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Augustine was the great forerunner to the Reformation and it was on books like this that Luther, Calvin, and the other magisterial Reformers cut their teeth.
"This treatise is the first portion of a work, of which the following, On the Gift of Perseverance, is the second... (these titles) were called out by two long letters, one from Prosper and the other from Hilary, acquainting Augustine with the Semi-Pelagian outbreak in Southern Gaul, and earnestly beseeching his aid in meeting it" (Editor's note).
The corrupted demon seed of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism (later being refined into Arminianism), being just newly planted by the wicked one in Augustine's day, has grown into a massive tree in our day. Its poison fruit now feeds most of the branches of ecclesiastical antichrist: from Rome, to the liberal Protestant churches and the cults, and now even reaching all the way into the very heart of so-called "evangelical" Protestant chruches (of all varieties).
This soul destroying heresy has reached pandemic proportions among professing "Christians" in our day. Ironically, this work of Augustine is probably more needed in our day than it was in his -- over a millennium and a half later.
A section of the subtitle provides an interesting overview of this treatise: "Wherein the truth of predestination and grace is defended against the Semi-Pelagians, -- those people, to wit, who by no means withdraw altogether from the Pelagian heresy, in that they contend that the beginning of salvation and of faith is of ourselves; so that in virtue, as it were, of this precedent merit (in man--RB), the other good gifts of God are attained."
The editor notes, "Augustine shows that not only the increase, but the very beginning also of faith, is God's gift. On this matter he does not disavow that he once thought differently, and that in some small works, written before his Episcopate, he was in error, as in that exposition, which they object to him, of propositions from the epistle to the Romans.
But he points out that he was subsequently convinced chiefly by this testimony, 'But what hast thou that thou hast not received?' Which he proves is to be taken as a testimony concerning faith itself..."
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