A Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints
Philip Schaff (1887)
Chapter 1 [1.] Introduction.
We know that in the Epistle to the Philippians the apostle said, “To write the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous but for you it is safe;” yet the same apostle writing to the Galatians when he saw that he had done enough among them of what he regarded as being needful for them, by the ministry of his preaching, said, “For the rest let no man cause me labour.” Or as it is read in many codices, “Let no one be troublesome to me.” But although I confess that it causes me trouble that the divine word in which the grace of God is preached (which is absolutely no grace if it is given according to our merits), great and manifest as it is, is not yielded to, nevertheless my dearest sons, Prosper and Hilary, your zeal and brotherly affection which makes you so reluctant to see any of the brethren in error, as to wish that, after so many books and letters of mine on this subject, I more than I can tell, although I do not dear to say that I love it as much as I ought. Wherefore, behold, I write to you again. And although not with you, yet through you I am still doing what I thought I had done sufficiently.
Chapter 2.-What Extent the Massilians Withdraw from the Pelagians.
For on consideration of your letters, I seem to see that those brethren on whose behalf you exhibit a pious care that they may not hold the poetical opinion in which it is affirmed, “Everyone is a hope for himself,” and so fall under that condemnation which is, not poetically, but prophetically, declared, “Cursed is every man that hath hope in man,” must be treated in that way wherein the apostle dealt with those to whom he said, “And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” For as yet they are in darkness on the question concerning the predestination of the saints, but they have that whence, “if in anything they are otherwise minded, God will reveal this unto them,” if they are walking in that to which they have attained. For which reason the apostle, when he had said, “if ye are in anything otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you, says, “Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, let us walk in the same.” And those brethren of ours, on whose behalf your pious love is solicitous, have attained with Christ’s Church to the belief that the human race is born obnoxious to the sin of the first man, and that none can be delivered from that evil save by the righteousness of the Second Man. Moreover, they have attained to the confession that man’s wills are anticipated by God’s grace; and to the agreement that no one can suffice to himself either for beginning or for completing any good work. These things, therefore, unto which they have attained, being held fast, abundantly distinguish them from the error of the Pelagians. Further, if they walk in them, and beseech Him who giveth understanding, if in anything concerning predestination they are otherwise minded, He will reveal even this unto them. Yet let us also spend upon them the influence of our love, and the ministry of our discourse, according to His gift, whom we have asked that in these letters we might say what should be suitable and profitable to them. For whence do we know whether by this our service, wherein we are serving them in the free love of Christ, our God may not perchance will to effect that purpose?
Chapter 3 [II.]-Even the Beginning of Faith is of God’s Gift.
Therefore I ought first to show that the faith by which we are Christians is the gift of God, if I can do that more thoroughly than I have already done in so many and so large volumes. But I must now reply to those who say that the divine testimonies which I have adduced concerning this matter are of avail for this purpose, to assure us that we have faith itself of ourselves, but that its increase is of God; as if faith were not given to us by Him, but were only increased in us by Him, on the ground of the merit of its having begun from us. Thus there is here no departure from that opinion which Pelagius himself was constrained to condemn in the judgment of the bishops of Palestine, as is testified in the same Proceedings, “That the grace of God is given according to our merits,” If it is not of God’s grace that we begin to believe, but rather that on account of this beginning an addition is made to us of a more full and perfect belief; and so we first give the beginning of our faith to God, that His supplement may also be given to us again, and whatever else we faithfully ask.
Chapter 4.-Continuation of the Preceding.
But why do we not in opposition to this, rather hear the words, “Who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed to him again? Since of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things.” And from whom, then, is that very beginning of our faith if not from Him? For this is not excepted when other things are spoken of as of Him; but “of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things.” But who can say that he who has already begun to believe deserves nothing from Him in whom he has believed? Whence it results that, to him who already deserves, other things are said to be added by a divine retribution, and thus that God’s grace is given according to our merits. And this assertion when put before him, Pelagius himself condemned, that he might not be condemned. Whoever, then, wishes on every side to avoid this condemnable opinion, let him understand that what the apostle says is said with entire truthfulness, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” He shows that both are the gifts of God, because he said that both were given. And he does not say, “to believe on Him more fully and perfectly,” but, “to believe on Him.” Neither does he say that he himself had obtained mercy to be more faithful, but, “to be faithful,” because he knew that he had not first given the beginning of his faith to God, and had its increase given back to him again by Him; but that he had been made faithful by God, who also had made him an apostle. For the beginnings of his faith are recorded, and they are very well known by being read in the church on an occasion calculated to distinguish them: how, being turned away from the faith which he was destroying, and being vehemently opposed to it, he was suddenly by a more powerful grace converted to it, by the conversion of Him, to whom as One who would do this very thing it was said by the prophet, “Thou wilt turn and quicken us;” so that not only from one who refused to believe he was made a willing believer, but, moreover, from being a persecutor, he suffered persecution in defence of that faith which he persecuted. Because it was given him by Christ “Not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Chapter 5.-To Believe is to Think with Assent.
