IV. Supporting Evidence from St Augustine

But since the authority of the ancient Church is offensively brought against me, it is perhaps worth while to say at the outset how unjustly the truth of Christ is smothered by this enmity, partly in error and partly in frivolity. But I would rather disperse this accusation, such as it is, with the words of Augustine than with my own.[1] For the Pelagians at one time vexes this holy man with the same reproach, that he had against him all other writers of the Church. He replies first that, before the rise of Pelagius' heresy, the fathers did not teach so precisely and exactly about predestination; and this is a fact. What need is there therefore, he says, to scrutinise the works of those writers who, before the heresy arose, thought it unnecessary to devote themselves to this difficult question?; but this, I do not doubt, they would have done, if enemies of predestination had compelled them to do so. This reply is both wise and ingenious. For unless the enemies of the grace of God had not worried him, he would never have so devoted himself to discussion of God's election, as he says himself. For in the work which he entitles Concerning the Gift of Perseverance,[2] he says: This predestination of the saints is certain and manifest; but necessity later compelled me to defend it more diligently and laboriously, when discussing it against a new sect. For we have learned that each heresy introduces into the Church its own particular question; and Holy Scripture has to be de- fended more diligently against these, than if no such need compelled it. For what was it that compelled us in that work more fully and simply to defend the passages of Scripture in which predestination is set forth? It was what the Pelagians say, that the grace of God is given according to merit-which is nothing but the negation of grace. Moreover, a little earlier[3] he had denied that prejudice should attach to his books on the score of their lack of antiquity. I think no one, he says, can be so unjust and envious as to forbid me to contribute to this subject. But afterwards he also contends that from the testimony of certain fathers it could be gathered that they did not think differently from what he presently taught. Not to mention others, most obvious is the citation from Ambrose:[4] Whom Christ has merry on, He calls, And again, if He had so willed, He would have made devoted men out of careless; but God calls whom He condescends to call, and makes religious whom He will. Who does not see that the entire sum of the question is comprised in these few words? A reason is assigned why all do not come to Christ to obtain salvation: that God does not effectually touch their hearts. He declares that the conversion of a man proceeds out of the gratuitous election of God; nor does he hide the fact that the reason why some are called and some are reprobated lies solely within His will. -No one endowed with even mediocre judgment can fail to see that in these three summaries the state of the whole question is comprised and defined. Further, Augustine is so much at one with me that, if I wished to write a confession of my faith, it would abundantly satisfy me to quote wholesale from his writings. But, not to be too prolix on the present occasion, I shall be content with three or four passages by which it will be established that not even in a single point does he differ from me. From the whole course of the work, it could be established even more fully how solidly he agrees with me in every particular. In his work Concerning the Predestination of the Saints, he says[5] he contends against those who deny that the human race is born guilty of the sin of Adam, that the wills of men are prevented by the grace of God, and that no one is capable of beginning or completing any good work by himself. But what he rather wishes to do appears as the argument itself proceeds. For he goes on:[6] Lest anyone should say, my faith, my righteousness, or some- thing of the kind, distinguishes me from others, the great teacher of the Gentiles meets all such thoughts by saying: What hast thou that hast not received? (I Cor 4.7)-from whom, unless from Him who distinguishes you from others in not giving to them what He gave to you? He goes on:[7] Faith therefore from beginning to end is the gift of God; and that this gift is given to some and not to others, no one can at all doubt, unless he wish to contest the most manifest testimonies of Scripture. But why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the believer, for he believes that all came under most just condemnation by the sin of one; and why God delivers one man and not another are matters constituting His inscrutable judgments and His uninvestigable ways. Again,[8] if it be examined and enquired how anyone is worthy, there are some who will say: By their human will. But we say: By grace or divine predestination. Later he adds:[9] The Saviour and Son of God Himself is the most excellent luminary[10] of grace and predestination. For answer this: How did that Man merit being taken up by the Word into unity of person with the coeternal Father so as to be the only begotten Son of God?[11] What good work preceded in such a case as this? what prior good did He do? what believe? what prayer offer, that He should come to such dignity? Here someone or other may murmur against God, saying: Why should it not have been me?' Suppose the answer be given: O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Suppose that this does not restrain him and that his impudence increases and he says: What is this I hear, Who art thou, O man? since I am a man as He is of whom you speak, why am I not what He is? For by grace He is such and so great as He is. Why is grace different when the nature is the same? For certainly there is no acceptance of persons with God. What, I will not say Christian, [12] but madman would speak thus? Therefore, let our head appear as the origin of grace, which flows hence through all members, according to the measure of each. This is the predestination of the saints, which shines brightest in the Saint of saints. And a little later:[13] As He is the One predestined to be our head, so many of us are predestined to be His members. And lest anyone should attribute it to faith that one is preferred to another, Augustine denies that those who believe are chosen; rather they are chosen in order to believe. Similarly in Epistle to Syxtus:[14] Why does this man believe and that not? why does God deliver this man rather than that? - let him who can, search so great an abyss; but let him beware of the precipice. Again in another place:[15] Who created the reprobate but God? And why, unless He willed it? Why did He will it? - O man, who art thou that repliest against God? And again elsewhere,[16] after proving that God is moved by no human merit, in making them obedient to His commands, but renders them good for evil, for His own sake and not for theirs, he then adds: If any should ask why God should make some His sheep and not others, the apostle, fearing this question, exclaims: O the depth, etc. (Rom 11.33). just as Augustine derives the beginning of election from the gratuitous volition of God, and grounds reprobation in His mere will, so he teaches that the security of our salvation is also grounded nowhere else. For, writing to Paulinus,[17] he affirms that those who do not perseveres do not belong to the calling of God which is efficacious and without repentance. But why some persevere and others do not is a matter hidden but not unjust. For this belongs to the depth of His judgments, which are called judgments precisely lest we imagine them unjust. More fully in another work, he contends that perseverance is bestowed upon the elect and from it they can never fall away.