Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 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 liar.'| 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.' 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.'| 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 already 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.