The GOSPEL TRUTH
AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF
AUGUSTINISM AND PELAGIANISM
G. F. WIGGERS, D. D.
CHAPTER XVI: Augustine's theory of predestination. Pelagian view of foreordination.
In harmony with the rest of his anthropological system, Augustine taught the following in respect to predestination.
1. By Adam's sin the whole human race became a corrupt mass (perditionis massa), and justly subject to eternal damnation, so that no one can blame God's righteous decision, if none are saved from perdition. But few, in comparison with those that are lost, (though many in themselves), are freed, by the grace of God, from the righteous condemnation. The rest are left to the deserved punishment.
"That whole mass would have received the reward of a righteous damnation, if the potter, not only just but also merciful, did not form some vessels to honor by grace, not by debt; while he aids infants, of whom no merit can be named, and aids adults that they may be able to have some merits." Ep. 190, c. 3. "The dominion of death has so far prevailed over men, that the deserved punishment would drive all headlong into a second death likewise, of which there is no end, if the undeserved grace of God did not deliver them from it." De Civ. Dei, XIV. 1. "But why faith," (the condition of salvation), "is not given to all, need not move the faithful, who believes that by one all came into a condemnation, doubtless the most just; so that there would be no just complaining of God, though no one should be freed. Hence it appears that the grace of God is great, as very many are freed and behold, in those who are not freed, what would be due to themselves, so that he that glories, should not glory in his own merits, (which he sees to be equalled in the damned), but in the Lord." De Praed. Sanct. 8. "Of that corrupt mass which sprung from the first Adam, no one can be freed but he who has received the gift through the grace of the Savior." De Cor. et Gr. 7. "Because by freewill Adam deserted God, he received the righteous sentence of God, that he should be condemned, together with his whole race, which, being as yet all placed in him, had sinned with him. For as many of this stock as are freed, are certainly freed from condemnation by which they were then held bound. Hence if even no one were freed, no one would justly blame God's righteous decision. That a few, therefore, (in comparison with those that perish, though in their own number many), are freed, is of grace, is gratuitous, thanks are to be rendered for it, lest any one should be exalted as it were on account of his own merits, but that every mouth may be stopped, and he that glorieth may glory in the Lord." 10.
2. Deliverance from just condemnation, is the consequence of election or Predestination to salvation. This took place before the creation of the world, from free grace, without any respect to the moral character of man.
Augustine consequently admitted an eternal, unconditional decree of God. According to him, no mention could be made of merit, since all men by nature, according to his assumption, are a mass of corruption throughout, and the power to good is wanting in them all. But grace, with him, was irresistible.
"Not by merit, (for the whole mass was condemned as it were in the vitiated root), but by grace, God elected a definite number." De Civ. Dei, XIV. 26. "He works all in the elect, who has made them vessels of mercy, who also chose them in his son, before the creation of the world, by the election of grace, not by their preceding merits, for grace is all their merit." De Cor. et Gr. 7. "Not because we have believed, but that we might believe, has God elected us; and not because we have believed, but that we might believe, are we called." De Praed. Sanct. 19. "This is election, that God has chosen whom he would, in Christ, before the creation of the world, that they should be holy and unspotted before him, as he predestinated them to the adoption of children." De Dono Persv. 18. "In order that we might receive love with which to love, we were loved, while as yet we had it not. This says the Apostle John very clearly, Not that we loved God, but because he first loved us." De Gr. Chr. 26.
Augustine also incidentally remarked before, in his first work against the Pelagians, that God's grace and Spirit, which bloweth where it listeth, passes by no kind of natural endowment. And for the purpose of illustrating the wonderful calling of God, he adduces the example of one born almost as destitute of sense as the brutes, who, he says, "was still so much of a Christian that although with wonderful fatuity he patiently bore all his own injuries, yet the injury of Christ's name or of religion in himself, with which he was imbued, he was so unable to endure as not to refrain from stoning those dear to him, when he heard them blaspheming in order to provoke him, nor in this cause did he spare even his masters. Such therefore, I think, were predestinated and created, in order that those who can may understand, that God's grace and spirit [perhaps the same as gracious spirit], which bloweth where it listeth, does not, on this account, pass by any kind of mind, in the children of mercy and likewise that it does pass by every kind of mind (omne ingenii genus) in the children of hell, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord." De Pec. Mer. I. 22.
