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.

3. Of Universal Grace.

I think the notion of grace ought not to be restrained to favors or benefits vouchsafed to some and not to others; but whatsoever God gives, which in his justice according to the law of works, he might refuse to give, is truly called grace, though it be given to all. And the most common grace is so far of free-choice, as that God might justly have refused to give it.

That there is an universal objective grace, appears by the general law of grace, or the conditional grant of life and salvation to all mankind.

The grace of the external signs and evidences of the said general grant, is, likewise, universal in some degree. For in the course of God’s providence towards mankind, his mercy to sinners is very legible, particularly his reconcilableness to them upon their repentance. The mercy of God towards men in general tends to lead them to repentance, and seeking after God, Act. 17:27. And this supposes God to be reconcilable, otherwise there were no ground for repentance.

If there be such universal objective grace, what hinders that there should not be universal subjective grace proportionable thereunto? viz., some help from God dispose the minds of men to own and accept his mercy, and to seek to be reconciled to him. Yea, I think that the former is in vain without the latter, because it cannot be mad use of. So far am I from apprehending that universal grace is a repugnancy.

It may be further noted, that this universal grace, that notion of free-choice in preferring one before another, takes place so far, as It is vouchsafed only to fallen men and not to angels.

John Corbet, A Humble Endeavour of Some Plain and Brief Explication of the Decrees and Operations of God, about the Free Actions of Men: More Especially of the Operations of Divine Grace (London: Printed for Tho. Parkhurst, at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, near Mercers Chappel, 1683), 26-27. [Some spelling modernized; footnote value and content mine; and underlining mine.]


1[I strongly suspect Corbet means “concourse.”]

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