Writings of Augustine. A Treatise on Nature and Grace.
In the following year Augustin despatched this work, along with
Pelagius' own book, to John, bishop of Jerusalem, in order that that
prelate might at length become acquainted with the views of the new
heresiarch, accompanying the books with a letter to the bishop
[179th]. In the course of this year 416, he had the same two treatises
(his own and Pelagius') forwarded to Pope Innocent, with a letter
[177th] sent in the name of five bishops, to which Innocent returned
an answer [183d]. It may be here stated, that in this last-mentioned
letter [183, n. 5], and in the foregoing epistle [177, n. 6], there is
honourable mention made of Timasius and Jacobus, as "conscientious and
honourable young men, servants of God, who had relinquished the hope
which they had in the world, and continued diligently to serve God."
The same persons are described in another epistle [179, n. 2] as
"young men of very honourable birth, and highly educated;" and in the
work On the Proceedings of Pelagius, ch. xxiii. No. 47, they are
called "servants of God, good, and honourable men."
Augustin and the Pelagian Controversy.
A Treatise on Nature and Grace.
Extract from Augustin's "Retractations," Book II. Chap. 42,
On the Following Treatise, "De natura et gratia."
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff,
New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
"At that time also there came into my hands a certain book of
Pelagius', in which he defends, with all the argumentative skill he
could muster, the nature of man, in opposition to the grace of God
whereby the unrighteous is justified and we become Christians. The
treatise which contains my reply to him, and in which I defend grace,
not indeed as in opposition to nature, but as that which liberates and
controls nature, I have entitled On Nature and Grace. In this work
sundry short passages, which were quoted by Pelagius as the words of
the Roman bishop and martyr, Xystus, were vindicated by myself 
as if they really were the words of this Sixtus. For this I thought
them at the time; but I afterwards discovered, that Sextus the heathen
philosopher, and not Xystus the Christian bishop, was their author.
This treatise of mine begins with the words: `The book which you sent
 In chap. 77.
Note on the Following Work.
In a letter (169th  ) to Evodius, written in the course of the
year A.D. 415, Augustin assigned to this work, On Nature and Grace,
the last place of several treatises written in that year. "I have also
written," says he, "an extensive book in opposition to the heresy of
Pelagius, at the request of some brethren, whom he had persuaded to
accept a very pernicious opinion against the grace of Christ." The
work had been begun, but was not completed, when Orosius sailed from
Africa to Palestine, in the spring of this year of 415; for, shortly
after his arrival there, at a council in Jerusalem, where Pelagius was
present, he expressly affirmed, "that the blessed Augustin had
prepared a very complete answer to Pelagius' book, two of whose
followers had presented the work to him, and requested him to reply to
it." Jerome, also, at this time mentioned a certain production of
Augustin's, which he had not yet seen, wherein it was said that he had
expressly opposed Pelagius. His words, which occur in his third
dialogue against the heresy of Pelagius, are these: "It is said that
he is preparing other treatises likewise, especially against your
name." Augustin, however, did not actually employ in this work of his
the name of Pelagius, whose book he was refuting, in order that (as he
says in his letter [186th] to Paulinus) he might not by personal
irritation drive him into a more incurable degree of opposition; for
he hoped to be of some service to his opponent, if by still
maintaining friendly terms with him he might be able to spare his
feelings, although he could not in duty show leniency to his writings.
Thus, at least, he expresses his mind, in his book On the Proceedings
of Pelagius, ch. xxiii. No. 47. In this latter passage he subjoins a
letter which he had received from Timasius and Jacobus, containing the
expression of great gratitude to Augustin on receiving his volume On
Nature and Grace, in which they expressed "their agreeable surprise"
at the answers he had furnished to them "on every point" of the
Julianus [who espoused the side of Pelagius], in his work addressed to
Florus (book iv. n. 112, of the Imperfect Work),  quotes this
treatise of Augustin's as addressed to Timasius, and calumniously
pronounces it to be written "against free will."
 See vol. i. p. 543.
 [i.e., the work of Augustin against Julianus, which was left
incomplete at his death, and hence is called the Imperfect Work.--W.]
A Treatise on Nature and Grace, Against Pelagius;
by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;
Contained in One Book, addressed to timasius and jacobus.
written in the year of our lord 415.
He begins with a statement of what is to be investigated concerning
nature and grace; he shows that nature, as propagated from the flesh
of the sinful Adam, being no longer what God made it at
first,--faultless and sound,--requires the aid of grace, in order that
it may be redeemed from the wrath of God and regulated for the
perfection of righteousness: that the penal fault of nature leads to a
most righteous retribution: whilst grace itself is not rendered to any
deserts of ours, but is given gratuitously; and they who are not
delivered by it are justly condemned. He afterwards refutes, with
answers on every several point, a work by Pelagius, who supports this
self-same nature in opposition to grace; among other things
especially, in his desire to recommend the opinion that a man can live
without sin, he contended that nature had not been weakened and
changed by sin; for, otherwise, the matter of sin (which he thinks
absurd) would be its punishment, if the sinner were weakened to such a
degree that he committed more sin. He goes on to enumerate sundry
righteous men both of the Old and of the New Testaments: deeming these
to have been free from sin, he alleged the possibility of not sinning
to be inherent in man; and this he attributed to God's grace, on the
ground that God is the author of that nature in which is inseparably
inherent this possibility of avoiding sin. Towards the end of this
treatise there is an examination of sundry extracts from old writers,
which Pelagius adduced in support of his views, and expressly from
Hilary, Ambrose, and even Augustin himself.
Chapter 1 [I.]--The Occasion of Publishing This Work; What God's
The book which you sent to me, my beloved sons, Timasius and Jacobus,
I have read through hastily, but not indifferently, omitting only the
few points which are plain enough to everybody; and I saw in it a man
inflamed with most ardent zeal against those, who, when in their sins
they ought to censure human will, are more forward in accusing the
nature of men, and thereby endeavour to excuse themselves. He shows
too great a fire against this evil, which even authors of secular
literature have severely censured with the exclamation: "The human
race falsely complains of its own nature!"  This same sentiment
your author also has strongly insisted upon, with all the powers of
his talent. I fear, however, that he will chiefly help those "who have
a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge," who, "being ignorant
of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of
God."  Now, what the righteousness of God is, which is spoken of
here, he immediately afterwards explains by adding: "For Christ is the
end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." 
This righteousness of God, therefore, lies not in the commandment of
the law, which excites fear, but in the aid afforded by the grace of
Christ, to which alone the fear of the law, as of a schoolmaster,
 usefully conducts. Now, the man who understands this
understands why he is a Christian. For "If righteousness came by the
law, then Christ is dead in vain."  If, however He did not die
in vain, in Him only is the ungodly man justified, and to him, on
believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, faith is reckoned for
righteousness.  For all men have sinned and come short of the
glory of God, being justified freely by His blood.  But all
those who do not think themselves to belong to the "all who have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God," have of course no need to
become Christians, because "they that be whole need not a physician,
but they that are sick;"  whence it is, that He came not to call
the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 
 See Sallust's Prologue to his Jugurtha.
 Rom. x. 2, 3.
 Rom. x. 4.
 Gal. iii. 24.
 Gal. ii. 21.
 Rom. iv. 5.
 Rom. iii. 23, 24.
 Matt. ix. 12.
 Matt. ix. 13.
Chapter 2 [II.]--Faith in Christ Not Necessary to Salvation, If a Man
Without It Can Lead a Righteous Life.
Therefore the nature of the human race, generated from the flesh of
the one transgressor, if it is self-sufficient for fulfilling the law
and for perfecting righteousness, ought to be sure of its reward, that
is, of everlasting life, even if in any nation or at any former time
faith in the blood of Christ was unknown to it. For God is not so
unjust as to defraud righteous persons of the reward of righteousness,
because there has not been announced to them the mystery of Christ's
divinity and humanity, which was manifested in the flesh.  For
how could they believe what they had not heard of; or how could they
hear without a preacher?  For "faith cometh by hearing, and
hearing by the word of Christ." But I say (adds he): Have they not
heard? "Yea, verily; their sound went out into all the earth, and
their words unto the ends of the world."  Before, however, all
this had been accomplished, before the actual preaching of the gospel
reaches the ends of all the earth--because there are some remote
nations still (although it is said they are very few) to whom the
preached gospel has not found its way,--what must human nature do, or
what has it done--for it had either not heard that all this was to
take place, or has not yet learnt that it was accomplished--but
believe in God who made heaven and earth, by whom also it perceived by
nature that it had been itself created, and lead a right life, and
thus accomplish His will, uninstructed with any faith in the death and
resurrection of Christ? Well, if this could have been done, or can
still be done, then for my part I have to say what the apostle said in
regard to the law: "Then Christ died in vain."  For if he said
this about the law, which only the nation of the Jews received, how
much more justly may it be said of the law of nature, which the whole
human race has received, "If righteousness come by nature, then Christ
died in vain." If, however, Christ did not die in vain, then human
nature cannot by any means be justified and redeemed from God's most
righteous wrath--in a word, from punishment--except by faith and the
sacrament of the blood of Christ.
 1 Tim. iii. 16.
 Rom. x. 14.
 Rom. x. 17, 18.
 Gal. ii. 21.
Chapter 3 [III.]--Nature Was Created Sound and Whole; It Was
Afterwards Corrupted by Sin.
Man's nature, indeed, was created at first faultless and without any
sin; but that nature of man in which every one is born from Adam, now
wants the Physician, because it is not sound. All good qualities, no
doubt, which it still possesses in its make, life, senses, intellect,
it has of the Most High God, its Creator and Maker. But the flaw,
which darkens and weakens all those natural goods, so that it has need
of illumination and healing, it has not contracted from its blameless
Creator--but from that original sin, which it committed by free will.
Accordingly, criminal nature has its part in most righteous
punishment. For, if we are now newly created in Christ,  we
were, for all that, children of wrath, even as others,  "but
God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,
even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with
Christ, by whose grace we were saved." 
 2 Cor. v. 17.
 Eph. ii. 3.
 Eph. ii. 4, 5.
Chapter 4 [IV.]--Free Grace.
This grace, however, of Christ, without which neither infants nor
adults can be saved, is not rendered for any merits, but is given
gratis, on account of which it is also called grace. "Being
justified," says the apostle, "freely through His blood." 
Whence they, who are not liberated through grace, either because they
are not yet able to hear, or because they are unwilling to obey; or
again because they did not receive, at the time when they were unable
on account of youth to hear, that bath of regeneration, which they
might have received and through which they might have been saved, are
indeed justly condemned; because they are not without sin, either that
which they have derived from their birth, or that which they have
added from their own misconduct. "For all have sinned"--whether in
Adam or in themselves--"and come short of the glory of God." 
 Rom. iii. 24.
 Rom. iii. 23.
Chapter 5 [V.]--It Was a Matter of Justice that All Should Be
The entire mass, therefore, incurs penalty and if the deserved
punishment of condemnation were rendered to all, it would without
doubt be righteously rendered. They, therefore, who are delivered
therefrom by grace are called, not vessels of their own merits, but
"vessels of mercy."  But of whose mercy, if not His who sent
Christ Jesus into the world to save sinners, whom He foreknew, and
foreordained, and called, and justified, and glorified?  Now,
who could be so madly insane as to fail to give ineffable thanks to
the Mercy which liberates whom it would? The man who correctly
appreciated the whole subject could not possibly blame the justice of
God in wholly condemning all men whatsoever.
 Rom. ix. 23.
 Rom. viii. 29, 30.
Chapter 6 [VI.]--The Pelagians Have Very Strong and Active Minds.
If we are simply wise according to the Scriptures, we are not
compelled to dispute against the grace of Christ, and to make
statements attempting to show that human nature both requires no
Physician,--in infants, because it is whole and sound; and in adults,
because it is able to suffice for itself in attaining righteousness,
if it will. Men no doubt seem to urge acute opinions on these points,
but it is only word-wisdom,  by which the cross of Christ is
made of none effect. This, however, "is not the wisdom which
descendeth from above."  The words which follow in the apostle's
statement I am unwilling to quote; for we would rather not be thought
to do an injustice to our friends, whose very strong and active minds
we should be sorry to see running in a perverse, instead of an
 1 Cor. i. 17.
 Jas. iii. 15.
Chapter 7 [VII.]--He Proceeds to Confute the Work of Pelagius; He
Refrains as Yet from Mentioning Pelagius' Name.
However ardent, then, is the zeal which the author of the book you
have forwarded to me entertains against those who find a defence for
their sins in the infirmity of human nature; not less, nay even much
greater, should be our eagerness in preventing all attempts to render
the cross of Christ of none effect. Of none effect, however, it is
rendered, if it be contended that by any other means than by Christ's
own sacrament it is possible to attain to righteousness and
everlasting life. This is actually done in the book to which I
refer--I will not say by its author wittingly, lest I should express
the judgment that he ought not to be accounted even a Christian, but,
as I rather believe, unconsciously. He has done it, no doubt, with
much power; I only wish that the ability he has displayed were sound
and less like that which insane persons are accustomed to exhibit.
Chapter 8.--A Distinction Drawn by Pelagius Between the Possible and
For he first of all makes a distinction: "It is one thing," says he,
"to inquire whether a thing can be, which has respect to its
possibility only; and another thing, whether or not it is." This
distinction, nobody doubts, is true enough; for it follows that
whatever is, was able to be; but it does not therefore follow that
what is able to be, also is. Our Lord, for instance, raised Lazarus;
He unquestionably was able to do so. But inasmuch as He did not raise
up Judas  must we therefore contend that He was unable to do so?
He certainly was able, but He would not. For if He had been willing,
He could have effected this too. For the Son quickeneth whomsoever He
will.  Observe, however, what he means by this distinction, true
and manifest enough in itself, and what he endeavours to make out of
it. "We are treating," says he, "of possibility only; and to pass from
this to something else, except in the case of some certain fact, we
deem to be a very serious and extraordinary process." This idea he
turns over again and again, in many ways and at great length, so that
no one would suppose that he was inquiring about any other point than
the possibility of not committing sin. Among the many passages in
which he treats of this subject, occurs the following: "I once more
repeat my position: I say that it is possible for a man to be without
sin. What do you say? That it is impossible for a man to be without
sin? But I do not say," he adds, "that there is a man without sin; nor
do you say, that there is not a man without sin. Our contention is
about what is possible, and not possible; not about what is, and is
not." He then enumerates certain passages of Scripture,  which
are usually alleged in opposition to them, and insists that they have
nothing to do with the question, which is really in dispute, as to the
possibility or impossibility of a man's being without sin. This is
what he says: "No man indeed is clean from pollution; and, There is no
man that sinneth not; and, There is not a just man upon the earth;
and, There is none that doeth good. There are these and similar
passages in Scripture," says he, "but they testify to the point of not
being, not of not being able; for by testimonies of this sort it is
shown what kind of persons certain men were at such and such a time,
not that they were unable to be something else. Whence they are justly
found to be blameworthy. If, however, they had been of such a
character, simply because they were unable to be anything else, they
are free from blame."
 Peter Lombard refers to this passage of Augustin, to show that
God can do many things which He will not do. See his 1Sent. Dist. 43,
 John v. 21.
 Job xiv. 2; 1 Kings viii. 46; Eccles. vii. 21; Ps. xiv. 1.
Chapter 9 [VIII.]--Even They Who Were Not Able to Be Justified are
See what he has said. I, however, affirm that an infant born in a
place where it was not possible for him to be admitted to the baptism
of Christ, and being overtaken by death, was placed in such
circumstances, that is to say, died without the bath of regeneration,
because it was not possible for him to be otherwise. He would
therefore absolve him, and, in spite of the Lord's sentence, open to
him the kingdom of heaven. The apostle, however, does not absolve him,
when he says: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by
sin; by which death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
 Rightly, therefore, by virtue of that condemnation which runs
throughout the mass, is he not admitted into the kingdom of heaven,
although he was not only not a Christian, but was unable to become
 Rom. v. 12.
Chapter 10 [IX.]--He Could Not Be Justified, Who Had Not Heard of the
Name of Christ; Rendering the Cross of Christ of None Effect.
But they say: "He is not condemned; because the statement that all
sinned in Adam, was not made because of the sin which is derived from
one's birth, but because of imitation of him." If, therefore, Adam is
said to be the author of all the sins which followed his own, because
he was the first sinner of the human race, then how is it that Abel,
rather than Christ, is not placed at the head of all the righteous,
because he was the first righteous man? But I am not speaking of the
case of an infant. I take the instance of a young man, or an old man,
who has died in a region where he could not hear of the name of
Christ. Well, could such a man have become righteous by nature and
free will; or could he not? If they contend that he could, then see
what it is to render the cross of Christ of none effect,  to
contend that any man without it, can be justified by the law of nature
and the power of his will. We may here also say, then is Christ dead
in vain  forasmuch as all might accomplish so much as this, even
if He had never died; and if they should be unrighteous, they would be
so because they wished to be, not because they were unable to be
righteous. But even though a man could not be justified at all without
the grace of Christ, he would absolve him, if he dared, in accordance
with his words, to the effect that, "if a man were of such a
character, because he could not possibly have been of any other, he
would be free from all blame."
