Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 8.--Further Replies to Those Who Object to Rebuke.
But wherefore do they, who are unwilling be rebuked, say, |Only prescribe to me, and pray for me that I may do what you prescribe?| Why do they not rather, in accordance with their own evil inclination, reject these things also, and say, |I wish you neither to prescribe to me, nor to pray for me|? For what man is shown to have prayed for Peter, that God should give him the repentance wherewith he bewailed the denial of his Lord? What man instructed Paul in the divine precepts which pertain to the Christian faith? When, therefore, he was heard preaching the gospel, and saying, |For I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it from man, nor did I learn it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ,| -- would it be replied to him: |Why are you troubling us to receive and to learn from you that which you have not received nor learnt from man? He who gave to you is able also to give to us in like manner as to you.| Moreover, if they dare not say this, but suffer the gospel to be preached to them by man, although it cannot be given to man by man, let them concede also that they ought to be rebuked by those who are set over them, by whom Christian grace is preached; although it is not denied that God is able, even when no man rebukes, to correct whom He will, and to lead him on to the wholesome mortification of repentance by the most hidden and mighty power of His medicine. And as we are not to cease from prayer on behalf of those whom we desire to be corrected, -- even although without any man's prayer on behalf of Peter, the Lord looked upon him and caused him to bewail his sin, -- so we must not neglect rebuke, although God can make those whom He will to be corrected, even when not rebuked. But a man then profits by rebuke when He pities and aids who makes those whom He will to profit even without rebuke. But wherefore these are called to be reformed in one way, those in another way, and others in still another way, after different and innumerable manners, be it far from us to assert that it is the business of the clay to judge, but of the potter.