The GOSPEL TRUTH
AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF
AUGUSTINISM AND PELAGIANISM
G. F. WIGGERS, D. D.
CHAPTER X: Transactions at Diospolis in respect to the heresies charged on Pelagius.
CHARGE 1. Pelagius has said in a book [his Capitula], that no man can be without sin, unless he have a knowledge of law. This being recited, the synod said: Did you put this forth, Pelagius?
PELAGIUS. I indeed said it; but not as they [the accusers] understand it. I have not said, that one cannot sin who has a knowledge of law, but the knowledge of law, is a help to refrain from sinning, as it is written. He has given them the law for an aid. This being heard, the synod said: What Pelagius has uttered is not alien from the church.
CHARGE II. Pelagius has said in the same book, that all are governed by their own will.
PELAGIUS. And this I said concerning freewill, which God aids when choosing good. But when man sins, he is himself in fault, as of freewill.
THE BISHOPS. Nor is this foreign from ecclesiastical doctrine.
CHARGE III. Pelagius has stated in his book, that in the day of judgment, the unjust and sinners shall not be spared, but shall be burned in eternal fire.
PELAGIUS replied, that he said this according to the gospel, where it is said of sinners, They shall go into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. And whoever thinks otherwise, is an Origenist.
THE SYNOD therefore said, that this was not foreign from the church.
CHARGE IV. It was objected to Pelagius, as if he wrote in his book, that evil does not come into the thoughts.
PELAGIUS. I have not so stated, but have said that a Christian ought to strive to commit no evil.
THE BISHOPS approved.
CHARGE. V. Pelagius has written that even the kingdom of heaven is promised in the Old Testament.
PELAGIUS. And this it is possible to prove from scripture. But heretics deny this, to the injury of the Old Testament. But, following the authority of the scriptures, I have said it; for it is written in the prophet Daniel (7:18), And the saints shall receive the kingdom of the Most High.
SYNOD. Nor is this foreign from ecclesiastical belief.
CHARGE VI. Pelagius has said, in the same book, that man may be without sin, if he will. And writing in a flattering way to a widow [probably Juliana, the mother of Demetrias], he has said: May piety, which has never found a place, find one in you. May justice, everywhere a stranger, find an abode in you. May truth, which no one now knows, become your inmate and friend. And may the law of God, which is despised by almost all men, be alone honored by you. And again to her: O thou happy and blessed, if justice, which is believed to exist only in heaven, may be found with you alone on earth. And in another book to her, after the prayer of our Lord and Savior, teaching how saints ought to pray, he says: He properly lifts up his hands, he pours forth prayer with a good conscience, who can say, Thou, Lord, knowest how holy and innocent and clean from all offensiveness and iniquity and rapine, are the hands I stretch forth to thee; how just and pure and free from all falsehood, the lips, with which I offer to you the supplication, that thou wouldst have mercy upon me.
PELAGIUS. I have indeed said, that man may be without sin, and keep God's commands, if he will. For this ability God has given him. But I have not said that any one can be found, from infancy to old age, who has never sinned; but, being converted from sin, by his own labor and God's grace he can be without sin; still, he is not by this immutable for the future. But the rest which they subjoin, is neither in my books nor have I ever said such things.
SYNOD. Since you deny your having written such things, will you anathematize those who hold to them?
PELAGIUS. I anathematize them as fools, not as heretics; for in fact, there is no doctrine there.
SYNOD. As Pelagius has now, with his own voice, anathematized some indefinite and foolish talk, and correctly answered, that man, by God's aid and grace, can be without sin, let him also answer to other points.
CHARGE VII. The principles of his disciple Caelestius, [for which he was condemned at the synod of Carthage], were charged upon Pelagius, viz: Adam was made mortal, who was to die whether he should sin or not. Adam's sin injured only himself, and not the human race. The law sends to heaven, just like the gospel. Before the advent of Christ, there were men without sin. Infants, just born, are in the same state in which Adam was before sin. Neither by the death or sin of Adam, do the whole human race die; nor by the resurrection of Christ, do the whole human race rise again. Certain other points were also urged against Pelagius, which were sent to me from Sicily, when the catholic brethren there were troubled with such questions, which I answered sufficiently, as I think, in a book addressed to Hilary (Ep. 157), who sent them to me in an epistle of his for advice. They are these. Man may be without sin, if he wills to be. Infants, although not baptized, have eternal life. Unless the rich who are baptized, renounce all, though they may have appeared to have done some good, it cannot be reckoned to them, nor will they be able to obtain the kingdom of God. To these objections, as the acts testify.
