In the first part of the book he proves that the perseverance by which a man perseveres inChrist to the end is God's gift; for that it is a mockery to ask of God that which is not believed tobe given by God. Moreover, that in the Lord's prayer scarcely anything is asked for but perseverance,according to the exposition of the martyr cyprian, by which exposition the enemies to this grace wereconvicted before they were born. He teaches that the grace of perseverance is not given according tothe merits of the receivers, but to some it is given by God's mercy; to others it is not given, byHis righteous judgment. That it is inscrutable why, of adults, one rather than another should becalled; just as, moreover, of two infants it is inscrutable why the one should be taken, the otherleft. But that it is still more inscrutable why, of two pious persons, to one it should be given topersevere, to the other it should not be given; but that this is most certain, that the former is ofthe predestinated, the latter is not. He observes that the mystery of predestination is set forth inour Lord's words concerning the people of tyre and sidon, who would have repented if the samemiracles had been done among them which had been done in chorazin. He shows that the case of infantsis of force to confirm the truth of predestination and grace in older people; and he answers thepassage of his third book on free will, unsoundly alleged on this point by his adversaries.Subsequently, in the second part of this work, he rebuts what they say,-To wit, that the definitionof predestination is opposed to the usefulness of exhortation and rebuke. He asserts, on the otherhand, that it is advantageous to preach predestination, so that man may not glory in himself, but inthe Lord. As to the objections, however, which they make against predestination, he shows that thesame objections may be twisted in no unlike manner either against God's foreknowledge or against thatgrace which they all agree to be necessary for other good things (with the exception of the beginningof faith and the completion of perseverance). For that the predestination of the saints is nothingelse than God's foreknowledge and preparation for His benefits, by which whoever are delivered aremost certainly delivered. But he bids that predestination should be preached in a harmonious manner,and not in such a way as to seem to an unskilful multitude as if it were disproved by its verypreaching. Lastly, he commends to us Jesus Christ, as placed before our eyes, as the most eminentinstance of predestination.
I Have now to consider the subject of perseverance with greater care; for in the former bookalso I said some things on this subject when I was discussing the beginning of faith. I assert,therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God;and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling.Therefore it is uncertain whether any one has received this gift so long as he is still alive. For ifhe fall before he dies, he is, of course, said not to have persevered; and most truly is it said.How, then, should he be said to have received or to have had perseverance who has not persevered? Forif any one have continence, and fall away from that virtue and become incontinent,-or, in likemanner, if he have righteousness, if patience, if even faith, and fall away, he is rightly said tohave had these virtues and to have them no longer; for he was continent, or he was righteous, or hewas patient, or he was believing, as long as he was so; but when he ceased to be so, he no longer iswhat he was. But how should he who Has not persevered have ever been persevering, since it is only bypersevering that any one shows himself persevering,-and this he has not done? But lest any one shouldobject to this, and say, If from the time at which any one became a believer he has lived-for thesake of argument-ten years, and in the midst of them has fallen from the faith, has he not perseveredfor five years? I am not contending about words. If it be thought that this also should be calledperseverance, as it were for so long as it lasts, assuredly he is not to be said to have had in anydegree that perseverance of which we are now discoursing, by which one perseveres in Christ even tothe end. And the believer of one year, or of a period as much shorter as may be conceived of, if hehas lived faithfully until he died, has rather had this perseverance than the believer of many years'standing, if a little time before his death he has fallen away from the stedfastness of hisfaith.
This matter being settled, let us see whether this perseverance, of which it was said, "Hethat persevereth unto the end, the same shall be saved,"(2) is a gift of God. And if it be not, how is thatsaying of the apostle true: "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe onHim, but also to suffer for His sake"?(3) Ofthese things, certainly, one has respect to the beginning, the other to the end. Yet each is the giftof God, because both are said to be given; as, also, I have already said above. For what is moretruly the beginning for a Christian than to believe in Christ? What end is better than to suffer forChrist? But so far as pertains to believing in Christ, whatever kind of contradiction has beendiscovered, that not the beginning but the increase of faith should be called God's gift,-to thisopinion, by God's gift, I have answered enough, and more than enough. But what reason can be givenwhy perseverance to the end should not be given in Christ to him to whom it is given to suffer forChrist, or, to speak more distinctly, to whom it is given to die for Christ? For the Apostle Peter,showing that this is the gift of God, says, "It is better, if the will of God be so, to suffer forwell-doing than for evil-doing."(4) When hesays, "If the will of God be so," he shows that this is divinely given, and yet not to all saints, tosuffer for Christ's sake. For certainly those whom the will of God does not will to attain to theexperience and the glory of suffering, do not fail to attain to the kingdom of God if they perseverein Christ to the end. But who can say that this perseverance is not given to those who die in Christfrom any weakness of booty, or by any kind of accident, although a far more difficult perseverance isgiven to those by whom even death itself is undergone for Christ's sake? Because perseverance is muchmore difficult when the persecutor is engaged in preventing a man's perseverance; and therefore he issustained in his perseverance unto death. Hence it is more difficult to have the formerperseverance,-easier to have the latter; but to Him to whom nothing is difficult it is easy to giveboth. For God has promised this, saying, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may notdepart from me."(5) And what else is thisthan, "Such and so great shall be my fear that I will put into their hearts that they willperseveringly cleave to me"?
But why is that perseverance asked for from God if it is not given by God? Is that, too, amocking petition, when that is asked from Him which it is known that He does not give, but, though Hegives it not, is in man's power; just as that giving of thanks is a mockery, if thanks are given toGod for that which He did not give nor do? But what I have said there,(6) I say also here again: "Be not deceived," says theapostle, "God is not mocked."(7) O man, God isa witness not only of your words, but also of your thoughts. If you ask anything in truth and faithof one who is so rich, believe that you receive from Him from whom you ask, what you ask. Abstainfrom honouring Him with your lips and extolling yourself over Him in your heart, by believing thatyou have from yourself what you are pretending to beseech from Him. Is not this perseverance,perchance, asked for from Him? He who says this is not to be rebuked by any arguments, but must beoverwhelmed(8) with the prayers of the saints.Is there any of these who does not ask for himself from God that he may persevere in Him, when inthat very prayer which is called the Lord's-because the Lord taught it-when it is prayed by thesaints, scarcely anything else is understood to be prayed for but perseverance?
Read with a little more attention its exposition in the treatise of the blessed martyrCyprian, which he wrote concerning this matter, the title of which is, On the Lord's Prayer;and see how many years ago, and what sort of an antidote was prepared against those poisons which thePelagians were one day to use. For there are three points, as you know, which the catholic Churchchiefly maintains against them. One of these is, that the grace of God is not given according to ourmerits; because even every one of the merits of the righteous is God's gift, and is conferred byGod's grace. The second is, that no one lives in this corruptible body, however righteous he may be,without sins of some kind. The third is, that man is born obnoxious to the first man's sin, and boundby the chain of condemnation, unless the guilt which is contracted by generation be loosed byregeneration. Of these three points, that which I have placed last is the only one that is nottreated of in the above-named book of the glorious martyr; but of the two others the discourse thereis of such perspicuity, that the above-named heretics, modern enemies of the grace of Christ, arefound to have been convicted long before they were born. Among these merits of the saints, then,which are no merits unless they are the gifts of God, he says that perseverance also is God's gift,in these words: "We say, `Hallowed be Thy name;' not that we ask for God that He may be hallowed byour prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us. But by whom is Godsanctified, since He Himself sanctifies? Well, because He says, Be ye holy because I also am holy, weask and entreat that we, who were sanctified in baptism, may persevere in that which we have begun tobe."(9) And a little after, still arguingabout that self-same matter, and teaching that we entreat perseverance from the Lord, which we couldin no wise rightly and truly do unless it were His gift, he says: "We pray that this sanctificationmay abide in us; and because our Lord and Judge warns the man that was healed and quickened by Him tosin no more, lest a worse thing happen unto him, we make this supplication in our constant prayers;we ask this, day and night, that the sanctification and quickening which is received from the graceof God may be preserved by His protection."(10) That teacher, therefore, understands that we areasking from Him for perseverance in sanctification, that is, that we should persevere insanctification, when we who are sanctified say," Hallowed be Thy name." For what else is it to askfor what we have already received, than that it be given to us also not to cease from its possession?As, therefore, the saint, when he asks God that he may be holy, is certainly asking that he maycontinue to be holy, so certainly the chaste person also, when he asks that he may be chaste, thecontinent that he may be continent, the righteous that he may be righteous, the pious that he may bepious, and the like,-which things, against the Pelagians, we maintain to be God's gifts,-are asking,without doubt, that they may persevere in those good things which they have acknowledged that theyhave received. And if they receive this, assuredly they also receive perseverance itself, the greatgift of God, whereby His other gifts are preserved.
What, when we say, "Thy kingdom come," do we ask else, but that that should also come to uswhich we do not doubt will come to all saints? And therefore here also, what do they who are alreadyholy pray for, save that they may persevere in that holiness which has been given them? For nootherwise will the kingdom of God come to them; which it is certain will come not to others, but tothose who persevere to the end.
The third petition is, "Thy will be done in heaven and in earth;" or, as it is read in manycodices, and is more frequently made use of by petitioners, "As in heaven, so also in earth," whichmany people understand, "As the holy angels, so also may we do thy will." That teacher and martyrwill have heaven and earth, however, to be understood as spirit and flesh, and says that we pray thatwe may do the will of God with the full concord of both. He saw in these words also another meaning,congruous to the soundest faith, of which meaning I have already spoken above,-to wit, that forunbelievers, who are as yet earth, bearing in their first birth only the earthly man,believers are understood to pray, who, being clothed with the heavenly man, are not unreasonablycalled by the name of heaven; where he plainly shows that the beginning of faith also is God'sgift, since the holy Church prays not only for believers, that faith may be increased or may continuein them, but, moreover, for unbelievers, that they may begin to have what they have not had at all,and against which, besides, they were indulging hostile feelings. Now, however, I am arguing notconcerning the beginning of faith, of which. I have already spoken much in the former book, but ofthat perseverance which must be had even to the end,-which assuredly even the saints, who do the willof God, seek when they say in prayer, "Thy will be done." For, since it is already done in them, whydo they still ask that it may be done, except that they may persevere in that which they have begunto be? Nevertheless, it may here be said that the saints do not ask that the will of God may be donein heaven, but that it may be done in earth as in heaven,-that is to say, that earth may imitateheaven, that is, that man may imitate the angel, or that an unbeliever may imitate a believer; andthus that the saints are asking that that may be which is not yet, not that that which is maycontinue. For, by whatever holiness men may be distinguished, they are not yet equal to the angels ofGod; not yet, therefore, is the will of God done in them as it is in heaven. And if this be so, inthat portion indeed in which we ask that men from unbelievers may become believers, it is notperseverance, but beginning, that seems to be asked for; but in that in which we ask that men may bemade equal to the angels of God in doing God's will,-where the saints pray for this, they are foundto be praying for perseverance; since no one attains to that highest blessedness which is in thekingdom, unless he shall persevere unto the end in that holiness which he has received on earth.
The fourth petition is, "Give us this day our daily bread,"(11) where the blessed Cyprian shows how here alsoperseverance is understood to be asked for. Because he says, among other things, "And we ask thatthis bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharistfor the food of salvation, may not by the interposition of some heinous sin be separated fromChrist's body by being withheld from communicating and prevented from partaking of the heavenlybread."(12) These words of the holy man of Godindicate that the saints ask for perseverance directly from God, when with this intention they say,"Give us this day our daily bread," that they may not be separated from Christ's body, but maycontinue in that holiness in which they allow no crime by which they may deserve to be separated fromit.
In the fifth sentence of the prayer we say, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive ourdebtors,"(13) in which petition aloneperseverance is not found to be asked for. For the sins which we ask to be forgiven us are past, butperseverance, which saves us for eternity, is indeed necessary for the time of this life; but not forthe time which is past, but for that which remains even to its end. Yet it is worth the labour toconsider for a little, how even already in this petition the heretics who were to arise long afterwere transfixed by the tongue of Cyprian, as if by the most invincible dart of truth. For thePelagians dare to say even this: that the righteous man in this life has no sin at all, and that insuch men there is even at the present time a Church not having spot or wrinkle or any suchthing,(14) which is the one and only bride ofChrist; as if she were not His bride who throughout the whole earth says what she has learnt fromHim, "Forgive us our debts." But observe how the most glorious Cyprian destroys these. For when hewas expounding that very clause of the Lord's Prayer, he says among other things: "And hownecessarily, how providently, and salutarily are we admonished that we are sinners, since we arecompelled to entreat for our sins; and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its ownconsciousness. Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himselfshould more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden dailyto entreat for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his Epistle warns(15) us, and says,(16) 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceiveourselves, and the truth is not in us.'"(17)And the rest, which it would be long to insert in this place.
