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Uncommon Grace Quotes


Augustine (354-430):

[1] "Among all who are truly pious, it is at all events agreed that no one without true piety—that is, true worship of the true God—can have true virtue; and that it is not true virtue which is the slave of human praise ... But such men, however great virtues they may possess in this life, attribute it solely to the grace of God that He has bestowed it on them—willing, believing, seeking. And, at the same time, they understand how far they are short of that perfection of righteousness which exists in the society of those holy angels for which they are striving to fit themselves" (The City of God v:19, trans. Marcus Dods, in Philip Schaff [ed.], A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, vol. 2 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, repr. 1983], p. 102).

[2] "For though the soul may seem to rule the body admirably, and the reason the vices, if the soul and reason do not themselves obey God, as God has commanded them to serve Him, they have no proper authority over the body and the vices. For what kind of mistress of the body and the vices can that mind be which is ignorant of the true God, and which, instead of being subject to His authority, is prostituted to the corrupting influences of the most vicious demons? It is for this reason that the virtues which it seems to itself to possess, and by which it restrains the body and the vices that it may obtain and keep what it desires, are rather vices than virtues so long as there is no reference to God in the matter. For although some suppose that virtues which have a reference only to themselves, and are desired only on their own account, are yet true and genuine virtues, the fact is that even then they are inflated with  pride, and are therefore to be reckoned vices rather than virtues. For as that which gives life to the flesh is not derived from flesh, but is above it, so that which gives blessed life to man is not derived from man, but is something above him; and what I say of man is true of every celestial power and virtue whatsoever" (The City of God xix:25, trans. Marcus Dods, in Philip Schaff [ed.], A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, vol. 2 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, repr. 1983], pp. 418-419).

[3] "It is unthinkable that God should love someone temporally, as though with a new love that was not in him before, seeing that with him things past do not pass, and things future have already happened. He loved his saints before the foundation of the world as he predestined them; but when they are converted and find him, then they are said to begin to be loved by him, in order to state the thing in a way that can be grasped by human feeling. So too when he is said to be angry with the wicked and pleased with the good, they change, not he; just as light is harsh to weak eyes and pleasant to strong; but it is the eyes, not the light, that change" (De Trinitate, 5.17).

Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415): "it is an evident mark of the severity of punishment that God puts off punishment till after death and does not punish them in this life in any other way but permits them to wander about in mundane prosperity as reprobates who are not reproved" (The Church, trans. David S. Schaff [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915], p. 278).

Martin Luther (1483-1546): "Therefore, since love of oneself remains, it is quite impossible for a human being to love, speak, or do justice, even though he may simulate all these things. It follows that the virtues of all philosophers, indeed of all human beings, whether jurists or theologians, are virtues in appearance, but really vices" (Lectures on Hebrews, in J. Pelikan [ed.], Luther’s Works [St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1968], 29:119).

Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560): "And our sophists are not yet ashamed to teach righteousness of works, satisfactions, and philosophical virtues. Let us grant that there was some kind of constancy in Socrates, chastity in Xenocrates, temperance in Zeno. Still, because they were in impure minds—indeed, because these shadows of virtues arose by love of oneself from selfishness, they ought not to be counted but as vices" (Loci Communes, trans. by W. Pauck in Melanchthon and Bucer [London: SCM, 1969], pp. 33-34).

John Calvin (1509-1564):

[1] "Hence, how much soever men may disguise their impurity, some are restrained only by shame, others by fear of the laws, from breaking out into many kinds of wickedness. Some aspire to an honest life, as deeming it most conducive to their interest, while others are raised above the vulgar lot, that, by the dignity of their station, they may keep inferiors to their duty. Thus God by his providence, curbs the perverseness of nature, preventing it from breaking forth into action, yet without rendering it inwardly pure" (Institutes 2.3.3).

[2] "To avoid similar entanglements, the course which Christian men must follow is this: first, they must not long for, or hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God; on it they must cast themselves, and there safely and confidently recline. For, however much the carnal mind may seem sufficient for itself when in the pursuit of honour or wealth, it depends on its own industry and zeal, or is aided by the favour of men, it is certain that all this is nothing, and that neither intellect nor labour will be of the least avail, except in so far as the Lord prospers both. On the contrary, his blessing alone makes a way through all obstacles, and brings every thing to a joyful and favourable issue. Secondly, though without this blessing we may be able to acquire some degree of fame and opulence (as we daily see wicked men loaded with honours and riches), yet since those on whom the curse of God lies do not enjoy the least particle of true happiness, whatever we obtain without his blessing must turn out ill. But surely men ought not to desire what adds to their misery" (Institutes 3.7.8).

[3] "Yet what Augustine writes is nonetheless true: that all who are estranged from the religion of the one God, however admirable they may be regarded on account of their reputation for virtue, not only deserve no reward but rather punishment, because by the pollution of their hearts they defile God's good works. For even though they are God's instruments for the preservation of human society in righteousness, continence, friendship, temperance, fortitude, and prudence, yet they carry out these good works of God very badly. For they are restrained from evildoing not by genuine zeal for good but either by mere ambition or by self-love, or some other perverse motive. Therefore, since by the very impurity of men's hearts these good works have been corrupted as from their source, they ought no more to be reckoned among virtues than the vices that commonly deceive on account of their affinity and likeness to virtue. In short, when we remember the constant end of that which is right—namely, to serve God—whatever strives to another end already deservedly loses the name 'right.' Therefore, because they do not look to the goal that God's wisdom prescribes, what they do, though it seems good in the doing, yet by its perverse intention is sin. He [i.e., Augustine] therefore concludes that all Fabriciuses, Scipios, and Catos in their excellent deeds have sinned in that, since they lacked the light of faith, they did not apply their deeds to the end to which they ought to have applied them. Therefore, true righteousness was not in them, because duties are weighed not by deeds but by ends" (Institutes 3.14.3).

[4] “And whereas Rachel died in childbirth, through the fatigue of the journey, before they reached a resting-place; this would prove no small accession to his grief. But, as to his being bereaved of his most beloved wife, this was probably the cause, that the Lord intended to correct the exorbitance of his affection for her. The Holy Spirit fixes no mark of infamy upon Leah, seeing that she was a holy woman, and endowed with greater virtue; but Jacob more highly appreciated Rachel’s beauty. This fault in the holy man was cured by a bitter medicine, when his wife was taken away from him: and the Lord often deprives the faithful of his own gifts, to correct their perverse abuse of them. The wicked, indeed, more audaciously profane the gifts of God; but if God connives longer at their misconduct, a more severe condemnation remains to them on account of his forbearance. But in taking away from his own people the occasion of sinning, he promotes their salvation. Whoever, therefore, desires the continued use of God’s gifts, let him learn not to abuse them, but to enjoy them with purity and sobriety” (Comm. on Gen. 35:16).

