The GOSPEL TRUTH
AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF
AUGUSTINISM AND PELAGIANISM
G. F. WIGGERS, D. D.
Augustine's reasons for his theory.
When we here speak of the scripture passages on which Augustine based his theory, it will of course be understood, that all the passages cannot be examined which he occasionally adduced for his several opinions, but only the chief texts to which he very often recurred in his way.
The main scripture proof of original sin, Augustine found in the epistle to the Romans; and he must have found the more of it, the less he was of an exegetical scholar and the less he knew of the original language of the New Testament.
Romans 5:12, he used as the chief passage. He took it in the Latin translation. "By one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so hath passed through unto all men, in whom all have sinned (et ita in omnes homines pertransivit, in quo omnes peccaverunt)." In this he believed he found the most complete proof for his original sin, propagating itself by generation. De Pec. Mer. I. 8 sqq. In C. 9, it is said, among other things, "He, in whom all die, besides being an example to those who voluntarily transgress the Lord's commands, infected in himself, with the occult plague of his carnal concupiscence, all who come from his stock. Hence entirely, and from no other cause, does the apostle say, "By one man," etc. Augustine understood the one man to be Adam; and the death, bodily death. Before the verb passed through (pertransivit), he supplied sin and death, because he could not think of punishment without crime. Op. Imp. II. 63. The phrase in whom (in quo, ___ _), which he chose to refer to Adam, took literally, and supposed by it, that we all existed in Adam, and therefore sinned by him. C. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 4. "By the evil will of that individual," says Augustine in quoting that passage from Paul, "all men sinned in him, as all were that one, from whom every individual has consequently derived original sin to himself." De Nupt. et Conc. II. 5. "In that one all have sinned, as all died in him. For those who were to be many in themselves out of him, were then one in him. That sin, therefore, would be his only, if no one had proceeded from him. But now no one is free from his fault, in whom was the common nature." Ep. 186. c. 6. According to the second canon of the general council at Carthage, 418, the Augustinian explanation of that passage of Paul, was even declared the orthodox explanation, by which explanation it contained a proof of original sin.
From the comparison, also, which Paul instituted in the following verses, between the consequences of Adam's sin and Christ's merits, Augustine argued in support of his original sin, the guilt of the Adamitic sin (reus peccati Adamitici). "Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even in those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." These words Augustine explained thus: The imputation of Adam's sin concerned those too who had not sinned, like Adam, by their own will, and transgressed a command of God. Or he would even understand it thus, (which explanation he declares, in another place, to be still better): The imputation of Adam's sin concerns also those before the law, who had not sinned, "because there was in their members the likeness of Adam's transgression;" so that the words, in the likeness of Adam's transgression, contained the reason why death has reigned even over those who were not sinners, i.e., even those who had not intentionally sinned. Transgression (praevaricatio) he took, as did Julian, for violation of law, and regarded it as one "species of sin so that sin (peccatum) indicates the genus, and transgression (praevaricatio), one species of sin.
This transgression, in addition to original sin, must first have Occurred after the Mosaic law. For this view, he appealed to Rom. 4:15: "Where there is no law, there is no transgression." Op. Imp. II. 217, 218. Comp. 185. Consequently, a transgression was indeed committed by Adam, (who violated, not a written command, but one given immediately by God), and by those who lived after the Mosaic law, but not by those who lived between Adam and Moses.
The variation of many Latin and some Greek manuscripts, which, without the negative read, who sinned, caused Augustine no difficulty. For even then, the passage contained for him a good proof of the imputation of Adam's sin. He explained it thus: "Who sinned in him, that they should be created like him, as men from man, so sinners from a sinner, those who were to die from one who was to die, those condemned from one condemned."
And these other assertions of the apostle, too, "For the offence of one, many are dead; judgment by one to condemnation; for one's offence death reigned by one; by one's offence unto all men to condemnation," these, to Augustine, were illustrious proof-texts from which to educe his original sin, to which all men are subject and by which all deserve damnation. De Pec. Mer. I. 11 sqq. Ep. 157. c. 3.
Also the words in Gen. 2:17, In the day ye eat of it, (i.e., of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), ye shall die the death, which he referred (De Civ. Dei, XIII. 12) as well to temporal as to spiritual and eternal death, contained in his view a proof that the necessity for temporal death for men entered when Adam sinned, and on this account he was excluded from the tree of life. Op. Imp. VI. 30. God could not say to the sinner, "Earth thou art and to earth shalt thou go," if he would have died as to the body without transgression. I. 68; VI. 23, 27. Also from Rom. 8:10, "The body is dead because of sin, and the spirit is life. because of righteousness," Augustine inferred that bodily death is a consequence of Adam's sin, which God annexed as a punishment. De Pec. Mer. I. 4. He however allows (Retract. I. 26), that he earlier understood this passage wrong, and afterwards discovered, that the body is called dead, because it now has a necessity of dying which it had not before sin." With this he compares 1 Cor. 15:21, 22. "By one man death, and by one man the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive," and other declarations of the apostle pertaining to this topic. Ep. 157. C. 3.
For the pains of parturition as a punishment of Adam's sin, he refers to Gen. 3:16. "Multiplying I will multiply thy sorrows;" and this he explains as meaning, "I will cause them to be many." Op. Imp. VI. 25, 26.
Further, in support of his theory of original sin and of the moral freedom of the will as lost by Adam's fall and of evil passions remaining to be resisted after repentance, Augustine adduces Rom. 7:14-25. To Paul as speaking in the name of himself and the saints who contended against fleshly lusts, he refers the whole passage, and particularly the words, "I am carnal, sold under sin--for I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good. I see another law in my members, warring against the law or my mind and leading me captive under the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man, who shall deliver me from the body of this death." Still here, too, Augustine does not deny, that he once misunderstood this passage and referred it to impenitent men, of whom and of himself in his impenitent state, Paul thus expressed himself. C. Jul. VI. 23; EI). 157. c. 3; Retract. I. 26; II. 1. The words, body of this death, he also refers to the necessity of death, which is a punishment of Adam's sin, a disease which we contract at our generation. De Gen. ad Lit. IX. 10.
The objection which might be brought against the justice of his representation of the entire destitution of good in man, from the words, "To will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I find not," he endeavored to avoid by indeed a rather forced interpretation of his. To perform good, he explained, to be free from all lusts. "Perfect good" he considered as consisting in there being no evil desire at all, but "imperfect good" in our not following an existing evil desire. But the willing was an effect of preceding grace. Op. Imp. VI. 9. According to this exposition, then, Paul said: "I am not indeed subject to base desire, but the base desire itself is not extinguished." The declaration in verse 15, "What I do, I know not," Augustine explained by, "What I do, I approve not, consent not to." De Nupt. et Conc. 1. 29; C. d. Epp. Pel. 1. 10, 11. From the words "Wretched man I," he argued against the Pelagians, that before Adam's sin, there was no concupiscence. Op. Imp. VI. 14.
