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OF EFFICACIOUS GRACE.
DR.WHITBY affirms, “that the fathers generally teach, that God doth only persuade, and by his Spirit assist, those that are willing to be good; but leaves them still to neglect and resist his persuasions, not laying them under a necessity to be good; because that would destroy the virtue and reward of being so.” In proof of which he produces but two or three testimonies, which will be hereafter considered. And in another place he says, “As for the antiquity of irresistibleness of grace, he (Dr.
Edwards) hath only one, St. Austin, to produce, against a hundred testimonies of the fathers cited by Vossius, to prove that God laid no necessity upon man’s will to act; as he must do, if he acts irresistibly upon it, that being necessary which cannot be otherwise.” All which pains might have been spared, for none say, that God lays any necessity of coaction or force upon the wills of men; but that by the power of his grace he moves upon them, and influences them to that which is good according to their nature. Besides, Vossius, after he had made the citations referred to, and which regard the article of free will already considered, observes, that three writers were far from Pelagianism; and that, according to them, the will remained free, and all things are ascribed to grace; which he undertakes more fully to explain; and among the rest, says, “Every good work, as such, is positively from the Holy Spirit, because whatsoever hath a being, as good and supernatural, that it has from grace. From the free will indeed it is only privately, as it does not resist graces when it could resist; that it can resist, it has of itself; that it can will to resist, it has from grace.
And elsewhere he says, “I would not have it so taken, as if nothing, could be produced from them (the fathers) which may seem to intimate, that grace is bestowed from an absolute will to convert;” and then mentions a passage from Basil, cited by Petrus Diaconus, and others; “Thou canst do all things, and there is none can contradict thee; for when thou wilt thou savest, and none resists thy will.” And adds, “Also memorable is that of Ambrose, God calls whom he pleases, and whom he will he makes religious.” In the following Sections I shall make it appear, that it was the sentiment of the ancient writers, that regeneration, conversion, sanctification, faith etc., are wrought in the soul through the energy of the Spirit of God, and the powerful and insuperable efficacy of divine grace, and are not the fruits and effects of mere moral suasion.
CLEMENS ROMANUS. A. D. 69.
CLEMENT was an admirer of the grace of God in vocation and sanctification, for he not only speaks of grace in general as God’s gift when he says, “Let us be joined to them, to whom e charts apo tou Theou dedotai, grace is given from God; and in the free pathetic manner takes notice of the goodness of God in the free donation of them, saying, “How blessed and wonderful are the gifts of God, O beloved! Life with immortality, splendor with righteousness, truth with freedom, pistis en pepoithesei, egkrateia en agiasmo, faith with confidence, continence with holiness.” Of which last he elsewhere says, “He that is chaste in the flesh, let him not be proud or insolent: knowing that eteros estin o epichoregon auto egkrateian, it is another who furnishes him with the gift of contingence.” And a little after, in the same page, having mentioned the blessings which God has prepared for us before we were born, draws this inference; “Therefore since we have all these things from him, we ought kata para in all things to give thanks to him, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” In the conclusion of his epistle he prays, “that God would give to every soul that calls upon his great and holy name, faith, fear, patience, longsuffering, continence, chastity, and sobriety, that they may rightly please his name.”
BARNABAS. A.D. 70.
BARNABAS speaks of the work of grace as a new creation, or as a formation of man again, which requires Almighty power; his words in one place are these. “Wherefore having renewed us by the remission of our sins, epoiesen emas allen tupon, os paidion, ‘he hath made us of another form, as a little child,’ to have a soul as though he had made us again; for the Scripture says concerning us, as he said to the Son, ‘Let us make man after our image, and after cur likeness.’” Again, says he, “I will show thee how in the last days he hath made deuheran plasin , ‘a second formation for us;’ the Lord saith, Behold, I will make the last as the first: behold, therefore, emeis anapeplasmetha, ‘we are made again;’ as he again says in another prophet, Behold, saith the Lord, I will take out their stony hearts, and I will put in them fleshly ones.” And in another place, speaking of the sanctification of the sabbath day, he expresses himself thus; “When we receive the righteous promise, of sin being no more, gegonoton de kainon panton upo Kurio, ‘being made all new by the Lord,’ then shall we be able to sanctify it, being first sanctified ourselves.” And a little after says he, f1650 “Receiving the remission of sins, and hoping in the name of the Lord, egenometha kainoi, palin ex arches aptomenoi, we become new, being created again as at the beginning.” Repentance, spiritual wisdom and knowledge, are, according to him, pure gifts of the grace of God; for, says he, he “dwells in us, who were under the servitude of death, opening to us the door of the temple, which is the mouth; metanoian didous emin, ‘and giving repentance to us;’ introduces us into the incorruptible temple.”
He observes, that “Christ chose his apostles to preach the gospel, ontas uper pasan amartian anamoterous , ‘being more sinful than all sin itself;’ that he might show he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” And in another place he says, “See how well Moses gave the law, but whence is it that they know and understand these things? We therefore justly understanding the commandments, speak as the Lord hath willed; wherefore he hath circumcised our ears and hearts, ina suniomen tauta, that we may understand these things.” Wherefore he blesses the Lord for what knowledge and understanding in divine things he is pleased to give, saying, “Blessed be our Lord, o sophian kai noun themenos en emin ton kruphion autou, who hath put in us wisdom and understanding of his hidden things.” To which may be added that prayer of his, “God, that governs all the world, doe umin sophian, ‘give you wisdom,’ understanding, prudence, and knowledge of his commandments, with patience.”
JUSTIN. A. D. 150.
JUSTIN MARTYR asserts the necessity of the grace of God to the right understanding of the Scriptures; ei oun tis me metamegales charitos tes para Theou laboi, “‘unless,’ says he, ‘any therefore should undertake with the great grace which is from God,’ to understand the things which are said and done by the prophets, it will be of no advantage to him to seem to read the words or facts, unless he can render a reason for them.”
And in another place, speaking to Trypho the Jew, and those that were with him he says. “Do you think, O men, that we could ever have been able to have understood these things in the Scriptures, ei mh qelhmati pou qelhsant auta elabumeu xarin , unless by the will of him that wills these things, we had received grace to understand them.” Addressing himself to the same men, he says, “Cease to deceive yourselves, and them that hear you, and learn of us, twn swifisqentwn apo thv tou Crisou caritov , ‘who are made wise by the grace of Christ.” And having mentioned the text in Matthew 11:27, he adds, “Therefore he hath revealed all things to us, which from the Scripture, dia thv caritov autou nenohkamen , “through his grace we have an understanding of, knowing him to be the firstborn of God, and before all creatures.” Yea, says he, “to us is given to hear, and to understand, and to be saved by this Christ. and to know all the things of the Father.” Nay, Eusebius says, that he openly declares in his Dialogue with Trypho, “how, h qeia cariv auton epi ton thv tisewv parwrmhde login , “the grace of God impelled him to the doctrine of faith; that is, powerfully wrought upon him to embrace and make a profession of it; which expresses the efficacy of divine grace in its irresistible and unfrustrable operations upon his heart, which Justin had an experience of. Dr. Whitby cites a passage from this writer, in which he says, “That God sent his Son into the world, wv peisqwn ou biazomeno , ‘as persuading, but not compelling man to be good.” But no such words are to be found in the place he refers to. Justin there says, that “To be from the beginning is not our’s; but us, who choose by the rational powers which he gives, to follow those things, which are grateful to him, peiqei te kai< eiv pisin agei hmav , ‘he persuades and leads to faith.’” That God persuades men to believe, nobody denies; nor does any say that he compels them to believe, or to be good against their wills; but the question is, whether his persuasions are merely moral? or whether they are attended with an internal, powerful, and unfrustrable operation of his grace? It looks as if Justin meant the latter, since he adds, “What human laws could not effect, that the Logov , or Word, being divine, has performed.” Now human laws, working only by moral suasion, are deficient; but the divine Word, or Son of God, working in a way of irresistible grace, produces that which they cannot.
