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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 1

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 1 [I.]—Pelagius Esteemed a Holy Man; His Expositions on Saint Paul.

The questions which you proposed that I should write to you about, in opposition to those persons who say that Adam would have died even if he had not sinned, and that nothing of his sin has passed to his posterity by natural transmission; and especially on the subject of the baptism of infants, which the universal Church, with most pious and maternal care, maintains in constant celebration; and whether in this life there are, or have been, or ever will be, children of men without any sin at all—I have already discussed in two lengthy books. And I venture to think that if in them I have not met all the points which perplex all men’s minds on such matters (an achievement which, I apprehend,—nay, which I have no doubt,—lies beyond the power either of myself, or of any other person), I have at all events prepared something in the shape of a firm ground on which those who defend the faith delivered to us by our fathers, against the novel opinions of its opponents, may at any time take their stand, not unarmed for the contest. However, within the last few days I have read some writings by Pelagius,—a holy man, as I am told, who has made no small progress in the Christian life,—containing some very brief expository notes on the epistles of the Apostle Paul; 652 and therein I found, on coming to the passage where the apostle says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so it passed upon all men,” 653 an argument which is used by those who say that infants are not burdened with original sin. Now I confess that I have not refuted this argument in my lengthy treatise, because it did not indeed once occur to me that anybody was capable of thinking such sentiments. Being, however, unwilling to add to that work, which I had concluded, I have thought it right to insert in this epistle both the argument itself in the very words in which I read it, and the answer which it seems to me proper to give to it.



[This commentary is also made known to us by Marius Mercator’s Commonitoria, cap. 2, and has been preserved for us among the works of Jerome (Vallarsius’ ed., tom. xi.), although probably not without alterations. It seems to have been composed before A.D. 410, at Rome.—W.]


Rom. v. 12.

Next: Chapter 2