The passage in Eph. 2:3, "We were by nature children of wrath even as others," could not but be very welcome to him. Punishment must presuppose guilt; and whence could this be by nature, if it came not from Adam? With this passage, he connected many parallel passages, even from the Old Testament apocrypha, from which to prove that we are all subject to the wrath of God through Adam's sin. "Of this wrath," says the prophet Jeremiah, "cursed be the day in which I was born." "Of this wrath," said the holy Job, "Perish the day in which I was born. Of this wrath, said he again (c. xiv), For man born of a woman, is of short life and full of irascibility. Like a flower of the grass, he doth fall; and like a shadow he fleeth and shall not stand. Hast thou not also caused his care, and made him to enter into judgment in thy sight? For who shall be pure from filth? not even one, though his life on earth be but of one day. Of this wrath, says the book of Ecclesiasticus, All flesh waxeth old like a garment; for it is the decision from of old (testamentum a saeculo), thou shalt die the death. And it likewise says, The commencement of sin is from the woman, and on account of her, we all die. And in another place: Great occupation is created for every man and a heavy yoke upon the sons of Adam, from the day of exit from their mother's belly to the day of burial in the mother of all. Of this wrath Ecclesiastes says, Vanity of vanities, and all things are vanity. What abundance to man in all his labor in which he labors under the sun? Of this wrath is the apostolical declaration, Every creature is subject to vanity. From this wrath of God, no one is freed if he is not reconciled to God by the Mediator. Hence even the Mediator himself says," (properly, however, John the Baptist), "He that believeth not the Son, shall not have life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. Of this the Apostle speaks when he says, When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; much more, being justified now by his blood, we shall be safe from wrath by him," etc. C. Jul. VI, 24. Besides those already quoted; he adduced as proof passages for original sin (De Nupt. et Conc. II. 29), Ex. 20:5; Ps. 51:7; 144:4; 39:6; Zech. 3:4; (De Pec. Mer. II. 3), Ps. 143:2, "No one living shall be justified in thy sight." Augustine even found a proof for original sin in the children of the Sodomites being consumed with the parents, and in God's sometimes commanding the destruction of children with their parents. Op. Imp. VI. 23; IV. 128.
As proof of the corrupt state of man's nature being propagated by generation, Augustine employed a passage from the Book of Wisdom, (12:10, 11), the authority of which he defended against the objections of the Massiliens. "For if the seed itself is not corrupted, why is it said, in the Book of Wisdom, Not being ignorant that their nation is vile, and their wickedness natural, and that their thought could not be changed forever; for their seed was cursed from the beginning?" De Nupt. et Conc. II. 8. Here, as well as in Op. Imp. III. 11; IV. 129, he refers the expressions natural wickedness and seed cursed from the beginning, to man's nature being corrupted by Adam's sin and propagated by generation.
Also circumcision under the Old Testament, which Augustine regarded as a sacrament which baptism supplied the place of in the New Testament, was a proof to him of original sin. "To perish from his people," in Gen. 17:14, he understood of eternal damnation. Such a punishment should not have been affixed to the neglect of circumcision on the eighth day, if human nature had not been corrupt. De Pec. Orig. 30. Comp. c. Jul. VI. 7; Op. Imp. 11. 201.
That man's freewill was lost by Adam's sin, Augustine endeavored to prove from John 8:36, "If the Son shall make you free, then ye shall be free indeed. How can Julian attribute to freewill the power of living right, since the sons of men do not live right, unless they become the sons of God?" Op. Imp. 1. 94. Near this, he refers to Rom. 6:20 sq: "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit therefore had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now, freed from sin, but made the servants of God, ye have your fruit in sanctification, and the end eternal life." And also, John 1:12, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." Here he indulged the remark, destructive of all freewill, "In a good man, nothing can be free, if the Redeemer does not make it free. A bad man, on the contrary, possesses freewill for evil." Augustine also inferred the want of freewill from the words of Paul, Rom. 7:15, 19, "I do not what I will, but what I hate I do. I do not the good which I will, but the evil which I will not, that I do." Op. Imp. 1. 91. To Augustine, who knew not how to enter into the language and spirit of the ancient world, Old Testament passages, in which all the intentions and acts of men are referred immediately to God, must have contained the total annihilation of human freedom. De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 20.
That concupiscence is evil, Augustine sought to prove, in opposition to Julian, from 1 John 2:16, where it is said, "The concupiscence of the flesh is not from the Father." Op. Imp. IV. 69.
So much for the scripture proofs which Augustine used for the purpose of establishing from the Bible his theory of original sin and the loss of freewill by the fall. But he also called experience to his help in proving both the moral and physical ruin of man. "Why is the nature of mortals more inclined to sin, if original sin has done nothing?" Op. Imp. V. 48. "When you (Julian) say, that no sin is to be imputed to infants, you make God unjust, who has imposed a heavy yoke upon them from the day of exit from the mother's belly. Which if the scriptures had not said, yet who is so blind in mind as not to see, that the misery of the human race begins with the weepings of infancy?" II. 119. "Your God, therefore, by so many and so great evils which children suffer, will lose either justice or omnipotence or the very care of human affairs." I. 49.
And to the philosophic mind, Augustine also endeavored to make intelligible the possibility of the propagation of Adam's sin to his posterity; and this partly by allowing original sin to be propagated by concupiscence, and partly by assuming, that we all existed in Adam, or as he also expressed himself, in allusion to Heb. 7:10, all were in the loins of Adam. Of concupiscence, we have already spoken minutely. Respecting the view of an existence of the whole human race in Adam, (in which Augustine was perhaps confirmed by the assumption of the realists of the universal idea, "human nature"), a few of the weightier passages from his writings, deserve here to be quoted.
[It has been urged that, in philosophy, Augustine belonged to the school of the realists, who held "that all abstract conceptions have something in actual existence which corresponds to them," that he derived such views from the Platonic writers, of whom he had been so fond, and that this system of philosophy had a material effect in leading him to the notion of the whole human race, or the whole of "human nature," as existing in Adam, in a generic way, or according to the "universal idea" of man. See Ch. Spec. IV. 291. TR.]
