Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 23 [XXII.]--Pelagius' Double Dealing Concerning the Ground of the Conferrence of Grace.
Perhaps, however, our own antecedent merits caused this gift to be bestowed upon us; as this writer has already suggested in reference to God's grace, in that work which he addressed to a holy virgin, whom he mentions in the letter sent by him to Rome. For, after adducing the testimony of the Apostle James, in which he says, |Submit yourselves unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you,| he goes on to say: |He shows us how we ought to resist the devil, if we submit ourselves indeed to God and by doing His will merit His divine grace, and by the help of the Holy Ghost more easily withstand the evil spirit.| Judge, then, how sincere was his condemnation in the Palestine Synod of those persons who say that God's grace is conferred on us according to our merits! Have we any doubt as to his still holding this opinion, and most openly proclaiming it? Well, how could that confession of his before the bishops have been true and real? Had he already written the book in which he most explicitly alleges that grace is bestowed on us according to our deserts -- the very position which he without any reservation condemned at that Synod in the East? Let him frankly acknowledge that he once held the opinion, but that he holds it no longer; so should we most frankly rejoice in his improvement. As it is, however, when, besides other objections, this one was laid to his charge which we are now discussing, he said in reply: |Whether these are the opinions of Coelestius or not, is the concern of those who affirm that they are. For my own part, indeed, I never entertained such views; on the contrary, I anathematize every one who does entertain them.| But how could he |never have entertained such views,| when he had already composed this work? Or how does he still |anathematize everybody who entertains these views,| if he afterwards composed this work?