And, therefore, commending that grace which is not given according to any merits, but is the cause of all good merits, he says, “Not that we are sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” Let them give attention to this, and well weigh these words, who think that the beginning of faith is of ourselves, and the supplement of faith is of God. For who cannot see that thinking is prior to believing? For no one believes anything unless he has first thought that it is to be believed. For whoever suddenly, however rapidly, some thoughts fly before the will to believe, and this presently follows in such wise as to attend them, as it were, in closest conjunction, it is yet necessary that everything which is believed should be believed after thought has preceded; although even belief itself is nothing else than to think with assent. For it is not every one who thinks that believes, since many think in order that they may not believe; but everybody who believes, thinks, both thinks in believing and believes in thinking. Therefore in what pertains to religion and piety (of which the apostle was speaking), if we are not capable of thinking anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, we are certainly not capable of believing anything as of ourselves, since we cannot do this without thinking; but our sufficiency, by which we begin to believe, is of God. Wherefore, as no one is sufficient for himself, for the beginning or the completion of any good work whatever,-and this those brethren of yours, as what you have written intimates, already agree to be true, whence, as well in the beginning as in the carrying out of every good work, our sufficient is of God,-so no one is sufficient for himself, either to begin or to perfect faith; but our sufficiency is of God. Because if faith is not a matter of thought, it is of no account; and we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.
Chapter 6.-Presumption and Arrogance to Be Avoided.
Care must be taken, brethren, beloved of God, that a man do not lift himself up in opposition to God, when he says that he does what God has promised. Was not the faith of the nations promised to Abraham, “and he, giving glory to God, most fully believed that what He promised He is able also to perform”? He therefore makes the faith of the nations, who is able to do what He has promised. Further, if God works our faith, acting in a wonderful manner in our hearts so that we believe, is there any reason to fear that He cannot do the whole; and does man on that account arrogate to himself its first elements, that he may merit to receive its last from God? Consider if in such a way any other result be gained than that the grace of God is given in some way or other, according to our merit, and so grace is no more grace. For on this principle it is rendered as debt, it is not given gratuitously; for it is due to the believer that his faith itself should be increased by the Lord, and that the increased faith should be the wages of the faith begun; nor is fit observed when this is said, that this wage is assigned to believers, not of grace, but of debt. And I do not at all see why the whole should not be attributed to man,-as he who could originate for himself what he had no previously, can himself increase what he had originate-except that it is impossible to withstand the most manifest divine testimony by which faith, whence piety takes its beginning, is shown also to be a gift of God: such as is that testimony that “God hath death to every man the measure of faith;” and that one, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and other similar passages. Man, therefore, unwilling to resist such clear testimonies as these, and yet desiring himself to have the merit of believing, compounds as it were with God to claim a portion of faith for himself, and gives the subsequent to Him; and so in that which he says belongs to both, he makes himself the first, and God the second!
Chapter 7 [III.] Augustin that He Had Formerly Been in Error Concerning the Grace of God.
It was not thus that that pious and humble teacher thought-I speak of the most blessed Cyprian-when he said “that we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own.” And in order to show this, he appealed to the apostle as a witness, where he said, “For what hast thou that thou hast not received it, why boastest thou as if thou hast not received it?” And it was chiefly by this testimony that I myself also was convinced when I was in a similar error, thinking that faith whereby we believe on God is not God’s gift, but that it is in us from ourselves, and that by it we obtain the gifts of God, whereby we may live temperately and righteously and piously in this world. For I did not think that faith was preceded by God’s grace, so that by its means would be given to us what we might profitably ask, except that we could not believe if the proclamation of the truth did not consent when the gospel was preached to us I thought was our own doing, and came to us from ourselves. And this error is sufficiently indicated in some small works of mine written before my episcopate. Among these is that which you have mentioned in your letters-wherein is an exposition of certain propositions from the Epistle to the Romans. Eventually, when I was retracting all my small works, and was committing that retractation to writing, of which task I had already completed two books before I had taken up your more lengthy letters,-when in the first volume I had reached the retractation of this book, I then spoke thus: “Also discussing, I say, ‘what God could have chosen in him who was as yet unborn, whom He said that the elder should serve; and what in the same elder, equally as yet unborn, He could have rejected; concerning whom, on this account, although declared long subsequently, “Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated,” I carried out my reasoning to the point of saying: “God did not therefore choose the works of any one in foreknowledge of what He Himself would give them, but he chose the faith, in the knowledge that He would choose that very person whom He foreknew would believe on Him,-to whom He would give the Holy Spirit, so that by doing good works he might obtain eternal life also.’ I had not yet very carefully sought, nor had I as yet found, what is the nature of the election of grace, of which the apostle says, ‘A remnant are saved according to the election of grace.’ Which assuredly is not grace if any merits precede it; lest what is now given, not according to grace, but according to debt, be rather paid to merits than freely given. And what I next subjoined: ‘For the same apostle says, “The same God which worketh all in all;” but it was never said, God believeth all in all;’ and then added, ‘Therefore what we believe is our own, who giveth the Holy Spirit to them that believe:’ I certainly could not have said, has I already known that faith itself also is found among those gifts of God which are given by the same Spirit. Both, therefore, are ours on account of the choice of the will, and yet both are given by the spirit of faith and love. For faith is not alone but as it is written, ‘Love with faith, form God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.’ And what I said a little after,’ For it is ours to believe and to will, but it is His to give to those who believe and will, the power of doing good works through the Holy Spirit, by whom love is shed abroad in our hearts,’-is true indeed; but by the same rule both are also God’s, because God prepares the will; and both are ours too, because they are only brought about with our good wills. And thus what I subsequently said also: ‘Because we are not able to will unless we are called; and then, after our calling, we would will, our willing is not sufficiently nor our running, unless God gives strength to us that run, and leads us whither He calls us;’ and thereupon added: ‘It is plain, therefore, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, that we do good works’-this is absolutely most true. But I discovered little concerning the calling itself, which is according to God’s purpose; for not such is the calling of all that are called, but only of the elect. Therefore what I said a little afterwards: ‘For as in those whom God elects it is not works but faith that begins the merit so as to do good works by the gift of God, so in those whom He condemns, unbelieve and impiety begin the merit of punishment, so that even by way of punishment itself they do evil works’-I spoke most truly. But that even the merit itself of faith was God’s gift, I neither thought of inquiring into, nor did I say. And in another place I say: ‘For whom He hath mercy upon, He makes to do good works, and whom He hardeneth He leaves to do evil works; but that mercy is bestowed upon the preceding merit of faith, and that hardening is applied to preceding iniquity.’ And this indeed is true; but it should further have been asked, whether even the merit of faith does not come from God’s mercy,- that is, whether that mercy is manifested in man only because he is a believer, or whether it is also manifested that he may be a believer? For we read in the apostle’s words: “O obtained mercy to be a believer.’ He does not say, ‘Because I was a believer.’ Therefore although it is given to the believer, yet it has been given also that he may be a believer. Therefore also, in another place in the same book I most truly said: ‘Because, if it of God’s mercy, and not of works, that we are even called that we may believe and it is granted to us who believe to do good works, that mercy must not be grudged to the heathen;’-although I there discoursed less carefully about that calling which is given according to God’s purpose.”
Chapter 8 [IV.]-What Augustin Wrote to Simplicianus, the Successor of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.
You see plainly what was at that time my opinion concerning faith and works, although I was laboring in commending God’s grace; and in this opinion I see that those brethren of ours now are, because they have not been as careful to make progress with me in my writings a they were in reading them. For if they had been so careful, they would have found that question solved in accordance with the truth of the divine Scriptures in the first book of which I wrote in the very beginning of my episcopate to St. Ambrose. Unless, perchance, they may not have known these books; in which case, take care that they do know them, I first spoke in the second book of the Retractations; and what I say, on which, as a bishop, I have labored, the first two are addressed to Simplicianus, president of the Church of Milan, who succeeded the most blessed Ambrose, concerning divers questions, two of which I gathered into the first book from the Romans. The former of them is about what is written: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin?” By no means;’ as far as the passages where he says, ‘Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ And therein I have expounded those words of the apostle: “The law is spiritual; but I am carnal,’ and others in which the flesh is declared to be in conflict against the Spirit in such a way as if a man were there described as still under the law, and not yet established under grace. For, long afterwards, I perceived that those words might even be (and probably were) the utterance of a spiritual man. The gathered from that passage where the apostle says, ‘And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one act of intercourse, even by our father Isaac,’ as far as that place where he says, ‘Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we should be as Sodoma, and should have been like unto Gomorrah.’ In the solution of this question I labored indeed on behalf of the free choice of the human will, but God’s grace overcame, and I could only read that point where the apostle is perceived to have said with the most evident truth, ‘For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou has received it, why does thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?’ And this the martyr Cyprian was also desirous of setting forth when he compressed the whole of it in that title: ‘That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own.”’ This is why I previously said that it was chiefly by his apostolic testimony that I myself had been convinced, when I thought otherwise concerning this matter; and this God revealed to me as I sought to solve this question when I was writing, as I said, to the Bishop Simplicianus. This testimony, therefore, of the apostle, when for the sake of repressing man’s conceit he said, “For what hast thou which thou hast not received?” does not allow any believer to say, I have faith which I received not. All the arrogance of this answer is absolutely repressed by these apostolic words. Moreover, it cannot even be said, “Although I have not a perfect faith, yet I have its beginning, whereby I first of all believe in Christ.” Because here also is answered: “But what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast not received it, why doest thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?”
