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as well as Ruffinus and others, had great reason to complain. Of him the most learned Joseph Mede says, “St. Jerome is a man of no faith with me, when he describes the opinion of his adversary; which, whatsoever it were, he would set it forth as odiously as possible could be. He was a man that cared not what he said, so it might disparage his adversary"
The British nation, it is thought, could never before, nor yet for many ages after, boast of so learned and accomplished a man as Pelagius; and had he not fallen under the displeasure and censure of such men as Austin, Jerome, and the Pope, his name, in all likelihood, had been honourably inentioned in all succeed ing ages, and not stigmatized and held up, as it has been, and still generally is, to the horror of detestation. When he left bis native country, about the beginning of the fifth century, he is said to have visited France, and spent some time among his countrymen in Britanny, from whence he went to Rome, where he acquired great reputation for his eminent piety and other distinguishing endowments. When the Goths were over-running Italy, and advancing towards Rome, he withdrew from that city and passed over to Sicily, angl afterward to African from whence he soon proceeded to Jerusalem, where he met with a very kind reception and was held in high estimation by the Patriarch John, and the rest of the Christians of that country. During his short stay in Sicily and Africa, Austin discovered that he did not think and speak as he did upon some religious subjects. He therefore thought proper to raise a vioJent outcry on the occasion, and to write against him. At the same time, he had the candour to applaud his moral character and piety, and to speak of him as a person of extraordinary capacity and accomplishments, and one whom he should much 'admire and love, were it not for his heterodox opinions; which, it must be owned was no small encomium from such a quarter. None of his ancient adversaries have spoken otherwise of his character except Jerome, whose rancorous and calumniating disposition towards all his opponents, renders his foul aspersions unworthy of any credit, especially as they are totally destitute of any coroborating evidence*. In his person, Pelagius
*“ The learned and furious Jerome, who never once thought of doing common justice to those who had the misfortune to differ from him in opinion, accused Pe. lagius of gluttony and intcmperance after he hcard of his errors, though he had adınired him before for his exemplary virtue. Austin, more candid and honest, bears impartial testimony to the truth; and even while he writes against this herca tic, acknowledges that he had made great progress in virtue and picty, and that his life was chaste, and his manners blameless; and this, indeed, is the truth of the matter.” Dr. Macaine, note to Mosbeim's Eccl. Hist. Ed. 1774. Vol. 1. p. 424. See also Wall's Hist. Inf. Bapt.
is said to have been a broad set man, round shouldered and blind of one eye*. However that might be, as he was confessedly a man of amiable manners, fervent piety, and extraordinary intellectual endowments, he must have possessed a respectability of character which no bodily blemish could affect, nor any reputed heterodoxy obliterate or destroy, He appears to have been a modest and moderate man, and did not seem very forward in advancing his own particular opinions, or in urging and insisting upon those points in which he differed from others. He seemed to dweil.chiefly upon those practical subjects that were admitted by all parties; but was evidently at the same time a very close and deep thinker. During his stay at Rome, no suspicion appears to have been entertained about his heterodoxy; and in the books he first wrote, particularly his comments on Paul's Epistles, the obnoxious sentiments are said to have been advanced, as the opinions of others rather than his own; somewhat after the manner of bishop Taylor, in modern times, in that book of his called, The Liberty of Prophesy ing:
Celestius t however, and others who were admirers of Pelagius were more open and forward, and did not scruple to advance divers opinions deemed very unsound and heretical by Austin, Jerome, and their adherents. The opinions here alJuded to were these, (if their enemies have fairly represented them, which seems rather doubtful): "1. That Adam was created mortal, and would have died, whether he had sinned or not:-2. That the sin of Adam hurt himself only, and not his posterity:-?. That new-born infants are in the same state that Adam was before he fell:-4. That men may easily keep the commandments of God, if they will.” As Celestius was reputed the friend and disciple of Pelagius, these opinions were ascribed to the latter of course; but there seems to be no very certain or clear proof that he did really entertain them ; on the contrary, we are told that he disavowed them, at least as they were stated and explained by his opponents, whom he complains of as false accusers and slanderers. It seems, therefore, that we ought not to rely on the representation which his enemies have given of his opinions. it is, indeed, but very seldom, if ever,
• Drych y pr. Oyoda
A It is said that Celestius was an Irisbman, and that the Irish were then called Scots; and they were, it seems, fond of porridge, which gave St. Jerome a fine opportunity to lampoon Celestius, saying that he had his belly filled, and his head bedulled with Scotch porridge. Wall, Hist. Inf. Bapt. I. 275.
