The GOSPEL TRUTH
AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF
AUGUSTINISM AND PELAGIANISM
G. F. WIGGERS, D. D.
CHAPTER XXII: Examination of the question respecting the opinions of the fathers previous to Augustine, in regard to the contested doctrines of Augustinism and Pelagianism.
Such an investigation is certainly very important and interesting; but it is also very laborious and difficult, especially as the ecclesiastical writers do not always express themselves with sufficient precision. Here we can of course refer only to the results which have been afforded by examining the opinions of individual fathers.
Vossius has collected much for this purpose, though he lacked the proper critical skill. Whitby also, in his Tractatus already quoted, has brought together much concerning the opinions of the early fathers on original sin and the imputation of it. Horn's Commentatio de Sententiis eorum Patrum quorum Auctoritas ante Augustinum plurimum valuit de Peccato Originali (Goett. 1801-4), possesses great merit and facilitates the investigation respecting original sin and the doctrines more immediately connected with it. This prize essay contains a tolerably complete exhibition of individual fathers in regard to the doctrine of original sin. Only it ought to have been more definitely shown in what the fathers placed the image of God that was lost by Adam's fall. That the works of Münscher, Wundemann, and others, contain much on this subject, needs not to be mentioned.
Here too we find, what is often enough met with in ecclesiastical history, that, in the rising contests, each party charged the other with departing from the doctrine of the church. It is worthy of remark that Augustine reproached the Pelagians abundantly with introducing a new doctrine. He calls the Pelagian heresy "the most recent heresy of all, originating from the monk Pelagius." De Haeresibus, c. 88. He never derives Pelagianism from any earlier heretic; and hence appears to have regarded Pelagius as the inventor of a new doctrine. This he might the more readily do as he was ignorant of the Greek fathers. Only once or twice does he express himself doubtfully; namely, in De Pec. Orig. 22, where he says, respecting Pelagius and Caelestius, "They are either believed or even proved to be the authors of this perversity; or, if they are not the authors but have learned it from others, they are certainly the assertors and teachers of it," etc.; and in Ep. 190. c. 6, where he calls them "either the authors or at least the most eager and notorious advocates of the new heresy."
Thus much however is certain, that Augustine regarded Pelagianism as a new doctrine, and was only sometimes doubtful as to its author.
[It may here properly be added that, when pressed by the Pelagians for more of positive proofs that his own doctrines were the same as those held by the previous fathers, Augustine urged, as asserted by Faber, that the reason why no more direct proof was to be found, was the fact, that those doctrines had always been held in the church without being disputed, and therefore the previous fathers had not been led to say much respecting them.
This plea has certainly the air of plausibility; nor can I doubt that it contains much of truth. At the same time it is by no means enough to prove that those fathers thought exactly with Augustine on even a single subject--much less that his theory as a whole was precisely the same as theirs. Their mere silence, simply in itself, could indeed prove nothing at all in respect to their belief either way. It could only show that there was but very little if any dispute on the topics. Other evidence is therefore needed in order to show which way the general tide was flowing, if indeed there was then much tide of this sort in either direction. If in such a case the positive proof, though scanty and not very decisive in its nature, he all on one side, the argument from the comparative silence must lend whatever force it possesses (which may sometimes be very great) in further support of that side.
In the present case, the sources of argument are two. One of them is the actual state of belief in the church at the time when the Pelagian controversy commenced. If the church were then in the main on the one side or on the other, the inference must be that they had always been on that side, unless the fact can be sufficiently accounted for on special grounds.
And here the special cause that is chiefly worthy of consideration, is that which has before been incidentally brought to view, though in a different connection; I mean the fact that the church were called upon to sustain a perpetual warfare against the doctrine of heathen fate, and thus to give a disproportionate prominence to those doctrines that lie at the foundation of human responsibility. It is morally impossible for such a thing as this to be done in a community, for any great length of time, without materially though perhaps silently changing the faith of that community. I am acquainted with no important and extensive cause, of the opposite tendency, that can fairly be assigned as a counterpoise to this,
But the further question of fact, and indeed the chief one on this branch of the evidence, still remains: What was the actual state of doctrinal belief in the church at the commencement of the Pelagian disputes? And here, again, the evidence is twofold; first, the testimony given and the doctrinal positions maintained by contemporary writers; and secondly, the decisions on the controversy itself by the councils held respecting it. On the former of these two sources, nothing further need here be added. And on the latter, very little can perhaps be suggested that has not already occurred to the reader while tracing the progress of the events in the case. I will recall his attention here but to a single topic. It is the simple but great fact, that the controversy was so generally decided against the Pelagians. If this does not prove that the church in general were thoroughly Augustinian, as it certainly does not, it is nevertheless one of the strongest proofs that they were at quite a remove from Pelagianism. When all the abatements are made which candor would require in view of the facts which our author has placed in so strong a light--the influence of Augustine, the part taken by the civil rulers, the supposed combination of the Alexandrian and Romish prelates, etc, the great fact is still very far from a satisfactory explanation without supposing a strong and pervading, though perhaps not very definite sentiment in opposition to the Pelagian opinion. Had the current been the other way who can believe that the single man Augustine, giant though he was, could so decidedly have changed it in a single score of years--nay, in less than half that time so far as the decision of the Latin church was concerned.
And then, again, if this was not substantially the general state of belief, at least among the Latins, how could Augustine speak as he continually does, of Pelagianism as being a novelty? And if it was not nearly so in the east likewise, how could the more learned Jerome, who had now long been residing in Palestine, give such a view of the case as the one now immediately to be presented from him by our author?-TR.]
Jerome thought differently [from Augustine, as to the complete novelty of Pelagianism, though manifestly agreeing with him in the main position, that it was far from being the general faith of the church. TR.] Besides attributing the Pelagian errors in part to several philosophers, he admits that they were brought forward by some teachers in the church, as Origen, Rufinus, or, as he generally calls him, Grunnius (a nick-name from grunnire), Evagrius of Pontus, Jovian, and others. See the prologue to his Dialogue against the Pelagians, the preface to his fourth book on Jeremiah, and other passages. He calls the Pelagian doctrine "a twig of Origen" (Ep. 133), which in his view, at that time, was a great offence.
Marius Mercator derives the Pelagian heresy from certain Syrians, and particularly Theodore of Mopseusta, and makes Rufinus to have first brought it from Syria to Rome. Com p. 63. Ap.
On the other hand, the Pelagians maintained that their doctrine was orthodoxy; that they had in their favor the sentiments of the fathers, among whom they often and joyfully quoted Chrysotom; and that their opponents departed from the doctrine of the church.
The reproach was very frequently retorted by the Pelagians, and particularly by Julian, that Augustine's doctrine was no better than what Augustine represented Pelagianism as being, i.e., nothing but Manichaeism.
Against this reproach, Augustine defended himself and sought, especially in his first two books against Julian, to prove that the doctrine of Adam's sin passing over to his Posterity, had in its favor the most famous of the Greek as well as of the Latin fathers; and that therefore, if the doctrine was Manichaean, the reproach of Manichaeism fell also upon these fathers; but that Manichaeism rather received support from the Pelagian doctrine.
And in fact, as we have already seen, Augustine's doctrine was at a distance from Manichaeism. Its opposition to Manichaeism consisted mainly in Augustine's endeavoring to avoid the dualism of Manes by holding that original sin was not of man's substance, which, as created by God, he considered good in its nature. Augustinism, however, in many of its parts, preserved an echo of Manichaeism. Among the most striking of these, may be mentioned what Augustine says of concupiscence in generation, by which man is subjected to the devil: only Manes went one step farther. He allowed the devil to be the author of man by concupiscence, and therefore regarded lust as something evil. See the letter of Manes to his daughter Menoch, quoted by Julian. Op. Imp. III. 180, 187.
But how did Augustinism and Pelagianism actually stand in relation to what the earlier fathers taught on the contested points?
To facilitate our view of the various opinions of the fathers, before Augustine, on the contested doctrines, it will be expedient to distinguish the doctrine of original sin and what is directly connected with it, from the doctrines of grace, redemption, and predestination. Therefore:
I. OPINIONS OF THE FATHERS, BEFORE AUGUSTINE, CONCERNING ORIGINAL SIN AND THE DOCTRINES MORE IMMEDIATELY CONNECTED WITH IT.
Here we must first remark, that speculation among the fathers on the nature of man as changed by Adam's sin, first began in the time of Justin, and therefore not till after the time when the philosophers came over to Christianity, i.e., after the middle of the second century. The apostolic fathers, so far as we can judge from the remnants that have reached us of their works, did not trouble themselves concerning this anthropological matter. What they said respecting it may be reduced to the following simple and indefinite propositions. Adam was created upright by God and destined to immortality. The cause of sin was external, namely, the devil; the limits of whose kingdom do not extend so far that he can compel us to sin, but rather we can resist him. When we are perfect, it is our work and God's. See Horn's Comm. p. 8.
Hence when we speak of the opinions of the fathers before Augustine, we can refer only to those who lived after the middle of the second century, and consequently from the time of Justin. And here it is manifest,
1. That almost all the fathers before Augustine, agreed with him in believing that man was originally made upright; possessed freedom of will; and would not have died if he had not sinned. They regarded the death of the body as a punishment of Adam's sin for Adam himself, and as at best an evil proceeding from him to his posterity, and consequently as a hereditary evil. Had Adam not transgressed God's command, as a reward of his obedience he would not have died. This opinion was maintained, with many modifications indeed, among the Greek fathers by Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Methodius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Basil, both the Gregories, and Chrysostom; and among the Latin, by Tertullian, Cyprian, and Ambrose. The passages on this subject, which might easily be increased by many others, have been collected by Horn. We need only further to remark, that several of these fathers, particularly Irenaeus, Methodius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Ambrose, and besides them Hilary of Poictiers, considered death so far a blessing from God as that an end is thus put to man's sinful state. Gregory of Nyssa thought death a physical consequence resulting from the use of the forbidden fruit, by which a kind of poison, destructive to man's nature, invaded human bodies. Orat. Magna Catechet. sec. 37. But in this he consequently differed from Augustine and many other ancient fathers, e.g., Theophilus.
Athenagoras does not express his opinion respecting Adam's fall and its consequences. Origen, Arnobius, and Lactantius differed from the other fathers by holding to some singular opinions, derived mostly from Platonism.
