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ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
OF ALL NATIONS
DE VOCATIONE OMNIUM GENTIUM
THE WORKS OF THE FATHERS IN TRANSLATION
JOHANNES QUASTEN, S.T.D.
Professor of Ancient Church History
and Christian Archaeology
JOSEPH C. PLUMPE, PH. D.
Professor of Patristic Greek
and Ecclesiastical Latin
The Catholic University of America
Washington, D. C.
THE NEWMAN PRESS
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
>F ALL NATIONS
TRANSLATED AND ANNOTATED
P. DE LETTER, S. J., PH. D., S. T. D.
Professor of Dogmatic Theology
St. Mary's College, Kurseong, India
THE NEWMAN PRESS
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
THE NEWMAN PRESS
WESTMINSTER MD USA
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First published in the U. S. A. 1952
First published in Great Britain 1952
De licentia Super ion's Ordinis. Nihil obstat: J. QUASTEN S cens. dep.
Imprimatur: PATRICIUS A. O s BoYLE,DJD., Archiep. Washingtonen., die 8 Martii 1951
COPYRIGHT 1952 BY REV. JOHANNES QUASTEN AND REV. JOSEPH C. PLUMPE
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY J. H. FURST COMPANY, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
BOOK ONE 26
BOOK Two 89
To THE INTRODUCTION 157
To BOOK ONE 170
To BOOK Two 195
ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
OF ALL NATIONS
The De vocatione omnium gentium * is the first treatise
in ancient Christian literature on the problem of the
salvation of infidels. It is a controversial work written
against the Semi-Pelagians about the year 450, probably
at Rome. Its author there is reason to believe was St.
Prosper of Aquitaine. This historical setting indicates at
once what we should and what we should not expect
about its contents.
The Sixteenth Council of Carthage in 418 had sealed
with a solemn declaration St. Augustine's successful
defence of the Catholic doctrine on grace against Pelagius
and his followers. 2 It had condemned the errors of the
Pelagians, who attributed man's good works to his own
free will and not to God's gratuitous help, and who, even
where they allowed the activity of grace, conceived of it
only as an exterior help, and, at any rate, proportioned to
man's previous merits. But difficulties had arisen in the
minds of Augustine's disciples even during his lifetime on
some points in his teaching. 3 Two statements of his
aroused surprise, if not opposition, among the monks of
Hadrumetum in North Africa. He had written that the
beginning of all good works comes from grace and not
from man, and that final perseverance is a gift of God
and not the result of man's efforts. Set against the back-
ground of St. Augustine's views on the Fall and based on
his rigid conceptions on predestination and reprobation,
according to which God seemed to choose some men for
the revelation of His mercy and to leave others for the
manifestation of His Justice, 4 these teachings seemed to
them to endanger, or render useless, man's striving for
When consulted on the matter, St. Augustine gave his
answer in two treatises. In the De gratia et libero arbitrio 5
he established the f act t that man's free will remains un-
touched, and is rather perfected by grace; and he proved
the reality of both free will and grace from the Scriptures,
without, however, attempting to reconcile the two, as in
later times theology would do. In the De correptione et
gratia 6 he explained the nature, action, and distribution
of grace, seen in the light of our historical state: the
human race after original sin is a massa damnationis out
of which God's mercy freely chooses His predestined elect.
Augustine's explanations apparently satisfied the Had-
rumetan monks, but they were to lead to new contro-
versies in the monastic centres of Southern Gaul. There
the opposition of the Massilienses, the monks of Marseilles,
to Augustine's teaching developed into a heterodox posi-
tion which their opponents were to style the reliquiae
Pelagianorum and which was to be known as Semi-
Pelagianism only many centuries later. 7
The history of this reaction against St. Augustine's
teaching on predestination 8 and on its connexion with the
doctrine of grace falls into two periods of heated contro-
versy. 9 The first of these controversies, prepared and set in
motion during the last years of St. Augustine's lifetime,
flared up violently almost immediately after his death in
430. It took place in some monasteries of Southern Gaul,
at Marseilles and Lerins. The chief defender of Augus-
tine's doctrine on grace against the new error was St. Pros-
per of Aquitaine, a layman who was connected with the
monasteries, a faithful follower and occasional corre-
spondent of St. Augustine. 10 His Epistola ad Augustinum 11
together with another letter to St. Augustine written by
Hilary^ a friend of his, 12 in which they exposed to their
master the novel teachings of the monks and asked for
advice and direction, occasioned the first and last direct
intervention of the seventy-five year old bishop of Hippo
in the Semi-Pelagian controversy: the two books known
as De praedestinatione sanctorum and De dono persever-
antiae. 1 *
Originally two parts of one treatise, the first dealt with
the problem of the inception of faith in our souls, the
second exposed the doctrine of the gift of perseverance.
In both St. Augustine showed how the Semi-Pelagians,
though protesting that they would have nothing to do
with Pelagius 3 heresy, yet, unless they agreed to attribute
the beginning of faith and final perseverance to grace,
did away with the gratuitousness of grace, and thus went
over into Pelagius 3 camp. 14 On the Semi-Pelagian side
the chief opponents to Augustinism were Cassian, abbot
of the Marseilles monastery of St. Victor and author of
the famous Conferences, 15 and St. Vincent of Lerins who
wrote the Commonitorium 1G in a strongly anti-Augustin-
ian tone, and was probably connected with the composi-
tion and circulation of the pamphlet known as the Obiec-
tiones Vincentianae. 17 The first phase of the controversies
ended soon after Cassian's death in 435, but not without
a partial withdrawal of the Augustinians, expressed in
the Capitula, seu praeteritorum Sedis Apostolicae epis-
coporum auctoritates de gratia Dei. This Roman docu-
ment, drawn up by St. Prosper before 441-442, states the
points of Catholic doctrine that were involved in the
controversy,, but it leaves out the deeper and more obscure
A period of relative calm ensued which gave St. Prosper
an opportunity for a quiet and peaceful review of the
whole dispute. The De vocatione was the fruit of this
study. Whether it was, in spite of its moderate and concil-
iatory tone, the occasion for reviving the old controversies
or not, a new outburst of anti-Augustinism soon followed
when Faustus of Riez, first a monk and later abbot at
Lerins, and from about 462, bishop of Riez, published his
De gratia Dei. 19 After repudiating the old Pelagian error
and affirming his faith in God's grace, he restated the two
Semi-Pelagian theses. In the process of man's salvation
the initiative belongs to man, otherwise his free will would
be destroyed; and so, too, for the same reason, does final
perseverance. Incidentally, against the unnamed author
of the De vocatione, he insists on an interpretation of
God's universal salvific will that practically eliminates
predestination. 20 Meeting with little opposition in France
(St. Prosper was no longer there; perhaps he was dead
by then), but faced with a decided opponent in North
Africa, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, 21 the fate of this last phase
of Semi-Pelagianism was, after long-drawn-out wrangles
and protracted delays caused by the barbarian invasions
in Southern Europe, finally sealed at the Council of
Orange in 529, 22 where St. Caesarius of Aries 23 was the
leading figure. The decisions of this council, particularly
its capitula 9 to 25, were mainly taken from St. Prospers
Liber sententiarum ex S. Augustino delibatarum^
The De vocatione thus originated during the period of
quiet between the two critical phases of the Semi-Pelagian
controversies. About this all patristic scholars agree. 25 The
question, however, of its authorship has been disputed, 26
especially since the second half of the seventeenth century.
Up to that date the traditional view, in accord with the
manuscript tradition and with the medieval authors who
quote it under St. Prosper's name, held Prosper to be the
author. Little credence could be given to a manifestly
erroneous opinion, found in some manuscripts and
accepted by a few editors in the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, which attributed the De vocatione to St. Am-
brose. 27 The anachronism is evident, as St. Ambrose had
died before either Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism were
But when Quesnel, who was editing the works of St.
Leo the Great, claimed the authorship of the book for
that saint, on the strength of internal evidence revealed
in certain Leonine ideas and expressions only, 29 then was
the traditional opinion shaken. QuesnePs own opinion
found little favour with others, but he succeeded in cast-
ing a doubt on the accepted view that St. Prosper was the
author. Thus his opponent in the matter, J. Antelmi, 30
while defending St. Prospers authorship, supported the
opinion which Quesnel had put forward and which Du
Pin 31 was later to spread with considerable success that
the author, in order to cover up his attempt at reconciling
Augustinism and Semi-Pelagianism, purposely remained
anonymous. In the face of all these differences of opinions
and arguments one thing seemed clear to the Ballerini
brothers 32 when in 1756 they re-edited the De vocatione
among the works of St. Leo, namely, that the question
of its authorship remained uncertain. It is this solution,
or this lack of solution, which was the more commonly
accepted view of patristic scholars down to our own day. 33
Some twenty years ago, however, a new attempt was
made, and not without success, to re-establish the formerly
accepted authorship of St. Prosper. Dom M. C. Cappuyns
has proposed 34 the following arguments to prove that the
De vocatione is a work of St. Prosper, and to refute at the
same time all other opinions:
1 ) The manuscript tradition, apart from the few refer-
ences to St. Ambrose which need no serious consideration,
unanimously points out St. Prosper as the author. This
can be vouched for from the ninth to the fifteenth cen-
tury. 35 Literary attestations in favour of St. Prosper con-
firm this tradition. In 852 the De vocatione is quoted
in favour of Augustinism under Prosper's name by
Ratramnus of Corbia; 36 and a little later by his adversary
Hincmar of Rheims, 37 against the Augustinian doctrine of
predestination. If we take into account that St. Prospers
works, except for one letter to St. Augustine, have not
come down to us in manuscripts dated before the ninth
century, 38 and that tradition is unanimous in naming St.
Prosper, we have to discard definitely the hypothesis of
an intentional anonymity. 39
2) The teaching of the De vocatione is identical with
that of St. Prosper on practically all points of doctrine. 40
3) The literary procedure is the same: similar expres-
sions, similar ways of developing ideas. 41
4) One particular and revealing indication is found In
the Scripture quotations. The same versions of the Scrip-
ture (Vulgate or older texts) are used in the De vocatione
and in St. Prosper, and, what is more striking, combining
the new and old versions for the same passages.
Cappuyns concludes: "Who can the author be who
thinks, reasons, writes exactly like Prosper? Who else but
Prosper himself?" 43 Further, he completes his proof by
answering all arguments Quesnel had advanced in favour
of St. Leo. He shows that Quesnel's attribution of author-
ship to Leo rests on internal evidence only; that it goes
against all the external evidence of the manuscript and
literary attestations; that it is made improbable by the
divergent mentality of the Doctor of the Incarnation,
eminently practical and clear-minded, and interested ever
so little in the subtleties of the Gallic controversies. A
close examination of the parallel texts on which Quesnel
based his conclusion, reveals a similarity which is more
apparent than real, and which in every case leaves room
for differences in the ideas. That the similarity pointed
out does not postulate an identity of authorship, can be
sufficiently shown by the influence exercised by St. Leo on
the author of the De vocations. And this influence was to
be expected considering that St. Prosper at the time of
writing the treatise lived in Rome, at the papal court, as
secretary to St. Leo. 44
We may, then, align ourselves with a number of patris-
tic scholars 45 and safely accept Cappuyns 3 conclusion that
St. Prosper's authorship of the De vocatione is historically
If we admit that St. Prosper is the author of our treatise,
it is imperative to find a place for it in his literary and
doctrinal evolution. We know but little about his person,
except that he was a layman of Southern Gaul, connected
with the monasteries there, especially at the time of the
first Semi-Pelagian controversies, and that he left his home
country for Rome and the papal court shortly after Cas-
sian's death in 435. 46 His literary work, however poeti-
cal, theological, and historical is sufficiently well-known
and dated. 47 Students of St. Prosper are agreed in perceiv-
ing a progress and development in his doctrinal positions,
but there are different opinions as to the extent of this
evolution. 48 The question in dispute is this: did St. Pros-
per who was a loyal disciple of St. Augustine and a staunch
defender of his doctrine, remain faithful to all the ideas
of his master on grace and predestination, or is there a
real difference between the works of his youth, where, in
fact, he faithfully echoes St. Augustine, and those of his
later years? 49 All agree that even at the time of writing
the De vocatione St. Prosper remained thoroughly Augus-
tinian, penetrated with the ideas and moulded on the spirit
of the Doctor of Grace, of whose teachings and words we
find reminiscences in nearly every chapter of our treatise. 50
All seem to think that there has been an evolution in his
rigidly formulated Augustinism, particularly in the ques-
tion of predestination, where he toned down some of his
master's exaggerated expressions. This evolution, accord-
ing to some, goes even further than the bare expressionsit
affects his ideas as well. The point is not without impor-
tance for the understanding of the De vocatione.
With Cappuyns, 51 who sees in St. Prosper the first rep-
resentative of medieval Augustinism, we may divide his
literary activity over three periods of unequal length. The
first period, of rigid Augustinism and strict fidelity to St.
Augustine's teachings on predestination and grace, ex-
tends to the year 432. He holds the doctrine of absolute
predestination and non-predestination, and of a restricted
salvific will; and he links the gratuitousness of grace with
predestination. The second period, 433-435, covers his
INTRODUCTION 1 1
first concessions to the Semi-Pelagian positions. He con-
cedes that the salvific will is universal and explains the
negative counterpart of predestination, that is, reproba-
tion, as mere prescience of evil. God does not predestine
any one to evil. He only foreknows it. But no explicit dis-
tinction is as yet made between the Catholic doctrine and
Augustinian teaching. In the third period we find him
making the great concessions to his adversaries. The
progressive element in his doctrinal position is the con-
scious distinction he makes between the authentic teach-
ing of the Church and the private opinions of the Doctors,
and even of St. Augustine. In the matter of predestination
and grace this means the dissociation of the gratuitousness
of grace from the Augustinian views on predestination.
About these latter St. Prosper takes a more independent
attitude. Consequently, he is able to lay greater stress on
the universalism of God's salvific will. The De vocations
belongs to this third period. 52
Our treatise examines the problem of the salvation of
all men from a double aspect. If God's salvific will is uni-
versaland of this there can be no doubthow is it that
many are not saved, or, as the author prefers to view it,
how is it that many do not receive the grace that saves
(Book One)? 53 And inversely, if many are not saved or
do not receive the grace that saves, how can there really
be in God a universal salvific will (Book Two)?
The problem is difficult, and, especially in Prosper's
time, it was a delicate one to tackle. St. Prosper proposes to
explain the doctrine of God's universal salvific will. But it
so happened that St. Augustine had not, or, at any rate,
had not clearly, taught a universalist doctrine about God's
will of salvation; rather, he had repeatedly interpreted the
Scripture texts about God's will to save men, in a restrictive
sense. 54 On the other hand, the Semi-Pelagians, Prosper's
opponents, forcefully stressed the universality of God's
salvific will in order to drive home their point regarding
the initiative of man's free will in the work of salvation. 55
St. Prosper had therefore to steer a middle course between
these two extremes. Against Semi-Pelagianism he had to
assert the absolute gratuitousness of grace, but in such
wise as to safeguard a real universal salvific will. On the
other hand, in spite of St. Augustine's teaching, he had to
maintain the universalism of God's will to save men, with-
out, however, impairing the gratuitousness of grace; this
gratuitousness he held, with Augustine, to be the Catholic
Did he succeed in avoiding the danger on both sides and
synthesize the complete gratuitousness of grace with God's
universal salvific will? 5G To effect this synthesis, one way
alone was open, namely, to disconnect the gratuitous
character of grace from the Augustinian doctrine on pre-
destination. 57 Predestination of the elect only, such as St.
Augustine was commonly understood to have taught, and
a universal will to save all men do not go hand in hand.
St. Prosper certainly tried to separate these two doctrines
and did so effectively up to a point. A glance at the con-
tents of each book will enable us to judge about the matter.
God wills all men to be saved. Yet many are not saved
and do not receive the grace that actually saves. Why?
(1). From the threefold degree of man's will, animal,
natural, and spiritual, it appears that all initiative for
good comes from grace (2-8). But the universal salvific
will as taught in Scripture can be understood in the sense
of a specified or restricted totality (9-12); the mysterious
reason of its restriction remains unknown to us (13 f.).
Saving grace, however, is wholly gratuitous (15), as is
clear in the case of children dying before the age of reason
(16) and from death-bed conversions (17). It is given
without any preceding merit (18) or any effective initiative
of nature for good (19). Yet there is a divine salvific will
for all (20), though the reason why God chose Israel and
left aside the Gentiles, remains a mystery (21). This,
however, is certain: the chosen ones are chosen without
any merit of their own (22), for all gifts of grace are
totally gratuitous (23 f.). Why they are given to one and
not to another is a mystery which we cannot fathom
What, then, is the answer of Book One to the first
aspect of the problem: how is it that, in spite of God's
universal salvific will, not all men are saved? Because
they do not all receive the grace that actually saves. For
this, however, no one can rightly blame God, since grace
is a gratuitous gift. We cannot know why it is given
to some and not to some others.
We may consider this answer to be rather unsatisfac-
tory. St. Prosper's insistence on the gratuitousness of grace
appears to be beside the point. 59 As he himself asks in
the first chapter, why does God not give all men the gift
without which no one can be saved, if He really wants all
to be saved? Book One does not give the answer. For St.
Prosper, too, the problem is not solved. He has, no doubt,
maintained the gratuitousness of grace; but has he not
sacrificed the universalism of the salvific will? Inevitably
the objection which arises is the one formulated in the last
chapter: if many are not saved because they do not receive
the grace that saves, how, then, can we believe as we
must that there is in God a really universal salvific will?
The answer to this difficulty is the central theme of
It begins by stating three points that are certain in the
matter: God wills all men to be saved; knowledge of the
truth and salvation come from grace; God's judgments
are impenetrable ( 1 ) . Scripture tells us that God wills all
men to be saved (2), but we do not know how this will
works, why He delays to call some (3). Still, there always
was a general call addressed to all men and a special elec-
tion for Israel (4). Even among the Gentiles there were
some specially chosen (5). In fact, there are differences
in the graces of God (6) which are not due to previous
merits (7), since all merit originates from grace (8);
differences of which we cannot and need not know the
reason (9). The fact remains that God's mercy is shown
to all (10) and spreads out its gifts in the course of time
(11). Without these gifts free will leads only to evil ( 12) .
Even for the wicked there was, and is, divine grace
(1345), for Christ died for all (16). The fruits of His
Redemption are to be applied to men at the appointed
time (17) as they also were in former ages (18). At all
times, therefore, God's salvific will was universal (19). If
you bring up the case of infants who die without baptism
(20), St. Prosper answers by saying that they are not
treated unjustly (21); God's judgments are just (22);
these children, too, received the general grace in the call
of their parents (23); their case only serves to bring out
both God's justice and grace (24). Here, then, is the
solution: God's salvific will provides a general grace for
all men, but a special grace for some (25). It is grace
that produces in men both the good will and the consent
to good (26 f.), but in such a way that they remain free
(28). The universal salvific will is being fulfilled every
day (29). Prosper briefly repeats what is certain in the
matter in question (30 =1). At all times grace has been
giyen to all men but in different measure, not due to
their merits, but to God's hidden judgments (31 f.). The
elect, however, are certainly saved (33), their good works
and prayers being a factor in the work of their salvation
(34-36). The fact of their election remains unknown
during their stay on earth (37).
Why, then, can we say that there is in God a universal
salvific will, in spite of the fact that many are lost? The
answer of Book Two is: God's real will to save all men
is shown by the general grace He gives to all, with no
one left out no, not even the infants; but His special
grace that leads to actual salvation He freely and gratui-
tously bestows only on the elect who remain free to collab-
orate with grace and who alone are actually saved. As to
the reason of this discrimination in God's gifts to men, this
is a mystery not known to men.
The originality of St. Prospers De vocatione in solving
the problem of the salvation of all mankind lies in this idea
of a general grace given to all men. He has been the first to
state this in explicit terms. He may have found the germ
of the idea in St. Augustine, 60 or he may have obtained it
from St. Leo, 01 but the clear expression of it is his original
contribution. We have, therefore, to consider it more
closely. His explanation of the universal salvific will may
be synthesized as follows:
God wills all men to be saved, even the children who
die before baptism. The proof and expression of this will
is the general grace He refuses to no one, not even to the
children. Yet not all are actually saved, because they do
not receive the special graces that lead to actual salvation.
The general grace which is given to all comprises two
elements, an exterior one and an interior one. The ex-
terior help is the testimony of the created things which
reveal to men their Maker. The interior help, which is
like the spirit of this preaching opposed to the letter, is
the illumination of the heart by God. When men accept
this grace and co-operate with it as they can and should,
they receive further special graces. These are necessary
for salvation, but, apparently, are withheld by God only
when men reject them or reject the previous graces offered
them. The special graces are of two kinds; or rather, they
lead to two different results: either to a temporary practice
of virtue as in the case of the just who do not persevere
in grace, through their own fault, for God abandons no
one who does not first turn away from Him; or to final
perseverance, in the case of the elect who are foreknown
as such by God. 62
Children also receive the general grace, in their parents.
If the parents co-operate with the general grace they
receive and even infidels receive it then they will also
be given the special graces that are needed to come to
the faith, and their children also will be brought to what
is for them the only concrete form of the special grace 3
the sacrament of baptism. 03
In the history of the economy of grace we see that the
Gentiles always received the general grace in the testimony
of created things. Some of them responded to it and they
received further special graces that led them to actual
salvation. Israel, God's chosen people, was given the same
general grace., and besides, the special graces of the Law
and the Prophets special exterior graces which, however,
did not save all of them but only those who accepted them
and received also the necessary interior graces (for the
letter killeth . . .). Ever since Christ came into the world
and saved mankind,, the special grace of the Gospel Is
offered to all. It has not reached all the Gentiles yet, but
it is destined to do so and will do so in the appointed
time. All who accept this special exterior grace and are
given the corresponding interior grace come to justifica-
tion, and if they are the elect, to final perseverance and
What are we to think of this solution? Does it give the
answer as to why, in spite of God's universal salvific will,
not all men are saved; and inversely, why God's will to
save mankind is really universal although many are not
actually saved? We may notice how St. Prosper in pro-
posing his theory is struggling to break away from the
influence of the Augustinian predestination or election
doctrine. 64 Owing to his inability to free himself fully from
it, his idea of the general grace, universally given to all,
fails to solve the problem. His solution appears purely
nominal. For a will of salvation can hardly be called real
when it is expressed only in a non-saving grace; the
general grace is actually such. No salvation of any one
individual can take place without special graces, addi-
tional to the general one, and these are not given to all.
If it were clearly said that the only reason why these
special graces are not given to some, is because they
themselves refuse them, 65 then the proposed solution
would in fact mean a great step forward in the right
direction. Unfortunately, this idea is rather insinuated
than clearly stated. The Idea of the divine election which
haunts our author prevents him from taking this step
frankly. His attempt at reconciling a universalist doctrine
of the divine salvific will with a theory of election that
remains essentially the same as Augustinian predestina-
tion,, may then in reality come to little more than "a good
Yet from another point of view the De vocations holds
an important place in the history of Augustinism and
of St. Augustine's influence on Catholic theology. It is
an evident desire and an effective attempt to tone down
Augustine's rigid expressions and views on predestination.
This may be observed not only in the terminology by
the conspicuous absence of all "predestinational" terms,
which are avoided, seemingly, of set purpose, but also in
the ideas themselves, especially when drawn out in relief. 67
God's universal salvific will is stressed incomparably more
than it had ever been by St. Augustine. Quite certainly
it is the awareness of this change in outlook and in con-
ception together with a sense of reverence for the memory
of the Doctor of Grace which prompts St. Prosper to omit
any explicit reference to him in this treatise. Human free-
dom which remains intact under the action of grace is
brought into greater relief here than it was in Augustine's
works. The gratuitousness of grace is no less stressed than
it had been by Augustine, but here it is explained without
explicit connection with predestination. This latter, called
by Prosper election, and chiefly stressed as God's eternal
and infallible foreknowledge of His elect, comes in only
as the answer to the mysterious why of God's discriminat-
Perhaps this change of viewpoint, with its consequent
shifting of the stress laid now on ideas which St. Augustine
may have known, but left in the background of his general
outlook, constitutes St. Prospers chief emancipation from
rigid Augustinism. Besides this point, some passing intui-
tions that are hardly exploited by him, imply a real begin-
ning of a doctrine which would later be developed in a
more boldly universalistic sense; as, for example, the
mention (2.5) of the grace that singled out the elect from
the Gentiles. We must not overstress this and similar
elements of progress in a direction which would lead to
our present-day unquestioned view that all men receive
sufficient graces to be saved if they wish to be saved. All
the same, the De vocations constituted at the time when
it was written a definite attempt to get loose from Augus-
tinian particularism in the doctrine of the salvation of
mankind. 68 It was certainly partially successful, and due
to the influence it was to exert in the early Middle Ages, 69
it prepared the way for further progress in the same
The text from which the present translation was made
is that of the Ballerini, as found in the second volume of
their edition of St. Leo, Venice, 1756, cols. 167-250. 70
This seems to be the best among the printed texts of
the De vocations, and is better than Mangeant's edition,
Paris, 171 1, 71 which was reprinted in Migne's Patrologia
latina 51, from the re-edition of Venice, 1827. As, how-
ever, the Ballerini text is more rarely found than the one
reprinted by Migne, we shall point out its different read-
ings whenever they affect the meaning. 72
As to modern translations, we have been able to use
the three-century-old French version published in Paris
in 1649 by Pere Antoine Girard, under the title. Saint
Prosper, disciple de Saint Augustin, De la Vocation des
Gentils, ou la Doctrine Catholique de la liberte et de la
Grace est declaree centre les erreurs des Heretiques et de
ceux qui favorisent leur party. No other more recent
translation of the work seems to have been made. To our
knowledge none is found in the English, German, Italian,
or other collections of the works of the Fathers. At
all events, the present translation appears to be the first
English version of St. Prosper's treatise on The Call of All
1. The author states the theme of this book and shows the
error of those who hold that to predicate grace means to
deny free will 26
2. Every human soul has a will of some kind, whether it be
animal or natural or spiritual 27
3. The animal will 28
4. The natural will. The only compensation it offers is
earthly glory, even when through God's gift it rises to a
higher wisdom 28
5. All the Gentiles have received in things created the pre-
cepts of the Law so that their idolatry is unwarrantable . 30
6. Without divine grace, the more keenly the will is intent
on action, the more quickly does it run into sin, because
it does not live for God's glory 31
7. When a man is converted to God, no new substance is
created in him, but his own which was spoiled is remade.
Nothing is taken away from him but vice, and his former
will is set right 33
8. Grace repairs God's work in such a manner as not to take
away free will but rather to heal it by itself 35
9. When Scripture speaks of the good or the wicked, of the
elect or the reprobate, it mentions one class of men in
such wise that it seems as though no one is omitted 40
10. Scripture speaks of the elect and the reprobate in one
nation as though it meant the same persons 48
11. Scripture speaks of men of different ages as if they were
one and the same generation 50
12. The word of the Apostle, who will have all men to be
saved,, is to be understood in its entire and full meaning. 51
13. We cannot understand in this life the deep mystery, why
the grace of God passes by some men for whom the
Church offers prayers 53
14. In the dispensation of God's works the reasons of many
things remain hidden and only the facts are manifest ... 55
15. We may not attribute the salvation of a part of mankind
to their own merits, as if grace chose the good and passed
by the wicked 58
16. Before the use of reason all children are alike, yet some
pass to eternal life, others to eternal death; this is a proof
of God's inscrutable judgments 59
17. Deathbed conversions of sinners are a proof that grace is
given unmerited and that God's judgments are inscru-
18. Grace, the condition sine qua non of all merit, is given
unmerited purely out of God's good pleasure 63
19. What nature is without grace 65
20. Our Lord in His mercy wishes to save all nations and is
actually working for their salvation, yet it is true that no
one accepts His word 65
21. We must not seek to know why God chooses some and
not others, nor why in the past He left aside all the
Gentiles and chose Israel alone 68
22. Those who see in human merit the reason why God dis-
tinguishes between some whom He selects and others
whom He does not elect, teach that no one is saved
gratuitously but only in justice; the case of infants refutes
their position 69
23. All human merit from the beginning of faith to final per-
severance is a divine gift. This is shown first regarding
24. Grace is the source of all good in man. Faith is given
unasked and enables us to obtain in prayer all other
25. The problem why one man receives grace rather than
another we cannot solve; the answer does not lie with
their free will 86
1. Three points are certain in this matter: God wills all
men to be saved, the knowledge of truth and salvation
is due to grace, and God's judgments are inscrutable . . 89
2. Scripture teaches that God wills all men to be saved .... 90
3. We cannot know why God decreed to delay the call of
some nations 92
4. In past ages God's goodness drew all men to His worship
through things created, but Israel in a special way
through the Law and the Prophets 95
5. The Gentiles who pleased God were singled out by a
gratuitous spirit of faith 97
6. Even in our times grace is not given to all men in the
same measure 98
7. The inequality of the divine gifts does not come from
the merits of preceding works, but from God's liberality . 99
8. Every one receives with no merit on his part the means
of gaining merit. Having received grace, he is expected
to increase this gift through Him who gives the increase . 1 00
9. We must not seek the reason why God dispenses His
grace differently in different ages 102
10. Throughout the centuries God's mercy provided food for
the bodies of men and help for their souls 104
11. Men acquire slowly and little by little what God's liber-
ality has decreed to give them 105
12. When we turn away from God, this is our doing, not His
ordinance. Man merits by persevering, because he could
fall away 108
13. Before the Flood God's goodness assisted with His direc-
tions not only the saints but sinners also 109
14. At the time of the Flood and afterwards till the coming
of Christ there were signs of the working of God's grace
and figures of the miracles of Christian grace, although
the abundant grace which now floods mankind did not
then flow with such bounty Ill
15. Men are not born now with a better nature than before
Christ; rather, at the time of His coming the iniquity
then existing was the more pronounced in order the
better to manifest the power of God's grace 114
16. Christ died for all sinners 118
17. The nations that have not yet seen the grace of our
Saviour will be called to the Gospel at the appointed time 121
18. In former ages the mystery of their call to the faith was
hidden from the Gentiles, but not from the Prophets 122
19. God's will to save all men is active in all ages 125
20. Objection against the text, who wills all men to be saved,
taken from the case of infants 125
21. God is just when He rejects unbaptised infants both in
this life and in the next because of original sin 127
22. Divine justice measures out to each one his lot of mis-
23. Children who die receive the general grace bestowed
upon their parents 130
24. We can find no reason for a just complaint in the differ-
ent destiny of children who in all other respects are alike;
rather there is a strong proof of God's justice and of
Christ's grace 132
25. With His general grace given to all, God always wills
and has willed all men to be saved; but His special grace
is not granted to all 133
26. In every justification grace is the outstanding factor,
while the human will is a secondary one, united with
grace and co-operating with God working in man; grace
prepares the will for this co-operation 134
27. Grace causes the consent of our will not only by teaching
and enlightening but also through terror and fear 136
28. The faithful who by God's grace believe in Christ remain
free not to believe; and those who persevere may yet turn
away from God 137
29. God is fulfilling His promise to bless all the nations every
day, so as not to leave any excuse to the reprobate, nor
to give the elect a reason to glory in their justice 141
30. Recapitulation of chapter one, Book Two 142
31. In all ages God's general goodness gave grace to all men,
but to the elect He gave His special grace 143
32. Among the faithful there are different degrees in God's
gifts, and this is not due to their merit but to God's just
and hidden judgment 144
33. Not one of the elect is lost, but all who were chosen from
all eternity attain salvation 145
34. Though God's design about the salvation of the elect is
without change, yet it is not useless to work and to ac-
quire the merit of good actions, and also to keep on
35. The elect receive grace, not to allow them to be idle or to
free them from the Enemy's attacks, but to enable them
to work well and to conquer the Enemy 149
36. Election does not dispense from application to prayer,
rather it reaches its fulfilment through the medium of
prayer and good works 151
37. Of no man can it be stated before his death that he will
share the glory of the elect; on the other hand, there is
no reason to despair of any fallen man's conversion 152
The author states the theme of this book and shows the
error of those who hold that to predicate
grace means to deny free will.
A great and difficult problem has long been debated
among the defenders of free will and the advocates of the
grace of God. 1 The point at issue is whether God wills
all men to be saved; and since this cannot be denied, 2
the question arises, why the will of the Almighty is not
realized. When this is said to happen because of the
will of men, grace seems to be ruled out; and if grace is
a reward for merit, it is clearly not a gift but something
due to men. 3 But then the question again arises: why
is this gift, without which no one can attain salvation, not
conferred on all, by Him who wills all to be saved? Hence,
there is no end to discussions in either camp so long as
they make no distinction between what can be known
and what remains hidden. 4
On this conflict of opinions I shall endeavour, 5 with
the Lord's help, to investigate what restraint and modera-
tion we ought to maintain in our views. I shall apply to
this study my meagre talents in a matter where my own
convictions are, I think, moderate. Thus, if in writing on
this subject I can avoid all that is offensive or wrong, it
may prove useful, not only for us but also for others, to
have found out a limit where our inquiry should stop. 6
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 27
First of all, then, we have to study the operations of
the human will in its different degrees. 7 Some people set
up an untenable cleavage between this will of men and
God's grace, holding that by predicating grace one denies
free will. 8 They do not notice that it could be objected
equally well that they deny grace when they consider
the latter not as leading, but as following, the human will. 9
For if the will is suppressed when it is not the source of
true virtues 3 then also is grace eliminated when it is not
the cause of merits. 10 But let us now, with Christ's help,
begin our treatise.
Every human soul has a will of some kind, whether
it be animal or natural or spiritual.
Every human soul, as far as we can know it from experi-
ence, is endowed with a will manifesting itself in some
manner or other. 11 It desires what is pleasing and turns
away from what displeases. With regard to its natural
impulses now weakened by the infection of the first sin,
this will is of two kinds, either animal or natural But
when God's grace is present, a third kind is added by the
gift of the Spirit. 12 The will then becomes spiritual, and
thanks to this higher impulse, it rules all its affections,
from wheresoever they may arise, according to the law
of a higher wisdom. 13
28 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
The animal will
The animal will, 14 which we may also call carnal, does
not rise above the impulse that is born of the bodily
senses, as in the case of infants. Although these do not
have the use of reason, yet they show that they desire
some things and do not want others. When they see, hear,
smell, taste, touch, they love what pleases them and hate
what hurts them. Now, what else is love but desire? Or
what else is hatred but aversion? They, too, have therefore
a will of their own. This will may be inexperienced and
unable to foresee or to deliberate, but it likes to be busy
about objects that flatter the animal sensesuntil rational
nature wakes up to life in them, when the functions of
the body are more developed, and is stirred to use the
service of its limbs, not at another's bidding but according
to its own ruling.
The natural will. The only compensation it offers
is earthly glory, even when through God's
gift it rises to a higher wisdom.
From this animal will, which is the only one found in
those adults who are insane and remain deprived of the
use of reason, man rises to the level of the natural will. 15
Though at this stage the will can, before it is guided by
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 29
the Spirit of God, raise itself above its animal impulses,
still, as long as it does not share in divine charity, it busies
itself with earthly and perishable things. When led by
it at this level, human hearts do not, it is true, undergo the
shameful slavery of bodily pleasures, but rule their desires
according to the laws of justice and probity. They do
not, however, merit any higher reward than earthly glory.
Although they succeed in leading the present life in a
becoming manner, still they do not reap the reward of
eternal happiness. 16 For they do not refer their righteous
actions and good endeavours to the praise and honour of
Him who gave them the power of actually fostering a
higher wisdom and of gaining greater glory than others. 17
Some, in fact, have applied their minds not only to the
practice of the useful arts and to the study of the liberal
sciences, but also to the quest of the supreme Good. They
clearly saw and understood the invisible things of God by
the things that are made. 18 But, failing to give thanks to
God and acknowledge Him as the author of this their
faculty, they professed themselves to be wise; 19 that is,
they gloried not in God but in themselves, as if they had
reached the knowledge of truth through their own efforts
of reasoning. They became vain in their thoughts, 2 and
what they had gained in the light of God's grace, they
lost again in the blindness of their pride. They fell back
from the heavenly light into their own darkness, that is,
from the changeless and eternal Good to their own fickle
and corruptible nature. 21
Such men, therefore, return to self-love. They are so
pleased with themselves, that whatever they judge praise-
worthy in their own persons, they do not refer to God's
gifts; they claim it as their own merit and attribute it
30 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
to the efforts of their own wills. Consequently, they
remain below the level of the spiritual will. They possess
in themselves nothing to lead them on to eternal life, for
they actually begin to spoil in their own hearts those very
natural gifts of God, and they pass from a rightful use of
them to the practice of unnumbered vices. 22
All the Gentiles have received in things created
the precepts of the Law so that their
idolatry is unwarrantable.
It is written that when the Most High divided the
nations, as He dispersed the sons of Adam, He appointed
the bounds of the nations according to the number of the
angels of God, and His people became the Lord's portion
Jacob, the lot of His inheritance Israel. 23 It is also written
that the Lord spoke to Israel: You will be holy before me,
because I am holy the Lord your God, who separated you
from all nations to be mine. 2 * It is further written in the
Book of Esther, Mardochai speaking: / give Thee thanks,
Lord, because Thou hast wrought new signs and wonders,
as have not happened among the nations, dividing the
whole world into two parts; one didst Thou choose as
Thy own people, leaving the other for the Gentiles 25
Paul, too, and Barnabas said: We also are mortals, men
like unto you, preaching to you to be converted ... to the
living God who made the heaven and the earth and the
sea and all things that are in them; who in times past
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 31
suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 2Q These
and many similar statements are found in the infallible
Scripture. Yet according to the same Scripture we believe
and devoutly confess that never was mankind as a whole
without the care of Divine Providence. 27 And, though
Providence led the people it had chosen to a right way of
conduct through special ordinances, it did not, neverthe-
less, withhold the gifts of its goodness from any nation
among men. They manifestly have been taught the pro-
nouncements of the Prophets and the precepts of the
Law by the things created 28 the services they received
from them and the lessons they gathered from them. 29
Hence, they had no excuse when they made into gods the
very gifts of God and when they turned into objects of
worship that which was created for their use.
Without divine grace, the more "keenly the will is intent
on action, the more quickly does it run into sin,
because it does not live for God's glory.
Even the nation which the Lord had separated unto
Himself from among all nations, would have fallen com-
pletely into this wickedness, had not the design of His
mercy taken care to support His elect who were ever
stumbling. The pages of the Old Testament are full of
the story of Israel's defections, in order that it may appear
clearly that it was always due only to divine grace when
not all the people fell away from the Lord. 31 Thus human
32 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
nature, vitiated in the first man's sin., is always inclined,
even when surrounded with God's mercies, with His pre-
cepts and aids, towards a degenerate will, to surrender to
which means sin. 32 This will, then, is unsettled, uncertain,
unsteadfast, unwise, weak to accomplish, quick to risk,
blind in desire, conceited when honoured, agitated with
cares, restless with suspicions, more desirous of glory than
of virtue, more solicitous of a good reputation than of a
good conscience, and through all its experiences still more
unhappy when enjoying what is coveted than when
deprived of it. It has of its own nothing but a readiness
to fall; for a fickle will which is not ruled by the change-
less will of God, runs the more quickly into sin the more
keenly it is bent on action. 33
As long, then, as man takes pleasure in what displeases
God, his will remains on a natural plane, because even
when his action is morally good, his life remains bad if
he does not live for God's glory. 34 For this is the chief
characteristic of the devout, that they glory in the Lord
and do not love themselves except in God. Hence, only
they love themselves well who love in their persons the
works of God. Obviously, God also loves in us what He
himself has wrought in us, and He hates what is not His
work. If, then, we love God's work in us, we rightly love
in ourselves the will for good which surely would not be
lovable if it were not God's creation. 35 But who is the
man except he be of a bad will, who would not love in
himself the good will, which is the first plant of the
heavenly Husbandman? When the Truth says, Every
plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall
be rooted up/ 6 it is clear that whatever is not to be rooted
up was planted by the Father. Now, good will is the first
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 33
seed of all virtues. When it relies on its source, it rests
on the eternal and unchanging will and thus truly becomes
spiritual 87 For he who is joined to God, is one spirit. 38
Then, through the communion of the Illuminator with
the illuminated, of the Justifier with the justified, of the
Ruler with the ruled all action is referred to one end, 39 and
this same action thus referred to one end belongs to both:
from God cannot be taken away what He has given, nor
from man what he has received. 40
When a man is converted to God, no new substance is
created in him, but his own which was spoiled is
remade. Nothing is taken away from him
but vice, and his former will is set right.
This seems to be the place to put the question: When
a man is converted to a will disposed to do good, is then
the will that was in him set right, or does he receive a
new will which he did not have before and which is the
reverse of his former one? 41 To make this clearer, let us
make the effort to look into the matter more thoroughly.
All of us have been created in the first man without any
blemish and we have all lost the integrity of our nature
through the sin of the same first man. Hence followed
mortality, hence the manifold corruption of body and
mind, ignorance and difficulty, useless cares, unlawful
desires, sacrilegious aberrations, vain fears, harmful love,
unholy pleasures, blamable designs, and as great a host
34 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
of woes as of sins. With these and other evils assailing
human nature, with faith lost, hope abandoned, the intel-
lect blinded, the will enslaved, 42 no one finds in himself
the means of a restoration. Although some tried, guided
by their natural reason, to resist vices, the life of decency
they led here on earth was sterile. They did not acquire
true virtues and attain eternal happiness. Without wor-
ship of the true God even what has the appearance of
virtue is sin. No one can please God without God. 43 But
he who does not please God, whom will he please but
himself and the devil?
When man was robbed by the devil, he was not deprived
of his will but of the righteousness of his will. 44 For man
could not be thrust down from the state of innocence
unless he sinned wilfully. Thus his nature which was
good has been infected by an evil quality; 45 and the soul's
aspiration which can never be without some love, that
is, without some will, has not lost its power of desiring
but it has changed its affections. It now embraces in
desire what it should have rejected by reason. When,
therefore, a man returns to God, the Scripture word
applies to him, a wind that goeth and returneth not, 46
because if God did not convert him, he would not return; 47
and when he becomes a new cast and a new creature, 48
then no new substance is created in him, but his own
which was shaken is restored. Nothing else is taken away
from him but the blemish which he did not have by
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 35
Grace repairs God's work in such a manner as not to take
away free will but rather to heal it by itself.
In Adam our nature existed without blemish, but
he by his wilful disobedience incurred many evils and
transmitted them to his posterity in whom they were to
multiply more and more. The victory over these evils
and their utter destruction only springs from the grace of
the Saviour who restores His own work with His own
labour. 49 For, as the Apostle John says. For this purpose
the Son of God appeared., that He might destroy the
works of the devil. 50 He it is who breaks the chains of the
prisoner. He clothes the nakedness of the robbed man,
He heals the injuries of the wounded, but all this in such a
manner that what He works in him is also effected by man
himself. 51 He indeed cannot risk to fight against his enemy
without a protector. He has to wage war against one who
once defeated him. He should, therefore, not trust in
his own strength which, even when it was unimpaired,
did not hold out; but let him seek victory through the
One who alone is unconquerable and who brought victory
And if he does seek victory, he should not doubt that
he has received this very desire of seeking it from Him
whom he is seeking. 52 And he should not think that,
because he is led by the Spirit of God, 53 he no longer has
free will. 54 This he did not lose even when he wilfully
surrendered himself to the devil. The devil perverted his
judgment that goes with the will, but did not take it
36 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
from him. What was not taken away 55 by the one who
inflicted a wound is still less destroyed by the One who
comes to heal. He heals the wound. He does not set aside
nature. But what was lost in nature cannot be restored
except by its Author; in whose sight what was lost in
nature did not perish. 56 He is eternal wisdom, eternal
truth, eternal goodness, eternal justice, He is, in short,
the eternal light of all virtues, and all that is virtue is
God. 57 Unless He works in us, we cannot be partakers of
any virtue. For indeed without this Good nothing is good,
without this Light nothing is bright, without this Wisdom
nothing is wise, without this Justice nothing is right. 58
For the Lord says through the mouth of Isaias, / am, I am
the Lord, and there is no one besides me who saves; 59 and
Jeremias says, / know, O Lord, that the way of a man is
not in him; neither is it in a man to direct his way. QO
Mortal man, born according to the flesh from a source
that was cursed in Adam, cannot come to the spiritual
dignity of the new birth except through the guidance of
the Holy Spirit. Indeed, he cannot even foster any desire
for it as long as he has not received from God the ardour
of this desire, 61 about which the Lord says, / am come to
cast fire on the earth, and what will I, but that it be
burning? 62 That fire is the love of God which a lover of
the world cannot conceive in his enslaved heart. He is
filled with the love of vain things, and even if he could
escape these to some extent, and, rising above temporal
and visible goods, attain through his own understanding
the eternal and invisible ones; 63 even if he could renounce
the worship of idols and give up the adoration of heaven
and earth and all the created things of this world; 64 even
so he would not conceive the faith and the love of Christ,
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 37
because he would be upset by His lowliness. He would
not with his own insight overcome the scandal of our
Lord's nativity and death. For, as the wisdom of the
world resists the wisdom of God, thus blinding the pride
of the self-conceited,, so it pleased God by the foolishness
of our preaching to save them that believe. 5 Hence, those
who are made arrogant by their worldly learning, think
that the Cross of Christ is something to be laughed at
rather than adored; and the higher a man rises in the
attainments of the human sciences, the more he scorns
the humility and feebleness of our preaching.
