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50V.

On Exhortation to Chastity. 506506    [Written, possibly, circa a.d. 204.]

[Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.]

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Chapter I.—Introduction.  Virginity Classified Under Three Several Species.

I doubt not, brother, that after the premission in peace of your wife, you, being wholly bent upon the composing of your mind (to a right frame), are seriously thinking about the end of your lone life, and of course are standing in need of counsel.  Although, in cases of this kind, each individual ought to hold colloquy with his own faith, and consult its strength; still, inasmuch as, in this (particular) species (of trial), the necessity of the flesh (which generally is faith’s antagonist at the bar of the same inner consciousness, to which I have alluded) sets cogitation astir, faith has need of counsel from without, as an advocate, as it were, to oppose the necessities of the flesh:  which necessity, indeed, may very easily be circumscribed, if the will rather than the indulgence of God be considered.  No one deserves (favour) by availing himself of the indulgence, but by rendering a prompt obedience to the will, (of his master).507507    Comp. c. iii. and the references there.  The will of God is our sanctification,508508    1 Thess. iv. 3. for He wishes His “image”—us—to become likewise His “likeness;”509509    Comp. 1 Cor. xi. 7, where the Greek is εἰκὼν καὶ δόξα. that we may be “holy” just as Himself is “holy.”510510    Lev. xi. 44; 1 Pet. i. 16.  That good—sanctification, I mean—I distribute into several species, that in some one of those species we may be found.  The first species is, virginity from one’s birth:  the second, virginity from one’s second birth, that is, from the font; which (second virginity) either in the marriage state keeps (its subject) pure by mutual compact,511511    Comp. 1 Cor. vii. 5; and ad Ux., b. i. c. vi. or else perseveres in widowhood from choice:  a third grade remains, monogamy, when, after the interception of a marriage once contracted, there is thereafter a renunciation of sexual connection.  The first virginity is (the virginity) of happiness, (and consists in) total ignorance of that from which you will afterwards wish to be freed:  the second, of virtue, (and consists in) contemning that the power of which you know full well:  the remaining species, (that) of marrying no more after the disjunction of matrimony by death, besides being the glory of virtue, is (the glory) of moderation likewise;512512    Comp. ad Ux., b. i. c. viii. for moderation is the not regretting a thing which has been taken away, and taken away by the Lord God,513513    Comp. Job i. 21. without whose will neither does a leaf glide down from a tree, nor a sparrow of one farthing’s worth fall to the earth.514514    Comp. Matt. x. 29.


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