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It may admit of discussion, whether Semi-Pelagianism is not real Christianity.


In a certain lecture I said, that it would be easy, under the pretext of Pelagianism, to condemn all those things of which we do not approve, if we may invent half, quarter, three-fourths, four-fifths Pelagianism, and so upwards. And I added, that it might admit of discussion whether Semi-Pelagian is not real Christianity. By these remarks it was not my wish to patronize Pelagian doctrine; but I was desirous to intimate, that something might be accounted as Semi-Pelagianism which does not depart from the truth of Christian doctrine. For as, when a departure is once made from the truth, the descent towards falsehood becomes more and more rapid; so, by receding from falsehood, it is possible for men to arrive at truth, which is often accustomed to stand as the mean between two extremes of falsehood. Such indeed is the state of the matter in Pelagianism and Manicheism. If any man can enter on a middle way between these two heresies, he will be a true Catholic, neither inflicting an injury on Grace, as the Pelagians do, nor on Free Will as do the Manichees. Let the Refutation be perused which St. Augustine wrote against both these heresies, and it will appear that he makes this very acknowledgement. For this reason it has happened, that, for the sake of confirming their different opinions, St. Augustine’s words, when writing against the Manichees, have been frequently quoted by the Pelagians; and those which he wrote against the Pelagians, have been quoted by the Manichees.

This, therefore, is what I intended to convey; and that my brethren may understand my meaning, I declare openly, "that it will be quite as easy a task for me to convict the sentiments of some among them of Manicheism, and even of Stoicism, as they will be really capable of convicting others of Pelagianism, whom they suspect of holding that error." But I wish us all to abstain from odious names of this description, as they are employed without producing any benefit. For he who is accused will either deny that his sentiments are the same as those of Pelagius; or, if he acknowledges the existence of a similarity, he will say that Pelagius was wrongly condemned by the Church. It would be better then to omit these epithets, and to confer solely about the matter itself; unless, approaching to the opinion of the Papists, we hold that what has once been determined by the Church, cannot be drawn into controversy.

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