This book can hardly be said to form part of a dialogue. It is rather an argument from Scripture to prove the point of the Augustinian arguer, Atticus. From the fourth chapter onwards it consists, like the last five chapters of Book I., of a chain of Scripture texts, taken from the New Testament and the Prophets, to show the universality of sin, and thus to refute the Pelagian assertion that a man can be without sin if he wills. We shall, therefore, give, as in the previous case, a list of the texts and the first words of them, only giving Jeromes words where he introduces some original remark of his own, or some noteworthy comment.
The Pelagian begins by reiterating the dilemma: If the commandments are given to be obeyed, then man can be without sin; if he is, by his creation, such that he must be a sinner, then God, not he, is the author of sin. To the argument that sacrifices are enjoined for sins of ignorance, he replies by appealing from the Old Testament to the New, which leads to a discussion (2, 3) on St. Pauls description of the conflict with sin, in Romans vii. Paul, it is argued, speaks not as a sinner, but as a man, and thus confesses the sinfulness of humanity. That men may be without ingrained vice is possible; that they can be without sin is not. This leads the Augustinian, Atticus, resuming his list of testimonies, to the fact that, though men are found who are righteous as avoiding wickedness (κακία), yet none is without sin (ἀναμάρτητος ).
In Psalm xxxii. 5. One who speaks of himself as “holy,” yet confesses his transgression.
Prov. xxiv. 16. Explains this, “The righteous falls, but sins again.”
Prov. 18.17, LXX. and Vulgate. A righteous man accuses himself when he begins to speak.
Ps. lviii. 3. Sinners are estranged from the womb; that is, either, as St. Paul says (Rom. v. 14), they sin “after the similitude of Adam”; or, “when Christ, as the firstborn, opened the virgins womb” (Exod. xiii. 2). The heretics refused to acknowledge the mystery, which was prefigured by the Eastern door of the Temple (Ezek. xliv. 2), which closed again when once the High Priest had gone through it. 5257
Job iv. 17-21. Shall mortal man be just with God?
Job 7.1. The life of man is temptation.
Job. 9.29-31. If I wash myself with snow water, etc.
Job. 10.15. If I be righteous, etc.
Prov. xvi. 26, LXX. Man toileth in sorrow.
Job xl. 4. What shall I answer thee?
Prov. xx. 9. “Who will boast that he has a clean heart?” which shows at least that the commandments are not easy, as Pelagius says they are.
1 John v. 3. “His commandments are not grievous,” and
Matt. xi. 30. “My yoke is easy,” are true only in comparison with Judaism, and should be compared with
Acts xv. 10. A yoke …which neither our fathers nor we are able to bear.
James iv. 11. “Thou judgest the law,” that is, if you say that the condemnation of sins of ignorance is unreasonable. That we all sin in such ways is evident from
Prov. xv. 1, LXX. “Wrath destroys even wise men.”
Eph. iv. 26. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
Matt. v. 22. He who is angry…shall be in danger of council.
Eccles. xi. 19. “I am the most foolish of all men.” This is said by Christ in the person of humanity. So
Ps. lxix. 5. “God, Thou knowest my foolishness.” But
1 Cor. i. 25. The foolishness of God is wiser than men.
Ecclesiasticus 1.18. “In much wisdom is much grief,” shows the wise mans sense of imperfection. So
Ecclesiasticus 8.7. “I hated my life,” and
Ecclesiasticus 8.14. “There be righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked;” that is, God sees evil where we do not.
Ecclesiasticus 8.17. “However much a man may labor, yet he shall not find it;” and
Ecclesiasticus 10.1. “Dead flies cause the ointment to stink;” That is, almost everyone is defiled by heresy or other faults.
6. There are four emotions which agitate mankind, two relating to the present, two to the future; two to good, and two to evil. There is sorrow, called in Greek λύπη, and joy, in Greek χαρά or ἡδονή, although many translate the latter word by voluptas, pleasure; the one of which is referred to evil, the other to good. And we go too far if we rejoice over such things as we ought not, as, for example, riches, power, distinctions, the bad fortune of enemies, or their death; or, on the other hand, if we are tortured with grief on account of present evils, adversity, exile, poverty, weakness, and the death of kindred, all of which is forbidden by the Apostle. And again, if we covet those things which we consider good, inheritance, distinctions, unvaried prosperity, bodily health, and the like, in the possession of which we rejoice and find enjoyment; or if we fear those things which we deem adverse. Now, according to the Stoics, Zeno that is to say and Chrysippus, it is possible for a perfect man to be free from these emotions; according to the Peripatetics, it is difficult and even impossible, an opinion which has the constant support of all Scripture. Hence Josephus, the historian of the Maccabees, said that the emotions can be subdued and governed, not extirpated, and Ciceros five books of “Tusculan Disputations” are full of these discussions. 5258 According to the Apostle, the weakness of the body and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places fight against us. And the same writer 5259 tells us that the works of the flesh and the works of the spirit are manifest, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that we do not the things that we would. If we do not what we would, but what we would not, how can you say that a man can be without sin if he chooses? You see that neither an Apostle, nor any believer can perform what he wishes. 5260 “Love covereth a multitude of sins,” not so much sins of the past as sins of the present, that we may not sin any more while the love of God abideth in us. Wherefore it is said concerning the woman that was a sinner, 5261 “Her sins which are many are forgiven her, for she loved much.” And this shows us that the doing what we wish does not depend merely upon our own power, but upon the assistance which God in His mercy gives to our will.
