February 28, 2008

Edmund Calamy (1600–1666) as Recorded in the Minutes of the Westminster Assembly

I am far from universal redemption in the Arminian sense; but that that I hold is in the sense of our divines in the Synod of Dort, that Christ did pay a price for all, absolute intention for the elect, conditional intention for the reprobate in case they do believe, that all men should be salvabiles, non obstante lapsu Adami . . . that Jesus Christ did not only die sufficiently for all, but God did intend, in giving of Christ, and Christ in giving Himself, did intend to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe.
Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, eds. Alexander F. Mitchell & John P. Struthers (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1874), 152.
I argue from the iii. of Joh[n] 16, in which words a ground of God's intention of giving Christ, God's love to the world, a philanthropy the world of elect and reprobate, and not of elect only; it cannot be meant of the elect, because of that 'whosoever believeth' . . . xvi. Mark, 15. 'Go preach the gospel to every creature.' If the covenant of grace be to be preached to all, then Christ redeemed, in some sense, all both elect and reprobate; but it is to be preached to all; there is a warrant for it. . . . For the minor, if the universal redemption be the ground of the universal promulgation, then . . . the minor, else there is no verity in promulgation. All God's promulgations are serious and true. . . . Faith doth not save me, but only as an instrument to apply Christ. There is no verity in the universal offer except founded in the . . .
Ibid., 154.
The difference is not in the offer, but in the application. . . . That voluntas decreti comes only in the application. . . . For the word world ... I grant it signifies the elect sometimes, but sometimes it signifies the whole world, and so it must do here. . . . For this love he saith he under ... There is a double love: general and special. A general love to the reprobate, and the fruit of this, a general offer, and general grace, and general reformation.
Ibid., 156.


1) Calamy says that he holds to a form of universal redemption that is "far from" the Arminian sense.
2) He sees his view expressed by the divines in the Synod of Dort.
3) He speaks of an intentional sufficiency, such that Christ did actually pay a price for all.
4) This objective price paid for all renders all men savable, but they must believe to obtain the benefit.
5) John 3:16 is used as a proof of his view, and he argues that "world" cannot mean the "elect only" in that instance.
6) He also argues that a universal proclamation presupposes a form of universal redemption.
7) He associated the "verity in the promulgation," or the seriousness and truthfulness of God's "universal offer," with universal redemption; and further argues that if a price was not paid for all, there could be no "verity" in the offer.
8) He associated the limitation of the decree with the application, and not with the offer or in the redemption price itself.
9) Calamy says there is a general and a special love of God, and that "general love" is shown "to the reprobate," as seen in the "general offer" and "general grace" (as distinguished from special grace).

The only thing that I take exception to above is this:

For the word world ... I grant it signifies the elect sometimes...
Rather, I agree with Ezekiel Culverwell:
I profess I cannot find any one clear place where [the World] must of necessity be taken for the Elect only.

February 26, 2008

Tom Ascol on the Will of God

On May 18th of 2006 [in the context of discussing the "debate" with Ergun and Emir Caner], Dr. Ascol said the following on his blog in response to a question I asked. He said:
I believe that God desires for all people to be saved but has purposed to save His elect. I see two (at least two) dimensions in God's will: revealed and decretive. Failure to make this kind of distinction is a failure to read the Bible's teachings on the will of God accurately.
Update #1:

In one of his recent responses to a "non-Calvinist" SBC statement, Ascol said:
I can also affirm "God's desire for every person to be saved" though I suspect that my reasons for doing so would differ from those who have framed this document. In His law God commands everyone to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3) and in His gospel He "commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). This revealed "desire" of God in no way mitigates His eternal purpose as expressed, regarding salvation, in the doctrine of unconditional election. This latter doctrine involves the "secret things that belong to the Lord our God" while the former "desire" is part of "the things that are revealed" which "belong to us and to our children" (Deuteronomy 29:29). God has revealed His will that all people be saved but He has purposed that His chosen people will infallibly be saved.
Update #2:

Recently, on his Facebook page, Ascol linked to this article by Piper and said: "More wisdom from John Piper. This is a humble, biblical consideration of profound truth."

Update #3:

On Apr. 29th 2017, Jeffrey D. Johnson (a Reformed Baptist pastor) inquired on Twitter: "Does God desire all people to come to Christ? Yes? Or no, only the elect?" Someone at the Founders Ministry Twitter account answered, "Yes. He commands them to come and He desires them to obey His command."

John Bunyan (1628-1688) on the Heart of the Saviour

"Thy stubbornness affects, afflicts the heart of thy Saviour. Carest thou not for this? Of old, ‘he beheld the city, and wept over it.’ Canst thou hear this, and not be concerned? (Luk. 19:41, 42). Shall Christ weep to see thy soul going on to destruction, and will though sport thyself in that way? Yea, shall Christ, that can be eternally happy without thee, be more afflicted at the thoughts of the loss of thy soul, than thyself, who art certainly eternally miserable if thou neglectest to come to him. Those things that keep thee and thy Saviour, on thy part, asunder, are but bubbles; the least prick of an affliction will let out, as to thee, what now thou thinkest is worth the venture of heaven to enjoy.

Hast thou not reason? Canst thou not so much as once soberly think of thy dying hour, or of whither thy sinful life will drive thee then? Hast thou no conscience? or having one, is it rocked so fast asleep by sin, or made so weary with an unsuccessful calling upon thee, that it is laid down, and cares for thee no more? Poor man! thy state is to be lamented. Hast no judgment? Art not able to conclude, that to be saved is better than to burn in hell? and that eternal life with God’s favour, is better than a temporal life in God’s displeasure? Hast no affection but what is brutish? what, none at all? No affection for the God that made thee? What! none for his loving Son that has showed his love, and died for thee? Is not heaven worth thy affection? O poor man! which is strongest, thinkest thou, God or thee? If thou art not able to overcome him, thou art a fool for standing out against him (Mat. 5:25, 26). ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God’ (Heb. 10:29-31). He will gripe hard; his fist is stronger than a lion’s paw; take heed of him, he will be angry if you despise his Son; and will you stand guilty in your trespasses, when he offereth you his grace and favour? (Exo. 34: 6, 7)."

