March 29, 2009

George Swinnock (1627–1673) on God's Special and General Love

First, I commend you to his special favour and affection. The good-will of God is such a lump of sugar as will sweeten the bitterest cup; it hath a virtue in it which will turn the smallest liquor into cordial water. The little bird in her small down nest sings pleasantly, when the great birds in their large thorny nests have but harsh voices. The saint in the soft bed of God's special love sleepeth comfortably, when the wicked in their high places, great preferments, for want of this are in little ease. His general love is like the ordinary beams of the sun, which convey light and heat for the refreshment of all the world. So the Lord is good to all; his mercy is over all his works; but his special love is like the beams of the sun united in a glass, which, passing by others, fires the object only. God's love to his new creatures in Christ is burning love; he hath choice good, and good-will too, for his chosen ones: 'Let me se the good of his chosen. Look upon me and be merciful to me, as thou art to them that fear thy name.' It is said of Socrates, he prized the king's countenance above his coin.
George Swinnock, "The Pastor's Farewell," in The Works of George Swinnock (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992), 4:81–82.


Observe: Not only does Swinnock believe that God loves all men generally, but he sees a link between God's "general love," favour, goodness and mercy. He associates God's general love with the teaching of Psalm 145:9. There isn't the absurd notion in Swinnock (or in the other Puritans) that God is merciful, kind, good and favourable to all, but He doesn't love all. That strange division exists in the writings of a few men in the blogosphere today, but not in Swinnock, or in other orthodox historic Calvinists.

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