Remark. Augustine presented the relation of predestination to grace in such a way as to make the latter the effect of the former. It need not be suggested, that he here takes grace in his own sense, i.e., for supernatural gracious influence. Grace with him was the actual impartation itself, which was foreordained by predestination. "Between grace and predestination, there is only this difference, that predestination is the preparation of grace, while grace is the conferment itself. And thus what the apostle says, Not of works, lest any one should he exalted, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, is grace; but what follows, viz., Which God before prepared that we should walk in them, is predestination; which predestination cannot be without prescience; but prescience may be without predestination. For by predestination, God foreknew those things which himself would do. But he is able to foreknow what he does not do, as all sins. God's predestination, which is in good (quae in bono est), as I said, is the preparation of grace; but grace is the effect of predestination itself." De Praed. Sanct. 10. Here we see how Augustine thought of the separation of predestination from prescience. Predestination with him was that kind of divine prescience which relates to what God does himself. He did not therefore consider every part of God's foreknowledge as predeterminate, because he still held fast the idea of man's original freedom. "In his foreknowledge (which cannot be deceived and changed) to arrange his future works, this exactly and nothing else is it, to predestine (praedestinare)." De Dono Persev. 17. "This and nothing else is the predestination of the saints, viz., the foreknowledge and the preparation of the benefits of God, by which most certainly are freed all who are freed." 14.
3. God employs means to effect the salvation of the elect. They received baptism. Opportunity is afforded them to hear the gospel. When they hear it, they believe. They persevere in faith, which is active through love, to the end. And if at any time they swerve, they are reformed by rebuke. Nay, even their swerving is directed to their best good. They are justified by the blood of the Mediator, freed from the power of darkness, and brought into the kingdom of Christ.
"For those therefore, who are separated from that original condemnation, by this free gift of divine grace, the hearing of the gospel will doubtless be provided; and when they hear, they believe and they persevere to the end in faith which works by love. And if at any time they deviate, being reproved they are reformed; and some of them, though not reproved by men, return to the path they left; and a few having received the grace [baptism], at whatever age, are removed by speedy death from the dangers of this life." De Cor. et Gr. 7. "For such as love God, he works all things for good; so absolutely all, that if any of them deviate and wander, he causes even this to work for their good, as they return the more humble and wise." 9. "To the number of the saints predestinated, the mercy of their Savior abides--alike when converted, when in conflict, or when crowned." 13. "The children of perdition, God punishes in wrath; but the children of grace, he punishes in grace, for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." De Pec. Mer. 11. 16. And thus too, according to Augustine, as shown by the preceding passages, the children predestinated to salvation, receive baptism before they die, while others die without it. "When the Father is internally heard and teaches that men should come to the Son, he takes away the stony heart and gives the heart of flesh. For so he makes sons and the vessels of mercy which he has prepared unto glory." De Praed. Sanct. S. "Men are not elected on account of their merit, but through the grace of the Mediator; that is, they are freely justified through the blood of the second Adam." De Cor. et Gr. 7. "God's mercy precedes man, that he may be freed from the evils which he has done, and which he would do if not ruled by God's grace, and which he would eternally suffer if not delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of God's love." 13. Hence Augustine called the elect also, "Elect to rule with Christ, elect to obtain the kingdom of Christ." 7.
4. Election is certain and unchangeable, because it is made without any condition. Hence no one is missing from that definite and happy number; no one of them is lost. And hence no one who has wandered from the path of goodness, dies before he returns to it, for he is so committed to Christ, that he shall not be lost, but have eternal life.
