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Jerome Zanchi (1516–1590) on the Love of God: General and Special

September 29, 2009

Zanchi:

Chap. 4.

Of the Love of God.

That true and perfect love is in God, and is properly attributed unto him. That God loves not only himself, but also every thing that he has made: although he loves not all things with an equal love. For he loves the better things better then those things that are less good: the godly then the ungodly. Further, that the love of God is free, infinite, constant, and everlasting.

The love of God cannot be separated from his grace: seeing that grace being taken in that other signification, whereof we have spoken much before, is no other thing then free love, which is also the root and fountain of all clemency, mercy, and of all good things towards us. From from whence is salvation of the world? Christ plainly teaches, saying, John. 3, that “God so loved the world that,” (that is, he not only sustains and governs it wisely, enriches it with good things, giving it rain from heaven and fruitful times, filling men’s hearts with meat and gladness, yea and bearing an incredible patience, their daily and grievous injuries, thus by his divine goodness expecting and leading them to repentance, but also), “he gave his only begotten son, that all which believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And it is certain that there is nothing in Scripture found more often, then that God loves. What? his Son, his church, the elect, all men, the world, and to conclude, all things that are: so as nothing wants [lacks] God’s love toward it. We have therefore worthily taken in hand to expound this attribute of God concerning his love, next unto that of the Grace of God, seeing it so so necessary to be known, for the true understanding of the Scriptures. But in this love of God we are handle and expound five questions. First whether that love properly agree to God: Secondly what things God loves, whether besides himself, all other things also, or but only some things and not all: thirdly, he if love all things, whether he love them all with an equal love or no: fourthly, whether he always love the better things more, than those that are less good: fifthly, what manner of love God bears towards his elect. Lastly we will say something concerning the use of this doctrine…

The Second Question

What God loves besides himself.

The proposition.

God loves all things which he has made besides himself.

I said not all things simply, but those things which he made, so is sin excepted, for that is not of God, 1 Joh. 2, therefore we read in the Scriptures every where, that the Lord hates iniquity; so far is he from loving it. Further, it is manifest that God God loves himself before all things, and that the Father loves the Son, and the Son the Father, and so the Holy Ghost in like manner, both by that which has been said before of the unity of the divine essence, in three persons as of the will of God: as also out of these testimonies of Scripture: Solomon says in the 16th Prov, “God has made all things for himself” [Prov. 16:3.]. God therefore has loved and loves himself as the end of all things: then are testimonies everywhere where of the love of the Father to the Son, Math. 3, “This is my well-beloved Son,” John 3, “the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hands.” Joh. 5, “the Father loves the Son, and therefore the the father loves me,” says Christ. And also John 10:15,17, chapters, “as the Father loves me, so love I you, as thou loves me before the foundation of the world.” Although these places are epecially to be understood of the love of the Father to the Son, as he is the man Christ, and not only as he is Christ the Word: yet it concerns us greatly to know, what great love the Father bears towards his Son, whom he gave unto us, clothed with our flesh, and him unto death for our salvation. For hence we understand how great the love of the Father is toward us, which would have his only Son, his beloved son to take our flesh, to become our brother, and at length be crucified for our salvation. This fruit Christ himself expounds, Joh. 3, “God so loved the world the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” And as the Apostle, Rom. 5:10, “God commends his love to us, for that when we were enemies Christ died for us.” And here is most plainly proved unto us, that whatsoever this son so beloved has craved of the Father for us, he as also obtained it for us: for how should the Father not hear such a beloved Son? and hence is that saying of Christ: “But I know that thou hears me always,” [John 17.]. Besides out of this doctrine of the Love of the Father towards his Son, we learn that whatsoever his Son suffered in the flesh for us, it is most effectual with the Father, and therefore that we are truly redeemed: and if he have given such a beloved Son unto the death for us, he will also give us all things with him. Rom. 8. Lastly, out of this exceeding great love of the Father, then for us to honor this Son: to preach him to be the Son of God and God himself; to believe, and to put put our whole confidence in him; and lastly to embrace and keep his doctrine. Christ says, Joh. 14, “if any man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him.” Now concerning the love of the Son unto the Father, there are innumerable testimonies of the Scripture, but it shall be sufficient to recite one. Christ says, Joh. 14, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father has given me commandment, even so do I, arise, let us go hence.” For the observing and keeping of the Father’s commandments is a most plain testimony of the Son’s love towards the Father. But Christ became obedience unto the Father even unto death.  Christ therefore has so by his obedience declared his love unto his Father, that there need no more testimonies nor arguments. But was he not made subject to the law as he was man? and did he not most perfectly fulfill the law? he did therefore  and does love God the Father with all his heart (as the law commands), with all his soul, and with all his strength. Further, it is manifest, that all things that are without God and made by him, are beloved of God, both by testimonies of Scripture, and by firm reasons. Wisd. “Thou loves all things that are, and hates nothing that thou made,” [Wisd. 11]. But what is it, to say that God loves any thing? it is to wish and do well unto the same. But God has both willed and done good to all things that he has made: for for any thing to be is good, add farther hereunto, the divers and excellent qualities wherewith every thing is endued and adorned. What a great goodness is this? and therefore Moses says, Gen. 1. all things which God made were very good.  Therefore, as we love things because they are good, so all good things of their own nature, for that God loved and does love them. For God infuses goodness into things, by loving it, and this is truly to love: as we do contrarily love things because they are good: and we are said to love them, when we desire to have them, keep the good they have and wish them further that good they want [lack]. Thus appears the love of God to be more excellent then ours, because it is more effectual, and the cause of goodness in everything. It is manifest therefore that all things are beloved of God; for whatsoever he makes, he makes it good, how then could be but love it before he made it? He sustains those things which he has made, how can he then but love those things which he has made? by this means, there is no man nor devil, which can say, “God loves him not.” For God always did and does good to all.

