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Nathanael Hardy (1618-1670) on General Love

January 30, 2009

Hardy:

1)
1. That God did inflict death on Christ is undeniable, and who may question the justice of his actions, whenas things are therefore just, because he wills them to be done, whose will is the supreme rule of justice!

2. There cannot be a more necessitating reason of God’s afflicting Christ by death than this; so that if it be not just for God to inflict it upon him on this ground, it is much less upon any other. That Christ should die for the confirmation of his doctrine was needless; it was done sufficiently by miracles. To make way by death to his glory was not necessary; he might have been translated, as were Enoch and Elijah. To die only as an example of patience and fortitude to his followers, is a far less cogent cause than to die as an example of God’s justice and severity against sin; nor need he have died for that end, since the death of any of his apostles might have been exemplary in that kind. Finally, had he died only for the declaration of God’s immense love to us, and not for the demonstration of his severe justice against sin, whilst he had been so loving to us, he had been little other than cruel to Christ . There wanted not other ways to declare his tender affection to mankind, but there was no other way to declare his impartial justice against sin; so that, since the inflicting of death on Christ as a punishment carrieth with it a more urging inducement than any other cause assigned, and since the less cause there is of inflicting death upon any, the greater must needs be the injustice in the inflicter; it evidently followeth that there is nothing can so much clear the justice of God in this act, as (that which the orthodox asserts to be the cause of it) his undergoing the penalty due to our sins.  Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 113.  [Underlining mine.]

2) Suitably hereunto it is that divines conceive a double covenant to be intimated in Scripture—the one universal and conditional, the other special and absolute; the one made with all, and every man, upon these terms, ‘Whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish,’ John iii. 16; the other made with Christ concerning a seed which he should see upon making his soul an offering for sin, Isa. liii. 10, to whom he promiseth not only salvation by Christ upon condition of believing, but the writing his law in their hearts, Heb. x. 16, whereby they are enabled to perform the condition, and so infallibly partake of that salvation. By all which, it appeareth that notwithstanding God’s special affection, and decree of election whereby he hath purposed this propitiation shall be actually conferred upon some, we may truly assert, God hath a general love whereby he hath ordained the death of Christ an universal remedy applicable to every man as a propitiation for his sins, if he believe and repent. And hence it is that this propitiation, as it is applicable, so it is annunciable to every man. Indeed, as God hath not intended it should be actually applied, so neither that it should be so much as actually revealed to many men; but yet it is, as applicable, so annunciable, both by virtue of the general covenant God hath made with all, and that general mandate he hath given to his ministers of preaching the gospel to all, so that if any minister could go through all the parts of the world, and in those parts singly, from man to man, he might not only with a conjectural hope, but with a certain faith, say to him, God hath so loved thee that he gave his only son, that if thou believe in him, thou shalt not perish; and that this is not barely founded upon the innate sufficiency of Christ’s death, but the ordination of God, appeareth in that we cannot, may not, say so to any of the fallen angels, for whom yet, as you have already heard, Christ’s death is instrinsically sufficient.

And now what should the meditation of this truth afford us, but matter of

1. Admiration at the riches of divine love to all mankind, and which rendereth it so much the more wonderful that while it is conferred on the whole world of men, it is denied to angels. That God should cause his wrath to smoke against those spiritual and noble creatures, the angels, and appoint a propitiation, a ransom for such crawling worms, sinful dust and ashes, as men are, is it not to be admired at? St Ambrose, speaking of these words [Ambros. in Ps. cxviii.], ‘The whole earth is full of thy mercy,’ puts the question. Why is it not said the heaven as well as the earth? and returneth this answer, Because there are indeed spiritual wickednesses in high places, sed non illae ad commune jus indulgentia Dei remissionemque pertinent peccatorum‘, but the remission of God and propitiation of Christ belongs not to them. Well may we in this consideration take up those words of the psalmist, Psal. viii. 3, quoted by the author to the Hebrews upon this very occasion : Heb. ii. 6, ‘Lord, what is man that thou art so mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?’   Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 141  [Underlining mine, footnotes cited inline.]

3) And now, according to this interpretation, here are two positions to be insisted on. The one whereof is the minor, the other the major in the syllogism; the one tacitly intimated, and the other positively expressed.

1. That which is here implied is, that where there is a knowledge there is also the love of God and Christ. The love of God may admit of a double reference, either Charitas qua amat or qua amatur, actively, the love whereby God doth love; or passively, the love whereby he is beloved. Illyricus understandeth the fonner, [lllyr. in loc.], and no doubt it is a truth that God’s love is fixed on him who keepeth his word. ‘ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,’ saith Christ, ‘my Father will love him,’ John xiv. 21. Yea, whereas God vouchsafeth a general love to all men, he hath a more special favour to obedient persons. But if we thus understand the love of God in this place, the phrase of perfected will sound very harsh ; since there is nothing in God, but it is absolutely and infinitely perfect; and therefore I reject it.   Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 151.  [Underlining mine, footnotes cited inline.]

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