Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 48.--Christ the Saviour Even of Infants; Christ, When an Infant, Was Free from Ignorance and Mental Weakness.
He is therefore the Saviour at once of infants and of adults, of whom the angel said, |There is born unto you this day a Saviour;| and concerning whom it was declared to the Virgin Mary, |Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins,| where it is plainly shown that He was called Jesus because of the salvation which He bestows upon us, -- Jesus being tantamount to the Latin Salvator, |Saviour.| Who then can be so bold as to maintain that the Lord Christ is Jesus only for adults and not for infants also? who came in the likeness of sinful flesh, to destroy the body of sin, with infants' limbs fitted and suitable for no use in the extreme weakness of such body, and His rational soul oppressed with miserable ignorance! Now that such entire ignorance existed, I cannot suppose in the infant in whom the Word was made flesh, that He might dwell among us; nor can I imagine that such weakness of the mental faculty ever existed in the infant Christ which we see in infants generally. For it is owing to such infirmity and ignorance that infants are disturbed with irrational affections, and are restrained by no rational command or government, but by pains and penalties, or the terror of such; so that you can quite see that they are children of that disobedience, which excites itself in the members of our body in opposition to the law of the mind, -- and refuses to be still, even when the reason wishes; nay, often is either repressed only by some actual infliction of bodily pain, as for instance by flogging; or is checked only by fear, or by some such mental emotion, but not by any admonishing of the will. Inasmuch, however, as in Him there was the likeness of sinful flesh, He willed to pass through the changes of the various stages of life, beginning even with infancy, so that it would seem as if even His flesh might have arrived at death by the gradual approach of old age, if He had not been killed while young. Nevertheless, the death is inflicted in sinful flesh as the due of disobedience, but in the likeness of sinful flesh it was undergone in voluntary obedience. For when He was on His way to it, and was soon to suffer it, He said, |Behold, the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that all may know that I am doing my Father's will, arise, let us go hence.| Having said these words, He went straightway, and encountered His undeserved death, having become obedient even unto death.