11. What is the common doctrine of the Reformed Churches as to the internal call?

That it is an exercise of the divine power upon the soul, immediate, spiritual, and supernatural, communicating a new spiritual life, and thus making a new mode of spiritual activity possible. That repentance, faith, trust, hope, love, etc., are purely and simply the sinner’s own acts; but as such are possible to him only in virtue of the change wrought in the moral condition of his faculties by the recreative power of God.–See “Conf. of Faith,” Chap. x., Sections 1 and 2.

Common grace preceding regeneration makes a superficial moral impression upon character and action but is generally resisted. The act of grace which regenerates, operating within the spontaneous energies of the soul and changing their character can neither be co-operated with nor resisted. But the instant the soul is regenerated it begins to cooperate with and sometimes, alas1 also to resist subsequent gracious influence prevenient and co-operative. But upon the whole and in the end grace preserves, overcomes, and saves. Regeneration is styled by the Reformed Theologians Conversio habitiualis seu passiva i.e., the change of character in effecting which the soul is the subject and not the agent of action. Conversion they style Conversio actualis seu activa, i.e., the instantly consequent change of action in which the soul still prompted and aided by grace is the only agent.

13. What is meant by “common grace,” and how may it be shown that the Spirit does operate upon the minds of those who are not renewed in the heart?

“Common grace” is the restraining and persuading influences of the Holy Spirit acting only through the truth revealed in the gospel, or through the natural light of reason and of conscience, heightening the natural moral effect of such truth upon the understanding, conscience, and heart. It involves no change of heart, but simply an enhancement of the natural powers of the truth, a restraint of the evil passions, and an increase in the natural emotions in the view of sin, duty, and self-interest.

That God dose so operate upon the hearts of the unregenerate is proved, let, from Scripture, Gen. vi. 3; Acts vii 51; Heb. x. 29; 2d, from universal experience and observation.

14. How does common differ from efficacious grace?

lst. As to its subjects. All men are more or less the subjects of the one; only the elect are subjects of the other.–Rom. viii. 30; xi. 7; 2 Thess. ii 13.

2d. As to its nature. Common grace is only mediate, through the truth, and it is merely moral, heightening the moral influence natural to the truth, and exciting only the natural powers of the soul, both rational and moral. But efficacious grace is immediate and supernatural, since it is wrought directly in the mu1 by the immediate energy of the Holy Ghost, and since it implants a new spiritual life, and capacity for a new mode of exercising the natural faculties.

3d As to its effects. The effects of common grace are superficial and transient, modifying the action, but not changing the nature, and its influence is always more or less consciously resisted, as opposed to the prevailing dispositions of the soul But efficacious grace, since it acts not upon but in the will itself, changing the governing desires, and giving a new direction to the active powers of the soul, is neither resistible nor irresistible, but most free, spontaneous, and yet most certainly effectual.

AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1879), 448-450.

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