Writings of Augustine. A Treatise Concerning Man's Perfection in Righteousness.

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Augustin and the Pelagian Controversy.

A Treatise Concerning Man's Perfection in Righteousness.

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

Preface to the Treatise on Man's Perfection in Righteousness.

Augustin has made no mention of this treatise in his book of Retractations; for the reason, no doubt, that it belonged to the collection of the Epistles, for which he designed a separate statement of Retractations. In all the mss. this work begins with his usual epistolary salutation: "Augustin, to his holy brethren and fellow-bishops Eutropius and Paulus." And yet, by general consent, this epistle has been received as a treatise, not only in those volumes of his works which contain this work, but also in the writings of those ancient authors who quote it. Amongst these, the most renowned and acquainted with Augustin's writings, Possidius (In indiculo, 4) and Fulgentius (Ad Monimum, i. 3) expressly call this work "A Treatise on the Perfection of Man's Righteousness." So far nearly all the mss. agree, but a few (including the Codd. Audöenensis and Pratellensis) add these words to the general title: "In opposition to those who assert that it is possible for a man to become righteous by his own sole strength." In a ms. belonging to the Church of Rheims there occurs this inscription: "A Treatise on what are called the definitions of Coelestius." Prosper, in his work against the Collator, ch. 43, advises his reader to read, besides some other of Augustin's "books," that which he wrote "to the priests Paulus and Eutropius in opposition to the questions of Pelagius and Coelestius."

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From this passage of Prosper, however, in which he mentions, but with no regard to accurate order, some of the short treatises of Augustin against the Pelagians, nobody could rightly show that this work On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness was later in time than his work On Marriage and Concupiscence, or than the six books against Julianus, which are mentioned previously in the same passage by Prosper. For, indeed, at the conclusion of the present treatise, Augustin hesitates as yet to censure those persons who affirmed that men are living or have lived in this life righteously without any sin at all: their opinion Augustin, in the passage referred to (just as in his treatises On Nature and Grace, n. 3, and On the Spirit and the Letter, nn. 49, 70), does not yet think it necessary stoutly to resist. Nothing had as yet, therefore, been determined on this point; nor were there yet enacted, in opposition to this opinion, the three well-known canons (6-8) of the Council of Carthage, which was held in the year 418. Afterwards, however, on the authority of these canons, he cautions people against the opinion as a pernicious error, as one may see from many passages in his books Against the two Epistles of the Pelagians, especially Book iv. ch. x. (27), where he says: "Let us now consider that third point of theirs, which each individual member of Christ as well as His entire body regards with horror, where they contend that there are in this life, or have been, righteous persons without any sin whatever." Certainly, in the year 414, in an epistle (157) to Hilary, when answering the questions which were then being agitated in Sicily, he expresses himself in the same tone, and almost in the same language, on sinlessness, as that which he employs at the end of this present treatise. "But those persons," says he (in ch. ii. n. 4 of that epistle), "however much one may tolerate them when they affirm that there either are, or have been, men besides the one Saint of saints who have been wholly free from sin; yet when they allege that man's own free will is sufficient for fulfilling the Lord's commandments, even when unassisted by God's grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit for the performance of good works, the idea is altogether worthy of anathema and of perfect detestation." On comparing these words with the conclusion of this treatise before us, nothing will appear more probable than that the work which supplies the refutation of Coelestius' questions, which were also brought over from Sicily, was written not long after the above-mentioned epistle. This work Possidius, in his index, places immediately after the treatise On Nature and Grace, and before the book On the Proceedings of Pelagius. Augustin, however, does not mention this work in his epistle (169) which he addressed to Evodius about the end of the year 415; but he intimates in it that he had published an answer to the Commonitorium of Orosius, wherein that author stated that "the bishops Eutropius and Paulus had already given information to Augustin about certain formidable heresies." Some suppose that this statement refers to the letter which they despatched to Augustin along with Coelestius' propositions. However that be, it is not unreasonable to believe that they, not long after Orosius' arrival in Africa (that is, before the midsummer of the year 415), had sent these propositions to him, and that Augustin soon afterwards wrote back to Eutropius and Paulus a refutation of them, his answer to Orosius having been previously given.

Furthermore, Coelestius, whose name is inscribed in the propositions, "wrote to his parents from his monastery," as Gennadius informs us in his work on Church writers (De Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis), "before he fell in with the teaching of Pelagius, three letters in the shape of short treatises, necessary for all seekers after God." Afterwards he openly professed the Pelagian heresy, and published a short treatise, in which, besides other topics, he acknowledged in the Church of Carthage that even infants had redemption by being baptized into Christ,--an episcopal decision on the question having been obtained in that city about the commencement of the year 412, as we learn from an epistle to Pope Innocent (amongst the Epistles of Augustin [175, n. 1 and 6]), as well as from the epistle [157, n. 22] which we have referred to above; and from Augustin's work On the Merits of Sins, i. 62, and ii. 59; also from his treatise On Original Sin, 21; and his work Against Julianus, iii. 9. Another work by an anonymous writer, but which was commonly attributed to Coelestius, divided into chapters, is mentioned in the treatise which follows the present one, On the Proceedings of Pelagius; see chapters 29, 30, and 62. There were extant, moreover, in the year 417, several small books or tracts of Coelestius, which Augustin, in his work On the Grace of Christ, 31, 32, and 36, says were produced by Coelestius himself in some ecclesiastical proceedings at Rome under Zosimus. Augustin, at the commencement of the present work On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness, mentions an undoubted work of Coelestius as having been seen by him, from which he discovered that the definitions or propositions therein examined by Augustin were not unsuited to the tone and temper of Coelestius. This was very probably the book which Jerome quotes in his Epistle to Ctesiphon, written in the year 413 or 414. These are Jerome's words: "One of his followers [that is, Pelagius'], who was already in fact become the master and the leader of all that army, and `a vessel of wrath,' [1361] in opposition to the apostle, runs on through thickets, not of syllogisms, as his admirers are apt to boast, but of solecisms, and philosophizes and disputes to the following effect: `If I do nothing without God's help, and if everything which I shall achieve is owing to His operations solely, then it follows that it is not I who work, but only God's work is to be crowned in me. In vain, therefore, has He conferred on me the power of will, if I am unable to exercise it fully without His incessant help. That volition, indeed, is destroyed which requires the assistance of another. But it is free will which God has given to me; and free it can only remain, if I do whatever I wish. The state of the case then is this: I either use once for all the power which has been bestowed on me, so that free will is preserved; or else, if I require the assistance of another, liberty of decision in me is destroyed.'"


[1361] Rom. ix. 22.

A Treatise Concerning Man's Perfection in Righteousness,

by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;

In One Book,

addressed to eutropius and paulus, a.d. 415.

A paper containing sundry definitions, [1362] said to have been drawn up by Coelestius, was put into the hands of Augustin. In this document, Coelestius, or some person who shared in his errors, had recklessly asserted that a man had it in his power to live here without sin. Augustin first refutes the several propositions in brief answers, showing that the perfect and plenary state of righteousness, in which a man exists absolutely without sin, is unattainable without grace by the mere resources of our corrupt nature, and never occurs in this present state of existence. He next proceeds to consider the authorities which the paper contained as gathered out of the Scriptures; some of them teaching man to be "unspotted" and "perfect;" others mentioning the commandments of God as "not grievous;" while others again are quoted as opposed to the authoritative passages which the Catholics were accustomed to advance against the Pelagians.


[1362] These breves definitiones, which Augustin also calls ratiocinationes, are short argumentative statements, which may be designated breviates. Augustin to his holy brethren and fellow-bishops Eutropius and Paulus. [1363]

Chapter I.

Your love, which in both of you is so great and so holy that it is a delight to obey its commands, has laid me under an obligation to reply to some definitions which are said to be the work of Coelestius; for so runs the title of the paper which you have given me, "The definitions, so it is said, of Coelestius." As for this title, I take it that it is not his, but theirs who have brought this work from Sicily, where Coelestius is said not to be,--although many there [1364] make boastful pretension of holding views like his, and, to use the apostle's word, "being themselves deceived, lead others also astray." [1365] That these views are, however, his, or those of some associates [1366] of his, we, too, can well believe. For the above-mentioned brief definitions, or rather propositions, are by no means at variance with his opinion, such as I have seen it expressed in another work, of which he is the undoubted author. There was therefore good reason, I think, for the report which those brethren, who brought these tidings to us, heard in Sicily, that Coelestius taught or wrote such opinions. I should like, if it were possible, so to meet the obligation imposed on me by your brotherly kindness, that I, too, in my own answer should be equally brief. But unless I set forth also the propositions which I answer, who will be able to form a judgment of the value of my answer? Still I will try to the best of my ability, assisted, too, by God's mercy, by your own prayers, so to conduct the discussion as to keep it from running to an unnecessary length.


[1363] [Probably Spanish refugees; they had recently presented to Augustin a memorial against certain heresies. Oros. ad Aug. i.--W.] [1364] In his epistle (157) to Hilary, written a little while before this work, he mentions Coelestius and the condemnation of his errors in a Council held at Carthage; he expresses also some apprehension of Coelestius attempting to spread his opinions in Sicily: "Whether he be himself there," says Augustin, "or only others who are partners in his errors, there are too many of them; and, unless they be checked, they lead astray others to join their sect; and so great is their increase, that I cannot tell whither they will force their way," etc. [1365] 2 Tim. iii. 13. [1366] Sociorum ejus. It has been proposed to read sectatorum ejus,--not unsuitably (although not justified by ms. evidence), because Coelestius "had," to use Jerome's words, "by this time turned out a master with a following,--the leader of a perfect army."--Jerome's Epistle to Ctesiphon, written in the year 413 or 414.

Chapter II.--(1.) The First Breviate of Coelestius.

I. "First of all," says he, "he must be asked who denies man's ability to live without sin, what every sort of sin is,--is it such as can be avoided? or is it unavoidable? If it is unavoidable, then it is not sin; if it can be avoided, then a man can live without the sin which can be avoided. No reason or justice permits us to designate as sin what cannot in any way be avoided." Our answer to this is, that sin can be avoided, if our corrupted nature be healed by God's grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ. For, in so far as it is not sound, in so far does it either through blindness fail to see, or through weakness fail to accomplish, that which it ought to do; "for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh," [1367] so that a man does not do the things which he would.


[1367] Gal. v. 17.

(2.) The Second Breviate.

II. "We must next ask," he says, "whether sin comes from will, or from necessity? If from necessity, it is not sin; if from will, it can be avoided." We answer as before; and in order that we may be healed, we pray to Him to whom it is said in the psalm: "Lead Thou me out of my necessities." [1368]


[1368] Ps. xxv. 17.

(3.) The Third Breviate.

III. "Again we must ask," he says, "what sin is,--natural? or accidental? If natural, it is not sin; if accidental, it is separable; [1369] and if it is separable, it can be avoided; and because it can be avoided, man can be without that which can be avoided." The answer to this is, that sin is not natural; but nature (especially in that corrupt state from which we have become by nature "children of wrath" [1370] ) has too little determination of will to avoid sin, unless assisted and healed by God's grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.


[1369] [An accident "is a modification or quality which does not essentially belong to a thing, nor form one of its constituent or invariable attributes: as motion in relation to matter, or heat to iron."--Fleming: Vocabulary of Philosophy.--W.] [1370] Eph. ii. 3.

(4.) The Fourth Breviate.

IV. "We must ask, again," he says, "What is sin,--an act, or a thing? If it is a thing, it must have an author; and if it be said to have an author, then another besides God will seem to be introduced as the author of a thing. But if it is impious to say this, we are driven to confess that every sin is an act, not a thing. If therefore it is an act, for this very reason, because it is an act, it can be avoided." Our reply is, that sin no doubt is called an act, and is such, not a thing. But likewise in the body, lameness for the same reason is an act, not a thing, since it is the foot itself, or the body, or the man who walks lame because of an injured foot, that is the thing; but still the man cannot avoid the lameness, unless his foot be cured. The same change may take place in the inward man, but it is by God's grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The defect itself which causes the lameness of the man is neither the foot, nor the body, nor the man, nor indeed the lameness itself; for there is of course no lameness when there is no walking, although there is nevertheless the defect which causes the lameness whenever there is an attempt to walk. Let him therefore ask, what name must be given to this defect,--would he have it called a thing, or an act, or rather a bad property [1371] in the thing, by which the deformed act comes into existence? So in the inward man the soul is the thing, theft is an act, and avarice is the defect, that is, the property by which the soul is evil, even when it does nothing in gratification of its avarice, even when it hears the prohibition, "Thou shalt not covet," [1372] and censures itself, and yet remains avaricious. By faith, however, it receives renovation; in other words, it is healed day by day, [1373] --yet only by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.


[1371] [Coelestius had in the previous breviate confined sin to either nature or accident: Augustin declares it to be a property. By this he apparently means that it is a non-essential attribute, without which man would remain man, but yet not what is called a "separable accident."--W.] [1372] Ex. xx. 17. [1373] 2 Cor. iv. 16.

Chapter III.--(5.) The Fifth Breviate.

V. "We must again," he says, "inquire whether a man ought to be without sin. Beyond doubt he ought. If he ought, he is able; if he is not able, then he ought not. Now if a man ought not to be without sin, it follows that he ought to be with sin,--and then it ceases to be sin at all, if it is determined that it is owed. Or if it is absurd to say this, we are obliged to confess that man ought to be without sin; and it is clear that his obligation is not more than his ability." We frame our answer with the same illustration that we employed in our previous reply. When we see a lame man who has the opportunity of being cured of his lameness, we of course have a right to say: "That man ought not to be lame; and if he ought, he is able." And yet whenever he wishes he is not immediately able; but only after he has been cured by the application of the remedy, and the medicine has assisted his will. The same thing takes place in the inward man in relation to sin which is its lameness, by the grace of Him who "came not to call the righteous, but sinners;" [1374] since "the whole need not the physician, but only they that be sick." [1375]


[1374] Matt. ix. 13. [1375] Matt. ix. 12.

(6.) The Sixth Breviate.

VI. "Again," he says, "we have to inquire whether man is commanded to be without sin; for either he is not able, and then he is not commanded; or else because he is commanded, he is able. For why should that be commanded which cannot at all be done?" The answer is, that man is most wisely commanded to walk with right steps, on purpose that, when he has discovered his own inability to do even this, he may seek the remedy which is provided for the inward man to cure the lameness of sin, even the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(7.) The Seventh Breviate.

VII. "The next question we shall have to propose," he says, "is, whether God wishes that man be without sin. Beyond doubt God wishes it; and no doubt he has the ability. For who is so foolhardy as to hesitate to believe that to be possible, which he has no doubt about God's wishing?" This is the answer. If God wished not that man should be without sin, He would not have sent His Son without sin, to heal men of their sins. This takes place in believers who are being renewed day by day, [1376] until their righteousness becomes perfect, like fully restored health.


[1376] 2 Cor. iv. 16.

(8.) The Eighth Breviate.

VIII. "Again, this question must be asked," he says, "how God wishes man to be,--with sin, or without sin? Beyond doubt, He does not wish him to be with sin. We must reflect how great would be the impious blasphemy for it to be said that man has it in his power to be with sin, which God does not wish; and for it to be denied that he has it in his power to be without sin, which God wishes: just as if God had created any man for such a result as this,--that he should be able to be what He would not have him, and unable to be what He would have him; and that he should lead an existence contrary to His will, rather than one which should be in accordance therewith." This has been in fact already answered; but I see that it is necessary for me to make here an additional remark, that we are saved by hope. "But hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." [1377] Full righteousness, therefore, will only then be reached, when fulness of health is attained; and this fulness of health shall be when there is fulness of love, for "love is the fulfilling of the law;" [1378] and then shall come fulness of love, when "we shall see Him even as He is." [1379] Nor will any addition to love be possible more, when faith shall have reached the fruition of sight.


[1377] Rom. viii. 24, 25. [1378] Rom. xiii. 10. [1379] 1 John iii. 2.

Chapter IV.--(9.) The Ninth Breviate.

IX. "The next question we shall require to be solved," says he, "is this: By what means is it brought about that man is with sin?--by the necessity of nature, or by the freedom of choice? If it is by the necessity of nature, he is blameless; if by the freedom of choice, then the question arises, from whom he has received this freedom of choice. No doubt, from God. Well, but that which God bestows is certainly good. This cannot be gainsaid. On what principle, then, is a thing proved to be good, if it is more prone to evil than to good? For it is more prone to evil than to good if by means of it man can be with sin and cannot be without sin." The answer is this: It came by the freedom of choice that man was with sin; but a penal corruption closely followed thereon, and out of the liberty produced necessity. Hence the cry of faith to God, "Lead Thou me out of my necessities." [1380] With these necessities upon us, we are either unable to understand what we want, or else (while having the wish) we are not strong enough to accomplish what we have come to understand. Now it is just liberty itself that is promised to believers by the Liberator. "If the Son," says He, "shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." [1381] For, vanquished by the sin into which it fell by its volition, nature has lost liberty. Hence another scripture says, "For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." [1382] Since therefore "the whole need not the physician, but only they that be sick;" [1383] so likewise it is not the free that need the Deliverer, but only the enslaved. Hence the cry of joy to Him for deliverance, "Thou hast saved my soul from the straits of necessity." [1384] For true liberty is also real health; and this would never have been lost, if the will had remained good. But because the will has sinned, the hard necessity of having sin has pursued the sinner; until his infirmity be wholly healed, and such freedom be regained, that there must needs be, on the one hand, a permanent will to live happily, and, on the other hand, a voluntary and happy necessity of living virtuously, and never sinning.


[1380] Ps. xxv. 17. [1381] John viii. 38. [1382] 2 Pet. ii. 19. [1383] Matt. ix. 12. [1384] Ps. xxxi. 7.

(10.) The Tenth Breviate.

X. "Since God made man good," he says, "and, besides making him good, further commanded him to do good, how impious it is for us to hold that man is evil, when he was neither made so, nor so commanded; and to deny him the ability of being good, although he was both made so, and commanded to act so!" Our answer here is: Since then it was not man himself, but God, who made man good; so also is it God, and not man himself, who remakes him to be good, while liberating him from the evil which he himself did upon his wishing, believing, and invoking such a deliverance. But all this is effected by the renewal day by day of the inward man, [1385] by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, with a view to the outward man's resurrection at the last day to an eternity not of punishment, but of life.


[1385] 2 Cor. iv. 16.

Chapter V.--(11.) The Eleventh Breviate.

XI. "The next question which must be put," he says, "is, in how many ways all sin is manifested? In two, if I mistake not: if either those things are done which are forbidden, or those things are not done which are commanded. Now, it is just as certain that all things which are forbidden are able to be avoided, as it is that all things which are commanded are able to be effected. For it is vain either to forbid or to enjoin that which cannot either be guarded against or accomplished. And how shall we deny the possibility of man's being without sin, when we are compelled to admit that he can as well avoid all those things which are forbidden, as do all those which are commanded?" My answer is, that in the Holy Scriptures there are many divine precepts, to mention the whole of which would be too laborious; but the Lord, who on earth consummated and abridged [1386] His word, expressly declared that the law and the prophets hung on two commandments, [1387] that we might understand that whatever else has been enjoined on us by God ends in these two commandments, and must be referred to them: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;" [1388] and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." [1389] "On these two commandments," says He, "hang all the law and the prophets." [1390] Whatever, therefore, we are by God's law forbidden, and whatever we are bidden to do, we are forbidden and bidden with the direct object of fulfilling these two commandments. And perhaps the general prohibition is, "Thou shalt not covet;" [1391] and the general precept, "Thou shalt love." [1392] Accordingly the Apostle Paul, in a certain place, briefly embraced the two, expressing the prohibition in these words, "Be not conformed to this world," [1393] and the command in these, "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." [1394] The former falls under the negative precept, not to covet; the latter under the positive one, to love. The one has reference to continence, the other to righteousness. The one enjoins avoidance of evil; the other, pursuit of good. By eschewing covetousness we put off the old man, and by showing love we put on the new. But no man can be continent unless God endow him with the gift; [1395] nor is God's love shed abroad in our hearts by our own selves, but by the Holy Ghost that is given to us. [1396] This, however, takes place day after day in those who advance by willing, believing, and praying, and who, "forgetting those things which are behind, reach forth unto those things which are before." [1397] For the reason why the law inculcates all these precepts is, that when a man has failed in fulfilling them, he may not be swollen with pride, and so exalt himself, but may in very weariness betake himself to grace. Thus the law fulfils its office as "schoolmaster," so terrifying the man as "to lead him to Christ," to give Him his love. [1398]


[1386] An application of Rom. ix. 28. [1387] Matt. xxii. 40. [1388] Matt. xxii. 37. [1389] Matt. xxii. 39. [1390] Matt. xxii. 40. [1391] Ex. xx. 27. [1392] Deut. vi. 5. [1393] Rom. xii. 2. [1394] Rom. xii. 2. [1395] Wisd. viii. 21. [1396] Rom. v. 5. [1397] Phil. iii. 13. [1398] Gal. iii. 24.

Chapter VI.--(12.) The Twelfth Breviate.

XII. "Again the question arises," he says, "how it is that man is unable to be without sin,--by his will, or by nature? If by nature, it is not sin; if by his will, then will can very easily be changed by will." We answer by reminding him how he ought to reflect on the extreme presumption of saying--not simply that it is possible (for this no doubt is undeniable, when God's grace comes in aid), but--that it is "very easy" for will to be changed by will; whereas the apostle says, "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye do not the things that ye would." [1399] He does not say, "These are contrary the one to the other, so that ye will not do the things that ye can," but, "so that ye do not the things that ye would." [1400] How happens it, then, that the lust of the flesh which of course is culpable and corrupt, and is nothing else than the desire for sin, as to which the same apostle instructs us not to let it "reign in our mortal body;" [1401] by which expression he shows us plainly enough that that must have an existence in our mortal body which must not be permitted to hold a dominion in it;--how happens it, I say, that such lust of the flesh has not been changed by that will, which the apostle clearly implied the existence of in his words, "So that ye do not the things that ye would," if so be that the will can so easily be changed by will? Not that we, indeed, by this argument throw the blame upon the nature either of the soul or of the body, which God created, and which is wholly good; but we say that it, having been corrupted by its own will, cannot be made whole without the grace of God.


[1399] Gal. v. 17. [1400] ;!Ina me ha an thelete, tauta poiete. [1401] Rom. vi. 12.

(13.) The Thirteenth Breviate.

XIII. "The next question we have to ask," says he, "is this: If man cannot be without sin, whose fault is it,--man's own, or some one's else? If man's own, in what way is it his fault if he is not that which he is unable to be?" We reply, that it is man's fault that he is not without sin on this account, because it has by man's sole will come to pass that he has come into such a necessity as cannot be overcome by man's sole will.

(14.) The Fourteenth Breviate.

XIV. "Again the question must be asked," he says, "If man's nature is good, as nobody but Marcion or Manichæus will venture to deny, in what way is it good if it is impossible for it to be free from evil? For that all sin is evil who can gainsay?" We answer, that man's nature is both good, and is also able to be free from evil. Therefore do we earnestly pray, "Deliver us from evil." [1402] This deliverance, indeed, is not fully wrought, so long as the soul is oppressed by the body, which is hastening to corruption. [1403] This process, however, is being effected by grace through faith, so that it may be said by and by, "O death, where is thy struggle? Where is thy sting, O death? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law;" [1404] because the law by prohibiting sin only increases the desire for it, unless the Holy Ghost spreads abroad that love, which shall then be full and perfect, when we shall see face to face.


[1402] Matt. vi. 13. [1403] Wisd. ix. 15. [1404] 1 Cor. xv. 35, 36.

(15.) The Fifteenth Breviate.

XV. "And this, moreover, has to be said," he says: "God is certainly righteous; this cannot be denied. But God imputes every sin to man. This too, I suppose, must be allowed, that whatever shall not be imputed as sin is not sin. Now if there is any sin which is unavoidable, how is God said to be righteous, when He is supposed to impute to any man that which cannot be avoided?" We reply, that long ago was it declared in opposition to the proud, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin." [1405] Now He does not impute it to those who say to Him in faith, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." [1406] And justly does He withhold this imputation, because that is just which He says: "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." [1407] That, however, is sin in which there is either not the love which ought to be, or where the love is less than it ought to be, [1408] --whether it can be avoided by the human will or not; because when it can be avoided, the man's present will does it, but if it cannot be avoided his past will did it; and yet it can be avoided,--not, however, when the proud will is lauded, but when the humble one is assisted.


[1405] Ps. xxxii. 2. [1406] Matt. vi. 12. [1407] Matt. vii. 2. [1408] See above, in his work De Spiritu et Litterâ, 64; also De Naturâ et Gratiâ, 45.

Chapter VII.--(16.) The Sixteenth Breviate.

XVI. After all these disputations, their author introduces himself in person as arguing with another, and represents himself as under examination, and as being addressed by his examiner: "Show me the man who is without sin." He answers: "I show you one who is able to be without sin." His examiner then says to him: "And who is he?" He answers: "You are the man." "But if," he adds, "you were to say, `I, at any rate, cannot be without sin,' then you must answer me, `Whose fault is that?' If you then were to say, `My own fault,' you must be further asked, `And how is it your fault, if you cannot be without sin?'" He again represents himself as under examination, and thus accosted: "Are you yourself without sin, who say that a man can be without sin?" And he answers: "Whose fault is it that I am not without sin? But if," continues he, "he had said in reply, `The fault is your own;' then the answer would be, `How my fault, when I am unable to be without sin?'" Now our answer to all this running argument is, that no controversy ought to have been raised between them about such words as these; because he nowhere ventures to affirm that a man (either any one else, or himself) is without sin, but he merely said in reply that he can be,--a position which we do not ourselves deny. Only the question arises, when can he, and through whom can he? If at the present time, then by no faithful soul which is enclosed within the body of this death must this prayer be offered, or such words as these be spoken, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," [1409] since in holy baptism all past debts have been already forgiven. But whoever tries to persuade us that such a prayer is not proper for faithful members of Christ, does in fact acknowledge nothing else than that he is not himself a Christian. If, again, it is through himself that a man is able to live without sin, then did Christ die in vain. But "Christ is not dead in vain." No man, therefore, can be without sin, even if he wish it, unless he be assisted by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And that this perfection may be attained, there is even now a training carried on in growing [Christians,] and there will be by all means a completion made, after the conflict with death is spent, and love, which is now cherished by the operation of faith and hope, shall be perfected in the fruition of sight and possession.