(a) Origen as is well known, in accordance with the Platonic philosophy, supposes all souls to be connected with their material bodies by way of punishment for sins previously committed by them. He allowed, however, that souls were originally good and endowed with freewill. They are imprisoned as it were in bodies for sins before committed. He regarded bodily death as a punishment of the sins which each soul committed before the creation of the world.
(b) Arnobius, whose views were not the most popular, allowed that the human soul, which held a middle rank between the mortal and the divine nature, was not created by the supreme God, and therefore considered moral wretchedness, sin, and death as natural and inbred evils. Hence immortality could be conferred only by the special blessing of God. Disputatt. adv. Gentes II. c. 30 sqq. Parte prima ex ed. Orellii. Lipsiae 1816.
(e) Lactantius, a disciple of Arnobius, maintained that the human body, as being matter, is corrupt. And yet he says, that the soul of man is good, and that man must therefore strive to conquer matter and gain the mastery of it. Besides he also assumes, that Adam, if he had obeyed God's commands, would not have died; and therefore derived temporal death from Adam's sin. Inst. 11. 13; Münscher's Handbuch der Dogm. II. 172.
The Pelagians, then, differed from all the orthodox fathers in maintaining that Adam would have died even if he had not sinned. The orthodox opinion had become so general perhaps in consequence of the threatening, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. The Pelagians explained this passage, as already shown, by spiritual death, or the moral punishment of sin. The expressions to be condemned and condemnation, when used by the fathers before Augustine, as referring to the consequences of Adam's sin on his posterity, always relate to temporal death. Here the passage is in point which Augustine quotes (C. Jul. 1. 6) from Chrysostom, but from which, as usual, he argues too much for his own theory: "When Adam committed that great sin and involved the whole human race in condemnation (in commune damnavit)," etc.
2. All the fathers differed from Augustine and agreed with the Pelagians, in attributing freedom of will to man in his present state. Thus Justin says, in his smaller apology (c. 7. ed. Ben. Hagae Comit. 1742), "Every created being is so constituted as to be capable of vice and virtue. For he could do nothing praiseworthy if he had not the power of turning either way." In like manner Athenagoras expresses himself in his apology, e.g., c. 24. Irenaeus, Gregory Nazianzen, and Chrysostom, expressly oppose in their writings the fate of the Stoics and triumphantly defend freewill. Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen very strongly maintain the same. The latter even sets it forth as a position of orthodoxy founded on apostolic tradition, that every rational soul possesses freedom of will. De Princip. Prooem p. 48. ed. de, la Rue T. I. Paris, 1733.
[Here, however, the reader may be gratified by seeing the manner in which these masters in the early Greek church set forth the matter of human freedom, and also the relation which they considered it as holding to the decrees of God and to the influences of the Divine Spirit. There will be an advantage in giving the passages at some length, though a part of what they contain would be more appropriate under subsequent heads. It will be seen that these men had thought somewhat on these important topics.
"Now," says Clement, "anything is in our power when we are equally masters of that and its opposite; as to philosophize, or not; and to believe, or to disbelieve. And what is in our power, is found possible by our being equally masters of each of the opposite things." Strom. IV. 24. "The use which heathen philosophy had made of divine truth," (that is, in perverting the truth acquired from the prophets of the Old Testament), "was a sin, and one which God foresaw and yet did not prevent; and that because he had a good purpose for which he designed to overrule the sin, though the perpetrator had a different and a bad purpose. I know there are multitudes rising up among us and saying, that he who does not prevent is himself a responsible cause. But non-prevention is not at all a cause. Hence whoever hinders any one from doing a thing, is responsible for such hindrance; but he who does not thus interpose may justly sit in judgment on the choice of the soul; so that God is not the responsible cause of our sins. But since free choice and voluntary seeking are the commencement of sins, and a false notion sometimes prevails which we through ignorance neglect to abandon, punishments are therefore justly inflicted. For to be sick of a fever is involuntary; but when one brings a fever upon himself by his intemperance, we blame him. Thus the evil may be involuntary, as no one chooses evil merely as evil; but drawn away by the pleasure that surrounds it, supposing it good, he decides to embrace it. These things being so, it is in our power to be free from ignorance and from an evil though pleasing choice, and in spite of them to refuse our assent to these seductive illusions." Strom. 1. 17.
Still Clement held to our need of divine aid. For, as translated by Cave, he says, that "as there is a free choice in us, so all is not placed in our own power; but that by grace we are saved, though not without good works, and that to the doing of what is good we especially need the grace of God, right instruction, an honest temper of mind, and that the Father draws us to him, and that the powers of the will are never able to wing the soul for a due flight for heaven without a mighty portion of grace to assist it." Strom. 1. 5.
Origen thus scientifically states his views on the subject. "In one place, the apostle does not ascribe it to God that a vessel is formed to honor or to dishonor, but refers the whole to us, saying, If any one shall purify himself he shall be a vessel sanctified unto honor and useful unto the master as prepared to every good work. In another place, he does not ascribe it to us but seems to refer the whole to God, saying, The potter hath power, etc. Now the things spoken by him are not contradictory, and we must therefore reconcile both and derive from both one perfect sense. Neither is our liberty without the wise efficiency of God, nor does this efficiency of God necessitate us to proceed in our course unless we also conduce somewhat to the good that is effected. Neither does freewill cause any one to be unto honor or unto dishonor without the efficiency of God and the disposal of what is according to the dignity of our freewill. Nor does the will of God only form any to honor or to dishonor, unless he have some matter of difference inclining the choice to the worse or the better." De Princ. I. 22.
In another place, when treating on the objection to prayer and effort which is so commonly presented as a rising from foreknowledge and decrees, Origen states that there are three kinds of motion, that of inanimate things as of stones, which is motion from without; that of the vegetable world, as of plants in their growth, which is motion by nature; and that of living and rational beings, who have motion of themselves (__ _____). He then proceeds in his argument against the fatalists, which I shall give, as I have given the preceding, in rather a free translation, but taking care to make the essential parts exactly literal. "If we take away from one his motion arising from himself (___ _____), he can no longer be recognized as an animal but will be either like a plant which is moved only by nature, or like a stone which is impelled by something from abroad. But if any one follows his own motion, as we may call this being moved by himself, he is necessarily rational. They, therefore, who will have nothing to be in our power, must necessarily admit this most foolish thing, that we are neither rational nor living beings; but, as if moved by some one from abroad, and not moving ourselves, we may be said to do by him what we think ourselves to do. Besides, let any one understandingly inspect the things of which himself is the subject, and see if he can shamelessly say that he does not himself will, and does not himself eat, and does not himself walk, nor himself assent to receive some opinions, nor discard others as false. As, then, there are some dogmas to which a man can never be induced, although ten thousand times over he artfully arranges the proofs for this purpose and employs persuasive language, so that any one should be brought so to think of human things as though nothing were left in our power. For who settles down in the belief that nothing is comprehensible? And who is there that does not blame the son that fails in filial duty? and censure the adulteress as base? For the truth impels and necessitates one, in spite of a myriad of plausible things which he may invent, to break forth in such cases, either in applauses or censures, as though there were something still kept in our power as the foundation of praise and blame. But if freewill is preserved to us, with its ten thousand propensities to virtue or to vice, and again with all its propensities to what is fitting or what is improper, all this, together with other things, was necessarily known to God before it took place, that is, from the creation and foundation of the world, just as it was to be. And in all things," which God foreordains accordingly as he foresaw respecting each act of our freewill, his decree was according to what was requisite to each movement of our freewill, and what would be meet for himself, on the part of providence, and what was to occur according to the connection of things which were to take place; yet not that the foreknowledge of God was the cause of all things that are to take place and that are to be produced from our freewill according to our spontaneous action. For even on the supposition that God does not foreknow future events, we could not, on that ground, boast that we should do these things and think these things. But this advantage, on the other hand, accrues from foreknowledge, namely, that everything in our power receives an assignment in the arrangement of the universe which is beneficial to the condition of the world." De Oratione, C. 6.
How far this ancient thinker was right as well as profound in all this and much more that might be adduced from him on those topics, and how far his speculations paved the way for Pelagianism, and how far too, if well studied, they might have held back both Pelagius and Augustine from their wide extremes--we have no time further to inquire. It may be well for the reader to bear in mind the import of what has now been quoted from these writers, while following the necessarily rapid steps of our author through some of the subsequent topics. TR.]
The manner in which Cyril of Jerusalem expresses himself on freewill, in his fourth catechetical lecture, and even in his chapter on the soul (____ _____), is remarkable. "Know," he there says, "that thou hast a soul possessed of freewill (_____ ___________), which has power to do what it will. For thou dost not sin by birth (____ _______), nor by fortune (____ _____)," etc. "We sin by free choice (__ ___________)."
All the Latin fathers also maintained that freewill was not lost after the fall; but they did not express themselves so strongly on the point as the Greeks and especially the Alexandrians. Compare Keil, De Doctoribus veteris Ecclesiae Culpa corruptae per Platonicas Sententias theologiae liberandis. Comment. XII. a. 1804. And even Augustine, as before remarked, declared in favor of freewill while writing against the Manichaeans. Here we need not, with Wundemann (Gesch. der chrst. Glaub. 11. 92), cite his book De Fide adv. Manichaeos. For as that is ascribed to Evodius, it is not safe to infer Augustine's opinion from it.
3. The greater part, at least the most famous, of the fathers, placed the image of God in understanding or perception and freewill others, in corporeal resemblance to God, and immortality; others, again, in a very favorable state generally, to which they also added the dominion over all other creatures.
First, they perhaps placed it in a corporeal resemblance to God, and thus unquestionably hit in the best manner the sense in the first chapter of Genesis, however anthropomorphic was this presentation. Thus Irenaeus, for example, (who besides, like Theophilus, supposed Adam to come into the world, not in a perfect state, but as a child), placed it in the body (plasmate, Adv. Haer. V. 6, 1), to which also added immortality. IV. 38, 4. On the contrary, the likeness (____) which he distinguishes from the image (___, imago), he placed especially in perception and freewill. IV. 4, 3. In like manner, Tertullian places the image in the body (De Resurrect. 6) and also in freewill. C. Marcion 11. 5.
