Pelagius (c. 390-418) was an Irish or British ascetic moralist, who became well known throughout the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. He was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His doctrine became known as Pelagianism.
On The Christian Life
- as translated by B. R. Rees in Pelagius: Life and Letters (Boydell Press: 2004)
- Their faith alone will not profit them, because they have not done works of righteousness.
- Unless a man has despised worldly things, he shall not receive those which are divine.
- Let no man judge himself to be a Christian, unless he is one who both follows the teaching of Christ and imitates his example.
- Do you consider a man to be a Christian by whose bread no hungry man is ever filled?
- He is a Christian
- who shows compassion to all,
- who is not at all provoked by wrong done to him,
- who does not allow the poor to be oppressed in his presence,
- who helps the wretched,
- who succors the needy,
- who mourns with the mourners,
- who feels another's pain as if it were his own,
- who is moved to tears by the tears of others,
- whose house is common to all,
- whose door is closed to no one,
- whose table no poor man does not know,
- whose food is offered to all,
- whose goodness all know and at whose hands no one experiences injury,
- who serves God all day and night,
- who ponders and meditates upon his commandments unceasingly,
- who is made poor in the eyes of the world so that he may become rich before God.
- He is a Christian ...
- who is seen to have no feigning or pretense in his heart,
- whose soul is open and unspotted,
- whose conscience is faithful and pure,
- whose whole mind is on God,
- whose whole hope is in Christ,
- who desires heavenly things rather than earthly.
Letter to Demetrias
- as translated by B. Rees, in Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 206-210
- Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and the conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature.
- We can never enter upon the path to virtue unless we have hope as our guide and companion.
- The best incentive for the mind consists in teaching it that it is possible to do anything which one really wants to do.
- We must now take precautions to prevent you from being embarrassed by something in which the ignorant majority is at fault for lack of proper consideration, and so from supposing with them, that man has not been created truly good simply because he is able to do evil. ... If you reconsider this matter carefully and force your mind to apply a more acute understanding to it, it will be revealed to you that man's status is better and higher for the very reason for which it is thought to be inferior: it is on this choice between two ways, on this freedom to choose either alternative, that the glory of the rational mind is based, it is in this that the whole honor of our nature consists, it is from this that its dignity is derived.