Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 14—Philippians 2:13.

[with Hebrews 12:21]
For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

From these passages it appears, that the work of grace is the work of God only, which he produces by an irresistible and insuperable power, according to his sovereign will and pleasure; that there is no good thing in us, but what he works in us; and no good thing done by us, but what is owing to his efficacious grace; the will and power to do any thing spiritually good are both from him, for man, in his fallen state, has neither of himself. Now, "that God doth this is not denied: the question is, whether he doth it by a physical operation, unfrustrable by the will of man, or by internal suasion, or inducements to prevail upon us thus to will and do; and that he doth this only in this latter sense is said,[1] to be evident,

"1. From verse 12, where we are commanded to work out our own salvation, in which we cannot be purely passive; nor is it a reason, that God works in us both to will and to do, why we should, but rather why we should not will, or work at all; if both is and will be irresistibly performed without us. We are also bid to do this will fear an trembling; but surely, if God unfrustrably works in us both to will and to do, there can be no possibility of miscarrying, and so no ground for fear and trembling. Besides, the Philippians were exhorted to do this much more in St. Paul's absence than in his presence. The only reason of which is, that he being present, stirred them up by his counsels and exhortations to do what was according to the mind of God, to which they in his absence were immediately excited by the suggestions of the Holy Spirit." To all which I reply, that the salvation the apostle I exhorts the Philippians to work out was not the spiritual and eternal salvation of their souls in general, nor the work of conversion in particular, which was already wrought in them; but the duties of religion, or things which accompany salvation, as has been shown in the former[2] part of this work; in which they might be active, though in the good work of grace upon their souls they had been passive. Nor could any thing be a greater encouragement to them, to be active in the discharge of duty, than this; that God had laid in them principles of action, had wrought in them both to will and to do. The fear and trembling, with which they were to do these things, is not a slavish fear lest the work of grace should miscarry, but a reverence of the Divine Being, and humility of soul, which become believers n the performance of every religious action and as for their obeying, much more in St. Paul's absence than in his presence, this is no part of the exhortation, but is prefaced to it by way of commendation, in order to animate and excite them to it with more diligence and cheerfulness. After all, if God works in us not by an unfrustrable operation, but by an operation frustrable by the will of man, how does he work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure?

2. It is observed[3] that the word ejnergei~ doth not require this sense is evident; "because in Scripture it occurs very often, when it must be understood not of a physical, but only of a moral operation (as in Eph. 2:2; 2 Thess. 2:7,9,11; Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13; Gal. 5:6; Philemon 6; Rom. 7:5)." I answer, that this word always signifies a powerful and efficacious operation, agreeable to the nature of the person or thing which is said to work; so Satan and Antichrist are said to work (Eph. 2:9; 2 Thess. 2:7,9), and that effectually, with all power and lying wonders; so the word of God is powerful, and world effectually in them that believe (Heb. 4:19; 1 Thess. 2:13), when it comes not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost; or when it is clothed with a divine power, though the former of these texts seems rather to be understood of Christ, the essential Word, than of the written word. So faith is said to work by love (Gal. 5:6), and the communication of it, and not charity, to be effectual (Philemon 6), when by the secret power of the Spirit it is influenced, and drawn forth into exercise, and shows itself by love and good works. So the motions of sin, in the hearts of unregenerate men, work powerfully, effectually, and without control, to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom. 7:5). And, where this word is made use of to express any action of God's, it always signifies such an operation as is not to be frustrated, or made void )see Eph. 1:11; 3:20; Phil. 3:21; Col. 1:29), and that it has this signification in the text before us is evident, both from the general sense of the word, and the nature of the work. Add to this, in the King's manuscript[4] the words are read oJ ejnergw~n oJ guna>mei ejn uJmi~n , who worketh by his power in you; therefore, not by moral persuasion, but by the mighty power of his grace.

3. It is said,[5] "that both these places speak of men already believing, and converted; and therefore must be impertinently alleged to prove men must be purely passive in the work of conversion." But admitting this, which will be readily done, the allegation of them is not impertinent; since, if persons already believing and converted, are not able either to will or to do any thing spiritually good of themselves, much less able must unconverted persons be. And if so much is required to work in them both to will and to do, how much more is requisite in the regeneration and conversion of a dead sinner? And if the saints are so passive under the exertions of that power which enables them to act, insomuch that they do not and cannot act until it is put forth, much more must they be passive in the first production of the work of grace upon their souls.


[1] Whitby, p. 9.94.

[2] Sect. 43.

[3] Whitby, p. 295; ed. 2.286, 287.

[4] See Grotius and Hammond, in loc.

[5] Whitby, ibid.; Curcell. p. 410; Limborch, p. 387.

Gill Index