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NPNF1-05. St. Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings
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Chapter 2 [I.]—The First Item in the Accusation, and Pelagius’ Answer.

First of all, then, I offer to the Lord my God, who is also my defence and guide, unspeakable thanks, because I was not misled in my views respecting our holy brethren and fellow-bishops who sat as judges in that case. His answers, indeed, they not without reason approved; because they had not to consider how he had in his writings stated the points which were objected against him, but what he had to say about them in his reply at the pending examination. A case of unsoundness in the faith is one thing, one of incautious statement is another thing. Now sundry objections were urged against Pelagius out of a written complaint, which our holy brethren and fellow-bishops in Gaul, Heros and Lazarus, presented, being themselves unable to be present, owing (as we afterwards learned from credible information) to the severe indisposition of one of them. The first of these was, that he writes, in a certain book of his, this: “No man can be without sin unless he has acquired a knowledge of the law.” After this had been read out, the synod inquired: “Did you, Pelagius, express yourself thus?” Then in answer he said: “I certainly used the words, but not in the sense in which they understand them. I did not say that a man is unable to sin who has acquired a knowledge of the law; but that he is by the knowledge of the law assisted towards not sinning, even as it is written, ‘He hath given them a law for help’” 16091609     Isa. viii. 20. Upon hearing this, the synod declared: “The words which have been spoken by Pelagius are not different from the Church.” Assuredly they are not different, as he expressed them in his answer; the statement, however, which was produced from his book has a different meaning. But this the bishops, who were Greek-speaking men, and who heard the words through an interpreter, were not concerned with discussing. All they had to consider at the moment was, what the man who was under examination said was his meaning,—not in what words his opinion was alleged to have been expressed in his book.


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