Chapter 2.—To What Extent the Massilians 3416 Withdraw from the Pelagians.
For on consideration of your letters, I seem to see that those brethren on whose behalf you exhibit a pious care that they may not hold the poetical opinion in which it is affirmed, “Every one is a hope for himself,” 3417 and so fall under that condemnation which is, not poetically, but prophetically, declared, “Cursed is every man that hath hope in man,” 3418 must be treated in that way wherein the apostle dealt with those to whom he said, “And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” 3419 For as yet they are in darkness on the question concerning the predestination of the saints, but they have that whence, “if in anything they are otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto them,” if they are walking in that to which they have attained. For which reason the apostle, when he had said, “If ye are in anything otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you,” says, “Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, let us walk in the same.” 3420 And those brethren of ours, on whose behalf your pious love is solicitous, have attained with Christs Church to the belief that the human race is born obnoxious to the sin of the first man, and that none can be delivered from that evil save by the righteousness of the Second Man. Moreover, they have attained to the confession that mens wills are anticipated by Gods grace; and to the agreement that no one can suffice to himself either for beginning or for completing any good work. These things, therefore, unto which they have attained, being held fast, abundantly distinguish them from the error of the Pelagians. Further, if they walk in them, and beseech Him who giveth understanding, if in anything concerning predestination they are otherwise minded, He will reveal even this unto them. Yet let us also spend upon them the influence of our love, and the ministry of our p. 499 discourse, according to His gift, whom we have asked that in these letters we might say what should be suitable 3421 and profitable to them. For whence do we know whether by this our service, wherein we are serving them in the free love of Christ, our God may not perchance will to effect that purpose?
[The party which Augustin is here opposing had its chief centre in Marseilles, and hence is called “Massilians.” Prosper in his letter called them reliquiæ Pelagianorum, i.e., “the remnants of the Pelagians.” They are now most commonly called “Semi-Pelagians.”—W.]498:3417
Virg. Æneid, xi. 309.498:3418
Jer. xvii. 5.498:3419
Phil. iii. 15.498:3420
Phil. iii. 16.499:3421
Some mss. read aperta, scil. “plain.”