The question, " Whether man needs the influence of the Holy Spirit to render him truly pious and holy, or he has sufficient resources in his own nature for this end," involves so much of the very essence and genius of Christianity, that compared with it a thousand other objects of debate in the church are reduced to mere insignificance. For on the right resolution of this question will depend, what ideas we ought to form of the Christian doctrines of original sin, regeneration, salvation by the grace of Jesus Christ, and sanctification by the Holy Ghost. All parties are convinced that men ought to be good and virtuous ; but does it therefore follow that the Pelagian opinions on these points imply no more than a mere nominal difference of system ? So men are always willing to represent the subject, who have no sense of innate depravity. But those who feel themselves " tied and bound with the chain of their sins," will think it of essential importance to inquire, how they may be freed from this state ; nor can they be contented with the external decencies of morality, while they find themselves void of thelove ofGod and internal holiness. The Scripture decides this controversy clearly and amply; but it is my business to state as faithfully as I can the sentiments of the ancient church upon it. Till Pelagius arose, the necessity of internal efficacious grace was not disputed. He denied the existence of such a principle altogether; though, as we have seen, with much artificial equivocation. I must do justice to both parties ; and Teview briefly, yet clearly, the sentiments of those who distinguished themselves in the controversy. One conclusion to be drawn from the whole is this, that as there is no new thing under the sun, so the Lord raises up from age to age, men to de- Cent. fend his real truths in the world. > ^' >
I shall begin with taking some notice of a treatise found in the works of Ambrose, which I omitted in the review of his writings, because, both the difference of style, and the reference in it to the Pelagian controversy, which was after his time, demonstrate it not to be his. Much has been said * Ambrose^ to determine who was the author of it. Its title "anon of the is, Of The Vocation Of All The Gentiles. Ge",ilcsWhoever wrote it f, he was evidently a person well versed in Scripture, master of a good style, and well skilled in argumentation. As he has exhibited that moderate view of the doctrine of grace, which I think most agreeable to Scripture, and remarkably coincident with the doctrines of the Church of England, it will be proper to mention his leading thoughts, as a suitable introduction to the rest.
He begins, like a man of deep reflection, conscious of the difficulties which his subject involves: " A great and arduous question,"says he," is agitated between the defenders of Free-will and the preachers of the Grace of God. It is inquired, whether God would have all men to be saved ? and as this is undeniable, it is further inquired, why the will of the Almighty is not fulfilled ?—Thus, no limit is found of contrary disputations, while men do not distinguish what is manifest from what is secret." He describes the effects of the Fall as destructive of faith, hope, understanding, and will, for the purposes of holiness and salvation; and he affirms, that no man has any resources for deliverance; because, though by natural understanding he may endeavour to oppose his vices, and may, in an outward way, adorn this temporal life, yet he cannot proceed to true virtue and eternal bliss. " For without the worship of
* See Du Pin's elaborate criticism in his Hist- of Cent. V. f It seems, however, to have been the production of this century.
God, what seems to be virtue, is sin, and cannot please God*."—Let no man trust in human strength, which, even when entire, stood not; but let him seek victory by Him, who alone is invincible, and conquered for all. And if he seeks, let him not doubt but that the desire of seeking has been received from Him whom he seeks.—He goes on to quote the well-known passages from the prophets, concerning the effectual grace of God. " For he writes his laws on their hearts, that they may receive the knowledge of God, not by man's teaching, but by the instruction of the great Teacher, because neither is he that planteth any thing, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase—To this day is fulfilled what the Lord promised to Abraham without condition, and gave without law.—And those who obey not the Gospel are the more inexcusable; but it is certain that they are not according to the foreknowledge of God the sons of Abraham. He promised that these should obey, when he said, I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever. He promised that they should persevere, when he said, I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."
He takes particular notice of the direction, in the first Epistle to Timothy, of praying for all men without exception; and observes, that it was regarded in all Christian assemblies; and that the church prayed not only for the regenerate, but for all, even the worst of characters. " And, what she prayed for them was, doubtless, that they might be converted. And, as conversion was what it was not in their power to do for themselves, the merciful and just Lord would have us to pray for all, that where we see innumerable persons recovered from such an abyss of evil, we may not doubt that God has performed these great things ; and praising him * See Article XIII. of the Church of England.
