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Samuel Davies (1723-1761) on Common Grace

August 7, 2009

Davies:

1) Further, Let us improve our account of spiritual life, to inform us of a very considerable difference between a mere moral and spiritual life; or evangelical holiness and morality. Spiritual life is of a divine original; evangelical holiness flows from a supernatural principle; but mere morality is natural; it is but the refinement of our natural principles, under the aids of common grace, in the use of proper means; and consequently it is obtainable by unregenerate men. Hence the same act may be differently denominated, according to the principles from which it proceeds; that may be a piece of mere morality in one, who acts from natural principles only, which is an act of holiness in another, who acts from a principle of spiritual life. So an alms, when given from a gracious principle, and for Christ’s sake, is a gracious act; but when given from a principle of natural generosity only, it deserves no higher name than that of mere morality. A mistake in this is a rock we may tremble to look at, and ought anxiously to avoid! for alas! how many have been dashed to pieces upon it! Samuel Davies, “The Divine Life in the Souls of Men Considered” in Sermons on Important Subjects (New York: Robert Carter, 1845), 2:397. [underlining mine.]

2) Here, by the by, I would make a remark to vindicate this dreadful instance of the execution of divine justice, Which is more liable to the cavils of human pride and ignorance than perhaps any other. The remark is, that God may justly inflict privative as well as positive punishment upon obstinate sinners; or, in plainer terms, he may with undoubted justice punish them by taking away the blessings they have abused, or rendering those blessings useless to them, as well as by inflicting positive misery upon them. This is a confessed rule of justice; and it holds good as to spirituals as well as temporals. May not God as justly take away his common grace, and deny future assistance, to an obstinate sinner, who has abused it, as deprive him of health or life? Why may he not as justly leave him destitute of the sanctified use of the means of grace he has neglected and unimproved, in this world, as of the happiness of heaven, in the World to come? This is certainly a righteous punishment: and there is also a propriety and congruity in it: it is proper and congruous that the lovers of darkness should not have the light obtruded upon them; that the despisers of instruction, should receive no benefit from it; that those who improve not what they have, should have no more, but should lose even what they have. Thus their own choice is made their curse, and their sin their punishment Samuel Davies, “The Guilt and Doom of Impenitent Hearers,” in Sermons on Important Subjects (New York: Robert Carter, 1845), 3:464. [underlining mine.]

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