Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 29.--The Righteous Men Who Lived in the Time of the Law Were for All that Not Under the Law, But Under Grace. The Grace of the New Testament Hidden Under the Old.
Death indeed reigned from Adam until Moses, because it was not possible even for the law given through Moses to overcome it: it was not given, in fact, as something able to give life; but as something that ought to show those that were dead and for whom grace was needed to give them life, that they were not only prostrated under the propagation and domination of sin, but also convicted by the additional guilt of breaking the law itself: not in order that any one might perish who in the mercy of God understood this even in that early age; but that, destined though he was to punishment, owing to the dominion of death, and manifested, too, as guilty through his own violation of the law, he might seek God's help, and so where sin abounded, grace might much more abound, even the grace which alone delivers from the body of this death. [XXV.] Yet, notwithstanding this, although not even the law which Moses gave was able to liberate any man from the dominion of death, there were even then, too, at the time of the law, men of God who were not living under the terror and conviction and punishment of the law, but under the delight and healing and liberation of grace. Some there were who said, |I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me;| and, |There is no rest in my bones, by reason of my sins;| and, |Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in my inward parts;| and, |Stablish me with Thy directing Spirit;| and, |Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.| There were some, again, who said: |I believed, therefore have I spoken.| For they too were cleansed with the self-same faith with which we ourselves are. Whence the apostle also says: |We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believe, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.| Out of very faith was it said, |Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,| |which is, being interpreted, God with us.| Out of very faith too was it said concerning Him: |As a bridegroom He cometh out of His chamber; as a giant did He exult to run His course. His going forth is from the extremity of heaven, and His circuit runs to the other end of heaven; and no one is hidden from His heat.| Out of very faith, again, was it said to Him: |Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.| By the self-same Spirit of faith were all these things foreseen by them as to happen, whereby they are believed by us as having happened. They, indeed, who were able in faithful love to foretell these things to us were not themselves partakers of them. The Apostle Peter says, |Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.| Now on what principle does he make this statement, if it be not because even they were saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not the law of Moses, from which comes not the cure, but only the knowledge of sin? Now, however, the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. If, therefore, it is now manifested, it even then existed, but it was hidden. This concealment was symbolized by the veil of the temple. When Christ was dying, this veil was rent asunder, to signify the full revelation of Him. Even of old, therefore there existed amongst the people of God this grace of the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; but like the rain in the fleece which God sets apart for His inheritance, not of debt, but of His own will, it was latently present, but is now patently visible amongst all nations as its |floor,| the fleece being dry, -- in other words, the Jewish people having become reprobate.