 1 Cor. i. 1.
 Gal. ii. 21.
Chapter 11 [X.]--Grace Subtly Acknowledged by Pelagius.
He then starts an objection to his own position, as if, indeed,
another person had raised it, and says: "`A man,' you will say, `may
possibly be [without sin]; but it is by the grace of God.'" He then at
once subjoins the following, as if in answer to his own suggestion: "I
thank you for your kindness, because you are not merely content to
withdraw your opposition to my statement, which you just now opposed,
or barely to acknowledge it; but you actually go so far as to approve
it. For to say, `A man may possibly, but by this or by that,' is in
fact nothing else than not only to assent to its possibility, but also
to show the mode and condition of its possibility. Nobody, therefore,
gives a better assent to the possibility of anything than the man who
allows the condition thereof; because, without the thing itself, it is
not possible for a condition to be." After this he raises another
objection against. himself: "But, you will say, `you here seem to
reject the grace of God, inasmuch as you do not even mention it;'" and
he then answers the objection: "Now, is it I that reject grace, who by
acknowledging the thing must needs also confess the means by which it
may be effected, or you, who by denying the thing do undoubtedly also
deny whatever may be the means through which the thing is
accomplished?" He forgot that he was now answering one who does not
deny the thing, and whose objection he had just before set forth in
these words: "A man may possibly be [without sin]; but it is by the
grace of God." How then does that man deny the possibility, in defence
of which his opponent earnestly contends, when he makes the admission
to that opponent that "the thing is possible, but only by the grace of
God?" That, however, after he is dismissed who already acknowledges
the essential thing, he still has a question against those who
maintain the impossibility of a man's being without sin, what is it to
us? Let him ply his questions against any opponents he pleases,
provided he only confesses this, which cannot be denied without the
most criminal impiety, that without the grace of God a man cannot be
without sin. He says, indeed: "Whether he confesses it to be by grace,
or by aid, or by mercy, whatever that be by which a man can be without
sin,--every one acknowledges the thing itself."
Chapter 12 [XI.]--In Our Discussions About Grace, We Do Not Speak of
that Which Relates to the Constitution of Our Nature, But to Its
I confess to your love, that when I read those words I was filled with
a sudden joy, because he did not deny the grace of God by which alone
a man can be justified; for it is this which I mainly detest and dread
in discussions of this kind. But when I went on to read the rest, I
began to have my suspicions, first of all, from the similes he
employs. For he says: "If I were to say, man is able to dispute; a
bird is able to fly; a hare is able to run; without mentioning at the
same time the instruments by which these acts can be
accomplished--that is, the tongue, the wings, and the legs; should I
then have denied the conditions of the various offices, when I
acknowledged the very offices themselves?" It is at once apparent that
he has here instanced such things as are by nature efficient; for the
members of the bodily structure which are here mentioned are created
with natures of such a kind--the tongue, the wings, the legs. He has
not here posited any such thing as we wish to have understood by
grace, without which no man is justified; for this is a topic which is
concerned about the cure, not the constitution, of natural functions.
Entertaining, then, some apprehensions, I proceeded to read all the
rest, and I soon found that my suspicions had not been unfounded.
Chapter 13 [XII.]--The Scope and Purpose of the Law's Threatenings;
But before I proceed further, see what he has said. When treating the
question about the difference of sins, and starting as an objection to
himself, what certain persons allege, "that some sins are light by
their very frequency, their constant irruption making it impossible
that they should be all of them avoided;" he thereupon denied that it
was "proper that they should be censured even as light offences, if
they cannot possibly be wholly avoided." He of course does not notice
the Scriptures of the New Testament, wherein we learn  that the
intention of the law in its censure is this, that, by reason of the
transgressions which men commit, they may flee for refuge to the grace
of the Lord, who has pity upon them--"the schoolmaster" 
"shutting them up unto the same faith which should afterwards be
revealed;"  that by it their transgressions may be forgiven, and
then not again be committed, by God's assisting grace. The road indeed
belongs to all who are progressing in it; although it is they who make
a good advance that are called "perfect travellers." That, however, is
the height of perfection which admits of no addition, when the goal to
which men tend has begun to be possessed.
 We have read discimus, not dicimus.
 Gal. iii. 24.
 Gal. iii. 23.
Chapter 14 [XIII.]--Refutation of Pelagius.
But the truth is, the question which is proposed to him--"Are you even
yourself without sin?"--does not really belong to the subject in
dispute. What, however, he says,--that "it is rather to be imputed to
his own negligence that he is not without sin," is no doubt well
spoken; but then he should deem it to be his duty even to pray to God
that this faulty negligence get not the dominion over him,--the prayer
that a certain man once put up, when he said: "Order my steps
according to Thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over
me,"  --lest, whilst relying on his own diligence as on strength
of his own, he should fail to attain to the true righteousness either
by this way, or by that other method in which, no doubt, perfect
righteousness is to be desired and hoped for.
 Ps. cxix. 133.
Chapter 15 [XIV.]--Not Everything [of Doctrinal Truth] is Written in
Scripture in So Many Words.
That, too, which is said to him, "that it is nowhere written in so
many words, A man can be without sin," he easily refutes thus: "That
the question here is not in what precise words each doctrinal
statement is made." It is perhaps not without reason that, while in
several passages of Scripture we may find it said that men are without
excuse, it is nowhere found that any man is described as being without
sin, except Him only, of whom it is plainly said, that "He knew no
sin."  Similarly, we read in the passage where the subject is
concerning priests: "He was in all points tempted like as we are, only
without sin,"  --meaning, of course, in that flesh which bore
the likeness of sinful flesh, although it was not sinful flesh; a
likeness, indeed, which it would not have borne if it had not been in
every other respect the same as sinful flesh. How, however, we are to
understand this: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;
neither can he sin, for his seed remaineth in him;"  while the
Apostle John himself, as if he had not been born of God, or else were
addressing men who had not been born of God, lays down this position:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is
not in us,"  --I have already explained, with such care as I was
able, in those books which I wrote to Marcellinus on this very
subject.  It seems, moreover, to me to be an interpretation
worthy of acceptance to regard the clause of the above quoted passage:
"Neither can he sin," as if it meant: He ought not to commit sin. For
who could be so foolish as to say that sin ought to be committed,
when, in fact, sin is sin, for no other reason than that it ought not
to be committed?
 2 Cor. v. 21.
 Heb. iv. 15.
 1 John iii. 9.
 1 John i. 8.
 See the De Peccat. Meritis et Remissione, ii. 8-10.
Chapter 16 [XV.]--Pelagius Corrupts a Passage of the Apostle James by
Adding a Note of Interrogation.
Now that passage, in which the Apostle James says: "But the tongue can
no man tame,"  does not appear to me to be capable of the
interpretation which he would put upon it, when he expounds it, "as if
it were written by way of reproach; as much as to say: Can no man
then, tame the tongue? As if in a reproachful tone, which would say:
You are able to tame wild beasts; cannot you tame the tongue? As if it
were an easier thing to tame the tongue than to subjugate wild
beasts." I do not think that this is the meaning of the passage. For,
if he had meant such an opinion as this to be entertained of the
facility of taming the tongue, there would have followed in the sequel
of the passage a comparison of that member with the beasts. As it is,
however, it simply goes on to say: "The tongue is an unruly evil, full
of deadly poison,"  --such, of course, as is more noxious than
that of beasts and creeping things. For while the one destroys the
flesh, the other kills the soul. For, "The mouth that belieth slayeth
the soul."  It is not, therefore, as if this is an easier
achievement than the taming of beasts that St. James pronounced the
statement before us, or would have others utter it; but he rather aims
at showing what a great evil in man his tongue is--so great, indeed,
that it cannot be tamed by any man, although even beasts are tameable
by human beings. And he said this, not with a view to our permitting,
through our neglect, the continuance of so great an evil to ourselves,
but in order that we might be induced to request the help of divine
grace for the taming of the tongue. For he does not say: "None can
tame the tongue;" but "No man;" in order that, when it is tamed, we
may acknowledge it to be effected by the mercy of God, the help of
God, the grace of God. The soul, therefore, should endeavour to tame
the tongue, and while endeavouring should pray for assistance; the
tongue, too, should beg for the taming of the tongue,--He being the
tamer who said to His disciples: "It is not ye that speak, but the
Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."  Thus, we are
warned by the precept to do this,--namely, to make the attempt, and,
failing in our own strength, to pray for the help of God.
 Jas. iii. 8.
 Jas. iii. 8.
 Wisd. i. 11.
 Matt. x. 20.
Chapter 17 [XVI.]--Explanation of This Text Continued.
Accordingly, after emphatically describing the evil of the
tongue--saying, among other things: "My brethren, these things ought
not so to be"  --he at once, after finishing some remarks which
arose out of his subject, goes on to add this advice, showing by what
help those things would not happen, which (as he said) ought not: "Who
is a wise man and endowed with knowledge among you? Let him show out
of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye
have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not
against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is
earthly, sensual, devilish. For where there is envying and strife,
there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from
above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated,
full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without
hypocrisy."  This is the wisdom which tames the tongue; it
descends from above, and springs from no human heart. Will any one,
then, dare to divorce it from the grace of God, and with most arrogant
vanity place it in the power of man? Why should I pray to God that it
be accorded me, if it may be had of man? Ought we not to object to
this prayer lest injury be done to free will which is self-sufficient
in the possibility of nature for discharging all the duties of
righteousness? We ought, then, to object also to the Apostle James
himself, who admonishes us in these words: "If any of you lack wisdom,
let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth
not, and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing
doubting."  This is the faith to which the commandments drive
us, in order that the law may prescribe our duty and faith accomplish
it.  For through the tongue, which no man can tame, but only the
wisdom which comes down from above, "in many things we all of us
offend."  For this truth also the same apostle pronounced in no
other sense than that in which he afterwards declares: "The tongue no
man can tame." 
 Jas. iii. 10.
 Jas. iii. 13-17.
 Jas. i. 5, 6.
 Ut lex imperet et fides impetret.
 Jas. iii. 2.
 Jas. iii. 8.
Chapter 18 [XVII.]--Who May Be Said to Be in the Flesh.
There is a passage which nobody could place against these texts with
the similar purpose of showing the impossibility of not sinning: "The
wisdom of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to
the law of God, neither indeed can be; so then they that are in the
flesh cannot please God;"  for he here mentions the wisdom of
the flesh, not the wisdom which cometh from above: moreover, it is
manifest, that in this passage, by the phrase, "being in the flesh,"
are signified, not those who have not yet quitted the body, but those
who live according to the flesh. The question, however, we are
discussing does not lie in this point. But what I want to hear from
him, if I can, is about those who live according to the Spirit, and
who on this account are not, in a certain sense, in the flesh, even
while they still live here,--whether they, by God's grace, live
according to the Spirit, or are sufficient for themselves, natural
capability having been bestowed on them when they were created, and
their own proper will besides. Whereas the fulfilling of the law is
nothing else than love;  and God's love is shed abroad in our
hearts, not by our own selves, but by the Holy Ghost which is given to
 Rom. viii. 7, 8.
 Rom. xiii. 10.
 Rom. v. 5.
Chapter 19.--Sins of Ignorance; To Whom Wisdom is Given by God on
Their Requesting It.
He further treats of sins of ignorance, and says that "a man ought to
be very careful to avoid ignorance; and that ignorance is blameworthy
for this reason, because it is through his own neglect that a man is
ignorant of that which he certainly must have known if he had only
applied diligence;" whereas he prefers disputing all things rather
than to pray, and say: "Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy
commandments."  It is, indeed, one thing to have taken no pains
to know what sins of negligence were apparently expiated even through
divers sacrifices of the law; it is another thing to wish to
understand, to be unable, and then to act contrary to the law, through
not understanding what it would have done. We are accordingly enjoined
to ask of God wisdom, "who giveth to all men liberally;"  that
is, of course, to all men who ask in such a manner, and to such an
extent, as so great a matter requires in earnestness of petition.
 Ps. cxix. 73.
 Jas. i. 5.
Chapter 20 [XVIII.]--What Prayer Pelagius Would Admit to Be Necessary.
He confesses that "sins which have been committed do notwithstanding
require to be divinely expiated, and that the Lord must be entreated
because of them,"--that is, for the purpose, of course, of obtaining
pardon; "because that which has been done cannot," it is his own
admission, "be undone," by that "power of nature and will of man"
which he talks about so much. From this necessity, therefore, it
follows that a man must pray to be forgiven. That a man, however,
requires to be helped not to sin, he has nowhere admitted; I read no
such admission in this passage; he keeps a strange silence on this
subject altogether; although the Lord's Prayer enjoins upon us the
necessity of praying both that our debts may be remitted to us, and
that we may not be led into temptation,--the one petition entreating
that past offences may be atoned for; the other, that future ones may
be avoided. Now, although this is never done unless our will be
assistant, yet our will alone is not enough to secure its being done;
the prayer, therefore, which is offered up to God for this result is
neither superfluous nor offensive to the Lord. For what is more
foolish than to pray that you may do that which you have it in your
own power to do.
Chapter 21 [XIX.]--Pelagius Denies that Human Nature Has Been Depraved
or Corrupted by Sin.
You may now see (what bears very closely on our subject) how he
endeavours to exhibit human nature, as if it were wholly without
fault, and how he struggles against the plainest of God's Scriptures
with that "wisdom of word"  which renders the cross of Christ of
none effect. That cross, however, shall certainly never be made of
none effect; rather shall such wisdom be subverted. Now, after we
shall have demonstrated this, it may be that God's mercy may visit
him, so that he may be sorry that he ever said these things: "We
have," he says, "first of all to discuss the position which is
maintained, that our nature has been weakened and changed by sin. I
think," continues he, "that before all other things we have to inquire
what sin is,--some substance, or wholly a name without substance,
whereby is expressed not a thing, not an existence, not some sort of a
body, but the doing of a wrongful deed." He then adds: "I suppose that
this is the case; and if so," he asks, "how could that which lacks all
substance have possibly weakened or changed human nature?" Observe, I
beg of you, how in his ignorance he struggles to overthrow the most
salutary words of the remedial Scriptures: "I said, O Lord, be
merciful unto me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee."
 Now, how can a thing be healed, if it is not wounded nor hurt,
nor weakened and corrupted? But, as there is here something to be
healed, whence did it receive its injury? You hear [the Psalmist]
confessing the fact; what need is there of discussion? He says: "Heal
my soul." Ask him how that which he wants to be healed became injured,
and then listen to his following words: "Because I have sinned against
Thee." Let him, however, put a question, and ask what he deemed a
suitable inquiry, and say: "O you who exclaim, Heal my soul, for I
have sinned against Thee! pray tell me what sin is? Some substance, or
wholly a name without substance, whereby is expressed, not a thing,
not an existence, not some sort of a body, but merely the doing of a
wrongful deed?" Then the other returns for answer: "It is even as you
say; sin is not some substance; but under its name there is merely
expressed the doing of a wrongful deed." But he rejoins: "Then why cry
out, Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee? How could that have
possibly corrupted your soul which lacks all substance?" Then would
the other, worn out with the anguish of his wound, in order to avoid
being diverted from prayer by the discussion, briefly answer and say:
"Go from me, I beseech you; rather discuss the point, if you can, with
Him who said: `They that are whole need no physician, but they that
are sick; I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners,'" 
--in which words, of course, He designated the righteous as the whole,
and sinners as the sick.
 1 Cor. i. 17.
 Ps. xli. 4.
 Matt. ix. 12, 13.
Chapter 22 [XX.]--How Our Nature Could Be Vitiated by Sin, Even Though
It Be Not a Substance.
