Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 60
Chapter 60 [LII.]—Pelagius Admits “Contrary Flesh” In the Unbaptized.
See what obstacles he still attempts to break through, if possible, in order to introduce his own opinion. He raises a question for himself in these terms: “But you will tell me that, according to the apostle, the flesh is contrary to us;” and then answers it in this wise: “How can it be that in the case of any baptized person the flesh is contrary to him, when according to the same apostle he is understood not to be in the flesh? For he says, ‘But ye are not in the flesh.’” Very well; we shall soon see whether it be really true that this says that in the baptized the flesh cannot be contrary to them; at present, however, as it was impossible for him quite to forget that he was a Christian (although his reminiscence on the point is but slight), he has quitted his defence of nature. Where then is that inseparable capacity of his? Are those who are not yet baptized not a part of human nature? Well, now, here by all means, here at this point, he might find his opportunity of awaking out of his sleep; and he still has it if he is careful. “How can it be,” he asks, “that in the case of a baptized person the flesh is contrary to him?” Therefore to the unbaptized the flesh can be contrary! Let him tell us how; for even in these there is that nature which has been so stoutly defended by him. However, in these he does certainly allow that nature is corrupted, inasmuch as it was only among the baptized that the wounded traveller left his inn sound and well, or rather remains sound in the inn whither the compassionate Samaritan carried him that he might become cured. Well, now, if he allows that the flesh is contrary even in these, let him tell us what has happened to occasion this, since the flesh and the spirit alike are the work of one and the same Creator, and are therefore undoubtedly both of them good, because He is good,—unless indeed it be that damage which has been inflicted by man’s own will. And that this may be repaired in our nature, there is need of that very Saviour from whose creative hand nature itself proceeded. Now, if we acknowledge that this Saviour, and that healing remedy of His by which the Word was made flesh in order to dwell among us, are required by small and great,—by the crying infant and the hoary-headed man alike,—then, in fact, the whole controversy of the point between us is settled.
- Gal. v. 17.
- Rom. viii. 9.
- In the next chapter.
- Luke x. 34.