Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 2 [II.]--Suspicious Character of Pelagius' Confession as to the Necessity of Grace for Every Single Act of Ours.
You informed me in your letter, that you had entreated Pelagius to express in writing his condemnation of all that had been alleged against him; and that he had said, in the audience of you all: |I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,' is not necessary not only for every hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavour to disannul it deserve everlasting punishment.| Now, whoever hears these words, and is ignorant of the opinion which he has clearly enough expressed in his books, -- not those, indeed, which he declares to have been stolen from him in an incorrect form, nor those which he repudiates, but those even which he mentions in his own letter which he forwarded to Rome, -- would certainly suppose that the views he holds are in strict accordance with the truth. But whoever notices what he openly declares in them, cannot fail to regard these statements with suspicion. Because, although he makes that grace of God whereby Christ came into the world to save sinners to consist simply in the remission of sins, he can still accommodate his words to this meaning, by alleging that the necessity of such grace for every hour and for every moment and for every action of our life, comes to this, that while we recollect and keep in mind the forgiveness of our past sins, we sin no more, aided not by any supply of power from without, but by the powers of our own will as it recalls to our mind, in every action we do, what advantage has been conferred upon us by the remission of sins. Then, again, whereas they are accustomed to say that Christ has given us assistance for avoiding sin, in that He has left us an example by living righteously and teaching what is right Himself, they have it in their power here also to accommodate their words, by affirming that this is the necessity of grace to us for every moment and for every action, namely, that we should in all our conversation regard the example of the Lord's conversation. Your own fidelity, however, enables you clearly to perceive how such a profession of opinion as this differs from that true confession of grace which is now the question before us. And yet how easily can it be obscured and disguised by their ambiguous statements!