Writings of Augustine. A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians.

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Augustin and the Pelagian Controversy.

A Treatise Against Two Letters of the Pelagians.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Extract from Augustin's "Retractations," Book II. Chap. 61,

On the Following Treatise, "contra duas epistolas pelagianorum."

Then follow four books which I wrote to Boniface, bishop of the Roman Church, in opposition to two letters of the Pelagians, because when they came into his hands he had sent them to me, finding in them a calumnious mention of my name. This work commences on this wise: "I had indeed known you by the praise of your renowned fame."


A Treatise against two Letters of the Pelagians, [2526]

by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;

In Four Books,

written to boniface, bishop of the roman church, in opposition to two letters of the pelagians, a.d. 420, or a little later

.


Book I.


Augustin replies to a letter sent by Julian, as it was said, to Rome; and first of all vindicates the catholic doctrine from his calumnies; then discovers and confutes the heretical sense of the Pelagians hidden in that profession of faith which the author of the letter opposed to the catholics.


Chapter 1.--Introduction: Address to Boniface.

I Had indeed known you by the praise of your renowned fame; and by very numerous and veracious messengers I had learned how full you were of the grace of God, most blessed and venerable Pope Boniface! But after my brother Alypius saw you even in bodily presence; and, having been received by you with all kindness and sincerity, held, at the bidding of affection, conversations with you; and living with you, and, although only for a short time, united with you in earnest affection, poured out to your mind both himself and me; and brought you back to me in his mind:--the more assured was your friendship, the greater became in me the conviction of your holiness. For you, who mind not high things, however loftily you are placed, did not disdain to be a friend of the lowly and to return the love bestowed upon you. For what else is friendship which has its name from no other source than love, [2527] and is nowhere faithful but in Christ, in whom alone it can be eternal and happy? Whence, also, having received a greater assurance by means of that brother, through whom I have learned to know you more familiarly, I have ventured to write something to your blessedness concerning those things which at this juncture are claiming by a later stimulus the episcopal care, as far as we are able, to vigilance on behalf of the Lord's flock.

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Footnotes

[2527] The Latin words being amicitia (friendship) and amor (love).


Chapter 2.--Why Heretical Writings Must Be Answered.

For the new heretics, enemies of the grace of God which is given by Jesus Christ our Lord to small and great, although they are already shown more openly to need to be avoided by a manifest disapprobation, still do not cease by their writings to try the hearts of the less cautious and less learned. And these must certainly be answered, lest they should confirm themselves or their friends in that wicked error; even if we were not afraid that they might deceive some one of the catholics by their plausible discourse. But since they do not cease to growl at the entrances to the Lord's fold, and from every side to tear open approaches with a view to tear in pieces the sheep redeemed at such a price; and since the pastoral watch-tower is common to all of us who discharge the office of the episcopate (although you are prominent therein on a loftier height), I do what I can in respect of my small portion of the charge, as the Lord condescends by the aid of your prayers to grant me power, to oppose to their pestilent and crafty writings, healing and defensive writings, so that the madness with which they are raging may either itself be cured, or may be prevented from hurting others.


Chapter 3.--Why He Addresses His Book to Boniface.

But these words which I am answering to their two letters,--the one, to wit, which Julian is said to have sent to Rome, that by its means, as I believe, he might find or make as many allies as he could; and the other, which eighteen so-called bishops, sharers in his error, dared to write to Thessalonica, not to any and every body, but to the bishop of that place itself, with a view of tempting him by their craftiness and bringing him over, if it could be done, to their views;--these words which, as I said, I am writing in answer to those two letters of theirs in respect of that argument, I have determined to address especially to your sanctity, not so much for your learning as for your examination and, if perchance anything should displease you, for your correction. For my brother intimated to me that you yourself condescended to give those letters to him, which could not come into your hands except by the most watchful diligence of my brethren, your sons. And I thank your most sincere kindness to me that you have been unwilling that those letters of the enemies of God's grace should be hidden from me, seeing that in them you have found my name calumniously as well as openly expressed. But I hope from my Lord God that not without the reward which is in heaven do those tear me with their scurrilous teeth to whom I oppose myself on behalf of the little ones, that they may not be left for destruction to the deceitful flatterer Pelagius, but may be presented for deliverance to the truthful Saviour Christ.


Chapter 4 [II.]--The Calumny of Julian,--That the Catholics Teach that Free Will is Taken Away by Adam's Sin.

Let us now, therefore, reply to Julian's letter. "Those Manicheans say," says he, "with whom now we do not communicate,--that is, the whole of them with whom we differ,--that by the sin of the first man, that is, of Adam, free will perished: and that no one has now the power of living well, but that all are constrained into sin by the necessity of their flesh." He calls the catholics Manicheans, after the manner of that Jovinian who a few years ago, as a new heretic, destroyed the virginity of the blessed Mary, and placed the marriage of the faithful on the same level with her sacred virginity. And he did not object this to the catholics on any other ground than that he wished them to seem to be either accusers or condemners of marriage.


Chapter 5.--Free Choice Did Not Perish With Adam 's Sin. What Freedom Did Perish.

But in defending free will they hasten to confide rather in it for doing righteousness than in God's aid, and to glory every one in himself, and not in the Lord. [2528] But who of us will say that by the sin of the first man free will perished from the human race? Through sin freedom indeed perished, but it was that freedom which was in Paradise, to have a full righteousness with immortality; and it is on this account that human nature needs divine grace, since the Lord says, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed" [2529] --free of course to live well and righteously. For free will in the sinner up to this extent did not perish,--that by it all sin, especially they who sin with delight and with love of sin; what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure. Whence also the apostle says, "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." [2530] Behold, they are shown to have been by no means able to serve sin except by another freedom. They are not, then, free from righteousness except by the choice of the will, but they do not become free from sin save by the grace of the Saviour. For which reason the admirable Teacher also distinguished these very words: "For when ye were the servants," says he, "of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye, then, in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being freed from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end eternal life." [2531] He called them "free" from righteousness, not "freed;" but from sin not "free," lest they should attribute this to themselves, but most watchfully he preferred to say "freed," referring this to that declaration of the Lord, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed." [2532] Since, then, the sons of men do not live well unless they are made the sons of God, why is it that this writer wishes to give the power of good living to free will, when this power is not given save by God's grace through Jesus Christ our Lord, as the gospel says: "And as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God"? [2533]

Footnotes

[2528] 1 Cor. i. 31. [2529] John viii. 36. [2530] Rom. vi. 20. [2531] Rom. vi. 20. [2532] John viii. 36 ff. [2533] John i. 12.


Chapter 6 [III.]--Grace is Not Given According to Merits.

But lest perchance they say that they are aided to this,--that they may "have power to become the sons of God," but that they may deserve to receive this power they have first "received Him" by free will with no assistance of grace (because this is the purpose of their endeavour to destroy grace, that they may contend that it is given according to our deservings); lest perchance, then, they so divide that evangelical statement as to refer merit to that portion of it wherein it is said, "But as many as received Him," and then say that in that which follows, "He gave them power to become the sons of God," grace is not given freely, but is repaid to this merit; if it is asked of them what is the meaning of "received Him," will they say anything else than "believed on Him"? And in order, therefore, that they may know that this also pertains to grace, let them read what the apostle says: "And that ye be in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which indeed is to them a cause of perdition, but of your salvation, and that of God; for unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." [2534] Certainly he said that both were given. Let them read what he said also: "Peace be to the brethren, and love, with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." [2535] Let them also read what the Lord Himself says: "No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him." [2536] Where, lest any one should suppose that anything else is said in the words "come to me" than "believe in me," a little after, when He was speaking of His body and blood, and many were offended at His discourse, He says, "The words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and life; but there are some of you which believe not." [2537] Then the Evangelist added, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore I said unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father." [2538] He repeated, to wit, the saying in which He had said, "No man can come unto me, except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him." And He declared that He said this for the sake of believers and unbelievers, explaining what He had said, "except the Father who hath sent me shall draw him," by repeating the very same thing in other words in that which He said, "except it were given him of my Father." Because he is drawn to Christ to whom it is given to believe on Christ. Therefore the power is given that they who believe on Him should become the sons of God, since this very thing is given, that they believe on Him. And unless this power be given from God, out of free will there can be none; because it will not be free for good if the deliverer have not made it free; but in evil he has a free will in whom a deceiver, either secret or manifest, has grafted the love of wickedness, or he himself has persuaded himself of it.

Footnotes

[2534] Phil. i. 28, 29. [2535] Eph. vi. 23. [2536] John vi. 44. [2537] John vi. 64. [2538] John vi. 64 ff.


Chapter 7.--He Concludes that He Does Not Deprive the Wicked of Free Will.

It is not, therefore, true, as some affirm that we say, and as that correspondent of yours ventures moreover to write, that "all are forced into sin," as if they were unwilling, "by the necessity of their flesh;" but if they are already of the age to use the choice of their own mind, they are both retained in sin by their own will, and by their own will are hurried along from sin to sin. For even he who persuades and deceives does not act in them, except that they may commit sin by their will, either by ignorance of the truth or by delight in iniquity, or by both evils,--as well of blindness as of weakness. But this will, which is free in evil things because it takes pleasure in evil, is not free in good things, for the reason that it has not been made free. Nor can a man will any good thing unless he is aided by Him who cannot will evil,--that is, by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. For "everything which is not of faith is sin." [2539] And thus the good will which withdraws itself from sin is faithful, because the just lives by faith. [2540] And it pertains to faith to believe on Christ. And no man can believe on Christ--that is, come to Him--unless it be given to him. [2541] No man, therefore, can have a righteous will, unless, with no foregoing merits, he has received the true, that is, the gratuitous grace from above.

Footnotes

[2539] Rom. xiv. 23. [2540] Hab. ii. 4. [2541] Rom. i. 17.


Chapter 8 [IV.]--The Pelagians Demolish Free Will.

These proud and haughty people will not have this; and yet they do not maintain free will by purifying it, but demolish it by exaggerating it. For they are angry with us who say these things, for no other reason than that they disdain to glory in the Lord. Yet Pelagius feared the episcopal judgment of Palestine; and when it was objected to him that he said that the grace of God is given according to our merits, he denied that he said so, and condemned those who said this with an anathema. [2542] And yet nothing else is found to be defended in the books which he afterwards wrote, thinking that he had made a fraud upon the men who were his judges, by lying or by hiding his meaning, I know not how, in ambiguous words. [2543]

Footnotes

[2542] On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 30. [2543] On the Grace of Christ, 3, 34.


Chapter 9 [V.]--Another Calumny of Julian,--That "It is Said that Marriage is Not Appointed by God."

But now let us see what follows. "They say also," he says, "that those marriages which are now celebrated were not appointed by God, and this is to be read in Augustin's book, [2544] against which I replied in four books. And the words of this Augustin our enemies have taken up by way of hostility to the truth." To these most calumnious words I see that a brief answer must be made, because he repeats them afterwards when he wishes to insinuate what such men as they would say, as if against my words. On that point, with God's assistance, I must contend with him as far as the matter shall seem to demand. Now, therefore, I reply that marriage was ordained by God both then, when it was said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh," [2545] and now, wherefore it is written, "A woman is joined to a man by the Lord." [2546] For nothing else is even now done than that a man cleave to his wife, and they become two in one flesh. Because concerning that very marriage which is now contracted, the Lord was consulted by the Jews whether it was lawful for any cause to put away a wife. And to the testimony of the law on the occasion mentioned, He added, "What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." [2547] The Apostle Paul also applied this witness of the law when he admonished husbands that their wives should be loved by them. [2548] Away, then, with the notion that in my book that man should read anything opposed to these divine testimonies! But either by not understanding, or rather by calumniating, he seeks to twist what he reads into another meaning. But I wrote my book, against which he mentions that he replied in four books, after the condemnation of Pelagius and Coelestius. And this, I have thought, must be said, because that man avers that my words had been taken up by his enemies in hostility to the truth, lest any one should think that these new heretics were condemned as enemies of the grace of Christ on account of this book of mine. But in that book is found the defence rather than the censure of marriage.

Footnotes

[2544] On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book i. [2545] Gen. ii. 24. [2546] Prov. xix. 24. [2547] Matt. xix. 3, 6. [2548] Eph. v. 25.


Chapter 10--The Third Calumny,--The Assertion that Conjugal Intercourse is Condemned.

"They say also," says he, "that sexual impulse and the intercourse of married people were devised by the devil, and that therefore those who are born innocent are guilty, and that it is the work of the devil, not of God, that they are born of this diabolical intercourse. And this, without any ambiguity, is Manicheism." Nay, as I say that marriage was appointed by God for the sake of the ordinance of the begetting of children, so I say that the propagation of children to be begotten could not have taken place without sexual impulse, and without intercourse of husband and wife, even in Paradise, if children were begotten there. But whether such impulse and intercourse would have existed, as is now the case with shameful lust, if no one had sinned, here is the question concerning which I shall argue hereafter, if God will.


Chapter 11 [VI.]--The Purpose of the Pelagians in Praising the Innocence of Conjugal Intercourse.

Yet what it is they wish, what they purpose, to what result they are striving to bring the matter, the words that are added by that writer declare, when he asserts that I say, "that therefore they who are born innocent are guilty, and that it is the work of the devil, not of God, that they are born of this diabolical intercourse." Since, therefore, I neither say that this intercourse of husband and wife is diabolical, especially in the case of believers, which is effected for the sake of generating children who are afterwards to be regenerated; nor that any men are made by the devil, but, in so far as they are men, by God; and nevertheless that even of believing husband and wife are born guilty persons (as if a wild olive were produced from an olive), [2549] on account of original sin, and on this account they are under the devil unless they are born again in Christ, because the devil is the author of the fault, not of the nature: what, on the other hand, are they labouring to bring about who say that infants inherit no original sin, and therefore are not under the devil, except that that grace of God in infants may be made of no effect, by which He has plucked us out, as the apostle says, from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love? [2550] [VII.] When, indeed, they deny that infants are in the power of darkness even before the help of the Lord the deliverer, they are in such wise praising in them the Creator's work as to destroy the mercy of the Redeemer. And because I confess this both in grown-up people and in infants, he says that this is without any ambiguity Manicheism, although it is the most ancient catholic dogma by which the new heretical dogma of these men is overturned.

Footnotes

[2549] On Marriage and Concupiscence, i. 37. [2550] 1 Cor. i. 13.


Chapter 12.--The Fourth Calumny,--That the Saints of the Old Testament are Said to Be Not Free from Sins.

"They say," says he, "that the saints in the Old Testament were not without sins,--that is that they were not free from crimes even by amendment, but they were seized by death in their guilt." Nay, I say that either before the law, or in the time of the Old Testament, they were freed from sins,--not by their own power, because "cursed is every one that hath put his hope in man," [2551] and without any doubt those are under this curse whom also the sacred Psalm notifies, "who trust in their own strength;" [2552] nor by the old covenant which gendereth to bondage, [2553] although it was divinely given by the grace of a sure dispensation; nor by that law itself, holy and just and good as it was, where it is written, "Thou shalt not covet," [2554] since it was not given as being able to give life, but it was added for the sake of transgression until the seed should come to whom the promise was made; but I say that they were freed by the blood of the Redeemer Himself, who is the one Mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus. [2555] But those enemies of the grace of God, which is given to small and great through Jesus Christ our Lord, say that the men of God of old were of a perfect righteousness, lest they should be supposed to have needed the incarnation, the passion, and resurrection of Christ, by belief in whom they were saved.

Footnotes

[2551] Jer. xvii. 5. [2552] Ps. xlix. 6. [2553] Gal. iv. 24. [2554] Ex. xx. 7. [2555] 1 Tim. ii. 5.


Chapter 13 [VIII.]--The Fifth Calumny,--That It is Said that Paul and the Rest of the Apostles Were Polluted by Lust.

He says, "They say that even the Apostle Paul, even all the apostles, were always polluted by immoderate lust." What man, however profane he may be, would dare to say this? But doubtless this man thus misrepresents because they contend that what the apostle said, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not," [2556] and other such things, he said not of himself, but that he introduced the person of somebody else, I know not who, who was suffering these things. Wherefore that passage in his epistle must be carefully considered and investigated, that their error may not lurk in any obscurity of his. Although, therefore, the apostle is here arguing broadly, and with great and lasting conflict maintaining grace against those who were boasting in the law, yet we do come upon a few matters which pertain to the matter in hand. On which subject he says: "Because by the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all them that believe. For there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." [2557] And again: "Where is boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law." [2558] And again: "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but by the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Because the law worketh wrath, for where no law is, there is no transgression." [2559] And in another place: "Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded grace did much more abound." [2560] In still another place: "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace." [2561] And again in another place: "Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), that the law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth? For the woman which is under a husband is joined to her husband by the law so long as he liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is freed from the law of her husband." [2562] And a little after: "Therefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should belong to another, who has risen from the dead that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh the passions of sins which are by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death, but now we are delivered from the law of death in which we were held, so that we may serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." [2563] With these and such like testimonies that teacher of the Gentiles showed with sufficient evidence that the law could not take away sin, but rather increased it, and that grace takes it away; since the law knew how to command, to which command weakness gives way, while grace knows to assist, whereby love is infused. [2564] And lest any one, on account of these testimonies, should reproach the law, and contend that it is evil, the apostle, seeing what might occur to those who ill understand it, himself proposed to himself the same question. "What shall we say, then?" said he. "Is the law sin? Far from it. But I did not know sin except by the law." [2565] He had already said before, "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." It is not, therefore, the taking away, but the knowledge of sin.

Footnotes

[2556] Rom. vii. 18. [2557] Rom. iii. 20. [2558] Rom. iii. 27. [2559] Rom. iv. 13, etc. [2560] Rom. v. 20. [2561] Rom. vi. 14. [2562] Rom. vii. 1, 2. [2563] Rom. vii. 4 ff. [2564] On the Spirit and the Letter, 6. [2565] Rom. vii. 7.


Chapter 14.--That the Apostle is Speaking in His Own Person and that of Others Who Are Under Grace, Not Still Under Law.

And from this point he now begins--and, it was on account of this that I undertook the consideration of these things--to introduce his own person, and to speak as if about himself; where the Pelagians will not have it that the apostle himself is to be understood, but say that he has transfigured another person into himself,--that is, a man placed still under the law, not yet freed by grace. And here, indeed, they ought at least to concede that "in the law no one is justified," as the same apostle says elsewhere; but that the law avails for the knowledge of sin, and for the transgression of the law itself, so that sin, being known and increased, grace may be sought for through faith. But they do not fear that those things should be understood concerning the apostle which he might also say concerning his past, but they fear those things which follow. For here he says: "I had not known lust if the law had not said, Thou shall not covet. But the occasion being taken, sin wrought in me by the commandment all manner of lust. For without the law sin was dead. But I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died, and the commandment which was for life was found for me to be death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. Was, then, that which is good made death unto me? By no means. But sin, that it might appear sin, worked death to me by that which is good, that the sinner or the sin might become by the commandment excessive." All these things, as I have said, the apostle can seem to have commemorated from his past life: so that from what he says, "For I was alive without the law once," he may have wished his first age from infancy to be understood, before the years of reason; but in that he added, "But when the commandment came, sin revived, but I died," he would fain show himself able to receive the commandment, but not to do it, and therefore a transgressor of the law.


Chapter 15 [IX.]--He Sins in Will Who is Only Deterred from Sinning by Fear.

Nor let us be disturbed by what he wrote to the Philippians: "Touching the righteousness which is in the law, one who is without blame." For he could be within in evil affections a transgressor of the law, and yet fulfil the open works of the law, either by the fear of men or of God Himself; but by terror of punishment, not by love and delight in righteousness. For it is one thing to do good with the will of doing good, and another thing to be so inclined by the will to do evil, that one would actually do it if it could be allowed without punishment. For thus assuredly he is sinning within in his will itself, who abstains from sin not by will but by fear. And knowing himself to have been such in these his internal affections, before the grace of God which is through Jesus Christ our Lord, the apostle elsewhere confesses this very plainly. For writing to the Ephesians, he says: "And you, though ye were dead in your trespasses and sins, wherein sometime ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of that spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, in whom also we all at one time had our conversation in the lusts of our flesh, doing the will of our flesh and our affections, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others also: but God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, quickened us together with Christ, by whose grace we are saved." Again to Titus he says: "For we ourselves also were sometime foolish and unbelieving, erring, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and holding one another in hatred." Such was Saul when he says that he was, touching the righteousness which is in the law, without reproach. For that he had not pressed on in the law, and changed his character so as to be without reproach after this hateful life, he plainly shows in what follows, when he says that he was not changed from these evils except by the grace of the Saviour. For adding also this very thing, here as well as to the Ephesians, he says: "But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour shone forth, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and of the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He shed on us most abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."


Chapter 16.--How Sin Died, and How It Revived.

And what he says in that passage of the Epistle to the Romans, "Sin, that it might appear sin, wrought death to me by that which is good," [2566] agrees with the former passages where he said, "But I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust unless the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." [2567] And previously, "By the law is the knowledge of sin," for he said this also here, "that it might appear sin;" that we might not understand what he had said, "For without law sin was dead," except in the sense as if it were not, "it lies hidden, it does not appear, it is completely ignored, as if it were buried in I know not what darkness of ignorance." And in that he says, "And I was alive once without the law," what does he say except, I seemed to myself to live? And with respect to what he added, "But when the commandment came, sin revived," what else is it but sin shone forth, became apparent? Nor yet does he say lived, but revived. For it had lived formerly in Paradise, where it sufficiently appeared, admitted in opposition to the command given; but when it is inherited by children coming into the world, it lies concealed, as if it were dead, until its evil, resisting righteousness, is felt by its prohibition, when one thing is commanded and approved, another thing delights and rules: then, in some measure sin revives in the knowledge of the man that is born, although it had lived already for some time in the knowledge of the man as at first made.

Footnotes

[2566] Rom. vii. 13. [2567] Rom. vii. 7.


Chapter 17 [X.]--"The Law is Spiritual, But I Am Carnal," To Be Understood of Paul.

But it is not so clear how what follows can be understood concerning Paul. "For we know," says he, "that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal." [2568] He does not say, "I was," but, "I am." Was, then, the apostle, when he wrote this, carnal? or does he say this with respect to his body? For he was still in the body of this death, not yet made what he speaks of elsewhere: "It is sown a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body." [2569] For then, of the whole of himself, that is, of both parts of which he consists, he shall be a spiritual man, when even the body shall be spiritual. For it is not absurd that in that life even the flesh should be spiritual, if in this life in those who still mind earthly things even the spirit itself may be carnal. Thus, then, he said, "But I am carnal," because the apostle had not yet a spiritual body, as he might say, "But I am mortal," which assuredly he could not be understood to have said except in respect of his body, which had not yet been clothed with immortality. Moreover, in reference to what he added, "sold under sin," [2570] lest any one think that he was not yet redeemed by the blood of Christ, this also may be understood in respect of that which he says: "And we ourselves, having the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." [2571] For if in this respect he says that he was sold under sin, that as yet his body has not been redeemed from corruption; or that he was sold once in the first transgression of the commandment so as to have a corruptible body which drags down the soul; [2572] what hinders the apostle here from being understood to say about himself that which he says in such wise that it may be understood also of himself, even if in his person he wishes not himself alone, but all, to be received who had known themselves as struggling, without consent, in spiritual delight with the affection of the flesh?

Footnotes

[2568] Rom. vii. 14. [2569] 1 Cor. xv. 44. [The Latin word for "natural" is animale, i.e., "animated," "living," derived from the word anima, "soul," or "animated and animating principle." Compare the note on ch. 36 of On the Soul and its Origin, above.--W.] [2570] Rom. vii. 14. [2571] Rom. viii. 23. [2572] Wisd. ix. 15.


Chapter 18.--How the Apostle Said that He Did the Evil that He Would Not.

Or by chance do we fear what follows, "For that which I do I know not, for what I will I do not, but what I hate that I do," [2573] lest perhaps from these words some one should suspect that the apostle is consenting to the evil works of the concupiscence of the flesh? But we must consider what he adds: "But if I do that which I will not, I consent to the law that it is good." For he says that he rather consents to the law than to the concupiscence of the flesh. For this he calls by the name of sin. Therefore he said that he acted and laboured not with the desire of consenting and fulfilling, but from the impulse of lusting itself. Hence, then, he says, "I consent to the law that it is good." I consent because I do not will what it does not will. Afterwards he says, "Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me." [2574] What does he mean by "now then," but, now at length, under the grace which has delivered the delight of my will from the consent of lust? For, "it is not I that do it," cannot be better understood than that he does not consent to set forth his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. For if he lusts and consents and acts, how can he be said not to do the thing himself, even although he may grieve that he does it, and deeply groan at being overcome?

Footnotes

[2573] Rom. vii. 15. [2574] Rom. vii. 17.


Chapter 19.--What It is to Accomplish What is Good.

And now does not what follows most plainly show whence he spoke? "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing"? [2575] For if he had not explained what he said by the addition of "that is, in my flesh," it might, perchance, be otherwise understood, when he said, "in me." And therefore he repeats and urges the same thing in another form: "For to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good is not." [2576] For this is to perform that which is good, that a man should not even lust. For the good is incomplete when one lusts, even although a man does not consent to the evil of lust. "For the good that I would," says he, "I do not; but the evil that I would not, that I do. Now, if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." [2577] This he repeated impressively, and as it were to stir up the most slothful from slumber: "I find then that the law," said he, "is for me wishing to do good, since evil is present with me." [2578] The law, then, is for one who would do good, but evil is present from lust, though he does not consent to this who says, "It is no longer I that do it."

Footnotes

[2575] Rom. vii. 18. [2576] Rom. vii. 18. [2577] Rom. vii. 20. [2578] Rom. vii. 21.


Chapter 20.--In Me, that Is, in My Flesh.

And he declares both more plainly in what follows: "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but 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." [2579] But in that he said, "bringing me into captivity," he can feel emotion without consenting to it. Whence, because of those three things, two, to wit, of which we have already argued, in that he says, "But I am carnal," and "Sold under sin," and this third, "Bringing me into captivity in the law of sin, which is in my members," the apostle seems to be describing a man who is still living under the law, and is not yet under grace. But as I have expounded the former two sayings in respect of the still corruptible flesh, so also this latter may be understood as if he had said, "bringing me into captivity," in the flesh, not in the mind; in emotion, not in consent; and therefore "bringing me into captivity," because even in the flesh there is not an alien nature, but our own. As, therefore, he himself expounded what he had said, "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing," so also now out of the exposition of that we ought to learn the meaning of this passage, as if he had said, "Bringing me into captivity," that is, "my flesh," "to the law of sin, which is in my members."

Footnotes

[2579] Rom. vii. 21, 22.


Chapter 21.--No Condemnation in Christ Jesus.

Then he adds the reason why he said all these things: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!" And thence he concludes: "Therefore I myself with the mind serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." [2580] To wit, with the flesh, the law of sin, by lusting; but with the mind, the law of God, by not consenting to that lust. "For there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." [2581] For he is not condemned who does not consent to the evil of the lust of the flesh. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made thee free from the law of sin and death," so that, to wit, the lust of the flesh may not appropriate to itself thy consent. And what follows more and more demonstrates the same meaning. But moderation must be used.

Footnotes

[2580] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [2581] Rom. viii. 1.


Chapter 22.--Why the Passage Referred to Must Be Understood of a Man Established Under Grace.

And it had once appeared to me also that the apostle was in this argument of his describing a man under the law. [2582] But afterwards I was constrained to give up the idea by those words where he says, "Now, then, it is no more I that do it." For to this belongs what he says subsequently also: "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." And because I do not see how a man under the law should say, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man;" since this very delight in good, by which, moreover, he does not consent to evil, not from fear of penalty, but from love of righteousness (for this is meant by "delighting"), can only be attributed to grace.

Footnotes

[2582] See Augustin's Exposition of Certain Propositions in the Epistle to the Romans, 44, 45; also his Commentary on Galatians, v. 17; also his letter to Simplicianus, book i. 7, 9.