IRENAEUS. A. D. 180.
IRENAEUS, in many places, shows that the Spirit and grace of God are necessary to the knowledge of God, to our performance of good works, and bringing forth good fruits of righteousness; for, says he, “the Lord hath taught us, that no man can know God nisi Deo docente, hoc est, sine Deo non cognosci Deum, unless God teaches him, that is, God is not or cannot be known without God.” And in another place: “Him we rightly show is known by none, unless by the Son, and such to whom the Son will reveal him; for the Son reveals him to all to whom the Father would be known, et nique sine bona voluntate Patris, neque sine administratione Filii cognoscet quisquam Deum, and neither without the good will and pleasure of the Father, nor without the administration of the Son, can any one know God.” And in the same place he represents men in a state of nature as comparable to stones, in whom Christ, by the mighty power of his grace, works the same kind of faith as was in Abraham: for having cited Matthew 3:9, he makes this observation: “This Jesus did, drawing us off from the religion of stones, and translating us a nostris duris et infructuosis cogitationibus, et similem Abrahae fidem constituens, from our hard and unfruitful thoughts, putting in us faith like to that of Abraham.” Very observable, and much to our purpose, is the following passage of this ancient writer. “As.” says he, “of dry wheat, one lump, or one loaf, cannot be made without moisture, so neither we, being many, can be made one in Christ Jesus, sine aqua quae de coelo est, without the water which is from heaven.” And as the dry earth, if it receives not moisture, does not “bring forth fruit, so likewise we, lignum aridum existentes primum, nunquam fructificaremus vitam, sine superna voluntaria pluvia, hoe est Spiritu Sancto, being first a dry tree, can never bring forth fruit unto life, without the rain which comes freely from above, that is, the Holy Spirit.” And a little after, having compared the Spirit of God to dew, adds, qua propter necessarius nobis est ros Dei, “wherefore the dew of God is necessary for us, that we be not burnt up, nor become unfruitful.”
And when he elsewhere says, Facere proprium est benignitatis Dei, fieri autem proprium est hominis naturae, “To make, belongs to the kindness of grace of God; to be made, is the property of man’s nature.”
Dr. Whitby, to prove that the fathers taught, that God only persuades men, and leaves them under a power to neglect and resist his persuasions, cites a passage from Irenaeus, in which he says, that God redeems his from the apostate spirit, non vi sed suadela, not by force, but by persuasion, quemadmodum decebat Deum suadentem et non vim inferentem accipere quae vellet, as it became God to receive what he would by persuasion, and not by force.” But upon examining the place, it will appear, that Irenaeus is speaking not of God’s operation upon the hearts of men, but of Christ’s redeeming his from the apostate spirit rationally, in a way of righteousness, mildly, gently, and not by force and violence; and that the persuasion, whatever Irenaeus means by it, is used not with the persons redeemed, but with the apostate spirit who had usurped dominion over them.
CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS. A. D. 190.
CLEMENT of Alexandria must be reckoned among the assertors of the necessity of the grace of God to perform that which is good; and of the power and efficacy of it in the hearts of men producing faith, etc.; for in one place he says, that “men ought to have a sound mind, which does not repent of a studious search after that which is good; pros oper malista tes theias chrezomen charitos , ‘in order to which especially, we stand in need of divine grace,’ of right doctrine, of a pure affection of mind, kai tes tou Patros pros auton olkes, and of the Father’s drawing to himself.” ,And in another place he observes, that “few knew the Son of God as Peter did, whom he pronounces blessed, because flesh and blood hath not revealed the truth to him, but his Father which is in heaven; plainly signifying, that a man is a gnostic, or endued with knowledge, so as to know the Son of the Almighty, not by his flesh, which was conceived, alla di autes res dunameos tes Patrikes, but by the Father’s power.” He strongly disputes against the Basilidians, who held that faith was natural and proper to men, and arose from some preceding natural necessity; whereas he affirms it to be something that comes from above, that is divine, and springs from the grace of God; his words are these; “Faith is not to be calumniated, os eukolon to kai pandemon , ‘as easy and vulgar, and what every one has.’ I say, therefore, that faith, whether it is founded on love or on fear, as the adversaries say, theion ti einai , is something divine.” And elsewhere he says, “The conjecture of truth is one thing, and truth itself another; the likeness of it one thing, and that itself another; the one comes by learning and exercise, the other by power and faith; dorea gar e didaskalia tes theosebeias, charis de e pistis, for the doctrine of godliness is a gift, and faith a grace.” Again he says, “It remains, that theia chariti, ‘by divine grace,’ and by the world alone, which is from God, we understand that which is unknown.”
TERTULLIAN. A. D. 200.
TERTULLIAN ascribes all that a man has and does, in a spiritual way, to the grace of God, and the whole work of grace to his mighty power. At the beginning of his Treatise on Patience, he confesses, that he was very unfit to write on that subject, as being homo nullius boni, ‘a worthless man; ‘and observes, “that as evil things, so some good things are of such a prodigious magnitude, that, ad capienda et praestanda ea, sola gratia divinae inspirationis operetur, only the grace of divine inspiration can work in us to receive and perform them.” The virtue of continence he makes to be the gift of God, on the account of which none should boast in themselves, but give God the glory; his words are these: “And if the virtue of continence is bestowed by God, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it; and if thou hadst received it, what hast thou that is not given to thee? But by this it is plain, that it is not given to thee by God, because thou dost not ascribe it to him alone.” And in another place, speaking of the knowledge of God and Christ, he expresses himself thus: “By whom is truth found out without God? To whom is God known without Christ? By whom is Christ explored without the Holy Spirit? To whom is the Holy Spirit applied without the mystery of faith?” Elsewhere he says, “When a renewed soul comes to believe through the second birth, ex aqua et superna virtute, ‘which is of water and power from above,’ the curtain of former corruption being drawn, beholds all its own light.” Again having mentioned a passage in Psalm 45:4, which he reads, Thy right hand shall lead thee wonderfully, makes this note on it: “Virtus scilicet gratiae spiritualis, qua Christi agnitio deducitur, namely, the power of spiritual grace, by which the knowledge of Christ is brought on.” And a little after, speaking of the name of Jesus, as a name under which the Jews did not expect the Messiah, adds, “For neither though we, per Dei gratiam, ‘through the grace of God,’ obtain an understanding of his mysteries, also acknowledge this name as appointed for Christ, therefore will the thing be known to the Jews, from whom wisdom is taken away.” And in the same chapter he says, that “the possession of eternal life is not by Moses, that is, not by the discipline of the law, but comes by Jesus, that is, per evangelii gratiam, by the grace of the gospel.” And a little after, upon the types and figures of Christ, he makes this observation, “that the more incredible any thing is, the more offensive, if it is nakedly preached; and the more magnificent it is, the more is it to be overshadowed, ut difficultas intellectus gratiam Dei quaereret, that the difficulty of the understanding may seek after the grace of God.”
Citing Luke 11:40, he observes, that “Christ by this saying plainly demonstrates, ad eundem Deum pertinere munditias hominis exterioris et interioris; that the cleansing both of the outward and inward man belongs to the same God, whose they are both.” And in another place, having mentioned Ephesians 2:10, he has this note: “It is one thing to make, and another to create, but both he gives to one; man is the workmanship of the Creator, the same therefore who hath made, hath created in Christ.
