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John Humfrey (1621-1719) on Common and Special Grace

August 13, 2009

Humfrey:

Having gone thus far in abasing the strength of nature, we shall find how they [Arminians] make it up again, with advancing an universal Sufficient grace, by the help of which lever of free will of man shall be lifted into the same throne, from whence before they threw it down. For when that grace which they set up, must be such as only gives a next power to believe and repent if we will, but leaves the will undetermined and uninclined, and this being supposed to be vouchsafed to all according to the condition they are in, whether Elect or Reprobate alike, it is apparent that man’s free will by the cooperation of this grace, or refusal, is that which begins, or puts by his own justification, and consequently makes the difference (in the upshot) between him that is saved, and him that is damned…

Now what my thoughts are on this, I have offered as I pass; and more particularly, at the end, upon he first head of Election. There is  universal Grace consistent with Special Grace of God’s Elect: or inconsistent with it.  The former, I shall like to have well explained. The latter, I take to be against St. Augustine, and the Scriptures. The Grace of God is without, or within us. There us the Love, or Good-will of God to Mankind, “who would have all to be saved”: Our Redemption by Christ; The remedying Covenant; The Gospel. This is Grace without, and that some Grace there us then sufficient, and universal, that yet has no Effect on the most, is out of doubt. There is moreover, that Grace which lies in the Help, or Assistance of the Spirit within, and the Fruit of it (Gratia Auxiliatrix, & Infusa) and this our Divines do distinguish unto Common and Saving. By Common, they understand not the universal sufficient assistance of the Schools before, but some particular Operation of the Spirit effecting so much as it is given for, only because those Effects reach no farther than what is Common to the Elect and Reprobate, they call such Help or Grace only Common Grace. Thus far we are safe; As for any Grace besides all this, if there be any, not opposing Electing Grace, I shall be glad to hear it; but my own mind, I perceive, hangs thus.

John Humfrey, The Middle-Way in One Paper of Election & Redemption, With Indifferency between Arminian & Calvinist, (Printed for T. Parkhurst, at the Three Bibles in Cheap-side, 1673), 36 and 37. [Some reformatting; bracketed insert mine; some spelling modernized, extended Latin quotation not included; underlining mine.]

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