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Thomas Manton on John 3:16

June 27, 2008

The love of John 3:16 antecedent to electing love:1:

1) The ground of all that love God beareth to us is for Christ’s sake. There is indeed an antecedent love showed in giving us to Christ, and Christ to us: John iii. 16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son That whoso ever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ The first cause of Christ’s love to us was obedience to the Father ; the Son loved us, because the Father required it ; though after wards God loved us because Christ merited it. All consequent benefits are procured by the merit of Christ. The Father, that is first in order of persons, is first in order of working, and can have no higher cause than his own will and purpose. And besides, there is an obligation established to every person. Absolute elective love is the Father’s property and personal operation; but then his eternal purpose is brought to pass in and through Jesus Christ. Thomas Manton, “Sermon 40″ in Works 11:76.

The love of John 3:16 is the love of benevolence:

1) Strictly, it is taken for our complacency and delight in God. Divines distinguish of a twofold love; a love of benevolence and a love of complacency. The love of benevolence is the desiring of the felicity of another; the love of complacency is the well-pleasedness of the soul in a suitable good. God loveth us both these ways; with the love of benevolence: ‘For so God loved the world. &c., John iii. 16 ; with the love of complacency, and so ‘ The upright in the way are his delight.’ But we love God with but one of these, not with the love of benevolence; for he is above our injuries and benefits, and needeth nothing from us to add to his felicity ; therefore we cannot be said to love him with the love of benevolence, unless very improperly, when we desire his glory; but we love him with a love of complacency when the soul is well pleased in God, or delights in him, which is begun here, and perfected hereafter. This is spoken of, Ps. xxxvii. 4, ‘Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.’ And it is seen in this, when we count his favour and presence our chiefest happiness, and value an interest in him above all the world, Ps. xvi. 6. 7, and Ps. iv. 6, 7 ; and when we delight in other things, as they belong to God : Ps. cxix. 14, ‘ I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.’ Thomas Manton, Sermons on 2 Corinthians 5, in Works, 13:141.

The love of John 3:16 is a love to the creature:

3) There fore, ‘herein is love;’ that is, this is the highest expression of God’s love to the creature, not only that ever was, but can be; for in love only God acteth to the uttermost: he never showed so much of his power and wisdom, but he can show more; of his wrath, but he can show more; but he hath no greater thing to give than himself, than his Christ. At what a dear rate hath the Lord bought our hearts I He needed not; he might have made nobler creatures than the present race of men, and dealt with us as he did with the sinning angels; he would not enter into treaty with them, but the execution was as quick as the sin; so the Lord might utterly have cast us off, and made a new race of men to glorify his grace, leaving Adam to propagate the world to glorify his justice; or, at least, he might have redeemed us in another way, for I suppose it is a free dispensation, opus liberi consilii. But, John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.” He took this way, that we might love Christ as well as believe in him. God might have redeemed us so much in another way, but he could not oblige us so much in another way; he would not only satisfy his justice, but show his love. It was the Lord’s design, by his love, to deserve ours, and so for ever to shame the creature, if they should not now love him. Oh ! think much of this glorious instance, the love of God in giving Christ, and the love of Christ in giving himself. Thomas Manton, “An Exposition with Notes, Upon the Epistle of Jude,” in Works 5:80-81.

The love of John 3:16 the foundation of the saving of believers:2

1) This grace is brought about in a way most convenient for the honour of God and the good of the creature: in a way of faith and holiness. Faith: John iii. 16, ‘ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Holiness: Eph. i. 4, c According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Romans 8,” in Works, 12:296.

2) So we are said to be sparing of those things which are most dear and precious to us; but upon great occasions we part with them. In this sense, when the elect had need of Christ, God did not spare him, but came off freely with him: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,’ parted with him out of his bosom, gave him to die for our sakes. Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Romans 8,” in Works, 12:337.

3) More particularly, if you are coldly affected towards God the Father, consider he spared not his own Son: John iii. 16, ‘For God so loved the world, that h gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ His love brought Christ to you, and you to Christ, the Father’s pure elective love: John xvii. 6, ‘ Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word.’ His love keepeth you in Christ: John xvi. 27, ‘For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.’ If you are coldly affected towards Christ, think that ‘ he loved you, and gave himself for you.’ Gal. ii. 20… Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Hebrews 11,” in Works, 14:152.

4) Christ’s love is the ground of man’s redemption; that stirred all the causes, and set them a-work, that concurred to this end. Other attributes were manifested in the redemption of mankind, as God’s wisdom, power, justice, holiness ; but they are all subservient to love: but love is at the upper end of all causes, subservient to nothing but itself. If you ask a reason of other things, it may be assigned ; but if you ask a reason of his love, that cannot be given but from itself. If the question be, ‘Wherefore did God discover such riches of wisdom, goodness, and power, for the saving poor worthless’ creatures? He loved us: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son.’ Wherefore did Jesus Christ submit to such bitter agonies, such an accursed death? He loved us: Eph. v. 2, ‘ Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour; ‘ Eph. v. 25, ‘ Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; ‘ and Gal. ii. 20, ‘Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ But now put the question, Wherefore did he love us? Love only is the reason of itself; he loved us because he loved us: Deut. vii. 7, 8, ‘The Lord did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people, &c., but because the Lord loved you.’ Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Revelation 1:5,6,” in Works 19:83-84.

