Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book IV/Chapter 13
Chapter 13.—God’s Purposes are Effects of Grace.
What does it profit them, that in the praise of that same free will “they say that grace assists the good purpose of every one”? This would be received without scruple as being said in a catholic spirit, if they did not attribute merit to the good purpose, to which merit now a wage is paid of debt, not according to grace, but would understand and confess that even that very good purpose, which the grace which follows assists could not have been in the man if grace had not preceded it. For how is there a good purpose in a man without the mercy of God first, since it is that very good will which is prepared by the Lord? But when they had said this, “that grace also assists every one’s good purpose,” and presently added, “yet does not infuse the love of virtue into a resisting heart,” it might be fitly understood, if it were not said by those whose meaning is known. For, for the resisting heart a hearing for the divine call is first procured by the grace of God itself, and then in that heart, now no more resisting, the desire of virtue is kindled. Nevertheless, in all things which any one does according to God, His mercy precedes him. And this they will not have, because they choose to be not catholics, but Pelagians. For it much delights a proud impiety, that even that which a man is forced to confess to be given by the Lord should seem to be not bestowed on himself, but repaid; so that, to wit, the children of perdition, not of the promise, may be thought themselves to have made themselves good, and God to have repaid to those who are now good, having been made so by themselves, the reward due for that their work.
- See above, Book ii. ch. 11.
- Prov. viii. 35.