Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 17—Gregorius Nazianzenus. A.D. 350.

Gregory of Nazianzum has several expressions in his writings which favor the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. He says,[1] “A man may possess such a habit of virtue, oste kai schedon adunaton, genesthai ten peri ta geiro poron, so as that it is almost impossible that he should be carried away to that which is evil.” And as for the grace of faith, he says,[2] “that, only of all things is analwton inexpugnable, and elsewhere,[3] for the consolation of the people of God under reproaches and afflictions, he thus expresses himself; “Are we reproached? Let us bless them that do ill. Are we spit upon? Let us study to have honor from God. Are we made to fly? Not from God, tout ouk afaireton ge twn pantwn monon, this alone of all things cannot be taken away.” With what exultation and joy does he express himself in a view of interest in Christ! “O, my Christ,” says he,[4] thou art my portion, which to have is better than to have all things else, monon bebaion ktematon kai eleutheron, this is the only firm and free possession.” Those who fall off from a profession of faith, and desert the interest of Christ and religion, he represents[5] as such “who never were sown epi ten sterean petran kai aseiston, ‘upon the firm and unshaken rock, but upon dry and barren land; these are they who come to the word in a superficial way, and are of little faith; and because they have no depth of earth, suddenly arise, and looking to please others, after a short assault of the evil one, and a little temptation and heat, are withered and die.” Vossius[6] refers to a passage in this writer[7] as militating against this doctrine; in which Gregory advises such as are cleansed “to keep themselves, lest the issue of blood should flow again, and they not be able to lay hold on Christ; and such who have been made whole to sin no more, lest a worse thing should befall them, and should appear to be evil, after having received a great and considerable benefit; and such who had heard that great voice, “Lazarus, come forth;” and were come forth, to take heed lest they die again, when it would be uncertain, whether they would be raised again until the last and common resurrection.” These expressions, it must be owned, do seem to intimate, that persons may be purged, and yet perish; be made whole, and yet lost; be quickened, and yet die again. But then they must be imputed to this author's great zeal for the good of souls, and care of them, and concern for them, and to his earnestness in cautioning of them against sin, and advising them to that which is good.


[1] Greg, Nazianzem. orat. 31, p. 508, tom. 1.

[2] Ibid. orat. 4, p. 133.

[3] Ibid. Carmen. Jambic. 21, p. 234, tom 2.

[4] Ibid. p. 252.

[5] Ibid. orat. 3, p. 53, tom. 1.

[6] Hist. Pelag. 1. 6, thes. 12, p. 566.

[7] Orat. 40, p. 662, tom. 1.