From all which is thus explained, arises this proposition.
It is the Duty of every Child of God, to keep themselves in the Love of God.
This proposition is grounded upon a threefold supposition.
1. That some men are in the love of God really, and eternally.
2. That this love wherewith God loves his Chosen, is a special love, a peculiar and distinguishing love.
3. That it is a duty, as well as a privilege to keep our selves in this love of God: our activity, as well as Gods act. Which will be hereafter more explained.
Before we come to the main question, we will answer this question: How love can be said to be in God? for love is a passion in the creature, and passions are imperfections, which are contrary to God’s perfection.
A. 1. It is true: Nothing of imperfection is in God; but love is in God as a perfection: because love is in God in the abstract, that is essentially; for abstracts speak essences. God is Love. 1 John 4.8.
The love of God is either natural or voluntary, thus divines distinguish, and that well.
1. The natural love of God is that wherewith God loves himself.
That is, the reciprocal love whereby the three persons love each other.
This essential natural love of God is therefore necessary. God cannot but love himself.
2. The love of God is voluntary: thus he loves his Creatures with a general Love.
1. Because he made them, and made them good, therefore he preserves them: for though sin be really evil, and none of Gods making, but contrary to God, and hated of God; yet God loves the creatures as his creatures, although sinful, with a general love.
2. He loves some creatures with a special love, and by this he loves Jesus Christ as Mediator.
1 Joh. 4:9.
Rom. 8. ult.
1. This love of God to Christ as mediator, is the foundation of God’s love to his elect.
2. By a special love God loves his elect. John 13.1. Of this love it’s said that it is inseparable.
&c. to 10.
Now this is the peculiar love which God bears to some above others. Not because they were more lovely than others, nor because God foresaw they would believe and love him; but because God loved them first antecedently to all those things: and because he loved them therefore Christ shall come and die, and therefore they shall believe in him and love him. The sum is this: Our love to God is the effect, and not the cause of Gods love to us: yea Christ himself as mediator is the effect of God’s eternal love. This is primitive doctrine.
Samuel Annesley, A Continuation of Morning-Exercise Questions and Cases of Conscience, Practically Resolved by Sundry Ministers, in October 1682 (London: Printed by J. A. for John Dunton at the Sign of the Black Raven in the Poultry over against the Stocks-Market, 1683), 127-128. [Some reformatting; marginal references cited as side-headers; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]
[Credit to Tony for the find.]