On the other hand, Clemens Alexandrinus had before refuted those who would place the image in any corporeal resemblance to God, and with more propriety Placed it in understanding. With him agreed his great disciple Origen. Both likewise distinguished between the image and the likeness; but in a different way from Irenaeus. Both placed the image (___ imago) of God in the original capacity of man for good; but the likeness (____ similitudo), in the good habit acquired by their own assiduity. Clem. Alex. Strom. II; Orig. De Princ. III. 6.
So must it also early have been placed in immortality, because the loss of this was regarded as a punishment of Adam's fall. This was done by Eusebius; but the other fathers of the fourth century, Macarius, the two Gregories, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others went farther, and placed it in understanding and freewill. Some of them, e.g., Gregory Nazianzen, seem also to have placed it in immortality. This may be affirmed with certainty of Gregory of Nyssa. The latter also, in his tract on the formation of the first man, considers him as being in a very happy state before the fall, free from passions, exercising dominion over the rest of creatures, and distinguished for personal beauty. But in treating on the image and likeness, he makes both of them a representation of the mystery of the trinity and of the incarnation, in as much as Adam may represent the unbegotten God and Father; his son, the begotten Word of God and Eve, proceeding forth from Adam, the proceeding person, or the Holy Ghost, etc. This view was refuted by Augustine, in De Trin. XII.
In the work Contra Gentes, attributed to Athanasius, the image of God is placed in man's being made according to the Logos (____ _____). In connection with this, stood the idea which Irenaeus, Origen, and others had, and which most of the early Platonic fathers adopted, namely, that something of the divine Logos was imparted to men, and indeed to the wise in a higher degree.
Chrysostom placed the image of God in the dominion over the whole earth which was given to Adam. Ambrose supposes the human soul before the fall, to have been adorned with all virtues, and seems herein to have placed the image of God. In his book on Paradise, he explains Paradise to mean the human soul, which was planted in Eden, i.e., where it found a life of joy and pleasure. The stream which watered it, was Christ; from which four rivers issued, i.e., the cardinal virtues of wisdom, temperance, valor, and justice. On the other hand, Augustine, as before shown, placed it in the intelligent and rational nature of man. De Gen. ad Lit. VI. 12; De Gen. ad Lit. Lib. Imp. c. 16.
Consequently none but those fathers who placed the image in corporeal resemblance to God, in dominion over the rest of creation, and in immortality, could say that it was lost by the fall. But those who placed it in understanding and freedom of will, could not say that it was lost, since they, like Pelagius, allowed both to remain after the fall. And these again differed from Augustine, for he considered the intellect as weakened and freewill as lost by the fall.
4. A chief point in the Augustinian system, was the imputation of Adam's sin to all his posterity, the reatus peccati Adamitici. The fathers before Augustine never expressly taught this imputation, and consequently they thus far differed from him.
Almost all of them, indeed, considered temporal death as a consequence of Adam's sin and as an evil resulting from Adam's fall. And they accordingly called this evil a punishment of Adam's sin; and on this account, Augustine appealed to the harmony of the catholic church in this particular. De Civ. Dei, XIII. 15. But they never expressly say, that this evil or this punishment has come on Adam's posterity by the imputation of his sin. Thus Tertullian, for example, says, in accordance with his idea of the traducianism of the soul, that Adam left the punishment of death as an inheritance to his posterity. De Test. Anim. c. 3. In his work against Marcion, (I. 22), he says, "The man was condemned to death because he had tasted of one little tree. Hence sins grew with punishment; and all now die who had never known anything of Paradise." But he says nothing of an imputation.
Others indeed express themselves as if they had an imputation in view; but they may have thought only of a participation in the punishment without imputation of the guilt. Thus Irenaeus, for example, (Adv. Haer. V. 16, 3), says: "In the first Adam, we have offended God in not keeping his command; but in the second Adam, we have again been reconciled with him, since we have become obedient in him even unto death." Basil, in his sermon on fasting as quoted by Augustine (C. Jul. I. 5), says, "because we did not fast, we fell from Paradise." Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 38. in d. natalem Christi), in a passage also quoted by Augustine, (C. Jul. I. 5), says: "As in Adam we have all died, so in Christ let us all live. With Christ therefore let us be born, and with him be buried, that with him we may also rise to life. For it is necessary that we undergo this salutary and requisite change, in order that we, who have been brought from a good to a mournful condition, may be brought back from a mournful to a better. For where sin was mighty, grace becomes still more mighty, since those whom the use of the forbidden tree has condemned, the cross of Christ justifies with a richer grace."
Here it is to be remarked that, with the fathers, as Erasmus has suggested, the expression to die or to die in Adam, is synonymous with being driven out of Paradise, because they who were driven out of Paradise, were no more allowed to cat of the fruit of the tree of life. At least this is the common meaning. For us to have died in Adam, is nothing else than what Methodius, in a fragment in Epiphanius (Haer. 64), thus expresses, "We were driven out of Paradise in the first father." See Horn's Com. p. 51.
Gregory of Nyssa, in his larger catechetical sermon (C. 8), says Since by the free exercise of will, we have drawn on ourselves a participation in the evil (__ __________ ________ ___ _____ ___ _________ ____________), since we have, along with a kind of pleasure, brought into our nature as it were a poison mingled with honey, we have thereby fallen from that blessedness which consisted in the absence of passion, and have been changed for the worse."
By Chrysostom, it is even said, that "Christ came and found our hereditary obligation which Adam had written." This passage Augustine quotes in the original from a homily to Neophites, by the famous orator, and uses it in support of his imputation. C. Jul. I. 6. Ambrose says, in his commentary OD Luke, according to Augustine's quotation, "the death of all was Adam's guilt. Adam was, and we were all in him; Adam perished, and all perished in him." C. Jul. I. 3; Op. Imp. II. 36.
The Augustinian imputation might indeed be derived from such expressions, if the passages were considered aside from their connection and without regard to the other doctrines of the fathers. But they admit also of the explanation, that Adam's posterity share in the punishment of his sin, without any imputation of its guilt being supposed.
That this last is the sense of those fathers, admits of no doubt. They regarded death as a punishment of Adam's sin, which has extended to all men. And as we must now share the punishment, it is just the same as if we had all sinned. Thus Cyril of Jerusalem expresses his opinion of the passage in Rom. 5:14, death reigned from Adam to Moses. "This Paul has given in order to teach that, although Moses was a righteous and wonderful man, yet the sentence of death denounced against Adam, came upon him and upon those who followed him. They did not, however, sin like Adam, and by disobedience (__ _______) eat of the tree in Paradise." Catech. 15. Cyril therefore here declares Adam's posterity free from his disobedience.
In this sense may be explained the passages already quoted and others of the like kind. No one of the fathers thought of conceiving of the matter as if Adam's sin was imputed to us. As part of the curse, which some of the fathers supposed to come on all men, and partly as hereditary, they understood death. Chrysostom, in the passage already quoted, would say nothing more than that Adam first sinned and incurred a debt. This debt was an obligation upon him. He immediately adds: "Adam began the debt and we have increased the loan (___ _________) by subsequent sins." In this way the passage is in perfect harmony with other assertions of that father.
Finally, Ambrose explains the words quoted, "the death of all is the fault of Adam," thus: "We all die in Adam, i.e., like Adam, because by one man sin came into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed through to all men," etc. Consequently he referred the whole to temporal death as the punishment of Adam's sin. But he says nothing of an imputation of Adam's sin. And just as little does he say of any such imputation in other passages adduced by Augustine. In the passage quoted (De. Pec. Orig. 41) from Ambrose's book on the resurrection, temporal death is spoken of as the punishment of Adam's sin, in which punishment we all share, but nothing is said of all imputation of his sin. "I fell," he says, "in Adam; I was driven from Paradise in Adam; I died in Adam. If he had not found me in Adam, he would not again call me forth as justified in Christ, in like manner as I was subject in Adam to that debt, liable to death." To this also refers what Augustine quotes from the seventh book of Ambrose's exposition of Luke: "Adam received a deadly wound (lethale vulnus), by which the whole human race would have died if that descending Samaritan had not healed his doleful wound." C. Jul. I. 3,
Were the second apology of David genuine, a weighty passage might be adduced from it to prove that Ambrose held to an imputation of Adam's sin to all his posterity. For in the twelfth chapter, it is said: "We have all sinned in the first man, and by the consequence of nature the consequence of guilt has passed from one to all. Adam is in each one of us. For in him, mankind (conditio humana) have sinned, because sin has passed through one to all." But as the Benedictines doubted the genuineness of that work, it is not to be regarded. And in fact a more important reason exists against its genuineness, as Augustine does not adduce it, who was so fond of recurring to Ambrose, and to whom nothing could have been more desirable than just this assertion of the famous bishop of Milan, greatly revered too as he also was by Pelagius.
Besides this, passages maybe adduced in which the fathers utterly repel any such imputation of Adam's sin, and express themselves directly against it. Particularly is this true of the fathers of the Greek church.
They denied, in part, that man is born infected with Adam's sin. Thus, e.g., Athenagoras says, in his apology (25), "man is in a good state (__ ______ ____), both in respect to his Creator and also in respect to his natural generation (__ ____ ___ _______ _____)," etc.
Clement of Alexandria inveighs against the conclusion which the encratites drew, from certain passages of scripture, in order to show that generation and marriage are objectionable. Stromat. III. p. 468. ed. Colon. 1688. Here the passage from Job again comes up: No one is pure from defilement, not even though his life be of but one day; and the passage, PS. LI, I was conceived in sins and in iniquities did my mother conceive me. On this he properly asks, How can a newborn infant sin? and how can the curse of Adam belong to him who has not yet done anything at all? Though David was conceived in sins, yet he still had in himself as a child no sin on this account. David spoke as a prophet, and intended Eve by the term mother, as Eve was the mother of all living.
The passage in Job and similar passages, Clement referred, not to children, but to adults, whereby the greatness of their sin is shown. In his Protrepticon (p. 16), he explains the words in the epistle to the Ephesians, We were by nature children of wrath, with entire propriety, of the previous state of the heathen.
[Notwithstanding the explanations which Clement occasionally gave of some passages of scripture, as mentioned in the last paragraph, we are by no means to infer that he held to the sinlessness of infants. This would be as great a mistake as to infer, on the other hand, from certain expressions that he uses, that his views of native depravity were the same as those of Augustine.
