(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Fathers Of The Church A New Church A New Translation Volume 30"

231,1 ?252 v. JO 66 "04330 

[''others of the Church* 



J'M^e.'s of the Church, 



66-011.330 




KANSAS CITY. MO PUBLIC LIBRARY 




-J98&- 



THE FATHERS 
OF THE CHURCH 

A NEW TRANSLATION 
VOLUME 30 



A NEW TRANSLATION 



EDITORIAL BOARD 



ROY JOSEPH DEFERRARI 

The Catholic University of America 
Editorial Director 



RUDOLPH ARBESMANN, O.S.A. BERNARD M. PEEBLES 

Fordham University The Catholic University of America 

STEPHAN KUTTNER ROBERT P. RUSSELL, O.S.A. 

The Catholic University of America Villanova University 

MARTIN R. P. McGuiRE ANSELM STRITTMATTER, O.S.B. 

The Catholic University of America St. A'nselm's Priory 

WILFRID PARSONS, SJ. JAMES EDWARD XOBIN 

The Catholic University of America Queens College 



SAINT A UGUSTINE 



LETTERS 

VOLUME IV (165-203) 



Translated by 
SISTER WILFRID PARSONS, S.N.D. 



New York 

FATHERS OF THE CHURCH, INC- 
1955 



NIHIL OBSTAT: 

JOHN M. A. FEARNS, S.T.D. 

Censor Librorum 



IMPRIMATUR: 

% FRANCIS CARDINAL SPELLMAN 

Archbishop of New York 



November 21, 1955 



Copyright 1955 by 
FATHERS OF THE CHURCH, INC. 

475 Fifth Avenue, New York 17, N. Y. 
All rights reserved 



Lithography by Bishop Litho, Inc. 
U. S, A. 



WRITINGS 

OF 
SAINT AUGUSTINE 

VOLUME 12 



6G04330 



CONTENTS 



Letter Page 

165 Jerome to Marcellinus and Anapsychia ... 3 

166 To Jerome [On the Origin of the Human Soul] . 6 

167 To Jerome [On the Passage from the Apostle 
James: * Whosoever shall keep the whole law/ etc.] 32 

168 Timasius and James to Augustine 50 

169 To Bishop Evodius 51 

170 Alypius and Augustine to Maximus 61 

171 Alypius and Augustine to Bishop Peregrinus . . 68 
171 A To Maximus 69 

172 Jerome to Augustine 72 

173 To Donatus 73 

173A To Deogratias, Theodore, and Titianus ... 81 

174 To Archbishop Aurelius 83 

175 The Council of Carthage to Pope Innocent . . 85 

176 The Council of Milevis to Pope Innocent ... 91 

177 Aurelius, Alypius, Augustine, Evodius, and Pos- 
sidius to Pope Innocent 94 

178 To Bishop Hilary 108 

179 To Bishop John 110 

180 To Oceanus 117 



vu 



Letter Page 

181 Pope Innocent to the Council of Carthage ... 121 

182 Pope Innocent to the Council of Milevis ... 127 

183 Pope Innocent to Aurelius, Alypius, Augustine, 
Evodius, and Possidius 132 

184 Pope Innocent to Aurelius and Augustine ... 136 
184A To Peter and Abraham 136 

185 To Boniface [On the Treatment of the Donatists] 141 
185 A To Count Boniface 190 

186 Alypius and Augustine to Paulinus 191 

187 To Dardanus [On the Presence of God] .... 221 

188 Alypius and Augustine to Juliana 255 

189 To Count Boniface 266 

190 To Bishop Optatus 271 

191 To Sixtus 288 

192 To Celestine 291 

193 To Mercator 292 

194 To Sixtus 301 

195 Jerome to Augustine 332 

196 To Bishop Asellicus 333 

197 To Bishop Hesychius 347 

198 Hesychius to Augustine 350 

199 To Hesychius [On the End of the World] ... 356 

200 To Valerius 401 

201 Emperors Honorius and Theodosius to Bishop 
Aurelius [and Augustine] 403 

202 Jerome to Alypius and Augustine 405 

202A To Optatus 407 

203 To Largus 420 



Vlll 




INTRODUCTION 



| HE LETTERS INCLUDED HI Volume 4 (165-203) COVCF 

the years from 410 to the beginning of 420. The 
long conflict with the Donatists was drawing to a 
close; Letter 185 is the next to the last and much the most 
important one on this bitter subject. It is addressed to the 
tribune Boniface, afterward Count of Africa, and is one of 
the longest of the letters. Augustine himself calls it a book: 
Liber de correctione Donatistarum. Its importance lies in the 
fact that it gives a fairly complete summary of the whole 
controversy, by this time practically settled, and shows the 
writer reluctantly convinced that the policy of compelle 
intrare was the right one after all. At the same time, he was 
invincibly opposed to harsh punishments for heretics. 

But if the Donatist threat was dying out, the new and more 
insidious danger of Pelagiansm was spreading in unsuspected 
quarters, and during these ten years was to absorb more and 
more of Augustine's time and effort. Two African synods, one 
at Carthage and one at Milevis, had condemned the here- 
siarch, and a report of this action was sent to Pope Innocent 
I from each gathering (Letters 175-177). Though sent in 
the name of a long list of bishops, each of these reports is 



IX 



bAlJNT 



evidently the work of Augustine. The Pope answered them 
in Letters 181 and 182, giving the formal condemnation 
which had been requested. 

Another aspect of the case is shown in Letter 179 to Bishop 
John of Jerusalem, who had not accepted the verdict of the 
Council of Carthage. Instead, he had held his own synod in 
415 and had acquitted Pelagius. Augustine was thoroughly 
alarmed at this and wrote firmly but tactfully to Bishop 
John, protesting the acquittal, pointing out the evasive char- 
acter of Pelagius, and suggesting certain questions which he 
should be required to answer unequivocally. The question of 
nature and grace recurs so frequently in letters of this period, 
even in letters not dealing specifically with this subject, that 
it is plain to see how deeply disturbed Augustine was at the 
spread of this deadly error. One of these is addressed to 
Juliana (188), daughter-in-law of Proba (cf. the earlier Let- 
ters 130 and 131 ) , whose daughter Demetrias had consecrated 
herself to a life of virginity and had received some graceful 
congratulations in Letter 150, Learning that Pelagius had 
written a 'book' to Demetrias, the theme of which was that 
all her virtue was due to her own efforts and not to the grace 
of God, Augustine wrote a vigorous warning to mother and 
daughter. 

St. Jerome appears in this series of letters, but the old fire 
is extinguished. He wrote to Marcellinus the tribune (165), 
who had asked him some questions on the origin of the soul, 
advising him to address himself to *the holy and learned man, 
Augustine' for his answers, because he, Jerome was anxious to 
get to work on a promised commentary on Ezechiel. Augustine 
complied with the request and also sent a copy of his treatise 
(166) to Jerome by the hands of his young protege, Orosius. 
He also sent his treatise (167) on the words of St. James 
(2.10) : 'Whoever shall keep the whole law but offend in 
one point is become guilty of all,' into which he introduces 



LETTERS XI 

some interesting parallels to Stoic teaching. In Retractations 
2.45, Augustine gives evidence of the tact he had learned by 
sad experience in his correspondence with Jerome. He says 
of Letter 166: I only raised the question; I did not solve it.' 
This was evidently because Jerome had written on the Origin 
of the Soul in one of his works against Rufinus, and Augustine 
did not want to seem to differ with him. Of Letter 167 he 
says: 'I set forth what I thought might solve this question, 5 
and of both works he says: C I did not publish these treatises 
while Jerome was alive, because he might answer them at 
some time and I should have had to publish them with his 
reply. But after his death I published both.' Jerome had 
acknowledged the receipt of the two treatises in Letter 172, 
and had praised them, but excused himself from commenting 
on them. Letter 202 was Jerome's last to Augustine. He 
died the following year. 

This problem of the origin of the soul, so closely connected 
with the mystery of original sin, attacked by Pelagius, was 
plainly one that preoccupied Augustine. In addition to the 
treatise in which he set forth four theories on the time and 
manner of the creation of the soul, without indicating his 
preference for any of them, he wrote two letters to Optatus 
(190 and 202 A) reviewing the same material, and one to 
Oceanus (180). His conclusion was that, no matter which 
theory was the true one, it is of faith that everyone born of 
Adam is under the curse of original sin, and no one is freed 
from it except by rebirth in Christ. 

A feeling of the imminent approach of the end of the world 
recurred constantly in the early centuries of the Church, and 
it was natural that it should be especially strong in an age 
that had seen Rome fall for the first time to barbarian on- 
slaught. Hesychius, Bishop of Salona, asked Augustine (198) 
whether it might reasonably be inferred from Scripture that 
the second coming of Christ was near at hand. The reply 



Xll SAINT AUGUSTINE 

was admirably prudent. In Letter 198 Augustine makes a 
careful analysis of the Scriptural passages cited and concludes 
that it is not profitable to inquire into the future, but that 
each one should so act as to be ready to receive Christ when- 
ever He comes. 

It was during this period that Augustine finished his 
treatise on The Trinity, begun in 400. He had Intended to 
publish it as a whole after careful revision, because the nature 
of the subject requires the utmost precision of language. 
Unfortunately for him, some too zealous friend borrowed or 
stole the earlier books, and circulated them, which made the 
author set the whole project aside for several years. Finally, 
he yielded to pressure and completed the work, sending it to 
Aurelius, Archbishop of Cathage, with a covering letter (174) 
which he intended should be used as a preface. 

He also wrote Letters 169 and 170 on this subject to 
Evodius and to Maximus, a physician. This latter communica- 
tion gave rise to an amusing note to Peregrinus, in which we 
learn something of the difference between formal and in- 
formal letter writing. He and Alypius had written jointly to 
Maximus, a recent convert from Arianism, exhorting him to 
try to reclaim some of those whom he had led into error, and 
setting him clear on a point of doctrine concerning the Trinity. 
They had received no answer from him, so they wrote to his 
bishop, Peregrinus, asking him to find out how their letter 
had been received. They were afraid Maximus might have 
taken offense because their letter was written by hand, not 
dictated, and was on paper instead of parchment. They 
wanted him to know that they wrote to their dearest friends 
that way, even to bishops, because it was quicker and because 
paper was easier to hold in the hand while being read. 

Letter 189 is addressed to Count Boniface, Roman Vicar of 
Africa, a man of strangely conflicting desires. He had aspira- 
tions to the higher life, but could descend to depths of revenge 



LETTERS Xlll 



against a rival, which resulted in the summoning of the 
Vandals into Africa. A friend of his had suggested to Augus- 
tine that Boniface would appreciate some spiritual counsels, 
as he was under the apprehension that a soldier could not 
please God in the profession of arms. Augustine gives him 
the highest of all rules for a holy life: 'Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with thy whole heart/ and then proceeds to 
give some examples of soldiers who were pleasing to God. 
The list includes David, the good centurion of the Gospel, and 
the soldiers who had applied to John the Baptist for advice. 
All of these prove that the military life is not forbidden by 
God. A particularly fine aphorism which occurs here might 
be pondered with profit by modern military men : Won enim 
pax quaeritur ut bellum excitetur, sed helium geritur ut pax 
acquiratur.* On the whole, however, war is to be the result of 
necessity, not of choice; a promise made to an enemy must 
be kept; the warrior must be a peace-maker that he may 
be called the son of God. In his private life Augustine advises 
Boniface to observe chastity, sobriety, moderation, honesty; 
to forgive easily, to pray often. If he had practised all this 
he might have been another soldier-saint. 

The letters of these years show on the whole a preoccupa- 
tion with intellectual and doctrinal matters, and they prob- 
ably represent the climax of Augustine's achievement. There is 
a conspicuous lack of mention of the merely mundane affairs 
which figure so frequently in earlier letters. It is possible that 
the bishop had by this time an assistant who could take 
such problems off his hands and leave him free to pursue his 
glorious career as the champion of Catholic truth. 



Translated by 

SISTER WILFRID PARSONS, S.N.D., PH.D. 

Emmanuel College 

Boston, Mass. 



165. Jerome gives greeting in Christ to the truly holy lords, 

his sons, Marcellinus and Anapsychia, deserving 

of every consideration of affection (c. 410 J 1 

At last I have received the letter of your Unanimity from 
Africa, and I am not ashamed of my boldness in harassing 
you out of your silence by my frequent letters, because I did 
it in order to deserve an answer and thus learn by no other 
message than your own word, that you are safe and well. I 
remember your little' question about the origin of the soul 
it is, rather, a question of great importance to the Church 
whether it slipped down from heaven, as the philosopher 
Pythagoras, 2 all the Platonists, and Origen 3 think; or is an 
emanation of the substance of God, as the Stoics, Mani, and 
the Spanish heresy of Priscillian imagine; or is long preserved 
in the treasury of God, as some churchmen are foolishly in- 
duced to believe; or is daily created by God and sent into 
bodies, according to the words of Scripture: 'My Father 
worketh until now and I work'; 4 or, at least, is derived from 

1 The tribune of Letters 128, 129, 133, 136, 138, 139, and 143, who was 
put to death by the heretics in 413. This letter was written not later 
than 410, but is listed here by Migne because Letter 166 is based on it. 

2 End of 5th century B.C. 

3 A.D. 185-255. 

4 John 5.17. 

3 



* SAINT AUGUSTINE 

a root-stock, as Tertullian, 5 Apollinaris, 6 and most of the 
Western scholars claim, holding that, as each body is born of 
another body, so the soul is born of a soul and has an origin 
like that of the lower animals. I know that I wrote my opinion 
of this long ago, in my treatises against Rufinus, 7 especially 
against that work which he dedicated to the bishop of the 
Church of Rome, Anastasius 8 of holy memory. In that work 
he tries to play on the simplicity of his hearers by a sly and 
crafty, but really stupid, confession, but he only made a 
mockery of his own faith, or, rather, his unfaith. I think your 
holy father, Oceanus, 9 has these works, for they were pub- 
lished long ago, 10 in refutation of the many calumnies in 
the book of Rufinus against us. In any case, you have with 
you a holy and learned man in Bishop Augustine who will be 
able to teach you by the living word, as they say, and will 
set forth his opinion, or rather mine in his words. 

I have been wanting for a long time to go to work on the 
Book of Ezechiel, and thereby fulfill a promise frequently 
made to my eager readers, but I had hardly begun to dictate 
it when my mind was so disturbed by the sack of the Western 
provinces, and especially of the city of Rome, that, to use a 
common proverb, I hardly knew my own name, and I fell 
into a long silence, knowing that c it is a time to weep.' 11 In 
this very year, after I had made a commentary on three books, 
there was such a sudden incursion of barbarians, whom your 
Vergil calk The far-wandering Barcaeans,' 12 and holy Scrip- 

5 C. 150-211. 

6 Flourished at end of 4th century; taught that Christ had no rational 
human mind. 

7 An early friend but later bitter opponent of St. Jerome. 

8 Pope from 399 to 402. 

9 I.e., his spiritual father or director. 

10 C. 403. 

11 Eccle. 3.4. 

12 Vergil, Aeneid 4.42,43. 



LETTERS 5 

ture describes in the words about Ismael: 'He shall dwell over 
against the face of all his brethren/ 13 that they overran the 
boundaries of Egypt, Palestine, Phoenicia, Syria, like a torrent 
carrying all before it, and it was only by the mercy of Christ 
that we were able to escape from their hands. But if it is 
true, as that illustrious orator said: c ln the midst of war the 
law is silent/ 14 how much more true is it of Scriptural studies, 
which need innumerable books, silence, frequenting of librar- 
ies, and, as an absolute requirement, safety and peace for 
dictating. So, I sent two books to my holy daughter, Fabiola, 15 
and you can borrow copies of them, if you like, from her, for 
I was not able to copy out any others in these woeful times. 
When you read them and see the vestibule, you will easily 
be able to form an idea about the future nature of the house. 
But I believe that the mercy of God, which has helped us in 
the very difficult beginning of the above-mentioned work, will 
help through the parts near the end where the wars of Gog 
and Magog are described, 16 and also the very end where the 
building of the sacred and intricate temple with its parts and 
dimensions is set forth. 17 

Our holy brother, Oceanus, to whom you wished to be 
remembered, has such weight and erudition in the law of the 
Lord that he can instruct you without any request from us, 
and can explain my opinion about the rest of the questions 
on the Scriptures in a manner adapted to the ordinary mind. 
May Christ, our almighty God, keep you safe, truly holy 
lords, and may you flourish to an advanced age. 

13 Cf. Gen. 16.12. 

14 Cicero, Pro Milone 4.10. 

15 One of the noble and scholarly Roman women who gathered around 
Jerome to study the Scriptures. 

16 Ezech. 38-39. 

17 Ezech. 40-48. 



SAINT AUGUSTINE 

166. Augustine to Jerome 1 (415) 
On the Origin of the Human Soul 

Chapter 1 

I have called upon and I continue to call upon our God 
Vho hath called us unto his kingdom and glory, 32 that He 
may grant what I write to you, holy brother Jerome, to be 
fruitful to us, while I consult you on those points on which I 
am ignorant. Although you are much older than I am, it is 
as an old man that I consult you, for it seems to me that no 
age is too advanced to learn what needs learning, because, 
although it is more fitting for old men to teach than to learn, 
it is even more fitting to learn what they teach than to remain 
ignorant. There is nothing I feel more in all the perplexities 
which I endure in dealing with these difficult questions than 
the great distance there is between me and your Charity. 
The time that elapses between sending my letter and receiving 
yours is so great that the interval is not of days or of months, 
but of several years. If I could have my way I would have 
you with me daily, so that I could discuss whatever I wish 
with you. However, if I cannot have everything I want, there 
is no reason for my not doing what I can. 

1 There is no formula of address. In Retractations 2.45, Augustine says 
of this letter: 1 wrote two books to the priest Jerome residing at 
Bethlehem; one on the origin of the human soul.' 

2 1 Thess. 2.12. 



LETTERS / 

Chapter 2 

Just now Orosius 1 has come to me, a religious young man, 
a brother in the Catholic fold, in age a son, in dignity a 
fellow priest, alert of mind, ready of speech, burning with 
eagerness, longing to be a useful vessel in the house of the 
Lord, 2 in order to refute the false and pernicious teachings 
which have been much more deadly to the souls of Spaniards 3 
than the sword of the barbarian has been to their bodies. He 
hastened from there, even from the shore of the ocean, 4 
moved by the report that he might be able to learn from me 
whatever he wished of the topics in which he was interested. 
And he did gain something from his coming: first, not 
to put too much faith in what he heard of me; then I 
instructed the man as far as I could; I pointed out to him 
where he could learn what I could not give him, and en- 
couraged him to go to you. Seeing that he took my advice or 
command willingly and obediently, I asked him to return from 
you by way of us when he traveled back to his own country. 
I have his promise, so I believe this opportunity has been 
granted me by the Lord to write you about the subjects on 
which I wish to be enlightened by you. I was looking around 
for someone to send to you, but it was not easy to find anyone 
endowed with reliability of conduct, readiness to obey and 
experience in traveling; so, when I found this young man, 
I did not doubt that he was just the one I had been asking 
of the Lord. 

1 Born about 390 in Spain, came Lo Hippo in 414, spent some time with 
Jerome in Bethlehem, author of Liber apologeticus against the Pela- 
gians, and Adversus paganos, libri septem, 

2 2 Tim. 2.21. 

3 The Priscillianist heresy. 

4 Le,, the Atlantic. He came from Bracara in Galida, in northwest Spam. 



SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 3 

Learn, then, what I ask you to solve, and do not refuse to 
discuss it. The question about the soul troubles many, among 
whom I confess I am found. I will set forth what I hold 
with certainty about the soul, and then I will add what I 
still wish to learn* The soul of man is immortal according 
to a certain mode of its own, for it is not in every respect like 
God, of whom it is said that c He only hath immortality.' 1 
Holy Scripture has many references to the death of the soul, 
among them this: 'Let the dead bury their dead,' 2 But, in- 
asmuch as the soul, turned away from God, dies in such way 
that it does not entirely cease to exist according to its own 
nature, so it is found to be mortal under one aspect in such 
way that it is not unreasonably called immortal. The soul 
is not a part of God. If this were so, the soul would be 
entirely unchangeable and incorruptible. And if this were 
so, it would not degenerate into a worse state or advance to 
a better one, or begin to have something in itself which it 
did not have before, or cease to have what it had, as far as its 
affections are concerned. There is no need of external proof 
to show how different it is from this: one has only to look 
into himself to know it. It is useless for those who claim that 
the soul is a part of God to say that the defilement and vile- 
ness which we see in men of great wickedness, as well as the 
disease and weakness which we perceive in all men, come 
from the body, not from the soul. What difference does it 
make where the illness comes from, when there could not 
possibly be any illness if the soul were unchangeable? What 

1 1 Tim. 6.16. 

2 Matt. 8.22; Luke 9,60. 



LETTERS y 

is truly unchangeable and incorruptible cannot be changed 
or corrupted by contact with anything whatsoever, otherwise 
not only Achilles, as the legends tell, but all flesh would be 
invulnerable so long as no accident befell it. Therefore, the 
soul is not unchangeable by nature but is subject to change 
in some way, for some cause, in some part. But it is forbidden 
to believe that God is anything else than truly and supremely 
unchangeable. Therefore, the soul is not a part of God. 



Chapter 4 

Although it is difficult to convince those who are slow of 
comprehension that the soul is also incorporeal, I confess that 
I am convinced of it. But I do not wish to make a useless 
difficulty over terms, nor deserve to bring one down upon 
myself, since when there is question of reality there is no 
need to quarrel over a word. Therefore, if the body is the 
whole substance or essence or whatever better term one can 
use to express what it is in itself, then the soul is a body. 
Likewise, if one chooses to call that alone incorporeal which 
is supremely unchangeable and everywhere wholly present, 
then the soul is a body, since of itself it is no such thing. 
Furthermore, if it is a characteristic of a body to occupy 
space with a certain length, width, and height, and for it 
to be so placed or moved that it fills a larger space with the 
larger part of itself, and a smaller space with a smaller part, 
and for the part to be less than the whole, then the soul is 
not a body. For, the soul extends through the whole body to 
which it imparts life, not by a distribution in space but by a 
certain life-giving impetus; it is wholly present in every 
smallest part, not less in smaller parts and more in larger 



1 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

ones, but in one place more conscious, in another less at- 
tentive, yet wholly present in each and all parts. Otherwise, 
it would not wholly feel, as it does, what is not felt by the 
whole body; for, when some part of the living flesh is touched 
by the slightest prick, although that spot is not only not the 
whole body but hardly seems to be in the body, the whole 
soul is conscious of it, even when what is felt does not run 
through the whole body but is felt only where it occurs. 
How, then, does it happen that the sensation which is not 
total reaches the whole soul, except that the soul is wholly 
there where the pain is, and does not leave the other parts 
of the body to be wholly present at that spot? Those parts 
are alive and the soul is present in them where nothing of 
the sort has happened. But, if it did happen there, and both 
sensations happened at the same time, the whole soul would 
be equally conscious of both. Therefore, it could not at the 
same time be wholly present in all and each several part of 
its body if it were distributed through the parts as we see 
bodies distributed in space, occupying less room with their 
smaller parts and more with their larger ones. Therefore, if 
the soul is to be called a body, it certainly is not a body like 
anything made of earth or water or air or light. Indeed, all 
of these are such that they are more extensive in larger space 
and smaller in lesser places, and none of them is wholly pre- 
sent in any part of itself; but, as there are parts of space, so 
they are occupied by parts of bodies. Hence, it is clear that, 
whether the soul is to be called corporeal or incorporeal, it 
has a special nature created of a more excellent substance than 
all these elements of earthly material, a nature which cannot 
be represented to the fancy by any of the corporeal images 
which we perceive through the senses, but is understood by 
the mind and apprehended by its life. I do not repeat these 
things, which are known to you, in order to teach you, but 
to make clear what I firmly believe about the soul, so that, 



LETTERS 1 1 

when I come to the points on which I raise a question, no 
one may think that I have no views about the soul whether 
they are based on knowledge or faith. 



Chapter 5 

I am certain that the soul fell into sin, through no fault, 
no compulsion, on God's part, but by its own personal will, 
and that it cannot be delivered from 'the body of this death, 91 
either by the strength of its own will, as if this were sufficient 
for it, or by the death of the body itself, but by 'the grace of 
God by Jesus Christ our Lord' ; 2 and that there is no soul in 
the whole human race which does not need to be delivered 
by 'the mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' 3 
Every soul that departs from the body, no matter at what age, 
without the grace of the Mediator and His sacrament is 
destined for punishment, and will receive back its body for 
punishment at the Last Judgment. But if, after the human 
generation which comes to it from Adam, the soul is re- 
generated in Christ and belongs to His fold, it will attain rest 
after the death of the body, and will receive back its body 
for its glory. These are the truths which I firmly believe about 
the soul. 

Chapter 6 

Now listen, please, to what I ask, and do not despise me, 
as I pray that He may not despise you who deigned to be 
despised for us. I ask when the soul contracted the guilt 
through which it is doomed to condemnation, even in the 

1 Rom. 7.24. 

2 Rom. 9.25. 

3 1 Tim. 2,5. 



1 2 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

case of an infant, prematurely dead, on whom the grace of 
Christ was not conferred through the sacrament by which 
even babies are baptized. You are not one of those who have 
begun to babble new doctrines, saying that there is no guilt 
inherited from Adam, which has to be remitted in the infant 
by baptism. If I knew that you approved of this view, or, 
rather, if I did not know that you do not approve of it, I 
would never ask this of you nor think it something to be 
asked. But I do believe that your opinion on this point is 
consonant with the foundations of Catholic faith, as you 
proved by refuting the idle prating of Jovinian/ by the 
passage from the Book of Job : 'No one is clean in the sight 
of God, nor is the infant whose life upon earth is but of one 
day/ 2 Then you went on and said: c We are held guilty after 
the similitude of the transgression of Adam'; 3 and your book 
on the Prophet Jonas 4 asserts this with emphasis and clarity, 
where you said that it was right for infants to be obliged to 
fast because of original sin. Consequently, I think it is proper 
for me; to ask you when the soul contracted that guilt from 
which it has to be delivered, even at that age, by the sacra- 
ment of Christian grace. 



Chapter 7 

A few years ago when I wrote some books on free will 
which have gone out into many hands and are possessed by 
many more I thought well to discuss four opinions about 
the union of the soul and the body : Whether all subsequent 
souls are propagated from that one which was given to the 

1 Adversus Jovinianum 2.2 (c. 383) , in Migne, PL 23.284.17-21. Jovinian 
held that salvation comes by faith alone without good works. 

2 Job 14.4,5 (Septuagint) . 

3 Rom. 5.14. 

4 Comment. In Jonam 3.5, in PL 25.1140.47-1141.4. 



LETTERS 13 

first man, or whether new ones are now created for each 
single person, or whether they exist somewhere and are sent 
down from heaven, or are spontaneously joined to bodies. I 
discussed them so that whichever one of them should prove 
to be true, it would not interfere with my purpose of opposing 
with all my might those who were trying to prove that nature 
was endowed with its own principle of evil in conflict with 
God. These were the Manichaeans, for I had not yet heard 
of the Priscillianists who babble blasphemies not much dif- 
ferent from theirs. I did not add the fifth opinion that the 
soul is a part of God which you mentioned, so as not to 
omit any, in your letter to Marcellinus, 1 a man of religious 
memory and very dear to us in the charity of Christ, who 
had asked you about it. I did not add that one to my list 
because, first, when the question was asked, it was on the 
nature of the soul and not of its union with the body; and, 
second, because that view is held by those whom I was attack- 
ing, and I made it a special point to distinguish the sinless and 
inviolable nature of the Creator from the vices and corruption 
of the creature; because they contend that the very substance 
of the good God is, in part, derived from the substance of evil 
to which they attribute dominion and rulers, and they say 
that in that part it is corrupted, under subjection, and prone 
to the necessity of sinning. Leaving out this erroneous and 
heretical opinion, I am anxious to know which of the four 
remaining opinions is the preferred one. Whichever one is 
preferred, God forbid that it should be opposed to this tenet 
of faith, of which we are certain, that deliverance from the 
bond of sin is necessary for every soul, even in the tiny infant, 
and that there is no such deliverance except through Jesus 
Christ and Him crucified. 

1 Letter 165. 



1 4 SAINT AUGU STINE 

Chapter 8 

Therefore, to make a long story short, you certainly believe 
that God still creates separate souls for separate persons at 
birth. To forestall the objection to this opinion that God 
finished creating all living beings on the sixth day and 
rested on the seventh 1 you offer the testimony of the Gospel : 
'My Father worketh until now.' 2 That is what you wrote to 
Marcellinus, and in your letter you were kind enough to 
speak very favorably of me, saying that he had me here in 
Africa, and that I could more easily explain that opinion to 
him. But, if I had been able to do it, he would not have 
appealed to you at such a distance, if, however, he really 
wrote that to you from Africa. I do not know when he wrote 
it; I only know that he was well aware of my hesitancy on 
this subject, and chose to do it without consulting me. But, 
even if he had consulted me, I would have encouraged him 
to write to you and would have been thankful for the favor 
conferred on all of us, if you had not preferred to write 
briefly rather than really to answer him, I suppose you did 
that so as not to waste your effort, since I was here and you 
thought I was sure of what he asked. And now you see that 
I wish that opinion to be mine, but I do not yet claim it. 



Chapter 9 

You have sent me pupils to learn the very thing I have not 
yet learned myself. Teach me, then, what I am to teach. 
Many keep asking me and I confess to them that I am 
ignorant of this, as well as of many other things. And, perhaps, 
although they respect me to my face, they say among them- 

1 Gen. 2.2. 

2 John 5.17. 



LETTERS 15 

selves: c Art thou a master in Israel and knowest not these 
things? 51 These words the Lord said to a man who was one 
of those who delighted to be called Rabbi (master), and 
probably his reason for coming to the true Master by night 2 
was that he was accustomed to teach and he was ashamed 
to have to learn. But it gives me greater pleasure to listen to 
a master than to be listened to as a master, for I recall what 
He said to those whom He had chosen before the others: 
'But be not you called Rabbi by men, 3 He said, c for one is 
your Master, Christ.' 3 It was no other, not even Jethro, who 
taught Moses; 4 no other who first taught Cornelius through 
Peter; 5 no other who afterward taught Peter through Paul; 
for, by whomever truth is spoken, it is spoken through the 
bounty of Him who is truth itself. 7 And if we are still ignorant 
of these things, and we have not been able to find a solution 
either by prayer or reading or thought and reasoning, is not 
the reason, perhaps, to show not only with what charity we 
should teach but also with what humility we should learn 
from the learned? 

Chapter 10 

Teach me, then, I beg of you, what I am to teach; teach 
me what I am to hold, and tell me, if souls are individually 
created today for individuals at birth, when these souls commit 
sin in infants, so as to need remission of sin in the sacrament 
of Christ, since they sin in Adam from whom the flesh of sin 
is derived; or, if they do not sin, how can it be just of the 

1 John 3.10. 

2 John 3.1,2, 

3 Matt. 23.8. 

4 Exod. 18.14-23. 

5 Acts 10.25-48. 

6 Gal. 2,11-21. 

7 John 14.6; 1 John 5.6. 



1 6 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Creator to bind them by another's sin, when they are joined 
to mortal bodies descended from him, so that damnation is 
their lot unless help is given them by the Church, yet it is 
not in their power to be helped by the grace of baptism? 
What kind of justice is it that so many thousands of souls 
should be damned because they departed from their bodies 
by death in infancy, without the grace of the Christian sacra- 
ment, if new souls, created separately by the will of the 
Creator, are joined to separate bodies at birth, with no 
previous sin of their own; souls which He created and gave 
to animate these bodies, when He certainly knew that each 
one of them by no fault of its own would leave the body 
without the baptism of Christ? Since, therefore, we cannot 
say of God that He either forces souls to become sinful or 
punishes the innocent, and we must necessarily assert that 
souls, even those of infants, which leave the body without 
the sacrament of Christ are subject to damnation, how are 
we to defend this opinion which holds that other souls do 
not come into being from that of the first man, but are thus 
created separately for separate bodies as that first one was? 



Chapter 11 

I think I can easily refute the other objections made 
against this opinion, as, for instance, that one which some 
seem to press, asking how God completed all His works on 
the sixth day and rested on the seventh, if He still creates 
new souls. If we answer by saying to them what you quoted 
from the Gospel in the above-mentioned letter: e My Father 
worketh until now,' they reply that e work' is used in the 
sense of carrying on what is established, not of setting up 
new creatures, and this they do in order not to contradict 
the passage from Genesis, where it is very plainly said that 



LETTERS 17 

God finished all His works. And where it is written that 
He rested, it surely means that He rested from creating new 
beings, not from ruling over them; that He had then made 
those things which had not previously existed and He rested 
from making them; that He had finished all the things 
which had not previously existed and He rested from making 
them; that He had finished all the things which He saw 
were to be made before they existed, so that afterwards, 
whatever He made, He should create and make, not as 
something which had not existed, but as something which 
came from what did previously exist. Thus it is proved that 
both are true : the saying 'He rested from His works' and the 
saying 'He worketh until now, 5 since the Gospel cannot 
contradict Genesis. 

Chapter 12 

Those who say this so that we may not believe that God 
creates new souls which did not then exist, as He created the 
first one, but creates them from that first one, which then 
existed, as from some fount or treasury which He then made, 
and lets them out, are easily answered that even on those six 
days God created many things from creatures previously 
created, as, birds and fish from the waters, trees, grass, 
animals from the earth. It is clear that He did then make 
things which were not in existence, for there was no bird, 
no fish, no tree, no animal, and it is easy to understand that 
He rested after creating these beings which had not existed 
and were created, that is, He ceased to create any more 
creatures which did not exist. But, now, if we reject the 
opinion that He sends down souls already existing in some 
fount or other, that He sprinkles them with something of 
Himself as if they were parts of Him, that they are derived 
from that first soul and are bound before they are joined to 



1 8 SAINT AUGU STINE 

flesh by fleshly sins committed previously, and if we sa) 
that He creates new souls individually for each person al 
birth, we are not saying that He makes something which did 
not previously exist. For, on the sixth day He made man 'tc 
His image/ 1 which we naturally understand to be according 
to the rational soul. And this He then did, not by establishing 
something which did not exist, but by multiplying what did 
exist. Hence it is true that He rested from creating things 
which did not exist, and it is also true that He worketh 
until now, not only by governing what He made, but alsc 
by making more numerous not what He had not but what He 
had already created. By this or by some other argument we get 
out of this objection which is made to us about the rest of 
God from His works, which might prevent us from believing 
that new souls are now being created, not from that first one, 
but like that one. 

Chapter 13 

When they say: c Why does He make souls for those of 
whom He knows that they are going to die soon?' we can 
answer that in this way the sins of parents are either made 
known or punished. With good reason we can leave all that 
to His guidance, since we know that He gives a lovely and 
ordered course to all things that pass with time, among which 
are the birth and death of living creatures, but we cannot 
see this, for if we could we should be comforted with in- 
describable sweetness. Not in vain did the Prophet say of 
God what he had learned by divine revelation: 'Who bringeth 
out their age by number/ 1 Therefore, music, that is, the 

I Gen. 1.26. 

1 Isa. 40.26 (Septuagmt) . 



LETTERS 19 

science or perception of rhythm, is granted by the liberality 
of God to mortals having rational souls, to teach a great truth. 
Hence, if a man who is skilled in composing a song knows 
what lengths to assign to what tones, so that the melody flows 
and progresses with beauty by a succession of slow and rapid 
tones, how much more true is it that God permits no periods 
of time in the birth and death of His creatures periods which 
are like the words and syllables in the measure of this temporal 
life to proceed either more quickly or more slowly than the 
recognized and well-defined law of rhythm requires, in this 
wonderful song of succeeding events, for the wisdom through 
which He made all things is to be esteemed far above all the 
arts. When I apply this to the leaves of the tree and the 
number of our hairs, 2 how much more is it applicable to the 
rise and fall of man whose span of life is neither shortened 
nor prolonged beyond what God, the distributer of time, 
knows to be in harmony with the control of the universe ! 



Chapter 14 

Some say that whatever begins to exist in time cannot be 
immortal, because 'All things are born and die, they increase 
and grow old,' 1 and thus they would compel the belief that 
the human soul is immortal only because it was created 
before all time, but this does not disturb our faith, for, to 
pass over other instances, the immortality of Christ's flesh 
began in time, yet 'He dieth now no more, death shall no 
more have dominion over him*' 2 

2 Matt. 10.30; Luke 12,7. 

1 Sallust, Jugurtha 2.3. 

2 Rom. 6.9. 



20 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 15 

Regarding that instance which you brought up in your 
book against Rufinus, 1 that some are giving a wrong meaning 
to the statement that it seems unworthy of God to give souls 
to those conceived in adultery, and that from it they try to 
endow souls with merits of a life lived before their union with 
the flesh, to which, as to a penitentiary, they claim that it 
is just for them to be sentenced, I am not much impressed, 
for I can think of many ways of refuting this false claim. And 
you yourself made use of an exquisitely chosen comparison 
when you answered that there is no guilt in the sower when 
his wheat is carried off by stealth, but there is in the thief 
who stole the wheat; and there is no reason for the earth 
to refuse to cherish the seed in her bosom because the sower 
has scattered it with an unclean hand. Before I read that, 
the objection about adulterous conceptions had not caused me 
any difficulty in this question, because, as I see it, God usually 
brings much good even from our evils and our sins. If the 
creation of any living creature calls for unutterable praise to 
the Creator from the thoughtful man who devoutly considers 
it, how much more the creation of man above that of any 
living creature! But if the reason for its creation is sought, 
there is no quicker or better answer than that every creature 
of God is good, and what is more worthy of a good God 
than that He should create good things, which no one but 
God can create? 

Chapter 16 

These and other arguments according to my ability I 
advance, as best I can, against those who try to break down 
this opinion which holds that souls are created individually as 

1 Jerome, Apologia adversus libros Rufini 3.28, in PL 23.478.35-47. 



LETTERS 2 1 

the first one was. But, when I come to the question of the 
sufferings of infants, believe me I am beset with great trouble, 
and I find no ready answer, I mean not only those sufferings 
which damnation brings after this life, and which must 
necessarily come upon those who leave the body without the 
grace of the Christian sacrament, but also those which are 
presented in this life to our grieving eyes, so numerous that 
time fails me rather than examples to recount them. They 
pine away with illness, they are racked with pains, they are 
tortured with hunger and thirst, they are weak of limb, they 
are deprived of their faculties, they are tormented by unclean 
spirits. Certainly, there must be a proof that they suffer all 
this justly, but without any evil cause on their part. It is 
not permissible to say either that these things happen without 
God's knowledge, or that He is unable to hinder those who 
cause them, or that He causes or permits them unjustly. Of 
irrational animals we say rightly that they are given over to 
be used by higher beings, even sinful ones, as we see in the 
Gospel, where the devils were allowed to use the swine for 
their intended purpose, 1 but how can we rightly say the same 
of man? He is an animal, but a rational though mortal one. 
There is a rational soul in his members which pays the 
penalty by such sufferings. God is good, God is just, God 
is almighty: only a madman doubts this. Therefore, a just 
cause must be assigned to these great sufferings which befall 
little children. Doubtless, when their elders suffer these 
afflictions, we are wont to say either that their goodness is 
being tested, as in the case of Job, or that their sins are being 
punished, as happened to Herod; and from the examples 
which God has willed to manifest it is granted men to make 
a conjecture about others which are hard to understand. But 
these are older people. Tell me what we are to answer about 
children, if there are no sins to be punished in them by such 

1 Matt. 8.31,32; Mark 5.12,13; Luke 8.32,33. 



22 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

sufferings, since there obviously is no virtue to be tested at 
that age. 

Chapter 17 

But what shall I say about the variety of their mental 
endowment? This lies hidden in children, of course, but its 
development as they grow older appears as a consequence of 
their natural mentality, as it was from the beginning. Some 
are so slow and so forgetful that they cannot even learn the 
first rudiments of language, while some are so unintelligent 
that they are not many removes from animals, and these 
are commonly called morons. 1 Perhaps the answer is that their 
bodies cause this. But, according to this opinion which we 
wish to uphold, did the soul choose its body, and then 
commit some wrong by being mistaken in its choice? Or, 
when it was forced by the necessity of birth to enter a body, 
could it find no other because crowds of souls took possession 
of other bodies before it could get them, and, like people 
hunting for a place at the public games, did it take, not the 
one it wanted, but the one it could get? Is it possible for us 
to say such things, or should we even think them? Tell me, 
then, what we ought to think and say, so that the theory 
of new souls, created individually for each body, may be 
confirmed for us. 

Chapter 18 

It is a fact that I had something to say about the sufferings 
which children endure in this life, if not about their mentality, 
in my books on free will. 1 To let you know what it is, and 

1 moriones. 



I De libero arbitrio 3.68. 



LETTERS 23 

why it does not meet my difficulty in the question we have 
at hand, I shall quote an excerpt from Book 3 in this letter. 
It goes like this: 'In the case of bodily sufferings endured by 
children too young to commit sin, if the souls which animate 
them had no existence before they became men, a greater 
complaint, and in a sense, a compassionate one, is offered 
when someone says: "What wrong have they done that they 
should suffer so?" As if there could be any merit in innocence 
before it is able to do wrong! But when God accomplishes 
some good by the correction of older persons, scourging them 
by the death or suffering of the children who are dear to 
them, why should these things not happen, since, in those 
who suffer them, they are as if they had never been, once 
they are past, and those on whose account they have happened 
will either be better, if they are converted by these temporal 
trials, and will resolve to lead a better life; or they will have 
no defense against condemnation at the last judgment, if 
they have refused to turn their desires away from this life 
of anguish toward eternal life. Who knows what reward, in 
the secret of His judgments, God has in store for these little 
ones, whose sufferings have served to break down the hardness 
of their elders or to test their faith or to prove their mercy; 
who knows what these little ones will receive, for, although 
they have done no good deed, neither have they sinned, yet 
they have suffered? When Herod sought to kill the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and the Innocents were put to death, it is not 
without reason that the Church receives and honors them 
among the martyrs.' 

Chapter 19 

That is what I said when I wanted to strengthen this very 
opinion which is now in question. For, as I mentioned a 
short time ago, I was striving to show that, whichever of 



24 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

those four opinions should prove to be true, the blameless 
substance of the Creator is absolutely removed from any 
participation in our sins. Therefore, if any one of them 
could be truthfully refuted and rejected, it would lie outside 
the scope of the intention which I then had, since, after all 
had been discussed with careful argument, whichever of them 
should prevail over the others, I would be on the safe side, 
because I had proved that according to each one of them 
the point I was making remained irrefutable. But now I 
want, if possible, to choose one clear argument from all of 
them, because, as I look more carefully at the words which 
I have quoted from my book, I do not see that I have a strong, 
unshakeable defense of this point which we are now treating. 



Chapter 20 

What I said above is a sort of support for this : 'Who knows 
what good reward, in the secret of His judgments, God has 
in store for these little ones whose sufferings have served to 
break down the hardness of their elders, or to test faith, or 
to prove their mercy; who knows what these little ones will 
receive?' But I see that this could also be said, not unreason- 
ably, of those who either unknowingly suffer something similar 
for the name of Christ and the true religion, or have now 
been immersed in the sacrament of Christ, because they 
cannot be delivered from damnation unless they belong to the 
fold of the one Mediator; and so that reward could be given 
to them also for the evils which they suffer in the manifold 
afflictions of this life. But now, since that difficulty cannot be 
solved unless an answer is also found to this one about the 
children who die, after bitter torments, without the sacrament 
which admits them to the society of Christians, what reward 
can be imagined in their case when they are over and above 



LETTERS 25 

foredoomed to damnation? It is* true I made some answer 
about the baptism of infants in that same book, not an 
adequate one, perhaps, but one that seemed sufficient for the 
scope of the work, which is useful for those who do not know 
or do not yet possess the faith, but I did not then think fit to 
say anything about the damnation of those infants who depart 
this life without baptism because that question was not at 
issue, as it now is. 

Chapter 21 

But to pass over and make little of those sufferings which 
last but a short time and, once over, are not repeated, can we 
make little of this : 'By one man came death and by one man 
the resurrection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so also 
in Christ all shall be made alive'? 1 By this divine and direct 
statement of the Apostle it is quite unequivocally clear that 
no one enters into death except through Adam and no one 
into eternal life except through Christ. This is the meaning of 
that repeated all, 3 because as all men belong to Adam through 
their first, that is, their carnal birth, so all men who belong to 
Christ come to the second or spiritual birth. Therefore, he 
says f air in both places because as all who die die only in 
Adam, so all who will be made alive will not be made alive 
except in Christ. Therefore, we must detest as the bane of our 
common faith the one who tells us that anyone can be made 
alive at the resurrection of the dead otherwise than in Christ. 
Likewise, if anyone shall say that even infants who depart life 
without sharing in this sacrament shall be made alive in 
Christ, he certainly goes counter to the teaching of the Apostle 
and condemns the whole Church, which is in great haste to 
baptize infants, because of the unquestioned belief that other- 
wise they cannot possibly be made alive in Christ. And of 

1 1 Cor. 15.21,22. 



26 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

those who are not made alive in Christ we must conclude 
that they remain under that condemnation of which the 
Apostle speaks: c By the offense of one unto all men to con- 
demnation.' 2 The whole Church believes that infants are sub- 
ject to this condemnation at birth, and you yourself have 
expressed it with truest faith in your argument against 
Jovinian, and in your commentary on Jonas, as I mentioned 
awhile ago, and, I believe in other passages of your works 
which I have either not read or do not at present recall 
Therefore, I am seeking for the reason of this sentence of 
damnation against infants, because I do not see any sin on 
their souls at that age, if new souls are created individually, 
nor do I believe that any soul is condemned by God in which 
He does not see sin. 

Chapter 22 

Are we, then, to say, perhaps, that only the flesh of the 
child is sinful, that a new soul is created for him and that 
this soul, by living according to the commandments of God 
with the help of Christ's grace, can purchase the reward of 
incorruption even for the subdued and conquered flesh? Or 
shall we say that as the soul is not yet able to achieve this 
in the child, but, if it receives the sacrament of Christ, it 
gains for its body by this grace what it could not gain by 
those modes of action; but, if the soul departs without that 
sacrament, it will itself be in eternal life from which no sin 
has been able to separate it, yet its body will not rise in Christ 
because it had not received His sacrament before death? 

2 Rom. 5.18. 



LETTERS 27 

Chapter 23 

I have never heard or read this opinion, but I have clearly 
heard and e l have believed therefore I have spoken/ 1 that c the 
hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear 
the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good 
things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life.' 2 This 
is the life of which it is said : 'and by one man the resurrection 
of the dead' ; this is the life by which 'all shall be made alive 
in Christ'; 3 c but they that have done evil shall come forth 
unto the resurrection of judgment.' 4 What, then, are we to 
think of those infants who have been stripped of their bodies 
without baptism, before they were able to do either good or 
evil? Nothing is said about such in these passages. If their 
flesh will not rise because they have done neither good nor 
evil, then the bodies of those who have died at that early 
age after receiving the grace of baptism will not rise either, 
because they have not been able to do either good or evil. 
And if they rise among the saints, that is, among those who 
have done good, among whom will the others rise if not 
with those who have done evil? Otherwise, we should have 
to believe that some human souls will not receive their 
bodies either at the resurrection of life or at the resurrection 
of judgment. This opinion is repellent by its very novelty 
even before it is refuted. Moreover, who could bear it if those 
who hurry their children to baptism believe that they hurry 
them for the sake of their bodies, not their souls? Blessed 
Cyprian, indeed, was not setting up some new decree, but 
affirming the most solid belief of the Church in order to 
correct some who thought that a child should not be baptized 

1 Ps. 115.L 

2 John 5.28,29. 

3 I Cor. 15.21,22. 

4 John 5.29. 



28 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

sooner than the eighth day after birth, when he said that it 
was not the body but the soul that was to be saved from 
destruction. He also agreed with some of his fellow bishops 
that a child could be validly baptized almost at the instant 
of birth. 5 

Chapter 24 

Let each one think what he likes contrary to any of 
Cyprian's opinions, but let no one hold any opinion contrary 
to the most evident belief of the Apostle who teaches that 
from one man's offense all are subject to condemnation, and 
from this condemnation there is no deliverance except e the 
grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord,' 1 in whom alone all 
are made alive who are to be made alive. Let no one think, 
contrary to this absolutely fundamental custom of the Church, 
that children are rushed to baptism for the welfare of their 
bodies only, because, if that were true, the dead also could 
be brought to be baptized. 



Chapter 25 

This being granted, a reason must be sought and given why 
souls which are newly created for each one at birth are 
damned if the children die without the sacrament of- Christ. 
Holy Scripture and holy Church both testify that they are 
damned if they depart thus from the body. Consequently, if 
that opinion about the creation of new souls is not opposed 
to this fundamental belief, let it be mine; if it is opposed, let 
it not be yours. 

5 Cyprian, Epistolae 61.2-6 (ed. Hartel, pp. 718-721) . 
1 Rom, 7.25. 



LETTERS 29 

Chapter 26 

I do not want anyone to tell me that this view should be 
supported by the passage: 'Who formed the spirit of man 
in him,' 1 and 'Who made the heart of every one of them.' 2 
Something supremely strong and invincible is needed to force 
me to believe that God condemns any souls without any 
guilt of theirs. It is either as great a thing, or it is, perhaps, 
greater, to create as to form, yet it is written: 'Create a 
clean heart in me, O God.' 3 This is no argument for thinking 
that the soul in this passage prays to be made before it had 
any being. As, therefore, while now existing, it is created by 
the renewal of its justice, so, while now existing, it is formed 
by the shaping force of doctrine. That other passage in 
Ecclesiastes : 'Then the dust shall return into its earth as it 
was, and the spirit shall return to the Lord who gave it,' 4 
does not confirm the opinion which we wish to hold; it is 
rather on the side of those who think that all souls were 
created together; Tor,' they say, 'as the dust returns into its 
earth as it was, and the flesh, which is here meant, does not 
return to the man from whom it originally came but to the 
earth from which the first man was made, so also the spirit, 
derived from his spirit, does not return to him but to the 
Lord who gave it to him.' However, inasmuch as this testi- 
mony favors them but does not seem to be entirely opposed 
to the theory which I wish to defend, I thought that your 
Prudence should be warned, at least this far, that you 
would not try to extricate me from this dilemma by such 
testimony. For, although no one by wishing can make a thing 
true which is not true, still, if it were possible, I would wish 

1 Zach. 12.1. 

2 Ps. 32.15. 

3 Ps. 50.12. 

4 Eccle. 12.7. 



30 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that this theory might be true, as I wish that, if it is true, 
you may defend it brilliantly and invincibly. 



Chapter 27 

But there is a difficulty which pursues those who hold that 
souls, already in existence and prepared by God from the 
beginning of His divine works, are sent down into bodies. 
This same question can be put to them: If innocent souls 
go obediently where they are sent, why are they punished in 
children whose lives end without baptism? Exactly this same 
difficulty is found in both theories. Those who assert that 
souls are assigned individually to bodies according to the 
merits of a former life imagine that they escape this objection 
more easily. They think this is what it is to die in Adam, 
namely, to pay the penalty in the flesh which is derived from 
Adam, but they say that the grace of Christ delivers 'both 
little and great 51 from this guilt. In saying that the grace of 
Christ delivers the little with the great from the guilt of sin 
they are indeed speaking rightly, truly, and infallibly. But 
that souls sin in another previous life and are therefore thrust 
down into fleshly prisons I do not believe, I do not agree to, 
I do not accept, because, first of all, I do not know a more 
revolting opinion than that these souls should make some 
indefinite number of trips through an indefinite number of 
cycles of ages only to return again to that burden of corrupt 
flesh to pay the penalty of torment; and, second, how could 
there be anyone who died in the state of grace about whom 
we should have to be anxious lest if what they say is true 
even in the bosom of Abraham he might commit sin after 
leaving the body if he could do so before entering it? Finally, 

I Ps. 113.13, 



LETTERS 



31 



there is a great difference between sinning in Adam, as the 
Apostle says: 'In whom all sinned,' 2 and sinning out of 
Adam somewhere or other, and for that reason being thrust 
down in Adam, that is, into the flesh which is derived from 
Adam, as into a prison. The opinion that all souls come from 
the first soul is one I do not wish to discuss, unless it should 
be necessary, and how I wish that the one we are now de- 
bating may be so well upheld by you that the other may not 
require discussion ! Although I desire, I ask, I pray with ardent 
longings that the Lord may make use of you to remove my 
ignorance in this matter, still, if I do not deserve this, which 
God forbid, I shall ask patience of the Lord our God in 
whom I have such faith that I should not murmur against 
Him if He refuses to open to me when I knock. 3 I shall recall 
the saying of the Apostle: 'I have many things to say to 
you but you cannot bear them now.' 4 As far as in me lies 
may I apply this to myself, and may I not knowingly be 
offended at being deemed unworthy, lest by this very fact I 
be proved more unworthy. There are many other points on 
which I am likewise ignorant too many to recall or recount 

and I would try to bear my ignorance on this one if I did 

not fear that some one of those opinions might be contrary to 
what we hold with strongest faith, and might creep into un- 
wary minds. But, before I know which one of them is to be 
preferred, I protest that I hold confidently that the one which 
is true is not opposed to the firm and fundamental faith by 
which the Church of Christ believes that the children of men 
just born cannot be delivered from damnation except through 
the grace of the name of Christ which He has entrusted to us 
in His sacraments. 



2 Rom. 5.12. 

3 Matt 7.7,8; Luke 11.9,10. 

4 John 16.12. 



32 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

167. Augustine to Jerome 1 (Spring, 415) 

On the Passage from the Apostle James: 'Whosoever shall 
keep the whole law,' etc. 

Chapter I 

When I had finished my letter to you, brother Jerome, 
revered by me in Christ, with my inquiry about the human 
soul whether new ones are now created for each one at 
birth, and when they contract the debt of sin which we do 
not doubt must be canceled by the sacrament of Christ's 
grace, even in newborn infants I found my letter had 
lengthened into a sizable volume, so I decided against loading 
it with another question. But, the more pressing a difficulty 
is, the more we are bound not to pass it by. Therefore, I 
ask and beg you by the Lord to explain for me something 
which I think will benefit many, or, if you have an explana- 
tion done either by you or by somebody else, to send it to 
me; namely, how we are to understand those words in the 
Epistle of the Apostle James; 'Whosoever shall keep the whole 
law but offend in one point is become guilty of all/ 2 This is a 
matter of such great importance that I regret profoundly not 
having written you about it long ago. 

1 Cf. Retractations 2.45: 1 also wrote two books to the priest Jerome, 
residing at Bethlehem, of which the second was on the passage from 
the Apostle James: "Whoever shall keep the whole law," etc/ 

2 James 210. 



LETTERS 33 

Chapter 2 

We have to think about leading our present life so as to 
attain eternal life, not about examining how completely the 
past is buried in oblivion, such as that question which I 
thought it necessary to ask about the soul. That question keeps 
coming back. There is a cleverly told story which fits this 
case neatly. Someone once fell into a well where the water 
was deep enough to hold him up so that he did not drown, 
but not enough to choke him so that he could not speak. A 
bystander came over when he saw him and asked sympatheti- 
cally: 'How did you fall in?' He answered: Tlease find some 
way of getting me out and never mind how I fell in/ Thus, 
as we confess and hold by our Catholic faith that the soul, 
even of the little inf ant, has to be delivered from sin, as from 
a well, by the grace of Christ, it is enough for him that we 
know how he may be saved, even if we never find out how 
he came into that evil state. But I thought it wise to raise the 
question lest we unwittingly hold one of those opinions about 
the soul joining the body which might forthwith go counter 
to the necessity of deliverance for the soul of the child by 
denying that he is in that state. I cling to this most firmly: 
that the soul of the child can be freed from the guilt of sin 
in no other way than by the 'grace of God by Jesus Christ 
our Lord/ 1 If we can discover the cause and origin of that 
evil, we shall be better prepared and equipped to refute the 
idle prating of pettifoggers I do not call them debaters. 
However, if we cannot discover it, we should not grow slothful 
in the exercise of mercy because the origin of the misery is 
hidden from us. By not ignoring our own ignorance we shall 
be more secure against those who imagine they know what 
they do not know. There is a difference between what it is 
evil not to know and what cannot be known, or what it is 

1 Rom. 7.25. 



34 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

not necessary to know, or what has no bearing on the way of 
life we seek. But this question which I am now asking about 
the Epistle of the Apostle James involves our conduct in the 
life which we are now leading and which we wish to live so as 
to please God. 

Chapter 3 

I ask you, then, how to interpret 'Whosoever shall keep the 
law but offend in one point is become guilty of all/ Is it 
possible that he who has committed theft, nay, he who has 
said to the rich man: 'Sit thou here,' but to the poor man: 
'Stand thou there,' 1 is guilty of murder and adultery and 
sacrilege? If that is not so, how has he that has offended in 
one point become guilty of all? Or is what I said about the 
rich and the poor man not included in the things of which if 
a man offend in one he is guilty of all? But we must recall 
the source of that statement, what preceding words led up 
to it, and in what connection it was uttered. He says: 'My 
brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of 
glory with respect of persons. For if there shall come into your 
assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel, and 
there shall come in also a poor man in mean attire, and you 
have respect to him that is clothed with the fine apparel and 
shall say to him: Sit thou here well; but say to the poor man: 
Stand thou there: or Sit under my footstool: do you not 
judge within yourselves and are become judges of unjust 
thoughts? Hearken, my dearest brethren: hath not God 
chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith and heirs of the 
kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him? 
But you have dishonored the poor man, 52 because of him to 
whom it is said 'Stand thou there,' while to the man with the 

1 James 2.5. 

2 James 2.1-6. 



LETTERS 35 

golden ring it was said : 'Sit them here well.' Then he follows 
up that statement, developing it more fully and explaining it 
by saying: 'Do not the rich oppress you by might, and do 
not they draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they 
blaspheme the good name that is invoked upon you? If then 
you fulfil the royal law according to the Scriptures: Thou 
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself : you do well, but if you have 
respect to persons, you commit sin, being reproved by the 
law as transgressors. 53 See how he calls those transgressors who 
say to the rich man: 'Sit thou here/ and to the poor man: 
'Stand thou there.' And lest they think it an insignificant sin 
to transgress the law in this one point, he goes on and adds: 
'But whosoever shall keep the whole law but offend in one 
point is become guilty of all. For he that said: Thou shalt 
not commit adultery, said also: Thou shalt not kill. Now if 
thou do not kill but commit adultery thou art become a 
transgressor of the law,' 4 because he had also said: 'Being 
reproved by the law as transgressors.' This being established, 
the conclusion seems to be, unless another meaning can be 
shown for it, that the one who said to the rich man : 'Sit thou 
here,' and to the poor one: 'Stand thou there,' offering 
greater deference to the former than to the latter, is an 
idolater, a blasphemer, an adulterer, and a murderer; not to 
run through the whole list, which would take too long, he is 
to be judged guilty of every crime, and thus, offending in one 
point, he is become guilty of all. 



Chapter 4 

On the other hand, he who has one virtue has them all, 
and he who does not have a particular one has none. If 

3 James 2.6-9. 

4 James 10.11. 



36 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

this is true, that statement is proved. But I want an explana- 
tion, not an assent, for that principle which in itself is more 
weighty for us than the authority of all the philosophers. If 
it is really true to say that of virtues and vices, it does not 
follow that therefore all sins are equal. I might conceivably 
be wrong, but if my memory serves rne well in something I 
barely remember, all the philosophers accept that dictum 
about the inseparability of virtues, by saying that the same 
virtues are necessary for right living. But the Stoics are the 
only ones who dared to argue for the equality of sins and this 
they did against all human experience. Your adversary, 
Jovinian, was a Stoic in following that opinion, but an 
Epicurean in grasping at and constantly defending pleasure, 
and you refuted him brilliantly from the holy Scriptures. 1 
In that most delightful and most luminous work of yours, it 
is quite clear that neither the authors on our side, nor Truth 
Itself which spoke through them, accepted the view that all 
sins are equal. How it can happen that even if this is true 
of virtues we are not thereby obliged to admit the equality of 
sins, I shall try to expound to the best of my ability, with 
the help of the Lord; if I succeed, you will approve; where I 
am lacking in my argument, you will supply. 



Chapter 5 

Those who hold that he who has one virtue has them all, 
and that all are lacking to him who lacks one particular one, 
use this argument: that prudence can be neither cowardly, 
nor unjust, nor intemperate, for if it is any of these it will 
not be prudence. On the other hand, if it is brave and just 
and temperate, it will be prudence; therefore, wherever it is 
found it has the other virtues with it. Thus, also fortitude 

1 Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 2.21-34, in PL 23, 



LETTERS 37 

cannot be imprudent or intemperate or unjust; likewise, 
temperance must necessarily be prudent, brave, and just, as 
justice will not be present if it is not prudent, brave, and 
temperate. Therefore, wherever any of these virtues is truly 
present, the others are likewise there; where the others are 
lacking, the one is not a true virtue, even though in some ways 
it seems like one. 

Chapter 6 

There are, as you know, certain vices forming contraries to 
the virtues by a clear distinction, as, imprudence to prudence; 
but there are also some which are only contrary because they 
are vices, but which have a sort of deceptive resemblance to 
virtues, as when we set against prudence, not imprudence, but 
craftiness. I am now speaking of that craftiness which is 
more commonly understood and expressed in an evil sense, 
not as our Scripture ordinarily uses it, which often gives it a 
good meaning; hence we have: 'Wise as serpents, 31 and c to 
give subtlety to little ones.' 2 We admit that the most fluent 
author of the Roman tongue among the ancients said: e One 
did not have to be on guard against trickery in him, nor was 
he lacking in subtlety,' 3 giving astutiam a good meaning; but 
among them that usage is extremely rare, though most com- 
mon among our writers. Likewise, among the subdivisions of 
temperance, prodigality is clearly contrary to thrift, but what, 
in everyday speech, is called niggardliness is obviously a vice, 
not like thrift by nature, but having a deceptive resemblance 
to it. In the same way, injustice is contrary to justice by an 
evident antithesis, whereas the craving for vengeance puts 
on a show of justice but is a vice. Slothfulness is clearly the 

1 Matt. 10.16. The adjective used is astuti (from astutiam), translated 
as 'craftiness/ 

2 Prov. 1.4. Astutia is here 'subtlety.' 

3 Sallust, Catiline 5.3. 



38 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

opposite of fortitude; hardihood differs from it by nature but 
counterfeits its appearance. Constancy is an essential part of 
virtue; inconstancy is completely different and forms an 
undeniable contrary, but stubbornness aims at being called 
constancy and is not constancy, because the one is a virtue, 
the other a vice. 

Chapter 7 

Let us take an example to illustrate the rest of this subject 
so as not to have to repeat the same things over and over. 
Those who had the opportunity of knowing Catiline have 
written of him that 'he was able to endure hunger, cold, and 
lack of sleep to an unbelievable degree,' 1 and for this reason 
it seemed to himself as well as to his followers that he was 
endowed with great fortitude. But, this fortitude was not 
prudent: it took evil for good; it was not temperate because 
it was defiled with base excesses; it was not just for he con- 
spired against his country. Therefore, in him it was not 
fortitude, but hardihood, that put on the name of fortitude 
to lead fools astray. If it had been fortitude it would not 
have been a vice but a virtue; if it had been a virtue it would 
never have been abandoned by the other virtues which are, 
so to speak, its inseparable companions. 



Chapter 8 

Thus, when the question is raised about vices, whether they 
are all equally present when one is present, or whether none 
is present when a particular one is lacking, it is a difficult 
task to prove it, because two vices are usually the opposites 
of one virtue: the manifest contrary and the one which 

1 Sal lust, Catiline 5.3. 



LETTERS 39 

masquerades under the appearance of similarity. Thus, also, 
it is easily seen that Catiline did not have fortitude, because 
he did not have the other virtues with it, but we can hardly 
be convinced that it was slothfulness which practised that 
endurance and tolerance of such extreme discomforts c to an 
unbelievable degree.' But, perhaps, if we examine more 
closely, that hardness will appear as slothfulness because he 
had neglected the effort of the pursuit of good through which 
true fortitude is attained. Nevertheless, as those who are not 
timid are bold and, on the other hand, those who lack bold- 
ness are timid and here there is vice on both sides whereas 
he who is strong in true virtue neither rashly dares nor un- 
reasonably fears, we are forced to admit that vices are more 
numerous than virtues. 

Chapter 9 

Sometimes, indeed, one vice is driven out by another, as 
love of money by love of praise; sometimes one yields and 
gives place to several, as when a man who has been a 
drunkard has learned to drink with moderation through 
miserliness and ambition. Therefore, it is possible for vices to 
to give place, not to virtues but to successive vices, because 
there are more of them. But, when one virtue has entered, 
bringing the others with it, at once all the vices which were 
present leave; not that all the vices were present, but some- 
times as many, sometimes more, vices yield place to fewer 
virtues or fewer give way to more. 



Chapter 10 

Whether this is really the case is something we must look 
into with great care. When we say that he who has one 
virtue has them all and he who lacks any particular one has 



40 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

none, we are not making a statement on divine authority. This 
is the result of men's thought men of great ability, deep 
study and leisure, it is true, but still men. But I do not know 
how I can deny that even a woman to say nothing of man 
from whom virtue 1 takes its name who keeps marital faith 
with her husband, if she does this because of the com- 
mandment and promise of God and is faithful to Him first of 
all, has chastity; nor would I say that it is a non-existent or 
insignificant virtue, and the same is true of the husband who 
keeps faith with his wife. Yet there are many such, none of 
whom I would say are without some sin, and certainly that 
sin, whatever it is, comes from some vice. We deduce that 
conjugal chastity in God-fearing men and women is un- 
questionably a virtue for it is something and it is not a vice 
but it does not have all the virtues with it. If they were all 
present there would be no vice; if no vice, absolutely no sin; 
but who is without some sin? Who, then, is without any vice, 
that is, the very stock and root, so to speak, of sin, when he 
who leaned upon the Lord's bosom 2 cried out: c if we say that 
we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not 
in us'? 3 This does not have to be developed further for you, 
but I am saying it for the sake of others who will read it. For 
you, indeed, in that same brilliant work against Jovinian 4 
have proved it exhaustively from the holy Scriptures, when 
you quoted from this very Epistle, part of which we are now 
seeking to understand, the following: 'For in many things 
we all offend.' 5 When the Apostle of Christ spoke, he did 
not say: 'You offend/ but 'We offend,' and when he says in 
this passage: 'Whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend 
in one point, is become guilty of all/ he is there speaking of 
many, not of one; he says that all offend, not merely some. 

1 Virtus; literally, "manliness/ from t/ir ('man') . 

2 John 13.25; 21.20. 

3 1 John L8. 

4 Jerome. Adversus Jovinianurn 2.2, in PL 23. 



LETTERS 41 

Chapter 11 

But God forbid that any of the faithful should think that 
so many thousands of the servants of God have no virtue 
when they say that they have sin, lest they deceive themselves 
and truth should not be in them, because wisdom is a great 
virtue. 'But he said to man: Behold piety, that is wisdom.' 1 
God forbid that we should say of so many deeply pious and 
faithful men of God that they have not piety, which the 
Greeks call eusebeian, 2 or, more exactly and completely, 
theosebeian? For, what is piety but the worship of God? 
What is the source of that worship if not charity? For, 
'charity from a pure heart and a good conscience and an 
unfeigned faith 5 is also a true virtue, because it is 'the end of 
the commandment/ 4 Rightly is it said to be 'strong as death,' 5 
either because no one overcomes it as no one overcomes death, 
or because in this life the measure of charity is unto death, 
as the Lord said : 'Greater love than this no man hath that a 
man lay down his life for his friends,' 6 or, rather, because as 
death tears the soul away from the senses of the flesh, so 
charity tears it away from carnal passions. Knowledge is its 
handmaid when it is useful, for without charity 'knowledge 
puffeth up,' 7 but, in the measure that charity fills the heart 
by edification, knowledge finds there nothing empty to puff 
up. Moreover, the sacred writer showed that knowledge is 
useful by defining it, when he said: 'Behold piety, that is 
wisdom,' and he straightway continued: 'To depart from 
evil, that is wisdom.' 8 Why, then, do we not say that he who 

1 Cf. Job 28.28. 

2 I.e., reverence toward the gods. 

3 I.e., worship or fear of God. 

4 1 Tim. 1.5, 

5 Cant. 8.6. 

6 John 15.13. 

7 1 Cor. 8.1. 

8 Job 28.28. 



42 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

has this virtue has them all, since love is the fulfilling of the 
law'? 9 Or is it true that, the more charity a man has, the 
more he is endowed with virtue, because charity is itself a 
virtue; and the less virtue he has the more vice there is in 
him? Therefore, where charity is full and perfect there will be 
no remains of vice. 

Chapter 12 

For that reason it seems to me that the Stoics are wrong in 
refusing to admit that the man who is increasing in wisdom 
has any wisdom at all, and insisting that he has it only when 
he is absolutely perfect in it; not that they refuse to admit the 
increase, but for them he is not wise in any degree unless he 
suddenly springs forth into the free air of wisdom after 
coming up and, as it were, emerging from the depths of the 
sea. Just as it makes no difference, if you want to drown a 
man, whether the water is many feet deep over him or only 
a hand's breadth or a finger's breadth, so, for them, those 
who are making progress are like men coming up from the 
depths of the sea into the air, but, unless they have entirely 
escaped from total folly by emerging and coming forth from 
the oppressive waters, they have no virtue and they are not 
wise; whereas, when they have escaped, they at once have 
complete wisdom, and no folly is left from which any sin 
could arise. 

Chapter 13 

This comparison in which folly is represented as water and 
wisdom as air, so that the soul coming up from the choking 
depths of folly into wisdom is suddenly able to breathe, does 
not seem to me compatible with the authority of our Scrip- 

9 Rom. 13.10. 



LETTERS 43 

tures; that other comparison is better, where vice or folly is 
likened to darkness, virtue or wisdom to light, in so far, of 
course, as resemblance drawn from corporeal sources can be 
applied to intellectual concepts. Wisdom does not come 
suddenly, in the manner of one rising from water into air 
who is able to breathe as much as he needs as soon as he has 
reached the top of the waves; it comes, rather, by degrees, 
in the manner of one advancing from darkness into light and 
being gradually illumined as he progresses. Until this is 
fully accomplished we say that he is like someone emerging 
from a very dark cave into the proximity of light, who is 
illumined more and more as he approches the exit, and that 
the light he has comes from the brightness toward which he 
is advancing, but the darkness still about him is from the 
blackness out of which he is coming. Thus: c ln the sight of 
God shall no man living be justified,' 1 yet 'the just man liveth 
by faith.' 2 The saints are clad in justice, 3 one more, another 
less; yet no one lives here without sin. In this, also, one more, 
another less, but he is best who has least sin. 

Chapter 14 

But what am I about? I am forgetting to whom I am 
speaking; I have been making myself out to be a teacher after 
proposing something which I wished to learn from you. It 
was because the question of the equality of sins came up in 
the matter I was treating that I decided to set forth my 
opinion for you to examine. Now I will bring it to a con- 
clusion soon because, although it is true that he who has one 
virtue has them all, while he who lacks a particular one has 
none, it is not equally true that sins are equal, because where 

1 Ps. 142.2. 

2 Hab. 2.4; Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38. 

3 Job 29.14. 



44 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

there is no virtue there is nothing upright, yet a thing may be 
more or less crooked, more or less twisted. However, I think 
it more likely and more in accord with the sacred writings 
that the movements of the soul are like the members of the 
body, not that they are seen in different places, but they are 
felt in the affections, and one has more light, another less, 
while another lacks light entirely and is enveloped in its 
inhibition as in darkness. In like manner, according as a 
man is moved by the enlightenment of devout love, more in 
one act, less in another, he can be said to have one virtue, 
not to have another, or to have yet another in greater or less 
degree. We can rightly say: There is greater charity in this 
man than in that one,' and 'there is some in him, none at all 
in that one/ and this applies to charity which is piety. We 
can also say of one and the same man that he has more 
modesty than patience, and, if he makes progress, more today 
than yesterday, and that as yet he has no continence but he 
has no slight kindness. 

Chapter 15 

And now, to summarize briefly and comprehensively the 
idea I have of the virtue which belongs to right living: that 
virtue is charity by means of which we love what we should 
love. This is greater in some, less in others, lacking in still 
others; its fullest measure, beyond which there is no increase, 
is found in no one as long as he lives the life of man. As 
long as it is subject to increase, the defect by which it is less 
than it ought to be is accounted as vice; by reason of this 
vice 'There is no just man upon earth, that will do good and 
sin not'; 1 because of this vice, 'No man living shall be 
justified in the sight of God'; 2 because of this vice, *I we 

1 Eccle, 7.21; 3 Kings 8.46. 

2 Ps. 142.2. 



LETTERS 45 

say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is 
not in us 3 ; 3 because of it, also, however much progress we 
have made, we still have to say: Torgive us our debts, 34 
even though in baptism all our words, deeds, thoughts have 
been forgiven. Therefore, he who sees rightly sees where and 
when and whence that perfection is to be hoped for, to 
which no addition is possible. But, if there were no command- 
ments, there would certainly be no norm by which a man 
might look into himself and see what he should avoid, what 
he should strive after, what he should rejoice in, what he 
should pray for. Commandments, then, are highly useful, if 
only because free will is thereby given the opportunity of 
doing greater honor to the grace of God. 



Chapter 16 

If all that is so, how does it happen that he who keeps the 
whole law is guilty of all if he offends in one point? Is it 
perhaps because 'Love is the fulfilling of the law 51 by which 
God and the neighbor are loved, on which commandments 
'dependeth the whole law and the prophets,' 2 that he is 
deservedly guilty of all who has acted against that virtue on 
which all depends? For, no one sins except by acting con- 
trary to charity, because 'Thou shalt not commit adultery, 
thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not covet, and if there be any 
other commandment it is comprised in this word : Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself. The love of our neighbor worketh 

3 1 John 1.8. 

4 Matt 6.12; Luke 11.4. 

1 Rom. 13.10. 

2 Matt. 22.40. 



46 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law/ 3 However, 
no one loves his neighbor unless he loves God, and, by loving 
him as himself to the limit of his ability, he pours out his 
love on him so that he, too, may love God. But, if he does 
not love God, he loves neither himself nor his neighbor. In 
this way, whoever shall keep the whole law but offend in one 
point becomes guilty of all because he acts against charity on 
which the whole law depends. Thus, he becomes guilty of all 
by acting against that virtue on which all depends. 



Chapter 17 

Why, then, cannot we say that sins are equal? It might be 
because he who sins more grievously deals a greater blow to 
charity, while he who sins more lightly wounds it less; the 
one who sins more grievously or more frequently is more 
culpable, the one who sins more lightly or less often is less 
guilty. Obviously, the guilt would be greater or less according 
as the sin has been greater or less; yet, if he has offended in 
one point, he becomes guilty of all, because he has violated 
charity on which all depends. If this is true, it explains what 
a man of even apostolic grace says: *In many things we all 
offend/ for we do offend, one more grievously, another more 
lightly; and to measure how much more or less anyone sins 
we say that, the less he loves God and his neighbor, the 
more prone he is to commit sin; on the other hand, the 
greater his love of God and his neighbor, the less he is 
likely to commit sin; whoever has less charity has more 
sinfulness, but he who is perfect in charity has no remains of 
weakness. 

3 Rom. 13.9,10. 



LETTERS 47 

Chapter 18 

Yet, certainly, as I look at it, it is not to be deemed a light 
sin to have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of 
persons, if we apply that difference of sitting and standing to 
ecclesiastical dignities. Who could bear to have a rich man 
chosen to a seat of honor in the Church while a more learned 
and holier one is passed over because he is poor? And if we 
speak of everyday seating arrangements, does he not commit 
this sin, if it is a sin, when he judges within himself, from 
appearances, that a rich man is a better man? The Apostle 
seems to have meant this when he said: 'Do you not judge 
within yourselves and are become judges of unjust thoughts?' 1 

Chapter 19 

Therefore, the law of charity is the law of liberty, of which 
he says: 'If then you fulfil the royal law according to the 
Scriptures: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself you do 
well, but if you have respect to persons you commit sin, being 
reproved by the law as transgressors.' 1 And after that sen- 
tence, so very difficult to understand, on which I have said 
all that I think needs saying, he mentions that same law of 
liberty in the words: 'So speak ye, and so do, as being to be 
judged by the law of liberty.' And since, as I said awhile ago, 
'in many things we all offend,' he suggests the Lord's remedy 
to be used as a daily medicine for daily wounds, even slight 
ones, for he says: 'Judgment without mercy to him that hath 
not done mercy.' 2 On this point, also, the Lord said: 'Forgive 
and you shall be forgiven; give and it shall be given to you'; 

1 James 2.4. 

1 James 2.8,9. 

2 James 2.12,13. 

3 Luke 6.37,38. 



48 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

but 'Mercy exalteth itself above judgment.' 4 It does not say: 
'Mercy overcomes judgment, 5 for it is not in conflict with it, 
but 'exalteth itself because more are won over by mercy, and 
by mercy it means those who have shown mercy. 'Blessed are 
the merciful because God will be merciful to them.' 5 



Chapter 20 

Obviously, it is just that those who have pardoned should 
receive pardon and that it should be given to those who give. 
It is natural that there should be in God both mercy for him 
that judges and judgment for him that shows mercy. That is 
why we say to Him: 'Mercy and judgment I will sing to 
thee, O Lord. 11 Whoever, presuming on his own justice, 
expects judgment with mercy as if he were secure provokes 
the most just anger, of which the Psalmist said in fear: 
'Enter not into judgment with thy servant.' 2 Therefore, God 
says to His perverse people: 'Why will you contend with me 
in judgment?' 3 For, when 'the just king shall sit on his 
throne, who will boast that he has a chaste heart, or who will 
boast that he is pure of sin?' 4 What hope is there, then, 
unless 'mercy exalteth itself above judgment, ' but only 
toward those who have shown mercy by saying sincerely: 
'Forgive us as we forgive,' and by giving without protest? 
Tor God loveth a cheerful giver,' 5 Finally, in order to comfort 
those in whom the former sentence had roused extreme fear, 
St. James in the sequence to that passage speaks of the works 

4 James 2.13. 

5 Cf. Matt. 5.7. 



1 Ps. 100.1. 

2 Ps. 142.2. 

3 Jer. 2,29. 

4 Prov. 20.8,9 (Septuagint) . 

5 2 Cor. 9.7. 



LETTERS 49 

of mercy, when he points out how even daily sins, without 
which there is no living in this world, are expiated by daily 
remedies. Without these, man who becomes guilty of all by 
offending in one point, and by offending in many 'because 
in many things we all offend' would drag with him to the 
judgment seat of the great Judge a mighty load of guilt, 
gathered up bit by bit, and would not find the mercy which 
he had not shown, but by forgiving and giving he deserves to 
have his debts forgiven and the promised reward given to him. 



Chapter 21 

I have spoken at length, and probably I have bored you by 
repeating arguments which you accept but which you do not 
expect to learn because you have been accustomed to teach 
them. If there is anything in them regarding their content 
for I am not concerned about the language in which they are 
expressed but if there is anything in them which offends 
your learning, I beg you in your answer to warn me of it, 
and to take the trouble to correct me. Unhappy is he who 
does not worthily honor such great and holy labors as are 
those of your studies, and give thanks for them to the Lord 
our God, by whose gift you are what you are! Therefore, 
since I ought to be more ready to learn from anyone at all 
what I am so useless as not to know rather than eager to 
teach anyone at all what I do know, how much more reason 
have I to beg to be indebted to your Charity, by whose 
learning, in the name and with the help of the Lord, ecclesi- 
astical literature in the Latin tongue has been advanced as 
it could never have been before ! Especially do I ask you by 
the Lord, if your Charity knows of a better way of interpreting 
that sentence: 'Whosoever shall keep the whole law but 
offend in one point is become guilty of all/ be so kind as to 
share it with us. 



50 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

168. Timasius and James 1 give greeting in the Lord to the 

truly blessed lord, their deservedly revered father,, 

Bishop Augustine (415) 

The grace of God, administered by your word, has so 
refreshed and revived us that we can appropriately say: c He 
sent his word and healed them/ 2 blessed lord, deservedly 
revered father. Certainly we find that your Holiness has 
rendered the text of that same book, 3 so redolent of your 
careful attention, that we were in admiration of the answers 
contained in it, down to the last page, whether in those points 
which it befits a Christian to refute, detest, and avoid, or in 
those in which it is shown that the objector 4 was not so far 
wrong, although, by some clever twist or other, even in those 
passages he believed that the grace of God was to be passed 
over. But we have one regret in this favor you have done us, 
that so sublime a gift of the grace of God should be so late 
in shedding its light, because it happens that some are absent 
whose blindness has need of the illumination of so shining a 
truth, but we trust by the mercy of God that this same grace 
may come to them, however late, since 'He will have all men 
to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.' 5 As 
for us, taught as we have been long since by the spirit of 
charity which is in you, we have cast off our attachment to 
that error, and we now return thanks that we have learned 
how to reveal to others what we have previously believed, 
because the fruitful words of your Holiness have opened the 
way and made it easy for us. 

