A LETTER To a Gentleman On that QUESTION, Whether Saving Grace be different in Species from Common Grace, or in Degree only?

By Experience Mayhew, A. M.

BOSTON: N. E. Printed and Sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green in Queenstreet, 1747.

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IN Compliance with your Desire, in which some others of my worthy Friends have joined with you, I now send you my Tho'ts on a Question which you have proposed to me. And this I do, not only that I may gratify you and them; but also because I think the Question proposed to be of very considerable Importance; and am in Hopes that a just Answer to it may be of some Service.


Whether COMMON and SAVING GRACE do SPECI­FICALLY DIFFER one from the other, or GRADU­ALLY only?

Now, Sir, This Question needs not to have, much said for the Explanation of it.

By Grace here (waving all other Acceptations of the Word) I understand that which is QUALITATIVE, or such QUALIFICATIONS freely given by God to Men, as they are made the better by.

By common Grace, I understand such as Persons may be made the Subjects of, and yet never be saved: But by sav­ing Grace, I understand such Gifts or Qualifications only, as those who shall be eternally saved, are made Partakers of.

[Page 6]By the differing of these two specifically one from the other, I understand their differing as Things of differing Natures or Kinds do, as Silver and Gold &c. But by their differing gradually only, I intend their differing only as Things of the same Nature or Kind may do in Quantity; and thus a great deal of Silver or Gold differ­eth from a little: Or in Degree; and thus one Man has a greater Degree of Strength or Wisdom than another, tho' of the very same Kind.

Thus, Sir, I understand your Question; and I think that a due Resolution of it depends very much upon a right Answer to another, namely, Whether Mankind have by their first and great Transgression in Adam, their common Head, wholly lost all their Power to perform any Acts of Obedience unto God in a gracious or truly holy Manner, so as not to be able to worship or serve the blessed God, or pursue the great End of their Being, without God's giving them new Powers? For if this be Man's Case since the Fall, then I think such Grace must be bestowed on him, in order to his Recovery out of this Condition, as will in some Measure restore the Powers he has lost, and as will put him in a Capacity to serve God acceptably, and of enjoying a happy Communion with him: But if, on the other Hand, Mankind have not lost the Power above described, tho' it should be granted that they are become disinclined unto Good, and prone and disposed to sin against God, so as to stand in need of powerful Motives to excite them to their Duty, yet they need not such a Kind of Grace, as on the other Supposition they do, but moral Grace (as some call it) or moral Swa­sion will suffice.

And now, Sir, being perswaded that Mankind have by their Fall lost all their Power to perform Actions that are spiritually good and holy, or of living unto God in such a Manner as they should do, they must, I think, in [Page 7] order hereunto have another Kind of Grace given to them, than on the contrary Supposition they can be justly sup­posed to need.

My Answer therefore to your Question is, That there is a specifical Difference between common and saving Grace, and they differ not gradually, or in Degree only.

But because it is generally acknowledged among us, that Man has by his Fall lost all his Power to serve God in a gracious and holy Manner; and because I hope that you, Sir, be not in Doubt of this, I shall in a Manner take the same for granted; yet I shall, for the Sake of others say something for the confirming of it in a few short Hints, which will cast some Light on it.

Let it be observed,

1. That the Punishment threatned in the Covenant of Works, which God at first entred into with Mankind in Adam, Genesis 2.16, 17. while in Innocency, did un­doubtedly comprize spiritual Death in it, and [...] consisted in Man's Loss of the Image of God, in which he was created, Gen. 1.26, 27. Man's Life, before the Fall, consisted in his Integrity, or Uprightness, Eccles. 7.29. God made Man upright.

2. The Death threatned in the first Covenant accord­ingly seized on all Adam's Posterity, (in the Way of ordi­nary Generation) as appears in Rom. 12.19. 1 Cor. 15. 21, 22. Job 25.4. and Chap. 14. 4. Psal. 51.5. with which Texts do well agree the Words of our Saviour in Joh. 3.6. That which is born of the Flesh is Flesh.

3. All Mankind are accordingly since their Fall, re­presented as spiritually dead, Eph. 2.1. Col. 2.13. 2 Cor. 5.15. If one died for all, then were all dead: But that Christ died for all is in the next Words affirmed, ver. 16.

