Rudolph Gualther on the Will of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God's Will for the Salvation of All Men

God desires to save men:

1) For which cause Paul also willing to confirm the old law, forbids us to “bear the yoke with unbelievers.” Also it behooves us to mark the goodness of God, which suffered the word of the Gospel, whereby life and salvation is offered unto man, to be preached unto those that were polluted with such filthy lust. He is therefore truly that God which desires to have men saved, and wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent and live. Hereunto belong many examples of the Gospel, wherein we read that Christ of a certain singular favor and familiarity, offered salvation unto Publicans and Harlots. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 828.

2) The first thing we have to note, is how Christ commanded Paul now friendly to arise and to stand up on his feet, whom erewhile he had horribly thrown down as his enemy, and persecuted. But this thing happened not, (as we have other-wheres heard) before his heart was pulled down, and that he humbly inquired what the will of God was, and acknowledged him to be his Lord. Which thing yet he would never have done, but that he felt in his mind and affections working of the Spirit of Christ. This truly is a notable example of God’s goodness, which even then evidently declares itself, when he seemed to be angry. For he will not be chiding with us, but forasmuch as he desires to have men saved, he observes this scope and end in his judgements, that he will have men rather instructed to salvation, than destroyed. Neither will he draw forth his whips and scourges, until he see he cannot prevail by his words. Neither yet does he beat us for any other end, than to have us convert unto him, and to trust to be saved: whereof we have both testimonies and examples everywhere in the Scriptures, wherewith we may confirm our wavering faith in all troubles and adversities. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 858-859.

Ezekiel 18:23:

1) And when they can see nothing but the heinousness of sin, and the horrible wrath of God, then they begin to cry out with Cain: “My wickedness is greater than can be forgiven,” and so at length with Judas, ‘come to an unhappy end.’ We must therefore after the example of these men, go farther, and not stick in the bitter terrors of conscience. We must take counsel of the thing whereof our terrors rise, that is to say, of the Word of God, which thing (as Pelias did sometime with his Javeling against Telephus) both wounded their consciences, and makes them whole again. Neither must we here be so afraid with the grievousness of sin, that we must think ourselves forlorn and past hope. For this sentence of God remains still in his full strength, which says: “ I will not the death of the sinner, but rather that he convert and live.” And Christ our Lord does not only promise, that they that seek shall find, but also promises that he is a Physician for such as are sick in conscience, and in every place bids them that travail and heavy laden to come unto him. And we must not think it was not without the secret instinct and working of God, that they whose hands as yet reeked with the blood of the Son of God, were the first that heard the Apostle preach. For God in this doing would have us persuaded, that the merit of Jesus Christ, and the liberality of his goodness, could not be counterpoised or outweighed with any sins, so that we would cleave unto him by faith. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 130.

2) It is most worthy to be observed, where they say repentance unto life is given unto the Gentiles, by preaching of the Gospel. For in so saying, they testify that they speak of that repentance which through faith in Christ brings salvation, and which we may call the scope and mark of all the Gospel, which is that we being reconciled unto God through Christ, should turn unto him with all our hearts, and live in him. For so Paul writes:

God has reconciled us unto himself by Jesus Christ, and has given us the office to preach the atonement.1 Now then we are messengers in the room of Christ, even as though God did beseech you through us. So pray we you in Christ’s stead to be reconciled unto God.

They name repentance expressly, having respect unto that saying of Christ, which commands both repentance, and forgiveness of sins to be preached in his name. Neither must these two at any time be separated, lest men take occasion under pretense of the Gospel, to live carnally. Again, this has in it a singular comfort, that he says, “repentance unto life.” Therefore repentance is in the faithful is never vain or unfruitful, but makes them partakers of salvation through Christ. There are apparent promises of God, wherein he everywhere promises unto men, which turn unto him with all their heart. Where he says: “I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he convert and live.” And we must not think that God flatters or deludes any man with vain promises. Hereto belongs the whole book almost of the Judges, which proves by many examples, that the Israelites never returned to God, by true repentance in vain. And it is manifest that the Ninevites through the faithful repentance caused God to revoke his sentence passed against them. And shall I speak of these seeing we read that the repentance that Ahab had only for a season, and little time, was by the mouth of God commended? These things ought to encourage them, which stand upon the pit-brink of desperation, thinking that God is so offended with them for their former wickedness, that their repentance is not acceptable unto him. Which men would be comforted with these sayings of the Prophet: “If your sins were red as Scarlet, hey shall be as white as snow: and though they were like purple, they shall be as white as wool.” Again: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, long-suffering, and of great goodness. He will not always be chiding,” &c. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 472-473.

3) Let us pass this pump and stink of superstition, return we unto Paul, which traveling out of Achaia unto Asia the lesser, came to Ephesus, where we have to consider four things in order. First he goes unto the Synagogue and disputes with the Jews. Again here appears the love he bare to his countrymen, whom for many causes (as we have other-wheres declared) he could not hate. This example of Paul teaches us, that the wrath and judgement of God should so be set out unto the wicked, that if they convert, they may yet know there is hope left that God will be favorable unto them. For it is God that says: “I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he convert and live.” Wherefore we must use all diligence that we can, to bring and win people unto the Lord. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 695.

