A Treatise concerning mans perfection in righteousness,
by aurelius augustin, bishop of hippo;
In One Book,
addressed to eutropius and paulus, a.d. 415.
A paper containing sundry definitions, 1362 said to have been drawn up by Cœlestius, was put into the hands of Augustin. In this document, Cœlestius, or some person who shared in his errors, had recklessly asserted that a man had it in his power to live here without sin. Augustin first refutes the several propositions in brief answers, showing that the perfect and plenary state of righteousness, in which a man exists absolutely without sin, is unattainable without grace by the mere resources of our corrupt nature, and never occurs in this present state of existence. He next proceeds to consider the authorities which the paper contained as gathered out of the Scriptures; some of them teaching man to be “unspotted” and “perfect;” others mentioning the commandments of God as “not grievous;” while others again are quoted as opposed to the authoritative passages which the Catholics were accustomed to advance against the Pelagians.
These breves definitiones, which Augustin also calls ratiocinationes, are short argumentative statements, which may be designated breviates.