No wonder either, that pagan philosophy opposes the
Gospel of the Cross of Christ, when Jewish learning also
resists it. We conclude that neither the learned nor the
illiterate of whatever race or rank come to God led by
human reason; but every man who is converted to God
is first stirred by God's grace. 66 For man is no light unto
himself, nor can he inflame his own heart with a ray of
his own light. If Saint John than whom no son of men
was greater, 67 was not the light because he did not shine
with his own brightness, but had received the power to
enlighten others from the true Light which enlighteneth
every man that cometh into this world: what man is
there who would give up so many conflicting opinions,
so many constraining habits, so many inveterate preju-
dices, relying only on his own judgment and helped solely
by the spoken word of a teacher? Grace would then con-
sist only in the exterior hearing of the doctrine and the
whole of a man's faith would spring from his own will 68
If such were the case, there would be no difference between
grace and the Law; and the spirit of forgiveness would
enliven no one if the letter that kills remained. For indeed
38 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
the Law commands things to be done or avoided, but it
does not help one to do or to avoid them. 69 Its rigour is
complied with not out of free choice but out of fear. But
the Lord with a view not to destroy but to fulfil the Law, 70
through the help of His grace, made the command of the
Law effective, and through the abundance of His clemency
lifted its penal sanction so that He might not avenge sin
with punishments, but destroy it through forgiveness. 71
That is why the adulterous woman whom the Law pre-
scribed to be stoned, was set free by Him with truth and
grace, when the avengers of the Law frightened with the
state of their own conscience had left the trembling guilty
woman to the judgment of Him who had come to seek
and save what was lost. 72 And for that reason He, bowing
downthat is, stooping down to our human level and
intent on the work of our reform ationiorote with His
finger on the ground in order to repeal the Law of the
commandments with the decrees of His grace 74 and to
reveal Himself as the One who had said, I will give my
laws in their understanding and I will write them in their
heart. This indeed He does every day when He infuses
His will into the hearts of those who are called, and when
with the pen 76 of the Holy Spirit the Truth mercifully
rewrites on the pages of their souls all that the devil
Whenever, then, the word of God enters into the ears
of the body through the ministry of the preachers, the
action of the divine power fuses with the sound of a human
voice, 77 and He who is the inspirer of the preacher's office
is also the strength of the hearer's heart. Then the food
of the word becomes sweet to the soul; the darkness of
old is expelled by the new light; the interior eye is freed
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 39
from the cataracts of the ancient error; the soul passes
from one will to another, 78 and although the will that is
driven out lingers on for a while, yet the newborn one
claims for itself all that is better in man, so that the law
of sin and the law of God do not dwell in the same way
and together in the same man. 79 And then, whilst the
flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit also resists
the desires of the ftesh, 80 the tempter ventures to ambush
man through exterior objects; but the mind strong with
God's help prevails. For, obviously, there are occasions
for struggle and these serve the great profit of the faithful:
their weakness is buffeted that their holiness may not yield
to pride. 81 Hence, too, the Apostle says: Lest in the great-
ness of the revelations I should be exalted, there was given
me . . . an angel of Satan to buffet me. For which thing
thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me,
but He said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee, for
power is made perfect in infirmity. 82
Let, then, the Lord seek His image; 83 let the Good
Shepherd find His erring sheep and not disdain to bear
it, sick and tired for long of the trackless wilds, on His
shoulders, and save it not only by calling it back, but also
by carrying it along. Let the Lord seek His image, wash
away from it all accumulated uncleanness that has stained
it and so brighten up the mirror of the human heart. For
it is written: Who can make clean that is conceived of
unclean seed? Is it not Thou who only art? 84 Let the
Lord seek His image that in its renovation and justifica-
tion the grace of its Reformer may appear, as the Apostle
Paul testifies to have happened to himself when he says:
And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea,
which were in Christ. . . . They had heard only that he
40 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
who persecuted us in times past doth now preach the faith
which . . .he impugned. And they glorified God in me. 85
Such was the conviction of the Christian people at that
time, such the belief of the first members of the Church
who had but one heart and one soul: 86 when they saw a
man converted from his error to the acceptance of the
truth, they gave glory to God and confessed that the
convert's faith came from a divine gift. 87 The Lord Him-
self when instructing His disciples, the teachers of all
nations, said: So let your light shine before men, that,
seeing your good works, they may magnify your Father
who is in heaven. 88
When Scripture speaks of the good or the wicked, of the
elect or the reprobate, it mentions one class of men in
such wise that it seems as though no one is omitted.
It is in our own best interest, therefore, to hold that
all good things, especially those conducive to eternal life,
are obtained through God's favour, increased through
God's favour, and preserved through God's favour. 89 With
this faith firmly fixed and rooted in our hearts, I think
our religious sense ought not to be disturbed by the prob-
lem of the total or only partial conversion of mankind.
This is a condition we must keep that we do not permit
what is inaccessible to our knowledge to render obscure
what we know clearly, and that we do not, whilst wantonly
insisting on knowing what we cannot know, lose sight of
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 41
what we are able to know; 90 since It ought to be enough
for us to live on with the knowledge that we have gained. 91
[For, this we do know beyond any doubt: all beginning
and all increase of merit is for every man a gift of God.
Moreover, it is impossible that He who wills all men to be
saved would, for no reasons whatever, not save the greater
part of them. But we are not able to know these reasons,
which would not have remained secret had it been neces-
sary for us to know them. Here our faith is to be tested
in the things that are not visible; and we have always to
preserve our reverence for God's justice even when we do
not understand its course.] 92
What wonder, indeed, if some men do not come to the
sacraments of life 93 when they who seemed to have come
to them fall away? Of such it is said: They went out
from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been
of us, they would no doubt have remained with us. 94 Like
unto these are they who profess that they know God, but
in their works . . , deny Him. 95 For, though it be written,
Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be
saved?* yet of some the Lord says: Not every one that
saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father who is in
heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; 9T and,
Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in Thy name and cast out devils in Thy name
and done many miracles in Thy name? And then will I
say unto them: I never knew you. Depart from me, you
workers of iniquity** Such people do not really invoke
the name of the Lord because they do not have the Spirit
of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). 99
But, No man can say The Lord Jesus, but by the Holy
42 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Spirit; 10 and, Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God 101
They who come to God through God and with the desire
of being saved, are saved without fail, for they conceive
the very desire of salvation through God's inspiration,
and thanks to an illumination from Him who calls, they
come to the knowledge of the truth. They are indeed the
sons of promise, the reward of faith, the spiritual progeny
of Abraham, a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood 2
foreknown and foreordained 10S for eternal life according
to the testimony of the Holy Spirit expressed by the
prophet Jeremias: Behold the days shall come, saith the
Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel and with the house of Juda; not according to the
covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that
I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land
of Egypt, for they did not persevere in my covenant, and
I left them aside, saith the Lord. This is the covenant
that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,
saith the Lord: I will give my laws in their understanding,
and I will write them in their hearts; and I will be their
God, and they shall be my people. And no man shall
teach his neighbour, and no man his brother, saying:
Know the Lord. For all shall know me from the small
among them even to the great . . . , for I will forgive their
iniquities and I will remember their sins no more. 104 And
I will give them another way and another heart that they
may fear me all days for their good and that of their
children after them. And I will make an everlasting
covenant with them which I will not take away from
them; and I will give my fear in their heart, that they
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 43
may not revolt from me, and I will visit them, that I may
make them good. 105
Through Isaias also the Lord foretells the same things
about His grace by which He fashions all men into a new
creation. He says: Behold, I do new things which shall
spring forth, and you shall know them; I will make a
way in the wilderness and rivers in the dry land. The
beasts of the field shall bless me, the sirens and the young
of ostriches, because I have given water in the wilderness
and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to my chosen
race, to my people whom I have won unto me that they
may preach my powers. 106 And again: I have sworn by
myself, justice alone shall go out of my mouth and my
words shall not be turned away; for every knee shall be
bowed to me, and every tongue shall confess to God 107
If, then, it is not possible that these things shall not
take place, because God's foreknowledge is not faltering
and His design not changeable, nor His will inefficacious
nor His promise false, 108 then all, without any exception,
about whom these predictions were made are saved. He
establishes His laws in their understanding and writes
them with His finger in their hearts, so that they recognize
God not through the working of human learning, but
through the teaching of the Supreme Instructor; 109 for
neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that water-
eth, but God that giveth the increase. 110 All these, from
the small to the great, know God/ 11 because they have
heard and learned from the Father how to come to Christ.
All of them, led out of error, are directed towards the way
of life. To all is it given, with a change of heart, to know
the right thing and to will it. In all is implanted the fear
that makes them keep 112 the commandments of God. A
44 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
road is opened in the desert., the parched land is watered
with streams. They who formerly did not open their
mouths to praise God but like dumb and irrational
animals had taken on the ferocity of beasts, 113 now, hav-
ing drunk 114 at the fountain of the divine pronounce-
ments, bless and praise God and recount the power and
wonders of His mercy, how He chose them and adopted
them to be His sons and made them heirs of the New
Testament. Now if, as the Apostle says, a man's testa-
ment, if it be confirmed, no man despiseth nor addeth to
it, 115 how, then, could a divine promise in any manner
be possibly made void?
What, then, the Lord promised to Abraham without
a condition and gave without a law, remains absolutely
firm and sees its fulfilment every day. 116 It is true, some
who have heard this preached to them have not believed,
yet their unbelief has not made the faith of God without
effect. For God is true and every man a liar. 117 Obviously,
men who have heard the Gospel and refused to believe,
are all the more inexcusable than if they had not listened
to any preaching of the truth. But it is certain that in
God's foreknowledge they were not sons of Abraham and
were not reckoned among the number of them of whom
it is said, In thy seed all the tribes of the earth shall be
blessed. 118 He promised them the faith when He said:
And no man shall teach his neighbour, and no man his
brother,, saying: Know the Lord. For all shall know me
from the small among them even to the great. 119 He
promised them pardon when He said, I will forgive their
iniquities and I will remember their sins no more. 120 He
promised them an obedient heart when He said, I will
give them another heart and another way, that they may
THE GALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 45
fear me all days. 121 He promised them perseverance when
He said, I will give my fear in their heart, that they may
not revolt from me, and I will visit them, that I may make
them good. 122 Finally, to all without exception He prom-
ised the faith 123 when He said: / have sworn by myself,
justice alone shall go out of my mouth, and my words shall
not be turned away; for every knee shall be bowed to me,
and every tongue shall confess to GocL 124
If, then, we were to say that what God has sworn to
do will not take place, we would be ascribing heaven
forbid! falsehood to God and a lie to Truth. Our religious
faith prompts us to say that God's words do not fail, that
what He has decreed must come to pass. How, then,
are we to be convinced of the absolute truth of His
promise, when many thousands of men still serve demons
and bow their knees before idols? 125 Only by remember-
ing this: such pronouncements of God are made accord-
ing to that unchangeable knowledge 12Q in which He sees
ail mankind already divided. Whether He speaks of the
good only or of the wicked only, He does so in such a
manner that He seems to omit no one. 127 Thus, when
the Apostle says: The old things are passed away. Behold,
all things are made new 128 does he not seem to say that
all men have been renewed? Or when he says: Because
in Him it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness
should dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things
unto Himself 12 does he not speak as if he meant us to
understand that no one is excluded from this reconcilia-
tion? Or when he says: (God) in these latter days hath
spoken to us by His Son, whom Pie hath appointed heir
of all things 1 * does the statement as it stands mean any-
thing else than that all men have been transferred by the
46 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Father into Christ's inheritance, according to the prophecy
of David who said: Ask of me, and I will give Thee the
Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of
the earth for Thy possession? m And when the Lord says,
If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to
myself, 132 does it not look as if He promised the conver-
sion of each and every one? Or when a prophecy about
the Church says: Every valley shall be filled and every
mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked
shall become straight, and the rough ways plain, 1 would
one think that any man is passed by, any man not indi-
cated as a future subject of Christ? And what about this
text, And all flesh shall come before my face, to adore in
Jerusalem, saith the Lord; 134 or this one, And it shall
come to pass in those days, that I will pour out my Spirit
upon all flesh; 1S5 and this one, The Lord lifteth up all
that fall; and setteth up all that are cast down? 136 Does
it not sound as if no one is excluded from this favour
God's people, therefore, has a completeness all its own.
It is true that a great part of mankind refuse or neglect
the grace of their Saviour. In the elect, however, and
the foreknown who were set apart from the generality
of mankind, we have a specified totality. 137 Thus the whole
world is spoken of as though the whole of it had been
liberated, and all mankind as though all men had been
chosen. 138 So, too, in the texts concerning the reprobate
the divine Author speaks in such a way that what He says
of a certain part of mankind He seems to say of the whole
of it. 139 A case in point is this word of John the Baptist:
He that cometh from heaven is above all. And what He
hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 47
receiveth His testimony. UQ Or this saying of the Apostle,
All seek the things that are their own, not the things that
are Jesus Christ's. 1 * 1 Or these versicles of the Davidian
psalm: The Lord hath looked down from heaven upon
the children of men, to see if there be any that understand
and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are become
unprofitable together; there is none that doth good, not
one. 1 * 2
From these and other texts which could easily be multi-
plied by anyone looking for them, it is shown beyond
doubt that the whole earth is at times mentioned for a
part of it, the whole world for a part of the world and all
mankind for a section of it. 143 In these texts, however,
Scripture itself is generally quick to indicate the necessary
restriction, drawing the reader's attention away from the
whole that is expressly stated, to the part that is to be
understood by it. 144 Take, for example, this word of the
Apostle: We preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews indeed
a stumbling block and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but
unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ,
the power of God and the wisdom of God. 145 Is Christ
actually a power for those to whom He is a stumbling
block? Again, is He both wisdom and foolishness to
some? No some of these will be justified through faith
whilst others will become hardened in irreligion. Thus,
in one group, including both believers and unbelievers,
he sets apart some, namely the called. UQ In that way, he
pointed out, those whom he had said to be alien to the
faith, are also excluded from the call, though they had
heard the Gospel. 1
48 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Scripture speaks of the elect and the reprobate in one
nation as though it meant the same persons. 148
According to the same rule, 149 Sacred Scripture makes
a promise through Isaias: I will lead the blind into the
way they know not; and in the paths which they are
ignorant of they will walk. I will make darkness light
before them, and crooked things straight. These things
shall I do, and I shall not forsake them. 150 But what
follows,, They are turned back, 151 is to be applied to one
part of their race, not to those of whom it is said, I shall
not forsake them. Again the Lord says to Jacob: Fear
not, for I am with thee. I will bring thy seed from the
east, and gather thee from the west. I will say to the north:
Bring them; and to the south: Keep them not back.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends
of the earth, all those among whom my name is called
upon. I have created him for my glory, I have fashioned
him and made him. 152 But what follows, And I brought
forth a blind people, and their eyes are blind, and they
have deaf ears/ 53 can in no way apply to those whom He
says He has prepared for His glory. In fact, of all these
sayings uttered about one race of men a first set applies
to some persons, a second to others.
In the Apostle also we find narrated under the name
of the whole people what concerns only a part of them,
and this remaining part 154 is reckoned as a totality. For
instance, discoursing about the blindness of the Jews and
at the same time showing that some of them were saved
through grace, he says: I say then: Hath God cast away
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 49
His people? God forbid! For I also am an Israelite of the
seed of Abraham,, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not
cast away His people which He foreknew. 155
So, this foreknown people, this people not cast away,
these are the justified in Christ. What seems to be affirmed
of all Israel is shown to apply to those only whom grace
chose for its own, 156 as the sequel of the Apostle's discourse
relates. He goes on to say: Know you not what the Scrip-
ture saith of Elias, how he calleth on God against Israel?
"Lord, they have slain Thy prophets, they have dug down
Thy altars. And I am left alone, and they seek my life."
But what saith the divine answer to him? "I have left me
seven thousand men that have not bowed their knees to
Baal." Even so then, 157 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. 158 Not the whole of Israel, therefore, was
rejected; nor was the whole of it chosen. Rather, a wilful
blindness turned away one section, while the light of grace
kept the other as its own. 159 And yet they are spoken of
as if no division had been made of the whole people, in
those who perish and those who are saved. For when we
read: As concerning the Gospel, indeed, they are enemies
for your sake; hut as touching the election of God, they
are beloved for the sake of the fathers, 1 it sounds as
though he called "beloved" those whom he has termed
"enemies." But the Apostle himself dispelled this obscur-
ity by adding that blindness in part has happened in
Israel. 161 We have to understand that one genus is divided
into two species and that expressions like "all men," "all
fulness," "all Israel," need not always designate a totality
but often only a part. 162
50 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Scripture speaks of men of different ages as if
they were one and the same generation.
Among these various ways of speaking found in Scrip-
ture there is still another to which we should turn our
attention. What refers to men of different ages is pre-
sented as if it applied to but one generation, to men of
one lifetime. 168 Thus the Apostle Saint Peter,, writing for
the people of his own time and of the future, says: But
you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood y a holy
nation, a purchased people; that you may declare His
virtues., who hath called you out of darkness into His
marvellous light; who in time past were not a people,,
but now are the people of God; who had not obtained
mercy y but now have obtained mercy. , 1G4 Were, at the time
of this preaching, all those men still alive whom God in
times past suffered to walk in their own ways? 165 And
those who had once been delivered unto their own desires,
are they identically the same people who now will be
called 1QQ out of the darkness into His marvellous light?
Had they not already died in their ignorance? Were
they any longer in the world? And was there any return
from error to truth for those who had died in times past?
Yet in speaking, usage is such that when grace conquered
the descendants of the ungodly, we seem to say 16T that
those are chosen now who were once forsaken. What is
said here, however, does not apply to the same men but to
men of the same race. The call which appeared at the
approach of the end of the world 168 has no retrospective
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 51
effect on the past ages. So those about whom these things
are successively said are, in a sense, the same men and
yet not the same men. While in one case special consider-
ations are not distinguished from general ones, in another
they are. 169
The word of the Apostle, "who will have all men to
be saved," is to be understood in its
entire and full meaning.
When devotees of sophistical wranglings 17 read or
hear this, they will object that our arguments contradict
and fulness, we mean to take nothing from the context
the Apostle who teaches that God will have all men to be
saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 171 We
accept this brief sentence of the Apostle in its entirety
preceding it or following it. 172 Let us leave aside all other
testimonies of the inspired writings. This one passage
will do to refute their slanderous objection and to defend
what they impiously deny.
Now, then, the Apostle Paul, teacher of the Gentiles,
writing to Timothy, says: / desire, therefore, first of all,
that supplications, intercessions, thanksgivings be made
for all men, for kings and for all that are in high station:
that we mat/ lead a quiet and peaceable life in all piety
and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight
of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved
and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is
one God and one Mediator of God and men, the man
Christ Jesus who gave Himself a redemption for all. m
For the universal Church this constitutes a fundamental
52 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
norm of the Apostle's teaching. 174 Let us, then, seek the
mind of the universal Church about it in order not to
understand it ainiss by relying on our own judgment.
There can be no doubt about what is enjoined, if the
efforts made by all those who obey are the same. 170
The Apostle commands-~-rather, the Lord speaking
through the Apostle commands through him that suppli-
cations and intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all
men, for kings and for all that are in high station. All
priests and all the faithful, adhere unanimously to this
norm of supplication in their devotions. There is no part
of the world in which Christian peoples do not offer up
these prayers. The Church, then, pleads before God
everywhere, not only for the saints 177 and those regen-
erated in Christ, but also for all infidels and all enemies
of the Cross of Christ, for all worshippers of idols, for all
who persecute Christ in His members, for the Jews whose
blindness does not see the light of the gospel, for heretics
and schismatics who are alien to the unity of faith and
But what does she beg for them if not that they leave
their errors and be converted to God, that they accept
the faith, accept charity, that they be freed from the
shadows of ignorance and come to the knowledge of the
truth? They cannot do this by themselves: they are
struggling under the weight of vicious habits and are
ensnared by the bonds of Satan. They are powerless before
their own deceptions; so stubbornly do they cling to them
that they love falsehood in the measure truth should be
loved. Hence the merciful and just Lord wishes that
prayers be offered Him for all men. When we see count-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 53
less souls drawn out of such deep misery, we should have
no doubt that God is granting a prayerful request. While
thanking Him for those who are saved., we should hope-
fully pray that the same divine grace may deliver from
the power of darkness those who are still without light
and conduct them into the kingdom of God before they
depart this life. 1
We cannot understand in this life the deep mystery,
why the grace of God passes by some men for
whom the Church offers prayers.
We indeed see it happen that the grace of the Saviour
passes by some men and that the prayers of the Church
in their favour are not heard. 180 This must be ascribed
to the secret judgments of divine justice. We must
acknowledge that we cannot understand this profound
mystery in this life. 181 For we know in part, and we
prophesy in part; 182 and we see now through a glass in
a dark manner. 18 * We are neither wiser nor better
informed than the most blessed Apostle. When he entered
into the secret of these great mysteries in explaining the
power of grace,, he was overcome by the things that are
beyond all utterance. He said: For I would not have you
ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you should he
wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part has
happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should
come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written:
"There shall come out of Sion, He that shall deliver and
shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to
them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins.
54 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for
your sake; but as touching the election, they are most
dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the call-
ing of God are without repentance. For as you also in
times past did not believe God, but now have obtained
mercy, through their unbelief: so these also now have
not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain
mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that He
may have mercy on all. 185
Enraptured, as it were, he had poured out these mysteri-
ous statements on the divine ways which are beyond all
bounds of human understanding; then, as though dazed,
he broke off all logical sequence in his discourse. 186
Astounded at the things he had uttered, he exclaimed:
O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowl-
edge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments,
and 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 for ever. Amen. 187
Quite obviously, what he had been teaching above,
raised many questions. 188 For example, one could inquire
why God's grace works in a different way in many peoples
and ages. Why, namely, were all nations in former ages
left to walk in their own ways, 189 when Israel alone was
singled out to be instructed by God's own words and was
chosen to know the truth, whereas in the end her unbelief
was to be the occasion for the salvation of the Gentiles?
Could not the mercy of God, because this one people per-
severed in its ancestral faith, bestow itself also on the
other nations? Indeed, why could not they whose down-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 55
fall means salvation for the nations, be freed from
their blindness before the fulness of the Gentiles should
come in? 19 Could they not receive the light at one time
with all mankind, they, who after the conversion of all
nations will yet be saved? Or how 191 can the whole of
Israel be freed from its blindness and saved when a count-
less number of them die in unbelief and never obtain the
promised chance for salvation? Or how can one say of the
Gentiles, too, who were not called at first, that the fulness
of them now comes in, when so many thousands of men
of every age and station in life, in all the nations that live
under the sun, die without the justification of Christ?
But the reasons of these mysterious decrees our God-
fearing and learned teacher preferred to leave hidden in
the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of
God, rather than rashly to seek what is withheld from
our human knowledge, namely, the secret of the most just
Truth and the most merciful Goodness. He omitted noth-
ing of what we should know, but he did not touch on what
is not given to us to see. 192
In the dispensation of God's works the reasons of many
things remain hidden and only the facts are manifest.
In the divine economy the reasons of many things actu-
ally remain hidden and only the facts become known. 193
We see what takes place, we do not see why it happens.
The event itself is plain, its reason is kept hidden. Thus
56 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
about the same event no one can presume to scrutinize
the inscrutable or to deny falsely what is evident. I do not
know, for example, why this man was created a Greek
and that one a barbarian, why this one was born in wealth
and another in destitution; why the strength and beauty
of a stately body exalts this one, whilst the withered thin-
ness of feeble limbs deforms that man; why one is born
of Catholic stock and nourished in the cradle of the faith,
while another is a child of heretics and drinks with his
mother's milk the poison of error.
A thousand other differences in the conditions of the
bodies and the qualities of the minds, in the circumstances
of time and the customs of the countries, I cannot account
for. But I do not for that reason fail to know that God is
the Creator and Ruler of all these things. He did indeed
create the bodies and souls of each and every man. Besides
the diversity following from the pursuits which each man
chooses. He himself produces a great and manifold diver-
sity at the very beginning of each one's existence. 194 Brag-
garts with their many fancies would disturb us and lead
us astray: they rashly presumed to explain the unknown
and ascribe these original inequalities to the fates 195
which do not existor to the stars. 196 But we know with
absolute certitude that God our Creator forms each indi-
vidual from the original elements just as He pleases, and
that though bodies are of one nature and souls of one
nature, He tempers them according to the measures most
agreeable to Him. 197 These works of God would not be
withdrawn from our human understanding, were there
any need for us to know them. It would be revealed why
each particular event takes place, were it not sufficient
to know that it happens. 1
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 57
The Lord says to Moses, Who gave man a mouth, or
who made dumb and deaf, seeing and Mind? Did not I,
the Lord God? 199 And through Isaias, Behold, is it not
I who made barren and fecund? saith the Lord. 200 The
Book of Eccleslasticus reads, Good things and evil, life and
death, poverty and riches, are from God. 201 And Job says,
The tabernacles of robbers abound, and they provoke God
boldly; whereas it is He that hath given all into their
hands. 202 The same, treating about the growth and de-
cline of all human things and ascribing all changes to
God's judgments, says again: With Him is wisdom and
strength, He hath counsel and understanding. If He pull
down., there is no man that can build up. If He shut up
a man, there is none that can open. If He withhold the
waters, all things shall be dried up; if He send them out,
they shall overturn the earth. With Him is strength and
wisdom; He knoweth both the deceiver and him that is
deceived. He bringeth counsellors to a foolish end, and
judges to insensibility. He looseth the belt of kings, and
girdeth their loins with a cord. He leadeth away priests
without glory, and overthroweth nobles. He changeth the
speech of the true speakers, and taketh away the doctrine
of the aged. He poureth contempt upon princes, and
relieveth them that were oppressed. He discovereth deep
things out of darkness, and bringeth up to light the
shadow of death. He multiplieth nations and destroyeth
them, and will restore them again after they were over-
thrown. He changeth the heart of the princes of the earth
and deceiveth them, that they walk in vain where there
is no way. They shall grope as in the dark, and not in
the light; and He shall make them stagger like men that
are drunk. 2 And again, explaining that God's will can-
58 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
not be frustrated, he says. For He is alone, and no man
can turn away His thought. And whatsoever His soul
desireth, that will He c?o. 204
We may not attribute the salvation of a part of mankind
to their own merits, as if grace chose the
good and passed by the wicked. 20 *
One section of mankind attains salvation., the other
perishes. Were we to ascribe this to individual merits and
say that grace left off the wicked and chose the good, then
we would be faced with the case of countless peoples to
whom for so many ages no messenger of the heavenly
doctrine has appeared. 206 And we should not say that their
posterity were better than they, for it is written of them:
The nation of the Gentiles that was sitting in darkness
has seen a great light; and to them that were sitting in
darkness and the shadow of death, light is risen; 207 and it
is to these that the Apostle Peter says: But you are a chosen
generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased
people, that you may declare His virtues, who hath called
you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who in time
past were not a people, but are now the people of God; on
whom once He had no mercy, but now He shows mercy. 208
Therefore, what the fathers 209 did not merit, the sons did
not receive on account of their merits. For indeed, fathers
and sons alike were steeped in irreligion, the blindness of
ignorance plunged them both in the same errors.
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 59
But who is so learned as to understand, or who is so
wise as to discover why God did not have mercy on the
former, hut was merciful towards the latter? The reason
of this discrimination escapes us; the difference itself we
see. We do not understand God's judgment, but we see His
work. Shall we accuse His justice which is hidden, when
we must give thanks for His mercy which is manifest? No,
let us praise and reverence God's action, while there is no
risk in not knowing what He keeps veiled. 2
Before the use of reason all children are alike., yet some
pass to eternal life, others to eternal death; this
is a proof of God's inscrutable judgments.
Consider also 211 the case of the whole multitude of chil-
dren. In none of them do you find deserts, neither past nor
future, only the sin in which the whole human race is born
unto damnation. We speak now of children before the
use of reason and before they are able to make any use of
their free will. Some are regenerated in baptism and pass
on to eternal happiness, others are not reborn and go to
unending misery. 212
You may say, they have original sin; yes, they have it,
but all are equally guilty. Or you look for moral inno-
cence; agreed, but none of them has sinned. Our human
sense of justice can see no reason for discrimination, but
God's ineffable grace finds subjects for election. 213 His
design is secret, but His gift is manifest. It is His mercy
60 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
that inspires the work. His power that hides from us the
reason. But both what we see and what we do not see is
equally above suspicion. When He is the Author of what
we see taking place, we cannot withhold our praise of His
justice, though it surpasses our understanding. 2
Deathbed conversions of sinners are a proof that
grace is given unmerited and that God's
judgments are inscrutable.
Now turn your attention to the case of sinners who
after a long lifetime of shame and crime receive new life
in the sacrament of Christ's baptism just before they de-
part from this world. 215 Without any good works to plead
for them they are admitted to the communion of the king-
dom of heaven. How will you understand this judgment
of God? You can only confess unhesitatingly that God's
gifts are unmerited. There are no crimes so hateful that
can prevent the gift of grace, just as there can be no good
works so excellent that can claim as their just reward what
God gives gratuitously. 216
Suppose that justification, which is the work of grace,
were due to previous merits; suppose it were like the pay
of a labourer rather than the gift of a Donor: would not
then our Redemption in the blood of Christ be debased,
and the initiative claimed by human works refuse to yield
to God's mercy? 217 And how could you then show that no
human industry is able to remove original sin? You could
never show it unless both unbelievers and sinners were
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 61
through the laver of Christ admitted into His kingdom;
and unless they who glory in their innocence acknowledge
how they can really do nothing worthy of the adoption of
the sons of God when they have not received the sacra-
ment of regeneration. For in this respect they are in the
same condition as the greatest sinners; regenerated in bap-
tism they are alike in sanctity; take away baptism, and
they perish all together. 218
It is a fact, then, that grace seeks its adopted sons even
among the worst sinners in their very last moments, and
that many who looked less wicked are denied this gift.
But who could say that these facts escape God's ruling or
that He decrees them without a profound justice? 219 And,
obviously, there is no injustice here merely because this
is shrouded in mystery, rather there is justice because it
flows from God's decree. In fact, for what depends solely
on God's free decision we cannot know definitely what
His judgment will be, before He decrees the facts. 220 But
when the facts have taken place, no one is left free to com-
plain of the outcome of God's decree, for it is altogether
certain that He had not to act otherwise than He did. 221
He Himself has illustrated the diversity of His manifold
calling, pertaining to the same grace, by the celebrated
example of the Gospel parable. There He shows a house-
holder who hires workmen for his vineyard at different
hours of the day on a contract of a denarius a day. 222 Now,
it is clear that the man sent to the vineyard at the eleventh
hour to work with those who had laboured the whole day,
represents the class of people of whom we are now treat-
ing. God's mercy shows them this generosity at the de-
cline of the day, that is, at the end of their life, to reveal
the excellence of His grace. For He does not pay the price
62 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
of their labour, but showers on them whom He has chosen
without works of their own, the riches of His goodness.
Thus they also who laboured the whole day long in the
sweat of their brow and did not receive more than the
latecomers, have to understand that they were given a
gratuitous gift, not the reward of their labours.
Shall we, too, murmur against the Householder be-
cause He gives the same wages to those called last and to
the full-time labourers, and because no greater compen-
sation is earned by much labour than by labour that is
scarcely existent? Then we shall have to hear what one
of those men was told: Friend, I do thee no wrong. Didst
thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine
and go thy way. I will also give to this last even as to thee.
Or, is it not lawful for me to do with my property what
1 will? Or, is thy eye evil because I am good? 223 Clearly,
to this grumbler such liberality seemed unjust. 224 What
lesson was he taught? What explanation was he given?
He was not told anything as to the justice of this ruling;
he was not given any insight into the hidden mystery. But
that he might refrain from discussing God's judgments,
he was confronted with the goodness of His mercy and
the power of His will 225 The Apostle's word might have
been addressed to Him also: 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? 226
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 63
Grace, the condition sine qua non of all merit., is given
unmerited purely out of God's good pleasure.
God's will, therefore, is the sole reason why grace is
bestowed on any man, whatever be his nation or race, his
state or age. 227 In that will does the motive of his election
lie hidden. Merit begins with grace,, which was itself
received unmerited. If merit could be gained without
grace, we would not have these words,, Unless a man be
born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God; 22S and. Except you eat the flesh
of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have
life in you; 229 we would rather hear, "Unless a man be
just and good he cannot attain eternal happiness."
There would be no need of being born again of water
and of the Spirit, if it were sufficient to know the Law. 230
We believe that in baptism all sins are forgiven; this faith
would be vain if we were taught that grace is not given
to the wicked and the ungodly, but only to the good and
the righteous. Thus the source of true life and of true
justice lies in the sacrament of regeneration. When man
is born again, then his virtues begin to be true/ 31 then
they 232 who could hardly gain an earthly reward of vain
praise, 233 begin through faith to advance towards eternal
glory. Before a man is justified, be he a Jew proud of his
knowledge of the Law or a Greek conceited with the study
of natural wisdom, he is imprisoned under sin. 234 Were
he to persist in his unbelief, the anger of God would re-
main upon him, the anger incurred in Adam's sin.
64 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
The Apostle speaks of this where he says: And you,
when you were dead in your offences and sins, wherein in
times past you walked according to the course of this world.,
according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit
that now worketh on the children of unbelief; in which
also we conversed in time past, in the desires of our flesh,
fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and
were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; 235 and
again: That you were at that time without Christ, being
aliens from the conversation of Israel and strangers to the
testament, having no hope of the promise and without God
in the world; 23e and again: You were heretofore darkness,
but now light in the Lord; 237 and again: Giving thanks to
God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers
of the lot of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from
darkness and the power of darkness and hath translated us
into the kingdom of the Son of His love; 238 and again: For
we ourselves also were some time unwise, incredulous, err-
ing, slaves of divers desires and pleasures, living in malice
and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the
goodness and kindness of our Saviour appeared, not by the
works of justice which we have done, but according to His
mercy, He saved us by the lover of regeneration of the Holy
Spirit. Whom He hath poured forth upon us abundantly,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that being justified by
His grace, we may be heirs according to the hope of life
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 65
What nature is without grace.
To explain in a very few words what human nature is
without grace, 240 let the Apostle Jude tell us what both
the ignorance of the uncultured and the learning of the
wise produce. But these men, he says, blaspheme whatever
things they know not; and what things soever they nat-
urally know, like dumb beasts, in these they are cor-
rupted. 2 * 1 Let also the Evangelist Luke tell us in the words
of Zacharias what night envelops the human race before
the light of grace shines on it, and from what shadows of
ignorance God's people is freed. And thou, child, he says,
shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt
go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give
knowledge of salvation to His people unto the remission of
their sins, on account of the bowels of the mercy of the
Lord, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us,
to shine before them that sit in darkness and in the shadow
of death; to direct our feet into the way of peace. 2
Our Lord in His deep mercy wishes to save all nations and
is actually working for their salvation, yet it
is true that no one accepts His word.
In this His deep mercy, the Lord wishes not only to
redeem one people but to save all nations, 243 as the Evan-
66 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
gelist says: That Jesus should die for the nation. And not
only for the nation, but also to gather together in one the
dispersed children of God. 244 That is the meaning of our
Lord's great proclamation which, like a trumpet resound-
ing with His loving-kindness throughout the world,
invites and summons all men. For after He had said:
/ confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, be-
cause Thou hast hid these things from the wise and the
prudent and hast revealed them to the little ones. Yea,
Father; for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight, He added:
All things are delivered to me by my Father. And no one
knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither doth any one
know the Father, but the Son and he to whom it shall
please the Son to reveal Him; and then further: Come to
me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will re-
fresh you. Take up my yoke upon you and learn of me,
because I am meek and humble of heart; and you shall find
rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden
light. 2 * 5 John the Baptist, too, proclaims with prophetic
insight, in the Gospel of John: He that cometh from heaven
is above all What He hath seen and heard, He testifieth;
and no man receiveth His testimony. He that receiveth
His testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true. 246
Reflecting, therefore, the blindness which the human
race contracted in its long night of ignorance and pride, the
Creator of the world came into the world, and the world
knew Him not; 24T The light shineth in darkness, and the
darkness did not comprehend it; 24S He ... is above all;
what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no
man receiveth His testimony. 2 ** But not in vain did God,
the Son of God, corne into this world and give Himself for
all and die, not only for the nation, but to gather in one
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 67
the dispersed children of GocL 250 And He says to all, Come
to me, all you that labour and are burdened. 2 * 1 Keeping to
Himself the deciding motive of an election that is unknow-
able to us, He communicates the knowledge of Himself
and of the Father to whomsoever He chooses to reveal it. 252
For these reasons do all the sons of light, sons of the
promise, sons of Abraham, sons of God, a chosen people, a
kingly priesthood, true Israelites, foreknown and foreor-
dained for the kingdom of God who has called them not
only from among the Jews but also from among the Gen-
tiles, 233 accept the word of Him who came down from
heaven, and by so doing, they seal God's truthfulness;
that is, they clearly show in their own salvation that God
is truthful, namely, that He is actually fulfilling the prom-
ise He made to Abraham, the father of all the nations.
When he was promised by God that he was to be the heir
of the world, he staggered not by distrust; but was strength-
ened in faith, giving glory to God and most fully knowing
that what He has promised, He is able also to perform. 25 *
But who is so alien to Abraham's faith, who has sunk so
low in his descent from the father of all nations as to say
that God's promise is not fulfilled or that it is fulfilled by
another than Him who made it? That man would be a
liar. But God is truthful, and everyone who accepts His
word is a living witness proclaiming that God's light shin-
ing on him made him see, made him obey, made him un-
derstand. This John the Evangelist attests, saying: We
know that . . . the whole world is seated in wickedness.
And we know that the Son of God is come. And He hath
given us understanding that we may know the true God
and may be in His true Son. 255
68 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
We must not seek to know why God chooses some
and not others, nor why in the past He left aside
all the Gentiles and chose Israel alone.
You may ask why the Saviour of all men did not give
to all the understanding which enables men to know the
true God, and to be, that is, to remain, in His true Son. 256
Although we believe that the help of grace was never fully
withheld from any one (we shall treat of this more fully
in the following 25T ) , yet the reason you ask about remains
veiled in much the same way as is hidden from us the mo-
tive for which God formerly left aside all the Gentiles and
took one people for His own in order to raise them to the
knowledge of the truth. If we must not complain of this
latter judgment of God, much less can we murmur against
His way of ruling the election of all the Gentiles. We must
not scrutinize what God wants to be hidden, but we may
not disregard what He made manifest, else we may be
wrongly inquisitive about the former and deserve blame
for not gratefully receiving the latter. 208
We know quite well that some people 259 are so incon-
siderate in their presumption and so arrogant in their
pride that they dare to profane with their pretended learn-
ing what the great Teacher of the Gentiles was taught not
of men, neither by men/ 60 but by God, and what he con-
fessed to be far above all limitations of his knowledge.
They would see nothing mysterious or secret in those
things of which the Apostle refrained from giving any
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 69
explanation, and only made plain what we must not search
into. As we have already said above, 261 it is not given to
any human study or genius to explore the decree and de-
sign according to which God, who is invariably good, in-
variably just, ever foreknowing, ever omnipotent, hath
concluded all in unbelief, that He may have mercy on
all; 262 yet He delayed for centuries, while He was educat-
ing Israel, to enlighten the countless peoples of infidels;
and now He allows that same Israel to go blind till the
universality of the Gentiles enter the fold. He allows so
many thousands of this people to be born and die to be
lost, when only those whom the end of the world will find
alive will attain salvation. 263 From the explanation which
all the Scriptures give of this mystery we learn what has
happened in the past, what is taking place at present, and
what remains to come about. But why God's good pleas-
ure decreed all this, is withheld from the ken of human
Those who see in human merit the reason why God dis-
tinquishes between some whom He selects and others
whom He does not elect, teach that no one is
saved gratuitously but only in justice; the
case of infants refutes their position.
Those men who feel ashamed to acknowledge ignorance
in any matter, and who when faced with an obscure ques-
tion throw out their snares of deception, 264 see in human
merit the reason why God discerns whom He has elected 265
TO ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
and whom He has not for many are called but few are
chosen. 2 Consequently,, they teach that no one is saved
gratuitously but only in justice, because all men are able
by natural means to discover the truth if they wish, and
grace is given freely to all who beg for it. 267
This statement/ 68 not to speak now of what is really
meant by grace, 269 may be able to show some sort of pre-
tence in the case of adults who have the use of their free
will. But for infants who lack altogether the merit of a
will to do good and who, just like all other mortals, are
wounded with original sin, they can offer no explanation
whatever. Why are some of them regenerated in baptism
and saved, while others fail to Jbe reborn and are lost? 27
How can this happen in spite of the Providence and om-
nipotence of Him in whose hand is the soul of every living
thing and the spirit of all flesh of man, 271 and to whom
was said. The days of man are short., and the number of
his days is with Thee? 272
But I do not think that these patrons of human liberty
will so impudently misuse the simplicity of men as to as-
sert that all this happens by chance, or that the unbap-
tised are not lost. 273 For then they would show plainly that
they either share the views of the pagans about fate, or
deny with the Pelagians that Adam's sin is transmitted
to his posterity. But even the Pelagians could not say that
it is due to fate that children happen not to receive bap-
tism. And when they ventured to assert that infants are
free from sin, they were rightly condemned. 274 But when
the question is raised about the discrimination of all man-
kind, one cannot very well exclude infants from all man-
kind. And since, too, He who is Truth, said of all men of
all ages indiscriminately, The Son of man is come to seek
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 71
and to save that which was lost* 75 they try in vain to
sound the depth of grace which is unsearchable, with
their "free will," and to find in human merits the reason
for the election of all those who happen to be chosen.
Though they did advance many silly and false statements
about the will and judgment of adults, 276 they fail to ac-
count for the discrimination among infants; and they
cannot boast of having given a satisfactory answer to a
question that concerns all men/ 77 but which they fail to
solve for all.
All human merit from the beginning of faith to final
perseverance is a divine gift. This is shown
first regarding faith.
The rich variety and the greatness of divine grace 278
show that the theories of those men are false even when
they speak of the wills of adults. 279 The evidence of the in-
spired writings refutes their opinion. If we wanted to quote
all these texts, our dissertation would never end. We shall,
however, mention some that come to our mind. Our pur-
pose is to show as far as is necessary that a man's merit
from the beginning of faith to final perseverance 28 is a
gift and a work of God.
To begin with faith, which is the source of good will and
of righteous actions the Apostle Paul explains whence
it springs when he gives thanks to God for the faith of the
72 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Romans in these words: First, I give thanks to my God,
through Jesus Christ, for you all, because your faith is
spoken of in the whole world. 231 When writing to the Ephe-
sians, too,, he says: Wherefore I also, hearing of your faith
that is in the Lord Jesus and of your love towards all the
saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making com-
memoration of you in my prayers, that the God of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you
the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in view of the
knowledge of Him: the eyes of your heart enlightened,
that you may know what the hope is of His calling, what
are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the
saints. 282 Likewise,, thanking God for the faith of the Co-
lossians, he says: We give thanks to God and the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, hearing
your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have
towards all saints, for the hope that is laid up for you in
heaven. . . , 283 And he explains what other good things
he is asking for them in his prayers to the same Author
of all good things, saying: Therefore we also, from the
day that we heard it, cease not to pray for you and to beg
that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in
all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that you may
walk worthy of God, pleasing Him; being fruitful in
every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
strengthened with all might, according to the power of
His glory, in all patience and long-suffering with /oy. 284 In
the same sense, to the Thessalonians with their ardent
spirit of faith and love, he says: We give thanks to God
always for you all: making a remembrance of you in our
prayers without ceasing, being mindful of the work of
your faith and labour and charity and of the enduring of
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 73
the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our
Father. 285 And further: Therefore, we also give thanks to
God without ceasing: because, that when you had re-
ceived of us the word of the hearing of God, you received
it, not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word
of God, who worketh in you that have believed. 286
Could there be a fuller or more evident proof that the
faith of the believers is a gift of God, than these thanks
given to God precisely because they who heard the word
of God in man's preaching did not disbelieve in it as com-
ing from a man's mouth, but believed in God speaking
through men and producing in their hearts this very faith?
