September 3, 2013

Henry Ainsworth (1569–1622) on God's Common and Special Bounty

God's virtue in respect of his will are bounty, and justice: Bounty is that, by which out of love, God procureth to every creature the good thereof, and it is common, and particular: common bounty is towards all creatures, even such as offend him, directing them to their natural good, and sustaining them therein, so long as justice suffereth, Luk. 6:36. God cannot hate his creatures, as his works, for so they carry similitude of God, the first cause: and none can hate himself, or his similitude, for a similitude is something of himself. God's bounty to his creatures presupposeth not any debt, or duty, which implyeth imperfection; and if God were bound to his creatures, he should depend on them, and be imperfect.

God's bounty which is infinite, giveth creatures good things, of nature, of soul, and body, and of outward things.

Such is God's bounty, as the creatures suffer no evil, unless God's justice require it, or a greater good confirm it; of this virtue God is called patient, and longsuffering.

Particular, or special bounty, is that whereby God loved some men (in Christ) fallen into sin, and furthereth them to eternal salvation. God's special bounty, is the first beginning, both of salvation, and of the means thereto. This bounty is no inherent quality in us, but we [who] are the object of it, it is a grace making us grateful, not finding us so.
Henry Ainsworth, The Old Orthodox Foundation of Religion (London: Printed by E. Cotes, and are to be sold by Michael Spark at the Blue Bible in Green Arbour, 1653), 16–17.