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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

7. But whereas the Apostle, when commending the fruit of unmarried men and women, in that they have thought of the things of the Lord, how to please God, added and saith, “But this I say for your profit, not to cast a snare on you,” 2232 that is, not to force you; “but in order to that which is honorable;” we ought not, because he saith that the good of the unmarried is honorable, therefore to think that the bond of marriage is base; otherwise we shall condemn first marriages also, which neither Cataphryges, nor Novatians, nor their most learned upholder Tertullian dared to call base. But as, when he says, “But I say unto the unmarried and widows, that it is good for them if they shall have so continued;” 2233 assuredly he set down “good” for “better,” since every thing, which, when compared with a good, is called better, this also without doubt is a good; for what else is it that it is so called better, save that it is more good? and yet we do not on this account suppose him by consequence to have thought that it was an evil, in case they married, in that he said, “it is good for them, if they shall have so continued;” so also, when he says, “but in order to that which is honest,” he hath not shown that marriage is base, but that which was honester than (another thing also) honest, he hath commended by the name of honest in general. Because what is honester, save what is more honest? But what is more honest is certainly honest. Forsooth he plainly showed that this is better than that other that is good, where he says, “Whoso giveth to marry, doeth well; but whoso giveth not to marry, doeth better.” 2234 And this more blessed than that other that is blessed, where he saith, “But she shall be more blessed, if she shall have so continued.” 2235 As, therefore, there is than good a better, and than blessed a more blessed, so is there than honest an honester, which he chose to call honest. For far be it that that be base, of which the Apostle Peter speaking saith, “Husbands, unto your wives, as unto the weaker and subject vessel, give honor, as unto co-heirs of grace;” and addressing the wives, he exhorts them, by the pattern of Sarah, to be subject unto their husbands; “For so,” saith he, “certain holy women, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, obeying their own husbands; even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters ye are made, well-doing, and not fearing any disturbance.” 2236


Footnotes

443:2232

1 Cor. 7.351 Cor. vii. 35

443:2233

1 Cor. 7.81 Cor. vii. 8

443:2234

1 Cor. 7.381 Cor. vii. 38

443:2235

1 Cor. 7.40

443:2236

1 Pet. 3.5-71 Pet. iii. 5-7. [See R.V.]


Next: Section 8

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