October 19, 2008

Oliver Heywood on God's Will, Christ's Desire and the Spirit's Kind Impulses

"4. It will greatly aggravate wicked men's torment to consider, that this was their own doing. "Their destruction is of themselves;" they can blame none but themselves though they had many incentives and temptations. Neither the devil nor wicked men could ever push them into hell against their will: God saith, "He wills not the death of a sinner." Jesus Christ expressed his earnest desire for their salvation by his death;[1] the Spirit came with his kind suggestions and impulses; pious ministers and christian friends prayed for them, and took pains with them to save them, so that our Lord himself saith, Matt, xxiii. 37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not?" There was God's gathering time of mercy, but that is past: now there is a gathering time of wrath, when the "chaff must be burnt in unquenchable fire." They might have been happy, but would not. "They observed lying vanities, and forsook their own mercies;" now there is no remedy. They chose the things "wherein he delighted not," and now "he will choose their delusions," Isa. Ixvi. 3, 4."

[1] It is clear in other parts of Heywood's writings that he did not think that Christ suffered for the sins of all humanity, but the above quote does demonstrate his strong belief that God wills the salvation of the wicked who finally perish.

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