But that we may learn more exactly what were the views of so early and so important a teacher in the Greek church, it may be well to present the entire passage of which our author has just given us quite too scanty a summary. It will in this way be manifest that the specific thing which he denies, instead of being all guilt in children, is only the guilt of generation in opposition to the encratites. We shall also learn something further about the anthropological views of this philosophizing father.
He thus quotes from the Septuagint the passage in Job, and then goes on with his argument against the encratites. "No one is free from pollution, says Job, not even though his life be but of one day. Let them tell us, whence was the new-born infant guilty of fornication? Or how has he fallen under the curse of Adam, who has done nothing? It therefore remains for them, as it seems, to say that generation is evil; and not only the generation of the body, but of the soul also, for the body is formed by the soul. And when David says, I was conceived in sins, etc., he speaks of mother Eve. But Eve was the mother of all living. And if he was conceived in sin yet he was not himself in sin, nor was he himself sin. But whether every one who turns from sin to faith, turns from the custom of habitual sin, as from a mother, one of the twelve prophets shall bear me testimony, who says, If I give my first-born for my impiety, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul. He does not blame Him who said, he fruitful and multiply; but the very first motions (_____) after generation, in which motions we know not God, he pronounces to be imperfect." Paed. III. 12.
Here is indeed ante-natal sin, though in a different sense from that of Augustine. And at no less a remove than this, was Clement from holding to the sinlessness of children, though it is clear that he would consider all their sin as consisting in their own individual action.
In the assignment of so early a period for moral agency, he is nearly if not quite alone. Most of the Greek fathers, however, appear to have held to the commencement of such agency as early as the first day, supposing this to be implied in the passage from Job, which they as well as the Latins were continually quoting.
Clement has also another passage on native depravity, in the same chapter, which is too striking to be omitted. "To sin, is innate and common to all (_____ _______ ___ ______)." And from what has just been adduced, it is sufficiently easy to perceive in what sense he regarded sin as innate, and what kind of sin it was that he had in view.
Origen appears to have considered all sin as voluntary; and with his views of our having all sinned in a previous state of existence, he must of course have supposed us to come into the world sinners. But he appears to have wavered in his opinion respecting our continuing to sin during the stage of infancy, as he sometimes speaks of sin as then lying dormant within us.
The habit of applying the oft-repeated passage in Job as a proof of the sinfulness of infants, as may here properly be remarked, is to be traced back to the very age of the apostles, for Clement of Rome so quotes and applies it. And I think there can be but little doubt that the greater part of the earlier fathers considered man as in some sense a sinner from the earliest infancy. The Greek fathers seem much more disposed than the Latin to regard him as then a moral agent. Indeed many of the Latins, as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine expressly deny moral agency at that period.
Nearly all, both Greek and Latin, would probably have allowed, had the question been put to them in its modern shape, that infants are born with a disposition or a propensity to sin; but probable that all the Greek if not quite all the Latin fathers would have denied the moral responsibility of the individual for anything previous to his own voluntary exercise of such disposition. TR.]
Cyril of Jerusalem, in his fourth lecture on the soul, shows, in opposition to Origen, that souls have not sinned before coming into this world. We came into the world without sin, and sinned here of freewill. According to him we should not come with the false interpretation of Rom. 7:16: What I would not, that I do; but we should remember him who says, in Rom. 6:19, As ye have yielded your members servants of uncleanness and iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield ye your members servants of righteousness unto sanctification. And in his twelfth lecture, he says: "It is God that forms the children even while in their mother's womb, as Job says 10:10. There is nothing defiled in the human formation (_____ ______ ____ __ _________), if it does not defile itself by adultery and excess."
And Athanasius himself, who is still very orthodox, though not of Augustine's orthodoxy on the doctrine of original sin, declares, in his third oration against the Arians (T. I. Colon. 1686. p. 485), that "there have been many holy men who were pure from all sin. Thus Jeremiah was holy from his birth; and John, while yet in his mother's womb, leaped for joy at the voice of Mary the mother of our Lord. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned like Adam himself."
Finally; Chrysostom, (who in general thought more philosophically than his predecessors, and always sought to save the idea of God's holiness and justice in the admission of evil and sin into the world), in his tenth homily on Romans, and while interpreting the passage, by the offence of one, etc., expressly declares it an absurdity to admit, that by Adam's disobedience any one else should be a sinner, for no one can deserve punishment who is not of himself (__ _______) a sinner. He therefore directly rejects "the guilt of the Adamitic sin."
Many more passages might easily be adduced; but these are sufficient, especially as we shall soon see that none of the Greek fathers know anything of an Augustinian original sin. I should, however, have a scruple about here adducing a well known passage from the work entitled Questions to the Orthodox, since its author, if not a Pelagian, was perhaps Theodore of Mopsuesta, which to me is not improbable; at all events, he belonged to a later age.
5. Now as the fathers before Augustine held to no guilt of the Adamitic sin, they could not allow the forgiveness of a sin originating from Adam, or Original sin, as an object of infant baptism, just as, on the same ground, they could not admit the condemnation of unbaptized children. They therefore differed from Augustine on this latter point also.
We cannot here appeal to the old church formula--baptism is "for the remission of sins" in order to prove original sin the object of infant baptism. It comes from that early period when only adults were baptized. But in every adult actual sins might be presumed and so the formula had its full import.
Furthermore, Irenaeus, Basil, and others, indeed, express themselves strongly enough respecting the effects of baptism; but they make no mention of a forgiveness of original sin. Tertullian says, "Why hastens the innocent age to the forgiveness of sins?" De baptismo, c. 18. Even Cyprian, who however, with his bishops, defended infant baptism, does not say, in his well known letter to Fidus (Ep. 64), that original sin is forgiven in the newborn child through baptism. The passage quoted by Augustine from that letter, (in which Cyprian, with the sixty-six bishops assembled by him, maintains that, in case of necessity, we must baptize a child before the eighth day, for, as much as in us lies, we must suffer no soul to be lost, nulla anima perdenda est), doubtless refers to the idea which appears to have been prevalent among the orthodox before Augustine, as well in the Greek as in the Latin church, namely, that salvation is conferred through baptism, although the unbaptized children of Christians would not be condemned for the want of baptism. C. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 8. Comp. De Nupt. et Conc. II. 29, and other places. Here we have therefore again the middle place (medius locus) of Pelagius, about which Augustine jeers so often in his works against the Pelagians, though he himself, before the beginning of the Pelagian controversy, seemed to incline to this idea. De, Lib. Arb. III. 23. Gregory Nazianzen, in his fortieth discourse (Colon. 1680. p. 653), says, that unbaptized children do not indeed obtain salvation (_____________), because they are not baptized, though they cannot be condemned by a righteous judge, because they are innocent (________), and have rather suffered the loss of baptism than caused it. He therefore indeed attributes to baptism the effect of conferring on those who receive it a share in the salvation of Christians, though he would allow none who do not receive it, to be condemned on this account; here agreeing entirely with Pelagius. For, he immediately adds, he who deserves no punishment, does not on that account deserve distinction, just as he who is unworthy of distinction, does not on that account deserve punishment. Gregory of Nyssa even says, in his work on children who are prematurely removed: "The child free from all sin (___________ ______) finds itself in the natural state, and needs no purification for its health, because it has as yet fallen into no disease of the soul." Opp. T. II. ed. Paris 1615. p. 361.
Ambrose expresses himself, in a manner the most remarkable and sorely offensive to the Benedictines, respecting the state of infants dying before baptism. "No one," says he, "ascends into the kingdom of heaven unless by the sacrament of baptism. For unless one be regenerated by water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. He excepts no one at all, not the infant, not the person prevented by any necessity. But notwithstanding they may have that hidden immunity from punishment, I know not whether they can have the honor of the kingdom (habeant tamen illam opertam poenarum immunitatem, nescio an habeant regni honorem)." De Abrahamo, II. 11. This immunity from punishment is again nothing but "the middle place." To mark this as something much spoken of by the fathers, Ambrose adds the word illam; and he adds opertam, because he would determine nothing as certain on the point. And besides, in his Consolatio de Obitu Valentini, he scrupled not to assign a signal salvation to the emperor, notwithstanding his dying without baptism. He regarded his request for baptism as itself sufficient to render him a partaker of its fruit.
From the custom, in the early centuries, of deferring the baptism of children and catechumens to Easter-week, we may conclude that the doctrine of the damnation of unbaptized children, was not prevalent.
In a discourse to Neophites (in Aug. C. Jul. I. 6.), Chrysostom expresses himself in a manner altogether Pelagian respecting the object of infant baptism. He there says, "We also baptize children, though they have no sin, that they may have holiness, righteousness, adoption as children, heirship, fraternity with Christ, and may also become his members." Of freeing from original sin, he says not a syllable. In the like spirit--to add barely this--his disciple Isidore of Pelusium, expresses himself in the third book of his letter (Ep. 195). He answers minutely the question proposed to him, Why are children, being without sin, baptized (__ __ ______ __ _____, __________ ____, __________)? Some, he remarks, maintain very superficially, that infant baptism is administered that the corruption, imparted to nature by Adam's transgression, may be washed away (___ ___ ___ ___ _________ ___ _____ __________ __ _____ _____ ____________). This he indeed also believed; but yet considered it of little importance; and maintained that the benefits of baptism are much greater. The soul is regenerated, sanctified, redeemed, adopted, justified, and made a fellow heir with the Only-begotten. This is nearly the same as Chrysostom's view. We must not, however, conclude from Isidore's speaking of a defilement imparted to human nature by Adam's transgression, that he admitted an imputation of Adam's sin. For had he done this, how could he say, that the ablution of the defilement was of little importance.
Also the damnation of the virtuous heathen, which stands in close connection with the damnation of unbaptized Christian children, was denied by many of the Greek fathers, particularly the Platonic. Thus Clement of Alexandria, in the second and sixth books of his Stromata, allows that not only the believers under the Old Testament, but also the well disposed heathen, are baptized in the future world, that they may share in the salvation of Christians. It was otherwise, however, in the African church, where the dogma of salvation only in the church, was very early perfected, and by which we must consequently leave to condemnation the heathen, however highly prized for their virtues.
