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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.: Chapter 30

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 30 [XIV.]—The Tenth Item in the Accusation. The More Prominent Points of Cœlestius’ Work Continued.

After this we find objected against Pelagius some other points of Cœlestius’ teaching,—prominent ones, and undoubtedly worthy of condemnation; such, indeed, as would certainly have involved Pelagius in condemnation, if he had not anathematized them in the synod. Under his third head Cœlestius was alleged to have written: “That God’s grace and assistance is not given for single actions, but is imparted in the freedom of the will, or in the law and in doctrine.” And again: “That God’s grace is given in proportion to our deserts; because, were He to give it to sinful persons, He would seem to be unrighteous.” And from these words he inferred that “therefore grace itself has been placed in my will, according as I have been either worthy or unworthy of it. For if we do all things by grace, then whenever we are overcome by sin, it is not we who are overcome, but God’s grace, which wanted by all means to help us, but was not able.” And once more he says: “If, when we conquer sin, it is by the grace of God; then it is He who is in fault whenever we are conquered by sin, because He was either altogether unable or unwilling to keep us safe.” To these charges Pelagius replied: “Whether these are really the opinions of Cœlestius or not, is the concern of those who say that they are. For my own part, indeed, I never entertained such views; on the contrary, I anathematize every one who does entertain them.” Then the synod said: “This holy synod accepts you for your condemnation of these impious words.” Now certainly there can be no mistake, in regard to these opinions, either as to the clear way in which Pelagius pronounced on them his anathema, or as to the absolute terms in which the bishops condemned them. Whether Pelagius or Cœlestius, or both of them, or neither of them, or other persons with them or in their name, have ever held or still hold these sentiments,—may be doubtful or obscure; but nevertheless by this judgment of the bishops it has been declared plainly enough that they have been condemned, and that Pelagius would have been condemned along with them, unless he had himself condemned them too. Now, after this trial, it is certain that whenever we enter on a controversy touching opinions of this kind, we only discuss an already condemned heresy.

Next: Chapter 31