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Sola Fide in the Fathers

Clement (Epistle to the Corinthians, 31 [A.D. 98]) "For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith?" (Letter to the Corinthians, 30) "Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words."

Ignatius (Letter to the Magnesians, 5 [A.D. 110]) "Seeing then, all things have an end, there is set before us life upon our observance of God's precepts, but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life."

Polycarp (To the Phillipians, 2 [A.D. 135]) "But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness."

Justin Martyr (First Apology, 12 [A.D. 150]) "Each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions."

Shepherd of Hermas (Shepherd of Hermas, 2 Comm 7 [A.D. 155]) "They only who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God; but as to those who keep not His commandments, there is no life in them."

Clement of Alexandria (The Stromata, 6:14 [A.D. 202]) "So that when we hear, ‘Thy faith hath saved thee', we do not understand Him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow."

Origen (Commentary on John,19:6)"Whoever dies in his sins, even if he profess to believe in Christ, does not truly believe in Him, and even if that which exists without works be called faith, such faith is dead in itself, as we read in the Epistle bearing the name of James." (A.D. 232).

Hippolytus (Against Plato, 3 [A.D. 235]) "He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each what is righteous according to his works . . . the justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss."

Cyprian (On the Unity of the Church, 16 [A.D. 251]) "For both to prophesy and to cast out devils, and to do great acts upon the earth is certainly a sublime and an admirable thing; but one does not attain the kingdom of heaven although he is found in all these things, unless he walks in the observance of the right and just way . . . we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may receive their reward."

Aphrahat (Select Demonstrations, 8:21 [A.D. 345]) "And be thou instructed by that which is written, that when the Judge shall sit, and the books be opened before Him and the good and evil deeds recited, then they that have wrought good works shall receive good rewards from Him Who is good; and they that have done evil deeds shall receive evil penalties from the just Judge."

Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, 18:20 [A.D. 350]) "The past wounds therefore of soul and body God heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves, that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practising fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God; of which may God, of His own grace, deem all of you worthy."

Athanasius (Life of Antony, 33 [A.D. 362]): "For it is not productive of virtue, nor is it any token of goodness. For none of us is judged for what he knows not, and no one is called blessed because he hath learning and knowledge. But each one will be called to judgment in these points--whether he have kept the faith and truly observed the commandments."

Gregory of Nazianzen (Oration on Holy Baptism, 45 [A.D. 381]) "Then, in the tenth place, work that which is good upon this foundation of dogma; for faith without works is dead, even as are works apart from faith."

Ambrose (Duties of the Clergy, 2. 5 [A.D. 385]) "But the sacred Scriptures say that eternal life rests on a knowledge of divine things and on the fruit of good works."

John Chrysostom (Homilies on John, 31:1 [A.D. 391]) "‘Is it then enough,' saith one, ‘to believe on the Son, that one may have eternal life?' By no means . . . Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation."

Jerome (Epistle 48:6 [A.D. 393]) "Even faith, the distinguishing mark of Christians, if it have not works, is said to be dead, and on such terms as these the virgins of Vesta or of Juno, who was constant to one husband, might claim to be numbered among the saints."

Gregory of Nyssa (Homilies on Ecclesiastes, 8 [A.D. 394]) "Paul, joining righteousness to faith and weaving them together, constructs of them the breastsplates for the infantryman, armoring the soldier properly and safely on both sides. A soldier cannot be considered safely armored when either shield is disjoined from the other. For faith without works of justice is not sufficient for salvation; neither, however, is righteous living secure in itself of salvation, if it is disjoined from faith."

Augustine (A Treastise on Grace and Free Will, 18-20 [A.D. 410]) "Unintelligent persons, however, with regard to the apostle's statement: ‘We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law,' have thought him to mean that faith suffices to a man, even if he lead a bad life, and has no good works . . . This question, then, seems to me to be by no means capable of solution, unless we understand that even those good works of ours, which are recompensed with eternal life, belong to the grace of God . . . And the apostle himself, after saying, ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast;' saw, of course, the possibility that men would think from this statement that good works are not necessary to those who believe . . . To meet, therefore, these opinions on both sides, he immediately added, ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works . . . It follows, then, dearly beloved, beyond all doubt, that as your good life is nothing else than God's grace, so also the eternal life which is the recompense of a good life is the grace of God"

Catholic Tracts

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