"The number of those who are predestinated to the kingdom of God, is so certain, that not one shall be either added to them or taken from them. The number of the saints predestinated by the grace of God to the kingdom of God, by perseverance given them to the end, shall there be brought entire (integer), and there, now most secure and happy, shall be kept without end." De Cor. et Gr. 13. "There are sons of God who do not yet belong to us, but they already belong to God; of whom the evangelist John says, that Jesus was about to die--that he might gather together in one the dispersed sons of God; who were surely to believe by the preaching of the gospel, and yet before it was done, were already immutably enrolled as sons of God, in their Father's book of remembrance. These therefore are understood to be given to Christ, who were ordained to eternal life. They are the predestinated and called according to the purpose, of whom no one is lost. And accordingly no one of them ends this life, changed from good to evil; for he is so ordained and therefore given to Christ, that he shall not perish but have eternal life. Whoever therefore, in God's most provident arrangement, are foreknown, called, justified, and glorified, already God's children, and can by no means perish, although, I do not say not yet born again, but not yet born at all. These truly come to Christ, because they so come as he has said, All that the Father hath given me shall come to me." 9. "If any one of those predestinated and foreknown, perishes, God is deceived; but no one of them perishes, for God is not deceived. If any one of them perishes, God is conquered by human depravity; but no one of them perishes, for God is conquered by nothing. The faith of these, which works by love, either never fails at all, or if there are some whom it fails, it is revived again before life is finished, and the iniquity, which intervened, being blotted out, perseverance to the end is reckoned (deputatur). But those who shall not persevere, and shall so fall from Christian faith and conversation, that the end of this life shall find them such beyond a doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of the elect, even for the time in which they lived well and piously. For they were not separated from that mass of perdition by God's foreknowledge and predestination, and therefore not called according to the purpose, and consequently not elected." 7. Hence,
5. Perseverance is a special gift to the elect, which is afforded to all the elect and to none but the elect.
"They who are called according to the purpose, persevere in the love of God to the end: and those who deviate for a time, return, that they may bring to the end what they began in good." De Cor. et Gr. 9. "Those who, having heard the gospel, and being changed for the better, have not received perseverance, have not been selected from that mass which is evidently condemned." 7. "Nor need it move us, that God does not give that perseverance to some of his sons. God forbid that it should be so, if they were of those elected and called according to the purpose and who are truly the sons of the promise. If they had been, they would have a true and not a false righteousness. But the Apostle, when showing what it is to be called according to the purpose, presently adds: For whom he foreknew and predestinated conformable to the image (predestinavit conformes imaginis) of his son, that he might be the first born among many brethren. But whom he predestinated, them he also called, i.e., according to the purpose," etc. 9. "He, therefore, makes them persevere in good, who makes them good. But those who fall and perish, were not in the number of the predestinated. To the elect, are given both the ability and the will to persevere, by the free conferment of divine grace." 12. "It is necessary that this should remain a secret" (as to what individuals belong to the elect and shall persevere to the end), "so that no one may be elated, but that all, even those who run well, may fear, while it is a secret as to what ones will reach the mark. On account of the benefit of this secret, therefore, it is to be believed that some of the sons of perdition, not having received the gift of persevering to the end. begin to live in the faith which works by love, and live for a while devoutly and righteously, and afterwards fall: but they are not taken from this life before this happens." 13. "It is on account of the benefit of this fear, in order that after we are regenerated and have begun to live piously, we may still not think ourselves safe, that some who will not persevere are, by the permission or foreknowledge and arrangement of God, mingled with those who shall persevere. By their fall, he moves us, with fear and trembling, to walk the right way, till we pass from this life to another, where pride is no longer to be subdued, and seductions and temptations are no longer to be encountered." Ep. 194. c. 4. Compare the whole of the first part of the book On the Gift of Perseverance, in which Augustine endeavors to prove, that perseverance in Christ to the end, is a gift of God without reference to the merits of those who receive it.
