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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 22

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 22 [XX.]—Another Instance of Pelagius’ Ambiguity.

Then, again, observe what he subjoins to the last remark: “Can any one,” says he, “forbid a second birth to an eternal and certain life, to him who has been born to this present uncertain life?” In other words: “Who is so impious as to forbid his being born again to the life which is sure and eternal, who has been born to this life of uncertainty?” When we first read these words, we supposed that by the phrase “uncertain life” he meant to designate this present temporal life; although it appeared to us that he ought rather to have called it “mortal” than “uncertain,” because it is brought to a close by certain death. But for all this, we thought that he had only shown a preference for calling this mortal life an uncertain one, because of the general view which men take that there is undoubtedly not a moment in our lives when we are free from this uncertainty. And so it happened that our anxiety about him was allayed to some extent by the following consideration, which rose almost to a proof, notwithstanding the fact of his unwillingness openly to confess that infants incur eternal death who depart this life without the sacrament of baptism. We argued: “If, as he seems to admit, eternal life can only accrue to them who have been baptized, it follows of course that they who die unbaptized incur everlasting death. This destiny, however, cannot by any means justly befall those who never in this life committed any sins of their own, unless on account of original sin.”


Next: Chapter 23

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