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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Predestination of the...: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—It is Believers that are Taught of God.

“Why,” say they, “does He not teach all men?” If we should say that they whom He does not teach are unwilling to learn, we shall be met with the answer: And what becomes of what is said to Him, “O God, Thou wilt turn us again, and quicken us”? 3475 Or if God does not make men willing who were not willing, on what principle does the Church pray, according to the Lord’s commandment, for her persecutors? For thus also the blessed Cyprian 3476 would have it to be understood that we say, “Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth,”—that is, as in those who have already believed, and who are, as it were, heaven, so also in those who do not believe, and on this account are still the earth. What, then, do we pray for on behalf of those who are unwilling to believe, except that God would work in them to will also? Certainly the apostle says, “Brethren, my heart’s good will, indeed, and my prayer to God for them, is for their salvation.” 3477 He prays for those who do not believe,—for what, except p. 506 that they may believe? For in no other way do they obtain salvation. If, then, the faith of the petitioners precede the grace of God, does the faith of them on whose behalf prayer is made that they may believe precede the grace of God?—since this is the very thing that is besought for them, that on them that believe not—that is, who have not faith—faith itself may be bestowed? When, therefore, the gospel is preached, some believe, some believe not; but they who believe at the voice of the preacher from without, hear of the Father from within, and learn; while they who do not believe, hear outwardly, but inwardly do not hear nor learn;—that is to say, to the former it is given to believe; to the latter it is not given. Because “no man,” says He, “cometh to me, except the Father which sent me draw him.” 3478 And this is more plainly said afterwards. For after a little time, when He was speaking of eating his flesh and drinking His blood, and some even of His disciples said, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it? Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this offend you?” 3479 And a little after He said, “The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life; but there are some among you which believe not.” 3480 And immediately the evangelist says, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the believers, and who should betray Him; and He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father.” Therefore, to be drawn to Christ by the Father, and to hear and learn of the Father in order to come to Christ, is nothing else than to receive from the Father the gift by which to believe in Christ. For it was not the hearers of the gospel that were distinguished from those who did not hear, but the believers from those who did not believe, by Him who said, “No man cometh to me except it were given him of my Father.”



Ps. lxxx. 7.


Cypr. Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer.


Rom. x. 1.


John vi. 44.


John vi. 60 ff.


John vi. 63 ff.

Next: Chapter 16

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