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Charnock on the General Love of God and the Death of Christ

February 13, 2008

“Let us not judge ourselves by a general love. As there is a general love of God to man, ageneral 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 Works, 4:464.

Credit to Tony for this good find.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2008 2:16 pm

    It is a good find, but I notice that God’s love of all is treated more as a delusion than a doorway. This could be one reason why more extreme forms of calvinism came to dominate.

  2. Flynn permalink
    February 13, 2008 5:16 pm

    Hey Mark,

    What do you mean treated as a delusion? Can you be a little more explicit? Not a trap, just not seeing what you are seeing right now.

    Ive have updated the Charnock file: Stephen Charnock on the Death of Christ

    The other site is coming along well. You might want to check out the Meta-Links (Indexes) Ive created (and still working on) and check out the cool Preston quotation at the top of the about page.

    Owenic Calvinism was basically well unreceived :-) in England in the post-English civil war period.

    “well unreceived” is a passive aggressive’s way of saying, it was not at all popular in the latter half of the 17thC. :-)

  3. February 13, 2008 6:52 pm

    Hi Mark,

    What is treated as a delusion in the quote is not God’s general love to man, but man’s general love to God. Some mistake a sort of general appreciation for the things of God as genuine faith. While making the above point, Charnock does affirm, in passing, that God has a common love for all men, and that Christ exhibits a general love for mankind in dying for them.

    Charnock is comparing several things:
    1) God’s general love for man, and men’s general (non-saving) love or appreciation to God for it.
    2) God’s special or particular love toward believers (the believing elect) and their special love in response to him.

    Charnock wants to point out that an unregenerate man can have a sort of love or appreciation for God’s general love to him, but they should not be deluded into thinking that is indicative of saving faith.

    However, my purpose in quoting Charnock is to show his passing affirmation of God’s general love for man, and Christ’s general love for man in dying for all.

  4. February 13, 2008 7:05 pm

    Here’s the point again. Think of the comparison this way:

    A1) God’s general love for man
    B1) Unregenerate man’s appreciation

    A2) God’s particular love for believers
    B2) The regenerate man’s appreciation

    Charnock, while affirming the veracity of A1 is passing, wants to make the point that the B1 man with a mere general love to God should not think of himself as a B2 man.

    So, Charnock is NOT saying A1 (God’s general love) is a delusion, but that the B1 man is delusional if he thinks his “general love” to God is equivalent to saving faith. It’s nothing more than the constant Puritan reminder that there is a distinction between common grace and special grace, and that those experiencing the former should not confuse for the latter. That’s all.

  5. February 13, 2008 7:08 pm

    “is passing” should be “in passing” in my last comments.

  6. February 14, 2008 12:19 pm

    Flynn, Tony helped me out. Ignore my comment.

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