Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 7.--The New Testament is More Ancient Than the Old; But It Was Subsequently Revealed.
Here, certainly, if we ask whether this testament, which, he says, being confirmed by God was not weakened by the law, which was made four hundred and thirty years after, is to be understood as the new or the old one, who can hesitate to answer |the new, but hidden in the prophetic shadows until the time should come wherein it should be revealed in Christ|? For if we should say the old, what will that be which genders from Mount Sinai to bondage? For there was made the law four hundred and thirty years after, by which law he asserts that this testament of the promise of Abraham could not be weakened; and he will have this which was made by Abraham to pertain rather to us, whom he will have to be children of the freewoman, not of the bondwoman, heirs by the promise, not by the law, when he says, |For if the inheritance be by the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.| So that, because the law was made four hundred and thirty years after, it might enter that the offence might abound; since by sin the pride of man presuming on his own righteousness is convinced of transgression, and where sin abounded grace much more abounded by the faith of the now humble man failing in the law and taking refuge in God's mercy. Therefore, when he had said, |For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no longer of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise,| as if it might be said to him, |Why then was the law made afterwards? |he added and said, |What then is the law?| To which interrogation he immediately replied, |It was added because of transgression, until the seed should come to which the promise was made.| This he says again, thus: |For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where there is no law, there is no transgression.| What he says in the former testimony: |For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise,| this he says in the latter: |For if they who are of the law be heirs, faith is made void; and the promise is made of none effect;| sufficiently showing that to our faith (which certainly is of the new testament) belongs what God gave to Abraham by promise. And what he says in the former testimony, |What then is the law?| and answered, |It was added for the sake of transgression,| this he instantly added in the latter testimony, |For the law worketh wrath: for where there is no law, there is no transgression.|