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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Chapter 19

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 19.—Description of the Duties of Temperance, According to the Sacred Scriptures.

35.  It is now time to return to the four virtues, and to draw out and prescribe a way of life in conformity with them, taking each separately.  First, then, let us consider temperance, which promises us a kind of integrity and incorruption in the love by which we are united to God.  The office of temperance is in restraining and quieting the passions which make us pant for those things which turn us away from the laws of God and from the enjoyment of His goodness, that is, in a word, from the happy life.  For there is the abode of truth; and in enjoying its contemplation, and in cleaving closely to it, we are assuredly happy; but departing from this, men become entangled in great errors and sorrows.  For, as the apostle says, "The root of all evils is covetousness; which some having followed, have made shipwreck of the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 96   And this sin of the soul is quite plainly, to those rightly understanding, set forth in the Old Testament in the transgression of Adam in Paradise.  Thus, as the apostle says, "In Adam we all die, and in Christ we shall all rise again." 97   Oh, the depth of these mysteries!  But I refrain; for I am now engaged not in teaching you the truth, but in making you unlearn your errors, if I can, that is, if God aid my purpose regarding you.

36.  Paul then says that covetousness is the root of all evils; and by covetousness the old law also intimates that the first man fell.  Paul tells us to put off the old man and put on the new. 98   By the old man he means Adam who sinned, and by the new man him whom the Son of God took to Himself in consecration for our redemption.  For he says in another place, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven, heavenly.  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, let us also bear the image of the heavenly,"  99 —that is, put off the old man, and put on the new.  The whole duty of temperance, then, is to put off the old man, and to be renewed in God,—that is, to scorn all bodily delights, and the popular applause, and to turn the whole love to things divine and unseen.  Hence that following passage which is so admirable:  "Though our outward man perish, p. 52 our inward man is renewed day by day." 100   Hear, too, the prophet singing, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." 101   What can be said against such harmony except by blind barkers?


Footnotes

51:96

1 Tim. vi. 10.

51:97

1 Cor. xv. 22.

51:98

Col. 3:9, 10.

51:99

1 Cor. xv. 47-49.

52:100

2 Cor. iv. 16.

52:101

Ps. li. 10.


Next: Chapter 20

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