May the mercy of our God ever glorify your Blessedness 
and make you mindful of us. 6 

1 Converts of Augustine's; probably members of a group of monks. Cf. 
Letter 179 n. 2. 

2 Ps. 106.20. 

3 On Nature and Grace. 

4 Pelagius, against whom the book was written. 

5 1 Tim. 2.4. 

6 In another handwriting. 



LETTERS 51 

169. Augustine, bishop, to Evodius, 1 bishop (End of 415) 

If your Holiness is so anxious to know what subjects keep 
me most occupied, from which I am unwilling to be diverted 
to something else, send someone to describe them to you. 
Several, which I began this year before Easter, at the 
approach of Lent, are now completed, I have added two 
more to my three books on the City of God against His 
enemies the demon-worshipers, and in these five books I think 
I have made out a rather good argument against those who 
think the gods are to be worshiped for the sake of happiness 
in this life, and who are hostile to the very name of Christian 
because they believe we are the obstacle to that happiness. 
Besides, it must be said, as we promised in Book 1, that it 
is also against those who think the worship of their gods 
necessary for the life after death, and that is the life for the 
sake of which we are Christians. I have also dictated some 
sizable volumes containing a commentary on three Psalms: 
67, 71, and 77. The others, not yet dictated, or even composed, 
are urgently looked for and demanded of me. I do not want 
to be called off from these or slowed down by any flank 
attack of any other questions, and so I have no desire to give 
my attention to the books on the Trinity which I have had 
on hand for a long time, but have not yet finished, because 
they are too exacting a work, and I think they are com- 
prehensible to few. Therefore, the other works which I hope 
will be useful to more people are more pressing. 

The passage, 'If any man know not he shall not be known,' 2 
does not mean, as you write, that the Apostle spoke in this 
matter as if that punishment would be inflicted on anyone 
whose mind is not keen enough to perceive the ineffable unity 
of the Trinity, as memory, intellect, and will are perceived 

1 There is no formal address. Evodius was his boyhood friend. 

2 1 Cor. 14.38. 



52 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

in our mind. The Apostle is here speaking of something else. 
Read it and you will see that he was saying such things as 
would serve to strengthen the faith or morals of many, not 
such as would appeal to the understanding of a few, a 
limited understanding, restricted, the only kind one can find 
in this life. He was dealing with such topics as these: that 
prophecy should be preferred to tongues; that their meetings 
should be carried on without disturbance, as if the spirit of 
prophecy forced even the unwilling to speak; that women 
should keep silence in church; 'that all things be done 
decently and according to order/ 3 When he had settled these 
points, he said: 'If any seem to be a prophet or spiritual, let 
him know the things that I wrote to you, that it is the com- 
mandment of the Lord. But if any man know not, he shall 
not be known'; 4 by these words restraining the turbulent and 
recalling them to peaceful order, especially those who were 
more ready to dissent because they seemed to surpass the 
rest in spirituality, whose pride disturbed everything. 'If 
therefore any seem to be a prophet or spiritual, let him 
know,' says the Apostle, 'the thing I write to you, because it 
is the commandment of the Lord. 9 c lf any seem to be, 5 and 
obviously is not, for he who is knows beyond doubt and has 
no need of warning or exhortation, because 'he judgeth all 
things and is judged by no man.' 5 Therefore, those who 
make dissensions and disturbances in the Church are the ones 
who seem to be what they are not. He teaches these to know 
that it is the commandment of the Lord because 'He is not 
the God of dissension but of peace.' 6 But, 'if any man know 
not, he shall not be known,' that is, he shall be cast off, for, 
if you are speaking of knowledge, God is not without knowl- 



3 1 Cor. 14.34-40. 

4 1 Cor. 14.37-39. 

5 1 Cor. 2.15. 

6 1 Cor. 14.33. 



LETTERS 53 

edge of those to whom He will say: 'I know you not.' 7 His 
rejection is indicated by that word. 

But when the Lord says : 'Blessed are the clean of heart for 
they shall see God/ 8 and that vision is thereby promised at 
the end as our reward, we have no reason to fear that we 
shall then hear the word: c if any man know not, he shall 
not be known/ because we are now unable to see what we 
believe about the nature of God. Tor seeing that in the 
wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it 
pleased God by the foolishness of our preaching to save them 
that believe.' 9 This foolishness of preaching and 'foolishness 
of God which is wiser than men' 10 draws many to salvation, 
and so, not only those who are not yet able to perceive with 
sure understanding the nature of God which they hold by 
faith, but also those who do not yet distinguish in their own 
mind incorporeal substance from the common nature of the 
body, and do not know how to live, know, and will, are still 
not deprived of salvation which that foolishness of preaching 
bestows on the faithful. 

For, if Christ died for those only who are able to discern 
these truths with sure understanding, our labor in the Church 
is almost worthless. But if, as truth holds, the believers among 
the peoples run to their Physician in their sickness to be healed 
by Christ, and Him crucified, so that 'where sin abounded 
grace might more abound,' 11 it happens in marvellous ways, 
'through the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the 
knowledge of God,' and by 'his unsearchable judgments' 12 
that some, because they can distinguish incorporeal from 
corporeal things, seem great to themselves, mock at the 

7 Matt. 7.23; Luke 13,25,27. 

8 Matt. 5.8. 

9 1 Cor, 1.21. 

10 1 Cor. 1.25. 

11 Cf. Rom. 5.20. 

12 Cf. Rom. 11.33. 



54 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

foolishness of the preaching through which they believed and 
were saved, and wander far from the one way which alone 
leads to eternal life. On the other hand, many who glory in 
the cross of Christ and do not withdraw from that same way, 
though ignorant of those points which are so subtlely debated, 
because not one little one perishes for whom He died, 13 
attain to that same eternity, truth, charity, that is, to a fixed, 
sure, and complete happiness where all things are clear to 
those who remain faithful, who see, and who love. 

Therefore, let us believe with firm piety in one God, Father 
and Son and Holy Spirit, in such wise that the Son is not 
believed to be the same Person as the Father, or the Father 
the same as the Son, or the Father and the Son the same as 
the Spirit of both, And let it not be thought that there is any 
separation of time or place in this Trinity, but that these 
three are equal and co-eternal and entirely of one nature; or 
that one creature was created by the Father, another by the 
Son, another by the Holy Spirit, but that all created things, 
all and each one of them that have been or are being created 
exist by the creative power of the Trinity. Nor must we think 
that anyone is saved by the Father without the Son and the 
Holy Spirit, or by the Son without the Father and the Holy 
Spirit, or by the Holy Spirit without the Father and the 
Son, but by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one 
true and only God, truly immortal, that is, entirely unchange- 
able. In the Scripture many details are mentioned separately 
of the Persons individually, such as cannot be said of them 
jointly, even though they are inseparably together, as when 
they are made manifest by corporeal sounds; and so in 
certain passages of Scripture and through certain created 
beings they are shown separately and successively, as the 
Father in the voice which was heard : 'Thou art my Son/ 14 

13 Matt. 18.14; John 17,12. 

14 Mark 1.11; Luke 3,22; Ps, 2.7; Matt. 3.17. 



LETTERS 55 

and the Son in the human nature which He took from the 
Virgin/ 5 and the Holy Spirit in the physical appearance of 
a dove. 16 These are mentioned separately, it is true, but they 
do not prove that the Three are separated. 

To understand this to some extent, we take the example of 
our memory, our understanding, our will. Although we list 
these separately, individually, and in their separate times, yet 
there is nothing we do or say which proceeds from one of 
them without the other two. However, we are not to think 
that these three faculties are compared to the Trinity so as to 
resemble it at every point, for a comparison is never given 
such importance in an argument that it exactly fits the thing 
to which it is compared. Besides, when can any likeness in a 
created being be applied to the Creator? In the first place, 
that comparison lacks resemblance because those three fac- 
ulties memory, understanding, will are in the mind, the 
mind is not identical with the three of them; whereas the 
Trinity is not in God, it is God. Therein we admire His 
marvellous simplicity because in the nature of God being is 
not different from understanding or anything else we might 
say of Him; the mind, however, exists even without the 
understanding because its being is not identical with its 
understanding. In the second place, who would dare to say 
that the Father does not understand through Himself but 
through the Son, as the memory does not understand through 
itself, but through the understanding, or, rather, the mind 
itself, in which these faculties exist, understands only through 
the understanding, as it remembers only through the memory, 
and wills only through the will? Thus far, then, that com- 
parison is applied to make us understand in some way how, 
when mention is made of the separate names by which these 
faculties of the mind are made known, each single name is 

15 Matt. 1.23,25; Luke 2.7. 

16 Matt. 3.16; Mark 1.10; Luke 3.22; John 1.22. 



56 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

used of their joint action, as when we speak of remembering 
and understanding and willing; but there is no created being, 
by which the Father alone or the Son alone or the Holy 
Spirit alone is made known, which is not the work of the 
Trinity together, since its action is indivisible. Thus, neither 
the voice of the Father, nor the soul and body of the Son, 
nor the dove of the Holy Spirit is brought about in any other 
way than by the common action of the same Trinity. 

For, certainly, the sound of the voice which at once ceased 
to be is not a fitting likeness to the unity of the person of the 
Father, nor does the corporeal appearance of the dove re- 
semble the unity of the person of the Holy Spirit, for it, also, 
like that luminous cloud which overshadowed the Saviour 
on the mountain with the three disciples, 17 or, rather, like 
that fire which manifested the presence of the Holy Spirit, 18 
ceased to be as soon as its purpose had been fulfilled. But 
man alone, because all the wonders took place to deliver 
human nature, was assimilated to the unity of the person of 
the Word of God, that is, the only Son of God, by His 
marvellous and unique incarnation, yet the Word remained 
unchangeable in His nature in which nothing complex is 
to be supposed which could support any image of the human 
mind. It is true, we read: The spirit of wisdom is manifold,' 19 
but it is also rightly called simple : manifold because there are 
many things which it has, but simple because what it has is 
nothing other than what it is, as the Son is said to 'have life 
in himself' 20 and is Himself the same life. 21 It is man that 
draws near to the Word, not the Word that by any change 
draws near to man. Thus, He is called the Son of God and 
God made man at the same time. Consequently, the same 



17 Matt. 17.5; Mark 9,6; Luke 9,24. 

18 Acts 2.3. 

19 Wisd. 7.22. 

20 John 5.26. 

21 John 14.6. 



LETTERS 57 

Son of God is unchangeable and co-eternal with the Father in 
the Word alone; and the Son of God was buried, but in the 
flesh alone. 

Therefore, in what is said of the Son of God the choice of 
words must be guided by the meaning intended. The number 
of Persons was not increased by the assuming of human 
nature, but the Trinity remained the same. Just as in any 
man, except the one who was uniquely assumed by the Word, 
soul and body form one person, so in Christ the Word and 
man form one Person. And just as a man is called, for in- 
stance, a philosopher though this refers uniquely to his mind, 
and it is not an illogical but a highly appropriate and 
customary form of speech to say of him that a philosopher was 
killed, a philosopher died, a philosopher was buried, although 
all this affects him only in the body and not in what makes 
him a philosopher so it must be held certain that Christ 
who is God, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, and any 
other titles that may be given to Him, is rightly said to be a 
crucified God, although He suffered this only according to 
the flesh and not according to His nature as Lord of glory. 

But the sound of that voice and the corporeal appearance 
of the dove, and the 'parted tongues as it were of fire that 
sat upon every one of them,' 22 like those terrible manifestations 
that happened on Mount Sinai 23 and that pillar of cloud by 
day and of fire by night, 24 were performed and carried out 
as figurative acts. Now, in these matters, special care must be 
taken lest anyone believe that the nature of God, either the 
Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, is subject to change or 
transformation. And let no one be troubled because sometimes 
the sign receives the name of the thing signified. Thus, the 
Holy Spirit is said to have descended on Christ in the cor- 

22 Acts 2.3. 

23 Exod. 19.18. 

24 Exod. 13.21. 



58 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

poreal appearance, as it were, of a dove and to have re- 
mained upon Him; thus, also, the rock is called Christ because 
it signifies Christ. 25 

But I am surprised that you think it possible for the sound 
of that voice which said: Thou art my Son/ 26 to be produced 
by the divine will acting on physical nature without the 
agency of a living being, and you do not think it possible 
for the physical appearance of any living creature and of 
movement like that of life to be produced by the divine will 
in the same way without the agency of any animal life- 
principle. If created nature obeys God without the action of 
a vivifying soul, so that sounds are uttered such as are 
usually uttered by a living body, and the form of articulate 
speech is brought to the ears, why should it not obey Him 
so that without the agency of a vivifying soul the form and 
movement of a bird should be presented to the sight by the 
same power of the Creator? Can this be the privilege of the 
sense of hearing but not of sight, although both sense im- 
pressions are formed from the matter of the body which lies 
near both what sounds in the ears and what appears to the 
sight, both the syllables of the voice and the outline of the 
physical shape, both audible and visible movement so that 
it should be both a true body which is perceived by a bodily 
sense and at the same time nothing more than what is 
perceived by a bodily sense? The soul is not perceived by any 
bodily sense, nor is it seen in any living being. Therefore, 
there is no need to inquire how the corporeal appearance of 
the dove was produced, just as we do not inquire how the 
words of an articulate body produce their sound. For, if it 
were possible for a soul not to be the medium by which a 
voice is said to have been made audible and not as a voice 
usually is, how much more possible was it when the dove was 

25 1 Cor. 10.4. 

26 Matt. 3.16-17; Mark 1.10,11; Luke 3.22. 



LETTERS 59 

spoken of that this word should signify merely a physical ap- 
pearance presented to the eyes without the actual nature of a 
living creature! These words, also, were said in that sense: 
'And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a 
mighty wind coming, and there appeared to them parted 
tongues as it were of fire, 327 where a certain phenomenon is 
said to be c as of a wind' and 'as it were' a visible fire, like 
the natural fire with its customary nature, but it does not 
seem to mean that natural fire of the customary kind was 
produced. 

If a more subtle reasoning or a more thorough investigation 
into this matter shows that the nature which is not susceptible 
of motion in either time or space undergoes no motion except 
through a nature which can move in time only but not in 
space, the conclusion will be that all those phenomena were 
brought about through the agency of a living creature, as, 
for example, by angels. Hence, it would take too long and 
there is no need to discuss it more in detail. In addition, there 
are visions which appear to the mind as if to the bodily 
senses, not only to people in sleep or out of their minds, but 
sometimes to people of sane mind and wide awake; they are 
not caused by the deceit of mocking demons but by some 
spiritual revelation which acts through incorporeal forms 
resembling bodies. These cannot be distinguished at all unless 
they are more fully revealed by divine assistance and dis- 
cerned by the understanding of the mind, and this is scarcely 
ever the case while they are happening, but occurs for the 
most part after they have disappeared. This being so, whether 
they have a corporeal nature or merely a corporeal appear- 
ance but a spiritual nature in which they appear to our mind 
as to the bodily senses, since sacred Scripture relates these 
things, we ought not to judge rashly of which sort these two 
are, or whether they are produced by the agency of a living 

27 Acts 2.2,3. 



)0 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

;reature if they occur in bodily form, so long as we either 
Delieve without any doubt or accept with such understanding 
is we have that the invisible and immutable nature of the 
Creator, that is, of the supreme and ineffable Trinity, is 
3Oth far removed and distinct from the senses of mortal 
flesh, and from all change into something either better or 
worse or into anything else at all. 

You see, in spite of my being so very busy, how lengthily 
[ have been able to write you these thoughts on your two 
juestions, that is, about the Trinity and the dove, the form 
inder which the Holy Spirit was seen, not in His own nature 
>ut under a symbolical appearance, just as the Son of God 
vas not crucified by the Jews in His own begotten nature of 
vhich the Father says: 'Before the day-star I begot thee,' 28 
>ut in the human nature which He took in the womb of 
he Virgin, I thought better not to treat of all the objections 
vhich you put into your letter, but these two on which you 
vanted to hear from me I think I have answered fully 
inough to obey your Charity, though not enough, perhaps, 
or your insatiable desire. 

In addition to those two books which, as I said above, I 
idded to the other three, and the commentary on the three 
3 salms, I have also written a book to the holy priest Jerome 
>n the origin of the soul, advising him how to defend that 
opinion which he had written as his own to Marcellinus of 
eligious memory; that new, individual souls are created at 
>irth, so that the fundamental belief of the Church may not 
e shaken, by which we steadfastly believe that in Adam all 
ie' 29 and, unless they are redeemed by the grace of Christ, 
fhich is effected through His sacrament conferred even on 
ifants, are doomed to condemnation. I also wrote him 
nother one asking how he thought we should interpret what 

8 Ps. 109.3. 

9 1 Cor. 15.22. 



LETTERS 61 

is written in the Epistle of James: 'Whosoever shall keep the 
whole law but offend in one point, is become guilty of all.' 30 
But in this one I said what I thought, whereas in the other 
one on the origin of the soul I only asked, in a sort of tentative 
argument, what he thought. I did not want to lose the 
opportunity of sending them by a certain very holy and very 
studious young man, the priest Orosius, who came to us from 
faraway Spain, that is, from the Atlantic coast, with the 
sole incentive of learning the holy Scriptures. I persuaded him 
to go to Jerome. In one small book, as briefly and clearly as I 
could, I gave this same Orosius the answers to several ques- 
tions on the Priscillianist heresy and on certain of Origen's 
opinions, not accepted by the Church, which troubled him. 
And I wrote an especially long book against the Pelagian 
heresy at the request of several of the brethren who had been 
impressed by his deadly doctrine against the grace of Christ. 
If you want to have all these, send someone to transcribe 
them for you, but leave me free to study and to dictate works 
which are needful for many and which I think should have 
the right of way over your inquiries on matters of interest to 
few. 



170. Alypius and Augustine give greeting in the Lord to the 
excellent and deservedly honored lord, their re- 
ligious brother, Maximus 1 (c. 415) 

When we were inquiring of our holy brother and fellow 
bishop, Peregrinus, 2 about your health not your physical 
health only, but especially your spiritual health and that of 
your household, his answers about you gave us pleasure, but 

30 James 2.10. 

1 A physician, recently converted from Arianism. 

2 Cf. Letter 139. He became a bishop in 413, but his see is not named. 



62 SAINT AUGU STINE 

we were sad to hear of your household that they have not 
yet experienced a salutary conversion or joined the Catholic 
Church. As we had hoped that this would soon happen, we 
deeply regret that it has not yet come to pass, excellent lord, 
deservedly honored and religious brother. 

Therefore, we greet your Charity in the peace of the Lord, 
and we enjoin on you and beg of you not to delay teaching 
them what you have learned, namely, that to the one God 
alone do we owe the worship which is called latreia in Greek. 
That same word is found in the Law, where it is written: 
The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou 
serve.' 3 If we spoke of Him as God the Father only, we 
should be answered : 'Then the worship of latreia is now owed 
to the Son/ which it is forbidden to say. But if it is owed, 
how, then, is it owed to God alone if it is owed to the Father 
and the Son, unless the one God to whom we are commanded 
to give the worship of latreia is so named the only God as to 
mean the Father and the Son and, certainly, the Holy Spirit 
as well? Of Him doubtless the Apostle says: 'Know you not 
that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in 
you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 
For you are bought with a great price. Glorify God, therefore, 
in your body/ 4 Of what God but the Holy Spirit did he say 
that our bodies are the temple? Therefore, latreia is owed to 
the Holy Spirit. For, if we were commanded to build Him a 
temple of wood and stone as Solomon did, by this very 
building of a temple we should prove that we offered Him 
worship; how much more, then, do we owe Him worship, 
we who do not build Him a temple but are his temple ! 

Thus, if the worship of latreia is owed to the Father and to 
the Son and to the Holy Spirit and is paid by us, as it is said : 
'The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou 

3 Dent. 6.13; Matt. 4,10. 

4 1 Cor. 6.19,20. 



LETTERS 63 

serve/ without any doubt the Lord our God to whom alone 
we owe worship of latreia is not the Father alone, or the Son 
alone, or the Holy Spirit alone, but the Trinity Itself, one 
only God, Father, and Son and Holy Spirit; but not in such 
wise as that the Father should be the same as the Son, or the 
Holy Spirit the same as the Father or the Son, since in that 
Trinity the Father is Father of the Son alone, and the Son is 
Son of the Father alone, but the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of 
the Father and the Son. By reason of its one and the same 
nature and inseparable life the Trinity is understood as 
far as can be understood by man, with faith leading the way 
as one Lord our God, of whom it is said: The Lord thy 
God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou serve,' of 
whom the Apostle spoke when he said: Tor of him and by 
him and in him are all things: to him be glory forever.' 5 

But the only-begotten Son does not come of God the 
Father as the whole of creation came from Him, which He 
created from nothing. He begot the Son of His own sub- 
stance, He did not make Him out of nothing; He did not 
beget Him in time, through whom He instituted all time, for, 
as the flame is not antecedent to the brightness which it 
produces, so the Father has never been without the Son. 
Indeed, He is the wisdom of the Father, of whom it is 
written: c The brightness of eternal light. 56 Therefore, there 
is no doubt that wisdom is co-eternal with the light whose 
brightness it is, that is, with God the Father, and therefore, 
also, as in the beginning God made heaven and earth, not 
so, in the beginning, did He make the Word, but c ln the 
beginning was the Word.' 7 The Holy Spirit was not made, 
either, as creation was from nothing, but as He proceeds 

5 Rom. 11.36. 

6 Wisd. 7.26. 

7 John 1.1. 



64 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

from the Father and the Son, so He was not created by the 
Son or by the Father. 

This Trinity is of one and the same nature and substance, 
not less in each Person than in all, or more in all than in 
each; and as much in the Father alone or in the Son alone 
as in the Father and the Son together, and as much in the 
Holy Spirit alone as in the Father and the Son and the Holy 
Spirit together. And the Father did not diminish Himself in 
order to have a Son of Himself, but He begot Him as 
another self so as to remain whole in Himself, and to be as 
great in the Son as He is alone. Likewise, the Holy Spirit, a 
whole Person from a whole Person, does not precede Him 
from whom He proceeds, but is as much with Him as He is 
from Him; He does not diminish Him by proceeding from 
Him or increase Him by remaining with Him. All these 
Persons are not confusedly one or separately three, but be- 
cause they are one they are three, and because they are three 
they are one. Moreover, as He has granted to the many hearts 
of His faithful to be one heart, 8 how much more does He 
reserve for Himself that these three Persons should be all and 
singly God and at the same time that they should be one 
God, not three gods. This is the Lord our God who is 
served with universal devotion, to whom alone the worship of 
latreia is due. 

Since of His bounty He has granted to things which are 
born in time that each thing should beget offspring of its 
own substance, see how impious it is to say that He did not 
beget what He is, when man, by His gift, begets what he is, 
that is, man, not of another nature but of the same as his 
own, although He does not beget the Father of His Son 
which is Himself. These terms indicate analogy not nature, 
and, therefore, when applied to something they have a 

8 Acts 4.32. 



LETTERS 65 

relative sense, sometimes identical, sometimes different. They 
have a meaning of identity, of course, when brother is com- 
pared to brother, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, 
kindred to kindred, and other like cases which could be 
drawn out to infinity if one wished to run through all of 
them. In these cases this one is to that one what that one is 
to this one. But they are different in comparisons of father to 
son, son to father, father-in-law to son-in-law, son-in-law to 
father-in-law, master to slave, slave to master: in these this 
one is not to that one what that one is to this one, although 
both are men. This comparison of diverse objects is not made 
in terms of their nature, since, as you notice, what one of 
the pair is to the other is not in the formula of this one is to 
that one as that one is to this one, because one is the father, 
the other the son; or one the father-in-law, the other the 
son-in-law; or one the master, the other the slave. But, if 
you notice what each one is to himself or in himself, one is 
the same as the other because one is man as the other is. 
Consequently, your Prudence understands the illogical con- 
tention of those from whose error the Lord has delivered you, 
which states that the nature of God the Father must be 
different from the nature of God the Son, because one is the 
Father, the other the Son, and therefore the Father did not 
beget what He is Himself, since He did not beget the 
Father of the Son which He is Himself. Anyone can see that 
those terms do not denote their natures in themselves, but the 
Person of each toward the other. 

They also promote an error like this when they say that the 
Son is of another nature and of different substance because 
the Father does not derive His Godhead from another but the 
Son derives His from God the Father. Here, however, it is 
not a question of substance, but of origin; that is, not what 
each one is, but whence He is or is not. We do not say that 
Abel and Adam were not of the same nature and substance 



66 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

because the former had had human nature from the latter, but 
the latter had his from no man. If, then, we consider the 
nature of both, Abel was a man, Adam was a man; but, if 
we consider their origin, Abel descended from the first man, 
Adam from no man. Thus, in God the Father and God the 
Son, if we consider the nature of both, each one is God, but 
one is not more God than the other; if we consider their 
origin, the Father is God from whom the Son is God, but 
there is no god previous to God the Father. 

Those who try to reply to this make a vain effort when 
they say: 'But man begets with sufferings; God begot His 
Son without suffering.' This does not help them at all, but it 
helps us greatly. For, if God granted to temporal and 
passible things to beget what they are, how much more did 
He who is eternal and impassible beget no other than He is 
Himself: one Father an only Son, to our unutterable wonder, 
since He begot Him with no suffering on His part, and with 
such complete equality to Himself that the Son does not 
excel Him either in power or in age ! All He has and can do 
He attributes to His Father, not to Himself, because He is 
not of Himself but of the Father. For, He is equal to the 
Father and this also He received from the Father, but He 
did not so receive His being equal as if He had previously 
been unequal and was born equal, but, as He is always born, 
so He is always equal. Therefore, He did not beget one un- 
equal and add equality to Him at birth, but He gave it to 
Him in begetting Him because He begot Him equal, not 
unequal. Therefore, being in the form of God, it was not 
robbery in Him to be equal to God; 9 since He assumed this 
at birth, He did not presume it by pride. 

His reason for saying that the Father is greater 10 is that 

9 Phil. 2.6. 

10 John 14.28. 



LETTERS 67 

, 

'He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant/ 11 without 
losing that of God. Because of this form of servant, He not 
only became less than the Father but also less than Himself 
and the Holy Spirit; not only less than this most high Trinity, 
but He was even made c a little lower than the angels.' 12 He 
was also lower than man, because as a boy He was subject 
to His parents. 13 And so it was because of this form of the 
servant which He took by emptying Himself when the 
fullness of time was come that He said: 'The Father is 
greater than I,' 14 but it was because of that form of God 
which He did not lose by emptying Himself that He said: 
fi l and the Father are one.' 15 It is clear that He became man 
while remaining God, for man was assumed by God; God 
was not consumed in man. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable 
to say both that Christ as man is less than the Father and 
that Christ as God is equal to the Father and is equally God. 
Since, then, we rejoice that you have joined the right and 
Catholic faith in our presence, to the great exultation of the 
people of God, why are we still sad at your slothfulness 
toward your household? We beg you by the mercy of Christ 
and by His help to remove this grief from our hearts. We 
cannot believe that your influence has so much weight in 
supporting the obstinacy of your dependents and none at all 
in inducing their conversion. Or do they perhaps despise you 
because you have become a member of the Catholic Church 
at your age, when they ought rather admire and respect you 
because you overcame a very old error when your youth was 
growing old? God forbid that they who agreed with you in 
your departure from truth should now resist you when you 

11 Phil. 2.7. 

12 Heb. 2.9. 

13 Luke 2.51. 

14 John 14.28. 

15 John 10.30. 



68 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

speak the truth; God forbid that they who delighted to share 
your error should now refuse to accept your correct views. 
Pray for them, plead with them; nay, bring them with you 
into the house of God, since they are with you in your own 
house. You should feel shame and regret at coming to the 
house of God without those who are accustomed to meet in 
your house, especially as your Catholic Mother asks you to 
give some of them back, she asks them back. She asks for 
those whom she finds with you, but she asks back those whom 
she lost through you. Do not let her suffer in her losses, rather 
let her rejoice in her gains. Let her gain the sons whom she 
does not yet have, not mourn those whom she once had. We 
pray to God that you may do what we urge, and we hope of 
His mercy that our heart may be filled with joy and 'our 
tongue with gladness,' 16 at the letter of our holy brother and 
fellow bishop, Peregrinus, and the speedy answer of your 
Charity on this matter. 



17 7. Alypius and Augustine give greeting in the Lord to the 
most happy lord, their esteemed and very dear 
brother and fellow bishop, Peregrinus (c. 415) 

We sent a letter to our honored brother, Maxirnus, 1 in the 
belief that he would be glad to receive it. Please write back 
at the first opportunity you can find and tell us whether we 
did any good. Let him know that we are in the habit of 
writing long letters to our intimate friends, not only laymen 
but even bishops, in the same form 2 in which we wrote to 

16 Ps. 125.2. 

1 Cf. Letter 170, 

2 The custom of the time required ceremonious letters to be written in 
one's own hand on parchment, where as letters to equals or inferiors 
were dictated and written on paper, as this letter was. Augustine feared 
that Maximus might have taken offense at his lack of formality. 



LETTERS 69 

him. We do this to speed up our correspondence, and besides, 
paper is more comfortable to hold when reading. Perhaps, as 
he is not acquainted with this custom of ours, he might think 
he has been slighted. 



171 A. 1 Augustine to Maxirnus (c. 415) 

You should regulate your life and conduct by the com- 
mandments of God, which we have received to enable us to 
lead a good life, beginning with a religious fear, for 'the 
fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom/ 2 whereby human 
pride is broken down and weakened. Secondly, with a rnild 
and gentle piety you should refrain from objecting to passages 
of the holy Scriptures which you do not yet understand and 
which seem to the uninstructed devoid of sense and self-con- 
tradictory, and you should not try to impose your ideas on the 
meaning of the holy books, but submit and hold your mind 
in check, rather than savagely attack its hidden meaning. 
Thirdly, when your human weakness begins to be revealed to 
you in the course of your self-knowledge, and you learn how 
low a place you occupy, what penal bonds of mortality you 
drag around with you, son of Adam that you are, and how 
far you are from the Lord 3 in your sojourning, and when you 
'see another law in your members fighting against the law of 
your mind and captivating you in the law of sin that is in 
your members,' and you cry out: 'Unhappy man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 5 let the 
'grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord/ 4 who promises you 

1 This fragment on the seven stages of the spiritual life, without title or 
address, was found as a quotation in the Commentaries of Primasius 
on the Apocalypse (Primasius 1.2,5; PL 48.828.20) . 

2 Ps. 110.10; Prov. 1.7. 

3 2 Cor. 5.6. 

4 Rom. 7.23-25. 



70 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that deliverance, be your comfort in your grief. In the fourth 
place, desire to fulfill justice much more eagerly and ardently 
than carnal pleasures are usually desired by evil men, with this 
difference, that in such desire the ardor is peaceful and the 
flame safer because it rests on the hope of divine help. In 
that fourth stage of life there is constant application to prayer, 
that the fullness of justice may be granted to those who 
hunger and thirst for it. 5 In that stage it is not burdensome, it 
is rather a delight, to refrain from every pleasure of corrup- 
tion, whether one's own or another's, either by struggling 
against it or by actively opposing it. That this heavenly help 
may be more readily granted, a fifth stage is added, setting 
forth the counsel of mercy, that, as far as you are able, you 
succor the needy, desiring to be helped by the Almighty in 
what you are not able to do. The practice of mercy is twofold : 
when vengeance is sacrificed and when compassion is shown. 
The Lord included both of these in His brief sentence: 
'Forgive and you shall be forgiven, give and it shall be given 
to you. 36 This work has the effect of purifying the heart, so 
that, even under the limitations of this life, we are enabled 
with pure mind to see the immutable substance of God. 
For there is something holding us back, which has to be loosed 
so that our sight may break through to the light. In connection 
with this the Lord said: 'Give alms and behold all things are 
clean to you.' 7 Therefore, the next and sixth step is that 
cleansing of the heart. 

But, in order that an upright and pure gaze may be turned 
to the true light, none of the good and praiseworthy deeds 
which we do, none of the truths which we keenly and pro- 
foundly discern, is to have the intention of pleasing men or 
satisfying the needs of the body. God wishes to be worshiped 

5 Matt. 5,6. 

6 Luke 6.37,38. 

7 Luke 11.41. 



LETTERS 



71 



for Himself alone, for nothing outside Himself should be a 
motive for seeking Him. When by the stages of a good life 
we have come to that purity of mind, whether slowly or 
speedily, then let us dare to say that we are able to make 
some contact of mind with the unity of the supreme and 
ineffable Trinity, where there will be the deepest peace, 
because there is nothing more to hope for, when men become 
sons of God, remade according to the likeness of His nature, 
enjoying the immutability of their Father. For the first stage 
is: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,' when they fear God; the 
second: 'Blessed are the meek,' when there is a docile piety; 
the third: 'Blessed are they that mourn/ when they know 
their own weakness; the fourth: 'Blessed are they that hunger 
and thirst after justice,' when strong effort keeps their pas- 
sions under control; the fifth: 'Blessed are the merciful, for 
God will have mercy on them,' which is the counsel of helping 
that you may deserve to be helped. Then we come to the 
sixth stage, in which it is said: 'Blessed are the clean of heart 
for they shall see God,' 8 in which the mind cannot be kept 
pure and fit to understand the Trinity, in however slight a 
degree, unless we give up the craving for human praise even 
when we perform praiseworthy deeds. Thereafter, we come, 
by the seventh stage, to the tranquility of that peace which the 
world cannot give. This is brought about by those four virtues 
which the philosophers of old were able to strive for with 
commendable industry: namely, prudence, fortitude, tem- 
perance and justice ; and if we add to them these three, faith, 
hope and charity, needed for the perfect practice of religion, 
we attain at once the number seven. With reason do we take 
care not to neglect these, without which we know that it is 
impossible for anyone to worship God or to please Him. 

8 Matt. 5.3-8; Luke 6.20,21; Isa. 11.2,3. 

9 Matt. 5.9; John 14.27. 



72 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

172. Jerome gives greeting in the Lord to Augustine, truly 
holy lord and pope revered by me with all 
affection (c. 416) 

At your bidding and because of his own worth, I have 
welcomed the priest Orosius 1 as my honored brother and the 
son of your Worthiness. But I have been going through a 
difficult time when it has been better for me to keep silent 
than to speak; consequently, my studies have fallen off and, 
like Appius, 2 my speech has been a snarl. So I have not been 
able to seize this occasion to answer the two books 3 which you 
dedicated to my name, learned books and brilliant, with the 
full splendor of eloquence; not that I think there is anything 
to criticize in them, but according to the blessed Apostle: 
'Let every man abound in his own sense, one after this 
manner, another after that.' 4 Certainly, you have set forth and 
discussed with your profound mind all that can be said, 
drawing from the fount of sacred Scripture. But I ask your 
Reverence to leave me for a while to the praise of your 
genius. You and I carry on discussion with the intention of 
learning, but the envious and, especially, the heretics, if they 
see us holding different opinions, will conclude falsely that 
this comes from ill feeling between us. It is my fixed deter- 
mination to love you, support you, cherish you, marvel at 
you, and defend your opinions as my own. Certainly, in the 
dialogue 5 which I published recently I made mention of 
your Blessedness, as was fitting; let us, then, make a greater 
effort to uproot this most baneful heresy from the Churches, a 
heresy which is always pretending to repent so as to have 

1 This letter was probably brought back by him in the spring of 416. 

2 Cf. Sail ust, Fragmenta Historiae 2.37 (ed. Dietsch) . 

3 Letters 166 and 167. 

4 Rom. 14.5; 1 Cor. 7,7. 

5 Libri adversus Pelagianos 3.19 (PL 23.588-590) . 



LETTERS 73 

the chance of teaching in the Churches, because, if it came 
out into the full light of day, it would be driven out and 
would die. 

Your holy and venerable daughters, Eustochium and 
Paula, 6 are progressing in a manner worthy of their own 
rank and your encouragment, and they send special greetings 
to your Blessedness, as do all the brotherhood who strive 
with us to serve the Lord our Saviour. Last year we sent the 
holy priest Firmus to Ravenna on business connected with 
them, and afterward to Sicily and Africa. We think he is now 
delaying in some part of Africa. I pray you, give my greetings 
to the saints who belong to your household. I have addressed 
a letter to the holy priest Firmus; if it reaches you, be so 
kind as to direct it to him. May Christ keep you safe and 
mindful of me, truly holy lord and blessed pope. 

We suffer in this province from a great scarcity of copyists 
of the Latin tongue, and therefore we cannot fulfill your 
behests, especially in regard to the edition of the Septuagint 
which is marked with asterisks and obelisks; 7 besides, we 
have lost a large part of our earlier work through someone's 
dishonesty. 



173. Augustine, Bishop of the Catholic Church, to Donatus? 
priest of the Donatist sect (c. 416) 

If you could see the grief of my heart and my anxiety for 
your salvation, perhaps you would 'take pity on your own 
soul, pleasing God' 2 by listening to the word that is His, not 

6 Two of the noble Roman ladies who followed Jerome to Bethlehem 
and there led a religious life. Paula was the mother of Eustochium. 

7 Cf. Letter 71. 

1 Donatist priest of Mutugenna in the diocese of Hippo. Brought 
forcibly into a church, he attempted to commit suicide. 

2 Eccli. 30.24. 



74r SAINT AUGUSTINE 

ours, and by not shutting your heart to the Scriptures which 
you have committed to memory. You are angered because 
you are brought by force to salvation, while yours have 
dragged so many of ours to destruction. We have no other 
wish for you than that you should be caught, brought in, and 
saved from perishing. The inconsiderable bodily injury which 
you suffered was self-inflicted, through your refusal to use 
the horse that was immediately brought to you, and your 
having fallen heavily to the ground, for it is a fact that the 
other, who was brought in with you as your companion, 
came unharmed because he did not act that way. 

But you think that this should not have happened to you 
because you believe that no one should be forced to do good. 
See what the Apostle said; c lf a man desire the office of a 
bishop, he desireth a good work/ 3 yet how many are forced 
against their will to undertake the episcopacy; they are 
dragged in, they are imprisoned, they are kept under guard; 
they suffer all this unwillingly until there arises in them a 
will to undertake this good work. With much greater reason 
should you be dragged away from the baneful error in which 
you are your own enemies, and led to the knowledge and 
embrace of truth, not only that you may receive honor in 
safety but that you may not come to an evil end. You say 
that God gave man free will and therefore he should not be 
forced ever to do good. Why, then, are those of whom I 
have just spoken forced to do good? Note well a point you 
do not want to consider. The good will is subject to merciful 
compulsion in order that the bad will of man may receive right 
guidance. Surely, everyone knows that no man is damned 
unless he deserves it by his evil will, and no one is saved 
unless he has a good will. Therefore, those we love are not 
to be cruelly abandoned without restriction to their own evil 

3 1 Tim. 3.1. 



LETTERS 75 

will, but, when possible, they are to be restrained from doing 
evil and forced to do good. 

If an evil will is always to be left to its own freedom, why 
were the rebellious and querulous Israelites restrained from 
evil by such harsh scourges and compelled to enter the land 
of promise? 4 If the evil will is always to be left to its own 
freedom, why was Paul not allowed the use of his altogether 
perverted will to persecute the Church? Why was he thrown 
prostrate in order to be blinded, and blinded in order to be 
transformed, and transformed in order to become an apostle, 
and made an apostle in order to endure for the truth the 
same sufferings he had inflicted while in error? 5 If the evil 
will is always to be left to its own freedom, why is the father 
admonished in the holy Scriptures not only to correct his 
headstrong son with rebukes, but also to beat his sides in 
order that he may be brought under good discipline, tamed 
and directed into the right way? 6 And in the same sense it 
says: 'But thou shalt beat him with the rod and deliver his 
soul from hell.' 7 If the evil will is always to be left to its 
own freedom, why are careless shepherds rebuked, and 
why is it said to them: 'The wandering sheep you have not 
called back, that which was lost you have not sought'? 8 You, 
too, are the sheep of Christ, you bear the Lord's mark which 
you have received in His sacrament, but you have gone astray 
and become lost. It should not cause you displeasure that we 
call back the strays and seek the lost; it is better for us to do 
the will of the Lord when He urges us to force you to return 
to His sheepfold than to yield to the will of the straying 
sheep, and allow them to be lost. Do not then say what I hear 
you constantly saying : 'But I want to go astray, I want to be 

4 Exod. 15.22-27. 

5 Acts 9.1-9. 

6 Eccli. 30.12. 

7 Cf. Prov. 23.14. 



76 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

lost that way,' it is better for us not to allow you to do this 
at all, as far as in us lies. 

When, recently, you jumped into a well in order to die 
there, you certainly did this of your own free will, but how 
cruel the servants of God would have been had they aban- 
doned you to your evil will and had not delivered you from 
that death ! Yet you threw yourself into the water deliberately 
in order to die there, and they pulled you out of the water 
against your will so that you might not die there; you acted 
according to your own evil will to your own destruction; they 
acted against your will to save you* If, then, that bodily 
welfare is to be so safeguarded that it is preserved even in 
those who do not want it by those who love them, how much 
more is that spiritual welfare to be preserved since by its 
loss eternal death is feared ! Yet, you would have remained in 
that death which you wanted to inflict on yourself, not for 
time but for eternity, because even if you were being forced 
to some evil deed instead of to salvation, to the peace of the 
Church, to the unity of the body of Christ, to holy and 
indivisible charity, you had no right to try to kill yourself. 

Examine the divine Scriptures and scrutinize them as 
closely as you can, and see whether this was ever done by 
any of the good and faithful souls, even though they suffered 
great trials at the hands of those who were trying to drive 
them to eternal destruction, not to eternal life, to which you 
are being forced. I have heard that you said the Apostle 
Paul meant that this was lawful when he said: 'If I should 
deliver my body to be burned.' 9 Probably because he was 
listing all kinds of good things which are worth nothing 
without charity, such as tongues of men and angels, and all 
mysteries, and all knowledge, and all prophecy, and all faith 
so as to move mountains, and distribution of his goods to 

8 Cf. Ezech. 34.4. 

9 1 Cor. 13.3. 



LETTERS 77 

the poor, 10 you thought he included among good things the 
taking of one's own life. But notice carefully and understand 
in what sense Scripture says that anyone should deliver his 
body to be burned: not, certainly, that he should jump into 
the fire when harassed by a pursuing enemy, but that, when 
a choice is offered him of either doing wrong or suffering 
wrong, he chooses not to do wrong rather than not to suffer 
wrong. In this case he delivers his body into the power of the 
slayer, as those three men did who were being forced to 
adore the golden statue, and who were threatened by the one 
who was forcing them with the furnace of burning fire if 
they did not do it. 11 They refused to adore the idol, but they 
did not cast themselves into the fire, yet it is written of them : 
'They delivered up their bodies that they might not serve nor 
adore any god but their own God.' 12 This is what the Apostle 
means by 'If I deliver my body to be burned.' 

But notice what follows : c lf I have not charity it profiteth 
me nothing.' 13 You are called to that charity; you will not 
be allowed to perish away from that charity, and you think 
it profits you something if you hurl yourself to destruction, 
whereas it would profit you nothing if another put you to 
death as an enemy of charity. Even if you were burned alive 
for the name of Christ, you would suffer the punishment of 
eternal torment if you persisted in remaining outside the 
Church, separated from the edifice of unity and the bond of 
charity. This is the sense in which the Apostle said: 'And if 

I should deliver my body to be burned and have not charity 
it profiteth me nothing.' Bring your mind back to sane 
conclusions and serious thoughts, examine carefully whether 
you are being summoned to error and impiety; be willing to 

10 1 Cor. 13.1-3. 

II Dan. 3.13-21. 

12 Dan. 3.95. 

13 1 Cor. 13.3. 



78 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

suffer some inconvenience for the truth. If, instead, you are 
living in error and impiety, and truth and piety are on the 
side to which you are called, because Christian unity and the 
grace of the Holy Spirit are there, why do you still try to be 
an enemy to yourself? 

For this reason the mercy of God provided your bishops and 
us with an opportunity of meeting at Carthage in such a 
well-attended, even crowded, conference, and of carrying on 
a discussion in a really orderly manner about this dissension 
of ours. The record of it has been written up; our signatures 
are in evidence. Read it or have it read to you, and then 
choose which side you prefer. I have heard that you said you 
could deal with us on the basis of that record if we would 
suppress the words of your bishops where they said: 'One 
case does not bring guilt on another nor one person on 
another.' 14 You want us to suppress those words in which 
truth itself spoke through them without their knowledge. You 
will say that on this point they were wrong, and that they 
stumbled into a false position through inadvertence, but we 
say that here they spoke truly, and we prove this with the 
greatest of ease from your own case. For, if you do not allow 
that your bishops, chosen from the entire Donatist sect to 
represent the whole group, with the understanding that 
whatever action they took would be ratified and accepted by 
the rest should prejudice your case by what you judge to have 
been rashly and incorrectly spoken, by this very fact the 
truth of their statement stands out that c one case does not 
prejudice another nor one person another.' And here you 
ought to recognize that if you do not wish the person of so 
many of your bishops, represented by those seven, 15 to bring 
blame on the person of Donatus, priest of Mutugenna, how 

14 Cf. Letter 141. 

15 At the Conference of Carthage in 411, seven bishops were chosen to 
speak for each side. 



LETTERS 79 

much less should the person of Caecilian, 16 even if some defect 
had been found in him, bring blame on the whole unity of 
Christ, which is not confined to the single hamlet of Mutu- 
genna, but is spread throughout the entire world ! 

But see, we do what you wanted. We deal with you as if 
your bishops had not said: 'One case does not prejudice 
another nor one person another/ It is your turn to find out 
what they ought to have said in answer to the objection of the 
case and person of Primian, 17 who at first joined the others 
in condeming his accusers and then received the condemned 
and accursed back to their former dignity. The baptism, too, 
which 'dead men' had given for it was then that the famous 
statement was made that 'the shores are full of dead men' 18 
was recognized and accepted by him instead of being scorned 
and repudiated. Thus he cut the ground from under the 
wrong interpretation your people are wont to give to the 
words: 'He that washeth himself after touching the dead, 
what doth his washing avail? 519 Thus, if they had not said: 
'One case does not prejudice another nor one person another/ 
they would share in the guilt of Primian's case, but as they 
have said it they have freed the Church of any implication 
in the case of Caecilian, as we have always maintained. 

But read the rest of the record, examine the rest of it. 
See whether they have succeeded in proving any wrong-doing 
against Caecilian himself, from whose person they tried to 
bring blame on the Church. See whether, instead, they have 
not done much for him, whether they have not altogether 
strengthened and supported his case by the many extracts 

16 His contested consecration was the starting point of the Donatist 
schism; cf. Letter 43 n. 5. 

17 Cf. Letter 43 n. 52. 

18 Cf. Exod. 14.31, The Donatists called the Christians 'dead men' because 
to them Catholics were deprived of Christian life. In Contra 
Gaudentium 1.54 (PL 43.740) Augustine gives this sentence in full. 

19 Eccli. 34.30. The Donatists used this text to prove their case for re- 



80 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

which they offered and read, to their own detriment. Read 
them or have them read to you. Consider them all, examine 
them carefully, and choose which side you will follow: 
Whether you will rejoice with us in the peace of Christ, in 
the unity of the Catholic Church, in the love of brothers, or 
whether you will side with wicked dissension in support of 
the Donatist sect with its accursed separation, and even so 
endure yet longer the importunity of our love for you. 

I hear that you often repeat and call attention to the 
passage in the Gospel where it is written that the seventy 
disciples went back from the Lord, and were left to their own 
choice in their evil and impious separation; and to the 
twelve who stayed with Him He said: 'Will you also go 
away? 520 You fail to notice that the Church then was just 
beginning to put out young shoots and that as yet there was 
no fulfillment of that prophecy: 'And all the kings of the 
earth shall adore him; all nations shall serve him. 521 Surely, 
the more complete the fulfillment, the greater the authority 
exercised by the Church, not only to invite but to compel 
men to goodness. This is what the Lord wished to convey by 
that incident, for, in spite of possessing full power, He chose, 
instead, to commend humility. He showed this quite clearly 
in the parable of the wedding feast, in which, after the 
invited guests had been notified and had refused to come, 
the servant was told: 'Go out into the streets and lanes of 
the city and bring in hither the poor and the feeble and the 
blind and the lame. And the servant said to his lord: It is 
done as thou hast commanded and yet there is room. And 
the lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and 
hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be 
filled.' 22 Notice how of the first to come it says: 'Bring them 

20 John 6.67,68. The Gospel does not say 'the seventy/ but 'many' went 
away. 

21 Ps. 71.11. 

22 Luke 14.21-23. 



LETTERS 81 

in' it does not say 'compel' thus indicating the beginnings 
of the Church while it was still growing to the point where it 
might have the strength to compel Accordingly, since it was 
fitting that when the Church had been strengthened with His 
strength and greatness, men should be compelled to come in 
to the feast, the words were afterward added: 'It is done as 
thou hast commanded and yet there is room,' and he said: 
*Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to 
come in.' Therefore, if you had been walking peacefully out- 
side this banquet of the unity of holy Church, we should 
have found you as if in the highways, but now, because of 
the many evil cruelties which you have perpetrated against 
our people, we find you, as it were, in the hedges, as if you 
were full of sharp thorns, and we compel you to come in. 
He who is compelled is forced to go where he does not wish 
to go, but when he has entered he shares willingly in the 
banquet. Therefore, you must restrain that wicked and 
rebellious mind of yours so that, in the true Church of Christ, 
you may find the life-giving banquet. 



173 A. 1 Augustine to the beloved lords, his holy brothers, and 
fellow priests and deacons, Deogratias 2 and Theo- 
dore,* and their companion-brother, Titianus 
(c. 416) 

Although you have not written to me, I have learned from 
a trustworthy and faithful messenger that you wish me to 
write you, without any of that uncertainty and obscurity 
which is incomprehensible to slower minds, how the Holy 
Spirit is proved to be God. But your Brotherhood must 



1 This letter, not in Migne, was published by Goldbacher from a single 
copy. 

2 Cf. Letter 102. 

3 Cf. Letters 61 and 107. 



82 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

realize that of all the passages from holy Scripture which I 

can recall on this point, I do not know any that will convince 

you by the authority of revealed writings that the Holy Spirit 

is God, since you are not convinced by what the Apostle says : 

'Know you not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy 

Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are 

not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify 

and bear God in your body.' 4 However, by reasoning, such 

as can be used by man or by such a man as we are, the 

proof of this doctrine is worked out by an intricate process. 

Whoever yields assent to the supreme authority of divine 

Scripture should first examine these words: The Lord thy 

God shalt thou adore and him only shalt thou serve.' 5 In 

Greek, the expression used does not signify the service owed 

to human masters, but that which is offered to God, called 

latreia. Thus, idolatry is rightly condemned because the latreia 

which is due to the true God alone is offered to idols. It does 

not say: Thou shalt adore only the Lord thy God/ but it 

says: 'And him only shalt thou serve/ It uses the word 'only* 

with 'thou shalt serve', meaning, no doubt, that service which 

is called latreia. To this service belong temple, sacrifice, priest 

and other like attributes. Consequently, the Apostle would 

certainly not say that our body is the temple of the Holy 

Spirit if that service, called latreia, were not His due. But 

such service would not be His due if He were not God to 

whom it is due, especially as the Apostle says that our bodies 

are the members of Christ, 6 and those who deny that the 

Holy Spirit is God or who claim that Christ is greater than 

the Holy Spirit 7 do not deny that Christ is God. How, then, 

4 1 Cor. 6.19,20. 

5 Deut. 6.13; Matt. 4.10. 

6 1 Cor. 6.15; 12.27. 

7 A group of semi-Arians or Pneumatomachians under Macedonius were 
condemned for this error at Constantinople in 381. 



LETTERS 83 

could the members of the greater be the temple of the lesser? 
This argument proves incontestably not only that the Holy 
Spirit is God, because a temple cannot be rightly and 
religiously dedicated to anyone but God, but it also shows 
that He is necessarily one God with the Father and the Son, 
because the Trinity is one God, Since the dedication of a 
temple is part of that service which is called latreia, and since 
it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and him 
only shalt thou serve,' that is, offer Him latreia, it follows that 
as latreia is rightly offered to God, and latreia is offered to him 
to whom a temple is offered, then there is only one God to 
whom latreia is due, and that one God is, beyond doubt, the 
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And this is what is 
meant by: 'Glorify God in your body,' of which it says: 
'Your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in 
you, whom you have from God. 5 

I have chosen to dictate this in great haste rather than use 
some pretext to prolong the desire of your Charity. If you 
think it is inconclusive, keep yourselves in readiness to read 
the books on the Trinity 8 which I am now preparing to 
publish in the name of the Lord; perhaps they may convince 
you where this brief letter cannot. 



174. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to Pope Aurelius, 1 

most blessed lord, holy brother and fellow priest, 

revered with most sincere affection (c. 416) 

In my youth I began a work on the Trinity, 2 the supreme 



8 De Trinitate, begun in 398, probably finished in 418-419, 

1 Archbishop of Carthage, primate of all Africa. Bishops generally were 
called pope until the ninth century. 

2 A thirteenth book was added later to the original twelve. 



84 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

and true God; I have finished it in my old age. Indeed, I 
had laid the work aside after discovering that it had been 
carried off prematurely or purloined from me, before I had 
finished it or revised and corrected it as I had planned. I 
had intended to publish it as a whole, not in separate books, 
for the reason that the subsequent books are linked to the 
preceding ones by a continuous development of the argument. 
Since my intention could not be carried out because of the 
persons who had secured access to the books before I wished 
It, I left off my interrupted dictation, thinking to make a 
complaint of this in some of my other writings, so that those 
who could might know that the said books had not been 
published by me but filched from me before I deemed them 
worthy of publication under my name. Now, however, under 
the insistent demands of many brethren and the compulsion 
of your bidding, I have devoted myself, with the Lord's help, 
to the laborious task of finishing them. They are not cor- 
rected as I should wish, but as best I could, so that the whole 
work might not differ too much from the parts which have 
for some time been circulating surreptitiously. I send it now 
to your Reverence by my son and very dear fellow deacon, 
and I give my permission for it to be read, heard, and 
copied by any who wish. If I had been able to carry out my 
original plan, it would have been much smoother and clearer, 
though the statements would have been the same; always, of 
course, as far as my ability and the difficulty of explaining 
such matters would allow. There are some persons who have 
the first four or, rather, five books without the introductions, 
and the twelfth without most of the last part. If they come 
to know of this edition they will make the corrections, pro- 
vided they have the good will and the ability. I ask earnestly 
that you order this letter to be used as a preface, separated 
from but at the head of those same books. Pray for me. 



LETTERS 85 

175. We who were present at the Council of Carthage send 
greetings to the most blessed Lord, our honored 
and saintly brother, Pope Innocent: 1 to wit: 2 
Aurelius, Numidius, Rusticanus, Fidentius, Eva- 
grius, Antoninus, Palatinus, Adeodatus, Vincent, 
Publian, Theasius, Tutus, Pannonius, Victor, 
Restitutus, [another] Restitutus, Rusticus, Fortu- 
natian, Ampelius, Avivius, Felix, Donatian, 
Adeodatus, Octavius, Serotinus, Maiorinus, 
Postumian, Crispulus, Victor, [another] Victor, 
Leucius, Marianus, Fructuosus, Faustinian, 
Quodvultdeus, Candorius, Maximus, Megarius, 
Rusticus, Rufinian, Proculus, Thomas, Januarius, 
Octavian, Praetextatus, Sixtus, [another] Quod- 
vultdeus, Pentadius, [still another] Quodvultdeus, 
Cyprian, Servilius, Pelagius, Marcellus, Venan- 
tius, Didymus, Saturnian, Bazacenus, Germanus, 
Germanian, Juventius, Candidus, [another] 
Cyprian, Aemilian, Romanus, Africanus, and 
Marcellinus (c. 416) 

After we had gathered in solemn conclave in the church at 
Carthage, according to our custom, and were holding a synod 
on various subjects, our fellow priest Orosius 3 brought us a 
letter from our holy brothers and fellow priests, Heros and 
Lazarus, 4 the substance of which we have decided to append 
to this. After reading it, we make known that Pelagius and 

1 Pope Innocent I. 

2 These sixty-eight were all African bishops. Although Augustine is not 
named in the list, this report is attributed to him. 

3 Cf. Letter 166 n. 3. 

4 Bishops of Aries and of Aix, respectively. These Gallic bishops were 
driven from their sees and went to Palestine, where they had given to 
Eulogius, primate of Caesarea, a treatise against Pelagius and Caeles- 
tius. 



86 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Caelestius 5 are the originators of an accursed error, which is 
a subject of anathema to all of us. As a consequence, we 
asked for a review of the disturbance raised under the name 
of Caelestius here in the church at Carthage about five years 
ago. When the report had been read, as your Holiness will 
be able to note from the documents appended, although 
there was clearly an undisputed verdict by the bishop's 
court at that time, by which this great sore seemed to have 
been cut out from the Church, we have decreed, after general 
deliberation, that the authors of opinions of this kind, even 
though the said Caelestius attained to the priesthood after- 
ward, should be subject to anathema unless they have pre- 
viously and openly anathematized these teachings. Thus, if 
their own recovery cannot be brought about, at least those 
who have been or can be deceived by them might be cured 
by the publication of this sentence against them. 

Consequently, Lord and Brother, we have thought it best 
to transmit this report to your holy Charity, that the authority 
of the Apostolic See may be added to the decisions of our 
insignificance, in order to safeguard the welfare of many 
and to correct the perversity of some. In their detestable 
disputations these latter argue for freedom of will, or, rather, 
they elevate it to proud and sacrilegious heights, leaving no 
scope for the grace of God, which makes us Christians, which, 
in fact, makes the action of our will truly free, by delivering 
us from subjection to our carnal passions, according to the 
Lord's words: If the son shall make you free, you shall be 
free indeed 5 ; 6 and this is the help which faith asks and obtains 
in Christ Jesus our Lord. They affirm, as we have learned 
from brethren who have gone so far as to read their books, 
that the grace of God is to be reduced to the extent that 

5 Cf. Letter 157 n. 71. 

6 1 John 8.36. 



LETTERS 8/ 

He is supposed to have made and created the nature of man 
such that he is able by his own will to fulfill the law oi 
God, whether written by nature in his heart, or given to 
him in books, but that this law also belongs to grace because 
God has given it to men as a help. 7 

But they refuse either to acknowledge fully or to oppose 
openly that grace by which, as it is written, we are Christians; 
which the Apostle preaches in the words: C I am delighted with 
the law of God according to the inward man, but I see 
another law in my members fighting against the law of my 
mind and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my mem- 
bers. Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the 
body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our 
Lord/ 8 But this is what they do when they constantly try to 
convince sensual men who 'perceive not the things that are 
of the spirit of God,' 9 that human nature alone can suffice 
to perform good works perfectly and to fulfill the command- 
ments of God. They pay no attention to what is written: 
The Spirit helpeth our infirmity/ and It is not of him that 
willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth 
mercy,' and that 'We are one body in Christ, and every 
one members one of another, having different gifts according 
to the grace that is given us,' 10 and 'By the grace of God I 
am what I am and his grace in me hath not been void; but 

I have labored more abundantly than all they, yet not I 
but the grace of God with me/ and Thanks be to God who 
hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 511 
and 'Not that we are sufficient to think anything as of our- 

7 Isa. 8.20 (Septuagint) . 

8 Rom. 7.22-25. 

9 1 Cor. 2.14. 

10 Rom. 8.26; 9.16; 12.5.6. 

II 1 Cor. 15.10,57, 



88 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

selves, but our sufficiency is from God/ and 'We have this 
treasure in earthen vessels; that the excellency may be of 
the power of God and not of us/ 12 and other pasages so 
innumerable that a volume could not contain them if we 
were to try to cull them from all the Scriptures. We fear 
we may seem to have been forward in citing these passages 
to you, which you have greater reason to preach from the 
Apostolic See; but we do it because we suffer frequently 
from those who are bold enough to rise up against us, in 
proportion to our feebleness, however much any of us may 
be considered more adept in preaching the word of God. 
If your Reverence has believed that Pelagius was justly 
acquitted of heresy by the action of the bishops which was 
accomplished in the East, 13 it still remains urgent that his 
false doctrine, which now has many supporters scattered in 
various places, ought to be anathematized by the authority 
of the Apostolic See. Let your Holiness have compassion on 
us in your pastoral heart, and consider what a baneful and 
deadly thing it is for the sheep of Christ that a necessary 
consequence of their sacrilegious argument is that we ought 
not to pray lest we enter into temptation, as the Lord warned 
His disciples, 14 and set forth in the prayer which He taught, 15 
or lest our faith fail as He testified that He had prayed for 
the Apostle Peter. 16 For, if these things are placed in our 
power through the capability of nature and the freedom of 
the will, anyone can see that it is useless to ask them of the 
Lord, and deceitful to pray, when we ask in prayer for what 
our nature so constituted possesses by its adequate strength. 

12 2 Cor. 3.5; 4.7. 

13 He had been acquitted by two assemblies of bishops in 415, one at 
Jerusalem, one at Diospolis. This acquittal had been conditonal on a 
denial of the errors condemned at Cathage in 411. 

14 Matt. 26.41; Mark 14.38; Luke 22.46. 

15 Matt. 6.13; Luke 11.4. 

16 Luke 22.32. 



LETTERS 89 

In that case, the Lord Jesus ought not to have said: 'Watch 
and pray/ but only 'Watch, lest ye enter into temptation/ 
nor should He have said to the blessed chief of the Apostles: 
'I have prayed for thee/ but fi l warn thee, or command thee, 
or enjoin on thee that thy faith fail not.' 

That claim of theirs is opposed to our acts of blessing, and 
makes us seem to speak idle words over the people when we 
ask anything of the Lord for them, as, that they may please 
Him by living righteously and piously, or those graces which 
the Apostle asked in prayer for the faithful, saying: fi l bow 
my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all 
paternity in heaven and earth is named; that he would grant 
you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened 
by his Spirit with might/ 17 If, then, we wished to bless the 
people by saying: 'Grant them, O Lord, to be strengthened 
by thy Spirit with might/ the teaching of these heretics will 
gainsay us by claiming that our free will is denied by asking 
from God what is in our own power; if we wish to be strength- 
ened with might, they say, we can do it by that capacity of our 
nature which we do not receive now, but did receive when 
we were created. 

They also say that little children do not have to be baptized 
to secure salvation, and thus, by this deadly doctrine, they 
bring eternal death upon them by promising that even though 
not baptized they will have everlasting life, because they do 
not belong to those of whom the Lord said : 'For the Son of 
man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 518 They 
say that infants had not been lost, that there was nothing in 
them requiring salvation or redemption at such a price, 
because there was nothing depraved in them, nothing that 
held them captive under the power of the Devil, and that 

17 Eph. 3.14-16. 

18 Luke 19UO; Matt. 18.11. 



90 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

what we read about blood shed for the remission of sins 19 
does not apply to them. It is true that Caelestius admitted in 
the church at Carthage that according to his book the re- 
demption of children, also, was accomplished by the baptism 
of Christ, but many of those who appear to be or to have been 
his disciples do not cease to proclaim these wicked theories, 
striving thereby, to the utmost of their power, to overturn the 
foundations of the Christian faith. Hence, even if Pelagius and 
Caelestius have been converted, or say that they never held 
those views, and that none of the writings produced against 
them is theirs, and there is no reason to convict them of lying, 
nevertheless, speaking generally, if anyone holds as dogma and 
asserts that human nature is able to get the better of its own 
sins and carry out the commandments of God, and is thereby 
discovered to be an enemy of the grace of God which is so 
clearly proclaimed in the utterances of the saints, and if 
anyone affirms that little children are not delivered from 
perdition by the baptism of Christ, thereby receiving eternal 
salvation, let him be anathema. Whatever other charges are 
brought against them, your Reverence will, no doubt, pass 
this judgment, after you have examined the report of the 
action taken by the bishops in the same case in the East. We 
shall then all rejoice in the mercy of God. Pray for us, blessed 
lord and pope. 

19 Matt. 26.28. 



LETTERS 91 

776. To the most holy Pope Innocent, deservedly revered and 
honored in Christ we, the following, 1 send greet- 
ings in the Lord from the Council of Milevis, to 
wit: the venerable Silvanus, Valentine, Aurelius, 
Donatus, Restitutus, Lucian, Alypius, Augustine, 
Placentius, Severus, Fortunatus, Possidius, No- 
vatus, Secundus, Maurentius, Leo, Faustinian, 
Cresconius, Melchus, Litorius, Fortunatus, Do- 
natus, Pontician, Saturninus, Cresconius, Hono- 
rius, Cresconius, Lucius, Adeodatus, Processus, 
Secundus, Felix, Asiaticus, Rufinus, Faustinus, 
Servus, Terence, Cresconius, Sperantius, Quadra- 
tus, Ludllus, Sabinus, Faustinus, Cresconius, 
Victor, Gigantius, Possidonms, Antoninus, Inno- 
cent, Felix, Antoninus, Victor, Honoratus, 
Donatus, Peter, Praesidius, Cresconius, Lam- 
padius, Delphinus (c. 416) 

Whereas, by a particular gift of His grace the Lord has 
placed you in the Apostolic See and has given to our times 
a man like you to reign over us, it would be more possible 
for us to be charged with the guilt of negligence if we 
failed to report to your Reverence matters which need to be 
made known for the benefit of the Church than for you to 
receive such suggestions coldly or negligently, we therefore 
beg you to deign to apply your pastoral care to the great 
perils of the weak members of Christ. 

A new heresy is trying to break out, indeed a most ruinous 
one, through the effort of the enemies of the grace of Christ, 
who seek by their wicked arguments to deprive us even of 
the Lord's Prayer. For, although the Lord taught us to say: 
'Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors/ they 
say that it is possible for man in this life, by a knowledge 

1 The order of bishops appears to be by seniority. 



92 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

of the commandments of God, without the help of the 
Saviour's grace, to attain to such perfection of holiness, by the 
sole force of free will, that it is not even necessary to say: 
'Forgive us our debts.' In that case, the words that follow: 
'Lead us not into temptation/ 2 are not to be taken in the 
sense that we ought to ask for divine help lest we be tempted 
to fall into sin, but that this is in our own power, and the 
will of man alone suffices to fulfill it. If all this were in the 
power of man, it would make a liar of the Apostle when he 
says: It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, 
but of God that showeth mercy/ 3 and 'God is faithful who 
will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are 
able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may 
be able to bear it.' 4 It would also make the Lord a liar when 
He said to the Apostle Peter: 'I have prayed for thee that 
thy faith fail not' 5 and 'Watch and pray lest ye enter into 
temptation.' 6 They claim, also, that little children will possess 
eternal life without the sacramental waters of Christian grace, 
thus, with anything but Christian boldness, making void what 
the Apostle says : 'By one man sin entered into the world, and 
by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all 
have sinned/ 7 and in another passage : 'As in Adam all die, 
so also in Christ all shall be made alive.' 8 

We pass over, then, their many other contentions in which 
they go contrary to the holy Scriptures, and we single out, 
for the present, these two by which they try to undermine 
everything that makes us Christian, everything that is the 
support of faithful hearts, namely, that we are not to ask 
God to be our helper against the evil of sin and in our 



2 Matt. 6.12,13; Luke 11.4. 

3 Rom. 9.16. 

4 1 Cor. 10.13. 

5 Luke 22.32. 

6 Matt. 26.41; Mark 14.38; Luke 22.40. 

7 Rom. 5.12. 

8 1 Cor. 15.22. 



LETTERS 93 

practice of goodness, and that the sacrament of Christian 
grace is not to be conferred on babies to enable them to 
attain eternal life. In making these errors known to your 
apostolic heart, we have no need to say much or to enlarge 
upon this great impiety by our words, since without doubt they 
move you so deeply that you could not possibly neglect to 
correct them, lest they creep in more widely and infect or, 
rather, destroy many souls, turning them in the name of 
Christ away from the grace of Christ. 

Pelagius and Caelestius are named as the originators of this 
destructive error, and we would rather see them cured of it 
in the Church than cut off from the Church through despair 
of saving them, unless some necessity presses. It is reported 
that one of them, Caelestius, even attained to the priesthood 
in Asia, but your Holiness has probably been better informed 
by the Church at Carthage on the action taken in his regard a 
few years ago. Pelagius, however, as we learn from letters sent 
by some of our brethren, is established at Jerusalem and is 
said to lead many astray. But many more, who have been 
able to examine more carefully into the meaning of his 
teaching, are actively opposing him in defense of the grace 
of Christ and the truth of the Catholic faith; in the vanguard 
of these is your holy son, our brother and fellow priest, Jerome. 

Trusting in the merciful help of the Lord our God, which 
deigns to guide you in your plans and hear you in your 
prayers, we think that those who hold these distorted and 
dangerous views will readily submit to the authority of your 
Holiness, which is derived from the authority of the holy 
Scriptures, so that we may congratulate you on their con- 
version rather than grieve over their loss, most holy lord. 
But, no matter what choice they make, your Reverence 
surely sees that immediate and speedy provision must be 
made for the others whom they are able to trap in their 
snares in great numbers if this is not made known to them. 



94 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

We are addressing this written report to your Holiness from 
the Council of Numidia, imitating the Church at Carthage 
and our brother bishops of the Carthaginian province, having 
heard that they have written on this matter to the Apostolic 
See which you so blessedly adorn. 

May you increase in the grace of the Lord and be mindful 
of us, most holy lord, honored and saintly Pope, worthy of 
our veneration in Christ. 9 



177. Aurelius, Alypius, Augustine, Evodius, and Possidius 
give greeting to the most holy lord. Pope Inno- 
cent, their deservedly honored brother (c. 416) 

We have sent your Holiness letters from the two councils 
of the province of Carthage and of Numidia, signed by a 
large number of bishops. These letters condemn the enemies 
of the grace of Christ, who trust in their own virtue and say, 
in effect, to their Creator: 'You have made us men, but we 
have made ourselves good. 5 They say that human nature is 
free, so that they look for no liberator; and safe, so that they 
consider a saviour superfluous; they claim that this nature 
is so strong of its own strength, acquired once and for all at 
the moment of creation, without any helping grace from Him 
who created it, that it can subdue and extinguish all passions 
and overcome all temptations. 'Many are they who rise up 
against us and say to our soul : There is no salvation for him in 
his God. 51 But the family of Christ, which says: 'When I am 
weak, then I am strong, 52 and to which the Lord says: 'I am 
thy salvation, 53 its heart quivering with fear and trembling, 

9 In another handwriting. 

1 Cf. Ps. 3.2,3. 

2 2 Cor. 12.10. 

3 Ps. 34.3. 



LETTERS 95 

awaits the help of the Lord even through the charity of 
your Reverence. 

We hear that there are many in the city of Rome, where 
he lived for a long time, who take his side for various reasons; 
some, indeed, because they are said to have convinced you 
on such points, but many more who do not believe that he 
held such views, especially as great publicity has been given 
to ecclesiastical decisions in the East, where he is staying, by 
which they think he has been cleared. But, if the bishops in 
the East did indeed pronounce him a Catholic, we must 
believe that it was done only because he said that he admitted 
the grace of God and said that man can live a good life by 
his own will and effort, yet not so as to deny the help of 
God's grace. By these words the Catholic bishops could have 
understood no other grace of God except that of which they 
are accustomed to read in the books of God and to preach to 
the people of God, the same, obviously, of which the Apostle 
says: C I cast not away the grace of God, for if justice be by 
the law, then Christ died in vain,' 4 the same grace, beyond 
doubt, by which we are justified from sin and saved from 
weakness, but not that grace in our own will with which we 
were created. For, if those bishops had understood him to 
mean that grace which we possess in common with the 
wicked, with those who share human nature with us, and 
to deny the grace by which we are Christians and sons of 
God, what Catholic prelate could have borne the sight of 
him, much less have listened to him with patience? Therefore, 
the judges are not to be blamed because they heard the 
term grace according to Church usage without knowing what 
meaning such men usually scatter through their books or 
repeat in the hearing of their followers. 

It is not a question of Pelagius alone, because it may be 
that he has been converted and may it be so! but of so 

4 Gal. 2.21. 



96 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

many who argue noisily, dragging down weak and untutored 
souls as their conquest, wearing out those who are strong 
and well grounded in the faith by their very persistence until 
everything is full of them. Therefore, he ought either to be 
summoned to Rome and carefully questioned on the kind 
of grace he admitted, if he did admit it, whether it is the 
grace by which men are helped not to sin and to lead a good 
life, or this matter should be taken up with him by letter. 
And if you find that he says grace is what ecclesiastical and 
apostolic truth teach that it is, then he should be absolved 
by the Church without any scruple, without any lurking 
ambiguity, and that is really the time to rejoice at his being 
cleared. 

For, if he says that grace is free will, or grace is forgiveness 
of sin, or grace is the commandment of the Law, he mentions 
nothing of what belongs to the overcoming of concupiscence 
and temptation, through the help furnished by the Holy 
Spirit, c Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, 55 
'Who ascended into heaven and led captivity captive; he 
gave gifts to men.' 6 Hence we pray that we may be able to 
overcome the temptation to sin, that 'the Spirit of God,' of 
whom we have received the pledge, 'may help our infirmity.' 7 
But when a man says in prayer: 'Lead us not into temptation/ 
he certainly does not pray to be a man, which he is by nature; 
he does not pray to possess free will, which he received when 
his nature itself was created; he does not pray for the for- 
giveness of sin, because in a previous phrase the prayer says: 
'Forgive us our debts,' nor does he pray to receive the com- 
mandment; he manifestly does pray to fulfill the command- 
ment. If he is led into temptation, that is, fails under 
temptation, it is plain that he commits sin, which is against 

5 Titus 3,6. 

6 Eph. 4.8; Ps. 67.19. 

7 Cf. 2 Cor. 1.22; 5.5; Rom. 8.26. 



LETTERS 97 

the commandment. He prays, therefore, not to commit sin, 
that is, not to do any evil; that is what the Apostle asks in 
prayer for the Corinthians when he says : Now we pray the 
Lord that you may do no evil.' 8 From this it is quite clear 
that, although the freedom of the will is called into play in 
refraining from sin, that is, in doing no evil, its power is not 
efficacious unless there is help for its weakness. Therefore, the 
Lord's prayer itself is the clearest testimony of grace. Let him 
admit this and we will rejoice over him as being either in 
the right or set right. 

There has to be a distinction between the Law and grace. 
The Law knows how to command; grace, how to help. The 
Law would not command if there were no free will, nor 
would grace help if the will were sufficient. We are com- 
manded to have understanding when the Scripture says: 
'Do not become like the horse and the mule that have no 
understanding,' 9 yet we pray to have understanding when it 
says: c Give me understanding that I may learn thy com- 
mandments.' 10 We are commanded to have wisdom when it 
says: 'You fools, be wise at last, 511 but we pray to have 
wisdom when it says: 'If any of you want wisdom, let him 
ask of God who giveth to all men abundantly and up- 
braideth not.' 12 We are commanded to have continence when 
it says: 'Let your loins be girt/ 13 but we pray to have con- 
tinence when it says: c As I knew that no one could be 
continent except God gave it, and this also was a point of 
wisdom to know whose gift it was, I went to the Lord and 
besought him.' 14 Finally, not to be too lengthy in listing all 

8 Cf. 2 Cor. 13.7. 

9 Ps. 31.9. 

10 Cf. Ps. 118.125. 

11 Ps. 93.8. 

12 James 1.5. 

13 Luke 12.35. Goldbacher indicates a lacuna at this point. 

14 Wisd. 831. 



98 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the rest, we are commanded not to do evil when it says: 
'Decline from evil,' 15 but we pray not to do evil when it 
says: 'We pray the Lord that you do no evil. 516 We are 
commanded to do good when it says : 'Decline from evil and 
do good/ 17 but we pray to do good when it says: 'We cease 
not to pray for you, asking, 318 and among other things that 
he asks he mentions: 'That you may walk worthy of God 
in all things pleasing, in every good work and good word.' 18 
As then we acknowledge the part played by the will when 
these commands are given, so let him acknowledge the part 
played by grace when these petitions are offered. 

We are sending your Reverence a book given to us by 
certain religious and honorable young men, servants of God, 
whose names we do not withhold they are called Timasius 
and James 19 and, as we have heard and as you also deign 
to know, gave up the hope which they had in the world on 
the urging of the said Pelagius, and are now serving God in 
continence. When, some time ago, they were at length freed 
from their erroneous opinion through some little service of 
ours, by the Lord's inspiration, they produced the same book, 
saying it was the work of Pelagius, 20 and they earnestly begged 
that it might be answered. This has been done; the answer 
itself has been sent to them as a reply to their letter; they 
have written back thanking us. We are sending you both the 
answer and the request which drew the answer, and, not to 
cause you too much trouble, we have marked out the passages 
which we beg you not to refuse to examine. They show how, 
when the objection had been made to him that he was deny- 
ing the grace of God, he answered in such a way as not to 

15 Ps. 36.27. 

16 2 Cor. 13.7. 

17 Ps. 36.27. 

18 CL Col. 1.9,10. 

19 Cf. Letter 168. 

20 De natura. Augustine's reply was De natura et gratia. 



LETTERS 99 

admit its existence except as the nature with which God 
created us. 

However, if he says that the book is not his, that the 
above-mentioned passages in the book are not his, we do 
not continue the argument; let him solemnly repudiate them 
and openly confess that grace which Christian doctrine proves 
and preaches as the intimate possession of Christians, which 
is not nature, but that by which nature is saved and helped, 
not by teaching resounding in its ears, or by any visible 
assistance, as if it were something planted and watered from 
without, but by the inner action of the Spirit, and His hidden 
mercy, as God 'Who giveth the increase' 21 is wont to act. If, 
by some unobjectionable reasoning, the grace of God is 
identified with the favor of our creation, by which we 
escape from nothingness, by which we are something more 
than a corpse which is not alive, a tree which has no con- 
sciousness, or a sheep which has no understanding, by which 
we become men with being and life and consciousness and 
understanding, able to give thanks for this great benefit to 
our Creator, and if in that sense it might be called grace 
because it is not granted through the merits of any previous 
actions, but by the unsolicited goodness of God, still there is 
another grace by which we are predestined to be called, 
justified, and endowed with glory, which makes us able to 
say: 'If God be for us, who is against us? He that spared not 
even his own Son but delivered him up for all of us.' 22 

This is the grace that was being called into question when 
those whom Pelagius had offended and disturbed told him 
that he was making war on grace by the arguments in which 
he asserted that human nature, through its own free will, was 
sufficiently strong, not only to carry out the divine com- 
mandments but even to fulfill them perfectly. But the teach- 

21 1 Cor. 3.7. 

22 Rom. 8.31,32. 



1 00 SAINT AUGU STINE 

ing of the Apostles gives the name of grace to that gift by 
which we are saved and justified through our faith In Christ, 
and of this it is written: C I cast not away the grace of God, 
for if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain. 523 Of 
this grace it is written: c You are made void of Christ you 
who are justified in the law; you are fallen from grace. 524 Of 
this grace it is written: 'And if by grace it is not now by 
works; otherwise grace is no more grace.' 25 This is the grace 
of which it is written : 'Now to him that worketh, the reward 
is not reckoned according to grace but according to debt. But 
to him that worketh not yet believeth in him that justifieth 
the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice. 526 There are many 
other passages which you can recall for yourself, with your 
prudent understanding and your well-known gift of expres- 
sion. As to that other grace by which we are created as 
human beings, even though we understand that it may 
reasonably be called grace, it would be surprising if we 
found it so used in any of the authentic writings of the 
Prophets, of the Gospel, or of the Apostles. 

Therefore, since the request has been made to him in 
regard to this grace so well known to the Christian and 
Catholic faithful that he cease to attack it, why, when the 
same person acting as objector reproached him with that 
passage in his book, so that he might answer it and clear 
himself, did he answer only that the nature of created man 
shows forth the grace of the Creator? Why did he say that 
this nature, without sin, can fulfill justice by its free will, 
with the help of divine grace which God gave to man as part 
of the endowment of his nature? A proper answer to him 
would be: 'Then is the scandal of the cross made void/ 27 

23 Gal. 2.21. 

24 Gal. 5.4. 

25 Rorn. 11.6. 

26 Rom. 4.4,5. 

27 Gal. 5.1. 



LETTERS 101 

'then Christ died in vain.' 28 For, if He had not died for our 
sins and risen for our justification, 29 if he had not ascended 
on high, taking captivity captive, if he had not given gifts 
to men, 30 then that endowment of nature which he defends 
would not exist in man. 

But, perhaps there was no commandment of God and that 
is why Christ died. On the contrary, there was a command- 
ment and it was e holy and just and good. 331 Long before 
Christ it had been said: Thou shalt not covet'; 32 long before, 
it had been said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' 33 
a phrase which, as the Apostle says, expresses the fulfillment 
of the whole Law. 34 And as no one loves himself unless he 
loves God, the Lord says that the whole Law and the 
Prophets depend on these two commandments. 35 But these 
two commandments had long before been given to man from 
on high. Perhaps the eternal reward of justice had not yet 
been made. Pelagius himself does not say this, for he wrote 
in his letter that the kingdom of heaven had been promised 
in the Old Testament. If then, it was possible for human 
nature, through its free will, to attain to perfect justice, if the 
commandment of God's Law, holy, just, and good, was 
already in existence, if the promise of eternal reward had 
already been made, then Christ died in vain. 

