Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 82
Chapter 82 [LXVIII.]—How to Exhort Men to Faith, Repentance, and Advancement.
If, therefore, we wish “to rouse and kindle cold and sluggish souls by Christian exhortations to lead righteous lives,” we must first of all exhort them to that faith whereby they may become Christians, and be subjects of His name and authority, without whom they cannot be saved. If, however, they are already Christians but neglect to lead holy lives, they must be chastised with alarms and be aroused by the praises of reward,—in such a manner, indeed, that we must not forget to urge them to godly prayers as well as to virtuous actions, and furthermore to instruct them in such wholesome doctrine that they be induced thereby to return thanks for being able to accomplish any step in that holy life which they have entered upon, without difficulty, and whenever they do experience such “difficulty,” that they then wrestle with God in most faithful and persistent prayer and ready works of mercy to obtain from Him facility. But provided they thus progress, I am not over-anxious as to the where and the when of their perfection in fulness of righteousness; only I solemnly assert, that wheresoever and whensoever they become perfect, it cannot be but by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When, indeed, they have attained to the clear knowledge that they have no sin, let them not say they have sin, lest the truth be not in them; even as the truth is not in those persons who, though they have sin, yet say that they have it not.
- This passage, and others in this and the following chapters, are marked as quotations, apparently cited from Pelagius by Augustin.
- For the “difficulty,” which is one of the penal consequences of sin, see last chapter, about its middle.
- 1 John i. 8.