III. – THE NECESSITY AND THE GRATUITY OF GRACE IS PROVED BY TRADITION; CONFIRMED BY THE DECREES OF COUNCILS AND POPES.

 

  1. St. Cyprian (1) lays it down as a fundamental maxim in this matter, that we should not glorify ourselves, as we have nothing of ourselves : ” In nullo gloriandum, quando nostrum nihil est.” St. Ambrose says (2) just the same thing : ” Ubique Domini virtus studiis cooperatur humanis, ut nemo possit ædificaro sine Domino, nemo custodire sine Domino, nemo quicquam incipere sino Domino.” And St. John Chrysostom expresses the same sentiments in several parts of his works, and in one passage, in particular, says (3) : ” Gratia Dei semper in beneficiis priores sibi partes vindicat.” And again (4) : ” Quia in nostra voluntate totum post Gratiam Dei relictum est, ideo et peccantibus supplicia proposita sunt, et bene operantibus retributiones.”

(2) St. Aug. I. 2, de Pec. mer. c. 18. (1) St. Cypri. I. 3, acl Quir. c. 4. (2) St. Amb. I. 7, in Luc. c. 3. (3) St. Chrysos. Hom. 13, in Jean. (4) Idem, Hom. 22, in Gen.

He is even clearer in another passage (5), saying, that all we have is not from ourselves, but merely a gift gratuitously given us : “Igitur quod accepisti, habes, ncque hoc tantum, aut illud, sed quidquid habes; non enim merita tua hæc sunt, sod Dei Gratia; quamvis fidem adducas, quamvis dona, quamvis doctrinæ sermonem, quamvis virtutem, omnia tibi inde provenerunt. Quid igitur habes quæso, quod acceptum non habeas ? Num ipse perte recte operatus es? Non sane, sed accepisti …..Propterea cohibearis oportet, non enim tuum ad munus est, sed largieutis.” St. Jerome (6) says, that God assists and sustains us in all our works, and that, without the assistance of God, we can do nothing : ” Dominum gratia sua nos in singulis operibus juvare, atque substentare.” And again (7) : ” Velle, et nolle nostrum est; ipsumque quod nostrum est, sine Dei miseratione nostrum non est.” And in another place (8): ” Velle, et currere meum est, sed ipsum meum, sine Dei semper auxilio non erit meum. “ I omit innumerable other quotations from the Fathers, which prove the same thing, and pass on to the Synodical Decrees.

  1. I will not here quote all the Decrees of particular Synods against Pelagius, but only those of some particular Councils, approved of by the Apostolic See, and received by the whole Church. Among these is the Synod of Carthage, of all Africa, approved of by St. Prosper (9), which says, that the Grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is not only necessary to know what is right, and to practise it, but that, without it, we can neither think, say, or do anything conducive to salvation : ” Cum 214. Sacerdotibus, quorum constitutionem contra inimicos gratiæ Dei totus Mundus amplexus est, veraci professionc, quemadmodum ipsorum habet sermo, dicainus Gratiam Dei per Jesum Christum Dominum, non solum ad cognoscendam, verum ad faciendam justitiam, nos per actus singulos adjuvari; ita sine ilia nihil verse sanctæque pietatis habere, cogitare, dicere, agere valeamus.”
  2. The Second Synod of Orange (cap. vii) teaches, that it is heretical to say that, by the power of nature, we can do anything for eternal life : ” Si quis per naturæ vigorem bonum aliquod, quod ad salute pertinet vitæ æternæ, cogitare, aut eligere posse confirmet, absque illuminatione, et inspiratione Spiritus Sancti hæretico falliter spiritu.” And again it defines: ” Si quis sicut augmentum, ita etiam initium Fidei, ipsumque credulitatis affectum, quo in eum credimus, qui judicat impium, et ad generationem sacri Baptismatis pervenimus, non per gratiæ donum, idest per inspirationem Spiritus Sancti corrigentem voluntatem nostram ab infidelitate ad Fidem, ab impietate ad pietatem, sed naturaliter nobis inesse dicit, Apostolicis documentis adversarius approbatur.”

(5) St. Chrysos. Hom, in cap. 4, 1, ad Cor (6) St. Hieron, I 3, con. Pelag.. (7) Idem, Ep. ad Demetri. (8) Idem, Ep. ad Ctesiphon. (9) St. Prosp. Resp. ad c. 8, Gallor

  1. Besides the Councils we have the authority of the Popes who approved of several particular Synods celebrated to oppose the Pelagian errors. Innocent I., in his Epistle to the Council of Milevis, approving the Faith they professed, in opposition to Pelagius and Celestius, says that the whole Scriptures prove the necessity of Grace : ” Cum in omnibus Divinis paginis voluntati liberæ, non nisi adjutorium Dei legimus esse nectendum, eamque nihil posse Cælestibus præsidiis destitutam, quonam modo huic soli possibilitatem hanc, pertinaciter defendentes, sibimet, imo plurimis Pelagius Celcstiusque persuadent.” Besides, Pope Zosimus, in his Encyclical Letter to all the Bishops of the world, quoted by Celestine I., in his Epistle to the Bishops of Gaul, says much the same: ” In omnibus causis, cogitationibus, motibus adjutor et protector orandus est. Supcrbum est enim ut quisquam sibi hum ana natura præsumat.” In the end of the Epistle we have quoted of Celestine I., there are several chapters, taken from the definitions of other Popes, and from the Councils of Africa, concerning Grace, all proving the same thing. The fifth chapter says : ” Quod omnia studia, et omnia opera; ac merita sanctorum ad Dei gloriam, landemque referenda sunt; quia non aliunde ei placet, nisi ex eo quod Ipse donaverit.” And in the sixth chapter it says: ” Quod ita Deus in cordibus hominum, atque in ipso libero operatur, arbitrio ut sancta cogitatio, pium consilium, omnis que motus bona voluntatio ex Deo sit, quia per ilium aliquid boni possumus, sine quo nihil possumus.”
  2. The Pelagians were formally condemned in the General Council of Ephesus, as Cardinal Orsi tells us (10). Nestorius received the Pelagian Bishops, who came to Constantinople, most graciously, for he agreed with Pelagius in this, that Grace is given to us by God, not gratuitously, but according to our merits. This erroneous doctrine was agreeable to Nestorius, as it favoured his system, that the Word had chosen the Person of Christ as the temple of his habitation, on account of his virtues, and therefore the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus, knowing the obstinacy of those Pelagian Bishops, condemned them as heretics.

(10) C. Orsi; Ir. Ecc t. 13, l. 29, n. 52, cum St. Prosp I, con. Collat. c. 21 ,

Finally, The Council of Trent (Sess. vi, de Justif.) defines the same doctrine in two Canons. The second Canon says : ” Si quis dixerit Divinam gratiam ad hoc solum dari, ut facilius homo juste vivere, ac ad vitam æternam promoveri possit, quasi per liberum arbitrium sine gratia utrumque, sed ægre tamen et difficulter possit; anathema sit.” And in the third Canon the Council says : ” Si quis dixerit, sine prævenienta Spiritus Sanctus inspiratione, atque ejus adjutoris hominem credere, sperare, diligero, aut pœnitere posse sicut oportet, ut ei justifications gratia confiratur; anathema sit.”