It appears, at the same time, from the passages adduced, that in respect to the elect, Augustine held to a "vocation according to the purpose." Vocation he considered twofold; one general, which extends to all to whom the gospel is preached; and one, particular, which is afforded only to the elect. Hence he says, "All who are called, are not of course chosen." De Cor. et Gr. 7. He presents his opinion with peculiar clearness, in the following passage: "God calls his many predestinated sons, that he may make them members of his predestinated and only begotten Son, not with the vocation by which they were called who would not come to the marriage feast for with that vocation, even the Jews were called, to whom Christ crucified is a stumbling block; and also the heathen, to whom the Crucified is foolishness. But he calls the predestinated by that vocation which the apostle designated, saying, that he preached Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God, to the called, both Jews and Greeks. For he says, To the called, in order to show that the others were not the called; knowing that there is a kind of definite call (quandam certam vocationem) of those who are called according to the purpose, whom He foreknew and predestinated to be like the image of his Son." De Praed. Sanct. 16.
Finally; as Augustine distinguished between "being able not to sin," and not being able to sin," and between "being able not to die," and not being able to die;" so he made a distinction between "being able not to desert good," and "not being able to desert good." The ability to persevere, was found in Adam in paradise, who had freewill. The inability to apostatize, is now, since freewill is lost, a gift of grace for the elect. A complete assurance of participation in this grace, the full persuasion that one can never fall, is however first found in the blessed in the future life. De Cor. et Gr. 11, 12, 13.
6. The final reason of the salvation of man, then, lies simply in the will of God. If God willed that all men should be saved, all would be saved; for no will of man withstands God's will to save.
"Why then does he not teach all so that they come to Christ? Because he has mercy on whom he will, and pardons whom he will." De Praed. Sanct. 8. "Grace frees from the condemnation of the whole mass those whom it does free;" which means nothing else but that God frees whom he pleases to free. Op. Imp. 1. 127. "When, by chastisement, men either come into the path of righteousness or return to it, who works salvation in their hearts but that God who gives the increase, whoever may plant or water, and whoever may labor in the fields or the vineyards? whose will to save, no freewill of men resists. For to will or to refuse, is so in the power of him that wills or refuses, as not to impede the divine will nor surpass its power. For even in the case of those who do what he does not will, he does what he will. And even respecting the very wills of men, he does what he will, when he will." De Cor. et Gr. 14. "By his merciful goodness, God leads some to repentance, while, by his righteous judgment, he does not lead others to it. For he has the power to lead and draw, as the Lord himself says, No man cometh unto me unless the Father that hath sent me, draw him." C. Jul. V. 4. "Two children are born. If you ask what they deserve, both belong to the mass of perdition. But why does the mother bring one to the "race [to baptism], and suffocate the other in her sleep? Can you tell me what the one merited which was brought to baptism, and what offence the other had committed, whom the mother suffocated in her sleep? Neither has deserved any good. But the potter has power of the same mass to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor." Sermo 26, de Verb. Ap. c. 12, preached against the Pelagian heresy.
In a work not against the Pelagians, Augustine says incidentally that, by receiving a large number of men to heaven, God would supply the chasm occasioned by the loss of the fallen angels. Enchir. c. 29.
7. Since the final reason of the salvation of man, lies in the will of God, he, to whom salvation is not imparted, is not saved because God did not extend the decree of salvation to him. There is, however, only one unconditional decree, and this refers to the elect, not to the reprobate. The final reason of damnation, therefore, does not he in the absolute will of God, but in Adam's sin or original sin. Whoever is damned, is not damned because God willed his damnation, but because Adam sinned, and the sin of Adam, as a merited punishment, came upon all men, for by this also come even their own sins. By Adam's sin, the whole human race became an object of God's deserved abhorrence; and hence in his righteousness he must condemn them. In his goodness, he determined to save a few by grace. The deserved ruin comes on all the rest. But why he frees this man from the condemned mass, but not that, and consequently displays his goodness in this, and his justice in that, this question belongs to the unsearchable counsels of God, as does also the question, why God does not afford perseverance to those whom he causes to live in a Christian way for a length of time.
As Augustine taught, that all men would be saved if God willed it, so he could not deny, that many would not be saved because the almighty divine will has not willed their salvation. Hence he says, in reference to children who die before baptism: "Many are not saved, not because themselves do not will, but because God does not will it." Ep. 197. c. 6. But this always means only so many as the decree of election does not reach. That Augustine considered those who will not be saved, as damned on account of Adam's sin, in which the whole race have participated, may be seen from the passages now to be adduced for Augustine's opinions just stated.
