November 20, 2014

Edward Leigh (1602–1671) on God's Common and Special Grace

So much in general of God's virtues. Secondly, in special, the virtues which imply not imperfection in the reasonable creature, are attributed to God. The principle of which are:

1. Bounty or Graciousness, by which God shows favor to the creatures freely, and that either commonly or specially; 1. Commonly, when he exercises beneficence and liberality toward all creatures, powering upon them plentifully all goods of nature, body, mind and fortune, so that there is nothing which tastes not of the inexhausted fountain of his blessings and goodness. Matt. 5:44, 45. Psal. 36:5, 6. God's bounty is a will in him to bestow [a] store of comfortable and beneficial things on the creature in his kind. This bounty he showed to all things in the creation, even to all Spirits, all men and all creatures, and does in great part show still, for he opens his hand and fills every living thing with his bounty, he gives all things richly to enjoy.

2. Specially toward the Church, by which he bestows eternal life on certain men fallen by sin, and redeemed in Christ, Titus 2:11 & 3:4. As this is exercised toward the whole Church, so in a special manner toward some members of it, as toward Enoch, Moses, Jacob, David, Paul, and especially Abraham, who is therefore often called the Friend of God; he made with him and his seed a perpetual league of friendship, and he constantly kept his Laws and Statutes, John 15:14, 15.

God's Graciousness is an essential property, whereby he is in and of himself most gracious and amiable, Psa. 145:8. God is only gracious in and of himself, and whatsoever is amiable and gracious, is so from him.

God's Graciousness is that whereby he is truly amiable in himself, and freely bountiful unto his creatures, cherishing them tenderly without any desert of theirs, Psa. 86:15, 111:5. Gen. 43:29.

God is gracious to all, Psa. 145:8, 9, 10. but especially to such whom he does respect in his well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Exod. 33:19. Isa. 30:19. Luke 1:30. Gen. 6:8. 1 Cor. 15:10. God's free favor is the cause of our salvation, and of all the means tending thereunto, Rom. 3:24 & 5:15, 16. Eph. 1:5, 6 & 2:4. Rom. 9:16. Titus 3:5. Heb. 4:16. Rom. 6:23. 1 Cor. 12:4, 9. The gospel sets forth the freeness, fulness, and the powerfulness of God's grace to his Church, therefore it is called the Gospel of the grace of God, Acts 20:24.

God's Graciousness is firm and unchangeable, so that those which are once beloved can never be rejected, or utterly cast off, Psa. 77:10.

God bestows, 1. Good things. 2. Freely. 3. Plentifully. Psa. 111:4. 4. In a special manner He is gracious towards the godly.

Love is 1. grounded often on something which may deserve it; the grace of God is that love of his which is altogether free. 2. Grace is such a kind of love as flows from a superior to an inferior; love may be in inferiors toward their superiors.


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