Chapter 23 [XI.]--What It is to Be Delivered from the Body of This Death.

For when he says also, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" [2583] who can deny that when the apostle said this he was still in the body of this death? And certainly the wicked are not delivered from this, to whom the same bodies are returned for eternal torment. Therefore, to be delivered from the body of this death is to be healed of all the weakness of fleshly lust, and to receive the body, not for penalty, but for glory. With this passage also those words are sufficiently in harmony: "Ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption, of our body." For surely we groan with that groaning wherein we say, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" That also where he says, "For what I do, I know not;" what else is it than: "I will not, I do not approve, I do not consent, I do not do"? Otherwise it is contrary to what he said above, "By the law is the knowledge of sin," and, "I had not known sin but by the law," and, "Sin, that it might appear sin, worked death in me by that which is good." For how did he know sin, of which he was ignorant, by the law? How does sin which is not known appear? Therefore it is said, "I know not," for "I do not," because I myself commit it with no consent of mine; in the same way in which the Lord will say to the wicked, "I know you not," [2584] although, beyond a doubt, nothing can be hid from Him; and as it is said, "Him who had not known sin," [2585] which means who had not done sin, for He had not known what He condemned.

Footnotes

[2583] Rom. vii. 24. [2584] Matt. vii. 23. [2585] 2 Cor. v. 21.


Chapter 24.--He Concludes that the Apostle Spoke in His Own Person, and that of Those Who are Under Grace.

On the careful consideration of these things, and things of the same kind in the context of that apostolical Scripture, the apostle is rightly understood to have signified not, indeed, himself alone in his own person, but others also established under grace, and with him not yet established in that perfect peace in which death shall be swallowed up in victory. [2586] And concerning this he afterwards says, "But if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. If, then, the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." [2587] Therefore, after our mortal bodies have been quickened, not only will there be no consent to sinning, but even the lust of the flesh itself, to which there is no consent, will not remain. And not to have this resistance to the spirit in the mortal flesh, was possible only to that man who came not by the flesh to men. And that the apostles, because they were men, and carried about in the mortality of this life a body which is corrupted and weighs down the soul, [2588] were, therefore, "always polluted with excessive lust," as that man injuriously affirms, be it far from me to say. But I do say that although they were free from consent to depraved lusts, they nevertheless groaned concerning the concupiscence of the flesh, which they bridled by restraint with such humility and piety, that they desired rather not to have it than to subdue it.

Footnotes

[2586] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [2587] Rom. viii. 10, 11. [2588] Wisd. ix. 15.


Chapter 25 [XII.]--The Sixth Calumny,--That Augustin Asserts that Even Christ Was Not Free from Sins.

In like manner as to what he added, that I say, [2589] "that Christ even was not free from sins, but that, from the necessity of the flesh, He spoke falsely, and was stained with other faults," he should see from whom he heard these things, or in whose letters he read them; for that, indeed, he perchance did not understand them, and turned them by the deceitfulness of malice into calumnious meanings.

Footnotes

[2589] See Book iii. 16, below.


Chapter 26 [XIII.]--The Seventh Calumny,--That Augustin Asserts that in Baptism All Sins are Not Remitted.

"They also say," says he, "that baptism does not give complete remission of sins, nor take away crimes, but that it shaves them off, so that the roots of all sins are retained in the evil flesh." Who but an unbeliever can affirm this against the Pelagians? I say, therefore, that baptism gives remission of all sins, and takes away guilt, and does not shave them off; and "that the roots of all sins are" not "retained in the evil flesh, as if of shaved hair on the head, whence the sins may grow to be cut down again." For it was I that found out that similitude, too, for them to use for the purposes of their calumny, as if I thought and said this.


Chapter 27.--In What Sense Lust is Called Sin in the Regenerate.

But concerning that concupiscence of the flesh of which they speak, I believe that they are deceived, or that they deceive; for with this even he that is baptized must struggle with a pious mind, however carefully he presses forward, and is led by the Spirit of God. But although this is called sin, it is certainly so called not because it is sin, but because it is made by sin, as a writing is said to be some one's "hand" because the hand has written it. But they are sins which are unlawfully done, spoken, thought, according to the lust of the flesh, or to ignorance--things which, once done, keep their doers guilty if they are not forgiven. And this very concupiscence of the flesh is in such wise put away in baptism, that although it is inherited by all that are born, it in no respect hurts those that are born anew. And yet from these, if they carnally beget children, it is again derived; and again it will be hurtful to those that are born, unless by the same form it is remitted to them as born again, and remains in them in no way hindering the future life, because its guilt, derived by generation, has been put away by regeneration; and thus it is now no more sin, but is called so, whether because it became what it is by sin, or because it is stirred by the delight of sinning, although by the conquest of the delight of righteousness consent is not given to it. Nor is it on account of this, the guilt of which has already been taken away in the laver of regeneration, that the baptized say in their prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors;" [2590] but on account of sins which are committed, whether in consentings to it, when what is right is overcome by that which pleases, or when by ignorance evil is accepted as if it were good. And they are committed, whether by acting, or by speaking, or--and this is the easiest and the quickest--by thinking. From all which things what believer ever will boast that he has his heart pure? or who will boast that he is pure from sin? [2591] Certainly that which follows in the prayer is said on account of concupiscence: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." "For every one," as it is written, "is tempted when he is drawn away of his own concupiscence, and enticed; then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin." [2592]

Footnotes

[2590] Matt. vi. 12. [2591] Prov. xx. 9. [2592] Jas. i. 14.


Chapter 28 [XIV.]--Many Without Crime, None Without Sin.

All these products of concupiscence, and the old guilt of concupiscence itself, are put away by the washing of baptism. And whatever that concupiscence now brings forth, if they are not those products which are called not only sins, but even crimes, are purified by that method of daily prayer when we say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive," and by the sincerity of alms-giving. For no one is so foolish as to say that that precept of our Lord does not refer to baptized people: "Forgive and it shall be forgiven you, give and it shall be given you." [2593] But none could rightly be ordained a minister in the Church if the apostle had said, "If any is without sin," where he says, "If any is without crime;" [2594] or if he had said, "Having no sin," where he says, "Having no crime." [2595] Because many baptized believers are without crime, but I should say that no one in this life is without sin,--however much the Pelagians are inflated, and burst asunder in madness against me because I say this: not because there remains anything of sin which is not remitted in baptism; but because by us who remain in the weakness of this life such sins do not cease daily to be committed, as are daily remitted to those who pray in faith and work in mercy. This is the soundness of the catholic faith, which the Holy Spirit everywhere sows,--not the vanity and presumption of spirit of heretical pravity.

Footnotes

[2593] Luke vi. 37, 38. [2594] Tit. i. 6. [2595] 1 Tim. iii. 10.


Chapter 29 [XV.]--Julian Opposes the Faith of His Friends to the Opinions of Catholic Believers. First of All, of Free Will.

Now therefore let us see, for the rest, in what way--after thinking that he might calumniously object against me what I believe, and feign what I do not believe--he himself professes his own faith or that of the Pelagians. "In opposition to these things," he says, "we daily argue, and we are unwilling to yield our consent to transgressors, because we say that free will is in all by nature, and could not perish by the sin of Adam; which assertion is confirmed by the authority of all Scriptures." If in any degree it is necessary to say this, you should not say it against the grace of God,--you should not give your consent to transgressors, but you should correct your opinion. But about this, as much as I could, and as far as it seemed to be sufficient, I have argued above.


Chapter 30.--Secondly, of Marriage.

"We say," says he, "that that marriage which is now celebrated throughout the earth was ordained by God, and that married people are not guilty, but that fornicators and adulterers are to be condemned." This is true and catholic doctrine; but what you want to gather from this, to wit, that from the intercourse of male and female those who are born derive no sin to be put away by the laver of regeneration,--this is false and heretical.


Chapter 31.--Thirdly, of Conjugal Intercourse.

"We say," says he, "that the sexual impulse--that is, that the virility itself, without which there can be no intercourse--is ordained by God." To this I reply that the sexual impulse, and, to make use of his word, virility, without which there can be no intercourse, was so appointed by God that there was in it nothing to be ashamed of. For it was not fit that His creature should blush at the work of his Creator; but by a just punishment the disobedience of the members was the retribution to the disobedience of the first man, for which disobedience they blushed when they covered with fig-leaves those shameful parts which previously were not shameful.


Chapter 32 [XVI.]--The Aprons Which Adam and Eve Wore.

For they did not use for themselves tunics to cover their whole bodies after their sin, but aprons, [2596] which some of the less careful of our translators have translated as "coverings." And this indeed is true; but "covering" is a general name, by which may be understood every kind of clothing and veil. And ambiguity ought to be avoided, so that, as the Greek called them perizomata, by which only the shameful parts of the body are covered, so also the Latin should either use the Greek word itself, because now custom has come to use it instead of the Latin, or, as some do, use the word aprons, [2597] or, as others have better named them, wrestling aprons. [2598] Because this name is taken from that ancient Roman custom whereby the youth covered their shameful parts when they were exercised naked in the field; whence even at this day they are called campestrati, [2599] since they cover those members with the girdle. Although, if those members by which sin was committed were to be covered after the sin, men ought not indeed to have been clothed in tunics, but to have covered their hand and mouth, because they sinned by taking and eating. What, then, is the meaning, when the prohibited food was taken, and the transgression of the precept had been committed, of the look turned towards those members? What unknown novelty is felt there, and compels itself to be noticed? And this is signified by the opening of the eyes. For their eyes were not closed, either when Adam gave names to the cattle and birds, or when Eve saw the trees to be beautiful and good; but they were made open--that is, attentive--to consider; as it is written of Agar, the handmaid of Sarah, that she opened her eyes and saw a well, [2600] although she certainly had not had them closed before. As, therefore, they were so suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, which they were daily in the habit of looking upon and were not confused, that they could now no longer bear those members naked, but immediately took care to cover them; did not they--he in the open, she in the hidden impulse--perceive those members to be disobedient to the choice of their will, which certainly they ought to have ruled like the rest by their voluntary command? And this they deservedly suffered, because they themselves also were not obedient to their Lord. Therefore they blushed that they in such wise had not manifested service to their Creator, that they should deserve to lose dominion over those members by which children were to be procreated.

Footnotes

[2596] Gen. iii. 7. [2597] Succinctoria. [2598] Campestria, which, as Augustin explains, is derived from "campester," and that from "campus." See On the City of God, xiv. 17. [2599] i.e. "campestre-clad." [2600] Gen. xxi. 19.


Chapter 33.--The Shame of Nakedness.

This kind of shame--this necessity of blushing--is certainly born with every man, and in some measure is commanded by the very laws of nature; so that, in this matter, even virtuous married people are ashamed. Nor can any one go to such an extreme of evil and disgrace, as, because he knows God to be the author of nature and the ordainer of marriage, to have intercourse even with his wife in any one's sight, or not to blush at those impulses and seek secrecy, where he can shun the sight not only of strangers, but even of all his own relatives. Therefore let human nature be permitted to acknowledge the evil that happens to it by its own fault, lest it should be compelled either not to blush at its own impulses, which is most shameless, or else to blush at the work of its Creator, which is most ungrateful. Of this evil, nevertheless, virtuous marriage makes good use for the sake of the benefit of the begetting of children. But to consent to lust for the sake of carnal pleasure alone is sin, although it may be conceded to married people with permission.


Chapter 34 [XVII.]--Whether There Could Be Sensual Appetite in Paradise Before the Fall.

But, while maintaining, ye Pelagians, the honourableness and fruitfulness of marriage, determine, if nobody had sinned, what you would wish to consider the life of those people in Paradise, and choose one of these four things. For beyond a doubt, either as often as ever they pleased they would have had intercourse; or they would bridle lust when intercourse was not necessary; or lust would arise at the summons of will, just at the time when chaste prudence would have perceived beforehand that intercourse was necessary; or, with no lust existing at all, as every other member served for its own work, so for its own work the organs of generation also would obey the commands of those that willed, without any difficulty. Of these four suppositions, choose which you please; but I think you will reject the two former, in which lust is either obeyed or resisted. For the first one would not be in accordance with so great a virtue, and the second not in harmony with so great a happiness. For be the idea far from us, that the glory of so great a blessedness as that should either be most basely enslaved by always following a preceding lust, or, by resisting it, should not enjoy the most abounding peace. Away, I say, with the thought that that mind should either be gratified by consenting to satisfy the concupiscence of the flesh, arising not opportunely for the sake of procreation, but with unregulated excitement, or that that quiet should find it necessary to restrain it by refusing.


Chapter 35.--Desire in Paradise Was Either None at All, or It Was Obedient to the Impulse of the Will.

But whichever you choose of the two other alternatives, there is no necessity for striving against you with any disputation. For even if you should refuse to elect the fourth, in which there is the highest tranquillity of all the obedient members without any lust, since already the urgency of your arguments has made you hostile to it; that will doubtless please you which I have put in the third place, that that carnal concupiscence, whose impulse attains to the final pleasure which much delights you, should never arise in Paradise except at the bidding of the will when it would be necessary for procreation. If it is agreeable to you to arrange this in Paradise, and if, by means of such a concupiscence of the flesh which should neither anticipate, nor impede, nor exceed the bidding of the will, it appears to you that children could have been begotten, I have no objection. For, as far as I am concerned in this matter, it is enough for me that such a concupiscence of the flesh is not now among men, as you concede there might have been in that place of happiness. For what it now is, the sense of all men certainly confesses, although with modesty; because it both solicits with excessive and importunate uneasiness the chaste, even when they are unwilling and are checking it by moderation, and frequently withdraws itself from the willing and inflicts itself on the unwilling; so that, by its disobedience, it testifies that it is nothing else than the punishment of that first disobedience. Whence, reasonably, both then the first men when they covered their nakedness, and now whoever considers himself to be a man, every no less modest than immodest person is confounded at it--far be it from us to say by the work of God, but--by the penalty of the first and ancient sin. You, however, not for the sake of religious reasoning, but for excited contention,--not on behalf of human modesty, but for your own madness, that even the concupiscence of the flesh itself should not be thought to be currupted, and original sin to be derived from it,--are endeavouring by your argument to recall it absolutely, such as it now is, into Paradise; and to contend that that concupiscence could have been there which would either always be followed by a disgraceful consent, or would sometimes be restrained by a pitiable refusal. I, however, do not greatly care what it delights you to think of it. Still, whatever of men is born by its means, if he is not born again, without doubt he is damned; and he must be under the dominion of the devil, if he is not delivered thence by Christ.


Chapter 36 [XVIII.]--Julian's Fourth Objection, that Man is God's Work, and is Not Constrained to Evil or Good by His Power.

"We maintain," says he, "that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God's grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil." To this I answer, that men, in so far as they are men, are the work of God; but in so far as they are sinners, they are under the devil, unless they are plucked from thence by Him who became the Mediator between God and man, for no other reason than because He could not be a sinner from men. And that no one is forced by God's power unwillingly either into evil or good, but that when God forsakes a man, he deservedly goes to evil, and that when God assists, without deserving he is converted to good. For a man is not good if he is unwilling, but by the grace of God he is even assisted to the point of being willing; because it is not vainly written, "For it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure," [2601] and, "The will is prepared by God." [2602]

Footnotes

[2601] Phil. ii. 13. [2602] Prov. viii. 35.


Chapter 37 [XIX.]--The Beginning of a Good Will is the Gift of Grace.

But you think that a man is so aided by the grace of God in a good work, that in stirring up his will to that very good work you believe that grace does nothing; for this your own words sufficiently declare. For why have you not said that a man is incited by God's grace to a good work, as you have said that he is incited to evil by the suggestions of the devil, but have said that in a good work he is always aided by God's grace?--as if by his own will, and without any grace of God, he undertook a good work, and were then divinely assisted in the work itself, for the sake, that is to say, of the merits of his good will; so that grace is rendered as due,--not given as not due,--and thus grace is made no more grace. [2603] But this is what, in the Palestinian judgment, Pelagius with a deceitful heart condemned,--that the grace of God, namely, is given according to our merits. Tell me, I beseech you, what good, Paul, while he was as yet Saul, willed, and not rather great evils, when breathing out slaughter he went, in horrible darkness of mind and madness, to lay waste the Christians? [2604] For what merits of a good will did God convert him by a marvellous and sudden calling from those evils to good things? What shall I say, when he himself cries, "Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us"? [2605] What is that which I have already mentioned [2606] as having been said by the Lord, "No one can come to me,"--which is understood as "believe on me,"--unless it were given him of my Father"? [2607] Whether is this given to him who is already willing to believe, for the sake of the merits of a good will? or rather is the will itself, as in the case of Saul, stirred up from above, that he may believe, even although he is so averse from the faith as even to persecute the believers? For how has the Lord commanded us to pray for those who persecute us? Do we pray thus that the grace of God may be recompensed them for the sake of their good will, and not rather that the evil will itself may be changed into a good one? Just as we believe that at that time the saints whom he was persecuting did not pray for Saul in vain, that his will might be converted to the faith which he was destroying. And indeed that his conversion was effected from above, appeared even by a manifest miracle. But how many enemies of Christ are at the present day suddenly drawn by God's secret grace to Christ! And if I had not set down this word from the gospel, what things would that man have said in this behalf concerning me, since even now he is stirring, not against me, but against Him who cries, "No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me draw him"! [2608] For He does not say, "except He lead him," so that we can thus in any way understand that his will precedes. For who is "drawn," if he was already willing? And yet no man comes unless he is willing. Therefore he is drawn in wondrous ways to will, by Him who knows how to work within the very hearts of men. Not that men who are unwilling should believe, which cannot be, but that they should be made willing from being unwilling.

Footnotes

[2603] Rom. xi. 6. [2604] Acts ix. 1. [2605] Tit. iii. 5. [2606] See above, ch. 6. [2607] John vi. 66. [2608] John vi. 44.


Chapter 38 [XX.]--The Power of God's Grace is Proved.

That this is true we do not surmise by human conjecture, but we discern by the most evident authority of the divine Scriptures. It is read in the books of the Chronicles: "Also in Judah, the hand of God was made to give them one heart, to do the commandment of the king and of the princes in the word of the Lord." [2609] Also by Ezekiel the prophet the Lord says, "I will give them another heart, and a new spirit will I give them; and I will take away their stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them an heart of flesh, that they may walk in my commandments and observe my judgments and do them." [2610] And what is that which Esther the queen prays when she says, "Give me eloquent speech in my mouth, and enlighten my words in the sight of the lion, and turn his heart to hatred of him that fighteth against us"? [2611] How does she say such things as these in her prayer to God, if God does not work His will in men's hearts? But perchance the woman was foolish in praying thus. Let us see, then, whether the desire of the petitioner was vainly sent on in advance, and whether the result did not follow as of one who heard. Lo, she goes in to the king. We need not say much. And because she did not approach him in her own order, under the compulsion of her great necessity, "he looked upon her," as it is written, "like a bull in the impulse of his indignation. And the queen feared, and her colour was changed through faintness, and she bowed herself upon the head of her maid, who went before her. And God changed him, and converted his indignation into mildness." [2612] Now what need is there to relate what follows, where the divine Scripture testifies that God fulfilled what she had asked for by working in the heart of the king nothing other than the will by which he commanded, and it was done as the queen had asked of him? And now God had heard her that it should be done, who changed the heart of the king by a most secret and efficacious power before he had heard the address of the woman beseeching him, and moulded it from indignation to mildness,--that is, from the will to hurt, to the will to favour,--according to that word of the apostle, "God worketh in you to will also." Did the men of God who wrote these things--nay, did the Spirit of God Himself, under whose guidance such things were written by them--assail the free will of man? Away with the notion! But He has commended both the most righteous judgment and the most merciful aid of the Omnipotent in all cases. For it is enough for man to know that there is no unrighteousness with God. But how He dispenses those benefits, making some deservedly vessels of wrath, others graciously vessels of mercy,--who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? If, then, we attain to the honour of grace, let us not be ungrateful by attributing to ourselves what we have received. "For what have we which we have not received?" [2613]

Footnotes

[2609] 2 Chron. xxx. 12. [2610] Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. [2611] Esther xiv. 13. [2612] Esther xv. 5 ff. [2613] 1 Cor. iv. 7.


Chapter 39 [XXI.]--Julian's Fifth Objection Concerning the Saints of the Old Testament.

"We say," says he, "that the saints of the Old Testament, their righteousness being perfected here, passed to eternal life,--that is, that by the love of virtue they departed from all sins; because those whom we read of as having committed any sin, we nevertheless know to have amended themselves." Of whatever virtue you may declare that the ancient righteous men were possessed, nothing saved them but the belief in the Mediator who shed His blood for the remission of their sins. For their own word is, "I believed, and therefore I spoke." [2614] Whence the Apostle Paul also says, "And we having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." [2615] What is "the same Spirit," but that Spirit whom these righteous men also had who said such things? The Apostle Peter also says, "Why do ye wish to put a yoke upon the heathen, which neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? But, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe that we shall be saved, even as they." [2616] You who are enemies to this grace do not wish this, that the ancients should be believed to have been saved by the same grace of Jesus Christ; but you distribute the times according to Pelagius, [2617] in whose books this is read, and you say that before the law men were saved by nature, then by the law, lastly by Christ, as if to men of the two former times, that is to say, before the law and under the law, the blood of Christ had not been necessary; making void what is said: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." [2618]

Footnotes

[2614] Ps. cxvi. 10. [2615] 2 Cor. iv. 13. [2616] Acts xv. 10, 11. [2617] See above, On Original Sin, 30. [2618] 1 Tim. ii. 5.


Chapter 40 [XXII.]--The Sixth Objection, Concerning the Necessity of Grace for All, and Concerning the Baptism of Infants.

They say, "We confess that the grace of Christ is necessary to all, both to grown-up people and to infants; and we anathematize those who say that a child born of two baptized people ought not to be baptized." I know in what sense you say such things as these--not according to the Apostle Paul, but according to the heretic Pelagius;--to wit, that baptism is necessary for infants, not for the sake of the remission of sins, but only for the sake of the kingdom of heaven; for you give them outside the kingdom of heaven a place of salvation and life eternal, even if they have not been baptized. Nor do you regard what is written, "Whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he who believeth not shall be condemned." [2619] For which reason, in the Church of the Saviour, infants believe by means of other people, even as they have derived those sins which are remitted them in baptism from other people. Nor do you think thus, that they cannot have life who have been without the body and blood of Christ, although He said Himself, "Unless ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall have no life in you." [2620] Or if you are forced by the words of the gospel to confess that infants departing from the body cannot have either life or salvation unless they have been baptized, ask why those who are not baptized are compelled to undergo the judgment of the second death, by the judgment of Him who condemns nobody undeservingly, and you will find what you do not want,--original sin!

Footnotes

[2619] Mark xvi. 16. [2620] John vi. 34.


Chapter 41 [XXIII.]--The Seventh Objection, of the Effect of Baptism.

"We condemn," says he, "those who affirm that baptism does not do away all sins, because we know that full cleansing is conferred by these mysteries." We also say this; but you do not say that infants are also by those same mysteries freed from the bonds of their first birth and of their hateful descent. On which account it behoves you, like other heretics also, to be separated from the Church of Christ, which holds this of old time.


Chapter 42 [XXIV.]--He Rebuts the Conclusion of Julian's Letter.

But now the manner in which he concludes the letter by saying, "Let no one therefore seduce you, nor let the wicked deny that they think these things. But if they speak the truth, either let a hearing be given, or let those very bishops who now disagree with me condemn what I have above said that they hold with the Manicheans, as we condemn those things which they declare concerning us, and a full agreement shall be made; but if they will not, know ye that they are Manicheans, and abstain from their company;"--this is rather to be despised than rebuked. For which of us hesitates to pronounce an anathema against the Manicheans, who say that from the good God neither proceed men, nor was ordained marriage, nor was given the law, which was ministered to the Hebrew people by Moses! But against the Pelagians also, not without reason, we pronounce an anathema, for that they are so hostile to God's grace, which comes through Jesus Christ our Lord, as to say that it is given not freely, but according to our merits, and thus grace is no more grace; [2621] and place so much in free will by which man is plunged into the abyss, as to say that by making good use of it man deserves grace,--although no man can make good use of it except by grace, which is not repaid according to debt, but is given freely by God's mercy. And they so contend that infants are already saved, that they dare deny that they are to be saved by the Saviour. And holding and disseminating these execrable dogmas, they still over and above constantly demand a hearing, when, as condemned, they ought to repent.

Footnotes

[2621] Rom. xi. 6.

Footnotes

[2526] [When Augustin's friend Alypius brought to Africa the extracts from Julian's reply to Augustin's first book On Marriage and Concupiscence, which were sent by Count Valerius, and which occasioned the writing of his second book on the same subject (see above, pp. 259 and 281), he also brought two letters sent by Pope Boniface; the one ascribed to Julian, and the other to eighteen bishops including Julian, which attacked the catholic faith, and Augustin personally. It was in answer to these that this treatise was written.--W.] .


Book II.


He undertakes to examine the second letter of the Pelagians, filled, like the first, with calumnies against the Catholics--a letter that was sent by them to Thessalonica in the name of eighteen bishops; and, first of all, he shows, by the comparison of the heretical writings with one another, that the Catholics are by no means falling into the errors of the Manicheans in detesting the dogmas of the Pelagians. He repels the calumny of prevarication incurred by the Roman clergy in the latter condemnation of Pelagius and Coelestius by Zosimus, showing that the Pelagian dogmas were never approved at Rome, although for some time, by the clemency of Zosimus, Coelestius was mercifully dealt with, with a view to leading him to the correction of his errors. He shows that, under the name of grace, Catholics neither assert a doctrine of fate, nor attribute respect of persons to God; although they truly say that God's grace is not given according to human merits, and that the first desire of good is inspired by God; so that a man does not at all make a beginning of a change from bad to good, unless the unbought and gratuitous mercy of God effects that beginning in him.


Chapter 1.--Introduction; The Pelagians Impeach Catholics as Manicheans.

Let me now consider a second letter, not of Julian's alone, but common to him with several bishops, which they sent to Thessalonica; and let me answer it, with God's help, as I best can. And lest this work of mine become longer than the necessity of the subject itself requires, what need is there to refute those things which do not contain the insidious poison of their doctrine, but seem only to plead for the acquiescence of the Eastern bishops for their assistance, or, on behalf of the catholic faith, against the profanity, as they say, of the Manicheans; with no other view except, a horrible heresy being presented to them, whose adversaries they profess themselves to be, to lie hid as the enemies of grace in praise of nature? For who at any time has stirred any question of these matters against them? or what catholic is displeased because they condemn those whom the apostle foretold as departing from the faith, having their conscience seared, forbidding to marry, abstaining from meats that they think unclean, not thinking that all things were created by God? [2622] Who at any time constrained them to deny that every creature of God is good, and there is no substance which the supreme God has not made, except God Himself, who was not made by any? It is not such things as these, which it is plain are catholic truths, that are rebuked and condemned in them; because not alone the catholic faith holds in detestation the Manichean impiety as exceedingly foolish and mischievous, but also all heretics who are not Manicheans. Whence even these Pelagians do well to utter an anathema against the Manicheans, and to speak against their errors. But they do two evil things, for which they themselves must also be anathematized--one, that they impeach catholics under the name of Manicheans, the other, that they themselves also are introducing the heresy of a new error. For they are not therefore sound in the faith because they are not labouring under the disease of the Manicheans. The kind of pestilence is not always one and the same--as in the bodies, so also in the minds. As, therefore, the physician of the body would not have pronounced a man free from peril of death whom he might have declared free from dropsy, if he had seen him to be sick of some other mortal disease; so truth is not acknowledged in their case because they are not Manicheans, if they are raving in some other kind of perversity. Wherefore what we anathematize with them is one thing, what we anathematize in them is another. For we hold in abhorrence with them what is rightly offensive to them also; just as, nevertheless, we hold in abhorrence in them that for which they themselves are rightly offensive.

Footnotes

[2622] 1 Tim. iv. ff.


