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AUGUSTINE


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AUGUSTINE


means. No one falls into hell except by his own fault. Even infidels will be accountable for their infidelity. St. Thomas expresses the thought of all when he says: "It is the common teacliing that if a man bom among the barbarous and infidel nations really does what lies in his power, God will reveal to him what is necessarj- for salvation, either by interior inspirations or by sending him a preacher of the Faith" (In Lib. II Sententiarimi, dist. 23. Q. viii, a. 4, ad 4"™). We must not dissemble the fact that this law changes the whole aspect of Divine Providence, and that St. Augustine had left it too much in the shade, insisting only upon the other aspect of the problem: namely, that God. while making a sufficing appeal to all, is nevertheless not boimd to choose always that appeal which shall in fact be efficacious and shall be accepted, provided that the refusal of consent be due to the obstinacy of the sinner's will and not to its lack of power. Thus the Doctors most eagerly approved the a.xiom, Facienti quod in se est Detis non denegat gratiam — God does not refuse grace to one who does what he can.

Thirdly, from principles taught by Augustine con- sequences have been drawai which are clearly de- rived from them, but wliich he had not pointed out. Thus it is incontestably a principle of St. Augustine that no one sins in an act which he cannot avoid — "Quis enim peccat in eo quod caveri non potest?" This passage from "De libero arbitrio (III. xviii, n. 50) is anterior to the year 395; biu far from re- tracting it he approves and explains it, in 415, in the "De natura et gratia", lx\-ii, n. SO. From that pregnant principle theologians have concluded, first, that grace sufficient to conquer temptations never fails anyone, even an infidel; then, against the Jan- senists, they have added that, to deserve its name of sufficient grace, it ought to gi^•e a real power which is complete, even relatively to the actual difficulties. No doubt theologians have groped about, hesitated, even denied; but to-day there are very few who would dare not to recognize in St. Augustine the affirmation of the possibility of not sinning.

Fourthly, certain secondary assertions, which encumbered, but did not make part of the dogma, have been lopped off from the doctrine of Augustine. Thus the Church, which, with Augustine, has always denied entrance into Heaven to unbaptized children, has not adopted the severity of the great Doctor in condemning such children to bodily pains, however slight. And little by little the milder teaching of St. Thomas was to prevail in theologj' and was even to be vindicated against unjust censure when Pius VI condemned the pseudo-sj-nod of Pistoja. At last Au- gustine's obscure formultp were abandoned or cor- rected, so as to avoid regrettable confusions. Thus the expressions which seemed to identify original sin with concupiscence liave given way to clearer formulff without departing from the real meaning which Augustine sought to express.

Discussion, however, is not yet ended within the Church. On most of those points which concern especially the manner of the Divine action Thomists and Molinists disagree, the former holding out for an irresistible predetermination, the latter maintaining, with Augtistme.a grace whose infallible efficacy is re- vealed by the Divine knowledge. But both of these views affirm the grace of God and the liberty of man. The lively controversies aroused by the "Concordia" of Molina (158S) and the long conferences de aujriliis held at Rome, before Popes Clement VIII and Paul \', are well known. There is no doubt tliat a majority of the theologian-consultors thought they discovered an opposition between Molina and St. Au- gustine. But their verdict was not approved, and (what is of great importance in the historj' of .\u- gustinism) it is certain tliat they asked for the con-


demnation of doctrines which are to-day universally taught in all the schools. Thus, in the project of cen- sure reproduced by Serry (" Historia Congregationis de Auxiliis", append., p. 166) the first proposition is this: "In statu naturae laps^ potest homo, cum solo concursu generali Dei, efficere opus bonum morale, quod in ordine ad finem hominis naturalem sit verse \'irtutis opus, referendo illud in Deimi. sicut referri potest ac deberet in statu natural! (In the state of fallen nature man can with oijy the general con- cursus of God do a good moral work wliich may be a work of true \Trtue with regard to the natural end of man by referring it to God, as it can and ought to be referred in the natural state). Thus they sought to condemn the doctrine held by all the Scholastics (with the exception of Gregory of Rimini), and sanctioned since then by the condemnation of Proposition Ivii of Baius. For a long time it was said that the pope had prepared a Bull to condemn Molina; but to-day we learn from an autograph doc- ument of Paul V that liberty was left to the two schools until a new Apostolic decision was given (Sclmeeman "Controversiarum de Div. grat. ", ISSl, p. 289). Soon after, a third interpretation of Au- gustinism was offered in the Church, that of Noris, Belleli, and other partisans of moral predetermina- tion. This system has been called Augustinianism. To this school belong a nmnber of theologians who, with Thomassin, es.sayed to explain the infallible action of grace without admitting either the scientia media of the Molinists or the physical predetermina- tion of the Thomists. A detailed study of this inter- pretation of St. Augustine may be foimd in Vacant 's "Dictionnaire de th&logie catholique", I. cols. 2485- 2501; here I can only mention one verj- important dociument, the last in which the Holy See has ex- pressed its mind on the various theories of theologians for reconciling grace and hberty. This is the Brief of Benedict XIV (13 July, 1748) which declares that the three schools — Thomist, Augustinian (Xoris), and Molinist — have full right to defend their theories. The Brief concludes with these words: "This Apos- tolic See favours the liberty of the schools; none of the systems proposed to reconcile the liberty of man with the omnipotence of God has been thus far con- demned (op. cit., col. 2555).

In conclusion we mtist indicate briefly the official authority u-hich the Church attributes to St. Augustine in the questions of grace. Numerous and solemn are the eulogies of St. Augustine's doctrine pronounced by the popes. For instance, St. Gelasius I (1 Novem- ber, 493), St. Hormisdas (13 August, 520) Boniface II and the Fathers of Orange (529), John II (534), and many others. But the most important docu- ment, that wliich ought to serve to interpret all the others, because it precedes and inspires them, is the celebrated letter of .St. Celestine I (431), in which the pope guarantees not only the orthodoxy of Augustine against his detractors, but also the great merit of Iiis doctrine: "So great was his knowledge that my predecessors have always placed him in the rank of the masters", etc. This letter is accompanied by a series of ten dogmatic capitula the origin of which is imcertain,but wliich have always been regarded, at least since Pope Hormisdas. as expressing the faith of the Chm-ch. Now these extracts from African coimcils and pontifical decisions end with this re- striction: "As to the questions which are more pro- foimd and difficult, and wliich have given rise to these controversies, we do not think it necessary to impose the solution of them". — In presence of these docimients emanating from so high a sotirce. ought we to say that the Church has adopted all the teach- ing of St. Augustine on grace so that it is never per- missible to depart from that teaching? Tliree answers have been given: (a) For some, the authority of St. Augustine is absolute and irrefragable. The