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Chapter II.—The Protection of Chastity and Virginity Divinely Given to Men, that They May Emerge from the Mire of Vices.

Now I at least seem to perceive that nothing has been such a means of restoring men to paradise, and of the change to incorruption, and of reconciliation to God, and such a means of salvation to men, by guiding us to life, as chastity. And I will now endeavour to show why I think so concerning these things, that having heard distinctly the power of the grace already spoken of, you may know of how great blessings it has become the giver to us. Anciently, then, after the fall of man, when he was cast out by reason of his transgression, the stream of corruption poured forth abundantly, and running along in violent currents, not only fiercely swept along whatever touched it from without, but also rushing within it, overwhelmed the souls of men. And they,26102610    i.e., αἱ ψυχαί. continuously exposed to this, were carried along dumb and stupid, neglecting to pilot their vessels,26112611    The body. from having nothing firm to lay hold of. For the senses of the soul, as those have said who are learned in these things, when, being overcome by the excitements to passion which fall upon them from without, they receive the sudden bursts of the waves of folly which rush into them, being darkened turn aside from the divine course its whole vessel, which is by nature easily guided. Wherefore God, pitying us who were in such a condition, and were able neither to stand nor to rise, sent down from heaven the best and most glorious help, virginity, that by it we might tie our bodies fast, like ships, and have a calm, coming to an anchorage without damage, as also the Holy Spirit witnesses. For this is said in the hundred and thirty-sixth26122612    Ps. cxxxvii. E.V., and in Heb. [Does not our author follow the Hebrew here? I must think his reference here is to the cxxxvith Psalm as we have it. It is Eucharistic, and verses 10–16 seem to be specially referred to.] psalm, where the souls send joyfully up to God a hymn of thanksgiving,26132613    Or, Eucharistic hymn. as many as have been taken hold of and raised up to walk with Christ in heaven, that they might not be overwhelmed by the streams of the world and the flesh. Whence, also, they say that Pharaoh was a type of the devil in Egypt, since he mercilessly commanded the males to be cast into the river,26142614    Exod. i. 16. but the females to be preserved alive. For the devil, ruling26152615    Rom. v. 14. from Adam to Moses over this great Egypt, the world, took care to have the male and rational offspring of the soul carried away and destroyed by the streams of passions, but he longs for the carnal and irrational offspring to increase and multiply.


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