Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 24 [XV.]--Whether or No the Soul is Derived by Natural Descent (Ex Traduce), His Cited Passages Fail to Show.
Forasmuch, then, as the passages of Scripture which he mentions by no means show what he endeavours to enforce (since, indeed, they express nothing at all on the immediate question before us), what can be the meaning of these words of his: |We firmly maintain that the soul comes from the breath of God, not from natural generation, because it is given from God|? As if, forsooth, the body could be given from another, than from Him by whom it is created, |Of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things;| not that they are of His nature, but of His workmanship. |Nor is it from nothing,| says he, |because it comes forth from God.| Whether this be so, is (we must say) not the question to be here entertained. At the same time, we do not hesitate to affirm, that the proposition which he advances, that the soul comes to man neither out of descent nor out of nothing, is certainly not true: this, I say, we affirm to be without doubt not true. For it is one of two things: if the soul is not derived by natural descent from the parent, it comes out of nothing. To pretend that it is derived from God in such wise as to be a portion of His nature, is simply sacrilegious blasphemy. But we solicit and seek up to the present time some plain passages of Scripture bearing on the point, whether the soul does not come by parental descent; but we do not want such passages as he has adduced, which yield no illustration of the question now before us.