4. One Thing intended by Mens being dead in Sin is their being without Strength, Rom. 5.6. For when we were yet without Strength, in due Time Christ died for [Page 8] the Ungodly. Now by this, Man's utter Inability to know and serve God in a spiritual Manner is intended, as ap­pears in Rom. 8.6, 7, 8. For to be carnally minded is Death, but to be spiritually minded is Life and Peace: Because the carnal Mind is Enmity against God; for it not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the Flesh cannot please God. To the same Purpose is that, in 1 Cor. 2.14. But the natural Man receiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God: for they are Foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. With those Places the Words of our Saviour do well agree, in Luk. 6.43, 44. For a good Tree bringeth not forth corrupt Fruit; neither doth a corrupt Tree bring forth good Fruit; for every Tree is known by his own Fruit; for of Thorns Men do not gather Figs, nor of a bramble Bush gather they Grapes.

5. It is evident that Man's Power to do well, which he lost by his Fall is (in Part) restored to him in his Re­generation. Of this we are plainly informed in Scrip­ture, as in 1 Joh. 3.9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit Sin; for his Seed remaineth in him; and he cannot Sin because he is born of God. Also in Chap. 5. 4. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the World. Compare with these Texts, Eph. 2.10. For we are his Workman­ship created in Christ Jesus unto good Works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. And Chap. 4.23, 24. And be renewed in the Spirit of your Mind. And put on the new Man which after God is created in Righteousness and true Holiness. The same, in Effect, we have in Ezek. 36.26, 27. and Deut. 30.6.

Thus it appears, that Sinners must have new Powers given them, before they can in a holy Manner live unto God as they should do; and that moral Suasion cannot supply what is wanting unto this End.

[Page 9]These Things being premised, I shall proceed now, Sir, to offer, the Reasons of my Opinion in the Point un­der Consideration. And they are such as here follow.


My first Reason is from the great Improbability of the Supposition I oppose, viz. that those whom God eternally saves, have no Qualifications, by him bestowed on them, which are in their Kind any better, than those bestowed by him on many that he suffers to die in their Sins and perish for ever. He is supposed indeed to give unto those whom he saves larger Measures of Grace of the same Kind than he gives to those that die in their Sins, but not Things that are in their Nature at all better. How contrary is this to that spoken to such as were supposed truly to be­lieve, Heb. 6.9. But, Beloved, we are perswaded better Things of you, and Things that accompany Salvation, tho' we thus speak. By better Things, we must here under­stand such as are better than God bestows on any whom he does not save, and better than those just before mentioned in Verses 4, 5, 6. How good soever they may seem to be.

Here I would ask (1) Is it at all credible that God be­stows no better inherent Endowments upon those he free­ly justifies by his Grace thro' the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ, and reconciles to himself, than on those who remain in a State of Condemnation, and have the Wrath of God abiding on them for ever? (2) Again, Is not that Grace which is bestowed on those that are saved, bestowed unto this End, that they may be there­by made meet for the Inheritance of the Saints in Light? And if so, can we think that this is of no better a Kind than God often bestows on those who will be the Monu­ments of his Wrath for ever? Can we, I say, think it likely that God bestows no Gifts, in their Nature and [Page 10] Kind, better on the former of these, than on the other? The very Supposition of this, carries so much Absur­dity in it, that it seems strange to me that any will try to defend it. Indeed, I my self think, that God does not qualify any with saving Holiness before he justifies them: But that he never bestows any better Kind of Grace on those whom he saves, than he bestows on some that pe­rish, but only different Degrees of Grace of the same Kind, I at present think not. I believe that God bestows a better Kind of Grace on those whom he eternally saves, than that Sort which Sinners may, or may not, receive in vain, 2 Cor. 6.1.


My second Reason to prove a specific Difference be­tween common and saving Grace, I shall take from some plain Intimations which we have of such a Difference in several Texts of Scripture. Such a Difference is in­timated or imported in 1 Cor. 2.14, 15. But the natural Man receiveth not the Things of the Spirit of God; for they are Foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judged all Things, yet he himself is judged of no Man. So again in Colos. 1.9. That ye might be filled with the Know­ledge of his Will in all Wisdom and spiritual Understanding. Again, in Prov. 9.10. The Fear of the Lord is the Begin­ning of Wisdom; and the Knowledge of the Holy is Under­standing. Thus saving Faith is called the Faith of God's Elect, Tit. 1.1. no Doubt to shew that this is a Faith of a different Kind from any which the Non-Elect may have. For the like Reason we read of Faith that worketh by Love, Gal. 5.6. and that purifieth the Heart, Act. 15. [...]. Thus also the giving a Cup of cold Water unto a Person in the Name of a Disciple, or because he belongs to Christ, is spoken of as an Action in its Nature gracious or holy, Ma [...]. 9.41. Thus also the gracious Nature of Peter's [Page 11] Faith, was by our Lord taken Notice of, Math. 16.17. Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona, for Flesh and Blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven. With which please to compare, Joh. 1.13. For this Pur­pose also I think is that, Zech. 7.5. When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh Month, even those seventy Years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? Also that, 1 Cor. 10.31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or what­soever ye do, do all to the Glory of God. Persons may be by common Grace excited to perform Things that are ma­terially Good, and yet not exercise saving Grace in their Performance of them. Thus the Offering of Cain and Abel were not in their Nature alike. Heb. 11.4. By Faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent Sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained Witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his Gifts, and by it he being dead, yet speaketh.


