Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 15—Hilarius Pictaviensis. A.D. 350.

Hilary of Poictiers says many things which favor the doctrine of the saints' perseverance: he often speaks of faith as invincible and immoveable. “This is the mystery of divine revelation,” says he,[1] “not only to say, but also to believe, that Christ is the Son of God: —this faith is the foundation of the church, through this faith the gates of hell against it are weak.” Again,[2] “When he (Christ) asked Martha, praying for Lazarus, whether she believed that those that believed in him should never die; she spake out the faith of her own conscience, saying, Yea, Lord, I believe, etc. Confessio haec aeternitas est et fides ista non moritur, this confession is eternity, and this faith dies not.” In another place he says,[3] “We do not depend on uncertain and idle hopes, as mariners, who, sometimes sailing rather, by wishes than in confidence, the wandering and unstable either drive or leave; but we have insuperabilis fidel spiritus dono unigeniti Dei permanens, “the insuperable spirit of faith, through the gift of the only begotten of God,' abiding, and leading us by an unalterable course to the quiet haven.” Much the same he says of hope as he does of faith: “By him (Christ), he observes,[4] “we are brought into the hope of eternity, and in this hope we are not confounded; because this same hope, nobis fortitudinis turris est facta, ‘is made unto us a tower of strength.' Through this hope we sustain the force of the devil and his snares, being hedged about tutissima fidei munitione, ‘with the most safe munition of faith,' against him and his spiritual wickednesses.” Hence he represents the case of believers to be such, that there need be no hesitation about enjoying eternal happiness. “The kingdom of heaven,” says he,[5] “which the prophets declared, John preached, our Lord professed was in himself, he wills should be hoped for, sine aliqua incertae voluntatis ambiguitate, ‘ without any doubtfulness of an uncertain will,' otherwise there is no justification by faith, if faith itself should he doubtful;” for, as he observes a little after, “In the sayings of God is truth, and all the efficiency of created things is in the Word; wherefore neither what he has promised is doubtful, nor what he speaks is ineffectual.” He further intimates, that such as are built upon the foundation, Christ, can never be moved or perish. Commenting on Matthew 7:24, he says,[6] “By the which the Lord makes himself the strong foundation of a high building, and that he who from him grows up into a sublime work, cannot be moved, either by rains, or floods, or wind; by rains, he means the allurements of flattering pleasures, and which sensibly slide into the open chinks, whereby faith is first made wet; after that, a run of torrents, that is, of motion, of grievous lusts, rush in; and then the whole force of the winds blowing about, rages; namely, the whole breath of devilish power is brought in; but the man built upon the foundation of the rock, insistet, nec moveri loco suo poterit, will stand, nor can he be moved out of his own place.” Again, he says,[7] “A house reared up by men's works does not abide; nor does that stand which is instituted by the doctrines of the world; nor will it be kept by the empty labor of our care; it is to be built up other ways, it is other ways to be kept: it is not to be begun upon the earth, nor upon the fluid sliding sand, but its foundation is to be laid upon the prophets and apostles; it is to be increased with living stones; it is to be held together by the cornerstone; it is to be built up by the increase of mutual connection, into a perfect man, and into the measure of the body of Christ: and also to be adorned with the form and beauty of spiritual grace; this house, so built by God, that is, by his doctrines, non concidet, shall not fall.” On these words, the Lord keepeth them that love him, he has this note,[8] “He will save by keeping them, that is, by reserving them to be partakers of the everlasting kingdom; but they are those who will fear, pray, and. love.” Once more, he observes,[9] that “this is the constitution of invariable truth, in the beginning of the words of God is truth, that the new man, regenerated in Christ, vicat deinceps aeternus, ‘may henceforth live eternal,' according to the image of the eternal God, that is of the heavenly Adam.”


[1] De Trinitate 1.6. p. 74.

[2] Ibid. p. 78.

[3] Ibid. 1. 12, p. 182.

[4] Enarr. in Psalm 60 p. 399, 400.

[5] Comment. in Matthew can. 5, p. 261, 262.

[6] Comment. in Matthew can. 6, p. 266.

[7] Enarr. in Psalm 124 p. 550.

[8] In Psalm 144 p. 638.

[9] In Psalm 119. Res, p. 519, 520.