Object.

But the Scripture says, that God hated the wicked, “thou has hated all those that work iniquity.”

Answ.

How therefore can the same thing be loved and hated? Answ. 2. Things are to be considered in a wicked man, nature, and iniquity. Nature is made by God, but iniquity is not, but belongs to the wicked. And we said in the proposition, “that God loves all things that are made by him.” Therefore these two are not repugnant; that God loves a wicked man as his own work and creature, and hates him as he is evil and works wickedness. For God does not properly hate a wicked man, but wickedness in him: according to that, “Thou has loved righteousness and hated iniquity.”

Object.

But he has subjected every creature under vanity, how then does God love every creature?

Answ.

The Apostle adds: It is made subject unto vanity through the hope of a better condition. For the very creatures shall be recovered from the bondage of corruption, unto the liberty of the glory of the Sons of God. For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. Therefore, whereas God has subjected them unto vanity for our sins, it follows not therefore that God hates them: nay it is an argument of greater love, namely that he has not simply subjected them unto vanity, but in hope of a better condition.  When a goldsmith casts gold into the fire to purge it and make it clearer, it is an argument rather that he loves it, then he hates it. Did not the Father also submit his Son unto death of the cross? will you say that that is an argument that the Father loves not the Son? nothing less. For he submitted him under the hope of the resurrection. But love puts him that loves out of himself, transforming him after a sort into the thing loved.

Object.

But it is absurd to say, that God transferred out of himself into his creatures.

Answ.

Love transferred not him that loves into the thing loved really and properly, but through a careful affection in providing for it as for himself. For this is to will well to. And after this manner it is not absurd to say, that God is after a sort carried out of himself into his creatures, in that he is present with them by his providence. Nay he is in all things by his essence, therefore, when he is in his creatures, he is never out of himself. Wherefore, God truly loves all things that are, and hates nothing that he has made. And this doctrine is profitable unto us. For from hence we learn, that we are not to abuse any creature whatsoever, because that every creature is loved of God: and therefore it is not acceptable unto God, that we abuse any creature unto our lusts. And it is certain that from hence follows the abuse of things created; in that we consider not that they are the creatures of God, and they are beloved of God.

The third Question.

Whether that seeing God loves all things that without himself, he loved all alike with equal love?

The proposition.

Although God love everything which he has made, yet he loves not all things equally alike.

