June 24, 2017

John Mayer (1583–1664) on Ezekiel 18:23, 30–32

Have I any pleasure at all, that the wicked should die, but that he should turn from his ways and live? The case of a wicked man turning and living, notwithstanding his former wickedness being laid open in the premises, now he infers upon this ground that the Lord wills not, neither delights in any mans death, but in his conversion and salvation, that none, how far soever they have gone in sin, might despair, but by hope in his mercy be drawn to turn unto him, that is so gracious.

But against this it is objected both that he has fore-appointed some to damnation, and that it is not in man to will, but he works to will and to do of his own good pleasure: if then he take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, why does he not turn him?

Sol[ution]. He offers him grace and pardon for all that is past to turn him, yea he counsels him to turn, and entreats him, by his benefits seeks to lead him to repentance [Rom. 2:4], and which is more than all this, he knocks at the door of his heart by his Spirit [Rev. 3:20], and who can say then, but that it is true, which is here said, he delights not in his dying?

Obj[ection]. But all this is nothing, if either he has fore-appointed him to death, or works not effectually with the means, whereby he may be converted.

Sol[ution]. He fore-ordains none to damnation, but such as he foresees will be impenitent, when he has used all the means of reclaiming them, that may be, and therefore Christ speaking of the cursed going into hell fire, says not prepared for you, but for the devil and his angels, whereas contrariwise to the blessed he says, come into the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning, so that impenitent sinners come into condemnation by their preferring of the pleasures of sin before the joy of salvation; for his effectual working upon his will, he works so by his word and Spirit, that he may, if there be not an aversion in his will, turn himself being thus holpen, as it is said here v. 32. Turn yourselves and live, for if God, who bids us thus to do, stood not ready to help and enable us, this were but a delusion. But doing all that can be expected to be done on his part, yea that he could do, as he says, Isa. 5 the impenitent sinner is unreasonable in charging him, as the cause of his non-conversion, when as indeed he is solely the cause thereof to himself and consequently of damnation, as a man in the water held up by the chin, that thrusts away his hand that holds him up that he might swim out, if he sinks and be drowned, is the sole cause of his own death. And the rather is the sinner the cause of his own damnation, because he is not only held up as it were, but exhorted over and over to turn and live, v. 30, 31, 32. so that unless God would save him against his will, or take and carry him to heaven as a block or dead thing, he never putting on to do any thing tending to salvation, and so do more for him, then for any that are saved, he can never attain life, but must die and perish everlastingly. God indeed as August[ine] has it, made thee without thee, but thou must not expect, that he should save thee without thee.
John Mayer, A Commentary Upon All the Prophets Both Great and Small (London: Printed by Abraham Miller and Ellen Cotes, 1652), 421–422. Some spelling modernized.


No comments: