Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book I/Chapter 6
Chapter 6 [III.]—Grace is Not Given According to Merits.
But lest perchance they say that they are aided to this,—that they may “have power to become the sons of God,” but that they may deserve to receive this power they have first “received Him” by free will with no assistance of grace (because this is the purpose of their endeavour to destroy grace, that they may contend that it is given according to our deservings); lest perchance, then, they so divide that evangelical statement as to refer merit to that portion of it wherein it is said, “But as many as received Him,” and then say that in that which follows, “He gave them power to become the sons of God,” grace is not given freely, but is repaid to this merit; if it is asked of them what is the meaning of “received Him,” will they say anything else than “believed on Him”? And in order, therefore, that they may know that this also pertains to grace, let them read what the apostle says: “And that ye be in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which indeed is to them a cause of perdition, but of your salvation, and that of God; for unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Certainly he said that both were given. Let them read what he said also: “Peace be to the brethren, and love, with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Let them also read what the Lord Himself says: “No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him.” Where, lest any one should suppose that anything else is said in the words “come to me” than “believe in me,” a little after, when He was speaking of His body and blood, and many were offended at His discourse, He says, “The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and life; but there are some of you which believe not.” Then the Evangelist added, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore I said unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father.” He repeated, to wit, the saying in which He had said, “No man can come unto me, except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him.” And He declared that He said this for the sake of believers and unbelievers, explaining what He had said, “except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him,” by repeating the very same thing in other words in that which He said, “except it were given him of my Father.” Because he is drawn to Christ to whom it is given to believe on Christ. Therefore the power is given that they who believe on Him should become the sons of God, since this very thing is given, that they believe on Him. And unless this power be given from God, out of free will there can be none; because it will not be free for good if the deliverer have not made it free; but in evil he has a free will in whom a deceiver, either secret or manifest, has grafted the love of wickedness, or he himself has persuaded himself of it.
- Phil. i. 28, 29.
- Eph. vi. 23.
- John vi. 44.
- John vi. 64.
- John vi. 64 ff.