It is manifest in the Scriptures, that God loves mankind better than all the rest that he has made: only the humanity of Christ excepted. This appears first by the name philanthropia (which is as much as a lover of man), wherewith God would be adorned. For though he love all things, and even the angels with a singular love, so as that he would have them to be his ministers and ambassadors, yet he would never be called either philanggelo (a lover of angels), or a philokises (a lover of his creature), but philanthropo, as in third of Titus: “But when the goodness, and philanthropia of our Saviour Christ did appear”: which is as much to say as love to mankind. This appears most manifestly by the effects. For whom he has made after his own image? Gen. 1, whom has he set over his creatures? only man. This testimony of his divine love David sets out, crying out with an admiration, Psal. 8, “What is man that thou remembers him? or the Son of man that thou visits him: thou hast made made him a little lower then God, and crowned him with glory and worship,” &c. But what an argument is that of the divine love, that even after sin, when we had all deserved to be thrown into hell, yet he promises salvation and remission of sins, granting us the use of all things, and providing continually for our necessities? neither is this only to be understood of the Church gathered unto God, but even of all nations. God has not left himself void of testimonies (says the Apostle, Acts 17.), “in doing us good: giving us rain from heaven above, fruitful seasons, and filling our hearts with food and gladness.” The Apostle speaks there of all men. But this is a far greater argument of his love, in that he would have his only begotten Son, being true God, to take upon him human flesh, and become true man, and so in his Son to exalt human nature above all creatures, heavens and angels. What a great love was this? therefore the Apostle expounding this dignity says, Hebr. 2, “for he took not upon him the nature of Angels, but of the seed of abraham.” But what does such a death include as the Son of God would undergo for the salvation of mankind, and that by the commandment of his Father? truly an unspeakable love of God towards us. “So God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” Joh. 3, and the Apostle, Rom. 5, “God sets out his love towards us, in that when as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us,” and again, Rom. 8, “ If God be with us, who can be against us? who spared not his own Son: who shall separate us from the love of God,” and another Apostle, 1 John 4, “In this appeared the love of God towards us, in that he sent his Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins.” But this suffices not, but he vouchsafed unto whole mankind the dispensation of this redemption, when he sent the Apostle to preach the gospel “to every creature”: Matth. 28, Mark. 16, to the end that all believers might be made partakers indeed of salvation. But if any see not how great and singular love of God is towards mankind, and how much God has preferred mankind above all other creatures, the same man sees nothing. But even amongst men also, whom God vouchsafes so great love, the same love appears most bright towards the elect: for these has he chosen out of the whole rest of mankind, upon whom he might largely bestow all his benefits of love. These he says, that he has embraced with a particular love, and prefers before the rest; so as in comparison of these, he says, he hates the rest. Rom. 9, “I have loved Jacob, and I have hated Esau”: these he calls effectually by the Spirit of God in their hearts, whereas he only merits the rest with the outward preaching of the gospel. These he endured with true faith and unfeigned repentance; whereas he only calls others unto faith and repentance: these he justifies, regenerates, sanctifies freely; whereas justification, regeneration, sanctification are but only offered to the rest. Wherefore he has embraced the elect with a far other love, then he rest of men. But yet even amongst the elect themselves, some are wicked in act and not yet reconciled, as Paul before his conversion and divers others, are reconciled and now made just, good, and holy, as the Apostle after his conversion. These the Lord witnesses that he embraces them with a greater love then the others: saying, Prov. 8, “I love them that love me,” so in the 20th of Exodus, “I will show mercy to them which love me and keep my commandments.” And David, Psal. 144, “The Lord loves the just, but rejects the way of sinners.” But how many elect, are not yet called just, but are ungodly sinners? He loves not therefore equally the elect that are just, and the elect that are unjust: but this will easily be understood, if we call to memory what it is to love: it is to wish well and do well to some body. Are you not then said to love him more, to whom you not only wills well, but also do benefit indeed, then to whom you wills well, and means to benefit, but does it not yet indeed. But to the elect not yet justified God only wills well concerning eternal life: but does good indeed to them that are justified, while he makes them just and holy and fit for the enjoying of eternal life. Also as we love those the rather which we know to be liker unto us, for that likeness is a cause of love: so God is said to embrace them with a greater love, which he makes more like unto himself. For “ever like loves his like”: as therefore God first loves us because we are his creatures; then he bears a greater love unto us, then to other creatures, because we are men: and thus also he loves more the other men, because we are elect from amongst other men in Christ: so he is said to love us with a greater love being justified, then when we were yet unjust. The reason is, for that being made just by him we draw nearer to his image and likeness. Yea and in heaven also, whereas we shall be most like him, we shall feel the love of God yet greater towards us. That is therefore manifest which we said in the proposition, that although God love all things yet that al things are not equally beloved of him hither tends that which Augustine says: “God loves all things which he has made, and amongst them he loves rather the reasonable creatures more: and amongst them he loves those more which are members; and much more that his only begotten one.”

Object.

If you object, that we read, Wisd. 6,  God cares for all things alike. And the providence of God is out of that love, wherewith he loves thigns.