February 23, 2008

Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) on God and the Gospel Offer

5. We ought therefore to proceed on the obvious representations which Scripture gives of the Deity, and these beheld in their own immediate light, untinged by the dogma of Predestination. God waiting to be gracious—God not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance—God swearing by Himself that He has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that all should come unto Him and live—God beseeching men to enter into reconciliation, and this not as elect, but simply and generally as men and sinners;—these are the attitudes in which the Father of the human family sets Himself forth unto the world—these the terms in which He speaks to us from heaven. Now what we affirm, what we zealously affirm, is, that the gospel is not adequately rendered, if the full and natural force of these exhibitions be not brought to bear on the hearts of all men. It is a distorted gospel, if through any doctrinal medium whatever, the spectacle of a God beckoning their return to forgiveness be at all darkened or transformed. Any charm which there is in Christianity to recall or to regenerate some, lies in those of its overtures which are so framed as to hold out the offered friendship of God unto all. We strip our religion of its moral efficacy if we do not so represent it. It is not a limited, it is a universal offer in the gospel, which is the instrument of every particular conversion. This is not superseded by the system of necessity. The same God who makes the manifested good-will of one man an instrument for gaining the confidence and affection of another towards him, makes His own manifested good-will the instrument for gaining the confidence and affection of sinners unto Himself; and it is an instrument, we repeat, which may be brought to bear upon all. It is an open manifestation on which every man is invited to look, and in which all have an equal warrant to trust and to rejoice. All that necessity does is to make sure the concatenation between antecedents and their consequents, between means and their ends; and this it does whatever the antecedents and whatever the consequents are. There is nothing, therefore, in necessity, or to substitute the theological term, there is nothing in predestination, which hinders the antecedent in the work of conversion from being the general offer of pardon to all men, and the consequent from being the repose of a confiding acceptance on the part of all or of any who are willing to enter on the path of reconciliation. The index to this path is lifted up in the sight of all. The bidding to walk in this path is addressed unto all. The Sun of righteousness hath arisen for the general behoof of human spirits, just as much as the sun of nature hath arisen for the general behoof of human eyes. We can imagine so violent a perversity as that of shutting one's eyes against the light of day, and so walking wilfully in darkness. And we are not left to imagine, for we see it exemplified of thousands, that they shut the eyes of their understanding against the light of the gospel, and so walk wilfully in spiritual darkness. He who doeth evil cometh not unto the light, says our Saviour. It is because of our own perversity, it is because of our own resistance, if we do not obtain the pardon of the gospel. We have it for the taking. The book of revelation is open to us, and we may read our welcome there, even in the very passages where the elect read it, for they have no more access than others to the book of destiny. The demonstration held forth in the gospel is that of a God not only commanding but even beseeching His strayed creatures to return unto Him. If one man be carried by this demonstration and another resist it, it is not because the external demonstration has been differently given to the two men, but because it has been differently received by them. God, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, holds forth the very same overtures to both; and the only distinction is, that it is not responded to in the same way by both. The command on both to believe is alike imperative. The entreaty for both to return is alike importunate. The love wherewith God loved the world so as to send His only begotten Son into it, ought to be urged on both these inhabitants of the world—in the very same style of entreaty and unreserved assurance—and that for the purpose of awakening in them the same confidence, and calling forth the same gratitude for the good-will from heaven thus manifested to the one just as it is to the other. We are aware that there may be and often is a difference in the result, but the cause of this must be looked for inwardly, to a difference between the men, and not outwardly, to the application that has been brought to bear upon them. The application is a free pardon held out for acceptance to them both—the assurance of God's readiness in Christ Jesus to forgive, coupled with the call of repentance to them both—the declaration of a blood that cleanseth from all sin, and that will most assuredly cleanse them from their sin if they will only put their trust in it, made equally to them both—the proclamation of an open way of access, towards which our very first movement will cause joy in heaven, and God Himself—like the father in the parable—to meet them with the encouragements of His parental welcome, lifted up in the hearing of both, a longing affection on the part of their Creator, lifted up in such touching expressions as—Oh, that they would remember the things which belong to their peace; and, Oh, that there were a heart in them to keep my commandments, this, we say, pointedly and with the same force of moral earnestness addressed to them both. Such is the outward engine made to play on the hearts of each; and that minister is untrue to his commission who does not bear it indiscriminately round, and cause it to operate with equal freeness and importunity at every door. We are aware that the effect within will not be the same, but the application from without ought to be the same; and that theologian has wildered himself among speculations which he knows not how to manage, and which therefore as too high for him he had better let alone, who suffers his views on necessity, on predestination, on the sovereignty of Divine grace, or the decrees of a past eternity, to embarrass the plain work that has been put into his hands, which is to make full tender of the mercy of God in Christ to all who will; and an equally full tender of the strength from on high, by which he might perfect the indispensable repentance of the gospel to all who will.
Thomas Chalmers, Institutes of Theology (Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox, 1849), 2:409–412.

February 20, 2008

Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705) on the Last Judgment and Grace Refused


The wicked are brought to the Bar.
    like guilty Malefactors,
That oftentimes of bloody Crimes
    and Treasons have been Actors.
Of wicked Men, none are so mean
    as there to be neglected;
Nor none so high in dignity
    as there to be respected.


The glorious Judge will privilege
    nor Emperor nor King;
But every one that hath misdone
    doth unto judgment bring.
And every one that hath misdone,
    the Judge impartially
Condemneth to eternal woe,
    and endless misery.


Thus one and all, thus great and small,
    the Rich as well as Poor,
And those of place, as the most base,
    do stand the Judge before.
They are arraign'd, and there detain'd
    before Christ's Judgment seat,
With trembling fear their Doom to hear,
    and feel his Anger's heat.


There Christ demands at all their hands
    a strict and straight account
Of all things done under the Sun,
    whose number far surmount
Man's wit and thought: they all are brought
    unto this solemn Trial,
And each offense with evidence,
    so that there's no denial.


There's no excuse for their abuse,
    since their own Consciences
More proof give in of each Man's sin,
    than thousand Witnesses.
Though formerly this faculty
    had grossly been abused,
(Men could it stifle, or with it trifle,
    when as it them accused,)


Now it comes in, and every sin
    unto Men's charge doth lay;
It judgeth them and doth condemn,
    though all the World say nay.
It so stingeth and tortureth,
    it worketh such distress,
That each Man's self against himself,
    is forced to confess.


