He describes the pestilent error of the Pelagian.
At any rate we think that this fact ought not to be omitted, which was special and peculiar to thatheresy mentioned above which sprang from theerror of Pelagius; viz., that in saying thatJesus Christhad lived
as a mere man without any stain of sin, they actually went so far as to declare that men could also bewithoutsinif they liked. For they imagined that it followed that if Jesus Christbeing a mere man was
withoutsin,allmenalso could without the help of God be whatever He as a mere man without
participating in the Godhead, could be. And so they made out that there was no difference between anyman andour Lord Jesus Christ, as any man could by effort and striving obtain just the same as Christ hadobtained by His earnestness and efforts. Whence it resulted that they broke out into a more grievous andunnaturalmadness,and said thatour Lord Jesus Christhad come into this world not to bring redemption
tomankindbut to give an example of good works, to wit, that men, by following His teaching, and bywalking along the same path of virtue,might arrive at the same reward of virtue:thus destroying, as far as
they could, all the good of His sacred advent and all thegraceof Divine redemption, as they declared thatmen could by their own lives obtain just that whichGodhad wrought by dying for man'ssalvation.They
added as well that our Lord and Saviour became the Christ after His Baptism, and God after HisResurrection, tracing the former to themysteryof His anointing, the latter to the merits of His Passion.Whence this new author of aheresythat is not new, who declares that our Lord and Saviour was born amere man, observes that he says exactly the same thing which thePelagianssaid before him, and allowsthat it follows from hiserror that as he asserts thatour Lord Jesus Christlived as a mere man entirely
withoutsin, so he must maintain in hisblasphemythat allmencan of themselves be withoutsin,nor
would he admit that our Lord's redemption was a thing needful for His example, since men can (as theysay) reach the heavenly kingdom by their own exertions. Nor is there anydoubtabout this, as the thingitself shows us. For hence it comes that he encourages the complaints of thePelagiansby hisintervention, and introduces their case into his writings, because he cleverly or (to speak moretruly)cunningly patronizes them and by hiswickedliking for them recommends their mischievous teachingwhich is akin to his own, for he is well aware that he is of the same opinion and of the samespirit, andtherefore is distressed that aheresyakin to his own has been cast out of the church, as heknowsthat it
is entirely allied to his own inwickedness.
Chapter 4.Leporius together with some others recants his Pelagianism.
But still as those who were the outcome of this stock of pestilent thorns have already by the Divine helpand goodness been healed, we should also nowprayto our Lord God that as in some points that older heresyand this new one are akin to each other, He would grant a likehappyending to those which had a
like bad beginning. For Leporius, then amonk,now apresbyter , who followed the teaching or rather the
evil deedsof Pelagius, as we said above, and was among the earliest and greatest champions of theaforesaidheresyinGaul,was admonished by us and corrected byGod, and so nobly condemned his
former erroneous persuasion that his amendment was almost as much a matter for congratulation as isthe unimpairedfaithof many. For it is the best thing never to fall intoerror : the second best thing to make
a good repudiation of it. He then coming to himself confessed his mistake with grief but without shame notonly in Africa, where he was then and is now, but also gave to all the cities of Gaulpenitent letterscontaining his confession and grief; in order that his return to thefaithmight be madeknownwhere his
deviation from it had been first published, and that those who had formerly been witnesses of hiserror might also afterwards be witnesses of his amendment.
Chapter 5.By the case of Leporius he establishes the fact that an open sin ought to be expiated by an openconfession; and also teaches from his words what is the right view to be held on the Incarnation.
And from his confession or rather lamentation we have thought it well to quote some part, for tworeasons: that their recantation might be a testimony to us, and an example to those who are weak, andthat they might not be ashamed to follow in their amendment, themen whom they were not ashamed to