In his Second Epistle to the same Thessalonians the Apos-
tle speaks about the faith of those who are advancing in
Christ, in these words: We are bound to give thanks always
to God for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith
groweth exceedingly and the charity of every one of you to-
wards each other aboundeth. So that we ourselves also
glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and
faith in all your persecutions and tribulations which you
endure for an example of the just judgment of God, that
you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for
which you also suffer. 287
The Apostle Peter also preaches that faith comes from
God, and writes: Knowing that you were not redeemed
with corruptible things, as gold and silver, from your vain
conversation of the tradition of your fathers, but with the
precious blood of Christ Jesus, as of a lamb unspotted and
undefiled, foreknown indeed before the foundation of
the world, but manifested in the last times for you; who
through Him are faithful to God who raised Him up from
the dead and hath given Him glory, that your faith and
74 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
hope might be in the Lord. 2B8 The same again in his
Second Epistle speaks of receiving the faith in these words:
Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them
that have obtained equal faith with us through the justice
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 289
The Apostle John indicates very clearly the source of
the spirit of faith, when he says: Every spirit which con-
fesseth that Jesus is come in the flesh, is of God; and
every spirit that dissolveth Jesus is not of God. And this
is Antichrist. 2 He also says that only a man who has
the spirit of truth accepts the Gospel. We, says he, are of
God. He that knoweth God heareth us. He that is not
of God, heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of
truth and the spirit of error. 291
Again, in the Acts of the Apostles we hear Peter the
Apostle proclaiming that faith comes from the Lord Jesus
Christ. He says: This man, whom you see and know,
hath His name strengthened. And the faith which is by
Him hath given this perfect soundness in the sight of you
all. 222 In the same narrative we read of the faith of Lydia
whom the Lord singled out among the women that heard
the Gospel to open her heart: And upon the Sabbath day
we went forth without the gate by a river side, where it
seemed that there was prayer; and sitting down, we spoke
to the women that were assembled. And a certain woman
named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira,
one that worshipped God, did hear: whose heart the
Lord opened to attend to those things which were said
by Pau/. 293
The word of the Truth itself confirms that faith does
not originate in human wisdom but in a divine inspiration;
for the Lord said to His disciples: But whom do you say
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 75
that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art
Christ, the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answering
said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon, Bar-Jona, because
flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father
who is in heaven. 2M
The Apostle Paul preaches that this same faith is given
in a measure determined by the will of the Giver: For
I say by the grace that is given me, to all that are among
you not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but
to be wise unto sobriety, according as God hath divided to
every one the measure of faith. 2Q5 He also writes that it
is God who gives unity in the true faith and concord in
praising God. Noio,, he says, the God of patience and com-
fort grant you to be of one mind, one towards another,
according to Jesus Christ, that with one mind and with
one mouth you may glorify God and the Father of our
Lord Jesus C/irisL 296 And further: Now the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may
abound in hope and in the power of the Holy Spirit. 297 This
text teaches that not only faith, but also joy and peace
and abundance of hope cannot be had except through the
power of the Holy Spirit.
Again, when writing to the Ephesians the Apostle men-
tions the riches of grace which returns good for evil; and,
speaking of faith which is not our conquest but God's
gift, he says: But God, who is rich in mercy, for His ex-
ceeding charity wherewith He loved us even when we were
dead in sins, hath quickened us up together in Christ, by
whose grace we are saved, and hath raised us up together
and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places,
through Christ Jesus. . . . For by grace you are saved
through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift
76 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
of God; not of works, that no man may glory. For we are
His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus in good works
which God hath prepared that we should walk in them. 29B
The new creation, then, that rises from grace causes them
who are God's handiwork and who through a heavenly
birth are established in Christ, not to indulge in an idle
life nor to yield to slothfulness, but rather to advance from
virtue to virtue along the path of good works. That is the
meaning of being "His handiwork," of being changed from
the old creation to the new, of being reformed from the
likeness of the earthly man into the likeness of the heav-
enly one. This may be done visibly through such as co-
operate with grace, or in a hidden manner through the
ministry of the Spirit. In either case beginning, increase,
and completion are the work of Him whose husbandry,
whose building, 29Sa whose handiwork we are.
Grace is the source of all good in man. Faith is
given unasked and enables us to obtain
in prayer all other blessings.
This evidence from Scripture and we could gather
many other textsdemonstrates abundantly, I think, that
faith which justifies a sinner cannot be had except for
God's gift, and that it is not a reward for previous merits. 299
Rather is it given that it may be a source of merit, and
while it is itself given unprayed for, the prayers it inspires
obtain 30 all other favours. To prove this some texts out of
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 77
many must be cited which will show the bounty of grace
In the variety of its gifts. To begin with,, it is God who
causes a man to choose God's way or to rise from a fall,
as we read in the Psalm in which David sings: By the
Lord shall the steps of a man be directed, and he shall like
well His way. When he shall fall, he shall not be bruised,
for the Lord putteth His hand under him. 301 He also says
that God guides men to come to God: Send forth Thy
light and Thy truth: they have conducted me and brought
me into Thy holy hill and into Thy tabernacles* 02 He
says likewise that a man's strength rests in the Lord, and
that God's will takes the initiative in a man's liberation:
I will keep my strength to Thee, for Thou, God, art my
protector. My God, His will shall prevent me. 303
In the Proverbs we also read about wisdom and under-
standing: Because the Lord giveth wisdom, and out of
His face cometh knowledge and understanding. 30 * In the
same book again it is stated regarding the dispensations of
God's wisdom without which no actions are righteous:
Counsel and protection is mine; I am prudence, strength
is mine. By me the kings reign and tyrants by me occupy
the earth* 05 Again, elsewhere it is said that no one can
walk along the right path except through the Lord's guid-
ance: The steps of man are guided by the Lord. But who
is the mortal that can understand his own ways? 30G Else-
where, again, Every man seemeth right to himself; but the
Lord guideth the hearts. 307 And further, The will is
prepared by the Lord. 303 Likewise in the same book we
read about human thought and counsel, There are many
thoughts in the heart of man; but the counsel of the Lord
In the Book of Ecclesiastes we find it written that both
78 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
to have what we need and to make good use of It is given
us by God: This only is good for man, that he ate and
drank, and he showeth the good of his soul in his labour.
And of all this I have seen that it conies from God's hand.
For who shall eat and be nourished without Him? 31 Again
in the same book we read that the hearts and the works of
the just are in God's hand and that they succeed in their
pursuits in the measure He grants success: However much
a man shall labour to seek, he shall not find; and whatso-
ever the wise man shall say that he knoweth, he shall not
be able to find. . . . Because all this he has put in my heart
and my heart hath seen all this, because just men and wise
men and their works are in the hand of God. 311
In the Book of Wisdom it is said about the same work
of grace: Because He is also the guide of wisdom and the
director of the wise. For in His hands are both we, and
our words, and all wisdom, and the knowledge and skill
of works* 12 The same book speaks of continence as being
a favour which God bestows on man: As / knew that
I could not otherwise be continent, except God gave it, and
this also was a point of wisdom, to know whose gift it
was. 313 The teaching of the Apostle Paul is in agreement
with this opinion when he writes, in the First Epistle to
the Corinthians: For I would that all men were even as
myself. But every one hath his proper gift from God: one
after this manner, another after that* 1 * Our Lord also
insinuates the same about the gift of continence as related
in the Gospel according to Matthew. When His disciples
said, If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not ex-
pedient to marry, Jesus answered, Not all men take this
word, but they to whom it is given. 515
Of the fear of God and of wisdom we read in Ecclesias-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 79
ticus: The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, . . . hut
both are gifts of God 316 Also in the same book: The fear
of the Lord hath set itself above all things. Blessed is he
to whom it is given to have the fear of God. 317 Isaias, too,
speaks of the spiritual riches of which the Lord is the
Author, in these words: Our salvation cometh with trea-
sureswisdom, piety, and instruction from the Lord: these
are the treasures of justice* 18 Likewise about the depth of
the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God whose
goodness no man's merit can outstrip, he says: Who hath
measured the waters in His hand and weighed the heavens
with His palm and the whole earth with the hollow of
His hand? Who hath placed the mountains in scales and
the hills in a balance? Who hath known the sense of the
Lord, or who hath been His counsellor who advised Him?
Or with whom hath He consulted, and who hath in-
structed Him? Or who hath shown Him judgment, or
shown Him the way of understanding? Or who hath
given Him first, that he would be given in return?* 1
Further in the Book of Job we read in the same sense the
words of the Lord: Who hath given me before that I
should repay him? All things that are under heaven are
Jeremias, explaining that man receives wisdom from
God, states as follows: I know, O Lord, that the way of a
man is not his; neither is it of a man ... to direct his
way. 321 Again the Lord proclaims through the same
Prophet that God operates the conversion of a heart to
God, and says: / will bring them again into this land.
And I will build them up again and not pull them down;
and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will
give them a heart to know me., that I am the Lord; and
80 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
they shall be my people and I will be their God; because
they shall return to me with their whole heart. 322 Baruch
also proclaims that knowledge of God comes from God.
And they shall know., he says, that I am the Lord their
God; and I will give them a heart to understand, and ears
to hear* 2 *
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul
teaches that every good word and every holy action is
inspired by the Holy Spirit, without whom we can do
nothing that is right. He says: Wherefore., I give you to
understand that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God,
saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say The Lord
Jesus, but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of
graces, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of
ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities
of operations, but the same God who worketh all in all.
And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man
unto profit. To one indeed, by the Spirit is given the word
of wisdom; and to another, the word of knowledge accord-
ing to the same Spirit; to another, faith in the same Spirit;
to another, the grace of healing in the same Spirit; . . .
to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits;
to another, diverse kinds of tongues; to another, interpreta-
tion of speeches. But all these things one and the same
Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as He
The same Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, states that
each one possesses that much of grace as the Lord gives
him: One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one
hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
One God and Father of all, who is above all men, and
above all things, and in us all. But to every one of us is
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 81
given grace according to the measure of the giving of
Christ. Wherefore He saith: "Ascending on high, He
led captivity captive; He gave gifts to men." 325 The same
again in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians says that
we are not able even to conceive a spiritual thought ex-
cept with God's grace: And such confidence we have,,
through Christ, towards God. Not that we are sufficient
to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our
sufficiency is from God. Who also hath made us fit min-
isters of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the
spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. B2B
And again in the same epistle he teaches that God's grace
gives efficacy and sufficiency to good works. He states:
And God is able to make all grace abound in you, that ye
through all having sufficiently in all things, may abound
to every good work, as it is written: "He hath dispersed
abroad, He hath given to the poor; His justice remaineth
for ever." And He that ministereth seed to the sower, will
both give you bread to eat ... and increase the growth of
the fruits of your justice, that being enriched in all things,
you may abound unto all simplicity. 327
When writing to the Ephesians, the Apostle teaches
them that all good things by which man pleases God are
His gifts, and that they have to beg Him to bestow them
on all who have not received them yet. He says: For this
cause I 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 might according to the
riches of His glory, that you might be strengthened by
His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell by
faith in your hearts; that, being rooted and confirmed in
charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the
82 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
saints, what is the breadth and length, height and depth;
to know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all
knowledge; that you may be filled unto all the fulness of
God. Now to Him who is able to do all things more
abundantly than we desire or understand, according to
the power that worketh in us: to Him be glory in the
Church and in Christ Jesus, world without end. Amen. 328
That the author of all good is God whose gifts, neither
uncertain nor changeable, flow from His eternal will, the
Apostle James states as follows: Do not err, my dear breth-
ren. Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there
is no change nor shadow of alteration. For of His own
will hath He begotten us by the word of truth, that we
might be some beginning of His creature^ And the
prophet Zacharias agrees with him when he says: And
the Lord will save His people in that day as sheep; for holy
stones shall be rolled over His land. For whatever is good
is His, and whatever is best, comes from Him. 830
In the Gospel according to Matthew it is said that
knowledge and understanding are gifts of God which He
grants to whomsoever He pleases: Then His disciples
came and said to Him: Why speakest Thou to them in
parables? But He answered and said to them: Because to
you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of
heaven; but to them it is not given. 3 * 1 John the Evangelist
also proclaims that no man possesses any good which he
has not received from on high. A man, he says, cannot
receive anything unless it be given him from heaven. 332
In the same Gospel the Truth itself teaches that no one
comes to the Son except drawn to Him by the Father, for
it is God who bestows on any man that is to come to Him,
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 83
both understanding and willingness. He says: No man
can come to me, except the Pather, who hath sent me,
draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day. For it
is written in the Prophets: "And they shall all be taught
of God." Every one that hath heard of the Father and
hath learned, cometh to me; 333 and further. Therefore did
I say to you that no man can come to me, unless it be given
him by my Father. 3 **
The authority of Sacred Scripture confirms that a di-
vine gift and a divine help is necessary for man to make
progress in faith and good works and to persevere in them
till the end. Thus the Apostle Paul, writing to the Philip-
pians, says: Being confident of this very thing: that He
who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto
the day of Christ Jesus. 335 Some one wanted to explain
this text so as to prove from it his own perverse teaching;
he wanted the text which reads, who hath begun in you,
to be understood as though it read, who hath begun
"from" you? m Thus he attributed both the beginning and
the completion of a work not to God but to man, whose
will would be responsible for such a beginning and com-
pletion. 337 But in the same epistle the great preacher of
grace shatters this most insane pride, saying: In nothing
be ye terrified by the adversaries: which to them is a
cause of perdition, but to you of salvation, and this from
God. For unto you it is given for Christ, not only to be-
lieve in Him, but also to suffer for Him. 338 And again he
says: With fear and trembling work out your salvation.
For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to
work, according to His good un//. 339 Likewise in his First
Epistle to the Thessalonians he teaches that the begin-
ning, progress, and perfection of every virtue come from
84 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
God, saying: Now God himself and our Father and the
Lord Jesus direct our way unto you. And may the Lord
multiply you and make you abound in charity towards
one another and towards all men, as we do also towards
you. To confirm your hearts without blame, in holiness,
before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, with all His saints. 340 When writing to the
Corinthians, too, and declaring that progress and perse-
verance in every virtue is a gift of God, he says: I give
thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God
that is given you in Christ Jesus: that in all things you are
made rich in' Him, in all utterance and wisdom; as the
testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that nothing
is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifesta-
tion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who also will confirm you
unto the end without crime for the day of the coming
of the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 * 1
Again, writing to the Romans, he speaks about the
charity of Christ by which He makes unconquerable those
whom He loves, that is makes them persevere till the
end (for, what else is it to persevere but not to be over-
come by temptation?): Who shall separate us from the
love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecu-
tion, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? (As
it is written: cc For Thy sake, we are put to death all the
day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.")
But in all these things we overcome through Him that
hath loved us. 342 Likewise to the Corinthians he speaks
about the victory won by Christ: The sting of death is
sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God,
who hath given us the victory through Jesus Christ our
Lord 343 To the Thessalonians, too, he states about per-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 85
severance as a gift of God: And may the God of peace
Himself sanctify you in all things: that your whole spirit
and soul and body may be preserved blameless for the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful who hath
called you, who will also do it. 344 To the Thessalonians
again, to explain that all good either in deeds or in words,
and perseverance in it, is a gift of God, he says: Now our
Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who hath
loved us and hath given us everlasting consolation and
good hope in grace, exhort your hearts and confirm you
in every good work and word. For the rest, brethren, pray
for us, that the word of the Lord may run and may be
glorified, even as among you; and that we may be delivered
from importunate and evil men, for not all men have
faith. But God is faithful, who will strengthen and keep
you from evil** 5
Let us also listen to what the Apostle Peter teaches
about the source of our strength for perseverance; he says:
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His
eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a
little, will Himself perfect you and confirm you and es-
tablish you; to whom belongs strength and power, for
ever and ever. Amen. 346 And the Apostle John, explaining
that the victory of the saints is the work of God living in
the saints, says: You are of God, little children, and have
overcome the world; because greater is He that is in you,
than he that is in the world. 3 * 7 And the same again:
Whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world. And
this is the victory which overcometh the world: our
faith. B4S In the Gospel according to Luke it is brought out
that it is God who gives perseverance in faith, in these
words: And Jesus said to Peter: Simon, Simon, behold
86 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as
wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:
and thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren, and pray
lest you enter into temptation. 349
Also in the Gospel of John we read the Truth saying of
Christ's sheep whom no one can snatch from His hand:
But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them; and they fol-
low me. And I give them life everlasting; and they shall
not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of
my hand. 350 Likewise in the same Gospel we hear from
the mouth of the Lord Himself, when He speaks of those
whom the Father gives to the Son and who all come to the
Son and of whom no one is lost: All that the Father
giveth to me, cometh to me; and him that cometh to me,
I will not cast him out. Because I am come down from
heaven, not to do my will, but the will of Him that sent
me, the Father, . . . that of all that He hath given me, I
should lose nothing, but raise it up again in the last
The problem why one man receives grace rather
than another we cannot solve; the answer
does not lie with their free will.
There are 352 many other passages in the canonical
Scriptures which we have omitted intentionally for brev-
ity's sake. The texts we have cited are not few, neither
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK I 87
are they equivocal or unimportant. They state quite
plainly that whatever has to do with merit unto eternal
life, can neither be begun nor increased nor be completed
without God's grace. On the contrary, all pride that
boasts of free will, bows down before the famous and un-
answerable question of the Apostle: For who distin-
guishes thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not re-
ceived? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory,
as if thou hadst not received it? 353 Accordingly, this
profound problem of which we confess with the awe-
struck Apostle 354 that it cannot be fathomed, is not solved
by appealing to the acts of the free will. 355 For, although
it lies in a man's power to reject what is good, yet, unless
it is given him, he is unable by himself to choose this
good. 356 The power to do the former was contracted by
our nature with original sin; but nature has to receive the
ability to do the latter from grace.
Nature is the same in all men, guilty and wretched in
all before its reconciliation. Not all men are justified and
only a certain part of them are set apart from the repro-
bate by Him who is come to seek and save that which was
lost* 57 But why this is so, our human intellect can in no
way find out. You may point ever so much to the wicked-
ness of the unbelievers, their resistence to God's grace:
will this prove that they to whom grace is given have
merited it? Or has this same grace, which subjected to
itself whom it pleased, remained powerless to convert also
them that have remained unconvertible? Those who were
won by grace had the same nature as they who were left
in their hardness of heart. To the first, amazing grace
granted what it pleased, to the second, just truth rendered
their due. Actually, God's judgments are still more in-
88 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
scrutable when His grace chooses the elect than when His
justice punishes the reprobate.
But we may not leave the impression that the doctrine
of our faith 35S according to which we devoutly believe
that God wills all men to be saved through the recogni-
tion of the truth 3 is weakened by what we have explained
and proved about the effects of grace. 359 For that reason
we must try to show, with the help of Christ, that this
doctrine stands unassailable. But because an amount of
research is necessary for what is a formidable task, let
us undertake the discussion that is still to follow with
the beginning of our Second Book.
Three points are certain in this matter: God wills
all men to be saved, the knowledge of truth
and salvation is due to grace, and
God's judgments are inscrutable.
If we give up completely all wrangling that springs up
in the heat of immoderate disputes, it will be clear that
we must hold for certain three points concerning the
problem on which we begin our Second Book. 1 First, we
must confess that God wills all men to be saved and to
come to the knowledge of truth. 2 Secondly, there can be
no doubt that all who actually come to the knowledge 3
of the truth and to salvation, do so not in virtue of their
own merits but of the efficacious help of divine grace. 4
Thirdly, we must admit that human understanding is
unable to fathom the depths of God's judgments, and we
ought not to inquire why He who wishes all men to be
saved does not in fact save all. 5 For if we do not search
into what we cannot know, 6 then we shall have no dif-
ficulty in reconciling the first point with the second, but
we shall be able to preach and to believe them both with
the security of an undisturbed faith. God indeed in whom
there is no injustice 7 and all of whose ways are mercy and
truth, 8 is the beneficent Creator of all men and their just
Ruler. He condemns no one without guilt and saves no
one for his merits. When He chastises the guilty, He
punishes our demerits, and when He makes us just, He
90 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
bestows of His own gifts. 9 Thus the mouth is stopped of
them that speak wicked things 10 and God is justified in
His words and overcomes when He is judged. 11 The con-
demned cannot complain in justice that they did not de-
serve punishment, nor can the justified truthfully claim
that they have merited grace.
Scripture teaches that God wills all men to be saved.
We must not profane with our human dialectics the
texts quoted from the divine Scriptures 12 to explain what
grace is; that would be to drag so many clear and con-
cordant statements into the uncertainty of a misleading
interpretation. In the same way, no argumentation to the
contrary must defile what we find in the same body of
Scripture about the salvation of all men. Rather, the
more difficult is its understanding the more praiseworthy
will the faith be that believes. 13 That assent is indeed
very strong whose motive is derived from authority as a
sufficient proof of truth, even though the why of things
Let us, then, carefully examine the behest which our
Lord makes to the preachers of the gospel According to
Matthew, He says: All power is given to me in heaven and
in earth. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatso-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 91
ever I have commanded you. And behold I am wllh you
all days, even to the consummation of the world. 1 * Ac-
cording to Mark, He speaks thus to the same Apostles:
Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every crea-
ture, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be condemned. 15
Does this command make a difference between any
peoples or any individuals? No, He welcomed no one
for his merits, singled out no one for his birth, made no
distinction with anyone because of his social state. The
gospel of the Cross of Christ was extended to all men
without exception. And that no one should consider the
ministry of the preachers as but a merely human enter-
prise, He said, Behold I am with you all days, even to the
consummation of the world. lQ That is, when you will
go like sheep in the midst of wolves, 17 do not be afraid on
account of your weakness; have confidence in my power,
for I shall not forsake you in this great mission till the
end of the world. Not that you will have nothing to suf-
fer; but what is much greater, I shall give you strength
that you may not be overcome by any cruelty of savage
tyrants. For you will preach with my power; and through
me it will come about that from among your opponents
and persecutors sons of Abraham will be raised up from
the very stones. 18 I shall instil my doctrine, I shall ac-
complish my promise. For they will deliver you up in
councils and they will scourge you in their synagogues.
And you shall stand before kings and governors for my
sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But
when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or
what to speak. . . . For it is not you that speak, but the
Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you. The brother
92 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
also shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father
the son; and "the children shall raise up against their
parents" and shall put them to death. And you shall
be hated by all men, for my name's sake. But he that
shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. 19
Therefore, as the Apostle says, the grace of God our
Saviour hath appeared to all men; 20 and yet the minis-
ters of His grace were hated by all. There were those
who hated on the one hand, and on the other, those who
were oppressed by the hatred of their persecutors; but
neither group was excluded in the term "all men," even
though the class of the rebels suffered the loss of their sal-
vation, while the faithful in their privileged condition
were accounted a totality. 21 For the Apostle John says:
But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the Just. And He is the propitiation for our
sins; and not for our sins only, but also for those of the
whole world. 22
We cannot know why God decreed to
delay the call of some nations.
We find the sign of a great and ineffable mystery 23 in
the fact that the same preachers to whom our Lord said,
Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to
every creature? 4 ' had first been commanded: Go ye not
into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Sa-
maritans enter ye not. But go ye rather to the lost sheep
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 93
of the house of Israel. 25 For though the call of the Gospel
was addressed to all men, and the Lord willed all men to
be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth, 26 yet He
had not taken from Himself the power over His own rul-
ings so that His decree would come into effect otherwise
than He had decided in His hidden and just judgment. 27
We can, therefore, have no just reason for murmuring
or for insolent complaints, since it is evident that what
God has decreed had not to happen in any other man-
ner than He decided. At a later time when the Lord
Jesus was already sitting in the glory of God the Father
and when the preachers of God's word were discharging
their mission, the Apostles intended to preach the Gospel
in Asia, but they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit 28
And when they attempted to go into Bithynia, the Spirit
of Jesus suffered them not; 2Q not because grace was re-
fused to those peoples, but, as far as we can see, it was
only delayed. In fact, later the Christian faith grew
from strength to strength among them as well.
We do not see the reason why God delayed their call.
Even so, this historical fact is an object lesson. We learn
that among the things which God ordinarily promises,
designs, or orders, He makes some exceptions to the com-
mon laws, and in His wisdom ordains them in a more
mysterious manner. I think it is His purpose to bring
out more strikingly the mysterious clarity of His design
by contrast with some things veiled in obscurity. 30 He
does not want our investigation to become slothful when
we find the truth without much effort, as when we are
lulled into security by familiar objects unless something
unusual crops up to awaken us. At any rate, we know
that these incomprehensible delays of enlightenment take
94 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
place, and that meanwhile many actually die in unbe-
lief, not only among the distant nations of infidels, but
even in the cities of the faithful in numerous houses and
families as long as they who will eventually be Christians
are adverse to the Christian faith. For many will love
what they now hate, and will preach what they now re-
fuse to accept.
Faced with these facts, who will tell the querulous and
the curious why the Sun of Justice 31 still does not rise
for some peoples; why the Truth that will shine on them
one day, still keeps back its rays from their hearts
shrouded in darkness? 32 Why are future converts al-
lowed to continue in their errors for so long? Why are
aged men refused during a long lifetime the light which
they see in the end? Why do parents not yet have the
faith when their children already believe in Christ? Again,
why the disparity of devout parents having a wicked off-
spring? But it is at God's own behest that prayers are
offered for all men every day 33 to Him who gives to all
the beginning of faith and progress in it: therefore, we
must know and understand that when He hears these
prayers, His mercy grants a gratuitous gift; and when
He does not, then His judgment remains truthful.
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 95
In past ages God's goodness drew all men to His worship
through things created, but Israel in a special
way through the Law and the Prophets.
Not even in the past ages 34 was the world without
this same grace, which after the Resurrection of our Lord
Jesus Christ has spread everywhere and of which Scrip-
ture says. Thy lightnings enlightened the world. 35 It
is true that God's special care and mercy chose the people
of Israel as His own, while all the other nations were
left to walk in their own ways* Q that is, to live according
to their own choosing. Yet the eternal goodness of their
Creator did not turn away from them so as not to ad-
monish them with some tokens of His own, of their duty
to know and fear Him. Indeed, the heavens and the
earth, the sea and every creature that man can see or
know, is for the service of mankind; and chiefly for this
purpose, that the rational beings, when contemplating
so many beautiful things, enjoying so many good gifts,
receiving so many favours, must needs learn to worship
and love the Author of them all. The Spirit of God in
whom we live and move and are* 7 fills the whole world.
For although salvation is far from sinners* 8 yet nothing
is devoid of His saving presence and power.
Thus, as the Prophet says, The earth is full of the
Lord's mercy* which has never forsaken any ages or
any generations. He ever shows His Providence by which
He governs and sustains the whole universe when He
96 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
rules and feeds all living creatures. In the eternity of His
immutable design He has settled what He would dispense
at each particular age and by which gifts and mysteries 40
He would unfold the inscrutable and unsearchable
rhythm of His multiform grace. The very wealth of His
grace which in these times has flowed over to the Gen-
tiles must not make us forget the grace which under the
Law bedewed Israel alone, and the present riches do not
dispense us from believing in the past scarcity. Likewise
God's particular care by which He guided the sons of
the Patriarchs in the right path must not make one fancy
that the ruling of the divine mercy was withheld from
all other men. Compared with the chosen people, they
may look like castaways, but in fact they never were de-
nied God's manifest and hidden mercies. -Indeed, we
read in the Acts of the Apostles that the Apostles Paul
and Barnabas said to the Lycaonians: Ye men, why do
ye these things? We also are mortals, men like unto you,
preaching to you to be converted from these vain things
to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth
and the sea and all things that are in them; who in times
past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Never-
theless, He left not Himself without testimony, doing them
good, from heaven giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling
our hearts with food and gladness. 41
Now, what else is this testimony, always at the Lord's
command and never silent about His goodness and
power/ 2 except the unspeakable beauty of the whole
world and the rich and orderly dispensation of His count-
less 4S mercies? These offered to the hearts of men tables,
as it were, of the Eternal Law where they could read in the
pages of the created things and the volumes of the un-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 97
folding ages the universal and common doctrine God
was teaching them. The heavens and all the things in
the heavens, the sea and the earth and all that is in them
in the perfect harmony of their beauty and order, proclaim
the glory of God and in ceaseless preaching speak of the
majesty of their Maker. In spite of all this, the greater
number of men who were left to walk in the ways of their
own choice, did not understand nor follow this Law. The
vivifying fragrance that breathed life became for them
a deadly odour unto death, 44 so that we learned also of
these testimonies of the visible world that the letter kill-
eth, but the spirit quickeneth 4 * Thus, what the promul-
gation of the Law and the preaching of the Prophets did
for Israel, that the testimony of the whole creation with
all the wonders of God's goodness wrought at all times
for all nations.
The Gentiles who pleased God were singled out by
a gratuitous spirit of faith.
Within the people of Israel which was guided by both
these teachings of things created and of the Law and
Prophets no one could be justified except through grace
in a spirit of faith. 46 Who, then, would doubt that all men,
at all times, from whatever nation, who were able to please
God, had been singled out by the breath of God's grace? 47
That grace, it is true, was more sparingly given 48 and
less apparent among the Gentiles; but it was not denied
to any nation always one and the same in its power,
though varying in measure; immutable in its design,
though multiform in its effects. 49
98 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Even in our times grace is not given to all
men in the same measure.
Even in our own day when streams of ineffable gifts
flood the whole world, grace is not bestowed on all men
in the same measure and intensity. Though the minis-
ters of the word and of God's grace preach the same truth
to all and address to all the same exhortations, yet this is
God's husbandry and God's building, and it is He whose
power invisibily acts and gives growth to what they build
or cultivate. 50 The Apostle attests this in these words:
What, then, is Apollo, and what is Paul? The ministers
of Him whom you have believed; and to every one as the
Lord hath given. I have planted, Apollo watered; but
God hath given the increase. Therefore, neither he that
planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that
giveth the increase. Now, he that planteth and he that
watereth, are one. And every man shall receive his own
reward, according to his own labour. For we are God's
coadjutors; you are God's husbandry, you are God's
In this husbandry and this building every man is a
helper, a workman and a minister, in the measure of the
Lord's gift. And they who are tended by the toil of the
ministers, progress in the very measure in which the
Author of all growth raises them; for in the Lord's field
the plants are not all uniformly developed nor is there
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 99
one kind of plants only. Again, although the structure
of the whole temple makes for all the beauty that it has,
yet the places and functions of the stones that go into
it, are not the same for all; just as in one body all mem-
bers have not the same function, as the Apostle says
But now God hath set the members., and every one of
them as it hath pleased Him. 52
The inequality of the divine gifts does not come
from the merits of preceding works,
but from God's liberality.
The same Teacher explains from where all the mem-
bers of the body derive their fitness, function, and beauty
in these words: Wherefore, I give you to understand that
no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema
to Jesus. And no man can say The Lord Jesus, but by the
Holy Spirit. Now, there are diversities of graces, but the
same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministers, but the
same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but
the same God who worketh all in all. And the manifes-
tation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To
one indeed, by the Spirit is given the word of wisdom;
and to another, the word of knowledge according to the
same Spirit; to another, faith in the same Spirit; to an-
other, the grace of healing in the same Spirit; to another,
the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another,
the discerning of spirits; to another, diverse kinds of
100 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
tongues; to another, interpretation of speeches. But all
these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to
every one according as He will. 5B Considering this crystal-
clear preaching of the Teacher of the Gentiles, who could
find a reason or a pretext to doubt that we receive the
seed of all virtues from God? Who but a consummate
fool would complain of the differences in the divine gifts,
or fancy that it is due to unequally distributed merits
when the divine liberality does not give the same graces
to all? For if the distribution of His favours were regu-
lated by the merits of the antecedent works of men, then
the Apostle would not end his list of divine gifts with the
conclusion. But all these things, one and the same Spirit
worketh, dividing to every one according as He will. 5 * If
in this passage he had wanted to say that merit is the
determining factor, he would have said, "dividing to each
according as they deserve"; just as He promised those who
plant and water, the reward of their toil by saying, And
every man shall receive his own reward? according to his
own labour. 55
Every one receives with no merit on his part the means
of gaining merit Having received grace, he is
expected to increase this gift through
Him who gives the increase.
Every one receives with no merit on his part the means
of gaining merit, and before he has done any work what-
ever, he is given the dignity 56 thanks to which his work
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 101
will deserve a reward. This fact may also be gathered
from the teaching of the Gospel truth, where it is said
in the parable: A man going into a far country called his
servants and delivered to them his substance; and to one
he gave five talents, and to another two., and to another
one, to each one according to his proper ability 57 ~ that
is, according to his own innate ability and not according
to his own deserts. For it is one thing to be able to work
and another to work, one thing to be able to have charity
and another to have it, one thing to be capable of conti-
nence, justice, wisdom and another to be continent, just,
and wise. And so not every man that can be remade is
actually remade, and not every man who can be healed
is actually restored to health; for only the possibility of
restoration or healing is given with nature, but it is grace
that actually remakes or heals. 58 Finally, when the dis-
tributor of his goods entrusted an unequal number of
talents to his servants according to their abilities which
he foresaw, 59 he was not giving them a reward for merit
but material to work with. On the two alert and enter-
prising servants he not only bestowed high praise but
he also ordered them to enter into the eternal joy of
their Lord. 60 But he punished the lazy life and listless
negligence of the third servant so as not only to disgrace
him with reproach and censure, but to deprive him of the
share he had received. 61 For, as he had not practised
charity, he deserved to lose a faith that bore no fruit in
In the discourse that follows and which exposes very
clearly the procedure of the future judgment, we read
that when the Son of man shall sit upon the seat of His
majesty and all the nations shall be gathered before it,
102 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
He will place some on His right hand and others on His
left. Those at His right He will praise for their works
of charity, while to those on His left He will make no
other reproach than their neglect of mercy and kindness. 63
They also had received the faith but they did not prac-
tise charity; they will be condemned not for not having
preserved, but for not having increased the gift they had
received. 64 For, though all good things are gifts of God,
yet some are granted unasked in order 65 that with these,
men may pursue what they have not yet been given. The
seed that is cast into the earth is not sown in order that
it should remain there alone, but that it may bear fruit
and multiply. 66 Its growth, however, comes from Him
who giveth the increase. 67 And when the living earth
of the rational soul has been fertilised by the rain of
grace, it is able to increase, as it is expected to do, the
gifts it has received. 68
We must not seek the reason why God dispenses
His grace differently in different ages.
We have, I believewith the Lord's help treated this
whole question satisfactorily. Let us, then, after this di-
gression return to our subject, namely, to the consider-
ation of the differences we find in the effects and gifts of
divine grace. 69 The depth of the riches of the wisdom and
of the knowledge of God, whose judgments are inscru-
table and whose ways unsearchable has always so tem-
pered His mercy and His justice that according to the
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 103
most hidden decree of His eternal design He did not wish
to give equal measures of grace at all times to all genera-
tions or to all individual men. In fact. He chose to help
in one way those men whom He invited to His knowl-
edge through the testimony of the heavens and the earth.
In another way He chose to help those of whom He took
care not only with the service of created things, but also
with the doctrine of the Law, the oracles of the Prophets,
the language of miracles, and the help of the angels.
But He has shown His mercy for all men in a far more
extraordinary manner when the Son of God became the
Son of man, so that He could be found by those who did
not seek Him and be seen by those who did not call upon
Him. 71 Since then the glory of the race of Israel shines
not in one people only. To Abraham a numerous poster-
ity is born among all nations under the heavens. The
promised heritage falls no longer to the sons of the flesh,
but to the sons of the promise. 72 The great parsimony in
bestowing grace which in the past ages befell all other na-
tions, is now the lot of the Jewish people. Yet, when the
fulness of the Gentiles will have come in, then a flood
of the same waters of grace is promised for their dry
hearts. 73 Who will tell the reasons and motives of these
differences within one and the same grace when Sacred
Scripture is silent about them? When the Apostle Paul
stopped in his knowledge and discussion of this problem
and gave way to utter astonishment, 74 who would be so
presumptuous as to believe that he could try and explain
it rather than admire it in silence? 75
104 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Throughout the centuries God's mercy provided food for
the bodies of men and help for their souls.
Let us, then, with patience and in peace of soul remain
ignorant of a secret that is withheld from our human
knowledge. 76 We must not, however, because we cannot
penetrate into what is closed to us, fail to enter into that
which lies open to us. For many evidences from the di-
vine Scriptures and the uninterrupted experience of all
ages have made it clear that God's just mercy and mer-
ciful justice never ceased to provide food for the bodies
of men and direction and help for their minds. At all
times He has rained upon the good and the bad and made
His sun rise upon the just and the unjust. 77 At all times
He has given the life-giving air, regulated the alternations
of day and night, granted fertility to the fields, growth to
the seeds, and fecundity for the propagation of mankind.
If at times He withdrew any of these things, then He
meant to chastise with fatherly correction the unwilling-
ness and sloth of men who misused them, intending that
in adversity they should seek His mercy when in pros-
perity they forgot the fear of His justice.
Finally, if we go back to the very beginning of the
world, we shall find that the Spirit of God was the guide
of all the saints who lived before the deluge and who
were on account of His guidance called sons of God; be-
cause, as the Apostle says, Whosoever are led by the
Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 78 When these
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 105
men paid no attention to the religion of their fathers and
contracted forbidden marriages with the reprobate/ 9 and
when they were judged worthy of extermination because
of their wicked alliances, then the Lord said, My Spirit
shall not remain with these men because they are flesh. 8
Hence it is clear that this people whose history we find
narrated there In chronological order, was spiritual at
first when their wills were guided by the Holy Spirit, 81
who ruled them in such a manner as not to take away
from them the possibility of falling into sin. As long as
this people left this power unused, they did not aban-
don God nor were they forsaken by Him. They were
then like the man of whom it is said, Happy he that
could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed. 82 As
long, then, as the people remained united with God, they
did so with a will that God inspired and guided, as we
read, For the will is prepared by the Lord. 83
Men acquire slowly and little by little what God's
liberality has decreed to give them.
But this preparation does not always follow the same
process or keep the same rhythm. Because the effects and
the gifts of grace appear in many ways and in countless
variations, within the several kinds of gifts there are
still different degrees and unequal measures. The off-
shoots of herbs and trees that spring from the earth are
not all of one species or of one kind, but one and all they
are shaped according to the pattern of their kind and
106 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
the properties of their species; and they do not have their
full shapeliness as soon as they appear, but develop grad-
ually and orderly till they reach their own individual
size through successive stages of growth. In the same
way the seeds of divine graces and the plants of the vir-
tues do not spring forth in the field of all human hearts
in that perfection which they will acquire later; and
you do not easily find maturity from the beginning or
perfection from the start. 84
It is true, the action of the God of power and mercy
frequently produces marvellous effects, and, without
awaiting the time required for a gradual progress, at once
plants in some minds all that He wishes to confer upon
them. In the loins of Abraham Levi was sanctified 85 and
with him the whole house of Aaron and the priestly class
was blessed. 86 In Isaac who was conceived according to
promise and born against the hope of his aged and sterile
parents, 87 the call of all the Gentiles and the fulness of
Christ is prefigured. Jacob without any merits to speak
for him was beloved and chosen before he was born. 88
To Jeremias was said: Before I formed thee in the bowels
of thy mother, 1 knew thee; and before thou earnest forth
out of the womb I sanctified thee. 89 John, still in the womb
of his mother Elizabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit
and leaped up, 90 and that there might be no one greater
than him among the sons of women, 91 he awoke to the
life of grace before that of nature.
Though other texts of like applicability are not lack-
ing, we pass them over for brevity's sake. But we meet
with many more frequent and more numerous cases of
men to whom the heavenly bounty grows as its gifts are
granted piecemeal: the reasons for granting further gifts
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 107
are to arise from those already given. Some men receive
the faith, but are still not without distrust, as, for ex-
ample, he was aware who said, I do believe, Lord. Help
my unbelief? 2 The men also who said, Lord, increase our
faith** felt that diffidence was not fully absent from
their hearts. Some do not grasp what they believe, and
many of these remain for a long time confined within
their simplicity. But many soon receive light to under-
stand, yet of these not all have an equally firm and
equally facile power of understanding. And many others
who apparently have both faith and understanding, yet
badly lack charity, and they are unable to cling to what
an enlightened faith makes them see; for man cannot
persevere for long in what he does not love with his
whole heart. 94
Charity itself is not always given in such a way that
the one who receives it takes in at once all that belongs
to its perfection. For charity is a love that can be over-
come by another love, and often enough the love of
God is stifled by the love of the world; unless, kindled by
the Holy Spirit, it reaches such a state of fervour, that
no cold can extinguish it nor any tepidity slacken its ar-
dour. Indeed, since the sum total of all God's bounty
and the soul of all virtues is given with this ineffable
gift, all other gifts are granted us to enable the yearning
of the faithful soul to strive effectively after perfect char-
ity. As this is not only from God but is God Himself, 95
it makes steadfast, persevering, and unconquerable all
those whom it floods with its delight. But men who do
not know the sweetness of these waters and still drink
of the torrents of this world; men who even after touch-
ing with the lips and tasting of the fountain of life, still
108 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
like to get drunk with the golden cup of Babylon, 96 are
completely deceived by their own judgment and fall
through their own fault. If they persist in this slothful-
ness, they themselves throw off what they had received.
For without charity it is easy to lose all gifts, which
same gifts are useless without charity. 97
When we turn away from God, this is our doing, not
His ordinance. Man merits by persever-
ing, because he could fall away.
Let this brief survey of facts serve as a sure proof that
God never forsakes any of the faithful who do not first
turn away from Him, 98 and that His ordinance never
plans any one's fall. Rather, many who have attained
the use of reason are left capable of turning away from
Him that they may be rewarded for not having done so,
and that the merit of a behaviour which is not possible
without the help of the Spirit of God, may yet belong to
man by whose will it could have been absent. This will
is by itself able to sin, but cannot by itself perform good
works. 100 Though true virtue is in conformity with his
nature, still the viciousness that has infected his nature
following his evil will, 101 cannot be overcome by the
power of nature but only by grace.
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 109
Before the Flood God's goodness assisted with His
directions not only the saints but sinners also.
The Spirit of God guided the first people of God/ 02
and thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit it kept
away from the intercourse and the ways of the cursed
and reprobate 10S people. Thus it preserved itself apart and
free from mixing with carnal men men with whose evil
deeds God's patience bore up as long as good men could
please Him by not imitating them. But when the good
also became corrupted and imitated the wicked, and
when all mankind in wilful defection from God fell into
the same sinfulness, then one divine sentence destroyed
all, as all had fallen into the same ungodliness, except
only the house of Noe.
But God's goodness had not been withheld even from
the men who did not persevere in charity and who from
the beginning of their history were intoxicated with the
poison of a devilish envy. When the prince of the wicked
race, jealous of his saintly brother's merits and with frat-
ricide in his heart, was planning his murder, the Lord
deigned to soothe him with fatherly advice; He said to
Gain: Why hast thou become gloomy? Why is thy
countenance fallen? Didst not thou y when thou didst
offer rightly but didst not divide rightly, incur sin? Calm
down. To thee will be the return therefrom,, and thou
shalt have dominion over i. 104 "Lay down," He says,
"thy sadness born from ill will and jealousy, and ex-
110 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
tinguish the flames of thy cruel hatred. Abel did not
do thee any harm; by pleasing me he did not hurt thee.
