Archive for the ‘God is Gracious: Common and Special Grace’ Category


John Corbet (1620-1680) on the Common and Special Grace of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


2. The meaning of some Distinctions of Grace, that are commonly used.

There is grace objective and subjective. By objective grace is meant the law or covenant of grace, which is styled in Scripture, “the grace of God that brings salvation,” together with all the external signs and evidences thereof, either in the works of God and the course of his providence towards mankind, or in his written Word. By subjective grace is meant all internal gracious operations of God on man, over and above his general concurse,1 together with the impression and disposition made thereby in the soul.

There is grace common and special. By common grace many understand that which is common. Not to all, but to more than the elect; and by special grace that which is peculiar to the elect, or to a state of salvation. But these terms are not necessarily restrained to this meaning. For there is a common grace, not only as given to more than the elect, but as given to all men. And there is a special grace, wherein God freely favors one more than another, and yet it may be below that which is peculiar to a state of salvation.

Grace of the same kind may be considered as given to several persons in equal or unequal measure.

There is also grace sufficient and grace effectual. Sufficient grace is that by which we can do the good, to which it is said to be sufficient, and without which we cannot do it; and, therefore, it is also called necessary grace. Effectual grace is that, which, as such, does take effect, and is never frustrate.

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Henry Finch (d. 1625): A Short Reference on Common Grace

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism



Of knowledge.

And so much of calling and gather of the Churches.

The common graces are Gifts or a taste of the sweetness1 of Christ

Gifts are knowledge or faculties.

Knowledge is the understanding of the word of God [1. Tim. 3:15.] necessary in some measure for every professor [John 1:18.].

[Henry Finch], The Sacred Doctrine of Divinitie, Gathered out of the Word of God, and Comprehended in two volumes (London: Imprinted at London by Felix Kynston, 1613), book 2, page 16. [Some spelling modernized; marginal reference cited inline; underlining mine; and footnote mine.]

[Bibliographic notation from Worldcat: By Sir Henry Finch./ Sometimes erroneously attributed to Dudley Fenner, who the preface of the first edition (STC 10872.5), dated 1 Jan. 1589, mentions as having died three years previously./ Another edition of the Doctrine only of STC 10872.5 revised and enlarged./ The second volume spoken of in the title is STC 7148–STC./ Most copies are anonymous; British Library copy retains [par.]2, conjugate with with [par.]3, with dedication by Finch to Thomas [Egerton] Lord Ellsmere.]


1The text here is heavily obscured and so this is my best estimation of the correct word.


William Perkins (1558-1602) on Common Restraining Grace

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And this much for the efficacy and greatness of Christ’s death: Now as concerning grace: I say, that this is diversely distinguished. For first, it is either restraining or renewing. The restraining grace is that, whereby the inbred corruption of the heart, is not thereby utterly diminished and taken away, but in some restrained more, in some less, that it break not violently forth into action: and it is given only for a testimony unto man, and to preserve society: and for this kind of grace is general, that is, belonging to all and every man, amongst whom some do exceed othersome in the gifts of civil virtues: and there is no man, in whom God does not more or less restrain his natural corruption. Now renewing or Christian grace (as ancient writers do usually call it) is that whereby a man has power given to believe and repent, both in respect of will, and power: and it is universal in respect of those who believe.

Secondly, Grace is either natural, or supernatural: as Augustine himself teaches. Natural grace is that, which is bestowed on man together with nature: and this is either of nature perfect or corrupt. Perfect, as the image of God, or righteousness bestowed on Adam in his creation. This grace belongs generally unto all because we all were in Adam: and whosoever he received that was good, he received it both for himself and his posterity. The grace of nature corrupted is a natural enlightening (whereof John speaks: ‘He enlightens every man that comes into the world [Joh. 1:9]), yea and every natural gift. And these gifts truly by that order which God has made in nature, are due and belonging unto nature. But that Grace which is supernatural, is not due unto nature, especially unto nature corrupted, but is bestowed by special grace, and therefore is special. This the ancient writers affirm. Augustine says: “Nature is common to all, but not grace,” and he acknowledges a twofold grace: namely that common grace of nature, whereby we are made men: and Christian grace, whereby in Christ we are again born new men.

William Perkins, A Christian and Plaine Treatise of the Manner and Order of Predestination, and of the Largenes of Gods Grace (At London: Printed for William Welby, and Martin Clarke, 1606), 106-110. [Some spelling modernized; italics original; marginal reference cited inline; and underlining mine.]


Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) on Common Grace (Informal Comment)

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Sect. II.

