Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 7 [VII.]--Victor Entangles Himself in an Exceedingly Difficult Question. God's Foreknowledge is No Cause of Sin.
In another passage, also, on proposing for explanation the very same question in which he had entangled himself, he says, speaking in the person of certain objectors: |Why, they ask, did God inflict upon the soul so unjust a punishment as to be willing to relegate it into a body, when, by reason of its association with the flesh, that begins to be sinful which could not have been sinful?| Now, amidst the reefy sea of such a question, it was surely his duty to beware of shipwreck; nor to commit himself to dangers which he could not hope to escape by passing over them, and where his only chance of safety lay in putting back again -- in a word, by repentance. He tries to free himself by means of the foreknowledge of God, but to no purpose. For God's foreknowledge only marks beforehand those sinners whom He purposes to heal. For if He liberates from sin those souls which He Himself involved in sin when innocent and pure, He then heals a wound which Himself inflicted on us, not which He found in us. May God, however, forbid it, and may it be altogether far from us to say, that when God cleanses the souls of infants by the laver of regeneration, He then corrects evils which He Himself made for them, when He commingled them, which had no sin before, with sinful flesh, that they might be contaminated by its original sin. As regards, however, the souls which this calumniator alleges to have deserved pollution by the flesh, he is quite unable to tell us how it is they deserved so vast an evil, previous to their connection with the flesh.