I despised thy offerings on my own judgment, not at his
wish. For thou didst a good work negligently. Thy obla-
tion would have been acceptable if thy discernment had
been right. Knowing to whom thou wert offering, thou
shouldst have known what to dedicate. Thou didst not
make a worthy division between me and thyself because
thou didst reserve for thyself the better things. That was
thy mistake and thy sin. Calm down and do not be
agitated against thy innocent brother. Let rather thy guilt
come back on thee. Do not allow sin to reign in thee, but
thou thyself rather take command over it. 105 Through
repentance thou wilt both not fall into a greater sin and
be cleansed from the one by which thou art sorry for
having offended me."
When, therefore, we hear God speaking in this strain
to Cain, can we have any doubt that He wished and as
much as was necessary for his conversion 106 worked to
bring him back to his senses from that frenzy of impiety?
But Cain's obstinate malice became more inexcusable
through what should have been its remedy. And, of
course, God foreknew to what extremes his madness
would drive him; yet, because of this infallible knowledge
of God we may not conclude that his criminal will was
urged on by any necessity to sin. 107 Truly, God could
have saved Abel and kept him uninjured and untouched
by Cain's murderous intention and action. But He was
pleased to allow for the greater glory of His forbearance
that the momentary frenzy of a wicked man should be-
come the eternal glory of a just one.
As for the posterity of the parricide, who will not
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 111
easily see that God's goodness was not withheld from
them, even though they lived in the same wicked way
as their forebear? We must but consider what such a
persevering patience of God, such rich abundance of tem-
poral goods, and such numerous descendants due to their
great fecundity could have meant to them. 108 Though
these divine mercies did not bring any remedy or amend-
ment of these obdurate sinners, they show, nevertheless,
that their estrangement was not the effect of a divine
ordinance but of their own wills.
At the time of the Flood and afterwards till the coming of
Christ there were signs of the working of God's
grace and figures of the miracles of Christian
grace, although the abundant grace
which now floods mankind did not
then flow with such bounty.
In the preservation of Noe with his sons and their
wives, 109 who were to be the nursery of all the nations.
Holy Scripture shows us the revelation of the wonders
of divine grace. The ark of astounding capacity, which
sheltered as many animals of all species as would be
needed for the restoration of their kind, is the figure of
the Church which is to assemble into herself the whole
of mankind. In the wood and the water we see disclosed
the Redemption through the Cross of Christ and the
112 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
laver of regeneration. Those who were saved from the
world-wide destruction symbolize the chosen fulness of
all nations. 110 In them the gift of fecundity is renewed
and the freedom to eat what they please is broadened,
excluding only strangled things and blood; 1U and in the
token of a many-coloured rainbow, that is, the symbol
of God's multiform grace, solemn pledge of salvation
is given. 112 All these mysteries and sacred signs 112a were
a teaching not only for the few members of one single
family but also through them for all their posterity.
The lesson God taught the parents was also meant for
the instruction of their children.
Again, when the increase of the human race followed
its upward course and men grew proud of their very num-
bers, and when their insolence rose to such a height that
they dreamt of pushing up into heaven the massive
structure of a building of fantastic proportions, 113 how
wonderful was then the stricture of God's justice to stop
their insolence! The one common language which all
these people spoke and understood He threw into confu-
sion and split it up into seventy-two tongues, 114 so as
to break up by the confusion of their speech the unity of
the workers and thus to foil the contrivance of their
mad undertaking. At the same time God intended with
the opportune dispersion of a union that had grown evil,
to provide a population for the still uninhabited world.
But in this work of God's Providence we also see pre-
figured the wonders of Christian grace which was to
gather this entire dispersed humanity within the walls
of that building where every knee bows to God and every
tongue confesses that Jesus is in the glory of the Father. 115
This diffusion of grace which was to be revealed in the
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 113
fulness of the appointed time, appears with still clearer
signs in God's promise to Abraham, when He foretold
him that his twofold posterity, that is, the children of the
flesh and the children of the promise, would grow as
numerous as the sand and the stars. 116 Then this old man,
who by reason of the barrenness of his wife for years had
already given up the hope of a son, believed with a faith
that deserves praise, that through a single son he would
become the father of the world. He foresaw, indeed, saw
among his posterity Him who said, Abraham saw my day
and was glad. 11 *
At the time Abraham was justified through this faith,
he had not yet received God's command about the cir-
cumcision; and though he was then in his natural uncir-
cumcision, his faith was reputed to justice. 118 That same
faith received the sign of the circumcision in the part of
the body through which the seed of procreation was to
advance to that flesh of which, without the seed of the
flesh, the Son of God, God the Word, was made flesh 119
and was born of Abraham's daughter, the Virgin Mary.
By His birth among men He made all men His brothers,
who would be reborn in Christ through the Spirit and
would have Abraham's faith. But up to the day that
the seed should come of which it had been said, In thy
seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed 120 this
faith remained confined to the people of one race, and
there with the true Israelites the hope of our Redemption
was kept alive. For although there were some men of
other races whom, whilst the Law was in force, the truth
deigned to enlighten, yet they were so few that we can
hardly know whether there were any. 121 But notwith-
standing the fact that the abundance of grace which now
1 14 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
floods the whole world did not then flow with equal
bounty, this does not excuse the Gentiles who, being
aliens from the conversation of Israel,, . . . having no
hope, . . . and without God in this world, 122 have died in
the darkness of their ignorance.
Men are not born now with a better nature than
before Christ; rather, at the time of His coming
the iniquity then existing was the more
pronounced in order the better to man-
ifest the power of God's grace.
God's revelation 12S was always imparted to all men in
some measure which, even when given more sparingly
and hiddenly, was yet judged sufficient by the Lord to
be a saving remedy for some and a testimony unto all.
Thus He made it clear beyond doubt that, if where sin
abounded, grace had not abounded more/ 24 even now all
mankind would still be blinded by the same irreligion. Or,
to quote the nonsense spoken by many, 125 are men born
in our times better disposed than those of old? Have
these last ages produced souls that are more fit to receive
the divine gifts? Even if it were so, we would have to
attribute this to the goodness of their Maker who would
for the peoples whom He called to eternal life have fash-
ioned hearts that would not resist Him. But it is not so.
There is nothing novel in the propagation, of men ac-
cording to the flesh. The younger generation is not born
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 115
superior to Its forefathers. On the contrary, observation
shows that regarding the men who lived when the Re-
deemer of the world came, the more recent the generation
was, the greater was their iniquity. 120
The proof of this is the impious frenzy of the Jews.
' The proof of how ready for the Gospel of Christ that gen-
eration was, 127 are the dispositions not only of the people
but also of the scribes, the princes, and the priests. It
was not enough for them, in opposition to the teaching
of the Law, to the oracles of the Prophets, and to the
proofs given them of divine power, to have vented their
fury against the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins
of the world,* 2 * in sedition, contumelies, spitting, buffets,
blows, stoning, scourging, and, finally, the cruel death
of the Cross. In their unchanged insanity they were to
persecute also the witnesses of the Resurrection. But when
scourged by the high priests, the Apostles showed how this
had been foretold in the Psalm of David, saying: Lord,
Thou art He that didst make heaven and earth, the sea
and all things that are in them. Who, by the Holy Spirit,
by the mouth of our father David, Thy servant, hast said:
"Why did the Gentiles rage and the people meditate vain
things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes
assembled together against the Lord and His Christ" 129
For of a truth there assembled together in this city against
Thy holy Son Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, Herod
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of
Israel, to do what Thy hand and counsel decreed to be
Consequently, the reason why God withheld from the
former ages .the manifestation of the grace which in His
eternal design He had prepared for the salvation of all
116 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
nations, is not that they were unfit for it. He rather
chose the times which produced such people as would, in
their wild and wilful malice, and not because they wished
to be helpful but because they intended to do harm, per-
sist in carrying out the very counsels of God's hands. 131
Thus God's grace and power would appear the more mar-
vellous when He transformed these hardened souls, these
dark minds, these hostile hearts into His own people-
faithful, submissive, holy; who were led to the light of
God's wisdom not by the wisdom of this world, but
through the gift of Him to whom the Apostle John bears
witness in these words: We know that the Son of God is
come. And He hath given us understanding that we may
know the true God and may be in His true Son. 132 With
this testimony the Apostle Paul agrees when he says:
Giving thanks to the Father who hath made us worthy
to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light; who hath
delivered us from darkness and from the power of dark-
ness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son
of His /oue. 133 And he again says: For we . . . were some
time unwise, incredulous, erring, slaves to divers desires
and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and
hating one another. But when the goodness and kindness
of ... our Saviour appeared: not by works of justice
which we have done, but according to Plis mercy, He
saved us, by the laver of regeneration . ..of the Holy Spirit.
Whom He poured forth upon us abundantly, through
Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by His
grace, we may be heirs according to the hope of life ever-
Could he have explained more fully, more clearly, more
truly, what kind of merits Christ found in men, what
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 117
sort of characters He subjected to Himself,, what kind of
hearts He converted to Himself, when He came to heal,
not the healthy, but the diseased, and to call, not the
just, but sinners? 135 For The people of the Gentiles that
sat in darkness have seen a great light; and to them that
sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, light is risen. 136
The Gentiles howled, the peoples were angry, the kings
raged, those in power spoke in opposition, the supersti-
tions and errors of the whole world offered resistance.
But from among those who resisted, who were enraged,
and who persecuted, Christ chose to increase His people;
and with the chains, tortures, and deaths of His saints
the faith grew stronger, the truth conquered, and the
wealth of the Lord's harvest spread throughout the whole
world. Heaven gave so great a steadfastness in the faith,
so great a trust in hope, so great a fortitude in endurance,
that the fire of love kindled in the hearts of the faithful
by the Holy Spirit could in no way be extinguished by
their persecutors. Rather, those who were being tor-
tured, were the more vehemently set on fire with love,
and frequently their persecutors themselves were caught
by the flame they were fighting.
Saint Paul the Apostle was on fire with that flame
when, filled with trust and fervour, he said: Being justi-
fied therefore by faith, let us have peace with God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have
access through faith into grace wherein we stand, and
glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God. And
not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing
that tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and
trial hope; and hope confoundeth not, because the charity
of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
118 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
who is given to us. 137 And again: Who . . . shall separate
us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress?
Or persecution? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or
the sword? (As it is written: "For Thy sake are we put to
death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the
slaughter.") 138 But in all these things we overcome
through Him that hath loved us. For I am sure that
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be
able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lore/. 139 With this charity diffused in their
hearts by the Holy Spirit, the world of the faithful over-
came the world of the unbelievers. This charity put to
shame the cruelty of Nero, the fury of Domitian, and the
frenzied rage of numerous emperors after them, in the
glorious death of countless martyrs. There Christ be-
stowed on His followers through the persecution of the
rulers the wreaths of their eternal crowns.
Christ died for all sinners.
There can, therefore, be no reason to doubt that Jesus
Christ our Lord died for the unbelievers and the sinners. 140
If there had been any one who did not belong to these,
then Christ would not have died for all. But He did die
for all men without exception. There is no one, there-
fore, in all mankind who was not, before the reconcilia-
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 119
tion which Christ effected in His blood, either a sinner
or an unbeliever. The Apostle says: For why did Christ,
when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for
the ungodly? For scarce for a just man will one die; yet
perhaps for a good man one would dare to die. But God
commendeth His charity towards us, because if when as
yet we were sinners, Christ died for us, much more, be-
ing justified by His blood, shall we be saved from wrath
through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were
reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more,
being reconciled, shall we be saved by His Kfe. 141 The
same Apostle says in his Second Epistle to the Corin-
thians: For the charity of Christ presseth us, judging this,
that if One died for all, then all were dead. And He died
for all, that they also who live, may not live to themselves,
but unto Him who died for them and rose again. 142 And
let us hear what he says of himself. A faithful saying, he
states, and worthy of all acceptation: that Christ Jesus
came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the
chief. But for this cause have I obtained mercy: that
in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, for
the information of them that shall believe in Him unto
life everlasting. 1 ^
Wherefore, the whole of mankind, whether circum-
cised or not, was under the sway of sin, in fetters because
of the very same guilt. No one of the ungodly, who dif-
fered only in their degree of unbelief, could be saved with-
out Christ's Redemption. This Redemption spread
throughout the world to become the good news for all
men without any distinction. In fact, on the fiftieth day
after the paschal feast on which the true Lamb had of-
fered Himself as a victim to God, when the Apostles and
120 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
those who were of one mind with them were filled with
the Holy Spirit and spoke the languages of all the nations,
a multitude of people of different races, stirred by the
miracle, flocked together, and in them the whole world
was to hear the Gospel of Christ. There were then as-
sembled, as Scripture says, Parthians, and Medes, and
Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia., Judea, and
Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of LyMa about Gyrene, and strangers
of Rome, Jews also and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, 144
who all heard the wonderful works of God preached in
their own tongues. Their testimony was to spread far
and wide also to the more distant nations. We believe
that God's Providence had willed the expansion of the
Roman Empire as a preparation for His design over the
nations, who were to be called into the unity of the Body
of Christ: He first gathered them under the authority of
one empire. 149
But the grace of Christianity is not content with the
boundaries that are Rome's. Grace has now submitted
to the sceptre of the Cross of Christ many peoples whom
Rome could not subject with her arms; though Rome
by her primacy of the apostolic priesthood has become
greater as the citadel of religion than as the seat of
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 121
The nations that have not yet seen the grace
of our Saviour will be called to the
Gospel at the appointed time.
It may be true that, just as we know that in former
times some peoples were not admitted to the fellowship
of the sons of God, 147 so also to-day there are in the remo-
test parts of the world some nations who have not yet
seen the light of the grace of the Saviour. 148 But we have
no doubt that in God's hidden judgment, for them also
a time of calling has been appointed, when they will hear
and accept the Gospel which now remains unknown to
them. 149 Even now they receive that measure of general
help which heaven 15 has always bestowed on all men. 151
Human nature, it is true, has been wounded by such a
severe wound that natural speculation cannot lead a per-
son to the full knowledge of God if the true light does not
dispel all darkness from his heart. 152 In His inscrutable
designs the good and just God did not shed this light
as abundantly in the past ages as He does in our own
day. That is why the blessed Apostle Paul says in writ-
ing to the Colossians: The mystery which hath been hid-
den from ages and generations, but now is manifested in
His saints, to whom God would make known the riches
of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which
is Christ in_you. 153
122 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
In former ages the mystery of their call to the faith
was hidden from the Gentiles, but
not from the Prophets.
Did this mystery also remain sealed for the Prophets?
Were they, the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit, unaware
of what they were preaching? I do not think we have to
understand the text in that way, but only in the sense
that to the Gentiles this mystery 154 remained hidden
a mystery which the Lord revealed when it pleased Him
and to whomsoever He pleased. For concerning the call
of the Gentiles, who did not belong to the people of God
and on whom at first God did not have mercy while now
He has shown mercy, we read in Deuteronomy as fol-
lows: And the Lord saw and was roused and moved to
wrath because of the provocation of His sons and daugh-
ters. And He said: 1 will turn away my face from them.,
and will show what will happen in the end. For it is a
perverse generation, children in whom there is no faith.
They have provoked me to anger with that which is no
god, they have angered me with their idols. And I will
provoke them to anger with them who were not a nation,
and I will vex them with a foolish nation. 155 And David
foretells that all nations will adore God, in these words,
All the nations Thou hast made shall come and adore be-
fore Thee, O Lord, and they shall glorify Thy name. 156
And the same again, And all kings of the earth shall adore
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 123
Him, all nations shall serve Him. 15T And again. In Him
shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed, all nations shall
magnify Him. 158
Isaias also makes similar pronouncements, saying: For
in the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be mani-
fest and the house of God on the top of the mountains,
and it shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations
shall come unto ft. 159 And the same says again: And the
Lord of hosts shall make unto all the nations in this
mountain that they will drink wine in gladness, that they
will be anointed with ointments on this mountain. He
shall give all this to the nations, for this is His counsel
concerning all the nations. 1 And again: And the Lord
will reveal His holy arm in the sight of all the Gentiles,
and all the nations of the earth shall see the salvation
that cometh from the Lord. 161 And again, Behold, stran-
gers shall come to thee through me, and take refuge with
thee. 1Q2 And further: Nations that knew thee not, will
call on thee; and the peoples that know thee not, will
run to thee. 1Q3
Osee also prophesies the same things and says: And it
shall be in the place where it was said to them: You are
not my people; there they will be called sons of the liv-
ing God. And the children of Juda and the children of
Israel shall be gathered together* And again: I will
have mercy on the not-beloved one. And I will say to
that which was not my people: Thou art my people; and
they shall say: Thou art my GocL 165
At the time of the Apostles the believers in Christ who
were of the circumcision expressed the opinion that the
Gentiles, whom they called the uncircumcision, could not
share in the justifying effects of grace. The blessed
124 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Apostle Peter explains that before God there is no dis-
crimination between both peoples as long as both are
gathered in the unity of one faith. He says: And when
I had begun to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them,
as upon us also in the beginning. And I remembered the
word of the Lord, how that He said, "John indeed bap-
tized with water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy
Spirit" 166 If then God gave them the same grace as to
us also who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; who
was I, that could withstand God? Having heard these
things, they held their peace and glorified God saying:
God then hath also to the Gentiles given repentance unto
/ife. 167 The Apostle James also says about the call of the
Gentiles: Men, brethren, hear me. Simon hath related
how God first visited to take of the Gentiles a people to
His name. And to this agree the words of the Prophets,
as it is written: "After these things I will return and will
rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down.
And the ruins thereof I will rebuild, and I will set it up,
that the residue of men may seek after the Lord, and all
nations upon whom my name is invoked, saith the Lord,
who doth those things." 16S To the Lord was His own
work known from the beginning of the u?or/c/. 169 Simeon,
too, the one to whom the Holy Spirit had said that he
should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the
Lord, proclaimed the salvation of all the Gentiles as
being revealed in Christ, as follows: Now Thou dost dis-
miss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in
peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which
Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light
to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy
people Israel. 1
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 125
God's will to save all men is active in all ages.
These 172 and other evidences from the Scriptures prove
beyond doubt 1TS that the great wealth, power, and benefi-
cence of grace which in these last times m calls all the
Gentiles into the kingdom of Christ, was in former cen-
turies hidden in the secret counsel of God. 173 No knowl-
edge can comprehend, no understanding can penetrate
the reason why this abundance of grace which has now
come to the knowledge of all nations, was not revealed
to them before. Yet we believe with complete trust in
God's goodness that He wills all men to be saved and to
come to the knowledge of the truth: 176 this we must hold
as His changeless will from eternity, 177 which manifests
itself in the different measures in which He in His wis-
dom chose to augment His general gifts 17S with special
favours. Thus those who did not share in His grace/ 79
plead guilty of malice, and those who were resplendent
with its light, cannot glory in their own merit but only
in the Lord.
Objection against the text, "who wills all men to be
saved," taken from the case of infants.
This subtle but correct way of understanding our
problem is confronted by a great difficulty in the case of
126 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Infants. 180 Infants have not the use of reason by which
they can understand the mercies of their Maker and be
enabled to approach to the knowledge of truth. It would
not seem right to blame them for neglecting the help of
grace, when they are by their nature in such a state of
ignorance that they are unable and there can be no
doubt about it to acquire any knowledge or to grasp
any teaching. If 5 then, God wills all men to be saved 181
what is the reason why so great a number of infants re-
main deprived of eternal salvation, and why so many
thousands of human beings at this tender age are not
admitted to eternal life? 182
It would look as if God, who created no one out of
hatred, had created these children only to throw them
in the bonds of an unforgivable guilt which they con-
tracted without any fault of their own, for the only rea-
son that they entered this world in a flesh of sin. 183 What
can be more unfathomable, more astounding than this? 184
For it would not be right to believe that these children
who have not received the sacrament of regeneration, do
in any way belong to the communion of the Blessed. 185
And what makes it still more stupendous and strange is
this: here we have no guilt incurred through actions,
no free wills capable of offering resistance; there is mis-
fortune which is the same for all, there is equal help-
lessnessa case precisely the same for all Yet, in spite
of this complete parity of their case, the judgment is
not the same for all; but 186 some He disowns as repro-
bate, others He adopts as His elect, 187
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 127
God is just when He rejects unbaptized infants both in
this life and in the next because of original sin.
But if we are humble of heart we shall not be disturbed
by the unfathomable depth of this discrimination of
God. 188 We must but believe with firm and steadfast
faith that all of God's judgments are just, 189 and not
wish to know what He wanted to remain secret. Where
we cannot possibly investigate the reason of His judg-
ment, we should rest content with knowing who He is
that judges. 190 Though our problem is not so obscure
that we can learn from it nothing whatever. We must
only with the peaceful gaze of a discreet mind consider
what we are able to know.
For instance, let us reflect on this. Among pagans,
among Jews, among heretics, and among Catholic Chris-
tians also, how large a number of children die who man-
ifestly, as far as their own wills go, have done neither
good nor evil! But we are told that on them weighs the
sentence which the human race received for the sin of
Adam, our first father. And the rigour of this sentence,
which is not relaxed even for children, proves only how
grave that sin was. 191 Were children not to suffer harm
from their privation of baptism, then also 192 we would
no longer believe that no one is born in innocence.
And there is no reason to complain that death comes
too early for them, because once mortality invaded our
nature through sin, 193 every day of our life was forfeited
128 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
to it. There would be reason for complaint if there were
a time when man could not die at all and he could thus
be said to have a limited immortality. But at no moment
does our corruptible nature share in incorruption to the
extent that, when it is born for death, it would not al-
ways be liable to decay. The beginning of life is the com-
mencement of death. No sooner do we advance in age
than we start to decline. When a space of time is added
to our age, this is not an addition resulting in a state of
stability, but a mere form of transition to death. There-
fore, if a being is perishable from its inception, whatever
day it passes away, it does not perish contrary to the law
of mortality. It is never so fully in possession of life that
it is not within the grasp of death. 194 And, although the
mortality of all mankind has sprung from one source,
yet our corruptible nature is torn asunder not by one but
by many kinds of weakness. Illness, debility, accidents
threaten not only the years or months or days of our
human existence but every hour and every minute. There
is no kind of death, no manner of leaving this world
which does not befall some portion of mortal mankind. 195
For there remains a heavy yoke upon the children of
Adam, from the day of their coming out of their mother's
womb until the day of their burial into the mother of a//. 190
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 129
Divine justice measures out to each one
his lot of misfortune.
But the weight of this most heavy yoke 19T did not so
fall on the sons of Adam that God's justice would in no
way apply to it 198 His own standards. According to
these He submitted defective beings to the laws of their
deficiencies., but at the same time did not withhold from
them His power of mitigating their miseries. 199 He did
not allow that 5 just because all men on account of their
common sinful condition are liable to all evils, each and
every evil should befall each and every man. The Lord
wished that general necessity to assert itself in varying
degrees, while keeping to Himself the reasons both for
indulgence and for severity; and the one debt common to
all was to both make of His forgiveness a mercy and of
His punishment an act of justice. 200
We know, then, that God's just and omnipotent Prov-
idence governs all things unceasingly; that nobody comes
into this world or departs from it except as the Lord of
all things, in His unfathomable knowledge and wisdom,
has decreed his birth or death; 201 as is written in the
Book of Job: Who is ignorant that the hand of the Lord
hath made all these things? In whose hand is the soul of
every living being, and the spirit of all flesh of man; 202
and again, The days of man are short, and the number
of his days is with Thee. 2QB Who would dare search into
the reasons of His works and counsels? For inscrutable
130 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
and great Is the secret reason why men, whose human
condition is the same, are treated in so different ways.
One is harassed from childhood to old age with a long ill-
ness, and in spite of persisting pains no moment is cut
off from his appointed lifetime; while another enjoys
the full strength of his powers with a vigorous health up
to 204 an old age. To one death comes in childhood, to
another in adolescence. One is not allowed to go beyond
youth, another cannot even reach the age of speech. Our
frail mortality would find all this delimitation of life, so
unequal in many respects, less bitter if there were the
loss of the present life only, and if children who depart
from this world without the laver of regeneration did
not fall into unending misery. 2
Children who die receive the general grace
bestowed upon their parents.
The reason that regulates the distribution of the gifts
of grace is more inscrutable for us than the cause of the
miseries which our nature deserved. But this very diffi-
culty in understanding the mystery makes us look up to
our Maker. 206 If we ask, how it can be said that God wills
all men to be saved, 207 when He does not grant to all the
time when they are able to receive grace in a free accept-
ance of the faith, I think we may believe without irrever-
ence towards God and conceive without impropriety, that
those human beings who live only a few days share in
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 131
the kind of grace 208 which has always been given to all
For indeed, if the parents were to make good use of this
grace, the children also would derive a saving help from
it through them. 209 In fact, all children depend for their
birth and during the whole time of their infancy up to
the age of reason on the decisions made by other men,
and the guidance given them must come exclusively
from others. 210 Thus it follows that infants share the lot
of those persons whose right or wrong dispositions decide
their condition. 211 Some of them happen to have the faith
through the profession of faith of other people; 212 in the
same way some fail to have the faith on account of the
unbelief or the guilty neglect of others. Though they
themselves had no desire either of the present life or of
the future,, yet, just as their birth has become their own
concern, so also the eventual privation of rebirth be-
comes their own. 213 And just as in the case of adults it is
obvious that some, in addition to the general grace which
moves all human hearts in a more sparing and more hid-
den way, receive a special call with more excellent ef-
fects of grace, with more generous gifts, and with a
stronger power; so also in the case of the countless in-
fants the same election reveals itself. 214 The election was
not withheld even from the children who failed to receive
baptism, when it was present in their parents; but it
reached some children who were baptised, without reach-
ing their parents. 215 Thus it often happened that children
were taken care of by strangers when their unbelieving
kinsfolk failed them; and through strangers they came
to receive regeneration when their own people would not
have provided this for them. 216
132 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
We can find no reason for a just complaint in the different
destiny of children who in all other respects
are alike; rather there is a strong proof of
God's justice and of Christ's grace.
In this economy of grace 217 who but one altogether
Insolent and benighted could complain of divine justice,
because Providence does not treat all children in the same
way, and because its power does not discard, nor its
mercy forestall, all perils that may prevent the regener-
ation of such as are bound to die? This would indeed be
done for all children, if it had to be done by all means. 218
But it is not difficult to see what carelessness would
arise in 219 the hearts of the faithful, if in the matter of
the baptism of children the neglect of a person or the pos-
sibility of their dying offered no cause for fear; for in that
hypothesis it could never happen that children would re-
main deprived of baptism. 220 But this supposition, that
the happiness of children can never be frustrated, would
add great strength to the erroneous opinion which ven-
tures to say, in opposition to our Catholic faith, that men
receive grace according to their merit. 221 For then it would
look as though the guiltless innocence of infants could
claim in full justice that not one of their number should
fail to receive this adoption, because no guilt holds them
in chains. Then there would have been nothing against
the faith in the statement made by someone about the
baptism of children: "Grace has something to adopt, but
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 133
the water of baptism has nothing to cleanse." 222 But all
followers of the truth see the execrable implication of the
gospel preached here. It is obvious that all who die with-
out baptism are lost; 223 and this fact proves by itself that
all men who attain salvation owe this, not to their own
merit, but to grace. Certainly, were not the others stained
with a very grave sin,, they would not be lost. 224 But as
it is, God's discriminating judgment, hidden but just,
manifests both the gift which grace bestows on man and
the punishment which sinful nature deserves. Thus no
human pride can boast that grace is not a gift, nor may
our diligence relax as though there were no danger to
With His general grace given to all, God always
wills and has willed all men to be saved; but
His special grace is not granted to all.
Whether, then, we look on these last centuries or on
the first or on the ages between, we see that reason and
religious sense alike make us believe that God wills and
has always willed all men to be saved. 225 We prove this
from no other source than from the very gifts which
God's Providence generally bestows on all men without
any distinction. These gifts are found to be so general
in the past and in the present, that men find in their tes-
timony sufficient help to seek the true God. 226 Over and
above these gifts which proclaim their Maker throughout
the ages, God has scattered a special bounty of grace.
134 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
And though this grace is bestowed more abundantly now-
adays than before,, yet the Lord has reserved to Himself
the knowledge of the reasons of His dispensations and
kept them hidden in the secrecy of His all-powerful will. 227
Were these to come to all men uniformly, then there
would be nothing hidden about them. 228 And just as
there can be no doubt about His general kindness to all
men, so also there would be nothing astounding concern-
ing His special mercy. 229 Consequently, the former would
appear to be a grace, while the latter would not. 230 But
God was pleased to grant this latter grace to many and
to withhold the former from no one. He wished to make
it clear from both that He did not refuse to all mankind
what He gave to some men, 231 but that in some men
grace prevailed and in others nature recoiled. 2
In every justification grace is the outstanding factor,
while the human will is a secondary one, united with
grace and co-operating with God working in man;
grace prepares the will for this co-operation. 2 * 3
We believe and we know from experience that this
abundant grace acts in man as a powerful influence;
but in our opinion this influence is not such as to be over-
powering, to the extent that whatever transpires in men's
salvation is achieved by God's will alone; 234 for already
in the case of children it is the assent of another man's
will that is the medium for them to be relieved of their
affliction. 235 The special grace of God is certainly the
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 135
more prominent factor in every justification. It urges on
with exhortations, moves by examples, inspires fear from
dangers, rouses with miracles, gives understanding, in-
spires counsel, illumines the heart itself and inspires it
with the aspirations of the faith. 236
But man's will is also associated with grace as a second-
ary factor. For it is roused by the above-mentioned aids
in order that it may co-operate with God's work which
is being accomplished in man, and that it may begin to
practise and gain merit from that for which the divine
seed inspires the effective desire. 237 Thus its eventual fail-
ure is due to its own fickleness; but its success is due to
the help of grace.
This help is given in countless ways, some of which
are hidden, and others are easily discernible. If many
refuse this help, it is only their malice that is the cause.
If many accept it, then this is due to both divine grace
and their human will. 238 We may examine the beginning
of faith in the faithful or their progress or final persever-
ance in it, nowhere shall we discover any sort or kind
of virtue which it not the fact of both the gift of grace
and the consent of our wills. For grace, in all the variety
of remedy or help which it provides, first operates to pre-
pare the will of the recipient of its call to accept and fol-
low up its gifts. Virtue is non-existent with men who do
not wish to be virtuous/ 39 and you cannot say that men
could have faith or hope or charity, if they refuse their
free consent to these virtues.
136 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
Grace causes the consent of our will not only by teaching
and enlightening but also through terror and fear.
Men give their free consent to grace not only when
induced to do so by the exhortation of preachers and the
inspiration of doctrine, but also through fear. 240 That is
why we read in the Scripture, The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom. 2 * 1 This fear, the result of frighten-
ing experiences of whatever sort, tends only to make a
man willing who began by fearing, and not only willing
but also wise. That is why Scripture says again, Blessed
is the man to whom it is given to have the fear of God. 242
For what gives greater happiness than this fear which
produces and fosters wisdom? With the devotion that
springs from wisdom the will also is filled, and thanks to
the same fear which first stirred it to action and then
produced grace, the will now starts making progress. 243
When this fear is struck into a man even with the shock
of a great fright, this does not mean that it blots out his
reason or deprives him of his understanding. It rather
dispels the darkness that oppressed the mind, so that his
will, which was before depraved and captive, is now set
right and free. 244 Consequently, just as the soul acquires
no virtue unless it has received a ray of the true light, 245
so also grace bestows no favour on the man whom it
calls, unless it has first opened the eyes of his will. 246
As was discussed above, 247 in many men grace produces
great fervour from its first stirrings and then it is quickly
enriched with considerable increase. But in many also
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 137
who advance slowly and hesitatingly, it hardly grows
strong enough to reach the firmness that is necessary for
perseverance. Our Lord indeed says, No man can come
to me, except the Father y who hath sent me, draw /urn. 248
But Christ said this to teach us that faith, without which
no one can come to Him, is a gift of the Father, as was
shown in what He said to the Apostle Peter: Blessed art
thou, Simon Bar-Jona; because flesh and blood hath not
revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 2 * 9 It
is the Father who in the hearts of the men He wished to
draw to Himself produced both the faith and the good
will. For they could not have been so drawn had they
not followed freely through faith and good will. 250 Men
who refuse the faith are neither drawn to Him nor do
they come to Him. When they withhold their free con-
sent, they do not come nearer, they rather go farther
away from Him. It is love that leads to Him all those
who come to Him. 251 He loved them first and they re-
turned His love. He sought them first and they in turn
sought Him; and when God inspired their will with His
own, they willingly followed Him. 2
The faithful who by God's grace believe in Christ remain
free not to believe; and those who persevere
may yet turn away from God.
He who inspires men with the desire to obey Him, does
not take away from them, even from those who will per-
severe., the fickleness by which they can still refuse obe-
138 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
dience. 253 If it were otherwise, then none of the faithful
would ever have given up the faith, concupiscence would
overcome no one nor sadness depress any one; anger would
vanquish no one and the charity of no one would grow
cold; no one's patience would give way and no one would
neglect the grace that is offered him. But since these
things can take place and men all too easily and readily
yield and consent to such temptations, the words which
our Lord spoke to His Apostles, Watch ye and pray that
ye enter not into temptation., 254 should ever keep ringing
in the ears of the faithful. Had He admonished His dis-
ciples to watch only and not to pray also, then it might
appear that He wished only to rouse the energy of their
free wills. But by adding, and pray, He showed well
enough that it would be thanks to a gift from heaven
together with their watchfulness that they would stand
firm in the storm of temptation.
In the same sense He said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan
hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and
thou, being converted in the end, confirm thy brethren. 255
And pray lest ye enter into temptation 256 When the faith
of so great an Apostle was going to give way unless Christ
prayed for him, 257 this was a sure sign that he, too, was
subject to unsteadiness which could falter in temptation;
and he was not so confirmed with the strength to per-
severe, that he was not liable to any weakness. For in-
deed, even after all this, trepidation was to shake him so
badly that in the house of Caiphas, frightened by the
questions of some servant girl, his constancy was to give
way, and that to the extent of disowning Christ 25S three
times, after he had promised to die for Him. At that
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 139
moment He looked on the troubled heart of His Apostle
not with human but with divine eyes/ 39 and with a
piercing glance stirred it to abundant tears of repentance.
The Lord could also have given the chief of His disciples
such firmness of soul that, as He Himself was not to "be
deterred from the resolve to undergo His Passion, so Saint
Peter also on that occasion would not have been over-
come by any fear.
But such steadfastness belonged only to Him who alone
could say in truth and reality, I have power to lay down
my life, and I have power to take it up again. 260 In all other
men., as long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit., and the
spirit against the flesh, 2 1 and as long as the spirit indeed
is willing, but the flesh is weak 2&2 immovable strength
of soul is not to be found, because the perfect and undis-
turbed happiness of peace is not our lot in this life, but
in the next only. But in the uncertainty of the present
struggle, when the whole of life is a trial 26S and when
victory itself is not shielded from the Waylayer's pride,
the danger of inconstancy is ever present. True, God's
protection gives the strength of final perseverance to His
countless saints, yet He does not free any of them from
the resistance which their efforts encounter in their own
nature. In all their exertions and endeavours the struggle
between willingness and unwillingness continues una-
The most blessed Peter himself passed through this
conflict at the very moment when he was about to crown
all his victories. That is what our Lord foretold him when
He said: Amen, amen, I say to thee, when thou wast
younger, thou didst gird thyself and didst walk where
thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt
140 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and
lead thee whither thou wouldst not. And this He said
signifying by what death he should glorify Got/. 265 Who,
then, would doubt, who would fail to see that this strong-
est of rocks, who shared in the strength and the name of
the first Rock, 266 had always nourished the wish to be
given the strength of dying for Christ? Yet even he was
not to escape the impact of terror. This man who was
most anxious to suffer martyrdom heard the promise that
he would indeed be victorious in his sufferings, but not
without the test of fear.
Rightly, therefore, do not only beginners but advanced
saints as well beseech the Lord in the same manner and
say, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil. 2 7 For to all who persevere in faith and charity it is
He who grants the strength not to be overcome in tempta-
tion, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord 268 And
though it is He who gives them the victory, 269 He attrib-
utes to them the merit of it. Though it is only with God's
help that they stood firm in temptation, yet because
they were of their nature exposed to falling, He reckons
it to their credit that they remained steadfast. 270 Conse-
quently, just as those who are believers receive help to
persevere in their faith, so they also who are still unbe-
lievers receive help to come to the faith. And just as it
is possible for the former to leave the faith, so are unbe-
lievers capable not to come to it. 271 It is clear, then, that
in a countless variety of ways God wills all men to be
saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 272 When
they do come, then God's help is their guide; and when
they do not, the fault of the refusal lies with their own
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 141
God is fulfilling His promise to bless all the nations
every day, so as not to leave any excuse to
the reprobate, nor to give the elect a
reason to glory in their justice.
Many people 273 are in love with their own darkness
and do not accept the splendour of the truth. Many who
have seen the light return to their darkness. Yet the word
of God endureth for ever, 27 * and no tittle of His truthful
promise lacks fulfilment. Every day the foreknown and
promised fulness of the Gentiles 275 enters the fold, and
in the seed of Abraham every nation, every tribe, every
language receives His blessings. 276 For what the Father
gave to the Son, the Son does not lose, 277 and no one can
snatch from His hand what He has received. 278 The sure
foundation of God standeth firm, 2 and the building of
the temple that will stand forever does not shake, be-
cause God's truth and mercy cover all men. God effects
in the men who come within His promise what He re-
fuses to no one and what He owes to no one. 280 He Him-
self worketh all in all, 281 and all that He works cannot but
be just and good. 282 For all the ways of the Lord are justice
and truth 2
God foreknew before all ages how many from all over
the world would, though they enjoyed His general gifts
or were even aided with His special helps, 284 still stray
from the path of truth and life and take the broad road
of error and death. He likewise ever saw in His prescience
142 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
how many God-fearing men, thanks to the help of His
grace and to their own obedient service, would enter into
eternal beatitude. 285 Thus, while no one was to fall from
the number of the promised elect, except those who would
fail to make progress or would neglect to profit by His
help. He was to exalt in glory above all the elect whom
He chose from all mankind. Certainly, as we have proved
abundantly, God's manifold and ineffable goodness al-
ways provided and still provides for all mankind 286 in
such a way that not one of the reprobate can find an
excuse as though he had been refused the light of truth,
and that no one can rightly boast of his own justice. The
one group perishes by reason of its own malice, 287 while
it is God's grace that leads the other into glory.
Recapitulation of chapter one, Book Two.
We wish to recommend here again what we had sug-
gested at the beginning of this Second Book, namely, that
when we treat about the depth and height of divine grace,
we should base our reasoning on these three propositions
which are perfectly sound and true. One of these de-
clares that God's goodness from all eternity and of His
own free choice wills all men to be saved and to come to
the knowledge of the truth** 8 With this goes another,
stating that every man who is actually saved and comes
to the knowledge of the truth, owes it to God's help and
guidance just as he owes to Him his perseverance in faith
that worketh by charity. 289 A third acknowledges with
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 143
modesty and circumspection that we cannot comprehend
the motive of every divine decree and that the reasons of
many of God's works remain hidden from our human
understanding. 290 We see that God acts in a different or
even in a singular way at different times, when dealing
with different nations or families, with infants or the
unborn,, or even with twins. 291 We have no doubt that
here we are facing those things which God in His justice
and mercy does not wish us to know in this fleeting world.
And we must be persuaded that this was thus dis-
posed for our good. Thus, seeing that we are saved by
hope 292 and that God has prepared for us that eye hath
not seen, nor ear heard neither hath it entered into the
heart of man; 293 and just as we firmly believe that some
day we shall see what we do not yet see, so also we wait
patiently to understand what we do not yet understand.
Wherefore, if all spite and subtlety are put aside and if
all insolent presumption bows down, then, after all that
we have said, and said correctly, I think, there will be no
matter left for further quarrel, and there will be no further
need for us to busy ourselves with endless discussions.
In all ages God's general goodness gave grace to all
men, but to the elect He gave His special grace.
We have endeavoured to prove as best we could with
the Lord's help, 294 that not only in our own day but in all
past ages as well God gave His grace to all men, provid-
144 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
ing equally for all and showing to all His general good-
ness, yet in such a manner that the effects of His grace
are manifold and the measure of His gifts varying. For
in hidden or open ways He is, as the Apostle says, the
Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful 2 * 5 This state-
ment is subtle in its brevity 296 and strong in its conclu-
siveness. If we consider it with a calm mind, we shall
notice that it decides the whole of the present controversy.
For by saying, who is the Saviour of all men, the Apostle
affirmed that God's goodness is general and takes care of
all men. But by adding, especially of the faithful., he
showed that there is a section of humankind whom God,
thanks to their faith which He himself inspired, leads on
with special helps to the supreme and eternal salvation. 297
In doing this, God, who is supremely just and merciful,
is above all injustice, and we have not to discuss His
judgment about these rulings that would be arrogance
but rather to praise it in awe and trembling.
Among the faithful there are different degrees in God's
gifts, and this is not due to their merit but
to God's just and hidden judgment.
In fact, among the faithful themselves, as we have al-
ready shown above, 298 these gifts are not the same and are
not equal for all. Before human merit can have any in-
fluence, the divine mercies are measured out most un-
equally. Rightly so. If we dare not complain of the
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 145
decision of human parents when they show more Indul-
gence and love for some of their children even before they
have considered their behaviour or received from them
any filial services; if we allow human masters also the
free disposal of their servants, and if we cannot justly
censure one who in a household of the same social stand-
ing chooses those to whom he wishes to give greater priv-
ileges and to provide with a more liberal education: 2 "
must we then find fault with the most benevolent justice
of the supreme Father and the true Master, because in
His large household He disposes all things in countless
ways and variations? Though no man has any good
which he was not given by God, yet not all are resplen-
dent with the same virtues or endowed with the same
gratuitous gifts. And we may not see the reason of these
different degrees in their different merits; it is rather
grace which is the first cause of all merit, and which pro-
duces all that is praiseworthy in each and every one.
Not one of the elect is lost, but all who were chosen
from all eternity attain salvation.
Therefore, 301 just as our religious sense forbids us to
harbour in our hearts any complaint about the multi-
farious operations of the Holy Spirit within the Church, 302
in the same manner we should in no way murmur about
God's Providence which rules the destiny of the infidels.
For our Master who is both just and kind, cannot will
146 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
anything unjust nor waver in His discernment. We must,
then, not fancy that, in spite of the immeasurable mercy
and justice of almighty God, a man who is not a repro-
bate would be lost. 303
No part of the world is left without the Gospel of
Christ. 304 And although that general call of His does not
cease, yet the special call 305 has now also reached the
whole of mankind. From every nation and every con-
dition thousands of aged people, thousands of youths,
thousands of children daily receive the grace of adoption.
The very armies that exhaust the world help on the work
of Christian grace. How many indeed who in the quiet
of peace-time delayed to receive the sacrament of bap-
tism, were compelled by fear of close danger to hasten
to the water of regeneration, and were suddenly forced
by threatening terror to fulfil a duty which a peaceful
exhortation failed to bring home to their slow and tepid
souls? Some sons of the Church, made prisoners by the
enemy, changed their masters into servants of the Gospel,
and by teaching them the faith they became the superiors
of their own wartime lords. Again, some foreign pagans,
whilst serving in the Roman armies, were able to learn
the faith in our country, 308 when in their own lands they
could not have known it; they returned to their homes
instructed in the Christian religion. Thus nothing can
prevent God's grace from accomplishing His will. He
makes even of dissensions a bond of union and turns mis-
fortunes into remedies. Thus where the Church feared
danger, there she finds her expansion. 307
Consequently, to whatever course of human events we
direct our attention, we shall find out that no centuries
or events, no rising or falling generations are independent
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 147
of God's eternal and inscrutable judgments. All conflicts
of opposed interests and all the causes of confusing
events 30S which we are not able to search into and to
explain, are simultaneously known and clear to God's
eternal knowledge. There nothing is unsettled even of
the modalities of actions that are still to come. For in
God there is neither sudden impulse, nor new will, nor
temporary design. His thought does not alter with the
alternations of changeable things, but He comprehends
with His eternal and immovable glance all times and
things of time alike. He has already rendered all to all,
since He has already accomplished what is still to come. 309
Hence the well-known text of the blessed Apostle Paul
to the Ephesians: Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual
blessings in heavenly places, in Christ, as He chose us in
Him before the foundation of the world, that we should
be holy and unspotted in His sight in charity. Who hath
predestined us unto the adoption of children through
Jesus Christ in Himself, according to the purpose of His
will, unto the praise of the glory of His grace, 310 and so
the rest of the text where the Apostle expresses the same
idea. He teaches that the gift and the effect of grace al-
ways existed in God's eternal design, and that God chose
all His sons of adoption not only when He called them
during their lifetime, but before the world was established.
No one of mankind who was not foreknown as an elect
in Christ, will in any way share in the election. 311 For
all who at any time will be called and will enter into the
kingdom of God, have been marked out in the adoption
which preceded all times. 312 And just as none of the in-
fidels is counted among the elect, so none of the God-
148 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
fearing is excluded from the blessed. For in fact God's
prescience which is infallible,, cannot lose any of the mem-
bers that make up the fulness of the Body of Christ. And
the number of the elect who were foreknown and fore-
chosen in Christ before all times, can in no way be di-
minished; 313 as the Apostle writes to Timothy: Labour
with the gospel, according to the power of God, who hath
delivered us and called us by a holy calling, not according
to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace,
which was given us in Christ Jesus before time eternal.
Though God's design about the salvation of the elect is
without change, yet it is not useless to work and
to acquire the merit of good actions,
and also to keep on praying.
To this blinding light of the invincible truth some peo-
ple are wont to object unwisely: If the election of the
grace of Christianity is fixed already in God's changeless
counsel, and if nothing can turn out otherwise than was
settled by the will of the Almighty, then it is superfluous
to labour and to acquire the merit of good works, and it is
useless to go on with prayers by which we hope to prevail
upon Him. 315 But if they fancy that their objection is an
acute one, then they fail to see that God's knowledge
which embraces the past, the present, and the future, is
not encompassed by time, and that future events are as
present to Him as are current or past ones. Since this is
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 149
absolutely true, this power which sees at a glance that is
everlasting and truthful both what was created and is
still to be, what was born and will be born, what was
done and is still to be done, is not in need of time to look
and discern. All that comes to pass in the whole universe
through the appointed ages and is unrolled in a multitude
of various events, it comprehends now in its entirety, in
the same order in which till the end of the world it will
take place according to His supreme and perfect judg-
But this eternal and ever serene knowledge does not
impose on us any necessity of sinning, 317 and no iniquity
can spring from the source of all justice. For, since the
good God made all things good, and evil has no nature
of its own at all, 318 it is from free wills that a wilful trans-
gression arose; yet it was good that these wills were created
free. Our fickle nature whose integrity depended on the
changeless Essence, tore itself away from the supreme
Good when taking pleasure in that which was its own. 319
It is for this fall that God's grace now brings the remedy.
The elect receive grace, not to allow them to be idle or to
free them from the Enemy's attacks., but to enable
them to work well and to conquer the Enemy.
And for that reason 320 Jesus Christ came into this
world, that He might destroy the works of the devil* 21 He
effects this destruction in such a manner that the men
whom He helps have an active part in it, and this also is
150 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
a gift of the Saviour. That is why the blessed Apostle
says: And not only so: but we glory also in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience
trial; and trial hope; and hope confoundeth not; because
the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the
Holy Spirit who is given to us. 322 In like manner he says
to the Ephesians: By grace you are saved through faith
and that not of yourselves, for it is a gift of God; not of
works, that no man may glory. For we are His handiwork,
created in Christ ... in good works, which God hath pre-
pared that we should walk in them. B2s
God, then, grants to His elect whom He chose without
any merit of their own, the means to gain merit. 324 And
in vain would you say that the elect have no reason to
labour; they were rather chosen that they should labour. 325
For God's gifts, which are the virtues, cannot remain idle,
because, as the Truth says. To every one that hath shall
be given, . . . but from him that hath not, that also which
he hath shall be taken away* 2Q Consequently, God does
not give continence to allow a man not to resist his inor-
dinate desires. He does not give wisdom and understand-
ing to dispense a man from meditating on the Lord's law
day and night. 327 What can the gift of charity effect if a
man is not ever animated by a desire to help others?
What can be the fruit of patience if fortitude has no
chance to suffer? Or how will a man give proof that the
life he lives is really devoted to Christ, 328 if he does not
suffer any persecution? Or does the peace a man enjoys
from God and with God, give the right sort of quiet if it
is not in opposition to the world? Or can a man have the
friendship of God without enmity of the devil? God's
grace does not make any one proof against temptation.
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 151
The Christian soldier is not equipped with heavenly
weapons, both offensive and defensive, in order not to
fight with any enemy; because it brings greater glory and
happiness to come through battle invincible than to prove
unassailable because of indolence.
Election does not dispense from application to prayer,
rather it reaches its fulfilment through the
medium of prayer and good works.
That the design of the divine election does not do away
with attention to prayer, 329 I shall prove with evidence
from one text, omitting all others for the sake of brief-
ness. In the Book of Tobias the angel Raphael says to
Tobias, the son: Remember the commandments of thy
father., that he ordered thee to take a wife 33 from the
family of thy father. And now, hear me, brother, do not
take into account that devil; but ask for her. And know
that she will be given thee for wife this night. And when
thou shalt enter into the chamber, take of the liver of that
fish, and put it on the coals: a smell will spread, and the
devil shall smell it, and he will be driven away, and he
shall never anymore make his appearance about her. And
when thou shalt begin to desire to be with her, first rise
both, and pray the Lord of heaven, that mercy and health
be given you. And do not fear, for she was destined for
thee before the centuries, and thou shalt heal /ier. 331
Therefore, although it is impossible that God's decree
152 ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE
would not come true, yet it does not do away with the
practice of prayer, nor does the design of the election
diminish the effort of man's free will. God rather preor-
dained the effect He intended in such a way that He de-
sires man's merit to grow through the labour of good
works, through perseverance in supplications, through the
practice of virtues. He wants to crown the good works of
men not only according to His own plan but also ac-
cording to their merits. And clearly it is for this reason
that He hides the preordination of their election in a se-
crecy quite inaccessible to human knowledge. 332
Of no man can it be stated before his death that he will
share the glory of the elect; on the other hand,
there is no reason to despair of any
fallen man's conversion.
And of no man can the verdict be given before his death
that he will share in the glory of the elect; rather, a salu-
tary fear should make him persevere in humility. Let
him that standeth, take heed lest he fall; 333 and if he
should happen to fall, overcome by a temptation, let him
not be consumed by sadness, nor despair of the mercy of
Him who lifteth up all that fall, and setteth up all that
are cast down*** For as long as we live in our bodies we
must not neglect to correct any one, nor despair of any
one's conversion. 335
Let, then, Holy Church pray, let her give thanks for
THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS: BOOK II 153
those who have received the f aith a let her make entreaty
for their progress and perseverance. Let her plead on be-
half of infidels that they may believe. 336 And when her
prayers are not heard for some of them, let her not desist
from praying. For God who wills all men to come to the
knowledge of the truth, 3 * 7 cannot repel any one without
a just reason.
x 1ST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Ancient Christian Writers
Ballerini text of De vocations
Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticoram latinorum
Dictionnaire apologetique de la foi catholique,
4th ed. s ed. by A. d'Ales
Dictionnaire de spiritualite ascetique et mystique
Dictionnaire de theologie catholique
Enchiridion symbolorum, 21st ed., ed. by H. Den-
ziger, C. Bannwart, J. B. Umber g
Histoire des conciles
Mangeant text of De vocatione
Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima col-
P. J. Migne, Patrologia latina
Thesaurus linguae latinae
1 The title of the treatise reads Duo libri de vocatione omnium
gentium, meaning two books intended to prove that all nations are
the object of God's call to salvation. Omnium gentium reflects, no
doubt, a term occurring frequently in the New Testament: e.g.
Matt. 24. 14 ( e in testimonium omnibus gentibus'); 28. 19 ('docete
omnes gentes**); Mark 13. 10 ( e in omnes gentes . . . oportet praedi-
cari Evangelium'); Luke 24. 47; etc.
2 For the latest study on Pelagius, cf. G. de Plinval, Pelage, ses
ecrits, sa vie et sa reforme (Lausanne 1943); for the history of
Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, the chapters, c Les luttes pela-
giennes' and 'L'activite doctrinale dans FEglise gallo-romaine/ by
the same author, in A. Fliche and V. Martin, Histoire de I'Eglise
4 (Paris 1937) 79 ff., 397 ff. For the canons of the Council of
Carthage, cf. Mansi 3. 810-23 (still called there 'Milevitanum')
Hefele-Leclercq 2. 1. 190-6 = ES 101-8.
3 Cf. St. Augustine, Epist. 217 (Ad Vital) and 194 (Ad Six*.)-
4 Cf., e.g. Epist. 186 (Ad Paulin.) 7. 25 f.
5 Published in 426 or 427. Cf. also Epist. 214 and 215 (Ad
6 Published in 426 or 427. Cf. the annotated edition by C. Boyer
in Textm et documenta, ser. theoL (Rome 1932).
7 At the time of the Congregatio de auxiliis (1598-1607). Cf. M.
Jacquin, C A quelle date parut le terrne "semi-pelagien"?' in Rev. sc.
phil theol 1 (1907) 506-8. For the doctrinal history of Serni-
Pelagianism, cf. E. Amann, 'Semi-Pelagiens,' DTC 14.2 (1941)
1796-850. The expression reliquice pelagianorum takes its origin
from St. Prosper who calls the doctrines of St. Augustine's op-
ponents pelagianae pravitatis reliquiae: Epist. ad Aug. 7. It may be
good to recall that the term e Semi-Pelagianism' is historically a mis-
nomer. None of the Semi-Pelagians ever had, or wished to have,
any share in Pelagius' doctrines; both Cassian and Faustus of Riez
protested that they condemned his errors with the Church. They
were in no way half-converted Pelagians. Cf. O. Chadwick. John
Cassian. A Study in Primitive Monasticism (Cambridge 1950) 113.
8 Augustinism or St. Augustine's teaching on grace and liberty
taken as a whole (cf. E. Portalie, c Augustinisme, II,' DTC 1. 2 
2515ff.), has been understood in different ways according to the
different spirit that guides the interpretation of St. Augustine's writ-
ings. Some insist more on material faithfulness to the letter;
e.g. O. Rotmanner, Der Augustinismus, eine dogmengeschicht-
liche Studie (Munich 1892), as trans, and pref. by J. Liebaert,
Mel. sc. rel. 6 (1949) 29-48, brings out the points of doctrine in
which St. Augustine has not been followed by the Church; thus,
in connection with our subject, his teaching on predestination for
heaven and hell, and his interpretation of the Scripture text, 1 Tim.
2. 4, on God's salvific will in a restrictive sense. Others endeavour
rather to reveal the spirit of his system and its fundamental agree-
ment with the Church's doctrine even in the matter of predesti-
nation and salvific will, in spite of some unfortunate expressions
or an unhappy insistence on one aspect of the question. Cf., e.g. C.
Boyer, c Le systeme de Saint Augustin sur la grace,' Rech. sc. rel 20
(1930) 501-25, reprinted in the volume of Essais sur la doctrine de
Saint Augustin (Paris 1932) 206-36; or H. Rondet, 'L'anthropologie
religiense de Saint Augustin,' Rech. sc. rel. 29 (1939) 188-96.
9 Cf. Amann, art. tit. 1819-27 and 1833-49.
10 The works of St. Prosper are found in ML 51.
"ML 51.67-71 or ML 33. 1002-7 = A. Goldbacher, CSEL
12 ML 33. 1007-12 CSEL 57. 468-81.
13 Both written in 428 or 429. For the contents, cf. N. Merlin,
Saint Augustin et les dogmes du peche original et de la grace (Paris
14 Cf. s e.g. De praed. sanct. 2. 3. St. Prosper will follow this ex-
ample of argumentation in the Contra collator em (6 and 14) or the
Carmen de ingratis (e.g. 126-46; the burden of the whole poem is
to show that the Semi- Pelagians logically follow Pelagius); cf. also
De voc. 1. 22.
15 Collationes; text in ML 49.477-1326 and in M. Petschenig,
CSEL 13. Cassian's Serni-Pelagianisrn is especially manifest in the
13th Conference (ML 49. 897-954 = CSEL 13.361-96), which
is taken to task by St. Prosper in his De gratia et libe.ro arbitrio liber
contra collatorem (ML 51.215-74). On Cassian, cf. L. Cristiani,
Jean Cassien (2 vols., Paris 1946); Chadwick, op. cit.; for his
spiritual doctrine, M. Olphe-Galliard, 'Cassien, 3 DSAM 2 (1938)
1C Text (ML 50. 637-86) by R. S. Moxon, in Cambridge Patristic
Texts (Cambridge 1915). On the author and purpose of this
treatise, cf. Amann, art. cit. 1819-22. St. Vincent's opposition to
Augustinisrn was confined to the doctrine of grace. On that of the
Trinity and the Incarnation he was an admirer of St. Augustine as
is apparent from a recently discovered work of his: cf. J. Madoz,
Un tradado desconocido de San Vicente de Lerins, 3 Gregorianum
21 (1940) 75-94; and Eoccerpta Vincentii Lirinensis, in Estudios
Onienses, ser. I. 1 (Madrid 1940).
17 Cf. St. Prospers Pro Augustino responsiones ad capitula obiec-
tionum Vincentianarum: ML 51. 177-86.
18 Text, ML 51.205-12 ES 129-42. Cf. Amann, art. cit.
1828-30, on the meaning of the document. St. Prosper's authorship
was proved by M. Cappuyns, *L'origine des capitula pseudo-celes-
tiniens contre le semi-pelagianisme,' Rev. Ben. 41 (1929) 156-70.
L. Cristiani, op. cit. (2.240), characterizes the three respective
positions in the question of grace involved in the controversies as
follows: To the question, what is man after the Fall able to do
by himself (without grace) in view of his eternal salvation, Pela-
gius answers that he can do everything; St. Augustine, that he can
do nothing; the Semi-Pelagians, that he can do something.
19 Text in ML 58. 783-836, and A. Engelbrecht, CSEL 21. 1-98.
Cf. Amann, art. tit. 1833-7.
20 Cf. 1. 11, e . . . fatalis persuasio quae vim praescientiae cogentis
inducit, omnino respuenda est'; also 2. 4. Cf. Amann, art. cit.
21 St. Fulgentius' reply to Faustus' De gratia Del has not been
preserved, but is known from his Epist. ad loan, et Vener. (ML
45. 435-42) and from a treatise, De veritate praedestinationis (ibid.
603-72). Cf. Amann, art. tit. 1840.
22 In Mansi 8. 712-8 Hefele-Leclercq 2.2.1085-109. Cf.
M. Cappuyns, T'origine de capitula d'Orange 529,' Rech. theol.
anc. med. 6 (1934) 121-42. According to Cappuyns, canons 1-8
come from John Maxentius (of whom fragments of works are found
in MG 86. 1. 75-158). The capitula 9-25 are taken from St. Pros-
per's Liber sententiarum ex Augustino delibatarum.
23 St. Caesarius' sermons in ML 39 and 67 = G. Morin, Sancti
Caesarii Arelatensis Sermones (2 vols., Maredsous 1937). On
Caesarius, cf. P. Lejay, c Cesaire d' Aries (Saint), 3 DTC 2. 2 (1910)
2168-85, which summarizes the same author's study, e Le role the-
ologique de Cesaire d' Aries, 3 Rev. d'hist. et de lit. rel 10 (1905)
24 ML 51. 427-96. As noted by Cappuyns, c Le premier represen-
tant de Paugustinisme medieval, Prosper d'Aquitaine,' Rech. theol.
anc. med. 1 (1929) 309-37, this Liber sententiarum is the first
sample of a type of literature much in fashion in the Middle Ages.
(Further references to this article will be shortened, Cappuyns,
"Premier representant.')On St. Augustine's contribution to the
final victory over Pelagianism, cf. K. Rahner, 'Augustin und der
Semipelagianismus, 3 Zeitschr. kith. Theol. (1938) 171-96.
25 Cf. Amann, art. cit. 1830.
26 Cf. M. Cappuyns, c L'auteur du De vocatione omnium gentium,'
Rev. Ben. 39 (1927) 198-226. Further references to this study will
be shortened, Cappuyns, 'L'auteur.' The uncertainty about the
author of the De vocatione originates, no doubt, from the wide-
spread fashion of the time by which writers concealed their author-
ship either in anonymity or under another well-known author's
name. Cf. J. de Ghellinck, Patristique et Moyen Age 2 (Brussels-
Paris 1947) 351 f.
27 Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 199, enumerates six codices with St.
Ambrose's name, of which two of the sixteenth century are pos-
terior to the 1492 edition of St. Ambrose's works (Amerbach,
Basel). One more was known by ancient cataloguers. He briefly
sketches the history of this MS -attribution of the De vocatione to
St. Ambrose; it appears to originate from one codex Vat. Lot. 268,
as the Ballerini already believed (cf. ML 55. 159).
28 Cf. Cappuyns, c L 5 auteur 3 198 n. 2. Cappuyns mentions (ibid.
n. 1) other conjectures about the author, pointing to Eucher of
Lyons, or Prosper of Orleans. Cf. Quesnel (ML 55. 340-4) or the
Ballerini (ML 55. 371-3).
29 p^ Quesnel, Dissertatio secunda de auctore librorum de voca-
tione omnium gentium, in vol. 2 of S. Leonis opera omnia, Paris,
1675; Lyons, 1700. This dissertation was reprinted in ML
55. 339-72. Quesnel admitted that the accepted opinion considered
St. Prosper as the author; the heading of his dissertatio continues,
qui Prospero Aquitano vulgo attribuuntur. He also attests, op. cit.
18 (ML 55. 361), that before him reasons for doubting St. Prosper's
authorship had been proposed by G. J. Vossius, Historiae de con-
troversiis quas Pelagius eiusque reliquiae moverunt: Lib. VII
(Amsterdam 1655) 1. 20; and by H. de Noris, Historia Pelagiana
(Padua 1673) 2. 14. Cf. Cappuyns, 'L'auteur* 201 n.3. Quesnel's
edition of St. Leo was put on the Index on account of the Jansenistic
ideas expressed in his annotations (cf. a description of his edition
in the Schoenemanni notitia historico-litteraria in S. Leonem y in
ML 54. 82-6). A new edition of St. Leo was then prepared by the
brothers J. and P. Ballerini (cf. below, n. 32) by commission of,
and with the financial support of, Pope Benedict XIV to whom
they dedicate their work.
It should be noted that QuesneFs argument from internal evi-
dence for the Leonine composition of the De vocatione is weak
when we consider the fact of Prosper's influence in St. Leo's writ-
ings, which is generally admitted. Cf. de Ghellinck, op. cit. 213 f .,
and below, n. 44.
30 J. Antelmi, De veris operibus SS. Patrum Leonis Magni et
Prosperi Aquitani dissertationes criticae 3 Paris, 1869; cf. the Bal-
lerini in ML 55. 373 f., and Cappuyns, 'L'auteur 5 198 n. 1. Antel-
mi's hypothesis that the treatise had been published anonymously,
was also proposed by Quesnel, op. cit. 12 (ML 55. 345 f.).
31 L. E. Du Pin, Nouvelle bibliotheque des auteurs ecclesiastiques
(Paris 1695) 4. 199 ff. The Admonitio in libros de vocatione om-
nium gentium, printed in ML 51.639-48, is the Latin translation
of Du Pin's article. Cf. Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 199 n. 1.
32 Ballennorum observationes in dissertationem secundam Ques-
nelli de auctore librorum de vocatione omnium gentium, in vol. 2
of S. Leonis opera, Venice, 1756 = ML 55. 371-88. They conjec-
tured as author an unknown Prosper, other than St. Prosper of
Aquitaine; cf. ML 55. 160. The Schoenemanni notitia hist.-litt. gives
a glowing description of their edition of St. Leo's works, ML
33 Cf. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur 4
(Freiburg i. B. 1924) 541 f.; J. Tixeront, A Handbook of Patrology
(4th ed. trans, by S. A. Raemers, St. Louis 1927) 272; A Cayre,
Patrologie et histoire de la theologie (4th ed. Tournai 1947) 2. 186.
Yet, cf. Amann, art. cit. 1832: 'The question of the author seems
to tend towards a definite solution.' The solution he expects to
become definite is the one of Cappuyns.
34 'L'auteur,' etc. cf. above, n. 26.
35 Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 200, enumerates ten extant MSS which
attribute the De vocatione to St. Prosper, and mentions six more
that were known by ancient editors or authors. He concludes:
'L'attribution a Prosper n'est pas un fait isole au XII e siecle et se
rencontre deja en Allemagne au IX-X e siecle.'
36 ML 121. 276: De hac iterum dispensatione divinorum operum
Prosper in libro de vocatione gentium it a loquitur . . . .' This is fol-
lowed by the quotation, 'Multa enim sunt . . .,' comprising the en-
tire ch. 14 of Book One.
37 ML 125.203 D-4A: 'Prosper in libro secunda de vocatione
gentium demonstrat dicens . . .,' with quotation from. ch. 8. : 'Non
omnis reparabilis reparatus . . . .' till c gratia est. 3
38 Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 201 n. 1.
39 Cappuyns, ibid. 201.
40 Cappuyns concludes a close examination (ibid. 202-12) of the
doctrinal parallelism between St. Prosper and the De vocatione thus
(212), We have found no real difference in doctrine.' As examples
of this identity of doctrine he gives the following: both affirm a
universal salvific will, both refer this fact to God's general mercies,
both sacrifice partly the Augustinian predestination and lay greater
stress on human freedom. In both we find the same incoherences
and the same original line of evolution.
41 The literary comparison is found in pp. 213-20 of Cappuyns'
42 Cf. Cappuyns, ibid. 214 f. and n. 1 of 214
43 Ibid. 220. Independently of Cappuyns' study and as commu-
nicated in writing to the present translator, P. Schepens (+1950),
in an unpublished comparative study of the vocabulary of St.
Prosper and the De vocations, had arrived at the same conclusion
about the author of our treatise.
44 Cappuyns, c L'auteur } 220-5. Compare the title page of ML 51 :
S. Prosperi Aquitani S. Augustini disdpuli S. Leonis papae no-
tarii .... For the parallel passages pointed out by Quesnel, cf. his
dissertatio (ML 55. 351-4).
45 E.g. G. Bardy, 'Prosper d'Aquitaine (Saint)/ DTC 13.1
(1936) 847. In his revised edition of P. de Labriolle's Histoire de
la litterature latine chretienne (Paris 1947) 2. 666 n., Bardy writes:
C I1 est actuellement demontre que saint Prosper est encore Pauteur
du De Vocatlone omnium gentium. 3 See also B. Steidle, Patrologie
(Freiburg i. B. 1937) 96; B. Altaner, Patrologie (2nd ed. Freiburg i. B.
1950) 400: the work can be attributed to Prosper 'with great prob-
ability. 3 L. Pelland, S. Prosperi Aquitani doctrina de praedestina-
tione et voluntate salvifica, de eius in augustinismum influxu (Mon-
treal 1936) 154, believes, c solida cum probabilitate posse hos libros
De voc. omn. gent. Prospero Aquitano attribui.' Cf. J. Gaidioz,
"Saint Prosper d'Aquitaine et le tome a Flavien, 5 Rev. sc. rel. 23
(1949) 270-301, esp. 287 ff. In order to confirm the conclusion
that St. Prosper is the author of the De vooatione, we shall fre-
quently refer in the notes to parallel or identical texts in his other
46 Cf. G. Bardy, art. tit., who utilizes the preceding studies on
Prosper, especially the two articles of Cappuyns frequently quoted
here. Cf. also L. Valentin, Saint Prosper d'Aquitaine, etude sur la
litterature latine ecclesiastique au V e siecle en Gaule (Paris 1900),
and his reviewer, L. Couture, in two articles: "Saint Prosper d'Aqui-
taine,' Bull litt. eccles. (1900) 269-82 and (1901) 33-49; M. Jac-
quin, e La question de la predestination au V e et VI e siecles,' Rev.
hist, eccles. (1906) 269-300.
47 Except for slight discrepancies which do not affect Prosper's
doctrinal evolution, scholars agree on the chronology of his works.
Cf . below, n. 52.
48 Thus Valentin, Couture, Jacquin, Bardy, Amann, Cayre, Cap-
49 Jacquin, art. cit., holds that St. Prosper abandoned St. Augus-
tine's teaching in one point only, and brought in an innovation
by explaining reprobation post praevisa merita. This can be seen,
for instance, in Resp. cap. Gall. 3: 'Ideo praesdestinati non sunt,
quia tales futuri ex voluntaria praevaricatione praesciti sunt.' Cap-
puyns, 'Premier representant,' admits a more general evolution in
St. Prosper's doctrinal positions, in a direction away from Augus-
tinism; so, too, Amann, art. cit. 1827: C V. Le repli des augustiniens 5 ;
and several others. Pelland, op. cit., refuses to believe that St.
Prosper ever ceased to be a faithful follower of St. Augustine. These
differences in interpretation arise partly from the different con-
ceptions of Augustine's doctrine and of Augustinism. Cf. above, n. 8.
50 We shall frequently indicate in the notes parallel passages in
St. Augustine's works, drawing mainly from those written at the
time of the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian controversies (412-30),
and only occasionally from his other writings. It will thus be seen
that these are incomparably more numerous than the few similar
texts which Quesnel detected between St. Leo and the De vocatione.
This will be at the same time an additional proof to exclude Ques-
nel's supposition that Leo must be the the author of our treatise.
For St. Leo, as is well known, was never influenced by St. Augus-
tine, in his ideas and their expression, to the extent that one can
perceive the Augustinian influence at work in the De vocatione;
whilst St. Prosper in all his works does clearly reveal his Augus-
51 'Premier representant 9 310.
52 The chronological order of St. Prosper's works, according to
Cappuyns, art. cit., is as follows. First period (till about 432) : 1)
Epistola ad Rufinum de gratia et libero arbitrio (426-427); 2)
Epistola ad Augustinum (end of 428); 3) Carmen de ingratis
(about 430), a versified rendering of the Epist. ad Ruf. y with a pun
on the ingrati 'ungrateful' and 'enemies of grace' (inspired by St.
Augustine, Serm. 26. 11. 14, 'contra istam gratiam ab ingratis non
disputetur'); 4) Pro Augustino responsiones ad excerpta Genuen-
sium (after 430). Of this last work G. de Plinval, Pelage 367 n. I,
ventures a possible correction of the title, Agenuensium = 'the men
of Agen/ instead of Genuensium. Valentin, Couture, Jacquin, Pel-
land, Amann invert the order of Epist ad Ruf. and Epist. ad Aug.
Second period (433-435) : 1) De gratia et libero arbitrio liber con-
tra collatorem, a heated and not always fair attack on Cassian (see
Chadwick, op. cit. 135); 2) Pro Augustino responsiones ad capitula
obiectionum Gallorum calumniantium; 3) Pro Augustino respon-
siones ad capitula obiectionum Vincentianarum. Valentin and Cou-
ture invert this order and place the Contra coll after both series of
Responsiones. Jacquin here agrees with Cappuyns, but places the
Resp. excerp. Gen. in this period. Third period (after 435, date of
Cassian's death, when Prosper resides in Rome): 1) Expositio in
Psalmos (between 435 and 449), a summary of St. Augustine's
Enarr. in Ps.; 2) Gapitula, sen praeteritorum Sedis Apostolicae
episcoporum auctoritates de gratia Dei (between 435 and 442); 3)
LIBRI DUO DE VOCATIONE OMNIUM GENTIUM (about
450); 4) Liber sententiarum ex Augustino delibatarum (about 451);
5) Epigrammata ex sententiis S. Augustini (after 451), the previous
work in verse; 6) St. Prospers Chronicum, begun before 435 during
his stay in Gaul and continued in Rome, stops at the year 455. Cap-
puyns concludes that he must have died shortly after this date.
Even for scholars who hesitate to subscribe to Cappuyns 5 con-
clusion about St. Prosper's authorship of the De vocations, our
treatise finds its historical setting in the evolution of Augustinism
at the moment when the Catholic doctrine began to be separated
from Augustinian theories. Whether written by Prosper or not,
the De vocatione is the fruit and a symptom of a partial withdrawal
of the Augustinians. Cf. Amann, art. cit. 1827. This is exactly St.
Prosper's position in his last period, as Cappuyns, 'Premier repre-
sentant,* has clearly shown.
53 Several authors writing on the De vocatione summarize Book
One by saying that it deals with the gratuitousness of grace; ci
Amann, art cit. 1831, or L. Caperan, Le problems du salut des infi-
deles. Essai historique (2d ed. Paris 1934) 138. This may be correct
as to the material contents of the Book, but it hardly corresponds to
the author's purpose and to the formal viewpoint he takes. He in-
tends to study the universal salvific will, De vocatione OMNIUM
GENTIUM. Only in order to expose this doctrine 'which cannot be
denied' (1.1) and to reconcile it with the fact that many are not
saved, he brings in the doctrine about the gratuitousness of grace.
Cf. in this sense Pelland, op. cit. 157.
54 For St. Augustine's interpretation of 1 Tim. 2. 4 (or of similar
texts) cf. E. Portalie, c Augustin (Saint)/ DTC 1. 2 (1903) 2407, or
Caperan, op. cit. 197-9. St. Augustine, as is well known, inter-
preted the text in a restrictive meaning in at least three different
ways: cf. Enchir. 27. 103 (ACW 4. 97 and n. 336); De corrept. et
grat. 15. 47; De praed. sanct. 8. 14. For a brief historical survey
of medieval Augustinism, cf. A. d'Ales, 'Predestination,' DAFC 4
(1922) 216-25. After Cappuyns' studies on the De vocations, the
reference to its 'anonymous author' needs revision.
55 Cf. Cassian, Coll. 13, De prov. div. 7. Cf. St. Prospers Epist.
ad Aug. 4, and Hilary's Epist. ad Aug. 7.
56 Even to-day scholars do not agree in their way of interpreting
the De vocatione. Does it hold universalism or particularism of
God's salvific will? Some, as for instance, A. d'AIes, art. cit. 216,
read in it an indubitable universalism. So did Portalie, 'Augustin-
isme,' DTC 1.2 (1903) 25251 Others, e.g. Jacquin, art. cit. 293,
refuse to read in St. Prospers works a genuinely unrestricted uni-
versal will of salvation. A key to this diversity of opinions may
perhaps be discovered in Amann, art. cit. 1832, when he says that
the doctrine of the De vocatione is to some extent inconsistent in its
diverse affirmations, owing to the 'fluctuations of a thought of which
cohesion is not the most outstanding feature. 5 The author of the
De vocatione sees in each of the opposing systems of St. Augustine
and the Semi-Pelagians what are their good and weak points; from
both sides he takes what he thinks right, and rejects what he con-
siders unacceptable, without realizing that by so doing he con-
structs a system that harbours inconsistencies and contradictions.
(Cappuyns, 'L'auteur 3 212, also notes these incoherences.) This
view may be the closest to the objective facts given by the texts.
It also allows a more natural interpretation of various statements
which it is then not necessary to force into a firmly coherent
structure. But the desire of the author to open out a more pro-
nounced universalism than he had read in St. Augustine seems to
be beyond doubt. It will have to be seen in detail how far he is
successful in executing this desire.
5T A clear expression of this connection between the gratuitous-
ness of grace and predestination is found, for example, in De dono
persev. 13. 33.
58 This brief summary of Book One may fail to bring out suffi-
ciently the formal viewpoint of St. Prosper in dealing at length with
the gratuitousness of grace. The text itself interspersed with re-
peated mention of the universal salvific will (1.5, 12, 20, 25) mani-
fests his intention more clearly. His study of the gratuitousness of
grace, aimed undoubtedly at the Semi-Pelagians, is loosened from
its connection with predestination, and answers the question why
it is that not all are saved. The Semi-Pelagians answered the ques-
tion by saying that those perish who do not wish to be saved.
stressing the fact that grace waits for their initiative. St. Prosper
wanted to discard this explanation at any cost.
59 The universal distribution of grace is in no way opposed to its
gratuitous character. Cf., e.g. a modern theologian, H. Rondet, *La
grace liberatrice,' Nouv. rev. theol. 69 (1947) 128 f. St. Prosper,
as has just been said, has his own reason for insisting on the com-
plete gratuitousness of grace: he writes against the Semi-Pelagians.
60 Those authors especially who maintain that St. Prosper never
swerved from St. Augustine's teaching, find in the Doctor of Grace
an equivalent to St. Prosper's distinction between general and
special grace. Already Portalie, art. cit., DTC 1.2. 2407 f., leads
up to it when he sees in St. Augustine's interpretation given in the
De spir. et. litt. 33. 58, a universal but conditional salvific will
(corresponding to St. Prosper's gratia generalis, and, for Portalie,
the equivalent of the voluntas antecedens of later Scholasticism)
and in the later interpretations of 1 Tim. 2. 4 the efficacious salvific
will which applies only to the elect (the equivalent of the gratia
specialis of the De vocatione, and of the voluntas consequens of the
Scholastics). There may be a real, but implicit and incomplete,
correspondence. On the idea of universal grace in St. Augustine,
cf. de Plinval, Pelage 399 f.
61 Cf. Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 222. Quesnel found in St. Leo the
idea of a general help offered and given to all men in the follow-
ing seven passages: Serm. 18. 2, 19. 2, 35. 4, 38. 3 3 44. 1, 82. 2, 91. 1.
Cappuyns, ibid. 224, notes more parallel expressions (e.g. Serm.
24. 1, 67. 1) , and points out the different doctrinal context. St.
Leo gives expression to the idea, but does not connect it with the
salvific will; he does not go beyond St. Paul's idea in Rom. I. 20 f.
62 For a detailed discussion of the gratia generalis and specialis,
cf. below, Book Two n. 226, where references to the text are given
for every particular statement.
63 Cf. below, Book Two nn. 210-16.
64 On the doctrine of election or predestination in the De voca-
tione, cf. n. 316 to Book Two.
65 This important element for the solution of our problem is in-
sinuated rather than explicitly stated, but it is scarcely made use of
owing, no doubt, to the fact that our author is obsessed by the
election theory: cf. below. Book Two n. 232.
66 Thus Cappuyns, 'Premier representant' 337, e Aussi bien 1'uni-
versalisme de Prosper . . . se reduit-il au derniere analyse a une
excellente intention.' Perhaps this conclusion should be slightly
modified, and in the light of n. 56, a more real universalism may be
said to have been affirmed by St. Prosper; provided, however, we do
not require too stringent a consistency of the system found in the
De vocatione. He really intends to establish a universal salvific will
which excludes no man and extends grace to all men, no one being
excepted. And he means to say explicitly that all men do receive
grace. Yet it is clear that grace which actually leads to salvation is
not received by all, for not all are saved. Why does their grace
not save them? Here lies the mystery; for St. Prosper the answer is
hidden in God's judgments His election.
67 No one denies that St. Prosper softens down St. Augustine's
excessively rigid expressions; the purposeful avoidance of the words
'predestination 9 and its derived forms (it occurs only once, in a
Scripture quotation) is too clear a proof of this. As noted above,
n. 56, not all students of Prosper agree that he would also have
interpreted some of St. Augustine's ideas on predestination and
salvific will in a more lenient sense. We are inclined to think that
there is a real change in the viewpoint and in the stress laid on
different aspects of the mystery of man's salvation, and, conse-
quently, a change, at least to some extent, in the ideas themselves.
If we do not demand absolute consistency of system in the De vo-
catione, as in the whole of St. Prosper 's theology, we may frankly
admit a veering away from St. Augustine's ideas in the conception
of the universal salvific will. Yet at the same time he tries to hold
on to a theory of election that does not go together with his uni-
versalism. At any rate, the De vocatione remains 'another attempt
to temper the Augustinian teaching' (Cayre, Manual of Patrology 2
[tr. by H. Howitt, Tournai 1940] 190).
68 Thus Cappuyns, Valentin, d' Ales, Amann, Caper an, Tixeront, etc.
69 St. Prosper's influence, though real in the early Middle Ages
(cf. Cappuyns, 'Premier representant' 335 n. 82) is less felt in the
golden age of Scholasticism. St. Thomas, for example, seems to have
known only or mainly his Liber sent, ex Aug. delib. This may be
partly due to the fact, recently pointed out by H. Bouillard, Con-
version et grace chez S. Thomas d'Aquin, Etude historique (Paris
1944), that the historical Semi-Pelagianism and the canons of the
Council of Orange that condemned it were practically unknown by
the Scholastics from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. These
canons were not in the council collections in use at the time, up
to 1538, when they were inserted in a new edition of the councils
by Peter Crabbe, Cologne. Till then the theologians were unac-
quainted with the Council of Orange itself. Cf. Bouillard, op. tit.
92-122: 'Decouverte du semi-pelagianisme/ To-day the De voca-
tione finds honourable mention in most theological or historical
surveys of the problem of the salvation of infidels. Cf., e.g. Cape-
ran, op. tit. 137-43, or d'Ales, art. tit. 1156-81. A recent study by
I. Ortega, De vocations omnium gentium in salutem (Manila 1946)
87, mentions our treatise in its historical survey, with too laudatory
an appreciation of it: catholicam doctrinam it a insigniter confecit
ut addendum vix quidquam appareat.'
70 With the title, De vocatione omnium gentium libri duo qui
Leoni Magno a Quesnello perperam attributi ignoto cuidam Pros-
pero adiudicandi videntur (cf. above, n. 29 and n. 32). The Bal-
lerini text of the De vocatione, which was not reprinted in Migne
with their text of St. Leo, improves Mangeant's edition (for which
cf. the foil, n.) by a further collation of three MSS: Vat. Reg. 293,
Vat. Lat. 268, and Vat. Lat. 262 (cf. ML 55. 157-9). The Ballermi,
loc cit. } cite three more MSS of the De vocatione that bear St. Pros-
per's name, Vat. Palat. 236, Vat. Lat. 558, and Vat. Lat. 559, and
a fourth under St. Ambrose's name, Vat. Lat. 281, which, however,
they did not use to establish their text.
71 Mangeant's text, prepared by le Brun des Marettes and D.
Mangeant, is based on the printed editions of St. Prosper's works
of Louvain (1565, by J. Soteaux), Douai (1577, by J. Olivier), and
Cologne (1609, reproduces Douai), which they corrected with the
assistance of QuesnePs edition of the De vocatione in the Opera
S. Leonis (this itself was mainly made on a MS Par. Nat. 2156 =
the Codex Thuaneus of ML 51) and through collation of two more
MSS, one of the Codex Camber onensis, known but not used for
the revision of the text by J. Olivier for the Douai edition, and the
Par. Nat. 17413 ( Co dex Joliensis). Cf. ML 51. 649 A and
55. 157 f.; and Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 200 n. L H. Hurter has the De
vocatione in vol. 3 of the SS. PP. opuscula selecta, with only a few
variant readings from the Ballermi text. ML 17 prints a text of the
De vocatione among the doubtful or spurious works of St. Ambrose
(1073-132); it was added by Migne to the Benedictine edition of
St. Ambrose's works which he was reprinting, without any indi-
cation of its source. This text has a different division into chapters,
only nine for Book One and ten for Book Two.
72 In the notes B stands for the Ballerini text and M for Man-
geant's (Migne 51).
7S The translation is mentioned in the Schoenemanni notitia his-
torico-litteraria in S. Prosper urn, printed in Migne's volume of St.
Prosper's works (ML 51.61). The rare work is found in the Biblio-
theque Nationale of Paris from where a copy of it on microfilm
was obtained. For the author of that translation, Antoine Girard,
cf. C. Sommervogel, Bibliotheque des ecrivains de la Compagnie de
Jesus 3. 1434-43. The Vocation des Gentils is mentioned 1439. 14
bis. It was published without the name of the translator, as more
books and translations of A. Girard had been. Girard's remarks
are mainly levelled against the Jansenists. The French translation
of St. Prosper's works published by P. Lequeux, Paris, 1762, does not
give the De vocatione. This translator included only the works that
definitely belong (or were considered as belonging) to St. Prosper,
and after QuesnePs dissertatio the once accepted opinion was no
longer commonly held. A. Girard who came before Quesnel, con-
sidered St. Prosper as the author of the De vocatione.
1 defensores liberi arbitrii = the Massilienses, later known as the
Semi-Pelagians; praedicatores gratiae Dei = the followers of St.
Augustine. The text refers to the first phase of the Semi-Pelagian
and Augustinian controversies, the acme of which was reached
in the years 430-5, with Cassian and St. Vincent of Lerins on the
Semi-Pelagian side, and St. Prosper of Aquitaine as their chief op-
ponent. Cf. Intro. 4-6.
2 The De vocatione affirms universalism in God's salvific will,
which is taken as certain or even as of faith (cf. below, ch. 25) :
it departs in this view from St. Augustine's restrictive interpreta-
tions of 1 Tim. 2.4 (cf., however, below chs. 9-12). Cf. Prosper
in Resp. cap. Vincent. 2: 'Sincerissime credendum atque profiten-
dum est Deum velle ut omnes homines salvi riant'; and Resp. cap.
Gall. 8. Jacquin, 'La question de la predestination au V e et VI e
siecles,' Rev. hist. eccl. 7 (1906) 293, does admit here a real uni-
versalism. Cf. Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 206 f.
3 Cf. St. Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 70. 2. 1 : 'Gratia gratis data est.
Nam nisi gratis esset, gratia non esset'; and Retract. 1.22.2: c Non
est gratia, si earn ulla merita praecedunt . . . .' The dilemma is
clearly stated. If God wills the salvation of all men, why are not
BOOK I 171
all actually saved? Either because of the will of men, but then
grace without which there is no salvation is made dependent on the
merits of men and it is no longer a gift but something due to men;
or because of the will of God who does not give grace to some men,
but then there seems to be no universal salvific will, since God
would not give to all the only means of salvationwhich He alone
can give grace. The latent presupposition of the dilemma is the
Augustinian idea that God's will and grace are always effective of
their purpose. Later theology will distinguish two kinds of divine
will and of grace, and thus evade the dilemma. St. Augustine, as is
well known (cf. Amann, art. eft. 1814), avoided to treat ex professo
of the salvific will, and in his later years at least interpreted the
relevant Scripture texts in a particularistic sense.
4 An often recurring principle of solution for the problem studied
in the De vocations is stated here: it is necessary to clearly dis-
tinguish between what we are able to know and what is beyond
our ken (cf. Book Two, ch. 1). This reference to the unknowable
mystery of God's judgments is Augustinian: cf. 5 e.g. De corrept. et
grot. 8. 17; and Amann, art. cit. 1802. St. Prosper insists more par-
ticularly on the necessity of discerning between the mystery and
what we can come to know. Cf. below, Book Two n. 290.
5 annitar inquirere: in this phrase Quesnel, Dissertatio 2a (ML
55. 345 f.), and the Ballerini, Observations in diss. 2a (ibid. 373),
read an indication that it is the first time the author of the De
vocatione treats of this problem; that he, therefore, cannot be St.
Prosper of Aquitaine. This conclusion seems to be unwarranted,
when we consider his purpose, expressly stated here: to determine
what can and what cannot be known in the matter. Would it not
be more correct to say that this is possible only, or, at any rate,
will be better done, if done by one who has dealt with these
problems before and is familiar with them?
6 This limit of our knowledge will repeatedly be pointed out; cf.
below, chs. 13, 14, 21, 25.
7 ... de . . . motibus et gradibus voluntatis: lit., the 'movements*
of the will at its different levels or degrees. Gf. below, ch. 2, the
threefold will in man.
8 Pelagius' conception of freedom (cf., e.g. St. Augustine, Opus
imp. c. lul. 6. 9, Julian's explanation: c . . . possibilitas peccandi et
non peccandi . . . quae habeat facultatem in quod voluerit latus
suopte insistendi arbitratu') according to which he is free who
can do what he wants, requires that man is equally able to do good
or evil. Consequently, if a man is not able to do good by himself,
without grace, this would mean that he is not free. The Semi-
Pelagians did not go that far (cf., however, Cassian., in St. Prosper's
Contra coll. 13. 6), but they objected to the initiative being taken
by grace; if the will is set in motion by grace, it does not move
Itself, and would then not be free. Cf. the following note.
9 non ducem sed comitem: grace not preceding or leading, but
following, the will. This expresses exactly the Semi-Pelagian po-
sition; cf. Cassian, Coll 13. 11. Cassian taught, it should be noted,
that the initiative for good works at times belongs to our human
will and at other times to grace; cf. Amann, art. cit. 1806-8. Note
also Prosper, Epist. ad Aug. 5: '. . . gratiam Dei, quam comitem,
non praeviam humanorum volunt esse meritorum.' Compare St.
Augustine, Epist. 186 (Ad Pau/m.) 3. 10: c . . . comitante, non
ducente, pedisequa, non praevia voluntate.' St. Augustine's answer
to the Semi-Pelagian position was already noted (above, n. 3); cf.
also Epist. 194 (Ad Sixt.) 3. 14; De corr. et grat. 7. 13.
10 For this argument of the Semi-Pelagians in favour of free will,
cf. Contra coll. 19: c Quoniam secundum ipsos, si aufertur Hberum
arbitrium cum gratia praevenitur, aufertur gratia cum libero ar-
bitrio praevenitur. 5 No direct answer is given to it here. The De
vocatione holds the Augustinian view that there can be no true
virtues without grace (cf. below, ch. 4). An argument ad hominem
is, however, sketched here: if grace is not the cause of all merits,
it is no longer grace; it would then be due to man for some previous
merit Cf. Rom. 11. 6; St. Augustine, Epist. 194 (Ad Szbrt.) 3. 7.
11 naturaliter inest qualiscumque voluntas: as the three follow-
ing chapters will show, in St. Prosper's conception the same appeti-
tive faculty in man, called will, is active at three different levels or
attains three different degrees of perfection.
12 For donum Dei, donum Spiritus (Sancti), see J. P. Christopher,
ACW 2. 132 n. 222; L. A. Arand, ACW 3. 128 n. 120.
13 These three degrees of the will are found in St. Prosper's other
works, though not brought together as here. Cf. below, nn. 14, 15,
36. St. Augustine has the same conception, but considers especially
the last two degrees. Cf. De civ. Dei 13. 2, 'Quid sit secundum
camera, quid secundum spiritum vivere'; and 4, 'Quid sit secundum
hominem, quid secundum Deum vivere.'
14 Voluntas sensualis: the animal will or the appetitive power that
tends spontaneously to sensible objects, as in the irrational animals.
It is not sensual in the meaning of the English word that connotes
BOOK I 173
something inordinate or sinful. Scholastic philosophy will call It
the sensitive appetitive power and conceive it as distinct from the
rational will. Cf. Contra coll. 13. 6; the infantes, excordes et jatui,
are said to have a will but not a liberum arbitrium.
15 voluntas animalis: the purely human or natural will, called
anlmalis, an echo of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 2. 14, in opposition to the
spiritual will (below, ch. 6), not because it aims only at sensible
objects, as the animal or sensitive appetite does, which has been
called sensualis in the previous chapter; but because in all its objects
it does not look for a higher spiritual good and remains confined to
earthly and perishable things. Cf. Spencer's translation of I Cor.
2. 14. It is natural in the sense of not supernaturalized or spiri-
tualized. Cf. Girard's French translation, Volonte naturelle.'
16 That only a terrestrial reward awaits the good efforts of the
natural will, is an Augustinian idea, found especially in St. Augus-
tine's teachings about the virtues of pagans; see, e.g. De civ. Dei,
5. 15; also Prosper, Carm. de ingr. 401 f., and the text cited in the
17 Another conception of St. Augustine: reference to God of all
good works is necessary to make them truly good and worthy of a
lasting reward. Cf. De spir. et litt. 27. 48; Contra lul Pelag.
4. 3. 22. Note, too, Prosper, Contra coll. 13. 3: c . . . multi eorum (im-
piorum) sint iustitiae, temperantiae, continentiae et benevolentiae
sectatores; quae omnia non frustra quidem neque inutiliter habent,
multumque ex eis in hac vita honoris et gloriae consequuntur; sed
quia in his studiis non Deo sed diabolo serviunt, licet habeant tem-
poralem de vana laude mercedern, ad illam tamen beatarum vir-
tutum non pertinent veritatem.'
18 Rom. 1. 20. For the Scripture texts of which our author will
quote abundantly, we should note at the outset that, as is to be
expected of a fifth-century author, St. Prosper cites different ver-
sions of the Latin Scriptures, both the Vulgate and the ancient ver-
sions, without any rigid consistency. It is not always possible (cf.
Cappuyns, 'Uauteur' 214 n. 1), on account of the imperfect state of
the edited texts, to determine with accuracy which versions are
cited. Broadly speaking, we may say that the New Testament books
are generally quoted according to the Vulgate, with occasional in-
versions in the order of the words and slight variants that hardly
affect the meaning. A few exceptions to this rule were pointed out
by Cappuyns, loc. tit., as an additional proof of St. Prosper's au-
thorship of the De vocatione, the same exceptions occurring in
Prosper's other works. The variant readings are more rarely found
for the Gospels and the Acts than for the Epistles of St. Paul and
St. John; they are more frequent and more considerable for the
two Epistles of St. Peter, so much so that for these especially (and
at times also for St. Paul) it is often impossible to say whether the
texts are taken from old versions or merely cited in a free way from
the Vulgate. Of the Old Testament, the Psalms and Job are consis-
tently quoted according to the Vulgate. Most of the other books
are cited from older versions, especially the Prophets, (Jer., Isa.,
Joel); Prov., Isa., Tob., and Esth. are also (or generally) quoted
according to the Septuagint.
19 Rom. I.22.~-Cf. Resp. excerp. Gen. 8; St. Augustine, De spir.
et litt. 11.20.
2Q IUd. 1.21.
21 When men rise to the knowledge of the supreme Good, they
do not effect this without the help of God's grace illuminante Dei
gratia. This might be interpreted to mean that human reason
cannot come to the knowledge of God without the help of grace.
To-day we believe the contrary cf. ES 1785, 1806. The De voca-
tione only says that in fact grace was given men to come to the
knowledge of God. Cf. the theme of Augustine in De civ. Dei
11.2: e De cognoscendo Deo, ad cuius notitiam nemo hominum
pervenit nisi per mediatorem Dei et hominum, hominem Christum
22 Another Augustinian idea: man cannot be good unless he be
led and helped by grace: cf. De spir. et litt. 3. 5: c Neque liberum
arbitrium quidquam nisi ad peccandum valet, si lateat veritatis via. 5
Yet, when a man comes to sin, he is not without guilt, as the follow-
ing chapter will explain.
23 Deut 32.8 (Septuagint).
24 Lev. 20. 26.
25 Esther 10. 9 f. (Sept.).
26 Acts 14. 14 f.
27 God elected his chosen people Israel among the nations and
guided them by His special Providence, a gift not bestowed on the
other peoples. This statement of Scripture does not exclude the
general Providence which at all times God has shown for all na-
tions. We have here a first expression of St. Prosper's original
contribution to the explanation of the universal salvific will, the
distinction between a special and a general Providence and grace
(cf. Intro. 15-18). A similar distinction is found in St. Augustine,
BOOK I 175
especially In his writings previous to the controversies on grace,
but without explicit reference to the salvific will. Cf. De div. quaest.
83. 44: e Aliud enim est quod divina providentia quasi privatim cum
singulis agit, aliud quod generi universe tamquam publice consulit';
see also De vera rel. 25. 46. The apparent digression of this ch. 5
fits in with our author's treatment of the natural will in man;
it explains how the aberrations of the natural will are without
28 elementorum: c the things created' (Tertullian, De ieiun. 10:
sun and moon; Adv. Hermog. 31: earth and sky; cf. TLL
5. 2. 346. 51 ff.) which, according to Rom. 1. 20, naturally lead men
to the knowledge and worship of their Creator. For a study of
the term elementum, see H. Diels, Elementum (Leipzig 1899).
29 Is the care of Providence for all men and the gifts His goodness
extends to all a natural or a supernatural help? As is well known,
the distinction between natural and supernatural is not as yet ex-
plicit at the time of St. Prosper. According to Cappuyns, e L*au-
teur 5 209, the generalis gratia of the De vocatione and of St. Pros-
per's other works is more than a merely natural help. For Pelland,
op. cit. 166 f., this general Providence does not exclude, it is true,
interior graces but leaves these out of consideration; it aims only
at the external vocation to the faith. Cf. below, Book Two n. 226.
30 Cf. St. Paul, Rom. 1. 20-25.
31 Compare St. Paul, Rom. 3. 9-20. The idea is to bring out that
even among the chosen people the just or elect remained so through
grace only. Cf. below, n. 34, and above, n. 22. There is no true vir-
tue without grace.
32 ... cut committi non est aliud quam dimitti = to entrust oneself
to the direction of this degenerate will means nothing else than to
be forsaken and to go astray. Compare Girard (8), c pour elle c'est
la meme chose de faire des chutes, que d'etre mise en son pouvoir';
also the Ballerinis 9 marginal note, c sibi committi, dimitti est.'
33 Cf . Carm. de ingr. 530.
34 About this well-known teaching of St. Augustine's that the
virtues of pagans are vices, cf. J. Wang-Teh' ang-Tche, Saint Augus-
tin et les vertus des paiens (Paris 1938). It is evidently to be
rightly understood. Taken out of its context this very proposition
has been condemned by the Church among the errors of Baius
(ES 1025), of the Jansenists (ibid. 1298) and of Quesnel (ibid.
1388). For St. Augustine, cf., e.g. De civ. Dei 19.25; Contra lul
Pelag. 4. 3. 17; In loan. Ev. tract. 45. 2; and the penetrating analysis
by J. Mausbach, Die Ethik des heiligen Augustinus (2nd ed. Frei-
burg i. Br. 1929) 2. 258-341: T)as sittliche Handeln ausserhalb des
Christentums und der Kirche. 5 Prosper proposes the same idea,
e.g. in Contra coll 13.3: 'Et ita manifestissime patet, in impiorum
animis millam habitare virtutem, sed omnia opera eorum immunda
esse atque polluta. 3 Cf. Carm. de ingr. 406-9.
35 This is the catholic teaching, that the beginning of all good,
the will for good, comes from grace and not from man's initiative
(the famous initium fidei). The Semi-Pelagian position of Cassian
held that God waits and sees till we wish to turn to good works,
and then comes and strengthens us with His grace, as the Lord did
with Zachaeus: cf. Coll 13. 11. Regarding this bona voluntas, see
St. Augustine, De grat. et lib. arb. 15. 31. On the Semi-Pelagian
meaning of initium fidei, cf. J. Chene, c Que signifiait "initium fidei"
et "affectus credulitatis" pour les Semipelagiens? 5 in Rech. $c. rel
35 (1948) 566-88.
36 Matt 15.13.
37 voluntas spiritualis, the spiritual or spiritualized will, the high-
est of the three degrees at which the human will can arrive; it is
spiritualized by its union with the Spirit of God, or supernaturalized
38 1 Cor. 6. 17.
39 The one end for which man is to act is God's glory. Only
thanks to grace he is able to strive after this. Compare the Augus-
tinian and Thomistic teaching that without grace fallen man is not
able to love God above all things. Cf. St. Augustine, Epist. 217
(Ad Vital) 12, "Liberum arbitrium ad diligendum Deum primi
peccati granditate perdidimus 5 ; St. Thomas, Sum. theol. I. II. 109. 3.
40 Cf. Augustine, De spir. et litt. 34. 60: c Ac per hoc quid habeat
et quid accipiat, Dei est: accipere autem et habere utique accipientis
et habentis est. 5 God's gift remains His, but its acceptance is the
inalienable role of man's free will. Cf. X. Leon-Dufour, 'Grace et
libre arbitre chez saint Augustin/ Rech. sc. rel. 33 (1946) 129-63,
41 The question here asked concerns the process of justification or
conversion: What happens in man when he is converted to God?
The answer depends on the conception of the Fall: What did the
deterioration of human nature through the first sin consist in?
The question is asked 'here in order to bring out the difference be-
tween the natural will (of chs. 4-6) that is not spiritualized by
divine grace, and the spiritual will (of chs. 6 f.).
BOOK I 177
42 This picture of fallen man's state is Augustinian and to be
understood in the Augustinian context: e.g. voluntate captiva (cf.
Epist. 217 [Ad Vital] 3. 8, arbitrium captiuum) the enslavement
of the will is not the loss of its freedom but of its capacity to do
good. As this chapter further explains, this whole corruption is
accidental, leaving the substance of the nature untouched, though
weakened or ill.
43 Cf. above, ch. 4 nn. 16, 17; also 34.
44 This conception of the effects of the Fall, according to which
man has not changed the 'substance 3 of his will but lost only its
integrity or soundness (which is righteousness), is derived from St.
Augustine: cf. the following note. Compare Car m. de ingr. 581-92;
Contra coll 12. 4.
45 qualitate facta est mala: man's nature which was good before
sin, has turned bad accidentally, infected by an evil quality; but
the substance of his will remains good. Cf. St. Augustine, De perf.
iust. horn. 2. 4, c qualitas secundum quam malus est animus.' This
evil quality is remedied in justification cf. Prosper, Contra coll
18. 3, 'qualitate et conditione mutata per Mediatorem.'
46 Ps. 77. 39.
47 The catholic idea holds that the initiative of a conversion
comes from God and not from man. Cassian taught the opposite,
at least for some cases; Coll 13.8, c . . . incrementum tribuens ei
quern vel ipse plantavit vel nostro conatu viderit emersisse.'
48 Compare St. Paul, 2 Cor. 5. 17 and Gal. 6. 15.
49 Cf. Contra coll 12. 4. Prosper's insistence on man's collabora-
tion with grace is to be noted, and contrasted, with St. Augustine's
exposition in De spir. et litt. 30.52.
50 1 John 3. 8.
51 Cf. Contra coll 12, c non est ab ipso quamvis non sine ipso
52 Again, the initiative for a conversion comes from grace; cf.
above, n. 47.
53 Cf. Rom. 8. 14.
54 Grace does not destroy freedom but heals and restores it.
Cf. Carm. de ingr. 593 ff. The idea comes from St. Augustine
(cf., e.g. De pecc. mer. 2. 17. 26 c ut suave fiat quod non delectabat,
gratiae Dei est'). St. Prosper explains it in his own way. Cf. Cap-
puyns, c L'auteur' 21 1 n. 2.
55 B ereptum, M interfectum.
56 The idea here is not clear. Girard translates (13) : e entre les
mains de qui rien n'est pery de ce qu'a perdu la Nature.' Man-
geant refers to Contra coll 12 ( . . . manens enim liberum arbi-
trium . . .'). This may be meant: God's favour, the source of
grace, remained unchanged when nature lost grace.
57 ... totumque quod virtus est, Deus est: 'all that is virtue is
God.' Cf. Contra coll. 13. 1 : 'Virtus namque principaliter Deus est:
cui non aliud est habere virtutem, quam esse virtutem.' Girard in-
terprets, 'tout ce qui est de loiiable en la vertu, est en Dieu.' The
Ballerini remark, 'omnis virtus a Deo operante manat.'
58 No true virtue without divine grace: cf. above, ch. 7.
59 Isa. 43.11.
60 Jer. 10.23.
61 Cf. above, n. 52.
62 Luke 12.49.
63 Cf . above, ch. 4.
6 * Cf. above, ch. 5.
65 1 Cor. 1. 21.
66 The reason why the initiative in the process of a conversion
comes from grace and not from man's free will, is mainly drawn
here, as in St. Augustine, from the healing character of grace, for
fallen nature is in dire need of a healing. The 'raising' character
of grace, though not neglected, is left in the background.
67 Cf. Matt. 11. 11 (Mark 7.28); for the following, John 1.9.
The same idea about St. John the Baptist is found in St. Augustine,
De spir. et Hit. 7. 11.
68 The Pelagian position admitted an exterior grace, the exterior
preaching of the doctrine, as a necessary help to stir the human will,
but denied that an interior grace or motion by God was needed.
This error is here aimed at. Cf. also Carm. de ingr. 335-47; St.
Augustine, De grat Christi 1. 7-14; De civ. Dei 15. 6.
69 The Law commands but does not give the strength to fulfill
the commandment: cf. St. Paul, Rom. 7. St. Augustine in his De
spir. et litt. develops this opposition between the Law and grace.
70 Cf. Matt. 5. 17, and Augustine, Enchir. 1. 8. 20.
71 Grace destroys sin through forgiveness without exacting the
punishment laid down for the offence by the Law. This is shown
in the example of Christ who did not condemn the adulterous
woman (John 8. 1-11).
72 Luke 19. 10.
73 John 8.6.
BOOK I 179
74 Cf. St. Augustine's comment on this episode in In loan. Ev. tract.
23. 4-6; also Serm. 13. 4 f.
75 Jer. 31.33.
76 sty/o Spiritus Sancti. The idea expressed is that grace works
interiorly in the human soul; the teaching of the Law was only
an exterior help.
77 Compare this description of the intimate action of grace in the
soul with St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 15.6.
78 Cf. above, ch. 2, the three levels or degrees of the human will.
Through grace man passes from the natural to the spiritual will.
79 . . . ut lex peccati et lex Dei diversas et distinctas habeant
mansiones: the law of sin which rules the natural will, cannot be
in the same way and at the same time in one man with the law
of God that rules the spiritual will.
80 Cf. Gal. 5. 17.
81 A Pauline and Augustinian idea: the usefulness of temptation
and trial for humility. This text is quoted by Pope Gelasius in his
pamphlet against the Pelagians, ML 159. 127. Compare Trent's
teaching on concupiscence c quae ad agonem relicta sit' (ES 792).
82 2 Cor. 12. 7-9.
83 His image cf. Gen. 1. 27; the lost sheep-Luke 15. 5.
84 Job 14.4.
85 Gal. 1.22-24.
86 Cf. Acts 4. 32.
87 Cf., e.g. Acts 21. 19 f.
88 Matt. 5. 16.
89 Every good conducive to heaven, that is, all true virtue,
comes from grace in its beginning, its increase, and its permanence
or perseverance. The Semi- Pelagians denied the necessity of grace
for the first and third of these stages.
90 Cf . ch. 1 and n. 4.
91 Cf. Phil. 3. 15 f.; St. Augustine, De praed. sanct. 1. 2.
92 The passage between brackets is given by B (but bracketed
also) and (also by Hurter) from Ms. Vat. Lat. 262. It is absent from
M and also from the text in ML 17. Girard's translation does not
include it either.
93 sacramenta vitaethe sacraments of baptism, confirmation,
and the Eucharist, received together by the catechumen at Easter.
Cf. L. Duchesne, Origines du culte chretien (5th ed. Paris 1925)
ch. 9: 'L'initiation chretienne.' The author states that those who
became Christians but afterwards fell away from the faith, merely
'seemed' (videbantur*) to come to these life-giving (vitae) sacra-
ments. They never were among the elect. Cf. Augustine, De corr.
et grat. 7. 16; 9. 20; 12. 36 ( e qui autem cadunt et pereunt, in
praedestinatorum numero non fuerunt'); De dono persev. 9.21.
94 1 John 2. 19.
95 Titus 1.16.
96 Rom. 10.13.
97 Matt. 7.21.
Q8 IUd. 7.221
99 Rom. 8. 15.
100 1 Cor. 12. 3.
101 Rom. 8. 14.
102 1 Peter 2. 9.
103 praesciti et praeordinati: the 'foreknown and foreordained,'
that is, the predestined. As noted in the Introduction (18), the
term 'praedestinat? is avoided. Girard translates praeordinati
by predestine, but as if the text were a Scripture quotation from
104 Jer. 31. 31-34. Compare St. Augustine, De spir. et litt. 24. 39 f.
105 Jer. 32.39-41.
106 Isa. 43.19-21.
108 The elect are infallibly saved because the election necessarily
has its effect. This idea, though not different from St. Augustine's
predestination, is not termed so. Cf. St. Augustine, De corr. et
grat. 7. 13 f.
109 Prosper refers to the interior action of grace, stressed anew in
opposition to the Pelagian idea of an exterior grace. Cf . above, n. 68.
110 1 Cor. 3. 7.
m Cf. Jer. 31.34.
112 B custodiantur, M erudiantur; Girard (22), c qui leur fait
garder ses commandements/
113 Cf. Isa. 43.19-21.
m B inundati, M mundati.
115 Gal. 3. 15.
116 Namely, the salvation of the elect.
117 Rom. 3.3f.
118 Gen. 28. 14. Those who do not come to the faith after having
it preached to them, never were among the elect, while the elect
infallibly reach salvation. Cf. above, n. 108.
BOOK I 181
119 Jer. 31. 34. A similar procedure in quoting Scripture texts is
found in St. Augustine, De spir. et Hit. 30. 52.
120 Jer. ibid.
121 Ibid. 32.39.
122 Ibid. 32.40!.
123 g credituros (added from Vat. Reg. 293) promisit, M promisit.
124 Isa. 45. 23 f.
125 The difficulty, that in spite of God's promise to save all men,
many are still outside the way to salvation, will be answered here
by a restrictive interpretation of the salvific will. All men means,
all the elect. Cf. Resp. cap. Gall. 13.
126 secundum illam incornmutabilem scientiamthe election is
mainly considered as God's infallible foreknowledge of the elect.
127 Prosper's exegesis here and in the following may appear
somewhat artificial or clumsy. It is inspired by a preconceived idea
about the salvific will which he learned from Augustine's restrictive
interpretations of Scripture. Here, in accounting for the number of
those that are actually saved, the Augustinian idea of specialis
universitas, a restricted totality, is applied. See below, n. 137.
128 2 Cor. 5. 17.
129 Col. 1. 19f.
130 Heb. 1.2.
131 Ps. 2. 8.
132 John 12.32.
133 Isa. 40. 4.
134 ZMd 66.23.
135 Joel 2.28.
136 Ps. 144. 14.
137 specialis universitas : a specified totality (cf . B's marginal note :
'plenitude* universitas elector 'um : '). The elect are taken from all
over the world and for that reason the whole world is said to be
saved. They constitute a totality, but specified or restricted. See
St. Augustine's interpretation of 1 Tim. 2. 4 in Enchir. 27. 103 (cf.
also L. A. Arand's remarks in ACW 3. 141 n. 336) : Ter omnes
homines omne genus humanum intelligamus per quascumque dif-
ferentias distributum'; or De con. et grot. 14.44: c lta dictum est
omnes homines salvos fieri, ut intelligantur omnes praedestinati;
quia omne genus hominum in iis est.' This is, moreover, a common
way of speaking. We say, C A11 nations were present,' The whole
of Europe or America thinks like that,' when there are some rep-
resentatives of all these nations or countries who came or are
of that opinion.
138 ... ut de toto mundo totus mundus liberatus et de omnibus
hominibus omnes homines videantur assumpti: the elect are
chosen from all over the world and thus the whole world is said
to have been liberated; they are taken from among all mankind and
so the whole of mankind is said to have been chosen. Cf. Girard
(25): e . . . une certaine plenitude, comme si un monde estoit
separe d'un autre monde, ou si tous les hommes estoient choisis
d'entre tous les autres hommes.'
139 The argument a pari taken from the texts concerning the
reprobate will seem weak. Replaced in their context these quota-
tions do not mean to say a totality or universality. The author is
aware of it; cf. below, n. 144.
140 John 3. 3 If.
141 Phil. 2.21.
142 Ps. 13. 2 f.
143 It is hard for us to see the importance of an argumentation
built on a figure of speech (called hyperbole).
144 The context itself of the Scripture texts indicates what is
meant by an apparently universalistic expression.
145 1 Cor. 1.23f.
146 Girard seems to misunderstand when he translates (27) :
c il a compris les fidelles et les infidelles sous le nom general des
147 .. . vocationis extraneos: a discreet way of expressing repro-
bation. Cf. Intro, n. 49, on St. Prosper's conception of the reproba-
tion 'post praevisa merita. 3
148 This chapter builds an argument on another stylistic figure,
called in rhetoric 'metonymy of the part for the whole.' A whole
is named to designate now one part of it and then another; e.g.
man is mortal that is, his body is mortal; man does not die, that
is, his soul does not die.
149 B hanc regulam, M hac regula.
150 Isa. 42. 16.
152 Ibid. 43. 5-7.
153 Ibid. 43.8.
154 reliquiae: cf. Rom. 11.5, cited below, reliquiae secundum
electionem gratiae'a remnant saved according to the election of
grace.' In spite of many going astray, grace always chose a rem-
BOOK I 183
nant of the people to itself. This remainder is reckoned as a total-
ity: see the same idea above (n. 1ST) specialis universitas. Cf. St.
Augustine, De dono persev. 18. 47. For this 'remainder' of Israel,
cf. L. Cerfaux, La theologie de FEglise suivant Saint Paul (Paris
155 Rom. 11. If.
i5B sibi reliquos fecit: lit. e made them into its remnant or re-
mainder'; see above, n. 154.
157 M inserts inquit, B omits this.
158 Rom. 11. 2-6. Cf. M. J. Lagrange, Saint Paul, Epitre aux Re-
mains (5th M Paris 1931) 270; J. Sickenberger, Die Brief e des heili-
gen Paulus an die Korinther und Romer (4th ed. Bonn 1932) 262 f.
159 ... partem sibi illuminatio gratuita reservavit: grace kept
the other section of the people of Israel as its remnant the reli-
quiae of Rom. 11 just cited (n. 154).
160 Rom. 11. 28. Cf. the same reasoning on this text in St. Augus-
tine, De praed. sanct. 16. 33.
161 Rom. 11.25.
162 The whole gist of this chapter comes to this: the expression
all at times designates a totality, at times one section of this to-
tality, at other times still another section of the same. The con-
text indicates which of the three possible meanings applies in each
case. The intention of this whole discussion is evidently to show
that even a restricted interpretation of the divine salvific will
would not go counter to the meaning of the Scriptural texts, since
other examples of a similar usage abound.
163 Introducing one more study of a figure of speech or a way
of speaking which has little direct relation with the question of
the universal salvific will, but is meant to stress the need of un-
derstanding or interpreting some statements of Scripture.
164 1 Peter 2. 9 f .
165 Acts 1415.
166 B vocabuntur, M vocabantur.
167 loquendi consuetude, usage in speaking, which is common par-
lance and not particular to Scripture.
IBS p r0 p e rnundi finem, towards the end of the world. The idea
implied is that Christ's coming has inaugurated the last world
period. As to how St. Augustine understood this, cf. Epist. 199
(Ad Hesz/ch,) 6. 17. See also J. P. Christopher, ACW 2. 136
nn. 250 f .
169 The figure of speech on which the argument in this chapter
is built is called metonymy of the effect or substitution of the
effect (here, the descendants) for the cause (the forefathers).
170 ... qui amant calumniosa certamina, sophistical or slander-
ous wranglings, meant for the Semi-Pelagians; cf. R.esp. cap. Gall. 1
and Resp. cap. Vincent. I.
171 1 Tim. 2. 4. After the long discussions on hermeneutics in
the three preceding chapters, the author comes to his point, as to
how to interpret this text in St. Paul.
172 Perhaps there is some truth in the objection. It is hard to rec-
oncileand it may be questioned whether St. Prosper here or in
his previous works succeeds in doing so a particularist concep-
tion of the real salvific will, or of the election and predestination,
with St. Paul's text. Our author claims to do so. He himself may
have sensed something of the incoherence or lack of synthesis in
his own teaching, as is pointed out by Amann, art. cit. 1832. Cf.
Intro, n. 56.
173 1 Tim. 2. 1-6.
174 ... hac ergo doctrinae apostolicae regula . . . imbuitur.
175 si obedientia concordat in studio, if obedience to the com-
mand leads to agreement in action. Cf. Girard (32), la loi ne
pourra estre douteuse, si Ton derneure d' accord de Pobeissance qui
lui est deiie.'
176 Cf. a similar interpretation in Resp. cap. Vincent. 2; Contra
coll 12; also in St. Augustine, Enchir. 27. 103; cf. De corr. et grat.
15. 47, e nos facit velle.'
177 sancti, in the sense of St. Paul (e.g. Eph. 3. 8) =Christians.
Cf. H. Delehaye, Sanctus (Brussels 1927) esp. 24-59.
178 This text (see also below, Book Two, ch. 37) is quite rem-
iniscent of the solemn prayers chanted after the singing of the Pas-
sion on Good Friday, and it is given here in the Latin: 'Supplicat
ergo ubique Ecclesia Deo, non solum pro sanctis et in Christo re-
generatis, sed etiam pro omnibus infidelibus et inimicis crucis
Christi, pro omnibus idolorum cultoribus, pro omnibus qui Chris-
tum in membris ipsius persequuntur, pro ludaeis quorum caecitati
lumen Evangelii non refulget, pro haereticis et schismaticis, qui ab
unitate fidei et caritatis alieni sunt.' The so-called orationes so-
lemnes of Good Friday appear to be a remnant of the ancient
e prayer of the faithful 3 (oratio fidelium) regularly recited in the
Mass of the Roman liturgy after the sermon or homily and before
the offertory. Cf. Duchesne, op. cit. 182 L; esp. V. L. Kennedy,
BOOK I 185
The Saints of the Canon of the Mass (Studi di antichita cristiana
14, Rome 1938) 31 f., where the present passage is noticed.
179 Contrast this with Prospers criticism of the idea of a universal
salvific will in his Epist. ad Ruf. 13.
180 This chapter meets the classical objection against the given
interpretation of 1 Tim. 2. 4; it does not solve, but only shifts, the
crux of the problem.
181 The answer to the objection is that we do not know the rea-
sons of God's mysterious decrees which rule the dispensation of
graces, and St. Paul's example in the matter is referred to. Cf. St.
Augustine in De spir. et litt. 34. 60. On the fideistic or agnostic
aspect of this renouncement of knowledge, cf. X. Leon-Dufour,
art. cit. 160. At its basis is an anthropomorphic transposition into
God of human freedom of choice, thus establishing in God a choice
between the elect and the reprobate.
182 1 Cor. 13. 9.
183 Ibid. 13.12.
184 A conflation by St. Paul, quoting from memory, of Isa. 59. 20 f .
and 27. 9.
185 Rom. 11.25-32. Cf. St. Augustine's similar reflexion on this
text in De grat. et lib. arb. 22. 44.
iss Girard translates (35) : C I1 ne donne pour toute raison de
Pexposition qu'il avoit faite, qu'un enthousiasme qui le fit eerier
comme un homme ravy en extase.'
187 Rom. 11.33-36. Cf. St. Augustine, Contra duas epist. Pelag.
4. 6. 16; or Serm. 17. 6 f.
188 St. Prosper is alive to the problems involved in the mysterious
economy of men's salvation, particularly in the historical develop-
ment or unfolding of this divine plan with regard to Israel and the
Gentiles. According to St. Paul this comprises three stages : 1 ) the
election of Israel and the abandonment of the nations; 2) the un-
belief of the chosen people who rejected the Messias and the con-
version of the nations; 3) after the conversion of the Gentiles, the
return of Israel. St. Paul says that the reason of this economy of
graces has not been made known to men. Cf. F. Prat, The Theol-
ogy of St. Paul (tr. by J. Stoddard, London 1945) 1.249-67. For
present-day controversies on this teaching of St. Paul, cf. G. Fessard,
'Theologie et histoire, a propos du temps de la conversion d'lsrael, 3
Dieu Vivant 8 (1947) 37-65.
189 Cf. Acts 14. 15.
190 Rom. 11.25.
191 The principle of a solution for these last two questions has
been given in chs. 9 and 10; all signifies a restricted or specified
192 This blind trust in the wisdom of God's revelation which
teaches us all that we need to know, so that what has not been
revealed we need not know s is found elsewhere in St. Prosper: cf.
Epist. ad Ruf. 13, 'sine fidei diminutione nescitur'; Carm. de ingr.
193 This chapter intends to justify the author's answer to the
problems raised by his interpretation of I Tim. 2. 4 (which was
that we do not know the reason of God's dispositions), by enlarg-
ing the issue, and showing that many other things remain myster-
ious to us in the divine world economy.
194 According to the Christian conception, God's Providence is
the cause of all inequalities among men and among creatures in
general. This does not, as we know, exclude as executing agents
of Providence the secondary or created causes.
195 Pagan fatalism of the Romans held that all events are unal-
terably predetermined by the blind power personified in the god-
desses of destiny. Cf. St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 5. 8; St. Prosper,
Resp. cap. Gall. 1, Tati enim opinio vana est, et de falsitate con-
196 Astrology believed in the occult influence of the stars upon
human affairs, particularly upon the destiny and character of in-
dividual men said to be dependent on the constellation under
which they are born. Cf. on ancient astrology, A. J. Festugiere,
La revelation d*Hermes Trismegiste I: L'astrologie et les sciences
occultes (Paris 1944). Cf. also St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 5. 1-7.
197 Bodies are of one nature, made out of the four elements, ac-
cording to the philosophy of the time; souls are of one nature,
spirits created by God. The differences in the individual men
come from different proportions in which both are adjusted to
each other: cf. Carm. de ingr. 728 f. Compare St. Augustine,
De div. quaest. 83. 40; Opus imp. c. lul 4. 128; De Gen. ad litt.
10. 17. 30.
198 Cf. Epist. ad Ruf. 13; Resp. excerp. Gen. 8; also Augustine,
De praed. sanct. 8. 16; De dono persev. 11. 27.
199 Exod. 4.11.
200 Isa. 66. 9. B Nonne ecce ego, M Nonne ego.
201 EccIus. 11.14.
202 Job 12.6.
BOOK I 187
203 Ibid. 12. 13-25.
205 In ch. 15 begin the proofs for the gratultousness of grace;
at the same time stress is laid on the need of discerning between
what is hidden from our knowledge and what has been revealed
to us about the salvation of mankind.
206 The first proof for the gratuitousness of grace is drawn from
the fact that so many nations in the past ages have not been called
to the true religion whilst their descendants who were not better
that their own ancestors, have been. Cf. Prosper, Epist. ad Aug. 5.
207 Isa. 9. 2.
208 1 Peter 2. 9 f.
209 minores et maiores, the descendants and the ancestors.
210 Cf. above, n. 192; Carm. de ingr. 709-11. See also Augustine,
De civ. Dei, 12. 27. 2 . . . occulto Dei iudicio, sed tamen iusto';
Opus imp. c. lul 1. 48.
211 Another proof for the gratuitousness of grace is the case of
infants who die without baptism. Cf. Epist ad Aug. 5; Epist. ad
Ruf. 7; Carm. de ingr. 616-28; and St. Augustine, De grat. et lib.
arb. 22. 44; De praed. sanct. 12. 24; De dono persev. 9. 21 f.; Epist.
194 (AdSta.) 7.32.
212 St. Augustine speaks of the mitissima damnatlo of unbaptized
infants: cf. Enchir. 23.93 (ACW 3.88 and n.301). St. Prosper
still holds on to this conception which to-day has been considerably
mitigated. Cf., e.g. A. Gaudel, 'Limbes, 9 DTC 9.1 (1926) 760-72.
213 Compare the Semi-Pelagian solution of the case of the in-
fants as reported to Augustine by Prosper in his Epist ad Aug. 5,
or by Hilary in his own Epist. ad Aug. 8, that, namely, infants die
with or without baptism according to God's foreknowledge of the
merit or demerit they would have gained if they had been allowed
to attain adult age. St. Augustine's answer is given in De praed.
sanct. 12-14, 23-29; and earlier in Contra duas epist. Pelag.
2. 7. 14; also Epist. 194 (Ad Six*.) 8.35 and 9. 41 f.
214 Side by side with the argument for the gratuitousness of grace
in these chs. 15-18 is the insistence on the necessity of discerning
between the known and the unknown elements in God's economy
of grace. The facts we see, the motives we cannot know.
215 Regarding this third proof for the gratuitousness of grace
and of the unknowability of God's mysterious designs deathbed
conversions cf. also Epist ad Ruf. 17, and Carm. de ingr. 434-8.
216 The gratuitousness of grace refers to both merit and demerit;
sinful works cannot prevent grace, and good works cannot claim it
as their reward.
217 As the Semi-Pelagians held, namely, that grace waits for
our good will (sometimes, if not always). Cf. above, n. 9.
218 This is not to be understood as if innocence and sin were
the same thing, but in such wise that natural merit has no better
claim on grace than sinfulness. The parity of the just and the
sinners expressed here refers to original sin in which all are born
and which includes all in the massa damnationis, the Augustinian
idea of the first sin according to which God's justice could rightly
condemn all men for all eternity because of this original guilt; His
mercy, however, chooses out of this condemned multitude His own
elect Cf. De civ. Dei 21. 12.
219 The divine justice, so repeatedly stressed here, implies that
God decrees nothing arbitrarily, but everything for some good
reason often unknown to us. Cf. St. Augustine, De grot. et. lib. orb.
21.43 (referring to Rom. 9. 14).
220 God's free decrees we cannot know except after the event, or
221 Cf. Resp. cap. Vincent. 2, c . . . de quo dici non potest, aliter
eum quidquam facere debuisse quam fecerit.'
222 Cf. Matt. 20. 1-16; Augustine, De dono persev. 7. 17.-M in-
serts here between brackets, c quo vitae aeternae significatur aequal-
itas,' which is found in one MS and the early editors and which
Quesnel (cf. n. in M ad Zoc.) regarded as an interpolation reflect-
ing the opinion of the heretic Jovinian, a contemporary of St.
Jerome. On the interpretation of the parable, see M. J. Lagrange,
Evangile selon saint Matthieu (8th ed. Paris 1948) 384-6.
22 *Matt 20. 13-15.
224 Perhaps not only to him I The absolute gratuitousness of grace
is an idea of which it is difficult to grasp the import and implica-
tions. Pelagius had insisted on the fact that God is not 'gratiosus
aut personarum acceptor' (cf. Plinval, op. cit. 230), implying and
saying that He gives equal chances to all men, c . . . cum universa
turba credentium paria dona gratiae percipiat' (Plinval, ibid.).
Against this, cf. St. Augustine, Epist. 186 (Ad Paulin.} 6. 16.
225 Girard mistranslates volentis potestas, le pouvoir du Franc-
226 Rom. 9. 20.
227 Here follows the conclusion of the preceding chs. 15-17 on
the gratuitousness of grace. Pelagius had held c gratiam Dei secun-
BOOK I 189
dum merita nostra darf (cf. Augustine, De grat. Christi 1. 22. 23).
Our author will show, ch. 22, that the Semi-Pelagians, when ascrib-
ing the initium fidei to man's free will and not to grace, logically
hold on to the Pelagian error.
228 John 3. 5.
229 Ibid. 6. 54.
230 Referring to the exterior grace of Pelagius, the hearing of the
Law or of the doctrine; cf. above, n. 76.
231 Cf. ch. 6 and n. 34.
232 Both B and M discard Quesnel's reading quae (=the virtues)
in place of qui.
233 Cf. above, ch. 4 and nn. 16 f.
234 Cf. Gal 3. 22.
235 Eph. 2.1-3.
236 Ibid. 2. 12.
237 Ibid. 5. 8.
238 Col. 1. 12 f.
239 Titus 3. 3-7.
240 Confirmation of the preceding doctrine on the gratuitousness
of grace: nature without grace is but corruption and error; how
could it merit grace? Cf. St. Augustine, Contra duos epist. Pelag.
2. 5. 9.
241 Jude 10.
242 Luke 1.76-79.
243 After the discussion on the gratuitousness of grace in the
preceding chapters, meant to explain partly why the grace that
saves does not reach all men, the idea of the universality of God's
calling is taken up again, to answer other difficulties against it.
In the present chapter two series of Scriptural texts confront each
other: one shows Christ's call to all men, the other asserts that
men refuse to answer His call. The synthesis of both, according to
the De vocations, is given by the salvation of the elect; this con-
stitutes the actual fulfilment of God's call.
244 John ll.Slf.
245 Matt 11.25!., 27, 28-30.
246 John 3.31-33.
M Ibid. 3. 31 1.
2 *Ilbid. 11.52.
251 Matt. 11.25.
252 Cf. Luke 10. 22.
253 Cf. Rom. 9. 24.
254 Ibid. 4.20 f.
255 1 John 5. 19 f. We could summarize this chapter in the three
logical moments: thesis, God calls all men; antithesis, men refuse
His call; synthesis, God saves His elect.
256 The election of Israel and non-election of the Gentiles is a
classical proof of the gratuitousness of grace, as also of the in-
scrutability of God's designs. The first aspect of this mystery was
treated above, ch. 13. The second is considered here.
257 In Book Two, especially in chs. 4, 19, 23, and 25, Prosper
will explain how a general grace (cf. above, n. 27) is given to all
men, no one excepted.
258 As noted already (above, n. 4), the De vocations insists on dis-
tinguishing between what we can know and what we cannot know:
cf. Book Two, ch. L
259 1^ Pelagians explained away the mystery of predestination,
and the Semi- Pelagians found in the initiative of man's will the
reason why grace is given or not given.
260 Gal. 1.1.
261 Cf. ch. 14.
262 Rom. 11.32.
ses Q n ^jjg three historical stages in the economy of man's sal-
vation, see above, ch. 13 and n. 188.
264 Obviously directed against the Semi-Pelagians and their
calumniosa certamina of ch, 12.
265 B aZros elegit, aliosque non elegit, M alios eligit, aliosque non
eligit. B remark that when speaking of the divine election the
past tense is used in Scripture and ordinary usage.
266 Matt 20.16.
267 The Semi-Pelagian position as understood by St. Prosper
cf. Epist. ad Aug. 4: c . . . bono naturae bene usus ad istam salvan-
tem gratiam initialis gratiae ope meruerit pervenire'; Contra coll. 20.
268 B diffinitio, M definitio, in the sense of opinion or statement;
cf. Contra coll. 19.
269 ... ut interim de gratiae veritate taceatur, as already argued
in chapter 1; if grace is given for merit, and not gratuitously, it is
no longer grace but something due to man. Cf. St. Augustine, De
gest. Pelag. 14.33: e lpsum quippe gratiae nomen, et eius nominis
intellectus aufertur, si non gratis datur, sed earn qui dignus est
BOOK I 191
270 The case of infants has already been considered above, ch. 16,
as a proof of the gratuitousness of grace. Here it is taken as an
argument against the Semi-Pelagian conception that merit is the
reason for discrimination between the elect and the non- elect or
reprobate. In infants there can be no question of merit. Cf. the
same reasoning in St. Augustine, De praed. sanct. 12. 23.
271 Job 12. 10.
272 Ibid. 14. 5.
273 St. Prosper corners the Semi-Pelagians by a dilemma: Either
you attribute the discrimination between infants, baptised and
saved, or unbaptised and lost, to chance which would be to fall
into pagan fatalism (cf. above, n. 195) ; or you assert that there is no
real discrimination of the infants, as the unbaptised are not lost,
which supposes that they are without original sin and this is
Pelagianism. Even the Pelagians rejected pagan fatalism (cf. St.
Augustine, Epist. 194 [Ad Sixt.] 7. 31); but their denial of original
sin was condemned by the Church (cf. the foil. n.). It is inter-
esting to remember that according to St. Prosper (Epist. ad Aug. 3)
fatalism is exactly the objection made against St. Augustine's doc-
trine of predestination. Augustine himself had repudiated this
interpretation, Contra duas epist. Pelag. 2. 5. 9; and retorted the
accusation of fatalism against the Pelagians themselves: ibid.
2. 6. 11. As noted already, the Semi-Pelagians did give an argu-
ment for the discrimination of infants, namely, their c futurible 5
merits; a sophism which was answered by St. Augustine (cf. above,
274: In the General Council of Africa, the Sixteenth of Carthage,
of the year 418: cf. Mansi 3. 811; Hefele-Leclercq 2. 1. 192 = ES
275 Luke 19. 10.
276 Some of their arguments may be found in Contra coll. 7.
277 B omnibus hominibus, M omnibus.
278 This refers to the Scripture examples which follow in the
chapter, not to what precedes.
279 In the preceding chapter St. Prosper has shown that the
Semi-Pelagian teaching about the case of infants is erroneous. Here
he will refute their theories about the justification or call to the
faith of adults. Let it be recalled that their two chief unorthodox
tenets are these: the beginning of the faith and final perseverance
are due to man's free will, not to grace. This ch. 23 refutes the
first from the Scriptures.
280 'p]^ accumulated Scripture texts not only refute the Semi-
Pelagian position just mentioned, but also prove that all good in
man is due to grace. This stresses once more the absolute gra-
tuitousness of grace one of the elements in the solution proposed
by the De vocatione of the problem it studies, namely, the salva-
tion of mankind.
281 Rom. 1. 8.
282 Eph. 1.15-18.
283 Col. 1.3-5.
284 Ibid. 1.9-11.
285 1 Thess. 1.2f.
286 Ibid. 2. 13.
287 2 Thess. 1.3-5.
288 1 Peter 1. 18-21.
289 2 Peter 1.1.
290 1 John 4. 2 f .
291 Ibid. 4. 6.
292 Acts 3. 16.
293 Ibid. 16. 13 f.
294 Matt. 16.15-17.
295 Rom. 12.3.
lUd. 15. 5 f.
