treatise concerning man's perfection in righteousness.
to the treatise on man's perfection in righteousness.
has made no mention of this treatise in his book of Retractations; for
the reason, no doubt, that it belonged to the collection of the Epistles,
for which he designed a separate statement of Retractations. In all the mss.
this work begins with his usual epistolary salutation: "Augustin, to
his holy brethren and fellow-bishops Eutropius and Paulus." And yet,
by general consent, this epistle has been received as a treatise, not only in
those volumes of his works which contain this work, but also in the writings of
those ancient authors who quote it. Amongst these, the most renowned and
acquainted with Augustin's writings, Possidius
(In indiculo, 4) and Fulgentius
(Ad Monimum, i. 3) expressly call this work "A Treatise on the
Perfection of Man's Righteousness." So far nearly all the mss.
agree, but a few (including the Codd. AudŲenensis and Pratellensis)
add these words to the general title: "In opposition to those who
assert that it is possible for a man to become righteous by his own sole
strength." In a ms.
belonging to the Church of Rheims there occurs this inscription: "A
Treatise on what are called the definitions of Cúlestius."
Prosper, in his work against the Collator, ch. 43, advises his reader to read,
besides some other of Augustin's "books," that which he wrote
"to the priests Paulus and Eutropius in opposition to the questions of
Pelagius and Cúlestius."
From this passage of
Prosper, however, in which he mentions, but with no regard to accurate order,
some of the short treatises of Augustin against the Pelagians, nobody could
rightly show that this work On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness was
later in time than his work On Marriage and Concupiscence, or than the
six books against Julianus, which are mentioned previously in the same passage
by Prosper. For, indeed, at the conclusion of the present treatise,
Augustin hesitates as yet to censure those persons who affirmed that men are
living or have lived in this life righteously without any sin at all:
their opinion Augustin, in the passage referred to (just as in his treatises On
Nature and Grace, n. 3, and On the Spirit and the Letter, nn. 49,
70), does not yet think it necessary stoutly to resist. Nothing had as
yet, therefore, been determined on this point; nor were there yet enacted, in
opposition to this opinion, the three well-known canons (6-8) of the Council of
Carthage, which was held in the year 418. Afterwards, however, on the
authority of these canons, he cautions people against the opinion as a
pernicious error, as one may see from many passages in his books Against the
two Epistles of the Pelagians, especially Book iv. ch. x. (27), where he
says: "Let us now consider that third point of theirs, which each
individual member of Christ as well as His entire body regards with horror,
where they contend that there are in this life, or have been, righteous persons
without any sin whatever." Certainly, in the year 414, in an epistle
(157) to Hilary, when answering the questions which were then being agitated in
Sicily, he expresses himself in the same tone, and almost in the same language,
on sinlessness, as that which he employs at the end of this present treatise.
"But those persons," says he (in ch. ii. n. 4 of that epistle),
"however much one may tolerate them when they affirm that there either are,
or have been, men besides the one Saint of saints who have been wholly free from
sin; yet when they allege that man's own free will is sufficient for fulfilling
the Lord's commandments, even when unassisted by God's grace and the gift of the
Holy Spirit for the performance of good works, the idea is altogether worthy of
anathema and of perfect detestation." On comparing these words with
the conclusion of this treatise before us, nothing will appear more probable
than that the work which supplies the refutation of Cúlestius' questions, which
were also brought over from Sicily, was written not long after the
above-mentioned epistle. This work Possidius, in his index, places
immediately after the treatise On Nature and Grace, and before the book On
the Proceedings of Pelagius. Augustin, however, does not mention this
work in his epistle (169) which he addressed to Evodius about the end of the
year 415; but he intimates in it that he had published an answer to the Commonitorium
of Orosius, wherein that author stated that "the bishops Eutropius and
Paulus had already given information to Augustin about certain formidable
heresies." Some suppose that this statement refers to the letter
which they despatched to Augustin along with Cúlestius' propositions.
However that be, it is not unreasonable to believe that they, not long after
Orosius' arrival in Africa (that is, before the midsummer of the year 415), had
sent these propositions to him, and that Augustin
afterwards wrote back to Eutropius and Paulus a refutation of them, his answer
to Orosius having been previously given.
whose name is inscribed in the propositions, "wrote to his parents from his
monastery," as Gennadius informs us in his work on Church writers (De
Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis), "before he fell in with the teaching of
Pelagius, three letters in the shape of short treatises, necessary for all
seekers after God." Afterwards he openly professed the Pelagian
heresy, and published a short treatise, in which, besides other topics, he
acknowledged in the Church of Carthage that even infants had redemption by being
baptized into Christ,--an episcopal decision on the question having been
obtained in that city about the commencement of the year 412, as we learn from
an epistle to Pope Innocent (amongst the Epistles of Augustin [175, n. 1 and
6]), as well as from the epistle [157, n. 22] which we have referred to above;
and from Augustin's work On the Merits of Sins, i. 62, and ii. 59; also
from his treatise On Original Sin, 21; and his work Against Julianus,
iii. 9. Another work by an anonymous writer, but which was commonly
attributed to Cúlestius, divided into chapters, is mentioned in the treatise
which follows the present one, On the Proceedings of Pelagius; see
chapters 29, 30, and 62. There were extant, moreover, in the year 417,
several small books or tracts of Cúlestius, which Augustin, in his work On
the Grace of Christ, 31, 32, and 36, says were produced by Cúlestius
himself in some ecclesiastical proceedings at Rome under Zosimus. Augustin,
at the commencement of the present work On the Perfection of Man's
Righteousness, mentions an undoubted work of Cúlestius as having been seen
by him, from which he discovered that the definitions or propositions therein
examined by Augustin were not unsuited to the tone and temper of Cúlestius.
This was very probably the book which Jerome quotes in his Epistle to Ctesiphon,
written in the year 413 or 414. These are Jerome's words: "One
of his followers [that is, Pelagius'], who was already in fact become the master
and the leader of all that army, and 'a vessel of wrath,'1
in opposition to the apostle, runs on through thickets, not of syllogisms,
as his admirers are apt to boast, but of solecisms, and philosophizes and
disputes to the following effect: 'If I do nothing without God's help, and
if everything which I shall achieve is owing to His operations solely, then it
follows that it is not I who work, but only God's work is to be crowned in me.
In vain, therefore, has He conferred on me the power of will, if I am unable to
exercise it fully without His incessant help. That volition, indeed, is
destroyed which requires the assistance of another. But it is free will
which God has given to me; and free it can only remain, if I do whatever
I wish. The state of the case then is this: I either use once for
all the power which has been bestowed on me, so that free will is preserved; or
else, if I require the assistance of another, liberty of decision in me is
1 Rom. ix. 22.
Treatise concerning man's perfection in righteousness,
aurelius augustin, bishop of hippo;
In One Book,
addressed to eutropius and paulus, a.d.
containing sundry definitions,1
said to have been drawn up by Cúlestius, was put into the hands of Augustin.
In this document, Cúlestius, or some person who shared in his errors, had
recklessly asserted that a man had it in his power to live here without sin.
Augustin first refutes the several propositions in brief answers, showing that
the perfect and plenary state of righteousness, in which a man exists absolutely
without sin, is unattainable without grace by the mere resources of our corrupt
nature, and never occurs in this present state of existence. He next
proceeds to consider the authorities which the paper contained as gathered out
of the Scriptures; some of them teaching man to be "unspotted" and
"perfect;" others mentioning the commandments of God as "not
grievous;" while others again are quoted as opposed to the authoritative
passages which the Catholics were accustomed to advance against the Pelagians.
his holy brethren and fellow-bishops Eutropius and Paulus.2
love, which in both of you is so great and so holy that it is a delight to obey
its commands, has laid me under an obligation to reply to some definitions which
are said to be the work of Cúlestius; for so runs the title of the paper which
you have given me, "The definitions, so it is said, of Cúlestius."
As for this title, I take it that it is not his, but theirs who have brought
this work from Sicily, where Cúlestius is said not to be,--although many there3
make boastful pretension of holding views like his, and, to use the apostle's
word, "being themselves deceived, lead others also astray."4
That these views are, however, his, or those of some associates5
of his, we, too, can well believe. For the above-mentioned brief
definitions, or rather propositions, are by no means at variance with his
opinion, such as I have seen it expressed in another work, of which he is the
undoubted author. There was therefore good reason, I
for the report which those brethren, who brought these tidings to us, heard in
Sicily, that Cúlestius taught or wrote such opinions. I should like, if
it were possible, so to meet the obligation imposed on me by your brotherly
kindness, that I, too, in my own answer should be equally brief. But
unless I set forth also the propositions which I answer, who will be able to
form a judgment of the value of my answer? Still I will try to the best of
my ability, assisted, too, by God's mercy, by your own prayers, so to conduct
the discussion as to keep it from running to an unnecessary length.
1 These breves definitiones, which Augustin also calls ratiocinationes, are short argumentative statements, which may be designated breviates.
2 [Probably Spanish refugees; they had recently presented to Augustin a memorial against certain heresies. Oros. ad Aug. i.--W.]
3 In his epistle (157) to Hilary, written a little while before this work, he mentions Cúlestius and the condemnation of his errors in a Council held at Carthage; he expresses also some apprehension of Cúlestius attempting to spread his opinions in Sicily: "Whether he be himself there," says Augustin, "or only others who are partners in his errors, there are too many of them; and, unless they be checked, they lead astray others to join their sect; and so great is their increase, that I cannot tell whither they will force their way," etc.
4 2 Tim. iii. 13.
5 Sociorum ejus. It has been proposed to read sectatorum ejus,--not unsuitably (although not justified by ms. evidence), because Cúlestius "had," to use Jerome's words, "by this time turned out a master with a following,--the leader of a perfect army."--Jerome's Epistle to Ctesiphon, written in the year 413 or 414.
