Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book II/Chapter 22
Chapter 22 [X.]—According to Whose Purpose the Elect are Called.
Why, then, is it that, in what follows, where they mention what they themselves think, they say they confess “That grace also assists the good purpose of every one, but that yet it does not infuse the desire of virtue into a reluctant heart”? Because they so say this as if man of himself, without God’s assistance, has a good purpose and a desire of virtue; and this precedent merit is worthy of being assisted by the subsequent grace of God. For they think, perchance, that the apostle thus said, “For we know that He worketh all things for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to the purpose,” so as to wish the purpose of man to be understood, which purpose, as a good merit, the mercy of the God that calleth might follow; being ignorant that it is said, “Who are called according to the purpose,” so that there may be understood the purpose of God, not man, whereby those whom He foreknew and predestinated as conformed to the image of His Son, He elected before the foundation of the world. For not all the called are called according to purpose, since “many are called, few are chosen.” They, therefore, are called according to the purpose, who were elected before the foundation of the world. Of this purpose of God, that also was said which I have already mentioned concerning the twins Esau and Jacob, “That according to the election the purpose of God might remain, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said, that the elder shall serve the younger.” This purpose of God is also mentioned in that place where, writing to Timothy, he says, “Labour with the gospel according to the power of God, who saves us and calls us with this holy calling; not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the eternal ages, but is now made manifest by the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” This, then, is the purpose of God, whereof it is said, “He worketh together all things for good for those who are called according to the purpose.” But subsequent grace indeed assists man’s good purpose, but the purpose would not itself exist if grace did not precede. The desire of man, also, which is called good, although in beginning to exist it is aided by grace, yet does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him of whom the apostle says, “But thanks be to God, who has given the same desire for you in the heart of Titus.” If God gives desire that every one may have it for others, who else will give it that a man may have it for himself?
- Rom. viii. 28.
- Matt. xx. 16.
- Rom. ix. 11.
- 2 Tim. i. 8.
- 2 Cor. viii. 16.