Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 7.--To Think the Soul Corporeal an Error.
But if you say to me, He has not taught me this; nor have I by any means given my assent to this erroneous opinion of his, however much I was enchanted by the sweetness of his eloquent and elegant discourse; then I earnestly thank God. Still I cannot help asking, why, even with kisses, as the report goes, you expressed your gratitude to him for having taught you what you were ignorant of, previous to hearing his discussion. Now if it be a false report which makes you to have done and said so much, then I beg you to be kind enough to give me this assurance, that the idle rumour may be stopped by your own written authority. If, however, it is true that you bestowed your thanks with such humility upon this man, I should rejoice, indeed, if he has not taught you to believe the opinion which I have already pointed out as a detestable one, and to be carefully avoided as such. Nor shall I find fault [IV.] if your humble thanks to your instructor were further earned by your having acquired from discussions with him some other true and useful knowledge. But may I ask you what it is? Is it that the soul is not spirit, but body? Well, I really do not think ignorance on such a point is any great injury to Christian learning; and if you indulge in more subtle disputes about the different kinds of bodily substance, I think the information you obtain is more difficult than serviceable. If, however, the Lord will that I should write to this young man himself, as I desire to do, then perhaps your loving self will know to what extent you are not indebted to him for your instruction; although you rejoice in what you have learnt from him. And now I request you not to feel annoyance in writing me an answer; so that what is clearly useful and pertinent to our indispensable faith may not by any chance turn out to be something different.