Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious  Grace

Section 10—Athanasius. A.D. 350.

Athanasius acknowledges the necessity of divine grace, and the efficacy of it in sanctification, when he says,[1] “As the Son, the giver of the Spirit, does not disdain to say, that as man he cast out devils by the Spirit; so likewise the same being the giver of the Spirit, disdains not to say, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me, with respect to his being made flesh, as John says; that he might show that we are in both respects such, oi kai en to agiazesthai deomenoi tes tou Pneumatos charitos, who in sanctification stand in need of the grace of the Spirit; and also are not able to cast out devils without the power of the Spirit.” And a little after, “So likewise David shows, oti ouk an allos metegomen tou Pneuatos kai egiasthemen, ‘that we could otherwise partake of the Spirit, and be sanctified,' unless the Word himself, the giver of the Spirit, had said, that he would be anointed by the Spirit for us.” And in another place he argues after this manner, in favor of the Deity of Christ;[2] “Otherwise, if the Son was a creature, there being one and the same nature of rational creatures, no help could be given to a creature by a creature, dia to pantas deisthai tes para Theou charitos, inasmuch as all stand in need of the grace of God.” That the image of God, imparted to man, and whatsoever holiness he has, is not from nature, but is owing to the grace and power of God, is owned by him, when he observes,[3] that “God being good, hath imparted his image, our Lord Jesus Christ, to men; and hath made them according to his image and likeness, that they, dia tes toiautes charitos, ‘through such grace,' understanding the image, the Word of the Father, might be able, through him, to receive the knowledge of the Father; and so knowing the Creator might live a truly happy and blessed life.” And elsewhere he says of Christ,[4] that “he only is the true and natural image of the Father; for though we are made again after his image, and are called the glory and image of God, all' ou di' eautous, ‘but not because of ourselves; but because that the true image and glory of God, which is the Word of God, dwells in us, who being at last made flesh for us, tautes tes kleseos echomen ten charin, we have the grace of this vocation.” And much to the same purpose he says in another place,[5] “We are made sons, but not as he, by nature, and in truth, ella kata charin tou kalesantos, but according to the grace of him that calleth.” And men, who are of the earth, are called gods, but not as the true God, or his Word, but as God pleases, who gives this, that is grace, to them. So likewise we are made merciful as God, but not equal to him, oude phusi, kai alethinoi euergetai ginomenoi, ou gar emon eurema euergetein, alla tou Theou eis emas kata charin ginomenon, nor by nature, or true benefactors, are we made; nor is it our invention to do well; but this is according to the grace of God to usward.” That sanctification is a creation work, and so a work of almighty power, is asserted by him, when having mentioned these words, Except a man be born again, he says, “not hereby signifying generation by women, but showing, that the soul is regenerated, kai anaktizomenen, and created again according to his image, the image of God.” And especially in these words,[6] “Every intelligent hearer knows, that to sanctify is to create: when we hear, Create in me a clean heart, O God! what else do we understand but this, Sanctify a clean heart in me, O God?” And a little after, “To create is the work of God, but it is not greater than to sanctify, for it is written, Holy Father, sanctify them through try truth.” Yea, he adds, that “to sanctify is greater than to create.” This last passage is indeed cited from a tract which is thought[7] by some learned men not to be the work of Athanasius, but of Maximus, who lived many years after him. Theodore Beza, who has given us a Latin translation of the whole, says,[8] that in the margin of the first dialogue, in the copy he made use of, were written by another hand these words, “Some say this present dialogue is Athanasius's, others that it is Maximus's;” however, since not only these dialogues are allowed by all to be pious, learned, and worthy to be read, but also by Beza said to have nothing in them unworthy of Athanasius, or unsuitable to his times, I have ventured to make the above citation from them.


[1] Athanas. contr. Arian. orat. 2, vol. 1:p. 257.

[2] Ibid. 3, p. 412.

[3] De Incarnat. Verbi Dei, p. 63, 64.

[4] Contr. Arian. orat. 4, p. 463, 472.

[5] De Incarn. p. 66.

[6] De S. Trinirate, dialog 3, vol. 2. p. 232.

[7] Vide Rivet. Critic. Sacr. 1. 3, c. 6, p. 254, 255.

[8] Praefat. p. 137, ed. Commelin.