The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel do come, and are brought to conversion, must not be credited to man, as though one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains).
No, conversion must be credited to God: just as from eternity He chose His own in Christ, so, within time, He effectively calls them, grants them faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness, brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words frequently testify in Scripture.
The constant temptation of man is to take credit in some way for salvation either through good works or a wise decision based upon an alleged free will. One irony in the debate over the sovereignty of God, as advocated by Calvinist, and the exaltation of human responsibility, advocated by Arminianism, is that those who oppose the doctrines of grace, tend to pray and write poetry like a Calvinist.
The story is told that a Methodist minister once went to hear a Presbyterian minister preach. After the sermon the Methodist said to the Presbyterian “That was a pretty good Arminian sermon you preached today.” “Yes,” replied the Presbyterian, “We Presbyterians are pretty good Arminians, when we preach, and you Methodists are pretty good Calvinist, when you pray.”
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray:
I woke—the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off,
My heart was set free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be?
That Thou my God, shouldst die for me!”