Writings of Augustine. A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.

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Augustin and the Pelagian Controversy.

A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace.

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

Extract from Augustin's "Retractations," Book II. Chap. 67,

On the Following Treatise, "de correptione et gratia."

I Wrote again to the same persons [3235] another treatise, which I entitled On Rebuke and Grace, because I had been told that some one there had said that no man ought to be rebuked for not doing God's commandments, but that prayer only should be made on his behalf, that he may do them. This book begins on this wise, "I have read your letters, dearly beloved brother Valentine."

Footnotes

[3235] Valentine, to wit, and the monks with him who inhabited the convent at Adrumetum. See above, at the beginning of the preceding treatise, On Grace and Free Will. .


A Treatise on Rebuke and Grace,

by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;

In One Book,

addressed to valentine, and with him to the monks of adrumetum.

a.d. 426 or 427

In the beginning the writer sets forth what is the Catholic faith concerning law, concerning free will, and concerning grace. He teaches that the grace of God by Jesus Christ is that by which alone men are delivered from evil, and without which they do absolutely no good; and this not only by the fact that it points out what is to be done, but that it also supplies the means of doing it with love, since God bestows on men the inspiration of a good will and deed. He teaches that the rebuke of evil men who have not received this grace is neither unjust--since they are evil by their own will--nor useless, although it must be confessed that it is only by God's agency that it can avail. That perseverance in good is truly a great gift of God, but that still the rebuke of one who has not persevered must not on that account be neglected; and that if a man who has not received this gift should relapse of his own will into sin, he is not only deserving of rebuke, but if he should continue in evil until his death, he is moreover worthy of eternal damnation. That it is inscrutable why one should receive this gift and another should not receive it. That of those who are predestinated none can perish. And that the perseverance, which all do not receive who are here called children of God, is constantly given to all those who are truly children by God's foreknowledge and predestination. He answers the question which suggests itself concerning Adam--in what way he sinned by not persevering, since he did not receive perseverance. He shows that such assistance was at the first given to him, as that without it he could not continue if he would, not as that with it it must result that he would. But that now through Christ is given us not only such help as that without it we cannot continue even if we will, but moreover such and so great as that by it we will. He proves that the number of the predestinated, to whom a gift of this kind is appropriated, is certain, and can neither be increased nor diminished. And since it is unknown who belongs to that number, and who does not, that medicinal rebuke must be applied to all who sin, lest they should either themselves perish, or be the ruin of others. Finally, he concludes that neither is rebuke prohibited by grace, nor is grace denied by rebuke.

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Chapter 1 [I.]--Introductory.

I Have read your letter--Valentine, my dearly beloved brother, and you who are associated with him in the service of God--which your Love sent by brother Florus and those who came to us with him; and I gave God thanks that I have known your peace in the Lord and agreement in the truth and ardour in love, by your discourse delivered to us. But that an enemy has striven among you to the subversion of some, has, by the mercy of God and His marvellous goodness in turning his arts to the advantage [3236] of His servants, rather availed to this result, that while none of you were cast down for the worse, some were built up for the better. There is therefore no need to reconsider again and again all that I have already transmitted to you, sufficiently argued out in a lengthy treatise; [3237] for your replies indicate how you have received this. Nevertheless, do not in any wise suppose that, when once read, it can have become sufficiently well known to you. Therefore if you desire to have it exceedingly productive, do not count it a grievance by re-perusal to make it thoroughly familiar; so that you may most accurately [3238] know what and what kind of questions they are, for the solution and satisfaction of which there arises an authority not human but divine, from which we ought not to depart if we desire to attain to the point whither we are tending.

Footnotes

[3236] Or according to some mss., "progress." [3237] Treatise on Grace and Free Will, see above. [3238] Or, "most clearly."


Chapter 2.--The Catholic Faith Concerning Law, Grace, and Free Will.

Now the Lord Himself not only shows us what evil we should shun, and what good we should do, which is all that the letter of the law is able to effect; but He moreover helps us that we may shun evil and do good, [3239] which none can do without the Spirit of grace; and if this be wanting, the law comes in merely to make us guilty and to slay us. It is on this account that the apostle says, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." [3240] He, then, who lawfully uses the law learns therein evil and good, and, not trusting in his own strength, flees to grace, by the help of which he may shun evil and do good. But who is there who flees to grace except when "the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and He shall determine his way"? [3241] And thus also to desire the help of grace is the beginning of grace; of which, says he, "And I said, Now I have begun; this is the change of the right hand of the Most High." [3242] It is to be confessed, therefore, that we have free choice to do both evil and good; but in doing evil every one is free from righteousness and a servant of sin, while in doing good no one can be free, unless he have been made free by Him who said, "If the Son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed." [3243] Neither is it thus, that when any one has been made free from the dominion of sin, he no longer needs the help of his Deliverer; but rather thus, that hearing from Him, "Without me ye can do nothing," [3244] he himself also says to Him, "Be thou my helper! Forsake me not." [3245] I rejoice that I have found in our brother Florus also this faith, which without doubt is the true and prophetical and apostolical and catholic faith; whence those are the rather to be corrected--whom indeed I now think to have been corrected by the favour of God--who did not understand him.

Footnotes

[3239] Ps. xxxvii. 27. [3240] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [3241] Ps. xxxvii. 23. [3242] Ps. lxxvi. 10. [3243] John viii. 36. [3244] John xv. 5. [3245] Ps. xxvii. 9.


Chapter 3 [II.]--What the Grace of God Through Jesus Christ is.

For the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord must be apprehended,--as that by which alone men are delivered from evil, and without which they do absolutely no good thing, whether in thought, or will and affection, or in action; not only in order that they may know, by the manifestation of that grace, what should be done, but moreover in order that, by its enabling, they may do with love what they know. Certainly the apostle asked for this inspiration of good will and work on behalf of those to whom he said, "Now we pray to God that ye do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is good." [3246] Who can hear this and not awake and confess that we have it from the Lord God that we turn aside from evil and do good?--since the apostle indeed says not, We admonish, we teach, we exhort, we rebuke; but he says, "We pray to God that ye do no evil, but that ye should do that which is good." [3247] And yet he was also in the habit of speaking to them, and doing all those things which I have mentioned,--he admonished, he taught, he exhorted, he rebuked. But he knew that all these things which he was doing in the way of planting and watering openly [3248] were of no avail unless He who giveth the increase in secret should give heed to his prayer on their behalf. Because, as the same teacher of the Gentiles says, "Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." [3249]

Footnotes

[3246] 2 Cor. xiii. 7. [3247] 2 Cor. xiii. 7. [3248] In aperto. [3249] 1 Cor. iii. 7.


Chapter 4--The Children of God are Led by the Spirit of God.

Let those, therefore, not deceive themselves who ask, "Wherefore is it preached and prescribed to us that we should turn away from evil and do good, if it is not we that do this, but `God who worketh in us to will and to do it'?" [3250] But let them rather understand that if they are the children of God, they are led by the Spirit of God [3251] to do that which should be done; and when they have done it, let them give thanks to Him by whom they act. For they are acted upon that they may act, not that they may themselves do nothing; and in addition to this, it is shown them what they ought to do, so that when they have done it as it ought to be done--that is, with the love and the delight of righteousness--they may rejoice in having received "the sweetness which the Lord has given, that their [3252] land should yield her increase." [3253] But when they do not act, whether by not doing at all or by not doing from love, let them pray that what as yet they have not, they may receive. For what shall they have which they shall not receive? or what have they which they have not received? [3254]

Footnotes

[3250] Phil. ii. 13. [3251] Rom. viii. 14. [3252] Some mss. have "his land." [3253] Ps. lxxxv. 12. [3254] 1 Cor. iv. 7.


Chapter 5 [III.]--Rebuke Must Not Be Neglected.

"Then," say they, "let those who are over us only prescribe to us what we ought to do, and pray for us that we may do it; but let them not rebuke and censure us if we should not do it." Certainly let all be done, since the teachers of the churches, the apostles, were in the habit of doing all,--as well prescribing what things should be done, as rebuking if they were not done, and praying that they might be done. The apostle prescribes, saying, "Let all your things be done with love." [3255] He rebukes, saying, "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye have judgments among yourselves. For why do ye not rather suffer wrong? Why are ye not rather defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong and defraud; and that, your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not possess the kingdom of God?" [3256] Let us hear him also praying: "And the Lord," says he, "multiply you, and make you to abound in love one towards another and towards all men." [3257] He prescribes, that love should be maintained; he rebukes, because love is not maintained; he prays, that love may abound. O man! learn by his precept what you ought to have; learn by his rebuke that it is by your own fault that you have it not; learn by his prayer whence you may receive what you desire to have.

Footnotes

[3255] 1 Cor. xvi. 14. [3256] 1 Cor. vi. 7 et seq. [3257] 1 Thess. iii. 12.


Chapter 6 [IV.]--Objections to the Use of Rebuke.

"How," says he, [3258] "is it my fault that I have not what I have not received from Him, when unless it is given by Him, there is no other at all whence such and so great a gift can be had?" Suffer me a little, my brethren, not as against you whose heart is right with God, but as against those who mind earthly things, or as against those human modes of thinking themselves, to contend for the truth, of the heavenly and divine grace. For they who say this are such as in their wicked works are unwilling to be rebuked by those who proclaim this grace. "Prescribe to me what I shall do, and if I should do it, give thanks to God for me who has given me to do it; but if I do it not, I must not be rebuked, but He must be besought to give what He has not given; that is, that very believing love of God and of my neighbour by which His precepts are [3259] observed. Pray, then, for me that I may receive this, and may by its means do freely and with good will that which He commands. But I should be justly rebuked if by my own fault I had it not; that is, if I myself could give it to myself, or could receive it, and did not do so, or if He should give it and I should be unwilling to receive it. But since even the will itself is prepared [3260] by the Lord, why dust thou rebuke me because thou seeest me unwilling to do His precepts, and dust not rather ask Him Himself to work in me the will also?"

Footnotes

[3258] i.e. the objecting Pelagian. [3259] So the mss.; the older editors read fiant, that is, "may be observed." [3260] Prov. xvi. 1.


Chapter 7 [V.]--The Necessity and Advantage of Rebuke.

To this we answer: Whoever you are that do not the commandments of God that are already known to you, and do not wish to be rebuked, you must be rebuked even for that very reason that you do not wish to be rebuked. For you do not wish that your faults should be pointed out to you; you do not wish that they should be touched, and that such a useful pain should be caused you that you may seek the Physician; you do not desire to be shown to yourself, that, when you see yourself to be deformed, you may wish for the Reformer, and may supplicate Him that you may not continue in that repulsiveness. For it is your fault that you are evil; and it is a greater fault to be unwilling to be rebuked because you are evil, as if faults should either be praised, or regarded with indifference so as neither to be praised nor blamed, or as if, indeed, the dread, or the shame, or the mortification of the rebuked man were of no avail, or were of any other avail in healthfully stimulating, except to cause that He who is good may be besought, and so out of evil men who are rebuked may make good men who may be praised. For what he who will not be rebuked desires to be done for him, when he says, "Pray for me rather,"--he must be rebuked for that very reason that he may himself also do for himself; because that mortification with which he is dissatisfied with himself when he feels the sting of rebuke, stirs him up to a desire for more earnest prayer, [3261] that, by God's mercy, he may be aided by the increase of love, and cease to do things which are shameful and mortifying, and do things praiseworthy and gladdening. This is the benefit of rebuke that is wholesomely applied, sometimes with greater, sometimes with less severity, in accordance with the diversity of sins; and it is then wholesome when the supreme Physician looks. For it is of no profit unless when it makes a man repent of his sin. And who gives this but He who looked upon the Apostle Peter when he denied, [3262] and made him weep? Whence also the Apostle Paul, after he said that they were to be rebuked with moderation who thought otherwise, immediately added, "Lest perchance God give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth, and they recover themselves out of the snares of the devil." [3263]

Footnotes

[3261] Or, "more earnest desire for prayer." [3262] Luke xxii. 61. [3263] 2 Tim. ii. 25.


Chapter 8.--Further Replies to Those Who Object to Rebuke.

But wherefore do they, who are unwilling be rebuked, say, "Only prescribe to me, and pray for me that I may do what you prescribe?" Why do they not rather, in accordance with their own evil inclination, reject these things also, and say, "I wish you neither to prescribe to me, nor to pray for me"? For what man is shown to have prayed for Peter, that God should give him the repentance wherewith he bewailed the denial of his Lord? What man instructed Paul in the divine precepts which pertain to the Christian faith? When, therefore, he was heard preaching the gospel, and saying, "For I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it from man, nor did I learn it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," [3264] --would it be replied to him: "Why are you troubling us to receive and to learn from you that which you have not received nor learnt from man? He who gave to you is able also to give to us in like manner as to you." Moreover, if they dare not say this, but suffer the gospel to be preached to them by man, although it cannot be given to man by man, let them concede also that they ought to be rebuked by those who are set over them, by whom Christian grace is preached; although it is not denied that God is able, even when no man rebukes, to correct whom He will, and to lead him on to the wholesome mortification of repentance by the most hidden and mighty power of His medicine. And as we are not to cease from prayer on behalf of those whom we desire to be corrected,--even although without any man's prayer on behalf of Peter, the Lord looked upon him and caused him to bewail his sin,--so we must not neglect rebuke, although God can make those whom He will to be corrected, even when not rebuked. But a man then profits by rebuke when He pities and aids who makes those whom He will to profit even without rebuke. But wherefore these are called to be reformed in one way, those in another way, and others in still another way, after different and innumerable manners, be it far from us to assert that it is the business of the clay to judge, but of the potter.

Footnotes

[3264] Gal. i. 11.


Chapter 9 [VI]--Why They May Justly Be Rebuked Who Do Not Obey God, Although They Have Not Yet Received the Grace of Obedience.

"The apostle says," say they, "`For who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now also if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?' [3265] Why, then, are we rebuked, censured, reproved, accused? What do we do, we who have not received?" They who say this wish to appear without blame in respect of their not obeying God, because assuredly obedience itself is His gift; and that gift must of necessity be in him in whom dwells love, which without doubt is of God, [3266] and the Father gives it to His children. "This," say they, "we have not received. Why, then, are we rebuked, as if we were able to give it to ourselves, and of our own choice would not give it?" And they do not observe that, if they are not yet regenerated, the first reason why, when they are reproached because they are disobedient to God, they ought to be dissatisfied with themselves is, that God made man upright from the beginning of the human creation, [3267] and there is no unrighteousness with God. [3268] And thus the first depravity, whereby God is not obeyed, is of man, because, falling by his own evil will from the rectitude in which God at first made him, he became depraved. Is, then, that depravity not to be rebuked in a man because it is not peculiar to him who is rebuked, but is common to all? Nay, let that also be rebuked in individuals, which is common to all. For the circumstance that none is altogether free from it is no reason why it should not attach to each man. Those original sins, indeed, are said to be the sins of others, because individuals derived them from their parents; but they are not unreasonably said to be our own also, because in that one, as the apostle says, all have sinned. [3269] Let, then, the damnable source be rebuked, that from the mortification of rebuke may spring the will of regeneration,--if, indeed, he who is rebuked is a child of promise,--in order that, by the noise of the rebuke sounding and lashing from without, God may by His hidden inspiration work in him from within to will also. If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, "I have not received," because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received. And if, stung with compunction by rebuke, he wholesomely bewails, and returns to similar good works, or even better, certainly here most manifestly appears the advantage of rebuke. But yet for rebuke by the agency of man to avail, whether it be of love or not, depends only upon God.

Footnotes

[3265] 2 Cor. iv. 7. [3266] 1 John iv. 7. [3267] Eccles. vii. 30. [3268] Rom. ix. 14. [3269] Rom. iii. 23.


Chapter 10--All Perseverance is God's Gift.

Is such an one as is unwilling to be rebuked still able to say, "What have I done,--I who have not received?" when it appears plainly that he has received, and by his own fault has lost that which he has received? "I am able," says he, "I am altogether able,--when you reprove me for having of my own will relapsed from a good life into a bad one,--still to say, What have I done,--I who have not received? For I have received faith, which worketh by love, but I have not received perseverance therein to the end. Will any one dare to say that this perseverance is not the gift of God, and that so great a possession as this is ours in such wise that if any one have it the apostle could not say to him, `For what hast thou which thou hast not received?' [3270] since he has this in such a manner as that he has not received it?" To this, indeed, we are not able to deny, that perseverance in good, progressing even to the end, is also a great gift of God; and that it exists not save it come from Him of whom it is written, "Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." [3271] But the rebuke of him who has not persevered must not on that account be neglected, "lest God perchance give unto him repentance, and he recover from the snares of the devil;" [3272] since to the usefulness of rebuke the apostle has subjoined this decision, saying, as I have above mentioned, "Rebuking with moderation those that think differently, lest at any time God give them repentance." [3273] For if we should say that such a perseverance, so laudable and so blessed, is man's in such wise as that he has it not from God, we first of all make void that which the Lord says to Peter: "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." [3274] For what did He ask for him, but perseverance to the end? And assuredly, if a man could have this from man, it should not have been asked from God. Then when the apostle says, "Now we pray to God that ye do no evil," [3275] beyond a doubt he prays to God on their behalf for perseverance. For certainly he does not "do no evil" who forsakes good, and, not persevering in good, turns to the evil, from which he ought to turn aside. [3276] In that place, moreover, where he says, "I thank my God in every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making quest with joy for your fellowship [3277] in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," [3278] --what else does he promise to them from the mercy of God than perseverance in good to the end? And again where he says, "Epaphras saluteth you, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, always striving for you in prayer, that you may stand perfect and fulfilled in all the will of God," [3279] --what is "that you may stand" but "that you may persevere"? Whence it was said of the devil, "He stood not in the truth;" [3280] because he was there, but he did not continue. For assuredly those were already standing in the faith. And when we pray that he who stands may stand, we do not pray for anything else than that he may persevere. Jude the apostle, again, when he says, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you without offence, and to establish you before the presence of His glory, immaculate in joy," [3281] does he not most manifestly show that perseverance in good unto the end is God's gift? For what but a good perseverance does He give who preserves without offence that He may place before the presence of His glory immaculate in joy? What is it, moreover, that we read in the Acts of the Apostles: "And when the Gentiles heard, they rejoiced and received the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed"? [3282] Who could be ordained to eternal life save by the gift of perseverance? And when we read, "He that shall persevere unto the end shall be saved;" [3283] with what salvation but eternal? And when, in the Lord's Prayer, we say to God the Father, "Hallowed be Thy name," [3284] what do we ask but that His name may be hallowed in us? And as this is already accomplished by means of the laver of regeneration, why is it daily asked by believers, except that we may persevere in that which is already done in us? For the blessed Cyprian also understands this in this manner, inasmuch as, in his exposition of the same prayer, he says: "We say, `Hallowed be Thy name,' not that we wish for God that He may be hallowed by our prayers, but that we ask of God that His name may be hallowed in us. But by whom is God hallowed; since He Himself hallows? Well, because He said, `Be ye holy, since I also am holy;' [3285] we ask and entreat that we who have been hallowed in baptism may persevere in that which we have begun to be." [3286] Behold the most glorious martyr is of this opinion, that what in these words Christ's faithful people are daily asking is, that they may persevere in that which they have begun to be. And no one need doubt, but that whosoever prays from the Lord that he may persevere in good, confesses thereby that such perseverance is His gift.

Footnotes

[3270] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [3271] Jas. i. 17. [3272] 2 Tim. ii. 25. [3273] 2 Tim. ii. 25. [3274] Luke xxii. 32. [3275] 2 Cor. xiii. 7. [3276] [The editors have without reason inserted a "not" before "ought" in this sentence, yielding the sense: "who forsakes good, even that from which he ought not to turn away;" Erasmus changes the place of "and," reading: "who forsakes good from which he ought not to turn aside, and is inclined to evil." The ms. text is entirely satisfactory.--W.] [3277] Many mss. read "communication." [3278] Phil. i. 3, et seq. [3279] Col. iv. 12. [3280] John viii. 24. [3281] Jude 24. [3282] Acts xiii. 48. [3283] Matt. x. 22. [3284] Matt. vi. 9. [3285] Nearly all mss.: "even as I am holy." [3286] Cyprian, Treatise on the Lord's Prayer, ch. 12; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 450.


Chapter 11 [VII.]--They Who Have Not Received the Gift of Perseverance, and Have Relapsed into Mortal Sin and Have Died Therein, Must Righteously Be Condemned.

If, then, these things be so, we still rebuke those, and reasonably rebuke them, who, although they were living well, have not persevered therein; because they have of their own will been changed from a good to an evil life, and on that account are worthy of rebuke; and if rebuke should be of no avail to them, and they should persevere in their ruined life until death, they are also worthy of divine condemnation for ever. Neither shall they excuse themselves, saying,--as now they say, "Wherefore are we rebuked?"--so then, "Wherefore are we condemned, since indeed, that we might return from good to evil, we did not receive that perseverance by which we should abide in good?" They shall by no means deliver themselves by this excuse from righteous condemnation. For if, according to the word of truth, no one is delivered from the condemnation which was incurred through Adam except through the faith of Jesus Christ, and yet from this condemnation they shall not deliver themselves who shall be able to say that they have not heard the gospel of Christ, on the ground that "faith cometh by hearing," [3287] how much less shall they deliver themselves who shall say, "We have not received perseverance!" For the excuse of those who say, "We have not received hearing," seems more equitable than that of those who say, "We have not received perseverance;" since it may be said, O man, in that which thou hadst heard and kept, in that thou mightest persevere if thou wouldest; but in no wise can it be said, That which thou hadst not heard thou mightest believe if thou wouldest.

Footnotes

[3287] Rom. x. 17.


Chapter 12.--They Who Have Not Received Perseverance are Not Distinguished from the Mass of Those that are Lost.

And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received perseverance, and those who, having heard the gospel, have refused to come to Christ, that is, to believe on Him, since He Himself says, "No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father," [3288] and those who by their tender age were unable to believe, but might be absolved from original sin by the sole laver of regeneration, and yet have not received this laver, and have perished in death: are not made to differ from that lump which it is plain is condemned, as all go from one into condemnation. Some are made to differ, however, not by their own merits, but by the grace of the Mediator; that is to say, they are justified freely in the blood of the second Adam. Therefore, when we hear, "For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" [3289] we ought to understand that from that mass of perdition which originated through the first Adam, no one can be made to differ except he who has this gift, which whosoever has, has received by the grace of the Saviour. And this apostolical testimony is so great, that the blessed Cyprian writing to Quirinus put it in the place of a title, when he says, "That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." [3290]

Footnotes

[3288] John vi. 65. [3289] 1 Cor iv. 7. [3290] Cyprian, Testimonies, Book iii. ch. 4; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. pp. 528 and 533.


Chapter 13.--Election is of Grace, Not of Merit.

Whosoever, then, are made to differ from that original condemnation by such bounty of divine grace, there is no doubt but that for such it is provided that they should hear the gospel, and when they hear they believe, and in the faith which worketh by love they persevere unto the end; and if, perchance, they deviate from the way, when they are rebuked they are amended and some of them, although they may not be rebuked by men, return into the path which they had left; and some who have received grace in any age whatever are withdrawn from the perils of this life by swiftness of death. For He worketh all these things in them who made them vessels of mercy, who also elected them in His Son before the foundation of the world by the election of grace: "And if by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace." [3291] For they were not so called as not to be elected, in respect of which it is said, "For many are called but few are elected;" [3292] but because they were called according to the purpose, they are of a certainty also elected by the election, as it is said, of grace, not of any precedent merits of theirs, because to them grace is all merit.

Footnotes

[3291] Rom. xi. 6. [3292] Matt. xx. 16.


Chapter 14.--None of the Elect and Predestinated Can Perish.

Of such says the apostle, "We know that to those that love God He worketh together all things for good, to them who are called according to His purpose; because those whom He before foreknew, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." [3293] Of these no one perishes, because all are elected. And they are elected because they were called according to the purpose--the purpose, however, not their own, but God's; of which He elsewhere says, "That the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her that the elder shall serve the younger." [3294] And in another place he says, "Not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace." [3295] When, therefore, we hear, "Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called," [3296] we ought to acknowledge that they were called according to His purpose; since He thence began, saying, "He worketh together all things for good to those who are called according to His purpose," and then added, "Because those whom He before foreknew, He also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren." And to these promises He added, "Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called." He wishes these, therefore, to be understood whom He called according to His purpose, lest any among them should be thought to be called and not elected, on account of that sentence of the Lord's: "Many the called but few are elected." [3297] For whoever are elected are without doubt also called; but not whosoever are called are as a consequence elected. Those, then, are elected, as has often been said, who are called according to the purpose, who also are predestinated and foreknown. If any one of these perishes, God is mistaken; but none of them perishes, because God is not mistaken. If any one of these perish, God is overcome by human sin; but none of them perishes, because God is overcome by nothing. Moreover, they are elected to reign with Christ, not as Judas was elected, to a work for which he was fitted. Because he was chosen by Him who well knew how to make use even of wicked men, so that even by his damnable deed that venerable work, for the sake of which He Himself had come, might be accomplished. When, therefore, we hear, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" [3298] we ought to understand that the rest were elected by mercy, but he by judgment; those to obtain His kingdom, he to shed His blood!

Footnotes

[3293] Rom. viii. 28 ff. [3294] Rom. ix. 11. [3295] 2 Tim. i. 9. [3296] Rom. viii. 29. [3297] Matt. xx. 16. [3298] John vi. 70.


Chapter 15.--Perseverance is Given to the End.

Rightly follows the word to the kingdom of the elect: "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not also with Him given us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? God who justifieth? Who condemneth? Christ who died? yea, rather who rose again also, who is at the right hand of God, who also soliciteth on our behalf?" [3299] And of how stedfast a perseverance even to the end they have received the gift, let them follow on to say: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, Because for thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. But in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him that hath loved us. For I am certain, that neither death, nor life, nor angel, nor principality, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [3300]

Footnotes

[3299] Rom. viii. 31 ff. [3300] Rom. viii. 35 ff.


Chapter 16.--Whosoever Do Not Persevere are Not Distinguished from the Mass of Perdition by Predestination.

Such as these were they who were signified to Timothy, where, when it had been said that Hymenæus and Philetus had subverted the faith of some, it is presently added, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord has known them that are His." [3301] The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously. For they are not made to differ from that mass of perdition by the foreknowledge and predestination of God, and therefore are not called according to God's purpose, and thus are not elected; but are called among those of whom it was said, "Many are called," not among those of whom it was said, "But few are elected." And yet who can deny that they are elect, since they believe and are baptized, and live according to God? Manifestly, they are called elect by those who are ignorant of what they shall be, but not by Him who knew that they would not have the perseverance which leads the elect forward into the blessed life, and knows that they so stand, as that He has foreknown that they will fall.

Footnotes

[3301] 2 Tim. ii. 19.


Chapter 17 [VIII.]--Why Perseverance Should Be Given to One and Not Another is Inscrutable.

Here, if I am asked why God should not have given them perseverance to whom He gave that love by which they might live Christianly, I answer that I do not know. For I do not speak arrogantly, but with acknowledgment of my small measure, when I hear the apostle saying, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" [3302] and, "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways untraceable!" [3303] So far, therefore, as He condescends to manifest His judgments to us, let us give thanks; but so far as He thinks fit to conceal them, let us not murmur against His counsel, but believe that this also is the most wholesome for us. But whoever you are that are hostile to His grace, and thus ask, what do you yourself say? it is well that you do not deny yourself to be a Christian and boast of being a catholic. If, therefore, you confess that to persevere to the end in good is God's gift, I think that equally with me you are ignorant why one man should receive this gift and another should not receive it; and in this case we are both unable to penetrate the unsearchable judgments of God. Or if you say that it pertains to man's free will--which you defend, not in accordance with God's grace, but in opposition to it--that any one should persevere in good, or should not persevere, and it is not by the gift of God if he persevere, but by the performance of human will, why will you strive against the words of Him who says, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not"? [3304] Will you dare to say that even when Christ prayed that Peter's faith might not fail, it would still have failed if Peter had willed it to fail; that is, if he had been unwilling that it should continue even to the end? As if Peter could in any measure will otherwise than Christ had asked for him that he might will. For who does not know that Peter's faith would then have perished if that will by which he was faithful should fail, and that it would have continued if that same will should abide? But because "the will is prepared by the Lord," [3305] therefore Christ's petition on his behalf could not be a vain petition. When, then, He prayed that his faith should not fail, what was it that he asked for, but that in his faith he should have a most free, strong, invincible, persevering will! Behold to what an extent the freedom of the will is defended in accordance with the grace of God, not in opposition to it; because the human will does not attain grace by freedom, but rather attains freedom by grace, and a delightful constancy, and an insuperable fortitude that it may persevere.

Footnotes

[3302] Rom. ix. 20. [3303] Rom. xi. 33. [3304] Luke xxii. 32. [3305] Prov. viii. 35.


Chapter 18.--Some Instances of God's Amazing Judgments.

It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children--whom He has regenerated in Christ--to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also, when to children of another He forgives such wickedness, and, by the bestowal of His grace, makes them His own children. Who would not wonder at this? Who would not be exceedingly astonished at this? But, moreover, it is not less marvellous, and still true, and so manifest that not even the enemies of God's grace can find any means of denying it, that some children of His friends, that is, of regenerated and good believers, departing this life as infants without baptism,--although He certainly might provide the grace of this laver if He willed, since in His power are all things,--He alienates from His kingdom into which He introduces their parents; and some children of His enemies He causes to come into the hands of Christians, and by means of this laver introduces into the kingdom, from which their parents are aliens; although, as well to the former infants there is no evil deserving, as to the latter there is no good, of their own proper will. Certainly, in this case the judgments of God, because they are righteous and deep, may neither be blamed nor penetrated. Among these also is that concerning perseverance, of which we are now discoursing. Of both, therefore, we may exclaim, "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments!" [3306]

Footnotes

[3306] Rom. xi. 33.


Chapter 19.--God's Ways Past Finding Out.

Nor let us wonder that we cannot trace His unsearchable ways. For, to say nothing of innumerable other things which are given by the Lord God to some men, and to others are not given, since with Him is no respect of persons; such things as are not conferred on the merits of will, as bodily swiftness, strength, good health, and beauty of body, marvellous intellects and mental natures capable of many arts, or such as fall to man's lot from without, such as are wealth, nobility, honours, and other things of this kind, which it is in the power of God alone that a man should have; not to dwell even on the baptism of infants (which none of those objectors can say does not pertain, as might be said of those other matters, to the kingdom of God), why it is given to this infant and not given to that, since both of them are equally in God's power, and without that sacrament none can enter into the kingdom of God;--to be silent, then, on these matters, or to leave them on one side, let men consider those very special cases of which we are treating. For we are discoursing of such as have not perseverance in goodness, but die in the decline of their good will from good to evil. Let the objectors answer, if they can, why, when these were living faithfully and piously, God did not then snatch them from the perils of this life, "lest wickedness should change their understanding, and lest deceit should beguile their souls"? [3307] Had He not this in His power, or was He ignorant of their future sinfulness? Assuredly, nothing of this kind is said, except most perversely and insanely. Why, then, did He not do this? Let them reply who mock at us when in such matters we exclaim, "How inscrutable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" [3308] For either God giveth this to whom He will, or certainly that Scripture is wrong which says concerning the immature death of the righteous man, "He was taken away lest wickedness should change his understanding, or lest deceit should beguile his soul." [3309] Why, then, does God give this so great benefit to some, and not give it to others, seeing that in Him is no unrighteousness [3310] nor acceptance of persons, [3311] and that it is in His power how long every one may remain in this life, which is called a trial upon earth? [3312] As, then, they are constrained to confess that it is God's gift for a man to end this life of his before it can be changed from good to evil, but they do not know why it is given to some and not given to others, so let them confess with us that perseverance in good is God's gift, according to the Scriptures, from which I have already set down many testimonies; and let them condescend with us to be ignorant, without a murmur against God, why it is given to some and not given to others.

Footnotes

[3307] Wisd. iv. 11. [3308] Rom. xi. 33. [3309] Wisd. iv. 11. [3310] Rom. ix. 14. [3311] Rom. ii. 11. [3312] Job vii. 1.


Chapter 20 [IX.]--Some are Children of God According to Grace Temporally Received, Some According to God's Eternal Foreknowledge.

Nor let it disturb us that to some of His children God does not give this perseverance. Be this far from being so, however, if these were of those who are predestinated and called according to His purpose,--who are truly the children of the promise. For the former, while they live piously, are called children of God; but because they will live wickedly, and die in that impiety, the foreknowledge of God does not call them God's children. For they are children of God whom as yet we have not, and God has already, of whom the Evangelist John says, "that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God which were scattered abroad;" [3313] and this certainly they were to become by believing, through the preaching of the gospel. And yet before this had happened they had already been enrolled as sons of God with unchangeable stedfastness in the memorial of their Father. And, again, there are some who are called by us children of God on account of grace received even in temporal things, yet are not so called by God; of whom the same John says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us, because if they had been of us they would, no doubt, have continued with us." [3314] He does not say, "They went out from us, but because they did not abide with us they are no longer now of us;" but he says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us,"--that is to say, even when they appeared among us, they were not of us. And as if it were said to him, Whence do you prove this? he says, "Because if they had been of us, they would assuredly have continued with us." [3315] It is the word of God's children; John is the speaker, who was ordained to a chief place among the children of God. When, therefore, God's children say of those who had not perseverance, "They went out from us, but they were not of us," and add, "Because if they had been of us, they would assuredly have continued with us," what else do they say than that they were not children, even when they were in the profession and name of children? Not because they simulated righteousness, but because they did not continue in it. For he does not say, "For if they had been of us, they would assuredly have maintained a real and not a feigned righteousness with us;" but he says, "If they had been of us, they would assuredly have continued with us." Beyond a doubt, he wished them to continue in goodness. Therefore they were in goodness; but because they did not abide in it,--that is, they did not persevere unto the end,--he says, They were not of us, even when they were with us,--that is, they were not of the number of children, even when they were in the faith of children; because they who are truly children are foreknown and predestinated as conformed to the image of His Son, and are called according to His purpose, so as to be elected. For the son of promise does not perish, but the son of perdition. [3316]

Footnotes

[3313] John xi. 51, 52. [3314] 1 John ii. 19. [3315] Rom. viii. 29. [3316] John xvii. 12.


