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Unfinished Work Against Julianus.
I Wrote a treatise, under the title On Marriage and Concupiscence, and addressed it to the Count Valerius, on learning that he had been informed of the Pelagians that they charge us with condemning marriage. Now in that treatise I showed the distinction, as criticially and accurately as I was able, between the good of marriage and the evil of carnal concupiscence, — an evil which is well used by conjugal chastity. On receiving my treatise, the illustrious man whom I have named sent me in a short paper a few sentences culled from a work of Julianus, a Pelagian heretic. In this work he has thought fit to extend to four books his answer to the before-mentioned treatise of mine, which is limited to one book only, On Marriage and Concupiscence. I do not know to whom we were indebted for the said extracts: he confined his selection, evidently on purpose, to the first book of Julianus' work. At the request of Valerius, I lost no time in drawing up my answer to the extracts. And thus it happened that I have written a second book also under the same title; and in reply to this Julianus has drawn up to eight books, in excess of his loquacious powers.
Whoever has perused this second book of mine, addressed (as the first was) to the Count Valerius, and drawn up (as, indeed, both were) for his use, will have discovered that there are some points in which I have not answered Julianus, but that I meant my work rather for him who made the extracts from that writer's books, and who did not arrange them in the order in which he found them. He deemed some considerable alteration necessary in his arrangement, very probably with the view of appropriating by this method as his own the thoughts which evidently were another person's.
Augustine, in this latter book, refutes sundry sentences which had been culled by some unknown author from the first of four books that Julianus had published in opposition to the former book of his treatise
On Marriage and Concupiscence; which sentences had been forwarded to him at the instance of the Count Valerius. He vindicates the Catholic doctrine of original sin from his opponent's cavils and subtleties, and particularly shows how diverse it is from the infamous heresy of the Manicheans.
I Cannot tell you, dearly loved and honoured son Valerius, how great is the pleasure which my heart receives when I hear of your warm and earnest interest in the testimony of the word of God against the heretics; and this, too, amidst your military duties and the cares which devolve on you in the eminent position you so justly occupy, and the pressing functions, moreover, of your political life. After reading the letter of your Eminence, in which you acknowledge the book which I dedicated to you, I was roused to write this also; for you request me to attend to the statement, which my brother and fellow bishop Alypius is commissioned to make to me, about the discussion which is being raised by the heretics over sundry passages of my book. Not only have I received this information from the narrative of my said brother, but I have also read the extracts which he produced, and which you had yourself forwarded to Rome, after his departure from Ravenna. On discovering the boastful language of our adversaries, as I could easily do in these extracts, I determined, with the help of the Lord, to reply to their taunts with all the truthfulness and scriptural authority that I could command.
The paper which I now answer starts with this title:
Headings out of a book written by Augustine, in reply to which I have culled a few passages out of books. I perceive from this that the person who forwarded these written papers to your Excellency wanted to make his extracts out of the books he does not name, with a view, so far as I can judge, to getting a quicker answer, in order that he might not delay your urgency. Now, after considering what books they were which he meant, I suppose that it must have been those which Julianus mentioned in the Epistle he sent to Rome, a copy of which found its way to me at the same time. For he there says:
They go so far as to allege that marriage, now in dispute, was not instituted by God — a declaration which may be read in a work of Augustine's, to which I have lately replied in a treatise of four books. These are the books, as I believe, from which the extracts were taken. It would, then, have been perhaps the better course if I had set myself deliberately to disprove and refute that entire work of his, which he spread out into four volumes. But I was most unwilling to delay my answer, even as you yourself lost no time in forwarding to me the written statements which I was requested to reply to.
The words which he has quoted and endeavoured to refute out of my book, which I sent to you, and with which you are very well acquainted, are the following:
They are constantly affirming, in their excessive hatred of us, that we condemn marriage and that divine procedure by which God creates human beings by means of men and women, inasmuch as we maintain that they who are born of such a union contract original sin, and do not deny that, of whatever parents they are born, they are still under the devil's dominion unless they be born again in Christ. Now, in quoting these words of mine, he took care to omit the testimony of the apostle, which I adduced by the weighty significance of which he felt himself too hard pressed. For, after saying that men at their birth contract original sin, I at once introduced the apostle's words:
By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all men sinned. Romans 5:12 Well, as I have already mentioned, he omitted this passage of the apostle, and then closed up the other remarks of mine which have been now quoted. For he knew too well how acceptable to the hearts and consciences of all faithful Catholics are these words of the apostle, which I had adopted, but which he omitted — words which are so direct and so clear, that these new-fangled heretics use every effort in their dark and tortuous glosses to obscure and deprave their force.
But he has added other words of mine, where I have said:
Nor do they reflect that the good of marriage is no more impeachable by reason of the original evil which is derived therefrom, than the evil of adultery and fornication can be excused by reason of the natural good which is born of them. For as sin is the work of the devil, whether derived from this source or from that; so is man, whether born of this or that, the work of God. Here, too, he has left out some words, in which he was afraid of catholic ears. For to come to the words here quoted, it had previously been said by us:
Because, then, we affirm this doctrine, which is contained in the oldest and unvarying rule of the catholic faith, these propounders of novel and perverse dogmas, who deny that there is in infants any sin to be washed away in the laver of regeneration, in their unbelief or ignorance calumniate us as if we condemned marriage, and as if we asserted to be the devil's work what is God's own work, to wit, the human being which is born of marriage. All this passage he has passed over, and merely quoted the words which follow it, as given above. Now, in the omitted words he was afraid of the clause which suits all hearts in the catholic Church and appeals to the very faith which has been firmly established and transmitted from ancient times with unfaltering voice and excites their hostility most strongly against us. The clause is this:
They deny that there is in infants any sin to be washed away in the laver of regeneration. For all persons run to church with their infants for no other reason in the world than that the original sin which is contracted in them by their first and natural birth may be cleansed by the regeneration of their second birth.
He then returns to our words, which were quoted before:
We maintain that they who are born of such a union contract original sin; and we do not deny that, of whatever parents they are born, they are still under the devil's dominion unless they be born again in Christ. Why he should again refer to these words of ours I cannot tell; he had already cited them a little before. He then proceeds to quote what we said of Christ:
Who willed not to be born from the same union of the two sexes. But here again he quietly ignored the words which I placed just previous to these words; my entire sentence being this:
That by His grace they may be removed from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of Him who willed not to be born from the same union of the two sexes. Observe, I pray you, what my words were which he shunned, in the temper of one who is thoroughly opposed to that grace of God which comes through our
Lord Jesus Christ. He knows well enough that it is the height of improbity and impiety to exclude infants from their interest in the apostle's words, where he said of God the Father:
Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear son. Colossians 1:13 This, no doubt, is the reason why he preferred to omit rather than quote these words.
He has next adduced that passage of ours, wherein we said:
For there would have been none of this shame-producing concupiscence, which is impudently praised by impudent men, if man had not previously sinned; while as to marriage, it would still have existed, even if no man had sinned: for the procreation of children would have been effected without this disease. Up to this point he cited my words; but he shrank from adding what comes next —
in the body of that chaste life, although without it this cannot be done in 'the body of this death.' He would not complete my sentence, but mutilated it somewhat, because he dreaded the apostle's exclamation, of which my words gave him a reminder:
O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24 For the body of this death existed not in paradise before sin; therefore did we say,
In the body of that chaste life, which was the life of paradise,
the procreation of children could have been effected without the disease, without which now in the body of this death it cannot be done. The apostle, however, before arriving at that mention of man's misery and God's grace which we have just quoted, had first said:
I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Then it is that he exclaimed,
O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. In the body of this death, therefore, such as it was in paradise before sin, there certainly was not
another law in our members warring against the law of our mind — which now, even when we are unwilling, and withhold consent, and use not our members to fulfil that which it desires, still dwells in these members, and harasses our resisting and repugnant mind. And this conflict in itself, although not involving condemnation, because it does not consummate sin, is nevertheless
wretched, inasmuch as it has no peace. I think, then, that I have shown you clearly enough that this man had a special object as well as method in quoting my words: he adduced them for refutation in such manner as in some instances to interrupt the context of my sentences by removing what stood between them, and in other instances to curtail them by withdrawing their concluding words; and his reason for doing all this I think I have sufficiently explained.
The Unfinished Work,i. 73.)
Let us now look at those words of ours which he adduced just as it suited him, and to which he would oppose his own. For they are followed by his words; moreover, as the person insinuated who sent you the paper of extracts, he copied something out of a preface, which was no doubt the preface of the books from which he selected a few passages. The paragraph thus copied stands as follows:
The teachers of our day, most holy brother, who are the instigators of the disgraceful faction which is now overheated with its zeal, are determined on compassing the injury and discredit of the men with whose sacred fervour they are set on fire, by nothing less than the ruin of the whole Church; little thinking how much honour they have conferred on those whose renown they have shown to be only capable of being destroyed along with the catholic religion. For, if one should say, either that there is free will in man, or that God is the Creator of those that are born, he is at once set down as a Cœlestian and a Pelagian. To avoid being called heretics, they turn Manicheans; and so, while shirking a pretended infamy, they incur a real reproach; just like the animals, which in hunting they surround with dyed feathers, in order to scare and drive them into their nets; the poor brutes are not gifted with reason, and so they are thrust all together by a vain panic into a real destruction.
Well, now, whoever you are that have said all this, what you say is by no means true; by no means, I repeat; you are much deceived, or you aim at deceiving others. We do not deny free will; but, even as the Truth declares,
if the Son shall make you free, then shall you be free indeed. John 8:36 It is yourselves who invidiously deny this Liberator, since you ascribe a vain liberty to yourselves in your captivity. Captives you are; for
of whom a man is overcome, as the Scripture says,
of the same is he brought in bondage; 2 Peter 2:19 and no one except by the grace of the great Liberator is loosed from the chain of this bondage, from which no man living is free. For
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned. Romans 5:12 Thus, then, God is the Creator of those that are born in such wise that all pass from the one into condemnation, who have not the One Liberator by regeneration. For He is described as
the Potter, forming out of the same lump one vessel unto honour in His mercy, and another unto dishonour Romans 9:21 in judgment. And so runs the Church's canticle
mercy and judgment. You are therefore only misleading yourself and others when you say,
If one should affirm, either that there is free will in man, or that God is the Creator of those that are born, he is at once set down as a Cœlestian and a Pelagian; for the catholic faith says these things. If, however, any one says that there is a free will in man for worshipping God aright, without His assistance; and whosoever says that God is the Creator of those that are born in such wise as to deny that infants have any need of one to redeem them from the power of the devil: that is the man who is set down as a disciple of Cœlestius and Pelagius. Therefore that men have within them a free will, and that God is the Creator of those that are born, are propositions which we both allow. You are not Cœlestians and Pelagians for merely saying this. But what you do really say is this, that any man whatever has freedom enough of will for doing good without God's help, and that infants undergo no such change as being
delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God; Colossians 1:13 and because you say so, you are Cœlestians and Pelagians. Why, then, do you hide under the covering of a common dogma for deceit, concealing your own special delinquency which has gained for you a party-name; and why, to terrify the ignorant with a shocking term, do you say of us,
To avoid being called heretics, they turn Manicheans?