6. A transfer of Adam's sin by propagation, or original sin in the severest sense, was denied by all the Greek fathers, but not by the Latin. From the former, some have indeed been ready to except Justin Martyr, or the author of the dialogue with Trypho if they did not consider this as the work of Justin. But if we attentively read this production and without preconceived opinions, we shall find no original sin in it. It is indeed there said, that the human race from Adam downward, are subjected to death and the seduction (_____) of the serpent, i.e., the devil; but nothing is here said of a sin. On the contrary, this is always attributed by Justin to the individual's own fault. When he calls Christ the only undefiled and sinless person (_____ _______ ___ ___________), this probably refers to the gnostic idea of the generation of man, which Justin also held. For he believed this to take place with an evil and unlawful lust. And as Jesus was begotten without this lust, he could call him in this view the only undefiled. In the case of Origen, we need not be perplexed by expressions like the following: "We are all born to sin (______ ____ __ __________ _________);" C. Celsum 1. III. T. I. p. 491; "perhaps no one is pure from sins, though his life has been but a day, because of the mystery of birth (___ __ ___ _______ _________)," Com. in Matt. Opp. T. III. p. 685; "by the sacrament of baptism, the impurity of birth is done away, for which children are baptized." Hom. in Luc. XIV. Opp. T. III. p. 948. For, by his hypothesis of the preexistence of the human soul, it is banished into the body as a punishment for sins previously committed; and in this sense, are these passages to be taken and others of like import. They therefore imply no transfer of sin from Adam, as Augustine would have it. Besides this, he held, as a Platonist, that the soul is defiled by its union with the body, and for this reason could call children unclean, and regard infant baptism as needful.
We must also make a distinction between the Greek and the Latin church. And the Greek fathers, again, differ both in respect to the evil they derive from Adam's fall, and also the origin of man's sin. But they agree among themselves and likewise with the Latins, and also with Augustine and Pelagius, in placing the origin of the first sin in the abuse of freedom.
We have already seen, that Athenagoras considered human nature, even in its present state, as well disposed. But the most remarkable of all, is the declaration of Athanasius respecting original sin in his work De Salutari Adventu Jesu Christi (Opp. T. I. p. 639), where he pronounces the "propagation of sin" (_______ ___ ________), an error of Marcion and Manes, in as much as they subjected the body and generation to an evil being and made man the slave of this being. This error was renewed, in his time, by some who even subjected man's rational nature to an evil being, and maintained that it could not avoid sin.
Gregory Nazianzen, in his thirty-first discourse on Matt. 19:12, expresses the opinion, that the spiritual and not the corporeal circumcision is meant in this passage. For some seem circumcised by nature, i.e., inclined to good; others are purified by instruction, because it circumcises as it were their passions, teaches them to distinguish good from evil, and thus produces spiritual soundness (___________ __________); while others circumcise themselves, who practice virtue without a teacher, spontaneously blow the spark of virtue, and acquire such a habit (____) of virtue, that it is almost impossible they should turn to vice. Such assertions, which stand in the most direct contradiction with the admission of an original sin, are everywhere found in this famous orator.
Gregory of Nyssa, (On the Soul and the Resurrection, Opp. T. II. p. 670), maintains expressly that the soul, since it is created by God, is not necessarily evil (___ ___ ____ ______ _______ _____); but it either of free choice (__ ___________) closes its eyes to good, or is blinded by the devices of the enemy of our life, or looks simply at the light of truth and keeps aloof from dark passions.
Furthermore, in respect to the consequences of Adam's sin, the Greek fathers before Methodius placed them in death as well as in many other physical evils, as diseases, pains of parturition, etc. It might seem as though Theophilus was an exception, since he derives death from Abel. But by this he only means that Abel was the first man that died. Ad Autolycum II. 29. But the Greek fathers after Methodius and therefore from the close of the third century, at least a part of them, added also a second consequence, an excessive susceptibility to sensual allurements or an increased sensuality. In this sense, Gregory Nazianzen, in a passage quoted by Augustine (C. Jul. I. 5), speaks of the stain of the first birth, with which we were conceived and born, and from which baptism frees us. In this sense, Basil (on Psalm xxix.) ascribes to human nature a weakness, and says of generation, that it takes place "in the filth of sins." De Bapt. I. 7. In this sense, Gregory of Nyssa speaks of a natural propensity to evil (_______ ____ __ _____). Orat. m. Catech. c. 35, Hence Chrysostom in his eleventh homily on Rom. vi. speaks of the great power of the passions, by which our bodies, before the advent of Christ, were easily overcome by sin. "In this dying state, an great swarm as it were of passions entered. Hence the body was not very fleet forthe course that leads to virtue, because there was neither a spirit that could help, nor a baptism that was fitted for the dead." To the same increased sensuality do the words of Chrysostom refer when, according to Augustine's quotation (C. Jul. II. 6), he says of the first pair, "They were covered with fig-leaves in order to hide the form of sin (tegentes speciem peccati)."
Lactantius held a singular opinion, different from all the other fathers both before and after Methodius. By Adam's sin, so he taught in his Oratio ad Graecos c. 7 sqq. we have lost the higher spirit, which is the source for a perfect understanding of truth. The consequence is, that we have separated ourselves from converse with heavenly and have loved earthly things, and become subject to the temptations of demons. Still there remains a spark of the perfect spirit within us, and it is in our power again to be united with it.
In respect to the cause of the sins which are committed by Adam's posterity, the Greek fathers before Methodius commonly adduce the evil spirit and the natural sensuality of man. Athenagoras expresses himself in a peculiar manner on this point, in his apology, C. 27. ed. Bened. Hagae Cornit. 1742. p. 305. According to him, the irrational and capricious movements of the soul derive idols from bodies, or invent them for themselves. This is done particularly when the soul of man no longer directs its view to heavenly things and the Creator, but fastens on earthly things. Then it receives the material spirit (______ ______), and the demons avail themselves of this to infuse error into the human understanding. Irenaeus placed the cause of sins in Adam's posterity, in the abuse of freedom and a forgetfulness which arises from great negligence (______ ________). But no one is either good or bad by nature. Adv. Haer. IV. 37. The power of the devil he considers as entirely broken by Christ. V. 21. To this Clement of Alexandria added also ignorance, (Paed. I. 13) and Origen, perverse education and bad example (___________) C. Cels. lib. III. Opp. T. I. p. 493. To seek for the cause of sin in the state of the body, he pronounced irrational. De Princip. III. 5. Opp. T. I. p. III.
The fathers after Methodius, indeed, in addition to the abuse of freedom, adduce the devil and sensuality as causes of sin; but they allow sensuality to have been increased by Adam's fall. They regard a greater excitability of man, in the human body, to evil, as a consequence of the fall, which afterwards became a cause of sin.
In this view, the manner is characteristic in which Methodius (in Photius, Cod. 234) explains the triple law which, in his opinion, Paul admitted. One, says he, is the good implanted in us. This is _____ ____. Another is the law of evil (_____ _______, of the devil), which inwardly draws the soul in various representations addressed to the passions. Of this, Paul says, that it wars against the law of the mind. The third is that which hardens according to the sinful passions in the flesh. This is what Paul calls the law of sin, which dwells in the members.
Methodius therefore regarded the body, not the soul, as the seat of sinfulness. But Cyril of Jerusalem appears to have had a more refined idea. "Tell me not," says he in his fourth catechetical lecture on the body, "that the body is the cause of sin. For if the body were the cause of sin, why does not the dead body sin? The body does not sin of itself, but the soul through the body. Defile not, then, this thy beautiful vestment."
Finally, in respect to the devil, several of the Greek fathers, especially of the fourth century, as Athanasius, both the Gregories, and Basil, represent his influence as very great over man after the fall. After that event, the devil, in their opinion, could use his seductive art far more extensively then before. They had already in part the Augustinian idea, that the devil has an acquired right (jus quaesitum) over men, and that God must in justice leave them to him. As however, with all the other fathers, they maintained the freedom of the human will after the fall, they had to limit the unconditional dominion of the devil over the human body; on which he exercised his power by death.
But among the fathers of the Latin church, Tertullian and Ambrose assumed, that, as a consequence of Adam's sin, in addition to death and the power of the devil over men, there is an actual vitiosity of the soul (vitiositas animae), propagated by generation.
It will be worth the pains to quote the passages themselves of Tertullian and Ambrose, pertaining to this subject.
It cannot indeed be denied, that dark passages are presented in Tertullian, which seem to incline to other views. But we need not wonder at this in an author who often expresses himself so confusedly and darkly. There are passages enough which place beyond all doubt his belief of a corruption of the soul propagated by generation.
In his treatise, De Testimonio Animae, c. 3, he says: "At the beginning man was circumvented by him (satan), so as to transgress God's command, and was therefore devoted to death, and thenceforward made the whole race, infected from his seed, the recipients and propagators of his condemnation (exinde totum genus de suo semine infectum, suae etiam damnationis traducem fecit)."
This may indeed be understood of death which is propagated by generation, especially as the word damnatio is used respecting Adam's condemnation to death according to the custom of speech among the fathers. But there are other passages from which the propagation of a vitiosity of the soul is manifest.
In De Aninia, c. 41, he says "The evil of the soul, besides what is built upon it by the intervention of the evil spirit, precedes from the corruption of origin, which is in a manner natural. For the corruption of nature is another nature. (Malum animae, praeter quod ex obventu spiritus mali superstruitur, ex originis vitio antecedit, naturale quodammodo. Nam naturae corruptio alia natura est.)" Here we have plainly an original evil, which Tertullian calls in a manner natural or inborn. What is this but a fundamental corruption inherited from Adam?
Another passage from the same book (16) is likewise plain, and serves to elucidate the one just quoted. "Plato divided the soul into rational and irrational. This definition we indeed approve, but not so as that each is to be imputed to nature. For the natural is to be regarded as rational, what is begotten in the soul from the beginning namely, by the rational author. For why should not that he rational which God has put forth by his command? to say nothing of what he has emitted by his breath. But that is to be considered as irrational which came afterwards, as being what took place at the instigation of the serpent, the committed act itself of transgression, and what then grew in and together with the soul as something now natural, because it happened immediately at the commencement of nature. The introduction of sin is from the devil. But all sin is irrational. Therefore the irrational is from the devil, from whom is also sin, which is extraneous to God from whom the irrational is foreign." According to this, the corruption of the soul became a second nature after the fall.
Finally, like so many fathers both before and after him, and of the Greek as well as of the Latin church, Tertullian considered human suffering, and the pains of parturition among the rest, as the consequence of Adam's sin, and to be denominated a kind of inheritance, after that sin; which sin also propagated itself among his posterity. De Poenit. c. 2; De Habitu muliebri, c. 1. The curse pronounced, according to Genesis, upon Adam and Eve, must certainly have contributed to the universality of this view.
Ambrose also taught plainly enough a "vitiosity of the soul" propagated from Adam. Here I place no stress on the explanation of the complaint of Job, given by Ambrose in the third chapter of his first book De Interp. Job. We do not even see whether it contains the opinion of Ambrose on original sin, since it merely shows how Job considered the unhappy condition of man; and then the explanation itself is obscure, and it rather appears to me that we are to refer the fault (culpa) which comes upon the child from the cradle, to bodily death. There are, however, enough of plain passages on the point. in the lost book of Ambrose De Sacramento Regenerationis sive De Philosophia, he says, in a passage quoted by Augustine (C. Jul. 11. 6): "Eve brought forth unhappily, as she left travail to women as an inheritance, and every one produced by the pleasure of lust, et genitalibus visceribus infusus, et coagulatus in sanguine, in pannis involutus, contracts the contagion of sin before he draws vital breath." Here is manifestly the doctrine, that children are born already corrupt, and that this corruption comes from Eve and was propagated by her. Also in the enarratio in Psalm L. Davidis, which is likewise designated by the name of the apologia prophetae Davidis (in Aug. c. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 11; C. Jul. 1. 3), Ambrose says, "Before we are born, we are stained with contagion, and before we enjoy the light, we receive the injury of our origin, and are conceived in iniquity. We are conceived in the sins of our parents and in their transgressions are we born. And even birth itself has its contagions, nor has nature herself merely one contagion." Here it is manifestly taught, that we are conceived and born with original sin. Ambrose also says (De Poen. c. 2): "All men are born under sin, whose birth itself is in vice." Aug. C. Jul. If. 3; C. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 11; Op. Imp. II. 163. He says in another place, "The variance of flesh and spirit has, through the transgression of the first man, passed into our nature (in naturam vertit)." Ambrose in Luc. I. 7, on Luke 12:52, in Aug. C. Jul. II. 5. And he says of Peter (De Initiandis c. 6) whose feet the Master washed: "Peter was clean, yet he ought to wash the sole of his foot. For he had by succession the sin of the first man whom the serpent had beguiled and persuaded to err. Therefore the sole of his foot was washed, that hereditary sins might be removed."
Passages of like import we find everywhere in the works of Ambrose; and they are diligently enough quoted by Augustine. We content ourselves with here presenting only one more, which leaves no doubt at all of his theory, and which is taken from his exposition of Isaiah, and is quoted by Augustine, De Nupt. et Conc. I 35; II 5, "Every man is a liar, and no one is without sin except God only. It is therefore proved that no one, produced from man and woman, i.e., by the mingling of their bodies, is free from sin. But whoever is without sin, is without this kind of conception." Hence he considered small children as recovered from the evil (malitia) by baptism at the commencement of their being. Lib. 1. in Evang. Lucae, in Aug. C. Jul. 1. 3. He considered Jesus alone as unpolluted, because begotten of uncorrupted seed. Lib. II. in Evan. Lucae, in Aug. 1. c; and in another passage from the book De Area et Noe, now lost but quoted by Augustine, C. Jul. 11. 2. Ambrose must therefore have agreed with Augustine in holding generation as something in itself bad, as is manifest both from the passages already quoted and from others which Augustine has collected, C. d. Epp. Pel, IV. 11.
The first germ therefore of the idea of an original sin or a conveyance of Adam's sin by propagation, is to be sought in Tertullian. In him also first appears the expression tradux in reference to the evil of sin propagated by generation, as also the expression originis vitium. In Cyprian also, a faithful disciple of Tertullan in most points, it has been maintained that the doctrine is found of a corruption of the soul propagated by generation. This, however, is not perfectly clear, although several passages, quoted in part from his works by Jerome and Augustine, seem to lead to this conclusion.
From Africa this view spread over the rest of the west. It was plainly enough exhibited by Ambrose bishop of Milan. But in the hands of Augustine, it became wholly African. He carried it so far as to defend the total inability of man for good, which none of the earlier fathers intended; nor could they with their assumption of human freedom after the fall.
But it is singular enough that Africa should become a pattern in religious theory for the whole west, and that the unphilosophical Tertullian should lay the first foundation for it! We need not, however, wonder that Tertullian should derive "the vitiosity" of the soul from parents to children by propagation, since he taught the materiality of the soul and admitted that the soul is propagated by generation. He was also confirmed in this view by observing the agreement in disposition of the child with the parents. De Anima, 25.
Now those fathers who admit such an inborn vitiosity, also regard it as one of the causes of the sins which are committed by Adam's descendants. But they also ascribe to the devil a great power over men. How great it was generally supposed in the Latin church to be, is apparent from the exsuffatio and the exorcism, which were such important rites in baptism. This power, was supposed to have been gained by the devil through Adam's fall. Ambrose expresses himself very strongly on this point in his book DeTobia c.9. "Who is that usurer of sins but the devil, from whom Eve borrowed the sin which passed over to her posterity, and by the interest involved the whole human race in debt (defoeneravit). Finally, as a base usurer he held the hand writing which the Lord afterwards blotted out by his blood. For what is written in letters of death must be blotted out by death. The usurer therefore is the devil." See also other places. Ambrose therefore conceived of the power which the devil exerts over men as a rightful possession of which he must be dispossessed by the blood of Christ, if God would not be unjust towards him. "The price (pretium) of our liberation was the blood of Christ, which must necessarily be paid to him to whom we were sold by our sins." Ep. 77. The Latin fathers, as was in part the fact with the Greek, might also allow the force of habit always to have an influence in aggravating the propensity to sin in Adam's posterity.
Among the rest of the Latin fathers, a Gallic bishop, Hilary of Poictiers (Hilarius Pictaviensis), whom Horn omits to mention, must not here be overlooked. He was contemporary with Athanasius and a zealous defender of him in the doctrine of the relation of the Son to the Father. But in the doctrine of original sin, he differed from the Athanusian view. He also admitted with Tertullian a propagation of sin by generation, a "vice of origin." In Psalm cxviii. lit. 14. & 20. But he did not make sin to proceed from the soul but from the body, by which he connected the increased sensuality which the Greeks assumed, with the vitiosity of the soul which Tertullian taught, and therefore, in a sort, orientalism with occidentalism. For though he attributed a perversity (malitia) to all men (in Psalm cxviii. lit. 15. § 6), and by no means freed the soul from corruption, (comment, in Matt. x.), yet he considered the body as the material of all vices (omnium vitiorum materiem), by which (per quam) we, impure and defiled, retain nothing of purity and innocence. He supposes the devil to avail himself of the infirmity of our flesh through which he seeks to entice us to evil, to whose seductions we must oppose the strength of the mind (firmitatem animi). In this sense bespeaks of an "instinct of our nature," which impels us to vice, from which the religion of faith must bring us back; though even with the best will, man must place the reliance in God's mercy, which will not impute to man his trespasses. See the passages quoted from the writings of Hilary by Augustine, C. Jul. 11. S. Comp. In Psalm. cxviii. lit. 11. § 5. Hilary also differed in an essential point from the Augustinian view of original sin, by assuming the other fathers before Augustine, the freedom of the will. Hilary therefore did not hold to such corruption, as that man, without the supernatural aid of God's grace, can do nothing but evil. "The rich man in Hades might have been in Abraham's bosom by the liberty of will." In Psalm. 51:62, 5; 118:14. "There is not any necessity of sin in the natures of men; but the practice of sin is derived (arripitur) from the appetite of the will and the delight of sins." In Psalm. 68:9.
Other fathers of the Latin church, belonging to the fourth century, though less renowned, are quoted by Augustine in support of his original sin. C. Jul. 1. 3. Though they did not indeed teach an Augustinian original sin, yet they seem really to have taught a transmission of Adam's sin by propagation; and we hence see how widely Tertullian's doctrine had spread in the fourth century. Thus Reticius, a bishop of Augustodunum (Autun) taught that baptism is a principal mode of remission (indulgentia principalis), by which we lay down the whole burden of the ancient crime (antiqui criminis omne pondus exponimus), and blot out the ancient transgressions of our ignorance, when we also put off the old man with the inborn vices (ubi et veterem hominem cum ingenitis sceleribus exuimus). Olympius, a Spanish bishop, expressed himself thus, in a discourse: "If faith had remained incorrupt on earth, never would vice have sprung up through the death--bringing transgression of the first man, so that sin should be born with man," This seems to refer to a corruption of the soul.
7. Almost all the fathers before Augustine, besides regarding the bodily death of Adam as a consequence of his transgression, as already shown, generally considered the physical state of man before the fall as being better than Pelagius supposed it. He therefore differed from them on this point. The toil of labor, the pains of parturition, and the subjection of the wife, constitute a part of the condemnation of the first pair for their transgression, according to Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III. 23, 2. Consequently these evils could have found no place in Paradise. Chrysostom also derives from Adam's fall the noxiousness of beasts to man, and their fear of him, according to a passage quoted by Augustine (C. Jul. 1. 6) from his ninth homily on Genesis. The account in Genesis of the curse which God pronounced on the earth, has plainly conduced to the universality of this view. Finally, the fathers, as soon as they assumed that Adam would not have died if he had not sinned, must also have considered him, previously to sinning, as free from all the evils which could have death as their consequence.
Hence it is clear, that the fathers before Augustine agreed neither with Augustine nor Pelagius on the points adduced. No one assumed, with Augustine, that the original freedom of the will was lost after the fall; no one allowed with him that children are condemned for Adam's sin; no one assumed with him an imputation of Adam's sin, and therefore also no one assumed any forgiveness of it in infant baptism. Nor did any one assume with Pelagius, that Adam would have died even if he had not sinned. Especially were the fathers of the Latin church at a remove from the Pelagian representation, by their assumption of an original sin; as also among the Greek fathers, perhaps no one regarded man, in his present natural state, as so incorrupt in a moral and physical view as Pelagius thought him. The fathers had therefore not the entire system of Pelagius; and as little had they that of Augustine; and generally as yet no definite and consistent system at all on the now-contested doctrines. The opinions of the Greek fathers especially differed immeasurably from Augustine's system in respect to the consequences of Adam's sin.
