Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Grace and Free Will/Abstract/Chapter 30
Chapter 30.—The Grace by Which the Stony Heart is Removed is Not Preceded by Good Deserts, But by Evil Ones.
In another passage, also, by the same prophet, God, in the clearest language, shows us that it is not owing to any good merits on the part of men, but for His own name’s sake, that He does these things. This is His language: “This I do, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle you with clean water, and ye shall be clean: from all your own filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and the stony heart shall be taken away out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Now who is so blind as not to see, and who so stone-like as not to feel, that this grace is not given according to the merits of a good will, when the Lord declares and testifies, “It is I, O house of Israel, who do this, but for my holy name’s sake”? Now why did He say “It is I that do it, but for my holy name’s sake,” were it not that they should not think that it was owing to their own good merits that these things were happening, as the Pelagians hesitate not unblushingly to say? But there were not only no good merits of theirs, but the Lord shows that evil ones actually preceded; for He says, “But for my holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen.” Who can fail to observe how dreadful is the evil of profaning the Lord’s own holy name? And yet, for the sake of this very name of mine, says He, which ye have profaned, I, even I, will make you good, but not for your own sakes; and, as He adds, “I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them.” He says that He sanctifies His name, which He had already declared to be holy. Therefore, this is just what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer—“Hallowed be Thy name.” We ask for the hallowing among men of that which is in itself undoubtedly always holy. Then it follows, “And the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you.” Although, then, He is Himself always holy, He is, nevertheless, sanctified in those on whom He bestows His grace, by taking from them that stony heart by which they profaned the name of the Lord.
- In several editions and mss. there is inserted here the phrase “not for your sakes.”
- Ezek. xxxvi. 22–27.
- Matt. vi. 9. [The word-play is significant in the Latin: “He says that he sanctifies (sanctificare) His name which He had already declared to be Holy (sanctum).” This is, therefore, what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “Hallowed (sanctificatur) be thy name,” etc.—W.]