And in order that I may more openly unfold this for the sake of those who are somewhat slow of apprehension, let those who are endowed with an intelligence that flies in advance bear with my delay. The Apostle James says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” 3664 It is written also in the Proverbs of Solomon, “Because theLord giveth wisdom.” 3665 And of continency it is read in the book of Wisdom, whose authority has been used by great and learned men who have commented upon the divine utterances long before us; there, therefore, it is read, “When I knew that no one can be continent unless God gives it, and that this was of wisdom, to know whose gift this was.” 3666 Therefore these are Gods gifts,—that is, to say nothing of others, wisdom and continency. Let those also acquiesce: for they are not Pelagians, to contend against such a manifest truth as this with hard and heretical perversity. “But,” say they, “that these things are given to us of God is obtained by faith, which has its beginning from us;” and both to begin to have this faith, and to abide in it even to the end, they contend is our own doing, as if we received it not from the Lord. This, beyond a doubt, is in contradiction to the apostle when he says, “For what hast thou that thou hast not received?” 3667 It is in contradiction also to the saying of the martyr Cyprian, “That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own.” 3668 When we have said this, and many other things which it is wearisome to repeat, and have shown that both the commencement of faith and perseverance to the end are gifts of God; and that it is impossible that God should not foreknow any of His future gifts, as well what should be given as to whom they should be given; and that thus those whom He delivers and crowns are predestinated by Him; they think it well to reply, “that the assertion of predestination is opposed to the advantage of preaching, for the reason that when this is heard no one can be stirred up by the incentives of rebuke.” When they say this, “they are unwilling that it should be declared to men, that coming to the faith and abiding in the faith are Gods gifts, lest despair rather than encouragement should appear to be suggested, inasmuch as they who hear think that it is uncertain to human ignorance on whom God bestows, or on whom He does not bestow, these gifts.” Why, then, do they themselves also preach with us that wisdom and continency are Gods gifts? But if, when these things are declared to be Gods gifts, there is no hindrance of the exhortation with which we exhort men to be wise and continent; what is after all the reason for their thinking that the exhortation is hindered wherewith we exhort men to come to the faith, and to abide in it to the end, if these also are said to be Gods gifts, as is proved by the Scriptures, which are His witnesses?
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