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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Concerning Man’s Perfection...: Section 41

Early Church Fathers  Index     

(41.) Specimens of Pelagian Exegesis.

But I beg of you to see what kind of objection, after all, he makes, that to him who “willeth and runneth” there is no necessity for God’s mercy, which actually anticipates him in order that he may run,—because, forsooth, the apostle says concerning a certain person, “Let him do what he will,” 1572 —in the matter, as I suppose, which he goes on to treat, when he says, “He sinneth not, let him marry!” 1573 As if indeed it should be regarded as a great matter to be willing to marry, when the subject is a laboured discussion concerning the assistance of God’s grace, or that it is of any great advantage p. 175 to will it, unless God’s providence, which governs all things, joins together the man and the woman. Or, in the case of the apostle’s writing to Philemon, that “his kindness should not be as it were of necessity, but voluntary,”—as if any good act could indeed be voluntary otherwise than by God’s “working in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure.” 1574 Or, when the Scripture says in Deuteronomy, “Life and death hath He set before man and good and evil,” and admonishes him “to choose life;” as if, forsooth, this very admonition did not come from God’s mercy, or as if there were any advantage in choosing life, unless God inspired love to make such a choice, and gave the possession of it when chosen, concerning which it is said: “For anger is in His indignation, and in His pleasure is life.” 1575

Or again, because it is said, “The commandments, if thou wilt, shall save thee,” 1576 —as if a man ought not to thank God, because he has a will to keep the commandments, since, if he wholly lacked the light of truth, it would not be possible for him to possess such a will. “Fire and water being set before him, a man stretches forth his hand towards which he pleases;” 1577 and yet higher is He who calls man to his higher vocation than any thought on man’s own part, inasmuch as the beginning of correction of the heart lies in faith, even as it is written, “Thou shalt come, and pass on from the beginning of faith.” 1578 Every one makes his choice of good, “according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith;” 1579 and as the Prince of faith says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” 1580 And that He spake this in reference to the faith which believes in Him, He subsequently explains with sufficient clearness, when He says: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life; yet there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”  1581



1 Cor. vii. 36.


1 Cor. vii. 36.


Phil. ii. 13.


Ps. xxx. 5.


Ecclesiasticus 15.15.


Ecclesiasticus 15.16.


Song of Sol. 4.8.


Rom. xii. 3.


John vi. 44.


John vi. 62-65.

Next: Section 42

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