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   Chapter 12 The Church Of The Western Empire In The Fifth Century

A Source Book for Ancient Church History By Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., Ph.D. Characters: 106380

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


The period between the closing years of the fourth century, in which the struggle was still going on between heathenism and Christianity (§ 81), and the end of the Roman Empire of the West is of fundamental importance in the study of the history of the Christian Church of the West. In this period were laid the foundations for its characteristic theology and its ecclesiastical organization. The former was the work of St. Augustine, the most powerful religious personality of the Western Church. In this he built partly upon the traditions of the West, but also, largely, upon his own religious experience (§ 82). These elements were developed and modified by the two great controversies in which, by discussion, he formulated more completely than ever had been done before the idea of the Church and its sacraments in opposition to the Donatists (§ 83), and the doctrines of sin and grace in opposition to a moralistic Christianity, represented by Pelagius (§ 84). The leading ideas of Augustine, however, could be appropriated only as they were modified and brought into conformity with [pg 430] the dominant ecclesiastical and sacramental system of the Church, in the semi-Pelagian controversy, which found a tardy termination in the sixth century (§ 85). In the meanwhile the inroads of the barbarians with all the horrors of the invasions, the confusion in the political, social, and ecclesiastical organization, threatened the overthrow of all established institutions. In the midst of this anarchy, the Roman See, in the work of Innocent I, and still more clearly in the work of Leo the Great, enunciated its ideals and became the centre, not merely of ecclesiastical unity, in which it had often to contest its claims with the divided Church organizations of the West, but still more as the ideal centre of unity for all those that held to the old order of the Empire with its culture and social life (§ 86).

§ 81. The Western Church Toward the End of the Fourth Century

Heathenism lingered as a force in society longer in the West than in the East, not merely among the peasantry, but among the higher classes. This was partly due to the conservatism of the aristocratic classes and the superior form in which the religious philosophy of Neo-Platonism had been presented to the West. This presentation was due, in no small part, to the work of such philosophers as Victorinus, who translated the earlier works of the Neo-Platonists so that it escaped the tendencies, represented by Jamblichus, toward theurgy and magic, and an alliance with polytheism and popular superstition. Victorinus himself became a Christian, passing by an easy [pg 431] transition from Neo-Platonism to Christianity; a course in which he was followed by Augustine, and, no doubt, by others as well.

Augustine, Confessiones, VIII, 2. (MSL, 32:79.)

The conversion of Victorinus.

To Simplicianus then I went-the father of Ambrose,164 in receiving Thy grace,165 and whom he truly loved as a father. To him I narrated the windings of my error. But when I mentioned to him that I had read certain books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, formerly professor of rhetoric at Rome (who died a Christian, as I had heard), had translated into Latin, he congratulated me that I had not fallen upon the writings of other philosophers, which were full of fallacies and deceit, "after the rudiments of this world" [Col. 2:8], whereas they, in many respects, led to the belief in God and His word. Then to exhort me to the humility of Christ, hidden from the wise and revealed to babes, he spoke of Victorinus himself, whom, while he was in Rome, he had known intimately; and of him he related that about which I will not be silent. For it contained great praise of Thy grace, which ought to be confessed unto Thee, how that most learned old man, highly skilled in all the liberal sciences, who had read, criticised, and explained so many works of the philosophers; the teacher of so many noble senators, who, also, as a mark of his excellent discharge of his duties, had both merited and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum (something men of this world esteem a great honor), he, who had been, even to that age, a worshipper of idols and a participator in the sacrilegious rites to which almost all the nobility of Rome were addicted, and had inspired the people with the love of "monster gods of every sort, and the barking Anubis, who hold their weapons against Neptune and Venus and Minerva" [Vergil, ?neid, VIII, 736 ff.], and those whom Rome once conquered, she now worshipped, all of which Victorinus, now [pg 432] old, had defended so many years with vain language,166 he now blushed not to be a child of Thy Christ, and an infant at Thy fountain, submitting his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead to the reproach of the cross.

O Lord, Lord, who hast bowed the heavens and come down, touched the mountains and they smoked [Psalm 144:5], by what means didst Thou convey Thyself into that bosom? He used to read, Simplicianus said, the Holy Scriptures and most studiously sought after and searched out all the Christian writings, and he said to Simplicianus, not openly, but secretly and as a friend: "Knowest thou that I am now a Christian?" To which he replied: "I will not believe it, nor will I rank you among the Christians unless I see you in the Church of Christ." Whereupon he replied derisively: "Do walls then make Christians?" And this he often said, that already he was a Christian; and Simplicianus used as often to make the same answer, and as often the conceit of the walls was repeated. For he was fearful of offending his friends, proud demon worshippers, from the height of whose Babylonian pride, as from the cedars of Lebanon, which the Lord had not yet broken [Psalm 29:5], he seriously thought a storm of enmity would descend upon him. But after that he had derived strength from reading and inquiry, and feared lest he should be denied by Christ before the holy angels if he was now afraid to confess Him before men [Matt. 10:33], and appeared to himself to be guilty of a great fault in being ashamed of the sacraments of the humility of Thy word, and not being ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud demons, which as a proud imitator he had accepted, he became bold-faced against vanity and shamefaced toward the truth, and suddenly and unexpectedly said to Simplicianus, as he himself informed me: "Let us go to the Church; I wish to be made a Christian." And he, unable to contain himself for joy, went with him. When he had been admitted to the first sacrament of instruction [i.e., the Catechumenate], he, not long after, gave in his [pg 433] name that he might be regenerated by baptism. Meanwhile Rome marvelled and the Church rejoiced; the proud saw and were enraged; they gnashed with their teeth and melted away [Psalm 92:9]. But the Lord God was the hope of Thy servant, and He regarded not vanities and lying madness [Psalm 40:4].

Finally the hour arrived when he should make profession of his faith, which, at Rome, they, who are about to approach Thy grace, are accustomed to deliver from an elevated place, in view of the faithful people, in a set form of words learnt by heart. But the presbyters, he said, offered Victorinus the privilege of making his profession more privately, as was the custom to do to those who were likely, on account of bashfulness, to be afraid; but he chose, rather, to profess his salvation in the presence of the holy assembly. For it was not salvation that he had taught in rhetoric and yet he had publicly professed that. How much less, therefore, ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to dread Thy meek flock, who, in the delivery of his own words, had not feared the mad multitudes! So then, when he ascended to make his profession, and all recognized him, they whispered his name one to the other, with a tone of congratulation. And who was there among them that did not know him? And there ran through the mouths of all the rejoicing multitude a low murmur: "Victorinus! Victorinus!" Sudden was the burst of exultation at the sight of him, and as sudden the hush of attention that they might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with an excellent confidence, and all desired to take him to their hearts, and by their love and joy they did take him to them; such were the hands with which they took him.

§ 82. Augustine's Life and Place in the Western Church

Aurelius Augustinus, the greatest of the Latin fathers, was born 354, at Tagaste, in Numidia. He was educated to be a teacher of rhetoric, and practised his profession at Carthage, [pg 434] Rome, and Milan. From 374 to 383, he was a Manich?an catechumen, for although his mother, Monnica, was a Christian, his religious education had been very meagre, and he was repelled by the literary character of the Scriptures as commonly interpreted. In 387, after a long struggle, and passing through various schools of thought, he, with his son Adeodatus, were baptized at Milan by Ambrose. In 391 he became a presbyter, and in 394 bishop of Hippo Regius, a small town in North Africa. He died 430, during the Vandal invasion. Of his works, the Confessions are the most widely known, as they have become a Christian classic of edification of the first rank. They give an account of his early life and conversion, but are more useful as showing his type of piety than as a biography. From them is learned the secret of his influence upon the Western world. The literary activity of Augustine was especially developed in connection with the prolonged controversies, in which he was engaged throughout his episcopate (see §§ 83, 84), but he wrote much in addition to controversial treatises. The group of characteristic doctrines known as "Augustinianism," viz.: Original Sin, Predestination, and Grace and the doctrines connected with them, were, to a large extent, the outcome of his own religious experience. He had known the power and depth of sin. He had discovered the hand of God leading him in spite of himself. He knew that his conversion was due, not to his own effort or merit, but to God's grace.

The works of Augustine have been translated in part in PNF, ser. I, vols. I-VIII. There are many translations of the Confessions; among others, one by E. B. Pusey, in "Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church," reprinted in "Everyman's Library."

(a) Augustine, Confessiones, VIII, 12. (MSL, 32:761.)

The conversion of Augustine.

This is, perhaps, the most famous passage in the Confessions. It came at the end of a long series of attempts to find peace in various forms of philosophy and religion. Augustine regarded it as miraculous, [pg 435] the crown and proof of the work of grace in him. The scene was in Milan, 387, in the garden of the villa he occupied with his friend Alypius. The principal obstacle to his embracing Christianity was his reluctance to abandon his licentious life. To this the reference is made in the passage from Scripture which he read, i.e., Rom. 13:13, 14.

When a profound reflection had, from the depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. That I might pour it all forth in its own words I arose from beside Alypius; for solitude suggested itself to me as fitter for the business of weeping. So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus it was with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and thus I had risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, very greatly astonished. I flung myself down, I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of my eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. And not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee-"But Thou, O Lord, how long?" [Psalm 13:1]. "How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry forever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities" [Psalm 79:5, 8]; for I felt that I was held fast by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries: "How long, how long? To-morrow, and to-morrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?"

I was saying these things and was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I hear the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighboring house, chanting and oft repeating: "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like anywhere. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it in no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to [pg 436] open the book and read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Anthony [see also § 77, e], that accidentally coming in whilst the Gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read was addressed to him: "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me" [Matt. 19:21]. And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the Apostles, when I rose thence. I seized, I opened, and in silence I read that paragraph on which my eye first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof" [Rom. 13:13, 14]. No further would I read; there was no need; for instantly, as the sentence ended, by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart, all the gloom of doubt vanished away.

Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrong in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This, in fact, followed: "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye" [Rom. 14:1]; which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go to my mother. We tell her-she rejoices. We relate how it came to pass-she exults and triumphs, and she blesses Thee, who art "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" [Eph. 3:20]; for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me [pg 437] unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other hope of this world-standing in that rule of faith in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her. And thou didst turn her grief unto gladness [Psalm 30:11], much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my flesh.

(b) Augustine, Confessiones, X, 27, 29, 43. (MSL, 32:795, 796, 808.)

The following passages from the Confessions are intended to illustrate Augustine's type of piety.

Ch. 29. My whole hope is only in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give what Thou commandest and command what Thou wilt.167 Thou imposest continency upon us. "And when I perceived," saith one, "that no one could be continent except God gave it; and this was a point of wisdom also to know whose this gift was" [Wis. 8:21]. For by continency are we bound up and brought into one, whence we were scattered abroad into many. For he loves Thee too little, who besides Thee loves aught which he loves not for Thee. O love, who ever burnest and art never quenched! O charity, my God, kindle me! Thou commandest continency; give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.

Ch. 27. Too late have I loved Thee, O fairness, so ancient, yet so new! Too late have I loved Thee. For behold Thou wast within and I was without, and I was seeking Thee there; I, without love, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty Thou madest. Thou wast with me, but I was not with Thee. Those things kept me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and Thou broke through my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine and chase away my blindness. Thou didst exhale fragrance and I drew in my breath and I panted for Thee. I tasted, and [pg 438] did hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.

Ch. 43. O how Thou hast loved us, O good Father, who sparedst not thine only Son, but didst deliver Him up for us wicked ones! [Rom. 8:32.] O how Thou hast loved us, for whom He, who thought it not robbery to be equal with Thee, "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" [Phil. 2:8]. He alone, "free among the dead" [Psalm 88:5], that had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again [John 10:18]; for us was He unto Thee both victor and the victim, and the victor became the victim; for He was unto Thee both priest and sacrifice, and priest because sacrifice; making us from being slaves to become Thy sons, by being born of Thee, and by serving us. Rightly, then, is my strong hope in Him, because Thou didst cure all my diseases by Him who sitteth at Thy right hand and maketh intercession for us [Rom. 8:34]; else should I utterly despair. For numerous and great are my infirmities, yea numerous and great are they; but Thy medicine is greater. We might think that Thy word was removed from union with man and despair of ourselves had not He been "made flesh and dwelt among us" [John 1:14].

(c) Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XIII, 3, 14. (MSL, 41:378; 86.)

The Fall of Man and Original Sin.

The City of God is Augustine's great theodicy, apology, and philosophy of universal history. It was begun shortly after the capture of Rome, and the author was engaged upon it from 413 to 426. It was the source whence the medi?val ecclesiastics drew their theoretical justification for the curialistic principles of the relation of State and Church, and at the same time the one work of St. Augustine that Gibbon the historian regarded highly. For an analysis see Presensée, art. "Augustine" in DCB.

Compare the position of Augustine with the following passage from St. Ambrose, On the Death of Satyrus, II, 6, "Death is alike to all, without difference for the poor, without exception for the rich. And so although through the sin of one alone, yet it passed upon all; … In Adam I fell, in Adam I was cast out of paradise. In Adam I died; [pg 439] how shall the Lord call me back, except He find me in Adam; guilty as I was in him, so now justified in Christ." [MSL, 16:1374.]

The first men would not have suffered death if they had not sinned.… But having become sinners they were so punished with death, that whatsoever sprang from their stock should also be punished with the same death. For nothing else could be born of them than what they themselves had been. The condemnation changed their nature for the worse in proportion to the greatness of their sin, so that what was before as punishment in the man who had first sinned, followed as of nature in others who were born.… In the first man, therefore, the whole human nature was to be transmitted by the woman to posterity when that conjugal union received the divine sentence of its own condemnation; and what man was made, not when he was created but when he sinned, and was punished, this he propagated, so far as the origin of sin and death are concerned.

Ch. 14. For God, the author of natures, not of vices, created man upright; but man, being by his own will corrupt and justly condemned, begot corrupted and condemned children. For we were all in that one man when we were all that one man, who fell into sin by the woman who had been made from him before the sin. For not yet was the particular form created and distributed to us, in which we as individuals were to live; but already the seminal nature was there from which we were to be propagated; and this being vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned, man could not be born of man in any other state. And thus from the bad use of free will, there originated a whole series of evils, which with its train of miseries conducts the human race from its depraved origin, as from a corrupt root, on to the destruction of the second death, which has no end, those only being excepted who are freed by the grace of God.

(d) Augustine, De Correptione et Gratia, 2. (MSL, 44:917.)

Grace and Free Will.

[pg 440] Now the Lord not only shows us what evil we should shun, and what good we should do, which is all the letter of the law can do; but moreover He helps us that we may shun evil and do good [Psalm 37:27], which none can do without the spirit of grace; and if this be wanting, the law is present merely to make us guilty and to slay us. It is on this account that the Apostle says: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" [II Cor. 3:6]. He, then, who lawfully uses the law, learns therein evil and good, and not trusting in his own strength, flees to grace, by the help of which he may shun evil and do good. But who flees to grace except when "the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and He wills his ways"? [Psalm 37:23.] And thus also to desire the help of grace is the beginning of grace.… It is to be confessed, therefore, that we have free choice to do both evil and good; but in doing evil every one is free from righteousness and is a servant of sin, while in doing good no one can be free, unless he have been made free by Him who said: "If the Son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed" [John 8:36]. Neither is it thus, that when any one shall have been made free from the dominion of sin, he no longer needs the help of his Deliverer; but rather thus, that hearing from Him, "Without me ye can do nothing" [John 15:5], he himself also says to Him: "Be Thou my helper! Forsake me not!"

(e) Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XV, 1. (MSL, 41:437.)

Predestination.

Inasmuch as all men are born condemned, and of themselves have not the power to turn to grace, which alone can save them, it follows that the bestowal of grace whereby they may turn is not dependent upon the man but upon God's sovereign good pleasure. This is expressed in the doctrine of Predestination. For a discussion of the position of Augustine respecting Predestination and his other doctrines as connected with it, see J. B. Mozley, A Treatise on the Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination, 1873, a book of great ability. Cf. also Tixeront, History of Dogmas, vol. II.

I trust that we have already done justice to these great and difficult questions regarding the beginning of the world, of [pg 441] the soul, and of the human race itself. This race we have distributed into two parts: the one consisting of those who live according to man, the other of those who live according to God. And these we have also mystically called the two cities, or the two communities of men, of which one is predestined to reign eternally with God, and the other to suffer eternal punishment with the devil.…

Each man, because born of condemned stock, is first of all born from Adam, evil and carnal, and when he has been grafted into Christ by regeneration he afterward becomes good and spiritual. So in the human race, as a whole, when these two cities began to run their course by a series of births and deaths, the citizen of this world was born first, and after him the stranger of this world, and belonging to the City of God,168 predestined by grace, elected by grace, by grace a stranger here below, and by grace a citizen above. For so far as regards himself he is sprung from the same mass, all of which is condemned in its origin; but God like a potter (for this comparison is introduced by the Apostle judiciously and not without thought) of the same lump made one vessel to honor and another to dishonor [Rom. 9:21].

(f) Augustine, De Correptione et Gratia, chs. 23 (9), 39 (13). (MSL, 44:930, 940.)

Ch. 23 (9). Whosoever, therefore, in God's most providential ordering are foreknown [pr?sciti] and predestinated, called justified, glorified-I say not, even though not yet born again, but even though not yet born at all-are already children of God, and absolutely cannot perish.… From Him, therefore, is given also perseverance in good even to the end; for it is not given except to those who will not perish, since they who do not persevere will perish.169

Ch. 39 (13). I speak of those who are predestinated to the [pg 442] kingdom of God, whose number is so certain that no one can either be added to them or taken from them; not of those who when He had announced and spoken, were multiplied beyond number [Psalm 40:6]. For these may be said to be called [vocati] but not chosen [electi], because they are not called according to purpose.170

(g) Augustine, Enchiridion, 100. (MSL, 40:279.)

Twofold Predestination.

Augustine does not commonly speak of predestination of the wicked, i.e., those who are not among the elect and consequently predestinated to grace and salvation. As a rule he speaks of predestination in connection with the saints, those who are saved. But that he, with perfect consistency, regarded the wicked as also predestinated is shown by the following, as also other passages in his works, e.g., City of God, XV, 1 (v. supra), XXII, ch. 24:5. This point has a bearing in connection with the controversy on predestination in the ninth century, in which Gottschalk reasserted the theory of a double predestination.

These are the great works of the Lord, sought out according to all His good pleasure [Psalm 111:2], and wisely sought out, that when the angelic and the human creature sinned, that is, did not do what He willed but what the creature itself willed, so by the will of the creature, by which was done what the Creator did not will, He carried out what He himself willed; the supremely Good thus turning to account even what is evil; to the condemnation of those whom He has justly predestinated to punishment and to the salvation of those whom He has mercifully predestinated to grace.

(h) Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XVI, 2. (MSL, 41:479.)

Augustine's theory of allegorical interpretation.

Augustine had been repelled by the literal interpretation of the Scriptures and turned to the Manich?ans who rejected the Old Testament. Confessions, III, 5. From Ambrose he learned the "mystical" or allegorical method of interpreting the Old Testament, cf. Confessions, VI, 4. With Augustine's theory, treated at length, especially in his De Doctrina Christiana, Bk. 3, should be compared Origen's in De Principiis, IV, 9-15. See above, § 43, b.

