Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book IV/Chapter 4
Chapter 4 [IV.]—Pelagians and Manicheans on the Praise of the Creature.
These things being so, what advantage is it to new heretics, enemies of the cross of Christ and opposers of divine grace, that they seem sound from the error of the Manicheans, if they are dying by another pestilence of their own? What advantage is it to them, that in the praise of the creature they say “that the good God is the maker of those that are born, by whom all things were made, and that the children of men are His work,” whom the Manicheans say are the work of the prince of darkness; when between them both, or among them both, God’s creation, which is in infants, is perishing? For both of them refuse to have it delivered by Christ’s flesh and blood,—the one, because they destroy that very flesh and blood, as if He did not take upon Him these at all in man or of man; and the other, because they assert that there is no evil in infants from which they should be delivered by the sacrament of this flesh and blood. Between them lies the human creature in infants, with a good origination, with a corrupted propagation, confessing for its goods a most excellent Creator, seeking for its evils a most merciful Redeemer, having the Manicheans as disparagers of its benefits, having the Pelagians as deniers of its evils, and both as persecutors. And although in infancy there is no power to speak, yet with its silent look and its hidden weakness it addresses the impious vanity of both, saying to the one, “Believe that I am created by Him who creates good things;” and saying to the other, “Suffer me to be healed by Him who created me.” The Manicheans say, “There is nothing of this infant save the good soul to be delivered; the rest,” which belongs not to the good God, but to the prince of darkness, “is to be rejected.” The Pelagians say, “Certainly there is nothing of this infant to be delivered, because we have shown the whole to be safe.” Both lie; but now the accuser of the flesh alone is more bearable than the praiser, who is convicted of cruelty against the whole. But neither does the Manichean help the human soul by blaspheming God, the Author of the entire man; nor does the Pelagian permit the divine grace to come to the help of human infancy by denying original sin. Therefore it is by the catholic faith that God has mercy, seeing that by condemning both mischievous doctrines it comes to the help of the infant for salvation. It says to the Manicheans, “Hear the apostle crying, ‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost in you?’ and believe that the good God is the Creator of bodies, because the temple of the Holy Ghost cannot be the work of the prince of darkness.” It says to the Pelagians, “The infant that you look upon ‘was conceived in iniquity, and in sin its mother nourished it in the womb.’ Why, as if in defending it as free from all mischief, do you not permit it to be delivered by mercy? No one is pure from uncleanness, not even the infant whose life is of one day upon the earth. Allow the wretched creatures to receive remission of sins, through Him who alone neither as small nor great could have any sin.”
- 1 Cor. vi. 19.
- Ps. li. 5.
- Job xiv. 4, 5. See LXX.