Common restraining grace extended to the wicked to restrain sin and effect outward civic good:

1) When the providence of God is said to be conversant about sin, it is in suffering or permitting it, not in suggesting, or tempting to it ; for no one ought to say, as the apostle James expresses it, When he is tempted, that he is tempted of God; for God cannot tempt any man; but, when he is tempted, he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed, chap. i. 13, 14. But, so far as the providence of God denies restraining grace,[1] from whence corrupt nature takes occasion to break forth, it is conversant about sin occasionally, not effectually; as when the banks, or flood-gates, that keep the waters within their due bounds, are broken down, by the owner thereof, who does not think fit to repair them, the waters will, according to the course of nature, overflow the country; or if the hedge, or inclosure, that secures the standing corn, be taken away, the beasts, by a propensity of nature, will tread it down, and devour it; so if that which would have a tendency to restrain, or prevent sin, be taken away, it will be committed; and the providence of God may do this, either in a way of sovereignty, or as a punishment for former sins committed, without being charged as the author of sin. It is not the same, in this case, as when men do not prevent sin in others, when it is in their power to do it, since they are under an obligation hereunto: But God is under no obligation to extend this privilege unto sinful mem; and sometimes he suffers that wrath, which he will not restrain, to break forth as having a design, some way or other, to glorify himself thereby; as the Psalmist says, Surely, the -wrath of man, shall praise thee ; the remainder of wrath thou shall restrain Psal. lxxvi. Thomas Ridgely, A Body of Divinity, (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1815), 2:55.

2) It is allowed, by those who deny the extent of Christ’s death to all men, as to what concerns their salvation, that it may truly be said, that there are some blessings redounding to the whole world, and more especially to those who sit under the sound of the gospel, as the consequence of Christ’s death; inasmuch as it is owing hereunto, that the day of God’s patience is lengthened out, and the preaching of the gospel continued to those who are favoured with it; and that this is attended, in many, with restraining grace, and some instances of external reformation, which (though it may not issue in their salvation) has a tendency to prevent a multitude of sins, and a greater degree condemnation, that would otherwise ensue. These may be called the remote, or secondary ends of Christ’s death, which was principally and immediately designed to redeem the elect, and to purchase all saving blessings for them which shall be applied in his own time and way: Nevertheless others, as a consequence hereof, are made partakers of some blessings of common providence, so far as they are subservient to the salvation of those, for whom he gave himself a ransom. Thomas Ridgely, A Body of Divinity, (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1815), 2:303-8.

Restraining grace extended to believers:

1) Now the care of Christ, extended to his Church, consists, 1st, In his separating them from, and, as it were, gathering them out of the world, or that part of it that lieth in wickedness, as the apostle says, The whole world lieth in wickedness, 1 John v. 19. or, as the word may be rendered, in the wicked one; upon which account it is called, Satan’s kingdom. He gives them restraining grace, brings them under conviction of sin, and humbles them for it ; and, by the preaching of the gospel, not only informs them of the way of salvation, but brings them into it. Thomas Ridgely, A Body of Divinity, (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1815), 2:506.

[1] Again, it is undeniable that the Reformed doctrine of Common Grace predates Abraham Kuyper by centuries. The concept of common restraining grace was held by many Scottish theologians (Rutherford, Durham, et al), as well as by may English Puritans and Continental Divines.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008 at 12:23 pm and is filed under God is Gracious: Common and Special Grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed at this time.