[pg 443] These secrets of the divine Scriptures we investigate as we can;171 some in more, some in less agreement, but all faithfully holding it as certain that these things were neither done nor recorded without some foreshadowing of future events, and that they are to be referred only to Christ and His Church, which is the City of God, the proclamation of which has not ceased since the beginning of the human race; and we now see it everywhere accomplished. From the blessing of the two sons of Noah and from the cursing of the middle son, down to Abraham, for more than a thousand years, there is no mention of any righteous person who worshipped God. I would not, therefore, believe that there were none, but to mention every one would have been very long, and there would have been historical accuracy rather than prophetic foresight. The writer of these sacred books, or rather the Spirit of God through him, sought for those things by which not only the past might be narrated, but the future foretold, which pertained to the City of God; for whatever is said of these men who are not its citizens is given either that it may profit or be made glorious by a comparison with what is different. Yet it is not to be supposed that all that is recorded has some signification; but those things which have no signification of their own are interwoven for the sake of the things which are significant. Only by the ploughshare is the earth cut in furrows; but that this may be, other parts of the plough are necessary. Only the strings of the harp and other musical instruments are fitted to give forth a melody; but that they may do so, there are other parts of the instrument which are not, indeed, struck by those who sing, but with them are connected the strings which are struck and produce musical notes. So in prophetic history some things are narrated which have no significance, but are, as it were, the framework to which the significant things are attached.

(i) Augustine, Enchiridion, 109, 110. (MSL, 40:283.)

[pg 444] Augustine in his teaching combined a number of different theological tendencies, without working them into a consistent system. His doctrines of Original Sin, Predestination, Grace are by no means harmonized with his position regarding the Church and the sacraments in which he builds upon the foundation laid in the West, especially by Optatus. See below, § 83. There is also a no small remnant of what might be called pre-Augustinian Western piety, which comes down from Tertullian and of which the following is an illustration, a passage which is of significance in the development of the doctrine of purgatory. Cf. Tertullian, De Monogamia, ch. 10. See above, § 39.

§ 109. The time, moreover, which intervenes between a man's death and the final resurrection, keeps the soul in a hidden retreat, as each is deserving of rest or affliction, according to what its lot was when it lived in the flesh.

§ 110. Nor can it be denied that the souls of the dead are benefited by the piety of their living friends, when the sacrifice of the Mediator is offered, or alms given in the Church in their behalf. But these services are of advantage only to those who during their lives merited that services of this kind could help them. For there is a manner of life which is neither so good as not to require these services after death, nor so bad that these services are of no avail after death. There is, on the other hand, a kind of life so good as not to require them; and again one so bad that when they depart this life they render no help. Therefore it is here that all the merit and demerit is acquired, by which one can either be relieved or oppressed after death. No one, then, need hope that after he is dead he shall obtain the merit with God which he had neglected here. And, accordingly, those services which the Church celebrates for the commendation of the dead are not opposed to the Apostle's words: "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" [Rom. 14:10; II Cor. 5:10]. For that merit that renders services profitable to a man, each one has acquired while he lives in the body. For it is not to every one that these services are [pg 445] profitable. And why are they not profitable to all, except it be because of the different kinds of lives that men lead in the body? When, therefore, sacrifices either of the altar or of alms of any sort are offered on behalf of the dead who have been baptized, they are thanksgivings for the very good; they are propitiations [propitiationes] for the not very bad; and for the case of the very bad, even though they do not assist the dead, they are a species of consolation to the living. And to those to whom they are profitable, their benefit consists either in full remission of sins, or at least in making the condemnation more tolerable.

§ 83. Augustine and the Donatist Schism

After the recall of the Donatists by the Emperor Julian, the sect rapidly increased, though soon numerous divisions appeared in the body. The more liberal opinions of the Donatist grammarian Tychonius about 370 were adopted by many of the less fanatical. The connection of the party with the Circumcellions alienated others. The contest for rigorism led by Maximianus about 394 occasioned a schism within the Donatist body.

Augustine's activity in the Donatist troubles began as soon as he was made bishop of Hippo, as his town was made up largely of Donatists, who probably constituted more than a half of the population. The books written by him after 400 have alone survived.

The turning-point in the history of Donatism was the Collatio, or conference, held at Carthage in 411. Two hundred and seventy-nine Donatist, and two hundred and eighty-six Catholic, bishops were present. Augustine was one of those who represented the Catholic position. The victory was adjudged by the imperial commissioners to the Catholic party. After this the laws against the sect were enforced relentlessly, and Donatism rapidly lost its importance. The Vandal invasion in 429 changed the condition of things for [pg 446] a time. The last traces of Donatism disappear only with the Moslem invasion in the seventh century.

The importance of the Donatist controversy is that in it were defined the doctrines of the Church and of the sacraments, definitions which, with some modifications, controlled the theology of the Church for centuries.

(a) Optatus, De Schismate Donatistarum, II, 1-3. (MSL, 11:941.)

The unity of the Catholic Church.

Ch. 1. The next thing to do … is to show that there is one Church which Christ called a dove and a bride. Therefore the Church is one, the sanctity of which is derived from the sacraments; and it is not valued according to the pride of persons. Therefore this one dove Christ also calls his beloved bride. This cannot be among heretics and schismatics.… You have said, brother Parmenianus, that it is with you alone … among you in a small part of Africa, in the corner of a small region, but among us in another part of Africa will it not be? In Spain, in Gaul, in Italy, where you are not, will it not be?… And through so many innumerable islands and other provinces, which can scarcely be numbered, will it not be? Wherein then will be the propriety of the Catholic name, since it is called Catholic, because it is reasonable172 and everywhere diffused?

Ch. 2. I have proved that that is the Catholic Church, which spread throughout the whole world, and now are its ornaments to be recalled; and it is to be seen where the first five gifts [i.e., notes of the Church] are, which you say are six. Among these the first is the cathedra, and unless a bishop, who is the angel [the second gift or note according to the Donatists], sit in it, no other gift can be joined. It is to be seen who first placed a see and where.… You cannot deny that in the [pg 447] city of Rome the episcopal cathedra was first placed by Peter, and in it sat Peter, the head of all the Apostles, wherefore he is called Cephas, so that in that one cathedra unity is preserved by all, that the other Apostles might not claim each one for himself a cathedra; so that he is a schismatic and a sinner who against that one cathedra sets up another.

Ch. 3. Therefore Peter first sat in that single cathedra, which is the first gift of the Church, to him succeeded Linus … to Damasus, Siricius, who is our contemporary, with whom the world together with us agree in one fellowship of communion by the interchange of letters. Recite the origin of your cathedra, you who would claim for yourself the Holy Church [cf. Tertullian, De Pr?scriptione, c. 32].

(b) Optatus, De Schismate Donatistarum, V, 4. (MSL, 11:1051.)

The validity of sacraments is not dependent on the character of those who minister them. With this should be compared Augustine, Contra litteras Petiliani Donatist?, II, 38-91, and the treatise De Baptismo contra Donatistas libri septem, which is little more than a working out in a thousand variations of this theme.

In celebrating this sacrament of baptism there are three things which you can neither increase, diminish, nor omit. The first is the Trinity, the second the believer, and the third the minister.… The first two remain ever immutable and unmoved. The Trinity is always the same, the faith in each is one. But the person of him who ministers is clearly not equal to the first two points, in that it alone is mutable.… For it is not one man who always and everywhere baptizes. In this work there were formerly others, and now others still, and again there will be others; those who minister may be changed, the sacraments cannot be changed. Since therefore you see that they who baptize are ministers and are not lords, and the sacraments are holy in themselves, not on account of men, why is it that you claim so much for yourselves? Why is it that you endeavor to exclude God from His gifts? Permit God to be over the things which are His. For that [pg 448] gift cannot be performed by a man because it is divine. If you think it can be so bestowed, you render void the words of the prophets and the promises of God, by which it is proved that God washes, not man.

(c) Augustine, De Baptismo contra Donatistas, IV, 17 (§ 24). (MSL, 43:169.)

Baptism without the Church valid but unprofitable.

Augustine, as opposing the Donatists and agreeing with the Catholic Church, asserted the validity of baptism when conferred by one outside the communion of the Church. It was notorious that Cyprian and the Council of Carthage, A. D. 258 [see ANF, vol. V., pp. 565 ff.; cf. Hefele, § 6], had held an opposite opinion. As Cyprian was the great teacher of North Africa, and in the highest place in the esteem of all, Augustine was forced to make "distinctions." This he did in his theory as to the validity of baptism as in the following passage. The Sixth Book of the same treatise is composed of a statement of the bishops at the Council of Carthage, and Augustine's answer to each statement.

"Can the power of baptism," says Cyprian, "be greater than confession, than martyrdom, that a man should confess Christ before men, and be baptized in his own blood, and yet," he says, "neither does this baptism profit the heretic, even though for confessing Christ he be put to death outside the Church." This is most true; for by being put to death outside the Church, he is proved not to have had that charity of which the Apostle says: "Though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" [I Cor. 13:3]. But if martyrdom is of no avail for the reason that charity is lacking, neither does it profit those who, as Paul says, and Cyprian further sets forth, are living within the Church without charity, in envy and malice; and yet they can both receive and transmit true baptism. "Salvation," he says, "is not without the Church." Who denies this? And therefore whatever men have that belongs to the Church, outside the Church it profits them nothing toward salvation. But it is one thing not to have, another to have it but to no use. He who has it not must be baptized that he may have it; he [pg 449] who has to no use must be corrected, that what he has he may have to some use. Nor is the water in baptism "adulterous," because neither is the creature itself, which God made, evil, nor is the fault to be found in the words of the Gospel in the mouths of any who are astray; but the fault is theirs in whom there is an adulterous spirit, even though it may receive the adornment of the sacrament from a lawful spouse. It therefore can be true that baptism is "common to us and to the heretics," since the Gospel can be common to us, although their error differs from our faith; whether they think otherwise than the truth about the Father or Son or the Holy Spirit; or, being cut away from unity, do not gather with Christ, but scatter abroad, because it is possible that the sacrament of baptism can be common to us if we are the wheat of the Lord with the covetous within the Church and with robbers and drunkards and other pestilent persons, of whom it is said, "They shall not inherit the kingdom of God," and yet the vices by which they are separated from the kingdom of God are not shared by us.