Chapter 9 [V.]-The Purpose of the Apostle in These Words
The notion, however, which they entertain, “that these words, ‘that these words. ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received?’ cannot be said of this faith, because it has remained in the same nature, although corrupted, which at first was endowed with health and perfection,” is perceived to have no force for the purpose that they desire if it be considered why the apostle said these words. For he was concerned that no one should glory in man, because dissensions had sprung up among the Christians, so that every one was saying, “I indeed, am of Paul, and another I am of Apollos, and another, I am of Cephas;” and thence he went on to say: “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong things; and God hath chosen the ignoble things of the world, and contemptible things, and those things which are not, to make of no account things which are; that no flesh should glory before God.” Here the intention of the apostle is of a certainty sufficiently plain against the pride of man, that no one should glory in man; and thus, no one should glory in himself. Finally, when he had said “that no flesh should glory before God,” in order to show in what man ought to glory, he immediately added, “But it is of Him that ye are in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Thence that intention of his progressed, till afterwards rebuking them he says, “For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there are among you envying and contention, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? For while one saith I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not men? What, then, is Apollos, are ye not men? What, then, is Apollos, and what Paul? Ministers by whom you believed; and to every cone as the Lord has given. I have planted, and Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” Do you not see that the sole purpose of the apostle is that man may be humbled, and God alone exalted? Since in all those things, indeed, which are planted and watered, he says that not even are the planter and the waterer anything, but God who giveth the increase; and the very fact, also, that one plants and another waters he attributes not to themselves, but to God, when he says, “To every one as the Lord hath given; I have planted, Apollos watered.” Hence, therefore, persisting in the same intention he comes to the point of saying, “Therefore let no man glory in man,” for he had already said, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” After these and some other matters which are associated therewith, that same intention of his is carried on in the words; “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes, that ye might learn in us that no one of you should be puffed up for one against another above that which is written. For who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou which thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?
Chapter 10. – It is God’s Grace Which Specially Distinguishes One Man from Another.
In this the apostle’s most evident intention, in which he speaks against human pride, so that none should glory in man but God, it is too absurd, as I think, to suppose God’s natural gifts, whether man’s entire and perfected nature itself as it was bestowed on him in the first state, or the remains, whatever they may be, of his degraded nature. For it is by such gifts as these, which are common to all men, that men are distinguished from men? But here he first said, “For who maketh thee to differ?” and then added, “And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” Because a man, puffed up against another, might say, “My faith makes me to differ,” or “My righteousness,” or anything else of the kind. In reply to such notions, the good teacher says, “But what hast thou that thou hast not received?” But from whom but from Him who maketh thee to differ from another, on whom He bestowed not what He bestowed on thee? “Now if,” says he, “thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?” Is he concerned, I ask about anything else save that he who glorieth should glory in the Lord? But nothing is opposed to this feeling as for any one to glory concerning his own merits in such a way as if he himself had made them for himself, and not the grace of God,-a grace, however, which makes the good to differ from the wicked, and is not common to the good and the wicked. Let the grace, therefore, whereby we are living and reasonable creatures, and are distinguished from cattle, be attributed to nature; let that grace also by which, among men themselves, the handsome are made to differ from the ill-formed, or the intelligent from the stupid, or anything of that kind, be ascribed to nature. But he whom the apostle was rebuking did not puff himself up as contrasted with cattle, nor as contrasted with any other man, in respect of any natural endowment which might be found even in the worst of men. But he ascribed to himself, and not to God, some good gift which pertained to a holy life, and was puffed up therewith when he was deserved to hear the rebuke, “Who hath made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?” For though the capacity to have faith is of nature, is it also of nature to have it? “For all men have not faith,” although all men have the capacity to have faith. But the apostle does not say, “And what hast thou capacity to have which thou receiveth not?” but he says, “And what hast thou which thou receivedst not?” Accordingly, the capacity to have faith, as the capacity to have love, belongs to men’s nature; but to have faith, even as to have love, belongs to the grace of believers. That nature, therefore, in which is given to us the capacity of having faith, does not distinguish man from man, but faith itself makes the believer to differ from the unbeliever. And thus, when it is said, “For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?” If any one dear to say, “I have faith of myself, I did not, therefore, receive it,” he directly contradicts this most manifest truth,-not because it is not in the choice of man’s will to believe or not to believe, but because in the elect the will is prepared by the Lord. Thus, moreover, the passage, “For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?” refers to that very faith which is in the will of man.
Chapter 11 [VI.] That Some Men are Elected is of God’s Mercy.
“Many hear the word of truth; but some believe, while others contradict. Therefore, the former will to believe; the latter do not will.” Who does not know this? Who can deny this? But since in some the will is prepared by the Lord, in others it is not prepared, we must assuredly be able to distinguish what comes from God’s mercy, and what from His judgment. “What Israel sought for,” says the apostle, “he hath not obtained, but the election hath obtained it; and the rest were blinded, as it is written, God gave to them the spirit of compunction,-eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, even to this day. And David said, Let their table be made a snare, a retribution, and a stumbling block to them; Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see; and bow down their back always.” Here is mercy and judgment,-mercy towards the election which has obtained the righteousness of God, but judgment to the rest which have been blinded. And yet the former, because they willed, believed; the latter, because they did not will believed not. Therefore mercy and judgment were manifested in the very wills themselves. Certainly such an election is of grace, not at all of merits. For he had before said, “So, therefore, even at this present time, the remnant has been saved by the election of grace. And if by grace, now it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” Therefore the election obtained what it obtained gratuitously; there preceded none of those things which they might first give, and it should be given to them again. He saved them for nothing. But to the rest who were blinded, as is there plainly declared, it was done in recompense. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth.” But His was are unsearchable. Therefore the mercy by which He freely delivers, and the truth by which He righteously judges, are equally unsearchable.
