The
CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

Section 20—Ambrosius Mediolanensis. A.D. 380.


Ambrose, of Milain, says many things in favor of the saints' perseverance; he speaks of it as a thing certain, and not at all to be doubted of. “There is nothing,” says he,[1] “we may fear can be denied us, nothing in which we ought to doubt of the continuance of divine goodness; the abundance of which has been so daily and constant, as that first he should predestinate, then call, and whom he calls he justifies, and whom he justifies them he also glorifies. Can he forsake those, whom he follows with such benefits of his own, even unto rewards? Among so many blessings of God, are the snares of the accuser to be feared? But who dare accuse them, who in the judgment are counted the elect? Can God the Father himself rescind his own gifts, who has bestowed them, and banish them from the grace of paternal affection, whom he, by adoption, has received? But it is feared, lest the judge should be more severe. Consider what judge thou must have; the Father hath given all judgment to Christ. ‘Can he damn them whom he has redeemed from death?' For whom he offered himself whose life, he knows, is the reward of his own death?” And in another place he observes,[2] that “many waters cannot quench love; so that thy love cannot be lessened by any persecution, which many waters cannot exclude, nor floods overflow. Whence is this? Consider that thou hast received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety the spirit of holy fear; and keep what thou hast received. God the Father hath sealed thee; Christ the Lord hath confirmed thee, and hath given the pledge of the Spirit in thine heart.” Again he says:[3] “The righteous man falls sometimes, but if he is righteous, though he falls he shall not be confounded. What is of nature falls, what is of righteousness rises again; for God does not forsake the righteous, but confirms his hands.” And in another place,[4] “His (the good man's) soul does not perish for ever; neither does any one snatch it out of the hand of the Almighty, Father or Son; for the hand of God, that established the heavens, quos tenuerit non admittit, does not lose whom it holds.” Faith he not only represents as firm itself, but says,[5] that it is the stable foundation of all virtues; and speaks of grace in general as perpetual. “This,” says he,[6] “Is the alone possession, which being obnoxious to no tempests, brings forth the fruit of perpetual grace.” And though the church of Christ, saints, righteous ones, true believers, are liable to many afflictions, temptations, and trials, yet he intimates that he shall be preserved in the midst of all. “Zebulon shall dwell by the sea,” he observes,[7] “that he may see the shipwrecks of others, whilst he himself is free from danger; and behold others fluctuating in the straits of this world, who are carried about with every wind of doctrine, whilst he perseveres immoveable in the root of faith; as the holy church is rooted and founded in faith; beholding the storms of heretics, and shipwrecks of Jews, because they have denied the governor they had.” And in another place,[8] daily, it is not dashed against the rock, nor sunk to the bottom. ‘Again,[9] “The soul, which deserves to be called the temple of God, or the church, is beaten with the floods of worldly cares, but not overturned; it is stricken, but not destroyed.” One, more,[10] “The righteous, placed in the house of God, tried ‘by worldly afflictions, but not estranged from the house of God, and from the keeping of the heavenly commands.” All which preservation from evil, and continuance from grace he ascribes not to the power of man, the grace of God. “Perseverance,” says he,[11] “is neither of man that willeth or runneth; non est enim in hominis potestate, ‘for it is not in the power of man,' but it is of God that showeth mercy, that thou canst fulfill what thou hast begun.” There are many other passages[12] which countenance this doctrine I forbear to transcribe.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Do Jacob. 1. 1, c. 6, p. 317.

[2] De Initand. c. 7, p. 349.

[3] Enarrat. in Psalm 36, p. 700.

[4] In Psalm 119. Nun, p. 1002.

[5] In Psalm 40 p. 753.

[6] De Cain et Abel, 1. 2, c. 3, p. 154.

[7] De Benedict. Patriarch, c. 5, p. 408.

[8] Do Salomone, c. 4, p. 1093.

[9] De Araham. 1. 2, c. 3, p. 247.

[10] Ibid. c. 5, p. 249.

[11] In Psalm 119. Jod, p. 963.

[12] Vide Enarrat. in Psalm 40 p. 762; in Psalm 43, p. 790; in Psalm 119 Daleth, p. 903; in Proverbs c. 31, cap. 3, p. 1099.