"Grace frees, from the damnation of the whole mass, those whom it does free, which you are heretics for denying. But respecting the merit of origin, all are in condemnation from one; but in respect to grace, which is not given by merit, whoever are freed from this condemnation, are called vessels of mercy; but on those who are not freed, the wrath of God abides, coming from the just judgment of God; which procedure is not to be complained of because inscrutable. And they are furthermore called vessels of wrath, because God also uses them for a good purpose, that he may make known the riches of his glory in the vessels of mercy. For what is exacted of others, God being the judge, is forgiven to them by his mercy. Which unsearchable ways of the Lord, if thou wouldst esteem culpable, hear, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" Op. Imp. 1. 127. "But well might it appear unjust, that they become vessels of wrath for perdition, if this whole mass from Adam, were not condemned. That they therefore become vessels of wrath even from birth, pertains to deserved punishment. But that by being born again, they become vessels of mercy, pertains to unmerited grace." So Augustine expressed himself, about the year 418, in a letter to Optatus. Ep. 190. c. 3. "To whom grace is not imparted, to them it is not imparted through the just judgment of God." Ep. 217. c. 5. "They who do not belong to that definite and most happy number--either lie under the sin which they originally contracted by generation, and go hence with that hereditary debt, which is not forgiven through regeneration, or they also add others by freewill: a will, I say, free, but not freed; free of righteousness, but the slave of sin (peccati servum), by which they are hurried along through diverse noxious passions, some more, others less; but all are evil, and according to this diversity are to be sentenced to different punishments: or they receive the grace of God, but endure only for a time, and do not persevere. They desert and are deserted. For they are abandoned to freewill by the just and secret decision of God, not having received the gift of perseverance." De Cor. et Gr. 13. "But why God frees this one rather than that, is his unsearchable judgments and his incomprehensible ways. And here too it is better that we hear or say, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" De Praed. Sanct. 8. "If I am here asked why God has not given perseverance to those to whom he has given the love by which to live in a Christian way (Christiane), I reply, I do not know. Inscrutable are his judgments and unsearchable his ways." De Cor. et Gr. 8.
This is the hard predestination theory of Augustine, shocking to the moral feeling of every unbiased mind. Augustine therefore admitted all those consequences which flow from the decree of election; that those whom God has not predestinated to salvation, cannot possibly be saved, from which it then follows, that those whom he has predestinated to it, must at all events be saved; that many men may have truly reformed, and yet were damned, because God did not find it good to have them persevere in good; that the others, to whom the cross of Christ is foolishness, would have come to Christ, if the Father had taught them, in order that they might come to him;--nay, he assiduously sets forth these consequences, in his books On the Predestination of the Saints, and On the Gift of Perseverance, as if he intended, by the frequent repetition, to harden himself against their shockingness.
He proceeded, however, more philosophically than Calvin and Beza, in this respect, that he did not extend the eternal decree to damnation also. According to him, as has been shown, those who are damned are not damned because God from eternity decreed their damnation, but because they sinned in Adam. So the justice of God could still be defended, at least in appearance. All men might even have been saved, if Adam had not sinned. How we all shared in Adam's sin, it may indeed be difficult enough to explain; but the punishment for this participation, cannot be unjust, for there is no unrighteousness with God. But why God frees one from eternal perdition, and not another; why God affords this unmerited grace to one, and not to another; nay, what is still more inscrutable, why he causes one of two pious persons to persevere, and not the other, on these questions, we cannot venture to dispute with God. "One is taken and another is left, because great is God's grace and true is God's justice." Op. Imp. I. 39. This was the view which Augustine held fast and very acutely defended against his opponents.