[18] Why He should not give perseverance to those to whom He gives an inclination[19] to live in a Christian manner, I confess myself ignorant. For not in arrogance but in recognition of my limitations, I hear Paul saying: O man, who art thou? Again, when Christ asked that the faith of Peter should not fail, what else did He ask but that he should have a most free, strong, invincible and persevering determination in faith? Then he added: It is wonderful, very wonderful, that to certain sons of His, whom He regenerated in Christ and to whom He gave faith, hope and love, He should not also give perseverance, when He remits the misdeeds of other stranger sons and makes them His. Who will not marvel at this? who will not be greatly surprised? Certainly here the judgments of God, since they are just and profound, are not to be censured or penetrated. Among them is also that which we are discussing, concerning perseverance.[20] Of both therefore, we exclaim: O the depth! But earlier, he had said:[21] The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his (11 Tim 2.19). The faith of these, which works by love, either does not fail at all, or, if there be any in whom it does fail, it is restored before this life is ended; the iniquity which interrupted it is removed, and their perseverance is reckoned up to the end. But those who are not destined to persevere and thus fall away from Christian faith, so that the end of life finds them in this state, are without doubt not reckoned in that number, even at the time when they lived we'll and piously. For they were not separated by the foreknowledge of God and predestination from the mass of perdition, and therefore were not called according to the purpose. But lest anyone be disturbed[22] because those sometimes fall away who had been thought the sons of God, he meets the perplexity thus:[23] Let no one think that those fall away who were of the predestined, called according to the purpose and truly sons of the promise. For those who appear to live piously may be called sons of God; but since they will eventually live impiously and die in that impiety, God does not call them sons in His foreknowledge. There are sons of God who do not yet appear so to us, but now do so to God; and there are those who, on account of some arrogated or temporal grace, are called so by us, but are not so to God. Those who are ordained to life are understood to be given to Christ. These are predestined and called according to the purpose, of whom none perishes; and on this account, no one, though he change from good to bad, ends his life so. For he is ordained and hence given to Christ that he should not perish but have eternal life. A little later Augustine says: Those who by the most provident disposition of God are foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified, are the sons of God, not only before they were regenerated, but before they were born at all, and they are quite unable to perish.[24] Then he assigns the reason: Because God works all things together for good to such as these, and this to such a degree that, if any of them deviate or wander, He makes even this turn to their advantage, for they return to Him more humble and experienced than before. If the thing be taken to a higher level and the question be raised about the creation of man, Augustine meets it thus:[25] - We make most sound confession of what we most rightly believe, that God the Lord of all things, who made all things very good, foreknew that evil would arise out of this good, and also knew that it contributed more to His glory to bring good out of evil than not to allow evil at all; so He ordained the life of men and angels so that in it He might first show what freewill could do, and then what the gift of His grace and the judgment of His justice could do. In his Manual to Laurentius[26] he at greater length settles all residual doubt. When in the last day, he says, Christ shall appear to judge the world, then what the faith of the pious now holds fast before it is manifest to their comprehension, will appear in the clearest light of knowledge - how sure, immutable and efficacious is the will of God; how many things He can do but does not will to do, while willing nothing that He cannot do; and how true is what the Psalmist sings in Ps 115.3: Our God hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. This would certainly not be true if He willed some things and did not do them. Nothing therefore is done unless He omnipotently willed it should be done, either by permitting it to be done or by doing it Himself. Nor may it be doubted that God did well iii permitting to be done all that is ill done. For this is not permitted except by righteous judgment. Hence, though the things that are evil, in so far as they are evil, are not good, yet it is good that there be not only good but also evil things. For unless there were this good, that evil things existed, they would by no means be permitted to exist by omnipotent goodness. For without doubt it is as easy for Him to do what He wills as to permit what He does not will. Unless we believe this, we imperil the beginning of our faith, by which we confess belief in God almighty. Augustine then adds this conclusion:[27] These are the mighty works of God, excellent in all His acts of will, and so excellent in wisdom that when angelic and human creation had sinned, that is had done not what He willed but what it willed, God, through the same creaturely will which did what the creator did not will, nevertheless fulfilled what He willed, Himself superlatively good using for good even evil things to the damnation of those whom He had justly pre- destined to punishment and to the salvation of those whom He had mercifully predestined to grace. For so far as they were oncerned, they did what was contrary to God's will; but as far as the omnipotence of God is concerned, they did not succeed in effecting it. In their very acting against the will of God, the will of God concerning them was none the less done. Mighty therefore, are the works of God and excellent in all His acts of will, so that in a marvellous and ineffable way that cannot be done without His will which is yet done contrary to His will. For it would not be done if He did not permit it, and permission is given not without but by His will. These few references are extracted out of many, so that the reader may clearly see[28] what modesty Pighius has in opposing Augustine to us so as to claim him as ally in his errors. As the discussion continues, further use will be made of the testimony of this holy man.

