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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on Grace and Free Will.: Chapter 45

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 45 [XXIII]—The Reason Why One Person is Assisted by Grace, and Another is Not Helped, Must Be Referred to the Secret Judgments of God.

You must refer the matter, then, to the hidden determinations of God, when you see, in one and the same condition, such as all infants unquestionably have,—who derive their hereditary evil from Adam,—that one is assisted so as to be baptized, and another is not assisted, so that he dies in his very bondage; and again, that one baptized person is left and forsaken in his present life, who God foreknew would be ungodly, while another baptized person is taken away from this life, “lest that wickedness should alter his understanding;” 3221 and be sure that you do not in such cases ascribe unrighteousness or unwisdom to God, in whom is the very fountain of righteousness and wisdom, but, as I have exhorted you from the commencement of this treatise, “whereto you have already attained, walk therein,” 3222 and “even this shall God reveal unto you,” 3223 —if not in this life, yet certainly in the next, “for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.” 3224 When, therefore, you hear the Lord say, “I the Lord have deceived that prophet,” 3225 and likewise what the apostle says: “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth,” 3226 believe that, in the case of him whom He permits to be deceived and hardened, his evil deeds have deserved the judgment; whilst in the case of him to whom He shows mercy, you should loyally and unhesitatingly recognise the grace of the God who “rendereth not evil for evil; but contrariwise blessing.” 3227 Nor should you take away from Pharaoh free will, because in several passages God says, “I have hardened Pharaoh;” or,” I have hardened or I will harden Pharaoh’s heart;” 3228 for it does not by any means follow that Pharaoh did not, on this account, harden his own heart. For this, too, is said of him, after the removal of the fly-plague from the Egyptians, in these words of the Scripture: “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.” 3229 Thus it was that both God hardened him by His just judgment, and Pharaoh by his own free will. Be ye then well assured that your labour will never be in vain, if, setting before you a good purpose, you persevere in it to the last. For God, who fails to render, according to their deeds, only to those whom He liberates, will then “recompense every man according to his works.” 3230 God will, therefore, certainly recompense both evil for evil, because He is just; and good for evil, because He is good; and good for good, because He is good and just; only, evil for good He will never recompense, because He is not unjust. He will, therefore, recompense evil for evil—punishment for unrighteousness; and He will recompense good for evil—grace for unrighteousness; and He will recompense good for good—grace for grace.



Wisdom 4.11.


Phil iii. 16.


Phil. iii. 15.


Matt. x. 26.


Ezek. xiv. 9.


Rom. ix. 18.


1 Pet. iii. 9.


See Exod. 4:21, Exod. 7:3, Exod. 14:4.


Ex. viii. 32.


Matt. xvi. 27.

Next: Chapter 46

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