that intolerant bigots, and fierce disputants, (such as those whom Pelagius had to deal with) give a fair and just statement of the tenets of their adversaries. It seems, however, pretty evident that Pelagius differed considerably from those far-famed saints Jerome and Austin, and the African Bishops, in regard to the original state of man, the effects of the fall, the condition of infants, and the power of man to do the will, or keep the commandments of God; but it does not appear, that he held the above opinions, as his enemies chose to understand and explain them. The principal articles of his heresy are generally said to be comprised under these two heads :-“ A denial of original sin, and of the necessity of divine grace to perform good works:" or, as they are sometimes stated, “ Thathuman nature was not affected by the sin of Adam, and that it is in the power of man to believe the gospel without any internal operations of Grace.” (Reeves' Apol. vol. ii. p. 338, note.). As to original sin, or man's transgression and fall by eating of the forbidden fruit, he did not deny it; nor did he deny that it proved injurious to his posterity; but he denied that God imputed it to thein, and considered them as actually guilty of that transgression, or of the act of tasting of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. The guilt of original sin, or of Adam's first act of disobedience could not, as he thought, consistently with the justice and goodness of God, be imputable to any but to him by whom it was personally and actually committed; and he was said to declare, that it ought not to be granted that God, who forgives us our own sins, should impute to us those of other people. He therefore maintained that men are born without guilt or demerit, as well as without merit; without vice, as well as without virtue; without sin, as well as without holiness : and that they became sinners, not by nature or necessity, but by choice, after having attained some measure of understanding, and become moral agents. His enemies alleged that he held infants to be in the same state with Adam before the fall, which he denied, as infants are without reason and understanding, which was not Adam's case. He thought that man came into the world without any propensity to evil more than to good, and equally capable of receiving good as evil jinpressions : or, in the diuidical language, “ that in the state of humanity good and evil are so equally balanced, that liberty takes place, and the will is free; whence man becomes accountable for his actions, having a power of attaching himself either to the mood or thé evil, as he may or may not subject his propensities to the control of reason and unsophisticated nature.” That the soul
of an infant is not depraved or polluted, he maintained from its proceeding immediately from God, (who alone is the Father of our spirits), and not from the parents, in the way of natural generation : hence, he pleaded that the soul must, in newborn infants, be pure and undefiled, and remain so till polluted by actual transgression. As to the other charge concerning the power of man to believe the gospel, or do the will of God, and obtain salvation, he did not exclude or deny the necessity of di. vine grace: what he held and said was, that it is possible for man to do the will of God, and refrain from sin, by the help of God, or through the assistance of his grace; even that grace that bringeth salvation, and that teacheih us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; by which he meant the divine revelation or the gospel. To that Austin loudly objected, calling it outward or external grace, and pleading for an inward, immediate and irresistible divine work separate from the gospel, and seemingly somewhat like what Mr. Fuller has been contending for, in his late dispute with Mr. M'Lean. The possibility of men's attaining to a sinless state by their diligent endeavours, and the help of God, Pelagius instanced in Abel, Enoch, Melchisedech, the Virgin Mary, &c. which Austin Hvould not allow, except in the case of the latter, who, as he supposed, had received extraordinary grace to enable her to overcome all sin; and so was not a case in point. The Pelagians pleaded, that God's commands are either possible or impossible, practicable or impracticable; if the former, sinless obedience is attainable; if the latter, disobedience cannot be blameable, as no one would think of imputing blame to the non-performance of impossibilities. Pelagius distinguished between articles of faith and mere matters of opinion; and he seemed to allow that an error in regard to the former would amount to heresy, but not so in regard to the latter: and he insisted that the points at issue, between him and his opponents, were entirely of the latter sort, and therefore his opinions, if erroneous, could not amount to heresy. Even in the point of original sin, the Catholics then selves, he said, bad entertained different opinions without censure: therefore he seemed to think it not a little strange and unreasonable that such a hubbub had been raised because he happened to think differently from Austin and Jerome. Being told at the Synod of Diospolis of some who broached certain absurd or silly notions, and asked, if he would condcmn or censure them, he said, “Yes, as fools. diot as hercties.”
Another great point in controversy between Pelagius and his opponents was infant baptism: not that he openly, or avowedly opposed that practice, but he denied that it procured the remission of sin, as he looked upon infants to be sinless. His enemies, indeed, thought or suspected that he was not in his heart an approver of infant baptism, in which they were very probably, not mistaken; as it is not very likely that the practice had ever been adopted in his native country: Austin, in several places, speaks as if he thought the Pelagians had a great mind to deny infant baptism, if they could have had the face: and « Marius Mercator would needs have it, that their inward sense was against it; only, to keep up their credit with Christians, they, in words and declarations, owned it:" which seems not unlikely. Pelagius himself, appears to have been but a timisk man, unwilling to expose himself uselessly, to the rage of bis opponents, or to put himself in the power of enemies who would have shewn him no mercy; at least, not without an explicit and full recantation. He knew his men, and the spirit of the times well; and therefore acted warily, and kept on his guard, as our Lord also did with his ensnaring enemies. Pelagius, indeed, is charged by his enemies with going beyond mere caution or guardedness, and even with having recourse to prevarication, evasion, and hypocrisy, for his own safety. If he did so, he was doubtless blameable; but even then, the conduct of his enemies, who forced him to it, must have been still far more so; and while they are accusing him, they are but publishing their own infamy. Whatever prevarication, evasion, or duplicity he might be guilty of, it was all owing to their base, intolerant, and persecuting conduct. Had they allowed him liberty of conscience, he would, no doubt, have declared his sentiments, without fear, disguise, or reserve. But when we consider that his gond name, his safety, his life and all were at stake, some grains of allowance may well be made for human weakness, or the frailty of a man in so undesirable, untoward and critical a situation.
All his precaution, however, did not avail him, but like the case of Paul in his last visit to Jerusalem, it seemed rather to increase the rage of his enemies. One of Austin's emissaries, named Orosius, followed him to Palestine, with letters of accusation and a hue and cry of heresy. In conseqence of which he was first exammed at a meeting or council of bishops held at Jerusalem, where Austin's letter against him was read by an interpreter, it being written in Latin : and when he was asked if the charges there exhibited were true, he answered, out of re