[1409] Matt. vi. 12.

Chapter VIII.--(17.) It is One Thing to Depart from the Body, Another Thing to Be Liberated from the Body of This Death.

He next proposes to establish his point by the testimony of Holy Scripture. Let us carefully observe what kind of defence he makes. "There are passages," says he, "which prove that man is commanded to be without sin." Now our answer to this is: Whether such commands are given is not at all the point in question, for the fact is clear enough; but whether the thing which is evidently commanded be itself at all possible of accomplishment in the body of this death, wherein "the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things that we would." [1410] Now from this body of death not every one is liberated who ends the present life, but only he who in this life has received grace, and given proof of not receiving it in vain by spending his days in good works. For it is plainly one thing to depart from the body, which all men are obliged to do in the last day of their present life, and another to be delivered from the body of this death,--which God's grace alone, through our Lord Jesus Christ, imparts to His faithful saints. It is after this life, indeed, that the reward of perfection is bestowed, but only upon those by whom in their present life has been acquired the merit of such a recompense. For no one, after going hence, shall arrive at fulness of righteousness, unless, whilst here, he shall have run his course by hungering and thirsting after it. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." [1411]


[1410] Gal. v. 17. [1411] Matt. v. 6.

(18.) The Righteousness of This Life Comprehended in Three Parts,--Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer.

As long, then, as we are "absent from the Lord, we walk by faith, not by sight;" [1412] whence it is said, "The just shall live by faith." [1413] Our righteousness in this pilgrimage is this--that we press forward to that perfect and full righteousness in which there shall be perfect and full love in the sight of His glory; and that now we hold to the rectitude and perfection of our course, by "keeping under our body and bringing it into subjection," [1414] by doing our alms cheerfully and heartily, while bestowing kindnesses and forgiving the trespasses which have been committed against us, and by "continuing instant in prayer;" [1415] --and doing all this with sound doctrine, whereon are built a right faith, a firm hope, and a pure charity. This is now our righteousness, in which we pass through our course hungering and thirsting after the perfect and full righteousness, in order that we may hereafter be satisfied therewith. Therefore our Lord in the Gospel (after saying, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness [1416] before men, to be seen of them," [1417] ) in order that we should not measure our course of life by the limit of human glory, declared in his exposition of righteousness itself that there is none except there be these three,--fasting, alms, prayers. Now in the fasting He indicates the entire subjugation of the body; in the alms, all kindness of will and deed, either by giving or forgiving; and in prayers He implies all the rules of a holy desire. So that, although by the subjugation of the body a check is given to that concupiscence, which ought not only to be bridled but to be put altogether out of existence (and which will not be found at all in that state of perfect righteousness, where sin shall be absolutely excluded),--yet it often exerts its immoderate desire even in the use of things which are allowable and right. In that real beneficence in which the just man consults his neighbour's welfare, things are sometimes done which are prejudicial, although it was thought that they would be advantageous. Sometimes, too, through infirmity, when the amount of the kindness and trouble which is expended either falls short of the necessities of the objects, or is of little use under the circumstances, then there steals over us a disappointment which tarnishes that "cheerfulness" which secures to the "giver" the approbation of God. [1418] This trail of sadness, however, is the greater or the less, as each man has made more or less progress in his kindly purposes. If, then, these considerations, and such as these, be duly weighed, we are only right when we say in our prayers, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." [1419] But what we say in our prayers we must carry into act, even to loving our very enemies; or if any one who is still a babe in Christ fails as yet to reach this point, he must at any rate, whenever one who has trespassed against him repents and craves his pardon, exercise forgiveness from the bottom of his heart, if he would have his heavenly Father listen to his prayer.


[1412] 2 Cor. v. 6. [1413] Hab. ii. 4. [1414] 1 Cor. ix. 27. [1415] Rom. xii. 12. [1416] For this reading of dikaiosunen instead of eleemosunen there is high ms. authority. It is admitted also by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and Alford. [1417] Matt. vi. 1. [1418] 2 Cor. ix. 7. [1419] Matt. vi. 12.

(19.) The Commandment of Love Shall Be Perfectly Fulfilled in the Life to Come.

And in this prayer, unless we choose to be contentious, there is placed before our view a mirror of sufficient brightness in which to behold the life of the righteous, who live by faith, and finish their course, although they are not without sin. Therefore they say, "Forgive us," because they have not yet arrived at the end of their course. Hence the apostle says, "Not as if I had already attained, either were already perfect. . .Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded." [1420] In other words, let us, as many as are running perfectly, be thus resolved, that, being not yet perfected, we pursue our course to perfection along the way by which we have thus far run perfectly, in order that "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part may be done away;" [1421] that is, may cease to be but in part any longer, but become whole and complete. For to faith and hope shall succeed at once the very substance itself, no longer to be believed in and hoped for, but to be seen and grasped. Love, however, which is the greatest among the three, is not to be superseded, but increased and fulfilled,--contemplating in full vision what it used to see by faith, and acquiring in actual fruition what it once only embraced in hope. Then in all this plenitude of charity will be fulfilled the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." [1422] For while there remains any remnant of the lust of the flesh, to be kept in check by the rein of continence, God is by no means loved with all one's soul. For the flesh does not lust without the soul; although it is the flesh which is said to lust, because the soul lusts carnally. In that perfect state the just man shall live absolutely without any sin, since there will be in his members no law warring against the law of his mind, [1423] but wholly will he love God, with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind [1424] which is the first and chief commandment. For why should not such perfection be enjoined on man, although in this life nobody may attain to it? For we do not rightly run if we do not know whither we are to run. But how could it be known, unless it were pointed out in precepts? [1425] Let us therefore "so run that we may obtain." [1426] For all who run rightly will obtain,--not as in the contest of the theatre, where all indeed run, but only one wins the prize. [1427] Let us run, believing, hoping, longing; let us run, subjugating the body, cheerfully and heartily doing alms,--in giving kindnesses and forgiving injuries, praying that our strength may be helped as we run; and let us so listen to the commandments which urge us to perfection, as not to neglect running towards the fulness of love.


[1420] Phil. iii. 12-15. [1421] 1 Cor. xiii. 10. [1422] Mente. The Septuagint, however, like the Hebrew, has dunameos. A.V. "thy might." Comp Deut. vi. 5 with Matt. xxii. 37. [1423] Rom. vii. 23. [1424] Matt. xxii. 37. [1425] See above in Augustin's De Spiritu et Littera, 64. [1426] 1 Cor. ix. 23. [1427] 1 Cor. ix. 24.

Chapter IX.--(20.) Who May Be Said to Walk Without Spot; Damnable and Venial Sins.

Having premised these remarks, let us carefully attend to the passages which he whom we are answering has produced, as if we ourselves had quoted them. "In Deuteronomy, `Thou shalt be perfect before the Lord thy God.' [1428] Again, in the same book, `There shall be not an imperfect man [1429] among the sons of Israel.' [1430] In like manner the Saviour says in the Gospel, Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' [1431] So the apostle, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, says: `Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect.' [1432] Again, to the Colossians he writes: `Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.' [1433] And so to the Philippians: `Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless, and harmless, as the immaculate sons of God.' [1434] In like manner to the Ephesians he writes: `Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.' [1435] Then again to the Colossians he says in another passage: `And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death; present yourselves holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.' [1436] In the same strain, he says to the Ephesians: `That He might present to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish.' [1437] So in his first Epistle to the Corinthians he says `Be ye sober, and righteous, and sin not.' [1438] So again in the Epistle of St. Peter it is written: `Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is offered to you: . . . as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, [1439] Be ye holy; for I am holy.' [1440] Whence blessed David likewise says: `O Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle, or who shall rest on Thy holy mountain? He that walketh without blame, and worketh righteousness.' [1441] And in another passage: `I shall be blameless with Him.' [1442] And yet again: `Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.' [1443] To the same effect it is written in Solomon: `The Lord loveth holy hearts, and all they that are blameless are acceptable unto Him.'" [1444] Now some of these passages exhort men who are running their course that they run perfectly; others refer to the end thereof, that men may reach forward to it as they run. He, however, is not unreasonably said to walk blamelessly, not who has already reached the end of his journey, but who is pressing on towards the end in a blameless manner, free from damnable sins, and at the same time not neglecting to cleanse by almsgiving such sins as are venial. For the way in which we walk, that is, the road by which we reach perfection, is cleansed by clean prayer. That, however, is a clean prayer in which we say in truth, "Forgive us, as we ourselves forgive." [1445] So that, as there is nothing censured when blame is not imputed, we may hold on our course to perfection without censure, in a word, blamelessly; and in this perfect state, when we arrive at it at last, we shall find that there is absolutely nothing which requires cleansing by forgiveness.


[1428] Deut. xviii. 13. [1429] Augustin's word is inconsummatus. The Septuagint term teliskomenos (which properly signifies complete, perfect) comes to mean one initiated into the mysteries of idolatrous worship. [1430] Deut. xxiii. 17. [1431] Matt. v. 48. [1432] 2 Cor. xiii. 11. [1433] Col. i. 28. [1434] Phil. ii. 14, 15. [1435] Eph. i. 3, 4. [1436] Col. i. 21, 22. [1437] Eph. v. 26, 27. [1438] 1 Cor. xv. 34. [1439] Lev. xix. 2. [1440] 1 Pet. i. 13-16. [1441] Ps. xv. 1, 2. [1442] Ps. xviii. 23. [1443] Ps. cxix. 1. [1444] Prov. xi. 20. [1445] Matt. vi. 12.

Chapter X.--(21.) To Whom God's Commandments are Grievous; And to Whom, Not. Why Scripture Says that God's Commandments are Not Grievous; A Commandment is a Proof of the Freedom Of Man's Will; Prayer is a Proof of Grace.

He next quotes passages to show that God's commandments are not grievous. But who can be ignorant of the fact that, since the generic commandment is love (for "the end of the commandment is love," [1446] and "love is the fulfilling of the law" [1447] ), whatever is accomplished by the operation of love, and not of fear, is not grievous? They, however, are oppressed by the commandments of God, who try to fulfil them by fearing. "But perfect love casteth out fear;" [1448] and, in respect of the burden of the commandment, it not only takes off the pressure of its heavy weight, but it actually lifts it up as if on wings. In order, however, that this love may be possessed, even as far as it can possibly be possessed in the body of this death, the determination of will avails but little, unless it be helped by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. For as it must again and again be stated, it is "shed abroad in our hearts," not by our own selves, but "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." [1449] And for no other reason does Holy Scripture insist on the truth that God's commandments are not grievous, than this, that the soul which finds them grievous may understand that it has not yet received those resources which make the Lord's commandments to be such as they are commended to us as being, even gentle and pleasant; and that it may pray with groaning of the will to obtain the gift of facility. For the man who says, "Let my heart be blameless;" [1450] and, "Order Thou my steps according to Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me;" [1451] and, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven;" [1452] and, "Lead us not into temptation;" [1453] and other prayers of a like purport, which it would be too long to particularize, does in effect offer up a prayer for ability to keep God's commandments. Neither, indeed, on the one hand, would any injunctions be laid upon us to keep them, if our own will had nothing to do in the matter; nor, on the other hand, would there be any room for prayer, if our will were alone sufficient. God's commandments, therefore, are commended to us as being not grievous, in order that he to whom they are grievous may understand that he has not as yet received the gift which removes their grievousness; and that he may not think that he is really performing them, when he so keeps them that they are grievous to him. For it is a cheerful giver whom God loves. [1454] Nevertheless, when a man finds God's commandments grievous, let him not be broken down by despair; let him rather oblige himself to seek, to ask, and to knock.


[1446] 1 Tim. i. 8. [1447] Rom. xiii. 10. [1448] 1 John iv. 18. [1449] Rom. v. 5. [1450] Ps. cxix. 80. [1451] Ps. cxix. 133. [1452] Matt. vi. 10. [1453] Matt. vi. 13. [1454] 2 Cor. ix. 7.

(22.) Passages to Show that God's Commandments are Not Grievous.

He afterwards adduces those passages which represent God as recommending His own commandments as not grievous: let us now attend to their testimony. "Because," says he, "God's commandments are not only not impossible, but they are not even grievous. In Deuteronomy: `The Lord thy God will again turn and rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers, if ye shall hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments, and His ordinances, and His judgments, written in the book of this law; if thou turn to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this command, which I give thee this day, is not grievous, neither is it far from thee: it is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who will ascend into heaven, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it? neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who will cross over the sea, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, and in thine hands to do it.' [1455] In the Gospel likewise the Lord says: `Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' [1456] So also in the Epistle of Saint John it is written: `This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.'" [1457] On hearing these testimonies out of the law, and the gospel, and the epistles, let us be built up unto that grace which those persons do not understand, who, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." [1458] For, if they understand not the passage of Deuteronomy in the sense that the Apostle Paul quoted it,--that "with the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with their mouth make confession unto salvation;" [1459] since "they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," [1460] --they certainly ought (by that very passage of the Apostle John which he quoted last to this effect: "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous" [1461] ) to be admonished that God's commandment is not grievous to the love of God, which is shed abroad in our hearts only by the Holy Ghost, not by the determination of man's will by attributing to which more than they ought, they are ignorant of God's righteousness. This love, however, shall then be made perfect, when all fear of punishment shall be cut off.


[1455] Deut. xxx. 9-14. [1456] Matt. xi. 28-30. [1457] 1 John v. 3. [1458] Rom. x. 3. [1459] Rom. x. 10. [1460] Matt. ix. 12. [1461] 1 John v. 3.

Chapter XI.--(23.) Passages of Scripture Which, When Objected Against Him by the Catholics, Coelestius Endeavours to Elude by Other Passages: the First Passage.

After this he adduced the passages which are usually quoted against them. He does not attempt to explain these passages, but, by quoting what seem to be contrary ones, he has entangled the questions more tightly. "For," says he, "there are passages of Scripture which are in opposition to those who ignorantly suppose that they are able to destroy the liberty of the will, or the possibility of not sinning, by the authority of Scripture. For," he adds, "they are in the habit of quoting against us what holy Job said: `Who is pure from uncleanness? Not one; even if he be an infant of only one day upon the earth.'" [1462] Then he proceeds to give a sort of answer to this passage by help of other quotations; as when Job himself said: "For although I am a righteous and blameless man, I have become a subject for mockery," [1463] --not understanding that a man may be called righteous, who has gone so far towards perfection in righteousness as to be very near it; and this we do not deny to have been in the power of many even in this life, when they walk in it by faith.


[1462] Job xiv. 4, 5. [1463] Job xii. 4.

(24.) To Be Without Sin, and to Be Without Blame--How Differing.

The same thing is affirmed in another passage, which he has quoted immediately afterwards, as spoken by the same Job: "Behold, I am very near my judgment, and I know that I shall be found righteous." [1464] Now this is the judgment of which it is said in another scripture: "And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." But he does not say, I am already there; but, "I am very near." If, indeed, the judgment of his which he meant was not that which he would himself exercise, but that whereby he was to be judged at the last day, then in such judgment all will be found righteous who with sincerity pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." [1465] For it is through this forgiveness that they will be found righteous; on this account that whatever sins they have here incurred, they have blotted out by their deeds of charity. Whence the Lord says: "Give alms; and, behold, all things are clean unto you." [1466] For in the end, it shall be said to the righteous, when about to enter into the promised kingdom: "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat," [1467] and so forth. However, it is one thing to be without sin, which in this life can only be predicated of the Only-begotten, and another thing to be without accusation, which might be said of many just persons even in the present life; for there is a certain measure of a good life, according to which even in this human intercourse there could no just accusation be possibly laid against him. For who can justly accuse the man who wishes evil to no one, and who faithfully does good to all he can, and never cherishes a wish to avenge himself on any man who does him wrong, so that he can truly say, "As we forgive our debtors?" And yet by the very fact that he truly says, "Forgive, as we also forgive," he plainly admits that he is not without sin.


[1464] Job xiii. 18. [1465] Matt. vi. 12. [1466] Luke xi. 41. [1467] Matt. xxv. 35.

(25.) Hence the force of the statement: "There was no injustice in my hands, but my prayer was pure." [1468] For the purity of his prayer arose from this circumstance, that it was not improper for him to ask forgiveness in prayer, when he really bestowed forgiveness himself.


[1468] Job xvi. 18.

(26.) Why Job Was So Great a Sufferer.

And when he says concerning the Lord, "For many bruises hath He inflicted upon me without a cause," [1469] observe that his words are not, He hath inflicted none with a cause; but, "many without a cause." For it was not because of his manifold sins that these many bruises were inflicted on him, but in order to make trial of his patience. For on account of his sins, indeed, without which, as he acknowledges in another passage, he was certainly not, he yet judges that he ought to have suffered less. [1470]


[1469] Job ix. 17. [1470] Job vi. 2, 3.

(27.) Who May Be Said to Keep the Ways of the Lord; What It is to Decline and Depart from the Ways of the Lord.

Then again, as for what he says, "For I have kept His ways, and have not turned aside from His commandments, nor will I depart from them;" [1471] he has kept God's ways who does not so turn aside as to forsake them, but makes progress by running his course therein; although, weak as he is, he sometimes stumbles or falls, onward, however, he still goes, sinning less and less until he reaches the perfect state in which he will sin no more. For in no other way could he make progress, except by keeping His ways. The man, indeed, who declines from these and becomes an apostate at last, is certainly not he who, although he has sin, yet never ceases to persevere in fighting against it until he arrives at the home where there shall remain no more conflict with death. Well now, it is in our present struggle therewith that we are clothed with the righteousness in which we here live by faith,--clothed with it as it were with a breastplate. [1472] Judgment also we take on ourselves; and even when it is against us, we turn it round to our own behalf; for we become our own accusers and condemn our sins: whence that scripture which says, "The righteous man accuses himself at the beginning of his speech." [1473] Hence also he says: "I put on righteousness, and clothed myself with judgment like a mantle." [1474] Our vesture at present no doubt is wont to be armour for war rather than garments of peace, while concupiscence has still to be subdued; it will be different by and by, when our last enemy death shall be destroyed, [1475] and our righteousness shall be full and complete, without an enemy to molest us more.


[1471] Job xxiii. 11, 12. [1472] Eph. vi. 14. [1473] Prov. xviii. 17. [1474] Job. xxix. 14. [1475] 1 Cor. xv. 26.

(28.) When Our Heart May Be Said Not to Reproach Us; When Good is to Be Perfected.

Furthermore, concerning these words of Job, "My heart shall not reproach me in all my life," [1476] we remark, that it is in this present life of ours, in which we live by faith, that our heart does not reproach us, if the same faith whereby we believe unto righteousness does not neglect to rebuke our sin. On this principle the apostle says: "The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do." [1477] Now it is a good thing to avoid concupiscence, and this good the just man would, who lives by faith; [1478] and still he does what he hates, because he has concupiscence, although "he goes not after his lusts;" [1479] if he has done this, he has himself at that time really done it, so as to yield to, and acquiesce in, and obey the desire of sin. His heart then reproaches him, because it reproaches himself, and not his sin which dwelleth in him. But whensoever he suffers not sin to reign in his mortal body to obey it in the lusts thereof, [1480] and yields not his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, [1481] sin no doubt is present in his members, but it does not reign, because its desires are not obeyed. Therefore, while he does that which he would not,--in other words, while he wishes not to lust, but still lusts,--he consents to the law that it is good: [1482] for what the law would, that he also wishes; because it is his desire not to indulge concupiscence, and the law expressly says, "Thou shalt not covet." [1483] Now in that he wishes what the law also would have done, he no doubt consents to the law: but still he lusts, because he is not without sin; it is, however, no longer himself that does the thing, but the sin which dwells within him. Hence it is that "his heart does not reproach him in all his life;" that is, in his faith, because the just man lives by faith, so that his faith is his very life. He knows, to be sure, that in himself dwells nothing good,--even in his flesh, which is the dwelling-place of sin. By not consenting, however, to it, he lives by faith, wherewith he also calls upon God to help him in his contest against sin. Moreover, there is present to him to will that no sin at all should be in him, but then how to perfect this good is not present. It is not the mere "doing" of a good thing that is not present to him, but the "perfecting" of it. For in this, that he yields no consent, he does good; he does good again, in this, that he hates his own lust; he does good also, in this, that he does not cease to give alms; and in this, that he forgives the man who sins against him, he does good; and in this, that he asks forgiveness for his own trespasses,--sincerely avowing in his petition that he also forgives those who trespass against himself, and praying that he may not be led into temptation, but be delivered from evil,--he does good. But how to perfect the good is not present to him; it will be, however, in that final state, when the concupiscence which dwells in his members shall exist no more. His heart, therefore, does not reproach him, when it reproaches the sin which dwells in his members; nor can it reproach unbelief in him. Thus "in all his life,"--that is, in his faith,--he is neither reproached by his own heart, nor convinced of not being without sin. And Job himself acknowledges this concerning himself, when he says, "Not one of my sins hath escaped Thee; Thou hast sealed up my transgressions in a bag, and marked if I have done iniquity unawares." [1484] With regard, then, to the passages which he has adduced from the book of holy Job, we have shown to the best of our ability in what sense they ought to be taken. He, however, has failed to explain the meaning of the words which he has himself quoted from the same Job: "Who then is pure from uncleanness? Not one; even if he be an infant of only one day upon the earth." [1485]


[1476] Job xxvii. 6. [1477] Rom. vii. 15. [1478] Hab. ii. 4. [1479] Ecclus. xviii. 30. [1480] Rom. vi. 12. [1481] Rom. vi. 13. [1482] Rom. vii. 16. [1483] Ex. xx. 17. [1484] Job xiv. 16, 17. [1485] Job xiv. 4, 5.

Chapter XII.--(29.) The Second Passage. Who May Be Said to Abstain from Every Evil Thing.

"They are in the habit of next quoting," says he, "the passage: `Every man is a liar.'" [1486] But here again he offers no solution of words which are quoted against himself even by himself; all he does is to mention other apparently opposite passages before persons who are unacquainted with the sacred Scriptures, and thus to cast the word of God into conflict. This is what he says: "We tell them in answer, how in the book of Numbers it is said, `Man is true.' [1487] While of holy Job this eulogy is read: `There was a certain man in the land of Ausis, whose name was Job; that man was true, blameless, righteous, and godly, abstaining from every evil thing.'" [1488] I am surprised that he has brought forward this passage, which says that Job "abstained from every evil thing," wishing it to mean "abstained from every sin;" because he has argued already [1489] that sin is not a thing, but an act. Let him recollect that, even if it is an act, it may still be called a thing. That man, however, abstains from every evil thing, who either never consents to the sin, which is always with him, or, if sometimes hard pressed by it, is never oppressed by it; just as the wrestling champion, who, although he is sometimes caught in a fierce grapple, does not for all that lose the prowess which constitutes him the better man. We read, indeed, of a man without blame, of one without accusation; but we never read of one without sin, except the Son of man, who is also the only-begotten Son of God.


[1486] Ps. cxv. 2. [1487] If this refer to Num. xxiv. 3, 15 (as the editions mark it), the quotation is most inexact. The Septuagint words o anthropos o alethinos oron is not a proposition equal to "homo verax," as an antithesis to the proposition "omnis homo mendax." [1488] Job i. 1. [1489] See above, ii.(4).

(30.) "Every Man is a Liar," Owing to Himself Alone; But "Every Man is True," By Help Only of the Grace of God.

"Moreover," says he, "in Job himself it is said: `And he maintained the miracle of a true man.' [1490] Again we read in Solomon, touching wisdom: `Men that are liars cannot remember her, but men of truth shall be found in her.' [1491] Again in the Apocalypse: `And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault.'" [1492] To all these statements we reply with a reminder to our opponents, of how a man may be called true, through the grace and truth of God, who is in himself without doubt a liar. Whence it is said: "Every man is a liar." [1493] As for the passage also which he has quoted in reference to Wisdom, when it is said, "Men of truth shall be found in her," we must observe that it is undoubtedly not "in her," but in themselves that men shall be found liars. Just as in another passage: "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord," [1494] --when he said, "Ye were darkness," he did not add, "in the Lord;" but after saying, "Ye are now light," he expressly added the phrase, "in the Lord," for they could not possibly be "light" in themselves; in order that "he who glorieth may glory in the Lord." [1495] The "faultless" ones, indeed, in the Apocalypse, are so called because "no guile was found in their mouth." [1496] They did not say they had no sin: if they had said this, they would deceive themselves, and the truth would not be in them; [1497] and if the truth were not in them, guile and untruth would be found in their mouth. If, however, to avoid envy, they said they were not without sin, although they were sinless, then this very insincerity would be a lie, and the character given of them would be untrue: "In their mouth was found no guile." Hence indeed "they are without fault;" for as they have forgiven those who have done them wrong, so are they purified by God's forgiveness of themselves. Observe now how we have to the best of our power explained in what sense the quotations he has in his own behalf advanced ought to be understood. But how the passage, "Every man is a liar," is to be interpreted, he on his part has altogether omitted to explain; nor is an explanation within his power, without a correction of the error which makes him believe that man can be true without the help of God's grace, and merely by virtue of his own free will.


