Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book IV/Chapter 25
Chapter 25 [IX.]—Cyprian’s Testimonies Concerning God’s Grace.
But now it plainly appears in what way Cyprian proclaims the grace of God against such as these, when he is arguing about the Lord’s Prayer. For he says: “We say, ‘May Thy name be made holy,’ not that we wish for God that He may be made holy by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be made holy in us. But by whom is God made holy, since He Himself makes holy? But, because He says, ‘Be ye holy, because I also am holy,’ we ask and entreat this, that we who were made holy in baptism may continue in that which we have begun to be.” And in another place in the same epistle he says: “We add also, and say, ‘Thy will be done in heaven, and in earth,’ not in order that God may do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God that He may not do what He wills? But, since we are hindered by the devil from obeying God with our thought and deed in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us. And that it may be done in us, we have need of God’s will, that is, of His help and protection; since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the indulgence and mercy of God.” In another place also: “Moreover, we ask that the will of God may be done both in heaven and in earth, each of which things pertains to the fulfilment of our safety and salvation. For since we possess the body from the earth, and the spirit from heaven, we are ourselves earth and heaven; and in both, that is, both in body and in spirit, we pray that God’s will be done. For between the flesh and the spirit there is a struggle, and there is a daily strife as they disagree one with the other; so that we cannot do the very things that we would, in that the spirit seeks heavenly and divine things, while the flesh lusts after earthly and temporal things. And, therefore, we ask that, by the help and assistance of God, agreement may be made between these two natures; so that while the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul which is newborn by Him may be preserved. And this the Apostle Paul openly and manifestly declares by his words. ‘The flesh,’ says he, ‘lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.’” And a little after he says: “And it may be thus understood, most beloved brethren, that since the Lord commands and teaches us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us, we should ask even for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God’s will may be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity.” And again, in another place he says: “But we ask that this bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not, by the interposition of some more heinous sin,—by being prevented, as those abstaining and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread,—be separated from Christ’s body.” And a little afterwards, in the same treatise he says: “But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness, while we so ask as that no one should insolently vaunt himself; that none should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself; that none should take to himself the glory either of confession or of suffering as his own, when the Lord Himself teaching humility said, ‘Watch and pray, that ye come not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;’ so that while a humble and submissive confession comes first, and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly, with fear and honour of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness.” Moreover, in his treatise addressed to Quirinus, in respect to which work Pelagius wishes himself to appear as his imitator, he says in the Third Book “that we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own.” And subjoining the divine testimonies to this proposition, he added among others that apostolic word with which especially the mouths of such as these must be closed: “For what hast thou, which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received it, why boastest thou as if thou hadst not received it?” Also in the epistle concerning Patience he says: “For we have this virtue in common with God. From Him patience begins; from Him its glory and its dignity take their rise. The origin and greatness of patience proceed from God as its Author.”
- i.e. “Hallowed be Thy name.”
- Cyprian, On the Lord ’s Prayer, ch. 9 (xii.), see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. p. 450.
- Ibid. ch. 13 (xvi.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 451.
- Cyprian, On the Lord ’s Prayer, ch. 11 (xiv.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 451.
- Ibid. ch. 15 (xvii.); vol. v. 452.
- Ibid. ch. 18 (xx.), p. 452.
- Matt. xxvi. 41, or Mark xiv. 38.
- Cyprian, work cited, ch. 19 (xxvi.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 454.
- Cyprian’s Testimonies, iii. 4; vol. v. p. 528.
- Cyprian, On Patience; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 484.