"In Adam all have sinned, as all were that one man." De Pec. Mer. I. 10. "Those are not condemned who have not sinned, since that sin has passed from one to all, in which one all have sinned in common, previously to the personal sins of each one as an individual." Ep. 194, C. 6. "In respect to the origin of the seed from which all were to spring, all were in that individual, and all these were he, none of whom as yet existed individually. Agreeably to this seminal origin, Levi is also said to have been in the loins of his father Abraham. When in respect to his substance, he did not yet exist, still, as respects the relation of seed, it is not falsely nor idly said, that he was there and was tithed," etc. Op. Imp. IV. 104. "In respect to seed, all were in the loins of Adam when he was condemned, and hence he was not condemned without them." V. 12. We all, who were to spring from Adam by fleshly lust, were in the loins of Adam. Hence Augustine also said that, "by right of semination and germination," Adam's sin is ours. I. 48. "What is done in each one by the force of habit, (which some of the learned have said is according to nature), is done by the penal force of that highest and greatest sin of the first man, in all who were in his loins and were to spring from his concupiscence, seeing the human race are propagated." V. 59. "When that pair received the divine sentence of condemnation, the whole human race were in the first man, which by the woman were to pass into posterity; and what the man became, not in consequence of his creation but of his sin and punishment, that he begat, so far as the origin of sin and death is concerned." De Civ. Dei, XIII. 3. "We were all in that one, as we were all that one who fell into sin by the woman, who was made from him before sin. Not as yet was the form created and distributed to us singly, in which we were individually to live; but the nature was now seminal, from which we were to be propagated. This being now vitiated on account of sin and bound by the chain of death and justly condemned, man of a different condition was not to be born of man. And accordingly, from the bad use of freewill, has arisen the series of this calamity, which, by a connection of miseries, is leading the human race from a depraved origin, as from a corrupt root, to the destruction of the second death, which has no end except for those only who are freed by the grace of God." XIII. 14. What else is every earthly man, as to his origin, but Adam Retract. 1. 15.
How unsatisfactory, however, is the assumption of our sinning in Adam, how absurd to admit a sin before there was a will, or to admit a will before the person existed to possess it, was most strikingly shown by Julian. Op. Imp. IV. 104.
On the supposition that we all existed in Adam, the philosophical question could not be overlooked respecting the origin and propagation of the soul. How Augustine, being here perplexed by the objections of the Pelagians, preferred to assume the part of an inquirer, and not to declare himself dogmatically, as at other times he was so ready to do, we have already seen in Chap. VII. But to which hypothesis Augustine inclined, and must incline, according to the spirit of his system, must here be shown somewhat more particularly.
The soul either exists before its union with the body (preexistentism), or it is created by God at the same time with the body (creationism or coexistentism), or it springs from physical generation (traducianism, evolution system). These are the three principal hypotheses on the origin of the soul, each of which had its advocates and its opponents before and at the time of Augustine.
That the soul exists before its union with the body was a notion commonly attributed by the fathers to Origen. Augustine could not possibly have relished it; and it must also have been generally offensive to the orthodoxy of that time, because presented as the opinion of Origen. In his book on freewill (III. 20, 21), Augustine does not indeed directly reject the opinion of the soul's existing somewhere before its connection with the body, but leaves the truth of it undecided. Comp. Ep. 143; 166. C. 3; De Gen. ad Lit. VI. 9. But in Ep. 217. C. 5, he represents the rejection of preexistentism as a principle of the catholic church. In Ep. 190. C. 1, he declares against the opinion that the human soul comes into this corruptible body as a punishment for a bad life already led: "For the apostle says (Rom. 9:11), while speaking of the twins of Rebecca, that they, not yet born, had neither done good nor evil." This opinion of the body as a prison for the soul on account of transgressions committed before their union, Augustine also rejects in Ep. 164. C. 7; 166. C. 9. As, then, he rejected the preexistence of the soul, he could not have regarded it as a part of Deity. "We do not believe it to be a part but a creature of God." Ep. 190. C. I; Ad Orosium contra Priscillianistas et Originistas, C. 2, 4; De Civ. Dei, X. 31; De Gen. ad Lit. VII. 1.
The creation of the soul at the same time with the body (creationism), he with Jerome was shy of admitting, as then the condemnation of infants dying before baptism, and having committed no sin, seemed to him unjust, and he became, embarrassed with his original sin. His language to Oceanus (Ep. 180. §2), is remarkable: "It is justly asked, (provided it is true that a new soul is created out of nothing for each child that is born), how such an innumerable multitude of infant souls, which God knows will leave the body without baptism before the years of understanding, and before they can comprehend or do anything just or unjust, should righteously he consigned to damnation, by him with whom there is no unrighteousness. On this point, it is not necessary to say more, since you know what I would, or rather what I would not say. What I have said, I think to he enough to a wise man." In Ep. 166, Augustine sets forth minutely and strongly the difficulties that lie in creationism, particularly in regard to original sin, which he considered as immovable. Why are so many thousand infant souls lost, that die without the indulgence of baptism? Whence, in the case of the death of the newborn infant, has the soul brought on itself the guilt by which it is eternally damned? Where, whence, or when have the souls of infants begun to have the desert of damnation, if they are new, unless you would make God, (or else a nature which God has not created), either the author of their sins or of the damnation of the innocent?" Ep. 190. c. 4. Comp. De Gen. ad Lit. X., which was written long before the commencement of the Pelagian controversies.
To the traducianism of the soul, (which was admitted by Tertullian and, according to Jerome's account, Ep. 126, by most of the oriental bishops), Augustine did not indeed directly subscribe, because he could not escape the difficulties that beset it, especially in regard to materialism. Ep. 190. c. 4. But how strongly he was inclined to this, may be seen from the words already quoted from his epistle to Oceanus. And certainly the Augustinian original sin can be more easily comprehended, if we allow nothing in man but what has sprung from the seed of Adam, than if, with the creationists, we suppose the soul created by God out of nothing at the time when it is clothed with the body. How could Adam's guilt be imputed to the soul, if it in no manner originated from Adam, but was newly created by God in each instance? Indeed, by his theory of the propagation of sin by generation (peccatum ex traduce), and by which he would consequently regard physical generation as a moral evil, Augustine could scarcely think at all of the propagation of the soul otherwise than by generation. He allowed, as above shown, the poison of sin to be communicated through sensual lust in coition. But surely the poison of sin could not be communicated, in any conceivable way, to the body, but only to the soul. Hence he says (De Anima et ejus Origine, I. 13), "We ask, why the soul is condemned to receive original sin, if the soul is not derived from that one soul which sinned in the first father of the human race?" In this sense, he declared before, (De Gen. ad Lit. X. 23): I should regard the reasons for both opinions (creationism and traducianism), as equal, if infant baptism did not give the preponderance to the opinion, that souls are begotten by the parents. Comp. 11. He however allows that the propagation of souls by generation, cannot be proved from the Bible. De Pec. Mer. III. 10; De An. et ejus Orig. I. 18; Ep. 194. But he also shows (Ep. 19), that creationism can no more be proved from the Bible; and particularly in opposition to Vincentius Victor (De AD. et ej. Orig. I.), he shows that the passages of the Bible which the latter had adduced against the propagation of the soul by generation, do not prove the point.