Now, moreover, when the saints say, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us fromevil,"(18) what do they pray for but that theymay persevere in holiness? For, assuredly, when that gift of God is granted to them,-which issufficiently plainly shown to be God's gift, since it is asked of Him,-that gift of God, then, beinggranted to them that they may not be led into temptation, none of the saints fails to keep hisperseverance in holiness even to the end. For there is not any one who ceases to persevere in theChristian purpose unless he is first of all led into temptation. If, therefore, it be granted to himaccording to his prayer that he may not be led, certainly by the gift of God he persists in thatsanctification which by the gift of God he has received.
But you write that "these brethren will not have this perseverance so preached as that itcannot be obtained by prayer or lost by obstinacy."(19) In this they are little careful in consideringwhat they say. For we are speaking of that perseverance whereby one perseveres unto the end, and ifthis is given, one does persevere unto the end; but if one does not persevere unto the end, it is notgiven, which I have already sufficiently discussed above. Let not men say, then, that perseverance isgiven to any one to the end, except when the end itself has come, and he to whom it has been givenhas been found to have persevered unto the end. Certainly, we say that one whom we have known to bechaste is chaste, whether he should continue or not in the same chastity; and if he should have anyother divine endowment which may be kept and lost, we say that he has it as long as he has it; and ifhe should lose it, we say that he had it. But since no one has perseverance to the end except he whodoes persevere to the end, many people may have it, but none can lose it. For it is not to be fearedthat perchance when a man has persevered unto the end, some evil will may arise in him, so that hedoes not persevere unto the end. This gift of God, therefore, may be obtained by prayer, but when ithas been given, it cannot be lost by contumacy. For when any one has persevered unto the end, heneither can lose this gift, nor others which he could lose before the end. How, then, can that belost, whereby it is brought about that even that which could be lost is not lost?
But, lest perchance it be said that perseverance even to the end is not indeed lost when ithas once been given,-that is, when a man has persevered unto the end,-but that it is lost, in somesense, when a man by contumacy so acts that he is not able to attain to it; just as we say that a manwho has not persevered unto the end has lost eternal life or the kingdom of God, not because he hadalready received and actually had it, but because he would have received and had it if he hadpersevered;-let us lay aside controversies of words, and say that some things even which are notpossessed, but are hoped to be possessed, may be lost. Let any one who dares, tell me whether Godcannot give what He has commanded to be asked from Him. Certainly he who affirms this, I say not is afool, but he is mad. But God commanded that His saints should say to Him in prayer, "Lead us not intotemptation." Whoever, therefore, is heard when he asks this, is not led into the temptation ofcontumacy, whereby he could or would be worthy to lose perseverance in holiness.
But, on the other hand, "of his own will a man forsakes God, so as to be deservedly forsakenby God." Who would deny this? But it is for that reason we ask not to be led into temptation, so thatthis may not happen. And if we are heard, certainly it does not happen, because God does not allow itto happen. For nothing comes to pass except what either He Himself does, or Himself allows to bedone. Therefore He is powerful both to turn wills from evil to good, and to convert those that areinclined to fall, or to direct them into a way pleasing to Himself. For to Him it is not said invain, "O God, Thou shalt turn again and quicken us;"(20) it is not vainly said, "Give not my foot to bemoved;"(21) it is not vainly said, "Give menot over, O Lord, from my desire to the sinner;"(22) finally, not to mention many passages, sinceprobably more may occur to you, it is not vainly said, "Lead us not into temptation."(23) For whoever is not led into temptation, certainlyis not led into the temptation of his own evil will; and he who is not led into the temptation of hisown evil will, is absolutely led into no temptation. For "every one is tempted," as it is written,"when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed;"(24) "but God tempteth no man,"(25) -that is to say, with a hurtful temptation. Fortemptation is moreover beneficial by which we are not deceived or overwhelmed, but proved, accordingto that which is said, "Prove me, O Lord, and try me."(26) Therefore, with that hurtful temptation which theapostle signifies when he says, "Lost by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour bein vain,"(27) "God tempteth no man," as I havesaid,-that is, He brings or leads no one into temptation. For to be tempted and not to be led intotemptation is not evil,-nay, it is even good; for this it is to be proved. When, therefore, we say toGod, "Lead us not into temptation," what do we say but, "Permit us not to be led"? Whence some prayin this manner, and it is read in many codices, and the most blessed Cyprian thus uses it: "Do notsuffer us to be led into temptation." In the Greek gospel, however, I have never found it otherwisethan, "Load us not into temptation." We live, therefore, more securely if we give up the whole toGod, and do not entrust ourselves partly to Him and partly to ourselves, as that venerable martyrsaw. For when he would expound the same clause of the prayer, he says among other things, "But whenwe ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness while wethus ask, lest any should insolently vaunt himself,-lest any should proudly and arrogantly assumeanything to himself,-lest any should take to himself the glory either of confession or suffering ashis own; since the Lord Himself, teaching humility, said, 'Watch and pray, that ye enter not intotemptation; the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' So that when a humble andsubmissive confession comes first and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly,with the fear of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness."(28)
If, then, there were no other proofs, this Lord's Prayer alone would be sufficient for us onbehalf of the grace which I am defending; because it leaves us nothing wherein we may, as it were,glory as in our own, since it shows that our not departing from God is not given except by God, whenit shows that it must be asked for from God. For he who is not led into temptation does not departfrom God. This is absolutely not in the strength of free will, such as it now is; but it had been inman before he fell. And yet how much this freedom of will availed in the excellence of that primalstate appeared in the angels; who, when the devil and his angels fell, stood in the truth, anddeserved to attain to that perpetual security of not falling, in which we are most certain that theyare now established. But, after the fall of man, God willed it to pertain only to His grace that manshould approach to Him; nor did He will it to pertain to aught but His grace that man should notdepart from Him.
This grace He placed "in Him in whom we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according tothe purpose of Him who worketh all things."(29) And thus as He worketh that we come to Him, so Heworketh that we do not depart. Wherefore it was said to Him by the mouth of the prophet, "Let Thyhand be upon the man of Thy right hand, and upon the Son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself,and we will not depart from Thee."(30) Thiscertainly is not the first Adam, in whom we departed from Him, but the second Adam, upon whom Hishand is placed, so that we do not depart from Him. For Christ altogether with His members is-for theChurch's sake, which is His body-the fulness of Him. When, therefore, God's hand is upon Him, that wedepart not from God, assuredly God's work reaches to us (for this is God's hand); by which work ofGod we are caused to be abiding in Christ with God-not, as in Adam, departing from God. For "inChrist we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things."This, therefore, is God's hand, not ours, that we depart not from God. That, I say, is His hand whosaid, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they depart not from me."(31)
Wherefore, also He willed that He should be asked that we may not be led into temptation,because if we are not led, we by no means depart from Him. And this might have been given to us evenwithout our praying for it, but by our prayer He willed us to be admonished from whom we receivethese benefits. For from whom do we receive but from Him from whom it is right for us to ask? Trulyin this matter let not the Church look for laborious disputations, but consider its own dailyprayers. It prays that the unbelieving may believe; therefore God converts to the faith. It praysthat believers may persevere; therefore God gives perseverance to the end. God foreknew that He woulddo this. This is the very predestination of the saints, "whom He has chosen in Christ before thefoundation of the world, that they should be holy and unspotted before Him in love; predestinatingthem unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of Hiswill, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He hath shown them favour in His beloved Son,in whom they have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches ofHis grace, which has abounded towards them in all wisdom and prudence; that He might show them themystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Him, in the dispensationof the fulness of times to restore all things in Christ which are in heaven and which are in earth;in Him, in whom also we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who workethall things."(32) Against a trumpet of truth soclear as this, what man of sober and watchful faith can receive any human arguments?
But "why," says one, "is not the grace of God given according to men's merits?" I answer,Because God is merciful. "Why, then," it is asked, "is it not given to all?" And here I reply,Because God is a Judge.(33) And thus grace isgiven by Him freely; and by His righteous judgment it is shown in some what grace confers on those towhom it is given. Let us not then be ungrateful, that according to the good pleasure of His will amerciful God delivers so many to the praise of the glory of His grace from such deserved perdition;as, if He should deliver no one therefrom, He would not be unrighteous. Let him, therefore, who isdelivered love Hisgrace. Let him who is not delivered acknowledge his due. If, in remitting a debt,goodness is perceived, in requiring it, justice-unrighteousness is never found to be with God.
"But why," it is said, "in one and the same case, not only of infants, but even of twinchildren, is the judgment so diverse?" Is it not a similar question, "Why in a different case is thejudgment the same?" Let us recall, then, those labourers in the vineyard who worked the whole day,and those who toiled one hour. Certainly the case was different as to the labour expended, and yetthere was the same judgment in paying the wages. Did the murmurers in this case hear anything fromthe householder except, Such is my will? Certainly such was his liberality towards some, that therecould be no injustice towards others. And both these classes, indeed, are among the good.Nevertheless, so far as it concerns justice and grace, it may be truly said to the guilty who iscondemned, also concerning the guilty who is delivered, "Take what thine is, and go thy way;"(34) "I will give unto this one that which is notdue;" "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thine eye evil because I am good?" And how if heshould say, "Why not to me also?" He will hear, and with reason, "Who art thou, O man, that repliestagainst God?"(35) And although assuredly inthe one case you see a most benignant benefactor, and in your own case a most righteous exactor, inneither case do you behold an unjust God. For although He would be righteous even if He were topunish both, he who is delivered has good ground for thankfulness, he who is condemned has no groundfor finding fault.
"But if," it is said, "it was necessary that, although all were not condemned, He shouldstill show what was due to all, and so He should commend His grace more freely to the vessels ofmercy; why in the same case will He punish me more than another, or deliver him more than me?" I saynot this. If you ask wherefore; because I confess that I can find no answer to make. And if youfurther ask why is this, it is because in this matter, even as His anger is righteous and as Hismercy is great, so His judgments are unsearchable.
Let the inquirer still go on, and say, "Why is it that to some who have in good faithworshipped Him He has not given to persevere to the end?" Why except because he does not speakfalsely who says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us,doubtless they would have continued with us."(36) Are there, then, two natures of men? By no means.If there were two natures there would not be any grace, for there would be given a gratuitousdeliverance to none if it were paid as a debt to nature. But it seems to men that all who appear goodbelievers ought to receive perseverance to the end. But God has judged it to be better to mingle somewho would not persevere with a certain number of His saints, so that those for whom security fromtemptation in this life is not desirable may not be secure. For that which the apostle says, checksmany from mischievous elation: "Wherefore let him who seems to stand take heed lest he fall."(37) But he who falls, falls by his own will, and hewho stands, stands by God's will. "For God is able to make him stand;"(38) therefore he is not able to make himself stand,but God. Nevertheless, it is good not to be high-minded, but to fear. Moreover, it is in his ownthought that every one either fills or stands. Now, as the apostle says, and as I have mentioned inmy former treatise, "We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is ofGod."(39) Following whom also the blessedAmbrose ventures to say, "For our heart is not in our own power, nor are our thoughts." And thiseverybody who is humbly and truly pious feels to be most true.
And when Ambrose said this, he was speaking in that treatise which he wrote concerning Flightfrom the World, wherein he taught that this world was to be fled not by the body, but by the heart,which he argued could not be done except by God's help. For he says: "We hear frequent discourseconcerning fleeing from this world, and I would that the mind was as careful and solicitous as thediscourse is easy; but what is worse, the enticement of earthly lusts constantly creeps in, and thepouring out of vanities takes possession of the mind; so that what you desire to avoid, this youthink of and consider in your mind. And this is difficult for a man to beware of, but impossible toget rid of. Finally, the prophet bears witness that it is a matter of wish rather than ofaccomplishment, when he says, 'Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.'(40) For our heart and our thoughts are not in our ownpower, and these, poured forth unexpectedly, confuse our mind and soul, and draw them in a differentdirection from that which you have proposed to yourself; they recall you to worldly things, theyinterpose things of time, they suggest voluptuous things, they inweave enticing things, and in thevery moment when we are seeking to elevate our mind, we are for the most part filled with vainthoughts and cast down to earthly things."(41)Therefore it is not in the power of men, but in that of God, that men have power to become sons ofGod.(42) Because they receive it from Him whogives pious thoughts to the human heart, by which it has faith, which worketh by love;(43) for the receiving and keeping of which benefit,and for carrying it on perseveringly unto the end, we are not sufficient to think anything as ofourselves, but our sufficiency is of God,(44)in whose power is our heart and our thoughts.
