Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Chapter 1
Concerning Two Souls, Against the Manichæans.
[De Duabus Animabus Contra Manichæos.] a.d. 391. 190
Chapter 1.—By What Course of Reasoning the Error of the Manichæans Concerning Two Souls, One of Which is Not from God, is Refuted. Every Soul, Inasmuch as It is a Certain Life, Can Have Its Existence Only from God the Source of Life.
1. Through the assisting mercy of God, the snares of the Manichæans having been broken to pieces and left behind, having been restored at length to the bosom of the Catholic Church, I am disposed now at least to consider and to deplore my recent wretchedness. For there were many things that I ought to have done to prevent the seeds of the most true religion wholesomely implanted in me from boyhood, from being banished from my mind, having been uprooted by the error and fraud of false and deceitful men. For, in the first place, if I had soberly and diligently considered, with prayerful and pious mind, those two kinds of souls to which they attributed natures and properties so distinct that they wished one to be regarded as of the very substance of God, but were not even willing that God should be accepted as the author of the other; perhaps it would have appeared to me, intent on learning, that there is no life whatsoever, which, by the very fact of its being life and in so far as it is life at all, does not pertain to the supreme source and beginning of life, 191 which we must acknowledge to be nothing else than the supreme and only and true God. Wherefore there is no reason why we should not confess, that those souls which the Manichæans call evil are either devoid of life and so not souls, neither will anything positively or negatively, neither follow after nor flee from anything; or, if they live so that they can be souls, and act as the Manichæans suppose, in no way do they live unless by life, and if it be an established fact, as it is, that Christ has said: "I am the life," 192 that all souls seeing that they cannot be souls except by living were created and fashioned by Christ, that is, by the Life.
Scarcely any one of his earlier treatises was more unsatisfactory to Augustin in his later Anti-Pelagian years than that Concerning Two Souls. In his Retractations, Book I., chapter xv., he recognizes the rashness of some of his statements and points out the sense in which they are tenable or the reverse. As regards the occasion of the writing, the following may be quoted: "After this book [De Utilitate Credendi] I wrote, while still a presbyter, against the Manichæans Concerning Two Souls, of which they say that one part is of God, the other from the race of darkness, which God did not found, and which is coeternal with God, and they rave about both these souls, the one good, the other evil, being in one man, saying forsooth that the evil soul on the one hand belongs to the flesh, which flesh also they say is of the race of darkness; but that the good soul is from the part of God that came forth, combated the race of darkness, and mingled with the latter; and they attribute all good things in man to that good soul, and all evil things to that evil soul."—A.H.N.]95:191
In his Retractations, Augustin explains this proposition as follows: "I said this in the sense in which the creature is known to pertain to the Creator, but not in the sense that it is of Him, so as to be regarded as part of Him."—A.H.N.95:192
John xiv. 6.
Next: Chapter 2
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