1) 32.–God’s holiness is manifested generally as perfect kindness and love and as perfect righteousness. Both rest upon a “certain benevolent and beneficent propension towards the creatures”, which is present in God (MASTRICHT II, xvii, 3). “The love of God is the essential property or essence of God, whereby delighting Himself in it He wishes it the good which He approves.” To be distinguished are the “general love of God”, the object of which is creation generally, so that “no one either of men or even of demons may say that he is not loved by God”; God hates the sin in the godless, but loves the nature created by Him-and the “special love of God, by which He peculiarly pursues the separate elect” (POLAN, II, 122). Herein is manifested the “goodness of God”, according to which God is in and for Himself “supremely good” and towards creation “beneficent” (RIISSEN III, 41). Since then God’s love for the creature is essentially a “love not due”, it appears as grace. “God’s’ grace is His virtue and perfection, by which He bestows and communicates Himself becomingly on and to the creature beyond all merit belonging to it” (HEIDEGGER III, 94). Over against the misery of the creature God’s love is manifested (I) as mercy. Etymologically misericordia is wretchedness of heart due to a sense of another’s wretchedness together with alacrity in succouring the wretched. Actually in God it is nothing but grace towards the wretched” (MASTRICHT II , xvii, 22); (2) as patience and long suffering. “Patientia Deiis His most benign will, by which He so controls His anger, that He either bears sinning creatures long and puts off punishment, awaiting their repentance, or He does not pour forth all His anger in one moment upon them, lest they should be reduced to naught”; and (3) as gentleness: “God’s clemency is His most benign will, by which mindful of His mercy in wrath He is propitious to us and spares us, although we have deserved otherwise, preferring our repentance and conversion to our death” (POLAN II, 24 and 25).

Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978), 95-96.

2) [Heppe:]Therefore the number of the elect has been fixed by God from eternity. His universal love and grace God of course shows to all His creatures. But His redeeming grace. is not universal but particular. It has only chosen those whom according to His unsearchable counsel God wished to elect, in order to make known to them the glory of His sin forgiving love, which rescues them from eternal death.

Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978), 172.

3) RIISSEN (VI, 18, 2): “The question is not of God’s general love and philanthropia, which He exercises towards all creatures, but of His special saving love, by which He has wiled to pity them unto salvation”.

Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1978), 173.

[Biographical note: Loenard Riissen (ca. 1636-1700) or Ryssen: studied at Utrecht and received his doctorate in theology from that university in 1655. He served as pastor and enver occupied an academic post. He wrote a Synopsis theologiae elencticae (1671) but his best known work is his Summa theologiae, based on Turretin and also entitled Compendium theologiae didactio-elencticae. Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, first ed., 1:49.]

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I have updated Heinrich Heppe and the Reformed doctrine of general love

November 4th, 2007 at 4:00 am