Therefore, justice does not come through the Law, nor 
through the innate power of human nature, but by faith and 
the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one 
Mediator of God and men, 36 and if, in the fullness of time, 37 

28 Gal. 2.21. 

29 Rom. 4.25. 

30 Eph. 4.8; Ps. 67.19. 

31 Rom. 7.12. 

32 Exod. 20.17. 

33 Lev. 19.18. 

34 Rom. 13.8,9. 

35 Matt. 22.37-40. 

36 I Tim. 2.5. 

37 Gal. 4.4. 



1 02 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

He had not died for our sins and risen again for our 
justification, it is clear that the faith of the men of old 
would have been made void and so would ours. But, if 
faith were made void, what justice would remain to man 
since the just man lives by faith? 38 'Wherefore as by one 
man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so 
death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned,' 39 it 
is not to be doubted that no one ever has been or is now 
delivered by his own power from the body of this death, 
where another law fights against the law of the mind, 40 
because that power was lost and is in need of a redeemer, 
it was wounded and is in need of a saviour. What did deliver 
him was the grace of God through faith in the one Mediator 
of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who being God 
made man and continuing to be God, was made man and 
remade what He Himself had made. 

I think Pelagius overlooks the fact that faith in Christ 
which afterwards came to be revealed was hidden in the 
times of our fathers, yet they were redeemed by the grace of 
God, and so are all the members of the human race in all 
times who, by a secret, irrefragable decree of God, are capable 
of being redeemed. Hence, the Apostle says: 'Having the 
same spirit of faith' no doubt the same as they had 'as it 
is written: I believed for which cause I have spoken: we 
also believe for which cause we speak also.' 41 For that 
reason the Mediator himself said: 'Abraham desired to see 
my day, he saw it and was glad'; 42 so, too, Melchisedech, 
offering the sacrament of the Lord's table, knew that he 
prefigured Christ's eternal priesthood. 43 

38 Hab. 2.4; Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38. 

39 Rom. 5.12. 

40 Rom. 7.23,24. 

41 2 Cor. 4.13; Ps. 115.10. 

42 John 8.56. 

43 Gen. 14.18. 



LETTERS 103 

Now that the Law has been given in writing, which the 
Apostle says entered in that sin might abound, 44 and of 
which he said: 'If therefore the inheritance be of the law, 
it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by 
promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of 
transgression, until the seed should come to whom he made 
the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a 
mediator. Now a mediator is not of one, but God is one. 
Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. 
For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily 
justice should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath 
concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of 
Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe,' 45 is it not 
quite clear that what the Law accomplished was to make 
sin known and to increase transgression 'for where there is 
no law, neither is there transgression.' 46 Thus, against the 
victory of sin there would be recourse to divine grace which 
is contained in the promises; thus, the Law would not be 
against the promises of God, because through it comes 
knowledge of sin, and abundance of sin from transgression of 
the Law, that thereby men may seek their deliverance through 
the promises of God, that is, the grace of God. Thus, there 
would be the beginning of justice in man, yet not his own 
but God's, given him by the gift of God. 

But even now there are some, as there were then among 
the Jews, of whom it is said : 'Not knowing the justice of God 
and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted 
themselves to the justice of God. 547 No doubt they think they 
are justified by the Law, and that their own free will enables 
them to keep it. This means that their justice is derived from 

44 Rom. 8.20, 

45 Gal. 3.18-22. 

46 Rom. 4.15. 

47 Rom. 10.3. 



1 04 SAINT AUGU STINE 

their own human nature, not given by divine grace, which 
is the reason of its being called the justice of God. Again on 
this subject it is written : Tor by the law is the knowledge of 
sin. But now without the law the justice of God is made 
manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.' 48 
When he says 'made manifest' he shows that it then existed 
but was like that dew which Gideon asked; then it was not 
visible on the fleece, but now it is made manifest on the 
ground around. 49 Since, then, the Law without grace could 
not have been the death of sin but its strength as it is 
written: The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin 
is the law' 50 as many flee for refuge from the face of sin 
enthroned to grace, lying manifest, as it were, on the ground, 
so at that time few fled to it for refuge, invisible as it were, 
on the fleece. Indeed, this division of times belongs to the 
depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of 
God, of which it is said: c How incomprehensible are his 
judgments and how unsearchable his ways!' 51 

Therefore, if it was not the innate power of a nature, weak 
and needy and depraved and sold into the slavery of sin, that 
justified the godly patriarchs who lived by faith before the 
time of the Law or at the very time of the Law, and if it 
was the grace of God which justified them by faith, and 
which, coming into the open by revelation, does still justify 
men, let Pelagius solemnly repudiate the writings in which 
he argues against it, through ignorance if not through 
obstinacy, defending the innate power of nature to win the 
victory over sin and to fulfill the commandments. On the 
other hand, if he says that the writings are not his, or that 
they have been inserted into his by his enemies, let him still 

48 Rom. 3.20,21. 

49 Judges 6.36-40. 

50 1 Cor. 15.56. 

51 Rom. 11.33. 



LETTERS 105 

pronounce anathema against what he says is not his, and 
let him condemn it, in obedience to the paternal exhortation 
and authority of your Holiness. If he is willing to do that, 
let him learn how to remove from the Church a scandal so 
burdensome and so dangerous to himself, a scandal which 
his hearers and his misguided lovers spread around unceas- 
ingly in every direction. For, if they knew that the same 
book which they think or know is his had been anath- 
ematized and condemned by him, in submission to the 
authority of the Catholic bishops and especially of your 
Holiness, which we are very certain has great weight with 
him, we think they would not dare to go on speaking against 
the grace of God, which was revealed through the Passion and 
Resurrection of Christ, but they would cease to trouble the 
hearts of simple and faithful Christians; or, rather, with the 
help of the Lord's mercy, together with our joint forces and 
your prayers, burning with charity and piety, they would 
trust in that same grace, not in their own strength, for their 
eternal happiness as well as for their justice and holiness in 
this life. A letter has been written to him by one of us, to 
whom he had addressed some writings in his own defense, 
sending them by a certain deacon from the East, but a 
citizen of Hippo, 52 but we have thought it better in our 
judgment to forward it to your Blessedness, asking that you 
would deign to send it to him yourself. In that way he will 
not disdain to read it, having regard rather to the sender 
than to the writer. 

As to what they say of the ability of man to remain sinless 
and to keep the commandments of God with ease, if he wills 
it, when they add that this is achieved by the help of grace, 
which, however, is revealed and imparted through the In- 
carnation of the only-begotten Son, it seems that this state- 
ment can be tolerated; still, since a difficulty can reasonably 

52 Chains, a deacon in Palestine, but by birth a citizen of Hippo. 



106 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

arise as to where and when it is accomplished in us by the 
said grace that we should thenceforth be sinless, and whether 
it is in this life, when 'the flesh lusteth against the spirit/ 53 
or in that other life 'when this saying that is written shall 
come to pass : C O death, where is thy victory? O death, where 
is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin.' 54 This should be 
examined more carefully because of some other persons who 
have had the erroneous idea and have published it in their 
writings, that even in this life it is possible for man to be 
sinless, not from the time of his birth, but from that of his 
conversion from sin to righteousness, and from a bad life to 
a good one. 55 This is the meaning they give to what is 
written of Zachary and Elizabeth that c they walked in all the 
justifications of the Lord without blame.' 56 This expression, 
'without blame,' they took to mean 'without sin' ; not, indeed, 
that they deny the assisting grace of our Lord on the 
contrary, they piously admit it, as we find in other passages 
of their writings that this help is not derived from the 
natural spirit of man but comes originally from the Spirit 
of God. It seems that they have not paid sufficient attention to 
the fact that Zachary was a priest, and that all priests at that 
time were obliged by the Law of God to offer sacrifice first for 
their own sins and then for those of the people. 57 Therefore, 
as it is now proved by the sacrifice of prayer that we are not 
sinless, since we are commanded to say: Torgive us our 
debts/ 58 so it was proved then by the sacrifice of animal vic- 
tims that the priests were not sinless, since they were com- 
manded to offer the victim for their own sins. 

53 Gal. 5.19. 

54 1 Cor. 15.54-56. 

55 Cf. St. Ambrose, Expositio E-oangeln Lucae 1.17 (ed. Schenkl pp. 
2-25), r 

56 Luke 1.6. 

57 Lev. 9.7; Heb. 7.27. 

58 Matt. 6.12; Luke 11.4. 



LETTERS 107 

But, if our circumstances are such that we do indeed make 
some progress in this life by the grace of the Saviour, when 
covetousness declines and charity increases, it is in the other 
life that we reach perfection, when covetousness is extin- 
guished and charity made perfect. That saying, 'Whosoever 
is born of God, sinneth not,' 59 is undoubtedly meant to apply 
to pure charity which alone does not sin. Obviously, it is the 
charity which is to be increased and perfected that belongs to 
the birth which is of God, not the covetousness which is to 
be diminished and destroyed; yet, as long as this latter is in our 
members, it fights by a certain law of its own against the law 
of the mind, 60 whereas he that is born of God, who does 
not obey his own desires, nor yield his members as instruments 
of iniquity unto sin, 61 can say: 'Now it is no longer I that do 
it but sin that dwelleth in me.' 62 

Whatever the status of that question that, even if man is 
not found in this life without sin, it is stated that he can 
become sinless by the help of grace and the Spirit of God, 
and that he should strive and ask that he may become so, 
there is a tolerable chance of going wrong, and it is not a 
diabolical impiety but a human error to assert that this is 
something to work and pray for, even though there were no 
proof of what they assert they believe it is possible because it 
is certainly praiseworthy to wish it. It is enough for us that 
no one of the faithful, in whatever advanced stage of high 
virtue he may be found, should dare to say that he has no 
need to make the petition of the Lord's prayer: 'Forgive us 
our debts,' or should say that he is sinless and not self- 
deceived so that truth is not in him, although he should 
now be living a blameless life. It is not merely some kind of 

59 1 John 3.9; 5.18. 

60 Rom. 7.23. 

61 Rom. 6.12,13. 

62 Rom. 7.20. 



108 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

human temptation but a grave sin that brings him blame. 
Your Blessedness will see, from the defense made in the 
report, the rest of the objections that have been made against 
him, and will no doubt judge them accordingly. Surely, the 
most gentle sweetness of your heart will pardon us for sending 
your Holiness a more lengthy letter than perhaps you wished. 
We are not pouring our little trickle back into your ample 
fountain to increase it, but the trial of our time is no slight 
one, and we pray to be delivered from it by Him to whom 
we say: 'Lead us not into temptation.' We wish to be re- 
assured by you that this trickle of ours, however scant, flows 
from the same fountainhead as your abundant stream, and we 
desire the consolation of your writings, drawn from our 
common share of the one grace. 



178. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the saintly lord, 

his brother and fellow priest, Hilary, 1 revered in 

the truth of Christ (c. 416) 

When our honored son, Palladius, 2 was on the point of 
sailing from our shore, he conferred rather than asked a favor 
by requesting me to commend him to your Benignity and 
myself to your prayers, most holy lord and brother, revered in 
the charity of Christ. Since I do this, your Holiness surely will 
do what we both rely on you to do. From the above-men- 
tioned bearer your Holiness will hear what news there is of us, 
since I know your Charity is as anxious for us as we are for 
you. But I will tell you briefly what is most important. A new 
heresy, enemy of the grace of Christ, is trying to rise against 

1 Believed to have been a bishop of Narbonne; not to be confused with 
Hilary of Aries, who was not a bishop before 428, or with Hilary of 
Sicily, the layman to whom Letters 156 and 157 are addressed. 

2 He was later sent by Pope Celestine to reclaim Britain to the faith. 



LETTERS 109 

the Church of Christ, but has not yet broken away from the 
Church, namely, that one proposed by men who dare to 
attribute so much power to human weakness as to claim 
that we owe to the grace of God only the fact that we are 
created with free will and with the possibility of not sinning, 
and that we receive the commandments of God which are 
fulfilled by us, but that we need no divine help to enable us 
to keep and fulfill the same commandments. However, they 
say that the forgiveness of sins is necessary for us because we 
are not able to undo the evil deeds which we have committed 
in the past, but that the human will, by its natural strength, 
without any subsequent help of the grace of God, is adequate 
for avoiding and overcoming future sins and triumphing over 
all temptations, through its own ability; and that babies do 
not need the grace of the Saviour to deliver them from 
perdition by His baptism, because they have not inherited 
any contagion of damnation from Adam. 

Your Reverence can see with us how opposed these teach- 
ings are to the grace of God, which has been granted to the 
human race by Jesus Christ our Lord, and how they aim at 
overturning the foundations of the whole Christian faith. 
So we must not fail to warn you to be on guard with pastoral 
care against men of that kind, whom we would certainly 
rather see healed in the Church than cut off from it. While 
writing this, we have learned that a decree of a council of 
bishops has been passed against them in the Church at 
Carthage, and is to be sent to the venerable Pope Innocent, 
and we of the Council of Numidia also have written in like 
tenor to the Apostolic See. 

All of us who place our hope in Christ ought to resist this 
deadly impiety and unite in condemning and anathematizing 
it. It goes contrary to our very prayers, allowing us, it is 
true, to say : 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,' 8 

3 Matt. 6.12; Luke 11.4. 



110 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

yet so allowing it as to claim that man in this corruptible 
body which is a load on the soul 4 can by his own strength 
attain to such a height of goodness that he no longer needs 
to say: 'Forgive us our debts.' The words that follow: 'Lead 
us not into temptation,' they do not interpret to mean that we 
are to pray God to help us to overcome temptation, but 
only to keep us from being overwhelmed corporeally by on- 
rushing physical disaster, because, as it is left to our own 
power by the capacity of nature to overcome temptation, we 
should think it useless to ask this in prayer. It is not possible 
for us in one short letter to summarize all or even many of 
the arguments of such impious nature, all the more because, 
while I write, the bearers who are about to sail leave me no 
further time. I think I am not putting a burden on your holy 
feelings, but I could not refrain from telling you of the 
necessity of warding off this great evil with all watchfulness, 
by the help of the Lord. 



779. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the holy lord, 

his deservedly revered brother and fellow bishop, 

John 1 (c. 416) 

I do not in the least venture to resent the fact that I have 
not been honored with a letter from your Holiness; I would 
rather believe that you had no messenger than suspect that 
your Reverence held me in low esteem, saintly lord, deservedly 
revered brother. But now, as I have heard that Luke, a 
servant of God, by whom I am sending this, will return 

4 Wisd. 9.15. 

1 Bishop of Jerusalem, 386-417. He had not accepted the decrees of the 
Council of Carthage against Pelagius and Caelestius, but had held his 
own synod in 415. Another synod at Diospolis in 416 favored Pelagius 
but was later reversed. 



LETTERS 111 

shortly, I shall give hearty thanks to the Lord and to your 
Benignity, if you will be so kind as to visit me by letter. As 
to Pelagius, our brother and your son, whom I hear you 
hold in great affection, I suggest that you show him this 
affection in such wise that people who know him and who 
have listened to him with attention may not imagine that 
your Holiness is being deceived by him. 

Some of his disciples, in fact, young men of very good 
birth, well-versed in the liberal arts, 2 gave up their worldly 
prospects at his urging and devoted themselves to the service 
of God. But when they noticed certain teachings opposed to 
the sound doctrine contained in the Gospel of the Saviour, 
and formulated in the preaching of the Apostles, that is, 
when they found that they were arguing against the grace 
of God which makes us Christians, by which e we in spirit, by 
faith, wait for the hope of justice,' 3 they began to return to 
the truth through our warnings and they gave me a book 
which they said was written by the same Pelagius, asking 
that I should rather be the one to answer it. 4 Seeing that it 
was my duty to do this, in order to remove that hateful error 
more completely from their hearts, I read it and replied to it. 

In that book he calls the grace of God nothing but our 
nature through which we are endowed with free will. As for 
that grace which holy Scripture commends in innumerable 
passages, teaching that by it we are justified, that is, made 
holy, and helped by the mercy of God to perform or 
complete every good work something which even the prayers 
of the saints manifest very clearly, for they ask of the 
Lord what the Lord commands this grace he not only 
passes over in silence, but also makes many statements 
against. He asserts and strongly insists that human nature, 

2 Timasius and James; cf. Letter 168 and 177. 

3 Gal. 5.5. 

4 De natura; cf. Letter 177 n. 20. 



112 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

through its free will alone, is competent to do the works of 
justice and to keep all the commandments of God. Anyone 
can see, after reading that book, how he attacks the grace 
of God of which the Apostle says: 'Unhappy man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace 
of God by Jesus Christ our Lord. 55 No room would be left 
for divine help which we are in duty bound to ask, saying: 
"Lead us not into temptation,' 6 and the Lord would seem 
to have spoken to no purpose when He said to the Apostle 
Peter: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not,' 7 if 
all this is accomplished in us by the sole power of our will, 
with no help from God. 

So, by these perverted and wicked arguments, he goes 
counter not only to the prayers by which we ask of the 
Lord whatever we read and believe that the saints asked, 
but it even nullifies our blessings, whenever we pray over 
the people, asking and begging of the Lord 'that he would 
make them abound in charity towards one another and 
towards all men,' 8 that he would grant them, according to 
the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his spirit with 
might unto the inward man, 39 'that he fill them with all joy 
and peace in believing, and that they may abound in hope 
and in the power of the Holy Spirit.' 10 Why should we ask 
those things which we know the Apostle asked of the Lord 
for his people, if, even now, our nature, created with free 
will, can furnish itself with all this by an act of its own will? 
Why, too, does the same Apostle say: 'As many as are led 
by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,' 11 if we are 

5 Rom. 7.24,25. 

6 Matt. 6.13; Luke 11.4. 

7 iuke 22,32. 

8 1 Thess. 3.12, 

9 Eph. 3.16. 

10 Rom. 15.13. 

11 Rom. 8.14. 



LETTERS 113 

led by the spirit of our own nature to become the sons of 
God? Why is it likewise said: 'The Spirit helpeth our in- 
firmity,' 12 if our nature is so made as not to need the help 
of the Spirit to perform works of justice? Why is it written: 
'But God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted 
above that which you are able, but will make also with 
temptation issue that you may be able to bear it,' 13 if we 
are now so endowed that by the strength of our free will we 
are able to overcome all temptations merely by bearing them? 

Why should I draw this out any further for your Holiness 
when I am well aware that I am tiresome, especially as you 
hear my letter through an interpreter? 14 If all of you love 
Pelagius, may he love you in return, or, rather, may he 
deceive himself and not you. For, when you hear him 
admitting the grace of God and the help of God, you imagine 
he means the same as you do, who are well versed in the 
Catholic rule of faith, because you do not know what he has 
written in his book; for this reason I am sending his book 
and my own in which I refuted him, so that your Reverence 
may see what grace or help of God he speaks of when he is 
charged with opposing the grace and help of God. Therefore 
do you show him by teaching, by exhorting, and by praying 
for his salvation, which must needs be in Christ, how to con- 
fess that grace of God which the saints of God confessed, as 
has been proved, when they asked of the Lord the strength to 
do those things which He commanded them to do, since these 
commands would not be made except to show that we have 
a will, and strength would not be asked unless the weakness 
of our will were helped by Him who gave the command. 

Let him be questioned publicly on whether he agrees that 
we must pray to the Lord to keep us from sin. If he disagrees, 

12 Rom. 8.26. 

13 1 Cor. 10.13. 

14 His own language was Greek. 



114 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

have the words of the Apostle read in his ears, where he 
says: 'Now we pray God that you may do no evil'; 15 if he 
agrees, let him openly preach the grace by which we are 
helped, so that he himself may be kept from doing much 
evil. This grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord 
delivers all who are delivered, since no one can be delivered 
in any other way than by that grace. For that reason it is 
written: c As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be 
made alive,' 16 not that no one will be damned, but that no 
one will be delivered in any other way, since none are sons 
of men except through Adam, just as none are sons of God 
except through Christ. Thus, all can become sons of men 
only through Adam and all can become sons of God only 
through Christ. Let him also express his views openly on this : 
Whether he agrees that little children, not yet able to choose 
or reject goodness, yet because of one man through whom 
'sin entered into the world and by sin death, and so death 
passed upon all men in whom all have sinned,' 17 are delivered 
by the grace of Christ; whether he believes that the blood of 
Christ which was certainly shed for the remission of sin, was 
shed for them, also, because of original sin. Concerning these 
points in particular we wish to be informed about him: 
what he believes, what he holds as true, what he confesses 
and preaches with assurance. In the other objections, how- 
ever, which may be raised against him, even if he is proved 
to be wrong, he can be borne with more tolerably until he 
accepts correction. 

I ask you to be so kind as to send us the minutes of the 
Church council 18 which show that he was cleared. I ask this 

15 2 Cor. 13.7. 

16 1 Cor. 15.22. 

17 Rom. 5.12. 

18 Held at Diospolis (ancient Lydda) in 415. On receipt of these 
minutes, Augustine wrote his De gestis Pelagii to give a true account 
of the proceedings in the East. 



LETTERS 115 

at the joint desire of many bishops, who, like me, have been 
troubled by the unsubstantiated report about this affair, but 
I have written this in my own name because I did not want 
to lose the opportunity of a messenger who is making a 
quick journey from here, and who, I hear, will be able to 
return to us shortly. Instead of these minutes, or any part 
of them, Pelagius had sent us some kind of defense 19 he 
wrote, in which he said he had replied to the charges made by 
the Gauls. 20 In it, to pass over other points, he replied to the 
objection made to him that he had said man can live without 
sin and can keep the commandments of God, if he wills it, 
by saying: 'I said that God gave man this power; I did not 
say that anyone could be found who had never committed a 
sin from infancy to old age, but that a man converted from 
sin by his own effort and helped by the grace of God can 
live without sin, and his having sinned will not make him 
incorrigible for the future.' 

In this reply of Pelagius, your Reverence can observe that 
he made this admission, that the early life of man, that is, 
from his infancy, cannot be free of sin, but that he can be 
converted to a sinless life by his own effort helped by the 
grace of God. Why, then, did he say in the book which I have 
answered that Abel had lived a life entirely without sin? 
These are his words on this point: 'This,' he says, 'can 
rightly be said of those of whose good or evil deeds Scripture 
makes no mention: that, as it recorded their goodness, it 
would undoubtedly have recorded their sins, if it had known 
that they did sin. But granted,' he says, 'that in other ages 
Scripture neglected to describe the sins of all, because of the 
numerous throng of men, right at the very beginning of the 
world, when there were only four people alive, what reason 
can we give,' he says, 'for its failure to record the misdeeds 

19 Cf. Letter 177 n. 52. 

20 Heros and Lazarus, Gallic bishops,* cf. Letter 175 n. 4. 



116 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

of all? Was it because of a great multitude which did not 
yet exist? Or was it because it remembered only those who 
committed sin, but could not remember those who had not 
committed any? Certainly, 5 he says, c at the beginning of 
time, there were Adam and Eve, of whom Cain and Abel 
were born four persons only are reported as existing. Eve 
sinned, Scripture tells us this; Adam also sinned, the same 
Scripture does not fail to mention it. Scripture also testifies 
further that Cain sinned as well. It points out not only their 
sins, but the nature of their sins. But if Abel, too, had 
sinned/ he says, 'without doubt the Scripture would have 
mentioned it; but it does not mention it; therefore, he did 
not sin.' 

I have quoted these passages from his book your Holiness 
will be able to find them in the volume itself that you may 
understand what kind of reliance you may put on his denial 
of other points also ; unless, perhaps, he says that Abel himself 
did not commit sin, but that he was not thereby without sin, 
and so could not be compared to the Lord, who alone of 
mortal flesh was sinless, because in Abel there was the original 
sin derived from Adam, but no sin committed by himself 
personally would that at least he would say this that we 
might for the present get from him a clear statement about 
infant baptism! or unless he says, perhaps, since he used 
the words 'from infancy to old age,' that Abel did not sin 
because it is shown that he did not live to old age. His words 
do not indicate this; he said that from the beginning the 
early part of life was sinful; the later part could be sinless. 
He claims that he did not say that anyone could be found 
who had not sinned from infancy to old age, but that after 
turning away from sin by his own effort, helped by the grace 
of God, he could live without sin. For, when he says: 'turning 
away from sin, 3 he shows that the earlier part of life is 
lived in sin. Let him admit, then, that Abel did sin, since his 



LETTERS 117 

early life was lived in the world and that part he admits is 
not without sin; and let him look again into his own book, 
where it is clear that he did say what he denies having said 
in his defense. 

If he says that this book, or this passage in the book, is 
not his, I have on my side competent witnesses, men of honor 
and integrity, and unquestioned friends of his own, on whose 
evidence I can clear my reputation, that they gave me this 
same book, and therein that statement can be read; they 
said it was the work of Pelagius and that evidence is enough 
to keep anyone from saying that it has been written or forged 
by me. Now, let each one choose among these which one he 
will believe ; it does not devolve on me to discuss this question 
any further. I ask you to be sure to convey to him, if he 
denies that those views are his, the objection made against 
him that he is opposed to the grace of Christ. Indeed, his 
defense is so plausible that we shall be very glad and thankful 
if he has not deceived you, who are unacquainted with his 
other writings, by some of his ambiguous expressions, but we 
do not much care whether he never held those perverse and 
wicked views, or was sometime converted from them. 



180. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to Oceanus^ his 
deservedly cherished lord and brother, worthy of 
esteem in the members of Christ (End of 416) 

I have received two letters together from your Charity, in 
one of which you mention a third which you say was dis- 
patched before the other two. I do not recall having received 
it; in fact, I am quite sure I have not received it. For those 
I have received, however, I return hearty thanks for your 
kindness to us. My reason for not answering them at once is 

1 Cf. Letter 165. 



118 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that I have been distracted by one task after another. But 
now I am taking advantage of a little drop of free time, 
choosing rather to give you some kind of answer than to 
maintain a long silence toward your very sincere Charity, 
and thus become more unmannerly by too little than by too 
much talk. 

I know now what holy Jerome thinks about the origin of 
souls, and I have, in fact, read the very words which you 
quoted from his book in your letter. But this does not raise the 
troublesome question which disturbs some, how God can 
justly give souls to adulterous conceptions, because not even 
their own sins, much less those of their parents, can harm 
good-living persons, and those who have turned to God with 
faith and piety. But, if it is true that new individual souls are 
created from nothing for new individuals at birth, it is a 
question worth asking how such unnumbered souls of infants 
which God knows will leave their bodies without baptism 
before the age of reason, before they know right from wrong, 
can with justice be given over to damnation by Him with 
whom above all there is no injustice. 2 There is no need for me 
to say more on this subject, since you know what I wish, 
or rather, what I do not wish to say. I think I have said 
enough for a wise man. However, if you have read anything, 
or heard anything from his mouth, or if the Lord has given 
some light to your mind on this point, by which this problem 
could be solved, share it with me, I beg of you, and I will 
give you even more heartfelt thanks. 

In that matter of the officious or useful lie 3 which you 
thought could be settled by the example of the Lord saying 
that the Son knows not the day nor the hour of the end of 
the world, 4 I was pleased to read this product of your in- 

2 Rom. 9.14. 

3 For the classification of lies, cf. Letter 40. 

4 Matt. 24.36; Mark 13.32. 



LETTERS 119 

genuity, but I am quite sure that a figurative expression 
cannot rightly be called a lie. For it is not a lie to say that 
the day is joyful because it makes people joyful, and that a 
lupine seed is sad because it lengthens the face of the eater 
because of its bitter taste; so also we say that God 'knows' 
something when he makes a man know it you yourself 
recalled that this was said to Abraham. 5 None of these is a lie, 
as you can easily see for yourself. Consequently, when the 
blessed Hilary 6 threw light on an obscure point by this kind 
of figurative expression, making us understand that in pro- 
portion as he made others ignorant by concealing his meaning 
he admitted his own lack of knowledge, he did not condone 
lying, but he proved that it was not lying to use the more 
common figures, or even that one which is called metaphor, 
a form of speech familiar to all. Will anyone call it a lie to 
say that vines are jewelled with buds, or that a grain-field 
waves, or that a man is in the flower of his youth, because 
he sees in these objects neither waves nor precious stones, 
nor grass, nor trees to which these expressions would literally 
to applied? 

Accordingly, with your keen and learned mind, you can 
notice easily how different are these expressions from what the 
Apostle said: 'When I saw that they walked not uprightly 
unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all: 
If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the gentiles, 
and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the gentiles 
to live as the Jews do?' 7 There is here no figurative obscurity 
of speech; these are the proper words of direct speech. Here 
the Doctor of the Gentiles 8 spoke either truth or falsehood 
to those of whom he was in labor until Christ should be 



5 Gen. 22.12. 

6 Bishop of Poitiers (315-368) , author of De Trinitate (trans, by 
Stephen J. McKenna, C.SS.R., as Vol. 25 in this series) . 

7 Gal. 2.14. 

8 1 Tim. 2.7. 



1 20 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

formed in them; 9 if falsehood, which God forbid, you notice 
what follows and you shrink from both alternatives, 10 but 
he gives us evidence of truth, and in the Apostle Peter there 
is an admirable example of humility. 

But why do I dwell any longer on this point which has 
been adequately treated in the letters 11 between me and the 
aforementioned brother Jerome? In his most recent work 
against Pelagius, 12 which he published under the name of 
Critobulus, he held the same opinion of that episode, and the 
words of the Apostle, which we followed as being that of 
blessed Cyprian. 13 In that other question of the origin of 
the soul which I think it wise to explore, not because of the 
matter of adulterous conceptions, but because of the damna- 
tion of the innocent, which God forbid, if you have learned 
anything from that great and grand man which can be used 
to answer those in doubt, I beg you not to refuse to share it 
with us, Indeed, you appear to me so learned and charming 
in your letters that it is worth while conversing by letter with 
you. I ask you not to delay sending us a book I do not 
know its name of the same man of God, which the priest 
Orosius brought back and gave to your Charity to copy. In it 
he gains praise for his discussion of the resurrection of the 
body. But we do not ask it of you at once, because we think 
it needs copying and correcting, both of which we realize 
require ample time. As you live, remember us with God. 

9 Gal. 4.19. 

10 A lacuna is suggested in the text at this point. Augustine seems not 
to follow up the true-false alternative, 

11 Letters 28, 40, 71, 75, and 82. 

12 Jerome, Dialogus adverus Pelaglum 1.8, in PL 23.502. 

13 Cyprian, Letter 71.3 (ed. Hartel, pp. 773-774) . 



LETTERS 121 

181. Innocent gives greeting in the Lord to Aurelius and all 
the holy bishops his beloved brothers who took 
part in the Council of Carthage 
(January 27, 417) 1 

In your inquiries into the things of God, which require to 
be treated by priests with great care, especially when there 
is question of a true, just, and Catholic council, you have 
kept the precedents of ancient tradition, being mindful of 
ecclesiastical discipline, and you have added strength to our 
religion, not only now in your council, but before it when 
you made your pronouncement according to right reason, 
and when you voted to submit the matter to our judgment, 
knowing well what is owing to the Apostolic See, since all of 
us who are placed in this position desire to follow the Apostle 
himself, from whom the very episcopate and the whole 
authority of its name are derived. Following in his footsteps, 
we know equally how to condemn what is evil and to approve 
what is praiseworthy, as for example, the fact that you keep 
the customs of the fathers with priestly zeal, that you do not 
think they should be trampled underfoot. Because it has been 
decreed by a divine, not a human, authority that whenever 
action is taken in any of the provinces, however distant or 
remote, it should not be brought to a conclusion before it 
comes to the knowledge of this See, so that every just decision 
may be affirmed by our complete authority. Thus, just as all 
waters corne forth from their natural source and flow through 
all parts of the world, keeping the purity of their source, so all 
the other Churches may draw from this source knowledge 
of what they are to teach, whom they are to absolve, and 

1 This is an answer to Letter 175. Innocent I, Pope from 401 to 417, 
active against Novatiamsts, Manichaeans, Donatists, Priscillianists and 
Pelagians, strongly supported St. John Chrysostom, defended the 
authority of the Holy See against encroachments from the East, and 
restored many points of Church discipline. 



122 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

from whom the waters, intended only for pure bodies, should 
be withheld as being soiled with indelible filth. 

Therefore, I thank you, dearest brothers, for sending us 
letters by our brother and fellow priest, Julius, in which you 
show that while administering the Churches of which you 
have care, you have an interest in the welfare of all, and on 
behalf of the Churches of the whole world, in union with all, 
you ask a decree that may be for the good of all. Thus, a 
Church, supported by its own rules and strengthened by the 
decretals of a legitimate pronouncement, may not have to be 
exposed to those against whom it should be on guard: men 
instructed or, rather, destroyed by the perverse subtleties of 
words, who pretend to argue for the Catholic faith yet 
breathe out deadly poison so as to corrupt the hearts of 
right-thinking men and drag them down, seeking to over- 
throw the whole system of true dogma. 

Therefore, the remedy must be applied quickly, that this 
hateful disease may not make a further attack on the minds 
of men, in the same way as a doctor, when he sees some 
weakness in this earthly body, thinks it a great proof of his 
skill to save from a fatal outcome a patient who is despaired 
of, or who examines an infected sore and applies poultices or 
other remedies which may avail to draw out what has 
developed in it; but, if it persists and cannot be healed, he 
cuts out the harmful part with a knife lest it infect the whole 
body with its poison, and so he preserves the body whole and 
sound. Therefore, this poison is to be cut out, which, like a 
sore, has crept into a clean and wholly sound body, lest if it 
is removed too late it may settle in the very vitals from which 
it may not be possible for the corruption of this evil to be 
drawn off. 

Shall we not, then, think it right to act thus toward those 
minds which think they owe their goodness to themselves, 
and take no thought of Him whose grace they daily receive? 



LETTERS 123 

But such men no longer receive the grace of God, because 
they rely on themselves for the power to accomplish as much 
without Him as those who ask and receive His grace can 
scarcely profess to do. Could anything be so unjust, so bar- 
baric, so oblivious of all religion, so inimical to Christian 
minds as to deny that you owe to God whatever you achieve 
by your daily deeds, while admitting that you owe Him the 
fact of your existence meaning that you will be more suc- 
cessful in providing for yourself than He who brought you into 
being can be for you! and while you think you owe Him 
your existence, how can you think you do not owe it to Him 
that you live in such a manner by receiving His daily grace? 
And you who deny that we need His divine help, as if we 
were provided against everything by our own strength, do 
we refrain from calling His help upon us because we can be 
such by our own effort? 

When anyone denies the help of God, I should like to ask 
him why he says that: Is it because we do not deserve it? Or 
is He unable to give it? Or is there no reason why anyone 
should ask it? Our very works bear witness that God can 
do this. We cannot deny that we need daily help. For, if we 
are living a good life, we ask that we may live a better and 
holier one; if we have turned away from good by wicked 
thoughts, we need His help even more. Nowhere can we 
find anything so deadly, so prone to make us fall, so exposed 
to all dangers as the thought that it can be enough for us 
to have received free will at birth, and so we should ask 
nothing more of the Lord, that is, of the Author of our 
being. This is to deny His power in order to show ourselves 
free, as if He who made us free at our birth could give us 
nothing more! This is to refuse to know that, unless His 
grace comes down upon us in answer to earnest prayer, it 
will be useless for us to try to overcome the aberrations of 
earthly corruption and a perishable body, since it is not free 



1 24 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

will but the help of God that alone can make us fit to resist. 

For, if he contends that he has need of divine help and 
does not seek it honestly because his free will is a greater help 
to him while that blessed man who was already elect of the 
Lord prayed thus to God, saying: c Be thou my helper: for- 
sake me not nor despise me, O God, my Saviour,' 2 do we call 
free will to our help while he calls on God as his helper? 
Do we say that it is enough for us that we are born, while 
he begs God not to forsake him? I ask, do we not learn 
clearly what we should ask when that saintly man, as I 
said above, begs so earnestly not to be despised? Those who 
assert such things must needs use that argument. David 
could not be accused of being ignorant of prayer and 
unaware of his own nature; if he knew that so much power 
resided in his nature he nevertheless called on God as his 
helper, his constant helper; and even this constant help does 
not satisfy him, but, lest God should at any time despise him, 
he calls upon Him in abject prayer, and through the whole 
collection of the Psalms he proclaims his need and cries it 
aloud. If, therefore, this is something so important to know 
that he kept saying it constantly, and if he confessed that 
it is so necessary to teach, how can Pelagius and Gaelestius 
discard every refutation of it in the Psalms, and repudiate 
all similar teaching, and then believe they can convince 
some persons that we do not need the help of God, and 
ought not to ask it, while all the saints bear witness that 
they can do nothing without it? 

Long since there was one 3 who had experience of his free 
will, making a careless use of its goods and falling into a 
flood of error where he would have been drowned; since he 
could find no means of raising himself, deceived as he was 

2 PS. 26.9. 

3 This description fits Augustine's own conversion; cf. his Contra duos 
epistulas Pelagianorum 2-6 (Migne, PL 44.575) . 



LETTERS 1 25 

forever by his own liberty, he would have been sunk in 
overwhelming ruin if the coming of Christ had not raised 
him afterwards by means of his grace, washed away every 
past sin in the font of his baptism through the purification 
of a new birth, and strengthened his steps that he might 
advance more surely and more steadily: never afterwards 
did he deny God's grace. And although Christ had redeemed 
man from his past sins, He knew that man could sin again, 
and for that reason He kept many remedies in reserve to 
heal him, so that He could amend those later offenses. He 
offers those remedies daily, and, unless we make use of 
them with faith and confidence, we shall never be able to 
overcome human failings. It necessarily follows, then, that 
as we overcome by His help, so we are in turn overcome 
without His help. I could say more, but it is evident that you 
have said all the rest. 

Therefore, whoever appears to be in agreement with this 
statement which declares that we have no need of divine 
help shows himself an enemy of the Catholic faith, and an 
ingrate to the goodness of God. They are unworthy of our 
communion, which they have polluted by such preaching. 
They have voluntarily fled from the true religion by following 
those who make these statements. Since this whole matter 
rests on our avowal, and we accomplish nothing by our 
daily prayer except in so far as we receive the grace of God, 
how can we tolerate such boasting? I ask what great error 
blinds their hearts which makes them fail to notice what is 
individually lavished on others by divine grace, but feel no 
grace of God themselves because they are unworthy and 
undeserving of it. Indeed, they fully deserve this blindness 
who have not left themselves the resource of believing that 
they can be drawn back from their wanderings by divine 
help. By denying this help they have robbed themselves of 
it, not others. They must be plucked out and removed far 



126 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

from the bosom of the Church, lest their error, gaining 
ground for a long time, should afterwards grow into some- 
thing incurable. If they were to remain long unpunished they 
must needs draw many into their perverted state of mind, and 
deceive the innocent or, rather, the unwary who now follow 
the Catholic faith, who will think the deceivers must be 
right since they see them remaining in the Church. 

Therefore, let the diseased sore be cut off from the sound 
body, and the miasma of the cruel malady be carefully re- 
moved, that thus the healthy parts may continue to live, that 
the flock, being cleansed, may be clear of this contagion of 
an infected flock. Let there be an unspotted perfection of 
the whole body, such as we know, from your pronouncement 
against them, that you follow and hold, and which we, 
together with you, uphold with equal assent. If, however, they 
call down some help of God upon themselves, as they have 
hitherto refused to do, and if they recognize that they need 
His help, in order to be set free from this corruption into 
which they have fallen through the subjugation of their heart, 
and if they are led to the light, so to speak, from this foul 
cloud under which they have been, by the surrender and 
removal of all that darkens and dims their sight, so that 
they cannot see the truth, let them repudiate the views they 
have hitherto held; let them lend their minds for a while to 
true arguments, and, turning from their former corruption, 
let them give and deliver themselves over to be healed by true 
counsels. If they do this, it will be in the power of the 
pontiffs to help them to some extent, and to offer the care 
for such wounds which the Church is not wont to refuse to 
the lapsed when they have recanted. Thus, they may be 
drawn back from the precipice on which they are, and led 
into the sheepfold of the Lord, lest, if they are left outside 
and deprived of the great protection afforded by the wall 
of faith, they may be exposed to all the dangers of being 



LETTERS 127 

torn and eaten by the teeth of wolves, since they cannot fight 
them off by reason of the perverted doctrine which roused 
the attack against them. But this answer, furnished with 
abundant examples of our law, is sufficient to meet your 
warning, and we think that nothing remains for us to say. 
Since you, also, have left nothing out, it is clear that nothing 
has been passed over by which they may be refuted and may 
acknowledge their defeat. Therefore, no testimony is added 
here by us because this report is filled with them; it is 
evident that so many learned priests have said everything, 
and it does not befit us to believe that you overlooked anything 
which could advance the case. Farewell, brothers. 4 



2. Innocent gives greeting in the Lord to his beloved 

brothers, Silvanus elder, Valentine, and the 

others who attended the Synod of Milevis 
(January, 417) 1 

In the midst of our other cares for the Church at Rome 
and the duties of the Apostolic See, in the course of which 
we examine decrees on various subjects with faithful and 
curative argument, our brother and fellow priest, Julius, 
brought the letter of your Charity which you sent, in your 
close devotion to the faith, from the Council of Milevis, and, 
without my knowing it, he included the report of the Synod 
of Carthage, adding this document of similar protest. Truly 
the Church rejoices that her pastors display such watchful 
care for the flocks entrusted to them, not only that they do 

4 In another handwriting. And along the side of the Letter as given in 
textual notes: Given on the fifth day of the Kalends of February, after 
the seventh consulship of Theodosius Augustus and Junius Quartus. 

1 This is the answer to Letter 176. 



1 28 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

not allow any to go astray, but, if the harm of herbage on 
the left entices any of the sheep and they persist in wandering 
away, they decide either to cut them off entirely, or to 
watch them with all the old-time care when they unlawfully 
disregard warnings; on guard against both extremes, lest, if 
they refuse the strays, others may be led away by a like 
example; if they cast them off at their return, they may 
seem to have been devoured by the teeth of wolves. Their 
plan of action is always prudent and full of Catholic faith. 
For, who could either show indulgence to an erring soul or 
fail to welcome him back at his conversion? As I think it is a 
sign of hardness to treat sinners with connivance, so I judge 
that it is wicked to refuse a helping hand to the converted. 

You show diligence and consideration in taking thought of 
the apostolic honor, of that concealed honor, I mean, of 
him whom 'besides those things which are without, the 
solicitude for all the churches' 2 weighed down; and in asking 
what opinion is to be held on anxious matters, following in 
that the form of the ancient rule, which you know has always 
been upheld by me throughout the whole world. But I pass 
over that for 1 believe your Prudence is well aware of it. Why 
did you affirm it by your action if you did not know that 
replies always flow from the apostolic font to petitioners in 
all the provinces? In particular, I think that as often as an 
argument on the faith is being blown about, all our brothers 
and fellow bishops ought to refer it solely to Peter, that is, 
to the one having the authority of his name and rank, as 
your Charity has now done, so that it may be for the common 
benefit of all the Churches. They must be the more on 
guard when they see the originators of evil cut off from 
communion with the Church by the enactments of our decree, 
in consequence of the report from a twofold synod. 

Therefore, your Charity will perform a doubly good action, 



2 2 Cor. 11.28. 



LETTERS 129 

for you will gain gratitude for preserving the canons of 
belief, and the whole world will share in the common good 
conferred by you. Are there any Catholic men who would be 
willing to join conversation hereafter with the adversaries of 
Christ? Would anyone want to share the common light of 
life with them? Surely, the authors of a new heresy should be 
shunned. What more bitter attack could they imagine against 
the Lord than to take away the reason for daily prayer, after 
having nullified divine assistance? This is the same as saying: 
'What need have I of God?' Let the Psalmist say of them 
with good reason : 'Behold the men that made not God their 
helper!' 3 Therefore, by denying the help of God they say 
that man is self-sufficient, that he has no need of divine 
grace, the deprivation of which necessarily entangles him in 
the snares of the Devil 4 and makes him fall; while at the 
same time he claims that human liberty alone is enough 
to enable him to fulfill all the commandments of life. 5 O 
perverse doctrine of utterly depraved minds ! Take note, then, 
how that liberty led the first man astray and made him fall 
into a presumptuous sin because he failed to bridle it strongly 
enough, and how he could not have been rescued from his 
state if the coming of the Lord Christ in the providence of 
regeneration had not reformed the condition of his original 
liberty. Let him listen to David saying c Our help is in the 
name of the Lord' and 'Be thou my helper, forsake me not; 
do not thou despise me, O God, my Saviour!' 6 which accord- 
ing to him would be useless if what the Psalmist asked of the 
Lord with tearful speech rested on his own will alone. 

This being so, when we read on all the divine pages 
nothing else than that the help of God must be added to our 

3 Ps. 51.9. 

4 1 Tim. 3.7; 2 Tim. 2.26. 

5 Ezech. 33.15; Baruch 3.9. 

6 Ps. 123.8; 26.9. 



1 30 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

free will, and that, deprived of these heavenly safeguards, It 
can do nothing, how can Pelagius and Caelestius so obsti- 
nately defend the power of the will alone, persuading them- 
selves of its truth, as you assert, nay, what is a subject worthy 
of general grief, persuading so many others? We could cite 
numberless examples to instruct such a group of masters, if 
we did not know that your Holiness is fully versed in all the 
divine Scriptures, especially as your report is replete with 
such cogent testimonies that by these alone the teachings in 
question could be torn apart, and there is no need of far- 
fetched quotations, since the heretics would neither dare nor 
be able to counter those which you used as coming easily to 
mind. Therefore, they try to deprive us of the grace of God, 
which we should still have to seek, even if the liberty of our 
original state were restored to us, inasmuch as we cannot 
otherwise avoid the contrivances of the Devil except by the 
help of the same grace. 

That other doctrine which your Fraternity claims that they 
preach, that little children can attain the reward of eternal 
life without the grace of baptism, is very foolish. For, unless 
they eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood 
they will not have life in them. 7 Those who claim this for 
them without regeneration seem to me to wish to nullify 
baptism, since they teach that these children have what they 
believe is not to be bestowed on them in baptism even by 
themselves. If, then, they do not wish anything to stand in 
their way, let them confess that there is no need of rebirth 
and that the sacred stream of regeneration has no effect. But 
in order to disarm the vicious doctrine of vain men by the 
swift reasoning of truth, the Lord proclaims this in the 
Gospel by saying: 'Suffer the little children and forbid them 
not to come to me.' 8 Therefore, concerning Pelagius and 

7 John 6.54. 

8 Matt. 19.4; Mark 10.14; Luke 18.16. 



LETTERS 



131 



Caelestius, that is, the originators of new dogmas, which,, as 
the Apostle says, are of no profit, but tend to beget utterly 
vain questions, we decree, relying on the strength of apostolic 
authority, that they are to be deprived of communion with 
the Church until 'they recover themselves from the snares of 
the Devil, by whom they are held captives at his will'; 9 that 
they are not to be received within the Lord's flock which they 
have chosen to forsake by following the path of a crooked 
way. Those who trouble us, who would pervert the gospel 
of Christ, 5 are to be cut off. 10 We likewise prescribe that if 
any strive to defend this teaching with similar obstinacy, 
they are to be bound under the same censures, 'and not only 
they that do these things, but they also that consent to them 
that do them,' 11 because I think there is not much difference 
between the intention of him that does something and the 
consent of him that agrees to it. I add more: When no one 
assents to the errant one he generally unlearns his error. 
Therefore, beloved brothers, let the aforementioned decisions 
stand as a fixed decree; let them be kept out of the house of 
the Lord; let them at least be prevented from exercising any 
pastoral care, lest the deadly contagion of two sheep creep 
in among the unwary flock, and the greedy-hearted wolf 
rejoice that so many flocks of sheep within the Lord's sheep- 
fold have been scattered, because the guards have been 
negligent in overlooking the wounds of the two. We must be 
watchful then, lest, by allowing the wolves to enter, we appear 
to be hirelings rather than shepherds. 12 

Moreover, since Christ our Lord showed that He willed not 
the death of the sinner but that he should be converted and 
live, 13 we order that if ever these two recover a sane mind, 



9 2 Tim. 2.14,23,26. 

10 Gal. 1.7; 5.12. 

11 Cf. Rom. 1.32. 

12 John 10.12. 

13 Ezech. 33.11; 2 Peter 3.9. 



132 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

after having repudiated the error of their wrong teaching, 
and if they condemn the false statements which brought on 
their condemnation, the customary remedy is not to be re- 
fused them by the Church, that is, they are to be received 
back, lest, if we should perchance forbid their return, they 
might remain outside the fold and be swallowed up by the 
fierce jaws of their waiting enemy, which they have armed 
against themselves with the sharp points of their wicked 
arguments. Farewell, brothers. 

Given on the sixth day before the Kalends of February in 
the consulship of the noble Honorius and the noble Con~ 
stantius. 14 



183. Innocent gives greeting to Aurelius, Alypius, Augustine, 
Evodius, Possidius, bishops (January, 417) 1 

We have received with grateful heart the letters of your 
Fraternity, so full of faith, so strong with the full vigor of the 
Catholic religion, which you sent from the two councils by 
our brother and fellow bishop, Julius. Their content and the 
whole development of thought on the daily grace of God 
and the amendment of those who hold contrary views are 
based on right reason, so as to be well fitted to remove all 
error from these latter and to furnish them a worthy teacher, 
by citing certain precedents from our law, whom they ought 
to follow. However, in our previous letters in answer to your 
reports I think we have said enough on these points con- 
cerning what we think either of their perfidy or of your 
opinions. Furthermore, what may be said against them 
strengthens and supports your statement, and there can never 

14 January 27, 417. 
1 An answer to Letter 177. 



LETTERS 133 

be lacking an argument to overcome them, since this 
wretched and impious heresy is such that it is overcome by 
the strength of our faith, and, more fully, by truth itself. He 
who has rejected and despised the whole hope of life, con- 
fusing his own heart with his hateful and damnable argument, 
by which he believes that there is nothing for him to receive 
from God, nothing left for him to ask for his own cure what 
is left for one who has bereft himself of this? 

If, then, there are some whom this great perversity has 
forced into self-defense, who surrender and join themselves 
to this teaching, hoping that it is part of Catholic doctrine, 
whereas it is far removed from it, and is proved to be com- 
pletely opposed to it, if these, infected by their words of 
exhortation, are led on to their ruin, they will hasten, as 
fast as they can, to return to the rightful path of the way, 
lest, if error besiege their mind too long, it may enter their 
senses as if it were food. For, if Pelagius, in whatever place 
he has stayed, has used this assertion to lead astray minds that 
easily and simply yield faith to an argument, whether they 
are here in the city 2 and, as we do not know, we can 
neither affirm nor deny this, since, even if they were here, 
they would stay in hiding and would never dare to defend 
him if he preached such things, nor would they boast of them 
before anyone of us, and in such a great crowd of people it 
would not be easy for anyone to be caught, nor would it be 
possible for anyone to be recognized anywhere or whether 
they live in any other part of the earth, we believe by the 
mercy and grace of God that it will be easy to convert them 
when they hear the condemnation of the one who has been 
found to be the stubborn and obstinate author of this dogma. 
It makes no difference where they may be, since they are to 
be cured wherever they can be found. 

Nevertheless, we cannot be convinced that Pelagius has 

2 Rome. 



134 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

been cleared, although a report has been brought to us by 
some laymen or other, according to which he believes that 
he has been heard and absolved. We doubt that this report 
is true, because it did not come with any subsequent notice 
of that council, 3 nor have we received any letters from those 
before whom he stated his case on this matter. But, if he had 
been able to put faith in his own acquittal, we believe that 
what he would more probably have done would be to oblige 
those who gave the verdict to publish it in letters something 
which was much more truly possible. 4 However, there are 
some points set forth in the minutes of the council which were 
offered as objections, and these he partly suppressed by 
leaving them out, partly wrapped in obscurity by twisting 
many words to his own advantage; other points, which were 
made by fallacious arguments rather than by true reasoning, 
as could be seen at the time, he changed by denying some 
and distorting others to a false meaning. 

What is most to be wished is that he would turn from the 
error of his way to the true way of the Catholic faith, that 
he would wish and choose to be acquitted by considering the 
daily grace of God and by recognizing His help, that it may 
appear true to all and be proved by plain reasoning that he 
has been converted from the heart to the Catholic faith, not 
merely rectified by the publication of a document! Hence, 
we can neither approve nor blame the verdict of those who 
judged him, since we do not know whether the minutes are 
authentic, and in case they are authentic it is clear that 
he has rather escaped by evasion than cleared himself by the 
full truth. If he trusts and knows that he does not deserve our 
condemnation as he says, or that he has now rebutted the 
whole of what he said formerly, then he ought not so much 

3 Of Diospolis. 

4 Cf. Augustine, De gratia Christiana et de peccato originali 2.10 
(CSEL 42.172.21-173.6). 



LETTERS 



135 



to be summoned by us as to hasten of his own accord so that 
he can be acquitted. But, if he still holds the same views, and 
if he is summoned by any kind of letter, would he ever 
trust himself to our judgment, knowing that he is to be 
condemned? On the other hand, if he were to be summoned, 
it would be better for it to be done through those who are 
nearest to him, who seem not to be separated from him by a 
wide range of country. Care will not be wanting if he gives 
a chance for healing. He can repudiate the views he held, 
and by sending a letter, as befits one who returns to us, can 
ask pardon for his error, dearest brothers. 

We have, of course, gone through the book said to be his 
which your Charity sent us. In it we have read many state- 
ments against the grace of God, many blasphemies; nothing 
that pleases, nothing that is not deeply displeasing, worthy of 
being condemned and trampled underfoot by all; the like 
of which, if he did not write it, no one else would admit 
to his mind and hold as an opinion. We do not think it 
necessary in this letter to argue more extensively about the 
law, as if Pelagius were present and opposing us, since we 
are speaking to you who know the law, 5 and who rejoice in 
mutual agreement with us. It will be better for us to adduce 
examples when we deal with those who are evidently un- 
acquainted with those matters. But to one who thinks cor- 
rectly about the power of nature, about free will, and the 
fullness of God's daily grace, it would not be very fruitful 
to discuss these things. Therefore, let him repudiate those 
views which he holds, so that those who have fallen into error 
through his talks and instruction may know at length what 
the true faith holds. They can more easily be reclaimed when 
they see that these errors are condemned by their very 
author. But, if he chooses to persist obstinately in this impiety, 
action must be taken to save those who have been led astray 

5 Rom. 7.1. 



136 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

by his error, not their own, lest this remedy be lost to them, 
since he neither recognizes nor asks for care such as this. 
May God keep you safe, dearest brothers. 6 
Given on the sixth day before the Kalends of February. 



184. Innocent to Aurelius and Augustine, bishops (417) 

The return of our most esteemed fellow priest, Germanus, 
should not be unaccompanied by some mark of our esteem. 
It seems to us in a sense a natural and reasonable thing to 
greet our dearest through those who are dear. Therefore, 
dearly beloved, we desire your Brotherhood to rejoice in the 
Lord, and we beg you to offer similar prayers for us to God, 
for, as you well know, we accomplish more through common 
and mutual prayer than we do through individual and 
private prayer. 



184A. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the beloved 
lords, his holy sons, Peter and Abraham 1 (417) 

Neither justice nor charity can or ought to belittle your 
holy zeal, which makes you think that I should look into 
many questions so that you may be well armed against the 
arguments of impiety, and may be strong to resist it. But one 
letter, however lengthy, could not contain a careful answer 
to all your questions. You know that in several of my works I 
have already answered, to the best of my ability, all or 
nearly all the points which you ask. If you read these and 
I hear that you have undertaken a life in the service of God, so 
that you have leisure for reading either the whole doctrine 

6 In another handwriting. 

1 Two monks. Peter was later an abbot in the province of Tripoli. 



LETTERS 137 

on these points will be clear to you, or not much of it will 
be lacking, especially as there is an inner teacher in you by 
whose grace you are what you are. For, how does man help 
man to learn anything, if we are not e taught of the Lord'? 2 
Still, in this letter, with the Lord's help, I shall not cheat your 
expectation of at least a short reply. 

The Lord said: c He that believeth and is baptized shall 
be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned. 33 If, 
then, when little children are baptized, these are no empty 
words but are truthfully acted on that these little ones may 
be included among the believers, and if, on the lips of all 
Christians, they are thenceforth called a new offspring, it is 
certain that if they do not believe, they will be condemned, 
and because they have added nothing to original sin by a 
bad life, for this reason it can rightly be said that in their 
condemnation they suffer the lightest of penalties, but not 
that they suffer none. If anyone thinks there will not be 
different penalties, let him read what is written: It will be 
more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for 
that city.' 4 Therefore, let no middle place for infants between 
the kingdom and the state of punishment be sought by 
deceivers, but let them pass over from the Devil to Christ, 
that is, from death to life, lest the wrath of God 5 rest upon 
them; from this wrath of God nothing but the grace of God 
can deliver them. But what is the wrath of God if not the 
due penalty and vengeance inflicted by a just God? God is 
not stirred by any emotion, as the changeable human soul is 
roused to anger; what is called the wrath of God is nothing 
else than the just penalty of sin, and it is no wonder that 
this should pass down to posterity. 

Now, the concupiscense of the flesh, in which men are 

2 Isa. 54.13; John 6.45. 

3 Mark 16.16. 

4 Matt. 10.5; 11.24. 

5 John 5.24; 3.36. 



138 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

begotten and conceived, did not exist prior to sin, nor would 
it have existed at all except that the disobedience of his own 
flesh followed upon the disobedience of man, as a reciprocal 
penalty. And although the blessing of marriage makes a 
good use of this evil, it is a fact that without it there cannot be 
a marriage, that is, a licit and honorable intercourse for the 
purpose of begetting children; but it would have been possible 
without it if human nature, by not sinning, had remained in 
that state in which it was created. For the sex organs, like 
other parts of the body, could have been stimulated to per- 
form their functions by an impulse of the will, not by the 
heat of passion. Who would claim that those words of God: 
'Increase and multiply/ 6 were intended as a curse on sinners, 
not a blessing on marriage? Therefore Christ was neither 
begotten nor conceived in this concupiscence, because His 
birth of the Virgin took place far differently. But I repeat 
that all men who are begotten, conceived, and born in this 
concupiscence must necessarily be reborn if they are to escape 
the penalty, because, even if a man is born of parents who 
are regenerated, his carnal birth cannot bestow on him what 
a spiritual rebirth bestowed on them; in the same way, the 
wild olive is produced not only from a wild olive, but even 
from the seed of the true olive, although the olive is not a 
wild olive. We have spoken at length on these points in 
other letters of ours, and I would rather you read them 
than oblige me to repeat the same things. 

It is a more laborious task to reply to infidels who are not 
bound by the authority of Christian books. Their wrong- 
headedness cannot be set right by the force of divine Scrip- 
tures; rather, the Scripture itself has often to be defended 
against them because it is too openly attacked by them. 
But if the Lord helps you to be persuasive, you will still 
make little progress among those whom you desire to see 

6 Gen. 1.22. 



LETTERS 139 

Christians if you merely overcome their unbelief by truthful 
arguments, unless you beg the gift of faith for them with 
suppliant prayers. And faith itself, as you surely know, is a 
gift of God, who allots to each one his measure of faith; it 
is such a gift that it requires the understanding to precede it. 
The Prophet is not deceived when he says: 'Unless you 
believe, you shall not understand. 57 And the Apostle prayed 
not only for the faithful but also for the unbelieving Jews, 
and asked only that they might believe 8 when he said: 
'Brethren, the will of my heart, indeed, and my prayer to 
God is for them unto salvation* ; & that is to say, he prayed 
for those who had put Christ to death, who would have 
killed him, too, if the power had been theirs, for men like 
those whom the Lord prayed for when He was mocked as 
He hung on the cross, 10 and whom blessed Stephen prayed 
for as he was being stoned. 11 

There are two classes of those unbelievers whom we call 
Gentiles, or, by a more commonly used word, pagans: those 
of one class prefer the superstitions which they invent to the 
Christian religion; those of the other class are hampered by 
no nominal religion. I have called attention to these in 
certain books of the City of God, of which, I think notice 
has come to you, and the remainder of which I am now 
laboring to finish, if the Lord wills, in the midst of my other 
duties. I have finished ten books long ones against the 
first class of pagans, whom the Apostle points out when he 
says: 'But the thing which the heathens sacrifice, they 
sacrifice to devils, not to God, 512 and whom he also certainly 
means when he says: 'They worshipped and served the 

7 C. Lsa. 7.9. 

8 Goldbacher notes a lacuna here, but the text is coherent without 
emendation. 

9 Rom. 10.1. 

10 Luke 23.34. 

11 Acts 7.59. 

12 1 Cor. 10.20. 



140 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

creature rather than the Creator/ 13 The first five volumes 
refute those who claim that it is necessary to worship many 
gods, not the one supreme and true God, in order to attain 
or retain earthly and temporal happiness in human affairs; 
the last five are directed against those who think to achieve 
the happiness which we hope for after this life by raising 
themselves up with swelling pride against the doctrine of 
salvation and by worshiping demons and many gods. Also, in 
three of the last five books we refute their well-known philos- 
ophers. The rest, as many as there will be after the eleventh 
of which three are finished and the fourth in hand will 
cover all that we hold and believe about the City of God, 
because we do not wish to give the impression of being 
satisfied with refuting the views of others without setting 
forth our own in this work. The fourth book after the first 
ten, that is, the fourteenth of the whole work, will have a 
solution, if the Lord wills, of all the questions which you 
have proposed in your letter. 

However, with the other class of unbelievers who either 
believe that there is no divine power or that it has nothing 
to do with human affairs, I am not sure that an argument 
should be undertaken on any subject of dutiful devotion, 
although hardly anyone can be found nowadays who is so 
foolish as to dare to say even in his own heart : 'There is no 
God.' 14 But other fools are not lacking who have said: 'The 
Lord shall not see, 515 that is, He does not extend His pro- 
vidence to these earthly affairs. Accordingly, in those books 
which I wish your Charity to read, along with the description 
of the City of God, if God wills and for whom He wills, I 
shall justify the belief that not only does God exist and 
this belief is so ingrained in nature that hardly any impiety 

IS Rom. 1,25. 

14 Ps. 13.1. 

15 Ps. 93.7. 



LETTERS 141 

ever tears it out but that He regulates human affairs, from 
governing men to rewarding the just with blessedness in the 
company of the holy angels and condemning the wicked to 
the lot of the bad angels. 

Therefore, dearly beloved, this letter must not be loaded 
down any further. We have pointed out clearly enough where 
you may hope to learn what you wish to know through our 
instrumentality, and if you do not yet possess those same 
books, we have taken steps, in proportion to our meager 
resources, to let you have them through our holy brother, 
my fellow priest, Firmus, 16 who has great affection for you, 
and has diligently recommended you to our affection, so 
that he may give thanks for your mutual love. 



785. 1 Augustine to Boniface, 2 tribune and count 
in Africa (417) 



On the Treatment of the Donatists* 



Chapter 1 

I praise and congratulate and admire you, my beloved 
son, Boniface, for your ardent desire to know the things that 

16 A monk who had spent some time in St. Jerome's monastery, and was 
the bearer of Letters 115, 134, and 194. 



1 Goldbacher gives no title of address to this letter; it is supplied from 
Migne. Augustine speaks of it in Retractations 2.48. 

2 Governor of Africa under Honorius and Placidia. 

3 In Retractations 2.48, Augustine says. *At the same time I wrote a 
book on the treatment of the Donatists, because of some who did not 
want them to be disciplined under the imperial laws.' This Letter 
represents the summary of his thought on the Donatists, 



1 42 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

are of God, in the midst of the cares of war and arms. 
Indeed, it is clear that this is what makes you serve, with 
that same military valor, the faith which you have in Christ. 4 
So, then, to explain briefly to your Charity the difference 
between the error of the Arians and that of the Donatists, 
the Arians say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit 
are different in substance, but the Donatists do not say 
this; they confess one substance in the Trinity. And if some of 
them say that the Son is inferior to the Father, they still do 
not deny that He is of the same substance, but most of 
them say that they believe of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit exactly what the Catholic Church believes. This 
question does not arise with them; what they quarrel about 
is union with the Church, and they stir up rebellion and 
enmity against the unity of Christ by persisting in their 
error. Some time ago, as we heard, some of them were trying 
to win over the Goths 5 to their side, and seeing that they 
could make some headway they said that they believed the 
same doctrines. But they are proved wrong by the authority 
of their elders, because there is no claim that Donatus 
himself, to whose sect they glory in belonging, held these 
beliefs. 

Chapter 2 

But do not be troubled by these things, my dearest son. 
It has been prophesied that there will be heresies and 
scandals/ that we may gain instruction in the midst of 
enemies, and so both our faith and our love may be more 

4 Philem. 1.5. 

5 They had been won over to the Arians shortly after their conversion, 
from barbarism. 

I 1 Cor. 1L19. 



LETTERS 14:3 

surely proved: our faith, of course, that we may not be 
deceived by them; our love, that we may provide for their 
amendment to the extent of our power. We must not only 
make an effort to free them from their abominable error 
and to keep them from harming the weak, but we must also 
pray for them that the Lord may open their minds and 
make them understand the Scriptures, because it is in the 
holy books that the Lord Christ is revealed, and His Church 
made manifest. In their extraordinary blindness they not 
only fail to know Christ Himself except in the Scriptures, 
they even fail to recognize the Church on the authority of the 
divine writings, and picture it to themselves according to the 
falsity of human misrepresentation. 



Chapter 3 

They agree with us in recognizing Christ when they read : 
'They have dug my hands and my feet; they have numbered 
all my bones. And they have looked and stared upon me. 
They parted my garments and upon my vesture they cast 
lots'; but they refuse to recognize the Church In the verses 
that follow shortly after: 'All the ends of the earth shall 
remember and shall be converted to the Lord and all the 
kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in his sight. For the 
kingdom is the Lord's and he shall have dominion over the 
nations. 51 With us they recognize Christ when they read: 
'The Lord hath said to me : Thou art my son, this day have I 
begotten thee,' and they refuse to recognize the Church in 
what follows: 'Ask of me and I will give thee the Gentiles 
for thy inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for thy 
possession.' 2 With us they recognize Christ in what the Lord 

1 Ps. 21.17-19,28,29. 

2 Ps. 2.7,8. 



1 44r SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Himself says in the Gospel; 'It behooved Christ to suffer 
and to rise again from the dead the third day,' and they 
refuse to recognize the Church in what follows: 'And that 
penance and remission of sins should be preached in his 
name unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem.' 3 There are 
other testimonies in the sacred books so numerous that I 
ought not to compress them into this book. And as the 
Lord Christ stands out in these, either as equal to the Father 
according to His divine nature, because, e ln the beginning 
was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word 
was God/ or in the humility of His assumed flesh, because 
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us'; 4 so His 
Church is manifest not in Africa alone, as the Donatists 
madly proclaim with their shameless pride, but as spread 
throughout the whole world. 



Chapter 4 

They prefer their quarrelsome contentions to the divine 
testimonies, and they have separated themselves from the 
Catholic Church, that is, from the unity of all nations, 
because of the case of Caecilian, 1 formerly bishop of the 
Church at Carthage, against whom they make charges which 
they neither could nor can prove. Yet, if the charges made 
by them against Caecilian had been true and could have 
been proved so at any time, we should have repudiated 
him even after his death, but we ought not thereupon, 
because of some man, forsake the Church of Christ which 
is not produced by litigious imaginations, but is based on 

3 Luke 24.46,47. 

4 John 1.U4. 

1 For an explanation of this controversy, cf. Letter 43 n. 5. 



LETTERS 145 

divine evidence, because c lt is good to confide in the Lord 
rather than to have confidence in man,' 2 For, even if Caecilian 
sinned and I say this without prejudice to his innocence 
Christ did not thereby lose His inheritance. It is easy for a 
man to believe either truth or falsehood about another man, 
but it is a sign of accursed shamelessness to wish to condemn 
the unity of the whole world because of a man's misdeeds 
which you cannot prove to the world. 



Chapter 5 

Whether Caecilian was ordained by betrayers of the divine 
books I do not know; I did not see it; I heard it from his 
enemies; it is not declared to me by the Law of God, or 
by the preaching of the Prophets, or by the holy Psalms, or 
by the Apostle of Christ, or by Christ's words. But the 
testimonies of the entire Scripture proclaim with one voice 
that the Church, with which the sect of Donatus is not in 
communion, is indeed spread throughout the entire world. 
'In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,' 1 
said the Law of God. Trom the rising of the sun even to 
the going down, there is offered to my name a clean offering, 
for my name is great among the Gentiles,' 2 said God through 
the Prophet. 'He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the 
river unto the ends of the earth,' 3 said God in the psalm. 
'Bringing forth fruit and growing in the whole world,' 4 said 
God through the Apostle. c You shall be witnesses unto me in 
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria^ and even to the 

2 Ps. 117.8. 

1 Gen. 22.18; 26.4. 

2 Mai. 1.11. 

3 Ps. 71.8. 

4 Col. 1.6. 



146 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

uttermost of the earth/ 5 said the Son of God with His own 
lips. Caecilian, bishop of the Church at Carthage, is accused 
in human lawsuits; the Church of Christ, established among 
all nations, is commended by divine pronouncements. Piety 
itself, truth, charity do not allow us to receive against 
Caecilian the testimony of those men whom we do not see in 
the Church to which God bears witness, for those who do 
not follow divine testimonies have lost the power of human 
testimony, 

Chapter 6 

I add the fact that they themselves carried the case of 
Caecilian to the judgment of Emperor Constantine on appeal; 
indeed, after the bishops' verdict, they even went so far as to 
hale Caecilian himself after they had failed to get him 
convicted to the tribunal of this emperor before his most 
persistent persecutors. And they themselves did first what 
they now blame in us, in order to deceive the unwary, saying 
that Christians ought not to ask any action on the part of 
Christian emperors against the enemies of Christ. Even in 
the conference which we had with them at Carthage they did 
not dare to deny on the contrary, they even dared to 
boast of it that their predecessors had brought a criminal 
charge against Caecilian to the emperor, adding, for good 
measure, the lie that they had won their case and brought 
about his conviction. In what sense, then, are they not 
persecutors who persecuted Caecilian with their accusation 
and lost their case to him, who then tried to claim false 
credit for themselves by a most shameless lie, and were so far 
from thinking this wrong that they boasted of it as if it were 
to their credit, so long as they could show that Caecilian 

5 Acts 1.8. 



LETTERS 



147 



had been convicted by the accusation of their predecessors? 
It would be a long task for you, occupied as you are with 
other matters necessary to the peace of Rome, to read how 
they were vanquished at every point in that conference, 
because the minutes of the meeting are excessively full, but 
perhaps it would be possible for you to have the summary 
read to you, which I believe my brother and fellow bishop 
Optatus 1 has, or, if he has not, he can get it for you very 
easily from the church at Sitifis. Even so, the book, which is 
detailed, might prove to be a burden to you in the midst of 
your cares. 

Chapter 7 

The same thing happened to the Donatists as happened to 
the accusers of holy Daniel. Just as the lions were turned 
against the latter, 1 so the laws by which they tried to oppress 
the innocent were turned against the former, except that, by 
the mercy of Christ, those laws which seemed to be against 
them were rather favorable to them, since many through 
them have been and are daily being converted, who now 
give thanks both for their conversion and for their deliverance 
from that raging destruction. And those who hated now love, 
and where formerly they swore in their madness that these 
most salutary laws were hurtful to them, in the same measure 
they now rejoice over their restored sanity. They are now 
animated by a love like ours toward the remainder of their 
number with whom they were on the verge of destruction, and 
they urge us to put pressure on them lest they perish. The 
physician is hateful to the madman in a frenzy, as the father is 
to his rebellious son, the one because he ties him down, the 

1 One of the bishops present at the Council of Zerta; cf. Letter 141. 
1 Dan. 6.24. 



148 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

other because he beats him, yet both do it out of love. But, if 
they neglected their charges and left them to destroy them- 
selves, that would rather be a false and cruel kindness. If the 
horse and the mule that have no understanding' 3 use bites 
and kicks to fight against the men who are treating their 
wounds in order to heal them, and if these men, though often 
endangered and injured by their teeth and hooves, do not 
leave off until they have restored health by their painful and 
harsh remedies, how much more should man be succored by 
man, and brother by brother, lest he perish eternally, since 
he can understand, once he is set right, what a great benefit 
was conferred on him while he was complaining of suffering 
persecution ! 

Chapter 8 

In the same way, therefore, the Apostle says: 'Let us not 
fail, while we have time, let us work good to all men/ 1 Let 
those who can do so achieve this by their sermons as Catholic 
preachers; let others who can do so achieve it by their laws 
as Catholic rulers. Thus, partly by obedience to the divine 
warnings, partly by compliance with the imperial decrees, all 
will be called to salvation, all will be called back from destruc- 
tion. And the reason for this is that, when emperors pass bad 
laws favoring falsehood and opposing truth, staunch believers 
are tested and faithful champions are crowned; but, when 
they pass good laws favoring truth and opposing falsehood, the 
cruel extremists are constrained by fear and the intelligent are 
converted. Therefore, whoever refuses to obey the imperial 
laws which are passed for the protection of God's truth incurs 
grave punishment. For, in the times of the Prophets, all the 

2 PS. 31.8. 

1 Gal. 6.9,10. 



LETTERS 149 

kings among the people of God who failed to annul or repeal 
decrees which had been passed contrary to the commandment 
of God are blamed, and those who did annul and repeal 
them receive praise beyond what others deserve. When King 
Nabuchodonosor was the slave of idols, he passed a sac- 
rilegious law requiring a statue to be adored, but those who 
refused to obey this impious statute acted with piety and 
faith. Then the same king, converted by a divine miracle, 
published a praiseworthy law in favor of truth, that whoever 
should speak blasphemy against the true God of Sidrach, 
Misach, and Abdenago should be utterly destroyed, together 
with his house. 2 If any of his subjects despised this law and 
deservedly suffered what had been decreed, they must have 
said what the Donatists now say, that they were just men 
because they suffered persecution according to the king's law. 
No doubt they would have said it if they had been as mad 
as these are, who bring division among the members of Christ 
and pour scorn upon the sacraments of Christ; who boast of 
being persecuted because the imperial laws, enacted to protect 
the unity of Christ, prevent them from doing such things; 
who falsely vaunt their innocence and seek from men the 
glory of martyrdom which they cannot receive from Christ. 



Chapter 9 

The true martyrs are those of whom the Lord says: 
'Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake.' 1 
Therefore, it is not those who suffer for the sake of injustice 
and the impious division of Christian unity, but those who 
suffer persecution for justice' sake who are truly martyrs. 

2 Dan. 3.5-96. 
1 Matt. 5.10. 



150 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Agar suffered persecution from Sarai, yet the one who per- 
secuted was holy and she who suffered was sinful. 2 Is that 
any reason for comparing the persecution suffered by Agar 
to that with which the wicked Saul afflicted holy David? 3 
Obviously, there is a very great difference, not because 
David suffered, but because he suffered for justice' sake. And 
the Lord Himself was crucified among thieves, 4 but, though 
they were alike in suffering, they were different in the reason 
for suffering. Therefore, in the psalm we must understand 
the voice of the true martyr wishing to be distinguished from 
false martyrs: 'Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause 
from the nation that is not holy.' 5 He does not say 'distinguish 
my punishment,' but 'distinguish my cause. 3 For, the punish- 
ment of the wicked can be the same but the cause of the 
martyrs is not the same, and their cry is: 'They have per- 
secuted me unjustly; do thou help me. 56 The Psalmist thinks 
himself worthy of being justly helped because they persecuted 
unjustly, for, if they persecuted justly, he would not be 
worthy of help but of chastisement. 



Chapter 10 

But, if the Donatists think that no one can persecute anyone 
justly, as they said at the conference that the true Church 
was the one that suffered, not the one that practised per- 
secution, I forbear to say what I have said elsewhere, 1 because, 
if what they say is true, Caecilian belonged to the true 
Church when their predecessors persecuted him by bringing 

2 Gen. 16.6. 

3 1 Kings 18.8-29. 

4 Matt. 27.38; Mark 15.27; Luke 23.33. 

5 Ps. 42.1. 

6 Ps. 118.86. 



1 Cf. Augustine, Ad Donatistas post conlationem 16.20. 



LETTERS 151 

an accusation against him to the emperor's tribunal. The 
reason why we say that he belonged to the true Church was 
not that he suffered persecution, but that he suffered it for 
justice' sake, while, on the other hand, they have been 
estranged from the Church not because they persecuted, but 
because they persecuted unjustly. This, therefore, we say: 
that if they do not look into the reasons which induce anyone 
either to persecute or to suffer persecution, and if they think 
it is a sign of a true Christian not to persecute but to suffer 
persecution, without doubt they include CaecUian in that 
definition because he suffered persecution, he did not per- 
secute; whereas they exclude their predecessors from their 
definition because they persecuted, they did not suffer per- 
secution. 

Chapter 11 

But, as I said, I pass over that, and I do say this: that if 
the true Church is the one which suffers persecution, not the 
one which inflicts it, let them ask of the Apostle what Church 
Sara signified when she persecuted her handmaid. He says 
plainly that the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is 
our mother, that is, the true Church of God, and that it is 
prefigured by the woman who afflicted her handmaid. But, 
if we were to state the argument more correctly, it was rather 
she who persecuted Sara by her haughtiness than Sara who 
persecuted her by restraining her; the one did an injury to 
her mistress, the other imposed restraint on pride. 1 In the 
second place I ask, if the good and holy never persecute any- 
one but only suffer persecution, whose voice do they think 
that is in the psalm where we read: 'I will pursue after my 
enemies and overtake them, and I will not turn again until 
they are consumed/ 2 If, then, we are willing to speak or to 

1 Gal. 4.21-31. 

2 Ps. 17.38. 



152 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

acknowledge the truth, there is an unjust persecution which 
the wicked inflict on the Church of Christ, and there is a 
just persecution which the Church of Christ inflicts on the 
wicked. She, indeed, is happy because she suffers persecution 
for justice' sake, but they are unhappy because they suffer 
persecution for injustice 3 sake. Therefore she persecutes out 
of love, they out of hatred; she to correct them, they to 
overturn her; she to reclaim them from error, they to hurl 
men into error; finally she pursues her enemies and catches 
them until they give up their folly and make progress in truth, 
but they, repaying good with evil, try to rob us of even our 
temporal life because we take measures to assure them 
eternal salvation, being so in love with murder that they 
even commit it on themselves when they cannot murder any- 
one else. While, on the one hand, the charity of the Church 
strives to deliver from that perdition so that none of them 
may die, on the other, their fury strives either to kill us in 
order to feed their passion for cruelty, or to kill themselves 
that they may not seem to have lost the power of killing men. 



Chapter 12 

People unfamiliar with their way of acting imagine that 
they have taken to committing suicide only now, when such 
throngs of people are being set free from their fanatical 
domination through the opportunity of the laws enacted in 
behalf of unity. But those who know how they used to act 
before the laws were passed are not surprised at their dying 
when they recall their vying with one another in evil. 1 More 
especially when there was idol worship, they used to come in 
great hordes to the crowded ceremonies of the pagans, not 
to break the idols, but to be killed by the worshipers of idols. 

1 One of Augustine's puns: Non eorum mirantur mortes, sed recordantur 
mores. 



LETTERS 153 

If they had received authority to break the idols and tried 
to do it, then, if anything happened to them, they might have 
had some kind of shadow of the name of martyr, but they 
came solely to be killed, leaving the idols intact, for there 
were some particular worshipers of the idols, robust youths, 
who had the custom of dedicating to the idols as many 
victims as each one killed. Some, indeed, in order to be killed, 
mingled with armed wayfarers, making horrible threats of 
striking them if they were not killed by them. Sometimes, 
too, when judges were passing through, they used violence 
to extort commands from them that they should be struck 
down by executioners or by a court official In this connection, 
a story is told of one official who tricked them by ordering 
them to be bound and handed over as if to blows, and then 
escaped their attack unhurt and unbloody. Then it was also 
their daily sport to kill themselves by jumping off steep crags, 
or by fire or water. The Devil taught them these three kinds 
of death, so that, when they wished to die and could find no 
one to frighten into killing them with a sword, they should 
hurl themselves from rocks or expose themselves to fire and 
water. For, who else was in possession of their heart, of whom 
else is it believable that he taught them these things except 
the one who suggested to our Saviour, as if it accorded with 
the Law, that He should cast Himself headlong from the 
pinnacle of the Temple? 2 They would certainly repudiate this 
imputation if they carried Christ in their heart. But, because 
they have made room instead for the Devil within them, 
they either perish as that herd of swine which the legion of 
demons rushed down the mountainside into the sea, 3 or, 
rescued from those deaths, they are gathered into the loving 
bosom of their Catholic mother, and delivered, as the Lord 

2 Matt. 4.5-7; Luke 4.9-15. 

3 Matt. 8.32; Mark 5.13. 



154 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

delivered the demoniac boy whom his father brought to be 
healed of the demon's hold, saying that sometimes he was 
used to cast him into the water, sometimes into fire. 4 



Chapter 13 

Consequently, a great mercy is being done them by these 
imperial laws by which they are first rescued, in spite of 
themselves, from the sect In which they have learned those 
evil practices through the teaching of lying demons, in order 
that they may afterward be healed in the Catholic fold by 
good teachings and may become habituated to good behavior. 
There are many of them whose fervent faith, piety, and 
charity we now wonder at in the unity of Christ, who give 
thanks to God with deep joy that they have been freed from 
that error in which they had believed that evil was good, 
but they would not now offer those thanks voluntarily unless 
they had been severed involuntarily from that abominable 
company. What shall be said of those who confess to us 
every day that they had long wanted to be Catholics, but 
could not be what they wanted, being overpowered with fear 
of those among whom they lived, because, if they had said 
one word in defense of the Catholic faith, both they and 
their homes would have been completely destroyed? No one 
is so mad as to say that they ought not to have been helped 
by the imperial decrees to escape from so great an evil, while 
those whom they feared are forced to fear in their turn, and 
by this fear are either converted themselves or at least pre- 
tend to be converted, and leave the converts in peace by 
whom they were formerly feared. 

