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desire after virtue and external discipline: but, so far from his being able, by this light of nature, to attain to the saving knowledge of God, or to turn himself to him, he does not use it rightly in natural and civil things : nay, indeed, of whatever kind it may be, he contaminates it all in various ways, and holds it in unrighteousness; which when he does he is rendered inexcusable before God. 1
5. The reason (or purport or purpose, ratio) of the decalogue, particularly delivered from God, by Moses, to the Jews, is the same as that of the light of nature ; for, while it exposes the magnitude of sin, and more and more convicts man of guilt, but neither discloses a remedy, nor confers the power of emerging from misery; and so, being rendered weak through the flesh, leaves the transgressor under the curse; man cannot through it obtain saving grace. ?
6. What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law could do, that God performs by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the word, or the ministry of reconciliation ; which is the gospel
Man, by the fall, ' entirely withdrew and alienated himself • from God, (his true life,) his nature being wholly vitiated and • corrupted by his sin; by which it came to pass, that he ren• dered himself obnoxious, as well to corporal, as to spiritual
death. Therefore having become wicked and perverse, and in • all his ways and pursuits (studiis) corrupt, he lost all those excellent gifts, with which he (God) had adorned him; so that only small sparks and slender remains (vestigia) of them are • left to him, which yet suffice to render men inexcusable; be
cause whatever there is in us of light hath been turned into • blind darkness.'' Belgic Confession, Art. xiv. * Rom. ii. 20. v. 20. viii. 3. 2 Cor. iii. 7, 9. Gal. ii. 10, 22.
Rom. i. 18, 20. ii. 1, 12, 16. Eph. iv, 17-19.
concerning the Messiah, by which it hath pleased God to save believers, as well under the Old as under the New Testament.
7. God revealed this mystery of his own will to fewer persons under the Old Testament; but now, the distinction of people being taken away, he manifests it to more. The cause of which dispensation is not to be ascribed to the dignity (or worthiness) of one nation above another, or to the better use of the light of nature; but to the most free good pleasure and gratuitous love of God. Therefore they to whom, beyond and contrary to all merit, such grace is given (fit) ought to acknowledge it with a humble and thankful heart: in respect of the rest to whom this grace is not given, to adore with the apostle the severity and justice of the judgments of God, but by no means to scrutinize them curiously. 2
8. But as many as are invited by the gospel, are invited sincerely (or in earnest, serio). For sincerely and most truly God shews in his word what is pleasing to him; namely, that they who are called should come to him. And he sincerely promises to all who come to him, and believe, the peace of their souls and eternal life. 3
9. That many, who are called by the ministry of the gospel, do not come and are not converted, the fault of this is not in the gospel, nor in Christ offered by the gospel, nor in God inviting by the
Rom. viii. 3. Gal. iii. 22. Heb. iv. 1, 2. xi. 7. • Both in the 'Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind ' by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man.'-- Art. vii. Church of England. · See Rejection of Errors under the first head, No. 9. Matt. xxi. 4-10. John vi. 37-40. Rev. xxi. 6. xxii, 17.
gospel, and conferring various gifts on them ; but in the persons themselves who are invited: some of whom being regardless (or unconcerned, securi) do not admit the word of eternal life; others indeed admit it, (admittunt,) but do not receive (immittunt) it into their heart, so that they turn back after an evanescent joy of temporary
faith ; and others choke the seed of the word with the thorns of the cares and pleasures of the world, and bring forth no fruit: as our Saviour teaches us in the parable of the sower. Matt. xiii.
