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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 9

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 9 [VIII.]—The Law One Thing, Grace Another. The Utility of the Law.

Hence, then, it is clear that he acknowledges that grace whereby God points out and reveals to us what we are bound to do; but not that whereby He endows and assists us to act, since the knowledge of the law, unless it be accompanied by the assistance of grace, rather avails for producing the transgression of the commandment. “Where there is no law,” says the apostle, “there is no transgression;” 1793 and again: “I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” 1794 Therefore so far are the law and grace from being the same thing, that the law is not only unprofitable, but it is absolutely prejudicial, unless grace assists it; and the utility of the law may be shown by this, that it obliges all whom it proves guilty of transgression to betake themselves to grace for deliverance and help to overcome their evil lusts. p. 220 For it rather commands than assists; it discovers disease, but does not heal it; nay, the malady that is not healed is rather aggravated by it, so that the cure of grace is more earnestly and anxiously sought for, inasmuch as “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 1795 “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” 1796 To what extent, however, the law gives assistance, the apostle informs us when he says immediately afterwards: “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” 1797 Wherefore, says the apostle, “the law was our schoolmaster in Christ Jesus.” 1798 Now this very thing is serviceable to proud men, to be more firmly and manifestly “concluded under sin,” so that none may pre-sumptuously endeavour to accomplish their justification by means of free will as if by their own resources; but rather “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Because by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” 1799 How then manifested without the law, if witnessed by the law? For this very reason the phrase is not, “manifested without the law,” but “the righteousness without the law,” because it is “the righteousness of God;” that is, the righteousness which we have not from the law, but from God,—not the righteousness, indeed, which by reason of His commanding it, causes us fear through our knowledge of it; but rather the righteousness which by reason of His bestowing it, is held fast and maintained by us through our loving it,—“so that he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1800



Rom. iv. 15.


Rom. vii. 7.


2 Cor. iii. 6.


Gal. iii. 21.


Gal. iii. 22.


Gal. iii. 24.


Rom. iii. 19-21.


1 Cor. i. 31.

Next: Chapter 10

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