It's vain, moreover, for Men to cover
    the least Iniquity;
The Judge hath seen, and privy been
    to all their villainy.
He unto light and open sight
    the work of darkness brings;
He doth unfold both new old,
    both known and hidden things.


All filthy facts and secret acts,
    however closely done,
And long conceal'd, are there reveal'd
    before the mid-day Sun.
Deeds of the night, shunning the light,
    which darkest corners sought,
To fearful blame, and endless shame,
    are there most justly brought.


And as all facts, and grosser acts,
    so every word and thought,
Erroneous notion and lustful motion,
    are unto Judgment brought.
No Sin so small and trivial,
    but hither it must come;
Nor so long past but now at last
    it must receive a doom.


At this sad season, Christ asks a Reason
    (with just austerity)
Of Grace refus'd, of light abus'd
    so oft, so wilfully;
Of Talents lent, by them misspent
    and on their Lust bestown,
Which if improv'd as it behoov'd
    Heav'n might have been their own;


Of times neglected, of means rejected,
    of God's long-suffering
And Patience, to Penitence
    that sought hard hearts to bring;
Why chords of love did nothing move
    to shame or to remorse?
Why warnings grave, and counsels, have
    naught chang'd their sinful course?


Why chastenings, and evils things,
    why judgments so severe,
Prevailed not with them a jot,
    nor wrought an awful fear?
Why promises of Holiness,
    and new Obedience,
They oft did make, but always brake
    the same, to God's offense?


Why still Hell-ward, without regard,
    they bold ventured,
And chose Damnation before Salvation,
    when it was offered
Why sinful pleasures and earthly treasures,
    like fools, they prized more
Than Heav'nly wealth, Eternal health,
    and all Christ's Royal store?


Why, when he stood off'ring his Blood
    to wash them from their sin
They would embrace no saving Grace,
    but liv'd and died therein?
Such aggravations, where no evasions,
    nor false pretences hold,
Exaggerate and cumulate
    guilt more than can be told.
Michael Wigglesworth, The Day of Doom, Or, A Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgment (New York: American News Company, 1867), pp. 35-39.


February 19, 2008

George Swinnock (c.1627–1673) on Universal Offers of Grace

"Ponder how universal his offers of grace are. Jesus Christ, with all his merits, are tendered to all. The proposals of divine mercy and love are general and universal. 'Go preach the gospel,' observe, 'to every creature. He that believeth shall be saved.' 'Ho every one that thirsteth,' Isa. lv. 1. 'If any man,' let him be poor or rich, high or low, 'thirst, let him come to me and drink,' John vii. 37.

It is a great encouragement that, in the offers of pardon and life, none are excluded; why, then, shouldst thou exclude thyself. 'Come to me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden,' Mat. xi. 28. Mark, poor sinner, 'all ye.' Art not thou one of that all? Is not thy wickedness thy weight, and thy corruption thy burden? Then thou art called particularly as well as generally. Jesus Christ taketh thee aside from the crowd, and whispereth thee in the ear, O poor sinner, that art weary of the work, and heavy-laden with the weight of sin, be entreated to come to me; I will give thee rest. Why doth thy heart suggest that he doth not intend thee in that call? Doth he not, by that qualification, as good as name thee? Ah, it is an unworthy, a base jealousy, to mistrust a loving Christ without the least cause.

Once more, meditate how willing he is to heal thy wounded spirit, and be not faithless, but believing. He is willing to accept of thee, if thou art willing to accept him. What mean his affectionate invitations? He seeketh to draw thee with cords of love, cords that are woven and spun out of his heart and bowels: Cant. iv. 8, 'Come away from Lebanon, my sister, my spouse; from the lion's den, from the mountains of leopards.' Christ's love is hot and burning; he thinketh thou tarriest too long from his embraces: 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled,' Cant. v. 2. Christ stands begging for entrance: Lost man, do but suffer me to save thee; poor sinner, suffer me to love thee. These are the charms of gospel rhetoric. None singeth so sweetly as the bird of paradise, the turtle that chirpeth upon the church's hedges, that he may cluck sinners to himself. What mean his pathetical expostulations, 'Why will ye die?' Ezek. xxxiii. 11. What reason hast thou thus to run upon thy death and ruin? 'What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me?' Jer. ii. 5; what harm have I ever done them? what evil do they know by me, that they walk so contrary to me? But one place for all: Micah vi. 3, 4, 'O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. For I brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants.' O my people, remember now what bowels of love are here sounding in every line; what fiery affection is there in such sweet expostulations! Oh admirable condescension!

What meaneth his sorrow for them that refuse him for their Saviour? 'He is grieved because of the hardness of men's hearts,' Mark iii. 5.

He shed tears for them that shed his blood. When he came nigh that city, which was the slaughter-house of the prophets of the Lord, and of the Lord of the prophets, he wept, Luke xix. 41: 'If thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day.' The brokenness of his speech sheweth the brokenness of his spirit. He is pitiful towards their souls that are so cruel to themselves, and weepeth for them that go laughing to hell.

What meaneth his joy at the birthday of the new creature, when he is received with welcome into the sinner's heart? The mother is as much pleased that her full breasts are drawn as the child can be. The day of thy cordial acceptation of him will be the day of the gladness of his heart. At such an hour he rejoiced in spirit, saith the evangelist, Luke x. 21. He wept twice, and he bled, as some affirm, seven times; but we never read of his rejoicing, if I mistake not, but in this place. And surely it was something that did extraordinarily take the heart of Christ, which could, in the time of his humiliation, tune his spirit into a merry note, and cause this man of sorrows to rejoice. Ah, sinner, believe it, he would never so willingly have died such a cursed, painful death, if he had not been willing that sinners should live a spiritual and eternal life.

What mean, I say, his invitations, expostulations, grief upon refusal, joy upon acceptance, his commands, entreaties, promises, threatenings; his wooing thee by the ministers of his word, by the motions of his Spirit, by his daily, nightly, hourly mercies, by his gracious providence, by his unwearied patience, but to assure thee that he is heartily willing to accept thee for his servant, for his son, if thou art heartily willing to accept him for thy Saviour and for! thy sovereign? He would never present thee with such costly gifts, if his offer of marriage were not in earnest. Besides, broken-hearted sinner, for it is to thee that all this while I have been speaking; how darest thou any longer entertain such a traitor against the King of saints in thy breast, as a thought that the Lord Jesus can be guilty in any of the forementioned particulars of the least insincerity?"

