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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Translation from the Greek.

Chapter I.—On the Freedom of the Will,23832383    περι τοῦ αὐτεξουσίου. With an Explanation and Interpretation of Those Statements of Scripture Which Appear to Nullify It.

1.  Since in the preaching of the Church there is included the doctrine respecting a just judgment of God, which, when believed to be true, incites those who hear it to live virtuously, and to shun sin by all means, inasmuch as they manifestly acknowledge that things worthy of praise and blame are within our own power, come and let us discuss by themselves a few points regarding the freedom of the will—a question of all others most necessary.  And that we may understand what the freedom of the will is, it is necessary to unfold the conception of it,23842384    τὴν ἔννοιαν αὐτοῦ ἀναπτύξαι. that this being declared with precision, the subject may be placed before us.

2.  Of things that move, some have the cause of their motion within themselves; others, again, are moved only from without.  Now only portable things are moved from without, such as pieces of wood, and stones, and all matter that is held together by their constitution alone.23852385    ὐπὸ ἕξεως μόνης.  And let that view be removed from consideration which calls the flux of bodies motion, since it is not needed for our present purpose.  But animals and plants have the cause of their motion within themselves, and in general whatever is held together by nature and a soul, to which class of things they say that metals also belong.  And besides these, fire too is self-moved, and perhaps also fountains of water.  Now, of those things which have the cause of their movement within themselves, some, they say, are moved out of themselves, others from themselves:  things without life, out of themselves; animate things, from themselves.  For animate things are moved from themselves, a phantasy23862386    φαντασίας. springing up in them which incites to effort.  And again, in certain animals phantasies are formed which call forth an effort, the nature of the phantasy23872387    φύσεως φανταστικῆς. stirring up the effort in an orderly manner, as in the spider is formed the phantasy of weaving; and the attempt to weave follows, the nature of its phantasy inciting the insect in an orderly manner to this alone.  And besides its phantasial nature, nothing else is believed to belong to the insect.23882388    καὶ οὐδενὸς ἄλλου μετὰ τὴν φανταστικὴν αὐτοῦ φυσιν πεπιστευμένου τοῦ ζώου.  And in the bee there is formed the phantasy to produce wax.

3.  The rational animal, however, has, in addition to its phantasial nature, also reason, which judges the phantasies, and disapproves of some and accepts others, in order that the animal may be led according to them.  Therefore, since there are in the nature of reason aids towards the contemplation of virtue and vice, by following which, after beholding good and evil, we select the one and avoid the other, we are deserving of praise when we give ourselves to the practice of virtue, and censurable when we do the reverse.  We must not, however, be ignorant that the greater part of the nature assigned to all things is a varying quantity23892389    ποσῶς. among animals, both in a greater and a less degree; so that the instinct in hunting-dogs and in war-horses approaches somehow, so to speak, to the faculty of reason.  Now, to fall under some one of those external causes which stir up within us this phantasy or that, is confessedly not one of those things that are dependent upon ourselves; but to determine that we shall use the occurrence in this way or differently, is the prerogative of nothing else than of the reason within us, which, as occasion offers,23902390    παρὰ τὰς ἀφορμάς. arouses us towards efforts inciting to what is virtuous and becoming, or turns us aside to what is the reverse.

4.  But if any one maintain that this very external cause is of such a nature that it is impossible to resist it when it comes in such a way, let him turn his attention to his own feelings and movements, (and see) whether there is not an approval, and assent, and inclination of the controlling principle towards some object on account of some specious arguments.23912391    διὰ τάσδε τὰς πιθανότητας.  For, to take an instance, a woman who has appeared before a man that has determined to be chaste, and to refrain from carnal intercourse, and who has incited him to act contrary to his purpose, is not a perfect23922392    αὐτοτελής. cause of annulling his determination.  For, being altogether pleased with the luxury and allurement of the pleasure, and not wishing to resist it, or to keep his purpose, he commits an act of licentiousness.  Another man, again (when the same things have happened to him who has received more instruction, and has disciplined himself23932393    ησκηκότι.), encounters, indeed, allurements and enticements; but his reason, as being strengthened to a higher point, and carefully trained, and confirmed in its views towards a virtuous course, or being near to confirmation,23942394    ἐγγύς γε τοῦ βεβαιωθῆναι γεγενημένος. repels the incitement, and extinguishes the desire.

5.  Such being the case, to say that we are moved from without, and to put away the blame from ourselves, by declaring that we are like to pieces of wood and stones, which are dragged about by those causes that act upon them from without, is neither true nor in conformity with reason, but is the statement of him who wishes to destroy23952395    παραχαράττειν. the conception of free-will.  For if we were to ask such an one what was free-will, he would say that it consisted in this, that when purposing to do some thing, no external cause came inciting to the reverse.  But to blame, on the other hand, the mere constitution of the body,23962396    ψιλὴν τὴν κατασκευήν. is absurd; for the disciplinary reason,23972397    λόγου παιδευτικοῦ. taking hold of those who are most intemperate and savage (if they will follow her exhortation), effects a transformation, so that the alteration and change for the better is most extensive,—the most licentious men frequently becoming better than those who formerly did not seem to be such by nature; and the most savage men passing into such a state of mildness,23982398    ἡμερότητος . that those persons who never at any time were so savage as they were, appear savage in comparison, so great a degree of gentleness having been produced within them.  And we see other men, most steady and respectable, driven from their state of respectability and steadiness by intercourse with evil customs, so as to fall into habits of licentiousness, often beginning their wickedness in middle age, and plunging into disorder after the period of youth has passed, which, so far as its nature is concerned, is unstable.  Reason, therefore, demonstrates that external events do not depend on us, but that it is our own business to use them in this way or the opposite, having received reason as a judge and an investigator23992399    ἐξεταστήν. of the manner in which we ought to meet those events that come from without.