4 Matt. 17.1448; Mark 9.16-26. 



LETTERS 155 

Chapter 14 

But, if they tried to kill themselves to prevent those who 
were to be delivered from being delivered, aiming in this 
way to deter the devoted affection of the deliverers, and if, 
by creating a fear that some of the fanatics would destroy 
themselves, they tried to prevent any rescue from perdition 
of those who were either no longer willing to perish or could 
be saved from it by coercion, what course does Christian 
charity take, especially when those who madly threaten to 
take their own lives are very few in comparison with the 
throngs of those who are to be delivered? What course does 
fraternal love take? Surely, it does not abandon all to the 
eternal fires of hell because it fears the transitory fires of 
furnaces for a few, nor does it abandon to eternal doom so 
many who now wish, or will wish afterward, in spite of their 
weakness, to come to everlasting life through Catholic peace, 
because it is trying to ward off suicide from a few whose life 
is an obstacle to salvation for others. These do not allow men 
to live according to the teaching of Christ, but, according to 
the practice of their diabolical doctrine, they try to teach 
them, at any and every time, to rush into the voluntary 
death which is feared for themselves. Surely, the Church saves 
those whom it can, even if those whom it cannot save perish 
by their own act. It ardently longs that all may live, but 
toils even more ardently that all may not perish. Thanks be 
to the Lord that among us, not indeed everywhere, but in a 
great many places, as also in other parts of Africa, Catholic 
peace makes and has made headway without any of those 
deaths of madmen. But those disastrous happenings occur in. 
the parts where the insane and useless kind of men live, who 
have been accustomed to act that way at other times. 



156 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 15 

And Indeed, even before those laws were enacted by 
Catholic emperors, the doctrine of the peace and unity of 
Christ was gradually spreading, and many a one, as he 
learned of it and found the inclination and ability, came 
over to the Church from that sect, although it is true that 
among them unbridled bands of abandoned men disturbed 
the peace of the innocent in various cases. What master was 
not forced to fear his own slave if once he fled for refuge to 
their patronage? Who would even dare to threaten a de- 
structive servant or his instigator? Who could dismiss a 
wasteful warehouseman, or any debtor, if he sought their 
help and protection? Under fear of clubs and fires and instant 
death, the records of worthless slaves were torn up so that 
they could go free. Receipts extorted from debtors were 
returned. Whoever scorned their harsh words were forced 
by harsher blows to do what they ordered. Innocent men who 
had offended them had their houses razed to the ground or 
burned down. Some land-owners of honorable birth and 
gentlemanly breeding were dragged off half -dead after scourg- 
ing, or were tied to a mill-stone and forced by blows to turn 
it as if they were beasts of burden. What help from civil laws 
or local authorities had any effect on them? What court 
officer was zealous for his duty in their presence? What 
tax-gatherer collected taxes from them against their will? 
Who would attempt to avenge the murdered victims of their 
beatings, unless his own madness called for punishment from 
them, while some were going around trying to turn men's 
swords against themselves by terrifying the owners under 
threat of death into striking them, and others were hurling 
themselves to self-destruction over cliffs or into water and 
fire, and exposing their cruel souls to the punishment brought 
upon themselves? 



LETTERS 157 

Chapter 16 

A large number of those who belonged to that heretical 
superstition shuddered at such excesses, and when they 
thought their innocence was shown by their displeasure at 
such deeds, the Catholics said to them: 'If those evil deeds 
do not defile your innocence, how can you say that the 
Christian world was defiled by the false, or at least unknown, 
sins of Caecilian? How can you separate yourselves by a 
wicked crime from Catholic unity, as from the Lord's thresh- 
ing floor, which, until the time of winnowing, must needs 
contain both the grain which is to be gathered into the barn 
and the chaff which is to be consumed in the fire?' 1 Thus to 
certain ones a reason is given why some came over to Catholic 
unity, ready to bear even the enmity of the fanatics, but 
many more, although they wished to, did not dare to make 
enemies of the men who had such scope for their cruetly. 
Indeed, some suffered most cruelly at their hands when they 
came over to us. 

Chapter 17 

It even happened at Carthage that, when a certain deacon 
of theirs, named Maximian, 1 had revolted against his bishop, 
some of the bishops of the same sect made a schism, split off 
some of the people of Carthage who were of the party of 
Donatus, and ordained him bishop in opposition to his own 
bishop. But as this displeased many of theirs, they condemned 
Maximian, together with twelve other bishops who had 
assisted at his ordination, but offered the other members of 
the same schismatic band the opportunity of returning to 

1 Matt. 3.12; Luke 3.17. 



1 Cf. Letter 45 n. 52, 



158 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

them by a fixed date. But, afterward, they received back to 
their clerical rank some of those very twelve, as well as others 
to whom an extension of time had been granted; they did this 
for the sake of peace in their own group, even though these 
returned after the appointed day. In addition to that, they 
did not dare to rebaptize some whom the condemned had 
baptized outside their communion. This conduct of theirs 
began to tell so heavily against them and for the Catholics 
that their mouths were completely shut. When this circum- 
stance, so fitting to win the minds of men away from 
schism, was published more insistently and in every possible 
direction, and when it was shown by the speeches and 
arguments of Catholics that they, for the sake of peace in 
Donatisrn, had received back their own condemned members 
with rank intact, and had not dared to invalidate the baptism 
given outside their church by their condemned or suspended 
members, yet did dare to oppose the peace of Christ and to 
charge the whole world with the defilement of some evil-doers 
or other, and also to invalidate the baptism given in those 
Churches from which the very Gospel came to Africa, large 
numbers of their sectaries were embarrassed before the 
manifest truth and began to show more frequent signs of 
amendment, especially in places where freedom had a breath- 
ing spell from their cruelty. 



Chapter 18 

Then truly their anger blazed forth so violently, and they 
were goaded on by such barbs of hatred, that hardly any of 
the churches of our communion were safe from their intrigues, 
their acts of violence, their bare-faced robberies; hardly any 
road was safe for travel by anyone who had preached Catholic 



LETTERS 159 

peace as opposed to their fury, or who had shown up their 
madness by the clear light of truth. This went so far that 
not only laymen, or occasional clerics, but the very bishops 
themselves had to meet in some fashion their harsh alterna- 
tive: either silence truth or endure their barbarity. If truth 
were silenced, not only would no one have been delivered 
by its silence, but many would be lost through their mis- 
leading doctrine. If, on the other hand, their fury were 
roused to savage excess by the preaching of truth, after 
some had been delivered and ours had been strengthened, 
fear would again prevent the timid from following the 
truth. Therefore, if anyone thinks that, after affliction had 
reduced the Church to these straits, we should have endured 
everything rather than appeal for the help of God, to be 
effected through Christian emperors, he overlooks the fact 
that no good reason could have been given for this negligence. 



Chapter 19 

Those who are averse to having just laws enacted against 
their own wicked deeds say that the Apostles did not call 
on the kings of the earth for such services; but they fail to 
notice that times were different then, and that all things have 
to be done at their own times. At that time there was no 
emperor who believed in Christ, or who would have served 
Him by enacting laws in favor of religion and against 
irreligion; it was the time when that prophetic utterance was 
fulfilled : 'Why have the Gentiles raged and the people devised 
vain things? The kings of the earth stood up and the princes 
met together, against the Lord and against his Christ.' Not 
yet had that come to pass which is spoken of a little further 
on in the same psalm: 'And now, O ye kings understand; 
receive instruction you that judge the earth. Serve ye the 



160 SAINT AUGU STINE 

Lord with fear, and rejoice unto him with trembling.' 1 How, 
then, do kings serve the Lord with fear except by forbidding 
and restraining with religious severity all acts committed 
against the commandments of the Lord? A sovereign serves 
God one way as man, another way as king; he serves Him 
as man by living according to faith, he serves Him as king 
by exerting the necessary strength to sanction laws which 
command goodness and prohibit its opposite. It was thus that 
Ezechias served Him by destroying the groves and temples 
of idols and the high places which had been set up contrary to 
the commandments of God; 2 thus Josias served Him by per- 
forming similar acts; 3 thus the king of the Ninevites served 
Him by compelling the whole city to appease the Lord; 4 
thus Darius served Him by giving Daniel power to break 
the idol, and by feeding his enemies to the lions; 5 thus 
Nabuchodonosor, of whom we spoke above, served Him when 
he restrained all his subjects from blaspheming God by a 
terrible penalty. 6 It is thus that kings serve the Lord as kings 
when they perform acts in His service which none but kings 
can perform. 

Chapter 20 

Since, then, kings did not yet serve the Lord in the times 
of the Apostles, but were still devising vain things against 
Him and against His Christ, so that all the predictions of 
the Prophets might be fulfilled, certainly they were not then 
able to restrain wickedness by law, but were practising it 
themselves. The sequence of time was so unrolled that the 

1 Ps. 2.1,2,9,10. 

2 4 Kings 18.4. 

$ 4 Kings 23.4.20. 

4 Jonas 3.6-9. 

5 Dan. 14.21,41. 

6 Dan. 3.96. 



LETTERS 161 

Jews killed the preachers of Christ, thinking they were doing 
a service to God, 1 as Christ had foretold, and the Gentiles 
raged against the Christians, and the patience of the martyrs 
won the victory. But after the prophetic words began to be 
fulfilled, as it is written: And all the kings of the earth shall 
adore him; all nations shall serve him, 52 what serious-minded 
man would say to kings: { Do not trouble to care whether 
the Church of your Lord is hampered or attacked by anyone 
in your kingdom; let it not concern you whether a man 
chooses to practise or to flout religion 5 ? For it would not be 
possible to say to them: 'Let it not concern you whether 
anyone in your kingdom chooses to be virtuous or shameless.' 
Why, then, since free will has been divinely bestowed on 
man, should adultery be punished by law and sacrilege 
permitted? Is it a lesser matter for a soul to keep faith with 
God than for a woman to keep it with her husband? Or if 
offenses committed, not through contempt but through igno- 
rance of religion, are to be punished more leniently, is that 
any reason for overlooking them altogether? 



Chapter 21 

Does anyone doubt that it is better for man to be led to 
the worship of God by teaching rather than forced to it by 
fear of suffering? Because the former group is preferable it 
does not follow that those of the latter, who are not like 
them, should be neglected. We have proved by experience 
and do still prove that it has been a blessing to many to be 
driven first by fear of bodily pain, in order afterward to be 
instructed, or to follow up in act what they have learned in 
words. Some objectors suggest to us the sentiment of a 

1 John 1.62. 

2 Ps. 71.11. 



162 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

certain secular writer who said: I believe it is better to 
train children by feelings of self-respect and decent outlook 
rather than of fear. 31 This is indeed true, but if those whom 
love leads are better, those whom fear restrains are more 
numerous. They can be answered from the same author in the 
passage which reads: c You cannot do anything right unless 
you are compelled by fear of harm, 52 But divine Scripture 
has this to say about the better group : 'Fear is not in charity, 
but perfect charity casteth out fear,' 3 and this about the 
inferior group who are more numerous: *A hard-hearted 
slave will not be corrected by words, for if he understandeth 
he will not obey.' 4 When it said that he is not corrected by 
words, it did not command him to be given up, but warned 
silently of what needed correction; otherwise, it would not 
say : 'He will not be corrected by words.' In another passage 
it says that the unruly son, as well as the slave, is to be 
restrained by blows to his own great profit, in the words: 
Thou shalt beat him with the rod and deliver his soul from 
death;' and elsewhere it says: 'He that spareth the rod 
hateth his own son/ 5 Give me one who can say with upright 
faith and true understanding and all the strength of his soul: 
*My soul hath thirsted after the living God; when shall I 
come and appear before the face of God?' 6 For such a one 
no fear will be necessary, either of temporal penalties or of 
imperial laws or even of hell, because to him it is so desirable 
a good 'to stick close to God 57 that not only does he shrink 
from being separated from that happiness as from a great 
torture, but he feels it as a trial that it is delayed. However, 

1 Terence, Adelphoe 57,58. 

2 Terence, unidentified line. 

3 1 John 4.18. 

4 Cf. Prov. 23.14. 

5 Prov. 23.14; 

6 Ps. 41.3. 

7 Ps. 72.28. 



LETTERS 163 

before the good sons can say: e We have a desire to be 
dissolved and to be with Christ/ 8 many wicked servants and 
worthless runaways, so to speak, are called back to their 
Lord by the lash of temporal scourges. 



Chapter 22 

Who can love us more than Christ who laid down His life 
for His sheep? 1 Nevertheless, although He called Peter and 
the other Apostles by word alone, 2 in the case of Paul, pre- 
viously Saul, a dread destroyer of the Church, and afterward 
its great builder. He not only compelled him by words, but 
used His power to strike him prostrate, and in order to force 
him to leave off the savagery of his dark unbelief and to 
desire the light of his heart He afflicted him with corporeal 
blindness. If it had not been for that punishment, he would 
not have been healed of it afterward, and since he saw nothing 
though his eyes were open, if he had been able to see, Ananias 
would not have laid his hands upon him that his sight might 
be restored, when, as Scripture relates, there fell from his 
eyes, as it were, scales with which they had been closed. 3 
What ground is there for the cry generally raised by schis- 
matics: 'There is freedom to believe or not to believe: did 
Christ use force on anyone? did He compel anyone?' See, 
now they have the Apostle Paul; let them acknowledge in 
him Christ first compelling and afterward teaching, first 
striking and afterward consoling. It is a wonderful thing how 
he who came to the Gospel under the compulsion of bodily 

8 Phil. 1.23. 



1 John 10.15, 

2 Matt. 4.18-22; Mark L16-20; Luke 5.10; John 1.35.43. 

3 Acts 9.1-18. 



1 64 SAINT AUGU STINE 

suffering labored more in the Gospel than all the others 4 who 
were called by word alone, and that in him whom greater 
fear drove to love 'perfect charity casteth out fear.' 5 



Chapter 23 

Why, then, should the Church not compel her lost sons to 
return if the lost sons have compelled others to be lost? And 
yet, even in the case of those whom they have not compelled 
but only enticed, if they are called back to the bosom of the 
Church by stern but salutary laws, their loving mother 
embraces them more kindly and rejoices much more over 
them than over those whom she has never lost. Is it no part 
of the shepherd's care when he has found those sheep, also, 
which have not been rudely snatched away but have been 
gently coaxed and led astray from the flock, and have begun 
to be claimed by others, to call them back to the Lord's sheep- 
fold, by threats or pain of blows if they try to resist? And 
especially if their numbers are increased by fruitful generation 
in the midst of runaway slaves and bandits, has he not more 
authority over them because he recognizes on them the brand 
mark of the Lord which is not tampered with in those whom 
we receive back without rebaptism? The wandering of the 
sheep is to be remedied without destroying in it the mark of 
the Redeemer. But, if anyone is branded with the royal mark 
by a deserter who has himself been branded, and if they 
both find mercy and the one returns to his service, while the 
other begins a service which he had not yet undertaken, the 
mark is not erased in either of them. In fact, is it not rather 
recognized in both of them and accorded due honor since it 
is the king's mark? As the Donatists cannot prove that what 

4 1 Cor. 15.10. 

5 1 John 4.18. 



LETTERS 165 

they are forced to is evil, they claim that they ought not to 
be forced into good. But we have shown that Paul was forced 
by Christ; therefore, the Church imitates her Lord in forcing 
them, although in her early days she did not expect to have 
to compel anyone in order to fulfill the prophetic utterance, 1 



Chapter 24 

Indeed, this is not an unreasonable deduction from that 
statement of the Apostle, where blessed Paul says: 'Having 
in readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience 
shall be fulfilled.' 1 In the same way, the Lord Himself 
commands the guests first to be brought in to His great 
supper, but afterward to be compelled, for, when the servant 
answered the king; 'Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded 
and yet there is room/ he said: 'Go out into the highways 
and hedges and whomsoever you find, compel them to come 
in.' 2 Thus, the obedience was first fulfilled in those who were 
first brought in gently, but the disobedience is put under 
restraint in those who are compelled. That is the purpose of 
that: 'Compel them to come in,' after he had first said: 
'Bring them in,' and had been answered: 'It is done as thou 
hast commanded and yet there is room.' If He meant us to 
understand that they are to be compelled by the fear 
engendered by miracles, many more divine miracles were 
wrought for those who were invited first, especially the Jews, 
of whom it is said: 'The Jews require signs.' 3 Among the 
Gentiles, too, in the time of the Apostles, such miracles won 
faith in the Gospel, so that, if the command was given to 

l PS. 7i.il. 

1 2 Cor. 10.6. 

2 Luke 14.16-23. 

3 1 Cor. 1.22. 



166 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

compel them by such means, it is more reasonable to believe 
that the first guests were compelled to come. Consequently, if 
the Church, in the era of kings, exercises, as she ought, the 
power which she has received by a divine gift, together with 
religion and faith, and if those who are found in the highways 
and hedges, that is, in heresies and schisms, are compelled 
to come in, she is not to be blamed for compelling them, 
but they for waiting to be compelled. The banquet of the 
Lord is the unity of the Body of Christ, not only in the 
sacrament of the altar, but also in the 'bond of peace/ 4 But 
of the Donatists we can say with absolute truth that they 
compel no one to what is good; whomsoever they compel, 
they compel only to evil. 



Chapter 25 

To tell the truth, before those laws came into Africa by 
which they are compelled to come in, it seemed to some of the 
brethren and to me among them that, although the Dona- 
tist heresy raged everywhere, it would be better not to petition 
the emperors to suppress that heresy altogether by enacting 
a penalty for those who should persist in it, but they should 
rather decree that those who either preached Catholic truth 
by word of mouth or spread it by enactment should not 
have to suffer the mad violence of these men. We thought 
this could be accomplished to some extent in this way: if 
the authorities would apply directly to the Donatists who 
deny that they are heretics the law which Theodosius, of 
pious memory, promulgated against all heretics in general, to 
the effect that any bishop or cleric of theirs wherever found 
should pay a fine of ten pounds in gold. At the same time, 
not all were to be subject to that fine, but only those in 

4 Eph. 4.3. 



LETTERS 167 

whose districts the Catholic Church had to suffer some form 
of violence at the hands of their clerics, their Circumcellions, 
or their people. 1 This would happen, namely, after a protest 
on the part of Catholics who had suffered such excesses, and 
it would be the duty of local officials to see that Donatist 
bishops or other ministers were obliged to pay the fine. Our 
idea was that if they were frightened in this manner, and 
so did not dare to commit such acts, there would be freedom 
for the Catholic truth to be taught and embraced, so that 
no one would be forced to it, but any who wished might follow 
it without fear, and thus we should not have any false or 
feigned Catholics. And despite the difference of opinion of 
some of the brethren, men advanced in age or impressed by 
the example of many cities and localities where we could see 
a strong and true Catholic Church founded and established 
on such blessings of God as were afforded by the laws of 
former emperors forcing men to the Catholic communion, 
we nevertheless carried our point, and the request I mentioned 
above was made to the emperors. This was decreed in our 
council and an embassy was sent to the court. 2 



Chapter 26 

But the greater mercy of God brought it about that our 
ambassadors did not get what they had undertaken to 
secure, since He knew how necessary to the depraved and 
cold minds of many was the fear inspired by these laws, and 
a certain remedial harassment necessary, too, to overcome 
that hardness of heart which cannot be influenced by words 
but only by some degree of disciplinary sternness. Ours were 
anticipated by some very serious complaints from bishops of 

1 Cf. Letter 88. 

2 Cf. Letter 139. 



1 68 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

other districts, who had suffered many outrages and been 
turned out of their sees by the Donatists; particularly revolt- 
ing and unbelievable was the maltreatment of Maximian, 
Catholic Bishop of Bagai. It left our embassy with nothing 
to transact, for a law had already been promulgated to the 
effect that the Donatist heresy was guilty of such monstrous 
conduct that to spare it seemed a greater cruelty than any 
perpetrated by it; that it should not only be restrained from 
violence but should not be allowed to exist at all under the 
protection of the laws. However, the death penalty was not 
to be invoked, because Christian moderation was to be 
observed even toward those unworthy of it, but fines were to 
be imposed and exile was decreed against their bishops and 
ministers. 

Chapter 27 

In the case of the above-mentioned Bishop of Bagai, there 
had been a case in the civil court, and the verdict awarded 
him the basilica which the Donatists had taken over, although 
it was Catholic. As he stood at the altar, they rushed upon 
him with terrifying force, and with furious cruelty they 
struck him inhumanly with clubs and other weapons of that 
sort, even with wooden beams broken from the very altar. 
They stabbed him in the groin with a dagger, and his life 
would have ebbed away with the blood from this wound if 
their further savagery had not saved his life. For, as they 
dragged him along the ground, grievously wounded as he 
was, the dirt clogged the bleeding vein and stopped the flow 
of blood which was bringing him to death. Then, when they 
had left him, and ours were trying to carry him away, to the 
accompaniment of psalms, their anger blazed forth more 
fiercely; they snatched him from the hands of his bearers, 
driving the Catholics away with kicks an easy matter for 



LETTERS 169 

them as they surpassed them in number and in barbarism. 
Finally, thinking him dead, they tossed him up into a tower 
and went off. But he was still living, having fallen on a 
heap of somethting soft. During the night he was discovered 
by the light of a lamp carried by some passersby, was rec- 
ognized, rescued, and carried to a religious house, where he 
was carefully tended. After a long time he recovered from 
his desperate plight. However, the report that he had been 
killed by the Donatists had already crossed the sea; later, he 
arrived in person, showing himself alive, contrary to all 
expectation, but the sight of his scars, so numerous, so 
extensive, so fresh, made it seem that there had been good 
ground for the report of his death. 



Chapter 28 

He therefore asked help from a Christian emperor, not so 
much to avenge himself as to protect the Church entrusted 
to him. If he had refrained from doing so, his patience would 
not have been a subject of praise, while his negligence would 
deservedly have been a subject of blame. The Apostle Paul 
was not thinking of his own transitory life, but of the Church 
of God, when he undertook to reveal to the tribune the plot 
of those who had conspired to kill him, and, as a consequence, 
he was escorted by an armed guard to the place where he 
was to go, thereby escaping their ambush. 1 He had not the 
least hesitation in calling on Roman law by declaring himself 
a Roman citizen, whom it was not lawful at that time to 
scourge. 2 Likewise, he appealed to the help of Caesar to 
save himself from being given over to the Jews who were 
eager to kill him and this was a Roman prince, not a 

1 Acts 23.12,32. 

2 Acts 22.24-29. 



170 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Christian one. 3 By this he showed clearly what the ministers 
of Christ were to do afterward,, in times of crisis for the 
Church, when they should find their rulers Christian. From 
this it followed that, when such cases were brought to his 
notice, a religious and devout emperor preferred to effect a 
complete reformation of that impious aberration by stringent 
religious laws and to force those who carried the standard 
of Christ against Christ to return to Catholic unity, under 
stress of fear and compulsion, rather than merely to cut off 
their opportunity for savage cruelty and leave them free to go 
astray and be lost. 4 

Chapter 29 

As soon as those laws were promulgated in Africa, there 
was an immediate conversion to the Church, especially of 
those who only wanted an opportunity or who feared the 
rage of rabid men, or who were timid about offending their 
families. Many, too, who were attached to their belief by 
nothing more than custom handed down by their parents, 
who had never before investigated the cause of the heresy, 
had never cared to inquire into or examine it, became 
Catholics without any difficulty once they began to take 
note of it, and found in it no adequate reason for suffering 
such losses. Isolation was a good teacher for those who had 
grown careless through immunity. Moreover, the persuasive 
influence of all these predecessors had many followers among 
those who were less capable of understanding for themselves 
the difference between Donatist error and Catholic truth. 

3 Acts 25.11. 

4 This was done by the Edict of Union, 405. 



LETTERS 171 

Chapter 30 

Thus, although the true mother received great throngs of 
people into her bosom with rejoicing, there remained un- 
yielding groups which persisted, with ill-fated hostility, in 
that deadly pestilence. Of these many pretended to conform; 
the rest escaped notice because of their small numbers. Those 
who pretended were largely converted by becoming ac- 
customed little by little to hearing the truth preached, and 
this was especially true after the conference and discussion 
between their bishops and ours at Carthage. In some places, 
however, where a stubborn and unruly mob held sway, too 
powerful to be resisted by a minority, although these latter 
were well-disposed to conform, or where crowds were forced 
by the authority of a powerful few to follow their evil course, 
there was trouble for some time longer. It is among these that 
the trouble still exists, and in that trouble Catholics, especially 
bishops and clerics, have suffered unspeakable hardships 
which it will take too long to enumerate; some had their 
eyes put out; one bishop had his hands and tongue cut off; 
some were even massacred. I say nothing of the inhuman 
beatings, of looting of homes in nightly raids, of fires set not 
only to private houses but even to churches; and into these 
flames some even cast the sacred books. 



Chapter 31 

But the ensuing good effects consoled us after we had been 
afflicted with such evils. For, wherever those excesses were 
committed by abandoned men, there Christian unity flour- 
ished more fervently and more perfectly; there the Lord was 
praised more abundantly because He had deigned to grant 
that His servants, by their sufferings, should enrich their 



172 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

brothers, and by their blood should gather to the peace of 
eternal salvation His sheep that had been led astray by deadly 
error. The Lord is mighty and merciful and to Him we pray 
daily that He may grant 'repentance and that they may 
recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they 
are held captive at his will,' 1 to the others who seek only an 
occasion to do us harm and to repay evil for good, 2 because 
they have not the mind to understand what loving sentiments 
we entertain for them, and how, according to the Lord's 
commandment, which He gave to His shepherds through 
the Prophet Ezechiel, we long to bring back that which was 
scattered and to find that which was lost. 3 



Chapter 32 

But, as we have said elsewhere on occasion, these heretics 
refuse to take the blame for what they do to us and they lay 
the blame on us for what they do to themselves. Who of us 
would wish them to lose anything, much less that they be lost 
themselves? If the house of David could win peace in no 
other way than through the death of Absalom, David's son, 
in the war which he was carrying on against his father 
although the latter had instructed his followers with great 
care to keep him safe and sound as far as it was possible 
for them to do so, that he might repent and receive pardon 
from his father's love what was left for him but to weep 
over his son's loss, and find comfort for his grief in the peace 
thus gained for his kingdom? 1 In the same manner, then, 

1 2 Tim, 2,25,26. 

2 Ps, 34.12. 

3 Ezech. 34.4-6. 

1 2 Rings 18.5-15.33j 22.1-51. 



LETTERS 173 

our Catholic mother acts when others who are not her sons 
make war on her because it is a fact that this little branch 
in Africa has been broken off 2 from the great tree which 
embraces the whole world in the spreading of its branches 3 
and although she is in labor with them 4 in charity, that they 
may return to the root without which they cannot have true 
life, still, if she rescues so many others by losing some, 
especially when these fall by self-destruction, not by the 
fortune of war as Absalom did, she solaces the grief of her 
maternal heart and heals it by the deliverance of such 
numbers of people. If you were to see the effects of the 
peace of Christ: the joyful throngs, their eagerness to hear 
and sing hymns and to receive the word of God, the well- 
attended, happy meetings; the sentiments of many among 
them, their great grief in recalling past error, their joy in 
contemplating the known truth, their indignation at their 
masters and repudiation of their lies, because they now know 
what false reports these circulated about our sacraments; the 
admission of many, also, that they had long wished to be 
Catholics, but did not dare to brave the fury of such men I 
repeat, if you were to see in one glance these flocks of people 
in many parts of Africa, now delivered from that destruction, 
you would say that it would have been excessively cruel for 
all these to be abandoned to eternal loss and to the torments 
of everlasting fire through fear that some desperate men, not 
to be compared by any standard of judgment to that un- 
numbered throng, should destroy themselves in flames kindled 
by themselves. 

Chapter 33 
If two persons were living together in a house which we 



2 Isa. 18.5; Rom. 11.17,19. 

3 Luke 13.19; Matt. 13.32; 24.14; Mark 4.32. 

4 Gal. 4.19. 



1 74 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

knew with absolute certainty was about to collapse, and if 
they refused to believe us when we forewarned them of it 
and insisted on staying there, and if we were able to drag 
them out, even against their will, and afterward to point 
out the imminent collapse, so that they would not dare to 
return again into the danger, I think that if we failed to do 
so we should deserve to be called cruel. Furthermore, if one 
of them were to say to us: 'As soon as you come in to 
rescue us I shall kill myself on the spot/ and if the other 
should refuse either to leave the house or to be pulled out, 
yet dared not kill himself, what should we decide to do? 
Should we leave them both to be overwhelmed in the crash, 
or should we extend our compassionate help to the one at 
least and leave the other to perish, not through our fault but 
his own? There is no one so hapless as not to decide easily 
what one should do in such cases. I have suggested in this 
parable of the two men that one is lost and the other saved, 
but what are we to think of the few lost and the unnumbered 
throng of people saved? For, the number of those men who 
perish by a self-willed death is not so great as the crowds who 
are saved by these laws from that deadly and eternal destruc- 
tion, on the farms, through the countryside, in the villages, 
in the citadels, the towns, the cities. 



Chapter 34 

However, if we look carefully into this matter which we 
are discussing, I think that if there were many persons in the 
house doomed to collapse, and at least one could be saved, 
even though the others should kill themselves by jumping 
headlong while we were trying to save the one, we should 
find comfort, in the safety of at least one, for our sorrow 



LETTERS 1 75 

over the others; but this would not be so if we allowed all 
to perish without saving the one, because we feared that the 
others would destroy themselves. What, then, is our estimate 
of the work of mercy which we should practice toward men 
to enable them to gain eternal life and avoid eternal torment, 
if a right and kind reason obliges us to afford them help to 
secure a mere temporal and brief safety, for however short a 
time? 

Chapter 35 

As to their charging us with coveting and confiscating 
their property, would that they might become Catholics and 
possess jointly with us, in peace and charity, not only what 
they say is theirs, but even what is ours! But they are so 
blinded by their passion for false accusation that they do not 
notice how they contradict themselves in what they say. 
They certainly say, and they seem to make it a matter of 
invidious complaint, that we force them into our communion 
by the violent compulsion of law. This we would emphatically 
not do if we had designs on their property. What miser looks 
for a co-owner? Who that is fired with a lust of power or 
puffed up with the pride of authority yearns to have a 
partner? Let them at least take note of those who were 
formerly their associates but are now ours, how they not 
only retain their own possessions which they used to have, 
but even share ours which they did not have, for, if we are 
poor, our possessions are also theirs. Moreover, if we have 
private property which suffices for us, the other is not ours 
but the property of the poor; we are in a sense merely its 
administrators, and we do not call down judgment on our- 
selves by usurping ownership of it. 



176 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 36 

Whatever property, therefore, is held by the Donatist sect 
in the name of their churches, by the orders issued through 
the religious laws of our Christian emperors is to revert to 
the Catholic Church together with their churches. Since the 
people , of the same churches are with us, and their poor, who 
were supported by their puny possessions, are also with us, 
while they remain outside, let them stop coveting the pro- 
perty of others; let them enter into unity as partners with us> 
so that we may together administer not only what they call 
theirs, but also what is ours. For, it is written: 'All things 
are yours, but you are Christ's and Christ is God's,' 1 Let us 
be one under that Head, in His one Body, 2 and let us deal 
with such things as these in the manner described in the 
Acts of the Apostles: They had one heart and one soul, 
neither did anyone say that aught was his own, but all 
things were common unto them.' 3 Let us love what we sing: 
"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to 
dwell together in unity, 54 that they may experience and may 
know how truthfully their Catholic mother calls out to them 
in the words written by the blessed Apostle to the Corinthians: 
( I seek not the things that are yours, but you.' 5 



Chapter 37 

If, however, we reflect on what is written in the Book of 

1 Cor. 3.22,23. 

2 Gal. 3.28; Eph. 1.22,23; 3.15; 5.23; Col. 1.18. 

3 Acts 4.32. 

4 Ps. 132.1. 

5 2 Cor. 12.14. 



LETTERS 177 

Wisdom: Therefore the just took the spoils of the wicked, 51 
and likewise on what we read in Proverbs: 'But the riches of 
the wicked are laid up as treasure for the just/ 2 we shall see 
that the question is not who holds the property of heretics, 
but who are in the company of the just. We know, indeed, 
that the Donatists falsely claim such justice for themselves, 
that they boast not only of having it themselves but of 
giving it to other men. They go so far as to say that the one 
whom they baptize is justified by them, and the only thing 
left for them to say to the one who is baptized by them is 
that he should believe in his baptizer. And why should he 
not do so, when the Apostle says: To him that believeth in 
him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed unto 
justice.' 3 Let him therefore believe in his baptizer if he is 
justified by him, that his faith may be reputed unto justice. 
But I think they are horrified at themselves if they regard it 
as fitting even to imagine such things. The only just and 
justifying one is God. 4 But we can apply to them what the 
Apostle said of the Jews that, c not knowing the justice of 
God and seeking to establish their own, they have not sub- 
mitted themselves to the justice of God.' 5 



Chapter 38 

Far be it from anyone of us to say that he is just, or to 
seek to establish his own justice, that is, as if it were given 
to him by himself, when the Apostle says to him: Tor what 

1 Wisd. 10.19. 

2 Prov. 13.32 (Septuagint) . 

3 Rom. 4.5. 

4 2 Mach. 1.25; Rom. 8.33. 

5 Rom. 10.3. 



178 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

hast thou that thou hast not received? 51 or to dare to boast 
that he is without sin in this life, as they said at our conference 
that they were in a Church which has not 'spot or wrinkle 
or any such thing/ 2 not knowing that this is fulfilled only 
in those who go out of the body either straightway after 
baptism, or after the forgiveness of our debts which we pray 
to have remitted in the Lord's prayer. But this will be true of 
the whole Church, namely, that it should be entirely without 
spot or wrinkle or any such thing, only when we can say 
C O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? 
Now the sting of death is sin. 53 



Chapter 39 

If their church is like that in this life where 'the cor- 
ruptible body is a load upon the soul,* 1 then let them not say 
to God what the Lord taught us to pray: 'Forgive us our 
debts. 32 Since all sins are forgiven in baptism, why does the 
Church make this petition if even in this life she has 'neither 
spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing'? Let them also disregard 
the Apostle John crying out in his Epistle: 'If we say that 
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in 
us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us 
our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity.' 3 It is because of 
this hope that the whole Church says: 'Forgive us our debts,' 
that he may cleanse us, not boasting but confessing, from all 
iniquity, and thus the Lord Christ may present to Himself 

1 1 Cor. 4.7. 

2 Eph. 5.27. 

3 1 Cor. 15.55,56. 

1 Wisd. 9.15. 

2 Matt. 6.12. 

3 1 John 1.8,9. 



LETTERS 179 

on that day a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or 
any such thing. This Church He now cleanses by 'the laver 
of water in the word/ 4 because, on the one hand, nothing 
of all our past sins remains unforgiven in baptism always 
supposing that the baptism is not considered invalid as given 
outside the Church, but is either given inside, or, if it was 
given outside, it is not left outside with the subject and, 
on the other hand, whatever guilt is contracted through 
human weakness by those who live on after having received 
baptism is forgiven by the same laver. It is of no use for the 
unbaptized to say: 'Forgive us our debts 1 



Chapter 40 

Thus, He cleanses His Church by the laver of water in the 
word,' that He may then present it to Himself, having 
neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing, that is, wholly 
beautiful and perfect when 'death shall be swallowed up in 
victory.' 1 In this life, therefore, in so far as the fact that 
we are born of God and live by faith 2 prevails in us we are 
just, but in so far as we inherit the remnants of mortality 
from Adam we are not without sin. This saying is true: 
4 Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin,' 3 and this is 
also true : 'If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves 
and the truth is not in us.' 4 Therefore, the Lord Christ is 
both the just one and the justifier, but we are 'justified freely 
by his grace.' 5 However, He justifies only His Body, 'which is 

4 Eph. 5.26,27. 

1 1 Cor. 15.54. 

2 Hab. 2.4; Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.41. 

3 1 John 3.9. 

4 1 John 1.8. 

5 Rom. 3.24. 



1 80 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the Church/ 6 and thus, if the body of Christ takes the spoils 
of the wicked and lays up as a treasure for the body of 
Christ the riches of the wicked, the wicked ought not to 
remain outside the body of Christ to their injury, but should 
enter into it for their justification. 



Chapter 41 

Consequently, those words which are written of the day 
of judgment, 'Then shall the just stand with great constancy 
against those that have afflicted them and taken away their 
labors/ 1 should certainly not be taken to mean that the 
Chanaanite shall stand against Israel because Israel has 
taken away the labors of the Chanaanite, 2 but Naboth shall 
stand against Achab because Achab took away the labors of 
Naboth, 3 for in this case the Chanaanite was wicked but 
Naboth was just. In the same way, the pagan shall not stand 
against the Christian who has taken away his labors by 
despoiling or giving away the temples of the idols, but the 
Christian shall stand against the pagan who took away his 
labors by laying low the bodies of the martyrs. Thus, there- 
fore, the heretic shall not stand against the Catholic who 
received his labors when the laws of Catholic emperors came 
into force, but the Catholic shall stand against the heretic 
who took away his labors when the fury of wicked Cir- 
cumcellions was in force. In truth, Scripture itself has solved 
the question by saying: 'Then shall the just stand/ not 'then 
shall men stand/ and therefore it will be with great constancy 
because it will be with a good conscience. 

6 Col. 1.24. 

1 Wisd. 5.1. 

2 Josue 17.12,13. 

3 3 Kings 21.1-16. 



LETTERS 181 

Chapter 42 

But no one is just by his own justice, that is, as if it were 
the effect of his own act, but, as the Apostle says: 'According 
as God hath divided to every one the measure of faith/ and 
he follows up and adds : Tor as in one body we have many 
members, but all the members have not the same office, so 
we being many are one body in Christ.' 1 As a consequence, 
no one can be just so long as he is separated from the unity 
of this body. For, in the same way as a member cannot 
retain the spirit of life if it is cut off from the body of a 
living man, so a man, cannot possibly retain the spirit of 
justice if he is cut off from the body of the just Christ, 
although he may retain the appearance of a member which 
he derived from the body. Let the Donatists come, then, 
into the structure of this body and let them possess their 
labors, not with a passion for power, but with the holy 
desire of using them well. As has been said before, we, on 
our part, cleanse our will of the baseness of such passion no 
matter what enemy judges us when we strive with all our 
might to bring those very ones whose labors these are said to 
be to make use jointly with us in the Catholic community of 
their goods and ours. 

Chapter 43 

'But/ they say, 'this is what disturbs us: if we are unjust 
why do you seek us? 5 We answer them: 'We seek you in 
your injustice that you may not remain unjust, we seek you as 
lost that we may rejoice at finding you, saying: 'Our brother 
was dead and is come to life again, he was lost and is found.' 1 

1 Rom. 12.3-5. 
1 Luke 15.32. 



182 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

'Why, then,' says one, 'do you not baptize me to wash me 
from sin?' I answer: 'Because I do not dishonor the brand 
mark of the commander when I rectify the wandering of the 
deserter.' 'Why,' says he, 'do I not do penance when I join 
you?' 'Indeed, unless you do penance you cannot be saved, 
for how will you rejoice at being set right if you do not 
grieve at having gone astray?' 'What, then/ says he, 'do we 
receive when we go over to you?' I answer: 'You do not 
indeed receive baptism which it was possible for you to have 
outside the unity of the body of Christ, although it was not 
possible for it to profit you, but you do receive "the unity of 
the Spirit in the bond of peace/ 52 "without which no man 
shall see God," 3 and also charity, which, as it is written, 
"covereth a multitude of sins." 4 The Apostle bears witness that 
this is so great a good that without it neither tongues of men 
and angels, nor knowledge of all mysteries, nor prophecy, nor 
faith so great as to move mountains, nor distributing to the 
poor of everything a man possesses, nor delivering one's body 
to be burned profit a man anything, 5 and, therefore, if you 
think this great good is little or nothing, you are in an 
unhappy state of error, and if you do not come over to 
Catholic unity, you are lost/ 



Chapter 44 

'If, then,' they say, 'it is our duty to repent of having been 
outside the Church and opposed to the Church, in order to 
be saved, how can we continue to be clerics or even bishops 

2 Eph. 4.3. 

3 Heb. 12.14 

4 1 Peter 4.8. 

5 1 Cor. 131-3. 



LETTERS 183 

after that penance?' 1 This would not happen, since we must 
confess as a matter of truth it ought not to happen, unless 
the healing of the peace of the Church effects a restoration. 
Let them tell themselves this, and let them grieve with great 
and deep humility, that those who lie prostrate in the death 
of such a severance can live again, in spite of such a wound 
inflicted on their Catholic mother. For, when a cut branch is 
grafted, another cut is made in the tree into which it is 
fitted, so that it may live by the life of the root, without which 
it would die; but, when the graft has become one with its 
host, it grows strong and produces fruit, whereas, if he does 
not become one with the tree, it withers away, while the 
life of the tree will remain. There is also a kind of grafting 
in which the branch which is not part of the tree is inserted 
without cutting off any branch belonging to it, and with 
some cut in the tree, but at most a very slight one. So it is, 
then, with them when they come to the Catholic root, 
although they are not deprived of the dignity of clerical or 
episcopal rank after they have done penance for their lapse, 
there is some severe effect in the bark, as it were, of the 
mother tree, diminishing its integrity. Nevertheless, because 
'neither he that planteth is anything nor he that watereth,' 2 
when their prayers are poured forth to the mercy of God, as 
the peace of the engrafted branches grows into unity, 'charity 
covereth a multitude of sins. 5 



Chapter 45 

But when it was decreed in the Church that no one after 
penance should become a cleric, or return to clerical status 

1 Agreed at the Council of Carthage, 401. 

2 I Cor. 3.7. 



184 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

or remain in it, 1 this was not done through any despair of 
forgiveness, but for the maintenance of discipline; otherwise, 
there would be a challenge to the keys given to the Church, 
of which it is said: 'Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it 
shall be loosed also in heaven/ 2 But lest, perchance, anyone, 
when his crimes have been discovered, should do penance with 
a mind full of pride, in the hope of ecclesiastical preferment, 
this more severe decree was passed that no one should be a 
cleric after performing penance for a mortal offense. The 
purpose of this was to be that the humiliation of the remedy 
would be more effective and more sincere when temporal 
rank was not to be hoped for. Holy David did penance for 
his mortal crimes and still retained his rank, 3 and blessed 
Peter certainly repented of having denied the Lord when 
he shed such bitter tears, but he remained an Apostle. 4 Still, 
not for that reason is the caution of their successors to be 
considered useless, by which they have added to the force of 
humility without removing any help to salvation: rather, 
salvation is thereby more safely assured. They had experience, 
I imagine, of the pretended repentance of some who were 
aiming at the power attached to rank. The experience of 
many diseases forces us to find many remedies. In cases of 
this sort, where there is question of the dread division of 
schism, and there is not merely danger for this or that man, 
but of destruction which lays low whole peoples, there has to 
be some reduction in severity so that a sincere charity may 
help to remedy greater evils. 

1 One of the canons of the Council of Nicaea, as mentioned by Pope 
Innocent I in his letter to the bishops of Apulia. 

2 Matt 16,19; 18.18. 

3 2 Kings 12.1-20; 24.17, 

4 Matt. 26.69-75; Mark 14.66-72; Luke 22.55-62. 



LETTERS 185 

Chapter 46 

Let them, then, have a bitter sorrow for their former 
detestable wrong-doing, as Peter had for his cowardly lie, 
and let them come to the true Church, that is, their Catholic 
mother, and let them be clerics or bishops in it with as much 
service for it as they formerly used against it. We do not 
begrudge it to them; on the contrary, we embrace them, we 
beg them, we exhort them, we compel them to come in when 
we find them in the highways and hedges. Even so, we do 
not yet persuade some of them that we seek them, not their 
possessions. When the Apostle Peter denied the Saviour, and 
wept and remained an Apostle, he had not yet received the 
Holy Spirit who had been promised, 2 but much less have 
they received Him when, severed from the unity of the body 
to which alone the Holy Spirit gives life, 8 they have main- 
tained the sacraments of the Church outside the Church and 
in opposition to the Church, and have fought a kind of 
civil war, setting up our own banners and our own arms 
against us. Let them come; let there be peace in the strength 
of Jerusalem, the strength which is charity, as it was said to 
the holy city: 'Let peace be in thy strength and abundance 
in thy towers.' 4 Let them not rise up against the motherly 
anxiety which she had and has to gather them in, and with 
them so many throngs of people whom they deceive or did 
deceive; let them not be proud, because she thus welcomes 
them; let them not turn to the evil purpose of self-esteem 
what she does for the good purpose of peace. 

1 Luke 1433. 

2 John 14.26; 16.13. 

3 John 6.64; 2 Cor. 3.6. 

4 Ps. 121.6,7. 



186 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 47 

It is thus that she has been wont to succor the crowds 
perishing in schism and heresy. Lucifer 1 was displeased 
because the same thing was done in rescuing and healing 
those who had been lost through the poison of Arianism, 
and as a result of his displeasure he fell into th$ darkness of 
schism by losing the light of charity. From the beginning 
this was the course pursued toward these men by the Catholic 
Church in Africa, following the decisions of the bishops in 
the Roman Church when they judged between Caecilian and 
the sect of Donatus, who was shown to be the author of the 
schism. Donatus alone was condemned, but they decreed that 
the others, his followers, once they were converted, should 
be maintained in their clerical rank, even though they had 
been ordained outside the Church, not because it was possible 
for them to have the Holy Spirit while cut off from the 
unity of the body of Christ, but mostly for the sake of those 
whom they could lead astray and prevent from receiving that 
gift while they were established in their dissidence, and also 
that this more kindly treatment of their weakness might effect 
their cure within the Church, when obstinacy should no 
longer shut the eyes of their heart to the evidence of truth. 
What other course of action did they themselves think up 
when they first condemned the Maximianists 2 for their sac- 
rilegious schism as their council shows 3 and ordained 
others in their stead; but afterward, when they saw that 
their flocks did not desert the Maximianists, they received 
them back in their respective rank, so as not to lose all of 

1 Lucifer of Cagliari, bishop, who resented the clemency shown to 
repentent Arians, and gathered a schismatic group around him. Cf. 
De agone Christiana 30. 

2 Cf. Augustine, Contra Cresconum $.53,59; 4.10-12; De baptismo 1.5-7. 

3 At Bagai, in 394. 



LETTERS 187 

them, and raised no objection or question about the baptism 
which they had conferred while separated from the Donatist 
sect by their sentence of condemnation? Why, then, do they 
wonder or complain or take it ill that we receive them back 
for the sake of the true peace of Christ, and fail to remember 
what they themselves did for the sake of the false peace of 
Donatus which is opposed to Christ? If this fact is held up 
before them and skillfully pressed on them, they will have 
no ground at all on which to make an answer. 



Chapter 48 

But, when they say: c lf we have sinned against the Holy 
Spirit by casting scorn on your baptism, what use is it for 
you to seek us, when it is utterly impossible for this sin to be 
forgiven us, in the Lord's words: "He that shall sin against 
the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this 
world nor in the world to come," n they do not observe that 
according to that interpretation no one should be saved. 
For, who does not speak against the Holy Spirit and sin 
against Him, whether it be he who is not yet a Christian, 
or a heretic Arian, 2 or a Eunomian, 3 or a Macedonian, 4 all 
of whom say that He is created, or a Photinian, 5 who denies 
Him substance entirely, saying that only the Father is God > 
or other heretics whom it would take too long to enumerate? 
Should none of them be saved? Or the Jews themselves, whom 
the Lord reproached that if they had believed in Him they 
would not have to be baptized? The Saviour did not say: c lt 

1 Matt. 12.32. 

2 Arius (4th century) held the Son and the Holy Spirit to have been 
created by the Father. 

3 Eunomius (350-381) held the Son to be unequal to the Father. 

4 Macedonius (4th century) denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. 

5 Photinus (4th century) held the three Persons of the Trinity to be 
merely three aspects of the divinity. 



1 88 SAINT AUGU STINE 

shall be forgiven in baptism/ but He said: It shall not be 
forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.' 



Chapter 49 

Let us, then, understand that this does not apply to every 
sin, but to a certain sin against the Holy Spirit, which will 
not be forgiven. In the same way, when He said: 'If I had 
not come, they would not have sin/ 1 He manifestly did not 
intend us to understand every sin, for indeed they were 
guilty of many great sins, but that, if they did not have a 
certain special sin, all the others which they had could be 
forgiven them; and that sin was that they did not believe in 
Him when He came they would not have had this sin if He 
had not come so also when He said: 'He that shall sin 
against the Holy Spirit or shall speak a word against the 
Holy Spirit,' it is plain that He did not mean every sin 
committed against the Holy Spirit by deed or word, but a 
certain particular sin. This sin is a hardness of heart persisted 
in until the end of this life, by which a man refuses to accept 
remission for his sins in the unity of the body of Christ, to 
which the Holy Spirit gives life. For, when He had said to 
His disciples: 'Receive ye the Holy Spirit,' He immediately 
added: 'Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; 
whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. 52 Therefore, 
whoever shall resist this gift of the grace of God, and shall 
oppose it or shall in any way be estranged from it until the 
end of this temporal life, 'It shall not be forgiven him, 
neither in this world nor in the world to come,' for, obviously, 
this is so great a sin that all other sins are comprised in it; 

1 John 15.22. 

2 John 



LETTERS 189 

but it is not committed by anyone until he has left the body. 
As long as he lives, as the Apostle says: 'The patience of 
God leadeth him to do penance/ but, if the sinner remains 
in his persistent wickedness, then, as the Apostle adds at 
once: 'According to the hardness of his heart and his 
impenitent heart,' he treasures up for himself 'wrath against 
the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of 
God, 53 and c it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this 
world nor in the world to come. 5 



Chapter 50 

Those with whom we are treating, or of whom we are 
treating, are not to be despaired of, for they are still in the 
body. But let them not seek the Holy Spirit except in the 
Body of Christ. It is true they have His sacrament outside the 
Church, but they do not hold the reality of it within, for it 
is His sacrament, and therefore they eat and drink judgment 
to themselves. 1 For, the one bread is the sacrament of unity, 
since, as the Apostle says: ; We being many are one bread, 
one body.' 2 Therefore, the Catholic Church alone is the Body 
of Christ; He is its head and the Saviour of His Body. 3 The 
Holy Spirit gives life to no one outside this body, because, as 
the Apostle himself says : 'The charity of God is poured forth 
in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.' 4 But 
the enemy of unity has no share in the divine charity. 
Consequently, those who are outside the Church do not have 
the Holy Spirit, and of them it is written: 'These are they 

3 Rom. 2.43. 

1 1 Cor. 11.29. 

2 1 Cor. 10.17. 

3 Eph. 5.33. 

4 Rom. 5.5. 



1 90 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit.' 5 
But he who pretends to be in the Church does not receive 
Him either, since it is written of him: 'The Holy Spirit of 
discipline will flee from the deceitful' 6 Whoever, then, wishes 
to have the Holy Spirit must beware of remaining outside the 
Church; he must beware of pretending to come into it, or, if 
he has made such a pretended entry, he must beware of 
persisting in his pretense, so that he may truly grow into the 
tree of life. 

Chapter 51 

I have addressed you a lengthy book; perhaps it will be 
tiresome to you in the midst of your duties. But, if even parts 
of it can be read to you, the Lord will give you understanding 
so that you may know what to answer them for their amend- 
ment and cure. For Mother Church entrusts them to you as 
to her faithful son, so that, when and as you are able, you 
may amend and cure them, whether by speaking to them 
and answering them yourself, or by leading them to the 
doctors of the Church. 



185A. To Count Boniface 1 

It is very gratifying to me that amid the tasks of your 
stewardship you do not neglect to care for religion, also, and 
that you wish to call back to the way of salvation and peace 
men who are firmly set in schism and division. 

5 Jude 1.19. 

6 Wisd. 1.5. 

1 A fragment found in a manuscript between Augustine's book on The 
Spirit and the Letter and his treatise, The Care To Be Taken for the 
Dead. It is entitled 'Here beginneth happily the letter of the same 
to Count Boniface/ 



LETTERS 191 

186. Alypius and Augustine, to their fellow bishop, Paulinus^ 

their saintly lord and brother, cherished more 

than words can tell, worthy of being embraced 

with fraternal love in the heart of Christ 

(Mid 417) 

At long last God has provided us with the most trust- 
worthy of all letter-bearers, our justly cherished brother 
Januarius. 2 Even if we did not write, your Sincerity could 
learn all the news of us from him as from a living and 
intelligent letter. We knew that you loved Pelagius as a servant 
of God this Pelagius, we believe, is called the Briton, 3 to 
distinguish him from another Pelagius who is said to be a 
Tarentine but we do not know how you love him now. We 
also not only have loved but still do love him. But the love 
we have for him now is different from the love we had for 
him formerly; then we loved him as one who seemed to be 
of the true faith, whereas we now love him in order that, by 
the mercy of God, he may be set free from those antagonistic 
views which he is said to hold against the grace of God, 
It was not easy to believe this about him, when the rumor 
began to be circulated some time ago for rumor is usually 
a liar but what brought it home to us and made us believe 
it was a certain book of his which aims to set forth theories 
intended to destroy and remove from faithful hearts any belief 
in the grace of God bestowed on the human race through 
the one Mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus. 4 We read 
this book when it was brought to us by some servants of 

1 Bishop of Nola. 

2 It is not clear whether this is the Januarius of Letters 54 and 55. 

3 Marius Mercator in his Commonitorium, Orosius in his Liber Apolo- 
geticus (PL 31) , and Prosper in his Carmen de ingratis all name him 
as Britannus or Britannicus; Jerome is supposed to insinuate the 
same when he describes him as 'heavy with Scottish porridge/ in his 
Praelatio ad Jeremiam (PL 24.679) . 

4 1 Tim. 2.5. 



192 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Christ 5 who had listened attentively to teachings such as 
these, and had been his followers. At their request, as we saw 
that it needed to be done, one of us made answer to this book 
in a treatise, 6 without mentioning his name, lest, if he were 
offended, he would not be open to correction. His book 
contains and asserts this view frequently and fully, as he also 
set it forth in certain letters sent to your Reverence, 7 where 
he says that he ought not to be reputed as defending free will 
unhelped by the grace of God, since he says that the ability 
to will and to do, without which we can neither will nor do 
any good, has been implanted by our Creator in our human 
nature, and that manifestly this was the grace of God as 
understood by the doctor of grace himself, 8 which is common 
to pagans and Christians, wicked and good, unbelievers and 
believers. 

To the best of our ability, we refuted these evil views by 
which the coming of the Saviour is made void, to which we 
can say what the Apostle says of the Law: 'If justice be by 
nature, then Christ died in vain,' 9 Thus we aimed to pluck 
these views from the hearts of those who held them, and our 
object in making them, known was that, if he were not 
personally attacked, he might be converted and the dignity 
of the man safeguarded, while the deadly infection of error 
might be stamped out. But later, when letters came to us 
fcom the East, giving the most open publicity to the case, we 
were in duty bound not to fail to use our episcopal authority, 
such as it is, in behalf of the Church, Therefore, reports 10 of 
this controversy were sent to the Apostolic See from the two 
Councils of Carthage and Milevis, and this was done before 

5 Timasius and James; cf Letters 168 and 179. 

6 Augustine, De natura et gratia. 

7 Cf. Pelagius, Liber de gratia Dei 35. 

8 St. Paul. 

9 Cf. Gal. 2.21. 

10 Cf. Letters 175 and 176. 



LETTERS 193 

the ecclesiastical minutes of the meeting, in which Pelagius is 
described as having been cleared before the bishops of the 
province of Palestine, had come into our hands or even into 
Africa. In addition to the reports of the councils we also 
wrote a personal letter 11 to Pope Innocent of blessed mem- 
ory, 12 in which we dealt with the same case somewhat more 
at length. He answered all these communications 13 in a 
manner which was right and fitting for the pontiff of the 
Apostolic See. 

You will soon be able to read all these in case none or not 
all of them have reached you. There you will see how, while 
preserving a due regard for men, not to condemn them 
provided they condemn their wrong views, the authority of the 
Church has so prohibited that new and deadly error that we 
wonder greatly how there could still be any who try to persist 
in any false view of the grace of God that is, always 
supposing they have heard of these decrees the grace of 
God through Jesus Christ our Lord, as the true and Catholic 
Church always holds, which transforms both little and great 14 
from the death of the first man to the life of the second 
man, 15 not only by destroying sin, but also by helping those 
who are now able to use their free will to avoid sin and live 
virtuously; and this help is such that, if it is not given, we can 
have no trace of piety or justice either in our works or even 
in our very will: Tor it is God who worketh in you both to 
will and to accomplish according to his good will. 316 

For, who distinguishes us from that mass and material of 
perdition except the One who came 'to seek and to save that 

11 Cf. Letters 177. 

12 He died on July 28, 417. 

13 Cf. Letters 181, 182, and 183. 

14 Apoc. 11.18. 

15 1 Cor. 15.47. 

16 Phil. 2.13. 



1 94 SAINT AUGU STINE 

which was lost 5 ? 17 The Apostle asks this question when he 
says: 'Who distinguished thee? 5 and if any man should say: 
'My faith, my good will, my good work/ he would receive 
the answer: 'But what hast thou that thou hast not received? 
And if thou hast received why dost thou glory as if thou 
hadst not received it?' 18 And he certainly says all this, not 
that man should not glory but that c he that glorieth may 
glory in the Lord/ 19 not of works, that no man may be 
puffed up' ; 20 not because good works are rendered useless by 
that holy thought, since 'God will render to every man 
according to his works and there should be glory and honor 
and peace to everyone that worketh good/ 21 but because the 
works come from the grace, not the grace from the works, 
because 'faith that worketh by charity' 32 would have no 
effect unless c the charity of God were poured forth in our 
hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us. 523 And faith 
itself would not be in us if God did not 'divide to every one 
the measure of faith.' 24 

Therefore, it is good for a man to say truthfully and with 
the full strength of his free will: 'I will keep my strength to 
thee/ 25 because the man who thought he could keep it 
without the help of Him who gave it went abroad into a far 
country and wasted his substance, living riotously. But, worn 
down by the wretchedness of a harsh slavery, he returned to 
himself and said: C I will arise and go to my father.' 26 But, 
how could he have had this good thought if the most merciful 
Father had not whispered it to him in secret? It was because 

17 Luke 19.10. 

18 1 Cor. 4.7. 

19 1 Cor. L31. 

20 Cf. Eph. 2.9. 

21 Rom. 2.6,10. 

22 Gal. 5.6, 

23 Rom. 5.5. 

24 Rom. 12.3. 

25 Ps. 58.10. 

26 Luke 15.12-18. 



LETTERS 195 

he understood this that the minister of the New Testament 27 
said : 'Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves 
as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.' 28 Con- 
sequently, when the Psalmist also had said: 'I will keep my 
strength to thee,' lest he should attribute to himself the fact 
that he was keeping it, and as if he recalled to mind that 
'Except the Lord keep the city, they watch in vain that keep 
it,' 29 and that 6 He shall neither slumber nor sleep that keepeth 
Israel,' 30 he added the reason of his being able to keep it, or, 
rather, the guard by whom it is kept and said: Tor thou, 
O God, art my protector.' 31 

Let Pelagius then recall, if he can, his merits which would 
make God deign to be his protector, as if God had been 
protected; let him recall whether he sought or was sought by 
Him, I mean the One 'who came to seek and to save that 
which was lost.' 32 For, if a man is willing to seek for what he 
deserves before receiving grace, which will make him fit to 
receive it, he will be able to find his evil deeds, not his good 
ones, 33 and this would be true even if the grace of the 
Saviour came upon him when he had lived only one day 
upon earth; because, if a man does anything good by which 
he may merit grace, 'the reward is not reckoned according 
to grace, but according to debt; but if he believeth in him 
that justifieth the ungodly, that his faith may be reputed to 
justice,' 34 for 'the just man liveth by faith' 35 certainly be- 
fore he is justified by grace, that is, made just, what else is 
the wicked man but wicked? If his debt followed him, what 

27 Eph. 3.7. 

28 2 Cor. 3.5. 

29 Ps. 126.1. 

30 Ps. 120.4. 

31 Ps. 58.10. 

32 Luke 19.10. 

33 Job 14.5 (Septuagint) . 

34 Rom. 4.4,5. 

35 Hab. 2.4; Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38. 



1 96 SAINT AUGU STINE 

would he deserve to receive but punishment? 'And if by 
grace, it is not now by works; otherwise grace is no more 
grace.' 35 To works is given what they deserve, but grace is 
given freely; that is why it is called grace. 

If anyone says that faith merits the grace of doing good 
works, we cannot deny it; on the contrary, we admit it most 
thankfully. This is the faith we wish those brothers of ours to 
have so that they may obtain charity which alone truly per- 
forms good works, for they glory much in their works, but 
charity is so much the gift of God that it is called God. 37 
Therefore, those who have faith by which they win justifica- 
tion attain by the grace of God to the law of justice; hence 
the Prophet says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard thee, 
and in the day of salvation I have helped thee/ 38 Con- 
sequently, in those who are saved by the election of grace, 39 
it is God as helper 'who worketh both to will and to ac- 
complish according to his good will/ 40 because c to them that 
love God all things work together unto good.' 41 If this is 
true of all things, it is more so of that charity to which we 
attain by faith, so that by His grace we love Him c who hath 
first loved us/ 42 in order to believe in Him, and by loving 
Him we perform good works, but we have not performed 
the good works in order to love Him. 

Those, however, who expect a reward of their merits as if 
it were due to them, who attribute their merits, not to the 
grace of God, but to the strength of their own will, through 
following after the law of justice, like carnal Israel, do not 
come unto the Law. 43 'Why so? Because they sought it not by 



36 Rom. 11.6. 

37 1 John 4.8. 

38 Isa. 49.8; 2 Cor. 6.2. 

39 Rom. 11.5. 

40 Phil. 2.14. 

41 Rom. 8.28. 

42 1 John 4.19. 

43 Rom. 9.3. 



LETTERS 



197 



faith but, as it were, by works. 5 But that justice is of faith 
which the Gentiles attained, of whom it is said: 'What then 
shall we say? That the Gentiles who knew not justice have 
attained to justice, even the justice that is of faith. But 
Israel, by following after the law of justice, is not come unto 
the law. Why so? Because they sought it not by faith but, as 
It were, by works. They stumbled at the stumbling stone, as 
It Is written: Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and a 
rock of scandal; and whosoever believeth in him shall not 
be confounded. 544 That justice is of faith by which we 
believe we are justified, that is, made just by the grace of 
God through Jesus Christ our Lord, that we may be found 
in Him not having our justice 'which is of the law, but that 
which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is of God, 
justice in faith'; 45 certainly in the faith by which we believe 
that justice is given to us from above, not made by us for 
ourselves by our own strength. 

Why does the Apostle call that justice his which is of the 
Law and not of God? Could it be possible that the Law is 
not of God? None but an irreligious man would think that. 
But, because the Law commands by the letter and does not 
help by the spirit, whoever listens to the letter of the Law in 
such wise as to think that it is enough for him to know what 
it commands or forbids, whoever trusts in the strength of his 
own free will to accomplish it, and does not take refuge in 
faith in order to be assisted in his approach to the Spirit that 
quickeneth lest the letter find him guilty and kill him/ 6 that 
man has a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For, 
not knowing the justice of God, that Is, the holiness which is 
given from God, and seeking to establish his own, so that 
it may be uniquely of the Law, he has not subjected himself 



44 Rom. 9-30-33. 

45 Phil. 3.9. 

46 2 Cor. 3.6. 



198 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

to the justice of God, 'for the end of the law is Christ unto 
justice to every one that believeth.' 47 So the same Apostle says: 
That we might be made the justice of God in him/ 48 'being 
justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God 
through our Lord, Jesus Christ'; 49 'being justified freely by 
his grace/ 50 and let this faith not be proud. 

Let no one say to himself: If it is of faith, how is it freely 
given? If faith earns it, why is it not rather paid than given?' 
Let the faithful man not say that because, when he says: 'I 
have faith that I may earn justification/ he is answered: 
'What hast thou that hast not received?' 51 Therefore, since 
faith asks for and receives justification, 'according as God 
hath divided to every one the measure of faith/ 52 no human 
merit precedes the grace of God, but grace itself merits an 
increase, and the increase merits perfection, with the will 
accompanying it, not going before it; following behind it, 
not pointing out the way. Hence, he who said: 'I will keep 
my strength to thee/ gave his reason by saying: 'For thou, 
O God, art my protector/ and, as if asking by what merits 
he attained this and finding nothing in himself antecedent to 
the grace of God, he said : 'My God, his mercy shall prevent 
me.' 53 By this he means: 'However great I may think my 
antecedent merits to be* his mercy shall prevent me. 5 There- 
fore, by keeping to Him the strength which is attributed to 
Him, with God for saviour, he does not lose what he received 
from God as giver. In no other way does he deserve more 
generous gifts than by knowing through faith and piety from 
whom all these good things come in to him, and by knowing 

47 Rom. 10.2-4. 

48 2 Cor. 5.21. 

49 Rom, 5.1. 

50 Rom. 3.24. 

51 1 Cor. 4.7. 

52 Rom. 12.3. 

53 Ps. 58,10,11. 



LETTERS 199 

that they do not come to him from himself, lest even this 
should not be in him which is not of God. Finely, indeed, 
does the Apostle say: 'We have received not the spirit of 
this world but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the 
things that are given us from God.' 54 Thus, this very merit of 
man is a free gift, and no one deserves to receive anything 
from the Father of lights from whom every best gift comes 
down, r>3 except by receiving what he does not deserve. 

Much more merciful and more freely given, beyond any 
doubt, is the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ 
which is bestowed on infants, so that they may not suffer for 
their descent from Adam but may benefit by their rebirth 
in Christ; and this mercy of God forestalls by a long time 
the very consciousness of receiving it. It is certain that, if they 
depart from the body at this tender age, they receive eternal 
life and the kingdom of heaven, knowing that it is by His 
gift, although here they did not know it when it was beneficial 
to them. Certainly in their case there is nothing but the 
former gifts to merit the subsequent ones, and in giving them 
the grace of God He operates in such wise that the will of the 
recipients is not previously stirred or assisted, nor does it 
follow after, since, in fact, this great benefit is conferred on 
them not only without their willing it, but often in spite of 
their fighting against it, which would be imputed to them as 
a great sacrilege if the freedom of the will had any effect 
in them. 

We have said this for the sake of those who are unable to 
search into the unsearchable judgments of God 56 for the 
reason why, of the clay of Adam, which from him alone fell 
wholly into condemnation, He makes one vessel unto honor, 
another unto dishonor, 57 yet they dare to decide that babies 

54 1 Cor. 2.12. 

55 James 1.17. 

56 Rom. 11.33. 

57 Rom. 9.21. 



200 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

who are unable to think anything, either good or bad, are 
guilty of actual sins, and that they are reputed to gain either 
penalty or favor through their free will, whereas apostolical 
truth, by saying c by one unto condemnation, 358 shows clearly 
that all are born under penalty so that they may be reborn 
in grace, not by merit but by mercy. 'Otherwise grace is no 
more grace/ 59 if it is a reward for human merits, not a freely 
given gift of divine bounty. In this it alone differs from 
punishment, that punishment is from Adam and is every 
man's due, but grace through the one Jesus Christ is owed 
to none but is freely given, that it may truly be grace. The 
unsearchable judgments of God, as if they were God, can 
be the reason why He distinguishes the little ones whom no 
merits single out, but they cannot be unjust judgments because 
'all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth.' 60 Consequently, 
when the mercy of grace is bestowed on one man, he has 
no reason to boast of his human merit, since it is 'not of 
works, that no man may glory'; 61 but when the truth of 
punishment is meted out to another he has no just ground 
for complaint that what is rightly owed to sin is paid to it, 
since it is certainly not unjust for the one in whom all have 
sinned to be punished even in each individual. Their punish- 
ment throws into clearer light what is conferred on the 
vessels of mercy 62 by a true grace which is not their due, that 
is, it is freely given. 

Let them produce their arguments against the Apostle when 
he says in the clearest possible words: 'By one man sin 
entered into this world, and by sin death, and so death passed 
upon all men in whom all have sinned/ 63 As for those who 

58 Rom, 5.16, 

59 Rom. 11.6. 

60 Ps. 24.10. 

61 Eph. 2.9. 

62 Rom. 9.23. 

63 Rom. 5.12. 



LETTERS 201 

say that even babies commit actual sins through free will, we 
are tired listening to them and disgusted at having to mention 
them, but we are under the greater obligation to speak. For 
it is a mark either of indolence to avoid by silence what these 
great and keen minds have been able to think up, or of 
arrogance to pass over it through contempt. 'See/ they say, 
'Esau and Jacob struggle within their mother's womb; at the 
time of their birth one is supplanted by the other, and by 
the fact that the second one came forth holding the foot of 
the first one in his hand, 64 this struggle is proved to be in a 
sense continuous. How is it possible that in infants acting 
thus there should be no freedom of will for good or evil, as a 
result of which reward or punishment should follow their 
previous merits?' 

To this we may say that the reason why those movements 
and that seeming struggle of the infants were a sign of great 
things was because they were miraculous, not acts of free 
choice. We are not likely to concede that asses have the power 
of free will because a dumb beast of that sort, as it is written: 
'used to the yoke which, speaking with man's voice, forbade 
the folly of the prophet.' 65 But those who claim that there 
were voluntary acts and not miraculous movements, ac- 
complished by them and not through them, would be hard 
put to answer the Apostle who, when he saw that these twins 
were worthy of remembrance as a testimonial of grace, 
freely given, said : Tor when the children were not yet born 
nor had done any good or evil, that the purpose of God 
according to election might stand, not of works but of him 
that calleth, it was said to her: The elder shall serve the 
younger' ; then, adding the testimony of a Prophet who spoke 
long after those events, but nevertheless declared the ancient 

64 Gen. 25.22,25; Osee 12.3. 

65 Num. 22.28-30; 2 Peter 2.16. The Prophet was Balaam. 



202 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

purpose of God in this matter, he said: 'As it is written: 
Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated.' 66 

Manifestly, the 'doctor of the Gentiles in faith and truth' 67 
testifies that those twins, not yet born, had done neither good 
nor evil, in order to bring out the value of grace, so that the 
words 'the elder shall serve the younger' may be understood 
as a result e not of works but of him that calleth, that the 
purpose of God according to election might stand. c But these 
words do not imply the antecedent merit of each man. He 
does not say the election of the human will or of nature, since 
in each twin there was the same status of death and dam- 
nation, but without any doubt he means the election of grace 
which does not find men worthy of being chosen but makes 
them so. In a later passage of the same Epistle he treats of 
this again when he says: 'Even so then at this present time 
also there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. 
And if by grace it is not now by works; otherwise grace is 
no more grace. 368 This passage is in accord with the former 
one where he states: 'not of works but of him that calleth: 
the elder shall serve the younger.' What, then, is their purpose 
in contradicting this eminent eulogist of grace, by their 
impudent insistence on the free will of infants and the acts of 
children not yet born? Why is grace said to be preceded by 
merits when it would not be grace if it were allotted according 
to merit? Why do they attack salvation which is sent for the 
lost, which comes for the unworthy? However keen, however 
complete and well-phrased their argument, it is nevertheless 
hardly Christian. 

'But how/ says Pelagius, 'is it possible that there is no 
injustice with God if He singles out by His love those whom 

66 Rom. 9.11 -IS; Mai. 1.2,3. 

67 1 Tim. 2.7. 

68 Rom. 11.5,6. 



LETTERS 203 

no merit of good works distinguishes? 3 This is said to us as if 
the Apostle himself had not seen it, had not stated it, had 
not answered it. On hearing these objections, he certainly 
saw what human weakness or ignorance can imagine, and 
stating the same question to himself, he says: 'What shall 
we say, then? Is there injustice with God? 5 and he answers at 
once: 'God forbid.' But in giving the reason why He should 
forbid, that is, why there is no injustice with God, he does 
not say: Tor He judges the merits or works of infants even 
though they are still enclosed in their mother's womb for 
how could he say this when he had already said of the unborn 
and of those who had not yet done either good or evil that 
'not of works but of him that calleth it was said to her : The 
elder shall serve the younger?' but when he wished to show 
why in these matters there is no injustice with God, he said: 
Tor he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will 
have mercy, and I will show mercy to whom I will show 
mercy.' 69 What did he here teach us but that, as death is the 
just due of the clay of the first man, it belongs to the mercy 
of God and not to the merits of man that anyone is saved, 
and that therein there is no injustice with God, because He 
is not unjust either in forgiving or in exacting the penalty. 
Mercy is free where just vengeance could be taken. From this 
it is more clearly shown what a great benefit is conferred on 
the one who is delivered from a just penalty and freely 
justified, while another, equally guilty, is punished without 
injustice on the part of the avenger. 

Finally, he adds this when he says: c So then it is not of 
him that willeth nor of him that runneth but of God that 
showeth mercy.' This is said of those who are justified and 
saved by grace. But of those on whom the anger of God 
rests, because God makes good use of them to teach others 
whom He deigns to save, he goes on and says: Tor the 

G9 Rom. 9.15; Exod. 33.19. 



204 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Scripture salth to Pharao: to this purpose have I raised thee 
that I may show my power in thee; and that my name may 
be declared throughout all the earth/ Then, making a con- 
clusion to both passages, he says: Therefore he hath mercy 
on whom he will and whom he will he hardeneth.' 70 
Obviously, He treats neither of these with injustice, but both 
with mercy and truth; in spite of that there is an uprising of 
insolent weakness on the part of those who attempt to com- 
prehend the unsearchable depth of the judgment of God 71 
according to the interpretations of the human heart, 

The Apostle refutes this view when he says: Thou wilt 
say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who 
resisteth his will?' 72 Let us imagine this as said to us. What 
other answer should we make than the one he made? If 
such ideas disturb us also because we, too, are men, we all 
have need to listen to the Apostle saying: O man, who art 
thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say 
to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? Or 
hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump 
to make one vessel unto honor, another unto dishonor?' 73 
If this lump of clay were of such indifferent value that It 
deserved nothing good any more than it deserved anything 
evil, there would be reason to see injustice in making of it a 
vessel unto dishonor; but when, through the free will of the 
first man alone, condemnation extended to the whole lump 
of clay, undoubtedly if vessels are made of it unto honor, it 
is not a question of justice not forestalling grace, but of God's 
mercy; if, however, vessels are made of it unto dishonor, it is 
to be attributed to the judgment of God, not to His injustice 
far be from us the thought that there could be any such with 



70 Rom. 8.16-18; Exod. 9.16. 

71 Rom. 11.33. 

72 Rom. 9.19. 

73 Rom. 9.20-21; Isa. 45.9; 29.16. 



LETTERS 205 

God ! Whoever Is wise in this matter with the Catholic Church 
does not argue against grace in favor of merit, but he sings 
mercy and judgment to the Lord/ 4 that he may not un- 
gratefully deny His mercy or unjustly upbraid His judgment* 

But that other lump is different, of which the same Apostle 
says : Tor if the first fruit be holy so is the lump also, and if 
the root be holy, so also are the branches.' 75 That lump is of 
Abraham, not of Adam; it is of the communion of the 
sacrament and of the likeness of faith, not of mortal genera- 
tion; whereas the former paste or, as we read in several 
versions, lump, is wholly given over to death, since c by one 
man sin entered into the world and by sin death and so 
death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned. 375 
Consequently, it is through mercy that one vessel is made 
unto honor, but through judgment that another is made unto 
dishonor. In the first case merit does not precede the grace 
of deliverance; in the second, sin does not escape the punish- 
ment of justice. In earlier ages this does not stand out so 
clearly against the objectors where those who argue for the 
merits of man are protected by a certain obscurity. But it 
was against their objection that the Apostle found those others 
among 'children not yet born, who had not yet done any 
good or evil; not of works but of him that calleth it was said: 
The elder shall serve the younger.' 

Therefore, since the judgments of God are exceedingly 
deep and incomprehensible and His ways unsearchable, let 
man meanwhile hold that there is no injustice with God; let 
him confess that as man he does not know with what justice 
God has mercy on whom He will and hardens whom He will. 
In virtue of the unshaken belief which he holds that there is 
no injustice with God, he knows that although no one is 

74 Ps. 100.1. 

75 Rom. 11.16. 

76 Rom. 5.12. 



206 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

justified because of antecedent merits, so no one is hardened 
unless he deserves it. Piety and truth make us believe that God 
saves harmful and wicked men by justifying them from the 
penalties which were their due, but if we believe that God 
condemns anyone who does not deserve it and who is not 
subject to any sin, we make God out to be not free from 
injustice. When the undeserving one is saved, his gratitude 
ought to be greater in proportion to the justice of his penalty, 
but when the undeserving is condemned neither mercy nor 
truth is maintained. 

'How is it,' they say, 'that Esau was not deservedly con- 
demned, if it was "not of works but of him that calleth it 
was said: The elder shall serve the younger"? For, just as 
there were no antecedent good works of his to call for 
grace, so there were no evil works to call for punishment/ 
Certainly there were no acutal works, either good or evil, in 
either of them, but both of them were subject to the one in 
whom all have sinned, that all should die in him. However 
many descendants there were to be from that one, in Mm 
they were then all one. Therefore, that sin would have been 
his alone if no other had descended from him, but henceforth 
no one who had a share in the common nature was to be 
immune from his sin. If, then, those twins, who had not 
performed any works of their own, either good or bad, were 
nevertheless born with the original guilt, let the one who is 
saved praise His mercy, the one who is chastised not blame 
His judgment. 

If upon this we were to say: 'How much better if both 
had been saved!' there will be no more appropriate answer 
for us than: 'O man, who art thou that repliest to God'? For, 
He surely knows what He is doing and how great a number 
there should be, first of all men, secondly of the saints, as He 
knows it of the stars, of the angels; and, to speak of earthly 
things, as He knows it of beasts, of fishes, of birds, of trees 



LETTERS 207 

and plants, and, to sum up, of leaves and of our hairs. We, 
with our human thought, can still say: 'Since all the things 
which He has made are good, how much better it would be if 
He had doubled or multiplied them, so that there would be 
many more than there are! If the world could not hold 
them, could He not make it as much bigger as He wished?' 
Yet, however far He went in making things more numerous,, 
or the world larger and more spacious, the same could still 
be said about increasing them, and there would be no limit to 
unbounded thought. 

But, as far as that goes, this can also be said: If there is a 
grace by which the unjust are justified, of which we are not 
allowed to doubt; if, as some claim, grace is always antecedent 
to free will, while punishment or reward are always sub- 
sequent to merit, what reason is there at all for God to create 
souls of whom He foresees that they will inevitably sin so as to 
be worthy of condemnation to eternal fire? For, although He 
has not created the sins, who but God created the very 
natures which are undoubtedly good in themselves, but in 
which there are bound to be defects leading to sin by reason 
of their freedom of will, and, in many, there would be such 
defects that eternal penalty would be their due? Why, except 
that He willed it? As to why He willed it, 'Who art thou, 
O man, that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say 
to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? Or 
hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to 
make vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?' 

And that we may now say what follows: 'What if God, 
willing to show his wrath and to make his power known, 
endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for 
destruction, that he might show the riches of his glory on the 
vessels of mercy ? m Here is the account given to man as far 
as it is owed to man if, indeed, he who argues for the 

77 Rom. 9.22,23. 



208 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

liberty of his own free will, subject to the slavery of such 
weakness, accepts even that account here are the reasons 
set forth in words: Therefore, who art thou that repliest 
against God, if God is willing to show his wrath and to 
make his power known?' because, being perfect, He is able 
to make good use of the wicked, provided we understand that 
they are wicked, not through any divine enactment but 
through a nature vitiated by the malice of its own will, a 
nature which was good when formed by God the Creator, 
'who endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for 
destruction.' But it is not true that the sins of angels or men 
are necessary to Him any more than the justice of any 
creature is necessary to Him; His purpose was 'that He 
might show the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,' 
that they might not pride themselves on their good works as if 
done by their own strength, but should humbly acknowledge 
that if the grace of God, not owed but freely given, had not 
delivered them, they would have seen as the reward of their 
merits just what was awarded to others of the same clay. 