5) The love of God.’ Love is ascribed to the Father for the love of God is the cause of all. Consider his giving Christ for us, or giving Christ to us, and us to him. (1.) In giving Christ for us: John iii. 16, ‘ God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten. Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have ever lasting life.’ Christ did not merit electing love, but love rather moved God to give Christ for sinners. Love appointed the Son to be our Bedeemer ; there was the bosom and bottom cause. Thomas Mantin, “Sermon on 2 Corinthians 13:14,” in Works, 19:157.

The love of John 3:16 is a love to poor sinners:

1) The cause of it ; the great love of God, or his mercy to poor sinners: John lii. 16, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ And the great love of the Redeemer, who willingly came to perform this act of bounty, to give his life for his people : Gal. ii. 20, ‘ Who loved us, and gave himself for us.’ There fore that which was set forth and commended to our thoughts is the infinite love of God in Christ. Thomas Manton, “A Sacrament Sermon,” in Works, 15:432.

The love of John 3:16 is a love to mankind:

1) There are many considerations which are proper to our state. Every one of us have cause enough to love God, if we have but hearts to love him, not only as he created us out of nothing, but as he redeemed us by Christ. Cannot I bless God for Christ, without reflection on my own particular benefit; his general love in sending a saviour for mankind? John iii. 16, ‘ God so loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believed in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life’ as they reasoned, Luke vii. 5, ‘ He loved our nation, and hath built us a synagogue; ‘few did enjoy the benefit of it, but it was love to the nation of the Jews. So his philanthropy, his man-kindness, should put that home upon us, that there is a sufficient foundation for the truth of this proposition, that whosoever believeth shall be saved; that Christ is an all-sufficient Saviour, to deliver me from wrath, and to bring me to everlasting life; that such a doctrine is published in our borders, wherein God declareth his pleasure, that he is willing that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim ii:3; that the door is wide enough. if you will get in; and if you have no interest, you may have an interest. We must not think that general grace is no grace. The life of Christianity lieth in the consideration of these things. In the free offers of grace, all have a like favour; and none have cause to murmur, but all to give thanks. ” Thomas Manton, “Sermons upon 2 Corinthians 5,” in Works, 13:155

2) The brazen serpent was a remedy of God s own prescribing out of his great mercy; so is this remedy for lost sinners the mere fruit of God s love : John iii. 16, God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son. The causa prokatarktike, the occasion or outward moving cause, was our misery; the causa proegoumene the inward impulsive cause, was his own love and pity to lapsed mankind. God found out the remedy ; we neither plotted it nor asked it ; he saw the world of mankind was perishing, and involved in eternal ruin, and because there was no intercessor, therefore his own arm wrought out salvation. Herein the antitype differeth from the type. The stung Israelites, having death in their bosoms, go to Moses ; Moses goeth to God, for he saw there could be no help elsewhere; then God said, Make thee a brazen serpent. The motion came from them first, but here it is quite otherwise; God is the offended party, yet he maketh the first motion: 1 John iv. 19, We love him because he loved us first. There God found out the remedy, but here his mere love began the whole business, and did set at work all the causes that did concur to our salvation ; we neither minded our danger nor asked our remedy.Thomas Manton, “Sermon upon John 3:14,15,” Works, 17:458.

3) Our Redeemer being possessed of this lordship and dominion, hath made a new law of grace, which is propounded as a remedy for the recovering and restoring the lapsed world of mankind to the grace and favour of God, by offering and granting free pardon, justification, and adoption, and a right to glory, to those that, coming off from the law, will submit to his terms ; but peremptorily concluding and sentencing them anew to eternal death who will not embrace these terms and this way of salvation which he hath set up. This is the sum of the gospel in many places: Mark xvi. 16, ‘He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned;’ John iii. 16-18, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only be gotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.’ Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Philippians 3,” in Works 20:47.

4) This was the great love of God, that he provided a redeemer and saviour for us, that whosoever would believe on him should be ever lastingly happy: John iii. 16, ‘For God so loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life ;’ 1 John iv. 9, 10, ‘ In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.’ Thus was God’s unspeakable love expressed to mankind, that he provided so costly a remedy for us as his eternal Son to assume our nature, and die for our sins, that he might offer pardon and life to us upon gracious and commodious terms; namely, the thankful acceptance of this blessed saviour to the ends for which God sent him. His sparing us showeth that we are not secluded from all possibility and hopes of recovery ; that we are not in termino, put into our final estate presently upon our sin, as the fallen angels were; this is some comfortable intimation and probable hope to us; but his providing a remedy and ransom for us, the benefit of which shall redound to us as soon as we repent and believe the gospel, this is much more an eminent manifestation of his love. It greatly importeth our comfort and benefit to know God loveth us, and we are poring and prying here and there to find arguments and tokens of his love: oh, that I could know that God loveth me ! But we overlook the signal demonstration and manifestation of it, and so, as it were, seek the sun with a candle, while we look to particular tokens and signs, and do not take notice of this great evidence of God’s love, that Jesus Christ was sent of God to accomplish man’s salvation, to work it into our thoughts. Thomas Manton, ‘Sermon on Matthew 22:14, in Works, 20:355.

