God’s Electing Love Eternal in its Foundation

The love of God to His saints is not only from eternity in its being, but in its foundation; i.e. the love of God to His saints has not its foundation in anything temporal.

There are some that will allow that the love of God to the saints in its being is from eternity, but not in its foundation; but hold that it has its foundation in God’s foresight of that which is temporal, as particularly in the foresight of their holiness and good works. They suppose that the saints’ faith, and repentance, and obedience is the foundation of God’s love to them, and that God loves the saints from eternity no otherwise than as he foresees that they will in time believe, and repent, and live holy lives. So that though they allow the love itself in its being to be eternal, yet assert that ’tis the foresight of something temporal that is the foundation of it. But the love of God to His saints has not its foundation in anything temporal.

The ground of the love is eternal as the love itself.

He doesn’t love them from eternity, because he foresees that they will believe, and repent, and the like. The ground of His eternal love is not to be sought for in the saints, but in God’s own heart; that God loves the saints is from Himself, and not from them. His love is a free and sovereign love, and is from His own sovereign good pleasure, as we are taught. “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: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children [by Jesus Christ] to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4–5). The love of God towards His people is self-moved. “The Lord did not set His love  upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7–8).

The faith and holiness of the saints is so far from being the foundation of the eternal love of God that ’tis the fruit of it.

God has loved them from all eternity, and that is the reason that he has given them faith and holiness, and has brought them home to Himself truly to believe in, and love, and fear, and serve God; as in the verse of the text, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

—Jonathan Edwards
“The Everlasting Love of God,” Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738, 478–479.


The Giant and the Straw

“A giant striking with a straw cannot put forth his strength with it. So in blessing, no creature nor ordinance can convey all the goodness of God to us.” —Thomas Manton

The best preacher is no better than a straw, in and of himself. God shows his omnipotence by accomplishing anything with such poor tools as we are. Were he not Almighty the infirmities of his servants would cause him to fail in every design in which he employs them. As it is, the fact of our unfitness should greatly enhance our sense of his glory. This feebleness on the part of the fittest instrument makes it imperative that the Lord’s own Spirit should work in men’s hearts over and above his working through the means. New hearts cannot be created by mere human voices: these are more qualified to call beasts to their fodder than dead souls out of their spiritual graves. The Holy Ghost must himself breathe life and infuse strength into men; for his ministers are little better than the staff of Elijah, which was laid upon the dead child, but neither hearing nor answering resulted from it.

The figure of a giant using a straw as a cudgel is not, however, perfect unless we picture him as able to strengthen the straw, till he strikes with it as with a hammer and dashes rocks in pieces; for even thus the Lord doth by his feeble servants. Hath he not said,

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel?” (Isaiah 41:14-16)

O thou Almighty One, continue to display thine omnipotence by using me, even me, the least and feeblest of all thine instruments.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).


Salvation of the Lord

And if God does require of the sinner—dead in sin—that he should take the first step, then he requireth just that which renders salvation as impossible under the gospel as ever it was under the law, seeing man is as unable to believe as he is to obey, and is just as much without power to come to Christ as he is without power to go to heaven without Christ. …

I would cease to preach, if I believed that God, in the matter of salvation, required anything whatever of man which he himself had not also engaged to furnish … those who hated Christ will desire to love him; those who once loved sin will, by God’s divine Spirit, be made to hate it; and here is my confidence, that what they cannot do, in that they are weak through the flesh, God sending his Spirit into their hearts will do for them, and in them, and so they shall be saved.

Well then, says one, that will make people sit still and fold their arms. Sir, it will not. But if men did so I could not help it; my business … is not to prove to you the reasonableness of any truth, nor to defend any truth from its consequences; all I do here … is just to assert the truth, because it is in the Bible; then, if you do not like it, you must settle the quarrel with my Master, and if you think it unreasonable, you must quarrel with the Bible. … I am the messenger; I tell the Master’s message; if you do not like the message, quarrel with the Bible, not with me; so long as I have Scripture on my side I will dare and defy you to do anything against me.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

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