The striking difference of Augustinism from the previous doctrine of the fathers, will be still more apparent from the following investigation.
II. OPINIONS OF THE FATHERS BEFORE AUGUSTINE RESPECTING GRACE, PREDESTINATION, AND THE EXTENT OF REDEMPTION.
As the ante-Augustine fathers admitted no Augustinian original sin, i.e., no such moral debasement propagated from Adam that man can will and do nothing but evil, but even those who came nearest to Augustine, still always acknowledged the moral freedom of man, so, unless they would be guilty of the most palpable inconsistency, they could neither maintain any "irresistible grace" nor any absolute predestination, nor therefore even any limitation of the redemption of Christ to the elect. Individual fathers might lay ever so much stress on grace, yet in Augustinian grace they could not admit if freewill was to remain to man. This, which might be expected beforehand, will be established in the following investigation.
1. Several of the fathers, both Greek and Latin, laid a great stress on grace; but they did not teach an Augustinian grace. Nor yet was it a Pelagian grace.
First, the Greek fathers. Irenaeus makes faith and the willing of good to depend on man, and then a greater and more perfect illumination of the understanding to be imparted by God. C. Haer. IV. 29.
[The following declaration, however, as given by Cave, is indicative of a very deep sense of our dependence in this spiritual grandson of the apostle John, however he might think as to the order of precedence in the human and the divine movement. "As well may the dry ground (says Irenaeus) produce fruit without rain to moisten it, as we, who are at first like dried sticks, he fruitful unto a good life without voluntary showers from above, that is (as he adds) the laver of the Spirit." Adv. Haer. III. 19. TR.]
In the same way Theophilus explains himself, Ad Autolycum, I. 7.
However strongly the Alexandrians Clement and Origen defend the freedom of man in his present state, they still by no means exclude divine grace. In De Princ. III. 2, Origen taught that the good purpose alone is not adequate to the accomplishment of good, but that it is brought to completion only by divine grace. And in c. 1, where he treats minutely of freewill, he states that the willing and the running of man, are not sufficient for attaining the object, but the grace of God is required.
Macarius and Basil express themselves with peculiar strength respecting grace, though the latter in other places so greatly exalts man's natural powers for good, and the former also mentions the application of one's own power as the necessary condition of enjoying grace. The homilies of Macarius are full of passages which assert, that the soul bereft of grace is dead; that without the help of the Holy Ghost, it can accomplish nothing for its salvation; that the soul is subjected to vice; and that as the bird cannot fly if the wings are not restored which were taken from him, so men cannot act without grace, which repairs the want of nature. Among all the assertions which we find in Basil respecting grace, that is perhaps the strongest which is quoted by Basuage (Histoire de l'E'glise. I. 628), in which it is said, with a rhetorical hyperbole indeed, that we cannot utter a word to the honor of Jesus Christ, if the Holy Ghost does not work in us.
Both the Gregories made the bestowment of grace dependent on man's own strivings. Grace must come as help in order completely to change the heart of man.
Chrysostom thus expresses himself on the relation of grace to freedom, in his twelfth homily on Hebrews: "All is in God's power, but so that our freewill is not lost. It depends therefore on us and on him. We must first choose the good (_______ __ _____), and then he adds what belongs to him (__ ____ ______ _______). He does not precede our willing (__ _________ ___ ________ _________), that our freewill may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then he affords us much help. It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God's to-perfect and bring to the end." He made faith to proceed from man, as might be supposed from what has already been quoted. Homil, II. in Psalm L. In another passage he says: "God imparts to us power (_________ ___ ______). All does not depend on us. To choose good, to will it, to prosecute it with zeal, to make every effort, lies in our freewill; but to accomplish it, to not suffer us to fail, and to reach the mark of good deeds, is the work of heavenly grace." T. VI. 164.
The fathers of the Latin church, especially Cyprian and Ambrose, (to whose authority Augustine very often, though erroneously, appeals in regard to his own theory of grace), speak in very strong expressions respecting the operations of divine grace. Respecting Cyprian, Augustine refers especially to his Exposition of the Lord's Prayer, and quotes several passages on the subject, in C. d. Epp. Pei. IV. 9. Thus Cyprian writes: "We say, Hallowed be thy name, not as if we desired of God that it might be sanctified by our prayers, but because we ask of him that his name may be sanctified in us. Besides, by whom is God sanctified, who himself sanctifies? But because he himself says, be ye holy, as I also am holy, we seek and pray, that we who are sanctified in baptism, may persevere in that which we have begun to be. We add also and say, Thy will be done in heaven and in earth, not that God should do what he will, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who shall withstand God, that he may not do what he will? But because we are opposed by the devil, so that our mind and conduct should not in all things be in subjection to God, we pray that God's will may be done in us. That this may he done in us, there is need of God's will, i.e., of his aid and protection, for no one is valiant in his own strength, but is safe by the grace (indulgentia) and compassion of God." In a letter (Ep. 215) written about the year 427, Augustine also refers the Adrumetian monks, in respect to divine grace, to Cyprian's exposition of the Lord's prayer. Cyprian teaches, that everything pertaining to our morals whereby we live properly, must be sought from our Father in heaven. Augustine also frequently refers to the words of Cyprian, "we are to glory in nothing, for nothing is ours." Testim. III. 4.
Ambrose, likewise, in the second book of his Exposition of Luke (Aug. De Gr. Chr. 44), thus expresses himself respecting grace: "The power of the Lord always cooperates with human efforts, so that no one can build without the Lord, no one can guard without the Lord, no one can begin anything without the Lord." In other passages also, of which Augustine has quoted several (C. d. Epp. Pel. IV. 11), Ambrose lays great stress on the aid of divine grace for the practice of virtue. Thus, in De Fuga Saeculi, c. 1, he says: "The allurement of earthly desires steals in and a flood (offusio) of vanities occupies the mind, so that you must think and revolve in your mind, what you ought to avoid; to guard against which, is difficult for man; to put away, impossible. That this is rather an object of desire than of achievement, the prophet testifies by saying, Turn away my heart to thy testimonies and not to avarice. For our heart and our thoughts are not in our power, which unexpectedly confound our mind and spirit and draw them in a different direction from what thou hast prescribed, recall us to secular things, mingle earthly things, introduce pleasures, interweave allurements, and at the very time when we prepare to elevate the mind, we are, by the insertion of vain thoughts, for the most part cast down to earthly things. But who is so happy as always to ascend in his own heart? But how can this be done without divine aid? Certainly in no way." In his Exposition of Isaiah, he says: "Also to pray to God, is a spiritual grace. For no man calleth Jesus the Lord except by the Holy Ghost." On the words of Luke 1:3, It seemed good to me, he makes this note in his exposition of that evangelist: "What he declares to appear good to him, can appear good not to him only. For it appears good not simply by the human will, but as it has pleased Christ, says he, who speaks in me, who causes that what is good should also seem good to us. For whom he pities he also calls. And therefore he who follows Christ, when asked why he wished to be a Christian, may answer, it seemed good to me. When he says this he does not deny that it seemed good to God, for the will of men is prepared by God; for it is the grace of God, that God is honored by the saint." Aug. De Nat. et Gr. 63; De Dono Persev. 19. By Ambrose, therefore, even the will of man is made dependent on the influence of divine grace, on the nature of which, though the main thing, he explains himself no farther.
On the other hand, Hilary Pictaviensis, who lived somewhat earlier, makes the commencement of good, the willing, to proceed from man himself; but ascribes to the aid of divine grace a part in completing the same, and in perseverance in faith. This appears from several passages of his enarratio in Psalm cxviii. In the same way thought his contemporary Optatus of Mileve.
From what has been said, it is manifest that the ante-Augustine fathers, both Greek and Latin, even on the doctrine of grace, thought in accordance with neither Pelagius nor Augustine. They did not agree with Pelagius, because none of them denied the necessity of God's grace to the completion of good purposes, however much individual fathers conceded to human power. The Pelagian Anianus therefore unjustly appeals, in the preface to the translation of some discourses of Chrysostom, to the agreement of his theory of grace with that of Pelagius. This is proved by the passages already quoted from the famous orator, in which he indeed makes the will, but not the execution, to depend on man alone. And especially must the Latin fathers have differed from Pelagius, as several of them taught an inborn vitiosity of the soul. And just as little did the ante-Augustine fathers agree with Augustine in regard to grace. No one of them admitted, that all the good which man wills and does, is merely the effect of an irresistible grace. And a preceding grace, Chrysostom even denied in express terms! As all assumed the freedom of the will, they must always have left something for the application of one's own power, if they would not fall into the grossest contradiction of their own principals. In all the assertions of particular fathers respecting the necessity of grace to the practice of virtue, they must at least have allowed to man the power of admitting or rejecting grace. For if not, where was left the moral freedom of man? But by this they were already semipelagians.
Finally, it is not to be mistaken and is undeniably apparent in the expressions of several of the fathers that, previously to Augustine, the idea of grace was extremely indefinite, and that between a mediate and an immediate grace of God, between its natural and its supernatural effect, there was not a sufficiently nice distinction. Now, the whole Christian economy was called grace by them; now, baptism was so called by way of eminence; now, the forgiveness of sin; now, the influences of the Spirit of God, without their undertaking to define the mode of these influences. Hence the wavering and insecurity in their positions respecting grace; and hence also the ambiguity with which Pelagius could speak of it! But how freely one might express himself respecting the relation of freedom to grace as a divine influence on man in the production of good, before the commencement of the Pelagian controversy, is apparent from this, that even those fathers who were regarded as orthodox, could attribute ever so much weight to man's own power for good, without prejudice to their orthodoxy.