297 Ibid. 15. 13.
298 Eph. 2. 4-6, 8-10.
298a Cf. 1 Cor. 3. 9.
299 The preceding chapter has proved that the beginning of all
good, initium fidei, is due to grace. It remains to be shown that
faith is the source of all good and virtuous work. By faith is meant
here the 'fides quae per caritatem operator': cf. Gal. 5. 6.
300 B conferantur, M consequantur.
301 Ps. 36. 23 f.
302 Ibid. 42. 3.
303 Ibid. 58. 10 f.
30 *Prov. 2.6 (Sept.).
sos lbid. 8. 14-16 (Sept.).
306 Ibid. 20.24 (Sept.); B a Domino diriguntur, M corriguntur.
sm Ibid. 21. 2 (Sept.).
308 Ibid. 8.35 (Sept.).
309 Ibid. 19.21 (Sept.).
310 Eccles. 5. 17 f.
311 Ibid. 8. 17-9. 1. B universum hoc dedit, M dedi.
BOOK I 193
312 Wisd. 7. 15 f.
313 Ibid. 8.21.
314 1 Cor. 7. 7.
315 Matt. 19. 10 f.
316 Ecclus. 1. 221
317 Ibid. 25. 14 f.
818 Isa. 33.6 (Sept.).
819 Ibid. 40.12-14 (Sept).
320 Job 4 1.2.
321 Jer. 10.23.
322 Ibid. 24. 6 f.
323 Bar. 2.31.
324 1 Cor. 12. 3- 1 1. B gratia sanitatum in eodem Spiritu, M in uno
325 Eph. 4. 4-8.
326 2 Cor. 3. 4-6.
328 Eph. 3. 14-21.
329 James 1. 16 f.
330 Zach. 9. 16 f. (Sept).
331 Matt 13. 10 f.
332 John 3. 27.
333 Ibid. 6. 44 f.
334 Ibid. 6. 66.
335 Phil. 1. 6.
336 Cf. Girard (69), 'celui d'entre vous qui aura bien commence',
33T Cf. B's marginal note, Telagiana interpretatio loci Paulini.'
Prosper rather refers to the Semi-Pelagian position which claimed
for man's free will both the beginning of faith and the completion
of perseverance; see Contra coll. 19 (quarta defi.nitio'); in general,
also Augustine, De praed. sanct. and De dono persev.CL Pelagius'
commentary: A. Souter, Pelagius' Exposition of Thirteen Epistles
of St. Paul 2 (Cambridge 1926) 389.
338 Phil. 1.28f.
339 Ibid. 2. 12 f. B sui operatur velle et operari, M . . . et perftcere.
340 1 Thess. 3. 11-13.
341 1 Cor. 1. 4-8. The phrase, 'proficientem perseverantiam,' is
Augustinian: Epist. 217 (Ad Vital.) 5; De dono persev. 20. 53.
342 Rom. 8. 35-37.
843 1 Cor. 15. 56 f.
344 1 Thess. 5. 23 f.
345 2 Thess. 2. 15-3. 3.
346 1 Peter 5. 10 f.
34T 1 John 4. 4.
^ Ibid. 5. 4.
349 Luke 22. 31 f., 46. B et rogate, M et roga. The old and new
versions of the text are here combined, as also in Epist. ad Ruf. 10
and Contra coll. 15. 3.
350 John 10.26-28.
351 Ibid. 6. 37-39.
352 The concluding chapter of Book One repeats once more the
principle that we cannot know the reasons of God's ruling in His
dispensation of graces; which shows how the Semi-Pelagian at-
tempt to solve the problem by calling in free will fails to give an
353 1 Cor. 4. 7. Cf, Contra coll 13. 6.
354 Cf. Rom. 11.33-36.
355 As the Semi-Pelagians tried to explain, according to St. Pros-
per's Epist. ad Aug. 4, e . . . ut et qui voluerint fiant filii Dei, et inex-
cusabiles sint qui fideles esse noluerint' Cf. Carm. de ingr. 757 f.
356 Cf. above, ch. 6: There is no real or true virtue without
grace and without the true faith.
357 Luke 19. 10.
358 ilia pars fidei: according to St. Prosper the universal salvific
will is a doctrine of faith, and not a mere human theory.
359 When we recall Cassian's insistence on the universal salvific
will and the conclusion he drew from this doctrine, namely, that
the initiative in the process of salvation belongs to free will, we
shall not be surprised that Prosper in the De vocatione has de-
voted the entire first book to the study of the gratuitousness of
grace. He must synthetise this doctrine with the universality of
God's salvific will. This latter will chiefly be studied in Book Two.
Cf. the Introduction 12 and n. 55. For Cassian, see Coll. 13 De pro-
tectione divina 7: Tropositum namque Dei, quo non ob hoc hom-
inem fecerat ut periret, sed ut in perpetuum viveret, manet immo-
bile. Cuius benignitas cum bonae voluntatis in nobis quantulam-
cumque scintillam emicuisse perspexerit, vel quam ipse tamquam de
dura silice cordis excuderit, confovet earn et exsuscitat, suaque in-
spiratione confortat, volens omnes homines salvos fieri et ad agni-
tionem veritatis venire. . . . Qui enim ut pereat unus ex pusillis non
habet voluntatem, quomodo sine ingenti sacrilegio putandus est,
BOOK I 195
non universaliter omnes, sed quosdam salvos fieri velle pro omni-
bus? 5 From this he concludes: e Praesto est ergo cotidie Christi gra-
tia, quae, dum vult omnes homines salvos fieri et ad agnitionem
veritatis venire, cunctos absque ulla exceptione convocat. 3 Grace is
ready for all, but often, according to Cassian, waits for man's good
will. Cf. Prosper, Epist. ad Aug. 4.
1 Book Two proposes to answer the following question: If many
men are not saved, as is admitted and explained in Book One, how
then can it be said that the divine salvific will is really universal?
Cf. the Intro. 13 f.
2 Cf . Book One, ch. 25 and n. 358 : pars fidei, a doctrine of faith.
3 B agnitionem, M cognitionem.
4 Cf . Book One, ch. 23.
5 Cf. Book One, chs. 14 and 21.
6 Girard seems to translate a different reading (76), c si la
premiere ou la seconde Verite nous est inconniie.'
7 Cf. Rom. 9.14.
8 Ps. 24.10.
9 That is, iustitia et misericordia, justice and mercy cf. Book
One, ch. 15; Resp. cap. Vincent. 2: *Ut enim reus damnetur, in-
culpabilis Dei iustitia est; ut autem reus iustificetur, ineffabilis Dei
gratia est.' Cf. also Augustine, De dono persev. 8. 17 f. Girard
here apparently again translates a different text (76), e et couronne
ses dons quand il recompense les Justes.'
10 Ps. 62. 12.
11 Ibid. 50. 6.
12 Ch. 2 states the doctrine of faith which is to be explained in
the following chapters.
13 This is not to be understood as excluding all fides quaerens
intellectum; the whole purpose of the De vocatione aims at under-
standing the faith, and Book Two will propose an explanation of
the problem connected with a mystery of the faith.
14 Matt. 28. 18-20.
15 Mark 16. 15.
16 Matt. 28. 30.
17 Cf. ibid. 10.16.
18 Cf. ibid. 3. 9.
19 Ibid. 10.17-22.
20 Titus 2.11.
21 plenitudinis censum fideliumcL what was said about this
spedalis universitas in Book One, ch. 9 nn. 137 and 138.
22 1 John 2. 1 f .
23 Ch. 3 begins the explanation of our problem by removing one
difficulty: the divine call is delayed for some peoples.
24 Mark. 16.15.
25 Matt 10. 5 f.
26 1 Tim. 2. 4.
27 God sees to it that all things happen according to His decrees
and not differently. Girard reads (80), *. . . donne un autre cours
a sa Providence. 3
28 Acts 16.6.
29 Cf. ibid. 16.7. The Scripture reminiscences here mix two
versions: vetiti sunt is from the Vulgate, and prohibiti sunt from
the older version; so, too, in Contra coll. 12.
30 The mystery of man's salvation of which we know God's de-
sign (He wills all men to be saved) is brought out more wonder-
fully by the fact that the call of some men and some nations is de-
layed. The contrast of this element of obscurity in God's plan
gives relief to the bright light of the salvific will. This is one of
St. Prosper's own views and opinions (cf . Book One, ch. 1 ) . Girard
translates (80): e afm que par 1'interposition de quelques voiles,
les Verites les plus occultes paraissent a nos yeux avec plus d'eclat.'
31 Cf. Mai. 4. 2.
32 Cf. Wisd. 5. 6.
33 Cf. Book One, ch. 12, the interpretation of 1 Tim. 2. 4, and
ch. 13, the difficulty arising from that interpretation: Why does
not God hear the prayers offered Him for all men?
34 The solution of our problem is being prepared by pointing to
a classical example of differences in the divine call to salvation:
Israel was called with a special grace, all other men with a general
one only. Cf. Book One, ch. 5 and nn. 28 and 29; also Contra coll.
7 and Resp. cap. Gall 8. See St. Paul, Rom. 1 and 2.
35 Cf. Ps. 76.19.
36 Cf. Acts 14.15.
87 7ted. 32.5.
38 Ps. 118.155.
BOOK II 197
39 Ibid. 32. 5.
40 ... per quae dona ac sacramenta.
41 Acts 14. 14-16. B benefaciens eis y M benefaciens.
42 B de bonitate ac potestate, M de bonitate.
43 B innumerabilium beneficiorum, M inenarrabilium.
44 Cf. 2 Cor. 2.16.
45 Cf. ibid. 3. 6. Would not this reference to the Scriptural text
insinuate that in the conception of the De vocatione God's call to
all nations through the medium of things created is not only an
exterior teaching but also implies an interior action of His Spirit?
Cf. the Ballerini's note, 'quatenus sine spiritu gratiae sola exteriora
auxilia nequeunt plane erudire nee ad verum Dei cultum et amo-
rem perducere.' This general grace would then truly involve a
supernatural element. Cf. below, n. 226, on the gratia generalis.
St. Augustine, De spir. et Hit. 14. 23, says, 'Decalogus occidit, nisi
adsit gratia. 9 Prosper confirms this in the following chapter: the
Gentiles who did profit of the testimony of things created did so
thanks to an interior grace of faith. Compare the negative counter-
proof of ch. 4, Book One.
4(1 Among the Jews also it was an interior grace, not the Law
that justified the elect: see St. Paul, Rom. 2. 29 and 3. 30; and
ch. 4 S the example of Abraham's faith.
47 The De vocatione takes for granted that some Gentiles have
been able to please God and were enabled to do this by grace.
They, therefore, received grace. This is consistent with the teach-
ing of ch. 6, Book One: as long as the virtues of the infidels are
not helped by grace, they are not true virtues. Here the possi-
bility is admitted that infidels in the past have received grace. The
admission is pregnant with far-reaching consequences for the sal-
vation of the infidels. Cf. St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 18. 47,
e . . . etiam per alias gentes esse potuisse qui secundum Deurn vix-
erunt eique placuerunt. 3
48 parcior grace was given more sparingly to the Gentiles than
to the Jews if only because of the lesser abundance of exterior
means of grace. The pagans disposed of one source of knowledge
of God only, the created things, not two (or more, cf. below, ch. 9)
as did the Israelites who had besides the first, the Law and the
49 Grace is c one in power, 3 equally able to gain the Gentiles and
the Jews; Varying in measure,' cf. the previous note and the fol-
lowing chapter; 'immutable in its design, 3 infallibly leading to
God's purpose in granting it salvation (as in fact 'efficacious 5 grace
does); 'multiform in its effects/ that is, there are different virtues
in different degrees according to the different men to whom it is
50 God's interior grace accompanies the preaching of the min-
isters: cf. Book One, ch. 8. Cf. below, n. 226, on the import of
this conception for the supernatural character of the gratia gene-
51 1 Cor. 3. 4-9.
52 Ibid. 12.18.
53 1 Cor. 12.3-11.
55 Ibid. 3.8.
56 Id unde, c the dignity'; Girard (87), 'le secours.'
57 Matt 25.141.
58 The passage, Non itaque omnis reparabilis reparatus . . , 5 Is
cited by Hincmar of Rheims (cf. n. 37 to the Intro.). The interpre-
tation given here to the parable aims at bringing out that grace
is given not for merit, but gratis. Capacity or ability for work or
virtue, which is all that man has before he receives grace, does not
mean work or virtue; and only from virtuous actions can merit
spring. Merit, therefore, follows on grace and can never precede
it. In the context where Hincmar quotes the text, he explains the
three stages of man's nature in this regard: before sin man was
sanus, after sin he is sanabilis, through grace he can again become
sanus. Cf. St. Augustine, De praed. sanct. 6. 10: 'Posse habere
fidem, sicut posse habere caritatem, naturae est hominum; habere
autem fidem, quemadmodum habere caritatem, gratiae est fidel-
ium* (see also Prosper, Lib. sent, ex Aug. delib. 318).
59 praevidebat, 'foresaw,' or perhaps better, 'knew for himself,"
'saw before him.'
60 Cf. Matt. 25. 21 and 23.
61 Cf. ibid. 25.26S. Quesnel, op. cit. (ML 55.354A), finds a
parallel to this passage in St. Leo, Serm, 10; cf. Cappuyns, 'L'au-
teur* 221 f.
62 B antequam (read ante quam), M ante quern.
63 Cf. Matt. 25. 31 ff.
64 Compare Pelagius, Epist. ad Demetr. 16 (ML 30. 29 f.), 'Nee
minuisse solum, sed non auxisse culpabile est.*
65 B ideo 3 M a Deo. Quaerantur, 'pursue 5 rather than 'ask,' as
Girard translates (90), 'demander. 5
BOOK II 199
66 Cf. John 12. 24.
67 Cf. 1 Cor. 3. 7.
68 Habet quod ab ipso expectetur, ad id quod accepit augendum.
Cf. Girard (90), e doit faire profiler ce qu'elle a receu, et produire
le fruit qu'on attend d'elle.'
69 Cf. above, ch. 6. The question treated in the digression is the
gratuitousness of the beginning of grace in man, against the Semi-
Pelagians. Grace is given to man without any merit on his part,
but it is up to him to increase it. The excursus was occasioned by
the idea of the inequality of the graces which are given to dif-
ferent men; the differences are not due to different merits antece-
dent to grace, since all merit comes from grace.
70 Cf. Rom. 11.33.
71 Cf. Isa. 65. 1. These three periods in the history of the dis-
pensation of graces are found in Resp. cap. Gall. 8.
72 Cf . Rom. 9. 8.
73 For these three historical stages in the economy of the sal-
vation of men, see Book One, n. 188.
74 Cf. Rom. 11. 33. See Book One, ch. 13.
75 Cf. Augustine., De corr. et grat. 16; De praed. sanct. 16; In
loan. Ev. tract. 53. 6.
76 This practical attitude of mind, concluded from the much
repeated principle that there are many things in the mystery of
God's dispensations of grace which surpass our understanding, to-
gether with the following practical rule, that yet we must try to
know what is accessible to our knowledge, characterises St. Pros-
per's mental outlook well, as it reveals itself in the De vocatione:
a synthesis of a partly 'agnostic' attitude and of a practical belief
in the possibility of understanding the faith. He had learned this
from St. Augustine: cf. De dona persev. 14. 37, TSFumquid ideo
negandum est quod apertum est, quia comprehend! non potest quod
occultum est?' Cf. B's marginal note, c non negligenda cognita
77 Matt. 5.45, with interchange of the clauses, as also in Resp.
cap. Vincent. 13. In the following the term 'vitales auras' harks
back to Lucretius: De rer. nat. 3. 405; 5. 857; cf. also Vergil, Aen.
78 Rom. 8. 14.
79 Cf. the story of Gen. 6. 1-4. Prosper interprets the filiae ho-
minum (Gen. 6. 2) as meaning the reprobate.
w Gen. 6. 3.
81 Cf. Book One, chs. 2 and 6 on the spiritual will, and ibid.
n. 37. Besides God's exterior gifts bestowed on all men, the just,
or saints from the beginning of human history received interior
graces the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
82 Ecclus. 31.10.
83 Prov. 8.35 (Sept).
84 This idea of the gradual dispensation of God's graces is one
aspect or manifestation of the inequality of God's gifts to men, and
prepares the further important distinction between the gratia
genera/is and the gratia specialis.
85 Cf. Heb. 7. 10.
86 Cf. Gen. 14.19.
87 Cf. Rom. 4.18.
88 CLMal, 1.2 and Rom. 9. 13.
89 Jer. 1.5.
90 Cf. Luke 1.44.
91 Cf. Matt. 11.11.
92 Mark 9. 23.
93 Luke 17.5.
94 For these Augustinian ideas and views on the triadfaith,
understanding, charity cf. M. Schmaus, Die psychologische Trin-
itdtslehre des hi. Augustinus (Miinster i. W. 1927) 299 f. For
Augustine's celebrated 'Intelligam,' inquis, 'ut credam': 'Crede, 3
inquam, 'ut intelligas* see Serm. 43. 6. 7, and E. Gilson, Intro-
duction a I'etude de saint Augustin (2nd ed. Paris 1943) 31-47.
95 Cf. 1 John 4. 8. Cf. the same idea and the same Scripture
reference in St. Augustine, Epist. 188 (Ad lulian.) 1. 3; Serm. 21. 2;
156. 5. 5; Gilson, ibid. 183 f.
96 Cf. Jer. 51.7; Apoc. 14.8 and 16.19.
97 Cf. 1 Cor. 13. 2 f.
98 We have here one element for the explanation of the fact
that not all are saved: they who turn away from God (and they
only) are forsaken by Him. Cf. Resp. cap. Vincent. 7, 'Deus qui
priusquam deseratur, neminem deserit' The idea comes from St.
Augustine, De nat. et grat. 26. 29, e non deserit si non deseratur. 3
99 Cf. below, ch. 28 and n. 270.
100 ]\j true virtue without grace cf. Book One, ch. 6.
101 Cf. Book One, ch. 2, c Huius voluntatis, quantum ad naturalem
pertinet motum ex vitio primae praevaricationis infirmum . . . .'
102 The first people of God was Israel, the second will be the
Christians; cf. 1 Peter 2. 9, often cited in the De vocatione.
BOOK II 201
103 praedamnati, the reprobate. But as noted already (Intro,
n. 49) and as appears from what follows, St. Prosper teaches repro-
bation post praevisa merita. The expression praedamnati is to be
understood from the context.
104 Gen. 4.6f. (Sept.).
105 The commentary given here explains the otherwise obscure
meaning of the quoted text. Cain's sin consisted in not dividing
rightly between God and himself, when he reserved the better
fruits of his fields for himself instead of offering these to God. His
sin could have c corne back on him 3 through repentance and sor-
row for it, and thus it was possible for him to 'take command over
it.' Compare St. Augustine's reflexions on Cain's sin, in De civ.
106 B quantum ad medendi modum, M quantum ad ilium medendi
107 For the reconciliation of God's foreknowledge and man's free
will, cf. St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 5. 10.2.
108 .. . multiplicatae fecunditatis tarn numerosa propagatio: cf.
Gen. 4. 17-24, the generations of Cain. Quesnel, op. cit. (ML
54. 165B), found in the present passage a parallel to St. Leo's
109 Cf. Gen. 7. This symbolical interpretation of the story of the
Flood is not uncommon with the Fathers: cf., e.g. Augustine, De
civ. Dei 15. 26 f. See J. Danielou, 'Deluge. Bapteme, Jugement,'
Dieu Vivant 8 (1947) 98, 112.
110 omnium gentium plenitudo> the fulness of the nations which
constitutes the specialis universitas of the elect cf. Book One, ch. 9.
Another idea implied is that of the fixed number of the elect, as
conceived by St. Augustine in his doctrine on predestination; see
below, ch. 29 and n. 285. Cf. Amann, art. cit. 1802.
111 Cf. Gen. 9. 4; Lev. 17. 14; Acts 15. 20, 29.
112 Cf. Gen. 9. 13 f.
112a . . . mysteria atque sacramenta.
113 Cf. Gen. 11. 1-11.
114 These seventy- two tongues originated at Babel according to
a tradition followed, for example, by St. Augustine, De civ. Dei
16.4 (cf. 16.11).
115 Phil. 2.11.
116 Cf. Gen. 22. 17 and Rom. 9. 8.
117 John 8. 56.
118 Cf. Rom. 4. 10.
119 John 1.14.
120 Gen. 22.18, 26.4, 28.14 (Acts 3.25).
121 Cf. above, ch. 5 and nn. 46 and 47. The present text is more
restrictive than the former.
122 Eph. 2.12.
123 superna doctrina, 'teaching from heaven' or c God's revela-
tion, 5 a grace of light that is sufficient to enlighten all testi-
moraum but leads to salvation only some. Cf. below, n. 226,
the gratia generalis. A hint is given here as to the interior and
supernatural character of this grace of light which is called par-
cioris et occultioris gratiae: the external grace is not hidden, but
only an interior one.
124 Rom. 5.20.
125 plerique, 'many.' Nothing more seems to be meant here than
a poke at the Pelagian optimism believing that man, because of his
free will, can be naturally good and without sin.
126 Cf. St. Paul, Rom. 3. 9, 23, and 5. 20.
127 Ironically, of course : they were not ready for the Gospel at
all, as far as psychological preparedness was concerned.
128 John 1. 29. B tollentem peccata, M tollentem peccatum.
129 Ps. 2. If.
130 Acts 4. 24-28.
131 This idea that the wicked in carrying out their evil designs
are instrumental in bringing into effect the plans of God's Provi-
dence, is not original to St. Prosper: cf. St. Augustine, De grat.
et lib. ark. 20. 41 and 21. 42; De praed. sanct. 16. 33.
132 1 John 5. 20.
133 Col. 1. 12 f.
134 Titus 3. 3-7.
135 Cf. Matt 9. 12 f.
136 Isa. 9.2f.
137 Rom. 5.1-5.
138 Ps. 43.22.
139 Rom. 8. 35-39.
140 The Semi-Pelagians wrongly concluded from St. Augustine's
teaching on predestination that Christ did not die for all men, but
only for the predestined. Cf. Prosper's answer in Resp. cap. Vin-
cent. 1 and Resp. cap. Gall. 9.
141 Rom. 5.6-10.
142 2 Cor. 5. 14 f.
143 1 Tim. 1. 15f.
BOOK II 203
144 Acts 2.9-11.
145 The providential preparation of the Roman Empire for the
expansion of Christianity is the well-known idea of St. Leo,
Serm. 82. 2: Ut autem huius inenarrabilis gratiae per totum mun-
dum diffunderetur effectus, Romanum regnum divina providentla
praeparavit.' The parallelism was naturally pointed out by Ques-
nel (ML 55. 353. 3). The Idea Itself was developed much earlier
cf. Origen, Contra Cels. 2.30.
146 Quae tamen per apostoliti sacerdotii prindpatum amplior
facta est arce religionis, quam solio potestatis. Gf. Carm. de ingr.
40-42; Leo, Serm. 82. 1.
147 Glrard (112) translates here a variant reading quoted by
Mangeant, 'quemadmodum quasdam gentes quod ante non nover-
unt, in consortium nliorum Dei novimus adoptatas': e nous sgavons
qu'il se trouve quantite de peuples qui ont 1'honneur d'estre desia
receus au nombre des enfants de Dieu.'
148 The stage is here set for the discussion of the problem of the
salvation of infidels. Prosper admits that there may be in his own
days, as there were in the past, peoples who have not heard the
Gospel yet. What about them and God's salvific will?
149 A first element of his answer: the time of their call to the
Gospel is appointed by God's Providence. They will be called,
though we do not know when.
150 B desuper, M de super.
151 A second element of the answer: the Gentiles always re-
ceived the general help which God's Providence never refused to
anyone. Cf. above, chs. 4 and 15.
152 spontanea contemplatio, 'natural speculation 5 cf. Book One,
ch. 4. As has been said there already, this natural speculation can-
not lead to the effective knowledge of God without superna lux, the
divine light, called there illuminans Dei gratia (cf. n. 21 to Book
One). If so, we have here another indication that the general
help given to all is, for St. Prosper, a real grace or supernatural help.
153 Col. 1.26L
154 B hoc mysterium, M mysterium.
155 Deut 32.19-21 (Sept.).
156 Ps. 85. 9.
157 Ibid. 71.11.
158 Ibid. 71.17.
159 Isa. 2.2 (Sept).
* 60 Ibid. 25. 6 f. (Sept.).
161 Ibid. 52. 10 (Sept).
1Q2 Ibid. 54. 15 (Sept.).
lQB Ibid. 55.5 (Sept.). On the universalism of messianism in
Isaias, which is the Old Testament expression of the universal sal-
vific will, cf. A. Condamin, Le Lime d'Isaie (Paris 1905) 361. Com-
pare St. Augustine, De civ. Dei, 18. 29.
164 0see 1. 10 f. (Sept.).
165 Ibid. 2. 23 f.
166 Cf. Matt. 3. 11.
167 Acts 11.15-18.
168 Amos 9. llf. (Sept).
169 Acts 15.13-18.
170 Luke 2. 26.
172 B begins chapter 19 here: His et aliiis testimoniis; M cuts
the sentence after absconditum fuisse consilio, and begins the
present chapter with Et cur hac manifestatione.
173 This chapter contains the explicit statement of the original
contribution of the De voaatione to the problem of the universal
sal vific will: its theory of the general grace or divine help given
to all men, and of a special help or grace given to the elect.
174 in novissimo mundi tempore, in this last world period begun
with the coming of Christ: cf. 1 Cor. 10. 11; above. Book One
175 Does this mean hidden absconditam in the sense of with-
held, not given; or rather, when given, then done so in a hidden
way? From what was said in previous chapters and what follows in
the next, the idea seems rather to be that the abundance of grace
was withheld in former ages, when grace was given sparingly to
the non- chosen peoples.
176 1 Tim. 2. 4.
177 Cf. Book One, ch. 25 and n. 358 9 pars fidei.
178 These general gifts of grace given to all men (cf. above,
ch. 15), as pointed out already (cf. nn. 123, 152) imply interior and
supernatural graces. They are not restricted to the exterior grace
only, to the teaching gathered from the testimony of the created
world. The special gifts added to these will be explained further.
179 Obviously the gratia here mentioned refers to the abundant
grace of which the beginning of this chapter makes mention; cf.
also above, n. 175. All men did receive the general gifts of grace
which are sufficient to be for all a lesson, omnibus in testimonium
BOOK II 205
(cf. above, ch. 15 and n. 123); and on that account they plead
guilty of malice, de sua nequitia arguantur. With the special gifts
added to these, God's grace provides, according to the same chapter
15, a saving remedy for some, quibusdam in remedium, namely, for
the elect who are actually saved.
iso 'p^g case o f -faQ infants, of whom some happen to receive
baptism and others not, has been dealt with in Book One, ch. 16,
as a proof of the inscrutability of God's decrees; and in ch. 22 as
an argument for the gratuitousness of the first grace. Here it is pre-
sented as an objection against the universal salvific will of which
the preceding chapter proposed an explanation. The objection is
this: The children who die without baptism do not seem to have
received the general help of grace which was said to be given to
181 1 Tim. 2. 4.
182 ^y e should recall here that for our author, as for St. Augustine,
unbaptised children are condemned to hell, though theirs is mi-
tissima damnatio. Cf. above, Book One n. 212.
183 cum peccati carnecL Rom. 8. 3.
184 This sentence is absent from Vat. Reg. 293 and Vat. Lat. 262;
: n Vat. Lat. 268 it is only a marginal note (Ballerini).
185 Cf. Book One, nn. 273 and 274.
186 B sed quotes, M et quales.
187 The reason for this discrimination is unknowable for us, as
explained in Book One, ch. 16. Cf. Augustine, Epist. 194 (Ad
Sixt.) 7. 33, e . . . cur in eadem causa super alium veniat miseri-
cordia, super alium maneat ira eius. 5
IBS f j i ] ie g u i}t o f original sin is sufficient, in our author's concep-
tion to justly condemn to hell all who die with it. Cf. above, n. 182;
Augustine, Epist. 184A (Ad Petr. et Abrah.) 2: c potest eorum
merito dici in ilia damnatione minima poena, non tamen nulla.'
189 Regarding the hidden justice of God, cf. Book One, ch. 17
190 The necessity of not investigating what God wants to be
unknown by us, has been repeatedly stressed, e.g. Book One, ch. 13
n. 192; Book Two, ch. 1.
191 St. Prosper has inherited this deep awareness of the grave
guilt implied in original sin from St. Augustine; cf. De civ. Dei
192 B Nemo etiam, M nemo autem.
193 The Church officially sanctioned the doctrine that mortality,
or the necessity to die, has originated in mankind with original sin,
when she condemned Pelagius in the Sixteenth Council of Carthage.
Cf. Mansi 3. 81 1A Hefele-Leclercq 2. 1. 190 = ES 101.
194 Cf. Girard (120), e il n'est jamais tellement en possession de
la vie, qu'il ne soit toujours en peril de mort.'
195 Compare with the expose of man's subjection to death St.
Augustine, De civ. Dei 13. 10, 'nihil aliud tempus huius vitae quam
cursus ad mortem.'
196 Ecclus. 40.1.
197 The belief in the perfect justice of God's ruling in the
problem of physical evil draws from the Augustinian conception
of the grave malice of original sin; cf. above, n. 191.
198 B nihil ei, M nihil els.
199 Justice tempered with mercy: the idea is St. Augustine's
cf., e.g. Enarr. in Ps. 32. 1. 10-12.
200 An Augustinian idea flowing from his conception of the state
of fallen mankind as a massa damnationis: cf. De civ. Dei 21. 12.
201 B decessu, M discessu.
202 Job 12. 9 f.
203 Ibid. 14. 5.
204 B usque ad senectutem, M usque in senectutem.
205 The problem of physical evil in connection with the infants
is made very acute by the assumption that unbaptised infants are
condemned to hell in the next world, as St. Augustine held (cf.,
e.g. Enchir. 23.93: ACW 3.88) and St. Prosper after him.
206 Here is the answer to the objection formulated in ch. 20 cf.
above, n. 180. Children did receive a general grace.
207 Cf. 1 Tim. 2. 4.
208 ... illam gratiae partem, that is, a 'general' grace, referred
to above, ch. 19, as dona generalia.
209 It is not very clear what our author means. The general grace
given to the parents consists mainly in the knowledge of God drawn
from things created, with the help of an interior grace of light (cf.
above, Book One, ch. 4, and Book Two, ch. 4 and n. 44). This
can indeed be a help for the parents who are adults, but what help
does it mean for their children? Or have we to suppose that if the
parents had made good use of the general grace they received,
God would also have given them the special graces needed for sal-
vation, both for themselves (the grace of the faith) and for their
children (the grace of baptism)? This seems to be the implication
of the whole argument. Cf. below, n. 215.
BOOK II 207
210 ... sub arbltrio iacent voluntatis alienae, nee ullo modo eis
nisi per olios consuli potest.
211 ... ad eorum pertinere consortium, they are one with their
212 Sicut enim ex aliena professione credunt: this does not mean
that the parents' profession of the faith by itself provides the faith
to the children (how could it?) ; but that if the parents have the
faith (and had, therefore, received the special graces necessary to
come to the true faith), they will be instrumental in providing for
their children the special grace needed for them to receive the faith,
213 Quam ipsorum factum est nasci, tarn ipsorum efficitur non
renasci: when the children are born, their existence or their having
come to exist is their own concern, in the sense that they are the
interested subjects of this fact and it is they who will derive the
advantages implied in birth. A pari, the privation of baptism non
renasci is also their loss or disadvantage; they have to suffer the
consequences of it. But cf. Girard (124), e la regeneration leur
est aussi etrangere que la naissance leur est propre.'
214 This application of the teaching of ch. 19 on the general and
special grace, to the case of infant children, throws more light on
that doctrine itself than on the problem of the children's salvation.
The theory has as its background the Augustinian doctrine of elec-
tion-predestination. The general grace given to all is an effect of
the universal salvinc will, but it is by itself insufficient for actual
salvation. Only with the addition of special grace can it lead to
salvation and these special graces are given to the elect only.
215 How does the election reveal itself in the case of children
who die before the age of reason, some being baptised and others
not? In general the divine election is expressed in the special
graces given in addition to the general ones. The election, there-
fore, is revealed in the way the special graces reach the children.
This is said to happen in two possible manners which are alto-
gether different in their outcome. Either the children receive the
special grace in their parents, when these have the faith; but this
special grace of the parents will not in fact profit the children who
die before baptism; yet the special grace, result of the election, is
not withheld from them in so far as their parents have received
the special grace of the faith (which is for the children normally
the first step to the grace of baptism). Or they receive the special
grace without their parents having received the same, when they
are unbelievers, and when outsiders see to the baptism of the chil-
dren, thanks to a special providential disposition resulting from their
election (cf. the n. following) .The first alternative may seem, and
is, a purely nominal solution. These unbaptised children did not in
fact receive themselves the special grace which is the effect of the
election. The election therefore, though not withheld from them
in so far as it has reached their parents, yet does not in fact mean
anything to them personally; unless we say that it reveals itself as
216 This care of strangers is the providential way of the election,
procuring to these infants the special grace needed for actual sal-
vation, the grace of baptism. Their own people could not do so,
because they themselves were impii, unbelievers, and had received
the general grace only. Thus the election reveals itself in this
mysterious discrimination between children. Some children of be-
lieving parents fail to receive baptism; they are not among the
elect. Others, children of non- Christians, happen to be baptised
thanks to the care of strangers; they are objects of the divine elec-
tion. Cf. Carm. de ingr. 632-6. St. Augustine frequently pointed to
these same facts (some children of baptised parents die without
baptism; others of unbelieving parents die after baptism) to bring
out his views on predestination: note Epist. 194. (Ad Sixt.) 7. 32;
De grat. et lib. arb. 23. 45; De corr. et grat. 8. 18.
217 The chapter answers the unformulated objection: But why
does not God provide the special grace of actual baptism for all
children? Is not that unjust?
218 The answer is: God would give the special grace of baptism
to all children if this were necessary because of His justice or
mercy. But as will be proved instantly, it is not necessary.
219 B quantum in cordibus, M quantum cordibus.
220 A first proof that it is not necessary for God always to pro-
vide baptism for all children, but rather better not to provide it:
if He did, the certainty of baptism would cause the faithful to be
negligent about having their children receive it.
221 According to this second argument, the Pelagians could say
that children are not excluded from heaven, not because Provi-
dence always sees to their baptism, but because they are without sin
and thus have a claim to happiness.
222 Habet gratia quod adopfet, non habet unda quod diluats.
Pelagian formula found in the anonymous work Hypomnesticon
(or Hypognosticon) contra Pelagianos et Caelestianos 5. 8. 13 (ML
BOOK II 209
45. 1656). On this ps.-Augustinian work, variously ascribed to
Marius Mercatur and Pope Sixtus III, cf. Bardenhewer, op. cit.
4. 479. A marginal note in B reads, c dogma Pelagianum. 5
223 See the reference to the condemnation in the Sixteenth
Council of Carthage of the Pelagian doctrine on the baptism of
children above, Book One, ch. 22 and n. 274.
224 'YfaQ conclusion of this chapter once more reveals our author's
keen sense of original sin, which is at the root of this acceptance of
God's just judgment on the unbaptised children. Today an addi-
tional element for an answer is drawn from the doctrine on Limbo
which was unknown in St. Prosper's time (see above, n. 212 to
225 In this chapter we have a precise statement of Prosper's con-
ception of the universal salvific will: God wills all men to be saved
without exception meaning that He gives grace to all, though
not to all in the same degree. All receive a general grace, and only
some a special grace; and these alone actually attain salvation.
226 Cf. above, chs. 4 and 19. Is this general grace only an ex-
terior help or is it also interior? From the present passage it would
seern to be merely exterior; at any rate, only the exterior help is
mentioned explicitly. Yet, as the Ballerini brothers already noted,
Observations in Dissert. II Quesnelli 17 (ML 55. 380D), and
recently Cappuyns, 'L'auteur' 204 n. 2, the gratia generalis of the
De vocatione comprises both exterior and interior divine help. At
times the interior help is stated explicitly (1.4; 2.4, 17.25), in
other places only the exterior testimony of things created is men-
tioned (1.5; 2. 25). Even then in St. Prosper's conception an in-
terior help is indirectly postulated. For, according to a frequently
expressed view of his, all grace, either special or general, if *t is to
lead to any good results, requires both exterior and interior help.
The special grace, as found in the Law and Prophets or in the
Gospel, remains ineffective without interior grace (2. 7) ; so also
the general grace which is the testimony of created things (2. 4).
Whenever the general grace was effective, this was due to an in-
terior grace (2.5), just as for the Law (1.8) and the Gospel
(ibid.). Another confirmation of this lies in the statement often
repeated that the difference between special and general grace is
one of degree only of greater abundance or scarcity (2. 19, 23, 25),
not of kind. It is always the grace of the Redeemer, Christ
(2.5, 9, 15). St. Prosper's opposition to the Pelagian conception
of an exterior grace (1. 8) makes it altogether improbable that he
would call grace a merely exterior help.
Should it not be said that the interior help added to the exterior
teaching or preaching of the created things is the special grace, so
that exterior grace is the same as general, and interior the same as
special grace? This does not seem to be the idea of the De voca-
tione. Both the Law and the Prophets, and the Gospel, which
are exterior graces, are called gratia specialis (2. 4, 9), and at the
same time it is said explicitly that they cannot actually lead to
salvation without an interior action of God in the soul (1. 8; 2. 4).
If general grace meant exterior help only, then no one could ever
profit by it. If special grace meant only interior help, then there
would be no reason why Israel or the Christians would be con-
sidered as privileged; for then what they have received more in the
line of exterior help, the Law or the Gospel, would always remain
a grace that can lead nowhere without the addition of an interior
grace. But it is said explicitly that the call to the Gospel is a
special one (2. 23), just as was the direction provided by the Law
for Israel (2.9). Both the special grace, therefore, and the gen-
eral one comprise exterior and interior help from God.
227 ^y e already know St. Prosper's insistence on the unknow-
ability of the reasons or motives of God's decrees and judgments
about the dispensation of grace; cf. below, n. 290.
228 If all men received the same graces, the question would no
longer arise why this man receives one grace and that one another.
There would be no question of mysterious reasons for a diversity.
This was exactly Pelagius' position: c Nam cum universa turba
credentium paria dona gratlae percipiat et iisdem omnes sacra-
mentorum benedictionibus glorientur . . .' (Cf. de Plinval, Pelage
229 Then His special grace would no longer appear as something
special and surprising, since it would be the same for all.
230 How does this follow? God's general kindness would remain
a grace, since all would be able to know their Maker from His
gifts; but there would be no special grace any more: no particular
gifts, given to some and not given to others, would strikingly bring
out the gratuitousness of all God's gifts.
231 The meaning seems to be that God did not refuse to all man-
kind the special grace, since He gives it to some of them. Perhaps
this implies that God was ready to give the special grace to all, but
that some refused to accept it; the proof of His readiness to give
BOOK II 211
more being precisely the general grace which He actually gives to
all. Cf. the following n.
232 This apparently insinuates that the reason why special graces
are not given to all is because in some men 'nature recoiled,' that
is, because they did not want to accept them. But would this be
consistent with the election theory of our author? Hardly. At any
rate, he does not explain it further. If we understand these lines
in this sense, that they lay the reason why God withholds His
special graces from some in the free will of men who refuse to
accept them, then his solution of the universal salvific will becomes
considerably more satisfactory. For then it comes to mean that
the special grace needed for actual salvation is offered to all, but
not actually given to some because they refuse it. This, however,
is inconsistent with our author's views on the election (cf. above,
ch. 23) according to which God reveals His mercy in some men
through special graces, and in others, His justice. But cf. Intro.
n. 56. Cf. Resp. cap. Vincent. 7, 'Quamdiu salvi esse nolunt, salvi
esse non possunt.'
233 The problem examined in the present chapter is not how to
reconcile grace and free will, but only to show the fact that free
will remains as a necessary but secondary factor in the process of
justification. We are reminded of St. Augustine in the De grat. et
lib. ark., but perhaps there is more insistence on the active co-op-
eration of man's will. Are we to see here an indication that the
resiluisse naturam of the previous chapter (n. 232) is to be taken
as a refusal of grace?
234 Grace would do violence to the human will if God's will did
everything in a man's salvation without the free co-operation of
man. This would be against the free nature of man's will. But the
will is associated with grace.
235 Even in the case of the justification of children God does not
do alone the whole work since another man's will intervenes. They
who bring the children to baptism co-operate with God.
236 As was explained above, n. 232, and is explicitly stated here,
both exterior and interior aids belong to the gratia specialis.
237 The co-operation of free will and grace, expressed here, comes
to this: grace has the initiative in stirring the will and enabling
it to act; thus moved and enabled, the will co-operates with the
gift given in order to gain merit.
238 It is worth pointing out that St. Prosper explicitly attributes
the virtuous actions done with the help of grace to both grace and
free will. In this point he differs from St. Augustine who stresses
the role of grace to the extent of obscuring the part of the free
will. Girard (161) reads here the distinction between sufficient
grace (given to all) and efficacious grace (made thus through free
239 The positive counterpart of this negative statement, namely,
that virtue is given to all who wish to be virtuous (and there is no
true virtue without grace), is found nowhere in the De vocatione.
We may not, therefore, deduce from this negative sentence that a
lack of good will is the only reason why virtue is not given. This
would run counter to the election doctrine, according to which God
gives or does not give His graces as He pleases, for reasons of His
own which we cannot know.
240 When grace is said to act through teaching or through fear,
we must remember that in our author's conception exterior grace
is not isolated but doubled with interior grace; cf. above, n. 226.
241 Prov. 9. 10.
242 Ecclus. 25. 15.
24 *Quae auctore gratiae eodem proficit timore quo coepit: both
B and M follow this reading, and note the variant, 'quo auctore.'
The meaning is much the same: the fear of the Lord is the source
of progress as it was the beginning of virtue. Cf. Girard (129),
e qui est cause du progres, non rnoins que du commencement de
244 Cf. Book One, ch. 8, on the healing effects of grace.
245 Cf. Book One, ch. 6 no true virtue without grace.
246 . . . nisi oculos in eo aperuerit voluntatis: the eyes of the
will, that is, the eyes of the soul that should direct the will. It
should be noted that Prosper frequently calls grace a light, imply-
ing in this more than mere knowledge a desire and inclination to
act accordingly. Cf. Book One, ch. 8, on the interior action of
grace which goes together with the exterior grace. In this also
we find an Augustinian idea: that grace is superior to the Law
in that it not only shows what is to be done, but gives the de-
sire and the strength to do what is commanded: cf. De spir. et
litt. 19. 32.
247 Cf. ch. 11.
248 John 6. 44.
249 Matt 16.17.
250 Cf . above, ch. 26.
BOOK II 213
251 Cf. St. Augustine, Conf. 13. 9. 10, 'Pondus meum amor meus;
eo feror, quocumque feror. 5
252 Et quod eos voluit Deus velle, voluerunt: cf. St. Agustine,
Contra duas epist. Pelag. 1. 19. 37, c . . . ut volentes ex nolentibus
fiant'; Epist. 186 (Ad Paulin.) 2. 6, 'Recolat utrum quaesierit, an
253 Repeated stress on the fact that free will remains under the
action of grace, that the election does not put aside freedom. Girard
( 1 64 f . ) comments : efficacious grace and free will.
254 Matt. 26.41. Cf. the same argumentation on this text in
St. Augustine, De grat. et lib. arb. 4. 9.
255 Luke 22.311
256 Ibid. 22. 40.
257 B pro eo, M pro ea.
258 B negationem eius, M negationem Christi.
259 ... conturbatum cor Apostoli non humanis sed divinis con-
venit oculis; cf. St. Leo, Serm. 54. 5, e illis turbatum discipulum con-
venit oculis' a parallel among several which Quesnel pointed out,
op. dt. (ML 55. 353 BC).
260 John 10.18.
261 Gal. 5. 17.
262 Matt. 26.41.
263 Cf. Job 7. 1.
264 Cf. above, Book One, ch. 8 and n. 81, on the usefulness of
struggle and temptation.
265 John 21. 18 f.
266 . . . quae ab ilia principali petra communionem et virtutis
sumpsit et nominis: cf. Leo, Epist. 28.5, c . . . a principali petra
soliditatem et virtutis traxit et nomims'; cf. Quesnel, op. cit. (ML
267 Matt. 6. 13.
268 1 Cor. 1. 31.