Finally, Augustine everywhere maintained the immateriality of the soul, in the strongest terms, together with its immortality. Nay, he even wrote four books On the Soul and its Origin, in which he assailed the materialism of the soul which Victor defended. In this work, he established its incorporeal nature; respecting which he explains himself, in order to avoid all logomachy, in the second chapter of Ep. 166. If one would call that a body which exists by itself, or is a substance, or would confine the idea of the incorporeal to the immutable, then he conceded that the soul is to be denominated a body. But he denied to the soul all those attributes which pertain to bodies in the visible world. The soul has its own peculiar nature, which is constituted of a substance more noble than the elements of the mass of the world. It cannot be truly conceived of under the idea of corporeal images which we receive by the senses; but can only be understood through the mind and felt through the life.
Whether, however, the immateriality of the soul, as Augustine conceived of it, was anything but a more refined materialism, is a question which cannot be directly answered in the negative. For, (to adduce only one passage, from Ep. 190. 4), he doubted "utrum senen animae sua quadam occulta et invisibili via seorsum ex patre currat in matrem cum fit conceptus in femina." This seems to lead to a "spiritual substance" which afterwards had so many defenders among the scholastics--an idea of a spirituality which, however refined, always savored of materialism! Besides, that an idea of a spiritual substance (materia spiritualis), as Augustine called it, was not strange to him, may be seen from De Gen. ad tit. VII. 6 sq., where he shows its difficulty.
By the assumption therefore of the propagation of original sin by sensual lust and of an existence of the whole human race in Adam, Augustine endeavored to render the possibility of the propagation of his original sin, comprehensible to the philosophic mind. He also found an example in experience, as bodily diseases are propagated from parents to children, and it may be said of the latter that they are recompensed with these diseases. "If anyone," says Augustine, "brings the gout upon himself by intemperance and transmits the same to his children, as often happens, is it not properly said that this vice passes into them from the parent? and that they also did this in the parent (ipsos quoque hoc in parente fecisse)? because when he did it [i.e., contracted the gout by intemperance], they were in him and so they and he were as yet one. "They therefore did it, not by action as individual men, but as already acting seminally (fecerunt et-go, non actione hominum, sed ratione jam seminum). That, therefore, which is occasionally found in diseases of the body, took place in that ancient and great sin of the one progenitor, by which human nature was corrupted. This He knew to have been done who said, (by the clearest declaration, which you strive to obscure), By one man sin entered into the world," etc. Op. Imp. 11. 177. Augustine also thought it not improbable that the sins of ancestors universally are imputed to their descendants. Enchir. c. 46, 47.
[On so startling a topic as the one brought to view in the last quotation, and still more strongly in the last remark of our author, the reader may well demand a further citation of Augustine's own language. And this I shall give a little more fully than is needful barely for this topic, as additional light will thus be reflected on some other questions, and also on Augustine's general mode of thinking.
In the passage last referred to, he says: "In that one sin, (which has entered the world by one man and passed into all men, and on account of which infants are baptized), many sins may be understood, if this one be divided as it were into its several members. For there is also pride there, because man delighted rather in his own authority than that of God; and impiety (sacrilegium), because he did not believe God; and homicide, because he plunged himself into death; and spiritual fornication, because the integrity of the human mind was corrupted by serpentine suasion; and theft, because the forbidden food was taken; and avarice, because he sought more than ought to satisfy him; and whatever else may be found, on diligent consideration, in this one offence. And it is not without probability said (non improbabiliter dicitur), that children are also liable (obligari) for the sins, not only of the first pair, but also of those from whom they are born. For, that divine sentence, I will visit the sins of the parents upon the children, certainly holds them before they begin by regeneration to belong to the New Testament: which Testament was predicted when it was said by Ezekiel, that the children should not receive the sins of their fathers, nor should there be any longer that parable in Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, etc. For each one is regenerated in order that he may be absolved from whatever of sin is born with him. But sins which are afterwards committed by wrong doing, may he healed by repentance, just as we also see to take place after baptism. And accordingly regeneration was instituted only because generation is vicious; and that so far, that one even born in lawful wedlock, could say, In iniquities was I conceived and in sins did my mother nourish me in the womb. Nor did he say, In iniquity or sin, though this also might be truly said; but he preferred to say, In iniquities and sins. Because in that one which finds passed into all men, and is so great that by it human nature is changed and converted to the necessity of death, are found, as shown above, many sins. And other sins of parents, thought they cannot thus change nature, yet bind the children in guilt, unless free grace and divine compassion relieve them. But respecting the sins of the other parents, the progenitors from Adam down to one's own immediate father, it may not improperly be debated, whether the child is implicated in the evil acts and multiplied, original faults of all, so that each one is the worse in proportion as he is the later; or that, in respect to the sins of their parents, God threatens posterity to the third and fourth generation, because, by the moderation of his compassion, he does not further extend his anger in respect to the faults of progenitors, lest those on whom the grace of regeneration is not conferred, should be pressed with too heavy a load in their own eternal damnation, if they were compelled to contract, by way of origin (originaliter), the sins of all their preceding parents from the commencement of the human race, and to suffer the punishment due for them. Whether, on so great a subject, anything else can or cannot be found, by a more diligent reading and scrutiny of the scriptures, I dare not hastily affirm!"
And here, indeed, we might well suppose the good father, consecutive and undaunted as he generally was, must be brought to the solemn and fearful pause in which this extract leaves him. There are also other grounds of hesitation in addition to this frightful accumulation of guilt and woe. For this consecutive reasoner would here have to reflect on the principle upon which alone he considered us justly liable at all for Adam's first offence, namely, that we acted in him, and therefore the guilt is truly ours. No "foreign sins" are imputed, was his steady and indignant reply to that perpetual objection to imputation. Of course, then, if we are to bear the sins of our immediate ancestors, it must be, in his view, on the ground of our existing in them and sinning with them, just as we existed in Adam and shared in his first transgression. And so in fact he did view the case as appears from his declaration in respect to inheriting the gout, etc. And if this is true of our more immediate ancestors, those of the last three or four generations, it is equally true of the whole line from Adam to us. How, then, could God pardon any portion of this mass of our transgression, without a compliance in the individual with any of the conditions of pardon. And again if he could remit some sins because the mass was so great, why not all, so far as principle is concerned? and thus we be absolved from the guilt of even the original sin itself.