With respect to substance, he hath made him; quantum ad gratiam condidit, ‘with respect to grace, he hath created him.” Inspect the context. To which may be added that saying of his, Fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani, “Men are made, not born Christians.”
ORIGINES ALEXANDRINUS. A. D. 230.
ORIGEN, though a very unguarded writer, and though a very considerable part of his works have been interpolated by Ruffinus, said to be a favorer of Pelagius, yet has many passages in his writings which shows that he thought that regeneration, and all that is truly and spiritually good, are owing to the grace and power of God. “It must be known,” says he, f1687 “that all that men have is from the grace of God, for they have nothing of debt; for who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? Wherefore it is grace, whatever he has, who was not, and is a receiver from him, who always was, and is, and will be forever.” He intimates, that all good thoughts are from the Spirit of God. “We pray,” says he, “that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God might shine into our hearts, the Spirit of God being present with our imaginative faculty, kai phantazontos emas ta tou Theou , and suggesting to us the things of God.” He represents all manner of virtues, as wrought in us by a divine hand, and not as the produce of nature. “Images dedicated to God, and becoming him,” says he, are not such as are prepared by mechanic artificers; but what are planned by the Logos or word of God, kai morphoumena en emin, ai aretai , ‘and formed in us, even those virtues’ which are the images of the firstborn of every creature, in whom are examples of righteousness, temperance, wisdom, godliness, and the rest of the virtues.” Yea, he ascribes the duties and actions of the saints to the energy of the same divine person: “As,” says he, “the soul quickens and moves the body, which of itself has no living motion; so the Logos or Word, kinon epi ta deonta kai energon , ‘inciting with energy to things which ought to be done,’ moves the whole body, the church, and every member of them that are of the church, doing nothing without the Word.”
Whatever knowledge men have of God in a spiritual way, springs from divine grace according to him. “Those words in Matthew 11:27,” he says, “manifestly show, that God is known theia tini chariti, ‘by a certain divine favor or grace,’ which is infused into the soul, not without God, but by a sort of an afflatus, or inspiration.” And in another place he observes, that “God opens the mouth, the ears, and eyes, that we may speak, perceive, and hear the things that are God’s.” He must be a stranger to Origen’s writings, who knows not that he frequently suggests the necessity of the grace and assistance of God to understand the Scriptures. I need not give instances. The work of sanctification he attributes to the Spirit of God. “Let us endeavor,” says he, “that we may be unworthy of this so great and sublime an understanding, that is, of the mystical sense of the shewbread; but that our soul may first be made a holy place, and in the holy place we may take in holy mysteries, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, ex quo sanctificatur omne quod sanctum est, by whom is sanctified every thing that is holy.” And in another place, “The grace of the Holy Spirit is present, that those things which are not substantially holy, may be made holy by the participation of him. Seeing therefore first, that they may be, they have from God the Father. Secondly, that they may be rational, they have from the Word. Thirdly, that they may be holy, they have from the Holy Spirit.” The change that is made in man in conversion, he denies to be the effect of moral suasion, but ascribes it to the power and efficacy of divine grace.
Having mentioned these words in Matthew 3:9, Think not to say, etc., he observes, that “they teach us that unbelievers, who are called stones, because of their stony hearts dunamei Qeou metabalein oiouv teeinai , may be changed, by the power of God, from stones, to children of Abraham.” “Celsus,” says he, “may laugh at what is said, or the Jew, whom he introduces; yet it must be said, that many, as if unwilling, have come to Christianity, pneumatov tinov treyantov autwn to hgemonikon aifnidion , ‘a certain spirit suddenly turning their intellectual faculty,’ from hating the Logos or Word, to die for him.” And in the same work he has these words: “The doctrine of those who were first sent, and labored to constitute churches, and their preaching, were indeed with persuasion; but not such as is among the professors of the wisdom of Plato, or any other philosophers, who have nothing more than human nature; but the demonstration of the apostles of Jesus, given by God, had a force of persuading from the Spirit and power; wherefore their word, or rather God’s, ran swiftly and sharply, and thereby changed many of them, who were by nature and custom sinners, whom no man could change by any punishment whatsoever; the Word transformed them, shaping and forming them according to his will.” Again he observes, f1698 “The divine word says, that what is said, though it is in itself true, and is fit to persuade, yet is not sufficient to reach the human soul, ean mh kai dunamiv tiv Qew| ekdoqh , unless a certain power is given from God to him that speaks,’ and grace flourishes in what is said: and this is not without God, in them who speak with energy.” To which may be added the following expressions of his: “Now the word of his preaching is known to all, so that it is received by very many, almost in all the world; that they may understand what are believed, not by persuasory words of wisdom, but by demonstration of the Spirit and power ; wherefore they may conclude they are brought to faith and credulity, coelesti virtute imo etiam plusquam coelesti , by a heavenly power, yea, by more than a heavenly one.” Once more: “This,” says he, “is a new thing, that those who are strangers from the covenants of God, aliens from the promises, and afar off from the truth, dunamei tini qeia , by a certain divine power receive it.”
Yea, sometimes he expresses himself as though he thought some sort of force and violence were used with men in the conversion and salvation of them. “The only begotten Son of God is present,” he says: “he defends, he keeps, he draws us to himself: hear how he speaks; “And lo, I am with you unto the end of the world;” but neither is it sufficient that he is with us, “sed quodam modo vim nobis facit, ut nos pertrahat ad salutem,” ‘but in some sort he forces us, that he may draw us unto salvation;’ for he says in another place, “When I shall be lifted up, I will draw all unto me.” You see, how that he not only invites the willing, but draws those that delay.” And little after, “The Lord himself, the Father, does not neglect the dispensation of our salvation, for he not only calls us to salvation, but he draws; for so the Lord says in the gospel, “No man comes to me, but whom my heavenly Father draws.” But the Father of the family, who sent his servants to invite his friends to the marriage of his Son, after they who were first invited excused themselves, says to the servants, “Go forth to the highways and alleys, and whomsoever ye find, compel them to come in;” so therefore we are not only invited by God, sed et trahimur et cogimur ad salutem, but we are drawn and compelled unto salvation.” Moreover he signifies, that this call of God to the participation of his grace, entirely arises from his sovereign will and pleasure. “The God of gods,” he says, “calls from the east and west to partake of himself by Jesus Christ, ous bouletai , whom he pleases.” Wherefore there should be no boasting in the creature, but all glorying should he in God. “There are,” he observes, “some among the Gentiles, of good manners and honest behavior, who yet do not refer what they have to God, nor acknowledge the grace given to them by him; but either ascribe it to their own industry, or glory in their masters and instructors; but the apostle shows to us, that all that is good is from God, and given by the Holy Spirit; as the apostle James says, James 1:17, “that he that glories, may glory in the Lord.” “That which is worthy of boasting,” he says, “ouk emeteron alla doron esti Theou , ‘is not ours, but is the gift of God;’ from him is wisdom, from him is strength, and so of the rest.” To all which may be added the following words of his, which not only express his own, but the sense of the whole church at that time: “It is the united sense of the whole church, that all the law is indeed spiritual; yet these things which the law breathes out are not known to all, but to them only to whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, in the word of wisdom and knowledge.”
CYPRIAN. A. D. 250.
CYPRIAN clearly expresses his sense of the efficacy of divine race in the sanctification of a sinner, and of the continuance of it, for the carrying on and perfecting of that work, as well as of the need the saints always stand in of the aids of it for the performance of every good work. In one of his epistles he seems surprised at his own conversion, and wonders how it was possible that it should be; when he had lain in darkness, was first a stranger to light and truth, so implicated in the errors of a past life; and so obsequious to sin and vice; this he ascribes to divine grace in his second birth, which desuper lumen infudit, postquam coelitus Spiritu hausto in novum hominem reparavit, “infused light from above, and after the Spirit was derived from heaven repaired him a new man:” and then goes on to beat down all boasting in the creature, and to give the whole glory to God.
