The Church Fathers on Salutary Works Require Grace by Joe Gallegos
"Wherefore also the Lord promised to send the Comforter, who should join us to God. For as a compacted lump of dough cannot be formed of dry wheat without fluid matter, nor can a loaf possess unity, so, in like manner, neither could we, being many, be made one in Christ Jesus without the water from heaven. And as dry earth does not bring forth unless it receive moisture, in like manner we also, being originally a dry tree, could never have brought forth fruit unto life without the voluntary rain from above. For our bodies have received unity among themselves by means of that layer which leads to incorruption; but our souls, by means of the Spirit. Wherefore both are necessary, since both contribute towards the life of God"
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,3:17(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:444-445
"A corrupt tree will never yield good fruit, unless the better nature be grafted into it; nor will a good tree produce evil fruit, except by the same process of cultivation. Stones also will become children of Abraham, if educated in Abraham's faith; and a generation of vipers will bring forth the fruits of penitence, if they reject the poison of their malignant nature. This will be the power of the grace of God, more potent indeed than nature, exercising its sway over the faculty that underlies itself within us--even the freedom of our will."
Tertullian,A Treatise on the Soul, 21(A.D. 208),in ANF,III:202
"We add, also, and say, 'Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth;' not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God, that l He may not do what He wills? But since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God's will in all things, we pray and ask that God's will may be done in us; and that it may be done in us we have need of God's good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God."
Cyprian,On the Lord's Prayer,14(A.D. 252),in ANF,V:451
"He from the essence of the Father, nor is the Son again Son according to essence, but in consequence of virtue, as we who are called sons by grace."
Athanasius,Defense of the Nicene Creed,22(A.D.351),in NPNF2,IV:165
"For when you hear, Not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy, I counsel you to think the same. For since there are some who are so proud of their successes that they attribute all to themselves and nothing to Him that made them and gave them wisdom and supplied them with good; such are taught by this word that even to wish well needs help from God; or rather that even to choose what is right is divine and a gift of the mercy of God. For it is necessary both that we should be our own masters and also that our salvation should be of God. This is why He saith not of him that willeth; that is, not of him that willeth only, nor of him that runneth only, but also of God. That sheweth mercy. Next; since to will also is from God, he has attributed the whole to God with reason. However much you may run, however much you may wrestle, yet you need one to give the crown."
Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 37:13(A.D. 383),in NPNF2,in VII:342
"You see indeed,then,how the strength of the Lord is cooperative in human endeavors, so that no one can build without the Lord, no one can preserve without the Lord, no one can build without the Lord, no one can preserve without the Lord, no one can undertake anything without the Lord."
Ambrose,Commentary on Luke,2:84(A.D.389),in JUR,II:162
"All indeed depends on God, but not so that our free-will is hindered. 'If then it depend on God,' (one says), 'why does He blame us?' On this account I said, 'so that our free-will is no hindered.' It depends then on us, and on Him For we must first choose the good; and then He leads us to His own. He does not anticipate our choice, lest our free-will should be outraged. But when we have chosen, then great is the assistance he brings to us...For it is ours to choose and to wish; but God's to complete and to bring to an end. Since therefore the greater part is of Him, he says all is of Him, speaking according to the custom of men. For so we ourselves also do. I mean for instance: we see a house well built, and we say the whole is the Architect's [doing], and yet certainly it is not all his, but the workmen's also, and the owner's, who supplies the materials, and many others', but nevertheless since he contributed the greatest share, we call the whole his. So then [it is] in this case also. Again, with respect to a number of people, where the many are, we say All are: where few, nobody. So also Paul says, 'not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.'And herein he establishes two great truths: one, that we should not be lifted up: even shouldst thou run (he would say), even shouldst thou be very earnest, do not consider that the well doing is thine own. For if thou obtain not the impulse that is from above, all is to no purpose. Nevertheless that thou wilt attain that which thou earnestly strivest after is very evident; so long as thou runnest, so long as thou willest."