(d) Augustine, Ep. 98, ad Bonifatium. (MSL, 33:363.)

Relation of the sacrament to that of which it is the sign. Sacraments are effective if no hinderance is placed to their working.

On Easter Sunday we say, "This day the Lord rose from the dead," although so many years have passed since His resurrection.… The event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before, it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? And yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that when a man is questioned and answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, does he not declare what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be [pg 450] sacraments at all. [Augustine's general definition of a sacrament is that it is a sign of a sacred thing.] In most cases, moreover, they do, in virtue of this likeness, bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As therefore in a certain manner the sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ, the sacrament of the blood of Christ is the blood of Christ, so the sacrament of faith is faith.… Now, believing is nothing else than having faith; and accordingly, when on behalf of an infant as yet incapable of exercising faith, the answer is given that he believes, this answer means that he has faith because of the sacrament of faith, and in like manner the answer is made that he turns himself toward God because of the sacrament of conversion, since the answer itself belongs to the celebration of the sacrament. Thus the Apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of baptism: "We are buried with Christ by baptism into death." He does not say, "We have signified our being buried with Him," but: "We have been buried with Him." He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.

10. Therefore an infant, although he is not yet a believer in the sense of having that faith which includes the consenting will of those who exercise it, nevertheless becomes a believer through the sacrament of that faith.… The infant, though not yet possessing a faith helped by the understanding, is not obstructing173 faith by an antagonism of the understanding, and therefore receives with profit the sacrament of faith.

(e) Augustine, De Correctione Donatistarum, §§ 22 ff. (MSL, 33:802.)

The argument in favor of using force to compel the Donatists to return to the Church.

[pg 451] Augustine in the early part of the Donatist controversy was not in favor of using force. Like the others, e.g., Optatus, he denied that force had been employed by the Church. About 404 the situation changed, and his opinion did likewise. This work, known also as Epistle CLXXXV, was written circa 417. Compare Augustine's position with the statement of Jerome, "Piety for God is not cruelty," cf. Hagenbach, History of Christian Doctrines, § 135:7. The Donatists had much injured their position by their treatment of a party which had produced a schism in their own body, the Maximianists.

§ 22. Who can love us more than Christ who laid down His life for the sheep? And yet, after calling Peter and the other Apostles by His word alone, in the case of Paul, formerly Saul, the great builder of His Church, but previously its cruel persecutor, He not only constrained him with His voice, but even dashed him to the earth with His power.… Where is what they [the Donatists] are accustomed to cry: "To believe or not to believe is a matter that is free"? Toward whom did Christ use violence? Whom did He compel? Here they have the Apostle Paul. Let them recognize in his case Christ's first compelling and afterward teaching; first striking and afterward consoling. For it is wonderful how he who had been compelled by bodily punishment entered into the Gospel and afterward labored more in the Gospel than all they who were called by word only; and the greater fear compelled him toward love, that perfect love which casts out fear.

§ 23. Why, therefore, should not the Church compel her lost sons to return if the lost sons compelled others to perish? Although even men whom they have not compelled but only led astray, their loving mother embraces with more affection if they are recalled to her bosom through the enforcement of terrible but salutary laws, and are the objects of far more deep congratulation than those whom she has never lost. Is it not a part of the care of the shepherd, when any sheep have left the flock, even though not violently forced away, but led astray by soft words and by coaxings, and they have begun to be possessed by strangers, to bring them back to the [pg 452] fold of his master when he has found them, by the terrors or even the pains of the whip, if they wish to resist; especially since, if they multiply abundantly among the fugitive slaves and robbers, he has the more right in that the mark of the master is recognized on them, which is not outraged in those whom we receive but do not baptize?174 So indeed is the error of the sheep to be corrected that the sign of the Redeemer shall not be marred. For if any one is marked with the royal stamp by a deserter, who has himself been marked with it, and they receive forgiveness, and the one returns to his service, and the other begins to be in the service in which he had not yet been, that mark is not effaced in either of them, but rather it is recognized in both, and approved with due honor because it is the king's. Since they cannot show that that is bad to which they are compelled,175 they maintained that they ought not to be compelled to the good. But we have shown that Paul was compelled by Christ; therefore the Church in compelling the Donatists is following the example of her Lord, though in the first instance she waited in hopes of not having to compel any, that the prediction might be fulfilled concerning the faith of kings and peoples.

§ 24. For in this sense also we may interpret without absurdity the apostolic declaration when the blessed Apostle Paul says: "Being ready to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled" [II Cor. 10:6]. Whence also the Lord himself bids the guests to be brought first to His great supper, and afterward compelled; for when His servants answered Him, "Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room," He said to them: "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in" [Luke 14:22, 23]. In those, therefore, who were first brought in [pg 453] with gentleness the former obedience is fulfilled, but in those who were compelled the disobedience is avenged. For what else is the meaning of "Compel them to come in," after it had previously been said, "Bring in," and the answer was: "Lord, it is done as Thou commandest, and yet there is room"? Wherefore if by the power which the Church has received by divine appointment in its due season, through the religious character and faith of kings, those who are found in the highways and hedges-that is, in heresies and schisms-are compelled to come in, then let them not find fault because they are compelled, but consider to what they are so compelled. The supper of the Lord, the unity, is of the body of Christ, not only in the sacrament of the altar but also in the bond of peace.

(f) Augustine, Contra epistulam Parmeniani, II, 13 (29). (MSL, 43:71.)

Indelibility of baptism.

Parmenianus was the Donatist bishop who succeeded Donatus in the see of Carthage. The letter here answered was written to Tychonius, a leading Donatist. In it Parmenianus calls the Church defiled because it contained unworthy members. The answer of Augustine was written in 400, many years later.

If any one, either a deserter or one who has never served as a soldier, signs any private person with the military mark, would not he who has signed be punished as a deserter, when he has been arrested, and so much the more severely as it could be proved that he had never at all served as a soldier, and at the same time along with him would not the most impudent giver of the sign, be punished if he have surrendered him? Or perchance he takes no military service, but is afraid of the military mark [character] in his body, and he betakes himself to the clemency of the Emperor, and when he has poured forth prayers and obtained forgiveness, he then begins to undertake military service, when the man has been liberated and corrected is that mark [character] ever repeated, and not rather is he not recognized and approved? Would [pg 454] the Christian sacraments by chance be less enduring than this bodily mark, since we see that apostates do not lack baptism, and to them it is never given again when they return by means of penitence, and therefore it is judged not possible to lose it.

(g) Augustine, Contra epistulam Manich?i, ch. 4 (5). (MSL, 42:175.) Cf. Mirbt, n. 132.

Authority of the Catholic Church.

This work, written in 396 or 397, is important in this connection as showing the place the Catholic Church took in the mind of Augustine as an authority and the nature of that authority.

Not to speak of that wisdom which you [the Manich?ans] do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of people and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of Peter the Apostle, to whom the Lord after His resurrection gave it in charge to feed His sheep down to the present episcopate. And so lastly does the name itself of Catholic, which not without reason, amid so many heresies, that Church alone has so retained that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets no heretic will venture to point to his own basilica or house. Since then so many and so great are the very precious ties belonging to the Christian name which rightly keep a man who is a believer in the Catholic Church … no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

Let us see what Manich?us teaches us; and in particular let us examine that treatise which you call the Fundamental Epistle in which almost all that you believe is contained. For in that unhappy time when we read it, we were called by you [pg 455] enlightened. The epistle begins: "Manich?us, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the providence of God the Father. These are wholesome words from the perennial and living fountain." Now, if you please, patiently give heed to my inquiry. I do not believe that he is an apostle of Christ. Do not, I beg of you, be enraged and begin to curse. You know that it is my rule not to believe without consideration anything offered by you. "Wherefore I ask, who is this Manich?us?" You reply, "An apostle of Christ." I do not believe it. Now you are at a loss what to say or do; for you promised to give me knowledge of the truth, and you force me to believe something I do not know. Perhaps you will read the Gospel to me, and from it you will attempt to defend the person of Manich?us. But should you meet with a person not yet believing the Gospel, what could you reply to him if he said to you: "I do not believe"? For my part I should not believe the Gospel except the authority of the Catholic Church moved me. So then I have assented to them when they say to me, "Believe the Gospel"; why should I not assent to them saying to me: "Do not believe the Manich?ans"?

§ 84. The Pelagian Controversy

The Pelagian controversy, in which the characteristic teaching of Augustine found its best expression, may be divided into three periods. In the first period, beginning about 411, Pelagius and C?lestius, who had been teaching at Rome unmolested since 400 and had come to Carthage, probably on account of the barbarian attack upon Rome, are opposed at Carthage, and six propositions attributed to C?lestius are condemned at a council there, where he attempted to be ordained. C?lestius leaves for the East and is ordained at Ephesus, 412, and Pelagius soon after follows

him. In the second period, 415-417, the controversy is in the East as well as in the West, as Augustine by letters to Jerome gave warning [pg 456] about Pelagius, and councils are held at Jerusalem and Diospolis, where Pelagius is acquitted of heresy. This was probably due as much to the general sympathy of the Eastern theologians with his doctrine as to any alleged misrepresentation by Pelagius. But in North Africa synods are also held condemning Pelagius, and their findings are approved by Innocent of Rome. But Pelagius and C?lestius send confessions of faith to Zosimus (417-418), Innocent's successor, who reproves the Africans and acquits Pelagius and C?lestius as entirely sound. In the third period, 417-431, the attack on Pelagius is taken up at Rome itself by some of the clergy, and an imperial edict is obtained against the Pelagians. Zosimus changes his opinion and approves the findings of a general council called at Carthage in 418, in which the doctrines of original sin and the need of grace are asserted. The last act of the controversy in its earlier form, after the deposition of the leading Pelagians, among them Julian, of Eclanum, their theologian, is the condemnation of Pelagius at the Council of Ephesus, in 431. V. infra, § 89.

