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Vermigli on the Free Offer

September 2, 2007

1) Now let us see by what means god works so excellent good things un us. First he offers the promises of these things, secondly, by his inspiration by the opening the heart, that those promises may be admitted: which never find place in us; for man’s heart is stubborn and resists spiritual things; and therefore there is need of continual ministry in the church. For it is the duty of pastors, to lay before the people the promises of God, & not only to urge the same with words, but also to seal the same by sacraments, which are certainly visible words. But first of all their part is to remove two impediments, which chiefly lead men away from the promises of God. For on the one part, men think they cannot attain to the promises of God, because they be unworthy of them: here ought a faithful minister diligently to persuade & teach, that these things are freely bestowed by God, not through works, or for any worthiness of the receivers. On the other part, men are wont to doubt, whether themselves, by election of God, be excluded from these promises, or no: here must they teach, that it is the part of the faithful people to receive the promises of God generally, as they taught us in the Holy Scriptures, by the Spirit of God; and that they ought not to be very inquisitive of the secret will of God. For undoubtedly, he would have revealed & declared who be the chosen & reprobate, he had known that the same should be profitable to salvation.

Wherefore, seeing that the Scriptures reject none particularly from the promises, every man ought to harken unto them, as if they should particularly pertain to himself. And certainly, together with faith, there will be a persuasion of the Spirit, given unto the believers; so as they shall not be in any doubt, but that they verily pertain unto the elect…

But this one thing we seem to have affirmed, which as yet is not proved by the Scripture; namely, that God does not only by his mere grace and good will offer the promises, which we have now spoken of; but that he also by his Spirit bends our heart to receive them…

But men are wont to say, and commonly boast, that the grace of God is laid forth to all men; wherefore if the same be not embraced, the fault is in ourselves, for that every man may attain to it if he will. This could we must rid away, by some sort short discourse. Indeed we may grant, that after this sort, grace is set abroad unto all men; because the general promises of God are offered and preached to indifferently to all men. Neither do the preachers, which publish those promises, stick anything about the secret will of God, or else think this with themselves; ‘Peradventure this man is not predestinate;’ or ‘I shall further nothing by my travail’: they imagine no such thing, but they propound the word of God to all men generally. But this means the grace and calling of God may be said to be common unto all men. Albeit, when as any man receives the promises of God offered, he does it not by his own power or will…

Peter Martyr, “Of Grace,” in The Common Places, trans., and compiled by Anthonie Martin, 1583, part 3, pp., 49-50 and 51.

2) But some man will say God by the prophet Jonah, said it should come to pass, that the city of Nineveh should be destroyed, and that after 40 days. And by Isaiah the Prophet h showed unto Hezekiah the king, that he should dye: which things yet came not to pass as they were foretold. Yet also the Lord himself in Jeremy the 18. Chapter thus speaks, “if any man speak of any kingdom; or nation, to root it out and to destroy it and they in the meantime repent, I also will repent me. And on the other side, if I shall speak to plant, and to build any kingdom or nation, and they in the meantime behave themselves wickedly, I will not perform these things which I have spoken. But we answer, that the promise whereof Paul here speaks depends not of any condition, as do a great many promises of the law, unto which pertain these threatenings which are now alleged yea the Apostle himself sufficiently expressed, of what kind of promises he speaks when he says, “By faith, that it should be of grace.” For if it consist freely, then hangs it not on any condition, or supposition, and by this means the promise can in no case be made frustrate. This may the easier be understand by a similitude: If a physician should by taking of any medicine promise health, but yet upon this condition, that he would have for his pains infinite sums of money, & that the sick person should observe a very hard diet, a poor man might easily answer that that promise of health is vain, both for that he has not the money to pay, and also for that being weak he is not able to observe the diet which is prescribed him. But contrariwise, if a man promise a medicine which he will give freely, neither requires any work of the sick person, but only that he would drink, or some other way receive his medicine, this promise is easily made firm. So undoubtedly stands the case here: the promise is offered unto us, and that freely. For only is of us required, that by faith we receive it. And this bus the first principal point, whereupon depends the certainty of the promise: namely, for that the promise consists of the Word of God, and is offered freely.

Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Most learned and fruitful Commentaries of D. Peter Martir Vermilius Florentine, Professor of Divinity in he School of Tigure, upon the Epistle of S. Paul to the Romans: wherein are diligently & most profitably entreated all such matters and chief common places of religion touched in the same Epistle, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Daye, 1558), 91[b]-92[a].

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Flynn permalink
    September 29, 2007 12:23 am

    Updated with new Vermigli quotation on the free offer (see above).

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