December 15, 2014

James Rawson (d.1673) on God's Love and Hate in Romans 9

Sir, for the resolving of your question, and satisfying of the scruple, I must tell you, first, that God is said to have hated Esau before he was born, or that he had done either good or evil; that is called hatred, comparatively, in respect of that love he showed unto Jacob; he may be said to hate him because he loved him less than he did Jacob: Thus Leah was said to be hated by Jacob, comparatively with the love showed to Rachel, because she was less beloved than Rachel: so he that serves two masters, will hate the one, and love the other, (i.e.) will love him less than the other: And thus God loves the reprobates less than he does the elect; but it cannot be concluded, that the Lord doth absolutely hate any creature of his own making, for they were all good, yea very good: and Wisd. 11.24. thou lovest all things that are, and abhorrest nothing that thou hast made. Tis true God hates sin, because he made it not, and this hatred hath an influx upon the sinner, as he is a sinner, because God made him not so: But God hates not a non-elected person, or a reprobate, as he is a reprobate, neither does he condemn him, or decree to condemn him, for his negative reprobation, which is God's act, but for his sin, which is man's act.
James Rawson, Gerizim, Election, and Ebal, Reprobation. Or, the Absolute Good Pleasure of Gods Most Holy Will to All the Sons of Adam Specificated, viz. to Vessels of Mercy in their Eternal Election, and to Vessels of Wrath in their Eternal Reprobation (London: Printed by John Owsley, for Henry Shephard, and are to be sold at his shop under St. Swithins Church in Canning street near London-Stone, 1658), 170.

Note: I only post this to show that Rawson, a high Calvinist, believed God, in a sense, loves the reprobate, not that I entirely agree with his interpretation of the love/hate contrast in Romans 9. I prefer to see the contrast in terms of a love of election vs. a hatred of preterition, which may or may not be compatible with Rawson's view. Also, I think he should have said, "God hates not a non-elected person, or reprobate, as he is God's creature," instead of saying, " he is a reprobate." That seems to be Rawson's point anyway, as he references the Book of Wisdom, and distinguishes between God's love for a person as His creature and God's hate for that same person as he is a sinner. I think he was using the term "reprobate" in this context in the sense of one merely passed over (and therefore "loved-less") in God's decree, or for the non-elect as such, not in the sense of a person existing in a state of sinful rebellion.

James Rawson was a high predestinarian and eventually a nonconformist. He may have also been a presbyterian.

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