In his Treaise of the Lord’s Prayer, he says many things which confirm this.
Upon the first clause in that prayer he makes this remark, “A new man, a regenerated person, and one restored to his God, per ejus gratiam, ‘through his grace,’ says, in the first place, Father, because now he begins to be a son.” And a little after, “Most beloved brethren,” says he, “we ought to consider and understand not only this, that we call Father which is in heaven, but we add and say, Our Father, that is, of them that believe; of them, who being sanctified by him, et gratiae spiritualis nativitatae reparati, ‘and repaired through the birth of spiritual grace,’ begin to be the children of God.” And upon the first petition Hallowed be thy name, he has this observation, “Not that we should desire of God that he may be sanctified by our prayers, but that we should request of him, that his name may be sanctified in us. Moreover, by when is God sanctified, qui ipse sanetificat, ‘who himself sanctifies?’ But because he says, Be ye holy, for I am holy; this we desire and ask, that we who are sanctified in baptism might persevere in that which we begin to be; and this we daily pray for, opus est enim nobis quotidiana sanctificatione, ‘for we have need of daily sanctification,’ that we who daily sin, may purge away our sins by daily sanctification; which sanctification is what is bestowed upon us de Dei dignatione, through the favor of God.” And a little after, “This we ask night and day, that sanctification and vivification, quae de Dei gratia sumitur, ipsius protectione servetur, which proceed from the grace of God, might be preserved by his protection.” Upon the third petition; Thy will be done in earth, as in heaven, he has this note: “We add and say this, not that God may do what he will, but that we may do what God wills; for who hath resisted God that he may not do what he will? But because we are withstood by the devil, that our minds and actions might not in all respects obey God, we pray and desire, that the will of God may be done in us; which that it may be done in us, opus est Dei voluntate, id est, ope ejus et protectione, ‘ there is need of the will of God, that is, of his help and protection;’ for no man is strong, suis viribus, ‘by his own strength,’ but is safe through the grace and mercy of God.” And a little after, speaking of the combat between the flesh and the Spirit, he adds, “Therefore we earnestly desire, that an agreement may be made between these two, ope et auxilio Dei, ‘by the help and assistance of God;’ that whilst the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul may be saved, quae per eum renata est, which is regenerated by him.” And in another treatise of his, concerning Patience, he thus speaks: “This virtue we have in common with God; from hence patience begins; from hence its glory and worth take their rise; the original and greatness of patience spring Deo auctore, from God the Author.”
EUSEBIUS CAESARIENSIS. A. D. 330.
EUSEBIUS represents conversion as a wonderful change wrought in the soul through the power of divine grace; “Who should be those Canaanites,” says he, “but we, who before were aliens; and who, out of all nations, that were formerly profane and ungodly, are preserved sheep for Christ; oi kai dia tes autou charitosmetabeblemetha,’ who also are changed by his grace;’ and understanding the things before prophesied of, have received the true knowledge of the word of the Lord.” And a in another place he breaks out in a pathetic exclamation, after this manner, “Who is he, that is not amazed at this surprising affair, when he sees such who from the beginning worshipped stones, wood, devils, brutes, demons, reptiles, etc. — who in their manner of living suffered nothing from the savage beasts, nuni dia tes tou soteros emon entheou dunameon metablethentes kai osper ex eteron eteroi gegonotes , now through the divine power of our Savior changed, and, as it were, become other men.” All which he supposes was brought about, not by moral suasion, or merely by the ministry of the word; but by a secret, unspeakable, and almighty power, which attended it; to which he always ascribes the success of the Gospel: “You have,” says he, “plain and evident demonstrations, that is, in prophecy, from whom the Gospel should begin, even from Christ himself; by whom it should be preached, namely, by his apostles; besides also, poia dunamei kratesei, oti me anthropeia, ‘with what power it should obtain or overcome; that it should not be by that which is human.” It would be too tedious to transcribe all the passages of this kind which are observable in this writer; I shall only add, that he considered sanctification as the peculiar work of the Spirit of God, as appears from his following words; f1716 “Wherefore the Holy Spirit dwells in a friendly manner with the saints only, being imparted by the Son to those whom the Father would approve of, kai tout’ an eie ergon autou to pantas agiazein , and this is his work, to sanctify all, to whom he gives some one or more of his gifts.”
ATHANASIUS. A. D. 350.
ATHANASIUS acknowledges the necessity of divine grace, and the efficacy of it in sanctification, when he says, “As the Son, the giver of the Spirit, does not disdain to say, that as man he cast out devils by the Spirit; so likewise the same being the giver of the Spirit, disdains not to say, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me , with respect to his being made flesh, as John says; that he might show that we are in both respects such, oi kai en to agiazesthai deomenoi tes tou Pneumatos charitos , who in sanctification stand in need of the grace of the Spirit; and also are not able to cast out devils without the power of the Spirit.” And a little after, “So likewise David shows, oti ouk an allos metegomen tou Pneuatos kai egiasthemen, ‘that we could otherwise partake of the Spirit, and be sanctified,’ unless the Word himself, the giver of the Spirit, had said, that he would be anointed by the Spirit for us.” And in another place he argues after this manner, in favor of the Deity of Christ; f1718 “Otherwise, if the Son was a creature, there being one and the same nature of rational creatures, no help could be given to a creature by a creature, dia to pantas deisthai tes para Theou charitos , inasmuch as all stand in need of the grace of God.” That the image of God, imparted to man, and whatsoever holiness he has, is not from nature, but is owing to the grace and power of God, is owned by him, when he observes, that “God being good, hath imparted his image, our Lord Jesus Christ, to men; and hath made them according to his image and likeness, that they, dia tes toiautes charitos, ‘through such grace,’ understanding the image, the Word of the Father, might be able, through him, to receive the knowledge of the Father; and so knowing the Creator might live a truly happy and blessed life.” And elsewhere he says of Christ, that “he only is the true and natural image of the Father; for though we are made again after his image, and are called the glory and image of God, all’ ou di’ eautous , ‘but not because of ourselves; but because that the true image and glory of God, which is the Word of God, dwells in us, who being at last made flesh for us, tautes tes kleseos echomen ten charin, we have the grace of this vocation.” And much to the same purpose he says in another place, f1721 “We are made sons, but not as he, by nature, and in truth, ella kata charin tou kalesantos , but according to the grace of him that calleth.” And men, who are of the earth, are called gods, but not as the true God, or his Word, but as God pleases, who gives this, that is grace, to them. So likewise we are made merciful as God, but not equal to him, oude phusi, kai alethinoi euergetai ginomenoi, ou gar emon eurema euergetein, alla tou Theou eis emas kata charin ginomenon , nor by nature, or true benefactors, are we made; nor is it our invention to do well; but this is according to the grace of God to usward.” That sanctification is a creation work, and so a work of almighty power, is asserted by him, when having mentioned these words, Except a man be born again, he says, “not hereby signifying generation by women, but showing, that the soul is regenerated, kai anaktizomenen, and created again according to his image, the image of God.” And especially in these words, “Every intelligent hearer knows, that to sanctify is to create: when we hear, Create in me a clean heart, O God! what else do we understand but this, Sanctify a clean heart in me, O God?” And a little after, “To create is the work of God, but it is not greater than to sanctify, for it is written, Holy Father, sanctify them through try truth.” Yea, he adds, that “to sanctify is greater than to create.” This last passage is indeed cited from a tract which is thought by some learned men not to be the work of Athanasius, but of Maximus, who lived many years after him.
