On the Virtues & Good Works of Unbelievers

“But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, ‘Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?…  in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.’  And God said unto him…  ‘Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me.”

Gen. 20:4-6

“An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.”

Prov. 21:4

“As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.'”

Rom. 3:10



Order of Contents

Articles  4
Latin  5
Bibliography  1





Turretin, Francis – Institutes, ed. James Dennison, Jr.  (Presbytreian & Reformed), vol. 2

15th Topic, Calling & Faith

Question 3, ‘Is sufficient, subjective and internal grace given to each and every one?  We deny against the Romanists, Socinians and Arminians’, pp. 510-17

Question 5, ‘Whether in the first moment of conversion man is merely passive or whether his will cooperates in some measure with the grace of God.  The former we affirmand deny the latter against all Synergists’, pp. 542-46

17th Topic, Sanctification & Good Works

Question 4, ‘What is required that a work may be truly good?  Are the works of the righteous such?  We affirm.’, pp. 706-10

Question 5, ‘Is there a merit of congruity or condignity?  Do good works merit eternal life?  We deny against the Romanists.’, pp. 710-24




Confession of Faith

ch. 9, ‘Of Free Will’

“I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined, to good or evil.[a]

[a] Matt. 17:12James 1:14Deut. 30:19

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;[d] so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[e] and dead in sin,[f] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[g]

[d] Rom. 5:6Rom 8:7John 15:5
[e] Rom. 3:10,12
[f] Eph. 2:1,5Col. 2:13
[g] John 6:44,65Eph. 2:2-51 Cor. 2:14Tit. 3:3-5

IV. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin,[h] and by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good;[i] yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.[k]

[h] Col. 1:13John 8:34,36
[i] Phil. 2:13Rom. 6:18,22
[k] Gal. 5:17Rom. 7:15,18,19,21,23


ch. 10, ‘Of Effectual Calling’

“II. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man;[i] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[k] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.[l]

[i] 2 Tim. 1:9Tit. 3:4,5Eph. 2:4,5,8,9Rom. 9:11
[k] 1 Cor. 2:14Rom. 8:7Eph. 2:5
[l] John 6:37Ezek. 36:27John 5:25

III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,[m] who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.[n] So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.[o]

[m] Luke 18:15,16 and Acts 2:38,39 and John 3:3,5 and 1 John 5:12 and Rom. 8:9. [Compared together.]
[n] John 3:8
[o] 1 John 5:12Acts 4:12


ch. 14, ‘Of Saving Faith’

“I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,[a] is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,[b] and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word:[c] by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.[d]

[a] Heb. 10:39
[b] 2 Cor. 4:13Eph. 1:17-19Eph. 2:8
[c] Rom. 10:14,17
[d] 1 Pet. 2:2Acts 20:32Rom. 4:11Luke 17:5Rom. 1:16,17


ch. 16, ‘Of Good Works’  (See the whole chapter)

“VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although, for the matter of them, they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others;[y] yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith;[z] nor are done in a right manner, according to the word;[a] nor to a right end, the glory of God;[b] they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God.[c] And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.[d]

[y] 2 Kings 10:30,311 Kings 21:27,29Phil. 1:15,16,18
[z] Gen. 4:5 with Heb. 11:4Heb. 11:6
[a] 1 Cor. 13:3Isa. 1:12
[b] Matt. 6:2,5,16
[c] Hag. 2:14Tit. 1:15Amos 5:21,22Hosea 1:4Rom. 9:16Tit. 3:5
[d] Ps. 14:4Ps. 36:3Job 21:14,15Matt. 25:41-43,45Matt. 23:23



Latin Articles


Alsted, Johann H. – XV. ‘What is to be made of Zwingli’s error about the salvation of the noble heathens? This is a grave error.’  in Polemical Theology…  (Hanau, 1620; 1627), pt. 5, class 3, p. 626

Rutherford, Samuel – ch. 7, question 11, ‘Whether the virtues of the gentiles are true virtues? We deny against the Remonstrants’  in Examination of Arminianism  (1639-1643; Utrecht, 1668), pp. 346-47

Maresius, Samuel – ‘A Theological Disputation on the Virtues of the Gentiles’  in A Syllabus of Further Select Disputations, vol. 2 (Groningen, 1663), pp. 123-36

Wittich, Christopher – Exercitation 4, ‘The Varnished over Virtues of the Gentiles, or the Truth of Good Works’  in Theological Exercises  (Boutesteyn, 1682), pp. 281-355



Vitringa, Sr., Campegius – ch. 17, ‘Of the Virtues of the Gentiles’  in The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms, vol. 3  (d. 1723), pp. 352-57




Malcom, Howard – ‘Salvation of Heathen as such’  in Theological Index…  (Boston: Gould & Lincoln, 1868), pp. 406-7




“…for Hiram was ever a lover of David…  So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire…  and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.”

1 Kings 5:1, 10, 12

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us:  For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.'”

Acts 17:27-28




Related Pages

Total Depravity

Common Grace

Original Sin

The Common Operations of the Spirit


The Necessity of Good Works