and strength consume away as a moth," how insupportable will the vengeance be on his obstinate enemies?" Who knows the power of his anger ?" Who can sound the depths of his displeasure?"

William Bates, like his friend John Howe (see here, here, here and here), also advocated a Calvinistic form of universal redemption.

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