Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious  Grace


Dr. Whitby[1] affirms, “that the fathers generally teach, that God doth only persuade, and by his Spirit assist, those that are willing to be good; but leaves them still to neglect and resist his persuasions, not laying them under a necessity to be good; because that would destroy the virtue and reward of being so.” In proof of which he produces but two or three testimonies, which will be hereafter considered. And in another place he says,[2] “As for the antiquity of irresistibleness of grace, he (Dr. Edwards) hath only one, St. Austin, to produce, against a hundred testimonies of the fathers cited by Vossius, to prove that God laid no necessity upon man's will to act; as he must do, if he acts irresistibly upon it, that being necessary which cannot be otherwise.” All which pains might have been spared, for none say, that God lays any necessity of coaction or force upon the wills of men; but that by the power of his grace he moves upon them, and influences them to that which is good according to their nature. Besides, Vossius, after he had made the citations referred to, and which regard the article of free will already considered, observes,[3] that three writers were far from Pelagianism; and that, according to them, the will remained free, and all things are ascribed to grace; which he undertakes more fully to explain; and among the rest, says, “Every good work, as such, is positively from the Holy Spirit, because whatsoever hath a being, as good and supernatural, that it has from grace. From the free will indeed it is only privately, as it does not resist graces when it could resist; that it can resist, it has of itself; that it can will to resist, it has from grace. And elsewhere he says,[4] “I would not have it so taken, as if nothing, could be produced from them (the fathers) which may seem to intimate, that grace is bestowed from an absolute will to convert;” and then mentions a passage from Basil, cited by Petrus Diaconus, and others; “Thou canst do all things, and there is none can contradict thee; for when thou wilt thou savest, and none resists thy will.” And adds, “Also memorable is that of Ambrose, God calls whom he pleases, and whom he will he makes religious.” In the following Sections I shall make it appear, that it was the sentiment of the ancient writers, that regeneration, conversion, sanctification, faith etc., are wrought in the soul through the energy of the Spirit of God, and the powerful and insuperable efficacy of divine grace, and are not the fruits and effects of mere moral suasion.


[1] Discourse, etc. p. 296; ed. 2. 259, 260.

[2] Postscript, p. 565; ed. 2. 542.

[3] Hist. Pelag. 1. 7, par. 2. p. 717, 718.

[4] Ibid. 1. 6, Thes. 10, p. 553, 554.