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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5.—Free Choice Did Not Perish With Adam ’s Sin. What Freedom Did Perish.

But in defending free will they hasten to confide rather in it for doing righteousness than in God’s aid, and to glory every one in himself, and not in the Lord. 2528 But who of us will say that by the sin of the first man free will perished from the human race? Through sin freedom indeed perished, but it was that freedom which was in Paradise, to have a full righteousness with immortality; and it is on this account that human nature needs divine grace, since the Lord says, “If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed” 2529 —free of course to live well and righteously. For free will in the sinner up to this extent did not perish,—that by it all sin, especially they who sin with delight and with love of sin; what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure. Whence also the apostle says, “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” 2530 Behold, they are shown to have been by no means able to serve sin except by another freedom. They are not, then, free from righteousness except by the choice of the will, but they do not become free from sin save by the grace of the Saviour. For which reason the admirable Teacher also distinguished these very words: “For when ye were the servants,” says he, “of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye, then, in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being freed from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end eternal life.” 2531 He called them “free” from righteousness, not “freed;” but from sin not “free,” lest they should attribute this to themselves, but most watchfully he preferred to say “freed,” referring this to that declaration of the Lord, “If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed.” 2532 Since, then, the sons of men do not live well unless they are made the sons of God, why is it that this writer wishes to give the power of good living to free will, when this power is not given save by God’s grace through Jesus Christ our Lord, as the gospel says: “And as many as rep. 379 ceived Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God”? 2533



1 Cor. i. 31.


John viii. 36.


Rom. vi. 20.


Rom. vi. 20.


John viii. 36 ff.


John i. 12.

Next: Chapter 6

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