[1490] Job xvii. 8. [1491] Ecclus. xv. 8. [1492] Rev. xiv. 5. [1493] Ps. cxv. 2. [1494] Eph. v. 8. [1495] 1 Cor. i. 31. [1496] Rev. xiv. 5. [1497] 1 John i. 8.

Chapter XIII.--(31.) The Third Passage. It is One Thing to Depart, and Another Thing to Have Departed, from All Sin. "There is None that Doeth Good,"--Of Whom This is to Be Understood.

He has likewise propounded another question, as we shall proceed to show, but has failed to solve it; nay, he has rather rendered it more difficult, by first stating the testimony that had been quoted against him: "There is none that doeth good, no, not one;" [1498] and then resorting to seemingly contrary passages to show that there are persons who do good. This he succeeded, no doubt, in doing. It is, however, one thing for a man not to do good, and another thing not to be without sin, although he at the same time may do many good things. The passages, therefore, which he adduces are not really contrary to the statement that no person is without sin in this life. He does not, for his own part, explain in what sense it is declared that "there is none that doeth good, no, not one." These are his words: "Holy David indeed says, `Hope thou in the Lord and be doing good.'" [1499] But this is a precept, and not an accomplished fact; and such a precept as is never kept by those of whom it is said, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one." He adds: "Holy Tobit also said, `Fear not, my son, that we have to endure poverty; we shall have many blessings if we fear God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is good.'" [1500] Most true indeed it is, that man shall have many blessings when he shall have departed from all sin. Then no evil shall betide him; nor shall he have need of the prayer, "Deliver us from evil." [1501] Although even now every man who progresses, advancing ever with an upright purpose, departs from all sin, and becomes further removed from it as he approaches nearer to the fulness and perfection of the righteous state; because even concupiscence itself, which is sin dwelling in our flesh, never ceases to diminish in those who are making progress, although it still remains in their mortal members. It is one thing, therefore, to depart from all sin,--a process which is even now in operation,--and another thing to have departed from all sin, which shall happen in the state of future perfection. But still, even he who has departed already from evil, and is continuing to do so, must be allowed to be a doer of good. How then is it said, in the passage which he has quoted and left unsolved, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one," unless that the Psalmist there censures some one nation, amongst whom there was not a man that did good, wishing to remain "children of men," and not sons of God, by whose grace man becomes good, in order to do good? For we must suppose the Psalmist here to mean that "good" which he describes in the context, saying, "God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God." [1502] Such good then as this, seeking after God, there was not a man found who pursued it, no, not one; but this was in that class of men which is predestinated to destruction. [1503] It was upon such that God looked down in His foreknowledge, and passed sentence.


[1498] Ps. xiv. 3. [1499] Ps. xxxvii. 3. [1500] Tobit iv. 21. [1501] Matt. vi. 13. [1502] Ps. xiv. 2. [1503] On this passage Fulgentius remarks (Ad Monimum, i. 5): "In no other sense do I suppose that passage of St. Augustin should be taken, in which he affirms that there are certain persons predestinated to destruction than in regard to their punishment, not their sin: not to the evil which they unrighteously commit, but to the punishment which they shall righteously suffer; not to the sin on account of which they either do not receive, or else lose, the benefit of the first resurrection, but to the retribution which their own personal iniquity evilly incurs, and the divine justice righteously inflicts."

Chapter XIV.--(32.) The Fourth Passage. In What Sense God Only is Good. With God to Be Good and to Be Himself are the Same Thing.

"They likewise," says he, "quote what the Saviour says: `Why callest thou me good? There is none good save one, that is, God?'" [1504] This statement, however, he makes no attempt whatever to explain; all he does is to oppose to it sundry other passages which seem to contradict it, which he adduces to show that man, too, is good. Here are his remarks: "We must answer this text with another, in which the same Lord says, `A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things.' [1505] And again: `He maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil.' [1506] Then in another passage it is written, `For the good things are created from the beginning;' [1507] and yet again, `They that are good shall dwell in the land.'" [1508] Now to all this we must say in answer, that the passages in question must be understood in the same sense as the former one, "There is none good, save one, that is, God." Either because all created things, although God made them very good, are yet, when compared with their Creator, not good, being in fact incapable of any comparison with Him. For in a transcendent, and yet very proper sense, He said of Himself, "I Am that I Am." [1509] The statement therefore before us, "None is good save one, that is, God," is used in some such way as that which is said of John, "He was not that light;" [1510] although the Lord calls him "a lamp," [1511] just as He says to His disciples: "Ye are the light of the world: . . .neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel." [1512] Still, in comparison with that light which is "the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," [1513] he was not light. Or else, because the very sons of God even, when compared with themselves as they shall hereafter become in their eternal perfection, are good in such a way that they still remain also evil. Although I should not have dared to say this of them (for who would be so bold as to call them evil who have God for their Father?) unless the Lord had Himself said: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" [1514] Of course, by applying to them the words, "your Father," He proved that they were already sons of God; and yet at the same time He did not hesitate to say that they were "evil." Your author, however, does not explain to us how they are good, whilst yet "there is none good save one, that is, God." Accordingly the man who asked "what good thing he was to do," [1515] was admonished to seek Him [1516] by whose grace he might be good; to whom also to be good is nothing else than to be Himself, because He is unchangeably good, and cannot be evil at all.


[1504] Luke xviii. 19. [1505] Matt. xii. 35. [1506] Matt. v. 45. [1507] Ecclus. xxxix. 25. [1508] Prov. ii. 21. [1509] Ex. iii. 14. [1510] John i. 8. [1511] John v. 35: ["lucernam," not "lux:" as also in the Dies Iræ it is said of John, "non lux iste, sed lucernam," in allusion to these passages.--W.] [1512] Matt. v. 14, 15. [1513] John i. 9. [1514] Matt. vii. 11. [1515] Matt. xix. 16. [1516] Luke x. 27, 28.

(33.) The Fifth Passage. [1517]

"This," says he, "is another text of theirs: `Who will boast that he has a pure heart?'" [1518] And then he answered this with several passages, wishing to show that there can be in man a pure heart. But he omits to inform us how the passage which he reported as quoted against himself must be taken, so as to prevent Holy Scripture seeming to be opposed to itself in this text, and in the passages by which he makes his answer. We for our part indeed tell him, in answer, that the clause, "Who will boast that he has a pure heart?" is a suitable sequel to the preceding sentence, "whenever a righteous king sits upon the throne." [1519] For how great soever ever a man's righteousness may be, he ought to reflect and think, lest there should be found something blameworthy, which has escaped indeed his own notice, when that righteous King shall sit upon His throne, whose cognizance no sins can possibly escape, not even those of which it is said, "Who understandeth his transgressions?" [1520] "When, therefore, the righteous King shall sit upon His throne, . . . who will boast that he has a pure heart? or who will boldly say that he is pure from sin?" [1521] Except perhaps those who wish to boast of their own righteousness, and not glory in the mercy of the Judge Himself.


[1517] See also his work Contra Julianum. ii. 8. [1518] Prov. xx. 9. [1519] Prov. xx. 8. [1520] Ps. xix. 12. [1521] Prov. xx. 8, 9.

Chapter XV.--(34.) The Opposing Passages.

And yet the passages are true which he goes on to adduce by way of answer, saying: "The Saviour in the gospel declares, `Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.' [1522] David also says, `Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that is innocent in his hands, and pure in his heart;' [1523] and again in another passage, `Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good and upright in heart.' [1524] So also in Solomon: `Riches are good unto him that hath no sin on his conscience;' [1525] and again in the same book, `Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from wickedness.' [1526] So in the Epistle of John, `If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God; and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him.'" [1527] For all this is accomplished by the will, by the exercise of faith, hope, and love; by keeping under the body; by doing alms; by forgiving injuries; by earnest prayer; by supplicating for strength to advance in our course; by sincerely saying, "Forgive us, as we also forgive others," and "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." [1528] By this process, it is certainly brought about that our heart is cleansed, and all our sin taken away; and what the righteous King, when sitting on His throne, shall find concealed in the heart and uncleansed as yet, shall be remitted by His mercy, so that the whole shall be rendered sound and cleansed for seeing God. For "he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy: yet mercy triumpheth against judgment." [1529] If it were not so, what hope could any of us have? "When, indeed, the righteous King shall sit upon His throne, who shall boast that he hath a pure heart, or who shall boldly say that he is pure from sin?" Then, however, through His mercy shall the righteous, being by that time fully and perfectly cleansed, shine forth like the glorious sun in the kingdom of their Father. [1530]


[1522] Matt. v. 8. [1523] Ps. xxiv. 3, 4. [1524] Ps. cxxv. 4. [1525] Ecclus. xiii. 24. [1526] Ecclus. xxxviii. 10. [1527] 1 John iii. 21, 22. [1528] Matt. vi. 12, 13. [1529] Jas. ii. 13. [1530] Matt. xiii. 43.

(35.) The Church Will Be Without Spot and Wrinkle After the Resurrection.

Then shall the Church realize, fully and perfectly, the condition of "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," [1531] because then also will it in a real sense be glorious. For inasmuch as he added the epithet "glorious," when he said, "That He might present the Church to Himself, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," he signified sufficiently when the Church will be without spot, or wrinkle, or anything of this kind,--then of course when it shall be glorious. Because it is not so much when the Church is involved in so many evils, or amidst such offences, and in so great a mixture of very evil men, and amidst the heavy reproaches of the ungodly, that we ought to say that it is glorious, because kings serve it,--a fact which only produces a more perilous and a sorer temptation;--but then shall it rather be glorious, when that event shall come to pass of which the apostle also speaks in the words, "When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." [1532] For since the Lord Himself, in that form of a servant by which He united Himself as Mediator to the Church, was not glorified except by the glory of His resurrection (whence it is said, "The Spirit was not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified" [1533] ), how shall His Church be described as glorious, before its resurrection? He cleanses it, therefore, now "by the laver of the water in the word," [1534] washing away its past sins, and driving off from it the dominion of wicked angels; but then by bringing all its healthy powers to perfection, He makes it meet for that glorious state, where it shall shine without a spot or wrinkle. For "whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." [1535] It was under this mystery, as I suppose, that that was spoken, "Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be consummated," or perfected. [1536] For He said this in the person of His body, which is His Church, putting days for distinct and appointed periods, which He also signified in "the third day" in His resurrection.


[1531] Eph. v. 27. [1532] Col. iii. 4. [1533] John vii. 39. [1534] Eph. v. 26. [1535] Rom. viii. 30. [1536] Luke xiii. 32.

(36.) The Difference Between the Upright in Heart and the Clean in Heart.

I suppose, too, that there is a difference between one who is upright in heart and one who is clean in heart. A man is upright in heart when he "reaches forward to those things which are before, forgetting those things which are behind" [1537] so as to arrive in a right course, that is, with right faith and purpose, at the perfection where he may dwell clean and pure in heart. Thus, in the psalm, the conditions ought to be severally bestowed on each separate character, where it is said, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that is innocent in his hands, and clean in his heart." [1538] He shall ascend, innocent in his hands, and stand, clean in his heart,--the one state in present operation, the other in its consummation. And of them should rather be understood that which is written: "Riches are good unto him that hath no sin on his conscience." [1539] Then indeed shall accrue the good, or true riches, when all poverty shall have passed away; in other words, when all infirmity shall have been removed. A man may now indeed "leave off from sin," when in his onward course he departs from it, and is renewed day by day; and he may "order his hands," and direct them to works of mercy, and "cleanse his heart from all wickedness," [1540] --he may be so merciful that what remains may be forgiven him by free pardon. This indeed is the sound and suitable meaning, without any vain and empty boasting, of that which St. John said: "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him." [1541] The warning which he clearly has addressed to us in this passage, is to beware lest our heart should reproach us in our very prayers and petitions; that is to say, lest, when we happen to resort to this prayer, and say, "Forgive us, even as we ourselves forgive, we should have to feel compunction for not doing what we say, or should even lose boldness to utter what we fail to do, and thereby forfeit the confidence of faithful and earnest prayer.


[1537] Phil. iii. 13. [1538] Ps. xxiv. 3, 4. [1539] Ecclus. xiii. 24. [1540] Ecclus. xxxviii. 10. [1541] 1 John iii. 21, 22.

Chapter XVI.--(37.) The Sixth Passage.

He has also adduced this passage of Scripture, which is very commonly quoted against his party: "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." [1542] And he makes a pretence of answering it by other passages,--how, "the Lord says concerning holy Job, `Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there is none like him upon earth, a man who is blameless, true, a worshipper of God, and abstaining from every evil thing.'" [1543] On this passage we have already made some remarks. [1544] But he has not even attempted to show us how, on the one hand, Job was absolutely sinless upon earth,--if the words are to bear such a sense; and, on the other hand, how that can be true which he has admitted to be in the Scripture, "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." [1545]


[1542] Eccles. vii. 20. [1543] Job i. 8. [1544] See above, ch. xii. (29). [1545] Eccles. vii. 20.

Chapter XVII.--(38.) The Seventh Passage. Who May Be Called Immaculate. How It is that in God's Sight No Man is Justified.

"They also, says he, "quote the text: `For in thy sight shall no man living be justified.'" [1546] And his affected answer to this passage amounts to nothing else than the showing how texts of Holy Scripture seem to clash with one another, whereas it is our duty rather to demonstrate their agreement. These are his words: "We must confront them with this answer, from the testimony of the evangelist concerning holy Zacharias and Elisabeth, when he says, `And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.'" [1547] Now both these righteous persons had, of course, read amongst these very commandments the method of cleansing their own sins. For, according to what is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews of "every high priest taken from among men," [1548] Zacharias used no doubt to offer sacrifices even for his own sins. The meaning, however, of the phrase "blameless," which is applied to him, we have already, as I suppose, sufficiently explained. [1549] "And," he adds, "the blessed apostle says, `That we should be holy, and without blame before Him.'" [1550] This, according to him, is said that we should be so, if those persons are to be understood by "blameless" who are altogether without sin. If, however, they are "blameless" who are without blame or censure, then it is impossible for us to deny that there have been, and still are, such persons even in this present life; for it does not follow that a man is without sin because he has not a blot of accusation. Accordingly the apostle, when selecting ministers for ordination, does not say, "If any be sinless," for he would be unable to find any such; but he says, "If any be without accusation," [1551] for such, of course, he would be able to find. But our opponent does not tell us how, in accordance with his views, we ought to understand the scripture, "For in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." [1552] The meaning of these words is plain enough, receiving as it does additional light from the preceding clause: "Enter not," says the Psalmist, "into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." It is judgment which he fears, therefore he desires that mercy which triumphs over judgment. [1553] For the meaning of the prayer, "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant," is this: "Judge me not according to Thyself," who art without sin; "for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." This without doubt is understood as spoken of the present life, whilst the predicate "shall not be justified" has reference to that perfect state of righteousness which belongs not to this life.


[1546] Ps. cxliii. 2. [1547] Luke i. 6. [1548] Heb. v. 1. [1549] See above, ch. xi. (23). [1550] Eph. i. 4. [1551] Tit. i. 6. [1552] Ps. cxliii. 2. [1553] Jas. ii. 13.

Chapter XVIII.--(39.) The Eighth Passage. In What Sense He is Said Not to Sin Who is Born of God. In What Way He Who Sins Shall Not See Nor Know God.

"They also quote," says he, "this passage, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [1554] And this very clear testimony he has endeavoured to meet with apparently contradictory texts, saying thus: "The same St. John in this very epistle says, `This, however, brethren, I say, that ye sin not. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin.' [1555] Also elsewhere: `Whosoever is born of God sinneth not; because his being born of God preserveth him, and the evil one toucheth him not.' [1556] And again in another passage, when speaking of the Saviour, he says: `Since He was manifested to take away sins, whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.' [1557] And yet again: `Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope towards Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.'" [1558] And yet, notwithstanding the truth of all these passages, that also is true which he has adduced, without, however, offering any explanation of it: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [1559] Now it follows from the whole of this, that in so far as we are born of God we abide in Him who appeared to take away sins, that is, in Christ, and sin not,--which is simply that "the inward man is renewed day by day;" [1560] but in so far as we are born of that man "through whom sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men," [1561] we are not without sin, because we are not as yet free from his infirmity, until, by that renewal which takes place from day to day (for it is in accordance with this that we were born of God), that infirmity shall be wholly repaired, wherein we were born from the first than, and in which we are not without sin. While the remains of this infirmity abide in our inward man, however much they may be daily lessened in those who are advancing, "we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, if we say that we have no sin." Now, however true it is that "whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, nor known Him," [1562] since with that vision and knowledge, which shall be realized in actual sight, no one can in this life see and know Him; yet with that vision and knowledge which come of faith, there may be many who commit sin,--even apostates themselves,--who still have believed in Him some time or other; so that of none of these could it be said, according to the vision and knowledge which as yet come of faith, that he has neither seen Him nor known Him. But I suppose it ought to be understood that it is the renewal which awaits perfection that sees and knows Him; whereas the infirmity which is destined to waste and ruin neither sees nor knows Him. And it is owing to the remains of this infirmity, of whatever amount, which remain firm in our inward man, that "we deceive ourselves, and have not the truth in us, when we say that we have no sin." Although, then, by the grace of renovation "we are the sons of God," yet by reason of the remains of infirmity within us "it doth not appear what we shall be; only we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Then there shall be no more sin, because no infirmity shall any longer remain within us or without us. "And every man that hath this hope towards Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure,"--purifieth himself, not indeed by himself alone, but by believing in Him, and calling on Him who sanctifieth His saints; which sanctification, when perfected at last (for it is at present only advancing and growing day by day), shall take away from us for ever all the remains of our infirmity.


[1554] 1 John i. 8. [1555] 1 John iii. 9. [1556] 1 John v. 18. [1557] 1 John iii. 5, 6. [1558] 1 John iii. 2, 3. [1559] 1 John i. 8. [1560] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [1561] Rom. v. 12. [1562] 1 John iii. 6.

Chapter XIX--(40.) The Ninth Passage.

"This passage, too," says he, "is quoted by them: `It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.'" [1563] And he observes that the answer to be given to them is derived from the same apostle's words in another passage: "Let him do what he will." [1564] And he adds another passage from the Epistle to Philemon, where, speaking of Onesimus, [St. Paul says]: "`Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel. But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.' [1565] Likewise, in Deuteronomy: `Life and death hath He set before thee, and good and evil: . . .choose thou life, that thou mayest live.' [1566] So in the book of Solomon: `God from the beginning made man, and left him in the hand of His counsel; and He added for him commandments and precepts: if thou wilt--to perform acceptable faithfulness for the time to come, they shall save thee. He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thine hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man are good and evil, and life and death; poverty and honour are from the Lord God.' [1567] So again in Isaiah we read: `If ye be willing, and hearken unto me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye be not willing, and hearken not to me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken this.'" [1568] Now with all their efforts of disguise they here betray their purpose; for they plainly attempt to controvert the grace and mercy of God, which we desire to obtain whenever we offer the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven;" [1569] or again this, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." [1570] For indeed why do we present such petitions in earnest supplication, if the result is of him that willeth, and him that runneth, but not of God that showeth mercy? Not that the result is without our will, but that our will does not accomplish the result, unless it receive the divine assistance. Now the wholesomeness of faith is this, that it makes us "seek, that we may find; ask, that we may receive; and knock, that it may be opened to us." [1571] Whereas the man who gainsays it, does really shut the door of God's mercy against himself. I am unwilling to say more touching so important a matter, because I do better in committing it to the groans of the faithful, than to words of my own.


[1563] Rom. ix. 16. [1564] 1 Cor. vii. 36. [1565] Philem. 13, 14. [1566] Deut. xxx. 15, 19. [1567] Ecclus. xv. 14-17. [1568] Isa. i. 19, 20. [1569] Matt. vi. 10. [1570] Matt. vi. 13. [1571] Luke xi. 9.

(41.) Specimens of Pelagian Exegesis.

But I beg of you to see what kind of objection, after all, he makes, that to him who "willeth and runneth" there is no necessity for God's mercy, which actually anticipates him in order that he may run,--because, forsooth, the apostle says concerning a certain person, "Let him do what he will," [1572] --in the matter, as I suppose, which he goes on to treat, when he says, "He sinneth not, let him marry!" [1573] As if indeed it should be regarded as a great matter to be willing to marry, when the subject is a laboured discussion concerning the assistance of God's grace, or that it is of any great advantage to will it, unless God's providence, which governs all things, joins together the man and the woman. Or, in the case of the apostle's writing to Philemon, that "his kindness should not be as it were of necessity, but voluntary,"--as if any good act could indeed be voluntary otherwise than by God's "working in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure." [1574] Or, when the Scripture says in Deuteronomy, "Life and death hath He set before man and good and evil," and admonishes him "to choose life;" as if, forsooth, this very admonition did not come from God's mercy, or as if there were any advantage in choosing life, unless God inspired love to make such a choice, and gave the possession of it when chosen, concerning which it is said: "For anger is in His indignation, and in His pleasure is life." [1575] Or again, because it is said, "The commandments, if thou wilt, shall save thee," [1576] --as if a man ought not to thank God, because he has a will to keep the commandments, since, if he wholly lacked the light of truth, it would not be possible for him to possess such a will. "Fire and water being set before him, a man stretches forth his hand towards which he pleases;" [1577] and yet higher is He who calls man to his higher vocation than any thought on man's own part, inasmuch as the beginning of correction of the heart lies in faith, even as it is written, "Thou shalt come, and pass on from the beginning of faith." [1578] Every one makes his choice of good, "according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith;" [1579] and as the Prince of faith says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." [1580] And that He spake this in reference to the faith which believes in Him, He subsequently explains with sufficient clearness, when He says: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life; yet there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." [1581]


[1572] 1 Cor. vii. 36. [1573] 1 Cor. vii. 36. [1574] Phil. ii. 13. [1575] Ps. xxx. 5. [1576] Ecclus. xv. 15. [1577] Ecclus. xv. 16. [1578] Cant. iv. 8. [1579] Rom. xii. 3. [1580] John vi. 44. [1581] John vi. 62-65.

(42.) God's Promises Conditional. Saints of the Old Testament Were Saved by the Grace of Christ.

He, however, thought he had discovered a great support for his cause in the prophet Isaiah; because by him God said: "If ye be willing, and hearken unto me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye be not willing, and hearken not to me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken this." [1582] As if the entire law were not full of conditions of this sort; or as if its commandments had been given to proud men for any other reason than that "the law was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to whom the promise was made." [1583] "It entered, therefore, that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." [1584] In other words, That man might receive commandments, trusting as he did in his own resources, and that, failing in these and becoming a transgressor, he might ask for a deliverer and a saviour; and that the fear of the law might humble him, and bring him, as a schoolmaster, to faith and grace. Thus "their weaknesses being multiplied, they hastened after;" [1585] and in order to heal them, Christ in due season came. In His grace even righteous men of old believed, and by the same grace were they holpen; so that with joy did they receive a foreknowledge of Him, and some of them even foretold His coming,--whether they were found among the people of Israel themselves, as Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Samuel, and David, and other such; or outside that people, as Job; or previous to that people, as Abraham, and Noah, and all others who are either mentioned or not in Holy Scripture. "For there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," [1586] without whose grace nobody is delivered from condemnation, whether he has derived that condemnation from him in whom all men sinned, or has afterwards aggravated it by his own iniquities.


[1582] Isa. i. 19, 20. [1583] Gal. iii. 19. [1584] Rom. v. 20. [1585] Ps. xvi. 4. [1586] 1 Tim. ii. 5.

Chapter XX.--(43.) No Man is Assisted Unless He Does Himself Also Work. Our Course is a Constant Progress.

But what is the import of the last statement which he has made: "If any one say, `May it possibly be that a man sin not even in word?' then the answer," says he, "which must be given is, `Quite possible, if God so will; and God does so will, therefore it is possible.'" See how unwilling he was to say, "If God give His help, then it would be possible;" and yet the Psalmist thus addresses God: "Be Thou my helper, forsake me not;" [1587] where of course help is not sought for procuring bodily advantages and avoiding bodily evils, but for practising and fulfilling righteousness. Hence it is that we say: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." [1588] Now no man is assisted unless he also himself does something; assisted, however, he is, if he prays, if he believes, if he is "called according to God's purpose;" [1589] for "whom He did foreknow, 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." [1590] We run, therefore, whenever we make advance; and our wholeness runs with us in our advance (just as a sore is said to run [1591] when the wound is in process of a sound and careful treatment), in order that we may be in every respect perfect, without any infirmity of sin whatever,--a result which God not only wishes, but even causes and helps us to accomplish. And this God's grace does, in co-operation with ourselves, through Jesus Christ our Lord, as well by commandments, sacraments, and examples, as by His Holy Spirit also; through whom there is hiddenly shed abroad in our hearts [1592] that love, "which maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," [1593] until wholeness and salvation be perfected in us, and God be manifested to us as He will be seen in His eternal truth.


[1587] Ps. xxvii. 9. [1588] Matt. vi. 13. [1589] Rom. viii. 28. [1590] Rom. viii. 29, 30. [1591] Ps. lxxvii. 2. [1592] Rom. v. 5. [1593] Rom. viii. 26.

Chapter XXI.--(44.) Conclusion of the Work. In the Regenerate It is Not Concupiscence, But Consent, Which is Sin.

