November 30, 2014

Anthony Palmer (c.1618–1679) on Mistaking Common Grace for True Grace

Take you heed also, that you take not that which is called Common-Grace, which is Common to Reprobates, for true grace. There's a false faith, a false Repentance, a false Hope, and so of the rest, in which you may assuredly go to Hell; you may have a harmless conversation, and do some good works of Charity and yet perish for ever, you may have nothing of the New-Creature in you; and yet give all your goods to the poor.

In a word, you may leave outward gross sins, have convictions of wrath to come, have purposes, (such as they are) to be better, take up to New-Duties, have common grace, think you have faith, repentance, hope that you are humble, patient, have a good conversation, and do good works; and yet not be New-Creatures in Jesus Christ, as we shall further evince.
Anthony Palmer, The Gospel New-Creature (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, at the Crane in Pauls Church yard, 1658), 198–199. He also affirms common grace on pages 183, 191, 203, and 204–205.


Note: By "true grace," the Puritans mean a grace that is lasting, or that special grace of God that changes the heart unto eternal life. Here is how the Puritan Elnathan Parr explains the difference:
There are three sorts of men [that] go to Hell: 1. Such as continue in sin; a man need no great skill to read their doom. 2. The second are such, who have only a show of Religion, these are Hypocrites. 3. Such who have true grace, but it is temporary and continues not. A man may have true grace without salvation, but no true saving grace. True grace is then saving when it continues.

This distinction of grace is gathered out of the Hebrews, where Paul saith, That a man may be enlightened, partake of the Holy Ghost, and taste of the good word of God, and of the powers of the life to come, and yet be a cast-away. Now such graces were true, but temporary: So the stony and thorny ground had true grace, but not continuing, which is the note of good ground.
Elnathan Parr, A Plaine Exposition Upon the Whole Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelth Chapters of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans (London: Printed by George Purstowe for Samuel Man, dwelling in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Swanne, 1620), 421–422.


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