08 February, 2017

James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862) on Ezekiel 33:11



Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezek. 33:11 KJV)


(I)

[Source: The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell (Edinburgh: Banner, 1974), vol. 2, pp. 168-169, emphasis added]

The next which I shall notice is Ezek. xxxiii. 11: ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have not pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live; turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?’ The remarks of Turretin on this passage are so just and appropriate that I cannot forbear to translate them: ‘Although God here protests that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked should turn from his ways and live, it does not follow that God willed or intended, upon any condition, the conversion and life of each and every man. For, besides that conversion cannot be conditional, it being the condition of life itself, it is certain that the prophet is here speaking of God’s preceptive and not His decretive will. The word [
chaphets], which is here used, always denotes complacency or delight. The passage simply teaches that God is pleased with, or approves, the conversion and life of the sinner, as a thing in itself grateful to Him and suited to His merciful nature. God is pleased with this rather than the death of the sinner, and therefore enjoins it as a duty that men be converted if they expect to be saved. But although God takes no delight in the death of the sinner, considered merely as the destruction of the creature, it does not follow that He does not will and intend it as an exercise of His own justice and as an occasion of manifesting His glory. A pious magistrate takes no delight in the death of the guilty, but still he justly decrees the punishment demanded by the laws. The interrogatory, “Why will ye die?” is added because God would show to them in these words how death was to be avoided, and that they, by voluntary impenitence, were the sole authors of their own ruin.'


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(II)

More to come! (DV)




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