Whosoever, then, supposes that any man or any men (except the one Mediator between God and man [1594] ) have ever lived, or are yet living in this present state, who have not needed, and do not need, forgiveness of sins, he opposes Holy Scripture, wherein it is said by the apostle: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, in which all have sinned." [1595] And he must needs go on to assert, with an impious contention, that there may possibly be men who are freed and saved from sin without the liberation and salvation of the one Mediator Christ. Whereas He it is who has said: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;" [1596] "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." [1597] He, moreover, who says that any man, after he has received remission of sins, has ever lived in this body, or still is living, so righteously as to have no sin at all, he contradicts the Apostle John, who declares that "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [1598] Observe, the expression is not we had, but "we have." If, however, anybody contend that the apostle's statement concerns the sin which dwells in our mortal flesh according to the defect which was caused by the will of the first man when he sinned, and concerning which the Apostle Paul enjoins us "not" to "obey it in the lusts thereof, [1599] --so that he does not sin who altogether withholds his consent from this same indwelling sin, and so brings it to no evil work,--either in deed, or word, or thought,--although the lusting after it may be excited (which in another sense has received the name of sin, inasmuch as consenting to it would amount to sinning), but excited against our will,--he certainly is drawing subtle distinctions, and should consider what relation all this bears to the Lord's Prayer, wherein we say, "Forgive us our debts." [1600] Now, if I judge aright, it would be unnecessary to put up such a prayer as this, if we never in the least degree consented to the lusts of the before-mentioned sin, either in a slip of the tongue, or in a wanton thought; all that it would be needful to say would be, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." [1601] Nor could the Apostle James say: "In many things we all offend." [1602] For in truth only that man offends whom an evil concupiscence persuades, either by deception or by force, to do or say or think something which he ought to avoid, by directing his appetites or his aversions contrary to the rule of righteousness. Finally, if it be asserted that there either have been, or are in this present life, any persons, with the sole exception of our Great Head, "the Saviour of His body," [1603] who are righteous, without any sin,--and this, either by not consenting to the lusts thereof, or because that must not be accounted as any sin which is such that God does not impute it to them by reason of their godly lives (although the blessedness of being without sin is a different thing from the blessedness of not having one's sin imputed to him), [1604] --I do not deem it necessary to contest the point over much. I am quite aware that some hold this opinion, [1605] whose views on the subject I have not the courage to censure, although, at the same time, I cannot defend them. But if any man says that we ought not to use the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation" (and he says as much who maintains that God's help is unnecessary to a person for the avoidance of sin, and that human will, after accepting only the law, is sufficient for the purpose), then I do not hesitate at once to affirm that such a man ought to be removed from the public ear, and to be anathematized by every mouth.


[1594] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [1595] Rom. v. 12. [1596] Matt. ix. 12. [1597] Matt. ix. 13. [1598] 1 John i. 8. [1599] Rom. vi. 12. [1600] Matt. vi. 12. [1601] Matt. vi. 13. [1602] Jas. iii. 2. [1603] Eph. i. 22, 23, and v. 23. [1604] Ps. xxxii. 2. [1605] See Augustin's treatise, De Natura et Gratia, 74, 75. .

A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.

Extract from Augustin's "Retractations," Book II. Chap. 45,

On the Following Treatise, "De gestis pelagii."

"About the same time, in the East (that is to say, in Palestinian Syria), Pelagius was summoned by certain catholic brethren [1606] before a tribunal of bishops, and was heard on his trial by fourteen prelates, in the abscnce of his accusers, who were unable to be present on the day of the synod. On his condemning the very dogmas which were read from the indictment against him, as assailing the grace of Christ, they pronounced him to be a catholic. But when the Acts of this synod found their way into our hands, I wrote a treatise on them, to prevent the idea gaining ground that, because he had been in a manner acquitted, his opinions also were approved by the bishops; or that the accused could by any chance have escaped condemnation at their hands, unless he had condemned the opinions charged against him. This treatise of mine begins with these words: `After there came into my hands.'"


[1606] Their names were Heros and Lazarus.

Preface to the Book on the Proceedings of Pelagius.

In the year of Christ 415, Pelagius was accused of heresy in Palestine, and brought to trial on one or two occasions. At the first trial, which was held on or about the 30th of July, at a congress of his presbyters, by John, bishop of Jerusalem, no regular record was kept of the proceedings, as we are informed by Augustin in the following work (sec. 39 and 55). The hour and the day of this assembly we may learn from Orosius, a presbyter of Spain, who was present at the congress, and has in his Apology committed to writing some of its most memorable acts. We are informed by him that "after a great deal of earnest proceeding on both sides, the bishop John proposed the last resolution, that certain brethren should be sent with a letter to blessed Innocent, Pope of Rome, to the intent that he might decide on all the points which were to follow."

The second trial took place afterwards at Diospolis, [1607] a city in Palestine, before fourteen bishops, at which was kept an accurate record of the proceedings. The bishops are severally mentioned by Augustin in his work against Julianus, Book i. chs. v. and vii. (19, 32), in the following order: "Eulogius, John, Ammonianus, Porphyry, Eutonius, another Porphyry, Fidus, Zoninus, Zoboennus, Nymphidius, Chromatius, Jovinus, Eleutherius, and Clematius." There can be no doubt that Eulogius, bishop of Cæsarea, was also primate of the province of Palestine, because he is constantly mentioned by Augustin as occupying the first place before the other thirteen bishops, and even before John himself, bishop of Jerusalem.

We find from the epistle of Lucian, [1608] De revelatione corporis Stephani martyris, that this synod was held at the approach of Christmas. In this epistle he tells us of three visions which God had shown him in the year 415,--the first on December 3d, and the other two on the 10th and 17th of the same month; that he then reported the matter to John, bishop of Jerusalem, who sent him in quest of the martyr's sepulchre. He further informs us that he discovered the sepulchre, and at once returned to John, "who (says he) was attending a synod at Lydda, which is Diospolis." This must have happened about the 21st of the month, since Lucian goes on to say that John came, in the company of two more bishops, Eutonius of Sebaste and Eleutherius of Jericho, and that in their presence the relics of the martyr were removed on the 26th day of the same month of December.

A certain deacon, called Annianus, is supposed to have pleaded the cause of Pelagius at the synod; some learned men finding it easier to interpret of this deacon than of Pelagius what Jerome writes in a letter addressed to Alypius and Augustin (Epist. Augustinian. 202, 2): "For every thing which he denies having ever uttered in that miserable synod of Diospolis he professes to hold in this work." Jerome bestowed the epithet of "miserable" on this synod of Diospolis, for no other reason (as we suppose) than because he discovered from its Acts how miserably the synod had been duped by Pelagius. Pope Innocent, after a sight of these Acts, expressly owned (see Epist. Augustinian. 183, 4) that "he could not bring himself to refuse either blame or praise of those bishops." Augustin, however, in the following treatise (see chs. 4 and 8), does not hesitate to call them "pious judges," and (in his first book against Julianus, i. ch. v. 19) "catholic judges," who, when Pelagius abjured the errors attributed to him, pronounced him a catholic, and acquitted him; indeed, he frequently cites these fourteen bishops as witnesses of the catholic faith in opposition to Julianus.

In his letters addressed to Pope Innocent in the year 416 (see Epist. Augustinian. 175, 4, and 177, 2), Augustin intimated that he knew nothing of the Proceedings of the synod except from hearsay; and in a letter to John, bishop of Jerusalem (Epist. 179, 4), he earnestly requested him to forward them to him. But the report was in his hands about midsummer in 417, when he wrote his Epistle to Paulinus (Epist. 186, 31); so that the date of the following treatise is thus traced to the commencement of the year 417, supposing it to have been published immediately after he had received the Proceedings.

The title given to this work by Augustin, in his book On Original Sin (15), stands De Gestis Palæstinis [On the Proceedings which took place in Palestine]; by this title Prosper likewise refers to the work (in his book Adv. Collatorem, 43); but yet we ought to retain the inscription De Gestis Pelagii which is prefixed both to the ancient editions and to the particular Retractation in which Augustin reviewed this work. The treatise had this title given to it, no doubt, either because it had been already commonly accepted as a description of these proceedings of Pelagius and his vindication, which led to his boast that he had been acquitted; or else from the fact that an examination had become necessary of those proceedings, which the accused party had himself published in an abridged and garbled form. Hence Possidonius named the treatise by the title, Contra Gesta Pelagii [A Protest, or Vindication, against the Proceedings of Pelagius].

Out of this book Photius copied a very accurate account of the Synod of Diospolis and inserted it in his Bibliotheca (cod. 54). One may therefore conclude that this work of Augustin's is one of those which Possidonius, in his Life, ch. xi. or xxi., No. 59, mentions as having been "translated into the Greek tongue." The Aurelius to whom the work is dedicated is mentioned by Photius in the passage just cited, and by Prosper before him (in the 43d chapter of the above-quoted Adversus Collatorem), as "the bishop of Carthage." If the title-page of old did not give them this information, they could both of them discover it from reading this book, especially ch. 23 [XI.].


[1607] That is, Lydda. [1608] To be found in Migne's Patrologia Latina, vol. vii., Appendix.

A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius, [1][1609]

In One Book,

addressed to Bishop Aurelius [of Carthage], by Aurelius Augustin;

written about the commencement of the year, a.d. 417.

The several heads of error which were alleged against Pelagius at the Synod in Palestine, with his answers to each charge, are minutely discussed. Augustin shows that, although Pelagius was acquitted by the synod, there still clave to him the suspicion of heresy; and that the acquittal of the accused by the synod was so contrived, that the heresy itself with which he was charged was unhesitatingly condemned.

Chapter 1.--Introduction.

After there came into my hands, holy father Aurelius, the ecclesiastical proceedings, by which fourteen bishops of the province of Palestine pronounced Pelagius a catholic, my hesitation, in which I was previously reluctant to make any lengthy or confident statement about the defence which he had made, came to an end. This defence, indeed, I had already read in a paper which he himself forwarded to me. Forasmuch, however, as I received no letter therewith from him, I was afraid that some discrepancy might be detected between my statement and the record of the ecclesiastical proceedings; and that, should Pelagius perhaps deny that he had sent me any paper (and it would have been difficult for me to prove that he had, when there was only one witness), I should rather seem guilty in the eyes of those who would readily credit his denial, either of an underhanded falsification, or else (to say the least) of a reckless credulity. Now, however, when I am to treat of matters which are shown to have actually transpired, and when, as it appears to me, all doubt is removed whether he really acted in the way described, your holiness, and everybody who reads these pages, will no doubt be able to judge, with greater readiness and certainty, both of his defence and of this my treatment of it.

Chapter 2 [I.]--The First Item in the Accusation, and Pelagius' Answer.

First of all, then, I offer to the Lord my God, who is also my defence and guide, unspeakable thanks, because I was not misled in my views respecting our holy brethren and fellow-bishops who sat as judges in that case. His answers, indeed, they not without reason approved; because they had not to consider how he had in his writings stated the points which were objected against him, but what he had to say about them in his reply at the pending examination. A case of unsoundness in the faith is one thing, one of incautious statement is another thing. Now sundry objections were urged against Pelagius out of a written complaint, which our holy brethren and fellow-bishops in Gaul, Heros and Lazarus, presented, being themselves unable to be present, owing (as we afterwards learned from credible information) to the severe indisposition of one of them. The first of these was, that he writes, in a certain book of his, this: "No man can be without sin unless he has acquired a knowledge of the law." After this had been read out, the synod inquired: "Did you, Pelagius, express yourself thus?" Then in answer he said: "I certainly used the words, but not in the sense in which they understand them. I did not say that a man is unable to sin who has acquired a knowledge of the law; but that he is by the knowledge of the law assisted towards not sinning, even as it is written, `He hath given them a law for help'" [1609] Upon hearing this, the synod declared: "The words which have been spoken by Pelagius are not different from the Church." Assuredly they are not different, as he expressed them in his answer; the statement, however, which was produced from his book has a different meaning. But this the bishops, who were Greek-speaking men, and who heard the words through an interpreter, were not concerned with discussing. All they had to consider at the moment was, what the man who was under examination said was his meaning,--not in what words his opinion was alleged to have been expressed in his book.


[1609] Isa. viii. 20.

Chapter 3.--Discussion of Pelagius' First Answer.

Now to say that "a man is by the knowledge of the law assisted towards not sinning," is a different assertion from saying that "a man cannot be without sin unless he has acquired a knowledge of the law." We see, for example, that corn-floors may be threshed without threshing-sledges,--however much these may assist the operation if we have them; and that boys can find their way to school without the pedagogue,--however valuable for this may be the office of pedagogues; and that many persons recover from sickness without physicians,--although the doctor's skill is clearly of greatest use; and that men sometimes live on other aliments besides bread,--however valuable the use of bread must needs be allowed to be; and many other illustrations may occur to the thoughtful reader, without our prompting. From which examples we are undoubtedly reminded that there are two sorts of aids. Some are indispensable, and without their help the desired result could not be attained. Without a ship, for instance, no man could take a voyage; no man could speak without a voice; without legs no man could walk; without light nobody could see; and so on in numberless instances. Amongst them this also may be reckoned, that without God's grace no man can live rightly. But then, again, there are other helps, which render us assistance in such a way that we might in some other way effect the object to which they are ordinarily auxiliary in their absence. Such are those which I have already mentioned,--the threshing-sledges for threshing corn, the pedagogue for conducting the child, medical art applied to the recovery of health, and other like instances. We have therefore to inquire to which of these two classes belongs the knowledge of the law,--in other words, to consider in what way it helps us towards the avoidance of sin. If it be in the sense of indispensable aid without which the end cannot be attained; not only was Pelagius' answer before the judges true, but what he wrote in his book was true also. If, however, it be of such a character that it helps indeed if it is present, but even if it be absent, then the result is still possible to be attained by some other means,--his answer to the judges was still true, and not unreasonably did it find favour with the bishops that "man is assisted not to sin by the knowledge of the law;" but what he wrote in his book is not true, that "there is no man without sin except him who has acquired a knowledge of the law,"--a statement which the judges left undiscussed, as they were ignorant of the Latin language, and were content with the confession of the man who was pleading his cause before them, especially as no one was present on the other side who could oblige the interpreter to expose his meaning by an explanation of the words of his book, and to show why it was that the brethren were not groundlessly disturbed. For but very few persons are thoroughly acquainted with the law. The mass of the members of Christ, who are scattered abroad everywhere, being ignorant of the very profound and complicated contents of the law, are commended by the piety of simple faith and unfailing hope in God, and sincere love. Endowed with such gifts, they trust that by the grace of God they may be purged from their sins through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 4 [II.]--The Same Continued.

If Pelagius, as he possibly might, were to say in reply to this, that that very thing was what he meant by "the knowledge of the law, without which a man is unable to be free from sins," which is communicated by the teaching of faith to converts and to babes in Christ, and in which candidates for baptism are catechetically instructed with a view to their knowing the creed, certainly this is not what is usually meant when any one is said to have a knowledge of the law. This phrase is only applied to such persons as are skilled in the law. But if he persists in describing the knowledge of the law by the words in question, which, however few in number, are great in weight, and are used to designate all who are faithfully baptized according to the prescribed rule of the Churches; and if he maintains that it was of this that he said, "No one is without sin, but the man who has acquired the knowledge of the law,"--a knowledge which must needs be conveyed to believers before they attain to the actual remission of sins,--even in such case there would crowd around him a countless multitude, not indeed of angry disputants, but of crying baptized infants, who would exclaim,--not, to be sure, in words, but in the very truthfulness of innocence,--"What is it, O what is it that you have written: `He only can be without sin who has acquired a knowledge of the law?' See here are we, a large flock of lambs, without sin, and yet we have no knowledge of the law." Now surely they with their silent tongue would compel him to silence, or, perhaps, even to confess that he was corrected of his great perverseness; or else (if you will), that he had already for some time entertained the opinion which he acknowledged before his ecclesiastical examiners, but that he had failed before to express his opinion in words of sufficient care,--that his faith, therefore, should be approved, but this book revised and amended. For, as the Scripture says: "There is that slippeth in his speech, but not in his heart." [1610] Now if he would only admit this, or were already saying it, who would not most readily forgive those words which he had committed to writing with too great heedlessness and neglect, especially on his declining to defend the opinion which the said words contain, and affirming that to be his proper view which the truth approves? This we must suppose would have been in the minds of the pious judges themselves, if they could only have duly understood the contents of his Latin book, thoroughly interpreted to them, as they understood his reply to the synod, which was spoken in Greek, and therefore quite intelligible to them, and adjudged it as not alien from the Church. Let us go on to consider the other cases.


[1610] Ecclus. xix. 16.

Chapter 5 [III.]--The Second Item in the Accusation; And Pelagius' Answer.

The synod of bishops then proceeded to say: "Let another section be read." Accordingly there was read the passage in the same book wherein Pelagius had laid down the position that "all men are ruled by their own will." On this being read, Pelagius said in answer: "This I stated in the interest of free will. God is its helper whenever it chooses good; man, however, when sinning is himself in fault, as under the direction of a free will." Upon hearing this, the bishops exclaimed: "Nor again is this opposed to the doctrine of the Church." For who indeed could condemn or deny the freedom of the will, when God's help is associated with it? His opinion, therefore, as thus explained in his answer, was, with good reason, deemed satisfactory by the bishops. And yet, after all, the statement made in his book, "All men are ruled by their own will," ought without doubt to have deeply disturbed the brethren, who had discovered what these men are accustomed to dispute against the grace of God. For it is said, "All men are ruled by their own will," as if God rules no man, and the Scripture says in vain, "Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; rule them, and lift them up for ever." [1611] They would not, of course, stay, if they are ruled only by their own will without God, even as sheep which have no shepherd: which, God forbid for us. For, unquestionably to be led is something more compulsory than to be ruled. He who is ruled at the same time does something himself,--indeed, when ruled by God, it is with the express view that he should also act rightly; whereas the man who is led can hardly be understood to do any thing himself at all. And yet the Saviour's helpful grace is so much better than our own wills and desires, that the apostle does not hesitate to say: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." [1612] And our free will can do nothing better for us than to submit itself to be led by Him who can do nothing amiss; and after doing this, not to doubt that it was helped to do it by Him of whom it is said in the psalm, "He is my God, His mercy shall go before me." [1613]


[1611] Ps. xxviii. 9. [1612] Rom. viii. 14. [1613] Ps. lix. 10.

Chapter 6.--Pelagius' Answer Examined.

Indeed, in this very book which contains these statements, after laying down the position, "All men are governed by their own will, and every one is submitted to his own desire," Pelagius goes on to adduce the testimony of Scripture, from which it is evident enough that no man ought to trust to himself for direction. For on this very subject the Wisdom of Solomon declares: "I myself also am a mortal man like unto all; and the offspring of him that was first made of the earth," [1614] --with other similar words to the conclusion of the paragraph, where we read: "For all men have one entrance into life, and the like going out therefrom: wherefore I prayed and understanding was given to me; I called, and the Spirit of Wisdom came into me." [1615] Now is it not clearer than light itself, how that this man, on duly considering the wretchedness of human frailty, did not dare to commit himself to his own direction, but prayed, and understanding was given to him, concerning which the apostle says: "But we have the understanding of the Lord;" [1616] and called, and the Spirit of Wisdom entered into him? Now it is by this Spirit, and not by the strength of their own will, that they who are God's children are governed and led.


[1614] Wisd. vii. 1. [1615] Wisd. vii. 6, 7. [1616] 1 Cor. ii. 16.

Chapter 7.--The Same Continued.

As for the passage from the psalm, "He loved cursing, and it shall come upon him; and he willed not blessing, so it shall be far removed from him," [1617] which he quoted in the same book of Chapters, as if to prove that "all men are ruled by their own will," who can be ignorant that this is a fault not of nature as God created it, but of human will which departed from God? The fact indeed is, that even if he had not loved cursing, and had willed blessing, he would in this very case, too, deny that his will had received any assistance from God; in his ingratitude and impiety, moreover, he would submit himself to be ruled by himself, until he found out by his penalties that, sunk as he was into ruin, without God to govern him he was utterly unable to direct his own self. In like manner, from the passage which he quoted in the same book under the same head, "He hath set fire and water before thee; stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wilt; before man are good and evil, life and death, and whichever he liketh shall be given to him," [1618] it is manifest that, if he applies his hand to fire, and if evil and death please him, his human will effects all this; but if, on the contrary, he loves goodness and life, not alone does his will accomplish the happy choice, but it is assisted by divine grace. The eye indeed is sufficient for itself, for not seeing, that is, for darkness; but for seeing, it is in its own light not sufficient for itself unless the assistance of a clear external light is rendered to it. God forbid, however, that they who are "the called according to His purpose, whom He also foreknew, and predestinated to be conformed to the likeness of His Son," [1619] should be given up to their own desire to perish. This is suffered only by "the vessels of wrath," [1620] who are perfected for perdition; in whose very destruction, indeed, God "makes known the riches of His glory on the vessels of His mercy." [1621] Now it is on this account that, after saying, "He is my God, His mercy shall go before me," [1622] he immediately adds, "My God will show me vengeance upon my enemies." [1623] That therefore happens to them which is mentioned in Scripture, "God gave them up to the lusts of their own heart." [1624] This, however, does not happen to the predestinated, who are ruled by the Spirit of God, for not in vain is their cry: "Deliver me not, O Lord, to the sinner, according to my desire." [1625] With regard, indeed, to the evil lusts which assail them, their prayer has ever assumed some such shape as this: "Take away from me the concupiscence of the belly; and let not the desire of lust take hold of me." [1626] Upon those whom He governs as His subjects does God bestow this gift; but not upon those who think themselves capable of governing themselves, and who, in the stiff-necked confidence of their own will, disdain to have Him as their ruler.


[1617] Ps. cix. 18. [1618] Ecclus. xv. 16, 17. [1619] Rom. viii. 29. [1620] Rom. ix. 22. [1621] Rom. ix. 23. [1622] Ps. lix. 10. [1623] Ps. lix. 10. [1624] Rom. i. 24. [1625] Ps. cxl. 8. [1626] Ecclus. xxiii. 5, 6.

Chapter 8.--The Same Continued.

This being the case, how must God's children, who have learned the truth of all this and rejoice at being ruled and led by the Spirit of God, have been affected when they heard or read that Pelagius had declared in writing that "all men are governed by their own will, and that every one is submitted to his own desire?" And yet, when questioned by the bishops, he fully perceived what an evil impression these words of his might produce, and told them in answer that "he had made such an assertion in the interest of free will,"--adding at once, "God is its helper whenever it chooses good; whilst man is himself in fault when he sins, as being under the influence of a free will." Although the pious judges approved of this sentiment also, they were unwilling to consider or examine how incautiously he had written, or indeed in what sense he had employed the words found in his book. They thought it was enough that he had made such a confession concerning free will, as to admit that God helped the man who chose the good, whereas the man who sinned was himself to blame, his own will sufficing for him in this direction. According to this, God rules those whom He assists in their choice of the good. So far, then, as they rule anything themselves, they rule it rightly, since they themselves are ruled by Him who is right and good.

Chapter 9.--The Third Item in the Accusation; And Pelagius' Answer.

Another statement was read which Pelagius had placed in his book, to this effect: "In the day of judgment no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and the sinners, but they will be consumed in eternal fires." This induced the brethren to regard the statement as open to the objection, that it seemed so worded as to imply that all sinners whatever were to be punished with an eternal punishment, without excepting even those who hold Christ as their foundation, although "they build thereupon wood, hay, stubble," [1627] concerning whom the apostle writes: "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he shall himself be saved, yet so as by fire." [1628] When, however, Pelagius responded that "he had made his assertion in accordance with the Gospel, in which it is written concerning sinners, `These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal,'" [1629] it was impossible for Christian judges to be dissatisfied with a sentence which is written in the Gospel, and was spoken by the Lord; especially as they knew not what there was in the words taken from Pelagius' book which could so disturb the brethren, who were accustomed to hear his discussions and those of his followers. Since also they were absent [1630] who presented the indictment against Pelagius to the holy bishop Eulogius, there was no one to urge him that he ought to distinguish, by some exception, between those sinners who are to be saved by fire, and those who are to be punished with everlasting perdition. If, indeed, the judges had come to understand by these means the reason why the objection had been made to his statement, had he then refused to allow the distinction, he would have been justly open to blame.


[1627] 1 Cor. iii. 12. [1628] 1 Cor. iii. 15. [1629] Matt. xxv. 46. [1630] The bishops Heros and Lazarus; see above, I [II.].

Chapter 10.--Pelagius' Answer Examined. On Origen's Error Concerning the Non-Eternity of the Punishment of the Devil and the Damned.

But what Pelagius added, "Who believes differently is an Origenist," was approved by the judges, because in very deed the Church most justly abominates the opinion of Origen, that even they whom the Lord says are to be punished with everlasting punishment, and the devil himself and his angels, after a time, however protracted, will be purged, and released from their penalties, and shall then cleave to the saints who reign with God in the association of blessedness. This additional sentence, therefore, the synod pronounced to be "not opposed to the Church,"--not in accordance with Pelagius, but rather in accordance with the Gospel, that such ungodly and sinful men shall be consumed by eternal fires as the Gospel determines to be worthy of such a punishment; and that he is a sharer in Origen's abominable opinion, who affirms that their punishment can possibly ever come to an end, when the Lord has said it is to be eternal. Concerning those sinners, however, of whom the apostle declares that "they shall be saved, yet so as by fire, after their work has been burnt up," [1631] inasmuch as no objectionable opinion in reference to them was manifestly charged against Pelagius, the synod determined nothing. Wherefore he who says that the ungodly and sinner, whom the truth consigns to eternal punishment, can ever be liberated therefrom, is not unfitly designated by Pelagius as an "Origenist." But, on the other hand, he who supposes that no sinner whatever deserves mercy in the judgment of God, may be designated by whatever name Pelagius is disposed to give to him, only it must at the same time be quite understood that this error is not received as truth by the Church. "For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy." [1632]


[1631] 1 Cor. iii. 12, 15. [1632] Jas. ii. 13.