Listen, then, for a little while, and observe what is involved in this question. Catholics say that human nature was created good by the good God as Creator; but that, having been corrupted by sin, it needs the physician Christ. The Manicheans affirm, that human nature was not created by God good, and corrupted by sin; but that man was formed by the prince of eternal darkness of a mixture of two natures which had ever existed— one good and the other evil. The Pelagians and Cœlestians say that human nature was created good by the good God; but that it is still so sound and healthy in infants at their birth, that they have no need at that age of Christ's medicine. Recognise, then, your name in your dogma; and cease from intruding upon the Catholics, who refute you, a name and a dogma which belong to others. For truth rejects both parties — the Manicheans and yourselves. To the Manicheans it says:
Have you not read that He which made man at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:4-6 Now Christ shows, in this passage, that God is both the Creator of man, and the uniter in marriage of husband and wife; whereas the Manicheans deny both these propositions. To you, however, He says:
The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost. Luke 19:10 But you, admirable Christians as you are, answer Christ:
If you came to seek and to save that which was lost, then you did not come for infants; for they were not lost, but are born in a state of salvation: go to older men; we give you a rule from your own words: 'They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.' Matthew 9:12 Now, as it happens, the Manichean, who says that man has evil mixed in his nature, must wish his good soul at any rate to be saved by Christ; whereas you contend that there is in infants nothing to be sired by Christ, since they are already safe. And thus the Manichean besets human nature with his detestable censure, and you with your cruel praise. For whosoever shall believe your laudation, will never bring their babes to the Saviour. Entertaining such impious views as these, of what use is it that you fearlessly face that which is enacted for you in order to induce salutary fear and to treat you as a human being, and not as that poor animal of yours which was surrounded with the colored feathers to be driven into the hunting toils? Need was that you should hold the truth, and, on account of zeal for it, have no fear; but, as things are, you evade fear in such wise that, if you feared, you would rather run away from the net of the malignant one than run into it. The reason why your catholic mother alarms you is, because she fears for both you and others from you; and if by the help of her sons who possess any authority in the State she acts with a view to make you afraid, she does so, not from cruelty, but from love. You, however, are a very brave man; and you deem it the coward's part to be afraid of men. Well then, fear God; and do not try with such obstinacy to subvert the ancient foundations of the catholic faith. Although I could even wish that spirited temper of yours would entertain some little fear of human authority, at least in the present case. I could wish, I say, that it would rather tremble through cowardice than perish through audacity.
Let us now look at the rest of what he has joined together in his selections. But what should be my course of proceeding? Ought I to set forth every passage of his for the purpose of answering it, or, omitting everything which the catholic faith contains, as not in dispute between us, only handle and confute those statements in which he strays away from the beaten path of truth, and endeavours to graft on catholic stems the poisonous shoots of his Pelagian heresy? This is, no doubt, the easier course. But I suppose I must not lose sight of a possible contingency, that any one, after reading my book, without perusing all that has been alleged by him, may think that I was unwilling to bring forward the passages on which his allegations depend, and by which are shown to be truly deduced the statements which I am controverting as false. I should be glad, therefore, if the reader will without exception kindly observe and consider the two classes of contributions which occur in this little work of ours — that is to say, all that he has alleged, and the answers which on my side I give him.
Now, the man who forwarded to your Love the paper in question has introduced the contents thereof with this title: just commendation, nor ascribe its fruits to the devil. For the fruits of matrimony are men which are orderly engendered from it, and not the sins which accompany their birth. Human beings are not under the devil's dominion because they are human beings, in which respect they are the fruits of matrimony; but because they are sinful, in which resides the transmission of their sins. For the devil is the author of sin, not of nature.
Now, observe the rest of the passage in which he thinks he finds, to our prejudice, what is consonant with the above-quoted title.
God, says he,
who had framed Adam out of the dust of the ground, formed Eve out of his rib, Genesis 2:22-23 and said, She shall be called Life, because she is the mother of all who live. Well now, it is not so written. But what matters that to us? For it constantly happens that our memory fails in verbal accuracy, while the sense is still maintained. Nor was it God, but her husband, who gave Eve her name, which should signify Life; for thus it is written:
And Adam called his wife's name Life, because she is the mother of all living. But very likely he might have understood the Scripture as testifying that God gave Eve this name through Adam, as His prophet. For in that she was called Life, and the mother of all living, there lies a great sacrament of the Church, of which it would detain us long to speak, and which is unnecessary to our present undertaking. The very same thing which the apostle says,
This is a great sacrament: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church, was also spoken by Adam when he said,
For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh. The Lord Jesus, however, in the Gospel mentions God as having said this of Eve; and the reason, no doubt, is, that God declared through the man what the man, in fact, uttered as a prophecy. Now, observe what follows in the paper of extracts:
By that primitive name, says he,
He showed for what labour the woman had been provided; and He said accordingly, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.' Genesis 1:28 Now, who among ourselves denies that the woman was provided for the work of child-bearing by the Lord God, the beneficent Creator of all good? See further what he goes on to say:
God, therefore, who created them male and female, Genesis 1:27 furnished them with members suitable for procreation, and ordained that bodies should be produced from bodies; and yet is security for their capacity for effecting the work, executing all that exists with that power which He used in creation. Well, even this we acknowledge to be catholic doctrine, as we also do with regard to the passage which he immediately subjoins:
If, then, offspring comes only through sex, and sex only through the body, and the body through God, who can hesitate to allow that fecundity is rightly attributed to God?
After these true and catholic statements, which are, moreover, really contained in the Holy Scriptures, although they are not adduced by him in a catholic spirit, with the earnestness of a catholic mind, he loses no time in introducing to us the heresy of Pelagius and Cœlestius, for which purpose he wrote, indeed, his previous remarks. Mark carefully the following words:
You now who say, 'We do not deny that they, are still, of whatever parents born, under the devil's power, unless they be born again in Christ,' show us what the devil can recognise as his own in the sexes, by reason of which he can (to use your phrase) rightly claim as his property the fruit which they produce. Is it the difference of the sexes? But this is inherent in the bodies which God made. Is it their union? But this union is justified in the privilege of the primeval blessing no less than institution. For it is the voice of God that says, 'A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.' Genesis 2:24 It is again the voice of God which says, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.' Genesis 1:28 Or is it, perchance, their fertility? But this is the very reason why matrimony was instituted.
You see the terms of his question to us: what the devil can find in the sexes to call his own, by reason of which they should be in his power, who are born of parents of whatsoever kind, unless they be born again in Christ; he asks us, moreover, whether it is the difference in the sexes which we ascribe to the devil, or their union, or their very fruitfulness. We answer, then, nothing of these qualities, inasmuch as the difference of sex belongs to
the vessels of the parents; while the union of the two pertains to the procreation of children; and their fruitfulness to the blessing pronounced on the marriage institution. But all these things are of God; yet among them he was unwilling to name that 1 John 2:16 and
of this world the devil is said to be
the prince. John 14:30 Now, the devil found no carnal concupiscence in the Lord, because the Lord did not come as a man to men by its means. Accordingly, He says Himself:
The prince of this world comes, and finds nothing in me John 14:30 — nothing, that is, of sin; neither that which is derived from birth, nor that which is added during life. Among all the natural goods of procreation which he mentioned, he was, I repeat, unwilling to name this particular fact of concupiscence, over which even marriage blushes, which glories in all these before-mentioned goods. For why is the special work of parents withdrawn and hidden even from the eyes of their children, except that it is impossible for them to be occupied in laudable procreation without shameful lust? Because of this it was that even they were ashamed who first covered their nakedness. Genesis 3:7 These portions of their person were not suggestive of shame before, but deserved to be commended and praised as the work of God. They put on their covering when they felt their shame, and they felt their shame when, after their own disobedience to their Maker, they felt their members disobedient to themselves. Our quoter of extracts likewise felt ashamed of this concupiscence. For he mentioned the difference of the sexes; he mentioned also their union, and he mentioned their fertility; but this last concomitant of lust he blushed to mention. And no wonder if mere talkers are ashamed of that which we see parents themselves, so interested in their function, blush to think of.
He then proceeds to ask:
Why, then, are they in the devil's power whom God created? And he finds an answer to his own question apparently from a phrase of mine.
Because of sin, says he,
not because of nature. Then framing his answer in reference to mine, he says:
But as there cannot be offspring without the sexes, so there cannot be sin without the will. Yes, indeed, such is the truth. For even as
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so also has death passed through to all men, for in him all have sinned. Romans 5:12 By the evil will of that one man all sinned in him, since all were that one man, from whom, therefore, they individually derived original sin.
For you allege, says he,
that the reason why they are in the devil's power is because they are born of the union of the two sexes. I plainly aver that it is by reason of transgression that they are in the devil's power, and that their participation, moreover, of this transgression is due to the circumstance that they are born of the said union of the sexes, which cannot even accomplish its own honourable function without the incident of shameful lust. This has also, in fact, been said by Ambrose, of most blessed memory, bishop of the church in Milan, when he gives as the reason why Christ's birth in the flesh was free from all sinful fault, that His conception was not the result of a union of the two sexes; whereas there is not one among human beings conceived in such union who is without sin. These are his precise words:
On that account, and being man, He was tried by every sort of temptation, and in the likeness of man He bore them all; inasmuch, however, as He was born of the Spirit, He abstained from all sin. For every man is a liar, and none is without sin, but God only. It has accordingly, adds he,
been constantly observed, that clearly no one who is born of a man and a woman, that is to say, through the union of their bodies, is free from sin; for whoever is free from sin is free also from conception of this kind. Well now, will you dare, you disciples of Pelagius and Cœlestius, to call this man a Manichean? As the heretic Jovinian did, when the holy bishop maintained the permanent virginity of the blessed Mary even after child-bearing, in opposition to this man's impiety. If, however, you do not dare to call him a Manichean, why do you call us Manicheans when we defend the catholic faith in the self-same cause and with the self same opinions? But if you will taunt that most faithful man with having entertained Manichean error in this matter, there is no help for it, you must enjoy your taunts as best you may, and so fill up Jovinian's measure more fully; as for ourselves, we can patiently endure along with such a man of God your taunts and jibes. And yet your heresiarch Pelagius commends Ambrose's faith and extreme purity in the knowledge of the Scriptures so greatly, as to declare that not even an enemy could venture to find fault with him. Observe, then, to what length you have gone, and refrain from following any further in the audacious steps of Jovinian. And yet that man, although by his excessive commendation of marriage he put it on a par with holy virginity, never denied the necessity of Christ to save those who are born of marriage even fresh from their mother's womb, and to redeem them from the power of the devil. This, however, you deny; and because we oppose you in defense of those who cannot yet speak for themselves, and in defense of the very foundations of the catholic faith, you taunt us, with being Manicheans. But let us now see what comes next.
He puts to us, then, another question, saying,
Whom, then, do you confess to be the author of infants? The true God? I answer:
Yes; the true God. He then remarks,
But He did not make evil; and again asks,
Whether we confess the devil to be the creator of infants? Then again he answers,
Since union is evil, and the condition of our bodies is degraded, therefore you ascribe our bodies to an evil creator. My answer to this is, I do not ascribe to an evil creator our bodies, but our sins; by reason of which it came to pass that, whereas in our bodies, that is to say, in what God has made, all was honourable and well-pleasing, there yet accrued in the intercourse of male and female what caused shame, so that their union was not such as might have been in the body of that unimpaired life, but such as we see with a blush in the body of this death.
But God, says he,
has divided in sex what He would unite in operation. So that from Him comes the union of bodies, from whom first came the creation of bodies. We have already furnished an answer to this statement, when we said that these bodies are of God. But as regards the disobedience of the members of these bodies, this comes through the lust of the flesh which
is not of the Father. 1 John 2:16 He goes on to say, that
it is impossible for evil fruits to spring from so many good things, such as bodies, sexes, and their unions; or that human beings should be made by God for the purpose of their being, by lawful right, as you maintain, held in possession by the devil. Now it has been already affirmed, that they are not thus held because they are men, which designation belongs to their nature, of which the devil is not the author; but because they are sinners, which designation is the result of that fault of nature of which the devil is the author.
But among so many names of good things, such as bodies, sexes, unions, he never once mentions the lust or concupiscence of the flesh. He is silent, because he is ashamed; and yet with a strange shamelessness of shame (if the expression may be used), he is not ashamed to praise what he is ashamed to mention. Now just observe how he prefers to point to his object by circumlocution rather than by direct mention of it.