Chapter 21.--Who May Be Understood as Given to Christ.

Those, then, were of the multitude of the called, but they were not of the fewness of the elected. It is not, therefore, to His predestinated children that God has not given perseverance for they would have it if they were in that number of children; and what would they have which they had not received, according to the apostolical and true judgment? [3317] And thus such children would be given to Christ the Son just as He Himself says to the Father, "That all that Thou hast given me may not perish, but have eternal life." [3318] Those, therefore, are understood to be given to Christ who are ordained to eternal life. These are they who are predestinated and called according to the purpose, of whom not one perishes. And therefore none of them ends this life when he has changed from good to evil, because he is so ordained, and for that purpose given to Christ, that he may not perish, but may have eternal life. And again, those whom we call His enemies, or the infant children of His enemies, whomever of them He will so regenerate that they may end this life in that faith which worketh by love, are already, and before this is done, in that predestination His children, and are given to Christ His Son, that they may not perish, but have everlasting life.

Footnotes

[3317] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [3318] Matt. xx. 16.


Chapter 22.--True Children of God are True Disciples of Christ.

Finally, the Saviour Himself says, "If ye continue in my word, ye are indeed my disciples." [3319] Is Judas, then, to be reckoned among them, since he did not continue in His word? Are they to be reckoned among them of whom the gospel speaks in such wise, where, when the Lord had commanded His flesh to be eaten and His blood to be drunk, the Evangelist says, "These things said He in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Many, therefore, of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were murmuring at it, said to them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the believing ones, and who should betray Him; and He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man cometh unto me except it were given of my Father. From this time many of His disciples went away back from Him, and no longer walked with Him." [3320] Are not these even in the words of the gospel called disciples? And yet they were not truly disciples, because they did not continue in His word, according to what He says: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye indeed my disciples." [3321] Because, therefore, they possessed not perseverance, as not being truly disciples of Christ, so they were not truly children of God even when they appeared to be so, and were so called. We, then, call men elected, and Christ's disciples, and God's children, because they are to be so called whom, being regenerated, we see to live piously; but they are then truly what they are called if they shall abide in that on account of which they are so called. But if they have not perseverance,--that is, if they continue not in that which they have begun to be,--they are not truly called what they are called and are not; for they are not this in the sight of Him to whom it is known what they are going to be,--that is to say, from good men, bad men.

Footnotes

[3319] John viii. 31. [3320] John vi. 59 ff. [3321] John viii. 31.


Chapter 23.--Those Who are Called According to the Purpose Alone are Predestinated.

For this reason the apostle, when he had said, "We know that to those who love God He worketh all things together for good,"--knowing that some love God, and do not continue in that good way unto the end,--immediately added, "to them who are the called according to His purpose." [3322] For these in their love for God continue even to the end; and they who for a season wander from the way return, that they may continue unto the end what they had begun to be in good. Showing, however, what it is to be called according to His purpose, he presently added what I have already quoted above, "Because whom He did before foreknow, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called," to wit, according to His purpose; "and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." [3323] All those things are already done: He foreknew, He predestinated, He called, He justified; because both all are already foreknown and predestinated, and many are already called and justified; but that which he placed at the end, "them He also glorified" (if, indeed, that glory is here to be understood of which the same apostle says, "When Christ your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" [3324] ), this is not yet accomplished. Although, also, those two things--that is, He called, and He justified--have not been effected in all of whom they are said,--for still, even until the end of the world, there remain many to be called and justified,--nevertheless, He used verbs of the past tense, even concerning things future, as if God had already arranged from eternity that they should come to pass. For this reason, also, the prophet Isaiah says concerning Him, "Who has made the things that shall be." [3325] Whosoever, therefore, in God's most providential ordering, are foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified,--I say not, even although not yet born again, but even although not yet born at all, are already children of God, and absolutely cannot perish. These truly come to Christ, because they come in such wise as He Himself says, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will not cast out;" [3326] and a little after He says, "This is the will of the Father who hath sent me, that of all that He hath given me I shall lose nothing." [3327] From Him, therefore, is given also perseverance in good even to the end; for it is not given save to those who shall not perish, since they who do not persevere shall perish.

Footnotes

[3322] Rom. viii. 28. [3323] Rom. viii. 29. [3324] Col. iii. 4. [3325] Isa. xlv. 11. [3326] John vi. 37. [3327] John vi. 39.


Chapter 24.--Even the Sins of the Elect are Turned by God to Their Advantage.

To such as love Him, God co-worketh with all things for good; so absolutely all things, that even if any of them go astray, and break out of the way, even this itself He makes to avail them for good, so that they return more lowly and more instructed. For they learn that in the right way [3328] itself they ought to rejoice with trembling; not with arrogation to themselves of confidence of abiding as if by their own strength; not with saying, in their abundance, "We shall not be moved for ever." [3329] For which reason it is said to them, "Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling, lest at any time the Lord should be angry, and ye perish from the right way." [3330] For He does not say, "And ye come not into the right way;" but He says, "Lest ye perish from the right way." And what does this show, but that those who are already walking in the right way are reminded to serve God in fear; that is, "not to be high-minded, but to fear"? [3331] which signifies, that they should not be haughty, but humble. Whence also He says in another place, "not minding high things, but consenting with the lowly;" [3332] let them rejoice in God, but with trembling; glorying in none, since nothing is ours, so that he who glorieth may glory in the Lord, lest they perish from the right way in which they have already begun to walk, while they are ascribing to themselves their very presence in it. These words also the apostle made use of when he says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." [3333] And setting forth why with fear and trembling, he says, "For it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure." [3334] For he had not this fear and trembling who said in his abundance, "I shall not be moved for ever." [3335] But because he was a child of the promise, not of perdition, he experienced in God's desertion for a little while what he himself was: "Lord," said he, "in Thy favour Thou gavest strength to my honour; Thou turnedst away Thy face from me, and I became troubled." [3336] Behold how much better instructed, and for this reason also more humble, he held on his way, at length seeing and confessing that by His will God had endowed his honour with strength; and this he had attributed to himself and presumed to be from himself, in such abundance as God had afforded it, and not from Him who had given it, and so had said, "I shall not be moved for ever!" Therefore he became troubled so that he found himself, and being lowly minded learnt not only of eternal life, but, moreover, of a pious conversation and perseverance in this life, as that in which hope should be maintained. This might moreover be the word of the Apostle Peter, because he also had said in his abundance, "I will lay down my life for Thy sake;" [3337] attributing to himself, in his eagerness, what was afterwards to be bestowed on him by his Lord. But the Lord turned away His face from him, and he became troubled, so that in his fear of dying for Him he thrice denied Him. But the Lord again turned His face to him, and washed away his sin with his tears. For what else is, "He turned and looked upon him," [3338] but, He restored to him the face which, for a little while, He had turned away from him? Therefore he had become troubled; but because he learned not to be confident concerning himself, even this was of excellent profit to him, by His agency who co-works for good with all things to those who love Him; because he had been called according to the purpose, so that no one could pluck him out of the hand of Christ, to whom he had been given.

Footnotes

[3328] Or, "life." [3329] Ps. xxx. 6. [3330] Ps. ii. 11. [3331] Rom. xi. 20. [3332] Rom. xii. 16. [3333] Phil. ii. 12, 13. [3334] Phil. ii. 13. [3335] Ps. xxx. 6. [3336] Ps. xxx. 7. [3337] John xiii. 37. [3338] Luke xxii. 61.


Chapter 25.--Therefore Rebuke is to Be Used.

Let no one therefore say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, but that his return and perseverance must only be asked for from the Lord for him. Let no considerate and believing man say this. For if such an one is called according to the purpose, beyond all doubt God is co-working for good to him even in the fact of his being rebuked. But since he who rebukes is ignorant whether he is so called, let him do with love what he knows ought to be done; for he knows that such an one ought to be rebuked. God will show either mercy or judgment; mercy, indeed, if he who is rebuked is "made to differ" by the bestowal of grace from the mass of perdition, and is not found among the vessels of wrath which are completed for destruction, but among the vessels of mercy which God has prepared for glory; [3339] but judgment, if among the former he is condemned, and is not predestinated among the latter.

Footnotes

[3339] Rom. ix. 22, 23.


Chapter 26 [X.]--Whether Adam Received the Gift of Perseverance.

Here arises another question, not reasonably to be slighted, but to be approached and solved in the help of the Lord in whose hand are both we and our discourses. [3340] For I am asked, in respect of this gift of God which is to persevere in good to the end, what I think of the first man himself, who assuredly was made upright without any fault. And I do not say: If he had not perseverance, how was he without fault, seeing that he was in want of so needful a gift of God? For to this interrogatory the answer is easy, that he had not perseverance, because he did not persevere in that goodness in which he was without sin; for he began to have sin from the point at which he fell; and if he began, certainly he was without sin before he had begun. For it is one thing not to have sin, and it is another not to abide in that goodness in which there is no sin. Because in that very fact, that he is not said never to have been without sin, but he is said not to have continued without sin, beyond all doubt it is demonstrated that he was without sin, seeing that he is blamed for not having continued in that goodness. But it should rather be asked and discussed with greater pains in what way we can answer those who say, "If in that uprightness in which he was made without sin he had perseverance, beyond all doubt he persevered in it; and if he persevered, he certainly did not sin, and did not forsake that his uprightness. But that he did sin, and was a forsaker of goodness, the Truth declares. Therefore he had not perseverance in that goodness; and if he had it not, he certainly received it not. For how should he have both received perseverance, and not have persevered? Further, if he had it not because he did not receive it, what sin did he commit by not persevering, if he did not receive perseverance? For it cannot be said that he did not receive it, for the reason that he was not separated by the bestowal of grace from the mass of perdition. Because that mass of perdition did not as yet exist in the human race before he had sinned from whom the corrupted source was derived."

Footnotes

[3340] Wisd. vii. 16.


Chapter 27.--The Answer.

Wherefore we most wholesomely confess what we most correctly believe, that the God and Lord of all things, who in His strength created all things good, and foreknew that evil things would arise out of good, and knew that it pertained to His most omnipotent goodness even to do good out of evil things rather than not to allow evil things to be at all, so ordained the life of angels and men that in it He might first of all show what their free will was capable of, and then what the kindness of His grace and the judgment of His righteousness was capable of. Finally, certain angels, of whom the chief is he who is called the devil, became by free will outcasts from the Lord God. Yet although they fled from His goodness, wherein they had been blessed, they could not flee from His judgment, by which they were made most wretched. Others, however, by the same free will stood fast in the truth, and merited the knowledge of that most certain truth that they should never fall. [3341] For if from the Holy Scriptures we have been able to attain the knowledge that none of the holy angels shall fall evermore, how much more have they themselves attained this knowledge by the truth more sublimely revealed to them! Because to us is promised a blessed life without end, and equality with the angels, [3342] from which promise we are certified that when after judgment we shall have come to that life, we shall not fall from it; but if the angels are ignorant of this truth concerning themselves, we shall not be their equals, but more blessed than they. But the Truth has promised us equality with them. It is certain, then, that they have known this by sight, which we have known by faith, to wit, that there shall be now no more any fall of any holy angel. But the devil and his angels, although they were blessed before they fell, and did not know that they should fall unto misery,--there was still something which might be added to their blessedness, if by free will they had stood in the truth, until they should receive that fulness of the highest blessing as the reward of that continuance; that is, that by the great abundance of the love of God, given by the Holy Spirit, they should absolutely not be able to fall any more, and that they should know this with complete certainty concerning themselves. They had not this plenitude of blessedness; but since they were ignorant of their future misery, they enjoyed a blessedness which was less, indeed, but still without any defect. For if they had known their future fall and eternal punishment, they certainly could not have been blessed; since the fear of so great an evil as this would compel them even then to be miserable.

Footnotes

[3341] "Eamque [scil. veritatem] de suo casu nunquam futuro certissimam scire." [3342] Matt. xxii. 30.


Chapter 28.--The First Man Himself Also Might Have Stood by His Free Will.

Thus also He made man with free will; and although ignorant of his future fall, yet therefore happy, because he thought it was in his own power both not to die and not to become miserable. And if he had willed by his own free will to continue in this state of uprightness and freedom from sin, assuredly without any experience of death and of unhappiness he would have received by the merit of that continuance the fulness of blessing with which the holy angels also are blessed; that is, the impossibility of falling any more, and the knowledge of this with absolute certainty. For even he himself could not be blessed although in Paradise, nay, he would not be there, where it would not become him to be miserable, if the foreknowledge of his fall had made him wretched with the dread of such a disaster. But because he forsook God of his free will, he experienced the just judgment of God, that with his whole race, which being as yet all placed in him had sinned with him, he should be condemned. For as mary of this race as are delivered by God's grace are certainly delivered from the condemnation in which they are already held bound. Whence, even if none should be delivered, no one could justly blame the judgment of God. That, therefore, in comparison of those that perish few, but in their absolute number many, are delivered, is effected by grace, [3343] is effected freely: [3344] thanks must be given, because it is effected, so that no one may be lifted up as of his own deservings, but that every mouth may be stopped, [3345] and he that glorieth may glory in the Lord. [3346]

Footnotes

[3343] Gratiâ--gratis. [3344] Gratiâ--gratis. [3345] Rom. iii. 19. [3346] Jer. ix. 24.


Chapter 29 [XI.]--Distinction Between the Grace Given Before and After the Fall.

What then? Did not Adam have the grace of God? Yes, truly, he had it largely, but of a different kind. He was placed in the midst of benefits which he had received from the goodness of his Creator; for he had not procured those benefits by his own deservings; in which benefits he suffered absolutely no evil. But saints in this life, to whom pertains this grace of deliverance, are in the midst of evils out of which they cry to God, "Deliver us from evil." [3347] He in those benefits needed not the death of Christ: these, the blood of that Lamb absolves from guilt, as well inherited as their own. He had no need of that assistance which they implore when they say, "I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and making me captive in the law of sin which is in my members. 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." [3348] Because in them the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and as they labour and are imperilled in such a contest, they ask that by the grace of Christ the strength to fight and to conquer may be given them. He, however, tempted and disturbed in no such conflict concerning himself against himself, in that position of blessedness enjoyed his peace with himself.

Footnotes

[3347] Matt. vi. 13. [3348] Rom. vii. 23.


Chapter 30.--The Incarnation of the Word.

Hence, although these do not now require a grace more joyous for the present, they nevertheless need a more powerful grace; and what grace is more powerful than the only-begotten Son of God, equal to the Father and co-eternal, made man for them, and, without any sin of His own, either original or actual, crucified by men who were sinners? And although He rose again on the third day, never to die any more, He yet bore death for men and gave life to the dead, so that redeemed by His blood, having received so great and such a pledge, they could say, "If God be for us, who is against us? He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also given to us all things?" [3349] God therefore took upon Him our nature--that is, the rational soul and flesh of the man Christ--by an undertaking singularly marvellous, or marvellously singular; so that with no preceding merits of His own righteousness He might in such wise be the Son of God from the beginning, in which He had begun to be man, that He, and the Word which is without beginning, might be one person. For there is no one blinded by such ignorance of this matter and the Faith as to dare to say that, although born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary the Son of man, yet of His own free will by righteous living and by doing good works, without sin, He deserved to be the Son of God; in opposition to the gospel, which says, "The Word was made flesh." [3350] For where was this made flesh except in the Virginal womb, whence was the beginning of the man Christ? And, moreover, when the Virgin asked how that should come to pass which was told her by the angel, the angel answered, "The Holy Ghost shall come over on to thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." [3351] "Therefore," he said; not because of works of which certainly of a yet unborn infant there are none; but "therefore," because "the Holy Ghost shall come over on to thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." That nativity, absolutely gratuitous, conjoined, in the unity of the person, man to God, flesh to the Word! Good works followed that nativity; good works did not merit it. For it was in no wise to be feared that the human nature taken up by God the Word in that ineffable manner into a unity of person, would sin by free choice of will, since that taking up itself was such that the nature of man so taken up by God would admit into itself no movement of an evil will. Through this Mediator God makes known that He makes those whom He redeemed by His blood from evil, everlastingly good; and Him He in such wise assumed that He never would be evil, and, not being made out of evil, would always be good. [3352]

Footnotes

[3349] Rom viii. 31, 32. [3350] John i. 14. [3351] Luke i. 35. [3352] Some editions have, instead of "and not being made," etc., "lest being made of evil he should not always be good."


Chapter 31.--The First Man Had Received the Grace Necessary for His Perseverance, But Its Exercise Was Left in His Free Choice.

The first man had not that grace by which he should never will to be evil; but assuredly he had that in which if he willed to abide he would never be evil, and without which, moreover, he could not by free will be good, but which, nevertheless, by free will he could forsake. God, therefore, did not will even him to be without His grace, which He left in his free will; because free will is sufficient for evil, but is too little [3353] for good, unless it is aided by Omnipotent Good. And if that man had not forsaken that assistance of his free will, he would always have been good; but he forsook it, and he was forsaken. Because such was the nature of the aid, that he could forsake it when he would, and that he could continue in it if he would; but not such that it could be brought about that he would. This first is the grace which was given to the first Adam; but more powerful than this is that in the second Adam. For the first is that whereby it is affected that a man may have righteousness if he will; the second, therefore, can do more than this, since by it it is even effected that he will, and will so much, and love with such ardour, that by the will of the Spirit he overcomes the will of the flesh, that lusteth in opposition to it. [3354] Nor was that, indeed, a small grace by which was demonstrated even the power of free will, because man was so assisted that without this assistance he could not continue in good, but could forsake this assistance if he would. But this latter grace is by so much the greater, that it is too little for a man by its means to regain his lost freedom; it is too little, finally, not to be able without it either to apprehend the good or to continue in good if he will, unless he is also made to will.

Footnotes

[3353] Some mss. read, "of no avail." [3354] There are other readings of this passage, but coming to the same substantial result.


Chapter 32.--The Gifts of Grace Conferred on Adam in Creation.

At that time, therefore, God had given to man a good will, [3355] because in that will He had made him, since He had made him upright. He had given help without which he could not continue therein if he would; but that he should will, He left in his free will. He could therefore continue if he would, because the help was not wanting whereby he could, and without which he could not, perseveringly hold fast the good which he would. But that he willed not to continue is absolutely the fault of him whose merit it would have been if he had willed to continue; as the holy angels did, who, while others fell by free will, themselves by the same free will stood, and deserved to receive the due reward of this continuance--to wit, such a fulness of blessing that by it they might have the fullest certainty of always abiding in it. If, however, this help had been wanting, either to angel or to man when they were first made, since their nature was not made such that without the divine help it could abide if it would, they certainly would not have fallen by their own fault, because the help would have been wanting without which they could not continue. At the present time, however, to those to whom such assistance is wanting, it is the penalty of sin; but to those to whom it is given, it is given of grace, not of debt; and by so much the more is given through Jesus Christ our Lord to those to whom it has pleased God to give it, that not only we have that help without which we cannot continue even if we will, but, moreover, we have so great and such a help as to will. Because by this grace of God there is caused in us, in the reception of good and in the persevering hold of it, not only to be able to do what we will, but even to will to do what we are able. But this was not the case in the first man; for the one of these things was in him, but the other was not. For he did not need grace to receive good, because he had not yet lost it; but he needed the aid of grace to continue in it, and without this aid he could not do this at all; and he had received the ability if he would, but he had not the will for what he could; for if he had possessed it, he would have persevered. For he could persevere if he would; but that he would not was the result of free will, which at that time was in such wise free that he was capable of willing well and ill. For what shall be more free than free will, when it shall not be able to serve sin? and this should be to man also as it was made to the holy angels, the reward of deserving. But now that good deserving has been lost by sin, in those who are delivered that has become the gift of grace which would have been the reward of deserving.

Footnotes

[3355] Some mss. read, "a free will."


Chapter 33 [XII.]--What is the Difference Between the Ability Not to Sin, to Die, and Forsake Good, and the Inability to Sin, to Die, and to Forsake Good?

On which account we must consider with diligence and attention in what respect those pairs differ from one another,--to be able not to sin, and not to be able to sin; to be able not to die, and not to be able to die; to be able not to forsake good, and not to be able to forsake good. For the first man was able not to sin, was able not to die, was able not to forsake good. Are we to say that he who had such a free will could not sin? Or that he to whom it was said, "If thou shalt sin thou shalt die by death," could not die? Or that he could not forsake good, when he would forsake this by sinning, and so die? Therefore the first liberty of the will was to be able not to sin, the last will be much greater, not to be able to sin; the first immortality was to be able not to die, the last will be much greater, not to be able to die; the first was the power of perseverance, to be able not to forsake good--the last will be the felicity of perseverance, not to be able to forsake good. But because the last blessings will be preferable and better, were those first ones, therefore, either no blessings at all, or trifling ones?


Chapter 34.--The Aid Without Which a Thing Does Not Come to Pass, and the Aid with Which a Thing Comes to Pass.

Moreover, the aids themselves are to be distinguished. The aid without which a thing does not come to pass is one thing, and the aid by which a thing comes to pass is another. For without food we cannot live; and yet although food should be at hand, it would not cause a man to live who should will to die. Therefore the aid of food is that without which it does not come to pass that we live, not that by which it comes to pass that we live. But, indeed, when the blessedness which a man has not is given him, he becomes at once blessed. For the aid is not only that without which that does not happen, but also with which that does happen for the sake of which it is given. Wherefore this is an assistance both by which it comes to pass, and without which it does not come to pass; because, on the one hand, if blessedness should be given to a man, he becomes at once blessed; and, on the other, if it should never be given he will never be so. But food does not of necessity cause a man to live, and yet without it he cannot live. Therefore to the first man, who, in that good in which he had been made upright, had received the ability not to sin, the ability not to die, the ability not to forsake that good itself, was given the aid of perseverance,--not that by which it should be brought about that he should persevere, but that without which he could not of free will persevere. But now to the saints predestinated to the kingdom of God by God's grace, the aid of perseverance that is given is not such as the former, but such that to them perseverance itself is bestowed; not only so that without that gift they cannot persevere, but, moreover, so that by means of this gift they cannot help persevering. For not only did He say, "Without me ye can do nothing," [3356] but He also said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." [3357] By which words He showed that He had given them not only righteousness, but perseverance therein. For when Christ thus ordained them that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain, who would dare to say, It shall not remain? Who would dare to say, Perchance it will not remain? "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;" [3358] but the calling is of those who are called according to the purpose. When Christ intercedes, therefore, on behalf of these, that their faith should not fail, doubtless it will not fail unto the end. And thus it shall persevere even unto the end; nor shall the end of this life find it anything but continuing.

Footnotes

[3356] John xv. 5. [3357] John xv. 16. [3358] Rom. xi. 29.


Chapter 35.--There is a Greater Freedom Now in the Saints Than There Was Before in Adam.

Certainly a greater liberty is necessary in the face of so many and so great temptations, which had no existence in Paradise,--a liberty fortified and confirmed by the gift of perseverance, so that this world, with all its loves, its fears, its errors, may be overcome: the martyrdoms of the saints have taught this. In fine, he [Adam], not only with nobody to make him afraid, but, moreover, in spite of the authority of God's fear, using free will, did not stand in such a state of happiness, in such a facility [3359] of [not] sinning. But these [the saints], I say, not under the fear of the world, but in spite of the rage of the world lest they should stand, stood firm in the faith; while he could see the good things present which he was going to forsake, they could not see the good things future which they were going to receive. Whence is this, save by the gift of Him from whom they obtained mercy to be faithful; from whom they received the spirit, not of fear, whereby they would yield to the persecutors, but of power, and of love, and of continence, in which they could overcome all threatenings, all seductions, all torments? To him, therefore, without any sin, was given the free will with which he was created; and he made it to serve sin. But although the will of these had been the servant of sin, it was delivered by Him who said, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed." [3360] And by that grace they receive so great a freedom, that although as long as they live here they are fighting against sinful lusts, and some sins creep upon them unawares, on account of which they daily say, "Forgive us our debts," [3361] yet they do not any more obey the sin which is unto death, of which the Apostle John says, "There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." [3362] Concerning which sin (since it is not expressed) many and different notions may be entertained. I, however, say, that sin is to forsake even unto death the faith which worketh by love. This sin they no longer serve who are not in the first condition, as Adam, free; but are freed by the grace of God through the second Adam, and by that deliverance have that free will which enables them to serve God, not that by which they may be made captive by the devil. From being made free from sin they have become the servants of righteousness, [3363] in which they will stand till the end, by the gift to them of perseverance from Him who foreknew them, and predestinated them, and called them according to His purpose, and justified them, and glorified them, since He has even already formed those things that are to come which He promised concerning them. And when He promised, "Abraham believed Him, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." [3364] For "he gave glory to God, most fully believing," as it is written, "that what He has promised He is able also to perform." [3365]

Footnotes

[3359] The original is in tanti peccandi facilitate. Of course, non must be inserted, but the translator ventures to conjecture facultate instead of facilitate. [3360] John viii. 36. [3361] Matt. vi. 12. [3362] 1 John v. 16. [3363] Rom. vi. 18. [3364] Rom. iv. 3, and 20, 21. [3365] Rom. iv. 3, and 20, 21.


Chapter 36.--God Not Only Foreknows that Men Will Be Good, But Himself Makes Them So.

It is He Himself, therefore, that makes those men good, to do good works. For He did not promise them to Abraham because He foreknew that of themselves they would be good. For if this were the case, what He promised was not His, but theirs. But it was not thus that Abraham believed, but "he was not weak in faith, giving glory to God;" and "most fully believing that what He has promised He is able also to perform." [3366] He does not say, "What He foreknew, He is able to promise;" nor "What He foretold, He is able to manifest;" nor "What He promised, He is able to foreknow:" but "What He promised, He is able also to do." It is He, therefore, who makes them to persevere in good, who makes them good. But they who fall and perish have never been in the number of the predestinated. Although, then, the apostle might be speaking of all persons regenerated and living piously when he said, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth;" yet he at once had regard to the predestinated, and said, "But he shall stand;" and that they might not arrogate this to themselves, he says, "For God is able to make him stand." [3367] It is He Himself, therefore, that gives perseverance, who is able to establish those who stand, so that they may stand fast with the greatest perseverance; or to restore those who have fallen, for "the Lord setteth up those who are broken down." [3368]

Footnotes

[3366] Rom. iv. 19. [3367] Rom. xiv. 4, etc. [3368] Ps. cxlv. 8.


Chapter 37.--To a Sound Will is Committed the Power of Persevering or of Not Persevering.

As, therefore, the first man did not receive this gift of God,--that is, perseverance in good, but it was left in his choice to persevere or not to persevere, his will had such strength,--inasmuch as it had been created without any sin, and there was nothing in the way of concupiscence of himself that withstood it,--that the choice of persevering could worthily be entrusted to such goodness and to such facility in living well. But God at the same time foreknew what he would do in unrighteousness; foreknew, however, but did not compel him to this; but at the same time He knew what He Himself would do in righteousness concerning him. But now, since that great freedom has been lost by the desert of sin, our weakness has remained to be aided by still greater gifts. For it pleased God, in order most effectually to quench the pride of human presumption, "that no flesh should glory in His presence"--that is, "no man." [3369] But whence should flesh not glory in His presence, save concerning its merits? Which, indeed, it might have had, but lost; and lost by that very means whereby it might have had them, that is, by its free will; on account of which there remains nothing to those who are to be delivered, save the grace of the Deliverer. Thus, therefore, no flesh glories in His presence. For the unrighteous do not glory, since they have no ground of glory; nor the righteous, because they have a ground from Him, and have no glory of theirs, but Himself, to whom they say, "My glory, and the lifter up of my head." [3370] And thus it is that what is written pertains to every man, "that no flesh should glory in His presence." To the righteous, however, pertains that Scripture: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [3371] For this the apostle most manifestly showed, when, after saying "that no flesh should glory in His presence," lest the saints should suppose that they had been left without any glory, he presently added, "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [3372] Hence it is that in this abode of miseries, where trial is the life of man upon the earth, "strength is made perfect in weakness." [3373] What strength, save "that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord"?

Footnotes

[3369] 1 Cor. i. 29. [3370] Ps. iii. 3. [3371] 1 Cor. i. 31. [3372] 1 Cor. i. 30. [3373] 2 Cor. xii. 9.


Chapter 38.--What is the Nature of the Gift of Perseverance that is Now Given to the Saints.

And thus God willed that His saints should not--even concerning perseverance in goodness itself--glory in their own strength, but in Himself, who not only gives them aid such as He gave to the first man, without which they cannot persevere if they will, but causes in them also the will; that since they will not persevere unless they both can and will, both the capability and the will to persevere should be bestowed on them by the liberality of divine grace. Because by the Holy Spirit their will is so much enkindled that they therefore can, because they so will; and they therefore so will because God works in them to will. For if in so much weakness of this life (in which weakness, however, for the sake of checking pride, strength behoved to be perfected) their own will should be left to themselves, that they might, if they willed, continue in the help of God, without which they could not persevere, and God should not work in them to will, in the midst of so many and so great weaknesses their will itself would give way, and they would not be able to persevere, for the reason that failing from infirmity they would not will, or in the weakness of will they would not so will that they would be able. Therefore aid is brought to the infirmity of human will, so that it might be unchangeably and invincibly [3374] influenced by divine grace; and thus, although weak, it still might not fail, nor be overcome by any adversity. Thus it happens that man's will, weak and incapable, in good as yet small, may persevere by God's strength; while the will of the first man, strong and healthful, having the power of free choice, did not persevere in a greater good; because although God's help was not wanting, without which it could not persevere if it would, yet it was not such a help as that by which God would work in man to will. Certainly to the strongest He yielded and permitted to do what He willed; to those that were weak He has reserved that by His own gift they should most invincibly will what is good, and most invincibly refuse to forsake this. Therefore when Christ says, "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not," [3375] we may understand that it was said to him who is built upon the rock. And thus the man of God, not only because he has obtained mercy to be faithful, but also because faith itself does not fail, if he glories, must glory in the Lord.

Footnotes

[3374] "Insuperabiliter," the reading of the best mss. Some editions read "inseparabiliter," in a dogmatic interest. [3375] Luke xxii. 32.


Chapter 39 [XIII.]--The Number of the Predestinated is Certain and Defined.

I speak thus of those who are predestinated to the kingdom of God, whose number is so certain that one can neither be added to them nor taken from them; not of those who, when He had announced and spoken, were multiplied beyond number. For they may be said to be called but not chosen, because they are not called according to the purpose. But that the number of the elect is certain, and neither to be increased nor diminished,--although it is signified by John the Baptist when he says, "Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham," [3376] to show that they were in such wise to be cut off if they did not produce fruit, that the number which was promised to Abraham would not be wanting,--is yet more plainly declared in the Apocalypse: "Hold fast that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown." [3377] For if another would not receive unless one should have lost, the number is fixed.

Footnotes

[3376] Matt. iii. 8, 9. [3377] Rev. iii. 11.


Chapter 40.--No One is Certain and Secure of His Own Predestination and Salvation.

But, moreover, that such things as these are so spoken to saints who will persevere, as if it were reckoned uncertain whether they will persevere, is a reason that they ought not otherwise to hear these things, since it is well for them "not to be high-minded, but to fear." [3378] For who of the multitude of believers can presume, so long as he is living in this mortal state, that he is in the number of the predestinated? Because it is necessary that in this condition that should be kept hidden; since here we have to beware so much of pride, that even so great an apostle was buffetted by a messenger of Satan, lest he should be lifted up. [3379] Hence it was said to the apostles, "If ye abide in me;" [3380] and this He said who knew for a certainty that they would abide; and through the prophet, "If ye shall be willing, and will hear me," [3381] although He knew in whom He would work to will also. And many similar things are said. For on account of the usefulness of this secrecy, lest, perchance, any one should be lifted up, but that all, even although they are running well, should fear, in that it is not known who may attain,--on account of the usefulness of this secrecy, it must be believed that some of the children of perdition, who have not received the gift of perseverance to the end, begin to live in the faith which worketh by love, and live for some time faithfully and righteously, and afterwards fall away, and are not taken away from this life before this happens to them. If this had happened to none of these, men would have that very wholesome fear, by which the sin of presumption is kept down, only so long as until they should attain to the grace of Christ by which to live piously, and afterwards would for time to come be secure that they would never fall away from Him. And such presumption in this condition of trials is not fitting, where there is so great weakness, that security may engender pride. Finally, this also shall be the case; but it shall be at that time, in men also as it already is in the angels, when there cannot be any pride. Therefore the number of the saints, by God's grace predestinated to God's kingdom, with the gift of perseverance to the end bestowed on them, shall be guided thither in its completeness, and there shall be at length without end preserved in its fullest completeness, most blessed, the mercy of their Saviour still cleaving to them, whether in their conversion, in their conflict, or in their crown!

Footnotes

[3378] Rom. xi. 20. [3379] 2 Cor. xii. 7. [3380] John xv. 7. [3381] Isa. i. 19.


Chapter 41.--Even in Judgment God's Mercy Will Be Necessary to Us.

For the Holy Scripture testifies that God's mercy is then also necessary for them, when the Saint says to his soul concerning the Lord its God, "Who crowneth thee in mercy and compassion." [3382] The Apostle James also says: "He shall have judgment without mercy who hath showed no mercy;" [3383] where he sets forth that even in that judgment in which the righteous are crowned and the unrighteous are condemned, some will be judged with mercy, others without mercy. On which account also the mother of the Maccabees says to her son, "That in that mercy I may receive thee with thy brethren." [3384] "For when a righteous king," as it is written, "shall sit on the throne, no evil thing shall oppose itself to him. Who will boast that he has a pure heart? or who will boast that he is pure from sin?" [3385] And thus God's mercy is even then necessary, by which he is made "blessed to whom the Lord has not imputed sin." [3386] But at that time even mercy itself shall be allotted in righteous judgment in accordance with the merits of good works. For when it is said, "Judgment without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy," it is plainly shown that in those in whom are found the good works of mercy, judgment shall be executed with mercy; and thus even that mercy itself shall be returned to the merits of good works. It is not so now; when not only no good works, but many bad works precede, His mercy anticipates a man so that he is delivered from evils,--as well from evils which he has done, as from those which he would have done if he were not controlled by the grace of God; and from those, too, which he would have suffered for ever if he were not plucked from the power of darkness, and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of God's love. [3387] Nevertheless, since even that life eternal itself, which, it is certain, is given as due to good works, is called by so great an apostle the grace of God, although grace is not rendered to works, but is given freely, it must be confessed without any doubt, that eternal life is called grace for the reason that it is rendered to those merits which grace has conferred upon man. Because that saying is rightly understood which in the gospel is read, "grace for grace," [3388] --that is, for those merits which grace has conferred.