Theodore Beza, who has given us a Latin translation of the whole, says, that in the margin of the first dialogue, in the copy he made use of, were written by another hand these words, “Some say this present dialogue is Athanasius’s, others that it is Maximus’s;” however, since not only these dialogues are allowed by all to be pious, learned, and worthy to be read, but also by Beza said to have nothing in them unworthy of Athanasius, or unsuitable to his times, I have ventured to make the above citation from them.
MACARIUS AEGYPTIUS. A. D. 350.
MACARIUS, the Egyptian, ascribes regeneration and sanctification to the Spirit and grace of God; he says, it is “through the participation of the Holy Spirit that men are born again of God, and counted worthy to be the children of God in truth and power.” And again: “As God is love, joy, peace, kindness, and goodness, so the new man is made kata charin , by grace.” And in another place he says, “The five rational senses of the soul, if they receive the grace from above, and the sanctification of the Spirit, are truly virgins.” And elsewhere he observes, that “as many as are the children of the light, and of the ministry of the New Testament by the Holy Spirit, learn nothing of men; for they are taught of God, for aute e charis, ‘grace itself’ writes the laws of the Spirit in their hearts.” Again: “Never think,” says he, “that thou preventest the Lord by virtue, according to Philippians 2:13:’ it is certain he both owns the preparing, preventing, and subsequent grace of God; for he speaks of the Holy Spirit, etoimasanti , ‘as preparing the soul’ to be a seat and habitation for himself; and of some whom the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit proapantosi, ‘prevent.’ “God,” he says, “requires of men labor, fatigue, and working; but unless there appear the heavenly cloud, kai uetoi charitos , ‘and the rains of grace,’ the laboring husbandman will profit nothing.” In short, he ascribes all that the saints enjoy now, or shall hereafter, to divine grace. “The glory and beauty of Christians,” says he, “and the heavenly riches, are unspeakable, and are obtained with labor, and sweat, and trials, and agonies; to de olon chariti Theou , but the whole is owing to the grace of God.” Particularly he observes, that “the knowledge of God in truth is through the power of God, and energy of grace.” He represents the work of grace and conversion as a new creation, and the effect of divine power, and which cannot be done without it. “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he says, “came to change and transform nature, and to renew kai anaktisai , ‘and create again the same soul,’ which was subverted by the affections, through the transgression, mixing it with his own Spirit.” And a little after, “Seeing the soul that truly believes in Christ must be translated and changed from this present evil state into another good state, and from this present mean nature into another divine nature; also it must be made new, dia tes dunameos tou Agiou Pneumatos, ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit,’ that so it may be fit for the heavenly kingdom.” And whereas it may be thought difficult, if not impossible, that men should be converted, or turned from their sins, he advises to remember what Christ did when he was here on earth; how he cured the blind, and raised the dead, and the like; intimating, that that power which wrought in the one was able to effect the other. He speaks of the fire of the Spirit which rekindles hearts, enlightens souls, makes devils to flee, takes away sin, and gives immortality.
HILARIUS PICTAVIENSIS. A. D. 360.
HILARY of Poietiers affirms, that all good things spring from the grace of God: “What room,” says he, “is left for boasting in us, when we remember that all things are of God?” “The services of our tongue and mouth, he says,” “are not sufficient to give praise to God; we have changed crimes for innocence, vices for virtue, ignorance for knowledge, destruction for immortality; et hoc a Dei gratia, and this is from the grace of God.” Faith in Christ, the knowledge of him, he frequently f1741 intimates, are the gifts of God. He ascribes regeneration to the secret and powerful, yea, irresistible efficacy of divine grace; “Obtaining” says he f1742 “the faith of my regeneration, I am ignorant; and what I know not I now hold, sine sensu enim meo renascor, for without my perception I am born again.” And in another place he says, “The operation of God hath raised Christ from the dead, et haec eadem Dei operatio , and the same operation of God quickens us with Christ.” And elsewhere he says, f1744 “We are indeed children to God, but by the workmanship of the Son; for we were sometime children of wrath, but are made children to God by the spirit of adoption. We were not born so, but made; not generated, but acquired.” He represents the grace of regeneration as making persons new, and without which they cannot receive new things. On Luke 5:36,37, he has this note: “Souls and bodies infirm through the oldness of sins, do not take in the mysteries of the new grace, for the rent will be worse, and the wine being shed, the old bottles will perish; for the guilt of such will be double, since besides the oldness of their sins, they will not bear the power of the new grace; and therefore the pharisees, and the disciples of John, could not receive new things, nisi novi fierent, unless they were made new;” which they could not be without the power of God, to which all things are possible, and so this; for, as he says, “What is so possible to the power of God, than that he can save through faith? That he can regenerate by it?” And, indeed, such is his power, that it is not to be resisted, which is proper and peculiar to him; for as this father somewhere observes, “To God alone it agrees to do all things which he wills; for sole perfect power is hindered by none, so that he could not do what he wills; and no difficulty occurs to him from whom are all things.”
BASILIUS CAESARIENSLS. A. D. 370.
BASIL of Caesarea asserts, that sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, and entirely owing to the preventing grace of God. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, he says, that “there is no sanctification without him; and that we have learnt concerning him by the divine writings, auto estin o tous agious, agious epoiese , that he it is who makes the saints saints, and gives divine life to them that ask God by him.”’ And in another place, “The Spirit is not a creature, but the character of God’s holiness kai pege tois pasin agiasmou , ‘and the fountain of holiness to all,’ as the apostle teach; we are called in the holiness of the Spirit; makes us a new creature, abiding for ever.” And elsewhere, “It was impossible to be born again me prolabouses charitos tou Theou , without the preventing grace of God.” “Faith,” he says, “is the work of God,” and he means not what God requires of us, but what he works in us. “if our faith in the Son,” says he, “is the work of God, for this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent, he himself, that is the Son, cannot be the work of God.” Moreover he says, that “faith is not in us through geometrical proofs, but tais tou Pneumatos energeis , by the effectual operations of the Spirit.” Again; he affirms that “is to be held for certain, and to be confessed, that the grace of every good thing, and so the patience of those things which we suffer for the sake of Christ, para Theou uparchein, are from God:” for the proof of which he cites John 3:27; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 1:29. He frequently ascribes the whole of salvation to the free grace of God, to which he gives all the glory, and rejects boasting in the creature. “Let no man,” says he, “praise my industry by which I am saved from dangers; for salvation is not in the power or wisdom of man, but in the grace of God.” And elsewhere, f1756 “Nothing is left for thee, O man, of which thou canst boast, whose glorifying and hope lie in this, that thou mortify all thy will, and seek life to come in Christ, of which we having in these things the first fruits, entirely live by the grace and gift of God. Philippians 2:13. Why therefore, I pray thee, dost thou extol thyself as if thou didst good things of thine own, when thou shouldest give thanks for gifts to the giver of them? Corinthians 4:7. God is not made known to thee by thy righteousness, but thou to God by his goodness. Galatians 4:9. Thou hast not apprehended Christ by thine own power, but Christ thee by his coming. Philippians 3:12.”
GREGORIUS NAZIANZENUS. S.D. 370.