Chapter 12 [VII.] Why the Apostle Said that We are Justified by Faith and Not by Works.
But perhaps it may be said: “The apostle distinguishes faith from works; he says, indeed that grace is not of works, but does not say that it is not of faith.” This, indeed, is true. But Jesus says that faith itself also is the work of God, and commands us to work it. For the Jews said to Him “What shall we do that we may work the work of God? Jesus answered, and said onto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him who He hath sent.” The apostle, therefore, distinguishes faith from works, just as Judah is distinguished from Israel in the two kingdoms of the Hebrews, although Judah is Israel itself. And he says that a man is justified by faith and not by works, because faith itself is first given, from which may be obtained other things which are specially characterized as works, in which a man may live righteously. For he himself also says, “By grace ye are saved through faith; and this not of yourselves; but it is the gift of God,”-that is to say, “And in saying ‘through faith,’ even faith itself is not of yourselves, but is God’s gift.” “Not of works,” he says, “lest any man should be lifted up.” For it is often said, “He deserved to believe, because he was a good man even before he believed.” Which may be said of Cornelius since his alms were accepted and his prayers heard before he had believed on Christ; and yet without some faith he neither gave alms nor prayed. For how did he call on him on whom he had not believed? But if he could have been saved without the faith of Christ the Apostle Peter would not have been sent as an architect to build him up; although, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it.” And we are told, Faith is of ourselves; other things which pertain to works of righteousness are of the Lord; as if faith did not belong to the building,-as if, I say, the foundation did not belong to the building. But if this primarily and especially belongs to it, he labours in vain who seeks to build up the faith by preaching, unless the Lord in His mercy builds it up from within. Whatever, therefore, of good works Cornelius performed, as well before he believed in Christ as when he believed and after he had believed, are all to be ascribed to God, lest, perchance any man be lifted up.
Chapter 13 [VIII.] –The Effect of Divine Grace.
Accordingly, our only Master and Lord Himself, when He had said what I have above mentioned,-“This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent,”-says a little afterwards in that same discourse of His, “I said unto you that ye also have seen me and have not believed. What is the meaning of “shall come to me,” but, shall believe in me”? But it is the Father’s gift that this may be the case, Moreover, a little after He says, “Murmur not among yourselves. No one can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all teachable of God. Every man that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me.” What is the meaning of, “Every man that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me,” except that there is none who hears from the Father, and learns, who cometh from the Father, and has learned, comes, certainly every one who does not come has not heard from the Father; for if he had heard and learned, he would come. For no one has heard and learned, and has not come; but every one, as the Truth declares, who has heard from the Father, and has learned, comes. Far removed from the senses of the flesh is the teaching in which the Father is heard, and teaches to come to the Son. Engaged herein is also the Son Himself, because He is His Word by which He thus teaches; and He does not do this through the ear of the flesh, but of the heart. Herein engaged, also, at the same time, is the Spirit of the Father and the Son; and He, too, teaches, and does not teach separately, since we have learned that the workings of the Trinity are inseparable. And that is certainly the same Holy Spirit of whom the apostle says, “We, however, having the same Spirit of faith.” But this is especially attributed to the Father, for the reason that of Him is begotten the Only Begotten, and from Him proceeds the Holy Spirit, of which it would be tedious to argue more elaborately; and I think that my work in fifteen books on the Trinity which God is, has already reached you. Very removed, I say, from the senses of the flesh is this instruction wherein God is heard and teaches. We see that many come to the Son because we see that many believe on Christ, but when and how they have heard this from the Father, and have learned, we see not. It is true that that grace is exceedingly secret, but who doubts that it is grace? This grace, therefore, which is hiddenly bestowed in human hearts by the Divine gift, is rejected by no hard heart, because it is given for the sake of first taking away the hardness of the heart. When, therefore, the Father, is heard within, and teaches, so that a man comes to the Son, He takes away the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh, as in the declaration of the prophet He has promised. Because He thus makes them children and vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory.
Chapter 14.-Why the Father Does Not Teach All that They May Come to Christ.
