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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 14

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 14 [XIII.]—He Shows That, Even After the Synod of Palestine, Pelagius Held the Same Opinions as Cœlestius on the Subject of Original Sin.

I see, however, that it may be most justly demanded of me, that I do not defer my promised demonstration, that he actually entertains the same views as Cœlestius. In the first book of his more recent work, written in defence of free will (which work he mentions in the letter he despatched to Rome), he says: “Everything good, and everything evil, on account of which we are either laudable or blameworthy, is not born with us but done by us: for we are born not fully developed, but with a capacity for either conduct; and we are procreated as without virtue, so also without vice; and previous to the action of our own proper will, that alone is in man which God has formed.” Now you perceive that in these words of Pelagius, the dogma of both these men is contained, that infants are born without the contagion of any sin from Adam. It is therefore not astonishing that Cœlestius refused to condemn such as say that Adam’s sin injured only himself, and not the human race; and that infants are at their birth in the same state in which Adam was before the transgression. But it is very much to be wondered at, that Pelagius had the effrontery to anathematize these opinions. For if, as he alleges, “evil is not born with us, and we are procreated without fault, and the only thing in man previous to the action of his own will is what God has formed,” then of course the sin of Adam did only injure himself, inasmuch as it did not pass on to his offspring. For there is not any sin which is not an evil; or a sin that is not a fault; or else sin was created by God. But he says: “Evil is not born with us, and we are procreated without fault; and the only thing in men at their birth is what God has formed.” Now, since by this language he supposes it to be most true, that, according to the well-known sentence of his: “Adam’s sin was injurious to himself alone, and not to the human race,” why did Pelagius condemn this, if it were not for the purpose of deceiving his catholic judges? By parity of reasoning, it may also be argued: “If p. 241 evil is not born with us, and if we are procreated without fault, and if the only thing found in man at the time of his birth is what God has formed,” it follows beyond a doubt that “infants at their birth are in the same condition that Adam was before the transgression,” in whom no evil or fault was inherent, and in whom that alone existed which God had formed. And yet Pelagius pronounced anathema on all those persons “who hold now, or have at any time held, that newborn babes are placed by their birth in the same state that Adam was in before the transgression,”—in other words, are without any evil, without any fault, having that only which God had formed. Now, why again did Pelagius condemn this tenet also, if it were not for the purpose of deceiving the catholic Synod, and saving himself from the condemnation of an heretical innovator?

Next: Chapter 15

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