6.  Now, that it is our business to live virtuously, and that God asks this of us, as not being dependent on Him nor on any other, nor, as some think, upon fate, but as being our own doing, the prophet Micah will prove when he says:  “If it has been announced to thee, O man, what is good, or what does the Lord require of thee, except to do justice and to love mercy?”24002400    Mic. vi. 8. Moses also:  “I have placed before thy face the way of life, and the way of death:  choose what is good, and walk in it.”24012401    Cf. Deut. xxx. 15, 16, cf. 19.  Isaiah too:  “If you are willing, and hear me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye be unwilling, and will not hear me, the sword will consume you:  for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”24022402    Isa. i. 19, 20.  And in the Psalms:  “If My people had heard Me, and Israel had walked in My ways, I would have humbled their enemies to nothing, and laid My hand upon those that afflicted them;”24032403    Ps. lxxxi. 13, 14. showing that it was in the power of His people to hear and to walk in the ways of God.  And the Saviour also, when He commands, “But I say unto you, Resist not evil;”24042404    Matt. v. 39. and, “Whosoever shall be angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment;”24052405    Matt. v. 22. and, “Whosoever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart;”24062406    Matt. v. 28. and by any other commandment which He gives, declares that it lies with ourselves to keep what is enjoined, and that we shall reasonably24072407    εὐλόγως. be liable to condemnation if we transgress.  And therefore He says in addition:  “He that heareth My words, and doeth them, shall be likened to a prudent man, who built his house upon a rock,” etc., etc.; “while he that heareth them, but doeth them not, is like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand,” etc.24082408    Cf. Matt. vii. 26.  And when He says to those on His right hand, “Come, ye blessed of My Father,” etc.; “for I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat; I was athirst, and ye gave Me to drink,”24092409    Matt. xxv. 34. it is exceedingly manifest that He gives the promises to these as being deserving of praise.  But, on the contrary, to the others, as being censurable in comparison with them, He says, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!”24102410    Matt. xxv. 41.  And let us observe how Paul also converses24112411    διαλέγεται. with us as having freedom of will, and as being ourselves the cause of ruin or salvation, when he says, “Dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and of His patience, and of His long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But, according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou art treasuring up for thyself wrath on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every one according to his works:  to those who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and immortality, eternal life; while to those who are contentious, and believe not the truth, but who believe iniquity, anger, wrath, tribulation, and distress, on every soul of man that worketh evil; on the Jew first, and on the Greek:  but glory, and honour, and peace to every one that worketh good; to the Jew first, and to the Greek.”24122412    Rom. ii. 4–10.  There are, indeed, innumerable passages in the Scriptures which establish with exceeding clearness the existence of freedom of will.

7.  But, since certain declarations of the Old Testament and of the New lead to the opposite conclusion—namely, that it does not depend on ourselves to keep the commandments and to be saved, or to transgress them and to be lost—let us adduce them one by one, and see the explanations of them, in order that from those which we adduce, any one selecting in a similar way all the passages that seem to nullify free-will, may consider what is said about them by way of explanation.  And now, the statements regarding Pharaoh have troubled many, respecting whom God declared several times, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.”24132413    Ex. iv. 21, cf. vii. 3.  For if he is hardened by God, and commits sin in consequence of being hardened, he is not the cause of sin to himself; and if so, then neither does Pharaoh possess free-will.  And some one will say that, in a similar way, they who perish have not free-will, and will not perish of themselves.  The declaration also in Ezekiel, “I will take away their stony hearts, and will put in them hearts of flesh, that they may walk in My precepts, and keep My commandments,”24142414    Ezek. xi. 19, 20. might lead one to think that it was God who gave the power to walk in His commandments, and to keep His precepts, by His withdrawing the hindrance—the stony heart, and implanting a better—a heart of flesh.  And let us look also at the passage in the Gospel—the answer which the Saviour returns to those who inquired why He spake to the multitude in parables.  His words are:  “That seeing they might not see; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them.”24152415    Cf. Mark iv. 12 and Luke viii. 10.  The passage also in Paul:  “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”24162416    Rom. ix. 16.  The declarations, too, in other places, that “both to will and to do are of God;”24172417    Cf. Phil. ii. 13. “that God hath mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.  Thou wilt say then, Why doth He yet find fault?  For who hath resisted His will?”  “The persuasion is of Him that calleth, and not of us.”24182418    Gal. v. 8.  “Nay, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that hath formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”24192419    Rom. ix. 20, 21.  Now these passages are sufficient of themselves to trouble the multitude, as if man were not possessed of free-will, but as if it were God who saves and destroys whom He will.