for what he has done, may hope he will still do the same for those who are yet in darkness. As for those, for whom the prayers of the church are not heard, we ought to refer it to the secrets of Divine Justice. We know but in part. O the depth!—"
Thus does this judicious Divine resolve into human ignorance the great difficulty which has agitated men of thought in all ages. Whoever is disposed to do the same will have no objection to admit the doctrine of election In This Sense ; nor is any other submission of the understanding required, than that reasonable one which bishop Butler so admirably enforces in his Analogy. " The redemption of Christ, he observes, would be looked on in a mean light, if Justification, which is by grace, were made to depend on previous merits.—If then grace find some of the vilest characters, whom it adopts in the very departure out of life, when yet many, who seem less guilty, are void of this gift, who can say this is without the dispensation of God ?" And he goes on to prove salvation to be of mere grace altogether, by a happy arrangement of Scripture passages.
" If it be asked, why the Saviour of all men has not given this sensation to all to know the true God and his Son Jesus Christ,—what God hath secreted from us should not be investigated; what he hath manifested should not be denied. No genius whatever can discover the reasons of the divine dispensation in these things. Doubtless, however, the whole good of man, from the beginning of faith to the consummation of perseverance, is a divine work and gift." Yet he demonstrates, that men's departure from God is the consequence of their own will, and not properly the act of a divine constitution. And he proves from Scripture likewise, that Christ died for all men, and that he is so to be preached to all the world *. He maintains -f, on the * B, 2. c. vi. f C. x.
whole, three propositions: 1st, That it is the property of the Divine Goodness to desire that allmaybe saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 2d, That every one who is saved is directed by the grace of God, and by the same grace kept unto the end. The 3d modestly protests, that not all the plan of the divine will can be comprehended, and that many causes of divine works are above human understanding. " If insidious malignity will stop, if insolent presumption will demur, these things being firmly established, we need not distract ourselves with endless questions."
But enough has been said to give the reader an idea of this author, whose thoughts and views of Scripture are greatly superior to those of the fourth and fifth centuries in general. Whosoever he was, he seems to have taken up his pen toward the close of the Pelagian controversy in a modest and temperate spirit.
So exactly are his sentiments coincident with those of thebest and wisest in all ages of Christianity, that we may see the great benefit resulting to the church, in the event, from the Pelagian controversy; and while we look at the writings of the rest, his ideas will stand as a model, solid and scriptural.
St. Peter tells us of those who Privily bring in
_ .... O
damnable heresies *. In Pelagius this insidiousness we have observed to be very remarkable: but it seems a common character of heresy. A free and open and consistent support of what is believed to be true is as common a mark of genuine orthodoxy. I shall attempt, however, to lay before the reader, so far as the deceitfulness of the man and the scantiness of materials will afford, a view of Pelagianism from Pelagius's own mouth. Some of the documents have been glanced at in the course of the history already. Besides these, he wrote, in imitation of Cyprian, a treatise of Testimonies. Jerom gives an account * 2 Peter, ii. 1.
of this work, and from him it appears, that it contained the same things which were objected to him in the Palestine synod. He wrote also some short notes on St. Paul's Epistles, doubtless with a view to accommodate them to his own system. I have repeatedly to regret, that the works of the fathers have come down to us so highly injured by fraud. Here is a remarkable instance : some short notes on St. Paul's Epistles are subjoined to Jerom's undoubted comments, which were certainly not written by Jerom, an open Anti-Pelagian, but must have been written by Pelagius himself, or some genuine disciple of his. They agree with the account, which Augustine gives of Pelagius's work of this sort; and certainly St. Paul's expression, in the ninth of the Romans, " It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth," is interpreted in the Pseudo-Jerom exactly as Augustine tells us Pelagius interpreted it*. On the passage, "without the law sin was dead," the commentator asserts, they are mad who assert that sin is derived to us from Adam. Nor will he allow, that Adam and Christ introduced, the one sin, the other righteousness into the world, in any other sense than by example. He all along supports that forced interpretation. On the passage, " by the offence of one many be dead," he observes, because not only sinners, but righteous men also die by a common and natural death. What St. Paul speaks of concupiscence he will allow to be understood only of depraved habit; and in the seventh of
* B. de gest. Pelag. c. xvi.—See Jansenius, B. l.—Pelagius said, that it was to be understood as spoken by an adversary, that the Apostle was personating one who was rinding fault, and asking how St. Paul's doctrine of free-will could stand, since it does not depend on him that wills or runs, but on God that showeth mercy. Thus is St. Paul made to defend a doctrine quite opposite to the whole current of his argument; and that which he really maintained is put into the mouth of an adversary. However strained and unnatural the interpretation be, it has been equalled by modern Pelagians, who are commonly called Socinians.
