Ephesians 5:14: Do Those spiritually Dead Have the Ability to Arise?

Thus briefly we consider this forth difficulty to have been loosed. But from the response to the same just now given a fifth Question spontaneously arises, which I enumerated in § 1 as worthy of careful consideration, namely, In what manner the spiritually dead are able to be made mindful to awake and arise? I respond, 1.  the divine commandments and admonitions are not the measure of our strength, but they show us our appropriate duty, even if we have lost the strength to fulfill it in Adam.  2.  In the resurrection of the dead to natural life we find that the Lord everywhere also makes use of His resounding voice, Mark 5:41; Luke 7:14; John 11:43, while nevertheless these dead men, as long as they be such, were in no way able to hear or understand that voice.  It is not so strange that the Spirit commands those that were asleep and dead in sins to awake and arise:  since these, however they might be without spiritual life and sense, nevertheless enjoy the natural faculty of hearing and understanding.  3.  We saw in § 17 by these words not only were the unregenerate made mindful of their duty, but those truly believing also; but the latter were provided with life and spiritual strength in Christ through the Spirit of life, and hence they as second causes are actually able to comply with this divine admonition.  4.  Moreover, the unregenerate are either reprobate or chosen unto salvation.  With respect to the former, who while this life lasts are ignorant of that, their most miserable state, perhaps with those that have sinned against the Holy Spirit excepted; admonitions of this sort make for their conviction and greater ἀναπολογησίαν/inexcusability:[1]  while the fault of their impotence does not rest on God; and on the other hand, although they are wont inanely to presume much concerning their own strength, they refuse to yield to divine admonitions, in which manner they aggravate their guilt.  Now, with respect to the yet unregenerate elect of God, admonitions of this sort to awake from sleep, to arise from spiritual death, are moral means subservient to the omnipotent grace of God, the Changer of hearts; such that, while God supernaturally and internally, in a completely divine manner of operating, in predetermined moments grants life and spiritual strength, in comparison with 2 Corinthians 3:5; Ephesians 1:19, 20, He at the same time externally, in a moral manner accommodated to the nature of a rational creature, sets forth to man his duty, displays the comeliness of it, urges it with threats and promises:  so that man might know what he must do, and, knowing his natural impotence, might in earnest prayers entreat form God repentance unto life and strength[2] for yielding to all His commandments, and then might make use of the granted strength to submit most willingly to the call of God, and to work out his own salvation, while God is at work in Him both to will and to work for His own good pleasure.[3]  See the Heidelburg Catechism IX;[4] MARCKIUS’ Compendium Theologiæ, chapter XV, § 26, chapter XXIII, § 7-9, 11, 12; and the Præfationem which I set down before my Dutch Commentary on 2 Peter, chapter I.  PAREUS on this passage:  “Why does He then command, if it is not in our power?  Response:  So that by commanding He might excite us, and move us to do that which He wills to do in us:  and because He wills to bless those obeying the command.”  CALOVIUS on this passage:  “For the rest, the things that are commanded are not therefore able to be done by us and our own strength, simply because they are commanded by God:  we certainly gather our obligation from the divine precept; but we are not able certainly to conclude our ability to fulfill it.”  The observation is quite appropriate, that the divine admonition in the text, turning into ardent prayers, which are in Novo Testamento Gallico cum Observationibus moralibus, which are owed to QUESNEL, is subjoined to our text in these words:  But, Lord, does it not belong to thy light to go and seek the idle, who turns away to avoid seeing; to awaken the one that sleep through the forgetfulness of God and His salvation, and to open his eyes; to resurrect the dead and hardened heart that hates the light; to give him eyes to see it and a willingness to love it? It is unquestionably thine own light that goes before, and prepares the heart in which it intends to dwell.  Let this divine light of thine shine in our hearts, that it might work there, and dispel our darkness!  Which prayer depends upon those things that have been asserted in the observations immediately preceding concerning the natural misery and impotence of man, and which the Bull of Clement XI, wont to be called Unigenitus, condemned without good cause,[5] thesis XLVIII.

[1] See Romans 1:20; 2:1.

[2] See Acts 11:18; 2 Corinthians 7:10.

[3] See Philippians 2:12, 13.

[4] Heidelburg Catechism 9: Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in His law, that which he cannot perform? Not at all; for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own wilful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts.

[5] Pope Clement XI, born Giovanni Francesco Albani (1649-1721), reigned as Pope from 1700 to 1721.  He was a patron of learning and the arts.  He issued the Bull Unigenitus in 1713 against Jansenists.

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