13. What is meant by "common grace," and how may it be shown that the Spirit does operate upon the minds of those who are not renewed in heart?
"Common grace" is the restraining and persuading influences of the Holy Spirit acting only through the truth revealed in the gospel, or through the natural light of reason and of conscience, heightening the natural moral effect of such truth upon the understanding, conscience, and heart. It involves no change of heart, but simply an enhancement of the natural powers of the truth, a restraint of evil passions, and an increase of the natural emotions in view of sin, duty, and self-interest.
That God does so operate upon the hearts of the unregenerate is proved, 1st, from Scripture, Gen. vi. 3; Acts vii. 51; Heb. x. 29; 2d, from universal experience and observation.
14. How does common differ from efficacious grace?
1st. As to its subjects. All men are more or less the subjects of the one; only the the elect are subjects of the other, Rom. viii. 30; xi. 7; 2 Thess. ii. 13.
2d. As to its nature. Common grace is only meditate, through the truth, and it is merely moral, heightening the moral influence natural to the truth, and exciting only the natural powers of the soul, both rational and moral. But efficacious grace is immediate and supernatural, since it is wrought directly in the soul by the immediate energy of the Holy Ghost, and since it implants a new spiritual life, and a capacity for a new mode of exercising the natural faculties.
3d. As to its effects. The effects of common grace are superficial and transient, modifying the action, but not changing the nature, and its influence is always more or less consciously resisted, as opposed to the prevailing disposition of the soul. But efficacious grace, since it acts not upon but in the will itself, changing the governing desires, and giving a new direction to the active powers of the soul, is neither resistible nor irresistible, but most free, spontaneous, and yet most certainly effectual.
Monday, June 14, 2010
A.A. Hodge on Common Grace
A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (1866), pp. 337-338: