The whole of this dogma of Pelagius, observe, is carefully expressed in these words, and none other, in the third book of his treatise in defence of the liberty of the will, in which he has taken care to distinguish with so great subtlety these three things,—the “capacity,” the “volition,” and the “action,” that is, the “ability,” the “volition,” and the “actuality,”—that, whenever we read or hear of his acknowledging the assistance of divine grace in order to our avoidance of evil and accomplishment of good,—whatever he may mean by the said assistance of grace, whether law and the teaching or any other thing,—we are sure of what he says; nor can we run into any mistake by understanding him otherwise than he means. For we cannot help knowing that, according to his belief, it is not our “volition” nor our “action” which is assisted by the divine help, but solely our “capacity” to will and act, which alone of the three, as he affirms, we have of God. As if that faculty were infirm which God Himself placed in our nature; while the other two, which, as he would have it, are our own, are so strong and firm and self-sufficient as to require none of His help! so that He does not help us to will, nor help us to act, but simply helps us to the possibility of willing and acting. The apostle, however, holds the contrary, when he says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” 1791 And that they might be sure that it was not simply in their being able to work (for this they had already received in nature and in teaching), but in their actual working, that they were divinely assisted, the apostle does not say to them, “For it is God that worketh in you to be able,” as if they already possessed volition and operation among their own resources, without requiring His assistance in respect of these two; but he says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to perform of His own good pleasure;” 1792 or, as the reading runs in other copies, especially the Greek, “both to will and to operate.” Consider, now, whether the apostle did not thus long before foresee by the Holy Ghost that there would arise adversaries of the grace of God; and did not therefore declare that God works within us those two very things, even “willing” and “operating,” which this man so determined to be our own, as if they were in no wise assisted by the help of divine grace.
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