Now, do you not perceive the tendency and direction of this
controversy? Even to render of none effect the Scripture where it is
said "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people
from their sins."  For how is He to save where there is no
malady? For the sins, from which this gospel says Christ's people have
to be saved, are not substances, and according to this writer are
incapable of corrupting. O brother, how good a thing it is to remember
that you are a Christian! To believe, might perhaps be enough; but
still, since you persist in discussion, there is no harm, nay there is
even benefit, if a firm faith precede it; let us not suppose, then,
that human nature cannot be corrupted by sin, but rather, believing,
from the inspired Scriptures, that it is corrupted by sin, let our
inquiry be how this could possibly have come about. Since, then, we
have already learnt that sin is not a substance, do we not consider,
not to mention any other example, that not to eat is also not a
substance? Because such abstinence is withdrawal from a substance,
inasmuch as food is a substance. To abstain, then, from food is not a
substance; and yet the substance of our body, if it does altogether
abstain from food, so languishes, is so impaired by broken health, is
so exhausted of strength, so weakened and broken with very weariness,
that even if it be in any way able to continue alive, it is hardly
capable of being restored to the use of that food, by abstaining from
which it became so corrupted and injured. In the same way sin is not a
substance; but God is a substance, yea the height of substance and
only true sustenance of the reasonable creature. The consequence of
departing from Him by disobedience, and of inability, through
infirmity, to receive what one ought really to rejoice in, you hear
from the Psalmist, when he says: "My heart is smitten and withered
like grass, since I have forgotten to eat my bread." 
 Matt. i. 21.
 Ps. cii. 4.
Chapter 23 [XXI.]--Adam Delivered by the Mercy of Christ.
But observe how, by specious arguments, he continues to oppose the
truth of Holy Scripture. The Lord Jesus, who is called Jesus because
He saves His people from their sins,  in accordance with this
His merciful character, says: "They that be whole need not a
physician, but they that are sick; I am come not to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance."  Accordingly, His apostle
also says: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  This
man, however, contrary to the "faithful saying, and worthy of all
acceptation," declares that "this sickness ought not to have been
contracted by sins, lest the punishment of sin should amount to this,
that more sins should be committed." Now even for infants the help of
the Great Physician is sought. This writer asks: "Why seek Him? They
are whole for whom you seek the Physician. Not even was the first man
condemned to die for any such reason, for he did not sin afterwards."
As if he had ever heard anything of his subsequent perfection in
righteousness, except so far as the Church commends to our faith that
even Adam was delivered by the mercy of the Lord Christ. "As to his
posterity also," says he, "not only are they not more infirm than he,
but they actually fulfilled more commandments than he ever did, since
he neglected to fulfil one,"--this posterity which he sees so born (as
Adam certainly was not made), not only incapable of commandment, which
they do not at all understand, but hardly capable of sucking the
breast, when they are hungry! Yet even these would He have to be saved
in the bosom of Mother Church by His grace who saves His people from
their sins; but these men gainsay such grace, and, as if they had a
deeper insight into the creature than ever He possesses who made the
creature, they pronounce [these infants] sound with an assertion which
is anything but sound itself.
 Matt. i. 21.
 Matt. ix. 12.
 1 Tim. i. 15.
Chapter 24 [XXII.]--Sin and the Penalty of Sin the Same.
"The very matter," says he, "of sin is its punishment, if the sinner
is so much weakened that he commits more sins." He does not consider
how justly the light of truth forsakes the man who transgresses the
law. When thus deserted he of course becomes blinded, and necessarily
offends more; and by so falling is embarrassed and being embarrassed
fails to rise, so as to hear the voice of the law, which admonishes
him to beg for the Saviour's grace. Is no punishment due to them of
whom the apostle says: "Because that, when they knew God, they
glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in
their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened?"  This
darkening was, of course, already their punishment and penalty; and
yet by this very penalty--that is, by their blindness of heart, which
supervenes on the withdrawal of the light of wisdom--they fell into
more grievous sins still. "For giving themselves out as wise, they
became fools." This is a grievous penalty, if one only understands it;
and from such a penalty only see to what lengths they ran: "And they
changed," he says, "the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image
made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts,
and creeping things."  All this they did owing to that penalty
of their sin, whereby "their foolish heart was darkened." And yet,
owing to these deeds of theirs, which, although coming in the way of
punishment, were none the less sins (he goes on to say): "Wherefore
God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own
hearts."  See how severely God condemned them, giving them over
to uncleanness in the very desires of their heart. Observe also the
sins they commit owing to such condemnation: "To dishonour," says he,
"their own bodies among themselves."  Here is the punishment of
iniquity, which is itself iniquity; a fact which sets forth in a
clearer light the words which follow: "Who changed the truth of God
into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the
Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." "For this cause," says he,
"God gave them up unto vile affections."  See how often God
inflicts punishment; and out of the self-same punishment sins, more
numerous and more severe, arise. "For even their women did change the
natural use into that which is against nature; and likewise the men
also, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one
toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly." 
Then, to show that these things were so sins themselves, that they
were also the penalties of sins, he further says: "And receiving in
themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." 
Observe how often it happens that the very punishment which God
inflicts begets other sins as its natural offspring. Attend still
further: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their
knowledge," says he, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do
those things which are not convenient; being filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
backbiters, odious to God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of
evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding,
covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful."
 Here, now, let our opponent say: "Sin ought not so to have been
punished, that the sinner, through his punishment, should commit even
 Rom. i. 21.
 Rom. i. 23.
 Rom. i. 24.
 Rom. i. 24.
 Rom. i. 25, 26.
 Rom. i. 26, 27.
 Rom. i. 27.
 Rom. i. 28-31.
Chapter 25 [XXIII.]--God Forsakes Only Those Who Deserve to Be
Forsaken. We are Sufficient of Ourselves to Commit Sin; But Not to
Return to the Way of Righteousness. Death is the Punishment, Not the
Cause of Sin.
Perhaps he may answer that God does not compel men to do these things,
but only forsakes those who deserve to be forsaken. If he does say
this, he says what is most true. For, as I have already remarked,
those who are forsaken by the light of righteousness, and are
therefore groping in darkness, produce nothing else than those works
of darkness which I have enumerated, until such time as it is said to
them, and they obey the command: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."  The truth
designates them as dead; whence the passage: "Let the dead bury their
dead." The truth, then, designates as dead those whom this man
declares to have been unable to be damaged or corrupted by sin, on the
ground, forsooth, that he has discovered sin to be no substance!
Nobody tells him that "man was so formed as to be able to pass from
righteousness to sin, and yet not able to return from sin to
righteousness." But that free will, whereby man corrupted his own
self, was sufficient for his passing into sin; but to return to
righteousness, he has need of a Physician, since he is out of health;
he has need of a Vivifier, because he is dead. Now about such grace as
this he says not a word, as if he were able to cure himself by his own
will, since this alone was able to ruin him. We do not tell him that
the death of the body is of efficacy for sinning, because it is only
its punishment; for no one sins by undergoing the death of his body;
but the death of the soul is conducive to sin, forsaken as it is by
its life, that is, its God; and it must needs produce dead works,
until it revives by the grace of Christ. God forbid that we should
assert that hunger and thirst and other bodily sufferings necessarily
produce sin. When exercised by such vexations, the life of the
righteous only shines out with greater lustre, and procures a greater
glory by overcoming them through patience; but then it is assisted by
the grace, it is assisted by the Spirit, it is assisted by the mercy
of God; not exalting itself in an arrogant will, but earning fortitude
by a humble confession. For it had learnt to say unto God: "Thou art
my hope; Thou art my trust."  Now, how it happens that
concerning this grace, and help and mercy, without which we cannot
live, this man has nothing to say, I am at a loss to know; but he goes
further, and in the most open manner gainsays the grace of Christ
whereby we are justified, by insisting on the sufficiency of nature to
work righteousness, provided only the will be present. The reason,
however, why, after sin has been released to the guilty one by grace,
for the exercise of faith, there should still remain the death of the
body, although it proceeds from sin, I have already explained,
according to my ability, in those books which I wrote to Marcellinus
of blessed memory. 
 Eph. v. 14.
 Ps. lxxi. 5.
 The tribune Marcellinus had been put to death in the September
of 413, "having, though innocent, fallen a victim to the cruel hatred
of the tyrant Heraclius," as Jerome writes in his book iii. against
the Pelagians. Honorius mentions him as a "man of conspicuous renown,"
in a law enacted August 30, in the year 414, contained in the Cod
Theod. xvi. 5 (de hæreticis), line 55. Compare the notes above, pp. 15
Chapter 26 [XXIV.]--Christ Died of His Own Power and Choice.
As to his statement, indeed, that "the Lord was able to die without
sin;" His being born also was of the ability of His mercy, not the
demand of His nature: so, likewise, did He undergo death of His own
power; and this is our price which He paid to redeem us from death.
Now, this truth their contention labours hard to make of none effect;
for human nature is maintained by them to be such, that with free will
it wants no such ransom in order to be translated from the power of
darkness and of him who has the power of death,  into the
kingdom of Christ the Lord.  And yet, when the Lord drew near
His passion, He said, "Behold, the prince of this world cometh and
shall find nothing in me,"  --and therefore no sin, of course,
on account of which he might exercise dominion over Him, so as to
destroy Him. "But," added He, "that the world may know that I do the
will of my Father, arise, let us go hence;"  as much as to say,
I am going to die, not through the necessity of sin, but in
voluntariness of obedience.
 Heb. ii. 14.
 Col. i. 13.
 John xiv. 30.
 John xiv. 31.
Chapter 27.--Even Evils, Through God's Mercy, are of Use.
He asserts that "no evil is the cause of anything good;" as if
punishment, forsooth, were good, although thereby many have been
reformed. There are, then, evils which are of use by the wondrous
mercy of God. Did that man experience some good thing, when he said,
"Thou didst hide Thy face from me, and I was troubled?" 
Certainly not; and yet this very trouble was to him in a certain
manner a remedy against his pride. For he had said in his prosperity,
"I shall never be moved;"  and so was ascribing to himself what
he was receiving from the Lord. "For what had he that he did not
receive?"  It had, therefore, become necessary to show him
whence he had received, that he might receive in humility what he had
lost in pride. Accordingly, he says, "In Thy good pleasure, O Lord,
Thou didst add strength to my beauty."  In this abundance of
mine I once used to say, "I shall not be moved;" whereas it all came
from Thee, not from myself. Then at last Thou didst turn away Thy face
from me, and I became troubled.
 Ps. xxx. 7.
 Ps. xxx. 8.
 1 Cor. iv. 7.
 Ps. xxx. 7.
Chapter 28 [XXV.]--The Disposition of Nearly All Who Go Astray. With
Some Heretics Our Business Ought Not to Be Disputation, But Prayer.
Man's proud mind has no relish at all for this; God, however, is
great, in persuading even it how to find it all out. We are, indeed,
more inclined to seek how best to reply to such arguments as oppose
our error, than to experience how salutary would be our condition if
we were free from error. We ought, therefore, to encounter all such,
not by discussions, but rather by prayers both for them and for
ourselves. For we never say to them, what this opponent has opposed to
himself, that "sin was necessary in order that there might be a cause
for God's mercy." Would there had never been misery to render that
mercy necessary! But the iniquity of sin,--which is so much the
greater in proportion to the ease wherewith man might have avoided
sin, whilst no infirmity did as yet beset him,--has been followed
closely up by a most righteous punishment; even that [offending man]
should receive in himself a reward in kind of his sin, losing that
obedience of his body which had been in some degree put under his own
control, which he had despised when it was the right of his Lord. And,
inasmuch as we are now born with the self-same law of sin, which in
our members resists the law of our mind, we ought never to murmur
against God, nor to dispute in opposition to the clearest fact, but to
seek and pray for His mercy instead of our punishment.
Chapter 29 [XXVI.]--A Simile to Show that God's Grace is Necessary for
Doing Any Good Work Whatever. God Never Forsakes the Justified Man If
He Be Not Himself Forsaken. 
Observe, indeed, how cautiously he expresses himself: "God, no doubt,
applies His mercy even to this office, whenever it is necessary
because man after sin requires help in this way, not because God
wished there should be a cause for such necessity." Do you not see how
he does not say that God's grace is necessary to prevent us from
sinning, but because we have sinned? Then he adds: "But just in the
same way it is the duty of a physician to be ready to cure a man who
is already wounded; although he ought not to wish for a man who is
sound to be wounded." Now, if this simile suits the subject of which
we are treating, human nature is certainly incapable of receiving a
wound from sin, inasmuch as sin is not a substance. As therefore, for
example's sake, a man who is lamed by a wound is cured in order that
his step for the future may be direct and strong, its past infirmity
being healed, so does the Heavenly Physician cure our maladies, not
only that they may cease any longer to exist, but in order that we may
ever afterwards be able to walk aright,--to which we should be
unequal, even after our healing, except by His continued help. For
after a medical man has administered a cure, in order that the patient
may be afterwards duly nourished with bodily elements and ailments,
for the completion and continuance of the said cure by suitable means
and help, he commends him to God's good care, who bestows these aids
on all who live in the flesh, and from whom proceeded even those means
which [the physician] applied during the process of the cure. For it
is not out of any resources which he has himself created that the
medical man effects any cure, but out of the resources of Him who
creates all things which are required by the whole and by the sick.
God, however, whenever He--through "the one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus"--spiritually heals the sick or raises the
dead, that is, justifies the ungodly, and when He has brought him to
perfect health, in other words, to the fulness of life and
righteousness, does not forsake, if He is not forsaken, in order that
life may be passed in constant piety and righteousness. For, just as
the eye of the body, even when completely sound, is unable to see
unless aided by the brightness of light, so also man, even when most
fully justified, is unable to lead a holy life, if he be not divinely
assisted by the eternal light of righteousness. God, therefore, heals
us not only that He may blot out the sin which we have committed, but,
furthermore, that He may enable us even to avoid sinning.
 See the treatise De Peccatorum Meritis, ii. 22.
Chapter 30 [XXVII.]--Sin is Removed by Sin.
He no doubt shows some acuteness in handling, and turning over and
exposing, as he likes, and refuting a certain statement, which is made
to this effect, that "it was really necessary to man, in order to take
from him all occasion for pride and boasting, that he should be unable
to exist without sin." He supposes it to be "the height of absurdity
and folly, that there should have been sin in order that sin might not
be; inasmuch as pride is itself, of course, a sin." As if a sore were
not attended with pain, and an operation did not produce pain, that
pain might be taken away by pain. If we had not experienced any such
treatment, but were only to hear about it in some parts of the world
where these things had never happened, we might perhaps use this man's
words, and say, It is the height of absurdity that pain should have
been necessary in order that a sore should have no pain.
Chapter 31.--The Order and Process of Healing Our Heavenly Physician
Does Not Adopt from the Sick Patient, But Derives from Himself. What
Cause the Righteous Have for Fearing.
"But God," they say, "is able to heal all things." Of course His
purpose in acting is to heal all things; but He acts on His own
judgment, and does not take His procedure in healing from the sick
man. For undoubtedly it was His wish to endow His apostle with very
great power and strength, and yet He said to him: "My strength is made
perfect in weakness;"  nor did He remove from him, though he so
often entreated Him to do so, that mysterious "thorn in the flesh,"
which He told him had been given to him "lest he should be unduly
exalted through the abundance of the revelation."  For all other
sins only prevail in evil deeds; pride only has to be guarded against
in things that are rightly done. Whence it happens that those persons
are admonished not to attribute to their own power the gifts of God,
nor to plume themselves thereon, lest by so doing they should perish
with a heavier perdition than if they had done no good at all, to whom
it is said: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for
it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good
pleasure."  Why, then, must it be with fear and trembling, and
not rather with security, since God is working; except it be because
there so quickly steals over our human soul, by reason of our will
(without which we can do nothing well), the inclination to esteem
simply as our own accomplishment whatever good we do; and so each one
of us says in his prosperity: "I shall never be moved?" 
Therefore, He who in His good pleasure had added strength to our
beauty, turns away His face, and the man who had made his boast
becomes troubled, because it is by actual sorrows that the swelling
pride must be remedied.
 2 Cor. xii. 9.
 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8.
 Phil. ii. 12, 13.
 Ps. xxx. 6.
Chapter 32 [XXVIII.]--God Forsakes Us to Some Extent that We May Not
Therefore it is not said to a man: "It necessary for you to sin that
you may not sin;" but it is said to a man: "God in some degree
forsakes you, in consequence of which you grow proud, that you may
know that you are `not your own,' but are His,  and learn not to
be proud." Now even that incident in the apostle's life, of this kind,
is so wonderful, that were it not for the fact that he himself is the
voucher for it whose truth it is impious to contradict, would it not
be incredible? For what believer is there who is ignorant that the
first incentive to sin came from Satan, and that he is the first
author of all sins? And yet, for all that, some are "delivered over
unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."  How comes it
to pass, then, that Satan's work is prevented by the work of Satan?
