God will not deny his grace to any one who does what is in him.
This Article is so naturally connected with those which precede it, that he who grants one of the three, may, by the same effort, affirm the remainder; and he who denies one may reject all the others. They might, therefore, have spared some portion of this needless labour, and might, with much greater convenience, have proposed one article of the following description, instead of three: |It is possible for a man to do some good thing without the aid of grace; and if he does it, God will recompense or remunerate that act by more abundant grace.| But we could always have fastened the charge of falsehood upon an article of this kind. It was, therefore, a much safer course for them to play with equivocations, that the fraud contained in the calumny might not with equal facility he made known to all persons.
But with respect to this article, I declare that it never came into our minds to employ such confused expressions as these, which, at the very first sight of them, exclude grace from the commencement of conversion; though we always, and on all occasions, make this grace to precede, to accompany, and to follow; and without which, we constantly assert, no good action whatever, can be produced by man. Nay, we carry this principal so far as not to dare to attribute the power here described, even to the nature of Adam himself, without the help of Divine grace, both infused and assisting. It thus becomes evident, that the fabricated opinion is imposed on us through calumny. If our brethren entertain the same sentiments, we are perfectly at agreement. But if they are of opinion that Adam was able by nature, without supernatural aid, to fulfill the law imposed on him, they seem not to recede far from Pelagians, since this saying of Augustine is received by these our brethren: |Supernatural things were lost, natural things were corrupted.| Whence it follows, what remnant soever there was of natural things, just so much power remained to fulfill the law -- what is premised being granted, that Adam was capable by his own nature to obey God without grace, as the latter is usually distinguished in opposition to nature. When they charge us with this doctrine, they undoubtedly declare, that in their judgment, it is such as may fall in with our meaning; and, therefore, that they do not perceive so much absurdity in this article as there is in reality; unless they think that nothing can be devised so absurd that we are not inclined and prepared to believe and publish.
We esteem this article as one of such great absurdity that we would not be soon induced to attribute it to any person of the least skill in sacred matters. For how can a man, without the assistance of Divine Grace, perform any thing which is acceptable to God, and which he will remunerate with the saving reward either of further grace or of life eternal? But this article excludes primary grace with sufficient explicitness when it says, |To him who does what is in himself.| For if this expression be understood in the following sense: |To him who does what he can by the primary grace already conferred upon him,| then there is no absurdity in this sentence: |God will bestow further grace upon him who profitably uses that which is primary;| and, by the malevolent suppression of what ought to have been added, the brethren openly declare that it was their wish for this calumny to gain credence.