II.--(1.) The First Breviate of Cúlestius.
of all," says he, "he must be asked who denies man's ability to live
without sin, what every sort of sin is,--is it such as can be avoided? or is it
unavoidable? If it is unavoidable, then it is not sin; if it can be
avoided, then a man can live without the sin which can be avoided. No
reason or justice permits us to designate as sin what cannot in any way be
avoided." Our answer to this is, that sin can be avoided, if our
corrupted nature be healed by God's grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ. For,
in so far as it is not sound, in so far does it either through blindness fail to
see, or through weakness fail to accomplish, that which it ought to do;
"for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the
so that a man does not do the things which he would.
The Second Breviate.
must next ask," he says, "whether sin comes from will, or from
necessity? If from necessity, it is not sin; if from will, it can be
avoided." We answer as before; and in order that we may be healed, we
pray to Him to whom it is said in the psalm: "Lead Thou me out of my
The Third Breviate.
we must ask," he says, "what sin is,--natural? or accidental? If
natural, it is not sin; if accidental, it is separable;3
and if it is separable, it can be avoided; and because it can be avoided, man
can be without that which can be avoided." The answer to this is,
that sin is not natural; but nature (especially in that corrupt state from which
we have become by nature "children of wrath"4)
has too little determination of will to avoid sin, unless assisted and healed by
God's grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Gal. v. 17.
2 Ps. xxv. 17.
3 [An accident "is a modification or quality which does not essentially belong to a thing, nor form one of its constituent or invariable attributes: as motion in relation to matter, or heat to iron."--Fleming: Vocabulary of Philosophy.--W.]
4 Eph. ii. 3.
III.--(5.) The Fifth Breviate.
V. "We must
again," he says, "inquire whether a man ought to be without sin.
Beyond doubt he ought. If he ought, he is able; if he is not able, then he
ought not. Now if a man ought not to be without sin, it follows that he
ought to be with sin,--and then it ceases to be sin at all, if it is determined
that it is owed. Or if it is absurd to say this, we are obliged to confess
that man ought to be without sin; and it is clear that his obligation is not
more than his ability." We frame our answer with the same
illustration that we employed in our previous reply. When we see a lame
man who has the
of being cured of his lameness, we of course have a right to say:
"That man ought not to be lame; and if he ought, he is able."
And yet whenever he wishes he is not immediately able; but only after he has
been cured by the application of the remedy, and the medicine has assisted his
will. The same thing takes place in the inward man in relation to sin
which is its lameness, by the grace of Him who "came not to call the
righteous, but sinners;"1
since "the whole need not the physician, but only they that be sick."2
The Sixth Breviate.
"Again," he says, "we have to inquire whether man is commanded to
be without sin; for either he is not able, and then he is not commanded; or else
because he is commanded, he is able. For why should that be commanded
which cannot at all be done?" The answer is, that man is most wisely
commanded to walk with right steps, on purpose that, when he has discovered his
own inability to do even this, he may seek the remedy which is provided for the
inward man to cure the lameness of sin, even the grace of God, through our Lord
1 Matt. ix. 13.
2 Matt. ix. 12.
The Seventh Breviate.
next question we shall have to propose," he says, "is, whether God
wishes that man be without sin. Beyond doubt God wishes it; and no doubt
he has the ability. For who is so foolhardy as to hesitate to believe that
to be possible, which he has no doubt about God's wishing?" This is
the answer. If God wished not that man should be without sin, He would not
have sent His Son without sin, to heal men of their sins. This takes place
in believers who are being renewed day by day,1
until their righteousness becomes perfect, like fully restored health.
The Eighth Breviate.
"Again, this question must be asked," he says, "how God wishes
man to be,--with sin, or without sin? Beyond doubt, He does not wish him
to be with sin. We must reflect how great would be the impious blasphemy
for it to be said that man has it in his power to be with sin, which God does
not wish; and for it to be denied that he has it in his power to be without sin,
which God wishes: just as if God had created any man for such a result as
this,--that he should be able to be what He would not have him, and unable to be
what He would have him; and that he should lead an existence contrary to His
will, rather than one which should be in accordance therewith." This
has been in fact already answered; but I see that it is necessary for me to make
here an additional remark, that we are saved by hope. "But hope that
is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But
if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."2
Full righteousness, therefore, will only then be reached, when fulness of health
is attained; and this fulness of health shall be when there is fulness of love,
for "love is the fulfilling of the law;"3
and then shall come fulness of love, when "we shall see Him even as He
Nor will any addition to love be possible more, when faith shall have reached
the fruition of sight.
1 2 Cor. iv. 16.
2 Rom. viii. 24, 25.
3 Rom. xiii. 10.
4 1 John iii. 2.
IV.--(9.) The Ninth Breviate.
next question we shall require to be solved," says he, "is this:
By what means is it brought about that man is with sin?--by the necessity of
nature, or by the freedom of choice? If it is by the necessity of nature,
he is blameless; if by the freedom of choice, then the question arises, from
whom he has received this freedom of choice. No doubt, from God.
Well, but that which God bestows is certainly good. This cannot be
gainsaid. On what principle, then, is a thing proved to be good, if it is
more prone to evil than to good? For it is more prone to evil than to good
if by means of it man can be with sin and cannot be without sin." The
answer is this: It came by the freedom of choice that man was with sin;
but a penal corruption closely followed thereon, and out of the liberty produced
necessity. Hence the cry of faith to God, "Lead Thou me out of my
With these necessities upon us, we are either unable to understand what we want,
or else (while having the wish) we are not strong enough to accomplish what we
have come to understand. Now it is just liberty itself that is promised to
believers by the Liberator. "If the Son," says He, "shall
make you free, ye shall be free indeed."2
For, vanquished by the sin into which it fell by its volition, nature has lost
liberty. Hence another scripture says, "For of whom a man is
overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage."3
Since therefore "the whole need not the physician, but only they that be
so likewise it is not the free that need the Deliverer, but only the enslaved.
Hence the cry of joy to Him for deliverance, "Thou hast saved my soul from
the straits of necessity."5
For true liberty is also real health; and this would never have been lost, if
the will had remained good. But because the will has sinned, the hard
having sin has pursued the sinner; until his infirmity be wholly healed, and
such freedom be regained, that there must needs be, on the one hand, a permanent
will to live happily, and, on the other hand, a voluntary and happy necessity of
living virtuously, and never sinning.
1 Ps. xxv. 17.
2 John viii. 38.
3 2 Pet. ii. 19.
4 Matt. ix. 12.
5 Ps. xxxi. 7.
The Tenth Breviate.
God made man good," he says, "and, besides making him good, further
commanded him to do good, how impious it is for us to hold that man is evil,
when he was neither made so, nor so commanded; and to deny him the ability of
being good, although he was both made so, and commanded to act so!"
Our answer here is: Since then it was not man himself, but God, who made
man good; so also is it God, and not man himself, who remakes him to be good,
while liberating him from the evil which he himself did upon his wishing,
believing, and invoking such a deliverance. But all this is effected by
the renewal day by day of the inward man,1
by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, with a view to the outward
man's resurrection at the last day to an eternity not of punishment, but of
V.--(11.) The Eleventh Breviate.
next question which must be put," he says, "is, in how many ways all
sin is manifested? In two, if I mistake not: if either those things
are done which are forbidden, or those things are not done which are commanded.
Now, it is just as certain that all things which are forbidden are able to be
avoided, as it is that all things which are commanded are able to be effected.
For it is vain either to forbid or to enjoin that which cannot either be guarded
against or accomplished. And how shall we deny the possibility of man's
being without sin, when we are compelled to admit that he can as well avoid all
those things which are forbidden, as do all those which are commanded?"
My answer is, that in the Holy Scriptures there are many divine precepts, to
mention the whole of which would be too laborious; but the Lord, who on earth
consummated and abridged2
His word, expressly declared that the law and the prophets hung on two
that we might understand that whatever else has been enjoined on us by God ends
in these two commandments, and must be referred to them: "Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."5
"On these two commandments," says He, "hang all the law and the
Whatever, therefore, we are by God's law forbidden, and whatever we are bidden
to do, we are forbidden and bidden with the direct object of fulfilling these
two commandments. And perhaps the general prohibition is, "Thou shalt
and the general precept, "Thou shalt love."8
Accordingly the Apostle Paul, in a certain place, briefly embraced the two,
expressing the prohibition in these words, "Be not conformed to this
and the command in these, "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your
The former falls under the negative precept, not to covet; the latter under the
positive one, to love. The one has reference to continence, the other to
righteousness. The one enjoins avoidance of evil; the other, pursuit of
good. By eschewing covetousness we put off the old man, and by showing
love we put on the new. But no man can be continent unless God endow him
with the gift;11
nor is God's love shed abroad in our hearts by our own selves, but by the Holy
Ghost that is given to us.12
This, however, takes place day after day in those who advance by willing,
believing, and praying, and who, "forgetting those things which are behind,
reach forth unto those things which are before."13
For the reason why the law inculcates all these precepts is, that when a man has
failed in fulfilling them, he may not be swollen with pride, and so exalt
himself, but may in very weariness betake himself to grace. Thus the law
fulfils its office as "schoolmaster," so terrifying the man as
"to lead him to Christ," to give Him his love.14
1 2 Cor. iv. 16.
