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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Predestination of the...: Chapter 33

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 33.—God Gives Both Initiatory and Persevering Grace According to His Own Will.

From all which it is shown with sufficient clearness that the grace of God, which both begins a man’s faith and which enables it to persevere unto the end, is not given according to our merits, but is given according to His own most secret and at the same time most righteous, wise, and beneficent will; since those whom He predestinated, them He also called, 3625 with that calling of which it is said, “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” 3626 To which calling there is no man that can be said by men with any certainty of affirmation to belong, until he has departed from this world; but in this life of man, which is a state of trial upon the earth, 3627 he who seems to stand must take heed lest he fall. 3628 Since (as I have already said before) 3629 those who will not persevere are, by the most foreseeing will of God, mingled with those who will persevere, for the reason that we may learn not to mind high things, but to consent to the lowly, and may “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” 3630 We therefore will, but God worketh in us to will also. We therefore work, but God worketh in us to work also for His good pleasure. This is profitable for us both to believe and to say,—this is pious, this is true, that our confession be lowly and submissive, and that all should be given to God. Thinking, we believe; thinking, we speak; thinking, we do whatever we do; 3631 but, in respect of what concerns the way of piety and the true worship of God, we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. 3632 For “our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power;” whence the same Ambrose who says this says also: “But who is so blessed as in his heart always to rise upwards? And how can this be done without divine help? Assuredly, by no means. Finally,” he says, “the same Scripture affirms above, ‘Blessed is the man whose help is of Thee; O Lord, 3633 ascent is in his heart.’” 3634 Assuredly, Ambrose was not only enabled to say this by reading in the holy writings, but as of such a man is to be without doubt believed, he felt it also in his own heart. Therefore, as is said in the sacraments of believers, that we should lift up our hearts to the Lord, is God’s gift; for which gift they to whom this is said are admonished by the priest after this word to give thanks to our Lord God Himself; and they answer that it is “meet and right so to do.”  3635 For, since our heart is not in our own power, but is lifted up by the divine help, so that it ascends and takes cognizance of those things which are above, 3636 where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, and, not those things that are upon the earth, to whom are thanks to be given for so great a gift as this unless to our Lord God who doeth this,—who in so great kindness has chosen us by delivering us from the abyss of this world, and has predestinated us before the foundation of the world?



Rom viii. 30.


Rom. xi. 29.


Job vii. 1.


1 Cor. x. 12.


Above, ch. xiv.


Phil. 2:12, 13.


2 Cor. iii. 5.


Ambrose, On Flight from the World, ch. 1.


Ps. lxxxiv. 5 [LXX.]


LXX.: “In his heart he has purposed to go up.”


[An allusion to the Sursum Corda in the “Preface” of the Communion service. For its history see Smith and Cheetham’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, p. 1693. Cyprian in his treatise on the Lord’s Prayer already mentions it. It still has a place in the liturgies of the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.—W.]


Col. iii. 1.

Next: Chapter 34

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