The

CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 2—1 Corinthians 5:17.

[with Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10, and 4:24].
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.


The work of grace upon the soul being expressed in these passages by kainh< kti>siv, a new creation,or creature,and a being created in Christ Jesus,manifestly shows, that it is to be ascribed to the efficacious grace of God, and that man is purely passive in it. But it is observed,[1]

1. "That this metaphor affords no certain proof that wheresoever it is used, the person it respecteth must be purely passive, and have done nothing towards the act styled creation, is evident from Isaiah 43:1, and 54:16." To which I reply, that if the metaphor elsewhere used affords no certain proof, that the person it respecteth must be purely passive, and have done nothing towards the act styled creation,yet, if it does in the instances before us, it is sufficient to our purpose; now nothing appears to the contrary. And, indeed, the other passages referred to are far from making it evident, that the metaphor affords no certain proof of the person's passiveness whom it respecteth; not Isaiah 43:1, where God is said to have created Jacob, and formed Israel,which is not to be understood literally of the people of the Jews, when God formed there as a nation, or body politic, or when he constituted them to be his church and people, and they entered into covenant to have him for their God; but of the elect of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, as appears from verse 5-7, 19-21, compared with 1 Peter 2:9, 10, and designs this new creation work of grace upon their souls in effectual vocation; by which God forms them for himself, that they may show forth his praise.Now, though they are active in showing forth the praise of God, yet are entirely passive in being created and formed for that purpose. So in the other instance, in Isaiah 54:16: I have created the waster to destroy.Though the waster is active in destroying, yet he is purely passive in being created, appointed, and raised up to destroy.

2. It is urged,[2] that man is not holy passive in the case before us is "certain, from the nature of faith and godly sorrow, which are men's acts, and not God's, and from God's frequent calls upon the wicked to turn from their transgressions to the Lord."I reply, that when we say that men are passive in the work of grace upon them, we speak not of the exercise of grace, in which, it is allowed, men are active, but of the implantation and production of grace in them. Though men, and not God; believe and repent, yet faith and repentance are the gifts of his grace and the produce of his power. And though they are active in turning to the Lord, yet this is in consequence of their being first turned by him. Besides, God's frequent calls to men to turn themselves, regard not the first work of conversion, but an external reformation of life, as the fruit, effect, and evidence of it.

3. It is further observed,[3] that "God is, in Scripture, said to create that which he brings into a new and better state, as in Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 65:17, 19. To this sense the Scripture plainly leads us, when it saith, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.And all the Greek fathers confirm this exposition, by saying, that this new creation only importeth, me>taijbolh<n ei<v to< krei~tton, a change for the better." Admitting that this is the sense of the word create, in the places cited, and that the sense of the Greek fathers is just, the question before us is not whether this new creation is a change for the better, but, whether this is to be ascribed to the irresistible and efficacious grace of God, in which man is passive, or to the active power of man's free will. But neither the sense of the Greek fathers is just and proper, which seems to imply that man, before this new creation, was in a good state, though this changes him into a better. Whereas this is not an improvement of what he was, or had before, but an infusion of that into him which he had not. Nor does it appear so manifestly to be the sense of the word create, in the places referred to; not in Psalm 51:10, Create in me a clean heart,which strongly expresses the sense David had of his fall, of his own inability to help himself, and of his need of so much of divine power to restore him, as is put forth in an act of creation. And from hence it may be rightly concluded, that if a fallen believer, who has the grace of God in him, is not able to create a clean heart in himself, much less able is an unregenerate sinner. Nor in Isaiah 65:17, where it is said, Behold, I create a new heaven, and a new earth;since it follows, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.Nor in verse 19, Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy;which will be done, not barely by renewing, or bringing into a better state the former individuals, which before constituted Jerusalem, or the church, but by an immediate thorough conversion of multitudes, which shall be added to her; for then the earth shall be made to bring forth in one day,and a nation shall be born at once (Isa. 66:8). Much less in the text before us, seeing it is immediately added, Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.This new creation is not an improvement, or a mending of the old principles of nature, but an infusion of new ones, and so is properly styled a creation.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Whitby, p. 272; ed. 2.266.

[2] Whitby, p. 273; ed. 2.266.

[3] Ibid. p. 273, 274; ed. 2.267.


Gill Index