2 An application of Rom. ix. 28.
3 Matt. xxii. 40.
4 Matt. xxii. 37.
5 Matt. xxii. 39.
6 Matt. xxii. 40.
7 Ex. xx. 27.
8 Deut. vi. 5.
9 Rom. xii. 2.
10 Rom. xii. 2.
11 Wisd. viii. 21.
12 Rom. v. 5.
13 Phil. iii. 13.
14 Gal. iii. 24.
VI.--(12.) The Twelfth Breviate.
the question arises," he says, "how it is that man is unable to be
without sin,--by his will, or by nature? If by nature, it is not sin; if
by his will, then will can very easily be changed by will." We answer
by reminding him how he ought to reflect on the extreme presumption of
saying--not simply that it is possible (for this no doubt is undeniable, when
God's grace comes in aid), but--that it is "very easy" for will
to be changed by will; whereas the apostle says, "The flesh lusteth against
the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the
one to the other; so that ye do not the things that ye would."1
He does not say, "These are contrary the one to the other, so that ye will
not do the things that ye can," but, "so that ye do not the things
that ye would."2
How happens it, then, that the lust of the flesh which of course is culpable and
corrupt, and is nothing
than the desire for sin, as to which the same apostle instructs us not to let it
"reign in our mortal body;"3
by which expression he shows us plainly enough that that must have an existence
in our mortal body which must not be permitted to hold a dominion in it;--how
happens it, I say, that such lust of the flesh has not been changed by that
will, which the apostle clearly implied the existence of in his words, "So
that ye do not the things that ye would," if so be that the will can
so easily be changed by will? Not that we, indeed, by this argument throw
the blame upon the nature either of the soul or of the body, which God created,
and which is wholly good; but we say that it, having been corrupted by its own
will, cannot be made whole without the grace of God.
1 Gal. v. 17.
2 ™Ina mj n qeljte, tata poite.
3 Rom. vi. 12.
The Thirteenth Breviate.
next question we have to ask," says he, "is this: If man cannot
be without sin, whose fault is it,--man's own, or some one's else? If
man's own, in what way is it his fault if he is not that which he is unable to
be?" We reply, that it is man's fault that he is not without sin on
this account, because it has by man's sole will come to pass that he has come
into such a necessity as cannot be overcome by man's sole will.
The Fourteenth Breviate.
the question must be asked," he says, "If man's nature is good, as
nobody but Marcion or Manichśus will venture to deny, in what way is it good if
it is impossible for it to be free from evil? For that all sin is evil who
can gainsay?" We answer, that man's nature is both good, and is also
able to be free from evil. Therefore do we earnestly pray, "Deliver
us from evil."1
This deliverance, indeed, is not fully wrought, so long as the soul is oppressed
by the body, which is hastening to corruption.2
This process, however, is being effected by grace through faith, so that it may
be said by and by, "O death, where is thy struggle? Where is thy
sting, O death? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the
because the law by prohibiting sin only increases the desire for it, unless the
Holy Ghost spreads abroad that love, which shall then be full and perfect, when
we shall see face to face.
1 Matt. vi. 13.
2 Wisd. ix. 15.
3 1 Cor. xv. 35, 36.
The Fifteenth Breviate.
this, moreover, has to be said," he says: "God is certainly
righteous; this cannot be denied. But God imputes every sin to man.
This too, I suppose, must be allowed, that whatever shall not be imputed as sin
is not sin. Now if there is any sin which is unavoidable, how is God said
to be righteous, when He is supposed to impute to any man that which cannot be
avoided?" We reply, that long ago was it declared in opposition to
the proud, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin."1
Now He does not impute it to those who say to Him in faith, "Forgive us our
debts, as we forgive our
And justly does He withhold this imputation, because that is just which He says:
"With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."3
That, however, is sin in which there is either not the love which ought to be,
or where the love is less than it ought to be,4--whether
it can be avoided by the human will or not; because when it can be avoided, the
man's present will does it, but if it cannot be avoided his past will did it;
and yet it can be avoided,--not, however, when the proud will is lauded, but
when the humble one is assisted.
VII.--(16.) The Sixteenth Breviate.
XVI. After all
these disputations, their author introduces himself in person as arguing with
another, and represents himself as under examination, and as being addressed by
his examiner: "Show me the man who is without sin." He
answers: "I show you one who is able to be without sin."
His examiner then says to him: "And who is he?" He
answers: "You are the man." "But if," he adds,
"you were to say, 'I, at any rate, cannot be without sin,' then you must
answer me, 'Whose fault is that?' If you then were to say, 'My own fault,'
you must be further asked, 'And how is it your fault, if you cannot be without
sin?'" He again represents himself as under examination, and thus
accosted: "Are you yourself without sin, who say that a man can be
without sin?" And he answers: "Whose fault is it that I am
not without sin? But if," continues he, "he had said in reply,
'The fault is your own;' then the answer would be, 'How my fault, when I
am unable to be without sin?'" Now our answer to all this running
argument is, that no controversy ought to have been raised between them about
such words as these; because he nowhere ventures to affirm that a man (either
any one else, or himself) is without sin, but he merely said in reply that he can
be,--a position which we do not ourselves deny. Only the question
arises, when can he, and through whom can he? If at the present time, then
by no faithful soul which is enclosed within the body of this death must this
prayer be offered, or such words as these be spoken, "Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors,"5
since in holy baptism all past debts have been already forgiven. But
whoever tries to persuade us that such a prayer is not proper for faithful
members of Christ, does in fact acknowledge nothing else than that he is not
himself a Christian. If, again, it is through himself that a man is able
to live without sin, then did Christ die in vain. But "Christ is not
dead in vain." No man, therefore, can be without sin, even if he wish
it, unless he be assisted by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And that this perfection may be attained, there is even now a training carried
on in growing [Christians,] and there will be by all means a completion made,
after the conflict with death is spent, and love, which is now cherished by the
operation of faith and hope, shall be perfected in the fruition of sight and
1 Ps. xxxii. 2.
2 Matt. vi. 12.
3 Matt. vii. 2.
4 See above, in his work De Spiritu et Litter‚, 64; also De Natur‚ et Grati‚, 45.
5 Matt. vi. 12.
VIII.--(17.) It is One Thing to Depart from the Body, Another Thing to Be
Liberated from the Body of This Death.
He next proposes to
establish his point by the testimony of Holy Scripture. Let us carefully
observe what kind of defence he makes. "There are passages,"
says he, "which prove that man is commanded to be without sin."
Now our answer to this is: Whether such commands are given is not at all
the point in question, for the fact is clear enough; but whether the thing which
is evidently commanded be itself at all possible of accomplishment in the body
of this death, wherein "the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the
spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things that we would."1
Now from this body of death not every one is liberated who ends the present
life, but only he who in this life has received grace, and given proof of not
receiving it in vain by spending his days in good works. For it is plainly
one thing to depart from the body, which all men are obliged to do in the last
day of their present life, and another to be delivered from the body of this
death,--which God's grace alone, through our Lord Jesus Christ, imparts to His
faithful saints. It is after this life, indeed, that the reward of
perfection is bestowed, but only upon those by whom in their present life has
been acquired the merit of such a recompense. For no one, after going
hence, shall arrive at fulness of righteousness, unless, whilst here, he shall
have run his course by hungering and thirsting after it. "Blessed are
they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be
The Commandment of Love Shall Be Perfectly Fulfilled in the Life to Come.
And in this prayer,
unless we choose to be contentious, there is placed before our view a mirror of
sufficient brightness in which to behold the life of the righteous, who live by
faith, and finish their course, although they are not without sin.
Therefore they say, "Forgive us," because they have not yet arrived at
the end of their course. Hence the apostle says, "Not as if I had
already attained, either were already perfect. . .Brethren, I count not myself
to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press
toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded."3
In other words, let us, as many as are running perfectly, be thus resolved,
that, being not yet perfected, we pursue our course to perfection along the way
by which we have thus far run perfectly, in order that "when that which is
perfect is come, then that which is in part may be done away;"4
that is, may cease to be but in part any longer, but become whole and complete.
For to faith and hope shall succeed at once the very substance itself, no longer
to be believed in and hoped for, but to be seen and grasped. Love,
however, which is the greatest among the three, is not to be superseded, but
increased and fulfilled,--contemplating in full vision what it used to see by
faith, and acquiring in actual fruition what it once only embraced in hope.
Then in all this plenitude of charity will be fulfilled the commandment,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind."5
For while there remains any remnant of the lust of the flesh, to be kept in
check by the rein of continence, God is by no means loved with all one's soul.
For the flesh does not lust without the soul; although it is the flesh which is
said to lust, because the soul lusts carnally. In that perfect state the
just man shall live absolutely without any sin, since there will be in his
members no law warring against the law of his mind,6
but wholly will he love God, with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all
which is the first and chief commandment. For why should not such
perfection be enjoined on man, although in this life nobody may attain to it?
For we do not rightly run if we do not know whither we are to run. But how
could it be known, unless it were pointed out in precepts?8
Let us therefore "so run that we may obtain."9
For all who run rightly will obtain,--not as in the contest of the theatre,
where all indeed run, but only one wins the prize.10
Let us run, believing, hoping, longing; let us run, subjugating the body,
cheerfully and heartily doing alms,--in giving kindnesses and forgiving
injuries, praying that our strength may be helped as we run; and let us so
listen to the commandments which urge us to perfection, as not to neglect
running towards the fulness of love.
1 Gal. v. 17.
2 Matt. v. 6.
3 Phil. iii. 12-15.
4 1 Cor. xiii. 10.
5 Mente. The Septuagint, however, like the Hebrew, has dunamew. A.V. "thy might." Comp Deut. vi. 5 with Matt. xxii. 37.
6 Rom. vii. 23.
7 Matt. xxii. 37.
8 See above in Augustin's De Spiritu et Littera, 64.
9 1 Cor. ix. 23.
10 1 Cor. ix. 24.
IX.--(20.) Who May Be Said to Walk Without Spot; Damnable and Venial Sins.