8.  Let us begin, then, with what is said about Pharaoh—that he was hardened by God, that he might not send away the people; along with which will be examined also the statement of the apostle, “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.”24202420    Cf. Rom. ix. 18.  And certain of those who hold different opinions misuse these passages, themselves also almost destroying free-will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation, and others saved which it is impossible can be lost; and Pharaoh, they say, as being of a ruined nature, is therefore hardened by God, who has mercy upon the spiritual, but hardens the earthly.  Let us see now what they mean.  For we shall ask them if Pharaoh was of an earthy nature; and when they answer, we shall say that he who is of an earthy nature is altogether disobedient to God:  but if disobedient, what need is there of his heart being hardened, and that not once, but frequently?  Unless perhaps, since it was possible for him to obey (in which case he would certainly have obeyed, as not being earthy, when hard pressed by the signs and wonders), God needs him to be disobedient to a greater degree,24212421    χρῄζει δὲ αὐτοῦ ὁ Θεὸςἐπι πλεῖον ἀπειθοῦντος. in order that He may manifest His mighty deeds for the salvation of the multitude, and therefore hardens his heart.  This will be our answer to them in the first place, in order to overturn their supposition that Pharaoh was of a ruined nature.  And the same reply must be given to them with respect to the statement of the apostle.  For whom does God harden?  Those who perish, as if they would obey unless they were hardened, or manifestly those who would be saved because they are not of a ruined nature.  And on whom has He mercy?  Is it on those who are to be saved?  And how is there need of a second mercy for those who have been prepared once for salvation, and who will by all means become blessed on account of their nature?  Unless perhaps, since they are capable of incurring destruction, if they did not receive mercy, they will obtain mercy, in order that they may not incur that destruction of which they are capable, but may be in the condition of those who are saved.  And this is our answer to such persons.

9.  But to those who think they understand the term “hardened,” we must address the inquiry, What do they mean by saying that God, by His working, hardens the heart, and with what purpose does He do this?  For let them observe the conception24222422    ἔννοιαν. of a God who is in reality just and good; but if they will not allow this, let it be conceded to them for the present that He is just; and let them show how the good and just God, or the just God only, appears to be just, in hardening the heart of him who perishes because of his being hardened:  and how the just God becomes the cause of destruction and disobedience, when men are chastened by Him on account of their hardness and disobedience.  And why does He find fault with him, saying, “Thou wilt not let My people go;”24232423    Cf. Ex. iv. 23 and ix. 17. “Lo, I will smite all the first-born in Egypt, even thy first-born;”24242424    Cf. Ex. xii. 12. and whatever else is recorded as spoken from God to Pharaoh through the intervention of Moses?  For he who believes that the Scriptures are true, and that God is just, must necessarily endeavour, if he be honest,24252425    εὐγνωμονῇ. to show how God, in using such expressions, may be distinctly24262426    τρανῶς. understood to be just.  But if any one should stand, declaring with uncovered head that the Creator of the world was inclined to wickedness,24272427    ἀπογραψάμενός τις γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ ἵστατο πρὸς τὸ πονηρὸν εἶναι τὸν δημιουργόν. we should need other words to answer them.

10.  But since they say that they regard Him as a just God, and we as one who is at the same time good and just, let us consider how the good and just God could harden the heart of Pharaoh.  See, then, whether, by an illustration used by the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we are able to prove that by one operation24282428    ἐνεργείᾳ. God has mercy upon one man while He hardens another, although not intending to harden; but, (although) having a good purpose, hardening follows as a result of the inherent principle of wickedness in such persons,24292429    διὰ τὸ τῆς κακίας ὑποκείμενον τοῦ παρ᾽ ἑαυτοῖς κακοῦ. and so He is said to harden him who is hardened.  “The earth,” he says, “which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them for whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh to cursing, whose end is to be burned.”24302430    Heb. vi. 7, 8.  As respects the rain, then, there is one operation; and there being one operation as regards the rain, the ground which is cultivated produces fruit, while that which is neglected and is barren produces thorns.  Now, it might seem profane24312431    δύσφημον. for Him who rains to say, “I produced the fruits, and the thorns that are in the earth;” and yet, although profane, it is true.  For, had rain not fallen, there would have been neither fruits nor thorns; but, having fallen at the proper time and in moderation, both were produced.  The ground, now, which drank in the rain which often fell upon it, and yet produced thorns and briers, is rejected and nigh to cursing.  The blessing, then, of the rain descended even upon the inferior land; but it, being neglected and uncultivated, yielded thorns and thistles.  In the same way, therefore, the wonderful works also done by God are, as it were, the rain; while the differing purposes are, as it were, the cultivated and neglected land, being (yet), like earth, of one nature.

11.  And as if the sun, uttering a voice, were to say, “I liquefy and dry up,” liquefaction and drying up being opposite things, he would not speak falsely as regards the point in question;24322432    παρὰ τὸ ὑποκείμενον. wax being melted and mud being dried by the same heat; so the same operation, which was performed through the instrumentality of Moses, proved the hardness of Pharaoh on the one hand, the result of his wickedness, and the yielding of the mixed Egyptian multitude who took their departure with the Hebrews.  And the brief statement24332433    καὶ τὸ κατὰ τὸ βραχὺ δὲ ἀναγεγράφθαι. that the heart of Pharaoh was softened, as it were, when he said, “But ye shall not go far:  ye will go a three days’ journey, and leave your wives,”24342434    Cf. Ex. viii. 28, 29. and anything else which he said, yielding little by little before the signs, proves that the wonders made some impression even upon him, but did not accomplish all (that they might).  Yet even this would not have happened, if that which is supposed by the many—the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart—had been produced by God Himself.  And it is not absurd to soften down such expressions agreeably to common usage:24352435    οὐκ ἄτοπον δὲ καὶ ἀπὸ συνηθείας τὰ τοιαῦτα παραμυθήσασθαι.  for good masters often say to their slaves, when spoiled by their kindness and forbearance, “I have made you bad, and I am to blame for offences of such enormity.”  For we must attend to the character and force of the phrase, and not argue sophistically,24362436    συκοφαντεῖν. disregarding the meaning of the expression.  Paul accordingly, having examined these points clearly, says to the sinner:  “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”24372437    Rom. ii. 4, 5.  Now, let what the apostle says to the sinner be addressed to Pharaoh, and then the announcements made to him will be understood to have been made with peculiar fitness, as to one who, according to his hardness and unrepentant heart, was treasuring up to himself wrath; seeing that his hardness would not have been proved nor made manifest unless miracles had been performed, and miracles, too, of such magnitude and importance.

