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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 24

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 24 [VIII.]—There are Three Principal Heads in the Pelagian Heresy.

When, then, the Pelagians are pressed with these and such like testimonies and words of truth, not to deny original sin; not to say that the grace of God whereby we are justified is not given freely, but according to our merits; nor to say that in mortal man, however holy and well doing, there is so great righteousness that even after the washing of regeneration, until he finishes this life of his, forgiveness of sins is not necessary to him,—therefore when they are pressed not to make these three assertions, and by their means alienate men who believe them from the grace of the Saviour, and persuade the lifted-up unto pride to go headlong unto the judgment of the devil: they introduce the clouds of other questions in which their impiety—in the sight of men more simpleminded, whether that they are more slow or less instructed in the sacred writings—may be concealed. These are the misty questions of the praise of the creature, of the praise of marriage, of the praise of the law, of the praise of free will, of the praise of the saints; as if any one of our people were in the habit of disparaging those things, and not rather of announcing all things with due praises to the honour of the Creator and Saviour. But even the creature does not desire in such wise to be praised as to be unwilling to be healed. And the more marriage is to be praised, the less is to be attributed to it the shameful concupiscence of the flesh, which is not of the Father, but of the world; and which assuredly marriage found and did not make in men; because, moreover, it is actually in very many without marriage, and if nobody had sinned marriage itself might be without it. And the law, holy and just and good, is neither grace itself, nor is anything rightly done by it without grace; because the law is not given that it may give life, but it was added because of transgression, that it might conclude all persons convicted under sin, and that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 2771 And the free will taken captive does not avail, except for sin; but for righteousness, unless divinely set free and aided, it does not avail. And thus, also, all the saints, whether from that ancient Abel to John the Baptist, or from the apostles themselves up to this time, and henceforth even to the end of the world, are to be praised in the Lord, not in themselves. Because the voice, even of those earlier ones, is, “In the Lord shall my soul be praised.”  2772 And the voice of the later ones is, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” 2773 And to all belongs, “That he that glorieth may glory in the Lord.” And it is the common confession of all, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 2774



Gal. iii. 22.


Ps. xxxiv. 2.


1 Cor. xv. 10.


1 John i. 8.

Next: Chapter 25