Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 1
Chapter 1 [I.]—The Occasion of Publishing This Work; What God’s Righteousness is.
The book which you sent to me, my beloved sons, Timasius and Jacobus, I have read through hastily, but not indifferently, omitting only the few points which are plain enough to everybody; and I saw in it a man inflamed with most ardent zeal against those, who, when in their sins they ought to censure human will, are more forward in accusing the nature of men, and thereby endeavour to excuse themselves. He shows too great a fire against this evil, which even authors of secular literature have severely censured with the exclamation: “The human race falsely complains of its own nature!” This same sentiment your author also has strongly insisted upon, with all the powers of his talent. I fear, however, that he will chiefly help those “who have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge,” who, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” Now, what the righteousness of God is, which is spoken of here, he immediately afterwards explains by adding: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” This righteousness of God, therefore, lies not in the commandment of the law, which excites fear, but in the aid afforded by the grace of Christ, to which alone the fear of the law, as of a schoolmaster, usefully conducts. Now, the man who understands this understands why he is a Christian. For “If righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” If, however He did not die in vain, in Him only is the ungodly man justified, and to him, on believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, faith is reckoned for righteousness. For all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His blood. But all those who do not think themselves to belong to the “all who have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” have of course no need to become Christians, because “they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;” whence it is, that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
- See Sallust’s Prologue to his Jugurtha.
- Rom. x. 2, 3.
- Rom. x. 4.
- Gal. iii. 24.
- Gal. ii. 21.
- Rom. iv. 5.
- Rom. iii. 23, 24.
- Matt. ix. 12.
- Matt. ix. 13.