Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Grace and Free Will/Abstract/Chapter 15
Chapter 15.—The Pelagians Profess that the Only Grace Which is Not Given According to Our Merits is that of the Forgiveness of Sins.
When, however, the Pelagians say that the only grace which is not given according to our merits is that whereby his sins are forgiven to man, but that that which is given in the end, that is, eternal life, is rendered to our preceding merits: they must not be allowed to go without an answer. If, indeed, they so understand our merits as to acknowledge them, too, to be the gifts of God, then their opinion would not deserve reprobation. But inasmuch as they so preach human merits as to declare that a man has them of his own self, then most rightly the apostle replies: “Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou, that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” To a man who holds such views, it is perfect truth to say: It is His own gifts that God crowns, not your merits,—if, at least, your merits are of your own self, not of Him. If, indeed, they are such, they are evil; and God does not crown them; but if they are good, they are God’s gifts, because, as the Apostle James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” In accordance with which John also, the Lord’s forerunner, declares: “A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven”—from heaven, of course, because from thence came also the Holy Ghost, when Jesus ascended up on high, led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. If, then, your good merits are God’s gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits, but as His own gifts.
- 1 Cor. iv. 7.
- Jas. i. 17.
- John iii. 27.
- See Ps. lxviii. 18, and Eph. iv. 8.