10. And that others, who are called by the ministry of the gospel, do come and are converted, this is not to be ascribed to man, as if distinguishing himself by free will (libero arbitrio) from others, furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion, (which the proud heresy of Pelagius states,) but to God, who, as he chose his own people in Christ from eternity, so he also effectually calls them in time; gives them repentance and faith; and, having rescued them (erutos) from the power of darkness, translates them into the kingdom of his Son, that they may declare his energies (virtutes) who called them out of darkness into this marvellous light, and glory, not in themselves, but in God. The apostolic scripture every where testifies this. 2
1 Luke vii. 12–15. John iii. 1921. Heb. iii. 12. Gr. iv. 2.
• Whatever things are delivered concerning the free will * (libero arbitrio) of man, these we deservedly reject; seeing he ‘is the slave of sin; and man can do nothing of himself, unless
it hath been given to him from heaven. For who will dare to • boast that he can perform whatsoever things he shall will;
when Christ himself " No one can come mto me, except 'the Father who sent me, shall draw him?” Who will boast his
11. But, when God performs his good pleasure in his elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only provides that the gospel should be outwardly preached to them, and that their mind should be powerfully illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand, and judge what are the things of the Spirit of God; but he also, by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, penetrates into the innermost recesses of man, opens his closed heart, softens his obdurate heart, circumcises his uncircumcised heart, infuses new qualities into his will, makes that which had been dead alive, that which was evil good, that which had been unwilling willing, and from being refractory obedient; and leads and strengthens it, that, as a good tree, it may be able to bring forth the fruit of good works. 1
12. And this is that regeneration, which is so • own will, who hears that “ the affections of the flesh are en• mities against God?” Who will glory of his understanding, • who knows that the animal man is not capable of those things • which are of the Spirit of God? In fine, who will bring forward ' (proferat in medium) any thought of his own, who understands * that “we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as • of ourselves,” but that we are sufficient, this is all of God? • That which the apostle hath said ought to remain certain and “ It is God who worketh in us, both that we may
be • willing, and that we may effect (it) of his own most gratuitous
benevolence." For no mind, no will acquiesces in the will of • God, in which Christ himself hath not first worked; which he · also teacbeth, saying, “ Without me ye are able to do nothing."' Belgic Confession, Art. xiv.
Deut. xxx. 6. Ps. cx. 3. Bible translation. Jer. xxxi. 33. xxxii. 39. Ezek. xi. 19. xxxvi. 25, 26. Zech. xii. 10. Matt. xi. 25, 26. John i. 12. iii. 3-6. vi. 44, 45, 65. Eph. ii. 4,5. Phil. i. 13. Col. i, 13. 1 Thess. ii. 13, 14. Tit. iii. 4 6. 1 Pet. i. 3. ii. 9, 10.
much declared in the scriptures, a new creation, a resurrection from the dead, a giving of life, (vivificatio,) which God without us (that is, without our concurrence) worketh in us. And this is by no means effected by the doctrine alone sounding without, by moral suasion, or by such a mode of working, that, after the operation of God, (as far as he is concerned,) it should remain in the power of man to be regenerated or not regenerated, converted or not converted; but it is manifestly an operation supernatural, at the same time most powerful, and most sweet, wonderful, secret, and ineffable in its power, according to the scripture, (which is inspired by the Author of this operation, not less than, or inferior to, creation, or the resurrection of the dead : so that all those, in whose hearts God works in this admirable manner, are certainly, infallibly, and efficaciously regenerated, and in fact (actu) believe. And thus their will, being now renewed, is not only influenced and moved by God, but being acted on by God, itself acts and moves. Wherefore the man himself, through this grace received, is rightly said to believe and repent. 2
13. Believers cannot in this life fully comprehend the manner of this operation : in the mean time they acquiesce in it; because, by this grace of God, they know and feel that they believe in their heart, and love their Saviour.
14. Thus, therefore, faith is the gift of God; not
'John v. 21, 24, 25. Rom. vi. 4--6. viii. 2. 2 Cor. v. 17, 18. Gal. vi. 15. Eph. i. 19, 20. ii. 6, 10. Col. ii. 12, 13. ii. 1. Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. Acis in. 19.
v. 31. Rom. viii. 13. 2 Tim. ii, 25, 26. 1 Pet. i. 22.