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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Work on the Proceedings of Pelagius.: Chapter 51

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 51 [XXVI.]—The Nature of Augustin’s Letter to Pelagius.

For my own part, indeed, in my letter which he produced, I not only abstained from all praises of him, but I even exhorted him, with as much earnestness as I could, short of actually mooting the question, to cultivate right views about the grace of God. In my salutation I called him “lord” 1750 —a title which, in our epistolary style, we usually apply even to some persons who are not Christians,—and this without untruth, inasmuch as we do, in a certain sense, owe to all such persons a service, which is yet freedom, to help them in obtaining the salvation which is in Christ. I added the epithet “most beloved;” and as I now call him by this term, so shall I continue to do so, even if he be angry with me; because, if I ceased to retain my love towards him, because of his feeling the anger, I should only injure myself rather than him. I, moreover, styled him “most longed for,” because I greatly longed to have a conversation with him in person; for I had already heard that he was endeavouring publicly to oppose grace, whereby we are justified, whenever any mention was made of it. The brief contents of the letter itself indeed show all this; for, after thanking him for the pleasure he gave me by the information of his own health and that of his friends (whose bodily health we are bound of course to wish for, however much we may desire their amendment in other respects), I at once expressed the hope that the Lord would recompense him with such blessings as do not appertain to physical welfare, but which he used to think, and probably still thinks, consist solely in the freedom of the will and his own power,—at the same time, and for this reason, wishing him “eternal life.” Then again, remembering the many good and kind wishes he had expressed for me in his letter, which I was answering, I went on to beg of him, too, that he would pray for me, that the Lord would indeed make me such a man as he believed me to be already; that so I might gently remind him, against the opinion he was himself entertaining, that the very righteousness which he had thought worthy to be praised in me was “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” 1751 This is the substance of that short letter of mine, and such was my purpose when I dictated it. This is a copy of it:



This term corresponds somewhat to our Sir; but Augustin here refers to its more expressive meaning of Master, or Lord.


Rom. ix. 16.

Next: Chapter 52

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