As the quotation in the body of your question points out, St. Augustine deduced from the New Testament texts the following definition: "Predestination is the foreknowledge and the preparation of those gifts of God whereby they who are delivered are most certainly delivered."(1) In this definition the word "foreknowledge" is not taken as meaning that God foresees the merits of the elect, but that He foreknows and prepares the gifts by which the elect will actually be saved in the order of execution. "By His predestination, God foreknew what He had to do,"(2) so as to direct His elect infallibly to eternal life. Here Augustine is echoing our Lord's words: "My sheep . . . shall not perish for ever. And no man shall pluck them out of My hand." (3)
According to St. Augustine, predestination presupposes a decisive and definite will on God's part to sanctify and freely save all the elect. (4) God knows them individually and He wills to have them perform meritoriously acts that are required for entering heaven. He wills to give them the grace to persevere until the end. “..It is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish according to His good will."(5) The fact that God foresees our salutary and meritorious acts presupposes, according to the teaching of St. Augustine, the decree of the divine will as regards these acts. (6)
Far be it that man should have the power to frustrate the intention
of the omnipotent Being who has foreknowledge of all things. These
have but a faint conception of so great a question or what they have
does not suffice, who think that the omnipotent God wills something
and is powerless to effect it because of weak man preventing Him.
Augustine says that God’s will is omnipotent and efficacious (most efficacious).(7) We read in one of his treatises as follows: "There is no doubt that human wills cannot resist (in sensu composito) the will of God, who hath done whatsoever He willed in heaven and on earth, in that He does what He wills and when He wills. Undoubtedly He has the power to move the human heart to submit, as it pleases Him, to His omnipotent will."(8) From this we see that, in St. Augustine's view, the decrees of the divine will are infallible not because God foreknows that we will give our consent, but because He is omnipotent. He also says: "The wills of men are more in God's power than in their own."(9) In another of his works he says: "There is no doubt that we will whenever we will, but He is the cause of our willing what is good; . . . there is no doubt that we act whenever we act, but He is the cause of our acting, by most efficaciously strengthening our will."(10) Still more clearly when speaking professedly on this subject of predestination, he says that "no one who is hardened in heart rejects grace, because it is primarily given to remove this hardness of heart.''(11)
St. Augustine repeatedly teaches and stresses that predestination is gratuitous. In discussing the gift of perseverance, he says: "Of two children equally held captive by original sin, why is one taken and the other left? And of two wicked persons already advanced in years, why is one called and the other not? All this pertains to the inscrutable judgments of God."(12) He also says: "Why God draws this one and not that other, seek not to judge, if thou wilt not err."(13) What precisely constitutes the crux of the mystery, according to St. Augustine's opinion, is man's inability to find out the reasons for the divine choice. He is continually harking back to this impossibility, and his opponents find no avenue of escape from it. This impossibility is a pledge of his fidelity to the teaching of St. Paul. It is, so to speak, the theme of his teaching. (14)
As a Doctor of the Church, Augustine greatly developed the Catholic doctrine of predestination. The fathers previous to the time of St. Augustine, especially the Greek fathers, often interpreted predestination as meaning the will to give glory after this life. They scarcely spoke of it except by way of exhortation, and then they had in mind the preconceived order of execution in which merits precede glory, whereas as intended by God it happens in the inverse order. (15) In the order of intention God wills the end before the means; that is why He wills to save the good thief to whom He grants the grace of final perseverance. But in the order of execution He gives eternal life as the reward of meritorious acts. This distinction between intention and execution was only gradually applied to the problem of predestination. At first it was applied obscurely by St. Augustine, and then more and more explicitly by the Scholastic theologians.
Predestination, (16) as is defined by the Church, has not been infrequently met with the heresy of predestinarianism:
The essence of this heretical Predestinarianism (17) may be expressed in these two fundamental propositions which bear to each other the relation of cause and effect:
• the absolute will of God as the sole cause of the salvation or damnation of the individual, without regard to his merits or demerits;
• as to the elect, it denies the freedom of the will under the influence of efficacious grace while it puts the reprobate under the necessity of committing sin in consequence of the absence of grace.
The Church’s defense of St. Augustine’s doctrine of gratuitous free will clarifies to us what the Church has persistently taught, first of all against predestinarianism, and then against Calvinism, Bajanism, and Jansenism.
In the fifth century, Lucidus, a priest of the Catholic Church who was accused of having taught predestinarianism or predestination to evil, made a retractation of his teaching in the Council of Arles, which was held in the year 473. His opinion, as formulated by the council, reads as follows: "That Christ the Lord, our Savior, did not die for the salvation of all mankind; . . . that God's foreknowledge forcibly impels man to everlasting death, or that those who are lost, are lost by God's will. . . . Likewise I reject the opinion of one who says that some are destined to everlasting death and others are predestined to everlasting life."(18) In his retraction, Lucidus affirmed that he who is lost could have been saved. (19)
Council of Quierzy (853)
Canon 1 - That God wills in a certain way to save all men
Canon 2 - That there is no such thing as predestination to evil, but that God decreed from all eternity to inflict the penalty of damnation for the sin of final impenitence, a sin which He foresaw and in no way caused but merely permitted.
