December 21, 2014

Anthony Burgess (d.1664) on the General and Peculiar Love of God

Fifthly, Although we cannot conclude grace by outward mercies, yet thus way doth give many a man outward prosperity and wealth, for his diligence, industry, upright and honest dealing in the world. Thus Solomon saith, The hand of the diligent maketh rich, and truth and justice in our way is blessed by God to increase. Thus Austin [Augustine] attributed all the temporal greatness that the state of Rome came to, unto the justice of the common-wealth, but this comes only from a general Love of God, not from that peculiar love which belongs to his people: it doth not come from the same fountain that mercy and pardon comes; Therefore it's a fruit of providence, not of election: it argueth upright dealing, but not an heart made pure and upright to God: what then though thou sayest, God hath blessed my diligence, my honest dealing? yet thou canst not say, this is the fruit of my conversion and regeneration, being turned unto God.
Anthony Burgess, Spiritual Refinings: In Two Parts. Delivered in CLXI. Sermons. The Second Edition. (London: Printed by J. Streater, for T.U. and are to be sold by Tho: Johnson, at the Golden-Key in St. Pauls Church-Yard, 1658), 1:183. 

Note: On page 115, Burgess also speaks of a "common love love of God," as distinguished from "such a love which is vouchsafed unto his own people in a peculiar manner." In several places in this work he also refers to God's "common grace" (14, 38-39, 62), and that these "common gifts and graces are sometimes bestowed upon reprobates," such as Judas (203).
First, We grant, that notwithstanding our original sinne, yet God loveth mankind, and demonstrateth much mercy to men, even because they are his creatures. And it must be granted, That the Scripture doth often celebrate this mercy of God to man, though in a sinfull condition: But then we must distinguish between the general love of God, and his special love, between his love of benevolence and love of complacency, as some express it. God doth love all mankind with a general love, or love of benevolence, so as to do good in a liberal manner to them. This love of beneficence is demonstrated both to the good and the bad; yet this doth not remove the guilt of sinne, we may be children of wrath for all this. Therefore there is the other special love and grace of God, a love of complacency and acceptance of us in Christ; and this is only to some of mankind, as the Scripture in many places doth shew: And yet we must adde, that when any are damned, we cannot say it is for any defect of Gods particular love and grace, as if the fault were to be laid there, but upon the original and actual sinfulness of the person so condemned; for every mans perdition is of himself.
Anthony Burgess, The Doctrine of Original Sin (London: Printed by Abraham Miller for Thomas Underhill at the Anchor and Bible in Pauls Church-yard, near the little North-door, 1659), 540–541.


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