Chapter 11.--The Same Continued.

But how this judgment is to be accomplished, it is not easy to understand from Holy Scripture; for there are many modes therein of describing that which is to come to pass only in one mode. In one place the Lord declares that He will "shut the door" against those whom He does not admit into His kingdom; and that, on their clamorously demanding admission, "Open unto us, . . . we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence," and so forth, as the Scripture describes, "He will say unto them in answer, I know you not, . . . all ye workers of iniquity." [1633] In another passage He reminds us that He will command "all which would not that He should reign over them to be brought to Him, and be slain in His presence." [1634] In another place, again, He tells us that He will come with His angels in His majesty; and before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another; some He will set on His right hand, and after enumerating their good works, will award to them eternal life; and others on His left hand, whose barrenness in all good works He will expose, will He condemn to everlasting fire. [1635] In two other passages He deals with that wicked and slothful servant, who neglected to trade with His money, [1636] and with the man who was found at the feast without the wedding garment,--and He orders them to be bound hand and foot, and to be cast into outer darkness. [1637] And in yet another scripture, after admitting the five virgins who were wise, He shuts the door against the other five foolish ones. [1638] Now these descriptions,--and there are others which at the instant do not occur to me,--are all intended to represent to us the future judgment, which of course will be held not over one, or over five, but over multitudes. For if it were a solitary case only of the man who was cast into outer darkness for not having on the wedding garment, He would not have gone on at once to give it a plural turn, by saying: "For many are called, but few are chosen;" [1639] whereas it is plain that, after the one was cast out and condemned, many still remained behind in the house. However, it would occupy us too long to discuss all these questions to the full. This brief remark, however, I may make, without prejudice (as they say in pecuniary affairs) to some better discussion, that by the many descriptions which are scattered throughout the Holy Scriptures there is signified to us but one mode of final judgment, which is inscrutable to us,--with only the variety of deservings preserved in the rewards and punishments. Touching the particular point, indeed, which we have before us at present, it is sufficient to remark that, if Pelagius had actually said that all sinners whatever without exception would be punished in an eternity of punishment by everlasting fire, then whosoever had approved of this judgment would, to begin with, have brought the sentence down on his own head. "For who will boast that he is pure from sins?" [1640] Forasmuch, however, as he did not say all, nor certain, but made an indefinite statement only,--and afterwards, in explanation, declared that his meaning was according to the words of the Gospel,--his opinion was affirmed by the judgment of the bishops to be true; but it does not even now appear what Pelagius really thinks on the subject, and in consequence there is no indecency in inquiring further into the decision of the episcopal judges.


[1633] Luke xiii. 25-27. [1634] Luke xix. 27. [1635] Matt. xxv. 33. [1636] Luke xix. 20-24. [1637] Matt. xxii. 11-13. [1638] Matt. xxv. 1-10. [1639] Matt. xxii. 14. [1640] Prov. xx. 9.

Chapter 12 [IV.]--The Fourth Item in the Accusation; And Pelagius' Answer.

It was further objected against Pelagius, as if he had written in his book, that "evil does not enter our thoughts." In reply, however, to this charge, he said: "We made no such statement. What we did say was, that the Christian ought to be careful not to have evil thoughts." Of this, as it became them, the bishops approved. For who can doubt that evil ought not to be thought of? And, indeed, if what he said in his book about "evil not being thought" runs in this form, "neither is evil to be thought of," the ordinary meaning of such words is "that evil ought not even to be thought of." Now if any person denies this, what else does he in fact say, than that evil ought to be thought of? And if this were true, it could not be said in praise of love that "it thinketh no evil!" [1641] But after all, the phrase about "not entering into the thoughts" of righteous and holy men is not quite a commendable one, for this reason, that what enters the mind is commonly called a thought, even when assent to it does not follow. The thought, however, which contracts blame, and is justly forbidden, is never unaccompanied with assent. Possibly those men had an incorrect copy of Pelagius' writings, who thought it proper to object to him that he had used the words: "Evil does not enter into our thoughts;" that is, that whatever is evil never enters into the thoughts of righteous and holy men. Which is, of course, a very absurd statement. For whenever we censure evil things, we cannot enunciate them in words, unless they have been thought. But, as we said before, that is termed a culpable thought of evil which carries with it assent.


[1641] 1 Cor. xiii. 5.

Chapter 13 [V.]--The Fifth Item of the Accusation; And Pelagius' Answer.

After the judges had accorded their approbation to this answer of Pelagius, another passage which he had written in his book was read aloud: "The kingdom of heaven was promised even in the Old Testament." Upon this, Pelagius remarked in vindication: "This can be proved by the Scriptures: but heretics, in order to disparage the Old Testament, deny this. I, however, simply followed the authority of the Scriptures when I said this; for in the prophet Daniel it is written: `The saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most. High.'" [1642] After they had heard this answer, the synod said: "Neither is this opposed to the Church's faith."


[1642] Dan. vii. 18.

Chapter 14.--Examination of This Point. The Phrase "Old Testament" Used in Two Senses. The Heir of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament There Were Heirs of the New Testament.

Was it therefore without reason that our brethren were moved by his words to include this charge among the others against him? Certainly not. The fact is, that the phrase Old Testament is constantly employed in two different ways,--in one, following the authority of the Holy Scriptures; in the other, following the most common custom of speech. For the Apostle Paul says, in his Epistle to the Galatians: "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman. . . .Which things are an allegory: for these are the two testaments; the one which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and is conjoined with the Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; whereas the Jerusalem which is above is free, and is the mother of us all." [1643] Now, inasmuch as the Old Testament belongs to bondage, whence it is written, "Cast out the bond-woman and her son, for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac," [1644] but the kingdom of heaven to liberty; what has the kingdom of heaven to do with the Old Testament? Since, however, as I have already remarked, we are accustomed, in our ordinary use of words, to designate all those Scriptures of the law and the prophets which were given previous to the Lord's incarnation, and are embraced together by canonical authority, under the name and title of the Old Testament, what man who is ever so moderately informed in ecclesiastical lore can be ignorant that the kingdom of heaven could be quite as well promised in those early Scriptures as even the New Testament itself, to which the kingdom of heaven belongs? At all events, in those ancient Scriptures it is most distinctly written: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will consummate a new testament with the house of Israel and with the house of Jacob; not according to the testament that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to lead them out of the land of Egypt." [1645] This was done on Mount Sinai. But then there had not yet risen the prophet Daniel to say: "The saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most High." [1646] For by these words he foretold the merit not of the Old, but of the New Testament. In the same manner did the same prophets foretell that Christ Himself would come, in whose blood the New Testament was consecrated. Of this Testament also the apostles became the ministers, as the most blessed Paul declares: "He hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not in its letter, but in spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." [1647] In that testament, however, which is properly called the Old, and was given on Mount Sinai, only earthly happiness is expressly promised. Accordingly that land, into which the nation, after being led through the wilderness, was conducted, is called the land of promise, wherein peace and royal power, and the gaining of victories over enemies, and an abundance of children and of fruits of the ground, and gifts of a similar kind are the promises of the Old Testament. And these, indeed, are figures of the spiritual blessings which appertain to the New Testament; but yet the man who lives under God's law with those earthly blessings for his sanction, is precisely the heir of the Old Testament, for just such rewards are promised and given to him, according to the terms of the Old Testament, as are the objects of his desire according to the condition of the old man. But whatever blessings are there figuratively set forth as appertaining to the New Testament require the new man to give them effect. And no doubt the great apostle understood perfectly well what he was saying, when he described the two testaments as capable of the allegorical distinction of the bond-woman and the free,--attributing the children of the flesh to the Old, and to the New the children of the promise: "They," says he, "which are the children of the flesh, are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." [1648] The children of the flesh, then, belong to the earthly Jerusalem, which is in bondage with her children; whereas the children of the promise belong to the Jerusalem above, the free, the mother of us all, eternal in the heavens. [1649] Whence we can easily see who they are that appertain to the earthly, and who to the heavenly kingdom. But then the happy persons, who even in that early age were by the grace of God taught to understand the distinction now set forth, were thereby made the children of promise, and were accounted in the secret purpose of God as heirs of the New Testament; although they continued with perfect fitness to administer the Old Testament to the ancient people of God, because it was divinely appropriated to that people in God's distribution of the times and seasons.


[1643] Gal. iv. 21-26. [1644] Gal. iv. 30. [1645] Jer. xxxi. 31, 32. [1646] Dan. vii. 18. [1647] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [1648] Rom. ix. 8. [1649] Gal. iv. 25, 26.

Chapter 15.--The Same Continued.

How then should there not be a feeling of just disquietude entertained by the children of promise, children of the free Jerusalem, which is eternal in the heavens, when they see that by the words of Pelagius the distinction which has been drawn by Apostolic and catholic authority is abolished, and Agar is supposed to be by some means on a par with Sarah? He therefore does injury to the scripture of the Old Testament with heretical impiety, who with an impious and sacrilegious face denies that it was inspired by the good, supreme, and very God,--as Marcion does, as Manichæus does, and other pests of similar opinions. On this account (that I may put into as brief a space as I can what my own views are on the subject), as much injury is done to the New Testament, when it is put on the same level with the Old Testament, as is inflicted on the Old itself when men deny it to be the work of the supreme God of goodness. Now, when Pelagius in his answer gave as his reason for saying that even in the Old Testament there was a promise of the kingdom of heaven, the testimony of the prophet Daniel, who most plainly foretold that the saints should receive the kingdom of the Most High, it was fairly decided that the statement of Pelagius was not opposed to the catholic faith, although not according to the distinction which shows that the earthly promises of Mount Sinai are the proper characteristics of the Old Testament; nor indeed was the decision an improper one, considering that mode of speech which designates all the canonical Scriptures which were given to men before the Lord's coming in the flesh by the title of the "Old Testament." The kingdom of the Most High is of course none other than the kingdom of God; otherwise, anybody might boldly contend that the kingdom of God is one thing, and the kingdom of heaven another.

Chapter 16 [VI.]--The Sixth Item of the Accusation, and Pelagius' Reply.

The next objection was to the effect that Pelagius in that same book of his wrote thus: "A man is able, if he likes, to be without sin;" and that writing to a certain widow he said, flatteringly: "In thee piety may find a dwelling-place, such as she finds nowhere else; in thee righteousness, though a stranger, can find a home; truth, which no one any longer recognises, can discover an abode and a friend in thee; and the law of God, which almost everybody despises, may be honoured by thee alone." And in another sentence he writes to her: "O how happy and blessed art thou, when that righteousness which we must believe to flourish only in heaven has found a shelter on earth only in thy heart!" In another work addressed to her, after reciting the prayer of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and teaching her in what manner saints ought to pray, he says: "He worthily raises his hands to God, and with a good conscience does he pour out his prayer, who is able to say, `Thou, O Lord, knowest how holy, and harmless, and pure from all injury and iniquity and violence, are the hands which I stretch out to Thee; how righteous, and pure, and free from all deceit, are the lips with which I offer to Thee my supplication, that Thou wouldst have mercy upon me.'" To all this Pelagius said in answer: "We asserted that a man could be without sin, and could keep God's commandments if he wished; for this capacity has been given to him by God. But we never said that any man could be found who at no time whatever, from infancy to old age, had committed sin: but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own labour and God's grace be without sin; and yet not even thus would he be incapable of change ever afterwards. As for the other statements which they have made against us, they are not to be found in our books, nor have we at any time said such things." Upon hearing this vindication, the synod put this question to him: "You have denied having ever written such words; are you therefore ready to anathematize those who do hold these opinions?" Pelagius answered: "I anathematize them as fools, not as heretics, for there is no dogma." The bishops then pronounced their judgment in these words: "Since now Pelagius has with his own mouth anathematized this vague statement as foolish verbiage, justly declaring in his reply, `That a man is able with God's assistance and grace to be without sin,' let him now proceed to answer the other heads of accusation against him."

Chapter 17.--Examination of the Sixth Charge and Answers.

Well, now, had the judges either the power or the right to condemn these unrecognised and vague words, when no person on the other side was present to assert that Pelagius had written the very culpable sentences which were alleged to have been addressed by him to the widow? In such a matter, it surely could not be enough to produce a manuscript, and to read out of it words as his, if there were not also witnesses forthcoming in case he denied, on the words being read out, that they ever dropped from his pen. But even here the judges did all that lay in their power to do, when they asked Pelagius whether he would anathematize the persons who held such sentiments as he declared he had never himself propounded either in speech or in writing. And when he answered that he did anathematize them as fools, what right had the judges to push the inquiry any further on the matter, in the absence of Pelagius' opponents?

Chapter 18.--The Same Continued.

But perhaps the point requires some consideration, whether he was right in saying that "such as held the opinions in question deserved anathema, not as heretics, but as fools, since it was no dogma." The question, when fairly confronted, is no doubt far from being an unimportant one,--how far a man deserves to be described as a heretic; on this occasion, however, the judges acted rightly in abstaining from it altogether. If any one, for example, were to allege that eaglets are suspended in the talons of the parent bird, and so exposed to the rays of the sun, and such as wink are flung to the ground as spurious, the light being in some mysterious way the gauge of their genuine nature, he is not to be accounted a heretic, if the story happens to be untrue. [1650] And, since it occurs in the writings of the learned and is very commonly received as fact, ought it to be considered a foolish thing to mention it, even though it be not true? much less ought our credit, which gains for us the name of being trustworthy, to be affected, on the one hand injuriously if the story be believed by us, or beneficially if disbelieved. [1651] If, to go a step further in illustration, any one were from this opinion to contend that there existed in birds reasonable souls, from the notion that human souls at intervals passed into them, then indeed we should have to reject from our mind and ears alike an idea like this as the rankest heresy; and even if the story about the eagles were true (as there are many curious facts about bees before our eyes, that are true), we should still have to consider, and demonstrate, the great difference that exists between the condition of creatures like these, which are quite irrational, however surprising in their powers of sensation, and the nature which is common (not to men and beasts, but) to men and angels. There are, to be sure, a great many foolish things said by foolish and ignorant persons, which yet fail to prove them heretics. One might instance the silly talk so commonly heard about the pursuits of other people, from persons who have never learned these pursuits,--equally hasty and untenable whether in the shape of excessive and indiscriminate praise of those they love, or of blame in the case of those they happen to dislike. The same remark might be made concerning the usual curent of human conversation: whenever it does touch on a subject which requires dogmatic acuracy of statement, but is thrown out at random or suggested by the passing moment, it is too often pervaded by foolish levity, whether uttered by the mouth or expressed in writing. Many persons, indeed, when gently reminded of their reckless gossip, have afterwards much regretted their conduct; they scarcely recollected what they had never uttered with a fixed purpose, but had poured forth in a sheer volley of casual and unconsidered words. It is, unhappily, almost impossible to be quite clear of such faults. Who is he "that slippeth not in his tongue," [1652] and "offendeth not in word?" [1653] It, however, makes all the difference in the world, to what extent, and from what motive, and whether in fact at all, a man when warned of his fault corrects it, or obstinately clings to it so as to make a dogma and settled opinion of that which he had not at first uttered on purpose, but only in levity. Although, then, it turns out eventually that every heretic is a fool, it does not follow that every fool must immediately be named a heretic. The judges were quite right in saying that Pelagius had anathematized the vague folly under consideration by its fitting designation for even if it were heresy, there could be no doubt of its being foolish prattle. Whatever, therefore, it was, they designated the offence under a general name. But whether the quoted words had been used with any definitely dogmatic purpose, or only in a vague and indeterminate sense, and with an unmeaningness which should be capable of an easy correction, they did not deem it necessary to discuss on the present occasion, since the man who was on his trial before them denied that the words were his at all, in whatever sense they had been employed.


[1650] It is told by Pliny, Hist. Nat. x. 3 (3), and Lucan, Pharsalia, ix. 902, etc. [1651] Creditum, however, is read in both clauses; we should expect non creditum in one, as one reading has it. [?--W.] [1652] See Ecclus. xix. 16. [1653] See Jas. iii. 2.

Chapter 19.--The Same Continued.

Now it so happened that, while we were reading this defence of Pelagius in the small paper which we received at first, [1654] there were present certain holy brethren, who said that they had in their possession some hortatory or consolatory works which Pelagius had addressed to a widow lady whose name did not appear, and they advised us to examine whether the words which he had abjured for his own occurred anywhere in these books. They were not themselves aware whether they did or not. The said books were accordingly read through, and the words in question were actually discovered in them. Moreover, they who had produced the copy of the book, affirmed that for now almost four years they had had these books as Pelagius', nor had they once heard a doubt expressed about his authorship. Considering, then, from the integrity of these servants of God, which was very well known to us, how impossible it was for them to use deceit in the matter, the conclusion seemed inevitable, that Pelagius must be supposed by us to have rather been the deceiver at his trial before the bishops; unless we should think it possible that something may have been published, even for so many years, in his name, although not actually composed by him; for our informants did not tell us that they had received the books from Pelagius himself, nor had they ever heard him admit his own authorship. Now, in my own case, certain of our brethren have told me that sundry writings have found their way into Spain under my name. Such persons, indeed, as had read my genuine writings could not recognise those others as mine; although by other persons my authorship of them was quite believed.


[1654] See below, in chap. 57 [xxxi.].

Chapter 20.--The Same Continued. Pelagius Acknowledges the Doctrine of Grace in Deceptive Terms.

There can be no doubt that what Pelagius has acknowledged as his own is as yet very obscure. I suppose, however, that it will become apparent in the subsequent details of these proceedings. Now he says: "We have affirmed that a man is able to be without sin, and to keep the commandments of God if he wishes, inasmuch as God has given him this ability. But we have not said that any man can be found, who from infancy to old age has never committed sin; but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own exertion and God's grace be without sin; and yet not even thus would he be incapable of change afterwards." Now it is quite uncertain what he means in these words by the grace of God; and the judges, catholic as they were, could not possibly understand by the phrase anything else than the grace which is so very strongly recommended to us in the apostle's teaching. Now this is the grace whereby we hope that we can be delivered from the body of this death through our Lord Jesus Christ, [1655] [VII.] and for the obtaining of which we pray that we may not be led into temptation. [1656] This grace is not nature, but that which renders assistance to frail and corrupted nature. This grace is not the knowledge of the law, but is that of which the apostle says: "I will not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." [1657] Therefore it is not "the letter that killeth, but the life-giving spirit." [1658] For the knowledge of the law, without the grace of the Spirit, produces all kinds of concupiscence in man; for, as the apostle says, "I had not known sin but by the law: I had not known lust, unless the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." [1659] By saying this, however, he blames not the law; he rather praises it, for he says afterwards: "The law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." [1660] And he goes on to ask: "Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, wrought death in me by that which is good." [1661] And, again, he praises the law by saying: "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I know not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." [1662] Observe, then, he knows the law, praises it, and consents to it; for what it commands, that he also wishes; and what it forbids, and condemns, that he also hates: but for all that, what he hates, that he actually does. There is in his mind, therefore, a knowledge of the holy law of God, but still his evil concupiscence is not cured. He has a good will within him, but still what he does is evil. Hence it comes to pass that, amidst the mutual struggles of the two laws within him,--"the law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and making him captive to the law of sin," [1663] --he confesses his misery; and exclaims in such words as these: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." [1664]


[1655] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [1656] Matt. vi. 13. [1657] Gal. ii. 21. [1658] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [1659] Rom. vii. 7, 8. [1660] Rom. vii. 12. [1661] Rom. vii. 13. [1662] Rom. vii. 14-16. [1663] Rom. vii. 23. [1664] Rom. vii. 24, 25.

Chapter 21 [VIII.]--The Same Continued.

It is not nature, therefore, which, sold as it is under sin and wounded by the offence, longs for a Redeemer and Saviour; nor is it the knowledge of the law--through which comes the discovery, not the expulsion, of sin--which delivers us from the body of this death; but it is the Lord's good grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1665] Chapter 21 [IX.]--The Same Continued. This grace is not dying nature, nor the slaying letter, but the vivifying spirit; for already did he possess nature with freedom of will, because he said: "To will is present with me." [1666] Nature, however, in a healthy condition and without a flaw, he did not possess, for he said: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth nothing good." [1667] Already had he the knowledge of God's holy law, for he said: "I had not known sin but through the law;" [1668] yet for all that, he did not possess strength and power to practise and fulfil righteousness, for he complained: "What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." [1669] And again, "How to accomplish that which is good I find not." [1670] Therefore it is not from the liberty of the human will, nor from the precepts of the law, that there comes deliverance from the body of this death; for both of these he had already,--the one in his nature, the other in his learning; but all he wanted was the help of the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


[1665] Rom. vii. 25. [1666] Rom. vii. 18. [1667] Rom. vii. 18. [1668] Rom. vii. 7. [1669] Rom. vii. 15. [1670] Rom. vii. 18.

Chapter 22 [X.]--The Same Continued. The Synod Supposed that the Grace Acknowledged by Pelagius Was that Which Was So Thoroughly Known to the Church.

This grace, then, which was most completely known in the catholic Church (as the bishops were well aware), they supposed Pelagius made confession of, when they heard him say that "a man, when converted from his sins, is able by his own exertion and the grace of God to be without sin." For my own part, however, I remembered the treatise which had been given to me, that I might refute it, by those servants of God, who had been Pelagius' followers. [1671] They, notwithstanding their great affection for him, plainly acknowledged that the passage was his; when, on this question being proposed, because he had already given offence to very many persons from advancing views against the grace of God, he most expressly admitted that "what he meant by God's grace was that, when our nature was created, it received the capacity of not sinning, because it was created with free will." On account, therefore, of this treatise, I cannot help feeling still anxious, whilst many of the brethren who are well acquainted with his discussions, share in my anxiety, lest under the ambiguity which notoriously characterizes his words there lies some latent reserve, and lest he should afterwards tell his followers that it was without prejudice to his own doctrine that he made any admissions,--discoursing thus: "I no doubt asserted that a man was able by his own exertion and the grace of God to live without sin; but you know very well what I mean by grace; and you may recollect reading that grace is that in which we are created by God with a free will." Accordingly, while the bishops understood him to mean the grace by which we have by adoption been made new creatures, not that by which we were created (for most plainly does Holy Scripture instruct us in the former sense of grace as the true one), ignorant of his being a heretic, they acquitted him as a catholic. [1672] I must say that my suspicion is excited also by this, that in the work which I answered, he most openly said that "righteous Abel never sinned at all." [1673] Now, however, he thus expresses himself: "But we did not say that any man could be found who at no time whatever, from infancy to old age, has committed sin; but that, if any man were converted from his sins, he could by his own labour and God's grace be without sin." [1674] When speaking of righteous Abel, he did not say that after being converted from his sins he became sinless in a new life, but that he never committed sin at all. If, then, that book be his, it must of course be corrected and amended from his answer. For I should be sorry to say that he was insincere in his more recent statement; lest perhaps he should say that he had forgotten what he had previously written in the book we have quoted. Let us therefore direct our view to what afterwards occurred. Now, from the sequel of these ecclesiastical proceedings, we can by God's help show that, although Pelagius, as some suppose, cleared himself in his examination, and was at all events acquitted by his judges (who were, however, but human beings after all), that this great heresy, [1675] which we should be most unwilling to see making further progress or becoming aggravated in guilt, was undoubtedly itself condemned.


[1671] Timasius and Jacobus, at whose instance Augustin wrote, and to whom he addressed his book De Naturâ et Gratiâ. [1672] The reader may consult the treatise De Naturâ et Gratiâ, chs. 53 and 54, on this opinion of Pelagius. [1673] See De Naturâ et Gratiâ, xxxvii. (44). [1674] See above, ch. 16 (vi). [1675] Hanc talem hæresim.

Chapter 23 [XI.]--The Seventh Item of the Accusation: the Breviates of Coelestius Objected to Pelagius.

Then follow sundry statements charged against Pelagius, which are said to be found among the opinions of his disciple Coelestius: how that "Adam was created mortal, and would have died whether he had sinned or not sinned; that Adam's sin injured only himself and not the human race; that the law no less than the gospel leads us to the kingdom; that there were sinless men previous to the coming of Christ; that new-born infants are in the same condition as Adam was before the fall; that the whole human race does not, on the one hand, die through Adam's death or transgression, nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise again through the resurrection of Christ." These have been so objected to, that they are even said to have been, after a full hearing, condemned at Carthage by your holiness and other bishops associated with you. [1676] I was not present on that occasion, as you will recollect; but afterwards, on my arrival at Carthage, I read over the Acts of the synod, some of which I perfectly well remember, but I do not know whether all the tenets now mentioned occur among them. But what matters it if some of them were possibly not mentioned, and so not included in the condemnation of the synod when it is quite clear that they deserve condemnation? Sundry other points of error were next alleged against him, connected with the mention of my own name. [1677] They had been transmitted to me from Sicily, some of our Catholic brethren there being perplexed by questions of this kind; and I drew up a reply to them in a little work addressed to Hilary, [1678] who had consulted me respecting them in a letter. My answer, in my opinion, was a sufficient one. These are the errors referred to: "That a man is able to be without sin if he wishes. That infants, even if they die unbaptized, have eternal life. That rich men, even if they are baptized, unless they renounce all, have, whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned to them; neither can they possess the kingdom of God."


[1676] Compare Augustin's work De Peccato Originali, ch. xi. (12). [1677] See same treatise as before, and same chapter. [1678] See Augustin's letter to Hilary, in Epist 157.

Chapter 24.--Pelagius' Answer to the Charges Brought Together Under the Seventh Item.

