Chapter 12 [VIII.]—How Did the Soul Deserve to Be Incarnated?
He also says some time afterwards: “The soul therefore, if it deserved to be sinful, although it could not have been sinful, yet did not remain in sin; because, as it was prefigured in Christ, it was bound not to be in a sinful state, even as it was unable to be.” 2410 Now, my brother, do you, I ask, really think thus? At any rate, have you formed such an opinion, after having read and duly considered his words, and after having reflected upon what extorted from you praise during his reading, and the expression of your gratitude after he had ended? I pray you, tell me what this means: “Although the soul deserved to be sinful, which could not have been sinful.” What mean his phrases, deserved and could not? For it could not possibly have deserved its alleged fate, unless it had been sinful; nor would it have been, unless it could have been, sinful,—so as, by committing sin previous to any evil desert, it might make for itself a position whence it might, under Gods desertion, advance to the commission of other sins. When he said, “which could not have been sinful,” did he mean, which would not have been able to be sinful, unless it came in the flesh? But how did it deserve a mission at all into a state where it could be sinful, when it could not possibly have become capable of sinning anywhere else, unless it entered that particular state? Let him, then, tell us how it so deserved. For if it deserved to become capable of sinning, it must certainly have already committed some sin, in consequence of which it deserved to be sinful again. These points, however, may perhaps appear to be obscure, or may be tauntingly said to be of such a character, but they are really most plain and clear. The truth is, he ought not to have said that “the soul deserved to become sinful through the flesh,” when he will never be able to discover any desert of the soul, either good or bad, previous to its being in the flesh.
See above, Book i. 8, and below, Book iii. 11.