Therefore, of two infants, equally bound by original sin, why the one is taken and the otherleft; and of two wicked men of already mature years, why this one should be so called as to followHim that calleth, while that one is either not called at all, or is not called in such a manner,-thejudgments of God are unsearchable. But of two pious men, why to the one should be given perseveranceunto the end, and to the other it should not be given, God's judgments are even more unsearchable.Yet to believers it ought to be a most certain fact that the former is of the predestinated, thelatter is not. "For if they had been of us," says one of the predestinated, who had drunk this secretfrom the breast of the Lord, "certainly they would have continued with us."(45) What, I ask, is the meaning of, "They were not ofus; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us"? Were not both createdby God-both born of Adam-both made from the earth, and given from Him who said, "I have created allbreath,"(46) souls of one and the same nature?Lastly, had not both been called, and followed Him that called them? and had not both become, fromwicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hearthis who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. Inrespect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain otherdistinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continuedwith us. What then is this distinction? God's books lie open, let us not turn away our view; thedivine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had notbeen "called according to the purpose;" they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation ofthe world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purposewho worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubtthey would have continued with them.
For not to say how possible it may be for God to convert the wills of men averse and opposedto His faith, and to operate on their hearts so that they yield to no adversities, and are overcomeby no temptation so as to depart from: Him,-since He also can do what the apostle says, namely, notallow them to be tempted above that which they are able;-not, then, to say this, God foreknowing thatthey would fall, was certainly able to take them away from this life before that fall should occur.Are we to return to that point of still arguing how absurdly it is said that dead men are judged evenfor those sins which God foreknew that they would have committed if they had lived? which is soabhorrent to the feelings of Christians, or even of human beings, that one is even ashamed to rebutit. Why should it not be said that even the gospel: itself has been preached, with so much labourstill preached in vain, if men could be even without hearing the gospel, according to the contumacyor obedience which God foreknew that they would have had if they had heard it? Tyre and Sidon wouldnot have been condemned, although more slightly than those cities in which, although they did notbelieve, wonderful works were done by Christ the Lord; because if they had been done in them, theywould have repented in dust and ashes, as the utterances of the Truth declare, in which words of Histhe Lord Jesus shows to us the loftier mystery of predestination.
For if we are asked why such miracles were done among those who, when they saw them, wouldnot believe them, and were not done among those who would have believed them if they had seen them,what shall we answer? Shall we say what I have said in that book(47) wherein I answered some six questions of thePagans, yet without prejudice of other matters which the wise can inquire into? This indeed I said,as you know, when it was asked why Christ came after so long a time: "that at those times and inthose places in which His gospel was not preached, He foreknew that all men would, in regard of Hispreaching, be such as many were in His bodily presence,-people, namely, who would not believe on Him,even though the dead were raised by Him." Moreover, a little after in the same book, and on the samequestion, I say, "What wonder, if Christ knew in former ages that the world was so filled withunbelievers, that He was, with reason, unwilling for His gospel to be preached to them whom Heforeknew to be such as would not believe either His words or His miracles"? Certainly we cannot saythis of Tyre and Sidon; and in their case we recognise that those divine judgments had reference tothose causes of predestination, without prejudice to which hidden causes I said that I was thenanswering such questions as those. Certainly it is easy to accuse the unbelief of the Jews, arisingas it did from their free will, since they refused to believe in such great wonders done amongthemselves. And this the Lord, reproaching them, declares when He says, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin andBethsaida, because if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you,they would long ago have repented in dust and ashes."(48) But can we say that even the Tyrians andSidonians would have refused to believe such mighty works done among them, or would not have believedthem if they had been done, when the Lord Himself bears witness to them that they would have repentedwith great humility if those signs of divine power had been done among them? And yet in the day ofjudgment they will be punished; although with a less punishment than those cities which would notbelieve the mighty works done in them. For the Lord goes on to say, "Nevertheless, I say unto you, itshall be more tolerablefor Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you."(49) Therefore the former shall be punished withgreater severity, the latter with less; but yet they shall be punished. Again, if the dead are judgedeven in respect of deeds which they would have done if they had lived, assuredly since these wouldhave been believers if the gospel had been preached to them with so great miracles, they certainlyought not to be punished; but they will be punished. It is therefore false that the dead are judgedin respect also of those things which they would have done if the gospel had reached them when theywere alive. And if this is false, there is no ground for saying, concerning infants who perishbecause they die without baptism, that this happens in their case deservedly, because God foreknewthat if they should live and the gospel should be preached to them, they would hear it with unbelief.It remains, therefore, that they are kept bound by original sin alone, and for this alone they gointo condemnation; and we see that in others in the same case this is not remitted, except by thegratuitous grace of God in regeneration; and that, by His secret yet righteous judgment-because thereis no unrighteousness with God-that some, who even after baptism will perish by evil living, are yetkept in this life until they perish, who would not have perished if bodily death had forestalledtheir lapse into sin, and so come to their help. Because no dead man is judged by the good or evilthings which he would have done if he had not died, otherwise the Tyrians and Sidonians would nothave suffered the penalties according to what they did; but rather according to those things thatthey would have done, if those evangelical mighty works had been done in them, they wouldhaveobtained salvation by great repentance, andby the faith of Christ.
A certain catholic disputant of no mean reputation so expounded this passage of the gospel asto say, that the Lord foreknew that the Tyrians and Sidonians would have afterwards departed from thefaith, although they had believed the miracles done among them; and that in mercy He did not workthose miracles there, because they would have been liable to severer punishment if they had forsakenthe faith which they had once held, than if they had at no time held it. In which opinion of alearned and exceedingly acute man, why am I now concerned to say what is still reasonably to beasked, when even thisopinion serves me for the purpose at which I aim? For if the Lord in His mercydid not do mighty works among them, since by these works they might possibly become believers, sothat they might not be more severely punished when they should subsequently become unbelievers, as Heforeknew that they would,-it is sufficiently and plainly shown that no dead person is judged forthose sins which He foreknew that he would have done, if in some manner he were not helped not to dothem; just as Christ is said to have come to the aid of the Tyrians and Sidonians, if that opinion betrue, who He would rather should not come to the faith at all, than that by a much greater wickednessthey should depart from the faith, as, if they had come to it, He foresaw they would have done.Although if it be said, "Why was it not provided that they should rather believe, and this giftshould be bestowed on them, that before they forsook the faith they should depart from this life"? Iam ignorant what reply can be made. For he who says that to those who would forsake their faith itwould have been granted, as a kindness, that they should not begin to have what, by a more seriousimpiety, they would subsequently forsake, sufficiently indicates that a man is not judged by thatwhich it is foreknown he would have done ill, if by any act of kindness he may be prevented fromdoing it. Therefore it is an advantage also to him who is taken away, lest wickedness should alterhis understanding. But why this advantage should not have been given to the Tyrians and Sidonians,that they might believe and be taken away, lest wickedness should alter their understanding, heperhaps might answer who was pleased in such a way to solve the above question; but, as far asconcerns what I am discussing, I see it to be enough that, even according to that very opinion, menare shown not to be judged in respect of those things which they have not done, even although theymay have been foreseen as certain to have done them. However, as I have said, let us think shame evento refute this opinion, whereby sins are supposed to be punished in people who die or have diedbecause they have been foreknown as certain to do them if they had lived; lest we also may seem tohave thought it to be of some importance, although we would rather repress it by argument than passit over in silence.
Accordingly, as says the apostle, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,but of God that showeth mercy,"(50) who bothcomes to the help of such infants as He will, although they neither will nor run, since He chose themin Christ before the foundation of the world as those to whom He intended to give His gracefreely,-that is, with no merits of theirs, either of faith or of works, preceding; and does not cometo the help of those who are more mature, although He foresaw that they would believe His miracles ifthey should be done among them, because He wills not to come to their help, since in Hispredestination He, secretly indeed, but yet righteous]y, has otherwise determined concerning them.For "there is no unrighteousness with God;"(51) but "His judgments are un-searchable, and Hisways are past finding out; all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth."(52) Therefore the mercy is past finding out by whichHe has mercy on whom He will, no merits of his own preceding; and the truth is unsearchable by whichHe hardeneth whom He will, even although his merits may have preceded, but merits for the most partcommon to him with the man on whom He has mercy. As of two twins, of which one is taken and the otherleft, the end is unequal, while the deserts are common, yet in these the one is in such wisedelivered by God's great goodness, that the other is condemned by no injustice of God's. For is thereunrighteousness with God? Away with the thought! but His ways are past finding out. Therefore let usbelieve in His mercy in the case of those who are delivered, and in His truth in the case of thosewho are punished, without any hesitation; and let us not endeavour to look into that which isinscrutable, nor to trace that which cannot be found out. Because out of the mouth of babes andsucklings He perfects His praise,(53) so thatwhat we see in those whose deliverance is preceded by no good deservings of theirs, and in thosewhose condemnation is only preceded by original sin, common alike to both,-this we by no means shrinkfrom as occurring in the case of grown-up people, that is, because we do not think either that graceis given to any one according to his own merits, or that any one is punished except for his ownmerits, whether they are alike who are delivered and who are punished, or have unequal degrees ofevil; so that he who thinketh he standeth may take heed lest he fall, and he who glorieth may glorynot in himself, but in the Lord.
But wherefore is "the case of infants not allowed," as you write, "to be alleged as anexample for their elders," by men who do not hesitate to affirm against the Pelagians that there isoriginal sin, which entered by one man into the world, and that from one all have gone intocondemnation?(54) This, the Manicheans, too,do not receive, who not only reject all the Scriptures of the Old Testament as of authority, but evenreceive those which belong to the New Testament in such a manner as that each man, by his ownprerogative as it were, or rather by his own sacrilege, takes what he likes, and rejects what he doesnot like,-in opposition to whom I treated in my writings on Free Will, whence they think that theyhave a ground of objection against me. I have been unwilling to deal plainly with the very laboriousquestions that occurred, lest my work should become too long, in a case which, as opposed to suchperverse men, I could not have the assistance of the authority of the sacred Scriptures. And I wasable,-as I actually did, whether anything of the divine testimonies might be true or not, seeing thatI did not definitely introduce them into the argument,-nevertheless, by certain reasoning, toconclude that God in all things is to be praised, without any necessity of believing, as they wouldhave us, that there are two co-eternal, confounded substances of good and evil.
Finally, in the first book of the Retractations,(55) which work of mine you have not yet read, when Ihad come to the reconsidering of those same books, that is, on the subject of Free Will, I thusspoke: "In these books," I say, "many things were so discussed that on the occurring of somequestions which either I was not able to elucidate, or which required a long discussion at once, theywere so deferred as that from either side, or from all sides, of those questions in which what wasmost in harmony with the truth did not appear, yet my reasoning might be conclusive for this, namely,that whichever of them might be true, God might be believed, or even be shown, to be worthy ofpraise. Because that discussion was undertaken for the sake of those who deny that the origin of evilis derived from the free choice of the will, and contend that God,-if He be so,-as the Creator of allnatures, is worthy of blame; desiring in that manner, according to the error of their impiety (forthey are Manicheans), to introduce a certain immutable nature of evil co-eternal with God." Also,after a little time, in another place I say: "Then it was said, From this misery, most righteouslyinflicted on sinners, God's grace delivers, because man of his own accord, that is, by free will,could fall, but could not also rise. To this misery of just condemnation belong the ignorance and thedifficulty which every man suffers from the beginning of his birth, and no one is delivered from thatevil except by the grace of God. And this misery the Pelagians will not have to descend from a justcondemnation, because they deny original sin; although even if the ignorance and difficulty were thenatural beginnings of man, God would not even thus deserve to be reproached, but to be praised, as Ihave argued in the same third book.(56) Whichargument must be regarded as against the Manicheans, who do not receive the holy Scriptures of theOld Testament, in which original sin is narrated; and whatever thence is read in the apostolicepistles, they contend was introduced with a detestable impudence by the corrupters of theScriptures, assuming that it was not said by the apostles. But against the Pelagians that must bemaintained which both Scriptures commend, as they profess to receive them." These things I said in myfirst book of Retractations, when I was reconsidering the books on Free Will. Nor, indeed,were these things all that were said by me there about these books, but there were many others also,which I thought it would be tedious to insert in this work for you, and not necessary; and this Ithink you also will judge when you have read all. Although, therefore, in the third book on Free WillI have in such wise argued concerning infants, that even if what the Pelagians say were true,-thatignorance and difficulty, without which no man is born, are elements, not punishments, of ournature,-still the Manicheans would be overcome, who will have it that the two natures, to wit, ofgood and evil; are co-eternal. Is, therefore, the faith to be called in question or forsaken, whichthe catholic Church maintains against those very Pelagians, asserting as she does that it is originalsin, the guilt of which, contracted by generation, must be remitted by regeneration? And if theyconfess this with us, so that we may at once, in this matter of the Pelagians, destroy error, why dothey think that it must be doubted that God can deliver even infants, to whom He gives His grace bythe sacrament of baptism, from the power of darkness, and translate them into the kingdom of the Sonof His love?(57) In the fact, therefore, thatHe gives that grace to some, and does not give it to others. why will they not stag to the Lord Hismercy and judgment?(58) Why, however, is itgiven to these, rather than to those,-who has known the mind of the Lord? who is able to look intounsearchable things? who to trace out that which is past finding out?
