Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious  Grace

Section 8—Cyprian. A.D. 250.

Cyprian clearly expresses his sense of the efficacy of divine race in the sanctification of a sinner, and of the continuance of it, for the carrying on and perfecting of that work, as well as of the need the saints always stand in of the aids of it for the performance of every good work. In one of his[1] epistles he seems surprised at his own conversion, and wonders how it was possible that it should be; when he had lain in darkness, was first a stranger to light and truth, so implicated in the errors of a past life; and so obsequious to sin and vice; this he ascribes to divine grace in his second birth, which desuper lumen infudit, postquam coelitus Spiritu hausto in novum hominem reparavit, “infused light from above, and after the Spirit was derived from heaven repaired him a new man:” and then goes on to beat down all boasting in the creature, and to give the whole glory to God. In his Treaise of the Lord's Prayer, he says many things which confirm this. Upon the first clause in that prayer he makes this remark,[2] “A new man, a regenerated person, and one restored to his God, per ejus gratiam, ‘through his grace,' says, in the first place, Father, because now he begins to be a son.” And a little after,[3] “Most beloved brethren,” says he, “we ought to consider and understand not only this, that we call Father which is in heaven, but we add and say, Our Father, that is, of them that believe; of them, who being sanctified by him, et gratiae spiritualis nativitatae reparati, ‘and repaired through the birth of spiritual grace,' begin to be the children of God.” And upon the first petition Hallowed be thy name, he has this observation,[4] “Not that we should desire of God that he may be sanctified by our prayers, but that we should request of him, that his name may be sanctified in us. Moreover, by when is God sanctified, qui ipse sanetificat, ‘who himself sanctifies?' But because he says, Be ye holy, for I am holy; this we desire and ask, that we who are sanctified in baptism might persevere in that which we begin to be; and this we daily pray for, opus est enim nobis quotidiana sanctificatione, ‘for we have need of daily sanctification,' that we who daily sin, may purge away our sins by daily sanctification; which sanctification is what is bestowed upon us de Dei dignatione, through the favor of God.” And a little after, “This we ask night and day, that sanctification and vivification, quae de Dei gratia sumitur, ipsius protectione servetur, which proceed from the grace of God, might be preserved by his protection.” Upon the third petition; Thy will be done in earth, as in heaven, he has this note:[5] “We add and say this, not that God may do what he will, but that we may do what God wills; for who hath resisted God that he may not do what he will? But because we are withstood by the devil, that our minds and actions might not in all respects obey God, we pray and desire, that the will of God may be done in us; which that it may be done in us, opus est Dei voluntate, id est, ope ejus et protectione, ‘there is need of the will of God, that is, of his help and protection;' for no man is strong, suis viribus, ‘by his own strength,' but is safe through the grace and mercy of God.” And a little after, speaking of the combat between the flesh and the Spirit, he adds, “Therefore we earnestly desire, that an agreement may be made between these two, ope et auxilio Dei, ‘by the help and assistance of God;' that whilst the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul may be saved, quae per eum renata est, which is regenerated by him.” And in another treatise of his, concerning Patience, he thus speaks:[6] “This virtue we have in common with God; from hence patience begins; from hence its glory and worth take their rise; the original and greatness of patience spring Deo auctore, from God the Author.”


[1] Ep. 2, ad Donat. p. 6.

[2] De Oratione Dominica, p. 265.

[3] Ibid. p. 266.

[4] Ibid.

[5] De Oratione Dominies, p. 267.

[6] De Bono Patientiae, p. 313.