Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Article 344: De praedestinatione sanctorum; De dono perseuerantiae
De praedestinatione sanctorum; De dono perseuerantiae
When disputes on grace began to arise, monks from Marseilles preferred to accuse their own lack of comprehension than to condemn what they did not understand.1 They wished to consult Augustine and ask him for clearer and less ambiguous explanations. Concurrently, a copy of De correptione et gratia had been brought to Marseilles by an unexpected act of divine mercy. Augustine had written this work in response to the monks at Hadrumetum on the same difficulties. Thus Augustine had responded precisely to the objections on which the French wished to consult him as if he already had appeased their trouble.
Unfortunately his book did not have the desired effect. Those defending the truth previously found new reasons and arguments for maintaining it. Those whose preoccupation had closed their eyes had fallen into darkness and had distanced themselves even farther from the truth. The latter claimed Augustine’s was a totally new teaching, that no one had ever previously explained Paul in this manner. When asked in what sense they wished this doctrine to be explained, they confessed they could find nothing satisfying. Various passages of Augustine’s works prior to the birth of Pelagianism were cited and that was their belief. They could not bear Augustine’s distinction between the grace of Adam without which he could not do good (posse non peccare) and the grace of Christ which causes us to do good (non posse peccare). As for...