Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On the Proceedings of Pelagius/Chapter 33
Chapter 33.—Discussion of the Eleventh Item Continued.
What, then, is the reason why, as I said just now, I felt anxious on the subject of this head of his doctrine? It is occasioned by what Pelagius says in these words: “That God gives to the man who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all graces, even as He conferred them on the Apostle Paul.” Now, I should not have felt any anxiety about this answer of Pelagius, if it were not closely connected with the cause which we are bound to guard with the utmost care—even that God’s grace may never be attacked, while we are silent or dissembling in respect of so great an evil. As, therefore, he does not say, that God gives to whom He will, but that “God gives to the man who has proved himself worthy to receive them, all these graces,” I could not help being suspicious, when I read such words. For the very name of grace, and the thing that is meant by it, is taken away, if it is not bestowed gratuitously, but he only receives it who is worthy of it. Will anybody say that I do the apostle wrong, because I do not admit him to have been worthy of grace? Nay, I should indeed rather do him wrong, and bring on myself a punishment, if I refused to believe what he himself says. Well, now, has he not pointedly so defined grace as to show that it is so called because it is bestowed gratuitously? These are his own very words: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” In accordance with this, he says again: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Whosoever, therefore, is worthy, to him it is due; and if it is thus due to him, it ceases to be grace; for grace is given, but a debt is paid. Grace, therefore, is given to those who are unworthy, that a debt may be paid to them when they become worthy. He, however, who has bestowed on the unworthy the gifts which they possessed not before, does Himself take care that they shall have whatever things He means to recompense to them when they become worthy.
- Rom. xi. 6.
- Rom. iv. 4.