Chapter 2 [II.]--The Heresies of the Manicheans and Pelagians are Mutually Opposed, and are Alike Reprobated by the Catholic Church.

The Manicheans say that the good God is not the Creator of all natures; the Pelagians that God is not the Purifier, the Saviour, the Deliverer of all ages among men. The catholic Church condemns both; as well maintaining God's creation against the Manicheans, that no nature may be denied to be framed by Him, as maintaining against the Pelagians that in all ages human nature must be sought after as ruined. The Manicheans rebuke the concupiscence of the flesh, not as if it were an accidental vice, but as if it were a nature bad from eternity; the Pelagians approve it as if it were no vice, but even a natural good. The catholic faith condemns both, saying to the Manicheans, "It is not nature, but it is vice;" saying to the Pelagians, "It is not of the Father, but it is of the world;" in order that both may allow it as an evil sickness to be cured--the former by ceasing to believe it, as it were, incurable, the latter by ceasing to proclaim it as laudable. The Manicheans deny that to a good man the beginning of evil came from free will; the Pelagians say that even a bad man has free will sufficiently to perform the good commandment. The catholic Church condemns both, saying to the former, "God made man upright," [2623] and saying to the latter, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." [2624] The Manicheans say that the soul, as a particle of God, has sin by the commixture of an evil nature; the Pelagians say that the soul is upright, not indeed a particle, but a creature of God, and has not even in this corruptible life any sin. The catholic Church condemns both, saying to the Manicheans, "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree evil and its fruit evil," [2625] which would not be said to man who cannot make his own nature, unless because sin is not nature, but vice; and saying to the Pelagians, "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [2626] In these diseases, opposed as they are to one another, the Manicheans and the Pelagians are at issue, with dissimilar will but with similar vanity, separated by different opinions, but close together by a perverse mind.

Footnotes

[2623] Eccles. vii. 30. [2624] John viii. 36. [2625] Matt. xii. 33. [2626] 1 John i. 8.


Chapter 3.--How Far the Manicheans and Pelagians are Joined in Error; How Far They are Separated.

Still, indeed, they alike oppose the grace of Christ, they alike make His baptism of no account, they alike dishonour His flesh; but, moreover, they do these things in different ways and for different reasons. For the Manicheans assert that divine assistance is given to the merits of a good nature, but the Pelagians, to the merits of a good will. The former say, God owes this to the labours of His members; the latter say, God owes this to the virtues of His servants. In both cases, therefore, the reward is not imputed according to grace, but according to debt. The Manicheans contend, with a profane heart, that the washing of regeneration--that is, the water itself--is superfluous, and is of no advantage. But the Pelagians assert that what is said in holy baptism for the putting away of sins is of no avail to infants, as they have no sin; and thus in the baptism of infants, as far as pertains to the remission of sins, the Manicheans destroy the visible element, but the Pelagians destroy even the invisible sacrament. The Manicheans dishonour Christ's flesh by blaspheming the birth from the Virgin; but the Pelagians by making the flesh of those to be redeemed equal to the flesh of the Redeemer. Since Christ was born, not of course in sinful flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh, while the flesh of the rest of mankind is born sinful. The Manicheans, therefore, who absolutely abominate all flesh, take away the manifest truth from the flesh of Christ; but the Pelagians, who maintain that no flesh is born sinful, take away from Christ's flesh its special and proper dignity.


Chapter 4.--The Two Contrary Errors.

Let the Pelagians, then, cease to object to the catholics that which they are not, but let them rather hasten to amend what they themselves are; and let them not wish to be considered deserving of approval because they are opposed to the hateful error of the Manicheans, but let them acknowledge themselves to be deservedly hateful because they do not put away their own error. For two errors may be opposed to one another, although both are to be reprobated because both are alike opposed to the truth. For if the Pelagians are to be loved because they hate the Manicheans, the Manicheans should also be loved because they hate the Pelagians. But be it far from our catholic mother to choose some to love on the ground that they hate others, when by the warning and help of the Lord she ought to avoid both, and should desire to heal both.


Chapter 5 [III.]--The Calumny of the Pelagians Against the Clergy of the Roman Church.

Moreover, they accuse the Roman clergy, writing, "That, driven by the fear of a command, they have not blushed to be guilty of the crime of prevarication; so that, contrary to their previous judgment, wherein by their proceedings they had assented to the catholic dogma, they subsequently pronounced that the nature of men is evil." Nay, but the Pelagians had conceived, with a false hope, that the new and execrable dogma of Pelagius or Coelestius could be made acceptable to the catholic intelligences of certain Romans, when those crafty spirits--however perverted by a wicked error, yet not contemptible, since they appeared rather to be deserving of considerate correction than of easy condemnation--were treated with somewhat more of lenity than the stricter discipline of the Church required. For while so many and such important ecclesiastical documents were passing and repassing between the Apostolical See and the African bishops, [2627] --and,moreover, when the proceedings in this matter in that see were completed, with Coelestius present and making answer,--what sort of a letter, what decree, is found of Pope Zosimus, of venerable memory, wherein he prescribed that it must be believed that man is born without any taint of original sin? Absolutely he never said this--never wrote it at all. But since Coelestius had written this in his pamphlet, among those matters, merely, on which he confessed that he was still in doubt and desired to be instructed, the desire of amendment in a man of so acute an intellect, who, if he could be put right, would assuredly be of advantage to many, and not the falsehood of the doctrine, was approved. And therefore his pamphlet was called catholic, because this also is the part of a catholic disposition,--if by chance in any matters a man thinks differently from what the truth demands, not with the greatest accuracy to define those matters, but, if detected and demonstrated, to reject them. For it was not to heretics, but to catholics, that the apostle was speaking when he said, "Let us, therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." [2628] This was thought to have been the case in him when he replied that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent of blessed memory, in which all doubt about this matter was removed. And in order that this might be made fuller and more manifest in him, matters were delayed until letters should come from Africa, in which province his craftiness had in some sort become more evidently known. And afterwards these letters came to Rome containing this, that it was not sufficient for men of more sluggish and anxious minds that he confessed his general consent to the letters of Bishop Innocent, but that he ought openly to anathematize the mischievous statements which he had made in his pamphlet; lest if he did not do so, many people of better intelligence should rather believe that in his pamphlet those poisons of the faith had been approved by the catholic see, because it had been affirmed by that see that that pamphlet was catholic, than that they had been amended because of his answer that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent. Then, therefore, when his presence was demanded, in order that by certain and clear answers either the craft of the man or his correction might plainly appear and remain doubtful to no one, he withdrew himself and refused the examination. Neither would the delay which had already been made for the advantage of others have taken place, if it could not be of advantage to the pertinacity and madness of those who were excessively perverse. But if, which be far from the case, it had so been judged in the Roman Church concerning Coelestius or Pelagius, that those dogmas of theirs, which in themselves and with themselves Pope Innocent had condemned, should be pronounced worthy of approval and maintenance, the mark of prevarication would rather have to be branded on the Roman clergy for this. But now, when the first letters of the most blessed Pope Innocent, in reply to the letters of the African bishops, [2629] would have equally condemned this error which these men are endeavouring to commend to us; and his successor, the holy Pope Zosimus, would never have said, never have written, that this dogma which these men think concerning infants is to be held; nay, would even have bound Coelestius by a repeated sentence, when he endeavoured to clear himself, to a consent to the above-mentioned letters of the Apostolic See;--assuredly, whatever in the meanwhile was done more leniently concerning Coelestius, provided the stability of the most ancient and robust faith were maintained, was the most merciful persuasion of correction, not the most pernicious approval of wickedness; and that afterwards, by the same priesthood, Coelestius and Pelagius were condemned by repeated authority, was the proof of a severity, for a little while intermitted, at length of necessity to be carried out, not a denial of a previously-known truth or a new acknowledgment of truth.

Footnotes

[2627] See On Original Sin, 9, 5, 8. [2628] Phil. iii. 15. [2629] See Augustin's Letters, 181, 182, 183.


Chapter 6 [IV.]--What Was Done in the Case of Coelestius and Zosimus.

But what need is there for us to delay longer in speaking of this matter, when there are extant here and there proceedings and writings drawn up, where all those things just as they were transacted may be either learnt or recalled? For who does not see in what degree Coelestius was bound by the interrogations of your holy predecessor and by the answers of Coelestius, whereby he professed that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent, and fastened by a most wholesome chain, so as not to dare any further to maintain that the original sin of infants is not put away in baptism? Because these are the words of the venerable Bishop Innocent concerning this matter to the Carthaginian Council: "For once," he said, "he bore free will; but, using his advantage inconsiderately, and falling into the depths of apostasy, he was overwhelmed, and found no way whereby he could rise from thence; and, deceived for ever by his liberty, he would have lain under the oppression of this ruin, if the advent of Christ had not subsequently for his grace delivered him, and, by the purification of a new regeneration, purged all past sin by the washing of His baptism." [2630] What could be more clear or more manifest than that judgment of the Apostolical See? To this Coelestius professed that he assented, when it was said to him by your holy predecessor, "Do you condemn all those things that are bandied about under your name?" and he himself replied, "I condemn them in accordance with the judgment of your predecessor Innocent, of blessed memory." But among other things which had been uttered under his name, the deacon Paulinus had objected to Coelestius that he said "that the sin of Adam was prejudicial to himself alone, and not to the human race, and that infants newly born were in the same condition in which Adam was before his sin." [2631] Accordingly, if he would condemn the views objected to by Paulinus with a truthful heart and tongue, according to the judgment of the blessed Pope Innocent, what could remain to him afterwards whence he could contend that there was no sin in infants resulting from the past transgression of the first man, which would be purged in holy baptism by the purification of the new regeneration? But he showed that he had answered deceitfully by the final event, when he withdrew himself from the examination, lest he should be compelled, according to the African rescripts, absolutely to mention and anathematize the very words themselves concerning this question which he wrote in his tractate.

Footnotes

[2630] Augustin's Letters, 181, 7. [2631] See On Original Sin, 3.


Chapter 7.--He Suggests a Dilemma to Coelestius.

What was that which the same pope replied to the bishops of Numidia concerning this very cause, because he had received letters from both Councils, as well from the Council of Carthage as from the Council of Mileve--does he not speak most plainly concerning infants? For these are his words: [2632] "For what your Fraternity [2633] asserts that they preach, that infants can be endowed with the rewards of eternal life even without the grace of baptism, is excessively silly; for unless they shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, they shall not have life in themselves. [2634] And they who maintain this as being theirs without regeneration, appear to me to wish to destroy baptism itself, since they proclaim that these have that which we believe is not to be conferred on them without baptism." What does the ungrateful man say to this, when the Apostolic See had already spared him on his profession, as if he were corrected by its most benignant lenity? What does he say to this? Will infants after the end of their life, even if while they live they are not baptized in Christ, be in eternal life, or will they not? If he should say, "They will," how then did he answer that he had condemned what had been uttered under his name "according to the judgment of Innocent, of blessed memory"? Lo, Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, says that infants have not life without Christ's baptism, and without partaking of Christ's body and blood. If he should say, "They will not," how then, if they do not receive eternal life, are they certainly by consequence condemned in eternal death if they derive no original sin?

Footnotes

[2632] See Augustin's Letters, 182, 5. [2633] An address like "your Honour," "your Love," etc. [2634] John vi. 54.


Chapter 8.--The Catholic Faith Concerning Infants.

What do they say to these things who dare also to write their mischievous impieties, and dare to send them to the Eastern bishops? Coelestius is held to have given consent to the letters of the venerable Innocent; the letters themselves of the prelate mentioned are read, and he writes that infants who are not baptized cannot have life. And who will deny that, as a consequence, they have death, if they have not life? Whence, then, in infants, is so wretched a penalty as that, if there is no original fault? How, then, are the Roman clergy charged with prevarication by those forsakers of the faith and opponents of grace under Bishop Zosimus, as if they had had any other view in the subsequent condemnation of Coelestius and Pelagius than that which they had in a former one under Innocent? Because, certainly, since by the letters of the venerable Innocent concerning the abode of infants in eternal death unless they were baptized in Christ, the antiquity of the catholic faith shone forth, assuredly he would rather be a prevaricator from the Roman Church who should deviate from that judgment; and since with God's blessing this did not happen, but that judgment itself was constantly maintained in the repeated condemnation of Coelestius and Pelagius, let them understand that they themselves are in the position wherein they accuse others of being, and let them hereafter be healed of their prevarication from the faith. Because the catholic faith does not say that the nature of man is bad in as far as he was made man at first by the Creator; nor now is what God creates in that nature when He makes men from men, his evil; but what he derives from that sin of the first man.


Chapter 9 [V.]--He Replies to the Calumnies of the Pelagians.

And now we must look to those things which they objected to us in their letters, and briefly mentioned. And to these this is my answer. We do not say that by the sin of Adam free will perished out of the nature of men; but that it avails for sinning in men subjected to the devil; while it is not of avail for good and pious living, unless the will itself of man should be made free by God's grace, and assisted to every good movement of action, of speech, of thought. We say that no one but the Lord God is the maker of those who are born, and that marriage was ordained not by the devil, but by God Himself; yet that all are born under sin on account of the fault of propagation, and that, therefore, all are under the devil until they are born again in Christ. Nor are we maintaining fate under the name of grace, because we say that the grace of God is preceded by no merits of man. If, however, it is agreeable to any to call the will of the Almighty God by the name of fate, while we indeed shun profane novelties of words, we have no use for contending about words.


Chapter 10.--Why the Pelagians Falsely Accuse Catholics of Maintaining Fate Under the Name of Grace.

But, as I was somewhat more attentively considering for what reason they should think it well to object this to us, that we assert fate under the name of grace, I first of all looked into those words of theirs which follow. For thus they have thought that this was to be objected to us: "Under the name," say they, "of grace, they so assert fate as to say that unless God inspired unwilling and resisting man with the desire of good, and that good imperfect, he would neither be able to decline from evil nor to lay hold of good." Then a little after, where they mention what they maintain, I gave heed to what was said by them about this matter. "We confess," say they, that baptism is necessary for all ages, and that grace, moreover, assists the good purpose of everybody; but yet that it does not infuse the love of virtue into a reluctant one, because there is no acceptance of persons with God." [2635] From these words of theirs, I perceived that for this reason they either think, or wish it to be thought, that we assert fate under the name of grace, because we say that God's grace is not given in respect of our merits, but according to His own most merciful will, in that He said, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." [2636] Where, by way of consequence, it is added, "Therefore it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." [2637] Here any one might be equally foolish in thinking or saying that the apostle is an assertor of fate. But here these people sufficiently lay themselves open; for when they malign us by saying that we maintain fate under the name of grace, because we say that God's grace is not given on account of our merits, beyond a doubt they confess that they themselves say that it is given on account of our merits; thus their blindness could not conceal and dissimulate that they believe and think thus, although, when this view was objected to him, Pelagius, in the episcopal judgment of Palestine, with crafty fear condemned it. For it was objected to him from the words of his own disciple Coelestius, indeed, that he himself also was in the habit of saying that God's grace is given on account of our merits. And he in abhorrence, or in pretended abhorrence, of this, did not delay, with his lips at least, to anathematize it; [2638] but, as his later writings indicate, and the assertion of those followers of his makes evident, he kept it in his deceitful heart, until afterwards his boldness might put forth in letters [2639] what the cunning of a denier had then hidden for fear. And still the Pelagian bishops do not dread, and at least are not ashamed, to send their letters to the catholic Eastern bishops, in which they charge us with being assertors of fate because we do not say that even grace is given according to our merits; although Pelagius, fearing the Eastern bishops, did not dare to say this, and so was compelled to condemn it.

Footnotes

[2635] Rom. ii. 11; Col. iii. 25. [2636] Ex. xxxiii. 19; Rom. ix. 15. [2637] Rom. ix. 16. [2638] See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 30. [2639] See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 34.


Chapter 11 [VI.]--The Accusation of Fate is Thrown Back Upon the Adversaries.

But is it true, O children of pride, enemies of God's grace, new Pelagian heretics, that whoever says that all man's good deservings are preceded by God's grace, and that God's grace is not given to merits, lest it should not be grace if it is not given freely but be repaid as due to those who deserve it, seems to you to assert fate? Do not you yourselves also say, whatever be your purpose, that baptism is necessary for all ages? Have you not written in this very letter of yours that opinion concerning baptism, and that concerning grace, side by side? Why did not baptism, which is given to infants, by that very juxtaposition admonish you what you ought to think concerning grace? For these are your words: "We confess that baptism is necessary for all ages, and that grace, moreover, assists the good purpose of everybody; but yet that it does not infuse the love of virtue into a reluctant one, because there is no acceptance of persons with God." In all these words of yours, I for the meanwhile say nothing of what you have said concerning grace. But give a reason concerning baptism, why you should say that it is necessary for all ages; say why it is necessary for infants. Assuredly because it confers some good upon them; and that same something is neither small nor moderate, but of great account. For although you deny that they contract the original sin which is remitted in baptism, yet you do not deny that in that laver of regeneration they are adopted from the sons of men unto the sons of God; nay, you even preach this. Tell us, then, how the infants, whoever they are, that are baptized in Christ and have departed from the body, received so lofty a gift as this, and with what preceding merits. If you should say that they have deserved this by the piety of their parents, it will be replied to you, Why is this benefit sometimes denied to the children of pious people and given to the children of the wicked? For sometimes the offspring born from religious people, in tender age, and thus fresh from the womb, is forestalled by death before it can be washed in the laver of regeneration, and the infant born of Christ's foes is baptized in Christ by the mercy of Christians,--the baptized mother bewails her own little one not baptized, and the chaste virgin gathers in to be baptized a foreign offspring, exposed by an unchaste mother. Here, certainly, the merits of parents are wanting, and even by your own confession the merits of the infants themselves are wanting also. For we know that you do not believe this of the human soul, that it has lived somewhere before it inhabited this earthly body, and has done something either of good or of evil for which it might deserve such difference in the flesh. What cause, then, has procured baptism for this infant, and has denied it to that? Do they have fate because they do not have merit? or is there in these things acceptance of persons with God? For you have said both,--first fate, afterwards acceptance of persons,--that, since both must be refuted, there may remain the merit which you wish to introduce against grace. Answer, then, concerning the merits of infants, why some should depart from their bodies baptized, others not baptized, and by the merits of their parents neither possess nor fail of so excellent a gift that they should become sons of God from sons of men, by no deserving of their parents, by no deservings of their own. You are silent, forsooth, and you find yourselves rather in the same position which you object to us. For if when there is no merit you say that consequently there is fate, and on this account wish the merit of man to be understood in the grace of God, lest you should be compelled to confess fate; see, you rather assert a fate in the baptism of infants, since you avow that in them there is no merit. But if, in the case of infants to be baptized, you deny that any merit at all precedes, and yet do not concede that there is a fate, why do you cry out,--when we say that the grace of God is therefore given freely, lest it should not be grace, and is not repaid as if it were due to preceding merits,--that we are assertors of fate?--not perceiving that in the justification of the wicked, as there are no merits because it is God's grace, so that it is not fate because it is God's grace, and so that it is not acceptance of persons because it is God's grace.


Chapter 12.--What is Meant Under the Name of Fate.

Because they who affirm fate contend that not only actions and events, but, moreover, our very wills themselves depend on the position of the stars at the time in which one is conceived or born; which positions they call "constellations." But the grace of God stands above not only all stars and all heavens, but, moreover, all angels. In a word, the assertors of fate attribute both men's good and evil doings and fortunes to fate; but God in the ill fortunes of men follows up their merits with due retribution, while good fortunes He bestows by undeserved grace with a merciful will; doing both the one and the other not according to a temporal conjunction of stars, but according to the eternal and high counsel of His severity and goodness. We see, then, that neither belongs to fate. Here, if you answer that this very benevolence of God, by which He follows not merits, but bestows undeserved benefits with gratuitous bounty, should rather be called "fate," when the apostle calls this "grace," saying, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God; not of works, lest perchance any one should be lifted up," [2640] --do you not consider, do you not perceive that it is not by us that fate is asserted under the name of grace, but it is rather by you that divine grace is called by the name of fate?

Footnotes

[2640] Eph. ii. 8.


Chapter 13 [VII.]--He Repels the Calumny Concerning the Acceptance of Persons.

And, moreover, we rightly call it "acceptance of persons" where he who judges, neglecting the merit of the cause concerning which he is judging, favours the one against the other, because he finds something in his person which is worthy of honour or of pity. But if any one have two debtors, and he choose to remit the debt to the one, to require it of the other, he gives to whom he will and defrauds nobody; nor is this to be called "acceptance of persons," since there is no injustice. The acceptance of persons may seem otherwise to those who are of small understanding, where the lord of the vineyard gave to those labourers who had done work therein for one hour as much as to those who had borne the burden and heat of the day, making them equal in wages in the labour of whom there had been such a difference. But what did he reply to those who murmured against the goodman of the house concerning this, as it were, acceptance of persons? "Friend," said he, "I do thee no wrong. Hast not thou agreed with me for a denarius? Take what thine is, and go; but I choose to give to this last as to thee. Is it not lawful to me to do what I will? Is thine eye evil because I am good?" [2641] Here, forsooth, is the entire justice: "I choose this. To thee," he says, "I have repaid; on him I have bestowed; nor have I taken anything away from thee to bestow it on him; nor have I either diminished or denied what I owed to you." "May I not do what I will? Is thine eye evil because I am good?" As, therefore, here there is no acceptance of persons, because one is honoured freely in such wise as that another is not defrauded of what is due to him: so also when, according to the purpose of God, one is called, another is not called, a gratuitous benefit is bestowed on the one that is called, of which benefit the calling itself is the beginning,--an evil is repaid to him that is not called, because all are guilty, from the fact that by one man sin entered into the world. And in that parable of the labourers, indeed, where they received one denarius who laboured for one hour, as well as those who laboured twelve times as long,--though assuredly these latter, according to human reasonings, however vain, ought in proportion to the amount of their labour to have received twelve denarii,--both were put on an equality in respect of benefit, not some delivered and others condemned; because even those who laboured more had it from the goodman of the house himself, both that they were so called as to come, and that they were so fed as to have no want. But where it is said, "Therefore, on whom He will He has mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth," [2642] who "maketh one vessel to honour and another to dishonour" [2643] it is given indeed without deserving, and freely, because he is of the same mass to whom it is not given; but evil is deservedly and of debt repaid, since in the mass of perdition evil is not repaid to the evil unjustly. And to him to whom it is repaid it is evil, because it is his punishment; while to Him by whom it is repaid it is good, because it is His right to do it. Nor is there any acceptance of persons in the case of two debtors equally guilty, if to the one is remitted and from the other is claimed that which is equally owed by both.

Footnotes

[2641] Matt. xx. 9 ff. [2642] Rom. ix. 18. [2643] Rom. ix. 21.


Chapter 14.--He Illustrates His Argument by an Example.

But that what I am saying may be made clear by the exhibition of an example, let us suppose certain twins, born of a certain harlot, and exposed that they might be taken up by others. One of them has expired without baptism; the other is baptized. What can we say was in this case the "fate" or the "fortune," which are here absolutely nothing? What "acceptance of persons," when with God there is none, even if there could be any such thing in these cases, seeing that they certainly had nothing for which the one could be preferred to the other, and no merits of their own,--whether good, for which the one might deserve to be baptized; or evil, for which the other might deserve to die without baptism? Were there any merits in their parents, when the father was a fornicator, the mother a harlot? But of whatever kind those merits were, there were certainly not any that were different in those who died in such different conditions, but all were common to both. If, then, neither fate, since no stars made them to differ; nor fortune, since no fortuitous accidents produce these things; nor the diversity of persons nor of merits have done this; what remains, so far as it refers to the baptized child, save the grace of God, which is given freely to vessels made unto honour; but, as it refers to the unbaptized child, the wrath of God, which is repaid to the vessels made for dishonour in respect of the deservings of the lump itself? But in that one which is baptized we constrain you to confess the grace of God, and convince you that no merit of its own preceded; but as to that one which died without baptism, why that sacrament should have been wanting to it, which even you confess to be needful for all ages, and what in that manner may have been punished in him, it is for you to see who will not have it that there is any original sin.


Chapter 15.--The Apostle Meets the Question by Leaving It Unsolved.

Since in the case of those two twins we have without a doubt one and the same case, the difficulty of the question why the one died in one way, and the other in another, is solved by the apostle as it were by not solving it; for, when he had proposed something of the same kind about two twins, seeing that it was said (not of works, since they had not as yet done anything either of good or of evil, but of Him that calleth), "The older shall serve the younger," [2644] and, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated;" [2645] and he had prolonged the horror of this deep thing even to the point of saying, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth:" [2646] he perceived at once what the trouble was, and opposed to himself the words of a gainsayer which he was to check by apostolical authority. For he says, "You say, then, unto me, "Why doth He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?" And to him who says this he answered, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Doth the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power of the clay of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour?" [2647] Then, following on, he opened up this great and hidden secret as far as he judged it fit that it should be disclosed to men, saying, "But if God, willing to show His wrath and to demonstrate His power, endured in much patience the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, even that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory." [2648] This is not only the assistance, but, moreover, the proof of God's grace--the assistance, namely, in the vessels of mercy, but the proof in the vessels of wrath; for in these He shows His anger and makes known His power, because His goodness is so mighty that He even uses the evil well; and in those He makes known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, because what the justice of a punisher requires from the vessels of wrath, the grace of the Deliverer remits to the vessels of mercy. Nor would the kindness which is bestowed on some freely appear, unless to other equally guilty and from the same mass God showed what was really due to both, and condemned them with a righteous judgment. "For who maketh thee to differ?" [2649] says the same apostle to a man as it were boasting concerning himself and his own benefits. "For who maketh thee to differ" from the vessels of wrath; of course, from the mass of perdition which has sent all by one into damnation? "Who maketh thee to differ?" And as if he had answered, "My faith maketh me to differ,--my purpose, my merit,"--he says, "For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received it, why dost thou boast as if thou receivedst it not?"--that is, as if that by which thou art made to differ were of thine own. Therefore He maketh thee to differ who bestows that whence thou art made to differ, by removing the penalty that is due, by conferring the grace which is not due. He maketh to differ, who, when the darkness was upon the face of the abyss, said, "Let there be light; and there was light, and divided"--that is, made to differ--"between the light and the darkness." [2650] For when there was only darkness, He did not find what He should make to differ; but by making the light, He made to differ; so that it may be said to the justified wicked, "For ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." [2651] And thus he who glories must glory not in himself, but in the Lord. He makes to differ who--of those who are not yet born, and who have not yet done any good or evil, that His purpose, according to the election, might stand not of works, but of Himself that calleth--said, The older shall serve the younger, and commending that very purpose afterwards by the mouth of the prophet, said, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." [2652] Because he said "the election," and in this God does not find made by another what He may choose, but Himself makes what He may find; just as it is written of the remnant of Israel: "There is made a remnant by the election of grace; but if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace." [2653] On which account you are certainly foolish who, when the Truth declares, "Not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said," say that Jacob was loved on account of future works which God foreknew that he would do, and thus contradict the apostle when he says, "Not of works;" as if he could not have said, "Not of present, but of future works." But he says, "Not of works," that He might commend grace; "but if of grace, now is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace." For grace, not due, but free, precedes, that by it good works may be done; but if good works should precede, grace should be repaid, as it were, to works, and thus grace should be no more grace.

Footnotes

[2644] Rom. ix. 11. [2645] Rom. ix. 11. [2646] Rom. ix. 18. [2647] Rom. ix. 19. [2648] Rom. ix. 22, 23. [2649] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [2650] Gen. i. 2. [2651] Eph. v. 8. [2652] Mal. i. 2. [2653] Rom. xi. 5.


Chapter 16.--The Pelagians are Refuted by the Case of the Twin Infants Dying, the One After, and the Other Without, the Grace of Baptism.

