Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book II/Chapter 14
Chapter 14.—He Illustrates His Argument by an Example.
But that what I am saying may be made clear by the exhibition of an example, let us suppose certain twins, born of a certain harlot, and exposed that they might be taken up by others. One of them has expired without baptism; the other is baptized. What can we say was in this case the “fate” or the “fortune,” which are here absolutely nothing? What “acceptance of persons,” when with God there is none, even if there could be any such thing in these cases, seeing that they certainly had nothing for which the one could be preferred to the other, and no merits of their own,—whether good, for which the one might deserve to be baptized; or evil, for which the other might deserve to die without baptism? Were there any merits in their parents, when the father was a fornicator, the mother a harlot? But of whatever kind those merits were, there were certainly not any that were different in those who died in such different conditions, but all were common to both. If, then, neither fate, since no stars made them to differ; nor fortune, since no fortuitous accidents produce these things; nor the diversity of persons nor of merits have done this; what remains, so far as it refers to the baptized child, save the grace of God, which is given freely to vessels made unto honour; but, as it refers to the unbaptized child, the wrath of God, which is repaid to the vessels made for dishonour in respect of the deservings of the lump itself? But in that one which is baptized we constrain you to confess the grace of God, and convince you that no merit of its own preceded; but as to that one which died without baptism, why that sacrament should have been wanting to it, which even you confess to be needful for all ages, and what in that manner may have been punished in him, it is for you to see who will not have it that there is any original sin.