Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 40 [XVII.]--The Same Continued.
Since, then, Pelagius was present when these passages of the Scriptures were discussed, and by his silence acknowledged having said that he entertained the same view of their meaning, how happens it, that, after reconsidering the apostle's testimony, as he had just done, and finding that he said: |I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God; but by the grace of God I am what I am,| he did not perceive that it was improper for him to say, respecting the question of the abundance of the graces which the said apostle received, that he had shown himself |worthy to receive them,| when the apostle himself not only confessed, but added a reason to prove, that he was unworthy of them -- and by this very fact set forth grace as grace indeed? If he could not for some reason or other consider or recollect the narrative of his holiness the bishop John, which he had heard some time before, he might surely have respected his own very recent answer at the synod, and remembered how he anathematized, but a short while before, the opinions which had been alleged against him out of Coelestius. Now among these it was objected to him that Coelestius had said: |That the grace of God is bestowed according to our merits.| If, then, Pelagius truthfully anathematized this, why does he say that all those graces were conferred on the apostle because he deserved them? Is the phrase |worthy to receive| of different meaning from the expression |to receive according to merit|? Can he by any disputatious subtlety show that a man is worthy who has no merit? But neither Coelestius, nor any other, all of whose opinions he anathematized, has any intention to allow him to throw clouds over the phrase, and to conceal himself behind them. He presses home the matter, and plainly says: |And this grace has been placed in my will, according as I have been either worthy or unworthy of it.| If, then, a statement, wherein it is declared that |God's grace is given in proportion to our deserts, to such as are worthy,| was rightly and truly condemned by Pelagius, how could his heart permit him to think, or his mouth to utter, such a sentence as this: |We say that God gives to the person who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces?| Who that carefully considers all this can help feeling some anxiety about his answer or defence?