Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.: Chapter 45
Chapter 45.—Scriptural Instances Wherein It is Proved that God Has Mens Wills More in His Power Than They Themselves Have.
It is not, then, to be doubted that mens wills cannot, so as to prevent His doing what he wills, withstand the will of God, “who hath done all things whatsoever He pleased in heaven and in earth,” 3393 and who also “has done those things that are to come;” 3394 since He does even concerning the wills themselves of men what He will, when He will. Unless, perchance (to mention some things among many), when God willed to give the kingdom to Saul, it was so in the power of the Israelites, as it certainly was placed in their will, either to subject themselves or not to the man in question, that they could even prevail to withstand God. God, however, did not do this, save by the will of the men themselves, because he beyond doubt had the most omnipotent power of inclining mens hearts whither it pleased Him. For thus it is written: “And Samuel sent the people away, and every one went away unto his own place. And Saul went away to his house in Gibeah: and there went away p. 490 with Saul mighty men, whose hearts the Lord touched. And pestilent children said, Who shall save us? This man? And they despised him, and brought him no presents.” 3395 Will any one say that any of those whose hearts the Lord touched to go with Saul would not have gone with him, or that any of those pestilent fellows, whose hearts He did not touch to do this, would have gone? Of David also, whom the Lord ordained to the kingdom in a more prosperous succession, we read thus: “And David continued to increase, and was magnified, and the Lord was with him.” 3396 This having been premised, it is said a little afterwards, “And the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said, We are thine, O David, and we will be with thee, O son of Jesse: Peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thy helpers; because the Lord has helped thee.” 3397 Could he withstand the will of God, and not rather do the will of Him who wrought in his heart by His Spirit, with which he was clothed, to will, speak, and do thus? Moreover, a little afterwards the same Scripture says, “All these warlike men, setting the battle in array, came with a peaceful heart to Hebron to establish David over all Israel.” 3398 By their own will, certainly, they appointed David king. Who cannot see this? Who can deny it? For they did not do it under constraint or without good-will, since they did it with a peaceful heart. And yet He wrought this in them who worketh what He will in the hearts of men. For which reason the Scripture premised, “And David continued to increase, and was magnified, and the Lord Omnipotent was with him.” And thus the Lord Omnipotent, who was with him, induced these men to appoint him king. And how did He induce them? Did He constrain thereto by any bodily fetters? He wrought within; He held their hearts; He stirred their hearts, and drew them by their own wills, which He Himself wrought in them. If, then, when God wills to set up kings in the earth, He has the wills of men more in His power than they themselves have, who else causes rebuke to be wholesome and correction to result in the heart of him that is rebuked, that he may be established in the kingdom of heaven?
Ps. cxxxv. 6.489:3394
Isa. xlv. 11.490:3395
1 Sam. x. 25 ff.490:3396
1 Chron. xi. 9.490:3397
1 Chron. xii. 18.490:3398
1 Chron. xii. 38.
Next: Chapter 46
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