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Spirit, unite the Elect to Christ, and keep them united by a almost invisible Band, which yet no foree could break asunt det: But when he had more brightly discovered himself, he called for a more exact knowledge and faith. And as he clearly teaches bis people, « how they ought to walk, and to please God, so he also requires thern to abound more and more," Thess. iv. 1.
XVIII: We do not agree with those, who think, that by the unwritten Word of God, those only were called to salva_ tion through faith in Christ, who were eminent for the spirit of prophecy, but the rest of the church was so rude and ig. norant, that thầy were brought to an unknown Christ, by the help of the law of nature alone, without the spirit of faith. For, down from Adam, the true church had one and the same precious faith, and the same common salvation with the pro phets. God did not only speak to the prophets for their private use, but by the prophets to the fathers, Heb. i. 1. The prophets would have acted perfidiously, had they put the 'candle that was 'lighted for them under a bushel, and indolently wrapt in a napkin the talent entrusted with them. Nor is it consistent with the piety of the ancient fathers, 'not to have inculcated with care and diligence' upon their children, what they themselves had learned about the proinised seed of the woman. So that though we are not to determine 'any thing rashly, as to the manner and measure of knowledge, yet we are not to doubt; but that the revelation of a Saviour was made to the Elect from the beginning.
XIX: This gospel call was never given universally to all men unless in the beginning of the world, just springing from Adam, or rising again from Noah. Though even then, God gave warning of the seclusion of some from his grace by the distinction he made between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent'; and by separating Hami from his brethren by a dreadful curse, and the ancient prophecy of als luring, in after times, the posterity of Japhet into the tents of Shem;' which idsinuated, that the posterity of Japhet should, for some time, be aliens from the communion of the people of God. Afterwards, the greatest part of mankind were left to themselves, and though God vouchsafed the word of his grace. to the posterity of Abraham, yet not to them all. In fine, when he claimed Israel to himself for a people, he rejected the other. nations, and suffered them all to go on in their own ways, Acts xiv. 16. And though, upon breaking down the wall of partition, the apostles were enjoined to preach the gospel to every creature, without distinction, yet it was never so univer
şally preached, but that there were always very many nations, and still are at this day, whom the report of the Gospel never reached. They are therefore mistaken who, having feigned an universal redemption by Christ, and an universal objective grace, as it is called, have at the same time devised, for supporting it, an universal call to Christ.
XX. This call contains the command of faith, by which all men without exception, to whom God vouchsafes the same, are enjoined to believe in Christ, in that way and manner which is revealed in the Gospel, Isa. xlv. 22. ss look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth.” But the method of believing is this: first, that a person do heartily acknowledge all men, without exception, and himself among the rest, to be liable to condemnation because of sin: and then, that he embrace the principal truths of the Gospel ; namely, that there is no salvation, but in Christ, nor any communion with Christ, but by a true and lively faith : moreover, that he do not neglect so great salvation, but renouncing all earthly enjoyments, and every false remedy for his sins, he only desire the righteousness of Christ, receive him as his Sa-, viour, give himself up wholly to him, pot doubting but in so doing he shall find rest to his soul. All and every one in particular therefore, to whom the Gospel is preached, are notcommanded directly to believe that Christ died for them. For that is a falsehood : but are commanded to proceed in that method I have now described ;. and not to take comfort to themselves from the death of Christ, before having acknowledged their own misery, and renounced every thing but Christ, they have given themselves up sincerely to him. We cannot therefore conclude from this -general call, who they are for whom Christ died; but only this, that there is no other name given under heaven," in which we can be saved; and that in him, as an all-sufficient Saviour, every believer shall have life.
XXL But that external call will bring none to communion with Christ, unless it be accompanied with the internal, which is accomplisbed not only by persuasion and command, but by the powerful operation of the Spirit. There is a certain call of God, whereby he makes the things he calls to exist by that very call
. By such a call, he calleth those things which be not, as though they were, Rom. iv. 14. For, when he said, let there be light, immediately there was light, Gen. 1 3. Not unlike this is that internal call of the Spirit, of which the apostle writes, 2 Cor. iv. 6. “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shiped in our hearts... But
when he says to the Elect, in the hour of their happy visitation,
awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," Epb. v. 14. it is no more possible for them to remain any longer in the sleep of death, than it was possible for Lazarus to continue in the grave, after Christ had said to him, Lazarus, come forth, John xi. 49.
XXII. Here God exerts bis infinite power, by which he converts the soul no less powerfully than sweetly. While the Gospel is externally proposed to bis chosen people," he gives them the eyes of their understanding to be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of their calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” Eph. i. 18. he “openeth their heart, that they may attend unto the things which are spoken,” Acts xvi. 14. and causes them “ to receive the word with all readiness of mind," Acts xvii. 11. He writes his laws on their heart, Jer. xxxi. 33.
the reverence of himself there, Ezek. xi. 20. And not only calls them from darkness to his marvellous light, but also, by the call, draws them, not to stand still in the path of doubtful deliberation, but to run after him, Cant. i. 4. Not only puts them in an equal poise, but turns them, Jer. xxxi. 18. Not only advises, but persuades, and he is stronger and prevails, Jer. xx. 7. Nor does he solicit, but translate, Col. i. 18. Not by an ordinary,
. but by that mighty power by which he raised Christ from the dead, Epb. i. 20. Let changeable buman nature put on what form it will, it must be obliged to confess, that in this matter, these are so many displays of divine omnipotence, like so many thunderbolts thrown out to bring down its pride.