It is therefore settled that God's grace is not given according to the deserts of therecipients, but according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise and glory of His own grace;so that he who glorieth may by no means glory in himself, but in the Lord, who gives to those men towhom He will, because He is merciful, what if, however, He does not give, He is righteous: and Hedoes not give to whom He will not, that He may make known the riches of His glory to the vessels ofmercy.(59) For by giving to some what they donot deserve, He has certainly willed that His grace should be gratuitous, and thus genuine grace; bynot giving to all, He has shown what all deserve. Good in His goodness to some, righteous in thepunishment of others; both good in respect of all, because it is good when that which is due isrendered, and righteous in respect of all, since that which is not due is given without wrong to anyone.
But God's grace, that is, true grace without merits, is maintained, even if infants, whenbaptized, according to the view of the Pelagians, are not plucked out of the power of darkness,because they are held guilty of no sin, as the Pelagians think, but are only transferred into theLord's kingdom: for even thus, without any good merits, the kingdom is given to those to whom it isgiven; and without any evil merits it is not given to them to whom it is not given. And this we arein the habit of saying in opposition to the same Pelagians, when they object to us that we attributeGod's grace to fate, when we say that it is given not in respect to our merits. For they themselvesrather attribute God's grace to fate in the case of infants, if they say that when there is no meritit is fate.(60) Certainly, even according tothe Pelagians themselves, no merits can be found in infants to cause that some of them should beadmitted into the kingdom, and others should be alienated from the kingdom. But now, just as in orderto show that God's grace is not given according to our merits, I preferred to maintain this truth inaccordance with both opinions,-both in accordance with our own, to wit, who say that infants arebound by original sin, and according to that of the Pelagians, who deny that there is original sin,and yet I cannot on that account doubt that infants have what He can pardon them who saves His peoplefrom their sins: so in the third book on Free Will, according to both views, I have withstood theManicheans, whether ignorance and difficulty be punishments or elements of nature without which noman is born; and yet I hold one of these views. There, moreover, it is sufficiently evidentlydeclared by me, that is not the nature of man as he was ordained, but his punishment ascondemned.
Therefore it is in vain that it is prescribed to me from that old book of mine, that I maynot argue the case as I ought to argue it in respect of infants; and that thence I may not persuademy opponents by the light of a manifest truth, that God's grace is not given according to men'smerits. For if, when I began my books concerning Free Will as a layman, and finished them as apresbyter, I still doubted of the condemnation of infants not born again, and of the deliverance ofinfants that were born again, no one, as I think, would be so unfair and envious as to hinder myprogress, and judge that I must continue in that uncertainty. But it can more correctly be understoodthat it ought to be believed that I did not doubt in that matter, for the reason that they againstwhom my purpose was directed seemed to me in such wise to be rebutted, as that whether there was apunishment of original sin in infants, according to the truth, or whether there was not, as somemistaken people think, yet in no degree should such a confusion of the two natures be believed in, towit, of good and evil, as the error of the Manicheans introduces. Be it therefore far from usso toforsake the case of infants as to say toourselves that it is uncertain whether, being regenerated inChrist, if they die in infancy theypass into eternal salvation; but that, not being regenerated, theypass into the second death.Because that which is written, "By one man sin entered into the world, anddeath by sin, and so death passed upon all men,"(61) cannot be rightly understood in any other manner;nor from that eternal death which is most righteously repaid to sin does any deliver any one, smallor great, save He who, for the sake of remitting our sins, both original and personal, died withoutany sin of His own, either original or personal. But why some rather than others? Again and again wesay, and do not shrink from it "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?"(62) "His judgments are unsearchable, and His wayspast finding out."(63) And let us add this,"Seek not out the things that are too high for thee, and search not the things that are above thystrength."(64)
For you see, beloved, how absurd it is, and how foreign from soundness of faith and sincerityof truth, for us to say that infants, when they die, should be judged according to those things whichthey are foreknown to be going to do if they should live. For to this opinion, from which certainlyevery human feeling, on however little reason it may be founded, and especially every Christianfeeling, revolts, they are compelled to advance who have chosen in such wise to be withdrawn from theerror of the Pelagians as still to think that they must believe, and, moreover, must profess inargument, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,by which alone after the fall of thefirst man, in whom we all fell, help is afforded to us, is given according to our merits. And this belief Pelagius himself, before the Eastern bishops as judges, condemned in fear of his owncondemnation. And if this be not said of the good or bad works of those who have died, which theywould have done if they bad lived,-and thus of no works, and works that would never exist, even inthe foreknowledge of God,-if this, therefore, be not said, and you see under how great a mistake itis said, what will remain but that we confess, when the darkness of contention is removed, that thegrace of God is not given according to our merits, which position the catholic Church defends againstthe Pelagian heresy; and that we see this in more evident truth especially in infants? For God is notcompelled by fate to come to the help of these infants, and not to come to the help of those,-sincethe case is alike to both. Or shall we think that human affairs in the case of infants are notmanaged by Divine Providence, but by fortuitous chances, when rational souls are either to becondemned or delivered, although, indeed, not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of ourFather which is in heaven?(65) Or must we soattribute it to the negligence of parents that infants die without baptism, as that heavenlyjudgments have nothing to do with it; as if they themselves who in this way die badly had of theirown will chosen the negligent parents for themselves of whom they were born? What shall I say when aninfant expires some time before he can possibly be advantaged by the ministry of baptism? For oftenwhen the parents are eager and the ministers prepared for giving baptism to the infants, it still isnot given, because God does not choose; since He has not kept it in this life for a little while inorder that baptism might be given it. What, moreover, when sometimes aid could be afforded by baptismto the children of unbelievers, that they should not go into perdition, and could not be afforded tothe children of believers? In which case it is certainly shown that there is no acceptance of personswith God; otherwise He would rather deliver the children of His worshippers than the children of Hisenemies.
But now, since we are now treating of the gift of perseverance, why is it that aid isafforded to the person about to die who is not baptized, while to the baptized person about to fall,aid is not afforded, so as to die before? Unless, perchance, we shall still listen to that absurdityby which it is said that it is of no advantage to any one to die before his fall, because he will bejudged according to those actions which God foreknew that he would have done if he had lived. Who canhear with patience this perversity, so violently opposed to the soundness of the faith? Who can bearit? And yet they are driven to say this who do not confess that God's grace is not bestowed inrespect of our deservings. They, however, who will not say that any one who has died is judgedaccording to those things which God foreknew that he would have done if he had lived, consideringwith how manifest a falsehood and how great an absurdity this would be said, have no further reasonto say, what the Church condemned in the Pelagians, and caused to be condemned by Pelagiushimself,-that the grace of God, namely, is given according to our merits,-when they see some infantsnot regenerated taken from this life to eternal death, and others regenerated, to eternal life; andthose themselves that are regenerated, some going hence, persevering even to the end, and others keptin this life even until they fall, who certainly would not have fallen if they had departed hencebefore their lapse; and again some falling, but not departing from this life until they return, whocertainly would have perished if they had departed before their return.
From all which it is shown with sufficient clearness that the grace of God, which both beginsa man's faith and which enables it to persevere unto the end, is not given according to our merits,but is given according to His own most secret and at the same time most righteous, wise, andbeneficent will; since those whom He predestinated, them He also called,(66) with that calling of which it is said, "The giftsand calling of God are without repentance."(67) To which calling there is no man that can be saidby men with any certainty of affirmation to belong, until he has departed from this world; but inthis life of man, which is a state of trial upon the earth,(68) he who seems to stand must take heed lest hefall.(69) Since (as I have already saidbefore)(70) those who will not persevere are,by the most foreseeing will of God, mingled with those who will persevere, for the reason that we maylearn not to mind high things, but to consent to the lowly, and may "work out our own salvation withfear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do for His goodpleasure."(71) We therefore will, but Godworketh in us to will also. We therefore work, but God worketh in us to work also for His goodpleasure. This is profitable for us both to believe and to say,-this is pious, this is true, that ourconfession be lowly and submissive, and that all should be given to God. Thinking, we believe;thinking, we speak; thinking, we do whatever we do;(72) but, in respect of what concerns the way of pietyand the true worship of God, we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but oursufficiency is of God.(73) For "our heart andour thoughts are not in our own power;" whence the same Ambrose who says this says also: "But who isso blessed as in his heart always to rise upwards? And how can this be done without divine help?Assuredly, by no means. Finally," he says, "the same Scripture affirms above, `Blessed is the manwhose help is of Thee; O Lord,(74) ascent isin his heart.'"(75) Assuredly, Ambrose was notonly enabled to say this by reading in the holy writings, but as of such a man is to be without doubtbelieved, he felt it also in his own heart. Therefore, as is said in the sacraments of believers,that we should lift up our hearts to the Lord, is God's gift; for which gift they to whom this issaid are admonished by the priest after this word to give thanks to our Lord God Himself; and theyanswer that it is "meet and right so to do."(76) For, since our heart is not in our own power, butis lifted up by the divine help, so that it ascends and takes cognizance of those things which areabove,(77) where Christ is sitting at theright hand of God, and, not those things that are upon the earth, to whom are thanks to be given forso great a gift as this unless to our Lord God who doeth this,-who in so great kindness has chosen usby delivering us from the abyss of this world, and has predestinated us before the foundation of theworld?
But they say that the "definition of predestination is opposed to the advantage ofpreaching,"(78) -as if, indeed, it wereopposed to the preaching of the apostle! Did not that teacher of the heathen so often, in faith andtruth, both commend predestination, and not cease to preach the word of God? Because he said, "It isGod that worketh in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure,"(79) did he not also exhort that we should both willand do what is pleasing to God? or because he said, "He who hath begun a good work in you shall carryit on even unto the day of Christ Jesus,"(80)did he on that account cease to persuade men to begin and to persevere unto the end? Doubtless, ourLord Himself commanded men to believe, and said, "Believe in God, believe also in me:"(81) and yet His opinion is not therefore false, noris His definition idle when He says, "No man cometh unto me "-that is, no man believeth in me-"exceptit has been given him of my Father."(82) Nor,again, because this definition is true, is the former precept vain. Why, therefore, do we think thedefinition of predestination useless to preaching, to precept, to exhortation, to rebuke,-all whichthings the divine Scripture repeats frequently,-seeing that the same Scripture commends thisdoctrine?