Footnotes

[3382] Ps. ciii. 4. [3383] Jas. ii. 13. [3384] 2 Macc. vii. 29. [3385] Prov. xx. 8. [3386] Ps. xxxii. 2. [3387] Col. i. 13. [3388] John i. 16.


Chapter 42.--The Reprobate are to Be Punished for Merits of a Different Kind.

But those who do not belong to this number of the predestinated, whom--whether that they have not yet any free choice of their will, or with a choice of will truly free, because freed by grace itself--the grace of God brings to His kingdom,--those, then, who do not belong to that most certain and blessed number, are most righteously judged according to their deservings. For either they lie under the sin which they have inherited by original generation, and depart hence with that inherited debt which is not put away by regeneration, or by their free will have added other sins besides; their will, I say, free, but not freed,--free from righteousness, but enslaved to sin, by which they are tossed about by divers mischievous lusts, some more evil, some less, but all evil; and they must be adjudged to diverse punishments, according to that very diversity. Or they receive the grace of God, but they are only for a season, and do not persevere; they forsake and are forsaken. For by their free will, as they have not received the gift of perseverance, they are sent away by the righteous and hidden judgment of God.


Chapter 43 [XIV.]--Rebuke and Grace Do Not Set Aside One Another.

Let men then suffer themselves to be rebuked when they sin, and not conclude against grace from the rebuke itself, nor from grace against rebuke; because both the righteous penalty of sin is due, and righteous rebuke belongs to it, if it is medicinally applied, even although the salvation of the ailing man is uncertain; so that if he who is rebuked belongs to the number of the predestinated, rebuke may be to him a wholesome medicine; and if he does not belong to that number, rebuke may be to him a penal infliction. Under that very uncertainty, therefore, it must of love be applied, although its result is unknown; and prayer must be made on his behalf to whom it is applied, that he may be healed. But when men either come or return into the way of righteousness by means of rebuke, who is it that worketh salvation in their hearts but that God who giveth the increase, whoever plants and waters, and whoever labours on the fields or shrubs,--that God whom no man's will resists when He wills to give salvation? For so to will or not to will is in the power of Him who willeth or willeth not, as not to hinder the divine will nor overcome the divine power. For even concerning those who do what He wills not, He Himself does what He will.


Chapter 44.--In What Way God Wills All Men to Be Saved.

And what is written, that "He wills all men to be saved," [3389] while yet all men are not saved, may be understood in many ways, some of which I have mentioned in other writings [3390] of mine; but here I will say one thing: "He wills all men to be saved," is so said that all the predestinated may be understood by it, because every kind of men is among them. Just as it was said to the Pharisees, "Ye tithe every herb;" [3391] where the expression is only to be understood of every herb that they had, for they did not tithe every herb which was found throughout the whole earth. According to the same manner of speaking, it was said, "Even as I also please all men in all things." [3392] For did he who said this please also the multitude of his persecutors? But he pleased every kind of men that assembled in the Church of Christ, whether they were already established therein, or were to be introduced into it.

Footnotes

[3389] 1 Tim. ii. 4. [3390] Enchirid, c. 103; City of God, xxii. 1, 2. Against Julian, iv. 8. [3391] Luke xi. 42. [3392] 1 Cor. x. 33.


Chapter 45.--Scriptural Instances Wherein It is Proved that God Has Men's Wills More in His Power Than They Themselves Have.

It is not, then, to be doubted that men's wills cannot, so as to prevent His doing what he wills, withstand the will of God, "who hath done all things whatsoever He pleased in heaven and in earth," [3393] and who also "has done those things that are to come;" [3394] since He does even concerning the wills themselves of men what He will, when He will. Unless, perchance (to mention some things among many), when God willed to give the kingdom to Saul, it was so in the power of the Israelites, as it certainly was placed in their will, either to subject themselves or not to the man in question, that they could even prevail to withstand God. God, however, did not do this, save by the will of the men themselves, because he beyond doubt had the most omnipotent power of inclining men's hearts whither it pleased Him. For thus it is written: "And Samuel sent the people away, and every one went away unto his own place. And Saul went away to his house in Gibeah: and there went away with Saul mighty men, whose hearts the Lord touched. And pestilent children said, Who shall save us? This man? And they despised him, and brought him no presents." [3395] Will any one say that any of those whose hearts the Lord touched to go with Saul would not have gone with him, or that any of those pestilent fellows, whose hearts He did not touch to do this, would have gone? Of David also, whom the Lord ordained to the kingdom in a more prosperous succession, we read thus: "And David continued to increase, and was magnified, and the Lord was with him." [3396] This having been premised, it is said a little afterwards, "And the Spirit clothed Amasai, chief of the thirty, and he said, We are thine, O David, and we will be with thee, O son of Jesse: Peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thy helpers; because the Lord has helped thee." [3397] Could he withstand the will of God, and not rather do the will of Him who wrought in his heart by His Spirit, with which he was clothed, to will, speak, and do thus? Moreover, a little afterwards the same Scripture says, "All these warlike men, setting the battle in array, came with a peaceful heart to Hebron to establish David over all Israel." [3398] By their own will, certainly, they appointed David king. Who cannot see this? Who can deny it? For they did not do it under constraint or without good-will, since they did it with a peaceful heart. And yet He wrought this in them who worketh what He will in the hearts of men. For which reason the Scripture premised, "And David continued to increase, and was magnified, and the Lord Omnipotent was with him." And thus the Lord Omnipotent, who was with him, induced these men to appoint him king. And how did He induce them? Did He constrain thereto by any bodily fetters? He wrought within; He held their hearts; He stirred their hearts, and drew them by their own wills, which He Himself wrought in them. If, then, when God wills to set up kings in the earth, He has the wills of men more in His power than they themselves have, who else causes rebuke to be wholesome and correction to result in the heart of him that is rebuked, that he may be established in the kingdom of heaven?

Footnotes

[3393] Ps. cxxxv. 6. [3394] Isa. xlv. 11. [3395] 1 Sam. x. 25 ff. [3396] 1 Chron. xi. 9. [3397] 1 Chron. xii. 18. [3398] 1 Chron. xii. 38.


Chapter 46 [XV.]--Rebuke Must Be Varied According to the Variety of Faults. There is No Punishment in the Church Greater Than Excommunication.

Therefore, let brethren who are subject be rebuked by those who are set over them, with rebukes that spring from love, varied according to the diversity of faults, whether smaller or greater. Because that very penalty that is called condemnation, [3399] which episcopal judgment inflicts, than which there is no greater punishment in the Church, may, if God will, result and be of advantage for most wholesome rebuke. For we know not what may happen on the coming day; nor must any one be despaired of before the end of this life; nor can God be contradicted, that He may not look down and give repentance, and receive the sacrifice of a troubled spirit and a contrite heart, and absolve from the guilt of condemnation, however just, and so Himself not condemn the condemned person. Yet the necessity of the pastoral office requires, in order that the terrible contagion may not creep through the many, that the diseased sheep should be separated from the sound ones; perchance, by that very separation, to be healed by Him to whom nothing is impossible. For as we know not who belongs to the number of the predestinated, we ought in such wise to be influenced by the affection of love as to will all men to be saved. For this is the case when we endeavour to lead every individual to that point where they may meet with those agencies by which we may prevail, to the accomplishment of the result, that being justified by faith they may have peace with God, [3400] --which peace, moreover, the apostle announced when he said, "Therefore, we discharge an embassage for Christ, as though God were exhorting by us, we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." [3401] For what is "to be reconciled" to Him but to have peace with Him? For the sake of which peace, moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to His disciples, "Into whatsoever house ye enter first, say, Peace be to this house; and if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; but if not, it shall return to you again." [3402] When they preach the gospel of this peace of whom it is predicted, "How beautiful are the feet of those that publish peace, that announce good things!" [3403] to us, indeed, every one then begins to be a son of peace who obeys and believes this gospel, and who, being justified by faith, has begun to have peace towards God; but, according to God's predestination, he was already a son of peace. For it was not said, Upon whomsoever your peace shall rest, he shall become a son of peace; but Christ says, "If the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon that house." Already, therefore, and before the announcement of that peace to him, the son of peace was there, as he had been known and foreknown, by--not the evangelist, but--God. For we need not fear lest we should lose it, if in our ignorance he to whom we preach is not a son of peace, for it will return to us again--that is, that preaching will profit us, and not him; but if the peace proclaimed shall rest upon him, it will profit both us and him.

Footnotes

[3399] Query, Excommunication? [3400] Rom. v. 1. [3401] 2 Cor. v. 20. [3402] Luke x. 5, 6. [3403] Isa. lii. 7.


Chapter 47.--Another Interpretation of the Apostolic Passage, "Who Will Have All Men to Be Saved."

That, therefore, in our ignorance of who shall be saved, God commands us to will that all to whom we preach this peace may be saved, and Himself works this in us by diffusing that love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us,--may also thus be understood, that God wills all men to be saved, because He makes us to will this; just as "He sent the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father;" [3404] that is, making us to cry, Abba, Father. Because, concerning that same Spirit, He says in another place, "We have received the Spirit of adoption, in whom we cry, Abba, Father!" [3405] We therefore cry, but He is said to cry who makes us to cry. If, then, Scripture rightly said that the Spirit was crying by whom we are made to cry, it rightly also says that God wills, when by Him we are made to will. And thus, because by rebuke we ought to do nothing save to avoid departure from that peace which is towards God, or to induce return to it of him who had departed, let us do in hope what we do. If he whom we rebuke is a son of peace, our peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to us again.

Footnotes

[3404] Gal. iv. 6. [3405] Rom. viii. 15.


Chapter 48.--The Purpose of Rebuke.

Although, therefore, even while the faith of some is subverted, the foundation of God standeth sure, since the Lord knoweth them that are His, still, we ought not on that account to be indolent and negligent in rebuking those who should be rebuked. For not for nothing was it said, "Evil communications corrupt good manners;" [3406] and, "The weak brother shall perish in thy knowledge, on account of whom Christ died." [3407] Let us not, in opposition to these precepts, and to a wholesome fear, pretend to argue, saying, "Well, let evil communications corrupt good manners, and let the weak brother perish. What is that to us? The foundation of God standeth sure, and no one perishes but the son of perdition." [XVI.] Be it far from us to babble in this wise, and think that we ought to be secure in this negligence. For it is true that no one perishes except the son of perdition, but God says by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel: [3408] "He shall surely die in his sin, but his blood will I require at the hand of the watchman."

Footnotes

[3406] 1 Cor. xv. 33. [3407] 1 Cor. viii. 11. [3408] Ezek. iii. 18.


Chapter 49.--Conclusion.

Hence, as far as concerns us, who are not able to distinguish those who are predestinated from those who are not, we ought on this very account to will all men to be saved. Severe rebuke should be medicinally applied to all by us that they perish not themselves, or that they may not be the means of destroying others. It belongs to God, however, to make that rebuke useful to them whom He Himself has foreknown and predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. For, if at any time we abstain from rebuking, for fear lest by rebuke a man should perish, why do we not also rebuke, for fear lest a man should rather perish by our withholding it? For we have no greater bowels of love than the blessed apostle who says, "Rebuke those that are unruly; comfort the feeble-minded; support the weak; be patient towards all men. See that none render to any man evil for evil." [3409] Where it is to be understood that evil is then rather rendered for evil when one who ought to be rebuked is not rebuked, but by a wicked dissimulation is neglected. He says, moreover, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear;" [3410] which must be received concerning those sins which are not concealed, lest he be thought to have spoken in opposition to the word of the Lord. For He says, "If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him." [3411] Notwithstanding, He Himself carries out the severity of rebuke to the extent of saying, "If he will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." [3412] And who has more loved the weak than He who became weak for us all, and of that very weakness was crucified for us all? And since these things are so, grace neither restrains rebuke, nor does rebuke restrain grace; and on this account righteousness is so to be prescribed that we may ask in faithful prayer, that, by God's grace, what is prescribed may be done; and both of these things are in such wise to be done that righteous rebuke may not be neglected. But let all these things be done with love, since love both does not sin, and does cover the multitude of sins.

Footnotes

[3409] 1 Thess. v. 14. [3410] 1 Tim. v. 20. [3411] Matt. xviii. 15. [3412] Matt. xviii. 17. .


A Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints.

by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;

The First Book, [3413]

addressed to Prosper and Hilary. [2][3415]

a.d. 428 or 429

Wherein the truth of predestination and grace is defended against the semi-Pelagians,--those people to wit, who by no means withdraw altogether from the Pelagian heresy, in that they contend that the beginning of salvation and of faith is of ourselves; so that in virtue, as it were, of this precedent merit, the other good gifts of God are attained. Augustin shows that not only the increase, but the very beginning also of faith is in God's gift. On this matter he does not disavow that he once thought differently, and that in some small works, written before his episcopate, he was in error, as in that exposition, which they object to him, of propositions from the epistle to the Romans. But he points out that he was subsequently convinced chiefly by this testimony, "but what hast thou that thou hast not received?" which he proves is to be taken as a testimony concerning faith itself also. He says that faith is to be counted among other works, which the apostle denies to anticipate God's grace when He says, "not of works." He declares that the hardness of the heart is taken away by grace, and that all come to Christ who are taught to come by the Father; but that those whom He teaches, He teaches in mercy, while those whom He teaches not, in judgment He teaches not. That the passage from his hundred and second epistle, Question 2, "concerning the time of the Christian religion" which is alleged by the semi-Pelagians, may rightly be explained without detriment to the doctrine of grace and predestination. He teaches what is the difference between grace and predestination. Further, he says that God in his predestination foreknew what he had purposed to do. He marvels greatly that the adversaries of predestination, who are said to be unwilling to be dependent on the uncertainty of God's will, prefer rather to trust themselves to their own weakness than to the strength of God's promise. He clearly points out that they abuse this authority, "If thou believest, thou shalt be saved." That the truth of grace and perseverance shines forth in the case of infants that are saved, who are distinguished by no merits of their own from others who perish. For that there is no difference between them arising from the foreknowledge of merits which they would have had if they had lived longer. That testimony is wrongfully rejected by the adversaries as being uncanonical, which he adduced for the purpose of this discussion, "he was taken away lest wickedness," etc. That the most illustrious instance of predestination and grace is the Saviour Himself, in whom a man obtained the privilege of being the Saviour and the Only-begotten Son of God, through being assumed into oneness of person by the Word co-eternal with the Father, on account of no precedent merits, either of works or of faith. That the predestinated are called by some certain calling peculiar to the elect, and that they have been elected before the foundation of the world; not because they were foreknown as men who would believe and would be holy, but in order that by means of that very election of grace they might be such, etc.


Chapter 1 [I.]--Introduction.

We know that in the Epistle to the Philippians the apostle said, "To write the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous but for you it is safe;" [3414] yet the same apostle writing to the Galatians when he saw that he had done enough among them of what he regarded as being needful for them, by the ministry of his preaching, said, "For the rest let no man cause me labour," [3415] or as it is read in many codices, "Let no one be troublesome to me." But although I confess that it causes me trouble that the divine word in which the grace of God is preached (which is absolutely no grace if it is given according to our merits), great and manifest as it is, is not yielded to, nevertheless my dearest sons, Prosper and Hilary, your zeal and brotherly affection--which makes you so reluctant to see any of the brethren in error, as to wish that, after so many books and letters of mine on this subject, I should write again from here--I love more than I can tell, although I do not dare to say that I love it as much as I ought. Wherefore, behold, I write to you again. And although not with you, yet through you I am still doing what I thought I had done sufficiently.

Footnotes

[3414] Phil. iii. 1. [3415] Gal. vi. 17.


Chapter 2.--To What Extent the Massilians [3416] Withdraw from the Pelagians.

For on consideration of your letters, I seem to see that those brethren on whose behalf you exhibit a pious care that they may not hold the poetical opinion in which it is affirmed, "Every one is a hope for himself," [3417] and so fall under that condemnation which is, not poetically, but prophetically, declared, "Cursed is every man that hath hope in man," [3418] must be treated in that way wherein the apostle dealt with those to whom he said, "And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you." [3419] For as yet they are in darkness on the question concerning the predestination of the saints, but they have that whence, "if in anything they are otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto them," if they are walking in that to which they have attained. For which reason the apostle, when he had said, "If ye are in anything otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you," says, "Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, let us walk in the same." [3420] And those brethren of ours, on whose behalf your pious love is solicitous, have attained with Christ's Church to the belief that the human race is born obnoxious to the sin of the first man, and that none can be delivered from that evil save by the righteousness of the Second Man. Moreover, they have attained to the confession that men's wills are anticipated by God's grace; and to the agreement that no one can suffice to himself either for beginning or for completing any good work. These things, therefore, unto which they have attained, being held fast, abundantly distinguish them from the error of the Pelagians. Further, if they walk in them, and beseech Him who giveth understanding, if in anything concerning predestination they are otherwise minded, He will reveal even this unto them. Yet let us also spend upon them the influence of our love, and the ministry of our discourse, according to His gift, whom we have asked that in these letters we might say what should be suitable [3421] and profitable to them. For whence do we know whether by this our service, wherein we are serving them in the free love of Christ, our God may not perchance will to effect that purpose?

Footnotes

[3416] [The party which Augustin is here opposing had its chief centre in Marseilles, and hence is called "Massilians." Prosper in his letter called them reliquiæ Pelagianorum, i.e., "the remnants of the Pelagians." They are now most commonly called "Semi-Pelagians."--W.] [3417] Virg. Æneid, xi. 309. [3418] Jer. xvii. 5. [3419] Phil. iii. 15. [3420] Phil. iii. 16. [3421] Some mss. read aperta, scil. "plain."


Chapter 3 [II.]--Even the Beginning of Faith is of God's Gift.

Therefore I ought first to show that the faith by which we are Christians is the gift of God, if I can do that more thoroughly than I have already done in so many and so large volumes. But I see that I must now reply to those who say that the divine testimonies which I have adduced concerning this matter are of avail for this purpose, to assure us that we have faith itself of ourselves, but that its increase is of God; as if faith were not given to us by Him, but were only increased in us by Him, on the ground of the merit of its having begun from us. Thus there is here no departure from that opinion which Pelagius himself was constrained to condemn in the judgment of the bishops of Palestine, as is testified in the same Proceedings, "That the grace of God is given according to our merits," [3422] if it is not of God's grace that we begin to believe, but rather that on account of this beginning an addition is made to us of a more full and perfect belief; and so we first give the beginning of our faith to God, that His supplement may also be given to us again, and whatever else we faithfully ask.

Footnotes

[3422] On the Proceedings of Peliagus, ch. 30.


Chapter 4.--Continuation of the Preceding.

But why do we not in opposition to this, rather hear the words, "Who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed to him again? since of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things." [3423] And from whom, then, is that very beginning of our faith if not from Him? For this is not excepted when other things are spoken of as of Him; but "of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things." But who can say that he who has already begun to believe deserves nothing from Him in whom he has believed? Whence it results that, to him who already deserves, other things are said to be added by a divine retribution, and thus that God's grace is given according to our merits. And this assertion when put before him, Pelagius himself condemned, that he might not be condemned. Whoever, then, wishes on every side to avoid this condemnable opinion, let him understand that what the apostle says is said with entire truthfulness, "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." [3424] He shows that both are the gifts of God, because he said that both were given. And he does not say, "to believe on Him more fully and perfectly," but, "to believe on Him." Neither does he say that he himself had obtained mercy to be more faithful, but "to be faithful," [3425] because he knew that he had not first given the beginning of his faith to God, and had its increase given back to him again by Him; but that he had been made faithful by God, who also had made him an apostle. For the beginnings of his faith are recorded, and they are very well known by being read in the church on an occasion calculated to distinguish them: [3426] how, being turned away from the faith which he was destroying, and being vehemently opposed to it, he was suddenly by a more powerful grace converted to it, by the conversion of Him, to whom as One who would do this very thing it was said by the prophet, "Thou wilt turn and quicken us;" [3427] so that not only from one who refused to believe he was made a willing believer, but, moreover, from being a persecutor, he suffered persecution in defence of that faith which he persecuted. Because it was given him by Christ "not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."

Footnotes

[3423] Rom. xi. 35. [3424] Phil. i. 29. [3425] 1 Cor. vii. 25. [3426] The Acts of the Apostles were read during Easter. [3427] Ps. lxxxv. 6.


Chapter 5.--To Believe is to Think with Assent.

And, therefore, commending that grace which is not given according to any merits, but is the cause of all good merits, he says, "Not that we are sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." [3428] Let them give attention to this, and well weigh these words, who think that the beginning of faith is of ourselves, and the supplement of faith is of God. For who cannot see that thinking is prior to believing? For no one believes anything unless he has first thought that it is to be believed. For however suddenly, however rapidly, some thoughts fly before the will to believe, and this presently follows in such wise as to attend them, as it were, in closest conjunction, it is yet necessary that everything which is believed should be believed after thought has preceded; although even belief itself is nothing else than to think with assent. For it is not every one who thinks that believes, since many think in order that they may not believe; but everybody who believes, thinks,--both thinks in believing and believes in thinking. Therefore in what pertains to religion and piety (of which the apostle was speaking), if we are not capable of thinking anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, we are certainly not capable of believing anything as of ourselves, since we cannot do this without thinking; but our sufficiency, by which we begin to believe, is of God. Wherefore, as no one is sufficient for himself, for the beginning or the completion of any good work whatever,--and this those brethren of yours, as what you have written intimates, already agree to be true, whence, as well in the beginning as in the carrying out of every good work, our sufficiency is of God,--so no one is sufficient for himself, either to begin or to perfect faith; but our sufficiency is of God. Because if faith is not a matter of thought, it is of no account; and we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.

Footnotes

[3428] 2 Cor. iii. 5.


Chapter 6.--Presumption and Arrogance to Be Avoided.

Care must be taken, brethren, beloved of God, that a man do not lift himself up in opposition to God, when he says that he does what God has promised. Was not the faith of the nations promised to Abraham, "and he, giving glory to God, most fully believed that what He promised He is able also to perform"? [3429] He therefore makes the faith of the nations, who is able to do what He has promised. Further, if God works our faith, acting in a wonderful manner in our hearts so that we believe, is there any reason to fear that He cannot do the whole; and does man on that account arrogate to himself its first elements, that he may merit to receive its last from God? Consider if in such a way any other result be gained than that the grace of God is given in some way or other, according to our merit, and so grace is no more grace. For on this principle it is rendered as debt, it is not given gratuitously; for it is due to the believer that his faith itself should be increased by the Lord, and that the increased faith should be the wages of the faith begun; nor is it observed when this is said, that this wage is assigned to believers, not of grace, but of debt. And I do not at all see why the whole should not be attributed to man,--as he who could originate for himself what he had not previously, can himself increase what he had originated,--except that it is impossible to withstand the most manifest divine testimony by which faith, whence piety takes its beginning, is shown also to be the gift of God: such as is that testimony that "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith;" [3430] and that one, "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ," [3431] and other similar passages. Man, therefore, unwilling to resist such clear testimonies as these, and yet desiring himself to have the merit of believing, compounds as it were with God to claim a portion of faith for himself, and to leave a portion for Him; and, what is still more arrogant, he takes the first portion for himself and gives the subsequent to Him; and so in that which he says belongs to both, he makes himself the first, and God the second!

Footnotes

[3429] Rom. iv. 20. [3430] Rom. xii. 3. [3431] Eph. vi. 23.


Chapter 7 [III.]--Augustin Confesses that He Had Formerly Been in Error Concerning the Grace of God.

It was not thus that that pious and humble teacher thought--I speak of the most blessed Cyprian--when he said "that we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." [3432] And in order to show this, he appealed to the apostle as a witness, where he said, "For what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, why boastest thou as if thou hadst not received it?" [3433] And it was chiefly by this testimony that I myself also was convinced when I was in a similar error, thinking that faith whereby we believe on God is not God's gift, but that it is in us from ourselves, and that by it we obtain the gifts of God, whereby we may live temperately and righteously and piously in this world. For I did not think that faith was preceded by God's grace, so that by its means would be given to us what we might profitably ask, except that we could not believe if the proclamation of the truth did not precede; but that we should consent when the gospel was preached to us I thought was our own doing, and came to us from ourselves. And this my error is sufficiently indicated in some small works of mine written before my episcopate. Among these is that which you have mentioned in your letters [3434] wherein is an exposition of certain propositions from the Epistle to the Romans. Eventually, when I was retracting all my small works, and was committing that retractation to writing, of which task I had already completed two books before I had taken up your more lengthy letters,--when in the first volume I had reached the retractation of this book, I then spoke thus:--"Also discussing, I say, `what God could have chosen in him who was as yet unborn, whom He said that the elder should serve; and what in the same elder, equally as yet unborn, He could have rejected; concerning whom, on this account, the prophetic testimony is recorded, although declared long subsequently, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated,"' [3435] I carried out my reasoning to the point of saying: `God did not therefore choose the works of any one in foreknowledge of what He Himself would give them, but he chose the faith, in the foreknowledge that He would choose that very person whom He foreknew would believe on Him,--to whom He would give the Holy Spirit, so that by doing good works he might obtain eternal life also.' I had not yet very carefully sought, nor had I as yet found, what is the nature of the election of grace, of which the apostle says, `A remnant are saved according to the election of grace.' [3436] Which assuredly is not grace if any merits precede it; lest what is now given, not according to grace, but according to debt, be rather paid to merits than freely given. And what I next subjoined: `For the same apostle says, "The same God which worketh all in all;" [3437] but it was never said, God believeth all in all;' and then added, `Therefore what we believe is our own, but what good thing we do is of Him who giveth the Holy Spirit to them that believe:' I certainly could not have said, had I already known that faith itself also is found among those gifts of God which are given by the same Spirit. Both, therefore, are ours on account of the choice of the will, and yet both are given by the spirit of faith and love. For faith is not alone but as it is written, `Love with faith, from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.' [3438] And what I said a little after, `For it is ours to believe and to will, but it is His to give to those who believe and will, the power of doing good works through the Holy Spirit, by whom love is shed abroad in our hearts,'--is true indeed; but by the same rule both are also God's, because God prepares the will; and both are ours too, because they are only brought about with our good wills. And thus what I subsequently said also: `Because we are not able to will unless we are called; and when, after our calling, we would will, our willing is not sufficiently nor our running, unless God gives strength to us that run, and leads us whither He calls us;' and thereupon added: `It is plain, therefore, that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, that we do good works'--this is absolutely most true. But I discovered little concerning the calling itself, which is according to God's purpose; for not such is the calling of all that are called, but only of the elect. Therefore what I said a little afterwards: `For as in those whom God elects it is not works but faith that begins the merit so as to do good works by the gift of God, so in those whom He condemns, unbelief and impiety begin the merit of punishment, so that even by way of punishment itself they do evil works'--I spoke most truly. But that even the merit itself of faith was God's gift, I neither thought of inquiring into, nor did I say. And in another place I say: `For whom He has mercy upon, He makes to do good works, and whom He hardeneth He leaves to do evil works; but that mercy is bestowed upon the preceding merit of faith, and that hardening is applied to preceding iniquity.' And this indeed is true; but it should further have been asked, whether even the merit of faith does not come from God's mercy,--that is, whether that mercy is manifested in man only because he is a believer, or whether it is also manifested that he may be a believer? For we read in the apostle's words: `I obtained mercy to be a believer.' [3439] He does not say, `Because I was a believer.' Therefore although it is given to the believer, yet it has been given also that he may be a believer. Therefore also, in another place in the same book I most truly said: `Because, if it is of God's mercy, and not of works, that we are even called that we may believe and it is granted to us who believe to do good works, that mercy must not be grudged to the heathen;'--although I there discoursed less carefully about that calling which is given according to God's purpose." [3440]

Footnotes

[3432] Cyprian, Testimonies to Quirinus, Book iii. ch. 4; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 528. [3433] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [3434] Hilary's Letter, No. 226 in the collection of Augustin's Letters. [3435] Mal. i. 2, 3. Cf. Rom. ix. 13. [3436] Rom. xi. 5. [3437] 1 Cor. xii. 6. [3438] Eph. vi. 23. [3439] 1 Cor. vii. 25. [3440] Retractations, Book i. ch. 23, Nos. 3, 4.


Chapter 8 [IV.]--What Augustin Wrote to Simplicianus, the Successor of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.

You see plainly what was at that time my opinion concerning faith and works, although I was labouring in commending God's grace; and in this opinion I see that those brethren of ours now are, because they have not been as careful to make progress with me in my writings as they were in reading them. For if they had been so careful, they would have found that question solved in accordance with the truth of the divine Scriptures in the first book of the two which I wrote in the very beginning of my episcopate to Simplicianus, of blessed memory, Bishop of the Church of Milan, and successor to St. Ambrose. Unless, perchance, they may not have known these books; in which case, take care that they do know them. Of this first of those two books, I first spoke in the second book of the Retractations; and what I said is as follows: "Of the books, I say, on which, as a bishop, I have laboured, the first two are addressed to Simplicianus, president of the Church of Milan, who succeeded the most blessed Ambrose, concerning divers questions, two of which I gathered into the first book from the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. The former of them is about what is written: `What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? By no means;' [3441] as far as the passage where he says, `Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' [3442] And therein I have expounded those words of the apostle: `The law is spiritual; but I am carnal,' [3443] and others in which the flesh is declared to be in conflict against the Spirit in such a way as if a man were there described as still under law, and not yet established under grace. For, long afterwards, I perceived that those words might even be (and probably were) the utterance of a spiritual man. The latter question in this book is gathered from that passage where the apostle says, `And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one act of intercourse, even by our father Isaac,' [3444] as far as that place where he says, `Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we should be as Sodoma, and should have been like unto Gomorrah.' [3445] In the solution of this question I laboured indeed on behalf of the free choice of the human will, but God's grace overcame, and I could only reach that point where the apostle is perceived to have said with the most evident truth, `For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?' [3446] And this the martyr Cyprian was also desirous of setting forth when he compressed the whole of it in that title: `That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own.'" [3447] This is why I previously said that it was chiefly by this apostolic testimony that I myself had been convinced, when I thought otherwise concerning this matter; and this God revealed to me as I sought to solve this question when I was writing, as I said, to the Bishop Simplicianus. This testimony, therefore, of the apostle, when for the sake of repressing man's conceit he said, "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?" [3448] does not allow any believer to say, I have faith which I received not. All the arrogance of this answer is absolutely repressed by these apostolic words. Moreover, it cannot even be said, "Although I have not a perfected faith, yet I have its beginning, whereby I first of all believed in Christ." Because here also is answered: "But what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?"

Footnotes

[3441] Rom. vii. 7. [3442] Rom. vii. 24. [3443] Rom. vii. 14. [3444] Rom. ix. 10. [3445] Rom. ix. 29. [3446] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [3447] Cypr. Test. Book iii. ch. 4; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p 528. Augustin's Retractations, II. i. 1. [3448] 1 Cor. iv. 7.


Chapter 9 [V.]--The Purpose of the Apostle in These Words.

The notion, however, which they entertain, "that these words, `What hast thou that thou hast not received?' cannot be said of this faith, because it has remained in the same nature, although corrupted, which at first was endowed with health and perfection," [3449] is perceived to have no force for the purpose that they desire if it be considered why the apostle said these words. For he was concerned that no one should glory in man, because dissensions had sprung up among the Corinthian Christians, so that every one was saying, "I, indeed, am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, and another, I am of Cephas;" [3450] and thence he went on to say: "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong things; and God hath chosen the ignoble things of the world, and contemptible things, and those things which are not, to make of no account things which are; that no flesh should glory before God." [3451] Here the intention of the apostle is of a certainty sufficiently plain against the pride of man, that no one should glory in man; and thus, no one should glory in himself. Finally, when he had said "that no flesh should glory before God," in order to show in what man ought to glory, he immediately added, "But it is of Him that ye are in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [3452] Thence that intention of his progressed, till afterwards rebuking them he says, "For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there are among you envying and contention, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? For while one saith I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not men? What, then, is Apollos, and what Paul? Ministers by whom you believed; and to every one as the Lord has given. I have planted, and Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." [3453] Do you not see that the sole purpose of the apostle is that man may be humbled, and God alone exalted? Since in all those things, indeed, which are planted and watered, he says that not even are the planter and the waterer anything, but God who giveth the increase: and the very fact, also, that one plants and another waters he attributes not to themselves, but to God, when he says, "To every one as the Lord hath given; I have planted, Apollos watered." Hence, therefore, persisting in the same intention he comes to the point of saying, "Therefore let no man glory in man," [3454] for he had already said, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." After these and some other matters which are associated therewith, that same intention of his is carried on in the words: "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes, that ye might learn in us that no one of you should be puffed up for one against another above that which is written. For who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou which thou hast not received? Now, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?" [3455]

Footnotes

[3449] See Epistle of Hilary (Augustin's Epistles, 226). [3450] 1 Cor. i. 12. [3451] 1 Cor. i. 27. [3452] 1 Cor. i. 30. [3453] 1 Cor. iii. 3 ff. [3454] 1 Cor. iii. 21. [3455] 1 Cor. iv. 6.


Chapter 10.--It is God's Grace Which Specially Distinguishes One Man from Another.

