Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 12.--Of His Own Will a Man Forsakes God, So that He is Deservedly Forsaken of Him.
But, on the other hand, |of his own will a man forsakes God, so as to be deservedly forsaken by God.| Who would deny this? But it is for that reason we ask not to be led into temptation, so that this may not happen. And if we are heard, certainly it does not happen, because God does not allow it to happen. For nothing comes to pass except what either He Himself does, or Himself allows to be done. Therefore He is powerful both to turn wills from evil to good, and to convert those that are inclined to fall, or to direct them into a way pleasing to Himself. For to Him it is not said in vain, |O God, Thou shalt turn again and quicken us;| it is not vainly said, |Give not my foot to be moved;| it is not vainly said, |Give me not over, O Lord, from my desire to the sinner;| finally, not to mention many passages, since probably more may occur to you, it is not vainly said, |Lead us not into temptation.| For whoever is not led into temptation, certainly is not led into the temptation of his own evil will; and he who is not led into the temptation of his own evil will, is absolutely led into no temptation. For |every one is tempted,| as it is written, |when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed;| |but God tempteth no man,| -- that is to say, with a hurtful temptation. For temptation is moreover beneficial by which we are not deceived or overwhelmed, but proved, according to that which is said, |Prove me, O Lord, and try me.| Therefore, with that hurtful temptation which the apostle signifies when he says, |Lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain,| |God tempteth no man,| as I have said, -- that is, He brings or leads no one into temptation. For to be tempted and not to be led into temptation is not evil, -- nay, it is even good; for this it is to be proved. When, therefore, we say to God, |Lead us not into temptation,| what do we say but, |Permit us not to be led|? Whence some pray in this manner, and it is read in many codices, and the most blessed Cyprian thus uses it: |Do not suffer us to be led into temptation.| In the Greek gospel, however, I have never found it otherwise than, |Lead us not into temptation.| We live, therefore, more securely if we give up the whole to God, and do not entrust ourselves partly to Him and partly to ourselves, as that venerable martyr saw. For when he would expound the same clause of the prayer, he says among other things, |But when we ask that we may not come into temptation, we are reminded of our infirmity and weakness while we thus ask, lest any should insolently vaunt himself, -- lest any should proudly and arrogantly assume anything to himself, -- lest any should take to himself the glory either of confession or suffering as his own; since the Lord Himself, teaching humility, said, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' So that when a humble and submissive confession comes first and all is attributed to God, whatever is sought for suppliantly, with the fear of God, may be granted by His own loving-kindness.|