Of the
Love of God

What is the Love of God?

It is an essential property in God, whereby he loves himself above all, and others for himself, 1 John 4:16; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; Titus 3:4; Mal. 1:2, 3.

What learn you from hence?

That we should love him dearly, and other things for him.

That we may the better know what the love of God is, declare first, what love is in our selves?

It is a passion of the mind, whereby we are so affected towards the party whom we love, that we are rather his than our own, forgetting ourselves to do him good whom we so love.

And is love such a thing in God?

No: the true love of God is not such as our love is.

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There are three sorts of love, any of which may be desired from God as a blessing; namely, a love of, 1. God to man. 2. Man to God. 3. Man to man, himself, or others. Since the apostle had desired that these Christians might receive mercy from God, and that every particular believer might have peace in himself, I conceive that he seems now in the last place to pray, that they might again both return love to God, and render it also to one another.

1. There is a love of God to man, though without passion, sympathy, or any imperfection or weakness; these being attributed to him only to relieve the weakness either of our faith or apprehensions. And this love is,

(I.) Considered as a love of desire; as love desires to be carried to the union of the thing beloved. This desire of union with man God shows many ways; as, I. By being near unto, nay, present with him, by his universal care and providence; he being "not far from every one of us: for in him we live," &c., Acts xvii. 27, 28. 2. By assuming the nature of man into a personal conjunction with himself in the Mediator, Christ. 3. By conversing with man by signs of his presence, extraordinary visions, dreams, oracles, inspiration; and ordinarily by his holy ordinances, wherewith his people, as it were, abide with him in his house. 4. By sending his Holy Spirit to dwell in man, and bestowing upon man the Divine nature. 5. By taking man into an eternal habitation in heaven, where he shall be ever in his glorious presence, Psal. xvi. 11.

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The counsels of God called ‘conditional’, that is, by which he has ordained to do something on the condition that his creatures execute such and such a commandment, are so determined that the outcome of them depends upon the execution or non-execution of the given condition. Such is the one by which he ordained to render the happiness of the first man perpetual, this is, if he continued to persevere in his integrity. So also was that decree by which he concluded to give the people of Israel a perfectly happy life in the land of Canaan, that is, if they observed completely the law that he had given. Moreover, in a similar fashion he has ordained to save all men by our Lord Jesus, that is, if they do not demonstrate themselves to be unworthy through unbelief. Therefore in these kind of counsels, the certainty of the execution of the condition determines necessarily the certainty of the fulfillment of the counsels themselves. And in the same way the knowledge which one might have of the certainty of the one depends upon his knowledge of the other. Because God, as we have said above, knew certainly the faculties of man and knew exactly to what extent they would resist temptation to evil, he also knew certainly that man would fall from his integrity and that consequently the condition of his perpetual blessing would not be fulfilled. The corruption of sin having then expanded over the whole human race and the law requiring a perfect sanctity, he saw also that it was impossible that. Israel could fulfill the law and impossible therefore that his counsel touching the happiness of Canaan succeed. And this corruption having already so spread in man that it has infected of all his faculties to the very bottom and has rendered him totally unable to believe in the Redeemer unless God himself forms faith in his heart, God foreknows certainly and undoubtedly who will be saved because he has resolved to provide for them to believe, and who will not believe because he has ordained not to undertake in the same way for them. Thus, with respect to God, the knowledge of the outcome is clear and infallible.

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B. H. Carroll (1843-1914) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in For Whom did Christ Die?


Before taking up this part of the exposition I will answer a question arising from the discussion in the previous chapter, viz.: "Did Christ expiate the sins of all men, or the sins of the elect only, and does not universal expiation demand universal salvation?" This question belongs to the department of systematic theology. Without desire to intrude into that department, yet as biblical theology cannot be altogether separated from the teaching of the English Bible, I submit a reply for the benefit of those who may never study systematic theology. It is every way a difficult question, and calls out in its answer all the theories of the atonement advocated in the Christian ages. In general terms it is the old questionis the atonement general or limited? Perhaps no man has ever given a precise answer satisfactory to his own mind even, and it is certain no one has ever satisfied all others.

It must be sufficient for present purposes to deal with the question briefly, relegating to systematic theology the critical and extended reply derived from a comparison of all the prominent theories of the atonement in the light of the Scriptures. The following passages of Scripture doubtless suggest the question: Hebrews 2:9, "Jesus hath been made a little lower than the angels . . . that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man." There must be some real sense, some gracious sense, in which he tasted death for every man. 1 Timothy 4:9-10: "Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptation. For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." Here again it is evident that God in some real sense is the Saviour of all men, but not in the special sense in which he is the Saviour of believers. A more pertinent passage is 1 John 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

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What is to
be believed.

Now the matter to be believed, is here said to be the Gospel. That is, the glad tidings of reconciliation made by Christ Jesus between God and man, which though it be diversely, and in sundry speeches set out unto us in Holy Scripture, yet all is most sufficiently contained in this one sentence delivered by Christ himself, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life,” wherein this: that God the Father moved by nothing but his free love to mankind lost, has made a deed of gift and grant of his Son Christ Jesus unto mankind, that whosoever of all mankind, shall receive this gift by a true and lively faith, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life, with the same Apostle expressly says, 1 Joh. 5:11, “This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son”: meaning, that this it is, which God has witnessed for us to believe, which “he that does not makes God a liar”; and shall most justly be condemned therefore: this then to be considered of every soul to whom God sends this message of the Gospel, do truly believe and give credit unto it to be true, that God has grant of Christ to sinners, so that if he accept this grant, he shall be saved.

Historical faith
necessary to
Justification, but
not sufficient.

This is that faith which in the schools called Historical, because it goes no further then to give assent and credit to the story of that which God speaks to be true, which one may believe for another; and, therefore, this cannot be true justifying faith, and this may be in those that know they are bidden to come: so that though this be necessary to true justifying faith, there is required another and more special work, namely, “To receive Christ, and life in him offered in the Gospel,” which was the second general point to be considered in the nature of justifying faith; namely, and beside assent of the mind and judgment to the truth of the Gospel, we give consent with our heart, and will, so willingly and gladly accept God’s gift of Christ, whereby, indeed, he is become ours, and we his, and so we in him “be made partakers of all things pertaining to life and godliness,” as the Apostle Peter speaks, where I would have this specially to be marked, that he says, this is by the “knowledge” or “acknowledging” of him, which I understand to be by true faith, whereby we know and acknowledge Christ to be ours.

Ezekiel Culverwell, A Treatise of Faith (London: Printed by I.D. for Hen: Overton, and are to be sold at his Shop at the entring in of Popes head-Alley out of Lumhard-streete, 1633), 14-17. [Some minor reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal notes cited inline; and underlining mine.]