[5] "Nevertheless, it can never be laid down as a general rule, that they who had a long life were thereby proved to be pleasing and acceptable to the Lord, whereas God has sometimes lengthened the life of reprobates, in aggravation of their punishment. We know that Cain survived his brother Abel many centuries ... Moreover, as the miseries of the present life, which spring from the corruption of nature, do not extinguish the first and special grace of God; so, on the other hand, death, which is in itself the curse of God, is so far from doing any injury, that it tends, by a supernatural remedy, to the salvation of the elect. Especially now, from the time that the first-fruits of the resurrection in Christ have been offered, the condition of those who are quickly taken out of life is in no way deteriorated; because Christ himself is gain both for life and death. But the vengeance of God was so clear and remarkable in the death of Er, that the earth might plainly appear to have been purged as from its filthiness" (Comm. on Gen. 38:7).

[6] "So that whatever poison Satan produces, God turns it into medicine for his elect. And although in this place God is said to have 'meant it unto good,' because contrary to expectation, he had educed a joyful issue out of beginnings fraught with death: yet, with perfect rectitude and justice, he turns the food of reprobates into poison, their light into darkness, their table into a snare, and, in short, their life into death. If human minds cannot reach these depths, let them rather suppliantly adore the mysteries they do not comprehend, than, as vessels of clay, proudly exalt themselves against their Maker" (Comm. on Gen. 50:20).

[7] "The greater part of mankind being accustomed to deride the conduct of the saints as mere simplicity, and to regard their labour as entirely thrown away, it was of importance that the righteous should be confirmed in the way of holiness, by the consideration of the miserable condition of all men without the blessing of God, and the conviction that God is favourable to none but those who zealously devote themselves to the study of divine truth. Moreover, as corruption has always prevailed in the world, to such a degree, that the general character of men's lives is nothing else but a continual departure from the law of God, the Psalmist, before asserting the blessedness of the students of the divine law, admonishes them to beware of being carried away by the ungodliness of the multitude around them. Commencing with a declaration of his abhorrence of the wicked, he teaches us how impossible it is for any one to apply his mind to meditation upon God's laws who has not first withdrawn and separated himself from the society of the ungodly. A needful admonition surely; for we see how thoughtlessly men will throw themselves into the snares of Satan; at least, how few comparatively there are who guard against the enticements of sin. That we may be fully apprised of our danger, it is necessary to remember that the world is fraught with deadly corruption, and that the first step to living well is to renounce the company of the ungodly, otherwise it is sure to infect us with its own pollution. As the prophet, in the first place, enjoins the godly to beware of temptations to evil, we shall follow the same order. His affirmation, that they are blessed who have no fellowship with the ungodly, is what the common feeling and opinion of mankind will scarcely admit; for while all men naturally desire and seek after happiness, we see how securely they can indulge themselves in their sins, yea, that those of them who have departed farthest from righteousness, in the gratification of their lusts, are accounted happy, because they obtain the desires of their heart. The prophet, on the contrary, here teaches that no man can be duly animated to the fear and service of God, and to the study of his law, until he is firmly persuaded that all the ungodly are miserable, and that they who do not withdraw from their company shall he involved in the same destruction with them. But as it is no easy matter to shun the ungodly with whom we are mingled in the world, so as to be wholly estranged from them, the Psalmist, in order to give the greater emphasis to his exhortation, employs a multiplicity of expressions. In the first place, he forbids us to walk in their counsel; in the second place, to stand in their way; and, lastly, to sit in their seat. The sum of the whole is, that the servants of God must endeavor utterly to abhor the life of ungodly men. But as it is the policy of Satan to insinuate his deceits, in a very crafty way, the prophet, in order that none may be insensibly deceived, shows how by little and little men are ordinarily induced to turn aside from the right path. They do not, at the first step, advance so far as a proud contempt of God but having once begun to give ear to evil counsel, Satan leads them, step by step, farther astray ..." (Comm. on Ps. 1:1-2).

[8] "He obviously meant nothing more than that the children of God constantly flourish, and are always watered with the secret influences of divine grace, so that whatever may befall them is conducive to their salvation; while, on the other hand, the ungodly are carried away by the sudden tempest, or consumed by the scorching heat" (Comm. on Ps. 1:3).

[9] "The meaning, therefore, is, although the ungodly now live prosperously, yet by and by they shall be like chaff; for when the Lord has brought them low, he shall drive them hither and thither with the blast of his wrath. Besides, by this form of speech, the Holy Spirit teaches us to contemplate with the eye of faith, what might otherwise seem incredible; for although the ungodly man rise high, and appear to great advantage, like a stately tree, we may rest assured that he will be even as chaff or refuse, whenever God chooses to cast him down from his high estate, with the breath of his mouth" (Comm. on Ps. 1:4).

[10] "We now see how the Psalmist pronounces the ungodly to be miserable, because happiness is the inward blessing of a good conscience. He does not deny, that before they are driven to judgment, all things succeed well with them; but he denies that they are happy unless they have substantial and steadfast integrity of character to sustain them: for the true integrity of the righteous manifests itself when it comes at length to be tried ... Moreover, as things appear to be here driven about at the mercy of chance, and as it is not easy for us, in the midst of the prevailing confusion, to acknowledge the truth of what the Psalmist had said, he therefore presents to our consideration the grand principle, that God is the Judge of the world. Granting this, it follows that it cannot but be well with the upright and the just, while, on the other hand, the most terrible destruction must impend over the ungodly. According to all outward appearance, the servants of God may derive no advantage from their uprightness; but as it is the peculiar office of God to defend them and take care of their safety, they must be happy under his protection. And from this we may also conclude that, as he is the certain avenger of wickedness, although, for a time, he may seem to take no notice of the ungodly, yet at length he will visit them with destruction. Instead, therefore, of allowing ourselves to be deceived with their imaginary felicity, let us, in circumstances of distress, have ever before our eyes the providence of God, to whom it belongs to settle the affairs of the world, and to bring order out of confusion" (Comm. on Ps. 1:5-6).

[11] "In the same way, the prosperity of the wicked is taken as an encouragement to commit sin; for we are ready to imagine, that, since God grants them so much of the good things of this life, they are the objects of his approbation and favour" (Comm. on Ps. 73:3).