This was one hard and complicated difficulty involved in the fearful premises. But there would be found yet another. For if we have really been sinning in our ancestors from generation to generation, we must have been sinning, not merely in one, but in many persons at the same time. For, as a man has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grand-parents, etc., the time was when each one of us was at the same instant in a great many places and committing sins in the persons of a great many individuals. How strange a view must this have presented to Augustine of that doctrine of the traducianism of the soul, which has before been noticed. as meeting with at least some favorable regard from him; the soul in its descent from Adam, divided into so many parts--and these all to meet again, at the proper time and in their own destined body, to constitute "the individual" person and to "live their own life!"
Nor was this all which might well hold Augustine in check, at such a stage in the theory then before his mind. The fearful matter which he more distinctly notices, is the amount of sin and woe thus resting, if all unremitted, on a single soul. Fearful thought For, as Augustine himself had doubtless eight great-grand-parents, so, tracing back his pedigree for only thirty generations or one thousand years, according to this law of geometrical progression, he would find, theoretically, a single generation of his own ancestors amounting to no less than 1,099,958,224, and himself accumulating all the sin which they were committing from day to day. Theoretyically, I say, his progenitors might amount to that number, if so many progenitors were then on earth. Suppose him, however, to make all due allowance for the actual deviations from this law of geometrical progression in the case (and from the fact that so many never lived at one time) but, on the other hand, to carry back the series to the time of the building of Babel--and might he not well fear he should find about the whole weight of that tower of guilt, resting on himself!
Nor is this all. For what would rest on him, would likewise press, with all its force, on every other descendant of those impious builders, increased, too, by all the other sins that would thus come on each one from his whole line of ancestry.
And again; one would have, as he turned his eye on his own posterity, to regard every sin that himself committed, as virtually committed by each one that should ever descend from him--millions upon millions as they might become--and his own repentance could not stop the descending tide!
All this might indeed be regarded by Augustine as showing the frightful nature of sin--or rather of that "law of sin and death" which his theory assumed. But still no one can wonder that he should here pause and tremble, and finally leave the question with out daring positively to affirm that each impenitent sinner will actually have to bear forever the concentrated guilt of all the millions of his progenitors. Nevertheless Augustine appears to have had no doubt that this whole guilt actually belongs to each, and that it will be through the mere mercy of God if each one does not have to suffer to the full extent.
But while such appears to have been the view of Augustine on this fearful topic, as is sufficiently manifest from the passages already cited and a few others which might be adduced, still it is a topic on which he by no means delighted to dwell, and which he but rarely mentions. Perhaps he did not, in this connection, extend his contemplations on the law of consanguinity so as to see how, on his theory, a single individual might be the child of a whole nation, and thus concentrate in himself all the guilt which that nation had committed some ages back; and again, how he might become in turn the father of that nation, some ages forward, and thus pour the whole tide or his collected guilt into its future millions: or, how baneful would be the intermarriage of a single foreigner, thus diffusing the guilt of his whole race through another whole race: or how, (if it is the duty of men to prevent instead of increasing even those sins which possibly God in his compassion may not punish), it would be. come a duty of the highest order to restrict intermarriages to the nearest possible kindred, and thus brutalize mankind: or, finally, how it would, if universally adopted, even extinguish our race by the force it would lead to the doctrine of universal celibacy.
However much Augustine would favor the celibacy of the clergy, and of a portion of the rest of the human race for monks and nuns, he would be horror-struck at the thought that marriage itself should cease and man become extinct in the world. And equally revolting to his mind would be the thought that our race should be continued only as the "seed of evil doers." But why would not his doctrine of the propagation or sin, especially on this great scale, make it virtually the greatest possible crime against God, for one knowingly and intentionally to be the means of adding another human being to the long line of his sinful race and thus, by this very addition, to double as it were the whole amount of sin which himself had either committed or inherited. If sin is really an evil at all, aside from the punishment that it actually brings, or in other words, if it really deserves any punishment, and if it is only the mercy of God which spares the impenitent from any part of the accumulation, it must certainly be a sin in us thus to multiply its amount. And this, too, is in exact accordance with Augustine's own principle as clearly stated in a passage before cited, where he attempts to show that God's justice is different from human justice and that it is right in God not to prevent sin; though wrong in us not to prevent it when we have the power.
The consideration here adduced is entirely distinct from that sin of sensual concupiscence, of which Augustine says so much: and coming in addition to that sin, what wonder is it that celibacy should increase under the auspices of such a twofold doctrine in its favor? and, on the other hand, what wonder that an age of celibacy should be peculiarly favorable to the spread of such doctrine? though the spirit of monkery was adverse to the assumption of human impotency to virtue.
I have suggested above, that Augustine might consider his view of this boundless increase of sin, as showing the frightful nature of sin itself, or rather of that supposed law by which sin multiplies and pours itself through our race. And truly it is a shocking view. But a topic so deeply practical cannot be dismissed without one further inquiry. What is the precise influence of such a view on him who cherishes it? Is he in fact thus brought to regard sin as morally a more odious and bitter thing? and really more deserving of punishment? Or, while overwhelmed with the magnitude and complication of its baneful workings, and his attention diverted and absorbed in the attempt to comprehend this strange and mysterious mode of ante-natal sinning, does not his perception of the very nature of sin as a moral evil, become obscure and wavering? and consequently feeble as to its appropriate office, that of heartfelt conviction and evangelical repentance? And while he may still perhaps say truly, that he has a deeper and more dismaying view of sin as an inconceivably great evil, has he either so just or so salutary a view of its moral turpitude? And has he so proper or even so strong a view of the need of a Savior in order to its pardon? or of the necessity of those conditions of pardon which God has propounded? And one question more--was it not from this very source, that such a man as Augustine himself, and in this same connection, was led to think it possible that God should pass by infinitely the greater number of a reprobate's ante-natal sins, without those conditions of faith and repentance, and consequently, in his view, without any reference to the merits of Christ?
But the mind of Augustine, as above noticed, seemed instinctively to recoil from the full contemplation and positive avowal of all the consequences which his theory involved. And it was doubtless well, so far as the effect on himself was concerned, that it did so recoil. But the view he did take and the consequences which he distinctly avowed, were enough to make him shudder; and enough, likewise, to make one of the grand pillars, in another part of his system, to totter. For, though consistent and courageous as he so generally was, he was here led, at least for the moment, to relax his grasp on the fundamental position he had so often avowed, that God can suffer no sin at all to go unpunished, except on the conditions propounded in the gospel.
