March 25, 2019

John Bartlet (c.1599–1680) on God’s General and Special Love

1. Take heed of concluding the special love, and favor of God to you, because of your prosperous condition in the World: for no man can know love, or hatred, by these outward things, Eccles. 9.1. The wicked have, usually, the most of them, Job 21. Psal. 73. Because it is their portion in this life, Psal. 17. end. And yet such is the deceit of Men’s hearts, as the most fetch the Evidence of God’s love to them from their prosperity in this World, from the abundance of these outward things, which they enjoy, as health, wealth, honor, birth, beauty, gifts, parts, knowledge, utterance, and the esteem they have in the World above others, and that amongst the wise, and the godly: whereas men may enjoy all these, and yet want the special love of God, (special, I say, not God’s general love) for you are to mark well, there is a double love of God, general and special; 1. General to all Men, of which you may read, Mark 10.21. Jesus beholding, loved him, (saith the Text, of the young Man.) 2. There is God’s special love to his Elect, of which you may read, 2 Thes. 2.16. John 13. Now God’s general and common love is manifested in bestowing on Men these outward temporal good things, as on the young Man, that came to Christ, to know what he must do to inherit Eternal Life; But for His special love, that is manifested in giving Spiritual blessings, as Christ, and his Spirit, and Grace, Faith, Repentance, Love, &c. His Fatherly Correction, and Chastisements, Heb. 12.6. And therefore take heed of concluding the special love of God, because of your prosperous condition, without an interest in Christ, and a work of grace.
John Bartlet, The Practical Christian: Or, A Summary View of the Chief Heads of Practical Divinity (London: Printed by T. M. for Thomas Parkhurst, 1670), 71–72.


March 23, 2019

Joseph Hacon’s (1603–1662) Response to the Double Payment Argument

Now because you think that you must maintain, some sins are forgiven absolutely, as of due debt, because otherwise universal Redemption, presupposeth two payments of the same debt, one from the Savior of the world, and another from the person impenitent or unbelieving, pag. 61. [“It is unjust to require two payments of the same debt.”] I desire your attention to what I shall now say. The work of the Son of God in behalf of lost mankind is set forth to us diversely; under the term and likeness of Reconciliation, or Atonement of parties that are at distance: of a Sacrifice offered to propitiate the Deity: of Adoption, whereby not only part for malefactors, but further, the state of sons and heirs is procured: of Redemption, whereby captives are ransomed by some price paid: of one that is punished in another’s stead, or for another’s fault, or that doth satisfy or discharge the debt, which some other owes. These particulars, with divers others, being of a different nature one from another, cannot all of them, perfectly agree to the work of man’s salvation, that Jesus Christ wrought. With men ordinarily, there is a numerical punishment, applied to a numerical or individual fault. But when Christ was smitten for our sins, the punishment was one, but of infinite value, applicable to the sins of all men, were there more than there are, or ever will be. In this similitude therefore, the respect of punishing the same fault twice, must be forborn: so must that also, touching a double payment of the same debt. But take the other similitudes; Reconciliation there may be, and Adoption there may be, which may come to nothing for want of the condition: and a general ransom may be many ways defective, as to some persons: and a Sacrifice may be offered, and the God not appeased; according as the Latins make a difference between Sacrificare and Litare: to your argument therefore I answer, when the payment or satisfaction is absolute, as to all effects, then there is no other satisfaction to be expected.

But when it is absolute as to some effect, and conditional, as to some other, then it is neither against reason, nor justice, nor custom, but that a payment, pardon or satisfaction may be twofold. The General ransom is absolute thus far, that God’s justice or wrath is appeasable. All sins are venial, and way made for pardon, the Covenant of works notwithstanding. But thus far it is conditional, that it shall not be actually beneficial for any to life eternal, but according to the tenor of the Covenant of Grace, namely, upon Repentance and Belief in the Son of God. I gave you the similitude of a general pardon granted from the King: to which you say not one word to the purpose, but most impertinently betake yourself to the point of Free-will, in the fourth Section of your former chapter. And as for the injustice you speak of, I answer, had we ourselves of our own, paid these our debts: or had our Surety and Redeemer paid them and satisfied for them so as that all men should by virtue of his sacrifice have been instantly discharged from all their sins, and admitted to possession of life, no condition whatsoever intervening: or had Almighty God made any such promise or agreement, with his son our Savior, to bestow faith and repentance upon all those, for whom he was to lay down his life: in any of these cases it had not been just to demand a second payment. But inasmuch as God himself did freely procure the ransom and satisfaction for our sins, it was free for him to annex thereto, what conditions it pleased him. There is therefore no wrong done to such persons as are punished for their sins, after the price of their ransom is accepted, because they did neither pay that ransom, nor perform the condition required.
Joseph Hacon, A Vindication of the Review. Or, the Exceptions formerly made against Mr. Horn’s Catechisme set free from his late allegations, and maintained not to be Mistakes (Cambridge: Printed by John Field, 1662), 141–143.

Hacon was a native of Topcroft, Norfolk, where he was born on the 17th of May, 1603. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and, after entering Holy Orders, was made Rector of Massingham in his 40th year. After a few years, he was made Registrar of the Parish. He was buried at Massingham Parva on the 18th September, 1662. See Ronald F. McLeod, Massingham Parva: Past and Present (London: Waterlow & Sons, 1882), 113–114.

March 20, 2019

Theophilus Polwheile (d.1689) on Christ’s Common Love and the Rich Young Ruler

Men may be honorable in respect of some good thing which they have, though contemptible in respect of some better thing which they want. Though men have nothing but gifts, yet they are amiable and honorable for their gift's sake. Christ loved the young man [the rich young ruler] for the excellency of his moral parts, Mar. 10:21. Now if Christ loves such, why should not we? Next unto those that have grace, come they that have gifts, though the men be bad, their gifts are good, and there is an honor due unto them. The Spirit of God will be acknowledged in gifts, as well as in grace, seeing He is the Author of both.
Theophilus Polwheile, Α᾿ΥΘΕ΄ΝΤΗΣ [Authentēs], Or A Treatise of Self-Denial (London: Printed for Thomas Johnson, 1658), 78–79. See John Collinges’s similar comments on the rich young ruler in the second quote here, which I recently added to the blog. See also Polwheile’s comments on Luke 14:26 on pages 222–223 where he says, “We are not to hate them [father, mother, wife, children, brother, or sister] absolutely, so as in no respect to bear any love to them, for we are commanded to love them, and to do good unto them, even the worst of them, as I have showed above.” This work, which cites many Reformed theologians and other Puritans, has a forward to the reader by Ralph Venning.
Christ doth not find his Works perfect before God, Revelation 3:2, therefore he is not well-pleased with him; therefore though he love him, as he did that young man [Polwheile means the "young man" in Matthew 19:21], it is but with a common love, not that love that he bears to a Saint, in whom is the beauty of self-denial, who follows him fully, as Caleb, Numbers 14:24, and fulfills all his will, as David did, Acts 13:22.
Ibid., 274.