Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 25—Gregorius Nyssenus. A.D. 380.

Gregory, bishop of Nyssa, and brother of Basil, died A.D. 395, or 396, according to Monsieur Daille.[1] There are two volumes of his works extant, in which he sometimes[2] indeed speaks of Christ's tasting death for every one;of his reconciling the world to himself: and of his giving himself for the life of the world. But inasmuch as these scriptural expressions are capable of being understood in a sense which no ways favors the doctrine of general redemption, so they cannot be thought to hold forth explicitly this writer's sentiments upon that subject. Besides, in other places he speaks of the sufferings of Christ, and the benefits of them, as belonging to certain persons; for he not only says,[3] that Christ spilled his blood, and endured sufferings, uper hmwn, for us;but also intimates, that all this was for the sake of such as believe in him; for speaking[4] of the cluster of grapes which the spies brought from Canaan, he has these words, "The cluster hanging on the stick, what else was it, but the cluster which in the last days hung upon the tree? ou to aima poton tois pisteuousi gignetai soteriou,whose blood is become a salutary drink to them that believe." And in another[5] place he represents the church speaking after this manner to Christ, "How should I not love thee, who hast so loved me, though so black, as to lay down thy life, uper twn probatwn, for the sheep which thou feedest? Two passages are cited out of this author by Monsieur Daille,[6] as on the side of the general scheme; the first is this;[7] "The will of God is the salvation of men;" which nobody will gainsay, for certain it is, that it is owing to the good-will of God that any of the sons of men are saved; and no man would be saved God not willing his salvation. The other is this, where he makes Christ to speak thus[8] "Through the first fruits which I have assumed, I bring in myself all human nature to God the Father." But Gregory, in the place referred to, is showing in what sense Christ is called the first-born,and the first-born from the dead;and observes, that the human nature which he assumed was the first fruits of all human nature, and that in his resurrection he was the first fruits of them that slept; and suggests, that not only the resurrection of Christ is a pledge, but a kind of a representation of the general resurrection; which is what he means when he says, "that Christ brought all human nature in himself to the Father, his human nature being the first fruits of the whole." There is another passage in Gregory, which upon first sight may be thought to favor the doctrine of general redemption more than either of these; where he says[9] "that redemption signifies a return from captivity; God gave himself a ransom for those who are held under death by him that has the power of death, and seeing all were in the custody of death, he redeems all from thence by his ransom, so that not one is left under the power of death, after the redemption of every one is made; for it is not possible that any one should be, under the power of death; death itself being no more; wherefore the whole world,according to its situation, being divided into four parts, no part of it remains without the divine redemption;" and yet, I apprehend, he means no more than this, that as all mankind are subject to a corporal death, and are under the power of it, so they shall be delivered from it, or be raised from the dead in virtue of Christ's ransom; which as a benefit arising from Christ's death, some allow to all mankind, who yet are not in the general scheme.


[1] Apolog. p. 708

[2] Gregor. Nyss in Psalm 100:16, vol. i. p.363, in Cant. Homil. 7, p. 570, homil. 15, p. 697.

[3] Ibid. de Vita Mosis, p. 245.

[4] Ibid. p. 244.

[5] Gregor. Nyss. in Cant. Homil. 2, p. 498.

[6] Page 798, 799.

[7] Greg. Nyss. de Orat. Dominic. orat. 4, p. 741.

[8] Greg. Nyss. Contra Eunom. 1.1, vol. ii. p. 25.

[9] Ibid. in Ps. c. 8, p. 279.