[12] "If, on the contrary, we do not perceive any punishment inflicted on them [i.e., the ungodly] in this world, let us beware of thinking that they have escaped, or that they are the objects of the Divine favour and approbation; but let us rather suspend our judgment, since the end or the last day has not yet arrived. In short, if we would profit aright, when we address ourselves to the consideration of the works of God, we must first beseech him to open our eyes, (for these are sheer fools who would of themselves be clear-sighted, and of a penetrating judgment;) and, secondly, we must also give all due respect to his word, by assigning to it that authority to which it is entitled" (Comm. on Ps. 73:16-17).

[13] "Here it must also be observed that blessings of soul or of body are found only in the Kingdom of Christ, that is, in the Church, outside of which there is nothing but curse. Hence it follows that all those who are strangers to that kingdom are wretched and unhappy; and however flourishing and vigorous they may seem, they are nevertheless in the sight of God rotten and loathsome corpses" (Comm. on Isa. 65:20).

[14] "Grant, Almighty God, that though we are continually tossed here and there by various trials, and Satan ceases not to shake our faith,—O grant, that we may yet stand firm on the promise that thou hast once given us, and which thou hast also confirmed through thine only-begotten Son, even that thou wilt ever be propitious and reconcilable to us, so that we may not despair in our greatest troubles, but relying on thy goodness may utter our groans to thee, until the ripened time of our deliverance shall come: nor let us in the meantime envy the evanescent happiness of thy enemies; but patiently wait, while thou showest that the chief object of desire is to have thee propitious to us, and that accursed is every good thing which the ungodly receive while they provoke thee and make thee angry, until Christ shall at length reveal to us the real happiness and glory of thy Church, when he shall appear at the last day for our salvation—Amen" (Prayer after Comm. on Zech. 1:16-17).

[15] "Grant, Almighty God, that as we cannot look for temporal or eternal happiness, except through Christ alone, and as thou settest him forth to us as the only true fountain of all blessings,—O grant, that we, being content with the favour offered to us through him, may learn to renounce the whole world, and so strive against all unbelief; that we may not doubt but that thou wilt ever be one kind and gracious Father, and fully supply whatever is necessary for our support: and may we at the same time live soberly and temperately, so that we may not be under the power of earthly things; but with our hearts raised above, aspire after that heavenly bliss to which thou invitest us, and to which thou also guidest us by such helps as are earthly, so that being really united to our head, we may at length reach that glory which has been procured for us by his blood.—Amen" (Prayer after Comm. on Zech. 9:17).

[16] "Very useful is this doctrine; for we hence first conclude that many, not only from the world, are led into perdition, but also from the bosom of the Church: for when three hundred shall profess to worship God, one hundred only, says Zechariah, will be saved. There are always among the people many hypocrites; nay, the grains lie hid in the midst of much chaff and refuse; it is therefore necessary to devote to ruin and eternal death a larger number than those who shall be saved. Let us then not envy the ungodly, though their prosperity may disturb us and cause us to grieve (Psalm 37:2). We think them happy; for while God spares and supports them, they deride us and triumph over our miseries. But under this circumstance, the Holy Spirit exhorts us to bear patiently our afflictions; for though for a time the happiness of the ungodly may goad us, yet God himself declares that they are fattened in order to be presently slain, when they shall have gathered much fatness. This is one thing" (Comm. on Zech. 13:9).

[17] "Some taste of this the godly have in the present life; for how much soever they may at times be oppressed with want, yet as they partake with a peaceable conscience of those things which God has created for their use, and as they enjoy through his mercy and good-will his earthly benefits no otherwise than as pledges and earnests of eternal life, their poverty does in no degree prevent them from acknowledging heaven, and the earth, and the sea, as their own possessions. Though the ungodly swallow up the riches of the world, they can yet call nothing as their own; but they rather snatch them as it were by stealth; for they possess them under the curse of God" (Comm. on Rom. 4:13). 

[18] "In the former part of the description he condemned the whole nature of man as producing nothing but evil and worthless fruits. He now informs us that all virtues, all proper and well regulated affections, proceed from the Spirit, that is, from the grace of God, and the renewed nature which we derive from Christ. As if he had said, 'Nothing but what is evil comes from man; nothing good comes but from the Holy Spirit.' There have often appeared in unrenewed men remarkable instances of gentleness, integrity, temperance, and generosity; but it is certain that all were but specious disguises. Curius and Fabrieius were distinguished for courage, Cato for temperance, Scipio for kindness and generosity, Fabius for patience; but it was only in the sight of men, and as members of civil society, that they were so distinguished. In the sight of God nothing is pure but what proceeds from the fountain of all purity" (Comm. on Gal. 5:22).

[19] "He indeed puts forth his hand indifferently against his own people and against strangers; for we see that both are in common subjected to adversities; and if a comparison be made, he seems in a manner to spare the reprobate, and to be severe towards the elect. Hence the complaints of the godly, that the wicked pass their life in continual pleasures, and delight themselves with wine and the harp, and at length descend without pains in an instant into the grave—that fatness covers their eyes—that they are exempt from troubles—that they securely and joyfully spend their life, looking down with contempt on others, so that they dare to set their mouth against heaven (Job 21:13; Psalm 73:3-9). In short, God so regulates his judgments in this world, that he fattens the wicked for the day of slaughter. He therefore passes by their many sins, and, as it were, connives at them. In the meantime, he restores by corrections his own children, for whom he has a care, to the right way, whenever they depart from it" (Comm. on I Pet. 4:17).

Thirty-Nine Articles (1562, 1571): “Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of the Spirit, are not pleasing to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesu Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin" (Article 13).

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635): "God oftentimes giveth a great deal of way to his greatest enemies. God useth a stratagem of retiring; he seems to retire and give liberty to his enemies, but it is to triumph and trample upon them with greater shame. He will tread them to dust afterward" (The Marriage Feast, Sermon 4 in Works, vol. 2).

