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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Extract from Augustin’s Retractations.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 214

Extract from Augustin’s “Retractations,”

Book II. Chap. 50,

On the Following Treatise,

“De gratia christi, et de peccato originali.”


After the conviction and condemnation 1784 of the Pelagian heresy with its authors by the bishops of the Church of Rome,—first Innocent, and then Zosimus,—with the co-operation of letters of African councils, I wrote two books against them: one On the Grace of Christ, and the other On Original Sin. The work began with the following words: ‘How greatly we rejoice on account of your bodily, and, above all, because of your Spiritual welfare.’”



From this it follows that we must refer his books On the Grace of Christ and On Original Sin to the year 418; for it was in this year that the Pelagian heresy was condemned by the pope Zosimus. Somewhat earlier there was held a general council of the bishops of Africa at Carthage, to take measures against the heresy,—the precise date of which council is May 1st of this year 418. Augustin, on account of this council, was detained at Carthage, and his stay in that city was longer than usual, as one may learn from the 94th canon of the council, or from the Codex Canonum of the Church of Africa, canon 127, as well as from his epistle (193, sec. 1) to Mercator. And it was in this interval of time, before he started for Mauritania Cæsariensis, that he wrote these two books for Albina, Pinianus, and Melania; accordingly, in his Retractations, he places them just previous to the time of his proceedings with Emeritus, which were concluded at Cæsarea on the 20th of September in this very year 418. Julianus, in his work addressed to Turbantius, calumniously attacked a passage in the book On the Grace of Christ; the passage is defended by Augustin in his work against Julianus, iv. 8. 47, where he mentions this first book, addressed to the holy Pinianus, as he calls him, and gives its title as “Concerning Grace, in opposition to Pelagius.” [Albina, with her son-in-law Pinianus, and her daughter Melania, by whose questions Augustin was led to write this work, constituted an interesting family of ascetics, which had formerly lived in Africa, but at this time were in Palestine; Pinianus at the head of a monastery, and his wife an inmate of a convent.—W.]

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