February 18, 2008

Hugh Latimer (c.1487–1555) on Christ's Blood

For for what other cause did Christ come, but only to take away our sins by his passion, and so deliver us from the power of the devil? But these merit-mongers have so many good works, that they be able to sell them for money, and so to bring other men to heaven too by their good works: which, no doubt, is the greatest contempt of the passion of Christ that can be devised. For Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity for as many as will believe the same: they that will not believe it, shall not have it; for it is no more but, "Believe and have." For Christ shed as much blood for Judas, as he did for Peter: Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe, and therefore he was condemned; the fault being in him only, in nobody else. But to say, or to believe, that we should be saved by the law, this is a great dishonouring of Christ's passion: for the law serveth to another purpose,—it bringeth us to the knowledge of our sins, and so to Christ: for when we be come through the law to the knowledge of our sins, when we perceive our filthiness, then we be ready to come to Christ, and fetch remission of our sins at his hands.
Hugh Latimer, "Sermons Preached in Lincolnshire, 1552: On the Epistle for the Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity [on Philippians 3:17-18]," Sermons by Hugh Latimer, ed. George Elwes Corrie (Cambridge: University Press, 1844), 521.


February 17, 2008

J. C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

"I will give place to no one in maintaining that Jesus loves all mankind, came into the world for all, died for all, provided redemption sufficient for all, calls on all, invites all, commands all to repent and believe; and ought to be offered to all—freely, fully, unreservedly, directly, unconditionally—without money and without price. If I did not hold this, I dare not get into a pulpit, and I should not understand how to preach the Gospel.

But while I hold all this, I maintain firmly that Jesus does special work for those who believe, which He does not do for others. He quickens them by His Spirit, calls them by His grace, washes them in His blood—justifies them, sanctifies them, keeps them, leads them, and continually intercedes for them—that they may not fall. If I did not believe all this, I should be a very miserable, unhappy Christian."

February 13, 2008

John Knox (c.1514–1572) on Common Love

Shortly after that the people of Israel, I mean the tribes of Juda, Benjamin, and Levi, were, by the miraculous work of God, after the bondage of seventy years, set at libertie and broght againe to Jerusalem; in which they did re-edifie the temple, repaire the walles, and beginne to multiplie, and so to grow to some strength within the citie and land; they fall to their old nature, I mean to be ungrate and unthankfull unto God. The people were slothfull; and the priestes, who should have provoked the people to the remembrance of those great benefites, were become even like to the rest. The Lord therefor did raise up his Prophete Malachie, (who was the last before Christ,) sharply to rebuke, and plainely to convict this horrible ingratitude of that unthankfull nation, who so shamefully had forgotten those so great benefits recently bestowed upon them. And thus beginneth he his Prophecie: "I have loved you, saieth the Lord;" in which wordes he speaketh not of a common love, which in preserving and feeding all creatures is common to the reprobate, but of that love by the which he had sanctified and seperated them from the rest of nations, to have his glorie manifested. But because they (as all ungrate persons do) did not consider wherin this his love towardes them more then towards others did stand, he bringeth them to the fountain, demanding this question: "Was not Esau brother to Jacob? saith the Lord, and nevertheless Jacob have I loved, and Esau I have hated." And this he proveth, not onely by the diversitie of the two countreis which were given to their posterities, but also by that, that God continually shewed himself loving to Jacob and to his posteritie, reducing them againe after long captivitie; declaring himself, as it were, enemy to Edom, whose desolation he wold never restore, but wold distroy that which they should go about to build.
John Knox, "On Predestination," in The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing (Edinburgh: J. Thin, 1895), 5:150–151.


Note: See also pages 58 and 82 for other affirmations of God's "common love" in Knox. His comments on page 61, which seem to deny common love, should be understood as a "common love" in the sense of his free-will opponents, or a love that is alike (p. 82) for all and universally redemptive in scope. George Gillespie seems to be like John Knox in this regard.

In his dispute with Edmund Calamy and other moderates at the Westminster Assembly, Gillepsie, by way of a question, seems to deny God's love for all men. But, if one reads the context carefully, it is probably best to take him as denying God's redemptive love for all men, since Gillespie was disputing the redemptive sense of God's love as taught by Calamy and other moderates who maintained a Calvinistic form of universal redemption. See Mitchell and Struthers' Minutes of the Westminster Assembly. It is not likely that Gillespie denied the universal sense of God's love in the sense taught by his colleague and elder theologian, Samuel Rutherford.

Phil Johnson, in his Primer on Hyper-Calvinism, seems to have Gillespie in mind when he says, "A few other Puritan and mainstream Reformed theologians have also denied the love of God to the reprobate. They are a distinct minority, but they nonetheless have held this view." He (unlike Dr. Curt Daniel) doesn't want to label Arthur Pink as a hyper-Calvinist due to Pink's denial of God's universal love. Johnson speaks of a plurality, when it is really only one man (Gillespie) he has in mind at the Westminster Assembly. I spoke to Johnson about this in an e-mail, and he mentioned the Minutes. Again, Gillespie doesn't positively assert anything in the context, but rather puts his seeming denial of God's universal love in the form of a question. He also, in the context of the question, refers to the sense of love "as is maintained," which likely to refer to the redemptive sense of God's love in Christ as taught by Calamy. Gillespie was indeed a very high Calvinist, but not likely to differ from the equally high Rutherford and Knox on the subject of God's common love for all in His image, or as they are His creatures.

Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on Common Love and the Death of Christ

Let us not judge ourselves by a general love. As there is a general love of God to man, a general love of Christ to mankind in dying, and giving a conditional grant of salvation upon faith and repentance, and a particular love to the soul of a believer, so likewise in man there is a general assent, and a particular serious assent to the truth of God, and accordingly a general love upon the apprehensions of what Christ hath done in general. There is a common love to God, which may be so called, because the benefits enjoyed by men are owned as coming from that fountain; a love arising from the apprehensions which men commonly have of the goodness of God in himself, and a common love wrought in them to God, as to other things that are good. Again, men may have a false faith, and a false apprehension of pardon of sin, when indeed no such pardon is granted to them; so they may have proportionably a false love upon such an ungrounded belief.
Stephen Charnock, "A Discourse of the Subjects of the Lord's Supper," in The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 4:464.


