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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 8

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 8.—Grace, According to the Pelagians, Consists in the Internal and Manifold Illumination of the Mind.

As to this natural capacity which, he allows, is assisted by the grace of God, it is by no means clear from the passage either what grace he means, or to what extent he supposes our nature to be assisted by it. But, as is the case in other passages in which he expresses himself with more clearness and decision, we may here also perceive that no other grace is intended by him as helping natural capacity than the law and the teaching. [VII.] For in one passage he says: “We are supposed by very ignorant persons to do wrong in this matter to divine grace, because we say that it by no means perfects sanctity in us without our will,—as if God could have imposed any command on His grace, without also supplying the help of His grace to those on whom he imposed His commands, so that men might more easily accomplish through grace what they are required to do by their free will.” Then, as if he meant to explain what grace he meant, he immediately went on to add these words: “And this grace we for our part do not, as you suppose, allow to consist merely in the law, but also in the help of God.” Now who can help wishing that he would show us what grace it is that he would have us understand? Indeed, we have the strongest reason for desiring him to tell us what he means by saying that he does not allow grace merely to consist in the law. Whilst, however, we are in the suspense of our expectation, observe, I pray you, what he has further to tell us: “God helps us,” says he, “by His teaching and revelation, whilst He opens the eyes of our heart; whilst He points out to us the future, that we may not be absorbed in the present; whilst He discovers to us the snares of the devil; whilst He enlightens us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.” He then concludes his statement with a kind of absolution: “Does the man,” he asks, “who says all this appear to you to be a denier of grace? Does he not acknowledge both man’s free will and God’s grace?” But, after all, he has not got beyond his commendation of the law and of teaching; assiduously inculcating this as the grace that helps us, and so following up the idea with which he had started, when he said, “We, however, allow it to consist in the help of God.” God’s help, indeed, he supposed must be recommended to us by manifold lures; by setting forth teaching and revelation, the opening of the eyes of the heart, the demonstration of the future, the discovery of the devil’s wiles, and the illumination of our minds by the varied and indescribable gift of heavenly grace,—all this, of course, with a view to our learning the commandments and promises of God. And what else is this than placing God’s grace in “the law and the teaching”?

Next: Chapter 9

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