GREGORY of Nazianzum was an advocate for the grace of God. “If any one” say he, “is a child of light, or a man of God, or is near to God, or a man of good desires, or is worthy to be called by any such names, with which the scripture honors men divine and exalted, and that have a right to that portion which is above; touto men ede doron Theou, kai phaneros uper ten axian ten emeteran , this is verily the gift of God, and manifestly beyond our desert.” He acknowledges, that “it is of God that we are, kai to eidenai Theou , ‘and that we know God,’ and that we have what we offer to him;” and calls upon others to make the same confession: “Acknowledge,” says he, “from whence thou hast that thou art, that thou breathest, that thou hast an understanding mind; and what is the greatest of all, to ginoskein Theou , “that thou knowest God;’ hopest for the kingdom of heaven, equal honor with angels, and a sight of glory.” He makes God to be the author and finisher of all that is good, par ou kalon apan kai arcetai kai eiv telov ercetai , “by him, that is God, every good thing both begins and comes to an end.” Regeneration is ascribed by him to the Spirit of God, para men tou Pneumatov emin h anagenhsiv , from the spirit we have regeneration,” says he, “from regeneration reformation, from reformation knowledge of the worthiness of him that forms us again;” and this, with the Scripture, he makes necessary to a man’s enjoyment of the heavenly glory. “Assure yourselves,” says he, “that no man can either see or receive the kingdom, unless he is born from above by the Spirit, and is cleansed from the first birth.” It is easy to observe, that Gregory does in these passages frequently represent the work of grace as a creation, and by a being formed again. “The Spirit,” he says, “to poihsan to anaktizon , ‘is he that forms, that creates again by baptism,’ by the resurrection; the Spirit knows all things is he that teacheth, and breathes where and as much as he pleases,” And in another place, speaking of his Father he has these words: “He came to that regeneration which is by water and the Spirit, by which we confess to God morfwsin te kai teleiwsin , “the conformation and perfection of the man, according to Christ, kai metaqesin kai anaplasin , and the change and reformation of that which is earthly to the Spirit.” And elsewhere, mentioning those words, and it was winter , that is, adds he, “of unbelief, and Jesus was present, God and the temple, the eternal God, the new temple, today dissolved, and in three days raised again, and abiding for ever; that I might be saved, and be called again from the old fall (meaning the fall of Adam), and being anaplattomenov , “formed again,’ through such philanthropy, might be made a new creature .”
DIDYMUS ALEXANDRINUS. A. D. 370.
DIDYMUS of Alexandria, in his treatise concerning the Holy Spirit, says many things of his grace and power in the sanctification of men. “The Holy Spirit,” says he, “is by the confession of all, the immutable sanctifier, the giver of divine knowledge, and all good things; and that I may speak more briefly, he is subsisting in those good things, which are given by the Lord, according to Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13; from whence it appears, that the Holy Spirit is the fullness of the gifts of God, and that those things which are ministered by God do not subsist without him; for all advantages which are received from the grace of the gifts of God flow from this fountain.” And a little after he calls him the giver of sanctification, and says that it is impossible any one should obtain the grace of God si non habeat Spiritum Sanctum, “‘if he has not the Holy Spirit;’ in which we prove, that all the gifts of God consist.” And again, says he, “No one ever receives the spiritual blessings of God, nisi praecesserit Spiritus Sanctus, ‘unless the Holy Spirit goes before;’ for he that receives the Holy Spirit consequently will have blessings, that is, wisdom and understanding, and the rest; — wisdom and understanding which are in the Holy Spirit are given by God: — God the giver of good things, will give the hope which he has promised, in the power of the Holy Ghost to them that have him.”
GREGORIUS NYSSENUS. A. D. 380.
GREGORY of Nyssa attributes all virtue, and every good thing that is in us, or done by us, to God, and to his grace. Upon Song of Solomon 4:12, he has this note, “Hence we learn, aretas de einai ten tou Theou phuteian , ‘that virtues are the plantation of God,’ about which the intellective power of our souls being employed, is sealed with the character of truth, and formed with a habit to that which is good.” Yea, he asserts, that, pan aretes onoma to kai noema eis ton Kurion ton areton anapheretai , “every name and thought of virtue is referred to the Lord of virtues.” And in another place he observes, that “what food and drink is to the body, that is to the soul, to look to what is good, kai touto os alethos doma esti Theou to enatinozein Theo , ‘and this is truly the gift of God, to look intently unto God.” And a little after, “He that looks to that which is good, has the gift of God in all his labor; and this is it, always to look to that which is good.” And elsewhere, having mentioned Galatians 2:20, he takes notice, that “the apostle says, that evangelical good works were not his, but he ascribes them to the grace of Christ, that dwelt in him.” And a little after, “The sum of all good things is subjection to God — and this is to be referred to him that lives in us; for if there is any thing excellent, it is his, kai ei ti anathon par autou , ‘and if there is any good thing, it is from him;’ as says one of the prophets; if therefore subjection is excellent and good, it appears to be his, since his is every good thing, from whom the nature of all good comes.” To which agrees what he says in another place, “Whatsoever is good, doreon meris esti, is a part of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Particularly he observes, that “to be dead unto sin, and to be quickened by the Spirit, is doron Theou , the gift of God.” Regeneration is by him ascribed to the Spirit and grace of God. “This benefit,” says he, speaking of regeneration, “the water does not give, for it would be above or higher than the whole creation, but the order of God, kai e tou Pneumatos epiphoitesis , and the coming of the Spirit upon us.” And in another place he says, “They that are born of the Spirit are the children of God, for so expressly does he bear witness, to Agio Pneumati ton tou Theou teknon ten genesin , that the birth of the children of God is owing to the Holy Spirit, according to John 3:6. The change in regeneration he expresses thus; We were once the trees of Lebanon but he hath made us a chariot for himself, metastoicheiosas tou xulou ten phusin dia tes palingenesias eis to argurion , transforming the nature of the word by regeneration into silver and gold, etc. This therefore must require an almighty power; and to this does Gregory ascribe it, when he says, that Christ is made king over them, who are born and made kings, in whom is the rod of iron, that is, e atreptos dunamis , the immutable power, which breaking in pieces that which is earthly and frail, eis ten akeraton phurin metestoicheiosen , transforms into a nature incorrupt. And elsewhere speaking of the power and energy of God in regeneration, he says, it is akataleptos kai atechnologetos , incomprehensible and inexpressible by art, easily producing whatsoever it will.”
HILARIUS DIACONUS. A. D. 380.
HILARY the Deacon, or the author of the Commentaries on PaulEpistles, which are among the works of Ambrose, ascribes re- generation to the grace and power of God. Man, he says, is the work of God by creation; and he is again the work of God, dum reformatur per regenerationem , whilst he is remade by regeneration. And in another place he says, That good thing which seems to flourish in Christians, arises from the root of divine grace; for God of his mercy saves us by Christ, by whose grace being regenerated, we receive the Holy Ghost abundantly; that we may endeavor after good works, he helping us in all, that through these we may attain to the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven; wherefore with all devotion we ought to obey him, and comply with his commands; quia quicquid in nobis pulchrum est , because whatsoever is beautiful in us, he paints with spiritual lineaments. Again, he observes, that it is manifest, that grace is the Gift of God; not a reward due to works, but is granted in a free way, mercy intervening. In particular, he says, Faith is the gift of Godmercy, that those who are made guilty by the law may obtain pardon, wherefore, faith works joy. And in another place, The grace of faith is given that believers may be saved. True it is, because all thanksgiving for our salvation is to be referred to God, who gives his mercy to us, that he might call back wanderers to life, and those who do not seek the true way; wherefore we must not glory in ourselves, but in God, who hath regenerated us in the heavenly birth, through the faith of Christ. And upon those words, no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed , he makes this observation, Whatsoever truth is said by any one, a Spiritu Sancto dicitur , is said by the Holy Ghost.
AMBROSIUS MEDIOLANENSIS. A. D. 380.
