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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 49

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 49.—The Grace Promised by the Prophet for the New Covenant.

What then could the apostle have meant to imply by,—after checking the boasting of the Jews, by telling them that “not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified,” 963 —immediately afterwards speaking of them “which, having not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,” 964 if in this description not they are to be understood who belong to the Mediator’s grace, but rather they who, while not worshipping the true God with true godliness, do yet exhibit some good works in the general course of their ungodly lives? Or did the apostle perhaps deem it probable, because he had previously said that “with God there is no respect of persons,” 965 and had afterwards said that “God is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles,” 966 —that even such scanty little works of the law, as are suggested by nature, were not discovered in such as received not the law, except as the result of the remains of the image of God; which He does not disdain when they believe in Him, with whom there is no respect of persons? But whichever of these views is accepted, it is evident that the grace of God was promised to the new testament even by the prophet, and that this grace was definitively announced to take this shape,—God’s laws were to be written in men’s hearts; and they were to arrive at such a knowledge of God, that they were not each one to teach his neighbour and brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all were to know Him, from the least to the greatest of them. 967 This is the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which love is shed abroad in our hearts, 968 —not, indeed, any kind of love, but the love of God, “out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith,” 969 by means of which the just man, while living in this pilgrim state, is led on, after the stages of “the glass,” and “the enigma,” and “what is in part,” to the actual vision, that, face to face, he may know even as he is known. 970 For one thing has he required of the Lord, and that he still seeks after, that he may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, in order to behold the pleasantness of the Lord. 971


Footnotes

104:963

Rom. ii. 13.

104:964

Rom. ii. 14.

104:965

Rom. ii. 11.

104:966

Rom. iii. 29.

104:967

Jer. 31:33, 34.

104:968

Rom. v. 5.

104:969

1 Tim. i. 5.

104:970

1 Cor. xiii. 12.

104:971

Ps. xxvii. 4.


Next: Chapter 50

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