Thomas Adams (1583–1653): "Christians shall have enough; they shall never be in such a needy state, but whatever is necessary for them in all the earth they shall have it. 'The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof;' and he hath said, that those that seek him shall not want any thing that is good, Psa. xxxiv. 10. If the whole world can supply them out of all its store they shall be supplied. What they have, they have a better and further title to, than any others in the world. Though the dominion be not founded in grace, yet, by grace, it is established. What they have descends upon them not barely by providence, but by promise, Heb. i. 2. Christ is heir of all things, and they are fellow heirs with Christ. A little coming from the promise hath more in it than the greatest abundance that is only handed down by common providence; that which comes in from the promise, comes in with a blessing; if thou hast but a handful, thou hast a blessing in thy hand; if thou hast but a corner, thou hast a blessing in thy corner. A little from love is a great blessing. Thou hast God in every morsel thou eatest, and in every drop that thou drinkest; a drop from heaven will turn the bran into the finest flour, and thy water into wine" (Heaven Opened [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979], pp. 52-53).

David Dickson (1583-1663):

[1] "However he giveth the wicked and violent persecutor to have a seeming prosperity, while the godly are in trouble, yet that is no act of love to them: for the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth ... All the seeming advantages which the wicked have in their own prosperity, are but means of hardening them in their ill course, and holding them fast in the bonds of their own iniquities, till God execute judgment on them: upon the wicked he shall rain snares ... Whatsoever be the condition of the wicked for a time, yet at length sudden, terrible, irresistible, and remediless destruction they shall not escape: fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest is the portion of their cup" (Commentary on the Psalms [Edinburgh: Banner, 1959], vol. 1, p. 51).

[2] "This is the second part of the psalm [Ps. 69]; wherein the prophet, as a type of Christ, by way of imprecation against his malicious enemies, prophesieth of the vengeance of God against all obstinate adversaries, and malicious persecutors of him, whether in his own person or in his members; and denounceth ten plagues, or effects of God’s wrath, to come upon them for their wickedness. The first whereof is this, God shall curse all the comforts of this life unto the obstinate adversaries of Christ, and of his followers: all these comforts shall serve to harden their hearts to sin, and lengthen their life therein, till they fill up the measure of their iniquities: let their table become a snare before them. The second plague is, all the means appointed for men’s conversion and salvation shall turn for the aggravating of their sin and just damnation: and as all things work together for the good of those that love God, so shall all things work for the woe and torment of God’s enemies: that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. The third plague is, they shall not perceive the true intent of God’s work, nor consider the day of their visitation: let their eyes be darkened, that they see not. The fourth plague is, there shall be no peace to the wicked, but as even in laughter their heart shall be sorrowful; so also their conscience for fear shall never dare to abide the light of the Lord’s word, to be examined by it; and even in their greatest prosperity they shall have perpetual secret fear, smother it as they will: make their loins continually to shake. The fifth plague is, the threatened wrath of God shall be fully executed against them, and never depart from them when it is once poured out: pour out indignation on them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. The sixth plague is, the curse of God shall be on their houses and posterity, and the place they have dwelt in shall be abhorred: let their habitation be desolate, and let none dwell in their tents" (A Commentary on the Psalms [London: Banner, 1959], vol. 1, pp. 419-420).

[3] "Whence [i.e., from Ps. 73:4-10] learn, to the wicked – God for His own holy ends useth to give health of body, long life, little sickness, and a quiet death ... yet God doth not love them, nor approve any whit more of them for this" (A Commentary on the Psalms [London: Banner, 1959], vol. 1, p. 446).

[4] "The last refuge of brangled faith, is God himself manifesting his will in his word and ordinances; no settling or satisfaction of doubts in divinity but by the Scriptures: it was too painful for me until I went unto the sanctuary of God [Ps. 73:16-17]; that is, till I consulted the Scriptures, and considered what God had revealed in his church by his ordinances: this satisfied and settled him. The Lord hath revealed in Scripture what shall be the end and close of men’s course, who study not to walk according to his direction, how prosperous soever they may seem to be; and because the felicity of men is not to be known by God’s outward dispensation of worldly comforts or crosses, therefore man’s end must determine the difference: then understood I their end" (A Commentary on the Psalms [London: Banner, 1959], vol. 1, pp. 451-452).

[5] "The wicked may for a time spring up, flourish in worldly prosperity, as here is presupposed; but this springing up and flourishing is of short continuance, and subject to sudden alteration: they spring up, and flourish as the grass. The end of the temporal prosperity of the ungodly, is perdition: they shall be destroyed for ever, yea, their very prosperity (by its fomenting their sinful lusts, and hardening their hearts against God’s word,) becometh a means to draw on their everlasting perdition, and that in God’s righteous judgment against those who have preferred earth to heaven, their bodily lusts unto the salvation of their souls and bodies: for, when the wicked spring up as grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever [Ps. 92:7]" (A Commentary on the Psalms [London: Banner, 1959], vol. 2, p. 369).

William Greenhill (1591–1671): "Choice accomplishments, with outward glory and greatness, are no arguments of God's grace, or God's special favour towards men. Heathens, and the worst of men, have had these; the prince of Tyrus, who blasphemously said he was a god, he sealed up the sum; he was a complete prince, he had choice endowments, he was full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, he had outward glory and greatness as much as any, he was seated in a paradise, he glistered with pearls and precious stones, he had as choice music as was to be had; yet notwithstanding all these, he was a wretched man, under the curse of God, and was to die the death of the uncircumcised. What vanity is it, therefore, to pride ourselves in any human excellences, to set our hearts upon, or confide in, any outward glory or greatness!" (An Exposition of Ezekiel [Edinburgh: Banner, 1994], pp. 618-619).

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661): “God save me from a draught of water without Christ! Peace and deliverance from the sword, without Christ and the gospel, are linked and changed to the curse of God … You may have the earth, peace, and the creature, and the devil to salt them to you with the curse of God. Judas had the bag at his girdle, but withal, the devil in his heart … All mercy—that is, graced mercy, is to be sought in Jesus Christ; every mercy is mercy, because it is in Christ” (The Trial and Triumph of Faith [Edinburgh: Banner, 2001], p. 105).

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680): "No man knows the heart of God stands toward him by His hand. His hand of mercy may be toward a man when His heart may be against that man, as you see in the case of Saul and others. And the hand of God may be set against a man when the heart of God is clearly set upon him, as you may see in Job and Ephraim. No man knows either love or hatred by outward mercy or misery; for all things come alike to all, to the righteous and the unrighteous, to the good and to the bad, to the clean and to the unclean. The sun of prosperity shines as well upon brambles of the wilderness, as fruit-trees of the orchard; the snow and hail of adversity light upon the best garden, as well as upon the stinking dunghill or the wild waste. Ahab’s and Josiah’s ends concur in the very circumstances. Saul and Jonathan, though different in their natures, deserts, and deportments, yet in their deaths were not divided. Health, wealth, honours, crosses, sicknesses, losses, are cast upon good men and bad men promiscuously. 'The whole Turkish empire,' says Luther, 'is nothing else but a crust cast by Heaven’s great Housekeeper to His dogs.' Moses dies in the wilderness as well as those that murmured. Nabal is rich as well as Abraham; Ahithophel wise as well as Solomon, and Doeg is honoured as well as Saul, as well as Joseph and Pharaoh" (quoted in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner, 1977], p. 227).

