The GOSPEL TRUTH
AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF
AUGUSTINISM AND PELAGIANISM
G. F. WIGGERS, D. D.
CHAPTER II: Chief sources of information respecting the Controversies between Augustine and the Pelagians.
As the chief personages involved in these controversies, have now been depicted, it is proper that the principal sources should be adduced from which a knowledge of these controversies may be derived. They are:
I. The few writings of Pelagius that have come down to our time. Of these, we possess the following.
1. Commentarii in Epistolas Pauli. These were written before the year 410 and contain remarks on the thirteen epistles of Paul. Those on the epistle to the Romans must naturally be the most important for a knowledge of the Pelagian doctrine. This commentary, by an odd mistake in the manuscripts, came among the works of Jerome, and is even now printed with them; although ascribed almost universally to Pelagius.
In the Vallarsic edition of Jerome, it forms the conclusion. It is also appended to the Antwerp edition of Augustine's works, XII. p. 315. As early as the sixth century, Cassiodorus conceived it to be a work of Pelagius, and inspection proves it to be so. Augustine, Mercator, and others quote passages from this commentary and attribute them to Pelagius; and the sentiments they contain, which are wholly Pelagian, fully evince their author. But as it was formerly ascribed to Jerome, it is no wonder that we meet with interpolations in several passages where orthodoxy was offended. See the admonitio in the above mentioned edition of Jerome's works, XI. 134, and the preface of the Benedictines to P. X. of Augustine's works. And especially do we meet with interpolations in abundance in the Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans which Cassiodorus purged from the Pelagian poison, according to his own confession. See Inst. Div. Scrip. c. 8. p. 380, 381. T. II. Opp. ed. Paris, 1600. Compare Walch's History of Heresies, P. IV. p. 547 sqq. Still there are passages enough remaining which show Pelagianism on the face of them.
2. A letter or book to the nun Demetrias, De Virginitate, written about the year 413. This letter also was falsely ascribed to Jerome. By Vallarsius it is attached to the works of this father, T. XI. P. I. p. 1, and is also found in the appendix to the second part of Augustine's works. That Pelagius was the author, admits of no doubt, since, in a passage of his letter to pope Innocent, which Augustine has preserved in his letter De Gratia Christi c. 37, he mentions himself as its author. Augustine also adduces passages from this letter, e.g., De Gratia Christi, c. 38, and ascribes them to Pelagius. Comp. the admonitio concerning this letter, by Vallarsius in the passage referred to. It was also published separately by Semler with the letters of Augustine, Jerome, and others pertaining to it. Halae, 1775-8. Whitby's tract on the imputation of Adam's sin, is appended, in which much is found respecting the opinions of the ancient fathers on that subject.
3. A confession of faith (Libellus Fidei), which Pelagius sent to pope Innocent at Rome, 417, but which was first delivered to Zosimus. This in like manner strayed, under the title Symboli Explanatio ad Damasum, among the works of Jerome, to whom it was ascribed. It is also printed among his works in the edition of Vallarsius, T. XI. P. II. p. 201. It is likewise found in the oft-cited appendix to the tenth part of Augustine's works, as well as in the fourth part of the Mansic Collection of Councils, p. 355; and with learned remarks, in Wall's History of Infant Baptism, translated into Latin by Schlosser, 1. 372. Bremae, 1748. That it is a formal confession of faith by Pelagius, is now generally acknowledged. Augustine refuted it in his book On the Grace of Christ, and quoted many passages from it which are found verbatim in this symbol. Cap. 30, 32 sqq. Walch has also admitted it into his Bibilotheca Symbolica, p. 192. See this writer in regard to the interpolations of this confession, p. 196, 197.
4. Here also is most probably to be reckoned the Epistola ad Celantiam Matronam de Ratione pie Vivendi, which has likewise been preserved among Jerome's works, ep. 148, in Val. ed. Erasmus ascribed it to bishop Paulinus of Nola; and Vallarsius is inclined to impute it to Sulpitius Severus. But the language and mode of treatment are Pelagian. Hence Semler, who receives it into the work above cited, not unjustly attributes it to Pelagius himself. Thus much is at least certain, it is written wholly in the spirit of Pelagius. Probably it was composed before the Pelagian controversy broke out, but the year cannot be determined. It contains rules of living for Celantia, the wife of a rich and distinguished man.
