|« Prev||Chapter IX.||Next »|
That Christ came into the world, not only to instruct us, but also to free us from sin.
23. But what profits it that He should instruct us if He did not first restore us by His grace? Or are we not in vain instructed if the body of sin is not first destroyed in us, that we should no more serve sin? If all the benefit that we derive from Christ consists in the exhibition of His virtues, it follows that Adam must be said to harm us only by the exhibition of sin. But in truth the medicine given was proportioned to the disease. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. xv. 22). As is the one, so is the other. If the life which Christ gives is nothing else but His instruction, the death which Adam gave is in like manner only his instruction; so that the one 291by his example leads men to sin, the other by His example and His Word leads them to a holy life and to love Him. But if we rest in the Christian faith, and not in the heresy of Pelagius, and confess that by generation and not by example was the sin of Adam imparted to us, and by sin death, let us also confess that it is necessary for righteousness to be restored to us by Christ, not by instruction, but by regeneration, and by righteousness life (Rom. v. 18). And if this be so, how can Peter say that the only purpose and cause of the Incarnation was that He might enlighten the world by the light of His wisdom and inflame it with love of Him? Where, then, is redemption? There come from Christ, as he deigns to confess, merely illumination and enkindling to love. Whence come redemption and liberation?
24. Grant that the coming of Christ profits only those who are able to conform their lives to His, and to repay to Him the debt of love, what about babes? What light of wisdom will he give to those who have barely seen the light of life? Whence will they gain power to ascend to God who have not even learned to love their mothers? Will the coming of Christ profit them nothing? Is it of no avail to them that they have been planted together with Him by baptism in the likeness of His death, since through the weakness of their age they are not able to know of, or to love, Christ? Our redemption, he says, consists in that supreme love which is inspired in us by the passion of Christ. Therefore, infants have no redemption because they have not that supreme love. Perhaps he holds that as they have no power to love, so neither have they necessity to perish, that they have no need 292to be regenerated in Christ because they have received no damage from their generation from Adam. If he thinks this, he thinks foolishness with Pelagius. Whichever of these two opinions he holds, his ill-will to the sacrament of our salvation is evident; and in attributing the whole of our salvation to devotion, and nothing of it to regeneration, it is evident too that, as far as he can, he would empty of meaning the dispensation of this deep mystery; for he places the glory of our redemption and the great work of salvation, not in the virtue of the Cross, not in the blood paid as its price, but in our advances in a holy life. But God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. vi. 14), in which are our salvation, life, and resurrection.
25. And, indeed, I see three chief virtues in this work of our salvation: the form of humility in which God emptied Himself; the measure of charity which He stretched out even to death, and that the death of the Cross; the mystery of redemption, by which He bore that death which He underwent. The former two of these without the last are as if you were to paint on the air. A very great and most necessary example of humility, a great example of charity, and one worthy of all acceptation, has He set us; but they have no foundation, and, therefore, no stability, if redemption be wanting. I wish to follow with all my strength the lowly Jesus; I wish Him, who loved me and gave Himself for me, to embrace me with the arms of His love, which suffered in my stead; but I must also feed on the Paschal Lamb, for unless I eat His Flesh and drink His Blood I have no life in me. It is one thing to follow Jesus, another to hold Him, 293another to feed on Him. To follow Him is a life-giving purpose; to hold and embrace Him a solemn joy; to feed on Him a blissful life. For His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed. The bread of God is He who cometh down from Heaven and giveth life to the world (S. John vi. 56, 33). What stability is there for joy, what constancy of purpose, without life? Surely no more than for a picture without a solid basis. Similarly neither the examples of humility nor the proofs of charity are anything without the sacrament of our redemption.
26. These results of the labour of the hands of your son, my lord and father, you now hold, such as they are, against a few heads of this new heresy; in which if you see nothing besides my zeal, yet I have meanwhile satisfied my own conscience. For since there was nothing that I could do against the injury to the faith, which I deplored, I thought it worth while to warn him, whose arms are the power of God, for the destruction of contrary imaginations, to destroy every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. There are other points in his other writings, not few nor less evil; but the limits of my time and of a letter do not allow me to reply to them. Moreover, I do not think it necessary, since they are so manifest, that they may be easily refuted even by ordinary faith. Still, I have collected some and sent them to you.
|« Prev||Chapter IX.||Next »|