Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Grace and Free Will/Abstract/Chapter 40

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Chapter 40 [XIX.]—The Ignorance of the Pelagians in Maintaining that the Knowledge of the Law Comes from God, But that Love Comes from Ourselves.

It is no wonder that light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.[1] In John’s Epistle the Light declares, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”[2] And in the Pelagian writings the darkness says, “Love comes to us of our own selves.” Now, if they only possessed the true, that is, Christian love, they would also know whence they obtained possession of it; even as the apostle knew when he said, “But we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”[3] John says, “God is love.”[4] And thus the Pelagians affirm that they actually have God Himself, not from God, but from their own selves! and although they allow that we have the knowledge of the law from God, they will yet have it that love is from our very selves. Nor do they listen to the apostle when he says, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.”[5] Now what can be more absurd, nay, what more insane and more alien from the very sacredness of love itself, than to maintain that from God proceeds the knowledge which, apart from love, puffs us up, while the love which prevents the possibility of this inflation of knowledge springs from ourselves? And again, when the apostle speaks of “the love of Christ as surpassing knowledge,”[6] what can be more insane than to suppose that the knowledge which must be subordinated to love comes from God, while the love which surpasses knowledge comes from man? The true faith, however, and sound doctrine declare that both graces are from God; the Scripture says, “From His face cometh knowledge and understanding;”[7] and another Scripture says, “Love is of God.”[8] We read of “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.”[9] Also of “the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”[10] But love is a greater gift than knowledge; for whenever a man has the gift of knowledge, love is necessary by the side of it, that he be not puffed up. For “love envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”[11]


  1. John i. 5.
  2. 1 John iii. 1.
  3. 1 Cor. ii. 12.
  4. 1 John iv. 16.
  5. 1 Cor. viii. 1.
  6. Eph. iii. 19.
  7. Prov. ii. 6.
  8. 1 John iv. 7.
  9. Isa. xi. 2.
  10. 2 Tim. i. 7.
  11. 1 Cor. xiii. 4.