Since there may be some confusion in understanding Charnock's point above (see my reply to Horne in the comment section), let me clarify it this way. Charnock makes these observations:

A1) There is a general love of God to all men (even in Christ's death).
B1) An unregenerate man can show some appreciation for it.

A2) There is a particular love of God to believers.
B2) Regenerate man shows faithful appreciation for it.

Charnock, while affirming the veracity of A1 in passing (which is why I quoted him), is saying that the B1 man should not be deluded into thinking he is a B2 man (i.e., one possessing saving faith). It's nothing more than the constant Puritan reminder that there is a distinction between common grace (or general love) and special grace (or particular love), and that those experiencing the former should not confuse it for the latter. That's all.

February 10, 2008

Mitchell and Struthers on the Westminster Debates on Redemption

The debates of the Assembly clearly show that its members did not wish to determine several particulars decided by the Synod of Dort, far less to determine them more rigidly than it had done. They even intentionally left open one point which the Irish divines thought fit to determine. They spoke indifferently of the ‘decree’ and of the ‘decrees’ of God, while the Irish divines speak of only one and ‘the same decree;’ and from the notes of their debates given below,[1] it will be seen that this was done because all were not agreed upon the point, and in order that every one might enjoy his own sense! The same care was taken to avoid the insertion of anything which could be regarded as indicating a preference for supralapsarianism;[2] and for this purpose, the words, ‘to bring this to pass, God ordained to permit man to fall,’ were changed into ‘they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,’ etc. Did these divines mean to follow an opposite policy in regard to the point on which Calamy, Arrowsmith, Vines, Seaman, and other disciples of Davenant, or according to Baillie of Amyraut, differed from the more exact Calvinists? After repeated perusal of their debates, I cannot take upon myself certainly to affirm that they did, though I admit that this matter is not so clear as the others above referred to. No notes of the debate in its latest stage are given, nor is any vote or dissent respecting it found in these Minutes. Calamy, who spoke repeatedly in the debate on the Extent of Redemption, avowed that he held, in the same sense as the English divines at the Synod of Dort,[3] ‘that Christ by his death did pay a price for all, with absolute intention for the elect, with conditional intention for the reprobate in case they do believe; that all men should be salvabiles non obstante lapsu Adami . . .; that Jesus Christ did not only die sufficiently for all, but God did intend, in giving of Christ, and Christ in giving himself did intend, to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe.’ Seaman, Vines, Marshall, and Harris in part at least, agreed with him.[4] And though I cannot find that Dr. Arrowsmith took part in this debate, yet he was attending the Assembly, was a member of the Committee on the Confession, and in his writings has repeatedly expressed his leaning towards the same opinion.[5] In the progress of the debate, the proposition that Christ redeemed the elect only, was exchanged for this other, that Christ did intend to redeem the elect only. The final decision of the Assembly, as has just been stated, is not inserted in these Minutes; and though at first sight it may not seem easy to reconcile the opinions of these divines with the language of the sixth section of this chapter of the Confession, it would be rash for me to say it is impossible. They certainly did not succeed in getting any positive approbation of their opinions inserted; but it is just possible that the language of this section may have been so arranged, that they felt warranted in accepting it as not positively condemning them. Those who in modern times have pronounced most confidently that the more restricted view is exclusively intended, seem to me to have unconsciously construed or interpreted the words, ‘neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only,’ as if they had run, ‘neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, or justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.’ But these two statements do not necessarily bear the same meaning. Calamy, Arrowsmith, and the others who agreed with them, may have felt justified in accepting the former, though they might have scrupled to accept the latter.[6]

It may be argued, however (and it is better to advert to it here), that even if the opinions of these divines were not positively excluded by the language of this section, they must be held to be so by that used in chap. viii. sec. 8: ‘To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption he doth certainly and effectually communicate and apply the same.’ It is quite possible that, in the progress of the debate, they may have yielded somewhat, especially after having secured, in chap. vii. sec. 3, words sufficient to guard the truth they were mainly anxious to conserve, that under the covenant of grace, and by the preaching of the gospel, the Lord ‘freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved.’ Besides, they had admitted (p. 159) a distinction between the propositum morientis and the meritum mortis. Still, it is also just possible that they may have accepted the words ‘purchased redemption,’ in the eighth chapter, as Baxter was willing to do, not of every fruit of Christ's death, but of ‘that special redemption proper to the elect,’ ‘which was accompanied with an intention of actual application of the saving benefits in time.’ Ussher and some of his immediate disciples, of whose own position there seems to be little doubt, appear occasionally to have used the phrase in the same sense,[7] and speak of the differences between Spanheim and Amyraut, the representatives of the two continental Calvinistic schools, as παρεργα quædam, which should not alienate those who in common rejected Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism.[8] Dr. Ames, again, who himself belonged to the stricter school, and who may be regarded as in fact one of the English Puritans, maintains that the chief cardo controversiæ between Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants was not an pro omnibus et singulis mortuus sit Christus? sed quis finis et fruetus sit Christi in eis pro quibus est mortuus, not whether he died for all in some way, but whether he died for all equally, and whether the end and fruit of his doing so was merely to remove legal obstacles, and render salvation possible; or whether it did not also secure the salvation of a certain definite number, and that not a small, but large, number of our lost race.[9] But at any rate, the adoption of the eighth paragraph in chap. viii. of the Confession did not end the contest between the divines, and set them altogether at one. These Minutes show that, when the Larger Catechism was being prepared, another effort was made by the representatives of the Davenant school to get their opinions distinctly sanctioned and positively expressed in that formulary. A committee, apparently of English members only, prepared and brought up for discussion (p. 369) the following questions and answers:― ‘Q. Do all men equally partake of the benefits of Christ?―A. Although from Christ some common favours redound to all mankind, and some special privileges to the visible Church, yet none partake of the principal benefits of His mediation but only such as are members of the Church invisible. Q. What common favours redound from Christ to all mankind?―A. Besides much forbearance and many supplies for this life, which all mankind receive from Christ as Lord of all, they by him are made capable of having salvation tendered to them by the gospel, and are under such dispensations of Providence and operations of the Spirit as lead to repentance.’[10]