12.  But since such narratives are slow to secure assent,24382438    δυσπειθεῖς. and are considered to be forced,24392439    βίαιοι. let us see from the prophetical declarations also, what those persons say, who, although they have experienced the great kindness of God, have not lived virtuously, but have afterwards sinned.  “Why, O Lord, hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways?  Why hast Thou hardened our heart, so as not to fear Thy name?  Return for Thy servants’ sake, for the tribes of Thine inheritance, that we may inherit a small portion of Thy holy mountain.”24402440    Isa. lxiii. 17, 18.  And in Jeremiah:  “Thou hast deceived me, O Lord, and I was deceived; Thou wert strong, and Thou didst prevail.”24412441    Jer. xx. 7.  For the expression, “Why hast Thou hardened our heart, so as not to fear Thy name?” uttered by those who are begging to receive mercy, is in its nature as follows:  “Why hast Thou spared us so long, not visiting us because of our sins, but deserting us, until our transgressions come to a height?”  Now He leaves the greater part of men unpunished, both in order that the habits of each one may be examined, so far as it depends upon ourselves, and that the virtuous may be made manifest in consequence of the test applied; while the others, not escaping notice from God—for He knows all things before they exist—but from the rational creation and themselves, may afterwards obtain the means of cure, seeing they would not have known the benefit had they not condemned themselves.  It is of advantage to each one, that he perceive his own peculiar nature24422442    ἰδιότητος. and the grace of God.  For he who does not perceive his own weakness and the divine favour, although he receive a benefit, yet, not having made trial of himself, nor having condemned himself, will imagine that the benefit conferred upon him by the grace of Heaven is his own doing.  And this imagination, producing also vanity,24432443    φυσιωσιν. will be the cause of a downfall:  which, we conceive, was the case with the devil, who attributed to himself the priority which he possessed when in a state of sinlessness.24442444    ἄμωμος.  “For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased,” and “every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”24452445    Cf. Luke xiv. 11.  And observe, that for this reason divine things have been concealed from the wise and prudent, in order, as says the apostle, that “no flesh should glory in the presence of God;”24462446    Cf. 1 Cor. i. 29. and they have been revealed to babes, to those who after childhood have come to better things, and who remember that it is not so much from their own effort, as by the unspeakable goodness (of God), that they have reached the greatest possible extent of blessedness.

13.  It is not without reason, then, that he who is abandoned, is abandoned to the divine judgment, and that God is long-suffering with certain sinners; but because it will be for their advantage, with respect to the immortality of the soul and the unending world,24472447    τὸν ἄπειρον αἰῶνα. that they be not quickly brought24482448    συνεργηθῆναι . into a state of salvation, but be conducted to it more slowly, after having experienced many evils.  For as physicians, who are able to cure a man quickly, when they suspect that a hidden poison exists in the body, do the reverse of healing, making this more certain through their very desire to heal, deeming it better for a considerable time to retain the patient under inflammation and sickness, in order that he may recover his health more surely, than to appear to produce a rapid recovery, and afterwards to cause a relapse, and (thus) that hasty cure last only for a time; in the same way, God also, who knows the secret things of the heart, and foresees future events, in His long-suffering, permits (certain events to occur), and by means of those things which happen from without extracts the secret evil, in order to cleanse him who through carelessness has received the seeds of sin, that having vomited them forth when they came to the surface, although he may have been deeply involved in evils, he may afterwards obtain healing after his wickedness, and be renewed.24492449    ἀναστοιχειωθῆναι.  For God governs souls not with reference, let me say, to the fifty24502450    πεντηκονταετίαν.  Rufinus has “sexaginta annos.” years of the present life, but with reference to an illimitable24512451    ἀπέραντον αἰῶνα. age:  for He made the thinking principle immortal in its nature, and kindred to Himself; and the rational soul is not, as in this life, excluded from cure.

14.  Come now, and let us use the following image24522452    εἰκόνι. from the Gospel.  There is a certain rock, with a little surface-soil, on which, if seeds fall, they quickly spring up; but when sprung up, as not having root, they are burned and withered when the sun has arisen.  Now this rock is a human soul, hardened on account of its negligence, and converted to stone because of its wickedness; for no one receives from God a heart created of stone, but it becomes such in consequence of wickedness.  If one, then, were to find fault with the husbandman for not sowing his seed sooner upon the rocky soil, when he saw other rocky ground which had received seed flourishing, the husbandman would reply, “I shall sow this ground more slowly, casting in seeds that will be able to retain their hold, this slower method being better for the ground, and more secure than that which receives the seed in a more rapid manner, and more upon the surface.”  (The person finding fault) would yield his assent to the husbandman, as one who spoke with sound reason, and who acted with skill:  so also the great Husbandman of all nature postpones that benefit which might be deemed premature,24532453    τάχιον. that it may not prove superficial.  But it is probable that here some one may object to us with reference to this:  “Why do some of the seeds fall upon the earth that has superficial soil, the soul being, as it were, a rock?”  Now we must say, in answer to this, that it was better for this soul, which desired better things precipitately,24542454    προπετέστερον, καὶ οὐχὶ ὁδῷ ἐπ᾽ αὐτὰ ὁδευσάσῃ. and not by a way which led to them, to obtain its desire, in order that, condemning itself on this account, it may, after a long time, endure to receive the husbandry which is according to nature.  For souls are, as one may say, innumerable; and their habits are innumerable, and their movements, and their purposes, and their assaults, and their efforts, of which there is only one admirable administrator, who knows both the season, and the fitting helps, and the avenues, and the ways, viz., the God and Father of all things, who knows how He conducts even Pharaoh by so great events, and by drowning in the sea, with which latter occurrence His superintendence of Pharaoh does not cease.  For he was not annihilated when drowned:  “For in the hand of God are both we and our words; all wisdom also, and knowledge of workmanship.”24552455    Cf. Wisd. vii. 16.  And such is a moderate defence with regard to the statement that “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened,” and that “God hath mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.”