These and such like questions let a man regard in such a light that
they seem not to him to be too acute; they have somewhat of the sound
of acuteness, and yet when discussed are found to be obtuse. What must
we say also to our author's use of similes whereby he rather suggests
to us the answer which we should give to him? "What" (asks he) "shall
I say more than this, that we may believe that fires are quenched by
fires, if we may believe that sins are cured by sins?" What if one
cannot put out fires by fires: but yet pains can, for all that, as I
have shown, be cured by pains? Poisons can also, if one only inquire
and learn the fact, be expelled by poisons. Now, if he observes that
the heats of fevers are sometimes subdued by certain medicinal
warmths, he will perhaps also allow that fires may be extinguished by
 1 Cor. vi. 19.
 1 Tim. i. 20.
Chapter 33 [XXIX.]--Not Every Sin is Pride. How Pride is the
Commencement of Every Sin.
"But how," asks he, "shall we separate pride itself from sin?" Now,
why does he raise such a question, when it is manifest that even pride
itself is a sin? "To sin," says he, "is quite as much to be proud, as
to be proud is to sin; for only ask what every sin is, and see whether
you can find any sin without the designation of pride." Then he thus
pursues this opinion, and endeavours to prove it thus: "Every sin,"
says he, "if I mistake not, is a contempt of God, and every contempt
of God is pride. For what is so proud as to despise God? All sin,
then, is also pride, even as Scripture says, Pride is the beginning of
all sin."  Let him seek diligently, and he will find in the law
that the sin of pride is quite distinguished from all other sins. For
many sins are committed through pride; but yet not all things which
are wrongly done are done proudly,--at any rate, not by the ignorant,
not by the infirm, and not, generally speaking, by the weeping and
sorrowful. And indeed pride, although it be in itself a great sin, is
of such sort in itself alone apart from others, that, as I have
already remarked, it for the most part follows after and steals with
more rapid foot, not so much upon sins as upon things which are
actually well done. However, that which he has understood in another
sense, is after all most truly said: "Pride is the commencement of all
sin;" because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose
the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued
man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the
same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact, only
sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, "Ye shall
be as gods."  Truly then is it said, "Pride is the commencement
of all sin;"  and, "The beginning of pride is when a man
departeth from God." 
 Ecclus. x. 13.
 Gen. iii. 5.
 Ecclus. x. 13.
 Ecclus. x. 12.
Chapter 34 [XXX.]--A Man's Sin is His Own, But He Needs Grace for His
Well, but what does he mean when he says: "Then again, how can one be
subjected to God for the guilt of that sin, which he knows is not his
own? For," says he, "his own it is not, if it is necessary. Or, if it
is his own, it is voluntary: and if it is voluntary, it can be
avoided." We reply: It is unquestionably his own. But the fault by
which sin is committed is not yet in every respect healed, and the
fact of its becoming permanently fixed in us arises from our not
rightly using the healing virtue; and so out of this faulty condition
the man who is now growing strong in depravity commits many sins,
either through infirmity or blindness. Prayer must therefore be made
for him, that he may be healed, and that he may thenceforward attain
to a life of uninterrupted soundness of health; nor must pride be
indulged in, as if any man were healed by the self-same power whereby
he became corrupted.
Chapter 35 [XXXI.]--Why God Does Not Immediately Cure Pride Itself.
The Secret and Insidious Growth of Pride. Preventing and Subsequent
But I would indeed so treat these topics, as to confess myself
ignorant of God's deeper counsel, why He does not at once heal the
very principle of pride, which lies in wait for man's heart even in
deeds rightly done; and for the cure of which pious souls, with tears
and strong crying, beseech Him that He would stretch forth His right
hand and help their endeavours to overcome it, and somehow tread and
crush it under foot. Now when a man has felt glad that he has even by
some good work overcome pride, from the very joy he lifts up his head
and says: "Behold, I live; why do you triumph? Nay, I live because you
triumph." Premature, however, this forwardness of his to triumph over
pride may perhaps be, as if it were now vanquished, whereas its last
shadow is to be swallowed up, as I suppose, in that noontide which is
promised in the scripture which says, "He shall bring forth thy
righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday;" 
provided that be done which was written in the preceding verse:
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring
it to pass,"  --not, as some suppose, that they themselves bring
it to pass. Now, when he said, "And He shall bring it to pass," he
evidently had none other in mind but those who say, We ourselves bring
it to pass; that is to say, we ourselves justify our own selves. In
this matter, no doubt, we do ourselves, too, work; but we are
fellow-workers with Him who does the work, because His mercy
anticipates us. He anticipates us, however, that we may be healed; but
then He will also follow us, that being healed we may grow healthy and
strong. He anticipates us that we may be called; He will follow us
that we may be glorified. He anticipates us that we may lead godly
lives; He will follow us that we may always live with Him, because
without Him we can do nothing.  Now the Scriptures refer to both
these operations of grace. There is both this: "The God of my mercy
shall anticipate me,"  and again this: "Thy mercy shall follow
me all the days of my life."  Let us therefore unveil to Him our
life by confession, not praise it with a vindication. For if it is not
His way, but our own, beyond doubt it is not the right one. Let us
therefore reveal this by making our confession to Him; for however
much we may endeavour to conceal it, it is not hid from Him. It is a
good thing to confess unto the Lord.
 Ps. xxxvii. 6.
 Ps. xxxvii. 5.
 John xv. 5.
 Ps. lix. 10.
 Ps. xxiii. 6.
Chapter 36 [XXXII.]--Pride Even in Such Things as are Done Aright Must
Be Avoided. Free Will is Not Taken Away When Grace is Preached.
So will He bestow on us whatever pleases Him, that if there be
anything displeasing to Him in us, it will also be displeasing to us.
"He will," as the Scripture has said, "turn aside our paths from His
own way,"  and will make that which is His own to be our way;
because it is by Himself that the favour is bestowed on such as
believe in Him and hope in Him that we will do it. For there is a way
of righteousness of which they are ignorant "who have a zeal for God,
but not according to knowledge,"  and who, wishing to frame a
righteousness of their own, "have not submitted themselves to the
righteousness of God."  "For Christ is the end of the law for
righteousness to every one that believeth;"  and He has said, "I
am the way."  Yet God's voice has alarmed those who have already
begun to walk in this way, lest they should be lifted up, as if it
were by their own energies that they were walking therein. For the
same persons to whom the apostle, on account of this danger, says,
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God
that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure,"
 are likewise for the self-same reason admonished in the psalm:
"Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice in Him with trembling. Accept
correction, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the
righteous way, when His wrath shall be suddenly kindled upon you."
 He does not say, "Lest at any time the Lord be angry and refuse
to show you the righteous way," or, "refuse to lead you into the way
of righteousness;" but even after you are walking therein, he was able
so to terrify as to say, "Lest ye perish from the righteous way." Now,
whence could this arise if not from pride, which (as I have so often
said, and must repeat again and again) has to be guarded against even
in things which are rightly done, that is, in the very way of
righteousness, lest a man, by regarding as his own that which is
really God's, lose what is God's and be reduced merely to what is his
own? Let us then carry out the concluding injunction of this same
psalm, "Blessed are all they that trust in Him,"  so that He may
Himself indeed effect and Himself show His own way in us, to whom it
is said, "Show us Thy mercy, O Lord;"  and Himself bestow on us
the pathway of safety that we may walk therein, to whom the prayer is
offered, "And grant us Thy salvation;"  and Himself lead us in
the self-same way, to whom again it is said, "Guide me, O Lord, in Thy
way, and in Thy truth will I walk;"  Himself, too, conduct us to
those promises whither His way leads, to whom it is said, "Even there
shall Thy hand lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me;" 
Himself pasture therein those who sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, of whom it is said, "He shall make them sit down to meat, and
will come forth and serve them."  Now we do not, when we make
mention of these things, take away freedom of will, but we preach the
grace of God. For to whom are those gracious gifts of use, but to the
man who uses, but humbly uses, his own will, and makes no boast of the
power and energy thereof, as if it alone were sufficient for
perfecting him in righteousness?
 See Ps. xliv. 18.
 Rom. x. 2.
 Rom. x. 3.
 Rom. x. 4.
 John xiv. 6.
 Phil. ii. 12.
 Ps. ii. 11, 12.
 Ps. ii. 12.
 Ps. lxxxv. 7.
 Ps. lxxxv. 7.
 Ps. lxxxvi. 11.
 Ps. cxxxix. 10.
 Luke xii. 37.
Chapter 37 [XXXIII.]--Being Wholly Without Sin Does Not Put Man on an
Equality with God.
But God forbid that we should meet him with such an assertion as he
says certain persons advance against him: "That man is placed on an
equality with God, if he is described as being without sin;" as if
indeed an angel, because he is without sin, is put in such an
equality. For my own part, I am of this opinion that the creature will
never become equal with God, even when so perfect a holiness shall be
accomplished in us, that it shall be quite incapable of receiving any
addition. No; all who maintain that our progress is to be so complete
that we shall be changed into the substance of God, and that we shall
thus become what He is, should look well to it how they build up their
opinion; for myself I must confess that I am not persuaded of this.
Chapter 38 [XXXIV.]--We Must Not Lie, Even for the Sake of Moderation.
The Praise of Humility Must Not Be Placed to the Account of Falsehood.
I am favourably disposed, indeed, to the view of our author, when he
resists those who say to him, "What you assert seems indeed to be
reasonable, but it is an arrogant thing to allege that any man can be
without sin," with this answer, that if it is at all true, it must not
on any account be called an arrogant statement; for with very great
truth and acuteness he asks, "On what side must humility be placed? No
doubt on the side of falsehood, if you prove arrogance to exist on the
side of truth." And so he decides, and rightly decides, that humility
should rather be ranged on the side of truth, not of falsehood. Whence
it follows that he who said, "If we say that we have no sin, we
deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,"  must without
hesitation be held to have spoken the truth, and not be thought to
have spoken falsehood for the sake of humility. Therefore he added the
words, "And the truth is not in us;" whereas it might perhaps have
been enough if he merely said, "We deceive ourselves," if he had not
observed that some were capable of supposing that the clause "we
deceive ourselves" is here employed on the ground that the man who
praises himself is even extolled for a really good action. So that, by
the addition of "the truth is not in us," he clearly shows (even as
our author most correctly observes) that it is not at all true if we
say that we have no sin, lest humility, if placed on the side of
falsehood, should lose the reward of truth.
 1 John i. 8.
Chapter 39.--Pelagius Glorifies God as Creator at the Expense of God
Beyond this, however, although he flatters himself that he vindicates
the cause of God by defending nature, he forgets that by predicating
soundness of the said nature, he rejects the Physician's mercy. He,
however, who created him is also his Saviour. We ought not, therefore,
so to magnify the Creator as to be compelled to say, nay, rather as to
be convicted of saying, that the Saviour is superfluous. Man's nature
indeed we may honour with worthy praise, and attribute the praise to
the Creator's glory; but at the same time, while we show our gratitude
to Him for having created us, let us not be ungrateful to Him for
healing us. Our sins which He heals we must undoubtedly attribute not
to God's operation, but to the wilfulness of man, and submit them to
His righteous punishment; as, however, we acknowledge that it was in
our power that they should not be committed, so let us confess that it
lies in His mercy rather than in our own power that they should be
healed. But this mercy and remedial help of the Saviour, according to
this writer, consists only in this, that He forgives the
transgressions that are past, not that He helps us to avoid such as
are to come. Here he is most fatally mistaken; here, however
unwittingly--here he hinders us from being watchful, and from praying
that "we enter not into temptation," since he maintains that it lies
entirely in our own control that this should not happen to us.
Chapter 40 [XXXV.]--Why There is a Record in Scripture of Certain
Men's Sins, Recklessness in Sin Accounts It to Be So Much Loss
Whenever It Falls Short in Gratifying Lust.
He who has a sound judgment says soundly, "that the examples of
certain persons, of whose sinning we read in Scripture, are not
recorded for this purpose, that they may encourage despair of not
sinning, and seem somehow to afford security in committing sin,"--but
that we may learn the humility of repentance, or else discover that
even in such falls salvation ought not to be despaired of. For there
are some who, when they have fallen into sin, perish rather from the
recklessness of despair, and not only neglect the remedy of
repentance, but become the slaves of lusts and wicked desires, so far
as to run all lengths in gratifying these depraved and abandoned
dispositions,--as if it were a loss to them if they failed to
accomplish what their lust impelled them to, whereas all the while
there awaits them a certain condemnation. To oppose this morbid
recklessness, which is only too full of danger and ruin, there is
great force in the record of those sins into which even just and holy
men have before now fallen.
Chapter 41.--Whether Holy Men Have Died Without Sin.
But there is clearly much acuteness in the question put by our author,
"How must we suppose that those holy men quitted this life,--with sin,
or without sin?" For if we answer, "With sin," condemnation will be
supposed to have been their destiny, which it is shocking to imagine;
but if it be said that they departed this life "without sin," then it
would be a proof that man had been without sin in his present life, at
all events, when death was approaching. But, with all his acuteness,
he overlooks the circumstance that even righteous persons not without
good reason offer up this prayer: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive
our debtors;"  and that the Lord Christ, after explaining the
prayer in His teaching, most truly added: "For if ye forgive men their
trespasses, your Father will also forgive you your trespasses." 
Here, indeed, we have the daily incense, so to speak, of the Spirit,
which is offered to God on the altar of the heart, which we are bidden
"to lift up,"--implying that, even if we cannot live here without sin,
we may yet die without sin, when in merciful forgiveness the sin is
blotted out which is committed in ignorance or infirmity.
 Matt. vi. 12.
 Matt. vi. 14.
Chapter 42 [XXXVI.]--The Blessed Virgin Mary May Have Lived Without
Sin. None of the Saints Besides Her Without Sin.
He then enumerates those "who not only lived without sin, but are
described as having led holy lives,--Abel, Enoch, Melchizedek,
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua the son of Nun, Phinehas, Samuel,
Nathan, Elijah, Joseph, Elisha, Micaiah, Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah,
Mishael, Mordecai, Simeon, Joseph to whom the Virgin Mary was
espoused, John." And he adds the names of some women,--"Deborah, Anna
the mother of Samuel, Judith, Esther, the other Anna, daughter of
Phanuel, Elisabeth, and also the mother of our Lord and Saviour, for
of her," he says, "we must needs allow that her piety had no sin in
it." We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to
raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour
to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for
overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the
merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin. 
Well, then, if, with this exception of the Virgin, we could only
assemble together all the forementioned holy men and women, and ask
them whether they lived without sin whilst they were in this life,
what can we suppose would be their answer? Would it be in the language
of our author, or in the words of the Apostle John? I put it to you,
whether, on having such a question submitted to them, however
excellent might have been their sanctity in this body, they would not
have exclaimed with one voice: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us?"  But perhaps this their
answer would have been more humble than true! Well, but our author has
already determined, and rightly determined, "not to place the praise
of humility on the side of falsehood." If, therefore, they spoke the
truth in giving such an answer, they would have sin, and since they
humbly acknowledged it, the truth would be in them; but if they lied
in their answer, they would still have sin, because the truth would
not be in them.
 1 John iii. 5.
 1 John i. 8.
Chapter 43 [XXXVII.]--Why Scripture Has Not Mentioned the Sins of All.
"But perhaps," says he, "they will ask me: Could not the Scripture
have mentioned sins of all of these?" And surely they would say the
truth, whoever should put such a question to him; and I do not
discover that he has anywhere given a sound reply to them, although I
perceive that he was unwilling to be silent. What he has said, I beg
of you to observe: "This," says he, "might be rightly asked of those
whom Scripture mentions neither as good nor as bad; but of those whose
holiness it commemorates, it would also without doubt have
commemorated the sins likewise, if it had perceived that they had
sinned in anything." Let him say, then, that their great faith did not
attain to righteousness in the case of those who comprised "the
multitudes that went before and that followed" the colt on which the
Lord rode, when "they shouted and said, Hosanna to the Son of David:
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,"  even amidst
the malignant men who with murmurs asked why they were doing all this!
Let him then boldly tell us, if he can, that there was not a man in
all that vast crowd who had any sin at all. Now, if it is most absurd
to make such a statement as this, why has not the Scripture mentioned
any sins in the persons to whom reference has been made, especially
when it has carefully recorded the eminent goodness of their faith?
 Matt. xxi. 9.
Chapter 44.--Pelagius Argues that Abel Was Sinless.
This, however, even he probably observed, and therefore he went on to
say: "But, granted that it has sometimes abstained, in a numerous
crowd, from narrating the sins of all; still, in the very beginning of
the world, when there were only four persons in existence, what reason
(asks he) have we to give why it chose not to mention the sins of all?