My third Reason is because it appears by Scripture, that God works in a very different Manner in the Production of saving Grace, from the Way of his Working in the Production of that which is common: As I suppose there is a great Difference in Respect of Nature or Kind between common and saving Grace, so the Way of God's working in the Production of these is very different.

This may be cleared up by considering the Way of God's working in the Production of each of these severally.

And, first, I will begin with the Way of God's work­ing saving Grace.

Now it appears by Scripture that this Kind of Grace is wrought by an immediate Act of God's Power, and so in a Way supernatural. This I think is plainly asserted, Joh. 1.13. Where we are told concerning true Believers, that they were born, not of Blood, nor of the Will of the Flesh, but of God. They are not begotten & born by any [Page 12] natural Means, or human Power, but according to the Will of God, and by his Power only. And thus are all true Saints born of God, and none but such, Joh. 3.3. & Ver. 5. And 1 Joh. 3.9. and Chap. 5.1. Now in being thus begotten and born they must needs be wholly passive: They do not make themselves new Creatures, it is God makes them such by his Spirit in the Day of his Power, by breathing spiritual Life into their Souls, Ezek. 37.4. Or in other Words by putting his Spirit into them, and causing them to live, Ver. 14. Which well agrees with what God says, Ezek. 36.26, 27. A new Heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony Heart out of your Flesh, and I will give you an Heart of Flesh. And I will put my Spirit with­in you, and cause you to walk in my Statutes, and ye shall keep my Judgments and do them. With which Words of God, those also well agree, in Ver. 37. Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them. God's thus changing Men's Hearts is spoken of as a Work of his mighty Power, Eph. 1.19, 20. Even the exceeding greatness of his Power to­wards them that believe, according to the working of his mighty Power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the Dead, and set him at his own right Hand in the heavenly Places. Those thus by God wro't upon and changed, are said to be created a new by him, and to be new Creatures, in Eph. 2.10. For we are his Workman­ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works, which he hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. Again, in Chap. 4.23, 24. And be renewed in the Spirit of your Mind; and put on the new Man which after God is created in Righ­teousness and true Holiness. Such a Work of God on his Soul, David prayed for, Psal. 51.10. Create in me a clean Heart, O God; and renew a right Spirit within me. All that are in Christ have such a Change in them 2 Cor. [Page 13] 4.17. Therefore if any Man be in Christ, he is a new Crea­ture; old Things are passed away, behold all Things are be­come new. Or such a Work as this, that is intended, 2 Thes. 1.11. called a fulfilling in Men all the good Plea­sure of God's Goodness, and the Work of Faith with Power.

Thus of the Way of God's working special saving Grace in Mens Souls, in which he in part restores those Powers to them, which, by their Apostacy from him, they lost.

I will now proceed, secondly, to consider the Way of God's working in the Production of common Grace, or of his Bestowment of it on such as are indued with it: And with Respect to this, it is no where said in Scripture, that God does it by such an Act of his Power, as that by which he gives saving Grace: We are indeed in the Scriptures informed, that he does greatly enlighten, convince and reform many, whom he never savingly converts, as in Heb. 6.4, 5, 6. And that he does bestow a temporary Faith on them, Math. 13.20, 21. and Luke 8.13. compared. We are also informed how much the Lives of such as have no other than common Grace may be reformed, and yet that such may fall away and perish, 2 Pet. 1.29, —22. And so also in Math. 12.43, —45. With which that also agreeth, in Ezek. 18.24,—26. And which contains the Sum of what is in these Texts said, viz. That a Man that is made righteous so far as common Grace can effect it, may again fall away or turn from his Righte­ousness, and by that Means fail of saving Grace, and perish for ever.

Now altho' that common Grace, which I have thus described, be wro't by the Word and Spirit of God, as really as that which is saving, is, yet being a Work of a different Kind, and wro't by a different Kind of Opera­tion, from the other, it is not saving Grace, nor ought to be so called, in the same Sense with the other.

