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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 47

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 47 [XLI.]—Sentences from Ambrose in Favour of Original Sin.

And now that we are about to bring this book to a conclusion, we think it proper to do on this subject of Original Sin what we did before in our treatise On Grace2040 —adduce in evidence against the injurious talk of these persons that servant of God, the Archbishop Ambrose, whose faith is proclaimed by Pelagius to be the most perfect among the writers of the Latin Church; for grace is more especially honoured in doing away with original sin. In the work which the saintly Ambrose wrote, Concerning the Resurrection, he says: “I fell in Adam, in Adam was I expelled from Paradise, in Adam I died; and He does not recall me unless He has found me in Adam,—so as that, as I am obnoxious to the guilt of sin in him, and subject to death, I may be also justified in Christ.” 2041 Then, again, writing against the Novatians, he says: “We men are all of us born in sin; our very origin is in sin; as you may read when David says, ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ 2042 Hence it is that Paul’s flesh is ‘a body of death;’ 2043 even as he says himself, ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ Christ’s flesh, however, has conp. 254 demned sin, which He experienced not by being born, and which by dying He crucified, that in our flesh there might be justification through grace, where previously there was impurity through sin.” 2044 The same holy man also, in his Exposition of Isaiah, speaking of Christ, says: “Therefore as man He was tried in all things, and in the likeness of men He endured all things; but as born of the Spirit, He was free from sin. For every man is a liar, and no one but God alone is without sin. It is therefore an observed and settled fact, that no man born of a man and a woman, that is, by means of their bodily union, is seen to be free from sin. Whosoever, indeed, is free from sin, is free also from a conception and birth of this kind.” 2045 Moreover, when expounding the Gospel according to Luke, he says: “It was no cohabitation with a husband which opened the secrets of the Virgin’s womb; rather was it the Holy Ghost which infused immaculate seed into her unviolated womb. For the Lord Jesus alone of those who are born of woman is holy, inasmuch as He experienced not the contact of earthly corruption, by reason of the novelty of His immaculate birth; nay, He repelled it by His heavenly majesty.”  2046



See above, De Gratiâ Christi, 49–51 (xlv., xlvi.).


Ambrose’s De Exc. Sal. ii. 6.


Ps. li. 5.


Rom. vii. 24.


Ambrose’s De Pœnitentia, i. 2, 3.


Quoted from a work by St. Ambrose, On Isaiah, not now extant.


See Book ii. 56. of this Commentary on St. Luke, ch. ii.

Next: Chapter 48

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