John Owen (1616-1683):

[1] "All mercy is special and purposive, and is the true source of the remission of sins–a thing about which no word occurs in the whole Bible and any passage dealing with those who do not have the benefits of the Word of God. Salvation is only in Christ. Even our opponents admit that Christ is not revealed in God’s works of providence! Considering that true mercy–published and revealed from the bosom of the Father by Christ–is the fount of all saving faith and repentance, we can distinguish this from all loose and mistaken concepts of ‘mercy’ displayed by the general work of God in providence; and, having done so, we gladly let the point drop, since we here have nothing to prove but the one great truth of mercy only in and through Christ" (Biblical Theology [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994], p. 74).

[2] "We know that time and again God allows worldly good things to pass to the very people that He hates, whom He has a fixed determination to punish, and whom He has declared to be reserved for eternal punishment and destruction. (Psalm 73:4-12, 18-20). Note carefully—things which are good in themselves, but bestowed in such a way as to make it impossible to determine whether they are given in love or in hatred, cannot reveal any facet of God's character. ('The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked: to the good and the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as to the good, so to the sinner,' Eccles. 9:1-2.) God gives good temporal things to the wicked. Why conclude that He is attempting to beguile them into realizing that He can be appeased? Far rather, as sovereign, He is fattening them for the coming day of slaughter!" (Biblical Theology [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1994], p. 78).

William Gurnall (1617-1679): "God forgives, then He gives; till He be merciful to pardon our sins through Christ, He cannot bless or look kindly on us sinners. All our enjoyments are but blessings in bullion, till Gospel grace and pardoning mercy stamp and make them current" (quoted in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner, 1977]).

Thomas Manton (1620–1677): "Oh! it is a sad thing not to have a name in Christ's prayer. There is a great number left out; and if you will know who they are, they are called 'the world.' It presseth us to come out of that state where we are in this danger. Men that are now worldly may be in the roll of God's election, but it is no comfort to them. 'I pray not for the world' [John 17:9]; so it is expressed; and as long as thou art worldly, thou canst take no comfort in Christ's intercession. Certainly this should be an effectual consideration with the people of God, to cause them 'to keep themselves unspotted from the world,' James 1:24. These have the benefit of Christ's prayers. A christian should never be quiet till he be clearly out of that number which is excepted. Christ hath a constant enmity and antipathy against mammon; there must be a separation from the world, and a contempt of earthly things, before we can have an interest in him. The world maketh a sport of these things; but what can be more terrible than to be shut out of Christ's prayers? He curseth those for whom he doth not pray; and that is the reason why men that are besotted with the world do always wax worse and worse" (An Exposition of John Seventeen [London: Banner, 1959] p. 146; italics added).

Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686):

[1] "It is ill with the wicked in this life. A wicked man that hears me will hardly think so, when he has the affluence and confluence of outward comforts. When he eats the fat, and drinks the sweet, he will hardly believe the minister who tells him that it shall be ill with him. But it is so. For is it not ill with that man that has a curse, yea, the curse of God hanging over him? Can that man thrive that lives under the curse of God? Floods of wrath hang over the head of a wicked man; he is heir to all the plagues written in the book of God. All God's curses are the sinner's portion, and if he dies in his sin, he is sure to have his portion paid him. Woe unto the wicked! Every bit of bread he has carries with it a curse; it is like poisoned bread given to a god. Every drop of wine he drinks, he swallows down a curse with it. Woe unto the wicked! There is a curse in his cup, and a curse upon his table. God says woe unto him. We read that Belshazzar 'drank wine ... and commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem ... and the king and his princes, his wives and concubines drank in them' (Dan. 5:2-3). Belshazzar was very jovial; in the midst of his cups he was merry. But woe unto the wicked! 'In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him.' Woe was written on the wall. Let a sinner live till he come to an hundred years of age, yet he is cursed. his grey hairs have a curse on them (Isa. 65:20)" (Sermons of the Great Ejection [London: Banner, 1961], pp. 126-127).

[2] "A wicked man has a civil title to the creature, but no more; he has it not form the hand of a father; he is like one that takes up cloth at the draper's, and it is not paid for; but a believer has a good title to every foot of land he has, for his Father has settled it upon him ... Esau had the venison, but Jacob got the blessing. While the wicked have their meat sauced with God's wrath, believers have their comforts seasoned with a blessing. Ps. lxxiii 30, 31:30, 31" (The Lord's Prayer [Edinburgh: Banner, 1999], pp. 13, 14).

[3] "Whatever we have, if it do not come in the way of prayer, it does not come in the way of love; it is given, as Israel's quails, in anger" (The Lord's Prayer [Edinburgh: Banner, 1999], p. 196).

[4] "They who can say, 'our Father,' can say 'our bread.' Wicked men that have a legal right to what they possess, but not a covenant-right; they have it by providence, not by promise; with God's leave, not with his love" (The Lord's Prayer [Edinburgh: Banner, 1999], p. 203).

[5] "Earthly things are no signs of God's love: he may give the venison, but not the blessing; but when he seals up forgiveness, he gives his love and heaven with it" (The Lord's Prayer [Edinburgh: Banner, 1999], p. 224).

[6] “If God lets men prosper a while in their sin, his vial of wrath is all this while filling; his sword is all this time whetting: and though God may forbear men a while, yet long forbearance is no forgiveness. The longer God is in taking his blow, the heavier it will be at last. As long as there is eternity, God has time enough to reckon with his enemies. Justice may be as a lion asleep, but at last the lion will awake, and roar upon the sinner. Do not Nero, and Julian [the Apostate], and Cain, now meet with God’s justice?” (A Body of Divinity [London: Banner, 1970], p. 90).

Francis Turretin (1623-1687):

[1] "... there is granted a manifold moderation in the exercise of [divine] justice either in time (by delay) or in persons (by transfer) or in degree (by mitigation) ... Justice demands necessarily that all sin should be punished, but does not equally demand that it should be punished in the very person sinning or at such a time and in such a degree … [God's justice] is an essential property requiring in its exercise and egress the intervention of [His] free will, to determine the mode, the time, the degree and the persons upon whom it wills to inflict punishment ... This is true of [divine] justice which indeed necessarily demands that every sin should be punished, but not that every sinner should be punished immediately (or in this or that degree)" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, pp. 236, 240; italics added).

