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Wesley on Pelagius

Here are the references to Pelagius in the writings of John Wesley. Wesley gave the man the benefit of the doubt.


"Nevertheless it is certain, that the gates of hell did never totally prevail against [the Church]. God always reserved a seed for himself; a few that worshipped him in spirit and in truth I have often doubted, whether these were not the very persons whom the rich and honorable Christians, who will always have number as well as power on their side, did not stigmatize, from time to time, with the title of heretics. Perhaps it was chiefly by this artifice of the devil and his children, that, the good which was in them being evil spoken of, they were prevented from being so extensively useful as otherwise they might have been. Nay, I have doubted whether that arch heretic, Montanus, was not one of the holiest men in the second century. Yea, I would not affirm, that the arch-heretic of the fifth century, (as plentifully as he has been bespattered for many ages,) was not one of the holiest men of that age, not excepting St. Augustine himself (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him, as George Fox himself.) I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.'

"'But St. Augustine says.’ When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than
Ipse dixit: 'St. Augustine said it.'"

— "The Wisdom of God's Counsels" Sermon #68.

"Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man. But we know nothing but his name; for his writings are all destroyed; not one line of them left."

— Letter CCVI. To Mr. Alexander Coates. July 7, 1761.

AN ASIDE: I believe we do have Pelagius’ commentary on the book of Romans, preserved (maybe, I’m not certain) by Jerome, don’t we?

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