But still was there not possibly a more excellent way? and might not a little more of this same excellent courage and honesty, have found that way? just as enough of these good qualities might timely arrest the schemes of a virtual bankrupt. For, how much better would it have been, had he contemplated the whole subject fully; and then, instead of wavering on this point, had abandoned, as no longer tenable, the theory from which such consequences flow--the theory of moral guilt as propagated by generation and of our existing and sinning in our ancestors. He might still have held firmly to our connection with Adam in such a way that, in consequence of his fall, we become sinners, and are even born with a propensity to sin.
My apology for the length of this presentation of Augustine's views, is the relative importance of the topic and the chasm which would otherwise be left in the history. Nothing can ultimately be gained to the cause of sound doctrine, by suffering any part of its history to lie in obscurity; and the least of all can be hoped by closing our eyes to the real difficulties into which its best but still imperfect advocates have fallen.
It will be noticed, as we now proceed with our author, that the comparison implied in the first sentence of the next paragraph, refers only to the view which himself had given of the topics here under discussion. TR.]
But there was still a much more difficult point in Augustine's theory of original sin. The moral as well as the physical punishment of Adam's sin, was a naturally necessary consequence of it. The kind of transgression did not involve in itself such a moral and physical deterioration of the whole race, but each was a positive punishment which God appointed for Adam and all his posterity; a curse inflicted by him upon all men, and by which they all came under the power of the devil.
To this view a sound philosophy cannot possibly subscribe. It seems to contain a manifest impeachment of the holiness and justice of God. For the transgression of a single individual, that the whole human race, even if supposed to exist in Adam, should be given up to the dominion of the devil and thus the whole mass doomed to moral and physical corruption, is in fact something in the highest degree shocking to the moral sense of man! But here even, Augustine sought an escape for the philosophical mind, though in a most unsatisfactory way.
Of the seduction of Eve by the devil--for with all his Christian contemporaries, he regarded the serpent as the devil--he gave a one-sided view, such as had already been adopted by many of the earlier fathers. By the seduction of Eve, the devil was supposed to have acquired a right to man by which he was subjected to his dominion. This acquired right of satan's God, if he would not be unjust, could not impair. He could not rescue them by force from his dominion, which brought so great a calamity upon them. It was only through Christ's suffering for men, that the perfect right of the devil was canceled; and only by his death could the men destined to salvation be delivered from the devil's dominion, without doing injustice to the devil.
Hence, in the pieces against the Pelagians, once and again is mention made of the rightful power of the devil over men in their natural state, e.g., the passage already quoted in C. V. from De Nupt. et Conc. 1. 23. The devil was even the author of Adam's sin. Op. Imp. IV. 120. But nowhere is Augustine's view of this "acquired right" of the devil over men, more plainly declared than in his earlier work on freewill (111. 10), although mingled with many ideas which were differently represented by him during the Pelagian disputes.
It is there said among other things: "There are two sources of sin, one in spontaneous thought, the other in the persuasion of another. Each is voluntary; for as one does not sin unwillingly (invitus) from his own thought, so when he consents to one tempting him, he does not consent except by volition. Still it is more grievous to sin, not only by one's own thought with no enticer, but even to persuade another to sin through envy and deceit, than to be led to sin by another's enticement. The justice of an avenging God, is therefore preserved in both sins. For even this is decided by the scrutiny of equity, that man should not be denied to the power of the devil himself, who had subjected him to himself by enticement. For it was unjust that he should not rule over him whom he had taken. Nor can it possibly be that the perfect justice of the supreme and true God, which extends everywhere, should cease from superintending the ruin of sinners. And yet, as man had sinned less than the devil, this very circumstance has been useful to him in recovering salvation, that he was consigned to the prince of this world--the prince of all sinners, and the king of death as respects the mortality of the flesh, [as this would check and humble him]. For who so much needs mercy as the wretched? And who so unworthy of it as the proud sufferer? And the word of God, the only begotten Son of God, being clothed with humanity, subjugated to man even the devil himself, whom he always had and will have under his laws; wresting nothing from him by violent domination, but overcoming him by the law of righteousness. So that, as the woman was deceived and the man overthrown through the woman, the devil, while his power remained, by a malicious love of injuring, indeed, but yet by the most perfect right, punished the whole progeny of Adam as sinning according to the laws of death, until he slew the Just One in whom he could show nothing worthy of death, not only as he was slain without any crime, but as he was born without lust. To this lust he had subjugated those he had taken; so that whoever was thence born, he should retain, as the fruit of his own tree, by a corrupt desire of having, indeed, but by no unjust right of possession. Most justly therefore was he compelled to surrender those who believe in him whom he most unrighteously slew. But those whom he persuades to persevere in unbelief, he will justly have with him as companions in perpetual damnation. Thus it comes to pass, that man is not rescued from the devil by force, nor did he take him by force but by persuasion: and he who is justly more humbled that he should serve him to whom he consented in evil, is justly freed by him to whom he consents in good; for the one has sinned less in consenting than the other in persuading to evil."
In a later work, finished during the Pelagian controversy, (De Trin. XIII. 13 sq.) Augustine maintains at large, that the devil had to be vanquished by way of right and not by power, because he rightfully held those in chains whom, as guilty of sin, he had
involved in the condition of death. He there quotes, as proofs that the elect are freed by Christ from the power of the devil, several passages of scripture, as Col. 1:13, "Who delivered us from the power (potestate) of darkness," etc. Comp. De Nupt. et Conc. 1. 20; De Trin. IV. 13, where it is said, "The devil possessed man, whom he had seduced with his consent, by a complete right (integro jure)."
As Augustine had now proved his chief doctrine of original sin, he needed no particular proofs for his other doctrines, for they were necessary consequences from that one established principle. The necessity of infant baptism "for the remission of sins," appeared plain from the universality of original sin, because, in consequence of the imputation, salvation could not otherwise be imparted to children. Without this baptism, they, like all who are not Christians, must be eternally damned. As man was by nature totally corrupt and subject to punishment, he must first be freed from the guilt and punishment of sin, and this, baptism was to effect. Hence, in order to prove that infants, dying before baptism, are eternally damned, Augustine employed those passages of scripture which he was accustomed to quote as proofs of original sin. Ep. 157. C. 3.
As man by nature is so ruined through Adam's sin, that he cannot but sin, and has therefore no freewill, he must be renewed by the irresistible influence of God's spirit, if he is ever to be saved. The bestowment of this influence must again be founded on an unconditional predestination on God's part, as nothing at all can be said of merit in so corrupt a race of men, and hence no moral reason can be discovered why one should be saved and another condemned. And on this account, Christ's redemption cannot be universal but must extend only to the elect.
