Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 64
Chapter 64.—Pelagius’ Admission as Regards the Unbaptized, Fatal.
Now, as touching these two good substances which the good God created, how, against the reasoning of this man, in the case of unbaptized persons, can they be contrary the one to the other? Will he be sorry to have said this too, which he admitted out of some regard to the Christians’ faith? For when he asked, “How, in the case of any person who is already baptized, can it be that his flesh is contrary to him?” he intimated, of course, that in the case of unbaptized persons it is possible for the flesh to be contrary. For why insert the clause, “who is already baptized,” when without such an addition he might have put his question thus: “How in the case of any person can the flesh be contrary?” and when, in order to prove this, he might have subjoined that argument of his, that as both body and spirit are good (made as they are by the good Creator), they therefore cannot be contrary to each other? Now, suppose unbaptized persons (in whom, at any rate, he confesses that the flesh is contrary) were to ply him with his own arguments, and say to him, Who made man’s spirit? he must answer, God. Suppose they asked him again, Who created the flesh? and he answers, The same God, I believe. Suppose their third question to be, Is the God good who created both? and his reply to be, Nobody doubts it. Suppose once more they put to him his yet remaining inquiry, Are not both good, since the good Creator made them? and he confesses it. Then surely they will cut his throat with his own sword, when they force home his conclusion on him, and say: Since therefore the spirit of man is good, and his flesh good, as made by the good Creator, how can it be that the two being good should be contrary to one another? Here, perhaps, he will reply: I beg your pardon, I ought not to have said that the flesh cannot be contrary to the spirit in any baptized person, as if I meant to imply that it is contrary in the unbaptized; but I ought to have made my statement general, to the effect that the flesh in no man’s case is contrary. Now see into what a corner he drives himself. See what a man will say, who is unwilling to cry out with the apostle, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “But why,” he asks, “should I so exclaim, who am already baptized in Christ? It is for them to cry out thus who have not yet received so great a benefit, whose words the apostle in a figure transferred to himself,—if indeed even they say so much.” Well, this defence of nature does not permit even these to utter this exclamation! For in the baptized, there is no nature; and in the unbaptized, nature is not! Or if even in the one class it is allowed to be corrupted, so that it is not without reason that men exclaim, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” to the other, too, help is brought in what follows: “The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;” then let it at last be granted that human nature stands in need of Christ for its Physician.
- Rom. vii. 24, 25.