Part 2
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious Grace

Section 16—Ephesians 2:8, 9.

[with 1 Corinthians 1:29]
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.

The arguments in favor of the efficacious grace of God in conversion, from these passages of scripture, are as follow,

1st. faith, through which men are saved, and which is so considerable apart of the work of grace that the whole is denominated from it; the work of faith is not of ourselves,it does not spring from nature, nor is it produced in us by our own power, but is entirely the gift of God's grace, which he implants in us, enables us to exercise, supports and increases, and perfects, or fulfills with power. To which is excepted, that "Faith is not here called the gift of God,[1] but salvation by grace through faith." I reply, admitting that the apostle does not so immediately refer to faith in particular, but to salvation in general, as the gift of God; yet, since this salvation is wholly of grace, and not of works, is through faith, not as a work, having any casual influence, but as a mean of God's appointing, it cannot stand excluded from being a gift of God; nor is this the only place in which it is so called (see John 6:65, Phil. 1:29).

2ndly If salvation is wholly of grace, and not of works, then conversion, which is a considerable branch of salvation, is also of grace, and not of works; and consequently there is no room for boasting; whereas, If conversion were the work of man's power and free will, and not the work of God's powerful and efficacious grace, he would have whereof to boast. In answer to which,

1. It is said,[2] that the phrase, Ye are saved by grace,"cannot mean that they are actually saved, but only that they were called to a state of salvation, enjoyed the means, and were put into the way of salvation by grace." But, why not actually saved? Since salvation was not only in God's purpose appointed for them, and was actually wrought out and obtained for them by Christ, but was also brought home, and really applied to their souls by the Spirit of God; so that they were now saved according to the mercy of God, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5). Besides, if all such may be said to be saved by grace,who are externally called, or enjoy the means, the gospel of the grace of God; then unbelievers, as well as believers, such who put away the word of God from them, as well as they that receive it, such to whom it is the savor of death, as well as those to whom it is the savor of life, may be said to be saved by grace.

2. It is affirmed,[3] that "though actual salvation depends upon good works, or sincere obedience, and though faith is the condition of justification, and good works of salvation, yet is all boasting utterly excluded; because the revelation, which contains the matters and motives of faith, and the miracles which engage to it, is the free gift of God; and because the good works we do, proceed not from ourselves, but are the fruits of faith, and performed in the strength of God. It is of his preventing and exciting grace that we will, and of his assisting grace that we are enabled to perform that will: and it is still of grace that any of these things, which deserve nothing from God, find acceptance with him." I am very glad to observe, that all these things, last-mentioned, are earned to arise from the grace of God; which is far from agreeing with the scheme our author contends for throughout this performance of his, and contradicts the notion of salvation depending on good works; which notion is against the express letter of the text before us, as well as thwarts many other passages of Scripture (see Rom. 3:20,28; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). Moreover, if actual salvation depends on good works, man has something to boast of; boasting is not excluded by the law,or doctrine of works, that is, by the doctrine of salvation by works; if Abraham,or any other man, were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory (Rom. 3:27; 4:2).

3. It is observed,[4] "that the Scripture plainly grants that there is kau>chma, or matter or glorying, in things done by the assistance of the grace of God (as in 1 Cor. 9:15; 2 Cor. 11:10; 1:12; Gal. 6:4)." I reply, that the words kau>chma, and kaucaomai, are used by the apostle Paul,[5] and do not signify an ascribing anything to one's self, as proud boasters do; but a satisfaction, pleasure, and exultation of mind, as in the places referred to. The two first of which (1 Cor. 9:15; 2 Cor. 11:10), respect his preaching of the gospel, and not barely that, but the preaching of it without charge; which upon reflection, for many reasons, gave him an inward pleasure and satisfaction, and at the same time he declared, that though he preached the gospel,he had nothing to glory of.The next passage cited from 2 Corinthians 1:12, regards the agreeable life and conversation of the apostle, and other ministers in the world; which he attributes, not to fleshly wisdom,then there would be room for glorying; but to the grace of God,which was matter of rejoicing,though not of vain boasting. The last of these scriptures, Galatians 6:4, regards also the external conversion of the saints; which, when agreeable to the gospel of Christ, yields a pleasing reflection within a man's self; so that betas no need to look out to others, to borrow any glory from them, by comparing himself with them, as the proud Pharisee did, when he said, God I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

3rdly God has so contrived the business of our salvation, that no flesh should glory in his sight. Now if salvation, in any part of it, is to be ascribed to man, if conversion is not entirely God's work, but man cooperates with him in the production of grace, then the whole glory of that work is not due to God. But,

1. This is thought[6] to be "sufficiently accounted for by observing, that the principle, by which man cooperates with him in this work, is derived from him; and all the motives which excite this principle to act, arise purely from God's preventing and exciting grace." I confess, this is owning a great deal, but not enough: for this principle is not barely derived from God, but implanted by him; in which man is purely passive, and does not nor can he cooperate with him in the production of it. Moreover, though the motives which excite this principle to act are from the Lord, yet they must be attended with the powerful grace of God, or they will never excite the principle to act. Betides, though man is an agent, and acts for God, and his glory, under the influence of grace, in consequence of a principle of it wrought in him, yet he is no agent in the forming of that principle; were he, though an under one, part of the glory of it would belong to him; wherefore if God is chief agent, yet, if not a sole one in this work, the whole glory of it is not due to him.

2. It is observed,[7] that "our Lord, and his apostles, often commend the good actions of men; and Christ will at last say to the righteous man, Well done, thou good and faithful servant."But then it should be observed, that these praises and commendations do not regard the work of grace and conversion, but the fruits of it in the lives and conversations of the saints; which though God, of his great grace and goodness, is pleased to praise, commend, and signify his acceptance of, yet these persona are taught by the same grace to own, that when they have done all they can, they are but unprofitable servants; and that it is by the grace of God they are what they are, and do what they do (Luke 17:10; 1 Cor. 15:10). And when Christ at the last day shall speak of their good works, and say to them (Matthew 25:35,37), I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, etc., they will reply, as having forgotten them, putting no trust in them, or ascribing the glory of them to themselves, When saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? etc.


[1] Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. in. & 4: p. 306; Curcell. p. 465.

[2] Whitby, p. 210, 297; ed. 2.204, 290.

[3] Whitby, p. 298; ed. 2.290.

[4] Ibid. p. 299; ed. 2.292.

[5] Vide Bess, in Galatians 6:14.

[6] Whitby, p. 300; ed. 2.292.

[7] Ibid. p. 301; ed. 2.294.

Gill Index