Additional source material: See A. Bruckner, Quellen zur Geschichte des pelagianischen Streites (in Latin), in Krüger's Quellenschriften, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1906. The principal works of Augustine bearing on the Pelagian controversy may be found in PNF, ser. I, vol. V.

(a) Augustine, Ep. 146, ad Pelagium. (MSL, 33:596.)

This was probably written before the controversy. As to its use later, see Augustine, De gestis Pelagii, chs. 51 (26) f. (PNF)

I thank you very much that you have been so kind as to make me glad by your letter informing me of your welfare. May the Lord recompense you with those blessings that you forever be good and may live eternally with Him who is eternal, my lord greatly beloved and brother greatly longed for. Although I do not acknowledge that anything in me deserves the eulogies which the letter of your benevolence contains about me, I cannot, however, be ungrateful for the good-will therein manifested toward one so insignificant, while suggesting [pg 457] at the same time that you should rather pray for me that I may be made by the Lord such as you suppose me already to be.

(b) Augustine. De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione et de Baptismo Parvulorum. (MSL, 44:185, 188.)

Augustine's testimony as to the character of Pelagius.

This work was written in 412, after the condemnation of C?lestius at Carthage. It was the first in the series of polemical writings against the teaching of Pelagius. The first book is especially important as a statement of Augustine's position as to the nature of justifying grace.

It should be recalled that Pelagius was a monk of exemplary life, and a zealous preacher of morality. It may be said that in him the older moralistic tendency in theology was embodied in opposition to the new religious spirit of Augustine. Cf. Bruckner, op. cit., n. 4.

III. 1. However, within the last few days I have read some writings of Pelagius, a holy man, as I hear, who has made no small progress in the Christian life, and these writings contain very brief expositions of the Epistles of Paul the Apostle.176

III. 3. But we must not omit that this good and praiseworthy man (as they who know him describe him as being) has not advanced this argument against the natural transmission of sin in his own person.

(c) Pelagius, Fragments, in Augustine's De Gratia Christi et de Peccato Originali. (MSL, 44:364, 379.)

The teaching of Pelagius can be studied not only in his opponent's statements but in his own words. These are to be found in his commentary (see note to previous selection), and also in fragments found in Augustine's writings and several minor pieces (see below).

I. 7. Very ignorant persons think that we do wrong in this matter to divine grace, because we say that it by no means perfects sanctity in us without our will: as if God could impose any commands upon His grace and would not supply also the help of His grace to those to whom He has given commands, so that men might more easily accomplish through grace what they are required to do by their free will. And [pg 458] this grace we do not for our part, as you suppose, allow to consist merely in the law, but also in the help of God. God helps us by His teaching and revelation when He opens the eyes of our heart; when He points out to us the future, that we may not be absorbed in the present; when He discovers to us the snares of the devil; when He enlightens us with manifold and ineffable gifts of heavenly grace. Does the man who says this appear to you to be a denier of grace? Does he not acknowledge both man's free will and God's grace?

I. 39. Speaking of the text Rom. 7:23: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."

Now what you [i.e., Augustine, whom he is addressing] wish us to understand of the Apostle himself, all Church writers assert that he spoke in the person of the sinner, and of one still under the law, who by reason of very long custom of vice was held bound, as it were, by a certain necessity of sinning, and who, although he desired good with his will in practice, indeed, was driven into evil. In the person, however, of one man the Apostle designates the people who sinned still under the ancient law, and this people, he declares, are to be delivered from this evil of custom through Christ, who first of all remits all sins in baptism, to those who believe on Him, and then by an imitation of Himself incites them to perfect holiness, and by the example of virtues overcomes the evil custom of sins.

(d) Pelagius, Epistula ad Demetriadem. (MSL, 33:1100 ff.)

This epistle, from which selections are given, was written probably about 412 or 413. As it gives a statement of the teaching of Pelagius in his own words, it is of especial historical interest. Demetrias was a virgin, and probably under the spiritual direction of Pelagius, though little is known of her. Text in Bruckner, op. cit., n. 56.

Ch. 2. As often as I have to speak of the principles of virtue and a holy life, I am accustomed first of all to call attention [pg 459] to the capacity and character of human nature, and to show what it is able to accomplish; then from this to arouse the feelings of the hearer, that he may strive after different kinds of virtue, that he may permit himself to be roused to acts which perhaps he had regarded as impossible. For we are quite unable to travel the way of virtue if hope does not accompany us. For all attempts to accomplish anything cease if one is in doubt whether he will attain the goal. This order of exhortation I follow in other minor writings and in this case also. I believe it must be kept especially in mind where the good of nature needs to be set forth the more in detail as the life is to be more perfectly formed, that the spirit may not be more neglectful and slow in its striving after virtue, as it believes itself to have the less ability, and when it is ignorant of what is within it, think that it does not possess it.

Ch. 3. One must be careful to see to it that … one does not think that a man is not made good because he can do evil and is not compelled to an immutable necessity of doing good through the might of nature. For if you diligently consider it and turn your mind to the subtler understanding of the matter, the better and superior position of man will appear in that from which his inferior condition was inferred. But just in this freedom in either direction, in this liberty toward either side, is placed the glory of our rational nature. Therein, I say, consists the entire honor of our nature, therein its dignity; from this the very good merit praise, from this their reward. For there would be for those who always remain good no virtue if they had not been able to have chosen the evil. For since God wished to present to the rational creature the gift of voluntary goodness and the power of the free will, by planting in man the possibility of turning himself toward either side, He made His special gift the ability to be what he would be in order that he, being capable of good and evil, could do either and could turn his will to either of them.

Ch. 8. We defend the advantage of nature not in the sense [pg 460] that we say it cannot do evil, since we declare that it is capable of good and evil; we only protect it from reproach. It should not appear as if we were driven to evil by a disease of nature, we who do neither good nor bad without our will, and to whom there is always freedom to do one of two things, since always we are able to do both.… Nothing else makes it difficult for us to do good than long custom of sinning which has infected us since we were children, and has gradually corrupted us for many years, so that afterward it holds us bound to it and delivered over to it, so that it almost seems as if it had the same force as nature.

If before the Law, as we are told, and long before the appearance of the Redeemer, various persons can be named who lived just and holy lives, how much more after His appearance must we believe that we are able to do the same, we who have been taught through Christ's grace, and born again to be better men; and we who by His blood have been reconciled and purified, and by His example incited to more perfect righteousness, ought to be better than they who were before the Law, better than they who were under the law.

(e) Marius Mercator, Commonitorium super nomine C?lestii, ch. 1. (MSL, 48:67.) Cf. Kirch, nn. 737 ff.

The Council of Carthage and the opinions of C?lestius condemned at that council, 411.

Marius Mercator, a friend and supporter of Augustine, was one of the most determined opponents of Pelagianism, as also of Nestorianism. His dates are not well determined. In 418 he sent works to Augustine to be examined by the latter, and he seems to have lived until after the Council of Chalcedon, 451. The work from which the selection is taken was written, 429, in Greek, and translated and republished in Latin, 431 or 432. With the following should be compared Augustine's De Gratia Christi et Peccato Originali, II, 2f., and Ep. 175:6; 157:3, 22.

A certain C?lestius, a eunuch from his mother's womb, a disciple and auditor of Pelagius, left Rome about twenty years ago and came to Carthage, the metropolis of all Africa, and there he was accused of the following heads before Aurelius, [pg 461] bishop of that city, by a complaint from a certain Paulinus, a deacon of Bishop Ambrose of Milan, of sacred memory, as the record of the acts stands in which the same complaint is inserted (a copy of the acts of the council we have in our hands) that he not only taught this himself, but also sent in different directions throughout the provinces those who agreed with him to disseminate among the people these things, that is:

1. Adam was made mortal and would have died whether he had sinned or had not sinned.

2. The sin of Adam injured himself alone, and not the human race.

3. New-born children are in that state in which Adam was before his fall.

4. Neither by the death and sin of Adam does the whole race die, nor by the resurrection of Christ does the whole race rise.

5. The Law leads to the kingdom of heaven as well as the Gospel.

6. Even before the coming of the Lord there were men without sin.

(f) Pelagius. Confessio fidei. (MSL, 45:1716 f.) Hahn, § 209.

The confession of faith addressed to Innocent of Rome, but actually laid before Zosimus, in 417, consists of an admirably orthodox statement of the doctrine of the Trinity and of the incarnation, an expansion of the Nicene formula with reference to perversions of the faith by various heretics, and in conclusion a statement of Pelagius's own opinions regarding free will, grace, and sin. It is due to the irony of history that it should have been found among the works of both Jerome and Augustine, long passed current as a composition of Augustine, Sermo CCXXXVI, and should have been actually quoted by the Sorbonne, in 1521, in its articles against Luther. It also appears in the Libri Carolini, III, 1, as an orthodox exposition of the faith. The passages which bear upon the characteristic Pelagian doctrine are here given. Fragments of the confessions of other Pelagians, e.g., C?lestius, and Julius of Eclanum, are found in Hahn, §§ 210 and 211. For the proceedings in the East, see Hefele, § 118.