Canon 3 - Almighty God wills without exception, all men to be saved, though not all are saved. That some are saved, however, is the gift of Him who saves; if some perish, it is the fault of them that perish.
The 3rd Council of Valence (855) insisted more strongly on the gratuity of predestination to eternal life in so far as it is distinct from simple foreknowledge, for this latter also extends to evil. According to the declarations of this council, the least good and the least punishment that is justly inflicted, never occur without a positive and infallible decree from God, and no sin is committed, and nowhere by preference, without His foreknowledge and permission.(20)
Council of Langres (859)
Canon 1 - Whatsoever the Lord pleased He hath done in heaven and on earth. For nothing is done in heaven or on earth, except what He Himself is pleased to do, or justly permits to be done. This means that all good things, whether easy or difficult to accomplish, whether natural or supernatural, come from God, and that sin does not occur, nor in this one rather than in the other, without His divine permission.
Canon 2 - God wills all men to be saved and no one to perish. . . nor after the fall of the first man is it His will forcibly to deprive man of free will.
Canon 3 - That those, however, who are walking in the path of righteousness, may continue to do so and persevere in their innocence, He heals and aids their free will by grace.
Canon 4 - They who go far from God, who is desirous of gathering the children of Jerusalem that wills it not, will perish.
Canon 5 - Hence it is because of God's grace that the world is saved; and it is because man has free will that the world be judged.
Canon 6 - Adam, through willing what is evil, lost the power to do what is good. . . . Wherefore the whole human race became a mass of perdition. If no one had been rescued from it, God's justice would not have been to blame. That many are saved, however, is due to God's ineffable grace.
This last statement echoes what St. Augustine said. Thus at the end of these conferences of the ninth century, the bishops, assembled in council at Thuzey, rejected absolutely the theory of predestination to evil and affirmed God's universal will to save, as Prosper had done. God never commands the impossible, but He wills to make it possible for all to fulfil His precepts and obtain salvation. That is what all the bishops assembled in this last mentioned council affirmed with SS. Augustine and Prosper. But they do not deny the other aspect of the mystery, which is: the absolute gratuity of predestination, of true predestination as opposed to reprobation.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this teaching of the Church was confirmed both by the decisions of the Council of Trent against the errors of Protestantism and by the condemnation of Jansenism. The Church again declares that man, though having contracted the stain of original sin, is free to do good by the aid of grace, consenting to co-operate with it, though at the same time he can resist it.(21) From this it follows that God predestines no one to evil;(22) but He wills, on the contrary, the salvation of all men; and Christ dies for all, although all do not receive the benefit that is the fruit of His death, "but only those to whom the merit of His passion is communicated."(23) In the case of adults good works are necessary for salvation, and, in the order of execution, heavenly glory is the reward granted at the end of their probation for meritorious acts.
It is likewise declared against Jansenism that Christ did not die only for the predestined, or only for the faithful; (24) that there is a grace which is truly sufficient, and which makes the fulfilment of God's precepts possible for all those on whom these precepts are imposed. The Church, quoting the words of St. Augustine, says again in refuting the Protestants and Jansenists: "God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able to do."(25) She also says that "God does not abandon the just without previously having been abandoned by them. That some perish, is the fault of those who perish." (26)
Holy Scripture expressed the same thought in these words: "Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me."(27)
- De dono persever., chap. 14.
- De praed. sanct., chap. 10.
- John 10: 27-28.
- Cf. Enchiridion, chap. 100, no. 26
- Phil. 2: 13; cf. De praed. sanct., XVIII, 41; De dono persever., XXIII, 63.
- De dono persever., XVII, 41, 47; XIX, 48; XX, 50; De praed. sanct., XVII, 34; XVIII, 37.
- Cf. Enchiridion, chaps. 95 ff
- De correptione et gratia, chap. 14.
- Ibid., cf. De civitate Dei, V, 9.
- De gratia et libero arbitrio, chap. 16.
- De praed. Sanct., chap. 8. In his tractae ad Simplicandum, Bk. I, q.2, no. 13, St. Augustine speaks of a congruent grace that is adapted to the dispositions of the individual, these being known by God
- De dono persever., chap.9
- In Joan., tr. 26
- De dono persever., VIII, 17; IX, 12, 21; XI, 25; XII, 30. De praed. sanct., VIII, 16; XIV, 26. De correptione et gratia, VIII, 17, 19(in the order of execution).
- Cf. Dict. de Théol. Cath., art. "Prédestination," by Father Simonin, O.P.
- http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma.php, no. 316
- http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma.php, nos. 321-22.
- Ibid., no. 797; d. no. 816
- Ibid., no. 827.
- Ibid., no. 795.
- Ibid., nos. 1096, 1294, 1380 ff.
- Ibid., no. 804.
- Ibid., nos. 804. 806, 1794.
- Hosea 13:9