William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 10 – Effectual Calling

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

X. Effectual Calling.

We believe that all whom the Father chose and the Son redeemed, (and no others,) are effectually called by the Holy Ghost,[1] and that the work of regeneration, faith and conversion to God is not an act of man’s free will and natural power, but of the almighty, efficacious and invincible grace of God.[2]

[1] Ps 110:3; Is 43:6,13; 49:9; Ez 16:6; Jn 6:37; Acts 2:37-39; Rom 8:29,30; Gal 1:15,16; Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13; 1 Thess 1:4,5; 1 Pet 1:2,3; 2 Pet 1:2; Jude 1
[2] Ps 64:4; Jn 1:12,13; 3:8; 4:44; Rom 9:15,16; 10:20,21; Col 2:12; Js 1:18; 1 Pet 2:9



Note 1.—The first part of this Article is designed to oppose the errors that God desires the salvation of all; that Jesus views with solicitude and sorrow the obduracy of those who do not yield to the warnings and accept the tenders of the Gospel; and that the Holy Spirit strives with every man to induce him to close with God’s easy terms, and be saved. These have been already referred to on pages 27-29, and are discussed in a Manual of Faith and Practice, pages 85, 99, 100.

The Spirit’s Operations in the Heart, the Cause of all, Spiritual Religion.

Note 2.—The second part of this Article is (with the exception of the alteration of the word “irresistible” into “invincible”)[1] transcribed from Dr. Gill’s Declaration of Faith and Practice. It boldly withstands the Arminian error called, “Free-Will,” by a plain and emphatic statement of the truth of God.

It accords with other recognized statements of belief. For example: “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to do any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so, as a natural man, being altogether adverse from that good, and dead in sin, he is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.” Westminster Con­ fession of Faith, Chap. ix. 3. Also transcribed verbatim et literatim into the Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689.

“The condition of man since the fall of Adam, is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, (that is ‘going before’ us,) that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will,” Book of Common Prayer, Articles of Religion, X. Of Free-will.

The Article before us is thus in strict harmony with the doctrinal standards of the Presbyterians, the early English Particular Baptists, and the Church of England.

Natural and Moral Inability.

Note 3.—The more thoughtful controversialists who engaged in the discussions which arose from Andrew Fuller’s notorious book, were wont to make a distinction between man’s natural inability and man’s moral inability to come to God by Christ. By natural inability they meant that men could not come if they would; by moral inability, that they would not come if they could. Natural inability is absence of power. Moral inability is absence of will.

The distinction, and the discussions which arose in connection with it, were doubtless originated by the Enemy of souls to divert men’s minds from the truth of God, that men are neither able nor willing to flee for refuge to the hope set before them in the Gospel, apart from the operation of the Spirit of God in their hearts.

To this the New Testament abundantly testifies. Natural inability is asserted in John 6:44,65. “No one is able (dunatai) to come to Me, except the Father which sent me draw him.” “No one is able {dunatai] to come to Me, except it (namely, power to do so) be given unto Him of the Father.

Moral Inability is asserted in John 5:40, Phil. 2:13, Rom. 9:16. “And ye are not willing to come to Me, that ye may have life,” (John 5:40.) “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to work, for (or, “on account of,”) His good pleasure.” We are passive and inoperative in spiritual things, and destitute of the will or power to be otherwise, till God operates in us, in accordance with “His pleasure,” in sovereign grace. (Phil. 2:13.) “So then, it is not of him that wiileth, or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” (Rom. 9:16.) Salvation is not originated by any action or determination of the sinner’s will, or by any effort in the direction of reformation or piety which he makes. It has its rise solely in the manifestation of Divine mercy.

Thus the young Christian may fearlessly assert that, apart from grace, men are neither able nor willing to turn to God for salvation.

The Spirit’s Operation a Mystery.

Note 4.—How the Spirit effects this work upon the souls of the elect cannot be discovered. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit,” (John 3:8.)

We may, however, rest assured that the effect is produced in a way consistent with man’s rational nature. No violence is done to the human mind in bringing it into harmony with the will of God. The Lord sends the rod of His strength out of Zion, and His people are made “willing in the day of power.” (Psa. 110:2,3.)

Note 6.—The different terms employed to describe the operations of the Spirit on the souls of elect and redeemed sinners,—regeneration, faith, conversion, &c., are discussed in A Manual of Faith and Practice, chaps, xiii. and xiv.

We beg young Christians to study the distinction between Regeneration (in which spiritual life is imparted) and Conversion (in which it manifests itself.) To use these words as if they were interchangeable is fatal to accuracy of thought.

We also entreat them to note that the faith of God’s elect is heaven-born. As a principle, it is “the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8; 2 Pet. 1:1.) As an act, it is performed through the grace of the Holy Spirit operating upon the quickened soul of the child of God. (Phil. 1:29; Col. 2:12)[2]

[1] For the reason, see A Manual of Faith and Practice, page 09.
[2] Books recommended on the subject of this Article are Skepp’s “Diviue Energy,” edited by Upton; Hussey’s “God’s Operations of Grace, but No Offers of Grace.”

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
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