Having premised these
remarks, let us carefully attend to the passages which he whom we are answering
has produced, as if we ourselves had quoted them. "In Deuteronomy,
'Thou shalt be perfect before the Lord thy God.'1
Again, in the same book, 'There shall be not an imperfect man2
among the sons of Israel.'3
In like manner the Saviour says in the Gospel, Be ye perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect.'4
So the apostle, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians, says: 'Finally,
brethren, farewell. Be perfect.'5
Again, to the Colossians he writes: 'Warning every man, and teaching every
man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.'6
And so to the Philippians: 'Do all things without murmurings and
disputings, that ye may be blameless, and harmless, as the immaculate sons of
In like manner to the Ephesians he writes: 'Blessed be the God and father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly places in Christ; according as He hath chosen us in Him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.'8
Then again to the Colossians he says in another passage: 'And you, that
were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath
He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death; present yourselves holy
and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.'9
In the same strain, he says to the Ephesians: 'That He might present to
Himself a glorious Church,
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and
So in his first Epistle to the Corinthians he says 'Be ye sober, and righteous,
and sin not.'11
So again in the Epistle of St. Peter it is written: 'Wherefore gird up the
loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is offered
to you: . . . as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the
former lusts in your ignorance: but as He who hath called you is holy, so
be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written,12
Be ye holy; for I am holy.'13
Whence blessed David likewise says: 'O Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy
tabernacle, or who shall rest on Thy holy mountain? He that walketh
without blame, and worketh righteousness.'14
And in another passage: 'I shall be blameless with Him.'15
And yet again: 'Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law
of the Lord.'16
To the same effect it is written in Solomon: 'The Lord loveth holy hearts,
and all they that are blameless are acceptable unto Him.'"17
Now some of these passages exhort men who are running their course that they run
perfectly; others refer to the end thereof, that men may reach forward to it as
they run. He, however, is not unreasonably said to walk blamelessly, not
who has already reached the end of his journey, but who is pressing on towards
the end in a blameless manner, free from damnable sins, and at the same time not
neglecting to cleanse by almsgiving such sins as are venial. For the way
in which we walk, that is, the road by which we reach perfection, is cleansed by
clean prayer. That, however, is a clean prayer in which we say in truth,
"Forgive us, as we ourselves forgive."18
So that, as there is nothing censured when blame is not imputed, we may hold on
our course to perfection without censure, in a word, blamelessly; and in this
perfect state, when we arrive at it at last, we shall find that there is
absolutely nothing which requires cleansing by forgiveness.
1 Deut. xviii. 13.
2 Augustin's word is inconsummatus. The Septuagint term teliskmeno (which properly signifies complete, perfect) comes to mean one initiated into the mysteries of idolatrous worship.
3 Deut. xxiii. 17.
4 Matt. v. 48.
5 2 Cor. xiii. 11.
6 Col. i. 28.
7 Phil. ii. 14, 15.
8 Eph. i. 3, 4.
9 Col. i. 21, 22.
10 Eph. v. 26, 27.
11 1 Cor. xv. 34.
12 Lev. xix. 2.
13 1 Pet. i. 13-16.
14 Ps. xv. 1, 2.
15 Ps. xviii. 23.
16 Ps. cxix. 1.
17 Prov. xi. 20.
18 Matt. vi. 12.
X.--(21.) To Whom God's Commandments are Grievous; And to Whom, Not.
Why Scripture Says that God's Commandments are Not Grievous; A Commandment is a
Proof of the Freedom Of Man's Will; Prayer is a Proof of Grace.
He next quotes
passages to show that God's commandments are not grievous. But who can be
ignorant of the fact that, since the generic commandment is love (for "the
end of the commandment is love,"1
and "love is the fulfilling of the law"2),
whatever is accomplished by the operation of love, and not of fear, is not
grievous? They, however, are oppressed by the commandments of God, who try
to fulfil them by fearing. "But perfect love casteth out fear;"3
and, in respect of the burden of the commandment, it not only takes off the
pressure of its heavy weight, but it actually lifts it up as if on wings.
In order, however, that this love may be possessed, even as far as it can
possibly be possessed in the body of this death, the determination of will
avails but little, unless it be helped by God's grace through our Lord Jesus
Christ. For as it must again and again be stated, it is "shed abroad
in our hearts," not by our own selves, but "by the Holy Ghost which is
given unto us."4
And for no other reason does Holy Scripture insist on the truth that God's
commandments are not grievous, than this, that the soul which finds them
grievous may understand that it has not yet received those resources which make
the Lord's commandments to be such as they are commended to us as being, even
gentle and pleasant; and that it may pray with groaning of the will to obtain
the gift of facility. For the man who says, "Let my heart be
and, "Order Thou my steps according to Thy word: and let not any
iniquity have dominion over me;"6
and, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven;"7
and, "Lead us not into temptation;"8
and other prayers of a like purport, which it would be too long to
particularize, does in effect offer up a prayer for ability to keep God's
commandments. Neither, indeed, on the one hand, would any injunctions be
laid upon us to keep them, if our own will had nothing to do in the matter; nor,
on the other hand, would there be any room for prayer, if our will were alone
sufficient. God's commandments, therefore, are commended to us as being
not grievous, in order that he to whom they are grievous may understand that he
has not as yet received the gift which removes their grievousness; and that he
may not think that he is really performing them, when he so keeps them that they
are grievous to him. For it is a cheerful giver whom God loves.9
Nevertheless, when a man finds God's commandments grievous, let him not be
broken down by despair; let him rather oblige himself to seek, to ask, and to
1 1 Tim. i. 8.
2 Rom. xiii. 10.
3 1 John iv. 18.
4 Rom. v. 5.
5 Ps. cxix. 80.
6 Ps. cxix. 133.
7 Matt. vi. 10.
8 Matt. vi. 13.
9 2 Cor. ix. 7.
Passages to Show that God's Commandments are Not Grievous.
He afterwards adduces
those passages which represent God as recommending His own commandments as not
grievous: let us now attend to their testimony. "Because,"
says he, "God's commandments are not only not impossible, but they are not
even grievous. In Deuteronomy:
Lord thy God will again turn and rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over
thy fathers, if ye shall hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His
commandments, and His ordinances, and His judgments, written in the book of this
law; if thou turn to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy
soul. For this command, which I give thee this day, is not grievous,
neither is it far from thee: it is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say,
Who will ascend into heaven, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it?
neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who will cross over the
sea, and obtain it for us, that we may hear and do it? The word is nigh
thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, and in thine hands to do it.'1
In the Gospel likewise the Lord says: 'Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and
learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto
your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.'2
So also in the Epistle of Saint John it is written: 'This is the love of
God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not
On hearing these testimonies out of the law, and the gospel, and the epistles,
let us be built up unto that grace which those persons do not understand, who,
"being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of
For, if they understand not the passage of Deuteronomy in the sense that the
Apostle Paul quoted it,--that "with the heart men believe unto
righteousness, and with their mouth make confession unto salvation;"5
since "they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are
certainly ought (by that very passage of the Apostle John which he quoted last
to this effect: "This is the love of God, that we keep His
commandments; and His commandments are not grievous"7)
to be admonished that God's commandment is not grievous to the love of God,
which is shed abroad in our hearts only by the Holy Ghost, not by the
determination of man's will by attributing to which more than they ought, they
are ignorant of God's righteousness. This love, however, shall then be
made perfect, when all fear of punishment shall be cut off.
1 Deut. xxx. 9-14.
2 Matt. xi. 28-30.
3 1 John v. 3.
4 Rom. x. 3.
5 Rom. x. 10.
6 Matt. ix. 12.
7 1 John v. 3.
XI.--(23.) Passages of Scripture Which, When Objected Against Him by the
Catholics, Cúlestius Endeavours to Elude by Other Passages: the First
After this he adduced
the passages which are usually quoted against them. He does not attempt to
explain these passages, but, by quoting what seem to be contrary ones, he has
entangled the questions more tightly. "For," says he,
"there are passages of Scripture which are in opposition to those who
ignorantly suppose that they are able to destroy the liberty of the will, or the
possibility of not sinning, by the authority of Scripture. For," he
adds, "they are in the habit of quoting against us what holy Job said:
'Who is pure from uncleanness? Not one; even if he be an infant of only
one day upon the earth.'"1
Then he proceeds to give a sort of answer to this passage by help of other
quotations; as when Job himself said: "For although I am a righteous
and blameless man, I have become a subject for mockery,"2--not
understanding that a man may be called righteous, who has gone so far towards
perfection in righteousness as to be very near it; and this we do not deny to
have been in the power of many even in this life, when they walk in it by faith.
To Be Without Sin, and to Be Without Blame--How Differing.
The same thing is
affirmed in another passage, which he has quoted immediately afterwards, as
spoken by the same Job: "Behold, I am very near my judgment, and I
know that I shall be found righteous."3
Now this is the judgment of which it is said in another scripture:
"And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment
as the noonday." But he does not say, I am already there; but,
"I am very near." If, indeed, the judgment of his which he meant
was not that which he would himself exercise, but that whereby he was to be
judged at the last day, then in such judgment all will be found righteous who
with sincerity pray: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
For it is through this forgiveness that they will be found righteous; on this
account that whatever sins they have here incurred, they have blotted out by
their deeds of charity. Whence the Lord says: "Give alms; and,
behold, all things are clean unto you."5
For in the end, it shall be said to the righteous, when about to enter into the
promised kingdom: "I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat,"6
and so forth. However, it is one thing to be without sin, which in this
life can only be predicated of the Only-begotten, and another thing to be
without accusation, which might be said of many just persons even in the present
life; for there is a certain measure of a good life, according to which even in
this human intercourse there could no just accusation be possibly laid against
can justly accuse the man who wishes evil to no one, and who faithfully does
good to all he can, and never cherishes a wish to avenge himself on any man who
does him wrong, so that he can truly say, "As we forgive our debtors?"
