Although, therefore, we say that obedience is the gift of God, we still exhort men to it. But to those who obediently hear the exhortation of truth is given the gift of God itself—that is, to hear obediently; while to those who do not thus hear it is not given. For it was not some one only, but Christ who said, “No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father;” 3651 and, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” 3652 And concerning continence He says, “Not all receive this saying, but they to whom it is given.” 3653 And when the apostle would exhort married people to conjugal chastity, he says, “I would that all men were even as I myself; but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, another after that;” 3654 where he plainly shows not only that continence is a gift of God, but even the chastity of those who are married. And although these things are true, we still exhort to them as much as is given to any one of us to be able to exhort, because this also is His gift in whose hand are both ourselves and our discourses. Whence also says the apostle, “According to this grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation.” 3655 And in another place he says, “Even as the Lord hath given to every man: I have planted, Apollos has watered, but God has given the increase. Therefore neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” 3656 And thus as only he preaches and exhorts rightly who has received this gift, so assuredly he who obediently hears him who rightly exhorts and preaches is he who has received this gift. Hence is what the Lord said, when, speaking to those who had their fleshly ears open, He nevertheless told them, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear;” 3657 which beyond a doubt he knew that not all had. And from whom they have, whosoever they be that have them, the Lord Himself shows when He says, “I will give them a heart to know me, and ears to hear.” 3658 Therefore, having ears is itself the gift of obeying, so that they who had that came to Him, to whom “no one comes unless it were given to him of His Father.” Therefore we exhort and preach, but they who have ears to hear obediently hear us, while in them who have them not, it comes to pass what is written, that hearing they do not hear,—hearing, to wit, with the bodily sense, they do not hear with the assent of the heart. But why these should have ears to hear, and those have them not,—that is, why to these it should be given by the Father to come to the Son, while to those it should not be given,—who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? Or who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Must that which is manifest be denied, because that which is hidden cannot be comprehended? Shall we, I say, declare that what we see to be so is not so, because we cannot find out why it is so?
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