15.  Let us look also at the declaration in Ezekiel, which says, “I shall take away their stony hearts, and will put in them hearts of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My precepts.”24562456    Ezek. xi. 19, 20.  For if God, when He wills, takes away the stony hearts, and implants hearts of flesh, so that His precepts are obeyed and His commandments are observed, it is not in our power to put away wickedness.  For the taking away of the stony hearts is nothing else than the taking away of the wickedness, according to which one is hardened, from him from whom God wills to take it; and the implanting of a heart of flesh, so that a man may walk in the precepts of God and keep His commandments, what else is it than to become somewhat yielding and unresistent to the truth, and to be capable of practising virtues?  And if God promises to do this, and if, before He takes away the stony hearts, we do not lay them aside, it is manifest that it does not depend upon ourselves to put away wickedness; and if it is not we who do anything towards the production within us of the heart of flesh, but if it is God’s doing, it will not be our own act to live agreeably to virtue, but altogether (the result of) divine grace.  Such will be the statements of him who, from the mere words (of Scripture), annihilates free-will.24572457    ἀπὸ τῶν ψιλῶν ῥητῶν τὸ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν ἀναιρῶν.  But we shall answer, saying, that we ought to understand these passages thus:  That as a man, e.g., who happened to be ignorant and uneducated, on perceiving his own defects, either in consequence of an exhortation from his teacher, or in some other way, should spontaneously give himself up to him whom he considers able to introduce24582458    χειραγωγήσειν. him to education and virtue; and, on his yielding himself up, his instructor promises that he will take away his ignorance, and implant instruction, not as if it contributed nothing to his training, and to the avoiding of ignorance, that he brought himself to be healed, but because the instructor promised to improve him who desired improvement; so, in the same way, the Word of God promises to take away wickedness, which it calls a stony heart, from those who come to it, not if they are unwilling, but (only) if they submit themselves to the Physician of the sick, as in the Gospels the sick are found coming to the Saviour, and asking to obtain healing, and so are cured.  And, let me say, the recovery of sight by the blind is, so far as their request goes, the act of those who believe that they are capable of being healed; but as respects the restoration of sight, it is the work of our Saviour.  Thus, then, does the Word of God promise to implant knowledge in those who come to it, by taking away the stony and hard heart, which is wickedness, in order that one may walk in the divine commandments, and keep the divine injunctions.

16.  There was after this the passage from the Gospel, where the Saviour said, that for this reason did He speak to those without in parables, that “seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand; lest they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them.”24592459    Mark iv. 12.  Now, our opponent will say, “If some persons are assuredly converted on hearing words of greater clearness, so that they become worthy of the remission of sins, and if it does not depend upon themselves to hear these words of greater clearness, but upon him who teaches, and he for this reason does not announce them to them more distinctly, lest they should see and understand, it is not within the power of such to be saved; and if so, we are not possessed of free-will as regards salvation and destruction.”  Effectual, indeed, would be the reply to such arguments, were it not for the addition, “Lest they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them,”—namely, that the Saviour did not wish those who were not to become good and virtuous to understand the more mystical (parts of His teaching), and for this reason spake to them in parables; but now, on account of the words, “Lest they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them,” the defence is more difficult.  In the first place, then, we must notice the passage in its bearing on the heretics, who hunt out those portions from the Old Testament where is exhibited, as they themselves daringly assert, the cruelty24602460    ὠμότης. of the Creator of the world24612461    δημιουργοῦ. in His purpose of avenging and punishing the wicked,24622462    ἡ ἀμυντικὴ καὶ ἀνταποδοτικὴ τῶν χειρόνων προαίρεσις. or by whatever other name they wish to designate such a quality, so speaking only that they may say that goodness does not exist in the Creator; and who do not deal with the New Testament in a similar manner, nor in a spirit of candour,24632463    εὐγνωμόνως. but pass by places similar to those which they consider censurable in the Old Testament.  For manifestly, and according to the Gospel, is the Saviour shown, as they assert, by His former words, not to speak distinctly for this reason, that men might not be converted, and, being converted, might become deserving of the remission of sins:  which statement of itself is nothing inferior24642464    οὐδενὸς ἔλαττον. to those passages from the Old Testament which are objected to.  And if they seek to defend the Gospel, we must ask them whether they are not acting in a blameworthy manner in dealing differently with the same questions; and, while not stumbling against the New Testament, but seeking to defend it, they nevertheless bring a charge against the Old regarding similar points, whereas they ought to offer a defence in the same way of the passages from the New.  And therefore we shall force them, on account of the resemblances, to regard all as the writings of one God.  Come, then, and let us, to the best of our ability, furnish an answer to the question submitted to us.