In this the apostle's most evident intention, in which he speaks against human pride, so that none should glory in man but in God, it is too absurd, as I think, to suppose God's natural gifts, whether man's entire and perfected nature itself as it was bestowed on him in his first state, or the remains, whatever they may be, of his degraded nature. For is it by such gifts as these, which are common to all men, that men are distinguished from men? But here he first said, "For who maketh thee to differ?" and then added, "And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" Because a man, puffed up against another, might say, "My faith makes me to differ," or "My righteousness," or anything else of the kind. In reply to such notions, the good teacher says, "But what hast thou that thou hast not received?" And from whom but from Him who maketh thee to differ from another, on whom He bestowed not what He bestowed on thee? "Now if," says he, "thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou receivedst it not?" Is he concerned, I ask, about anything else save that he who glorieth should glory in the Lord? But nothing is so opposed to this feeling as for any one to glory concerning his own merits in such a way as if he himself had made them for himself, and not the grace of God,--a grace, however, which makes the good to differ from the wicked, and is not common to the good and the wicked. Let the grace, therefore, whereby we are living and reasonable creatures, and are distinguished from cattle, be attributed to nature; let that grace also by which, among men themselves, the handsome are made to differ from the ill-formed, or the intelligent from the stupid, or anything of that kind, be ascribed to nature. But he whom the apostle was rebuking did not puff himself up as contrasted with cattle, nor as contrasted with any other man, in respect of any natural endowment which might be found even in the worst of men. But he ascribed to himself, and not to God, some good gift which pertained to a holy life, and was puffed up therewith when he deserved to hear the rebuke, "Who hath made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?" For though the capacity to have faith is of nature, is it also of nature to have it? "For all men have not faith," [3456] although all men have the capacity to have faith. But the apostle does not say, "And what hast thou capacity to have, the capacity to have which thou receivedst not?" but he says, "And what hast thou which thou receivedst not?" Accordingly, the capacity to have faith, [3457] as the capacity to have love, belongs to men's nature; but to have faith, even as to have love, belongs to the grace of believers. That nature, therefore, in which is given to us the capacity of having faith, does not distinguish man from man, but faith itself makes the believer to differ from the unbeliever. And thus, when it is said, "For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?" if any one dare to say, "I have faith of myself, I did not, therefore, receive it," he directly contradicts this most manifest truth,--not because it is not in the choice of man's will to believe or not to believe, but because in the elect the will is prepared by the Lord. Thus, moreover, the passage, "For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou receivedst not?" refers to that very faith which is in the will of man.

Footnotes

[3456] 2 Thess. iii. 2. [3457] Thence says Bernard, in his treatise On Grace and Free Will, ch. i.: "God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of it." Comp. On the Calling of the Gentiles, Book ii. ch. 2, and Fulgentius, On the Incarnation and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, chs. 22, 23, and 24.


Chapter 11 [VI.]--That Some Men are Elected is of God's Mercy.

"Many hear the word of truth; but some believe, while others contradict. Therefore, the former will to believe; the latter do not will." Who does not know this? Who can deny this? But since in some the will is prepared by the Lord, in others it is not prepared, we must assuredly be able to distinguish what comes from God's mercy, and what from His judgment. "What Israel sought for," says the apostle, "he hath not obtained, but the election hath obtained it; and the rest were blinded, as it is written, God gave to them the spirit of compunction,--eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, even to this day. And David said, Let their table be made a snare, a retribution, and a stumblingblock to them; let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see; and bow down their back always." [3458] Here is mercy and judgment,--mercy towards the election which has obtained the righteousness of God, but judgment to the rest which have been blinded. And yet the former, because they willed, [3459] believed; the latter, because they did not will believed not. Therefore mercy and judgment were manifested in the very wills themselves. Certainly such an election is of grace, not at all of merits. For he had before said, "So, therefore, even at this present time, the remnant has been saved by the election of grace. And if by grace, now it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace." [3460] Therefore the election obtained what it obtained gratuitously; there preceded none of those things which they might first give, and it should be given to them again. He saved them for nothing. But to the rest who were blinded, as is there plainly declared, it was done in recompense. "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth." [3461] But His ways are unsearchable. Therefore the mercy by which He freely delivers, and the truth by which He righteously judges, are equally unsearchable.

Footnotes

[3458] Rom. xi. 7. [3459] According to the Vatican mss. is read, "The former who willed," and below, "The latter who willed not." [3460] Rom. xi. 5. [3461] Ps. xxv. 10.


Chapter 12 [VII.]--Why the Apostle Said that We are Justified by Faith and Not by Works.

But perhaps it may be said: "The apostle distinguishes faith from works; he says, indeed, that grace is not of works, but he does not say that it is not of faith." This, indeed, is true. But Jesus says that faith itself also is the work of God, and commands us to work it. For the Jews said to Him, "What shall we do that we may work the work of God? Jesus answered, and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." [3462] The apostle, therefore, distinguishes faith from works, just as Judah is distinguished from Israel in the two kingdoms of the Hebrews, although Judah is Israel itself. And he says that a man is justified by faith and not by works, because faith itself is first given, from which may be obtained other things which are specially characterized as works, in which a man may live righteously. For he himself also says, "By grace ye are saved through faith; and this not of yourselves; but it is the gift of God," [3463] --that is to say, "And in saying `through faith,' even faith itself is not of yourselves, but is God's gift." "Not of works," he says, "lest any man should be lifted up." For it is often said, "He deserved to believe, because he was a good man even before he believed." Which may be said of Cornelius [3464] since his alms were accepted and his prayers heard before he had believed on Christ; and yet without some faith he neither gave alms nor prayed. For how did he call on him on whom he had not believed? But if he could have been saved without the faith of Christ the Apostle Peter would not have been sent as an architect to build him up; although, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it." [3465] And we are told, Faith is of ourselves; other things which pertain to works of righteousness are of the Lord; as if faith did not belong to the building,--as if, I say, the foundation did not belong to the building. But if this primarily and especially belongs to it, he labours in vain who seeks to build up the faith by preaching, unless the Lord in His mercy builds it up from within. Whatever, therefore, of good works Cornelius performed, as well before he believed in Christ as when he believed and after he had believed, are all to be ascribed to God, lest, perchance any man be lifted up.

Footnotes

[3462] John vi. 28. [3463] Eph. ii. 8. [3464] Acts x. [3465] Ps. cxxvii. 1.


Chapter 13 [VIII.]--The Effect of Divine Grace.

Accordingly, our only Master and Lord Himself, when He had said what I have above mentioned,--"This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent,"--says a little afterwards in that same discourse of His, "I said unto you that ye also have seen me and have not believed. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." [3466] What is the meaning of "shall come to me," but, "shall believe in me"? But it is the Father's gift that this may be the case. Moreover, a little after He says, "Murmur not among yourselves. No one can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all teachable [3467] of God. Every man that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." [3468] What is the meaning of, "Every man that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me," except that there is none who hears from the Father, and learns, who cometh not to me? For if every one who has heard from the Father, and has learned, comes, certainly every one who does not come has not heard from the Father; for if he had heard and learned, he would come. For no one has heard and learned, and has not come; but every one, as the Truth declares, who has heard from the Father, and has learned, comes. Far removed from the senses of the flesh is this teaching in which the Father is heard, and teaches to come to the Son. Engaged herein is also the Son Himself, because He is His Word by which He thus teaches; and He does not do this through the ear of the flesh, but of the heart. Herein engaged, also, at the same time, is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son; and He, too, teaches, and does not teach separately, since we have learned that the workings of the Trinity are inseparable. And that is certainly the same Holy Spirit of whom the apostle says, "We, however, having the same Spirit of faith." [3469] But this is especially attributed to the Father, for the reason that of Him is begotten the Only Begotten, and from Him proceeds the Holy Spirit, of which it would be tedious to argue more elaborately; and I think that my work in fifteen books on the Trinity which God is, has already reached you. Very far removed, I say, from the senses of the flesh is this instruction wherein God is heard and teaches. We see that many come to the Son because we see that many believe on Christ, but when and how they have heard this from the Father, and have learned, we see not. It is true that that grace is exceedingly secret, but who doubts that it is grace? This grace, therefore, which is hiddenly bestowed in human hearts by the Divine gift, is rejected by no hard heart, because it is given for the sake of first taking away the hardness of the heart. When, therefore, the Father is heard within, and teaches, so that a man comes to the Son, He takes away the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh, as in the declaration of the prophet He has promised. Because He thus makes them children and vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory.

Footnotes

[3466] John vi. 36. [3467] Or, "docile towards God." [3468] John vi. 43 ff. [3469] 2 Cor. iv. 13.


Chapter 14.--Why the Father Does Not Teach All that They May Come to Christ.

Why, then, does He not teach all that they may come to Christ, except because all whom He teaches, He teaches in mercy, while those whom He teaches not, in judgment He teaches not? Since, "On whom He will He has mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth." [3470] But He has mercy when He gives good things. He hardens when He recompenses what is deserved. Or if, as some would prefer to distinguish them, those words also are his to whom the apostle says, "Thou sayest then unto me," so that he may be regarded as having said, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth," as well as those which follow,--to wit, "What is it that is still complained of? for who resists His will?" does the apostle answer, "O man, what thou hast said is false?" No; but he says, "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 over the clay of the same lump?" [3471] and what follows, which you very well know. And yet in a certain sense the Father teaches all men to come to His Son. For it was not in vain that it was written in the prophets, "And they shall all be teachable of God." [3472] And when He too had premised this testimony, He added, "Every man, therefore, who has heard of the Father, and has learned, cometh to me." As, therefore, we speak justly when we say concerning any teacher of literature who is alone in a city, He teaches literature here to everybody,--not that all men learn, but that there is none who learns literature there who does not learn from him,--so we justly say, God teaches all men to come to Christ, not because all come, but because none comes in any other way. And why He does not teach all men the apostle explained, as far as he judged that it was to be explained, because, "willing to show His wrath, and to exhibit His power, He endured with much patience the vessels of wrath which were perfected for destruction; and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He has prepared for glory." [3473] Hence it is that the "word of the cross is foolishness to them that perish; but unto them that are saved it is the power of God." [3474] God teaches all such to come to Christ, for He wills all such to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And if He had willed to teach even those to whom the word of the cross is foolishness to come to Christ, beyond all doubt these also would have come. For He neither deceives nor is deceived when He says, "Everyone that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me." Away, then, with the thought that any one cometh not, who has heard of the Father and has learned.

Footnotes

[3470] Rom. ix. 18. [3471] Rom. ix. 18, ff. [3472] John vi. 45. [3473] Rom. ix. 22. [3474] 1 Cor. i. 18.


Chapter 15.--It is Believers that are Taught of God.

"Why," say they, "does He not teach all men?" If we should say that they whom He does not teach are unwilling to learn, we shall be met with the answer: And what becomes of what is said to Him, "O God, Thou wilt turn us again, and quicken us"? [3475] Or if God does not make men willing who were not willing, on what principle does the Church pray, according to the Lord's commandment, for her persecutors? For thus also the blessed Cyprian [3476] would have it to be understood that we say, "Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth,"--that is, as in those who have already believed, and who are, as it were, heaven, so also in those who do not believe, and on this account are still the earth. What, then, do we pray for on behalf of those who are unwilling to believe, except that God would work in them to will also? Certainly the apostle says, "Brethren, my heart's good will, indeed, and my prayer to God for them, is for their salvation." [3477] He prays for those who do not believe,--for what, except that they may believe? For in no other way do they obtain salvation. If, then, the faith of the petitioners precede the grace of God, does the faith of them on whose behalf prayer is made that they may believe precede the grace of God?--since this is the very thing that is besought for them, that on them that believe not--that is, who have not faith--faith itself may be bestowed? When, therefore, the gospel is preached, some believe, some believe not; but they who believe at the voice of the preacher from without, hear of the Father from within, and learn; while they who do not believe, hear outwardly, but inwardly do not hear nor learn;--that is to say, to the former it is given to believe; to the latter it is not given. Because "no man," says He, "cometh to me, except the Father which sent me draw him." [3478] And this is more plainly said afterwards. For after a little time, when He was speaking of eating his flesh and drinking His blood, and some even of His disciples said, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it? Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this offend you?" [3479] And a little after He said, "The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life; but there are some among you which believe not." [3480] And immediately the evangelist says, "For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the believers, and who should betray Him; and He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father." Therefore, to be drawn to Christ by the Father, and to hear and learn of the Father in order to come to Christ, is nothing else than to receive from the Father the gift by which to believe in Christ. For it was not the hearers of the gospel that were distinguished from those who did not hear, but the believers from those who did not believe, by Him who said, "No man cometh to me except it were given him of my Father."

Footnotes

[3475] Ps. lxxx. 7. [3476] Cypr. Treatise on the Lord's Prayer. [3477] Rom. x. 1. [3478] John vi. 44. [3479] John vi. 60 ff. [3480] John vi. 63 ff.


Chapter 16.--Why the Gift of Faith is Not Given to All.

Faith, then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is God's gift; and let no one have any doubt whatever, unless he desires to resist the plainest sacred writings, that this gift is given to some, while to some it is not given. But why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the believer, who believes that from one all have gone into a condemnation, which undoubtedly is most righteous; so that even if none were delivered therefrom, there would be no just cause for finding fault with God. Whence it is plain that it is a great grace for many to be delivered, and to acknowledge in those that are not delivered what would be due to themselves; so that he that glorieth may glory not in his own merits, which he sees to be equalled in those that are condemned, but in the Lord. But why He delivers one rather than another,--"His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out." [3481] For it is better in this case for us to hear or to say, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" [3482] than to dare to speak as if we could know what He has chosen to be kept secret. Since, moreover, He could not will anything unrighteous.

Footnotes

[3481] Rom. xi. 33. [3482] Rom. ix. 20.


Chapter 17 [IX.]--His Argument in His Letter Against Porphyry, as to Why the Gospel Came So Late into the World.

But that which you remember my saying in a certain small treatise of mine against Porphyry, under the title of The Time of the Christian Religion, I so said for the sake of escaping this more careful and elaborate argument about grace; although its meaning, which could be unfolded elsewhere or by others, was not wholly omitted, although I had been unwilling in that place to explain it. For, among other matters, I spoke thus in answer to the question proposed, why it was after so long a time that Christ came: "Accordingly, I say, since they do not object to Christ that all do not follow His teaching (for even they themselves feel that this could not be objected at all with any justice, either to the wisdom of the philosophers or even to the deity of their own gods), what will they reply, if--leaving out of the question that depth of God's wisdom and knowledge where perchance some other divine plan is far more secretly hidden, without prejudging also other causes, which cannot be traced out by the wise--we say to them only this, for the sake of brevity in the arguing of this question, that Christ willed to appear to men, and that His doctrine should be preached among them, at that time when He knew, and at that place where He knew, that there were some who would believe on Him. For at those times, and in those places, at which His gospel was not preached, He foreknew that all would be in His preaching such as, not indeed all, but many were in His bodily presence, who would not believe on Him, even when the dead were raised by Him; such as we see many now, who, although the declarations of the prophets concerning Him are fulfilled by such manifestations, are still unwilling to believe, and prefer to resist by human astuteness, rather than yield to divine authority so clear and perspicuous, and so lofty, and sublimely made known, so long as the human understanding is small and weak in its approach to divine truth. What wonder is it, then, if Christ knew the world in former ages to be so full of unbelievers, that He should reasonably refuse to appear, or to be preached to them, who, as He foreknew, would believe neither His words nor His miracles? For it is not incredible that all at that time were such as from His coming even to the present time we marvel that so many have been and are. And yet from the beginning of the human race, sometimes more hiddenly, sometimes more evidently, even as to Divine Providence the times seemed to be fitting, there has neither been a failure of prophecy, nor were there wanting those who believed on Him; as well from Adam to Moses, as in the people of Israel itself which by a certain special mystery was a prophetic people; and in other nations before He had come in the flesh. For as some are mentioned in the sacred Hebrew books, as early as the time of Abraham,--neither of his fleshly race nor of the people of Israel nor of the foreign society among the people of Israel,--who were, nevertheless, sharers in their sacrament, why may we not believe that there were others elsewhere among other people, here and there, although we do not read any mention of them in the same authorities? Thus the salvation of this religion, by which only true one true salvation is truly promised, never failed him who was worthy of it; and whoever it failed was not worthy of it. And from the very beginning of the propagation of man, even to the end, the gospel is preached, to some for a reward, to some for judgment; and thus also those to whom the faith was not announced at all were foreknown as those who would not believe; and those to whom it was announced, although they were not such as would believe, are set forth as an example for the former; while those to whom it is announced who should believe, are prepared for the kingdom of heaven, and the company of the holy angels." [3483]

Footnotes

[3483] Augustin's Epistles, 102, chs. 14, 15.


Chapter 18.--The Preceding Argument Applied to the Present Time.

Do you not see that my desire was, without any prejudgment of the hidden counsel of God, and of other reasons, to say what might seem sufficient about Christ's foreknowledge, to convince the unbelief of the pagans who had brought forward this question? For what is more true than that Christ foreknew who should believe on Him, and at what times and places they should believe? But whether by the preaching of Christ to themselves by themselves they were to have faith, or whether they would receive it by God's gift,--that is, whether God only foreknew them, or also predestinated them, I did not at that time think it necessary to inquire or to discuss. Therefore what I said, "that Christ willed to appear to men at that time, and that His doctrine should be preached among them when He knew, and where He knew, that there were those who would believe on Him," may also thus be said, "That Christ willed to appear to men at that time, and that His gospel should be preached among those, whom He knew, and where He knew, that there were those who had been elected in Himself before the foundation of the world." But since, if it were so said, it would make the reader desirous of asking about those things which now by the warning of Pelagian errors must of necessity be discussed with greater copiousness and care, it seemed to me that what at that time was sufficient should be briefly said, leaving to one side, as I said, the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and without prejudging other reasons, concerning which I thought that we might more fittingly argue, not then, but at some other time.


Chapter 19 [X]--In What Respects Predestination and Grace Differ.

Moreover, that which I said, "That the salvation of this religion has never been lacking to him who was worthy of it, and that he to whom it was lacking was not worthy,"--if it be discussed and it be asked whence any man can be worthy, there are not wanting those who say--by human will. But we say, by divine grace or predestination. Further, between grace and predestination there is only this difference, that predestination is the preparation for grace, while grace is the donation itself. When, therefore the apostle says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works," [3484] it is grace; but what follows--"which God hath prepared that we should walk in them"--is predestination, which cannot exist without foreknowledge, although foreknowledge may exist without predestination; because God foreknew by predestination those things which He was about to do, whence it was said, "He made those things that shall be." [3485] Moreover, He is able to foreknow even those things which He does not Himself do,--as all sins whatever. Because, although there are some which are in such wise sins as that they are also the penalties of sins, whence it is said, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient," [3486] it is not in such a case the sin that is God's, but the judgment. Therefore God's predestination of good is, as I have said, the preparation of grace; which grace is the effect of that predestination. Therefore when God promised to Abraham in his seed the faith of the nations, saying, "I have established thee a father of many nations," [3487] whence the apostle says, "Therefore it is of faith, that the promise, according to grace, might be established to all the seed," [3488] He promised not from the power of our will but from His own predestination. For He promised what He Himself would do, not what men would do. Because, although men do those good things which pertain to God's worship, He Himself makes them to do what He has commanded; it is not they that cause Him to do what He has promised. Otherwise the fulfilment of God's promises would not be in the power of God, but in that of men; and thus what was promised by God to Abraham would be given to Abraham by men themselves. Abraham, however, did not believe thus, but "he believed, giving glory to God, that what He promised He is able also to do." [3489] He does not say, "to foretell"--he does not say, "to foreknow;" for He can foretell and foreknow the doings of strangers also; but he says, "He is able also to do;" and thus he is speaking not of the doings of others, but of His own.

Footnotes

[3484] Eph. ii. 9, 10. [3485] Isa. xlv. 11. [3486] Rom. i. 28. [3487] Gen. xvii. 5. [3488] Rom. iv. 16. [3489] Rom. iv. 21.


Chapter 20.--Did God Promise the Good Works of the Nations and Not Their Faith, to Abraham?

Did God, perchance, promise to Abraham in his seed the good works of the nations, so as to promise that which He Himself does, but did not promise the faith of the Gentiles, which men do for themselves; but so as to promise what He Himself does, did He foreknow that men would effect that faith? The apostle, indeed, does not speak thus, because God promised children to Abraham, who should follow the footsteps of his faith, as he very plainly says. But if He promised the works, and not the faith of the Gentiles certainly since they are not good works unless they are of faith (for "the righteous lives of faith," [3490] and, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin," [3491] and, "Without faith it is impossible to please" [3492] ), it is nevertheless in man's power that God should fulfil what He has promised. For unless man should do what without the gift of God pertains to man, he will not cause God to give,--that is, unless man have faith of himself. God does not fulfil what He has promised, that works of righteousness should be given by God. And thus that God should be able to fulfil His promises is not in God's power, but man's. And if truth and piety do not forbid our believing this, let us believe with Abraham, that what He has promised He is able also to perform. But He promised children to Abraham; and this men cannot be unless they have faith, therefore He gives faith also.

Footnotes

[3490] Hab. ii. 4. [3491] Rom. xiv. 23. [3492] Heb. xi. 6.


Chapter 21.--It is to Be Wondered at that Men Should Rather Trust to Their Own Weakness Than to God's Strength.

Certainly, when the apostle says, "Therefore it is of faith that the promise may be sure according to grace," [3493] I marvel that men would rather entrust themselves to their own weakness, than to the strength of God's promise. But sayest thou, God's will concerning myself is to me uncertain? What then? Is thine own will concerning thyself certain to thee? and dost thou not fear,--"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"? [3494] Since, then, both are uncertain, why does not man commit his faith, hope, and love to the stronger will rather than to the weaker?

Footnotes

[3493] Rom. iv. 16. [3494] 1 Cor. x. 12.


Chapter 22.--God's Promise is Sure.

"But," say they, "when it is said, `If thou believest, thou shalt be saved,' one of these things is required; the other is offered. What is required is in man's power; what is offered is in God's." [3495] Why are not both in God's, as well what He commands as what He offers? For He is asked to give what He commands. Believers ask that their faith may be increased; they ask on behalf of those who do not believe, that faith may be given to them; therefore both in its increase and in its beginnings, faith is the gift of God. But it is said thus: "If thou believest, thou shalt be saved," in the same way that it is said, "If by the Spirit ye shall mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." [3496] For in this case also, of these two things one is required, the other is offered. It is said, "If by the Spirit ye shall mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." Therefore, that we mortify the deeds of the flesh is required, but that we may live is offered. Is it, then, fitting for us to say, that to mortify the deeds of the flesh is not a gift of God, and not to confess it to be a gift of God, because we hear it required of us, with the offer of life as a reward if we shall do it? Away with this being approved by the partakers and champions of grace! This is the condemnable error of the Pelagians, whose mouths the apostle immediately stopped when he added, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God;" [3497] lest we should believe that we mortify the deeds of the flesh, not by God's Spirit, but by our own. And of this Spirit of God, moreover, he was speaking in that place where he says, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing unto every man what is his own, as He will;" [3498] and among all these things, as you know, he also named faith. As, therefore, although it is the gift of God to mortify the deeds of the flesh, yet it is required of us, and life is set before us as a reward; so also faith is the gift of God, although when it is said, "If thou believest, thou shalt be saved," faith is required of us, and salvation is proposed to us as a reward. For these things are both commanded us, and are shown to be God's gifts, in order that we may understand both that we do them, and that God makes us to do them, as He most plainly says by the prophet Ezekiel. For what is plainer than when He says, "I will cause you to do"? [3499] Give heed to that passage of Scripture, and you will see that God promises that He will make them to do those things which He commands to be done. He truly is not silent as to the merits but as to the evil deeds, of those to whom He shows that He is returning good for evil, by the very fact that He causeth them thenceforth to have good works, in causing them to do the divine commands.

Footnotes

[3495] See Hilary's Letter in Augustin's Letters, 226, ch. 2. [3496] Rom. viii. 13. [3497] Rom. viii. 14. [3498] 1 Cor. xii. 11. [3499] Ezek. xxxvi. 27.


Chapter 23 [XII.]--Remarkable Illustrations of Grace and Predestination in Infants, and in Christ.

But all this reasoning, whereby we maintain that the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord is truly grace, that is, is not given according to our merits, although it is most manifestly asserted by the witness of the divine declarations, yet, among those who think that they are withheld from all zeal for piety unless they can attribute to themselves something, which they first give that it may be recompensed to them again, involves somewhat of a difficulty in respect of the condition of grown-up people, who are already exercising the choice of will. But when we come to the case of infants, and to the Mediator between God and man Himself, the man Christ Jesus, there is wanting all assertion of human merits that precede the grace of God, because the former are not distinguished from others by any preceding good merits that they should belong to the Deliverer of men; any more than He Himself being Himself a man, was made the Deliverer of men by virtue of any precedent human merits.


Chapter 24.--That No One is Judged According to What He Would Have Done If He Had Lived Longer.

For who can hear that infants, baptized in the condition of mere infancy, are said to depart from this life by reason of their future merits, and that others not baptized are said to die in the same age because their future merits are foreknown,--but as evil; so that God rewards or condemns in them not their good or evil life, but no life at all? [3500] The apostle, indeed, fixed a limit which man's incautious suspicion, to speak gently, ought not to transgress, for he says, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive according to the things which he has done by means of the body, whether it be good or evil." [3501] "Has done," he said; and he did not add, "or would have done." But I know not whence this thought should have entered the minds of such men, that infants' future merits (which shall not be) should be punished or honoured. But why is it said that a man is to be judged according to those things which he has done by means of the body, when many things are done by the mind alone, and not by the body, nor by any member of the body; and for the most part things of such importance, that a most righteous punishment would be due to such thought, such as,--to say nothing of others,--that "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God"? [3502] What, then, is the meaning of, "According to those things that he hath done by means of the body," except according to those things which he has done during that time in which he was in the body, so that we may understand "by means of the body" as meaning "throughout the season of bodily life"? But after the body, no one will be in the body except at the last resurrection,--not for the purpose of establishing any claims of merit, but for the sake of receiving recompenses for good merits, and enduring punishments for evil merits. But in this intermediate period between the putting off and the taking again of the body, the souls are either tormented or they are in repose, according to those things which they have done during the period of the bodily life. And to this period of the bodily life moreover pertains, what the Pelagians deny, but Christ's Church confesses, original sin; and according to whether this is by God's grace loosed, or by God's judgment not loosed, when infants die, they pass, on the one hand, by the merit of regeneration from evil to good, or on the other, by the merit of their origin from evil to evil. The catholic faith acknowledges this, and even some heretics, without any contradiction, agree to this. But in the height of wonder and astonishment I am unable to discover whence men, whose intelligence your letters show to be by no means contemptible, could entertain the opinion that any one should be judged not according to the merits that he had as long as he was in the body, but according to the merits which he would have had if he had lived longer in the body; and I should not dare to believe that there were such men, if I could venture to disbelieve you. But I hope that God will interpose, so that when they are admonished they may at once perceive, that if those sins which, as is said, would have been, can rightly be punished by God's judgment in those who are not baptized, they may alo be rightly remitted by God's grace in those who are baptized. For whoever says that future sins can only be punished by God's judgment, but cannot be pardoned by God's mercy, ought to consider how great a wrong he is doing to God and His grace; as if future sin could be foreknown, and could not be foregone. [3503] And if this is absurd, it is the greater reason that help should be afforded to those who would be sinners if they lived longer, when they die in early life, by means of that laver wherein sins are washed away.

Footnotes

[3500] See Prosper's Letter in Augustin's Letters, 225, ch. 5. [3501] 2 Cor. v. 10. [3502] Ps. xiv. 1. [3503] Prænosci possit, nec possit ignosci.


Chapter 25 [XIII.]--Possibly the Baptized Infants Would Have Repented If They Had Lived, and the Unbaptized Not.

But if, perchance, they say that sins are re-remitted to penitents, and that those who die in infancy are not baptized because they are foreknown as not such as would repent if they should live, while God has foreknown that those who are baptized and die in infancy would have repented if they had lived, let them observe and see that if it be so it is not in this case original sins which are punished in infants that die without baptism, but what would have been the sins of each one had he lived; and also in baptized infants, that it is not original sins that are washed away, but their own future sins if they should live, since they could not sin except in more mature age; but that some were foreseen as such as would repent, and others as such as would not repent, therefore some were baptized, and others departed from this life without baptism. If the Pelagians should dare to say this, by their denial of original sin they would thus be relieved of the necessity of seeking, on behalf of infants outside of the kingdom of God, for some place of I know not what happiness of their own; especially since they are convinced that they cannot have eternal life because they have not eaten the flesh nor drank the blood of Christ; and because in them who have no sin at all, baptism, which is given for the remission of sins, is falsified. For they would go on to say that there is no original sin, but that those who as infants are released are either baptized or not baptized according to their future merits if they should live, and that according to their future merits they either receive or do not receive the body and blood of Christ, without which they absolutely cannot have life; and are baptized for the true remission of sins although they derived no sins from Adam, because the sins are remitted unto them concerning which God foreknew that they would repent. Thus with the greatest ease they would plead and would win their cause, in which they deny that there is any original sin, and contend that the grace of God is only given according to our merits. But that the future merits of men, which merits will never come into existence are beyond all doubt no merits at all, it is certainly most easy to see: for this reason even the Pelagians were not able to say this; and much rather these ought not to say it. For it cannot be said with what pain I find that they who with us on catholic authority condemn the error of those heretics, have not seen this, which the Pelagians themselves have seen to be most false and absurd.


Chapter 26 [XIV]--Reference to Cyprian's Treatise "On the Mortality."

Cyprian wrote a work On the Mortality, [3504] known with approval to many and almost all who love ecclesiastical literature, wherein he says that death is not only not disadvantageous to believers, but that it is even found to be advantageous, because it withdraws men from the risks of sinning, and establishes them in a security of not sinning. But wherein is the advantage of this, if even future sins which have not been committed are punished? Yet he argues most copiously and well that the risks of sinning are not wanting in this life, and that they do not continue after this life is done; where also he adduces that testimony from the book of Wisdom: "He was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding." [3505] And this was also adduced by me, though you said that those brethren of yours had rejected it on the ground of its not having been brought forward from a canonical book; as if, even setting aside the attestation of this book, the thing itself were not clear which I wished to be taught therefrom. For what Christian would dare to deny that the righteous man, if he should be prematurely laid hold of by death, will be in repose? Let who will, say this, and what man of sound faith will think that he can withstand it? Moreover, if he should say that the righteous man, if he should depart from his righteousness in which he has long lived, and should die in that impiety after having lived in it, I say not a year, but one day, will go hence into the punishment due to the wicked, his righteousness having no power in the future to avail him,--will any believer contradict this evident truth? Further, if we are asked whether, if he had died then at the time that he was righteous, he would have incurred punishment or repose, shall we hesitate to answer, repose? This is the whole reason why it is said,--whoever says it,--"He was taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding." For it was said in reference to the risks of this life, not with reference to the foreknowledge of God, who foreknew that which was to be, not that which was not to be--that is, that He would bestow on him an untimely death in order that he might be withdrawn from the uncertainty of temptations; not that he would sin, since he was not to remain in temptation. Because, concerning this life, we read in the book of Job, "Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation?" [3506] But why it should be granted to some to be taken away from the perils of this life while they are righteous, while others who are righteous until they fall from righteousness are kept in the same risks in a more lengthened life,--who has known the mind of the Lord? And yet it is permitted to be understood from this, that even those righteous people who maintain good and pious characters, even to the maturity of old age and to the last day of this life, must not glory in their own merits, but in the Lord, since He who took away the righteous man from the shortness of life, lest wickedness should alter his understanding, Himself guards the righteous man in any length of life, that wickedness may not alter his understanding. But why He should have kept the righteous man here to fall, when He might have withdrawn him before,--His judgments, although absolutely righteous, are yet unsearchable.

Footnotes

[3504] Cyprian, Works in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 469. [3505] Wisd. iv. 11. [3506] Job vii. 1.


Chapter 27.--The Book of Wisdom Obtains in the Church the Authority of Canonical Scripture.

And since these things are so, the judgment of the book of Wisdom ought not to be repudiated, since for so long a course of years that book has deserved to be read in the Church of Christ from the station of the readers of the Church of Christ, and to be heard by all Christians, from bishops downwards, even to the lowest lay believers, penitents, and catechumens, with the veneration paid to divine authority. For assuredly, if, from those who have been before me in commenting on the divine Scriptures, I should bring forward a defence of this judgment, which we are now called upon to defend more carefully and copiously than usual against the new error of the Pelagians,--that is, that God's grace is not given according to our merits, and that it is given freely to whom it is given, because it is neither of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy; but that by righteous judgment it is not given to whom it is not given, because there is no unrighteousness with God;--if, therefore, I should put forth a defence of this opinion from catholic commentators on the divine oracles who have preceded us, assuredly these brethren for whose sake I am now discoursing would acquiesce, for this you have intimated in your letters. What need is there, then, for us to look into the writings of those who, before this heresy sprang up, had no necessity to be conversant in a question so difficult of solution as this, which beyond a doubt they would have done if they had been compelled to answer such things? Whence it arose that they touched upon what they thought of God's grace briefly in some passages of their writings, and cursorily; but on those matters which they argued against the enemies of the Church, and in exhortations to every virtue by which to serve the living and true God for the purpose of attaining eternal life and true happiness, they dwelt at length. But the grace of God, what it could do, shows itself artlessly by its frequent mention in prayers; for what God commands to be done would not be asked for from God, unless it could be given by Him that it should be done.


Chapter 28.--Cyprian's Treatise "On the Mortality."

But if any wish to be instructed in the opinions of those who have handled the subject, it behoves them to prefer to all commentators the book of Wisdom, where it is read, "He was taken away, that wickedness should not alter his understanding;" because illustrious commentators, even in the times nearest to the apostles, preferred it to themselves, seeing that when they made use of it for a testimony they believed that they were making use of nothing but a divine testimony; and certainly it appears that the most blessed Cyprian, in order to commend the advantage of an earlier death, contended that those who end this life, wherein sin is possible, are taken away from the risks of sins. In the same treatise, among other things, he says, "Why, when you are about to be with Christ, and are secure of the divine promise, do you not embrace being called to Christ, and rejoice that you are free from the devil?" [3507] And in another place he says, "Boys escape the peril of their unstable age." [3508] And again, in another place, he says, "Why do we not hasten and run, that we may see our country, that we may hail our relatives? A great number of those who are dear to us are expecting us there,--a dense and abundant crowd of parents, brethren, sons, are longing for us; already secure of their own safety, but still anxious about our salvation." [3509] By these and such like sentiments, that teacher sufficiently and plainly testifies, in the clearest light of the catholic faith, that perils of sin and trials are to be feared even until the putting off of this body, but that afterwards no one shall suffer any such things. And even if he did not testify thus, when could any manner of Christian be in doubt on this matter? How, then, should it not have been of advantage to a man who has lapsed, and who finishes his life wretchedly in that same state of lapse, and passes into the punishment due to such as he,--how, I say, should it not have been of the greatest and highest advantage to such an one to be snatched by death from this sphere of temptations before his fall?

