Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 22 [XVI.]--Peter's Responsibility in the Case of Victor.
Far be it from you, my brother, that such views should be pleasant to you, or that you should either feel pleasure in having acquired them, or presume ever to teach them. Otherwise, even he would be a far better man than yourself. Because at the commencement of his first book he has prefixed the following modest and humble preface: |Though I desire to comply with your request, I am only affording a clear proof of my presumption.| And a little further on he says, |Inasmuch as I am, indeed, by no means confident of being able to prove what I may have advanced; and moreover I should always be anxious not to insist on any opinion of my own, if it is found to be an improbable one; and it would be my hearty desire, in case my own judgment is condemned, earnestly to follow better and truer views. For as it shows evidence of the best intention, and a laudable purpose, to permit yourself to be easily led to truer views of a subject; so it betokens an obstinate and depraved mind to refuse to turn quickly aside into the pathway of reason.| Now, as he said all this sincerely, and still feels as he spoke, he no doubt entertains a very hopeful feeling about a right issue. In similar strain he concludes his second book: |You must not think,| says he, |that there is any chance of its ever recoiling invidiously against you, that I constitute you the judge of my words. And lest by chance the sharp eye of some inquisitive reader may have opportunity of turning up and encountering any possible vestiges of elemental error which may be left behind on my illegal sheets, I beg you to tear up page after page with unsparing hand, if need be; and after expending on me your critical censure, punish me further, by smearing out the very ink which has given form to my worthless words; so that, having your full opportunity, you may prevent all ridicule, on the score either of the favourable opinion you so strongly entertain of me, or of the inaccuracies which lurk in my writings.|