[Page 14]Now I suppose that the Way of God's working this common Grace is by moral Swasion only: I know not how to prove the contrary to this. But by moral Swa­sion here, called by some, moral Grace, I do not under­stand external Means only, but those strivings of God's Spirit also, which unregenerate Sinners may enjoy, and resist and quench, and be utterly deprived of, as appears from Acts 7.51. 1 Thes. 19. Isai. 63.10. and Gen. 6.3.

To be sure it does not appear there is any such Work of God in the conferring of this Grace on Sinners, which may be lost, as there is in the working of that which I call saving. And as the Operations of God differ by which those two Sorts of Grace are produced, so the Kinds of Grace differ that are wro't by them.


That saving Grace differs specifically from that which is common, appears, fourthly, from the Names by which it is called in the Scriptures, being such as belong to the Thing so called, whether its Degrees are great or small, even to the lowest as well as the highest.

Thus saving Grace is in Scripture called Wisdom in an appropriate Sense. So in Prov. 9.10. The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom, and the Knowledge of the Holy is Understanding. And Prov. 2.5, 6. Then shalt thou understand the Fear of the Lord, and find the Know­ledge of God. For the Lord giveth Wisdom, out of his Mouth coming Knowledge and Undestanding. And in Verses 10.11. When Wisdom entreth into thine Heart, & Know­ledge is pleasant unto thy Soul, Discretion shall preserve thee, Understanding shall keep thee. And again, in Chap. 4.7. and Jam. 3.17. But the Wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality and with­out Hypocrisy. This Wisdom is true Grace, by which Men are made wise unto Salvation, 2 Tim. 3.15. Again, [Page 15] This Kind of Grace is called the Seed of God, 1 Joh. 3.9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit Sin; for his Seed remaineth in him; and he cannot Sin, because he is born of God. This is also called God's Image, Eph. 2.10. and the divine Nature, 2 Pet. 1.4. So it is called Holiness, that without which no Man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12.14. It is also called the Spirit of God and of Christ, Rom. 8.9. and the Spirit absolutely, in Gal. 5.17. And a new Heart and a new Spirit, Ezek. 36.26, 27. and a new Creature, Gal. 6.5. This I take also to be called the Water of Life, Joh. 4.14. But whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the Water I shall give him, shall be in him a Well of Water springing up into ever­lasting Life. So also in Joh. 7.38. He that believeth in me as the Scripture hath said, out of his Belly shall flow Rivers of living Waters.

By these Texts I understand neither Jesus Christ him­self nor imputed Righteousness, but the inherent Graces of the holy Spirit. The same I take to be intended by the Kingdom of God which true Believers are said to have within them, Luk. 17.21. This tho' it be often small at first like a Grain of Mustard Seed, yet it always remains and grows, 1 Joh. 3.9. Matth. 17.20.

Thus the Names by which saving Grace is called in Scripture, shew it to be of a different Kind or Species from common Grace. The Graces given to those that perish are never called by such Names, and in such a Man­ner as they are given to saving Grace.


My fifth Reason is because the Promises of eternal Life and Blessedness in the Scriptures made unto such as have saving Grace, are made unto them without Respect to any certain and prescribed Degree of Strength so or so increased &c. That such as are endued with saving Grace are under Promises of everlasting [Page 16] Mercies, I here take for granted, as being what I sup­pose you, and others with whom I am now concerned, acknowledge. Nor can that well be called saving Grace, unto which a Promise of Salvation is not made. But it does not appear that God promising Salvation to such as are endowed with saving Grace, does fix on any certain Degree of it, unto which he confines the Benefits he in­tends. No: God in his Promises speaks of such gra­cious Qualifications absolutely, as Things in their Nature, such as that whosoever have them, have a Right by his Promises unto his everlasting Mercies, yea, and are in Part possessed of them. Thus we are told in Joh. 5.24. He that heareth my Word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting Life, and shall not come into Condemnation; but is passed from Death unto Life. So in 1 Joh. 3.14. We know that we have passed from Death unto Life, because we love the Brethren. He that loveth not his Brother abi­deth in Death. God does not tell us, that he that has a true Faith in Christ, or Hope or Trust, &c. shall have eternal Life, provided these Graces are of a sufficient Strength; but assures us that those that have them, are blessed, and shall be eternally saved. So in Joh. 6.40. And this is the Will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting Life: and I will raise him up at the last Day. See also Psal. 2.12. Blessed are all they that put their Trust in him. So in Jer. 17.7. Blessed is the Man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose Hope the Lord is.