Footnotes

[3507] Cyprian, On the Mortality, as above. [3508] Cyprian, On the Mortality, as above. [3509] Cyprian, On the Mortality, as above.


Chapter 29.--God's Dealing Does Not Depend Upon Any Contingent Merits of Men.

And thus, unless we indulge in reckless disputation, the entire question is concluded concerning him who is taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding. And the book of Wisdom, which for such a series of years has deserved to be read in Christ's Church, and in which this is read, ought not to suffer injustice because it withstands those who are mistaken on behalf of men's merit, so as to come in opposition to the most manifest grace of God: and this grace chiefly appears in infants, and while some of these baptized, and some not baptized, come to the end of this life, they sufficiently point to God's mercy and His judgment,--His mercy, indeed, gratuitous, His judgment, of debt. For if men should be judged according to the merits of their life, which merits they have been prevented by death from actually having, but would have had if they had lived, it would be of no advantage to him who is taken away lest wickedness should alter his understanding; it would be of no advantage to those who die in a state of lapse if they should die before. And this no Christian will venture to say. Wherefore our brethren, who with us on behalf of the catholic faith assail the pest of the Pelagian error, ought not to such an extent to favour the Pelagian opinion, wherein they conceive that God's grace is given according to our merits, as to endeavour (which they cannot dare) to invalidate a true sentiment, plainly and from ancient times Christian,--"He was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding;" and to build up that which we should think, I do not say, no one would believe, but no one would dream,--to wit, that any deceased person would be judged according to those things which he would have done if he had lived for a more lengthened period. Surely thus what we say manifests itself clearly to be incontestable,--that the grace of God is not given according to our merits; so that ingenious men who contradict this truth are constrained to say things which must be rejected from the ears and from the thoughts of all men.


Chapter 30 [XV.]--The Most Illustrious Instance of Predestination is Christ Jesus.

Moreover, the most illustrious Light of predestination and grace is the Saviour Himself,--the Mediator Himself between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. And, pray, by what preceding merits of its own, whether of works or of faith, did the human nature which is in Him procure for itself that it should be this? Let this have an answer, I beg. That man, whence did He deserve this--to be assumed by the Word co-eternal with the Father into unity of person, and be the only-begotten Son of God? Was it because any kind of goodness in Him preceded? What did He do before? What did He believe? What did He ask, that He should attain to this unspeakable excellence? Was it not by the act and the assumption of the Word that that man, from the time He began to be, began to be the only Son of God? Did not that woman, full of grace, conceive the only Son of God? Was He not born the only Son of God, of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,--not of the lust of the flesh, but by God's peculiar gift? Was it to be feared that as age matured this man, He would sin of free will? Or was the will in Him not free on that account? and was it not so much the more free in proportion to the greater impossibility of His becoming the servant of sin? Certainly, in Him human nature--that is to say, our nature--specially received all those specially admirable gifts, and any others that may most truly be said to be peculiar to Him, by virtue of no preceding merits of its own. Let a man here answer to God if he dare, and say, Why was it not I also? And if he should hear, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" [3510] let him not at this point restrain himself, but increase his impudence and say, "How is it that I hear, Who art thou, O man? since I am what I hear,--that is, a man, and He of whom I speak is but the same? Why should not I also be what He is? For it is by grace that He is such and so great; why is grace different when nature is common? Assuredly, there is no respect of persons with God." I say, not what Christian man, but what madman will say this?

Footnotes

[3510] Rom. ix. 10.


Chapter 31.--Christ Predestinated to Be the Son of God.

Therefore in Him who is our Head let there appear to be the very fountain of grace, whence, according to the measure of every man, He diffuses Himself through all His members. It is by that grace that every man from the beginning of his faith becomes a Christian, by which grace that one man from His beginning became Christ. Of the same Spirit also the former is born again of which the latter was born. By the same Spirit is effected in us the remission of sins, by which Spirit it was effected that He should have no sin. God certainly foreknew that He would do these things. This, therefore, is that same predestination of the saints which most especially shone forth in the Saint of saints; and who is there of those who rightly understand the declarations of the truth that can deny this predestination? For we have learned that the Lord of glory Himself was predestinated in so far as the man was made the Son of God. The teacher of the Gentiles exclaims, in the beginning of his epistles, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures) concerning His Son, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of sanctification by the resurrection of the dead." [3511] Therefore Jesus was predestinated, so that He who was to be the Son of David according to the flesh should yet be in power the Son of God, according to the Spirit of sanctification, because He was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary. This is that ineffably accomplished sole taking up of man by God the Word, so that He might truly and properly be called at the same time the Son of God and the Son of man,--Son of man on account of the man taken up, and the Son of God on account of the God only-begotten who took Him up, so that a Trinity and not a Quaternity might be believed in. Such a transporting of human nature was predestinated, so great, so lofty, and so sublime that there was no exalting it more highly,--just as on our behalf that divinity had no possibility of more humbly putting itself off, than by the assumption of man's nature with the weakness of the flesh, even to the death of the cross. As, therefore, that one man was predestinated to be our Head, so we being many are predestinated to be His members. Here let human merits which have perished through Adam keep silence, and let that grace of God reign which reigns through Jesus Christ our Lord, the only Son of God, the one Lord. Let whoever can find in our Head the merits which preceded that peculiar generation, seek in us His members for those merits which preceded our manifold regeneration. For that generation was not recompensed to Christ, but given; that He should be born, namely, of the Spirit and the Virgin, separate from all entanglement of sin. Thus also our being born again of water and the Spirit is not recompensed to us for any merit, but freely given; and if faith has brought us to the laver of regeneration, we ought not therefore to suppose that we have first given anything, so that the regeneration of salvation should be recompensed to us again; because He made us to believe in Christ, who made for us a Christ on whom we believe. He makes in men the beginning and the completion of the faith in Jesus who made the man Jesus the beginner and finisher of faith; [3512] for thus, as you know, He is called in the epistle which is addressed to the Hebrews.

Footnotes

[3511] Rom. i. 1 ff. [3512] Heb. xii. 2.


Chapter 32 [XVI.]--The Twofold Calling.

God indeed calls many predestinated children of His, to make them members of His only predestinated Son,--not with that calling with which they were called who would not come to the marriage, since with that calling were called also the Jews, to whom Christ crucified is an offence, and the Gentiles, to whom Christ crucified is foolishness; but with that calling He calls the predestinated which the apostle distinguished when he said that he preached Christ, the wisdom of God and the power of God, to them that were called, Jews as well as Greeks. For thus he says "But unto them which are called," [3513] in order to show that there were some who were not called; knowing that there is a certain sure calling of those who are called according to God's purpose, whom He has foreknown and predestinated before to be conformed to the image of His Son. And it was this calling he meant when he said, "Not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her, That the elder shall serve the younger." [3514] Did he say, "Not of works, but of him that believeth"? Rather, he actually took this away from man, that he might give the whole to God. Therefore he said, "But of Him that calleth,"--not with any sort of calling whatever, but with that calling wherewith a man is made a believer.

Footnotes

[3513] 1 Cor. i. 24. [3514] Rom. ix. 12.


Chapter 33.--It is in the Power of Evil Men to Sin; But to Do This or That by Means of that Wickedness is in God's Power Alone.

Moreover, it was this that he had in view when he said, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." [3515] And in that saying also consider for a little what was its purport. For when he had said, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that ye may not be wise in yourselves, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel should be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion one who shall deliver, and turn away impiety from Jacob: and this is the covenant to them from me, when I shall take away their sins;" [3516] he immediately added, what is to be very carefully understood, "As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes: but as concerning the election, they are beloved for their fathers' sakes." [3517] What is the meaning of, "as concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake," but that their enmity wherewith they put Christ to death was, without doubt, as we see, an advantage to the gospel? And he shows that this came about by God's ordering, who knew how to make a good use even of evil things; not that the vessels of wrath might be of advantage to Him, but that by His own good use of them they might be of advantage to the vessels of mercy. For what could be said more plainly than what is actually said, "As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes"? It is, therefore, in the power of the wicked to sin; but that in sinning they should do this or that by that wickedness is not in their power, but in God's, who divides the darkness and regulates it; so that hence even what they do contrary to God's will is not fulfilled except it be God's will. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that when the apostles had been sent away by the Jews, and had come to their own friends, and shown them what great things the priests and elders said to them, they all with one consent lifted up their voices to the Lord and said, "Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who, by the mouth of our father David, thy holy servant, hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For in truth, there have assembled together in this city against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, Herod and Pilate, and the people of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and counsel predestinated to be done." [3518] See what is said: "As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes." Because God's hand and counsel predestinated such things to be done by the hostile Jews as were necessary for the gospel, for our sakes. But what is it that follows? "But as concerning the election, they are beloved for their fathers' sakes." For are those enemies who perished in their enmity and those of the same people who still perish in their opposition to Christ,--are those chosen and beloved? Away with the thought! Who is so utterly foolish as to say this? But both expressions, although contrary to one another--that is, "enemies" and "beloved"--are appropriate, though not to the same men, yet to the same Jewish people, and to the same carnal seed of lsrael, of whom some belonged to the falling away, and some to the blessing of Israel himself. For the apostle previously explained this meaning more clearly when he said, "That which lsrael wrought for, he hath not obtained; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded?" [3519] Yet in both cases it was the very same Israel. Where, therefore, we hear, "Israel hath not obtained," or, "The rest were blinded," there are to be understood the enemies for our sakes; but where we hear, "that the election hath obtained it," there are to be understood the beloved for their father's sakes, to which fathers those things were assuredly promised; because "the promises were made to Abraham and his seed," [3520] whence also in that olive-tree is grafted the wild olive-tree of the Gentiles. Now subsequently we certainly ought to fall in with the election, of which he says that it is according to grace, not according to debt, because "there was made a remnant by the election of grace" [3521] This election obtained it, the rest being blinded. As concerning this election, the Israelites were beloved for the sake of their fathers. For they were not called with that calling of which it is said, "Many are called," but with that whereby the chosen are called. Whence also after he had said, "But as concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes," he went on to add those words whence this discussion arose: "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,"--that is, they are firmly established without change. Those who belong to this calling are all teachable by God; nor can any of them say, "I believed in order to being thus called," because the mercy of God anticipated him, because he was so called in order that he might believe. For all who are teachable of God come to the Son because they have heard and learned from the Father through the Son, who most clearly says, "Every one who has heard of the Father, and has learned, cometh unto me." [3522] But of such as these none perishes, because "of all that the Father hath given Him, He will lose none." [3523] Whoever, therefore, is of these does not perish at all; nor was any who perishes ever of these. For which reason it is said, "They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us." [3524]

Footnotes

[3515] Rom. xi. 29. [3516] Rom. xi. 25 ff. [3517] Rom. xi. 28. [3518] Acts iv. 24 ff. [3519] Rom. xi. 7. [3520] Gal. iii. 16. [3521] Rom. xi. 5. [3522] John vi. 45. [3523] John vi. 39. [3524] John ii. 19.


Chapter 34 [XVII.]--The Special Calling of the Elect is Not Because They Have Believed, But in Order that They May Believe.

Let us, then, understand the calling whereby they become elected,--not those who are elected because they have believed, but who are elected that they may believe. For the Lord Himself also sufficiently explains this calling when He says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." [3525] For if they had been elected because they had believed, they themselves would certainly have first chosen Him by believing in Him, so that they should deserve to be elected. But He takes away this supposition altogether when He says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." And yet they themselves, beyond a doubt, chose Him when they believed on Him. Whence it is not for any other reason that He says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," than because they did not choose Him that He should choose them, but He chose them that they might choose Him; because His mercy preceded them according to grace, not according to debt. Therefore He chose them out of the world while He was wearing flesh, but as those who were already chosen in Himself before the foundation of the world. This is the changeless truth concerning predestination and grace. For what is it that the apostle says, "As He hath chosen us in Himself before the foundation of the world"? [3526] And assuredly, if this were said because God foreknew that they would believe, not because He Himself would make them believers, the Son is speaking against such a foreknowledge as that when He says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you;" when God should rather have foreknown this very thing, that they themselves would have chosen Him, so that they might deserve to be chosen by Him. Therefore they were elected before the foundation of the world with that predestination in which God foreknew what He Himself would do; but they were elected out of the world with that calling whereby God fulfilled that which He predestinated. For whom He predestinated, them He also called, with that calling, to wit, which is according to the purpose. Not others, therefore, but those whom He predestinated, them He also called; nor others, but those whom He so called, them He also justified; nor others, but those whom He predestinated, called, and justified, them He also glorified; assuredly to that end which has no end. Therefore God elected believers; but He chose them that they might be so, not because they were already so. The Apostle James says: "Has not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love Him?" [3527] By choosing them, therefore; He makes them rich in faith, as He makes them heirs of the kingdom; because He is rightly said to choose that in them, in order to make which in them He chose them. I ask, who can hear the Lord saying, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," and can dare to say that men believe in order to be elected, when they are rather elected to believe; lest against the judgment of truth they be found to have first chosen Christ to whom Christ says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you"? [3528]

Footnotes

[3525] John xv. 16. [3526] Eph. i. 4. [3527] Jas. ii. 5. [3528] John xvi. 16.


Chapter 35 [XVIII.]--Election is for the Purpose of Holiness.

Who can hear the apostle saying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us in all spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ; as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without spot in His sight; in love predestinating us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will, wherein He hath shown us favour in His beloved Son; in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins according to the riches of His grace, which hath abounded to us in all wisdom and prudence; that He might show to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, to restore all things in Christ, which are in heaven, and in the earth, in Him: in whom also we have obtained a share, being predestinated according to the purpose; who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will, that we should be to the praise of his glory;" [3529] --who, I say, can hear these words with attention and intelligence, and can venture to have any doubt concerning a truth so clear as this which we are defending? God chose Christ's members in Him before the foundation of the world; and how should He choose those who as yet did not exist, except by predestinating them? Therefore He chose us by predestinating us. Would he choose the unholy and the unclean? Now if the question be proposed, whether He would choose such, or rather the holy and unstained, who can ask which of these he may answer, and not give his opinion at once in favour of the holy and pure?

Footnotes

[3529] Eph. i. 3 ff.


Chapter 36.--God Chose the Righteous; Not Those Whom He Foresaw as Being of Themselves, But Those Whom He Predestinated for the Purpose of Making So.

"Therefore," says the Pelagian, "He foreknew who would be holy and immaculate by the choice of free will, and on that account elected them before the foundation of the world in that same foreknowledge of His in which He foreknew that they would be such. Therefore He elected them," says he, "before they existed, predestinating them to be children whom He foreknew to be holy and immaculate. Certainly He did not make them so; nor did He foresee that He would make them so, but that they would be so." Let us, then, look into the words of the apostle and see whether He chose us before the foundation of the world because we were going to be holy and immaculate, or in order that we might be so. "Blessed," says he, "be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us in all spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ; even as He hath chosen us in Himself before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted." [3530] Not, then, because we were to be so, but that we might be so. Assuredly it is certain,--assuredly it is manifest. Certainly we were to be such for the reason that He has chosen us, predestinating us to be such by His grace. Therefore "He blessed us with spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ Jesus, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and immaculate in His sight, in order that we might not in so great a benefit of grace glory concerning the good pleasure of our will. "In which," says he, "He hath shown us favour in His beloved Son,"--in which, certainly, His own will, He hath shown us favour. Thus, it is said, He hath shown us grace by grace, even as it is said, He has made us righteous by righteousness. "In whom," he says, "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which has abounded to us in all wisdom and prudence; that he might show to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure." In this mystery of His will, He placed the riches of His grace, according to His good pleasure, not according to ours, which could not possibly be good unless He Himself, according to His own good pleasure, should aid it to become so. But when he had said, "According to His good pleasure," he added, "which He purposed in Him," that is, in His beloved Son, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times to restore all things in Christ, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, in Him: in whom also we too have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will; that we should be to the praise of His glory."

Footnotes

[3530] Eph. i. 3.


Chapter 37.--We Were Elected and Predestinated, Not Because We Were Going to Be Holy, But in Order that We Might Be So.

It would be too tedious to argue about the several points. But you see without doubt, you see with what evidence of apostolic declaration this grace is defended, in opposition to which human merits are set up, as if man should first give something for it to be recompensed to him again. Therefore God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, predestinating us to the adoption of children, not because we were going to be of ourselves holy and immaculate, but He chose and predestinated us that we might be so. Moreover, He did this according to the good pleasure of His will, so that nobody might glory concerning his own will, but about God's will towards himself. He did this according to the riches of His grace, according to His good-will, which He purposed in His beloved Son; in whom we have obtained a share, being predestinated according to the purpose, not ours, but His, who worketh all things to such an extent as that He worketh in us to will also. Moreover, He worketh according to the counsel of His will, that we may be to the praise of His glory. [3531] For this reason it is that we cry that no one should glory in man, and, thus, not in himself; but whoever glorieth let him glory in the Lord, that he may be for the praise of His glory. Because He Himself worketh according to His purpose that we may be to the praise of His glory, and, of course, holy and immaculate, for which purpose He called us, predestinating us before the foundation of the world. Out of this, His purpose, is that special calling of the elect for whom He co-worketh with all things for good, because they are called according to His purpose, and "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." [3532]

Footnotes

[3531] Phil. ii. 13. [3532] Rom. xi. 29.


Chapter 38 [XIX.]--What is the View of the Pelagians, and What of the Semi-Pelagians, Concerning Predestination.

But these brethren of ours, about whom and on whose behalf we are now discoursing, say, perhaps, that the Pelagians are refuted by this apostolical testimony in which it is said that we are chosen in Christ and predestinated before the foundation of the world, in order that we should be holy and immaculate in His sight in love. For they think that "having received God's commands we are of ourselves by the choice of our free will made holy and immaculate in His sight in love; and since God foresaw that this would be the case," they say, "He therefore chose and predestinated us in Christ before the foundation of the world." Although the apostle says that it was not because He foreknew that we should be such, but in order that we might be such by the same election of His grace, by which He showed us favour in His beloved Son. When, therefore, He predestinated us, He foreknew His own work by which He makes us holy and immaculate. Whence the Pelagian error is rightly refuted by this testimony. "But we say," say they, "that God did not foreknow anything as ours except that faith by which we begin to believe, and that He chose and predestinated us before the foundation of the world, in order that we might be holy and immaculate by His grace and by His work." But let them also hear in this testimony the words where he says, "We have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things." [3533] He, therefore, worketh the beginning of our belief who worketh all things; because faith itself does not precede that calling of which it is said: "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;" [3534] and of which it is said: "Not of works, but of Him that calleth" [3535] (although He might have said, "of Him that believeth"); and the election which the Lord signified when He said: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." [3536] For He chose us, not because we believed, but that we might believe, lest we should be said first to have chosen Him, and so His word be false (which be it far from us to think possible), "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Neither are we called because we believed, but that we may believe; and by that calling which is without repentance it is effected and carried through that we should believe. But all the many things which we have said concerning this matter need not to be repeated.

Footnotes

[3533] Eph. i. 11. [3534] Rom. xi. 29. [3535] Rom. ix. 12. [3536] John xv. 16.


Chapter 39--The Beginning of Faith is God's Gift.

Finally, also, in what follows this testimony, the apostle gives thanks to God on behalf of those who have believed;--not, certainly, because the gospel has been declared to them, but because they have believed. For he says, "In whom also after ye had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory. Wherefore I also, after I had heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and with reference to all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you." [3537] Their faith was new and recent on the preaching of the gospel to them, which faith when he hears of, the apostle gives thanks to God on their behalf. If he were to give thanks to man for that which he might either think or know that man had not given, it would be called a flattery or a mockery, rather than a giving of thanks. "Do not err, for God is not mocked;" [3538] for His gift is also the beginning of faith, unless the apostolic giving of thanks be rightly judged to be either mistaken or fallacious. What then? Does that not appear as the beginning of the faith of the Thessalonians, for which, nevertheless, the same apostle gives thanks to God when he says, "For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because when ye had received from us the word of the hearing of God, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which effectually worketh in you and which ye believed"? [3539] What is that for which he here gives thanks to God? Assuredly it is a vain and idle thing if He to whom he gives thanks did not Himself do the thing. But, since this is not a vain and idle thing, certainly God, to whom he gave thanks concerning this work, Himself did it; that when they had received the word of the hearing of God, they received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God. God, therefore, worketh in the hearts of men with that calling according to His purpose, of which we have spoken a great deal, that they should not hear the gospel in vain, but when they heard it, should be converted and believe, receiving it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God.

Footnotes

[3537] Eph. i. 13 ff. [3538] Gal. vi. 7. [3539] 1 Thess. ii. 13.


Chapter 40 [XX.]--Apostolic Testimony to the Beginning of Faith Being God's Gift.

Moreover, we are admonished that the beginning of men's faith is God's gift, since the apostle signifies this when, in the Epistle to the Colossians, he says, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same in giving of thanks. Withal praying also for us that God would open unto us the door of His word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which also I am in bonds, that I may so make it manifest as I ought to speak." [3540] How is the door of His word opened, except when the sense of the hearer is opened so that he may believe, and, having made a beginning of faith, may admit those things which are declared and reasoned, for the purpose of building up wholesome doctrine, lest, by a heart closed through unbelief, he reject and repel those things which are spoken? Whence, also, he says to the Corinthians: "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and evident door is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." [3541] What else can be understood here, save that, when the gospel had been first of all preached there by him, many had believed, and there had appeared many adversaries of the same faith, in accordance with that saying of the Lord, "No one cometh unto me, unless it were given him of my Father;" [3542] and, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given"? [3543] Therefore, there is an open door in those to whom it is given, but there are many adversaries among those to whom it is not given.

Footnotes

[3540] Col. iv. 2 ff. [3541] 1 Cor. xvi. 8. [3542] John vi. 66. [3543] Luke viii. 10.


Chapter 41.--Further Apostolic Testimonies.

And again, the same apostle says to the same people, in his second Epistle: "When I had come to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and a door had been opened unto me in the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus, my brother: but, making my farewell to them, I went away into Macedonia." [3544] To whom did he bid farewell but to those who had believed,--to wit, in whose hearts the door was opened for his preaching of the gospel? But attend to what he adds, saying, "Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place: because we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them who are saved, and in them who perish: to some, indeed, we are the savour of death unto death, but to some the savour of life unto life." [3545] See concerning what this most zealous soldier and invincible defender of grace gives thanks. See concerning what he gives thanks,--that the apostles are a sweet savour of Christ unto God, both in those who are saved by His grace, and in those who perish by His judgment. But in order that those who little understand these things may be less enraged, he himself gives a warning when he adds the words: "And who is sufficient for these things?" [3546] But let us return to the opening of the door by which the apostle signified the beginning of faith in his hearers. For what is the meaning of, "Withal praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of the word," [3547] unless it is a most manifest demonstration that even the very beginning of faith is the gift of God? For it would not be sought for from Him in prayer, unless it were believed to be given by Him. This gift of heavenly grace had descended to that seller of purple [3548] for whom, as Scripture says in the Acts of the Apostles, "The Lord opened her heart, and she gave heed unto the things which were said by Paul;" for she was so called that she might believe. Because God does what He will in the hearts of men, either by assistance or by judgment; so that, even through their means, may be fulfilled what His hand and counsel have predestinated to be done.

Footnotes

[3544] 2 Cor. ii. 12, 13. [3545] 2 Cor. ii. 14 ff. [3546] 2 Cor. ii. 16. [3547] Col. iv. 3. [3548] Acts xvi. 14.


Chapter 42.--Old Testament Testimonies.

Therefore also it is in vain that objectors have alleged, that what we have proved by Scripture testimony from the books of Kings and Chronicles is not pertinent to the subject of which we are discoursing: [3549] such, for instance, as that when God wills that to be done which ought only to be done by the willing men, their hearts are inclined to will this,--inclined, that is to say, by His power, who, in a marvellous and ineffable manner, worketh in us also to will. What else is this than to say nothing, and yet to contradict? Unless perchance, they have given some reason to you for the view that they have taken, which reason you have preferred to say nothing about in your letters. But what that reason can be I do not know. Whether, possibly, since we have shown that God has so acted on the hearts of men, and has induced the wills of those whom He pleased to this point, that Saul or David should be established as king,--do they not think that these instances are appropriate to this subject, because to reign in this world temporally is not the same thing as to reign eternally with God? And so do they suppose that God inclines the wills of those whom He pleases to the attainment of earthly kingdoms, but does not incline them to the attainment of a heavenly kingdom? But I think that it was in reference to the kingdom of heaven, and not to an earthly kingdom, that it was said, "Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies;" [3550] or, "The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and He will will His way;" [3551] or, "The will is prepared by the Lord;" [3552] or, "Let our Lord be with us as with our fathers; let Him not forsake us, nor turn Himself away from us; let Him incline our hearts unto Him, that we may walk in all His ways;" [3553] or, "I will give them a heart to know me, and ears that hear;" [3554] or, "I will give them another heart, and a new spirit will I give them." [3555] Let them also hear this, "I will give my Spirit within you, and I will cause you to walk in my righteousness; and ye shall observe my judgments, and do them." [3556] Let them hear, "Man's goings are directed by the Lord, and how can a man understand His ways?" [3557] Let them hear, "Every man seemeth right to himself, but the Lord directeth the hearts." [3558] Let them hear, "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." [3559] Let them hear these passages, and whatever others of the kind I have not mentioned in which God is declared to prepare and to convert men's wills, even for the kingdom of heaven and for eternal life. And consider what sort of a thing it is to believe that God worketh men's wills for the foundation of earthly kingdoms, but that men work their own wills for the attainment of the kingdom of heaven.

Footnotes

[3549] Hilary's Letter in Augustin's Letters, 226, sec. 7. [3550] Ps. cxix. 36. [3551] Ps. xxxvii. 23. [3552] Prov. viii. [see LXX.]. [3553] 1 Kings viii. 57. [3554] Baruch ii. 31. [3555] Ezek. xi. 19. [3556] Ezek. xxxvi. 27. [3557] Prov. xx. 24. [3558] Prov. xxi. 2. [3559] Acts xiii. 48.


Chapter 43 [XXI.]--Conclusion.

I have said a great deal, and, perchance, I could long ago have persuaded you what I wished, and am still speaking this to such intelligent minds as if they were obtuse, to whom even what is too much is not enough. But let them pardon me, for a new question has compelled me to this. Because, although in my former little treatises I had proved by sufficiently appropriate proofs that faith also was the gift of God, there was found this ground of contradiction, viz., that those testimonies were good for this purpose, to show that the increase of faith was God's gift, but that the beginning of faith, whereby a man first of all believes in Christ, is of the man himself, and is not the gift of God,--but that God requires this, so that when it has preceded, other gifts may follow, as it were on the ground of this merit, and these are the gifts of God; and that none of them is given freely, although in them God's grace is declared, which is not grace except as being gratuitous. And you see how absurd all this is. Wherefore I determined, as far as I could, to set forth that this very beginning also is God's gift. And if I have done this at a greater length than perhaps those on whose account I did it might wish, I am prepared to be reproached for it by them, so long as they nevertheless confess that, although at greater length than they wished, although with the disgust and weariness of those that understand, I have done what I have done: that is, I have taught that even the beginning of faith, as continence, patience, righteousness, piety, and the rest, concerning which there is no dispute with them, is God's gift. Let this, therefore, be the end of this treatise, lest too great length in this one may give offence.

Footnotes

[3413] This Treatise is the first portion of a work, of which the following, On the Gift of Perseverance, is the second. .


A Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance.

[3560]

by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;

Being the Second Book,

Of the Treatise "On the Predestination of the Saints."

addressed to Prosper and Hilary.

a.d. 428 or 429 In the first part of the book he proves that the perseverance by which a man perseveres in Christ to the end is God's gift; for that it is a mockery to ask of God that which is not believed to be given by God. Moreover, that in the Lord's prayer scarcely anything is asked for but perseverance, according to the exposition of the martyr Cyprian, by which exposition the enemies to this grace were convicted before they were born. He teaches that the grace of perseverance is not given according to the merits of the receivers, but to some it is given by God's mercy; to others it is not given, by His righteous judgment. That it is inscrutable why, of adults, one rather than another should be called; just as, moreover, of two infants it is inscrutable why the one should be taken, the other left. But that it is still more inscrutable why, of two pious persons, to one it should be given to persevere, to the other it should not be given; but that this is most certain, that the former is of the predestinated, the latter is not. He observes that the mystery of predestination is set forth in our Lord's words concerning the people of Tyre and Sidon, who would have repented if the same miracles had been done among them which had been done in Chorazin. He shows that the case of infants is of force to confirm the truth of predestination and grace in older people; and he answers the passage of his third book on free will, unsoundly alleged on this point by his adversaries. Subsequently, in the second part of this work, he rebuts what they say,--to wit, that the definition of predestination is opposed to the usefulness of exhortation and rebuke. He asserts, on the other hand, that it is advantageous to preach predestination, so that man may not glory in himself, but in the Lord. As to the objections, however, which they make against predestination, he shows that the same objections may be twisted in no unlike manner either against God's foreknowledge or against that grace which they all agree to be necessary for other good things (with the exception of the beginning of faith and the completion of perseverance). For that the predestination of the saints is nothing else than God's foreknowledge and preparation for His benefits, by which whoever are delivered are most certainly delivered. But he bids that predestination should be preached in a harmonious manner, and not in such a way as to seem to an unskilful multitude as if it were disproved by its very preaching. Lastly, he commends to us Jesus Christ, as placed before our eyes, as the most eminent instance of predestination.

Footnotes

[3560] [In some editions and in many mss. the title is, On the Benefit of Perseverance, and the book is so cited by Remigius, Florus (or Bede), Hincmar, and others. Probably neither title is authentic. Prosper speaks of it to Hilary as if it simply bore the name of the second book of the Predestination of the Saints. "In the books," he writes, "of Bishop Augustin, of blessed memory, which bear the title, On the Predestination of the Saints."--W.]


Chapter 1 [I.]--Of the Nature of the Perseverance Here Discoursed of.

I Have now to consider the subject of perseverance with greater care; for in the former book also I said some things on this subject when I was discussing the beginning of faith. I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God; and I call that the end by which is finished that life wherein alone there is peril of falling. Therefore it is uncertain whether any one has received this gift so long as he is still alive. For if he fall before he dies, he is, of course, said not to have persevered; and most truly is it said. How, then, should he be said to have received or to have had perseverance who has not persevered? For if any one have continence, and fall away from that virtue and become incontinent,--or, in like manner, if he have righteousness, if patience, if even faith, and fall away, he is rightly said to have had these virtues and to have them no longer; for he was continent, or he was righteous, or he was patient, or he was believing, as long as he was so; but when he ceased to be so, he no longer is what he was. But how should he who has not persevered have ever been persevering, since it is only by persevering that any one shows himself persevering,--and this he has not done? But lest any one should object to this, and say, If from the time at which any one became a believer he has lived--for the sake of argument--ten years, and in the midst of them has fallen from the faith, has he not persevered for five years? I am not contending about words. If it be thought that this also should be called perseverance, as it were for so long as it lasts, assuredly he is not to be said to have had in any degree that perseverance of which we are now discoursing, by which one perseveres in Christ even to the end. And the believer of one year, or of a period as much shorter as may be conceived of, if he has lived faithfully until he died, has rather had this perseverance than the believer of many years' standing, if a little time before his death he has fallen away from the stedfastness of his faith.


Chapter 2 [II.]--Faith is the Beginning of a Christian Man. Martyrdom for Christ's Sake is His Best Ending.

This matter being settled, let us see whether this perseverance, of which it was said, "He that persevereth unto the end, the same shall be saved," [3561] is a gift of God. And if it be not, how is that saying of the apostle true: "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake"? [3562] Of these things, certainly, one has respect to the beginning, the other to the end. Yet each is the gift of God, because both are said to be given; as, also, I have already said above. For what is more truly the beginning for a Christian than to believe in Christ? What end is better than to suffer for Christ? But so far as pertains to believing in Christ, whatever kind of contradiction has been discovered, that not the beginning but the increase of faith should be called God's gift,--to this opinion, by God's gift, I have answered enough, and more than enough. But what reason can be given why perseverance to the end should not be given in Christ to him to whom it is given to suffer for Christ, or, to speak more distinctly, to whom it is given to die for Christ? For the Apostle Peter, showing that this is the gift of God, says, "It is better, if the will of God be so, to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing." [3563] When he says, "If the will of God be so," he shows that this is divinely given, and yet not to all saints, to suffer for Christ's sake. For certainly those whom the will of God does not will to attain to the experience and the glory of suffering, do not fail to attain to the kingdom of God if they persevere in Christ to the end. But who can say that this perseverance is not given to those who die in Christ from any weakness of body, or by any kind of accident, although a far more difficult perseverance is given to those by whom even death itself is undergone for Christ's sake? Because perseverance is much more difficult when the persecutor is engaged in preventing a man's perseverance; and therefore he is sustained in his perseverance unto death. Hence it is more difficult to have the former perseverance,--easier to have the latter; but to Him to whom nothing is difficult it is easy to give both. For God has promised this, saying, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me." [3564] And what else is this than, "Such and so great shall be my fear that I will put into their hearts that they will perseveringly cleave to me"?

Footnotes

[3561] Matt. x. 22. [3562] Phil. ii. 29. [3563] 1 Pet. iii. 17. [3564] Jer. xxxii. 40.


Chapter 3.--God is Besought for It, Because It is His Gift.

