Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 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.| 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 filled.|