Romans maintains that St. Paul speaks in an assumed character. The works of the law which cannot justify, he maintains to be circumcision and the other rites of the Mosaic law, and not moral works. And the grace derived from Christ, he contends to be his example. Something he allows of grace in the forgiveness of sins, nothing in the effectual work of sanctification. Charity, he observes, is from ourselves : and he maintains also, that real saints are perfect and spotless. Predestination also he excludes, exceptwhat is founded on the foreknowledge of men's faith and obedience.
Thus it appears that heresies are revived, from age to age, with new names, and under new dresses, carrying the appearance of something original, and not allowed to be the same things which had been long ago exploded and refuted. For how often have we heard all this, which appears to be real Pelagianism, maintained in our own times * ?
The last treatise, which we have reviewed, was probably that of Pelagius altogether, or certainly it belonged to some of his disciples, and is itself a sufficient proof, that his tenets were not misrepresented by his antagonists f. Further proofs, however, of what Pelagianism is, drawn from the writings of its own defender, remain to be considered.
There is, in the fourth volume of Jerom's works, which indeed consists of tracts by various authors, an explanation of a creed, inscribed to Damasus, which, by its agreement with divers citations from it by Augustine, in the most exact manner, appears to belong to Pelagius, and it is worthy of his subtilty. He mentions the common articles of faith, and anathematizes various heresies, which all the * Jans. B. l.
f Since I wrote the above, I have seen the Benedictine edition of Augustine's works, and find these Pelagian Notes in the last volume, which the editors, without hesitation, ascribe to Pelagius.
church condemns ; and, among the rest, " the blasphemy of those, who say, that any thing impossible is commanded to man by God. We so confess freewill, that we say we always need the assistance of God, and those are equally in error, who say that man cannot sin, with those who say he cannot avoid sin. For both take away the liberty of the will. But we say, that man always can sin and not sin, that we may confess we are always free in our wills. This is the faith, blessed father, (Damasus, of Rome) which we have learned in the Catholic church, which we have always held and do hold. In which, if there is any position less skilful and less cautious, we desire to be corrected by you." The fault of the creed is certainly not want of caution, but the excess of it. Under the specious term of freedom of will, in which natural* and moral inability are confounded, as if they were the same thing, he undermined the essential doctrine of the influence of the Holy Spirit, though in a very covert manner ; and asserted with an audacity almost unparalleled, that he had learned his creed in the Catholic church, which had at all times hitherto expressly owned the doctrines of grace and the fall of man, while he himself appears not to have believed either the one or the other, and was labouring with all his might to eradicate both from the Christian world.
But let the reader judge for himself what the real sentiments of this ambiguous politician were, from a work undoubtedly his, by his own confession t. I mean the letter to Demetrias, and which is falsely ascribed to Jerom. As it is much too long to quote, I shall select such parts as tend most decisively to show the real religious opinions of this heresiarch, which have been much misrepresented in our times.
" To Demetrias, a Virgin; If, in dependance on the greatest genius and * Jans. B. i. vii. f Jerom's4th, torn. V.
Chap, equal knowledge, I should think myself capable of IV- * writing, yet I could not enter on so arduous a task without great fear. However, I must write to Demetrias, a virgin of Christ, noble and rich, and what is greater than these, one who tramples on nobility and riches by the ardour of faith—who, sprung from the noblest family, and brought up in the greatest wealth and delicacies, hath suddenly broke from the most tenacious blandishments of life, who hath cut down the flower of youth by the sword of faith, that is, by her will. But it is difficult to treat with such a character, in which there is so great a desire of learning, and so great ardour for perfection, that any doctrine, however perfect, can scarcely equal t her merit. We write at the entreaty of her holy mother. As often as I have to speak of the plan of a holy life, I use first to show the powers of human nature, and what it really can do, and thence to encourage the mind of the hearer to press after virtue, lest it should be of no service to call men to that which they have presumed to be impossible. For hope is the spring and source of all activity in the road of virtue. If persons despair, their efforts flag entirely. The resources of nature are therefore to be declared, that men may press toward the mark of perfection, lest, while men are unconscious of their inherent powers, they think they have not what they really have. Let this be the foundation of a spiritual life, that the virgin may know her own strength which she may then exercise well, when she has learned that she has it. First then, measure the goodness of human nature from its Author, who, when he made all things very good, must have made man perfectly so. Let man learn to know the dignity of his nature, when he sees strong animals placed in subjection to him. God would have him to be a volunteer, not a slave, and therefore he left him in the hand of his own counsel. Take care you stumble not on the rock of the ignorant vul- Cent.