1 John i. 7. The blood of Christ cleanses us.
Gal. ii. 16. “By the law no flesh shall be justified;” but
Rom. 6.14. Not under the law, but under grace.
Rom. 9.16. Not of him that willeth, but of God which showeth mercy.
Rom. 9.30-32. The Gentiles…attained to the righteousness by faith.
Rom. 10.2. Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth.
1 Cor. i. 1-3. Grace to you from God.
1 Cor. iii. 6-10. Paul planted…but God gave the increase.
1 Cor. 4.4. I know nothing against myself, yet I am not hereby justified.
1 Cor. 4.7. What have ye that ye did not receive?
1 Cor. 4.19. I will come to you, if the Lord will.
2 Cor. iii. 4-6. Our sufficiency is of God.
Gal. ii. 16. We have believed, that we might, be justified by faith.
Gal. 2.21. If righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead for nought.
Gal. 3.24. The law our teacher to bring us to Christ.
Gal. 5.4. Ye are severed from Christ, ye that would be justified by the law.
Phil. ii. 13. It is God that worketh in you.
2 Thess. iii. 3. The Lord is faithful, He shall establish you.
Tit. iii. 4-7. The kindness and mercy of God our Saviour saved us.
Matt. v. 22. “Every man who is angry…shall be in danger of the council.” Which of us is not here condemned?
Matt. vi. 34. “Be not anxious for to-morrow.” Do you fulfil this?
Matt. 7.14. “Narrow is the gate which leadeth to life.” How can you say that the commandments are easy?
Luke ix. 58. “The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” This is interpreted by
Is. xxviii. 12. “Receive him that is weary, and this is my rest;” and
Ps. xii. 1. Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth.
Matt. x. 9. “Get you no gold…nor shoes.” Who has fulfilled this? Not even the Apostles, for
Acts xii. 8. The angel bids Peter to bind on his sandals.
Matt. x. 22-34. Describes the persecutions of Christs followers, and gives the command to take up the cross. Are these easy?
Matt. 14.31. Even Peters faith fails, and he begins to sink.
Matt. 16.25. Whosoever will lose his life will find it.
Matt. 18.7. “Woe to the man through whom stumbling cometh.” But
James iii. 2. In many things we all stumble or err.
Phil. ii. 21. All seek their own.
Matt. xix. 21. The young lawyer had kept all the law, yet failed.
Matt. 23.26-28. The woes on the Pharisees fall in their measure upon all.
Matt. xxvi. 39. “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Yet Critobulus says, by his own will he can do right.
Mark xiv. 37. “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” They could not.
Mark 6.5. He could do no mighty works because of their unbelief.
Mark 7.24. “He went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon.” If Christ could not do as he wished, how can we?
Mark 9.5. Peters request at the Transfiguration shows his ignorance.
Mark 13.32. Even the Son knows not all things; how then can we?
Mark 14.35. If it be possible. How can you say it is possible every hour to avoid sin?
Mark xvi. 14. Even the Apostles showed unbelief and hardness of heart.
1 John v. 19. The world lieth in the evil one.
Luke i. 20. Even Zacharias disbelieved Gods message.
Matt. xvii. 15. The disciples could not relieve the lunatic, because of unbelief.
Mark iv. 34. The disciples dispute about precedence.
Luke ix. 54. James and John show a vindictive spirit.
xvi. 15. That which is exalted among men is abomination in the sight of God.
xvii. 1. It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come.
xvii. 6. The Apostles faith was not even like a grain of mustard seed.
Luke xviii. 1. We are always to pray. This shows our weakness.
Luke 18.27. Who, then, can be saved? It is possible, but to God only.
Luke 22.24. The contest for precedence at the last supper.
Luke 22.46. Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
John v. 30. Even Christ says, “I cannot do anything by myself”; and
John 7.10. Was irresolute about going up to the Feast of Tabernacles.
John 7.19. None of you doeth the law.
John 17.12. I kept them—they did not keep themselves.
Acts xv. 39. Paul and Barnabas quarrelled.
Acts xvii. 30. The times before Christ were times of ignorance.
1 Cor. iv. 19. I will come if the Lord will.
James ii. 10. To stumble in one point is to be guilty of all.
James 3.2. In many things we all stumble.
James 3.8. The tongue is a deadly poison.
James iv. 1. Wars arise from our lust. David indeed said,
Ps. xxvi. 2. “Examine me and prove me,” etc. This self-confidence led to his fall.
Psa. 51.1. Have mercy on me, O God.
Psa. 80.5. “Thou feedest us with the bread of tears.” Similarly
Psa. 32.5. I said I will confess my sin,
Psa. 37.39. The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.
Psa. 38.7. There is no soundness in my flesh.
Rom. vii. 18. In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.
Ps. xxxviii. 8. Vulgate. My loins are filled with deceits.
Psa. 39.5. He hath made our days as handbreadths.
Psa. 69.5. My sins are not hid from thee.
Psa. 77.2. My soul refused to be comforted.
Ps. lxxxix. 2. Mercy shall be built up forever.
Psa. 11.2. “The wicked bend their bow”—an image of the heretics.
Psa. 92.14. Those that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish.
2 Sam. 16.10. He humbles himself under Abishais violence and Shimeis curse.
2 Sam. 17.14. And is delivered only by Gods confounding the counsel of Ahithophel.
1 Kings xiv. 8. It was God who gave Jeroboam the kingdom.
1 Kings xv. 11. Asa, though a good man, was faulty.
1 Kings 19.4. Elijah fled from Jezebel.
Ps. cxviii. 6. The Lord is my keeper.
2 Chron. xvii. 3. Jehoshaphat prospers because the Lord is with him. Yet
2 Chron. 19.2. He is rebuked for joining with Ahab.
2 Chron. xxii. 9. Ahaziah received burial among kings because descended from righteous Jehoshaphat.
2 Kings 18.14. He gave the consecrated gold to the king of Assyria.
2 Chron. xxxii. 26. He fell by the lifting up of his heart.
2 Chron. 34.2. Josiah was a righteous man; yet
2 Chron. 35.22. He was slain through not heeding Gods warning; and
Hos. 11.9. “I will not enter into the city.” Only the Holy One is not joined to the mass of ungodliness.
Amos vi. 13. We turn righteousness into wormwood.
Jonah i. 14. The sailors confess that God is just in raising the storm.
Micah vii. 2. The godly man is perished from the earth, etc.
Mic. 6.8. The command of justice, mercy, and a humble walk with God is only possible to humble faith, for
Ps. cxl. 6. “The wicked walk on every side,” and
James iv. 6. God giveth grace to the humble.
Habakkuk iii. 16. Let rottenness enter into my bones, if only I may rest, etc.
Zech. iii. 1. Joshua is represented as clothed in filthy garments, and is freed through Gods mercy.
But Jovinians heir says “I am quite free from sin, I have no filthy garments, I am governed by my own will, I am greater than an Apostle. The Apostle does what he would not, and what he would he does not; but I do what I will, and what I would not I do not: the kingdom of heaven has been prepared for me, or rather I have by my virtuous life prepared it for myself. Adam was subject to punishment, and so are others who think themselves guilty after the similitude of Adams transgressions; I and my crew alone have nothing to fear. Other men shut up in their cells and who never see women, because, poor creatures! they do not listen to my words, are tormented with desire: crowds of women may surround me, I feel no stirring of concupiscence. For to me may be applied the 5265 words, Holy stones are rolled upon the ground, and the reason why I am insensible to the attraction of sin is that in the power of free will I carry Christs trophy about with me.” But let us listen to God 5266 proclaiming by the mouth of Isaiah: “O my people, they which call thee happy cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Who is the greatest subverter of the people of God—he who, relying on the power of free choice, despises the help of the Creator, and is satisfied with following his own will, or he who dreads to be judged by the details of the Lords commandments? To men of this sort, God 5267 says, “Woe unto you that are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight.” Isaiah, if we follow the Hebrew, laments 5268 and says, “Woe is me because I have been silent, because I am a man of unclean lips: and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the Lord of Hosts.” He for his meritorious and virtuous life enjoyed the sight of God, and conscious of his sins confessed that he had unclean lips. Not that he had said anything repugnant to the will of God, but because, either from fear, or from a deep sense of shame, he had been 5269 silent, and had not reproved the errors of the people so freely as a prophet should. When do we sinners rebuke offenders, we who flatter wealth and accept the persons of sinners for the sake of filthy lucre? for we shall hardly say that we speak with perfect frankness to men of whose assistance we stand in need. Suppose that we do not such things as they, suppose we keep ourselves from every form of sin; to refrain from speaking the truth is certainly sin. In the Septuagint, however, we do not find the words “because I have been silent,” but “because I was pricked,” that is with the consciousness of sin; and thus the words of the 5270 prophet are fulfilled. “My life was turned into misery while I was pierced by the thorn.” He was pricked by the thorn of sin: you are decked with the flowers of virtue. 5271 “The moon shall be ashamed, and the sun confounded, when the Lord shall punish the host of heaven on high.” This is explained by another passage. 5272 “Even the stars are unclean in His sight,” and again, 5273 “He chargeth His angels with folly.” The moon is ashamed, the sun is confounded, and the sky covered with sackcloth, and shall we fearlessly and joyously, as though we were free from all sin, face the majesty of the Judge, when the mountains shall melt away, that is, all who are lifted up by pride, and all the host of the heavens, whether they be stars, or angelic powers, when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and all their host shall fade away like leaves?
Is. xxxiv. 5. “My sword hath drunk its fill in the heavens. It will come down in Edom.” How much more is there wrath against sin on earth! Edom means blood, which cannot inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. xv. 50).
Isa. 45.9. Woe unto him who striveth with his Maker.
Isa. 53.6. We have all gone astray like sheep.
Ezek. xvi. 14. Jerusalem is perfect in beauty; yet
1 Cor. xv. 9. I am not worthy—because I persecuted.
Let us confess with shame that these are the utterances of men who have already won their reward; sinners upon earth, and still in our frail and mortal bodies let us adopt the language of the saints in heaven who have even been endowed with incorruption and immortality. 5275 “And ye say the way of the Lord is not equal, when your ways are not equal.” It is Pharisaic pride to attribute to the injustice of the Creator sins which are due to our own will, and to slander His righteousness. The sons of Zadok, the priests of the spiritual temple, that is the Church, 5276 go not out to the people in their ministerial robes, lest by human intercourse they may lose their holiness and be defiled. And do you suppose that you, in the thick of the throng, and an ordinary individual, are pure?
Jer. 13.23. Can the Ethiopian change his skin?
Jerem. xvii. 14. “Heal me, O Lord.” Otherwise Jeremiah could only say, as in the text next quoted,
Jer. 23.23. Am I a God at hand, etc. So conscious is he of Gods power.
Jer. 26.21-24. Jeremiah needed the help of Ahikam. How much more do we need that of God.
Jerem. xxxi. 34. The promise of the new covenant.
Jer. 32.30. The children of Israel have perpetually done evil.
Amos vi. 14. “We have taken us horns by our own strength.” These are the boasts of heretics. But
Jer. 1:7, 20. Mens sin will only be abolished because God is gracious to them. If you will abandon your assertions of natural ability, I will concede that your whole contention stands good, but only by the gift of God.
Lam. iii. 26-42. It is good that a man should quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Dan. iv. 17. The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.
Is. xl. 17. He doeth what He will in heaven and in earth.
The words of 2 Maccabees v. 17, which say that Antiochus Epiphanes had power to overthrow the Temple, “because of the multitude of sins,” are quoted in connection with the confessions of Daniel.
Dan. ix. 5. “We have sinned and dealt perversely,” which is shown by
Dan. 9.20. “While I was yet praying,” etc., to be a personal, not only a national confession.
Dan. 9.24. The prophecy of the seventy weeks shows that the prophet looked to God alone for the establishment of righteousness.
So then, until that end shall come, and this corruptible and mortal shall put on incorruption and immortality, we must be liable to sin; not, as you falsely say, owing to the fault of our nature and creation, but through the frailty and fickleness of human will, which varies from moment to moment; because God alone changeth not. You ask in what respects Abel, Enoch, Joshua the son of Nun, or Elisha, and the rest of the saints have sinned. There is no need to look for a knot in a bulrush; I freely confess I do not know; and I only wish that, when sins are manifest, I might still be silent. 5278 “I know nothing against myself,” says St. Paul, “yet am I not hereby justified.” 5279 “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Before Him no man is justified. And so Paul says confidently, 5280 “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”; and 5281 “God hath shut up all under sin that He may have mercy upon all”; and similarly in other passages which we have repeated again and again.
Zech. ix. 16, Sept. Correctly, they (Gods people) shall be as the stones of a crown lifting themselves up (or glittering) upon His land.470:5266 470:5267 470:5268 470:5269 470:5270 470:5271 470:5272 470:5273 471:5274 471:5275 471:5276 471:5277 471:5278 471:5279 471:5280 471:5281
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