Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 3 [III.]--He Enumerates the Errors Which He Desires to Have Amended in the Books of Vincentius Victor. The First Error.
If you ask me what the particular errors are, you may read what I have written to our brethren, that servant of God Renatus, and the presbyter Peter, to the latter of whom you yourself thought it necessary to write the very works of which we are now treating, |in obedience,| as you allege, |to his own wish and request.| Now, they will, I doubt not, lend you my treatises for your perusal if you should like it, and even press them upon your attention without being asked. But be that as it may, I will not miss this present opportunity of informing you what amendments I desire to have made in these writings of yours, as well as in your belief. The first is, that you will have it that |The soul was not so made by God that He made it out of nothing, but out of His own very self.| Here you do not reflect what the necessary conclusion is, that the soul must be of the nature of God; and you know very well, of course, how impious such an opinion is. Now, to avoid such impiety as this, you ought so to say that God is the Author of the soul as that it was made by Him, but not of Him. For whatever is of Him (as, for instance, His only-begotten Son) is of the self-same nature as Himself. But, that the soul might not be of the same nature as its Creator, it was made by Him, but not of Him. Or, then, tell me whence it is, or else confess that it is of nothing. What do you mean by that expression of yours, |That it is a certain particle of an exhalation from the nature of God|? Do you mean to say, then, that the exhalation itself from the nature of God, to which the particle in question belongs, is not of the same nature as God is Himself? If this be your meaning, then God made out of nothing that exhalation of which you will have the soul to be a particle. Or, if not out of nothing, pray tell me of what God made it? If He made it out of Himself, it follows that He is Himself (what should never be affirmed) the material of which His own work is formed. But you go on to say: |When however, He made the exhalation or breath out of Himself, He remained at the same time whole and entire;| just as if the light of a candle did not also remain entire when another candle is lighted from it, and yet be of the same nature, and not another.