Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 62
Chapter 62.—Concerning What Grace of God is Here Under Discussion. The Ungodly Man, When Dying, is Not Delivered from Concupiscence.
Now, whereas it is most correctly asked in those words put to him, “Why do you affirm that man without the help of God’s grace is able to avoid sin?” yet the inquiry did not concern that grace by which man was created, but only that whereby he is saved through Jesus Christ our Lord. Faithful men say in their prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” But if they already have capacity, why do they pray? Or, what is the evil which they pray to be delivered from, but, above all else, “the body of this death?” And from this nothing but God’s grace alone delivers them, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Not of course from the substance of the body, which is good; but from its carnal offences, from which a man is not liberated except by the grace of the Saviour,—not even when he quits the body by the death of the body. If it was this that the apostle meant to declare, why had he previously said, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members?” Behold what damage the disobedience of the will has inflicted on man’s nature! Let him be permitted to pray that he may be healed! Why need he presume so much on the capacity of his nature? It is wounded, hurt, damaged, destroyed. It is a true confession of its weakness, not a false defence of its capacity, that it stands in need of. It requires the grace of God, not that it may be made, but that it may be re-made. And this is the only grace which by our author is proclaimed to be unnecessary; because of this he is silent! If, indeed, he had said nothing at all about God’s grace, and had not proposed to himself that question for solution, for the purpose of removing from himself the odium of this matter, it might have been thought that his view of the subject was consistent with the truth, only that he had refrained from mentioning it, on the ground that not on all occasions need we say all we think. He proposed the question of grace, and answered it in the way that he had in his heart; the question has been defined,—not in the way we wished, but according to the doubt we entertained as to what was his meaning.
- Matt. vi. 13.
- Rom. vii. 23.
- See above, ch. 59, sub init.