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Chapter VII.—The Rational Soul from God Himself; Chastity Not the Only Good, Although the Best and Most Honoured.

And perhaps there will be room for some to argue plausibly among those who are wanting in discrimination and judgment, that this fleshly garment of the soul, being planted by men, is shaped spontaneously apart from the sentence of God. If, however, he should teach that the immortal being of the soul also is sown along with the mortal body, he will not be believed; for the Almighty alone breathes into man the undying and undecaying part, as also it is He alone who is Creator of the invisible and indestructible. For, He says, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”25402540    Gen. ii. 7. And those artificers who, to the destruction of men, make images in human form, not perceiving and knowing their own Maker, are blamed by the Word, which says, in the Book of Wisdom, a book full of all virtue,25412541    [This language shows that it is not cited as Holy Scripture. It confirms St. Jerome’s testimony, Prolog. in Libros Salomonis.] “his heart is ashes, his hope is more vile than earth, and his life of less value than clay; forasmuch as he knew not his Maker, and Him that inspired into him an active soul, and breathed in a living spirit;”25422542    Wisd. xv. 10, 11. that is, God, the Maker of all men; therefore, also, according to the apostle, He “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”25432543    1 Tim. ii. 4. And now, although this subject be scarcely completed, yet there are others which remain to be discussed. For when one thoroughly examines and understands those things which happen to man according to his nature, he will know not to despise the procreation of children, although he applauds chastity, and prefers it in honour. For although honey be sweeter and more pleasant than other things, we are not for that reason to consider other things bitter which are mixed up in the natural sweetness of fruits. And, in support of these statements, I will bring forward a trustworthy witness, namely, Paul, who says, “So then he that giveth her25442544    His virgin. [St. Paul was married, and then a widower, in the opinion of many of the ancients. See Euseb., H. E., iii. 30.] in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.”25452545    1 Cor. vii. 38. Now the word, in setting forth that which is better and sweeter, did not intend to take away the inferior, but arranges so as to assign to each its own proper use and advantage. For there are some to whom it is not given to attain virginity; and there are others whom He no longer wills to be excited by procreations to lust, and to be defiled, but henceforth to meditate and to keep the mind upon the transformation of the body to the likeness of angels, when they “neither marry nor are given in marriage,”25462546    Matt. xxii. 30. according to the infallible words of the Lord; since it is not given to all to attain that undefiled state of being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,25472547    Matt. xix. 12. but manifestly to those only who are able to preserve the ever-blooming and unfading flower of virginity. For it is the custom of the prophetic Word to compare the Church to a flower covered and variegated meadow, adorned and crowned not only with the flowers of virginity, but also with those of child-bearing and of continence; for it is written, “Upon thy25482548    The bridegroom’s. right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about with divers colours.”25492549    Ps. xlv. 10 (xliv. 10, LXX.).

These words, O Arete, I bring according to my ability to this discussion in behalf of the truth.

And when Theophila had thus spoken, Theopatra said that applause arose from all the virgins approving of her discourse; and that when they became silent, after a long pause, Thaleia arose, for to her had been assigned the third place in the contest, that which came after Theophila. And she then, as I think, followed, and spoke.


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