And yet by the very fact that he truly says, "Forgive, as we also
forgive," he plainly admits that he is not without sin.
1 Job xiv. 4, 5.
2 Job xii. 4.
3 Job xiii. 18.
4 Matt. vi. 12.
5 Luke xi. 41.
6 Matt. xxv. 35.
Hence the force of the statement: "There was no injustice in
my hands, but my prayer was pure."1
For the purity of his prayer arose from this circumstance, that it was not
improper for him to ask forgiveness in prayer, when he really bestowed
Why Job Was So Great a Sufferer.
And when he says
concerning the Lord, "For many bruises hath He inflicted upon me without a
observe that his words are not, He hath inflicted none with a cause; but,
"many without a cause." For it was not because of his manifold
sins that these many bruises were inflicted on him, but in order to make trial
of his patience. For on account of his sins, indeed, without which, as he
acknowledges in another passage, he was certainly not, he yet judges that he
ought to have suffered less.3
Who May Be Said to Keep the Ways of the Lord; What It is to Decline and Depart
from the Ways of the Lord.
Then again, as for
what he says, "For I have kept His ways, and have not turned aside from His
commandments, nor will I depart from them;"4
he has kept God's ways who does not so turn aside as to forsake them, but makes
progress by running his course therein; although, weak as he is, he sometimes
stumbles or falls, onward, however, he still goes, sinning less and less until
he reaches the perfect state in which he will sin no more. For in no other
way could he make progress, except by keeping His ways. The man, indeed,
who declines from these and becomes an apostate at last, is certainly not he
who, although he has sin, yet never ceases to persevere in fighting against it
until he arrives at the home where there shall remain no more conflict with
death. Well now, it is in our present struggle therewith that we are
clothed with the righteousness in which we here live by faith,--clothed with it
as it were with a breastplate.5
Judgment also we take on ourselves; and even when it is against us, we turn it
round to our own behalf; for we become our own accusers and condemn our sins:
whence that scripture which says, "The righteous man accuses himself at the
beginning of his speech."6
Hence also he says: "I put on righteousness, and clothed myself with
judgment like a mantle."7
Our vesture at present no doubt is wont to be armour for war rather than
garments of peace, while concupiscence has still to be subdued; it will be
different by and by, when our last enemy death shall be destroyed,8
and our righteousness shall be full and complete, without an enemy to molest us
1 Job xvi. 18.
2 Job ix. 17.
3 Job vi. 2, 3.
4 Job xxiii. 11, 12.
5 Eph. vi. 14.
6 Prov. xviii. 17.
7 Job. xxix. 14.
8 1 Cor. xv. 26.
When Our Heart May Be Said Not to Reproach Us; When Good is to Be Perfected.
concerning these words of Job, "My heart shall not reproach me in all my
we remark, that it is in this present life of ours, in which we live by faith,
that our heart does not reproach us, if the same faith whereby we believe unto
righteousness does not neglect to rebuke our sin. On this principle the
apostle says: "The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I
would not, that I do."2
Now it is a good thing to avoid concupiscence, and this good the just man would,
who lives by faith;3
and still he does what he hates, because he has concupiscence, although "he
goes not after his lusts;"4
if he has done this, he has himself at that time really done it, so as to yield
to, and acquiesce in, and obey the desire of sin. His heart then
reproaches him, because it reproaches himself, and not his sin which dwelleth in
him. But whensoever he suffers not sin to reign in his mortal body to obey
it in the lusts thereof,5
and yields not his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin,6
sin no doubt is present in his members, but it does not reign, because its
desires are not obeyed. Therefore, while he does that which he would
not,--in other words, while he wishes not to lust, but still lusts,--he consents
to the law that it is good:7
for what the law would, that he also wishes; because it is his desire not to
indulge concupiscence, and the law expressly says, "Thou shalt not
Now in that he wishes what the law also would have done, he no doubt consents to
the law: but still he lusts, because he is not without sin; it is,
however, no longer himself that does the thing, but the sin which dwells within
him. Hence it is that "his heart does not reproach him in all his
life;" that is, in his faith, because the just man lives by faith, so that
his faith is his very life. He knows, to be sure, that in himself dwells
nothing good,--even in his flesh, which is the dwelling-place of sin. By
not consenting, however, to it, he lives by faith, wherewith he also calls upon
God to help him in his contest against sin. Moreover, there is present to
him to will that no sin at all should be in him, but then how to perfect this
present. It is not the mere "doing" of a good thing that is not
present to him, but the "perfecting" of it. For in this, that he
yields no consent, he does good; he does good again, in this, that he hates his
own lust; he does good also, in this, that he does not cease to give alms; and
in this, that he forgives the man who sins against him, he does good; and in
this, that he asks forgiveness for his own trespasses,--sincerely avowing in his
petition that he also forgives those who trespass against himself, and praying
that he may not be led into temptation, but be delivered from evil,--he does
good. But how to perfect the good is not present to him; it will be,
however, in that final state, when the concupiscence which dwells in his members
shall exist no more. His heart, therefore, does not reproach him, when it
reproaches the sin which dwells in his members; nor can it reproach unbelief in
him. Thus "in all his life,"--that is, in his faith,--he is
neither reproached by his own heart, nor convinced of not being without sin.
And Job himself acknowledges this concerning himself, when he says, "Not
one of my sins hath escaped Thee; Thou hast sealed up my transgressions in a
bag, and marked if I have done iniquity unawares."9
With regard, then, to the passages which he has adduced from the book of holy
Job, we have shown to the best of our ability in what sense they ought to be
taken. He, however, has failed to explain the meaning of the words which
he has himself quoted from the same Job: "Who then is pure from
uncleanness? Not one; even if he be an infant of only one day upon the
1 Job xxvii. 6.
2 Rom. vii. 15.
3 Hab. ii. 4.
4 Ecclus. xviii. 30.
5 Rom. vi. 12.
6 Rom. vi. 13.
7 Rom. vii. 16.
8 Ex. xx. 17.
9 Job xiv. 16, 17.
10 Job xiv. 4, 5.
XII.--(29.) The Second Passage. Who May Be Said to Abstain from
Every Evil Thing.
"They are in the
habit of next quoting," says he, "the passage: 'Every man is a
But here again he offers no solution of words which are quoted against himself
even by himself; all he does is to mention other apparently opposite passages
before persons who are unacquainted with the sacred Scriptures, and thus to cast
the word of God into conflict. This is what he says: "We tell
them in answer, how in the book of Numbers it is said, 'Man is true.'2
While of holy Job this eulogy is read: 'There was a certain man in the
land of Ausis, whose name was Job; that man was true, blameless, righteous, and
godly, abstaining from every evil thing.'"3
I am surprised that he has brought forward this passage, which says that Job
"abstained from every evil thing," wishing it to mean "abstained
from every sin;" because he has argued already4
that sin is not a thing, but an act. Let him recollect that, even if it is
an act, it may still be called a thing. That man, however, abstains from
every evil thing, who either never consents to the sin, which is always with
him, or, if sometimes hard pressed by it, is never oppressed by it; just as the
wrestling champion, who, although he is sometimes caught in a fierce grapple,
does not for all that lose the prowess which constitutes him the better man.
We read, indeed, of a man without blame, of one without accusation; but we never
read of one without sin, except the Son of man, who is also the only-begotten
Son of God.
1 Ps. cxv. 2.
2 If this refer to Num. xxiv. 3, 15 (as the editions mark it), the quotation is most inexact. The Septuagint words Ť nqrwpo ljqinw orn is not a proposition equal to "homo verax," as an antithesis to the proposition "omnis homo mendax."
3 Job i. 1.
4 See above, ii.(4).
"Every Man is a Liar," Owing to Himself Alone; But "Every Man is
True," By Help Only of the Grace of God.
says he, "in Job himself it is said: 'And he maintained the miracle
of a true man.'1
Again we read in Solomon, touching wisdom: 'Men that are liars cannot
remember her, but men of truth shall be found in her.'2
Again in the Apocalypse: 'And in their mouth was found no guile, for they
are without fault.'"3
To all these statements we reply with a reminder to our opponents, of how a man
may be called true, through the grace and truth of God, who is in himself
without doubt a liar. Whence it is said: "Every man is a
As for the passage also which he has quoted in reference to Wisdom, when it is
said, "Men of truth shall be found in her," we must observe that it is
undoubtedly not "in her," but in themselves that men
shall be found liars. Just as in another passage: "Ye were
sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord,"5--when
he said, "Ye were darkness," he did not add, "in the Lord;"
but after saying, "Ye are now light," he expressly added the phrase,
"in the Lord," for they could not possibly be "light" in
themselves; in order that "he who glorieth may glory in the Lord."6
The "faultless" ones, indeed, in the Apocalypse, are so called because
"no guile was found in their mouth."7
They did not say they had no sin: if they had said this, they would
deceive themselves, and the truth would not be in them;8
and if the truth were not in them, guile and untruth would be found in their
mouth. If, however, to avoid envy, they said they were not without sin,
although they were sinless, then this very insincerity would be a lie, and the
character given of them would be untrue: "In their mouth was found no
guile." Hence indeed "they are without fault;" for as they
those who have done them wrong, so are they purified by God's forgiveness of
themselves. Observe now how we have to the best of our power explained in
what sense the quotations he has in his own behalf advanced ought to be
understood. But how the passage, "Every man is a liar," is to be
interpreted, he on his part has altogether omitted to explain; nor is an
explanation within his power, without a correction of the error which makes him
believe that man can be true without the help of God's grace, and merely by
virtue of his own free will.
1 Job xvii. 8.
2 Ecclus. xv. 8.
3 Rev. xiv. 5.
4 Ps. cxv. 2.
5 Eph. v. 8.
6 1 Cor. i. 31.