gar; and do not think that man was created evil, , v
because he can do evil. In the freedom of the will all the honour and dignity of nature consist; and from the same principle originates the praise of every good man. There would be no virtue in man, if he could not pass to evil. Man could not practise goodness spontaneously, were it not equally in his power to do evil. But most persons impiously, no less than ignorantly, find fault as it were with the divine workmanship. The goodness of nature is so apparent, that it shows itself even among Gentiles. How many virtuous philosophers have we read and heard of! whence their goodness, were not nature good ? How much more virtuous may Christians be, who have Christ's instructions, and the assistance of divine grace*."
He goes on to speak of the virtues of Abel, Enoch, Melchizedec, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job, and describes them as all derived from the natural powers of man, " that you may understand, how great is the goodness of nature." He proceeds to deny the apostacy and depravity of nature in the fullest manner, asserting, " that the only cause which makes it difficult to do well, is the force of bad habit." " Now, if before the law, and long before the coming of our Saviour Christ, men led holy lives, how much more after his coming are they able to do it." He speaks of the grace of Christ, expiation by his blood, and encouragement derived from his example ; but he only just mentions these things, without insisting on them. " Why do we loiter and blame the infirmity of nature? He would
* Augustine teaches us what Pelagius means by grace, as we shall see elsewhere. Certain it is, that he never allows it to mean the operation of sanctifying influences. The whole current of the letter before us, denying the evil nature of man as a lapsed creature, and asserting the sufficiency of man in his own powers, is opposed to such a sentiment.
Chap, not command us what is impossible." Some rules . ]y- . of morality, which are indeed the best part of the letter, lose their efficacy, because the writer laid the foundation of them all in pride and selfsufficiency.
Augustine and his friend Alypius being both together at Hippo, received a letter from Juliana, the mother of Demetrias, who acknowledges the receipt of their letter, warning against heresies. She thanks them for the admonition, but appears to insinuate that it was unnecessary to her family, which had never been infected with any heresy. She seems to mean the errors relating to the Trinity, and to have had no clear idea of the Pelagian heresy, then new in the world. These two charitable pastors having heard of the letter which had been sent to Demetrias, thought it right to detect the poison contained in it more fully, by a reply* : Remark- " Yourwords oblige us not to be silent concerning of Aug"" those who labour to corrupt what is sound—nor tineand^ js ft a small error, for men to think they have in Alypius. themselves whatever is obtained of righteousness and piety ; and that God helps us no further than by the light of revelation; and that nature and doctrine are the only grace of God. To have a good will, and to have love, the queen of virtues, they say our own arbitration suffices. But what says the Apostle? The Love Of God Is Shed Abroad Iv
OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH IS
Given To us, that no man may think he has it from himself. I find in the same letter of Pelagius to Demetrias these wordsf: 'You have therefore something on account of which you may be preferred to others, for nobility and opulence are rather of your family than of you; but spiritual riches
* Id. 12.
fThey are the very same in the foregoing letter; but I omitted to quote the part.
none can confer on you, but yourself. In these Cent. you are justly to be praised, in these deservedly . vto be preferred to others, which cannot be but from yourself and in yourself*.' True it is, they must be in you ; but to say they are from you, is poison. Far be the virgin of Christ from hearing these things, ivho piously knows the poverty of the human heart, and therefore knows not how to be adorned but with the gifts of her spouse. Let her rather hear the Apostle: I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ; but 1 fear, lest as the serpent beguiled Eve, &c. f. In every thing give thanks. Ye do so, because ye have it not of yourselves. For who hath distinguished you from Adam, the mass of death and perdition ? Was it not he who came to seek and save the lost ? When the Apostle says, who made thee to differ? does he answer, my good will, my faith, my righteousness? does he not say, what hast thou that thou hast not received? We hope, considering the humility in which Demetrias was educated, that when she read the words which I quoted from the letter, if she have read them, she sighed, smote her breast, and perhaps wept, and prayed, that as these were not her words, so neither might they be her creed, that she might glory, not in herself, but in the Lord. We well know how sound you are in the doctrine of the Trinity, but there are evils of another kind than those which affect that article of the Christian faith, evils which injure the glory of the whole Trinity. If you narrowly observe, though the writer speaks of grace, he does it with guarded ambiguity; it may mean nature, or doctrine, or
* Pelagius followed the maxims of philosophers, not of the Scriptures. Horace sayi, asquum mi animum ipse parabo. Rut I might quote passages without end from the classic authors to the same purpose, whom numbers called Christian since the time of Pelagius have followed. What is this but to call Paganism Christianity? f 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3.