After that the man, says he,
by natural appetite knew his wife. See again, he refused to say, He knew his wife by carnal concupiscence; but he used the phrase,
by natural appetite, by which it is open to us to understand that holy and honourable will which wills the procreation of children, and not that lust, of which even he is so much ashamed, forsooth, that he prefers to use ambiguous language to us, to expressing his mind in unmistakeable words. Now what is the meaning of his phrase —
by natural appetite? Is not both the wish to be saved and the wish to beget, nourish, and educate children, natural appetite? And is it not likewise of reason, and not of lust? Since, however, we can ascertain his intention, we are pretty sure that he meant by these words to indicate the lust of the organs of generation. Do not the words in question appear to you to be the fig-leaves, under cover of which is hidden nothing else but that which he feels ashamed of? For just as they of old sewed the leaves together Genesis 3:7 as a girdle of concealment, so has this man woven a web of circumlocution to hide his meaning. Let him weave out his statement:
But when the man knew his wife by natural appetite, the divine Scripture says, Eve conceived, and bare a son, and called his name Cain. But what, he adds,
does Adam say? Let us hear: I have obtained a man from God. So that it is evident that he was God's work, and the divine Scripture testifies to his having been received from God. Genesis 4:1 Well, who can entertain a doubt on this point? Who can deny this statement, especially if he be a catholic Christian? A man is God's work; but carnal concupiscence (without which, if sin had not preceded, man would have been begotten by means of the organs of generation, not less obedient than the other members to a quiet and normal will) is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16
But now, I pray you, look a little more attentively, and observe how he contrives to find a name wherewith to cover again what he blushes to unfold.
For, says he,
Adam begot him by the power of his members, not by diversity of merits. Now I confess I do not understand what he meant by the latter clause, not by diversity of merits; but when he said,
by the power of his members, I believe he wished to express what he is ashamed to say openly and clearly. He preferred to use the phrase,
by the power of his members, rather than say,
by the lust of the flesh. Plainly — even if the thought did not occur to him — he intimated a something which has an evident application to the subject. For what is more powerful than a man's members, when they are not in due submission to a man's will? Even if they be restrained by temperance or continence, their use and control are not in any man's power. Adam, then, begot his sons by what our author calls
the power of his members, over which, before he begot them, he blushed, after his sin. If, however, he had never sinned, he would not have begotten them by the power, but in the obedience, of his members. For he would himself have had the power to rule them as subjects to his will, if he, too, by the same will had only submitted himself as a subject to a more powerful One.
He goes on to say:
After a while the divine Scripture says again, 'Adam knew Eve his wife; and she bare a son, and he called his name Seth: saying, The Lord has raised me up another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.' He then adds:
The Divinity is said to have raised up the seed itself; as a proof that the sexual union was His appointment. This person did not understand what the Scripture records; for he supposed that the reason why it is said, The Lord has raised me up another seed instead of Abel, was none other than that God might be supposed to have excited in him a desire for sexual intercourse, by means whereof seed might be raised for being poured into the woman's womb. He was perfectly unaware that what the Scripture has said is not
Has raised me up seed in the sense he uses, but only as meaning
Has given me a son. Indeed, Adam did not use the words in question after his sexual intercourse, when he emitted his seed, but after his wife's confinement, in which he received his son by the gift of God. For what gratification is there (except perhaps for lascivious persons, and those who, as the apostle says with prohibition,
possess their vessel in the lust of concupiscence 1 Thessalonians 4:5) in the mere shedding of seed as the ultimate pleasure of sexual union, unless it is followed by the true and proper fruit of marriage — conception and birth?
This, however, I would not say, as implying at all that we must look for some other creator than the supreme and true God, of either human seed or of man himself who comes from the seed; but as meaning, that the seed would have issued from the human being by the quiet and normal obedience of his members to his will's command, if sin had not preceded. The question now before us does not concern the nature of human seed, but its corruption. Now the nature has God for its author; it is from its corruption that original sin is derived. If, indeed, the seed had itself no corruption, what means that passage in the Book of Wisdom,
Not being ignorant that they were a naughty generation, and that their malice was inbred, and that their cogitation would never be changed; for their seed was accursed from the beginning? Wisdom 12:10-11 Now whatever may be the particular application of these words, they are spoken of mankind. How, then, is the malice of every man inbred, and his seed cursed from the beginning, unless it be in respect of the fact, that
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned? Romans 5:12 But where is the man whose
evil cogitation can never be changed, unless because it cannot be effected by himself, but only by divine grace; without the assistance of which, what are human beings, but that which the Apostle Peter says of them, when he describes them as
natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed? 2 Peter 2:12 Accordingly, the Apostle Paul, in a certain passage, having both conditions in view — even the wrath of God with which we are born, and the grace whereby we are delivered — says:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ; by whose grace we are saved. Ephesians 2:3-5 What, then, is man's
natural malice, and
the seed cursed from the beginning; and what are
the natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, and what the
by nature children of wrath? Was this the condition of the nature which was formed in Adam? God forbid! Inasmuch as his pure nature, however, was corrupted in him, it has run on in this condition by natural descent through all, and still is running; so that there is no deliverance for it from this ruin, except by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What, therefore, is this man's meaning, in the next passage, wherein he says concerning Noah and his sons, that
they were blessed, even as Adam and Eve were; for God said to them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and have dominion over the earth'? Genesis 9:1 To these words of the Almighty he added some of his own, saying:
Now that pleasure, which you would have seem diabolical, was resorted to in the case of the above-mentioned married pairs; and it continued to exist, both in the goodness of its institution and in the blessing attached to it. For there can be no doubt that the following words were addressed to Noah and his sons in reference to their bodily connection with their wives, which had become by this time unalterably fixed by use: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.' It is unnecessary for us to employ many words in repeating our former argument. The point here in question is the corruption in our nature, whereby its goodness has been depraved, of which corruption the devil is the author. That goodness of nature, as it is in itself, the author of which is God, is not the question we have to consider. Now God has never withdrawn from corrupted and depraved nature His own mercy and goodness, so as to deprive man of fruitfulness, vivacity, and health, as well as the very substance of his mind and body, his senses also and reason, as well as food, and nourishment, and growth. He, moreover, Matthew 5:45 and all that is good in human nature is from the good God, even in the case of those men who will not be delivered from evil.
It is, however, of pleasure that this man spoke in his passage, because pleasure can be even honourable: of carnal concupiscence, or lust, which produces shame, he made no mention. In some subsequent words, however, he uncovered his susceptibility of shame; and he was unable to dissemble what nature herself has prescribed so forcibly.
There is also, says he,
that statement: 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.' Then after these words of God, he goes on to offer some of his own, saying: truth! The prophet, it would seem, to express faith in works, almost imperilled modesty, when he said,
They two shall become one flesh; wishing it to be understood of the sexual union of the male and the female. Let the cause be alleged, why the prophet, in expressing the works of God, should approach so near an imperilling of modesty? Is it then the case that the works of man ought not to produce shame, but must be gloried in at all events, and that the works of God must produce shame? Is it, that in setting forth and expressing the works of God the prophet's love or labour receives no honour, but his modesty is imperilled? What, then, was it possible for God to do, which it would be a shame for His prophet to describe? And, what is a weightier question still, could a man be ashamed of any work which not man, but God, has made in man? Whereas workmen in all cases strive, with all the labour and diligence in their power, to avoid shame in the works of their own hands. The truth, however, is, that we are ashamed of that very thing which made those primitive human beings ashamed, when they covered their loins. That is the penalty of sin; that is the plague and mark of sin; that is the temptation and very fuel of sin; that is the law in our members warring against the law of our mind; that is the rebellion against our own selves, proceeding from our very selves, which by a most righteous retribution is rendered us by our disobedient members. It is this which makes us ashamed, and justly ashamed. If it were not so, what could be more ungrateful, more irreligious in us, if in our members we were to suffer confusion of face, not for our own fault or penalty, but because of the works of God?
He has much also to say, though to no purpose, concerning Abraham and Sarah, how they received a son according to the promise; and at last he mentions the word concupiscence. But he does not add the usual phrase,
of the flesh, because this is the very thing which causes the shame. Whereas, on account of concupiscence there is sometimes a call for boasting, inasmuch as there is a concupiscence of the spirit against the flesh, Galatians 5:17 and a concupiscence of wisdom. Accordingly, he says:
Now you have certainly defined as naturally evil this concupiscence which is indispensable for fecundity; whence comes it, therefore, that it is aroused in aged men by the gift of Heaven? Make it clear then, if you can, that that belongs to the devil's work, which you see is conferred by God as a gift. He says this, just as if concupiscence of the flesh had been previously wanting in them, and as if God had bestowed it upon them. No doubt it was inherent in this body of death; that fecundity, however, was wanting of which God is the author; and this was actually given whenever God willed to confer the gift. Be it, however, far from us to affirm, what he thought we meant to say, that Isaac was begotten without the heat of sexual union.
But let him inform us how it was that his soul would be cut off from his people if he had not been circumcised on the eighth day. How could he have so sinned, how so offended God, as to be punished for the neglect of others towards him with so severe a sentence, had there been no original sin in the case? For thus ran the commandment of God concerning the circumcision of infants:
The uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised on the eighth day, his soul shall be cut off from his people; because he has broken my covenant. Genesis 17:14 Let him tell us, if he can, how that child broke God's covenant — an innocent babe, so far as he was personally concerned, of eight days' age; and yet there is by no means any falsehood uttered here by God or Holy Scripture. The fact is, the covenant of God which he then broke was not this which commanded circumcision, but that which forbade the tree; when
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned. Romans 5:12 And in his case the expiation of this was signified by the circumcision of the eighth day, that is, by the sacrament of the Mediator who was to be incarnate. For it was through this same faith in Christ, who was to come in the flesh, and was to die for us, and on the third day (which coming after the seventh or Sabbath day, was to be the eighth) to rise again, that even holy men were saved of old. For
He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. Romans 4:25 Ever since circumcision was instituted among the people of God, which was at that time the sign of the righteousness of faith, it availed also to signify the cleansing even in infants of the original and primitive sin, just as baptism in like manner from the time of its institution began to be of avail for the renewal of man. Not that there was no justification by faith before circumcision; for even when he was still in uncircumcision, Abraham was himself justified by faith, being the father of those nations which should also imitate his faith. Romans 4:10-11 In former times, however, the sacramental mystery of justification by faith lay concealed in every mode. Still it was the self-same faith in the Mediator which saved the saints of old, both small and great — not the old covenant,
which genders to bondage; Galatians 4:24 not the law, which was not so given as to be able to give life; Galatians 3:21 but the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:25 For as we believe that Christ has come in the flesh, so they believed that He was to come; as, again, we believe that He has died, so they believed that He would die; and as we believe that He has risen from the dead, so they believed that He would rise again; while both we and they believe alike, that He will hereafter come to judge the quick and the dead. Let not this man, then, throw any hindrance in the way of its salvation upon human nature, by setting up a bad defense of its merits; because we are all born under sin, and are delivered therefrom by the only One who was born without sin.
This sexual connection of bodies, he says,
together with the ardour, with the pleasure, with the emission of seed, was made by God, and is praiseworthy on its own account, and is therefore to be approved; it, moreover, became sometimes even a great gift to pious men. He distinctly and severally repeated the phrases,
with emission of seed. He did not, however, venture to say,
with lust. Why is this, if it be not that he is ashamed to name what he does not blush to praise? A gift, indeed, for pious men is the prosperous propagation of children; but not that shame-producing excitement of the members, which our nature would not feel were it in a sound state, although corrupted nature now experiences it. On this account, indeed, it is that he who is born of it requires to be born again, in order that he may be a member of Christ; and that he of whom he is born, even though he be already born again, wants to be freed from that which exists in this body of death by reason of the law of sin. Now since this is the case, how is it he goes on to say,
You must, therefore, of necessity confess that the original sin which you had devised is done away with? It was not I who devised the original sin, which the catholic faith holds from ancient times; but you, who deny it, are undoubtedly an innovating heretic. In the judgment of God, all are in the devil's power, born in sin, unless they are regenerated in Christ.
