Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter V. From the gifts of Divine grace which we receive through Christ he infers that He is truly God.
From the gifts of Divine grace which we receive through Christ he infers that He is truly God.
Although we began to speak some time back on this Divine grace of our Lord and Saviour, I want to say somewhat more on the same subject from the Holy Scriptures. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostle James 2409 thus refuted those who thought that when they received the gospel they ought still to bear the yoke of the old Law: “Why,” said he, “do ye tempt God, to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear. But by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we believe to be saved in like manner as they also.” 2410 The Apostle certainly speaks of the gift of this grace as given by Jesus Christ. Answer me now, if you please: do you think that this grace which is given for the salvation of all men, is given by man or by God? If you say, By man, Paul, Gods own vessel, will cry out against you, saying: “There appeared the grace of God our Saviour.” 2411 He teaches that this grace is the result of a Divine gift, and not of human weakness. And even if the sacred testimony was not sufficient, the truth of the matter itself would bear its witness, because fragile earthly things cannot possibly furnish a thing of lasting and immortal value; nor can anyone give to another that in which he himself is lacking, nor supply a sufficiency of that, from the want of which he admits that he himself is suffering. You cannot then help admitting that the grace comes from God. It is God then who has given it. But it has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is God. But if He be, as He certainly is, God: then she who bore God is Theotocos, i.e., the mother of God. Unless perhaps you want to take refuge in so utterly absurd and blasphemous a contradiction as to deny that she from whom God was born is the mother of God, while you cannot deny that He who was born is God. But, however, let us see what the gospel of God thinks about this same grace of our Lord: “Grace and truth,” it says, “came by Jesus Christ.” 2412 If p. 561 Christ is a mere man, how did these come by Christ? Whence was there in Him Divine power if, as you say, there was in Him only the nature of man? Whence comes heavenly largesse, if His is earthly poverty? For no one can give what he has not already. As then Christ gave Divine grace, He already had that which He gave. Nor can anyone endure a diversity of things that are so utterly different from each other, as at one and the same time to suffer the wants of a poor man, and also to show the munificence of a bounteous one. And so the Apostle Paul, knowing that all the treasures of heavenly riches are found in Christ, rightly writes to the Churches: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 2413 For though he had already often enough taught that God is the same as Christ, and that all the glory of Deity resides in Him, and that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him bodily, yet here he is certainly right in praying for the grace of Christ alone, without adding the word God: for while he had often taught that the grace of God is the same as the grace of Christ, he now most perfectly prays only for the grace of Christ, for he knows that in the grace of Christ is contained the whole grace of God. Therefore he says: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” If Jesus Christ was a mere man, then in his wish that the grace of Christ might be given to the Churches he was wishing that the grace of a man might be given; and by saying: “The grace of Christ be with you” he meant: the grace of a man be with you, the grace of flesh be with you, the grace of bodily weakness, the grace of human frailty! Or why did he ever even mention the word grace, if his wish was for the grace of a man? For there was no reason for wishing, if that was not in existence which was wished for; nor ought he to have prayed that there might be bestowed on them the grace of one who, according to you, did not possess the reality of that grace for which he was wishing. And so you see that it is utterly absurd and ridiculous—or rather not a thing to laugh at but to cry over, for what is a matter for laughter to some frivolous persons becomes a matter for crying to pious and faithful souls, for they shed tears of charity for the folly of your unbelief, and weep pious tears at the folly of anothers impiety. Let us then recover ourselves for a while and take our breath, for this idea is not only without wisdom but also without the Spirit, as it is certainly wanting in spiritual wisdom and has nothing to do with the Spirit of salvation.
Jacobum. So Petschenig, after his authority. It is however an error on Cassians part, as the words quoted were spoken not by S. James but by S. Peter. (The text of Gazæus reads apparently with no authority Petrum.)560:2410
Acts 15:10, 11.560:2411
Titus ii. 11.560:2412
S. John i. 17.561:2413
1 Cor. xvi. 23.
Next: Chapter VI. That the power of bestowing Divine grace did not come to Christ in the course of time, but was innate in Him from His very birth.
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