VOL. II. V L>
forgiveness of sins, or the example of Christ. But find, if you can, one word that owns a positive influence of the Holy Spirit on the mind actually imparting the power of loving God : gladly would we see such a confession in some much-admired writers; but as yet we could never discover it."
From these two Epistles the state of the Pelagian controversy appears. The heretic, though little inclined to regard grace in any sense, did not deny that forgiveness of sins might be granted; but as he denied the corruption of nature, he could never think sin to be so sinful as the word of God describes it . He dwelt on the grace of Scripture revelation, and the example of Christ; but he loved to expatiate most freely on the powers of nature itself. But grace, as it means the gift of the Holy Spirit, renewing and sanctifying the will, he denied altogether. Augustine defended this as an essential of godliness, and therefore it appears always prominent on the face of the Pelagian controversy. It was a point of the utmost consequence; for it draws along with it all the other essential doctrines.
In the works of Ambrose* we have another letter, under the name of Ambrose, addressed to the same virgin Demetrias: it seems written in the latter times of the controversy, and could not therefore be a letter of Ambrose. Probably it was written by the anonymous author of the treatise on the Calling of the Gentiles. Certainly it resembles his manner both in style and sentiment; and a few quotations from it will deserve to be inserted here. He appears to have seen, in perfect harmony with Augustine, that the real stress of the controversy lay, not in a speculative set of doctrines, but in the Solid provision made for humility. The doctrine, of efficacious grace provides for this, Pelagianism excludes it. And on this single point the whole merit of the controversy may safely be made to depend. * Ep. lxxxiv. p. 185.
There must, he observes, be an uniting grace, Cent. which confederates and harmonizes the multifold . ^ unity of the saints and their beautiful variety. This grace is true humility. In various duties there are various degrees of virtue : but in genuine humility every thing is solid and indivisible, and therefore it makes all its subjects to be one, because it admitsof no inequality. The peculiarity then of this grace lies in the confession of the grace of God, which is wholly rejected, unless it be wholly received.—-That man ejects himself out of grace, who distrusts its fulness, as if man needed the help of God in one part, and did not need it in another part of his actions ; as if any moment could be assigned, in which it would not be ruinous to him to be deprived of the Holy Spirit. He, indeed, in the essence of the Deity, is every where, and all-comprehensive; but is conceived in a certain manner to recede from those, whom he ceases to govern. And the cessation of his aid is to be conceived as his absence, which that man madly thinks to be useful to himself, who rejoices in his good actions, and thinks that he rather than God hath wrought them. The grace of God must therefore be owned iathe fullest and most unqualified sense ; the first office of which is, that his help be felt*. We have not received, says the Apostle, the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God ; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Whence, if any man think that he has any good things of which God is not the author, but himself, he has not the Spirit of God, but of the world, and swells with that secular wisdom, of which it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.—Amidst all the evils of men, to glory in our own intellects, instead of divine illumination, in knowing God, and to be elated in ourselves at the expense of the divine glory, is most dangerous. To desire to be preferred before all, is • 1 Cor. ii.
. mischievous; much more so to take a man's hope from the Lord, and fix it on himself. Is not this to fulfil that Scripture, ' Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord*.' It is the very sin of the devil, which ejected him from heaven. And he drew our first parents into the same, causing them to rest in the liberty of their own will.— Men more easily guard against this pride in evil things; in virtues it is most studiously to be repelled, because he to whom praise seems due, is speciously ensnared by the temptation.—-Satan, in this respect, has his eye peculiarly on the active, the sober, the chaste, and the virtuous ; he would ruin them by the pride of self-sufficiency. Innumerable souls, and the churches in general have withstood the infection of the new doctrine ; but some souls have imbibed the poison. Hence the insidious commendation of human nature, and the defence of its original rectitude as ever preserved unblemished. Hence Adam's sin has been asserted to be noxious only by example; hence in fact the abolition of infant-baptism; hence the unsound confession of grace, as bestowed according to merit; hence the perfidy of owning, among us, the wounds of original sin, and of declaring, among their own partisans, that Adam hurt us only by example. But whilethe Lord Jesus says, the whole need not a physician, but the sick, they, though silent, cry aloud fn pride, Weare whole, we need not aphysician.—Consider what is done in regeneration, not looking only at the external sign, but also at the inward grace. Are not vessels of wrath changed into vessels of mercy ? and men born not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God ? Says not Christ, without me ye can do nothing ? Does any man say. that he abides in Christ, who doubts of Christ's working in him?"—After quoting a number of very * Jerem. xvii.