But as he was speaking of Abraham and Sarah, he goes on to say:
If, indeed, you were to affirm that the natural use was strong in them, and there was no offspring, my answer will be: Whom the Creator promised, the Creator also gave; the child which is born is not the work of cohabitation, but of God. He, indeed, who made the first man of the dust, fashions all men out of seed. As, therefore, the dust of the earth, which was taken as the material, was not the author of man; so likewise that power of sexual pleasure which forms and commingles the seminal elements does not complete the entire process of man's making, but rather presents to God, out of the treasures of nature, material with which He vouchsafes to make the human being. Now the whole of this statement of his, except where he says, that the seminal elements are formed and commingled by sexual pleasure, would be correctly expressed by him were he only earnest in making it to defend the catholic sense. To us, however, who are fully aware what he strives to make out of it, he speaks indeed correctly in a perverse manner. The exceptional statement to the general truth, which I do not deny belongs to this passage, is untrue for this reason, because the pleasure in question of carnal concupiscence does not form the seminal elements. These are already in the body, and are formed by the same true God who created the body itself. They do not receive their existence from the libidinous pleasure, but are excited and emitted in company with it. Whether, indeed, such pleasure accompanies the commingling of the seminal elements of the two sexes in the womb, is a question which perhaps women may be able to determine from their inmost feelings; but it is improper for us to push an idle curiosity so far. That concupiscence, however, which we have to be ashamed of, and the shame of which has given to our secret members their shameful designation, pudenda, had no existence in the body during its life in paradise before the entrance of sin; but it began to exist
in the body of this death after sin, the rebellion of the members retaliating man's own disobedience. Without this concupiscence it was quite possible to effect the function of the wedded pair in the procreation of children: just as many a laborious work is accomplished by the compliant operation of our other limbs, without any lascivious heat; for they are simply moved by the direction of the will, not excited by the ardour of concupiscence.
Carefully consider the rest of his remarks:
This likewise, says he, is confirmed by the apostle's authority. For when the blessed Paul spoke of the resurrection of the dead, he said,
You fool, that which you sow is not quickened. 1 Corinthians 15:36 And afterwards, 'But God gives it a body as it pleases Him, and to every seed its own body.' If, therefore, God, says he,
has assigned to human seed, as to every thing else, its own proper body, which no wise or pious man will deny, how will you prove that any person is born guilty? Do, I beg of you, reflect with what a noose this assertion of natural sin is choked. But come, he says,
deal more gently with yourself, I pray you. Believe me, God made even you: it must, however, be confessed, that a serious error has infected you. For what profaner opinion can be broached than that either God did not make man, or else that He made him for the devil; or, at any rate, that the devil framed God's image, that is, man — which clearly is a statement not more absurd than impious? Is then, says he,
God so poor in resources, so lacking in all sense of propriety, as not to have had anything which He could confer on holy men as their reward, except what the devil, after making them his dupes, might infuse into them for their vitiation? Would you like to know, however, that even in the case of those who are no saints, God can be proved to have bestowed this power of procreation of children? When Abraham, struck with fear among a foreign nation, said that Sarah, his wife, was his sister, it is said that Abimelech, the king of the country, abducted her for a night's enjoyment of her. But God, who had the holy woman's honour in His keeping, appeared to Abimelech in his sleep, and restrained the royal audacity; threatening him with death if he went to the length of violating the wife. Then Abimelech said: 'Will you, O Lord, slay an innocent and righteous nation? Did they not tell me that they were brother and sister? Therefore Abimelech arose early in the morning, and took a thousand pieces of silver, and sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and women-servants, and gave them to Abraham, and sent away his wife untouched. But Abraham prayed unto God for Abimelech; and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid-servants.' Now why he narrated all this at so great a length, you may find in these few words which he added:
God, he says,
at the prayer of Abraham, restored their potency of generation, which had been taken away from the wombs of even the meanest servants; because God had closed up every womb in the house of Abimelech. Genesis 20:18 Consider now, says he,
whether that ought to be called a natural evil which sometimes God when angry takes away, and when appeased restores. He, says he,
makes the children both of the pious and of the ungodly, inasmuch as the circumstance of their being parents appertains to that nature which rejoices in God as its Author, while the fact of their impiety belongs to the depravity of their desires, and this comes to every person whatever as the consequence of free will.
Now to this lengthy statement of his we have to say in answer, that, in the passages which he has quoted from the sacred writings, there is nothing said about that shameful lust, which we say did not exist in the body of our first parents in their blessedness, when they were naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:25 The first passage from the apostle was spoken of the seeds of grain, which first die in order to be quickened. For some reason or other, he was unwilling to complete the verse for his quotation. All he adduces from it is:
You fool, that which you sow is not quickened; but the apostle adds,
except it die. 1 Corinthians 15:36 This writer, however, so far as I can judge, wished this passage, which treats only of grain seeds, to be understood of human seed, by such as read it without either understanding the Holy Scriptures or recollecting them. Indeed, he not merely curtailed this particular sentence, by omitting the clause,
except it die, but he omitted the following words, in which the apostle explained of what seeds he was speaking; for the apostle adds:
And that which you sow, you sow not that body which shall be, but the bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain. 1 Corinthians 15:37 This he omitted, and closed up his context with what the apostle then writes:
But God gives it a body as it has pleased Him, and to every seed its own body; just as if the apostle spoke of man in cohabitation when he said,
You fool, that which you sow is not quickened, with a view to our understanding of human seed, that it is quickened by God, not by man in cohabitation begetting children. For he had previously said:
Sexual pleasure does not complete the entire process of man's making, but rather presents to God, out of the treasures of nature, material with which He vouchsafes to make the human being. He then added the quotation, as if the apostle affirmed as follows: You fool, that which you sow is not quickened — quickened, that is, by yourself; but God forms the human being out of your seed. As if the apostle had not said the intermediate words, which this writer chose to pass over; and as if the apostle's aim was to speak of human seed thus:
You fool, that which you sow is not quickened; but God gives to the seed a body such as pleases Him, and to every seed its own body. Indeed, after the apostle's words, he introduces remarks of his own to this effect:
If, therefore, God has assigned to human seed, as to everything else, its own proper body, which no wise or pious man will deny; quite as if the apostle in the passage in question spoke of human seed.
Though I have given special attention to the point, I have failed to discover what assistance he could obtain from this deceitful use of Scripture, except that he wanted to produce the apostle as a witness, and by him to prove, what we also assert, that God forms man of human seed. And inasmuch as no passage directly occurred to him, he deceitfully manipulated this particular one; fearing no doubt that, if the apostle should chance to seem to have spoken of grain seeds, and not of human, in this passage, we should have suggested to us at once by such procedure of his, how to refute him: not indeed as the pure-minded advocate of a chastened will, but as the impudent proclaimer of a profligate voluptuousness. But from the very seeds, forsooth, which the farmers sow in their fields he can be refuted. For why can we not suppose that God could have granted to man in his happy state in paradise, the same course with regard to his own seed which we see granted to the seeds of grain, in such wise that the former might be sown without any shameful lust, the members of generation simply obeying the inclination of the will; just as the latter is sown without any shameful lust, the hands of the husbandman merely moving in obedience to his will? There being, indeed, this difference, that the desire of begetting children in the parent is a nobler one than that which characterizes the farmer, of filling his barns. Then, again, why might not the almighty Creator, with His incontaminable ubiquity, and his power of creating from human seed just what it pleased Him, have operated in women, with respect to what He even now makes, in the self-same manner as He operates in the ground with grain seeds according to His will, making blessed mothers conceive without lustful passion, and bring forth children without parturient pains, inasmuch as there was not (in that state of happiness, and in the body which was not as yet the body of this death, but rather of that life) in woman when receiving seed anything to produce shame, as there was nothing when giving birth to offspring to cause pain? Whoever refuses to believe this, or is unwilling to have it supposed that, while men previous to any sin lived in that happy state of paradise, such a condition as that which we have sketched could not have been permitted in God's will and kindness, must be regarded as the lover of shameful pleasure, rather than the encomiast of desirable fecundity.
Then, again, as to the passage which he has adduced from the inspired history concerning Abimelech, and God's choosing to close up every womb in his household that the women should not bear children, and afterwards opening them that they might become fruitful, what is all this to the point? What has it to do with that shameful concupiscence which is now the question in dispute? Did God, then, deprive those women of this feeling, and give it to them again just when He liked? The punishment however, was that they were unable to bear children, and the blessing that they were able to bear them, after the manner of this corruptible flesh. For God would not confer such a blessing upon this body of death, as only that body of life in paradise could have had before sin entered; that is, the process of conceiving without the prurience of lust, and of bearing children without excruciating pain. But why should we not suppose, since, indeed, Scripture says that every womb was closed, that this took place with something of pain, so that the women were unable to bear cohabitation, and that God inflicted this pain in His wrath, and removed it in His mercy? For if lust was to be taken away as an impediment to begetting offspring, it ought to have been taken away from the men, not from the women. For a woman might perform her share in cohabitation by her will, even if the lust ceased by which she is stimulated, provided it were not absent from the man for exciting him; unless, perhaps (as Scripture informs us that even Abimelech himself was healed), he would tell us that virile concupiscence was restored to him. If, however, it were true that he had lost this, what necessity was there that he should be warned by God to hold no connection with Abraham's wife? The truth is, Abimelech is said to have been healed, because his household was cured of the affliction which smote it.
Let us now look at those three clauses of his, than which three, he says, nothing more profane could possibly be uttered:
Either God did not make man, or else He made him for the devil; or, at any rate, the devil framed God's image, that is, man. Now, the first and the last of these sentences, even he himself must allow, if he be not reckless and perverse, were never uttered by us. The dispute is confined to that which he puts second between the other two. In respect of this, he is so far mistaken as to suppose that we had said that God made man for the devil; as if, in the case of human beings whom God creates of human parents, His care and purpose and provision were, that by means of His workmanship the devil should have as slaves those whom he is unable to make for himself. God forbid that any sort of pious belief, however childish, should ever entertain such a sentiment as this! Of His own goodness God has made man — the first without sin, all others under sin— for the purposes of His own profound thoughts. For just as He knew full well what to do with reference to the malice of the devil himself, and what He does is just and good, however unjust and evil he is, about whom He takes His measures; and just as He was not unwilling to create him because He foresaw that he would be evil; so in regard to the entire human race, though not a man of it is born without the taint of sin, He who is supremely good Himself is always working out good, making some men, as it were,
vessels of mercy, whom grace distinguishes from those who are
vessels of wrath; while He makes others, as it were,
vessels of wrath, that He may make known the riches of His glory towards the vessels of mercy. Romans 9:23 Let, then, this objector go and contest the point against the apostle, whose words I use; nay, against the very Potter, whom the apostle forbids us answering again, in the well-known words:
Who are you, O man, that repliest against God! Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me like this? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:20-21 Well now, will this man contend that the vessels of wrath are not under the dominion of the devil? Or else, because they are under this dominion, are they made by another creator than He who makes the vessels of mercy? Or does He make them of other material, and not out of the self-same lump? Here, then, he may object, and say:
Therefore God makes these vessels for the devil. As if God knew not how to make such a use of even these for the furtherance of His own good and righteous works, as He makes of the very devil himself.