It is our having true Grace, without Regard to the Degree of it, that is the Evidence of our Right to a fu­ture State of Glory. If we have Faith & Holiness, with Respect to the Nature of them, true, we shall be saved, how low soever the Degree of them be. If the Seed of God be in us, it will remain in us for ever, 1 Job. 3.9. Tho' it be but like a Grain of Mustard Seed, it will grow [Page 17] and flourish. Mat. 13.31, 32. Tho' at present the good Work of God be but begun, yet it will certainly be car­ried on, by the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Hence that in Phil. 1.6. Being confident of this very Thing, that he which hath begun a good Work in you, will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ. Such as have true Grace, are kept by the Power of God thro' Faith unto Salvation. 1 Pet. 1.5. So true is that spoken of our Saviour, Isai. 42.3. A bruised Reed shall he not break; and the smoaking Flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth Judgment unto Truth.


I argue here also, sixthly, from the virtue and efficacy ascribed in Scripture to saving Grace, and no other, to prove that it differs in the Nature of it from common Grace. Thus we are told in 1 Joh. 3.9. that such as are born of God and have his Seed in them, cannot commit Sin: that is, they cannot Sin as unregenerate Persons do, viz. live in Sin as Persons under the Dominion of it, and sin unto Death. Of such we are accordingly told in Chap. 5th of the same Epistle, Ver. 4. that they all of them overcome the World by that Faith of which they are the Subjects; which cannot be a common Faith, but a saving Grace of God's Spirit. The same Kind of Faith is said to purify the Heart, Act. 15.9. and to work by Love, Gal. 5.6. Of the same Kind of Faith we are also told, in 1 Thes. 12.13. that it worketh effectually in them that believe; i. e. it always does so. All that have Faith of this Kind may truly say, as in 2 Cor. 3.18. But we all with open Face beholding as in a Glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same Image from Glory to Glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Of such Persons as have this Kind of Grace, that al­ways holds true, Prov. 4.18. But the Path of the Just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and move unto the perfect Day. Such may indeed fall into Sin as it were [Page 18] by Surprize, and be overcome by very powerful Temp­tations; but if they fall, they will rise again, and will grow in Grace, and get more spiritual Strength. Hence that in Job 17.9. The Righteous also shall hold on his Way, and he that hath clean Hands shall be stronger and stronger. But what is here said, cannot be affirmed of Persons that have the highest Degrees of common Grace. This is evident in Heb. 6.4, 5, 6.


My seventh Reason for what I here maintain is, that if the contrary be supposed to be true, several great Ab­surdities will follow; (1) That a Person may have a real Work of Grace wrought in his Soul, in its Nature or Kind saving, and yet be still in an unregenerate State, not born of God, because he has not so great a Degree of Grace, as is supposed to be necessary to that End. Thus a Person that hath some Degree of true Faith & Holiness, must yet be denominated an Unbeliever, and an unholy Person; and a Person that has a Love to God and Christ really true as to the Kind of it, is still to be accounted an Hater of God and Christ, because his Love is no stronger: How absurd is this! (2) It followeth on the Hypothesis opposed, that a Person endowed with true Grace, and so sanctified in Part, may yet remain unjusti­fied, and under the Wrath and Curse of God. I would inquire, What would become of such a Man, should he die? Would he be deprived of his low Degree of Holiness at his Death, and so be sent to Hell? Or might he go to Heaven, tho' not justified in his Life? (3) It will fol­low, either that a Person not justified may die well, and go to Heaven; or that a Person in Part sanctified, hav­ing some Degree of true Holiness, may utterly lose or fall from it, and so perish for ever. But will either of these be allowed? (4) It will follow, that no Man can be assured of his Salvation from his experiencing a Work [Page 19] of God on his Soul, which is in the Nature of it saving; and such as Persons savingly united to Jesus Christ, have wrought in them; because he has not such high Degrees of Holiness as are supposed to be required to prove that Persons are in a State of Grace. May a Doctrine on which such Absurdities will follow, be received as true.


