A Treatise on Nature and Grace, against Pelagius;
by Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo;
Contained in One Book, addressed to Timasius and Jacobus.
written in the year of our lord 415.
He begins with a statement of what is to be investigated concerning nature and grace; he shows that nature, as propagated from the flesh of the sinful Adam, being no longer what God made it at first,—faultless and sound,—requires the aid of grace, in order that it may be redeemed from the wrath of God and regulated for the perfection of righteousness: that the penal fault of nature leads to a most righteous retribution: whilst grace itself is not rendered to any deserts of ours, but is given gratuitously; and they who are not delivered by it are justly condemned. He afterwards refutes, with answers on every several point, a work by Pelagius, who supports this self-same nature in opposition to grace; among other things especially, in his desire to recommend the opinion that a man can live without sin, he contended that nature had not been weakened and changed by sin; for, otherwise, the matter of sin (which he thinks absurd) would be its punishment, if the sinner were weakened to such a degree that he committed more sin. He goes on to enumerate sundry righteous men both of the Old and of the New Testaments: deeming these to have been free from sin, he alleged the possibility of not sinning to be inherent in man; and this he attributed to God’s grace, on the ground that God is the author of that nature in which is inseparably inherent this possibility of avoiding sin. Towards the end of this treatise there is an examination of sundry extracts from old writers, which Pelagius adduced in support of his views, and expressly from Hilary, Ambrose, and even Augustin himself.
S. AURELII AUGUSTINI HIPPONENSIS EPISCOPI DE NATURA ET GRATIA AD TIMASIUM ET JACOBUM CONTRA PELAGIUM LIBER UNUS .
Principio ponitur quid de natura et gratia exploratum sit: Naturam scilicet ex Adae praevaricatoris carne propagatam, quia jam non qualem Deus primitus condiderat, inculpabilem et sanam, gratiae auxilio, quo et ab ira Dei redimatur, et ad justitiam perficiendam regatur, indigere. Naturae poenale vitium ad vindictam justissimam pertinere: ipsam autem gratiam non meritis reddi, sed gratis dari; et qui non per eam liberantur, juste damnari. Mox Pelagii eidem naturae contra gratiam patrocinantis liber, responsis ad singulos apices redditis confutatur; inter alia praecipue quod posse esse hominem sine peccato, suadere cupiens, naturam per peccatum debilitatam et mutatam non esse contendat; alioquin materiam peccati (quod absurdum putat) vindictam fore, si ad hoc peccator infirmatus est, ut plura peccaret. Praeterea quod commemoratis justis cum Veteris tum Novi Testamenti, quos peccato caruisse sentit, dicat possibilitatem non peccandi homini a natura inesse; eamque ideo gratiae Dei tribuendam, quia illius naturae Deus auctor est, cui ea non peccandi possibilitas inseparabiliter insita sit. Veterum denique, quas pro se Pelagius adducit, ac nominatim Hilarii, Ambrosii, ipsius quoque Augustini, sententiae expenduntur.