[pg 462] We hold that there is one baptism, which we assert is to be administered to children in the same words of the sacrament as it is administered to adults.…

We execrate also the blasphemy of those who say that anything impossible to do is commanded man by God, and the commands of God can be observed, not by individuals but by all in common, also those who with the Manich?ans condemn first marriages or with the Cataphrygians condemn second marriages.… We so confess the will is free that we say that we always need the aid of God, and they err who with the Manich?ans assert that man cannot avoid sins as well as those who with Jovinan say that man cannot sin; for both take away the liberty of the will. But we say that man can both sin and not sin, so that we confess that we always have free will.

(g) Augustine, Sermo 131. (MSL, 38:734.) Cf. Kirch, n. 672.

Causa finita est.

Late in 416 synods were held in Carthage and Mileve condemning Pelagianism. On January 27, 417, Innocent wrote to the Africans, approving their councils and condemning Pelagianism, incidentally stating the supreme authority of the Roman See and requiring that nothing should ever be definitively settled without consulting the Apostolic See (text of passage in Denziger. ed. 1911, n. 100). September 23 of the same year, about the time when Pelagius and C?lestius were at Rome with Zosimus seeking to rehabilitate themselves in the West, Augustine delivered a sermon in which he made the following statement. It is the basis of the famous phrase Roma locuta, causa finita est, a saying which is apocryphal, however, and not found in the works of Augustine.

What, therefore, is said concerning the Jews, that we see in them [i.e., the Pelagians]. They have the zeal for God; I bear witness, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Why is it not according to knowledge? Because, being ignorant of the justice of God and wishing to establish their own, they are not subject to the righteousness of God [Rom. 10:2 f.]. My brethren, have patience with me.

[pg 463] When you find such, do not conceal them, let there be not false mercy in you. Most certainly when you find such, do not conceal them. Refute those contradicting, and those resisting bring to me. For already two councils about this case have been sent to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts have come. The case has been ended; would that the error might some time end! Therefore let us warn them that they pay attention; let us teach them that they may be instructed; let us pray that they may be changed.

(h) Zosimus, III Ep. ad Episcopos Afric? de causa C?lestii A. D. 417. (MSL, 45:1721.) Cf. Bruckner, op. cit., n. 28.

Fragments of his later Epistula tractoria together with other letters may be found in Bruckner, op. cit.

Likewise Pelagius sent letters also containing an extended justification of himself, to which he added a profession of his faith, what he condemned and what he followed, without any dissimulation, so that all subtilities of interpretation might be avoided. There was a public recitation of these. They contained all things like those which C?lestius had previously presented and expressed in the same sense and drawn up in the same thoughts. Would that some of you, dearest brethren, could have been present at the reading of the letters. What was the joy of the holy men who were present; what was the admiration of each of them! Some of them could scarcely restrain themselves from tears and weeping, that such men of absolutely correct faith could have been suspected. Was there a single place in which the grace of God or his aid was omitted?

(i) Council of Carthage, A. D. 418, Canons. Bruns, I, 188.

These canons of the Council of Carthage, A. D. 418, were incorporated in the Codex Canon Ecclesi? African? adopted at the Council of Carthage A. D. 419. The numbers given in brackets are the numbers in that Codex. Interprovincial councils were known in North Africa as "general councils."

[pg 464] In the consulate of the most glorious emperors, Honorius for the twelfth time and Theodosius for the eighth, on the calends of May, at Carthage in the Secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus, when Bishop Aurelius presided over the general council, the deacons standing by, it pleased all the bishops, whose names and subscriptions are indicated, met together in the holy synod of the church of Carthage:

1 [109]. That whosoever should say that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in the body-that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because of the desert [or merit] of sin, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

2 [110]. Likewise that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother's womb should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which is removed by the layer of regeneration, whence the conclusion follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.

For not otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, "By one man sin has come into the world,177 and so it passed upon all men in that all have sinned," than as the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith, even infants, who could have committed no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.

3 [111]. Likewise, that whoever should say that the grace of God, by which a man is justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, avails only for the remission of past sins, and not for assistance against committing sins in the future, let him be anathema.

4 [112]. Also, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us not to sin only in that by it are revealed to us and opened to our understanding [pg 465] the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let him be anathema. For when the Apostle says, "Wisdom puffeth up, but charity edifieth," it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace of Christ for that which puffeth us up, but have it not for that which edifieth, since each is the gift of God, both to know what we ought to do, and to love it so as to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while charity is edifying us. For as it is written of God, "Who teacheth man knowledge," so also it is written, "Love is of God."

5 [113]. It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification is given to us only that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were commanded to do through our free will; as if when grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema. For the Lord spake concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said, "Without me ye can do nothing," and not "Without me ye can do it but with difficulty."

6 [114]. It seemed also good that as St. John the Apostle says, "If ye shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"; whosoever thinks that this should be so understood as to mean that out of humility we ought to say that we have sin, and not because it is really so, let him be anathema. For the Apostle goes on to add, "But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity," where it is sufficiently clear that this is said not only in humility but also in truth. For the Apostle might have said, "If we shall say we have no sins we shall extol ourselves, and humility is not in us"; but when he says, "we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us," he sufficiently intimates that he who affirmed that he had no sin would speak not that which is true but that which is false.

[pg 466] 7 [115]. It has seemed good that whosoever should say that when in the Lord's Prayer, the saints say, "Forgive us our trespasses," they say this not for themselves, because they have no need of this petition, but for the rest who are sinners of the people; and that therefore none of the saints can say, "Forgive me my trespasses," but "Forgive us our trespasses"; so that the just is understood to seek this for others rather than for himself, let him be anathema.

8 [116]. Likewise it seemed good, that whosoever asserts that these words of the Lord's Prayer when they say, "Forgive us our trespasses," are said by the saints out of humility and not in truth, let them be anathema.

The following canon, although it seems to have been enacted for the case of Apiarius, is nevertheless often cited in the same connection as the eight against Pelagius, and is therefore given here for the sake of convenience.

18 [125]. Likewise, it seemed good that presbyters, deacons, or other of the lower clergy who are to be tried, if they question the decision of their bishops, the neighboring bishops having been invited by them with the consent of their bishops shall hear them and determine whatever separates them. But should they think that an appeal should be carried from them, let them not carry the appeal except to African councils or to the primates of their provinces. But whoso shall think of carrying an appeal across the seas, shall be admitted to communion by no one in Africa.178

§ 85. Semi-Pelagian Controversy

With the condemnation of Pelagianism the doctrine of Augustine in its logically worked out details was not necessarily approved. The necessity of baptism for the remission of sins in all cases was approved as well as the necessity of grace. The doctrine of predestination, an essential feature in the Augustinian system, was not only not accepted but was [pg 467] vigorously opposed by many who heartily condemned Pelagianism. The ensuing discussion, known as the Semi-Pelagian controversy (427-529), was largely carried on in Gaul, which after the Vandal occupation of North Africa, became the intellectual centre of the Church in the West. The leading opponent of Augustine was John Cassian (ob. 435), abbot of a monastery at Marseilles, hence the term Massilians applied to his party, and his pupil, Vincent of Lerins, author of Commonitorium, written 434. The chief Augustinians were Hilary and Prosper of Aquitaine. The discussion was not continuous. About 475 it broke out again when Lucidus was condemned at a council at Lyons and forced to retract his predestinarian views; and again about 520. The matter received what is regarded as its solution in the Council of Orange, 529, confirmed by Boniface II in 531. By the decrees of this council so much of the Augustinian system as could be combined with the teaching and practice of the Church as to the sacraments was formally approved.

(a) John Cassian. Collationes, XIII. 7 ff. (MSL, 49:908.)

John Cassian, born about 360, was by birth and education a man of the East, and does not appear in the West until 405, when he went to Rome on some business connected with the exile of Chrysostom, his friend and patron. In 415 he established two monasteries at Marseilles, one for men and the other for women. He had himself been educated as a monk and made a careful study of monasticism in Egypt and Palestine. Western monasticism is much indebted to him for his writings. De Institutis C?nobiorum and the Collationes. In the former, he describes the monastic system of Palestine and Egypt and the principal vices to which the monastic life is liable; in the latter, divided into three parts, Cassian gives reports or what purports to be reports of conversations he and his friend Germanus had with Egyptian ascetics. These books were very popular during the Middle Ages and exerted a wide influence.

Ch. 7. When His [God's] kindness sees in us even the very smallest spark of good-will shining forth or which He himself has, as it were, struck out from the hard flints of our hearts, He fans it and fosters it and nurses it with His breath, as He "will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge [pg 468] of the truth" [I Tim. 2:4].… For He is true and lieth not when He lays down with an oath: "As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his way and live" [Ezek. 33:11]. For if he willeth not that one of His little ones should perish, how can we think without grievous blasphemy that He willeth not all men universally, but only some instead of all be saved. Those then who perish, perish against His will, as He testifieth against each of them day by day: "Turn from your evil ways for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" [Ezek. 33:11] … The grace of Christ is then at hand every day, which, while it "willeth all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," calleth all without exception, saying: "Come all unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" [Matt. 11:28]. But if he calls not all generally but only some, it follows that not all are heavy laden with either original sin or actual sin, and that this saying is not a true one: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" [Rom. 3:23]; nor can we believe that "death passed on all men" [Rom. 5:12]. And so far do all who perish, perish against the will of God, that God cannot be said to have made death, as the Scripture itself testifieth: "For God made not death, neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living" [Wisdom 1:13].

Ch. 8. When He sees anything of good-will arisen in us He at once enlightens it and strengthens it and urges it on to salvation, giving increase to that which He himself implanted or He sees to have arisen by our own effort.