This, however, is all that has reached our time entire of the works of Pelagius. Among the lost are his Capitula, his book De Natura, four books De Libero Arbitrio, the noted letter to pope Innocent I, with which he accompanied his confession of faith, and other writings. In the works, however, of Augustine against Pelagius and Caelestius, all or at least the greatest part of which have come down to us, not only is the substance of the book De Natura and of the letter of Pelagius to be seen, but they are often quoted verbatim. Quotations of this kind are found from the book De Natura in the book De Natura et Gratia, and fragments from the letter to Innocent in the books De Gratia Christi and De Peccato Originali. Fragments also from the books on freewill we find in the books De Gratia Christi and De Peccato Originali. From the Capitula or eclogues, which contain a collection of scripture passages on moral subjects, there are fragments in the first book of Jerome's dialogue against the Pelagians, and in Augustine, particularly De Gestis Pelagii.
Nothing entire of the works of Caelestius, has reached our time. Some fragments, however, are found in Augustine, e.g., of the Definitions attributed to Caelestius in the book De Perfectione Justitiae Hominis; and of the important Libellus Fidei, which he presented to Zosimus, in the book De Peccato Originali. See Walch's Bibl. Symb. Vetus, p. 198. Of Julian's works also there exist only fragments, the most important of which are contained in Augustine's books against Julian and in the Opus Imperfectum. The Libellus Fidei, which was attributed to him by Garnier (Diss. Septem Quibus Integra Continetur Historia Pelagiana, in the first part of his edition of Mercator's Works, p. 319), and by the Benedictines (Ap. p. 110), is not from him but probably from some bishops inclined to Pelagianism in the diocese of Aquileia. Comp. Rubeis Tract. de Pec. Orig. c. XI. p. 39 sqq. Venetiis 1757. Walch's History of Heresies, IV. 676, and his Bib, Symb. Vet. p. 199.
II. Augustine's controversial works against the Pelagians. In the Benedictine edition, they constitute the tenth volume, where they are arranged according to the probable order of time. They are the following.
In 412, when Caelestius was first condemned at a Carthaginian synod, Augustine wrote three books, De Peccatorum Meretis et Remissione et de Baptismo Parvulorum, ad Marcellinum.
Towards the end of 412, De Spiritu et Litera, ad Marcellinum Liber Unus. Here he answered some doubts which arose to Marcellinus on reading the first work.
In 415, he answered Pelagius' book on nature in a piece De Natura et Gratia. In this work, are exact quotations from that alleged work of Pelagius.
Towards the end of the same year, appeared Ad Episcopos Eutropium et Paulum Epistola seu Liber de Perfectione Justitiae Hominis, against the alleged Definitions of Caelestius.
In the beginning of 417, De Gestis Pelagii ad Aurelium Episcopium. In this book the conduct of Pelagius at Diospolis is related and proved. Augustine endeavors to show, that the Pelagian doctrines were not there approved of. In this work, he first came out publicly as a determined enemy of Pelagius, without respect or reserve. Probably the propitious result of this synod for Pelagius, had produced this effect. In the previous works, which were directed against the Pelagian doctrine, Augustine either did not mention Pelagius by name, or else with esteem and respect, because he cherished the hope of his coming over to his system, and hence he would not provoke him. "Lest," writes he to Paulinus (Ep. 186), "being offended he should be rendered still more insane." On this point he also explains himself in this book, c. 23, 25.
In 418, De Gratia Christi et de Peccato Originali contra Pelagium et Caelestium Libri duo. A main work. In this, Augustine refers only to the works acknowledged by Pelagius himself in his letter to the Romish bishop already mentioned.
At the close of this year, or in 419, the first book De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia, with a letter to Comes Valerius. Against this book, Julian wrote four books, which however are all lost but the extracts given by Augustine. The extracts from the first book were sent to Augustine by Comes Valerius, which he answered in 420. But in using these extracts, we must be cautious, because, by Augustine's own confession (Retract. II. 62 Op. Imp. I. 16), much was altered in them which Julian had not so written. This answer, connected with the first book, completes the two books on marriage and concupiscence.