Still, however, Augustine did seek to confirm his other doctrines by particular proofs, by which in turn the main doctrine of original sin received fresh support.
In order to prove that unbaptized children will be eternally punished, Augustine appealed to Mark 16:16, He that believeth not shall be damned. The want of faith is here assigned as the reason of condemnation. Unbaptized children cannot believe, but the baptized believe "by the hearts and mouths of those who present them." C. Jul. VI. 3. For children therefore to believe, is the same as to be baptized; and not to believe, the same as not to be baptized. De Pec. Mer. 1. 27.
From Rom. 6:3, Whoever of us have been baptized in Christ (in Christo), have been baptized in his death, he endeavored to show that the pardon of original sin is the object of infant baptism. The universality of the expression whoever, allowed of no exception for children. "To be baptized in the death of Christ," he explained by "to die to sin." And the sin of children, he regarded as original sin, since they could commit none of their own. C. Jul. VI. 3. In confirmation of his theory of infant baptism, he appealed further to the universality of Christ's declaration, John 3:5, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Also from the passages where it is said that Christ died for sinners, that one died for all, and especially from 2 Cor. 5:14, Because one died for all, therefore all were dead, and he died for all--he endeavored to prove, together with its universality, the pardon of original sin as the object of infant baptism. VI. 4.
Against the Pelagian view of a difference between salvation or eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, of which the former is to be awarded to unbaptized children, Augustine made several scripture declarations available. To these belong the passages, John 3:16, God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that every one who believeth on him should not perish, but should have eternal life (De Pec. Mer. I. 33) Titus 3:5, He hath saved us by the layer of regeneration (I. 18) John 3:36, He that believeth not the Son, shall not have life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (111. 2); 1 John 5:12, he that hath the son, hath life; and he that hath not the son, hath not life (I. 27). Here he remarked; "Children will not only not have the kingdom of heaven, but not even life, provided they have not the Son, whom they cannot have without his baptism." Here, from the connection in which the eucharist at his time stood with infant baptism, Augustine could likewise use the passages in which life is attributed to the supper as an effect, against the Pelagian doctrine respecting the object of infant baptism. Thus he quoted (De Pec. Mer. III. 4) John 6:53, Unless men eat his flesh, they will not have life. The first words he explained as meaning, "Unless they shall become partakers of the body of Christ. Does he, not plainly declare," continued he, "that infants not only cannot enter the kingdom of God, but cannot even have eternal life, without the body of Christ? to be incorporated with which, they must be imbued with the sacrament of baptism."
The doctrine of the damnation of unbaptized Christian children, in his view thus biblically established, now presented to Augustine a new and grand argument in support of his doctrine of original sin. "For what cause, with what justice, are children, if they believe not, condemned, provided they have no original sin in them?" C. Jul. VI. 3. And why are the gifts of grace, which are needful to salvation, denied to some children, if they have no original sin? Op. Imp. I. 53. Also in the customs of the church, of exorcism and afflation at baptism, Augustine found a proof of original sin and of the dominion of the devil over the unbaptized. A principal passage in this respect, is De Nupt. et Conc. 11. 29. Julian had complained, that his doctrine of original sin was Manichaeism. Augustine answered, that the rites of baptism, exorcism, and the blowing out of unclean spirits, were older than Manichaeism, so that the very mysteries of baptism proved that those children only were brought into the kingdom of Christ who were delivered from the dominion of darkness. To what purpose is exorcism in the case of the child who is to be baptized, (it is said, De Pec. Mer. 1. 34), if he is not enthralled in the family of the devil? God himself would be greatly offended, provided his own innocent image, not subject to the power of the devil, were exorcised and blown upon. Op. Imp. IV. 120. Julian accused, therefore, the catholic church of a treasonable offence against God. III. 299. Comp. 142, 144; De Pec. Orig. 40; Ep. 194. C. 10.
In like manner the "renunciation" was a proof to Augustine of original sin. "If the child to be baptized is to renounce sin, say, what sin?" Op. Imp. 11. 224; De Pec. Orig. 40.
The eucharist, connected with baptism, also afforded him such a proof. "Why is the blood, shed for the remission of sins, given to the child to drink, that he may have life, if he is subject to death by no hereditary sin?" Op. Imp. 11. 30.
In order further to confirm his theory of grace by particular proofs from the Bible, Augustine employed those passages of the Old and New Testaments in which all the good purposes and acts of man, as well as faith, are referred immediately to God as their author. Thus, besides those already quoted, he cited (Ep. 215), Prov. 4:27, according to the Septuagint, He shall make thy courses straight, he shall conduct thy journeying in peace; (De Praed. Sanct. 11), Ezek. 36:37, I will cause you to do; Rom. 8:14, As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God; 1 Cor. 12:11, All these things worketh one and the same spirit, dividing severally to each one as he will, on which Augustine remarked, that in all this the apostle meant faith; (Lib. Cit. c. 8), Ezek. 11:19, I will take away the stony heart and give the heart of flesh; (Op. Imp. 11. 157; C. d. Epp. Pel. 1. 18), Phil. 2:13, It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do according to his own good pleasure; (De Dono Persev. 20), Baruch 2:31, I will give them a heart for knowing me, and hearing ears; (De Haeres. 88), John 6:65, No one cometh unto me unless it be given him of my Father; 15:5, Without me ye can do nothing; (ib. and Ep. 188), Rom. 5:5, The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given unto us; (Ep. 176), Luke 22:32, I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; (Ep. 188), Matt. 19:11, All do not receive this saying, but they to whom it is given; Rom. 12:3, God imparteth to each the measure of faith; (De Dono Persev. 13), 2 Cor. 3:5, We are not able to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God; (Ep. 217), Ps. 37:23, The steps of man are directed by the Lord, and he shall will his way; (Ep. 194), 1 Cor. 7:25, I have obtained mercy to be faithful; Matt. 10:20, It is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you; Gal. 4:6, Because ye are sons, God hath sent the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father; (C. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 6), Jer. 32:40, 41, I will give my fear into their heart, that they may not depart from me, and I will visit them that I may make them good; (De Gest. Pel. 14), 1 Cor. 15:10, By the grace of God, I am what I am; (De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 8), Eph. 2:10, We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works which God hath prepared that we should walk in them; Ps. 51:12, Create in me a clean heart, O God; (C. d. Epp. Pel. 1. 3), Phil. 1:29, To you it is given, for Christ's sake, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him; Eph. 6:23, Peace to the brethren, and love from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; John 6:44, No one can come to me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him; (Op. Imp. III. 107), Malt. 26:41, Pray that ye enter not into temptation; (Ep. 179), 2 Cor. 13:7, We beseech God that ye may do no evil; (De Praed. Sanct. 2), Rom. 11:35, Who hath first given to him and it shall be recompensed to him? for of him and through him and in him are all things; (C. Jul. V. 4), 2 Tim. 2:25, 26, Lest God should perhaps give them repentance to the knowing of the truth and they should escape from the snares of the devil.
