Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 35.--The Same Continued.
|What, then, is the meaning of that which the same apostle says: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day;' if these are not recompenses paid to the worthy, but gifts, bestowed on the unworthy?| He who says this, does not consider that the crown could not have been given to the man who is worthy of it, unless grace had been first bestowed on him whilst unworthy of it. He says indeed: |I have fought a good fight;| but then he also says: |Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.| He says too: |I have finished my course;| but he says again: |It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.| He says, moreover: |I have kept the faith;| but then it is he too who says again: |I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep my deposit against that day| -- that is, |my commendation;| for some copies have not the word depositum, but commendatum, which yields a plainer sense. Now, what do we commend to God's keeping, except the things which we pray Him to preserve for us, and amongst these our very faith? For what else did the Lord procure for the Apostle Peter by His prayer for him, of which He said, |I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not,| than that God would preserve his faith, that it should not fail by giving way to temptation? Therefore, blessed Paul, thou great preacher of grace, I will say it without fear of any man (for who will be less angry with me for so saying than thyself, who hast told us what to say, and taught us what to teach?) -- I will, I repeat, say it, and fear no man for the assertion: Their own crown is recompensed to their merits; but thy merits are the gifts of God!