John Chrysostom,Homily on Hebrews,12:3(A.D. 403),in NPNF1,XIV:425
"Now for the commission of sin we get no help from God; but we are not able to do justly, and to fulfil the law of righteousness in every part thereof, except we are helped by God. For as the bodily eye is not helped by the light to turn away therefrom shut or averted, but is helped by it to see, and cannot see at all unless it help it; so God, who is the light of the inner man, helps our mental sight, in order that we may do some good, not according to our own, but according to His righteousness."
Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins and Baptism,II:5(A.D. 411), in NPNF1,V:45
" 'No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me draw him'! For He does not say, 'except He lead him,' so that we can thus in any way understand that his will precedes. For who is 'drawn,' if he was already willing? And yet no man comes unless he is willing. Therefore he is drawn in wondrous ways to will, by Him who knows how to work within the very hearts of men. Not that men who are unwilling should believe, which cannot be, but that they should be made willing from being unwilling."
Augustine,Against Two Letters of the Pelagians,I:19(A.D. 420),in NPNF1,V:389
"As strong as we could,we urged on them, as on your and our brothers, to preserve in the Catholic faith, which neither denies free will whether for a bad life or a good one, nor allows it so much effect that it can do anything without the grace of God, whether to convert the soul from evil to good, or to preserve and advance in good, or to attain eternal good, where there is no more fear of falling away."
Augustine, Epistle 215:4(A.D. 423),in FC32,64-65
"[L]est the will itself should be deemed capable of doing any good thing without the grace of God, after saying, 'His grace within me was not in vain, but I have laboured more abundantly than they all,' he immediately added the qualifying clause, 'Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' In other words, Not I alone, but the grace of God with me. And thus, neither was it the grace of God alone, nor was it he himself alone, but it was the grace Of God with him. For his call, however, from heaven and his conversion by that great and most effectual call, God's grace was alone, because his merits, though great, were yet evil."
Augustine,On Grace and Free Will,5:12(A.D. 427),in NPNF1,V:448-9
" 'There is henceforth laid up for me,' he says, 'a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.' Now, to whom should the righteous Judge award the crown, except to him on whom the merciful Father had bestowed grace? And how could the crown be one 'of righteousness,' unless the grace had preceded which 'justifieth the ungodly'?"
Augustine,On Grace and Free Will,6:14(A.D. 427),in NPNF1,V:449
" 'I have fought,' says he, "the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.' Now, in the first place, these good works were nothing, unless they had been preceded by good thoughts. Observe, therefore, what he says concerning these very thoughts. His words, when writing to the Corinthians, are: 'Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.' "
Augustine,On Grace and Free Will,7:16(A.D. 427),in NPNF1,V:450
" The first man had not that grace by which he should never will to be evil; but assuredly he had that in which if he willed to abide he would never be evil, and without which, moreover, he could not by free will be good, but which, nevertheless, by free will he could forsake. God, therefore, did not will even him to be without His grace, which He left in his free will; because free will is sufficient for evil, but is too little s for good, unless it is aided by Omnipotent Good. And if that man had not forsaken that assistance of his free will, he would always have been good; but he forsook it, and he was forsaken. Because such was the nature of the aid, that he could forsake it when he would, and that he could continue in it if he would; but not such that it could be brought about that he would."
Augustine,On Grace and Free Will,11:31(A.D. 427),in NPNF1,V:484
"And besides, this is the apostolic declaration, "No one saith, Lord Jesus, but in the Holy Spirit: and who is it that calleth Him Lord Jesus but he that loveth Him, if he so call Him in the way the apostle intended to be understood? For many call Him so with their lips, but deny Him in their hearts and works; just as He saith of such, 'For they profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.' If it is by works He is denied, it is doubtless also by works that His name is truly invoked. 'No one,' therefore, 'saith, Lord Jesus,' in mind, in word, in deed, with the heart, the lips, the labor of the bands,--no one saith, Lord Jesus, but in the Holy Spirit."