There is, therefore, in the foreknowledge of God a pre- 
determined limit and number of saints, who love God as He 
has given them to do through the Holy Spirit poured forth 
in their hearts, 78 and for them c all things work together unto 
good to such as according to his purpose are called; for whom 
he foreknew he also predestinated to be made conformable to 
the image of his Son; that he might be the first-born among 
many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also 
called.' 70 Here we have to get the undertone of 'according 
to his purpose.' For there are others called but not chosen, 80 
because they are not called 'according to his purpose.' But 
c whom he called/ that is, 'according to his purpose,' 'them 

78 Rom. 5.5. 

79 Rom. 8.28-30. 

80 Matt. 20.16; 22.14, 



LETTERS 209 

also he justified, and whom he justified them also he 
glorified.' 81 These are c the children of the promise'; 82 these 
are the chosen who are saved by 'the election of grace/ as it 
is said : 'But if by grace it is not now by works, otherwise grace 
is no more grace.' 83 These are the vessels of mercy in whom 
God makes known the riches of His glory by means of the 
vessels of wrath. Through His Holy Spirit He makes of them 
'one heart and one soul/ 84 which blesses the Lord and does 
not forget all His recompenses; who forgiveth all its iniquities 
and healeth all its diseases; who redeemeth its life from 
destruction; who crowneth it with mercy and compassion,' 85 
because 'it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, 
but of God that showeth mercy.' 86 

But the rest of men who do not belong to that fellowship, 
although the goodness of God made their soul and body and 
whatever their nature possesses except sin, which the rebellion 
of a proud will inflicted on them, have been created by a 
foreknowing God that He might show in them what the free 
will of a deserter is worth without His grace, and that the 
vessels of mercy who have been set apart from that mass of 
clay, not through the merits of their own works, but by the 
grace of God, freely given, may learn, by the just and due 
penalties of the others, what has been bestowed on them, 
'that every mouth may be stopped/ 87 and 'that he that 
glorieth may glory in the Lord.' 88 

'If any man teach otherwise and consent not to the sound 
words of our Lord Jesus Christ/ 89 who said: 'The Son of 

81 Rom. 8.30. 

82 Rom. 9.8. 

83 Rom. 11.5,6. 

84 Acts 4.3U2. 

85 Cf. Ps. 102.1-4. 

86 Rom, 9.16. 

87 Rom. 3.19. 

88 1 Cor. 1.31; 2 Cor. 10.17. 

89 1 Tim. 6.3. 



210 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,' 90 for 
He did not say : 'which would have been lost/ but 'which was 
lost,' and what else does that show but that the nature of 
the whole human race was lost by the sin of the first man? 
whoever, then, teaches otherwise and consents not to that 
doctrine which is according to godliness defends human 
nature against the grace of the Saviour and the blood of the 
Redeemer, yet claims to be rated in name as a Christian. 
What will such a one have to say about the selection of infants, 
why one is admitted to the life of the second Man, while the 
other is left in the death of the first man? If he says that the 
merits of free will were antecedent to grace, the Apostle 
answers what we quoted above about children not yet born, 
who have done neither good nor evil; but if he says what is 
still maintained in the books which Pelagius is reported to 
have published quite recently although at the episcopal trial 
in Palestine it now appears that he repudiated those who say 
that the sin of Adam injured him alone and not the human 
race that is, if he says that both babies were born without 
sin and inherited no condemnation from the first man, cer- 
tainly, as he does not dare to deny that the one who was 
regenerated in Christ is admitted to the kingdom of heaven, 
let him answer what happens to the other one who, through 
no fault of his own, is cut off by a temporal death without 
baptism. We do not think he will say that God will condemn 
to eternal death an innocent soul, without original sin, before 
the age at which it could commit actual sin; he is therefore 
forced to answer as Pelagius did at the episcopal trial, when, 
in order to be considered some kind of Christian, he was 
forced to repudiate the doctrine that infants, even though 
unbaptized, possess eternal life. And when this has been 
denied, what will remain but eternal death? 

Thus, he will also argue against the sentence of the Lord 

90 Luke 19.10; Matt. 18.11. 



LETTERS 211 

when He said : 'Your fathers did eat manna in the desert and 
are dead; this is the bread which cometh down from heaven, 
that if any man eat of it he may not die/ 91 for He was not 
speaking of the death which even those who eat of the same 
Bread must necessarily undergo; and shortly afterward, when 
He said: 'Amen, amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the 
flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not 
have life in you/ 92 He meant that life which will follow after 
death. The objector will also argue against the authority of the 
Apostolic See which cited this testimony from the Gospel, 
while treating of the matter, to show that we should not 
believe unbaptized children can possess eternal life. 93 And 
he will contradict the very words of Pelagius himself as he 
pronounced them before the bishops who were hearing his 
case, in which he repudiated those who hold that unbaptized 
infants possess eternal life. 

We have repeated all this because, if what we hear is 
true, there are some among you, or rather in your city, who 
support that error with such obstinacy that they say they 
would sooner forsake and contemn Pelagius in his repudiation 
of those who hold these views than give up what seems to 
them the truth of this opinion. But, if they submit to the 
Apostolic See, or, rather, to the Master and Lord of the 
Apostles Himself, who says that they will not have life in 
them unless they eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink 
His blood, which they certainly cannot do unless they are 
baptized, doubtless at some time they will admit that un- 
baptized children cannot possess life, and that, although it 
will be more bearable for them than for all who commit 
actual sins as well, they will nevertheless pay the penalty of 
eternal death. 

91 John 6.49,50. 

92 John 6.54. 

93 Cf. Letter 182. 



212 SAINT AUGU STINE 

This being so, let them dare to argue and strive to convince 
those whom they can that a just God, with whom there is no 
injustice, would sentence to eternal death children innocent 
of actual sin if they were not bound by and involved in the 
sentence laid on Adam. But, if this is altogether absurd and 
thoroughly repugnant to the justice of God, no one who 
remembers that he is a Christian of the Catholic faith denies 
or doubts that children who have not received the grace of 
regeneration in Christ, who have not eaten His flesh or drunk 
His blood, have no life in them and are consequently subject 
to the penalty of everlasting death, and it certainly remains 
true that though they themselves have done neither good nor 
evil, the penalty of their death is just because they die in him 
in whom all have sinned, since they are alive in Him alone 
by whom original sin could not be bequeathed or actual sin 
committed. 

'He hath called us not only of the Jews but also of the 
Gentiles,' 94 since He gathered together the children whom He 
would of that Jerusalem which refused Him, which killed the 
Prophets and stoned those who were sent to her, 95 and this 
He did before His Incarnation in the case of the Prophets 
themselves, and after 'the Word was made flesh' 96 in the 
Apostles and the thousands of men who laid down the price 
of their goods at the feet of the Apostles. 97 All these were 
manifestly children of a Jerusalem unwilling that they should 
be gathered together, yet they were gathered together at His 
will, of whom He says : c lf I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by 
whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall 
be your judges.' 98 Of these the prophecy had been made; 
'If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the 

94 Rom. 9.24. 

95 Matt. 23.37; Luke 13.34. 

96 John 1.14. 

97 Acts 4.54. 

98 Matt. 12.37; Isa. 10.22; Osee 1.10. 



LETTERS 213 

sea, a remnant shall be saved.' 99 The word of God cannot 
miscarry, 100 'God hath not cast away his people which he 
foreknew/ 101 'even so, there is a remnant saved according to 
the election of grace. But if by grace/ as we must so often 
say, *it is not now by works, otherwise grace is no more 
grace. 5102 These are plainly the words of the Apostle, not 
ours. Therefore, what He called out to Jerusalem unwilling 
for her children to be gathered together, this we call out 
against those who are unwilling for their children to be 
gathered to the Church, although they themselves are willing. 
Those men have not even been converted after the trial 
which was held of that very Pelagius in Palestine, from 
which he would have issued condemned if he had not himself 
condemned what he could not cover up, namely, the objec- 
tionable words spoken by him against the grace of God. 

Besides this, there were other teachings brought against 
him which he had dared to defend with such reasoning as he 
could, and if he had not repudiated them without any shadow 
of evasion he would himself have been subject to anathema. 
He was accused of saying that Adam was created mortal and 
that he was destined to die whether he sinned or not; that 
his sin injured only himself and not the human race; that 
infants just born are in the state in which Adam was before 
the fall; that the whole race of men does not die through 
the death or fall of Adam, or does the race of men rise again 
through the Resurrection of Christ; that infants, even though 
not baptized, have eternal life; that, if the rich who are 
baptized do not renounce all things, they cannot be credited 
with any good they may have seemed to do, nor can they 
possess the kingdom of God; that the grace and help of God 

99 Rom. 9.27. 

100 Rom. 9.6. 

101 Rom. 11.2. 

102 Rom, 11.5,6. 



214 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

are not given for individual actions but reside in the free will, 
or in the Law and the doctrine; that the grace of God is given 
according to our merits; that none can be called children 
of God unless they have become entirely sinless; that free will 
does not exist if it needs the help of God, since each one has 
it in his own will to do or not to do something; that our victory 
is not through the help of God but through our free will; 
and that pardon is not given to the repentant according to 
the grace and mercy of God but according to the merit and 
effort of those who deserve mercy through their repentance. 103 
All these assertions Pelagius repudiated so thoroughly, as 
the official reports plainly show, that he left no ground to 
support any defense of them in any way. It results as a 
consequence that whoever follows the authority of that 
episcopal trial and the confession of Pelagius himself is obliged 
to believe what the Catholic Church has always held: that 
Adam would not have died if he had not sinned; that his 
sin injured not only himself but the human race; that new- 
born infants are not in the state in which Adam was before 
the fall and that the brief pronouncement of the Apostle does 
apply to them: c By one man came death and by one man 
the resurrection of the dead, and as in Adam all die, so also 
in Christ all shall be made alive.' 104 Whence it happens that 
unbaptized infants not only cannot attain the kingdom of 
heaven but cannot even possess eternal life. Let the believer 
confess also that the rich who are baptized cannot be deprived 
of the kingdom of heaven if they are such as the Apostle 
describes to Timothy when he says: 'Charge the rich of 
this world not to be high-minded nor to trust in the uncer- 
tainty of riches, but in the living God who giveth us abun- 
dantly all things to enjoy; to be rich in good works, to give 
easily, to communicate to others, to lay up in store for them- 

103 Cf. Augustine, De gestis Pelasni (CSEL 43, pp. 76-121) . 

104 1 Cor. 15.21,22. 



LETTERS 215 

selves a good foundation against the time to come, that 
they may lay hold on the true life.' 105 Let him confess that 
the helping grace of God is given to individual acts, and that 
it is not given according to our merits, that it may be truly 
grace, that is, freely given by the mercy of Him who said: 
'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will 
show mercy to whom I will show mercy.' 106 Let him confess 
that they who say daily : Torgive us our debts/ can be called 
the children of God, for they obviously could not say it with 
truth if they were entirely sinless. Let him confess that the 
will is free even though it has need of divine help. Let him 
confess that when we make war on temptations and unlawful 
passions, although our own will is engaged in the fight, our 
victory does not result from that but from the help of God; 
otherwise the Apostle's words would not be true: 'Not of 
him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that 
showeth mercy.' 107 Let him confess that pardon is granted to 
the repentant according to the grace and mercy of God, not 
according to his merits, since it is that very repentance which 
the Apostle called the gift of God when he said of certain 
ones: 'Lest peradventure God may give them repentance.' 108 
If anyone agrees to the authority of the Catholic Church 
and the words of Pelagius himself as quoted in the ecclesias- 
tical records, let him confess all these truths straightforwardly, 
without any evasions. For there is no reason to believe that 
the statements which are contrary to these have been truth- 
fully repudiated unless these statements, their contraries, are 
held with upright heart and made public with open admission. 
But, in the more recent books which the same Pelagius is 
said to have published since the trial it is not quite clear 
what he thinks on this point, although he appears to accept 

105 1 Tim. 6.17-19. 

106 Rom. 9.15; Exod. 33.19. 

107 Rom. 9.16. 

108 2 Tim. 2.25. 



216 SAINT AUGU STINE 

the idea of divine grace as a help. Sometimes he balances the 
power of the will with such equal weight in a poised scale 
that he defines it as having as much power to avoid sin as 
it has to sin. But, if this is so, no scope is left for the help of 
grace, without which, we say, the free will is not able to 
avoid sin. Sometimes he admits that we are fortified by the 
daily help of God's grace, although we have a free will 
strong and firm enough to avoid sin, whereas he ought to 
have confessed that our will is weak and feeble until all the 
maladies of our soul are cured. The Psalmist was not praying 
to be cured of weakness of body when he said : 'Have mercy 
on me, O Lord, for I am weak; heal me, O Lord, for my 
bones are troubled/ for by way of showing that he was 
praying for his soul he went on: c And my soul is troubled 
exceedingly.' 109 

It seems, therefore, that he thinks the help of grace can be 
conceded as something extra, that is, that even if it is not 
granted we still have a will strong and firm enough to avoid 
sin. We do not wish to be thought guilty of rash suspicion 
about him, and in case someone should say that he holds 
the free will strong and firm enough to avoid sin, although 
it cannot fulfill this without God's grace, in the way we say 
that healthy eyes are strong enough to see, but cannot possibly 
do so if the help of light is lacking, it is a fact that in another 
place he shows more plainly what he said or thought, when 
he says that the grace of God is given to men in this sense 
that what they are commanded to do by their free will they 
can accomplish more easily with the help of grace. Now, 
when he says 'more easily,' what else does he want us to 
understand except that, even if grace is lacking, the divine 
commandments can be accomplished by the free will either 
with ease or with difficulty? 110 

109 Ps. 6.3,4. 

110 CL Augustine, De gratia Christi 8.27 (CSEL 42, pp. 131-148). 



LETTERS 217 

Where does he say: 'What is man that thou art mindful of 
him?* 111 Where, again, are those evidences which, as we read 
in the records, the Bishop of Jerusalem relates that he cited 
to the said Pelagius when he was informed that the latter 
had said it is possible for man to be sinless without the grace 
of God? 112 These are the three texts he cited, very strong 
ones, against wicked presumption of this kind: where the 
Apostle said : ' I have labored more abundantly than all they, 
yet not I, but the grace of God with me,' 113 and 'not of him 
that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth 
mercy,' 114 and 'Except the Lord build the house, they labor 
in vain that build it.' 115 How, then, is God's commandment 
accomplished, even with difficulty, without His help, since, 
if the Lord does not build, the builder is said to have labored 
in vain; and since it is not written: 'It is indeed of him that 
willeth and runneth, but it is more easily of God that showeth 
mercy,' but it is written: 'Not of him that willeth nor of 
him that runneth but of God that showeth mercy/ not 
because man does not will and run, but because he can do 
nothing unless God shows him mercy; and since the Apostle 
did not say: 'And I,' but 'not I but the grace of God with me,' 
not because the Apostle did nothing good, but because he 
would have done nothing at all if grace had not helped him? 
Yet, that balancing of the power of free will, equally poised in 
the scale toward good and evil, leaves no scope for that ease 
which he seems at least to have admitted by saying: 'they 
could accomplish it more easily with grace,' for, if good is 
accomplished more easily with grace, evil is committed most 
easily without grace, in which case that possibility is not 
balanced on an even scale. 



111 Ps. 8.5. 

112 CL Aug. De gestis Pelagii, 37 (CSEL 42, pp. 93-94) . 

113 1 Cor. 15.10. 

114 Rom. 9.16. 

115 Ps. 126.1. 



218 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

What more is there to say? Not only should we take care 
to avoid these persons, but, if they allow it, we should even 
not be slothful in teaching and warning them. We do them 
a greater service if we unhesitatingly pray for their con- 
version, lest, with such great abilities, they should either be 
lost themselves, or destroy others by their damnable presump- 
tion, because c they have a zeal of God but not according to 
knowledge, for they, not knowing the justice of God,' that is, 
the justice which comes from God, 'and seeking to establish 
their own, have not submitted themselves to the justice of 
God.' 116 Certainly, as they are called Christians, they are 
more bound to observe this than were the Jews to whom the 
Apostle said it, that they might not stumble at the stumbling- 
stone, 117 by defending nature and free will as noisily as the 
philosophers of this world did, trying hard to be thought or to 
think themselves able to achieve happiness by the efficacy of 
their own will. Let them take care, then, not to make void the 
cross of Christ by wisdom of speech, 118 lest this be to them a 
way of stumbling at the stumbling-stone. For, even if human 
nature had remained in the integrity in which it was created, 
it would have been utterly impossible for it to preserve itself 
so without the help of its Creator. Therefore, as it could not, 
without the grace of God, guard the salvation which it had 
received, how can it recover, without the grace of God, that 
salvation which it has lost? 

But we should not refrain from praying for these heretics 
on the ground that their failure to amend is chargeable to 
their will, since they refuse to believe that they need the 
Saviour's grace for this very amendment, holding that it 
derives from their own will alone. In this matter they are 
exactly like the Jews to whom the Apostle said that, c not 

116 Rom. 10.2,3, 

117 Rom. 9.32. 

118 1 Cor. 1.17. 



LETTERS 219 

knowing the justice of God and seeking to establish their 
own, they have not submitted themselves to the justice of 
God/ because it is clear that they did not believe in the 
deficiency of their own will For, they were not forced against 
their will to become unbelievers, but by their refusal to 
believe they become responsible for the crime of unbelief. Yet, 
because the will is not sufficient to move man to believe the 
truth unless God helps him with His grace, as the Lord Him- 
self said when He spoke of unbelievers: No man cometh to 
me unless it be given him by my Father/ 119 for that reason, 
although the Apostle was preaching the Gospel to them con- 
stantly, he saw that he would accomplish little unless he also 
prayed for them to believe. So he said : 'Brethren, the will of 
my heart indeed and my prayer to God is for them unto 
salvation,' and then he added the words which we have 
quoted: Tor I bear them witness that they have a zeal of 
God, but not according to knowledge,' 120 and the rest. Let us 
therefore pray for them, holy brother. 

No doubt you are one with us in seeing what an evil error 
holds them, for your letters are fragrant with the genuine 
perfume of Christ, and in them you stand out as an intimate 
lover and defender of grace itself. But the reason why we 
have thought it well to speak with you at such length on 
this matter is first, because our delight is so great in doing it, 
for what could be more delightful to the sick than the grace 
which heals them, or to the sluggish than the grace which 
helps them? In the second place, if we were able with God's 
help to accomplish anything by our arguments, we aimed to 
support, not your faith, but your profession of the faith against 
such men, as we also have been helped to this opportunity by 
your Fraternity's letters. 

For, what is more fruitful or more filled with the truest 

119 John 6.66. 

120 Rom. 10.1,2. 



220 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

confession than that passage in one of your letters in which 
you humbly bewail the fact that our nature did not remain 
as it was created, but was debased by the father of the 
human race? In it you said : ' "But I am poor and sorrow- 
ful/ 5121 I, that am still hardened in the filth of an earthly 
image, having in me more of the first Adam than of the 
second, still give my attention to the senses of the flesh and 
to earthly acts. How shall I dare to depict myself when earthly 
corruption proves that I deny my heavenly image? I blush to 
paint what I am, I do not dare to paint what I am not. 
But what good will it do me, wretched as I am, to hate 
iniquity and to love virtue, 122 when I do rather what I hate 
and am too sluggish to strive to do what I love? I am torn 
asunder, fighting with myself in an interior warfare, while 
"the spirit lusteth against the flesh and the flesh against the 
spirit," 123 and the law of my body under the law of sin 
fights against the law of my mind* 124 Unhappy I that have 
absorbed the poisonous taste of that hateful tree, not the 
wood of the cross I The ancestral poison hardens in me, from 
Adam the father, who by his fall has undone the whole 
race/ 125 These and many other things you said, groaning over 
your misery and expecting the redemption of your body, 
knowing yourself saved by hope, if not yet in fact. 126 

But perhaps you transformed another into yourself when 
you said this, and you do not now suffer these hateful and 
importunate motions of the flesh lusting against the spirit, 
although you do not admit it. But, in any case, you, or 
whoever else suffers these ills, are also awaiting the grace of 
Christ through which you are delivered from e the body of 

121 Ps. 68.30. 

122 Ps. 44.8. 

123 Gal. 5.17. 

124 Rom. 7.23. 

125 Paulinus of Nola, Ep. 30.2 (CSEL 29) . 

126 Rom. 8.23,24. 



LETTERS 



221 



this death.' 127 You do not see it openly in yourself but as it 
was hidden in that man when the forbidden food was touched 
and desired, and destruction would have fallen far and wide 
over all men, if He who was not lost had not come fi to seek 
and to save that which was lost.' How fervent your letter is 
in praying and asking with groans for help in advancing and 
in living well ! What part of your letter is not sprinkled over 
with tender sighs such as we utter in the Lord's prayer: 
'Lead us not into temptation 9 ? 128 Let us then console and 
encourage each other in all these ways, and let us help each 
other as much as the Lord grants us to do. Your Holiness 
will hear from our mutual friend 129 what we have heard and 
about whom, which causes us much grief, but which we find 
it hard to believe. When he comes back safe, by the mercy 
of God, we hope to be informed about everything. 



787. Augustine, bishop, to his beloved brother, Dardanus 1 

(Mid 417) 



On the Presence of God 



Chapter 1 

I confess that I have been slower than I should have been 
in answering our letter, my dearest brother, Dardanus, whom 
I hold in higher esteem for the charity of Christ than for 
your worldly rank. But please do not ask the reasons for my 

127 Rom. 7.24. 

128 Matt. 6.13; Luke 11.4. 

129 Januarius, the bearer of the letter. 

1 Prefect of the province of Gaul. 



222 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

delay, for I should only cause you more annoyance by my 
long-winded excuse than you have already suffered by rny 
tardy reply, and 1 would rather you gave an easy pardon to 
my offense than a verdict on my defense. Whatever those 
reasons may have been, believe me that not any of them 
could have involved my holding you in slight esteem. On the 
contrary, if I had had no respect for you I should have 
answered you immediately. But my reason for answering you 
at long last. is not because at long last I have composed 
something at least worth your perusal, something which can 
deserve to be dedicated under your name; as a matter of 
fact, I have chosen to answer you now rather than allow the 
summer to pass, leaving me still in your debt for this courtesy. 
And it was not your high position which intimidated me and 
made me hold back, for your kindly manner attracts more 
than your rank repels me. But because I love you so much I 
find it proportionately difficult to measure up to the great 
eagerness of your religious affection. 



Chapter 2 

Moreover, in addition to that flame of mutual charity 
which makes us love even those whom we have never seen, 
provided they have what we love in which you outstrip me 
and make me fear to fall short of your opinion and expecta- 
tion of me in addition to that, you have asked me such 
questions in your letter that if they were proposed by anyone 
else they would present no slight task for the free time which 
is lacking to rne. But when they are proposed by you, with 
your mind accustomed to probing into profound truths, a 
summary solution of them would be utterly insufficient. 
Besides, they have been propounded to a very busy man who is 
besieged and beset by an army of cares, so it is for your 



LETTERS 223 

Prudence and Benevolence to figure out how I may appease 
you either for not answering for so long or for not answering 
even now in accord with the intensity of your interest. 



Chapter 3 

You ask, then, in what manner the 'Mediator of God and 
men, the man, Christ Jesus,' 1 is now believed to be in heaven, 
when, hanging on the cross and at the point of death, He 
said to the believing thief: 'This day thou shalt be with me 
in paradise. 52 You say that from this we are to understand, 
perhaps, that paradise is established in some part of heaven, 
or that, because God is everywhere, the man also who is 
in God is present everywhere. From this, no doubt, you wish 
to deduce that He who is everywhere could also be in paradise. 



Chapter 4 

At this point I inquire, or rather I recognize, in what way 
you understand Christ as man. Surely not as certain heretics 
do who assert that He is the Word of God with a body, but, 
that is, without a human soul, the Word serving as soul for 
His body; 1 or, as the Word of God with a soul and a body 
but without a human mind, the Word of God serving as 
mind to His soul. 2 You certainly do not understand Christ as 
man in this sense, but, as you expressed it above when you 
said that you accepted Christ as almighty God, with this 

1 Tim. 2.5. 

2 Luke 23.43. 

1 The Arians. 

2 The Apollinarists. 



224 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

formula of belief that you would not believe Him God if you 
had not believed Him perfect man. Obviously, when you 
say perfect man, you mean that the whole human nature is 
there, for a man Is not perfect if either a soul is lacking to 
the body or a human mind to the soul. 



Chapter 5 

If, then, we think He said: This day thou shalt be with 
me in paradise/ according to the human nature which God 
the Word assumed, we cannot conclude from these words that 
paradise is in heaven, for the man Christ Jesus was not to be 
in heaven that day, but in hell as to His soul, in the tomb 
as to His body. And the Gospel is absolutely clear about His 
body being placed that day in the tomb; 1 while apostolic 
teaching reveals that His soul descended into hell, since 
blessed Peter bears witness to this fact from the Psalms, where 
he shows that the following prophecy was made of Him: 
'Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor wilt thou 
give thy holy one to see corruption. 52 The first part of this 
was said of His soul, because it was not left there, but 
returned from there very quickly; the second part refers to 
His body, which was not able to suffer corruption because of 
its speedy resurrection. But no one thinks that paradise was 
in the tomb. If anyone were so foolish as to try to justify 
that opinion because the tomb was a garden, 3 he would 
certainly find it untenable, because the one to whom Christ 
said: 'This day thou shalt be with me in paradise' was not 
with Christ in the tomb on any day. Moreover, the burial of 
his body, unconscious alike of joy or sorrow in death, would 

1 Matt. 27.60; Mark 15.46; Luke 23.53; John 19.41,42. 

2 Ps. 15.10; Acts 2.27. 

3 Paradisus. 



LETTERS 225 

not have been offered to him as the great reward of his 
faith, when he was thinking of that rest where his conscious 
being would go. 

Chapter 6 

It remains, then, that if the words, This day thou shalt be 
with me in paradise,' were spoken in a human sense, paradise 
would be understood to be in hell, where Christ was to be 
that day in His human soul. But I would find it hard to say 
whether the bosom of Abraham where the wicked rich man, 
from the torments of hell in which he was, saw the poor man 
reposing is to be included under the term paradise, or con- 
sidered as belonging to hell. Of the rich man, indeed, we 
read the words : 'But the rich man also died and was buried/ 
and 'when he was in the torments of hell.' In the case of the 
death or repose of the poor man there is no mention of hell, 
but it says: 'It came to pass that the begger died and was 
carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.' After that, 
Abraham says to the rich man in the flame : c Between us and 
you there is fixed a great chaos,' 1 as if it were between hell 
and the abodes of the blessed, for it is not easy to find the 
word hell used in a good sense anywhere in the Scriptures. 
Hence, the question is usually raised how we can reverently 
believe that the soul of the Lord Christ was in hell, if the 
word is not taken in any but the penal sense. A good answer 
to this is that he descended there to rescue those who were to 
be rescued. Consequently, blessed Peter says that he loosed the 
sorrows of hell in which it was 'impossible that he should be 
held.' 2 Besides, if we are to believe that there are two regions 
in hell, one of the suffering and one of the souls at rest, that 
is, both a place where the rich man was tormented and one 

1 Cf. Luke 16.22-26. 

2 Acts 2.24. 



226 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

where the poor man was comforted, who would dare to say 
that the Lord Jesus came to the penal parts of hell instead 
of only among those who rest in Abraham's bosom? If He 
was there, then, we must understand that as paradise which 
He deigned to promise to the soul of the thief on that day. 
In that case, the word paradise is a general term meaning a 
state of living in happiness. But the fact of the place where 
Adam lived before the fall being called paradise did not 
prevent Scripture from calling the Church paradise, also, with 
the fruit of apples. 

Chapter 7 

However, Christ may be assumed to have said: 'This day 
thou shalt be with me in paradise/ in a much easier sense 
and one free of all these subtleties, if He said it not as man 
but as God. Manifestly, the man Christ was to be that day 
in the tornb as to His body, in hell as to His soul, but as God, 
Christ Himself is always everywhere present. For He is the 
light which shines in the darkness although the darkness does 
not comprehend it. 1 He is the strength and wisdom of God 
of which it is written that 'it reacheth from end to end 
mightily and ordereth all things sweetly, 52 and that c it 
reacheth every where because of its purity and nothing defiled 
cometh to it.' 3 Therefore, wherever paradise may be, who- 
ever is blessed is there with Him who is everywhere. 



Chapter 8 
Since, then, Christ is God and man God, as He tells us in 

1 John 1.5. 

2 Wisd. 8.L 

3 Cf. Wisd. 7.24,25. 



LETTERS 227 

the words: C I and the Father are one,' 1 man, as He says in 
'The Father is greater than I' 2 but equally son of God, 
Only-begotten of the Father, 3 and Son of man e of the seed 
of David according to the flesh,' 4 we must take account of 
both these natures in Him when He speaks or when Scripture 
speaks of Him, and we must mark in what sense anything is 
said. For, just as a single man is rational soul and body, so 
the single Christ is Word and man. Therefore, in what 
pertains to the Word, Christ is creator: A11 things were made 
by him,' 5 but as man Christ was created e of the seed of David 
according to the flesh' and c made in the likeness of men.' 6 
Likewise, because man is a duality, soul and body, according 
to the soul, He was sorrowful unto death; according to the 
flesh, He suffered death. 7 



Chapter 9 

Nevertheless, when we say that Christ is the Son of God we 
do not separate His humanity from Him, nor when we say 
that the same Christ is the Son of man do we lose sight of 
His divinity. For, as man He was on earth, not in heaven 
where He now is, when He said: 'No man ascendeth into 
heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man 
who is in heaven,' 1 although in His nature as Son of God He 
was in heaven, but as Son of man He was still on earth and 
had not yet ascended into heaven. In like manner, although 

1 John 10.30. 

2 John 14.28. 

3 John 1.14. 

4 Rom. L3. 

5 John 1.3. 

6 Phil. 2.7. 

7 Matt. 26.38; Mark 14.34. 

1 John 3.13. 



228 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

in His nature as Son of God He is the Lord of glory, in His 
nature as Son of man He was crucified, since the Apostle says: 
Tor if they had known it they would never have crucified the 
Lord of glory.' 2 Thus, the Son of man as God was in heaven 
and the Son of God as man was crucified on earth. As, then, 
it could rightly be said that the Lord of glory was crucified, 
although His Passion belonged to His humanity alone, so He 
could rightly say: This day thou shalt be with me in 
paradise,' since, although in terms of His human lowliness He 
was going to be in the tomb as to His body, in hell as to 
His soul, in terms of His divine immutability He had never left 
paradise because He is always everywhere present. 



Chapter 10 

Do not doubt, then, that the man Christ Jesus is now there 
whence He shall come again; cherish in your memory and 
hold faithfully to the profession of your Christian faith that 
He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, sitteth at the 
right hand of the Father, 1 and will come from no other 
place but there to judge the living and the dead; and He 
will so come, on the testimony of the angel's voice, as He 
was seen going into heaven, 2 that is, in the same form and 
substance of flesh to which, it is true, He gave immortality, 
but He did not take away its nature. According to this form, 
we are not to think that He is everywhere present. We must 
beware of so building up the divinity of the man that we 
destroy the reality of His body. It does not follow that what is 
in God is in Him so as to be everywhere as God is. The 

2 1 Cor. 2.8. 

1 Mark 16.19; Luke 26.69; Col. 3.1; Heb. L3; 10.12. 

2 2 Tim. 4.1; Acts 1.10,11. 



LETTERS 229 

Scripture says, with perfect truth: c ln him we live and move 
and are,' 3 yet we are not everywhere present as He is, but 
man is in God after one manner, while God is in man quite 
differently, in His own unique manner. God and man in Him 
are one Person, and both are the one Jesus Christ who is 
everywhere as God, but in heaven as man. 



Chapter 11 

Although in speaking of Him we say that God is every- 
where present, we must resist carnal ideas and withdraw our 
rnind from our bodily senses, and not imagine that God is 
distributed through all things by a sort of extension of size, 
as earth or water or air or light are distributed for in each 
of these the part is less in extent than the whole but, 
rather, in the way in which there is great wisdom in a man 
whose body is small, so that, if there were two wise men of 
whom one is taller in stature but neither one wiser than the 
other, there would not be greater wisdom in the taller one 
and less in the smaller, nor less in one than in the two, but 
as much in one as in the other and as much in each one as in 
both; for, if both are absolutely equally wise, the two together 
are not wiser than each one separately. In the same way, if 
they are equally immortal, the two do not live longer than 
each one individually. 

Chapter 12 

Finally, the very immortality of body which Christ first 
experienced and which is promised to us at the end of the 
world is indeed a great thing, but it is not great in size, for, 
although it is corporeally possessed, it is an incorporeal per- 

3 Acts 17.28. 



230 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

fection. So, although the Immortal body is less in one part 
than in the whole, its immortality is as complete in the part 
as in the whole, and, although some members are larger than 
others, it does not follow that some are more immortal than 
others. In the same way, in this life, when we are in good 
health in every part of us, according to the present mode of 
well-being in our body, we do not say that because the whole 
hand is larger than the finger the health of the whole hand is 
greater than that of the finger, but it is equal in these unequal 
members. Thus, when smaller things are compared to larger 
ones, it can happen that one thing may not be as large as 
another, but it can be as healthy. There would be greater 
health in larger members if the larger were more healthy; 
since this is not so, but the larger and smaller are equally 
healthy, there is obviously a disparity of size in the dimensions 
of the members coinciding with a similarity of health in the 
dissimilar. 

Chapter 13 

Since, then, the body is a substance, its quantity is in the 
greatness of its bulk, whereas its health is not a quantity but 
a quality of it. Thus, the quantity of the body could not 
attain what its quality could. Quantity is found in the separate 
parts which cannot be together in the same place, since each 
one occupies its own space, the smaller ones less and the 
larger ones more, and it could not be entire, or even as great, 
in the several parts; but it is larger in the larger parts and 
less in the smaller ones, and in no part as- great as it is in the 
whole body. On the other hand, a quality, such as we say 
health is, is as great in the smaller parts as in the larger ones 
when the whole body is in health, and the parts which are 
less extensive are not thereby less healthy nor are the larger 
parts more healthy. God forbid, then, that a quality which 



LETTERS 23 1 

can be found In a created body would not exist in the very 
substance of the Creator. 

Chapter 14 

Therefore, God is poured forth in all things. He Himself 
says by the Prophet: 'I fill heaven and earth,' and, as I 
quoted a short time before of His wisdom: He reacheth 
from end to end mightily and ordereth all things sweetly.' 2 
It is likewise written: 'The Spirit of the Lord hath filled 
the whole world,' 3 and one of the Psalms has these words 
addressed to Him: 'Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or 
whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend up into heaven, 
thou art there; if I descend into hell thou art there.' 4 Yet 
God so permeates all things as to be not a quality of the 
world, but the very creative substance of the world, ruling 
the world without labor, sustaining it without effort. Never- 
theless, He is not distributed through space by size so that 
half of Him should be in half of the world and half in the 
other half of it. He is wholly present in all of it in such wise as 
to be wholly in heaven alone and wholly in the earth alone, 
and wholly in heaven and earth together; not confined in any 
place, but wholly in Himself everywhere. 



Chapter 15 

Thus He is as the Father, thus as the Son, thus as the Holy 
Spirit, thus as the Trinity, one God. They did not divide the 
world among them into three parts, each One filling a sep- 

1 Jer. 23.24. 

2 Wisd. 8.1. 

3 Wisd. L7. 

4 Ps. 138.7,8. 



232 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

arate part, as if the Son and the Holy Spirit would not have 
any part to be in if the Father had occupied the whole. A 
truly incorporeal and immutable divinity does not exist on 
those terms. They are not bodies, so that the Three together 
should be larger than each One separately; They do not hold 
places by Their extension so as not to be able to be in different 
places at the same time. For, if our soul, established in our 
body, not only does not feel crowded but even finds a sort of 
breadth, not of physical space, but of spiritual joys, when it 
happens as the Apostle says: 'Know you not that your 
bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom 
you have from God? 51 and it would be the height of foolish- 
ness to say that there is no room for the Holy Spirit in our 
body because our soul fills it all up, how much more foolish 
to say that the Trinity could be prevented by crowding from 
being anywhere, so that the Father and the Son and the Holy 
Spirit could not be everywhere at the same time! 



Chapter 16 

Here is something much more remarkable: although God 
is everywhere wholly present, He does not dwell in everyone, 
It is not possible to say to all what the Apostle says, or what 
I have just said, or even this: 'Know you not that you are 
the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in 
you?' 1 Hence, of some the same Apostle says the opposite: 
'Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of 
his. 52 Who, then, would dare to think, unless he were com- 
pletely ignorant of the inseparability of the Trinity, that the 

l 1 Cor. 6.19. 

1 I Cor. 3.16. 

2 Rom. 8.9. 



LETTERS 233 

Father or the Son could dwell in someone in whom the Holy 
Spirit does not dwell, or that the Holy Spirit could be present 
in someone in whom the Father and the Son are not present? 
Hence it must be admitted that God is everywhere by the 
presence of His divinity, but not everywhere by the grace of 
His indwelling. It is because of this indwelling, in which the 
grace of His love is recognized with certainty, that we do 
not say: 'Our Father, who art everywhere,' but 'Our Father 
who art in heaven,' 3 so that in our prayer we recall His 
temple which we ought to be ourselves, and the measure of 
our being such is the measure of our belonging to His 
fellowship and His family of adoption. 4 For, if the people 
of God, not yet made equal to the angels, 5 and still absent 
from the Lord, 6 is called His temple, how much more true is 
it that His temple is in heaven where the people of His angels 
dwell, to whom we are to be joined and made equal, when, 
after our pilgrimage, we attain to what has been promised ! 



Chapter 17 

Therefore, He that is everywhere does not dwell in all, 
and He does not even dwell equally in those in whom He 
does dwell. Otherwise, what is the meaning of the request 
made by Eliseus that there might be in him double the Spirit 
of God that was in Elias? 1 And how is it that among the 
saints some are more holy than others, except that they have 
a more abundant indwelling of God? How, then, did we 
speak the truth when we said above that God is everywhere 

3 Matt. 6.9. 

4 Rom. 8.15; Gal. 4.5. 

5 Luke 20.36. 

6 2 Cor. 5.6. 

1 4 Kings 2.9. 



234 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

wholly present if He is more amply present in some, less in 
others? But it should be noticed with care that we said He is 
everywhere wholly present in Himself, not in things of which 
some have a greater capacity for Him, others less. He is said to 
be present everywhere because He is absent from no part of 
the universe, and wholly present because He does not give 
one part of Himself to one half of creation and another part 
to the other half, in equal shares, or less to a smaller part 
and more to a larger one; but, He is not only wholly present 
to the whole universe, He is equally so to each part of it. 
Those who have become wholly unlike Him by sinning are 
said to be far from Him; those who receive His likeness by a 
virtuous life are said to draw near to Him, just as it is correct 
to say that eyes are farther from the light of day the more 
blind they are, for what is so far from light as blindness, 
even though the light of day be near at hand and shine upon 
sightless eyes? But it is correct to say that eyes draw near to 
the light when they advance to a recovery of sight through 
improvement in health. 

Chapter 18 

However, I see that a more careful explanation is needed 
of my reason for adding 'in Himself to my statement that 
God is everywhere wholly present, because I think this could 
be taken in an ambiguous sense. How is He everywhere if 
He is in Himself? Everywhere, of course, because He is 
nowhere absent; in Himself, because He is not dependent 
on the things in which He is present, as if He could not exist 
without them. Take away the spatial relations of bodies, they 
will be nowhere, and because they are nowhere they will not 
be at all. Take away bodies from the qualities of bodies, 
there will be no place for them to be, and, as a necessary 
consequence, they will not exist. For, even when a body is 



LETTERS 235 

equally healthy throughout its whole mass, or equally hand- 
some, neither its health nor its beauty is greater in any part 
than in any other, nor greater in the whole than in the part, 
since it is evident that the whole is not any more healthy or 
more handsome than the part. But, if it should be unequally 
healthy or unequally handsome, it can happen that there 
might be greater health or beauty in a smaller part when 
the smaller members are more healthy or more beautiful than 
the larger ones, because what we call great or small in 
qualities does not depend on size. However, if the size itself 
of the body, however great or small it may be, should be 
taken away entirely, there will be nothing in which its 
qualities can subsist. But, in the case of God, if less is received 
by the one in whom He is present, He is not thereby lessened. 
For He is entire in Himself, and He is not present in any 
such way as to need them, as if He could not exist except in 
them. Just as He is not absent from the one in whom He 
does not dwell, but is wholly present even though this one 
does not possess Him, so He is wholly present in the one in 
whom He does dwell, although this one does not receive Him 
wholly. 

Chapter 19 

He does not divide Himself among the hearts or bodies of 
men in order to dwell in them, giving one part of Himself to 
this one, another to that one, like the sunlight coming through 
the doors and windows of houses. He is rather to be compared 
to sound, although it is a corporeal and transitory thing, 
which a deaf man does not receive at all, a partly deaf one 
does not receive entirely, and of those who hear and are 
equally near it, one receives more than another in proportion 
as his hearing is keener, another less according as he is harder 
of hearing, yet the sound itself does not vary from more to 



236 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

less, but in the place where all of them are it is equally present 
to all. How much more perfect than this is God, whose nature 
is incorporeal and unchangeably living, who cannot be pro- 
longed and divided like sound by intervals of time, who does 
not need airy space as a place in whch to exist, so as to be 
near to those who are present, but who remains eternally 
steadfast in Himself, who can be wholly present to all and to 
each, and although those in whom He dwells possess Him in 
proportion to the diversity of their own capacity, some more, 
some less, He builds up all of them by the grace of His 
goodness as His most beloved temple! 1 



Chapter 20 

The expression 'diversities of graces' is used as if they were 
parts and members of one body in which we are all one temple 
taken together, but individually we are individual temples, 
because God is not greater in all than He is in each, and it 
often happens that the many receive Him less, the one more. 
When the Apostle said: 'There are diversities of graces/ he 
at once added: But the same Spirit. 51 Likewise, when he had 
listed these same diversities of graces, he said: 'But all these 
things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one 
according as he will 5 ; 2 dividing, therefore, but not Himself 
those diversities are spoken of as members in the body, because 
the ears have not the same function as the eyes, and, so, 
divided, because He Himself is one and the same. Thus, 
different duties are harmoniously allotted to the different 
members. However, when we are in good health, in spite of 

1 1 Cor. 3.16; 6.19; 2 Cor. 6.16. 

1 1 Cor. 12.4. 

2 1 Cor. 12.11. 



LETTERS 237 

these members being different, they rejoice in a common and 
equal health, 3 all together, not separately, not one with more, 
another with less. The head of this body is Christ/ the unity 
of this body is proved by our sacrifice, which the Apostle 
refers to briefly when he says: Tor we being many are one 
bread, one body.' 5 Through our Head we are reconciled to 
God, because in Him the divinity of the only-begotten Son 
shared in our mortality, that we might be made sharers in 
His immortality. 

Chapter 21 

This mystery is far removed from the hearts of the prideful 
wise, but not from Christian hearts; consequently, not from 
the truly wise. By those other wise I mean the ones who have 
known God, 'because when they knew God, 5 as the Apostle 
says, 'they have not glorified him as God or given thanks. 51 
But you know in what sacrifice the words occur: 'Let us give 
thanks to the Lord our God.' 2 The pride and pretention of 
such men as these are far removed from the humility of this 
sacrifice. So, it is remarkable how God dwells in some souls 
who do not yet know Him and does not dwell in those who do. 
These latter do not belong to the temple of God, 'who know- 
ing God have not glorified him or given thanks/ yet little 
children, sanctified by the sacrament of Christ and regen- 
erated by the Holy Spirit, do belong to the temple of God, 
although it is certain that they cannot yet know God because 
of their age. Thus, the one group have been able to know 
God but not to possess Him; the other have been able to 

3 1 Cor. 12.26. 

4 Col. 1.18. 

5 1 Cor. 10.17. 

1 Rom. 1.21. 

2 Words found in the Preface of the Mass. 



238 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

possess Him before they knew Him. But most blessed are 
those to whom knowing God is the same as possessing Him, 
for that is the most complete, true, and happy knowledge. 



Chapter 22 

It is now time to take up that question which you added to 
your letter after you had signed it : 'If infants are still without 
knowledge of God, how was it possible for John, even before 
his birth, to leap for joy in his mother's womb, at the coming 
and in the presence of the Mother of the Lord?' After men- 
tioning that you had read my book, On the Baptism of 
Infants, you added these words: C I should like to know what 
you think about pregnant mothers, when the mother of John 
the Baptist answered in her son's name for the faith of his 
belief. 5 

Chapter 23 

These are certainly the words of Elizabeth, mother of 
John: 'Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit 
of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the Mother of 
my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the 
voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my 
womb leaped for joy. 31 But, in order that she might be able 
to say this, the Evangelist forewarns us that she was filled 
with the Holy Spirit,' 2 and it is clear that she knew by His 
inspiration what that leaping of her infant signified, that is, 
the coming of the Mother of Him whose forerunner and 
announcer he was to be. It was possible for that to be a sign 
of a great happening which the older people should know, 
but not of something known by the infant. For, in the 

1 Luke 1.41-44. 

2 Luke 1.41. 



LETTERS 



239 



introductory part of this narration in the Gospel it did not 
say : The infant believed in her womb/ but c he leaped' ; and 
she did not say: The infant leaped for faith in my womb, 5 
but 'he leaped for joy.' We see instances of this leaping not 
only in children but even in animals, although certainly not 
for any faith or religion or rational recognition of someone 
coming; but this case stands out as utterly uncommon and 
new, because it took place in a womb, and at the coming of 
her who was to bring forth the Saviour of men. Therefore, 
this leaping, this greeting, so to speak, offered to the Mother 
of the Lord is miraculous, it is to be reckoned among the 
great signs, it was not effected by human means by the infant, 
but by divine means in the infant, as miracles are usually 
wrought. 

Chapter 24 

Yet, even if the use of reason and will were so advanced 
in the child that he was able, from within his mother's womb, 
to recognize, believe, and assent to what in other children 
has to await the proper age, even this is to be considered 
among the miracles of divine power, not adduced as an 
example of human nature. For, when God willed it, even a 
dumb beast spoke rationally, 1 yet not for this are men advised 
to expect the counsel of asses in their deliberations. Therefore, 
I neither reject what happened to John, nor do I set it up as a 
norm of what is to be thought of infants; on the contrary, I 
pronounce that in him it was miraculous, because I do not 
find it in others. There is something similar to it in that 
struggle of the twins in the womb of Rebecca, but this was 
such a prodigy that the woman consulted the divine oracle 
and learned that two nations were prefigured by those two 
infants. 2 

1 Num. 22.28. 

2 Gen. 25.22,23. Balaam and the ass. 



240 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 25 

However, if we wish to show by words that infants do not 
know divine things in fact, they do not yet know human 
thmgs i f ear that we may seem to do an injury to our own 
senses, since our persuasion is done by speaking, in which all 
the force and function of speech easily overpower the evidence 
of truth. Do we not see that even when infants begin to 
utter any syllables at all of articulate speech, and pass from 
infancy 1 to the beginning of speech, they still think and say 
such things as would make anyone but a fool not hesitate to 
call them fools if they remained persistently in that state as 
they advanced in years? Unless, perhaps, it remains for us to 
believe that infants were wise in the wailing of infancy or in 
the silence of the womb, but, after they began to speak to us, 
they came, as they grew up, to that degree of ignorance which 
we deride. You see how absurd it is to think that, for, when 
the consciousness of children issues in any kind of words, it is 
almost nothing in comparison with what its elders know, but, 
compared to the state in which children are born, it can be 
called intelligence. Why, in that safeguard of salvation, when 
Christian grace is made available to them, although they 
struggle against it with all their might by voice and movement, 
are they not held responsible for it, and why has all that 
effort of theirs no effect until the sacrament is completed in 
them, by which the guilt derived from the original damnation 
is expiated, unless because, in so far as they do not know 
what they are doing, they are not judged for doing it? Besides, 
what Christian does not know that if they had the use of 
reason and free will, which would require assent to the 
sanctifying act, what an evil it would be to resist so great a 
grace, and how useless the act performed would be to them, 
or even what an increase of guilt it would bring? 

1 Infantia means, literally, 'speechlessness.' 



LETTERS 241 

Chapter 26 

We say, then, that the Holy Spirit dwells in baptized 
children although they do not know it. They are unconscious 
of Him although He is in them, just as they are unconscious 
of their own mind, and the reason in them which they cannot 
yet use is like a covered spark waiting to be enkindled by 
oncoming age. And this ought not to seem strange in the 
case of infants, since the Apostle says to some of their elders, 
also: 'Know you not that you are the temple of God and 
that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 5 And, shortly before, 
he had said: 'But the sensual man perceiveth not these 
things that are of the Spirit of God.' 1 Such as these he also 
calls little ones, not in carnal but in spiritual age. 2 Thus, 
their understanding did not recognize the Holy Spirit who 
dwelt in them, and they were still carnal, not spiritual, in 
spite of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in them, because 
their understanding could not recognize His indwelling Spirit. 



Chapter 27 

He is said to dwell in such as these because He works in 
them secretly that they may be His temple, and He perfects 
His work in them as they advance in virtue and persevere in 
their progress. Tor we are saved by hope/ 1 as the Apostle 
says, and he repeats in another place: 'He saved us by the 
laver of regeneration. 52 Therefore, when he says: c He saved 
us, 5 as if salvation itself had already been given us, he explains 

1 1 Cor. 2.14. 

2 I Cor. 3.1. 

1 Rom. 8.24. 

2 Titus 3.5. 



242 SAINT AUGU STINE 

how this is to be understood when he says : Tor we are saved 
by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man 
seeth why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which 
we see not, we wait for it with patience.' 3 Thus, many things 
are spoken of in the divine Scriptures as if they were 
accomplished, but we understand that they are still a subject 
of hope. Hence, that other saying of the Lord when He spoke 
to the disciples: 'All things whatsoever I have heard of my 
Father I have made known to you/ 4 which is so manifestly 
said of what is to be hoped for that He said to them after- 
ward: C I have many things to say to you but you cannot bear 
them now.' 5 Therefore, in the mortals in whom He still dwells 
He carries on the building of His dwelling which He does 
not perfect in this life, but in another after this one, when 
'death shall be swallowed up in victory,' and shall hear these 
words: O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy 
sting?' and what is the sting of death but sin? 6 



Chapter 28 

Although we are now reborn of water and the Spirit, 1 and 
all our sins are washed away in the cleansing of that laver, 
both the original sin of Adam, in whom all have sinned, and 
our own sins of deeds, words and thoughts, we still remain in 
this human life which is a warfare upon earth, 2 and therefore 
we have good reason to say: Forgive us our debts.' This 
prayer is also said by the whole church which the Saviour 

3 Rom. 8.24,25. 

4 John 15.15. 

5 John 16.12. 

6 Gf. 1 Cor. 15.54-56. 

1 John 3.5. 

2 Job 7.1. 



LETTERS 243 

cleansed 'by the laver of water in the word, that He might 
present it to himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or 
any such thing'; 3 at that future time, of course, when it 
shall be perfected in deed where now it walks forward in 
hope. In this life it is plainly not without spot or wrinkle or 
any such thing, either in all men who belong to it, who have 
the use of reason and free will and who carry the burdens of 
mortal flesh, or, at least, as our objectors must necessarily 
admit, in many of its members; so how can it say otherwise 
than with truth: 'Forgive us our debts'? 



Chapter 29 

Since, then, of the mortals in whom He dwells He justifies 
the proficient in goodness more and more as they are renewed 
from day to day, hears them when they pray, cleanses them 
when they confess their sins, that He may present them to 
Himself as a pure and everlasting temple, it is right to say 
that He does not dwell in those who 'knowing God have not 
glorified him as God or given thanks.' For, by worshiping and 
serving the 'creature rather than the Creator,' 1 they have not 
wished to be a temple of the one true God, and thus, by 
wishing to have Him along with many other things, they 
have been more successful in not having Him at all than in 
joining Him to many false gods. And He is rightly said to 
dwell in those whom He has called according to His purpose, 
and whom He has received in order to justify and glorify 
them even before they are able to know His incorporeal 
nature, as far as it can be known e in part, through a glass, 
in a dark manner,' 2 by man in this life, although he has made 

3 Eph. 5.26,27. 



1 Rom. 1.25. 

2 1 Cor. 13.12. 



244 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

great progress. There are some in whom He dwells who are 
like those to whom the Apostle says: e l could not speak to 
you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal. As unto little ones 
in Christ I gave you milk to drink, not meat, for you were 
not able as yet; but neither indeed are you now able.' And 
to these, words he added this: 'Know you not that you are 
the temple of God; that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?' 3 
Even if such as these are overtaken by the last day of this 
life before they attain to that spiritual age of mind when 
they will be fed solid food instead of milk, the One who 
dwells in them will perfect whatever they have lacked of 
understanding here, since they have not withdrawn from the 
unity of the body of Christ, who has become our way, 4 nor 
from their membership in the temple of God. In order not 
to withdraw from it, they hold steadfastly to the rule of faith 
which is common to little and great in the Church; they 
walk in Him whereunto they are come, and until God reveals 
to them that they are otherwise minded, 5 they do not make 
dogma of their carnal thoughts, because they are not hardened 
by clinging to contentious excuses; but walking in a certain 
way, that is, the way of advancement, they struggle with 
their understanding, winning clear sight by their pious faith. 

Chapter 30 

This being so, those two phenomena, birth and rebirth, 
which occur in a single man, belong to two men, one to the 
first Adam, the other to the second Adam who is called 
Christ. 'Yet that was not first,' says the Apostle, 'which is 
spiritual, but that which is natural; afterwards that which is 

3 1 Cor. 3.12,16. 

4 John 14.6. 

5 Phil. 3.15,16. 



LETTERS 245 

spiritual. The first man was of the earth, earthly, the second 
man from heaven, heavenly. Such as is the earthly such also 
are the earthly; and such as is the heavenly such also are 
they that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of the 
earthly, let us bear also the image of him who is from 
heaven/ 1 He says, likewise: By one man came death and 
by a man the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all 
die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 52 He says *alP in 
both places because no one comes to death but by the first, 
no one to life but by the second: in the first the power of 
man's will to cause death was made evident; in the second, 
the value of God's help for life. To sum up: The first man 
was only man, but the second was God and man; sin was 
committed by forsaking God, justice is not achieved without 
God. Thus we should not have to die if we had not come 
from his members by carnal generation, nor should we live 
if we were not His members by spiritual incorporation. There- 
fore, for us there was need of birth and rebirth, but for Him 
need only of birth for our sake; we pass from sin to justice 
by rebirth, but He passed to justice without any sin. By being 
baptized He gave a higher commendation to the sacrament 
of our regeneration through His humility, signifying our old 
man by His Passion, our new one by His Resurrection. 



Chapter 31 

The revolt of concupiscence which is rooted in mortal flesh, 
by which it happens that its members are stirred to action 
even against the movement of the will, is brought into such 
control that those who stand in need of regeneration are 
lawfully begotten by the intercourse of parents. However, 

1 Cf. 1 Cor. 15.46-49. 

2 1 Cor. 15.21,22. 



246 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Christ did not will that His flesh should come into being by 
this kind of meeting of male and female, but in His con- 
ception of the Virgin, without any such human passion, He 
took on c the likeness of sinful flesh' 1 for us, that the flesh of 
sin in us might be purified. Tor, as by the offense of one/ 
the Apostle says, c unto all men to condemnation, so also by 
the justice of one unto all men to justification of life.' 2 No one 
is born without the intervention of carnal concupiscence 
which is inherited from the first man who is Adam, and no 
one is reborn without the intervention of spiritual grace 
which is given by the second man who is Christ. Therefore, 
if we belong to the former by birth, we belong to the latter by 
rebirth; as no one can be bom again before he is born, it is 
clear that Christ's birth was unique in that He had no need 
to be born again because He did not pass over from sin, to 
which He was never subject. He was not conceived in iniquity 
nor did His Mother nourish Him in her womb in sin, 3 
because the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the 
Most High overshadowed her; therefore, the Holy that was 
born of her is called the Son of God. 4 He does not destroy 
the good of marriage, but He curbs the evil of rebellious 
members, so that when carnal concupiscence has been tamed 
it may at least become conjugal chastity. But the Virgin 
Mary, to whom the words were said : 'And the power of the 
Most High shall overshadow thee,' burned with no heat of 
this concupiscence in conceiving her holy offspring under 
such a shadow. Therefore, with the exception of this corner- 
stone, 5 I do not see how men are to be built into a house of 
God, to contain God dwelling in them, 6 without being born 
again, which cannot happen before they are born. 



1 Rom. 8.3. 

2 Rom. 5.18. 

3 Ps. 50.7. 

4 Luke 1.35. 

5 Isa. 28.16; 1 Peter 2.6; Eph. 2.20. 

6 2 Cor. 6.16. 



LETTERS 247 

Chapter 32 

Furthermore, whatever opinion we may hold about preg- 
nant mothers, or even about men still sheltered within their 
mother's womb, whether or not they can be endowed with 
some kind of sanctification, either because of John who 
leaped for joy, though he had not yet come forth to the 
light of day and who would believe this could happen 
without the action of the Holy Spirit? or because of Jeremias 
to whom the Lord said: 'Before thou earnest forth out of 
the womb I sanctified thee,' 1 it is a fact that the sanctification 
by which we become temples of God individually, and form 
one temple of God all together, takes place only in the reborn, 
which men cannot be unless they are first born. No one will 
make a good end of the life into which he is bom unless 
he is bora again before he ends it. 

Chapter 33 

But if anyone says that a man is already born even when he 
is still in his mother's womb, and offers as proof from the 
Gospel the words to Joseph about the Virgin Mother of the 
Lord, then with child: Tor that which is born in her is of the 
Holy Spirit,' 1 is that any reason why a second nativity 
should follow on this one? Otherwise, it will not be the 
second but the third. When the Lord was speaking on this 
point He said: 'Unless a man be born again/ 2 counting that 

l Jer. 1.5. 

1 Matt. 1.20. This objection arose from the version of Scripture used by 
St. Augustine. The Vulgate obviates it by using 'conceived* instead of 
'born/ 

2 John 3.3. 



248 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the first nativity, of course, which happens when a mother 
gives birth, not when she conceives or becomes pregnant; 
birth is what happens from her, not what happens in her. We 
do not say that a man is reborn when his mother brings him 
forth, as if he were born a second time after being born 
once in the womb, but, not counting that as a birth which 
makes a woman pregnant, a man is said to be born when he 
comes forth, so that he may be born again 'of water and 
the Holy Spirit. 53 The Lord is said to have been born at 
Bethlehem of Juda 4 according to the time of His birth from 
His Mother. If, then, a man can be regenerated in the womb 
by the grace of the Spirit, since he still has to be born, he is 
reborn before he is born, which is absolutely impossible. 
Therefore, it is not by the works of justice which they are 
about to perform that men are born into the totality of the 
body of Christ as into a living structure of the temple of 
God which is His Church, but, by being born again through 
grace, they are carried over as from a ruinous mass into the 
foundation of the building. Outside this building which is 
raised up to be made blessed as an eternal dwelling of God, 
the whole life of man is unhappy and is rather to be called 
death than life. Whoever, therefore, has God dwelling in him, 
that the anger of God may not rest on him, will not be 
hostile to this Body, this temple, this birth. But whoever is 
not reborn is hostile to it. 

Chapter 34 

Moreover, our Mediator, when revealed to us, wished the 
sacrament of our regeneration to be manifest. But for the 
just men of old it was something hidden, although they also 
were to be saved by the same faith which was to be revealed 

3 John 3.5. 

4 Matt. 2.1. 



LETTERS 249 

in its own time. For we do not dare to prefer the faithful of 
our own time to the friends of God by whom those prophecies 
were to be made, since God so announced Himself as the God 
of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, 1 as to give 
Himself that name forever. If the belief is correct that 
circumcision served instead of baptism in the saints of old, 
what shall be said of those who pleased God before this was 
commanded, except that they pleased Him by faith, because, 
as it is written in Hebrews: 'Without faith it is impossible to 
please God 3 ? 2 'But having the same spirit of faith,' says the 
Apostle, 'as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have 
spoken, we also believe for which cause we speak also.' 3 He 
would not have said e the same' unless this very spirit of faith 
were theirs, also. For, just as they, when this same mystery 
was hidden, believed in the Incarnation of Christ which was 
to come, so we also believe that it has come. And both we 
and they expect His future coming to judgment, for there is 
no other mystery of God 4 except Christ in whom all who have 
died in Adam are to be made alive, because 'as in Adam all 
die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive,' 5 as we have 
explained above. 

Chapter 35 

Therefore, God, who is everywhere present and everywhere 
wholly present, does not dwell in all men, but in those only 
whom He has made into His most blessed temple or temples, 
delivering them 'from the power of darkness,' and translating 
them 'into the kingdom of the Son of his love,' 1 which began 

1 Exod. 3.15. 

2 Heb. 11.6. 

3 2 Cor. 4.13; Ps. 115.10. 

4 Apoc. 10.7. 

5 2 Cor. 15.22. 



1 Col. 1.13. 



250 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

with their regeneration. But His temple has one meaning 
when it is built by the hands of men, of inanimate materials, 
as the Tabernacle, made of wood, tapestries, skins and other 
movables of that sort; as also the Temple built by King 
Solomon, of stone, wood and metal; and another meaning 
for that true temple which was symbolized by those meanings. 
Hence the words: c Be you also as living stones, built up, a 
spiritual house'; 2 hence it is also written: Tor we are the 
temple of the living God, as God saith: I will dwell in them 
and I will be their God and they shall be my people. 33 



Chapter 36 

Yet we ought not to be disturbed because some who do not 
belong or do not yet belong to this temple, that is, among 
whom God does not or does not yet dwell, perform some 
works of power, as happened to him who cast out devils in 
the name of Christ; although he was not a follower of Christ, 1 
Christ ordered that he be allowed to continue because it gave 
a useful testimony of His name to many. He said also that 
many would say to Him at the last day: c ln thy name we 
have done many miracles,' to whom He would certainly not 
say: 'I know you not,' 2 if they belonged to the temple of 
God, which He makes blessed by His indwelling. The cen- 
turion Cornelius also saw the angel that was sent to him 
and heard him saying that his prayers had been heard and his 
alms accepted, even before he was incorporated into this 
temple by regeneration. 3 God does these things as One every- 
where present, even when He acts through His holy angels. 

2 1 Peter 2.5. 

3 2 Cor. 6.16; Lev. 26.12. 

1 Mark 9.37-39. 

2 Matt. 7.22,23. 

3 Acts 10.1-4. 



LETTERS 

Chapter 37 

In the case of that sanctification of Jeremlas before he came 
forth from the womb, 1 some take it that he was a type of 
the Saviour, who had no need of regeneration; however, 
even if it is taken literally, it can also be appropriately 
understood in the sense of regeneration; as the Gospel calls 
sons of God those not yet regenerated, when, after Caiaphas 
had said of the Lord: 'It is expedient for you that one man 
should die for the people and that the whole nation perish 
not, 5 the Evangelist goes on and adds: This he spoke not of 
himself, but being the high priest of that year, he prophesied 
that Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the 
nation, but to gather together in one the children of God that 
were dispersed.' 2 In addition to the Hebrew race, he ob- 
viously calls children of God men included in all other races 
who were not yet among the faithful, not yet baptized. How 
else can he call them sons of God except in the sense of 
their predestination, in which sense, also, the Apostle says 
that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the 
world? 3 That very gathering together in one would have made 
them children of God. And by the words 'in one' he would 
not have meant any corporeal place, since the Prophet made 
this prophecy of a similar calling of the Gentiles : They shall 
adore him every man from his own place; all the islands of 
the Gentiles,' 4 but 'gathered together in one' refers to the one 
Spirit and one body of which the Head is Christ. 5 Such a 
gathering together is the building of the temple of God; such 
a gathering together is not effected by carnal generation, but 
by spiritual regeneration. 

1 jer. 1.5. 

2 John 11.50-52. 

3 Eph. 1.4. 

4 Soph. 2.11. 

5 Col. 1.18; Eph. 1.22,23. 



252 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 38 

Therefore, God dwells in each one singly as in His temples, 
and in all of them gathered together as in His temple. As 
long as this temple, like the ark of Noe, is tempest-tossed in 
this world, the words of the psalm are verified: The Lord 
dwelleth in the flood/ 1 although, if we consider the many 
people of the faithful of all races whom the Apocalypse 
describes under the name of waters, 2 they can also be 
appropriately meant by The Lord dwelleth in the flood/ But 
the psalm goes on: c And the Lord shall sit king forever/* 
doubtless in that very temple of His, established in eternal 
life after the tempest of this world. Thus, God, who is every- 
where present and everywhere wholly present, does not dwell 
everywhere but only in His temple, to which, by His grace, 
He is kind and gracious, but in His indwelling he is received 
more fully by some, less by others. 



Chapter 39 

Speaking of Him as our Head, the Apostle says: Tor in 
him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporally/ 1 
He does not say 'corporally' because God is corporeal, but he 
either uses the word in a derived sense as if He dwelt in a 
temple made by hands, not corporally but symbolically, that 
is, under prefiguring signs for using a derived word he calls 
all those observances shadows of things to come, 2 for the 
most high God, as it is written, 'dwelleth not in temples made 

1 Ps. 28.10. The Vulgate has: The Lord maketh the flood to dwell/ 

2 Apoc. 17.15. 

3 Ps. 28.10. 

1 CoL 2.9. 

2 Col. 2.17; Heb. 10.1. 



LETTERS 253 

with hand* 3 or else the word 'corporally' is certainly used 
because God dwells, as in His temple, in the body of Christ 
which He took from the Virgin. That is why, when He said 
to the Jews who demanded a sign: 'Destroy this temple and 
in three days I will raise it up, 5 the Evangelist, explaining 
what He meant, added: 'But he spoke of the temple of his 
body.' 4 

Chapter 40 

What then? Are we to think there is this difference between 
the head and the other members that divinity may dwell in 
any given member however outstanding, as some great pro- 
phet or apostle, yet not c all the fullness of the Godhead' 1 as 
in the Head which is Christ? In our body there also is sen- 
sation innate in the individual members, but not so much as 
in the head, where it is clear that all the five senses are 
centered; for there are located sight and hearing and smell 
and taste and touch, but in the other members there is only 
touch. But perhaps, besides the fact that 'all the fullness of 
the Godhead' is found in that Body as in a temple, there is 
another difference between that Head and the perfection of 
any of the members. There is, indeed, in the fact that by a 
certain unique assumption of humanity He became one 
Person with the Word. Of none of the saints has it been, is it, 
or will it be possible to say: 'The Word was made flesh'; 2 
none of the saints by any supreme gift of grace received the 
name of only-begotten Son, so as to be called by the name 
which is that of the very Word of God Himself before all 

3 Acts 17.24. 

4 John 2.19,21. 

1 Col, 2.9. 

2 John 1.14, 



254 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

ages, together with the humanity which He assumed. There- 
fore, that act of becoming man cannot be shared with any 
holy men, however eminent in wisdom and sanctity. That is 
a sufficiently evident and clear proof of divine grace. Who, 
then, could be guilty of such sacrilege as to dare assert that 
any soul, through the merit of its free will, could succeed in 
becoming another Christ? How could one single soul, by 
means of the free will given uniformly to all by nature, have 
merited to be joined to the Person of the only-begotten Word, 
unless a supreme grace had granted this, a grace which we 
may lawfully extol, but of which it is forbidden us to wish 
to judge? 

Chapter 41 

If I have been successful in treating of these matters, in 
proportion to my strength and by the Lord's help, when you 
set yourself to think of God everywhere present and every- 
where wholly present, not distributed in different places as if 
by the stretching of physical mass, turn your mind from all 
corporeal images such as it is wont to fashion. That is not 
how we think of wisdom or justice or, finally, of charity, of 
which it is written : 'God is charity/ 1 And when you think of 
His indwelling, think of the unity of the gathering of saints, 
especially in heaven, where He is said to dwell in a unique 
manner, because His will is done there by the perfect 
obedience of those in whom He dwells; then think of Him 
on earth where He dwells while building His house which is 
to be dedicated at the end of time. But when you think of 
Christ our Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, equal to the 
Father, and likewise Son of man, in which respect the Father 
is greater then He, do not doubt that as God He is every- 
where wholly present, and also as God He dwells in the 

1 1 John 4.8. 



LETTERS 255 

same temple of God; while in His true Body He is in some 
part of heaven. 

It gives me such pleasure to talk with you that I do not 
know whether I have observed a due measure of speech, in 
my desire to compensate for my long silence by my long 
talk. Truly I speak to you as to a friend, so closely are you 
bound to my heart by the ties of religion and kindness, in 
which you have surpassed me. Give thanks to God whenever 
you know that any work of my pen has been fruitful, but if 
you observe my defects, pardon them as a most dear friend, 
with the same sincere affection, praying for my cure, as you 
grant me your indulgence. 



188. Alypius and Augustine give greeting in the Lord to the 

lady Juliana? their deservedly distinguished 

daughter, worthy of honor, with due respect in 

Christ (End of 417 or beginning of 418) 

It was a pleasing and happy coincidence that the letter of 
your Reverence found us settled together at Hippo. This 
gives us an opportunity of writing you a joint reply, assuring 
you of our joy in hearing of your welfare and giving you 
news, with reciprocal affection, of our own, which we trust 
is dear to you, lady worthy of honor with due respect in 
Christ, our deservedly distinguished daughter. We know well 
that you know the depth of religious affection we owe you, 
and the great solicitude we feel for you before God and 
among men. Although our Lowliness came to know your 
family as pious Catholics, that is, true members of Christ, 
first by letters, and then by personal acquaintance, neverthe- 
less as you have, through our ministry, 'received the word of 

1 Mother of Demetrias, a consecrated virgin, who had received from 
Pelagius a book filled with errors. 



256 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the hearing of God,' as the Apostle says: y u received it not 
as the word of men, but, as it is indeed, the word of God.' 2 
And this ministry of ours has borne such fruit in your house, 
by the helping grace and mercy of the Saviour that, although 
a worldly marriage had been arranged for her, the saintly 
Demetrias preferred the spiritual embrace of the Spouse, 
'beautiful above the sons of men,' 3 to whom virgins pledge 
themselves that they may gain the more abundant fruitf ulness 
of the spirit without losing the integrity of their flesh. We 
should not have known how that exhortation of ours had 
been received by the faithful and noble girl if we had not 
learned the most joyful news from the truthful report of your 
letter, which reached us on our journey a short time after 
she had made profession of virginity as a consecrated nun, 
that this great gift of God which He plants and waters by 
means of His servants, but gives the increase Himself, 4 had 
prospered so well for His workers. 

This being the case, no one will call us unmannerly if we 
are moved by too urgent distress in warning you to avoid 
teachings contrary to the grace of God. Although the Apostle 
warns us to be instant in preaching the word not only in 
season but even out of season, 5 we do not include you in the 
list of those persons to whom a sermon or a page of ours would 
seem unseasonable when we advise you to avoid carefully 
what is not in accord with sound doctrine. That is the 
reason why you have received our warning in so grateful a 
spirit that you say in the letter which we are now answering : 
Indeed I return fervent thanks to your Reverence for the 
loving warning you gave us not to lend our ears to the men 
who often corrupt our venerable faith by lying treatises.* 



2 1 Thess. 2,13. 

3 Ps. 44.3. 

4 1 Cor, 3.5,6. 

5 2 Tim. 4.2. 



LETTERS 257 

But what presses us more and more urgently not to refrain 
from speaking to you about those who are trying to distort 
even those teachings which are sound is the sentence which 
you add when you say: 'But your Priesthood knows that I 
and my little household are far removed from persons of that 
kind; all our family follow the Catholic faith so closely that 
we have never fallen into any heresy, nor ever lapsed into any 
sect which seems to have even small errors, much less those 
which are outside the pale. 5 We count your house as no small 
Church of Christ. Similarly, it is no small error on the part 
of those who think that we have of ourselves whatever justice, 
continence, piety, and chastity there is in us, because God 
has made us so that He gives us no further help beyond a 
revelation of knowledge, which makes us do, with love, what 
we know through learning that we ought to do; in short, who 
define nature and doctrine as being the only form of grace 
and help given us by God that we may live justly and up- 
rightly. They will not admit that we are divinely helped to- 
ward the possession of a good will on which depends the very 
fact that we live justly, or of charity itself, which is so eminent 
among all the gifts of God that it is said to be God, 6 by 
which alone any fulfillment of the divine law and teaching 
there may be in us is accomplished; but they say that we are 
sufficient of ourselves and of our own will to accomplish such 
fulfillment. It ought to seem no slight error to us that Chris- 
tians should profess such belief and refuse to listen to the 
Apostle of Christ who said: 'The charity of God is poured 
forth in our hearts/ and, lest anyone think he has it through 
his will alone, he at once adds: 'by the Holy Spirit who is 
given to us.' 7 You understand how greatly and how irreme- 
diably anyone errs who no longer admits that this great grace 

6 1 John 4,8,16. 

7 Rom. 5.5. 



258 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

is from the Saviour who 'ascended on high, led captivity 
captive and gave gifts to men.' 8 

We would like to know, preferably through your reply, 
how, owing you such affection, we could have refrained from 
warning you to beware of such teaching, after we had read 
the book which a certain one 9 addressed to the saintly 
Demetrias, or even whether it reached you* If it is right and 
proper, let the virgin of Christ read what may make her 
believe that her virginal sanctity and all her spiritual riches 
come to her from herself alone, and thus, before she reaches 
full beatitude, let her learn to be ungrateful to God which 
God forbid ! These are the words written in that same book 
addressed to her: 'You have here,' he says, 'the reason why 
you are preferred to others; nay, you have here much more, 
for your physical beauty and the wealth of your family will 
not be attributed to you, but of your spiritual riches, no one 
but you could bestow them on you. For these, then, you are 
deservedly praised, for these you are deservedly preferred to 
others, because they can be found only in you and of you.' 10 

You see, of course, the destructive effect of these words. 
Certainly, when he says: 'These good things cannot be 
found except in you,' he speaks well and truly: these words 
are food ; but when he says : 'They come only from yourself,' 
this is all poison. God forbid that these words should find a 
willing hearing from the virgin of Christ who lovingly under- 
stands the natural poverty of the human heart and knows 
therefrom that her only adornment is in the gifts of her 
Spouse. Let her listen, rather, to the Apostle when he says: 
'I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you 
as a chaste virgin to Christ; but I fear lest, as the serpent 
seduced Eve by his subtlety, your minds should be corrupted 

8 Eph, 4.7,8; Ps. 67.19. 

9 Pelagius. 

10 Pelagii Liber ad Demetriaden 11 (PL 33.1107.3-36). 



LETTERS 259 

from the chastity that is in Christ. 311 Therefore, let her not 
listen to the one who says of her spiritual riches: c No one 
but yourself could bestow them on you,' and 'they can be 
found only in you and of you/ but let her listen to the one 
who says: 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the 
excellency may be of the power of God and not of us. 512 

Concerning this same sacred virginal continence, also, 
which is not of herself but is a gift of God, although it is 
given to one who believes and desires it, let her listen to the 
same truthful and pious teacher who said, in treating of this 
subject: 'I would that all men were even as myself; but 
everyone hath his proper gift from God ; one after this manner 
and another after that.' 13 Let her listen to what is said of such 
chastity and integrity by Him who is the sole Spouse of the 
whole Church as well as her own: 'All men take not this 
word but they to whom it is given, 314 and let her learn from it 
that she has such a great and excellent gift that she ought to 
give thanks to our God and Lord rather than listen to the 
words of, we do not say a cajoling flatterer lest we seem to 
judge rashly of men's secret motives, but at least of a deluded 
admirer who tells her that she has this from herself. As the 
Apostle James says: 'Every best gift and every perfect gift is 
from above, coming down from the Father of lights.' 15 This 
is the source of the holy virginity in which your daughter 
surpasses you, to your joy and satisfaction; after you in age, 
before you in conduct; of you by birth, before you in honor; 
inferior to you in years, excelling you in holiness. In her you 
begin to have for yours what you could not have in yourself. 
She, indeed, did not contract a carnal marriage and as a 
result she was spiritually enriched more than you, yet not 

11 2 Cor. 11.2,3. 

12 2 Cor. 4.7. 

13 1 Cor. 7.7. 

14 Matt. 19.11. 

15 James 1.17. 



260 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

only for herself but for you; though you are inferior to her, 
in this you are made equal to her that your marriage was the 
cause of her birth. These are gifts of God, and they are yours 
also, but they are 'not of yourselves,' 16 for you have this 
treasure in earthly and still frail bodies, as 'in earthen vessels 
that the excellency may be of the power of God and not of 
you.' 17 Do not be surprised that we say it is both yours and not 
of you, for when we speak of our daily bread, we say c Give us,' 
lest it be thought to be c of us.' 

Therefore, as it is written: Tray without ceasing; in all 
things give thanks, 318 for you pray that you may have it 
continually and increasingly; you give thanks because you do 
not have it of yourselves. Who set you apart from that clay 19 
of Adam, that lump of death and damnation? Was it not He 
who 'is come to seek and to save that which was lost'? 20 On 
the other hand, when a man hears the Apostle saying: 'Who 
hath distinguished thee?' will he answer: 'My good will, my 
faith, my justice,' and not listen to the words immediately 
following: 'For what hast thou that thou hast not received? 
And if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou 
hadst not received it?' 21 Thus, when the consecrated virgin 
hears or reads: 'No one but yourself can bestow spiritual 
riches on you; for these you are deservedly praised, for these 
you are deservedly preferred to others, because they can be 
found only in you and of you,' we do not wish her thereupon 
to glory as if she had not received them. Let her say: 'In me, 
O God, are vows to thee which I will pay, praises to thee'; 22 
but because they are in her but not of her, let her remember 
to say: C O Lord, in thy favor thou givest strength to my 

16 Eph. 2.8. 

17 Cf. 2 Cor. 4.7. 

18 1 Thess. 5.1748. 

19 Rom. 9.21. 

20 Luke 19.10; Matt. 18.11. 

21 1 Cor. 4.7. 

22 Ps. 55.12. 



LETTERS 261 

beauty, 523 because even though they may be of her because of 
her free will, without which we perform no good work, yet it is 
not true, as he said : They could come only from her.' There 
can be no good will in man unless the free will is helped by 
the grace of God. The Apostle says: Tor it is God who 
worketh in you both to will and to accomplish, according to 
his good will,' 24 not, as they think, by a mere revelation of 
knowledge so that we may know what we ought to do, but 
also by breathing His charity into us so that we do with 
love what we have learned by our knowledge. 

Surely, the wise man knew how great a good continence 
was when he said: 'And as I knew that no one can be 
continent except God give it.' Therefore, he not only knew 
how great, how desirable, how much to be coveted this good 
is, but also that it could not exist unless God gave it, for 
wisdom had taught him this. When he also said: 'And this 
also was a point of wisdom to know whose gift it was,' his 
own wisdom did not supply him with it, but he said: 'I 
went to the Lord and besought him/ 25 Thus, God's help does 
not consist only in this, that we know what is to be done, 
but also in our doing with love what we have learned by our 
knowledge. Therefore, no one can be either learned or con- 
tinent unless God give it. Consequently, when he had the 
knowledge he prayed to have the continency, that it might 
also be in him, because he knew that it was not of himself; 
or if by reason of his free will it was to some extent of himself, 
it was not exclusively of himself, 'because no one can be 
continent unless God give it. 3 But when Pelagius speaks of 
spiritual riches, among which that shining and beautiful con- 
tinence is certainly included, he does not say: They can be 
in you and of you, 3 but They can be only of you and in you.' 

23 PS. 29.18. 

24 Phil. 2.13. 

25 Wisd. 8.21. 



262 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Consequently, he believes that as they cannot be found 
elsewhere than in her, so they can have no other source than 
herself, and therefore may the merciful Lord avert it from 
her heart ! let her so glory as if she had not received them. 

Our opinion, however, of the training and Christian 
humility of the saintly virgin in which she was nourished and 
brought up makes us think that when she read those words, 
if indeed she did read them, she groaned and humbly struck 
her breast, perhaps wept, also, and faithfully prayed God, 
to whom she is consecrated and by whom she is sanctified, 
that, as those words are not hers but another's so her faith 
should not be such that she would believe she has anything 
which would make her glory in herself and not in the Lord. 
Her glory, indeed, is in herself, not in another's words, as the 
Apostle says: 'But let every one prove his own work and so 
he shall have glory in himself and not in another. 526 But God 
forbid that she should be her own glory and not He to whom 
it is said: 'My glory and the lifter up of my head/ 27 Thus, 
It is safe for that glory to be in her when God who is in her 
is Himself her glory; from whom she has all the good things 
by which she is good, and will have all things by which she 
will be better, in so far as she can be better in this life; and 
by which she will be made perfect when divine grace, not 
human praise, has made her perfect. For, 'in the Lord shall 
her soul be praised,' 28 'who hath satisfied her desire with good 
things,' 29 because He has Himself inspired this desire, lest His 
virgin should glory in any good as if she had not received it. 

