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HERETICS do away with marriages; Psychics accumulate them. The former many not even once; the latter not only once. What dost thou, Law of the Creator?

Between alien eunuchs and thine own grooms, thou complainest as much of the over-obedience of thine own household as of the contempt of strangers. They who abuse thee, do thee equal hurt with them who use thee not. In fact, neither is such continence laudable because it is heretical, nor such licence defensible because it is psychical. The former is blasphemous, the latter wanton; the former destroys the God of marriages, the latter puts Him to the blush. Among us, however, whom the recognition of spiritual gifts entitles to be deservedly called Spiritual, continence is as religious as licence is modest; since both the one and the other are in harmony with the Creator.

Continence honours the law of marriage, licence tempers it; the former is not forced, the latter is regulated; the former recognises the power of free choice, the latter recognises a limit. We admit one marriage, just as we do one God. The law of marriage reaps an accession of honour where it is associated with shamefastness. But to the Psychics, since they receive not the Spirit, the things which are the Spirit's are not pleasing. Thus, so long as the things which are the Spirit's please them not, the things which are of the flesh will please, as being the contraries of the Spirit. "The flesh," saith (the apostle), "lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." But what will the flesh "lust" after, except what is more of the flesh? For which reason withal, in. the beginning, it became estranged from the Spirit. "My Spirit," saith (God), "shall not permanently abide in these men eternally, for that they are flesh."


And so they upbraid the discipline of monogamy with being a heresy; nor is there any other cause whence they find themselves compelled to deny the Paraclete more than the fact that they esteem Him to be the institutor of a novel discipline, and a discipline which they find most harsh: so that this is already the first ground on which we must join issue in a general handling (of the subject), whether there is room for maintaining that the Paraclete has taught any such thing as can either be charged with novelty, in opposition to catholic tradition, or with burdensomeness, in opposition to the "light burden" of the Lord.

Now concerning each point the Lord Himself has pronounced. For in saying, "I still have many things to say unto you, but ye are not yet able to bear them: when the Holy Spirit shall be come, He will lead you into all truth," He sufficiently, of course, sets before us that He will bring such (teachings) as may be esteemed alike novel, as having never before been published, and finally burdensome, as if that were the reason why they were not published.

"It follows," you say, "that by this line of argument, anything you please which is novel and burdensome may be ascribed to the Paraclete, even if it have come from the adversary spirit." No, of course. For the adversary spirit would be apparent from the diversity of his preaching, beginning by adulterating the rule of faith, and so (going on to) adulterating the order of discipline; because the corruption of that which holds the first grade, (that is, of faith, which is prior to discipline,) comes first. A man must of necessity hold heretical views of God first, and then of His institution. But the Paraclete, having many things to teach fully which the Lord deferred till He came, (according to the pre-definition,) will begin by bearing emphatic witness to Christ, (as being) such as we believe (Him to be), together with the whole order of God the Creator, and will glorify Him, and will "bring to remembrance" concerning Him. And when He has thus been recognised (as the promised Comforter), on the ground of the cardinal rule, He will reveal those "many things" which appertain to disciplines; while the integrity of His preaching commands credit for these (revelations), albeit they be "novel," inasmuch as they are. now in course of revelation, albeit they be "burdensome," inasmuch as not even now are they found bearable: (revelations), however, of none other Christ than (the One) who said that He had withal "other many things" which were to be fully taught by the Paraclete, no less burdensome to men of our own day than to them, by whom they were then "not yet able to be borne."


But (as for the question) whether monogamy be "burdensome," let the still shameless "infirmity of the flesh" look to that: let us meantime come to an agreement as to whether it be "novel." This (even) broader assertion we make: that even if the Paraclete had in this our day definitely prescribed a virginity or continence total and absolute, so as not to permit the heat of the flesh to foam itself down even in single marriage, even thus He would seem to be introducing nothing of "novelty;" seeing that the Lord Himself opens "the kingdoms of the heavens" to "eunuchs," as being Himself, withal, a virgin; to whom looking, the apostle also--himself too for this reason abstinent--gives the preference to continence. ("Yes"), you say, "but saving the law of marriage." Saving it, plainly, and we will see under what limitations; nevertheless already destroying it, in so far as he gives the preference to continence. "Good," he says, " (it is) for a man not to have contact with a woman." It follows that it is evil to have contact with her; for nothing is contrary to good except evil. And accordingly (he says), "It remains, that both they who have wives so be as if they have not," that it may be the more binding on them who have not to abstain from having them. He renders reasons, likewise, for so advising: that the unmarried think about God, but the married about how, in (their) marriage, each may please his (partner). And I may contend, that what is permitted is not absolutely good. For what is absolutely good is not permitted, but needs no asking to make it lawful. Permission has its cause sometimes even in necessity. Finally, in this case, there is no volition on the part of him who permits marriage. For his volition points another way. "I will," he says, "that you all so be as I too." And when he shows that (so to abide) is "better," what, pray, does he demonstrate himself to "will," but what he has premised is "better?" And thus, if he permits something other than what he has "willed"--permitted not voluntarily, but of necessity--he shows that what he has unwillingly granted as an indulgence is not absolutely good. Finally, when he says, "Better it is to marry than to burn," what sort of good must that be understood to be which is better than a penalty? which cannot seem "better" except when compared to a thing very bad? "Good" is that which keeps this name per se; without comparison--I say not with an evil, but even--with some other good: so that, even if it be compared to and overshadowed by another good, it nevertheless remains in (possession of) the name of good. If, on the other hand, comparison with evil is the mean which obliges it to be called good; it is not so much "good" as a species of inferior evil, which, when obscured by a higher evil, is driven to the name of good. Take away, in Short, the condition, so as not to say, "Better it is to marry than to burn;" and I question whether you will have the hardihood to say, "Better (it is) to marry," not adding than what it is better. This done, then, it becomes not" better;" and while not "better," not "good" either, the condition being taken away which, while making it "better" than another thing, in that sense obliges it to be considered "good." Better it is to lose one eye than two. If, however, you withdraw from the comparison of either evil, it will not be better to have one eye, because it is not even good.

What, now, if he accommodatingly grants all indulgence to marry on the ground of his own (that is, of human) sense, out of the necessity which we have mentioned, inasmuch as "better it is to marry than to burn?" In fact, when he turns to the second case, by saying, "But to the married I officially announce--not I, but the Lord"--he shows that those things which he had said above had not been (the dictates) of the Lord's authority, but of human judgment. When, however, he turns their minds back to continence, ("But I will you all so to be,") "I think, moreover," he says, "I too have the Spirit of God;" in order that, if he had granted any indulgence out of necessity, that, by the Holy Spirit's authority, he might recall. But John, too, when advising us that "we ought so to walk as the Lord withal did," of course admonished us to walk as well in accordance with sanctity of the flesh (as in accordance with His example in other respects). Accordingly he says more manifestly: "And every (man) who hath this hope in Him maketh himself chaste, just as Himself withal is chaste." For elsewhere, again, (we read): "Be ye holy, just as He withal was holy "--in the flesh, namely. For of the Spirit he would not have said (that), inasmuch as the Spirit is without any external influence recognised as "holy," nor does He wait to be admonished to sanctity, which is His proper nature. But the flesh is taught sanctity; and that withal, in Christ, was holy.

Therefore, if all these (considerations) obliterate the licence of marrying, whether we look into the condition on which the licence is granted, or the preference of continence which is imposed. why, after the apostles, could not the same Spirit, supervening for the purpose of conducting disciplehood into "all truth" through the gradations of the times (according to what the preacher says, "A time to everything"), impose by this time a final bridle upon the flesh, no longer obliquely calling us away from marriage, but openly; since now more (than ever) "the time is become wound up,"--about 160 years having elapsed since then? Would you not spontaneously ponder (thus) in your own mind: "This discipline is old, shown beforehand, even at that early date, in the Lord's flesh and will, (and) successively thereafter in both the counsels and the examples of His apostles?

Of old we were destined to this sanctity. Nothing of novelty is the Paraclete introducing. What He premonished, He is (now) definitively appointing; what He deferred, He is (now) exacting." And presently, by revolving these thoughts, you will easily persuade yourself that it was much more competent to the Paraclete to preach unity of marriage, who could withal have preached its annulling; and that it is more credible that He should have tempered what it would have become Him even to have abolished, if you understand what Christ's "will" is. Herein also you ought to recognise the Paraclete in His character of Comforter, in that He excuses your infirmity from (the stringency of) an absolute continence.