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XX.

(Lecture VI., page 185.)

AUGUSTINE’S TRANSLATION OF ἐφ᾽ ᾧ (Rom. v. 12).—HIS VIEWS ON “ORIGINAL SIN.”

Augustine’s version of this phrase is found abundantly, as elsewhere, in his treatise ‘De Peccatorum meritis et remissione,’ which, he says (Retract. ii., 23), he was “compelled to write against the new heresy of Pelagius.” 241Dealing with his own translation—in quo omnes peccaverunt—he applies the “quo” sometimes to “peccatum” and sometimes to Adam—“ille unus homo”—forgetful, apparently, as Migne points out in a note, that ἐφ᾽ ῷ, could not agree with ἀμαρτία—(Migne’s ed., x. 115). All modern scholars may be said to unite in the statement of Baur that, “grammatically, ἐφ᾽ ᾧ, cannot be taken in any other sense than ‘because,’” or, as he expands the meaning, “the fact being that;” or again, Alford (in loc.), “on condition that.”

“In the same treatise (L. III. c. iv.), Augustine discusses the question of original sin in relation to infants, and shows how plainly his whole views on this subject were dependent on his High Church or sacramentarian views as to the efficacy of baptism, and the consequent necessity of all infants being baptised in order to their salvation. His argument is as follows: Unless infants receive the benefit of the sacrament they are manifestly in danger of damnation. But damned they cannot be without sin. Now, since they have no sin of their own (“in vita propria”), it is necessary for us to credit them with original sin,—however unintelligible the mystery. It is enough to state this argument to show how entirely Augustine’s tone of thought, on this as on many other matters, is removed from a modern or rational point of view. A fiction of sacramental efficacy is made the basis of an absurd argument. The name of Augustine, as I have said in the text, must always be held in respect; he possessed a profound spiritual nature and many noble qualities; but either as a writer or a thinker, there are 242few men who should be followed more cautiously. And never, certainly, should we allow the great apostle to speak to us only through his voice.

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