Thursday of the Second week of Easter
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life"
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-c.208), Bishop, theologian and martyr
Against the heresies, IV, 37
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life"
God made man a free agent... to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by God's compulsion. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will towards us that is present with him continually. In man, as well as in angels, he has placed the power of choice... And not merely in works, but also in faith, God has preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying: “According to your faith be it done unto you” (Mt 9,29). Thus he shows that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since since it arises out of his personal decision. And again: “All things are possible to him that believes” (Mk 9,23), and, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done unto you” (Mt 8,13). Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason: “He that believes in Him has eternal life while he who believes not the Son has not eternal life” (Jn 3,36)...
But he should not, people say, have created angels of such a nature that they were capable of transgression, nor men who immediately proved ungrateful towards him; for they were made rational beings, endowed with the power of examining and judging, and were not formed as irrational things or of a merely animal nature... But upon this supposition, the good would have no attraction for them, nor communion with God be precious. What is good would not be very much be sought after since it would present itself without their own proper endeavor... The good would be implanted in them of its own accord and without their concern... If men were good by nature rather than by will, they would not understand this fact, that good is a comely thing, nor would they take pleasure in it. For how can those who are ignorant of good enjoy it? Or what credit is it to those who have not aimed at it? And what crown is it to those who have not followed in pursuit of it?... The harder we strive, so much the more valuable it is; while so much the more valuable it is, so much the more we will esteem it.
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