Towards the close of 419, four books De Anima et ejus Origine. These books are directed against Vincentius Victor, a young scholar of Mauritana, who had found Augustine's assertions on the subject offensive. This work is not written particularly against the Pelagians, but is of much importance respecting the system which Augustine developed, since the question of the propagation of souls, stands in so close a connection with the Augustinian doctrine of original sin as propagated by generation. Hence the Benedictines have assigned a place to these books among Augustine's controversial works against the Pelagians. Besides, in these books, other matters are also discussed pertaining to the Pelagian disputes, e.g., the object of infant baptism.
In 420, four books, Contra Duas Epistolas Pelagianorum ad Bonifacium Romanae Ecclesiae Episcopum. In these, Augustine answered two Pelagian epistles, of which Julian was regarded as the author. One of them had been sent to Rome; the other was that which was sent to bishop Rufus at Thessalonica, in the name of Julian and seventeen other bishops who had refused to sign the Tractoria. Both letters had been sent to Augustine by Boniface.
In the mean time, Augustine had now received, through bishop Claudius, those four books of Julian complete, instead of merely the extracts before sent him. He therefore resolved on a complete refutation; and so there were forthcoming, in 421, six more books, Contra Julianum, to which was prefixed a letter to bishop Claudius. Augustine himself appears to have placed a great value on this work, and calls it (Retract. It. 62) "so great and elaborate a work." It is considered one of the most perfect which he produced in this controversy.
In 426 or 427, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio ad Valentinum et cum illo Monachos (Adrumetinos) Liber Unus. This piece he accompanied with two letters to them. Adrumetum was a seaport in Africa, and the chief city of the Byzacene province, [now a part of Tunis.]
Soon after appeared a book by him addressed to them, De Correptione et Gratia, [in which he shows the consistency between "rebuke and grace."-TR.]
In 428 or 429, he wrote two books, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, against what have since been called the semi-pelagians, who arose in Gaul and particularly at Marseilles, and of whom he had received information through Prosper and Hilary. Only the first book, however, now commonly bears this title; and the second, the inscription De Dono Perseverantiae. In these books, there reigns a tone of gentleness and mildness which is strikingly in contrast with what we find in other writings of Augustine. Perhaps he intended to win those monks by mildness, who differed from him on a doctrine against which their moral sense must have revolted.
Julian had written eight books against Augustine's second book on marriage and concupiscence. These Augustine designed to refute in the same number of books. But he did not finish this work, in which the vestiges of decaying age cannot be mistaken. For death overtook him at the sixth book, in 430. Hence this book bears the title Opus Imperfectum. Here again are extracts from Julian's books, but which extend only to the sixth book. These extracts, as well as the books De Nupt. et Conc., are translated in an abridged form by G. H. K. Rosenmüller, under the title, Julian's Refutation of Augustine's Books on Marriage and Lust, in a German Translation by Rosenmüller. Leipzig, 1796.
Here also come the letters of Augustine written on this subject, among the most important of which, are those to Honoratus (Ep. 140, written about 412), to Hilary at Syracuse (157, about 414), also Epp. 178, 179, 190, 191, 193, and that to the then Romish presbyter, afterwards pope Sixtus (194, about 418). They are in the second volume of the Benedictine edition of Augustine, where are also to be found the letters of Innocent 1, of Jerome, and others, concerning Pelagianism. Here also belongs the 88th chapter of Augustine's book on heresies, written or at least finished about 428, which he sent to the Carthaginian deacon Quodvultdeus. It forms the commencement of the eighth volume of the above mentioned edition of Augustine. His sermons preached against the Pelagians, also here deserve to be mentioned, of which several have reached us. To these belong sermons 170, 174, 176, some parts of 293, and particularly sermon 294 on infant baptism. They are found in the fifth volume of his works.
III. Public documents, (which are partly acts of councils and partly civil ordinances,) and the accounts and controversial pieces of contemporary writers, as Prosper, Jerome, Mercator, Orosius, and others. The Benedictines have furnished, in the appendix to the tenth part of Augustine's works, a valuable collection both of public documents and of accounts of contemporary writers on this subject, and also of extracts from their writings against the Pelagians.
Thus much as to the sources.
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