17.  We asserted also, when investigating the subject of Pharaoh, that sometimes a rapid cure is not for the advantage of those who are healed, if, after being seized by troublesome diseases, they should easily get rid of those by which they had been entangled.  For, despising the evil as one that is easy of cure, and not being on their guard a second time against falling into it, they will be involved in it (again).  Wherefore, in the case of such persons, the everlasting God, the Knower of secrets, who knows all things before they exist, in conformity with His goodness, delays sending them more rapid assistance, and, so to speak, in helping them does not help, the latter course being to their advantage.  It is probable, then, that those “without,” of whom we are speaking, having been foreseen by the Saviour, according to our supposition, as not (likely) to prove steady in their conversion,24652465    ἑωραμένους οὐ βεβαίους ἔσεσθαι ἐν τῇ ἐπιστροφῇ. if they should hear more clearly the words that were spoken, were (so) treated by the Saviour as not to hear distinctly the deeper (things of His teaching),24662466    τῶν βαθυτέρων. lest, after a rapid conversion, and after being healed by obtaining remission of sins, they should despise the wounds of their wickedness, as being slight and easy of healing, and should again speedily relapse into them.  And perhaps also, suffering punishment for their former transgressions against virtue, which they had committed when they had forsaken her, they had not yet filled up the (full) time; in order that, being abandoned by the divine superintendence, and being filled24672467    ἐπὶ πλεῖον ἐμφορηθέντας. to a greater degree by their own evils which they had sown, they may afterwards be called to a more stable repentance; so as not to be quickly entangled again in those evils in which they had formerly been involved when they treated with insolence the requirements of virtue, and devoted themselves to worse things.  Those, then, who are said to be “without” (manifestly by comparison with those “within”), not being very far from those “within,” while those “within” hear clearly, do themselves hear indistinctly, because they are addressed in parables; but nevertheless they do hear.  Others, again, of those “without,” who are called Tyrians, although it was foreknown that they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes, had the Saviour come near their borders, do not hear even those words which are heard by those “without” (being, as is probable, very far inferior in merit to those “without”24682468    ὡς εἰκὸς μᾶλλον πόρρω ὄντες τῆς ἀξίας τῶν ἔξω.), in order that at another season, after it has been more tolerable for them than for those who did not receive the word (among whom he mentioned also the Tyrians), they may, on hearing the word at a more appropriate time, obtain a more lasting repentance.  But observe whether, besides our desire to investigate (the truth), we do not rather strive to maintain an attitude of piety in everything regarding God and His Christ,24692469    εἰ μὴ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς πρὸς τῷ ἐξεταστικῷ καὶ τὸ εὐσεβὲς πάντη ἀγωνιζόμεθα τηρεῖν περι Θεοῦ, etc. seeing we endeavour by every means to prove that, in matters so great and so peculiar regarding the varied providence of God, He takes an oversight of the immortal soul.  If, indeed, one were to inquire regarding those things that are objected to, why those who saw wonders and who heard divine words are not benefited, while the Tyrians would have repented if such had been performed and spoken amongst them; and should ask, and say, Why did the Saviour proclaim such to these persons, to their own hurt, that their sin might be reckoned to them as heavier? we must say, in answer to such an one, that He who understands the dispositions24702470    διαθέσεις. of all those who find fault with His providence—(alleging) that it is owing to it that they have not believed, because it did not permit them to see what it enabled others to behold, and did not arrange for them to hear those words by which others, on hearing them, were benefited—wishing to prove that their defence is not founded on reason, He grants those advantages which those who blame His administration asked; in order that, after obtaining them, they may notwithstanding be convicted of the greatest impiety in not having even then yielded themselves to be benefited, and may cease from such audacity; and having been made free in respect to this very point, may learn that God occasionally, in conferring benefits upon certain persons, delays and procrastinates, not conferring the favour of seeing and hearing those things which, when seen and heard, would render the sin of those who did not believe, after acts so great and peculiar, heavier and more serious.