But that every lurking-place of your darkness may be taken away from you, I have proposed to you the case of such twins as were not assisted by the merits of their parents, and both died in the very beginning of infancy, the one baptized, the other without baptism; lest you should say that God foreknew their future works, as you say of Jacob and Esau, in opposition to the apostle. For how did He foreknow that those things should be, which, in those infants who were to die in infancy, He rather foreknew as not to be, since His foreknowledge cannot be deceived? Or what does it profit those who are taken away from this life that wickedness may not change their understanding, nor deceit beguile their soul, if even the sin which has not been done, said, or thought, is thus punished as if it had been committed? Because, if it is most absurd, silly, and senseless, that certain men should have to be condemned for those sins, the guilt of which they could neither derive from their parents, as you say, nor could incur themselves, either by committing them, or even by conceiving of them, there comes back to you that unbaptized twin brother of the baptized one, and silently asks you for what reason he was made to differ from his brother in respect of happiness,--why he was punished with that infelicity, so that, while his brother was adopted into a child of God, he himself should not receive that sacrament which, as you confess, is necessary for every age, if, even as there is not a fortune or a fate, or an acceptance of persons with God, so there is no gift of grace without merits, and no original sin. To this dumb child you absolutely submit your tongue and voice; to this witness who says nothing,--you have nothing at all to say!


Chapter 17 [VIII.]--Even the Desire of an Imperfect Good is a Gift of Grace, Otherwise Grace Would Be Given According to Merits.

Let us now see, as we can, the nature of this thing which they will have to precede in man, in order that he may be regarded as worthy of the assistance of grace, and to the merit of which in him grace is not given as if unearned, but is rendered as due; and thus grace is no more grace. Let us see, however, what this is. "Under the name," say they, "of grace, they so assert fate as to say that unless God should have inspired the desire for good, and that, imperfect good, into unwilling and resisting man, he would neither be able to decline from evil nor to grasp after good." I have already shown what empty things they speak about fate and grace. Now the question which I ought to consider is this, whether God inspires the desire of good into unwilling and resisting man, that he may be no longer unwilling, no longer resisting, but consenting to the good and willing the good. For those men will have it that the desire of good in man begins from man himself; that the merit of this beginning is, moreover, attended with the grace of completion--if, at least, they will allow so much as even this. For Pelagius says that what is good is "more easily" fulfilled if grace assists. [2654] By which addition--that is, by adding "more easily"--he certainly signifies that he is of the opinion that, even if the aid of grace should be wanting, yet good might be accomplished, although with greater difficulty, by free will. But let me prescribe to my present opponents what they should think in this matter, without speaking of the author of this heresy himself. Let us allow them, with their free will, to be free even from Pelagius himself, and rather give heed to their words which they have written in this letter to which I am replying.

Footnotes

[2654] See above, On the Grace of Christ, ch. 8.


Chapter 18.--The Desire of Good is God's Gift.

For they have thought that it was to be objected to us that we say "that God inspires into unwilling and resisting man the desire," not of any very great good, but "even of imperfect good." Possibly, then, they themselves are keeping open, in some sense at least, a place for grace, as thinking that man may have the desire of good without grace, but only of imperfect good; while of perfect, he could not easily have the desire with grace, but except with it they could not have it at all. Truly, even in this way, too, they are saying that God's grace is given according to our merits, which Pelagius, in the ecclesiastical meeting in the East, condemned, in the fear of being condemned. For if without God's grace the desire of good begins with ourselves, merit itself will have begun--to which, as if of debt, comes the assistance of grace; and thus God's grace will not be bestowed freely, but will be given according to our merit. But that he might furnish a reply to the future Pelagius, the Lord does not say, "Without me it is with difficulty that you can do anything," but He says, "Without me ye can do nothing." [2655] And, that He might also furnish an answer to these future heretics, in that very same evangelical saying He does not say, "Without me you can perfect nothing," but "do" nothing. For if He had said "perfect," they might say that God's aid is necessary not for beginning good, which is of ourselves, but for perfecting it. But let them hear also the apostle. For when the Lord says, "Without me ye can do nothing," in this one word He comprehends both the beginning and the ending. The apostle, indeed, as if he were an expounder of the Lord's saying, distinguished both very clearly when he says, "Because He who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it even to the day of Christ Jesus." [2656] But in the Holy Scriptures, in the writings of the same apostle, we find more about that of which we are speaking. For we are now speaking of the desire of good, and if they will have this to begin of ourselves and to be perfected by God, let them see what they can answer to the apostle when he says, "Not that we are sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." [2657] "To think anything," he says,--he certainly means, "to think anything good;" but is it less to think than to desire. Because we think all that we desire, but we do not desire all that we think; because sometimes also we think what we do not desire. Since, then, it is a smaller thing to think than to desire,--for a man may think good which he does not yet desire, and by advancing may afterwards desire what before without desire he thought of,--how are we not sufficient as of ourselves to that which is less, that is, to the thinking of something good, but our sufficiency is of God; while to that which is greater,--that is, to the desire of some good thing--without the divine help, we are sufficient of free will? For what the apostle says here is not, "Not that we are sufficient as of ourselves to think that which is perfect;" but he says, "to think anything," to which "nothing" is the contrary. And this is the meaning of what the Lord says, "Without me ye can do nothing."

Footnotes

[2655] John xv. 5. [2656] Phil. i. 6. [2657] 2 Cor. iii. 5.


Chapter 19 [IX.]--He Interprets the Scriptures Which the Pelagians Make Ill Use of.

But assuredly, as to what is written, "The preparation of the heart is man's part, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord," [2658] they are misled by an imperfect understanding, so as to think that to prepare the heart--that is, to begin good--pertains to man without the aid of God's grace. Be it far from the children of promise thus to understand it! As if, when they heard the Lord saying, "Without me ye can do nothing," [2659] they would convict Him by saying, "Behold without Thee we can prepare the heart;" or when they heard from Paul the apostle, "Not that we are sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God," [2660] as if they would also convict him, saying, "Behold, we are sufficient of ourselves to prepare our heart, and thus also to think some good thing; for who can without good thought prepare his heart for good?" Be it far from any thus to understand the passage, except the proud maintainers of free will and forsakers of the catholic faith! Therefore, since it is written, "It is man's part to prepare the heart, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord," it is that man prepares his heart, not, however, without the aid of God, who so touches the heart that man prepares the heart. But in the answer of the tongue--that is, in that which the divine tongue answers to the prepared heart--man has no part; but the whole is from the Lord God.

Footnotes

[2658] Prov. xvi. 1. [2659] John xv. 5. [2660] 2 Cor. iii. 5.


Chapter 20.--God's Agency is Needful Even in Man's Doings.

For as it is said, "It is man's part to prepare his heart, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord;" so also is it said, "Open thy mouth, and I will fill it." [2661] For although, save by His assistance without whom we can do nothing, we cannot open our mouth, yet we open it by His aid and by our own agency, while the Lord fills it without our agency. For what is to prepare the heart and to open the mouth, but to prepare the will? And yet in the same scriptures is read, "The will is prepared by the Lord," [2662] and, "Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise." [2663] So God admonishes us to prepare our will in what we read," It is man's part to prepare his heart;" and yet, that man may do this, God helps him, because the will is prepared by the Lord. And," Open thy mouth." This He so says by way of command, as that nobody can do this unless it is done by His aid, to whom it is said, "Thou shalt open my lips." Are any of these men so foolish as to contend that the mouth is one thing, the lips another; and to say with marvellous triviality that man opens his own mouth, and God opens man's lips? And yet God restrains them from even that absurdity where He says to Moses His servant, "I will open thy mouth, and I will instruct thee what thou oughtest to speak." [2664] In that clause, therefore, where He says, "Open thy mouth and I will fill it," it seems, as it were, that one of them pertains to man, the other to God. But in this, where it is said, "I will open thy mouth and will instruct thee," both belong to God. Why is this, except that in one of these cases He co-operates with man as the agent, in the other He does it alone?

Footnotes

[2661] Ps. lxxxi. 10. [2662] Prov. viii. [2663] Ps. li. 15. [2664] Ex. iv. 12.


Chapter 21.--Man Does No Good Thing Which God Does Not Cause Him to Do.

Wherefore God does many good things in man which man does not do; but man does none which God does not cause man to do. Accordingly, there would be no desire of good in man from the Lord if it were not a good; but if it is a good, we have it not save from Him who is supremely and incommunicably good. For what is the desire for good but love, of which John the apostle speaks without any ambiguity, and says, "Love is of God"? [2665] Nor is its beginning of ourselves, and its perfection of God; but if love is of God, we have the whole of it from God. May God by all means turn away this folly of making ourselves first in His gifts, Himself last,--because "His mercy shall prevent me." [2666] And it is He to whom is faithfully and truthfully sung, "For Thou hast prevented him with the blessings of sweetness." [2667] And what is here more fitly understood than that very desire of good of which we are speaking? For good begins then to be longed for when it has begun to grow sweet. But when good is done by the fear of penalty, not by the love of righteousness, good is not yet well done. Nor is that done in the heart which seems to be done in the act when a man would rather not do it if he could evade it with impunity. Therefore the "blessing of sweetness" is God's grace, by which is caused in us that what He prescribes to us delights us, and we desire it,--that is, we love it; in which if God does not precede us, not only is it not perfected, but it is not even begun, from us. For, if without Him we are able to do nothing actually, we are able neither to begin nor to perfect,--because to begin, it is said "His mercy shall prevent me;" [2668] to finish, it is said, "His mercy shall follow me." [2669]

Footnotes

[2665] 1 John iv. 7. [2666] Ps. lix. 10. [2667] Ps. xxi. 3. [2668] Ps. lix. 10. [2669] Ps. xxiii. 6.


Chapter 22 [X.]--According to Whose Purpose the Elect are Called.

Why, then, is it that, in what follows, where they mention what they themselves think, they say they confess "That grace also assists the good purpose of every one, but that yet it does not infuse the desire of virtue into a reluctant heart"? Because they so say this as if man of himself, without God's assistance, has a good purpose and a desire of virtue; and this precedent merit is worthy of being assisted by the subsequent grace of God. For they think, perchance, that the apostle thus said, "For we know that He worketh all things for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to the purpose," [2670] so as to wish the purpose of man to be understood, which purpose, as a good merit, the mercy of the God that calleth might follow; being ignorant that it is said, "Who are called according to the purpose," so that there may be understood the purpose of God, not man, whereby those whom He foreknew and predestinated as conformed to the image of His Son, He elected before the foundation of the world. For not all the called are called according to purpose, since "many are called, few are chosen." [2671] They, therefore, are called according to the purpose, who were elected before the foundation of the world. Of this purpose of God, that also was said which I have already mentioned concerning the twins Esau and Jacob, "That according to the election the purpose of God might remain, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said, that the elder shall serve the younger." [2672] This purpose of God is also mentioned in that place where, writing to Timothy, he says, "Labour with the gospel according to the power of God, who saves us and calls us with this holy calling; not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the eternal ages, but is now made manifest by the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ." [2673] This, then, is the purpose of God, whereof it is said, "He worketh together all things for good for those who are called according to the purpose." But subsequent grace indeed assists man's good purpose, but the purpose would not itself exist if grace did not precede. The desire of man, also, which is called good, although in beginning to exist it is aided by grace, yet does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him of whom the apostle says, "But thanks be to God, who has given the same desire for you in the heart of Titus." [2674] If God gives desire that every one may have it for others, who else will give it that a man may have it for himself?

Footnotes

[2670] Rom. viii. 28. [2671] Matt. xx. 16. [2672] Rom. ix. 11. [2673] 2 Tim. i. 8. [2674] 2 Cor. viii. 16.


Chapter 23.--Nothing is Commanded to Man Which is Not Given by God.

Since these things are so, I see that nothing is commanded to man by the Lord in the Holy Scriptures, for the sake of trying his free will, which is not found either to begin by His goodness, or to be asked in order to demonstrate the aid of grace; nor does man at all begin to be changed by the beginning of faith from evil to good, unless the unbought and gratuitous mercy of God effects this in him. Of which one recalling his thought, as we read in the Psalms, says, "Shall God forget to be gracious? or will He restrain His mercies in His anger? And I said, Now have I begun; this change is of the right hand of the Most High." [2675] When, therefore, he had said, "Now have I begun," he does not say, "This change is of my will," but "of the right hand of the Most High." So, therefore, let God's grace be thought of, that from the beginning of his good changing, even to the end of his completion, he who glorieth may glory in the Lord; because, as no one can perfect good without the Lord, so no one can begin it without the Lord. But let this be the end of this book, that the attention of the reader may be refreshed and strengthened for what follows.

Footnotes

[2675] Ps. lxxvii. 9, 10. .


Book III.


Augustin goes on to refute other matters which are calumniously objected by the Pelagians in the same letter sent to Thessalonica; and expounds, in opposition to their heresy, what those who are truly Catholic say concerning the utility of the law; what they teach of the effect and virtue of baptism; what of the discrepancy between the two Testaments, the Old and the New; what concerning the righteousness and perfection of the prophets and apostles; what of the appellation of sin in Christ, when He is said in the likeness of sinful flesh concerning sin to have condemned sin, or to have become sin; and finally, what they profess concerning the fulfilment of the commandments in the future life.


Chapter 1 [I.]--Statement.

There still follow things which they calumniously object to us; they do not yet begin to work out those things which they themselves think. But lest the prolixity of these writings should be an offence, I have divided those matters which they object into two Books,--the former of which being completed, which is the Second Book of this entire work, I am here commencing the other, and joining it as the Third to the First and Second.


Chapter 2 [II.]--The Misrepresentation of the Pelagians Concerning the Use of the Old Law.

They declare "that we say that the law of the Old Testament was given not for the end that it might justify the obedient, but rather that it might become the cause of greater sin." Certainly, they do not understand what we say concerning the law; because we say what the apostle says, whom they do not understand. For who can say that they are not justified who are obedient to the law, when, unless they were justified, they could not be obedient? But we say, that by the law is effected that what God wills to be done is heard, but that by grace is effected that the law is obeyed. "For not the hearers of the law," says the apostle, "are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." [2676] Therefore the law makes hearers of righteousness, grace makes doers. "For what was impossible to the law," says the same apostle, "in that it was weak through the flesh, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." [2677] This is what we say;--let them pray that they may one day understand it, and not dispute so as never to understand it. For it is impossible that the law should be fulfilled by the flesh, that is, by carnal presumption, in which the proud, who are ignorant of the righteousness of God,--that is, which is of God to man, that he may be righteous,--and desirous of establishing their own righteousness,--as if by their own will, unassisted from above, the law could be fulfilled,--are not subjected to the righteousness of God. [2678] Therefore the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them who walk not according to the flesh--that is, according to man, ignorant of the righteousness of God and desirous of establishing his own--but walk according to the Spirit. But who walks according to the Spirit, except whosoever is led by the Spirit of God? "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." [2679] Therefore "the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive." [2680] And the letter is not evil because it killeth; but it convicts the wicked of transgression. "For the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Was, then," says he, "that which is good made death unto me? By no means; but sin, that it might appear sin, worked death in me by that which is good, that it might become above measure a sinner or a sin by the commandment." [2681] This is what is the meaning of "the letter killeth." "For the sting of death is sin, but the strength of sin is the law;" [2682] because by the prohibition it increases the desires of sin, and thence slays a man unless grace by coming to his assistance makes him alive. [2683]

Footnotes

[2676] Rom ii. 13. [2677] Rom. viii. 3, 4. [2678] Rom. x. 3. [2679] Rom. viii. 14. [2680] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [2681] Rom. vii. 12, 13. [2682] 1 Cor. xv. 56. [2683] See On the Spirit and the Letter, 6.


Chapter 3.--Scriptural Confirmation of the Catholic Doctrine.

This is what we say; this is that about which they object to us that we say "that the law was so given as to be a cause of greater sin." They do not hear the apostle saying, "For the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression;" [2684] and, "The law was added for the sake of transgression until the seed should come to whom the promise was made;" [2685] and, "If there had been a law given which could have given life, righteousness should altogether have been by the law; but the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." [2686] Hence it is that the Old Testament, from the Mount Sinai, where the law was given, gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. "Now we," says he, "are not children of the bondmaid but of the freewoman." [2687] Therefore they are not children of the freewoman who have accepted the law of the letter, whereby they can be shown to be not only sinners, but moreover transgressors; but they who have received the Spirit of grace, whereby the law itself, holy and just and good, may be fulfilled. This is what we say: let them attend and not contend; let them seek enlightenment and not bring false accusations.

Footnotes

[2684] Rom. iv. 15. [2685] Gal. iii. 19. [2686] Gal. iii. 21, 23. [2687] Gal. iv. 24, 31.


Chapter 4 [III.]--Misrepresentation Concerning the Effect of Baptism.

"They assert," say they, "that baptism, moreover, does not make men new--that is, does not give complete remission of sins; but they contend that they are partly made children of God and partly remain children of the world, that is, of the devil." They deceive; they lay traps; they shuffle; we do not say this. For we say that all men who are children of the devil are also children of the world; but not that all children of the world are also children of the devil. Far be it from us to say that the holy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and others of this kind, were children of the devil when they were begetting in marriage, and those believers who until now and still hereafter continue to beget. And yet we cannot contradict the Lord when He says, "The children of this world marry and give in marriage." [2688] Some, therefore, are children of this world, and yet are not children of the devil. For although the devil is the author and source of all sins, yet it is not every sin that makes children of the devil; for the children of God also sin, since if they say they have no sins they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them. [2689] But they sin in virtue of that condition by which they are still children of this world; but by that grace wherewith they are the children of God they certainly sin not, because every one that is born of God sinneth not. [2690] But unbelief makes children of the devil; and unbelief is specially called sin, as if it were the only one, if it is not expressed what is the nature of the sin. As when the "apostle" is spoken of, if it be not expressed what apostle, none is understood but Paul; because he is better known by his many epistles, and he laboured more than they all. For which reason, in what the Lord said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall convict the world of sin," [2691] He meant unbelief to be understood; for He said this when He was explaining, "Of sin because they believed not on me," [2692] and when He says, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they should not have sin." [2693] For He meant not that before they had no sin, but He wished to indicate that very want of faith by which they did not believe Him even when He was present to them and speaking to them; since they belonged to him of whom the apostle says, "According to the prince of the power of the air, who now worketh in the children of unbelief." [2694] Therefore they in whom there is not faith are the children of the devil, because they have not in the inner man any reason why there should be forgiven them whatever is committed either by human infirmity, or by ignorance, or by any evil will whatever. But those are the children of God who certainly, if they should "say that they have no sin, deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them, but immediately" (as it continues) "when they confess their sins" (which the children of the devil do not do, or do not do according to the faith which is peculiar to the children of God), "He is faithful and just to forgive them their sins, and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness." [2695] And in order that what we say may be more fully understood, let Jesus Himself be heard, who certainly was speaking to the children of God when He said: "And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him." [2696] For if these were not the children of God, He would not say to them, "Your Father which is in heaven." And yet He says that they are evil, and that they know how to give good gifts to their children. Are they, then, evil in that they are the children of God? Away with the thought! But they are thence evil because they are still the children of this world, although now made children of God by the pledge of the Holy Spirit.

Footnotes

[2688] Luke xx. 34. [2689] 1 John i. 8. [2690] 1 John iii. 9. [2691] John xvi. 8. [2692] John xvi. 9. [2693] John xv. 22. [2694] Eph. ii. 2. [2695] 1 John i. 8. [2696] Matt. vii. 11.


Chapter 5.--Baptism Puts Away All Sins, But It Does Not at Once Heal All Infirmities.

Baptism, therefore, washes away indeed all sins--absolutely all sins, whether of deeds or words or thoughts, whether original or added, whether such as are committed in ignorance or allowed in knowledge; but it does not take away the weakness which the regenerate man resists when he fights the good fight, but to which he consents when as man he is overtaken in any fault; on account of the former, rejoicing with thanksgiving, but on account of the latter, groaning in the utterance of prayers. On account of the former, saying, "What shall I render to the Lord for all that He has given me?" [2697] On account of the latter, saying, "Forgive us our debts." [2698] On account of the former, saying, "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength." [2699] On account of the latter, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am weak." [2700] On account of the former, saying, "Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net." [2701] On account of the latter, saying, "Mine eye is troubled with wrath." [2702] And there are innumerable passages with which the divine writings are filled, which alternately, either in exultation over God's benefits or in lamentation over our own evils, are uttered by children of God by faith as long as they are still children of this world in respect of the weakness of this life; whom, nevertheless, God distinguishes from the children of the devil, not only by the laver of regeneration, but moreover by the righteousness of that faith which worketh by love, because the just lives by faith. But this weakness with which we contend, with alternating failure and progress, even to the death of the body, and which is of great importance as to what it can overcome in us, shall be consumed by another regeneration, of which the Lord says, "In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones," [2703] etc. Certainly in this passage He without doubt calls the last resurrection the regeneration, which Paul the Apostle also calls both the adoption and the redemption, where he says, "But even we ourselves, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, ourselves also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption, of our body." [2704] Have we not been regenerated, adopted, and redeemed by the holy washing? And yet there remains a regeneration, an adoption, a redemption, which we ought now patiently to be waiting for as to come in the end, that we may then be in no degree any longer children of this world. Whosoever, then, takes away from baptism that which we only receive by its means, corrupts the faith; but whosoever attributes to it now that which we shall receive by its means indeed, but yet hereafter, cuts off hope. For if any one should ask of me whether we have been saved by baptism, I shall not be able to deny it, since the apostle says, "He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." [2705] But if he should ask whether by the same washing He has already absolutely in every way saved us, I shall answer: It is not so. Because the same apostle also says, "For we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, we with patience wait for it." [2706] Therefore the salvation of man is effected in baptism, because whatever sin he has derived from his parents is remitted, or whatever, moreover, he himself has sinned on his own account before baptism; but his salvation will hereafter be such that he cannot sin at all.

Footnotes

[2697] Ps. cxvi. 12. [2698] Matt. vi. 12. [2699] Ps. cxviii. 1. [2700] Ps. vi. 2. [2701] Ps. xxv. 15. [2702] Ps. xxxi. 9. [2703] Matt. xix. 28. [2704] Rom. viii. 23. [2705] Tit. iii. 5. [2706] Rom. viii. 24, 25.


Chapter 6 [IV.]--The Calumny Concerning the Old Testament and the Righteous Men of Old.

Now if these things are so, out of these things are rebutted those which they subsequently object to us. For what catholic would say that which they charge us with saying, "that the Holy Spirit was not the assister of virtue in the old testament," unless when we so understand "the old testament" in the manner in which the apostle spoke of it as "gendering from Mount Sinai into bondage"? But because in it was prefigured the new testament, the men of God who at that time understood this according to the ordering of the times, were indeed the stewards and bearers of the old testament, but are shown to be the heirs of the new. Shall we deny that he belongs to the new testament who says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me"? [2707] or he who says, "He hath set my feet upon a rock, and directed my goings; and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even a hymn to our God"? [2708] or that father of the faithful before the old testament which is from Mount Sinai, of whom the apostle says, "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; yet even a man's testament, when it is confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto. To Abraham and to his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one; and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say," said he, "that the testament confirmed by God, the law which was made four hundred and thirty years after, does not weaken, so as to make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." [2709]

Footnotes

[2707] Ps. li. 10. [2708] Ps. xl. 2, 3. [2709] Gal. iii. 15 ff.


Chapter 7.--The New Testament is More Ancient Than the Old; But It Was Subsequently Revealed.

Here, certainly, if we ask whether this testament, which, he says, being confirmed by God was not weakened by the law, which was made four hundred and thirty years after, is to be understood as the new or the old one, who can hesitate to answer "the new, but hidden in the prophetic shadows until the time should come wherein it should be revealed in Christ"? For if we should say the old, what will that be which genders from Mount Sinai to bondage? For there was made the law four hundred and thirty years after, by which law he asserts that this testament of the promise of Abraham could not be weakened; and he will have this which was made by Abraham to pertain rather to us, whom he will have to be children of the freewoman, not of the bondwoman, heirs by the promise, not by the law, when he says, "For if the inheritance be by the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." [2710] So that, because the law was made four hundred and thirty years after, it might enter that the offence might abound; [2711] since by sin the pride of man presuming on his own righteousness is convinced of transgression, and where sin abounded grace much more abounded [2712] by the faith of the now humble man failing in the law and taking refuge in God's mercy. Therefore, when he had said, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no longer of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise," [2713] as if it might be said to him, "Why then was the law made afterwards? "he added and said, "What then is the law?" [2714] To which interrogation he immediately replied, "It was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to which the promise was made." [2715] This he says again, thus: "For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where there is no law, there is no transgression." [2716] What he says in the former testimony: "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise," this he says in the latter: "For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void; and the promise is made of none effect;" sufficiently showing that to our faith (which certainly is of the new testament) belongs what God gave to Abraham by promise. And what he says in the former testimony, "What then is the law?" and answered, "It was added for the sake of transgression," this he instantly added in the latter testimony, "For the law worketh wrath: for where there is no law, there is no transgression."

Footnotes

[2710] Gal. iii. 18. [2711] Rom. v. 20. [2712] Rom. v. 20. [2713] Gal. iii. 18. [2714] Gal. iii. 19. [2715] Gal. iii. 19. [2716] Rom. iv. 14.


Chapter 8.--All Righteous Men Before and After Abraham are Children of the Promise and of Grace.

Whether, then, Abraham, or righteous men before him or after him, even to Moses himself, by whom was given the testament gendering to bondage from Mount Sinai, or the rest of the prophets after him, and the holy men of God till John the Baptist, they are all children of the promise and of grace according to Isaac the son of the freewoman,--not of the law, but of the promise, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Far be it from us to deny that righteous Noah and the righteous men of the earlier times, and whoever from that time till the time of Abraham could be righteous, either manifestly or hiddenly, belong to the Jerusalem which is above, who is our mother, although they are found to be earlier in time than Sarah, who bore the prophecy and figure of the free mother herself. How much more evidently, then, after Abraham, to whom that promise was declared, that he should be called the father of many nations, must all, whoever have pleased God, be esteemed the children of the promise! For from Abraham, and the righteous men who followed him, the generation is not found more true, but the prophecy more plain.


Chapter 9.--Who are the Children of the Old Covenant.

But those belong to the old testament, "which gendereth from Mount Sinai to bondage," which is Agar, who, when they have received a law which is holy and just and good, think that the letter can suffice them for life; and do not seek the divine mercy, so as they may become doers of the law, but, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, are not subject to the righteousness of God. Of this kind was that multitude which murmured against God in the wilderness, and made an idol; and that multitude which even in the very land of promise committed fornication after strange gods. But this multitude, even in the old testament itself, was strongly rebuked. They, moreover, whoever they were at that time who followed after those earthly promises alone which God promises there, and who were ignorant of that which those promises signify under the new testament, and who kept God's commandments with the desire of gaining and with the fear of losing those promises,--certainly did not observe them, but only seemed to themselves to observe. For there was no faith in them that worked by love, but earthly cupidity and carnal fear. But he who thus fulfils the commandments beyond a doubt fulfils them unwillingly, and then does not do them in his heart; for he would rather not do them at all, if in respect of those things which he desires and fears he might be allowed to neglect them with impunity. And thus, in the will itself within him, he is guilty; and it is here that God, who gives the command, looks. Such were the children of the earthly Jerusalem, concerning which the apostle says, "For she is in bondage with her children," [2717] and belongs to the old testament "which gendereth to bondage from Mount Sinai, which is Agar." Of that same kind were they who crucified the Lord, and continued in the same unbelief. Thence there are still their children in the great multitude of the Jews, although now the new testament as it was prophesied is made plain and confirmed by the blood of Christ; and the gospel is made known from the river where He was baptized and began His teachings, even to the ends of the earth. And these Jews, according to the prophecies which they read, are dispersed everywhere over all the earth, that even from their writings may not be wanting a testimony to Christian truth.

Footnotes

[2717] Gal. iv. 25.


Chapter 10.--The Old Law Also Given by God.

