Chapter 20: Of the Gospel, and of the Extent of the Grace Thereof
Because the covenant of works was broken by sin, and so not able to grant life, God was pleased to proclaim the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman,1 as the means of calling the elect and bringing faith and repentance to life in them. In this promise the gospel in its substance was revealed,2 and proved effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
1 Gen 3.15 2 Rev 13.8
This promise of Christ and salvation by Christ is revealed only by the Word of God.3 The works of creation or providence, with the light of nature, do not reveal Christ or grace through him, even in a general or obscure way.4 Much less are those without the revelation of Christ by the promise or gospel enabled by those means to attain to [arrive at or obtain] saving faith or repentance.5
3 Rom 1.17 4 Rom 10.14-15, 17 5 Prv 29.18; Is 25.7; Is 60.2-3
The revelation of the gospel to sinners has been made at various times and in separate parts [or places], with the addition of the promises and precepts concerning the obedience required in it. The nations and individuals to whom it is granted receive this revelation merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God.6 This grant is never dependent on any promise to [intention or expectation of] the due [appropriate and subsequent] improvement of men’s natural abilities, by means of common light received without the gospel; no-one ever made or showed such promise, nor can they do so.7 Therefore, in all ages the preaching of the gospel has been granted to individuals and nations in great variety of greater or lesser extent, according to the counsel of the will of God.
6 Ps 147.20; Acts 16.7 7 Rom 1.18-32
The gospel is the only outward [external] means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and, as such, is fully sufficient for this purpose. However, in order that men who are dead in trespasses may be born again, quickened or regenerated, there is also necessary an effectual, insuperable [irresistible] work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul to produce in them a new spiritual life.8 Without this, no other means will accomplish their conversion unto God.9