[2] "The certainty of God’s grace cannot be gathered from the external state (whether prosperous or adverse–in which sense the wise man says, 'No man knoweth either love or hatred' [Ecc. 9:1], i.e., cannot know from external events which happen equally to the good and bad whether he is in the favor or under the displeasure of God) ... the wicked can and ought to know that they deserve hatred while they continue in their sins: and believers can know from faith and piety that they are the sons of God and consequently in his favor and love" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 337).

[3] "... the conservation of the world depends upon the conservation of the church, since for no other reason does he [i.e., God] sustain the world than to collect from it the number of the elect, of whom the body of the church is composed. Thus the church could not wholly perish without the world itself (which is preserved on account of her) perishing" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 3, pp. 42-43).

Matthew Poole (1624-1679):

[1] "And although God give children and other outward comforts to ungodly men in the way of common providence, yet he gives them only to his people as favours, and in the way of promise and covenant" (Comm. on Ps. 127:3).

[2] "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them; no man can judge by their present and outward conditions or dispensations of God’s providence whether God loves or hates them, for whom he loves he chastens, and permitteth those who he hates to prosper in the world. And this translation and interpretation agreeth well with the following verse" (Comm. on Ecc. 9:2).

John Flavel (1628-1691): "Forgiveness is not only a mercy, a spiritual mercy, but one of the greatest mercies a soul can receive from God, without which, whatever else we have from God, is no mercy to us" (The Works of John Flavel [Edinburgh: Banner, 1968], vol. 1, p. 369).

Thomas Halyburton (1674-1712): "If it be not in those few and rare instances of the early efficacy of sanctifying grace, all that which is looked on as good is really not more but the fruit of education, custom, occasional restraints, freedom from temptation, or perhaps a natural temper influenced by some of those, and by the constitution of the body, to somewhat of opposition to those grosser actings of sin which make the most noise in the world. In a word, whatever there is of this, except in the rare instances before-mentioned, is but sin under a disguise" (Faith and Experience [Aberdeen: James Begg Society, 2005], p. 21).

John Gill (1697-1771): "virtue in general here [is] not mere moral [virtue], but Christian virtues, which are the fruits of the Spirit of God, and of his grace; and differ from the other, in that they spring from the grace of God, are done in faith, by the assistance of the Spirit of Christ, and by strength received from him, and in love to him, and with a view to the glory of God; whereas moral virtues, as exercised by a mere moral man, spring from nature, and are performed by the mere strength of it, and are destitute of faith, and so but 'splendida peccata,' splendid sins, and proceed from self-love, from sinister ends, and with selfish views" (Comm. on II Pet. 1:5).

James Fisher (1697–1775):

Q.16. Why do we say, Give us our daily bread? – why do we call it OURS?
A. Because whatever measure or proportion of outward blessings God in his providence thinks fit we should receive is properly OURS, whether it be more or less, 1 Tim. vi. 8, – “Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.”

Q.17. Since both the godly and the wicked have their daily provision from God, what difference is there as to the manner in which the one and the other hold their outward comforts?
A. There is a wide difference as to the manner in which the godly and the wicked hold their outward comforts, whether we consider their respective right and title, their present employment, or their future expectation.

Q.18. What is the difference as to their respective right and title?
A. The wicked have only a civil and common right, but the godly have besides this a spiritual and covenant right also, 1 Tim. iv. 8.

Q.19. What is the difference as to their present enjoyment?
A. The godly have God’s blessing on what they presently enjoy, but the wicked his curse. In this respect “a little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked,” Psal. xxxvii. 16.

Q.20. What is the difference as to their future expectation?
A. The godly have the good things of this world as pledges of the far better things of another; but the wicked have them as their whole pay, for they “have their portion in this life,” Psal. xvii. 14.

Q.21. What should we pray for in order to have the comfortable use of the good things of this life which God may confer upon us?
A. That we may enjoy his blessing with them.

Q.22. Why is the blessing of God necessary to all our outward comforts?
A. Because, without this, none of them could reach the end for which they are used; our food could not nourish us, nor our clothes warm us, nor medicines, however skilfully applied, give any relief from our ailments, Job xx. 22, 23.
(The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained on Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. & A. 104)

Adam Gib (1714-1788):

IV. The mediatory kingdom of our Lord Jesus is not of this world, and this holds true concerning the same, absolutely or in all respects. Thus, though his mediatory kingdom is in this world and the things of it are things in this world, yet no outward things whatsoever, considered as things of this world or worldly things, can be justly looked upon as belonging to his Mediatory kingdom, or as belonging to Him upon a right of donation and purchase. Nor was such a donation and purchase either needful or competent to Him who is over all, God blessed for ever. But the gracious and supernatural ordering of outward material things unto gracious and supernatural ends in a channel of love and favour to his people, and with a subserviency to the purposes and glory of free grace in their salvation, all such ordering of these things, or these considered under the formality and in the channel of such gracious orderings, are of a quite different consideration, being not of this world (though in it) or not of a worldly nature. And thus, according to our [Westminster] Confession of Faith (Chap. 5:7), the providence of God, after a most special manner, takes care of his Church and disposes all things to the good thereof.

V. There can be no proper enjoyment of any benefits from Christ, as benefits of his mediatory kingdom, but in a way of communion and fellowship with Him, by faith. Thus, no common material benefits, as enjoyed by wicked men or unbelievers, can be looked upon as benefits of his mediatory kingdom, or as the fruits of his purchase. These material benefits, in the most general consideration thereof, do proceed from God as the great Creator and Preserver of the world, in which respect they are common to men and beasts. But more particularly, they always come to men in some Covenant-channel. They come to wicked men, or unbelievers, through the broken Covenant, in the channel of its curse. And so, whatever material goodness be in these things to them as suited to their fleshly nature, like the goodness thereof unto beasts, yet there is no spiritual goodness attending the same; no divine love, but wrath. Whereas on the other hand, these benefits come to believers through the Covenant of Grace in the channel of its blessing. And so they enjoy these benefits in a way of communion with Christ, as benefits of his mediatory kingdom.

