Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Article 281: Honorius’ Law
Because of pressing affairs Augustine remained at Carthage until his trip to Caesarean Mauretenia on September 18, 4181. Augustine was in Carthage when he received two pleasing pieces of news:2 (1) Honorius’ law of April 30, 418 against the Pelagians;3 (2) Zosimus’ condemnation of the Pelagians.4 The decrees of the African Council had been sent, approved by Rome, and followed by the emperors.5 Three pious emperors knew the judgment of the Catholic Church, particularly Aurelius and Augustine, against the Pelagians.6 The emperors condemned the Pelagians by law and ordered them to be treated as heretics.7 Prosper apparently ascribes this last tenet to the law to Boniface, Zosimus successor as pope on December 29, 418.8 In letters written in or about 418, Augustine witnesses the Pelagians had already been pursued by the executors of the law.9 According to Augustine in De peccato originali not only had the council, the Apostolic See, and the entire Roman Church declared themselves against the errors of Pelagianism, but the empire itself had arisen against them.10
Honorius’ law at Ravenna April 30, 418 and addressed to Palladius, prefect of the praetorium, was promulgated for this purpose.11 This manner of acting conforms to other laws of the time. Honorius declares he had first learned by public rumor what Pelagius and Caelestius taught against the universal authority of the Catholic religion. They taught God had created the first man mortal, Adam’s sin was not passed on...