These questions and answers were first agreed to be discussed, and then referred back to a Committee with which the Scotch Commissioners were associated. The questions and answers adopted in session 873 (pp. 392, 393) are probably to be regarded as their report; and the answer to the question, Are all they saved by Christ who live within the visible Church and hear the gospel? wears the look of an attempted compromise, admitting on the one side that ‘the gospel, where it cometh, doth tender salvation by Christ to all, testifying that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excludeth none that come unto him;’ and affirming on the other, that ‘none do or can truly come unto Christ, or are saved by him, but only the members of the invisible Church.’ This affirmation is warranted both by the Lambeth and the Irish Articles; but there are few nowadays who will not grant that it was more cautiously expressed in the shape in which it ultimately appeared in the answer to the sixty-eighth question of the Larger Catechism: ‘All the elect, and they only, are effectually called, although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit, who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered them, being justly left to their unbelief, do never truly come to Christ.’

*I had to change the numbering of the footnotes from the original in order to prevent confusion.

1Mr. Rutherford― All agree in this, that God decrees the end and means, but whether in one or more decrees is not agreed. Say, "God also hath decreed." It is very probably but one decree, but whether fit to express it in a Confession of Faith . . .
Mr. Gillespie― When that word is left out, is it not a truth ? and so every one may enjoy his own sense.
Mr. Reynolds― Let us not put in disputes and scholastical things into a Confession of Faith. I think they are different decrees in our manner of conception.
Mr. Calamy―That it may be a truth, I think, in our Prolocutor's book, he gives a great deal of reason for it ; but why should we put it in a Confession of Faith?’ Notes of Speeches in Minutes―see pp. 150, 151.

2 ‘I desire that nothing may be put in one way or other.’ Calamy's Speech, Ibid. p. 151. See also p. 152.

3 See entries on p. 160 of these Minutes in sessions 526, 527.

4 See the notes of the debate (pp. 152, I53, etc.) during sessions 522, 523, and 524. The following are the passages in the theses of the English divines at the Synod of Dort, to which reference is made by Calamy and Marshall: ‘Sic ergo Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, ut omnes et singuli, mediante fide, possint άντίλυτρου hujus remissionem peccatorum et vitam eternam consequi. Sic pro electis mortuus est ut, ex merito mortis ejus secundum æternum Dei beneplacitum specialiter illis destinato, et fidem infallibiliter obtineant et vitam æternam.’ Acta Synodi Dordtrechtanæ, p. 603. ‘Nemo mortalium est qui non possit vere et serio per ministros evangelii vocari ad participationem remissionis peccatorum et vitæ æternæ per hanc mortem Christi. . . . Evangelio autem nihil falsum aut simulatum subest, sed quicquid in eo per ministros offertur aut promittitur hominibus, id eodem modo ab autore evangelii offertur et promittitur iisdem.’―Ibid. p. 602.

5 He says of Davenant, ‘Cujus memoria apud orthodoxos in benedictione sempiterna permanebit;’ and of himself, ‘Rev admodum Davenantii, prælectiones et determinationes imbiberam, exegetica, polemica et Synodica scripta perlegeram et ipsius dogmata fere quidem omnia in succum et sanguinem vertere conatus sum’ (Tactica Sacra, p. 223); and of the particular question here discussed, ‘sanguinem fœderis pro eis (i.e. electis) effusum, si non solis, modo, saltem, et intentione speciali.’

In his sermon on Rev. xii. 1, 2, making a comparison between the natural sun and Christ the Sun of righteousness, he thus expresses himself: ‘No visible creature but shares more or less in the benefit of this influence. So Christ, being the light that lighteth every one that cometh into the world, there is no man but partakes of his goodness in one kind or other, though with much variety in the success.’

In his Chain of Principles (p. 182), Arrowsmith, like Calamy, interprets John iii. 16 not of the ‘elect world,’ but of ‘the undeserving, yea ill-deserving world of mankind.’ Gataker, in his book, de Stylo Novi Testamenti (p. 56), adopts a similar interpretation of this passage. Of course Caryl, Burroughs, and Strong, the members who recommended the Marrow of Modern Divinity, may fairly be held as concurring in this interpretation, though, like several who did so in the succeeding century, they may not have accepted the detailed theory which the author of that book has built on it. Calvin himself has been held by Overall, Hall, and others, to have countenanced the same interpretation, when he says, in his commentary on the passage, ‘Universalem notam apposuit, tum ut promiscue omnes ad vitæ participationem invitet, tum ut præcidat excusationem incredulis. Eodem etiam pertinet nomen mundi quo prius usus est. Tametsi, enim, in mundo nihil reperietur Dei favore dignum, se tamen toti mundo propitium ostendit, quum sine exceptione omnes ad fidem Christi vocat, quæ nihil aliud est quam ingressus in vitam. Cæterum meminerimus ita communiter promitti omnibus vitam in Christo, qui crediderint, ut tamen minime communis omnium sit fides. Patet enim omnibus Christus ac expositus est, solis tamen electis oculos Deus aperit.’

6 This concatenation may be what Gillespie points at in his speech, p. 153, when he says they must look beyond the proposition, and see what they held concerning that which in order goes before and what in order follows after. He himself did not accept even their view of John iii. 16.

7 This may be seen in his letter on the intent and extent of the death of Christ, and in his vindication of that letter (Works, vol. xii. ). In the former he dwells chiefly on the point on which he and Davenant differed from the older school; but in the latter he gives greater prominence to the point in which he differed from the Arminians, and says that impetration, in the sense these attached to the term, was not of wider extent than application, and that ‘forgiveness of sins is not impetrated for any unto whom the merit of Christ's death is not applied.’ Some suppose that Ussher's views changed a good deal in his later days; but if Baxter's, or even Hammond's, account of interviews with him shortly before his death are carefully compared with this letter, and the vindication of it, his later opinions will be found to be as nearly as possible identical with his earlier. To the last he denied that Christ died for all men έξ ίσου. For his latest views on predestination and reprobation, see p. liv.