I argue here eighthly for what I hold, from the great Difficulty of Christians obtaining Assurance of their good. Estate, if the Difference betwixt common and saving Grace were only gradual, and not specifical. That a comfortable Assurance of our good Estate is both necessary and attainable, is I think generally believed among us: and the same seems also evident from Scripture; as in 1 Pet. 1.10. 2 Cor. 13.5. Gal. 6.4. 2 Tim. 4.6, 7, 8. And 2 Cor. 1.12. But now, if Persons cannot be assured of the Goodness and Safety of their Estate, from their being endowed with Grace of any Kind whatso­ever, tho' as good in the Nature of it as any ever have given to them; but still the Goodness of their Estate depends on the Measure and Degree of the Grace be­stowed on them; it seems to me exceeding difficult, on this Supposition, for a Person to obtain a well grounded Assurance that his State is good: For tho' such a Per­son finds, on Self-Examination, that he is really endowed with Faith in Christ, Love to God, Hope & Confidence in his Mercy &c. which are good as to the Kind of them, as any that are described in Scripture, and as the best Saints are the Subjects of, and does not at all call this in Question; yet the same Man may still remain in great Fears that he is not yet passed from Death unto Life, as in Joh. 5.24. because he is yet under Doubts that his Graces are not yet so strong as they must be in order to the Change of his State. ‘I find, says such a Saint, that I truly believe in the Son of God, and trust in [Page 20] his Name, and repent of my many Sins against him; but I know not whether these Graces which I have in my Heart, are sufficient in their Degrees to evidence my State to be safe and happy; nor do I know how I shall be resolved in this Point.’

This now seems to be a difficult Case on the Suppo­sition impleaded; and in order to a Soul's having Satis­faction with Respect to it, it seems necessary that he be certainly informed what that Degree of Grace is which is evidential of a Man's Right to the everlasting Mer­cies of God, promised in the Covenant of Grace; and by what Rules he may come to know whether he have obtained such Degrees, or not. But this seems to be a Thing attended with much Perplexity; because the Scriptures, so far as I can see, say nothing about it: They indeed shew that Men must have true Grace, as Faith, Re­pentance, the Fear of God &c. in order to their knowing their State to be good; but they say not a Word of any certain Degrees of Strength their Graces must be of, before they may look upon themselves as born again, and as having a saving Interest in Jesus Christ; and as being pardon'd and justified, &c. Thus, if the Goodness of Mens States depended on the Strength of their Graces, and not on the Truth or Rectitude of them, the Children of God would be involved in very great Difficulties.


My ninth Argument to prove a specifical Difference betwixt common and saving Grace is, because we can shew wherein that Difference does consist. It might be true, that there is such a Difference betwixt these, tho' we were not able to shew wherein that Difference lies: but if this may be discovered, it will be from hence evi­dent that there is indeed such a Difference, because that which is not cannot be known.

[Page 21]Now because it seems very natural to ask him who asserts such a Difference betwixt Things, wherein that Difference consists? I think it will be proper for me to attempt an Answer to this Inquiry, in order to the fur­ther evidencing of what I assert, tho' I acknowledge there is a considerable Difficulty in it.

And to this End I shall (1) briefly declare wherein I suppose common Grace consisteth. (2) Wherein I suppose saving Grace consists. And then (3) Endeavour to dis­cover wherein the critical Difference betwixt these two lieth.

1. I conceive that common Grace consisteth in such Qualifications and Actions as Sinners not yet born of God or of the Spirit, may be the Subjects of, being favoured with the outward Means of Salvation, and such Aids and Influences of the Holy Spirit, as Persons yet in an unregenerate State, may have granted to them.

I suppose that by these, without what in this Dis­course I intend by the saving Influences of the Holy Spi­rit, there may be, a very considerable Change wrought in sinful Men, in which they have Favour shewn them; as appears in Heb. 6.4, 5, 6. and in 1 Pet. 2.20. and many other Places. Such Qualifications I call common Grace; and if Men were not made the better by them, I know not why they should be called by so good a Name. Thus I comprehend in what I call common Grace, whatsoever may be any Ways good, useful, or commenda­ble, of which such as may be in an unregenerate State may be the Subjects, by what Name soever the same may be called, as Knowledge, Faith, Repentance, Righteous­ness, Love, Zeal, &c. And I could easily shew, that com­mon Grace is in Scripture frequently called by such Names as these, if there were need of it; and also that many that are not savingly converted, are the Subjects of such Things or Graces.

[Page 22]2. By saving Grace I mean a special Kind of Good­ness or Holiness; such as is intended when we are told, that Holiness is that without which no Person shall see the Lord, Heb. 12.14. Of such Grace or Holiness as this, I suppose no Man can be a Subject but what is born of the Spirit, and become a new Creature, or has a new Heart given to him, and a new Spirit put within him, or, in other Words, is created anew in Christ Jesus unto good Works, Eph. 2.10.

