Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 23.--Obstinacy Makes the Heretic.
Well, now, as for these eleven propositions, they are extremely and manifestly perverse and opposed to the catholic faith; so that you should no longer hesitate to root them out and cast them away from your mind, from your words, and from your pen, if you are desirous that we should rejoice not only at your having come over to our catholic altars, but at your being really and truly a catholic. For if these dogmas of yours are severally maintained with pertinacity, they may possibly engender as many heresies as they number opinions. Wherefore consider, I pray you, how dreadful it is that they should be all concentrated in one person, when they would, if held severally by various persons, be every one of them damnable in each holder. If, however, you would in your own person cease to fight contentiously in their defence, nay, would turn your arms against them by faithful words and writings, you would acquire more praise as the censurer of your own self than if you directed any amount of right criticism against any other person; and your amendment of your own errors would bring you more admiration than if you had never entertained them. May the Lord be present to your heart and mind, and by His Spirit pour into your soul such readiness in humility, such light of truth, such sweetness of love, and such peaceful piety, that you may prefer being a conqueror of your own spirit in the truth, than of any one else who gainsays it with his errors. But I do not by any means wish you to think, that by holding these opinions you have departed from the catholic faith, although they are unquestionably opposed to the catholic faith; if so be you are able, in the presence of that God whose eye infallibly searches every man's heart, to look back on your own words as being truly and sincerely expressed, when you said that you were not over-confident in yourself as to the opinions you had broached, that they were all capable of proof; and that your constant aim was not to persist in your own sentiments, if they were shown to be improbable; inasmuch as it was a real pleasure to you, when any judgment of yours was condemned, to adopt and pursue better and truer thoughts. Now such a temper as this, even in relation to what may have been said in an uncatholic form through ignorance, is itself catholic by the very purpose and readiness of amendment which it premeditates. With this remark, however, I must now end this volume, where the reader may rest a while, ready to renew his attention to what is to follow, when I begin my next book.