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Bullinger on the Wrath of God

October 2, 2008

Bullinger:

1) Paul in his second chapter to the Ephesians saith: “We were by nature the sons of wrath, even as other.” In which words he pronounceth that all men are damned. For all those that are damned, are worthy of eternal death, and all such with whom God hath good cause to be offended, he calleth the sons of wrath, after the proper phrase of the Hebrew speech. For the wrath of God doth signify the punishment which is by the just judgement of God laid upon us men. And he is called the child of death, which is adjudged or appointed to be killed. So also is the son of perdition, &c. Now mark, that he calleth us all the sons of wrath, that is, the subjects of pain and damnation, even by nature, in birth, from our mother’s womb. But whatsoever is naturally in all men, that is original: therefore original sin maketh us th sons of wrath; that is, we are all from our original corruption made subject to death and utter damnation. This place of Paul for the proof of this argument is worthy to be remembered. Decades, 3rd Decade, Sermon 10, p., 396.

2) To this belongeth also, that God does as well afflict the good as the bad; touching which I spake at large in the third sermon of this third Decade. Now here therefore some there are which demand, why God doth with divers punishments persecute those sins which he hath already forgiven to men? For he forgave Adam his sin, and yet he laid on him both death and innumerable calamities of this life beside. To David we read that the prophet Nathan said, “The Lord hath taken thy sin away:” and yet immediately after the same prophet addeth: ‘The sword shall not depart from thy house.” To this we answer simply, that these plagues, which are laid on us before the remission of sins, are then punishments due to our sins; but that after the remission of our sins they are conflicts and exercises, wherewith the faithful do not make satisfaction for their sins, which are already remitted by grace in the death of the Son of God; but wherewith they are humbled and kept in their duty, having an occasion given of the greater glory.

And here I will not stick to recite unto you, dearly beloved, St Augustine’s judgement touch this matter in his second book De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, chap. 33, and 34, where he saith: “Things, the guilt whereof God is absolveth or remitteth, to the end that after this life they should do no harm, and yet he suffereth them to abide unto conflict of faith that by them men may be instructed and exercised, profiting in the conflict of righteousness,” &c. And present after: “Bore forgiveness, they are the punishments of sinners; but after remission, they are the conflicts and exercises of just men.” Decades, 3rd Decade, Sermon 10, p., 430.

3) Now as concerning the punishments of the wicked, (if the most just God do in this world touch them with any,) let u know that they be the arguments of God’s just judgement, who in this world beginneth to punish them temporally, and in the world to come doth not cease to plague them everlastingly. Decades, 3rd Decade, Sermon 10, p., 432.

 [Note: in Systematics, wrath is normally considered as Divine ‘hatred manifested in time by way of punishment and judgement.’]

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