And it is for this reason that God made the old testament, because it pleased God to veil the heavenly promises in earthly promises, as if established in reward, until the fulness of time; and to give to a people which longed for earthly blessings, and therefore had a hard heart, a law, which, although spiritual, was yet written on tables of stone. Because, with the exception of the sacraments of the old books, which were only enjoined for the sake of their significance (although in them also, since they are to be spiritually understood, the law is rightly called spiritual), the other matters certainly which pertain to piety and to good living must not be referred by any interpretation to some significancy, [2718] but are to be done absolutely as they are spoken. Assuredly no one will doubt that that law of God was necessary not alone for that people at that time, but also is now necessary for us for the right ordering of our life. For if Christ took away from us that very heavy yoke of many observances, so that we are not circumcised according to the flesh, we do not immolate victims of the cattle, we do not rest even from necessary works on the Sabbath, retaining the seventh in the revolution of the days, and other things of this kind; but keep them as spiritually understood, and, the symbolizing shadows being removed, are watchful in the light of those things which are signified by them; shall we therefore say, that when it is written that whoever finds another man's property of any kind that has been lost, should return it to him who has lost it, [2719] it does not pertain to us? and many other like things whereby people learn to live piously and uprightly? and especially the Decalogue itself, which is contained in those two tables of stone, apart from the carnal observance of the Sabbath, which signifies spiritual sanctification and rest? For who can say that Christians ought not to be observant to serve the one God with religious obedience, not to worship an idol, not to take the name of the Lord in vain, to honour one's parents, not to commit adulteries, murders, thefts, false witness, not to covet another man's wife, or anything at all that belongs to another man? Who is so impious as to say that he does not keep those precepts of the law because he is a Christian, and is established not under the law, but under grace?

Footnotes

[2718] [i.e., they must not be treated allegorically, as if their literal sense was not important, and they were given only to teach something symbolically or typically.--W.] [2719] Lev. vi. 3.


Chapter 11.--Distinction Between the Children of the Old and of the New Testaments.

But there is plainly this great difference, that they who are established under the law, whom the letter killeth, do these things either with the desire of gaining, or with the fear of losing earthly happiness; and that thus they do not truly do them, since fleshly desire, by which sin is rather bartered or increased, is not healed by desire of another kind. These pertain to the old testament, which genders to bondage; because carnal fear and desire make them servants, gospel faith and hope and love do not make them children. But they who are placed under grace, whom the Spirit quickens, do these things of faith which worketh by love in the hope of good things, not carnal but spiritual, not earthly but heavenly, not temporal but eternal; especially believing on the Mediator, by whom they do not doubt but that a Spirit of grace is ministered to them, so that they may do these things well, and that they may be pardoned when they sin. These pertain to the new testament, are the children of promise, and are regenerated by God the Father and a free mother. Of this kind were all the righteous men of old, and Moses himself, the minister of the old testament, the heir of the new,--because of the faith whereby we live, of one and the same they lived, believing the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Christ as future, which we believe as already accomplished,--even until John the Baptist himself, as it were a certain limit of the old dispensation, who, signifying that the Mediator Himself would come, not with any shadow of the future or allegorical intimation, or with any prophetical announcement, but pointing Him out with his finger, said: "Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him who taketh away the sin of the world." [2720] As if saying, Whom many righteous men have desired to see, on whom, as about to come, they have believed from the beginning of the human race itself, concerning whom the promises were spoken to Abraham, of whom Moses wrote, of whom the law and the prophets are witnesses: "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world." From this John and afterwards, all those things concerning Christ began to become past or present, which by all the righteous men of the previous time were believed, hoped for, desired, as future. Therefore the faith is the same as well in those who, although not yet in name, were in fact previously Christians, as in those who not only are so but are also called so; and in both there is the same grace by the Holy Spirit. Whence says the apostle: "We having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." [2721]

Footnotes

[2720] John i. 29. [2721] 2 Cor. iv. 13.


Chapter 12.--The Old Testament is Properly One Thing--The Old Instrument Another.

Therefore, by a custom of speech already prevailing, in one way the law and all the prophets who prophesied until John are called the "Old Testament;" although this is more definitely called the "Old Instrument" rather than the "Old Testament;" but this name is used in another way by the apostolical authority, whether expressly or impliedly. For the apostle is express when he says, "Until this day, as long as Moses is read, remaineth the same veil in the reading of the old testament; because it is not revealed, because it is made of no effect in Christ." [2722] For thus certainly the old testament referred to the ministry of Moses. Moreover, he says, "That we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter," [2723] signifying that same testament under the name of the letter. In another place also, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive." [2724] And here, by the mention of the new, he certainly meant the former to be understood as the old. But much more evidently, although he did not say either old or new, he distinguished the two testaments and the two sons of Abraham, the one of the bondwoman, the other of the free, as I have above mentioned. For what can be more express than his saying, "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, have ye not heard the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are in allegory; for these are the two testaments; the one in the Mount Sinai, gendering to bondage, which is Agar. For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia, which is associated with Jerusalem which now is, for it is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother?" [2725] What is more clear, what more certain, what more remote from all obscurity and ambiguity to the children of the promise? And a little after, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." [2726] Also a little after, "But we, brethren, are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free," [2727] with the liberty with which Christ has made us free. Let us, therefore, choose whether to call the righteous men of old the children of the bondwoman or of the free. Be it far from us to say, of the bondwoman; therefore if of the free, they pertain to the new testament in the Holy Spirit, whom, as making alive, the apostle opposes to the killing letter. For on what ground do they not belong to the grace of the new testament, from whose words and looks we convict and rebut such most frantic and ungrateful enemies of the same grace as these?

Footnotes

[2722] 2 Cor. iii. 14. [2723] Rom. vii. 6. [2724] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [2725] Gal. iv. 21 ff. [2726] Gal. iv. 28. [2727] Gal. iv. 31.


Chapter 13.--Why One of the Covenants is Called Old, the Other New.

But some one will say, "In what way is that called the old which was given by Moses four hundred and thirty years after; and that called the new which was given so many years before to Abraham?" Let him who on this subject is disturbed, not litigiously but earnestly, first understand that when from its earlier time one is called "old," and from its posterior time the other "new," it is the revelation of them that is considered in their names, not their institution. Because the old testament was revealed through Moses, by whom the holy and just and good law was given, whereby should be brought about not the doing away but the knowledge of sin,--by which the proud might be convicted who were desirous of establishing their own righteousness, as if they had no need of divine help, and being made guilty of the letter, might flee to the Spirit of grace, not to be justified by their own righteousness, but by that of God--that is, by the righteousness which was given to them of God. For as the same apostle says, "By the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and by the prophets." [2728] Because the law, by the very fact that in it no man is justified, affords a witness to the righteousness of God. For that in the law no man is justified before God is manifest, because "the just by faith lives." [2729] Thus, therefore, although the law does not justify the wicked when he is convicted of transgression, it sends to the God who justifieth, and thus affords a testimony to the righteousness of God. Moreover, the prophets offer testimony to God's righteousness by fore-announcing Christ, "who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [2730] But that law was kept hidden from the beginning, when nature itself convicted wicked men, who did to others what they would not have done to themselves. But the revelation of the new testament in Christ was made when He was manifested in the flesh, wherein appeared the righteousness of God--that is, the righteousness which is to men from God. For hence he says, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested." [2731] This is the reason why the former is called the old testament, because it was revealed in the earlier time; and the latter the new, because it was revealed in the later time. In a word, it is because the old testament pertains to the old man, from which it is necessary that a man should make a beginning; but the new to the new man, by which a man ought to pass from his old state. Thus, in the former are earthly promises, in the latter heavenly promises; because this pertained to God's mercy, that no one should think that even earthly felicity of any kind whatever could be conferred on anybody, save from the Lord, who is the Creator of all things. But if God is worshipped for the sake of that earthly happiness, the worship is that of a slave, belonging to the children of the bondmaid; but if for the sake of God Himself, so that in the life eternal God may be all things in all, it is a free service belonging to the children of the freewoman, who is our mother eternal in the heavens--who first seemed, as it were, barren, when she had not any children manifest; but now we see what was prophesied concerning her: "Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for there are many children of the desolate more than of her who has an husband," [2732] --that is, more than of that Jerusalem, who in a certain manner is married in the bond of the law, and is in bondage with her children. In the time, then, of the old testament, we say that the Holy Spirit, in those who even then were the children of promise according to Isaac, was not only an assistant, which these men think is sufficient for their opinion, but also a bestower of virtue; and this they deny, attributing it rather to their free will, in contradiction to those fathers who knew how to cry unto God with truthful piety, "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength." [2733]

Footnotes

[2728] Rom. iii. 20, 21. [2729] Gal. iii. 11. [2730] 1 Cor. i. 30, 31. [2731] Rom. iii. 21. [2732] Isa. liv. 1. [2733] Ps. xviii. 1.


Chapter 14 [V.]--Calumny Concerning the Righteousness of the Prophets and Apostles.

They say, moreover, "that all the apostles or prophets are not defined as entirely holy by us, but that we say that they were less wicked in comparison with those that were worse; and that this is the righteousness to which God affords His testimony, so that, as the prophet says that Sodom was justified in comparison with the Jews, so also we say that the saints exercised some goodness in comparison with criminal men." Be it far from us to say such things; but either they are not able to understand, or they are unwilling to observe, or, for the sake of misrepresentation, they pretend that they do not know what we say. Let them hear, therefore, either themselves, or rather those whom, as inexperienced and unlearned persons, they are striving to deceive. Our faith--that is, the catholic faith--distinguishes the righteous from the unrighteous not by the law of works, but by that of faith, because the just by faith lives. By which distinction it results that the man who leads his life without murder, without theft, without false-witness, without coveting other men's goods, giving due honour to his parents, chaste even to continence from all carnal intercourse whatever, even conjugal, most liberal in alms-giving, most patient of injuries; who not only does not deprive another of his goods, but does not even ask again for what has been taken away from himself; or who has even sold all his own property and appropriated it to the poor, and possesses nothing which belongs to him as his own;--with such a character as this, laudable as it seems to be, if he has not a true and catholic faith in God, must yet depart from this life to condemnation. But another, who has good works from a right faith which worketh by love, maintains his continency in the honesty of wedlock, although he does not, like the other, well refrain altogether, but pays and repays the debt of carnal connection, and has intercourse not only for the sake of offspring, but also for the sake of pleasure, although only with his wife, which the apostle allows to those that are married as pardonable;--does not receive injuries with so much patience, but is raised into anger with the desire of vengeance, although, in order that he may say, "As we also forgive our debtors," forgives when he is asked;--possesses personal property, giving thence indeed some alms, but not as the former so liberally;--does not take away what belongs to another, but, although by ecclesiastical, not by civil judgment, yet contends for his own: certainly this man, who seems so inferior in morals to the former, on account of the right faith which he has in God, by which he lives, and according to which in all his wrong-doings he accuses himself, and in all his good works praises God, giving to himself the shame, to God the glory, and receiving from Him both forgiveness of sins and love of right deeds,--shall be delivered for this life, and depart to be received into the company of those who shall reign with Christ. Wherefore, if not on account of faith? Which, although without works it saves no man (for it is not a reprobate faith, since it worketh by love), yet by it even sins are loosed, because the just by faith liveth; but without it, even those things which seem good works are turned into sins: "For everything which is not of faith is sin." [2734] And it is brought about, on account of this great difference, that although with no possibility of doubt a persevering integrity of virginity is preferable to conjugal chastity, yet a woman even twice married, if she be a catholic, is preferred to a professed virgin that is a heretic; nor is she in such wise preferred because this one is better in God's kingdom, but because the other is not there at all. Now the former, indeed, whom we have described as being of better morals, if a true faith be his, surpasses the second one, although both will be in heaven; yet if the faith be wanting to him, he is so surpassed by him that he himself is not there at all.

Footnotes

[2734] Rom. xiv. 23.


Chapter 15.--The Perfection of Apostles and Prophets.

Since, then, all righteous men, both the more ancient and the apostles, lived from a right faith which is in Christ Jesus our Lord; and had with their faith morals so holy, that although they might not be of such perfect virtue in this life as that which should be after this life, yet whatever of sin might creep in from human infirmity might be constantly done away by the piety of their faith itself: it results from this that, in comparison with the wicked whom God will condemn, it must be said that these were "righteous," since by their pious faith they were so far removed into the opposite of those wicked men that the apostle cries out, "What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" [2735] But it is plain that the Pelagians, these modern heretics, seem to themselves to be religious lovers and praisers of the saints, since they do not dare to say that they were of an imperfect virtue; although that elected vessel confesses this, who, considering in what state he still was, and that the body which is corrupted drags down the soul, says, "Not that I have already attained or am yet perfect; brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended." [2736] And yet a little after, he who had denied himself to be perfect says, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded," [2737] in order that he might show that, according to the measure of this life, there is a certain perfection, and that to that perfection this also is to be attributed, even although any one may know that he is not yet perfect. For what is more perfect, or what was more excellent, than the holy priests among the ancient people? And yet God prescribed to them to offer sacrifice first of all for their own sins. And what is more holy among the new people than the apostles? And yet the Lord prescribed to them to say in their prayer, "Forgive us our debts." For all the pious, therefore, who lie under this burden of a corruptible flesh, and groan in the infirmity of this life of theirs, there is one hope: "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins." [2738]

Footnotes

[2735] 2 Cor. vi. 14. [2736] Phil. iii. 12, 13. [2737] Phil. iii. 15. [2738] 1 John ii. 1.


Chapter 16 [VI.]--Misrepresentation Concerning Sin in Christ.

They have not a righteous advocate, who are (even if that were the only difference) distinguished absolutely and widely from the righteous. Be it far from us to say, as they themselves slanderously affirm, that this just Advocate "spoke falsely by the necessity of the flesh;" but we say that He, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in respect of sin, condemned sin. And they, perchance not understanding this, and being blinded by the desire of misrepresentation, and ignorant of the number of ways in which the name of sin is accustomed to be used in the Holy Scriptures, declare that we affirm sin of Christ. Therefore we assert that Christ both had no sin,--neither in soul nor in the body; and that, by taking upon Him flesh in the likeness of sinful flesh, in respect of sin He condemned sin. And this assertion, somewhat obscurely made by the apostle, is explained in two ways,--either that the likenesses of things are accustomed to be called by the names of those things to which they are like, so that the apostle may be understood to have intended to call this likeness of sinful flesh by the name of "sin;" or else that the sacrifices for sins were under the law called "sins," all which things were figures of the flesh of Christ, which is the true and only sacrifice for sins,--not only for those which are all washed away in baptism, but also for those which afterwards creep in from the weakness of this life, on account of which the universal Church daily cries in prayer to God, "Forgive us our debts," and they are forgiven us by means of that singular sacrifice for sins which the apostle, speaking according to the law, did not hesitate to call "sin." Whence, moreover, is that much plainer passage of his, which is not uncertain by any twofold ambiguity, "We beseech you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. He made Him to be sin for us, who had not known sin; that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." [2739] For the passage which I have above mentioned, "In respect of sin, He condemned sin," because it was not said, "In respect of his sin," may be understood by any one, as if He said that He condemned sin in respect of the sin of the Jews; because in respect of their sin who crucified Him, it happened that He shed His blood for the remission of sins. But this passage, where God is said to have made Christ Himself "sin," who had not known sin, does not seem to me to be more fittingly understood than that Christ was made a sacrifice for sins, and on this account was called "sin."

Footnotes

[2739] 2 Cor. v. 20, 21.


Chapter 17 [VII.]--Their Calumny About the Fulfilment of Precepts in the Life to Come.

But who can bear their objecting to us, "that we say that after the resurrection such is to be our progress, that there men can begin to fulfil the commands of God, which they would not here;" since we say that there there will be no sin at all, no struggle with any desire of sin; as if they themselves would dare to deny this? That wisdom also and the knowledge of God, is then perfected in us, and that in the Lord there is such rejoicing that it is a full and a true security, who will deny, unless he is so averse from the truth that on this very account he cannot attain unto it? But these things will not be in precepts, but in reward of those precepts which should here be observed; the neglect of which precepts, indeed, does not lead thither to the reward. But here the grace of God gives the desire of keeping His commandments; and if anything in these commandments is less perfectly observed, He forgives it on account of what we say in prayer, as well "Thy will be done," as "Forgive us our debts." Here, then, it is prescribed that we sin not; there, the reward is that we cannot sin. Here, the precept is that we obey not the desires of sin; there, the reward that we have no desires of sin. Here, the precept is, "Understand, ye senseless among the people; and ye fools, be at some time wise;" [2740] there, the reward is full wisdom and perfect knowledge. "For we see now through a glass in an enigma," says the apostle, "but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known." [2741] Here, the precept is, "Exult unto the Lord, our helper," [2742] and, "Rejoice, ye righteous, in the Lord;" [2743] there, the reward is to rejoice with a perfect and unspeakable joy. Lastly, in the precept it is written, "Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness;" but in the reward, "Because they shall be filled." [2744] Whence, I ask, shall they be filled, except with what they hunger and thirst after? Who, then, is so abhorrent, not only from the divine perception, but also from the human perception, as to say that in man there can be such righteousness while he is hungering and thirsting for it, as there will be when he shall be filled with it? But when we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, if the faith of Christ is watchful in us, what is it to be believed that we are hungering and thirsting for, save Christ? "For He is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [2745] And because we only believe on Him not seeing Him, therefore we thirst and hunger after righteousness. For as long as we are in the body, we wander from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by appearance. But when we shall see Him, and attain certainly to the appearance, we shall rejoice with joy unspeakable; and then we shall be filled with righteousness, since now we say to Him with pious longing, "I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall be manifested." [2746]

Footnotes

[2740] Ps. cxiv. 8. [2741] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [2742] Ps. lxxxi. 1. [2743] Ps. xxxiii. 1. [2744] Matt. v. 6. [2745] 1 Cor. i. 30, 31. [2746] Ps. xvii. 15.


Chapter 18.--Perfection of Righteousness and Full Security Was Not Even in Paul in This Life.

But how impudent I do not say, but how insane, is the pride which, not yet being equal to the angels of God, thinks itself already able to have a righteousness equal to the angels of God; and does not consider so great and holy a man, who assuredly hungered and thirsted after that very perfection of righteousness, when he was unwilling to be lifted up by the greatness of his revelations; and yet that he might not be lifted up, he was not left to his own choice and will, but received "the thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet him; on which account he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from him, and the Lord said unto him, My grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in weakness." [2747] What strength, save that to which it belongs not to be lifted up? And who doubts that this belongs to righteousness? The angels of God, then, are endowed with this perfection of righteousness, since they always behold the face of the Father, and thus of the entire Trinity, because they see through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. But nothing is more sublime than that revelation, nor yet does any of the angels in that contemplation of rejoicing ones find a messenger of Satan needful that he may be buffeted by him, lest so great a magnitude of revelation should lift him up. The apostle Paul certainly had not yet that perfection of virtue, nor yet was he equal to the angels of God; but there was in him the weakness of lifting himself up, which also had to be checked by the angel of Satan, lest he should be lifted up by the magnitude of his revelations. Although, then, the first lifting up cast down Satan, [2748] yet that greatest Physician, who well knew how to make use of even evil things, applied from the angel of Satan, against the mischief of elation, a wholesome, although a painful, medicament, just as an antidote used to be made even of serpents against the poisons of serpents. What, then, is the meaning of "My grace is sufficient for thee," except that you may not by giving way succumb to the buffet of the messenger of Satan? And what is "Strength is made perfect in weakness," except that in that place of weakness hitherto, there may be the perfection of virtue, so that in the very presence of infirmity, lifting-up may be repressed? Which infirmity assuredly shall be healed by future immortality. For how is that soundness to be called perfect where medicine is still needful, even from the buffet of an angel of Satan?

Footnotes

[2747] 2 Cor. xii. 7. [2748] [The reference is to the sin of pride, by which Satan himself fell from the estate of holiness in which he was created.--W.]


Chapter 19.--In What Sense the Righteousness of Man in This Life is Said to Be Perfect.

From this it results that the virtue which is now in the righteous man is named perfect up to this point, that to its perfection belong both the true knowledge and humble confession of even imperfection itself. For, in respect to this infirmity, that little righteousness of man's is perfect according to its measure, when it understands even what it lacks. And therefore the apostle calls himself both perfect and imperfect, [2749] --imperfect, to wit, in the thought of how much is wanting to him for the righteousness for the fulness of which he is still hungering and thirsting; but perfect in that he does not blush to confess his own imperfection, and goes forward in good that he may attain. As we can say that the wayfarer is perfect whose approach is well forwarded, although his intention is not carried out unless his arrival be actually effected. Therefore, when he had said, "According to the righteousness which is in the law, I am one who has been without blame," he immediately added, "What things were gain to me, those I counted but loss for Christ's sake. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things to be loss for the sake of the eminent knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord: for whose sake I have believed all things not only to be losses, but I have thought them to be even as dung, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God in faith." [2750] See! the apostle does not, of course, say falsely, that "according to the righteousness which is of the law he was without blame;" and yet those things which were gain to him, he casts away for Christ's sake, and thinks them losses, injuries, dung. And not only these things, but all other things which he mentioned previously; not on account of any kind of knowledge, but, as he himself says, "the eminent knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord," which, beyond a doubt, he had as yet in faith, but not yet in sight. For then the knowledge of Christ will be eminent, when He shall be so revealed that what is believed is seen. Whence, in another place, he thus says, "For ye have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." [2751] Hence, also, the Lord Himself says, "He who loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." [2752] Hence John the Evangelist says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be: but we know, that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." [2753] Then shall the knowledge of Christ be eminent. For now it is, as it were, hidden away in faith; but it does not yet appear eminent in sight.

Footnotes

[2749] Phil. iii. 12, 15. [2750] Phil. iii. 6, etc. [2751] Col. iii. 3, etc. [2752] John xiv. 21. [2753] 1 John iii. 2.


Chapter 20.--Why the Righteousness Which is of the Law is Valued Slightly by Paul.

Therefore the blessed Paul casts away those past attainments of his righteousness, as "losses" and "dung," that "he may win Christ and be found in Him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law." Wherefore his own, if it is of the law? For that law is the law of God. Who has denied this, save Marcion and Manicheus, and such like pests? Since, then, that is the law of God, he says it is "his own" righteousness "which is of the law;" and this righteousness of his own he would not have, but cast it forth as "dung." Why so, except because it is this which I have above demonstrated, [2754] that those are under the law who, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own, are not subject to the righteousness of God? [2755] For they think that, by the strength of their own will, they will fulfil the commands of the law; and wrapped up in their pride, they are not converted to assisting grace. Thus the letter killeth [2756] them either openly, as being guilty to themselves, by not doing what the law commands; or by thinking that they do it, although they do it not with spiritual love, which is of God. Thus they remain either plainly wicked or deceitfully righteous,--manifestly cut off in open unrighteousness, or foolishly elated in fallacious righteousness. And by this means--marvellous indeed, but yet true--the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by the righteousness which is in the law, or by the law, but by that which is in the Spirit of grace. Because the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those, as it is written, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. But, according to the righteousness which is in the law, the apostle says that he was blameless in the flesh, not in the Spirit; and he says that the righteousness which is of the law was his, not God's. It must be understood, therefore, that the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled according to the righteousness which is in the law or of the law, that is, according to the righteousness of man, but according to the righteousness which is in the Spirit of grace, therefore according to the righteousness of God, that is, which man has from God. Which may be thus more clearly and briefly stated: That the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled when the law commands, and man as it were of his own strength obeys; but when the Spirit aids, and man's free will, but freed by the grace of God, performs. Therefore the righteousness of the law is to command what is pleasing to God, to forbid what is displeasing; but the righteousness in the law is to obey the letter, and beyond it to seek for no assistance of God for holy living. For when he had said, "Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Christ," he added, "Which is from God." That, therefore, is itself the righteousness of God, being ignorant of which the proud go about to establish their own; for it is not called the righteousness of God because by it God is righteous, but because man has it from God.

Footnotes

[2754] See above, ch. 6. [2755] Rom. x. 3. [2756] 2 Cor. iii. 6.


Chapter 21.--That Righteousness is Never Perfected in This Life.

Now, according to this righteousness of God, that is, which we have from God, faith now worketh by love. But it worketh that, in what way man can attain to Him on whom now, not seeing, he believes; and when he shall see Him, then that which was in faith through a glass enigmatically, shall at length be in sight face to face; and then shall be perfected even love itself. Because it is said with excessive folly, that God is loved as much before He is seen, as He will be loved when He is seen. Further, if in this life, as no religious person doubts, the more we love God, so much the more righteous we certainly are, who can doubt that pious and true righteousness will then be perfected when the love of God shall be perfect? Then the law, therefore, shall be fulfilled; so that nothing at all is wanting to it, of which law, according to the apostle, the fulfilling is Love. And thus, when he had said, "Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, which is the righteousness from God in faith," he then added, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings." [2757] All these things were not yet full and perfect in the apostle; but, as if he were placed on the way, he was running towards their fulness and perfection. For how had he already perfectly known Christ, who says in another place, "Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known"? [2758] And how had he already perfectly known the power of His resurrection, to whom it remained to know it yet more fully by experience at the time of the resurrection of the flesh? And how had he perfectly known already the fellowship of His suffering, if he had not yet experienced for him the suffering of death? Finally, he adds and says, "If in any manner I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead." [2759] And then he says, "Not that I have already received or am already perfected." What, then, does he confess that he has not yet received, and in what is he not yet perfected, except that righteousness which is of God, which he desired, not willing to have his own righteousness, which is of the law? For hence he was speaking, and such was the reason for his saying these things in resistance to the enemies of the grace of God, for the bestowal of which Christ was crucified; and of the race of whom are also these.

Footnotes

[2757] Phil. iii. 9, 10. [2758] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [2759] Phil. iii. 11, 12.


Chapter 22.--Nature of Human Righteousness and Perfection.

For from the place in which he undertook to say these things, he thus began, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, who serve God in the Spirit,"--or, as some codices have it, "who serve God the Spirit," or "the Spirit of God,"--"and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." [2760] Here it is manifest that he is speaking against the Jews, who, observing the law carnally, and going about to establish their own righteousness, were slain by the letter, and not made alive by the Spirit, and gloried in themselves while the apostles and all the children of the promise were glorying in Christ. Then he added, "Although I may have confidence in the flesh. If any one else thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I more." [2761] And enumerating all things which have glory according to the flesh, he ended at that point where he says, "According to the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." And when he had said that he regarded all these things as altogether loss and disadvantage and dung that he might gain Christ, he added the passage which I am treating, "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, but that which is by the faith of Christ, which is from God." He confessed that he had not yet received the perfection of this righteousness, which will not be except in that excellent knowledge of Christ, on account of which he said that all things were loss to him; and he confessed, therefore, that he was not yet perfect. "But I follow on," said he, "if I may apprehend that in which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus." [2762] "I may apprehend that in which I also am apprehended," is much the same as, "I may know, even as I also am known." "Brethren," says he, "I count not myself to have apprehended: but one thing, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those which are before, I follow on according to the purpose for the reward of the supreme calling of God in Christ Jesus." [2763] The order of the words is, "But one thing I follow." Of which one thing the Lord also is well understood to have admonished Martha, where he says, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful." [2764] The apostle, wishing to apprehend this as if set in the way, said that he followed on to the reward of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For who can delay when he would apprehend that which he declares that he is following, that he shall then have a righteousness equal to the righteousness of the holy angels, none of whom, of course, does any messenger of Satan buffet lest he should be lifted up with the greatness of his revelations? Then, admonishing those who might think themselves already perfect with the fulness of that righteousness, he says, "Let as many of us, therefore, as are perfect, be thus minded." [2765] As if he should say, If, according to the capacity of mortal man for the little measure of this life, we are perfect, let us understand that it also belongs to that perfection that we perceive that we are not yet perfected in that angelical righteousness which we shall have in the manifestation of Christ. "And if in anything," he said, "ye be otherwise minded, God shall also reveal even this unto you." [2766] How, save to those that are walking and advancing in the way of the faith, until that wandering be finished and they come to the actual vision? Whence following on, he added, "Nevertheless, whereunto we have already attained, let us walk therein." [2767] Then he concludes that they should be bewared of, concerning whom this passage treated at its beginning. "Brethren, be imitators of me, and mark them which so walk as ye have our example. For many walk, of whom I have spoken often, and now tell you even weeping, whose end is destruction," [2768] and the rest. These are the very ones of whom, in the beginning, he had said, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers," and what follows. Therefore all are enemies of the cross of Christ who, going about to establish their own righteousness, which is of the law,--that is, where only the letter commands, and the Spirit does not fulfil,--are not subject to the law of God. For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made an empty thing. "If righteousness is by the law, then Christ has died in vain: then is the offence of the cross done away." And thus those are enemies of the cross of Christ who say that righteousness is by the law, to which it belongs to command, not to assist. But the grace of God through Jesus Christ the Lord in the Holy Spirit helpeth our infirmity.

