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Calvin and Calvinism » God is Love: Electing and Non-Electing Love

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John Rowe (1626-1677) on the General Love of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


1) 3. Christ’s love to his people is a special peculiar, and discriminating love.

1. It is a special peculiar love. There is a common general love which God bears to all creatures; but there is a special peculiar love which God bears to his people. God loves all his creatures with a general love; but it is some only he loves with a special and peculiar love. God, as one observes loves all his creatures indeed, but he doth not love them so as to will the same good, or to bestow the same equal good upon them all.1 God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. He feeds the ravens, clothes the lilies, gives life, breath, being to all creatures; but then there is a special love which he bears to his people. First, he gives himself to them: Heb. 8:10. This is the covenant I will make with them, I will be their God. Secondly, he gives them his Son: Having given us his Son, Rom. 8:32. John 3:16. Thirdly, he gives Heaven, Salvation, and eternal life unto them, Luke 12:32. 1 Thess. 5:9. These are the things that God bestows upon his people: so then it is a special love in this respect. God bestows common blessings upon others; he bestows many temporal blessings upon all men; but his special favors are reserved for the Elect: therefore he is said to be the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe, 1 Tim. 4:10. God preserves and saves all men by a common Providence, but he is in a special peculiar manner the Savior of Believers: therefore he is called the Savior of the body, Eph. 5:23. Compare these Scriptures together; in one place he is said to be the Savior of all men, and in another place he is said to be the Savior of his body the Church. Christ is the Savior of all men in some respect, but not so as he is the Savior of his body the Church: he saves all men with a common Salvation, but he doth not save all men with a spiritual eternal salvation, it is the Church only he so saves. John Rowe, Emmanuel, Or the Love of Christ Explicated and Applied in his Incarnation, Being Made Under the Law, and His Satisfaction. In XXX Sermons. (London: Printed for Francis Tyton Book-seller at the Three Daggers near the Inner Temple-Gate in Fleetstreet, 1680), 13-14. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal notation cited as footnote; italics original; and underlining mine.]

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Here then see the infinite goodness and condescension of God towards us his poor and worthless creatures, who though he be infinitely above us, and stands not at all in need of us, nor cannot be in the least benefited or advantaged by us, or by his acquaintance with us; but before there was made either man or angel, he was infinitely satisfied, and infinitely blessed in the enjoyment of himself; yet was he pleased to create angels and men, not only to a fitness and capacity of, but unto an actual communion and acquaintance with himself; which was more than needed on God’s part, or was owing on our parts; and when we like foolish and unthankful wretches, upon the very first motion of the devil, gave away this honor and happiness of acquaintance and communion for an apple, as Esau sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage, and thereby not only made our selves unworthy for ever to be admitted into God’s favor and acquaintance, but unfit for it too, as well as unworthy; that God should yet please to stoop so low as to take us yet again into acquaintance with himself: this speaks the wonderful goodness of God, his infinite Φιλανθρωπια or love to mankind.

When Esau had once undervalued the birth-right, so far as to sell it for a mess of pottage though afterwards it grieved him for what he had done, and he sought earnestly, and that with tears, to recover that blessing and birth-right which he had so foolishly lost, yet it could not be: so God might have dealt with Adam, and every one of us. The Text tells us, Adam lived 930 years after his sin, now if Adam had spent all those years in nothing but weeping and mourning, for his folly and madness in parting with his birth right, his acquaintance and communion with God, for an apple and in seeking earnestly, and that with tears, to recover communion and acquaintance with God again, and after all, had been denied it, yet God had been altogether just and righteous.

But behold the kindness of God, and his love towards mankind! As it is said of David, when Absalom by his villainies had banished himself from his Father’s Court and presence, it is said, The soul of King David Longed to go forth unto Absalom: that is, David’s heart was full of fatherly affection towards him, and he longs to be friends with him again: so did the heart of God even long towards man, after his sin and fall, and he did even long to be friends with him again, and to renew his acquaintance and converse with him.

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Pseudo James Ussher on the Love of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


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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William Jenkyns (1613-1685) on the Love of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


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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And again, he shows that the Scripture does so describe the antecedent love of God towards mankind, as that there are certain degrees of love to be acknowledged in it, whereof the first is more general, and belongs to all, and out of this love he sends Christ into the world, to pay a sufficient price for the redemption of all, and by that payment to make them capable of salvation, upon such conditions as are expressed in the new covenant: and out of this love it is that he wills the salvation of all, and so accordingly calls them to repentance, that they might be saved. As it is amongst men, he that uses all fitting and convenient means to gain another man’s good opinion of him, and to draw his love and affection towards him, and for that end, makes a signification of the goodwill and affection he bears him, and shows himself ready upon all occasions to do any good office for him; and withal, show him such arguments and reasons, such motives and inducements, as are in their own nature apt to persuade him thereunto, he may be truly said to desire his love and friendship; though he do not prevail with him for the obtaining of it, he has sufficiently managed and officiated his part, without omitting of anything that was fit and requisite for him to do: and the fault and hindrance lies wholly in him that was so inflexible, that no means could prevail with him, or move him to embrace such a friendly motion. Even so the case stands between God and man, in respect of that general goodwill and affection that God bears to him: God speaks unto him, and deals with him, as with a reasonable creature; and if he does not prevail with him, the fault is not in God, or in the means that are used by him, but only in man, who will not apply himself unto God, and serve his providence in that way and course that is taken for his good: and he [Cameron] illustrates this by two similitudes: First of the sun, which affords and sends forth sufficient light to all, and yet gives no light to those that wink with their eyes, and shut those windows against the light, not through any defect, or want of light in the sun, but only through his fault, who will not make use of that benefit which is afforded to him; so it is with the benefits of Christ’s death and passion, which though they be upon some condition applicable unto all; yet are they effectual for the salvation of none, save only those who do embrace and lay hold on them by a lively faith.

Richard Maden, Christs Love and Affection Towards Jerusalem (London: Printed by M.F. for John Clark, and are to be sold at his shop under S. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1637), 21-22. (c3ff). [Some spelling modernized; original italics removed; some reformatting; pages numbered manually from title page; Latin marginal quotation of John Cameron not included; and underlining mine].