Was it in consideration of the vast multitude, which had not yet come
into existence? or because, having mentioned only the sins of those
who had transgressed, it was unable to record any of him who had not
yet committed sin?" And then he proceeds to add some words, in which
he unfolds this idea with a fuller and more explicit illustration. "It
is certain," says he, "that in the earliest age Adam and Eve, and Cain
and Abel their sons, are mentioned as being the only four persons then
in being. Eve sinned,--the Scripture distinctly says so much; Adam
also transgressed, as the same Scripture does not fail to inform us;
whilst it affords us an equally clear testimony that Cain also sinned:
and of all these it not only mentions the sins, but also indicates the
character of their sins. Now if Abel had likewise sinned, Scripture
would without doubt have said so. But it has not said so, therefore he
committed no sin; nay, it even shows him to have been righteous. What
we read, therefore, let us believe; and what we do not read, let us
deem it wicked to add."
Chapter 45 [XXXVIII.]--Why Cain Has Been by Some Thought to Have Had
Children by His Mother Eve. The Sins of Righteous Men. Who Can Be Both
Righteous, and Yet Not Without Sin.
When he says this, he forgets what he had himself said not long
before: "After the human race had multiplied, it was possible that in
the crowd the Scripture may have neglected to notice the sins of all
men." If indeed he had borne this well in mind, he would have seen
that even in one man there was such a crowd and so vast a number of
slight sins, that it would have been impossible (or, even if possible,
not desirable) to describe them. For only such are recorded as the due
bounds allowed, and as would, by few examples, serve for instructing
the reader in the many cases where he needed warning. Scripture has
indeed omitted to mention concerning the few persons who were then in
existence, either how many or who they were,--in other words, how many
sons and daughters Adam and Eve begat, and what names they gave them;
and from this circumstance some, not considering how many things are
quietly passed over in Scripture, have gone so far as to suppose that
Cain cohabited with his mother, and by her had the children which are
mentioned, thinking that Adam's sons had no sisters, because Scripture
failed to mention them in the particular place, although it
afterwards, in the way of recapitulation, implied what it had
previously omitted,--that "Adam begat sons and daughters," 
without, however, dropping a syllable to intimate either their number
or the time when they were born. In like manner it was unnecessary to
state whether Abel, notwithstanding that he is rightly styled
"righteous," ever indulged in immoderate laughter, or was ever jocose
in moments of relaxation, or ever looked at an object with a covetous
eye, or ever plucked fruit to extravagance, or ever suffered
indigestion from too much eating, or ever in the midst of his prayers
permitted his thoughts to wander and call him away from the purpose of
his devotion; as well as how frequently these and many other similar
failings stealthily crept over his mind. And are not these failings
sins, about which the apostle's precept gives us a general admonition
that we should avoid and restrain them, when he says: "Let not sin
therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the
lusts thereof?"  To escape from such an obedience, we have to
struggle in a constant and daily conflict against unlawful and
unseemly inclinations. Only let the eye be directed, or rather
abandoned, to an object which it ought to avoid, and let the mischief
strengthen and get the mastery, and adultery is consummated in the
body, which is committed in the heart only so much more quickly as
thought is more rapid than action and there is no impediment to retard
and delay it. They who in a great degree have curbed this sin, that
is, this appetite of a corrupt affection, so as not to obey its
desires, nor to "yield their members to it as instruments of
unrighteousness,"  have fairly deserved to be called righteous
persons, and this by the help of the grace of God. Since, however, sin
often stole over them in very small matters, and when they were off
their guard, they were both righteous, and at the same time not
sinless. To conclude, if there was in righteous Abel that love of God
whereby alone he is truly righteous who is righteous, to enable him,
and to lay him under a moral obligation, to advance in holiness, still
in whatever degree he fell short therein was of sin. And who indeed
can help thus falling short, until he come to that mighty power
thereof, in which man's entire infirmity shall be swallowed up?
 Gen. v. 4.
 Rom. vi. 12.
 Rom. vi. 13.
Chapter 46 [XXXIX.]--Shall We Follow Scripture, or Add to Its
It is, to be sure, a grand sentence with which he concluded this
passage, when he says: "What we read, therefore, let us believe; and
what we do not read, let us deem it wicked to add; and let it suffice
to have said this of all cases." On the contrary, I for my part say
that we ought not to believe even everything that we read, on the
sanction of the apostle's advice: "Read all things; hold fast that
which is good."  Nor is it wicked to add something which we have
not read; for it is in our power to add something which we have bona
fideexperienced as witnesses, even if it so happens that we have not
read about it. Perhaps he will say in reply: "When I said this, I was
treating of the Holy Scriptures." Oh how I wish that he were never
willing to add, I will not say anything but what he reads in the
Scriptures, but in opposition to what he reads in them; that he would
only faithfully and obediently hear that which is written there: "By
one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death
passed upon all men; in which all have sinned;"  and that he
would not weaken the grace of the great Physician,--all by his
unwillingness to confess that human nature is corrupted! Oh how I wish
that he would, as a Christian, read the sentence, "There is none other
name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved;" 
and that he would not so uphold the possibility of human nature, as to
believe that man can be saved by free will without that Name!
 1 Thess. v. 21.
 Rom. v. 12.
 Acts iv. 12.
Chapter 47 [XL.]--For What Pelagius Thought that Christ is Necessary
Perhaps, however, he thinks the name of Christ to be necessary on this
account, that by His gospel we may learn how we ought to live; but not
that we may be also assisted by His grace, in order withal to lead
good lives. Well, even this consideration should lead him at least to
confess that there is a miserable darkness in the human mind, which
knows how it ought to tame a lion, but knows not how to live. To know
this, too, is it enough for us to have free will and natural law? This
is that wisdom of word, whereby "the cross of Christ is rendered of
none effect."  He, however, who said, "I will destroy the wisdom
of the wise,"  since that cross cannot be made of none effect,
in very deed overthrows that wisdom by the foolishness of preaching
whereby believers are healed. For if natural capacity, by help of free
will, is in itself sufficient both for discovering how one ought to
live, and also for leading a holy life, then "Christ died in vain,"
 and therefore also "the offence of the cross is ceased." 
Why also may I not myself exclaim?--nay, I will exclaim, and chide
them with a Christian's sorrow,--"Christ is become of no effect unto
you, whosoever of you are justified by nature; ye are fallen from
grace;"  for, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and
wishing to establish your own righteousness, you have not submitted
yourselves to the righteousness of God."  For even as "Christ is
the end of the law," so likewise is He the Saviour of man's corrupted
nature, "for righteousness to every one that believeth." 
 1 Cor. i. 17.
 1 Cor. i. 19.
 Gal. ii. 21.
 Gal. v. 11.
 Gal. v. 4.
 Rom. x. 3.
 Rom. x. 4.
Chapter 48 [XLI.]--How the Term "All" Is to Be Understood.
His opponents adduced the passage, "All have sinned,"  and he
met their statement founded on this with the remark that "the apostle
was manifestly speaking of the then existing generation, that is, the
Jews and the Gentiles;" but surely the passage which I have quoted,
"By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death
passed upon all men; in which all have sinned,"  embraces in its
terms the generations both of old and of modern times, both ourselves
and our posterity. He adduces also this passage, whence he would prove
that we ought not to understand all without exception, when "all" is
used:--"As by the offence of one," he says, "upon all men to
condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One, upon all men unto
justification of life."  "There can be no doubt," he says, "that
not all men are sanctified by the righteousness of Christ, but only
those who are willing to obey Him, and have been cleansed in the
washing of His baptism." Well, but he does not prove what he wants by
this quotation. For as the clause, "By the offence of one, upon all
men to condemnation," is so worded that not one is omitted in its
sense, so in the corresponding clause, "By the righteousness of One,
upon all men unto justification of life," no one is omitted in its
sense,--not, indeed, because all men have faith and are washed in His
baptism, but because no man is justified unless he believes in Christ
and is cleansed by His baptism. The term "all" is therefore used in a
way which shows that no one whatever can be supposed able to be saved
by any other means than through Christ Himself. For if in a city there
be appointed but one instructor, we are most correct in saying: That
man teaches all in that place; not meaning, indeed, that all who live
in the city take lessons of him, but that no one is instructed unless
taught by him. In like manner no one is justified unless Christ has
justified him. 
 Rom. iii. 23.
 Rom. v. 12.
 Rom. v. 18.
 Compare De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, i. 55.
Chapter 49 [XLII.]--A Man Can Be Sinless, But Only by the Help of
Grace. In the Saints This Possibility Advances and Keeps Pace with the
"Well, be it so," says he, "I agree; he testifies to the fact that all
were sinners. He says, indeed, what they have been, not that they
might not have been something else. Wherefore," he adds, "if all then
could be proved to be sinners, it would not by any means prejudice our
own definite position, in insisting not so much on what men are, as on
what they are able to be." He is right for once to allow that no man
living is justified in God's sight. He contends, however, that this is
not the question, but that the point lies in the possibility of a
man's not sinning,--on which subject it is unnecessary for us to take
ground against him; for, in truth, I do not much care about expressing
a definite opinion on the question, whether in the present life there
ever have been, or now are, or ever can be, any persons who have had,
or are having, or are to have, the love of God so perfectly as to
admit of no addition to it (for nothing short of this amounts to a
most true, full, and perfect righteousness). For I ought not too
sharply to contend as to when, or where, or in whom is done that which
I confess and maintain can be done by the will of man, aided by the
grace of God. Nor do I indeed contend about the actual possibility,
forasmuch as the possibility under dispute advances with the
realization in the saints, their human will being healed and helped;
whilst "the love of God," as fully as our healed and cleansed nature
can possibly receive it, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Ghost, which is given to us."  In a better way, therefore, is
God's cause promoted (and it is to its promotion that our author
professes to apply his warm defence of nature) when He is acknowledged
as our Saviour no less than as our Creator, than when His succour to
us as Saviour is impaired and dwarfed to nothing by the defence of the
creature, as if it were sound and its resources entire.
 Rom. v. 5.
Chapter 50 [XLIII.]--God Commands No Impossibilities.
What he says, however, is true enough, "that God is as good as just,
and made man such that he was quite able to live without the evil of
sin, if only he had been willing." For who does not know that man was
made whole and faultless, and endowed with a free will and a free
ability to lead a holy life? Our present inquiry, however, is about
the man whom "the thieves"  left half dead on the road, and who,
being disabled and pierced through with heavy wounds, is not so able
to mount up to the heights of righteousness as he was able to descend
therefrom; who, moreover, if he is now in "the inn,"  is in
process of cure. God therefore does not command impossibilities; but
in His command He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself,
and to ask His aid in what you cannot do. Now, we should see whence
comes the possibility, and whence the impossibility. This man says:
"That proceeds not from a man's will which he can do by nature." I
say: A man is not righteous by his will if he can be by nature. He
will, however, be able to accomplish by remedial aid what he is
rendered incapable of doing by his flaw.
 Luke x. 30. Rather, "robbers;" latrones, lestai.
 Luke x. 34.
Chapter 51 [XLIV.]--State of the Question Between the Pelagians and
the Catholics. Holy Men of Old Saved by the Self-Same Faith in Christ
Which We Exercise.
But why need we tarry longer on general statements? Let us go into the
core of the question, which we have to discuss with our opponents
solely, or almost entirely, on one particular point. For inasmuch as
he says that "as far as the present question is concerned, it is not
pertinent to inquire whether there have been or now are any men in
this life without sin, but whether they had or have the ability to be
such persons;" so, were I even to allow that there have been or are
any such, I should not by any means therefore affirm that they had or
have the ability, unless justified by the grace of God through our
Lord "Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  For the same faith which
healed the saints of old now heals us,--that is to say, faith "in the
one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," 
--faith in His blood, faith in His cross, faith in His death and
resurrection. As we therefore have the same spirit of faith, we also
believe, and on that account also speak.
 1 Cor. ii. 2.
 1 Tim. ii. 5.
Chapter 52.--The Whole Discussion is About Grace.
Let us, however, observe what our author answers, after laying before
himself the question wherein he seems indeed so intolerable to
Christian hearts. He says: "But you will tell me this is what disturbs
a great many,--that you do not maintain that it is by the grace of God
that a man is able to be without sin." Certainly this is what causes
us disturbance; this is what we object to him. He touches the very
point of the case. This is what causes us such utter pain to endure
it; this is why we cannot bear to have such points debated by
Christians, owing to the love which we feel towards others and towards
themselves. Well, let us hear how he clears himself from the
objectionable character of the question he has raised. "What blindness
of ignorance," he exclaims, "what sluggishness of an uninstructed
mind, which supposes that that is maintained and held to be without
God's grace which it only hears ought to be attributed to God!" Now,
if we knew nothing of what follows this outburst of his, and formed
our opinion on simply hearing these words, we might suppose that we
had been led to a wrong view of our opponents by the spread of report
and by the asseveration of some suitable witnesses among the brethren.
For how could it have been more pointedly and truly stated that the
possibility of not sinning, to whatever extent it exists or shall
exist in man, ought only to be attributed to God? This too is our own
affirmation. We may shake hands.
Chapter 53 [XLV.]--Pelagius Distinguishes Between a Power and Its Use.
Well, are there other things to listen to? Yes, certainly; both to
listen to, and correct and guard against. "Now, when it is said," he
says, "that the very ability is not at all of man's will, but of the
Author of nature,--that is, God,--how can that possibly be understood
to be without the grace of God which is deemed especially to belong to
God?" Already we begin to see what he means; but that we may not lie
under any mistake, he explains himself with greater breadth and
clearness: "That this may become still plainer, we must," says he,
"enter on a somewhat fuller discussion of the point. Now we affirm
that the possibility of anything lies not so much in the ability of a
man's will as in the necessity of nature." He then proceeds to
illustrate his meaning by examples and similes. "Take," says he, "for
instance, my ability to speak. That I am able to speak is not my own;
but that I do speak is my own,--that is, of my own will. And because
the act of my speaking is my own, I have the power of alternative
action,--that is to say, both to speak and to refrain from speaking.
But because my ability to speak is not my own, that is, is not of my
own determination and will, it is of necessity  that I am always
able to speak; and though I wished not to be able to speak, I am
unable, nevertheless, to be unable to speak, unless perhaps I were to
deprive myself of that member whereby the function of speaking is to
be performed." Many means, indeed, might be mentioned whereby, if he
wish it, a man may deprive himself of the possibility of speaking,
without removing the organ of speech. If, for instance, anything were
to happen to a man to destroy his voice, he would be unable to speak,
although the members remained; for a man's voice is of course no
member. There may, in short, be an injury done to the member
internally, short of the actual loss of it. I am, however, unwilling
to press the argument for a word; and it may be replied to me in the
contest, Why, even to injure is to lose. But yet we can so contrive
matters, by closing and shutting the mouth with bandages, as to be
quite incapable of opening it, and to put the opening of it out of our
power, although it was quite in our own power to shut it while the
strength and healthy exercise of the limbs remained.
 Necesse est me semper loqui posse. This obscure sentence seems
to point to Pelagius' former statement: Cujusque rei possibilitatem
non tam in arbitrii humani potestate quam in naturae necessitate
Chapter 54 [XLVI.]--There is No Incompatibility Between Necessity and
Now how does all this apply to our subject? Let us see what he makes
out of it. "Whatever," says he, "is fettered by natural necessity is
deprived of determination of will and deliberation." Well, now, here
lies a question; for it is the height of absurdity for us to say that
it does not belong to our will that we wish to be happy, on the ground
that it is absolutely impossible for us to be unwilling to be happy,
by reason of some indescribable but amiable coercion of our nature;
nor dare we maintain that God has not the will but the necessity of
righteousness, because He cannot will to sin.
Chapter 55 [XLVII.]--The Same Continued.
Mark also what follows. "We may perceive," says he, "the same thing to
be true of hearing, smelling, and seeing,--that to hear, and to smell,
and to see is of our own power, while the ability to hear, and to
smell, and to see is not of our own power, but lies in a natural
necessity." Either I do not understand what he means, or he does not
himself. For how is the possibility of seeing not in our own power, if
the necessity of not seeing is in our own power because blindness is
in our own power, by which we can deprive ourselves, if we will, of
this very ability to see? How, moreover, is it in our own power to see
whenever we will, when, without any loss whatever to our natural
structure of body in the organ of sight, we are unable, even though we
wish, to see,--either by the removal of all external lights during the
night, or by our being shut up in some dark place? Likewise, if our
ability or our inability to hear is not in our own power, but lies in
the necessity of nature, whereas our actual hearing or not hearing is
of our own will, how comes it that he is inattentive to the fact that
there are so many things which we hear against our will, which
penetrate our sense even when our ears are stopped, as the creaking of
a saw near to us, or the grunt of a pig? Although the said stopping of
our ears shows plainly enough that it does not lie within our own
power not to hear so long as our ears are open; perhaps, too, such a
stopping of our ears as shall deprive us of the entire sense in
question proves that even the ability not to hear lies within our own
power. As to his remarks, again, concerning our sense of smell, does
he not display no little carelessness when he says "that it is not in
our own power to be able or to be unable to smell, but that it is in
our own power"--that is to say, in our free will--"to smell or not to
smell?" For let us suppose some one to place us, with our hands firmly
tied, but yet without any injury to our olfactory members, among some
bad and noxious smells; in such a case we altogether lose the power,
however strong may be our wish, not to smell, because every time we
are obliged to draw breath we also inhale the smell which we do not
Chapter 56 [XLVIII.]--The Assistance of Grace in a Perfect Nature.
