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Turretin on General Love

September 13, 2007

Turretin:

1) IV. From goodness flows love by which he communicates himself to the creature and (as it were) wills to unite himself with and do good to it, but in diverse and degrees according to the diversity of the objects. Hence is usually made a threefold distinction in the divine love: the first, that by which he follows creatures, called “love of the creature” (philoktisia); the second, that by which he embraces men, calledlove of man” philoanthropia); the third, which is specially exercised towards the elect and is called “he love of the elect (eklektophilia). For in proportion as the creature is more perfect . and more excellent, so also does it share in a greater effluence and outpouring (aporroen) of divine love!, Hence although love considered effectively and on the part of the internal act is equal in God (because it does not admit of increase and diminution), yet regarded effectively (or on the part of the good which he wills to anyone) it is unequal because some effects of love are greater than others. Trruetin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 2:241.

2) VII. (2) The question is not whether God is borne by a general love and philanthropy (philanthopia) towards men as his creatures, and also bestows upon them various temporal benefits pertaining to the things of this life (ta biotika). We do not deny that God has never left himself without witness (amartyron) with regard to this (Acts 14:17). And we readily grant that there is no one who does not owe some gratitude to God and who, whatever he is or can do, is not bound to give thanks to his Creator. But the question concerns the special and saving love which tends to spiritual benefits, and by which God willed to have mercy upon them to salvation. We thing this is particular to the elect alone, not universal and common to all. Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1:396-397.

3) XVI. Second, not more happily is the love of God here distinguished into comparative and absolute. Is it maintained that Paul, when he speaks of the love of Jacob and the hatred of Esau, wishes only to intimate that God loved the former more and preferred him to the latter (just as the word meaning “to hate” is often put in the Scripture for “to love less,” Gen. 29:31). Although God may be said to have embraced some with a peculiar love (so as to give faith to them), it does not follow that he was unwilling to save others. For various degrees in the love of God towards men can be conceived no less than towards other creatures. We answer as follows: although we readily grant that sometimes hatred is put for a diminished love among men, yet we deny that with Paul God’s hatred towards Esau can be thus understood. It is opposed to his loved Jacob, which is said to be according to election (kat’ eklogen). Therefore this love necessarily includes the purpose of having mercy upon and saving Jacob; the hatred denies it and marks the purpose of reprobation by which he was freely passed over and excluded from salvation (so that thus far the Reformed theologians have uniformly held it) Nor if, in the effects of God’s general love and the common providence by which he is borne to all his creatures (according to the variety of subjects distinguished by a greater or less excellence of nature), there are degrees, does it forthwith follow that there are degrees affectively in God’s special and saving love. Since his love cannot be vain and inefficacious, those whom he loves unto salvation he ought to love fully and even unto the end (Jn. 13:1) Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1:400.

4) II. The reasons are (1) saving faith differs from temporary faith in origin and foundation. The former flows from the special grace of election when it is called “the faith of the elect” (Tit. 1:l); which is given only to those who are called according to his purpose (kata prothesin), Rom.8:28) and were ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48). On the contrary, the latter depends upon common grace which bestows even on the reprobate certain blessings: not only external and temporal, but also spiritual and initial gifts (although not saving) as a testification of a certain general love and to increase their guilt on the supposition of their contumacy. Hence Paul , speaking of the apostasy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, says, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Tim. 2:19), i.e., not on this account does the faith of true believers waver, being built upon the immovable foundation of the election of God. Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 2:588.

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