But why is that perseverance asked for from God if it is not given by God? Is that, too, a mocking petition, when that is asked from Him which it is known that He does not give, but, though He gives it not, is in man's power; just as that giving of thanks is a mockery, if thanks are given to God for that which He did not give nor do? But what I have said there, [3565] I say also here again: "Be not deceived," says the apostle, "God is not mocked." [3566] O man, God is a witness not only of your words, but also of your thoughts. If you ask anything in truth and faith of one who is so rich, believe that you receive from Him from whom you ask, what you ask. Abstain from honouring Him with your lips and extolling yourself over Him in your heart, by believing that you have from yourself what you are pretending to beseech from Him. Is not this perseverance, perchance, asked for from Him? He who says this is not to be rebuked by any arguments, but must be overwhelmed [3567] with the prayers of the saints. Is there any of these who does not ask for himself from God that he may persevere in Him, when in that very prayer which is called the Lord's--because the Lord taught it--when it is prayed by the saints, scarcely anything else is understood to be prayed for but perseverance?

Footnotes

[3565] On the Predestination of the Saints, above, ch. 39. [3566] Gal. vi. 6. [3567] Some editions read "recalled."


Chapter 4.--Three Leading Points of the Pelagian Doctrine.

Read with a little more attention its exposition in the treatise of the blessed martyr Cyprian, which he wrote concerning this matter, the title of which is, On the Lord's Prayer; and see how many years ago, and what sort of an antidote was prepared against those poisons which the Pelagians were one day to use. For there are three points, as you know, which the catholic Church chiefly maintains against them. One of these is, that the grace of God is not given according to our merits; because even every one of the merits of the righteous is God's gift, and is conferred by God's grace. The second is, that no one lives in this corruptible body, however righteous he may be, without sins of some kind. The third is, that man is born obnoxious to the first man's sin, and bound by the chain of condemnation, unless the guilt which is contracted by generation be loosed by regeneration. Of these three points, that which I have placed last is the only one that is not treated of in the above-named book of the glorious martyr; but of the two others the discourse there is of such perspicuity, that the above-named heretics, modern enemies of the grace of Christ, are found to have been convicted long before they were born. Among these merits of the saints, then, which are no merits unless they are the gifts of God, he says that perseverance also is God's gift, in these words: "We say, `Hallowed be Thy name;' not that we ask for God that He may be hallowed by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us. But by whom is God sanctified, since He Himself sanctifies? Well, because He says, Be ye holy because I also am holy, we ask and entreat that we, who were sanctified in baptism, may persevere in that which we have begun to be." [3568] And a little after, still arguing about that self-same matter, and teaching that we entreat perseverance from the Lord, which we could in no wise rightly and truly do unless it were His gift, he says: "We pray that this sanctification may abide in us; and because our Lord and Judge warns the man that was healed and quickened by Him to sin no more, lest a worse thing happen unto him, we make this supplication in our constant prayers; we ask this, day and night, that the sanctification and quickening which is received from the grace of God may be preserved by His protection." [3569] That teacher, therefore, understands that we are asking from Him for perseverance in sanctification, that is, that we should persevere in sanctification, when we who are sanctified say, "Hallowed be Thy name." For what else is it to ask for what we have already received, than that it be given to us also not to cease from its possession? As, therefore, the saint, when he asks God that he may be holy, is certainly asking that he may continue to be holy, so certainly the chaste person also, when he asks that he may be chaste, the continent that he may be continent, the righteous that he may be righteous, the pious that he may be pious, and the like,--which things, against the Pelagians, we maintain to be God's gifts,--are asking, without doubt, that they may persevere in those good things which they have acknowledged that they have received. And if they receive this, assuredly they also receive perseverance itself, the great gift of God, whereby His other gifts are preserved.

Footnotes

[3568] Cyprian, On the Lord's Prayer; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. v. p. 450. [3569] Cyprian, On the Lord's Prayer, as above.


Chapter 5.--The Second Petition in the Lord's Prayer.

What, when we say, "Thy kingdom come," do we ask else, but that that should also come to us which we do not doubt will come to all saints? And therefore here also, what do they who are already holy pray for, save that they may persevere in that holiness which has been given them? For no otherwise will the kingdom of God come to them; which it is certain will come not to others, but to those who persevere to the end.


Chapter 6 [III.]--The Third Petition. How Heaven and Earth are Understood in the Lord's Prayer.

The third petition is, "Thy will be done in heaven and in earth;" or, as it is read in many codices, and is more frequently made use of by petitioners, "As in heaven, so also in earth," which many people understand, "As the holy angels, so also may we do thy will." That teacher and martyr will have heaven and earth, however, to be understood as spirit and flesh, and says that we pray that we may do the will of God with the full concord of both. He saw in these words also another meaning, congruous to the soundest faith, of which meaning I have already spoken above,--to wit, that for unbelievers, who are as yet earth, bearing in their first birth only the earthly man, believers are understood to pray, who, being clothed with the heavenly man, are not unreasonably called by the name of heaven; where he plainly shows that the beginning of faith also is God's gift, since the holy Church prays not only for believers, that faith may be increased or may continue in them, but, moreover, for unbelievers, that they may begin to have what they have not had at all, and against which, besides, they were indulging hostile feelings. Now, however, I am arguing not concerning the beginning of faith, of which I have already spoken much in the former book, but of that perseverance which must be had even to the end,--which assuredly even the saints, who do the will of God, seek when they say in prayer, "Thy will be done." For, since it is already done in them, why do they still ask that it may be done, except that they may persevere in that which they have begun to be? Nevertheless, it may here be said that the saints do not ask that the will of God may be done in heaven, but that it may be done in earth as in heaven,--that is to say, that earth may imitate heaven, that is, that man may imitate the angel, or that an unbeliever may imitate a believer; and thus that the saints are asking that that may be which is not yet, not that that which is may continue. For, by whatever holiness men may be distinguished, they are not yet equal to the angels of God; not yet, therefore, is the will of God done in them as it is in heaven. And if this be so, in that portion indeed in which we ask that men from unbelievers may become believers, it is not perseverance, but beginning, that seems to be asked for; but in that in which we ask that men may be made equal to the angels of God in doing God's will,--where the saints pray for this, they are found to be praying for perseverance; since no one attains to that highest blessedness which is in the kingdom, unless he shall persevere unto the end in that holiness which he has received on earth.


Chapter 7 [IV.]--The Fourth Petition.

The fourth petition is, "Give us this day our daily bread," [3570] where the blessed Cyprian shows how here also perseverance is understood to be asked for. Because he says, among other things, "And 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 heinous sin be separated from Christ's body by being withheld from communicating and prevented from partaking of the heavenly bread." [3571] These words of the holy man of God indicate that the saints ask for perseverance directly from God, when with this intention they say, "Give us this day our daily bread," that they may not be separated from Christ's body, but may continue in that holiness in which they allow no crime by which they may deserve to be separated from it.

Footnotes

[3570] Matt. vi. 11. [3571] Cyprian, On the Lord 's Prayer, as above.


Chapter 8 [V.]--The Fifth Petition. It is an Error of the Pelagians that the Righteous are Free from Sin.

In the fifth sentence of the prayer we say, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors," [3572] in which petition alone perseverance is not found to be asked for. For the sins which we ask to be forgiven us are past, but perseverance, which saves us for eternity, is indeed necessary for the time of this life; but not for the time which is past, but for that which remains even to its end. Yet it is worth the labour to consider for a little, how even already in this petition the heretics who were to arise long after were transfixed by the tongue of Cyprian, as if by the most invincible dart of truth. For the Pelagians dare to say even this: that the righteous man in this life has no sin at all, and that in such men there is even at the present time a Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, [3573] which is the one and only bride of Christ; as if she were not His bride who throughout the whole earth says what she has learnt from Him, "Forgive us our debts." But observe how the most glorious Cyprian destroys these. For when he was expounding that very clause of the Lord's Prayer, he says among other things: "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. Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden daily to entreat for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his Epistle warns [3574] us, and says, [3575] `If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.'" [3576] And the rest, which it would be long to insert in this place.

Footnotes

[3572] Matt. vi. 12. [3573] Eph. v. 27. [3574] "Potens" or "ponens" are different readings. [3575] 1 John i. 8. [3576] Cyprian, as above.


Chapter 9.--When Perseverance is Granted to a Person, He Cannot But Persevere.

Now, moreover, when the saints say, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," [3577] what do they pray for but that they may persevere in holiness? For, assuredly, when that gift of God is granted to them,--which is sufficiently plainly shown to be God's gift, since it is asked of Him,--that gift of God, then, being granted to them that they may not be led into temptation, none of the saints fails to keep his perseverance in holiness even to the end. For there is not any one who ceases to persevere in the Christian purpose unless he is first of all led into temptation. If, therefore, it be granted to him according to his prayer that he may not be led, certainly by the gift of God he persists in that sanctification which by the gift of God he has received.

Footnotes

[3577] Matt. vi. 13.


Chapter 10 [VI.]--The Gift of Perseverance Can Be Obtained by Prayer.

But you write that "these brethren will not have this perseverance so preached as that it cannot be obtained by prayer or lost by obstinacy." [3578] In this they are little careful in considering what they say. For we are speaking of that perseverance whereby one perseveres unto the end, and if this is given, one does persevere unto the end; but if one does not persevere unto the end, it is not given, which I have already sufficiently discussed above. Let not men say, then, that perseverance is given to any one to the end, except when the end itself has come, and he to whom it has been given has been found to have persevered unto the end. Certainly, we say that one whom we have known to be chaste is chaste, whether he should continue or not in the same chastity; and if he should have any other divine endowment which may be kept and lost, we say that he has it as long as he has it; and if he should lose it, we say that he had it. But since no one has perseverance to the end except he who does persevere to the end, many people may have it, but none can lose it. For it is not to be feared that perchance when a man has persevered unto the end, some evil will may arise in him, so that he does not persevere unto the end. This gift of God, therefore, may be obtained by prayer, but when it has been given, it cannot be lost by contumacy. For when any one has persevered unto the end, he neither can lose this gift, nor others which he could lose before the end. How, then, can that be lost, whereby it is brought about that even that which could be lost is not lost?

Footnotes

[3578] Hilary's Letter in Augustin's Letters, 226, ch. 3.


Chapter 11.--Effect of Prayer for Perseverance.

But, lest perchance it be said that perseverance even to the end is not indeed lost when it has once been given,--that is, when a man has persevered unto the end,--but that it is lost, in some sense, when a man by contumacy so acts that he is not able to attain to it; just as we say that a man who has not persevered unto the end has lost eternal life or the kingdom of God, not because he had already received and actually had it, but because he would have received and had it if he had persevered;--let us lay aside controversies of words, and say that some things even which are not possessed, but are hoped to be possessed, may be lost. Let any one who dares, tell me whether God cannot give what He has commanded to be asked from Him. Certainly he who affirms this, I say not is a fool, but he is mad. But God commanded that His saints should say to Him in prayer, "Lead us not into temptation." Whoever, therefore, is heard when he asks this, is not led into the temptation of contumacy, whereby he could or would be worthy to lose perseverance in holiness.


Chapter 12.--Of His Own Will a Man Forsakes God, So that He is Deservedly Forsaken of Him.

But, on the other hand, "of his own will a man forsakes God, so as to be deservedly forsaken by God." Who would deny this? But it is for that reason we ask not to be led into temptation, so that this may not happen. And if we are heard, certainly it does not happen, because God does not allow it to happen. For nothing comes to pass except what either He Himself does, or Himself allows to be done. Therefore He is powerful both to turn wills from evil to good, and to convert those that are inclined to fall, or to direct them into a way pleasing to Himself. For to Him it is not said in vain, "O God, Thou shalt turn again and quicken us;" [3579] it is not vainly said, "Give not my foot to be moved;" [3580] it is not vainly said, "Give me not over, O Lord, from my desire to the sinner;" [3581] finally, not to mention many passages, since probably more may occur to you, it is not vainly said, "Lead us not into temptation." [3582] For whoever is not led into temptation, certainly is not led into the temptation of his own evil will; and he who is not led into the temptation of his own evil will, is absolutely led into no temptation. For "every one is tempted," as it is written, "when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed;" [3583] "but God tempteth no man," [3584] --that is to say, with a hurtful temptation. For temptation is moreover beneficial by which we are not deceived or overwhelmed, but proved, according to that which is said, "Prove me, O Lord, and try me." [3585] Therefore, with that hurtful temptation which the apostle signifies when he says, "Lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain," [3586] "God tempteth no man," as I have said,--that is, He brings or leads no one into temptation. For to be tempted and not to be led into temptation is not evil,--nay, it is even good; for this it is to be proved. When, therefore, we say to God, "Lead us not into temptation," what do we say but, "Permit us not to be led"? Whence some pray in this manner, and it is read in many codices, and the most blessed Cyprian thus uses it: "Do not suffer us to be led into temptation." In the Greek gospel, however, I have never found it otherwise than, "Lead us not into temptation." We live, therefore, more securely if we give up the whole to God, and do not entrust ourselves partly to Him and partly to ourselves, as that venerable martyr saw. For when he would expound the same clause of the prayer, he says among other things, "But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness while we thus ask, lest any should insolently vaunt himself,--lest any should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself,--lest any should take to himself the glory either of confession or suffering as his own; since the Lord Himself, teaching humility, said, `Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' So that when a humble and submissive confession comes first and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly, with the fear of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness." [3587]

Footnotes

[3579] Ps. lxxxiv. 6. [3580] Ps. lxvi. 9. [3581] Ps. cxl. 8. [3582] Matt. vi. 13. [3583] Jas. i. 14. [3584] Jas. i. 13. [3585] Ps. xxvi. 2. [3586] 1 Thess. iii. 5. [3587] Cyprian, On the Lord 's Prayer, as above.


Chapter 13 [VII.]--Temptation the Condition of Man.

If, then, there were no other proofs, this Lord's Prayer alone would be sufficient for us on behalf of the grace which I am defending; because it leaves us nothing wherein we may, as it were, glory as in our own, since it shows that our not departing from God is not given except by God, when it shows that it must be asked for from God. For he who is not led into temptation does not depart from God. This is absolutely not in the strength of free will, such as it now is; but it had been in man before he fell. And yet how much this freedom of will availed in the excellence of that primal state appeared in the angels; who, when the devil and his angels fell, stood in the truth, and deserved to attain to that perpetual security of not falling, in which we are most certain that they are now established. But, after the fall of man, God willed it to pertain only to His grace that man should approach to Him; nor did He will it to pertain to aught but His grace that man should not depart from Him.


Chapter 14.--It is God's Grace Both that Man Comes to Him, and that Man Does Not Depart from Him.

This grace He placed "in Him in whom we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things." [3588] And thus as He worketh that we come to Him, so He worketh that we do not depart. Wherefore it was said to Him by the mouth of the prophet, "Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, and upon the Son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself, and we will not depart from Thee." [3589] This certainly is not the first Adam, in whom we departed from Him, but the second Adam, upon whom His hand is placed, so that we do not depart from Him. For Christ altogether with His members is--for the Church's sake, which is His body--the fulness of Him. When, therefore, God's hand is upon Him, that we depart not from God, assuredly God's work reaches to us (for this is God's hand); by which work of God we are caused to be abiding in Christ with God--not, as in Adam, departing from God. For "in Christ we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things." This, therefore, is God's hand, not ours, that we depart not from God. That, I say, is His hand who said, "I will put my fear in their hearts, that they depart not from me." [3590]

Footnotes

[3588] Eph. i. 11. [3589] Ps. lxxx. 17, 18. [3590] Jer. xxxii. 40.


Chapter 15.--Why God Willed that He Should Be Asked for that Which He Might Give Without Prayer.

Wherefore, also He willed that He should be asked that we may not be led into temptation, because if we are not led, we by no means depart from Him. And this might have been given to us even without our praying for it, but by our prayer He willed us to be admonished from whom we receive these benefits. For from whom do we receive but from Him from whom it is right for us to ask? Truly in this matter let not the Church look for laborious disputations, but consider its own daily prayers. It prays that the unbelieving may believe; therefore God converts to the faith. It prays that believers may persevere; therefore God gives perseverance to the end. God foreknew that He would do this. This is the very predestination of the saints, "whom He has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and unspotted before Him in love; predestinating them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He hath shown them favour in His beloved Son, in whom they have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace, which has abounded towards them in all wisdom and prudence; that He might show them the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Him, in the dispensation of the fulness of times to restore all things in Christ which are in heaven and which are in earth; in Him, in whom also we have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things." [3591] Against a trumpet of truth so clear as this, what man of sober and watchful faith can receive any human arguments?

Footnotes

[3591] Eph. i. 4-11.


Chapter 16 [VIII.]--Why is Not Grace Given According to Merit?

But "why," says one, "is not the grace of God given according to men's merits?" I answer, Because God is merciful. "Why, then," it is asked, "is it not given to all?" And here I reply, Because God is a Judge. [3592] And thus grace is given by Him freely; and by His righteous judgment it is shown in some what grace confers on those to whom it is given. Let us not then be ungrateful, that according to the good pleasure of His will a merciful God delivers so many to the praise of the glory of His grace from such deserved perdition; as, if He should deliver no one therefrom, He would not be unrighteous. Let him, therefore, who is delivered love His grace. Let him who is not delivered acknowledge his due. If, in remitting a debt, goodness is perceived, in requiring it, justice--unrighteousness is never found to be with God.

Footnotes

[3592] Rom. ix. 20.


Chapter 17.--The Difficulty of the Distinction Made in the Choice of One and the Rejection of Another.

"But why," it is said, "in one and the same case, not only of infants, but even of twin children, is the judgment so diverse?" Is it not a similar question, "Why in a different case is the judgment the same?" Let us recall, then, those labourers in the vineyard who worked the whole day, and those who toiled one hour. Certainly the case was different as to the labour expended, and yet there was the same judgment in paying the wages. Did the murmurers in this case hear anything from the householder except, Such is my will? Certainly such was his liberality towards some, that there could be no injustice towards others. And both these classes, indeed, are among the good. Nevertheless, so far as it concerns justice and grace, it may be truly said to the guilty who is condemned, also concerning the guilty who is delivered, "Take what thine is, and go thy way;" [3593] "I will give unto this one that which is not due;" "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thine eye evil because I am good?" And how if he should say, "Why not to me also?" He will hear, and with reason, "Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?" [3594] And although assuredly in the one case you see a most benignant benefactor, and in your own case a most righteous exactor, in neither case do you behold an unjust God. For although He would be righteous even if He were to punish both, he who is delivered has good ground for thankfulness, he who is condemned has no ground for finding fault.

Footnotes

[3593] Matt. xx. 14, etc. [3594] Rom. ix. 20.


Chapter 18.--But Why Should One Be Punished More Than Another?

"But if," it is said, "it was necessary that, although all were not condemned, He should still show what was due to all, and so He should commend His grace more freely to the vessels of mercy; why in the same case will He punish me more than another, or deliver him more than me?" I say not this. If you ask wherefore; because I confess that I can find no answer to make. And if you further ask why is this, it is because in this matter, even as His anger is righteous and as His mercy is great, so His judgments are unsearchable.


Chapter 19.--Why Does God Mingle Those Who Will Persevere with Those Who Will Not?

Let the inquirer still go on, and say, "Why is it that to some who have in good faith worshipped Him He has not given to persevere to the end?" Why except because he does not speak falsely who says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us." [3595] Are there, then, two natures of men? By no means. If there were two natures there would not be any grace, for there would be given a gratuitous deliverance to none if it were paid as a debt to nature. But it seems to men that all who appear good believers ought to receive perseverance to the end. But God has judged it to be better to mingle some who would not persevere with a certain number of His saints, so that those for whom security from temptation in this life is not desirable may not be secure. For that which the apostle says, checks many from mischievous elation: "Wherefore let him who seems to stand take heed lest he fall." [3596] But he who falls, falls by his own will, and he who stands, stands by God's will. "For God is able to make him stand;" [3597] therefore he is not able to make himself stand, but God. Nevertheless, it is good not to be high-minded, but to fear. Moreover, it is in his own thought that every one either falls or stands. Now, as the apostle says, and as I have mentioned in my former treatise, "We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." [3598] Following whom also the blessed Ambrose ventures to say, "For our heart is not in our own power, nor are our thoughts." And this everybody who is humbly and truly pious feels to be most true.

Footnotes

[3595] 1 John ii. 19. [3596] 1 Cor. x. 12. [3597] Rom. xiv. 4. [3598] 2 Cor. iii. 5.


Chapter 20.--Ambrose on God's Control Over Men's Thoughts.

And when Ambrose said this, he was speaking in that treatise which he wrote concerning Flight from the World, wherein he taught that this world was to be fled not by the body, but by the heart, which he argued could not be done except by God's help. For he says: "We hear frequent discourse concerning fleeing from this world, and I would that the mind was as careful and solicitous as the discourse is easy; but what is worse, the enticement of earthly lusts constantly creeps in, and the pouring out of vanities takes possession of the mind; so that what you desire to avoid, this you think of and consider in your mind. And this is difficult for a man to beware of, but impossible to get rid of. Finally, the prophet bears witness that it is a matter of wish rather than of accomplishment, when he says, `Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.' [3599] For our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power, and these, poured forth unexpectedly, confuse our mind and soul, and draw them in a different direction from that which you have proposed to yourself; they recall you to worldly things, they interpose things of time, they suggest voluptuous things, they inweave enticing things, and in the very moment when we are seeking to elevate our mind, we are for the most part filled with vain thoughts and cast down to earthly things." [3600] Therefore it is not in the power of men, but in that of God, that men have power to become sons of God. [3601] Because they receive it from Him who gives pious thoughts to the human heart, by which it has faith, which worketh by love; [3602] for the receiving and keeping of which benefit, and for carrying it on perseveringly unto the end, we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, [3603] in whose power is our heart and our thoughts.

Footnotes

[3599] Ps. cxix. 36. [3600] Ambrose, On Flight from the World, ch. 1. [3601] John i. 12. [3602] Gal. v. 6. [3603] 2 Cor. iii. 5.


Chapter 21 [IX.]--Instances of the Unsearchable Judgments of God.

Therefore, of two infants, equally bound by original sin, why the one is taken and the other left; and of two wicked men of already mature years, why this one should be so called as to follow Him that calleth, while that one is either not called at all, or is not called in such a manner,--the judgments of God are unsearchable. But of two pious men, why to the one should be given perseverance unto the end, and to the other it should not be given, God's judgments are even more unsearchable. Yet to believers it ought to be a most certain fact that the former is of the predestinated, the latter is not. "For if they had been of us," says one of the predestinated, who had drunk this secret from the breast of the Lord, "certainly they would have continued with us." [3604] What, I ask, is the meaning of, "They were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would certainly have continued with us"? Were not both created by God--both born of Adam--both made from the earth, and given from Him who said, "I have created all breath," [3605] souls of one and the same nature? Lastly, had not both been called, and followed Him that called them? and had not both become, from wicked men, justified men, and both been renewed by the laver of regeneration? But if he were to hear this who beyond all doubt knew what he was saying, he might answer and say: These things are true. In respect of all these things, they were of us. Nevertheless, in respect of a certain other distinction, they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they certainly would have continued with us. What then is this distinction? God's books lie open, let us not turn away our view; the divine Scripture cries aloud, let us give it a hearing. They were not of them, because they had not been "called according to the purpose;" they had not been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; they had not gained a lot in Him; they had not been predestinated according to His purpose who worketh all things. For if they had been this, they would have been of them, and without doubt they would have continued with them.

Footnotes

[3604] 1 John ii. 19. [3605] Isa. lvii. 16 [see LXX.]


Chapter 22.--It is an Absurdity to Say that the Dead Will Be Judged for Sins Which They Would Have Committed If They Had Lived.

For not to say how possible it may be for God to convert the wills of men averse and opposed to His faith, and to operate on their hearts so that they yield to no adversities, and are overcome by no temptation so as to depart from Him,--since He also can do what the apostle says, namely, not allow them to be tempted above that which they are able;--not, then, to say this, God foreknowing that they would fall, was certainly able to take them away from this life before that fall should occur. Are we to return to that point of still arguing how absurdly it is said that dead men are judged even for those sins which God foreknew that they would have committed if they had lived? which is so abhorrent to the feelings of Christians, or even of human beings, that one is even ashamed to rebut it. Why should it not be said that even the gospel itself has been preached, with so much labour and sufferings of the saints, in vain, or is even still preached in vain, if men could be judged, even without hearing the gospel, according to the contumacy or obedience which God foreknew that they would have had if they had heard it? Tyre and Sidon would not have been condemned, although more slightly than those cities in which, although they did not believe, wonderful works were done by Christ the Lord; because if they had been done in them, they would have repented in dust and ashes, as the utterances of the Truth declare, in which words of His the Lord Jesus shows to us the loftier mystery of predestination.


Chapter 23.--Why for the People of Tyre and Sidon, Who Would Have Believed, the Miracles Were Not Done Which Were Done in Other Places Which Did Not Believe.

For if we are asked why such miracles were done among those who, when they saw them, would not believe them, and were not done among those who would have believed them if they had seen them, what shall we answer? Shall we say what I have said in that book [3606] wherein I answered some six questions of the Pagans, yet without prejudice of other matters which the wise can inquire into? This indeed I said, as you know, when it was asked why Christ came after so long a time: "that at those times and in those places in which His gospel was not preached, He foreknew that all men would, in regard of His preaching, be such as many were in His bodily presence,--people, namely, who would not believe on Him, even though the dead were raised by Him." Moreover, a little after in the same book, and on the same question, I say, "What wonder, if Christ knew in former ages that the world was so filled with unbelievers, that He was, with reason, unwilling for His gospel to be preached to them whom He foreknew to be such as would not believe either His words or His miracles"? Certainly we cannot say this of Tyre and Sidon; and in their case we recognise that those divine judgments had reference to those causes of predestination, without prejudice to which hidden causes I said that I was then answering such questions as those. Certainly it is easy to accuse the unbelief of the Jews, arising as it did from their free will, since they refused to believe in such great wonders done among themselves. And this the Lord, reproaching them, declares when He says, "Woe unto thee, Chorazin and Bethsaida, because if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they would long ago have repented in dust and ashes." [3607] But can we say that even the Tyrians and Sidonians would have refused to believe such mighty works done among them, or would not have believed them if they had been done, when the Lord Himself bears witness to them that they would have repented with great humility if those signs of divine power had been done among them? And yet in the day of judgment they will be punished; although with a less punishment than those cities which would not believe the mighty works done in them. For the Lord goes on to say, "Nevertheless, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you." [3608] Therefore the former shall be punished with greater severity, the latter with less; but yet they shall be punished. Again, if the dead are judged even in respect of deeds which they would have done if they had lived, assuredly since these would have been believers if the gospel had been preached to them with so great miracles, they certainly ought not to be punished; but they will be punished. It is therefore false that the dead are judged in respect also of those things which they would have done if the gospel had reached them when they were alive. And if this is false, there is no ground for saying, concerning infants who perish because they die without baptism, that this happens in their case deservedly, because God foreknew that if they should live and the gospel should be preached to them, they would hear it with unbelief. It remains, therefore, that they are kept bound by original sin alone, and for this alone they go into condemnation; and we see that in others in the same case this is not remitted, except by the gratuitous grace of God in regeneration; and that, by His secret yet righteous judgment--because there is no unrighteousness with God--that some, who even after baptism will perish by evil living, are yet kept in this life until they perish, who would not have perished if bodily death had forestalled their lapse into sin, and so come to their help. Because no dead man is judged by the good or evil things which he would have done if he had not died, otherwise the Tyrians and Sidonians would not have suffered the penalties according to what they did; but rather according to those things that they would have done, if those evangelical mighty works had been done in them, they would have obtained salvation by great repentance, and by the faith of Christ.

Footnotes

[3606] Epistle 102, question 2; see the first volume of this series, p. 418. [3607] Luke x. 13. [3608] Matt. xi. 22.


Chapter 24 [X.]--It May Be Objected that The People of Tyre and Sidon Might, If They Had Heard, Have Believed, and Have Subsequently Lapsed from Their Faith.

A certain catholic disputant of no mean reputation so expounded this passage of the gospel as to say, that the Lord foreknew that the Tyrians and Sidonians would have afterwards departed from the faith, although they had believed the miracles done among them; and that in mercy He did not work those miracles there, because they would have been liable to severer punishment if they had forsaken the faith which they had once held, than if they had at no time held it. In which opinion of a learned and exceedingly acute man, why am I now concerned to say what is still reasonably to be asked, when even this opinion serves me for the purpose at which I aim? For if the Lord in His mercy did not do mighty works among them, since by these works they might possibly become believers, so that they might not be more severely punished when they should subsequently become unbelievers, as He foreknew that they would,--it is sufficiently and plainly shown that no dead person is judged for those sins which He foreknew that he would have done, if in some manner he were not helped not to do them; just as Christ is said to have come to the aid of the Tyrians and Sidonians, if that opinion be true, who He would rather should not come to the faith at all, than that by a much greater wickedness they should depart from the faith, as, if they had come to it, He foresaw they would have done. Although if it be said, "Why was it not provided that they should rather believe, and this gift should be bestowed on them, that before they forsook the faith they should depart from this life"? I am ignorant what reply can be made. For he who says that to those who would forsake their faith it would have been granted, as a kindness, that they should not begin to have what, by a more serious impiety, they would subsequently forsake, sufficiently indicates that a man is not judged by that which it is foreknown he would have done ill, if by any act of kindness he may be prevented from doing it. Therefore it is an advantage also to him who is taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding. But why this advantage should not have been given to the Tyrians and Sidonians, that they might believe and be taken away, lest wickedness should alter their understanding, he perhaps might answer who was pleased in such a way to solve the above question; but, as far as concerns what I am discussing, I see it to be enough that, even according to that very opinion, men are shown not to be judged in respect of those things which they have not done, even although they may have been foreseen as certain to have done them. However, as I have said, let us think shame even to refute this opinion, whereby sins are supposed to be punished in people who die or have died because they have been foreknown as certain to do them if they had lived; lest we also may seem to have thought it to be of some importance, although we would rather repress it by argument than pass it over in silence.


Chapter 25 [XI.]--God's Ways, Both in Mercy and Judgment, Past Finding Out.

Accordingly, as says the apostle, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," [3609] who both comes to the help of such infants as He will, although they neither will nor run, since He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world as those to whom He intended to give His grace freely,--that is, with no merits of theirs, either of faith or of works, preceding; and does not come to the help of those who are more mature, although He foresaw that they would believe His miracles if they should be done among them, because He wills not to come to their help, since in His predestination He, secretly indeed, but yet righteously, has otherwise determined concerning them. For "there is no unrighteousness with God;" [3610] but "His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways are past finding out; all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth." [3611] Therefore the mercy is past finding out by which He has mercy on whom He will, no merits of his own preceding; and the truth is unsearchable by which He hardeneth whom He will, even although his merits may have preceded, but merits for the most part common to him with the man on whom He has mercy. As of two twins, of which one is taken and the other left, the end is unequal, while the deserts are common, yet in these the one is in such wise delivered by God's great goodness, that the other is condemned by no injustice of God's. For is there unrighteousness with God? Away with the thought! but His ways are past finding out. Therefore let us believe in His mercy in the case of those who are delivered, and in His truth in the case of those who are punished, without any hesitation; and let us not endeavour to look into that which is inscrutable, nor to trace that which cannot be found out. Because out of the mouth of babes and sucklings He perfects His praise, [3612] so that what we see in those whose deliverance is preceded by no good deservings of theirs, and in those whose condemnation is only preceded by original sin, common alike to both,--this we by no means shrink from as occurring in the case of grown-up people, that is, because we do not think either that grace is given to any one according to his own merits, or that any one is punished except for his own merits, whether they are alike who are delivered and who are punished, or have unequal degrees of evil; so that he who thinketh he standeth may take heed lest he fall, and he who glorieth may glory not in himself, but in the Lord.

Footnotes

[3609] Rom. ix. 16. [3610] Rom. ix. 14. [3611] Ps. xxv. 10. [3612] Ps. viii. 2.


Chapter 26.--The Manicheans Do Not Receive All the Books of the Old Testament, and of the New Only Those that They Choose.

But wherefore is "the case of infants not allowed," as you write, "to be alleged as an example for their elders," by men who do not hesitate to affirm against the Pelagians that there is original sin, which entered by one man into the world, and that from one all have gone into condemnation? [3613] This, the Manicheans, too, do not receive, who not only reject all the Scriptures of the Old Testament as of authority, but even receive those which belong to the New Testament in such a manner as that each man, by his own prerogative as it were, or rather by his own sacrilege, takes what he likes, and rejects what he does not like,--in opposition to whom I treated in my writings on Free Will, whence they think that they have a ground of objection against me. I have been unwilling to deal plainly with the very laborious questions that occurred, lest my work should become too long, in a case which, as opposed to such perverse men, I could not have the assistance of the authority of the sacred Scriptures. And I was able,--as I actually did, whether anything of the divine testimonies might be true or not, seeing that I did not definitely introduce them into the argument,--nevertheless, by certain reasoning, to conclude that God in all things is to be praised, without any necessity of believing, as they would have us, that there are two co-eternal, confounded substances of good and evil.

Footnotes

[3613] See the Letter of Hilary in Augustin's Letters, 226, ch. 8.


Chapter 27.--Reference to the "Retractations."

