Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 69 [LIX.]--Pelagius Puts Nature in the Place of Grace.
In opposition, however, to those who ask, |And who would be unwilling to be without sin, if it were put in the power of a man?| he rightly contends, saying |that by this very question they acknowledge that the thing is not impossible; because so much as this, many, if not all men, certainly desire.| Well then, let him only confess the means by which this is possible, and then our controversy is ended. Now the means is |the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ;| by which he nowhere has been willing to allow that we are assisted when we pray, for the avoidance of sin. If indeed he secretly allows this, he must forgive us if we suspect otherwise. For he himself works this result, who, though encountering so much obloquy on this subject, wishes to entertain the secret opinion, and yet is unwilling to confess or profess it. It would surely be no great matter were he to speak out, especially since he has undertaken to handle and open this point, as if it had been objected against him on the side of opponents. Why on such occasions did he choose only to defend nature, and assert that man was so created as to have it in his power not to sin if he wished not to sin; and, from the fact that he was so created, definitely say that the power was owing to God's grace which enabled him to avoid sin, if he was unwilling to commit it; and yet refuse to say anything concerning the fact that even nature itself is either, because disordered, healed by God's grace through our Lord Jesus Christ or else assisted by it, because in itself it is so insufficient?