Then, does God feed the children of perdition, the goats on His left hand, Matthew 25:33 for the devil and nourish and clothe them for the devil
because He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust? Matthew 5:45 He creates, then, the evil just in the same way as He feeds and nourishes the evil; because what He bestows on them by creating them appertains to the goodness of nature; and the growth which He gives them by food and nourishment, He bestows on them, of course, as a kindly help, not to their evil character, but to that same good nature which He in His goodness created. For in as far as they are human beings — this is a good of that nature whose author and maker is God; but in as far as they are born with sin and so destined to perdition unless they are born again, they belong to the seed which was cursed from the beginning, Wisdom 12:11 by the fault of the primitive disobedience. This fault, however, is turned to good account by the Maker of even the vessels of wrath, that He may make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy: Romans 9:33 and that no one may attribute to any merits of his own, pertaining as he does to the self-same mass, his deliverance through grace; but 2 Corinthians 10:17
From this most true and firmly-established principle of the apostolic and catholic faith the writer before us departs in company with the Pelagians. He will not have it that men are born under the dominion of the devil, lest infants be carried to Christ to be delivered from the power of darkness, and to be translated into His kingdom. Colossians 1:13 Thus he becomes the accuser of the Church which is spread over the world; into this Church everywhere infants, when to be baptized, are first exorcised, for no other reason than that the prince of this world may be cast out John 12:31 of them. For by him must they be necessarily possessed, as vessels of wrath, since they are born of Adam, unless they be born again in Christ, and transferred through grace as vessels of mercy into His kingdom. In his attack, however, upon this most firmly-established truth, he would avoid the appearance of an assault upon the entire Church of Christ. Accordingly, he limits his appeal to me alone, and in the tone of reproof and admonition he says:
But God made even you, though it must be confessed that a serious error has infected you. Well now, I thankfully acknowledge that God did make even me; and still I must have perished with the vessels of wrath, if He had only made me of Adam, and had not re-made me in Christ. Possessed, however, as this man is with the heresy of Pelagius, he does not believe this: if, indeed, he persists in so great an error to the very end, then not he, but Catholics, will be able to see the character and extent of the error which has not simply infected, but absolutely destroyed him.
I request your attention now to the following words. He says,
That children, however, who are conceived in wedlock are by nature good, we may learn from the apostle's words, when he speaks of men who, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust, men with men working together that which is disgraceful. Romans 1:27 Here, says he,
the apostle shows the use of the woman to be both natural and, in its way, laudable; the abuse consisting in the exercise of one's own will in opposition to the decent use of the institution. Deservedly then, says he,
in those who make a right use thereof, concupiscence is commended in its kind and mode; while the excess of it, in which abandoned persons indulge, is punished. Indeed, at the very time when God punished the abuse in Sodom with His judgment of fire, He invigorated the generative powers of Abraham and Sarah, which had become impotent through old age. If, therefore, he goes on to say,
you think that fault must be found with the strength of the generative organs, because the Sodomites were steeped in sin thereby, you will have also to censure such created things as bread and wine, since Holy Scripture informs us that they sinned also in the abuse of these gifts. For the Lord, by the mouth of His prophet Ezekiel, says: 'These, moreover, were the sins of your sister Sodom; in their pride, she and her children overflowed in fullness of bread and abundance of wine; and they helped not the hand of the poor and needy.' Ezekiel 16:49 Choose, therefore, says he,
which alternative you would rather have: either impute to the work of God the sexual connection of human bodies, or account such created things as bread and wine to be equally evil. But if you should prefer this latter conclusion, you prove yourself to be a Manichean. The truth, however, is this: he who observes moderation in natural concupiscence uses a good thing well; but he who does not observe moderation, abuses a good thing. What means your statement, then, he asks,
when you say that 'the good of marriage is no more impeachable on account of the original sin which is derived herefrom, than the evil of adultery and fornication can be excused because of the natural good which is born of them'? In these words, says he,
you conceded what you had denied, and what you had conceded you nullified; and you aim at nothing so much as to be unintelligible. Show me any bodily marriage without sexual connection. Else impose some one name on this operation, and designate the conjugal union as either a good or an evil. You answer, no doubt, that you have already defined marriages to be good. Well then, if marriage is good — if the human being is the good fruit of marriage; if this fruit, being God's work, cannot be evil, born as it is by good agency out of good — where is the original evil which has been set aside by so many prior admissions?
My answer to this challenge is, that not only the children of wedlock, but also those of adultery, are a good work in so far as they are the work of God, by whom they are created: but as concerns original sin, they are all born under condemnation of the first Adam; not only those who are born in adultery, but likewise such as are born in wedlock, unless they be regenerated in the second Adam, which is Christ. As to what the apostle says of the wicked, that
leaving the natural use of the woman, the men burned in their lust one toward another: men with men working that which is unseemly; Romans 1:27 he did not speak of the conjugal use, but the
natural use, wishing us to understand how it comes to pass that by means of the members created for the purpose the two sexes can combine for generation. Thus it follows, that even when a man unites with a harlot to use these members, the use is a natural one. It is not, however, commendable, but rather culpable. But as regards any part of the body which is not meant for generative purposes, should a man use even his own wife in it, it is against nature and flagitious. Indeed, the same apostle had previously Romans 9:26 said concerning women:
Even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; and then concerning men he added, that they worked that which is unseemly by leaving the natural use of the woman. Therefore, by the phrase in question,
the natural use, it is not meant to praise conjugal connection; but thereby are denoted those flagitious deeds which are more unclean and criminal than even men's use of women, which, even if unlawful, is nevertheless natural.
Now we do not reprehend bread and wine because some men are luxurious and drunkards, any more than we disapprove of gold because of the greedy and avaricious. Wherefore on the same principle we do not censure the honourable connection between husband and wife, because of the shame-causing lust of bodies. For the former would have been quite possible before any antecedent commission of sin, and by it the united pair would not have been made to blush; whereas the latter arose after the perpetration of sin, and they were obliged to hide it, from very shame. Genesis 3:7 Accordingly, in all united pairs ever since, however well and lawfully they have used this evil, there has been a permanent necessity of avoiding the sight of man in any work of this kind, and thus acknowledging what caused inevitable shame, though a good thing would certainly cause no man to be ashamed. In this way we have two distinct facts insensibly introduced to our notice: the good of that laudable union of the sexes for the purpose of generating children; and the evil of that shameful lust, in consequence of which the offspring must be regenerated in order to escape condemnation. The man, therefore, who, though with the lust which causes shame, joins in lawful cohabitation, turns an evil to good account; whereas he who joins in an unlawful cohabitation uses an evil badly; for that is more correctly called evil than good, at which both bad and good alike blush. We do better to believe him who has said,
I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing, Romans 7:18 rather than him who calls that good, by which he is so conformed that he admits it to be evil; but if he feels no shame, he adds the worse evil of impudence. Rightly then did we declare that
the good of marriage is no more impeachable because of the original sin which is derived therefrom, than the evil of adultery and fornication can be excused, because of the natural good which is born of them: since the human nature which is born, whether of wedlock or of adultery, is the work of God. Now if this nature were an evil, it ought not to have been born; if it had not evil, it would not have to be regenerated: and (that I may combine the two cases in one and the same predicate) if human nature were an evil thing, it would not have to be saved; if it had not in it any evil, it would not have to be saved. He, therefore, who contends that nature is not good, says that the Maker of the creature is not good; while he who will have it, that nature has no evil in it, deprives it in its corrupted condition of a merciful Saviour. From this, then, it follows, that in the birth of human beings neither fornication is to be excused on account of the good which is formed out of it by the good Creator, nor is marriage to be impeached by reason of the evil which has to be healed in it by the merciful Saviour.
Show me, he says,
any bodily marriage without sexual connection. I do not show him any bodily marriage without sexual connection; but then, neither does he show me any case of sexual connection which is without shame. In paradise, however, if sin had not preceded, there would not have been, indeed, generation without union of the sexes, but this union would certainly have been without shame; for in the sexual union there would have been a quiet acquiescence of the members, not a lust of the flesh productive of shame. Matrimony, therefore, is a good, in which the human being is born after orderly conception; the fruit, too, of matrimony is good, as being the very human being which is thus born; sin, however, is an evil with which every man is born. Now it was God who made and still makes man; but
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all sinned. Romans 5:12
By your new mode of controversy, says he,
you both profess to be a catholic and patronize Manichæus, inasmuch as you designate matrimony both as a great good and a great evil. Now he is utterly ignorant of what he says, or pretends to be ignorant. Or else he does not understand what we say, or does not wish it to be understood. But if he does not understand, he is impeded by the pre-occupation of error; or if he does not wish our meaning to be understood, then obstinacy is the fault with which he defends his error. Jovinian, too, who endeavoured a few years ago to found a new heresy, used to declare that the Catholics patronized the Manicheans, because in opposition to him they preferred holy virginity to marriage. But this man is sure to reply, that he does not agree with Jovinian in his indifference about marriage and virginity. I do not myself say that this is their opinion; still these new heretics must allow, by the fact of Jovinian's playing off the Manicheans upon the Catholics, that the expedient is not a novel one. We then declare that marriage is a good, not an evil. But just as the Arians charge us with being Sabellians, although we do not say that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one and the same, as the Sabellians hold; but affirm that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost have one and the same nature, as the Catholics believe: so do the Pelagians cast the Manicheans in our teeth, although we do not declare marriage to be an evil, as the Manicheans pretend, but affirm that evil accrued to the first man and woman, that is to say, to the first married pair, and from them passed on to all men, as the Catholics hold. As, however, the Arians, while avoiding the Sabellians, fall into worse company, because they have had the audacity to divide not the Persons of the Trinity, but the natures; so the Pelagians, in their efforts to escape from the pestilent error of the Manicheans, by taking the opposite extreme, are convicted of entertaining worse sentiments than the Manicheans themselves touching the fruit of matrimony, inasmuch as they believe that infants stand in no need of Christ as their Physician.
He then says:
You conclude that a human being, if born of fornication, is not guilty; and if born in wedlock, is not innocent. Your assertion, therefore, amounts to this, that natural good may possibly subsist from adulterous connections, while original sin is actually derived from marriage. Well now, he here attempts, but in vain before an intelligent reader, to give a wrong turn to words which are correct enough. Far be it from us to say, that a human being, if born in fornication, is not guilty. But we do affirm, that a human being, whether he be born in wedlock or in fornication, is in some respect good, because of the Author of nature, God; we add, however, that he derives some evil by reason of original sin. Our statement, therefore,
that natural good can subsist even from adulterous parentage, but that original sin is derived even from marriage, does not amount to what he endeavours to make of it, that one born in adultery is not guilty, nor innocent when born in wedlock; but that one who is generated in either condition is guilty, because of original sin; and that the offspring of either state may be freed by regeneration, because of the good of nature.
One of these propositions, says he,
is true, the other false. My reply is as brief as the allegation: Both are really true, neither is false.
It is true, he goes on to say,
that the sin of adultery cannot be excused by reason of the man who is born of it; inasmuch as the sin which adulterers commit, pertains to corruption of the will; but the offspring which they produce tends to the praise of fecundity. If one were to sow wheat which had been stolen, the crop which springs up is none the worse. Of course, says he,
I blame the thief, but I praise the grain. So I pronounce him innocent who is born of the generous fruitfulness of the seed; even as the apostle puts it: 'God gives it a body, as it pleases Him; and to every seed its own body;' 1 Corinthians 15:38 but, at the same time, I condemn the flagitious man who has committed his adulterous sin in his perverse use of the divine appointment.
