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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5 [V.]—The Will of Man Requires the Help of God.

Now for the commission of sin we get no help from God; but we are not able to do justly, and to fulfil the law of righteousness in every part thereof, except we are helped by God. For as the bodily eye is not helped by the light to turn away therefrom shut or averted, but is helped by it to see, and cannot see at all unless it help it; so God, who is the light of the inner man, helps our mental sight, in order that we may do some good, not according to our own, but according to His righteousness. But if we turn p. 46 away from Him, it is our own act; we then are wise according to the flesh, we then consent to the concupiscence of the flesh for unlawful deeds. When we turn to Him, therefore, God helps us; when we turn away from Him, He forsakes us. But then He helps us even to turn to Him; and this, certainly, is something that light does not do for the eyes of the body. When, therefore, He commands us in the words, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,” 461 and we say to Him, “Turn us, O God of our salvation,” 462 and again, “Turn us, O God of hosts;” 463 what else do we say than, “Give what Thou commandest?” 464 When He commands us, saying, “Understand now, ye simple among the people,” 465 and we say to Him, “Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments;” 466 what else do we say than, “Give what Thou commandest?” When He commands us, saying, “Go not after thy lusts,” 467 and we say to Him, “We know that no man can be continent, except God gives it to him;” 468 what else do we say than, “Give what Thou commandest?” When He commands us, saying, “Do justice,” 469 and we say, “Teach me Thy judgments, O Lord;” 470 what else do we say than, “Give what Thou commandest?” In like manner, when He says: “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled,” 471 from whom ought we to seek for the meat and drink of righteousness, but from Him who promises His fulness to such as hunger and thirst after it?



Zech. i. 3.


Ps. lxxxv. 4.


Ps. 80:3, 4.


Da quod jubes; see the Confessions, Book x. chap. 26.


Ps. xciv. 8.


Ps. cxix. 73.


Ecclesiasticus 18.30.


Wisdom 8.21.


Isa. lvi. 1.


Ps. cxix. 108.


Matt. v. 6.

Next: Chapter 6