Ch. 9. … But that it may be still more evident that through the good of nature, which is bestowed by the kindness of the Creator, sometimes the beginnings of a good-will arise, yet cannot come to the completion of virtue unless they are directed by the Lord, the Apostle is a witness, saying: "For to will is present with me, but to perform what is good I find not" [Rom. 7:18].

Ch. 11. … If we say that the beginnings of a good-will [pg 469] are always inspired in us by the grace of God, what shall we say about the faith of Zacch?us, or of the piety of that thief upon the cross, who by their own desire brought violence to bear upon the Kingdom of Heaven, and so anticipated the special leadings of their callings?…

Ch. 12. We should not hold that God made man such that he neither wills nor is able to do good. Otherwise He has not granted him a free will, if He has suffered him only to will or be capable of evil, but of himself neither to will nor be capable of what is good.… It cannot, therefore, be doubted that there are by nature seeds of goodness implanted in every soul by the kindness of the Creator; but unless these are quickened by the assistance of God, they will not be able to attain to an increase of perfection; for, as the blessed Apostle says: "Neither is he that planteth anything nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase" [I Cor. 3:7]. But that freedom of will is to some degree in a man's power is very clearly taught in the book called The Pastor,179 where two angels are said to be attached to each one of us, i.e. a good and a bad one, while it lies in a man's own option to choose which to follow. And, therefore, the will always remains free in man, and it can either neglect or delight in the grace of God. For the Apostle would not have commanded, saying, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" [Phil. 2:12], had he not known that it could be advanced or neglected by us.… But that they should not think that they did not need divine aid he adds: "For it is God who worketh in you both to will and accomplish His good pleasure" [Phil. 2:13]. The mercy of the Lord, therefore, goes before the will of man, for it is said, "My God will prevent me with His mercy" [Psalm 59:10], and again, that He may put our desire to the test, our will goes before God who waits, and for our good delays.

(b) Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, chs. 2, 23, 26, (MSL, 50:659.)

[pg 470] The rule of Catholic verity.

Vincent of Lerins wrote his Commonitorium in 434, three years after the death of Augustine, who had been commended in 432 to the clergy of Gaul by Celestine of Rome [Ep. 21; Denziger, nn. 128-142; Mansi IV, 454 ff.]. Vincent attacked Augustine in his Commonitorium, not openly, but, so far as the work has been preserved, covertly, under the pseudonym of Peregrinus. The work consists of two books, of which the second is lost with the exception of what appear to be some concluding chapters, or a summary taking the place of the book. In the first book he lays down the general principle as to the tests of Catholic truth. In doing so he is careful to point out several cases of very great teachers, renowned for learning, ability, and influence, who, nevertheless, erred against the test of Catholic truth, and brought forward opinions which, on account of their novelty, were false. It is a working out in detail of the principles of the idea of Tertullian in his De Pr?scriptione [v. supra, § 27]. The Augustinian doctrines of predestination and grace could not stand the test of the appeal to antiquity. After laying down his test of truth it appears to have been the author's intention to prove thereby the doctrine of Augustine false. The so-called "Vincentian rule" is often quoted without a thought that it was intended, primarily, as an attack upon Augustine. The Commonitorium may be found translated in PNF, ser. II, vol. XI.

Ch. 2 [4]. I have often inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and, so to speak, universal rule I might be able to distinguish the truth of the Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity, and I have always, and from nearly all, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds of heretics as they arise, or to avoid their snares, and to continue sound and complete in the faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our faith in two ways: first, by the authority of the divine Law, and then, by the tradition of the Catholic Church.

But here some one, perhaps, will ask: Since the canon of Scripture is complete and sufficient for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to add to it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason: because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words [pg 471] one way, another in another way; so that almost as many opinions may be drawn from it as there are men.… Therefore it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies, and of such various errors, that the rule of a right understanding of the prophets and Apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself all possible care should be taken that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For that is truly and properly "Catholic" which, as the name implies and the reason of the thing declares, comprehends all universally. This will be the case if we follow universality, antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality in this way, if we confess that one faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in nowise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at least almost all, priests and doctors.

Ch. 23 [59]. The Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds; does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another's, but, while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view-if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and to polish it; if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it; if any already ratified and defined, to keep and guard it. Finally, what other objects have councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity, should in the future be believed intelligently; that what was before preached coldly, should in the future be [pg 472] preached earnestly; that what before was practised negligently, should henceforth be practised with double solicitude?

Passage referring especially to Augustine.

Ch. 26 [69]. But what do they say? "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down"; that is, "If thou wouldest be a son of God, and wouldest receive the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, cast thyself down; that is, cast thyself down from the doctrine and tradition of that sublime Church, which is imagined to be nothing less than the very temple of God." And if one should ask one of the heretics who gives this advice: How do you prove it? What ground have you for saying that I ought to cast away the universal and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? he has only the answer ready: "For it is written"; and forthwith he produces a thousand testimonies, a thousand examples, a thousand authorities from the Law, from the Psalms, from the Apostles, from the prophets, by means of which, interpreted on a new and wrong principle, the unhappy soul is precipitated from the height of Catholic truth to the lowest abyss of heresy. Then with the accompanying promises, the heretics are wont marvellously to beguile the incautious. For they dare to teach and promise that in their church, that is, in the conventicle of their communion, there is a certain great and special and altogether personal grace of God, so that whosoever pertain to their number, without any labor, without any effort, without any industry, even though they neither ask, nor seek, nor knock,180 have such a dispensation from God, that borne up of angel hands, that is, preserved by the protection of angels, it is impossible they should ever dash their feet against a stone, that is, that they should ever be offended.

(c) Council of Orange, A. D. 529, Canons. Bruns II, 176. Cf. Denziger, n. 174.

[pg 473] The end of the Semi-Pelagian controversy.

The Council of Orange, A. D. 529, was made up of several bishops and some lay notables who had gathered for the dedication of a church at Orange. C?sarius of Arles had received from Felix IV of Rome eight statements against the Semi-Pelagian teaching. He added some more of his own to them, and had them passed as canons by the company gathered for the dedication. It is noteworthy that the lay notables signed along with the bishops. Boniface II, to whom the canons were sent, confirmed them in 532: "We approve your above written confession as agreeable to the Catholic rule of the Fathers." Cf. Hefele, § 242. For the sources of the canons, see Seeberg, History of Doctrines, Eng. trans., I, 380, note 3. For the sake of brevity the scriptural quotations are not given, merely indicated by references to the Bible.

Canon 1. Whoever says that by the offence of the disobedience of Adam not the entire man, that is, in body and soul, was changed for the worse, but that the freedom of his soul remained uninjured, and his body only was subject to corruption, has been deceived by the error of Pelagius and opposes Scripture [Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:16; II Peter 2:19].

Canon 2. Whoever asserts that the transgression of Adam injured himself only, and not his offspring, or that death only of the body, which is the penalty of sin, but not also sin, which is the death of the soul, passed by one man to the entire human race, wrongs God and contradicts the Apostle [Rom. 5:12].

Canon 3. Whoever says that the grace of God can be bestowed in reply to human petition, but not that the grace brings it about so that it is asked for by us, contradicts Isaiah the prophet and the Apostle [Is. 65:1; Rom. 10:20].

Canon 4. Whoever contends that our will, to be set free from sin, may anticipate God's action, and shall not confess that it is brought about by the infusion of the Holy Spirit and his operation in us, that we wish to be set free, resists that same Holy Spirit speaking through Solomon: "The will is prepared by the Lord" [Proverbs 8:35, cf. LXX; not so in Vulgate or Heb.], and the Apostle [Phil. 2:13].

Canon 5. Whoever says the increase, as also the beginning of faith and the desire of believing, by which we believe in [pg 474] Him who justifies the impious, and we come to the birth of holy baptism, is not by the free gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit turning our will from unbelief to belief, from impiety to piety, but belongs naturally to us, is declared an adversary of the apostolic preaching [Phil. 1:6; Ephes. 2:8]. For they say that faith by which we believe in God is natural, and they declare that all those who are strangers to the Church of Christ in some way are believing.

Canon 6. Whoever says that to us who, without the grace of God, believe, will, desire, attempt, struggle for, watch, strive for, demand, ask, knock, mercy is divinely bestowed, and does not rather confess that it is brought about by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in us that believe, will, and do all these other things as we ought, and annexes the help of grace to human humility and obedience, and does not admit that it is the gift of that same grace that we are obedient and humble, opposes the Apostle [I Cor. 4:7].

Canon 7. Whoever asserts that by the force of nature we can rightly think or choose anything good, which pertains to eternal life, or be saved, that is, assent to the evangelical preaching, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all grace to assent to and believe the truth, is deceived by an heretical spirit, not understanding the voice of the Lord [John 15:5], and of the Apostle [II Cor. 3:5].

Canon 8. Whoever asserts that some by mercy, others by free will, which in all who have been born since the transgression of the first man is evidently corrupt, are able to come to the grace of baptism, is proved an alien from the faith. For he asserts that the free will of all has not been weakened by the sin of the first man, or he evidently thinks that it has been so injured that some, however, are able without the revelation of God to attain, by their own power, to the mystery of eternal salvation. Because the Lord himself shows how false this is, who declares that not some, but no one was able to come to Him unless the Father drew him [pg 475] [John 6:4], and said so to Peter [Matt. 16:17] and the Apostle [I Cor. 12:3].

The canons that follow are less important. The whole concludes with a brief statement regarding the points at issue, as follows:

And so according to the above sentences of the Holy Scriptures and definitions of ancient Fathers, by God's aid, we believe that we ought to believe and preach:

That by the sin of the first man, free will was so turned aside and weakened that afterward no one is able to love God as he ought, or believe in God, or do anything for God, which is good, except the grace of divine mercy comes first to him [Phil. 1:6, 29; Ephes. 2:8; I Cor. 4:7, 7:25; James 1:17; John 3:27].…

We also believe this to be according to the Catholic faith, that grace having been received in baptism, all who have been baptized, can and ought, by the aid and support of Christ, to perform those things which belong to the salvation of the soul, if they labor faithfully.

