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Vanderkemp on Common Grace

September 24, 2007

Nor ye neither, who with “Herod do many things,” Mark 6:20, and the Jews “have a zeal for God,” Roms 10:2. But are these good things better than heathenish and Socinian, civil and externally religious virtues, consisting in a forsaking of evil, and doing good externally, without any change or regeneration of the heart? things which do not accompany salvation, which men can do from a natural conscience and by common grace, like Abimelech, Gen. 20:4,5,6. But ye do not perform them from a principle of the life of regeneration, nor from an union of our souls with Jesus, as the true vine: “to be dead to yourselves, and to live in God with Christ is hidden from you,” Col. 3:3. If ye knew this, and endeavoured to practise it, ye would see experimentally your inability to do good, and your inclination to do all wickedness, and would be concerned. 1:76.

Finally, we distinguish the providence of God is that by which he shows favour, from a common good-will to all his creature; yea to the ungodly as well as to the godly: “God makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust,” Matt. 5:45. The special providence of God is that by which God, as a Father in Christ, from a special good-will, provides believers with all things: “God is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe,” 1 Tim. 4:10. See Psalm 83. God gives in the least gift to himself, and his Son to believers, as his children and heirs: but he withholds himself from others, although he gives them also many gifts, as we give a beggar an alms from a common good inclination to him, but do not unity ourselves to him, do not take him into our home, or make him our heir object here, as though he were our child. 1:218-219.

For (a) God suffers occasions to occur to the sinner, which are in themselves good, but which the sinner abuses by his sinfulness, as Abel’s acceptable sacrifices to Cain, Joseph’s dreams to his brethren, the request of Moses to Pharaoh, that he would let Israel go, as also the word of grace to reprobates, Roms 2: 4,5; 2 Cor. 2:15, 16. (b) God also withholds his restraining grace, whereupon the sinner indulges himself in sin, as “when the Lord forsook Hezekiah, his heart was lifted up,” 2 Chron. 23:31. God does not sin, when he acts thus, since he is not bound to bestow his grace upon man, in order that he may not sin. 1:221.

Because, when they [men] enjoy any favourable dispensation of providence, they forget God, they forsake him, and fight against him with his blessings, and employ them as “weapons of unrighteousness, saying to God, Depart from us, and what has the Almighty done?…. 1:226.

Johannes VanderKemp, The Christian, Entirely the Property of Christ, in the life and death, Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997). First published in 1717.

About 10 years ago I read VanderKemp’s 2 volume sermons/commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. I pulled these from my notes (I always write my notes in the back of the books I read where and when I can).

I will try and get around to posting his copious comments on the free offer when I can. He speaks very warmly and forthrightly on the free offer, clearly saying that God wills the salvation of all sinners.

David

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