Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 35
Chapter 35.—Desire in Paradise Was Either None at All, or It Was Obedient to the Impulse of the Will.
But whichever you choose of the two other alternatives, there is no necessity for striving against you with any disputation. For even if you should refuse to elect the fourth, in which there is the highest tranquillity of all the obedient members without any lust, since already the urgency of your arguments has made you hostile p. 388 to it; that will doubtless please you which I have put in the third place, that that carnal concupiscence, whose impulse attains to the final pleasure which much delights you, should never arise in Paradise except at the bidding of the will when it would be necessary for procreation. If it is agreeable to you to arrange this in Paradise, and if, by means of such a concupiscence of the flesh which should neither anticipate, nor impede, nor exceed the bidding of the will, it appears to you that children could have been begotten, I have no objection. For, as far as I am concerned in this matter, it is enough for me that such a concupiscence of the flesh is not now among men, as you concede there might have been in that place of happiness. For what it now is, the sense of all men certainly confesses, although with modesty; because it both solicits with excessive and importunate uneasiness the chaste, even when they are unwilling and are checking it by moderation, and frequently withdraws itself from the willing and inflicts itself on the unwilling; so that, by its disobedience, it testifies that it is nothing else than the punishment of that first disobedience. Whence, reasonably, both then the first men when they covered their nakedness, and now whoever considers himself to be a man, every no less modest than immodest person is confounded at it—far be it from us to say by the work of God, but—by the penalty of the first and ancient sin. You, however, not for the sake of religious reasoning, but for excited contention,—not on behalf of human modesty, but for your own madness, that even the concupiscence of the flesh itself should not be thought to be currupted, and original sin to be derived from it,—are endeavouring by your argument to recall it absolutely, such as it now is, into Paradise; and to contend that that concupiscence could have been there which would either always be followed by a disgraceful consent, or would sometimes be restrained by a pitiable refusal. I, however, do not greatly care what it delights you to think of it. Still, whatever of men is born by its means, if he is not born again, without doubt he is damned; and he must be under the dominion of the devil, if he is not delivered thence by Christ.
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