Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 17 [VIII.]--Even the Desire of an Imperfect Good is a Gift of Grace, Otherwise Grace Would Be Given According to Merits.
Let us now see, as we can, the nature of this thing which they will have to precede in man, in order that he may be regarded as worthy of the assistance of grace, and to the merit of which in him grace is not given as if unearned, but is rendered as due; and thus grace is no more grace. Let us see, however, what this is. |Under the name,| say they, |of grace, they so assert fate as to say that unless God should have inspired the desire for good, and that, imperfect good, into unwilling and resisting man, he would neither be able to decline from evil nor to grasp after good.| I have already shown what empty things they speak about fate and grace. Now the question which I ought to consider is this, whether God inspires the desire of good into unwilling and resisting man, that he may be no longer unwilling, no longer resisting, but consenting to the good and willing the good. For those men will have it that the desire of good in man begins from man himself; that the merit of this beginning is, moreover, attended with the grace of completion -- if, at least, they will allow so much as even this. For Pelagius says that what is good is |more easily| fulfilled if grace assists. By which addition -- that is, by adding |more easily| -- he certainly signifies that he is of the opinion that, even if the aid of grace should be wanting, yet good might be accomplished, although with greater difficulty, by free will. But let me prescribe to my present opponents what they should think in this matter, without speaking of the author of this heresy himself. Let us allow them, with their free will, to be free even from Pelagius himself, and rather give heed to their words which they have written in this letter to which I am replying.