7 Rev. xiv. 5.
8 1 John i. 8.
XIII.--(31.) The Third Passage. It is One Thing to Depart, and
Another Thing to Have Departed, from All Sin. "There is None that
Doeth Good,"--Of Whom This is to Be Understood.
He has likewise
propounded another question, as we shall proceed to show, but has failed to
solve it; nay, he has rather rendered it more difficult, by first stating the
testimony that had been quoted against him: "There is none that doeth
good, no, not one;"1
and then resorting to seemingly contrary passages to show that there are persons
who do good. This he succeeded, no doubt, in doing. It is, however,
one thing for a man not to do good, and another thing not to be without sin,
although he at the same time may do many good things. The passages,
therefore, which he adduces are not really contrary to the statement that no
person is without sin in this life. He does not, for his own part, explain
in what sense it is declared that "there is none that doeth good, no, not
one." These are his words: "Holy David indeed says, 'Hope
thou in the Lord and be doing good.'"2
But this is a precept, and not an accomplished fact; and such a precept as is
never kept by those of whom it is said, "There is none that doeth good, no,
not one." He adds: "Holy Tobit also said, 'Fear not, my
son, that we have to endure poverty; we shall have many blessings if we fear
God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is good.'"3
Most true indeed it is, that man shall have many blessings when he shall have
departed from all sin. Then no evil shall betide him; nor shall he have
need of the prayer, "Deliver us from evil."4
Although even now every man who progresses, advancing ever with an upright
purpose, departs from all sin, and becomes further removed from it as he
approaches nearer to the fulness and perfection of the righteous state; because
even concupiscence itself, which is sin dwelling in our flesh, never ceases to
diminish in those who are making progress, although it still remains in their
mortal members. It is one thing, therefore, to depart from all sin,--a
process which is even now in operation,--and another thing to have departed from
all sin, which shall happen in the state of future perfection. But still,
even he who has departed already from evil, and is continuing to do so, must be
allowed to be a doer of good. How then is it said, in the passage which he
has quoted and left unsolved, "There is none that doeth good, no, not
one," unless that the Psalmist there censures some one nation, amongst whom
there was not a man that did good, wishing to remain "children of
men," and not sons of God, by whose grace man becomes good, in order to do
good? For we must suppose the Psalmist here to mean that "good"
which he describes in the context, saying, "God looked down from heaven
upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek
Such good then as this, seeking after God, there was not a man found who pursued
it, no, not one; but this was in that class of men which is predestinated to
It was upon such that God looked down in His foreknowledge, and passed sentence.
1 Ps. xiv. 3.
2 Ps. xxxvii. 3.
3 Tobit iv. 21.
4 Matt. vi. 13.
5 Ps. xiv. 2.
6 On this passage Fulgentius remarks (Ad Monimum, i. 5): "In no other sense do I suppose that passage of St. Augustin should be taken, in which he affirms that there are certain persons predestinated to destruction than in regard to their punishment, not their sin: not to the evil which they unrighteously commit, but to the punishment which they shall righteously suffer; not to the sin on account of which they either do not receive, or else lose, the benefit of the first resurrection, but to the retribution which their own personal iniquity evilly incurs, and the divine justice righteously inflicts."
XIV.--(32.) The Fourth Passage. In What Sense God Only is Good.
With God to Be Good and to Be Himself are the Same Thing.
likewise," says he, "quote what the Saviour says: 'Why callest
thou me good? There is none good save one, that is, God?'"1
This statement, however, he makes no attempt whatever to explain; all he does is
to oppose to it sundry other passages which seem to contradict it, which he
adduces to show that man, too, is good. Here are his remarks:
"We must answer this text with another, in which the same Lord says, 'A
good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things.'2
And again: 'He maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil.'3
Then in another passage it is written, 'For the good things are created from the
and yet again, 'They that are good shall dwell in the land.'"5
Now to all this we must say in answer, that the passages in question must be
understood in the same sense as the former one, "There is none good, save
one, that is, God." Either because all created things, although God
made them very
are yet, when compared with their Creator, not good, being in fact incapable of
any comparison with Him. For in a transcendent, and yet very proper sense,
He said of Himself, "I Am that I Am."6
The statement therefore before us, "None is good save one, that is,
God," is used in some such way as that which is said of John, "He was
not that light;"7
although the Lord calls him "a lamp,"8
just as He says to His disciples: "Ye are the light of the world: . .
.neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel."9
Still, in comparison with that light which is "the true light which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world,"10
he was not light. Or else, because the very sons of God even, when
compared with themselves as they shall hereafter become in their eternal
perfection, are good in such a way that they still remain also evil.
Although I should not have dared to say this of them (for who would be so bold
as to call them evil who have God for their Father?) unless the Lord had Himself
said: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your
children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to
them that ask Him?"11
Of course, by applying to them the words, "your Father," He proved
that they were already sons of God; and yet at the same time He did not hesitate
to say that they were "evil." Your author, however, does not
explain to us how they are good, whilst yet "there is none good save one,
that is, God." Accordingly the man who asked "what good thing he
was to do,"12
was admonished to seek Him13
by whose grace he might be good; to whom also to be good is nothing else
than to be Himself, because He is unchangeably good, and cannot be evil
1 Luke xviii. 19.
2 Matt. xii. 35.
3 Matt. v. 45.
4 Ecclus. xxxix. 25.
5 Prov. ii. 21.
6 Ex. iii. 14.
7 John i. 8.
8 John v. 35: ["lucernam," not "lux:" as also in the Dies Irś it is said of John, "non lux iste, sed lucernam," in allusion to these passages.--W.]
9 Matt. v. 14, 15.
10 John i. 9.
11 Matt. vii. 11.
12 Matt. xix. 16.
13 Luke x. 27, 28.
The Fifth Passage.1
he, "is another text of theirs: 'Who will boast that he has a pure
And then he answered this with several passages, wishing to show that there can
be in man a pure heart. But he omits to inform us how the passage which he
reported as quoted against himself must be taken, so as to prevent Holy
Scripture seeming to be opposed to itself in this text, and in the passages by
which he makes his answer. We for our part indeed tell him, in answer,
that the clause, "Who will boast that he has a pure heart?" is a
suitable sequel to the preceding sentence, "whenever a righteous king sits
upon the throne."3
For how great soever ever a man's righteousness may be, he ought to reflect and
think, lest there should be found something blameworthy, which has escaped
indeed his own notice, when that righteous King shall sit upon His throne, whose
cognizance no sins can possibly escape, not even those of which it is said,
"Who understandeth his transgressions?"4
"When, therefore, the righteous King shall sit upon His throne, . . . who
will boast that he has a pure heart? or who will boldly say that he is pure from
Except perhaps those who wish to boast of their own righteousness, and not glory
in the mercy of the Judge Himself.
XV.--(34.) The Opposing Passages.
And yet the passages
are true which he goes on to adduce by way of answer, saying: "The
Saviour in the gospel declares, 'Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall
David also says, 'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand
in His holy place? He that is innocent in his hands, and pure in his
and again in another passage, 'Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good and
upright in heart.'8
So also in Solomon: 'Riches are good unto him that hath no sin on his
and again in the same book, 'Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright,
and cleanse thy heart from wickedness.'10
So in the Epistle of John, 'If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence
toward God; and whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him.'"11
For all this is accomplished by the will, by the exercise of faith, hope, and
love; by keeping under the body; by doing alms; by forgiving injuries; by
earnest prayer; by supplicating for strength to advance in our course; by
sincerely saying, "Forgive us, as we also forgive others," and
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."12
By this process, it is certainly brought about that our heart is cleansed, and
all our sin taken away; and what the righteous King, when sitting on His throne,
shall find concealed in the heart and uncleansed as yet, shall be remitted by
His mercy, so that the whole shall be rendered sound and cleansed for seeing
God. For "he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no
mercy: yet mercy triumpheth against judgment."13
If it were not so, what hope could any of us have? "When, indeed, the
righteous King shall sit upon His throne, who shall boast that he hath a pure
heart, or who shall boldly say that he is pure from sin?" Then,
however, through His mercy shall the righteous, being by that time fully and
forth like the glorious sun in the kingdom of their Father.14
1 See also his work Contra Julianum. ii. 8.
2 Prov. xx. 9.
3 Prov. xx. 8.
4 Ps. xix. 12.
5 Prov. xx. 8, 9.
6 Matt. v. 8.
7 Ps. xxiv. 3, 4.
8 Ps. cxxv. 4.
9 Ecclus. xiii. 24.
10 Ecclus. xxxviii. 10.
11 1 John iii. 21, 22.
12 Matt. vi. 12, 13.
13 Jas. ii. 13.
14 Matt. xiii. 43.
The Church Will Be Without Spot and Wrinkle After the Resurrection.
Then shall the Church
realize, fully and perfectly, the condition of "not having spot, or
wrinkle, or any such thing,"1
because then also will it in a real sense be glorious. For inasmuch as he
added the epithet "glorious," when he said, "That He might
present the Church to Himself, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such
thing," he signified sufficiently when the Church will be without spot, or
wrinkle, or anything of this kind,--then of course when it shall be glorious.
Because it is not so much when the Church is involved in so many evils, or
amidst such offences, and in so great a mixture of very evil men, and amidst the
heavy reproaches of the ungodly, that we ought to say that it is glorious,
because kings serve it,--a fact which only produces a more perilous and a sorer
temptation;--but then shall it rather be glorious, when that event shall come to
pass of which the apostle also speaks in the words, "When Christ, who is
your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."2
For since the Lord Himself, in that form of a servant by which He united Himself
as Mediator to the Church, was not glorified except by the glory of His
resurrection (whence it is said, "The Spirit was not yet given, because
Christ was not yet glorified"3),
how shall His Church be described as glorious, before its resurrection?
