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Chapter XIV.

That the help of God is given to those who labour.10521052    The language in this chapter is perilously near semi-Pelagianism, on which compare the Introduction p. 190, sq.

Nor do I say this to cast a slight on human efforts, or in the endeavour to discourage any one from his purpose of working and doing his best. But clearly and most earnestly do I lay down, not giving my own opinion, but that of the elders, that perfection cannot possibly be gained without these, but that by these only without the grace of God nobody can ever attain it. For when we say that human efforts cannot of themselves secure it without the aid of God, we thus insist that God’s mercy and grace are bestowed only upon those who labour and exert themselves, and are granted (to use the Apostle’s expression) to them that “will” and “run,” according to that which is sung in the person of God in the eighty-eighth Psalm: “I have laid help upon one that is mighty, and have exalted one chosen out of my people.”10531053    Ps. lxxxviii. (lxxxix.) 20. For we say, in accordance with 284our Saviour’s words, that it is given to them that ask, and opened to them that knock and found by them that seek;10541054    S. Matt. vii. 7. but that the asking, the seeking, and the knocking on our part are insufficient unless the mercy of God gives what we ask, and opens that at which we knock, and enables us to find that which we seek. For He is at hand to bestow all these things, if only the opportunity is given to Him by our good will. For He desires and looks for our perfection and salvation far more than we do ourselves. And the blessed David knew so well that by his own efforts he could not secure the increase of his work and labour, that he entreated with renewed prayers that he might obtain the “direction” of his work from the Lord, saying, “Direct thou the work of our hands over us; yea, the work of our hands do thou direct;”10551055    Ps. lxxxix. (xc.) 17. and again: “Confirm, O God, what thou hast wrought in us.”10561056    Ps. lxvii. (lxiii.) 29.

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