Use. SEE hence what cause of thankfulness to all the people of God, that the Lord should make their souls the vessels (which he might easily and justly have dashed in pieces) to receive and preserve this eternal anointing; I do not believe there is no man that knows the bitterness of sin, the plague of his own heart, but when he sees Christ is his, yet it makes him mourn that there should be so little suitableness between the Lord and him, so little likeness between his life and Christ’s; what though the Lord love me, and yet my heart weary of him? What, though the Lord bless me, and make my heart abuse him? And hence this makes it thankful, Rom. 7:24,25. This so far from dishonoring grace, as that the apostle makes this the matter of admiration of God’s grace, Eph. 2: 3,4, “God who is rich in mercy, when dead in sins has quickened us:” Not only quickened our head (for hence is cause of eternal praise), but us; and hence he has us set up, “in heavenly places in him.” This is the state of all men, they cannot do one spiritual act; now that the Lord should help when all creatures left us, is wonderful; but that it should be with such a life, even the life of Christ Jesus himself; for the same Spirit that raised him from the dead dwells in us, 1 Pet. 5:1. This mercy indeed that he should not only die for us, and live in heaven for us, but that he should love so dearly, as to come and live in us; that when our sins had slain him, he should not only come and dwell in our houses, not only pay his head in our bosom, but live in our hearts, where he finds such poor welcome, and ill entertainment at our hands. I tell you this is wonderful, to make his habitation in us, that before we go to live with him, he should live in us: let them that never knew what this meant refuse to be thankful, but if you will find it so, forget not this love, John 14:17, “I will send the Spirit whom the world cannot receive, because it knows him not.” The Lord sends the Spirit in common graces, and the world does not receive that also in prophetical and miraculous gifts, and it does not receive that; but this Spirit which God pours on the thirsty, this Spirit with which God fills the empty, they cannot receive this. O that you should receive it, when as they know it not.

Thomas Shepard, The Parable of the Ten Virgins Opened and Applied: Being the Substance of Divers Sermons on Matthew xxv. 1-14. The Difference between the Sincere Christian and the most refined Hypocrite, the Nature and Character of Saving and Common Grace (Falkirk: Printed by T. Johnson, For R. Johnson, the Publisher, 1797), 1:369-370. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]


Thomas Taylor (1576-1633) on Common Grace (Informal References)

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1) This is a main difference between a godly man, and a hypocrite. Many things may affect an evil man for the present hearing of the Word: sometime he may hear a novelty with great affection, but as children delight in a new toy for an hour, but presently contemn and lose it. Sometimes the power of the Word makes a hypocrite tremble, as Felix, and grow to some with himself, and perhaps to some purpose and resolution of amendment: So Israel hearing the Lord speak in so terrible a voice, promise fair, “All that the Lord our God says by thee (if he will no more speak of himself) we will hear it, and do it.” But the Lord saw there was “no such heart in them,” Deut. 5: 27, 29. Sometime some affliction prepares them to hear, and now while the iron is in the fire, and the hammer upon it, it may be wrought to some fashion till it be cold again: so Pharaoh sometime will confess his sin, and acknowledge God’s righteousness, and beg prayers of Moses; but only so long as the plague is upon him. Sometime some natural motion, or some spiritual motion may stir them, as for a flash they are earnestly resolved for Heaven; so the young man comes hastily, and hears gladly, but not purposing to do all that is required, goes away heavily.

The hypocrite in all these motions is like Ephraim, whose goodness was “as the morning dew,” suddenly dried up, Hos. 6:4. The Word comes into a bottomless heart, wherein is a bottomless gulf of guile and deceit, and all is lost at length. But the godly man, by the Words dwelling plentifully in his heart, attains the commendation pronounced upon the church of Thyatira, Rev. 2:19, ‘I know the works, the faith,’ &c., that they be “more at the last than at the first.” He has on him a mark of one that is planted by the Lord in the House of the Lord; he is “more fruitful in his age, more fat and fresh” daily, and exceeds his former times in ferocity,1 and fruitfulness in good works and graces [Psal. 92:14].

In a word, whereas all other things are common to all, the Heavens, the Earth, the Creatures, yea the ministry of the Word, Sacraments, Prayer and many common graces wrought by them; this alone is the special right of believers, incommunicable with hypocrites, to have the Word of God everlastingly fixed in their hearts: Esa. 8:16, “Seal up the Law among my disciples: now a seal is the means of secrecy from them whom the matter concerns not, and of assurance to them whom the business concerns. Thomas Taylor, “The Parable of the Sower and of the Seed,” in The Works of the Judicious and Learned Divine Dr. Thomas Taylor (London: Printed by Tho. Ratcliffe for John Bartlet the Elder, sometimes living at the Gilt Cup inn the Goldsmiths Row in Cheapside, now in the New-Building on South-side of Paul’s neer St. Austins Gate, 1659), 2:66-67. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; marginal references and comments cited inline; and underlining mine.]

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