XXIII. Nevertheless, God deals here with the rational creature in such a manner, that the liberty of the human will is not in the least affected : which he is so far from destroying by the energy of his power, that, on the contrary, he rescues and maintains it. He put, indeed, into the heart of Titus the earnest care of going, yet so as to undertake the journey of his own accord, 2 Cor. vii. 16, 17. It is a violence indeed, bud that of heavenly love, the greater the sweeter. A certain kind of compulsion, but that of the most charming friendship; to the end, that the soul beirg loosed from the chains of sin and Satan, may rejoice in the most
delightful liberty. God does not drag along the unwilling, by head and shoulders, but inakes them willing; Phil. ä. 13. bringing his truths so clearly to their understanding,
The author's words are humani ingenü vertumnus, alluding to Vertumnus, a God worshipped by the Romans, under several shapes, because he was thought to be the God of change, and to be graceful under every form, and therefore I have rendered it changeable human nature.
that they cannot but assent, so effectually gaining upon their will by the charms of his goodness, that they are not able to reject them ; but yield themselves conquered, and that with the highest complacency ; exulting with joy,««« O Lord, thou hast enticed me, and I was enticed, thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed," Jer. xx. 7. I may well exult in this victory and triumph over the devil, for that I myself am conquered by thee.' And who can be so rude, as to complain of any violence done to human liberty, by this winning power (so to speak) of the Deity ?
XXIV. It was certainly inconsistent with the power and majesty of God to attempt any thing and leave it in suspense, and not bring it to a final issue; it was likewise unworthy both of his goodness and wisdom, so to vex and distress a man en dowed with reason and will, as, in a matter of the far greatest moment, to act, without knowledge or against his will, by a certain fatal and blind instinct of his own. He therefore employs the highest degree of force, thereby to conquer the highest degree of the corruption of nature ; but a pleasant force, a force under the direction of wisdom, as became an intelligent and rational nature; which is so willingly overcome as not only not to resist because nothing can resist God, when he comes to convert the soul; but also because, should it resist, it would think itself most unhappy. But yet we are here to distinguish between the beginning and accomplishment of the call; as also between the object and the end, or that in which it terminates. For, at the beginning of the call man necessarily resists, and cannot but resist, because the object is an unbelieving and rebellious sinner and achild of disobedience: butin the consummation, he necessarily makes no resistance, and cannot now resist, because the end of this call, or that in which it terminates, is a believer, who owns himself conquered, and glories in the obedience of faith. This is, what the Greek authors emphatically call, meedavayan, the contracting persuasion of God, who calls.
XXV. The many admonitions, promises, and threatenings, by which we are invited, make pothing against this truth: for as they inform us of our duty, so they are made effectual to conversion by the internal operation of the Spirit: : Nor ought the complaints of God and of Christ, of the unwilling ness of people, to be converted, be objected to it; because these do not speak of any inward power that would bring about their conversion, as if they were able to weaken that, but of the external ministry of the word, against which the wicked harden their heart.' Neither are we to urge, what we elsewhere find about grieving the Spirit of God: because we are to distinguish between the common operations of the Spirit of God, and the special operations of the Spirit of grace; between the moral and the supernatural actions of the Spirit of grace: between some more feeble impulses to certain exercises of virtue and piety, and that grand attempt of the Spirit, when he goes to convert an elect person. They grieve the Spirit of God, because they rather chouse w olrey the impulses of the flesh and of the devil, than his holy admonitions, which are partly proposed externally by the word, partly insinuated into their mind by conscience. Believers themselves also grieve the Spirit of grace, whereby they are sealed, as pften as they refuse to comply with his holy admonitions ; and though conscience, in which the Spirit has set up his throne, in vain struggles with them, yet they suffer themselves to be carried away by the flesh and the world; and likewise every time, that, with a becoming reverence of soul, they refuse to receive, cherish, follow his holy impulses, when he quickens them to duty. Whence nothing can be concluded against the invincible efficacy of God, when he calls internally, and effectually undertakes the conversion of his people.
XXVI. We ought then attentively to consider, carefully hearken to, and willingly comply with the call of God, both the external by the light of nature and revelation, and the internal by the Spirit, so that upon being brought to communion with God and Christ, “ we may shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light," 1 Pet. ü. 9..
Of Regeneration. 1. By that same word, whereby the Elect are called to communion with God and his Christ, they are also regenerated to a far more excellent life. For thus James saith, chap: i. 18. " of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." It is therefore proper, we proceed from the subject of effectual calling, to that of Regenerution.
II. But here all things are deep, and wrapt up in mystery. Who can unfold to us the secrets of his own corporal birth ? Who can distinctly declare, in what manner he was poured out like milk, and curdled like cheese within the bowels of