June 25, 2012

William Gearing (c.1625–c.1690) on God's General Love

Gearing states five proofs and reasons why we are to love all in the beginning of chapter 10 of the following work. His first proof is this:
1. Because wherever we see any part of God's goodness, we are to love it. It is said that our Saviour beholding the rich young man that came unto him, loved him, Mar. 10.21. There is some Print of God's goodness in many that are not Godly, which ought to draw our affection to it; Goodness being the Object of Love. This is the reason why God himself loves all his Creatures, because there is a participation of his Goodness in them. There are some Reliques of God's Image in prophane men, that God bears a general Love unto, that we also may do the like.
William Gearing, Philadelphia, Or, A Treatise of Brotherly-Love (London, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Gilded Bible on London Bridg, next the Gate, 1670), 39–40. [Some spelling updated]
The Reason why Christians must show special Love one to another, are these.

1. Because God himself bestoweth his most special Love, the riches of his Love, upon the Godly; his everlasting Love is towards Jacob. As a man loveth his whole Family, but his special Love is to his Wife and Children. So God, although he loveth all the world, all his Creatures, yet his special Love is to his Saints. God's common and ordinary Love to all mankind, to the wicked, is but like the crumbs that fall from the rich man's Table; but his special Love and Favour are the Dainties upon that Table, which none but his Church doth feed upon. God causeth the Sun in the Firmament to shine upon the just and the unjust. The light of the Sun is a great, yet common mercy; but God hath promised, that he will be a Sun and Shield to his Saints, and give both Grace and Glory. God will give the Light of the Sun to the wicked, but the Godly only shall enjoy the Light of his Countenance. He will give to the wicked Rain, the Dew of the Clouds; but the Godly only shall have the Dew of Heaven poured on them. If the Lord doth bestow the chief of his Love upon his people, then must we Love them as God doth, and bestow the chief of our Love upon them.
Ibid., 65–66.

Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson give this brief biography of Gearing:
Little is known about William Gearing. He seems to have served as a minister in Lymington in the 1650s and later at Christ Church in Surrey. He preached a sermon at St. Mary Le Bow on September 3, 1688, in commemoration of the Great Fire in London.

Gearing published several works that reveal intimate awareness of the church fathers, experiential Calvinism, and the spiritual need of believers. His meditative treatise on prayer, A Key to Heaven (1683), is among the finest examples of seventeenth-century piety. He was also active in publishing some of the writings of John Maynard, a member of the Westminster Assembly.
See Meet the Puritans (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 259.

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