Footnotes

[2760] Phil. iii. 2, 3. [2761] Phil. iii. 4. [2762] Phil. iii. 12. [2763] Phil. iii. 13, 14. [2764] Luke x. 41. [2765] Phil. iii. 15. [2766] Phil. iii. 15. [2767] Phil. iii. 15. [2768] Phil. iii. 16.


Chapter 23.--There is No True Righteousness Without the Faith of the Grace of Christ.

Wherefore he who lives according to the righteousness which is in the law, without the faith of the grace of Christ, as the apostle declares that he lived blameless, must be accounted to have no true righteousness; not because the law is not true and holy, but because to wish to obey the letter which commands, without the Spirit of God which quickens, as if of the strength of free will, is not true righteousness. But the righteousness according to which the righteous man lives by faith, since man has it from God by the Spirit of grace, is true righteousness. And although this is not undeservedly said to be perfect in some righteous men, according to the capacity of this life, yet it is but little to that great righteousness which the equality of the angels receives. And he who had not yet possessed this, on the one hand, in respect of that which was already in him, said that he was perfect; and in respect of that which was still wanting to him, said that he was imperfect. But manifestly that lower degree of righteousness makes merit, that higher kind becomes reward. Whence he who does not strive after the former does not attain unto the latter. Wherefore, after the resurrection of man, to deny that there will be a fulness of righteousness, and to think that the righteousness in the body of that life will be such as it can be in the body of this death, is singular folly. But it is most true that men do not there begin to fulfil those commands of God which here they have been unwilling to obey. For there will be the fulness of the most perfect righteousness, yet not of men striving after what is commanded, and making gradual endeavours after that fulness; but in the twinkling of an eye, even as shall be that resurrection of the dead itself, because that greatness of perfect righteousness will be given as a reward to those who here have obeyed the commandments, and will not itself be commanded to them as a thing to be accomplished. But I should in such wise say they have done the commandments, that we might remember that to these very commandments belongs the prayer in which the holy children of promise daily say with truth, "Thy will be done," [2769] and "Forgive us our debts." [2770]

Footnotes

[2769] Matt. vi. 10. [2770] Matt. vi. 12.


Chapter 24 [VIII.]--There are Three Principal Heads in the Pelagian Heresy.

When, then, the Pelagians are pressed with these and such like testimonies and words of truth, not to deny original sin; not to say that the grace of God whereby we are justified is not given freely, but according to our merits; nor to say that in mortal man, however holy and well doing, there is so great righteousness that even after the washing of regeneration, until he finishes this life of his, forgiveness of sins is not necessary to him,--therefore when they are pressed not to make these three assertions, and by their means alienate men who believe them from the grace of the Saviour, and persuade the lifted-up unto pride to go headlong unto the judgment of the devil: they introduce the clouds of other questions in which their impiety--in the sight of men more simpleminded, whether that they are more slow or less instructed in the sacred writings--may be concealed. These are the misty questions of the praise of the creature, of the praise of marriage, of the praise of the law, of the praise of free will, of the praise of the saints; as if any one of our people were in the habit of disparaging those things, and not rather of announcing all things with due praises to the honour of the Creator and Saviour. But even the creature does not desire in such wise to be praised as to be unwilling to be healed. And the more marriage is to be praised, the less is to be attributed to it the shameful concupiscence of the flesh, which is not of the Father, but of the world; and which assuredly marriage found and did not make in men; because, moreover, it is actually in very many without marriage, and if nobody had sinned marriage itself might be without it. And the law, holy and just and good, is neither grace itself, nor is anything rightly done by it without grace; because the law is not given that it may give life, but it was added because of transgression, that it might conclude all persons convicted under sin, and that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [2771] And the free will taken captive does not avail, except for sin; but for righteousness, unless divinely set free and aided, it does not avail. And thus, also, all the saints, whether from that ancient Abel to John the Baptist, or from the apostles themselves up to this time, and henceforth even to the end of the world, are to be praised in the Lord, not in themselves. Because the voice, even of those earlier ones, is, "In the Lord shall my soul be praised." [2772] And the voice of the later ones is, "By the grace of God I am what I am." [2773] And to all belongs, "That he that glorieth may glory in the Lord." And it is the common confession of all, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [2774]

Footnotes

[2771] Gal. iii. 22. [2772] Ps. xxxiv. 2. [2773] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [2774] 1 John i. 8.


Chapter 25 [IX.]--He Shows that the Opinion of the Catholics is the Mean Between that of the Manicheans and Pelagians, and Refutes Both.

But since, in these five particulars which I have set forth, in which they seek lurking-places, and from which they weave misrepresentations, they are forsaken and convicted by the divine writings, they have thought to deter those whom they could by the hateful name of Manicheans, lest in opposition to their most perverse teachings their ears should be conformed to the truth; because doubtless the Manicheans blasphemously condemn the three former of those five dogmas, saying that neither the human creature, nor marriage, nor the law was ordained by the supreme and true God. But they do not receive what the truth says, that sin took its origin from free will, and that all evil, whether of angel or man, comes from it; because they prefer to believe, in their turning aside from God, that the nature of evil was always evil, and co-eternal with God. They, moreover, attack the holy patriarchs and prophets with as many execrations as they can. This is the way in which the modern heretics think, that by objecting the name of Manicheans, they evade the force of truth. But they do not evade it; because it follows them up, and overturns at once Manicheans and Pelagians. For in that when a man is born there is something good, so far as he is a man, he condemns the Manichean, and praises the Creator; but in so far as he derives original sin, he condemns the Pelagian, and holds a Saviour necessary. For even because that nature is said to be healable, it repels both teachings; because it would not, on the one hand, have need of medicine if it were sound, which is opposed to the Pelagian, nor could it be healed at all if the evil in it were eternal and immutable, which is opposed to the Manichean. Moreover, in that to marriage, which we praise as ordained of God, we do not say that the concupiscence of the flesh is to be attributed, this is both contrary to the Pelagians, who make this concupiscence itself a matter of praise, and contrary to the Manicheans, who attribute it to a foreign and evil nature, when it really is an evil accidental to our nature, not to be separated by the disjunction from God, but to be healed by the mercy of God. Moreover, in that we say that the law, holy and just and good, was given not for the justification of the wicked, but for the conviction of the proud, for the sake of transgressions,--this is, on the one hand, opposed to the Manicheans, in that according to the apostle the law is praised; and on the other opposed to the Pelagians, in that, in accordance with the apostle, no one is justified by the law; and therefore, for the sake of making alive those whom the letter has killed, that is, whom the law, enjoining good, makes guilty by transgressions, the Spirit of grace freely brings aid. Also in that we say that the will is free in evil, but for doing good it must be made free by God's grace, this is opposed to the Pelagians; but in that we say it originated from that which previously was not evil, this is opposed to the Manicheans. Again, that we honour the holy patriarchs and prophets with praises due to them in God, is in opposition to the Manicheans; but that we say that even to them, however righteous and pleasing to God they might have been, the propitiation of the Lord was necessary, this is in opposition to the Pelagians. The catholic faith, therefore, finds them both, as it does also other heretics, in opposition to it, and convicts both by the authority of the divine testimonies and by the light of truth.


Chapter 26 [X.]--The Pelagians Still Strive After a Hiding-Place, by Introducing the Needless Question of the Origin of the Soul.

The Pelagians, indeed, add to the clouds which envelop their lurking-places the unnecessary question concerning the origin of the soul, for the purpose of erecting a hiding-place by disturbing manifest things by the obscurity of other matters. For they say "that we guard the continuous propagation of souls with the continuous propagation of sin." And where and when they have read this, either in the addresses or in the writings of those who maintain the catholic faith against this, I do not know; because, although I find something written by catholics on the subject, yet the defence of the truth had not yet been undertaken against those men, neither was there any anxiety to answer them. But this I say, that according to the Holy Scriptures original sin is so manifest, and that this is put away in infants by the laver of regeneration is confirmed by such antiquity and authority of the catholic faith, notorious by such a clear concurrent testimony of the Church, that what is argued by the inquiry or affirmation of anybody concerning the origin of the soul, if it is contrary to this, cannot be true. Wherefore, whoever builds up, either concerning the soul or any other obscure matter, any edifice whence he may destroy this, which is true, best founded, and best known, whether he is a son or an enemy of the Church, must either be corrected or avoided. But let this be the end of this Book, that the things which follow may have another beginning. .


Book IV.


After having set aside in the former books the calumnies hurled against the Catholics, Augustin here proceeds to open up the snares which lie hidden in the remaining part of the second epistle of the Pelagians, in the five heads of their doctrine--in the praise, to wit, of the creature, the praise of marriage, the praise of the law, the praise of free will, and the praise of the saints; in connection with which heads the Pelagians malignantly boast that they are at issue not more with the Manicheans than with the Catholics. Hence these five points may bring us back to this, that they put forward their threefold error--namely, the two first, the denial of original sin; the two following, the assertion that grace is given according to merits; the fifth, their statement that the saints had not sinned in this life. Augustin shows that both heresies, that of the Manicheans and that of the Pelagians, are opposed and equally odious to the Catholic faith, whereby we profess, first, that the nature created by a good God was good, but that, nevertheless, it is in need of a Saviour because of original sin, which passed into all men from the transgression of the first man: then secondly, that marriage is good, truly instituted by God, but that that concupiscence is evil which was associated with marriage by sin: also thirdly that the law of God is good, but in such wise as only to manifest sin, not to take it away: that fourthly free will is assuredly inherent in the nature of man, but that now, however, it is so enslaved that it does not avail to the doing of righteousness, unless when it shall have been made free by grace: but that fifthly the saints, whether of the Old or New Testament, were indeed endued with a righteousness, which was true but not perfect, nor so full that they should be free from all sin. In conclusion, he brings forward the testimonies of Cyprian and Ambrose on behalf of the Catholic faith, some concerning original sin, others about the assistance of grace, and the last concerning the imperfection of present righteousness.


Chapter 1 [I.]--The Subterfuges of the Pelagians are Five.

After the matters which I have considered, and to which I have answered, they repeat the same things as those contained in the letter which I have refuted, but in a different manner. For before, they put them forward as objecting to us things which we think as it were falsely; but afterwards, as explaining what they themselves think, they have presented the same things from the opposite side, adding two certain points which they had not mentioned--that is, "that they say that baptism is necessary for all ages," and "that by Adam death passed upon us, not sins," which things must also themselves be considered in their own place. Hence, because in the former Book which I have just finished I said that they alleged hindrances of five matters in which lurk their dogmas hostile to God's grace and to the catholic faith,--the praise, to wit, of the creature, the praise of marriage, the praise of the law, the praise of free will, the praise of the saints,--I think it is more convenient to make a general discrimination of all that they maintain, the contrary of which they object to us, and to show which of those things pertain to any of those five, that so my answer may be by that very distinction clearer and briefer.


Chapter 2 [II.]--The Praise of the Creature.

They accomplish the praise of the creature, inasmuch as it pertains to the human race of which the question now is, in these statements: "That God is the Maker of all those that are born, and that the sons of men are God's work; and that all sin descends not from nature, but from the will." With this praise of the creature they connect, "that they say that baptism is necessary for every age, so that," namely, "the creature itself may be adopted among the children of God; not because it derives anything from its parents which must be purified in the laver of regeneration." To this praise they add also, "that they say that Christ the Lord was sprinkled with no stain of sin as far as pertains to His infancy;" because they assert that His flesh was most pure from all contagion of sin, not by His own excellence and singular grace, but by His fellowship with the nature which is shared by all infants. It also belongs to this that they introduce the question "of the origin of the soul," thus endeavouring to make all the souls of infants equal to the soul of Christ, maintaining that they likewise are sprinkled with no stain of sin. On this account, also, they say, "that nothing of evil passed from Adam upon the rest of humanity except death, which," they say, "is not always an evil, since to the martyrs, for instance, it is for the sake of rewards; and it is not the dissolution of the bodies, which in every kind of men shall be raised up, that can make death to be called either good or evil, but the diversity of merits which arises from human liberty." These things they write in this letter concerning the praise of the creature. They praise marriage truly according to the Scriptures, "because the Lord saith in the gospel, He who made men from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth." Although this is not written in that passage of the gospel, yet it is written in the law. They add, moreover, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." [2775] And these we acknowledge to be gospel words. In the praise of the law they say, "that the old law was, according to the apostle, holy and just and good; that on those who keep its commandments, and live righteously by faith, such as the prophets and patriarchs, and all the saints, life eternal could be conferred." In the praise of free will they say, "that free will has not perished, since the Lord says by the prophets, `If ye be willing and will hear me, ye shall eat the good things of the land: if ye are unwilling, and will not hear, the sword shall devour you.' [2776] And thus, also, it is that grace assists the good purpose of any person, but yet does not infuse a desire of virtue into the reluctant heart, because there is no acceptance of persons with God." In the praise of the saints they conceal themselves, saying "that baptism perfectly renews men, inasmuch as the apostle is a witness who testifies that, by the washing of water, the Church is made out of the heathen holy and spotless; [2777] that the Holy Spirit also assisted pious souls in ancient times, even as the prophet says to God, `Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right way;' [2778] that all the prophets, moreover, and apostles or saints, as well of the New as of the Old Testament, to whom God gives witness, were righteous, not in comparison with the wicked, but by the rule of virtue; and that in future time there is a reward as well of good works as of evil. But that no one can then perform the commandment which here he may have contemned, because the apostle said, `We must be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things belonging to the body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil.'" [2779] In all these points, whatever they say of the praise of the creature and of marriage, they endeavour to bring us back to this,--that there is no original sin; whatever of the praise of law and of free will, to this, that grace does not assist without merit, and that thus grace is no more grace; whatever of the praise of the saints, to this, that mortal life in the saints appears not to have sin, and that it is not necessary for them to pray God for the remitting of their debts.

Footnotes

[2775] Matt. xix. 4. [2776] Isa. i. 19. [2777] Eph. v. 26. [2778] Ps. cxliii. 10. [2779] 2 Cor. v. 10.


Chapter 3 [III.]--The Catholics Praise Nature, Marriage, Law, Free Will, and the Saints, in Such Wise as to Condemn as Well Pelagians as Manicheans.

Let every one who, with a catholic mind, shudders at these impious and damnable doctrines, in this tripartite division, shun the lurking-places and snares of this fivefold error, and be so careful between one and another as in such wise to decline from the Manicheans as not to incline to the Pelagians; and again, so to separate himself from the Pelagians as not to associate himself with the Manicheans; or, if he should already be taken hold of in one or the other bondage, that he should not so pluck himself out of the hands of either as to rush into those of the other. Because they seem to be contrary to one another; since the Manicheans manifest themselves by vituperating these five points, and the Pelagians conceal themselves by praising them. Wherefore he condemns and shuns both, whoever he may be, who according to the rule of the catholic faith so glorifies the Creator in men, that are born of the good creature of flesh and soul (for this the Manichean will not have), as that he yet confesses that on account of the corruption which has passed over into them by the sin of the first man, even infants need a Saviour (for this the Pelagian will not have). He who so distinguishes the evil of shameful concupiscence from the blessing of marriage, as neither, like the Manicheans, to reproach the source of our birth, nor, like the Pelagians, to praise the source of our disorder. He who so maintains the law to have been given holy and just and good through Moses by a holy and just and good God (which Manicheus, in opposition to the apostle, denies), as to say that it both shows forth sin and yet does not take it away, and commands righteousness which yet it does not give (which, again, in opposition to the apostle, Pelagius denies). He who so asserts free will as to say that the evil of both angel and man began, not from I know not what nature always evil, which is no nature, but from the will itself, which overturns Manichean heresy, and nevertheless that even thus the captive will cannot breathe into a wholesome liberty save by God's grace, which overturns the Pelagian heresy. He who so praises in God the holy men of God, not only after Christ manifested in the flesh and subsequently, but even those of the former times, whom the Manicheans dare to blaspheme, as yet to believe their own confessions concerning themselves, more than the lies of the Pelagians. For the word of the saints is, "If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [2780]

Footnotes

[2780] 1 John i. 8.


Chapter 4 [IV.]--Pelagians and Manicheans on the Praise of the Creature.

These things being so, what advantage is it to new heretics, enemies of the cross of Christ and opposers of divine grace, that they seem sound from the error of the Manicheans, if they are dying by another pestilence of their own? What advantage is it to them, that in the praise of the creature they say "that the good God is the maker of those that are born, by whom all things were made, and that the children of men are His work," whom the Manicheans say are the work of the prince of darkness; when between them both, or among them both, God's creation, which is in infants, is perishing? For both of them refuse to have it delivered by Christ's flesh and blood,--the one, because they destroy that very flesh and blood, as if He did not take upon Him these at all in man or of man; and the other, because they assert that there is no evil in infants from which they should be delivered by the sacrament of this flesh and blood. Between them lies the human creature in infants, with a good origination, with a corrupted propagation, confessing for its goods a most excellent Creator, seeking for its evils a most merciful Redeemer, having the Manicheans as disparagers of its benefits, having the Pelagians as deniers of its evils, and both as persecutors. And although in infancy there is no power to speak, yet with its silent look and its hidden weakness it addresses the impious vanity of both, saying to the one, "Believe that I am created by Him who creates good things;" and saying to the other, "Suffer me to be healed by Him who created me." The Manicheans say, "There is nothing of this infant save the good soul to be delivered; the rest," which belongs not to the good God, but to the prince of darkness, "is to be rejected." The Pelagians say, "Certainly there is nothing of this infant to be delivered, because we have shown the whole to be safe." Both lie; but now the accuser of the flesh alone is more bearable than the praiser, who is convicted of cruelty against the whole. But neither does the Manichean help the human soul by blaspheming God, the Author of the entire man; nor does the Pelagian permit the divine grace to come to the help of human infancy by denying original sin. Therefore it is by the catholic faith that God has mercy, seeing that by condemning both mischievous doctrines it comes to the help of the infant for salvation. It says to the Manicheans, "Hear the apostle crying, `Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost in you?' [2781] and believe that the good God is the Creator of bodies, because the temple of the Holy Ghost cannot be the work of the prince of darkness." It says to the Pelagians, "The infant that you look upon `was conceived in iniquity, and in sin its mother nourished it in the womb.' [2782] Why, as if in defending it as free from all mischief, do you not permit it to be delivered by mercy? No one is pure from uncleanness, not even the infant whose life is of one day upon the earth. [2783] Allow the wretched creatures to receive remission of sins, through Him who alone neither as small nor great could have any sin."

Footnotes

[2781] 1 Cor. vi. 19. [2782] Ps. li. 5. [2783] Job xiv. 4, 5. See LXX.


Chapter 5.--What is the Special Advantage in the Pelagian Opinions?

What advantage, then, is it to them that they say "that all sin descends not from nature, but from the will," and resist by the truth of this judgment the Manicheans, who say that evil nature is the cause of sin; when by being unwilling to admit original sin although itself also descends from the will of the first man, they make infants to depart in guilt from the body? What advantage is it to them "that they confess that baptism is necessary for all ages," while the Manicheans say that it is superfluous for every age, while they say that in infants it is false so far as it pertains to the forgiveness of sins? What advantage is it to them that they maintain "the flesh of Christ" (which the Manicheans contend was either no flesh at all, or a feigned flesh) to have been not only the true flesh, but also "that the soul itself was stained by no spot of sin," when other infants are by them so put on the same level with His infancy, with not unequal purity, as that both that flesh does not appear to keep its own holiness in comparison with these, and these obtain no salvation from that?


Chapter 6.--Not Death Alone, But Sin Also Has Passed into Us by Means of Adam.

In that particular, indeed, wherein they say "that death passed to us by Adam, not sins," they have not the Manicheans as their adversaries: since they, too, deny that original sin from the first man, at first of pure and upright body and spirit, and afterwards depraved by free will, subsequently passed and passes as sin into all with death; but they say that the flesh was evil from the beginning, and was created by an evil spirit and along with an evil spirit; but that a good soul--a portion, to wit, of God--for the deserts of its defilement by food and drink, in which it was before bound up, came into man, and thus by means of copulation was bound in the chain of the flesh. And thus the Manicheans agree with the Pelagians that it was not the guilt of the first man that passed into the human race--neither by the flesh, which they say was never good; nor by the soul, which they assert comes into the flesh of man with the merits of its own defilements with which it was polluted before the flesh. But how do the Pelagians say "that only death passed upon us by Adam's means"? For if we die because he died, but he died because be sinned, they say that the punishment passed without the guilt, and that innocent infants are punished with an unjust penalty by deriving death without the deserts of death. This, the catholic faith has known of the one and only mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who condescended to undergo death--that is, the penalty of sin--without sin, for us. As He alone became the Son of man, in order that we might become through Him sons of God, so He alone, on our behalf, undertook punishment without ill deservings, that we through Him might obtain grace without good deservings. Because as to us nothing good was due so to Him nothing bad was due. Therefore, commending His love to them to whom He was about to give undeserved life, He was willing to suffer for them an undeserved death. This special prerogative of the Mediator the Pelagians endeavour to make void, so that this should no longer be special in the Lord, if Adam in such wise suffered a death due to him on account of his guilt, as that infants, drawing from him no guilt, should suffer undeserved death. For although very much good is conferred on the good by means of death, whence some have fitly argued even "of the benefit of death;" yet from this what can be declared except the mercy of God, since the punishment of sin is converted into beneficent uses?


Chapter 7.--What is the Meaning of "In Whom All Have Sinned"?

But these speak thus who wish to wrest men from the apostle's words into their own thought. For where the apostle says, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so passed upon all men," [2784] they will have it there understood not that "sin" passed over, but "death." What, then, is the meaning of what follows, "Whereto all have sinned"? For either the apostle says that in that "one man" all have sinned of whom he had said, "By one man sin entered into the world," or else in that "sin," or certainly in "death." For it need not disturb us that he said not "in which" [using the feminine form of the pronoun], but "in whom" [using the masculine] all have sinned; since "death" in the Greek language is of the masculine gender. Let them, then, choose which they will,--for either in that "man" all have sinned, and it is so said because when he sinned all were in him; or in that "sin" all have sinned, because that was the doing of all in general which all those who were born would have to derive; or it remains for them to say that in that "death" all sinned. But in what way this can be understood, I do not clearly see. For all die in the sin; they do not sin in the death; for when sin precedes, death follows--not when death precedes, sin follows. Because sin is the sting of death--that is, the sting by whose stroke death occurs, not the sting with which death strikes. [2785] Just as poison, if it is drunk, is called the cup of death, because by that cup death is caused, not because the cup is caused by the death, or is given by death. But if "sin" cannot be understood by those words of the apostle as being that "wherein all have sinned," because in Greek, from which the Epistle is translated, "sin" is expressed in the feminine gender, it remains that all men are understood to have sinned in that first "man," because all men were in him when he sinned; and from him sin is derived by birth, and is not remitted save by being born again. For thus also the sainted Hilary understood what is written, "wherein all have sinned;" for he says, "wherein," that is, in Adam, "all have sinned." [2786] Then he adds, "It is manifest that all have sinned in Adam, as it were in the mass; for he himself was corrupted by sin, and all whom he begot were born under sin." When he wrote this, Hilary, without any ambiguity, indicated how we should understand the words, "wherein all have sinned."

Footnotes

[2784] Rom. v. 12. [2785] [This is a distinction as to the kind of genitive involved in the phrase "sting of death." Augustin says "of death" is genitive of the object, not of the author or subject.--W.] [2786] Commentaries by Hilary the Deacon, printed among the Works of Ambrose, vol. iv. (Patrol. Lat. xvii.)


Chapter 8.--Death Passed Upon All by Sin.

But on account of what does the same apostle say, that we are reconciled to God by Christ, except on account of what we had become enemies? And what is this but sin? Whence also the prophet says, "Your sins separate between you and God." [2787] On account of this separation, therefore, the Mediator was sent, that He might take away the sin of the world, by which we were separated as enemies, and that we, being reconciled, might be made from enemies children. About this, certainly, the apostle was speaking; hence it happened that he interposed what he says, "That sin entered by one man." For these are his former words. He says, "But God commendeth His love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being now justified in His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved in His life. And not only so, but glorying also in God through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom also we have now received reconciliation." Then he subjoins, "Therefore, as by one man sin entered into this world, and death by sin, and so passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned." [2788] Why do the Pelagians evade this matter? If reconciliation through Christ is necessary to all men, on all men has passed sin by which we have become enemies, in order that we should have need of reconciliation. This reconciliation is in the laver of regeneration and in the flesh and blood of Christ, without which not even infants can have life in themselves. For as there was one man for death on account of sin, so there is one man for life on account of righteousness; because "as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive;" [2789] and "as by the sin of one upon all men to condemnation, so also by the righteousness of one upon all men unto justification of life." [2790] Who is there that has turned a deaf ear to these apostolical words with such hardiness of wicked impiety, as, having heard them, to contend that death passed upon us through Adam without sin, unless, indeed, they are opposers of the grace of God and enemies of the cross of Christ?--whose end is destruction if they continue in this obstinacy. But let it suffice to have said thus much for the sake of that serpentine subtlety of theirs, by which they wish to corrupt simple minds, and to turn them away from the simplicity of the faith, as if by the praise of the creature.

Footnotes

[2787] Isa. lix. 2. [2788] Rom. v. 8 ff. [2789] 1 Cor. xv. 22. [2790] Rom. v. 18.


Chapter 9 [V.]--Of the Praise of Marriage.

But further, concerning the praise of marriage, [2791] what advantage is it to them that, in opposition to the Manicheans, who assign marriage not to the true and good God, but to the prince of darkness, these men resist the words of true piety, and say, "That the Lord speaks in the gospel, saying, Who from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Increase and multiply and replenish the earth. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"? [2792] What does this profit them, by means of the truth to seduce to a falsehood? For they say this in order that infants may be thought to be born free from all fault, and thus that there is no need of their being reconciled to God through Christ, since they have no original sin, on account of which reconciliation is necessary to all by means of one who came into the world without sin, just as the enmities of all were caused by means of one through whom sin entered into the world. And this is believed by catholics for the sake of the salvation of the nature of men, without detracting from the praise of marriage; because the praise of marriage is a righteous intercourse of the sexes, not a wicked defence of vices. And thus, when, by their praise of marriage, these persons wish to draw over men from the Manicheans to themselves, they desire merely to change their disease, not to heal it.

Footnotes

[2791] See On Original Sin, ch. 38. [2792] Matt. xix. 4, etc.


Chapter 10.--Of the Praise of the Law.

