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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15 [XIV.]—He Who Has Been Taught by Grace Actually Comes to Christ.

Now as touching this kind of teaching, the Lord also says: “Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” 1819 Of the man, therefore, who has not come, it cannot be correctly said: “Has heard and has learned that it is his duty to come to Him, but he is not willing to do what he has learned.” It is indeed absolutely improper to apply such a statement to that method of teaching, whereby God teaches by grace. For if, as the Truth says, “Every man that hath learned cometh,” it follows, of course, that whoever does not come has not learned. But who can fail to see that a man’s coming or not coming is by the determination of his will? This determination, however, may stand alone, if the man does not come; but if he does come, it cannot be without assistance; and such assistance, that he not only knows what it is he ought to do, but also actually does what he thus knows. And thus, when God teaches, it is not by the letter of the law, but by the grace of the Spirit. Moreover, He so teaches, that whatever a man learns, he not only sees with his perception, but also desires with his choice, and accomplishes in action. By this mode, therefore, of divine instruction, volition itself, and performance itself, are assisted, and not merely the natural “capacity” of willing and performing. For if nothing but this “capacity” of ours were assisted by this grace, the Lord would rather have said, “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father may possibly come unto me.” This, however, is not what He said; but His words are these: “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.” Now the possibility of coming Pelagius places in nature, or even—as we found him attempting to say some time ago 1820 —in grace (whatever that may mean according to him),—when he says, “whereby this very capacity is assisted;” whereas the actual coming lies in the will and act. It does not, however, follow that he who may come actually comes, unless he has also willed and acted for the coming. But every one who has learned of the Father not only has the possibility of coming, but comes; and in this result are already included the motion of the capacity, the affection of the will, and the effect of the action. 1821



John vi. 45.


See above, ch. 7 [vi.].


The technical gradation is here neatly expressed by profectus, affectus, and effectus.

Next: Chapter 16