Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 7—John 15:5.

For without me, ye can do nothing.

That men in an unregenerate state are capable of performing natural and civil actions, and such as have the appearance of moral good, will be allowed; but that they are able to do that which is spiritually good, or any good thing in a spiritual manner, must be denied; for even believers themselves are not able to do anything of this kind of themselves, or without Christ, and the Spirit and grace of Christ, as is sufficiently evident from these words. But,

1. It is objected,[1] that "these words of Christ are spoken expressly to those who were abiding in Christ, and truly believed already." Be it so; if such were not able of themselves to do anything that is spiritually good, much less able are they who have no abiding in Christ, or true faith in him.

2. It is said,[2] that these words being spoken to the twelve apostles, "signify, that without the gifts and powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit, who belonged only to them that abode in Christ, they could do nothing to convert the world." I reply, though these words are spoken to the apostles, yet not to them only; for our Lord's words throughout the context are so expressed, as that may be applied to any other persons under a profession of faith; much less are they spoken to them as apostles, but as in union, with Christ, believers in him, professing faith in him, as branches in him the vine, deriving all their grace, life, liveliness, and fruitfulness, from him, by which they performed every spiritual action; all which are far from being peculiar to them as apostles. Moreover, this sense of the words makes Christ to stand for the gifts and assistance of the Spirit; whereas the phrase without me;signifies separate,or apart from him, that is, from his person and grace, and not the gifts and assistance of his Spirit. Besides, it is not true that the Holy Spirit, with respect to his gifts and assistance, qualifying for and succeeding in the work of the ministry, only belonged to them that abode in Christ; since many may, and have had the Spirit in this sense, as Judas, who never had any real being or abiding in Christ.

3. It is observed[3] from Gataker, "that cwri<v ejmou, without me, is the same as cariqe>ntev ajp ejmou~ being separated from me, ye can do nothing; which, if we extend to all true Christians, only signifies, that "without abiding in the faith, they cannot be faithful in the faith; and without their continuing united to Christ by the Spirit, they cannot bring forth the fruits of the Spirit." It is certain, that men without abiding in the faith, can never be faithful in it; and without continuing united to Christ, cannot bring forth the fruits of the Spirit; though all that are truly in the faith shall abide in it, and such as are really united to Christ, shall continue so, and bring forth fruit. But then, if these cannot bring forth fruit without abiding in the faith, and continuing united to Christ, how should such bring forth fruit who never were in the faith, nor in Christ? Gataker's observation, and which is also Piscator's, is a very good one; and the sense of the words it confirms is this; that could the apostles, or any other believers, be supposed to be, or could possibly be separated from Christ, they would not be able to do anything that is truly and spiritually good. And if so, how should such who are cwri<v Cristou, without Christ (Eph. 2:12), as all unregenerate persons are, be capable of doing anything of that nature? It is true, they may be able to attend to the hearing of the word, by which faith comes, may ask, seek, and knock for the good Spirit, may consider of the ways of God, and turn their feet to his testimonies; but unless they are renewed by the Holy Ghost, are created in Christ Jesus, and have faith in him, they will not be able to do these, nor anything else in a spiritual manner. The Remonstrants themselves own,[4] "that man in a sinful state, cannot of himself think, will, or do that which is truly good, and that it is necessary that he should be regenerated, and renewed of God in Christ by his Holy Spirit, in the understanding, affection, and will, and in all his powers, that he may be able rightly to understand, meditate, will, and perform that which is truly good; as it is written, Without me ye can do nothing."


[1] Whitby, p. 279; ed. 2.272.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] In Remonstrantia, p. 9.

Gill Index