Once more, in the praise of the law, what advantage is it to them that, in opposition to the Manicheans, they say the truth when they wish to bring men from that view to this which they hold falsely against the catholics? For they say, "We confess that even the old law, according to the apostle, is holy and just and good, and that this could confer eternal life on those that kept its commandments, and lived righteously by faith, like the prophets and patriarchs, and all the saints." By which words, very craftily expressed, they praise the law in opposition to grace; for certainly that law, although just and holy and good, could not confer eternal life on all those men of God, but the faith which is in Christ. For this faith worketh by love, not according to the letter which killeth, but according to the Spirit which maketh alive, to which grace of God the law, as it were a schoolmaster, leads by deterring from transgression, that so that might be conferred upon man which it could not itself confer. For to those words of theirs in which they say "that the law was able to confer eternal life on the prophets and patriarchs, and all saints who kept its commandments," the apostle replies, "If righteousness be by the law, then has Christ died in vain." [2793] "If the inheritance be by the law, then is it no more of promise." [2794] "If they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect." [2795] "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, is evident: for, The just by faith liveth." [2796] "But the law is not of faith: but The man that doeth them shall live in them." [2797] Which testimony, quoted by the apostle from the law, is understood in respect of temporal life, in respect of the fear of losing which, men were in the habit of doing the works of the law, not of faith; because the transgressors of the law were commanded by the same law to be put to death by the people. Or, if it must be understood more highly, that "He who doeth these things shall live in them" was written in reference to eternal life; the power of the law is so expressed that the weakness of man in himself, itself failing to do what the law commands, might seek help from the grace of God rather of faith, seeing that by His mercy even faith itself is bestowed. Because faith is thus possessed, according as God has given to every one the measure of faith. [2798] For if men have it not of themselves, but men receive the Spirit of power and of love and of continence, whence that very same teacher of the Gentiles says, "For we have not received the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of continence," [2799] --assuredly also the Spirit of faith is received, of which he says, "Having also the same Spirit of faith." [2800] Truly, then, says the law, "He who doeth these things shall live in them." But in order to do these things, and live in them, there is necessary not law which ordains this, but faith which obtains this. Which faith, however, that it may deserve to receive these things, is itself given freely.

Footnotes

[2793] Gal. ii. 21. [2794] Gal. iii. 18. [2795] Rom. iv. 14. [2796] Gal. iii. 11. [2797] Gal. iii. 12. [2798] Rom. xii. 3. [2799] 2 Tim. i. 7. [2800] 2 Cor. iv. 13.


Chapter 11.--The Pelagians Understand that the Law Itself is God's Grace.

But those enemies of grace never endeavour to lay more secret snares for more vehement opposition to that same grace than when they praise the law, which, without doubt, is worthy to be praised. [2801] Because, by their different modes of speaking, and by variety of words in all their arguments, they wish the law to be understood as "grace"--that, to wit, we may have from the Lord God the help of knowledge, whereby we may know those things which have to be done,--not the inspiration of love, that, when known, we may do them with a holy love, which is properly grace. For the knowledge of the law without love puffeth up, does not edify, according to the same apostle, who most openly says, "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth." [2802] Which saying is like to that in which it is said, "The letter killeth, the spirit maketh alive." [2803] For "Knowledge puffeth up," corresponds to "The letter killeth:" and, "Love edifieth," to "The spirit maketh alive;" because "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us." [2804] Therefore the knowledge of the law makes a proud transgressor; but, by the gift of charity, he delights to be a doer of the law. We do not then make void the law through faith, but we establish the law, [2805] which by terrifying leads to faith. Thus certainly the law worketh wrath, that the mercy of God may bestow grace on the sinner, frightened and turned to the fulfilment of the righteousness of the law through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is that wisdom of God of which it is written, "She carries law and mercy on her tongue," [2806] --law whereby she frightens, mercy by which she may help,--law by His servant, mercy by Himself,--the law, as it were, in the staff which Elisha [2807] sent to raise up the son of the widow, and it failed to raise him up, "For if a law had been given which could have given life, righteousness would altogether have been by the law," [2808] but mercy, as it were, in Elisha himself, who, wearing the figure of Christ, by giving life to the dead was joined in the signification of the great sacrament, as it were, of the New Testament.

Footnotes

[2801] See On the Grace of Christ, ch. 8, and following. [2802] 1 Cor. viii. 1. [2803] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [2804] Rom. v. 5. [2805] Rom. iii. 31. [2806] Prov. iii. 16. [2807] 2 Kings iv. 29 sq. [2808] Gal. iii. 21.


Chapter 12 [VI.]--Of the Praise of Free Will.

Moreover, that, in opposition to the Manicheans, they praise free will, making use of the prophetic testimony, "If ye shall be willing and will hear me, ye shall eat what is good in the land; but if ye shall be unwilling and will not hear me, the sword shall consume you:" [2809] what advantage is this to them, when, indeed, it is not so much against the Manicheans that they are maintaining, as against the catholics that they are extolling, free will? For they wish what is said, "If ye be willing and will hear me," to be so understood, as if in the preceding will itself were the merit of the grace that follows; and thus grace were no more grace, seeing that it is not free when it is rendered as a debt. But if they should so understand what is written, "If ye be willing," as to confess that He prepares even that good will itself of whom it is written, "The will is prepared by the Lord," [2810] they would use this testimony as catholics, and not only would overcome the ancient heresy of the Manicheans, but would not found the new one of the Pelagians.

Footnotes

[2809] Isa. i. 19, 20. [2810] Prov. viii. 35.


Chapter 13.--God's Purposes are Effects of Grace.

What does it profit them, that in the praise of that same free will "they say that grace assists the good purpose of every one"? [2811] This would be received without scruple as being said in a catholic spirit, if they did not attribute merit to the good purpose, to which merit now a wage is paid of debt, not according to grace, but would understand and confess that even that very good purpose, which the grace which follows assists could not have been in the man if grace had not preceded it. For how is there a good purpose in a man without the mercy of God first, since it is that very good will which is prepared by the Lord? [2812] But when they had said this, "that grace also assists every one's good purpose," and presently added, "yet does not infuse the love of virtue into a resisting heart," it might be fitly understood, if it were not said by those whose meaning is known. For, for the resisting heart a hearing for the divine call is first procured by the grace of God itself, and then in that heart, now no more resisting, the desire of virtue is kindled. Nevertheless, in all things which any one does according to God, His mercy precedes him. And this they will not have, because they choose to be not catholics, but Pelagians. For it much delights a proud impiety, that even that which a man is forced to confess to be given by the Lord should seem to be not bestowed on himself, but repaid; so that, to wit, the children of perdition, not of the promise, may be thought themselves to have made themselves good, and God to have repaid to those who are now good, having been made so by themselves, the reward due for that their work.

Footnotes

[2811] See above, Book ii. ch. 11. [2812] Prov. viii. 35.


Chapter 14.--The Testimonies of Scripture in Favour of Grace.

For that very pride has so stopped the ears of their heart that they do not hear, "For what hast thou that thou hast not received?" [2813] They do not hear, "Without me ye can do nothing;" [2814] they do not hear, "Love is of God;" [2815] they do not hear, "God hath dealt the measure of faith;" [2816] they do not hear, "The Spirit breatheth where it will," [2817] and, "They who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;" [2818] they do not hear, "No one can come unto me, unless it were given him of my Father;" [2819] they do not hear what Esdras writes, "Blessed is the Lord of our fathers, who hath put into the heart of the king to glorify His house which is in Jerusalem;" [2820] they do not hear what the Lord says by Jeremiah, "And I will put my fear into their heart, that they depart not from me; and I will visit them to make them good;" [2821] and specially that word by Ezekiel the prophet, where God fully shows that He is induced by no good deservings of men to make them good, that is, obedient to His commands, but rather that He repays to them good for evil, by doing this for His own sake, and not for theirs. For He says, "These things saith the Lord God: I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine own holy name's sake, which has been profaned among the nations, whither ye have gone in there; and I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, saith Adonai the Lord, when I shall be sanctified among you before their eyes. And I will take you from among the nations, and gather you together out of all lands, and will bring you into your own land. And I will sprinkle upon you clean water, and ye shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and I will cleanse you. And I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you: and the stony heart shall be taken away out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them." [2822] And after a few words, by the same prophet He says, "Not for your sakes do I do this, saith the Lord God; it shall be known unto you: be ye confounded and blush for your ways, O house of Israel. These things saith the Lord God: In the day in which I shall cleanse you from all your iniquities, and shall ordain cities, and the wilderness shall be built, and the desolated land shall be tilled, whereas it was desolated before the eyes of every passer by. And they shall say, This land that was desolated has become as a garden of pleasure; and the wasted and desolated and ruined cities have settled down fortified. And whatever nations have been left round about you shall know that I the Lord have built the ruined places, I have planted the desolated places: I the Lord have spoken, and have done it. Thus saith the Lord: I will yet for this inquire of the house of Israel, that I may do it for them; I will multiply them men like sheep, as holy sheep, as the sheep of Jerusalem in the days of her feast; so shall be those desolated cities full of men as sheep: and they shall know that I am the Lord." [2823]

Footnotes

[2813] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [2814] John xv. 5. [2815] 1 John iv. 7. [2816] Rom. xii. 3. [2817] John iii. 8. [2818] Rom. viii. 14. [2819] John vi. 65. [2820] 1 Esdras viii. 25. [2821] Jer. xxxii. 40, 41. [2822] Ezek. xxxvi. 22 ff. [2823] Ezek. xxxvi. 32 ff.


Chapter 15.--From Such Scriptures Grace is Proved to Be Gratuitous and Effectual.

What remained to the carrion skin whence it might be puffed up, and could disdain when it glories to glory in the Lord? [2824] What remained to it, when whatsoever it shall have said that it has done in such a way that after that preceding merit of man had originated from man, God should subsequently do that of which the man is deserving,--it shall be answered, it shall be exclaimed against, it shall be contradicted, "I do it; but for my own holy name's sake; not for your sakes, do I do it, saith the Lord God"? [2825] Nothing so overturns the Pelagians when they say that the grace of God is given in respect of our merits. Which, indeed, Pelagius himself condemned, [2826] and if not by correcting it, yet by being afraid of the Eastern judges. Nothing so overturns the presumption of men who say, "We do it, that we may deserve those things with which God may do it." It is not Pelagius that answers you, but the Lord Himself, "I do it and not for your sakes, but for my own holy name's sake." [2827] For what good can ye do out of a heart which is not good? But that you may have a good heart, He says, "I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you." Can you say, We will first walk in His righteousness, and will observe His judgment, and will do so that we may be worthy, such as He should give His grace to? But what good would ye evil men do, and how should you do those good things, unless you were yourselves good? But who causes that men should be good save Him who said, "And I will visit them to make them good"? and who said "I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them"? Are ye thus not yet awake? Do ye not yet hear, "I will cause you to walk, I will make you to observe," lastly, "I will make you to do"? What! are you still puffing yourselves up? We indeed walk, it is true; we observe; we do; but He makes us to walk, to observe, to do. This is the grace of God making us good; this is His mercy preventing us. What do waste and desolated and dug-up places deserve, which yet shall be built and tilled and fortified? Are these things for the merits of their wasteness, their desolation, their uprooting? Far from it. For such things as these are evil deservings, while those gifts are good. Therefore good things are given for evil ones--gratuitous, therefore; not of debt, and therefore grace. "I," saith the Lord: "I, the Lord." Does not such a word as that restrain you, O human pride, when you say, I do such things as to deserve from the Lord to be built and planted? Do you not hear, "I do it not on your account; I the Lord have built up the destroyed cities, and I have planted the desolated lands; I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, yet not for your sakes, but for my own holy name's sake"? Who multiplies men as sheep, as holy sheep, as the sheep of Jerusalem? Who causes those desolated cities to be full of men as sheep, save He who goes on, and says, "And they shall know that I am the Lord"? But with what men as sheep does He fill the cities as He promised? those which He finds, or those which He makes? Let us interrogate the Psalm; lo, it answers; let us hear: "O come, let us worship and fall down before Him: and let us weep before the Lord who made us; because He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." [2828] He therefore makes the sheep, with which He may fill the desolated cities. What wonder, when, indeed, to that single sheep, that is, the Church whose members are all the human sheep, it is said, "Because I am the Lord who make thee"? What do you pretend to me of free will, which will not be free to do righteousness, unless you should be a sheep? He then who makes men His sheep, He frees the wills of men for the obedience of piety.

Footnotes

[2824] 1 Cor. i. 31. [2825] Ezek. xxxvi. 22. [2826] On the Proceedings of Peliagius, 30. [2827] Ezek. xxxvi. 22. [2828] Ps. xcv. 6, 7.


Chapter 16.--Why God Makes of Some Sheep, Others Not.

But wherefore does God make these men sheep, and those not, since with Him there is no acceptance of persons? This is the very question which the blessed apostle thus answers to those who propose it with more curiosity than propriety, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Does the thing formed say to him that formed it, Wherefore hast thou made me thus?" [2829] This is the very question which belongs to that depth desiring to look into which the same apostle was in a certain measure terrified, and exclaimed, "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counsellor? Or who has first given to Him, that it should be recompensed to Him again? Because of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things: to Him be glory for ages of ages." [2830] Let them not, then, dare to pry into that unsearchable question who defend merit before grace, and therefore even against grace, and wish first to give unto God, that it may be given to them again,--first, of course, to give something of free will, that grace may be given them again as a reward; and let them wisely understand or faithfully believe that even what they think that they have first given, they have received from Him, from whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things. But why this man should receive, and that should not receive, when neither of them deserves to receive, and whichever of them receives, receives undeservingly,--let them measure their own strength, and not search into things too strong for them. Let it suffice them to know that there is no unrighteousness with God. For when the apostle could find no merits for which Jacob should take precedence of his twin-brother with God, he said, "What, then, shall we say? Is there unrighteousness with God? Away with the thought! For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion. Therefore it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." [2831] Let, therefore, His free compassion be grateful to us, even although this profound question be still unsolved; which, nevertheless, is so far solved as the same apostle solves it, saying, "But if God, willing to show His wrath, and to demonstrate His power, endured in much patience the vessels of wrath which are fitted to destruction; and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He has prepared for glory." [2832] Certainly wrath is not repaid unless it is due, lest there be unrighteousness with God; but mercy, even when it is bestowed, and not due, is not unrighteousness with God. And hence, let the vessels of mercy understand how freely mercy is afforded to them, because to the vessels of wrath with whom they have common cause and measure of perdition, is repaid wrath, righteous and due. This is now enough in opposition to those who, by freedom of will, desire to destroy the liberality of grace.

Footnotes

[2829] Rom. ix. 20. [2830] Rom. xi. 33 ff. [2831] Rom. ix. 14 ff. [2832] Rom. ix. 22, 23.


Chapter 17 [VII.]--Of the Praise of the Saints.

In that, indeed, in the praise of the saints, they will not drive us with the zeal of that publican [2833] to hunger and thirst after righteousness, but with the vanity of the Pharisees, as it were, to overflow with sufficiency and fulness; what does it profit them that--in opposition to the Manicheans, who do away with baptism--they say "that men are perfectly renewed by baptism," and apply the apostle's testimony for this,--"who testifies that, by the washing of water, the Church is made holy and spotless from the Gentiles," [2834] --when, with a proud and perverse meaning, they put forth their arguments in opposition to the prayers of the Church itself. For they say this in order that the Church may be believed after holy baptism--in which is accomplished the forgiveness of all sins--to have no further sin; when, in opposition to them, from the rising of the sun even to its setting, in all its members it cries to God, "Forgive us our debts." [2835] But if they are interrogated regarding themselves in this matter, they find not what to answer. For if they should say that they have no sin, John answers them, that they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them. [2836] But if they confess their sins, since they wish themselves to be members of Christ's body, how will that body, that is, the Church, be even in this time perfectly, as they think, without spot or wrinkle, if its members without falsehood confess themselves to have sins? Wherefore in baptism all sins are forgiven, and, by that very washing of water in the word, the Church is set forth in Christ without spot or wrinkle; [2837] and unless it were baptized, it would fruitlessly say, "Forgive us our debts," until it be brought to glory, when there is in it absolutely no spot or wrinkle. [2838]

Footnotes

[2833] Luke xviii. 10-14. [2834] Eph. v. 26. [2835] Matt. vi. 12. [2836] 1 John i. 8. [2837] Eph. v. 27. [2838] See On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness, 35, and On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 27.


Chapter 18.--The Opinion of the Saints Themselves About Themselves.

It is to be confessed that "the Holy Spirit, even in the old times," not only "aided good dispositions," which even they allow, but that it even made them good, which they will not have. "That all, also, of the prophets and apostles or saints, both evangelical and ancient, to whom God gives His witness, were righteous, not in comparison with the wicked, but by the rule of virtue," is not doubtful. And this is opposed to the Manicheans, who blaspheme the patriarchs and prophets; but what is opposed to the Pelagians is, that all of these, when interrogated concerning themselves while they lived in the body, with one most accordant voice would answer, "If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [2839] "But in the future time," it is not to be denied "that there will be a reward as well of good works as of evil, and that no one will be commanded to do the commandments there which here he has contemned," but that a sufficiency of perfect righteousness where sin cannot be, a righteousness which is here hungered and thirsted after by the saints, is here hoped for in precept, is there received as a reward, on the entreaty of alms and prayers; so that what here may have been wanting in fulfilment of the commandments may become unpunished for the forgiveness of sin. [2840]

Footnotes

[2839] 1 John i. 8. [2840] See above, Book iii. 17.


Chapter 19.--The Craft of the Pelagians.

And if these things be so, let the Pelagians cease by their most insidious praises of these five things--that is, the praise of the creature, the praise of marriage, the praise of the law, the praise of free will, the praise of the saints--from feigning that they desire to pluck men, as it were, from the little snares of the Manicheans, in order that they may entangle them in their own nets--that is, that they may deny original sin; may begrudge to infants the aid of Christ the physician; may say that the grace of God is given according to our merits, and thus that grace is no more grace; and may say that the saints in this life had not sin, and thus make the prayer of none effect which He gave to the saints who had no sin, and by which all sin is pardoned to the saints that pray unto Him. To these three evil doctrines, they by their deceitful praise of these five good things seduce careless and unlearned men. Concerning all which things, I think I have sufficiently censured their most cruel and wicked and proud vanity.


Chapter 20 [VIII.]--The Testimonies of the Ancients Against the Pelagians.

But since they say "that their enemies have taken up our words for hatred of the truth," and complained that "throughout nearly the whole of the West a dogma not less foolish than impious is taken up, and from simple bishops sitting in their places without a Synodal congregation a subscription is extorted to confirm this dogma,"--although the Church of Christ, both Western and Eastern shuddered at the profane novelties of their words--I think it belongs to my care not only to avail myself of the sacred canonical Scriptures as witnesses against them, which I have already sufficiently done, but, moreover, to bring forward some proofs from the writings of the holy men who before us have treated upon those Scriptures with the most widespread reputation and great glory. Not that I would put the authority of any controversialist on a level with the canonical books, as if there were nothing which is better or more truly thought by one catholic than by another who likewise is a catholic; but that those may be admonished who think that these men say anything as it used to be said, before their empty talk on these subjects, by catholic teachers following the divine oracles, and may know that the true and anciently established catholic faith is by us defended against the receding presumption and mischief of the Pelagian heretics.


Chapter 21.--Pelagius, in Imitation of Cyprian, Wrote a Book of Testimonies.

Even that heresiarch of these men, Pelagius himself, mentions with the honour that is certainly due to him, the most blessed Cyprian, most glorious with even the crown of martyrdom, not only in the African and the Western, but also in the Eastern Churches, well known by the report of fame, and by the diffusion far and wide of his writings,--when, writing a book of testimonies, [2841] he asserts that he is imitating him, saying that "he was doing to Romanus what Cypria had done to Quirinus." Let us, then, see what Cyprian thought concerning original sin, which entered by one man into the world. In the epistle on "Works and Alms" [2842] he thus speaks: "When the Lord at His advent had cured these wounds which Adam had introduced, and had healed the old poisons of the serpent, He gave a law to the sound man, and bade him sin no more, lest a worse thing should happen to him if he sinned. We had been limited and shut up into a narrow space by the commandment of innocence; nor would the infirmity and weakness of human frailty have any resource unless the divine mercy coming once more in aid should open some way of securing salvation by pointing out works of justice and mercy, so that by alms-giving we may wash away whatever foulness we subsequently contract." By this testimony this witness refutes two falsehoods of theirs,--the one, wherein they say that the human race draws no sin from Adam which needs cure and healing through Christ; the other, in which they say that the saints have no sin after baptism. Again, in the same epistle [2843] he says, "Let each one place before his eyes the devil with his servants,--that is, with the people of perdition and death,--as springing forth into the midst and provoking the people of Christ,--Himself being present and judging,--with the trial of comparison in these words: `I, on behalf of those whom thou seest with me, neither received buffets, nor bore scourgings, nor endured the cross, nor shed my blood, nor redeemed my family at the price of my suffering and blood; but neither do I promise them a celestial kingdom, nor do I recall them to Paradise, having again restored to them immortality.'" Let the Pelagians answer and say when we could have been in the immortality of Paradise, and how we could have been expelled thence so as to be recalled thither by the grace of Christ. And, although they may be unable to find what they can answer in this case on behalf of their own perversity, let them observe in what manner Cyprian understood what the apostle says, "In whom all have sinned." And let not the Pelagian heretics, freed from the old Manichean heretics, dare to suggest any calumny against a catholic, lest they should be convicted of doing so wicked a wrong even to the ancient martyr Cyprian.

Footnotes

[2841] That is, his Capitula. See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 6. [2842] Work cited, ch. 1; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 476. [2843] Work cited, ch. 22; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 482.


Chapter 22.--Further References to Cyprian.

For he says also this in the epistle whose title is inscribed, "On the Mortality:" [2844] "The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, is beginning to be at hand; the reward of life, and the rejoicing of eternal salvation and perpetual gladness, and the possession formerly lost of Paradise, are now coming with the passing away of the world." This again, in the same epistle, he says: "Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to Paradise and the kingdom." Moreover, he says in the epistle concerning Patience: "Let the judgment of God be pondered, which, even in the beginning of the world and of the human race, Adam, forgetful of the commandment and a transgressor of the law that had been given, received. Then we shall know how patient in this life we ought to be, who are born in such a state that we labour here with afflictions and contests. Because, says He, `thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which alone I had charged thee that thou shouldest not eat, cursed shall be the ground in all thy works: in sorrow and in groaning shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it give forth to thee, and thou shall eat the food of the field. In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread, till thou return unto the ground from which thou wast taken: for earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou go.' We are all tied and bound with the chain of this sentence until, death being destroyed, we depart from this world." [2845] And, moreover, in the same epistle he says: "For, since in that first transgression of the commandment strength of body departed with immortality, and weakness came on with death, and strength cannot be received unless when immortality also has been received, it behoves us in this bodily frailty and weakness always to struggle and fight; and this struggle and encounter cannot be sustained but by the strength of patience." [2846]

Footnotes

[2844] Chs. 2, 18; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. pp. 469, 473. [2845] Ch. 11; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 487. [2846] Ch. 9; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 486.


Chapter 23.--Further References to Cyprian.

And in the epistle which he wrote with sixty-six of his joint-bishops to Bishop Fidus, when he was consulted by him in respect of the law of circumcision, whether an infant might be baptized before the eighth day, this matter is treated in such a way as if by a divine forethought the catholic Church would already confute the Pelagian heretics who would appear so long afterwards. For he who had consulted had no doubt on the subject whether children on birth inherited original sin, which they might wash away by being born again. For be it far from the Christian faith to have at any time doubted on this matter. But he was in doubt whether the washing of regeneration, by which he made no question but that original sin was put away, ought to be given before the eighth day. To which consultation the most blessed Cyprian in reply said: "But as regards the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of the ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For to the course which you thought was to be taken no one agreed, but we all rather judged that the grace of a merciful God was not to be denied to any one born of men; for, as the Lord says in His gospel, `the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.' [2847] As far as we can, we must strive that, if possible, no soul be lost." [2848] And a little afterwards he says: "Nor ought any of us to shudder at what God hath condescended to make. For although the infant is still fresh from its birth, yet it is not such that any one should shudder at kissing it in giving grace and in making peace, since in the kiss of an infant every one of us ought for his very religion's sake to consider the still recent hands of God themselves, which in some sort we are kissing in the man just formed and newly born, when we are embracing that which God has made." [2849] A little after, also, he says: "But if anything could hinder men from obtaining grace, their more heinous sins might rather hinder those who are mature and grown up and older. But again, if even to the greatest sinners, and to those who have before sinned much against God, when they have subsequently believed, remission of sins is granted, and nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace; how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at his earliest birth; who approaches more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins, in that to him are remitted not his own sins, but the sins of another!" [2850]

Footnotes

[2847] Luke ix. 56. [2848] Cyprian's Letters, No. 64, chs. 2, 4, 5: see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 353 (Ep. 58). [2849] Ibid. as cited. [2850] Cyprian, as cited.


Chapter 24.--The Dilemma Proposed to the Pelagians.

What will be said to such things as these, by those who are not only the forsakers, but also the persecutors of God's grace? What will they say to such things as these? On what ground is the "possession of Paradise" restored to us? How are we restored to Paradise if we have never been there? Or how have we been there, except because we were there in Adam? And how do we belong to that "judgment" which was spoken against the transgressor, if we do not inherit injury from the transgressor? Finally, he thinks that infants are to be baptized, even before the eighth day; lest "by the contagion of the ancient death, contracted in the first birth," the souls of the infants should perish. How do they perish if they who are born even of believing men are not held by the devil until they are born again in Christ, and plucked out from the power of darkness, and transferred into His kingdom? And who says that the souls of those who are born will perish unless they are born again? No other than he who so praises the Creator and the creature, the workman and the work, as to restrain and correct the horror of human feeling with which men refuse to kiss infants fresh from the womb, by interposing the veneration of the Creator Himself, saying that in the kiss of infants of that age the recent hands of God were to be considered! Did he, then, in confessing original sin, condemn either nature or marriage? Did he, because he applied to the infant born guilty from Adam, the cleansing of regeneration, therefore deny God as the Creator of those that were born? Because, in his dread that souls of any age whatever should perish, he, with his council of colleagues, decided that even before the eighth day they were to be delivered by the sacrament of baptism, did he therefore accuse marriage, when, indeed, in the case of an infant,--whether born of marriage or of adultery, yet because it was born a man,--he declared that the recent hands of God were worthy even of the kiss of peace? If, then, the holy bishop and most glorious martyr Cyprian could think that original sin in infants must be healed by the medicine of Christ, without denying the praise of the creature, without denying the praise of marriage, why does a novel pestilence, although it does not dare to call such an one as him a Manichean, think that another person's fault is to be objected against catholics who maintain these things, in order to conceal its own? So the most lauded commentator on the divine declarations, before even the slightest taint of the Manichean plague had touched our lands, without any reproach of the divine work and of marriage, confesses original sin,--not saying that Christ was stained with any spot of sin, nor yet comparing with Him the flesh of sin in others that were born, to whom by means of the likeness of sinful flesh He might afford the aid of cleansing; neither is he deterred by the obscure question of the origin of souls, from confessing that those who are made free by the grace of Christ return into Paradise. Does he say that the condition of death passed upon men from Adam without the contagion of sin? For it is not on account of avoiding the death of the body, but on account of the sin which entered by one man into the world, [2851] that he says that help is to be afforded by baptism to infants, however fresh they may be from the womb.

Footnotes

[2851] Rom. v. 12.


Chapter 25 [IX.]--Cyprian's Testimonies Concerning God's Grace.

