April 3, 2011

George Petter (d.1661) on Christ's Love for the Rich Young Ruler

Quest. How could Christ love him [the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21], seeing he was a close hypocrite, and addicted to couvetousnesse, as he afterward shewed himself to be, by going away sorrowful, &c.

Answ. 1. It is not to be understood simply of love to his person; but of his love, liking, and approbation of those good things which he saw to be in him: as, his care to seek after eternal life, his reverent estimation of Christ's Person, his zeal and fowardness in the outward profession of Religion, and care to keep the Commandments (according to his knowledg of them) even from his youth: as also his teachableness, in that he asked, What more he lacked? Matth. 19.

In respect of these good and commendable properties which he saw to be in him, he is said to have looked lovingly upon him: though otherwise, as he was an hypocrite and covetous, he could not truly love his person, but did rather hate and abhor the same.

2. There is a two-fold love of Christ, 1. Common to all men, even to the profane and wicked, as they are men. This moved him to do good to all that came or were brought to him; curing them, &c. 2. Special to his Elect and faithful Disciples and Servants. Here the former is meant.

Observ. 1. That even in mere natural and unregenerate men void of true grace, there may be some good and amiable qualities and properties found: such qualities, vertues, and good things, as may procure love from God and men; I say, not only from men, but from God, and from Christ Jesus the Son of God; that is to say, a kind of common and general love, such as our Saviour here shewed to this young Ruler for the good things he saw in him: as, for his religious care and forwardness not only to know, but to keep the Commandments of God from his Youth, yea, from his Childhood; his civill life and care to refrain gross sins; as also his tractableness and readiness to learn of Christ, &c. These and the like good, and amiable qualities, and Civill or Moral vertues may be, and often are, found in such as are but meer natural men, void of all truth of sanctifying grace, yea, in such as are profane and wicked. In some of the wicked Kings of Israel were some good things found; which were in themselves pleasing to God: as in Ahab, his outward humiliation of himself by Fasting, &c. upon the Prophets threatning of him. 1 King. 21. 29. So in Jehu, there was a kind of zeal in Gods cause, in cutting off the whole Idolatrous house of Ahab. See 2 King. 10. 30. In the Scribes and Pharisees there were many civill vertues, and good things to be found; as their zeal and forwardness, and strictness in outward duties of Religion, and their care to refrain gross sins before men; as we may see by him, Luke 18. 11. In wicked Judas there were many good properties and vertues, else our Saviour would never have chosen him in to the number of his Apostles. So in Herod, Mark 6. 20. yea, who knows not, that even amongst the Heathen were many which excelled in some Moral and civill vertues, of external Justice, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, Chastity, &c. as Socrates, Cato, Aristides, Fabricius, &c. Rom. 2. 14. The Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, &c...

Use. For admonition to all Christians and Professors of Religiion to take heed of resting in this, that they have some good qualities, or vertues in them, which are amiable or praise-worthy in themselves before God and men; but above all, to labour for the true Sanctifying Grace of Gods Spirit, and for the power of Religion and godliness, without which all their Morall or civill vertues, though never so good in themselves, shall do them no good at all. Though thou hast never so many good civill vertues, or amiable qualities, &c. yet if thy heart be not yet truely changed, and purged by Faith in Christ, thy person is odious to God; and all the good things and vertues in thee, though in themselves they be good and amiable, and such as God commandeth and alloweth for the matter of them; yet as they come from thee being out of Christ, they are no way pleasing, but abominable to God. Therefore first cleanse the Fountain, and make the Tree good, that the fruit may be truely good, &c.

Observ. 2. We may bear a kind of love to the persons of natural and unregenerate men, void of true Sanctifying Grace; though not simply, as they are void of Grace; yet in respect of those common gifts, and good things which we see to be in them; as in regard of the good parts or gifts of nature which God hath bestowed on them; as sharpness of Wit, Memory, Strength, or Comeliness of body, &c. or in regard of their Learning or knowledg in Arts and Tongues; or in regard of those Moral or Civill vertues which are in them, &c. In these respects, and for these good things, or common gifts of God in them, we may love and affect them, though not with that speciall and singular love which we owe to the Saints of God; yet with an inferior and common kind of love, in respect of the common gifts and graces of God which are in them.

Reas. We ought to love and esteem well of the gifts of God wheresoever we find and take notice of them, and therefore even in natural and unregenerate persons. See Jam. 1. 17. and in respect of these gifts and good things in them which come from God, we may be affected with a kind of love to them, and shew the same by tokens and testimonies thereof, as our Saviour did to this young man, by looking amiably upon him. Gal. 6. 10. Let us do good unto all, &c. Now doing of good is a fruit of love; therefore we are to shew a kind of love to all men; even to such as are but natural men, &c. 1 Pet. 2. 17. Honour (or esteem) all men. This cannot be without love, in respect of the good things that are in them: Samuel shewed much love to Saul, though a wicked man, by praying for him, and mourning for him, when for his sin of disobedience he was rejected of God from being King of Israel, 1 Sam. 15. 1. It grieved Samuel, and he cryed to the Lord all night. And though the Lord do blame Samuel for mourning for him, chap. 16. ver. 1. yet not simply for mourning, but for mourning so much and so long for him.

Caution. We are so to shew love to natural and unregenerate men for the good things in them, that withall we be carefull not to shew any love or liking to their sins and corruptions, or to countenance them therein. Distinguish between their persons, and the good things in them; and between their sins and corruptions.

Observ. 3. If our Saviour Christ loved this young man for his Religious care and forwardness to keep the Commandments of God from his youth; and though it were but an external obedience, as appeareth by comparing these words with the former; then on the contrary, he cannot but hate and abhor such as are careless, negligent, and unconscionable this way. He cannot but hate such as are profane and wicked from their youth, &c. When any begin betimes to obey Gods Commandments even in their youth; this procureth the love of Christ towards them, &c. As on the contrary, profaneness, and disobedience to Gods Commandments in young men and Children, is odious unto Christ, causing him to hate and abhor such.
George Petter, A Learned, Pious, and Practical Commentary Upon the Gospel According to St. Mark (London: Printed by J. Streater, and are to be sold by George Sawbridge, at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill, 1661), 740–741.

John Petter (1661/2–1700) has some biographical information about George Petter in the Preface to this work. He says:

• Petter was born in Kent, in the Lath of Scray, in the Hundred of Selbrittenden, in the Parish of Sandhurst near Newenden.

• He went to the University of Cambridge about the sixteenth year of his age, and was admitted into Trinity College, under the Name and Tuition of Mr. Simon Aldrich.

• Entered ministry about the age of 24, being placed in the Rectory of Bread, not far west from Winchelsey, in the County of Sussex, where he spent the remainder of his life, being pastor of that people 44 years.

• He preached in several of the Psalms, the whole 53rd chapter of Isaiah, the prophet Zephaniah, Ephesians, the first epistle to the Thessalonians, James, Jude, entirely and completely. He also had sermons on the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, and Sacraments.

• Of his passing, he says, "The Disease which made its Preparative Assault upon him, was an Arthritical Distemper in one of his Shoulders, the pain whereof increasing more and more upon him, at length reduced him to a fatal consumption, of which he died in the 68th year of his age."

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