S. Paul says, “Christ has loved me.” O Paul, the benefit that is common to all, thou uses as peculiar to thyself! “Yea verily,” (says S. Paul) “for albeit that sacrifice were offered for all mankind, yet for the love that I bear towards him, the thing that was done for all, I account as proper and several to myself alone.”  Thus the manner of the Prophets is to do and to say, “O God my God,” notwithstanding he is the God or all the world. But this is the special and all only office of live, of things common to make things peculiar. Thou says, “Christ has loved me.” What say thou? Has Christ loved thee only? & no man else? “No,” (says Paul) “he has loved all mankind, but I owe him thanks, as if he had loved me alone, and had given himself only for me.” By all these testimonies then, both Scriptures and Fathers, you see, the nature of true faith in God’s children, how it does particularize and apply things general to the most nearest comfort. 

Gervase Babbington, An Explanation of the Catechism Contained in the Book of Common Prayer,” in The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Gervase Babington, Late Bishop of Worcester (London: Printed by Miles Flesher, 1637), 172. [Some spelling modernized.]

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2 comments so far


For the elect God’s love is certainly a “personal” love.

November 17th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

hey there.

I think what Babbington is doing is starting from another biblical perspective, which is not a case of either/or but of both-and. He assumes that “world” in John 3:16, as I read him, is all mankind, and so, with that as his starting assumption, the question becomes how does the individual move down from the abstract and general, to the particular.

Looked at from another perspective, this is more intuitive for the Christian, I think. As Calvin says, election, is “secret.” Over and over, he refers to our “secret election.” And then from another angle, if we take our lead from the Protestant Scholastics (the Reformed generally of the later 16th and then 17th centuries), knowledge of one’s election can only be known by what the Protestant Scholastics called a “reflex act of faith.” That is, in the case of election, you only know your election by reflexively looking to the knowledge and evidences of your own faith. Here the big danger is that it led so many of them into morbid introspection. Babbington’s approach, clearly the same as Calvin’s (et al), balances this out. The other thing is that Calvin probably would have had a lot of trouble with the reflexive act of faith idea as constructed by the later Protestant Scholastics, because one knows one’s election by looking to Christ, not by looking for evidences of faith within the self.

So in all this, I think the Calvin-Babbington approach is more natural and truer to Scripture and the human situation. I say human, and not merely Christian, to stress the issues of we being finite and limited in our knowledge etc.

And in the final analysis, I suppose, the Christian still has to move down from the more general and abstract idea that God loves the Elect, moving down, as it were, to knowledge that God loves a given elect individual.

Does that help?

Thanks for commenting.

Take care,

November 18th, 2011 at 10:12 am