A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life in a Year:
The Father’s love is “a love of bounty,” but our love for God is a “love of duty.” The love of the Father is “antecedent love,” always going before ours; our love for the Father is “consequent love,” always our response to Him. Even when God rebukes and disciplines His children, He loves them the same. “What then?” [John Owen (1616-1683)] anticipated the objection, “loves he his people in their sinning? Yes; his people, not their sinning.”
Careful not to present Christ’s love as winning over a reluctant Father’s love, Owen insisted that divine love has its deepest roots in the bosom of the Father. The Father delights to bestow divine love on the elect (Phil. 1:28), Owen said. And Scripture’s references to the love of God most frequently mean the love of the Father. Christ’s words, “The Father himself loveth you” (John 16:27), assure the believer of God the Father’s role in his salvation.
[Brian] Kay writes, “The Father does not first love his people because of Christ’s mediation, rather, Christ’s mediation is the outworking of the Father’s prior love. For Owen, the love of the Father is the impetus for the whole plan of salvation, including his sending of his Son.
(A Puritan Theology, p. 107)