Now Grace, understanding by it what is peculiar to such as these, is nothing else but Man's Conformity to God's Image and holy Law: And when we speak of this, we may distinguish betwixt the Holiness of Men's Hearts, and the Holiness of their Actions, as our Saviour distin­guishes betwixt the Goodness of the Tree and its Fruit, Luk. 6.43.

And here by the Holiness of a Man's Heart, I under­stand that Rectitude of Soul, by which he is able or disposed and inclined, to act after a gracious or holy Manner, being again endowed with the Image of God, which he lost by his Fall, according to that in Eph. 4.23, 24. And by the Holiness of a Man's Life, I here intend all those good and holy Actions which he performs, and which flow from that Principle of Grace, which in his Regeneration he is endowed with.

These two are plainly distinguished in the Scriptures, as in Eph. 2.10. and in Ezek. 11.19, 20. and Chap. 36.26, 27. Nor are there any Actions in a strict Sense holy, but what flow from a Principle of Grace or Holiness in the Heart. I shall now proceed to shew,

3. What the critical Difference is betwixt the two Sorts of Grace, under Consideration. And to this I say, That the Difference betwixt them does, in my Opinion, chiefly consist is this, that saving Grace, even the low­est Degree of it, does receive and entertain Things of [Page 23] a spiritual Nature, with Approbation, Pleasure and Delight, on Account of the intrinsick Excellency of them; which common Grace cannot do. That by saving Grace, spiritual Objects are thus received, I think very evident; nor is the Reason of this less plain. When a Person is endued with what is called the Seed of God, and the divine Nature, he can immediately taste and relish the Sweetness of spiritual Objects, and find an inward Pleasure and Delight in them. Such a Soul can taste that the Lord is good and gracious, as in Psal. 34.8. and 2 Pet. 2.3. The Hearts of the Regenerate are changed into the Likeness of such Things as are spi­ritually Good, and so cannot but delight in them. Such are transformed into the Image of God and Christ; as 1 Cor. 15.49. and Rom. 8.29. and so cannot but love them; as in 1 Joh. 5.1. Similitude in this Case must needs be the Cause of Affection. Such therefore, love God and his Law, and his People that bear his Image, and all the good and holy Things that appertain to his House and Worship; and find great Satisfaction in them: As in Psal. 64.4. and Psal. 36.8. and 84.10. Such do eat that which is Good, and their Soul delighteth itself in Fatness, Isai. 55.3. They sit under Christ's Shadow with great Delight, and his Fruit is sweet unto their Taste. (Cant. 2.3.) The Law of God's Mouth is better to them than Thousands of Gold and Silver, Psalm 119.72. They delight in it after the inner Man. It is sweeter to them than the Honey or the Honey Comb, Psal. 19.10. & 119.103. It is impossible but that Persons in a State of Grace should thus perceive the sweetness of Heavenly Things, when their Hearts are become holy like the Things which they are here supposed to love and delight in. Of such therefore God is the exceeding Joy, (Psal. 43.4.) And unto such, Christ is precious, 1 Pet. 2.7. The Divine Nature which they have in them, cannot but acquiese in Things that [Page 24] are Divine. And they may with Peter, truly say, Lord, thou knowest all Things; thou knowest that I love thee, Joh. 21.17.

But it is far otherwise with Persons in a State of Nature. The carnal Mind is Enmity against God, Rom. 8.7. It is wholly opposite to God and Goodness; and therefore until this is in Part taken away, it is impossible that a Sinner should at all delight himself in the Almighty, or chuse the Things that please him. Job 27.10. He can taste no real inward Pleasure in spiritual Things, as such. A Prin­ciple of self Love may move and excite an unregenerate Person to do many Things that are materially Good; and he may have some Joy in Things that are spiritual on Ac­count of some Benefit he thinks he may receive by them; (Mat. 13.20. Isai. 58.2.) But he has no Delight in them as good in themselves, or as Things that have the Image of God stamped on them. Yea, by self-love a Person in a State of Nature may be excited to desire, and pray for, true Grace and Holiness, being convinced that he must be damned if he have them not. Deep Convic­tions of the Reality of a future State of Rewards and Punishment, may excite in carnal Hearts a Desire to ob­tain the one and escape the other: A Man's crying out— What shall I do to be saved! is therefore no evidence that he is a new Creature. His desires of good Things are not really for the Sake of God and Goodness, but out of Love to himself only: Nor has such a Concern, the least Spark of true Holiness in it; yet it may be beneficial to the Subject of it, as it excites him to seek to God for that which is indeed saving Grace or true Holiness.

