by William Perkins
Right Worshipful, it is a thing most evident that the present religion of the Church of Rome is an enemy to the grace of God, two ways. First, because it exalts the liberty of man's will and extenuates the grace of God, and this it does in five respects. For first of all, it teaches that natural free will of man has in it not only a passive or potential but also an active power or imperfect strength in duties of godliness, and so much the less power is ascribed to the grace of God. This doctrine of theirs is flat against reason. For the will of man in itself is a natural thing, and therefore it is neither fit nor able to effect any supernatural action (as all actions of godliness are) unless it be first of all (as they say) elevated above his condition by the impressions of a supernatural habit. And the Scripture is utterly against this doctrine when it says, "Ye were once darkness" (Eph. 5:8). We are not sufficient of ourselves, to think anything of ourselves (2 Cor. 3:5). The natural man—that is, he that wants the Spirit of God—cannot perceive of the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). You were dead in sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:1), without Christ and without God in the world (v. 12). Again, Scripture says further that the heart of man is slow (Luke 24:25) and vain (Ps. 5:9) and hard that cannot repent (Rom. 2:5) and stony (Ezek. 36:26); and that the Jews were obstinate, their neck as an iron sinew, and their brow brass (Isa. 48:4); and that it is God who gives eyes to see and a heart to understand (Deut. 29:4). By these testimonies it is manifest that grace does not only help and assist our weak nature, but altogether change the perverse qualities thereof and bring it from darkness to light (Acts 26:18) and from death to life (Eph. 2:1). Which grace whoever does not so far forth acknowledge never yet knew what the gospel means, neither did he ever consider the words of our Savior Christ: "No man comes to me, unless the Father draw him" (John 6:44). Prosper, the scholar of St. Augustine, has a notable saying, which I marvel the Papists of our time do not consider. "We have, says he, "free will by nature, but for quality and condition it must be changed by our Lord Jesus Christ."
Table of Contents
To the Right Worshipful, Sir Edward Dennie, Knight
A Treatise on God's Free Grace and Man's Free Will