But not only do we not believe that some have been predestinated to evil by the divine power, but also, if there are any who wish to believe so evil a thing, we say to them, with all detestation, anathema.

Also this we profitably confess and believe, that in every good we do not begin and afterward are assisted by the mercy of God, but without any good desert preceding, He first inspires in us faith and love in Him, so that we both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism with His help are able to perform those things which are pleasing to Him. Whence it is most certainly to be believed that in the case of that thief, whom the Lord called to the fatherland of paradise, and Cornelius the Centurion, to whom an angel of the Lord was sent, and Zacch?us, who was worthy of receiving the Lord himself, their so wonderful faith was not of nature, but was the gift of the divine bounty.

And because we desire and wish our definition of the ancient [pg 476] Fathers, written above, to be a medicine not only for the clergy but also for the laity, it has been decided that the illustrious and noble men, who have assembled with us at the aforesaid festival, shall subscribe it with their own hand.

§ 86. The Roman Church as the Centre of the Catholic Roman Element of the West

In the confusion of the fifth century, when the provinces of the Roman Empire were being lopped off one by one, Italy invaded, and the larger political institutions disappearing, the Church was the one institution that maintained itself. In not a few places among the barbarians the bishops became the acknowledged heads of the Roman element of the communities. In meeting the threatened invasion of Italy by Attila, Leo was the representative of the Roman people, the head of the embassy sent to induce the Hun to recross the Danube. Under such circumstances the see of Rome constantly gained in importance politically and ecclesiastically. As a centre of unity it was far more powerful than a feeble emperor at Ravenna or puppets set up by barbarians. It was the one and only great link between the provinces and the representative of the ancient order. It represented Rome, an efficient and generally gratefully recognized authority. In the development of the papal idea the first stadium was completed with the pontificate of Leo the Great (440-461), who, fully conscious of the inherited Petrine prerogatives, expressed them the most clearly, persistently, and, on the whole, most successfully of any pontiff before Gregory the Great. Leo, therefore, stands at the end of a development marked by the utterances of Victor, Cornelius, Siricius, Innocent I, Zosimus, Boniface I, and Celestine. For their statements of the authority of the Roman see, see Denziger, under their names, also Kirch and Mirbt. The whole may be found combined in one statement in Schwanne, Dogmengeschichte, I, 413 f.; II, 661-698.

[pg 477] Additional source material: In English there is comparatively little except the writings of Leo, see especially Sermones 2, 82, 84; Epistul? 4, 6, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 105, 167; Jerome, Ep. 146, ad Evangelum. Kirch, Mirbt, and Denziger give many references to original texts and citations.

(a) Leo the Great, Sermo 3. (MSL, 55:145 f.)

On the prerogatives of Peter and his see.

Ch. 2. … From His overruling and eternal providence we have received also the support of the Apostle's aid, which assuredly does not cease from its operation; and the strength of the foundation, on which the whole lofty building of the Church is reared, is not weakened by the weight of the temple that rests upon it. For the solidity of that faith which was praised in the chief of the Apostles is perpetual; and, as that remains which Peter believed in Christ, so that remains which Christ instituted in Peter. For when, as has been read in the Gospel lesson [i.e., for the day], the Lord has asked the disciples whom they believed Him to be, amid the various opinions that were held, the blessed Peter replied, saying: "Thou art the Christ," etc. [Matt. 16:16-19].

Ch. 3. The dispensation of the truth therefore abides, and the blessed Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the Church which he undertook. For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that since he is called the rock, since he is pronounced the foundation, since he is constituted the doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, since he is set up as the judge to bind and to loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ. And still to-day he more fully and effectually performs what is intrusted to him, and carries out every part of his duty and charge in Him and with Him, through whom he has been glorified. And so if anything is rightly done or rightly decreed by us, if anything is obtained from the mercy of God by daily supplications, it is his work and merits whose power [pg 478] lives in his see and whose authority excels. For this, dearly beloved, that confession gained, that confession which, inspired in the Apostle's heart by God the Father, transcends all the uncertainty of human opinions, and was endued with the firmness of a rock, which no assaults could shake. For throughout the Church Peter daily says, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," and every tongue which confesses the Lord is inspired by the instruction [magisterio] of that voice.

(b) Leo the Great, Ep. 104, ad Marcianum Augustum, A. D. 452. (MSL, 54:993.)

Condemnation of the twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon.

This and the two following epistles upon the twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon define the relation of the Roman see to councils, canons, and patriarchal sees. Apostolic sees may not be constituted by mere canon; political importance of a place does not regulate its ecclesiastical position; the see of Rome can reject the canons of councils even though general; apostolic sees connected with Peter may not have their authority diminished. For the twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon, v. infra, § 90, d.

Ch. 3. Let the city of Constantinople have, as we desire, its glory, and may it, under the protection of God's right hand, long enjoy the rule of your clemency. Yet the basis of things secular is one, and the basis of things divine another; and there can be no sure building save on that rock which the Lord laid as a foundation. He that covets what is not his due, loses what is his own. Let it be enough for the aforesaid [Anatolius, bishop of Constantinople] that by the aid of your piety and by my favorable assent he has obtained the bishopric of so great a city. Let him not disdain a royal city, which he cannot make an apostolic see; and let him on no account hope to be able to rise by injury to others. For the privileges of the churches, determined by the canons of the holy Fathers, and fixed by the decrees of the Nicene synod, cannot be overthrown by an unscrupulous act, nor disturbed by an innovation. And in the faithful execution of this task by the aid of Christ, it is necessary that I show an unflinching devotion; [pg 479] for it is a charge intrusted to me, and it tends to condemnation if the rules sanctioned by the Fathers and laid down under the guidance of God's spirit at the synod of Nic?a for the government of the whole Church are violated with my connivance (which God forbid) and if the wishes of a single brother have more weight with me than the common word of the Lord's whole house.

(c) Leo the Great, Ep. 105, ad Pulcheriam Augustam A. D. 452. (MSL, 54:997.)

Condemnation of all canons contravening those of Nic?a.

§ 3. Let him [Anatolius] know to what sort of man he has succeeded, and, expelling all the spirit of pride, let him imitate the faith of Flavian, his modesty and his humility, which raised him up even to a confessor's glory. If he will shine with his virtues, he will be praiseworthy and everywhere he will win an abundance of love, not by seeking human things, but divine favor. And by this careful course I promise that my heart will also be bound to him, and the love of this apostolic see which we have ever bestowed upon the church of Constantinople shall never be violated by any change. Because, if rulers, lacking self-restraint, fall into errors, yet the purity of the churches of Christ continues. As for the assents of bishops which are in contradiction with the regulations of the holy canons composed at Nic?a, in conjunction with your faithful race we do not recognize them, and by the authority of the blessed Apostle Peter we absolutely disannul in comprehensive terms in all cases ecclesiastical, following those laws which the Holy Ghost set forth by three hundred and eighteen bishops for the pacific observance of all priests, so that, even if a much greater number were to pass a different decree from theirs, whatever was opposed to their constitution would have to be held in no respect.

(d) Leo the Great, Ep. 106, ad Anatolium A. D. 452. (MSL, 54:1005.)

[pg 480] The relation of the apostolic sees to Peter.

Your purpose is in no way whatever supported by the written assent of certain bishops, given, as you allege, sixty years ago,181 and never brought to the knowledge of the Apostolic See by your predecessors; under this project182 which from its outset was tottering and has already collapsed, you now wish to place too late and useless props.… The rights of provincial primates may not be overthrown, nor metropolitan bishops be defrauded of privileges based on antiquity. The see of Alexandria may not lose any of that dignity which it merited through St. Mark, the evangelist and disciple of the blessed Peter, nor may the splendor of so great a church be obscured by another's clouds, when Dioscurus fell through his persistence in impiety. The church of Antioch, too, in which first, at the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter, the Christian name arose, must continue in the position assigned to it by the Fathers, and, being set in the third place [Can. 6, Nic?a, 325, v. supra, § 72], must never be lowered therefrom. For the see is one thing, and those who preside in it something different; and an individual's great honor is his own integrity.

(e) Leo the Great, Ep. 6, ad Anastasium A. D. 444. (MSL, 54:616.) Cf. Kirch, nn. 814 ff.

The policy of centralization. The primates are representatives of the bishop of Rome. Anastasius was bishop of Thessalonica.

Ch. 2. Inasmuch, dear brother, as your request has been made known to us through our son Nicholas, the priest, that you also, like your predecessors, might receive from us in your turn authority over Illyricum for the observance of the rules, we give our consent, and earnestly exhort that no concealment and no negligence may be allowed in the management of the churches situated throughout Illyricum, which we commit to [pg 481] you in our stead, following the precedent of Siricius, of blessed memory, who then, for the first time acting on a fixed method, intrusted them to your last predecessor but one, Anysius, of holy memory, who had at the time well deserved of the Apostolic See, and was approved by after events, that he might render assistance to the churches situated in that province, whom he wished to keep up to the discipline.…

Ch. 5. Those of the brethren who have been summoned to a synod should attend, and not deny themselves to the holy congregation.… But if any more important question spring up, such as cannot be settled there under your presidency, brother, send your report and consult us, so that we may write back under the revelation of the Lord, of whose mercy it is that we can do aught, because He has breathed favorably upon us; that by our decision we may vindicate our right of cognizance in accordance with old-established tradition, and the respect which is due the Apostolic See; for as we wish you to exercise your authority in our stead, so we reserve to ourselves points which cannot be decided on the spot and persons who have appealed to us.183

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