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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 7 [VI.]—Pelagius Posits God’s Aid Only for Our “Capacity.”

Let not Pelagius, however, in this way deceive incautious and simple persons, or even himself; for after saying, “Man is therefore to be praised for his willing and doing a good work,” he added, as if by way of correcting himself, these p. 219 words: “Or rather, this praise belongs to man and to God.” It was not, however, that he wished to be understood as showing any deference to the sound doctrine, that it is “God which worketh in us both to will and to do,” that he thus expressed himself; but it is clear enough, on his own showing, why he added the latter clause, for he immediately subjoins: “Who has bestowed on him the ‘capacity’ for this very will and work.” From his preceding words it is manifest that he places this capacity in our nature. Lest he should seem, however, to have said nothing about grace, he added these words: “And who evermore, by the help of His grace, assists this very capacity,”—“this very capacity,” observe; not “very will,” or “very action;” for if he had said so much as this, he would clearly not be at variance with the teaching of the apostle. But there are his words: “this very capacity;” meaning that very one of the three faculties which he had placed in our nature. This God “evermore assists by the help of His grace.” The result, indeed, is, that “the praise does not belong to man and to God,” because man so wills that yet God also inspires his volition with the ardour of love, or that man so works that God nevertheless also cooperates with him,—and without His help, what is man? But he has associated God in this praise in this wise, that were it not for the nature which God gave us in our creation wherewith we might be able to exercise volition and action, we should neither will nor act.

Next: Chapter 8

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