Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter XIX--(40.) The Ninth Passage.
|This passage, too,| says he, |is quoted by them: It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.'| And he observes that the answer to be given to them is derived from the same apostle's words in another passage: |Let him do what he will.| And he adds another passage from the Epistle to Philemon, where, speaking of Onesimus, [St. Paul says]: |Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel. But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.' Likewise, in Deuteronomy: Life and death hath He set before thee, and good and evil: . . .choose thou life, that thou mayest live.' So in the book of Solomon: God from the beginning made man, and left him in the hand of His counsel; and He added for him commandments and precepts: if thou wilt -- to perform acceptable faithfulness for the time to come, they shall save thee. He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thine hand unto whether thou wilt. Before man are good and evil, and life and death; poverty and honour are from the Lord God.' So again in Isaiah we read: If ye be willing, and hearken unto me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye be not willing, and hearken not to me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken this.'| Now with all their efforts of disguise they here betray their purpose; for they plainly attempt to controvert the grace and mercy of God, which we desire to obtain whenever we offer the prayer, |Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven;| or again this, |Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.| For indeed why do we present such petitions in earnest supplication, if the result is of him that willeth, and him that runneth, but not of God that showeth mercy? Not that the result is without our will, but that our will does not accomplish the result, unless it receive the divine assistance. Now the wholesomeness of faith is this, that it makes us |seek, that we may find; ask, that we may receive; and knock, that it may be opened to us.| Whereas the man who gainsays it, does really shut the door of God's mercy against himself. I am unwilling to say more touching so important a matter, because I do better in committing it to the groans of the faithful, than to words of my own.