AMBROSE of Milain frequently suggests, that every thing that is good is from God, as good thoughts, virtues, faith and obedience. “There is none”, says he, “who has not some sort of image, that is, either of holiness or sin; we walk in the image of God, quando cogitationes bonae quae nobis a Deo insitae sunt, when good thoughts, which are put into us by God, remain in us, and lead us on to good works.” In another place citing John 3:21, he makes this observation Lo here we read, that the works of men are wrought in God, and yet we cannot refer them to the divine substance; but we know, either that they are made by him, according to Colossians 1:16,17, or as the reading of the present testimony teaches, we ought to reckon that those virtues through which the fruit of eternal life is obtained, are made in or by God, as charity, piety, religion, faith, and others of the like kind, which are wrought in or by the will of God; therefore as in or by the will and power of God the Father, so likewise of Christ, they are made, according to Ephesians 2:10. And elsewhere speaking of the faith of the centurion, he says, this is not of man, sed potestate Dei, but by the power of God. Again, discoursing of Evesubjection to her husband, he makes this remark, in which I evidently perceive, says he, the mystery of Christ and the church; for the future conversion of the church to Christ, and that religious servitude subject to the word of God, which is much better than the liberty of this world, are designed. Moreover it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve; haec igitur servitus Dei donum est, wherefore this servitude is the gift of God. Regeneration, from whence spiritual obedience springs, of which faith and other graces are parts, is often referred by this pious father, to the Spirit, grace, and power of God.
That we are according to grace, born again of the Spirit, he observes, f1790 the Lord himself witnesses, John 3:6 8, wherefore it is clear, that the Holy Spirit is the author also of spiritual regeneration, because we are created after God that we may be the sons of God; therefore when he shall take us to his own kingdom by the adoption of holy regeneration, do we deny him what is his own? he hath made us heirs of regeneration which is from above, we claim the inheritance, do we disprove the author? But the benefit cannot remain when the author is excluded; neither is the author without the gift, nor the gift without the author; if you claim the grace, believe the power; if you disprove the power, do not seek after the grace.
And a little after, The more excellent regeneration, Sancti Spiritus opus est, is the work of the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit is the author of the new man which is created after the image of God. And in another place he says, f1791 There is no carnal man in Christ; but if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: non naturae novitate formatus, sed gratiae, not formed by newness of nature, but of grace. And this grace to which he frequently ascribes the new creation and formation of man, is all from the Spirit of God; for, as he observes, How can there be grace, sine Spiritu, without the Spirit, since all divine grace is in the Spirit? Wherefore in the same work he says We cannot call to the Father or the Son without the Spirit, for no man calls Jesus Lord, but in the Holy Ghost: upon which account he elsewhere says; To pray to God is spiritual grace. And again, This common life does not keep the heavenly command, but that which is supported by the eternal gift, through the operation of spiritual grace. Moreover, he observes, that to whomsoever the Spit of grace is present, nothing is wanting; and in whom the Holy Ghost is infused, there is a fullness of great virtues; all which he represents as the effect of almighty power, and as flowing from the sovereign will and pleasure of God. What, says he, is impossible by human desires, that can be possible per divinam gratiam solam, by divine grace alone. for, as he expresses himself elsewhere, Who can change nature, but he who hath created nature? to put off the bridles of lusts from minds infected with vices, says he, and amend, is not only of perfect virtue, but also of heavenly grace; for to amend things to come, is of human attention; but to damn things past, is of divine power; which power is put forth by the Lord as he pleases, for God, whom he thinks fit, he calls, et quem vult religiosum facit, and whom he pleases he makes religious; and could, if he would, of persons not devoted to him, make them devoted; and so he does when it seems good in his sight. Thus Ambrose, speaking of the Spirit of God, says, who, when he pleases, into whom he pleases, and as many as he pleases, and as much as he pleases, he inspires by his own proper will; therefore he fills with his grace whom he pleases, and as much as he pleases; he himself is not filled; he gives, he does not receive perfection; he sanctifies, but he himself is not sanctified. And in another place he says, The grace of the Lord is given, not as from merit of reward, sed quasi ex voluntate, but as of will, according to 1 Corinthians 12:11, as he will, he says, not as is due; wherefore there is no room nor reason for boasting in the creature. Let no man, says Ambrose, boast that he has a pure heart; but he that glories, let him glory in the Lord, qui sanctis suis cor mundum creare dignatus est, who vouchsafes to create a clean heart in his saints. And, as is elsewhere observed by him, Whether thou art numbered among the angels, thou oughtest always to speak in justification of God; and the glory which thou hast obtained, thou shouldest not arrogate to thine own merits, sed divinae misericordiae semper ascribes, but always ascribe it to divine mercy; lest it should be said to thee, as in 1 Corinthians 4:7, for every creature, whatsoever good things it hath, it receives from Christ, who is the author of the whole creation.
MARCUS EREMITA. A. D. 390.
MARK the Eremite ascribes every good thing to God as the author of it; he denies that he can be prevented by any good works of men, or that his grace is given in proportion to them; but affirms, that salvation is entirely of grace. First of all, says he, we certainly know, that God is the author, both beginning, middle, and end, of all good. Moreover, it is impossible that we should do any good thing, or believe but by Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Again, The author and beginning of all virtue is God, as the sun is of daily light; as often as ye do any virtuous action, remember him who said without me ye can do nothing. In another place he affirms, that a manown work does not save him, but he who gives the power of working, therefore never think, that praevenisse Dominum in virtute, thou hast prevented the Lord by thy virtue, according to his judgment who says, it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. And elsewhere he observes, that what is given by grace we ought not now to measure, according to the manner and merit of preceding weakness, since then grace would not be grace but believing in God Almighty, let us come to him with a heart single, and void of care, who through faith bestows the communications of the Spirit, non ex proportione operum nature, not in proportion to the works of nature; for, he says, ye have not received the Spirit by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith. And it is a conclusion of this writer s, that the salvation of them that are saved arises from grace, not from nature; wherefore he advises, not to seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for no man is found perfect in them, seeing the perfection of the law is hid in the cross of Christ.
JOANNES CHRYSOSTOMUS. A. D. 390.
CHRYSOSTOM, in many places, freely owns, that our calling, faith, will, and power to do good, are to be ascribed to the grace and power of God, and the energy of the Spirit; Not you laboring, says he, have found God, but living in error, autov de umav epepiasato , he himself hath drawn you out; that is, of a state of sin and misery. Again, says he, To be called and to be cleansed are of grace; and he that is called and clothed with a pure garment should continue to keep so. Diligence belongs to them that are called; for since to be called, ouk apo tes axias gegonen alla apo tes charitos , is not of merit, but of grace, therefore something ought to be returned for that grace. Again, Thou hast nothing of thine own but what thou hast received from God: not thine are those good deeds, alla tes tou Theou charitos , but are owing to the grace of God. Shouldest thou name faith, this is from calling; shouldest thou mention remission of sins, or gifts, or the teaching word, thou hast received all from thence. Hence says he elsewhere, we should reckon nothing ours, opouge kai auti e pistis ouk emeteron , seeing faith itself is not ours, but rather Gods. Hear Paul saying, and this not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. And in another place he observes, that the apostle does not say, vessels of well doing, nor vessels of liberty, but vessels of mercy; showing oti to pan este tou Theou , that the whole is of God. Upon Philippians 2:13, he has this note, f1816 kai prothumian autos emin didosi kai ergasian, and he himself gives the readiness of mind; that is, to do good, and the doing of it itself. He asserts, that a man brings nothing to the aforesaid things, meaning ordinances, and the administration of them, alla to pan tes tou Theou dunameos ergon esti , but all is the work of Godpower. Yea, he affirms, that it is impossible that a man should be able to have conversation with God, he means in prayer, or to pray unto him, aneu tes energeias tou Pneumatos , without the energy of the Spirit.
