Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 16 [XV.]--We Need Divine Aid in the Use of Our Powers. Illustration from Sight.
Now what is the use of his examples, if they do not really accomplish his own promise of making his meaning clearer to us; not, indeed, that we are bound to admit their sense, but that we may discover more plainly and openly what is his drift and purpose in using them? |That we are able,| says he, |to see with our eyes is not of us; but it is of us that we make a good or a bad use of our sight.| Well, there is an answer for him in the psalm, in which the psalmist says to God, |Turn Thou away mine eyes, that they behold not iniquity.| Now although this was said of the eyes of the mind, it still follows from it, that in respect of our bodily eyes there is either a good use or a bad use that may be made of them: not in the literal sense merely of a good sight when the eyes are sound, and a bad sight when they are bleared, but in the moral sense of a right sight when it is directed towards succouring the helpless, or a bad sight when its object is the indulgence of lust. For although both the pauper who is succoured, and the woman who is lusted after, are seen by these external eyes; it is after all from the inner eyes that either compassion in the one case or lust in the other proceeds. How then is it that the prayer is offered to God, |Turn Thou away mine eyes, that they behold not iniquity|? Or why is that asked for which lies within our own power, if it be true that God does not assist the will?