After this he proceeds with the following words:
Certainly if evil is contracted from marriage, it may be blamed, nay, cannot be excused; and you place under the devil's power its work and fruit, because everything which is the cause of evil is itself without good. The human being, however, who is born of wedlock owes his origin not to the reproaches of wedlock, but to its seminal elements: the cause of these, however, lies in the condition of bodies; and whosoever makes a bad use of these bodies, deals a blow at the good desert thereof, not at their nature. It is therefore clear, argues he,
original evil is derived even from marriage, the cause of the evil is the compact of marriage; and that must needs be evil by which and from which the evil fruit has made its appearance; even as the Lord says in the Gospel: 'A tree is known by its fruits.' Matthew 7:16 How then, he asks,
do you think yourself worthy of attention, when you say that marriage is good, and yet declare that nothing but evil proceeds from it? It is evident, then, that marriages are guilty, since original sin is deduced from them; and they are indefensible, too, unless their fruit be proved innocent. But they are defended, and pronounced good; therefore their fruit is proved to be innocent.
I have an answer ready for all this; but before I give it, I wish the reader carefully to notice, that the result of the opinions of these persons is, that no Saviour is necessary for infants, whom they deem to be entirely without any sins to be saved from. This vast perversion of the truth, so hostile to God's great grace, which is given through our Lord Jesus Christ, who
came to seek and to save what was lost, Luke 19:10 tries to insinuate its way into the hearts of the unintelligent by eulogizing the works of God; that is, by its eulogy of human nature, of human seed, of marriage, of sexual intercourse, of the fruits of matrimony — which are all of them good things. I will not say that he adds the praise of lust; because he too is ashamed even to name it, so that it is something else, and not it, which he seems to praise. By this method of his, not distinguishing between the evils which have accrued to nature and the goodness of nature's very self, he does not, indeed, show it to be sound (because that is untrue), but he does not permit its diseased condition to be healed. And, therefore, that first proposition of ours, to the effect that the good thing, even the human being, which is born of adultery, does not excuse the sin of adulterous connection, he allows to be true; and this point, which occasions no question to arise between us, he even defends and strengthens (as he well may) by his similitude of the thief who sows the seed which he stole, and out of which there arises a really good harvest. Our other proposition, however, that
the good of marriage cannot be blamed for the original sin which is derived from it, he will not admit to be true; if, indeed, he assented to it, he would not be a Pelagian heretic, but a catholic Christian.
Certainly, says he,
if evil arises from marriage, it may be blamed, nay, cannot be excused; and you place its work and fruit under the devil's power, because everything which is the cause of evil is itself without good. And in addition to this, he contrived other arguments to show that good could not possibly be the cause of evil; and from this he drew the inference, that marriage, which is a good, is not the cause of evil; and that consequently from it no man could be born in a sinful state, and having need of a Saviour: just as if we said that marriage is the cause of sin, though it is true that the human being which is born in wedlock is not born without sin. Marriage was instituted not for the purpose of sinning, but of producing children. Accordingly the Lord's blessing on the married state ran thus:
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Genesis 1:28 The sin, however, which is derived to children from marriage does not belong to marriage, but to the evil which accrues to the human agents, from whose union marriage comes into being. The truth is, both the evil of shameful lust can exist without marriage, and marriage might have been without it. It appertains, however, to the condition of the body (not of that life, but) of this death, that marriage cannot exist without it though it may exist without marriage. Of course that lust of the flesh which causes shame has existence out of the married state, whenever it urges men to the commission of adultery, chambering and uncleanness, so utterly hostile to the purity of marriage; or again, when it does not commit any of these things, because the human agent gives no permission or assent to their commission, but still rises and is set in motion and creates disturbance, and (especially in dreams) effects the likeness of its own veritable work, and reaches the end of its own emotion. Well, now, this is an evil which is not even in the married state actually an evil of marriage; but it has this apparatus all ready in the body of this death, even against its own will, which is indispensable no doubt for the accomplishment of that which it does will. The evil in question, therefore, does not accrue to marriage from its own institution, which was blessed; but entirely from the circumstance that sin entered into the world by one man, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all sinned. Romans 5:12
What, then, does he mean by saying,
A tree is known by its fruits, on the ground of our reading that the Lord spoke thus in the Gospel? Was, then, the Lord speaking of this question in these words, and not rather of men's two wills, the good and the evil, calling one of these the good tree, and the other the corrupt tree, inasmuch as good works spring out of a good will, and evil ones out of an evil will — the converse being impossible, good works out of an evil will, and evil ones out of a good will? If, however, we were to suppose marriage to be the good tree, according to the Gospel simile which he has mentioned, then, of course, we must on the other hand assume fornication to be the corrupt tree. Wherefore, if a human being is said to be the fruit of marriage, in the sense of the good fruit of a good tree, then undoubtedly a human being could never have been born in fornication.
For a corrupt tree brings not forth good fruit. Matthew 7:18 Once more, if he were to say that not adultery must be supposed to occupy the place of the tree, but rather human nature, of which man is born, then in this way not even marriage can stand for the tree, but only the human nature of which man is born. His simile, therefore, taken from the Gospel avails him nothing in elucidating this question, because marriage is not the cause of the sin which is transmitted in the natural birth, and atoned for in the new birth; but the voluntary transgression of the first man is the cause of original sin.
You repeat, says he,
your allegation, 'Just as sin, from whatever source it is derived to infants, is the work of the devil, so man, howsoever he be born, is the work of God.' Yes, I said this, and most truly too; and if this man were not a Pelagian, but a catholic, he too would have nothing else to avow in the catholic faith.
What, then, is his object when he inquires of us,
By what means sin may be found in an infant, through the will, or through marriage, or through its parents? He speaks, indeed, in such a way as if he had an answer to all these questions, and as if by clearing all of sin together he would have nothing remain in the infant whence sin could be found. I beg your attention to his very words:
Through what, says he,
is sin found in an infant? Through the will? But there has never been one in him? Through marriage? But this appertains to the parents' work, of whom you had previously declared that in this action they had not sinned; though it appears from your subsequent words that you did not make this concession truly. Marriage, therefore, he says,
must be condemned, since it furnished the cause of the evil. Yet marriage only indicates the work of personal agents. The parents, therefore, who by their coming together afforded occasion for the sin, are properly deserving of the condemnation. It does not then admit of doubt, says he,
any longer, if we are to follow your opinion, that married persons are handed over to eternal punishment, it being by their means brought about that the devil has come to exercise dominion over men. And what becomes of what you just before had said, that man was the work of God? Because if through their birth it happens that evil is in men, and through the evil that the devil has power over men, so in fact you declare the devil to be the author of men, from whom comes their origin at birth. If, however, you believe that man is made by God, and that husband and wife are innocent, see how impossible is your standpoint, that original sin is derived from them.
Now, there is an answer for him to all these questions given by the apostle, who censures neither the infant's will, which is not yet matured in him for sinning, nor marriage, which, as such, has not only its institution, but its blessing also, from God; nor parents, so far as they are parents, who are united together properly and lawfully for the procreation of children; but he says,
By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for in him all have sinned. Romans 5:12 Now, if these persons would only receive this statement with catholic hearts and ears, they would not have rebellious feelings against the grace and faith of Christ, nor would they vainly endeavour to convert to their own particular and heretical sense these very clear and manifest words of the apostle, when they assert that the purport of the passage is to this effect: that Adam was the first to sin, and that any one who wished afterwards to commit sin found an example for sinning in him; so that sin, you must know, did not pass from this one upon all men by birth, but by the imitation of this one. Whereas it is certain that if the apostle meant this imitation to be here understood, he would have said that sin had entered into the world and passed upon all men, not by one man, but rather by the devil. For of the devil it is written:
They that are on his side do imitate him. Wisdom 2:24 He used the phrase
by one man, from whom the generation of men, of course, had its beginning, in order to show us that original sin had passed upon all men by generation.
But what else is meant even by the apostle's subsequent words? For after he had said the above, he added,
For until the law sin was in the world, Romans 5:13 as much as to say that not even the law was able to take away sin.
But sin, adds he,
was not imputed when there was no law. Romans 5:13 It existed then, but was not imputed, for it was not set forth so that it might be imputed. It is on the same principle, indeed, that he says in another passage: Romans 3:20
Nevertheless, says he, Romans 5:14 that is, as he had already expressed it,
until the law. Not that there was no sin after Moses, but because even the law, which was given by Moses, was unable to deprive death of its power, which, of course, reigns only by sin. Its reign, too, is such as to plunge mortal man even into that second death which is to endure for evermore.
Death reigned, but over whom?
Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come. Romans 5:14 Of whom that was to come, if not Christ? And in what sort a figure, except in the way of contrariety? Which he elsewhere briefly expresses:
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22 The one condition was in one, even as the other condition was in the other; this is the figure. But this figure is not conformable in every respect; accordingly the apostle, following up the same idea, added,
But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead; much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. Romans 5:15 But why
has it much more abounded, except it be that all who are delivered through Christ suffer temporal death on Adam's account, but have everlasting life in store for the sake of Christ Himself?
And not as it was by one that sinned, says he,
so is the gift: for the judgment was from one to condemnation, but the free gift is from many offenses unto justification. Romans 5:15
By one what, but offense? Since it is added,
the free gift is from many offenses. Let these objectors tell us how it can be
by one offense unto condemnation, unless it be that even the one original sin which has passed over unto all men is sufficient for condemnation? Whereas the free gift delivers from many offenses to justification, because it not only cancels the one offense, which is derived from the primal sin, but all others also which are added in every individual man by the motion of his own will.
For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, by the offense of one upon all men to condemnation; so by the righteousness of one upon all men unto justification of life. Romans 5:17-18 Let them after this persist in their vain imaginations, and maintain that one man did not hand on sin by propagation, but only set the example of committing it. How is it, then, that by one's offense judgment comes on all men to condemnation, and not rather by each man's own numerous sins, unless it be that even if there were but that one sin, it is sufficient, without the addition of any more, to lead to condemnation — as, indeed, it does lead all who die in infancy who are born of Adam, without being born again in Christ? Why, then, does he, when he refuses to hear the apostle, ask us for an answer to his question,
By what means may sin be discovered in an infant — through the will, or through marriage, or through its parents? Let him listen in silence, and hear by what means sin may be discovered in an infant.
By the offense of one, says the apostle,
upon all men to condemnation. He said, moreover, all to condemnation through Adam, and all to justification through Christ: not, of course, that Christ removes to life all those who die in Adam; but he said
all, because, as without Adam no one goes to death, so without Christ no man to life. Just as we say of a teacher of letters, when he is alone in a town: This man teaches all their learning; not because all the inhabitants take lessons, but because no man who learns at all is taught by any but him. Indeed, the apostle afterwards designates as many those whom he had previously described as all, meaning the self-same persons by the two different terms.
For, says he,
as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:19
Still let him ply his question:
By what means may sin be discovered in an infant? He may find an answer in the inspired pages:
By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all sinned.
Through the offense of one many are dead.
The judgment was from one to condemnation.
By one man's offense death reigned by one.
By the offense of one, Judgment came upon all men to condemnation.
By one man's disobedience many were made sinners. Romans 5:12-19 Behold, then,
by what means sins may be discovered in an infant. Let him now believe in original sin; let him permit infants to come to Christ, that they may be saved. [XXVIII.] What means this passage of his:
He sins not who is born; he sins not who begot him; He sins not who created him. Amidst these intrenchments of innocence, therefore, what are the breaches through which you pretend that sin entered? Why does he search for a hidden chink when he has an open door?
By one man, says the apostle;
through the offense of one, says the apostle;
By one man's disobedience, says the apostle. What does he want more? What does he require plainer? What does he expect to be more impressively repeated?