18.  Let us look next at the passage:  “So, then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”24712471    Rom. ix. 16.  For they who find fault say:  If “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” salvation does not depend upon ourselves, but upon the arrangement24722472    κατασκευῆς. made by Him who has formed24732473    κατασκευάσαντος. us such as we are, or on the purpose24742474    προαιρέσεως. of Him who showeth mercy when he pleases.  Now we must ask these persons the following questions:  Whether to desire what is good is virtuous or vicious; and whether the desire to run in order to reach the goal in the pursuit of what is good be worthy of praise or censure?  And if they shall say that it is worthy of censure, they will return an absurd answer;24752475    παρὰ τὴν ἐνάργειαν. since the saints desire and run, and manifestly in so acting do nothing that is blameworthy.  But if they shall say that it is virtuous to desire what is good, and to run after what is good, we shall ask them how a perishing nature desires better things;24762476    τὰ κρείττονα. for it is like an evil tree producing good fruit, since it is a virtuous act to desire better things.  They will give (perhaps) a third answer, that to desire and run after what is good is one of those things that are indifferent,24772477    τῶν μέσων ἐστί. and neither beautiful24782478    ἀστεῖον. nor wicked.  Now to this we must say, that if to desire and to run after what is good be a thing of indifference, then the opposite also is a thing of indifference, viz., to desire what is evil, and to run after it.  But it is not a thing of indifference to desire what is evil, and to run after it.  And therefore also, to desire what is good, and to run after it, is not a thing of indifference.  Such, then, is the defence which I think we can offer to the statement, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”24792479    Rom. ix. 16.  Solomon says in the book of Psalms (for the Song of Degrees24802480    ᾠδὴ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν. is his, from which we shall quote the words):  “Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain:”24812481    Ps. cxxvii. 1.  not dissuading us from building, nor teaching us not to keep watch in order to guard the city in our soul, but showing that what is built without God, and does not receive a guard from Him, is built in vain and watched to no purpose, because God might reasonably be entitled the Lord of the building; and the Governor of all things, the Ruler of the guard of the city.  As, then, if we were to say that such a building is not the work of the builder, but of God, and that it was not owing to the successful effort of the watcher, but of the God who is over all, that such a city suffered no injury from its enemies, we should not be wrong,24822482    οὐκ ἄν πταίοιμεν. it being understood that something also had been done by human means, but the benefit being gratefully referred to God who brought it to pass; so, seeing that the (mere) human desire is not sufficient to attain the end, and that the running of those who are, as it were, athletes, does not enable them to gain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus—for these things are accomplished with the assistance of God—it is well said that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”  As if also it were said with regard to husbandry what also is actually recorded:  “I planted, Apollos watered; and God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”24832483    1 Cor. iii. 6, 7.  Now we could not piously assert that the production of full crops was the work of the husbandman, or of him that watered, but the work of God.  So also our own perfection is brought about, not as if we ourselves did nothing;24842484    ἡ ἡμετέρα τελείωσις οὐχὶ μηδὲν ἡμῶν πραξάντων γίνεται. for it is not completed24852485    ἀπαρτίζεται. by us, but God produces the greater part of it.  And that this assertion may be more clearly believed, we shall take an illustration from the art of navigation.  For in comparison with the effect of the winds,24862486    πνοήν. and the mildness of the air,24872487    εὐκρασίαν. and the light of the stars, all co-operating in the preservation of the crew, what proportion24882488    ἀριθμόν. could the art of navigation be said to bear in the bringing of the ship into harbour?—since even the sailors themselves, from piety, do not venture to assert often that they had saved the ship, but refer all to God; not as if they had done nothing, but because what had been done by Providence was infinitely24892489    εἰς ὑπερβολὴν πολλαπλάσιον. greater than what had been effected by their art.  And in the matter of our salvation, what is done by God is infinitely greater than what is done by ourselves; and therefore, I think, is it said that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”  For if in the manner which they imagine we must explain the statement,24902490    ἐκλαμβάνειν. that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,” the commandments are superfluous; and it is in vain that Paul himself blames some for having fallen away, and approves of others as having remained upright, and enacts laws for the Churches:  it is in vain also that we give ourselves up to desire better things, and in vain also (to attempt) to run.  But it is not in vain that Paul gives such advice, censuring some and approving of others; nor in vain that we give ourselves up to the desire of better things, and to the chase after things that are pre-eminent.  They have accordingly not well explained the meaning of the passage.24912491    ἐξειλήφασι τὰ κατὰ τὸν τόπον.

19.  Besides these, there is the passage, “Both to will and to do are of God.”24922492    Cf. Phil. ii. 13.  And some assert that, if to will be of God, and to do be of God, and if, whether we will evil or do evil, these (movements) come to us from God, then, if so, we are not possessed of free-will.  But again, on the other hand, when we will better things, and do things that are more excellent,24932493    τὰ διαφέροντα. seeing that willing and doing are from God, it is not we who have done the more excellent things, but we only appeared (to perform them), while it was God that bestowed them;24942494    ἡμεῖς μὲν ἐδόξαμεν, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς ταῦτα ἐδωρήσατο. so that even in this respect we do not possess free-will.  Now to this we have to answer, that the language of the apostle does not assert that to will evil is of God, or to will good is of Him (and similarly with respect to doing better and worse); but that to will in a general24952495    τὸ καθόλου θέλειν. way, and to run in a general way, (are from Him).  For as we have from God (the property) of being living things and human beings, so also have we that of willing generally, and, so to speak, of motion in general.  And as, possessing (the property) of life and of motion, and of moving, e.g., these members, the hands or the feet, we could not rightly say24962496    εὐλόγως. that we had from God this species of motion,24972497    τὸ εἰδικὸν τόδε. whereby we moved to strike, or destroy, or take away another’s goods, but that we had received from Him simply the generic24982498    τὸ μὲν γενικὸν, τὸ κινεῖσθαι. power of motion, which we employed to better or worse purposes; so we have obtained from God (the power) of acting, in respect of our being living things, and (the power) to will from the Creator24992499    δημιουργοῦ. while we employ the power of will, as well as that of action, for the noblest objects, or the opposite.