8 See his letter to Spanheim in vol. xvi. p. 95 of his Works.

9 Si vago sensu quæratur an Christus aliquo modo recte dicatur mortuus pro electis; an vero aliquo modo pro omnibus, nulla est hie una certa et determinata quæstio. Neque etiam potest vel posterior pars a nostris vel prior a Remonstrantibus absolute negari. Sunt inter nostros, quod Remonstrantes non latet, qui simul utramque parterri defendunt: ‘Christum scilicet pro electis mortuum esse quoad efficaciam, et tamen pro omnibus quoad sufficientiam. Non desunt etiam qui utramque partem simul negant, Christum scilicet mortuum esse pro eis qui (ordine intuitus divini) prius fuerunt electi et mortuum eum esse pro omnibus (collective sumptis) ex æquo. Docent enim Christum Dominum, in præscientia Dei, antequam intelligatur electio hominum, satisfactionem suam obtulisse Patri ut aliqui designarentur a Patre in quibus illa satisfactio salutis effectum consequeretur, materialem tamen designationem, illorum eligendorum voluntati Dei reliquisse.’ Amesii Antisynodalia Scripta, p. 176.

10 The answers to these questions have rather a marked similarity to
the following paragraph (pp. 205, 206) of Ball's Treatise of the Covenant of Grace, a work published in 1645, which was held in high esteem by the Puritans, and recommended by Reynolds, as well as Calamy and several other members of the Westminster Assembly: ‘The second sort of divines (Contra-Remonstrants) distinguish the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ's death. In respect of the worth and greatness of the price, he died for all men: because it was sufficient for the redemption of every man in the world if they did repent and believe; and God might, without impeachment of justice, have offered salvation to every man in the world had it been his pleasure. In the efficiency, as every man or any man hath fruit by the death of Christ, so Christ died for him. But this is not of one kind: some fruit is common to every man; for as Christ is lord of all things in heaven and earth, even the earthly blessings which infidels enjoy may be termed fruits of Christ's death. Others proper to the members of the visible Church, and common to them, as to be called by the word, enjoy the ordinances of grace, live under the covenant, partake of some graces that come from Christ, which, through their fault, be not saving; and in this sense Christ died for all that be under the covenant. But other fruits of Christ's death, according to the will of God and intention of Christ as Mediator, be peculiar to the sheep of Christ, his brethren, them that be given unto him of the Father, as faith unfeigned, regeneration, pardon of sin, adoption, etc.; and so they hold Christ died efficiently for his people only, in this sense, namely, so as to bring them effectually to faith, grace, and glory.’
Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, eds. Alexander F. Mitchell & John P. Struthers (Edinburgh: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1874), liv–lxi.

February 7, 2008

W. G. T. Shedd's (1820-1894) Dogmatic Theology

Volume 1 (Google, Archive)

Volume 2 (Google, Archive)

Volume 3 (Google, Archive)

For more editions and books by Shedd, check here (click).


Stephen Charnock (1628–1680) on the Bruised Redeemer

3. Was there not a world of demerit in man, to animate grace as well as wrath against him? We were so far from deserving the opening any streams of goodness, that we had merited floods of devouring wrath. What were all men but enemies to God in a high manner? Every offense was infinite, as being committed against a being of infinite dignity; it was a stroke at the very being of God, a resistance of all his attributes; it would degrade him from the height and perfection of his nature; it would not, by its good will, suffer God to be God. If he that hates his brother is a murderer of his brother (1 John iii. 15), he that hates his Creator is a murderer of the Deity, and every 'carnal mind is enmity to God' (Rom. viii. 7): every sin envies him his authority, by breaking his precept; and envies him his goodness, by defacing the marks of it: every sin comprehends in it more than men or angels can conceive: that God who only hath the clear apprehensions of his own dignity, hath the sole clear apprehensions of sin's malignity. All men were thus by nature: those that sinned before the coming of the Redeemer had been in a state of sin; those that were to come after him would be in a state of sin by their birth, and be criminals as soon as ever they were creatures. All men, as well the glorified as those in the flesh at the coming of the Redeemer, and those that were to be born after, were considered in a state of sin by God, when he bruised the Redeemer for them; all were filthy and unworthy of the eye of God; all had employed the faculties of their souls, and the members of their bodies, which they enjoyed by his goodness, against the interest of his glory. Every rational creature had made himself a slave to those creatures over whom he had been appointed a lord, subjected himself as a servant to his inferior, and strutted us a superior against his liberal Sovereign, and by every sin гendered himself more a child of Satan, and enemy of God, and more worthy of the curses of the law, and the torments of hell. Was it not, now, a mighty goodness that would surmount those high mountains of demerit, and elevate such creatures by the depression of his Son? Had we been possessed of the highest holiness, a reward had been the natural effect of goodness. It was not possible that God should be unkind to a righteous and innocent creature; his grace would have crowned that which had been so agreeable to him. He had been a denier of himself, had he numbered innocent creatures in the rank of the miserable; but to be kind to an enemy, to run counter to the vastness of demerit in man, was a superlative goodness, a goodness triumphing above all the provocations of men, and pleas of justice: it was an abounding goodness of grace; 'where sin abounded, grace did much more abound' (Rom. v. 20), it swelled above the heights of sin more than all his other attributes.
Stephen Charnock, "The Goodness of God," in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 270–271.

Stephen Charnock, "A Discourse Upon the Goodness of God," in The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh, James Nichol, 1864), 2:328.


February 5, 2008

A Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) Comment on Christ's Death and Offers of Salvation

Whereto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and what are they like?—LUKE VII. 31-35.

CHRIST in the former verses had commended St John's ministry, and in the verse next going afore he speaketh of the different success it found in the publicans, from that it found in the pharisees, who rejected the counsel of God. Now in the verses following he shews what success his own ministry had amongst them, and thus he doth by way of comparison or parable. And this he brings by way of asking a question, which implies admiration and indignation, both shewing a deep passion, as it is in Isa.: 'What shall I do for my vineyard? Isa. v. 4; and this shews in general, that the refractory disposition of man is a matter of indignation and of admiration, especially if we consider what it despiseth, and whom.