The following, as the proceedings testify, was Pelagius' own answer to these charges against him: "Concerning a man's being able indeed to be without sin, we have spoken," says he, "already; concerning the fact, however, that before the Lord's coming there were persons without sin, we say now that, previous to Christ's advent, some men lived holy and righteous lives, according to the teaching of the sacred Scriptures. The rest were not said by me, as even their testimony goes to show, and for them, I do not feel that I am responsible. But for the satisfaction of the holy synod, I anathematize those who either now hold, or have ever held, these opinions." After hearing this answer of his, the synod said: "With regard to these charges aforesaid, Pelagius has in our presence given us sufficient and proper satisfaction, by anathematizing the opinions which were not his." We see, therefore, and maintain that the most pernicious evils of this heresy have been condemned, not only by Pelagius, but also by the holy bishops who presided over that inquiry:--that "Adam was made mortal;" (and, that the meaning of this statement might be more clearly understood, it was added, "and he would have died whether he had sinned or not sinned;") that his sin injured only himself and not the human race; that the law, no less than the gospel, leads us to the kingdom of heaven; that new born infants are in the same condition that Adam was before the fall; that the entire human race does not, on the one hand, die through Adam's death and transgression, nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise again through the resurrection of Christ; that infants, even if they die unbaptized, have eternal life; that rich men even if baptized, unless they renounce and give up all, have, whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned to them, neither can they possess the kingdom of God;"--all these opinions, at any rate, were clearly condemned in that ecclesiastical court,--Pelagius pronouncing the anathema, and the bishops the interlocutory sentence.

Chapter 25.--The Pelagians Falsely Pretended that the Eastern Churches Were on Their Side.

Now, by reason of these questions, and the very contentious assertions of these tenets, which are everywhere accompanied with heated feelings, many weak brethren were disturbed. We have accordingly, in the anxiety of that love which it becomes us to feel towards the Church of Christ through His grace, and out of regard to Marcellinus of blessed memory (who was extremely vexed day by day by these disputers, and who asked my advice by letter), been obliged to write on some of these questions, and especially on the baptism of infants. On this same subject also I afterwards, at your request, and assisted by your prayers, delivered an earnest address, to the best of my ability, in the church of the Majores, [1679] holding in my hands an epistle of the most glorious martyr Cyprian, and reading therefrom and applying his words on the very matter, in order to remove this dangerous error out of the hearts of sundry persons, who had been persuaded to take up with the opinions which, as we see, were condemned in these proceedings. These opinions it has been attempted by their promoters to force upon the minds of some of the brethren, by threatening, as if from the Eastern Churches, that unless they adopted the said opinions, they would be formally condemned by those Churches. Observe, however, that no less than fourteen bishops of the Eastern Church, [1680] assembled in synod in the land where the Lord manifested His presence in the days of His flesh, refused to acquit Pelagius unless he condemned these opinions as opposed to the Catholic faith. Since, therefore, he was then acquitted because he anathematized such views, it follows beyond a doubt that the said opinions were condemned. This, indeed, will appear more clearly still, and on still stronger evidence, in the sequel.


[1679] "In the Basilica Majorum." According to another reading, "the church of Majorinus." [1680] Augustin mentions their names in his work Contra Julianum, Book i. ch. v. (19).

Chapter 26.--The Accusations in the Seventh Item, Which Pelagius Confessed.

Let us now see what were the two points out of all that were alleged which Pelagius was unwilling to anathematize, and admitted to be his own opinions, but to remove their offensive aspect explained in what sense he held them. "That a man," says he, "is able to be without sin has been asserted already." Asserted no doubt, and we remember the assertion quite well; but still it was mitigated, and approved by the judges, in that God's grace was added, concerning which nothing was said in the original draft of his doctrine. Touching the second, however, of these points, we ought to pay careful attention to what he said in answer to the charge against him. "Concerning the fact, indeed," says he, "that before the Lord's coming there were persons without sin, we now again assert that previous to Christ's advent some men lived holy and righteous lives, according to the teaching of the sacred Scriptures." He did not dare to say: "We now again assert that previous to Christ's advent there were persons without sin," although this had been laid to his charge after the very words of Coelestius. For he perceived how dangerous such a statement was, and into what trouble it would bring him. So he reduced the sentence to these harmless dimensions: "We again assert that before the coming of Christ there were persons who led holy and righteous lives." Of course there were: who would deny it? But to say this is a very different thing from saying that they lived "without sin." Because, indeed, those ancient worthies lived holy and righteous lives, they could for that very reason better confess: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [1681] In the present day, also, many men live holy and righteous lives; but yet it is no untruth they utter when in their prayer they say: "Forgive us our debts, even as we forgive our debtors." [1682] This avowal was accordingly acceptable to the judges, in the sense in which Pelagius solemnly declared his belief; but certainly not in the sense which Coelestius, according to the original charge against him, was said to hold. We must now treat in detail of the topics which still remain, to the best of our ability.


[1681] 1 John i. 8. [1682] Matt. vi. 12.

Chapter 27 [XII.]--The Eighth Item in the Accusation.

Pelagius was charged with having said: "That the Church here is without spot or wrinkle." It was on this point that the Donatists also were constantly at conflict with us in our conference. We used, in their case, to lay especial stress on the mixture of bad men with good, like that of the chaff with the wheat; and we were led to this idea by the similitude of the threshing-floor. We might apply the same illustration in answer to our present opponents, unless indeed they would have the Church consist only of good men, whom they assert to be without any sin whatever, that so the Church might be without spot or wrinkle. If this be their meaning, then I repeat the same words as I quoted just now; for how can they be members of the Church, of whom the voice of a truthful humility declares, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us?" [1683] or how could the Church offer up that prayer which the Lord taught her to use, "Forgive us our debts," [1684] if in this world the Church is without a spot or blemish? In short, they must themselves submit to be strictly catechised respecting themselves: do they really allow that they have any sins of their own? If their answer is in the negative, then they must be plainly told that they are deceiving themselves, and the truth is not in them. If, however, they shall acknowledge that they do commit sin, what is this but a confession of their own wrinkle and spot? They therefore are not members of the Church; because the Church is without spot and wrinkle, while they have both spot and wrinkle.


[1683] 1 John i. 8. [1684] Matt. vi. 12.

Chapter 28.--Pelagius' Reply to the Eighth Item of Accusation.

But to this objection he replied with a watchful caution such as the catholic judges no doubt approved. "It has," says he, "been asserted by me,--but in such a sense that the Church is by the laver cleansed from every spot and wrinkle, and in this purity the Lord wishes her to continue." Whereupon the synod said: "Of this also we approve." And who amongst us denies that in baptism the sins of all men are remitted, and that all believers come up spotless and pure from the laver of regeneration? Or what catholic Christian is there who wishes not, as his Lord also wishes, and as it is meant to be, that the Church should remain always without spot or wrinkle? For in very deed God is now in His mercy and truth bringing it about, that His holy Church should be conducted to that perfect state in which she is to remain without spot or wrinkle for evermore. But between the laver, where all past stains and deformities are removed, and the kingdom, where the Church will remain for ever without any spot or wrinkle, there is this present intermediate time of prayer, during which her cry must of necessity be: "Forgive us our debts." Hence arose the objection against them for saying that "the Church here on earth is without spot or wrinkle;" from the doubt whether by this opinion they did not boldly prohibit that prayer whereby the Church in her present baptized state entreats day and night for herself the forgiveness of her sins. On the subject of this intervening period between the remission of sins which takes place in baptism, and the perpetuity of sinlessness which is to be in the kingdom of heaven, no proceedings ensued with Pelagius, and no decision was pronounced by the bishops. Only he thought that some brief indication ought to be given that he had not expressed himself in the way which the accusation against him seemed to state. As to his saying, "This has been asserted by me,--but in such a sense," what else did he mean to convey than the idea that he had not in fact expressed himself in the same manner as he was supposed to have done by his accusers? That, however, which induced the judges to say that they were satisfied with his answer was baptism as the means of being washed from our sins; and the kingdom of heaven, in which the holy Church, which is now in process of cleansing, shall continue in a sinless state for ever: this is clear from the evidence, so far as I can form an opinion.

Chapter 29 [XIII.]--The Ninth Item of the Accusation; And Pelagius' Reply.

The next objections were urged out of the book of Coelestius, following the contents of each several chapter, but rather according to the sense than the words. These indeed he expatiates on rather fully; they, however, who presented the indictment against Pelagius said that they had been unable at the moment to adduce all the words. In the first chapter, then, of Coelestius' book they alleged that the following was written: "That we do more than is commanded us in the law and the gospel." To this Pelagius replied: "This they have set down as my statement. What we said, however, was in keeping with the apostle's assertion concerning virginity, of which Paul writes: `I have no commandment of the Lord.'" [1685] Upon this the synod said: "This also the Church receives." I have read for myself the meaning which Coelestius gives to this in his book,--for he does not deny that the book is his. Now he made this statement obviously with the view of persuading us that we possess through the nature of free will so great an ability for avoiding sin, that we are able to do more than is commanded us; for a perpetual virginity is maintained by very many persons, and this is not commanded; whereas, in order to avoid sin, it is sufficient to fulfil what is commanded. When the judges, however, accepted Pelagius' answer, they did not take it to convey the idea that those persons keep all the commandments of the law and the gospel who over and above maintain the state of virginity, which is not commanded,--but only this, that virginity, which is not commanded, is something more than conjugal chastity, which is commanded; so that to observe the one is of course more than to keep the other; whereas, at the same time, neither can be maintained without the grace of God, inasmuch as the apostle, in speaking of this very subject, says: "But I would that all men were even as I myself. Every man, however, hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." [1686] And even the Lord Himself, upon the disciples remarking, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry" (or, as it may be better expressed in Latin, "it is not expedient to take a wife"), [1687] said to them: "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given." [1688] This, therefore, is the doctrine which the bishops of the synod declared to be received by the Church, that the state of virginity, persevered in to the last, which is not commanded, is more than the chastity of married life, which is commanded. In what view Pelagius or Coelestius regarded this subject, the judges were not aware.


[1685] 1 Cor. vii. 25. [1686] 1 Cor. vii. 7. [1687] This "better expression," "non expedit ducere," Augustin substitutes for the reading "non expedit nubere," as applied to a woman's taking a husband. The original, gamesai [not gameisthai], justifies Augustin's preference. [1688] Matt. xix. 10, 11.

Chapter 30 [XIV.]--The Tenth Item in the Accusation. The More Prominent Points of Coelestius' Work Continued.

After this we find objected against Pelagius some other points of Coelestius' teaching,--prominent ones, and undoubtedly worthy of condemnation; such, indeed, as would certainly have involved Pelagius in condemnation, if he had not anathematized them in the synod. Under his third head Coelestius was alleged to have written: "That God's grace and assistance is not given for single actions, but is imparted in the freedom of the will, or in the law and in doctrine." And again: "That God's grace is given in proportion to our deserts; because, were He to give it to sinful persons, He would seem to be unrighteous." And from these words he inferred that "therefore grace itself has been placed in my will, according as I have been either worthy or unworthy of it. For if we do all things by grace, then whenever we are overcome by sin, it is not we who are overcome, but God's grace, which wanted by all means to help us, but was not able." And once more he says: "If, when we conquer sin, it is by the grace of God; then it is He who is in fault whenever we are conquered by sin, because He was either altogether unable or unwilling to keep us safe." To these charges Pelagius replied: "Whether these are really the opinions of Coelestius or not, is the concern of those who say that they are. For my own part, indeed, I never entertained such views; on the contrary, I anathematize every one who does entertain them." Then the synod said: "This holy synod accepts you for your condemnation of these impious words." Now certainly there can be no mistake, in regard to these opinions, either as to the clear way in which Pelagius pronounced on them his anathema, or as to the absolute terms in which the bishops condemned them. Whether Pelagius or Coelestius, or both of them, or neither of them, or other persons with them or in their name, have ever held or still hold these sentiments,--may be doubtful or obscure; but nevertheless by this judgment of the bishops it has been declared plainly enough that they have been condemned, and that Pelagius would have been condemned along with them, unless he had himself condemned them too. Now, after this trial, it is certain that whenever we enter on a controversy touching opinions of this kind, we only discuss an already condemned heresy.

Chapter 31.--Remarks on the Tenth Item.

I shall make my next remark with greater satisfaction. In a former section I expressed a fear [1689] that, when Pelagius said that "a man was able by the help of God's grace to live without sin," he perhaps meant by the term "grace" the capability possessed by nature as created by God with a free will, as it is understood in that book which I received as his and to which I replied; [1690] and that by these means he was deceiving the judges, who were ignorant of the circumstances. Now, however, since he anathematizes those persons who hold that "God's grace and assistance is not given for single actions, but is imparted in the freedom of the will, or in the law and in doctrine," it is quite evident that he really means the grace which is preached in the Church of Christ, and is conferred by the ministration of the Holy Ghost for the purpose of helping us in our single actions, whence it is that we pray for needful and suitable grace that we enter not into any temptation. Nor, again, have I any longer a fear that, when he said, "No man can be without sin unless he has acquired a knowledge of the law," and added this explanation of his words, that "he posited in the knowledge of the law, help towards the avoidance of sin," [1691] he at all meant the said knowledge to be considered as tantamount to the grace of God; for, observe, he anathematizes such as hold this opinion. See, too, how he refuses to hold our natural free will, or the law and doctrine, as equivalent to that grace of God which helps us through our single actions. What else then is left to him but to understand that grace which the apostle tells us is given by "the supply of the Spirit?" [1692] and concerning which the Lord said: "Take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." [1693] Nor, again, need I be under any apprehension that, when he asserted, "All men are ruled by their own will," and afterwards explained that he had made that statement "in the interest of the freedom of our will, of which God is the helper whenever it makes choice of good," [1694] that he perhaps here also held God's helping grace as synonymous with our natural free will and the teaching of the law. For inasmuch as he rightly anathematized the persons who hold that God's grace or assistance is not given for single actions, but lies in the gift of free will, or in the law and doctrine, it follows, of course, that God's grace or assistance is given us for single actions,--free will, or the law and the doctrine, being left out of consideration; and thus through all the single actions of our life, when we act rightly, we are ruled and directed by God; nor is our prayer a useless one, wherein we say: "Order my steps according to Thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." [1695]


[1689] See above, (20). [1690] He refers to Pelagius' work which Augustin received from Jacobus and Timasius, aud against which he wrote his treatise De Naturâ et Gratiâ. [1691] See above, (2). [1692] Phil. i. 19. [1693] Matt. x. 19, 20. [1694] See above, (5). [1695] Ps. cxix. 133.

Chapter 32.--The Eleventh Item of the Accusation.

But what comes afterwards again fills me with anxiety. On its being objected to him, from the fifth chapter of Coelestius' book, that "they say that every individual has the ability to possess all powers and graces, thus taking away that `diversity of graces,' which the apostle teaches," Pelagius replied: "We have certainly said so much; but yet they have laid against us a malignant and blundering charge. We do not take away the diversity of graces; but we declare that God gives to the person, who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces, even as He conferred them on the Apostle Paul." Hereupon the Synod said: "You accordingly do yourself hold the doctrine of the Church touching the gift of the graces, which are collectively possessed by the apostle." Here some one may say, "Why then is he anxious? Do you on your side deny that all the powers and graces were combined in the apostle?" For my own part, indeed, if all those are to be understood which the apostle has himself mentioned together in one passage,--as, I suppose, the bishops understood Pelagius to mean when they approved of his answer, and pronounced it to be in keeping with the sense of the Church,--then I do not doubt that the apostle had them all; for he says: "And God hath set some in the Church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." [1696] What then? shall we say that the Apostle Paul did not possess all these gifts himself? Who would be bold enough to assert this? The very fact that he was an apostle showed, of course, that he possessed the grace of the apostolate. He possessed also that of prophecy; for was not that a prophecy of his in which he says: "In the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils?" [1697] He was, moreover, "the teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity." [1698] He performed miracles also and cures; for he shook off from his hand, unhurt, the biting viper; [1699] and the cripple stood upright on his feet at the apostle's word, and his strength was at once restored. [1700] It is not clear what he means by helps, for the term is of very wide application; but who can say that he was wanting even in this grace, when through his labours such helps were manifestly afforded towards the salvation of mankind? Then as to his possessing the grace of "government," what could be more excellent than his administration, when the Lord at that time governed so many churches by his personal agency, and governs them still in our day through his epistles? And in respect of the "diversities of tongues," what tongues could have been wanting to him, when he says himself: "I thank my God that I speak with tongues more than you all?" [1701] It being thus inevitable to suppose that not one of these was wanting to the Apostle Paul, the judges approved of Pelagius' answer, wherein he said "that all graces were conferred upon him." But there are other graces in addition to these which are not mentioned here. For it is not to be supposed, however greatly the Apostle Paul excelled others as a member of Christ's body, that the very Head itself of the entire body did not receive more and ampler graces still, whether in His flesh or His soul as man; for such a created nature did the Word of God assume as His own into the unity of His Person, that He might be our Head, and we His body. And in very deed, if all gifts could be in each member, it would be evident that the similitude, which is used to illustrate this subject, of the several members of our body is inapplicable; for some things are common to the members in general, such as life and health, whilst other things are peculiar to the separate members, since the ear has no perception of colours, nor the eye of voices. Hence it is written: "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? if the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" [1702] Now this of course is not said as if it were impossible for God to impart to the ear the sense of seeing, or to the eye the function of hearing. However, what He does in Christ's body, which is the Church, and what the apostle meant by diversity of graces [1703] as if through the different members, there might be gifts proper even to every one separately, is clearly known. Why, too, and on what ground they who raised the objection were so unwilling to have taken away all difference in graces, why, moreover, the bishops of the synod were able to approve of the answer given by Pelagius in deference to the Apostle Paul, in whom we admit the combination of all those graces which he mentioned in the one particular passage, is by this time clear also.


[1696] 1 Cor. xii. 28. [1697] 1 Tim. iv. 1. [1698] 1 Tim. ii. 7. [1699] Acts xxviii. 5. [1700] Acts xiv. 8, 9. [1701] 1 Cor. xiv. 18. [1702] 1 Cor. xii. 17. [1703] Another reading has Ecclesiarum, instead of gratiarum; q.d. "difference in churches."

Chapter 33.--Discussion of the Eleventh Item Continued.

What, then, is the reason why, as I said just now, I felt anxious on the subject of this head of his doctrine? It is occasioned by what Pelagius says in these words: "That God gives to the man who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces, even as He conferred them on the Apostle Paul." Now, I should not have felt any anxiety about this answer of Pelagius, if it were not closely connected with the cause which we are bound to guard with the utmost care--even that God's grace may never be attacked, while we are silent or dissembling in respect of so great an evil. As, therefore, he does not say, that God gives to whom He will, but that "God gives to the man who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all these graces," I could not help being suspicious, when I read such words. For the very name of grace, and the thing that is meant by it, is taken away, if it is not bestowed gratuitously, but he only receives it who is worthy of it. Will anybody say that I do the apostle wrong, because I do not admit him to have been worthy of grace? Nay, I should indeed rather do him wrong, and bring on myself a punishment, if I refused to believe what he himself says. Well, now, has he not pointedly so defined grace as to show that it is so called because it is bestowed gratuitously? These are his own very words: "And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace." [1704] In accordance with this, he says again: "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." [1705] Whosoever, therefore, is worthy, to him it is due; and if it is thus due to him, it ceases to be grace; for grace is given, but a debt is paid. Grace, therefore, is given to those who are unworthy, that a debt may be paid to them when they become worthy. He, however, who has bestowed on the unworthy the gifts which they possessed not before, does Himself take care that they shall have whatever things He means to recompense to them when they become worthy.


[1704] Rom. xi. 6. [1705] Rom. iv. 4.

Chapter 34.--The Same Continued. On the Works of Unbelievers; Faith is the Initial Principle from Which Good Works Have Their Beginning; Faith is the Gift of God's Grace.

He will perhaps say to this: "It was not because of his works, but in consequence of his faith, that I said the apostle was worthy of having all those great graces bestowed upon him. His faith deserved this distinction, but not his works, which were not previously good." Well, then, are we to suppose that faith does not work? Surely faith does work in a very real way, for it "worketh by love." [1706] Preach up, however, as much as you like, the works of unbelieving men, we still know how true and invincible is the statement of this same apostle: "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." [1707] The very reason, indeed, why he so often declares that righteousness is imputed to us, not out of our works, but our faith, whereas faith rather works through love, is that no man should think that he arrives at faith itself through the merit of his works; for it is faith which is the beginning whence good works first proceed; since (as has already been stated) whatsoever comes not from faith is sin. Accordingly, it is said to the Church, in the Song of Songs: "Thou shalt come and pass by from the beginning of faith." [1708] Although, therefore, faith procures the grace of producing good works, we certainly do not deserve by any faith that we should have faith itself; but, in its bestowal upon us, in order that we may follow the Lord by its help, "His mercy has prevented us." [1709] Was it we ourselves that gave it to us? Did we ourselves make ourselves faithful? I must by all means say here, emphatically: "It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." [1710] And indeed nothing else than this is pressed upon us in the apostle's teaching, when he says: "For I declare, through the grace that is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." [1711] Whence, too, arises the well-known challenge: "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" [1712] inasmuch as we have received even that which is the spring from which everything we have of good in our actions takes its beginning.


[1706] Gal. v. 6. [1707] Rom. xiv. 23. [1708] Cant. iv. 8. [1709] Ps. lix. 10. [1710] Ps. c. 3. [1711] Rom. xii. 3. [1712] 1 Cor. iv. 7.

Chapter 35.--The Same Continued.

"What, then, is the meaning of that which the same apostle says: `I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day;' [1713] if these are not recompenses paid to the worthy, but gifts, bestowed on the unworthy?" He who says this, does not consider that the crown could not have been given to the man who is worthy of it, unless grace had been first bestowed on him whilst unworthy of it. He says indeed: "I have fought a good fight;" [1714] but then he also says: "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord." [1715] He says too: "I have finished my course;" but he says again: "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." [1716] He says, moreover: "I have kept the faith;" but then it is he too who says again: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep my deposit against that day"--that is, "my commendation;" for some copies have not the word depositum, but commendatum, which yields a plainer sense. [1717] Now, what do we commend to God's keeping, except the things which we pray Him to preserve for us, and amongst these our very faith? For what else did the Lord procure for the Apostle Peter by His prayer for him, [1718] of which He said, "I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not," [1719] than that God would preserve his faith, that it should not fail by giving way to temptation? Therefore, blessed Paul, thou great preacher of grace, I will say it without fear of any man (for who will be less angry with me for so saying than thyself, who hast told us what to say, and taught us what to teach?)--I will, I repeat, say it, and fear no man for the assertion: Their own crown is recompensed to their merits; but thy merits are the gifts of God!


[1713] 2 Tim. iv. 7. [1714] 2 Tim. iv. 7. [1715] 1 Cor. xv. 57. [1716] Rom. ix. 16. [1717] 2 Tim. i. 12. St. Paul's phrase, ten paratheken mou, has been taken in two senses, as (1) what God had entrusted to him; and (2) what the apostle had entrusted to God's keeping. St. Augustin, it will be seen, here takes the latter sense. [1718] There seems to be a corruption in the text here: "Quid aliud apostolo Petro Dominus commendavit orando." Another reading inserts de before the word apostolo. Our version is rather of the apparent sense than of the words of the passage. [1719] Luke xxii. 32.

Chapter 36.--The Same Continued. The Monk Pelagius. Grace is Conferred on the Unworthy.

His due reward, therefore, is recompensed to the apostle as worthy of it; but still it was grace which bestowed on him the apostleship itself, which was not his due, and of which he was not worthy. Shall I be sorry for having said this? God forbid! For under his own testimony shall I find a ready protection from such reproach; nor will any man charge me with audacity, unless he be himself audacious enough to charge the apostle with mendacity. He frankly says, nay he protests, that he commends the gifts of God within himself, so that he glories not in himself at all, but in the Lord; [1720] he not only declares that he possessed no good deserts in himself why he should be made an apostle, but he even mentions his own demerits, in order to manifest and preach the grace of God. "I am not meet," says he, "to be called an apostle;" [1721] and what else does this mean than "I am not worthy"--as indeed several Latin copies read the phrase. Now this, to be sure, is the very gist of our question; for undoubtedly in this grace of apostleship all those graces are contained. For it was neither convenient nor right that an apostle should not possess the gift of prophecy, nor be a teacher, nor be illustrious for miracles and the gifts of healings, nor furnish needful helps, nor provide governments over the churches, nor excel in diversities of tongues. All these functions the one name of apostleship embraces. Let us, therefore, consult the man himself, nay listen wholly to him. Let us say to him: "Holy Apostle Paul, the monk Pelagius declares that thou wast worthy to receive all the graces of thine apostleship. What dost thou say thyself?" He answers: "I am not worthy to be called an apostle." Shall I then, under pretence of honouring Paul, in a matter concerning Paul, dare to believe Pelagius in preference to Paul? I will not do so; for if I did, I should only prove to be more onerous to myself than honouring to him. [1722] Let us hear also why he is not worthy to be called an apostle: "Because," says he, "I persecuted the Church of God." [1723] Now, were we to follow up the idea here expressed, who would not judge that he rather deserved from Christ condemnation, instead of an apostolic call? Who could so love the preacher as not to loathe the persecutor? Well, therefore, and truly does he say of himself: "I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." As thou wroughtest then such evil, how camest thou to earn such good? Let all men hear his answer: "But by the grace of God, I am what I am." Is there, then, no other way in which grace is commended, than because it is conferred on an unworthy recipient? "And His grace," he adds, "which was bestowed on me was not in vain." [1724] He says this as a lesson to others also, to show the freedom of the will, when he says: "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." [1725] Whence however does he derive his proof, that "His grace bestowed on himself was not in vain," except from the fact which he goes on to mention: "But I laboured more abundantly than they all?" [1726] So it seems he did not labour in order to receive grace, but he received grace in order that he might labour. And thus, when unworthy, he gratuitously received grace, whereby he might become worthy to receive the due reward. Not that he ventured to claim even his labour for himself; for, after saying: "I laboured more abundantly than they all," he at once subjoined: "Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." [1727] O mighty teacher, confessor, and preacher of grace! What meaneth this: "I laboured more, yet not I?" Where the will exalted itself ever so little, there piety was instantly on the watch, and humility trembled, because weakness recognised itself.


