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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 19

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 19 [XVIII.]—The Two Roots of Action, Love and Cupidity; And Each Brings Forth Its Own Fruit.

Concerning this “capacity,” Pelagius thus writes in the first book of his Defence of Free Will: “Now,” says he, “we have implanted in us by God a capacity for either part. 1826 It resembles, as I may say, a fruitful and fecund root which yields and produces diversely according to the will of man, and which is capable, at the planter’s own choice, of either shedding a beautiful bloom of virtues, or of bristling with the thorny thickets of vices.” Scarcely heeding what he says, he here makes one and the same root productive both of good and evil fruits, in opposition to gospel truth and apostolic teaching. For the Lord declares that “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;” 1827 and when the Apostle Paul says that covetousness is “the root of all evils,” 1828 he intimates to us, of course, that love may be regarded as the root of all good things. On the supposition, therefore, that two trees, one good and the other corrupt, represent two human beings, a good one and a bad, what else is the good man except one with a good will, that is, a tree with a good root? And what is the bad man except one with a bad will, that is, a tree with a bad root? The fruits which spring from such roots and trees are deeds, are words, are thoughts, which proceed, when good, from a good will, and when evil, from an evil one.



[The technical phrase is possibilitas utriusque partis.—W.]


Matt. vii. 18.


1 Tim. vi. 10.

Next: Chapter 20

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