Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 17 [XIV.]--He Shows that the Passages of Scripture Adduced by Victor Do Not Prove that Souls are Made by God in Such a Way as Not to Be Derived by Propagation: First Passage.
Here, perhaps, he may say that his opinion is backed by divine authority, since he supposes that he proves by passages of the Holy Scriptures that souls are not made by God by way of propagation, but that they are by distinct acts of creation breathed afresh into each individual. Let him prove this if he can, and I will allow that I have learnt from him what I was trying to find out with great earnestness. But he must go in quest of other defences, which, perhaps, he will not find, for he has not proved his point by the passages which he has thus far advanced. For all he has applied to the subject are to some extent undoubtedly suitable, but they afford only doubtful demonstration to the point which he raises respecting the soul's origin. For it is certain that God has given to man breath and spirit, as the prophet testifies: |Thus saith the Lord, who made the heaven, and founded the earth, and all that is therein; who giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk over it.| This passage he wishes to be taken in his own sense, which he is defending; so that the words, |who giveth breath to the people,| may be understood as implying that He creates souls for people not by propagation, but by insufflation of new souls in every case. Let him, then, boldly maintain at this rate that He does not give us flesh, on the ground that our flesh derives its original from our parents. In the instance, too, which the apostle adduces, |God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him,| let him deny, if he dares, that corn springs from corn, and grass from grass, from the seed, each after its kind. And if he dares not deny this, how does he know in what sense it is said, |He giveth breath to the people|? -- whether by derivation from parents, or by fresh breathing into each individual?