The soul of the Pelagian system is human freedom; the soul of the Augustinian is divine grace.

Pelagius starts from the natural man, and works up, by his own exertions, to righteousness and holiness. Augustine despairs of the moral sufficiency of man, and derives the new life and all power for good from the creative grace of God.

The one system proceeds from the liberty of choice to legalistic piety; the other from the bondage of sin to the evangelical liberty of the children of God.

To the former Christ is merely a teacher and example, and grace an external auxiliary to the development of the native powers of man; to the latter he is also Priest and King, and grace a creative principle, which begets, nourishes, and consummates a new life.

The former makes regeneration and conversion a gradual process of the strengthening and perfecting of human virtue; the latter makes it a complete transformation, in which the old disappears and all becomes new.

The one loves to admire the dignity and strength of man; the other loses itself in adoration of the glory and omnipotence of God.

The one flatters natural pride, the other is a gospel for penitent publicans and sinners.

Pelagianism begins with self-exaltation and ends with the sense of self-deception and impotency. Augustinianism casts man first into the dust of humiliation and despair, in order to lift him on the wings of grace to supernatural strength, and leads him through the hell of self-knowledge up to the heaven of the knowledge of God.

The Pelagian system is clear, sober, and intelligible, but superficial; the Augustinian sounds the depths of knowledge and experience, and renders reverential homage to mystery.

The former is grounded upon the philosophy of common sense, which is indispensable for ordinary life, but has no perception of divine things; the latter is grounded upon the philosophy of the regenerate reason, which breaks through the limits of nature, and penetrates the depths of divine revelation.

The former starts with the proposition: Intellectus praecedit fidem; the latter with the opposite maxim: Fides praecedit intellectum.

Both make use of the Scriptures; the one, however, conforming them to reason, the other subjecting reason to them.

Pelagianism has an unmistakable affinity with rationalism, and supplies its practical side. To the natural will of the former system corresponds the natural reason of the latter; and as the natural will, according to Pelagianism, is competent to good, so is the natural reason, according to rationalism, competent to the knowledge of the truth.

All rationalists are Pelagian in their anthropology; but Pelagius and Coelestius were not consistent, and declared their agreement with the traditional orthodoxy in all other doctrines, though without entering into their deeper meaning and connection.

Even divine mysteries may be believed in a purely external, mechanical way, by inheritance from the past, as the history of theology, especially in the East, abundantly proves.

~Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church