Will any man date to say that God did not foreknow those to whom He would give to believe, orwhom He would give to His Son, that of them He should lose none?(83) And certainly, if He foreknew these things, He ascertainly foreknew His own kindnesses, wherewith He condescends to deliver us. This is thepredestination of the saints,-nothing else; to wit, the foreknowledge and the preparation of God'skindnesses, whereby they are most certainly delivered, whoever they are that are delivered. But whereare the rest left by the righteous divine judgment except in the mass of ruin, where the Tyrians andthe Sidonians were left? who, moreover, might have believed if they had seen Christ's wonderfulmiracles. But since it was not given to them to believe, the means of believing also were deniedthem. From which fact it appears that some have in their understanding itself a naturally divine giftof intelligence, by which they may be moved to the faith, if they either hear the words or behold thesigns congruous to their minds; and yet if, in the higher judgment of God, they are not by thepredestination of grace separated from the mass of perdition, neither those very divine words nordeeds are applied to them by which they might believe if they only heard or saw such things.Moreover, in the same mass of ruin the Jews were left, because they could not believe such great andeminent mighty works as were done in their sight. For the gospel has not been silent about the reasonwhy they could not believe, since it says: "But though He had done such great miracles before them,yet they believed not on Him; that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which hespake,(84) Lord, who hath believed our report,and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? And, therefore, they could not believe, becausethat Isaiah said again,(85) He hath blindedtheir eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand withtheir heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."(86) There fore the eyes of the Tyrians and Sidonianswere not so blinded nor was their heart so hardened, since they would have believed if they had seensuch mighty works, as the Jews saw. But it did not profit them that they were able to believe,because they were not predestinated by Him whose judgments are inscrutable and His ways past findingout. Neither would inability to believe have been a hindrance to them, if they had been sopredestinated as that God should illuminate those blind eyes, and should will to take away the stonyheart from those hardened ones. But what the Lord said of the Tyrians and Sidonians may perchance beunderstood in another way: that no one nevertheless comes to Christ unless it were given him, andthat it is given to those who are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, he confessesbeyond a doubt who hears the divine utterance, not with the deaf ears of the flesh, but with the earsof the heart; and yet this predestination, which is plainly enough unfolded even by the words of thegospels, did not prevent the Lord's saying as well in respect of the commencement, what I have alittle before mentioned, "Believe in God; believe also in me," as in respect of perseverance, "A manought always to pray, and not to faint."(87)For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hearor do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, "To you," said He, "it is given to know the mysteryof the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."(88) Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the otherto the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, "I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, OLord."(89)
Therefore, by the preaching of predestination, the preaching of a persevering and progressivefaith is not to be hindered; and thus they may hear what is necessary to whom it is given that theyshould obey. For how shall they hear without a preacher? Neither, again, is the preaching of aprogressive faith which continues even to the end to hinder the preaching of predestination, so thathe who is living faithfully and obediently may not be lifted up by that very obedience, as if by abenefit of his own, not received; but that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord. For "we must boastin nothing, since nothing is our own." And this, Cyprian most faithfully saw and most fearlesslyexplained, and thus he pronounced predestination to be most assured.(90) For if we must boast in nothing, seeing thatnothing is our own, certainly we must not boast of the most persevering obedience. Nor is it so to becalled our own, as if it were not given to us from above. And, therefore, it is God's gift, which, bythe confession of all Christians, God foreknew that He would give to His people, who were called bythat calling whereof it was said, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance."(91) This, then, is the predestination which wefaithfully and humbly preach. Nor yet did the same teacher and doer, who both believed on Christ andmost perseveringly lived in holy obedience, even to suffering for Christ, cease on that account topreach the gospel, to exhort to faith and to pious manners, and to that very perseverance to the end,because he said, "We must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own;" and here he declared withoutambiguity the true grace of God, that is, that which is not given in respect of our merits;and sinceGod foreknew that He would give it, predestination was announced beyond a doubt by these words ofCyprian; and if this did not prevent Cyprian from preaching obedience, it certainly ought not toprevent us.
Although, therefore, we say that obedience is the gift of God, we still exhort men to it. Butto those who obediently hear the exhortation of truth is given the gift of God itself-that is, tohear obediently; while to those who do not thus hear it is not given. For it was not some one only,but Christ who said, "No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father;"(92) and, "To you it is given to know the mystery ofthe kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."(93) And concerning continence He says, "Not allreceive this saying, but they to whom it is given."(94) And when the apostle would exhort married peopleto conjugal chastity, he says, "I would that all men were even as I myself; but every man hath hisproper gift of God, one after this manner, another after that;"(95) where he plainly shows not only that continenceis a gift of God, but even the chastity of those who are married. And although these things are true,we still exhort to them as much as is given to any one of us to be able to exhort, because this alsois His gift in whose hand are both ourselves and our discourses. Whence also says the apostle,"According to this grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise architect, I have laid thefoundation."(96) And in another place he says,"Even as the Lord hath given to every man: I have planted, Apollos has watered, but God has given theincrease. Therefore neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveththe increase."(97) And thus as only hepreaches and exhorts rightly who has received this gift, so assuredly he who obediently hears him whorightly exhorts and preaches is he who has received this gift. Hence is what the Lord said, when,speaking to those who had their fleshly ears open, He nevertheless told them, "He that hath ears tohear let him hear;"(98) which beyond a doubthe knew that not all had. And from whom they have, whosoever they be that have them, the Lord Himselfshows when He says, "I will give them a heart to know me, and ears to hear."(99) Therefore, having ears is itself the gift ofobeying, so that they who had that came to Him, to whom "no one comes unless it were given to him ofHis Father." Therefore we exhort and preach, but they who have ears to hear obediently hear us, whilein them who have them not, it comes to pass what is written, that hearing they do not hear,-hearing,to wit, with the bodily sense, they do not hear with the assent of the heart. But why these shouldhave ears to hear, and those have them not,-that is, why to these it should be given by the Father tocome to the Son, while to those it should not be given,-who has known the mind of the Lord, or whohas been His counsellor? Or who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Must that which ismanifest be denied, because that which is hidden cannot be comprehended? Shall we, I say, declarethat what we see to be so is not so, because we cannot find out why it is so?
But they say, as you write: "That no one can be aroused by the incentives of rebuke if it besaid in the assembly of the Church to the multitude of hearers: The definite meaning of God's willconcerning predestination stands in such wise, that some of you will receive the will to obey andwill come out of unbelief unto faith, or will receive perseverance and abide in the faith; but otherswho are lingering in the delight of sins have not yet arisen, for the reason that the aid of pityinggrace has not yet indeed raised you up. But yet, if there are any whom by His grace He haspredestinated to be chosen, who are not yet called, ye shall receive that grace by which you may willand be chosen; and if any obey, if ye are predestinated to be rejected, the strength to obey shall bewithdrawn from you, so that you may cease to obey." Although these things may be said, they ought notso to deter us from confessing the true grace of God,- that is, the grace which is not given to us inrespect of our merits,-and from confessing the predestination of the saints in accordance therewith,even as we are not deterred from confessing God's foreknowledge, although one should thus speak tothe people concerning it, and say: "Whether you are now living righteously or unrighteously, youshall be such by and by as the Lord has foreknown that you will be,- either good, if He has foreknownyou as good, or bad, if He has foreknown you as bad." For if on the hearing of this some should beturned to torpor and slothfulness, and from striving should go headlong to lust after their owndesires, is it therefore to be counted that what has been said about the foreknowledge of God isfalse? If God has foreknown that they will be good, will they not be good, whatever be the depth ofevil in which they are now engaged? And if He has foreknown them evil, will they not be evil,whatever goodness may now be discerned in them? There was a man in our monastery, who, when thebrethren rebuked him for doing some things that ought not to be done, and for not doing some thingsthat ought to be done, replied, "Whatever I may now be, I shall be such as God has foreknown that Ishall be." And this man certainly both said what was true, and was not profiled by this truth forgood, but so far made way in evil as to desert the society of the monastery, and become a dogreturned to his vomit; and, nevertheless, it is uncertain what he is yet to become. For the sake ofsouls of this kind, then, is the truth which is spoken about God's foreknowledge either to be deniedor to be kept back,-at such times, for instance, when, if it is not spoken, other errors areincurred?
There are some, moreover, who either do not pray at all, or pray coldly, because, from theLord's words, they have learnt that God knows what is necessary for us before we ask it of Him. Mustthe truth of this declaration be given up, or shall we think that it should be erased from the gospelbecause of such people? Nay, since it is manifest that God has prepared some things to be given evento those who do not pray for them, such as the beginning of faith, and other things not to be givenexcept to those who pray for them, such as perseverance even unto the end, certainly he who thinksthat he has this latter from himself does not pray to have it. Therefore we must take care lest,while we are afraid of exhortation growing lukewarm, prayer should be stifled and arrogancestimulated.
Therefore let the truth be spoken, especially when any question impels us to declare it; andlet them receive it who are able, lest, perchance, while we are silent on account of those who cannotreceive it, they be not only defrauded of the truth but be taken captive by falsehood, who are ableto receive the truth whereby falsehood may be avoided. For it is easy, nay, and it is useful, thatsome truth should be kept back because of those who are incapable of apprehending it. For whence isthat word of our Lord: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now "?(100) And that of the apostle: "I could not speak untoyou as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal: as if unto babes in Christ I have given you to drink milk,and not meat, for hitherto ye were not able, neither yet indeed now are ye able"?(101) Although, in a certain manner of speaking, itmight happen that what is said should be both milk to infants and meat for grown-up persons. As "inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,"(102) what Christian can keep it back? Who can receiveit? Or what in sound doctrine can be found more comprehensive? And yet this is not kept back eitherfrom infants or from grown-up people, nor is it hidden from infants by those who are mature. But thereason of keeping back the truth is one, the necessity of speaking the truth is another. It would bea tedious business to inquire into or to put down all the reasons for keeping back the truth; ofwhich, nevertheless, there is this one,-lest we should make those who do not understand worse, whilewishing to make those who do understand more learned; although these latter do not become morelearned when we withhold any such thing on the one hand, but also do not become worse. When, however,a truth is of such a nature that he who cannot receive it is made worse by our speaking it, and hewho can receive it is made worse by our silence concerning it, what do we think is tobe done? Must wenot speak the truth, that he who can receive it may receive it, rather than keep silence, so that notonly neither may receive it, but that even he who is more intelligent should himself be made worse?For if he should hear and receive it, by his means also many might learn. For in proportion as he ismore capable of learning, he is the more fitted for teaching others. The enemy of grace presses onand urges in all ways to make us believe that grace is given according to our deservings, and thusgrace is no more grace; and are we unwilling to say what we can say by the testimony of Scripture? Dowe fear, forsooth, to offend by our speaking him who is not able to receive the truth? and are we notafraid lest by our silence he who can receive the truth may be involved in falsehood?
For either predestination must be preached, in the way and degree in which the Holy Scriptureplainly declares it, so that in the predestinated the gifts and calling of God may be withoutrepentance; or it must be avowed that God's grace is given according to our merits,-which is theopinion of the Pelagians; although that opinion of theirs, as I have often said already, may be readin the Proceedings of the Eastern bishops to have been condemned by the lips of Pelagiushimself.(103) Further, those on whose accountI am discoursing are only removed from the heretical perversity of the Pelagians, inasmuch as,although they will not confess that they who by God's grace are made obedient and so abide, arepredestinated, they still confess, nevertheless, that this grace precedes their will to whom it isgiven; in such a way certainly as that grace may not be thought to be given freely, as the truthdeclares, but rather according to the merits of a preceding will, as the Pelagian error says, incontradiction to the truth. Therefore, also, grace precedes faith; otherwise, if faith precedesgrace, beyond a doubt will also precedes it, because there cannot be faith without will. But if graceprecedes faith because it precedes will, certainly it precedes all obedience; it also precedes love,by which alone God is truly and pleasantly obeyed. And all these things grace works in him to whom itis given, and in whom it precedes all these things. [XVII.] Among these benefits there remainsperseverance unto the end, which is daily asked for in vain from the Lord, if the Lord by His gracedoes not effect it in him whose prayers He hears. See now how foreign it is from the truth to denythat perseverance even to the end of this life is the gift of God; since He Himself puts an end tothis life when He wills, and if He puts an end before a fall that is threatening, He makes the man topersevere even unto the end. But more marvellous and more manifest to believers is the largess ofGod's goodness, that this grace is given even to infants, although there is no obedience at that ageto which it may be given. To whomsoever, therefore, God gives His gifts, beyond a doubt He hasforeknown that He willbestow them on them, and in His foreknowledge He has prepared them for them.Therefore, those whom He predestinated, them He also called with that calling which I am notreluctant often to make mention of, of which it is said, "The gifts and calling of God are withoutrepentance."(104) For the ordering of Hisfuture works in His foreknowledge, which cannot be deceived and changed, is absolute, and is nothingbut, predestination. But, as he whom God has foreknown to be chaste, although he may regard it asuncertain, so acts as to be chaste, so he whom He has predestinated to be chaste, although he mayregard that as uncertain, does not, therefore, fail to act so as to be chaste because he hears thathe is to be what he will be by the gift of God. Nay, rather, his love rejoices, and he is not puffedup as if he had not received it. Not only, therefore, is he not hindered from this work by thepreaching of predestination, but he is even assisted to it, so that although he glories he may gloryin the Lord.
And what I said of chastity, can be said also of faith, of piety, of love, of perseverance,and, not to enumerate single virtues, it may be said with the utmost truthfulness of all theobedience with which God is obeyed. But those who place only the beginning of faith and perseveranceto the end in such wise in our power as not to regard them as God's gifts, nor to think that Godworks on our thoughts and wills so as that we may have and retain them, grant, nevertheless, that Hegives other things,-since they are obtained from Him by the faith of the believer. Why are they notafraid that exhortation to these other things, and the preaching of these other things, should behindered by the definition of predestination? Or, perchance, do they say that such things are notpredestinated? Then they are not given by God, or He has not known that He would give them. Because,if they are both given, and He foreknew that He would give them, certainly He predestinated them. As,therefore, they themselves also exhort to chastity, charity, piety, and other things which theyconfess to be God's gifts, and cannot deny that they are also foreknown by Him, and thereforepredestinated; nor do they say that their exhortations are hindered by the preaching of God'spredestination, that is, by the preaching of God's foreknowledge of those future gifts of His: sothey may see that neither are their exhortations to faith or to perseverance hindered, even althoughthose very things may be said, as is the truth, to be gifts of God, and that those things areforeknown, that is, predestinated to be given; but let them rather see that by this preaching ofpredestination only that most pernicious error is hindered and overthrown, whereby it is said thatthe grace of God is given according to our deservings, so that he who glories may glory not in theLord, but in himself.
