Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 27—Joannes Chrysostomus. A.D. 390.

Chrysostom, though, he has been thought too much to favor the Pelagian scheme, yet clearly asserts the condemnation of all mankind for Adam's sin; the corruption and weakness of human nature; the slavery man is in by sin, and the necessity of divine grace to his, deliverance. “If,” says he,[1] “a Jew should say to thee, How can the world be saved through one Christ doing well? you may reply to him, Pos enos parakousantos tou Adam e oikoumene katekrithe, ‘How could the world be condemned through one Adam sinning?” Again:[2] “What is the meaning of that, in whom all have sinned? he falling, they also who do not eat of the tree, gegonasin ex ekeinou pantes thnetoi, all become mortal through him.” Some have observed, that Chrysostom's sense of original sin was this, that our bodies only are become by it, but that our souls receive no on account of it; but the contrary by what follows, “for along with death” he says,[3] kai o ton pathos epeitelthen ochthos, ‘a multitude of affections also entered in; for when the body became mortal, it necessarily received lust, anger, grief, and all the rest.” And in another place he observes,[4] “that before the coming of Christ, our body was easily overcome by sin; for with death, kai polus pathon epeiselthen esmos, likewise a vast swarm of the affections came in;' wherefore neither was it very light to run the race of virtue, neither was the Spirit present to help, nor baptism, which is able to mortify; all' osper tis ippos duoenios, but ‘as an unbridled horse,' it ran, and frequently went astray; the law indeed showing, what was to be done, and what not, but brought in nothing besides a verbal exhortation to them that strove; but after Christ came, the combats were made more easy; wherefore greater ones are set before ,us, as being partakers of greater help.” Once more[5] “When Adam sinned, his body became mortal and passible, and received many natural vices; kai baruteros kai dusenios o ippos kateste, ‘and the horse became more heavy and unbridled;' but when Christ came, he made it lighter for us by baptism; en to ptero diegeiron tou Pneumatos, raising it up with the wings of the Spirit.” Moreover he says,[6] when sin entered, elumenato ten eleutherian, “it destroyed the freedom and corrupted the privilege of nature, which was given, kai ten douleian epeisegagen, and introduced slavery.” And in another place,[7] “We ourselves were weak, but by grace are made strong.” “Nor is it of human strength,” says he,[8] “that we are delivered from all these things, but the grace of God, who will and can do such things. And that you may know that it is not from their good will alone, alla kai tes tou Theou charitos to pan gegonen, ‘but that the whole is done by the grace of God;' he says, ‘ Ye have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine into which ye were delivered;' for obedience from the heart shows free will; and to be delivered, ten tou Theou boetheian ainittetai, intimates the help of God.” And though he frequently asserts free will, yet, such as it is after the grace of God is bestowed; “he has left,” says he,[9] “all in our free will, peta ten anothen charin, after the grace which is from above.” And elsewhere he asserts, that all evil things are from our will only,[10] and all good things, from our will, kai tes autouropes, “and his impulse.” Chrysostom has indeed been blamed by many writers, both Papists and Protestants, for too highly extolling the power of man's free will; and particularly our Bradwardine[11] not only says, that he approached near Pelagius, but said the same he does: and it must be owned, that there are many of his expressions which look this way, some of which Dr. Whitby[12] has cited, and more might be; but then, as Vossius observes,[13] it should be considered, that when he extols the power of man, he does not speak of it as without, but with and under the grace of God; and it is worthy of notice, that the same writer remarks,[14] ‘that when Chrysostom, being in exile, and near to his death, heard of Pelagius' fall into error, he lamented it in these words: “I am exceedingly grieved for Pelagius the monk: consider therefore what account they are worthy of, who bravely stand, when men who have lived with so much exercise and constancy appear to be so drawn away.”


[1] Homil. 10, in Romans tom. 3. p. 72.

[2] Ibid. p. 71.

[3] Ibid. 13, p. 99.

[4] Ibid. 11, p. 82.

[5] Ibid. 12, p. 91.

[6] In Genesis homil. 29, tom. 1. p. 233.

[7] In Romans homil. 27, p. 213.

[8] Ibid. 11, p. 83.

[9] In Genesis homil. 22, p. 155.

[10] In 2 Timothy homil. 8, tom. 4. p. 368.

[11] De Causa Dei, 1. 2, c. 36, p. 605.

[12] Discourse, etc. p. 92, 347, 378, 382; ed. 2. 96, 337, 369, 372.

[13] Hist. Pelag. 1. 4, par. 2, p. 441.

[14] Ibid. 1. 1, c. 3, p. 5.