pertinent scriptures, he goes on : " Every godly Cent. motion of the illuminated mind is not to be sepa- t v. rated from the human will, because man doesnothing right, except what he does willingly; but a right intention of mind is the effect of the inspiration of the divine will. Other sins mar only the virtues to which they stand opposed; this of self-righteousness, while it assumes all, mars every thing. The image of God is genuine, when it is adorned with no other ornaments than what are received from the Heavenly Husband.—Humility and charity are kindred virtues, inseparably connected, insomuch, that what St. Paul asserts of the latter*, may safely be predicated of the former."
The whole epistle is excellent, and a treasure of evangelical doctrine. But let us proceed to other monuments of antiquity.
The letter of the African council t, in which AUtj^ Aurelius, of Carthage, presided, and which was ad- African dressed to Innocent, of Rome, contains the follow- Counciling sentiments : " They (the Pelagians) attempt, by their praises of free-will, to leave no room for the grace of God, by which we are Christians, the Lord saying, if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. They assert, that the grace of God consists in this, that he hath so created the nature of man, that by his own will he can fulfil the law of God. The law itself too they reckon to belong to grace, because God hath given it for a help to men. .—But the real grace of God, by which a man is caused to delight in the law after the inward man, they will not acknowledge, though they dare not openly oppose it. Yet, what else do they in effect, while they teach, that human nature is alone sufficient to enable men to obey the law? Not attending to the Scripture, ' it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth , but of God that showeth mercy;' And, ' we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any * 1 Cor. xiii. f Ep. 90.
CHAi. thing as of ourselves.' We beseech you to observe . *V- . the necessary consequence of such opinions, namely, that we have no occasion, on their plan, to pray, that we enter not into temptation : nor had our Lord occasion to say to Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. He might have contented himself with exhorting or commanding him to keep his faith. And, instead of saying to his disciples, watch and pray, it would have sufficed to say, watch. When St. Paul prays, that the Ephesians might be strengthened with might in the inner man by his Spirit, they, in consistency with their plan, might have said, they might be strengthened with might, by the ability of nature received in our creation. It follows too, that infants need not to be baptized at all, as being perfectly innocent, and needing no redemption."
Innocent* agreed with the ideas of the council in his reply. We have next in order the letter of the Milevitanian council to the same Innocent -j-, in which Pelagianism is opposed in a similar manner, and a good use is made of the contrast between the first and second Adam, in the fifth chapter to the Romans. And from these and many other testimonies, it is evident that the great instrument by which Pelagius deceived men was, that he used the word grace in a sense which certainly is not scriptural. With him, whatever is the gift of God, it called grace; so that a man, who, by the use of his natural powers, in conjunction with the aid of the revealed will of God, should expect to please God; might be said to seek to be saved by grace ; though it is certain, that the term in the New Testament is restrained to spiritual blessings. A letter of Augustine, in conjunction with a few other tohmocent. bishops, wrote again to Innocent J. "Without doubt, says he, the grace by which we are saved, id not that with which we are created. For if those
• 91- t 9*. t 95-
bishops* who acquitted Pelagius, had understood CENT, that he called that grace, which we have in common ^../ . with the wicked, and that he denied that which we have as Christians and sons of God, he would have appeared intolerable. I blame not then his judges, who understood the word grace in its common acceptation. Pelagius alone is not now our object; perhaps he is corrected; (I wish it may be the case ;) but many souls are in danger of being beguiled. Let him be sent for to Rome, and asked what he means precisely by the term grace ; or let him explain himself by letter; and if he be found to speak in the same manner as the church of Christ, let us rejoice in him. For whether he calls grace free-will, or remission of sins, or the precept of the law, he explains not that grace of the Holy Spirit, which conquers lusts and temptations, and which He who ascended into heaven has poured onus abundantly. He who prays, ' lead us not into temptation,' does not pray, that he may be a man, that he may have free-will, nor for the remission of sins, the subject of the former petition, nor that he may receive a command. Prayer itself then is a testimony of Grace ; and we shall rejoice that he is right, or corrected. Law and grace are to be distinguished : the law commands, grace bestows. If you will look into the book of Pelagius, given us by Timasius and Jacob t, and take the trouble to examine the places, which we have marked, you will find, that to the objection made to him, that he denied the grace of God, he replies, that this grace was the nature in which God created us. If he disown the book, or those passages, we contend not, let him anathematize them, and confess in plain words the grace which Christian doctrine teaches, which is not nature, but nature saved ; not by external doctrine, but by the supply of the Spirit and secret mercy. For though natural gifts may be * He means the Synod at Lydda. f 96.
