Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: of god's love. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER II.: of god's love. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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of god's love.
God loveth himself first, and most, as the chiefest good, and all other good things, as he communicates with them less, or more, the effects of his own goodness. And from this infinite love of his own infinite goodness is it, that he so severely punisheth some creatures, though the work of his own hands, which he always loveth. For, first, The creature by sin violating God's holiness, and despising his authority in his righteous commandments, and so going on in impenitency, and unbelief; and withal it being impossible, that God's love of his own holiness, and justice, and the honour of the same, and the love of the creature's happiness, so obstinately dishonouring him, should stand together; it cannot be, but that the latter must give way to the former, and greater, and the creature so sinning become miserable, rather than God forgetful of his own honour and glory.
God reveals his glorious Majesty in the highest heavens, his fearful justice in the hell of the damned; his wise and powerful providence is manifest throughout the whole world; but his gracious love and mercy in, and unto his church here upon earth; which he therefore hath chosen, and taken near unto himself, that in it might be seen the riches of his glorious grace. And, albeit, all things in God are infinite, and one; yet are the effects of his love more wonderful, and excellent, than of any other of his attributes; as appears in that, his greatest, and strangest, work of giving his only begotten Son to the cursed death of the cross, for his enemies, out of his love and mercy. This the Scriptures, and worthily, call a “great mystery,” 1 Tim. iii. 16, and which, for the rareness of it, was not only “hidden from the sons of men,” Eph. iii. 10, but also from the very angels in their perfection of created knowledge. Which manifold grace, and wisdom of God they, therefore, “desire to look into, and learn by the church.” 1 Pet. i. 10—12.
Love in the creature ever presupposeth some good, true, or apparent in the thing loved, by which that affection of union is drawn, as the iron by the loadstone: but the love of God on the contrary, causeth all good wrought, or to be wrought in the creature.* He first loveth us in the free purpose of his will, and thence worketh good for, and in us; and then loves us actually for his own good work, for, and in us: and so still more and more, for his own further work. And hence ariseth the unchangeableness of God's love towards us, because it is founded in himself, and in the stableness of the good pleasure of his own will. And although the arguments of comfort be great, which we draw from the certain knowledge of our love to him; yet are those infinitely greater, which are taken from the consideration of his love to us; as being not only the ground of the other, but in him also infinite, and unchangeable. And, hereupon, it was, that the sisters of Lazarus seeking help for their sick brother sent Christ word, not that he, who loved him, though that were not nothing, but that “he whom he loved, was sick.” John xi. 3.
As by the hand of a friend reached unto us we are made partakers of the strength of his whole body, to hold, or help us up; so by the hand of the love of God reached down from heaven, in the Gospel, we become interested in the most comfortable apprehension, and happy use of all other his attributes whatsoever. The more wise, powerful, holy, glorious, eternal, and infinite God is, the more happy are we by means of his love, and mercy in Christ, which moveth him to use, and improve them all for our good, and to communicate them with us, as his friends,† in their effects, so far as serves for our happiness. He, whom God loves though he know it not, is a happy man: he that knows it, knows himself to be happy. Which caused the apostle to make in his own name, and in the names of all the “beloved of God,” Rom. viii. 35—39, that glorious in sultation over all the enemies of his, and their happiness, that they could not separate him, or them, not from the power, or wisdom, or holiness; but not “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” From this “love of God,” as from a spring-head, issueth all good both for grace, and glory. Yea by it, which is more, all evil by all creatures intended, or done against us, is turned to good to us. By it our afflictions work together with our election, redemption, vocation, &c., for our good. By reason of it “the stones of the field are at league with us, and the beasts of the field at peace with us,” Job v. 23: yea even the very sword that killeth us, the fire that burneth us, and the water that drowneth us, is a kind of spiritual, and invisible league with us, to do us good. Upon the knowledge of this “love of God shed abroad into our hearts by the Holy Ghost,” is laid the foundation, and ground-work of whatsoever good thing we return again unto God, with acceptation at his hands. Upon this we do build our faith, and confidence in him, by this our cold and frozen hearts are not only thawed, but inflamed also with love again to him, and to men for him; as the earth being heated by the beams of the sun beating upon it, reflecteth heat again towards the heavens, and upon all the bodies between it, and them. Lastly, from hence arise all the pleasing services, wherewith we present his Majesty. For howsoever we owe ourselves, and whatsoever we are, or can do, unto him, as our gracious, and powerful Creator, and absolute Lord; yet can we do nothing heartily, and as we ought, but from the faith, and feeling of his love in Christ, and by the motion of “the spirit of a sound mind given unto us.” 2 Tim. i. 7. But being once drawn sweetly by the cords of God's goodness, and love, we readily, and pleasingly follow after him; as being debtors, and constrained, not by necessity, but, which binds more strongly, by love.*
The tokens of this “love of God ”in Christ are not only by us highly to be prized, but carefully to be discerned; lest we bring ourselves into a fool's paradise, and grow presumptuously secure; which is the forerunner of sudden, and certain destruction. We must therefore in this scrutiny neither trust ourselves, nor any other creature, but God alone in the testimony of his Word, and the Spirit, which “knows, and makes known the mind of God,” 1 Cor. ii. 10—12; and by which we may unerringly learn; first, what the tokens of his love are; and secondly, who they are which partake of them; and thirdly, that we ourselves are of that blessed number. Now, amongst them all, there is none so certain, and infallible, though those of feeling be more joyful, as the gracious work of true repentance in the “mortifying of the old man in his sinful affections,” Rom. viii. 13; and in “the quickening power of Christ's Spirit,” Gal. v. 25, to willing, though weak, “obedience to all God's commandments.” Psa. cxix. 6. As we may certainly know, that the sun shines, by the beams, and heat thereof below, though we climb not into heaven to see, so may we have certain knowledge of God's gracious love towards us, without searching further than our own hearts, and ways, and by finding them truly, and effectually turned from sin to God.
As God may so far hate some evil in a person, for example, the adultery of David, and other sins accompanying it, as to punish the same severely in this world, and yet not hate the person himself; so may he, on the other side, love some good in a man, so far, as to reward it highly in this life, and nevertheless, not love, but hate, the person in whom it is found; as may be seen in the zeal of Jehu for the Lord, 2 Kings ix. 10, against wicked Ahab, and his house. And if our narrow, and partial hearts can, upon occasion, hold and preserve this difference between persons, and things; how much more may, and doth the same right well stand, with the distribution of rewards, and punishments made by the most holy, and wise God ? As then, when the Lord manifests some signs of his anger at us, and hatred against the evils in us, we must take heed we conclude not presently, that therefore we in our persons are hated of him, and castaways, except the evils reign in us without repentance; so must we, on the other side, take more care, considering how by self-love we are commonly in more danger thereof, that we conclude not of the love of God towards our persons, from every effect of some kind of love, and liking of some particular good things in us; and not except those good things be such, as make us good also, as faith and holiness do, transforming us, as it were, into their nature, and kind: as in the parable of the wheat, and tares, the good seed, Matt, xiii., is expounded, the children of the kingdom because they grow of the good seed of the Gospel; and by their regeneration, us it were, turn very word and spirit.