VI. Is justifying faith the effect and the mere gift of God alone, who calls, illuminates, and reforms the will? and is it peculiar to the elect alone from all eternity?
VI. Can that be called a mere gift which, though offered by the pure liberality of Him who makes the offer, is still capable of being rejected by him to whom it is offered? But does a voluntary acceptance render it unworthy of the name of a gift? It may likewise be asked, |Is faith bestowed on these who are to be saved? Or is salvation bestowed on those who have faith?| Or can both these questions be answered affirmatively in a different respect? If they can, how is it then that there is not in those decrees a circle, in which nothing is first and nothing last?
ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
A double question requires a double answer. (1.) To the first I reply, Faith is the effect of God illuminating the mind and sealing the heart, and it is his mere gift. (2.) To the second I answer, by making a distinction in the word Election. If it be understood as signifying Election to salvation; since this, according to the scriptures, is the election of believers, it cannot be said, |Faith is bestowed on the elect, or on those who are to be saved,| but that |believers are elected and saved.| But if it be received for the decree by which God determines variously to administer the means necessary to salvation; in this sense I say that Faith is the gift of God, which is conferred on those only whom He hath chosen to this, that they may hear the word of God, and be made partakers of the Holy Spirit.