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NPNF-211. Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian
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Appendix II.

Note on Section 69, Page 149.

That Vincentius had Augustine and his adherents in view in this description will hardly be doubted by any one who will compare it with the following extracts, the first from Prosper’s letter to Augustine,527527    Inter Epistolas S. August. Ep. 225. Tom. ii. and again Tom. x. col. 1327. giving him an account of the complaints made against his doctrine by the Massilian clergy; the second from St. Augustine’s treatise, “De dono Perseveranti ”528528    Opera ix. col. 1833. written in consequence of it.

Commonitory, § 69.

“Si quis interroget quempiam hæreticorum sibi talia persuadentem, Unde probas, unde doces quod Ecclesiæ Catholicæ universalem et antiquam fidem dimittere debeam? Statum ille, ‘Scriptum est enim,’ et continuo mille testimonia, mille exempla, mille auctoritates parat de Lege, de Psalmis, de Apostolis, de Prophetis, quibus, novo et malo more interpretatis, ex arce Catholica in hæreseos barathrum infelix anima præcipitetur. Audent enim polliceri et docere, quod in Ecclesia sua, id est, in communionis suæ conventiculo, magna et specialis ac plane personalis quædam sit Dei gratia, adeo ut sine ullo labore, sine ullo studio, sine ulla industria, etiamsi nec petant, nec quærant, nec pulsent, quicunque illi ad numerum suum pertinent, tamen ita divinitus dispensentur, ut, angelicis evecti manibus, id est, angelica protectione servati, nunquam possint offendere ad lapidem pedem suum, id est, nunquam scandalizari.”

Prosper to Augustine.

“The Massilian clergy complain,” he says, “Romoveri omnem industriam, tollique virtutes, si Dei constitutio humanus præveniat voluntates.” § 3.

Then referring to the teaching of the Massilians themselves, Prosper continues,

“Ad conditionem hanc velint uniuscujusque hominis pertinere, ut ad cognitionem Dei et ad obedientiam mandatorum Ejus possit suam dirigere voluntatem, et ad hanc gratiam qua in Christo renascimur pervenire, per naturalem scilicet facultatem, petendo, quærendo, pulsando.”

Referring to the line of argument pursued by himself and others of Augustine’s friends and the Massilian way of dealing with it, he says, “Et cum contra eos Scripta Beatitudinis tuæ validissimis et innumeris testimoniis Divinarum Scriptuarum instructa proferimus,…obstinationem suam vetustate defendunt.” § 3.

St. Augustine replies to Prosper not in an ordinary letter, but in two short Treatises, which must have been written immediately afters its receipt, for he died in August 430, the first entitled “De Prædestinatione Sanctorum,” the second “De Dono Perseverantiæ.”

The following extract is from the latter:

“Attendant ergo quomodo falluntur qui putant Esse a nobis, non dari nobis, ut petamus, quæramus, pulsemus. Et hoc esse, dicunt, quod gratia præceditur merito nostro, ut sequatur illa cum accipimus petentes, et invenimus quærentes, aperiturque pulsantibus. Nec volunt intelligere etiam hoc divini muneris esse ut oremus, hoc est, petamus, quæramus, atque pulsamus.”—De Dono Persev. c. 23, § 64.

Vincentius’s language is in keeping with that of others of St. Augustine’s opponents, as Cassian and Faustus, extracts from whom are given by Noris; only, as he observes, while Vincentius uses the term “heresy” of the doctrine impugned,—they are content to use the milder term “error.”—Histor. Pelag. p. 246.


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