Finally, in the first book of the Retractations, [3614] which work of mine you have not yet read, when I had come to the reconsidering of those same books, that is, on the subject of Free Will, I thus spoke: "In these books," I say, "many things were so discussed that on the occurring of some questions which either I was not able to elucidate, or which required a long discussion at once, they were so deferred as that from either side, or from all sides, of those questions in which what was most in harmony with the truth did not appear, yet my reasoning might be conclusive for this, namely, that whichever of them might be true, God might be believed, or even be shown, to be worthy of praise. Because that discussion was undertaken for the sake of those who deny that the origin of evil is derived from the free choice of the will, and contend that God,--if He be so,--as the Creator of all natures, is worthy of blame; desiring in that manner, according to the error of their impiety (for they are Manicheans), to introduce a certain immutable nature of evil co-eternal with God." Also, after a little time, in another place I say: "Then it was said, From this misery, most righteously inflicted on sinners, God's grace delivers, because man of his own accord, that is, by free will, could fall, but could not also rise. To this misery of just condemnation belong the ignorance and the difficulty which every man suffers from the beginning of his birth, and no one is delivered from that evil except by the grace of God. And this misery the Pelagians will not have to descend from a just condemnation, because they deny original sin; although even if the ignorance and difficulty were the natural beginnings of man, God would not even thus deserve to be reproached, but to be praised, as I have argued in the same third book. [3615] Which argument must be regarded as against the Manicheans, who do not receive the holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, in which original sin is narrated; and whatever thence is read in the apostolic epistles, they contend was introduced with a detestable impudence by the corrupters of the Scriptures, assuming that it was not said by the apostles. But against the Pelagians that must be maintained which both Scriptures commend, as they profess to receive them." These things I said in my first book of Retractations, when I was reconsidering the books on Free Will. Nor, indeed, were these things all that were said by me there about these books, but there were many others also, which I thought it would be tedious to insert in this work for you, and not necessary; and this I think you also will judge when you have read all. Although, therefore, in the third book on Free Will I have in such wise argued concerning infants, that even if what the Pelagians say were true,--that ignorance and difficulty, without which no man is born, are elements, not punishments, of our nature,--still the Manicheans would be overcome, who will have it that the two natures, to wit, of good and evil, are co-eternal. Is, therefore, the faith to be called in question or forsaken, which the catholic Church maintains against those very Pelagians, asserting as she does that it is original sin, the guilt of which, contracted by generation, must be remitted by regeneration? And if they confess this with us, so that we may at once, in this matter of the Pelagians, destroy error, why do they think that it must be doubted that God can deliver even infants, to whom He gives His grace by the sacrament of baptism, from the power of darkness, and translate them into the kingdom of the Son of His love? [3616] In the fact, therefore, that He gives that grace to some, and does not give it to others, why will they not sing to the Lord His mercy and judgment? [3617] Why, however, is it given to these, rather than to those,--who has known the mind of the Lord? who is able to look into unsearchable things? who to trace out that which is past finding out?

Footnotes

[3614] Retractations, Book i. ch. 9. [3615] Retractations, Book i. ch. 20. [3616] Col. i. 13. [3617] Ps. c. 1.


Chapter 28 [XII.]--God's Goodness and Righteousness Shown in All.

It is therefore settled that God's grace is not given according to the deserts of the recipients, but according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise and glory of His own grace; so that he who glorieth may by no means glory in himself, but in the Lord, who gives to those men to whom He will, because He is merciful, what if, however, He does not give, He is righteous: and He does not give to whom He will not, that He may make known the riches of His glory to the vessels of mercy. [3618] For by giving to some what they do not deserve, He has certainly willed that His grace should be gratuitous, and thus genuine grace; by not giving to all, He has shown what all deserve. Good in His goodness to some, righteous in the punishment of others; both good in respect of all, because it is good when that which is due is rendered, and righteous in respect of all, since that which is not due is given without wrong to any one.

Footnotes

[3618] Rom. ix. 23.


Chapter 29.--God's True Grace Could Be Defended Even If There Were No Original Sin, as Pelagius Maintains.

But God's grace, that is, true grace without merits, is maintained, even if infants, when baptized, according to the view of the Pelagians, are not plucked out of the power of darkness, because they are held guilty of no sin, as the Pelagians think, but are only transferred into the Lord's kingdom: for even thus, without any good merits, the kingdom is given to those to whom it is given; and without any evil merits it is not given to them to whom it is not given. And this we are in the habit of saying in opposition to the same Pelagians, when they object to us that we attribute God's grace to fate, when we say that it is given not in respect to our merits. For they themselves rather attribute God's grace to fate in the case of infants, if they say that when there is no merit it is fate. [3619] Certainly, even according to the Pelagians themselves, no merits can be found in infants to cause that some of them should be admitted into the kingdom, and others should be alienated from the kingdom. But now, just as in order to show that God's grace is not given according to our merits, I preferred to maintain this truth in accordance with both opinions,--both in accordance with our own, to wit, who say that infants are bound by original sin, and according to that of the Pelagians, who deny that there is original sin, and yet I cannot on that account doubt that infants have what He can pardon them who saves His people from their sins: so in the third book on Free Will, according to both views, I have withstood the Manicheans, whether ignorance and difficulty be punishments or elements of nature without which no man is born; and yet I hold one of these views. There, moreover, it is sufficiently evidently declared by me, that that is not the nature of man as he was ordained, but his punishment as condemned.

Footnotes

[3619] See above, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Book ii. chs. 11, 12.


Chapter 30.--Augustin Claims the Right to Grow in Knowledge.

Therefore it is in vain that it is prescribed to me from that old book of mine, that I may not argue the case as I ought to argue it in respect of infants; and that thence I may not persuade my opponents by the light of a manifest truth, that God's grace is not given according to men's merits. For if, when I began my books concerning Free Will as a layman, and finished them as a presbyter, I still doubted of the condemnation of infants not born again, and of the deliverance of infants that were born again, no one, as I think, would be so unfair and envious as to hinder my progress, and judge that I must continue in that uncertainty. But it can more correctly be understood that it ought to be believed that I did not doubt in that matter, for the reason that they against whom my purpose was directed seemed to me in such wise to be rebutted, as that whether there was a punishment of original sin in infants, according to the truth, or whether there was not, as some mistaken people think, yet in no degree should such a confusion of the two natures be believed in, to wit, of good and evil, as the error of the Manicheans introduces. Be it therefore far from us so to forsake the case of infants as to say to ourselves that it is uncertain whether, being regenerated in Christ, if they die in infancy they pass into eternal salvation; but that, not being regenerated, they pass into the second death. Because that which is written, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men," [3620] cannot be rightly understood in any other manner; nor from that eternal death which is most righteously repaid to sin does any deliver any one, small or great, save He who, for the sake of remitting our sins, both original and personal, died without any sin of His own, either original or personal. But why some rather than others? Again and again we say, and do not shrink from it, "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" [3621] "His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out." [3622] And let us add this, "Seek not out the things that are too high for thee, and search not the things that are above thy strength." [3623]

Footnotes

[3620] Rom. v. 12. [3621] Rom. ix. 20. [3622] Rom. xi. 33. [3623] Ecclus. iii. 21.


Chapter 31.--Infants are Not Judged According to that Which They are Foreknown as Likely to Do If They Should Live.

For you see, beloved, how absurd it is, and how foreign from soundness of faith and sincerity of truth, for us to say that infants, when they die, should be judged according to those things which they are foreknown to be going to do if they should live. For to this opinion, from which certainly every human feeling, on however little reason it may be founded, and especially every Christian feeling, revolts, they are compelled to advance who have chosen in such wise to be withdrawn from the error of the Pelagians as still to think that they must believe, and, moreover, must profess in argument, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, by which alone after the fall of the first man, in whom we all fell, help is afforded to us, is given according to our merits. And this belief Pelagius himself, before the Eastern bishops as judges, condemned in fear of his own condemnation. And if this be not said of the good or bad works of those who have died, which they would have done if they had lived,--and thus of no works, and works that would never exist, even in the foreknowledge of God,--if this, therefore, be not said, and you see under how great a mistake it is said, what will remain but that we confess, when the darkness of contention is removed, that the grace of God is not given according to our merits, which position the catholic Church defends against the Pelagian heresy; and that we see this in more evident truth especially in infants? For God is not compelled by fate to come to the help of these infants, and not to come to the help of those,--since the case is alike to both. Or shall we think that human affairs in the case of infants are not managed by Divine Providence, but by fortuitous chances, when rational souls are either to be condemned or delivered, although, indeed, not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of our Father which is in heaven? [3624] Or must we so attribute it to the negligence of parents that infants die without baptism, as that heavenly judgments have nothing to do with it; as if they themselves who in this way die badly had of their own will chosen the negligent parents for themselves of whom they were born? What shall I say when an infant expires some time before he can possibly be advantaged by the ministry of baptism? For often when the parents are eager and the ministers prepared for giving baptism to the infants, it still is not given, because God does not choose; since He has not kept it in this life for a little while in order that baptism might be given it. What, moreover, when sometimes aid could be afforded by baptism to the children of unbelievers, that they should not go into perdition, and could not be afforded to the children of believers? In which case it is certainly shown that there is no acceptance of persons with God; otherwise He would rather deliver the children of His worshippers than the children of His enemies.

Footnotes

[3624] Matt. x. 29.


Chapter 32 [XIII.]--The Inscrutability of God's Free Purposes.

But now, since we are now treating of the gift of perseverance, why is it that aid is afforded to the person about to die who is not baptized, while to the baptized person about to fall, aid is not afforded, so as to die before? Unless, perchance, we shall still listen to that absurdity by which it is said that it is of no advantage to any one to die before his fall, because he will be judged according to those actions which God foreknew that he would have done if he had lived. Who can hear with patience this perversity, so violently opposed to the soundness of the faith? Who can bear it? And yet they are driven to say this who do not confess that God's grace is not bestowed in respect of our deservings. They, however, who will not say that any one who has died is judged according to those things which God foreknew that he would have done if he had lived, considering with how manifest a falsehood and how great an absurdity this would be said, have no further reason to say, what the Church condemned in the Pelagians, and caused to be condemned by Pelagius himself,--that the grace of God, namely, is given according to our merits,--when they see some infants not regenerated taken from this life to eternal death, and others regenerated, to eternal life; and those themselves that are regenerated, some going hence, persevering even to the end, and others kept in this life even until they fall, who certainly would not have fallen if they had departed hence before their lapse; and again some falling, but not departing from this life until they return, who certainly would have perished if they had departed before their return.


Chapter 33.--God Gives Both Initiatory and Persevering Grace According to His Own Will.

From all which it is shown with sufficient clearness that the grace of God, which both begins a man's faith and which enables it to persevere unto the end, is not given according to our merits, but is given according to His own most secret and at the same time most righteous, wise, and beneficent will; since those whom He predestinated, them He also called, [3625] with that calling of which it is said, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." [3626] To which calling there is no man that can be said by men with any certainty of affirmation to belong, until he has departed from this world; but in this life of man, which is a state of trial upon the earth, [3627] he who seems to stand must take heed lest he fall. [3628] Since (as I have already said before) [3629] those who will not persevere are, by the most foreseeing will of God, mingled with those who will persevere, for the reason that we may learn not to mind high things, but to consent to the lowly, and may "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure." [3630] We therefore will, but God worketh in us to will also. We therefore work, but God worketh in us to work also for His good pleasure. This is profitable for us both to believe and to say,--this is pious, this is true, that our confession be lowly and submissive, and that all should be given to God. Thinking, we believe; thinking, we speak; thinking, we do whatever we do; [3631] but, in respect of what concerns the way of piety and the true worship of God, we are not sufficient to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. [3632] For "our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power;" whence the same Ambrose who says this says also: "But who is so blessed as in his heart always to rise upwards? And how can this be done without divine help? Assuredly, by no means. Finally," he says, "the same Scripture affirms above, `Blessed is the man whose help is of Thee; O Lord, [3633] ascent is in his heart.'" [3634] Assuredly, Ambrose was not only enabled to say this by reading in the holy writings, but as of such a man is to be without doubt believed, he felt it also in his own heart. Therefore, as is said in the sacraments of believers, that we should lift up our hearts to the Lord, is God's gift; for which gift they to whom this is said are admonished by the priest after this word to give thanks to our Lord God Himself; and they answer that it is "meet and right so to do." [3635] For, since our heart is not in our own power, but is lifted up by the divine help, so that it ascends and takes cognizance of those things which are above, [3636] where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, and, not those things that are upon the earth, to whom are thanks to be given for so great a gift as this unless to our Lord God who doeth this,--who in so great kindness has chosen us by delivering us from the abyss of this world, and has predestinated us before the foundation of the world?

Footnotes

[3625] Rom viii. 30. [3626] Rom. xi. 29. [3627] Job vii. 1. [3628] 1 Cor. x. 12. [3629] Above, ch. xiv. [3630] Phil. ii. 12, 13. [3631] 2 Cor. iii. 5. [3632] Ambrose, On Flight from the World, ch. 1. [3633] Ps. lxxxiv. 5 [LXX.] [3634] LXX.: "In his heart he has purposed to go up." [3635] [An allusion to the Sursum Corda in the "Preface" of the Communion service. For its history see Smith and Cheetham's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, p. 1693. Cyprian in his treatise on the Lord's Prayer already mentions it. It still has a place in the liturgies of the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States.--W.] [3636] Col. iii. 1.


Chapter 34 [XIV.]--The Doctrine of Predestination Not Opposed to the Advantage of Preaching.

But they say that the "definition of predestination is opposed to the advantage of preaching," [3637] --as if, indeed, it were opposed to the preaching of the apostle! Did not that teacher of the heathen so often, in faith and truth, both commend predestination, and not cease to preach the word of God? Because he said, "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure," [3638] did he not also exhort that we should both will and do what is pleasing to God? or because he said, "He who hath begun a good work in you shall carry it on even unto the day of Christ Jesus," [3639] did he on that account cease to persuade men to begin and to persevere unto the end? Doubtless, our Lord Himself commanded men to believe, and said, "Believe in God, believe also in me:" [3640] and yet His opinion is not therefore false, nor is His definition idle when He says, "No man cometh unto me"--that is, no man believeth in me--"except it has been given him of my Father." [3641] Nor, again, because this definition is true, is the former precept vain. Why, therefore, do we think the definition of predestination useless to preaching, to precept, to exhortation, to rebuke,--all which things the divine Scripture repeats frequently,--seeing that the same Scripture commends this doctrine?

Footnotes

[3637] In the Letters of Hilary and Prosper. [3638] Phil. ii. 13. [3639] Phil. i. 6. [3640] John xiv. 1. [3641] John vi. 66.


Chapter 35.--What Predestination is.

Will any man dare to say that God did not foreknow those to whom He would give to believe, or whom He would give to His Son, that of them He should lose none? [3642] And certainly, if He foreknew these things, He as certainly foreknew His own kindnesses, wherewith He condescends to deliver us. This is the predestination of the saints,--nothing else; to wit, the foreknowledge and the preparation of God's kindnesses, whereby they are most certainly delivered, whoever they are that are delivered. But where are the rest left by the righteous divine judgment except in the mass of ruin, where the Tyrians and the Sidonians were left? who, moreover, might have believed if they had seen Christ's wonderful miracles. But since it was not given to them to believe, the means of believing also were denied them. From which fact it appears that some have in their understanding itself a naturally divine gift of intelligence, by which they may be moved to the faith, if they either hear the words or behold the signs congruous to their minds; and yet if, in the higher judgment of God, they are not by the predestination of grace separated from the mass of perdition, neither those very divine words nor deeds are applied to them by which they might believe if they only heard or saw such things. Moreover, in the same mass of ruin the Jews were left, because they could not believe such great and eminent mighty works as were done in their sight. For the gospel has not been silent about the reason why they could not believe, since it says: "But though He had done such great miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him; that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, [3643] Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? And, therefore, they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, [3644] He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." [3645] Therefore the eyes of the Tyrians and Sidonians were not so blinded nor was their heart so hardened, since they would have believed if they had seen such mighty works, as the Jews saw. But it did not profit them that they were able to believe, because they were not predestinated by Him whose judgments are inscrutable and His ways past finding out. Neither would inability to believe have been a hindrance to them, if they had been so predestinated as that God should illuminate those blind eyes, and should will to take away the stony heart from those hardened ones. But what the Lord said of the Tyrians and Sidonians may perchance be understood in another way: that no one nevertheless comes to Christ unless it were given him, and that it is given to those who are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, he confesses beyond a doubt who hears the divine utterance, not with the deaf ears of the flesh, but with the ears of the heart; and yet this predestination, which is plainly enough unfolded even by the words of the gospels, did not prevent the Lord's saying as well in respect of the commencement, what I have a little before mentioned, "Believe in God; believe also in me," as in respect of perseverance, "A man ought always to pray, and not to faint." [3646] For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hear or do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, "To you," said He, "it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." [3647] Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the other to the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, "I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, O Lord." [3648]

Footnotes

[3642] John xviii. 9. [3643] Isa. liii. 1. [3644] Isa. vi. 10. [3645] John xii. 37 ff. [3646] Luke xviii. 1. [3647] Matt. xiii. 11. [3648] Ps. ci. 1.


Chapter 36.--The Preaching of the Gospel and the Preaching of Predestination the Two Parts of One Message.

Therefore, by the preaching of predestination, the preaching of a persevering and progressive faith is not to be hindered; and thus they may hear what is necessary to whom it is given that they should obey. For how shall they hear without a preacher? Neither, again, is the preaching of a progressive faith which continues even to the end to hinder the preaching of predestination, so that he who is living faithfully and obediently may not be lifted up by that very obedience, as if by a benefit of his own, not received; but that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord. For "we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." And this, Cyprian most faithfully saw and most fearlessly explained, and thus he pronounced predestination to be most assured. [3649] For if we must boast in nothing, seeing that nothing is our own, certainly we must not boast of the most persevering obedience. Nor is it so to be called our own, as if it were not given to us from above. And, therefore, it is God's gift, which, by the confession of all Christians, God foreknew that He would give to His people, who were called by that calling whereof it was said, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." [3650] This, then, is the predestination which we faithfully and humbly preach. Nor yet did the same teacher and doer, who both believed on Christ and most perseveringly lived in holy obedience, even to suffering for Christ, cease on that account to preach the gospel, to exhort to faith and to pious manners, and to that very perseverance to the end, because he said, "We must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own;" and here he declared without ambiguity the true grace of God, that is, that which is not given in respect of our merits; and since God foreknew that He would give it, predestination was announced beyond a doubt by these words of Cyprian; and if this did not prevent Cyprian from preaching obedience, it certainly ought not to prevent us.

Footnotes

[3649] Cyprian, Testimonies, iii. 4; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. p. 528. [3650] Rom. xi. 29.


Chapter 37.--Ears to Hear are a Willingness to Obey.

Although, therefore, we say that obedience is the gift of God, we still exhort men to it. But to those who obediently hear the exhortation of truth is given the gift of God itself--that is, to hear obediently; while to those who do not thus hear it is not given. For it was not some one only, but Christ who said, "No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father;" [3651] and, "To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." [3652] And concerning continence He says, "Not all receive this saying, but they to whom it is given." [3653] And when the apostle would exhort married people to conjugal chastity, he says, "I would that all men were even as I myself; but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, another after that;" [3654] where he plainly shows not only that continence is a gift of God, but even the chastity of those who are married. And although these things are true, we still exhort to them as much as is given to any one of us to be able to exhort, because this also is His gift in whose hand are both ourselves and our discourses. Whence also says the apostle, "According to this grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation." [3655] And in another place he says, "Even as the Lord hath given to every man: I have planted, Apollos has watered, but God has given the increase. Therefore neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." [3656] And thus as only he preaches and exhorts rightly who has received this gift, so assuredly he who obediently hears him who rightly exhorts and preaches is he who has received this gift. Hence is what the Lord said, when, speaking to those who had their fleshly ears open, He nevertheless told them, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear;" [3657] which beyond a doubt he knew that not all had. And from whom they have, whosoever they be that have them, the Lord Himself shows when He says, "I will give them a heart to know me, and ears to hear." [3658] Therefore, having ears is itself the gift of obeying, so that they who had that came to Him, to whom "no one comes unless it were given to him of His Father." Therefore we exhort and preach, but they who have ears to hear obediently hear us, while in them who have them not, it comes to pass what is written, that hearing they do not hear,--hearing, to wit, with the bodily sense, they do not hear with the assent of the heart. But why these should have ears to hear, and those have them not,--that is, why to these it should be given by the Father to come to the Son, while to those it should not be given,--who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? Or who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? Must that which is manifest be denied, because that which is hidden cannot be comprehended? Shall we, I say, declare that what we see to be so is not so, because we cannot find out why it is so?

Footnotes

[3651] John vi. 66. [3652] Matt. xiii. 11. [3653] Matt. xix. 11. [3654] 1 Cor. vii. 7. [3655] 1 Cor. iii. 10. [3656] 1 Cor. iii. 5. [3657] Luke viii. 8. [3658] Baruch ii. 31.


Chapter 38 [XV.]--Against the Preaching of Predestination the Same Objections May Be Alleged as Against Predestination.

But they say, as you write: "That no one can be aroused by the incentives of rebuke if it be said in the assembly of the Church to the multitude of hearers: The definite meaning of God's will concerning predestination stands in such wise, that some of you will receive the will to obey and will come out of unbelief unto faith, or will receive perseverance and abide in the faith; but others who are lingering in the delight of sins have not yet arisen, for the reason that the aid of pitying grace has not yet indeed raised you up. But yet, if there are any whom by His grace He has predestinated to be chosen, who are not yet called, ye shall receive that grace by which you may will and be chosen; and if any obey, if ye are predestinated to be rejected, the strength to obey shall be withdrawn from you, so that you may cease to obey." Although these things may be said, they ought not so to deter us from confessing the true grace of God,--that is, the grace which is not given to us in respect of our merits,--and from confessing the predestination of the saints in accordance therewith, even as we are not deterred from confessing God's foreknowledge, although one should thus speak to the people concerning it, and say: "Whether you are now living righteously or unrighteously, you shall be such by and by as the Lord has foreknown that you will be,--either good, if He has foreknown you as good, or bad, if He has foreknown you as bad." For if on the hearing of this some should be turned to torpor and slothfulness, and from striving should go headlong to lust after their own desires, is it therefore to be counted that what has been said about the foreknowledge of God is false? If God has foreknown that they will be good, will they not be good, whatever be the depth of evil in which they are now engaged? And if He has foreknown them evil, will they not be evil, whatever goodness may now be discerned in them? There was a man in our monastery, who, when the brethren rebuked him for doing some things that ought not to be done, and for not doing some things that ought to be done, replied, "Whatever I may now be, I shall be such as God has foreknown that I shall be." And this man certainly both said what was true, and was not profited by this truth for good, but so far made way in evil as to desert the society of the monastery, and become a dog returned to his vomit; and, nevertheless, it is uncertain what he is yet to become. For the sake of souls of this kind, then, is the truth which is spoken about God's foreknowledge either to be denied or to be kept back,--at such times, for instance, when, if it is not spoken, other errors are incurred?


Chapter 39 [XVI]--Prayer and Exhortation.

There are some, moreover, who either do not pray at all, or pray coldly, because, from the Lord's words, they have learnt that God knows what is necessary for us before we ask it of Him. Must the truth of this declaration be given up, or shall we think that it should be erased from the gospel because of such people? Nay, since it is manifest that God has prepared some things to be given even to those who do not pray for them, such as the beginning of faith, and other things not to be given except to those who pray for them, such as perseverance even unto the end, certainly he who thinks that he has this latter from himself does not pray to have it. Therefore we must take care lest, while we are afraid of exhortation growing lukewarm, prayer should be stifled and arrogance stimulated.


Chapter 40.--When the Truth Must Be Spoken, When Kept Back.

Therefore let the truth be spoken, especially when any question impels us to declare it; and let them receive it who are able, lest, perchance, while we are silent on account of those who cannot receive it, they be not only defrauded of the truth but be taken captive by falsehood, who are able to receive the truth whereby falsehood may be avoided. For it is easy, nay, and it is useful, that some truth should be kept back because of those who are incapable of apprehending it. For whence is that word of our Lord: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now"? [3659] And that of the apostle: "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal: as if unto babes in Christ I have given you to drink milk, and not meat, for hitherto ye were not able, neither yet indeed now are ye able"? [3660] Although, in a certain manner of speaking, it might happen that what is said should be both milk to infants and meat for grown-up persons. As "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," [3661] what Christian can keep it back? Who can receive it? Or what in sound doctrine can be found more comprehensive? And yet this is not kept back either from infants or from grown-up people, nor is it hidden from infants by those who are mature. But the reason of keeping back the truth is one, the necessity of speaking the truth is another. It would be a tedious business to inquire into or to put down all the reasons for keeping back the truth; of which, nevertheless, there is this one,--lest we should make those who do not understand worse, while wishing to make those who do understand more learned; although these latter do not become more learned when we withhold any such thing on the one hand, but also do not become worse. When, however, a truth is of such a nature that he who cannot receive it is made worse by our speaking it, and he who can receive it is made worse by our silence concerning it, what do we think is to be done? Must we not speak the truth, that he who can receive it may receive it, rather than keep silence, so that not only neither may receive it, but that even he who is more intelligent should himself be made worse? For if he should hear and receive it, by his means also many might learn. For in proportion as he is more capable of learning, he is the more fitted for teaching others. The enemy of grace presses on and urges in all ways to make us believe that grace is given according to our deservings, and thus grace is no more grace; and are we unwilling to say what we can say by the testimony of Scripture? Do we fear, forsooth, to offend by our speaking him who is not able to receive the truth? and are we not afraid lest by our silence he who can receive the truth may be involved in falsehood?

Footnotes

[3659] John xvi. 12. [3660] 1 Cor. iii. 1. [3661] John i. 1.


Chapter 41.--Predestination Defined as Only God's Disposing of Events in His Foreknowledge.

For either predestination must be preached, in the way and degree in which the Holy Scripture plainly declares it, so that in the predestinated the gifts and calling of God may be without repentance; or it must be avowed that God's grace is given according to our merits,--which is the opinion of the Pelagians; although that opinion of theirs, as I have often said already, may be read in the Proceedings of the Eastern bishops to have been condemned by the lips of Pelagius himself. [3662] Further, those on whose account I am discoursing are only removed from the heretical perversity of the Pelagians, inasmuch as, although they will not confess that they who by God's grace are made obedient and so abide, are predestinated, they still confess, nevertheless, that this grace precedes their will to whom it is given; in such a way certainly as that grace may not be thought to be given freely, as the truth declares, but rather according to the merits of a preceding will, as the Pelagian error says, in contradiction to the truth. Therefore, also, grace precedes faith; otherwise, if faith precedes grace, beyond a doubt will also precedes it, because there cannot be faith without will. But if grace precedes faith because it precedes will, certainly it precedes all obedience; it also precedes love, by which alone God is truly and pleasantly obeyed. And all these things grace works in him to whom it is given, and in whom it precedes all these things. [XVII.] Among these benefits there remains perseverance unto the end, which is daily asked for in vain from the Lord, if the Lord by His grace does not effect it in him whose prayers He hears. See now how foreign it is from the truth to deny that perseverance even to the end of this life is the gift of God; since He Himself puts an end to this life when He wills, and if He puts an end before a fall that is threatening, He makes the man to persevere even unto the end. But more marvellous and more manifest to believers is the largess of God's goodness, that this grace is given even to infants, although there is no obedience at that age to which it may be given. To whomsoever, therefore, God gives His gifts, beyond a doubt He has foreknown that He will bestow them on them, and in His foreknowledge He has prepared them for them. Therefore, those whom He predestinated, them He also called with that calling which I am not reluctant often to make mention of, of which it is said, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." [3663] For the ordering of His future works in His foreknowledge, which cannot be deceived and changed, is absolute, and is nothing but, predestination. But, as he whom God has foreknown to be chaste, although he may regard it as uncertain, so acts as to be chaste, so he whom He has predestinated to be chaste, although he may regard that as uncertain, does not, therefore, fail to act so as to be chaste because he hears that he is to be what he will be by the gift of God. Nay, rather, his love rejoices, and he is not puffed up as if he had not received it. Not only, therefore, is he not hindered from this work by the preaching of predestination, but he is even assisted to it, so that although he glories he may glory in the Lord.

Footnotes

[3662] See above, On the Proceedings of Pelagius, ch. 30. [3663] Rom. xi. 24.


Chapter 42.--The Adversaries Cannot Deny Predestination to Those Gifts of Grace Which They Themselves Acknowledge, and Their Exhortations are Not Hindered by This Predestination Nevertheless.

And what I said of chastity, can be said also of faith, of piety, of love, of perseverance, and, not to enumerate single virtues, it may be said with the utmost truthfulness of all the obedience with which God is obeyed. But those who place only the beginning of faith and perseverance to the end in such wise in our power as not to regard them as God's gifts, nor to think that God works on our thoughts and wills so as that we may have and retain them, grant, nevertheless, that He gives other things,--since they are obtained from Him by the faith of the believer. Why are they not afraid that exhortation to these other things, and the preaching of these other things, should be hindered by the definition of predestination? Or, perchance, do they say that such things are not predestinated? Then they are not given by God, or He has not known that He would give them. Because, if they are both given, and He foreknew that He would give them, certainly He predestinated them. As, therefore, they themselves also exhort to chastity, charity, piety, and other things which they confess to be God's gifts, and cannot deny that they are also foreknown by Him, and therefore predestinated; nor do they say that their exhortations are hindered by the preaching of God's predestination, that is, by the preaching of God's foreknowledge of those future gifts of His: so they may see that neither are their exhortations to faith or to perseverance hindered, even although those very things may be said, as is the truth, to be gifts of God, and that those things are foreknown, that is, predestinated to be given; but let them rather see that by this preaching of predestination only that most pernicious error is hindered and overthrown, whereby it is said that the grace of God is given according to our deservings, so that he who glories may glory not in the Lord, but in himself.


Chapter 43.--Further Development of the Foregoing Argument.

And in order that I may more openly unfold this for the sake of those who are somewhat slow of apprehension, let those who are endowed with an intelligence that flies in advance bear with my delay. The Apostle James says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." [3664] It is written also in the Proverbs of Solomon, "Because theLord giveth wisdom." [3665] And of continency it is read in the book of Wisdom, whose authority has been used by great and learned men who have commented upon the divine utterances long before us; there, therefore, it is read, "When I knew that no one can be continent unless God gives it, and that this was of wisdom, to know whose gift this was." [3666] Therefore these are God's gifts,--that is, to say nothing of others, wisdom and continency. Let those also acquiesce: for they are not Pelagians, to contend against such a manifest truth as this with hard and heretical perversity. "But," say they, "that these things are given to us of God is obtained by faith, which has its beginning from us;" and both to begin to have this faith, and to abide in it even to the end, they contend is our own doing, as if we received it not from the Lord. This, beyond a doubt, is in contradiction to the apostle when he says, "For what hast thou that thou hast not received?" [3667] It is in contradiction also to the saying of the martyr Cyprian, "That we must boast in nothing, since nothing is our own." [3668] When we have said this, and many other things which it is wearisome to repeat, and have shown that both the commencement of faith and perseverance to the end are gifts of God; and that it is impossible that God should not foreknow any of His future gifts, as well what should be given as to whom they should be given; and that thus those whom He delivers and crowns are predestinated by Him; they think it well to reply, "that the assertion of predestination is opposed to the advantage of preaching, for the reason that when this is heard no one can be stirred up by the incentives of rebuke." When they say this, "they are unwilling that it should be declared to men, that coming to the faith and abiding in the faith are God's gifts, lest despair rather than encouragement should appear to be suggested, inasmuch as they who hear think that it is uncertain to human ignorance on whom God bestows, or on whom He does not bestow, these gifts." Why, then, do they themselves also preach with us that wisdom and continency are God's gifts? But if, when these things are declared to be God's gifts, there is no hindrance of the exhortation with which we exhort men to be wise and continent; what is after all the reason for their thinking that the exhortation is hindered wherewith we exhort men to come to the faith, and to abide in it to the end, if these also are said to be God's gifts, as is proved by the Scriptures, which are His witnesses?

Footnotes

[3664] Jas. i. 5. [3665] Prov. ii. 6. [3666] Wisd. viii. 21. [3667] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [3668] Cyprian, Testimonies, iii. 4; see The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 528.


Chapter 44.--Exhortation to Wisdom, Though Wisdom is God's Gift.

Now, to say nothing more of continency, and to argue in this place of wisdom alone, certainly the Apostle James above mentioned says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, modest, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, inestimable, without simulation." [3669] Do you not see, I beseech you, how this wisdom descends from the Father of Lights, laden with many and great benefits? Because, as the same apostle says, "Every excellent gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights." [3670] Why, then--to set aside other matters--do we rebuke the impure and contentious, to whom we nevertheless preach that the gift of God is wisdom, pure and peaceable; and are not afraid that they should be influenced, by the uncertainty of the divine will, to find in this preaching more of despair than of exhortation; and that they should not be stirred up by the incentives of rebuke rather against us than against themselves, because we rebuke them for not having those things which we ourselves say are not produced by human will, but are given by the divine liberality? Finally, why did the preaching of this grace not deter the Apostle James from rebuking restless souls, and saying, "If ye have bitter envying, and contentions are in your hearts, glory not, and be not liars against the truth. This is not the wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, animal, devilish; for where envying and contention are, there are inconstancy and every evil work"? [3671] As, therefore, the restless are to be rebuked, both by the testimony of the divine declarations, and by those very impulses of ours which they have in common with ourselves; and is it no argument against this rebuke that we declare the peaceful wisdom, whereby the contentions are corrected and healed, to be the gift of God; unbelievers are in such wise to be rebuked, as those who do not abide in the faith, without any hindrance to that rebuke from the preaching of God's grace, although that preaching commends that very grace and the continuance in it as the gifts of God. Because, although wisdom is obtained from faith, even as James himself, when he had said, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given," [3672] immediately added, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering:" it is not, nevertheless, because faith is given before it is asked for by him to whom it is given, that it must therefore be said not to be the gift of God, but to be of ourselves, because it is given to us without our asking for it! For the apostle very plainly says, "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." [3673] From whom, therefore, are peace and love, from Him also is faith; wherefore, from Him we ask not only that it may be increased to those that possess it, but also that it may be given to those that possess it not.

Footnotes

[3669] Jas. iii. 17. [3670] Jas. iii. 17. [3671] Jas. iii. 14. [3672] Jas. i. 5. [3673] Eph. vi. 23.


Chapter 45.--Exhortation to Other Gifts of God in Like Manner.

Nor do those on whose account I am saying these things, who cry out that exhortation is checked by the preaching of predestination and grace, exhort to those gifts alone which they contend are not given by God, but are from ourselves, such as are the beginning of faith, and perseverance in it even to the end. This certainly they ought to do, in such a way as only to exhort unbelievers to believe, and believers to continue to believe. But those things which with us they do not deny to be God's gifts, so as that with us they demolish the error of the Pelagians, such as modesty, continence, patience, and other virtues that pertain to a holy life, and are obtained by faith from the Lord, they ought to show as needing to be prayed for, and to pray for only, either for themselves or others; but they ought not to exhort any one to strive after them and retain them. But when they exhort to these things, according to their ability, and confess that men ought to be exhorted,--certainly they show plainly enough that exhortations are not hindered by that preaching, whether they are exhortations to faith or to perseverance to the end, because we also preach that such things are God's gifts, and are not given by any man to himself, but are given by God.