Augustine,On the Gospel of John,74:1(A.D. 430),in NPNF1,VII:333-4
"For just to keep any from supposing that the branch can bear at least some little fruit of itself, after saying, 'the same bringeth forth much fruit,' His next words are not, Without me ye can do but little, but 'ye can do nothing.' Whether then it be little or much, without Him it is impracticable; for without Him nothing can be done."
Augustine,On the Gospel of John,81:3(A.D. 430),in NPNF1,VII:345-6
"Most bitter enemies of grace, you offer us examples of ungodly men who,you say, 'through without faith, abound in virtues where there is,without the aid of grace,only the good of nature even though shackled by superstitions.' Such men, by the mere powers of their inborn liberty, often merciful, and modest, and chaste, and sober. When you say this you have already removed what you thought to attibute to the grace of God: namely, effectiveness of will ... If it pleases you so much to praise the ungodly that you say they abound in true virtues - as though you did not hear the Scripture saying: 'They that say to the wicked man: You are just, shall be accursed by the people by the people, and the tribes shall abhor them' - it were much better for you, who say they abound in virtues,to confess that these are gifts of God in them."
Augustine, Against Julian,4:3:16(A.D.421),in FC35,179
"But God forbid there be true virtues in anyone unless he is just, and God forbid he be truly unless he lives by faith, for 'He who is just lives by faith.' Who of those wishing to be considered Christians.except the Pelagians alone, or perhaps, you alone among the Pelagians, will call an unbeliever just, and an ungodly man just, and say a man is in bondage to the Devil?"
Augustine, Against Julian,4:3:17(A.D.421),in FC35,181
"Surely, if no Christian will dare to say this, 'It is not of God that showeth mercy, but of man that willeth,' lest he should openly contradict the apostle, it follows that the true interpretation of the saying, 'It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,' is that the whole work belongs to God, who both makes the will of man righteous, and thus prepares it for assistance, and assists it when it is prepared. For the man's righteousness of will precedes many of God's gifts, but not all; and it must itself be included among those which it does not precede. We read in Holy Scripture, both that God's mercy 'shall meet me,' and that His mercy 'shall follow me.' It goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual."
Augustine, Enchiridion,32(A.D.422),in NPNF1,III:248
"Without God there is no virtue, nor does a man obtain what is proper to divinity unless he be enlivened by the Spirit of his Author. Since the Lord said to His disciples, 'Without Me you are able to do nothing,' there is no doubt that when a man does good works he has from God both the carrying out the work and the beginning of his will to do so."
Gregory the Great,Sermons,38:3(ante A.D. 461),in JUR,III:277
"We ought to understand that while God knows all things beforehand, yet He does not predetermine all things. For He knows beforehand those things that are in our power, but He does not predetermine them. For it is not His will that there should be wickedness nor does He choose to compel virtue. So that predetermination is the work of the divine command based on fore-knowledge. But on the other hand God predetermines those things which are not within our power in accordance with His prescience. For already God in His prescience has prejudged all things in accordance with His goodness and justice. Bear in mind, too, that virtue is a gift from God implanted in our nature, and that He Himself is the source and cause of all good, and without His co-operation and help we cannot will or do any good thing, But we have it in our power either to abide in virtue and follow God, Who calls us into ways of virtue, or to stray from paths of virtue, which is to dwell in wickedness, and to follow the devil who summons but cannot compel us. For wickedness is nothing else than the withdrawal of goodness, just as darkness is nothing else than the withdrawal of light While then we abide in the natural state we abide in virtue, but when we deviate from the natural state, that is from virtue, "
John Damascene,Orthodox Faith,2:30(A.D. 743),in NPNF2,IX:240
This text may downloaded and viewed for private reading only. This text may not be used by another Web site or published, electronically or otherwise, without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Joseph A. Gallegos © 1997-2003 All Rights Reserved.