[1720] 1 Cor. i. 31. [1721] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [1722] This is a poor imitation of Augustin's playful words: "Me potius onerabo quam illum honorabo." [1723] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [1724] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [1725] 2 Cor. vi. 1. [1726] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [1727] 1 Cor. xv. 10.

Chapter 37--The Same Continued. John, Bishop of Jerusalem, and His Examination.

With great propriety, as the proceedings show, did John, the holy overseer of the Church of Jerusalem, employ the authority of this same passage of the apostle, as he himself told our brethren the bishops who were his assessors at that trial, on their asking him what proceedings had taken place before him previous to the trial. [1728] He told them that "on the occasion in question, whilst some were whispering, and remarking on Pelagius' statement, that `without God's grace man was able to attain perfection' (that is, as he had previously expressed it, `man was able to be without sin'), he censured the statement, and reminded them besides, that even the Apostle Paul, after so many labours--not indeed in his own strength, but by the grace of God--said: `I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me;' [1729] and again: `It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;' [1730] and again: `Except the Lord build the house, they labour but in vain who build it.' [1731] And," he added, "we quoted several other like passages out of the Holy Scriptures. When, however, they did not receive the quotations which we made out of the Holy Scriptures, but continued their murmuring noise, Pelagius said: `This is what I also believe; let him be anathema, who declares that a man is able, without God's help, to arrive at the perfection of all virtues.'"


[1728] In a conference held at Jerusalem at the end of July in the year 415, as described by Orosius in his Apology. [1729] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [1730] Rom. ix. 16. [1731] Ps. cxxvii. 1.

Chapter 38 [XV.]--The Same Continued.

Bishop John narrated all this in the hearing of Pelagius; but he, of course, might respectfully say: "Your holiness is in error; you do not accurately remember the facts. It was not in reference to the passages of Scripture which you have quoted that I uttered the words: `This is what I also believe.' Because this is not my opinion of them. I do not understand them to say, that God's grace so co-operates with man, that his abstinence from sin is due, not to `him that willeth, nor to him that runneth, but to God that showeth mercy.'" [1732]


[1732] Rom. ix. 16.

Chapter 39 [XVI.]--The Same Continued. Heros and Lazarus; Orosius.

Now there are some expositions of Paul's Epistle to the Romans which are said to have been written by Pelagius himself, [1733] --in which he asserts, that the passage: "Not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," was "not said in Paul's own person; but that he therein employed the language of questioning and refutation, as if such a statement ought not to be made." No safe conclusion, therefore, can be drawn, although the bishop John plainly acknowledged the passage in question as conveying the mind of the apostle, and mentioned it for the very purpose of hindering Pelagius from thinking that any man can avoid sin without God's grace, and declared that Pelagius said in answer: "This is what I also believe," and did not, upon hearing all this, repudiate his admission by replying: "This is not my belief." He ought, indeed, either to deny altogether, or unhesitatingly to correct and amend this perverse exposition, in which he would have it, that the apostle must not be regarded as entertaining the sentiment, [1734] but rather as refuting it. Now, whatever Bishop John said of our brethren who were absent--whether our brother bishops Heros and Lazarus, or the presbyter Orosius, or any others whose names are not there registered, [1735] --I am sure that he did not mean it to operate to their prejudice. For, had they been present, they might possibly (I am far from saying it absolutely) have convicted him of untruth; at any rate they might perhaps have reminded him of something he had forgotten, or something in which he might have been deceived by the Latin interpreter--not, to be sure, for the purpose of misleading him by untruth, but at least, owing to some difficulty occasioned by a foreign language, only imperfectly understood; especially as the question was not treated in the Proceedings, [1736] which were drawn up for the useful purpose of preventing deceit on the part of evil men, and of preserving a record to assist the memory of good men. If, however, any man shall be disposed by this mention of our brethren to introduce any question or doubt on the subject, and summon them before the Episcopal judgment, they will not be wanting to themselves, as occasion shall serve. Why need we here pursue the point, when not even the judges themselves, after the narrative of our brother bishop, were inclined to pronounce any definite sentence in consequence of it?


[1733] See the treatise De Peccatorum Meritis, iii. 1. [1734] Rom. ix. 16. [1735] Avitus, perhaps, Passerius, and Dominus ex duce, whose names do not occur in the Acts of the Synod of Diospolis, but are mentioned by Orosius Apol. 3. [1736] Augustin here refers to the Proceedings of the conference at Jerusalem before its bishop John, which sat previous to the Council of Diospolis. See above, 37 (xiv.).

Chapter 40 [XVII.]--The Same Continued.

Since, then, Pelagius was present when these passages of the Scriptures were discussed, and by his silence acknowledged having said that he entertained the same view of their meaning, how happens it, that, after reconsidering the apostle's testimony, as he had just done, and finding that he said: "I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God; but by the grace of God I am what I am," [1737] he did not perceive that it was improper for him to say, respecting the question of the abundance of the graces which the said apostle received, that he had shown himself "worthy to receive them," when the apostle himself not only confessed, but added a reason to prove, that he was unworthy of them--and by this very fact set forth grace as grace indeed? If he could not for some reason or other consider or recollect the narrative of his holiness the bishop John, which he had heard some time before, he might surely have respected his own very recent answer at the synod, and remembered how he anathematized, but a short while before, the opinions which had been alleged against him out of Coelestius. Now among these it was objected to him that Coelestius had said: "That the grace of God is bestowed according to our merits." If, then, Pelagius truthfully anathematized this, why does he say that all those graces were conferred on the apostle because he deserved them? Is the phrase "worthy to receive" of different meaning from the expression "to receive according to merit"? Can he by any disputatious subtlety show that a man is worthy who has no merit? But neither Coelestius, nor any other, all of whose opinions he anathematized, has any intention to allow him to throw clouds over the phrase, and to conceal himself behind them. He presses home the matter, and plainly says: "And this grace has been placed in my will, according as I have been either worthy or unworthy of it." If, then, a statement, wherein it is declared that "God's grace is given in proportion to our deserts, to such as are worthy," [1738] was rightly and truly condemned by Pelagius, how could his heart permit him to think, or his mouth to utter, such a sentence as this: "We say that God gives to the person who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces?" [1739] Who that carefully considers all this can help feeling some anxiety about his answer or defence?


[1737] 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10. [1738] See above, 30 (xiv.). [1739] See above, 32.

Chapter 41.--Augustin Indulgently Shows that the Judges Acted Incautiously in Their Official Conduct of the Case of Pelagius.

Why, then (some one will say), did the judges approve of this? I confess that I hardly even now understand why they did. It is, however, not to be wondered at, if some brief word or phrase too easily escaped their attention and ear; or if, because they thought it capable of being somehow interpreted in a correct sense, from seeming to have from the accused himself such clear confessions of truth on the subject, they decided it to be hardly worth while to excite a discussion about a word. The same feeling might have occurred to ourselves also, if we had sat with them at the trial. For if, instead of the term worthy, the word predestinated had been used, or some such word, my mind would certainly not have entertained any doubt, much less have been disquieted by it; and yet if it were asserted, that he who is justified by the election of grace is called worthy, through no antecedent merits of good indeed, but by destination, just as he is called "elect," it would be really difficult to determine whether he might be so designated at all, or at least without some offence to an intelligent view of the subject.

As for myself, indeed, I might readily pass on from the discussion on this word, were it not that the treatise which called forth my reply, and in which he says that there is no God's grace at all except our own nature gratuitously created [1740] with free will, made me suspicious and anxious about the actual meaning of Pelagius--whether he had procured the introduction of the term into the argument without any accurate intention as to its sense, or else as a carefully drawn dogmatic expression. The last remaining statements had such an effect on the judges, that they deemed them worthy of condemnation, without waiting for Pelagius' answer.


[1740] We have preferred the reading gratis creatam to the obscure gratiam creaturam.

Chapter 42 [XVIII.]--The Twelfth Item in the Accusation. Other Heads of Coelestius' Doctrine Abjured by Pelagius.

For it was objected that in the sixth chapter of Coelestius' work there was laid down this position: "Men cannot be called sons of God, unless they have become entirely free from all sin." It follows from this statement, that not even the Apostle Paul is a child of God, since he said: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect." [1741] In the seventh chapter he makes this statement: "Forgetfulness and ignorance have no connection with sin, as they do not happen through the will, but through necessity;" although David says: "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my sins of ignorance;" [1742] although too, in the law, sacrifices are offered for ignorance, as if for sin. [1743] In his tenth chapter he says: "Our will is free, if it needs the help of God; inasmuch as every one in the possession of his proper will has either something to do or to abstain from doing." In the twelfth he says: "Our victory comes not from God's help, but from our own free will." And this is a conclusion which he was said to draw in the following terms: "The victory is ours, seeing that we took up arms of our own will; just as, on the other hand, being conquered is our own, since it was of our own will that we neglected to arm ourselves." And, after quoting the phrase of the Apostle Peter, "partakers of the divine nature," [1744] he is said to have made out of it this argument: "Now if our spirit or soul is unable to be without sin, then even God is subject to sin, since this part of Him, that is to say, the soul, is exposed to sin." In his thirteenth chapter he says: "That pardon is not given to penitents according to the grace and mercy of God, but according to their own merits and effort, since through repentance they have been worthy of mercy."


[1741] Phil. iii. 12. [1742] Ps. xxv. 7. [1743] See Lev. iv. [1744] 2 Pet. i. 4.

Chapter 43 [XIX.]--The Answer of the Monk Pelagius and His Profession of Faith.

After all these sentences were read out, the synod said: "What says the monk Pelagius to all these heads of opinion which have been read in his presence? For this holy synod condemns the whole, as does also God's Holy Catholic Church." Pelagius answered: "I say again, that these opinions, even according to their own testimony, are not mine; nor for them, as I have already said, ought I to be held responsible. The opinions which I have confessed to be my own, I maintain are sound; those, however, which I have said are not my own, I reject according to the judgment of this holy synod, pronouncing anathema on every man who opposes and gainsays the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church. For I believe in the Trinity of the one substance, and I hold all things in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church. If indeed any man entertains opinions different from her, let him be anathema."

Chapter 44 [XX.]--The Acquittal of Pelagius.

The synod said: "Now since we have received satisfaction on the points which have come before us touching the monk Pelagius, who has been present; since, too, he gives his consent to the pious doctrines, and even anathematizes everything that is contrary to the Church's faith, we confess him to belong to the communion of the Catholic Church."

Chapter 45 [XXI.]--Pelagius' Acquittal Becomes Suspected.

If these are the proceedings by which Pelagius' friends rejoice that he was exculpated, we, on our part,--since he certainly took much pains to prove that we were well affected towards him, by going so far as to produce even our private letters to him, and reading them at the trial,--undoubtedly wish and desire his salvation in Christ; but as regards his exculpation, which is rather believed than clearly shown, we ought not to be in a hurry to exult. When I say this, indeed, I do not charge the judges either with negligence or connivance, or with consciously holding unsound doctrine--which they most certainly would be the very last to entertain. But although by their sentence Pelagius is held by those who are on terms of fullest and closest intimacy with him to have been deservedly acquitted, with the approval and commendation of his judges, he certainly does not appear to me to have been cleared of the charges brought against him. They conducted his trial as of one whom they knew nothing of, especially in the absence of those who had prepared the indictment against him, and were quite unable to examine him with diligence and care; but, in spite of this inability, they completely destroyed the heresy itself, as even the defenders of his perverseness must allow, if they only follow the judgment through its particulars. As for those persons, however, who well know what Pelagius has been in the habit of teaching, or who have had to oppose his contentious efforts, or those who, to their joy, have escaped from his erroneous doctrine, how can they possibly help suspecting him, when they read the affected confession, wherein he acknowledges past errors, but so expresses himself as if he had never entertained any other opinion than those which he stated in his replies to the satisfaction of the judges?

Chapter 46 [XXII.]--How Pelagius Became Known to Augustin; Coelestius Condemned at Carthage.

Now, that I may especially refer to my own relation to him, I first became acquainted with Pelagius' name, along with great praise of him, at a distance, and when he was living at Rome. Afterwards reports began to reach us, that he disputed against the grace of God. This caused me much pain, for I could not refuse to believe the statements of my informants; but yet I was desirous of ascertaining information on the matter either from himself or from some treatise of his, that, in case I should have to discuss the question with him, it should be on grounds which he could not disown. On his arrival, however, in Africa, he was in my absence kindly received on our coast of Hippo, where, as I found from our brethren, nothing whatever of this kind was heard from him; because he left earlier than was expected. On a subsequent occasion, indeed, I caught a glimpse of him, once or twice, to the best of my recollection, when I was very much occupied in preparing for the conference which we were to hold with the heretical Donatists; but he hastened away across the sea. Meanwhile the doctrines connected with his name were warmly maintained, and passed from mouth to mouth, among his reputed followers--to such an extent that Coelestius found his way before an ecclesiastical tribunal, and reported opinions well suited to his perverse character. We thought it would be a better way of proceeding against them, if, without mentioning any names of individuals, the errors themselves were met and refuted; and the men might thus be brought to a right mind by the fear of a condemnation from the Church rather than be punished by the actual condemnation. And so both by books and by popular discussions we ceased not to oppose the evil doctrines in question.

Chapter 47 [XXIII.]--Pelagius' Book, Which Was Sent by Timasius and Jacobus to Augustin, Was Answered by the Latter in His Work "On Nature and Grace."

But when there was actually placed in my hands, by those faithful servants of God and honourable men, Timasius and Jacobus, the treatise in which Pelagius dealt with the question of God's grace, it became very evident to me--too evident, indeed, to admit of any further doubt--how hostile to salvation by Christ was his poisonous perversion of the truth. He treated the subject in the shape of an objection started, as if by an opponent, in his own terms against himself; for he was already suffering a good deal of obloquy from his opinions on the question, which he now appeared to solve for himself in no other way than by simply describing the grace of God as nature created with a free will, occasionally combining therewith either the help of the law, or even the remission of sins; although these additional admissions were not plainly made, but only sparingly suggested by him. And yet, even under these circumstances, I refrained from inserting Pelagius' name in my work, wherein I refuted this book of his; for I still thought that I should render a prompter assistance to the truth if I continued to preserve a friendly relation to him, and so to spare his personal feelings, while at the same time I showed no mercy, as I was bound not to show it, to the productions of his pen. Hence, I must say, I now feel some annoyance, that in this trial he somewhere said: "I anathematize those who hold these opinions, or have at any time held them." He might have been contented with saying, "Those who hold these opinions," which we should have regarded in the light of a self-censure; but when he went on to say, "Or have at any time held them," in the first place, how could he dare to condemn so unjustly those harmless persons who no longer hold the errors, which they had learnt either from others, or actually from himself? And, in the second place, who among all those persons that were aware of the fact of his not only having held the opinions in question, but of his having taught them, could help suspecting, and not unreasonably, that he must have acted insincerely in condemning those who now hold those opinions, seeing that he did not hesitate to condemn in the same strain and at the same moment those also who had at any time previously held them, when they would be sure to remember that they had no less a person than himself as their instructor in these errors? There are, for instance, such persons as Timasius and Jacobus, to say nothing of any others. How can he with unblushing face look at them, his dear friends (who have never relinquished their love of him) and his former disciples? These are the persons to whom I addressed the work in which I replied to the statements of his book. I think I ought not to pass over in silence the style and tone which they observed towards me in their correspondence, and I have here added a letter of theirs as a sample.

Chapter 48 [XXIV.]--A Letter Written by Timasius and Jacobus to Augustin on Receiving His Treatise "On Nature and Grace."

"To his lordship, the truly blessed and deservedly venerable father, Bishop Augustin, Timasius and Jacobus send greeting in the Lord. We have been so greatly refreshed and strengthened by the grace of God, which your word has ministered to us, my lord, our truly blessed and justly venerated father, that we may with the utmost sincerity and propriety say, `He sent His word and healed them.' [1745] We have found, indeed, that your holiness has so thoroughly sifted the contents of his little book as to astonish us with the answers with which even the slightest points of his error have been confronted, whether it be on matters which every Christian ought to rebut, loathe, and avoid, or on those in which he is not with sufficient certainty found to have erred,--although even in these he has, with incredible subtlety, suggested his belief that God's grace should be kept out of sight. [1746] There is, however, one consideration which affects us under so great a benefit,--that this most illustrious gift of the grace of God has, however slowly, so fully shone out upon us. If, indeed, it has happened that some are removed from the influence of this clearest light of truth, whose blindness required its illumination, yet even to them, we doubt not, the same grace will find its steady way, however late, by the merciful favour of that God `who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.' [1747] As for ourselves, indeed, thanks to that loving spirit which is in you, we have, in consequence of your instruction, some time since thrown off our subjection to his errors; but we still have even now cause for continued gratitude in the fact that, as we have been informed, the false opinions which we formerly believed are now becoming apparent to others--a way of escape opening out to them in the extremely precious discourse of your holiness." Then, in another hand: "May the mercy of our God keep your blessedness in safety, and mindful of us, for His eternal glory." [1748]


[1745] Ps. cvii. 20. [1746] Supprimendam. [1747] 1 Tim. ii. 4. [1748] See Augustin's Epist. 168.

Chapter 49 [XXV.]--Pelagius' Behaviour Contrasted with that of the Writers of the Letter.

If now that man, [1749] too, were to confess that he had once been implicated in this error as a person possessed, but that he now anathematized all that hold these opinions, whoever should withhold his congratulation from him, now that he was in possession of the way of truth, would surely surrender all the bowels of love. As the case, however, now stands, he has not only not acknowledged his liberation from his pestilential error; but, as if that were a small thing, he has gone on to anathematize men who have reached that freedom, who love him so well that they would fain desire his own emancipation. Amongst these are those very men who have expressed their good-will towards him in the letter, which they forwarded to me. For he it was whom they had chiefly in view when they said how much they were affected at the fact of my having at last written that work. "If, indeed, it has happened," they say, "that some are removed from the influence of this clearest light of truth, whose blindness required its illumination, yet even to them," they go on to remark, "we doubt not, the self-same grace will find its way, by the merciful favour of God." Any name, or names, even they, too, thought it desirable as yet to suppress, in order that, if friendship still lived on, the error of the friends might the more surely die.


[1749] Pelagius.

Chapter 50.--Pelagius Has No Good Reason to Be Annoyed If His Name Be at Last Used in the Controversy, and He Be Expressly Refuted.

But now if Pelagius thinks of God, if he is not ungrateful for His mercy in having brought him before this tribunal of the bishops, that thus he might be saved from the hardihood of afterwards defending these anathematized opinions, and be at once led to acknowledge them as deserving of abhorrence and rejection, he will be more thankful to us for our book, in which, by mentioning his name, we shall open the wound in order to cure it, than for one in which we were afraid to cause him pain, and, in fact, only produced irritation,--a result which causes us regret. Should he, however, feel angry with us, let him reflect how unfair such anger is; and, in order to subdue it, let him ask God to give him that grace which, in this trial, he has confessed to be necessary for each one of our actions, that so by His assistance he may gain a real victory. For of what use to him are all those great laudations contained in the letters of the bishops, which he thought fit to be mentioned, and even to be read and quoted in his favour,--as if all those persons who heard his strong and, to some extent, earnest exhortations to goodness of life could not have easily discovered how perverse were the opinions which he was entertaining?

Chapter 51 [XXVI.]--The Nature of Augustin's Letter to Pelagius.

For my own part, indeed, in my letter which he produced, I not only abstained from all praises of him, but I even exhorted him, with as much earnestness as I could, short of actually mooting the question, to cultivate right views about the grace of God. In my salutation I called him "lord" [1750] --a title which, in our epistolary style, we usually apply even to some persons who are not Christians,--and this without untruth, inasmuch as we do, in a certain sense, owe to all such persons a service, which is yet freedom, to help them in obtaining the salvation which is in Christ. I added the epithet "most beloved;" and as I now call him by this term, so shall I continue to do so, even if he be angry with me; because, if I ceased to retain my love towards him, because of his feeling the anger, I should only injure myself rather than him. I, moreover, styled him "most longed for," because I greatly longed to have a conversation with him in person; for I had already heard that he was endeavouring publicly to oppose grace, whereby we are justified, whenever any mention was made of it. The brief contents of the letter itself indeed show all this; for, after thanking him for the pleasure he gave me by the information of his own health and that of his friends (whose bodily health we are bound of course to wish for, however much we may desire their amendment in other respects), I at once expressed the hope that the Lord would recompense him with such blessings as do not appertain to physical welfare, but which he used to think, and probably still thinks, consist solely in the freedom of the will and his own power,--at the same time, and for this reason, wishing him "eternal life." Then again, remembering the many good and kind wishes he had expressed for me in his letter, which I was answering, I went on to beg of him, too, that he would pray for me, that the Lord would indeed make me such a man as he believed me to be already; that so I might gently remind him, against the opinion he was himself entertaining, that the very righteousness which he had thought worthy to be praised in me was "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." [1751] This is the substance of that short letter of mine, and such was my purpose when I dictated it. This is a copy of it:


[1750] This term corresponds somewhat to our Sir; but Augustin here refers to its more expressive meaning of Master, or Lord. [1751] Rom. ix. 16.

Chapter 52 [XXVII. And XXVIII.]--The Text of the Letter.

"To my most beloved lord, and most longed-for brother Pelagius, Augustin sends greeting in the Lord. I thank you very much for the pleasure you have kindly afforded me by your letter, and for informing me of your good health. May the Lord requite you with blessings, and may you ever enjoy them, and live with Him for evermore in all eternity, my most beloved lord, and most longed-for brother. For my own part, indeed, although I do not admit your high encomiums of me, which the letter of your Benignity [1752] conveys, I yet cannot be insensible of the benevolent view you entertain towards my poor deserts; at the same time requesting you to pray for me, that the Lord would make me such a man as you suppose me to be already." Then, in another hand, it follows: "Be mindful of us; may you be safe, and find favour with the Lord, my most beloved lord, and most longed-for brother."


[1752] Tuæ Benignitatis Epistola is more than "your kind letter." "Benignitas" is a complimentary abstract title addressed to the correspondent.

Chapter 53 [XXIX.]--Pelagius' Use of Recommendations.

As to that which I placed in the postscript,--that he might "find favour with the Lord,"--I intimated that this lay rather in His grace than in man's sole will; for I did not make it the subject either of exhortation, or of precept, or of instruction, but simply of my wish. But just in the same way as I should, if I had exhorted or enjoined, or even instructed him, simply have shown that all this appertained to free will, without, however, derogating from the grace of God; so in like manner, when I expressed the matter in the way of a wish, I asserted no doubt the grace of God, but at the same time I did not quench the liberty of the will. Wherefore, then, did he produce this letter at the trial? If he had only from the beginning entertained views in accordance with it, very likely he would not have been at all summoned before the bishops by the brethren, who, with all their kindness of disposition, could yet not help being offended with his perverse contentiousness. Now, however, as I have given on my part an account of this letter of mine, so would they, whose epistles he quoted, explain theirs also, if it were necessary;--they would tell us either what they thought, or what they were ignorant of, or with what purpose they wrote to him. Pelagius, therefore, may boast to his heart's content of the friendship of holy men, he may read their letters recounting his praises, he may produce whatever synodal acts he pleases to attest his own acquittal,--there still stands against him the fact, proved by the testimony of competent witnesses, that he has inserted in his books statements which are opposed to that grace of God whereby we are called and justified; and unless he shall, after true confession, anathematize these statements, and then go on to contradict them both in his writings and discussions, he will certainly seem to all those who have a fuller knowledge of him to have laboured in vain in his attempt to set himself right.

Chapter 54 [XXX.]--On the Letter of Pelagius, in Which He Boasts that His Errors Had Been Approved by Fourteen Bishops.

For I will not be silent as to the transactions which took place after this trial, and which rather augment the suspicion against him. A certain epistle found its way into our hands, which was ascribed to Pelagius himself, writing to a friend of his, a presbyter, who had kindly admonished him (as appears from the same epistle) not to allow any one to separate himself from the body of the Church on his account. Among the other contents of this document, which it would be both tedious and unnecessary to quote here, Pelagius says: "By the sentence of fourteen bishops our statement was received with approbation, in which we affirmed that `a man is able to be without sin, and easily to keep the commandments of God, if he wishes.' This sentence," says he, "has filled the mouths of the gainsayers with confusion, and has separated asunder the entire set which was conspiring together for evil." Whether, indeed, this epistle was really written by Pelagius, or was composed by somebody in his name, who can fail to see, after what manner this error claims to have achieved a victory, even in the judicial proceedings where it was refuted and condemned? Now, he has adduced the words we have just quoted according to the form in which they occur in his book of "Chapters," as it is called, not in the shape in which they were objected to him at his trial, and even repeated by him in his answer. For even his accusers, through some unaccountable inaccuracy, left out a word in their indictment, concerning which there is no small controversy. They made him say, that "a man is able to be without sin, if he wishes; and, if he wishes, to keep the commandments of God." There is nothing said here about this being "easily" done. Afterwards, when he gave his answer, he spake thus: "We said, that a man is able to be without sin, and to keep the commandments of God, if he wishes;" he did not then say, "easily keep," but only "keep." So in another place, amongst the statements about which Hilary consulted me, and I gave him my views, it was objected to Pelagius that he had said, "A man is able, if he wishes, to live without sin." To this he himself responded, "That a man is able to be without sin has been said above." Now, on this occasion, we do not find on the part either of those who brought the objection or of him who rebutted it, that the word "easily" was used at all. Then, again, in the narrative of the holy Bishop John, which we have partly quoted above, [1753] he says, "When they were importunate and exclaimed, `He is a heretic, because he says, It is true that a man is able, if he only will, to live without sin;' and then, when we questioned him on this point, he answered, `I did not say that man's nature has received the power of being impeccable,--but I said, whosoever is willing, in the pursuit of his own salvation, to labour and struggle to abstain from sinning and to walk in the commandments of God, receives the ability to do so from God.' Then, whilst some were whispering, and remarking on the statement of Pelagius, that `without God's grace man was able to attain perfection,' I censured the statement, and reminded them, besides, that even the Apostle Paul, after so many labours,--not, indeed, in his own strength, but by the grace of God,--said, `I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.'" [1754] And so on, as I have already mentioned.