He cleanses it, therefore, now "by the laver of the water in the
washing away its past sins, and driving off from it the dominion of wicked
angels; but then by bringing all its healthy powers to perfection, He makes it
meet for that glorious state, where it shall shine without a spot or wrinkle.
For "whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called,
them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."5
It was under this mystery, as I suppose, that that was spoken, "Behold, I
cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall
be consummated," or perfected.6
For He said this in the person of His body, which is His Church, putting days
for distinct and appointed periods, which He also signified in "the third
day" in His resurrection.
1 Eph. v. 27.
2 Col. iii. 4.
3 John vii. 39.
4 Eph. v. 26.
5 Rom. viii. 30.
6 Luke xiii. 32.
The Difference Between the Upright in Heart and the Clean in Heart.
I suppose, too, that
there is a difference between one who is upright in heart and one who is clean
in heart. A man is upright in heart when he "reaches forward to those
things which are before, forgetting those things which are behind"1
so as to arrive in a right course, that is, with right faith and purpose, at the
perfection where he may dwell clean and pure in heart. Thus, in the psalm,
the conditions ought to be severally bestowed on each separate character, where
it is said, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand
in His holy place? He that is innocent in his hands, and clean in his
He shall ascend, innocent in his hands, and stand, clean in his heart,--the one
state in present operation, the other in its consummation. And of them
should rather be understood that which is written: "Riches are good
unto him that hath no sin on his conscience."3
Then indeed shall accrue the good, or true riches, when all poverty shall have
passed away; in other words, when all infirmity shall have been removed. A
man may now indeed "leave off from sin," when in his onward course he
departs from it, and is renewed day by day; and he may "order his
hands," and direct them to works of mercy, and "cleanse his heart from
may be so merciful that what remains may be forgiven him by free pardon.
This indeed is the sound and suitable meaning, without any vain and empty
boasting, of that which St. John said: "If our heart condemn us not,
then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we shall
receive of Him."5
The warning which he clearly has addressed to us in this passage, is to beware
lest our heart should reproach us in our very prayers and petitions; that is to
say, lest, when we happen to resort to this prayer, and say, "Forgive us,
even as we ourselves forgive, we should have to feel compunction for not doing
what we say, or should even lose boldness to utter what we fail to do, and
thereby forfeit the confidence of faithful and earnest prayer.
1 Phil. iii. 13.
2 Ps. xxiv. 3, 4.
3 Ecclus. xiii. 24.
4 Ecclus. xxxviii. 10.
5 1 John iii. 21, 22.
XVI.--(37.) The Sixth Passage.
He has also adduced
this passage of Scripture, which is very commonly quoted against his party:
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth
And he makes a pretence of answering it by other passages,--how, "the Lord
says concerning holy Job, 'Hast thou considered my servant Job? For there
is none like him upon earth, a man who is blameless, true, a worshipper of God,
and abstaining from every evil thing.'"2
On this passage we have already made some remarks.3
But he has not even attempted to show us how, on the one
Job was absolutely sinless upon earth,--if the words are to bear such a sense;
and, on the other hand, how that can be true which he has admitted to be in the
Scripture, "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and
XVII.--(38.) The Seventh Passage. Who May Be Called Immaculate.
How It is that in God's Sight No Man is Justified.
"They also, says
he, "quote the text: 'For in thy sight shall no man living be
And his affected answer to this passage amounts to nothing else than the showing
how texts of Holy Scripture seem to clash with one another, whereas it is our
duty rather to demonstrate their agreement. These are his words:
"We must confront them with this answer, from the testimony of the
evangelist concerning holy Zacharias and Elisabeth, when he says, 'And they were
both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the
Now both these righteous persons had, of course, read amongst these very
commandments the method of cleansing their own sins. For, according to
what is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews of "every high priest taken from
Zacharias used no doubt to offer sacrifices even for his own sins. The
meaning, however, of the phrase "blameless," which is applied
to him, we have already, as I suppose, sufficiently explained.8
"And," he adds, "the blessed apostle says, 'That we should
be holy, and without blame before Him.'"9
This, according to him, is said that we should be so, if those persons are to be
understood by "blameless" who are altogether without sin.
If, however, they are "blameless" who are without blame or
censure, then it is impossible for us to deny that there have been, and still
are, such persons even in this present life; for it does not follow that a man
is without sin because he has not a blot of accusation. Accordingly the
apostle, when selecting ministers for ordination, does not say, "If any be sinless,"
for he would be unable to find any such; but he says, "If any be without
for such, of course, he would be able to find. But our opponent does not
tell us how, in accordance with his views, we ought to understand the scripture,
"For in Thy sight shall no man living be justified."11
The meaning of these words is plain enough, receiving as it does additional
light from the preceding clause: "Enter not," says the Psalmist,
"into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be
justified." It is judgment which he fears, therefore he desires that
mercy which triumphs over judgment.12
For the meaning of the prayer, "Enter not into judgment with Thy
servant," is this: "Judge me not according to Thyself," who
art without sin; "for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified."
This without doubt is understood as spoken of the present life, whilst the
predicate "shall not be justified" has reference to that perfect state
of righteousness which belongs not to this life.
1 Eccles. vii. 20.
2 Job i. 8.
3 See above, ch. xii. (29).
4 Eccles. vii. 20.
5 Ps. cxliii. 2.
6 Luke i. 6.
7 Heb. v. 1.
8 See above, ch. xi. (23).
9 Eph. i. 4.
10 Tit. i. 6.
11 Ps. cxliii. 2.
12 Jas. ii. 13.
XVIII.--(39.) The Eighth Passage. In What Sense He is Said Not to
Sin Who is Born of God. In What Way He Who Sins Shall Not See Nor Know
quote," says he, "this passage, "If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."1
And this very clear testimony he has endeavoured to meet with apparently
contradictory texts, saying thus: "The same St. John in this very
epistle says, 'This, however, brethren, I say, that ye sin not. Whosoever
is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he
Also elsewhere: 'Whosoever is born of God sinneth not; because his being
born of God preserveth him, and the evil one toucheth him not.'3
And again in another passage, when speaking of the Saviour, he says:
'Since He was manifested to take away sins, whosoever abideth in Him sinneth
not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.'4
And yet again: 'Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet
appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall
be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this
hope towards Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.'"5
And yet, notwithstanding the truth of all these passages, that also is true
which he has adduced, without, however, offering any explanation of it:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
Now it follows from the whole of this, that in so far as we are born of God we
abide in Him who appeared to take away sins, that is, in Christ, and sin
not,--which is simply that "the inward man is renewed day by day;"7
but in so far as we are born of that man "through whom sin entered into the
world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men,"8
we are not without sin, because we are not as yet free from his infirmity,
until, by that renewal which takes place from day to day (for
is in accordance with this that we were born of God), that infirmity shall be
wholly repaired, wherein we were born from the first than, and in which we are
not without sin. While the remains of this infirmity abide in our inward
man, however much they may be daily lessened in those who are advancing,
"we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, if we say that we have
no sin." Now, however true it is that "whosoever sinneth hath
not seen Him, nor known Him,"9
since with that vision and knowledge, which shall be realized in actual sight,
no one can in this life see and know Him; yet with that vision and knowledge
which come of faith, there may be many who commit sin,--even apostates
themselves,--who still have believed in Him some time or other; so that of none
of these could it be said, according to the vision and knowledge which as yet
come of faith, that he has neither seen Him nor known Him. But I suppose
it ought to be understood that it is the renewal which awaits perfection that
sees and knows Him; whereas the infirmity which is destined to waste and ruin
neither sees nor knows Him. And it is owing to the remains of this
infirmity, of whatever amount, which remain firm in our inward man, that
"we deceive ourselves, and have not the truth in us, when we say that we
have no sin." Although, then, by the grace of renovation "we are
the sons of God," yet by reason of the remains of infirmity within us
"it doth not appear what we shall be; only we know that, when He shall
appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." Then
there shall be no more sin, because no infirmity shall any longer remain within
us or without us. "And every man that hath this hope towards Him
purifieth himself, even as He is pure,"--purifieth himself, not indeed by
himself alone, but by believing in Him, and calling on Him who sanctifieth His
saints; which sanctification, when perfected at last (for it is at present only
advancing and growing day by day), shall take away from us for ever all the
remains of our infirmity.
1 1 John i. 8.
2 1 John iii. 9.
3 1 John v. 18.
4 1 John iii. 5, 6.
5 1 John iii. 2, 3.
6 1 John i. 8.
7 2 Cor. iv. 16.
8 Rom. v. 12.
9 1 John iii. 6.
XIX--(40.) The Ninth Passage.
too," says he, "is quoted by them: 'It is not of him that
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.'"1
And he observes that the answer to be given to them is derived from the same
apostle's words in another passage: "Let him do what he will."2
And he adds another passage from the Epistle to Philemon, where, speaking of
Onesimus, [St. Paul says]: "'Whom I would have retained with me, that
in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel.
But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it
were of necessity, but willingly.'3
Likewise, in Deuteronomy: 'Life and death hath He set before thee, and
good and evil: . . .choose thou life, that thou mayest live.'4
So in the book of Solomon: 'God from the beginning made man, and
left him in the hand of His counsel; and He added for him commandments and
precepts: if thou wilt--to perform acceptable faithfulness for the time to
come, they shall save thee. He hath set fire and water before thee:
stretch forth thine hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man are good and
evil, and life and death; poverty and honour are from the Lord God.'5
So again in Isaiah we read: 'If ye be willing, and hearken unto me, ye
shall eat the good of the land; but if ye be not willing, and hearken not to me,
the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken
Now with all their efforts of disguise they here betray their purpose; for they
plainly attempt to controvert the grace and mercy of God, which we desire to
obtain whenever we offer the prayer, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in
or again this, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
For indeed why do we present such petitions in earnest supplication, if the
result is of him that willeth, and him that runneth, but not of God that showeth
mercy? Not that the result is without our will, but that our will does not
accomplish the result, unless it receive the divine assistance. Now the
wholesomeness of faith is this, that it makes us "seek, that we may find;
ask, that we may receive; and knock, that it may be opened to us."9
Whereas the man who gainsays it, does really shut the door of God's mercy
against himself. I am unwilling to say more touching so important a
matter, because I do better in committing it to the groans of the faithful, than
to words of my own.