Passages are indeed found in Augustine's writings, in which, (induced by declarations of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testament, which he explained in the severest sense of the words, without regard to the occasion and object of the particular writers, and therefore often falsely), he supposed it necessary to admit, that God so operates on the hearts of men, that they are led to wickedness as a punishment. But it must here be considered, as one part of the thing, that, according to Augustine, the very withholding of divine aid, leads to evil, for without it, man can do nothing good (C. d. Epp. Pel. 1. 18); and as another part, that Augustine considered it as a punishment annexed by God to sin, that man is led by one sin to another still greater, where Julian admitted barely a divine permission. C. Jul. V. 3. In relation to this, he said, to the Adrumetian monks, "When you read in the scriptures of truth, that men are seduced by God, or their hearts hardened or made dull, do not doubt that their evil merits precede, so that they justly suffer these things." De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 21. We should recollect this, when Augustine hazards the expression, respecting the traitor Judas, that he had been chosen "in judgment to the shedding of the blood of Christ." De Cor. et Gr. 7. Besides, he referred this only to a particular act, and by no means intended to assert with it an "absolute decree of reprobation." And when, in the homilies on John's gospel, (e.g. tract. 48), the expression occurs, "predestinated to eternal death," and (in De Pec. Mer. 11. 17), "predestinated to be damned," and when furthermore (De An. et ejus Orig. IV. 11), Augustine speaks of those whom God has foreordained to eternal death, and in other places, of those whom he has predestinated to righteous punishment, he meant not an absolute and unconditional, but a conditional predestination. For since, by his theory, the reason for condemning lies not in the unconditional will of God, but in original sin, there might perhaps be in God a foreknowledge that the condemnation would follow; or, (if one would employ the human expression respecting God), a decree of condemnation induced by his foreknowledge, but not of foreordination to it. He himself says (De Perf. Just. Hom. 13), that God's prescience has decided concerning those destined to perdition. And, as he says in his fifty-third homily, God does not compel any one to sin by his foreknowing the future sins of men; or, as he expresses himself (De Civ. Dei, V. 10), man does not sin in consequence of God's foreknowing that he will sin. And in the passage quoted from his fourth book on the soul, he pronounces God, in respect to those destined to eternal death, "the most righteous awarder of punishment;" just as he says (De Pec. Mer. II. 17), that the reason why grace does not aid some, lies in themselves and not in God, because they are appointed to perdition "for the iniquity of pride."
In Ep. 190. c. 3, Augustine explains himself on the following questions, among others, viz., why should any be born, except those whom God has designed for salvation? and why does he call only these, in the present life, and not the others on whom the deserved punishment falls? God thereby shows his goodness, which would remain hid if no one received the righteous punishment; and he also shows his power, because he uses the wicked in a proper way. In this sense, Augustine calls God "the disposer of the wicked (peccatorum ordinatorem)." Conff. I. 10. Their wickedness, too, is for the discipline and warning of the good, etc. And an incomparably greater multitude (incomparabili multitudine plures) are lost, that it may be shown, by the multitudes of the reprobate, how lightly God esteems even so great a number of the most righteously condemned. God does not create one of them unadvisedly and without design, nor is he ignorant of the good to be effected by them; for good is thus effected by his creating human nature in them and adorning by them the order of the present world." C. Jul. V. 4. "Even the patience of God towards the sons of perdition, is not in vain nor fruitless; for it is necessary in order to profit those whom God selects from the mass of perdition, not by human merit, but by divine grace; since they give thanks either because they are separated from them, or, while by God's arrangement they are born of those who are to perish, they are not to perish." Op. Imp. IV. 131. "God shows the freed what he bestows on them, not merely by themselves but also by those who are not freed. For each one then sees himself delivered from evils, not by merited but by gratuitous goodness, when he is freed from the society of those men with whom he might justly have shared a common punishment. Why, then, should not God create those whom he foreknew would sin? since in them and by them he might show both what their guilt deserves and what is conferred by his grace; nor, under him as creator and disposer, would the perverse disorder of the delinquents, pervert the right order of things." De Civ. Dei, XIV. 26. "Those who have chosen the part of iniquity and have corrupted their commendable nature by a culpable will, ought by no means not to have been created, on account of their being foreknown. For even they have their place, which they fill to the benefit of the saints. For God needs not the righteousness of any virtuous man whatever; how much less the iniquity of the perverse," etc. [Reference omitted]. Comp. Ep. 156. c. 7.