HIERONYMUS. A. D. 390.
JEROM was a warm defender of the grace of God, against Pelagius and his followers; he asserts, that all the good things we enjoy are from the free grace of God: All things, says he, speaking to and of God are thine; and whatever good thing there is, sine to cujus est, dari non potest , can not be given without thee, whose it is; for God only is he who can instruct his people, and who can give diversitates gratiae, diversities of grace, to them that wait upon him. And elsewhere, having observed God different dispensations towards men and his leaving of them to their own wills that they may receive the reward or punishment thereof, he adds, Not that all that shall come to pass shall be of man, but of the grace of him that gives all things; for so the liberty of the will is to be preserved, ut in omnibus excellat gratia largitoris, ‘that in all things the grace of the giver may excel, according to <19C701> Psalm 127:1, Romans 9:15.” And a little after he asks, “Where then is the power and judgment of man’s own free will without the grace of God?” Upon Jeremiah 32:40 he has this note, “So he gives free will, that notwithstanding the fear which is bestowed, gratia permaneat largitoris, the grace of the giver might remain. In another place, says he, f1822 “Whatever thou hast, thou thinkest non tuae esse virtutis sed ejus misericordiae, is not owing to thine own virtue, but to his mercy.” And explaining Eccl. 9:11, he thus expresses himself; “He that is light, and his soul is not oppressed, nevertheless cannot come to the goal, absque Deo ajutore, unless God is his helper. And seeing the battle is against contrary powers, of which it is written, sanctify the battle; though a man may be strong, yet he cannot conquer, propriis viribus, by his own strength.
Also one that is perfect and wise among the children of men cannot have the living and heavenly bread, but through wisdom inviting, Come, eat of my bread. And because that riches are not wanting, of which the apostle says, 1 Timothy 6:18, 1 Corinthians 4:5, it must be known, that a prudent man cannot gather those riches, nisi eas a Domino acceperit, “unless he receives them from the Lord.’ Grace also, unless it accompanies knowledge, and is granted by God, though a learned man, he cannot find it.” He frequently inculcates the necessity of divine grace to the understanding of the Scriptures. The knowledge of the Scriptures he represents as “a watered garden, or a paradise of divers trees, sed qui absque gratia spirituali est, ‘ but he that is without spiritual grace’ does not so much as bring forth herbs.” And in another place he speaks of some, who though “they did not depart from the head, Christ, yet held things contrary to their head; who promise themselves by their own judgment, a knowledge of the Scriptures, absque magistro et gratia Domini, without a master and the grace of the Lord.” Particularly he observes, that “the whole epistle to the Romans wants interpretation, and is involved in such obscurities, that to understand it Spiritus Sancti indigeamus auxilio, we stand in need of the help of the Holy Spirit;” especially the ninth chapter, and the doctrines contained in it. Yea, he signifies, that all the doctrines of the gospel are unsearchable by man’s own diligence and industry; for explaining Ephesians 3:8, he has this observation, “Those things which are in their own nature unsearchable to man, these are known, Deo revelante, ‘God revealing them;’ for it is one thing to attain to a secret through one’s own curiosity, which after it is found out ceases to be unsearchable, aliud propria diligentia, nequaquam posse comprehendere sed per gratiam cognoscere Dei, ‘another thing in nowise to be able to comprehend it through one’s own diligence, but to know it by the grace of God;’ which, when thou knowest, and hast also shown it to others, nevertheless remains unsearchable, since it was a secret to thee, as much as in thee lay before it was shown.” He asserts the necessity of the Spirit’s assistance, and the grace of God to the right performance of every good action, to which he refers it, when he says, f1828 “It is in our power to do any thing, or not to do it;. so only that whatsoever, good work we will, desire and fulfill, ad Dei gratiam referimus, ‘we refer to the grace of God,’ who, according to the apostle, gives us both to will and to do .” And again, “The divine Word bid and commanded the prophet, saying, Stand upon thy feet; sed sine auxilio Dei et adventu Spiritus Sancti stare non poterat, ‘but without the help of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit he could not stand;’ wherefore he entered into him, or took and raised him up, that he might stand firm, and be able to say, He hath set my feet upon a rock .” Yea, he affirms, that the best of men stand in need of the grace of God; thus, explaining the names of Hilkiah, Jeremiah, Shallum, and Hanameel, he says, “Hilkiah is by interpretation the portion of the Lord, a Jeremiah the height of the Lord: for rightly the height of the Lord is born from the portion of the Lord; Shallum may be translated peace or peaceable, Hanameel the gift or grace of God; nor shall we wonder that peace and grace are joined together, when the apostolic epistles begin thus, Grace be unto you, and peace; for, first, we obtain the peace of God, and after peace grace is born in us; quae non in possidentis, sed in arbitrio donantis est, which is not in the will of the possessor, but in the will of the giver.” The grace of God carries the purchase to him who is set in high places, that though he may be seen high, tamen gratia Dei indigeat, yet stands in need of the grace of God.” And elsewhere he says, that “though a man be righteous, yet whilst he is in this flesh he is subject to vices and sins, et majore praesidio indiget, and is in need of a greater succor.” He very plainly and clearly asserts, that the work of sanctification is the work of God, and owing to his grace; yea, that it is a work of his mighty power, and what he even works irresistibly. “Faith,” he says, “flows from the free will of a man’s own mind (which I suppose he means of the acts and exercise of faith being performed with freedom of will from the strength of grace; but, adds he,) sanctification is sometimes begun without our will, ex sanctificantis largitate, by the free gift of the sanctifier.” And a little after he says, “As God being good, according to his essence and nature, nos communione sui effecit bonos, ‘hath made us good by the communion of himself:” and speaks to Israel, Be ye holy, for I am holy; so he himself being blessed makes us blessed.”
Upon Ephesians 2:8-10, he has these words; “This faith is not of yourselves, but of him that calleth you: this therefore is said, lest, perhaps, a secret thought should creep into us, if we are not saved by our works, surely either by faith we are saved, and it is ours in another kind that we are saved; therefore he adds, and says, fidem quoque ipsam non nostrae voluntatis esse sed Dei muneris, ‘that this faith itself also is not of our will, but of God’s gift;’ not that he takes away free will from man; but since the liberty of the will has God for its author, all things are to be referred to his grace; seeing he even permits us to will that which is good; all this is therefore lest any one should glory in himself, and that he is not saved by God.” He goes on, and observes, that “God gives reasons why we are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves, but of the gift of God; saying, for we are his workmanship, that is, that we live, that we breathe, that we understand, et credere possumus, ‘and are able to believe.” And that the work of grace is a work of almighty power, he declares in his note on Jeremiah 13:23, “That which is impossible to men is possible to God, so that the Ethiopian or leopard can in nowise seem to change their nature; but he who works in the Ethiopian and leopard, according to Philippians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:10 Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 4:7; for which reasons “let not the wise man glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches, nor the chaste man in his chastity; knowing that in all these Christi virtus sit, is the power of Christ, not theirs who glory in their own virtues.” And that he thought, that God when he works, works irresistibly, so as that which he works t shall be accomplished, appears from these expressions of his; “We men will to do most things by counsel, but the effect in nowise follows the will; but no one can resist him so that he cannot do all that he wills: he wills whatsoever things are full of reason and counsel; he wills that all may be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; but because no man is saved without his own will, for we are endued with free will, he wills, that we will that which is good, that when we have willed, velit in nobis et ipsius suum implere consilium, he also wills in to fulfill his own counsel.”