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Calvin and Calvinism » Blog Archive » Girolamo Zanchi (1516–1590) on the Grace of God: Common and Special


CHAP. 2.

Of the grace of God.

The first question.

Whether there be grace in God: and what this word Grace does signify.

Amongst many other titles by which God is excellently described, Exod. 34, he is called Gracious, Chanon, when is chen which the Grecians translate charis, the Romans Gratia, showing that he is not only courteous, gracious, and lovely in himself, and such an one as he showed himself in his Son Christ; but also even such a one, who willingly does gratify all sorts, and being gracious unto them, desires after a sort to be in grace with all men: so in Christ has he abundantly laid out himself. This word Grace, has three significations especially. It sometimes is taken for that gracious favor by which a man through his sweet carriage of himself, in words and conversation, becomes acceptable, amiable, and gracious in the eyes of all that are good. “He gives grace to the humble,” says Solomon [Prov. 3:34.], that is, makes them gracious with men. So became Christ gracious, Luke 2:52, by his sweet behavior, and decent demeaning of himself. It very often signifies, that undeserved favor which one afforded to another; forgiving him if he have done him any injury, and favoring him in what he possibly can. So Noah found favor or grace in the sight of God [Gen. 6:8.]. So the Virgin Mary, Luke 1:30, and by this grace “I am that I am,” says Paul. So by grace, that is, by the free favor of God, through his own mercy and goodness, we are said in the Scriptures to be justified and saved. Last of all, it is taken for such gifts of God, as come of his grace: be the for the life to come, as faith, hope and love, &c. Or otherwise, as the gift of tongues, &c. Hence it was that Jacob said to Esau concerning his children, these are they whom the Lord Chauan[?] has graciously given unto me thy servant. Of Barnabas it is recording that when “he saw the grace of God” (that is, the gift that was poured upon them that believed), he rejoiced [Acts 11:23.]. And Paul says, receive not the grace of God, meaning the gifts of God, in vain [Eph. 4:7.].  Unto every one is given grace, according to the measure of God. Let every man as he has received the grace, that is, gift, minister the same unto another [ 1 Pet. 4:10.]. And then this infused grace, the schoolmen acknowledge almost none other grace; which makes them ever to misconstrue those Scriptures, in which we are said to be justified by grace; ascribing justification to qualities infused, namely to faith and charity principally; and consequently to the fruits of these twain, which are good works. Yet Aquinas, forced by plain Scripture, does by grace often understand, that free mercy which is in God, not in man [in epist. ad Tit. 3:4-6.]. Now this word grace taken in the second and third signification is (according to Augustine, and not contrary to the Word of God), so called, because it is given gratis, freely, without any desert of ours [Gratia quasi gratis data.]. For in that God favors and loves us, that he bestows temporal or eternal graces upon us, it is his mercy, not our merit. If of grace then not of works, else should grace be no grace, says the Apostle Rom. 11:6. That is (as Augustine does well interpret those words), it is not grace any way, if it be not of free grace every way. And why does the Apostle call life eternal grace, but to teach us that it is the alone gift of God? [ Rom. 6:23.]. Now to speak of grace in the first acceptation only we propound…

The fourth Question.

Upon whom is this grace bestowed.

The proposition.

This grace of God by which men are justified is bestowed only upon the elect: and he vouchsafes it to none other.

Although that Grace of God, by which his benevolence is simply understood, reaches every creature, in as much as he loves and preserves the same; being as the Apostle says, “the Savior of all:” so that none can complain for want of this grace: yet that Grace by which the Scriptures, that a man is justified, belongs only to the elect

[Girolamo Zanchi] Live Everlasting: Or The True Knowledge of One Iehova, Three Elohim and Jesus Immanuel: Collected Out of the Best Modern Divines, and compiled into one volume by Robert Hill, ([Cambridge:] Printed by Iohn Legat, printer to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge. And are to be sold [in London] at the signe of the Crowne in Pauls Church-yard by Simon Waterson, 1601), 337-338 and 348-349. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; inserted bracketed material mine; side-headers included; repeated Scripture side-header references not included; and underlining mine.]

[Notes: Worldcat and Wing identify this as as: “Largely a translation and abridgement of Zanchi, Girolamo. De natura Dei. Zanchi is identified in the side-note on page 655—STC…” I have inserted Zanchi’s name in the title as a reflection that because: 1) as noted, this is largely a translation of Zanchi’s work; 2) because it quite probably does reflect Zanchi’s theology; 3) because Wing attributes the authorship to Zanchi, and Hill as the translator; and 4) from the opening “Epistle Dedicatory” (3rd page) Hill identifies a work by Zanchi as the principal text upon which this work is based. Lastly, I actually suspect this is a much more reliable translation than Toplady’s briefer translation from the same work.]

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