Chapter 46.--A Man Who Does Not Persevere Fails by His Own Fault.

But it is said, "It is by his own fault that any one deserts the faith, when he yields and consents to the temptation which is the cause of his desertion of the faith." Who denies it? But because of this, perseverance in the faith is not to be said not to be a gift of God. For it is this that a man daily asks for when he says, "Lead us not into temptation;" [3674] and if he is heard, it is this that he receives. And thus as he daily asks for perseverance, he assuredly places the hope of his perseverance not in himself, but in God. I, however, am loth to exaggerate the case with my words, but I rather leave it to them to consider, and see what it is of which they have persuaded themselves--to wit, "that by the preaching of predestination, more of despair than of exhortation is impressed upon the hearers." For this is to say that a man then despairs of his salvation when he has learned to place his hope not in himself, but in God, although the prophet cries, "Cursed is he who has his hope in man." [3675]

Footnotes

[3674] Matt. vi. 13. [3675] Jer. xvii. 5.


Chapter 47.--Predestination is Sometimes Signified Under the Name of Foreknowledge.

These gifts, therefore, of God, which are given to the elect who are called according to God's purpose, among which gifts is both the beginning of belief and perseverance in the faith to the termination of this life, as I have proved by such a concurrent testimony of reasons and authorities,--these gifts of God, I say, if there is no such predestination as I am maintaining, are not foreknown by God. But they are foreknown. This, therefore, is the predestination which I maintain. [XVIII.] Consequently sometimes the same predestination is signified also under the name of foreknowledge; as says the apostle, "God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew." [3676] Here, when he says, "He foreknew," the sense is not rightly understood except as "He predestinated," as is shown by the context of the passage itself. For he was speaking of the remnant of the Jews which were saved, while the rest perished. For above he had said that the prophet had declared to Israel, "All day long I have stretched forth my hands to an unbelieving and a gainsaying people." [3677] And as if it were answered, What, then, has become of the promises of God to Israel? he added in continuation, "I say, then, has God cast away His people? God forbid! for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Then he added the words which I am now treating: "God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew." And in order to show that the remnant had been left by God's grace, not by any merits of their works, he went on to add, "Know ye not what the Scripture saith in Elias, in what way he maketh intercession with God against Israel?" [3678] and the rest. "But what," says he, "saith the answer of God unto him? `I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee before Baal.'" [3679] For He says not, "There are left to me," or "They have reserved themselves to me," but, "I have reserved to myself." "Even so, then, at this present time also there is made a remnant by the election of grace. And if of grace, then it is no more by works; otherwise grace is no more grace." And connecting this with what I have above quoted, "What then?" [3680] and in answer to this inquiry, he says, "Israel hath not obtained that which he was seeking for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Therefore, in the election, and in this remnant which were made so by the election of grace, he wished to be understood the people which God did not reject, because He foreknew them. This is that election by which He elected those, whom He willed, in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without spot in His sight, in love, predestinating them unto the adoption of sons. No one, therefore, who understands these things is permitted to doubt that, when the apostle says, "God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew," He intended to signify predestination. For He foreknew the remnant which He should make so according to the election of grace. That is, therefore, He predestinated them; for without doubt He foreknew if He predestinated; but to have predestinated is to have foreknown that which He should do.

Footnotes

[3676] Rom. xi. 2. [3677] Rom. x. 21 et seq. [3678] Rom. xi. 4 et seq. [3679] Rom. xi. 5. [3680] Rom. xi. 7.


Chapter 48 [XIX.]--Practice of Cyprian and Ambrose.

What, then, hinders us, when we read of God's foreknowledge in some commentators on God's word, and they are treating of the calling of the elect, from understanding the same predestination? For they would perchance have rather used in this matter this word which, moreover, is better understood, and which is not inconsistent with, nay, is in accordance with, the truth which is declared concerning the predestination of grace. This I know, that no one has been able to dispute, except erroneously, against that predestination which I am maintaining in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. Yet I think that they who ask for the opinions of commentators on this matter ought to be satisfied with men so holy and so laudably celebrated everywhere in the faith and Christian doctrine as Cyprian and Ambrose, of whom I have given such clear testimonies; and that for both doctrines--that is, that they should both believe absolutely and preach everywhere that the grace of God is gratuitous, as we must believe and declare it to be; and that they should not think that preaching opposed to the preaching whereby we exhort the indolent or rebuke the evil; because these celebrated men also, although they were preaching God's grace in such a manner as that one of them said, "That we must boast in nothing, because nothing is our own;" [3681] and the other, "Our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power;" [3682] yet ceased not to exhort and rebuke, in order that the divine commands might be obeyed. Neither were they afraid of its being said to them, "Why do you exhort us, and why do you rebuke us, if no good thing that we have is from us, and if our hearts are not in our own power?" These holy men could by no means fear that such things should be said to them, since they were of the mind to understand that it is given to very few to receive the teaching of salvation through God Himself, or through the angels of heaven, without any human preaching to them; but that it is given to many to believe in God through human agency. Yet, in whatever manner the word of God is spoken to man, beyond a doubt for man to hear it in such a way as to obey it, is God's gift.

Footnotes

[3681] Cyprian, Testimonies, iii. 4, as above. [3682] Ambrose, On Flight from the World, ch. 1.


Chapter 49.--Further References to Cyprian and Ambrose.

Wherefore, the above-mentioned most excellent commentators on the divine declarations both preached the true grace of God as it ought to be preached,--that is, as a grace preceded by no human deservings,--and urgently exhorted to the doing of the divine commandments, that they who might have the gift of obedience should hear what commands they ought to obey. For if any merits of ours precede grace, certainly it is the merit of some deed, or word, or thought, wherein also is understood a good will itself. But he very briefly summed up the kinds of all deservings who said, "We must glory in nothing, because nothing is our own." And he who says, "Our heart and our thoughts are not in our own power," did not pass over acts and words also, for there is no act or word of man which does not proceed from the heart and the thought. But what more could that most glorious martyr and most luminous doctor Cyprian say concerning this matter, than when he impressed upon us that it behoves us to pray, in the Lord's Prayer, even for the adversaries of the Christian faith, showing what he thought of the beginning of the faith, that it also is God's gift, and pointing out that the Church of Christ prays daily for perseverance unto the end, because none but God gives that perseverance to those who have persevered? Moreover, the blessed Ambrose, when he was expounding the passage where the Evangelist Luke says, "It seemed good to me also," [3683] says, "What he declares to have seemed good to himself cannot have seemed good to him alone. For not alone by human will did it seem good, but as it pleased Him who speaks in me, Christ, who effects that that which is good may also seem good to us: for whom He has mercy on He also calls. And therefore he who follows Christ may answer, when he is asked why he wished to become a Christian, `It seemed good to me also.' And when he says this, he does not deny that it seemed good to God; for the will of men is prepared by God. For it is God's grace that God should be honoured by the saint." [3684] Moreover, in the same work,--that is, in the exposition of the same Gospel, when he had come to that place where the Samaritans would not receive the Lord when His face was as going to Jerusalem,--he says, "Learn at the same time that He would not be received by those who were not converted in simpleness of mind. For if He had been willing, He would have made them devout who were undevout. And why they would not receive Him, the evangelist himself mentioned, saying, `Because His face was as of one going towards Jerusalem.' [3685] But the disciples earnestly desired to be received into Samaria. But God calls those whom He makes worthy, and makes religious whom He will." [3686] What more evident, what more manifest do we ask from commentators on God's word, if we are pleased to hear from them what is clear in the Scriptures? But to these two, who ought to be enough, let us add also a third, the holy Gregory, who testifies that it is the gift of God both to believe in God and to confess what we believe, saying, "I beg of you confess the Trinity of one godhead; but if ye wish otherwise, say that it is of one nature, and God will be besought that a voice shall be given to you by the Holy Spirit;" that is, God will be besought to allow a voice to be given to you by which you may confess what you believe. "For He will give, I am certain. He who gave what is first, will give also what is second." [3687] He who gave belief, will also give confession.

Footnotes

[3683] Luke i. 3. [3684] Ambrose On Luke, in the exposition of the prologue. [3685] Luke ix. 53. [3686] Ambrose, On Luke, Book 7, ch. 27. [3687] Greg. of Nazianz. Orat. 44 in Pentecosten.


Chapter 50.--Obedience Not Discouraged by Preaching God's Gifts.

Such doctors, and so great as these, when they say that there is nothing of which we may boast as if of our own which God has not given us, and that our very heart and our thoughts are not in our own power; and when they give the whole to God, and confess that from Him we receive that we are converted to Him in such wise as to continue,--that that which is good appears also to us to be good, and we wish for it,--that we honour God and receive Christ,--that from undevout people we are made devout and religious,--that we believe in the Trinity itself, and also confess with our voice what we believe:--certainly attribute all these things to God's grace, acknowledge them as God's gifts, and testify that they come to us from Him, and are not from ourselves. But will any one say that they in such wise confessed that grace of God as to venture to deny His foreknowledge,which not only learned but unlearned men also confess? Again, if they had so known that God gives these things that they were not ignorant that He foreknew that He would give them, and could not have been ignorant to whom He would give them: beyond a doubt they had known the predestination which, as preached by the apostles, we laboriously and diligently maintain against the modern heretics. Nor would it be with any manner of justice said, nevertheless, to them because they preach obedience, and fervently exhort, to the extent of the ability of each one, to its practice, "If you do not wish that the obedience to which you are stirring us up should grow cold in our heart, forbear to preach to us that grace of God by which you confess that God gives what you are exhorting us to do."


Chapter 51 [XX.]--Predestination Must Be Preached.

Wherefore, if both the apostles and the teachers of the Church who succeeded them and imitated them did both these things,--that is, both truly preached the grace of God which is not given according to our merits, and inculcated by wholesome precepts a pious obedience,--what is it which these people of our time think themselves rightly bound by the invincible force of truth to say, "Even if what is said of the predestination of God's benefits be true, yet it must not be preached to the people"? [3688] It must absolutely be preached, so that he who has ears to hear, may hear. And who has them if he has not received them from Him who says, "I will give them a heart to know me, and ears to hear?" [3689] Assuredly, he who has not received may reject; while, yet, he who receives may take and drink, may drink and live. For as piety must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, God may be rightly worshipped; modesty must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, no illicit act may be perpetrated by his fleshly nature; charity must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, God and his neighbours may be loved;--so also must be preached such a predestination of God's benefits that he who has ears to hear may glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

Footnotes

[3688] In the Letters of Prosper and Hilary, printed among Augustin's Letters, Nos. 225 and 226. [3689] Baruch ii. 31.


Chapter 52.--Previous Writings Anticipatively Refuted the Pelagian Heresy.

But in respect of their saying "that it was not necessary that the hearts of so many people of little intelligence should be disquieted by the uncertainty of this kind of disputation, since the catholic faith has been defended for so many years, with no less advantage, without this definition of predestination, as well against others as especially against the Pelagians, in so many books that have gone before, as well of catholics and others as our own;" [3690] --I much wonder that they should say this, and not observe--to say nothing of other writings in this place--that those very treatises of mine were both composed and published before the Pelagians had begun to appear; and that they do not see in how many passages of those treatises I was unawares cutting down a future Pelagian heresy, by preaching the grace by which God delivers us from evil errors and from our habits, without any preceding merits of ours,--doing this according to His gratuitous mercy. And this I began more fully to apprehend in that disputation which I wrote to Simplicianus, the bishop of the Church of Milan, of blessed memory, in the beginning of my episcopate, when, moreover, I both perceived and asserted that the beginning of faith is God's gift.

Footnotes

[3690] The Epistle of Hilary in Augustin's Letters, 226, ch. 8.


Chapter 53.--Augustin's "Confessions."

And which of my smaller works has been able to be more generally and more agreeably known than the books of my Confessions? And although I published them before the Pelagian heresy had come into existence, certainly in them I said to my God, and said it frequently, "Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou willest." [3691] Which words of mine, Pelagius at Rome, when they were mentioned in his presence by a certain brother and fellow bishop of mine, could not bear; and contradicting somewhat too excitedly, nearly came to a quarrel with him who had mentioned them. But what, indeed, does God primarily and chiefly command, but that we believe on Him? And this, therefore, He Himself gives, if it is well said to Him, "Give what Thou commandest." And, moreover, in those same books, in respect of what I have related concerning my conversion, when God converted me to that faith which, with a most miserable and raging talkativeness, I was destroying, do you not remember that it was so narrated how I showed that I was granted to the faithful and daily tears of my mother, that I should not perish? [3692] Where certainly I declared that God by His grace converted to the true faith the wills of men, which were not only averse to it, but even adverse to it. Further, in what manner I besought God concerning my growth in perseverance, you know, and you are able to review if you wish it. Therefore, that all the gifts of God which in that work I either asked for or praised, were foreknown by God that He would give, and that He could never be ignorant of the persons to whom He would give them, who can dare, I will not say to deny, but even to doubt? This is the manifest and assured predestination of the saints, which subsequently necessity compelled me more carefully and laboriously to defend when I was already disputing against the Pelagians. For I learnt that each special heresy introduced its own peculiar questions into the Church--against which the sacred Scripture might be more carefully defended than if no such necessity compelled their defence. And what compelled those passages of Scripture in which predestination is commended to be defended more abundantly and clearly by that labour of mine, than the fact that the Pelagians say that God's grace is given according to our merits; for what else is this than an absolute denial of grace?

Footnotes

[3691] Confessions, Book x. chs. 19, 31, and 37. [3692] Confessions, Book iii. chs. 11 and 12, Book ix. ch. 8.


Chapter 54 [XXI.]--Beginning and End of Faith is of God.

Therefore that this opinion, which is unpleasing to God, and hostile to those gratuitous benefits of God whereby we are delivered, may be destroyed, I maintain that both the beginning of faith and the perseverance therein, even to the end, are, according to the Scriptures--of which I have already quoted many--God's gifts. Because if we say that the beginning of faith is of ourselves, so that by it we deserve to receive other gifts of God, the Pelagians conclude that God's grace is given according to our merits. And this the catholic faith held in such dread, that Pelagius himself, in fear of condemnation, condemned it. And, moreover, if we say that our perseverance is of ourselves, not of God, they answer that we have the beginning of our faith of ourselves in such wise as the end, thus arguing that we have that beginning of ourselves much more, if of ourselves we have the continuance unto the end, since to perfect is much greater than to begin; and thus repeatedly they conclude that the grace of God is given according to our merits. But if both are God's gifts, and God foreknew that He would give these His gifts (and who can deny this?), predestination must be preached,--that God's true grace, that is, the grace which is not given according to our merits, may be maintained with insuperable defence.


Chapter 55.--Testimony of His Previous Writings and Letters.

And, indeed, in that treatise of which the title is, Of Rebuke and Grace, [3693] which could not suffice for all my lovers, I think that I have so established that it is the gift of God also to persevere to the end, as I have either never before or almost never so expressly and evidently maintained this in writing, unless my memory deceives me. But I have now said this in a way in which no one before me has said it. Certainly the blessed Cyprian, in the Lord's Prayer, as I have already shown, so explained our petitions as to say that in its very first petition we were asking for perseverance, asserting that we pray for it when we say, "Hallowed be Thy name," [3694] although we have been already hallowed in baptism,--so that we may persevere in that which we have begun to be. Let those, however, to whom, in their love for me, I ought not to be ungrateful, who profess that they embrace, over and above that which comes into the argument, all my views, as you write,--let those, I say, see whether, in the latter portions of the first book of those two which I wrote in the beginning of my episcopate, before the appearance of the Pelagian heresy, to Simplicianus, the bishop of Milan, [3695] there remained anything whereby it might be called in question that God's grace is not given according to our merits; and whether I have not there sufficiently argued that even the beginning of faith is God's gift; and whether from what is there said it does not by consequence result, although it is not expressed, that even perseverance to the end is not given, except by Him who has predestinated us to His kingdom and glory. Then, did not I many years ago publish that letter which I had already written to the holy Paulinus, [3696] bishop of Nola, against the Pelagians, which they have lately begun to contradict? Let them also look into that letter which I sent to Sixtus, the presbyter of the Roman Church [3697] when we contended in a very sharp conflict against the Pelagians, and they will find it such as is that one to Paulinus. Whence they may gather that the same sort of things were already said and written several years ago against the Pelagian heresy, and that it is to be wondered at that these should now displease them; although I should wish that no one would so embrace all my views as to follow me, except in those things in which he should see me not to have erred. For I am now writing treatises in which I have undertaken to retract my smaller works, for the purpose of demonstrating that even I myself have not in all things followed myself; but I think that, with God's mercy, I have written progressively, and not begun from perfection; since, indeed, I speak more arrogantly than truly, if even now I say that I have at length in this age of mine arrived at perfection, without any error in what I write. But the difference is in the extent and the subject of an error, and in the facility with which any one corrects it, or the pertinacity with which one endeavours to defend his error. Certainly there is good hope of that man whom the last day of this life shall find so progressing that whatever was wanting to his progress may be added to him, and that he should be adjudged rather to need perfecting than punishment.

Footnotes

[3693] On Rebuke and Grace, ch. 10. [3694] Matt. vi. 9. [3695] Two books to Simplicianus. [3696] Letter to Paulinus, 168. [3697] Letter to Sixtus, 194.


Chapter 56.--God Gives Means as Well as End.

Wherefore if I am unwilling to appear ungrateful to men who have loved me, because some advantage of my labour has attained to them before they loved me, how much rather am I unwilling to be ungrateful to God, whom we should not love unless He had first loved us and made us to love Him! since love is of Him, [3698] as they have said whom He made not only His great lovers, but also His great preachers. And what is more ungrateful than to deny the grace of God itself, by saying that it is given to us according to our merits? And this the catholic faith shuddered at in the Pelagians, and this it objected to Pelagius himself as a capital crime; and this Pelagius himself condemned, not indeed from love of God's truth, but yet for fear of his own condemnation. But whoever as a faithful catholic is horrified to say that the grace of God is given according to our merits, let him not withdraw faith itself from God's grace, whereby he obtained mercy that he should be faithful; and thus let him attribute also perseverance to the end to God's grace, whereby he obtains the mercy which he daily asks for, not to be led into temptation. But between the beginning of faith and the perfection of perseverance there are those means whereby we live righteously, which they themselves are agreed in regarding as given by God to us at the prayer of faith. And all these things--the beginning of faith, to wit, and His other gifts even to the end--God foreknew that He would bestow on His called. It is a matter therefore, of too excessive contentiousness to contradict predestination, or to doubt concerning predestination.

Footnotes

[3698] 1 John iv. 7.


Chapter 57 [XXII.]--How Predestination Must Be Preached So as Not to Give Offence.

And yet this doctrine must not be preached to congregations in such a way as to seem to an unskilled multitude, or a people of slower understanding, to be in some measure confuted by that very preaching of it. Just as even the foreknowledge of God, which certainly men cannot deny, seems to be refuted if it be said to them, "Whether you run or sleep, you shall be that which He who cannot be deceived has foreknown you to be." And it is the part of a deceitful or an unskilled physician so to compound even a useful medicament, that it either does no good or does harm. But it must be said, "So run that you may lay hold; [3699] and thus by your very running you may know yourselves to be foreknown as those who should run lawfully:" and in whatever other manner the foreknowledge of God may be so preached, that the slothfulness of man may be repulsed.

Footnotes

[3699] 1 Cor. ix. 24.


Chapter 58.--The Doctrine to Be Applied with Discrimination.

Now, therefore, the definite determination of God's will concerning predestination is of such a kind that some from unbelief receive the will to obey, and are converted to the faith or persevere in the faith, while others who abide in the delight of damnable sins, even if they have been predestinated, have not yet arisen, because the aid of pitying grace has not yet lifted them up. For if any are not yet called whom by His grace He has predestinated to be elected, they will receive that grace whereby they may will to be elected, and may be so; and if any obey, but have not been predestinated to His kingdom and glory, they are for a season, and will not abide in the same obedience to the end. Although, then, these things are true, yet they must not be so said to the multitude of hearers as that the address may be applied to themselves also, and those words of those people may be said to them which you have set down in your letter, and which I have above introduced: "The definite determination of God's will concerning predestination is of such a kind that some of you from unbelief shall receive the will to obey, and come to the faith." What need is there for saying, "Some of you"? For if we speak to God's Church, if we speak to believers, why do we say that "some of them" had come to the faith, and seem to do a wrong to the rest, when we may more fittingly say the definite determination of the will of God concerning predestination is of such a kind that from unbelief you shall receive the will to obey, and come to the faith, and shall receive perseverance, and abide to the end?


Chapter 59.--Offence to Be Avoided.

Neither is what follows by any means to be said,--that is, "But others of you who abide in the delight of sins have not yet arisen, because the aid of pitying grace has not yet lifted you up;" when it may be and ought to be well and conveniently said, "But if any of you are still delaying in the delightfulness of damnable sins, lay hold of the most wholesome discipline; and yet when you have done this be not lifted up, as if by your own works, nor boast as if you had not received this. For it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do for His good will, [3700] and your steps are directed by the Lord, so that you choose His way. [3701] But of your own good and righteous course, learn carefully that it is attributable to the predestination of divine grace."

Footnotes

[3700] Phil. i. 13. [3701] Ps. xxxvii. 23.


Chapter 60.--The Application to the Church in General.

Moreover, what follows where it is said, "But yet if any of you are not yet called, whom by his grace He has predestinated to be called, you shall receive that grace whereby you shall will to be, and be, elected," is said more hardly than it could be said if we consider that we are speaking not to men in general, but to the Church of Christ. For why is it not rather said thus: "And if any of you are not yet called, let us pray for them that they may be called. For perchance they are so predestinated as to be granted to our prayers, and to receive that grace whereby they may will, and be made elected"? For God, who fulfilled all that He predestinated, has willed us also to pray for the enemies of the faith, that we might hence understand that He Himself also gives to the unbelievers the gift of faith, and makes willing men out of those that were unwilling.


Chapter 61.--Use of the Third Person Rather Than the Second.

But now I marvel if any weak brother among the Christian congregation can hear in any way with patience what is connected with these words, when it is said to them, "And if any of you obey, if you are predestinated to be rejected, the power of obeying will be withdrawn from you, that you may cease to obey." For what does saying this seem, except to curse, or in a certain way to predict evils? But if, however, it is desirable or necessary to say anything concerning those who do not persevere, why is it not rather at least said in such a way as was a little while ago said by me,--first of all, so that this should be said, not of them who hear in the congregation, but about others to them; that is, that it should not be said, "If any of you obey, if you are predestinated to be rejected," but, "If any obey," and the rest, using the third person of the verb, not the second? For it is not to be said to be desirable, but abominable, and it is excessively harsh and hateful to fly as it were into the face of an audience with abuse, when he who speaks to them says, "And if there are any of you who obey, and are predestinated to be rejected, the power of obedience shall be withdrawn from you, that you may cease to obey." For what is wanting to the doctrine if it is thus expressed: "But if any obey, and are not predestinated to His kingdom and glory, they are only for a season, and shall not continue in that obedience unto the end"? Is not the same thing said both more truly and more fittingly, so that we may seem not as it were to be desiring so much for them, as to relate of others the evil which they hate, and think does not belong to them, by hoping and praying for better things? But in that manner in which they think that it must be said, the same judgment may be pronounced almost in the same words also of God's foreknowledge, which certainly they cannot deny, so as to say, "And if any of you obey, if you are foreknown to be rejected you shall cease to obey." Doubtless this is very true, assuredly it is; but it is very monstrous, very inconsiderate, and very unsuitable, not by its false declaration, but by its declaration not wholesomely applied to the health of human infirmity.


Chapter 62.--Prayer to Be Inculcated, Nevertheless.

But I do not think that manner which I have said should be adopted in the preaching of predestination ought to be sufficient for him who speaks to the congregation, except he adds this, or something of this kind, saying, "You, therefore, ought also to hope for that perseverance in obedience from the Father of Lights, from whom cometh down every excellent gift and every perfect gift, [3702] and to ask for it in your daily prayers; and in doing this ought to trust that you are not aliens from the predestination of His people, because it is He Himself who bestows even the power of doing this. And far be it from you to despair of yourselves, because you are bidden to have your hope in Him, not in yourselves. For cursed is every one who has hope in man; [3703] and it is good rather to trust in the Lord than to trust in man, because blessed are all they that put their trust in Him. [3704] Holding this hope, serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling. [3705] Because no one can be certain of the life eternal which God who does not lie has promised to the children of promise before the times of eternity,--no one, unless that life of his, which is a state of trial upon the earth, is completed. [3706] But He will make us to persevere in Himself unto the end of that life, since we daily say to Him, `Lead us not into temptation.'" [3707] When these things and things of this kind are said, whether to few Christians or to the multitude of the Church, why do we fear to preach the predestination of the saints and the true grace of God,--that is, the grace which is not given according to our merits,--as the Holy Scripture declares it? Or, indeed, must it be feared that a man should then despair of himself when his hope is shown to be placed in God, and should not rather despair of himself if he should, in his excess of pride and unhappiness, place it in himself?

Footnotes

[3702] Jas. i. 17. [3703] Jas. xvii. 5. [3704] Ps. cxviii. 8. [3705] Ps. ii. 12. [3706] Job vii. 1. [3707] Matt. vi. 13.


Chapter 63 [XXIII.]--The Testimony of the Whole Church in Her Prayers.

And I wish that those who are slow and weak of heart, who cannot, or cannot as yet, understand the Scriptures or the explanations of them, would so hear or not hear our arguments in this question as to consider more carefully their prayers, which the Church has always used and will use, even from its beginnings until this age shall be completed. For of this matter, which I am now compelled not only to mention, but even to protect and defend against these new heretics, the Church has never been silent in its prayers, although in its discourses it has not thought that it need be put forth, as there was no adversary compelling it. For when was not prayer made in the Church for unbelievers and its opponents that they should believe? When has any believer had a friend, a neighbour, a wife, who did not believe, and has not asked on their behalf from the Lord for a mind obedient to the Christian faith? And who has there ever been who has not prayed for himself that he might abide in the Lord? And who has dared, not only with his voice, but even in thought, to blame the priest who invokes the Lord on behalf of believers, if at any time he has said, "Give to them, O Lord, perseverance in Thee to the end!" and has not rather responded, over such a benediction of his, as well with confessing lips as believing heart, "Amen"? Since in the Lord's Prayer itself the believers do not pray for anything else, especially when they say that petition, "Lead us not into temptation," save that they may persevere in holy obedience. As, therefore, the Church has both been born and grows and has grown in these prayers, so it has been born and grows and has grown in this faith, by which faith it is believed that God's grace is not given according to the merits of the receivers. For, certainly, the Church would not pray that faith should be given to unbelievers, unless it believed that God converts to Himself both the averse and adverse wills of men. Nor would the Church pray that it might persevere in the faith of Christ, not deceived nor overcome by the temptations of the world, unless it believed that the Lord has our heart in His power, in such wise as that the good which we do not hold save by our own will, we nevertheless do not hold except He worketh in us to will also. For if the Church indeed asks these things from Him, but thinks that the same things are given to itself by itself, it makes use of prayers which are not true, but perfunctory,--which be far from us! For who truly groans, desiring to receive what he prays for from the Lord, if he thinks that he receives it from himself, and not from the Lord?


Chapter 64.--In What Sense the Holy Spirit Solicits for Us, Crying, Abba, Father.

And this especially since "we know not what to pray for as we ought," says the apostle, "but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to God." [3708] What is "the Spirit Himself maketh intercession," but, "causes to make intercession," "with groanings that cannot be uttered," but "truthful," since the Spirit is truth? For He it is of whom the apostle says in another place, "God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, "crying, Abba, Father!" [3709] And here what is the meaning of "crying," but "making to cry," by that figure of speech whereby we call a day that makes people glad, a glad day? And this he makes plain elsewhere when he says, "For you have not received the Spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the Spirit of the adoption of sons, in whom we cry, Abba, Father." [3710] He there said, "crying," but here, "in whom we cry;" opening up, that is to say, the meaning with which he said "crying,"--that is, as I have already explained, "causing to cry," when we understand that this is also itself the gift of God, that with a true heart and spiritually we cry to God. Let them, therefore, observe how they are mistaken who think that our seeking, asking, knocking is of ourselves, and is not given to us; and say that this is the case because grace is preceded by our merits; that it follows them when we ask and receive, and seek and find, and it is opened to us when we knock. And they will not understand that this is also of the divine gift, that we pray; that is, that we ask, seek, and knock. For we have received the spirit of adoption of sons, in which we cry, Abba, Father. And this the blessed Ambrose also said. [3711] For he says, "To pray to God also is the work of spiritual grace, as it is written, No one says, Jesus is the Lord, but in the Holy Spirit."

Footnotes

[3708] Rom. iii. 26. [3709] Gal. iv. 6. [3710] Rom. viii. 15. [3711] Ambrose, Commentary on Isaiah.


Chapter 65.--The Church's Prayers Imply the Church's Faith.

These things, therefore, which the Church asks from the Lord, and always has asked from the time she began to exist, God so foreknew that He would give to His called, that He has already given them in predestination itself; as the apostle declares without any ambiguity. For, writing to Timothy, he says, "Labour along with the gospel according to the power of God, who saves us, and calls us with His holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of eternity, but is now made manifest by the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ." [3712] Let him, therefore, say that the Church at any time has not had in its belief the truth of this predestination and grace, which is now maintained with a more careful heed against the late heretics; let him say this who dares to say that at any time it has not prayed, or not truthfully prayed, as well that unbelievers might believe, as that believers might persevere. And if the Church has always prayed for these benefits, it has always believed them to be certainly God's gifts; nor was it ever right for it to deny that they were foreknown by Him. And thus Christ's Church has never failed to hold the faith of this predestination, which is now being defended with new solicitude against these modern heretics.

Footnotes

[3712] 2 Tim. i. 8, etc.


Chapter 66 [XXIV.]--Recapitulation and Exhortation.

But what more shall I say? I think that I have taught sufficiently, or rather more than sufficiently, that both the beginning of faith in the Lord, and continuance in the Lord unto the end, are God's gifts. And other good things which pertain to a good life, whereby God is rightly worshipped, even they themselves on whose behalf I am writing this treatise concede to be God's gifts. Further, they cannot deny that God has foreknown all His gifts, and the people on whom He was going to bestow them. As, therefore, other things must be preached so that he who preaches them may be heard with obedience, so predestination must be preached so that he who hears these things with obedience may glory not in man, and therefore not in himself, but in the Lord; for this also is God's precept, and to hear this precept with obedience--to wit, that he who glories should glory in the Lord [3713] --in like manner as the rest, is God's gift. And he who has not this gift,--I shrink not from saying it,--whatever others he has, has them in vain. That the Pelagians may have this we pray, and that our own brethren may have it more abundantly. Let us not, therefore, be prompt in arguments and indolent in prayers. Let us pray, dearly beloved, let us pray that the God of grace may give even to our enemies, and especially to our brethren and lovers, to understand and confess that after that great and unspeakable ruin wherein we have all fallen in one, no one is delivered save by God's grace, and that grace is not repaid according to the merits of the receivers as if it were due, but is given freely as true grace, with no merits preceding.

Footnotes

[3713] 1 Cor. i. 31.


Chapter 67.--The Most Eminent Instance of Predestination is Christ Jesus.

But there is no more illustrious instance of predestination than Jesus Himself, concerning which also I have already argued in the former treatise; [3714] and in the end of this I have chosen to insist upon it. There is no more eminent instance, I say, of predestination than the Mediator Himself. If any believer wishes thoroughly to understand this doctrine, let him consider Him, and in Him he will find himself also. The believer, I say; who in Him believes and confesses the true human nature that is our own, however singularly elevated by assumption by God the Word into the only Son of God, so that He who assumed, and what He assumed, should be one person in Trinity. For it was not a Quaternity that resulted from the assumption of man, but it remained a Trinity, inasmuch as that assumption ineffably made the truth of one person in God and man. Because we say that Christ was not only God, as the Manichean heretics contend; nor only man, as the Photinian heretics assert; nor in such wise man as to have less of anything which of a certainty pertains to human nature,--whether a soul, or in the soul itself a rational mind, or flesh not taken of the woman, but made from the Word converted and changed into flesh,--all which three false and empty notions have made the three various and diverse parties of the Apollinarian heretics; but we say that Christ was true God, born of God the Father without any beginning of time; and that He was also true or very man, born of human mother in the certain fulness of time; and that His humanity, whereby He is less than the Father, does not diminish aught from His divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father. For both of them are One Christ--who, moreover, most truly said in respect of the God, "I and the Father are one;" [3715] and most truly said in respect of the man, "My Father is greater than I." [3716] He, therefore, who made of the seed of David this righteous man, who never should be unrighteous, without any merit of His preceding will, is the same who also makes righteous men of unrighteous, without any merit of their will preceding; that He might be the head, and they His members. He, therefore, who made that man with no precedent merits of His, neither to deduce from His origin nor to commit by His will any sin which should be remitted to Him, the same makes believers on Him with no preceding merits of theirs, to whom He forgives all sin. He who made Him such that He never had or should have an evil will, the same makes in His members a good will out of an evil one. Therefore He predestinated both Him and us, because both in Him that He might be our head, and in us that we should be His body, He foreknew that our merits would not precede, but that His doings should.

Footnotes

[3714] On the Predestination of the Saints, Book i. ch. 30. [3715] John x. 30. [3716] John xiv. 28.


Chapter 68.--Conclusion.

Let those who read this, if they understand, give God thanks, and let those who do not understand, pray that they may have the inward Teacher, from whose presence comes knowledge and understanding. [3717] But let those who think that I am in error, consider again and again carefully what is here said, lest perchance they themselves may be mistaken. And when, by means of those who read my writings, I become not only wiser, but even more perfect, I acknowledge God's favour to me; and this I especially look for at the hands of the teachers of the Church, if what I write comes into their hands, and they condescend to acknowledge it.

Footnotes

[3717] Prov. ii. 6.
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