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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on Grace and Free Will.: Chapter 25

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 25 [XIII.]—As The Law is Not, So Neither is Our Nature Itself that Grace by Which We are Christians.

Now who can be so insensible to the words of the apostle, who so foolishly, nay, so insanely ignorant of the purport of his statement, as to venture to affirm that the law is grace, when he who knew very well what he was saying emphatically declares, “Ye who are justified by the law are fallen from grace”? Well, but if the law is not grace, seeing that in order that the law itself may be kept, it is not the law, but only grace which can give help, will not nature at any rate be grace? For this, too, the Pelagians have been bold enough to aver, that grace is the nature in which we were created, so as to possess a rational mind, by which we are enabled to understand,—formed as we are in the image of God, so as to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth. This, however, is not the grace which the apostle commends to us through the faith of Jesus Christ. For it is certain that we possess this nature in common with ungodly men and unbelievers; whereas the grace which comes through the faith of Jesus Christ belongs only to them to whom the faith itself appertains. “For all men have not faith.” 3089 Now, as the apostle, with perfect truth, says to those who by wishing to be justified by the law have fallen from grace, “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain;” 3090 so likewise, to those who think that the grace which he commends and faith in Christ receives, is nature, the same language is with the same degree of truth applicable: if righteousness come from nature, then Christ is dead in vain. But the law was in existence up to that time, and it did not justify; and nature existed too, but it did not justify. It was not, then, in vain that Christ died, in order that the law might be fulfilled through Him who said, “I am come not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it;” 3091 and that our nature, which was lost through Adam, might through Him be recovered, who said that “He was come to seek and to save that which was lost;” 3092 in whose coming the old fathers likewise who loved God believed.



2 Thess. iii. 2.


Gal. ii. 21.


Matt. v. 17.


Matt. 18:11, Luke 19:10.

Next: Chapter 26