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AUGUSTIKE


101


AUGUSTINE


to compare with the Council of Trent in the matter of moderation, Arminianism triumphed over the Calvinistic thesis.

We must note here that even Protestant critics, with a loyalty which does them honour, have in these latter times vindicated Augustine from the false interpretations of Calvin. Dorner, in his "Gesch. der prot. Th^ologie", had already shown the instinctive repugnance of Anglican theologians to the horrible theories of Calvin. W. Cunningham (Saint Austin, p. S2 sqq.) has very frankly called attention to the complete doctrinal opposition on fundamental points wliich exists between the Doctor of Hippo and the French Reformers. In the first place, as regards the state of human nature, which is, according to Calvin, totally depraved, for Catholics it is very difficult to grasp the Protestant conception of original sin which, for Calvin and Luther, is not, as for us, the moral degradation and the stain imprinted on the soul of every son of Adam by the fault of the father which is imputable to each member of the family. It is not the deprivation of grace and of all other super- natural gifts; it is not even concupiscence, understood in the ordinary sense of the word, as the struggle of base and selfish instincts against the virtuous tend- encies of the soul; it is a profound and complete subversion of human nature; it is the physical altera- tion of the very substance of our soul. Our faculties, understanding, and will, if not entirely destroyed, are at least mutilated, powerless, and chained to evil. For the Reformers, original sin is not a sin, it is the sin, and the permanent sin, living in us and causing a continual stream of new sins to spring from our nature, which is radically corrupt and evil. For, as our being is evil, every act of ours is equally evil. Thus, the Protestant theologians do not ordi- narily speak of the sins of mankind, but only of the sin, which makes us what we are and defiles every- thing. Hence arose the paradox of Luther: that even in an act of perfect charity a man sins mortally, because he acts with a vitiated nature. Hence that other paradox: that this sin can never be effaced, but remains entire, even after justification, although it will not be any longer imputed; to efface it, it would be necessary to modify physically this human being which is sin. Calvin, without going so far as Luther, has nevertheless insisted on this total corruption. "Let it stand, therefore, as an indubitable truth which no engines can shake", says he (Institution II, v, § 19), " that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God that he cannot con- ceive, desire, or design anj'thing but what is weak, distorted, foul, impure, or iniquitous, that his heart is so thoroughly environed by sin that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound witFi the fetters of wickedness". "Now", says Cunningham, "this doctrine, whatever there may be to be said for it, is not the doctrine of Saint Austin. He held that sin is the defect of a good nature which retains ele- ments of goodness, even in its most diseased and corrupted state, and he giv-es no countenance, what- ever to tlds modern opinion of total depravity". It is the same with Calvin's affirmation of the irre- sistible action of God on the will. Cunningham shows that these doctrines are irreconcilable with liberty and responsibility, whereas, on the contrary, "St. .'Vustin is careful to attempt to harmonize the belief in God's omnipotence with human responsibility" (St. Austin, p. 86). The Council of Trent was there- fore faithful to the true spirit of the African Doctor, and maintained pure August inism in the bosom of the Church, by its definitions against the two op- posite excesses. Against Pelagianism it reaffirmed original sin and the absolute necessity of grace


(Sess. VI, can. 2); against Protestant predestination- ism it proclaimed the freedom of man, with his double power of resisting grace {posse dissentire si velit — Sess. VI, can. 4) and of doing good or evil, even be- fore embracing the Faith (can. 6 and 7).

In the seventeenth century Jansenism adopted, while modifying it, the Protestant conception of original sin and the state of fallen man. No more than Luther did the Jansenists admit the two orders, natural and supernatural. All the gifts which Adam had received — immortality, knowledge, integrity, sanctifying grace — are absolutely required by the nature of man. Original sin is, therefore, again re- garded as a profound alteration of human nature. From which the Jansenists conclude that the key to St. Augustine's s;/stcm is to be found in the essential difference of the Divine government and of grace, before and after the Fall of Adam. Before the Fall Adam enjoyed complete liberty, and grace gave him the power of resisting or obeying; after the Fall there was no longer in man liberty properly so called; there was only spontaneity (libertas a coactione, and not libertas a necessitate). Grace, or delectation in the good, is essentially efficacious, and necessarily vic- torious once it is superior in degree to the opposite concupiscence. The struggle, which was prolonged for two centuries, led to a more profound study of the Doctor of Hippo and prepared the way for the definite triumph of Augustinism, but of an Augustin- isni mitigated in accordance with laws which we must now indicate.

(3) Laws ivhich governed the mitigation of Au- gustinism. — In spite of what Protestant critics may have said, the Church has always been faithful to the fundamental principles defended by Augustine against the Pelagians and Semipelagians, on original sin, the necessity and gratuity of grace, the absolute dependence on God for salvation. Nevertheless, great progress was made along the line of gradual mitigation. For it cannot be denied that the doc- trine formulated at Trent, and taught by all our theologians, produces an impression of greater suavity and greater clarity than this or that passage in the works of St. Augustine. The causes of this softening down, and the successive phases of this progress were as follows: —

First, theologians began to distinguish more clearly between the natural order and the super- natural, and hence the Fall of Adam no longer ap- peared as a corruption of human nature in its con- stituent parts; it is the loss of the whole order of supernatural elevation. St. Thomas (Summa, I, Q. Ixxxv, a. 1) formulates the great law of the pres- ervation, in guilty Adam's children, of all the fac- ulties in their essential integrity: "Sin (even original) neither takes away nor diminishes the natural en- do winents". Thus the most rigorist Thomists, Alvarez, Lemos, Contenson. agree with the great Doctor that the sin of Adam has not enfeebled {intrinsece) the natural moral forces of humanity.

Secondly, such consoling and fundamental truths as God's desire to save all men, and the redeeming death of Christ which was really offered and ac- cepted for all peoples and all individuals — these truths, which Augustine never denied, but which he left too much in the background and as it were hidden under the terrible formulas of the doctrine of predestination, have been placed in the full light, have been developed, and applied to infidel nations, and have at last entered into the ordinary teaching of theology. Thus our Doctors, without detracting in the least from the sovereignty and justice of God, have risen to the highest idea of His goodness: thai God so sincerely desires the salvation of all as to give absolutely to all, immediately or mediately, the means necessary for salvation, and always with the desire that man should consent to employ those