Not only, then, are these similes employed by our author false, but so
is the matter which he wishes them to illustrate. He goes on to say:
"In like manner, touching the possibility of our not sinning, we must
understand that it is of us not to sin, but yet that the ability to
avoid sin is not of us." If he were speaking of man's whole and
perfect nature, which we do not now possess ("for we are saved by
hope: but hope that is seen is not hope. But if we hope for that we
see not, then do we with patience wait for it"  ), his language
even in that case would not be correct to the effect that to avoid
sinning would be of us alone, although to sin would be of us, for even
then there must be the help of God, which must shed itself on those
who are willing to receive it, just as the light is given to strong
and healthy eyes to assist them in their function of sight. Inasmuch,
however, as it is about this present life of ours that he raises the
question, wherein our corruptible body weighs down the soul, and our
earthly tabernacle depresses our sense with all its many thoughts, I
am astonished that he can with any heart suppose that, even without
the help of our Saviour's healing balm, it is in our own power to
avoid sin, and the ability not to sin is of nature, which gives only
stronger evidence of its own corruption by the very fact of its
failing to see its taint.
 Rom. viii. 24, 25.
Chapter 57 [XLIX.]--It Does Not Detract from God's Almighty Power,
that He is Incapable of Either Sinning, or Dying, or Destroying
"Inasmuch," says he, "as not to sin is ours, we are able to sin and to
avoid sin." What, then, if another should say: "Inasmuch as not to
wish for unhappiness is ours, we are able both to wish for it and not
to wish for it?" And yet we are positively unable to wish for it. For
who could possibly wish to be unhappy, even though he wishes for
something else from which unhappiness will ensue to him against his
will? Then again, inasmuch as, in an infinitely greater degree, it is
God's not to sin, shall we therefore venture to say that He is able
both to sin and to avoid sin? God forbid that we should ever say that
He is able to sin! For He cannot, as foolish persons suppose,
therefore fail to be almighty, because He is unable to die, or because
He cannot deny Himself. What, therefore, does he mean? by what method
of speech does he try to persuade us on a point which he is himself
loth to consider? For he advances a step further, and says: "Inasmuch
as, however, it is not of us to be able to avoid sin; even if we were
to wish not to be able to avoid sin, it is not in our power to be
unable to avoid sin." It is an involved sentence, and therefore a very
obscure one. It might, however, be more plainly expressed in some such
way as this: "Inasmuch as to be able to avoid sin is not of us, then,
whether we wish it or do not wish it, we are able to avoid sin!" He
does not say, "Whether we wish it or do not wish it, we do not
sin,"--for we undoubtedly do sin, if we wish;--but yet he asserts
that, whether we will or not, we have the capacity of not sinning,--a
capacity which he declares to be inherent in our nature. Of a man,
indeed, who has his legs strong and sound, it may be said admissibly
enough, "whether he will or not he has the capacity of walking;" but
if his legs be broken, however much he may wish, he has not the
capacity. The nature of which our author speaks is corrupted. "Why is
dust and ashes proud?"  It is corrupted. It implores the
Physician's help. "Save me, O Lord,"  is its cry; "Heal my
soul,"  it exclaims. Why does he check such cries so as to
hinder future health, by insisting, as it were, on its present
 Ecclus. x. 9.
 Ps. xii. 1.
 Ps. xli. 4.
Chapter 58 [L.]--Even Pious and God-Fearing Men Resist Grace.
Observe also what remark he adds, by which he thinks that his position
is confirmed: "No will," says he, "can take away that which is proved
to be inseparably implanted in nature." Whence then comes that
utterance: "So then ye cannot do the things that ye would?" 
Whence also this: "For what good I would, that I do not; but what evil
I hate, that do I?"  Where is that capacity which is proved to
be inseparably implanted in nature? See, it is human beings who do not
what they will; and it is about not sinning, certainly, that he was
treating,--not about not flying, because it was men not birds, that
formed his subject. Behold, it is man who does not the good which he
would, but does the evil which he would not: "to will is present with
him, but how to perform that which is good is not present." 
Where is the capacity which is proved to be inseparably implanted in
nature? For whomsoever the apostle represents by himself, if he does
not speak these things of his own self, he certainly represents a man
by himself. By our author, however, it is maintained that our human
nature actually possesses an inseparable capacity of not at all
sinning. Such a statement, however, even when made by a man who knows
not the effect of his words (but this ignorance is hardly attributable
to the man who suggests these statements for unwary though God-fearing
men), causes the grace of Christ to be "made of none effect," 
since it is pretended that human nature is sufficient for its own
holiness and justification.
 Gal. v. 17.
 Rom. vii. 15.
 Rom. vii. 18.
 1 Cor. i. 17. Another reading has crux Christi instead of
"Christi gratia," thus closely adopting the apostle's words.
Chapter 59 [LI.]--In What Sense Pelagius Attributed to God's Grace the
Capacity of Not Sinning.
In order, however, to escape from the odium wherewith Christians guard
their salvation, he parries their question when they ask him, "Why do
you affirm that man without the help of God's grace is able to avoid
sin?" by saying, "The actual capacity of not sinning lies not so much
in the power of will as in the necessity of nature. Whatever is placed
in the necessity of nature undoubtedly appertains to the Author of
nature, that is, God. How then," says he, "can that be regarded as
spoken without the grace of God which is shown to belong in an
especial manner to God?" Here the opinion is expressed which all along
was kept in the background; there is, in fact, no way of permanently
concealing such a doctrine. The reason why he attributes to the grace
of God the capacity of not sinning is, that God is the Author of
nature, in which, he declares, this capacity of avoiding sin is
inseparably implanted. Whenever He wills a thing, no doubt He does it;
and what He wills not, that He does not. Now, wherever there is this
inseparable capacity, there cannot accrue any infirmity of the will;
or rather, there cannot be both a presence of will and a failure in
"performance."  This, then, being the case, how comes it to pass
that "to will is present, but how to perform that which is good" is
not present? Now, if the author of the work we are discussing spoke of
that nature of man, which was in the beginning created faultless and
perfect, in whatever sense his dictum be taken, "that it has an
inseparable capacity,"--that is, so to say, one which cannot be
lost,--then that nature ought not to have been mentioned at all which
could be corrupted, and which could require a physician to cure the
eyes of the blind, and restore that capacity of seeing which had been
lost through blindness. For I suppose a blind man would like to see,
but is unable; but, whenever a man wishes to do a thing and cannot,
there is present to him the will, but he has lost the capacity.
 Rom. vii. 18.
Chapter 60 [LII.]--Pelagius Admits "Contrary Flesh" In the Unbaptized.
See what obstacles he still attempts to break through, if possible, in
order to introduce his own opinion. He raises a question for himself
in these terms: "But you will tell me that, according to the apostle,
the flesh is contrary  to us;" and then answers it in this wise:
"How can it be that in the case of any baptized person the flesh is
contrary to him, when according to the same apostle he is understood
not to be in the flesh? For he says, `But ye are not in the flesh.'"
 Very well; we shall soon see  whether it be really true
that this says that in the baptized the flesh cannot be contrary to
them; at present, however, as it was impossible for him quite to
forget that he was a Christian (although his reminiscence on the point
is but slight), he has quitted his defence of nature. Where then is
that inseparable capacity of his? Are those who are not yet baptized
not a part of human nature? Well, now, here by all means, here at this
point, he might find his opportunity of awaking out of his sleep; and
he still has it if he is careful. "How can it be," he asks, "that in
the case of a baptized person the flesh is contrary to him?" Therefore
to the unbaptized the flesh can be contrary! Let him tell us how; for
even in these there is that nature which has been so stoutly defended
by him. However, in these he does certainly allow that nature is
corrupted, inasmuch as it was only among the baptized that the wounded
traveller left his inn sound and well, or rather remains sound in the
inn whither the compassionate Samaritan carried him that he might
become cured.  Well, now, if he allows that the flesh is
contrary even in these, let him tell us what has happened to occasion
this, since the flesh and the spirit alike are the work of one and the
same Creator, and are therefore undoubtedly both of them good, because
He is good,--unless indeed it be that damage which has been inflicted
by man's own will. And that this may be repaired in our nature, there
is need of that very Saviour from whose creative hand nature itself
proceeded. Now, if we acknowledge that this Saviour, and that healing
remedy of His by which the Word was made flesh in order to dwell among
us, are required by small and great,--by the crying infant and the
hoary-headed man alike,--then, in fact, the whole controversy of the
point between us is settled.
 Gal. v. 17.
 Rom. viii. 9.
 In the next chapter.
 Luke x. 34.
Chapter 61 [LIII.]--Paul Asserts that the Flesh is Contrary Even in
Now let us see whether we anywhere read about the flesh being contrary
in the baptized also. And here, I ask, to whom did the apostle say,
"The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye do not
the things that ye would?"  He wrote this, I apprehend, to the
Galatians, to whom he also says, "He therefore that ministereth to you
the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works
of the law or by the hearing of faith?"  It appears, therefore,
that it is to Christians that he speaks, to whom, too, God had given
His Spirit: therefore, too, to the baptized. Observe, therefore, that
even in baptized persons the flesh is found to be contrary; so that
they have not that capacity which, our author says, is inseparably
implanted in nature. Where then is the ground for his assertion, "How
can it be that in the case of a baptized person the flesh is contrary
to him?" in whatever sense he understands the flesh? Because in very
deed it is not its nature that is good, but it is the carnal defects
of the flesh which are expressly named in the passage before us.
 Yet observe, even in the baptized, how contrary is the flesh.
And in what way contrary? So that, "They do not the things which they
would." Take notice that the will is present in a man; but where is
that "capacity of nature?" Let us confess that grace is necessary to
us; let us cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death?" And let our answer be, "The grace of
God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" 
 Gal. v. 17.
 Gal. iii. 5.
 See the context of Gal. v. 17, in verses 19-21.
 Rom. vii. 24, 25.
Chapter 62.--Concerning What Grace of God is Here Under Discussion.
The Ungodly Man, When Dying, is Not Delivered from Concupiscence.
Now, whereas it is most correctly asked in those words put to him,
"Why do you affirm that man without the help of God's grace is able to
avoid sin?" yet the inquiry did not concern that grace by which man
was created, but only that whereby he is saved through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Faithful men say in their prayer, "Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil."  But if they already have
capacity, why do they pray? Or, what is the evil which they pray to be
delivered from, but, above all else, "the body of this death?" And
from this nothing but God's grace alone delivers them, through our
Lord Jesus Christ. Not of course from the substance of the body, which
is good; but from its carnal offences, from which a man is not
liberated except by the grace of the Saviour,--not even when he quits
the body by the death of the body. If it was this that the apostle
meant to declare, why had he previously said, "I see another law in my
members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into
captivity to the law of sin which is in my members?"  Behold
what damage the disobedience of the will has inflicted on man's
nature! Let him be permitted to pray that he may be healed! Why need
he presume so much on the capacity of his nature? It is wounded, hurt,
damaged, destroyed. It is a true confession of its weakness, not a
false defence of its capacity, that it stands in need of. It requires
the grace of God, not that it may be made, but that it may be re-made.
And this is the only grace which by our author is proclaimed to be
unnecessary; because of this he is silent! If, indeed, he had said
nothing at all about God's grace, and had not proposed to himself that
question for solution, for the purpose of removing from himself the
odium of this matter,  it might have been thought that his view
of the subject was consistent with the truth, only that he had
refrained from mentioning it, on the ground that not on all occasions
need we say all we think. He proposed the question of grace, and
answered it in the way that he had in his heart; the question has been
defined,--not in the way we wished, but according to the doubt we
entertained as to what was his meaning.
 Matt. vi. 13.
 Rom. vii. 23.
 See above, ch. 59, sub init.
Chapter 63 [LIV.]--Does God Create Contraries?
He next endeavours, by much quotation from the apostle, about which
there is no controversy, to show "that the flesh is often mentioned by
him in such a manner as proves him to mean not the substance, but the
works of the flesh." What is this to the point? The defects of the
flesh are contrary to the will of man; his nature is not accused; but
a Physician is wanted for its defects. What signifies his question,
"Who made man's spirit?" and his own answer thereto, "God, without a
doubt?" Again he asks, "Who created the flesh?" and again answers,
"The same God, I suppose." And yet a third question, "Is the God good
who created both?" and the third answer, "Nobody doubts it." Once more
a question, "Are not both good, since the good Creator made them?" and
its answer, "It must be confessed that they are." And then follows his
conclusion: "If, therefore, both the spirit is good, and the flesh is
good, as made by the good Creator, how can it be that the two good
things should be contrary to one another?" I need not say that the
whole of this reasoning would be upset if one were to ask him, "Who
made heat and cold?" and he were to say in answer, "God, without a
doubt." I do not ask the string of questions. Let him determine
himself whether these conditions of climate may either be said to be
not good, or else whether they do not seem to be contrary to each
other. Here he will probably object, "These are not substances, but
the qualities of substances." Very true, it is so. But still they are
natural qualities, and undoubtedly belong to God's creation; and
substances, indeed, are not said to be contrary to each other in
themselves, but in their qualities, as water and fire. What if it be
so too with flesh and spirit? We do not affirm it to be so; but, in
order to show that his argument terminates in a conclusion which does
not necessarily follow, we have said so much as this. For it is quite
possible for contraries not to be reciprocally opposed to each other,
but rather by mutual action to temper health and render it good; just
as, in our body, dryness and moisture, cold and heat,--in the
tempering of which altogether consists our bodily health. The fact,
however, that "the flesh is contrary to the Spirit, so that we cannot
do the things that we would,"  is a defect, not nature. The
Physician's grace must be sought, and their controversy must end.
 Gal. v. 17.
Chapter 64.--Pelagius' Admission as Regards the Unbaptized, Fatal.
Now, as touching these two good substances which the good God created,
how, against the reasoning of this man, in the case of unbaptized
persons, can they be contrary the one to the other? Will he be sorry
to have said this too, which he admitted out of some regard to the
Christians' faith? For when he asked, "How, in the case of any person
who is already baptized, can it be that his flesh is contrary to him?"
he intimated, of course, that in the case of unbaptized persons it is
possible for the flesh to be contrary. For why insert the clause, "who
is already baptized," when without such an addition he might have put
his question thus: "How in the case of any person can the flesh be
contrary?" and when, in order to prove this, he might have subjoined
that argument of his, that as both body and spirit are good (made as
they are by the good Creator), they therefore cannot be contrary to
each other? Now, suppose unbaptized persons (in whom, at any rate, he
confesses that the flesh is contrary) were to ply him with his own
arguments, and say to him, Who made man's spirit? he must answer, God.
Suppose they asked him again, Who created the flesh? and he answers,
The same God, I believe. Suppose their third question to be, Is the
God good who created both? and his reply to be, Nobody doubts it.
Suppose once more they put to him his yet remaining inquiry, Are not
both good, since the good Creator made them? and he confesses it. Then
surely they will cut his throat with his own sword, when they force
home his conclusion on him, and say: Since therefore the spirit of man
is good, and his flesh good, as made by the good Creator, how can it
be that the two being good should be contrary to one another? Here,
perhaps, he will reply: I beg your pardon, I ought not to have said
that the flesh cannot be contrary to the spirit in any baptized
person, as if I meant to imply that it is contrary in the unbaptized;
but I ought to have made my statement general, to the effect that the
flesh in no man's case is contrary. Now see into what a corner he
drives himself. See what a man will say, who is unwilling to cry out
with the apostle, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."  "But why," he
asks, "should I so exclaim, who am already baptized in Christ? It is
for them to cry out thus who have not yet received so great a benefit,
whose words the apostle in a figure transferred to himself,--if indeed
even they say so much." Well, this defence of nature does not permit
even these to utter this exclamation! For in the baptized, there is no
nature; and in the unbaptized, nature is not! Or if even in the one
class it is allowed to be corrupted, so that it is not without reason
that men exclaim, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from
this body of death?" to the other, too, help is brought in what
follows: "The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;" then let
it at last be granted that human nature stands in need of Christ for
 Rom. vii. 24, 25.