And in order that I may more openly unfold this for the sake of those who are somewhat slowof apprehension, let those who are endowed with an intelligence that flies in advance bear with mydelay. The Apostle James says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all menliberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."(105) It is writtenalso in the Proverbs of Solomon,"Because theLord giveth wisdom."(106) And ofcontinency it is read in the book of Wisdom, whose authority has been used by great and learned menwho have commented upon the divine utterances long before us; there, therefore, it is read, "When Iknew that no one can be continent unless God gives it, and that this was of wisdom, to know whosegift this was."(107) Therefore these are God'sgifts,-that is, to say nothing of others, wisdom and continency. Let those also acquiesce: for theyare not Pelagians, to contend against such a manifest truth as this with hard and hereticalperversity. "But," say they, "that these things are given to us of God is obtained by faith, whichhas its beginning from us;" and both to begin to have this faith, and to abide in it even to the end,they contend is our own doing, as if we received it not from the Lord. This, beyond a doubt, is incontradiction to the apostle when he says, "For what hast thou that thou hast not received?"(108) It is in contradiction also to the saying of themartyr Cyprian, "That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own."(109) When we have said this, and many other thingswhich it is wearisome to repeat, and have shown that both the commencement of faith and perseveranceto the end are gifts of God; and that it is impossible that God should not foreknow any of His futuregifts, as well what should be given as to whom they should be given; and that thus those whom Hedelivers and crowns are predestinated by Him; they think it well to reply, "that the assertion ofpredestination is opposed to the advantage of preaching, for the reason that when this is heard noone can be stirred up by the incentives of rebuke." When they say this, "they are unwilling that itshould be declared to men, that coming to the faith and abiding in the faith are God's gifts, lestdespair rather than encouragement should appear to be suggested, inasmuch as they who hear think thatit is uncertain to human ignorance on whom God bestows, or on whom He does not bestow, these gifts."Why, then, do they themselves also preach with us that wisdom and continency are God's gifts? But if,when these things are declared to be God's gifts, there is no hindrance of the exhortation with whichwe exhort men to be wise and continent; what is after all the reason for their thinking that theexhortation is hindered wherewith we exhort men to come to the faith, and to abide in it to the end,if these also are said to be God's gifts, as is proved by the Scriptures, which are Hiswitnesses?
Now, to say nothing more of continency, and to argue in this place of wisdom alone, certainlythe Apostle James above mentioned says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, thenpeaceable, modest, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, inestimable, withoutsimulation."(110) Do you not see, I beseechyou, how this wisdom descends from the Father of Lights, laden with many and great benefits? Because,as the same apostle says, "Every excellent gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes downfrom the Father of Lights."(111) Why, then-toset aside other matters-do we rebuke the impure and contentious, to whom we nevertheless preach thatthe gift of God is wisdom, pure and peaceable; and are not afraid that they should be influenced, bythe uncertainty of the divine will, to find in this preaching more of despair than of exhortation;and that they should not be stirred up by the incentives of rebuke rather against us than againstthemselves, because we rebuke them for not having those things which we ourselves say are notproduced by human will, but are given by the divine liberality? Finally, why did the preaching ofthis grace not deter the Apostle James from rebuking restless souls, and saying, "If ye have bitterenvying, and contentions are in your hearts, glory not, and be not liars against the truth. This isnot the wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, animal, devilish; for where envying andcontention are, there are inconstancy and every evil work"?(112) As, therefore, the restless are to be rebuked,both by the testimony of the divine declarations, and by those very impulses of ours which they havein common with ourselves; and is it no argument against this rebuke that we declare the peacefulwisdom, whereby the contentions are corrected and healed, to be the gift of God; unbelievers are insuch wise to be rebuked, as those who do not abide in the faith, without any hindrance to that rebukefrom the preaching of God's grace, although that preaching commends that very grace and thecontinuance in it as the gifts of God. Because, although wisdom is obtained from faith, even as Jameshimself, when he had said," If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to allliberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given,"(113) immediately added, "But let him ask in faith,nothing wavering: "it is not, nevertheless, because faith is given before it is asked for by him towhom it is given, that it must therefore be said not to be the gift of God, but to be of ourselves,because it is given to us without our asking for it! For the apostle very plainly says, "Peace be tothe brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."(114) From whom, therefore, are peace and love, fromHim also is faith; wherefore, from Him we ask not only that it may be increased to those that possessit, but also that it may be given to those that possess it not.
Nor do those on whose account I am saying these things, who cry out that exhortation ischecked by the preaching of predestination and grace, exhort to those gifts alone which they contendare not given by God, but are from ourselves, such as are the beginning of faith, and perseverance init even to the end. This certainly they ought to do, in such a way as only to exhort unbelievers tobelieve, and believers to continue to believe. But those things which with us they do not deny to beGod's gifts, so as that with us they demolish the error of the Pelagians, such as modesty,continence, patience, and other virtues that pertain to a holy life, and are obtained by faith fromthe Lord, they ought to show as needing to be prayed for, and to pray for only, either for themselvesor others; but they ought not to exhort any one to strive after them and retain them. But when theyexhort to these things, according to their ability, and confess that men ought to beexhorted,-certainly they show plainly enough that exhortations are not hindered by that preaching,whether they are exhortations to faith or to perseverance to the end, because we also preach thatsuch things are God's gifts, and are not given by any man to himself, but are given by God.
But it is said, "It is by his own fault that any one deserts the faith, when he yields andconsents to the temptation which is the cause of his desertion of the faith." Who denies it? Butbecause of this, perseverance in the faith is not to be said not to be a gift of God. For it is thisthat a man daily asks for when he says, "Lead us not into temptation; "(115) and if he is heard, it is this that he receives.And thus as he daily asks for perseverance, he assuredly places the hope of his perseverance not inhimself, but in God. I, however, am loth to exaggerate the case with my words, but I rather leave itto them to consider, and see what it is of which they have persuaded themselves-to wit, "that by thepreaching of predestination, more of despair than of exhortation is impressed upon the hearers." Forthis is to say that a man then despairs of his salvation when he has learned to place his hope not inhimself, but in God, although the prophet cries, "Cursed is he who has his hope in man."(116)
These gifts, therefore, of God, which are given to the elect who are called according toGod's purpose, among which gifts is both the beginning of belief and perseverance in the faith to thetermination of this life, as I have proved by such a concurrent testimony of reasons andauthorities,-these gifts of God, I say, if there is no such predestination as I am maintaining, arenot foreknown by God. But they are foreknown. This, therefore, is the predestination which Imaintain. [XVIII.] Consequently sometimes the same predestination is signified also under the name offoreknowledge; as says the apostle, "God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew."(117) Here, when he says, "He foreknew," the sense isnot rightly understood except as "He predestinated," as is shown by the context of the passageitself. For he was speaking of the remnant of the Jews which were saved, while the rest perished. Forabove he had said that the prophet had declared to Israel, "All day long I have stretched forth myhands to an unbelieving and a gainsaying people."(118) And as if it were answered, What, then, hasbecome of the promises of God to Israel? he added in continuation, "I say, then, has God cast awayHis people? God forbid! for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe ofBenjamin." Then he added the words which I am now treating: "God hath not cast away His people whomHe foreknew." And in order to show that the remnant had been left by God's grace, not by any meritsof their works, he went on to add, "Know ye not what the Scripture saith in Elias, in what way hemaketh intercession with God against Israel? "(119) and the rest. "But what," says he, "saith theanswer of God unto him? I` have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the kneebefore Baal.'"(120) For He says not, "Thereare left to me," or "They have reserved themselves to me," but, "I have reserved to myself." "Evenso, then, at this present time also there is made a remnant by the election of grace. And if ofgrace, then it is no more by works; otherwise grace is no more grace." And connecting this with whatI have above quoted, "What then?"(121) and inanswer to this inquiry, he says, "Israel hath not obtained that which he was seeking for, but theelection hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Therefore, in the election, and in thisremnant which were madeso by the election of grace, he wished to be understood the people which Goddid not reject, because He foreknew them. This is that election by which He elected those, whom Hewilled, in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without spot inHis sight, in love, predestinating them unto the adoption of sons. No one, therefore, who understandsthese things is permitted to doubt that, when the apostle says, "God hath not cast away His peoplewhom He foreknew," He intended to signify predestination. For He foreknew the remnant which He shouldmake so according to the election of grace. That is, therefore, He predestinated them; for withoutdoubt He foreknew if He predestinated; but to have predestinated is to have foreknown that which Heshould do.
What, then, hinders us, when we read of God's foreknowledge in some commentators on God'sword, and they are treating of the calling; of the elect, from understanding the same predestination?For they would perchance have rather used in this matter this word which, moreover, is betterunderstood, and which is not inconsistent with, nay, is in accordance with, the truth which isdeclared concerning the predestination of grace. This I know, that no one has been able to dispute,except erroneously, against that predestination which I am maintaining in accordance with the HolyScriptures. Yet I think that they who ask for the opinions of commentators on this matter ought to besatisfied with men so holy and so laudably celebrated everywhere in the faith and Christian doctrineas Cyprian and Ambrose, of whom I have given such clear testimonies; and that for both doctrines-thatis, that they should both believe absolutely and preach everywhere that the grace of God isgratuitous, as we must believe and declare it to be; and that they should not think that preachingopposed to the preaching whereby we exhort the indolent or rebuke the evil; because these celebratedmen also, although they were preaching God's grace in such a manner as that one of them said, "Thatwe must boast in nothing, because nothing is our own; "(122) and the other, "Our heart and our thoughts arenot in our own power;"(123) yet ceased not toexhort and rebuke, in order that the divine commands might be obeyed. Neither were they afraid of itsbeing said to them, "Why do you exhort us, and why do you rebuke us, if no good thing that we have isfrom us, and if our hearts are not in our own power?" These holy men could by no means fear that suchthings should be said to them, since they were of the mind to understand that it is given to very fewto receive the teaching of salvation through God Himself, or through the angels of heaven, withoutany human preaching to them; but that it is given to many to believe in God through human agency.Yet, in whatever manner the word of God is spoken to man, beyond a doubt for man to hear it in such away as to obey it, is God's gift.
Wherefore, the above-mentioned most excellent commentators on the divine declarations bothpreached the true grace of God as it ought to be preached,-that is, as a grace preceded by no humandeservings,-and urgently exhorted to the doing of the divine commandments, that they who might havethe gift of obedience should hear what commands they ought to obey. For if any merits of ours precedegrace, certainly it is the merit of some deed, or word, or thought, wherein also is understood a goodwill itself. But he very briefly summed up the kinds of all deservings who said, "We must glory innothing, because nothing is our own." And he who says, "Our heart and our thoughts are not in our ownpower," did not pass over acts and words also, for there is no act or word of man which does notproceed from the heart and the thought. But what more could that most glorious martyr and mostluminous doctor Cyprian say concerning this matter, than when he impressed upon us that it behoves usto pray, in the Lord's Prayer, even for the adversaries of the Christian faith, showing what hethought of the beginning of the faith, that it also is God's gift, and pointing out that the Churchof Christ prays daily for perseverance unto the end, because none but God gives that perseverance tothose who have persevered? Moreover, the blessed Ambrose, when he was expounding the passage wherethe Evangelist Luke says, "It seemed good to me also,"(124) says, "What he declares to have seemed good tohimself cannot have seemed good to him alone. For not alone by human will did it seem good, but as itpleased Him who speaks in me, Christ, who effects that that which is good may also seem good to us:for whom He has mercy on He also calls. And therefore he who follows: Christ may answer, when he isasked why he wished to become a Christian, `It seemed good to me also.' And when he says this, hedoesnot deny that it seemed good to God; for thewill of men is prepared by God. For it is God's gracethat God should be honoured by the saint."(125) Moreover, in the same work,-that is, in theexposition of the same Gospel, when he had come to that place where the Samaritans would not receivethe Lord when His face was as going to Jerusalem,-he says, "Learn at the same time that He would notbe received by those who were not converted in simpleness of mind. For if He had been willing, Hewould have made them devout who were undevout. And why they would not receive Him, the evangelisthimself mentioned, saying, `Because His face was as of one going towards Jerusalem.'(126) But the disciples earnestly desired to bereceived into Samaria. But God calls those whom He makes worthy, and makes religious whom Hewill."(127) What more evident, what moremanifest do we ask from commentators on God's word, if we are pleased to hear from them what is clearin the Scriptures? But to these two, who ought to be enough, let us add also a third, the holyGregory, who testifies that it is the gift of God both to believe in God and to confess what webelieve, saying, "I beg of you confess the Trinity of one godhead; but if ye wish otherwise, say thatit is of one nature, and Godwill be besought that a voice shall be given to you by the Holy Spirit ;"that is, God will be besought to allow a voice to be given to you by which you may confess what youbelieve. "For He will give, I am certain, He who gave what is first, will give also what issecond."(128) He who gave belief, will alsogive confession.