If, says he,
sin comes from the will, it is an evil will that causes sin; if it comes from nature, then nature is evil. I at once answer, Sin does come from the will. Perhaps he wants to know, whether original sin also? I answer, most certainly original sin also. Because it, too, was engendered from the will of the first man; so that it both existed in him, and passed on to all. As for what he next proposes,
If it comes from nature, then nature is evil, I request him to answer, if he can, to this effect: As it is manifest that all evil works spring from a corrupt will, like the fruits of a corrupt tree; so let him say whence arose the corrupt will itself — the corrupt tree which yields the corrupt fruits. If from an angel, what was the angel, but the good work of God? If from man, what was even he, but the good work of God? Nay, inasmuch as the corrupt will arose in the angel from an angel, and in man from man, what were both these, previous to the evil arising within them, but the good work of God, with a good and laudable nature? Behold, then, evil arises out of good; nor was there any other source, indeed, whence it could arise, but out of good. I call that will bad which no evil has preceded; no evil works, of course, since they only proceed from an evil will, as from a corrupt tree. Nevertheless, that the evil will arose out of good, could not be, because that good was made by the good God, but because it was created out of nothing — not out of God. What, therefore, becomes of his argument,
If nature is the work of God, it will never do for the work of the devil to permeate the work of God? Did not the work of the devil, I ask, arise in a work of God, when it first arose in that angel who became the devil? Well, then, if evil, which was absolutely nowhere previously, could arise in a work of God, why could not evil, which had by this time found an existence somewhere, pervade the work of God; especially when the apostle uses the very expression in the passage,
And so death passed upon all men? Romans 5:12 Can it be that men are not the work of God? Sin, therefore, has passed upon all men— in other words, the devil's work has penetrated the work of God; or putting the same meaning in another shape, The work done by a work of God has pervaded God's work. And this is the reason why God alone has an unchangeable and almighty goodness: even before any evil came into existence He made all things good; and out of all the evils which have arisen in the good things which He has made, He works through all for good.
In a single man rightly is the intention blamed and the origin praised; because there must be two things to admit of contraries: in an infant, however, there is but one thing, nature only; because will has no existence in his case. Now this one thing, says he,
is ascribable either to God or to the devil. If nature, he goes on to observe,
is of God, there cannot be original evil in it. If of the devil, there will be nothing on the ground of which man may be vindicated for the work of God. So that he is completely a Manichean who maintains original sin. Let him hear rather what is true in opposition to all this. In a single man the will is to be blamed, and his nature to be praised; because there should be two things for the application of contraries. Still, even in an infant, it is not the case that there is but one thing only, that is, the nature in which man was created by the good God; for he has also that corruption, which has passed upon all men by one, as the apostle wisely says, and not as the folly of Pelagius, or Cœlestius, or any of their disciples would represent the matter. Of these two things, then, which we have said exist in an infant, one is ascribed to God, the other to the devil. From the fact, however, that (owing to one of the two, even the corruption) both are subjected to the power of the devil, there really ensues no incongruity; because this happens not from the power of the devil himself, but of God. In fact, corruption is subjected to corruption, nature to nature, because the two are even in the devil; so that whenever those who are beloved and elect are
delivered from the power of darkness Colossians 1:13 to which they are justly exposed, it is clear enough how great a gift is bestowed on the justified and good by the good God, who brings good even out of evil.
As to the passage, which he seemed to himself to indite in a pious vein, as it were, pious turn to it, thus: true. The Manicheans, indeed, meant to assert this, and they endeavoured to steep in all sorts of evil the very nature of God itself, and not His creature, made out of nothing. For evil arose in nothing else than what was good— not, however, the supreme and unchangeable good which is God's nature, but that which was made out of nothing by the wisdom of God. This, then, is the reason why man is claimed for a divine work; for he would not be man unless he were made by the operation of God. But evil would not exist in infants, if evil had not been committed by the wilfulness of the first man, and original sin derived from a nature thus corrupted. It is not true, then, as he puts it,
He is completely a Manichean who maintains original sin; but rather, he is completely a Pelagian who does not believe in original sin. For it is not simply from the time when the pestilent opinions of Manichæus began to grow that in the Church of God infants about to be baptized were for the first time exorcised with exsufflation — which ceremonial was intended to show that they were not removed into the kingdom of Christ without first being delivered from the power of darkness; Colossians 1:13 nor is it in the books of Manichæus that we read how
the Son of man come to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10 or how
by one man sin entered into the world, Romans 5:12 with those other similar passages which we have quoted above; or how God
visits the sins of the fathers upon the children; Exodus 20:5 or how it is written in the Psalm,
I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me; or again, how
man was made like vanity: his days pass away like a shadow; or again,
behold, You have made my days old, and my existence as nothing before You; nay, every man living is altogether vanity; or how the apostle says,
every creature was made subject to vanity; Romans 8:20 or how it is written in the book of Ecclesiastes,
vanity of vanities; all is vanity: what profit has a man of all his labour which he takes under the sun? Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 and in the book of Ecclesiasticus,
a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam from the day that they go out of their mother's womb to the day that they return to the mother of all things; Sirach 40:1 or how again the apostle writes,
in Adam all die; 1 Corinthians 15:22 or how holy Job says, when speaking about his own sins,
for man that is born of a woman is short-lived and full of wrath: as the flower of grass, so does he fall; and he departs like a shadow, nor shall he stay. Have You not taken account even of him, and caused him to enter into judgment in Your sight? For who shall be pure from uncleanness? Not even one, even if his life should be but of one day upon the earth. Job 14:1-5 Now when he speaks of uncleanness here, the mere perusal of the passage is enough to show that he meant sin to be understood. It is plain from the words, of what he is speaking. The same phrase and sense occur in the prophet Zechariah, in the place where
the filthy garments are removed from off the high priest, and it is said to him,
I have taken away your sins. Zechariah 3:4 Well now, I rather think that all these passages, and others of like import, which point to the fact that man is born in sin and under the curse, are not to be read among the dark recesses of the Manicheans, but in the sunshine of catholic truth.
What, moreover, shall I say of those commentators on the divine Scriptures who have flourished in the catholic Church? They have never tried to pervert these testimonies to an alien sense, because they were firmly established in our most ancient and solid faith, and were never moved aside by the novelty of error. Were I to wish to collect these together, and to make use of their testimony, the task would both be too long, and I should probably seem to have bestowed less preference than I ought on canonical authorities, from which one must never deviate. I will merely mention the most blessed Ambrose, to whom (as I have already observed ) Pelagius accorded so signal a testimony of his integrity in the faith. This Ambrose, however, maintained that there was nothing else in infants, which required the healing grace of Christ, than original sin. But in respect of Cyprian, with his all-glorious crown, will any one say of him, that he either was, or ever could by any possibility have been, a Manichean, when he suffered before the pestilent heresy had made its appearance in the Roman world? And yet, in his book on the baptism of infants, he so vigorously maintains original sin as to declare, that even before the eighth day, if necessary, the infant ought to be baptized, lest his soul should be lost; and he wished it to be understood, that the infant could the more readily attain to the indulgence of baptism, inasmuch as it is not so much his own sins, but the sins of another, which are remitted to him. Well, then, let this writer dare to call these Manicheans; let him, moreover, under this scandalous imputation asperse that most ancient tradition of the Church, whereby infants are, as I have said, exorcised with exsufflation, for the purpose of being translated into the kingdom of Christ, after they are delivered from the power of darkness — that is to say, of the devil and his angels. As for ourselves, indeed, we are more ready to be associated with these men, and with the Church of Christ, so firmly rooted in this ancient faith, in suffering any amount of curse and contumely, than with the Pelagians, to be covered with the flattery of public praise.
Do you, he asks,
repeat your affirmation, 'There would be no concupiscence if man had not first sinned; marriage, however, would have existed, even if no one had sinned'? I never said,
There would be no concupiscence, because there is a concupiscence of the spirit, which craves wisdom. Wisdom 6:21 My words were,
There would be no shameful concupiscence. Let my words be re-perused, even those which he has cited, that it may be clearly seen how dishonestly they are handled by him. However, let him call it by any name he likes. What I said would not have existed unless man had previously sinned, was that which made them ashamed in paradise when they covered their loins, and which every one will allow would not have been felt, had not the sin of disobedience first occurred. Now he who wishes to understand what they felt, ought to consider what it was they covered. For of the fig-leaves they made themselves
aprons, not clothes; and these aprons or kilts are called περιζώματα in Greek. Now all know well enough what it is which these peri-zomata cover, which some Latin writers explain by the word campestria. Who is ignorant of what persons wore this kilt, and what parts of the body such a dress concealed; even the same which the Roman youths used to cover when they practised naked in the campus, from which circumstance the name campester was given to the apron.
Therefore that marriage which might have been without concupiscence, without bodily motion, without necessity for sexual organs — to use your own statement — is pronounced by you to be laudable; whereas such marriages as are now enacted are, according to your decision, the invention of the devil. Those, therefore, whose institution was possible in your dreams, you deliberately assert to be good, while those which Holy Scripture intends, when it says, 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh,' Genesis 2:24 you pronounce to be diabolical evils, worthy, in short, to be called a pest, not matrimony. It is not to be wondered at, that these Pelagian opponents of mine try to twist my words to any meaning they wish them to bear, when it has been their custom to do the same thing with the Holy Scriptures, and not simply in obscure passages, but where their testimony is clear and plain: a custom, indeed, which is followed by all other heretics. Now who could make such an assertion, as that it was possible for marriages to be
without bodily motion, without necessity for sexual organs? For God made the sexes; because, as it is written,
He created them male and female. Genesis 1:27 But how could it possibly happen, that they who were to be united together, and by the very union were to beget children, were not to move their bodies, when, of course, there can be no bodily contact of one person with another if bodily motion be not resorted to? The question before us, then, is not about the motion of bodies, without which there could not be sexual intercourse; but about the shameful motion of the organs of generation, which certainly could be absent, and yet the fructifying connection be still not wanting, if the organs of generation were not obedient to lust, but simply to the will, like the other members of the body. Is it not even now the case, in
the body of this death, that a command is given to the foot, the arm, the finger, the lip, or the tongue, and they are instantly set in motion at this intimation of our will? And (to take a still more wonderful case) even the liquid contained in the urinary vessels obeys the command to flow from us at our pleasure, and when we are not pressed with its overflow; while the vessels, also, which contain the liquid, discharge without difficulty, if they are in a healthy state, the office assigned them by our will of propelling, pressing out, and ejecting their contents. With how much greater ease and quietness, then, if the generative organs of our body were compliant, would natural motion ensue, and human conception be effected; except in the instance of those persons who violate natural order, and by a righteous retribution are punished with the intractability of these members and organs! This punishment is felt by the chaste and pure, who, without doubt, would rather beget children by mere natural desire than by voluptuous pruriency; while unchaste persons, who are impelled by this diseased passion, and bestow their love upon harlots as well as wives, are excited by a still heavier mental remorse in consequence of this carnal chastisement.
God forbid that we should say, what this man pretends we say,
Such marriages as are now enacted are the invention of the devil. Why, they are absolutely the same marriages as God made at the very first. For this blessing of His, which He appointed for the procreation of mankind, He has not taken away even from men under condemnation, any more than He has deprived them of their senses and bodily limbs, which are no doubt His gifts, although they are condemned to die by an already incurred retribution. This, I say, is the marriage whereof it was said (only excepting the great sacrament of Christ and the Church, which the institution prefigured):
For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 For this, no doubt, was said before sin; and if no one had sinned, it might have been done without shameful lust. And now, although it is not done without that, in the body of this death, there is that nevertheless which does not cease to be done so that a man may cleave to his wife, and they two be one flesh. When, therefore, it is alleged that marriage is now one thing, but might have been another had no one sinned, this is not predicated of its nature, but of a certain quality which has undergone a change for the worse. Just as a man is said to be different, though he is actually the same individual, when he has changed his manner of life either for the better or the worse; for as a righteous man he is one thing, and as a sinful man another, though the man himself be really the same individual. In like manner, marriage without shameful lust is one thing, and marriage with shameful lust is another. When, however, a woman is lawfully united to her husband in accordance with the true constitution of wedlock, and fidelity to what is due to the flesh is kept free from the sin of adultery, and so children are lawfully begotten, it is actually the very same marriage which God instituted at first, although by his primeval inducement to sin, the devil inflicted a heavy wound, not, indeed, on marriage itself, but on man and woman by whom marriage is made, by his prevailing on them to disobey God — a sin which is requited in the course of the divine judgment by the reciprocal disobedience of man's own members. United in this matrimonial state, although they were ashamed of their nakedness, still they were not by any means able altogether to lose the blessedness of marriage which God appointed.