[1] De Praedest. Sanct., cap. 14.

[2] Cap. 20 [cited here and elsewhere in C.R. as De Bono Perseverantiae].

[3] Cap. 12.

[4] Cap. 19.

[5] Cap. 1.

[6] Cap. 5.

[7] Cap. 9.

[8] Cap. 10.

[9] Cap. 15.

[10] French has: mirror.

[11] French has: did He merit that this human nature which He took should be united in the same person to the eternal wisdom of God, etc.

[12] French has: miscreant.

[13] Cap. 17.

[14] Ep. 105 (Migne 194); Beza and Amst. have: Sextus; the French version: Sixt.

[15] Epistle to Boniface, 106 (Migne 186) [the letter seems, however, to be by Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus].

[16] Ad Bonif., lib. 4, cap. 6.

[17] Ep. 59 (Migne 149).

[18] De Corrept. et Grat. ad Valent., cap. 8.

[19] French has: some good inclination (the rest omitted).

[20] This phrase is wanting in the French version.

[21] Cap. 7 of the same book.

[22] perturbet in all Latin versions, but perturbetur is certainly to be read (French: that no one be troubled).

[23] Cap. 9.

[24] Almost all that is here taken from Augustine is expressed more briefly and shortly in the French version.

[25] De Corrept. et Grat., cap. 10.

[26] Cap. 95 seq.

[27] Ibid., cap. 100.

[28] French has: as a preparatory lesson, so that they de not reject as novel what they will see to have been so well expressed by this sacred doctor, and also that they may recognise how closely I am in accord with him (the rest omitted).