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David Clarkson on General Non-Electing Love

February 5, 2008

“Proceed we now to those other graces and affections which hypocrites may, in some measure and degree, seem to partake of.

3. They may have some love to God; some affection to Christ, some love to the people of God; yea, to holiness and the ways of God.

(1.) Some love to God, which may be raised upon such grounds as this: they may apprehend God to be good in himself. The heathens gave him the title, not only maximus, but optimus; not only the greatest, but the best good: the summum bonum, the chief good. The Platonists make him the idea of goodness, goodness in perfection, in whom there is a concurrence of all perfections, a confluence of all things amiable and excellent. A natural man may apprehend him to be so good, as other things deserve not the title of good compared with him. This we may infer from Christ’s discourse with the young man: Mat. xix. 16, Since thou dost not conceive me to be God, why callest thou me good, knowing that none is good but God? None comparatively good; none good as he is, originally, essentially, perfectly, unchangeably. Now goodness is the proper object of love; and an object duly propounded to its proper faculty will draw out some act or motion to it. As an hateful object, propounded as most hateful, does usually raise some motion of hatred, so an amiable object, propounded as most amiable, does usually raise some motion of love.

Further, they may apprehend him to be the fountain of goodness, not only to be good in himself, but to be the author of all good to others. So does Plato describe God to be good, and the cause of good. The light of nature leads men to subscribe to that of James, chap. i. A natural man may discover not only goodness in God, but riches of goodness, and that distributed, and that duly expended and laid out upon the sons of men; and the apostle tells us, this discovery is such, as does lead, &c., Rom. ii. 4; nay, it does not only lead, but draw (it is not chalei, but agei). Now, how does it draw? How is goodness attractive but by virtue of love? In this manner, what cause have we to love him, who is so rich in goodness? And how should it grieve me to have offended him, whom I have so much cause to love?

Moreover, they may apprehend that all the good things they enjoy do come from God; that they are parcels of that treasury of those riches of goodness which are in God. Laban, though an idolater, and that in dark times, could see and acknowledge, that what he enjoyed was from the blessing of God, Gen. xxx. 27. Now here is a stronger engagement to love, when God is apprehended, not only good in himself, and good to others, but good to him. This we find will beget some love in the brute creatures; no wonder if it raise some motions of love in the more apprehensive sort of men; who, notwithstanding the fall, have yet this advantage of beasts, they can apprehend a good turn, an engagement to love more clearly, and have more ability to reflect upon the Author of it.

Further, they may conceive the blessings they enjoy proceed from the love of God, Ps. xliv. 8. They may conclude, because he blesses them, he therefore loves them; and this is a strong engagement to love, even upon the worst of men, Mat. v. 46. The worst of men cannot resist such an engagement. The publicans will return some love for love. And may not natural men, apprehending strongly that God loves them (and has many ways expressed his love to them), make some return of love again?”

David Clarkson, “The Conviction of Hypocrites,” in The Practical Works of David Clarkson, (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 2:269-270.

Ripped from Tony.

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