PassionIn the Ecclesiastical Sense.
He then passes on from those who are united in marriage to those who are born of it. It is in relation to these that we have to encounter the most laborious discussions with the new heretics in connection with our subject. Impelled by some hidden instinct from God, he makes avowals which go far to untie the whole knot. For in his desire to raise greater odium against us, because we had said that infants are born in sin even of lawful wedlock, he makes the following observation:
You assert that they, indeed, who have not been ever born might possibly have been good; those, however, who have peopled the world, and for whom Christ died, you decide to be the work of the devil, born in a disordered state, and guilty from the beginning. Therefore, he continues,
I have shown that you are doing nothing else than denying that God is the Creator of the men who actually exist. I beg to say, that I declare none but God to be the Creator of all men, however true it be that all are born in sin, and must perish unless born again. It was, indeed, the sinful corruption which had been sown in them by the devil's persuasion that became the means of their being born in sin; not the created nature of which men are composed. Shameful lust, however, could not excite our members, except at our own will, if it were not a disease. Nor would even the lawful and honourable cohabiting of husband and wife raise a blush, with avoidance of any eye and desire of secrecy, if there were not a diseased condition about it. Moreover, the apostle would not prohibit the possession of wives in this disease, did not disease exist in it. The phrase in the Greek text, ἐ ν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας, is by some rendered in Latin, in morbo desiderii vel concupiscentiæ, in the disease of desire or of concupiscence; by others, however, in passione concupiscentiæ, in the passion of concupiscence; or however it is found otherwise in different copies: at any rate, the Latin equivalent passio (passion), especially in the ecclesiastical use, is usually understood as a term of censure.
But whatever opinion he may entertain about the shame-causing concupiscence of the flesh, I must request your attention to what he has said respecting infants (and it is in their behalf that we labour), as to their being supposed to need a Saviour, if they are not to die without salvation. I repeat his words once more:
You assert, says he to me,
that they, indeed, who have not been ever born might possibly have been good; those, however, who have peopled the world, and for whom Christ died, you decide to be the work of the devil, born in a disordered state, and guilty from the very beginning. Would that he only solved the entire controversy as he unties the knot of this question! For will he pretend to say that he merely spoke of adults in this passage? Why, the subject in hand is about infants, about human beings at their birth; and it is about these that he raises odium against us, because they are defined by us as guilty from the very first, because we declare them to be guilty, since Christ died for them. And why did Christ die for them if they are not guilty? It is entirely from them, yes, from them, we shall find the reason, wherefore he thought odium should be raised against me. He asks:
How are infants guilty, for whom Christ died? We answer: Nay, how are infants not guilty, since Christ died for them? This dispute wants a judge to determine it. Let Christ be the Judge, and let Him tell us what is the object which has profited by His death?
This is my blood, He says,
which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28 Let the apostle, too, be His assessor in the judgment; since even in the apostle it is Christ Himself that speaks. Speaking of God the Father, he exclaims:
He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all! Romans 8:32 I suppose that he describes Christ as so delivered up for us all, that infants in this matter are not separated from ourselves. But what need is there to dwell on this point, out of which even he no longer raises a contest? For the truth is, he not only confesses that Christ died even for infants, but he also reproves us out of this admission, because we say that these same infants are guilty for whom Christ died. Now, then, let the apostle, who says that Christ was delivered up for us all, also tell us why Christ was delivered up for us.
He was delivered, says he,
for our offenses, and rose again for our justification. Romans 4:25 If, therefore, as even this man both confesses and professes, both admits and objects, infants, too, are included among those for whom Christ was delivered up; and if it was for our sins that Christ was delivered up, even infants, of course, must have original sins, for whom Christ was delivered up; He must have something in them to heal, who (as Himself affirms) is not needed as a Physician by the whole, but by the sick; Matthew 9:12 He must have a reason for saving them, seeing that He came into the world, as the Apostle Paul says,
to save sinners; 1 Timothy 1:15 He must have something in them to remit, who testifies that He shed His blood
for the remission of sins; Matthew 26:28 He must have good reason for seeking them out, who
came, as He says,
to seek and to save that which was lost; Luke 19:10 the Son of man must find in them something to destroy, who came for the express purpose, as the Apostle John says,
that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 Now to this salvation of infants He must be an enemy, who asserts their innocence, in such a way as to deny them the medicine which is required by the hurt and wounded.
Now observe what follows, as he goes on to say:
If, before sin, God created a source from which men should be born, but the devil a source from which parents were disturbed, then beyond a doubt holiness must be ascribed to those that are born, and guilt to those that produce. Since, however, this would be a most manifest condemnation of marriage; remove, I pray you, this view from the midst of the churches, and really believe that all things were made by Jesus Christ, and that without Him nothing was made. John 1:3 He so speaks here, as if he would make us say, that there is a something in man's substance which was created by the devil. The devil persuaded evil as a sin; he did not create it as a nature. No doubt he persuaded nature for man is nature; and therefore by his persuasion he corrupted it. He who wounds a limb does not, of course, create it, but he injures it. Those wounds, indeed, which are inflicted on the body produce lameness in a limb, or difficulty of motion; but they do not affect the virtue whereby a man becomes righteous: that wound, however, which has the name of sin, wounds the very life, which was being righteously lived. This wound was at that fatal moment of the fall inflicted by the devil to a vastly wider and deeper extent than are the sins which are known among men. Whence it came to pass, that our nature having then and there been deteriorated by that great sin of the first man, not only was made a sinner, but also generates sinners; and yet the very weakness, under which the virtue of a holy life has drooped and died, is not really nature, but corruption; precisely as a bad state of health is not a bodily substance or nature, but disorder; very often, indeed, if not always, the ailing character of parents is in a certain way implanted, and reappears in the bodies of their children.
But this sin, which changed man for the worse in paradise, because it is far greater than we can form any judgment of, is contracted by every one at his birth, and is remitted only in the regenerate; and this derangement is such as to be derived even from parents who have been regenerated, and in whom the sin is remitted and covered, to the condemnation of the children born of them, unless these, who were bound by their first and carnal birth, are absolved by their second and spiritual birth. Of this wonderful fact the Creator has produced a wonderful example in the cases of the olive and the wild olive trees, in which, from the seed not only of the wild olive, but even of the good olive, nothing but a wild olive springs. Wherefore, although even in persons whose natural birth is followed by regeneration through grace, there exists this carnal concupiscence which contends against the law of the mind, yet, seeing that it is remitted in the remission of sins, it is no longer accounted to them as sin, nor is it in any degree hurtful, unless consent is yielded to its motions for unlawful deeds. Their offspring, however, being begotten not of spiritual concupiscence, but of carnal, like a wild olive of our race from the good olive, derives guilt from them by natural birth to such a degree that it cannot be liberated from that pest except by being born again. How is it, then, that this man affirms that we ascribe holiness to those who are born, and guilt to their parents? When the truth rather shows that even if there has been holiness in the parents, original sin is inherent in their children, which is abolished in them only if they are born again.
This being the case, let him think what he pleases about this concupiscence of the flesh and about the lust which lords it over the unchaste, has to be mastered by the chaste, and yet is to be blushed at both by the chaste and the unchaste; for I see plainly he is much pleased with it. Let him not hesitate to praise what he is ashamed to name; let him call it (as he has in fact called it) the vigour of the members, and let him not be afraid of the honor of chaste ears; let him designate it the power of the members, and let him not care about the impudence. Let him say, if his blushes permit him, that if no one had sinned, this vigour must have flourished like a flower in paradise; nor would there have been any need to cover that which would have been so moved that no one should have felt ashamed; rather, with a wife provided, it would have been ever exercised and never repressed, lest so great a pleasure should ever be denied to so vast a happiness. Far be it from being thought that such blessedness could in such a spot fail to have what it wished, or ever experience in mind or body what it disliked. And so, should the motion of lust precede men's will, then the will would immediately follow it. The wife, who ought certainly never to be absent in this happy state of things, would be urged on by it, whether about to conceive or already pregnant; and, either a child would be begotten, or a natural and laudable pleasure would be gratified — for perish all seed rather than disappoint the appetite of so good a concupiscence. Only be sure that the united pair do not apply themselves to that use of each other which is contrary to nature, then (with so modest a reservation) let them use, as often as they would have delight, their organs of generation, created for the purpose. But what if this very use, which is contrary to nature, should perhaps give them delight; what if the aforesaid laudable lust should hanker even after such delight; I wonder whether they should pursue it because it was sweet, or loathe it because it was base? If they should pursue it to gratification, what becomes of all thought about honour? If they should loathe it, where is the peaceful composure of so good a happiness? But at this point perchance his blushes will awake, and he will say that so great is the tranquillity of this happy state, and so entire the orderliness which may have existed in this state of things, that carnal concupiscence never preceded these persons' will: only whenever they themselves wished, would it then arise; and only then would they entertain the wish, when there was need for begetting children; and the result would be, that no seed would ever be emitted to no purpose, nor would any embrace ever ensue which would not be followed by conception and birth; the flesh would obey the will, and concupiscence would vie with it in subserviency. Well, if he says all this of the imagined happy state, he must at least be pretty sure that what he describes does not now exist among men. And even if he will not concede that lust is a corrupt condition, let him at least allow that through the disobedience of the man and woman in the happy state the very concupiscence of their flesh was corrupted, so that what would once be excited obediently and orderly is now moved disobediently and inordinately, and that to such a degree that it is not obedient to the will of even chaste-minded husbands and wives, so that it is excited when it is not wanted; and whenever it is necessary, it never, indeed, follows their will, but sometimes too hurriedly, at other times too tardily, exerts its own movements. Such, then, is the rebellion of this concupiscence which the primitive pair received for their own disobedience, and transfused by natural descent to us. It certainly was not at their bidding, but in utter disorder, that it was excited, when they covered their members, which at first were worthy to be gloried in, but had then become a ground of shame.
As I said, however, let him entertain what views he likes of this lust; let him proclaim it as he pleases, praise it as much as he chooses (and he pleases much, as several of his extracts show), that the Pelagians may gratify themselves, if not with its uses, at all events with its praises, as many of them as fail to enjoy the limitation of continence enjoined in wedlock. Only let him spare the infants, so as not to praise their condition uselessly, and defend them cruelly. Let him not declare them to be safe; let him suffer them to come, not, indeed, to Pelagius for eulogy, but to Christ for salvation. For, that this book may be now brought to a termination, since the dissertation of this man is ended, which was written on the short paper you sent me, I will close with his last words:
Really believe that all things were made by Jesus Christ, and that without Him nothing was made. John 1:3 Let him grant that Jesus is Jesus even to infants; and as he confesses that all things were made by Him, in that He is God the Word, so let him acknowledge that infants, too, are saved by Him in that He is Jesus; let him, I say, do this if he would be a catholic Christian. For thus it is written in the Gospel:
And they shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins Matthew 1:21 — Jesus, because Jesus is in Latin Salvator,
Saviour. He shall, indeed, save His people; and among His people surely there are infants.
From their sins shall He save them; in infants, too, therefore, are there original sins, on account of which He can be Jesus, that is, Saviour, even unto them.
Source. Translated by Peter Holmes and Robert Ernest Wallis, and revised by Benjamin B. Warfield. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15072.htm>.
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