April 9, 2008

Edward Polhill (1622–1694) on God's Love

1. God may be considered either as a rector, or as a benefactor. As a rector, he acts out of a just anger, in vindicating his broken law by penal sufferings. As a benefactor, he acts out of admirable love, in giving his Son to be a propitiation for us. When he vindicates his law by punishments, is it not anger? When he gives his Son for us, is it not love? If he be a rector, can he not be a benefactor too? Then he could not give his Son without laying down of his government. If he be a benefactor, can he not be a rector too? Then he could not govern, without laying down his love; but if, as the truth is, he may be both, then anger and love may consist together.

2. God's displeasure may be taken either as it terminates on the sin, or as it terminates on the sinner; as it terminates on the sin, it is altogether unremovable. God himself, with reverence be it spoken, can no more remove it, than he can lay down his sanctity, which in the very notion of it, includes an abhorrency of sin: as it terminates on the sinner, it may be removed. This appears, in that God pardons sin, and that (as the Scripture phrase נשא עזן imports) in such a way, that the penal sufferings are translated from the sinner himself to his sponsor. The divine displeasure did pass off from us, or else we could not have been pardoned or saved; and it did light upon Christ, or else that Holy One could not have been made a curse, which no mere sufferings, if abstracted from divine wrath, can amount unto. We see here there is displeasure at the sin, and yet infinite love towards the sinner, in translating the punishment upon another.

3. God's Love is double—a love of complacence, which delights in the creature, and a love of benevolence, which designs good to it. The first takes pleasure in the saints, who bear his holy image. The second diffuses itself to sinners, who in themselves are worthy of wrath. Hence the apostle tells us, "God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5. 8.) Sinners are objects of displeasure, and yet love breaks out towards them in that great instance, the death of Christ. If ever there were anger in God, it was at the sin of a world; if ever there were love in him, it was in the gift of his Son. These two may very well stand together.

4. Man may be considered, either as a sinner, or as a creature. A man who hath a rebellious Son, may be angry with him as rebellious, and yet compassionate him as a son. In like manner, God may be angry with us as sinners, and yet love us as creatures.
Edward Polhill, Speculum Theologiae in Christo: Or, A View of Some Divine Truths (London: Printed by A. M. and R. R. for Tho. Cockerill, at the Three Legs in the Poultrey, over-against the Stocks-Market, 1678), 76–78. Or see Edward Polhill, "A View of Some Divine Truths" in The Works of Edward Polhill 1622-1694 (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998), 20.

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1 comment:

David said...

That is a good post. It reminds me of the one from Calvin where he says while he yet hated us, he loved us.

Thanks,
David