Inform us about this in your answer and let us know 
whether we are wrong about her state of mind. For we know 
one thing very well, that you and all your household are and 



26 Gal. 6.4. 

27 Ps. 3.4. 

28 C. Ps. 33.3. 

29 Cf. Ps. 102.5. 



LETTERS 



263 



have been worshipers of the undivided Trinity. But this is not 
the only source from which human error steals upon us, 
namely, that we should have heterodox views of the undivided 
Trinity, for there are also other points in which it is possible to 
fall into error, such as the one we have spoken of in this letter, 
more at length, perhaps, than was needful for your faithful 
and chaste prudence. Still, if anyone says that the good which 
is of God is not of God, we do not know whom else he insults 
except God, and thereby also the undivided Trinity. May 
this evil be far from you, as we believe it has been. God forbid 
utterly that this book from which we have thought it 
advisable to quote some passages to make their meaning more 
c l ear should leave any such impression in your mind, and 
we do not mean yours only or that of the consecrated virgin, 
your daughter, but even the mind of any one of your male or 
female servants of however long service. 

But if you will look into it more carefully, you will find 
that even what he seems to say there in favor of grace or of 
the help of God is ambiguous, and can be referred either to 
nature or knowledge or the remission of sins. As to their 
being forced to admit that we ought to pray lest we enter 
into temptation, they can apply it in this sense so as to 
answer that we are helped to it to this extent that when we 
ask and knock, 30 our intellect is opened to truth by which we 
learn what we ought to do, but not to the extent that our will 
receives strength to make us do what we have learned. And 
when they say that the Lord Christ is set before us as a 
model of virtuous living, and that this is the grace or help 
of God, they go back to the same idea of grace as knowledge, 
because obviously we learn by His example how we ought to 
live; but they refuse to admit that we are helped to do with 
love what we know through what we have learned. 
" Find some passage in the same book, if you can, where he 

30 Cf. Matt. 7.7,8; Luke 11.9,10. 



264 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

admits that such help from God is something else except 
nature or free will, which belongs to the same nature, or the 
remission of sins and revelation of knowledge, or that it is 
such as the wise man confessed when he said: 'As I knew 
that no one can be continent except God give it, and this 
also was a point of wisdom to know whose gift it was, I went 
to the Lord and besought him.' 31 In answer to that prayer, 
he did not wish to receive the nature in which he was created, 
nor was he exercised about the natural freedom of will with 
which he was created, nor did he long for the remission of 
sins, since he rather sighed after continence that he might not 
sin, nor did he long to know what he had to do, since he has 
already admitted that he knew whose gift it was, but un- 
doubtedly he wished to receive from the spirit of wisdom 
such strength of will, such ardor of love as would make him 
fit to attain the great virtue of continence. If, then, you can 
find anything of that sort in his book, we will give you 
hearty thanks if you will be so kind as to point it out to us in 
your answer. 

It is impossible to express how much we long to find in 
the writings of those men, who are read by many because of 
their keenness and fluency, an open admission of that grace 
which the Apostle praises so strongly, who even says that 
God has divided to everyone the measure of faith itself, 32 
without which it is impossible to please God, by which the 
just man lives, 33 which 'worketh by charity,' 34 before which 
and without which no good works can be imagined in anyone, 
since 'all that is not of faith is sin' ; 35 and not the claim that 
we are helped by God to live piously and justly by the sole 

31 Wisd. 8.21. 

32 Rom. 12,3. 

33 Heb. 11.6; Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38. 

34 GaL 5.6, 

35 Rom. 14.24. 



LETTERS 265 

revelation of knowledge, which puffs us up without charity; 36 
whereas He does it by breathing charity itself into us, charity 
which is the fulfilling of the law, 37 and which edifies our 
heart so that charity may not puff us up. But thus far we 
have been unable to find any such statement anywhere in 
their writings. 

We should wish most of all that this had been in the book 
from which we have quoted the above selected passages, 
where, after praising the virgin of Christ as if no one but 
herself could bestow spiritual riches on her, and as if they 
could not exist except as coming from her, he does not wish 
her to glory in the Lord, but to so glory as if she had not 
received them. Although he has not mentioned in this book 
the name of your Reverence or that of your daughter, he does 
say that he was asked by the girl's mother to write to her. 
However, the same Pelagius, in a certain letter of his to 
which he openly signed his own name, and in which he does 
not fail to mention the name of the consecrated virgin, says 
that he has written to her and tries to prove by the testimony 
of the same work that he makes open confession of the grace 
of God, which he is reputed to ignore or deny. We beg you 
to be so kind as to inform us in your answer whether the book 
in question is the one in which he used those expressions about 
spiritual riches, or whether it has reached your Holiness. 

36 I Cor. 8.1. 

37 Rom. 13.10. 



266 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

189. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the noble lord, 
his deservedly distinguished and honorable son, 
Boniface 1 (c. 418) 

I had already written an answer to your Charity and I was 
looking for an opportunity of forwarding it to you, when my 
dear son Faustus arrived on his way to your Excellency. 
After receiving the letter which I had already written for 
delivery to your Benevolence, 2 he gave me to understand that 
you greatly desired me to write you something which might 
edify you and help you to win eternal salvation, of which your 
hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ. And although I am so busy, 
he insisted that I should not put off doing it, and you know 
how great is his urgency because he loves you so sincerely. 
Therefore, to accommodate myself to his haste, I have chosen 
to write something hurried rather than disappoint your 
religious craving, noble lord, deservedly distinguished and 
honorable son. 

All that I can say, then, in brief is this: Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole 
soul and with thy whole strength 3 and c thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself.' 3 This is the compendium which the Lord 
gave upon earth when He said in the Gospel : c On these two 
commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets/ 4 
Do you, then, advance daily in this love both by prayer and 
good works, so that, with the help of Him who endows and 
bestows it on you, it may be fostered and increased until, 

1 Count or Governor of Africa under Honorius and Placidia. Unjustly 
disgraced through the treachery of his rival Aetius, he allied himself 
with Genseric and the Vandals whom he invited into Africa in 429. 
Later, vindicated and restored to favor, he fought the invaders. St. 
Augustine died during the siege of Hippo, one of the results of the 
invasion, Boniface died in Italy in battle in 432. 

2 There is some doubt whether this was Letter 185. 

3 Matt. 22.37,39; Mark 12.20,31; Luke 10.27; Deut. 22.37; Lev. 19.18. 

4 Matt. 22.40. 



LETTERS 



267 



being perfected, it may perfect you. This is the charity which, 
as the Apostle says, 'is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy 
Spirit who is given to us'; 5 this is the charity of which he 
likewise says : 'Love is the fulfilling of the Law' ; 6 this is the 
charity by which faith works, of which he says again: Tor 
neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but 
faith that worketh by charity.' 7 

In this charity all our holy fathers and patriarchs and 
prophets and apostles have been pleasing to God. In it, all 
true martyrs have striven against the Devil unto blood, 8 and 
because it has not grown cold or fallen away in them they have 
won the victory. In it, all good faithful souls daily progress 
in their desire to attain, not a mortal kingdom but the 
kingdom of heaven; not a temporal but an eternal inherit- 
ance; 9 not gold and silver but the incorruptible riches of 
the angels; not the goods of this world which fill life with 
fear, and which no one can take with him when he dies, but 
the vision of God. 10 The sweetness and bliss of this vision 
surpass the beauty not only of terrestrial creatures but even 
of celestial ones; it exceeds all the loveliness of souls however 
good and holy; it exceeds all the splendor of the highest angels 
and heavenly powers; it exceeds not only all that can be 
said but even what can be thought. And let us not despair of 
the fulfillment of this great promise, because it is so exceed- 
ingly great, but, rather, let us believe that we shall receive 
what is promised because He who has promised it is exceed- 
ingly great. Thus, blessed John the Apostle says: 'We are the 
sons of God and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We 

5 Rom. 5.5, 

6 Rom. 13.10. 

7 Gal. 5.6. 

8 Matt. 24.12. 

9 Matt. 4.21; Heb. 9.15. 
10 Matt. 5.8. 



268 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him be- 
cause we shall see him as he is.' 11 

Do not imagine that no one can please God while he is 
engaged in military service. Among such was holy David to 
whom the Lord gave such high testimony. Among such were 
many just men of that time. Among such, also, was that 
centurion who said to the Lord: C I am not worthy that thou 
shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my 
servant shall be healed. For I also am a man, subject to 
authority, having under me soldiers, and I say to this one: 
Go, and he goeth, and to another: Come, and he cometh; 
and to my servant: Do this, and he doth it'; of him the Lord 
said: 'Amen I say to you I have not found so great faith in 
Israel.' 12 Among such, also, was that Cornelius to whom the 
angel was sent, who said: 'Cornelius, thy prayer is heard and 
thy alms are accepted,' when he advised him to send to the 
blessed Apostle Peter, to hear from him what he ought to do. 
And to summon the Apostle to him he sent a religious 
soldier. 12 Among such, also, were those who came for baptism 
to John, the holy precursor of the Lord and friend of the 
bridegroom, of whom the Lord said : There hath not arisen 
among them that are born of women a greater one than 
John the Baptist/ 14 When they asked him what they ought 
to do, he answered them: 'Do violence to no man, neither 
calumniate any man, and be content with your pay/ 15 
Obviously, he did not forbid them to serve in the army when 
he commanded them to be satisfied with their pay. 

Those who serve God with the highest self-discipline of 
chastity, by renouncing all these wordly activities, have a 

11 1 John 3.2. 

12 Matt. 8.8-10; Luke 7.6-9. 

13 Acts 10.1-8; 30-33. 

14 Matt. 11.11. 

15 Luke 3.12-11 



LETTERS 269 

more prominent place before Him: 'But everyone hath his 
proper gift from God, one after this manner and another after 
that.' 16 Thus, some fight for you against invisible enemies 
by prayer, while you strive for them against visible barbarians 
by fighting. Would that one faith were found in all, for there 
would be less striving and the Devil and his angels would be 
overcome more easily ! But as it must needs be in this world 
that citizens of the kingdom of heaven are troubled by 
temptations in the midst of the erring and the godless, so 
that they may be tested and tried as gold in the furnace, 17 
so we should not wish to live before the time with the holy 
and upright only, that we may deserve to receive this reward 
in its own time. 

Think first of this, then, when you are arming for battle, 
that your strength, even of body, is a gift of God, for so you 
will not think of using the gift of God against God. When your 
word is pledged, it must be kept even with the enemy against 
whom you wage war, how much more with the friend for 
whom you are fighting ! Your will ought to hold fast to peace, 
with war as the result of necessity, that God may free you 
from the necessity and preserve you in peace. Peace is not 
sought for the purpose of stirring up war, but war is waged 
for the purpose of securing peace. Be, then, a peacemaker 
even while you make war, that by your victory you may 
lead those whom you defeat to know the desirability of peace, 
for the Lord says : 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall 
be called the children of God.' 18 Yet, if human peace is so 
sweet as a means of assuring the temporal welfare of mortals, 
how much sweeter is divine peace as a means for assuring 
the eternal welfare of angels! Therefore, let it be necessity, 
not choice, that kills your warring enemy. Just as violence is 

16 1 Cor. 7.7. 

17 Wisd. 3.5,6. 

18 Matt. 5.9. 



270 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

meted out to him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due him 
who is defeated or captured, especially where no disturbance 
of peace is to be feared. 

Let chastity in the marriage bond be the adornment of 
your character, let sobriety and moderation be its adornment, 
for it is exceedingly disgraceful that lust should conquer one 
whom man cannot conquer, and that he who cannot be 
captured by the sword should be laid low by wine. If earthly 
riches are lacking to you, do not seek them in the world by 
evil deeds; if they fall to your lot, let them be laid up in 
heaven by good works. A manly Christian soul ought neither 
to be elated at acquiring them nor cast down when they 
leave him. Let us, instead, reflect on what the Lord says: 
'Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also,' 19 and 
surely when we hear that we should lift up our hearts, the 
answer which you know we make should not be a lie. 20 

I know in truth that you are very zealous in these matters, 
I take great pleasure in your good reputation, and I con- 
gratulate you heartily in the Lord. Let this letter serve you 
as a mirror in which you see yourself as you are rather than 
learn what you ought to be. However, if you find either in 
this letter or in holy Scripture that something is lacking to 
you for a good life, be instant in work and prayer that you 
may attain it. For what you have give thanks to God, as to a 
fount of goodness, from whom you have it, and in all your 
good deeds give the glory to God, keep humility for yourself. 
For, as it is written: 'Every best gift and every perfect gift 
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.' 21 
But whatever progress you make in the love of God and your 
neighbor, as well as in true piety, do not believe that you 

19 Matt. 6.21; Luke 12.34. 

20 Sursum corda: Habemus ad Dominum, one of the responses at the 
Preface of the Mass. 

21 James 1.17. 



LETTERS 271 

are free from sin as long as you are in this life; on which point 
we read in the holy Writ: 'Is not the life of man on earth a 
warfare?' 22 Consequently, since it will always be necessary 
for you, as long as you are in this body, to say in the prayer 
which the Lord taught: Torgive us our debts as we also 
forgive our debtors,' 23 remember to forgive quickly if anyone 
sins against you and asks pardon, so that you may say this 
prayer sincerely and may be able to win pardon for your 
own sins. 

I have written this hurriedly for your Charity, as the haste 
of the bearer put pressure on me. But I give thanks to God 
that I have in some measure complied with your laudable 
desire. May the mercy of God ever protect you, noble lord, 
deservedly distinguished and honorable son. 



190. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the holy lord, 
his brother and fellow bishop, Optatus, 1 cher- 
ished with sincere affection (418) 

Although I have not received any letter from your Holiness, 
addressed to me personally, I read one which you sent to 
Caesarea in Mauretania, which came while I was there. An 
urgent matter connected with the Church took me to that 
city at the bidding of the venerable Pope Zozimus, 2 Bishop 
of the Apostolic See, and your letter was given me to read by 
the holy servant of God, Renatus, 3 a brother most dear to us 
in Christ. It is at his request, in fact at his vehement insistence, 

22 Cf. Job 7.1. 

23 Matt. 6.12; Luke 11.4. 



1 A bishop of Mauretania Tingitana (modern Tangier) , 

2 Pope in 41 7 and 418. 

3 A priest of Caesarea and champion of Augustine against one Vincent 
who had attacked him. 



272 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that I am impelled, though busy with other matters, to answer 
your letter to him. Additional force was given to my decision 
by the arrival, in the above-mentioned town where we were 
staying, of another holy brother of ours, whose name I speak 
with due respect, Muresis, 4 a kinsman of yours, as I learned 
from him. He brought me another letter which your Re- 
verence had sent him on this subject, and he consulted me 
on it, asking that I should let you know, either by my answer 
or his, what I think about it; that is, whether souls are 
propagated like bodies, and are derived from the first one 
which was created for the first man, or whether the all-power- 
ful Creator, who undoubtedly 'worketh until now,' 5 creates 
new ones for individual persons, without any root-stock. 

Before I advise your Sincerity on this matter, I wish you 
to know that in my numerous works I have never ventured 
to commit myself to a definite opinion on this subject, and I 
consider it lacking in modesty to put into letters designed for 
the instruction of others what I have not clearly expressed. 
It would take too long to set forth in this letter the motives 
and reasons which influence me so that my mind inclines to 
neither of these theories, and I still balance between them, 
but the necessity of this decision is not so imperative that we 
cannot pass it over and carry on a satisfactory discussion 
which may serve to ward off temerity if not to remove doubt. 

The truth, then, on which the Christian faith especially 
rests is that 'by a man came death and by a man the resur- 
rection of the dead; for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ 
all shall be made alive'; 6 and that 'by one man sin entered 
into this world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon 
all men in whom all have sinned'; and that 'judgment 
indeed was by one unto condemnation, but grace is of many 

4 A Mauretanian priest. 

5 John 5.17. 

6 1 Cor. 15,21,22. 



LETTERS 273 

offenses unto justification 5 ; and that by the offense of one 
unto all men to condemnation, and by the justice of one 
unto all men to justification of life.' 7 If there are any other 
testimonies, they assert that no one is born of Adam without 
being bound under the fetters of sin and damnation; that no 
one is delivered therefrom except through rebirth in Christ, 8 
and this we must hold with such unshaken faith as to know 
that whoever denies this does not belong to the faith of 
Christ, or to that grace of God which is given through Christ 
to little and great. Thus, if the origin of the soul is an obscure 
question, there is no danger so long as the doctrine of 
Redemption is clear, for we do not believe in Christ in order 
to be born, but in order to be born again, whatever may 
have been the mode of our first birth. 

Thus far, then, we say without risk that the origin of the 
soul is an obscure question, provided we believe that the 
soul is not a part of God but a creature; not born of God 
but made by Him to be adopted into sonship with Him, by 
a marvellous condescension of grace, not by a likeness or 
worthiness of nature; that it is not body but spirit; not the 
Creator, obviously, but the thing created; that the reason 
why it comes into this corruptible body which is a load upon 
it 9 is not because it is being driven there in punishment for 
a previous life badly spent among celestial beings or in some 
other parts of the universe; for, when the Apostle speaks of 
the twin sons of Rebecca, he says that they had not yet done 
any good or evil, so that not of works, in which one was not 
distinguished from the other, but of Him that calleth was it 
said that the elder should serve the younger. 10 

Therefore, when we have firmly established these points, 

7 Rom. 5.12,16,18. 

8 John 3.3. 

9 Wisd. 9.15. 

10 Rom. 9.11,12; Gen. 25.23. 



274 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

if it is something so withdrawn and hidden in the secret works 
of God that even the divine Scriptures do not declare in 
plain words whether we are to believe that these children had 
as yet done nothing good or evil because they received their 
soul individually, not propagated from others, but created 
from nothing at that instant, or whether it was because they 
themselves had no existence by which they could lead their 
own lives while they were in embryo in their parents, we 
must nevertheless hold firmly to that faith by which we 
believe that no one born of man, whether a person of great 
age or an infant just born, is freed from the contagion of 
the primal death and the bond of sin which is contracted 
at birth except through the one Mediator of God and men, 
the Man, Christ Jesus. 11 

Those just men also were saved by their salutary faith in 
Him as man and God who, before He came in the flesh, 
believed that He was to come in the flesh, 12 Our faith is the 
same as theirs, since they believed that this would be, while 
we believe that it has come to pass. Hence, the Apostle 
Paul says: 'But having the same spirit of faith, as it is 
written: I believed for which cause I have spoken: we also 
believe for which cause we speak also. 513 If, then, those who 
foretold that Christ would come in the flesh had the same 
faith as those who have recorded His coming, these religious 
mysteries could vary according to the diversity of times, yet 
all refer most harmoniously to the unity of the same faith. 
It is written in the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostle 
Peter said: 'Now therefore why tempt you God to put a 
yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers 
nor we have been able to bear? But by the grace of the Lord 
Jesus Christ we believe to be saved in like manner as they 



11 1 Tim. 2.5. 

12 1 John 4.2; John L7. 

13 2 Cor. U3; Ps. 115.1. 



LETTERS 275 

also.' 14 If, therefore, they, that is, the fathers, being unable 
to bear the yoke of the Old Law, believed that they were 
saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, it is clear that 
this grace saved even the just men of old through faith, for 
'the just man liveth by faith.' 15 

'Now the law entered in that sin might abound,' 16 that 
grace might superabound through which the abounding of 
sin might be healed. Tor if there had been a law given which 
could give life, verily justice should have been by the law.' 
Still, he indicates for what good purpose the Law was given 
when he adds: 'But the Scripture hath concluded all under 
sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be 
given to them that believe.' 17 Therefore, the Law had to be 
given to reveal man more clearly to himself, lest the proud 
human- spirit should think it could be just by its own effort, 
and 'not knowing the justice of God,' that is, what comes 
to man from God, 'and seeking to establish its own,' that is, 
as if it had been won for it by its own strength, 'should not 
submit to the justice of God.' 18 For it was fitting that, in 
addition to the commandment which is thus expressed: 'Thou 
shalt not covet,' 19 there should come upon the proud sinner 
the charge of prevarication, so that, convinced of his weakness 
which was not cured by the Law, he should seek the remedy 
of grace. 

Consequently, since all the just, that is, the true worshipers 
of God, whether before the Incarnation or after the Incar- 
nation of Christ, neither lived nor live except by faith in the 
Incarnation of Christ, in whom is the fullness of grace, 
certainly the words which are written that 'there is no other 

14 Acts 15.10,11. 

15 Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38; Hab. 2.4. 

16 Rom. 5.20. 

17 Gal. 3.21,22. 

18 Cf. Rom. 10.3. 

19 Exod. 20.17; Deut. 5.21; Rom. 7.7. 



276 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

name under heaven whereby we must be saved/ 20 were 
effective for saving the human race from the time when the 
human race was tainted in Adam. Tor as in Adam all die, 
so also in Christ all shall be made alive/ 21 because as no one 
is in the kingdom of death but through Adam, so no one is 
in the kingdom of life but through Christ; as by Adam all 
are men, so by Christ all are just men; as by Adam all 
mortals become children of the world in their punishment, 
so by Christ all immortals become children of God in grace. 

And with a brevity as concise as his authority is compelling, 
the blessed Apostle explains the reason for the creation of 
those also of whom the Creator knows that they are to belong 
to damnation, not to grace. He says that 'God, willing to 
show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with 
much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, that he 
might show the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, 5 
having described Him above as a potter using 'clay of the 
same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto 
dishonor.' 23 But it would seem unjust that vessels of wrath 
should be made unto destruction if the whole lump of clay 
had not been condemned in Adam. The fact that men become 
vessels of wrath at birth is due to the penalty deserved, but 
that they become vessels of mercy at their second birth is due 
to an undeserved grace. 

Therefore, God shows His wrath, not indeed as a dis- 
turbance of mind, which is what the wrath of men is called, 
but as a fixed and settled decree of punishment, because the 
root-stock of disobedience produces the offshoot of sin and 
doom. 'Man born of woman, 3 as it is written in the Book of 
Job, 'is short-lived and full of wrath. 523 For he is a vessel of 
that of which he is full; hence they are called vessels of 

20 Acts 4.12. 

21 1 Cor. 15.22. 

22 Rom. 9.22,23L 

23 Job 14.1 (Septuagint) . 



LETTERS 



277 



wrath. He shows His power, also, of which He makes a 
good use by bestowing many natural and temporal goods 
even on the wicked, adapting their malice to make trial of 
the good and warning them by a comparison of their state, 
so that they may learn to thank God for having distinguished 
them from these others by His mercy, not for any merit of 
theirs, since they were equally vessels of the same clay. This 
is especially manifest in the case of infants, some of whom are 
born again by the grace of Christ, and if they end their 
lives at that tender age pass on to an eternal and blessed 
life. Yet it cannot be said that they are distinguished because 
of their free will from other infants who die without this 
grace in the damnation of that clay. 

But if the only ones created from Adam were those who 
were to be recreated through grace, and no other men were 
born but those who are adopted as sons of God, the fact that 
bounty is bestowed on the unworthy would be obscured, 
because the due punishment would not be inflicted on any 
who come of the same doomed stock. When c He endured 
with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, 5 
He not only 'showed his wrath and made known his power' 
by meting out punishment and making a good use of the 
wicked, but He also made known 'the riches of his glory on 
the vessels of mercy. 5 Being thus freely justified, man learns 
what is bestowed on him when he is distinguished from the 
condemned, not by his own merit, but by the glory of God's 
most bountiful mercy, though he himself deserved damnation 
and was of the same original justice. 

By creating so many He willed that those should be born 
of whom He foreknew that they would have no part in His 
grace, so that by their countless multitude they might out- 
number those whom He deigned to predestine to the kingdom 
of His glory as sons of promise. Thus, also, He willed to 
show by this very multitude of the castaways how the mere 



278 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

number, whatever it may be, of the justly damned is of no 
account with a just God; and thus, also, those who are 
ransomed from that damnation may understand that this 
fate, which they see meted out to so large a part, is owed to 
the whole lump of clay. And in this part are included not 
only those who add many sins to the original sin by the free 
choice of an evil will, but even many infants, bound only 
by the fetter of original sin, who are carried off from this 
life without the grace of the Mediator. Doubtless, the whole 
mass of clay would have received its due of just damnation, 
if the potter, not only just but merciful, had not made of it 
vessels unto honor, according to grace, not according to their 
due, when He both succors the little ones who have no 
merits to be recorded, and forestalls their elders that they 
may have some merits. 

This being so, you will be right if your statement does 
not lead you to say that newly created souls, because of the 
innocence of their new state, cannot be subject to original 
damnation before they make use of their free will to commit 
sin, but if you admit that, in accord with Catholic faith, if 
they leave the body at that tender age, they will go to eternal 
loss unless they are freed by the sacrament of the Mediator 
who 'came to seek and to save that which was lost/ 24 Inquire, 
therefore, where or whence or when they began to deserve 
damnation, if they are newly created, so long as you do not 
make God, or some nature which God did not create, 
responsible either for their sin or for the damnation of the 
innocent. And if you discover what I advise you to seek out, 
which, I confess, I have not yet discovered myself, defend it 
as vigorously as you can, and proclaim this newness of souls 
of such sort as not to be derived from any root-stock, and in 
your brotherly affection share what you have discovered with 
us. 

24 Luke 19.10; Matt. 18.11. 



LETTERS 279 

But if you do not discover why or how infant souls 
become sinful, and why they are obliged to derive the source 
of their damnation from Adam, though they have no evil 
in themselves, since you believe that they are included in the 
flesh of sin though not propagated from that first sinful soul, 
but created new and blameless, do not let your inclination 
lead you rashly to that other opinion, to make you believe that 
they are derived from that primal one by propagation, lest, 
perhaps, another make the discovery which you cannot, or you 
might sometime discover what you cannot now find out. For 
those who claim that souls are begotten from one which 
God gave to the first man, and who say that they are derived 
from their parents, if they follow the opinion of Tertullian, 25 
they certainly hold that such souls are not spirits but bodies, 
and are produced from corporeal seed and what more per- 
verted view could be expressed? But it is not surprising that 
Tertullian was dreaming when he thought this, since he even 
thought that God the Creator was not spirit but body. 

Any Christian who rejects this madness with heart and 
lips, and confesses that the soul is not body but spirit, as 
indeed it is, and that it is nevertheless transmitted from 
parents to children, in one respect at least is not involved in 
difficulties, because the true faith teaches that all souls, even 
of infants whom the Church baptizes, not indeed to a feigned 
but to a real remission of sins, inherit the original sin com- 
mitted by the free will of the first man and transmitted by 
generation to all his descendants, which sin can be cleansed 
away only by the second birth. But when anyone begins to 
consider and examine into what is here said, it is a wonder 
that any human perception can understand in what manner 
a soul is produced in the offspring from the soul of the 
parent, as light is kindled from light, and a second flame 
comes into existence without loss to the first; whether the 

25 Tertullian, Adv. Praxean 7; Augustine De Genesi ad litteram 10.25,26. 



280 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

incorporeal seed of the soul flows up by its own secret and 
invisible way from the father to the mother when conception 
takes place in a woman, or, which is still harder to believe, 
whether it is latent in the bodily seed. But, when seed flows 
out uselessly without any conception, the question is whether 
the seed of the soul does not issue forth at the same time, or 
whether it returns, with the greatest speed in an instant of 
time, to the place from which it carne, or whether it is des- 
troyed. If it is destroyed, we ask how the soul whose seed is 
mortal is itself immortal, or if it receives its immortality when 
it is formed that it may live, as it receives justice when it is 
formed that it may be wise; and how God fashions it in 
man, even if soul is derived from soul by seed, as He fashions 
the members of the body in man, although body is derived 
from body by seed. For, if the spiritual being were not 
formed by God, these words would not have been written: 
'Who formeth the spirit of man in him,' 26 and also this that 
we read: 'He hath made the hearts of men, every one of 
them'; 27 if by hearts we mean souls, who could doubt that 
they can be formed? But the question remains whether each 
soul is formed from that of the first man, as He forms the 
faces of men singly, but from the one body of the first man. 
Since many questions of this kind are raised on this matter, 
such as cannot be investigated by any human sense, are far 
removed from our experience and hidden in the most secret 
recesses of nature, it is no shame for a man to admit that 
he does not know what he does not know, lest by pretending 
that he does know he should deserve never to know. Who 
would deny that God is the creator and maker not only of 
one soul but of every soul, except the man who is most 
openly opposed to His word? He speaks through the Prophet 
without any ambiguity when He says: 'I have made every 



26 Zach. 12.1. 

27 Ps. 32.15. 



LETTERS 281 

breath/ 28 evidently intending us to understand souls, as the 
subsequent words show. For He did not breathe only the 
one breath into the first man made from the earth, but He 
made every breath, as He still does. Nevertheless, there is 
question whether He makes every breath from that one breath, 
as He makes each body of man from that first body, or 
whether He makes new bodies from that one, but new souls 
from nothing. Who is it that makes from seeds various kinds 
of things appropriate to their origins, except He who made 
the very seeds without seeds? When a thing naturally obscure 
surpasses our limited intelligence, and there is no assistance 
from a clear passage of sacred Scripture, human conjecture 
is rash in presuming to define any opinion on it. Speaking in 
terms of the life which they begin to have as their own we 
say that men are new-born, whether of soul or body, but in 
terms of original sin they are born old, and therefore they 
are made new by baptism. 

I have therefore found nothing certain about the origin of 
the soul in the canonical Scriptures. Those who assert that 
souls are created anew without any root-stock rely on certain 
testimonies by which they seek to prove it, among which are 
the two which I quoted awhile ago : 'Who formeth the spirit 
of man in him,' and 'He hath made the hearts of men, every 
one of them. 5 You see how these can be used by those who 
oppose this view, for it is not certain whether, when He 
forms it, He forms it from another or from nothing. The one 
outstanding evidence seems to be the one which occurs in 
the Book of Ecclesiastes by Solomon: 'And the dust shall 
return into its earth from whence it was, and the spirit return 
to God who gave it. 529 But the rebuttal to this is easily found: 
The body returns to the earth from which the first human 
body was made and the spirit to God by whom the first 

28 Isa. 57.16 (Septuagint) . 

29 Eccle. 12.7. 



?32 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

human soul was made; for, as they say, just as our body, 
although propagated from that first body, returns to that 
element from which the first body was made, so our soul, 
although propagated from that soul, does not return to no- 
thing, because it is immortal, but to Him by whom that ^ first 
soul was made. Therefore, this passage which was written 
about the soul of every man that 'it returns to God who gave 
it 5 , does not solve this very obscure question, because, whether 
the soul came from that first one or from no other, it is true 
that God gave it. 

Likewise, those who rashly and inconsiderately defend the 
theory of the propagation of souls, in offering evidence which 
they imagine supports their case, think they can produce no 
clearer or more explicit text on their side than this passage 
from Genesis: 'Arid all the souls that went with Jacob into 
Egypt and that came out of his thighs.' 30 From this apparently 
clear testimony it is possible to believe that souls are trans- 
mitted to sons by parents, since it seems to be quite plainly 
stated that the souls and not only the bodies of his sons came 
out of the thighs of Jacob; and in the same way they want 
to understand the whole for the part in what Adam said when 
his wife was presented to him: This is now bone of my 
bones and flesh of my flesh/ 31 for he did not say: 'and soul 
of my soul 3 ; but it could be possible by naming the flesh to 
imply both, just as in the former passage the writer named 
the souls yet wished the bodies of the sons to be understood. 

But this testimony, seemingly clear and direct, would not 
suffice to disentangle this knotty point, even if in the clause, 
'who (qui) came out of his thighs' we were to read 'quae* 
(which) in the feminine gender so as to refer it to souls, since 
it is proved that under the name of soul the body alone can 
be designated by a certain figure of speech in which the 

30 Gen. 46.26 (Septuagint) . 

31 Gen. 2.23. 



LETTERS 283 

thing contained is signified by the container. Thus, the poet 
says: They wreathed the wine, 532 although it was the wine- 
cups that were wreathed: the wine is the thing contained, 
the cup the container. So also we call a basilica, in which 
the people are contained, a church; yet it is the people who 
are rightly called the church; 33 and so, by the name of 
church, that is, of the people who are contained, we des- 
ignate the place which contains them. Thus, as souls are 
contained in bodies, the bodies of the sons can be understood 
under the name of souls. An even better interpretation is that 
of the Law, which says that a man is unclean who goes in to 
a dead soul, 34 that is, the corpse of a dead man, by the words 
'dead souP meaning to designate the dead body which 
formerly contained the soul. And so, too, when the people, 
that is, the church, are not present, the place of assembly is 
nonetheless called a church. This answer could be made, as 
I said, if the feminine gender had been used in: 'that came 
out of the thighs of Jacob,' that is, the souls that came out. 
But now, since the masculine gender has been used, that is, 
'who (qui) came out of the thighs of Jacob 5 , anyone might 
prefer to interpret it thus: A11 the souls of those who came out 
of his thighs/ that is, the souls of men. Thus it would be 
possible to understand that men came out of the thighs of 
their father according to the body only, but theirs were the 
souls according to the number of which so many were 
designated. 

I should like to read the treatise of yours which you 
mentioned in your letter, in case you have collected there 
some unambiguous evidence. But when a friend, 35 who is 
very dear to me and very well versed in sacred literature, 
asked me my opinion on this subject, and I had confessed 

32 Vergil, Aeneid 1.724. 

33 Ecclesia literally means 'assembly.' 

34 Num. 9.6-10. 

35 Marcellinus; cf. Letter 143. 



284 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

to him without human respect my uncertainty and ignorance, 
he wrote from there to a very learned man, 36 far across the 
sea. He answered advising him rather to consult me, not 
knowing that he had already done so and had not been able 
to get a certain or definite answer from me. However, in 
his brief letter he indicated that he inclined to the belief that 
souls are created separately rather than propagated, although 
he warned his correspondent that the Western Church gener- 
allyhe is in the East holds to the belief in the propagation 
of souls. Upon this I took advantage of a favorable oppor- 
tunity and wrote him a long book/ 7 asking his advice and 
begging him to instruct me first and then send me others to 
instruct. 

This book, which is not the work of a teacher but of an 
inquirer, or, rather, of one desiring to learn, can be read at 
niy house, but ought not to be sent anywhere or given to 
anyone outside, until I receive an answer and find out what 
he thinks, for I am ready and willing to defend him, if he 
succeeds in teaching me how it happens that souls do not 
descend from Adam, yet inherit from him the just doom of 
damnation unless they attain by a second birth a remission 
of sin. But far be it from us to believe either that the souls of 
little children receive an apparent cleansing from sin in the 
baptismal font, or that God, or some nature which God did 
not create, is the source of the defilement from which they 
are cleansed. Therefore, until either he writes me an answer, 
or I myself, if God wills, find out in some fashion what is 
the cause of the soul's incurring original sin if it does not 
derive its origin from that first sinful soul, I would not dare 
to make any such statement, because that sin must necessarily 
exist in all infants, and God does not drive the guiltless soul 

36 St. Jerome; cf. Letter 165. 

37 Letter 166. 



LETTERS 285 

into it, because He is not the author of sin, nor does any 
nature of evil do it because nothing of that sort exists. 

If you will bear with me willingly and patiently, dearest 
brother, I warn you not to rush heedlessly into this new 
heresy which is trying to undermine the solid foundations of 
the ancient faith by arguing against the grace of God, lavished 
by the Lord Christ with indescribable bounty on little and 
great. When Pelagius and Caelestius were found to be the 
authors, or, at least, the keenest and best-known promoters 
of this heresy, they were condemned by the watchful care of 
councils of bishops, as well as by two venerable prelates of 
the Apostolic See, Pope Innocent and Pope Zozimus, and by 
the whole Christian world, and were ordered to amend their 
lives and do penance. We have copies of recent letters from 
the above-mentioned Apostolic See, both those sent in partic- 
ular to Africa, and those issued in general to all the bishops, 
and in case they have not yet reached your Holiness, we 
have made it a point to have them sent by the brothers to 
whom we are giving this letter to deliver to your Reverence. 
The reason why those two are heretics is not because they 
hold that souls do not derive their origin from that first 
sinful one, which could either be asserted as true with some 
semblance of reason, or could be ignored without offense to 
faith, but they are judged to be most openly heretical because 
on this foundation they try to build up the theory that the 
souls of infants inherit no evil from Adam which needs 
expiation in the baptismal font. The argument of Pelagius, 
which is included among others of his condemned state- 
ments in the letters of the Apostolic See, runs thus: c lf the 
soul,' he says, c is not from a root-stock, but if only the flesh 
belongs to the parent stock of sin, then the flesh alone 
deserves the penalty. For it is unjust that a soul, born today 
and not formed of the clay of Adam, should bear the con- 
sequences of so ancient a sin committed by another, because 



286 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

reason does not concede that God, who pardons a man's 
own sins, should impute to him another's sin.' 

If, then, you can affirm the theory of newly created souls, 
not propagated from another, so as to show by a right reason, 
not inconsistent with the Catholic faith, that they are, even 
so, subject to the sin of the first man, affirm what you think 
as best you can. But if you cannot find any argument against 
the propagation of souls without making them free from 
every bond of sin, refrain entirely from discussion of this 
kind. For the remission of sins given to infants in baptism is 
not a pretended one nor is it confined to words only; it is 
truly effected in them. To quote the words which we read 
in the letter of the blessed Pope Zozimus: 'The Lord is 
faithful in his words,' 38 and His baptism has the same ful- 
fillment in fact and in words, that is, indeed, by a true 
confession and remission of sins in every sex, age, and 
condition of the human race. No one is set free but he who is 
the slave of sin, and no one can be called ransomed but he 
who was formerly made captive by sin, as it is written: 'If 
the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.^ 9 
Through Him we are spiritually bom again, through Him 
we are crucified to the world, by His death the decree of 
death that was brought upon all of us by Adam, and trans- 
mitted to every soul by its descent, is torn down; but there 
is no single one of his children who is not held subject to 
this decree before he is set free by baptism.' 40 In these words 
of the Apostolic See the Catholic faith stands out as so ancient 
and so firmly established, so certain and so clear, that it 
would be wrong for a Christian to doubt it. 

Since, then, the decree of death, brought upon not one or 
some but every human soul by its descent, is torn down by 

38 Ps. 144.13. 

39 John 8.36. 

40 Fragment of a tractoria or papal brief of Pope Zozimus, not otherwise 
extant. 



LETTERS 



287 



the death of Christ, if you can defend the theory of souls 
free of this descent, yet so that they may be proved by strict 
reasoning to be bound by this decree which is to be torn down 
only by the death of Christ, and if you can show that they 
owe this just debt to their flesh if not to their own descent, 
defend it without hindrance from anyone, and show us how 
we may defend it with you. But if you cannot affirm what 
you think regarding the new creation of souls without claim- 
ing either that they are not involved in the sin of the first man, 
or that innocent souls become sinful not through their own 
origin but through that of the body, with God or some evil 
nature as the cause, then it would be better for the origin 
of the soul to remain unknown so long as we do not doubt 
that it is created by God rather than have it said that God 
is the author of sin, or that some evil nature opposed to 
God should be introduced into the discussion, or that the 
baptism of infants should be called useless. 

However, in order that your Charity may hear something 
definite from me on this question, something not to be lightly 
esteemed, but, on the contrary, something necessary and 
memorable, it is not allowable to believe that the soul of the 
Mediator contracted any sin from Adam, and that holds 
true no matter what view we take of the origin of souls, 
whether they are propagated from the first one or from no 
other. For, if no soul is propagated from another, while all 
souls are enclosed in flesh descended from sinful flesh, how 
much less credible is it that His soul could have come by 
propagation from a sinful woman, whereas his flesh came 
from a virgin and was not conceived in lust, that He might 
be e in the likeness of sinful flesh, 541 not in sinful flesh! Now, 
if all other souls are held in bondage to the sin of the first 
sinful soul because they are derived from it, then, manifestly, 
the soul which the Only-begotten prepared for Himself either 

41 Rom. 8.3. 



288 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

did not derive any sin from it or it was not derived from it at 
all. He who freed us from our sins was able to derive for 
Himself a soul without sin, and He who created a new soul 
for the body which He made from the earth without parents 
was equally able to create a soul for the body which He took 
of a woman without the co-operation of man. 

I have written this answer as best I could to the letter of 
your Holiness, addressed, it is true, not to me but to my 
very dear brothers. What is lacking in skill must be supplied 
by anxious affection. If you receive it kindly and keep my 
brotherly and useful warning by not going astray on this 
question, but by considering it prudently in the peace of the 
Church, I give thanks to God. But if you wonder that I do 
not yet know these things, or even if you do not wonder and 
do not refuse with mutual love to teach me something certain 
about the origin of the soul, provided our faith, which is 
most certain and most clear, is not attacked, I will give even 
more abundant thanks to God. 

Live always in the Lord and remember me, most saintly 
lord, brother cherished with sincere affection. 



191. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the revered lord, 
Sixtusf his holy brother and fellow priest, cher- 
ished in the charity of Christ (418) 

The letter which your Benignity sent me by our holy 
brother, the priest Firmus, 2 reached Hippo while I was away, 
and I was able to read it on my return only after the bearer 
had departed, but this earliest and most welcome opportunity 
of answering is afforded by our very dear son, the acolyte, 3 

1 Afterwards Pope Sixtus III (432440) . 

2 A faithful letter-bearer; cL Letters 115 and 134. 

3 He was a personal attendant of his bishop, having received some of the 
minor orders. 



LETTERS 289 

Albinus. Although your letter was addressed jointly to both 
of us, we were not together when it arrived, and that accounts 
for your receiving a letter from each of us instead of a single 
one from both. The bearer of this letter, after leaving me, 
will pass by my revered brother and fellow bishop, Alypius, so 
that he may write another one to your Holiness, and he is 
taking with him your own letter which I have finished read- 
ing. As to the great joy which your letter roused in me, why 
should a man try to express what is inexpressible? I imagine 
you do not adequately appreciate how much good you have 
done us by writing as you did, but take our word for it; just 
as you are witness to your own soul, so we are to ours of the 
depth to which we have been moved by the transparent 
sincerity of your letter. For, if our joyful eagerness was so 
great as we copied out that very short letter on the same 
subject, which you sent by the acolyte, Leo, 4 to the saintly 
elder, Aurelius, and if we read it with great zeal to all whom 
we could reach the letter in which you explained to us your 
views on that altogether deadly doctrine, and, contrariwise, 
on the grace of God which He bestows on little and great, to 
which this doctrine is diametrically opposed how great do 
you think was our joy in reading this longer letter of yours, 
how great our care to have it read by all to whom we have 
been able or are still able to offer it? What more welcome 
statement could be read or heard than so perfect a defense 
of the grace of God against its enemies, pronounced by one 
whom those same enemies had previously boasted of as an 
influential authority on their side? Or is there anything which 
should make us give more grateful thanks to God than the 
fact that His grace is so well defended by those to whom it is 
given against those to whom it is either not given or who 
resent its being given because by a secret judgment of God 
it is not given to them to receive it gratefully? 

4 Afterwards Pope Leo the Great (440-461) . 



290 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Therefore, revered lord and holy brother, cherished in the 
love of Christ, although you perform an excellent service in 
writing on this subject to the brothers among whom those 
men are in the habit of boasting of your friendship, a greater 
duty awaits you, not only of using a wholesome severity in 
punishing those who dare with too great boldness to prate 
of that error so utterly hostile to the name of Christ, but 
also, for the sake of the weaker and more simple-minded of 
the Lord's sheep, of directing your pastoral vigilance to the 
erection of most careful safeguards against those who do not 
cease to whisper this error, more moderately, it is true, and 
more covertly, 'creeping into houses,' 5 as the Apostle says, 
and with practised impiety doing the other things which he 
goes on to mention. And those are not to be overlooked who 
through fear conceal what they think under a deep silence, 
but do not cease to hold the same perverted views. Some of 
them, indeed, may have come to your notice before that 
pestilence was condemned by a most explicit decree of the 
Apostolic See, and you may observe that they have suddenly 
lapsed into silence, making it impossible to discover whether 
they have been cured of it, unless they not only refrain from 
proclaiming those false doctrines but also defend the true and 
contrary views with the same zeal they showed in promoting 
error. These, however, ought surely to be treated more gently, 
for what need is there of frightening them when their very 
silence shows that they are already frightened enough? At 
the same time they are not to be passed over by your remedial 
care as if they were sound, merely because their wound is 
hidden. While they are not to be frightened, they must still 
be taught, and in my opinion this can be done more easily 
while their fear of severe measures aids the teacher of truth. 
Thus, with the Lord's help, by uttering what they have 
learned and loved of His grace, they may refute what they 
no longer dare to affirm. 



5 2 Tim. 3.6-8. 



LETTERS 291 

192. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to his revered 

lord, holy brother and greatly desired fellow 

deacon, Celestine 1 (418) 

The letter which your Holiness sent me by the cleric, 
Projectus, reached Hippo while I was far away. As soon as I 
read it at my return and realized that I had become your 
debtor, I began to look for a chance to pay my debt, when 
lo! a most welcome opportunity presented itself in the un- 
expected departure from us of Albinus, 2 the acolyte of our 
very dear brother. I take pleasure, therefore, in your good 
health as in the fulfillment of my dearest desire, and I return 
to your Holiness the greeting which I owe you. But I always 
owe you love, the only thing which leaves us still in debt 
even when it has been repaid. For it is repaid when it is 
expended, but it is owed even after it has been repaid, since 
there is never a time when it does not have to be expended. 
Yet, when it is repaid it is not lost, but is rather increased 
by repayment, for it is repaid by retaining it, not by being 
without it. And since it cannot be repaid unless it is retained, 
so it cannot be retained unless it is repaid; nay, rather, 
when it is paid out by a man it increases in him, and the 
more generously he pays it out the more of it he gains. But 
how can we refuse to friends what we owe even to enemies? 
We pay it out to enemies, however, with reserve, but to our 
friends with ready trust. Nevertheless, the heart makes a 
strong effort to recover what it expends, even from those to 
whom it is returning good for evil. That is because we wish 
to have as a friend the one whom we sincerely love as an 
enemy, for we do not love him unless we wish his good, 

1 Afterwards Pope Celestine I (422-432) . He sent Germanus of Auxerre 
and Palladius to reclaim the Britons from Pelagianism. 

2 Cf. Letter 191 n. 3. 



292 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

which certainly he cannot have unless he lays aside the evil 
of enmity. 

Therefore, love is not expended like money. For, besides 
the fact that the one is diminished by being expended and the 
other increased, they also differ in this that we show greater 
good will toward anyone, if we do not seek to recover the 
money we have given him ; but no one can be a true spender 
of love unless he is also a kindly collector of it. When money 
is received, it is a gain to the recipient but a loss to the giver; 
love, on the other hand, not only grows in the one who asks it 
back from the object of his love, even if he does not receive 
it, but the one from whom he receives it only begins to possess 
it when he pays it back. Therefore, my lord and brother, I 
willingly pay you and gladly receive back from you the love 
we owe each other; what I receive I still claim, what I repay 
I still owe. For we ought to hearken submissively to the one 
Master whose fellow pupils we are, who instructs us by His 
Apostle, saying: 'Owe no man anything but to love one 
another.' 3 



193. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the beloved 

lord, Mercator? a son worthy to be praised 

among the members of Christ with sincere 

affection (418) 

I received the former letter sent by your Charity while I 
was at Carthage, and it gave me such pleasure that when 
your second letter came I even bore graciously your indignant 
reproach at my failure to answer. But, of course, your in- 

3 Rom. 13.8. 



1 Author of some newly published tracts against the Pelagians. He was 
at this time residing at Rome. 



LETTERS 293 

dignation was a sign of affection, not a beginning of enmity. 
What kept me from writing you at Carthage was not a lack 
of opportunity to send a letter, but other urgent matters 
which were a cause of great preoccupation and strain to us 
up to the time when we left. Moreover, on leaving there we 
went straight to Caesarea in Mauretania on exigent matters 
connected with the Church. And while we traveled through 
all those lands, many distractions assailed our senses and 
diverted our attention this way and that, but there was no 
insistent monitor to remind me to write to you, no opportunity 
offered by a bearer. At my return, I found at home the letter 
from your Sincerity, with its sharp note of complaint, and a 
book filled with proofs from the pages of holy Writ, directed 
against the new heretics. After reading them, and even run- 
ning through your first letter, I found myself impelled to 
reply because of the opportune occasion offered by the return 
o our very dear brother Albinus, an acolyte of the Church 
at Rome. 

Therefore, my very dear son, God forbid that I should 
treat you carelessly when you write to me or send me your 
writings to examine, or that I should look down on you with 
lofty scorn, especially as the pleasure you have given me is 
greater for being unexpected and unforeseen; for, I admit, I 
did not know you had made such progress. We ought to have 
no dearer wish than that there should be many men able to 
refute those who attack the Catholic faith with their deadly 
errors, and lay snares everywhere for the weak and ignorant 
among the brethren; men who can staunchly and faithfully 
defend the Church of Christ against c the profane novelties 
of words,' 3 according to the passage: c The multitude of the 
wise is the welfare of the whole world.' 4 Therefore, to the 

2 Goldbacher indicates a lacuna here, but the sense is complete as it 
stands. 

3 1 Tim. 6.20. 

4 Wisd. 6.26. 



294 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

best of my ability I have looked into your heart, as revealed 
in your writings, and I have found that I must embrace it and 
encourage it to press forward with untiring zeal to what lies 
before you, with the help of the Lord who has given you your 
ability that He may foster it. 

Some whom we are trying to call back to the way from 
which they have strayed are not far from the truth on the 
question of the baptism of infants when they claim that an 
infant of however recent birth makes its act of faith through 
those by whom it is offered for baptism. For, when they say, 
as you write, that infants do not believe in the remission of 
sins in the sense that remission is made to them since it is 
believed that they have no sin but because they also receive 
the same cleansing through which remission is made in those 
who do receive it, they believe that what does not happen in 
them happens in others, and since they say 'they do not 
believe in one sense but they do believe in another' they admit 
that these do manifestly believe. Let them, then, hearken to 
the Lord: 'He that believeth in the Son hath life everlasting; 
but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the 
wrath of God abideth on him.' Therefore, infants who became 
believers through others by whom they are offered for 
baptism become equally unbelievers through them, if they 
are in the hands of such as believe they are not to be offered 
for baptism because it does them no good. Consequently, if 
they believe through believers and have everlasting life, no 
doubt they disbelieve through unbelievers and will not see 
life, but the wrath of God abides on them. It does not say 
"comes upon them/ but 'abides on them,' because it has been 
on them since the beginning and cannot possibly be lifted 
from them except by 'the grace of God by Jesus Christ our 
Lord.' 6 Of this wrath we read in the Book of Job: 'Man 

5 John 3.36. 

6 Rom. 7.25. 



LETTERS 295 

born of a woman, living for a short time and full of wrath/ 
Whence, then, comes the wrath of God upon the innocence 
of an infant except from the lot and taint of original sin? 
In the same Book we read again that the infant is not free of 
this, 'whose life is of one day upon earth. 57 

Thus, he accomplished something among them by refuting 
them with ready arguments and making Catholic words echo 
in their ears, since, although they were trying to argue against 
the sacraments of the Church, they nevertheless admitted that 
infants believe. But let them not promise life to these without 
baptism, for to what other life do these words refer : c he that 
believeth not the Son shall not see life'? And let them not 
admit that these have no part in the kingdom of heaven, while 
at the same time they defend them from damnation, for what 
else but damnation is meant by the wrath which, as the Lord 
bears witness, abides on him who does not believe? That 
admission brings them at once close to our side and the 
case is ended without wrangling over trifles. For, if they grant 
that infants believe, no doubt this statement applies to them: 
'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, 
he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,' 8 as well as this 
one: c He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but 
he that believeth not shall be condemned.' 9 Therefore, since 
these men confess that infants become believers when they are 
baptized, let them not doubt that if they are unbelievers they 
are damned; and let them dare to say, if they can, that beings 
who inherit no evil from their origin and have no taint of 
sin are damned by a just God. 

I do not understand what help it is to them in the present 
issue to bring against us, as you mentioned in your letter, the 
case of Enoch and Elias, who did not die but were removed 

7 Job 14.1,5 (Septuagint) . 

8 John 3.5. 

9 Mark 16.16. 



296 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

in their bodies from contact with men. I pass over the general 
belief that they will meet death later, for several interpreters 
of John's Apocalypse 10 refer to the two Prophets what he says 
without mentioning their names, namely, that they will then 
appear in the bodies in which they now live so that they, too, 
may die, as other martyrs have died, for the truth of Christ; 
but, I repeat, I pass over that, and postponing that question, 

I ask you, what help is the status of these two Prophets to 
them? They derive no proof from these that physical death is 
not a punishment of sin. For, if God, who remits their sins 
to so many of His faithful, has willed to remit the punishment 
of death to certain ones, who are we that reply against God 11 
as to why He treats 'one after this manner and another after 
that? 312 

We say, therefore, what the Apostle says very plainly: 
The body indeed is dead because of sin, but the spirit liveth 
because of justification. And if the Spirit of him that raised 
up Christ from the dead dwell in you; he that raised up 
Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies 
because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 313 When we say 
this, we do not mean to deny that God can do now for some, 
according to His will, without death what we have no doubt 
He will do for so many after death; not for this will the 
Apostle's words be falsified when he says: 'By one man sin 
entered into this world and by sin death, and so death passed 
upon all men/ 14 This is said because there would have been 
no death if death had not entered by sin. So, also, when we 
say e all are sent to hell because of sin, 5 is our saying falsified 
because not all men are sent to hell? That statement is true, 
because no one is sent there except as a punishment of sin, 

10 Apoc. 11.3-7. 

II Rom. 930. 

12 1 Cor. 7.7. 

13 Rom. 8.10,11. 

14 Rom. 5.12. 



LETTERS 297 

not because everybody is sent there. This other opposite 
statement is of the same kind: c By the justice of one unto 
all men to justification of life/ 15 for all men do not attain 
to the justification of Christ, but no one is justified except 
by Christ. 

Not without reason does the question puzzle us why the 
penalty of death remains, although the sin does not remain 
that is, if bodily death is also a punishment of sin; but it is 
much more of a question why an infant dies after it has been 
baptized than why Elias did not die after he had been 
justified. In the former case, what puzzles us is why the 
penalty of sin follows after the sin has been destroyed; in the 
latter, we ought not to be puzzled if the penalty of sin does 
not follow after the sin has been destroyed. To the best of 
my ability, and with the Lord's help, I have settled that 
question about the death of baptized children that is, why 
some penalty of sin follows even after the destruction of sin 
in my books on the baptism of infants, 16 which I am sure are 
well known to you. But we should not be troubled by that 
other question, 'Why did the just Elias not die if death is 
the penalty of sin? 5 any more than if one said, 'Why did the 
sinner Elias not die if death is the penalty of sin?* 

But if they raise one difficulty from another and say: 'If 
Enoch and Elias were so sinless that they did not suffer death, 
which is the penalty of sin, how does that tally with the 
teaching that no one lives in this world without sin?' the 
probable answer to them would be : 'Because God willed them 
to live after they had done with sin, they were not permitted 
to live here, since here no one can live without sin.' But this 
and other arguments of the same sort could be brought against 
them if it could be proved with certainty from any source 
that those two will never die. But, since they cannot teach 

15 Rom. 5.18. 

16 De peccatorum meritis et remissions et de baptismo parvulorum. 



298 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

this It is better to believe that Enoch and Elias will die at the 
end of the world, and since it is better to believe that they 
will meet death, there is no reason why these should wish to 
make an objection to us of men who will not support their 
case at any point. 

On the other hand, those whom the Apostle mentions when 
he speaks of the resurrection of the dead: Then we who are 
alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in 
the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and so we shall be 
always with the Lord/ 17 do indeed raise something of a 
difficulty, but it concerns themselves, not our objectors. Even 
if these survivors are not themselves going to die, I see no 
way in which their case helps these objectors, since it is 
possible to make the same comments on these as were made 
on the other two. As a matter of fact, as far as the words of 
the blessed Apostle are concerned, he seems to state that 
certain persons, at the end of the world, when the Lord comes, 
when the resurrection of the dead is to take place, will not 
die, but, being found alive, are to be suddenly transformed 
into the immortality which is given to the rest of the saints, 
and to be taken up together with them, as he says, in the 
clouds; as often as I think over these words, they seem to me 
to mean nothing else but that. 

But I should be better pleased to hear more competent 
teachers on this point; otherwise, those who think that some 
persons, having received life without previously dying, are 
to pass to everlasting life, may find the Apostle saying to 
them: 'Senseless man, that which thou sowest is not quickened 
except it die first !' For, if we do not all die, how can there 
be a fulfillment of what we read in many texts: c We shall all 
rise again?* 18 Obviously, there is no resurrection without a 
preliminary death. And the fact that some texts have the 



17 1 Thess. 4.16. 

18 1 Cor. 15.36,51. 



LETTERS 299 

words: 'We shall all fall asleep/ makes this much easier and 
plainer to understand. And every other similar passage found 
in holy Writ seems to force us to conclude that no man will 
attain immortality without first passing through death. Con- 
sequently, when the Apostle says: 'And we who are alive, 
who remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent 
them who have slept. For the Lord himself shall come down 
from heaven with commandment and with the voice of an 
archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead who are 
in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are 
left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to 
meet Christ, into the air, and so we shall be always with the 
Lord 5 ; 19 as I said, I should like to hear more competent 
teachers comment on these words, and if they can only be in- 
terpreted so that it is possible to understand from them that all 
men who are now alive or who are to live after us will die, I 
wish to correct a different view which I formerly held. We 
who are teachers ought not to be intractable, and it is 
certainly better for a little man to be set right than for an 
obdurate one to be broken, since by our writings our own 
deficiency and that of others may be trained and taught, yet 
not in such wise as to set up in them anything like canonical 
authority. 

If no other meaning can be found for these words of the 
Apostle, and it is clear that he intended them to mean what 
the words themselves seem to cry aloud, that is, that at the 
end of the world and the coming of the Lord there will be 
some who will be clothed with immortality without being 
stripped of their bodies, 'that that which is mortal may be 
swallowed up by life, 520 undoubtedly that will agree with the 
words which we profess in the Creed, namely, that the Lord 
will come to judge the living and the dead. In this sense we 

19 1 Thess. 4.14-16. 

20 2 Cor. 5.4. 



300 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

will not take the living to mean the righteous and the dead 
the ungodly, although both righteous and ungodly are to be 
judged, but by living we shall understand those who, at His 
coming, have not yet gone out of their bodies, and by the 
dead those who have gone out from them long since. If 
that interpretation stands, we shall have to examine carefully 
into these passages : 'that which thou sowest is not quickened 
except it die first/ and 'we shall rise again/ or we shall all 
fall asleep/ so as to understand them in amanner consistent 
with this view which holds that some will enter into eternal 
life in their bodies without first tasting death. 

But whichever one of these interpretations turns out to 
be truer or clearer, what good does it do the case of our 
objectors whether all men are bound by the debt of death, 
or some are spared its necessity, when it is still a fact that 
there would have been no subsequent death of soul or body 
if sin had not come first, and that it is a more remarkable 
effect of grace for the just to rise from death to eternal 
happiness than for them not to experience death? This will 
have to be enough to answer those of whom you wrote me, 
although I do not imagine they are now saying that Adam 
would have died, at least in body, even if he had not sinned. 

However, as far as the question of resurrection is concerned, 
because of the belief that some will not die but will pass 
from mortal life to immortality without any intervening 
death, there is need of a more careful examination into it. If 
you have either read or heard anything certain and definite 
on it, anything based on a reasonable and satisfactory argu- 
ment, or even if you have been able to think it out for 
yourself, or if in future you are able to hear or read or think 
it out, I beg you not to refuse to share it with me. For I must 
confess to your Charity, I like much better to learn than to 
teach. We are also advised to this by the words of the Apostle 



LETTERS 301 

James: c Let every man be swift to hear but slow to speak/ 21 
Therefore, the sweetness of truth should invite us to learn 
where the necessity of charity forces us to teach. In this case 
it is the more to be desired that this necessity which causes 
man to teach man anything may pass away that we may 
'all be taught of God', 32 although we are this when we learn 
what belongs to true godliness, even when man seems to 
teach it, because 'neither he that planteth is anything nor he 
that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. 523 Since, then, 
the Apostles would have accomplished nothing by planting 
and watering if God had not given the increase, how much 
more true is this of you or me or any men of our time who 
fancy themselves as teachers! 



194. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to his holy brother 

and fellow priest, Sixtus* his lord most beloved 

in the Lord of lords (418) 

In the letter 2 which I sent by our very dear brother, the 
acolyte, Albinus, I promised to send a longer one by our 
holy brother and fellow priest, Firmus. He had brought us a 
letter from your Sincerity, showing forth the candor of your 
faith, which filled us with a joy so great that we can more 
easily contain than describe it. We had been exceedingly sad 
when rumor spread abroad the news that you sided with the 
enemies of Christian grace* But several developments erased 
this sadness from our hearts: first, the same rumor made it 
known that you were the first to pronounce anathema on 

21 James 1.19. 

22 John 6.45; Isa. 54.15. 

23 1 Cor, 3.7. 

1 Cf. Letter 191 n. 1. 

2 Letter 191. 



302 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

them before a large crowd; second, your letter to the venerable 
elder, Aurelius, came with the letter sent by the Apostolic 
See to xAirica concerning their condemnation, and although 
yours was short it gave sufficient evidence of your strong 
repudiation of their error; and finally, now^ that your faith 
speaks more openly and comprehensively against that dogma, 
stating your views to us and to the Roman Church, to which 
the blessed Apostle Paul spoke so frequently and variously 
about the 'grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord,' 3 not 
only has every shadow of sadness fled from our hearts, but 
such a brilliance of happiness shines there that the former 
sorrow and fear seem to have intensified the glowing warmth 
of the joys that were to come. 

Therefore, dearest brother, although we do not see you 
with the eyes of the flesh, nevertheless in spirit, in the faith 
of Christ, in the grace of Christ, in the members of Christ, 
we hold you, we embrace you, we kiss you, and we are taking 
advantage of the return of that most holy and faithful 
bearer of our mutual communications, whom you wished 
us to have as the narrator and witness of your deeds, as well 
as the carrier of your writings,, to send you our answer and 
to hold a somewhat longer conversation with you, encourag- 
ing you to follow up by instructing those in whom you have 
begun, as we hear, to instill an adequate fear. There are 
some who think it a mark of the liberal mind to defend the 
impious doctrine which has been most justly condemned; 
there are some who c creep into houses, 4 in secret, and pro- 
pagate actively but in secret what they fear to preach openly; 
there are some who have been forced by great fear into 
complete silence, but who still keep in their hearts what they 
dare not utter with their lips, and these can be well known 
to the brethren from their former defense of this doctrine. 



3 Rom. 7.25. 

4 2 Tim. 3.6. 



LETTERS 303 

Therefore, some are to be restrained by severe measures; some 
to be investigated with care; some to be treated more gently 
but instructed more diligently, and, although there may be 
fear of their doing harm, there should be no backwardness in 
saving them from harm. 

When they think they are being deprived of their free will 
if they admit that man has no good will of his own without 
the help of God, they do not understand that they are not 
thus strengthening human free will but puffing it up so that 
it is carried off into empty space, not anchored on the Lord 
as on an immovable rock, for 'the will is made ready by 
the Lord. 55 

And when they affect to believe that God is a respecter of 
persons, 6 because without any antecedent merits of theirs 
'He hath mercy on whom he will,' 7 and calls whom He 
deigns to call and makes righteous whom He will, they 
overlook the fact that a deserved penalty is meted out to the 
damned, an undeserved grace to the saved, so that the former 
cannot complain that he is undeserving nor the latter boast 
that he is deserving. Where one and the same clay of 
damnation and offense is involved, there can be no respect 
had of persons, so that the saved may learn from the lost 
that the same punishment would have been his lot, also, if 
grace had not rescued him; if it is grace, it is obviously not 
awarded for any merit, but bestowed as a pure act of bounty. 

c But, 5 they object, 'it is unjust in one and the same case for 
this one to be saved and that one to be punished.' That 
means it is just for both to be punished. Would anyone deny 
this? Then let us give thanks to the Saviour when we see that 
we have not received what we recognize as our due from the 
damnation of our fellow men. If both were saved, then what 

5 Prov. 8.35 (Septuagint) . 

6 Acts 10.34; 2 Paral. 19.7; Rom. 2.11; Eph. 6.9; 1 Peter 1.17; Col. 3.25. 

7 Rom. 9.18. 



304 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

is justly due to sin would not be apparent; if no one were 
saved, we would not know the free gift of grace. Therefore, 
in this very difficult question, let us rather use the words of 
the Apostle: 'God, willing to show his wrath and to make 
his power known, endured with much patience vessels of 
wrath, fitted for destruction, that he might show the riches of 
his glory on the vessels of mercy.' And the thing formed 
cannot say to Him: 'Why hast thou made me thus? Since 
He has power of the same lump to make one vessel unto 
honor, another unto dishonor.' 8 For, when the whole lump 
of clay is justly doomed to destruction, justice awards it the 
dishonor it deserves, while grace bestows an undeserved honor, 
not for any privilege of merit, not through any inevitability 
of fate, not through any chance stroke of fortune, but through 
'the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge 
of God,' which the Apostle does not reveal to us, but marvels 
at as something hidden, crying out: C O the depth of the riches 
of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God ! How incompre- 
hensible are his judgments, how unsearchable his ways! For 
who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been 
his counsellor? or who hath first given to him and recompense 
shall be made him? For of him and by him and in him are 
all things: to him be glory forever!' 9 

But they do not wish the glory of justifying the sinful by 
His freely given grace to be given to Him, because, not 
knowing His justice, they seek to establish their own, 10 and 
even when influenced by the clamorous words of religious 
and godly men, they admit to receiving some divine help in 
attaining justice or performing its works, they claim some 
previous merit of their own, as if they were first willing to 
give that recompense might be made to them by Him of 

8 Rom. 9.22,23,20,21. 

9 Rom. 11.33-36. 
10 Roin. 10.3. 



LETTERS 305 

whom it is said: 'who hath first given to him and recom- 
pense shall be made him?' Thus they think their merits pre- 
cede His action of whom they hear, or, rather, refuse to hear 
that fi of him and by him and in him are all things.' From 
those riches which are the depth of His wisdom and His 
knowledge come also the riches of His glory toward the 
vessels of mercy whom He calls to adoption; these riches He 
also wills to make known even through the vessels of wrath 
which are fitted for destruction. And what are His ways 
which are unsearchable, if not those which are praised in the 
Psalm: 'All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth 5 ? 11 
His mercy, therefore, and His truth are unsearchable, because 
*He hath mercy on whom he will,' not through justice but 
the mercy of grace; and 'whom he will he hardeneth,' not 
through injustice but the truth of retribution. Nevertheless, 
mercy and truth meet so harmoniously, as it is written: 
'Mercy and truth have met each other,' 12 that mercy does 
not hinder truth when the one who deserves it is cast down, 
nor does truth hinder mercy when the one who does not 
deserve it is saved. What merits of his own has the saved to 
boast of, when, if he received his just deserts, he would be 
damned? But, have the just no merits at all? Certainly they 
have, since they are just; only, there were no previous merits 
to make them just. They became just when they were justified, 
but, as the Apostle says, 'They are justified freely by his 
grace.' 13 

Although these men are dangerous opponents of this grace, 
those who say that the grace of God is given according to our 
merit were anathematized by Pelagius at the ecclesiastical 
trial in Palestine otherwise, he could not have come off un- 
scathed. But no other statement is found in their subsequent 

11 Ps. 24.10. 

12 Ps. 84.11. 

13 Rom. 3.24. 



306 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

controversy except that merit regulates grace, of which the 
Epistle to the Romans speaks in such high terms and which 
was afterward preached throughout the world, coming down, 
so to speak, from the head of the world, It is grace that 
justifies the wicked, that is, he who was formerly wicked 
thereby becomes just. Therefore, the reception of this grace 
is not preceded by any merits because the wicked deserve 
punishment, not grace, and it would not be grace if it were 
awarded as something due and not freely given. 

But, when these men are asked what kind of grace Pelagius 
thought was given without any antecedent merits, since he 
anathematized those who say that the grace of God is given 
according to our merit, they answer that grace without any 
antecedent merit is the human nature in which we have been 
created, for, before we existed, it was not possible for us to 
merit existence. Let Christian hearts reject that fallacy. No, 
a thousand times no! The grace which is praised by the 
Apostle is not that by which we were created and became men, 
but that by which, being sinful men, we were made just. 
That grace is given by Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ did not 
die for some that they might be created, but for sinful men 
that they might be made just. It was a man, indeed, who 
said: 'Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from 
the body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our 
Lord. 514 

They can indeed say that the remission of sins is a grace 
which is given without any antecedent merit, for what good 
merits can sinners have? Yet, even that remission of sins is 
not without some merit, if faith asks and obtains it. There 
is some merit in faith, that faith which made the publican 
say : 'O Lord be merciful to me, a sinner. And he went down 
justified' 15 by the merit of humble faith, because 'he that 



14 Rom. 7.24,25. 

15 Luke 18.13,14. 



LETTERS 



307 



humbleth himself shall be exalted.' 16 It remains, then, that 
faith itself, from which all justice derives its origin and 
that is why these words of the Canticle of Canticles are 
addressed to the Church: 'Thou shalt come and shalt pass 
over from the beginning of faith' 17 it remains, I repeat, that 
faith itself is not to be attributed to the human free will 
which these men extol, nor to any antecedent merits, since 
any good merits, such as they are, come from faith; but we 
must confess it as a free gift of God, if we are thinking of 
true grace without merit, because we read in the same 
Epistle: c God hath divided to every one the measure of 
faith.' 18 It is true that good works are performed by man, 
but faith is imparted to man, and without it no good works 
are done by any man: 'For all that is not of faith is sin.' 19 
Therefore, the very act of prayer should not take credit to 
itself, even if help is granted to him who prays to overcome 
his covetousness of temporal things and to love eternal goods 
and God Himself, the source of all goods, for it is faith that 
prays, faith which is given to him who does not pray, for, if it 
were not given he could not pray. 'How then shall they call 
on him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they 
believe him of whom they have not heard and how shall they 
hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing and 
hearing by the word of Christ/ 20 Consequently, the 'minister 
of Christ, 5 the preacher of this grace, 'because of the grace 
which is given to him,' 21 is the one who plants and waters. 
Tor neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, 
but God that giveth the increase,' 22 'who divideth to every 
one the measure of faith.* Therefore, in another place he 

16 Luke 14.11; Matt. 23.12. 

17 Cant. 4.8 (Septuagint) . 

18 Rom. 12.3. 

19 Rom. 14.23. 

20 Rom. 10.14,17. 

21 Rom, 15.15,16. 

22 1 Cor. 3.7. 



308 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

says: Teace be to the brethren and charity with faith/ 
and that they may not attribute it to themselves he adds: 
'from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ/ 23 because 
not all those who hear the word have faith, but those to 
whom God allots the measure of faith, just as all seeds, 
which are planted and watered, do not sprout but those to 
which God gives the increase. The reason why one believes 
and another does not believe, although both hear the same 
thing, and, if a miracle is worked in their sight, both see the 
same thing, is hid in the depth of the riches of the wisdom 
and of the knowledge of God whose judgments are un- 
searchable, 24 and with whom there is no injustice, when 
He 'has mercy on whom He will and whom He will He hard- 
eneth,' 25 for His judgments are not unjust because their 
meaning is hidden. 

But then, unless the Holy Spirit dwells in the clean house 
after the remission of sins, does not the unclean spirit return 
with seven other spirits and will the last state of that man 
not be worse than the first? 26 And in order that the Holy 
Spirit may dwell there, does He not breathe where He will, 27 
and is not the charity of God, without which no one lives a 
good life, 'poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who 
is given to us 5 ? 28 This is the faith which the Apostle defined 
when he said: Tor neither circumcision availeth anything, 
nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity. 529 
And that is obviously the faith of Christians, not of demons. 
Tor the devils also believe and tremble/ 30 but do they love? 
If they had not believed, they would not have said: 'Thou 

23 Eph. 6,23, 

24 Cf. Rom. 11.33. 

25 Rom. 9.14,18. 

26 Matt. 12.43-45; Luke 11.24-26. 

27 John 3.8. 

28 Rom. 5.5. 

29 Gal. 5.6. 

30 James 2.19. 



LETTERS 

art the holy one of God' or 'Thou art the Son of God/ 31 but 
if they had loved, they would not have said : 'What have we 
to do with thee?' 32 

Faith, therefore, draws us to Christ, and if it were not 
given to us from above as a free gift, He Himself would not 
have said: c No man can come to me except the Father, 
who hath sent me, draw him. 533 And shortly after this He 
said: The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and 
life. But there are some of you that believe not. 5 And the 
Evangelist adds: Tor Jesus knew from the beginning who 
they were that believed and who it was that would betray 
him/ And lest anyone should think that His foreknowledge 
concerned believers in the same way as unbelievers, that is, 
not in the sense that faith itself was given them from above, 
but only that their will was foreseen, the Gospel at once 
added the words: 'And he said: Therefore did I say to you 
that no man can come to me unless it be given him by the 
Father. 534 This explains why some of those who heard Him 
speak of His flesh and His blood were scandalized and went 
away, 35 while some remained steadfast in their belief, because 
no man could come to Him unless it were given him by the 
Father, and consequently also by the Son Himself and by the 
Holy Spirit. There is no separation in the gifts and works of 
the inseparable Trinity; when the Son thus honors His Father 
He does not give us proof of any separation, but He does 
offer us a great example of humility. 

Here, again, if those defenders of free will, nay rather, 
those deceivers, because they are puffed up, and they are 
puffed up because they are presumptuous, were to speak, not 
against us but against the Gospel, what else would they say 

31 Luke 4.41,34; Mark 3,11,12. 

32 Matt. 8.29; Mark 5.7; Luke 8.28. 

33 John 6.44. 

34 John 6.64-66. 

35 John 6.53,61,62,67. 



310 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

but what the Apostle proposes as an objection to himself, as 
if it were said by such men: Thou sayest therefore to me: 
Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?' He 
put this objection to himself as if from another, in the very 
words of those who refuse to accept what he had said before : 
'He hath mercy on whom he will and whom he will he 
hardeneth.' Let us therefore say with the Apostle to such 
men for we cannot find anything better than that to say 
'O man, who art thou that repliest against God? 336 

What we seek to know is how this hardening is deserved, 
and we find it to be so because the whole clay of sin was 
damned. God does not harden by imparting malice to it, but 
by not imparting mercy. Those to whom He does not impart 
mercy are not worthy, nor do they deserve it; rather, they 
are worthy and do deserve that He should not Impart it. 
But when we seek to know how mercy is deserved we find 
no merit because there is none, lest grace be made void if it 
is not freely given but awarded to merit. 

If we say that faith goes before and that the merit of grace 
is in it, what merit does a man have before faith so as to 
receive faith? For, what has he that he has not received? 
And if he has received it, why does he glory as if he had not 
received it? 37 Just as a man would not have wisdom, under- 
standing, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of 
God unless, according to the Prophet's words, he had received 
'the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, of counsel and 
of fortitude, of knowledge and of godliness, and of fear of 
God/ 38 and just as he would not have power and love and 
sobriety, except by receiving the Spirit of whom the Apostle 
speaks: 'We have not received the spirit of fear but of power 
and of love and of sobriety/ 39 so also he would not have faith 

36 Rom. 9.19,18,20. 

37 Cf. 1 Cor. 4.7. 

38 Isa. 11 3,3. 

39 2 Tim. 1.7. 



LETTERS 311 

unless he received the spirit of faith of which the same 
Apostle says: 'But having the same spirit of faith, as it is 
written: I believed for which cause I have spoken, we also 
believe for which cause we speak also.' 40 Thus, he shows very 
plainly that faith is not received because of merit but by the 
mercy of Him who has mercy on whom He will, 41 when he 
says of himself: 'I have obtained mercy to be faithful. 542 

If we say that prayer produces antecedent merit so that 
the gift of grace may follow, it is true that prayer, by asking 
and obtaining whatever it does obtain, shows clearly that it 
is God's gift when a man does not think that he has grace 
of himself, because if it were in his own power, he would 
assuredly not ask for it. But, lest we should think that even 
the merit of prayer is antecedent to grace, in which case it 
would not be a free gift and then it would not be grace 
because it would be the reward which was due our very 
prayer itself is counted among the gifts of grace. As the 
Doctor of the Gentiles says: We know not what we should 
pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself asketh for us 
with unspeakable groanings.' 43 And what does 'asketh for 
us 5 mean but that He makes us ask? It is a very sure sign 
of one in need to ask with groaning, but it would be monstrous 
for us to think that the Holy Spirit is in need of anything. 
So, then, the word c ask j is used because He makes us ask, and 
inspires us with the sentiment of asking and groaning, accord- 
ing to that passage in the Gospel: Tor it is not you that 
speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.' 44 
However, this is not accomplished in us without any action 
on our part, and therefore the help of the Holy Spirit is 
described by saying that He does what He makes us do. 

40 2 Cor. 4.13; Ps. 115.10. 

41 Rom. 9.18. 

42 1 Cor. 7.25. 

43 Rom. 8.26; 1 Tim. 2.7. 

44 Matt. 10.20. 



312 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

The Apostle himself makes It quite clear that our spirit is 
not meant when he says it 'asketh with unspeakable groan- 
ings,' but the Holy Spirit by whom our infirmity is helped. 
He begins by saying: The Spirit helpeth our infirmity'; then 
he goes on; Tor we know not what we should pray for as 
we ought, 5 and the rest. 45 And indeed he speaks even more 
plainly of this Spirit in another place: Tor you have not 
received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have 
received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: 
Abba, Father. 346 Notice that he does not here say that the 
Spirit Himself cries in His prayer, but he says: 'whereby we 
cry: Abba, Father. 3 However, in another passage he says: 
'Because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son 
into your hearts, crying: Abba. Father.' 47 Here he does not 
say 'whereby we cry,' but he preferred to represent the Spirit 
Himself as crying, which has the effect of making us cry, as 
in the other two passages: The Spirit himself asketh with 
unspeakable groanings,' and The Spirit of your Father that 
speaketh in you. 5 

Therefore, as no one has true wisdom, true understanding; 
no one is truly eminent in counsel and fortitude; no one has 
a pious knowledge or a knowledgable piety; no one fears God 
with a chaste fear unless he has received 'the spirit of wisdom 
and understanding, of counsel and fortitude, of knowledge 
and piety and fear of God;' 48 and as no one has true power, 
sincere love, and religious sobriety except through 'the spirit 
of power and love and sobriety,' 49 so also without the spirit 
of faith no one will rightly believe, without the spirit of 
prayer no one will profitably pray; not that there are so many 
spirits, 'but all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, 



45 Rom. 8.26. 

46 Rom. 8.15. 

47 Gal. 4.6. 

48 Isa. 11.2,3. 

49 2 Tim. 1.7. 



LETTERS 313 

dividing to every one according as he will,' 50 because 'the 
Spirit breatheth where he will.' 51 But it must be admitted that 
His help is given differently before and after His indwelling, 
for before His indwelling He helps men to believe, but after 
His indwelling He helps them as believers. 

What merit, then, has man before grace which could 
make it possible for him to receive grace, when nothing but 
grace produces good merit in us; and what else but His gifts 
does God crown when He crowns our merits? For, just as in 
the beginning we obtained the mercy of faith, not because 
we were faithful but that we might become so, in like manner 
He will crown us at the end with eternal life, as it says, 'with 
mercy and compassion.' 52 Not in vain, therefore, do we sing 
to God: 'His mercy shall prevent me,' and His mercy shall 
follow me.' 53 Consequently, eternal life itself, which will cer- 
tainly be possessed at the end without end, is in a sense 
awarded to antecedent merits, yet, because the same merits 
for which it is awarded are not effected by us through our 
sufficiency, but are effected in us by grace, even this very 
grace is so called for no other reason than that it is given 
freely; not, indeed, that it is not given for merit, but because 
the merits themselves are given for which it is given. And 
when we find eternal life itself called grace, we have in the 
same Apostle Paul a magnificent defender of grace: 'The 
wages of sin,' he says, 'is death. But the grace of God life ever- 
lasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.' 54 

Notice, please, how concisely and how exactly he has 
chosen his words; a careful examination of them will throw 
some light on the obscurity of this question. After he had 
said: 'The wages of sin is death,' anyone would have agreed 

50 1 Cor. 12.11. 

51 John 3.8. 

52 Ps. 102.4. 

53 Ps. 58.11; 22.6. 

54 Rom. 6.23. 



3 14 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that he could have made a most consistent and logical con- 
clusion if he had said: 'But the wages of justice is eternal life/ 
And it is true, because eternal life is awarded as if it were 
the wages which justice deserves, just as death is the wages 
which sin deserves. Or if he had not said 'justice' he might 
have said 'faith/ since 'the just liveth by faith.' 55 Hence, the 
word 'pay 5 is also used in many passages of the holy Scriptures, 
but neither justice nor faith is ever called pay, because the 
pay is made to justice or faith. What pay is to the workman, 
that wages is to the soldier. 

