Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 40
Chapter 40.—How that is to Be the Reward of All; The Apostle Earnestly Defends Grace.
What then is the import of the “All, from the least unto the greatest of them,” but all that belong spiritually to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah,—that is, to the children of Isaac, to the seed of Abraham? For such is the promise, wherein it was said to him, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called; for they which are the children of the flesh are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth,) it was said unto her, “The elder shall serve the younger.” 888 This is the house of Israel, or rather the house of Judah, on account of Christ, who came of the tribe of Judah. This is the house of the children of promise,—not by reason of their own merits, but of the kindness of God. For God promises what He Himself performs: He does not Himself promise, and another perform; which would no longer be promising, but prophesying. Hence it is “not of works, but of Him that calleth,” 889 lest the result should be their own, not Gods; lest the reward should be ascribed not to His grace, but to their due; and so grace should be no longer grace which was so earnestly defended and maintained by him who, though the least of the apostles, laboured more abundantly than all the rest,—yet not himself, but the grace of God that was with him. 890 “They shall all know me,” 891 He says,—“All,” the house of Israel and house of Judah. “All,” however, “are not Israel which are of Israel,” 892 but they only to whom it is said in “the psalm concerning the morning aid” 893 (that is, concerning the new refreshing light, meaning that of the new testament), “All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel.” 894 All the seed, without exception, even the entire seed of the promise and of the called, but only of those who are the called according to His purpose. 895 “For whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” 896 “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law,”—that is, which comes from the Old Testament into the New,—“but to that also which is of faith,” which was indeed prior to the law, even “the faith of Abraham,”—meaning those who imitate the faith of Abraham,—“who is the father of us all; as it is written, I have made p. 100 thee the father of many nations.” 897 Now all these predestinated, called, justified, glorified ones, shall know God by the grace of the new testament, from the least to the greatest of them.
Rom. ix. 7-12.99:889
Rom. ix. 11.99:890
1 Cor. 15:9, 10.99:891
Jer. xxxi. 34.99:892
Rom. ix. 6.99:893
See title of Ps. 21 (xxi. Sept.) in the Sept. and Latin.99:894
Ps. xxii. 23.99:895
Rom. viii. 28.99:896
Rom. viii. 30.100:897
Rom. 4:16, 17.
Next: Chapter 41
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