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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 8

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 8.—Augustin Refutes the Passage Adduced Above.

Well, now, whoever you are that have said all this, what you say is by no means true; by no means, I repeat; you are much deceived, or you aim at deceiving others. We do not deny free will; but, even as the Truth declares, “if the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed.” 2206 It is yourselves who invidiously deny this Liberator, since you ascribe a vain liberty to yourselves in your captivity. Captives you are; for “of whom a man is overcome,” as the Scripture says, “of the same is he brought in bondage;” 2207 and no one except by the grace of the great Liberator is loosed from the chain of this bondage, from which no man living is free. For “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned.” 2208 Thus, then, God is the Creator of those that are born in such wise that all pass from the one into condemnation, who have not the One Liberator by regeneration. For He is described as “the Potter, forming out of the same lump one vessel unto honour in His mercy, and another unto dishonour 2209 in judgment.” And so runs the Church’s canticle “mercy and judgment.” 2210 You are therefore only misleading yourself and others when you say, “If one should affirm, either that there is free will in man, or that God is the Creator of those that are born, he is at once set down as a Cœlestian and a Pelagian;” 2211 for the catholic faith says these things. If, however, any one says that there is a free will in man for worshipping God aright, without His assistance; and whosoever says that God is the Creator of those that are born in such wise as to deny that infants have any need of one to redeem them from the power of the devil: that is the man who is set down as a disciple of Cœlestius and Pelagius. Therefore that men have within them a free will, and that God is the Creator of those that are born, are propositions which we both allow. You are not Cœlestians and Pelagians for merely saying this. But what you do really say is this, that any man whatever has freedom enough of will p. 286 for doing good without God’s help, and that infants undergo no such change as being “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God;” 2212 and because you say so, you are Cœlestians and Pelagians. Why, then, do you hide under the covering of a common dogma for deceit, concealing your own especial delinquency which has gained for you a party-name; and why, to terrify the ignorant with a shocking term, do you say of us, “To avoid being called heretics, they turn Manicheans?”



John viii. 36.


2 Pet. ii. 19.


Rom. v. 12.


Rom. ix. 21.


Ps. ci. 1.


See The Unfinished Work, iii. 101.


Col. i. 13.

Next: Chapter 9