For his "preceding grace," Augustine further quoted particularly 1 John 4:19. "Grace precedes man, in order that he may love God, and by this love perform good works. This the apostle John shows most clearly when he says, "We love because he first loved us." Also Prov. 8:35, according to the Septuagint, The will is prepared by the Lord. Op. Imp. 1. 131, 134, 141. Against the Pelagian reference of the immediate effect of divine grace only to the understanding of man, Augustine cited (Haer. 88) 1 Cor. 8:1, Knowledge puffeth up but charity edifieth; and remarked, that the Pelagians held knowledge, which without love puffeth up, as a gift of God, but love itself they would not so regard.
Augustine also adduces the example of children who receive baptism, as a proof that grace is not imparted according to the merit of works nor according to the merit of the will. Ep. 217. C. 5. The free bestowment of grace is shown especially and incontrovertibly in children, many of whom, when they even resist with weeping, receive nevertheless the grace of baptism, and that though born of unbelievers; while others on the contrary, even children of believers, do not receive it. De Gr. et Lib. Arb. 22. that the conversion of man depends not on his will but on the supernatural grace of God, for this Augustine, in the same epistle, appealed to the prayer of the church for the conversion of unbelievers and her thanksgiving for their conversion. Perseverance to the end, he regarded as a grace of God, because the end of this life depends not on us but on God, and hence God can take any one away the sooner, that he may not change the evil of his mind, etc. (lb.). Believers, he further says, daily pray the Lord's prayer, and particularly, Hallowed be thy name, which however has already been done by the layer of regeneration. They thereby confess, as well as in the thanksgiving, that perseverance is a gift of the Lord. De Cor. et Gr. 6; De Dono Persev. 2.
The eternal, unconditional decree, Augustine thought he found as clear as the sun in the ninth chapter of Romans. "He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth. Willing to show wrath and demonstrate his power, he bore with much patience the vessels of wrath which were prepared for perdition, and that he might make known the riches of his glory in the vessels of mercy which he prepared for glory." Passages of this kind, which, according to his custom, Augustine took in the strongest sense and without regard to the occasion and object of the apostle, (e. g. De Praed. Sanct. 8), must now indeed have put the unconditional decree beyond all doubt with him, and Augustine hardly needed to connect with it still other passages from the Old and New Testament, where it is said, for example, I the Lord have seduced that prophet, I have hardened Pharaoh, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion, and I will show mercy to whom I will be compassionate. The expression "to harden sinners," Augustine explains (De Diver. Quaest. ad Simp. fib. 1. n. 15), entirely according to his own theory, that God will not have mercy on them. God adds nothing to the man by which he becomes worse: he only does not afford him that by which to become better. Thus the Tyrians and Sidonians would have believed, if they had seen the noble miracles of Christ. It would however have profited them nothing, as they were not predestinated by him whose judgments are unfathomable and whose ways are unsearchable. De Dono Persev. 14. But he laid special stress also on Eph. 1:4 sq., (De Praed. Sanct. 18), where it is said, He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and immaculate in his sight in love, predestinating us to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. As proofs of predestination, he adduced the children that are saved, as well as Jesus in respect to his human nature. 12-15. By no preceding merits have they deserved to have a preference before those who are damned; and whereby has the man Jesus deserved that he should be received into a unity of person by the Word coeternal with the Father, and become the only begotten son of God?
But in order to destroy the force of the instance which might be adduced against the Augustinian limitation of redemption to the elect, from the words of Paul, 1 Tim. 2:4, God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, Augustine availed himself of a peculiar interpretation of those words. They were to mean as much as this, All who are saved are saved only by the will of God. Ep. 217. c. 6; Enchirid. 103. "For God causes us to will." De Cor. et Gr. 15. In like manner he interpreted the words of Christ, Every one that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. No one comes to Christ in any other way, but as he has learned it of the Father. In a like sense we say of a teacher of languages who is the only one in a city, he instructed all; not that all learn, but that no one learns otherwise than by him. De Praed. Sanct. 8; De Pec. Mer. 1. 28. He proposes still another explanation of those passages of Paul, De Cor. et Gr. 14; Enchir. 103. By "all men," may be understood the elect, because all kinds of men are included among them, rich and poor, superior and inferior, learned and ignorant. In like manner Christ said to the pharisees, Ye tithe every herb. "Every herb" is here the same as every kind of herb. Op. Imp. IV. 124.
To justify his forced construction of the apostle's words, as himself perhaps felt it to be, Augustine remarked against Julian (C. Jul. IV. 8), "If God wills that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, but they do not come because they themselves will not, why do not the many thousand infants, who die without baptism, come into the kingdom of God, where the knowledge of the truth is certain?"
And as Augustine's philosophy contributed much to the formation of his theological system generally, and on its foundations he sought for confirmation of his supernatural doctrines, so is this also especially the case in his predestination theory and the limited view of redemption as connected with it. The doctrine, for instance, of the almighty will of God, he conceived of rather in the physical than the moral aspect. What God wills, takes place--so Augustine philosophized--must take place, because his will is an almighty will. Had God willed that all men should be saved, then all men must have been saved. Hence, (in his Enchiridion, 1. c. composed about the year 421, and therefore in the midst of the Pelagian dispute), he presents for adoption his explanation of 1 Tim. 2:4, "if we would not be compelled to believe the Almighty God to have willed something to take place and it is not done." We see therefore how greatly philosophical speculation on the relation of God's will to man's conduct, confirmed Augustine in his theory of predestination.
But that Christ's death is to be regarded only as an atonement, and consequently only for the benefit of sinners, he endeavored to prove from 2 Cor. 5:14, already quoted in another relation. "The apostle says, One died for all, therefore all were dead; and thereby shows, that he could have died only for the dead. For he proves that all are dead because one died for all. Now, because the corporeally dead cannot here be meant, it follows that no Christian can doubt or deny, that all for whom Christ died, are dead in sin." C. Jul. VI. 4.
But Augustine also reasoned backwards sometimes, as we have already seen on the doctrine of infant baptism, from the truth of the consequence to the truth of the supposition on which it is founded. "Where is the freedom of those who need divine grace to free them from the bondage in which they are subjected to the dominion of sin?" From redemption he inferred the corruption and incapacity of the natural man for good. De Pec. Mer. 1. 18, 26.
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