Such doctors, and so great as these, when they say that there is nothing of which we mayboast as if of our own which God has not given us, and that our very heart and our thoughts are notin our own power; and when they give the whole to God, and confess that from Him we receive that weare converted to Him in such wise as to continue,-that that which is good appears also to us to begood, and we wish for it,-that we honour God and receive Christ,-that from undevout people we aremade devout and religious,-that we believe in the Trinity itself, and also confess with our voicewhat we believe:-certainly attribute all these things to God's grace, acknowledge them as God'sgifts, and testify that they come to us from Him, and are not from ourselves. But will any one saythat they in such wise confessed that grace of God as to venture to deny His foreknowledge,which notonly learned but unlearned men also confess? Again, if they had so known that God gives these thingsthat they were not ignorant that He foreknew that He would give them, and could not have beenignorant to whom He would give them: beyond a doubt they had known the predestination which, aspreached by the apostles, we laboriously and diligently maintain against the modern heretics. Norwould it be with any manner of justice said, nevertheless, to them because they preach obedience, andfervently exhort, to the extent of the ability of each one, to its practice, "If you do not wish thatthe obedience to which you are stirring us up should grow cold in our heart, forbear to preach to usthat grace of God by which you confess that God gives what you are exhorting us to do."
Wherefore, if both the apostles and the teachers of the Church who succeeded them andimitated them did both these things,-that is, both truly preached the grace of God which is not givenaccording to our merits, and inculcated by wholesome precepts a pious obedience,-what is it whichthese people of our time think themselves rightly bound by the invincible force of truth to say,"Even if what is said of the predestination of God's benefits be true, yet it must not be preached tothe people"?(129) It must absolutely bepreached, so that he who has ears to hear, may hear. And who has them if he has not received themfrom Him who says, "I will give them a heart to know me, and ears to hear?"(130) Assuredly, he who has not received may reject;while, yet, he who receives may take and drink, may drink and live. For as piety must be preached,that, by him who has ears to hear, God may be rightly worshipped; modesty must be preached, that, byhim who has ears to hear, no illicit act may be perpetrated by his fleshly nature; charity must bepreached, that, by him who has ears to hear, God and his neighbours may be loved;-so also must bepreached such a predestination of God's benefits that he who has ears to hear may glory, not inhimself, but in the Lord.
But in respect of their saying "that it was not necessary that the hearts of so many peopleof little intelligence should be disquieted by the uncertainty of this kind of disputation, since thecatholic faith has been defended for so many, years, with no less advantage, without this definitionof predestination, as well against others as especially against the Pelagians, in so many books thathave gone before, as well of catholics and others as our own;"(131) -I much wonder that they should say this, andnot observe-to say nothing of other writings in this place-that those very treatises of mine wereboth composed and published before the Pelagians had begun to appear; and that they do not see in howmany passages of those treatises I was unawares cutting down a future Pelagian heresy, by preachingthe grace by which God delivers us from evil errors and from our habits, without any preceding meritsof ours,-doing this according to His gratuitous mercy. And this I began more fully to apprehend inthat disputation which I wrote to Simplicianus, the bishop of the Church of Milan, of blessed memory,in the beginning of my episcopate, when, moreover, I both perceived and asserted that the beginningof faith is God's gift.
And which of my smaller works has been able to be more generally and more agreeably knownthan the books of my Confessions? And although I published them before the Pelagian heresy hadcome into existence, certainly in them I said to my God, and said it frequently, "Give what Thoucommandest, and command what Thou willest."(132) Which words of mine, Pelagius at Rome, when theywere mentioned in his presence by a certain brother and fellow bishop of mine, could not bear; andcontradicting somewhat too excitedly, nearly came to a quarrel with him who had mentioned them. Butwhat, indeed, does God primarily and chiefly command, but that we believe on Him? And this,therefore, He Himself gives, if it is well said to Him, "Give what Thou commandest." And, moreover,in those same books, in respect of what I have related concerning my conversion, when God convertedme to that faith which, with a most miserable and raging talkativeness, I was destroying, do you notremember that it was so narrated how I showed that I was granted to the faithful and daily tears ofmy mother, that I should not perish?(133)Where certainly I declared that God by His grace converted to the true faith the wills of men, whichwere not only averse to it, but even adverse to it. Further, in what manner I besought God concerningmy growth in perseverance, you know, and you are able to review if you wish it. Therefore, that allthe gifts of God which in that work I either asked for or praised, were foreknown by God that Hewould give, and that He could never be ignorant of the persons to whom He would give them, who candare, I will not say to deny, but even to doubt? This is the manifest and assured predestination ofthe saints, which subsequently necessity compelled me more carefully and laboriously to defend when Iwas already disputing against the Pelagians. For I learnt that each special heresy introduced its ownpeculiar questions into the Church-against which the sacred Scripture might be more carefullydefended than if no such necessity compelled their defence. And what compelled those passages ofScripture in which predestination is commended to be defended more abundantly and clearly by thatlabour of mine, than the fact that the Pelagians say that God's grace is given according to ourmerits; for what else is this than an absolute denim of grace?
Therefore that this opinion, which is unpleasing to God, and hostile to those gratuitousbenefits of God whereby we are delivered, may be destroyed, I maintain that both the beginning offaith and the perseverance therein, even to the end, are, according to the Scriptures-of which I havealready quoted many-God's gifts. Because if we say that the beginning of faith is of ourselves, sothat by it we deserve to receive other gifts of God, the Pelagians conclude that God's grace is givenaccording to our merits. And this the catholic faith held in such dread, that Pelagius himself, infear of condemnation, condemned it. And, moreover, if we say that our perseverance is of ourselves,not of God, they answer that we have the beginning of our faith of ourselves in such wise as the end,thus arguing that we have that beginning of ourselves much more, if of ourselves we have thecontinuance unto the end, since to perfect is much greater than to begin; and thus repeatedly theyconclude that the grace of God is given according to our merits. But if both are God's gifts, and Godforeknew that He would give these His gifts (and who can deny this?), predestination must bepreached,-that God's true grace, that is, the grace which is not given according to our merits, maybe maintained with insuperable defence.
And, indeed, in that treatise of which the title is, Of Rebuke and Grace,(134) which could not suffice for all my lovers, Ithink that I have so established that it is the gift of God also to persevere to the end, as I haveeither never before or almost never so expressly and evidently maintained this in writing, unless mymemory deceives me. But I have now said this in a way in which no one before me has said it.Certainly the blessed Cyprian, in the Lord's Prayer, as I have already shown, so explained ourpetitions as to say that in its very first petition we were asking for perseverance, asserting thatwe pray for itwhen we say, "Hallowed be Thy name,"(135) although we have been already hallowed inbaptism,-so that we may persevere in that which we have begun to be. Let those, however, to whom, intheir love for me, I ought not to be ungrateful, who profess that they embrace, over and above thatwhich comes into the argument, all my views, as you write,-let those, I say, see whether, in thelatter portions of the first book of those two which I wrote in the beginning of my episcopate,before the appearance of the Pelagian heresy, to Simplicianus, the bishop of Milan,(136) there remained anything whereby it might becalled in question that God's grace is not given according to our merits; and whether I have notthere sufficiently argued that even the beginning of faith is God's gift; and whether from what isthere said it does not by consequence result, although it is not expressed, that even perseverance tothe end is not given, except by Him who has predestinated us to His kingdom and glory. Then, did notI many years ago publish that letter which I had already written to the holy Paulinus,(137) bishop of Nola, against the Pelagians, whichthey have lately begun to contradict? Let them also look into that letter which I sent to Sixtus, thepresbyter of the Roman Church(138) when wecontended in a very sharp conflict against the Pelagians, and they will find it such as is that oneto Paulinus. Whence they may gather that the same sort of things were already said and writtenseveral years ago against the Pelagian heresy, and that it is to be wondered at that these should nowdisplease them; although I should wish that no one would so embrace all my views as to follow me,except in those things in which he should see me not to have erred. For I am now writing treatises inwhich I have undertaken to retract my smaller works, for the purpose of demonstrating that even Imyself have not in all things followed myself; but I think that, with God's mercy, I have writtenprogressively, and not begun from perfection; Since, indeed, I speak more arrogantly than truly, ifeven now I say that I have at length in this age of mine arrived at perfection, without any error inwhat I write. But the difference is in the extent and the subject of an error, and in the facilitywith which any one corrects it, or the pertinacity with which one endeavours to defend his error.Certainly there is good hope of that man whom the last day of this life shall find so progressingthat whatever was wanting to his progress may be added to him, and that he should be adjudged ratherto need perfecting than punishment.
Wherefore if I am unwilling to appear ungrateful to men who have loved me, because someadvantage of my labour has attained to them before they loved me, how much rather am I unwilling tobe ungrateful to God, whom we should not love unless He had first loved us and made us to love Him!since love is of Him,(139) as they have saidwhom He made not only His great lovers, but also His great preachers. And what is more ungratefulthan to deny the grace of God itself, by saying that it is given to us according to our merits? Andthis the catholic faith shuddered at in the Pelagians, and this it objected to Pelagius himself as acapital crime; and this Pelagius himself condemned, not indeed from love of God's truth, but yet forfear of his own condemnation. But whoever as a faithful catholic is horrified to say that the graceof God is given according to our merits, let him not withdraw faith itself from God's grace, wherebyhe obtained mercy that he should be faithful; and thus let him attribute also perseverance to the endto God's grace, whereby he obtains the mercy which he daily asks for, not to be led into temptation.But between the beginning of faith and the perfection of perseverance there are those means wherebywe live righteously, which they themselves are agreed in regarding as given by God to us at theprayer of faith. And all these things-the beginning of faith, to wit, and His other gifts even to theend-God foreknew that He would bestow on His called. It is a matter therefore, of too excessivecontentiousness to contradict predestination, or to doubt concerning predestination.
And yet this doctrine must not be preached to congregations in such a way as to seem to anunskilled multitude, or a people of slower understanding, to be in some measure confuted by that verypreaching of it. Just as even the foreknowledge of God, which certainly men cannot deny, seems to berefuted if it be said to them, "Whether you run or sleep, you shall be that which He who cannot bedeceived has foreknown you to be." And it is the part of a deceitful or an unskilled physician so tocompound even a useful medicament, that it either does no good or does harm. But it must be said, "Sorun that you may lay hold ;(140) and thus byyour very running you may know yourselves to be foreknown as those who should run lawfully:" and inwhatever other manner the foreknowledge of God may be so preached, that the slothfulness of man maybe repulsed.
Now, therefore, the definite determination of God's will concerning predestination is of sucha kind that some from unbelief receive the will to obey, and are converted to the faith or perseverein the faith, while others who abide in the delight of damnable sins, even if they have beenpredestinated, have not yet arisen, because the aid of pitying grace has not yet lifted them up. Forif any are not yet called whom by His grace He has predestinated to be elected, they will receivethat grace whereby they may will to be elected, and may be so; and if any obey, but have not beenpredestinated to His kingdom and glory, they are for a season, and will not abide in the sameobedience to the end. Although, then, these things are true, yet they must not be so said to themultitude of hearers as that the address may be applied to themselves also, and those words of thosepeople may be said to them which you have set down in your letter, and which I have above introduced:"The definite determination of God's will concerning predestination is of such a kind that some ofyou from unbelief shall receive the will to obey, and come to the faith." What need is there forsaying, "Some of you "? For if we speak to God's Church, if we speak to believers, why do we say that"some of them" had come to the faith, and seem to do a wrong to the rest, when we may more fittinglysay the definite determination of the will of God concerning predestination is of such a kind thatfrom unbelief you shall receive the will to obey, and come to the faith, and shall receiveperseverance, and abide to the end?
