Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter III.—Faith Not a Product of Nature.

Now the followers of Basilides regard faith as natural, as they also refer it to choice, [representing it] as finding ideas by intellectual comprehension without demonstration; while the followers of Valentinus assign faith to us, the simple, but will have it that knowledge springs up in their own selves (who are saved by nature) through the advantage of a germ of superior excellence, saying that it is as far removed from faith as 2176 the spiritual is from the animal. Further, the followers of Basilides say that faith as well as choice is proper according to every interval; and that in consequence of the supramundane selection mundane faith accompanies all nature, and that the free gift of faith is comformable to the hope of each. Faith, then, is no longer the direct result of free choice, if it is a natural advantage.

Nor will he who has not believed, not being the author [of his unbelief], meet with a due recompense; and he that has believed is not the cause [of his belief]. And the entire peculiarity and difference of belief and unbelief will not fall under either praise or censure, if we reflect rightly, since there attaches to it the antecedent natural necessity proceeding from the Almighty. And if we are pulled like inanimate things by the puppet-strings of natural powers, willingness 2177 and unwillingness, and impulse, which is the antecedent of both, are mere redundancies. And for my part, I am utterly incapable of conceiving such an animal as has its appetencies, which are moved by external causes, under the dominion of necessity. And what place is there any longer for the repentance of him who was once an unbeliever, through which comes forgiveness of sins? So that neither is baptism rational, nor the blessed seal, 2178 nor the Son, nor the Father. But God, as I think, turns out to be the distribution to men of natural powers, which has not as the foundation of salvation voluntary faith.



The text reads ἤ: but Sylb. suggests ᾑ, which we have adopted.


καὶ τὸ ἑκούσιον is supplied as required by the sense. The text has ἀκούσιον only, for which Lowth proposes to read ἑκούσιον.


Either baptism or the imposition of hands after baptism. [For an almost pontifical decision as to this whole matter, with a very just eulogy of the German (Lutheran) confirmation-office, see Bunsen, Hippol., iii. pp. 214, 369.]

Next: Chapter IV.—Faith the Foundation of All Knowledge.