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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5 [III.]—The Second Item in the Accusation; And Pelagius’ Answer.

The synod of bishops then proceeded to say: “Let another section be read.” Accordingly there was read the passage in the same book wherein Pelagius had laid down the position that “all men are ruled by their own will.” On this being read, Pelagius said in answer: “This I stated in the interest of free will. God is its helper whenever it chooses good; man, however, when sinning is himself in fault, as under the direction of a free will.” Upon hearing this, the bishops exclaimed: “Nor again is this opposed to the doctrine of the Church.” For who indeed could condemn or deny the freedom of the will, when God’s help is associated with it? His opinion, therefore, as thus explained in his answer, was, with good reason, deemed satisfactory by the bishops. And yet, after all, the statement made in his book, “All men are ruled by their own will,” ought without doubt to have deeply disturbed the brethren, who had discovered what these men are accustomed to dispute against the grace of God. For it is said, “All men are ruled by their own will,” as if God rules no man, and the Scripture says in vain, “Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; rule them, and lift them up for ever.” 1611 They would not, of course, stay, if they are ruled only by their own will without God, even as sheep which have no shepherd: which, God forbid for us. For, unquestionably to be led is something more compulsory than to be ruled. He who is ruled at the same time does something himself,—indeed, when ruled by God, it is with the express view that he should also act rightly; whereas the man who is led can hardly be understood to do any thing himself at all. And yet the Saviour’s helpful grace is so much better than our own wills and desires, that the apostle does not hesitate to say: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” 1612 And our free will can do nothing better for us than to submit itself to be led by Him who can do nothing amiss; and after doing this, not to doubt that it was helped to do it by Him of whom it is said in the psalm, “He is my God, His mercy shall go before me.” 1613



Ps. xxviii. 9.


Rom. viii. 14.


Ps. lix. 10.

Next: Chapter 6

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