20.  Still the declaration of the apostle will appear to drag us to the conclusion that we are not possessed of freedom of will, in which, objecting against himself, he says, “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.  Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault?  For who hath resisted His will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”25002500    Rom. ix. 18–21.  For it will be said:  If the potter of the same lump make some vessels to honour and others to dishonour, and God thus form some men for salvation and others for ruin, then salvation or ruin does not depend upon ourselves, nor are we possessed of free-will.  Now we must ask him who deals so with these passages, whether it is possible to conceive of the apostle as contradicting himself.  I presume, however, that no one will venture to say so.  If, then, the apostle does not utter contradictions, how can he, according to him who so understands him, reasonably find fault, censuring the individual at Corinth who had committed fornication, or those who had fallen away, and had not repented of the licentiousness and impurity of which they had been guilty?  And how can he bless those whom he praises as having done well, as he does the house of Onesiphorus in these words:  “The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:  but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.  The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.”25012501    2 Tim. i. 16–18.  It is not consistent for the same apostle25022502    οὐ κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν δὴ ἀπόστολόν ἐστι. to blame the sinner as worthy of censure, and to praise him who had done well as deserving of approval; and again, on the other hand, to say, as if nothing depended on ourselves, that the cause was in the Creator25032503    παρὰ την αιτίαν του δημιουργοῦ. why the one vessel was formed to honour, and the other to dishonour.  And how is this statement correct:25042504    ὑγιές.  “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,”25052505    2 Cor. v. 10. since they who have done evil have advanced to this pitch of wickedness25062506    ἐπὶ τοῦτο πράξεως. because they were created vessels unto dishonour, while they that have lived virtuously have done good because they were created from the beginning for this purpose, and became vessels unto honour?  And again, how does not the statement made elsewhere conflict with the view which these persons draw from the words which we have quoted (that it is the fault of the Creator that one vessel is in honour and another in dishonour), viz., “that in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work;”25072507    2 Tim. ii. 20, 21. for if he who purges himself becomes a vessel unto honour, and he who allows himself to remain unpurged25082508    ἀπερικάθαρτον ἑαυτον περιιδών. becomes a vessel unto dishonour, then, so far as these words are concerned, the Creator is not at all to blame.  For the Creator makes vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour, not from the beginning according to His foreknowledge,25092509    πρόγνωσιν. since He does not condemn or justify beforehand25102510    προκατακρίνει ἢ προδικαιοῖ. according to it; but (He makes) those into vessels of honour who purged themselves, and those into vessels of dishonour who allowed themselves to remain unpurged:  so that it results from older causes25112511    ἐκ πρεσβυτέρων αἰτιῶν. (which operated) in the formation of the vessels unto honour and dishonour, that one was created for the former condition, and another for the latter.  But if we once admit that there were certain older causes (at work) in the forming of a vessel unto honour, and of one unto dishonour, what absurdity is there in going back to the subject of the soul, and (in supposing) that a more ancient cause for Jacob being loved and for Esau being hated existed with respect to Jacob before his assumption of a body, and with regard to Esau before he was conceived in the womb of Rebecca?

21.  And at the same time, it is clearly shown that, as far as regards the underlying nature,25122512    ὁσον ἐπὶ τῆ ὑποκειμένῃ φύσει. as there is one (piece of) clay which is under the hands of the potter, from which piece vessels are formed unto honour and dishonour; so the one nature of every soul being in the hands of God, and, so to speak, there being (only) one lump of reasonable beings,25132513    ἑνὸς φυραμάτος τῶν λογικῶν ὑποστάσεων. certain causes of more ancient date led to some being created vessels unto honour, and others vessels unto dishonour.  But if the language of the apostle convey a censure when he says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” it teaches us that he who has confidence before God, and is faithful, and has lived virtuously, would not hear the words, “Who art thou that repliest against God?”  Such an one, e.g., as Moses was, “For Moses spake, and God answered him with a voice;”25142514    Cf. Ex. xix. 19. and as God answers Moses, so does a saint also answer God.  But he who does not possess this confidence, manifestly, either because he has lost it, or because he investigates these matters not from a love of knowledge, but from a desire to find fault,25152515    κατὰ φιλονεικίαν. and who therefore says, “Why does He yet find fault? for who hath resisted His will?” would merit the language of censure, which says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?”

Now to those who introduce different natures, and who make use of the declaration of the apostle (to support their view), the following must be our answer.  If they maintain25162516    σώζουσι. that those who perish and those who are saved are formed of one lump, and that the Creator of those who are saved is the Creator also of them who are lost, and if He is good who creates not only spiritual but also earthy (natures) (for this follows from their view), it is nevertheless possible that he who, in consequence of certain former acts of righteousness,25172517    ἐκ προτέρων τινῶν κατορθωμάτων. had now been made a vessel of honour, but who had not (afterwards) acted in a similar manner, nor done things befitting a vessel of honour, was converted in another world into a vessel of dishonour; as, on the other hand, it is possible that he who, owing to causes more ancient than the present life, was here a vessel of dishonour, may after reformation become in the new creation “a vessel of honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.”  And perhaps those who are now Israelites, not having lived worthily of their descent, will be deprived of their rank, being changed, as it were, from vessels of honour into those of dishonour; and many of the present Egyptians and Idumeans who came near to Israel, when they shall have borne fruit to a larger extent, shall enter into the Church of the Lord, being no longer accounted Egyptians and Idumeans, but becoming Israelites:  so that, according to this view, it is owing to their (varying) purposes that some advance from a worse to a better condition, and others fall from better to worse; while others, again, are preserved in a virtuous course, or ascend from good to better; and others, on the contrary, remain in a course of evil, or from bad become worse, as their wickedness flows on.

22.  But since the apostle in one place does not pretend that the becoming of a vessel unto honour or dishonour depends upon God, but refers back the whole to ourselves, saying, “If, then, a man purge himself, he will be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work;” and elsewhere does not even pretend that it is dependent upon ourselves, but appears to attribute the whole to God, saying, “The potter hath power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another to dishonour;” and as his statements are not contradictory, we must reconcile them, and extract one complete statement from both.  Neither does our own power,25182518    τὸ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν. apart from the knowledge25192519    ἐπιστήμη:  probably in the sense of πρόγνωσις. of God, compel us to make progress; nor does the knowledge of God (do so), unless we ourselves also contribute something to the good result; nor does our own power, apart from the knowledge of God, and the use of the power that worthily belongs to us,25202520    τῆς καταχρήσεως τοῦ κατ᾽ ἀξίαν τοῦ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν.  “Nec sine usu liberi nostri arbitrii, quod peculiare nobis et meriti nostri est” (Redepenning). make a man become (a vessel) unto honour or dishonour; nor does the will of God alone25212521    οὔτε τοῦ ἐπὶ τῷ Θεῷ μόνον. form a man to honour or to dishonour, unless He hold our will to be a kind of matter that admits of variation,25222522    ὕλην τινὰ διαφορας. and that inclines to a better or worse course of conduct.  And these observations are sufficient to have been made by us on the subject of free-will.


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