Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 18—Gregorius Nyssenus. A.D. 380.

Gregory of Nyssa gives plain intimations of the security of the saints, and the perpetuity of grace where it is once implanted. Having taken notice of Balaam's being sent for to curse Israel, which he was not able to do, he makes this remark on it;[1] “Hence we understand that no enchantment is effectual against those who live virtuously; but such being satiated through divine assistance, pases uperischuein epiboules, prevail over every snare.” And in another place he observes,[2] that “the earth first apostatized through sin, but now, through the knowledge of God has a firm standing; we are all God's earth, who were first unstable in that which is good, and therefore became a curse; but afterwards, being delivered from the curse, we again obtain a standing in that which is good.” And a little after, he makes this observation on Psalm 47:1, “Beautifully he calls the souls of them that show to edraion to kai ametatheton, ‘firmness and immoveableness in temptations, isles;' whom the salt waters of wickedness surround on every side, and yet dash not against them with so much strength os kai salon tina to pagio tes aretes empoiesai, as to cause any fluctuation in the firmness of virtue.” Psalm 52:8, he explains of such an one[3] “that is rooted in the house of God as a fruitful olive tree, kai to edraion to kai ametakineton tou kata ten pistin stereomatos en eauto bebaiosas, and has the firm and immoveable ground of faith established in himself.” He more than once represents the grace of faith as permanent and lasting. The good of the sons of men, which Solomon desired to see, he says,[4] “appears to him to be no other than the work of faith, whose energy is common to all; being equally set before them that will, and is pantodunamos kai diarkos to zoe paramenousa, all-powerful, and abides in life continually.” And elsewhere,[5] speaking of the saints' spiritual armor, among other things he observes, that “the shield, which is a piece of armor that covers, is, e arrages pistis, faith that cannot be broken.” He says the same of all other graces: explaining the beams of the house in Song of Solomon 1:17, “These,” says he,[6] “should be the virtues, which do not admit the floods of temptations within themselves, sterrai to ousai kai anendotoi ‘being firm, solid, and not giving way,' and preserve in temptations from being softened into wickedness.” And in another place,[7] says he, “He describes the house of virtue whose matter for covering is cedar and cypress, which are not susceptible of rottenness and corruption; by which he expresses to monimon to kai ametabeton tes pros to agathon scheseos, the permanency and immutability of the habit to that which is good.” Now all this he ascribes, not to the saints themselves, but to God; he observes,[8] that “David says, Theou ergon to en eusebeia kratunein ton anthropon, ‘it is the work of God to confirm a man in piety;' for thou art my strength and my refuge, says the prophet, and the Lord is the strength of his people; and, the Lord will give strength unto his people.”


[1] Greg. Nyssen. de Viis Mosis, vol.1 p. 250.

[2] Ibid. in Psalm 100:9, p. 316.

[3] Ibid. c. 13, p. 339

[4] Ibid. in Ecclesiastes homil, 2, p. 395.

[5] Ibid. 8, p. 463.

[6] Ibid. in Cant. homil. 4, p. 523.

[7] Ibid. homil. 6, p. 557.

[8] Gregor. contr. Eunom. orat. 1, p. 68, vol 2.