Watson: On Grace


Richard Watson (1781-1833) was an Arminian theologican. This is the entry on Grace in his Dictionary. 

This word is understood in several senses: for beauty, graceful form, and agreeableness of person, (Proverbs 1:9; 3:22). For favour, friendship, kindness, (Genesis 6:8; 18:3; Romans 11:6; 2 Timothy 1:9). For pardon, mercy, undeserved remission of offences, (Ephesians 2:5; Colossians 1:6). For certain gifts of God, which he bestows freely, when, where, and on whom, he pleases; such are the gifts of miracles, prophecy, languages, &c, (Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 3:8, &c). For the Gospel dispensation, in contradistinction to that of the law, (Romans 6:14; 1 Peter 5:12). For a liberal and charitable disposition, (2 Corinthians 8:7). For eternal life, or final salvation, (1 Peter 1:13).

In theological language grace also signifies divine influence upon the soul; and it derives the name from this being the effect of the great grace or favour of God to mankind. Austin defines inward actual grace to be the inspiration of love, which prompts us to practise according to what we know, out of a religious affection and compliance. He says, likewise, that the grace of God is the blessing of God’s sweet influence, whereby we are induced to take pleasure in that which he commands, to desire and to love it; and that if God does not prevent us with this blessing, what he commands, not only is not perfected, but is not so much as begun in us.

Without the inward grace of Jesus Christ, man is not able to do the least thing that is good. He stands in need of this grace to begin, continue, and finish all the good he does, or rather, which God does in him and with him, by his grace. This grace is free; it is not due to us: if it were due to us, it would be no more grace; it would be a debt, (Romans 11:6); it is in its nature an assistance so powerful and efficacious, that it surmounts the obstinacy of the most rebellious human heart, without destroying human liberty.

There is no subject on which Christian doctors have written so largely, as on the several particulars relating to the grace of God. The difficulty consists in reconciling human liberty with the operation of divine grace; the concurrence of man with the influence and assistance of the Almighty. And who is able to set up an accurate boundary between these two things? Who can pretend to know how far the privileges of grace extend over the heart of man, and what that man’s liberty exactly is, who is prevented, enlightened, moved, and attracted by grace?

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