Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 24
Chapter 24.—Pelagius Places Free Will at the Basis of All Turning to God for Grace.
But perhaps he may meet us with this rejoinder, that in the sentence before us he spoke of our “meriting the divine grace by doing the will of God,” in the sense that grace is added to those who believe and lead godly lives, whereby they may boldly withstand the tempter; whereas their very first reception of grace was, that they might do the will of God. Lest, then, he make such a rejoinder, consider some other words of his on this subject: “The man,” says he, “who hastens to the Lord, and desires to be directed by Him, that is, who makes his own will depend upon Gods, who moreover cleaves so closely to the Lord as to become (as the apostle says) one spirit with Him, 1841 does all this by nothing else than by his freedom of will.” Observe how great a result he has here stated to be accomplished only by our freedom of will; and how, in fact, he supposes us to cleave to God without the help of God: for such is the force of his words, “by nothing else than by his own freedom of will.” So that, after we have cleaved to the Lord without His help, we even then, because of such adhesion of our own, deserve to be assisted. [XXIII.] For he goes on to say: “Whosoever makes a right use of this” (that is, rightly uses his freedom of will), “does so entirely surrender himself to God, and does so completely mortify his own will, that he is able to say with the apostle, Nevertheless it is already not I that live, but Christ liveth in me; 1842 and He placeth his heart in the hand of God, so that He turneth it whithersoever He willeth.” 1843 Great indeed is the help of the grace of God, so that He turns our heart in whatever direction He pleases. But according to this writers foolish opinion, however great the help may be, we deserve it all at the moment when, without any assistance beyond the liberty of our will, we hasten to the Lord, desire His guidance and direction, suspend our own will entirely on His, and by close adherence to Him become one spirit with Him. Now all these vast courses of goodness we (according to him) accomplish, forsooth, simply by the freedom of our own free will; and by reason of such antecedent merits we so secure His grace, that He turns our heart which way soever He pleases. Well, now, how is that grace which is not gratuitously conferred? How can it be grace, if it is given in payment of a debt? How can that be true which the apostle says, “It is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast;” 1844 and again, “If it is of grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace:” 1845 how, I repeat, can this be true, if such meritorious works precede as to procure for us the bestowal of grace? Surely, under the circumstances, there can be no gratuitous gift, but only the recompense of a due reward. Is it the case, then, that in order to find their way to the help of God, men run to God without Gods help? And in order that we may receive Gods help while cleaving to Him, do we without His help cleave to God? What greater gift, or even what similar gift, could grace itself bestow upon any man, if he has already without grace been able to make himself one spirit with the Lord by no other power than that of his own free will?
1 Cor. vi. 17.225:1842
Gal. ii. 20.225:1843
Prov. xxi. 1.225:1844
Eph. 2:8, 9.225:1845
Rom. xi. 6.
Next: Chapter 25
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