George Herbert, Love III. A Discursive Commentary
J. H. Prynne
£12.00, 92pp, April 2011
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'Herbert for his part has put into suspense these "unchangeable rules" because the completeness of God's love for man is offered as a perfect and equitable freedom on both sides: but service once freely entered into is ordered by just these rules of divine equity. The example and model for the alternative, non-conditional sense of then and where it leads, is the unreckoned offering by Love of God's unreserved and unqaulified loving-kindness towards men. There are some traditional interpretative schemes in which God's love is conditional, upon sincere contrition, full repentence, upon justification through faith, and eventual sanctification. But in Herbert's scheme the invitation is unencumbered by reckoning: there are no special premiums or discounts or forward contracts, it is an offer made out of pure love - and, as such, hard for the guest to believe or accept because hard for him to comprehend. Yet it is not an indifferent act, because it is motivated by God's will towards man, that man should return a pure love, if so he wills, as the matching response to God's willed offering.'
(excerpt from the Commentary, p. 69)