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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 30

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 30.—All Will is Either Good, and Then It Loves Righteousness, or Evil, When It Does Not Love Righteousness.

Unless, therefore, we obtain not simply determination of will, which is freely turned in this direction and that, and has its place amongst those natural goods which a bad man may use badly; but also a good will, which has its place among those goods of which it is impossible to make a bad use:—unless the impossibility is given to us from God, I know not how to defend what is said: “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” For if we have from God a certain free will, which may still be either good or bad; but the good will comes from ourselves; then that which comes from ourselves is better than that which comes from Him. But inasmuch as it is the height of absurdity to say this, they ought to acknowledge that we attain from God even a good will. It would indeed be a strange thing if the will could so stand in some mean as to be neither good nor bad; for we either love righteousness, and it is good, and if we love it more, more good,—if less, it is less good; or if we do not love it at all, it is not good. And who can hesitate to affirm that, when the will loves not righteousness in any way at all, it is not only a bad, but even a wholly depraved will? Since therefore the will is either good or bad, and since of course we have not the bad will from God, it remains that we have of God a good will; else, I am ignorant, since our justification is from it, in what other gift from Him we ought to rejoice. Hence, I suppose, it is written, “The will is prepared of the Lord;” 572 and in the Psalms, “The steps of a man will be rightly ordered by the Lord, and His way will be the choice of his will;” 573 and that which the apostle says, “For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of His own good pleasure.” 574


Footnotes

56:572

Prov. viii. 35.

56:573

Ps. xxxvii. 23.

56:574

Phil. ii. 13.


Next: Chapter 31

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