But the blessed Apostle was speaking against pride, which 
is always trying to steal into great souls, when he said of 
himself on that account that an angel of Satan had been 
given to him by whom he was buffeted lest he should lift up 
his head in presumption; 56 and it was in his vigilant warfare 
against this bane of pride that he said: 'The wages of sin is 
death/ Rightly does he say 'wages/ because it is owed, because 
it is rendered according to a man's deserts. But after that he 
did not make the contrary statement: 'the wages of justice 
is eternal life 5 ; instead he said : 'the grace of God, life ever- 
lasting/ so that justice might not be based on human merit 
in the same way that sin is undoubtedly the cause of evil 
retribution. And in order that eternal life might not be sought 
in any other way than through the Mediator, he added; 'in 
Christ Jesus our Lord/ as if he were saying: 'Having heard 
that the wages of sin is death, why do you try to exalt your- 
self, O human justice, who are truly pride under the name 
justice? Why do you try to exalt yourself and demand eternal 
life, the opposite of death, as if it were due you as wages? 
That to which eternal life is owed is true justice, but if it is 
true justice, it does not originate in you, 'it is from above, 

55 Rom. 1.17; Gal. 3.11; Heb. 10.38; Hab. 2.4, 

56 2 Cor. 12.7. 



LETTERS 315 

coming down from the Father of lights.' 57 In order to have 
it, if you do have it, you must have received it, for 'what 
good hast thou that thou hast not received?' 58 Therefore, 
O man, if you are to receive eternal life, it is indeed the 
wages of justice, but for you it is a grace just as justice itself 
is a grace. It would be paid as something due to you if the 
justice to which it is due had its origin in you. But now, c of 
his fulness we have received,' not only the grace by which 
we now live uprightly and in labors unto the end, but also 
'grace for this grace/ 59 that afterward we may live in repose 
forever. Faith has no more salutary doctrines to believe than 
this because the understanding finds none more true, and 
we should hearken to the Prophet saying: e lf you will not 
believe, you shall not understand. 560 

The objector says to this: c But men who refuse to live 
uprightly and faithfully will excuse themselves by saying: 
'What wrong have we done by leading a bad life, since we 
did not receive grace to lead a good life?' They cannot 
possibly say with truth that they have done no wrong in 
living a bad life, for if they do no wrong they lead a good 
life; but if they lead a bad life the wrong is of their Own 
doing, either the original sin which they inherited or the sin 
they have added over and above. But, if they are 'vessels of 
wrath, fitted for destruction/ let them impute this to them- 
selves as something owed and paid to them, because they are 
made of the clay which God deservedly and justly condemned 
on account of the sin of one man, in whom all have sinned, 
but if they are Vessels of mercy/ fashioned of the same clay on 
which God did not will to inflict the punishment due, let 
them not be puffed up, but give the glory to Him who has 

57 James 1.17. 

58 1 Cor. 4.7. 

59 John 1.16. 

60 Isa. 7.9 (Septuagint) . 



316 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

shown them an undeserved mercy, 61 and, if they are 'otherwise 
minded, God himself will reveal this to them also/ 52 

After all, how will they excuse themselves? No doubt, in 
the manner briefly mentioned 63 by the Apostle when he 
raised an objection for himself in their supposed words: 'Why 
doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?' This is 
the same as saying: 'Why is fault found with us that we 
offend God by an evil life, since no one can resist His will, 
and He has hardened us by not giving us His grace? 5 If they 
are not ashamed to offer this excuse, not against us but 
against the Apostle, why should we tire of saying to them 
again and again what the Apostle said: 'Q man, who art 
thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to 
him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? or hath 
not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump,' justly 
and deservedly damned, c to make one vessel unto honor/ 
through the undeserved grace of mercy, 'another unto dis- 
honor,' which is due because of His just wrath, and 'that he 
might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of 
mercy/ by showing what is bestowed on them, while the 
vessels of wrath receive the punishment which is equally due 
to all? Let it be enough at present for the Christian still living 
by faith and not yet seeing that which is perfect, but knowing 
it in part, 64 to recognize or believe that God saves no one 
except by a freely given mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and condemns no one except by the most just truth through 
the same Lord Jesus Christ. Let him who is able search out 
His reason for saving or not saving this one or that, but let 
him also beware of the deep abyss of His judgments, 'Is there 



61 Rom. 9.22,23; 5.12. 

62 Cf. Phil. 3.15. 

63 Rom. 9.19-23. 

64 1 Cor. 13.9,10. 



LETTERS 317 

injustice with God? God forbid!' but 'His judgments are in- 
comprehensible and his ways are unsearchable.' 65 

In earlier ages it could at least be said with justice: 'They 
would not understand that they might do well,' 66 but the 
men of our time are worse; they have understood and have 
not obeyed, because, as it is written: *A stubborn slave will 
not be corrected by words, for if he understand he will not 
obey.' 67 And what makes him disobey but his own evil will? 
A heavier punishment is due him by divine justice: 6 And 
unto whomsoever more is given, of him more shall be re- 
quired.' 68 Indeed, the Scripture says they are inexcusable who 
know the truth and persist in ungodliness. The Apostle says: 
Tor the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all 
ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth 
of God in injustice; because that which is known of God is 
manifest in them, for God hath manifested it unto them. For 
the invisible things of him from the creation of the world 
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are 
made; his eternal power also and divinity, so that they are 
inexcusable.' 69 

If, then, he calls those inexcusable who were able to see 
and understand the invisible things of Him by the things 
that are made, yet did not obey the truth but persisted in 
their wickedness and ungodliness for they did know, but, 
he says, 'knowing God they have not glorified him as God 
or given thanks,' 70 how much more inexcusable are those 
who are confident that they are leaders of the blind, who 
teach others and do not teach themselves, who preach that 
men should not steal, yet they themselves steal,' 71 and the 

65 Rom. 9.14; 11.33. 

66 Ps. 35.4. 

67 Prov. 29.19 (Septuagint) . 

68 Cf. Luke 12.47,48. 

69 Rom. 1.18-20. 

70 Rom. 1.21. 

71 Cf. Rom. 2.18,19,21. 



318 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

other things which the Apostle says of them! That is why 
he says to them: 'Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, 
whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest 
another thou condemnest thyself; for thou doest the same 
things which thou judgest.' 72 

The Lord Himself also says in the Gospel: 'If I had not 
come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now 
they have no excuse for their sin.' 73 Surely He does not mean 
that they have no sin, when they are full of many great sins, 
but He wishes us to know that, if He had not come, they 
would not have had this sin of having heard Him and not 
having believed in Him. He protests that they lack the excuse 
which would let them say: 'We have not heard, therefore 
we have not believed. 9 Human pride, presuming on the 
strength of free will, thinks it is excused when its sin seems 
to come from ignorance, not from a deliberate choice. 

Referring to this excuse, divine Scripture says those are 
inexcusable who are proved to sin knowingly. Nevertheless, 
the just judgment of God does not spare those either who 
have not heard: Tor whosoever have sinned without the law, 
shall perish without the law.' 74 And although they think they 
have an excuse, God does not accept this excuse, because He 
knows that He made man right 75 and gave him a com- 
mandment to obey, and that this sin, which passed upon his 
descendants, came from his having made a bad use of his free 
will. And we cannot say that those who have not sinned are 
damned, since that first sin passed upon all from one, in 
whom all sinned together before they committed any separate 
sins of their own. Thus, every sinner is inexcusable by reason 
either of the original guilt or of the added sin of his own will, 
and this is true whether he knows or not, whether he judges 

72 Rom. 2.1. 

73 John 15.22. 

74 Rom. 2.12. 

75 Eccle. 7.30. 



LETTERS 319 

or not, because that ignorance in those who refused to know 
is assuredly a sin; even in those who were unable to know 
it is the penalty of sin. Therefore, in either case there is no 
just excuse, but there is a just condemnation. 

The reason why holy Scripture says that those are in- 
excusable who sin, not in ignorance but knowingly, is because 
they now have no excuse for their ignorance, and there is no 
longer any justice on which the self-sufficiency of their will 
can presume, and these words are to make them see that they 
are inexcusable even by the verdict of their own pride, which 
makes them rely heavily on the strength of their own will. 
But he to whom the Lord granted the grace of knowing and 
obeying said: 'By the law is the knowledge of sin,' 76 and 
'I did not know sin but by the law, for I had not known 
concupiscence if the law did not say: Thou shalt not covet.' 77 
He does not mean the man ignorant of the Law which com- 
mands but the one in need of the grace which redeems when 
he says: C I am delighted with the law of God according to 
the inward man, 5 and also when he speaks later on not only 
of this knowledge but also of delight in the Law, saying: 
'Unhappy man that I am who shall deliver me from the 
body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our 
Lord/ 78 Therefore, man is delivered from the wounds of that 
murder by the grace of the Saviour alone, and those sold into 
sin are delivered from the bonds of captivity by the grace 
of the Redeemer alone. 

For this reason, a most just punishment falls on those who 
try to make excuses for their sins and wickedness, whereas 
grace alone delivers those who are delivered. If their excuse 
were valid, it would not be grace but justice that redeemed 
them. But, since only grace redeems man, it finds nothing just 

76 Rom. 3.20. 

77 Rom. 7.7; Exocl. 20.17; Deut. 5.21; 17.25. 

78 Rom. 7.22,24,25. 



320 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

in him whom it redeems, neither will, nor act, nor, least of 
all, that excuse, for if it were a just excuse the one using it 
would not truly be redeemed by grace. We know that the 
grace of Christ does redeem some of those who say: 'Why 
doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?' 79 If this 
excuse is valid, men are no longer redeemed by a freely given 
grace, but through the validity of their excuse. But, if it is 
grace that redeems, doubtless this excuse is not valid, for it 
is truly grace that redeems man if it is not awarded him as 
something owed in justice. Therefore, in those who say: 'Why 
doth he find fault? for who resisteth his will?' nothing is 
effected but what is expressed by the Book of Solomon: 
The folly of a man supplanteth his steps; he fretteth in his 
mind against God.' 80 

Thus, although God makes Vessels of wrath fitted for 
destruction, 5 that He may show His wrath and make known 
His power, which He exercises even over the wicked, 'that 
he may show the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy/ 
which He makes unto honor, not as something due to their 
condemned clay, but as granted by the bounty of His grace, 
nevertheless, in those same vessels of wrath made unto a 
dishonor due to their clay, 81 that is, in men created for 
natural goods, but doomed for their sins to punishment, He 
knows that He is condemning injustice which truth rightly 
rejects; He does not commit it. Human nature as coming 
from His will is unquestionably worthy of praise; sin, as 
coming from man's will, is an object of reprobation to all. 
This will of man either transmitted a hereditary taint to the 
descendants whom he had within him when he sinned, or 
each one acquired other guilt by living sinfully within him- 
self. But, neither from that sin which is derived from man's 

79 Rom. 9.19. 

80 Prov. 18.22 (Septuagint) ; cf. 19-3 (Vulgate) . 

81 Rom. 9.21-23. 



LETTERS 



321 



origin, nor from those which each one accumulates as his 
own, either by not understanding, or by not wishing to under- 
stand their evil, or even by increasing them through his 
instruction in the law by an added act of malice, is anyone 
redeemed or justified except by 'the grace of God by Jesus 
Christ our Lord.' 82 This is effected not only by the remission 
of sins, but first by the inspiration of faith itself and of the 
fear of God, when His love has been graciously imparted to 
us by the operation of prayer, until He heals all our diseases 
and redeems our life from destruction and crowns us with 
mercy and compassion. 83 

But, for those who think that God becomes a respecter of 
persons 84 if, for one and the same reason, His mercy comes 
upon some while His wrath remains on others, all the force 
of human reasoning comes to naught in the case of infants. 
I pass over for the present the fact that infants, however 
lately come from their mother's womb, are not alone in 
being subject to the penalty of which the Apostle says: By 
the offense of one unto all men to condemnation,' from 
which there is no deliverance except through the One alone 
of whom the same Apostle says: 'By the justice of one unto 
all men to justification of life.' 85 I repeat, I shall pass over 
this for the present and I shall say of infants only what they 
themselves concede without any objection, terrified as they 
are by the authority of the Gospel, or, rather, overawed by 
the perfect agreement in that belief of Christian peoples, 
namely, that no infant enters the kingdom of heaven unless 
it is born again of water and the Holy Spirit. 86 I ask, then, 
what reason they will offer why one is so treated as to go 
out of life after baptism while another is given over to the 

82 Rom. 7.25. 

83 Ps. 102.3,4. 

84 Acts 10.34. 

85 Rom. 5.18. 

86 John 3.5. 



322 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

hands of unbelievers or even of believers and dies before it is 
brought by them to be baptized? Will they attribute it to fate 
or chance? I do not think they will rush into such madness, 
if they have even a slight desire of retaining the name of 
Christian. 

Why, then, will no infant enter into the kingdom of 
heaven without receiving the 'laver of regeneration'? 87 Surely, 
it did not chose to be born of unbelieving or careless parents? 
What is to be said of the innumerable unexpected and sudden 
deaths by which children of pious Christians are often carried 
off and prevented from being baptized, while on the other 
hand children of wicked parents, enemies of Christ, come 
somehow into Christian hands and do not leave this life 
without the sacrament of regeneration? What answer will they 
make to this, those who claim that some human merit pre- 
cedes in order that grace may be given, lest God be a 
respecter of persons? What merits have preceded in this case? 
If you take these same infants, there are no merits of theirs; 
the same doomed clay is common to both. If you look at their 
parents, those whose children have died sudden deaths with- 
out the baptism of Christ were good; those whose children 
received the sacraments of the Church through some Christian 
influence are bad- Yet, the providence of God, by which 
the hairs of our head are numbered, without whose will not 
a sparrow falls to the ground, 88 which is neither constrained 
by fate, nor restrained by chance happenings, nor frustrated 
by any injustice, does not provide rebirth to a heavenly in- 
heritance for all the children of His sons, yet does provide 
it for some children of evil men. One child born of faithful 
wedlock, received with joy by its parents, but suffocated in 
sleep by mother or nurse, becomes an outcast with no share 
in its parents' faith; the other, born in shame and sacrilege, 

87 Titus 3.5. 

88 Matt. 10.29,30. 



LETTERS 323 

abandoned by the cruel fear of its mother, but rescued by 
the compassionate charity of strangers and baptized through 
Christian care, becomes a partaker and sharer in the eternal 
kingdom. Let them think of these things, let them examine 
into them, and then let them dare to say that God is a respecter 
of persons, or that He bestows His grace as a reward for 
antecedent merits. 

Even if they try to seek out some form of deserving, either 
good or bad, on the part of those of mature age, what will 
they say of these two cases of infants of whom one could 
not, by any evil deeds of his own, draw on himself the violent 
death of suffocation, nor the other, by any good deeds, deserve 
the care of his baptizer? They are men of excessive vanity and 
blindness if, after examining these facts, they still refuse to 
cry out with us: C O the depth of the riches of the wisdom 
and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are 
his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!' 89 They will 
not thereby frustrate the freely given mercy of God by their 
obstinate madness. Let them permit the 'Son of man to seek 
and to save that which was lost,' 90 but let them not dare to 
judge why, in His incomprehensible judgments, His mercy 
comes upon one, and in one and the same case His wrath 
remains on the other. 

Who are these that reply to God, when He says to Rebecca, 
who had twin sons of one conception of Isaac our father, 
'when the children were not yet born nor had done any good 
or evil (that the purpose of God according to election might 
stand)' the election, namely, of grace not of merit, the 
election by which He does not find but makes elect 'that it 
was not of works but of him that calleth, that the elder should 
serve the younger 7 ? 91 To this sentence the blessed Apostle adds 

89 Rom. 11.33. 

90 Matt. 18.11; Luke 19.10. 

91 Rom. 9.10-12. 



3 24 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the testimony of a Prophet who came long afterward: 'Jacob 
I have loved, but Esau I have hated/ 92 to give us to under- 
stand plainly by the latter utterance what was hidden in the 
predestination of God by grace before they were born. For 
what did He love but the free gift of His mercy in Jacob, 
who had done nothing good before his birth? And what did 
He hate but original sin in Esau, who had done nothing evil 
before his birth? Surely, He would not have loved in the 
former a goodness which he had not practised, nor would 
He have hated in the latter a nature which He himself had 
created good. 

It is strange, when they are entangled in such straits, to 
see into what an abyss they hurl themselves through fear of 
the nets of truth. The reason,' say they, 'why He did not yet 
hate one of the children and love the other was because He 
foresaw their future deeds/ Who would not be surprised that 
this very subtle reasoning escaped the Apostle? Of course he 
did not see this, when he did not make this answer, so brief, 
so plain, and, as they think, so true and absolute, to the 
hypothetical question made him by an objector. For, when he 
had set forth the amazing fact how, of children not yet born, 
not having done any good or evil, it could rightly be said that 
God loved the one and hated the other, he makes an objection 
expressing the feeling of his hearer: 'What shall we say then? 
Is there injustice with God? God forbid!' 93 this would have 
been the place for him to say what these men say: c God 
foresaw their future deeds when He said that the elder should 
serve the younger.' But the Apostle does not say this; rather, 
he wishes what he says to redound to the praise of the grace 
and glory of God, that no one may dare to glory in the merits 
of his own acts. For, when he had said : 'God forbid that there 
should be injustice with God,' as if we had said to him: 

92 Mai. 1.2,3. 

93 Rom. 9.14. 



LETTERS 325 

'How do you prove this when you state that it is not of works 
but of Him that calleth that the elder shall serve the younger?' 
he goes on to say : Tor he saith to Moses : I will have mercy 
on whom I will have mercy, and I will show mercy to whom 
I will show mercy. So then it is not of him that willeth nor 
of him that runneth but of God that showeth mercy.' 94 
Where, now, are the merits, where the works, either past or 
future, as if they had been or were to be performed by the 
strength of free will? Did the Apostle not make this plain 
statement in praise of free grace, that is, true grace? 'Hath 
not God made foolish the wisdom' 95 of heretics? 

But what was the issue that made the Apostle say this, 
that made him cite the example of the twins? What point 
was he trying to make? What did he wish to drive home? 
Doubtless, this, which the madness of heretics attacks, which 
the proud do not accept, which they do not wish to under- 
stand: who, c not knowing the justice of God and seeking to 
establish their own, have not subjected themselves to the 
justice of God.' 96 Clearly, the Apostle was treating of that 
very grace, and that is why he commended the children of 
promise. What God promises no one but God performs; 
and while there is some reason and truth in saying that man 
promises and God performs, it is a reprobate sentiment of 
impious pride for a man to say that he performs what God 
has promised. 

Therefore, by commending the children of promise, he 
showed the first prefiguring of this in Isaac, the son of 
Abraham. The action of God appears much more plainly in 
him who was not begotten in the ordinary course of nature, 
but in a womb that was sterile and worn out by age, that it 
might be a sign of a divine, not a human activity, among 

94 Rom. 9.15,16. 

95 1 Cor. 1.20. 

96 Rom. 10.3. 



326 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the sons of God whose coming was foretold. In Isaac/ he 
says, 'shall thy seed be called, that is to say, not they that 
are the children of the flesh are the children of God, but 
they that are the children of the promise are accounted for 
the seed. For this is the word of promise: According to this 
time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only 
she, 3 he says, c but Rebecca also had conceived at once of 
Isaac our father. 597 What significance was there in his adding 
'at one conception/ except that Jacob was not to boast of 
his own merits nor of those of other parents, much less of his 
own father, as if his will had somehow been changed for 
the better, saying that he was loved by the Creator because, 
when his father begot him, he was rewarded for his superior 
conduct? He says 'of one conception'; consequently, there 
was one merit of their father in begetting them, one merit of 
their mother in conceiving them, because, although their 
mother carried them shut up in her womb until she brought 
them forth, and perhaps varied in her will and affection, she 
certainly did not vary for one but for both whom she carried 
equally in her womb. 

We must, then, look into the meaning of the Apostle and 
note how, in his zeal for extolling grace, he does not want 
him of whom it was said 'Jacob I have loved' to glory except 
in the Lord; and, although they were of the same father, the 
same mother, the same conception, before they had done 
anything good or evil God loved the one and hated the 
other, so that Jacob might understand that he was of the 
same clay of original sin as his brother, with whom he shared 
a common origin, and thus he sees that he is distinguished 
from him by grace alone. Tor when the children were not 
yet bora, he says, c nor had done any good or evil (that the 
purpose of God according to election might stand), not of 

97 Rom. 9.7-10. 



LETTERS 327 

works but of him that calleth it was said to her: The elder 
shall serve the younger. 598 

In another passage, the same Apostle shows most plainly 
that the election of grace is effected without any antecedent 
merits, when he says : 'Even so, then, at this present time also, 
there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. 
But if by grace it is not now by works, otherwise grace is 
no more grace.' 99 And applying thereupon the testimony of 
the Prophet to this grace, he says: 'Jacob I have loved but 
Esau I have hated,' and goes on to say: 'What shall we say 
then? is there injustice with God? God forbid !' But why 'God 
forbid'? Was it because He foresaw the future deeds of the 
twins? God forbid this even more! Tor he saith to Moses: I 
will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will 
show mercy to whom I will show mercy. So then it is not of 
him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that 
showeth mercy.' 100 So also in the case of the vessels which 
are fitted for destruction, a consequence of their doomed 
clay, let the vessels made of the same clay unto honor re- 
cognize what the divine mercy has bestowed on them. For 
he says: 'The Scripture saith to Pharao: And therefore have 
I raised thee that I may show my power in thee and my 
name may be spoken of throughout all the earth.' Finally, 
he concludes both passages with the words: 'Therefore he 
has mercy on whom he will and whom he will he 
hardeneth. 3101 

But let the self-conceit of the proud unbeliever or the 
excuse of the object of final punishment say: 'Why then 
doth he find fault? for who resisteth his will?' Let him say it 
and hear in reply what man deserves : 'O man, who art thou 
that repliest against God?' and the remaining words on which 

98 Rom. 9.11,12. 

99 Rom. 11.5,6. 

100 Rom. 9.1348. 

101 Exod. 9.16; 33.19. 



328 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

I have commented long enough and often enough, to the 
best of my ability. Let him hear this and not despise it. If 
he does despise it, let him find himself hardened so that he 
may despise it; if he does not despise it, let him believe 
himself helped that he may not despise it; but the hardening 
is his due, the help is a free gift. 

Since we have now shown what blindness it is for anyone 
to say, in the case of the twin sons of the patriarch Jacob, 
that God foresaw their future deeds because they lived and 
grew old, and therefore He loved Jacob but hated Esau, it is 
even more impossible for anyone to say the same in the case 
of infants who are destined to die, namely, that God foresees 
their future deeds, therefore He does not provide that one 
should receive baptism, but does provide that the other 
should; for how can anyone speak of future deeds for those 
who will have none? 

'But/ they say, 'in the case of those whom He takes away, 
God foresees how each one would have lived if he had lived, 
and therefore He causes one to die without baptism, thus 
punishing in him, not the evil deeds he did, but those he 
would have done/ Now, if evil deeds which have not been 
committed are punished by divine decree, let these objectors 
observe how illusory is their promise that infants who die 
without baptism will not suffer damnation, if the reason why 
they lack baptism is the evil life they would have lived if 
they had lived, and if even probable evil deeds are subject 
to damnation. In the second place, if provision is made for 
the reception of baptism on the part of those of whom God 
knows that they would have lived a good life if they had 
lived, why are not all maintained in a life which they are 
likely to adorn with their good works? And why do some of 
those who are baptized live long and wickedly and eventually 
come to apostasy? Why, since He certainly knew that they 
were going to sin, did He not expel that very first pair of 



LETTERS 329 

sinners from paradise before they could commit there an act 
so unworthy of that holy place that is, if it is just to punish 
sins not yet committed? Again, what benefit is it to the one 
who 'is taken away lest wickedness should alter his under- 
standing or deceit beguile his soul?' 102 if it is just to punish 
acts which he has not committed, but which he might have 
committed by living longer? Finally, why is provision not 
made for the one who would have lived a bad life, if he had 
lived, to receive the laver of regeneration 103 before his im- 
minent death, so that the sins he was going to commit may 
be forgiven in baptism? Is anyone so irrational as to deny that 
these sins can be forgiven by baptism if he says that they can 
be punished without baptism? 

In our debate against those who try, even though refuted 
at every point, to present God as the avenger of uncommitted 
sins, we run the risk of being thought to imagine such things 
about them, whereas they are not to be supposed so stupid 
as either to believe or to try to make others believe them. 
If I had not heard them say these things, I should not have 
thought them worthy of rebuttal. Confronted by the authority 
of divine writings as well as by the rite of baptism, handed 
down from antiquity and firmly adhered to in the Church, 
in which it is plainly shown that infants are freed from the 
power of the Devil both by the exorcism and by the re- 
nunciation pronounced for them by the sponsors who carry 
them, and not finding any way out of their dilemma, these 
heretics plunge headlong into fatuity because they will not 
change their opinion. 

Doubtless, some imagine they have a clever rebuttal when 
they say: 'How does the sin of faithful parents pass to their 
children when we are sure this sin of the parents was forgiven 
in their baptism? 5 as if carnal birth cannot have what spiritual 

102 Wisd. 4.11. 

103 Titus 3.5. 



330 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

rebirth alone takes away. Or does it happen in baptism that 
the weakness of concupiscence in the flesh is immediately 
healed as its guilt is immediately removed? This is the effect 
of the grace of rebirth, not a condition of birth. Anyone 
born of this concupiscence, even of a regenerated parent, will 
undoubtedly suffer its effects unless he is likewise regenerated. 
But, however great the difficulty in this question, it does not 
prevent the workers in the field of Christ from baptizing 
infants unto the remission of sins whether they are born of 
unbelievers or of believers, just as it is no obstacle to farmers 
engaged in grafting wild olives upon olive trees not to know 
whether the grafts originated from wild olives or from olive 
trees. If you put this question to a country man why nothing 
but a wild olive will grow from the seed of either species, 
although there is a difference between olive and wild olive 
he may not be able to answer the question, but he does not 
for that give up his work of grafting; otherwise, if he thought 
that seedlings springing up from the seed of the olive were 
olives, the sloth due to his mistake would make the whole 
field run wild with unproductive sterility. 104 

As to that theory they think up when overpowered by the 
weight of truth, that 'the Lord is faithful in his words/ 105 
and therefore His Church does not act hypocritically when 
it baptizes children for the remission of sin, but that what is 
done is effected through faith for, certainly, what is pro- 
nounced is effected what Christian would not laugh at 
them, however subtle this trumped-up doctrine appears, when 
the very manifest body of truth is weighted against them? 
They say that infants truly answer by the lips of their sponsors 
that they believe in the remission of sins, not because their 
own sins are remitted but because they believe there is 
remission in the Church or in baptism for those in whom sin 

104 Cf. Rom. 11.24. 

105 Ps. 144,13. 



LETTERS 331 

is found, but not for those who have no sins. Consequently, 
they do not want them baptized for the remission of sins, as 
if such remission took place in them whom they claim to 
be without sin, but they say that, when they are baptized, 
even though sinless, by that baptism the effect is a remission 
of sin in those who are sinners. 

It is possible that, with more time, this crafty subtlety 
could be refuted with more detail and greater penetration. 
But that cleverness of theirs does not find an answer to the 
fact that infants are exorcized and breathed upon in baptism. 
Undoubtedly, this is an illusory practice if the Devil has no 
power over them, but, if he has power over them, and if the 
exorcism and breathing are not illusory, where does he get 
his power if not through the primal sin of all sinners? Hence, 
if they now blush and shrink from saying that these ceremonies 
in the Church are spurious, let them confess that even among 
infants Christ came to seek that which was lost. For, that 
which was lost by sin alone cannot be sought, cannot be 
found, but by grace alone. But, thank God, when they argue 
against the remission of sins, lest anyone should believe that 
it is effected in children, now at least they admit that children 
profess their belief in it through the lips of their elders. 
Therefore, as they hear the Lord saying: 'Unless a man be 
born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter 
into the kingdom of heaven/ 106 and thereupon admit that 
children should be baptized, let them hear the same Lord 
saying: 'He that believeth not shall be condemned,' 107 since 
they admit that children are reborn through the ministry of 
the taptizer, just as they profess their faith through the 
hearts and lips of their sponsors. Let them, then, dare to say 
that the innocent are condemned by a just God if they are 
bound by no fetters of original sin. 

106 John 3.5. 

107 Mark 16.16. 



332 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

If this treatise is a long and burdensome one in the midst 
of your busy life, grant me your pardon because I was induced 
by your own letter to write this to you, and the kindness you 
there expressed made me want to have this conference with 
you. Indeed, it has been a forcible interruption of my own 
cares. If you hear that they have thought up other attacks 
on the Catholic faith, and if you develop any arguments 
against them, lest they lay waste the weak members of the 
Lord's flock, in your faithful and truly pastoral charity share 
them with us. Thus our own effort is roused from slothful sleep 
by the restlessness of heretics, forcing us to examine the 
Scriptures more carefully, lest they use them to harni the 
flock of Christ. And so, by the manifold grace of the Saviour, 
God turns to our help what the enemy plots for our destruc- 
tion, because 'to them that love God all things work together 
unto good.' 108 



195. Jerome to the saintly lord and blessed father, 1 Augustine 

(c. 418) 

I have always revered your Blessedness with the respect 
which befits you and I have loved the Lord our Saviour 
dwelling in you, but now we add something to the heap, and, 
if that is possible, we fill up what was full, so as not to allow 
one single hour to pass without mention of your name; 
because the ardor of your faith has stood firm against the 
blasts of the wind, and you have chosen, in so far as it rests 
with you, to be delivered from Sodom rather than to remain 
there with the doomed. 2 Your Prudence knows what I mean. 

108 Rom. 8.28. 

1 He uses the word papa, 'pope.' 

2 Gen. 19.14. 



LETTERS 333 

Bravo to your valor! Your fame is world- wide; Catholics 
revere you and accept you as the second founder of the 
ancient faith, and which is a mark of greater fame all the 
heretics hate you, and pursue me, too, with equal hatred; 
they plan our death by desire if they cannot achieve it by 
the sword. May the mercy of Christ our Lord keep you safe 
and mindful of me, revered lord, most saintly father. 



196. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to his saintly 
brother and fellow bishop, Asellicus 1 (End of 418) 

The letter which your Holiness sent to our venerable 
senior, Donatian, 2 containing a discussion of the necessity 
of avoiding Jewish practices, has been forwarded by him to 
me, with the urgent request, or command, that I answer it. 
Not wishing to show him disrespect, I am answering it as 
best I can, with the Lord's help, in the belief that by writing 
to you I am giving pleasure to your Charity, also; besides, 
I could not refuse to comply with the request of one whom 
we both esteem for his good qualities. 

The Apostle Paul teaches that Christians who have been 
Gentiles should not have to practice the Jewish law, when he 
says: C I said to Peter before them all: If thou being a Jew 
livest after the manner of the Gentiles and not as the Jews 
do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?' 
and he added at once: We by nature are Jews and not of 
the Gentiles, sinners. But knowing that man is not justified 
by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we 
also believe in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by the 

1 Probably an African bishop. 

2 Bishop of Byzacena, found in the list of bishops who signed the 
report of the Council of Carthage; cf. Letter 175. 



334 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by 
the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.' 3 

Not only are those works of the Law which are found in 
the ancient observance no longer practiced by Christians 
since the revelation of the New Testament, such as circum- 
cision, the Sabbath rest from worldly activity, abstinence 
from certain foods, the offering of animals in sacrifice, new 
moons, unleavened bread, and other such customs, but even 
the commandment which is found in the Law, Thou shall 
not covet,' 4 which no one doubts is addressed to Christians, 
too, does not justify a man except by the faith of Jesus Christ 
and 'the grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord.' 5 The same 
Apostle likewise says: 'What shall we say then? Is the law sin? 
God forbid ! But I did not know sin but by the law, for I 
had not yet known concupiscence if the law did not say: 
Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the com- 
mandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For 
without the law sin was dead. And I lived some time without 
the law, but when the commandment came sin revived. And 
I died and the commandment that was ordained to life was 
found to be unto death to me. For sin, taking occasion by the 
commandment, seduced me and by it killed me. Wherefore 
the law indeed is holy and the commandment holy and just 
and good. Was that then which is good made death unto me? 
God forbid ! But sin, that it may appear sin, by that which is 
good, wrought death in me; that sin by the commandment 
might become sinful above measure. For we know that the 
law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that 
which I work I understand not, for I do not that good 
which I will, but the evil which I hate, that I do. If then 
I do that which I will not, I consent to the law that is good.' 6 

3 Gal. 2.14-16; Rom. 3.20. 

4 Exocl. 20.17; Deut. 5.21; 7.25; Rom. 7.7. 

5 Rom. 7.25. 

6 Rom. 7.7-16. 



LETTERS 335 

We see, therefore, from these words of the Apostle, that 
not only is the Law not sin, but that it is even holy, and that 
the commandment which says 'Thou shalt not covet' is holy 
and just and good. But sin seduces under the appearance of 
good and thus kills those who think, even though they are 
carnal, that they can fulfill the spiritual Law by their own 
strength. Thus, they become not only sinners, which they 
would be even if they had not received the Law, but also 
transgressors, which they would not be if they had not 
received the Law. So the Apostle says in another passage: 
'Where there is no law, neither is there transgression,' 7 and 
elsewhere he testifies that c the law entered in that sin might 
abound, and where sin abounded grace did more abound.' 8 

This, then, is the useful function of the law, that it shows 
man to himself, that he may know his own wickedness and see 
how his carnal concupiscence is increased rather than healed 
by prohibition. Forbidden things are more eagerly sought 
after when carnal nature is forced to practice what is spirit- 
ually commanded. 9 Man must be spiritual to observe a 
spiritual law; he does not become so by the law but by grace, 
that is, not by a commandment but by a free gift, not by the 
impulsion of the letter but by the impulse of the Spirit. Now, 
a man begins to be renewed in the inward man according 
to grace, provided he carries out what he loves in his mind 
and does not consent to the urging of the flesh which he 
hates; this does not mean that he has no evil desires at all, 
but that he does not go after his lusts. 10 This, however, is 
so great a thing that, if it were perfectly accomplished, and 
if we yielded no assent to any of the enticements of sin, 
although they are still present in us as long as we are in 

7 Rom. 4.15. 

8 Rom. 5.20. 

9 2 Cor. 4.16. 
10 Eccli. 18.30. 



336 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

'the body of this death/ 11 there would be no occasion for us 
to say to our Father who is in heaven: 'Forgive us our 
debts. 312 Yet we should not for that be such now as we shall 
be when 'this mortal hath put on immortality/ 13 for then 
not only shall we not obey any enticement of sin 3 but there 
will be no such enticements of the kind we are commanded 
not to obey. 

So, then, when the Apostle says: 'It is no more I that do 
it but sin that dwelleth in me/ 14 he is speaking of the lust of 
the flesh which stirs its impulses in us even when we do not 
obey them, so long as sin does not reign in our mortal body 
to obey its lusts, and we do not yield our members as instru- 
ments of iniquity unto sin. 15 By progressing constantly in that 
justice which is not yet perfected we shall eventually come to 
its perfection where the lust of sin does not have to be 
curbed and bridled, for it does not then exist at all The 
Law lays down this obligation in the words: Thou shalt 
not covet/ 16 not that we are able to do this, but that we should 
strive for it. And this is accomplished not by the law which 
imposes, but by the faith which implores; not by the letter 
through which the commandment is given, but by the Spirit 
through which help is given; not, therefore, by the merits 
of man's striving, but by the grace of the Saviour's bestowing. 
The value of the Law is that it shows a man his own weakness 
and forces him to beg for the remedy of grace which is in 
Christ. Tor whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord 
shall be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom 
they have not believed? or how shall they believe him of whom 
they have not heard? 5 Therefore he adds a little further on: 

11 Rom. 724, 

12 Matt. 6.9,12; Luke 11.4. 

13 1 Cor. 15,54. 

14 Rom. 7.17. 

15 Rom. 6.12,13. 

16 Exod. 20.17; Deut. 5.21; Rom. 7.7. 



LETTERS 337 

'Faith then cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of 
Christ. 517 

From this it is clear that the Apostle is speaking of those 
who rejoice in being Israelites according to the flesh, and 
who glory in the Law more than in the grace of Christ, 
when he says that 'not knowing the justice of God and seek- 
ing to establish their own, they have not submitted them- 
selves to the justice of God.' 18 Notice that he says 'the justice 
of God,' which comes to man from God, and 'their own,' 
by which they think they have strength in themselves to fulfill 
the commandments without the help and gift of Him who 
gave the Law. There are some like these who indeed profess 
to be Christians, but are so hostile to the very grace of Christ 
that they think they can fulfill the divine commandments by 
their own human strength, and thus they, too, 'not knowing 
the justice of God and seeking to establish their own, have 
not submitted themselves to the justice of God.' These are 
not Jews in name, but they become so by their error. This 
group of men have "found leaders for themselves in Pelagius 
and Caelestius, passionate preachers of this impiety, who have 
recently been deprived of communion with the Catholic 
Church by the judgment of God through His careful and 
faithful servants, 19 and who still persist with impenitent 
heart in their own damnation. 

Whoever seeks to be a stranger to that carnal and animal 
Judaism which is justly repudiated and condemned must first 
consider as alien to himself those ancient observances which 
have clearly ceased to be necessary now that the New Testa- 
ment has been revealed, and the things which were prefigured 
by those others have come to pass, and he is not to be judged 
'in meat or in drink or in respect of a festival day, or of 

17 Rom. 10.13,14,17; Joel 2.32; Acts 2.21. 

18 Rom. 10.3. 

19 They were excommunicated by Pope Innocent I in 417. 



338 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the new moon, or of the sabbaths, which are a shadow of 
things to come/ 20 On the other hand, he must receive, em- 
brace, and observe, without any reserve, those commandments 
in the Law which help to form the character of the faithful, 
such as that 'denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we 
should live soberly and justly and godly in this world,' 21 and 
this one: Thou shalt not covet,' chosen by the Apostle as the 
part of the Law worthy of the greatest commendation; and 
the commandments about loving God and our neighbor, 
as set forth in the Law without any figure or mystery on 
which two commandments the Lord Christ Himself said the 
whole Law depends 22 but whatever progress he makes in 
them he must not attribute it to himself but to e the grace of 
God by Jesus Christ our Lord.' 

However, when anyone has become by that means a true 
and full-fledged Christian, the question may reasonably be 
asked whether he is also to be called a Jew or an Israelite. 
This term is understood, of course, in a spiritual, not a carnal, 
sense; even so, he should not give himself this name in ordi- 
nary conversation though he may retain it in his spiritual 
consciousness because daily speech does not distinguish this 
twofold meaning and he might seem to take credit for 
something inimical to the name of Christian. The same 
blessed Apostle solves and settles this question for us whether 
one who is a Christian can also be considered a Jew or an 
Israelite when he says: 'Circumcision profiteth indeed if 
thou keep the law; but if thou be a transgressor of the law, 
thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. If then the uncir- 
cumcised keep the justices of the law, shall not his uncir- 
cumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not that 
which by nature is uncircumcision, if it fulfil the law, judge 

20 Col. 2.16,17. 

21 Titus 2.12, 

22 Matt. 22.37-40; Mark 12.30-31; Luke 10.27; Dent. 6.5; Lev. 19.18. 



LETTERS 



339 



thee who by the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of 
the law? For not he is a Jew that is so outwardly, nor is that 
circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew 
that is one inwardly, and the circumcision is that of the heart, 
in the spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but 
of God. 523 Thus, when we hear the Apostle of Christ com- 
mending for us the Jew who is one inwardly, by the circum- 
cision, not of the flesh but of the heart, in the spirit, not in the 
letter, what is he but a Christian? 

So, then, we are Jews not in the flesh but in the spirit, 
just as we are the seed of Abraham, not according to the flesh 
like those who boast proudly of the carnal name, but ac- 
cording to the spirit of faith which they lack. We know that 
we were the ones promised when God said to him: 'I have 
made thee a father of many children. 524 We know, too, how 
much the Apostle has to say on this theme: Tor we say,' he 
says, 'that unto Abraham faith was reputed to justice. How, 
then, was it reputed? When he was in circumcision or uncir- 
cumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And 
he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the justice of 
the faith, which he had being uncircumcised; that he might 
be the father of all them that believe, being uncircumcised, 
that unto them also it may be reputed to justice; and might 
be the father of circumcision, not to them only that are of 
the circumcision, but to them also that follow the steps of 
the faith, that is, in the uncircumcision of our father, 
Abraham. 5 And a little further on he says: 'Therefore it is 
of faith that, according to grace, the promise might be firm, 
to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to 
that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father 
of us all. As it is written : I have made thee a father of many 
nations.' 25 Likewise, in Galatians he says: 'As Abraham 

23 Rom. 2.25-29. 

24 Gen. 17.5. 

25 Rom. 4.9-12,16,17. 



340 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice, know 
ye therefore that they who are of the faith, the same are the 
children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that 
God justifieth the Gentiles by faith, told unto Abraham be- 
fore: In thee shall all nations be blessed. Therefore they 
that are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham.' 26 
And somewhat further on in the same Epistle he says: 
'Brethren, I speak after the manner of man, yet a man's 
testament, if it be confirmed, no man despiseth nor addeth to 
it. To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. 
He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many, but as of one: 
And to thy seed, which is Christ.' And again a little further 
on he says: 'You are all one in Christ Jesus, but if you be 
Christ's then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according 
to the promise.' 27 

Thus, in accord with that definition of the Apostle, there 
are found to be some that are Jews but not Christians, who are 
not the sons of Abraham, although they are descendants of 
Abraham according to the flesh. For, when he says: 'Know 
ye therefore that they who are of the faith the same are 
the children of Abraham,' he certainly means that those who 
are not of the faith are not the children of Abraham. Conse- 
quently, if Abraham is not a father to the Jews in the same 
way as he is to us, what good does it do them to have been 
his descendants in the flesh, and to have borne a name without 
value? But, when they come to Christ and begin to be the 
children of Abraham who are of the faith, then they will be 
Jews, not outwardly, but inwardly; by the circumcision of 
the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not 
of men but of God. But those who are strangers to this faith 
will be counted among the branches broken from that olive 
tree into whose root the same Apostle says that the wild olive, 

26 Gal. 3.6-9; Gen. 12.3; 15.6; 22.18; 26.4; Rom. 4.3; Tames 2.23; Acts 3 25. 

27 Gal. 3.15,16,27,28. 



LETTERS 



341 



that is, the Gentiles, are ingrafted, 28 which certainly is not ac- 
complished by the flesh but by faith; not by the law but 
by grace; not by the letter but by the spirit; by the circum- 
cision of the heart not of the flesh; not outwardly but in- 
wardly; with praise from God, not from men. Thus, as every 
Christian is a child of Abraham not carnally but spiritually, 
so he is a Jew not carnally but spiritually, and an Israelite 
not carnally but spiritually, for the Apostle speaks of that 
name in these words: Tor all are not Israelites that are of 
Israel; neither are all they that are the seed of Abraham 
children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called; that is to say 
not they that are the children of the flesh are the children of 
God; but they that are the children of the promise are ac- 
counted for the seed.' 29 Is it not a great marvel and a deep 
mystery that many who are born of Israel are not of Israel, 
and many are not children although they are the seed of 
Abraham? How is it that they are not his children but we are, 
except that they are not the children of the promise who 
belong to the grace of Christ, who boast an idle name? 
Therefore, they are not of Israel as we are, nor are we of 
Israel as they are. Our claim is that of a spiritual rebirth; 
theirs, of a carnal birth. 

We must note, then, and distinguish two Israels: one which 
receives the name because of the flesh, the other, by the spirit, 
has attained to the reality which is signified by the name. 
The Israelites are not descended from Agar the handmaid of 
Sara, are they? Was not Ishmael her son and did he not 
beget the race of Ishmaelites, not Israelites? Israel descended 
from Sara by Isaac, who was born to Abraham according to 
promise. 30 Still, although that is the manner of the fleshly 
descent, we find, when we come to the spiritual meaning, that 

28 Cf. Rom. 11.17-24. 

29 Rom. 9.6-8; Gen. 21.12; Heb. 11.18. 

30 Gen. 18.10. - 



342 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the carnal Israelites do not belong to Sara, although they 
trace their fleshly origin to her; and those who are sons of the 
flesh, not according to Ishmael but according to Isaac, are 
the children of promise, not because they belong to the carnal 
seed of Isaac, but to a spiritual mystery. In this sense the 
Apostle speaks thus to the Galatians: Tell me, you that desire 
to be under the law, have you not heard the law? For it is 
written: that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond- 
woman, and the other by a free woman. But he who was of 
the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, but he of 
the free woman was of promise, which things are said by an 
allegory. For these are the two testaments, the one from 
Mount Sina engendering unto bondage, which is Agar; for 
Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that 
Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 
But that Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our mother. 
For it is written : Rejoice thou barren that bearest not, break 
forth and cry thou that travailest not; for many are the 
children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband. 
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 
But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted 
him that was after the spirit, so it is now. But what saith the 
Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son 
of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free 
woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond- 
woman but of the free, by the freedom wherewith Christ 
hath made us free.' 32 

See how, according to this spiritual meaning of the 
Apostle, we belong to the free woman, Sara, although we 
trace no carnal descent from her, while the Jews, who do 
trace their descent from her, are shown to belong rather to 
Agar, the bondwoman, from whom they do not trace their 

31 Gal. 4.21-5.1; Gen. 16.15; 21.2. 

32 Gal. 4.21-31; Gen. 16.15; 21,2; Isa. 54.1. 



LETTERS 343 

descent. This great and profound mystery is also found in 
the grandsons of Abraham and Sara, that is, the sons of Isaac 
and Rebecca, the twins Esau and Jacob, who was afterward 
called Israel. In speaking of this, the same Apostle stated that 
the sons of promise through Isaac are those who belong to 
the grace of Christ, when he said: 'Not only she, but when 
Rebecca also had conceived at once of Isaac our father. For 
when the children were not yet born, nor had done any good 
or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might 
stand, not of works but of him that calleth, it was said to 
her : the elder shall serve the younger, as it is written : Jacob 
I have loved but Esau I have hated. 933 This apostolic and 
Catholic doctrine certainly shows quite clearly that the Jews, 
that is, the Israelites, belong to Sara, and the Ishmaelites to 
Agar, according to carnal descent, but according to the 
spiritual mystery Christians belong to Sara, Jews to Agar; 
likewise, the race of Idumeans, according to carnal descent, 
belong to Esau who was also called Edom, 34 and the race 
of Jews to Jacob who was also called Israel; 35 but according 
to the spiritual mystery the Jews belong to Esau, the Christians 
to Israel. In this way we see the fulfillment of the pronounce- 
ment: The elder shall serve the younger,' that is, the Jewish 
people, born first, shall serve the Christian people, born later. 
This is how we are of Israel, boasting of a divine adoption, 
not a human kinship; Jews inwardly, not outwardly; not in 
the letter, but in the spirit; by the circumcision of the heart, 
not of the flesh. 

This being the case, we ought not to upset the usage of 
human speech by an ill-chosen manner of speaking, nor 
introduce common terms with a distorted meaning into mat- 
ters that need to be carefully distinguished; as if someone 

33 Rom. 9.10-13; Gen. 25.23; Mai. 1.2,3. 

34 Gen. 25.30. 

35 Gen. 32.28. 



344 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

should affect to call Jews those who are Christians and are 
most commonly called Christians, using the word in a far- 
fetched sense; or as if he should both be and be called a 
Christian but should take greater pleasure in the name of 
Jew. It is a sign of foolish inexperience, and, if I may say so, 
of ignorant knowledge, to introduce into the ordinary speech 
of everyday a term which ought to be taken in a mystical 
sense and rarely uttered by the tongue. Surely, the Apostles, 
from whom we learn these things, were not ignorant of the 
manner in which it is rather we who are the seed of Abraham, 
heirs of the promise according to Isaac, Jews in spirit, not in 
the letter, by the circumcision of the heart, not of the flesh; 
Israel not according to the flesh, but the Israel of God. 
Naturally, they knew all that much more truly and surely 
than we do, yet in their mode of speaking they called Jews 
and Israelites those who come of the stock of Abraham ac- 
cording to the flesh, and who are universally called by that 



name. 



The Apostle Paul says: The Jews require signs and the 
Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; 
unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block but unto the Gen- 
tiles foolishness; but unto them that are called both Jews 
and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of 
God. 336 Those whom he called Greeks he also referred to 
by the name of Gentiles, because the Greek language was 
prevalent among the Gentiles; but he called Jews only those 
to whom all give that name. If the Christians themselves are 
Jews, then Christ crucified is a stumbling-block to the 
Christians, since it is said: To the Jews indeed a stumbling- 
block. 5 Anyone who is not completely out of his mind can 
see that. He also says: 'Be without offense to the Jews and 
to the Gentiles and to the church of God. 537 How could he 



36 1 Cor. 1.22-24. 

37 1 Cor. 10.32. 



LETTERS 



345 



make that distinction if it were proper to call the Church of 
God Jews in the ordinary meaning of daily speech? Again he 
says: 'Even us whom also he hath called, not only of the 
Jews but also of the Gentiles. 538 How did He call them 'of the 
Jews' if, instead, He called them of the non-Jews to be Jews? 
He says similarly of the Israelites: 'What then shall we say? 
That the Gentiles who followed not after justice have attained 
to justice, even the justice that is of faith. But Israel by fol- 
lowing after the law of justice, is not come unto the law 
of justice. Why so? Because they sought it not by faith but as 
it were by works; for they stumbled at the stumbling-stone.' 39 
Again: 'But to Israel what doth he say? All day long have 
I spread my hands to a people that believeth not and con- 
tradicteth me.' 40 And he goes on to say: 'I say then: Hath 
God cast away his own people? God forbid. For I also am 
an Israelite of the seed of Abraham and of the tribe of 
Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he fore- 
knew. 541 How can the Apostle call Israel a people that be- 
lieveth not and contradicteth if Christians are Israel; or how 
could he call himself an Israelite? Was it because he had be- 
come a Christian? Certainly it was not for that reason, be- 
cause according to the flesh he was 'of the seed of Abraham, 
of the tribe of Benjamin,' whereas we are not that according 
to the flesh, although we are the seed of Abraham and there- 
fore Israel according to faith. But there is a difference between 
what the mind acknowledges as part of a higher mystery 
and what the usage of everyday speech means by the word. 

Finally, there is that obscure person named Aptus, of 
whom you wrote that he is teaching Christians to become 
Jews, and likewise, as your Holiness claimed, calls himself 
Jew and Israelite in order to forbid the use of those foods 

38 Rom. 9.24. 

39 Rom. 9.30-32. 

40 Rom. 10.21. 

41 Rom. 11.1,2. 



346 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

which the Law, given through the holy servant of God, Moses, 
forbade in accordance with the circumstances of that time; 
and to advocate the observances of that time, 42 now abolished 
and dispensed with among Christians, which the Apostle calls 
shadows of things to come, 43 thereby showing that they are 
to be understood prophetically and that their observance has 
now been made void. From this it seems clear why that Aptus 
wishes to be called an Israelite and a Jew, not in a spiritual 
sense, but in an absolutely carnal sense. We, however, are not 
bound by those observances which have been made void by 
the revelation of the New Testament, but we have learned 
and we teach that the commandments of the Law which are 
obligatory at this time, such as : 'Thou shalt not commit adul- 
tery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not covet; and if there 
be any other commandment it is comprised in this word: 
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself/ 44 are to be observed 
by us not by our own strength, as if we were establishing our 
own justice, but through the 'grace of God by Jesus Christ 
our Lord,' in that justice which comes to us from Him. Yet, 
we do not refuse to be called the seed of Abraham, as the 
Apostle says: 'You are the seed of Abraham'; 45 or Jews 
inwardly, of whom he also says: Tor not he is a Jew that is 
so outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in 
the flesh; but he is a Jew that is so inwardly, in the spirit 
not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God'; 46 
or spiritual Israelites, belonging manifestly to him of whom it 
was said that the elder should serve the younger. But we do 
not apply those terms to ourselves improperly; we restrict 
their use to the mystical meaning; we do not fill the air with 
novelties of language. 

42 Lev. 11.1-32; Dent. 14.3-21. 

43 Col. 2.16,17. 

44 Rom. 13.9; Exod. 20.14,13,17; Luke 10.27; Gal. 5.14; James 2.8. 

45 Gal. 3.29, 

46 Rom. 2.28,29. 



LETTERS 



347 



797. Augustine 1 to Bishop Hesychius, 2 on the end of the 
world (End of 418) 

I am availing myself of the return to your Holiness of your 
son, our fellow priest, Cornutus, from whom I received the 
letter of your Reverence in which you were so kind as to 
visit my insignificance, and I am finally paying my debt of 
the answer, as well as the long-due courtesy of returning 
your greeting, recommending myself to your acceptable 
prayers to the Lord, my lord and brother. But regarding the 
prophetic words, often uttered, on which you wished me to 
write something, I thought it better to refer you to the inter- 
pretation of those same words done by holy Jerome, a man 
of great learning, and in case you did not have them at hand, 
I have had extracts copied from his works, which I am 
sending to your Beatitude. However, if you have them, and 
they do not satisfy your inquiry, I ask you to please write me 
what you think of them, and how you yourself understand 
the prophetic oracles. I think that the phrase of Daniel about 
the weeks should be taken to refer to time already past; but 
as to the coming of the Saviour at the end of the world, I do 
not venture to calculate the time, and I do not think that 
any Prophet has defined the number of years in that matter, 
but that special weight is to be given to what the Lord Him- 
self said: c lt is not for you to know the times and moments 
which the Father hath put in his own power/ 3 

In another place He says: 'But of that day and hour no 
one knoweth, 34 and there are some who take this to mean 
that they can calculate the time, but what no one knows is 
merely the day and hour. Here I shall pass over the manner in 
which Scripture uses 'day 5 and 'hour' in the sense of time. 

1 There is no title of address in the text; another reading gives this one. 

2 Bishop of Salona in Dalmatia. Cf. De civ. Dei 20.5. 

3 Acts 1.7. 

4 Matt. 24.36; Mark 13.32. 



348 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

It is clear that the former quotation speaks very plainly of 
not knowing the time, for it was when He was questioned on 
this point by His disciples that He said: 'No one can know 
the times which the Father hath put in his own power/ 
He did not say c day' or 'hour,' but 'times,' a word not ordi- 
narily used of a short lapse of time, as c day' and 'hour' are, 
especially if we examine the Greek version, from which, as we 
know, the same book has been translated into our tongue, 
although it is not possible to distinguish the terms adequately 
in Latin. In Greek, we read chronous or kairous y but we call 
both words 'times,' whether chronous or kairous, although 
there is a significant difference between the two. The Greeks 
use the word kairous not for time as a succession of eras, but 
for time as it is felt in human happenings as either suitable or 
unsuitable for doing something, such as harvest, vintage, heat, 
cold, peace, war, and the like; the actual passing of time they 
call chronous. 

Certainly, the Apostles did not ask their question as if they 
wanted to know the final day or hour that is, a small part 
of a day but they asked if the time was suitable for restoring 
the kingdom of Israel. It was then they heard : 'No one can 
know the times which the Father hath put in his own power/ 
that is, chronous or kairous. If this were translated into Latin 
by 'times' and 'occasions' (opportunitates], and not as it 
now is, it would be clearly expressed, because when times are 
spoken of as suitable or unsuitable they are called kairoi. But 
when we mean to calculate time, the word is chronous. 
Hence, to wish to know when the end of the world will come 
and when the Lord will appear is, it seems to me, what He 
says no one can know. 

The suitable occasion for that time will certainly not come 
until the 'Gospel shall be preached in the whole world for a 
testimony to all nations,' for the statement of the Saviour on 
this point as we read it is very clear: 'And this Gospel of 



LETTERS 349 

the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a 
testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation 
come. 55 What else does 'then it shall come' mean but that 
it will not come before then? How long after that it will come 
i$ unknown to us, but, obviously, we ought not to doubt 
that it will not come sooner. Therefore, if the servants of God 
were to undertake the labor of traveling all over the earth 
so as to gather in as many as they can, we could certainly 
estimate how long a time remains before the end of the world 
by the remaining number of nations to whom the Gospel has 
not yet been preached. But, if anyone believes that it is not 
possible for the servants of God to travel over the whole earth 
because some regions are inaccessible and inhospitable, and 
therefore a truthful report cannot be made on the number 
and importance of the nations still deprived of the Gospel of 
Christ, I think it is much less possible to understand from 
the Scriptures how much time there will be before the end, 
since we read in them: 'No one can know the times which 
the Father hath put in his own power.' Hence, if someone 
were to announce to us now, with complete certainty, that 
the Gospel had been preached to all nations, not even so could 
we say how much time remains before the end, but we could 
reasonably say that we are coming nearer and nearer to it. 
Someone might answer to this that, by the preaching of the 
Gospel with such speed, the Roman nations and many bar- 
barian ones, as well as some whose territory we now occupy, 
would have been converted to the faith of Christ suddenly, 
not gradually, so that it might not be beyond the bounds 
of probability that in a few years, not, perhaps, in the lifetime 
of us elders, but certainly in that of young men who will grow 
old, all the remaining nations will be completely accounted 
for. If that happens, it will be easier to prove it by experience 
than by reading about it before it happens. 

5 Matt. 24.14. 



350 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

I have been impelled to say this by the opinion of one 
exegete whom the priest Jerome charges with rashness be- 
cause he has dared to apply the weeks of Daniel to the future 
coming of Christ, not to His first one. 6 However, if the Lord 
has revealed or will reveal anything better to the holy humility 
of your heart, as you deserve, I ask you to share it with us 
and to receive this letter as coming from a man who would 
rather have knowledge than ignorance of these matters of 
which you inquire; but, as that cannot yet be, I choose rather 
to confess a cautious ignorance than to profess a false knowl- 
edge. 

198. Hesychius 1 gives greeting in the Lord to the saintly lord, 
Augustine, his brother and fellow bishop, revered 
with the most sincere affection (End of 418) 

Our holy fellow priest, Cornutus, has satisfied my longing 
and expectancy by bringing me the letter of your Blessedness, 
and it has given me joy that you so kindly remembered me 
and that you outlined in passing in a few words of the very 
language of your holy mind what I had asked. You also 
added some extracts from the works of our holy fellow priest, 
Jerome, so that I could complete the answer to my question 
by reading his work on the holy Scriptures. As you were so 
kind as to ask me to set forth in a letter to your most sincere 
Charity what I think on those questions, I am adding it to 
what I have read as far as the limited intelligence of my 
mediocrity can either think or understand. 

All things are governed by the will and power of Almighty 
God, the Creator of the universe; both those things that have 

6 Jerome, Commentary on Daniel 9 (PL 25.548.14-549.5) . 

1 The text edition gives no heading; another reading gives this one. 
The writer is the recipient of Letter 197. 



LETTERS 



351 



happened and those that are about to happen are made 
known by the words of the holy Prophets who have followed 
the divine will in announcing future happenings to men be- 
fore they happened. In this there is matter for sufficient 
wonder whether God determined that the prophecies which 
He wished made should not be able to penetrate deeply into 
the understanding of men, according to the passage in which 
the Lord spoke to the blessed Apostles, saying: c No one can 
know the times which the Father hath put in his own power/ 
especially as it is not written 'no one can' in the earliest texts 
of the Church, but it is written: c lt is not for you to know 
the times and moments which the Father hath put in his own 
power,' a fashion of speech which is logically completed by 
what follows: 'But . . . you shall be witnesses unto me in 
Jerusalem and Samaria and even to the uttermost part of the 
earth. 32 He wishes us to understand, therefore, that the 
Apostles were to be witnesses of His name and His resurrec- 
tion, not of the end of the world. 

In this matter of knowing the times, the Lord Himself 
warns us thus: 'Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise 
servant whom his lord hath appointed over his family to give 
them meat in season? Blessed is that servant whom when his 
lord shall come he shall find so doing!' 3 The family of Christ 
is fed by the word of preaching, and the faithful servant is the 
one who furnishes this necessary meat in season to believers 
who are awaiting their lord. But the evil servant is thus 
rebuked: 'But if the evil servant shall say in his heart: My 
lord is long a-coming, his lord shall come in a day that he 
knoweth not and an hour that he thinketh not,' 4 and the rest. 
Likewise, He shows why this time is not known by saying: 

2 Acts 1.7,8. The "second version given by the writer is that found in 
the Vulgate. It is possible to surmise that St. Augustine had put 
together two passages in Letter 197, Acts 1.7 and Matt. 24.36, and that 
Hesychius is tactfully setting him right. 

3 Matt. 24.45,46. 

4 Matt. 24.48-50; Luke 12.45,46. 



352 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

c You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of heaven, 
how is it that you do not discern this time? 55 The Apostle also 
says: In the last days shall come on dangerous times/ 6 and 
the rest. And again the Apostle says: 'But of times and 
moments we have no need to write to you; for yourselves 
know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall so come as a 
thief in the night. For when they shall say: Peace and 
security, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as 
the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not 
escape/ 7 Again, the Apostle says: 'Remember you not that 
when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now 
you know what withholdeth that he may be revealed in his 
time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that 
he that now holdeth do hold until he be taken out of the way. 
And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord 
Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth/ 8 In like manner 
in the Gospel the Lord thus reproaches the Jews: 'If thou 
also hadst known . . . the time of thy visitation/ perhaps thou 
shouldst have remained, c but now these things are hidden 
from thy eyes.' 9 And the Lord made this prediction to the 
Jews: 'The time is accomplished; do penance; believe in the 
Gospel.' 10 Rightly did He tell the Jews that their time was 
accomplished, because their time came to an end after His 
preaching and the thirty-five or forty years of His life. In 
Daniel we read: 'Until the beast was slain and the body 
thereof was destroyed and given to the fire to be burnt; and 
the power of the other beasts was taken away and the times 
of life were appointed them for a time 5 which in Greek is 
called both chronos and kairos. And he goes on : 'Behold the 
son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.' 11 

5 Luke 12.56. 

6 2 Tim. 3.!. 

7 1 Thess. 5.1-3. 

8 2 Thess. 2.5-8; Isa. 11.4. 

9 Cf. Luke 19.42,44. 

10 Mark 1.15. These words were spoken by St. John the Baptist, 

11 Dan. 7.11-13. 



LETTERS 353 

The second point is that the coming of the Lord is to be 
loved and expected. For it is a great bliss for those who love 
His coming, as the blessed Apostle Paul bears witness : c As to 
the rest there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the 
Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day. And 
not only to me but to them also that love his coming.' 12 And 
the Lord says in the Gospel : Then shall the just shine as the 
sun in the kingdom of their Father. 513 The Prophet also 
says: Tor behold darkness shall cover the earth and a mist 
the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee and his glory 
shall be seen upon thee 5 ; 14 and again the Prophet: c But they 
that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall 
take wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they 
shall walk and not faint.' 15 Many other such passages may 
be found showing the happiness of those who love the Lord's 
coming. 

It is evident that no one can deduce the exact length of 
the time. In fact, the Gospel says: 16 c Of that day and hour 
no one knoweth'; and I say, with due regard for the limi- 
tations of my mind, that neither the day nor the month nor 
the year of that coming can be known, but by noticing and 
believing the existing signs of the coming, it befits me to hope 
for it and to distribute this food to believers that they may 
hope for and love the coming of Him who said: 'When you 
shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the 
doors. 5 Therefore, the signs which are given in the Gospel 
and in prophecy and which are fulfilled in us show forth the 
coming of the Lord. For, those who seek to know or to 
traduce seek in vain to understand the days and the years 
by computation, since it is written: c And unless those days 

12 z Tim. 4.8. 

13 Matt. 13.43. 

14 Isa. 60.2. 

15 Isa. 40.31. 

16 Matt. 24.36,33,22. 



354 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

had been shortened no flesh should be saved, but for the sake 
of the elect those days shall be shortened.' Certainly, there is 
no computation for a time which is to be shortened by the 
Lord who has established the times, but we know that the 
coming is at hand by the fact that we see the fulfillment of 
certain signs of that coming which have been accomplished. 
Again He says: 'But when these things begin to come to pass, 
be revived and lift up your heads because your redemption 
is at hand/ 17 The signs which He told them to look for are 
listed in the Gospel of Saint Luke: 'Jerusalem shall be 
trodden down by the Gentiles till the times of the nations be 
fulfilled/ This has happened and no one doubts that it has 
happened. And He goes on: 'And there shall be signs in the 
sun and in the moon and in the stars and upon the earth 
distress of nations/ Our very suffering forces us to admit, if 
our will refuses, that we are suffering these things, for it is 
well known that at one and the same time signs are seen by 
men in heaven 18 and distress of nations is suffered on earth. 
And he goes on: 'Men withering away for fear and expect- 
ation of what shall come upon the whole world/ 19 It is plain 
that there is no country, no place in our time which is not 
harassed or humbled according to the words 'for fear and 
expectation of what shall come upon the whole world,' and 
all the signs which the Gospel describes in the earlier verses 20 
have in large measure been accomplished. 

As to the words, 'And this Gospel shall be preached in the 
whole world and then shall the consummation come,' 21 this 
was rather 22 a promise made by the Lord that the Apostles 
should be witnesses of His name and resurrection 'in Jeru- 

17 Luke 21.28. 

18 A possible reference to an eclipse of the sun on July 19, 418, which, 
was followed by a severe drought. 

19 Luke 21.24-26. 

20 Luke 21.8-12,16-26. 

21 Matt. 24.14. 

22 Goldbacher indicates a lacuna here, but the sense is complete. 



LETTERS 355 

salem and In Judea and in Samaria and even to the uttermost 
part of the earth, 323 and the Apostle teaches by this authority: 
'But I say: have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound hath 
gone forth into all the earth and their words unto the ends 
of the whole world. 524 Again he says: Tor the hope that is 
laid up for you, which you have heard before in the word 
of truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as also it is in 
the whole world and bringeth forth fruit and groweth.' 25 
But the faith introduced by the Apostles among the Gentiles 
had many persecutors and, although retained, it was slower 
in growing strong, giving the fulfillment of the words: 'But 
before all these things they will lay hands on you and 
persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and into 
prisons, dragging you before kings and governors for my 
name's sake, 526 and that word also shall be fulfilled: 'And 
thou shalt quickly be rebuilt by those by whom thou hast been 
destroyed.' 27 For, as soon as we began, by the will of God, 
to have most clement Christian emperors, the faith which had 
previously increased slowly because of persecution grew from 
age to age, and under Christian kings the Gospel of Christ 
little by little made its appearance everywhere. 

As to the Commentary on the weeks of blessed Daniel, 28 
although it was made by our holy fellow priest, Jerome, in 
the manner handed down by the learned men of the churches, 
it leaves the reader hanging in the air. 29 If our fellow priest, 
learned man that he is, says it is dangerous to judge among 
opinions of the masters in the churches, 30 how much less 
possible is it for the reader to do what the master shrinks 

23 Acts 1.8. 

24 Rom. 10.18; Ps. 18.5. 

25 Col. 1.5,6. 

26 Luke 21.12. 

27 The origin of this quotation is unknown. 

28 Dan. 9.24-27. 

29 A manifest lacuna after lectorem has been supplied by the editors with 
suspendit. 

30 Jeiome, Commentary on Daniel 9.24, in PL 25.542.34-36. 



356 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

from doing! But we believe what the Lord says: c that heaven 
and earth shall pass but one jot or one tittle shall not pass of 
the law till all be fulfilled.' 31 I wonder, then, how the 
mystery of weeks is accomplished by the time of the birth and 
Passion of Christ, since the Prophet, speaking thus of the half 
of the week, says: 'In the half of the week my sacrifice and 
supplication shall be taken away and the abomination of 
desolation shall last until the sacrifice.' 32 If, then, this abomin- 
ation has come to pass, how does the Lord warn us, saying: 
'When you shall see the abomination of desolation which was 
spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, 
he that readeth let him understand 5 ? 33 

I have written your Charity this statement of what I think, 
not wishing to show disesteem of the request of your Blessed- 
ness. Be so kind when you answer as to instruct and rejoice 
us more fully with the word of your grace. 



199. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to the blessed lord, 

Hesychius, 1 his brother and fellow bishop, worthy 

of respect and esteem (c. 419) 



On the End of the World 



Chapter 1 

I have received the letter of your Reverence in which you 
urge on us the great good of loving and longing for the 

31 Matt. 5.18. 

32 Cf. Dan. 9.27. 

33 Matt 24.15, Mark 13.14; Dan. 9.27. 

1 Cf. Letter 197 n. 2. This letter is an answer to Letter 198. 



LETTERS 357 

coming of our Saviour. In this you act like the good servant 
of the master of the household who is eager for his lord's 
gain and who wishes to have many sharers in the love which 
burns so brightly and constantly in you. Examining, therefore, 
the passage you quoted from the Apostle where he said that 
the Lord would render a crown of justice not only to him. 
but to all who love His coming, 2 we live as uprightly as he 
and we pass through this world as pilgrims while our heart 
constantly expands with this love, and whether He comes 
sooner or later than He is expected, His coming is loved with 
faithful charity and longed for with pious affection. Doubt- 
less, that servant who says: c My lord is long a-coming,' and 
who strikes his fellow servants and eats and drinks with 
drunkards, does not love His coming; his mind is shown by his 
behavior. 3 The good master was careful, however briefly, to 
explain this conduct, that is, pride and riotous living, lest his 
saying c My lord is long a-coming 3 be attributed to a longing 
for his Master in the same way as the Psalmist longed for Him 
when he said: 6 My soul hath thirsted after the living God; 
when shall I come and appear before the face of God?' 4 For, 
by saying 'When shall I come?' he showed his impatience at 
the delay, because, even though it be quickened in time, it 
seems slow to his longing. But, how is His coming slow or 
how is it far in the future when the very Apostles, while they 
were still in the flesh, said: 'It is the last hour,' 5 although 
they heard the Lord say: c lt is not for you to know the times'? 
Therefore, they did not know this any more than we know it 
I am speaking for myself and for those who share this 
lack of knowledge with me yet, those to whom He said: 
c lt is not for you to know the times which the Father hath 

2 2 Tim. 4.8. 

3 Matt. 24.48,49. 

4 Ps. 41.3. 

5 1 John 2.18. 



358 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

put in his own power/ 6 loved His coming and gave their 
fellow servants meat in due season; did not strike them by 
lording it over them, nor revel with the lovers of the world, 
saying: c My lord is long a-coming.' 7 



Chapter 2 

Therefore, not to know the times is something different 
from decay of morals and love of vice. For, when the 
Apostle Paul said: 'Be not easily moved from your mind nor 
he frighted, neither by word nor by epistle as sent from us, 
as if the day of the Lord were at hand/ 1 he obviously did 
not want them to believe those who thought the coming of 
the Lord was already at hand, but neither did he want them 
to be like the wicked servant and say: c My lord is long 
a-coming/ and deliver themselves over to destruction by pride 
and riotous behavior. Thus, his desire that they should not 
listen to false rumors about the imminent approach of the 
last day was consistent with his wish that they should await 
the coming of their Lord fully prepared, with their loins girt 
and lamps burning. 2 He said to them: 'But you, brethren, 
are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a 
thief, for all you are the children of light and children of 
the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness. 53 On the 
other hand, the one who says: c My lord is long a-coming,' and 
then strikes his fellow servants and eats and drinks with 
drunkards, is not of light but of darkness, and therefore that 
day will overtake him as a thief, because everyone ought to 
fear the last day of his life here. In whatever state his own 

6 Acts 1.7. 

7 Matt. 24.45,49,48. 

1 2 Thess. 2.2. 

2 Luke 12.55,36. 

3 1 Thess. 5.4.5. 



LETTERS 359 

last day finds each one, in that state the last day of the 
world will overtake him; such as he is on the day of his 
death, such each one will be judged on that last day. 



Chapter 3 

What is written in the Gospel of St. Mark has a bearing 
on this: 'Watch, for you know not when the lord of the 
house cometh, at even or at midnight or at the cock crowing 
or in the morning, lest coming on a sudden he find you sleep- 
ing. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch. 51 Who are 
the e all' to whom He says this if not His elect and His beloved, 
the members of His body which is the Church? 2 Therefore, 
He said if not only to those who then heard Him speaking, 
but also to those who came after them and before us, as well 
as to us and to those who will come after us until His final 
coming. Is that day going to find all in this life or is anyone 
likely to say that these words are also addressed to the dead, 
when He says: 'Watch, lest coming on a sudden he find you 
sleeping?' Why, then, does He say to all what concerns only 
those who will then be living, unless it concerns all in the 
way I have explained it? For that day will come to every 
single one, when the day comes for him to go out of life, such 
as he is, to be judged on the last day. For this reason, every 
Christian ought to watch lest the coming of the Lord find him 
unprepared. But that day will find unprepared anyone whom 
the last day will find unprepared. This at least was certainly 
clear to the Apostles, that the Lord was not likely to come 
in their times, while they were still living here in the flesh, 
yet who would doubt that they watched most carefully and 
observed what He said to all, lest coming on a sudden He 
find them unprepared? 

1 Mark 13.35-37. 

2 Col. 1.24. 



360 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 4 

I do not quite understand how one ought to take what 
your Holiness wrote of the reason why the Lord said to the 
Apostles: 'It is not for you to know the times or moments 
which the Father hath put in his own power/ because He 
added at once: 'But you shall be witnesses unto me in 
Jerusalem and in Judea and in Samaria and even to the 
uttermost part of the earth. 5 You explain the meaning of 
this passage of Scripture by saying: 'He wished us^to under- 
stand, therefore, that the Apostles were to be witnesses of 
His name and His resurrection,, not of the end of the world. 91 
It is true He did not say: 'It is not for you to announce the 
times' but c it is not for you to know. 3 If you want us tc under- 
stand His saying: 'It is not for you to know' as if He had 
said: 'It is not for you to let others know/ that is, it is not 
for you to teach this, who of us would dare to teach or 
presume to know what neither God the Master taught the 
disciples by whom He was questioned face to face, nor the 
holy and great doctors have been able to teach the Church? 

Chapter 5 

Will you answer that the Apostle did not teach this, but 
the Prophets did? You said the things that are about to 
happen are made known by the words of the holy Prophets 
who have followed the divine will, as you say, c in announcing 
future happenings to men before they happened. 5 But, if your 
Reverence says: 'In this there is sufficient matter for wonder 
whether God determined that the prophecies which He 
wished made should not be able to penetrate deeply into 
the understanding of man/ how much greater matter for 

1 Cf. Letter 198. 



LETTERS 361 

wonder there would be if the Apostles were prevented from 
knowing or teaching what the Prophets spoke to men ! How 
would it be possible for the Apostles not to understand the 
teachings of the Prophets regarding those times now under 
discussion if they are understood by us? Or, if the Apostles 
did understand the prophecy of the length of time, how 
could they fail to teach what they understood, when it is 
through their preaching that the Prophets themselves, who 
taught these things in their books, have become known? 
Therefore, as they learned these matters from previous writ- 
ings, others among the Gentiles to whom the Apostles com- 
mended the authority of the Prophets could learn them from 
the same writings. Why were they told: 'It is not for you to 
know' or if it must be taken to mean it is not for you to 
teach 'the times which the Father hath put in his own 
power,' when they were teaching them and when those 
writings through which these things are learned were be- 
coming known through them? Hence, it is better to believe, 
not that God was unwilling to make known what He wished 
to have preached, but that He did not wish to have preached 
what He saw was not useful for us to know. 



Chapter 6 

'Why, then, 5 you say, f in this matter of knowing the times, 
does the Lord Himself warn us when He says: "Who, thinkest 
thou, is a faithful and wise servant whom his lord hath 
appointed over his family to give them meat in season," * 
and the rest? Indeed, He does not warn the good servant to 
know the end of time, but to watch at all times by his good 
works because he knows not the end of time; He does not 
warn us to outdo the Apostles by searching into the 'times 
which the Father hath put in his own power,' but to imitate 



362 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the Apostles by preparing our heart, because we know not 
when the lord cometh. But on this I have already said 
enough above. He censured the Jews for not knowing the 
time when He says: 'You hypocrites, you know how to 
discern the face of heaven', and the rest, because they did 
not know the time which He wished to know, that is, the 
time of His first coming, so that they might believe in Him 
and so await His second coming by watching for Him when- 
ever that coming should be. Whoever does not recognize the 
first coming of the Lord cannot prepare himself for the second 
by believing in Him and watching faithfully lest that day 
overtake him in darkness as a thief, 1 whether He comes later 
or sooner than He is expected. 

Chapter 7 

As you note, the Apostle Paul says: 'In the last days shall 
come dangerous times,' and the rest. He surely is not here 
referring to the 'times which the Father hath put in his own 
power,' and he is not giving anyone to understand how long 
or how short those times will be which are admittedly to be 
the last. We should recall how long ago the Apostles said: 
'Little children, it is the last hour.' 1 

Chapter 8 

Again you remind us that the same Apostle said: 'But of 
times and moments you need not that I should write to you, 
for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall 

1 1 Thess. 5.4; 2 Peter 3.10. 
1 1 John 2.18. 



LETTERS 363 

so come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say: 
Peace and security, then shall sudden destruction come upon 
them as the pains upon her that is with child and they shall 
not escape.' Here he did not say how much time would 
elapse before this happens, that is, he did not give the 
length or brevity of the age, but whatever interval and 
space of time intervenes this last evil will not come upon them 
until they have said : 'Peace and security/ By these words the 
Apostle seems to have removed either the hope or the fear 
of that last day from our times, for we do not see the lovers 
of this world, on whom destruction will come suddenly, now 
saying: 'Peace and security.' 



Chapter 9 

The Apostle himself shows quite clearly what it is enough 
for us to know when he says: 'Of times and moments we 
have no need to write to you' or, as other manuscript readings 
have it: 'You need not that we should write to you.' 1 He 
did not go on and say: Tor you yourselves know perfectly 
how much time remains/ but he said: Tor you yourselves 
know perfectly that the hour of the lord shall so come as a 
thief in the night/ 2 Those who do not wish to be overtaken 
by that hour as by a thief in the night have need to know 
this, that they may strive to be children of light and watch 
with well-prepared hearts. If it were necessary to know the 
length of time in order to avoid this misfortune, that is, of 
the hour of the Lord coming upon us unprepared like a 
thief, the Apostle would not have said that he had no need 
to write this, but, like a far-sighted teacher, he would rather 

1 The latter is the Vulgate version. 

2 1 Thess. 5.1 ,2. 



364 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

have judged that he ought to write it to them. But now he 
shows that this is not needful for them, for whom it was 
enough to know that the hour of the Lord would come like 
a thief upon sleepers and the unready; and by knowing this 
they would themselves be ready and watchful however long a 
time He would be in coming. He also kept his own place, and, 
Apostle though he was, he did not presume to teach others 
what He knew the Lord had forbidden the Apostles: c lt is 
not for you to know/ 

Chapter 10 

You also quote what the same Apostle said: 'Remember 
you not that when I was yet with you I told you these things? 
And now you know what withholdeth that he may be re- 
vealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh, 
only that he that now holdeth do hold until he be taken out 
of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom 
the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth.' 1 Would 
that you had not only quoted but had also deigned to expound 
these words, for, though they are so obscure and so mystical 
in meaning, it does not appear that he said anything about 
fixed time or that he revealed any length or interval of time. 
He says : c that he may be revealed in his time,' but he does 
not say how long it will be before this happens. What the 
mystery of iniquity is is variously understood by one and 
another, but how long it will work is a secret. The Apostle 
did not say this as a man outside the number of those to 
whom it was said: 'It is not for you to know the times,' for, 
although he was not yet among them when this was said to 
them, we do not doubt that he is their colleague and a 
member of their group. 



Thess. 2.5-8. 



LETTERS 365 

Chapter 11 

Likewise, in what follows : 'Only that he that now holdeth 
do hold until he be taken out of the way, and then that 
wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill 
with the spirit of his mouth, 3 he teaches us openly that Anti- 
christ will come, and although he seems to have described 
him in somewhat clearer terms as due to be killed by the 
breath of the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ, he does not 
say, even obscurely, how long it will be before this happens. 
Who he is 'that now holdeth, 5 or what he holds, or what is 
meant by 'taken out of the way, 3 each one can work out for 
himself so as to understand or have some inkling of it, 
according as he reads what is written in one way or another; 
but how long he holds or how long it will be before he is 
taken out of the way is wholly wrapt in secrecy. 

Chapter 12 

You also say: c ln like manner, the Lord, in the Gospel, 
reproaches the Jews, saying: "If thou also hadst known . . . 
the time of thy visitation, perhaps thou shouldest have re- 
mained, but now these things are hidden from thy eyes." ' 
But this refers to the time of the first coming of the Lord, not 
of the second which is now in question. Obviously, it was of 
His second coming, not of the first, that He said : 'It is not for 
you to know the times,' for the Apostles had asked Him 
about the coming they hoped for, not the one they then 
witnessed. If the Jews had known His first coming, 'they 
would never have crucified the Lord of glory,' 1 and thus they 
could have escaped destruction and might have remained. As 
to His words to them : 'The time is accomplished, do penance, 

1 1 Cor. 2.8. 



366 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

believe in the Gospel/ you yourself have affirmed that they 
were said of the time of the Jews which was to come after a 
few years, and we now know that it is past by the destruction 
of the city in which their realm had been established. 