4) For inasmuch as God in the Scriptures will be called our Father, he resembles good and faithful fathers, who seek nothing so much as the conversion and amendment of their children, as Christ abundantly teaches in the parable of the Prodical child. Yea and he himself by his Prophet says, “Have I any desire that the wicked should die? and not rather that he should turn from his evil ways and live? Again if your sins be as Crimson, yet shall they be whiter than snow: if they were as red as scarlet, yet they shall be as white as wool. Rodolph Gualther, The Homilies or familiar Sermons of M. Rodolph Gualther Tigurine upon the Prophet Ioel, (Imprinted in London for William Ponsonby, 1582), 42[b].

1 Tim 2:4:

1) The chief thing here to be considered, was th remembrance of the law, which the Scripture says, was given that day and uttered by the mouth of God’s Majesty. It shall appear that this day, was appointed by God for this business, not without a cause, if we consider the number of the people which used to be present at this feast,2 and well mark Christ to be the truest, and best expositor of the old law. For it is every where seen that God used to notify and publish to all men, the things that concern our salvation. For he would have, (as Paul says) “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” It was therefore most commodious, that the preaching of the Gospel should begin upon one of the greatest holy days, and among the greatest number of people, that both the more people might be instructed, and also that the miracle of the Holy Ghost, which should shortly be published to divers nations, might after a sort prepare for the Apostle’s way of preaching. And the Lord observes in the Apostles, that thing which we read himself observes, while he was on the earth. For as he chose public places always to preach in: so was he wont on the holy days to go to Jerusalem, that as well his doctrine as miracles might be known to the more people. Yea, he would be crucified at the feast of Passover, that the knowledge of his death being profitable, might the sooner, and the wider be published abroad. It shall teach us, that the redemption made by Christ Jesus, is offered of God to all men, and appertains to all men, neither can we have any other surer consolation, anywhere in our temptations. Verily Satan will not lightly deny that Jesus Christ is a Savior and a Redeemer. But he uses this policy in assaulting our faith, that the redemption which is by Christ, appertains not unto us, and teaches us to measure the merits of Christ and the limits thereof, according to our worthiness or unworthiness. And it cannot be chosen, but here our faith must quail, forasmuch as there is no man, but finds himself most unworthy of salvation, when he thoroughly has considered his own nature. But the consideration of those things, which teach Christ to be the universal Savior of all them that believe in him, and a most bountiful Author of health, that is glad to benefit most men, does not strongly prop and bear up faith thus faltering. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 75.

2) First Agrippa is set forth which speaks unto Paul, and gives him leave to answer for himself. This was without doubt, done through the advice of God, which by this mean would have the gospel preached unto those men. For (whereas paul says other-wheres) God will have all men to be saved, he will also have the word of salvation to be revealed and preached unto all men. And this ordinance is so firm and stable, that it can never be stopped with any enterprise of the tyrants of this world. Whereof we have both the testimonies and Examples everywhere in the Scriptures by which we may confirm our wavering faith in all adversities. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 848.

3) But the heinousness of this matter is the greater, for that they which labor privately and publically to have all men saved, are so evil requited… In the mean season Paul’s example teaches us, that those which have once or twice proved & felt the help of God, ought to be inflamed with greater diligence, and not (as some use) to wax the more remiss and negligent, as though they had fulfilled all their duties at once. For beside that we own unto God al kind of duty, the law of thankfulness requires the more faith and industry of us, lest we might seem unkind to God our benefactor. Again, because he would not seem importune in preaching unto them, he declares that he is bound in duty so to do. For he was a debtor unto all men all men both small and great. Thus he stirred up their minds to think, that the gospel appertains unto them also. This is very diligently to be considered, that we hear the gospel is preached by the commandment of God to men of all states & degrees. For hereby we lean that there is no respect of persons with God: yea that he would have all sorts of men to be saved. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 863-864.3

2 Peter 3:9:

1) Such examples of God’s long-sufferance, are everywhere extant. For he is well ware of using any cruelty against the guilt, as Tyrants do, but will have then understand by what offences they have provoked his wrath and punishment against themselves. Thus we read he did with our first parents, and he gave them that lived in the beginning of the world, and hundred and twenty years space, wherein to repent them, and did also vouchsafe to send them Noah, the preacher of righteousness. Likewise he would not destroy the Canaanites and Amorites, until he saw they filled the measure of iniquity, and were become altogether incurable. But what need examples, seeing we have plenty both in the Holy & profane histories, to let pass those things whereof we see experience daily, both in others, and in ourselves? Let us rather apply these matters to our instruction, and first of all, let us not abuse the long-suffering of God. For he provokes us to repentance. Let us not therefore like reprobates, procure us the wrath of God, by continuing in sin without repentance, and wax every day worse and worse. For God is slack in punishing, but this slackness, (as the heathen have used to say) he recompenses with weight and heaviness of punishment. Also let us follow the goodness of God, and not to be hasty in our judgement, although it appear some have deserved judgement. For where God everywhere desires the salvation, rather than destruction of men, what boldness is it I pray you, to strive to overcome God’s justice by our rigor and severity? Which thing they have chiefly to consider, which have received power and authority from God to punish others, lest through their severity and hastiness of judgement, they bring bodies and souls of them in jeopardy, whose salvation they should principally seek. Radulpe Gualthere, An Hundred, threescore and fifteen Sermons, uppon the Acts of the Apostles, trans., by Iohn Bridges, (London: no publ, 1572), 235.

1Most probably “reconciliation” is meant here, as ‘atonement’ originally meant reconciliation.
2Gualther is here speaking of the Feast of Pentecost.
3The pagination here is irregular. I have cited it is.



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