Why, then, does He not teach all that they may come to Christ, except because all whom He teaches, He teaches in mercy, while those whom He teaches not, in judgment He teaches not? Since, “On whom He will He has mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.” But He has mercy when He gives good things. He hardens when He recompenses what is deserved. Or if, as some would prefer to distinguish them, those words also are his to whom the apostle says, “Thou sayest then unto me,” so that he may be regarded as having said, “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth,” as well as those which follow,-to wit, “What is it that is still complained of? For who resists He will?” does the apostle answer, “O man who art thou that repliest against God? Doth the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power of the clay of the same lump?” and what follows, which you very well know. And yet in a certain sense the Father teaches all men to come to His Son. For it was not in vain that it was written in the prophets, “And they shall all be teachable of God.” And when He too had premised this testimony, He added, “Every man, therefore, who heard of the Father, and has learned, cometh to me.” As, therefore, we speak justly when we say concerning any teacher of literature who is alone in a city, He teaches literature here to everybody,-not that all men learn, but that there is none who learns literature there who does not learn from him,-so we justly say, God teaches all men to come to Christ, not because all come, but because one comes in any other way. And why He does not teach all men the apostle explained, as far as he judged that it was to be explained, because, “willing to show He wrath, and to exhibit His power, He endured with much patience the vessels of wrath which were perfected for destruction; and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory.” Hence it is that the “word of the cross is foolishness to them that perish; but unto them that are saved it is the power of God.” God teaches all such to come to Christ, for He wills all such to be saved, and to come to knowledge of the truth. And if He had willed to teach even to those to whom the word of the cross is foolishness to come to Christ, beyond all doubt these also would have come. For He neither deceives nor is deceived when He says, “Everyone that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me.” Away then, with the thought that any one cometh not, who has heard of the Father and has learned.
Chapter 15.-It is Believers that are Taught of God.
“Why,” say they, “does He not teach all men?” If we should say that they whom He does not teach are unwilling to learn, we shall be met with the answer: And what becomes of what is said to Him, “O God, Thou wilt turn us again, and quicken us”? Or if God does not make men willing who were not willing, on what principle does the Church pray, according to the Lord’s commandment, for her persecutors? For thus also the blessed Cyprian would have it to be understood that we say, “Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth,”-that is, as in those who have already believed, and who are, as it were, heaven, o also in those who do not believe, and on this account are still the earth. What, then, do we pray for on behalf of those who are unwilling to believe, except that God would work in them to will also? Certainly the apostle says, “Brethren, my heart’s good will, indeed, and my prayer to God for them, is for their salvation.” He prays for those who do not believe,-for what, except that they may believe? For in no other way do they obtain salvation. If, then, the faith of the petitioners precede the grace of God, does the faith of them on whose behalf prayer is made that they may believe precede the grace of God?-since this is the very thing that is besought for them, that on them that believe not-that is, who have not faith-faith itself may be bestowed? When therefore, the gospel is preached, some believe, some believe not; but they who believe at the voice of the preacher from without, hear of the father from within, and learn; while they who do not believe, hear outwardly, but inwardly do not hear nor learn; that is to say, to the former it is given to believe; to the latter it is not given. Because “no man,” says He, “cometh to me, except the Father which sent me draw him.” And this is more plainly said afterwards. For after a little time, when He was speaking of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and some even of His disciples said, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it? Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this offend you?” And a little after He said, “The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life; but there are some among you which believe not.” And immediately the evangelist says, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the believers, and who should betray Him; and He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come to me except it were given him of my Father.” Therefore, to be drawn to Christ by the Father, and to hear and learn of the Father in order to come to Christ, is nothing else than to receive from the Father the gift by which to believe in Christ. For it was not the hearers of the gospel that were distinguished from those who did not hear, but the believers from those who did not believe, by Him who said, “No man cometh to me except it were given him of my Father.”
Chapter 16.-Why the Gift of Faith is Not Given to All.
Faith, then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is God’s gift; and let no one have any doubt whatever, unless he desires to resist the plainest sacred writings, that this gift is given to some, while to some it is not given. But why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the believer, who believes that from one all have gone into a condemnation, which undoubtedly is most righteous; so that even if none were delivered therefrom, there would be no just cause for finding fault with God. Whence it is plain that it is a great grace for many to be delivered, and to acknowledge in those that are not delivered what would be due to themselves; so that he that glorieth may glory not in his own merits, which he sees to be equaled in t hose that are condemned, but in the Lord. But why He delivers one rather than another,-“His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out.” For it is better in this case for us to hear or to say, “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” than to dare to speak as if we could know what He has chosen to be kept secret. Since, moreover, He could not will anything unrighteous.
Chapter 17 [IX]-His Argument in His Letter Against Prophyry, as to Why the Gospel Came So Late into the World.
