Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 72 [LXI.]--Hilary. The Pure in Heart Blessed. The Doing and Perfecting of Righteousness.
He quotes the following words from the blessed Hilary: |It is only when we shall be perfect in spirit and changed in our immortal state, which blessedness has been appointed only for the pure in heart, that we shall see that which is immortal in God.| Now I am really not aware what is here said contrary to our own statement, or in what respect this passage is of any use to our opponent, unless it be that it testifies to the possibility of a man's being |pure in heart.| But who denies such possibility? Only it must be by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and not merely by our freedom of will. He goes on to quote also this passage: |This Job had so effectually read these Scriptures, that he kept himself from every wicked work, because he worshipped God purely with a mind unmixed with offences: now such worship of God is the proper work of righteousness.| It is what Job had done which the writer here spoke of, not what he had brought to perfection in this world, -- much less what he had done or perfected without the grace of that Saviour whom he had actually foretold. For that man, indeed, abstains from every wicked work, who does not allow the sin which he has within him to have dominion over him; and who, whenever an unworthy thought stole over him, suffered it not to come to a head in actual deed. It is, however, one thing not to have sin, and another to refuse obedience to its desires. It is one thing to fulfil the command, |Thou shalt not covet;| and another thing, by an endeavour at any rate after abstinence, to do that which is also written, |Thou shalt not go after thy lusts.| And yet one is quite aware that he can do nothing of all this without the Saviour's grace. It is to work righteousness, therefore, to fight in an internal struggle with the internal evil of concupiscence in the true worship of God; whilst to perfect it means to have no adversary at all. Now he who has to fight is still in danger, and is sometimes shaken, even if he is not overthrown; whereas he who has no enemy at all rejoices in perfect peace. He, moreover, is in the highest truth said to be without sin in whom no sin has an indwelling, -- not he who, abstaining from evil deeds, uses such language as |Now it is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwelleth in me.|