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This grace God owes to no one. For what could He owe to man? Who has given Him first that he might be repaid?1 What could God owe to one who has nothing of his own but sin and falsehood? He, therefore, who receives this grace owes and renders eternal thanks to God alone. He who does not receive this grace, however, either does not care at all for these spiritual things and is pleased with what he has, or in false security vainly boasts that he has what he does not have.2 Further, about those who outwardly profess their faith and amend their lives we are to judge and speak in the most favourable way,3 according to the example of the apostles, for the inner recesses of the heart are unknown to us. As for those who have not yet been called, we should pray for them to God, who calls into existence the things that do not exist.4 But we must by no means act haughtily,5 as if we had distinguished ourselves from them.

1 Rom 11:35.

2 Amos 6:1; Jer 7:4.

3 Rom 14:10.

4 Rom 4:17.

5 1 Cor 4:7.


ARTICLE 16

MAN’S WILL NOT TAKEN AWAY BUT MADE ALIVE

Man through his fall did not cease to be man, endowed with intellect and will; and sin, which has pervaded the whole human race, did not deprive man of his human nature, but brought upon him depravity and spiritual death.1 So also this divine grace of regeneration does not act upon men as if they were blocks and stones and does not take away the will and its properties, or violently coerce it, but makes the will spiritually alive, heals it, corrects it, pleasantly and at the same time powerfully bends it.2 As a result, where formerly the rebellion and resistance of the flesh fully dominated, now a prompt and sincere obedience of the Spirit begins to prevail, in which the true, spiritual renewal and freedom of our will consists. And if the wonderful Maker of all good did not deal with us in this way, man would have no hope of rising from his fall through this free will, by which he, when he was still standing, plunged himself into ruin.

1 Rom 8:2; Eph 2:1.

2 Ps 51:12; Phil 2:13.


ARTICLE 17

THE USE OF MEANS

The almighty working of God whereby He brings forth and sustains this our natural life does not exclude but requires the use of means, by which He according to His infinite wisdom and goodness has willed to exercise His power.1 So also the aforementioned supernatural working