Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 20—Basilius Caesariensis. A.D. 370.

Basil of Caesarea very clearly asserts the doctrine of original sin: “No man,” says he,[1] “can be found pure from filth, though he has been born but one day.” Again,[2] “The rose is florid, but it puts shame and sorrow in me; for as often as I see that flower, tea amartias upomimneskomai tes emes, ‘I am put in mind of my sin,' for which the earth is condemned' to bring forth thorns and thistles.” And in another place:[3] “I was indeed,” says he, “fair by nature, but am now weak, because I am dead in sin, ex epiboules tou opheos, through the snare of the serpent.” Wherefore, in the same place, he observes, that “beauty may come to the soul, and a power effectually perfective, of those things which are necessary, theias eis touto charitos chrezomen, for this we need divine grace.” Agreeable to this he says,[4] “We may understand those words, “they that trust in their power, and boast of the multitude of their riches,” of the powers of the soul, os ouk autotelous ouses ou di' autes pros soterian, as being by no means sufficient of themselves to salvation.” And elsewhere he observes,[5] that spiritual and enlightened souls “know how impossible it is, by their own strength, to overcome the stumbling-blocks of the evil one, all' ek tea aettetou duvameos tou Theou, ‘but by the insuperable power of God;' but they who are not honored with God's word, are vainly puffed up,' and think that, by their own free will, they can make void the occasions of sin, which is abolished only by the mystery of the cross.” And a little after: “Human nature, without the whole armor of the Holy Spirit, cannot resist the wiles of the devil.” As for free will, he says,[6] “the power and liberty of it is the beginning and root of sin.” And in another place he affirms,[7] that “every human soul is subject to ponero tes douleias zugei, ‘to the evil yoke of bondage of the common enemy of all,' and being deprived of the liberty it had from its Creator, is led captive by sin.”

Dr. Whitby[8] cites two or three passages from Basil in favor of free will, out of a commentary on Isaiah, ascribed to him;[9] but it is thought by learned men to be none of his, and therefore deserves no regard.


[1] Homil. in Psalm 32, p. 202, vol. 1.

[2] Ibid. 30, de Paradiso, p. 626; vide etiam Hexaem.; Ibid. 5, p. 61, et concio, 8, de Peccata, p. 61, append.

[3] In Psalm 29. p. 193.

[4] Ibid. 481, p. 279.

[5] De Libero Arbitrio, p. 631.

[6] Homil. quod Deus non est auctor mali, p. 422.

[7] In Psalm 48, p. 279.

[8] Discourse, p. 97, 388; ed. 2. 96, 370. Postscript. p. 561, 562; ed. 2. 538, 539.

[9] Vide Rivet. Crit. Sacr. 1.3, c. 20, 307.