[It may be well to add, in this connection, the following. "Sinners, both angels and men, do nothing by which the great works of the Lord are impeded. For he who providentially and omnipotently distributes to each his own, knows how rightly to use not only the good but even the evil. And consequently why should not God, rightly using the evil angel, (now so condemned and hardened for the desert of the first bad affection, that he would never afterwards have a good volition), permit the first man, who had been created righteous, i.e., with a good will, to be tempted by him? When, therefore, God was not ignorant of his future fall, why should he not permit him to be tempted by the malignity of the envious angel? by no means indeed uncertain that he would be conquered, but nevertheless foreknowing that this same devil would be conquered by his seed, aided by his grace, with greater glory of the saints. It was so done that nothing future should be hid from God, nor that he should compel any one to sin by his foreknowing; and he would show, by the consequent experience, to the angelic and human creation, the difference between confiding to his tuition, and to their own presumption. For who would dare to believe or say, that it was not in the power of God that neither angel nor man should fall? But he preferred not to take it out of their power; and thus to show both how much evil their pride, and how much good his grace, would effect." De Civ. Dei, XIV. 27. According to this passage, did not Augustine consider both the divine purpose and the divine agency as extending to all sin just as truly as to holiness? though the agency is not exerted in the same way; nor does the purpose find its ultimate object either in the sin or in its punishment. TR.]
Finally, Augustine would have his predestination theory treated with proper caution, in public discourses. One should not say to the unversed multitude, "Whether you run or sleep, you will only be what the Infallible has foreseen you will be." Instead of that, he should express himself thus "So run that ye may obtain; and that you may yourselves know by your running, that you were so foreknown that you would run right." Instead of saying, "The rest of you, who remain in the love of sin, have not yet arisen because the aid of compassionate grace has not yet raised you," one can well and properly express himself thus; "If any of you still remain in the love of damnable sins, embrace the most salutary discipline. But when you have done this, do not boast as if it were by your works, or glory as if you had not received it; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure," etc. De Dono Persv. 22. Thus, by a mitigating presentation, would Augustine veil what is revolting in his theory of predestination--what he felt himself; and its offensiveness to every man whose head and heart have not been corrupted by the school, was to be removed.
As yet the question has not been presented, whether Augustine was a sublapsarian or a supralapsarian. He is commonly considered as a sublapsarian. But the question itself in its import, belongs to a later theory, which was unknown to Augustine; and hence we are in danger of not rightly apprehending his meaning, if we regard him either as a sublapsarian or a supralapsarian. Augustine would have been sufficiently shy of adopting the sublapsarian opinion, which the synod of Dort professed two hundred years ago, according to which God first determined after the fall of Adam, to save some of the fallen. A philosophical mind, like Augustine, could not maintain anything so. By this doctrine, the condition of time is transferred to God, and besides this, a change in his will is admitted. For by this doctrine, a decree is supposed to have been made at the creation of the world, to save all men, which was afterwards changed. We might rather call Augustine a supralapsarian, in as much as he held, that God had decreed from eternity the salvation of some, and consequently before the fall of Adam. Only we must be cautious of attributing to him the supralapsarian opinion of Calvin, who referred the unconditional decree of God, formed before the fall, even to the reprobate, and by which therefore, if this doctrine is to be consistently pursued further, God is made the author of Adam's transgression.
[But what, after all, is the difference which our author, or Augustine, or any one else, would make between an unconditional decree to suffer satan to make what was foreknown as a fatal temptation to Adam, and an unconditional decree extending to Adam's sin itself? To decree the certain means, and that too with the design that the end should take place, is probably all which Augustine or even Calvin ever meant by a decree in any case, when regarded in distinction from a precept of God. If more was meant, it should be shown what more. TR.]
