Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book IV/Chapter 15
Chapter 15.—From Such Scriptures Grace is Proved to Be Gratuitous and Effectual.
What remained to the carrion skin whence it might be puffed up, and could disdain when it glories to glory in the Lord? What remained to it, when whatsoever it shall have said that it has done in such a way that after that preceding merit of man had originated from man, God should subsequently do that of which the man is deserving,—it shall be answered, it shall be exclaimed against, it shall be contradicted, “I do it; but for my own holy name’s sake; not for your sakes, do I do it, saith the Lord God”? Nothing so overturns the Pelagians when they say that the grace of God is given in respect of our merits. Which, indeed, Pelagius himself condemned, and if not by correcting it, yet by being afraid of the Eastern judges. Nothing so overturns the presumption of men who say, “We do it, that we may deserve those things with which God may do it.” It is not Pelagius that answers you, but the Lord Himself, “I do it and not for your sakes, but for my own holy name’s sake.” For what good can ye do out of a heart which is not good? But that you may have a good heart, He says, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you.” Can you say, We will first walk in His righteousness, and will observe His judgment, and will do so that we may be worthy, such as He should give His grace to? But what good would ye evil men do, and how should you do those good things, unless you were yourselves good? But who causes that men should be good save Him who said, “And I will visit them to make them good”? and who said “I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them”? Are ye thus not yet awake? Do ye not yet hear, “I will cause you to walk, I will make you to observe,” lastly, “I will make you to do”? What! are you still puffing yourselves up? We indeed walk, it is true; we observe; we do; but He makes us to walk, to observe, to do. This is the grace of God making us good; this is His mercy preventing us. What do waste and desolated and dug-up places deserve, which yet shall be built and tilled and fortified? Are these things for the merits of their wasteness, their desolation, their uprooting? Far from it. For such things as these are evil deservings, while those gifts are good. Therefore good things are given for evil ones—gratuitous, therefore; not of debt, and therefore grace. “I,” saith the Lord: “I, the Lord.” Does not such a word as that restrain you, O human pride, when you say, I do such things as to deserve from the Lord to be built and planted? Do you not hear, “I do it not on your account; I the Lord have built up the destroyed cities, and I have planted the desolated lands; I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, yet not for your sakes, but for my own holy name’s sake”? Who multiplies men as sheep, as holy sheep, as the sheep of Jerusalem? Who causes those desolated cities to be full of men as sheep, save He who goes on, and says, “And they shall know that I am the Lord”? But with what men as sheep does He fill the cities as He promised? those which He finds, or those which He makes? Let us interrogate the Psalm; lo, it answers; let us hear: “O come, let us worship and fall down before Him: and let us weep before the Lord who made us; because He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” He therefore makes the sheep, with which He may fill the desolated cities. What wonder, when, indeed, to that single sheep, that is, the Church whose members are all the human sheep, it is said, “Because I am the Lord who make thee”? What do you pretend to me of free will, which will not be free to do righteousness, unless you should be a sheep? He then who makes men His sheep, He frees the wills of men for the obedience of piety.
- 1 Cor. i. 31.
- Ezek. xxxvi. 22.
- On the Proceedings of Peliagius, 30.
- Ezek. xxxvi. 22.
- Ps. xcv. 6, 7.