Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XI/John Cassian/Conferences of John Cassian, Part I/Conference III/Chapter 16
That faith itself must be given us by the Lord.
But so thoroughly did the Apostles realize that everything which concerns salvation was given them by the Lord, that they even asked that faith itself should be granted from the Lord, saying: “Add to us faith” as they did not imagine that it could be gained by free will, but believed that it would be bestowed by the free gift of God. Lastly the Author of man’s salvation teaches us how feeble and weak and insufficient our faith would be unless it were strengthened by the aid of the Lord, when He says to Peter “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed to my Father that thy faith fail not.” And another finding that this was happening in his own case, and seeing that his faith was being driven by the waves of unbelief on the rocks which would cause a fearful shipwreck, asks of the same Lord an aid to his faith, saying “Lord, help mine unbelief.” So thoroughly then did those Apostles and men in the gospel realize that everything which is good is brought to perfection by the aid of the Lord, and not imagine that they could preserve their faith unharmed by their own strength or free will that they prayed that it might be helped or granted to them by the Lord. And if in Peter’s case there was need of the Lord’s help that it might not fail, who will be so presumptuous and blind as to fancy that he has no need of daily assistance from the Lord in order to preserve it? Especially
as the Lord Himself has made this clear in the gospel, saying: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, so no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” And again: “for without me ye can do nothing.” How foolish and wicked then it is to attribute any good action to our own diligence and not to God’s grace and assistance, is clearly shown by the Lord’s saying, which lays down that no one can show forth the fruits of the Spirit without His inspiration and co-operation. For “every good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” And Zechariah too says, “For whatever is good is His, and what is excellent is from Him.” And so the blessed Apostle consistently says: “What hast thou which thou didst not receive? But if thou didst receive it, why boastest thou as if thou hadst not received it?”
- S. Luke xvii. 5.
- S. Luke xxii. 31, 32.
- S. Mark ix. 23.
- S. John xv. 4.
- Ib. ver. 5.
- S. James i. 17.
- Zech. ix. 17 (LXX.).
- 1 Cor. iv. 7.