Nor is there any such Thing as a Man's being in Part, and but in Part regenerate; because he that has the lowest Degree of true Holiness, is, with no more than that, a true Saint, born of God, and one that has the Seed of God in him; and He that has began the good Work in him, will perfect it to the Day of Christ, Phil. 1.6.

[Page 25]If a Man may have some Degree of true Holiness in him, (which is spiritual Life, a divine Nature, and the Image of God) and yet remain in an unregenerate State, as not having Grace enough to denominate him a Child of God, or so much as a Babe in Christ; I desire to know whether he is not as yet also wholly unjustified; being unregenerate? And whether he must be damned, if he die in such a State; and so go to Hell with some Degree of true Grace in his Soul? If not, whether his Justification is not also gradual, as his true Grace is? And where such an one goes when he dies, i. e. to Heaven or Hell? or to Purgatory, as Roman Catholicks teach; because they hold our Justification to be gradual, as our Sanctification is; in which Robert Barclay, a noted Quaker, agrees with them.

But such an Opinion seems to me very disagreable to the Doctrine of Protestant and reformed Churches, who generally hold that tho' our Sanctification be gradual, yet our Justification is perfect at once. If any think there be o­ther Things besides that which I have mentioned, where­in the Difference betwixt common and saving Grace appeareth, I am content that such as please should enu­merate them; but I think that which I have named is sufficient to shew their Difference: And I do not know but that such other Things as may be named, may be comprised in that which I have mentioned.

And now, Sir, having, according to the best of my Abilities, answered your Question, I crave your Accep­tance of my Endeavours to serve you. I hope I have sufficiently proved that there is a real Difference be­twixt common and saving Grace, in Respect of their Nature, and not in their Degree only. And had I not thought that this was necessary to be understood and be­lieved, I should not have been so willing to present you [Page 26] with this Essay of mine. I cannot but think that the Doctrine of original Sin, and that of special Grace in the Conversion of Sinners, have much Countenance given to them by the Truth I here maintain. That great Truth maintained by our Lord, Joh. 3.6. namely — That which is born of the Flesh is Flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, is, I think, hereby explained and vindicated. I wish you and my other Friends, that see and read these Lines, may thro' the Grace of God, receive some Advantage by them; which will recom­pence the Pains of,

Your humble Servant, Experience Mayhew.
[Page 27]


IT is by some objected against that which I have in this Letter pleaded for; that since it cannot be true, that Mankind have by their Fail, suffered any Alteration in the Nature or es­sential Powers of their Souls, it is not possible that they should have lost that Power to know, love and serve God, which all allow they were in their first Creation endowed with. But, as yet, I see no suf­ficient Reason to oblige me to grant the Consequence of what is here supposed to be true. For I know not why we may not conceive, as many have done, that Man's Power before his Fall, to know, love and serve God, in such a Manner as has been ex­pressed, was not, strictly speaking, of the Essence of his Soul, tho' concreated with it. And since it appears plainly to have been lost by the Fall, this seems to make it very evident, that it was not of it's Essence, but something superadded to it, as an Ornament and Priviledge of it. On this Supposition, the Image of God in which Man was created, (Gen. 1.26, 27.) did not consist wholly in his Nature, or Essence, but partly in superadded Powers to enable him to perform the Duties which God required of him, and which were necessary unto that End. Which Powers are, I suppose, [Page 28] implied in that Integrity or Uprightness in which Man was made, Eccles. 7. Now if this may be granted, Man may well be supposed to have lost and forfeited these Powers by his Apostacy from God, and Rebellion against him. It much favours this Hopothesis, that the Image of God which Man is supposed to have lost in his Fall, appears plainly to be restored in his Regeneration. Eph. [...].10. and Chap. 4. 23, 24. Also in Ezek. 36, 26, 27. Joh. 1.13.

Thus also it seems evident that as Man, so also the Angels that sinned, lost by their Fall, their Power to live unto God, and serve him, in such a Manner as by the Law of their Creation they were obliged to do: And yet I think they are not supposed to have lost any Thing of their Essence, or any Pow­ers properly essential to them; but their Holiness, or the Rectitude of their Natures only, consisting in those good Qualities with which they were, in their Creation endowed. As to Men, their carnal Minds are Death, Rom 8.7. even the same threat­ned in Case of Sin, Gen. 2.16, 17. And the fallen Angels, without losing any Thing of their Essence, are no better than fallen Men.


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