[1753] In 37 [XIV.] [1754] 1 Cor. xv. 10.

Chapter 55.--Pelagius' Letter Discussed.

What, then, is the meaning of those vaunting words of theirs in this epistle, wherein they boast of having induced the fourteen bishops who sat in that trial to believe not merely that a man has ability but that he has "facility" to abstain from sinning, according to the position laid down in the "Chapters" of this same Pelagius,--when, in the draft of the proceedings, notwithstanding the frequent repetition of the general charge and full consideration bestowed on it, this is nowhere found? How, indeed, can this word fail to contradict the very defence and answer which Pelagius made; since the Bishop John asserted that Pelagius put in this answer in his presence, that "he wished it to be understood that the man who was willing to labour and agonize for his salvation was able to avoid sin," while Pelagius himself, at this time engaged in a formal inquiry and conducting his defence, [1755] said, that "it was by his own labour and the grace of God that a man is able to be without sin?" Now, is a thing easy when labour is required to effect it? For I suppose that every man would agree with us in the opinion, that wherever there is labour there cannot be facility. And yet a carnal epistle of windiness and inflation flies forth, and, outrunning in speed the tardy record of the proceedings, gets first into men's hands; so as to assert that fourteen bishops in the East have determined, not only "that a man is able to be without sin, and to keep God's commandments," but "easily to keep." Nor is God's assistance once named: it is merely said, "If he wishes;" so that, of course, as nothing is affirmed of the divine grace, for which the earnest fight was made, it remains that the only thing one reads of in this epistle is the unhappy and self-deceiving--because represented as victorious--human pride. As if the Bishop John, indeed, had not expressly declared that he censured this statement, and that, by the help of three inspired texts of Scripture, [1756] he had, as if by thunderbolts, struck to the ground the gigantic mountains of such presumption which they had piled up against the still over-towering heights of heavenly grace; or as if again those other bishops who were John's assessors could have borne with Pelagius, either in mind or even in ear, when he pronounced these words: "We said that a man is able to be without sin and to keep the commandments of God, if he wishes," unless he had gone on at once to say: "For the ability to do this God has given to him" (for they were unaware that he was speaking of nature, and not of that grace which they had learnt from the teaching of the apostle); and had afterwards added this qualification: "We never said, however, that any man could be found, who at no time whatever from his infancy to his old age had committed sin, but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own exertion and the grace of God be without sin." Now, by the very fact that in their sentence they used these words, "he has answered correctly, `that a man can, when he has the assistance and grace of God, be without sin;'" what else did they fear than that, if he denied this, he would be doing a manifest wrong not to man's ability, but to God's grace? It has indeed not been defined when a man may become without sin; it has only been judicially settled, that this result can only be reached by the assisting grace of God; it has not, I say, been defined whether a man, whilst he is in this flesh which lusts against the Spirit, ever has been, or now is, or ever can be, by his present use of reason and free will, either in the full society of man or in monastic solitude, in such a state as to be beyond the necessity of offering up the prayer, not in behalf of others, but for himself personally: "Forgive us our debts;" [1757] or whether this gift shall be consummated at the time when "we shall be like Him, when we shall see Him as He is," [1758] --when it shall be said, not by those that are fighting: "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind," [1759] but by those that are triumphing: "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" [1760] Now, this is perhaps hardly a question which ought to be discussed between catholics and heretics, but only among catholics with a view to a peaceful settlement. [1761]


[1755] Ch. 16. At the synod of Diospolis. The proceedings before John, bishop of Jerusalem, were not duly registered. See above, 39. [1756] See above, 37. [1757] Matt. vi. 12. [1758] 1 John iii. 2. [1759] Rom. vii. 23. [1760] 1 Cor. xv. 55. [1761] This point, however, was definitely settled a year or two afterwards, at a council held in Carthage. (See its Canons 6-8.) See also above, the Preface to the treatise On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness.

Chapter 56 [XXXI.]--Is Pelagius Sincere?

How, then, can it be believed that Pelagius (if indeed this epistle is his) could have been sincere, when he acknowledged the grace of God, which is not nature with its free will, nor the knowledge of the law, nor simply the forgiveness of sins, but a something which is necessary to each of our actions; or could have sincerely anathematized everybody who entertained the contrary opinion:--seeing that in his epistle he set forth even the ease wherewith a man can avoid sinning (concerning which no question had arisen at this trial) just as if the judges had come to an agreement to receive even this word, and said nothing about the grace of God, by the confession and subsequent addition of which he escaped the penalty of condemnation by the Church?

Chapter 57 [XXXII.]--Fraudulent Practices Pursued by Pelagius in His Report of the Proceedings in Palestine, in the Paper Wherein He Defended Himself to Augustin.

There is yet another point which I must not pass over in silence. In the paper containing his defence which he sent to me by a friend of ours, one Charus, a citizen of Hippo, but a deacon in the Eastern Church, he has made a statement which is different from what is contained in the Proceedings of the Bishops. Now, these Proceedings, as regards their contents, are of a higher and firmer tone, and more straightforward in defending the catholic verity in opposition to this heretical pestilence. For, when I read this paper of his, previous to receiving a copy of the Proceedings, I was not aware that he had made use of those words which he had used at the trial, when he was present for himself; they are few, and there is not much discrepancy, and they do not occasion me much anxiety. [XXXIII.] But I could not help feeling annoyance that he can appear to have defended sundry sentences of Coelestius, which, from the Proceedings, it is clear enough that he anathematized. Now, some of these he disavowed for himself, simply remarking, that "he was not in any way responsible for them." In his paper, however, he refused to anathematize these same opinions, which are to this effect: "That Adam was created mortal, and that he would have died whether he had sinned or not sinned. That Adam's sin injured only himself, and not the human race. That the law, no less than the gospel, leads us to the kingdom. That new-born infants are in the same condition that Adam was before he fell. That, on the one hand, the entire human race does not die owing to Adam's death and transgression; nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise again through the resurrection of Christ. That infants, even if they die unbaptized, have eternal life. That rich men, even if they are baptized, unless they renounce and give up all, have, whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned to them; neither shall they possess the kingdom of heaven." Now, in his paper, the answer which he gives to all this is: "All these statements have not been made by me, even on their own testimony, nor do I hold myself responsible for them." In the Proceedings, however, he expressed himself as follows on these points: "They have not been made by me, as even their testimony shows, and for them I do not feel that I am at all responsible. But yet, for the satisfaction of the holy synod, I anathematize those who either now hold, or have ever held, them." Now, why did he not express himself thus in his paper also? It would not, I suppose, have cost much ink, or writing, or delay; nor have occupied much of the paper itself, if he had done this. Who, however, can help believing that there is a purpose in all this, to pass off this paper in all directions as an abridgment of the Episcopal Proceedings. In consequence of which, men might think that his right still to maintain any of these opinions which he pleased had not been taken away,--on the ground that they had been simply laid to his charge but had not received his approbation, nor yet had been anathematized and condemned by him.

Chapter 58.--The Same Continued.

He has, moreover, in this same paper, huddled together afterwards many of the points which were objected against him out of the "Chapters," of Coelestius' book; nor has he kept distinct, at the intervals which separate them in the Proceedings, the two answers in which he anathematized these very heads; but has substituted one general reply for them all. This, I should have supposed, had been done for the sake of brevity, had I not perceived that he had a very special object in the arrangement which disturbs us. For thus has he closed this answer: "I say again, that these opinions, even according to their own testimony, are not mine; nor, as I have already said, am I to be held responsible for them. The opinions which I have confessed to be my own, I maintain are sound and correct; those, however, which I have said are not my own, I reject according to the judgment of the holy Church, pronouncing anathema on every man that opposes and gainsays the doctrines of the holy and catholic Church; and likewise on those who by inventing false opinions have excited odium against us." This last paragraph the Proceedings do not contain; it has, however, no bearing on the matter which causes us anxiety. By all means let them have his anathema who have excited odium against him by their invention of false opinions. But, when first I read, "Those opinions, however, which I have said are not my own, I reject in accordance with the judgment of the holy Church," being ignorant that any judgment had been arrived at on the point by the Church, since there is here nothing said about it, and I had not then read the Proceedings, I really thought that nothing else was meant than that he promised that he would entertain the same view about the "Chapters" as the Church, which had not yet determined the question, might some day decide respecting them; and that he was ready to reject the opinions which the Church had not yet indeed rejected, but might one day have occasion to reject; and that this, too, was the purport of what he further said: "Pronouncing anathema on every man that opposes and gainsays the doctrines of the holy catholic Church." But in fact, as the Proceedings testify, a judgment of the Church had already been pronounced on these subjects by the fourteen bishops; and it was in accordance with this judgment that he professed to reject all these opinions, and to pronounce his anathema against those persons who, by reason of the said opinions, were contravening the judgment which had already, as the Proceedings show, been actually settled. For already had the judges asked: "What says the monk Pelagius to all these heads of opinion which have been read in his presence? For this holy synod condemns them, as does also God's holy catholic Church." Now, they who know nothing of all this, and only read this paper of his, are led to suppose that some one or other of these opinions may lawfully be maintained, as if they had not been determined to be contrary to catholic doctrine, and as if Pelagius had declared himself to be ready to hold the same sentiments concerning them which the Church had not as yet determined, but might have to determine. He has not, therefore, expressed himself in this paper, to which we have so often referred, straightforwardly enough for us to discover the fact, of which we find a voucher in the Proceedings, that all those dogmas by means of which this heresy has been stealing along and growing strong with contentious audacity, have been condemned by fourteen bishops presiding in an ecclesiastical synod! Now, if he was afraid that this fact would become known, as is the case, he has more reason for self-correction than for resentment at the vigilance with which we are watching the controversy to the best of our ability, however late. If, however, it is untrue that he had any such fears, and we are only indulging in a suspicion which is natural to man, let him forgive us; but, at the same time, let him continue to oppose and resist the opinions which were rejected by him with anathemas in the proceedings before the bishops, when he was on his defence; for if he now shows any leniency to them, he would seem not only to have believed these opinions formerly, but to be cherishing them still.

Chapter 59 [XXXIV.]--Although Pelagius Was Acquitted, His Heresy Was Condemned.

Now, with respect to this treatise of mine, which perhaps is not unreasonably lengthy, considering the importance and extent of its subject, I have wished to inscribe it to your Reverence, in order that, if it be not displeasing to your mind, it may become known to such persons as I have thought may stand in need of it under the recommendation of your authority, which carries so much more weight than our own poor industry. Thus it may avail to crush the vain and contentious thoughts of those persons who suppose that, because Pelagius was acquited, those Eastern bishops who pronounced the judgment approved of those dogmas which are beginning to shed very pernicious influences against the Christian faith, and that grace of God whereby we are called and justified. These the Christian verity never ceases to condemn, as indeed it condemned them even by the authoritative sentence of the fourteen bishops; nor would it, on the occasion in question, have hesitated to condemn Pelagius too, unless he had anathematized the heretical opinions with which he was charged. But now, while we render to this man the respect of brotherly affection (and we have all along expressed with all sincerity our anxiety for him and interest in him), let us observe, with as much brevity as is consistent with accuracy of observation, that, notwithstanding the undoubted fact of his having been acquitted by a human verdict, the heresy itself has ever been held worthy of condemnation by divine judgment, and has actually been condemned by the sentence of these fourteen bishops of the Eastern Church.

Chapter 60 [XXXV.]--The Synod's Condemnation of His Doctrines.

This is the concluding clause of their judgment. The synod said: "Now forasmuch as we have received satisfaction in these inquiries from the monk Pelagius, who has been present, who yields assent to godly doctrines, and rejects and anathematizes those which are contrary to the Church, we confess him still to belong to the communion of the catholic Church." Now, there are two facts concerning the monk Pelagius here contained with entire perspicuity in this brief statement of the holy bishops who judged him: one, that "he yields assent to godly doctrines;" the other, that "he rejects and anathematizes those which are contrary to the Church." On account of these two concessions, Pelagius was pronounced to be "in the communion of the catholic Church." Let us, in pursuit of our inquiry, briefly recapitulate the entire facts, in order to discover what were the words he used which made those two points so clear, as far as men were able at the moment to form a judgment as to what were manifest points. For among the allegations which were made against him, he is said to have rejected and anathematized, as "contrary," all the statements which in his answer he denied were his. Let us, then, summarize the whole case as far as we can.

Chapter 61.--History of the Pelagian Heresy. The Pelagian Heresy Was Raised by Sundry Persons Who Affected the Monastic State.

Since it was necessary that the Apostle Paul's prediction should be accomplished,--"There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you," [1762] --after the older heresies, there has been just now introduced, not by bishops or presbyters or any rank of the clergy, but by certain would-be monks, a heresy which disputes, under colour of defending free will, against the grace of God which we have through our Lord Jesus Christ; and endeavours to overthrow the foundation of the Christian faith of which it is written, "By one man, death, and by one man the resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" [1763] and denies God's help in our actions, by affirming that, "in order to avoid sin and to fulfil righteousness, human nature can be sufficient, seeing that it has been created with free will; and that God's grace lies in the fact that we have been so created as to be able to do this by the will, and in the further fact that God has given to us the assistance of His law and commandments, and also in that He forgives their past sins when men turn to Him;" that "in these things alone is God's grace to be regarded as consisting, not in the help He gives to us for each of our actions,"--"seeing that a man can be without sin, and keep God's commandments easily if he wishes."


[1762] 1 Cor. xi. 19. [1763] 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22.

Chapter 62.--The History Continued. Coelestius Condemned at Carthage by Episcopal Judgment. Pelagius Acquitted by Bishops in Palestine, in Consequence of His Deceptive Answers; But Yet His Heresy Was Condemned by Them.

After this heresy had deceived a great many persons, and was disturbing the brethren whom it had failed to deceive, one Coelestius, who entertained these sentiments, was brought up for trial before the Church of Carthage, and was condemned by a sentence of the bishops. [1764] Then, a few years afterwards, Pelagius, who was said to have been this man's instructor, having been accused of holding his heresy, found also his way before an episcopal tribunal. [1765] The indictment was prepared against him by the Gallican bishops, Heros and Lazarus, who were, however, not present at the proceedings, and were excused from attendance owing to the illness of one of them. After all the charges were duly recited, and Pelagius had met them by his answers, the fourteen bishops of the province of Palestine pronounced him, in accordance with his answers, free from the perversity of this heresy; while yet without hesitation condemning the heresy itself. They approved indeed of his answer to the objections, that "a man is assisted by a knowledge of the law, towards not sinning; even as it is written, `He hath given them a law for a help;'" [1766] but yet they disapproved of this knowledge of the law being that grace of God concerning which the Scripture says: "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." [1767] Nor did Pelagius say absolutely: "All men are ruled by their own will," as if God did not rule them; for he said, when questioned on this point: "This I stated in the interest of the freedom of our will; God is its helper, whenever it makes choice of good. Man, however, when sinning, is himself in fault, as being under the direction of his free will." [1768] They approved, moreover, of his statement, that "in the day of judgment no forbearance will be shown to the ungodly and sinners, but they will be punished in everlasting fires;" because in his defence he said, "that he had made such an assertion in accordance with the gospel, in which it is written concerning sinners, `These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.'" [1769] But he did not say, all sinners are reserved for eternal punishment, for then he would evidently have run counter to the apostle, who distinctly states that some of them will be saved, "yet so as by fire." [1770] When also Pelagius said that "the kingdom of heaven was promised even in the Old Testament," they approved of the statement, on the ground that he supported himself by the testimony of the prophet Daniel, who thus wrote: "The saints shall take the kingdom of the Most High." [1771] They understood him, in this statement of his, to mean by the term "Old Testament," not simply the Testament which was made on Mount Sinai, but the entire body of the canonical Scriptures which had been given previous to the coming of the Lord. His allegation, however, that "a man is able to be without sin, if he wishes," was not approved by the bishops in the sense which he had evidently meant it to bear in his book [1772] --as if this was solely in a man's power by free will (for it was contended that he must have meant no less than this by his saying: "if he wishes"),--but only in the sense which he actually gave to the passage on the present occasion in his answer; in the very sense, indeed, in which the episcopal judges mentioned the subject in their own interlocution with especial brevity and clearness, that a man is able to be without sin with the help and grace of God. But still it was left undetermined when the saints were to attain to this state of perfection,--whether in the body of this death, or when death shall be swallowed up in victory.


[1764] This trial was held at Carthage, before the Bishop Aurelius (to whom Augustin dedicated the present treatise), at the beginning of the year 412, as appears from the letter to Innocentius among Augustin's Epistles, 175, Nos. 1 and 6. [1765] This happened in the year 415, in the month of December, at Diospolis. [1766] Isa. viii. 20. See above, 2. [1767] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [1768] See above, 5. [1769] Matt. xxv. 46. See above, 9. [1770] 1 Cor. iii. 15. [1771] Dan. vii. 18. See above, 13. [1772] See above, 16.

Chapter 63.--The Same Continued. The Dogmas of Coelestius Laid to the Charge of Pelagius, as His Master, and Condemned.

Of the opinions which Coelestius has said or written, and which were objected against Pelagius, on the ground that they were the dogmas of his disciple, he acknowledged some as entertained also by himself; but, in his vindication, he said that he held them in a different sense from that which was alleged in the indictment. One of these opinions was thus stated: "Before the advent of Christ some men lived holy and righteous lives." [1773] Coelestius, however, was stated to have said that "they lived sinless lives." Again, it was objected that Coelestius declared "the Church to be without spot and wrinkle." [1774] Pelagius, however, said in his reply, "that he had made such an assertion, but as meaning that the Church is by the laver cleansed from every spot and wrinkle, and that in this purity the Lord would have her continue." Respecting that statement of Coelestius: "That we do more than is commanded us in the law and the gospel," Pelagius urged in his own vindication, [1775] that "he spoke concerning virginity," of which Paul says: "I have no commandment of the Lord." [1776] Another objection alleged that Coelestius had maintained that "every individual has the ability to possess all powers and graces," thus annulling that "diversity of gifts" which, the apostle sets forth. [1777] Pelagius, however, answered, that "he did not annul the diversity of gifts, but declared that God gives to the man who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces, even as He gave the Apostle Paul."


[1773] See above, 26. [1774] See above, 27. [1775] See above, 29. [1776] 1 Cor. vii. 25. [1777] See above, 32.

Chapter 64.--How the Bishops Cleared Pelagius of Those Charges.

These four dogmas, thus connected with the name of Coelestius, were therefore not approved by the bishops in their judgment, in the sense in which Coelestius was said to have set them forth but in the sense which Pelagius gave to them in his reply. For they saw clearly enough, that it is one thing to be without sin, and another thing to live holily and righteously, as Scripture testifies that some lived even before the coming of Christ. And that although the Church here on earth is not without spot or wrinkle, she is yet both cleansed from every spot and wrinkle by the laver of regeneration, and in this state the Lord would have her continue. And continue she certainly will, for without doubt she shall reign without spot or wrinkle in an everlasting felicity. And that the perpetual virginity, which is not commanded, is unquestionably more than the purity of wedded life, which is commanded--although virginity is persevered in by many persons, who, notwithstanding, are not without sin. And that all those graces which he enumerates in a certain passage were possessed by the Apostle Paul; and yet, for all that, either they could quite understand, in regard to his having been worthy to receive them, that the merit was not according to his works, but rather, in some way, according to predestination (for the apostle says himself: "I am not meet to be called an apostle;") [1778] or else their attention was not arrested by the sense which Pelagius gave to the word, as he himself viewed it. Such are the points on which the bishops pronounced the agreement of Pelagius with the doctrines of godly truth.


[1778] 1 Cor. xv. 9.

Chapter 65.--Recapitulation of What Pelagius Condemned.

Let us now, by a like recapitulation, bestow a little more attention on those subjects which the bishops said he rejected and condemned as "contrary;" for herein especially lies the whole of that heresy. We will entirely pass over the strange terms of adulation which he is reported to have put into writing in praise of a certain widow; these he denied having ever inserted in any of his writings, or ever given utterance to, and he anathematized all who held the opinions in question not indeed as heretics, but as fools. [1779] The following are the wild thickets of this heresy, which we are sorry to see shooting out buds, nay growing into trees, day by day:--"That [1780] Adam was made mortal, and would have died whether he had sinned or not; that Adam's sin injured only himself, and not the human race; that the law no less than the gospel leads to the kingdom; that new-born infants are in the same condition that Adam was before the transgression; that the whole human race does not, on the one hand, die in consequence of Adam's death and transgression, nor, on the other hand, does the whole human race rise again through the resurrection of Christ; that infants, even if they die unbaptized, have eternal life; that rich men, even if baptized, unless they renounce and surrender everything, have, whatever good they may seem to have done, nothing of it reckoned to them, neither can they possess the kingdom of God; that [1781] God's grace and assistance are not given for single actions, but reside in free will, and in the law and teaching; that the grace of God is bestowed according to our merits, so that grace really lies in the will of man, as he makes himself worthy or unworthy of it; that men cannot be called children of God, unless they have become entirely free from sin; that forgetfulness and ignorance do not come under sin, as they do not happen through the will, but of necessity; that there is no free will, if it needs the help of God, inasmuch as every one has his proper will either to do something, or to abstain from doing it; that our victory comes not from God's help, but from free will; that from what Peter says, that `we are partakers of the divine nature,' [1782] it must follow that the soul has the power of being without sin, just in the way that God Himself has." For this have I read in the eleventh chapter of the book, which bears no title of its author, but is commonly reported to be the work of Coelestius,--expressed in these words: "Now how can anybody," asks the author, "become a partaker of the thing from the condition and power of which he is distinctly declared to be a stranger?" Accordingly, the brethren who prepared these objections understood him to have said that man's soul and God are of the same nature, and to have asserted that the soul is part of God; for thus they understood that he meant that the soul partakes of the same condition and power as God. Moreover in the last of the objections laid to his charge there occurs this position: "That pardon is not given to penitents according to the grace and mercy of God, but according to their own merits and effort, since through repentance they have been worthy of mercy." Now all these dogmas, and the arguments which were advanced in support of them, were repudiated and anathematized by Pelagius, and his conduct herein was approved of by the judges, who accordingly pronounced that he had, by his rejection and anathema, condemned the opinions in question as contrary to the faith. Let us therefore rejoice--whatever may be the circumstances of the case, whether Coelestius laid down these theses or not, or whether Pelagius believed them or not--that the injurious principles of this new heresy were condemned before that ecclesiastical tribunal; and let us thank God for such a result, and proclaim His praises.


[1779] See above, 16. [1780] See above, 24. [1781] See above, 30. [1782] 2 Pet. i. 4.

Chapter 66.--The Harsh Measures of the Pelagians Against the Holy Monks and Nuns Who Belonged to Jerome's Charge.

Certain followers of Pelagius are said to have carried their support of his cause after these judicial proceedings to an incredible extent of perverseness and audacity. They are said [1783] to have most cruelly beaten and maltreated the servants and handmaidens of the Lord who lived under the care of the holy presbyter Jerome, slain his deacon, and burnt his monastic houses; whilst he himself, by God's mercy, narrowly escaped the violent attacks of these impious assailants in the shelter of a well-defended fortress. However, I think it better becomes me to say nothing of these matters, but to wait and see what measures our brethren the bishops may deem it their duty to adopt concerning such scandalous enormities; for nobody can suppose that it is possible for them to pass them over without notice. Impious doctrines put forth by persons of this character it is no doubt the duty of all catholics, however remote their residence, to oppose and refute, and so to hinder all injury from such opinions wheresoever they may happen to find their way; but impious actions it belongs to the discipline of the episcopal authority on the spot to control, and they must be left for punishment to the bishops of the very place or immediate neighbourhood, to be dealt with as pastoral diligence and godly severity may suggest. We, therefore, who live at so great a distance, are bound to hope that such a stop may there be put to proceedings of this kind, that there may be no necessity elsewhere of further invoking judicial remedies. But what rather befits our personal activity is so to set forth the truth, that the minds of all those who have been severely wounded by the report, so widely spread everywhere, may be healed by the mercy of God following our efforts. With this desire, I must now at last terminate this work, which, should it succeed, as I hope, in commending itself to your mind, will, I trust, with the Lord's blessing, become serviceable to its readers--recommended to them rather by your name than by my own, and through your care and diligence receiving a wider circulation.


[1783] He here refers to a letter (32) of Pope Innocent to John, Bishop of Jerusalem. It thus commences: "Plunder, slaughter, incendiary fire, every atrocity of the maddest kind have been deplored by the noble and holy virgins Eustochium and Paula, as having been perpetrated, at the devil's instigation, in several places of your diocese," etc. An epistle by the same writer (33) addressed to Jerome, begins with these words: "The apostle testifies that contention never did any good to the Church."

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