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Chapter 4 Introduction

Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Dr. Whitby[1] affirms, “that the fathers generally teach, that God doth only persuade, and by his Spirit assist, those
that are willing to be good; but leaves them still to neglect and resist his persuasions, not laying them under a necessity
to be good; because that would destroy the virtue and reward of being so.” In proof of which he produces but two or
three testimonies, which will be hereafter considered. And in another place he says,[2] “As for the antiquity of
irresistibleness of grace, he (Dr. Edwards) hath only one, St. Austin, to produce, against a hundred testimonies of the
fathers cited by Vossius, to prove that God laid no necessity upon man’s will to act; as he must do, ifhe acts
irresistibly upon it, that being necessary which cannot be otherwise.” All which pains might have been spared, for
none say, that God lays any necessity of coaction or force upon the wills of men; but that by the power of his grace he
moves upon them, and influences them to that which is good according to their nature. Besides, Vossius, after he had
made the citations referred to, and which regard the article of free will already considered, observes,[3] that three
writers were far from Pelagianism; and that, according to them, the will remained free, and all things are ascribed to
grace; which he undertakes more fully to explain; and among the rest, says, “Every good work, as such, is positively
from the Holy Spirit, because whatsoever hath a being, as good and supernatural, that it has from grace. From the free
will indeed it is only privately, as it does not resist graces when it could resist; that it can resist, it has of itself; that it
can will to resist, it has from grace. And elsewhere he says,[4] “I would not have it so taken, as if nothing, could be
produced from them (the fathers) which may seem to intimate, that grace is bestowed from an absolute will to
convert;” and then mentions a passage from Basil, cited by Petrus Diaconus, and others; “Thou canst do all things, and
there is none can contradict thee; for when thou wilt thou savest, and none resists thy will.” And adds, “Also
memorable is that of Ambrose, God calls whom he pleases, and whom he will he makes religious.” In the following
Sections I shall make it appear, that it was the sentiment of the ancient writers, that regeneration, conversion,
sanctification, faith etc., are wrought in the soul through the energy of the Spirit of God, and the powerful and
insuperable efficacy of divine grace, and are not the fruits and effects of mere moral suasion.


[1] Discourse, etc. p. 296; ed. 2. 259, 260.

[2] Postscript, p. 565; ed. 2. 542.

[3] Hist. Pelag. 1. 7, par. 2. p. 717, 718.

[4] Ibid. 1. 6, Thes. 10, p. 553, 554.[11/2/2010 10:37:41 AM]