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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 66

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 66.—Although Perfect Righteousness Be Not Found Here on Earth, It is Still Not Impossible.

But let objectors find, if they can, any man, while living under the weight of this corruption, in whom God has no longer anything to forgive; unless nevertheless they acknowledge that such an individual has been aided in the attainment of his good character not merely by the teaching of the law which God gave, but also by the infusion of the Spirit of grace—they will incur the charge of ungodliness itself, not of this or that particular sin. Of course they are not at all able to discover such a man, if they receive in a becoming manner the testimony of the divine writings. Still, for all that, it must not by any means be said that the possibility is lacking to God whereby the will of man can be so assisted, that there can be accomplished in every respect even now in a man, not that righteousness only which is of faith, 1113 but that also in accordance with which we shall by and by have to live for ever in the very vision of God. For if he should now p. 114 wish even that this corruptible in any particular man should put on incorruption, 1114 and to command him so to live among mortal men (not destined himself to die) that his old nature should be wholly and entirely withdrawn, and there should be no law in his members warring against the law of his mind, 1115 —moreover, that he should discover God to be everywhere present, as the saints shall hereafter know and behold Him,—who will madly venture to affirm that this is impossible? Men, however, ask why He does not do this; but they who raise the question consider not duly the fact that they are human. I am quite certain that, as nothing is impossible with God 1116 so also there is no iniquity with Him. 1117 Equally sure am I that He resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. 1118 I know also that to him who had a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above measure, it was said, when he besought God for its removal once, twice, nay thrice: “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 1119 There is, therefore, in the hidden depths of God’s judgments, a certain reason why every mouth even of the righteous should be shut in its own praise, and only opened for the praise of God. But what this certain reason is, who can search, who investigate, who know? So “unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” 1120



Rom. x. 6.


1 Cor. xv. 53.


Rom. vii. 23.


Luke i. 37.


Rom. ix. 14.


Jas. iv. 6.


2 Cor. xii. 7-9.


Rom. xi. 33-36.

Next: A Treatise on Nature and Grace.