VI. We are not to conclude that whatever belongs to Christ as Mediator is the matter of his purchase and the fruit of his death. Or, there are some things which belong to Him as Mediator and yet are not purchased by his death. Incarnation belongs to Him as Mediator, but He did not purchase the same. Nor did He purchase his mediatory offices, while all his purchase was made in his exercising one of these offices, with which the other two are inseparably connected. And in like manner, his exercise of these offices belongs not to the matter or fruit of his purchase. But all these things are to be considered as properly flowing from the sovereign transaction and agreement in the Counsel of Peace for bringing about his purchase and effectuating the ends thereof. Thus particularly, the outward dispensation of gospel ordinances, which belongs to the exercise of Christ’s prophetical and kingly offices, is not the purchase of his death. But all the gracious effects of these ordinances, or the saving benefits which flow in that channel as terminating upon his own people, are the purchase and fruits of his death unto them, while, with respect to others, they are not enjoyed, but rejected benefits.

VII. No things can be properly reckoned the purchase of Christ or the proper fruits of his death, but such things as the vindictive justice of God could not immediately admit of without a satisfaction. All venting of the love of God upon guilty sinners by receiving them into a state of pardon and favour, or all that immediately pertains to their salvation, with the glory of Christ and free grace thereby, all this belongs to the purchase of Christ and the proper fruits of his death, being what vindictive justice could not immediately admit of without a satisfaction. But vindictive justice could require or admit of no satisfaction in order to a preserving the natural world in its natural course after the fall, seeing that very justice in the curse of the broken Covenant necessarily required that preservation of the world for the production of the seed who had sinned and fallen in the first Covenant-head. And vindictive justice can require or admit of no satisfaction in order to the conferring of outward material benefits upon wicked men or of any outward benefits enjoyed by them, seeing their enjoyment of these benefits does not withdraw them from vindictive justice but leaves them under wrath and is actually cursed unto them through a channel of wrath, ripening them for destruction. So that vindictive justice leaves full room, in this case, for the exercise of divine wisdom, sovereignty and long-suffering, without requiring or admitting of any satisfaction in order thereunto. In a word, all doctrine about the shedding of Christ’s blood for any of these things in order whereunto vindictive justice did not, and could not, require or admit of a satisfaction, is at best but a doctrine about the vanity of his blood-shedding, and [is] injurious to the glory of that mystery.
(“Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom and Common Benefits” in The Present Truth: A Display of the Secession Testimony [Edinburgh, 1774], vol. 2, Appendix 2, Section 4, pp. 299-302)

Charles Bridges (1794-1869):

[1] "The Lord’s outward dispensation proved therefore neither his love nor his hatred [Ecc. 9:1-2] ... The inward work is the real demonstrative evidence. A large portion of outward prosperity may be dealt out to the wicked. (Ps. lxxiii. 2-12.) Yet where is the child of God who would envy this lot, or who would change for it the lowest experience of his Father’s love?" (Exposition of Ecclesiastes [Edinburgh: Banner, 1985], p. 213; italics Bridges').

[2] "The fool may seem to be spared from judgment. But his prosperity is his destruction. (Job, xxi. 11-13. Ps. lv. 19; lxxiii. 3-20. Jer. xii. 1-3. Luke, vi. 24, 25; xii. 16-20; xvi. 19-24. Jam. v. 1-5. Examples of Israel.—Deut. xxii. 15-25. Jer. xxii. 20-22. Hos. xiii. 6-9. Amos, vi. 1-6. Babylon.—Isa. xlvii. 7-9. Moab.—Jer. xlviii. 11-15. Sodom.—Ezek. xvi. 49. Tyre.—Ezek. xxvii. 2, 25-27.)" (A Commentary on Proverbs [Edinburgh: Banner, 1994], p. 12; italics Bridges').

Alexander Paterson: "We may here observe the difference with respect to the manner in which the righteous and the wicked hold their outward enjoyments. The title which the wicked have to outward enjoyments is only a common right, there being nothing in it to show that they are the Lord’s; whereas the right which believers have is a special right–a title founded upon the covenant, or it is a spiritual right which they have to daily bread. The wicked have their portion in this life; whereas godliness hath the promise, not only of this life, but also of that which is to come. The wicked have nothing but outward enjoyments; they want the blessing of the Lord on their basket and their store; whereas the righteous have his blessing along with what they enjoy; and this makes their comforts doubly valuable” (A Concise System of Theology [London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1869], p. 367).

William S. Plumer (1802-1880): "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places [Ps. 73:18]. In Moses’ last great sermon we have the same idea: 'Their feet shall slide in due time,' Deut. xxxii. 35; compare Ps. xxxv. 6. In Job xxvii. 7, 8; Ps. xc. 5, the same doctrine is taught, though in different language. Many parallel passages are found in the sacred writings given to the church before or during the time of Asaph. Surely, by some rendered only, as in v. 1; Ps. lxii. 1. Slippery places, literally slipperinesses, or smoothnesses. Set, in v. 28 and often rendered put. Here in Hebrew it is in the future, wilt set. See Introduction, § 6. The common version doubtless gives the sense. Thou castedst them down into destruction. Castedst, literally hast caused them to fall. Destruction, plural destructions, only here and in Ps. lxxiv. 3, where we read desolations. The latter rendering is followed by many. Their fearful elevation makes their fall the more dreadful. 'When the wicked spring as the grass, and when the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.' The ox is fattened for the slaughter" (Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks [Edinburgh: Banner, 1975], p. 81; italics Plumer's).