But that which you remember my saying in a certain small treatise of mine against Prophyry, under the title of The Time of the Christian Religion, I did so said for the sake of escaping this more careful and elaborate argument about grace; although its meaning, which could be unfolded elsewhere or by others, was not wholly omitted, although I had been unwilling in that place to explain it. For, among other matters, I spoke thus in answer to the question proposed, why it was after so long a time that Christ came: “Accordingly, I say, since they do not object to Christ that all do not follow His teaching (for even they themselves feel that this could not be objected at all with any justice, either to the wisdom of the philosophers or even to the deity of their own gods), what will they reply, if-leaving out of the question that depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge where perchance some other divine plan is far more secretly hidden, without prejudging also other causes, which cannot be traced out by the wise-we say to them only this, for the sake of brevity in the arguing of this question, that Christ willed to appear to men, and that His doctrine should be preached among them, at that time when He knew, and at that place where He knew, that there were some who would believe on Him. For at those times, and in those places, at which His gospel was not preached, He foreknew that all would be in His preaching such as, not indeed all, but many were in His bodily presence, who would not believe on Him, even when the dead were raised by Him; such as we see many now, who, although the declarations of the prophets concerning Him are fulfilled by such manifestations, are still unwilling to believe, and prefer to resist by human astuteness, rather than yield to divine authority so clear and perspicuous, and so lofty, and sublimely made known, so long as the human understanding is small and weak in its approach to divine truth. What wonder is it, then, if Christ knew the world in former ages to be so full of unbelievers, that He should reasonably refuse to appear, or to be preached to them, who, as He foreknew, would believe neither His words nor His miracles? For it is not incredible that all at that time were such as from His coming even to the present time we marvel that so many have been and are. And yet from the beginning of the human race, sometimes more hiddenly, sometimes more evidently, even as to Divine Providence the times seemed to be fitting, there has neither been a failure of prophecy, nor were there wanting those who believed on Him; as well from Adam to Moses, as in the people of Israel itself which by a certain special mystery was a prophetic people; and in other nations before He had come in the flesh. For as some are mentioned in the sacred Hebrews books, as early as the time of Abraham,-neither of his fleshly race nor of the people of Israel nor of the forging society among the people of Israel,-who were, nevertheless, sharers in their sacrament, why may we not believe that there were others elsewhere among other people, here and there, although we do not read any mention of them in the same authorities? Thus the salvation is truly promised, never failed Him who was worthy of it. And from the very beginning of the propagation of man, even to the end, the gospel is preached, to some for a reward, to some for judgment; and thus also those to whom the faith was not announced at all were foreknown as those who would not believe; and those to whom it was announced, although they were not such as would believe, are set forth as an example for the former; while those to whom it is announced who should believe, are prepared for the kingdom of heaven, and the company of the holy angels.”
Chapter 18.-The Preceding Argument Applied to the Present Time.
Do you not see that my desire was, without any prejudgment of the hidden counsel of God, and of other reasons, to say what might seem sufficient about Christ’s foreknowledge, to convince the unbelief of the pagans who had brought forward this question? For what is more true than that Christ foreknow who should believe on Him, and at what times and places they should believe? But whether by the preaching of Christ to themselves by themselves they were to have faith, or whether they would receive it by God’s gift,-that is, whether God only foreknew them, or also predestinated them, I did not at that time think it necessary to inquire or to discuss. Therefore what I said, “that Christ willed to appear to men at that time, and that His doctrine should be preached among them when He knew, and where He knew, that there were those who would believe on Him,” may thus also be said, “That Christ willed to appear to men at that time, and that His gospel should be preached among those, whom He know, and where He knew, that there were those who had been elected in Himself before the foundation of the world.” But since, if it were so said, it would make the reader desirous of asking about those things which now by the warning of Pelagain errors must of necessity be discussed with greater copiousness and care, it seemed to me that what at that time was sufficient should be briefly said, leaving to one side, as I said, the depth and wisdom and knowledge of God, and without prejudging other reasons, concerning which I thought that we might more fittingly argue, not then, but at some other time.
Chapter 19 [X]-In What Respects Predestination and Grace Differ.
Moreover, that which I said, “That the salvation of his religion has never been lacking to him who was worthy of it, and that he to whom it was lacking was not worthy,”-if it be discussed and it be asked whence any man can be worthy, there are not wanting those who say-by human will. But we say, by divine grace or predestination. Further, between grace and predestination there is only this difference, that predestination is the preparation for grace, while grace is the donation itself. When, therefore the apostle says, “Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works,” it is grace; but what follows-“which God hath prepared that we should walk in them”-is predestination, which cannot exist without foreknowledge, although foreknowledge may exist without predestination; because God foreknew by predestination those things which He was about to do, whence it was said, “He made those things that shall be.” Moreover, He is able to foreknow even those things which He does not Himself do,-as all sins whatever. Because, although there are some which are in such wise sins as that they are also the penalties of sins, whence it is said, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,” it is not in such a case the sin that is God’s, but the judgment. Therefore God’s predestination of good is, as I have said, the preparation of grace; which grace is the effect of that predestination. Therefore, when God promised to Abraham in his seed the faith of the nations, saying, “I have established thee a father of many nations,” whence the apostle says, “Therefore it is of faith, that the promise, according to grace, might be established to all the seed, “He promised not from the power of our will but from His own predestination. For He promised what He Himself would do, not what men would do. Because, although men do those good things which pertain to God’s worship, He Himself makes them to do what He has commanded; it is not they that cause Him to do what He has promised. Otherwise the fulfillment of God’s promises would not be in the power of God, but in that of men; and thus what was promised by God to Abraham would be given to Abraham by men themselves. Abraham, however, did not believe thus, but “he believed, giving glory to God, that what He promised He is able also to do. “He does not say, “to foretell”-he does not say, “to foreknow;” for He can foretell and foreknow the doings of strangers also; but he says, “He is able also to do;” and thus he is speaking not of the doings of others, but of His own.
Chapter 20.-Did God Promise the Good Works of the Nations and Not Their Faith, to Abraham?
