Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 54 [XLIX.]--Ambrose Teaches that No One is Sinless in This World.
Lastly, let him give good heed to his venerable bishop, when he is expounding the Prophet Isaiah, and says that |no man in this world can be without sin.| Now nobody can pretend to say that by the phrase |in this world| he simply meant, in the love of this world. For he was speaking of the apostle, who said, |Our conversation is in heaven;| and while unfolding the sense of these words, the eminent bishop expressed himself thus: |Now the apostle says that many men, even while living in the present world, are perfect with themselves, who could not possibly be deemed perfect, if one looks at true perfection. For he says himself: We now see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.' Thus, there are those who are spotless in this world, there are those who will be spotless in the kingdom of God; although, of course, if you sift the thing minutely, no one could be spotless, because no one is without sin.| That passage, then, of the holy Ambrose, which Pelagius applies in support of his own opinion, was either written in a qualified sense, probable, indeed, but not expressed with minute accuracy; or if the holy and lowly-minded author did think that Zacharias and Elisabeth lived according to the highest and absolutely perfect righteousness, which was incapable of increase or addition, he certainly corrected his opinion on a minuter examination of it.