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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Predestination of the...: Chapter 19

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 19 [X]—In What Respects Predestination and Grace Differ.

Moreover, that which I said, “That the salvation of this religion has never been lacking to him who was worthy of it, and that he to whom it was lacking was not worthy,”—if it be discussed and it be asked whence any man can be worthy, there are not wanting those who say—by human will. But we say, by divine grace or predestination. Further, between grace and predestination there is only this difference, that predestination is the preparation for grace, while grace is the donation itself. When, therefore the apostle says, “Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works,” 3484 it is grace; but what follows—“which God hath prepared that we should walk in them”—is predestination, which cannot exist without foreknowledge, although foreknowledge may exist without predestination; because God foreknew by predestination those things which He was about to do, whence it was said, “He made those things that shall be.” 3485 Moreover, He is able to foreknow even those things which He does not Himself do,—as all sins whatever. Because, although there are some which are in such wise sins as that they are also the penalties of sins, whence it is said, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,” 3486 it is not in such a case the sin that is God’s, but the judgment. Therefore God’s predestination of good is, as I have said, the preparation of grace; which grace is the effect of that predestination. Therefore when God promised to Abraham in his seed the faith of the nations, p. 508 saying, “I have established thee a father of many nations,” 3487 whence the apostle says, “Therefore it is of faith, that the promise, according to grace, might be established to all the seed,” 3488 He promised not from the power of our will but from His own predestination. For He promised what He Himself would do, not what men would do. Because, although men do those good things which pertain to God’s worship, He Himself makes them to do what He has commanded; it is not they that cause Him to do what He has promised. Otherwise the fulfilment of God’s promises would not be in the power of God, but in that of men; and thus what was promised by God to Abraham would be given to Abraham by men themselves. Abraham, however, did not believe thus, but “he believed, giving glory to God, that what He promised He is able also to do.” 3489 He does not say, “to foretell”—he does not say, “to foreknow;” for He can foretell and foreknow the doings of strangers also; but he says, “He is able also to do;” and thus he is speaking not of the doings of others, but of His own.



Eph. 2:9, 10.


Isa. xlv. 11.


Rom. i. 28.


Gen. xvii. 5.


Rom. iv. 16.


Rom. iv. 21.

Next: Chapter 20