The doctrine of grace which was afterwards denied as semipelagian, might therefore have been the doctrine before and even up to the time of Augustine. Even Jerome, in a work against the Pelagians, written in 415, presents it as an orthodox doctrine, that the commencement of the good will and of faith comes from us. In his dialogue (III. 10), he makes his catholic maintain against the Pelagians, that "freewill consists only in this that we will and desire and approve of things required (placitis). But it is in God's power that we are able, by his help and his aid, to accomplish that which we toil and strive for (quod laboramus ac nitimur)." Even Augustine himself, as we have seen in the exhibition of his theory of grace, at first approached near to semipelagianism!
2. In respect to predestination, the fathers before Augustine differed entirely from him and agreed with Pelagius. With Pelagius they founded predestination upon prescience, upon God's foreknowing him who would make himself worthy of salvation and him who would not. They therefore did not adopt the unconditional predestination of Augustine, but the conditional of the Pelagians. Hence the Massilians were entirely right when they maintained (Aug. Ep. 225), that Augustine's doctrine of predestination was contrary to the opinion of the fathers and the sense of the church (ecclesiastic sensui). And furthermore, no father has explained the epistle to the Romans in the Augustinian way, or so explained it as to educe a grace which precedes the merits of the elect. Augustine endeavored only to make it out by an inference, that Cyprian, Ambrose and Gregory Nazianzen had known and adopted his predestination, as he appealed to the agreement of this doctrine with their theory of grace. De Dono Pers. 19.
The Greek fathers were foremost in teaching a conditional predestination.
By Justin Martyr, in his larger Apology (c. 28), the salvation of men is grounded on God's foreknowledge that they will repent.
[The following specimen from this very early and important father, will show us more fully what he and many others after him thought on this and some of the kindred topics. It will be seen how they had the doctrine of heathen fate continually before their eyes while treating of these matters. I avail myself here of Reeve's translation of Justin's larger Apology, p. 76,
"Lest any should collect," says Justin, "from what has been said, that we are assertors of fatal necessity, and conclude that prophecy must needs infer predestination, we shall clear ourselves as to this point also; for we learn from these very prophets, that rewards and punishments are to be distributed in proportion to the merits of mankind. And if it be not so, but all things are determined by fate, then farewell freedom of the will. And if this man is destined to be good, and that evil, then, neither the one nor the other can be justly approved or condemned; since that unless we suppose man has it in his power to choose the good and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action whatever. But to prove that men are good or evil by choice, I argue in this manner:--We see in the same person a transition to quite contrary actions. But now, were he necessitated to be either good or bad, he would not be capable of this contrariety, nor so often veer from one to the other. Besides, there would not he this diversity of virtuous and vicious in the world: for either we must say with you, that destiny is the cause of evil, and then destiny would act contradictorily to herself in being the cause of good; or else I must say, what I have said already, that you conclude virtue and vice to be themselves nothing, but to receive their estimate of good or bad from the opinions of men only, which, according to right reason, is a consummate piece of impiety and injustice. But this, I will tell you, is destiny, inevitable destiny, that those who choose to walk in the paths of virtue shall meet with appropriate returns of honor; and those who prefer a contrary course, shall be punished accordingly: for God has not made man like trees and beasts without the power of election; for he that has no hand in making himself good or bad, but is born so ready made, is no proper subject for the distributions of justice, for neither the good nor the evil are such by themselves but only as they are formed by the hand of destiny."
To these topics of grace and predestination, as the reader may recollect, belong also considerable portions of the passages adduced on p. 332 sqq. TR.]
Irenaeus teaches (C. Haer. IV. 39. @ 4) that God who foreknows all things has prepared habitations of light for those who seek the light, but habitations of darkness for those who fly from the light.
Clement of Alexandria says expressly (Strom. VI. p. 652), that predestination is directed according to the foreseen actions of men. That Origen made the predestination to holiness or to damnation to depend on the conduct of men, on which point he expresses himself at large, especially in the seventeenth book of his commentary on the Romans, needs the less proof, as Beza himself, in his notes on the same epistle, admits this. In his notes on the ninth chapter, we find the remarkable declaration: "This passage is diligently to be guarded against by those who make the foreknowledge of faith or of works the cause of election. Into which really most base error Origen led most of the ancients, both Greek and Latin; until at length the Lord, through the Pelagians, excited Augustine to the consideration and correction of this error."
Finally, Chrysostom expresses himself very strongly for a conditional predestination. In his fifty-first homily on Genesis, he refers the declaration of the prophet Malachi, The Lord says I have loved Jacob and hated Esau, to God's foreknowledge by which he foretold the virtue of Jacob and the wickedness of Esau. With this compare his sixteenth homily on Romans, where Chrysostom speaks still more fully respecting "the election according to foreknowledge" (______ ____ _________).
All the fathers of the Latin church were equally averse to the Augustinian predestination.
Tertullian teaches (C. Marc. 2, 23), that God elects him who does well, and rejects him who does ill. Hilary of Poictiers says (in Psalm. lxiv. § 5): "Election is not the cause of an unconditional decision (indiscreti judicii), but the election is made according to merit." And in his commentary on Matt. xxii. that many were called but few chosen, because in the calling is manifested a kind regard for the general good, but in the election respect must be had to merit.
Ambrose says (De Fide V. 2): "God did not predestinate before he foreknew, but he predestinated the rewards of those whose merits he foreknew (quorum merita praescivit, eorum praemia praedestinavit)." Augustine appeals (De Gr. Chr. 46; De Dono Pers. 19; Op. Imp. 135), indeed, to the words of Ambrose (lib. 7. in Luc. 9:58): "God calls those whom he sees fit, and makes pious whom he will (Deus quos dignatur vocat, et quem vult religiosum facit)." But that Ambrose would not here maintain an absolute decree, but would rather teach in the sense of Paul, that in the proclamation of the gospel through Christ, God was not guided by the imaginary prerogatives of men who might be supposed to have a greater claim to it, is not only taught by the connection and the occasion of the passage but follows also from other positions of the Milan bishop. Thus he strongly inculcates the doctrine, (in the enarratio in Psalm 48), that God calls all men. But the calling of all men, was in plain contradiction to an Augustinian predestination! Augustine, however, could object, that Ambrose does not here speak of the calling according to purpose (vocatio secundum propositum), but of calling in general. But of such a distinction between a calling according to purpose, which should concern the elect, and a calling which pertained to all men, as Augustine sets it forth--a distinction which can be as little justified from the Bible as from philosophy we find no vestige in Ambrose.
Finally, even Jerome, who was so zealous an armor-bearer to Augustine in the Pelagian controversy, (though, as appears from his dialogue against the Pelagians, he was in no point purely Augustinian, and could by no means ever entirely have adopted Augustinism), in respect to predestination was a decided Pelagian. For he based this on foreknowledge. The proof passages on this point are collected by Vossius in great numbers, p. 738.
But the fathers, in respect to the means which God employs to lead one to salvation does not afford to another, always allowed an unsearchableness of the counsels of God. Only they did not, through the hidden ways of God in the visible world, suffer themselves to err respecting a belief in the revealed benignity of God, which would have all men to be saved, as was the case with Augustine through fondness for his system.
3. As the previous fathers did not hold to the revolting particularism of Augustine respecting predestination, it might of course be expected that they would not confine redemption to the elect, but would in this respect profess the universalism of Pelagius. And this was in fact their general doctrine, No one of them had been impelled by speculation to explain away from the New Testament the universality of God's grace through Christ, who, according to Paul's doctrine, gave himself a ransom for all. So different did they also make the extent of redemption, and so little in their investigations did they enter into the value of the atoning death of Jesus, (about which the scholastics speculated so much), that they universally admitted with Pelagius, that God would have all men to be happy and that God sent Jesus into the world to redeem all men. The proof passages may be found collected by Münscher, (Handb. der Christl. Dogmengesch. II. §198, 200; IV. §105); only we may be allowed to add one further passage from Ambrose which seems peculiarly conclusive. It is found in his enarratio in Psalm. xlviii. § 2. "Christ promises redemption to all, so that no one need tremble, no one despair, as no one is excepted, but every soul is invited to grace, that it may be redeemed from crime without price, and may obtain the fruit of eternal life."
From these doctrines of the ante-Augustine fathers respecting grace, predestination, and redemption, so different from Augustinism, we might infer, if there were still any need of such an inference, that they likewise differed from him on the doctrine of original sin.
From all this comes the result, that Augustine introduced into the ecclesiastical system several views entirely new. He was properly the first to set up a system, which he obtruded on the Christian world as an old orthodox system. This system was in part new in respect to its matter, and must have been wholly new in respect to the form, or the connection, in which he placed the several doctrines with each other. For although some fathers before him, particularly in the Latin church, had some ideas analogous to his, and it may not unjustly be maintained that the germ of Augustinism is found in Tertullian and Ambrose, yet, from his doctrine of original sin, (which he modified in a manner wholly peculiar to himself, and placed in a systematic connection with the other doctrines), he developed consequences which were hitherto wholly unknown and unheard of in the Christian church. Among them were the irresistibleness of divine grace, absolute predestination, and the limitation of redemption to the elect. Even the name original sin (peccatum originale), Augustine may have been the first to use, to which the term vice of origin (originis vitium) in Tertullian, is only similar. By the use of the former expression by the African national council at Carthage, 418, it became symbolic for the African church.
Regarding the doctrine of the church so far as it was hitherto defined by symbols, Augustine might rather be called a heretic than Pelagius. For the former, as we have seen, departed from that doctrine in an essential point as he denied the freedom of the human will after the fall. But we do not find that the Pelagians offended against "the faith" in any grand principle as settled, before anything was decreed by the synods through Augustine's management, respecting the contested doctrines. The symbols generally defined but very little respecting anthropology. However widely therefore the Pelagians departed from all the fathers in their doctrine of the entire incorruption of human nature of Adam, yet, while they varied in no main doctrine from the "rule of faith," they could hardly be called heretics. Often as Augustine arrayed against them the declarations of the fathers, yet he could never bring against them one symbol. In this sense Caelestius was not wrong, when he called the errors imputed to him questions aside from the faith (questiones praeter fidem), and maintained respecting original sin propagated by generation, that the doctrine was the subject of investigation (questionis), but not of heresy.
It is worthy of still further remark, that the Pelagians never formed a sect but always held to the catholic church, and that, although they and their opinions were condemned by the synods, still the Augustinian doctrine in all its extent, at least in its predestination theory, was never expressly pronounced orthodox, at any synod, even including the Ephesian.
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