Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Neither the Builder nor the Watcher, but God

Continuing my posts of patristic texts coinciding with this Sunday’s Psalm study.

Solomon says in the book of Psalms (for the Song of Degrees is his, from which we shall quote the words):
Unless the Lᴏʀᴅ builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lᴏʀᴅ watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.” [Ps 127:1]
not dissuading us from building, nor teaching us not to keep watch in order to guard the city in our soul, but showing that what is built without God, and does not receive a guard from Him, is built in vain and watched to no purpose, because God might reasonably be entitled the Lord of the building; and the Governor of all things, the Ruler of the guard of the city.   As, then, if we were to say that such a building is not the work of the builder, but of God, and that it was not owing to the successful effort of the watcher, but of the God who is over all, that such a city suffered no injury from its enemies, we should not be wrong, it being understood that something also had been done by human means, but the benefit being gratefully referred to God who brought it to pass.  So, seeing that mere human desire is not sufficient to attain the end, and that the running of those who are, as it were, athletes, does not enable them to gain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus—for these things are accomplished with the assistance of God—it is well said that “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.” [Rom 9:16]  As if also it were said with regard to husbandry what also is actually recorded: “I planted, Apollos watered; and God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.” [1 Co 3:6-7]

Origen, On the Freedom of the Will, 18

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