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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 14

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 14.—That the Apostle is Speaking in His Own Person and that of Others Who Are Under Grace, Not Still Under Law.

And from this point he now begins—and, it was on account of this that I undertook the consideration of these things—to introduce his own person, and to speak as if about himself; where the Pelagians will not have it that the apostle himself is to be understood, but say that he has transfigured another person into himself,—that is, a man placed still under the law, not yet freed by grace. And here, indeed, they ought at least to concede that “in the law no one is justified,” as the same apostle says elsewhere; but that the law avails for the knowledge of sin, and for the transgression of the law itself, so that sin, being known and increased, grace may be sought for through faith. But they do not fear that those things should be understood concerning the apostle which he might also say concerning his past, but they fear those things which follow. For here he says: “I had not known lust if the law had not said, Thou shall not covet. But the occasion being taken, sin wrought in me by the commandment all manner of lust. For without the law sin was dead. But I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died, and the commandment which was for life was found for me to be death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. Was, then, that which is good made death unto me? By no means. But sin, that it might appear sin, worked death to me by that which is good, that the sinner or the sin might become by the commandment excessive.” All these things, as I have said, the apostle can seem to have commemorated from his past life: so that from what he says, “For I was alive without the law once,” he may have wished his first age from infancy to be understood, before the years of reason; but in that he added, “But when the commandment came, sin revived, but I died,” he would fain show himself able to receive the commandment, but not to do it, and therefore a transgressor of the law.


Next: Chapter 15

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