John Kennedy of Dingwall (1819-1884): "The third article in the Declaratory Statement [of 1892] is as follows:– 'That the doctrine of Man’s Total Depravity, and of his loss of "all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation," is not held as implying such a condition of man’s nature as would affect his responsibility under the law of God and the gospel of Christ, or that he may not experience the strivings and restraining influences of the Spirit of God, or that he cannot perform actions in any sense good; though such actions, as not springing from a renewed heart, are not spiritually good or holy, and consequently are not such as accompany salvation.” If by this it was intended to modify, or tone down, or to adapt to the taste of whole-hearted men, the Confession doctrine of man’s total depravity, then, however inconsistent this may be with the [Westminster] Confession of Faith, it is quite in harmony with the preceding articles in the Statement. Those who are enamoured of the doctrines of universal love, universal atonement, and universal grace, cannot receive in its entireness the Confession doctrine of sin. They cannot but be disposed to modify it. The state of feeling that disposes to the former must demand the latter. At first, the attempt to modify will be done with a trembling hand – first attempts will be marked by hesitancy and will not apparently go very far. This is the characteristic of the third article in the Statement. There is scarcely anything declared in it that does not seem to be said in the Confession. But why should it be deemed necessary to say that the Confession doctrine of Man’s Total Depravity 'is not held as implying such a condition of man’s nature as would affect his responsibility,' unless the authors of the Statement held that the depravity was not total, and that this was required in order to preserve the responsibility. The Confession has neither declared nor insinuated that rational life has not survived the fall, and its authors were wise enough to know that on this, and not on his spiritual condition, man’s responsibility rests. But the authors of the Statement could not see that the utter bondage of the will to sin does not impair the responsibility of him who is enslaved. Reason and conscience survive to act, and these, though spiritually corrupted, are the pillars on which man’s responsibility is placed. But what they dare not formulate in a plain statement, they insinuate in a hazy one – that there must be some reserve of spiritual power unaffected by, ere responsibility could survive, the fall. Why add that a man, notwithstanding of his depravity, may 'experience the strivings and the restraining influences of the Spirit of God'? Is this not as well, and more briefly said in the Confession, which declares that the non-elect 'may have some common operations of the Spirit'? Was the alteration intended as a step nearer to the doctrine of 'gracious ability' bestowed on all who hear the gospel? If not, why was it necessary to make the statement at all? And why was this followed up by another seeming repetition of the words of the Confession, in what is said about the actions of unrenewed men? The repetition here is, however, much less exact. The divergence from the language of the Confession here is manifestly intended to serve a purpose. There is a real and wide difference under the seeming correspondence. In the Confession all 'works done by unregenerate men' are declared to be 'sinful.' The authors of the Statement do not say so – they cannot, they dare not, say so, while saying that they may be in some sense 'good.' True, they say that they cannot be 'spiritually good or holy,' but still they declare that these actions are in some sense good. What a contrast they present in their Statement to what the Westminster divines have given us as their deliverance on this subject! The latter remembered that, when speaking of men’s actions, they were speaking of what must not be dissociated from the state of the heart out of which they spring. They would not, therefore, call the works of the unregenerate in any sense good. 'As to the matter of them,' they say that 'they may be things which God commands, and of good use to themselves and others; but because they proceed not,' they add, 'from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.' Such is the masterly deliverance of the Confession, and this is what is to be laid aside, in order to find a place for the crooked weakling, brought forth in the Declaratory Statement. The men who dared, to this extent, to modify the doctrine of the Confession, regarding total depravity, and who, in doing so, have shewn their incompetence, as well as indicated their Pelagian tendencies, will not stop short of removing more of what the Confession teaches regarding man’s ruin by the fall. Their successors may remove it all" (Signs of the Times [Scotland: James Begg Society, 2003], pp. 31-34).

Charles Ross (c. 1831–1892): “Not a blessing comes from the hand of a holy and just God, but comes through the mediation and intercession of his Son” (The Inner Sanctuary [London: Banner, 1967], p. 189). Since Christ only prays for His elect (Isa. 53:12; Zech. 1:12; Luke 22:32; 24:50-51; John 17:9; 24; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 2:16-18; 4:14-16; 7:24-25; 9:24, 28; I John 2:1), though God gives the reprobate wicked many good things in this life, there are no divine blessings for them.

"In his book Wat is de Hemel? (What Is Heaven?) [Klaas] Schilder [1890-1952] had already corrected Abraham Kuyper’s views on 'common grace.' During the press debate of the 1930s his criticism sharpened, as did the opposition from the side of those who loathed any criticism of Kuyper ... Also in scholarly addresses after the Second World War, Schilder concerned himself with the question of whether the expression common grace was theologically justifiable. Despite later criticism by Dr. J. Douma, I am of the opinion that Schilder correctly answered this question in the negative" (Jelle Faber, “Klaas Schilder’s Life and Work,” in Always Obedient [Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1995], pp. 9, 11).

Stephen Larson: "I have been following your articles 'He Shines in All That’s Fair' (Standard Bearer, March 15-May 15, 2002) with great interest, and as a believer in Jesus Christ find them most edifying. I would, however, like to offer a comment about the acceptance of this perverse doctrine of common grace. I would readily grant that we have seen the fruition of false doctrine come to its ugly head in the devastation of the Christian Reformed Church, and its uncritical acceptance of the doctrines of this world (and, conversely, the rejection of the true gospel of grace). I would also grant that common grace and the attendant doctrine of the 'free offer of the gospel' have made inroads and are generally accepted within conservative Presbyterian and Reformed Churches (one of which, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, I represent). And I believe that I have just reason to be concerned about the eventual effects of such inroads. Nonetheless, I do not believe that in our churches this doctrine has taken on the near-confessional status that it seems to have attained in the CRC. It is true that our General Assembly approved a report supporting the free offer of the gospel. Yet, in twenty-five years of ministry I do not recall ever hearing a question about common grace or the free offer during our presbytery exams. You may not fully appreciate this comment if your system for receiving ministers approximates that of the CRC, where the seminary is given the primary responsibility for examining candidates for the gospel ministry. In the OPC we give an exhaustive theological exam on the floor of presbytery for all candidates for the gospel ministry, often lasting many hours. If the free offer, or common grace, is an important doctrine, one would expect at least a question or two about them, and yet, I have heard none. Naturally, as an opponent of common grace, I do not always appreciate this. In fact, I think that an acceptance of common grace and its worst implications has led to our present controversy about the days of creation, for we argue on a less-than-biblical basis when we accept conclusions from non-Christian scientists. I would indeed like to see us take a clear and unequivocal stand against common grace and all that is implies. Keep up the good work!"

Dr. William Edgar: "Great as he was, I consider Kuyper’s movement to be a dead end for American Reformed Christians for both theological and political reasons. Politically, Kuyper worked within the bounds of a small continental European nation, with a homogeneous society and a political tradition that have little in common with the American Empire, an offspring of the British Empire. Theologically, Kuyper’s movement used a flawed concept of 'common grace' as the basis for cooperation between believers and nonbelievers in the public arena, a concept that continues to bear bad fruit both in the Netherlands and in churches of Dutch descent in this country, because it has been used to blur the antithesis between believer and unbeliever, and between Revelation and human efforts to grope for the truth" ("Reformed Systematic Theology Textbooks: Hand Maiden to the Enlightenment Privatization of Faith," Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal, vol. 2, issue 2 [Spring 2016], p. 8).

These quotations touch on various aspects of the common grace controversy and are not designed to imply that all these authors never make erroneous statements on this subject or that all their writings are always entirely consistent with themselves on this point.