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

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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.

(2.) There is a love of God to man, considered as a love of benevolence, or of good-will, or of willingness to do good to the thing beloved: what else was his eternal purpose to have mercy upon his people, and of saving them, but, as it is expressed concerning Jacob, this loving them? Rom. ix. 13. And to whom can a will of doing good so properly agree, as to Him whose will is goodness itself?

(3.) There is a love of God to man, considered as a love of beneficence, bounty, or actual doing good to the thing beloved. Thus he bestows the effects of his love, both for this life, and for that which is to come. And the beneficence of God is called love; "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," 1 John iii.

1. And John iii. 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave," &c. By this love of beneficence he bestows the good things of nature, grace, and glory. God does good to every creature, hating, though the iniquity of any one, yet the nature of none; for the being of every creature is good, Gen. i. 31, and God has adorned it with many excellent qualities. According to these loves of benevolence and beneficence, God loves not his creatures equally, but some more than others; inasmuch as he wills to bestow, and also actually bestows, greater blessings upon some than upon others. He makes and preserves all creatures, but his love is more especially afforded to mankind; he styles himself from his love to man, Tit. iii. 4, and not from his love to angels, or any other creature. He is called [Gk.], a lover of man, but never [Gk.], or [Gk.], a friend of angels or creatures without man. His love is yet more peculiarly extended to man in creating him after his own image, Gen. i. 27, and in giving him lordship over the creatures, Psal. viii. 5; in giving his Son to take upon him man’s nature, Heb. ii. 16, and exalt it above heavens (Matt, xxviii. 18) and angels, to die for sinning, dying man; offering him to man in the dispensation of the gospel with wooing and beseechings. And yet of men he loves some more especially and peculiarly than others; namely, those whom he loves with an electing, calling, redeeming, justifying, glorifying love. God loves all creatures, and among them the rational, and among them the members of his Son, and much more the Son himself.

(4.) There is a love of God to man, considered as a love of complacency, and delight in the thing beloved. He is pleased through his Son with his servants; and he is much delighted with his own image wheresoever he finds it. He is pleased with the persons and performances of his people: "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him," Psal. cxlvii. 11. They reflecting his excellencies, and showing forth his virtues; he rejoicing over them with joy, and resting in his love, Zeph. iii. 17: accounting a believer amiable; his soul, a lesser heaven; his prayers, melody; his sighs, incense; his stammerings, eloquence; his desires, performances.

William Jenkyn, Exposition of the Epistle of Jude (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1854), 36; see also, William Jenkyn, An Exposition of Jude (London: Printed by Tho. Maxey, for S.A. Gellibriand at the Ball in Paul’s Church-yard, 1656), 58-59. [Marginal comments note included, and underlining mine.]

[See also Jenkyn on God’s Love.]

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