Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 42 [XXXVIII.]--Grace Placed by Pelagius in the Remission of Sins and the Example of Christ.
Likewise in another place in this epistle of his he says: |Now, if even before the law, as we have already remarked, and long previous to the coming of our Lord and Saviour, some men are related to have lived righteous and holy lives; how much more worthy of belief is it that we are capable of doing this since the illumination of His coming, who have been restored by the grace of Christ, and born again into a better man? How much better than they, who lived before the law, ought we to be, who have been reconciled and cleansed by His blood, and by His example encouraged to the perfection of righteousness!| Observe how even here, although in different language, he has made the assistance of grace to consist in the remission of sins and the example of Christ. He then completes the passage by adding these words: |Better than they were even who lived under the law; according to the apostle, who says, Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' Now, inasmuch as we have,| says he, |said enough, as I suppose, on this point, let us describe a perfect virgin, who shall testify the good at once of nature and of grace by the holiness of her conduct, evermore warmed with the virtues of both.| Now you ought to notice that in these words also he wished to conclude what he was saying in such a way that we might understand the good of nature to be that which we received when we were created; but the good of grace to be that which we receive when we regard and follow the example of Christ, -- as if sin were not permitted to those who were or are under the law, on this account, because they either had not Christ's example, or else do not believe in Him.