Chapter 65 [LV.]--"This Body of Death," So Called from Its Defect, Not
from Its Substance.
Now, I ask, when did our nature lose that liberty, which he craves to
be given to him when he says: "Who shall liberate me?"  For even
he finds no fault with the substance of the flesh when he expresses
his desire to be liberated from the body of this death, since the
nature of the body, as well as of the soul, must be attributed to the
good God as the author thereof. But what he speaks of undoubtedly
concerns the offences of the body. Now from the body the death of the
body separates us; whereas the offences contracted from the body
remain, and their just punishment awaits them, as the rich man found
in hell.  From these it was that he was unable to liberate
himself, who said: "Who shall liberate me from the body of this
death?"  But whensoever it was that he lost this liberty, at
least there remains that "inseparable capacity" of nature,--he has the
ability from natural resources,--he has the volition from free will.
Why does he seek the sacrament of baptism? Is it because of past sins,
in order that they may be forgiven, since they cannot be undone? Well,
suppose you acquit and release a man on these terms, he must still
utter the old cry; for he not only wants to be mercifully let off from
punishment for past offences, but to be strengthened and fortified
against sinning for the time to come. For he "delights in the law of
God, after the inward man; but then he sees another law in his
members, warring against the law of his mind."  Observe, he sees
that there is, not recollects that there was. It is a present
pressure, not a past memory. And he sees the other law not only
"warring," but even "bringing him into captivity to the law of sin,
which is"(not which was) "in his members."  Hence comes that cry
of his: "O wretched man that I am! who shall liberate me from the body
of this death?"  Let him pray, let him entreat for the help of
the mighty Physician. Why gainsay that prayer? Why cry down that
entreaty? Why shall the unhappy suitor be hindered from begging for
the mercy of Christ,--and that too by Christians? For, it was even
they who were accompanying Christ that tried to prevent the blind man,
by clamouring him down, from begging for light; but even amidst the
din and throng of the gainsayers He hears the suppliant;  whence
the response: "The grace of God, through Jesus Christ out Lord."
 Rom. vii. 24.
 Luke xvi. 23.
 Rom. vii. 24.
 Rom. vii. 22, 23.
 Rom. vii. 23.
 Rom. vii. 24.
 Mark x. 46-52.
 Rom. vii. 25.
Chapter 66.--The Works, Not the Substance, of the "Flesh" Opposed to
Now if we secure even this concession from them, that unbaptized
persons may implore the assistance of the Saviour's grace, this is
indeed no slight point against that fallacious assertion of the
self-sufficiency of nature and of the power of free will. For he is
not sufficient to himself who says, "O wretched man that I am! who
shall liberate me?" Nor can he be said to have full liberty who still
asks for liberation. [LVI.] But let us, moreover, see to this point
also, whether they who are baptized do the good which they would,
without any resistance from the lust of the flesh. That, however,
which we have to say on this subject, our author himself mentions,
when concluding this topic he says: "As we remarked, the passage in
which occur the words, `The flesh lusteth against the Spirit,' 
must needs have reference not to the substance, but to the works of
the flesh." We too allege that this is spoken not of the substance of
the flesh, but of its works, which proceed from carnal
concupiscence,--in a word, from sin, concerning which we have this
precept: "Not to let it reign in our mortal body, that we should obey
it in the lusts thereof." 
 Gal. v. 17.
 Rom. vi. 12.
Chapter 67 [LVII.]--Who May Be Said to Be Under the Law.
But even our author should observe that it is to persons who have been
already baptized that it was said: "The flesh lusteth against the
Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the
things that ye would."  And lest he should make them slothful
for the actual conflict, and should seem by this statement to have
given them laxity in sinning, he goes on to tell them: "If ye be led
of the Spirit, ye are no longer under the law."  For that man is
under the law, who, from fear of the punishment which the law
threatens, and not from any love for righteousness, obliges himself to
abstain from the work of sin, without being as yet free and removed
from the desire of sinning. For it is in his very will that he is
guilty, whereby he would prefer, if it were possible, that what he
dreads should not exist, in order that he might freely do what he
secretly desires. Therefore he says, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye
are not under the law,"--even the law which inspires fear, but gives
not love. For this "love is shed abroad in our hearts," not by the
letter of the law, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
 This is the law of liberty, not of bondage; being the law of
love, not of fear; and concerning it the Apostle James says: "Whoso
looketh into the perfect law of liberty."  Whence he, too, no
longer indeed felt terrified by God's law as a slave, but delighted in
it in the inward man, although still seeing another law in his members
warring against the law of his mind. Accordingly he here says: "If ye
be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." So far, indeed, as
any man is led by the Spirit, he is not under the law; because, so far
as he rejoices in the law of God, he lives not in fear of the law,
since "fear has torment,"  not joy and delight.
 Gal. v. 17.
 Gal. v. 18.
 Rom. v. 5.
 Jas. i. 25.
 1 John iv. 18.
Chapter 68 [LVIII.]--Despite the Devil, Man May, by God's Help, Be
If, therefore, we feel rightly on this matter, it is our duty at once
to be thankful for what is already healed within us, and to pray for
such further healing as shall enable us to enjoy full liberty, in that
most absolute state of health which is incapable of addition, the
perfect pleasure of God.  For we do not deny that human nature
can be without sin; nor ought we by any means to refuse to it the
ability to become perfect, since we admit its capacity for
progress,--by God's grace, however, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By
His assistance we aver that it becomes holy and happy, by whom it was
created in order to be so. There is accordingly an easy refutation of
the objection which our author says is alleged by some against him:
"The devil opposes us." This objection we also meet in entirely
identical language with that which he uses in reply: "We must resist
him, and he will flee. `Resist the devil,' says the blessed apostle,
`and he will flee from you.'  From which it may be observed,
what his harming amounts to against those whom he flees; or what power
he is to be understood as possessing, when he prevails only against
those who do not resist him." Such language is my own also; for it is
impossible to employ truer words. There is, however, this difference
between us and them, that we, whenever the devil has to be resisted,
not only do not deny, but actually teach, that God's help must be
sought; whereas they attribute so much power to will as to take away
prayer from religious duty. Now it is certainly with a view to
resisting the devil and his fleeing from us that we say when we pray,
"Lead us not into temptation;"  to the same end also are we
warned by our Captain, exhorting us as soldiers in the words: "Watch
ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." 
 Ps. xvi. 11.
 Jas. iv. 17.
 Matt. vi. 13.
 Mark xiv. 38.
Chapter 69 [LIX.]--Pelagius Puts Nature in the Place of Grace.
In opposition, however, to those who ask, "And who would be unwilling
to be without sin, if it were put in the power of a man?" he rightly
contends, saying "that by this very question they acknowledge that the
thing is not impossible; because so much as this, many, if not all
men, certainly desire." Well then, let him only confess the means by
which this is possible, and then our controversy is ended. Now the
means is "the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ;" by which he
nowhere has been willing to allow that we are assisted when we pray,
for the avoidance of sin. If indeed he secretly allows this, he must
forgive us if we suspect otherwise. For he himself works this result,
who, though encountering so much obloquy on this subject, wishes to
entertain the secret opinion, and yet is unwilling to confess or
profess it. It would surely be no great matter were he to speak out,
especially since he has undertaken to handle and open this point, as
if it had been objected against him on the side of opponents. Why on
such occasions did he choose only to defend nature, and assert that
man was so created as to have it in his power not to sin if he wished
not to sin; and, from the fact that he was so created, definitely say
that the power was owing to God's grace which enabled him to avoid
sin, if he was unwilling to commit it; and yet refuse to say anything
concerning the fact that even nature itself is either, because
disordered, healed by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ or
else assisted by it, because in itself it is so insufficient?
Chapter 70 [LX.]--Whether Any Man is Without Sin in This Life.
Now, whether there ever has been, or is, or ever can be, a man living
so righteous a life in this world as to have no sin at all, may be an
open question among true and pious Christians;  but whoever
doubts the possibility of this sinless state after this present life;
is foolish. For my own part, indeed, I am unwilling to dispute the
point even as respects this life. For although that passage seems to
me to be incapable of bearing any doubtful sense, wherein it is
written, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified"  (and
so of similar passages), yet I could wish it were possible to show
either that such quotations were capable of bearing a better
signification, or that a perfect and plenary righteousness, to which
it were impossible for any accession to be made, had been realized at
some former time in some one whilst passing through this life in the
flesh, or was now being realized, or would be hereafter. They,
however, are in a great majority, who, while not doubting that to the
last day of their life it will be needful to them to resort to the
prayer which they can so truthfully utter, "Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,"  still trust that
in Christ and His promises they possess a true, certain, and unfailing
hope. There is, however, no method whereby any persons arrive at
absolute perfection, or whereby any man makes the slightest progress
to true and godly righteousness, but the assisting grace of our
crucified Saviour Christ, and the gift of His Spirit; and whosoever
shall deny this cannot rightly, I almost think, be reckoned in the
number of any kind of Christians at all.
 See next treatise--its preface, or Admonitio.
 Ps. cxliii. 2.
 Matt. vi. 12.
Chapter 71 [LXI.]--Augustin Replies Against the Quotations Which
Pelagius Had Advanced Out of the Catholic Writers. Lactantius.
Accordingly, with respect also to the passages which he has
adduced,--not indeed from the canonical Scriptures, but out of certain
treatises of catholic writers,--I wish to meet the assertions of such
as say that the said quotations make for him. The fact is, these
passages are so entirely neutral, that they oppose neither our own
opinion nor his. Amongst them he wanted to class something out of my
own books, thus accounting me to be a person who seemed worthy of
being ranked with them. For this I must not be ungrateful, and I
should be sorry--so I say with unaffected friendliness--for him to be
in error, since he has conferred this honour upon me. As for his first
quotation, indeed, why need I examine it largely, since I do not see
here the author's name, either because he has not given it, or because
from some casual mistake the copy which you  forwarded to me did
not contain it? Especially as in writings of such authors I feel
myself free to use my own judgment (owing unhesitating assent to
nothing but the canonical Scriptures), whilst in fact there is not a
passage which he has quoted from the works of this anonymous author
 that disturbs me. "It behooved," says he, "for the Master and
Teacher of virtue to become most like to man, that by conquering sin
He might show that man is able to conquer sin." Now, however this
passage may be expressed, its author must see to it as to what
explanation it is capable of bearing. We, indeed, on our part, could
not possibly doubt that in Christ there was no sin to conquer,--born
as He was in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in sinful flesh itself.
Another passage is adduced from the same author to this effect: "And
again, that by subduing the desires of the flesh He might teach us
that it is not of necessity that one sins, but of set purpose and
will."  For my own part, I understand these desires of the flesh
(if it is not of its unlawful lusts that the writer here speaks) to be
such as hunger, thirst, refreshment after fatigue, and the like. For
it is through these, however faultless they be in themselves, that
some men fall into sin,--a result which was far from our blessed
Saviour, even though, as we see from the evidence of the gospel, these
affections were natural to Him owing to His likeness to sinful flesh.
 Timasius and Jacobus, to whom the treatise is addressed. See
 Lactantius is the writer from whom Pelagius takes his first
quotations here. See his Instit. Divin. iv. 24.
 Lactantius, Instit. Divin. iv. 25.
Chapter 72 [LXI.]--Hilary. The Pure in Heart Blessed. The Doing and
Perfecting of Righteousness.
He quotes the following words from the blessed Hilary: "It is only
when we shall be perfect in spirit and changed in our immortal state,
which blessedness has been appointed only for the pure in heart,
 that we shall see that which is immortal in God."  Now I
am really not aware what is here said contrary to our own statement,
or in what respect this passage is of any use to our opponent, unless
it be that it testifies to the possibility of a man's being "pure in
heart." But who denies such possibility? Only it must be by the grace
of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and not merely by our freedom
of will. He goes on to quote also this passage: "This Job had so
effectually read these Scriptures, that he kept himself from every
wicked work, because he worshipped God purely with a mind unmixed with
offences: now such worship of God is the proper work of
righteousness."  It is what Job had done which the writer here
spoke of, not what he had brought to perfection in this world,--much
less what he had done or perfected without the grace of that Saviour
whom he had actually foretold.  For that man, indeed, abstains
from every wicked work, who does not allow the sin which he has within
him to have dominion over him; and who, whenever an unworthy thought
stole over him, suffered it not to come to a head in actual deed. It
is, however, one thing not to have sin, and another to refuse
obedience to its desires. It is one thing to fulfil the command, "Thou
shalt not covet;"  and another thing, by an endeavour at any
rate after abstinence, to do that which is also written, "Thou shalt
not go after thy lusts."  And yet one is quite aware that he can
do nothing of all this without the Saviour's grace. It is to work
righteousness, therefore, to fight in an internal struggle with the
internal evil of concupiscence in the true worship of God; whilst to
perfect it means to have no adversary at all. Now he who has to fight
is still in danger, and is sometimes shaken, even if he is not
overthrown; whereas he who has no enemy at all rejoices in perfect
peace. He, moreover, is in the highest truth said to be without sin in
whom no sin has an indwelling,--not he who, abstaining from evil
deeds, uses such language as "Now it is no longer I that do it, but
the sin that dwelleth in me." 
 See Matt. v. 8.
 Hilary in loco.
 Hilary's Fragments.
 Job xix. 25.
 Ex. xx. 17.
 Ecclus. xviii. 30.
 Rom. vii. 20.
Chapter 73.--He Meets Pelagius with Another Passage from Hilary.
Now even Job himself is not silent respecting his own sins; and your
friend,  of course, is justly of opinion that humility must not
by any means "be put on the side of falsehood." Whatever confession,
therefore, Job makes, inasmuch as he is a true worshipper of God, he
undoubtedly makes it in truth.  Hilary, likewise, while
expounding that passage of the psalm in which it is written, "Thou
hast despised all those who turn aside from Thy commandments," 
says: "If God were to despise sinners, He would despise indeed all
men, because no man is without sin; but it is those who turn away from
Him, whom they call apostates, that He despises." You observe his
statement: it is not to the effect that no man was without sin, as if
he spoke of the past; but no man is without sin; and on this point, as
I have already remarked, I have no contention with him. But if one
refuses to submit to the Apostle John,--who does not himself declare,
"If we were to say we have had no sin," but "If we say we have no
sin,"  --how is he likely to show deference to Bishop Hilary? It
is in defence of the grace of Christ that I lift up my voice, without
which grace no man is justified,--just as if natural free will were
sufficient. Nay, He Himself lifts up His own voice in defence of the
same. Let us submit to Him when He says: "Without me ye can do
 Pelagius, the friend of Timasius and Jacobus.
 Job xl. 4, and xlii. 6.
 Ps. cxix. 21, or 118.
 1 John i. 8.
 John xv. 5.
Chapter 74 [LXIII.]--Ambrose.
St. Ambrose, however, really opposes those who say that man cannot
exist without sin in the present life. For, in order to support his
statement, he avails himself of the instance of Zacharias and
Elisabeth, because they are mentioned as "having walked in all the
commandments and ordinances" of the law "blameless."  Well, but
does he for all that deny that it was by God's grace that they did
this through our Lord Jesus Christ? It was undoubtedly by such faith
in Him that holy men lived of old, even before His death. It is He who
sends the Holy Ghost that is given to us, through whom that love is
shed abroad in our hearts whereby alone whosoever are righteous are
righteous. This same Holy Ghost the bishop expressly mentioned when he
reminds us that He is to be obtained by prayer (so that the will is
not sufficient unless it be aided by Him); thus in his hymn he says:
"Votisque præstat sedulis,
Sanctum mereri Spiritum,"  --
"To those who sedulously seek He gives to gain the Holy Spirit."
 Luke i. 6. See Ambrose in loco (Exp. 61, s. 17).
 Ambrose's Hymns, 3.
Chapter 75.--Augustin Adduces in Reply Some Other Passages of Ambrose.
I, too, will quote a passage out of this very work of St. Ambrose,
from which our opponent has taken the statement which he deemed
favourable for citation: "`It seemed good to me,'" he says; "but what
he declares seemed good to him cannot have seemed good to him alone.
