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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Concerning Man’s Perfection...: Section 30

Early Church Fathers  Index     

(30.) “Every Man is a Liar,” Owing to Himself Alone; But “Every Man is True,” By Help Only of the Grace of God.

“Moreover,” says he, “in Job himself it is said: ‘And he maintained the miracle of a true man.’ 1490 Again we read in Solomon, touching wisdom: ‘Men that are liars cannot remember her, but men of truth shall be found in her.’ 1491 Again in the Apocalypse: ‘And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault.’” 1492 To all these statements we reply with a reminder to our opponents, of how a man may be called true, through the grace and truth of God, who is in himself without doubt a liar. Whence it is said: “Every man is a liar.” 1493 As for the passage also which he has quoted in reference to Wisdom, when it is said, “Men of truth shall be found in her,” we must observe that it is undoubtedly not “in her,” but in themselves that men shall be found liars. Just as in another passage: “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord,” 1494 —when he said, “Ye were darkness,” he did not add, “in the Lord;” but after saying, “Ye are now light,” he expressly added the phrase, “in the Lord,” for they could not possibly be “light” in themselves; in order that “he who glorieth may glory in the Lord.” 1495 The “faultless” ones, indeed, in the Apocalypse, are so called because “no guile was found in their mouth.” 1496 They did not say they had no sin: if they had said this, they would deceive themselves, and the truth would not be in them; 1497 and if the truth were not in them, guile and untruth would be found in their mouth. If, however, to avoid envy, they said they were not without sin, although they were sinless, then this very insincerity would be a lie, and the character given of them would be untrue: “In their mouth was found no guile.” Hence indeed “they are without fault;” for as they have p. 170 forgiven those who have done them wrong, so are they purified by God’s forgiveness of themselves. Observe now how we have to the best of our power explained in what sense the quotations he has in his own behalf advanced ought to be understood. But how the passage, “Every man is a liar,” is to be interpreted, he on his part has altogether omitted to explain; nor is an explanation within his power, without a correction of the error which makes him believe that man can be true without the help of God’s grace, and merely by virtue of his own free will.



Job xvii. 8.


Ecclesiasticus 15.8.


Rev. xiv. 5.


Ps. cxv. 2.


Eph. v. 8.


1 Cor. i. 31.


Rev. xiv. 5.


1 John i. 8.

Next: Section 31

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