Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On the Spirit and the Letter/Chapter 63
Chapter 63.—An Objection.
But inasmuch as it may be said that the instances which I have been quoting are divine works, whereas to live righteously is a work that belongs to ourselves, I undertook to show that even this too is a divine work. This I have done in the present book, with perhaps a fuller statement than is necessary, although I seem to myself to have said too little against the opponents of the grace of God. And I am never so much delighted in my treatment of a subject as when Scripture comes most copiously to my aid; and when the question to be discussed requires that “he that glorieth should glory in the Lord;” and that we should in all things lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God, from whom, “as the Father of lights, every good and every perfect gift cometh down.” Now if a gift is not God’s gift, because it is wrought by us, or because we act by His gift, then it is not a work of God that “a mountain should be removed into the sea,” inasmuch as, according to the Lord’s statement, it is by the faith of men that this is possible. Moreover, He attributes the deed to their actual operation: “If ye have faith in yourselves as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, “Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and it shall be done, and nothing shall be impossible to you.” Observe how He said “to you,” not “to Me” or “to the Father;” and yet it is certain that no man does such a thing without God’s gift and operation. See how an instance of perfect righteousness is unexampled among men, and yet is not impossible. For it might be achieved if there were only applied so much of will as suffices for so great a thing. There would, however, be so much will, if there were hidden from us none of those conditions which pertain to righteousness; and at the same time these so delighted our mind, that whatever hindrance of pleasure or pain might else occur, this delight in holiness would prevail over every rival affection. And that this is not realized, is not owing to any intrinsic impossibility, but to God’s judicial act. For who can be ignorant, that what he should know is not in man’s power; nor does it follow that what he has discovered to be a desirable object is actually desired, unless he also feel a delight in that object, commensurate with its claims on his affection? For this belongs to health of soul.
- 2 Cor. x. 17.
- Jas. i. 17.
- Compare Matt. xvii. 20, Mark xi. 23, Luke xvii. 6.