1 Rom. ix. 16.
2 1 Cor. vii. 36.
3 Philem. 13, 14.
4 Deut. xxx. 15, 19.
5 Ecclus. xv. 14-17.
6 Isa. i. 19, 20.
7 Matt. vi. 10.
8 Matt. vi. 13.
9 Luke xi. 9.
Specimens of Pelagian Exegesis.
But I beg of you to
see what kind of objection, after all, he makes, that to him who "willeth
and runneth" there is no necessity for God's mercy, which actually
anticipates him in order that he may run,--because, forsooth, the apostle says
concerning a certain person, "Let him do what he will,"1--in
the matter, as I suppose, which he goes on to treat, when he says, "He
sinneth not, let him marry!"2
As if indeed it should be regarded as a great matter to be willing to marry,
when the subject is a laboured discussion concerning the assistance of God's
grace, or that it is of any great advantage
will it, unless God's providence, which governs all things, joins together the
man and the woman. Or, in the case of the apostle's writing to Philemon,
that "his kindness should not be as it were of necessity, but
voluntary,"--as if any good act could indeed be voluntary otherwise than by
God's "working in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure."3
Or, when the Scripture says in Deuteronomy, "Life and death hath He set
before man and good and evil," and admonishes him "to choose
life;" as if, forsooth, this very admonition did not come from God's mercy,
or as if there were any advantage in choosing life, unless God inspired love to
make such a choice, and gave the possession of it when chosen, concerning which
it is said: "For anger is in His indignation, and in His pleasure is
Or again, because it
is said, "The commandments, if thou wilt, shall save thee,"5--as
if a man ought not to thank God, because he has a will to keep the commandments,
since, if he wholly lacked the light of truth, it would not be possible for him
to possess such a will. "Fire and water being set before him, a man
stretches forth his hand towards which he pleases;"6
and yet higher is He who calls man to his higher vocation than any thought on
man's own part, inasmuch as the beginning of correction of the heart lies in
faith, even as it is written, "Thou shalt come, and pass on from the
beginning of faith."7
Every one makes his choice of good, "according as God hath dealt to every
man the measure of faith;"8
and as the Prince of faith says, "No man can come to me, except the Father
which hath sent me draw him."9
And that He spake this in reference to the faith which believes in Him, He
subsequently explains with sufficient clearness, when He says: "The
words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life; yet there are
some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they
were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, Therefore
said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of
1 1 Cor. vii. 36.
2 1 Cor. vii. 36.
3 Phil. ii. 13.
4 Ps. xxx. 5.
5 Ecclus. xv. 15.
6 Ecclus. xv. 16.
7 Cant. iv. 8.
8 Rom. xii. 3.
9 John vi. 44.
10 John vi. 62-65.
God's Promises Conditional. Saints of the Old Testament Were Saved by the
Grace of Christ.
He, however, thought
he had discovered a great support for his cause in the prophet Isaiah; because
by him God said: "If ye be willing, and hearken unto me, ye shall eat
the good of the land; but if ye be not willing, and hearken not to me, the sword
shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken this."1
As if the entire law were not full of conditions of this sort; or as if its
commandments had been given to proud men for any other reason than that
"the law was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to
whom the promise was made."2
"It entered, therefore, that the offence might abound; but where sin
abounded, grace did much more abound."3
In other words, That man might receive commandments, trusting as he did in his
own resources, and that, failing in these and becoming a transgressor, he might
ask for a deliverer and a saviour; and that the fear of the law might humble
him, and bring him, as a schoolmaster, to faith and grace. Thus
"their weaknesses being multiplied, they hastened after;"4
and in order to heal them, Christ in due season came. In His grace even
righteous men of old believed, and by the same grace were they holpen; so that
with joy did they receive a foreknowledge of Him, and some of them even foretold
His coming,--whether they were found among the people of Israel themselves, as
Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Samuel, and David, and other such; or
outside that people, as Job; or previous to that people, as Abraham, and Noah,
and all others who are either mentioned or not in Holy Scripture.
"For there is but one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man
without whose grace nobody is delivered from condemnation, whether he has
derived that condemnation from him in whom all men sinned, or has afterwards
aggravated it by his own iniquities.
1 Isa. i. 19, 20.
2 Gal. iii. 19.
3 Rom. v. 20.
4 Ps. xvi. 4.
5 1 Tim. ii. 5.
XX.--(43.) No Man is Assisted Unless He Does Himself Also Work. Our
Course is a Constant Progress.
But what is the import
of the last statement which he has made: "If any one say, 'May it
possibly be that a man sin not even in word?' then the answer," says he,
"which must be given is, 'Quite possible, if God so will; and God does so
will, therefore it is possible.'" See how unwilling he was to say,
"If God give His help, then it would be possible;" and yet the
Psalmist thus addresses God: "Be Thou my helper, forsake me
where of course help is not sought for procuring bodily advantages and avoiding
bodily evils, but for practising and fulfilling righteousness. Hence it is
that we say: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
Now no man is assisted unless he also himself does something; assisted, however,
he is, if he prays, if he believes, if he is "called according to God's
for "whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed
the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.
Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called,
them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."4
We run, therefore, whenever we make advance; and our wholeness runs with us in
our advance (just as a sore is said to run5
when the wound is in process of a sound and careful treatment), in order that we
may be in every respect perfect, without any infirmity of sin whatever,--a
result which God not only wishes, but even causes and helps us to accomplish.
And this God's grace does, in co-operation with ourselves, through Jesus Christ
our Lord, as well by commandments, sacraments, and examples, as by His Holy
Spirit also; through whom there is hiddenly shed abroad in our hearts6
that love, "which maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be
until wholeness and salvation be perfected in us, and God be manifested to us as
He will be seen in His eternal truth.
1 Ps. xxvii. 9.
2 Matt. vi. 13.
3 Rom. viii. 28.
4 Rom. viii. 29, 30.
5 Ps. lxxvii. 2.
6 Rom. v. 5.
7 Rom. viii. 26.
XXI.--(44.) Conclusion of the Work. In the Regenerate It is Not
Concupiscence, But Consent, Which is Sin.
supposes that any man or any men (except the one Mediator between God and man1)
have ever lived, or are yet living in this present state, who have not needed,
and do not need, forgiveness of sins, he opposes Holy Scripture, wherein it is
said by the apostle: "By one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, in which all have sinned."2
And he must needs go on to assert, with an impious contention, that there may
possibly be men who are freed and saved from sin without the liberation and
salvation of the one Mediator Christ. Whereas He it is who has said:
"They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;"3
"I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."4
He, moreover, who says that any man, after he has received remission of sins,
has ever lived in this body, or still is living, so righteously as to have no
sin at all, he contradicts the Apostle John, who declares that "If we say
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."5
Observe, the expression is not we had, but "we have."
If, however, anybody contend that the apostle's statement concerns the sin which
dwells in our mortal flesh according to the defect which was caused by the will
of the first man when he sinned, and concerning which the Apostle Paul enjoins
us "not" to "obey it in the lusts thereof,6--so
that he does not sin who altogether withholds his consent from this same
indwelling sin, and so brings it to no evil work,--either in deed, or word, or
thought,--although the lusting after it may be excited (which in another sense
has received the name of sin, inasmuch as consenting to it would amount to
sinning), but excited against our will,--he certainly is drawing subtle
distinctions, and should consider what relation all this bears to the Lord's
Prayer, wherein we say, "Forgive us our debts."7
Now, if I judge aright, it would be unnecessary to put up such a prayer as this,
if we never in the least degree consented to the lusts of the before-mentioned
sin, either in a slip of the tongue, or in a wanton thought; all that it would
be needful to say would be, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
Nor could the Apostle James say: "In many things we all offend."9
For in truth only that man offends whom an evil concupiscence persuades, either
by deception or by force, to do or say or think something which he ought to
avoid, by directing his appetites or his aversions contrary to the rule of
righteousness. Finally, if it be asserted that there either have been, or
are in this present life, any persons, with the sole exception of our Great
Head, "the Saviour of His body,"10
who are righteous, without any sin,--and this, either by not consenting to the
lusts thereof, or because that must not be accounted as any sin which is such
that God does not impute it to them by reason of their godly lives (although the
blessedness of being without sin is a different thing from the blessedness of
not having one's sin imputed to him),11--I
do not deem it necessary to contest the point over much. I am quite aware
that some hold this opinion,12
whose views on the subject I have not the courage to censure, although, at the
same time, I cannot defend them. But if any man says that we ought not to
use the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation" (and he says as much who
maintains that God's help is unnecessary to a person for the avoidance of sin,
and that human will, after accepting only the law, is sufficient for the
purpose), then I do not hesitate at once to affirm that such a man ought to be
removed from the public ear, and to be anathematized by every mouth.
1 1 Tim. ii. 5.
2 Rom. v. 12.
3 Matt. ix. 12.
4 Matt. ix. 13.
5 1 John i. 8.
6 Rom. vi. 12.
7 Matt. vi. 12.
8 Matt. vi. 13.
9 Jas. iii. 2.
10 Eph. i. 22, 23, and v. 23.
11 Ps. xxxii. 2.12 See Augustin's treatise, De Natura et Gratia, 74, 75.