January 30, 2008

Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) on General Grace

Again, what is he which knoweth not, that the grace of God, which is otherwise undivided, is divided and distinguished according to the diverse operations which it worketh? For there is in God a certain (as it were) general grace, whereby he created all mortal men, and by which he sendeth rain upon the just and unjust: but this grace doth not justify; for if it did, then should the wicked and unjust be justified. Again, there is that singular grace, whereby he doth, for his only-begotten Christ his sake, adopt us to be his sons: he doth not, I mean, adopt all, but the believers only, whose sins he reckoneth not, but doth impute to them the righteousness of his only-begotten Son our Saviour. This is that grace which doth alone justify us in very deed. Moreover there is a grace, which, being poured into our minds, doth bring forth good works in them that are justified. This grace doth not justify, but doth engender the fruits of righteousness in them that are justified. Therefore we confess and grant, that good works belong to grace, but after a certain manner, order, and fashion.
Heinrich Bullinger, "3rd Decade, Sermon 9," in The Decades of Henry Bullinger, ed. Thomas Harding (Cambridge: The University Press, 1850), 329–330.

Note his reference to Matthew 5:45 when he speaks of a "general grace." He then distinguishes "general grace" from that grace which justifies and sanctifies.

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