269 B victoriam, M gloriam.
270 Cf. above, ch. 12. A similar idea is found in Pelagius' Epist.
ad Demetr. 3 : e Nec esset omnino virtus ulla in bono perseverantis,
si is ad malum transire non potuisset' (ML 30. 17D).
271 Note once more the stress on freedom which remains under
the action of grace and with the gift of perseverance.
272 1 Tim. 2. 4.
273 The present chapter is perhaps the most striking example of
Prosper's struggle to synthesize the Augustinian doctrine on elec-
tion-predestination with his own universalistic conception of the
divine salvific will; perhaps it is also another proof of his incon-
sistency in holding on to both doctrines which, when taken rigidly,
274 Isa. 40. 8.
275 praescita et promissa: the term praedestinata is avoided;
gentium plenitude: a restricted totality cf. Book One, ch. 9 and
nn. 127, 137.
276 Cf . Book One, ch. 9, where the promise is interpreted in a
277 Cf. John 6. 39.
278 Cf. ibid. 10.29.
279 2 Tim. 2. 19.
280 Quod et nemini negatur et nemini debetur, in its quos promi-
sit, efficiturthe grace which is given to the men that are com-
prised in the promise(= election = predestination) is refused to
no one. How to understand this? Is the specialis gratia without
which there is no salvation, and with which there is, offered to all
men? Is it not actually given to all only because they refuse to ac-
cept it? Cf. above, n. 232, and below, n. 284. If so, this can hardly
be reconciled with the election-predestination doctrine.
281 1 Cor. 12. 6.
282 iusta et ttona: God's justice and goodness or mercy are mani-
fested in the distribution of His gifts, tempering each other. Cf.
above, ch. 22 and n. 199.
283 Ps. 24. 10.
284 The special graces which up to now were apparently said
to be given only to the elect (cf. ch. 25), are said here to have been
given also to some men who stray from the path of truth and life.
This is also implied further in this chapter, nullo excidente de
plenitudine promissionum, qui . . . nee auxilio defuturus. Must we
think of a double kind of gratia specialis, one given to the elect
only, another given also to some who will not persevere? Cf . below,
ch. 33 and n. 305.
285 In God's foreknowledge the number of the elect is fixed: an
Augustinian idea; cf. Augustine, De corr. et grat. 23. 39, 'Certum
vero esse numerum electorum, neque augendum, neque minuen-
286 By g ran ting to all the gratia genera/is cf. above, ch. 25.
287 Their malice consisted in not making use of the general gifts
of grace given to all men, or even according to what was said here
BOOK II 215
(cf. n. 284) in misusing or leaving unused the special graces given
to some who do not persevere.
288 Cf . 1 Tim. 2. 4.
289 Gal 5. 6.~Cf. Book One, chs. 23 and 24.
290 The frequent reference (in not less than 10 chs. in Book One,
and 12 in Book Two) to the mysterious and hidden things in the
economy of divine grace which are beyond all human knowledge,
besides passing allusions to the same mystery, is one more Augus-
tinian feature of the De vocatione. Cf. St. Augustine, e.g. De pecc.
mer. 1.21.29; 2. 18.32; De spir. et litt. 35.61; 36.66; Epist. 194
(Ad Sioct.) 3. 10; and the classical citation from St. Paul, Rom.
11. 33, O altitudo. ... If we summarize St. Prosper's ideas in this
connection, we come to the following. God has reserved to Himself
certain truths which are beyond human investigation (1.20, 21).
He has not revealed them to us because it was unnecessary for
us to know them. Had it been necessary, He would have made
them known (1. 13, 14). These truths, therefore, we need not try
to find out, we must stop at the limit of our human knowledge
(1. 1, 15; 2. 1, 10, 21). And what are these unknowable truths?
They are mainly the reasons or motives of God's ways in the
economy of His grace and the election (1. 13, 14, 18, 21; 2. 25, 30) :
why He saves some and not others (2. 1); why He bestows such
gifts on one and others on another (1. 17); why He acts with re-
gard to the salvation of men, in different ways at different times
(1. 13; 2. 9) and for different persons and nations (1. 15; 2.22).
We know the differences, we cannot know the reasons (2.22).
The answer to the why of all these differences lies with the in-
scrutable decrees and judgments of God which are mysterious and
hidden, but cannot but be just (2. 1, 3, etc.).
291 Each item of this enumeration has been dealt with in pre-
vious chapters: different times, cf. the three periods in the history
of the salvation of mankind Book One, n. 188; different nations,
that is, especially Israel and the Gentiles cf. Book One, ch. 21;
different families, cf. above, ch. 3; the infants, Book One, ch. 16;
the unborn have not been mentioned explicitly in the De voca-
tione (but St. Augustine mentions them, for the case of Esau
and Jacob-Epfcf. 194 [Ad SixL] 8. 35 and Epist. 286 [Ad Paulin.]
4. 14 f.); twins, see the allusion to the classical proof for the gra-
tuitousness of grace derived from Esau and Jacob above, ch. 11
and n. 88; also Carm. de mgr. 637-47; St. Augustine, Contra duas
epist. Pelag. 2. 7. 15.
292 Rom. 8. 24.
293 1 Cor. 2. 9.
294 Compare this expression of the author's modesty with Book
One, ch. 1.
295 1 Tim. 4. 10.
296 Another reading noted by M has suUilissimae veritatis instead
of brevitatis. B does not mention it.
29T These special helps are the gratia spedalis of the elect. The
special grace given to some who will not persevere (cf. above,
n. 284) is not meant here.
298 Book Two, ch. 6.
299 The illustrations are aimed at Pelagius' objection against the
inequality of graces, namely, that God is acceptor personarum.
Cf. above, n. 224 to Book One. St. Augustine had answered the
objection, e.g. Contra duas epist. Pelag. 2. 7. 13.
300 Cf. above, ch. 8; also Book One, ch. 24.
301 The present chapter holds on, except for the word itself, to
St. Augustine's predestination doctrine. It would seem to weaken
to some degree what has been explained in the previous chs. 19
and 25 on the universal call of all men through general graces.
302 The previous chapter treated of these.
303 ... qui perire non debeat, who is not a reprobate: cf. Intro,
n. 49, for Prosper's conception of reprobation.
304 Contrast with this the non-universal promulgation of the
Gospel as expressed above, ch. 17; see also Resp. cap. Gall. 4 and
Carm. de ingr. 275 f.
805 spedalis vocatio, the special call expressed in the Gospel,
has become universal. Perhaps this special call is not the same
as the special grace, or it is only the special grace given also to
those who will not persevere. It is, moreover, only as such an ex-
terior grace. Cf. above, nn. 226 and 284.
306 This is commonly pointed out as an indication that the De
vocatione was written in Rome.
307 This Christian view of Providence making all events con-
tribute to carry out its designs is, as is well-known, the fundamental
idea of St. Augustine's philosophy of history and of his De civitate
Dei. Cf. C. Dawson, The City of God,' in A Monument to Saint
Augustine (London 1930) 43 ff.
308 B provectuum, M proventuum.
309 This apparently paradoxical expression of God's eternal
prescience is a reminiscence from St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22. 2:
BOOK II 217
'Secundum illam vero voluntatem suam, quae cum eius praescientia
sempiterna est> . . . etiam futura iam fecit.' Girard here translates
(143) 5 *et il a desia determine les recompenses apres avoir conclu
310 Eph. 1. 3-6. B per lesum Christum in ipso, M omits in ipso.
The present Scripture quotation is the only place in the De vo-
catione where we find the word praedestinare.
311 Negative reprobation, or non-inclusion in the number of the
312 Again predestination without the name. Cf. below, n. 316.
313 Compare the Augustinian idea of the numerus clausus of the
elect (above, n. 285). Both aspects of it, neque augendus neque
minuendus, are developed in this chapter.
314 2 Tim. 1.8f.
315 These were the difficulties of the Hadrumetan monks against
St. Augustine's teaching on predestination. See Augustine's De
gratia et libero arbitrio and De correptione et gratia.
316 St. Prosper's answer to the difficulties considers only God's
foreknowledge, while the election-predestination implies also the
part of God's will or God's choice. It may be helpful to synthetise
here the dispersed elements of our author's election theory. This
conception states that the sons of the promise, foreknown and fore-
ordained (1. 9, 20) before all times (2. 33), are all saved without
exception (1.9; 2.29), chosen as they are without any merit of
their own (1. 22, 25) for reasons that remain hidden in God's om-
nipotent will (1. 16, 18, 20). Thus, in the sight of God mankind is
divided into two sections (1. 10), one of the elect and the other of
of the reprobate (2. 33). The number of the elect is fixed (2. 29,
33), God's eternal foreknowledge of it cannot fail (ibid.). The
elect are infallibly, though freely, led to salvation, with special
graces in addition to the general graces given to all (2.25,28),
out of mere mercy (1. 25; 2. 29); while the non-elect receive in the
end the just punishment of their sin (1. 25; 2. 29). The non-elect
did not receive the special graces of the elect, but only the general
graces, or at most the special graces that do not grant perseverance
(2.29). Even the children are condemned justly on account of
original sin (2.21). No one is lost except the reprobate (2.33).
Why were the special graces not given to the reprobate? A two-
fold answer is given: the one, more stressed and more explicit, is
that we do not know the reasons for God's unequal distribution
of graces (1. 13, 15; 2. 9, 22, 24); the other, stated more in passing
and only insinuated, is that nature recoiled (2. 25), or men refused
them (2.28 fin.), since God abandons no one unless man first
turns away from Him. (2. 12).
Is this different from St. Augustine's doctrine on predestination?
His classical definition of it reads (De dono persev. 14. 35) : 'Est
praedestinatio sanctorum . . . praescientia . . . et praeparatio bene-
ficiorum Dei, quibus certissime liberantur quicumque liberantur.'
In St. Prosper's theory of election there is one element of difference:
election is mainly considered as God's infallible prescience. Yet the
other aspect, regarding the will, is not excluded, as appears from
the much used terms, praescitum et praeordinatum (1. 9), prae-
cogniti et praeordinati (1.20), praecognita et praeelecta (2.33).
The main identity between predestination and election is the neces-
sity of salvation for the elect and the certainty of non-salvation for
317 This was the Semi- Pelagian objection against predestination;
cf. Resp. cap. Gall 11.
318 St. Augustine's teaching on the negative nature of evil is
well-known; cf., e.g. Opus imp. c. luL 3. 206, 'Nulla enim natura,
in quantum natura est, malum est.'
319 B propriis, M proprio.
320 This chapter answers the first objection formulated in the pre-
vious one against the election, that it would render good works un-
321 1 John 3. 8.
322 Rom. 5.3-5.
323 Eph. 2.8-10.
324 Cf. above, ch. 8.
325 B and M correct the text to read cum etiam ad hoc ut operen-
tur electl sint; while Girard translates (148) the uncorrected text
quoted by Mangeant ad hoc operentur ut electi sint with Veu
mesme qu'ils travaillent pour estre elus.'
326 Matt. 25. 29.
32T Cf. Ps. 1.2.
328 Cf. 2 Tim. 3. 12.
32& The chapter gives the answer to the second objection against
election: it would make prayer superfluous.
330 B accipere debere uxorem, M accipere uxorem.
331 Tob. 6.16-18 (Sept.).
332 This reason why God's decrees about the election must re-
main hidden from our knowledge, namely, in order that we may
BOOK II 219
continue in good works and prayer, was not given before in the
De vocatione. Cf. St. Augustine, De corr. et grat. 13.40: 'Nam
propter huius utilitatem secreti, ne forte quis extollatur, sed omnes,
etiam qui bene currunt, timeant, dum occultum est qui perveni-
ant . . .'; De dono persev. 13. 33.
33S 1 Cor. 10. 12.
33 *Ps. 144.14.
335 Cf. St. Augustine, De corr. et grat. 15. 46; also the parallel in
St. Leo, Serm. 34. 5, 'nullius desperanda salus' (cf. Quesnel, op.
336 See above, Book One, ch. 12 and n. 178.
887 1 Tim. 2.4.
Abraham, father of all the na-
tions, 67; faith of, 67, 113;
God's promise to, 113, fufilled
every day, 44, 67; sons of, 42,
44, 67, 91, 103
Adam, 33; sin of, 63, 127
adoption, as sons of God, 44,
146, 147; of grace, 132, 146;
preceded all times, 147
adults, justified gratuitously, 70,
adulterous woman, 38, 178
Ales, A. d', 165, 166, 169
Altaner, B., 163
Amann, E., 158-60, 163, 164,
165, 168, 171, 184, 201
Ambrose, St., 7f., 161, 169
agnostic attitude, 185, 199
animal will, see will; desires, 28
Antelmi, J., 7, 161
anti-Augustinism, 4 f.
Arand, L. A., 172, 181
ark of Noe, symbolism of, 111 f.,
arts, useful, 29
astrology, 56, 186
Augustine, St., 3; and Semi-
Pelagians, 3 f.; relations with
St. Prosper, 4 f.; and salvific
will, 11, 171. See election,
Conf. 13.9. 10: 213; C. duos
ep.Pel. 1.19.37: 213; 2. 5. 9:
189, 191; 2.6.11: 191; 2.7.
13: 215; 2. 7. 14: 187; 2. 7. 15:
215; 4.6.16: 185; C. M.
Pelag. 4. 3. 17: 175; 4. 3. 22:
173; De civ. Dei: 216; 5. 1-7:
186; 5.8: 186; 5.10.2: 201;
5. 15: 173; 11.2: 174; 12.27.
2: 187; 13. 2: 172; 13. 10: 206;
15.6: 178; 15.7: 201; 15.26
f.: 201; 16.4: 201; 16.11:
201; 18.29: 204; 18.47: 197;
19. 25: 175; 21. 12: 188, 205,
206; 22. 2. 2: 216; De corr. et
grot.: 4, 217; 7. 13: 172; 7. 13
f.: 180; 7.16: 180; 8. 17: 171;
8.18: 157; 9.20: 180; 12.36:
180; 13.39: 214; 13.40: 219;
14.44: 181; 15.46: 219; 15.
47: 165, 184; 16: 199; De div.
quaest. 83.40: 186; 44: 175;
De dono persev.: 5, 193; 7. 17:
188; 8. 17 f.: 195; 9. 21 f.: 180,
187; 11.27: 186; 13.33: 166,
219; 14. 35: 218; 14. 37: 199;
18.47: 183; 20.53: 193; De
Gen. ad litt. 10.17.30: 186;
De gest. Pel. 14.33: 190; De
grat. Christi 1.7-14: 178; 1.
22.23: 189; De grat. et lib.
arb.: 4, 211, 217; 4.9: 213;
15.31: 176; 20.41: 202; 21.
42: 202; 21.43: 188; 22.44:
185, 187; 23. 45: 208; De nat.
et grat. 26.29: 200; De pecc.
mer. 1.21.29: 215; 2.17.26:
177; 2. 18. 32: 215; De perf.
iust. horn. 2. 4: 177; De praed.
sanct.: 5, 193; 1.2: 179; 2.3:
159; 6. 10: 198; 8. 14: 165;
8.16: 186; 12.23: 191; 12.24:
187; 12-14, 23-29: 187; 16:
199; 16.33: 183, 202; De spir.
et litt.: 178; 3.5: 174; 7.11:
178; 11.20: 174; 14.23-. 197;
19. 32: 212; 24. 39 f.: 180; 27.
48: 173; 30.52: 177, 181; 34.
60: 176, 185; 35.61: 215; 36.
66: 215; De ver. rel. 25.46:
175; Enarr. in Ps. 32. 1.10-12:
206; 70.2.1: 170; Enchir. 1.
8.20: 178; 23.93: 187, 206;
27. 103: 165, 181, 184; Ep.
184A2: 205; 186.2.6: 213;
186.3.10: 172; 186.4. 14 f.:
215; 186.6.16: 188; 186.7.
25 f.: 158; 188.1.3: 200; 194:
158; 194. 3. 7: 172; 194. 3. 10:
215; 194.3.14: 172; 194.7.
31: 191; 194.7.32: 187, 208;
194. 7. 33: 205; 194. 8. 35: 187,
215; 194. 9. 41 f.: 187; 199.6.
17: 183; 214-215: 158; 217:
158; 217.3.8: 177; 217.5:
193; 217. 12: 176; In loan. ev.
tract. 33.4-6: 179; 45. 2: 175;
53.6: 199; Op. imp. c. lul.
1.48: 187; 3. 206: 218; 4. 128:
186; 6.9: 171; Retract. 1.22.
2: 170;Serm. 13.4 f.: 179; 17.
6f.: 185; 21. 2: 200; 43.6.7:
Augustinism, 4f., 18, 158
authority, reason for assent, 90
Babel, confusion of languages,
Baius, M., 175
Ballerini, J. and P., 7, 19, 161 f.,
169, 171, 175, 178, 197, 205,
baptism, sacrament of regenera-
tion, 59 f., 63, 70, 126 f., 146,
206 ff.; why not provided to
all infants, 132 f., 208
Bardenhewer, O., 162, 209
Bardy, G., 163
beginning of faith, of good
works, of merit, 3, 5, 41, 71 ff.,
83, 94, 135, 176, 179
birth, heavenly, 76; birth and
death ruled by Providence,
bodies and souls, origin of dif-
ferences, 56, 186
Body of Christ, 120, 148
Bouillard, H., 168
Boyer, C., 158
Cain, 110, 201
call, 47, 93, 106, 189; general
and special, 14, 189, 196; of
some people delayed, 14, 196,
203; to the faith is gratuitous,
91; time appointed for, 203
Caperan, L., 165, 169
Cappuyns, M., 8ff., 159 ff., 168
f., 173, 175, 177, 198, 209
Carthage, council of, 3, 191,
Cassian, J., 5, 9 f., 158, 159, 176,
Collationes, 159, 166, 172,
176, 177, 194 f.
Catholic doctrine, distinction of,
and Augustinian teaching, 11
Cayre, R, 163, 168
Cerfaux, L., 183
Cesarius of Aries, St., 6, 160
Chadwick, O. 5 158, 159
chance, see fatalism
charity, 36, 102, 117f., 150;
gradual growth, 107; sum
total of all virtue, 107; faith
not firm without, 108
chastisement, 89, 104. See pun-
Chene, J., 176
children, see infants
Christ, died for all men, 14, 66,
118, 202; Body of, 120, 148
Christopher, J. P., 172, 183
Church, 46, 51 f. 5 111, 145, 146;
prayers of, 52, 152
Condamin, A., 204
consent, of free will caused by
continence, 78, 101, 150
conversion, 33 f., 110, 177; heal-
ing of wounded nature, 36;
of sinner always possible, 152;
problem of c. of mankind, 40.
See deathbed conversions
co-operation with grace, 134 f.
counsels of God, 125, 129. See
Couture, L., 163, 164 f.
council, of Carthage, 3, 158, 191,
206, 209; of Orange, 6, 169;
of Trent, 179
Crabbe, P., 168
created things, testimony of, 16,
30 f., 95 ff., 197, 209
creation, new, 76
Cristiani, L., 159
Cross of Christ, 37, 91, 111, 120;
enemies of, 52
Danielou, J., 201
Dawson, C, 216
death, consequence of sin, 127,
205 f.; early, 127 f.
deathbed conversions, 13, 60 f. 3
decrees, God's, see judgments;
all things happen according
to God's free decrees known
from the facts only, 61
delay, of the call to salvation of
some peoples, 14, 92 f., 196;
reason unknown, 69, 93; rea-
son is not their unworthiness,
58 f.; obscurity in plan of
salvation, 93, 196
Delehaye, H., 184
demerit, 89, 187
design of God, 69, 96, 103, 115,
121, 147, 196
destiny, see fatalism, astrology
devil, 34, 35, 150
De vocations, 3, 6; authorship,
7 f.; arguments for St. Pros-
per's authorship, 8 f., 165;
written in Rome, 3, 216;
theme of, 11 f. 3 165; contents,
12 .; incoherence in system,
166, 184, 214; originality, 15,
174, 204; place in Augustin-
ism, 18, 19, 165; MSS and
editions, 19, 169; translation,
20 f., 170
Diels, H. 9 175
differences, in God's gifts, 12, 14,
53, 100, 102, 199; in God's
ways with men, 56, 196;
reasons unknown, 55 f., 102 f.,
143; among men originate
from God, 56 f., 130
diffidence, distrust, 107
discrimination, among infants,
59 f., 70 f., 126 f., 207 f.; Semi-
Pelagian explanation, 187,
191; between elect and rep-
robate, reasons unknown, 15,
68, 87 f.; Semi-Pelagian ex-
planation, 69 f., 190
dispensation of graces, 185, 194,
199, 211; gradual, 105 f., 200
dispensations, of God, 77, 96,
doctrine of faith, 88, 194, 196
Duchesne, L., 179, 184
Dupin, E, 7, 161 f.
economy of grace, 16, 132; three
historical stages in, 54 f., 103,
185, 190, 199; what we know
and do not know about, 187,
elect, 4, 12, 15, 18, 46, 87, 142,
180, 181, 197, 201, 205, 207;
all infallibly saved, 15, 141 f.,
146, 180; salvation of, is ful-
filment of God's promise to
Abraham, 67, 141, 190; num-
ber of, is fixed, 142, 148, 201,
214, 217; unknown till their
election, 14, 17, 18, 68, 147,
167, 180, 184, 207 f., 21 1,214,
217; motive hidden in God,
63, 67, 68, 143; why hidden,
152, 169; motive does not lie
in merit, 63, 69 f.; is revealed
in baptism of infants, 131,
207 f.; and prayer, 148, 151;
and good works, 148, 150
elementa, 175; original elements,
56, 186. See created things
end of the world, 50, 69, 183;
last period before, 204
Engelbrecht, A., 160
error, 56, 141
Esau and Jacob, 215
eternal life, 30, 87
Eucher of Lyons, 161
evil, 129, 149, 206, 218
faith, a divine gift, 40, 71 ff., 76,
137; source of justification, 97;
of merit, 76; of good works,
192; and charity, 102, 107;
fruitless without charity, 102;
tested in things invisible, 41;
accepted freely, 135, 137;
understanding it, 147, 195; in
faithful, the, 132; receive dif-
ferent gifts of God, 144 f.
Fall, the, 3, 35, 176 f.; reparation
of, through the grace of Christ,
35 f. See sin
fatalism, 56, 70, 186, 191
fathers and sons, treated differ-
ently by God's Providence,
Faustus of Riez, 6, 158
fear, of God, 45, 79, 136; test
of fear, 140; fear and grace,
Fessard, G. 5 185
Festugiere, A. J., 186
fickleness, of human nature,
figures of speech, in Scripture,
182, 183, 184
filiae hominum, 199
finger of God, 43
flesh, and spirit, 39; flesh of sin,
Flood, the, lilt, 201
foreknowledge, of God, 43, 45,
147 f., 149; and sin, 110, 149;
and free will, 201, 217
forgiveness, 38, 178
fortitude, 117, 150
free will, and grace, 4, 15, 26 1,
35 f., 135, 136, 172 f., 177,
211, 213; free co-operation
with grace, 18, 134 f., 149 f.,
211; defenders of, 26, 170; not
lost by original sin, 34; and
election, 87; and perseverance,
137 f.; source of evil, 149
good, capacity to do, 177
Good Friday, solemn orations,
Fulgentius of Ruspe, St., 6, 160
fulness, of Christ, 106; of the
Gentiles, 55, 112, 141, 201:
see totality; of time, 113
futurible merits of infants, 187,
Gaidioz, J., 163
Gaudel, A., 187
Gaul, 4, 9
Gelasius, St., pope, 179
Gentiles, 13, 185, 190, 197, 215;
elect among the, 14, 19, 97,
113, 197; call of the, 122, 125;
grace given to, 97, 197; delay
in the call of the, 54, 69, 121,
196; and Jews, equal in the
Ghellinck, J. de, 160, 161
gifts of God, 29, 31, 82, 100,
102, 114, 125, 133, 141
Wilson, K, 200
irard, A., 20, 170, 173, 175,
178, 179, 180, 182, 184, 185,
188, 193, 195, 196, 198, 203,
206, 207, 212, 213, 217, 218
od, source of all good actions,
76; of all good, 36, 40, 81;
glory of, 32, 97
Goldbacher, A., 159
Gospel, 44, 74, 90, 101; destined
for all men, 17, 93, 121, 203;
promulgated the world over,
146, 167; not yet spread to all
nations, 121, 203; a special
grace become general, 17, 146,
grace, 3, 11, 97, 197; cause of all
merit, 27: see merit; acts in-
teriorly in man, 38, 43, 180;
differences in God's grace, 14,
98, 100, 105, 136 f., 144 f.,
197f.; exterior and interior,
16, 135, 178, 180, 197, 198,
202, 209 f., 212; general, 15 ff.,
68, 96 f., 114, 121, 125, 131,
133 f., 141, 144,174, 190, 196
ff., 199, 202 ff., 204 f., 209,
210 f., 214; special, 14, 16 1,
125, 134, 141, 144, 196, 207 f.,
210 f., 214, 216; two kinds of
special grace, 16, 214, 216;
reason why special grace not
given to all, 211, 214, 217 f.;
gradual dispensation of graces,
105f.; marvellous effects of,
106; given to sinners, 109,
111; only remedy for sin, 114;
power of, shown in conversion
of the wicked, 115; parsimony
of, in the past, 103, 121 f.,
125, 204; role of, in justifica-
tion, 134 L; source of all good
in man, 76 ff., 81, 85, 87, 89,
179, 192; superior to the Law,
178, 212; healing and elevat-
ing character of, 177, 178;
multiform, 112; sufficient and
gratuitousness of grace, 5, 10 f.,
170, 191,192, 199, 210; proofs
of, 58 3 59, 60, 187, 189, 190,
215; and predestination, 10,
growth of the seed, 102, 105 f.
guidance, of the Holy Spirit,
105, 109, 200. See Holy Spirit
guilt, of original sin, 126 f.
Hadrumetum, 3, 217
healing grace, 101
hell, 205 f.
heretics, 52, 56, 127
Ep. ad August, 166, 187
Hincmar of Rheims, 8, 198
history of the economy of grace,
three periods, 54 f., 103, 185,
Holy Spirit, 27, 35, 38, 75, 80,
104, 107 ff., 117f., 145, 197,
200; nothing right without His
guidance, 35, 80
hope, 75, 117, 135; of Redemp-
humility, fruit of temptation
and trial, 39, 179
Hurter, R, 169, 179
idolatry, idol worship, 31, 36,
ignorance, 65, 69, 114 } 126
image of God in man, 39, 179
increase of grace given by God,
inequality of God's gifts, 56,
186, 199, 200; among men not
due to fate, 186; not to the
infants, 13 f., 28, 59, 206 ff., 215;
baptised and unbaptised, mys-
tery of their discrimination,
59, 70, 126 f, 191, 205; fate
of, dying without baptism, 59,
126, 130 ff., 181, 206; case of,
objection against salvific will,
14, 126, 130 f., 205, 208; re-
ceive general grace in their
parents, 16, 130 f., 207; elec-
tion of, 59, 131, 207 f.; elect
and reprobate, 126; Semi-
Pelagian explanation, 187,
infidels, 145; prayers for, 52,
153; God's Providence for, 145
f.; salvation of, 3, 203; call of,
delayed, 69, 93 f.
initiative, of conversion, 37, 76
f., 79, 82, 177 f.; of good
works, is from grace, 12, 211;
not from nature, 13, 60, 65
initium fidei, 176, 189, 192
innocence, 59, 132, 188
inscrutable, see unknowable
inspiration, divine, 74, 137
integrity of nature lost by orig-
inal sin, 33 f .
Isaias, universal messianism in,
Israel, election of, 13 f., 30, 68 f.,
174, 185, 190; special provi-
dence for, 31, 95 L, 103, 215;
special call of, 196; story of
defections of, 31; rejection of,
unbelief of, 54 f., 69, 103,185;
final conversion of, 55, 69,
Israelites, true, 67, 113
Jacob, see Esau
Jacquin, M., 158, 163, 165, 166
Jews, 127, 197: see Israel; learn-
ing of, 37; at the time of
John the Baptist, St., 37, 106
John Maxentius, 160
judgment, last, 101 f.
judgments of God, inscrutable,
14, 53 f., 87 f., 144 f., 147, 171,
215; just when hidden, 15, 61,
93, 127, 133
just, the, and sinners, 61, 188
justice, God's, 41, 188, 206; and
mercy, 59, 142, 146, 195, 206,
214; shown in the punishment
of the reprobate, 87, 89
justification, 17, 39, 60, 134, 176,
177. See conversion
Kennedy, V. L., 184
kingdom of God, 53; of Christ,
125; of heaven, 60
kings, and emperors, 118
knowledge, limit of our, 26 5 87;
what we have of it about God
is not without grace, 29, 67 f.,
121, 174, 203; of truth, 89, 93,
125 f., 142, 153; that of God
is eternal and serene, 149.
Labriolle, P. de, 163
Lagrange, J. M., 183, 188
languages, confusion of, 112,
201; all spoken on Pentecost
laver of Christ, 61; of regenera-
tion, 112, 130. See baptism
Law, 95 f.; and grace, 37 f., 179,
189; the precepts of the, 31;
and the Prophets, a special
grace given to Israel, 17, 31,
97, 197, 209 f.
Le Brun des Marettes, J. B., 169
Lejay, P., 160
Leo, St., pope, 7, 9, 167; author-
ship of the De vocatione
claimed for, 7 3 161
Sermones, parallel passages
in De voc., 167, 198, 201, 203,
Leon-Dufour, X., 176, 185
Lequeux, P., 170
Lerins, 4, 6
letter, and spirit, 97, 197
Liebaert, J., 158
light, grace as, 29, 49, 65, 67,
121, 125, 135 f., 203, 212
Limbo, 187, 209
limitations, of our knowledge,
68. See unknowable
love, of God, see charity; of God
above all things, 176; and love
of the world, 36, 69; of Christ,
Lucretius 3 De rer. nat. 3. 405, 5.
Madoz, J., 159
Mangeant, D. s 19, 169 3 178
mankind, one section saved, one
Marius Mercator, 209
martyrdom, martyrs, 118, 140
Mary, B. Virgin, 113
Massilienses, 4, 170
massa damnationis, 4, 188, 206
Mausbach, J., 176
measure, of grace, 98, 103, 105,
members, of Christ, 52, 148; of
the body, 99
mercy, God's, and justice, 14,
102. See justice
merit, 13, 14, 140, 152; grace
source of all, 14, 27, 41, 71,
135, 150, 199; not the reason
of the election, 58, 60, 69 f.,
190; or of the differences in
God's gifts, 144 f.
Merlin, R, 159
metonymy, 182, 184
ministers, 98. See preachers
minores et maiores, 187
misfortune, man's, 129 f.; miti-
gated by Providence, 129;
turned into remedy, 146
Morin, G., 160
mortality, 33, 128, 205 f.
Moxon, R. S., 159
mystery, 13, 15, 171, 190, 195,
215: see unknowable; of the
dispensations of grace, 53, 69,
103 f., 121 f., 121 f., 130, 199,
210; of unheard prayers, 53;
economy of men's salvation,
nations, all called to salvation,
66, 115f.: see Gentiles; for-
merly left aside, 95, 185; call
of some delayed, 14, 92 f., 196
natural, will. See will
nature, before and after the Fall,
33 ff., 176; without grace, 65,
87, 189; and grace, 101; hu-
man, the same now as of old,
114f.; recoiled in some men
134, 211; three stages of
man's, 198; fallen, healed by
Christ's grace, 36 f.
Noe, 109, lllf.
Noris, H. de, 161
obedience, 52, 138 f.
Olivier, J., 169
Olphe-Galliard, M., 159
opinions, private, 11, 196
Orange, council of, 6, 168 f.
original sin, 87: see Fall; grave
guilt of, 127, 205; nature de-
teriorated by, 33 f.; punish-
ment in next life, 133, 188,
205; removed in baptism, 60
f.; in children, 59, 69 f., 132 f.,
Ortega, I, 169
pagans, 69, 127, 146, 197. See
parable, of the labourers in the
vineyard, 61 f., 188; of the
talents, 101, 198
parents, 131, 206 f.
particularism, see salvific will
patience of God, 111
Paul, St., refrained from in-
vestigating the mystery of
grace, 53 f., 68 f., 103, 185
Pelagianism, 3, 190; denies ori-
ginal sin, 70, 132, 191, 208 f.;
explanation of baptism of in-
fants, 132 f., 208 f.; admits ex-
terior grace, 3, 178, 180, 189,
209 f.; grace given according
to merit, 3, 132, 188 f., 208;
optimism, 202; condemned in
council of Carthage, 3, 70,
191, 209; and predestination,
Pelagius, 3, 157 f., 160, 171,
188, 206, 210
Ep. ad Demetr., 198, 213;
Expositio Ep. Pauli, 193
Pelland, L., 163, 164, 175
people of God, 109, 122, 200
persecution, 115, 117f., 150
persecutors, converted, 91, 117
perseverance, final, 3, 5, 16, 71,
137, 140, 179; Semi-Pelagian
position, 179, 191; not without
grace, 83, 84 f., 135, 179,213;
meritorious because man can
be unfaithful, 108, 140, 213
Peter, St., temptation of, 138 fL
Petschenig, M., 159
philosophy, pagan, 37
Plinval, G. de, 157, 164, 167,
Portalie, E, 158, 165, 166, 167
Prat, R, 185
prayers, 15, 76, 138 ff.; offered
by the Church for all men,
52, 94, 152 f.; not heard for
all, 53, 153, 196; necessary
also for the elect, 148, 152,
preachers, 38, 91 f., 98, 136
preaching, with exterior, God
interiorly moves the hearers,
predestination, term avoided in
the De vocations, 18, 168, 180,
214, 217: see election; ac-
cording to St. Augustine, 3 f.,
10, 158, 207, 208, 213 f., 216,
218; explained away by Pela-
gians, 190; and fatalism, 191
prescience, 142, 148. See fore-
priests, class of, in Israel, 106;
progress, a gift of grace, 76, 83,
94, 135, 136 f., 212; gradual,
promise, God's always fulfilled,
44 f., 141, 214; sons of the,
Prophets, 31, 97, 122; Law and
the, see Law
Prosper of Aquitaine, St., 3, 4,
7 f., 9; and Semi-Pelagianism,
4, 170; author of the De
vocatione, 7ff., 173; and St.
Augustine, 4, 164; and St.
Leo, 9; chronology of works,
10 f., 1641; editions, 169;
evolution in doctrinal posi-
tions, 9f., 164; evolution in
his Augustinism, 10 f., 17 ff.,
164, 168. See De vocatione
Carm. de ingr.: 164; 40-42:
203; 126-46: 159; 275 f.: 216;
335-47: 178; 401 f.: 173; 406-
9- 176; 434-38: 187; 581-92:
177; 593 ff.: 177; 616-28: 187;
632-36: 208; 637-47: 215;
709-11: 187; 728 f.: 186; 752
f.: 186; 757 f.: 194: Chronic.:
165; Contra coll: 159, 164;
6: 159; 7: 191; 7.2: 196;
12: 184, 196; 12.4: 177,
178; 13.1: 178; 13.3: 173,
176; 13.6: 172, 194; 14: 159;
15.3: 194; 18. 3: 177; 19: 190;
19.4: 193; 19. 6: 172; 20: 190;
Epigr. ex sent. Aug.: 165; Ep.
ad August.:5, 164; 3: 191; 4:
166, 190, 194, 195; 5: 172,
187; 7: 158; Ep. ad Rufin.: 164;
7: 187; 10: 194; 13: 185, 186;
17: 187; Expos, in Ps.: 165;
Lib. sent, ex Aug. del: 6, 160,
165; 318: 198; Praeter. Sed.
Ap. episc. auct.: 5, 165; Resp.
cap. Gallon: 164; 1: 184, 186;
2: 184; 4: 216; 8: 170, 196,
199; 9: 202; 11:218; 13: 181;
Resp. cap. Vincent.: 159, 164;
1: 184, 202; 2: 170, 184, 188,
195; 7: 200, 211; 13: 199;
Resp. excerp. Genuen.: 164; 8:
Prosper of Orleans, 161
Providence, 31, 95, 112, 129,
143 f., 175, 216; general, 31,
104, 133, 174, 199, 203;
special, 31, 174; designs of,
carried out by all, 146; even
by the wicked, 116, 202; and
inequalities among men, 186
punishment, 90, 133. See chas-
Quesnel, 7, 9, 161, 164, 170,
171, 175, 188, 198, 201, 203,
quest of the supreme Good, 29
Rahner, K., 160
Ratrarnnus of Corbia, 8
reason, natural, and knowledge
of God: see knowledge; use
reasons, of God's decrees hidden,
13, 41, 55, 59, 681: see un-
knowable; for differences in
grace, 102 f., 125, 130, 134,
194; in God's ways with men,
Redemption, 111, 113, 118L,
passim; universal, 118ff.
regeneration, sacrament of, see
reliquiae Pelagianorum, 4, 158
reliquiae secundum electionem
gratiae, 48, 182
remedy, revelation as, 114
repentance, 110, 139, 201
reprobate, the, 40, 48, 88, 105,
109, 142, 182, 199, 201, 216,
reprobation, 3, 11, 164, 182, 201,
restoration, of fallen nature, 35
revelation, 56, 114, 202; blind
trust in, 55, 186
reward, 101; temporal, for natu-
ral will, 29; for pagan virtues,
34; eternal, 30
Rock, the, 140
Roman Empire, willed by Provi-
dence, 120, 203
Rome, 9, 120, 216; armies of,
Rondet, H, 159, 167
Rotmanner, O., 158
sacraments of life, 41, 179
saints, 52 3 104, 184, 200
salvation, of infidels, 3, 54 f., 197,
203; three historical periods:
see economy of grace; is gratu-
itous, 69 f., 89, 133, 142, 191;
what we know and do not
know about, 59, 187
salvific will, restricted, 10, 11 f.,
170, 181, 183, 184; universal,
6, lift, 15 f., 26, 51 f., 65 f.,
88, 89 f., 125, 133 f., 142, 165,
166, 168, 170, 189, 194, 195,
204, 207, 209, 211, 214; yet
not all are saved, 89 f., 181
scandal of Our Lord's nativity
and death, 37
Schepens, P., 163
Schmaus, M., 200
Schoenemann, C.T.G., 161, 162,
sciences, liberal, 29
Scripture, versions quoted, 8,
173 f., 194, 196; ways of
speaking in, 45 ff., 50 f., 181,
Semi-Pelagians, 3 ff., 12, 158 f.,
166, 168, 179, 184, 188, 189,
191, 193, 194; doctrines, 4f.,
70, 83, 172, 191, 202; initium
fidei, 189; universal salvific
will, 12, 194 f.; and predes-
Sickenberger, J., 183
sin, destroyed by grace, 38, 179
Sixtus III, pope, 209
sons of God, 104, 121. See
Sommervogel, C, 170
Soteaux, J., 169
Souter, A., 193
speech, age of, 130. See figures
Spencer, F. A., 173
Spirit, Holy, spiritualizes the
will, 27; fills the world, 95.
See Holy Spirit
spiritual will, see will
steadfastness, 139 f.
struggle, 39; inner, 139
success, of good works, a gift of
supernatural, 197f., 202, 203,
teachers, of all nations, 40
temple, 99, 141
temptation, 139, 152; St. Peter's,
139; usefulness of, 39, 150,
tempter, 39, 139
Tertullian, Adv. Hermog. 31:
175; De ieiun. 10: 175
Thomas Aquinas, St., 168, 176
thought, spiritual, 81
Tixeront, J., 162, 168
totality, specified or restricted,
46, 48, 92, 181, 183, 186, 196,
Trent, council of, 179
truth, knowledge of, 42, 52, 68,
trust, in the wisdom of God's
unbelief, unbelievers, 47, 63, 87,
94, 118f., 140
understanding, 68 f., 77, 83, 89,
ungodliness, ungodly, 50, 63,
109, 114, 119
unity, of faith and charity, 52
universalisni, 170. See salvific
unknowable, judgments of God,
53 f., 59, 67, 89, 92 f., 127,
129 f., 143, 185 f., 205, 210,
215; distinction between what
can be known and what can-
not, 26, 41 f., 55 f., 68, 104,
171, 187, 190; reason why
some things are, 93, 152,
use of reason, 28, 59, 126
Valentin, L., 163, 164
Vergil, Aen. 1.3871: 199
vice, viciousness, 30, 33 1, 108
victory, God's gift, 35, 140
Vincent of Lerins, St., 5, 170;
Commonitorium: 5; Excerpta:
virtue, true, 27; not without in-
tention of God's glory, 321,
34, 173; not without grace,
34, 36, 63, 108, 1351, 172,
179, 194, 197, 212; only in the
true religion, 63, 194; of pa-
gans, or infidels, 63, 173, 175;
supposes free will, 135
virtuous action, originates from
God and man's free will, 32 f.,
Vossius, G. J., 161
Vulgate, 173 1
Wang-Tch'ang-Tche, J., 175
watchfulness, 138, 150
wicked, the, 58, 109; race of,
1091; and Providence, 116,
will, three degrees of human,
12, 27, 172; animal, 12, 28,
1731; natural, 12, 281, 32,
173, 175, 176; spiritual, 12,
33, 351, 39, 105, 176, 179;
degenerate, evil, 32, 108; good,
a gift of God, 15,32, 137, 176;
God's cannot be frustrated, 43
wisdom, 29, 77, 79, 101, 136; of
God and of the world, 37
witnesses, of the Resurrection,
works, merit of good, 135, 152;
good, not possible to nature
alone, 108; election and good,
148 ff., 218; gratuitousness of
grace and good, 60, 1871
world, period, 183
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN WRITERS
THE WORKS OF THE FATHERS IN TRANSLATION
I QUASTEN, S.T.D. 3 and J. C. PLUMPE, PH.D.
1. THE EPISTLES OF ST. CLEMENT OF ROME AND ST. IGNATIUS
OF ANTIOCH. Trans, by JAMES A. KLEIST, S. J., PH. D. Pages x + 162.
2. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE FIRST CATECHETICAL INSTRUCTION.
Trans, by JOSEPH P. CHRISTOPHER, PH. D. Pages vi + 171. 1946.
3. ST. AUGUSTINE, FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY. Trans, by Louis A.
ARAND, S. S., S. T. D. Pages vi + 165. 1947.
4. JULIANUS POMERIUS, THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE. Trans, by SR.
MARY JOSEPHINE SUELZER, PH. D. Pages vi + 220. 1947.
5. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE LORD'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT. Trans.
by JOHN J. JEPSON, S. S., PH. D. Pages vi + 227. 1948.
6. THE DIDACHE, THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS, THE EPISTLES AND
THE MARTYRDOM OF ST. POLYCARP, THE FRAGMENTS OF
PAPIAS, THE EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS. Trans, by JAMES A. KLEIST,
S.J., PH.D. Pages vi + 235. 1948.
7. ARNOBIUS, THE CASE AGAINST THE PAGANS, Vol. 1. Trans, by
GEORGE E. MCCRACKEN, PH.D., Pages vi + 372. 1949.
8. ARNOBIUS, THE CASE AGAINST THE PAGANS, Vol. 2. Trans, by
GEORGE E. MCCRACKEN, PH.D. Pages vi + 287. 1949.
9. ST. AUGUSTINE, THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL AND THE
TEACHER. Trans, by JOSEPH M. COLLERAN, C. SS. R., PH. D. Pages vi
+ 255. 1950.
10. ST. ATHANASIUS, THE LIFE OF SAINT ANTONY. Trans, by ROBERT
T. MEYER, PH.D. Pages vi + 155. 1950.
11. ST. GREGORY THE GREAT, PASTORAL CARE. Trans, by HENRY
DAVIS, S. J., B. A. LOND. Pages vi + 281. 1950.
12. ST. AUGUSTINE, AGAINST THE ACADEMICS. Trans, by JOHN J.
O'MEARA, M. A., D.PHIL. (Oxon). Pages vi + 213. 1950.
13. TERTULLIAN, TREATISES ON MARRIAGE AND REMARRIAGE:
TO HIS WIFE, AN EXHORTATION TO CHASTITY, MONOGAMY.
Trans, by WILLIAM P. LE SAINT, S. J., S.T.D. Pages viii + 196. 1951.
14. ST. PROSPER OF AQUITAINE, THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS.
Trans, by P. DE LETTER, S.J., S.T.D. Pages vi + 234. 1952.