For it is not simply to his human will that it seemed good, but also
as it pleased Him, even Christ, who, says he, speaketh in me, who it
is that causes that which is good in itself to seem good to ourselves
also. For him on whom He has mercy He also calls. He, therefore, who
follows Christ, when asked why he wished to be a Christian, can
answer: `It seemed good to me.' In saying this he does not deny that
it also pleased God; for from God proceeds the preparation of man's
will inasmuch as it is by God's grace that God is honoured by His
saint."  See now what your author must learn, if he takes
pleasure in the words of Ambrose, how that man's will is prepared by
God, and that it is of no importance, or, at any rate, does not much
matter, by what means or at what time the preparation is accomplished,
provided no doubt is raised as to whether the thing itself be capable
of accomplishment without the grace of Christ. Then, again, how
important it was that he should observe one line from the words of
Ambrose which he quoted! For after that holy man had said, "Inasmuch
as the Church has been gathered out of the world, that is, out of
sinful men, how can it be unpolluted when composed of such polluted
material, except that, in the first place, it be washed of sins by the
grace of Christ, and then, in the next place, abstain from sins
through its nature of avoiding sin?"--he added the following sentence,
which your author has refused to quote for a self-evident reason; for
[Ambrose] says: "It was not from the first unpolluted, for that was
impossible for human nature: but it is through God's grace and nature
that because it no longer sins, it comes to pass that it seems
unpolluted."  Now who does not understand the reason why your
author declined adding these words? It is, of course, so contrived in
the discipline of the present life, that the holy Church shall arrive
at last at that condition of most immaculate purity which all holy men
desire; and that it may in the world to come, and in a state unmixed
with anything of evil men, and undisturbed by any law of sin resisting
the law of the mind, lead the purest life in a divine eternity. Still
he should well observe what Bishop Ambrose says,--and his statement
exactly tallies with the Scriptures: "It was not from the first
unpolluted, for that condition was impossible for human nature." By
his phrase, "from the first," he means indeed from the time of our
being born of Adam. Adam no doubt was himself created immaculate; in
the case, however, of those who are by nature children of wrath,
deriving from him what in him was corrupted, he distinctly averred
that it was an impossibility in human nature that they should be
immaculate from the first.
 Ambrose on Luke i. 3.
 Ambrose on Luke i. 6.
Chapter 76 [LXIV.]--John of Constantinople.
He quotes also John, bishop of Constantinople, as saying "that sin is
not a substance, but a wicked act." Who denies this? "And because it
is not natural, therefore the law was given against it, and because it
proceeds from the liberty of our will."  Who, too, denies this?
However, the present question concerns our human nature in its
corrupted state; it is a further question also concerning that grace
of God whereby our nature is healed by the great Physician, Christ,
whose remedy it would not need if it were only whole. And yet your
author defends it as capable of not sinning, as if it were sound, or
as if its freedom of will were self-sufficient.
 Compare Chrysostom's Homily on Eph. ii. 3.
What Christian, again, is unaware of what he quotes the most blessed
Xystus, bishop of Rome and martyr of Christ, as having said, "God has
conferred upon men liberty of their own will, in order that by purity
and sinlessness of life they may become like unto God?"  But the
man who appeals to free will ought to listen and believe, and ask Him
in whom he believes to give him His assistance not to sin. For when he
speaks of "becoming like unto God," it is indeed through God's love
that men are to be like unto God,--even the love which is "shed abroad
in our hearts," not by any ability of nature or the free will within
us, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."  Then, in
respect of what the same martyr further says, "A pure mind is a holy
temple for God, and a heart clean and without sin is His best altar,"
who knows not that the clean heart must be brought to this perfection,
whilst "the inward man is renewed day by day,"  but yet not
without the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord? Again, when he
says, "A man of chastity and without sin has received power from God
to be a son of God," he of course meant it as an admonition that on a
man's becoming so chaste and sinless (without raising any question as
to where and when this perfection was to be obtained by him,--although
in fact it is quite an interesting question among godly men, who are
notwithstanding agreed as to the possibility of such perfection on the
one hand, and on the other hand its impossibility except through "the
one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"); 
--nevertheless, as I began to say, Xystus designed his words to be an
admonition that, on any man's attaining such a high character, and
thereby being rightly reckoned to be among the sons of God, the
attainment must not be thought to have been the work of his own power.
This indeed he, through grace, received from God, since he did not
have it in a nature which had become corrupted and depraved,--even as
we read in the Gospel, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He
power to become the sons of God;"  which they were not by
nature, nor could at all become, unless by receiving Him they also
received power through His grace. This is the power which is claimed
for itself by the fortitude of that love which is only communicated to
us by the Holy Ghost bestowed upon us.
 This passage, which Pelagius had quoted as from Xystus the
Roman bishop and martyr, Augustin subsequently ascertained to have had
for its author Sextus, a Pythagorean philosopher. See the passage of
the Retractations, ii. 42, at the head of this treatise.
 Rom. v. 5.
 2 Cor. iv. 16.
 1 Tim. ii. 5.
 John i. 12.
Chapter 78 [LXV.]--Jerome.
We have next a quotation of some words of the venerable presbyter
Jerome, from his exposition of the passage where it is written:
"`Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.'  These
are they whom no consciousness of sin reproves," he says, and adds:
"The pure man is seen by his purity of heart; the temple of God cannot
be defiled."  This perfection is, to be sure, wrought in us by
endeavour, by labour, by prayer, by effectual importunity therein that
we may be brought to the perfection in which we may be able to look
upon God with a pure heart, by His grace through our Lord Jesus
Christ. As to his quotation, that the forementioned presbyter said,
"God created us with free will; we are drawn by necessity neither to
virtue nor to vice; otherwise, where there is necessity there is no
crown;"  --who would not allow this? Who would not cordially
accept it? Who would deny that human nature was so created? The
reason, however, why in doing a right action there is no bondage of
necessity, is that liberty comes of love.
 Matt. v. 8.
 Jerome on Matt. v. 8 (Comm. Book i. c. 5).
 Jerome, Against Jovinianus, ii. 3.
Chapter 79 [LXVI.]--A Certain Necessity of Sinning.
But let us revert to the apostle's assertion: "The love of God is shed
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." 
By whom given if not by Him who "ascended up on high, led captivity
captive, and gave gifts unto men?"  Forasmuch, however, as there
is, owing to the defects that have entered our nature, not to the
constitution of our nature, a certain necessary tendency to sin, a man
should listen, and in order that the said necessity may cease to
exist, learn to say to God, "Bring Thou me out of my necessities;"
 because in the very offering up of such a prayer there is a
struggle against the tempter, who fights against us concerning this
very necessity; and thus, by the assistance of grace through our Lord
Jesus Christ, both the evil necessity will be removed and full liberty
 Rom. v. 5.
 Eph. iv. 8.
 Ps. xxv. 17.
Chapter 80 [LXVII.]--Augustin Himself. Two Methods Whereby Sins, Like
Diseases, are Guarded Against.
Let us now turn to our own case. "Bishop Augustin also," says your
author, "in his books on Free Will has these words: `Whatever the
cause itself of volition is, if it is impossible to resist it,
submission to it is not sinful; if, however, it may be resisted, let
it not be submitted to, and there will be no sin. Does it, perchance,
deceive the unwary man? Let him then beware that he be not deceived.
Is the deception, however, so potent that it is not possible to guard
against it? If such is the case, then there are no sins. For who sins
in a case where precaution is quite impossible? Sin, however, is
committed; precaution therefore is possible.'"  I acknowledge
it, these are my words; but he, too, should condescend to acknowledge
all that was said previously, seeing that the discussion is about the
grace of God, which helps us as a medicine through the Mediator; not
about the impossibility of righteousness. Whatever, then, may be the
cause, it can be resisted. Most certainly it can. Now it is because of
this that we pray for help, saying, "Lead us not into temptation,"
 and we should not ask for help if we supposed that the
resistance were quite impossible. It is possible to guard against sin,
but by the help of Him who cannot be deceived.  For this very
circumstance has much to do with guarding against sin that we can
unfeignedly say, "Forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors."
 Now there are two ways whereby, even in bodily maladies, the
evil is guarded against,--to prevent its occurrence, and, if it
happen, to secure a speedy cure. To prevent its occurrence, we may
find precaution in the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation;" to
secure the prompt remedy, we have the resource in the prayer, "Forgive
us our debts." Whether then the danger only threaten or be inherent,
it may be guarded against.
 Augustin, De Libero Arbitrio, iii. 18 (50).
 Matt. vi. 13.
 Augustin gives a similar reply to the objection in his
Retractations, i. 9.
 Matt. vi. 12.
Chapter 81.--Augustin Quotes Himself on Free Will.
In order, however, that my meaning on this subject may be clear not
merely to him, but also to such persons as have not read those
treatises of mine on Free Will, which your author has read, and who
have not only not read them, but perchance do read him; I must go on
to quote out of my books what he has omitted, but which, if he had
perceived and quoted in his book, no controversy would be left between
us on this subject. For immediately after those words of mine which he
has quoted, I expressly added, and (as fully as I could) worked out,
the train of thought which might occur to any one's mind, to the
following effect: "And yet some actions are disapproved of, even when
they are done in ignorance, and are judged deserving of chastisement,
as we read in the inspired authorities." After taking some examples
out of these, I went on to speak also of infirmity as follows: "Some
actions also deserve disapprobation, that are done from necessity; as
when a man wishes to act rightly and cannot. For whence arise those
utterances: `For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I
would not, that I do'?"  Then, after quoting some other passages
of the Holy Scriptures to the same effect, I say: "But all these are
the sayings of persons who are coming out of that condemnation of
death; for if this is not man's punishment, but his nature, then those
are no sins." Then, again, a little afterwards I add: "It remains,
therefore, that this just punishment come of man's condemnation. Nor
ought it to be wondered at, that either by ignorance man has not free
determination of will to choose what he will rightly do, or that by
the resistance of carnal habit (which by force of mortal transmission
has, in a certain sense, become engrafted into his nature), though
seeing what ought rightly to be done and wishing to do it, he yet is
unable to accomplish it. For this is the most just penalty of sin,
that a man should lose what he has been unwilling to make good use of,
when he might with ease have done so if he would; which, however,
amounts to this, that the man who knowingly does not do what is right
loses the ability to do it when he wishes. For, in truth, to every
soul that sins there accrue these two penal consequences--ignorance
and difficulty. Out of the ignorance springs the error which
disgraces; out of the difficulty arises the pain which afflicts. But
to approve of falsehoods as if they were true, so as to err
involuntarily, and to be unable, owing to the resistance and pain of
carnal bondage, to refrain from deeds of lust, is not the nature of
man as he was created, but the punishment of man as under
condemnation. When, however, we speak of a free will to do what is
right, we of course mean that liberty in which man was created." Some
men at once deduce from this what seems to them a just objection from
the transfer and transmission of sins of ignorance and difficulty from
the first man to his posterity. My answer to such objectors is this:
"I tell them, by way of a brief reply, to be silent and to cease from
murmuring against God. Perhaps their complaint might have been a
proper one, if no one from among men had stood forth a vanquisher of
error and of lust; but when there is everywhere present One who calls
off from himself, through the creature by so many means, the man who
serves the Lord, teaches him when believing, consoles him when hoping,
encourages him when loving, helps him when endeavouring, hears him
when praying,--it is not reckoned to you as a fault that you are
involuntarily ignorant, but that you neglect to search out what you
are ignorant of; nor is it imputed to you in censure that you do not
bind up the limbs that are wounded, but that you despise him who
wishes to heal them."  In such terms did I exhort them, as well
as I could, to live righteously; nor did I make the grace of God of
none effect, without which the now obscured and tarnished nature of
man can neither be enlightened nor purified. Our whole discussion with
them on this subject turns upon this, that we frustrate not the grace
of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord by a perverted assertion of
nature. In a passage occurring shortly after the last quoted one, I
said in reference to nature: "Of nature itself we speak in one sense,
when we properly describe it as that human nature in which man was
created faultless after his kind; and in another sense as that nature
in which we are born ignorant and carnally minded, owing to the
penalty of condemnation, after the manner of the apostle, `We
ourselves likewise were by nature children of wrath, even as others.'"
 Rom. vii. 19.
 De Libero Arbitrio, iii. 19.
 Eph. ii. 3.
Chapter 82 [LXVIII.]--How to Exhort Men to Faith, Repentance, and
If, therefore, we wish "to rouse and kindle cold and sluggish souls by
Christian exhortations to lead righteous lives,"  we must first
of all exhort them to that faith whereby they may become Christians,
and be subjects of His name and authority, without whom they cannot be
saved. If, however, they are already Christians but neglect to lead
holy lives, they must be chastised with alarms and be aroused by the
praises of reward,--in such a manner, indeed, that we must not forget
to urge them to godly prayers as well as to virtuous actions, and
furthermore to instruct them in such wholesome doctrine that they be
induced thereby to return thanks for being able to accomplish any step
in that holy life which they have entered upon, without difficulty,
 and whenever they do experience such "difficulty," that they
then wrestle with God in most faithful and persistent prayer and ready
works of mercy to obtain from Him facility. But provided they thus
progress, I am not over-anxious as to the where and the when of their
perfection in fulness of righteousness; only I solemnly assert, that
wheresoever and whensoever they become perfect, it cannot be but by
the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When, indeed, they
have attained to the clear knowledge that they have no sin, let them
not say they have sin, lest the truth be not in them;  even as
the truth is not in those persons who, though they have sin, yet say
that they have it not.
 This passage, and others in this and the following chapters,
are marked as quotations, apparently cited from Pelagius by Augustin.
 For the "difficulty," which is one of the penal consequences of
sin, see last chapter, about its middle.
 1 John i. 8.
Chapter 83 [LXIX.]--God Enjoins No Impossibility, Because All Things
are Possible and Easy to Love.
But "the precepts of the law are very good," if we use them lawfully.
 Indeed, by the very fact (of which we have the firmest
conviction) "that the just and good God could not possibly have
enjoined impossibilities," we are admonished both what to do in easy
paths and what to ask for when they are difficult. Now all things are
easy for love to effect, to which (and which alone) "Christ's burden
is light,"  --or rather, it is itself alone the burden which is
light. Accordingly it is said, "And His commandments are not
grievous;"  so that whoever finds them grievous must regard the
inspired statement about their "not being grievous" as having been
capable of only this meaning, that there may be a state of heart to
which they are not burdensome, and he must pray for that disposition
which he at present wants, so as to be able to fulfil all that is
commanded him. And this is the purport of what is said to Israel in
Deuteronomy, if understood in a godly, sacred, and spiritual sense,
since the apostle, after quoting the passage, "The word is nigh thee,
even in thy mouth and in thy heart"  (and, as the verse also has
it, in thine hands,  for in man's heart are his spiritual
hands), adds in explanation, "This is the word of faith which we
preach."  No man, therefore, who "returns to the Lord his God,"
as he is there commanded, "with all his heart and with all his soul,"
 will find God's commandment "grievous." How, indeed, can it be
grievous, when it is the precept of love? Either, therefore, a man has
not love, and then it is grievous; or he has love, and then it is not
grievous. But he possesses love if he does what is there enjoined on
Israel, by returning to the Lord his God with all his heart and with
all his soul. "A new commandment," says He, "do I give unto you, that
ye love one another;"  and "He that loveth his neighbour hath
fulfilled the law;"  and again, "Love is the fulfilling of the
law."  In accordance with these sayings is that passage, "Had
they trodden good paths, they would have found, indeed, the ways of
righteousness easy."  How then is it written, "Because of the
words of Thy lips, I have kept the paths of difficulty,"  except
it be that both statements are true: These paths are paths of
difficulty to fear; but to love they are easy?
 See 1 Tim. i. 8.
 Matt. xi. 30.
 1 John v. 3.
 Deut. xxx. 14, quoted Rom. x. 8.
 According to the Septuagint, which adds after en te kardia sou
the words kai en tais chersi sou. This was probably Pelagius' reading.
Compare Quæstion. in Deuteron. Book v. 54.
 Rom. x. 8.
 Deut. xxx. 2.
 John xiii. 34.
 Rom. xiii. 8.
 Rom. xiii. 10.
 Prov. ii. 20.
 Ps. xvii. 4.
Chapter 84 [LXX.]--The Degrees of Love are Also Degrees of Holiness.
Inchoate love, therefore, is inchoate holiness; advanced love is
advanced holiness; great love is great holiness; "perfect love is
perfect holiness,"--but this "love is out of a pure heart, and of a
good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,"  "which in this life
is then the greatest, when life itself is contemned in comparison with
it."  I wonder, however, whether it has not a soil in which to
grow after it has quitted this mortal life! But in what place and at
what time soever it shall reach that state of absolute perfection,
which shall admit of no increase, it is certainly not "shed abroad in
our hearts" by any energies either of the nature or the volition that
are within us, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," 
"and which both helps our infirmity and co-operates with our strength.
For it is itself indeed the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus
Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, appertaineth
eternity, and all goodness, for ever and ever. Amen.
 1 Tim. i. 5.
 See note at beginning of ch. 82 for the meaning of this mark of
 Rom. v. 5.
Also, see links to 600+ other Augustine Manuscripts:
E-mail to: BELIEVE
The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at:
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet