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23. The Apostle has made known to us certain three unions, Christ and the Church, husband and wife, spirit and flesh. Of these the former consult for the good of the latter, the latter wait upon the former. All the things are good, when, in them, certain set over by way of pre-eminence, certain made subject in a becoming manner, observe the beauty of order. Husband and wife receive command and pattern how they ought to be one with another. The command is, “Let wives be subject unto their own husbands, as unto the Lord; because the husband is the head of the wife;”18891889 Eph. v. 22–28 and, “Husbands, love your wives.” But there is given a pattern, unto wives from the Church, unto husbands from Christ: “As the Church,” saith he, “is subject unto Christ, so also wives unto their own husbands in all things.” In like manner also, having given command to husbands to love their own wives, he added a pattern, “As Christ loved the Church.” But husbands he exhorted to it from a lower matter also, that is, from their own body: not only from a higher, that is, from their Lord. 389For he not only saith, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church,” which is from an higher: but he said also, “Husbands ought to love their own wives, as their own bodies,” which is from a lower: because both higher and lower are all good. And yet the woman received not pattern from the body, or flesh, to be so subject to the husband as the flesh to the spirit; but either the Apostle would have understood by consequence, what he omitted to state: or haply because the flesh lusteth against the spirit in the mortal and sick estate of this life, therefore he would not set the woman a pattern of subjection from it. But the men he would for this reason, because, although the spirit lusteth against the flesh, even in this it consults for the good of the flesh: not like as the flesh lusting against the spirit, by such opposition consulteth neither for the good of the spirit, nor for its own. Yet the good spirit would not consult for its good, whether by nourishing and cherishing its nature by forethought, or by resisting its faults by continence, were it not that each substance showeth God to be the Creator of each, even by the seemliness of this its order. What is it, therefore, that with true madness ye both boast yourselves to be Christians, and with so great, perverseness contend against the Christian Scriptures, with eyes closed, or rather put out, asserting both that Christ hath appeared unto mortals in false flesh, and that the Church in the soul pertains to Christ, in the body to the devil, and that the male and female sex are works of the devil, not of God, and that the flesh is joined unto the spirit, as an evil substance unto a good substance?
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