In his polemics against Pelagianism, Augustine had originally thought that his Platonist emphasis on the need for inner help to love the eternal Good would be sufficient, as illustrated in On the Grace of the New Testament (= Epistle 140). Also, he thought he could uphold free will by making the choice to believe dependent on our response to a merely external word, the “suitable call.” But when Pelagius argues that grace is given by external means (such as divine Law) and to those who merit it, Augustine must be clearer about the gratuity and prevenience of grace, and particularly about how the human choice to believe is brought about by the same inner grace as the human will to love. Grace is irresistible because it comes to us not as external word but as inner divine teaching.
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