February 13, 2008

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on Common Love and the Death of Christ

Let us not judge ourselves by a general love. As there is a general love of God to man, a general love of Christ to mankind in dying, and giving a conditional grant of salvation upon faith and repentance, and a particular love to the soul of a believer, so likewise in man there is a general assent, and a particular serious assent to the truth of God, and accordingly a general love upon the apprehensions of what Christ hath done in general. There is a common love to God, which may be so called, because the benefits enjoyed by men are owned as coming from that fountain; a love arising from the apprehensions which men commonly have of the goodness of God in himself, and a common love wrought in them to God, as to other things that are good. Again, men may have a false faith, and a false apprehension of pardon of sin, when indeed no such pardon is granted to them; so they may have proportionably a false love upon such an ungrounded belief.
Stephen Charnock, "A Discourse of the Subjects of the Lord's Supper," in The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 4:464.

Update:

Since there may be some confusion in understanding Charnock's point above (see my reply to Horne in the comment section), let me clarify it this way. Charnock makes these observations:

A1) There is a general love of God to all men (even in Christ's death).
B1) An unregenerate man can show some appreciation for it.

A2) There is a particular love of God to believers.
B2) Regenerate man shows faithful appreciation for it.

Charnock, while affirming the veracity of A1 in passing (which is why I quoted him), is saying that the B1 man should not be deluded into thinking he is a B2 man (i.e., one possessing saving faith). It's nothing more than the constant Puritan reminder that there is a distinction between common grace (or general love) and special grace (or particular love), and that those experiencing the former should not confuse it for the latter. That's all.

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