Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 2 [II.]--Faith is the Beginning of a Christian Man. Martyrdom for Christ's Sake is His Best Ending.
This matter being settled, let us see whether this perseverance, of which it was said, |He that persevereth unto the end, the same shall be saved,| is a gift of God. And if it be not, how is that saying of the apostle true: |Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake|? Of these things, certainly, one has respect to the beginning, the other to the end. Yet each is the gift of God, because both are said to be given; as, also, I have already said above. For what is more truly the beginning for a Christian than to believe in Christ? What end is better than to suffer for Christ? But so far as pertains to believing in Christ, whatever kind of contradiction has been discovered, that not the beginning but the increase of faith should be called God's gift, -- to this opinion, by God's gift, I have answered enough, and more than enough. But what reason can be given why perseverance to the end should not be given in Christ to him to whom it is given to suffer for Christ, or, to speak more distinctly, to whom it is given to die for Christ? For the Apostle Peter, showing that this is the gift of God, says, |It is better, if the will of God be so, to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.| When he says, |If the will of God be so,| he shows that this is divinely given, and yet not to all saints, to suffer for Christ's sake. For certainly those whom the will of God does not will to attain to the experience and the glory of suffering, do not fail to attain to the kingdom of God if they persevere in Christ to the end. But who can say that this perseverance is not given to those who die in Christ from any weakness of body, or by any kind of accident, although a far more difficult perseverance is given to those by whom even death itself is undergone for Christ's sake? Because perseverance is much more difficult when the persecutor is engaged in preventing a man's perseverance; and therefore he is sustained in his perseverance unto death. Hence it is more difficult to have the former perseverance, -- easier to have the latter; but to Him to whom nothing is difficult it is easy to give both. For God has promised this, saying, |I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me.| And what else is this than, |Such and so great shall be my fear that I will put into their hearts that they will perseveringly cleave to me|?