Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 8 [V.]--The Fifth Petition. It is an Error of the Pelagians that the Righteous are Free from Sin.
In the fifth sentence of the prayer we say, |Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors,| in which petition alone perseverance is not found to be asked for. For the sins which we ask to be forgiven us are past, but perseverance, which saves us for eternity, is indeed necessary for the time of this life; but not for the time which is past, but for that which remains even to its end. Yet it is worth the labour to consider for a little, how even already in this petition the heretics who were to arise long after were transfixed by the tongue of Cyprian, as if by the most invincible dart of truth. For the Pelagians dare to say even this: that the righteous man in this life has no sin at all, and that in such men there is even at the present time a Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, which is the one and only bride of Christ; as if she were not His bride who throughout the whole earth says what she has learnt from Him, |Forgive us our debts.| But observe how the most glorious Cyprian destroys these. For when he was expounding that very clause of the Lord's Prayer, he says among other things: |And how necessarily, how providently, and salutarily are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins; and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness. Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden daily to entreat for his sins. Thus, moreover, John also in his Epistle warns us, and says, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.'| And the rest, which it would be long to insert in this place.