The love of John 3:16 is a love to ALL mankind:

1) 1. The word by which the object is expressed is ‘the world which noteth mankind in its corrupt and miserable state: 1 John v. 19, ‘The whole world lies in sin.’ The world is a heap of men who had broken God?s law, forfeited his love and favour; they neither loved nor feared God, but were unthankful and unholy; yet this world God loved…

(2.) No worthiness in us; for when his love moved him to give Christ for us, he had all mankind in his prospect and view, as lying in the polluted mass, or in a state of sin and misery, and then provided a Redeemer for them. God at first made a perfect law, which forbade all sin upon pain of death. Man did break this law, and still we break it day by day in every sin. Now when men lived, and went on in sin and hostility against God, he was pleased then to send his Son to assume our nature, and die for our transgressions. Therefore the giving of a Redeemer was the work of his free mercy. Man loved not God, yea, was an enemy to God, when Christ came to make the atonement: 1 John iv. 10, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;’ Col. i. 21, ‘And you that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.’ We were senseless of our misery, careless of our remedy; so far from deserving, that we desired no such mattter. God?s love was at the beginning, not ours. Thomas Manton, “Sermon 16–John 3:16,” in Works, 2:340, 341-2.

Comments of interest:

1) Because the giving of Christ is a sign and pledge of his great love to us. And what will not love, and great love, do for those whom it loveth? John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.’ He doth not tell you how, but leaveth you to admire and rejoice at so unspeakable and unconceivable love; and 1 John iv. 10, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but God loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.’ The apostle awakeneth our drowsy thoughts.–‘Herein is love,’ here is a full, manifest, real proof of his love; it is commended to us, set before our thoughts, Rom. v. 8. Christ’s love resteth not in good wishes, or the kind affection of his heart, but breaketh forth into action and evidence, and real performance. Nay, it is not only real, but glorious; things may be demonstrated as real which yet are not commended or set forth as great. Sometimes God professeth his love to a people–‘I have loved you;’ but because they were afflicted and miserable, they expostulate with this bold reply, Mal. i. 2, ‘Wherein hast thou loved us? ‘Now here is a full and clear demonstration of it–‘He spared not his own Son.’ Now what may not we promise ourselves from this great love? Hereby we see how much his heart is set upon our salvation ; therefore no fear but he will carry it through. God is in good earnest with you, or he would never have made such provision; in short, he would never have given up Christ to be betrayed and sentenced and crucified, and to die for a sinful world, if he had not been in good earnest in his love. Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Romans 8,” in Works, 12:341.

2) This is a duty that doth most discover the temper of our religion, which is wholly made up of love. It is a God of love that we serve, and they have no acquaintance with him that love not their brethren : 1 John iv. 7, 8, ‘Let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.’ Again, 1 John iv. 16, ‘God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, arid God in him.’ Redemption by Christ, which is the great mystery of the Christian religion, the most conspicuous end was the demonstration of God’s love: John iii. 16, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.’ So 1 John iii. 16, ‘ Hereby perceive we the love of God, that he laid down his life for us.’ What is this mystery of redemption but a wonder of love? It was love stepped in, and recovered us out of that destruction and ruin wherein we had involved ourselves. What was the Son of God but love incarnate, love coming down from heaven to earth, to die for a sinful world? Now why was all this made known unto us? Only to talk of, or comfort ourselves withal? No; that we might imitate it, that the true stamp and impression of our religion may be upon our hearts: Eph. v. 2, ‘ Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us; ‘ 1 John iv. 11, ‘If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’ He that seeth the true face of redemption, and understandeth the gospel and the grace of Christ, will easily be induced to see the reasonableness of such a duty. And what is the work of the Holy Ghost but to shed abroad this love in our hearts? Rom. v. 5; the intent of the ordinances, but to represent this love and seal up this love ? So that we do express the true genius of our religion by love. Manton, “Sermon on 1 John 3,” in Works, 21:95-96.

[Note: I do not believe that Manton considered these diverse statements as contradictory, for it probably was the case that he considered God’s love to believers as they are part of mankind.]

Credit to Werner for finding some of these.


 

1For some of the references, I have opted for short-references, rather than the full name of the sermon piece or work, cited with volume and other bibliographic details.
2I have not included every instance where Manton connects the love of John 3:16 with God’s love to believers.

 

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