PELAGIUS thus replied. As to man's ability to be without sin, I have spoken before. But as to the points whether there were men without sin before the advent of the Lord, I have said, according to the testimony of the holy scriptures, that before the coming of Christ, some lived piously and righteously. But as for the other things, even according to their own testimony, they were not uttered by me, [but by Caelestius], and I am not bound to give satisfaction for them: but yet, for the satisfaction of the holy synod, I anathematize those who thus hold, or who ever have held.
SYNOD. On the forementioned points, Pelagius has sufficiently and properly given satisfaction, anathematizing those things which were not his.
CHARGE VIII. Pelagius has said, that the church here is without spot or wrinkle. [Augustine, however, gives this as an opinion of Caelestius. De Gest. 35].
PELAGIUS replied with vigilant circumspection. This was said by me; but so, because the church is purified by baptism from every spot and wrinkle, which the Lord wills so to remain.
SYNOD. This is also our opinion.
CHARGE IX; from a book of Caelestius. We do more than is commanded in the law and the gospel.
PELAGIUS. This they adduce as ours. But it was spoken by us of virginity, according to the apostle, concerning which Paul says: I have no commandment of the Lord.
SYNOD. This the church also receives.
CHARGE X; also from the book of Caelestius, [against the transmission of sin]. God's grace and aid are not given for separate acts, but consist in freewill, or in law and instruction. And again God's grace is given according to our merits; because, if he gave it to sinners, he would appear to be unjust. And in these words, he infers: Hence even the grace of God is placed in my will, whether I am worthy or unworthy. For if we do all things by grace, when we are conquered by sin we are not conquered, but the grace of God, which would aid us in every way, but cannot. And again he says: If it is the grace of God, when we conquer sins, then he is in fault when we are conquered by sin, because certainly he either could not or would not guard us.
PELAGIUS. Whether these are the opinions of Caelestius, let those see who say they are his. I never held so; but anathematize him who does hold so.
SYNOD. The holy synod receive you, while thus condemning reprobate words.
CHARGE XI; again from the book of Caelestius. The Pelagians affirm, that every man can possess all the virtues and graces, and they take away the diversity of graces which the apostle teaches.
PELAGIUS. This we have said. But they maliciously and foolishly find fault with it. For we do not remove the diversity of graces but we say, that God gives all the graces to him who is worthy to receive them, as he gave to the apostle Paul.
SYNOD. And consequently you have believed in the opinion of the church respecting the gift of the graces which are contained in the holy apostle.
When some of the bishops now murmured, and said, that Pelagius would maintain, that man could he perfect without God's aid, bishop John opposed this, and quoted, besides other passages, 1 Cor. 15:10. Rom. 9:16. Ps. 127:1. But they not being convinced, and still continuing to murmur, Pelagius said: I also believe. Anathema to him who says, that man can attain to all the virtues, without God's aid.
CHARGE XII; from the book of Caelestius.
1. Those cannot be called the sons of God, who have not become in every respect free from sin.
2. Forgetfulness and ignorance are not matters of sin, as they do not take place according to the will, but of necessity.
3. There is no freewill, if it needs God's aid; since every one has it in his own will either to do or not to do a thing.
4. Our victory is not from God's aid, but from freewill. This he is said to have maintained in these words: The victory is ours, because we have taken, up arms by our own will; as, on the other hand, it is ours when we are conquered, because, of our own will, we scorned to be armed.
5. He adduces the passage from the apostle Peter: We are partakers of the divine nature; and is said to have made this syllogism: If the soul cannot be without sin, then God is the subject of sin, since the soul, which is a part of him, is guilty of sin.
6. Pardon is granted to the penitent, not according to the grace and compassion of God, but according to the merits and labor of those who through penitence are worthy of compassion.
SYNOD. What says the monk Pelagius, here present, to these points which have been read? For this the holy synod reprobates, and the holy catholic church.
PELAGIUS. Again I say, that even according to their own testimony, these things are not mine; for which, as I said, I owe no satisfaction. What I have confessed to be mine, I affirm to be right. But what I have said are not mine, I reprobate according to the judgment of the holy church, and pronounce anathema on every one who contravenes and contradicts the doctrines of the holy catholic church. For I believe in the trinity of one substance, and all things according to the doctrine of the holy catholic church: and if any believes things foreign from her, let him be anathema.
SYNOD. Now, as satisfaction has been given us respecting the accusations against the monk Pelagius, here present, who indeed agrees in pious doctrines, and anathematizes what are contrary to the faith of the church, we acknowledge him to belong to the ecclesiastical and catholic communion.
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