Neither is what follows by any means to be said,-that is, "But others of you who abide in thedelight of sins have not yet arisen, because the aid of pitying grace has not yet lifted you up;"when it may be and ought to be well and conveniently said, "But if any of you are still delaying inthe delightfulness of damnable sins, lay hold of the most wholesome discipline; and yet when you havedone this be not lifted up, as if by your own works, nor boast as if you had not received this. Forit is God who worketh in you both to will and to do for His good will,(141) and your steps are directed by the Lord, so thatyou choose His way.(142) But of your own goodand righteous course, learn carefully that it is attributable to the predestination of divinegrace."
Moreover, what follows where it is said, "But yet if any of you are not yet called, whom byhis grace He has predestinated to be called, you shall receive that grace whereby you shall will tobe, and be, elected," is said more hardly than it could be said if we consider that we are speakingnot to men in general, but to the Church of Christ. For why is it not rather said thus: "And if anyof you are not yet called, let us pray for them that they may be called. For perchance they are sopredestinated as to be granted to our prayers, and to receive that grace whereby they may will, andbe made elected "? For God, who fulfilled all that He predestinated, has willed us also to pray forthe enemies of the faith, that we might hence understand that He Himself also gives to theunbelievers the gift of faith, and makes willing men out of those that were unwilling.
But now I marvel if any weak brother among the Christian congregation can hear in any waywith patience what is connected with these words, when it is said to them, "And if any of you obey,if you are predestinated to be rejected, the power of obeying will be withdrawn from you, that youmay cease to obey." For what does saying this seem, except to curse, or in a certain way to predictevils? But if, however, it is desirable or necessary to say anything concerning those who do notpersevere, why is it not rather at least said in such a way as was a little while ago said byme,-first of all, so that this should be said, not of them who hear in the congregation, but aboutothers to them; that is, that it should not be said, "If any of you obey, if you are predestinated tobe rejected," but, "If any obey," and the rest, using the third person of the verb, not the second?For it is not to be said to be desirable, but abominable, and it is excessively harsh and hateful tofly as it were into the face of an audience with abuse, when he who speaks to them says, "And ifthere are any of you who obey, and are predestinated to be rejected, the power of obedience shall bewithdrawn from you, that you may cease to obey." For what is wanting to the doctrine if it is thusexpressed: "But if any obey, and are notpredestinated to His kingdom and glory, they are only for aseason, and shall not continue in that obedience unto the end"? Is not the same thing said both moretruly and more fittingly, so that we may seem not as it were to be desiring so much for them, as torelate of others the evil which they hate, and think does not belong to them, by hoping and prayingfor better things? But in that manner in which they think that it must be said, the same judgment maybe pronounced almost in the same words also of God's foreknowledge, which certainly they cannot deny,so as to say, "And if any of you obey, if you are foreknown to be rejected you shall cease to obey."Doubtless this is very true, assuredly it is; but it is very monstrous, very inconsiderate, and veryunsuitable, not by its false declaration, but by its declaration not wholesomely applied to thehealth of human infirmity.
But I do not think that manner which I have said should be adopted in the preaching ofpredestination ought to be sufficient for him who speaks to the congregation, except he adds this, orsomething of this kind, saying, "You, therefore, ought also to hope for that perseverance inobedience from the Father of Lights, from whom cometh down every excellent gift and every perfectgift,(143) and to ask for it in your dailyprayers; and in doing this ought to trust that you are not aliens from the predestination of Hispeople, because it is He Himself who bestows even the power of doing this. And far be it from you todespair of yourselves, because you are bidden to have your hope in Him, not in yourselves. For cursedis every one who has hope in man;(144) and itis good rather to trust in the Lord than to trust in man, because blessed are all they that put theirtrust in Him.(145) Holding this hope, servethe Lord in fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling.(146) Because no one can be certain of the lifeeternal which God who does not lie has promised to the children of promise before the times ofeternity,-no one, unless that life of his, which is a state of trial upon the earth, iscompleted.(147) But He will make us topersevere in Himself unto the end of that life, since we daily say to Him, 'Lead us not intotemptation.'"(148) When these things andthings of this kind are said, whether to few Christians or to the multitude of the Church, why do wefear to preach the predestination of the saints and the true grace of God,-that is, the grace whichis not given according to our merits,-as the Holy Scripture declares it? Or, indeed, must it befeared that a man should then despair of himself when his hope is shown to be placed in God, andshould not rather despair of himself if he should, in his excess of pride and unhappiness, place itin himself?
And I wish that those who are slow and weak of heart, who cannot, or cannot as yet,understand the Scriptures or the explanations of them, would so hear or not hear our arguments inthis question as to consider more carefully their prayers, which the Church has always used and willuse, even from its beginnings until this age shall be completed. For of this matter, which I am nowcompelled not only to mention, but even to protect and defend against these new heretics, the Churchhas never been silent in its prayers, although in its discourses it has not thought that it need beput forth, as there was no adversary compelling it. For when was not prayer made in the Church forunbelievers and its opponents that they should believe? When has any believer had a friend, aneighbour, a wife, who did not believe, and has not asked on their behalf from the Lord for a mindobedient to the Christian faith? And who has there ever been who has not prayed for himself that hemight abide in the Lord? And who has dared, not only with his voice, but even in thought, to blamethe priest who invokes the Lord on behalf of believers, if at any time he has said, "Give to them, OLord, perseverance in Thee to the end!" and has not rather responded, over such a benediction of his,as well with confessing lips as believing heart, "Amen"? Since in the Lord's Prayer itself thebelievers do not pray for anything else, especially when they say that petition, "Lead us not intotemptation," save that they may persevere in holy obedience. As, therefore, the Church has both beenborn and grows and has grown in these prayers, so it has been born and grows and has grown in thisfaith, by which faith it is believed that God's grace is not given according to the merits of thereceivers. For, certainly, the Church would not pray that faith should be given to unbelievers,unless it believed that God converts to Himself both the averse and adverse wills of men. Nor wouldthe Church pray that it might persevere in the faith of Christ, not deceived nor overcome by thetemptations of the world, unless it believed that the Lord has our heart in His power, in such wiseas that the good which we do not hold save by our own will, we nevertheless do not hold except Heworketh in us to will also. For if the Church indeed asks these things from Him, but thinks that thesame things are given to itself by itself, it makes use of prayers which are not true, butperfunctory,-which be far from us! For who truly groans, desiring to receive what he prays for fromthe Lord, if he thinks that he receives it from himself, and not from the Lord?
And this especially since "we know not what to pray for as we ought," says the apostle, "butthe Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered; and He thatsearcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for thesaints according to God."(149) What is "theSpirit Himself maketh intercession," but, "causes to make intercession," "with groanings that cannotbe uttered," but "truthful," since the Spirit is truth? For He it is of whom the apostle says inanother place, "God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, "crying, Abba, Father!"(150) And here what is the meaning of "crying," but"making to cry," by that figure of speech whereby we call a day that makes people glad, a glad day?And this he makes plain elsewhere when he says, "For you have not received the Spirit of bondageagain in fear, but you have received the Spirit of the adoption of sons, in whom we cry, Abba,Father."(151) He there said, "crying," buthere, "in whom we cry;" opening up, that is to say, the meaning with which he said "crying,"-that is,as I have already explained, "causing to cry," when we understand that this is also itself the giftof God, that with a true heart and spiritually we cry to God. Let them, therefore, observe how theyare mistaken who think that our seeking, asking, knocking is of ourselves, and is not given to us;and say that this is the case because grace is preceded by our merits; that it follows them when weask and receive, and seek and find, and it is opened to us when we knock. And they will notunderstand that this is also of the divine gift, that we pray; that is, that we ask, seek, and knock.For we have received the spirit of adoption of sons, in which we cry, Abba, Father. And this theblessed Ambrose also said.(152) For he says,"To pray to God also is the work of spiritual grace, as it is written, No one says, Jesus is theLord, but in the Holy Spirit."
These things, therefore, which the Church asks from the Lord, and always has asked from thetime she began to exist, God so foreknew that He would give to His called, that He has already giventhem in predestination itself; as the apostle declares without any ambiguity. For, writing toTimothy, he says, "Labour along with the gospel according to the power of God, who saves us, andcalls us with His holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose andgrace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of eternity, but is now made manifest bythe coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ."(153)Let him, therefore, say that the Church at any time has not had in its belief the truth of thispredestination and grace, which is now maintained with a more careful heed against the late heretics;let him say this who dares to say that at any time it has not prayed, or not truthfully prayed, aswell that unbelievers might believe, as that believers might persevere. And if the Church has alwaysprayed for these benefits, it has always believed them to be certainly God's gifts; nor was it everright for it to deny that they were foreknown by Him. And thus Christ's Church has never failed tohold the faith of this predestination, which is now being defended with new solicitude against thesemodern heretics.
But what more shall I say? I think that I have taught sufficiently, or rather more thansufficiently, that both the beginning of faith in the Lord, and continuance in the Lord unto the end,are God's gifts. And other good things which pertain to a good life, whereby God is rightlyworshipped, even they themselves on whose behalf I am writing this treatise concede to be God'sgifts. Further, they cannot deny that God has foreknown all His gifts, and the people on whom He wasgoing to bestow them. As, therefore, other things must be preached so that he who preaches them maybe heard with obedience, so predestination must be preached so that he who hears these things withobedience may glory not in man, and therefore not in himself, but in the Lord; for this also is God'sprecept, and to hear this precept with obedience-to wit, that he who glories should glory in theLord(154) -in like manner as the rest, isGod's gift. And he who has not this gift,-I shrink not from saying it,-whatever others he has, hasthem in vain. That the Pelagians may have this we pray, and that our own brethren may have it moreabundantly. Let us not, therefore, be prompt in arguments and indolent in prayers. Let us pray,dearly beloved, let us pray that the God of grace may give even to our enemies, and especially to ourbrethren and lovers, to understand and confess that after that great and unspeakable ruin wherein wehave all fallen in one, no one is delivered save by God's grace, and that grace is not repaidaccording to the merits of the receivers as if it were due, but is given freely as true grace, withno merits preceding.
But there is no more illustrious instance of predestination than Jesus Himself, concerningwhich also I have already argued in the former treatise;(155) and in the end of this I have chosen to insistupon it. There is no more eminent instance, I say, of predestination than the Mediator Himself. Ifany believer wishes thoroughly to understand this doctrine, let him consider Him, and in Him he willfind himself also. The believer, I say; who in Him believes and confesses the true human nature thatis our own however singularly elevated by assumption by God the Word into the only Son of God, sothat He who assumed, and what He assumed, should be one person in Trinity. For it was not aQuaternity that resulted from the assumption of man, but it remained a Trinity, inasmuch as thatassumption ineffably made the truth of one person in God and man. Because we say that Christ was notonly God, as the Manichean heretics contend; nor only man, as the Photinian heretics assert; nor insuch wise man as to have less of anything which of a certainty pertains to human nature,-whether asoul, or in the soul itself a rational mind, or flesh not taken of the woman, but made from the Wordconverted and changed into flesh,-all which three false and empty notions have made the three variousand diverse parties of the Apollinarian heretics; but we say that Christ was true God, born of Godthe Father without any beginning of time; and that He was also true or very man, born of human motherin the certain fulness of time; and that His humanity, whereby He is less than the Father, does notdiminish aught from His divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father. For both of them are OneChrist-who, moreover, most truly said in respect of the God, "I and the Father are one;"(156) and most truly said in respect of the man, "MyFather is greater than I."(157) He, therefore,who made of the seed of David this righteous man, who never should be unrighteous, without any meritof His preceding will, is the same who also makes righteous men of unrighteous, without any merit oftheir will preceding; that He might be the head, and they His members. He, therefore, who made thatman with no precedent merits of His, neither to deduce from His origin nor to commit by His will anysin which should be remitted to Him, the same makes believers on Him with no preceding merits oftheirs, to whom He forgives all sin. He who made Him such that He never had or should have an evilwill, the same makes in His members a good will out of an evil one. Therefore He predestinated bothHim and us, because both in Him that He might be our head, and in us that we should be His body, Heforeknew that our merits would not precede, but that His doings should.
Let those who read this, if they understand, give God thanks, and let those who do notunderstand, pray that they may have the inward Teacher, from whose presence comes knowledge andunderstanding. But let those who think that I am in error, consider again and again carefully what ishere said, lest perchance they themselves may be mistaken. And when, by means of those who read mywritings, I become not only wiser, but even more perfect, I acknowledge God's favour to me; and thisI especially look for at the hands of the teachers of the Church, if what I write comes into theirhands, and they condescend to acknowledge it.parparpar