Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 8—Origines Alexandrinus. A.D. 230.

Origen has many things in his writings which countenance the doctrine of the perpetuity of grace in the saints, and their final perseverance. “To me,” he says,[1] “those things seem firmer which are by grace, than those which are of the law; because those are without us, they are within us, and these consist in frail matter, so as that they may easily decay, but they are written by the Spirit of God, and being impressed in the inward chambers of the soul, firmitatem perpetuitatis obtinent, obtain the firmness of perpetuity.” Again, he observes,[2] “that the grace and gift of our Savior,” referring to John 4:10, 14, anaphairetos kai me analiskomene, mede phtheiromene, “cannot be taken, away, nor consumed, nor destroyed in him that partakes of it.” Particularly he observes, agreeably to the Scripture, that “charity, or the graces of love never fails; wherefore,” adds he[3] “the apostle being confident that he had received it entire, said, Who shall separate us from the love of God? shall tribulation, etc., for from charity never failing, were those words of his” (Rom. 8:35). In another place[4] he takes notice of a twofold light, the light of the ungodly, which will be put out, and. the light of the righteous, quae permanet in aeternum, “which abides for ever;” and then argues thus: “Our soul is enlightened either with the true light, quod nunquam extinguetur, ‘which shall never be put out,' which is Christ; or if it has not in it that light which is eternal, without doubt it is enlightened with a temporal and extinguishable light, by him who transforms himself into an angel of light.” Moreover, having observed, as before, that “charity never falls; so,” says he,[5] “the possession and house of the saints never falls, is never taken away, is never separated from their right; for how can that house be separated from the priest, which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, in which Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone?” He often argues the inexpugnableness and safety of the saints, and church of Christ, from their being built upon a foundation, and upon a rock. “The church,” he says,[6] “as the building of Christ, who builds his own house wisely upon the rock, anepidektos esti pulon adou, ‘cannot admit of the gates of hell;' which indeed prevail against every man without the rock and church, but can do nothing against it.” And a little after,[7] “No gate of hell can prevail against the rock, or the church which Christ has built upon it.” Hence he asserts, that none that belong to Christ, even the least, can ever perish, or the elect be deceived; his words are these;[8] after citing the passage in Matthew 17:10, he adds, “He that is now a little one, can neither be offended nor perish, for great peace have they which love the name of God, and nothing shall offend them. Even he that is the least of all the disciples of Christ, ouk an apoloito, cannot perish, and therefore he is great, and may say this, Who shall separate us from the love?” etc. And Elsewhere,[9] referring to Matthew 24:24, he says, “If it be possible, is a word of exaggeration; for he does not affirm, or say, that the elect also may be deceived; but would show that the words of heretics are frequently very persuasory and powerful to move even them that hear wisely.” Satan, as powerful an adversary as he is, is represented as unable to hurt and destroy those that fear the Lord. “We do not deny,” says he,[10] that there are many devils on earth; we say there are, and that they are powerful in the wicked because of their wickedness; but can do nothing to those who have put on the whole armor of God, and have received strength to stand against the wiles of the devil.” And a little after:[11] “Others, who through ignorance subject themselves to them, may suffer by them; but the Christian, the true Christian, who subjects himself to God only, and to his word, cannot suffer anything by the devils, being greater than them; and he cannot suffer or be hurt by them, because the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear him.” And a little after he adds,[12] “So that the contrary angels, nor the prince of them, who is called the prince of this world, can do nothing effectually against those who are devoted to God.” The power of sustaining the combat with our spiritual enemies, and the obtaining the victory over them, he ascribes[13] not to the power of man, but to divine grace and assistance.

I own there are some passages in the writings of this father which are not agreeable to this doctrine, though frequently suggested by him: as when he supposes[14] Judas to be a true believer, and observes,[15] that though none can pluck Christ's sheep out of the hands of God, yet they may fall out of them through their own negligence, or by setting themselves afar off from the hand of God. As also when he intimates,[16] that the Spirit of God is sometimes in the saints, and sometimes not; though this may be understood of the gifts of the Spirit, bestowed at certain times for peculiar service; or of the graces of the Spirit not being always in exercise, though in being. And in the first passage referred to by Vossius, where Origen says,[17] that the Holy Spirit is taken away from persons unworthy, and that he who is now worthy of the participation of him, and turns back, is really guilty of blasphemy against him, he is to be understood of the gifts, and not of the grace of the Spirit. His second passage is not to be met with, there being no such chapter in the book he cites. In his third reference are plain intimations of the doctrine of perseverance; he says,[18] that they, of whom the apostle says they made shipwreck of faith, were indeed called, but not justified; and observes,[19] that neither the death of the body, nor the life of sin, nor the vain glory of this world, nor the prince of the world, and other powers, though they desire and endeavor, they cannot separate any from the love of God. It is true, he adds,[20] if love is perfect, and rooted and grounded; and so it is in every true believer, as to the principle, though not as to the degree and exercise of it.


[1] In Romans 1:4, fol. 162, C.

[2] In Joan. p. 206.

[3] In Matthew hom. 23, fol. 43, A.

[4] In Jud. homil.1, fol. 177, C; et in Malt. homil. 30, fol. 60, E.

[5] In Leviticus homil. 15, fol. 91, A.

[6] In Matthew p. 276.

[7] Ibid. p. 277.

[8] Ibid. p. 33.

[9] In Matthew homil. 30, fol. 59, D.

[10] Contr. Cels. 1.8, p. 400.

[11] Ibid. p. 401.

[12] Contr. Cels. 1. 8, p. 402.

[13] In Exodus homil. 6, fol. 376; Prci Arcwn, 1. 3, c. 2, fol. 143, D, 144, D.

[14] In Joan. p. 392.

[15] In Jeremiah homil. 18. p. 166; et in Joan. p.265.

[16] In Numbers homil. 6, fol. 100, C, D, 101, E, F.

[17] Hist. Pelag. 1.6, thes. 12, p. 566.

[18] Peri Arcwn, 1. 1, c. 3, fol. 117, C, D.

[19] In Romans 1. 7, fol. 192, B.

[20] Ibid. fol. 194, A, B, C.