That Pelagius himself came forth against Augustine's predestination doctrine, cannot be maintained; for, as already mentioned, Pelagius had left the stage long before Augustine had fully developed this theory of his. But that Pelagius thought differently on the subject, might be presumed from his view of man even if he had not declared himself on the point in his exposition of the epistle to the Romans.
According to Pelagius, foreordination to salvation or to damnation, is founded on prescience. Consequently he did not admit an "absolute predestination" but in every respect a "conditional predestination." God designed those for salvation who, as he foreknew, would believe in him and keep his commands; and reprobated those who, as he foreknew, would remain in sin. Thus, on Rom. 9:15, where God "said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have had mercy, and I will show mercy on whom I will have mercy," Pelagius remarks; "This in the true sense, is understood thus: I will have mercy on him whom I have foreknown to be able to merit mercy, as I have already had mercy on him." On verse 10, he remarks: "Jacob and Esau, who were born of Rebecca at the same birth, were with God separated by the merit of faith, before they were born. Those among the gentiles whom he foreknew as future believers, he chose and those of Israel as unbelievers, he rejected." On verse 12; "God's prescience does not pre-judge sinners, should they be willing to be converted, for he says by Ezekiel, If I say to the sinner, thou shalt surely die, and if he being converted shall work righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. In the book of Genesis, it is said, Two nations and two peoples (populi) are in thy womb, and people (populus) shall surpass people, and the greater shall serve the less. The prophecy, therefore, is not concerning those who are Jacob and Esau according to the flesh, but concerning those who were to be good or evil by works, and, by the works themselves, to have the hatred of God, or to obtain his mercy." On Rom. 11:2; "He has not rejected the people whom he foreknew as afterwards to believe." Verse 5; "The election of grace, is faith; as works are the election of the law. But what election, where there is no diversity of merits?" "On Rom. 8:29, 30, Pelagius remarks, among other things: "To predestinate is the same as to foreknow. Vocation collects the willing, not the unwilling."
Augustine also presents the Pelagian opinion on predestination, in the like way. "God foreknew, says the Pelagian, who would be holy and spotless by the decision of freewill, and therefore he chose them before the foundation of the world, in that prescience by which he foreknew that they would be such. Therefore he elected, says he, those whom he foreknew as afterwards to be holy and immaculate, predestinating them as sons before they existed. He certainly did not make them such, nor foresee that he should make them, but that they would be such. The Pelagians suppose, that, having received the commandments, forthwith by freewill we become holy and spotless in his sight, in love; which because God foreknew as to be, they say he chose and predestinated us in Christ before the foundation of the would." De Praed. Sanct. 18, 19. In Ep. 194, c. 8, Augustine remarks, that the Pelagians, when the argument of the Apostle (Rom. 9:10 sqq.) is presented to them in proof of (Augustinian) free grace, explain the words, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated," thus; "God hated one of those not yet born, and loved the other, because he foresaw their future works." Comp. C. d. Epp. Pel. II. 7.
Julian also in particular, (whose arguments against Augustine's doctrines of original sin and grace, must be objections against his theory of predestination), adopted this in the Pelagian sense. "The comparison of God with a potter, who, of the same lump, makes one vessel to honor and another to dishonor, ought not to be mentioned by you [Augustine] at all, because, as consistently explained by us, it is entirely against you; for when some are said to be made to honor and others to dishonor, the opinion of the catholics is aided, by which a different end of the vessels is announced according to the diversity of human will." Op. Imp. 1. 126.
Remark. The author of the Hypognosticon, objects indeed to the Pelagians that, since they allow a predestination in the case of the Apostles, they ought to allow it in all who serve God in a proper way. "We should admit a predestination, not merely as you are wont to say, in the case of the apostles, but also in the patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and confessors, and in all the saints and worthy servants of God." Lib. VI. at the end, app. p. 50. But when the Pelagians admit, in respect to the apostles, a predestination to spread christianity and to preach its doctrines, they say nothing of a predestination to salvation, nothing of an absolute decree. Such a predestination they could admit; for this stood in no connection with God's unconditional decree; and besides, it did not at all exclude a regard to the foreseen worthiness of the apostles for this calling.
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