But now it plainly appears in what way Cyprian proclaims the grace of God against such as these, when he is arguing about the Lord's Prayer. For he says: "We say, `May Thy name be made holy,' [2852] not that we wish for God that He may be made holy by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be made holy in us. But by whom is God made holy, since He Himself makes holy? But, because He says, `Be ye holy, because I also am holy,' we ask and entreat this, that we who were made holy in baptism may continue in that which we have begun to be." [2853] And in another place in the same epistle he says: "We add also, and say, `Thy will be done in heaven, and in earth,' not in order that God may do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God that He may not do what He wills? But, since we are hindered by the devil from obeying God with our thought and deed in all things, we pray and ask that God's will may be done in us. And that it may be done in us, we have need of God's will, that is, of His help and protection; since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the indulgence and mercy of God." [2854] In another place also: "Moreover, we ask that the will of God may be done both in heaven and in earth, each of which things pertains to the fulfilment of our safety and salvation. For since we possess the body from the earth, and the spirit from heaven, we are ourselves earth and heaven; and in both, that is, both in body and in spirit, we pray that God's will be done. For between the flesh and the spirit there is a struggle, and there is a daily strife as they disagree one with the other; so that we cannot do the very things that we would, in that the spirit seeks heavenly and divine things, while the flesh lusts after earthly and temporal things. And, therefore, we ask that, by the help and assistance of God, agreement may be made between these two natures; so that while the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul which is newborn by Him may be preserved. And this the Apostle Paul openly and manifestly declares by his words. `The flesh,' says he, `lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.'" [2855] And a little after he says: "And it may be thus understood, most beloved brethren, that since the Lord commands and teaches us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us, we should ask even for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God's will may be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity." [2856] And again, in another place he says: "But we ask that this bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not, by the interposition of some more heinous sin,--by being prevented, as those abstaining and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread,--be separated from Christ's body." [2857] And a little afterwards, in the same treatise he says: "But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness, while we so ask as that no one should insolently vaunt himself; that none should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself; that none should take to himself the glory either of confession or of suffering as his own, when the Lord Himself teaching humility said, `Watch and pray, that ye come not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;' [2858] so that while a humble and submissive confession comes first, and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly, with fear and honour of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness." [2859] Moreover, in his treatise addressed to Quirinus, in respect to which work Pelagius wishes himself to appear as his imitator, he says in the Third Book "that we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." [2860] And subjoining the divine testimonies to this proposition, he added among others that apostolic word with which especially the mouths of such as these must be closed: "For what hast thou, which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received it, why boastest thou as if thou hadst not received it?" Also in the epistle concerning Patience he says: "For we have this virtue in common with God. From Him patience begins; from Him its glory and its dignity take their rise. The origin and greatness of patience proceed from God as its Author." [2861]

Footnotes

[2852] i.e. "Hallowed be Thy name." [2853] Cyprian, On the Lord 's Prayer, ch. 9 (xii.), see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. p. 450. [2854] Ibid. ch. 13 (xvi.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 451. [2855] Cyprian, On the Lord 's Prayer, ch. 11 (xiv.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 451. [2856] Ibid. ch. 15 (xvii.); vol. v. 452. [2857] Ibid. ch. 18 (xx.), p. 452. [2858] Matt. xxvi. 41, or Mark xiv. 38. [2859] Cyprian, work cited, ch. 19 (xxvi.); see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 454. [2860] Cyprian's Testimonies, iii. 4; vol. v. p. 528. [2861] Cyprian, On Patience; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 484.


Chapter 26.--Further Appeals to Cyprian's Teaching.

Does that holy and so memorable instructor of the Churches in the word of truth, deny that there is free will in men, because he attributes to God the whole of your righteous living? Does he reproach God's law, because he intimates that man is not justified by it, seeing that he declares that what that law commands must be obtained from the Lord God by prayers? Does he assert fate under the name of grace, by saying that we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own? Does he, like these, believe that the Holy Spirit is in such wise the aider of virtue, as if that very virtue which it assists springs from ourselves, when, asserting that nothing is our own, he mentions in this respect that the apostle said, "For what hast thou that thou hast not received?" and says that the most excellent virtue, that is, patience, does not begin from us, and afterwards receive aid by the Spirit of God, but from Him Himself takes its source, from Him takes its origin? Finally, he confesses that neither good purpose, nor desire of virtue, nor good dispositions, begin to be in men without God's grace, when he says that "we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." What is so established in free will as what the law says, that we must not worship an idol, must not commit adultery, must do no murder? Nay, these crimes, and such like, are of such a kind that, if any one should commit them, he is removed from the communion of the body of Christ. And yet, if the blessed Cyprian thought that our own will was sufficient for not committing these crimes, he would not in such wise understand what we say in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," as that he should assert that we ask "that we may not by the interposition of some heinous sin--by being prevented as abstaining, and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread--be separated from Christ's body." Let these new heretics answer of a surety what good merit precedes, in men who are enemies of the name of Christ? For not only have they no good merit, but they have, moreover, the very worst merit. And yet, Cyprian even thus understands what we say in the prayer, "Thy will be done in heaven, and in earth:" that we pray also for those very persons who in this respect are called earth. We pray, therefore, not only for the unwilling, but also for the objecting and resisting. What, then, do we ask, but that from unwilling they may be made willing; from objecting, consenting; from resisting, loving? And by whom, but by Him of whom it is written, "The will is prepared by God"? [2862] Let them, then, who disdain, if they do not do any evil and if they do any good, to glory, not in themselves, but in the Lord, learn to be catholics.

Footnotes

[2862] Prov. viii. 36.


Chapter 27 [X.]--Cyprian's Testimonies Concerning the Imperfection of Our Own Righteousness.

Let us, then, see that third point, which in these men is not less shocking to every member of Christ and to His whole body,--that they contend that there are in this life, or that there have been, righteous men having absolutely no sin. [2863] In which presumption they most manifestly contradict the Lord's Prayer, wherein, with truthful heart and with daily words, all the members of Christ cry aloud, "Forgive us our debts." Let us see, then, what Cyprian, most glorious in the Lord, thought of this,--what he not only said for the instruction of the Churches, not, of course, of the Manicheans, but of the catholics, but also committed to letters and to memory. In the epistle on "Works and Alms," he says: "Let us then acknowledge, beloved brethren, the wholesome gift of the divine mercy, and let us who cannot be without some wound of conscience heal our wounds by the spiritual remedies for the cleansing and purging of our sins. Nor let any one so flatter himself with the notion of a pure and immaculate heart, as, in dependence on his own innocence, to think that the medicine needs not to be applied to his wounds; since it is written, `Who shall boast that he hath a clean heart, or who shall boast that he is pure from sins?' [2864] And again, in his epistle, John lays it down and says, `If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' [2865] But if no one can be without sin, and whoever should say that he is without fault is either proud or foolish, how needful, how kind is the divine mercy, which, knowing that there are still found some wounds in those that have been healed, has given even after their healing wholesome remedies for the curing and healing of their wounds anew!" [2866] Again, in the same treatise he says: "And since there cannot fail daily to be sins committed in the sight of God, there failed not daily sacrifices wherewith the sins might be cleansed away." [2867] Also, in the treatise on the Mortality, he says: "Our warfare is with avarice, with immodesty, with anger, with ambition; our trying and toilsome wrestling with carnal vices, with the enticements of the world. The mind of man besieged, and on every hand invested with the onsets of the devil, scarcely meets the repeated attacks, scarcely resists them. If avarice is prostrated, lust springs up. If lust is overcome, ambition takes its place. If ambition is despised, anger exasperates, pride puffs up, wine-bibbing entices; envy breaks concord; jealousy cuts friendship; you are constrained to curse, which the divine law forbids; you are compelled to swear, which is not lawful. So many persecutions the soul suffers daily, with so many risks is the heart wearied; and yet it delights to abide here long among the devil's weapons, although it should rather be our craving and wish to hasten to Christ by the aid of a quicker death." [2868] Again, in the same treatise he says: "The blessed Apostle Paul in his epistle lays it down, saying, `To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain;' [2869] counting it the greatest gain no longer to be held by the snares of this world, no longer to be liable to the sins and vices of the flesh." [2870] Moreover, on the Lord's Prayer, explaining what it is we ask when we say, "Hallowed be thy name," he says, among other matters: "For we have need of daily sanctification, that we, who daily fall away, may wash out our sins by continual sanctification." [2871] Again, in the same treatise, when he would explain our saying, "Forgive us our debts," he says: "And how necessarily, how providently and salutarily, are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins; and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness of guilt. Lest any one should flatter himself as being innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his epistle warns us, and says: `If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.'" [2872] Rightly, also, he proposed in his letter to Quirinus his own most absolute judgment on this subject, to which he subjoined the divine testimonies, "That no one is without filth and without sin." [2873] There also he set down those testimonies by which original sin is confirmed, which these men endeavour to twist into I know not what new and evil meanings, whether what the holy Job says, "No one is pure from filth, not one even if his life be of one day upon the earth," [2874] or what is read in the Psalm, "Behold, I was conceived in iniquity; and in sins hath my mother nourished me in the womb." [2875] To which testimonies, on account of those also who are already holy in mature age, since even they are not without filth and sin, he added also that word of the most blessed John, which he often mentions in many other places besides, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves;" [2876] and other passages of the same sentiment, which are asserted by all catholics, by way of opposing those "who deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them."

Footnotes

[2863] This assertion of the Pelagians was condemned in an African Council in 418. [2864] Prov. xx. 9. [2865] 1 John i. 8. [2866] Cyprian, work cited, ch. 2; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 476. [2867] Ibid., p. 480. [2868] Ibid. work cited, chs. 3, 4, p. 470. [2869] Phil. i. 21. [2870] Cyprian, ibid. [2871] Cyprian, work cited, ch. 9, p. 450. [2872] Cyprian, ibid. ch. 16 (xxii.), p. 453. [2873] Cyprian, Testimonies, iii. 54; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. p. 529. [2874] Job xiv. 4, 5. [2875] Ps. li. 5. [2876] 1 John i. 8.


Chapter 28.--Cyprian's Orthodoxy Undoubted.

Let the Pelagians say, if they dare, that this man of God was perverted by the error of the Manicheans, in so praising the saints as yet to confess that no one in this life had attained to such a perfection of righteousness as to have no sin at all, confirming his judgment by the clear truth and divine authority of the canonical testimonies. For does he deny that in baptism all sins are forgiven, because he confesses that there remain frailty and infirmity, whence he says that we sin after baptism and even to the end of this life, having unceasing conflict with the vices of the flesh? Or did he not remember what the apostle said about the Church without spot, that he prescribed that no one ought so to flatter himself in respect of a pure and spotless heart as to trust in his own innocence, and think that no medicine needed to be applied to his wounds? I think that these new heretics may concede to this catholic man that he knew "that the Holy Spirit even in the old times aided good dispositions;" nay, even, what they themselves will not allow, that they could not have possessed good dispositions except through the Holy Spirit. I think that Cyprian knew that all the prophets and apostles or saints of any kind soever who pleased the Lord at any time were righteous--"not in comparison with the wicked," as they falsely assert that we say, "but by the rule of virtue," as they boast that they say; although Cyprian says, nevertheless, no one can be without sin, and whoever should assert that he is blameless is either proud or a fool. Nor is it with reference to anything else that he understands the Scripture, "Who shall boast that he has a pure heart? or who shall boast that he is pure from sins?" [2877] I think that Cyprian would not have needed to be taught by such as these, what he very well knew, "that, in the time to come, there would be a reward of good works and a punishment of evil works, but that no one could then perform the commands which here he might have despised;" and yet he does not understand and assert the Apostle Paul, who was assuredly not a contemner of the divine commands, to have said, "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," [2878] on any other account, except that he reckoned it the greatest gain after this life no longer to be held in worldly entanglements, no longer to be obnoxious to the sins and vices of the flesh. Therefore the most blessed Cyprian felt, and in the truth of the divine Scriptures saw, that even the life of the apostles themselves, however good, holy, and righteous, suffered some involvements of worldly entanglements, was obnoxious to some sins and vices of the flesh; and that they desired death that they might be free from those evils, and that they might attain to that perfect righteousness which would not suffer such things, and which would no more have to be achieved in the way of command merely, but to be received in the way of reward. For not even when that shall have come for which we pray when we say, "Thy kingdom come," will there be in that kingdom of God no righteousness; since the apostle says, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." [2879] Certainly these three things are commanded among other divine precepts. Here righteousness is prescribed to us when it is said, "Do righteousness;" [2880] peace is prescribed when it is said, "Have peace among yourselves;" [2881] joy is prescribed when it is said, "Rejoice in the Lord always." [2882] Let, then, the Pelagians deny that these things shall be in the kingdom of God, where we shall live without end; or let them be so mad, if it appears good, as to contend that righteousness, peace, and joy, will be such there as they are here to the righteous. But if they both shall be, and yet shall not be the same, assuredly here, in respect of the commandment of them, the doing is to be cared for,--there the perfection is to be hoped for in the way of reward; when, not being withheld by any earthly entanglements, and being liable to no sins and vices of the flesh (on account of which the apostle, as Cyprian received this testimony, said that to die would be to him gain), we may perfectly love God, the contemplation of whom will be face to face; we may also perfectly love our neighbour, since, when the thoughts of the heart are made manifest, no suspicion of any evil can disturb any one concerning any one.

Footnotes

[2877] Prov. xx. 9. [2878] Phil. ii. 21. [2879] Rom. xiv. 17. [2880] Isa. lvi. 1. [2881] Mark ix. 49. [2882] Phil. iv. 4.


Chapter 29 [XI.]--The Testimonies of Ambrose Against the Pelagians and First of All Concerning Original Sin.

But now also to the most glorious martyr Cyprian, let me add, for the sake of more amply confuting these men, the most blessed Ambrose; because even Pelagius praised him so much as to say that in his writings could be found nothing to be blamed even by his enemies. [2883] Since, then, the Pelagians say that there is no original sin with which infants are born, and object to the catholics the guilt of the Manichean heresy, who withstand them on behalf of the most ancient faith of the Church, let this catholic man of God, Ambrose, praised even by Pelagius himself in the truth of the faith, answer them concerning this matter. When he was expounding the prophet Isaiah, he says: "Christ was, therefore, without spot, because He was not stained even in the usual condition itself of birth." [2884] And in another place in the same work, speaking of the Apostle Peter, he says: "He offered himself, which he thought before to be sin, asking for himself that not only his feet but his head also should be washed, because he had directly understood that by the washing of the feet, for those who fell in the first man, the filth of the obnoxious succession was abolished." [2885] Also in the same work he says: "It was preserved, therefore, that of a man and woman, that is, by that mingling of bodies, no one could be seen to be free from sin; but He who is free from sin is free also from this kind of conception." Also writing against the Novatians he says: "All of us men are born under sin. And our very origin is in corruption, as you have it read in the words of David, [2886] `For lo, I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins hath my mother brought me forth.'" [2887] Also in the apology of the prophet David, he says: "Before we are born we are spotted with contagion, and before the use of light we receive the mischief of that origin. We are conceived in iniquity." [2888] Also speaking of the Lord, he says: "It was certainly fitting that He who was not to have the sin of a bodily fall, should feel no natural contagion of generation. Rightly, therefore, David with weeping deplored in himself these defilements of nature, and the fact that the stain had begun in man before his life." [2889] Again, in the Ark of Noah he says: "Therefore by one Lord Jesus the coming salvation is declared to the nations; for He only could be righteous, although every generation should go astray, nor for any other reason than that, being born of a virgin, He was not at all bound by the ordinance of a guilty generation. `Behold,' he says, `I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins has my mother brought me forth;' [2890] he who was esteemed righteous beyond others so speaks. Whom, then, should I now call righteous unless Him who is free from those chains, whom the bonds of our common nature do not hold fast?" [2891] Behold, this holy man, most approved, even by the witness of Pelagius, in the catholic faith, condemned the Pelagians who deny original sin with such evidence as this; and yet he does not with the Manicheans deny either God to be the Creator of those who are born, or condemn marriage, which God ordained and blessed.

Footnotes

[2883] See On the Grace of Christ, ch. 47. [2884] This work is not extant. [2885] This work is not extant. [2886] Ps. li. 5. [2887] On Penitence, Book i. ch. 13. [2888] Apology of the Prophet David, ch. 56. [2889] Ibid. ch. 57. [2890] Ps. li. 5. [2891] On Noah and the Ark, ch. 7 (?).


Chapter 30.--The Testimonies of Ambrose Concerning God's Grace.

The Pelagians say that merit begins from man by free will, to which God repays the subsequent aid of grace. Let the venerable Ambrose here also refute them, when he says, in his exposition of the prophet Isaiah, "that human care without divine help is powerless for healing, and needs a divine helper." Also, in the treatise which is inscribed, "On the Avoidance of the World," [2892] he says: "Our discourse is frequent on the avoidance of this world; and I wish that our disposition were as cautious and careful as our discourse is easy. But what is worse, the enticement of earthly lusts frequently creeps in, and the flowing forth of vanities takes hold of the mind, so that the very thing that you desire to avoid you think upon, and turn over in your mind; and this it is difficult for a man to beware of, but to get rid of it is impossible. Finally, that that is rather a matter to be wished than to be accomplished the prophet testifies when he says, `Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to avarice.' [2893] For our heart and our thoughts are not in our power, seeing that they are suddenly forced forth and confuse the mind and the soul and draw them in other directions from those which you have proposed for them;--they recall to things of time, they suggest worldly things, they obtrude voluptuous thoughts, they inweave seducing thoughts, and, in the very season in which we are proposing to lift up our mind, vain thoughts are intruded upon us, and we are cast down for the most part to things of earth; and who is so happy as always to rise upwards in his heart? And how can this be done without the divine help? Absolutely in no manner. Finally, of old Scripture says the same thing, `Blessed is the man whose help is of Thee, O Lord; in his heart is going up.'" [2894] What can be said more openly and more sufficiently? But lest the Pelagians perchance should answer that, in that very point in which divine help is asked for, man's merit precedes, saying that that very thing is merit, that by his prayer he is desiring that divine grace should come to his assistance, let them give heed to what the same holy man says in his exposition of Isaiah. He says: "And to pray God is a spiritual grace; for no man says that Jesus is the Lord, except in the Holy Spirit." [2895] Whence also, expounding the Gospel according to Luke, [2896] he says: "You see certainly that everywhere the power of the Lord cooperates with human desires, so that no man can build without the Lord, no man can undertake anything without the Lord." Because such a man as Ambrose says this, and commends God's grace, as it is fitting for a son of promise to do, with grateful piety, does he therefore destroy free will? Or does he mean grace to be understood as the Pelagians in their different discourses will have to appear nothing but law--so that, for instance, God may be believed to help us not to do what we may know, but to know what we may do? If they think that such a man of God as this is of this mind, let them hear what he has said about the law itself. In the book "On the Avoidance of the World," he says: "The law could stop the mouth of all men; it could not convert their mind." [2897] In another place also, in the same treatise, he says: "The law condemns the deed; it does not take away its wickedness." [2898] Let them see that this faithful and catholic man agrees with the apostle who says, "Now we know that what things soever the law says, it says to those who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Because by the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight." [2899] For from that apostolic opinion Ambrose took and wrote these things.

Footnotes

[2892] Work cited, ch. 1. [2893] Ps. cxix. 36. [2894] Ps. lxxxiv. 5 [LXX.]. [2895] 1 Cor. xii. 13. [2896] Commentary on Luke, lib. ii. ch. 3, p. 84. [2897] Ch. 15. [2898] Ch. 39. [2899] Rom. iii. 19, 20.


Chapter 31.--The Testimonies of Ambrose on the Imperfection of Present Righteousness.

But now, since the Pelagians say that there either are or have been righteous men in this life who have lived without any sin, to such an extent that the future life which is to be hoped for as a reward cannot be more advanced or more perfect, let Ambrose here also answer them and refute them. For, expounding Isaiah the Prophet in reference to what is written, "I have begotten and brought up children, and they have despised me," [2900] he undertook to dispute concerning the generations which are of God, and in that argument he quoted the testimony of John when he says, "He that is born of God sinneth not." [2901] And, treating the same very difficult question, he says: "Since in this world there is none who is free from sin; since John himself says, `If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar.' [2902] But if `they that are born of God sin not,' and if these words refer to those of them who are in the world, it is necessary that we should regard them as those numberless people who have obtained God's grace by the regeneration of the laver. But yet, when the prophet says, `All things are waiting upon Thee, that Thou mayest give them meat in season. That Thou givest them they gather for themselves; when Thou openest Thine hand, all things shall be filled with goodness. But when Thou turnest away Thy face, they shall be troubled: Thou shall take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall be turned into their dust. Thou shall send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth,' [2903] such things as these cannot seem to have been said of any time whatever but of that future time, in which there shall be a new earth and a new heaven. Therefore they shall be disturbed that they may take their beginning. `And when Thou openest Thy hand all things shall be filled with goodness,' which is not easily characteristic of this age. For concerning this age what does Scripture say? `There is none that doeth good, no, not one.' [2904] If, therefore, there are different generations,--and here the very entrance into this life is the receiver of sins to such an extent that even he who begot should be despised; while another generation does not receive sins;--let us consider whether by any means there may not be a regeneration for us after the course of this life,--of which regeneration it is said, `In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory.' [2905] For as that is called the regeneration of washing whereby we are renewed from the filth of sins washed away, so that seems to be called a regeneration by which we are purified from every stain of bodily materiality, and are regenerated in the pure sense of the soul to life eternal; so that every quality of regeneration may be purer than of that washing, so that no suspicion of sins can fall either on a man's doings, or even on his very thoughts themselves." Moreover, in another place in the same work he says: "We see it to be impossible that any person created in a body can be absolutely spotless, since even Paul says that he is imperfect. For thus he has it: `Not that I have already received, or am already perfect;' [2906] and yet after a little he says, `As many of us, therefore, as are perfect.' [2907] Unless, perchance, there is one perfection in this world, another after this is completed, of which he says to the Corinthians, `When that which is perfect is come;' [2908] and elsewhere, `Till we all come into the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, into the perfect man to the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.' [2909] As, then, the apostle says that many are placed in this world who are perfect along with him, but who, if you have regard to true perfection, could not be perfect, since he says, `We see now through a mirror, enigmatically; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known:' [2910] so also there both are those who are `spotless' in this world, and will be those who are `spotless' in the kingdom of God, although certainly, if you consider it accurately, no person can be spotless, because no person is without sin." Also in the same he says: "We see that, while we live in this life, we ought to purify ourselves and to seek God; and to begin from the purification of our soul, and as it were to establish the foundations of virtue, so that we may deserve to attain the perfection of our purgation after this life." And again, in the same he says: "But laden and groaning, who does not say, `O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' [2911] So with the same teacher we give all varieties of interpretation. For if he is unhappy who recognises himself as involved in the evils of the body, certainly everybody is unhappy; for I should not call that man happy who, being confused with any darkness of his mind, does not know his own condition. That, moreover, has not absurdly come to be understood; for if a man who knows himself is unhappy, assuredly all are wretched, because every one either recognises his weakness by wisdom, or by folly is ignorant of it." Moreover, in the treatise "On the Benefit of Death," he says: [2912] "Let death work in us, in order that that may work life also, a good life after death,--that is, a good life after victory, a good life after the contest is finished; so that now no longer the law of the flesh may know how to resist the law of the mind, that no longer we may have any contention with the body of death." Again, in the same treatise he says: "Therefore, because the righteous have this reward, that they see the face of God, and that light which lightens every man, let us henceforth put on the desire of this kind of reward, that our soul may draw near to God, our prayer may draw near to Him, our desire may cleave to Him, that we be not separated from Him. And placed here as we are, let us by meditating, by reading, by seeking, be united with God. Let us know Him as we can. For we know Him in part here; because here all things are imperfect, there all are perfect; here we are infants, there we shall be strong men. `We see,' says he, `now through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.' Then, His face being revealed, we shall be allowed to look upon the glory of God, which now our souls, involved in the compacted dregs of this body, and shadowed by some stains and filth of this flesh, cannot clearly see. `For who,' He says, `shall see my face and live?' and rightly. For if our eyes cannot bear the rays of the sun,--and if any one should gaze too long on the region of the sun he is said to be blinded,--if a creature cannot look upon a creature without deceit and offence, how can he without his own peril look upon the glittering face of the eternal Creator, covered as he is with the clothing of this body? For who is justified in God's sight, when even the infant of one day cannot be pure from sin, and no one can boast of his integrity and pureness of heart?"

Footnotes

[2900] Isa. i. 2. [2901] 1 John iii. 9. [2902] 1 John i. 10. [2903] Ps. civ. 27, etc. [2904] Ps. xiv. 1. [2905] Matt. xix. 28. [2906] Phil. iii. 12. [2907] Phil. iii. 15. [2908] 1 Cor. xiii. 10. [2909] Eph. iv. 13. [2910] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [2911] Rom. vii. 24. [2912] Work cited, chs. 9, 49


Chapter 32 [XII.]--The Pelagian's Heresy Arose Long After Ambrose.

It would be too long if I were to seek to mention everything which the holy Ambrose said and wrote against this heresy of the Pelagians, which was to arise so long afterwards; not indeed with a view to answer them, but with a view to declare the catholic faith, and to build up men in it. Moreover, I neither could nor ought to mention all those things which Cyprian, most glorious in the Lord, wrote in his letters, whereby it is shown how this which we hold is the true and truly Christian and catholic faith, as it was delivered of old by the Holy Scriptures, and so retained and kept by our fathers and even to this time, in which these heretics have attempted to destroy it, and as it will hereafter by God's good will be retained and kept. For that these things and things of this kind were thus delivered to Cyprian, and by Cyprian, is testified by the testimonies produced from his letters; and that thus they were maintained up to our times is shown by these things which Ambrose wrote about these matters before these heretics had begun to rage, and catholic ears had shuddered at their profane novelties which are everywhere; and that thus, moreover, they shall be maintained hereafter, was declared with sufficient vigour partly by the condemnation of such opinions as these, partly by their correction. For whatever they may dare to mutter against the sound faith of Cyprian and Ambrose, I do not think that they will break out into such a madness as to dare to call those noted and memorable men of God, Manicheans.


Chapter 33.--Opposition of the Manichean and Catholic Dogmas.

What is it, then, which in their raging blindness of mind they are now spreading about, [2913] "that almost throughout the entire West a dogma not less foolish than impious is taken up;" when by the mercy of God and by His merciful governance of His Church, the catholic faith has been so watchful that the dogma, "not less foolish than wicked," as of the Manicheans, so also of these heretics, should not be taken up? So holy and learned catholic men, such as are attested to be so by the report of the whole Church, praise both God's creation, and marriage as ordained by Him, and the law given by Him by means of the holy Moses, and the free will implanted into man's nature, and the holy patriarchs and prophets, with due and fitting proclamation; all which five things the Manicheans condemn, partly by denying, and partly also by abominating. Whence it appears that these catholic doctors were far removed from the notions of the Manicheans, and yet they assert original sin; they assert God's grace above free will, as antecedent to all merit, so as truly to afford a gratuitous divine assistance; they assert that the saints lived righteously in this flesh, in such wise that the help of prayer was necessary to them, by which their daily sins might be forgiven; and that a perfected righteousness which could not have sin would be in another life the reward of those who should live righteously here.

Footnotes

[2913] See above, ch. 20.


Chapter 34.--The Calling Together of a Synod Not Always Necessary to the Condemnation of Heresies.

What is it, then, that they say, that "subscription was extorted from simple bishops sitting in their places without any Synodal congregation"? Was subscription extorted against such heretics as these from the most blessed and excellent men in the faith, Cyprian and Ambrose, before such heretics as these were in existence?--seeing that they overthrow their impious dogmas with such clearness that we can scarcely find anything more manifest to say against them. Or, indeed, was there any need of the congregation of a Synod to condemn this open pest, as if no heresy could at any time be condemned except by a Synodal congregation?--when, on the contrary, very few heresies can be found for the sake of condemning which any such necessity has arisen; and those have been many and incomparably more which have deserved to be accused and condemned in the place where they arose, and thence could be known and avoided over the rest of the lands. But the pride of such as these, which lifts itself up so much against God as not to be willing to glory in Him but rather in free will, is understood as grasping also at this glory, that a Synod of the East and West should be gathered together on their account. In fact, they endeavour, forsooth, to disturb the catholic world, because, the Lord being against them, they are unable to pervert it; when rather they ought to have been trodden out wherever those wolves might have appeared, by watchfulness and pastoral diligence, after a competent and sufficient judgment made concerning them; whether with a view of their being healed and changed, or with a view of their being shunned by the safety and soundness of others, by the help of the Shepherd of the sheep, who seeks the lost sheep also among the little ones, who makes the sheep holy and righteous freely; who both providently instructs them, although sanctified and justified, yet in their frailty and infirmity to pray for a daily remission for their daily sins, without which no one lives in this world, even although he may live well; and mercifully listens to their prayers.
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