Did God, perchance, promise to Abraham in his seed the good works of the nations, so as to promise that which He Himself does, but did not promise the faith of the Gentiles, which men do for themselves; but so as to promise what He Himself does, did He foreknow that men would effect that faith? The apostle, indeed, does not speak thus, because God promised children to Abraham, who should follow the footsteps of his faith, as he very plainly says. But if He promised the works, and not the faith of the Gentiles certainly since they are not good works unless they are of faith (“for righteous lives of faith,” and, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and, “Without faith it is impossible to please”), it is nevertheless in man’s power that God should fulfil what He has promised. For unless man should do what without the gift of God pertains to man, he will not cause God to give,-that is, unless man have faith of himself. God does not fulfil what He has promised, that works righteousness should be given by God. And thus that God should be able to fulfil His promises is not in God’s power, but man’s. And if truth and piety do not forbid our believing this, let us believe with Abraham, that what He has promised He is able also to perform. But He promised children to Abraham, and this men cannot be unless they have faith, therefore He gives faith also.
Chapter 21.-It is to Be Wondered at that Men Should Rather Trust to Their Own Weakness Than to God’s Strength.
Certainly, when the apostle says, “Therefore it is of faith that the promise may be sure according to grace,” I marvel that men would rather entrust themselves to their own weakness, than to the strength of God’s will concerning myself is to me uncertain? What then? Is thine own will concerning thyself certain to thee? And dost thou not fear,-“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”? Since, then, both are uncertain, why does not man commit his faith, hope and love to the stronger will rather than to the weaker?
Chapter 22.-God’s Promise is Sure.
“But,” say they, “when it is said, ‘If thou believest, thou shalt be saved,’ one of these things is required; the other is offered. What is required is in man’s power; what is offered is in God’s.” Why are not both God’s, as well what He commands as what He offers? For He is asked to give what He commands. Believers ask that their faith may be increased; they ask on behalf of those who do not believe, that faith may be given to them; therefore both in its increase and in its beginnings, faith is the gift of God. But it is said thus: “If thou believest, thou shalt be saved,” in the same way that it is said, “If by the Spirit ye shall mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.” For in this case also, of these two things one is required, the other offered. It is said, “If by the Spirit ye shall mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.” Therefore, that we mortify the deeds of the flesh is required, but that we may live is offered. Is it, then, fitting for us to say, that to mortify the deeds of the flesh is not a gift of God, and not to confess it be a gift of God, because we hear it required of us, with the offer of life as a reward if we shall do it? Away with this being approved by the partakers and champions of grace! This is the condemnable error of the Pelagains, whose mouths the apostle immediately stopped when he said, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;” lest we should believe that we mortify the deeds of the flesh, not by God’s Spirit, but by our own. And of this Spirit of God, moreover, he was speaking in that place where he says, “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, diving unto every man what is his own, as He will;” and among all these things, as you know, he also named faith. As, therefore, although it is a gift of God to mortify the deeds of the flesh, yet it is required of us, and life is set before us a reward; so also faith is the gift of God, although when it is said, “If thou believest, thou shalt be saved,” Faith is required of us, and salvation is proposed to us as a reward. For these things are both commanded us, and are shown to be God’s gifts, in order that we may understand both that we do them, and that God makes us to do them, as He most plainly says by the prophet Ezekiel. For what is plainer than when He says, “I will cause you to do”? Give heed to that passage of Scripture, and you will see that God promises that He will make them to do those things which He commands to be done. He truly is not silent as to the merits but as to the evil deeds, of those to whom He shows that He is returning good for evil, by the very fact that He causeth them thenceforth to have good works, in causing them to do the divine commands.
Chapter 23 [XII]-Remarkable Illustrations of Grace and Predestination in Infants, and in Christ.
But all this reasoning, whereby we maintain that the grace of God through Jesus Christour Lord is truly grace, that is, is not given according to our merits, although it is most manifestly asserted by the witness of the divine declarations, yet, among those who think that they are withheld from all zeal for piety unless they can attribute to themselves something, which they first give that it may be recompensed to them again, involves somewhat of a difficulty in respect of the condition of grown-up people, who are already exercising the choice of will. But when we come to the case of infants, and to the Mediator between God and man Himself, the man Christ Jesus, there is wanting all assertion of human merits that precede the grace of god, because the former are not distinguished from others by any preceding good merits that they should belong to the Deliverer of men; any more than He Himself a man, by v of any precedent human merits.
Chapter 24.-That No One is Judged According to What He Would Have Done If He Had Lived Longer.
For who can here that infants, baptized in the condition of mere infancy, are said to depart from this life by reason of their future merits, and that others not baptized ae said to die in the same age because of their future merits are foreknow,-but as evil; so that God rewards or condemns in them not their good or evil life, but no life at all? The apostle, indeed, fixed a limit which man’s incautious suspicion, to speak gently, ought not to transgress, for he says, “We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive according to the things which he has done by means of the body, when many things are done by the mind alone, and not by the body; and for the most part things of such importance, that a most righteous punishment would be due to such thought, such as,-to say nothing of others,-that “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God”?