Answ. For that, to more or less two ways.

1. Out of part of the very act of the will, as it is more or less intent thereunto. As an adulterer, and a whoremonger, is said to love a harlot more then children, for that the affection of his filthy love is more vehement. This way God loves not one more than another, for he loves all things, with one simple act of the will.

2. In respect of that good which we ill unto another. So we are said to love one man rather than another, whereas we wish him more good then another, although not with a more intent will, or more vehement affection. After this manner it cannot be denied but that God loves some more than other. For seeing that the love of God is the cause of goodness in the things themselves, one thing were not better then another, if God would not more good unto one thing then to another. Therefore to the place in Wisdom, 6, the answer is easy. God has equally a care of all things, namely in respect of the action, because he provides for all, of his own equal wisdom and goodness, and is wanting to man; but not in respect of the effects, as if he did both will good and bestow it alike equally to all. In some God is said there to love more or less, where his benefits appear to be more; and therefore to love more, because he communicates more good: therefore the more of God’s benefits feels in himself, the more let him acknowledge himself to be loved of God, then many are which want [lack] these benefits…

The fifth Question.

What manner of love God’s is, toward us his elect.

The Proposition.

The Love of God towards us is free, exceeding great, and constant, or everlasting.

It is free two ways: first. because God was not moved to love us by any other means then by his own goodness and grace; and that the love of God towards us, is free after this manner, all those places teach, by which is concluded that the whole predestination is free, not by foreseen works, or of the foreseen good use of freewill, but of free grace. For predestination was of love. Likewise those places, where we read, that God’s love towards us, was before ours, as that, 1 Joh. 4, “He loved us first.” Also those which teach that we are saved not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of the mercy of God. Secondly it is free for that he respected not anything that pertained to his own commodity in loving us: for “he needed not our goods.” That this love is exceeding great, and most secret appears by the death of his Son, by which we are saved: according to that, “So God loved the world,” Joh. That word, so, shows how wonderful vehemently he loved us, as that he spared not his only Son for our salvation, but delivered him to the ignominious death of the cross for us. What greater love can be found? the same appears out of the will of Christ towards us. He had rather die then have us death. How great love was this for he gave neither gold nor silver for our redemption, but himself, his life, and whatsoever he had. This same signification of his love towards us he himself expounds, saying, “Greater love then this can no man give, then that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Joh. 15. But he died for his enemies, that is, for them of whom he had received innumerable indignities and injuries. The circumstance the Apostle expounds, saying, “One will scarce die for a just man,” Rom. 5, “But God commends his love unto us, in that Christ then died for us when were were sinners and his enemies.” That this love is perpetual the prophet teaches, Jerem. 31, “I will not do according to the wrath of my fury, for I am God and not man:” that is, because I am constant in love, and not as men which change their love sometimes to hatred. And of Christ we read, “When he loved his own, to the end he loved them,” and to the Rom. “God’s gifts and calling are without repentance,” and Malac. “I the Lord do not change.” For as he is unchangeable in his essence, so is he in his love and promises.

[Girolamo Zanchi] Live Everlasting: Or The True Knowledge of One Iehova, Three Elohim and Jesus Immanuel: Collected Out of the Best Modern Divines, and compiled into one volume by Robert Hill, ([Cambridge:] Printed by Iohn Legat, printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge. And are to be sold [in London] at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Church-yard by Simon Waterson), 356-357, 361-366, and 370-371. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; inserted bracketed material mine; side-headers included; repeated Scripture side-header references not included; and underlining mine.]

[Notes: Worldcat and Wing identify this as as: “Largely a translation and abridgement of Zanchi, Girolamo. De natura Dei. Zanchi is identified in the side-note on page 655—STC…” I have inserted Zanchi’s name in the title as a reflection that because: 1) as noted, this is largely a translation of Zanchi’s work; 2) because it quite probably does reflect Zanchi’s theology; 3) because Wing attributes the authorship to Zanchi, and Hill as the translator; and 4) from the opening “Epistle Dedicatory” (3rd page) Hill identifies a work by Zanchi as the principal text upon which this work is based. Lastly, I actually suspect this is a much more reliable translation than Toplady’s briefer translation from the same work.]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    September 30, 2009 6:54 am

    Updated the Zanchi file on the Love of God. Included now is the final relevant section of interest to us, pages 370-371, the fifth question. Not included in this section is his discussion of “Use of this doctrine.”

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