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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Predestination of the...: Chapter 49

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 49.—Further References to Cyprian and Ambrose.

Wherefore, the above-mentioned most excellent commentators on the divine declarations both preached the true grace of God as it ought to be preached,—that is, as a grace preceded by no human deservings,—and urgently exhorted to the doing of the divine commandments, that they who might have the gift of obedience should hear what commands they ought to obey. For if any merits of ours precede grace, certainly it is the merit of some deed, or word, or thought, wherein also is understood a good will itself. But he very briefly summed up the kinds of all deservings who said, “We must glory in nothing, because nothing is our own.” And he who says, “Our heart and our p. 546 thoughts are not in our own power,” did not pass over acts and words also, for there is no act or word of man which does not proceed from the heart and the thought. But what more could that most glorious martyr and most luminous doctor Cyprian say concerning this matter, than when he impressed upon us that it behoves us to pray, in the Lord’s Prayer, even for the adversaries of the Christian faith, showing what he thought of the beginning of the faith, that it also is God’s gift, and pointing out that the Church of Christ prays daily for perseverance unto the end, because none but God gives that perseverance to those who have persevered? Moreover, the blessed Ambrose, when he was expounding the passage where the Evangelist Luke says, “It seemed good to me also,”  3683 says, “What he declares to have seemed good to himself cannot have seemed good to him alone. For not alone by human will did it seem good, but as it pleased Him who speaks in me, Christ, who effects that that which is good may also seem good to us: for whom He has mercy on He also calls. And therefore he who follows Christ may answer, when he is asked why he wished to become a Christian, ‘It seemed good to me also.’ And when he says this, he does not deny that it seemed good to God; for the will of men is prepared by God. For it is God’s grace that God should be honoured by the saint.” 3684 Moreover, in the same work,—that is, in the exposition of the same Gospel, when he had come to that place where the Samaritans would not receive the Lord when His face was as going to Jerusalem,—he says, “Learn at the same time that He would not be received by those who were not converted in simpleness of mind. For if He had been willing, He would have made them devout who were undevout. And why they would not receive Him, the evangelist himself mentioned, saying, ‘Because His face was as of one going towards Jerusalem.’ 3685 But the disciples earnestly desired to be received into Samaria. But God calls those whom He makes worthy, and makes religious whom He will.” 3686 What more evident, what more manifest do we ask from commentators on God’s word, if we are pleased to hear from them what is clear in the Scriptures? But to these two, who ought to be enough, let us add also a third, the holy Gregory, who testifies that it is the gift of God both to believe in God and to confess what we believe, saying, “I beg of you confess the Trinity of one godhead; but if ye wish otherwise, say that it is of one nature, and God will be besought that a voice shall be given to you by the Holy Spirit;” that is, God will be besought to allow a voice to be given to you by which you may confess what you believe. “For He will give, I am certain. He who gave what is first, will give also what is second.” 3687 He who gave belief, will also give confession.



Luke i. 3.


Ambrose On Luke, in the exposition of the prologue.


Luke ix. 53.


Ambrose, On Luke, Book 7, ch. 27.


Greg. of Nazianz. Orat. 44 in Pentecosten.

Next: Chapter 50

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