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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 10

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 10.—Why the Pelagians Falsely Accuse Catholics of Maintaining Fate Under the Name of Grace.

But, as I was somewhat more attentively considering for what reason they should think it well to object this to us, that we assert fate under the name of grace, I first of all looked into those words of theirs which follow. For thus they have thought that this was to be objected to us: “Under the name,” say they, “of grace, they so assert fate as to say that unless God inspired unwilling and resisting man with the desire of good, and that good imperfect, he would neither be able to decline from evil nor to lay hold of good.” Then a little after, where they mention what they maintain, I gave heed to what was said by them about this matter. “We confess,” say they, that baptism is necessary for all ages, and that grace, moreover, assists the good purpose of everybody; but yet that it does not infuse the love of virtue into a reluctant one, because there is no acceptance of persons with God.” 2635 From these words of theirs, I perceived that for this reason they either think, or wish it to be thought, that we assert fate under the name of grace, because we say that God’s grace is not given in respect of our merits, but according to His own most merciful will, in that He said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” 2636 Where, by way of consequence, it is added, “Therefore it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” 2637 Here any one might be equally foolish in thinking or saying that the apostle is an assertor of fate. But here these people sufficiently lay themselves open; for when they malign us by saying that we maintain fate under the name of grace, because we say that God’s grace is not given on account of our merits, beyond a doubt they confess that they themselves say that it is given on account of our merits; thus their blindness could not conceal and dissimulate that they believe and think thus, although, when this view was objected to him, Pelagius, in the episcopal judgment of Palestine, with crafty fear condemned it. For it was objected to him from the words of his own disciple Cœlestius, indeed, that he himself also was in the habit of saying that God’s grace is given on account of our merits. And he in abhorrence, or in pretended abhorrence, of this, did not delay, with his lips at least, to anathematize it; 2638 but, as his later writings indicate, and the assertion of those followers of his makes evident, he kept it in his deceitful heart, until afterwards his boldness might put forth in letters 2639 what the cunning of a denier had then hidden for fear. And still the Pelagian bishops do not dread, and at least are not ashamed, to send their letters to the catholic Eastern bishops, in which they charge us with being assertors of fate because we do not say that even grace is given according to our merits; although Pelagius, fearing the Eastern bishops, did not dare to say this, and so was compelled to condemn it.



Rom. 2:11, Col. 3:25.


Exod. 33:19, Rom. 9:15.


Rom. ix. 16.


See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 30.


See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, 34.

Next: Chapter 11