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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20 [XVIII]—Why Children of Wrath are Born of Holy Matrimony.

This is the reason, indeed, why of even the just and lawful marriages of the children of God are born, not children of God, but children of the world; because also those who generate, if they are already regenerate, beget children not as chilp. 272 dren of God, but as still children of the world. “The children of this world,” says our Lord, “beget and are begotten.” 2132 From the fact, therefore, that we are still children of this world, our outer man is in a state of corruption; and on this account our offspring are born as children of the present world; nor do they become sons of God, except they be regenerated. 2133 Yet inasmuch as we are children of God, our inner man is renewed from day to day. 2134 And yet even our outer man has been sanctified through the laver of regeneration, and has received the hope of future incorruption, on which account it is justly designated as “the temple of God.” “Your bodies,” says the apostle, “are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, and which ye have of God; and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a great price: therefore glorify and carry God in your body.” 2135 The whole of this statement is made in reference to our present sanctification, but especially in consequence of that hope of which he says in another passage, “We ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” 2136 If, then, the redemption of our body is expected, as the apostle declares, it follows, that being an expectation, it is as yet a matter of hope, and not of actual possession. Accordingly the apostle adds: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” 2137 Not, therefore, by that which we are waiting for, but by that which we are now enduring, are the children of our flesh born. God forbid that a man who possesses faith should, when he hears the apostle bid men “love their wives,” 2138 love that carnal concupiscence in his wife which he ought not to love even in himself; as he may know, if he listens to the words of another apostle: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as also God abideth for ever.” 2139


Footnotes

272:2132

Luke xx. 34. Augustin quotes an interpolation current in the Latin Bibles of his day, and found also in certain Greek (D. Origen) and Syriac (Curetonian version) witnesses.

272:2133

See De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, ii. 11 [ix.].

272:2134

2 Cor. iv. 16.

272:2135

1 Cor. 6:19, 20. Note the odd interpolation “and carry,” which was a common Latin reading.

272:2136

Rom. viii. 23.

272:2137

Rom. 8:24, 25.

272:2138

Col. iii. 19.

272:2139

1 John ii. 15-17. The last clause, though not in Jerome’s Vulgate, was yet read by some of the Latin Fathers—by Cyprian and Lucifer, for instance, and something like it also by one of the Egyptian versions.


Next: Chapter 21

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