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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 32

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 32.—Why the Pelagians Deemed Prayers to Be Necessary. The Letter Which Pelagius Despatched to Pope Innocent with an Exposition of His Belief.

Now I will say nothing at present about the works of Cœlestius, or those tracts of his which p. 228 he produced in those ecclesiastical proceedings, 1867 copies of the whole of which we have taken care to send to you, along with another letter which we deemed it necessary to add. If you carefully examine all these documents, you will observe that he does not posit the grace of God, which helps us whether to avoid evil or to do good, beyond the natural choice of the will, but only in the law and teaching. Thus he even asserts that their very prayers are necessary for the purpose of showing men what to desire and love. All these documents, however, I may omit further notice of at present; for Pelagius himself has lately forwarded to Rome both a letter and an exposition of his belief, addressing it to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, of whose death he was ignorant. Now in this letter he says that “there are certain subjects about which some men are trying to vilify him. One of these is, that he refuses to infants the sacrament of baptism, and promises the kingdom of heaven to some, independently of Christ’s redemption. Another of them is, that he so speaks of man’s ability to avoid sin as to exclude God’s help, and so strongly confides in free will that he repudiates the help of divine grace.” Now, as touching the perverted opinion he holds about the baptism of infants (although he allows that it ought to be administered to them), in opposition to the Christian faith and catholic truth, this is not the place for us to enter on an accurate discussion, for we must now complete our treatise on the assistance of grace, which is the subject we undertook. Let us see what answer he makes out of this very letter to the objection which he has proposed concerning this matter. Omitting his invidious complaints about his opponents, we approach the subject before us; and find him expressing himself as follows.



Augustin again mentions a short treatise by Cœlestius produced by him at Rome in some proceedings of the church there, below, in ch. 36 (xxxiii.), and also in his work De Peccato Originali, chs. 2 and 5 (ii., v.), etc. Those acts of the Roman church were drawn up (as Augustin testifies in his Contra duas Epistolas Pelagianorum, ii. 3, “when Cœlestius was present to answer charges laid against him”) in the time of Pope Zosimus, A.D. 417.

Next: Chapter 33

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