Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 74
Chapter 74 [LXIII.]—Ambrose.
St. Ambrose, however, really opposes those who say that man cannot exist without sin in the present life. For, in order to support his statement, he avails himself of the instance of Zacharias and Elisabeth, because they are mentioned as “having walked in all the commandments and ordinances” of the law “blameless.” Well, but does he for all that deny that it was by God’s grace that they did this through our Lord Jesus Christ? It was undoubtedly by such faith in Him that holy men lived of old, even before His death. It is He who sends the Holy Ghost that is given to us, through whom that love is shed abroad in our hearts whereby alone whosoever are righteous are righteous. This same Holy Ghost the bishop expressly mentioned when he reminds us that He is to be obtained by prayer (so that the will is not sufficient unless it be aided by Him); thus in his hymn he says:
“Votisque præstat sedulis,
Sanctum mereri Spiritum,”—
“To those who sedulously seek He gives to gain the Holy Spirit.”
- Luke i. 6. See Ambrose in loco (Exp. 61, s. 17).
- Ambrose’s Hymns, 3.