Chap, called grace, yet that grace, by which we are pre, *v; , destinated, called, justified, glorified, is quite a different thing. It is of this the Apostle speaks, when he says, if by grace, then it is no more of works. And, to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. For if Christ had notdied for our sins, Pelagius's possibility of nature, which he makes to be grace, would have been just the same."
But I must quote no more of this excellent epistle, in which the very hinge, on which the controversy turned, is explained, and which affords an easy key to solve all the perplexities and ambiguities, with which the opposers of grace, ancient or modern, so much darken the subject.
Innocent agrees with Augustine, but writes not like a master of the subject. Indeed his importance in the controversy was rather founded on his local situation, than on any great character either of learning or piety. Letters to In his letters to Sixtus, the Roman presbyter, SlltU5' Augustine answers Pelagian objections *. " They think that God is by this means made a respecter of persons. They do not consider, that due punishment is inflicted on the condemned, not due grace bestowed on the acquitted. But it is unjust, they say, that one be acquitted, the other punished in the same cause. Truly, it is just that both be punished. Who can deny it?" He goes on to quote Rom. ix.—" But why the Lord frees this man rather than that, let him examine, who can fathom the depth of divine judgment; but let him BeWare Of The Precipice. In the mean time, to him, who lives as yet by faith, and sees but in part, it is enough to know or believe, that God frees none but by gratuitous mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he condemns' none but with the strictest truth by the same our Lord Jesus Christ." • 104, 105. .
Vitalis, of Carthage, though not a Pelagian by Cent. profession, taught that men were indebted to their . ' , own free-will for their conversion to God, and not to the operations of divine grace. Augustine * undertakes to convince him of his error, by pressing upon his conscience the duty confessed by Christians to be binding on all men who professed Christianity, namely, to pray for their fellow-creatures ; for infidels, that they might believe; for catechumens, that God would inspire them with a desire for regeneration ; and for the faithful, that they may persevere. He shows, that the necessary consequence of Vitalis's sentiments was, that the pastors should content themselves with preaching the doctrine to men without praying for them, as he confined his idea of divine grace to the exhibition of the doctrine to mankind. He presses this argument on the conscience of Vitalis, by giving repeated scriptural proof of the duty of praying for all sorts of men, which would be rendered altogether nugatory by the Pelagian sentiments.
The letter to Anastasius breathes an evangelical letter to spirit of charity, distinguishes that Christian grace An"Usm'from the spirit of slavish fear, and in no mean degree leads the humbled soul from the Law to the Gospel, opposing, toward the close, the Pelagian pride, which, teaching man to trust in himself, mars the whole design of Christianity f. The whole is so excellent, that I am tempted to transcribe ; but brevity must be studied, and it will be no contemptible fruit of my labour, if young theological students be incited to read such a Divine as Augustine for themselves.
In a small epistolary treatise concerning the Bap- onBaptisr tism of Infants ^, he argues from the confessed an- of infami. tiquity and propriety of their baptism, admitted by Pelagians themselves, to the proof of the doctrine
* 107. t Ep. 144.
% Ep. 16, of the Appendix to the Epist. Paris Edit.