Chapter 13 

From what your Reverence next quoted from Daniel about 
the slaying of the beast, and the power of the other beasts, 
and the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven in the 
midst of these happenings, it is plain that you speak to those 
who are versed in the Scripture. But, if you will be so kind 
as to explain how those passages have any bearing on our 
knowledge of the length of time which is to elapse before 
the Saviour's coming, I will confess with great thankfulness 
that the Lord's words, 'It is not for you to know,' were 
addressed only to the Apostles, not to their followers who are 
to know. 

Chapter 14 

According to your holy advice, the Lord's coming is to be 
loved and hoped for, and, as you say, the happiness of those 
who love it is great, as shown by the testimony of the Apostle 
whose words you thus quote: 'As to the rest, there is laid 
up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, 
will render to me in that day. And not only to me but to 
them also that love the Lord's coming.' And then, also, as 
you recite from the Gospel, 'the just shall shine as the sun in 
the kingdom of their Father/ and, as the Prophet says, Tor 
behold darkness shall cover the earth and a mist the people, 
but the Lord shall arise upon thee and his glory shall be 
seen upon thee'; he likewise says: 'But they that hope in the 



LETTERS 



367 



Lord shall renew their strength; they shall take wings as 
eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and 
not faint.' 

Chapter 15 

All this you repeat with great piety and truth, praising the 
happiness of those who love the coming of the Lord. But those 
to whom the Apostle said: 'Be not easily moved from your 
mind ... as if the day of the Lord were at hand,' 1 evidently 
loved the Lord's coming, and the purpose of the Doctor of 
the Gentiles in saying this was not to break them away from 
the love which burned in them; rather, he did not want them 
to put their faith in those from whom they heard that the 
day of the Lord was at hand, lest, perhaps, when the time 
had passed within which they had thought He would come, 
and they saw that He had not come, they might think the 
other promises made to them were also false, and might 
despair of the mercy of faith itself. Therefore, it is not the 
one who asserts that He is near nor the one who asserts that 
He is not near who loves the coming of the Lord, but the one 
who waits for Him, whether He be near or far, with sincere 
faith, firm hope and ardent love. For, if love of the Lord is 
in proportion to the belief and profession that He will come 
soon, then those who said that His coming was at hand loved 
Him more than those whom the Apostle warned not to 
believe them, or even than the Apostle himself who manifestly 
did not believe it. 

Chapter 16 

If my weakness is not troublesome to your Holiness, I beg 
you not to refuse to explain more clearly how you could say 

1 2 Thess. 2.2. 



368 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that no one can deduce the exact length of the time,' as 
this might not mean the same to me as it does to your 
Charity, and any one of us might look in vain to be en- 
lightened by the other. After saying that, you went on and 
said: c ln fact, the Gospel says: "of that day and hour no one 
knoweth," but I,' you say, 'with due regard for the limitations 
of my mind, say neither the day nor the month nor the year 
of that coming can be known/ That sounds as if we cannot 
know in what year He will come, but we can know in what 
week or decade of years, as if it were possible to assign it 
with certainty to this or that period of seven years, this or 
that period of ten years. But, if not even this can be known, 
I ask whether at least the time of His coming can be defined 
so as to say that He will come, for instance, in the next fifty 
or a hundred years, or any other number of years more or less, 
but that we do not know in which of these years He will come. 
If that is how you have understood it, it is a great thing to 
understand. What I ask is that you would kindly impart your 
knowledge to us, citing the proper sources from which you 
have been able to work it out; if you do not claim this 
knowledge, then your opinion is the same as mine. 



Chapter 17 

All of us who believe see that those times are indeed the 
last by the appearance of many signs in nature which we 
read that the Lord foretold. If we take a period of a thousand 
years, 1 and if the end of that period were the end of the 
world, we could say that it was the ultimate end of time or 
also the last day because it is written: Tor a thousand years 
in thy sight are but as one day/ 2 so that anything that was 
done during that thousand years could be spoken of as done 

1 Apoc. 20.4-7. 

2 Ps. 89.4; 2 Peter 3.8. 



LETTERS 369 

at the end of time or on the last day. I repeat what must 
often be said on this question: let us recall how long ago 
the blessed Evangelist, John, said: It is the last hour.' 3 If 
we had been alive then and had heard this, how could we 
have believed that so many years would pass after it, and 
would we not rather have hoped that the Lord would come 
while John was still present in the body? For he did not say: 
'It is the last of time, or the last year or month or day/ but 
'It is the last hour 5 , and see what a long hour it is ! He did 
not lie, however, but we must understand that he used the 
word 'hour' instead of 'time.' Some explain this by setting up 
a period of 6,000 years as one day, and they divide it into 
twelve parts like hours, so that the last hour seems to consist 
of the last 500 years, and they say that John was speaking of 
these years when he said it was the last hour. 



Chapter 18 

But knowing something and surmising it are two different 
things. If 6,000 years is to be taken as one day, why is one 
hour a twelfth of it and not rather a twenty-fourth, that is, 
not 500 but 250 years? For the whole day is more truly spoken 
of as the whole course of the sun, not from east to west but 
from east to east where it rises again after the whole day is 
over; that is, in twenty-four hours. According to that reckon- 
ing, the last hour is found to be past by at least seventy years 1 
from the time John said that, and the end of the world has 
not yet come. Besides, if we look carefully into Church history, 
we find that the Apostle John died long before the completion 
of 5,500 years from the beginning of the human race. It was 

3 1 John 2.18. 

1 It works out to sixty-eight years, which is near enough; St. John wrote 
his Epistle in A.D. 99. 



370 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

not yet the last hour if the twelfth part of 6,000 years, that is, 
500 years, is taken as the length of one hour. Moreover, if 
we follow the Scriptures and take a thousand years as one day, 
then the last hour of so long a day is even further past, I 
do not say if we take one-twenty-fourth of it, which is a 
little over forty, but if we suppose a twelfth part of it which 
has twice as many years. Therefore, it is more consistent to 
believe that the Apostle used 'hour' for 'time,' but how long 
that hour is we do not know, because it is not for us to 
'know the times which the Father hath put in his own power,' 
although we certainly know that last hour much better than 
those who preceded us, from the time when it began to be 
the last hour of the day. 

Chapter 19 

I do not understand what your Reverence means by saying 
that the exact time cannot be computed, so as to define in 
what year the end will come, because, according to the 
promise of the Lord, those days will be shortened. If they 
will be so shortened as to become fewer rather than more, I 
ask you, according to what truth would they have been more 
if they had not been shortened? You think that the weeks 
of holy Daniel do not refer to the first coming of the Lord, 
as the majority do, but to the second. Will they then be 
shortened so that there will be one less week in that number, 
thus falsifying the prophecy which had defined the number 
of weeks so carefully that it said a certain event would occur 
even in the middle of a week? I find it surprising that the 
prophecy of Daniel is annulled by the prophecy of Christ. 
What sort of prophecy is that which makes us think that 
Daniel, or, rather, the angel from whom he learned it, did not 
know that the Lord would shorten those days and erred in 



LETTERS 



371 



what he said, or that he did know it indeed, but lied to the 
one whom he was instructing? If that is nonsense, why do 
we not rather believe that Daniel prophesied so many weeks 
according to the reckoning that the Lord would shorten those 
days, if that number of years does refer to the second coming 
of Christ? But I do not see how that can be proved. 



Chapter 20 

Finally, if those weeks foretell the coming of the Lord, it is 
much surer and safer to say that it will occur within seventy 
or, at most, within a hundred years. There are 490 years in 
seventy weeks, but from the birth of the Lord down to the 
present we count about 420; from His Resurrection or 
Ascension, 390, more or less. Thus, if we count from His birth, 
there are seventy years left; if from His Passion, about one 
hundred remain, within which all those weeks of Daniel will 
be completed if they are a prophecy of His final coming. 
Hence, if anyone says: Tt will happen within so many years/ 
he will be wrong if it happens beyond them; but because 
the times will be shortened, it will be possible for them to be 
less, not more. Therefore, it is correct to say: 'It will happen 
within such a time,' because it will be true however much 
the time is shortened; for, if that shortening is understood in 
the sense of fewer years, it does not allow of the day of the 
Lord coming after that time, but it is more and more true of 
the shortened time the fewer those years will be. Hence, tiiat 
shortening does not disturb the computer who defines it so 
as to say that the day of the Lord will come within so many 
years; it helps him, instead, because the greater the reduction 
in the number of those days, the more the coming will occur 
within them and will not possibly occur beyond them. Thus, 
what is so defined will be true if we say: 'It wiU happen 



372 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

within so many years/ although we do not know the year in 
which it will happen. 

Chapter 21 

Consequently, the whole question comes down to this: 
whether the weeks of Daniel were fulfilled by the first coming 
of the Lord, or foretold the end of the world, or refer to 
both; for there are some authorities, well versed in this 
matter, who say that they were fulfilled at the time of the 
first coming of Christ and that they are to be fulfilled again 
by the same number to the end of the world. For my part, 
I see that if the first coming did not fulfill them, the second 
must necessarily do so, since the prophecy cannot be falsified. 
If it was fulfilled at the time of the first coming, there is no 
obligation to believe that it will be fulfilled again at the end 
of the world. This point of view, then, is uncertain even if it 
is true, and we should neither deny nor assume that it will 
be so. It remains, then, that if anyone wishes to insist on 
believing that the prophecy is to be fulfilled at the end of 
the world, he should exert himself to the best of his ability 
and prove, if he can, that it was not fulfilled at the first 
coming of the Lord, contrary to the teachings of so many 
expounders of the divine writings, who prove that it was 
fulfilled, not only by reckoning the time, but also by the 
very circumstances of it. Especially do they adduce what is 
written in the prophecy: c The Saint of saints shall be 
anointed/ or, as the Hebrew versions of the same prophecy 
say more explicitly: 'Christ shall be slain and shall not be 
theirs/ 1 that is, He will not belong to their city because He 
was cast off by the Jews who did believe that He was their 
Saviour and Redeemer, and therefore it was possible for them 
to kill Him. But Christ is not to be anointed or killed at the 

1 Dan. 9.24,26. 



LETTERS 373 

end of the world, which prevents us from believing that this 
prophecy of Daniel is not yet fulfilled but that its fulfillment 
is to be looked for then. 

Chapter 22 

Considering the signs mentioned by Gospel and prophecy 
which we see happening, would anyone deny that we ought to 
hope for the proximate coming of the Lord? Manifestly, it is 
nearer and nearer every day. But the exact span of the 
nearness, that, as we said, 'is not for you to know.' Notice 
when the Apostle said this: Tor our salvation is nearer than 
when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand,' 1 
and look how many years have passed! Yet, what he said 
was not untrue. How much more probable is it to say now 
that the coming of the Lord is near when there has been 
such an increase of time toward the end! Certainly, the 
Apostle said: The Spirit manifestly saith that in the last 
times some shall depart from the faith. 32 Obviously, those were 
not yet the times of heretics such as he describes them in the 
same sentence, but they have now come. According to this, 
we seem to be in the last times and the heretics seem to be a 
warning of the end of the world. Likewise, he says in another 
place: 'Know also this: that in the last days shall come on 
savage times' or, as another version has it: dangerous times 
and then he describes what they will be like, saying: 'Men 
shall be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, haughty, proud, 
blasphemous, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, wicked, ir- 
religious, without affection, slanderers, incontinent, unmerci- 
ful, without kindness, traitors, stubborn, blind, lovers of 
pleasures more than of God, having an appearance of godli- 
ness but denying the power thereof.' I wonder if such men 



1 Rom. 13.11,12. 

2 1 Tim. 4.1. 



374 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

have ever been lacking. Finally, he goes on and speaks of them 
as they then were: 'Now these avoid, for of these are they 
who creep into houses.' He does not say: 'they will creep,' 
as he said above: 'there will come on dangerous times,' but 
he says: they creep into houses and lead captive silly women' f 
he does not say: 'they will lead' or 'they are likely to lead/ 
but they now lead. 

Chapter 23 

We are not to think that in this passage he used his verbs 
in the present tense for the future, because, in fact, he was 
warning his correspondent to avoid these persons. Yet, he 
had a purpose in saying: 'In the last times shall come on 
dangerous days/ and he proved that the times will be 
dangerous by prophesying that men will be such, if for no 
other reason than because they will be more and more 
numerous as the end draws near. We see that they are nu- 
merous at present. But what "does that signify if they will be 
even more numerous after us and most numerous of all when 
the end itself is imminent, although it is not known how far 
off it is? Indeed, those last days were spoken of even in the 
first days of the Apostles when the Lord's Ascension into 
heaven was a recent happening; when on the day of Pentecost 
He had sent the promised Holy Spirit; when some were 
amazed and wondered at men speaking tongues which they 
had not learned, while others mocked, saying that they were 
full of new wine. 1 On that day, Peter, speaking to those who 
were variously affected by this portent, said: Tor these are 
not drunk, as you suppose, seeing that it is but the third 
hour of the day. But know you that this is that which was 

3 2 Tim. 3.1-6. 
1 Acts 2.1-14. 



LETTERS 375 

spoken of by the Prophet: It shall come to pass in the last 
days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all 
flesh,' 2 and the rest. 

Chapter 24 

Therefore, there were last days even then ; how much more 
now, even if there remained as many days to the end as 
have already passed from the Ascension of the Lord to this 
day, or even if there remain something over, more or less! 
Manifestly, we do not know this, because it is not for us c to 
know the times which the Father hath put in his own power/ 
although we do know that we, like the Apostles, are living 
in last times, last days, a last hour, and this is much more so 
of those who lived after them and before us, much more so 
of us, and much more of those who will come after us than 
of us, until the time comes, so to speak, of the last, and finally 
of that very last moment which the Lord referred to when 
He said : 'And I will raise him up in the last day. 31 But how 
far off that is cannot be known. 



Chapter 25 

The future signs, which, as your Holiness remarked, are 
foretold in the Gospel according to Luke, are the same as 
those in Matthew and Mark. 1 These three tell what the 
Lord said in answer to His disciples who had asked when 
the events which He had foretold of the destruction of the 
Temple would come to pass, and what was to be the sign of 

2 Acts 2.15-17; Joel 2.28. 

1 John 6.40. 

1 Matt. 24.4-35; Mark 13.5-29. 



376 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

His coming and of the end of the world. 2 There is no dis- 
crepancy in the Gospels as to facts, although one tells one 
detail which another passes over or describes differently; 
rather, they supplement each other when compared, and 
thus give direction to the mind of the reader. But it would 
take too long to discuss them all now. To their questions the 
Lord replied by telling what was to happen from that time 
on, whether of the destruction of Jerusalem, which had given 
rise to their inquiry, or of His coming in the Church in which 
He does not cease to come until the end for He is recognized 
when He comes to His own, while His members are daily 
born, and of this coming He said: 'Hereafter you shall see 
the Son of man coming in the clouds,' 3 of which clouds the 
Prophet said : C I will command my clouds not to rain upon it* 4 

or, finally, of the end itself at which He will appear c to 

judge the living and the dead.' 5 



Chapter 26 

Since He gives the signs which refer to these three events, 
that is, to the destruction of the city, to His coming in His 
body which is the Church, 1 and to His coming in His own 
Person as the head of the Church, it requires careful con- 
sideration to distinguish which of these signs refer to each 
of these three. Otherwise, we might think that the signs 
which belong to the destruction of Jerusalem are to be re- 
ferred to the end of the world; or, on the other hand, we 
might assert that what refers to the end of the world is a 
prophecy of the destruction of the city; or we might say that 

2 Matt. 24.1-3; Mark 13.1-4; Luke 21.5-7. 

3 Matt. 26.64. 

4 Isa. 5.6. 

5 2 Tim. 4.1. 

1 Eph. 1.22,23; Col. 1.24. 



LETTERS 



377 



what points to His coming in His body which is the Church 
is a sign of His last coming in His Body which is the head of 
the Church; or, again, we might affirm that what refers to 
His final coming in person belongs to that coming which is in 
the Church. In all these details, some are plain, but others are 
so obscure that it would either be hard to distinguish them or 
rash to pronounce on them so long as they are not understood. 



Chapter 27 

Anyone can see that when He says: 'When you shall see 
Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that 
the desolation thereof is at hand/ 1 He refers to that city. 
Again, anyone can see that these words refer to the last 
coming of the Lord when He says: 'When you shall see 
these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is 
at hand.' 2 But, when He says: 'Woe to them that are with 
child and that give suck in those days. But pray that your 
flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath, for there shall 
be great tribulation, such as hath not been seen from the 
beginning of the world, neither shall be,' 3 this passage is so 
phrased in Matthew and Mark that it is uncertain whether 
it is to be understood of the destruction of the city or of the 
end of the world. It reads this way in Mark: 'And woe to 
them that are with child and that give suck in those days. 
But pray ye that these things happen not in winter. For in 
those days shall be such tribulations as were not from the 
beginning of the creation which God created until now, 
neither shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those 
days, no flesh shall be saved; but for the sake of the elect 

1 Luke 21.20. 

2 Luke 21.31. 

3 Matt. 24.19-21. 



378 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

which he hath chosen he hath shortened the days.' 4 This is 
not different from Matthew. But Luke has so arranged it 
that it seems to refer to the destruction of that city, for It 
reads thus in his Gospel: 'But woe to them that are with 
child and give suck in those days, for there shall be great 
distress in the land and wrath upon this people; and they 
shall fall by the edge of the sword and shall be led away 
captives into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down 
by the Gentiles till the times of the nations be fulfilled. 55 



Chapter 28 

But in the passage which precedes this, Matthew writes 
thus: 'When therefore you shall see the abomination of 
desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand- 
ing in the holy place, he that readeth, let him understand. 
Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains, 
and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to 
take anything out of his house, and he that is in the field, 
let him not go back to take his coat. But woe to them that 
are with child and that give suck in those days. 91 Mark has 
it thus: 'And wh^n you shall see the abomination standing 
where it ought not, he that readeth, let him understand. Then 
let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains, and let 
him that is on the house-top not go down into the house nor 
enter therein to take anything out of the house, and let him 
that shall be in the field not turn back to take up his garment. 
But woe to them that are with child and that give suck in 
those days, 52 and the rest. But Luke, in order to show that the 

4 Mark 13.17-20. 

5 Luke 21.23,24. 

1 Matt. 24.15-19; Dan. 9.27. 

2 Mark 13.14-17. 



LETTERS 379 

abomination of desolation which had been foretold by Daniel, 
would come to pass when Jerusalem was besieged, relates 
the words of the Lord in the same passage: 'And when you 
shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know 
that the desolation thereof is at hand. 5 Thus, the abomination 
of desolation of which those two Evangelists had spoken 
appears in this connection. Finally, he continues in the same 
strain as they: Then let those that are in Judea flee to the 
mountains,' but, instead of saying as they do: c He that is on 
the house-top, let him not go down into the house nor enter 
therein to take anything out of the house, 5 he says: 'And let 
those that are in the midst thereof depart out,' to show that 
by those words of the other Evangelists haste in flight had 
been commanded. And instead of what they said: 'And let 
him that shall be in the field not turn back to take up his 
garment, 5 he says more plainly: 'And let those who are in 
the countries not enter into it, for these are the days of 
vengeance that all things may be fulfilled that are written/ 
Then he continues in the same way, so that it is quite clear 
that this passage of the Gospel refers to the same thing in all 
three : 'But woe to them that are with child and give suck in 
those days,' and the other words which bear on this point as 
I have already remarked above. 3 



Chapter 29 

Thus, Luke made clear what could have been uncertain, 
that what was said of the abomination of desolation referred 
to the siege of Jerusalem, not to the end of the world; and 
also what was said about the shortening of the days for the 
sake of the elect, for, although he himself did not say exactly 
that, he did say other things quite plainly about this, by which 

3 Luke 21.20-23. 



380 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

he showed that the other two were referring to it. We must not 
doubt that there were elect of God among that people when 
Jerusalem was destroyed, men of the circumcision who had 
become or were about to become believers, chosen before the 
foundation of the world, for whose sake those days were 
shortened that the evils might be bearable. Some com- 
mentators, it seems to me, have aptly held that the evils 
mentioned are signified by the word 'days', as days are spoken 
of as evil in various places of the divine Scripture; 1 not that 
the days themselves are evil, but that what happens on them 
is evil. Therefore, they were said to be shortened because when 
God gave endurance they were felt less, and thus what was 
great became brief. 

Chapter 30 

But, whether that shortening of days is to be taken in 
that sense, because either they were reduced in number or 
they were shortened by a swifter course of the sun there 
are some who think that days will be shorter in the future, 
as the day became longer at the prayer of Josue, 1 the 
Evangelist Luke showed that this shortening of days and 
abomination of desolation referred to the destruction of 
Jerusalem, although he did not speak of both of them, while 
Matthew and Mark did; and he did this by adding other 
details to make it plainer, whereas they had spoken more 
obscurely. Josephus, who wrote a history of the Jews, 2 says 
that the evils which then befell that people are scarcely 
believable. Consequently, it is correct to say that such 
tribulation has not been since the beginning of creation, nor 
shall be. Even if there shall be such, or possibly greater, 

1 a. Ps. 40.2; 48.6. 

1 Josue 10.12-14. 

2 Flavins Josephus (37-94) , History of the Jewish War 6.3.3. 



LETTERS 381 

tribulation in the time of Antichrist, what is here said must 
be referred to the Jewish people, that such or greater 
tribulation will not befall them, for, if they are the first and 
foremost to receive Antichrist, that people will rather cause 
than suffer tribulation. 

Chapter 31 

There is no reason, then, for us to think that the weeks of 
the Prophet Daniel were either falsified by the shortening of 
the days or were not fully completed, but that they are to be 
completed at the end of the world; for they were not com- 
pleted before the Passion of the Lord. Those who think this 
are correctly refuted by your pronouncement in which you 
said: c lf, then, the abomination has come to pass, how does 
the Lord warn us, saying: "When you shall see the abomina- 
tion of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the 
prophet standing in the holy place, he that readeth let him 
understand"?' These words of your Blessedness ought to set 
right those who say that this prophecy had been fulfilled when 
the Lord spoke, even before His Passion and Resurrection. 
Those who say, as the Evangelist Luke bears witness most 
plainly, that it came to pass when Jerusalem was destroyed, 
ought to see what answer to make to those who think it will 
happen at the end of the world or near the end. However, 
this abomination of desolation is such an obscure saying 
that it could be understood by men in more than one way. 



Chapter 32 

In regard to the saying, 'He that is on the house-top, let 
him not come down to take anything out of his house, and 
he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat,' 



382 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

it can be suitably taken in a spiritual sense, namely, that in 
all our trials each one must take care not to be overcome or 
to come down from a spiritual height to a carnal life;^or 
that he who had progressed should not look back by turning 
toward the past or failing to reach out to the future. But, if 
this is true of every trial, how much greater care must be 
prescribed in a trial such as that foretold for the city: 'Such 
as hath not been from the beginning, neither shall be' ; and if 
for that, how much more still for that final tribulation which 
is to come upon the whole world, that is, the Church spread 
through the whole world! It is true that Luke does not 
connect this with the time when the Lord was questioned 
about His coming, as Matthew and Mark do, but he puts it 
in another place where the Pharisees had asked Him when 
the kingdom of God would come, and he relates that the 
Lord said something similar: c ln that hour, 5 He said, 'he 
that shall be on the house-top and his goods in the house, 
let him not go down to take them away, and he that shall 
be in the field, in like manner let him not return back.' 1 



Chapter 33 

But we are now dealing with the reckoning of time 
according to the weeks of Daniel, and if they were not 
completed about the time of the first coming of the Lord, 
and they are to be completed at the end, who could believe 
that the Apostles did not know this, or that they did know 
it but were forbidden to teach it? Of course, if this is the case, 
it is useful for the Gentiles not to know what the Lord forbade 
those whom He chose as teachers of the Gentiles to teach 
them. But, if those weeks have been completed, because the 
Saint of saints has been anointed, Christ has been slain, the 

1 Luke 17.31. 



LETTERS 



383 



sacrifice has been taken away, and the anointing has been 
taken away, 1 then, when the Apostles asked about the end 
of the world, the answer given was correct: 'It is not for 
you to know the times which the Father hath put in his 
own power, 3 since the times which they could know from the 
prophecy of Daniel did not refer to the end of the world 
about which they had asked. 



Chapter 34 

Have we, then, seen greater signs in heaven and on earth 
than have those who came before us? If we read the history 
of the nations, are not such portents found to have happened 
in heaven and on earth that some are not even credible? To 
pass over others which it would take too long to go into, 
when have we seen two suns, as those who lived before the 
Lord's coming in the flesh saw and described in writing? 
When have we seen the sun darkened as it was darkened when 
the Light of the world hung upon the cross? Unless, perhaps, 
we are to include among celestial portents eclipses of the sun 
and moon which astronomers have been wont to calculate and 
predict, because we have seen the full moon eclipsed fairly 
often, but the sun more rarely and in the dark of the moon, 
according to their reckoning. But there was no such eclipse 
of the sun when Christ was crucified, and therefore it was a 
miraculous and portentous happening. It happened, indeed, 
at the Pasch of the Jews, which was celebrated only at the 
full moon; now, according to the calculations of the astro- 
nomers, it is an assured fact that the sun cannot be eclipsed 
when the moon is full, and it does not always suffer eclipse 
when the moon is dark, but, according to the same calcula- 
tions, it never does so at any other time. Therefore, if such 

1 Dan. 9.24,26,27 (Septuagint) . 



384 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

prodigies appear if they are not rather to be taken in a 
spiritual sense they will appear when the end is so near 
that they must necessarily appear. 



Chapter 35 

As to wars, when has the earth not been scourged by them 
at different periods and places? To pass over too remote 
history, when the barbarians were everywhere invading Ro- 
man provinces in the reign of Gallienus, 1 how many of our 
brothers who were then alive do we think could have believed 
that the end was near, since this happened long after the 
Ascension of the Lord! Thus, we do not know what the 
nature of those signs will be when the end is really near at 
hand, if these present ones have not been so foretold that they 
should at least be understood in the Church. Certainly, there 
are two nations and two kingdoms, namely, one of Christ, the 
other of the Devil, of which it was possible to say: 'Nation 
shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,' 2 
which has not ceased to be the case since the words were 
uttered: Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at 
hand. sn Notice when that was said, and how many years have 
passed since that time, yet it was said with perfect truth. 
For in those last days the Lord came by the Virgin, and that 
would not be called the last hour 4 unless the kingdom of 
heaven were at hand, and so those things which the Lord 
predicted would happen at the approach of His kingdom 
do happen throughout this whole hour. As to how long a 
time this hour is to last, if it was said to the Apostles: 'It is 
not for you to know, 5 how much more should any mere man 

1 Emperor from 260 to 268. 

2 Mark 13.8; Matt. 24.7; Luke 21.10. 

3 Matt. 3.2: 4.17. 

4 Cf. 1 John 2.18. 



LETTERS 385 

such as I am recognize his limitations: 'not to be more wise 
than it behooveth to be wise!' 5 



Chapter 36 

But, you say, our very suffering forces us to admit that the 
end is at hand when there is a fulfillment of what was 
foretold: { Men withering away for fear and expectation of 
what shall come upon the whole world. 5 c lt is plain,' you say, 
'that there is no country, no place in our time which is not 
harassed or humbled according to the words, "for fear and 
expectation of what shall come upon the whole world." ' If, 
then, these evils which the human race now suffers are clear 
signs that the Lord is about to come now, what becomes of 
the Apostle's words: 'When they shall say: Peace and 
security'? 1 For, when the Gospel said: 'Men withering away 
for fear and expectation,' it went on at once: 'For the 
powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall they see 
the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and 
majesty.' 2 

Chapter 37 

Let us therefore see whether, perhaps, a better under- 
standing of the things which are foretold in those words may 
not show that they are not being fulfilled now but are rather 
to come at a time when there will be tribulation in the whole 
world, so as to refer to the Church which will suffer tribula- 
tion throughout the world, but not to those who will afflict 
the Church. For these latter will say: 'Peace and security/ 

5 Rom. 12.3. 

1 1 Thess. 5.3. 

2 Luke 21.26,27. 



386 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

so that sudden destruction will come upon them and the 
coming of the Lord will overtake them as a thief in the 
night, while, on the other hand, those who love the mani- 
festation of the Lord will rejoice and exult. But we see that 
these present evils which are considered so supreme and 
ultimate are common to both nations and both kingdoms, 
that is, of Christ and of the Devil; both good and bad are 
afflicted by them and there is no one to say: Teace and 
security'; everywhere, disasters happen or there is fear that 
they will happen. Yet, in the midst of these misfortunes, there 
are still people crowding to luxurious banquets, drunkenness 
is rife, avarice plies its trade, wanton songs shrill out, there 
are organs, flutes, lyres, harps, dice, many and various kinds 
of sound and spectacles* Is this withering away with fear and 
not, rather, reeking with lust? But those sons of darkness 
shall possess goods and shall use them more amply when 
they shall say: Teace and security. 5 



Chapter 38 

But what of the very children of light and children of the 
day, that that day should overtake them as a thief? 1 Do 
they not still 'use this world as if they used it not, 5 because 
they think with pious care of the saying: The time is short,' 2 
even though this was said many years ago, in the times of the 
Apostles? Do not the majority of them still set out vines, 
build, buy, possess, hold offices, marry wives? I speak of 
those 'who wait for their lord when he shall return from the 
wedding, 33 and who, although they do not refrain from 
carnal marriage, hearken, with obedient love, to the Apostle 

1 1 Thess. 5.4,5. 

2 1 Cor. 7.31,29. 

3 Luke 12.36. 



LETTERS 387 

teaching them how wives should live with their husbands, 
husbands with wives, children with parents, parents with 
children, slaves with masters, masters with slaves. 4 Do not 
all these use this world in all these ways? They cultivate land, 
they sail ships, they acquire goods, they beget children, they 
fight wars, they manage their affairs. I think they will not be 
doing so when, as the Gospel foretells: 'There shall be signs 
in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the 
earth distress of nations by reason of the roaring of the sea 
and of the waves; men withering away for fear and ex- 
pectation of what shall come upon the whole world, for the 
powers of heaven shall be moved.' 5 



Chapter 39 

I think it is better to apply these things to the Church so 
that the Lord Jesus may not seem to have predicted, for the 
approach of His second coming, a magnified form of what 
has been accustomed to happen in this world even before 
His first coming, and that, when we fall into a panic over 
present happenings as if they were the ultimate and extreme 
of all things, we may not be laughed at by those who have 
read of more and worse things in the history of the world. 
The Church is the sun and the moon and the stars, to which 
it was said: Tair as the moon, bright as the sun.' 1 By her 
our Joseph is adored in this world as in Egypt, when He is 
raised from humble to high estate. Certainly, his mother 
could not adore that other Joseph, since she died before 
Jacob came to his son; 2 therefore, the truth of that prophetic 

4 Eph. 5.22-6.9. 

5 Luke 21.25,26. 

1 Cant. 6.9. 

2 Gen. 35.19; 46.1-7; 37.9-11. 



388 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

dream was saved for its fulfillment in the Lord Christ. But, 
when 'the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not 
give her light, and the stars fall from heaven, and the powers 
of heaven shall be moved,' 3 as this passage is given by the 
other two Evangelists, the Church will not be manifest; for, 
when impious persecutors rage beyond measure, and when 
the fortune of this world seems to smile upon them and fear 
leaves them and they say: Teace and security,' then the 
stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall 
be moved, when many who seemed to shine brilliantly with 
grace will yield to the persecutors and will fall, and even the 
strongest of the faithful will be shaken. Now, according to 
Matthew and Mark it is said that this will happen 'after the 
tribulation of those days, 5 not because these things will 
happen after the whole persecution has come to an end, but 
because the tribulation will precede so that the falling away 
of some may follow, and because this will happen through 
all those days, it will happen "after the tribulation of those 
days,' yet it will be in the same days. 

Chapter 40 

By the words according to Luke, 'And upon the earth 
distress of nations/ He wishes us to understand, not the 
nations belonging to the seed of Abraham, 'in whom all 
nations shall be blessed,' 1 but the nations which shall stand 
on His left, 2 when all nations shall be gathered together before 
the Judge of the living and the dead. 3 In all nations there 

3 Matt. 24.29; Mark 13.24,25. 

1 Gen. 22.18; 26.4. 

2 Matt. 25.33,32. 

3 Acts 10.42. 



LETTERS 389 

will be two groups, one which oppresses, the other which is 
oppressed; one which says: Teace and security,' the other 
in which the sun is darkened and the moon does not give her 
light, from which the stars shall fall, and in which the powers 
of heaven are moved. 

Chapter 41 

'And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, 
with great power and majesty/ 1 As I see it, this could be 
taken in two ways: one, that He will come in the Church 
as in a cloud, as He continues to come now according to His 
word : 'Hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the 
right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds 
of heaven'; 2 and He comes with great power and majesty 
because His greater power and majesty will appear in the 
saints to whom He will give great power, so that they may 
not be overcome by such persecution. The other way in which 
He will come will be in His Body in which He sits at the 
right hand of the Father, 3 in which, also, He died and rose 
again and ascended into heaven, as it is written in the Acts 
of the Apostles: 'And when he had said these things, a 
cloud received him and he was taken up from their sight/ 
And because the angels said thereupon: 'He shall so come as 
you have seen him going away/ 4 we have reason to believe 
that He will come not only in the same Body but also in a 
cloud, since He will so come as He went away, and a cloud 
received Him as He went. 



1 Luke 21.27; Matt. 24.30; Mark 13.26. 

2 Matt. 26.64. 

3 Rom, 8.34; Mark 16-19; Col. 3.1. 

4 Acts 1.9,11. 



390 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

Chapter 42 

It is hard to decide which of these two views is preferable. 
The more ready sense would make anyone who hears or 
reads: 'And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a 
cloud with great power and majesty/ immediately under- 
stand it of His coming not in the Church but in His person, 
when He will come to judge the living and the dead. As the 
Scriptures are to be closely studied, and we are not to be 
satisfied with a general view of them, since they yield a 
changed meaning to our effort and demand a deeper insight, 
the sequence of passages must be carefully examined. For, 
when He had said: Then shall they see the Son of man 
coming in a cloud with great power and majesty/ He went 
on and said: 'But when these things begin to come to pass, 
look up and lift up your heads because your redemption is 
at hand. And he spoke to them a similitude : See the fig-tree 
and all the trees, when they now shoot forth their fruit, you 
know that summer is nigh. So also you, when you shall see 
these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is 
at hand. 51 Thus, when He says: 'When you shall see these 
things come to pass/ what else are we to think they are but 
the ones mentioned above? But among these is His prediction: 
'And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud 
with great power and majesty.' Consequently, when He is 
seen thus, it will not yet be the kingdom of God, but it will 
be near. 

Chapter 43 

We see that the other two Evangelists keep to the same 
order. In Mark, when He had said: 'And the powers that are 
in heaven shall be moved/ He said : c And then shall they see 

1 Luke 21.28-31. 



LETTERS 391 

the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and 
glory. 5 Then He adds something more than Luke had said: 
'And then shall he send his angels and shall gather together 
his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the 
earth to the uttermost part of heaven.' Then He mentions 
the fig-tree alone, where Luke had spoken of the fig-tree and 
other trees: 'Now of the fig-tree learn ye a parable: when 
the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves are come 
forth, you know that summer is very near; so you also, when 
you shall see these things come to pass, know ye that it is 
very nigh, even at the doors.' 1 What is the meaning of 'When 
you shall see these things come to pass' but the things which 
He spoke of above? And among these is that prediction: 
*And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the 
clouds with great power and glory.' Therefore, this will not 
actually be the end, but the end will then be very near. 



Chapter 44 

Or are we to say that not all the details mentioned above 
are to be included when He says : * When you shall see these 
things come to pass,' but that one of them, this one, for 
instance, is to be excepted, when He says: 'Then shall they 
see the Son of man coming,' and the rest? Certainly, that 
will be the end; it will not then be near. But Matthew 
makes it clear that everything mentioned is to be included 
without exception, for in his Gospel, after saying: The powers 
of heaven shall be moved,' he says: 'And then shall appear 
the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the 
tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of 
man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and 

1 Mark 13.25-29. 



392 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet and a 
great voice, and they shall gather together his elect from the 
four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the 
utmost bounds of them. And from the fig-tree learn a parable : 
When the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves come 
forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you 
shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the 
doors.' 1 

Chapter 45 

Therefore, we know that He is near when we see all of 
these things, not some of them; among which is this that the 
Son of man shall be seen coming, and He will send His 
angels, and He gathers together His elect from the four parts 
of the world, that is, from the whole world. He does this 
during the whole of this last hour, coming in His members 
as in the clouds, or in the whole Church itself, which is His 
Body, as in a cloud, 'bringing forth much fruit and growing 
over the whole world.' 1 This He does ever since He began 
to preach and to say: 'Do penance, for the kingdom of 
heaven is at hand.' 2 So, perhaps, if all the details of His 
coming which are mentioned by the three Evangelists are 
carefully compared and discussed, we may find that they 
refer to His daily coming in His Body, which is the Church; 
and of this coming He said: 'Hereafter you shall see the 
Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, 
and coming in the clouds of heaven 3 ; 3 with the exception 
of those passages in which His final coming in person, when 
c He shall judge the living and the dead,' is so promised by 

1 Matt. 24.29-33. 

1 Col. 1.6. 

2 Matt. 3.2; 4.17. 

3 Matt. 26.64; Mark 14.62. 



LETTERS 393 

Him that it is said to be at hand; and also the place at the 
end of His speech according to Matthew, where the final 
coming is so very evidently described, with certain signs by 
which He shows that its nearness is to be recognized. In 
Matthew His speech ends thus: 'And when the Son of man 
shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then 
shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty; and all nations shall 
be gathered together before him, 5 and the rest, up to the 
place where He says: 'And these shall go into everlasting 
punishment but the just into life everlasting.' 4 No one doubts 
that this is a prophecy of Christ's final coming and of the 
end of the world. As to the parable of the five wise and the 
five foolish virgins, 5 there are some who wish to teach and 
their contention is not to be slighted that it refers to Christ's 
present coming which is effected through the Church. These 
are things not to be lightly promised, lest something arise to 
offer a valid contradiction; and this is especially so because 
it has pleased God to test our minds by a kind of obscurity 
in the divine utterance, with the result, for those who deal 
with holy Scripture in matters of probability, that one is 
impressed more deeply by one passage another by another; 
and it may even happen to any one of them that he has 
more understanding at one time, less at another. 



Chapter 46 

However, I do not know whether we can discover anything 
more definite on this question supposing we can do so by 
any ability of reasoning than what I wrote in my previous 
letter about the time when the whole world will be filled 
with the Gospel. I have not proved by sure authorities what 

4 Matt. 25.31.32,46. 

5 Matt. 25.1-12. 



394 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

your Reverence thinks, namely, that this has already been 
brought about by the Apostles themselves. For there are 
among us, that is, in Africa, innumerable barbarian tribes 
among whom the Gospel has not yet been preached. We 
learn this by the daily evidence before our eyes of those who 
are taken captive from there, and are now subjected to 
slavery by the Romans. Nevertheless, a few years ago, some 
of them, but very few and far between, made their peace 
and were joined to Roman territory, so that they have no 
kings of their own, and are governed by Roman authority 
through prefects who are set over them, and these same 
prefects began about then to be Christians. Those in the 
interior, however, who are not under Roman authority are 
manifestly not in contact with the Christian religion in any 
of their members, yet it cannot rightly be said that the 
promise of God does not concern them, 

Chapter 47 

The Lord did not promise the Romans but all nations to 
the seed of Abraham, and He did this by means of an oath. 
According to this promise, it has already come to pass that 
some nations, not held under Roman power, have received 
the Gospel and have been joined to the Church which brings 
forth fruit and grows throughout the whole world. It still 
has room to bring forth fruit and grow until the fulfillment 
of the prophecy made of Christ under the figure of Solomon: 
c He shall rule from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends 
of the earth 7 ; 1 c from the river,' that is, where He was 
baptized, 2 because from there He began to preach the Gospel; 
but 'from sea to sea 5 means the whole earth with all its 



1 Ps. 71.8. 

2 Matt. 3.13-16; Mark 1.9. 



LETTERS 395 

inhabitants, because the universe is surrounded by the Ocean 
sea. But how otherwise shall this prophecy be fulfilled: 'All 
the nations, as many as thou hast made, shall come and adore 
before thee, O Lord?' 3 For they shall not come by moving 
from their own lands, but by believing in God in their own 
lands. Doubtless, it was of believers that the Lord said: c No 
man can come to me unless it be given him by my Father,' 4 
but the Prophet says: 'And they shall adore him, every man 
from his own place, all the islands of the Gentiles.' 5 'All the 
islands,' he said, as if to say 'even all the islands,' showing 
by this that no part of the earth is excluded from having the 
Church, since none of the islands is left out, some of which 
are found in the Ocean, and of these we have heard that 
some have already received the Gospel. Thus, in some single 
islands there is a fulfillment of what was said: 'He shall rule 
from sea to sea': the sea by which every single island is 
surrounded, as is the case of the whole world, which is, in a 
sense, the greatest island of all because the Ocean also girds it 
about. It is to some of its shores in the West that we know 
the Church has come, and whatever shores it has not yet 
reached it will eventually reach, bringing forth fruit and 
growing. 

Chapter 48 

If, then, as the prophecy of truth cannot be falsified, it 
must needs be that all nations, as many as God has made, 
should adore Him, how shall they adore Him unless they 
call upon Him? But, 'how shall they call upon him in whom 
they have not believed? how shall they believe him of whom 
they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a 

3 Ps. 85.9. 

4 John 6.66. 

5 Soph. 2.11. 



SAINT AUGUSTINE 

preacher? and how shall they preach unless they be sent?' 1 
He sends His angels and gathers together His elect from the 
four winds, that is, from the whole world. Therefore, the 
Church must necessarily be found among the nations where 
it does not yet exist, but it does not necessarily follow that all 
who live there shall believe, for the promise was of all nations, 
not all men of all nations: 'for all men have not faith. 52 There- 
fore, each nation believes, among all 'who have been chosen 
before the foundation of the world/ 3 but among the rest 
none believe and they hate the believers. How else shall the 
prophecy, 'You shall be hated by all nations for my name's 
sake,' 4 be fulfilled, unless in all nations there are some 
who hate and some whom they hate? 



Chapter 49 

How, then, was that prophecy fulfilled by the Apostles, 
when there are still nations, as we are well assured, in which 
there is only a beginning and some in which there is not yet 
a beginning of fulfillment? It was not in this sense that He 
said to the Apostles: 'You shall be witnesses unto me in 
Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the 
uttermost part of the earth,' 1 as if they alone to whom He 
spoke were to carry such a task to completion; similarly, He 
seemed to say to them alone the words: 'Behold I am with 
you even to the consummation of the world,' 2 yet who does 
not know that He made this promise to the universal Church, 

1 Rom. 10.14,15. 

2 2 Thess. 3.2. 

3 Eph. 1.4. 

4 Matt. 24.9,10,22; Mark 13.13; Luke 21.17. 

1 Acts 1.9. 

2 Matt. 28.20. 



which will last from now even to the consummation of the 
world by successive births and deaths? So, also, He told 
them something which does not concern them exclusively, yet 
It was said as if it did concern them alone : c When you shall 
see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the 
doors, 93 yet whom does it concern if not those who will be 
alive when all things are fulfilled? How much more is this 
true of what was to be in large part carried out by them, 
although the same activity was reserved for their successors! 



Chapter 50 

As to the Apostle's saying: 'Have they not heard? Their 
sound hath gone forth into all the earth,' 1 although he used 
his verbs in the past tense, he spoke of what was going to be, 
not of what was over and past, just as the Prophet whom he 
adduces as witness did not say: 'Their sound will go forth 
into all the earth,' but, c it hath gone forth.' Yet, it is certain 
that this had not yet happened, just as in the case of that 
other phrase, They have dug my hands and feet,' 2 we know 
that it came to pass long afterward. Lest we should believe 
that those were only prophetic utterances not apostolic ones, 
did not the same Apostle say: 'Which is the church of the 
living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And evidently 
great is the mystery of godliness which was manifested in the 
flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels, hath 
been preached unto the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is 
taken up in glory'? 3 Surely it is clear that what he said at 

3 Matt. 24.33; Mark 13.29. 

1 Rom. 10.18; PJL 18.5. 

2 Ps. 21.17. 

3 1 Tim. 3.15,16. 



398 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

the end has not yet been fulfilled, even in our time; how 
much less when he said it ! Manifestly, it is the Church that 
will be taken up in glory when He says: 'Come, ye blessed 
of my Father, possess you the kingdom,' 4 yet what he spoke 
of as if it had taken place was certainly recognized as some- 
thing still to come. 

Chapter 51 

It is much less surprising that he used his verbs in the 
present tense in that passage which, as you remarked, he 
repeated again and again: Tor the hope which is laid up 
for you in heaven, which you have heard before in the word 
of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you as also 
it is in the whole world, and bringeth forth fruit and 
groweth,' 1 although the Gospel did not yet embrace the 
whole world, he said that it brings forth fruit and grows in 
the whole world, in order to show how far it would extend 
in bearing fruit and growing. If, then, it is hidden from us 
when the whole world will be filled by the Church bringing 
forth fruit and growing, undoubtedly it is hidden from us 
when the end will be, but it certainly will not be before that. 



Chapter 52 

So, then, that I may disclose to you as to a holy man of 
God and a most sincere brother what I think on this matter, 
there is error to be avoided on both sides as far as it can 
be avoided by man that is, whether we believe that the 
Lord will come sooner or later than He actually will come. 
However, it seems to me that a man does not go wrong when 

4 Matt. 25.34. 



LETTERS 399 

he knows that he does not know something, but only when 
he thinks he knows something which he does not know. Let 
us therefore remove from our midst that evil servant who 
says in his heart: 'My lord is long a-coming,' and who 
tyrannizes over his fellow servants and spends his time re- 
veling with drunkards, 1 for without any doubt such a one 
hates the coming of his Lord. So, when we have removed 
this evil servant, let us set before our eyes three good servants 
who manage the Lord's family with care and moderation, 
who ardently long for the coming of their Lord with watchful 
care and faithful love. One of them thinks the Lord will 
come sooner, another later, while the third admits his own 
ignorance on this matter. Although all are in agreement with 
the Gospel because all love the manifestation of the Lord, 
and wait for it longingly and watchfully, let us see which one 
is in closest agreement. 

Chapter 53 

The first says: 'Let us watch and pray because the Lord 
will come soon'; the second says: 'Let us watch and pray 
because this life is short and uncertain, although the Lord 
delays to come'; the third says: 'Let us watch and pray 
because this life is short and uncertain and we do not know 
the time when the Lord will come' ; the Gospel says : 'Take ye 
heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is.' 1 
I ask you what else do we hear the third one saying but 
what we hear the Gospel saying? All, indeed, in their great 
desire for the kingdom of God wish the first one's thought to 
be true, but the second one denies this, while the third does 
not deny either of them but confesses that he does not know 
which of them speaks truly. Therefore, if the first one's 

1 Matt. 24.48,49. 



1 Mark 13.33. 



400 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

prediction comes true, the second and third will rejoice with 
him, for all love the manifestation of the Lord, and because 
they love Him they will rejoice at His more speedy coming. 
But if it does not come to pass, and it begins to look as if the 
view of the second is more likely to be the true one, there is 
reason to fear that those who believed what the first had 
said may be troubled at the intervening delay and may begin 
to think that the Lord's coming is not so much delayed as 
non-existent. You can see how much damage to souls that 
means. But, if these should be possessed of such great faith 
that they turn to the teaching of the second, and await the 
Lord's coming, however late, with fidelity and patience, 
there will still be an abundance of taunts and insults and 
mockeries on the part of enemies who may turn many weak 
members from the Christian faith by saying that the promise 
made to them of the kingdom is as spurious as the prophecy 
of His speedy coming. On the other hand, those who believe 
what the second one says, that the Lord's coming will be 
delayed, will not be troubled in faith if it is proved false by 
the Lord's speedy coming, but they will experience an 
unexpected joy. 

Chapter 54 

Consequently, the one who says that the Lord will come 
soon speaks of what is more desirable, but he is wrong at his 
peril. Would that it were true, because it will be a cause of 
trouble if it is not true ! But the one who says that the Lord's 
coming will be delayed, and who nevertheless believes in, 
hopes for, and loves His coming, is happily in error if he is 
wrong about His delay. He will have greater patience if it is 
so; greater joy if it is not. Thus, for those who love the 
manifestation of the Lord, it is sweeter to listen to the first, 
safer to believe the second. But the one who admits that he 



LETTERS 401 

does not know which of these views is true hopes for the 
one, is resigned to the other, is wrong in neither of them. I 
beg you not to despise me for being such a one, because I 
love you when you affirm what I wish to be true. At the 
same time I am the more anxious that you should not be 
deluded the more I love what you promise, and the more I 
see the danger if you are wrong. Pardon me if I have been 
irksome to your holy feelings, but because it happens so 
seldom I take pleasure in speaking with you at greater length, 
at least through letters. 



200. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to Valerius^ his 

distinguished lord and justly renowned son, most 

dear in the love of Christ (End of 418 or 

beginning of 419) 

I had been feeling downcast for a long time because I had 
written so often and had not deserved any answer from your 
Highness, when suddenly I received three letters from your 
Benignity, one not addressed to me individually, but given to 
me by my fellow bishop, Vindemialis, 2 and, not long after- 
ward, two brought by my fellow priest, Firmus. 3 That holy 
man, bound to us by ties of most intimate friendship, as you 
may have heard from him, spoke to us at length about your 
Excellency, and described you so truthfully, as he knows you 
'in the bowels of Christ,' 4 that he surpassed not only the 
letters brought me from the above-mentioned bishop and by 
himself, but even those we had complained of not receiving. 
And his account of you was all the more agreeable because 

1 Count of Africa, a devout Christian and strong defender of orthodoxy 
against heresy. Cf., also, Letter 206. 

2 Not otherwise known. 

3 Cf. Letters 113, 134, 191, and 194, 

4 Phil. 1.8. 



402 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

he told me things you could not write back to me even if I 
asked them, for fear of being a preacher of your own praises, 
which holy Scripture forbids. 5 In fact, I am almost afraid 
to write these things to you, distinguished lord, justly re- 
nowned son, most dear in the love of Christ, lest I incur the 
suspicion of flattering you. 

Imagine, then, what pleasure and joy it was to me to hear 
your praises in Christ, or, rather, the praises of Christ in you, 
from one who could not deceive me because of his trust- 
worthiness nor fail to know you because of his friendship. We 
have also heard other details from others not such full or 
reliable information, but still worth while how sound and 
Catholic your faith is; how devout your hope of the world 
to come; what love you have for God and your brothers; how 
lowly of mind you are in your high offices; how your hope 
is not in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God; how 
rich in good works you are; 6 what a rest and refuge your 
home is for the faithful, and what a terror for evil-doers; 
what care you take to prevent any of His old or newer 
enemies from cloaking themselves with the name of Christ, yet 
how well you provide for the salvation of these same enemies, 
while fighting their error. These and other such things, as I 
said, I am accustomed to hear from others, also, but now I 
have learned them in fuller and more authentic detail from 
the above-mentioned brother. 

Moreover, in the matter of conjugal chastity, how could 
I hear of that, too, so as to be able to praise and love it in 
you, save from someone on intimate terms with you, who 
knew your life inside and out? I, too, should love to speak 
with you more familiarly and more at length about this virtue 
of yours which is God's gift. I know I shall not tire you if I 
send you something comprehensive which may keep you 

5 Prov. 27.2. 

6 1 Tim. 6.17,18. 



LETTERS 403 

longer with me as you read it. For I have also learned that 
among your many and great cares you are ready and willing to 
read my modest works, and that you take considerable plea- 
sure in them when they happen to come into your hands, 
even when they are not addressed to you. How much more 
likely is it that you will receive with pleasure one addressed 
to yourself 7 in which I speak to you as if you were present, 
and that you will kindly give it your close attention! From 
this letter, then, pass on to the book which I am sending 
with it; in its introduction it will inform you more adequately 
both why it was written and why it is especially sent to you. 



201. The august Emperors, Honorius and Theodosius? give 
greeting to Bishop Aurelius^ (June 419) 

It had been decreed some time ago that Pelagius and 
Caelestius, inventors of an unspeakable doctrine, should be 
expelled from the city of Rome as sources of contamination 
to Christian unity, lest by their vile persuasion they should 
seduce untutored minds. In this our Clemency followed the 
verdict of your Holiness, 3 according to which it was evident 
that they had been condemned unanimously after a just 
inquiry into their teaching. Whereas the deep-rooted evil of 
persistence in wrong requires a doubling of the law, we have 
recently sanctioned the decree that, if anyone who knows that 

7 Book 1 of the treatise on Marriage and Concupiscence. Augustine was 
accused by Julian of Eclanum, a Pelagian, of denying the divine 
institution of marriage. He then added a second book in refutation of 
the charge. 

1 This was Theodosius II, who had succeeded Arcadius in 403 as 
Emperor of the East, 

2 Archbishop of Carthage. 

3 Acts of the Synods of Milevis and Carthage in 416, confirmed by Pope 
Innocent I, and of the plenary Council of Carthage in 418, confirmed 
by Pope Zozimus, ivere promulgated by Aiirelius in Africa. 



404 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

they are in hiding in any part of the provinces delays to expel 
them or to inform on them, he is to be subject to the same 
penalty as being party to the offense. 

As a special means of curbing the obstinacy of certain 
bishops who either further their vile arguments by tacit con- 
sent or fail to stamp them out by public attack, it will be 
fitting, very dear and loving Father, that the authority of 
your Holiness continue as long as the Christian devotion of 
all is agreed on the abolition of this perverted heresy. There- 
fore, by the requisite written notices, your Holiness will make 
known to all who are to be informed that this decree has been 
enjoined on them by the decree of your Holiness, to the effect 
that all those who impiously persist in refusing to subscribe to 
the condemnation of the above-mentioned heretics, whereby 
their true mind is made known, are to be punished by the 
loss of their bishoprics, are to be expelled from the cities, 
and are to be shut off forever from communion with the 
Church. Whereas we ourselves, in accord with the Synod of 
Nicaea, 4 adore God with sincere confession, as the Creator of 
all things and the Source of our imperial power, your Holiness 
will not suffer men of that accursed sect, who draw up new 
and unheard of theories in secret treatises to the injury of 
religion, to conceal a sacrilege which has once been con- 
demned by public authority. One and the same guilt rests on 
those who connive by dissembling as well as on those who 
give dangerous support by not condemning the heresy. 

May the Divine Power keep you safe for many years, 
dearest and most loving Father. 5 

Given at Ravenna on the fifth day before the Ides of June. 6 

A notice to the same effect has been sent to the holy bishop, 
Augustine. 

4 Council of Nice, 325; the Nicene Creed is the summary of its conclusions. 

5 In another handwriting. 

6 June 9. 



LETTERS 405 

202. Jerome 1 gives greeting in Christ to Bishops Alypius and 

Augustine, his truly holy lords,- worthy of due 

respect with all affection (End of 419) 

The holy priest, Innocent, who is the bearer of this missive, 
did not deliver my letter of last year to your Worthiness, on 
the ground that he had no intention of returning to Africa. 
However, I thank God that it happened so, because it gave 
you a chance to overpower my silence by your letters. Every 
occasion is welcome to me which allows me to write to your 
Reverence, calling God to witness that if it were possible I 
would take the wings of a dove and fly to be enfolded in 
your embrace. This is always my sentiment because of your 
virtues, but it is especially so now that the heresy of Cae- 
lestius has been given its death blow on your initiative and 
by your combined efforts. 2 This heresy has so deeply infected 
the hearts of many that, even though they see themselves 
defeated and condemned, they do not eject the poison from 
their minds, but do the only thing left to them, which is to 
hate us through whom they think they have lost the freedom 
to teach heresy. 

As to your inquiry whether I have written in answer to 
the books of Annianus, 3 the self-styled deacon of Celenderis, 4 
who feeds copiously on the worthless words of another's 
blasphemy so as to serve them up again, you must know 
that it is only a short time since I received the books, copied 

1 This was Jerome's last letter to Augustine. He died the following year. 

2 Unfortunately not. Although Pelagius and Caelestius drop into 
oblivion after this condemnation, the heresy was carried on for many 
more years with unabated bitterness by Julian of Eclanum and his 
coterie. 

3 He had translated some homilies of St. John Chrysostom into Latin, 
giving them a heretical slant. Jerome seems to hint here that Pelagius 
was using him as a puppet to spread his errors after he himself had 
been reduced to silence. 

4 A town in Cilicia, 



406 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

on small sheets of paper and sent by our holy brother, the 
priest Eusebius, 5 and since then I have been in such grief over 
the increasing illness and death of your holy and venerable 
daughter, Eustochium, 6 that I was almost minded to cast 
them aside. For 'he sticks in the same old mud' 7 and says 
nothing new, with his tinkling words like coins given to a 
beggar. However, we have made a great effort to force him 
into the open, so that when he tries to answer my letter, he 
will betray himself and reveal his blasphemies to all. He 
makes profession in this work of everything he denied having 
said at the unfortunate Council of Diospolis. 8 It is no great 
task to answer such childish nursery rhymes. But, if the Lord 
grants me life, and I have a good number of secretaries, I 
will answer in a few carefully composed paragraphs, not for 
the purpose of giving a final blow to a dead heresy, but in 
order to show up his clumsiness and his blasphemy in my 
own words. It would be better for your Holiness to do this 
so that I may not be forced to praise my own work against 
the heretic. Our mutual saintly children, Albina, Pinianus 
and Melania, 9 send you sincere greetings. I am giving this 
note to the holy priest, Innocent, to deliver from holy Beth- 
lehem. Your granddaughter, 10 Paula, begs you to remember 
her in her grief, and sends you cordial greetings. 

May the mercy of Christ our Lord keep you safe, and 
mindful of me, truly holy lords, and fathers universally loved 
and revered. 

5 Not the Donatist bishop of Letters 34 and 35, but possibly a priest of 
Jerome's religious congregation. 

6 Daughter of Paula; cf. Letter 172 n. 6, 

7 Terence, Phormio 780. 

8 Ancient Lydda; cf. Letters 176 n. 19 and 179 n. 18. 

9 Cf. Letters 124, 125, and 126. 
10 In a purely religious sense. 



LETTERS 407 

202A. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to Optatus^ 
saintly lord, his sincerely loved and cherished 
brother and fellow bishop (Beginning of 420) 

The religious priest, Saturninus, 2 has brought me a letter 
from your Reverence in which you ask me most earnestly for 
something which I do not yet possess. You tell me frankly 
the reason why you do this, which is that you think I have 
had an answer long ago to my request for advice. If only 
I had! God forbid that I should cheat you of a share in 
this bounty, knowing as I do your eager anticipation. But 
behold, if you will believe it, my dearest brother, five years 
have gone by since I sent rny book 3 to the East, not out of 
presumption but for my own information, and thus far I 
have not deserved an answer with the solution of the 
question on which you want me to give a definite pronounce- 
ment, I would have sent you both if I had both. 

But it does not seem right to me to send to anyone or 
to publish what I have without the other which as yet I have 
not, lest he 4 may still possibly answer me as I greatly long 
to have him do, and may then be angry that my inquiry, 
worked out with intricate reasoning, had been passed around 
and become generally known without his answer, which I 
still do not despair of, and may think that I have acted out 
of boastfulness rather than of a desire to help. It would be as 
if I had been able to raise a question which he could not 
solve, when perhaps he can and should be given time in 
which to do it, for I know that he is engaged on other tasks 
of more importance, which should not suffer delay. 

That your Holiness may have some idea of this, also, give 

1 Bishop of Tingitana in Mauretania. Ci Letter 190. 

2 Cf. Letter 142. 

3 Letter 166, On the Origin of the Human Soul (written in 415) . 

4 Jerome, to whom he addressed Letter 165. 



408 SAINT AUGUSTINE 



your attention for a little to what he wrote me another year 5 
by a return bearer through whom I had written to him. 6 
I am copying from his letter into this one: I have/ he says, 
'been going through a difficult time when it has been better 
for me to keep silent than to speak; consequently, my studies 
have fallen off and, like Appius, rny speech has been a snarl. 
So I have not been able to seize this occasion to answer the 
two books which you dedicated to my name, learned books 
and brilliant, with the full splendor of eloquence; not that I 
think there is anything to criticize in them, but, according to 
the blessed Apostle: "Let every man abound in his own 
sense, one after this manner, another after that." Certainly, 
you have set forth and discussed with your profound mind all 
that can be said, drawing from the fount of sacred Scripture. 
But I ask your Reverence to leave me for a while to the 
praise of your genius. You and I carry on discussion with the 
intention of learning, but the envious and, especially, the 
heretics, if they see us holding different opinions, will conclude 
falsely that this comes from ill feeling between us. It is my 
fixed determination to love you, support you, cherish you, 
marvel at you, and defend your opinions as my own. Cer- 
tainly, in the dialogue which I published recently I made 
mention of your Blessedness, as was fitting; let us, then, make 
a greater effort to uproot this most baneful heresy from the 
Churches; a heresy which is always pretending to repent so 
as to have the chance of teaching in the Churches, because, if 
it came out into the full light of day, it would be driven out 
and would die/ 7 

Surely you see, venerable brother, that these words sent by 
one very dear to me, as an answer to my query, did not 
refuse that reply but made an excuse of the time, because he 
was obliged to expend his effort on other more urgent tasks. 



5 Letter 172, in 416. 

6 Orosius; cf. Letter 166. 

7 Letter 172. 



LETTERS 409 

You see, too, how kindly disposed he is toward me and how 
he warns against allowing the envious and, especially, heretics 
to conclude falsely that what we do for the purpose of 
learning with all due regard for charity and sincere friend- 
ship proceeds from ill feeling. Therefore, if men read the 
work of both of us, both the questions I raised and the 
answers he gave to the questions because it is also fitting 
that if the same question has been adequately explained I 
should give thanks for being enlightened there will be no 
slight advantage in having this come to the knowledge of 
many, so that those who come after us may not only know 
what they ought to think on this matter, which has been 
argued between us with careful discussion, but may also 
learn from our example, by the mercy and favor of God, how 
mutual discussion for the sake of inquiry may be carried on 
without injury to abiding charity. 

But if my treatise, in which a most obscure matter is read 
as a question only, without his answer, in which perhaps the 
solution will appear, should be made public and should be 
spread abroad, it might even reach those who, as the Apostle 
says, compare themselves with themselves, 8 and fail to under- 
stand the spirit in which we do what they cannot do in the 
same spirit. They do not see, either, my good will toward a 
friend whom I honor and hold dear for his mighty merits, 
since they do not see it as it is, but they describe it as it 
pleases them and as they suspect it to be, at the suggestion 
of their hatred. This is certainly something we ought to 
avoid as far as in us lies. 

But if in spite of our unwillingness the work which we do 
not wish to publish should become known to those whom we 
do not wish it to reach, what will be left to us but to bear 
it with resignation as the will of God? I ought not to have 
written to anyone what I wanted to keep secret forever. And 

8 2 Cor. 10.12. 



410 SAINT AUGU STINE 

if, which God forbid, through some accident or exigency he 
never answers it and it is circulated, it will be useful to readers 
because, even if they do not find what they are seeking, they 
will certainly find out how these matters are to be examined 
and how things not known are not to be rashly affirmed. 
And according to what they read there they will make it a 
point to consult whomever they can, not with contentious 
discord but with zealous charity, until they either find what 
they want or so sharpen their mind by the inquiry that they 
know when no further inquiry is to be made. But at present, 
as long as there is hope of a reply from the friend whom I 
have consulted, I do not think my consultation should be 
published, as least as far as it rests with me, and I would 
give the same advice to your Charity, although you not only 
asked for my work but earnestly desired me to send the 
appended answer of the one whom I consulted. I would 
certainly send it if I had it. But if, to borrow the words of 
your Holiness as you wrote in your letter, you are seeking the 
luminous demonstration of my wisdom, which the Author of 
light has added to my life, as you write, and you do not 
mean that consultation and inquiry of mine, because you 
think that the solution of the matter which I inquired of 
has come to me, and you are rather asking me to send that, 
I would do it if things were as you think. I admit that up to 
the present I have not discovered how the soul derives its sin 
from Adam, which it is not allowed us to doubt, without being 
itself derived from Adam, which is something to be carefully 
inquired into rather than rashly affirmed. 

Your letter has a reference to several elders and men trained 
by learned priests whom you were not able to bring to an 
understanding of your moderation and to an acceptance of 
a statement full of truth, but you do not explain what 
statement full of truth this is of yours which you could not 
bring the elders and the men trained by learned priests to 



LETTERS 411 

accept. For, if these elders held or hold to the teaching 
received from the learned priests, how has a rustic and ill- 
instructed band of clerics raised up trouble for you in the 
matters in which they had been instructed by learned priests? 
But, if these elders or the band of clerics have deviated 
through malice from the teaching received from the learned 
priests, they ought rather to be set right and to be restrained 
from strife and contention by their authority. Again, when 
you say that as a fledgling and inexperienced teacher you 
feared to break down the traditions of such great teachers 
and bishops, and that you shrank from winning men over 
to a better course for fear of doing an injustice to the dead, 
what else do you give us to understand but that those whom 
you wished to convert refused to assent to a fledgling and 
inexperienced teacher because they were unwilling to forsake 
the traditions of great and learned bishops now dead? For the 
present I say nothing of them, but I have an extreme desire 
to know that statement of yours which you say is full of 
truth, and I do not mean the statement itself but your 
assertion of it. 

You have made it sufficiently clear to me that you disagree 
with those who assert that all human souls are propagated 
and produced by successive generation from that one which 
was given to the first man, but by what reasoning or what 
evidences from the divine Scriptures you prove that this view 
is false I do not know, because your letter does not indicate it. 
Secondly, it is not quite clear to me as I read your letter, 
both the one you wrote previously to the brethren at Caesarea 
and the one you recently sent me, what view you hold in 
place of the one you disapprove; the only thing I see is that 
you believe, as you write, that God created, creates, and will 
create men, and that there is nothing in heaven or on earth 
which does not owe its existence and continuance to His 
creative act. Certainly, that is so true that no one should 



412 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

have any doubt of it. But you still have to explain from what 
sources God makes the souls which you say are not derived 
by generation: whether from something else and if that is 
so, what it is or entirely from nothing. God forbid that you 
should hold that opinion of Origen 9 and Priscillian 10 or any 
others who have the same idea, that souls are sent into earthly 
and mortal bodies in accord with their merits in a previous 
life. Apostolic authority is quite contrary to this opinion, where 
it speaks of Esau and Jacob and says that before they were 
born they had done nothing either good or evil. 11 Therefore, 
your opinion on this matter is partly if not wholly known to 
me, but the statement of it, that is, on what ground your 
opinion is to be taught as true, is altogether unknown to me. 
For that reason I asked you in my former letter 12 to be so 
kind as to send me the treatise On Faith which you mentioned 
having written, and of which you complained that some 
priest had deceitfully signed his name to it; and I ask it 
again now, as also that you tell me what Scriptural proof 
you were able to apply to the solution of this question. In 
you letter to the Caesareans you say that you were pleased 
that even secular judges recognized the whole approval of 
truth, that they were holding session in accord with a 
universal appeal and were scrutinizing everything that con- 
cerned the faith, and that the Divine Power, as you write, 
had granted them an outpouring of faith, so that they uttered 
a stronger protestation and assertion according to their views 
which your Mediocrity in comparison with them kept in 
memory with the authority of weighty evidence. It is this 
authority of weighty evidence which I most eagerly desire to 
know. 



9 Cf. Letter 40 n. 21. 

10 Cf. Letter 36 n, 65. 

11 Rom. 9.11. 

12 Letter 190. 



LETTERS 413 

Certainly you seem to have followed up only one reason 
by which you refute your opponents, namely, that they deny 
that our souls are the work of God. If they believe this, their 
opinion is rightly judged worthy of condemnation. If they said 
this even of bodies, undoubtedly they should be held worthy 
of correction and detestation. What Christian would deny 
that the bodies of all who are born are the work of God? 
We do not deny that they are begotten of their parents be- 
cause we confess that they are fashioned by God. When, 
therefore, anyone says that certain unique incorporeal seed 
of our souls is derived from parents, yet that souls are made 
of it by the work of God, it is not human supposition which 
is needed to refute this, it is the divine Scripture which has 
to be adduced as proof. An abundance of evidence could be 
available to you from the sacred book of canonical authority 
by which to prove that God creates souls, and by such 
evidence it is possible to refute those who deny that each 
separate soul at birth is the work of God, but not those who 
admit it, although these contend that souls are formed as 
bodies are by the action of God, but through generation by 
parents. To refute these latter you will need to seek out 
divine testimony which is certain, or, if you have already 
found it, you must send it to us as a duty of mutual charity, 
since we have not yet found it, although we seek it most 
eagerly to the limit of our ability. 

Your brief inquiry at the end of the letter which you 
wrote to the brethren at Caesarea goes this way: I beseech 
you,' you say, 'to teach me as you ought, as is worthy of you, 
as befits prudent priests, to answer with your information 
one who is your son and disciple but lately and recently come 
to these mysteries with the help of God, and tell me whether 
I ought to hold the opinion which claims that the soul is 
derived from a root-stock and that all other souls come by 
generation from the first man, Adam, upon the whole race 



414 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

of men by some hidden origin and secret process, or whether 
that other formula is to be chosen and belief awarded to it, 
which all your brothers and priests stationed here hold and 
affirm, and which testifies and believes that God is and was 
and will be the Creator of all things and of all men. 5 You 
wish, then, that one or other of these two opinions which you 
proposed in your inquiry should be chosen, and that you 
should be told which one, a thing it would be possible to do 
if these two opinions were contrary to each other, so that if 
one were to be chosen the other would necessarily be rejected. 

But now, if someone were not to choose one of those two 
but should answer that both are true, that is, that all souls 
come by generation from the first man, Adam, upon the 
whole race of men, and that God nevertheless is and was 
and will be the Creator of all things and of all men, would 
you think he ought to be contradicted? Shall we say to him : 
'If souls are begotten from parents, God is not the Creator of 
all things, because He does not create souls'? If we say that, 
the answer will be: Therefore, since bodies are begotten 
from parents, God is not the Creator of all things, if for this 
reason we say that He does not make bodies.' Who would 
say that God is not the Creator of all human bodies but only 
of that one which He first fashioned from the earth, or at 
least of his wife, also, because He formed her from Adam's 
side, but not of the bodies of others, because we cannot deny 
that the bodies of the rest of men have come from theirs? 

Hence, if your contest in this matter is with those who 
affirm the begetting of souls by generation from that first one, 
but deny that God makes and forms them, continue to refute 
them, convince them, correct them as strongly as you are 
able with the Lord's help. But if they admit a certain origin 
from the first man and subsequent generation by parents, and 
still affirm that individual souls are created and formed for 
individual persons by God, the source of all things, seek the 



LETTERS 415 

answer to be made to them from the holy Scriptures above all, 
and let it not be ambiguous or susceptible of another meaning, 
or, if you have already found it, send it to us, as I asked you 
above. But if this still eludes you as it does me, continue just 
the same with all your strength to refute those who say that 
$'" c.'is are not of divine handiwork, as you said in your letter 
that they had at first muttered this among their less-known 
aberrations, but had subsequently withdrawn from your com- 
pany and the service of the Church because of this insensate 
and impious opinion. Do you, then, uphold and defend 
against them by every means the view you set forth in the 
same letter: that God has created, creates, and will create 
souls, and that there is nothing in heaven or on earth that 
has not been formed and does not exist by His creative power. 
This is most truly and most rightly believed, stated, defended, 
proved about every possible variety of creature. God was and 
is and will be the Creator of all things and of all men, as 
you wrote at the end of your inquiry to our fellow bishops 
of the rrovince of Caesarea, wherein you exhorted them, so 
to speak, rather to choose this statement of belief, following 
the example of all their brothers and fellow priests who are 
with you and who hold to this. 

It is one thing to ask whether God is the Creator and 
Maker of all souls and bodies, which is the truth, or whether 
anything comes into existence in nature which He does not 
make, which is manifestly an erroneous opinion; but it is 
another thing to ask whether God creates human souls by 
generation or without generation, while recognizing that it is 
not lawful to doubt that they are created by Him. In this con- 
troversy I would have you restrained and on guard not to 
break down the theory of the generation of souls and thereby 
fall into the Pelagian heresy. For, if we say and we say it 
with truth that God is the Creator of human bodies whose 
generation is known to all, and not only of the first man or the 



416 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

first pair, but of all bodies begotten from them, I think it is 
easy to understand that those who defend the begetting of souls 
do not wish to break down the idea that we have our souls 
from that source, since God makes souls when He makes 
bodies, which we cannot deny are the result of generation, but 
other proofs must be looked for to refute those who believe in 
the generation of souls, if truth says they err. If it had been 
possible, an inquiry on this point should have been put to 
those of whom you wrote in the last letter you sent me that 
you shrank from converting men to the better course for fear 
of doing an injustice to the dead. You said that those dead 
were such great and such learned bishops that you, a fledgling 
and inexperienced teacher, feared to break down their tradi- 
tions. Therefore, as far as I could learn, by whatever reasoning 
and evidence such great and learned men maintained that 
opinion about the begetting of souls, 13 which in your letter 
addressed to Caesarea you nevertheless called a new invention 
and an unheard-of dogma, showing no regard for their 
authority, it may indeed be an error; if so, we know that it 
is not a new one but an old and hoary one. 

However, when certain reasons force us not unjustly to 
doubt in a given question, we ought not to doubt whether 
we ought to doubt. Indeed, on doubtful matters doubt should 
be maintained without doubt. You see how the Apostle does 
not hesitate to doubt about himself, when he was rapt to the 
third heaven, 'whether it was in the body or out of the body; 
'whether it was the latter or the former, C I know not,' he 
says, 'God knoweth/ 14 Why, then, should I not be allowed 
to doubt, so long as I do not know, whether my soul has 
come into this life by generation or without generation, 
provided I do not doubt that in either case it was created 

13 Goldbacher indicates a lacuna here, and the first half of the sentence 
does seem to require a balancing phrase. 

14 2 Cor. 12.2,3. 



LETTERS 417 

by the supreme and true God? Why should it not be per- 
missible for me to say: C I know that my soul derives its 
existence from the work of God, and, moreover, that it is the 
work of God, but whether by generation like the body, or 
without generation like the soul that was given to the first 
man: 'I know not, God knoweth.' Whichever one of these 
you wish me to affirm, I could if I knew. And if you yourself 
know, then you have in me one more eager to learn what I 
do not know than to teach what I do know. But if, like me, 
you do not know, then pray as I do that whether it be 
through some servant of His or by Himself, the Master who 
said to His disciples: 'But be not you called by man, Rabbi, 
for one is your master, Christ/ 15 may teach us, if, however, 
He knows that it is expedient for us to know such things, for 
He knows not only what He teaches, but also what it is 
expedient for us to learn. 

I confess my covetousness to your Charity. Indeed, I covet 
to know this doctrine that you are seeking, but I should be 
much more anxious to know, if it were possible, when 'the 
desired of all nations' 16 shall appear, and when the kingdom 
of the saints will come to pass, than I am to know whence I 
began to come upon this earth. Yet, when His disciples, our 
Apostles, asked this of Him who knows all things, they 
received the answer: c lt is not for you to know the times which 
the Father hath put in his own power.' 17 What if He knows 
that it is not for us to know this, also, since He surely knows 
what it is useful for us to know? This, indeed, I know from 
Him, that 'it is not for us to know the times which the 
Father hath put in his own power.' But, whether it is for 
us to know the origin of souls, which I do not yet know, that 
is, whether it concerns us to know it, I do not know even 

15 Matt. 23.8,10. 

16 Aggeus 2.8. 

17 Acts 1.7, 



418 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

that. If I knew at least that it is not for us to know it, I 
would cease not only to affirm it, as long as I do not know, 
but also to inquire into it. But now, although it is a matter so 
dark and so deep that I am more on guard against rashness 
in teaching it than I am eager to learn it, I would like to 
know it, even so, if I could. And although what the holy 
Prophet said is much more necessary: f O Lord, make me 
know my end' 18 he did not say c my beginning' would 
that my beginning, also, which belongs to that question, 
might not be hidden from me ! 

I am not ungrateful to my Teacher, however, that I 
know this much about niy own beginning: that the human 
soul is a spirit, not a body; that it is a rational or intellectual 
being; that it is not the nature of God, but rather a creature, 
to some extent mortal, in so far as it can be turned to a 
lower course and can be cut off from the life of God, a sharing 
in which is its happiness; and to some extent immortal, since 
it cannot lose the consciousness through which it experiences 
happiness or woe after this life. I know that it is not enclosed 
in the flesh as a reward or punishment for acts performed 
before it was joined to the flesh, but not for that reason does 
it exist in man 'without the uncleanness of sin, even if his 
life on earth be but one day.' 19 From this I know that no one 
is born of Adam through the succession of generation without 
sin; hence it is necessary for babies to be reborn in Christ 
by the grace of regeneration. I am glad to have learned and 
I assert that I know these things, both numerous and im- 
portant, concerning the beginning or origin of our souls, for 
many of these truths belong to that knowledge which supports 
faith. Therefore, if in this question of the origin of souls I 
do not know whether God creates them for men by generation 
or without generation I do not doubt that they are created 

18 Ps. 38,5. 

19 Job 14.4 (Septtiagint) . 



LETTERS 419 

by Him I choose to know rather than not to know; but, as 
long as I cannot know, it is better for me to doubt than to 
dare to assert something as certain which might be contrary 
to a truth of which perhaps I ought not to doubt. 

Therefore, my good brother, since you consult me and you 
wish me to declare for one of these two theories: whether 
other souls are derived from the first man by generation as 
bodies are, or are made by the Creator individually for 
each individual, without generation like that of the first man 
for we do not deny that they are created in one or other 
manner allow me to consult you on how the soul contracts 
original sin from a source from which it is not itself derived. 
In order not to rush horribly into the horrible heresy of 
Pelagius, we admit that all souls equally derive original sin 
from Adam. If you do not know what I ask, be patient and 
allow me not to know two things: both what you ask and 
what I ask. But, if you do know what I ask, I will answer 
what you wish me to answer when you enlighten me, because 
I shall no longer fear any snare. I ask you, then, not to be 
angry with me because I have not been able to make the 
statement which you are seeking, but I have been able to 
demonstrate what you are seeking. When you find what you 
are seeking, do not hesitate to defend it. 

I thought this much should be written to your Holiness, 
because you think that the theory of the begetting of souls is 
to be condemned. But, if I were answering those who maintain 
it, I would probably show how ignorant they are of what 
they think they know, and how great reason they have to 
shrink from daring to make this statement. 

Coming now to my friend's 20 answer which I enclose in 
this letter, do not be disturbed at his mentioning two books 21 
I sent which he said he had no leisure time to answer: one 



20 Jerome; cf. Letter 172. 

21 Letters 166 and 167. 



420 SAINT AUGUSTINE 

of them is on this question, but not both; in the other I had 
proposed another point to be examined and treated by him. 
In the advice and admonition he gives that I rather apply my 
effort to stamping out this deadly heresy from the Churches, 
he refers to that same Pelagian heresy which I urge you, my 
brother, with all my strength, to avoid with the utmost care, 
whenever you either think or argue about the origin of souls, 
so that the belief may not steal upon you that any soul ^ at 
all, save that of the unique Mediator, was free from in- 
heritance of Adam, that original sin under which we are 
bound when we are begotten but from which we are freed 
by our second birth. 



203. Augustine gives greeting in the Lord to Largus, 1 his 
illustrious and distinguished lord and most 
cherished son (420) 

I have received your Excellency's letter in which you ask me 
to write to you. You would not desire this unless you thought 
that I could write you something in which you could take 
pleasure and satisfaction; namely, that if you coveted the 
vanities of this world before you had tried them, you should 
despise them now that they are known. For the sweetness in 
them is deceptive, the toil fruitless, the fear constant, and the 
elation dangerous; you begin without forethought, you end 
with regret. Thus it is with everything that is pursued with 
more eagerness than prudence in the sad state of mortal 
life. But with devout souls hope is a different thing; different, 
too, the fruit t>f their toil, different the reward of perils. In 
this world it is impossible not to fear, not to grieve, not to 
labor, not to be in danger, but it is a matter of utmost im- 

1 Proconsul in Africa 415. 418, and 419. 



LETTERS 421 

portance for what reason, with what hope, for what purpose 
a man suffers those trials. As for me, when I look at the lovers 
of this world, I do not know when wisdom has the best 
opportunity of healing their souls. But they enjoy apparent 
prosperity, they scornfully reject her wholesome warnings and 
esteem them as an old wives' ditty; when they are pinched 
by adversity, they are more intent on escaping the source 
of their present straits than on laying hold of what may 
furnish a cure and a place of refuge from which anguish 
is completely excluded. Sometimes, however, some of them 
turn the ears of their heart to listen to truth, but this happens 
more rarely in prosperity, more often in adversity. Still, they 
are few, for so it was foretold, 2 but I long to see you among 
them, for I truly love you, illustrious and distinguished lord, 
and most cherished son. Let this advice be the greeting I 
return to you, for, although I do not wish you to suffer 
hereafter such trials as you have already endured, I wish still 
more that you may not have endured them without some 
change for the better in your life. 

2 Matt. 20.16,22. A reference to the few who find the strait and narrow 
path. 




128913