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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter XVII. Various passages which clearly show that we cannot do anything which belongs to our salvation without the aid of God.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVII.

Various passages which clearly show that we cannot do anything which belongs to our salvation without the aid of God.

Lastly, the Author of our salvation teaches us what we ought not merely to think, but also to acknowledge in everything that we do. “I can,” He says, “of mine own self do nothing, but the Father which abideth in me, He doeth the works.” 1057 He says, speaking in the human nature which He had taken, 1058 that He could do nothing of Himself; and shall we, who are dust and ashes, think that we have no need of God’s help in what pertains to our salvation? And so let us learn in everything, as we feel our own weakness, and at the same time His help, to declare with the saints, “I was overturned that I might fall, but the Lord supported me. The Lord is my strength and my praise: and He is become my salvation.” 1059 And “Unless the Lord had helped me, my p. 285 soul had almost dwelt in hell. If I said, My foot is moved: Thy mercy, O Lord, assisted me. According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul.” 1060 Seeing also that our heart is strengthened in the fear of the Lord, and in patience, let us say: “And the Lord became my protector; and He brought me forth into a large place.” 1061 And knowing that knowledge is increased by progress in work, let us say: “For thou lightest my lamp, O Lord: O my God, enlighten my darkness, for by Thee I shall be delivered from temptation, and through my God I shall go over a wall.” Then, feeling that we have ourselves sought for courage and endurance, and are being directed with greater ease and without labour in the path of the virtues, let us say, “It is God who girded me with strength, and made my way perfect; who made my feet like hart’s feet, and setteth me up on high: who teacheth my hands to war.” And having also secured discretion, strengthened with which we can dash down our enemies, let us cry aloud to God: “Thy discipline hath set me up 1062 unto the end, and Thy discipline the same shall teach me. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, and my feet are not weakened.” And because I am thus strengthened with Thy knowledge and power, I will boldly take up the words which follow, and will say, “I will pursue after my enemies and overtake them: and I will not turn again till they are consumed. I will break them, and they shall not be able to stand: they shall fall under my feet.” 1063 Again, mindful of our own infirmity, and of the fact that while still burdened with the weak flesh we cannot without His assistance overcome such bitter foes as our sins are, let us say, “Through Thee we will scatter our enemies: 1064 and through Thy name we will despise them that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow: neither shall my sword save me. For Thou hast saved us from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us.” 1065 But further: “Thou hast guided me with strength unto the battle, and hast subdued under me them that rose up against me. And Thou hast made mine enemies turn their backs upon me, and hast destroyed them that hated me.” 1066 And reflecting that with our own arms alone we cannot conquer, let us say, “Take hold of arms and shield: and rise up to help me. Bring out the sword and stop the way against them that persecute me: say to my soul, I am thy salvation.” 1067 And Thou hast made my arms like a brazen bow. And Thou hast given me the protection of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath held me up.” 1068 “For our fathers got not the possession of the land through their own sword; neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand and Thine arm and the light of Thy countenance because Thou wast pleased with them.” 1069 Lastly, as with anxious mind we regard all His benefits with thankfulness, let us cry to Him with the inmost feelings of our heart, for all these things, because we have fought, and have obtained from Him the light of knowledge, and self-control and discretion, and because He has furnished us with His own arms, and strengthened us with a girdle of virtue, and because He has made our enemies turn their backs upon us, and has given us the power of scattering them like the dust before the wind: “I will love Thee, O Lord my Strength; the Lord is my stronghold, my refuge and my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in Him will I put my trust. My protector and the horn of my salvation, and my support. Praising I will call upon the name of the Lord; and I shall be saved from mine enemies.” 1070



S. John 14:10, John 5:30.


Ex persona hominis assumpti. See the note on Against Nestorius, I. v.


Ps. 118:13, 14.


Psa. 94.17-19.


Psa. 18.20 sq.


Erexit (Petschenig). Gazæus reads correxit, with the Vulgate.


Psa. 18.33 sq.


Gazæus adds cornu after the Vulgate.


Psa. 44.6-8.


Ps. 18:40, 41.


Psa. 35.2-4.


Psa. 18.35.


Ps. 44:4, 5.


Psa. 18.2-4.

Next: Chapter XVIII. How we are protected by the grace of God not only in our natural condition, but also by His daily Providence.

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