Chap- of original sin, and, toward the close, he thus rebukes , IJ| , the pretensions to perfection made by those heretics: " As to their affirming, that some men have lived or do live without sin, it were to be wished it were so ; it is to be endeavoured, that it may be so; it is to be prayed, that it may be so; nor yet is it to be trusted that it is so. For to those, who wish and strive andjiniy with just supplication, whatever remains of sin is daily remitted through this their cordial prayer, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive thfcj. that trespass against us. Whoever asserts that this prayer is in this life unnecessary to any the most holy persons, (I except the Most Holy One alone,) he greatly mistakes, and pays a compliment, I am persuaded, very unacceptable to him whom he commends. If he think himself to be such a one, ' he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him,' for no other reason but that he thinks falsely. The Physician, who is not needful for the whole, but for the sick, knows in his method of cure how to perfect us for eternal salvation, who does not even take away death, the wages of sin, from those whose sins he yet forgives, that even in their struggles to overcome the fear of it, they might undertake a contest for the sincerity of faith: and in some things he does not assist even his righteous ones to perfect righteousness, lest they should be lifted up ; that so, while no man living is justified in his sight, we might be indebted constantly to him for forgiveness, and thank him for the same; and thus by holy humility be healed and recovered from that first cause of all vices, The Swelling Of Pride." Three book» I may not dwell much on the larger treatises. i^iiu!"1TM1* The three books to Marcellinus against the Pelagians are the works of a master. In them he solidly confutes the idea of sinless perfection, and in answering their arguments, shows the nature of the controversy at that time. He defends the doctrine of original sin, and the custom of baptizing infants, and evinces the novelty of the Pelagian notion of c:
man's original innocence since the fall *. » * /
In his book of Nature and Grace he argues in much j^g'!,urc.< the same manner, and opposes a Pelagian writer, nc' who extolled nature, and who found fault with those who charged their sin on the weakness of the human powers. In this treatise he observes, that Pelagianism appears to him to make a man forget why he is a Christian f. His two books £, written expressly against Pelagius, contain a shrewd answer to a shrewd adversary. Augustine's inaccurate notion of the term justification, confounding it with sanctification, appears very plainly in this treatise §, of which more hereafter. In the same treatise appears also Pelagius's false notion of grace, as consisting in external revelation only. The heretic's idea of "power" from God, and of " will " from man, mentioned in the beginning of this treatise, is remarkably descriptive of his sentiments. Augustine's tract of Predestination and Grace is agreeable to his other works ||. In the same volume are the epistles of Prosper and Hilary, concerning Semi-Pelagianism in Gaul. Their coincidence in sentiment with Augustine is apparent, and the rise of this heresy and its views are by them illustrated.
His observations on the good of perseverance OnPcrwshows us his notion of this grace, which seems, how- T"»"ceever, different from the account in the sixth and tenth chapters of St. John.
Satan ever inclines men to extremes ; and there were not wanting: those, who, owning: the doctrine of grace so strenously preached by Augustine, began to think it wrong or absurd to rebuke men for sin. " If I act wrong, I am not to be blamed, but God is to be prayed to, to give me what he has not given me. It would be right to blame me, if,' through my own fault, 1 were debarred of the power of doing good."
* Aug. opera, torn, vi, f Tom. vi. $ Id. § p. 166. || Id.
Chap. To answer these objections, and to show the cbn> IT; , sistency of the doctrines of grace with the use of and Grace6 means> exhortations, and endeavours, Augustine wrote his little tract of " Rebuke and Grace *." He cannot be said to have done full justice to the subject : it required an accurate course of argumentation f. But the little which he says is sufficient for serious and humble minds. The proud and the careless alone are overcome by such perversions as these which occasioned the tract. " O man, in precepts and commands, know what thou oughtest to possess; in rebukes, know thou art disobedient through thy own fault; in prayer, know whence thou mayest receive what thou desirest."
" Thou art to be rebuked, because thou art not willing to be rebuked. Thou wouldst not have thy vices to be shown thee; thou wouldst not have them smitten, nor have the wholesome pain, tljat thou mightest seek the physician."
" This is the utility of rebuke, which is used salubriously, sometimes in a greater, sometimes in a less degree, according to the diversity of sins ;, and is then wholesome, when the supreme Physician pleases." He shows that original sin in itself deserves rebuke, that from the pain of rebuke the regenerated will may arise, if the person rebuked be a son of promise, " that while the rod of correction sounds outwardly, God within may work to will and to do by secret inspiration."
He shows the d ifference between the state of A dam, when perfect, and that of the best Christians while on earth. " They, though far less comfortable than he, because of the manifold conflict of the new and the old man, are nevertheless supplied with much stronger grace, even that of God made man, to emancipate them from their evils."
* Tom. vi.
f See the subject fully, and as appears unanswerably considered, in Edwards's Free-will
Jerom's writings against Pelagianism should now CENT4 be considered. But of them it will suffice to say that he is no less than Augustine determined in his opposition to the heresy. His doctrine of grace is sound ; and an humility of spirit highly adapted indeed to the subject, but very contrary to the natural temper of that choleric writer, appears. One short sentence deserves to be immortalized : H^ec HomiNibus Sola Perfectio, Si Imperfectos Se Esse Noverint*. " This Is The Only Perfection Of Men, To Know Themselves Imperfect."