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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 25

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 25 [IX.]—He Shows that the Opinion of the Catholics is the Mean Between that of the Manicheans and Pelagians, and Refutes Both.

But since, in these five particulars which I have set forth, in which they seek lurking-places, and from which they weave misrepresentations, they are forsaken and convicted by the divine writings, they have thought to deter those whom they could by the hateful name of Manicheans, lest in opposition to their most perverse teachings their ears should be conformed to the truth; because doubtless the Manicheans blasphemously condemn the three former of those five dogmas, saying that neither the human creature, nor p. 415 marriage, nor the law was ordained by the supreme and true God. But they do not receive what the truth says, that sin took its origin from free will, and that all evil, whether of angel or man, comes from it; because they prefer to believe, in their turning aside from God, that the nature of evil was always evil, and co-eternal with God. They, moreover, attack the holy patriarchs and prophets with as many execrations as they can. This is the way in which the modern heretics think, that by objecting the name of Manicheans, they evade the force of truth. But they do not evade it; because it follows them up, and overturns at once Manicheans and Pelagians. For in that when a man is born there is something good, so far as he is a man, he condemns the Manichean, and praises the Creator; but in so far as he derives original sin, he condemns the Pelagian, and holds a Saviour necessary. For even because that nature is said to be healable, it repels both teachings; because it would not, on the one hand, have need of medicine if it were sound, which is opposed to the Pelagian, nor could it be healed at all if the evil in it were eternal and immutable, which is opposed to the Manichean. Moreover, in that to marriage, which we praise as ordained of God, we do not say that the concupiscence of the flesh is to be attributed, this is both contrary to the Pelagians, who make this concupiscence itself a matter of praise, and contrary to the Manicheans, who attribute it to a foreign and evil nature, when it really is an evil accidental to our nature, not to be separated by the disjunction from God, but to be healed by the mercy of God. Moreover, in that we say that the law, holy and just and good, was given not for the justification of the wicked, but for the conviction of the proud, for the sake of transgressions,—this is, on the one hand, opposed to the Manicheans, in that according to the apostle the law is praised; and on the other opposed to the Pelagians, in that, in accordance with the apostle, no one is justified by the law; and therefore, for the sake of making alive those whom the letter has killed, that is, whom the law, enjoining good, makes guilty by transgressions, the Spirit of grace freely brings aid. Also in that we say that the will is free in evil, but for doing good it must be made free by God’s grace, this is opposed to the Pelagians; but in that we say it originated from that which previously was not evil, this is opposed to the Manicheans. Again, that we honour the holy patriarchs and prophets with praises due to them in God, is in opposition to the Manicheans; but that we say that even to them, however righteous and pleasing to God they might have been, the propitiation of the Lord was necessary, this is in opposition to the Pelagians. The catholic faith, therefore, finds them both, as it does also other heretics, in opposition to it, and convicts both by the authority of the divine testimonies and by the light of truth.

Next: Chapter 26

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