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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.: Chapter 35

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 35.—There is a Greater Freedom Now in the Saints Than There Was Before in Adam.

Certainly a greater liberty is necessary in the face of so many and so great temptations, which had no existence in Paradise,—a liberty fortified and confirmed by the gift of perseverance, so that this world, with all its loves, its fears, its errors, may be overcome: the martyrdoms of the saints have taught this. In fine, he [Adam], not only with nobody to make him afraid, but, moreover, in spite of the authority of God’s fear, using free will, did not stand in such a state of happiness, in such a facility 3359 of [not] sinning. But these [the saints], I say, not under the fear of the world, but in spite of the rage of the world lest they should stand, stood firm in the faith; while he could see the good things present which he was going to forsake, they could not see the good things future which they were going to receive. Whence is this, save by the gift of Him from whom they obtained mercy to be faithful; from whom they received the spirit, not of fear, whereby they would yield to the persecutors, but of power, and of love, and of continence, in which they could overcome all threatenings, all seductions, all torments? To him, therefore, without any sin, was given the free will with which he was created; and he made it to serve sin. But although the will of these had been the servant of sin, it was delivered by Him who said, “If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed.” 3360 And by that grace they receive so great a freedom, that although as long as they live here they are fighting against sinful lusts, and some sins creep upon them unawares, on account of which they daily say, “Forgive us our debts,” 3361 yet they do not any more obey the sin which is unto death, of which the Apostle John says, “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” 3362 Concerning which sin (since it is not expressed) many and different notions may be entertained. I, however, say, that sin is to forsake even unto death the faith which worketh by love. This sin they no longer serve who are not in the first condition, as Adam, free; but are freed by the grace of God through the second Adam, and by that deliverance have that free will which enables them to serve God, not that by which they may be made captive by the devil. From being made free from sin they have become the servants of righteousness, 3363 in which they will stand till the end, by the gift to them of perseverance from Him who foreknew them, and predestinated them, and called them according to His purpose, and justified them, and glorified them, since He has even already formed those things that are to come which He promised concerning them. And when He promised, “Abraham believed Him, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” 3364 For “he gave glory to God, most fully believing,” as it is written, “that what He has promised He is able also to perform.” 3365


Footnotes

486:3359

The original is in tanti peccandi facilitate. Of course, non must be inserted, but the translator ventures to conjecture facultate instead of facilitate.

486:3360

John viii. 36.

486:3361

Matt. vi. 12.

486:3362

1 John v. 16.

486:3363

Rom. vi. 18.

486:3364

Rom. 4:3, 20, 21.

486:3365

Rom. 4:3, 20, 21.


Next: Chapter 36

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