First, They despise the word of God, the saving word, the counsel and wisdom of God; nay, secondly, they despise God clothed in flesh, that was born and died for their sakes, and thereby offers salvation to them, and life everlasting; yet all this to the obdurate heart of man is as lightning that dazzleth the eyes and helps not the sight a whit; and therefore, Isa. vi. 10, the prophet is bidden 'to make the heart of the people fat.' Go tell this people, hearing they shall not understand, &c.: and therefore no marvel if God bears indignation against such. 'Whereto shall I liken the men of this generation,' Luke vii. 31; this generation of vipers, that are worse than any of the generations fore-passed, by how much they have had more means to be better.
Richard Sibbes, "The Success of the Gospel," in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1864), 7:280.



I am not yet prepared to say that Sibbes held the view that Christ suffered for the sin of the non-elect. However, I do think the above quote shows that Christ, at least, died so that the offer of salvation could be made to some who ultimately rejected him. Sibbes seems very reserved in his language respecting God's revealed will, but the above quote is not the sort of thing many Calvinists are willing to say today.

John Calvin's (1509–1564) Reference to Augustine on God's Love and Hate

I will supply both translations from Calvin's Institutes (II, XVI, 4) and then the complete reference to Augustine on The Gospel of John in what follows. We will see that both Calvin and Augustine believe that God can both love and hate the same individual(s) at the same time, but in different respects.

Here are the Calvin quotes first:
For this reason, Paul says that the love with which God embraced us “before the creation of the world” was established and grounded in Christ [Ephesians 1:4-5]. These things are plain and in agreement with Scripture, and beautifully harmonize those passages in which it is said that God declared his love toward us in giving his only-begotten Son to die [John 3:16]; and, conversely, that God was our enemy before he was again made favorable to us by Christ’s death [Romans 5:10]. But to render these things more certain among those who require the testimony of the ancient church, I shall quote a passage of Augustine where the very thing is taught: “God’s love,” says he, “is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather, he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son — before we became anything at all. The fact that we were reconciled through Christ’s death must not be understood as if his Son reconciled us to him that he might now begin to love those whom he had hated. Rather, we have already been reconciled him who loves us, with whom we were enemies on account of sin. The apostle will testify whether I am speaking the truth: ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ [Romans 5:8]. Therefore, he loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness. Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us. For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet because our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each one of us what we had made, and to love what he had made.” These are Augustine’s words.
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 1:505–507.
4. For this reason Paul says, that God “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” (Ephesians 1:3, 4.) These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16;) and yet that it was “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Romans 5:10.) But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: “Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Romans 5:8.) Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made.” Such are the words of Augustine, (Tract in Jo. 110.)
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 1:436–437.

Now here is the reference to Augustine:
6. The love, therefore, wherewith God loveth, is incomprehensible and immutable. For it was not from the time that we were reconciled unto Him by the blood of His Son that He began to love us; but He did so before the foundation of the world, that we also might be His sons along with His Only-begotten, before as yet we had any existence of our own. Let not the fact, then, of our having been reconciled unto God through the death of His Son be so listened to or so understood, as if the Son reconciled us to Him in this respect, that He now began to love those whom He formerly hated, in the same way as enemy is reconciled to enemy, so that thereafter they become friends, and mutual love takes the place of their mutual hatred; but we were reconciled unto Him who already loved us, but with whom we were at enmity because of our sin. Whether I say the truth on this, let the apostle testify, when he says: “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. v. 8, 9. He, therefore, had love toward us even when we were practising enmity against Him and working iniquity; and yet to Him it is said with perfect truth, “Thou hatest, O Lord, all workers of iniquity.” Ps. v. 5. Accordingly, in a wonderful and divine manner, even when He hated us, He loved us; for He hated us, in so far as we were not what He Himself had made; and because our own iniquity had not in every part consumed His work, He knew at once both how, in each of us, to hate what we had done, and to love what He had done. And this, indeed, may be understood in the case of all regarding Him to whom it is truly said, “Thou hatest nothing that Thou hast made.” Wisd. xi. 25. For He would never have wished anything that He hated to exist, nor would aught that the Omnipotent had not wished exist at all, were it not that in what He hated there was also something that He loved. For He justly hateth and reprobateth vice as utterly repugnant to the principle of His procedure, yet He loveth even in the persons of the vitiated what is susceptible either of His own beneficence through healing, or of His judgment by condemnation. In this way God at the same time hateth nothing of what He has made; for as the Creator of natures, and not of vices, it was not He who made the evil that He hateth; and of these same evils, all is good that He really doeth, either by mercifully healing them, or by judicially regulating them. Seeing, then, that He hateth nothing that He hath made, who can worthily describe how much He loveth the members of His Only-begotten, and how much more the Only-begotten Himself, in whom are hid all things visible and invisible, which were ordained in their various classes, and which He loves in fullest harmony with such ordination? For the members of His Only-begotten He is leading on by the liberality of His grace to an equality with the holy angels; while the Only-begotten Himself, being Lord of all, is doubtless Lord of angels, being by nature, as God, the equal not of angels, but rather of the Father Himself; while through grace, in respect of which He is man, how can He otherwise than surpass all angelic excellence, seeing that in Him human flesh and the Word constitute but one personality?
Augustine, “Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John: CX.6,” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st Series, ed. Philip Schaff, 14 vols. (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2004), 7:411.

According to these men, it is not a contradiction to say that God loves those whom he, in another respect, hates at the same time. For Beza’s reference to Augustine on God’s simultaneous love and hate, see See Theodore Beza, Ad acta Colloquii Montisbelgardensis Tubingae edita (Genevae: Johannes Le Preux, 1588), 212–213.

February 3, 2008

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) on Common Grace

Use 3. That we labour to be of that few that are truly wise and prudent. Examine, are we of those few or not, and what have we in us that may secure us to be of this small number? for if we be not, we shall never be saved. For Christ's flock is a little flock,' Luke xii. 32; and few there be that shall enter in at that strait gate. What hast thou, then, which may discover unto thine own soul that thou art of that number, and not of the common multitude that shall be damned? It is a thing worth the inquiring of our souls. What have we in us that may characterise us to be God's true servants, Christ's true children, and members of the church? and never rest in a common persuasion of common grace, which castaways may have as well as we. We must strive for some distinct grace, that reprobates cannot attain unto.
Richard Sibbes, "The Returning Backslider; Or, A Commentary Upon Hosea XIV" in The Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1862), 2:413.